In Committee on Finance. - Agricultural Credit Bill, 1929—Report and Final Stage.

With regard to the amendments tabled to this Bill, the Chair does not propose to accept amendment 2, as it introduces an important principle which did not come under consideration on the Committee Stage. I think amendment 1 is more or less consequential on amendment 2.

It is consequential. I explained the position about this amendment on the Committee Stage. I mentioned that I did not know the exact procedure for introducing an amendment to amend the previous Act, and the Ceann Comhairle did give me some help. He said: "If the matter is relevant I will allow the Deputy to raise it on Report." I believe it is quite relevant to this Bill.

The amendment introduces a new and very important principle, and it does not arise out of anything which occurred in Committee. For that reason I do not think the amendment could be accepted by the Chair. Amendment 1 will fall with amendment 2, as it is a consequential amendment.

I do not know that you can say this amendment is raising a new principle. Right through this Bill runs the principle that it is being governed by the 1928 Agricultural Credit Act.

It is raising a principle which was not considered in Committee. It introduces a principle which did not arise when the Bill was being considered in Committee.

I hold that the Ceann Comhairle more or less gave me an undertaking. He said that if the matter were relevant he would allow me to raise it on Report.

I am afraid I could not agree that this amendment is relevant on the Report Stage.

I do not see how the Ceann Comhairle could have otherwise meant it when he put it that way. He should have known the position on the Committee Stage.

The amendment might probably be relevant on the Committee Stage, but certainly it is not on the Report Stage. For that reason the Chair could not allow it to be discussed.

I beg to move amendment 3:—

In page 12, line 59, Section 23 (1) to delete all from and including the words "to any person" in line 59 to the end of the sub-section and substitute the following:—

"to the persons and for the purpose hereinafter stated, that is to say:

(a) to any person (other than a co-operative society) for the purpose of paying off a loan which was originally made to another person before the passing of the Principal Act wholly or mainly for the purpose of purchasing land for agricultural purposes.

(b) to any person (other than a co-operative society) for the purpose of paying off a loan or other liability which was originally obtained or incurred, whether before or after the passing of this Act, by him or any other person wholly or mainly for a purpose for which a loan could, under Section 12 of the Principal Act or this section, be made to him by the Corporation;

(c) to any person (other than a co-operative society) for the purpose of paying off a charge on land or a loan borrowed for the purpose of paying off a charge on land where, in the opinion of the directors, the making of an advance to such person for such purpose will facilitate the making and securing the repayment of an advance made or intended to be made by the Corporation to such person for any other purpose authorised by Section 12 of the Principal Act or this section;

(d) to any person (other than a co-operative society) for the purpose of paying off a loan or other liability which was originally obtained or incurred, whether before or after the passing of this Act, by him or any other person for any purpose (including personal and family maintenance) where, in the opinion of the directors, the obtaining such loan or incurring such liability was calculated to facilitate the person by whom the same was obtained or incurred in effecting economies or avoiding losses."

This amendment deals with three or four things. It carries out the suggestion made by Deputy Jordan on the Committee Stage. He withdrew his amendment on a statement by the Minister that the point in it was covered. On examination, it was found that the point actually was not covered. Consequently, paragraph (a) of the amendment covers the point raised by Deputy Jordan. The second paragraph is a provision which was already in the Bill. It is put into a separate paragraph by way of redrafting. Paragraph (c) enables a loan to be used for the purpose of paying off a loan so that the first mortgage may be obtained. For instance, in certain cases a farm is left to a son, and there would be charges on it in favour of other sons and daughters. In such cases the owner could not give a first charge on the land to the Corporation, no matter how small the charge might be. This enables the Corporation to advance money for paying off the charge so that the first mortgage may be obtained. The next paragraph covers Deputy Ryan's amendment, which we undertook to consider.

Amendment 3 agreed to.

I am satisfied that in paragraph (d) the Minister has covered the subject-matter of my amendment. I do not like going back to the point about the other matter being relevant. I think I was rather unfairly treated. The subject-matter of paragraph (c) in the Minister's amendment is entirely new and yet it has been allowed through.

It deals with a point of very little importance, whereas Deputy Ryan's point is a very big one.

It is a matter of degree and consistency?

The question of degree comes in—the importance of the amendment sought to be introduced on Report.

Amendment 4, by leave, withdrawn.
Question—"That the Bill, as amended, be received for final consideration"—put and agreed to.
Question proposed: That the Bill do now pass.

Before this Bill passes I would like to direct the attention of the House to a statement made on the Second Reading by a Deputy. I refer to Deputy Kennedy, and the statement made by him is reported in Volume 30. No. 6, col. 1960 of the Official Reports. Deputy Kennedy is reported as having made the following statement: "As far as I can see, the chief achievement of the Agricultural Credit Corporation was to give jobs to the defeated candidates of the Farmers' Party for their support of the Government."

