Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

When the debate was adjourned yesterday afternoon, I was endeavouring to draw attention to the very serious financial consequences involved for the taxpayers in the event of Clause 37 being passed in its present form. That clause gives power to the Commissioners to issue land bonds in the cases of estates or lands purchased by trustees to the extent of the present value put on the lands by the Commissioners. It further gives very drastic power to the Minister for Lands and Agriculture and to the Minister for Finance to meet the difference between the value placed on the land by the Commissioners and the price originally paid out of the taxpayers' pockets. I regard that as a serious blot on this very important and necessary measure. The banks which have been responsible for encouraging foolish people to pay fabulous prices for land during the European war are relieved from liabilities which they would otherwise have to shoulder. In the case of ordinary citizens who were foolish enough to secure advances from the banks at ridiculously high prices in the years 1917, 1918, 1919 and 1920, they must put up with the consequences of their action, but people such as trustees or those who come under the terms of this measure will be relieved of all financial obligations. The point I desire to make is that the value of land now held by people to whom it was given by trustees is not more than half the purchase price paid in 1920. I have been told by two auctioneers who do extensive business that land would not now fetch more than one-third of the price paid for it during the period referred to.

If such land is not worth more than half of its original value, why should not the banks cut half their losses and the State meet them half-way? Why should the State and the Minister relieve the banks which showed bad banking capacity? I protest against this clause giving these powers to the Minister for Lands and Agriculture and the Minister for Finance, because I believe, if such powers are given, a similar case could be made for giving relief to individual business men who incurred financial obligations in the years referred to. We have heard a good deal from Ministers, both inside and outside the Dáil, about the economic blow struck at the State by the Republicans in the years 1922 and 1923. From what I see going on in the country, my personal opinion is that the joint stock banks have struck, and are still striking, a far greater blow economically at this State than the Republicans did in the years referred to. Deputies should not lightly pass on to the Minister for Finance the responsibility of relieving the banks concerned from their own bad banking business. I want to know from the Minister whether he or the Minister for Finance has had any negotiations with the banks in regard to this matter. If he has are we to understand that the banks definitely decline to meet the Government in regard to the financial obligations under this clause If the value of land is only half of its value in the years 1919 and 1920 I do not see why the Minister should take over all liabilities from the banks. If the banks are to be relieved of liabilities, caused by their bad business methods during that particular period, the Government should not meet them more than half way. Take the case of an estate bought by the Land Bank, which is now really the Bank of Ireland, the bank, which so far as I can see dictates the financial policy of the Government. There is such an estate in Offaly which was sold for £10,000, and people have been paying interest in connection with it, but that estate to-day could not be valued by the Commissioners at anything higher than £4,000. The State, or the taxpayer, has therefore to come to the assistance of people in occupation of the land and shoulder £6,000 of the £10,000 originally paid for the land. I suggest that it would be reasonable to ask the banks to cut their losses by half. Let the State shoulder one half of the loss and the banks the other half. Has the Minister put up such a proposition to the banks, or did he go to them as a good fellow and say, "here is a present of £6,000"? These lands which were bought for £10,000 are, as I point out, now only worth about £4,000. If a Division is called on the measure I will have to vote against it. I like some of the clauses, some are urgent and necessary, but I will vote against the Second Reading for the reasons I have just stated.

What about the elections?

This is not an election dodge. I have referred to this matter here before. I can see this policy being further pursued if the Agricultural Credit Corporation is set up. If the House agrees to the principle of this clause they will be asked when the Corporation is set up to take over all the liabilities of the people who are now in the Farmers' Defence League but who were previously in Deputy Wilson's Farmers' Union.

Why did they not stay in it?

They mutineed against its policy, I suppose.

And do you agree with that policy?

I agree that it is a good policy for a person who is in an awkward position to join any organisation that will help him to get out of it. The same policy was pursued by the people on the opposite benches three or four years ago.

We cannot allow Deputy Davin to be cross-examined until he becomes a Minister.

I hope I will never be called upon to support a Labour Government if it fathered a measure including things of that kind, under the circumstances and for the reasons I have given. I casually referred yesterday evening to Section 8, with reference to the powers proposed to be given to the Commission not to take over by compulsion lands which are supposed to be used for the breeding of thoroughbred live-stock. Without giving the name of the place to which I referred, I guessed, and I now know well, that the Minister is fully conversant with the case. It is that of an owner of land in the County of Offaly, in a place where there was a demand by the uneconomic holders and landless men for the acquisition of the lands. The farm referred to is composed of 280 Irish acres of land, and, as far as I could find out from a couple of reliable people from the area whom I met by accident this morning, none of the land is under tillage. There are two or three people employed on it, and there are ten brood mares on the farm, not eight, as stated yesterday evening. This individual has 700 acres more. I raised the question in the House on a couple of occasions as to what the Land Commission proposed to do in this particular case, and on each occasion the Minister said that the matter was still under consideration. I know that the case has been under consideration for a considerable period, but I now know, or suspect, that the Minister has inserted this particular clause to enable him when the Bill is passed to give me a very definite reply, namely, that the lands referred to are, in the opinion of the Commissioners, being used for the purpose of breeding thoroughbred stock. I want the Minister to tell me if that is the kind of case that he has in mind when he proposes to give powers to the Land Commission not to proceed to acquire such lands by compulsion. As I say, this man has 700 acres of land besides this, and surely that land is sufficient to enable him and his dependents to earn a living, provided it is used in the right way. I merely mention the case again to ascertain from the Minister if that is the type of case that has forced him to bring in this clause, and I have no doubt, if that is so, that he will use it to prevent the Commissioners from acquiring land elsewhere held under similar circumstances and for the same reason.

Deputy Connor Hogan, in a speech which made me feel that he had left the Party to which he belongs, because it was of a kind different from what we are accustomed to hear from him, stated that land should be bought at an economic price. I am sorry he is not present now, but I would like to know from him, or from the Minister, who the people are who are to judge what is an economic price for land under present circumstances.

Deputy Connor Hogan ought to know that the procedure is that the Commissioners, or their inspectors, value the land and make an offer to the owner of the figure they arrive at, when taking the land for the relief of congestion. If the owner or the landlord refuses to accept the price and if the Commissioners wish to acquire these lands for a particular purpose, the owner or the landlord has the right to have the case referred to the Judicial Commissioner, and under present circumstances the Judicial Commissioner is the judge and the final authority as to the economic price. I believe that decisions have been given, and land has been divided as a result of these decisions, that made the land an uneconomic proposition at the price at which it was handed over. I do not know if Deputy Connor Hogan has any proposal to put forward in Committee to alter the procedure by which the price of land is fixed, whether it be economic or not.

I merely intervened in this debate to emphasise the seriousness of the position which is created by the inclusion of Clause 37. Otherwise I congratulate the Minister for introducing clauses which have been rendered necessary as a result of the experience of the Commissioners since the passing of the 1923 Act, but if Deputy Wilson calls for a Division I will gladly accompany him into the Lobby to vote against the measure because it contains the proposals in Section 37 to which I have referred.

If Deputy Davin wants a Division I am sure he will call for it himself. If I believed the measure to be as worthless as he does I know what I would do. He shows such an amount of courage here and outside that there is just one thing up to him. In discussing Section 8 he tried to introduce the question of the Farmers' Organisation in his constituency. He has made a statement in connection with the individual who he indicates is in possession of this land. I do not know how much trouble he has taken to satisfy himself about the facts. Our information is that the statement that this individual is in possession of another farm is not correct. The matter wants some clearing up.

Seeing that the Deputy has taken the trouble to contradict me, will he give the real facts?

I am just indicating that there are two sides to every question. With regard to the Deputy's other remark about the influences that may have been used, he makes a good deal of things at times, and I am sure he wants to blow off steam. With regard to the Bill, there is no doubt, as Deputy Connor Hogan said, the Minister has included some things which are very necessary and desirable, and some things, which from the point of view of the tenant farmers, are not necessary or desirable. Section 3, which was referred to by Deputy Wolfe, contains a provision obliging the tenant of a holding to apply to the Land Commission for leave to cut a tree. I agree that the wholesale cutting of timber which was experienced all over the country for a few years past is very undesirable, but I might point out to the Minister—and I am sure he is himself cognisant of the fact—that the wholesale cutting of timber cannot be laid at the door of the tenant farmers. It was the landlords who were largely responsible for denuding the country, the people with whom Deputy Davin would like to identify some of us. I might say that he will not go into some of our constituencies and stand over that statement very long. It does not seem very reasonable that if I as a tenant planted some timber twenty years ago I should have to make application to the Minister for permission to cut one tree. I think that is unreasonable and I say, further, that it is very doubtful if that law will be recognised. I ask the Minister if he considers it advisable to have such a section in the Bill if it will not be recognised. Sections 25 to 33, which Deputy Connor Hogan dealt with at length, include a good deal of matter which the Minister could very well have excluded from the Bill. We know that recently during the course of an extensive tour which he made through a number of counties the Minister stated very positively that they were going to collect the annuities. I do not know if the Press recorded that he was applauded for that statement.

There are a good many parts of the country where, if he made that statement at present, he would be accorded very little applause. I am not referring to the type of man who wants to be relieved of his obligations to the State, but rather to the thousands of farmers who are prepared to pay if they could, but are not able. When you are dealing with the type of man who regrets the unfortunate position in which he finds himself, who will write to me, as his representative, and to other Deputies, pointing out his difficulty, asking us to interview the Land Commission, and urging that he should not be pressed to pay his annuity, inasmuch as he is not able to pay, although he is willing to do so, you have to admit that, in view of these very drastic powers that the Minister evidently intends to exercise, it is a serious matter. If these provisions were there, and as sometimes happens in many Acts, were not made operative, we might be prepared to pass over it lightly. But we feel that that is not the Minister's intention, and that he is inserting these clauses because he means them to operate. I urged here before, and I think events have justified some of the statements I made, that it is impossible for the State to compel the farmer to respond to his obligations to the State if he finds himself up against unforeseen difficulties, up against a calamity which he was not able to avoid, if the State will not discharge a certain duty to him. The State has up to the present neglected to come to the aid of thousands of farmers who have suffered very grievous losses and for whom nothing has been done. But now the Minister wants power from the Dáil to inflict further hardships on these people, if that is possible. I do not believe that the Minister is wise in seeking these powers. I think it would be a sounder policy nationally and a better one politically for him not to ask for these sections.

