I move:

"That the Dáil is of opinion that the purchase and division of land under the Land Act, 1923, and previous Land Acts, should be expedited so that tenants and congests shall be dealt with as soon as possible."

Nuair a cuireas sios an tairisginte seo seárd a bhí fúm ná a chur ós cómhair na Dála agus an Aire go h-airithe an mí-shuáineas atá ar fud na tíre mar gheall ar chómh mall is atá an Coimisiún um talman ag obair. B'fhéidir go bhfuil fáth eigin leis, agus go mbeadh an tAire in ann a mhiniú acht níl fhios agam-sa cé'n fáth atá leis, agus níl fhios ag muinntir ne tíre. Nuair a bhí an sean bhórd ag obair in Iarthar na h-Éireann ba mhinic a choinnigheadar an talamh ar feadh deich mbliadna nó cúig bhliadhna déag sul ar thosuigheadar ar a roinnt ar na daoiní. Bhitheas ag súil le athrú ar an sgéal nuair a ghlac an Coimisiún le obair an sean Bhuird, acht tá an sgéal céadna aca san. Tá na feilmeacha móra ann agus tá na daoine ag féachaint ortha mar a bhiodar leis na cianta agus tá an Coimisiúin um talmhain chomh raghin, mall, is a bhí an sean-bhord aon lá ariamh.

My object in putting down this motion for discussion was to draw the attention of the Government, and of the Minister for Lands and Agriculture in particular, to the very grave discontent that exists throughout the Saorstát, and particularly in the western counties, because of the dilatory methods of the Land Commission in dealing with the division and distribution of land. When the 1923 Act was passed it was assumed, and rightly assumed, I think, that the Government meant to tackle this problem in a really serious and determined manner. The advantages that the Act would confer on the country were penned in the most brilliant colours, and promises were held out to the people that its provisions would be in full effect in the course of two or three years at the outside. These promises have not materialised, with the result that a feeling almost akin to despair is beginning to take possession of the minds of many people.

In the debate on the Land Commission Estimates this year the Minister for Lands and Agriculture stated that in his opinion the Land Commission was moving rather too quickly in this matter, and he advocated a slower pace. At the time I thought that that was an extraordinary statement, and it certainly caused a great deal of uneasiness and dissatisfaction in many quarters. There might have been some justification for such a policy in the days of the Congested Districts Board, whose function ostensibly was to acquire land for the provision of economic holdings for the small farmer, but in reality was intended only to play with the problem. Under the new conditions, however, brought about by the establishment of the Saorstát Government and the change of outlook, such a condition of things cannot and should not be tolerated. The problem, particularly in the West, is too serious to be toyed with any longer, and the tenants and congests are certainly in no humour to endure a further period of delay. Most Deputies, particularly Deputies from the western counties, realise only too well how keenly this question is agitating the minds of the people and how necessary it is that immediate steps should be taken in order to speed up the work of land distribution.

The Minister may quote an elaborate array of figures in order to show the amount of preliminary work the Land Commission is doing. He did quote figures extensively in the debate on this year's Agricultural Estimates, figures designed to show the amount of land that had actually been inspected by the Commission, the amount of land that had actually been valued, and the amount of land that had actually been divided, and for which land purchase agreements had been signed. These figures undoubtedly looked very formidable on paper, but after all they carried no conviction to the minds of the ordinary small landholders throughout the country, who want to see some tangible, practicable evidence of the Minister's policy. They want to have the lands divided, and divided immediately, and no other argument will convince them of the effectiveness of the work of the Land Commission. I quite appreciate and realise that in highly technical and difficult work of this kind, the work involved in land distribution, it is undoubtedly a work of great magnitude and that many difficulties have to be overcome, difficulties which perhaps the ordinary Deputy is not aware of, and difficulties certainly that the ordinary small farmer does not understand. But after due allowance has been made for all these factors, I still feel that the problem is not being tackled in a really serious and determined way, and I also feel that the formalities that have got to be gone through before the land finally passes into the possession of the new owners are too elaborate, and that it might be possible to co-ordinate these processes in some way in order to speed up the work of land division. There are very numerous instances in the West, particularly in the congested counties, where land was acquired by the C.D.B. some ten, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, and in some cases fifteen and seventeen years ago, and has not yet been divided. Two cases from my own county will suffice to illustrate the point I wish to make in that connection. In the first case, land was acquired by the Congested Districts Board in 1912 and has not yet been divided, and the area in which this estate is situated is probably one of the most congested and one of the poorest in the whole County Sligo. In the other case the land was acquired by the Congested Districts Board in 1913, and is still a grazing ranch.

Would the Deputy give the names of these estates?

One is the Phibbs Estate and the other is the Knox Estate. In the second case, as I said, the land was acquired in 1913 and is still a grazing ranch, while the small farmers in the area, the people who will, in the ordinary course of events, get holdings of land on this estate when it is divided, are paying exorbitant rents for conacre lettings for tillage purposes, and in many instances they have to travel several miles in order to secure these lettings. While I have raised this question in a general way, and while I am anxious to have the question of land distribution discussed in the most general way, I am specially interested in the congested districts, because I happen to represent a constituency in one of these districts. I think Deputies will agree that the problem there is somewhat different from the problem in the other counties. The land is poorer, the struggle for existence is harder, and the general standard of life is perhaps lower in the congested districts than in other more favoured parts of the country.

During the British regime quite a number of commissions, I think six or eight in all, were set up from time to time in order to deal with this problem of congestion, and although they differed in their views of certain aspects of this question, they all agreed at least in this, that the first step in the relief of congestion was to get the people economic holdings. During the period of its existence the Congested Districts Board acquired a considerable amount of land. I have not the actual acreage at the moment, and I do not like to risk quoting figures off-hand, but only a very small percentage of that land was actually divided amongst the people. As a rule it was let out for grazing and other purposes, and a stock manager was appointed in charge of it. Large profits were made on these farms, and it was generally understood, and is, I think, still generally understood, that these profits were to be utilised for the purpose of reducing the re-sale price to the tenant. I shall be glad to have an assurance from the Minister that that is still so, and that proper balance sheets are available for each of these estates. I raise that point because there is a great deal of misunderstanding in the country in connection with this particular matter, and I think the Minister should avail of the opportunity in replying to dispose of or dispel this misunderstanding.

In order to give the Dáil an idea of the strength of feeling that exists in connection with the distribution of land in the West I will just read one resolution of a mild type that I have received. This is the resolution passed by a certain organisation:

"That we, the members of... appeal to Deputies to bring pressure on the Minister for Lands to have the following ranches in our parish taken over and distributed amongst uneconomic landholders who are already starved for land to till for food for themselves and their families."

One of these ranches was taken over by the Congested Districts Board in 1912. The Minister took a note of it a moment ago. That is only one of a number of resolutions I am receiving weekly from organised bodies all over my county and it illustrates the great necessity, the crying need, there is for land in the congested counties. I have received a number of other resolutions as well, but they are of a much more violent character.

Latterly, even in my own constituency, I have had to exercise my influence to the utmost in order to restrain the people from taking strong action with the object, as they thought, of bringing prominently under the notice of the Government the urgent nature of the grievances they are labouring under. The question is too serious to be trifled with any longer, and I want an assurance from the Minister that he means to take immediate steps to speed up the work of land distribution in these areas. I feel quite sure that neither the Minister nor the Government want a renewal of the agrarian troubles in this country and so far as I can see, there is no other prospect before us unless adequate measures are taken to allay the exasperated feelings of these people. There is another point that I wish to make in connection with land distribution. I should like especially to impress on the Minister the importance of exercising the greatest care in seeing that exorbitant prices are not paid for land acquired by the Land Commission. This is a very important point, because if land is bought at an exorbitant price it means that the re-sale price to the tenants is proportionately high, and consequently their annuities may be more than the tenants can possibly bear, with the ultimate result that the tenants may be forced out of business and the State will have to bear the whole burden. That is a serious situation both for the Government and the country.

I have dealt with this problem in a very general way. I have purposely refrained from going into any great detail, because I know perfectly well that Deputies who will take part in the debate will give numerous instances form their own particular constituencies of land that has been in the hands of the Land Commission, or probably the Congested Districts Board before them, for quite a number of years without any effort having been made up to the present to divide or distribute it. In conclusion I ask the Minister to define his policy in this connection. I think a statement of policy in connection with land distribution is due to the country at the moment. I also want from him an assurance that this work is going to be expedited, and that he will pay particular and special attention to the congested districts.

I beg to second the motion. Deputy Roddy has covered the whole ground in his very comprehensive statement, and there is very little left for me to say. I should, however, like to emphasise the great necessity there is for the Land Commission to expedite the work of land distribution. When a Land Act was promised in 1922 we thought that there was some prospect of security and some chance of a living opening up for the poor congests in the congested districts. In 1923 the Dáil very sympathetically and wholeheartedly passed a Land Act which placed great powers in the hands of the Land Commission. In that year we went down to those people who had been waiting for decades, and told them that relief was at hand. They had hoped for relief in 1923, but they were disappointed, and we asked them to wait a little longer. We told them of the promises of the Land Commission, but no relief came in 1923, 1924 or 1925. Mayo is one of the most congested counties in Ireland, and I do not know of one estate in that county that has been divided by the Land Commission under the Act of 1923.

Deputy Roddy gave a grave warning to the Government as to the urgency of this question. He spoke of the impatience of the people. That impatience is growing day by day. A year or two ago it was easy to ask these people to have confidence in the Land Commission. It is not so easy to-day. They have lost confidence; they have come to despair of the Land Commission doing anything for them. That is a nice state of affairs. What excuse has the Land Commission for this long delay? Those people are in a terrible condition. Deputies of the Farmers' Party who speak for counties where the farms are 30 or 40 acres in extent rightly complain of the depressed condition of agriculture. If instead of 30 or 40 acres, these farmers had less than 10 acres, and if instead of good land they had bad land, what would be their position? That is the position of those men who, a year or two ago, were promised additions to their holdings. We cannot keep them back any longer.

Deputy Roddy spoke about resolutions coming to him from branches of Cumann na nGaedheal and from bodies of tenants that are not in any organisation, imploring and begging the Land Commission to do something for them. They see untenanted land all round them, and they ask that this land should be divided. What comfort is it to them to be told that 50,000 acres have been divided and 30,000 acres inspected? Their reply would be that the untenanted land in their area has not been divided.

