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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 19 Feb 1931

Vol. 37 No. 3

Private Business. - Land Bill, 1930—Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time" (Mr. Roddy).

At the adjournment of the debate last evening, I was endeavouring to show that this Bill is a Bill mainly in the interests of the landlord and the ranching class in this State, and with a view to establishing that fact I was examining the scheme and structure of the measure. I had dealt with what I conceived to be the best and the most important clause in the Bill—the Derrig clause—to show that while undoubtedly a great boon to the tenant is embodied in the Bill, it facilitates the transfer of large parcels of Land Bonds into the coffers of the landlords and the capitalists. I passed from what is the most important clause of the Bill, in my opinion, to certain of the lesser clauses, and down to what are perhaps the two least important clauses —Clauses 30 and 31. Just as the debate was adjourned, I was directing the attention of the House to the very substantial saving which Clause 31, when enacted, is likely to afford the landlord of a settled estate where there are various interests in possession or in remainder, and where it is very important nicely to discern what the exact moment is when the notional character of the property changes, and in the eye of the law it ceases to be real property, devolvable as such, and becomes personalty and descendable as personal estate. Undoubtedly, the Parliamentary Secretary has justification for his anticipation that Clause 31 will obviate for the landlord a considerable volume of litigation of that class, examples of which may be found in the law reports ever since the code of statutory land purchase was established in this country.

But, as I was about to explain last night, if you contrast that with the clause just beside it, another minor clause, which might be made to operate greatly to the convenience and somewhat to the profit of the small tenant purchaser, do you find the same measure of thought and foresight on behalf of that small tenant? You find that Clause 30 eases registration of title but it eases it only so far as it enables this statute as a whole to operate. This statute could have operated, so far as the public interest is concerned, without giving the landlord the benefit that Clause 31 gives him. If it is right to give the landlord that added advantage, why could Clause 30 not be availed of to give the peasant proprietor the same facility for borrowing money that he had when he was merely a tenant of a landlord? At that time, if his tenant right had become vested in or was assigned to him by a deed, and he wanted money, and if some bank or individual were ready to lend him that money, he could, by pledging the deed, without paying any stamp duty or employing any solicitor, without being faced with any bill of costs, either when he got the loan or when he came to pay off the loan, obtain the money. You transform him under this Bill, as many of his neighbours have been transformed under previous Acts, into a peasant proprietor, and his land certificate, which shows his peasant proprietorship, is retained by the Land Commission as part of the existing scheme of registration of title. It is retained by them so long as there is one penny outstanding in respect of the advance made to him. I am suggesting for the consideration of the House that, if the same paternal care were extended to the unfortunate small tenant that seems to have been devoted to the landlord, Clause 30 would have been availed of to enable that land certificate to be handed out to the tenant purchaser, so that he could have it to pledge, so that he might not have to go through the rigmarole he has to go through at present of having a deed of charge or a deed of mortgage drawn up as well as stamp duty and registration fees paid on it. When he comes to paying off his land, the same routine is gone through of a deed of release, the bill of costs, stamp fees and so on. All that is easily avoidable. Why is it not made avoidable? Is it because the Deputies on the benches opposite really believe what they say, that this country is so prosperous, the farmers are so well off, that they do not need to borrow money?

Perhaps that is the reason that such a provision would really be redundant and unnecessary. Perhaps it is for prudential reasons they take this course; that they think the more obstacles and more expense they put in the way of the unfortunate peasant proprietor when he seeks to raise money to pay, perhaps, some of their taxes—the more impediments they can put in his way if he tries to borrow money—the more provident he will be. At all events, I suggest that many in this State think it should be otherwise, that the ordinary small farmer would gladly avail of ancillary relief of a kind akin to what has been given to his landlord by enabling him to have that document in his possession, protecting the Land Commission—as they can be protected—by an endorsement upon it stating that the money was due to them.