Under Section 33 he proposes to hand over, with the consent of the Minister for Local Government and Public Health, authority to county councils to purchase farms and manage them. I do not think that that proposition will commend itself to any county council. Here you have the position that when farms are held by men who owe certain sums to the State, for a certain period the State is responsible for the collection of these debts. Now, if through failure on the part of the State, on the one hand, to come to the aid of the farmers, the farmers are incapable of meeting their obligations, or, on the other hand, owing to the administration not being satisfactory, the State has not collected its debts, the whole matter is to be turned over to the county council to make the best of it. The Land Commission may wash their hands of those people after they have failed and fling them at the heads of the county council. I cannot see any county council doing it. I would not advise any county council to take up where the Land Commission left off and be responsible for the management of the lands or for using them in any way whatever, because I do not think it can be done, and I do not see any necessity for the section.

Deputy Wolfe yesterday made references to Section 34 which deals with labourers' cottages. If the Deputy was correctly reported, or if his interpretation is correct, the section would have a much wider meaning and effect than some of us contemplate. He suggests that under the section labourers' cottages may be purchased by the Land Commission. I take it that the powers set out are only powers to purchase labourers' cottages under certain specific conditions where they may be on holdings which the Land Commission is taking over for the purpose of sub-division. I want to have it made clear whether or not the intention is that the labourers' cottages built under the Labourers (Ireland) Acts are going to be taken over or purchased.

With regard to Section 35, dealing with turbary rights, I should like to have from the Minister a definition of what exactly turbary rights are, the enjoyment of which tenants were entitled to prior to the vesting. I have experience of bodies of tenants on many estates who signed agreements with their landlord years ago giving them the right to turbary for one shilling per year. They understood that they had a right to go in during the lifetime of the landlord and make turf on these bogs. I want to know if that is the definition of turbary rights the Minister has in mind. I do know that since the passing of the 1923 Act, although in very many cases the rents were fixed after taking into account that turbary was to be supplied to the tenants at the nominal sum of a shilling per year, those landlords have gone and set those bogs annually and tenants have been forced to pay £1, £2 and £3 yearly for the right they enjoyed before the passing of the 1923 Act at the nominal sum of a shilling. I should like to have a definition of what turbary rights are. I want to know if any landlord who signed an agreement with his tenants giving them the right to turbary for a nominal sum has the right to break that agreement under the 1923 Act, and if the landlord, as we might say, resumes all rights to the turbary and is in a position to charge whatever he likes for it.

I do not know that Deputy Wilson will accommodate Deputy Davin. Our feeling about the measure is that it is both good and bad. An effort may be made to remove some of the weaknesses. I think myself the Minister would have done better by excluding some of the very contentious sections from Section 25 to Section 33, because in my opinion it will be very difficult to make these sections operative. If the law as it stands is not sufficient to compel the tenant farmer to shoulder his obligations, the Minister will have to recognise that there is something else wrong, and I do not think that he will find a remedy in these sections. I urge him to try and discover what else is wrong, and apply a better remedy than the one which he seeks here.

I will not waste the time of the House praising the Bill, because it speaks for itself, but there are a few points on which I wish to have an explanation. One point has to do with the section dealing with tidal embankments. Under the Act of 1923 a sum of money was set aside by the Land Commission, the dividend from which was to maintain these embankments. It was not invested very well, and not alone is the dividend gone, but the capital is gone in some cases. I do not know what way the Minister is going to provide that the county councils shall maintain those embankments if they are handed over. I hope that he will get a sufficient sum from the owners under the 1923 Act to maintain them so that their repair will not fall on the ratepayers. The same thing would apply to drains and watercourses. Where these have been kept clean by the owner, I think some sum of money should be put aside, the revenue from which would keep them in proper order, without having to go to the local rates for a subsidy.

Then there is the question of the sub-division of holdings. I think the Minister might be more elastic in his terms for the sub-division of holdings. A holding of 50 acres which may be good land may have a low valuation, and because of the valuation being low the Land Commission may assume that if it was sub-divided the holdings would be uneconomic. A person may be in such financial circumstances that he may wish to sub-divide, and by selling some of the land he may have sufficient capital to work the remainder.

Then in connection with estates that have been sub-divided, a proper right of way or passage should be provided for the different holdings. As we know of old, rights of way were very contentious matters and very often led to a good deal of litigation, so that it would be well to have the matter of rights of way provided for.

Deputy Baxter referred to the question of defaulters. I am afraid that a good deal of the default really is due to the fact that persons will not pay, rather than that they are not able. I had an experience of one man recently who came to me. He was four years in arrears and had got a threatening notice from the Land Commission that if he did not pay up within six days legal proceedings would be taken. He wanted further time to pay, and one of the reasons he gave for wanting an extension of time was that he would be getting his dividend out of brewery shares.

Is he representative of the general body?

Is he an ordinary farmer?

It happened in that case at all events. It is quite unfair that a man who was four years in arrear should be let off with a threatening notice, while the man who is only six months in arrear will get the some notice, and if he does not pay perhaps legal proceedings will be taken against him. I think the same conditions should apply to defaulters under the Land Acts as applies in connection with the Board of Works, where penal interest is charged on arrears. I know of a person who sent his cheque on to the Bank of Ireland for payment to the Board of Works and it was returned to him for the penal interest to be added to it, as he was late in his payment. I went to the Bank of Ireland in connection with the matter, and I found that the penal interest assessed amounted to 6d. It was rather hard on that man to be put to all that trouble because of 6d., but at the same time it has the effect of making people recognise their liabilities and pay to date. Fancy a man being penalised 6d. because he was a few days late in his payment, and a man four years in arrear not being penalised! Other farmers who are ratepayers are penalised for the default of such men by the fact that the agricultural grant is withheld. Deputy Baxter gave as a reason for many people being in default that the State has not come to their rescue. I do not see how the State could come to the rescue of individual farmers who are down and out like that. No doubt a good many of them have lost stock, not through their own fault. But in Australia, South Africa, and other countries farmers have lost stock, and I never heard of them applying to the State for relief.

Has the Deputy noticed what the farmers in America are trying to get done?

And have succeeded.

I suppose they are following the example of the Irish farmers. Deputy Cosgrave last night referred to the question of evicted tenants. I should say rather that he read out a statement—the same statement that he has read out here on three or four occasions about evicted tenants. I do not know that there are any genuine evicted tenants existing at present. I cannot imagine Deputy Cosgrave persuading us that in Galway there are genuine evicted tenants to-day or the descendants of genuine evicted tenants and at the same time that land grabbers are in possession of their places in Galway, of all counties in Ireland. I can imagine Deputy Cosgrave putting that up in another Parliament and trying to persuade the people there that that is so, and they would pretend to him, the honourable gentleman from Galway, that he was right, but I cannot imagine the Teachtaí of Dáil Eireann believing it.

I have been exercising my mind for the last few days as to why the farmers opposed the Liquor Bill. Deputy Nolan has given the clue —they opposed it because they own brewery shares, and will not pay rent. I suggest to the Minister for Agriculture that when this Bill is in operation as an Act that he should employ Deputy Nolan as collector-general of the annuities, and he would by that means give effect to the words of the Deputy himself. Generally speaking the Bill is a compromise, and the Minister has gone a long way to meet the farmers. I agree that he has met in a reasonable way many of the things we put up to him. Some of the sections are bad; for instance, there is the section handing over to the county councils land from which people have been evicted.

For which people will not pay their rent. Fancy the county council under the present law not being allowed to appoint a workhouse porter, a body which is not sufficiently important to appoint a rent collector, being engaged in scientifically managing estates in the county for the purpose of making them a suitable proposition for the Land Commission. We do not agree that is a reasonable proposal. If the county councils are corrupt, and I presume that is the reason why the appointments have been taken from them, what greater field for corruption could you give them than to give them the management of the estates in the county when the land is thrown derelict? In connection with potential building land, perhaps the Minister would agree on the Committee Stage where the landlord is resuming the potential building site during the five years to put in a section forcing the landlord to give the occupiers reasonable value in the way of compensation. By reason of the Act of 1923 these men have lost their tenant right, and under this Act if the landlord wishes to resume that land, I ask that there be inserted in the Bill a clause forcing the landlord to pay a reasonable price to these tenants.

He must pay resumption price unless it is a future tenancy.

We have cases where the Court decided that the land was potential building land and the tenant got notice to quit, and there was no such thing as offering resumption price. I would like the Minister to take a note of that. The question of residential holdings, fee-farm grantees, and other subjects had been already dealt with. The Bill will do a lot in disposing of the odd cases left out in the 1923 Act. I do not agree with Deputy Davin that the banks are quite in the position he states. He says these banks advanced a good deal of money, and that it was bad business, as the land that the money was advanced on was only worth half the amount now. The banks in those cases got security on perhaps 20 or 30 farms and it is not really the case of one farm at all. Further, these men got themselves into this difficulty by reason of attempting to do a public duty, that is the provision of land for uneconomic holders. It was not a personal matter with them, and it is only that account that the State attempts to deal with this matter. Hundreds of thousands of farmers got advances from the banks and their holdings are not dealt with. We hope that they will be dealt with by the Agricultural Credit Society. These men, probably inspired by the doctrines of Sinn Fein, anxious to place people on the land, went security for the purpose of helping the State in settling this question. They got themselves involved, and it is only these cases the Bill provides for.