Deputy Roddy referred to estates which had been in the hands of the Congested Districts Board for 20 years. I know of one of these, and the people on it are still suffering under the awful system of rundale. The wives and children of those people have to be continually out in the fields keeping their stock from rambling from one strip of a field to another. I had a letter the other day from the local curate saying that he was mystified at the inaction of the Government. Those people are the most patient people in the world, but their patience has a limit. I have heard threats from some of them, but I have advised them, as Deputy Roddy has advised those in his constituency.

There is another matter that should be taken into consideration when we do come to the distribution of land in Mayo—we have not reached that stage yet unfortunately—that is, the question when it comes to dividing ranches of giving farms to landless men. I am not going to raise the question of the clash of interest between landless men and uneconomic holders. There is land enough for all of them, if the Government goes the right way about it. In dividing those ranches, the people with first claim are those who are trying to make a living on little holdings of a valuation ranging from £7 down as small as £2. They have first claim on the lands, and farms should not be given to landless men as long as those men are in the grave position that they now occupy. Land should not be given to landless men at the expense of the uneconomic holders. If the Land Commission wants to give land to landless men—I would never oppose such a proceeding—it should be at the expense of the men with from 50 to 200 acres, and not at the expense of the uneconomic holders. I was told the other day of an estate in Tipperary which was divided and on which ten landless men got farms of from 35 to 40 acres each. I say that is a wrong and a mistaken policy, when you have congests one-third of whom you cannot provide for.

I hope the Land Commission will be firm about the definition of "demesnes." When those poor people in the West of Ireland were driven off good land to the bogs and mountains— and they got very little even of the bogs and mountains—the people who got the land vacated by them found themselves in possession of demesnes of from 1,300 acres to 1,800 acres. In one case, I understand the offer with regard to the estate is that the 1,500 acres should be reduced to 1,000 acres. That is not a fair deal in Mayo. Those people do not envy the owner of that his wealth, but they envy him because he has their means of living. It is the same as if there was a state of drought in a village, and that one resident was in possession of a barrel of water which he kept to himself, while the other residents had to thirst on a glass of water each. That demesne of 1,800 acres— it is Lord Sligo's demesne—has around it some of the most congested parishes in the country. I am not going to refer to how he got that land, because it may be said that if his ancestor did wrong it is no reason why we should do a wrong to him. But the wrong is a continuing wrong. He will get his price for the land should it be taken from him. It is the only means of living these people have. He is not living out of the lands. He can go and live elsewhere. These are not feudal times, that he should squat down in a congested district and deprive the people of the only means of living they have. I hope the question of demesne land will be handled as it should be handled at this time of day. I hope that Lord Sligo will not be able to keep those people out of their land any longer, and that he will not be so clever as another lord was when dealing with the Land Commission down in Mayo.

Under the old regime, the British recognised that in the congested districts they had a special problem. It was not a paternal Government, but it recognised the special needs of the situation and it set up a board and gave that board an income of £300,000 a year or thereabouts to deal with the congested districts. It did some good work, but it was of such a piecemeal character that it was more tantalising than anything else, because it showed what could be done and what was not done. When the English Government passed away, we looked for better times. Under our own Government, that Board, with an income of £300,000 a year has passed away. There is no board with that income now to deal with the congested districts. If you take the Island of Achill—a miserable place with a population of 5,000 and valuation under £6 or £7—the people cannot live on their holdings but have to live out of earnings in Scotland and England. On that island you find a remarkable state of affairs. The Congested Districts Board, with the aid of the grant to which I have referred, built fine dwellings for the people on about half the island. But the rest of the island is in its old, wretched condition. The houses are the most miserable little hovels you could see anywhere. There are no grants by which these people can build the houses. What is going to be done for them? They are not able of themselves to build houses. This Government must realise that, in the congested districts, they have a very serious problem. These people are part and parcel of the nation and have to be dealt with. The trouble there is as a running sore, and much of the economic distress that prevails at the present time is attributable to the condition of the people on these miserable little plots, out of which they cannot make a living. Farming may go bad or tillage may cease to pay and these people have to lower their low standard of living still lower.

The Minister for Lands and Agriculture, in his speech here some time ago, put before us some of the facts of the situation. He told us that there were so many holders of economic farms and that there were only so many acres of untenanted land available. That would provide only a despairing outlook for some of those congests, and I would impress upon the Government the necessity for facing this problem and, not alone to continue the policy of the British Government, in this respect, but to go one better. I would urge the Minister for Lands to divide all the available land in Connacht and to divide it quickly, for the patience of those people is running out.

I am in complete agreement with Deputies Roddy and Sears when they say that there must be a speeding up in the division of lands. Notwithstanding all the promises that, from time to time, have been given to the people, in my constituency up to the present, only some 200 or 300 acres have been divided under the present Act and the Act preceding it. It is well known that practically all the preliminary steps for distribution have been taken on many farms and ranches, and the people in their vicinity cannot understand why the claimants have not been put in actual possession. I hope that the Minister will be able to assure us that any technicalities which have hitherto stood in the way have now been swept aside, and that the consideration of claims will be hastened. If he can give us that assurance it will be of the utmost service in our efforts to prevent a recrudescence of the agrarian trouble which was such a feature of our national life some short time ago.

I was a little surprised a few moments ago when I heard Deputy Sears say that the uneconomic holders had first claims on the lands to be distributed. I hold that the first claims on these lands are the real evicted tenants of recent date. These are the labourers who lost their jobs by the owners of these lands being forced to leave the country. I have, perhaps, no fault to find with some of the actions of the Minister for Agriculture recently in my district. He dealt fairly enough with the lands there up to the present, and I hope he will continue on those lines. We hear talk about congests being in every district. There are congests, and it is apparent that there are when we find that the emigrant ship is again being filled. When we see young men leaving the country we always say to ourselves that if these young men were encouraged to remain at home they would not be taking themselves to Canada, America, or elsewhere. I agree that the uneconomic holders have a claim, but they are really labourers of an unhappy type. I have the courage to say that they are not as well treated as ordinary labourers, and they have not had the courage, or rather their leaders did not lead them, to agitate for better housing. While we are hearing complaints here every day about egg-marketing and butter-testing, we never hear anything about subsidies for the improvement of poor farmers' houses, and, what is still more necessary, for the improvement of poor farmers' dairies.

There is one point I would like to raise in connection with this discussion. We hear talk about the congested districts, and, bearing in mind what some members of the Dáil and I myself have seen personally in Connemara and The Rosses recently, I would like if the Minister, in the course of the discussion, would make it clearer than it has been up to the present as to what congested districts really are. The congested districts, as scheduled some time ago when we were doing away with the Congested Districts Board, included a lot of places which, when compared with other areas, were not congested in the proper sense. I would like to be clear as to what is a congested district when we are considering what has been done for these districts under the Land Act of 1923, and I would like to know whether such districts include The Rosses district in Donegal and the Connemara district in Galway. I would like to be clear also, if we are to think along the lines mentioned by Deputy Sears, as to whether, in the distribution of lands, congests are to be considered before landless men, and whether a man is to be regarded as a landless man because he is a Rosses man or a Connemara man. So far as some of us have seen what has been done by the Congested Districts Board, a kind of law seems to have operated that the less dire straits there are in a district from the point of view of congestion the more help was given, while in the less congested portions of the districts more alleviation took place than was expected or dreamt of. At any rate, it is not apparent in the Rosses and Connemara that very much assistance has been given as regards land distribution, or a proper settlement of the people on the land by the Congested Districts Board. It would seem that because better and quicker results were given by work in the eastern portion of the congested districts, the entire efforts of the Board seemed to tend to working in the eastern and less distressed side. I think, therefore, that it is important, from the point of view of some of us, at any rate, to know whether, when talking of congested districts, we talk of the Rosses and Connemara.


The congested districts include the province of Connaught, plus Donegal, Kerry, and a few townlands in Cork and Clare.

My point is that that may be so in theory, but it is not really the fact or practice.


I thought the Deputy was looking for information as to what the congested districts are.

I think that the Minister will agree with me, that what he has said is the theory but not the practice, and that in the distribution of lands recently—by recently I mean within the last five years or so—the congests of the most congested portion of the western side of the country have not been helped at all. In thinking of the relief of congestion under the Act of 1923, it is quite possible, and we have seen evidence along the road, that the congests of these areas are not being considered at all. It is for that reason that, so far as the Minister could help us when speaking of congested districts, we would like to know what we are talking about, and if he attempts to classify landless men and congests I would like to know if the Rosses and Connemara people are to be classified as landless men.

I rise to support Deputy Roddy's motion. I think, so far as the Land Commission is concerned, it is rather slack in carrying out the intentions of the Act of 1923. I know of lands in my county that have been untenanted for the last four or five years and nothing whatever has been done with them. People are anxious to have the lands divided, but they are told that they must wait. I think there is very unreasonable delay in some cases—I will not say in all. Therefore, I would like if the Minister could give an assurance that in the division of land throughout the country no person would get land who has already an economic holding. I think that that should be made perfectly clear and that great care should be taken in choosing the tenants. I have received many complaints about farmers who have already large farms looking for portions of land on estates to be divided. I think that the Minister should prevent anything like that happening. I would also like to support Deputy Sears in his contention about demesne land. I think that the Minister should use the pruning knife there and distribute outlying lands to the congests living in the district. It is not fair to see men with 500 acres of land while congests are lying around. I know several cases in my county where that happens. I think that the Minister should pay more attention to the large holdings and try to divide them. I do not think that men should hold 500 acres of land while other men have only a cabbage garden. These big farmers are very watchful for themselves and they come up here to the Minister and try to get portions of distributed land, but they say nothing about their own land. There is not enough land to go round, but there would be more if the large holdings were properly worked and they would give more employment and produce more food.

I feel I should not be doing my duty to the congested districts unless I gave absolute support to the motion. I can speak for the congested districts in North Mayo, the constituency I represent. I have kept close watch on the proceedings of the Land Commission there since I was elected, and I have not been able to find any case until very recently where land in that constituency was dealt with under the 1923 Act. A good deal of land has been dealt with by the Land Commission during the last two or three years. It looked very big in figures, and you can get probably a large figure as to the land put through the Land Commission in the county of Mayo during the last three or four years, but a large portion of that land was simply turbary, and the best land in the county is still in the hands of landlords, of no use whatever practically to the people in the district. The Land Commission has a very large number of officials in my constituency, and in Mayo generally, and the people are beginning to wonder whether they are really giving any kind of return for the money they are costing the State. The Land Act is supposed to be in operation for three years. No land has been divided as a result of the work of these officials, and it seems there must be something radically wrong when you have a state of affairs like that. I know that state of affairs is not at all peculiar to Mayo. I have evidence from my own district, Galway, which is not a very congested district, but where there is a considerable amount of untenanted land, that practically no work at all is being done there by the Land Commission under the Act of 1923.