Take another part of the Bill as illustrating the regard that has been had to an objectionable section in the Act of 1923, that section which enables land to be excluded from the operation of the Act if it has a potential value as building land. That section was largely availed of in the neighbourhood of practically every town in the Irish Free State and indeed in the neighbourhood of certain villages or even hamlets in the Free State. It was suggested that holdings adjoining the town or village had a wonderful value over and above their agricultural or pastoral value as sites for delectable mansions or for wonderfully busy factories or something like that. Very many of those claims prevailed, but the years that have passed since 1923, 1924, and 1925, have shown how few bricks or how few stones have been laid on that land that was so ripe for development. That was shown to such an extent that in the Act of 1927 some slight notice was taken of what even then had become a scandal and the Act of 1927 put a time limit within which certain building operations should commence. I am putting this sub-section more or less colloquially, but I think I am giving its fair substance. The Act of 1927 provided that unless within five years the landlords who had holdings or parts of holdings excluded from the operation of these statutes because of the potential value attached to them as building lands proceeded to carry out the work or took some steps towards carrying it out, the exclusion would cease to have effect. But it contained the tag that the landlord could give evidence that there were reasons for postponing the building. On the establishment of such a case, it was the duty, or the discretion at least, of the Judicial Commissioner to extend, and extend even indefinitely, the time within which this building might take place.

I am voicing the view of at least a number—I do not know whether I am voicing the view of the majority or not —when I say that it is a great omission from this Bill that we find no clause or sub-clause sweeping away altogether the exclusion of any holding by reason of a potential value where building is not actually started before 1932. It is unfair to put on this tag, that the Judicial Commissioner may extend the time indefinitely. The Judicial Commissioner, as everybody knows, has been beguiled by false cases and bogus evidence in the past into excluding these holdings because of their potential value as building sites, and what safeguard is there that this time-limit may not be extended by similar evidence? Why not clear this away altogether?

There is another matter that could and I suggest ought to, have been dealt with in this Bill that affects not merely a very large class of tenants, but affects the public purse to a great extent. I refer to the very large number of holdings which were outside the Land Law (Ireland) Acts, the tenants of which had not the right to have fair rents fixed upon their holdings. There are many such classes. Perhaps the largest divisions of the whole class excluded are the tenants of what were known as "future tenancies" and town parks. Under the combined effect of the statutes of 1923, 1927 and 1929, I think it may be fairly said that in the absence of an objection by the landlord or the tenant of those, amongst other non-judicial holdings, the standard annuity will be fixed automatically as provided by the statute of 1929. At first glance, it may be said that it is a sufficient safeguard that the landlord or the tenant has the right to object. I do suggest to this House that that apparent safeguard is wholly illusory. In the first place, one must consider the expense to which the tenant of a tiny town park in some remote part of the Irish Free State would be put if he proceeded to lodge in court an objection to the amount of his standard purchase price or standard purchase annuity on the ground that the rent which he had paid for his town park was a grossly exorbitant rent, extorted from him by the land monopolist of the district, the ground landlord of the village or town in which he lived. The shopkeeper, or even the labourer, may have had such a patch of land to graze a cow. He was forced by the economic pressure in his district, and by his circumstances, to pay a rack rent for that bit of a town park.

The Land Law Acts excluded him from the right to have a fair rent fixed. He is now faced with the dilemma that he must either let the Act of 1929 operate automatically and fix his standard price and his standard annuity for all the time it has to run on the basis of that exorbitant rent or he has to embark on the very hazardous enterprise of a lawsuit. If the holding is a small one, or if he lives a long distance from Dublin, it is obviously better business for him to submit to the increased standard annuity than to undergo the large out-of-pocket expenses of bringing a valzer or valuers all the way to Dublin, employing an advocate and incurring the incidental expenses that inevitably attend such a case.