I only wish to raise a few points. It is not clear from Section 21 whether improvement work can be carried out in estates purchased prior to 1923. That is a point upon which the Minister might give an explanation. I do not agree with Deputy Connor Hogan that any hardship will be inflicted on county councils because they are asked to assume responsibility under this measure for the maintenance of embankments. In some counties already provision has been made for maintaining them and collecting rates for restoration schemes carried out under the Arterial Drainage Act of 1924. I presume the same machinery that will be used as for carrying out the administrative details of the Arterial Drainage Act. It seems to me that if there is not to be responsibility in the matter of maintenance of this kind the schemes are likely to be a failure. Schemes have to be controlled either by a central or a local body. I think the county councils have a certain responsibility imposed on them under the 1925 Act. It is only right and proper they should be asked by the Land Commission to resume responsibility in the future for the maintenance of embankments of this kind. Regarding Section 34, which relates to labourers' cottages, I am not clear as to the meaning of section. It is stated:—

"Notwithstanding anything contained in Section 7 of the Labourers (Ireland) Act, 1896, any local authority in whom is vested any cottage erected or acquired under the Labourers (Ireland) Acts, 1883 to 1919, which has ceased to be required for the purposes of those Acts, may, with the sanction of the Minister," etc.

I do not quite understand when it is required for the purpose of this Act and when it is not required. Does the section only apply to the occupants of labourers' cottages adjacent to estates about to be acquired? The wording of that section seems to me to be rather vague. As I understand it, Section 33 is a permissive section and county councils will not have power to acquire land unless the sale by the Land Commission proves a burden. I agree to an extent with the point raised by Deputy Wilson that there is a certain amount of danger in placing lands under the control of county councils. First of all, county councils are an administrative and not a managing body, and even though the county councils may be composed largely of farmers, still the actual managerial details will be left in the hands of officials who in the majority of cases know nothing about land. It is doubtful at present in many counties if the Minister would get county councils to assume responsibility of that kind because of the unpopularity involved. However, probably on account of the higher tone among members of the county councils now, you may be able to get some of them to assume responsibility of that kind. I am not satisfied that the section is satisfactory. Perhaps on the Committee Stage the Minister may find other ways and means of meeting the difficulty.

In connection with the question of potential building land a point has been raised here which I would like to clear up. When the report of the committee that considered the Bill was dealt with certain provisions were made in the Bill for dealing with this type of case, and the Minister proposes that potential building land where it is part of the holding is to be cut off, and the remainder of the holding to come within the terms of the Bill. When the committee was dealing with this question my colleague and I supported the principle of the amendment brought forward by Deputy Heffernan to cover this type of case. While the Minister did not accept the principle of the amendment he went some way to meet it, and he proposed, and now proposes in the Bill, where potential building land is not resumed by the landlord after a period of five years that it is to be included with the remainder of the holding and to receive the benefits of the Bill. I understood from the Minister when the matter was being discussed in Committee that in the case of a person who had to forfeit his holding as potential building land that the value of the land would be paid to him.

That is the resumption price.


Would the Minister say on what he bases that price? I realise, and the Minister made it clear in Committee, and I think it is due to Deputy Wilson——

As I understand the case, a future tenant based on a tenancy created since 1881 will not get anything.


I am satisfied, if that is so, that that would lead to very grave hardship as regards certain people I have in mind. There is the case of a man who purchased seven or eight acres of land a couple of years ago and paid the price of £75 per acre for it. While I realise how difficult it is to cover every case, I submit that if that man loses the £75 he paid for the land it would be a very grave hardship, and that ought to be obviated when we come to the Committee Stage. I hope the Minister will clear up that matter definitely when replying. I also want to refer to the discussion that took place at the Committee and the result of that discussion in connection with the proposal to do something for evicted tenants. No member of the House would deny that very much more can be done than has been done for evicted tenants.

So far as we know absolutely nothing has been done to meet the case of evicted tenants. Deputy Cosgrave brought an amendment before the Committee to cover the case of certain evicted tenants. It might be difficult to put words into this Bill that would cover that type of case, but I suggest something might be done, and I will give the Minister an opportunity of dealing with that question when the Committee Stage is reached by submitting to him a proposal that was defeated by the Committee, to deal with the evicted tenants question on different lines altogether.

The Minister's case in connection with evicted tenants has been, and will be, the difficulty of obtaining holdings on which to reinstate evicted tenants or their representatives. In order to get rid of the legacy we have in connection with evicted tenants; to get rid of the complaints that men who made sacrifices have been let down and nothing has been done for them, and the difficulties the Minister has to face, the whole matter might be dealt with on different lines. I am suggesting that the Land Commission should be empowered to set up a tribunal to assess compensation for the evicted tenants, and that compensation should be leviable wholly on people in occupation of the holdings at the present time.

I do not think anybody will deny that we will have to get rid of this question eventually. In my opinion, existing legislation and the legislation which is proposed in this measure, unless it is amended, falls far short of what is desired. I trust the Minister will give every consideration to the matters I have mentioned, and I hope he will see his way to have the Bill suitably amended.

I desire to refer to Section 20, in which the Minister is seeking power to transfer to county councils the maintenance of embankments in certain circumstances. I am not in agreement with that. I doubt if it is a wise provision to make. It makes for divided responsibility, and divided responsibility will inevitably give rise to administrative difficulty and will undoubtedly lead to additional expenditure, expenditure which could be avoided by having all the work done under common control. Deputy Roddy seems to think that he is getting little divided responsibility in this regard, but I do not believe he is quite right. The actual reconstruction work in connection with embankments will still remain with the Land Commission, while the maintenance work will be transferred to the county council. There must always be a very close connection between construction and maintenance work, and for that reason I think this provision is likely to lead to considerable loss to everybody concerned.

Prior to the introduction of the Land Act, 1923, certain landlords had the maintenance of the embankments in their own hands. When this measure was pending certain landlords refused to discharge their obligations in this respect, and as a consequence breaches in the embankments have occurred. These breaches have resulted in very serious loss to a good many farmers. I would like to know if the Minister is prepared to consider some means by which these men can be compensated for the losses sustained.

There is another matter I desire to deal with. I do not think it has been referred to before. I refer to holdings which became tenanted while abnormally high prices were prevailing. In these particular cases the lands were put up for auction, and the rent was fixed by the landlord in many instances. I contend these rents were based on the high prices then prevailing and they are now quite uneconomic. If the holdings are taken over by the Land Commission under the Land Acts the purchase price of the land will be based on these uneconomic rents, and I think it is quite unfair to the tenant and to the country that that should occur. I would like the Minister to deal with that matter when he is replying.

As regards the embankments, I understand there is a desire to get rid of this work on the part of the Land Commission, and possibly there are very good reasons for that. If there is such a desire, I suggest the Minister should transfer all the work to the Board of Works and so avoid the divided responsibility that I have referred to.

I would like to refer to long leaseholders. These things are rather mixed up and it is very difficult to deal with them all. These men at one stage, in order to get security of tenure, paid certain fines and had the rents fixed by the landlords for their holdings. They had very little option but to accept the terms offered by the landlord. Now they find themselves in a less favourable position than their neighbours who did not purchase. An effort should be made to apply the conditions of the 1923 Act to these men, if it is possible.

Quite a lot has been said on this Bill, particularly by the farmers who are really interested in the welfare of the people they represent here. When Deputy Shaw was speaking last night he said he was not well up on land matters. Probably I may be put in the same position as I may not be as well up on the subject as some of the farmers.

You are very modest.

I would like to deal now with Section 3, which has been approved by some Deputies, even Deputy Davin. In the course of his speech last night he approved of that section, which forbids any person who gets a holding or a small parcel of land from the Land Commission either selling it or sub-letting it. I would like to remind the Minister that when his agents purchase land in the country, and when a tenant is given portion of that land, that tenant finds himself in the awkward position of not being able to meet even his annuities.

If the Government are really serious, and if they are acting in the true interests of the people, the least to expect, where the Land Commission purchase estates, is that the people who get parcels of the land purchased will get some subsidy from the State, even in the nature of a loan, so as to enable them to stock the land and utilise it to some advantage.

On several occasions here I have brought cases of real hardship before the Minister. I have pointed out where men are not able to meet their rents. If the Minister really wants to prove he is genuine and that the law of the Saorstát is better than was the law of the British Government when the British were in control here, he will give some help to those who get parcels of land.

With regard to Section 25, I would like to know from the Minister if there is any possible chance, at least until this Bill becomes an Act, of preventing the wholesale robbery, on behalf of the Minister and his Department, by way of the amount of decrees got against unfortunate people who have no means of livelihood at the present time? Can the execution of these decrees be prevented at least for a time? I have a case in mind where a man owed £37. He paid £22 10s., and was prepared to pay the remainder at the expiration of six months, with the half-year's rent. That offer was refused by the Land Commission and there was a decree got against the man for £7 9s. With costs, the amount he was called upon to pay came to £11 15s.


You should acquaint Deputy White of that fact.

I can give the Minister full proof of such hardship. It is all very well for Farmer Deputies to get up here. Some of them do mean well, but deep down in their hearts they know it is impossible for some of the people they are supposed to represent here to meet the annuities charged by the Land Commission. Outside Deputy Cosgrave or Deputy McKenna, I have not heard any Deputy asking that a stay be put on the execution of these decrees.