One is forced to the conclusion that there must be some grave cause for this extraordinary delay and extraordinary incapacity on the part of the Land Commission to carry out the Act which was passed here by a big majority. It is possible that there is some technicality, or formality or other, which is responsible for most of the delay that is caused everywhere in this process of land distribution. This matter should receive the most earnest attention of the Minister and the Government generally, so that this formality or technicality should be remedied as soon as possible, and, if necessary, special powers should be taken in this direction in the congested districts in the West. This is the outstanding problem. We can scarcely discuss anything else as long as there remains a large quantity of untenanted land undivided. In my constituency a good deal of the best land remains undivided. In the debate on, I think, the Land Commission estimates during the last session, a statement was made to the effect that land in the hands of landlords should not be touched, for such estates were very often centres of culture and provided a high standard of life which permeated the neighbourhood. Some of these centres of supposed culture in Mayo are simply centres of waste, and no activity centres around them. They are held by a couple of men who have practically nothing to do, and included in these estates is whatever good land is in the county. In one barony in my constituency there is good land, and a great deal of it is held by landlords or graziers.

There is very little use going into constituencies like that, and talking about what is being done to improve economic conditions, and about what you propose to do in the way of encouraging extra tillage, and the development of agriculture generally. The answer we would always get from people in those districts would be:"If you give us the land we will know very well what to do with it ourselves." They are perfectly right in saying that. I agree heartily with speakers who said that this is one of the greatest problems the Government have to face. It probably concerns as large a number of people as any other problem that faces the Government, and it concerns them in the gravest and direst way. I know a portion of the seaboard of my constituency where one thousand boys and girls have left their homes this year, and a good many of them have gone to Scotland to do agricultural work. I think that state of affairs is not peculiar to the district. It is the same in the congested districts all over the country. I would like in discussing the motion that that particular point should be dealt with, as well as dealing with the problem of the division of lands, for in reality there are two problems, as the Minister for Agriculture has often pointed out, and as, I think, everybody who has looked into the problem will agree.

You can divide every acre of land available in these districts, and you will still have the problem of chronic poverty to be dealt with. I would like if the Minister would state what his attitude is towards finding some permanent means of dealing with that problem. There is very little use giving education at public expense in these districts. You are met over and over again with the statement that children can only go to school long enough to become sufficiently literate to leave the country. There is no livelihood for them in those districts. I think the Minister for Lands and Agriculture stated on a former occasion in this House that it is the considered opinion of the Land Commission that that chronic over-population and poverty cannot be dealt with by way of migration. If the people cannot be migrated in any numbers to other parts of the country, then I think the Minister or the Government should be asked to state what alternative they have, or whether they are giving any consideration to some alternative method of dealing with the problem.

One Deputy spoke of large tenant farmers. I have come across a great many slightly different kinds of large farms in very congested districts which have already been bought out by the Land Commission or by the Congested Disricts Board and vested in tenants. These farms have recently become untenanted. I know of several cases where farms like that, in terribly congested districts, have recently been put on the market and sold to strangers at a high price. These strangers sometimes came from America and bought land in districts where the average size of the holdings is only three or four acres. The result will be to perpetuate and increase the problem of over-population and poverty in such places. I have often been asked to put forward some method of dealing with cases where strangers come in and buy land. I have also been asked to point out the necessity for having some statement made, definitely explaining whether it is not possible to deal with such a situation. I hope the Minister will give not only an explanation but also state why there has been so much delay in the operation of the Land Act of 1923, and give the Dáil an indication of what the Government is thinking of doing, or is prepared to do, by extra measures besides the division of land for dealing with poverty that will always be a problem in these congested districts, unless it is tackled in some other way.

One portion of the motion has not been touched upon up to the present by other Deputies. A good deal has been said about the division of land, and the provision of holdings for landless men. No Deputy has referred to the position of tenants who have purchased their holdings or agreed to purchase, under the 1923 Act, but whose land has not yet been vested in them. They are still paying fully ten per cent. over and above what they should be paying if their land was vested. For many years these people were kept outside the scope of the Land Acts. They could not purchase, and in some cases they were paying double the rent of tenants in the same neighbourhood. I think every benefit that can accrue from the Act of 1923 should be given to these tenants. I cannot see why there is such delay in vesting the holdings, or why the Land Commission has delayed doing so. Where estates have been sold and the titles proved and all arrangements agreed upon as to payment of arrears, it is strange that very few of these estates are yet vested. These tenants want any benefits that can be given them as, owing to the depression in agriculture, they are not well off financially. I ask the Minister now, as I asked him on a previous occasion, to try and speed up the vesting of such land. These people were not able to purchase in the past, and were in a much worse position than those who could do so.

Another class to which I would direct the Minister's attention is that of tenants who were evicted from their holdings and who have made application to be reinstated. As far as I know, none of them have yet been reinstated. The Minister, I know, said he would deal with congests first, but some of these people are deserving of as much sympathy as congests. They were prominent in the land war of the eighties and deserve as much recognition as any other class in the Saorstát.

My object in speaking on this motion is to ask the Minister for information with regard to the working of the Land Act, and particularly with regard to the distribution of land amongst uneconomic holders and others. The difficulty is to get exact information so as to know what the Ministry is doing or what it proposes to do. We know that land is being divided and given to uneconomic holders, landless men and other people. I would like to know from the Minister what the financial arrangements are with regard to the handing over of such land. I have never heard any statement from the Minister definitely pointing out what the arrangements are. Are such arrangements elastic, and has the Minister power to deal with special cases?

I do not know what the Deputy wants me to tell him.

Take the case of an estate that is divided. That estate will have to be fenced, roads will have to be made and houses built in some cases to accommodate landless men. What portion of the expense of making the fences and building the houses is borne by the State, and what portion is put on the new tenant in the form of an increased annuity? I would like to know from the Minister if there is a definite policy with regard to that, if the arrangement is elastic, if the land has to pay what it can bear, and if the State will bear the balance. I have no complaint to make with regard to the division of land in my county. I consider the Land Commission is really advancing as quickly as is possible in the circumstances. I would like, however, to see the division of the land completed at as early a date as is possible. I realise that that is work that the Land Commission cannot go at headlong. It would be better that an estate should remain undivided rather than be divided in a careless and haphazard fashion. The first consideration in giving land is that the man should be of a type that is likely to farm successfully.

I hope that is a consideration the Land Commission takes into account when they are considering the class of men whom they are going to place on the land. Apart from that consideration I would urge on the Minister that the next necessity is to give land to the uneconomic landholders in the immediate neighbourhood of the land to be divided. It is no use bringing men from a distance to place them on land, and leaving men on the same estate and in the immediate neighbourhood on uneconomic holdings. That would have the effect of still leaving uneconomic holders in the district, while at the same time you create another small holding. It would be better to give one man an economic farm, on which he could make a reasonable living, rather than create another small farm, and leave an uneconomic holding in existence.

There is one thing I would strongly deprecate in connection with the division of land, and that is the introduction of any political aspect into the matter. I trust that the policy of the Land Commission will be to divide land on purely non-political lines, and that men will not be able to "pull" the Land Commission or to take advantage of the Land Commission because of affiliations with any particular party. I have no charge to make in that direction. So far, I am not aware that connection with any political organisation or association has influenced the Land Commission. I do know that efforts were made in that way, and that statements were made by certain people connected with a political movement, that it would be of advantage to men to come into that particular movement. I know that, as far as the organisation with which I am connected is concerned, when it came to the question of the division of land, I always said to the people who spoke to me: "We will not promise to get any land for you. Our hope is that the Land Commission will divide the land regardless of political considerations, and that the best men will get it." The main reason why I wish to see the completion of the division of the lands is that in connection with the farming industry of Ireland it is essential that we should, at the earliest possible date, arrive at a position when everybody who is on a farm, who is the owner of a farm, or in any way can be called a farmer, can sit down at night and say to himself: "I feel confident that I am secure in the possession of this land, that no agitation can be got up to dispossess me of it, and that I can count on the land realising its market value at any reasonable time." While the possibility of division is in the offing, and there is a possibility of local agitation being organised, there will be a certain amount of insecurity in the distance that will be detrimental to the industry. Any man who feels uncertain in his position ceases to be enterprising, and simply carries on in the slowest and most antiquated manner in which he can manage his land.

There is another aspect of it to which I want to call the Minister's attention. It is to what is known as retained land. The Minister is aware that if the purchase money exceeds a certain amount—£3,000—calculated in a certain manner, portion of the land is liable to be retained by the Land Commission for the purposes of division or for the purpose of doing what the Land Commission sees fit to do. I believe the Land Commission have power to return that land to the former owner. My attention was called to a few of these cases recently. It was called particularly to one case where a genuinely hard-working farmer, who gives a lot of employment, tills a good deal of his land, and who from a comparatively poverty-stricken position has reached a fairly sound economic position, now finds himself threatened with having the best portion of his farm taken away as retained land on account of exceeding certain limits. I would suggest to the Minister that in regard to land of that kind a decision should be given as soon as possible and that as soon as the question does arise in regard to the possibility of retention that the Land Commission should make known their intentions to the farmer concerned at the earliest possible date and let him know the position with which he is faced.

Deputy Doyle anticipated me in what I had to say in regard to the completion of land purchase. That is really a more important matter than the question of the completion of the division of land because the information that we have at our disposal is that in this matter the Land Commission is dilatory and is not advancing at anything like the speed at which it should advance. A return placed at our disposal by the Ministry for Agriculture a short time ago showed that there were over 94,000 tenants coming under the 1923 Act, and of that total, at the date of the issue of the return in the case of 334 only had the appointed day been fixed. That is a very small proportion—334 holdings compared with over 94,000. I am aware that there are many difficulties in the way of the appointed day being fixed. I recognise that there are difficulties with regard to the inquiries into the title and with regard to the unpaid arrears of rent. My understanding of the Act is that in no case can the appointed day be fixed until the compounded arrears of rent have been paid up in full. I want the Minister to tell us is that the real difficulty in the way of fixing the appointed day, because if that is the difficulty that is keeping back the completion of land purchase under the 1923 Act, I believe the Minister will have to take steps other than the steps which have been taken already in order that that difficulty can be overcome.