Now that the Parliamentary Secretary has seen fit to avail of what we say is the obvious machinery for compulsory purchase of land, namely, that he should have an appointed day fixed very soon indeed, for the vesting in the Land Commission, so as to enable him to have his surveys made and to go through the rest of the routine before he vests the holding in the tenant purchaser, I do suggest—now that this machinery has been adopted —that there is no good reason why the law and practice that prevailed up to 1923 should not be resorted to again. The Land Commission, in the public interest, inspected the holding and satisfied themselves that the holding was security for the amount of public money to be advanced by it. I do suggest for the consideration of this House that a return to this procedure on the part of the Land Commission would be an inestimable boon to the very small townpark holder, to the very small future tenant, and at the same time would safeguard the public. The same valuation of a Land Commission inspector that ensures that no more public money is being advanced than the land is reasonable security for, having regard to the great variations in the incomes of Irish agricultural workers, will also incidentally protect the smaller tenant from the very great hardship that he undoubtedly has to endure by either involving himself in costly proceedings or submitting for a very long period to pay a land purchase annuity that is quite too high.

Speaking on this Bill, I feel that I would be lacking in duty towards the sentiment of the Irish people and towards the interests of what I am informed is a substantial number of the Irish people, if I refrained from drawing attention to another glaring omission from this Bill. It is this: So far as I have been able to find in this Bill, there is not a clause or a line which makes any new, fresh or easier provision for evicted tenants. I am informed—I have no personal knowledge of it and I state it with all reserve, I shall be delighted to hear that I have been inaccurately informed— that there are still, in the Irish Free State, a very large number of tenants who were evicted from their holdings in the course of what Deputy Sheehy so eloquently referred to as "the great land war"—evicted tenants who themselves were thrown out of their holdings in the 'eighties or 'nineties, or descendants of tenants who were evicted in the 'eighties or' nineties. I am informed that there is a substantial number of those evicted tenants still in the Irish Free State. If I am correctly informed, I do suggest to the House that even though the Parliamentary Secretary may be greatly inclined to caress his newly found friends, the landlords and the capitalists, he might have at least one little thought for those unfortunate people, the remnant of these evicted tenants who by their sacrifice made legislation such as this Bill now before us inevitable, and that something might easily have been done in this Bill to ensure that out of the vast area of untenanted land at the disposal of the Land Commission farms would be found for those evicted tenants. Indeed, the Parliamentary Secretary might even pluck up enough courage to put in a clause in this Bill which would enable him to beard the grabber in his den. If there was in possession of one of those evicted holdings a grabber and if there was no very great or substantial reason against removing him, he might even have plucked up enough courage to turn out that grabber and to give the holding to those who had been evicted or whose parents had been evicted.

As I stated last night, it was not my intention to weary the House by dealing with topics that might more aptly be dealt with in Committee. I have referred to these different sections of the Bill merely in an effort to give a thumb-nail sketch of what I suggest to this House is the true structure and scheme of this Bill.

It is a Bill manifestly in the interest of the landlord and in the interest of those who as mortgagees or financiers are interested in the landlords and such meed of relief as the tenant or the landless man gets under this Bill is given to him because it would be quite impossible to facilitate the landlord, to transfer these large parcels of bonds, unless certain words spoken on the benches opposite were eaten and the old scheme of vesting were abandoned.

The Parliamentary Secretary yesterday told us what many of us, indeed, perhaps all of us here, knew before, but which many of our constituents were led, either by express declaration or by most suggestive insinuation to believe to be the contrary. He stated yesterday evening:

We have over 80,000 holdings remaining to be vested under the 1923 and 1929 Acts, and more than 20,000 holdings on C.D.B. estates to be re-sold to the purchasers. Without a disproportionate and uneconomic expansion of staff, we cannot, under present conditions, hope to vest in the tenants more than 5,000 or 6,000 of the 1923 holdings, and 4,000 of the C.D.B. holdings each year for, say, the next five years.

Deputies and the public may easily work out for themselves how many years it would take to vest those 80,000 holdings if this system of vesting that has been attacked from these benches, attacked especially when Deputy Derrig's Bill was introduced, were to continue to prevail.