At present you have every State Solicitor in the land armed with decrees. In fact, the State Solicitor, as Deputy Davin said last night, is doing the duty of the sheriff, notwithstanding that he knows well that these people cannot possibly afford to pay. The sheriff finds there is nothing to seize; the result is an examination and possibly a committal order. Put them into prison! That is really what our Government wants to do with the small farmers, those who cannot possibly afford to pay owing to bad times and high taxation.

I would like to refer to the beautiful order we are going to get under Section 28 of this Bill. Under that section the sheriff will have power, when he receives from the Land Commission a decree for any amount due, to make a seizure, notwithstanding that the unfortunate person may have had very bad times for two or three years. He may be a man with a large family—a small farmer occupying ten or twelve acres and having, possibly, five or six children. If his boys and girls are grown up, there is no employment for them. The Minister for Lands and Agriculture and his associates want, according to this section, to take anything that is in the man's house, whether or not it is that man's property. If an outsider leaves his bicycle in the yard the sheriff can come along and take it, and if the owner wants to recover his bicycle he will have to go to as much expense as would buy a new one.


It is dangerous for the coming election.

I am not speaking about the election. Anyhow I hold, whether Deputies are vexed or pleased, that when I stand up here I am sincere, not like a lot of you. Deputy Roddy referred to Section 34 dealing with labourers' cottages. According to this section, the only cottage the county council or other public authority can dispose of will be one that they cannot find a tenant for. Surely it is time that authority should be given to the county councils and county boards of health to dispose of all labourers' cottages, taking into account the rents the tenants have paid as part of the purchase money. That might be asking too much, but Deputies must realise that some of those tenants have lived in the cottages for 20 or 30 years. If they paid their rents of £2 12s. a year for all that time surely they have well paid for the cottages, because a cottage then was built for about £75. The local authorities would be well compensated for the amount of money they paid. The occupier of a labourer's cottage at the present time is not entitled to any benefits from the State in the way of unemployment money, such as a worker in the town is entitled to, and he should be made the owner of his home and given a stake in the country. I do not believe that this section is going to do anything in the interests of a holder of a cottage; it simply gives the county council authority to sell a house that may be in a remote part of a country district where a tenant could not possibly be found for it. Surely we can expect something from the Government for those poor people who have lived and toiled for the country. If we do not give these people the ownership of their homes it is only encouraging them to leave the country and work for some foreign country.

I agree with Deputy Davin in regard to Section 37. In Westmeath there were three farms of land purchased, one at Wakefield for £10,000. The tenants who get this land are prepared to pay for it. They lodged one-third of the purchase money; they borrowed it from one bank and lodged it in the Land Bank, which advanced two-thirds. They are paying interest on the total sum and they are not even getting interest on the one-third they lodged, with the result that there is still due on that land which was taken over in 1920 for £10,000, £9,750.

I would like to point out that where land has been divided the tenants are not registered as owners. They are simply using the land as a kind of cooperative farm. It is no man's land. The result is that the holders cannot utilise it in the way they would like. There is another farm at Glasson where the tenants lodged half the amount of the money. Some of them had to borrow £250 from the bank, and they are paying interest on that, with the result that the land is costing them at the present time £3 0s. 7d. per acre, exclusive of rates. Surely they could not be expected to prosper at that price. I am of the opinion that the number of years' purchase should be extended to 130. Land is not going up in value. In 1920, when those prices were paid for land, the banks advanced the money willingly, because land was a great scarcity. They encouraged people to purchase land. The Land Bank was set up for that purpose. It encouraged people to put themselves into debt, with the result that they have put millstones around their necks for the rest of their lives. That is what the Land Bank system has done. The result will be committal orders, and it is the present Government who are responsible, because they were in power at the time. I hold that it is time that the Government should do something to help the people instead of bringing in drastic legislation that will result in wholesale arrests.

What we want is that the Government should float a loan and, if possible wipe out all these arrears. They should give the people who owe their arrears a clean sheet. They should say "your annuities are now wiped out; you can carry on and make the land pay in future." If you do that you certainly will be doing something. You might ask me where will the money come from. You are spending more money foolishly than would free every debtor in the State whose debt has been incurred through political strife in the country. I do not see why you cannot, at the present time, help those poor people that you are now trying to wrong. You have an estimate for twenty-five and three-quarter millions for twenty-six counties. Between Northern Ireland and the Saorstát, which are hand in hand with England, you have an estimate of——

I am afraid the Deputy is wandering from the Land Bill.

No, sir.

I think the Deputy is.

What I want to point out is that money could be spared to put into a sinking fund and used to clear off the debts of these people who cannot afford to pay the land annuities. I believe it takes £41,000,000 at the present time to run this country. Still we can afford to give England more than £140,000,000. We can mortgage this country for years to come.

The Deputy will have to find another occasion for making this speech. This is not the occasion for making this particular speech.

I will not refer to England in this House any more. Surely the Exchequer of the Saorstát is not in that position that it cannot afford to offer something to enable those poor people to live instead of introducing such a measure as this, which will make their position worse. You are paying to the banks over £100,000 out of the people's money. Why not give those people 50 or 60 years longer to pay the rents, or even, as Deputy Davin said, why not make the bank pay half? Notwithstanding the bad features of the Bill, and while I will vote against Section 25 and 28, I am in favour of Section 37, and for that reason I will support the Second Reading. I certainly would like that the Government Sections 25 and 28, I am in favour those unfortunate people who cannot afford to meet their land annuities at the present time.

I should like to obtain from the Minister a clearer explanation of Section 40. I notice that Section 53 of the 1923 Act is repealed under this Bill. In the Land Bank cases and in the case of land bought through the joint stock banks, tenants paid down instalments and, under the 1923 Act, it was optional with the Land Commission either to retain or to give back these instalments. Apparently the same applies under this Bill. Section 40 refers to the Land Commission being "satisfied" with the contribution or any part of it. Does that mean that it is optional with the Commissioners to give back that money or to retain it?

I would be glad if the Minister would give some information about another matter. About two years ago I asked how much land was bought through the National Land Bank. I was told 17,000 acres. I asked what was the purchase price and I was told £365,000. On that occasion, I also asked as to the amount of land purchased through joint stock banks, and the Minister could not give me particulars then. I hope he has the particulars now. Since that date nearly all the land purchased through the National Land Bank has been re-valued by inspectors on behalf of the Land Commission. They ought to be in a position to know accurately what the State will lose on account of the land purchased through the National Land Bank. Similarly, if they have the land valued that was bought through the joint stock banks, they ought to be able to tell us what loss will be sustained in that case. I see some trouble ahead for the Land Commision in connection with these Land Bank cases. I know an estate that was purchased for £15,000. That money was borrowed in a joint stock bank. The purchasers had not a penny, but they got guarantors and the £15,000 was advanced by the bank. When the bad times came and the land was not paying, they ceased to pay interest on the £15,000. The money accumulated until the last time I heard about it it had amounted to £17,000. They asked me to look after their cases, and I approached the Land Commission. They sent down an inspector, and the best price they would give was £11,400. They had it divided into 37 divisions, but the Land Commission put in a proviso that the land should be handed back to them in fee simple. I sent this information to the trustees or the cooperative society which was acting in the matter, and I was told that if the Land Commission attempted to redivide the land it would be over the dead bodies of the occupants. That is a peculiar case, but it is a case that will have to be dealt with. Another peculiar case was mentioned by Deputy Lyons. It is a case which has cropped up in our constituency. A body of men bought 133 Irish acres, or 215 statute. The price paid was £9,336, and from 4th March, 1925, those 133 acres became vested in the Land Commission, and the annuity becomes payable to the Land Commission. The annuity payable on those 133 acres is £403. You can take the best land in the Midlands to-day at 50/- an acre without having to pay any annuity at all. A lot of people in the country imagine that there is a huge loss in connection with this matter. There will be a big loss to the State if the State has to cut the losses between themselves and those individuals who purchase the land, but the Land Commission are buying land at anything from £14 to £20 an acre, and here the price is nearly £80 an acre. I think the National Land Bank was a very bad institution. It served a purpose at the time, but now we have to pay for a lot of maladministration under it. It is a bad mess to have to clear up, and a lot of those cases are hanging and dragging on in the Land Commission. The sooner this Bill goes through and those cases are settled the better.

I am glad Deputy Baxter asked the Minister to give us an explanation as to what is meant in the Bill by "turbary rights." As far as I know, when a landlord was selling his estate to tenants, and that estate had turbary, the turbary was vested along with the land. Some of these people, however, have a lot more turbary than they want. When bog became scarce in other districts, they started to re-set the turbary and in some cases they charged exorbitant prices. The Land Commission have power, under the 1923 Act, to acquire either bog or arable land, and where the new bog lords are charging exorbitant prices to outsiders the Land Commission should step in and put a fair price on those bogs. I have a case in my mind in which a landlord had a huge amount of bog on his estate, and on a neighbouring estate there was no turbary. The tenants of that other estate used to cut on his bog. He told them that, when parting with his estate, he would give them the turbary rights he had. But he vested those rights in his own tenants, and when those new bog lords got the turbary they raised the price to outsiders from 5/- to 30/-. The Land Commission stepped in and compulsorily acquired it. But when they sent down an inspector to divide it amongst the men to whom they decided to give it, he was pursued with pitchforks, spades and shovels. It will take a regiment of soldiers to put those men in occupation in that district, but it should be done. Turbary is getting very scarce, and this aspect of the land question is becoming increasingly important. Where bog is available, the Land Commission should see that it is not monopolised by a few greedy persons.

As regards defaulters, I am glad the Land Commission have reverted to the old practice that was in operation in the British administration of sending out six day notices. When the Minister decided not to send out these notices, I told him it would have bad results. No matter what people may think, those notices going to a house serve as reminders. I believe that it was as a result of those notices not being sent out that a lot of the defalcations occurred. I have in my hand a document that was handed to the Vice-President on the 5th October in Cork. He was deputed to represent the President at a meeting with unpurchased tenants in Cork. I promised these men, who saw me since, that I would call the Minister's attention to this document. It puts forward their criticisms of the Bill, and I should like that the Minister would give careful consideration to the cases they mention.