My knowledge of the farming conditions of the country, and in my own particular county, is that they are in many cases very bad indeed. I had experience not longer ago than last Sunday of coming into contact at meetings with some farmers who are in the most despondent mood as to their future and the future of agriculture in general. I have never in the time during which I have been in touch with farmers met farmers who showed such evident despondency and such evident lack of heart in their work, or who had such a gloomy outlook in regard to the future than those men in some of the tillage districts.

I mention that not for the purposes of propaganda but for the purpose of trying to show that a great many farmers are not in a position to pay up the compounded arrears of rent. They are quite unable to get the money to pay up the compounded arrears of rent, and I suggest to the Minister that he will have to introduce special legislation at an early date dealing with that matter, and that the great majority of purchases under the Land Act cannot be completed until this question is dealt with and something done either by means of adding portion of the balance due beyond one year's compounded arrears to the purchase money.

There is one other matter on which I would like to get some information from the Minister. It is with regard to Section 38 of the Land Act, and touches on the question of fee farm grantees and long lease holders. I would like to know from the Minister if he has at his disposal information in regard to any, and if so, how many cases where applications have been put in for redemption under that Act. Further, I would like the Minister's definition, or rather explanation, of the methods which are used in fixing the redemption value of the land. Is the redemption to be fixed by the ordinary actuarial methods based on the annual sum payable, or is the value of the rents payable by the people in the neighbourhood to be taken into account at all? In my opinion that is a very important point, because the information I have at my disposal is that a great many of these people are afraid to apply for redemption under the Act. Many of these tenants are paying as high rents as their neighbours—perhaps sometimes higher rents. Some are paying lower rents, too. Naturally, they want a reduction in their rents. They feel that their present rents are uneconomic. Very few cases have been decided and I have seen no published decisions at all. These tenants are afraid to apply to have the redemption value of their lands fixed, because they know that once these rents are fixed they have no appeal from that decision. They have to continue for all future time to pay the annual rent, which means the redemption value as fixed by the Judicial Commissioner.

There is only one further matter that I want to call the Minister's attention to. That is the fact that from his Department has gone forth a receivable order which is incorrect. I think it is not right that a department of the importance of the Land Commission, and that is costing so much money to the State, should allow such a thing. In that department every possible check ought be available so that every document going out should be correct. Here a receivable order has gone out which, on its face, is misleading, because a wrong quotation with regard to the Act is given. I called the Minister's attention to it before. I know that one of my constituents went to the trouble of coming here to Dublin and was put to considerable expense in connection with this document because of the misunderstanding caused owing to the mis-quotation of a sub-section of the Act.

I rise to support Deputy Roddy's motion and to ask the Minister to expedite the taking over of the untenanted lands and placing those who are entitled to that land in occupation. There are a few aspects of this matter to which I wish to refer. The position in the West of Ireland is quite different from the rest of the Saorstát. In the West of Ireland the congested areas were taken over by the Congested Districts Board at the time that the British Government had control of this country. Unfortunately, owing to the number of mortgages which had been given on the property there, and owing to the number of various interests that were concerned in these properties, they left a legacy of trouble which has been handed down to the present Land Commissioners, a legacy of trouble which means twenty times more work than if the Commissioners were dealing with property either held in fee or property purchased under the 1903 Act. One would mean plain sailing, the other is a load of difficulties, and I am afraid that these difficulties have caused an immense amount of delay in the handling of the position in the West of Ireland.

I hope, with Deputy Roddy, that the Minister will see the necessity for trying to complete the transfer of this land to the uneconomic holders, to the landless men, and to the evicted tenants, if there are any in that district. In other parts of the country the conditions may not be so grave; but you have a number of uneconomic holders in most counties in Ireland. There are estates adjoining them which ought to be transferred at once. I am aware of the fact that the transfer has taken place in a good many counties. Transfers have taken place, the lands have been inspected and steps have been taken by the Commissioners to create new tenancies as soon as possible.

At the present moment I will ask the Commissioners to take steps to see that those who wish to evade the Act should not be allowed to do so and that those who wish to let their land on the eleven months' system should be prevented. There is a practice on the part of these people of letting the land in their possession on the eleven months' system, while you have a number of uneconomic holders landless men and even evicted tenants. I say that they should get notice of the inspection, and I would ask the Minister to see that that notice of inspection should go out in due time. If it is not out in due time these people will make the excuse that the land has been let for the coming year. They do not wish to have this land taken over. They are not working it themselves, and many of them, perhaps I should say most of them, are not living on the land.

Now, perhaps, there may be some who take grazing and who, perhaps, have an interest in continuing this system— people who may wish to get grazing land in parts of the country. To such people this proposal may not be acceptable. They may wish to graze the land on the 11 months' system. The so-called farmer, or owner, who does not work this land, who is unable to work this land, who is too lazy to work it or who is incapable of working it, is causing a loss to the State. I know of cases where you have uneconomic holders on 7 or 8 acres of land adjoining these properties which are let on the eleven months' system. You have numbers of these 7 or 8 acre farmers in the neighbourhood of those large holdings of 400 or 500 acres on which only a couple of men are employed to look after the cattle for a few months in the year.

We have heard a good deal about the economic condition of the country, the value of land and the necessity for getting the most out of it. We have heard a good deal said with regard to what is being done in Denmark, and a contrast has been drawn between Denmark and this country. The very greatest contrast of all is that you have a number of small farmers living in 8, 9, 10, 11 or 12 acre farms, who are managing to exist and to bring up their families and keep them going, and you have alongside these people 300 or 400 acres of land not properly used. What is often worse, those 300 or 400 acres of land often comprise evicted land, land out of which people were evicted in years gone by, and not so many years ago either. There are not many here who do remember these things. There are some Deputies here who have sufficient knowledge of the land movement, men like Deputy Michael Doyle and Deputy Mulvany, and perhaps a few more. These men who were evicted were the men who secured the Land Act of 1903, and perhaps only for them you would not have the occupiers in the position in which they are at the present time.

I know where you have numbers of men living on eight or nine acres of land and where the large tracts of land adjoining them are owned by men who live at a distance from the land and who spend no money on that land, with the exception of what they spend on two or three employees. I say that the sooner the Minister takes steps to expedite the taking over of that land, after it has been inspected and when the question of payment has been completed, the better. Even if they do object to the terms, then the Minister should take steps to acquire the lands at a just price. The sooner that is done the sooner we will have peace in this country.

From the point of view of the prosperity of the country, I maintain that if you have 100,000 small owners of holdings they are far more valuable than a few thousand owners of broad acres. The men with the small holdings will develop the land and they will rear families that, in future generations, will assist in making the country progress. I contend that nothing less than 30 acres is sufficient to give a man an opportunity of making a decent living, and educating his children to be of value to the State or to any other country that they may go to. The sooner those lands are divided the better.

I will state here what I said elsewhere on public platforms. I do not object to those men who have hundreds of acres, who have large numbers of employees who live on the land, work it, and take an interest in it. Those men endeavour to develop their land and are anxious to make themselves of advantage to the State. I am speaking for every county in this matter. The sooner that the large holdings that are not so developed are divided amongst the small uneconomic people in Ireland, the better for the future of the country. That is what has led to the prosperity of Belgium, Denmark and other small countries. Where men will not develop their land, that land should be divided into 30-acre lots. There are many holdings of 300 or 400 acres that could be so divided. All over the country there are holdings the division of which would be a great advantage to the community. If small holdings were established the occupiers would feed pigs and calves and do all the work the small agriculturist should do. That was done in Denmark and the country has benefited by it. It is not right that there should be 400 acres left in the hands of any one man who would have, perhaps, only two or three employees. That is an economic loss to the country. By doing as I suggest there will be a six-fold return to the country. The best system is that in which you will have small holdings dotted all over the country. I would press on the Minister to see that, as far as possible, the taking over of these lands will be expedited.

There were some complaints made here with which I do not agree. I am, of course, in agreement with Deputy Roddy's statement. It was stated that the Minister was adopting a slower rate of progress. I do not know what the Minister suggested in that regard. I am not sure whether he did suggest a slower rate of progress. I am not an apologist for the Minister. I do know that where there were twenty inspectors twelve months ago, there are at present 100 going over various lands. That hardly means that the Minister is going slowly.

Statements have been made here regarding the type of tenant put in by the Commission. I am afraid one Deputy hinted—I am sorry he did—that an organisation was concerned—I do not mind what the organisation would be—with placing men on the land. There was no such suggestion made at the time of the old Parliamentary movement or the Land League movement. It was quite immaterial then whether a man belonged to one organisation or another. The whole question was that the land should be divided amongst the people of Ireland.

Hear, hear.

I do not know was it worth my while catching the remark of Deputy Gorey. Deputy Gorey's punctuations are sometimes rather crude, and I do not think it would be very valuable to Deputies to hear them. I would be pleased to catch interruptions from men who were in the movement, men such as Deputy Doyle or Deputy Mulvany, who did their part for the small farmers. I would be pleased to catch an interruption from them because they were ready whenever they were wanted and they did their work. Dealing with the question of land division, I did not hear any suggestion from the Labour Benches, the Farmers' Benches, or any other Benches that the land should be given to any one set of men. I am afraid that that is purely imaginative. I hope it is so. If anybody goes to the bother of reading the Act he will find specified the type of people amongst whom the land should be divided.

I do not agree with Deputy Sears when he talks about landless men not getting land. I do not see why landless men who live in villages in the country, who have not even the grass of a goat much less the grass of a cow, and who have to buy their potatoes, cabbages and other vegetables in the neighbouring town, cannot have a small bit of land on one of the estates adjoining the village. I am referring to tradesmen—carpenters, and so on. Unfortunately, we find in some towns that vieing with the workers in the weekly markets are farmers. Those men could at least till sufficient land on which to grow potatoes for themselves. I do not think it is right; it is a very wrong state of affairs. They have plenty of land that they could till. There are many places in Ireland where farmers let portion of their lands that is tillable. I am not going to suggest that all land should be tilled and that you should have a general tillage scheme so that you would have the Hill of Tara and other places through the country cultivated.

We are not dealing with tillage schemes.