We are glad that the exigencies of the Irish landlord, or the Irish financier, and his desire, before another year elapses, to lay his hands on those bonds, have led to the adoption of the Derrig clause. We will listen patiently to any of the Government Deputies or the Farmers' Deputies who come to praise that part of the Bill, but we would suggest to them that they might very well come to bury some other parts of the Bill; that they might very well come to this House at a later date to assist Deputies who will seek to have certain glaring omissions in this Bill filled by clauses calculated to give some slight hope, some slight relief to the large class of small and medium tenants whose interests many of us have most at heart; and to the very large class of descendants of evicted tenants, and even the descendants of those further back who left during the clearances, who now live around the ranches and great areas of unoccupied land, and look forward to the day when they will get back to that land which is rightly theirs. We shall try in the course of the Committee Stage, I hope, to remedy some of the glaring omissions and defects and I trust that our efforts will meet with the approval and support of Deputies—whatever Party they belong to—who spring from the soil and who have personal knowledge that the facts I have indicated have not been exaggerated or inaccurately stated.

It is a long time since I have listened to such a foolish speech in this House. It could only be made by a Deputy who had no knowledge of the proceedings of the House for the last seven or eight years. He talks about the Bill not containing certain clauses relating to evicted tenants and other classes, forgetful of the fact that this Bill is an administrative Bill, purely and simply—a Bill designed to get over a certain difficulty that existed with regard to the speed with which holdings were being vested. That is the aim of the Bill; it is doing that, and it does not aim at anything outside that. Claims have been made here, not so much by Deputy Derrig who has sense enough, but by the new Deputy—Deputy Geoghegan.

He gagged you, anyway.

I, amongst others, told the electors of Westmeath that Deputy Geoghegan was a dud and they did not believe me, but it ought to be proved after the speech he has made this afternoon that he is a dud. There is one part of the Bill that I wish to draw attention to, and that is the part referring to fee-farm grants. We know the term "fee-farm grants" has a certain definite meaning and that a good deal of land in this country under fee-farm grants was held at very nominal rentals. These fee-farm grants were arrived at through family settlements and considerations of one kind or another, going back as far as 100, 150 or 200 years. Then there is a different class of fee-farm grant with a rental of anything from 30/- to £3 10s. per acre. These bore on the face of the title a provision excluding the tenants at any time from participation in any of the Land Courts or Land Purchase Acts. They had none of the virtues of the real fee-farm grant, but were obviously designed to prevent occupiers from availing of the Land Purchase Acts and the Land Courts.

It is well to call the attention of the Dáil to land values and what they consider land values ought to be. The judicial value of land has always been accepted as the basis of all purchase, and it ought to be emphasised here that it must be accepted as such no matter to what Appeal Court they may go. The fair rent has always been the basis of purchase here and all reductions have been based on that. It ought also to be the basis of the security of the State and that aspect of it should be emphasised now more than ever for this reason: that there were many lettings of land made since the war started at a fictitious value born of the war and when people were thinking and acting in terms of war values.

We are now back below pre-war value from the point of view of the occupier, considering the overhead charges, the cost of labour, the rates we are asked to pay on holdings to-dav compared with 20 years ago, and the cost of living. I make the assertion, which I do not think will be contradicted inside or outside the House, that the position of the occupier of a farm to-day is very much worse than it was pre-war. I hope it will be remembered in Courts of Appeal. It ought to be emphasised by the House that the Land Court values ought to be the values and the basis of purchase and that from that basis should the reductions operate. I have seen some of these fee-farm grants which were obviously worded to exclude holdings from the benefit of any Act. There is one thing I agree with Deputy Geoghegan about and that is with reference to potential building value of land. We thought to fine that down in previous Acts to a very fine point but it has not been brought far enough.

What has this Bill to do with it?

I quite agree it has nothing to do with it but the matter has been stressed by Deputy Geoghegan.

What sort of a speech?

A due speech from a dud speaker.

You are a great authority on duds.

Yes; and, as Deputy Sheehy said, we were fighting the landlords when Deputy Flinn was——

And Deputy Gorey was roaming the Bush.