One section of the Bill, I think, has not been touched upon up to the present—Section 7. That section refers to mill holdings. It is an important section to people in my county, because a lot of people were excluded from land purchase owing to having these mill holdings. I should like the Minister to explain clearly what he means by "disused-mill" holdings. Would it be a completely disused mill or one that, some time ago, was earning £200 or £300 but the earnings of which have dwindled down now to £40 or £50? I know there is an option left in the Land Commission, but I think it would be preferable if the Minister would define the amount under which these holdings would come under the Act. If their earnings were, say, £100, we could hardly expect they would come in. But if they were much less than that—if they were half—I think those people should have a right to come under the Act. One other matter to which I desire to refer was touched on by Deputies Conlan and Cosgrave. The evicted tenants, up to the present, have received no benefit whatever under the 1923 Act, although there are provisions in that Act dealing with them. They should have been dealt with before now. The Minister always assured us that the evicted tenants would be left until the provisions of the Act were carried out in every other case. I think the time has now arrived when an endeavour should be made to do something for them, and to put some of the provisions of the 1923 Act in force, so as to give them hope that their cases will be dealt with in the near future. I believe that it is ignorance and misconception of the hardships those people suffered in the eighties, that are keeping Ministers from dealing with them. They know nothing whatever about them. They are a young Government. Some of them were not in existence at the time and know nothing whatever of the hardships those evicted tenants went through in the land war. We were told that there was a good deal of this sentiment. But I think sentiment has entered into a great deal of the legislation of this House at times. After all, there is not much sentiment in redressing the grievances of people who have been out in the cold for forty years. That is not sentiment as put forward by Ministers a few days ago. I think the time has arrived for dealing with those evicted tenants and that some provision should be made for them even if amendments to this new Bill have to be passed.

I am very much surprised to see that there is no provision in the Bill to provide compensation for men losing their employment as the result of the division and acquisition of land. The Minister is aware, just as I am, that, with few exceptions, those who have lost employment as the result of the division and acquisition of land have not received holdings. That is, in some cases at all events, due to the fact that such labourers declined to take land, knowing that they would be unable to work it, if allotted to them. Whether that is the position or not, I consider, and everybody, I think, who is honest enough occasionally to think a little bit democratically will agree, that compensation should be provided for such men. Only the other day we were discussing another measure, and everyone was particularly keen that a certain set of citizens in the State, who were threatened with being put out of business, should get compensation. We should begin to think of the poorer classes. We should recognise that a labouring man who has worked, perhaps, for thirty years on a large estate and who loses his employment as a result of the division and acquisition of the estate, should get some compensation. If he is not prepared to take a holding where the land has been distributed, I think it is reasonable that the State should make provision for his maintenance. He is entitled to compensation, and he has the same rights within the State as members of the licensed trade, or any set of individuals.

In my constituency nine men have lost employment on one estate and for the past nine months five of them have been walking about looking for work, but cannot get it. They have to apply to the local authorities for home assistance, and they get it. There we have able-bodied men, capable and willing to work, who are driven on the rates as the result of the division of land. These are matters which demand very grave consideration by the Minister and the Executive Council. We should not treat these people unfairly because they are mere labourers. They should be considered as citizens with the right to live in their country, and I hope that the Minister will be good enough to have an amendment introduced covering these people. I would like to make a short reference to the position of people in the country who have come into holdings as a result of the division and acquisition of land during the past couple of years. I consider that the terms of purchase should be very much extended so as to give these people an opportunity of living on their holdings. The annuities should be reduced to a level that would place them in a position to pay them. I know numerous cases of hardship. Take a holding of 15 Irish acres with an annuity of £29 9s. and rates of over £6. This land is supposed to be first-class, though in reality it is anything at all but first-class. The Land Commission would tell you that it is the best land in the county. That is mere theory. People in the Land Commission do not know the value of land. When the Land Commission first attempted to purchase land they offered too high a price. In this case an appeal was taken against the decision of the Land Commission, and the owner won. Without any justification whatever, the Land Commission have continually offered too high prices for land. In Co. Meath only a few days ago a farm of 33 Irish acres, with a substantial residence and outhouses, was sold for £220. That shows the value of land in Co. Meath, yet the Land Commission would give as much as £80 an acre for land there, with the result that the incoming tenants have a mill-stone round their necks for the remainder of their days.

A great many people who acquired land in the last few years will be surrendering it to the Land Commission in May next. They had a very bad time last year and could not make anything out of their holdings. They are unable to keep them, and the Land Commission will have to take the land back, so that you will have landlordism all over again. There is a section which I like very much, namely, Section 34, which gives the Land Commission power to purchase labourers' cottages. I would, however, ask the Minister to make a few points clear in regard to it. Will there be any provision to debar people in time to come from disposing of these cottages and allowing them to fall into the hands of people for whom they were never intended? I think it is time the Minister thought of introducing a clause of that kind into a Land Bill. Deputy Lyons in his speech went into high finance, and got mixed up in regard to the Exchequer in a way which I could not understand. He referred to what are called committee lands, that is, lands purchased through the joint stock banks. He was dealing mostly with land bought by the Land Bank, but I think that the great majority of land in Westmeath, as in my county, was purchased through the joint stock banks at very high prices, with the result that the year afterwards they would not fetch 50 per cent. of the price. The Minister gave a guarantee last December twelvemonth that he would make provision for the taking over of such holdings by the Land Commission. I hope, before the Bill passes, that we will have a provision giving power to the Land Commission to purchase these holdings from the joint stock banks, and relieving the present unfortunate tenants who have been living in misery for the last ten or twelve years. I trust they will in the future become tenants of the Land Commission instead of continuing to endeavour to pay principal and high interest.


As everyone seems to have made three Second Reading speeches, I think I am entitled to do the same. This is my third speech. I took a note of some of the propositions put up during the course of the debate, and when they are all put together they make very nice reading. I started with the proposal to provide compensation for labourers who did not get land. Then I was urged to introduce legislation for the evicted tenants. The next matter was the nonpayment of land annuities and the interest on money borrowed. That, I think, was put up by all parties except the one to which I belong. The fourth proposal was the repudiation of secured debts to the banks, and the extension of time for the repayment of annuities, or, in other words, a change in the provision by which certain debts were to be paid. If I made a complete list of all the proposals there would be many more. First of all, with regard to the evicted tenants. Deputy Heffernan, Deputy Baxter, and almost every other Deputy spoke in favour of the evicted tenants. So might I. I could talk just as much about the genuine hardships of the evicted tenants as any other Deputy, but that would not get us very far. It is waste of time to be talking in that strain. Let Deputies come down to earth and tell us how their plans could be put into operation.

There is power in the Land Commission to deal with them, so that the suggested change means that the Land Commission must deal with all genuine evicted tenants. I might remind Deputies that most of the genuine evicted tenants were dealt with long before the Act of 1923. A number was dealt with since. There are some evicted tenants. I should say that, beginning with 1840, there are more evicted tenants than congests. If you begin with the year 1880, I should say that there are half as many evicted tenants as congests. We would love to deal with all of them, but how are we going to do it? Where is the land to come from? There is practically no untenanted land. If Deputies are serious, let them not ride away with the excuse that they are very few. If we were to deal with the evicted tenants since 1880, we would have to deal with about 100,000. We are not able to deal with 100,000 congests. Therefore, how are we to deal with that number of evicted tenants? By passing a new Act to say that there shall be new classes of landlords, that everyone with a farm of fifty acres is a landlord, and that his land should be taken compulsorily? If I introduced such a Bill Deputy Heffernan would oppose it and die of fright.

I might oppose it, but I would not die of fright.


Perhaps so, but he will get all the credit for putting forward a proposition that must mean that.

It is all founded on your statement that there are 100,000 evicted tenants.


We have been dealing with as many as we can. We have to pick between them and congests, and it is a difficult job to pick between evicted tenants, congests, and landless men. We have to do the best we can in the circumstances. It is really a pity not to give Deputies their heads. If they are so anxious about evicted tenants and about putting these proposals into operation, I know a quick way of curing them, namely, to do what they are asking. Deputies propose things which are not meant seriously and, if they were accepted seriously and were carried out, the people who put them forward would be the first to object. I often feel that it is a very great pity indeed that you cannot take people literally and give them just what they want.

Will the Minister produce some reasonable figures to prove that his statement is correct? I do not believe for a moment that there are anything like a 100,000 genuine evicted tenants. I think 1,000 would be nearer the number.

How does the Deputy know that there are only 1,000? Did he ever have a census taken?

I have had experience in my own county, and I have the experience of people I have met.

Is the Minister prepared to make a return of the number of evicted tenants since 1880?



Are we, therefore, to take the figure that the Minister has given—100,000——


Or their representatives. I say that there are at least that number.

Since the year 1880?



Might I ask the Minister upon what information he bases these figures?


Might I be allowed to go on now?

Were there over 100,000 evicted tenants in the country altogether?


Genuine evicted tenants, or their representatives.

Or their representatives?

When the Minister says "their representatives" does he mean members of the families of each separate holding from which tenants were evicted?


No, one representative for each.

How many tenants were evicted in the whole of Ireland?


I have to judge simply by the applications that have come in on behalf of evicted tenants. A number of evicted tenants are in America and in Canada, and there are a number in every town in the country. But the simple proposition is put up that the Land Commission must deal with all genuine evicted tenants, without any limitation of any kind, no 1880 limitation, but a sweeping assertion to cover everything. The people who put forward that know perfectly well that there is not enough land for congests alone——

Might I interrupt——


I studiously refrained from interrupting Deputies during this debate, and I must be allowed the same courtesy.