I am afraid you allowed a very grave digression a little while ago, and I was merely claiming the same right. If the large holdings ultimately come into the possession of small tenant farmers, you will find that the lands will be tilled and there will be no necessity for workers in the towns to compete with the farmers for the agricultural products they have to buy.

Is this in Tipperary?

I said certain towns in Ireland, and it is better not to mention any names. I do not think mentioning names will do any good. I am aware of the towns concerned. I was told of them by Deputies, and I have a personal knowledge of some of them myself. The condition of things I have referred to prevails, I am sorry to say. It is wrong. The land should be divided. I support the statement made by Deputy Doyle that the evicted tenants have a claim on the land. I am aware of the fact that the Commissioners recognise that claim.

The claims of uneconomic holders and of landless men are also recommended. These three classes that I refer to have a claim. I have heard that the inspectors in the case of the properties they are dealing with have given consideration to the claims of these three classes. Another class with an absolute right to get some land are men who have been working on estates that have been divided. These men are absolutely entitled to get some land on the big properties now taken over and which are being divided up. I believe they have that right under the Act, and that the inspectors are seeing that it is being attended to. Deputy Daly referred to the point of helping farmers to improve their holdings. There is an Act already in existence for that purpose, the administration of which is in the hands of the county councils. Therefore, it is in the power of the county councils to help farmers to some extent to improve their dwellings. Deputy Tierney referred to, I think, 1,000 people on the seaboard who are in a very bad way. He spoke of the congestion that exists there. We all understand that as regards the congest in the West of Ireland when all the land there that is available for distribution is divided up, there still will not be sufficient land to meet the distress and poverty of a large number of people. In that case I think it will be for the Minister for Agriculture, in conjunction with the Minister for Fisheries, to develop the fishing industry on the western seaboard, and thus help to provide employment for these people, some of whom may have an acre or two of land.

The feeling in the country, I think is that the Minister for Agriculture should increase the speed at which land is being acquired. It is true, of course, that the division of land requires a certain amount of care. I stress this point, that the powers invested in the Land Commission under the Land Act must be availed of to the full, if not this year, then in the coming year. There is an absolute necessity to settle the question of uneconomic holders and of landless men. I do not ask the Minister to take a course that would reflect lack of judgment in the matter of putting men on the land regardless of circumstances, but what I do ask him to do is to expedite the transfer of the land as quickly as possible to the new tenants. I also press on the Minister that the views of the majority in this House who supported him in getting the Land Act through extended not alone to the congested districts and to the evicted tenants, but also to those who were not fortunate enough to have purchased their land under the 1903 Act or previous Acts.

I desire to support the motion before the House for the more speedy distribution of the land available amongst suitable and deserving applicants. I desire to know from the Minister how many estates have been divided in East Cork, how many have been purchased, and how many are in negotiation for purchase. Amongst the applicants are some evicted tenants, uneconomic holders, farmers' sons and thrifty and deserving labourers. A good many of these are living on the boundary of estates purchased or likely to be purchased, and many of them, if given land, would make the best use that could be made of it. I would urge on the Minister to put the necessary machinery at work as soon as possible, as the distribution of land would give much-needed relief in the districts concerned, and would tend to lessen unemployment. A point was made by Deputy Heffernan to the effect that something must be done by way of amended legislation for those who cannot pay arrears of rent. He referred to the "appointed" day and to the transfer of land to the purchased tenants. I know that in a very large number of cases, if these people have to wait until they have their arrears of rent paid off, it will be a very long day for them. Some measures must be taken to add the arrears to the purchase money if they are not forgiven. With the depression in agriculture at the present time there is no chance that these people can get out of the position they are in. I would ask the Minister to look very carefully into this matter, because if we are to avoid evictions in the near future something must be done and done at once.

In supporting the motion before the House I do so not in any spirit of criticism either against the Minister for Agriculture or the Land Commission because I believe the people appreciate the great difficulties with which the Land Commission have been faced in acquiring ranch lands throughout the country. There are some people who appear to think that all that has to be done in the acquisition of land is to send a Land Commissioner to the land, let him inspect it and map it out, and that then it ought to be divided up in a week or a fortnight afterwards. I know that in the County Westmeath, in the case of one particular ranch that has been acquired, the division of it has been held up owing to a legal dispute that has arisen about 1½ acres, out of a total of 500 acres, as to some pass-way. Difficulties arise, too, in tracing the owners of very large properties in Westmeath who are not resident in Ireland. I am personally aware that the Land Commission have had to face difficulties of this kind in acquiring land.

I wish to say a word in praise of the Land Commission for the magnificent work they have carried out during the last year and a half in the County Westmeath. I may say that 3,829 acres have been vested in the Land Commission and handed over to tenants; a price has been fixed on 2,604 acres, and I presume this land will be divided in the near future; a price has been offered for 3,228 acres, and negotiations for the purchase are pending. In addition, the Commissioners are making inquiries in respect of 15,000 acres of untenanted land in Westmeath with a view to ascertaining their suitability for purchase. Now, in the case of the 4,000 acres that I have alluded to and which have been handed over to the tenants, in my opinion all the applicants were deserving men. They were small holders with seven, eight or ten acres of very poor land, or they were uneconomic holders. They were able, however, to show to the Land Commission inspectors that they had some little money saved and if put in possession of the land would be able to work it.

In the large ranches divided cow parks have been retained of from twenty-five to thirty acres, and the County Councils have appointed trustees to work these cow parks in order to provide persons, who might not otherwise receive allotments, to be able to get the grass for a cow or whatever they require. A very large amount of much-needed employment is given in the work of ditching, and, also, in opening up, and making, roads through these ranches. I support the motion of Deputy Roddy on the ground of the great improvements, and the great benefits that have been provided for the people by the distribution of these lands, which, in the past, were practically waste lands. People may say, perhaps, that Westmeath has done very well, and much better than other places, but the reason is that unfortunately there was a very large number of large ranches there which were, in the past, looked after merely by a herd and a dog and which gave no employment whatsoever. Therefore, I hope that the good work will be continued, and renewed and increased during the coming year. I support the motion of Deputy Roddy and I hope that we will have the spirit of that motion carried out by the Land Commission and by the Minister for Lands and Agriculture.

I rise to support the motion proposed by Deputy Roddy. In doing so, I wish also to endorse the remarks that Deputy Doyle made in what he said in reference to the evicted tenants. The evicted tenants, as we all know, sacrificed their homes and families for the good of their country, and for the purpose of wiping out landlordism. There is enough land in Galway for the evicted tenants, for the congests, and the landless men, that is if the graziers' wings are clipped, some of whom have from five hundred to fifteen hundred acres. I hope the Minister for Lands and Agriculture will take into consideration the case of the evicted tenants and will see that the few remaining ones, and particularly those in the county Galway, are reinstated, when the Pollock Estate is being divided.

I was rather glad when this motion was put upon the Order Paper, because I was anxious for a real discussion upon the problem of land purchase, but, I must say, I found there was a great deal of reluctance amongst all parties to face up to the issue raised in connection with land purchase. It is the most serious problem of agriculture. I am sorry I have to quote figures, because people do not seem to like them, but the fact that there are 240,000 people in this country with rents or annuities under seven or nine pounds per year is a very serious one, but it is the position. Out of 350,000 tenant farmers, there are 240,000 who, in each case, where they are tenants, are paying rents under £9, and where they are annuitants their annuities are under £7 per annum.

Now, when you add to that the fact that it is almost absolutely certain that at least 140,000 of them are uneconomic holdings in the real sense of the word, and in fact, then you see you have the elements of a very serious problem indeed. When you add, further, that under no circumstances can we acquire no more than 1,200,000 acres of land, and that 1,200,000 acres of land will not deal with more than 30,000 people or thereabouts, you have the elements of a very serious problem. I say deliberately that the Dáil has consistently refused to face up to that problem. If it is a fact, and I have gone to some trouble, as was my duty, to get the facts in connection with this, that there are 240,000 tenants or tenant purchasers whose rent or annuities are under £9 or £7 a year and that of these 240,000 there are for certain 140,000 congests, properly so called, and that you cannot possibly acquire, unless you change the whole basis of the Land Acts, and come to a very serious decision indeed, more than 1,200,000 acres and that that 1,200,000 acres can only deal with about 30,000 or 40,000 persons then you have a very serious problem and a problem which ought to be faced squarely by every Deputy and Party of the Dáil. But it is not faced. It always strikes me when I listen to debates dealing with land purchase that people do not like to raise in connection with this issue of landless men or congests or evicted tenants where the land is to come from, because it is a very thorny question. They do not raise the issue where the purchase land should be acquired. They prefer to say nothing about it, to let it go by default. Everyone joins in extraordinary unanimity in impressing upon the Minister for Lands and Agriculture that he ought to deal, as Deputy Cosgrave said, with landless men, irrespective of where the land is to come from.

I did not say landless men; I said evicted tenants, congests and landless men.


Deputy Cosgrave really summed up the debate as it came from every side of the House. They all joined with extraordinary unanimity in advising the Ministry of Agriculture to deal with deserving landless men. I suppose there would be 200,000 of them. They all advise me to deal with congests; there are at least 140,000. They also advise me to deal with deserving evicted tenants; there are a great many of them, and it depends how far back you go. Everyone impresses that on me. But when you come to methods, and face this problem, as to whether you can do these things, a very awkward question of policy immediately arises. You are faced immediately with the question: how far you are going to acquire untenanted land? how far are you going to acquire demesne land? how far are you going to acquire tenanted land? How far are you going to acquire purchased land? And you are also faced with the necessity of making up your mind as to whether the congests or the landless men are to be dealt with, and the unanimity with which I get advice to deal with these things is only equal to the unanimity with which everyone runs away from these problems and refuses to deal with them. We are asked: why are the evicted tenants not looked after?

That is the most popular cry.


It is all very well to say there are fifty thousand acres divided here and forty thousand acres divided there. I do not care whether there is or not. I know a farm in my own constituency in Galway that is not divided yet. What is the use of talking like that? If these figures I have given are correct, if there is no doubt about them, if it is a fact that you can only deal with 30,000 persons, even by acquiring all the available land in the country, what is the use of asking me why I do not deal with all the evicted tenants and landless men? Let Deputies who are in earnest face up to that problem.

I rise to a point of correction. The Minister seems to suggest that all the Deputies who have spoken want the land to be divided amongst all the landless men, all the congests, and all the evicted tenants. I for one say that a section of the deserving landless men and a section of the deserving evicted tenants should be given land, not men who were thrown out because they refused to pay rent or were too idle to work, but that some of these sections are entitled to land. We all agree that there is not enough land for all these three sections, and I certainly did not ask for it, because they are not all deserving.