At that stage An Leas-Cheann Comhairle intervened and said: "The Deputy is not in order in discussing the Agricultural Credit Corporation, its personnel, or its administration under this Bill." Then Deputy Kennedy went on. This is the particular paragraph in his statement that I want to draw attention to. He went on to say: "I ask you, A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, if it is right that a leading politician in a public position who used his spleen against his political opponents is a right and proper person to be a member of the Agricultural Credit Corporation?" An Leas-Cheann Comhairle again intervened, and Deputy Kennedy edged away from the line he had taken. I was not present at the debate at the time, but, in any case, if I had been present I would have thought it well first to see the Official Report before commenting on what he had said. The statement that the Deputy has made is not a statement that should be made by a Deputy of this House, and I think an expression of opinion should go forth from this House if the Deputy does not make a withdrawal of that statement. The House should say that it is not the right type of statement that should be made here. I want to point out in connection with that statement that the Deputy——

Is the Parliamentary Secretary for Posts and Telegraphs in order in discussing this matter? If I were out of order at the time the Chair would have so ruled. Therefore what I did say was in order.

Deputy Heffernan is not speaking as Parliamentary Secretary for Posts and Telegraphs. He is speaking as a member of the Farmers' Party.

I presume I am in order.

I want to see what is the point.

On a point of order, if the Parliamentary Secretary is allowed to make his point will an answer be allowed to be made by some Deputy on this side of the House?

Surely that is not a point of order?

Surely it is. If not it would be in order for the Deputy to make any point irrelevant to the debate.

That does not arise.

It has already arisen. When Deputy Kennedy made that statement he was not allowed to continue to speak on the point on which the Parliamentary Secretary is now speaking.

There is this point. Deputy Kennedy made a certain statement, and——

Which was ruled out as disorderly.

Perhaps the Deputy will allow me to speak for a moment. Deputy Kennedy made a certain statement on the Second Reading of this Bill. He got that statement out before he could be stopped by the Chair. The statement has been made and it is on the records of this House. It is only with that statement that, I understand, the Parliamentary Secretary is now trying to deal. He should be allowed to come to the point, and when he has come to the point the Chair will rule whether that point is in order or is not in order.

I submit that any statement made out of order in this House has to be withdrawn or else the Deputy leaves the House.

Oh, no. The Deputy is quite wrong in saying that.

The statement was made in this House, and whether it was in order or whether it was not in order it appeared in the Official Reports and it also appeared in the public Press——

On a point of order, I want to point out that Deputy Kennedy was not allowed to complete his point, so that no statement was made.

And he was not allowed to give names.

That is the worst of it; he would not give them.

He would.

He had not the guts to give them.

It is perfectly evident that the Deputy has not the decency either to face up to this statement or to withdraw it.

It is too true to withdraw it.

The point I want to make is this, that the Deputy took advantage of his position here and of his privileges as a member of this House to make an imputation against the personal honour of somebody associated with the Agricultural Credit Corporation. My understanding of the Order of this House is that it is an unwritten law that a Deputy shall not make a statement imputing charges against the personal honour of a person who is not in this House and who is not in a position to defend himself. Furthermore, it is an imputation against the honour of a person who is not definitely named, and it remains uncertain and indefinite as to whom the Deputy is exactly referring.

I suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that in view of that he should leave the matter there. I would suggest further that he would do no good by going into the matter at this particular stage. The point is that Deputy Kennedy made a statement which, in the opinion of the Chair, was disorderly. The Deputy was informed of that and was prevented from going any further. It is unfortunate that the statement appeared in the Official Reports. But the Chair informed the Deputy that the statement made was out of order and the Deputy was not allowed to proceed further. I do not think I can allow the Parliamentary Secretary to go into the pros and cons of the matter at this stage.

I do not want to trespass on the Chair or on the ruling of the Chair, but I just want to make a point of order, and that is that Deputy Kennedy did actually make a statement and that statement is on the official records of the House. That statement in its present form is a direct imputation on the personal honour of an ex-member of this House. The statement has been printed in the public Press, that an ex-member of this House is not a fit person to be on, or to be associated with, the Agricultural Credit Corporation. The person against whom this imputation was made has not the right which an ordinary citizen has against any person who makes a slanderous or libellous statement about him, and my point is that Deputy Kennedy has taken advantage of the privileges of this House to make a statement in this House which he would not have the courage to make outside.

We cannot have a debate on this now. As a matter of fact, when a matter of this kind occurs the issue should be then and there dealt with and not raised afterwards. I certainly do not intend to allow discussion now, on the Fifth Stage of a Bill, about something which happened on the Second Reading——

On a point of personal explanation——

Perhaps the Deputy will allow me to finish. I do not propose to hear anything further on this matter. However, if Deputy Kennedy proposes to make a point of personal explanation I shall hear him, but I shall not allow a debate on the matter at this point.

What I wanted to say was, and it is not debating the matter, that I will go out this evening and make the same statement outside and give names. I did it before outside and I will do it again. This is not a mutual admiration society.

On the Deputy's last statement——

On a point of information——

Perhaps Deputies will sit down. I am not going to hear anybody else on this matter.

On a point of information——

Does the Deputy want information from me?

Through you.

I think you might allow me to refer to the Deputy's last statement.

Question—"That the Bill do now pass"—put and agreed to.