The Deputy can ask the Minister any questions afterwards.

It is not a question but a statement.


Is that in order?

Is the Minister at liberty to base an argument on the assumption that Deputies in any part of the House were making a claim for 100,000 people? Is he at liberty to make a case on that? If he is he is misrepresenting the point of view. I did not make the point at all, but I assert that the Minister is misrepresenting the point of view of several Deputies who spoke, and he is not producing evidence to show that his figures are correct.

If any Deputy thinks that the Minister is misrepresenting what he has stated I will allow him to make an explanation.

That is my point. I do not believe that there are 5,000 evicted tenants. I am judging from my own constituency.


Is this in order?

We have a bald statement from the Minister.

Is the Minister at liberty to make a speech in this House?

Yes, but if any Deputy believes that his point of view is being misrepresented by the Minister he has a perfect right to make an explanation.

He will not do it again.


Presumably I am misrepresenting the point of view of Deputies——

It is all election work.


All election work—indeed it is. It would be very hard to misrepresent Deputies, because they were extremely careful to make their statements in the vaguest possible way so that they could hedge afterwards— the usual technique. I do not intend to accept any amendment to the effect that the Land Commission must deal with all evicted tenants. I repeat that that is not put forward seriously. Let me come to those sections that give powers to the Land Commission to revalue lands purchased either through the Land Bank or through what were called other banks. I suppose I have received requests from every Party in the House to do so. Deputations have been brought in to me by members of the Labour Party, the Farmers' Party, every Party in the House——

Not by the Independents.


Not by the Independents. They are not a Party. By some Independents.

Not the City Independents.


And the burden of the song of each has been "introduce legislation providing for a revaluation of these lands and providing that the State shall pay the difference between the price they were purchased at and the fair value." I am doing that, and if I am to judge by the way it is received, every speaker is against it and there is something wrong with it. Yet I have been requested to do so by Deputy Heffernan, Deputy Baxter and other Deputies, who have put it up to me that it is essential. Deputy Connor Hogan believed that it should be done, but now it is all wrong. What does it mean? I would like to know where Deputies stand in this matter. Land was bought in 1920 by the Land Bank, which was then a State institution, a sort of Land Commission, and by other banks, after a ruling had been made by what used to be called the Land Courts. Consequently this Government has some responsibility for it. Land was bought at 1920 prices, and it has been suggested that that was foolish. In particular it was suggested by Deputy Connor Hogan. Why he should do so I do not know. Like myself, Deputy Connor Hogan has, or used to have, very conservative ideas about land purchase, and I remember him making a statement sometime ago about free trade in land. He is a free trader in everything. He read us a lecture pointing out that all this legislation limiting the right of a man to deal with his own land as he likes was all wrong, and that we should get away from that as soon as possible. He told us that the owner of the land had a right to do what he liked with it; that he should get the best price he could; that it was the duty of the buyer to beware. He enunciated all those respectable dogmas that we both love so much, and now he blames the banks for doing exactly what he wanted them to do in 1920, advancing the full market price of the land at the date.

No, for advancing it as a speculation.


The Deputy does not know what he means by that. The full price of the land, not as a speculation, but well covered by security.

Including a deposit of one quarter of the purchase money.


Again another example of the good old law that a man has a right to do what he likes with his property, and the bank has a right to get the very best terms it can from people who are borrowing money. I do not go the whole way with the Deputy, but I do say that that has been constantly ennunciated by him, both here and when he gets into the respectable atmosphere of the farmers in Clare. I read him with some interest. He is the very last who should criticise the Land Bank or the other banks for facilitating the owners in 1920 and getting the full price for their land. Of course any stick is good enough to beat us with now. We are becoming demoralised, and we are getting back to radical and Bolshie tendencies that I never expected from Deputy Connor Hogan. There is some misunderstanding about the genesis of these operations of the Land Bank and the other banks. In 1920 times were pretty strenuous, and a number of people were very anxious to take advantage of these times to get cheap land and to get other people's property; in some cases without having very clear equities to it. That was something that the powers in being in Sinn Fein at the time did not believe in, and they deliberately set up the Land Bank for the purpose of giving fair play, and for the purpose, to some extent, of regulating a very dangerous tendency. I am quite proud of that performance. I think it was an eminently just and equitable thing to do. It was never their policy when they were endeavouring to drive the British out of this country to win the support of people who wanted to get something for nothing. On the contrary, the Volunteers at that time were sent in to compel people to pay their land purchase annuities. In Longford, for one place, they were made to pay their land purchase annuities. They were made to pay their rates, and these were times when people had not exactly the same conceptions of government and the same realisation of the necessity for keeping credit right, as they would be expected to have after three or four years' experience. They were in the very beginning. And yet at that time, and in the atmosphere of that time, the Volunteers, wherever they were organised, were used to compel people to pay their legal liabilities, their annuities and their rates, and one of the transactions that nobody connected with Sinn Fein has any reason to be ashamed of was the setting up of the Land Bank and the operations in connection with dealings in land at that time.

We are faced with a certain aftermath. Land has deteriorated. Committees bought land at the 1920 price, and undoubtedly they bought it, after rulings by the Sinn Fein court, through the Land Bank, which was a sort of State bank, and it is admitted that prices are unfair under present circumstances. What are we to do? I see nothing else except this legislation. Every Deputy agreed with that until this debate. Of course I know that they agree with it still and that if I withdrew it I would be asked to put it back, so that I can take that with a certain amount of equanimity. I know that if I announced, in the interests of Deputy Connor Hogan's high finance, that we were not going to come to the rescue of these people I would receive deputations in about two days' time from members of the Farmers' Party, and members of other parties, asking me to reinsert this provision, but I will not give them the trouble. I will ask the Dáil to pass the clause and right the situation once for all. Deputy Davin put forward an alternative. He was the only one who did. He said: "Let the banks stand the loss." Several Deputies spoke after that, and we had speeches from the Farmers' Benches, but nobody gave his view on that. It was a point on which I expected to have the views of farmers.

It was half the loss. I say that in Deputy Davin's defence.


Yes, that the banks should stand part of the loss. The only one I know on the Farmers' Benches who agrees absolutely with Deputy Davin is Deputy Heffernan. He has already announced that not only should they stand the loss in these cases but also in cases where they have made loans to individuals, fully secured. He announced that in my hearing in this House. Deputy Heffernan is one of those Deputies who intervenes in financial debates here, who reads us lectures on credit and on high finance generally, on proper finance and rates of interest. He knows all the jargon, all the cliches, that you hear from immature economists. He has them all off by heart. But apparently there are two Deputies in line in this matter. Their solution of this problem—it was announced by Deputy Davin to-day, and by Deputy Heffernan a few days ago—is that the banks should bear part of the loss. I do not agree with either. I would have some respect for the point of view if I thought it was part of a general policy, but I know it is not.

There are people who have given a good deal of study to this question, who have very different ideas on economics from us, who think that the banks, as constituted at present, are all wrong, who think that the whole capitalist system, the whole system of private property, is all wrong. I have some respect for them. They have thought it out and are prepared to take all the advantages and disadvantages that would follow. But here you have a most conservative representative of property owners who says that the banks should stand the loss. They had lent money to people, fully secured, and if these people say they are unwilling to pay it back the banks should refrain from recouping themselves. I have no respect for that point of view, and I regret it is becoming more and more common in the House. Absolutely irresponsible statements of that sort are made by people who do not believe in them. But they are taken up by every irresponsible in the country, and are very dangerous at times like these, when there is stringency and when people are tempted by the pressure of circumstances. Let him follow out this doctrine to its logical conclusion, and then I will believe that he is sincere. But just for a temporary purpose, just to meet a temporary necessity, just because of the circumstances of the hour, he comes out with a statement like that—I will leave it so.

As to "thoroughbred" stock, I am sorry that particular word has been used in the section. The draftsman probably thinks it is the correct term, but I want to assure Deputies that thoroughbred stock does not mean horses exclusively, not even particular horses. The expression I used myself in introducing this section was "high-class stock animals," and by that I mean either cattle, sheep, pigs or horses. I do not think I am expected, at this stage, to defend that point of view. I have defended it often on my Estimates, and it is because I think it is extremely important to encourage the breeding of high-class stock animals, that it means an immense sum of money to the country, and many advantages, direct and indirect, that that exception has been made in regard to those particular people. There is a large amount of money going out of the country at present for high-class stock animals that are not produced here, and I am hoping that this will lead to a very big increase in the number of pedigree herds of cattle, pigs, and so on, in the country.

I will not refer again to fee farm grants—I think the House has had enough of them. As to Section 3, dealing with the cutting of trees, I want to draw Deputy Baxter's attention to the fact that all that section really does is to apply exactly the same law to a tenanted holding before vesting as is already applied to a purchased holding after vesting. Under the Land Act of 1923 the Land Commission takes over control of all tenanted land. A period, however, elapses before the land is vested in the tenant, and the tenant becomes a tenant purchaser and begins to pay an annuity. It was rather anomalous that the tenant had certain rights before vesting which he has not got after vesting. Between the date of the passing of the Act and the date of vesting he can cut his trees and do what he likes, but from the moment the holding is vested he cannot cut trees without the consent of the Land Commission. That is all it does. I agree with the Deputy that it is hard to administer that. It is quite impossible to administer it so far as the cutting of one tree on a holding is concerned, and I agree that the law in a case like that is a dead letter. But what we do want to prevent is a man cutting shelter belts and groups of trees, cutting not only shelter belts and small woods, but rows of trees along a right of way or along by his road fence. You want to be in a position to stop a man who begins with number one and proposes to cut six. In spite of you he can cut one, and no one wants to stop him. If he asks for permission he gets it right away, but if he does it on anything like a wholesale scale, then the Land Commission ought to be in a position to stop him. The Land Commission, as a matter of fact, can stop him. It is hard, however, to define what is a shelter belt, and to define the sort of wood or number of trees that the Land Commission ought to have control of. The simplest thing is to adapt the law that has always existed in regard to purchased holdings, to holdings which are under the control of the Land Commission but not yet vested. That is all this does.