Of course everyone inserts the word "deserving" before the particular noun, whether it be landless men, congests or evicted tenants but as I said, there are only about 40,000 parcels of land, whether they are to be for one or other of these three classes, and there are 140,000 congests alone. A few evicted tenants and a few landless men may be dealt with, but we would still be unable to deal with anything except the fringe of the congests. There is a way out of it, of course, and parties should face up to it; I should not be carrying the baby always. We could reduce every holding in Ireland to twenty-five acres. That could be done by the Dáil, and it raises a very important issue. I have stated my position, but what I do object to is that people ask me to do something which could not be done unless we take some such action as that, reduce every holding in Ireland to twenty-five acres, but at the same time refrain very carefully from advocating any such course. That is what I object to. Let all Parties face up to the problem. Let the Labour Party tell me whether we are to deal with landless men only, or all congests, and if they do not, if they say, "Do the best you can," then do not blame me if there are only very few of both dealt with. There are only 4,846,632 acres of land unpurchased up to the present in the whole of the Free State. Of these 4,846,632 there are 3,000,000 acres of tenanted land, and that leaves 1,800,000 acres of untenanted land, what would be demesne land or otherwise, undealt with. In other words, if we took every perch of untenanted land, including demesne lands, every perch of land left except tenanted land or purchased land, we could only deal with 50,000 cases at the very outside. And yet, listening to Deputies pressing the claims of landless men, pressing the claims of evicted tenants, and pressing the claims of congests, all in the one breath, one would think that by some possible expedient the Land Commission could add to the land of the country, could double it, because it would require to be doubled. Remember that if we took every acre of untenanted land you could only deal with 50,000 people. Remember also that that 1,800,000 acres includes a certain amount of barren mountain and a certain amount of high bank which you must deduct at the start. That answers this question of demesnes.

I agree with Deputy Sears that the provisions of the Land Act of 1923 should be put into operation strictly, and that, within reason, where demesne land is really required for the relief of congestion it should be acquired. It will be acquired, within reason. I agree also that where tenanted land is required for the relief of congestion it should be acquired within reason, and I agree that, wherever possible and expedient, tenant purchasers should be transferred from congested districts to holdings in non-congested districts, with a view to dealing with the congests in the area they leave. I agree with all that. That is being done. But remember that no policy, no matter how radical, of taking demesnes, or no policy, no matter how radical, of taking tenanted land, will make any impression on the congest problem alone, and I do say that before Deputies advocate, either here or outside, that all congests must be dealt with, regardless of the facts, they should at least examine those figures and let me know whether they agree with them or not. I have said that 1,200,000 acres possibly could be acquired, and while we need not go into the figures closely, I think Deputies will agree that if the figure of 1,800,000 acres represents all the untenanted land, that I am talking very big when I say that the Land Commission could acquire 1,200,000 acres. Remember that when the Land Commission acquire land, as a rule land equally suitable and not less valuable must be given elsewhere. I will not go into the reasons for that. They were argued before, and they are, I think, good and sufficient.

Remember also when the Land Commission require tenanted land they must give a fairly considerable price. They must give what is known as the resumption price. The resumption price was the price defined for the first time in the Land Act of 1881. It is not quite the market value, but it is the market value modified by a number of circumstances which I will not attempt to explain now. It is very complicated. Tenanted land is much more expensive than untenanted land. You have to buy the tenants' interest at something not quite the market value, and the landlord's interest as well.

You will understand that unless the land is to be acquired, without paying anything for the tenant's interest, at a figure which would leave practically nothing for the tenant's interest, it will be very considerably dearer than the untenanted land which the Land Commission purchases. Take an ordinary case of tenanted and untenanted land. The landlord's interest is nothing like the market value. The Land Commission, I think, give nothing like the market value. I agree with the Deputy who mentioned prices and said it was the important thing. No one thinks anything of prices now, but they will all be thinking of it in a few years' time. Everyone wants land now and hopes there will be nothing to pay. Price is the important thing. You are buying tenanted land. The landlord must be paid and the price he gets is nothing like the market value. The tenant must also be paid unless the Dáil will stand for taking tenanted land for nothing, and even if the price to the tenant is cut down not only below the market value but even below the price which the Land Commission gives at present for untenanted land, nevertheless the land is bound to be dear for resale purposes, because it carries the landlord's and the tenant's price, be they ever so small.

I have allowed for the acquisition of about 200,000 acres of untenanted land in my figure when I attempted to arrive at the 1,200,000 acres which the Land Commission might acquire. When you come to the question of the acquisition of tenanted land on a big scale you are first faced with the big question of policy. Where are you going to stop? How many acres? Are all farms to be cut down to 25, 50, or 100 acres? What is it to be? Then you are faced with the big practical difficulty of the price; and the day the Government decides, whatever Government it is to be, that tenanted land must be taken up from every tenant over 50 acres, that day they will have either to decide that they are going to pay the tenant practically nothing for it, or they will have to come and find a price themselves and something in the nature of a bonus themselves. Otherwise they will be unable to resell the land to the tenants at an annuity they can pay. I have said that the Land Commission will acquire tenanted land wherever it is really required in reason for the relief of congestion. They must take, of course, into account the owners' point of view, the amount of land he has and so on, and also whether they can get the land at a price which would leave it suitable for resale to a tenant who has to pay an annuity at the rate of 4¾ per cent. on that price.

Their policy also is, and will continue to be, to migrate tenant purchasers who own large holdings from the congested districts, and place them where there is less congestion, and so far as this question of landless men and congests is concerned, the policy of the Land Commission is to deal with the maximum number of congests and the minimum number of landless men. You must deal with a certain number of landless men. You must deal with labourers definitely put out of employment, and when I say that I mean labourers actually working on the estate. I do not mean farmers' sons in the district who work on the estate occasionally, often at summer time, and so on. You must deal with people who have, let us say, cottages on the estate, labourers employed on the estate who have no other means of living except what they can make by their labour. You have also to deal with sons of tenants who are near the estate up to a certain point. It is very easy to lay down hard and fast rules discussing the matter here, but if you visualise to yourself what does occur when an estate is being divided you will find it will be extremely hard and unsound to adhere strictly to the rule that no landless man, the son of a tenant, should get a holding. Imagine a farm of 15 or 20 holdings. Three or four labourers have got holdings on it. There are 10 or 11 congests, and they get holdings. A small farmer in the neighbourhood who has a £12 valuation holding has three or four sons. He is a tip-top man, who has made good, and is in a position to stock a farm for his son. He is better off, perhaps, than his neighbour with a £20 or £30 holding. They have been looking at that land all their lives. It would be hard in a case of that kind, if it could be done, to refuse to deal with such a person. You have to take the human element into account, and no hard and fast rule can be laid down. Uneconomic holders or congests will be dealt with first. We will have the maximum number of congests and the minimum number of landless. You must go along those lines.

Deputy Mulcahy asked me when we talked of congested districts, whether it is not a fact that the Congested Districts Board in its operations in the past confined itself, not to the most congested of the congested districts, but to the eastern side of the congested districts, where there was less congestion and more land. He said in the Rosses of Donegal and Connemara you had congestion still and you had very little land divided, and very little signs of land division, whereas at the other ends of Galway and Mayo there is a considerable amount of land divided, and congestion is being dealt with. He said it seemed to him that the Congested Districts Board evaded the more difficult part of the problem. They did, and the Land Commission will have to do the same thing up to a point. The reason Connemara is not dealt with is because there is no land in Connemara to deal with the congests there. The same reason applies to the Rosses. The reason the congests in the eastern portions of Galway are dealt with is because there was untenanted land adjoining them which was easily purchased, and which could be dealt with quite conveniently. The Congested Districts Board might have adopted another policy. They might have, say, bought five or six hundred acres in East Galway, and instead of dealing with congests or uneconomic holders who adjoin that land, might have migrated tenants from Connemara and put them on it.

You would have the extraordinary spectacle that while more congests than could possibly be dealt with on the 500 acres adjoining that 500 acres had been left out, and that people had been brought in from Connemara who, if you like, were even more congested. That could not be done. That would be absurd, expensive and unsound. One congest of £6 valuation with a holding adjoining the estate, with the same class of land, is told he cannot be dealt with; there is a man in Connemara with a £2 valuation holding who must be brought in. That would be absolutely unsound. It would make things very difficult for the man from the Rosses or Connemara, and it would be most unfair to the congests adjoining. That is the problem in its simple terms. The Congested Districts Board had no other alternative. The Land Commission will not be able to deal with the people in Connemara or the Rosses in their entirety. What they will have to do when they buy land in Mayo or Galway is first of all to deal with the congests adjoining. There is no reason why they should not. There is no reason why a congest should be penalised because he happens to be near the land that is being divided. That is what it would come to.

Deputy Tierney asked me, admitting that land purchase is not going to solve the problem of the congested districts, what was going to do it? You are supposed to know everything, or at least to pretend to know everything. I am going to make an admission. I do not know. I am not prepared to put myself in the position of coming here and stating that I have a cut and dried remedy, a fully worked out solution for a problem that has faced this country for over 100 years and baffled every commission that ever sat to deal with it. I realise that I have responsibility for land purchase. Deputies will agree at least that we are at the beginning of land purchase—I think there was a certain amount of agreement about that—so far as the 1923 Act is concerned. I took the trouble to get all the facts that had any bearing on the question of the acquisition and division of land and, in the light of those facts which I put to the Dáil, I will do the best I can. Those facts, however, are there. They are elicited, I may say, for the first time and they present the other problem in perhaps a clearer light than it was already. They demonstrate one thing at least, and it is useful. They demonstrate that the problem of the congests of the congested districts cannot be dealt with by land purchase. That is, at least, something, because there was a sort of loose idea in this country that we had land enough to make everyone happy and to make everyone economic. We have not. Those figures make it clear, at least to all who are really interested in the problem, that the solution of the problem of the congested districts must be found on other lines than land purchase. I say that while we are prepared to go ahead and ruthlessly acquire all the land we could reasonably acquire under the Land Act of 1923.

If anybody considers that that is rather a despairing note to strike I only want to remind him of the fact that there are only 1,800,000 acres of untenanted land, including every acre of demesne land, left unpurchased in the country. That is the pivotal fact. That can only deal with about 50,000 persons, of whom 40,000, we will say, will be congests. Of course I have naturally done some thinking on this question of the congested districts. In my opinion it is not going to be solved by any one measure, but by a combination of measures, and this is not the time to go into a very big problem like that, as we are dealing now with land purchase.

It was mentioned here that the Congested Districts Board had in their hands for a very long time estates which were undivided. In that connection the Phibbs estate, the Knox estate, and the More O'Ferrall estate were mentioned. The charge is made against the Land Commission very often that they are neglecting to divide untenanted land which they have in their possession in counties like Mayo and Sligo. I am sure that practically every Deputy took it for granted when these estates were mentioned that that was the case. Everyone had a mental picture of a couple of hundred acres of good land in Mayo or Sligo grazed by fine two-and-a-half-year-old cattle owned by some rich man while the unfortunate congests were looking over the ditch and asking when were the Land Commission going to divide the land. That is not the case. I will just take the estates mentioned. I will take the Knox estate first. There are three separate estates to be dealt with. They were acquired by the late Congested Districts Board and the majority of the holdings being rundale their re-sale was held over pending the acquisition of untenanted land. There is no untenanted land on those estates available for the relief of congestion. In other words, this is all tenanted land in rundale and the Land Commission, in the case of that Knox estate— probably it is in an area where congestion is intense, with a great number of small holders and no untenanted land —are faced with a practical application of the dilemma which I put to the Dáil in the figures I gave—a concrete example of the difficulty. Here they have a lot of tenanted land held by a large number of tenants, some of it rundale, and no untenanted land to deal with it. Deputy Roddy may have more information than I have, but that is the note I have about this estate. He will be able to verify or correct it. This is not a case where there are three or four hundred acres of untenanted land with the unfortunate congests looking over the ditch.

There are at least four or five Phibbs estates in the county Sligo. The Minister mentions one particular estate.


I am talking of the Knox estate.

That is not the estate I am referring to.

Is the Knox estate in Sligo?



Then we have not come to Donegal.


I have a note before me from the Land Commission to the effect that there are three Knox estates in Sligo and no untenanted land on any of the three. That is simply an example of the difficulty of vesting land in congests where there is no untenanted land to make their holdings economic—an example of the unwillingness of the Land Commission to vest in congests while there is any hope that they may be able to relieve the situation.

The Phibbs estate was another estate that was mentioned. I will read the note in this connection:

"There are a number of Phibbs estates in County Sligo, some of which have been dealt with under the Land Purchase Acts and some have yet to be dealt with. It is assumed query refers to Eleanor Griffith Phibbs at Kesh. This estate has been dealt with to the satisfaction of local persons and purchase agreements signed October 20th last, for the purchase of the untenanted land."

I have not got a note about the More O'Ferrall estate, but I would be willing to make a small bet with Deputy Sears, if he desires to take me up, that this is an estate without an acre of untenanted land. He may happen to know the particulars. I am sorry I have not got information about it. If I had known that it would be mentioned, I would have got information about it. But I would be willing to make a small bet that there is not an acre of untenanted land on that estate and that it is simply a case of a big estate in County Mayo where there are a very large number of very small congests and where there is no untenanted land in the neighbourhood to deal with the problem. Those are three examples of the inevitable difficulties that will face the Land Commission in this question of the relief of congestion until the Land Commission find some way of doubling the land of the country. I will accept this motion. Deputies may say that it looks as if I had no alternative.

It was framed to help you.


I want to make it clear that I do not admit for one moment that there has been any avoidable delay by the Land Commission in connection with this work of distribution. While I agree that land purchase should be expedited, that some means must be found of expediting it and that it is going too slow at the moment, on the other hand, I do say that on the facts the Land Commission have done an enormous amount of work since 1923. Deputy Sears referred to my giving certain facts and figures on the last occasion and said that they heard all those before and that they did not want to hear them again. He suggested, generally, that facts and figures were not to count in this question of division of land and the rate at which land should be divided. I cannot take that point of view. I think we have to face the division of land just in the same way as we have to face any other problem—that is to say, with a certain amount of reason and with a certain amount of advertence to the facts.

I want to give a few figures. I do not give them for the purpose of justifying the Land Commission, because I do not admit that it needs any justification. But I want to give certain figures which will show the exact position of land-division at the moment. I will give the figures for the whole of the Free State. I can give them, if required, for any county, because I have the schedules here. I am dealing now with the Land Act of 1923, and perhaps it would be well that I should first explain a few terms which I will use. When I say "land is divided," I mean that the allottees are in possession— that the tenants, or tenant-purchasers, are actually in possession. When I say that "re-sale schemes have been prepared," I mean that land has been divided by an inspector on the map, that applicants have been selected, that the areas and rents of each parcel are determined, and that the scheme has gone to the Land Commission for checking, previous to putting the tenants in occupation. When re-sale schemes are prepared, the land is already divided on the map, the allottees have been selected and the scheme is simply being checked. Under the 1923 Act, there are 15,000 acres divided. I want to say that these figures can be taken as absolutely accurate, because I have been careful to understate the figures where there was any possibility of error.

15,000 acres would not be an exact amount.


I will give the Deputy the exact amount.

The Minister stated that he was giving absolutely correct figures.


I was going on to say that wherever it was necessary to make an approximation I made it against myself. The exact figure is 15,142 acres. I put it down for simplicity at 15,000. There are re-sale schemes prepared for and being checked for 35,000 acres. There are re-sale schemes being prepared for 50,000 acres. There are 115,000 acres either priced or gazetted.

When the Minister uses the word "priced," does he mean that a price has been offered?


When I say "priced," I mean that a price has been agreed on, and when I say "gazetted" it means that it does not matter whether a price is agreed on or not, because it goes on in two months. That is so far as the Land Act of 1923 is concerned. Under the previous Acts, since the 1st April, 1923—I deal with that period because I could get the figures more easily for that period—there are 76,613 acres divided. That is a total of 91,613 acres. Deputies will note that out of 91,613 acres there are actually divided 76,613 acres which were acquired under previous Land Acts and only 15,000 under the Act of 1923. Deputy Sears said that, as far as he saw, there was no land divided in Mayo under the Land Act of 1923. That is so—not one perch. But when I turn to the schedule to see what land was divided in Mayo under previous Acts I get 38,544 acres.

Is that since the 1923 Act?


Since the 1st April, 1923. That contains a good deal of bad land, as Deputy Sears and Deputy Roddy stated, but I would like to point out that it is as hard to divide bad land as it is to divide good land, and that sometimes it is even harder. I give that fact and figure as an example.

76,613 acres divided under previous Acts. Does that mean divided since 1903?



Is any of it untenanted land?


It does not matter whether it is tenanted or untenanted. It is land acquired by the Land Commission and divided among people other than the former owners. It is practically all untenanted land. That means that the Land Commission has divided since 1903 91,613 acres.

Does that cover land in the hands of the Congested Districts Board?


Of course the Land Commission is the heir to the Congested Districts Board. In addition to that, since 1923 the Land Commission have vested practically 18,000 holdings containing in the aggregate 581,000 acres in tenant purchasers. The reason I give that figure is this. I have often stated here that the Land Acts of 1903 and 1909 would have to be cleared up. Land bought under the Acts of 1903 and 1909 is just as good to the tenant, and better, because he gets land at 3¼ per cent. as compared with land bought under the Act of 1923. Everyone would agree that it would be unreasonably wrong for the Land Commission, the moment the Act of 1923 was passed, to cease dealing with land acquired under previous Acts. They had, of course, to finish the operations, not only from the point of view of dividing untenanted land but also from the point of view of vesting tenanted land in the owners. Under these Acts when a re-sale scheme was prepared what is called an agreement to purchase was signed, and the tenant was put into his holding under what is known as an agreement to purchase. He then paid interest in lieu of rent, not an annuity, and he was not redeeming his holding. He had a complete title and could not be evicted, but the land was not vested in him, and so far as 18,000 tenant purchasers are concerned all the operations in connection with the vesting of their lands which amounted in the aggregate to over 500,000 acres had to be completed by the Land Commission.

Every farmer knows the procedure. You sign an agreement to purchase, you pay the rent, pay the annuity, and you get a receivable order with ten spaces. It is absolutely essential, in order that that tenant would be redeeming his advance, that he should not be left for any avoidable length of time paying interest in lieu of rent, which does not include sinking fund, and which is at the same time as big as an annuity, and that his holding should be vested in him so that he could begin to pay his annuity as soon as possible. That is a sound thing from the tenants' point of view. The Land Commission and the Congested Districts Board dealt with a tremendous amount of land under the 1903 and 1909 Acts. They put a great number of tenants into possession under agreements to purchase, but vesting had still to be done, and since 1923 the Land Commission have vested 581,000 acres under the Acts of 1903 and 1909, and about 18,000 tenant purchasers. In addition to that, since that date, the Land Commission has had to administer work which it should not properly be doing at all, work which took a large number of outdoor staff, and it had to administer £264,000 in relief grants. I give these figures for what they are worth and Deputies may easily and, perhaps rightly, say, "these figures are no good because we have nothing to compare them with; we are no judges as to how vesting is done, as to how land is divided, or as to the practical difficulties in the way of vesting, dividing or acquiring land."

I will give one figure to enable Deputies to compare that work done since 1903, and it will enable them to test and measure the work. The position is this: Since 1923 the Land Commission divided 91,613 acres, of which 15,000 acres have been under the Act of 1923, and 76,000 acres under previous Acts. Eighteen thousand holdings have been vested, containing in the aggregate 581,000 acres, and they have administered relief work to the tune of £264,000. I will go back and give for various periods between 1903 and 1912 the average work of the Land Commission in the way of division of land. The position is this. I take the high-water mark. From 1907 to 1912 the Land Commission divided annually 31,000 acres. From 1915 to 1921 they divided 7,181 acres annually. From 1912 to 1915 I find that it works out at the same figure—31,000 acres on an average annually. The average does not fluctuate to any appreciable extent. That is the work of the Land Commission. The Congested Districts Board, of course, did its own work, but the staff that did that work and divided 31,000 acres per annum during the years of the high-water mark of land division is little more than the staff doing the work at present.

Are you doing that annually since 1923?


In two and a half years 91,613 acres were divided.

In those years you give the average of vesting and dividing.