There was a great "to-do" about those sections dealing with the collection of annuities. I absolutely agree with the remarks of Deputy Nolan. Deputy Baxter made an interruption which, of course, is obvious, that all tenants are not able to pay. We all know that. The answer to that is that there are plenty of tenants able to pay who will not pay. What about them? We heard quite a lot about the tenant who was enthusiastically willing to pay, but was unable. What about the tenant who is able to pay but is unwilling? Surely Deputies will agree that there is a considerable number of those? Would not Deputies at least give a lead and tell me whether they think these provisions are too stringent for that sort of tenant?

Is the existing law properly administered not able to deal with such persons?

No, it is not. If it were able to deal with them properly and efficiently, I would not insert these sections. That question answers itself. Nobody gave me any lead as to whether those particular sections are too stringent as applied to the very large class of tenants that Deputy Nolan mentioned, who are also to be found in the country, who are able to pay, but who are absolutely unwilling, and who prefer that their annuities should be paid by their neighbours' rates. Are they too stringent? Not a word about that.

The Minister should understand that we hold no brief whatever for the tenant who is able to pay and will not pay. We are not saying a word about him.

Of course not. There are large numbers of such tenants, and it is necessary to introduce these particular sections in order to get after those efficiently. But these sections are denounced from A to Z. The long and short of it is that the trend of the discussion is, "Do not pay Land Commission annuities." It is a pity that it should be so. That is the trend of the discussion. Of course, it is carefully covered and all the rest. That is the message that goes out to the country. Really, some Deputies are gradually drifting into the position of being the constant spokesmen of the individual who does not want to pay anything. Deputies ought to be logical in this. If those provisions are too stringent for the man who is unwilling to pay, though able to pay, the logical thing to do is to repeal the existing provisions. That is the right thing to do. If we should not use those provisions in order to force such a man to pay his annuity, we should not use the others. Why should we? Deputies cannot have it both ways. They ought to say whether they are in favour of the collection of annuities, and if they are they ought to give us the means to collect them.

Will the Minister say whether Sections 28, 29, 30 and 31 may not act very unfairly as regards other creditors?

Hear, hear.

Of course Deputy Baxter applauds that. I can understand a Deputy getting up and saying: "I am absolutely in favour of having annuities paid, and I agree that it is absolutely essential to take whatever powers are necessary to collect them; but be careful that the particular provisions which you are inserting for that purpose do not cause other hardships." I I can deal with anyone who puts up a case like that. That is essentially a question for Committee. But the whole trend of the discussion was, "Do not pay Land Commission annuities." The unhappy plight of the particular man who was anxious to pay but was unable was put up exclusively. Not a word about the numerous individuals that everyone knows about—largely pretty comfortable farmers——

I do not know any of them.

I know of plenty of them —the Deputy does not; he has too great a faith in human nature. I know of plenty of them—so do most Deputies in the Farmers' Party know of them. just as most Deputies on this side do, if they would only admit it. There are any amount of such people. Are they to be made pay? If they are not, what is the alternative? Who is to pay the annuities? Are we to repudiate the interest on the money borrowed? If so what will be the effect? The whole attitude on that has been most irresponsible. We can discuss these sections item by item in Committee and see whether any of them should be changed. But to discuss them on the basis that Deputy Sean Lyons represents the point of view of the House in that matter is hopeless.

The section dealing with county councils was also, if I may say so, discussed on an unfair basis. It was discussed as if the Bill said a county council shall take over and farm lands on which there are arrears of annuities. That is not the position. Deputy Baxter, after criticising me very severely for taking all those measures to collect the annuities, went on to draw a picture of the neglect of the Land Commission in not collecting annuities. Having failed to do their duty to collect annuities——

Not their duty.

Having failed to collect the Land Commission annuities, having neglected their proper functions in this matter——

Not in collecting.

Having made a mess of the problem of collecting annuities——

I do not want to interrupt the Minister, but I refuse to listen to the Minister, as is usual with him, trying to make the case that I suggested that the Land Commission neglected their duty in not collecting annuities. I made the case that the Land Commission did not collect the land purchase annuities because the Government neglected to do for those people what they should have done, and I have been basing the case entirely on the people who cannot pay, for whom I think the Government should long ago have done something.

As a matter of fact, this was one of the few references that I took down verbatim—"having neglected their duty, they wash their hands of the collection."

Exactly—you neglected your duty.

That was the point of view developed by the Deputy—having neglected their duty they wash their hands of those annuities and hand over the land to the county council.

When I ask for powers to enable me to collect the annuities the Deputy refuses them. However, I come back to this point: This section is not drafted to make it imperative and compulsory on the county council to take over lands. Not at all. The section was never intended in that way. It does not mean that and, in fact, it does not say that. All it says is that if the county council wish, then they may do what they have not the power to do now—take over certain lands on which there are arrears of annuities. They are absolutely free agents in the matter —no one can compel them. They have just a discretion which they had not before. What is the objection to that? I can see numerous cases in which it will be useful. There might be a scheme for which lands would be wanted. Instead of paying a high price for land for the purpose, say, of a building scheme, or any other scheme that the county council may put up, instead of taxing the ratepayers by paying a high price for such land, why should not they have power to go to the Land Commission and say: "You have ten acres of land adjoining this town—within half a mile of it—and we want land there; pass it over to us"? What is wrong with that? I will tell you. The point of view taken is that the county council should never be expected to do anything unpopular, and Deputies think that would be unpopular. That is not so. It is not unpopular. The ratepayers would applaud it, and say they did the right thing. The intention here is merely to give the county council discretion in such a case as that, and in no other. I am not such a lunatic as to suggest that the county council is the proper body to farm land. Of course it is not. The spectacle of the county council taking over land and attempting to buy and sell cattle and till the land is certainly ludicrous. That was never intended, and not stated, not to speak of intended. All the section does is to give a discretion which they have not now and which they ought to have, and which they need not exercise unless they think right.

Would the Minister say if the real object is not to throw the responsibility on the county council for the collection of the annuities, so that the Land Commission cannot be blamed for the lack of the grant which the local council get? Is not that the intention?

That suggestion is subjective. It is not the real idea.

Section 33 says:

(1) Where the Land Commission have put up for sale by public auction any lands which they are entitled to cause to be sold for non-payment of a purchase annuity charged thereon and the lands have not been sold, they may offer the lands to the council of the county in which they are situate, and in every such case it shall be lawful for the county council, with the concurrence of the Minister for Local Government and Public Health, to purchase the lands from the Land Commission upon such terms as may be agreed upon, notwithstanding that the lands are not required by them for the purpose of any of their statutory powers or duties.

The intention of that section is to enable the county council, if they wish, to acquire land of this sort which is in the hands of the Land Commission for any scheme they may be putting into operation. I will be glad, in order to show bona fides to the Deputy, to accept any drafting of an amendment that will effect that purpose and make it perfectly clear that we have no bad or evil intentions in our minds.

What kind of scheme would the county councils undertake?


There are forestry schemes in many counties. Has not the Deputy heard that the county councils have forestry lands, and that they acquire lands for numerous purposes?

There are housing schemes, and very often there are quite near town lands on which Land Commission annuities are due. In any event what harm does it do the county councils? Who is forcing anything on the county councils? If we are agreed that the intention is right, do not mind the drafting. If you think the drafting can be improved so as to make the intention perfectly clear that the Land Commission have the fullest responsibility for accepting annuities, I will accept any such amendment.

Is there one holding within half a mile from any town that can be used for building purposes on which annuity has not been paid? Would the Minister use lands which are suitable for agricultural purposes for afforestation?

In order to remove any suspicion of motives, will the Minister take away the guarantee of rates as against Land Commission annuities?


With regard to Deputy Baxter's question as to this derelict holding on which annuity has not been paid and the annuity on which the ratepayers are meeting, I certainly would hand it over to the county council for forestry. I am not particularly in love with the section dealing with labourers' cottages, but the Land Commission thinks it is desirable, and it was agreed by all parties in Committee to be desirable. The idea is, estates are occasionally divided in districts where there would be two or three labourers' cottages. One of the cottages would be occupied by a man who had been working on the estate 10, 15 or 20 years. There is no other labourer in the district, and perhaps there is a second labourer's cottage which is derelict. If that labourer is forced to leave that cottage then that cottage is derelict also, and the Land Commission is at the expense of building a house. Personally, I am not over keen on that suggestion. It seems to me that labourers' cottages were intended for labourers and should be kept as such. It was generally agreed in Committee that in such cases the Local Government Department should have power to sell such houses to the Land Commission and save themselves the expense of putting up another house. The view of the Land Commission is that that is desirable.

Deputy Murphy raised the question of building ground, and so did Deputy Hogan and Deputy Wilson, and he asked if in the event of a holding being resumed within five years does the tenant get compensation. The position there, I admit, is a little obscure. This is the position so far as I know: building ground is generally near a town, and for that reason a considerable proportion of the holdings that are coming in now under the building section are holdings which are held under future tenancies. Of course, the biggest proportion are holdings which are ordinarily agricultural holdings—present tenancies or judicial tenancies—on which fair rents have been fixed. Present tenancies or judicial tenancies were excluded under the Act of 1923 because they held ground which was building ground. Now we are bringing them in, but bringing, in addition, future tenancies that were created since 1881 and even that were created quite recently. Both these classes of tenancies were dealt with and brought under the Act of 1923, but the building ground clauses in the Act of 1923 ruled out a large number of future tenancies because, to a great extent, they existed near towns. These future tenancies that were ruled out are now coming in. There is no doubt as far as the tenancies are judicial or present tenancies that if the landlord resumes he must resume on market value. As to a definition of resumption price, it is defined in a few cases, but they are very long.