Dividing. The average would be about 30,000, as against 31,000 in those years. In addition, vesting has been done, and there has been relief work to the extent of £264,000. I leave out of account all the preliminary work to be done in connection with the new Act, which changes the whole procedure. I leave out of account the delay that of course inevitably occurred when the Congested Districts Board was amalgamated with the Land Commission. I leave out of account the huge mass of work that had to be done when every rent in the country had to be reduced accurately to a penny by 25 per cent. I am leaving out all that, because it would complicate the situation, though it is very material, and I am just putting what I have stated to be the work of the Land Commission since August, 1923. I want for a moment to go back on the question of the division of land. I agree entirely with Deputy Roddy and Deputy Sears that land is not being divided quickly enough. I just want to give what I would consider would be the result of the work of the Land Commission in the way of division of land next year if the same rate was kept up. I said that there were 15,000 acres of land divided already, that re-sale schemes had been prepared in respect of 35,000 acres, and that re-sale schemes are being prepared in respect of 50,000 acres. At that rate by this time next year there would be divided about 45,000 acres and no more. There would be re-sale schemes prepared for about 200,000 acres. I draw attention to these figures because they point to a rather peculiar state of affairs. There are re-sale schemes either prepared or in course of preparation. A re-sale scheme means the division of land on a map with the consent of the allottees.

There are re-sale schemes prepared, or in course of preparation, for 85,000 acres, whereas 15,000 acres have been divided. Next year re-sale schemes will be prepared for 200,000 acres, and only 45,000 acres divided at the present rate, and according to the present procedure. There is no difficulty in the acquisition of land. Deputy Professor Tierney mentioned that there were technicalities in the way, but there is really no difficulty in the acquisition of land. That is expeditiously done, except in exceptional cases. In connection with the preparation of these re-sale schemes, the hold-up occurs between the time when the re-sale scheme is prepared and the land actually divided. That hold-up has always occurred, and at the present rate there would only be 45,000 acres of land divided next year, notwithstanding that 200,000 acres would be divided on the map, and 200,000 acres more acquired. Deputies will be curious to know the reason for that state of affairs. It cannot last. I have been considering the problem for a long time, and I think I have found where the difficulty is. When a scheme is prepared, land is purchased, and an inspector is sent down to the country. He gets all the facts he requires in connection with congests in a neighbourhood, and regarding labourers, and so on. He finally makes up his mind as to who is to get the land, and how much he is to get; he divides the land on his map, and sends up that map with a schedule attached giving the name of each allottee, his address, and a reference number. A certain holding is marked out on the map. The area of that holding, the annuity it is to carry, and other particulars, and also particulars in connection with any old holding which the congest has, and with which the new holding is to be consolidated.

It is at this point the delay takes place, and for this reason: all holdings purchased under any of the Land Acts are registered in the Registry of Titles under the Act called "Local Registration of Titles Act." Before the passing of that Act there was great difficulty and expense in connection with proving titles. If a man who owned a small farm wished to transfer it to somebody he went to a solicitor and made searches in the Registry of Deeds and Titles for fear there would be any bankruptcy, and so forth. That would extend over a long time, and there would be a tremendous amount of expense. In that way the operation of assigning lands from one to another was extremely difficult and expensive. Any man of any age in the Dáil will remember the procedure under the Local Registration of Titles Act. It is laid down that the vesting order, which is called a folio, and which the tenant purchaser receives, is evidence of everything that appears on the face of it when the holding is vested in a tenant purchaser by the Land Commission. The title is registered in the Registry of Deeds and Titles.

That document, known as a folio, sets out for the tenant purchaser his exact area of land, his exact rent, his rights of way, any reservations in special rates, and everything else in connection with the holding is set out there. That certificate must be prepared, therefore, with the most minute care. For instance, litigation and disputes in connection with rights of way are rather frequent. There are practical difficulties in connection with a right of way into a bog. What happens is that after the right of way has been used for some time it gets worn, and the people who are entitled to use it pull aside a bit and go into another man's turbary, and there is trespass for a yard or two into another man's bank. When the case is brought to court for settlement that folio, with a map attached, is there. That folio must be accurate to a foot with regard to measurements, and it must be absolutely accurate in showing the exact point where the fences run, and equally accurate in regard to every other detail. There may be a dispute regarding the annuity, the drainage maintenance rate, or as to the general area, and any dispute in connection with that land is settled quite simply, and there is no further evidence available but the land certificate.

That whole procedure has been of the greatest assistance to tenant purchasers. It enables them to settle their title dispute cases without much cost, and these cases used to rob people in the past. That is the case no longer. It was extremely expensive to transfer land, but all that has been avoided by the Local Registration of Titles Act, which laid it down that the folio supplied to the tenant purchaser on the registration of the holding is absolute proof. That shows the necessity for the greatest care in connection with the checking of re-sale schemes. If in one single re-sale scheme it was found, for instance, that the annuity was too high or too low on the folio, or if the area was found to be wrong, then that would shake the whole system to its foundations. I do not think that in a single case under the Land Acts of 1903 and 1909 there has been a mistake on the folio, because the whole system which originated with the Local Registration of Titles aimed at obviating the delays, difficulties and expenses of the old methods of proving title. The whole system would collapse if it was found even in one or two cases that there was a mistake.

They must be prepared with greater detail and minuteness. That is the reason it has taken so long. After the re-sale scheme comes up to the Land Commission they divide the land. The staff must be highly skilled, and, to a great extent, must be legal men. If the present rate goes on there will be only 45,000 acres divided within the next year, whereas there will be 200,000 acres ready for division. I have had conferences with the Land Commission and we decided to alter the whole procedure. In fact, the alteration has been arranged for a week. We have adopted a new procedure in this matter. Of course we have not altered the old procedure under which vesting orders are checked with the greatest minuteness, but it has been decided for the future that when a re-sale scheme comes up to the Land Commission it will be checked in the first instance in one respect only and that is by the selection of allottees. If the Commissioners decide that the allottees are the right allottees an inspector will get back a scheme and can put allottees into possession under a temporary convenience agreement. The scheme is then sent back to the office to be checked and altered. It can then be checked and given all the time and attention that it should get, but in the meantime the man is in possession. Under that scheme which is now in operation there will be at least 200,000 acres of land divided by this time next year and at the end of this month 40,000 acres should be divided. That particular scheme will expedite land purchase by trebling the rate at which it is proceeding. I agree that division was too slow, but that was inevitable for the reasons that I mentioned. The only way out of the difficulty is to adopt the scheme I have outlined. It has been adopted by the Land Commission, and as a result land will be divided much more quickly. I should say that there will be 30,000 or 40,000 acres of land divided before Christmas and certainly 200,000 acres by the end of the year.

I want to add that there is no delay whatever in the acquisition of land. There is no delay in preparing re-sale schemes. The figures show that. There is no delay only what comes from checking schemes, but they will no longer be checked until the tenant purchasers are in. They will be put in under temporary agreements. That will not solve the difficulty. We would occasionally put in the wrong men and occasionally we would have to put them out again. Of course, I would expect questions from Deputies on different sides of the Dáil about that.

What about the appointed day? You have not mentioned when it is likely that these purchasers under the Land Act who got a reduction of 5/- will get 7/-.


The reason such a small number has been dealt with is that we had to vest over 500,000 acres under the old Acts. That has been done. I will accept the motion.

I want to intervene and ask if Deputies would agree to the adjournment of the Dáil from this evening until 3 p.m. on Wednesday next.

Is the motion for the adjournment to be taken now?

No. It was really to give intimation to Deputies.

If it is likely that the debate would go on I would not intervene now but I want to make a few remarks.

If the Vice-President is moving the adjournment until Wednesday and that it is agreed that it will not be debated later on, this particular debate cannot continue, of course.

My idea in intervening was to let Deputies know, if our wish in the matter is met, that the Dáil will not be meeting to-morrow and we thought, in dealing with this resolution, that it would be as well they should know that.

There are just one or two words I want to say on the discussion, in reference to the Minister's statement of the facts, as he said, showing the limited amount of land there is for distribution, the great number of applicants for that land, and that the Dáil and the country must recognise the fact that the land problem is not settled by the Land Act of 1923. Of course that is the effect of his statement.


The congestion problem.

I only just want to refer to the address of the Governor-General on the 3rd October, 1923, paragraph 13:—

"The problem of land tenure, that great and, as it seems, perennial obstacle to the economic development of Ireland, has been finally disposed of by the Land Law Act which alone would have made your past Session notable."


The Deputy has unintentionally misquoted me. I said that the problem of the congested districts would not be solved compeltely by land purchase. I did not say that the problem of land tenure or of land purchase could not be solved completely by the Land Act of 1923. What I did say was that the problem presented by the congested districts could not be solved finally by land purchase, and that problem, I pointed out, was a lot more than the land problem.

The Minister may make his fine definitions, but the effect of his statement here to-day is that the land problem is not going to be solved, and there is going to be a still further problem for some future Ministry because of the fact that the Land Act of 1923 did not solve the problem. I repeat the Governor-General's address, this portion of it. There are other portions which I would like to repeat also, but they would not appertain to this discussion.

"The problem of land tenure. that great and, as it seems, perennial obstacle to the economic development of Ireland, has been finally disposed of by the Land Law Act, which alone would have made your past Session notable. That Act makes generous provision for the completion, with the financial assistance of the State, of land purchase, and will secure to the agricultural community enjoyment to the full of the fruits of their toil. It will bring relief to the occupiers of uneconomic holdings, and enable them to order their lives and bring up their families in reasonable comfort and security."


Every word is correct.

The 145,000 who are to be relieved are not going to be provided with economic holdings. They are still to be congested. They are still to be in the position of looking for further relief from some future Ministry of Lands and Agriculture, and I think it is just as well to note that the Minister's repetition that it is necessary for the Dáil to recognise the facts of the situation, would have been well stated from those Benches when he was talking about the Land Act when he introduced it, and it would have been well if the same facts had been stated by the advocates in the country when they went to the election hustings of 1923.

I want to ask a question in regard to the Minister's statement. The Minister did not answer any of the questions put to him. Does he intend to answer them later?


I will, if the Dáil will give me an opportunity.

The debate will be resumed next Wednesday, and the Minister will be certainly allowed to make a second statement or to answer any questions put to him That is the constant practice.

I move the adjournment of the debate.

Agreed to.

I move the adjournment of the Dáil to 3 o'clock on Wednesday.

Question put and agreed to.
The Dáil adjourned at 8.20 to 3 o'clock on Wednesday, December 2nd.