It is difficult to define accurately a resumption price, but speaking generally the resumption price is about the market value. In all cases of present or judicial tenancies resumed by the landlord within five years the resumption price is paid. The question of future tenancies is a difficult one. We are doing much for future tenancies, but I believe that the section will create a certain hardship. It will deal with a big class of cases that should be dealt with, but it will cause a considerable amount of hardship, for you will have cases where the land was set under yearly tenancy, for family or other reasons, near towns, and the lucky lessee is now to become the owner under this section unless the person who lets the land resumes it for building. We are giving security of tenure to the lessee, and we are leaving one right to the owner of the land, to the man who let the land, and that is to resume for building. I am not clear that in the event of the owner exercising that right, which is going to cost him money, we should force him to pay for the land. That is a point which wants a good deal of discussion. I have an open mind on the question. My present tendency is to urge that if we are leaving that right to the owner who let the land five or six years ago, if he is resuming the land for building purposes, that he should not be asked to pay a fine for an interest which the tenant never thought he would have before. That can be discussed in Committee.

Section 35 says:—

The vesting of a holding in a tenant pursuant to a subsequent purchase agreement under the Land Act, 1923 shall not have the effect of transferring to the tenant any turbary rights to the enjoyment of which he was not entitled prior to such vesting, and all turbary rights which were vested in the landlord prior to the appointed day shall remain vested in the Land Commission.

Where any such turbary rights so reserved to the Land Commission are subsequently let or sold by them, the Land Commission, if they think fit, may make such payments in Land Bonds or otherwise, as in their discretion may appear to them reasonable and just, to the person who would have been entitled to such turbary rights if the holding had not become vested in the Land Commission.

In cases where there are the rights of the landlord and tenants to turbary on a tenanted holding, obviously those should not go to the tenant and should be used by the Land Commission for the benefit of the other tenants on the same estate whose holdings do not contain a bog, and there should be a certain allowance to the tenant for such purpose. The section says:

Regulations made by the Minister for Finance may provide for the issue to the Land Commission, in cases where they have sold such turbary rights in consideration of an annuity or annuities, of Land Bonds to such extent as may be required for the purposes of making any payments in pursuance of the foregoing sub-section.

Regulations made by the Land Commission with respect to turbary remaining vested in them under this section may, if they think fit, provide for the payment by the persons authorised by them to cut turf on a holding under such regulations to the purchaser of the holding of such sums by way of turbary rents as the Land Commission may deem reasonable.

That speaks for itself.

My point is, in many of the agreements made between landlord and tenant, the agreement included an arrangement whereby the tenant would pay a nominal sum of 1/-, and for that the tenant would be entitled to turbary. Is that recognising tenant right to turbary, and will that tenant be entitled to portion of the turbary?


On his own holding?

No, on the property of the landlord. We assume a rent was fixed, and in the fixing of the rent the consideration for turbary was, say, 1/-, and that is in the fair rent settlement. Is that a recognised right? Many cases have been brought to my notice where since the passing of the 1923 Act the landlord has actually resumed possession of the entire bog. Though those agreements existed the tenants have had to pay £2 or £5 for the right to turbary.


The case the Deputy mentions is a case where a landlord makes an agreement with one of his tenants.

With a number of his tenants—generally all on the estate.


Well, I am taking one for the purpose of explanation. The landlord makes an agreement with one of his tenants to give him turbary rights on part of his untenanted land for, say, one shilling per annum. Apparently such a right can be taken cognizance of by the Fair Rent Court and set out in the pink schedule. The Deputy asks me whether a tenant has a legal right to that turbary. I could not answer that. It is a legal question which I cannot answer at the moment. I do not like to reply definitely to that question.

In my county there would be probably one thousand cases of that sort, and the contention of the tenants is that their rent was abated by more than one shilling, considerably more, perhaps because of the fact that the rent was fixed and that it included not alone the rent of the land but the rent of the bog. Of course there was actually only one shilling paid, and the rent, which might be £5 for bog and land, would probably include £3 10s. od. for the land and £1 10s. 0d. for the bog.


If there is a fair rent fixed there is an order made, and that order specifies the land over which the tenancy exists. If that order does not set out that the tenant right extends to the bog, then the tenant has no right in that respect in law at present. That is what I think, but, of course, it is purely a legal question. In such a case the Land Commission would buy the bog, would acquire it compulsorily and divide it amongst the tenants. If the Deputy gives me some time I will have inquiries made as to the exact legal position and the matter can be dealt with on the Committee Stage.

I would like the matter cleared up. It is very important. The whole question of whether a rent is or is not a fair rent hinges on whether it is rent for bog or land.


Perhaps the Deputy will give me a written resumé of the point he has brought forward?

I will do so.

The Minister has not referred to residential holdings.

In Section 34 it is provided that a cottage occupied by a man who has acquired a holding under the Land Act may be sold, and I would like to know from the Minister if there is any provision to guard against that man's eviction by the local authority as a result of his acquiring some land under a scheme of land distribution. If such a provision is not put in the local authority would probably evict him. There are cases of that sort all over the country and it is quite possible that the Land Commission may be called upon to provide houses for such people. People in the country believe that is the position.


The local authority must evict him, I think, in the sense that in any event they must sell the cottage to the Land Commission. They must hold it as a labourer's cottage, and, if they come to the conclusion that he is not a labourer and that there is a deserving labourer in the district, then I should say their duty would be to evict him and let him live on his holding. All this section does is to enable the local authority to do what they have not power at present to do, namely, to sell the cottage to the Land Commission if they come to the conclusion that a labourer's cottage is not needed in the district.

If the local authority is prepared to offer a cottage for sale where the cottage is occupied by a man who has a holding, are not the Land Commission, under the authority of the Minister for Local Government and Public Health, prepared to purchase such a cottage?


They are.

I asked the Minister last night to give me some information as to the amount of money involved in Section 24, touching on the provision for loss on re-sales.


I do not know that there is any loss on re-sales at present. Urged by the Deputy and by members of the Seanad, I inserted a provision in the Land Act of 1923 that if the Land Commission took tenanted lands they would pay therefor a resumption price at its market value. That is quite reasonable. I do not want to repeal the section of the Land Act of 1881 that entitles a tenant to the resumption price of his land in case it is taken. The Deputy knows quite well that the land purchased by the Land Commission at market value is very little use to them for the purpose of re-sale; it is far too dear. The Deputy, I am sure, would not urge me to buy it at less than the market value, and yet, if they want to re-sell it to tenants, the purchase price is too dear for that purpose.

At present they have to consolidate it with very cheap land they buy, and they divide the price over both so as to make a flat price that will be higher than the cheap land but lower than what is paid for the dear land. In some cases they find it impossible to do that. In odd cases there is a farm of land which they must acquire, but it is not suitable for re-sale because the resumption price is too high.

Will the Minister say something about residential holdings? This matter was very fully discussed by the Select Committee. We have no official report of the Select Committee. There is a large body of residential tenants entitled to get Ministerial opinion on that question. If the Minister declines to make a statement we may take it he has nothing to say in justification of his attitude.


This question was debated on the first Act, then at a Special Committee, where I made my attitude quite clear, and it was discussed at the Committee meeting where Deputy's amendments were turned down. Now the Deputy wants me to travel over not only the Bill, but over provisions which were not inserted.

We will have them again on the Committee Stage.


It comes to this: either you want residential holdings purchased or you do not. I do not see how I could justify seeking powers to purchase residential holdings. What Deputies say is, "We do not want residential holdings, properly so-called, purchased." But then a judge decides in some cases that the holding is a residential holding and, therefore, is exempted from the Act, and in some of these cases we think there is hardship. Every defendant in the world thinks he is badly treated; certainly 75 or 80 per cent. of defendants think that they are badly treated. We must in a case like this leave it to some judge to say whether a holding is residential or not.

It is not a simple problem. You cannot judge whether a holding is or is not residential by one standard. You have to take into account the letting, the character of the farming, the character of the house, the value of the land as compared with the house, whether its character has been changed by practice, and so on. You have to take these and other things into account and you cannot define a residential holding by one simple standard. Any such standard would leave out a number of holdings that the judge might bring in, and it might coerce the judge to bring within the Act a number of holdings that every fair-minded man would say should be left out. If the question is affected by seven or eight or ten considerations then we must leave that question to the High Court judge, and we must be prepared to abide by his decision whether in all the circumstances the holding is residential or not.

People may say "Here is a case in which the circumstances are so and so, and yet this man was turned down by the judge." Possibly that case took a day to argue and the judge heard it fully. You cannot express any opinion on a case until both sides have been heard fully. I do not know any fairer way of arriving at a decision. I do not think Deputies should take too much for granted when they get just one side of a case; they must hear both sides, and it takes some time to do that.

I am not satisfied there is the same kind of hardship that Deputies seem to think, and I could not agree to bring residential holdings within the ambit of this Land Bill. It would in a great many cases amount to practical confiscation. It would amount to this: that the occupier for the time had got a couple of thousands of pounds worth of property for a couple of hundred, and had obtained a loan, with a period of sixty-seven years in which to pay it off.

Could the Minister tell us approximately the amount that would cover the purchase price of the land with which it is intended to deal under sub-section (4) of Section 37?


Other bank cases?


I could not. The loss on re-sale would be between £120,000 and £150,000.

Question—"That the Bill be read a Second Time"—put and agreed to.
Committee Stage fixed for Thursday, 3rd March, 1927.