We are told about Deputy Derrig's Bill of 1927 which occupied two or three sentences. The attitude of Deputy Derrig and his Party towards land purchase was much similar to the attitude of the Supreme Being at the time of the creation. He said "Let there be light and there was light," and there was no more to it. Deputy Geoghegan described Deputy Derrig's Bill as the foundation of this Bill. There was not a phrase or syllable in Deputy Derrig's Bill to suggest how the difficulty that confronted this House and the Land Commission was to be removed; there was not even a suggestion of a suggestion of that kind. There was not in any part of it such a suggestion, and Deputies opposite were not strangers to the Dáil at that time. They were here two years and they are nearly four years here now and they never were able to offer a suggestion as to how the difficulty could be removed, and what is their answer now?

We have Deputy Geoghegan praising Deputy Derrig's Bill, and we have Deputy Derrig saying in excuse for the ineptitude of his Party that it was not their business. That was the confession he made yesterday, and that was their excuse in 1929, that it was not their business to suggest a way out. That is not good enough to hide their stupidity behind. It is the business of everybody coming into this House and taking £360 of the people's money to make any and every suggestion that is feasible, and have it examined here.

We never heard any from you, anyhow.

The Deputy has not been here long enough. I go further, and say that the Deputy is perhaps uttering an unconscious falsehood. It was stated here in the memory of everybody in the House; it is on the records of the House, stated by me—Deputy de Valera even will remember it—that these obstructive clauses on questions of title and all the rest of it, could only be got over by the fact of transmitting any equities chargeable to the land, and property to Land Bonds, and let it be decided afterwards. That is in the memory of every Deputy in the House. That is the principle embodied in this Bill; that is the particular principle in Clause 9. The way they are protected according to the Bill, is to withhold 10 per cent. of the landlord's Land Bonds.

The Party opposite have taken credit for this Bill. It is a wonder they did not take credit for the Bill of 1927, or the 1923 Bill, or for the huge unpurchased tenants' organisation of 1921, 1922 and 1923. I would expect Deputy Geoghegan, from the speech he made, to have made that claim because I do not think there is any limit to the audacity of Deputy Geoghegan. Where were these five lawyers who are so ready with their advice on the land annuities question and why did they not work out this difficulty of the Land Commission? Did they make any suggestion to Deputy de Valera on the question? They were at his disposal then as they are now. Did they offer one suggestion or syllable of a suggestion to get over this difficulty which was facing the Land Commission? Deputy Geoghegan was one of the consultants of the Fianna Fáil Party at that time. Where were all these dumb authorities on land matters and law matters? Deputy Geoghegan referred also to the clamour of the landlords to get hold of their Land Bonds at this particular time. What are the facts? As soon as this list is published and as soon as the occupier comes in under the Act he will get ten per cent. more reduction than he had before. Instead of paying 75 per cent. he will pay 65 per cent. Yet the landlord is clamouring to give him that reduction and the landlord is going to take a bit less. He was getting 75 per cent. of the previous rent from the occupier of the land, now he will only get 65 per cent. and yet he is clamouring for this 65 per cent. Does he get 65 per cent.?

He is not getting 65 per cent.

I speak under correction. I am near enough to the facts to be true. Still the Deputy tells us about the clamour of the landlords which the Government were responding to. He also tells us that the purchasers will not be enamoured with this Bill. They are going to find some faults with the Bill because it is going to give them what they are entitled to for the first time. The Deputy tells us they will not be enamoured of it. Why? Is it because they are going to get 10 per cent. on purchase off what they have been paying since 1923? Is that the reason they are not enamoured of it? Why did not Deputies opposite, in the 1929 Bill, suggest a way out? They said it was not their business. Why is it not their business? As I said, it is the business of every man sent into this House, and it is the business of every man interested in the tenants, even though he never got anything out of it. We have been fighting for years and making suggestions before we ever came into this House. We thought it our duty to do it. Those people who are here paid for the last four years could not see it was their duty to do it; they would not take the risk of making a suggestion. They would not risk their great international reputation as statesmen in Europe. Is that the excuse? Or what is the excuse? Has that attitude been taken up by their predecessors in this House or by our predecessors outside this House—the late Irish Parliamentary Party? Is that how they made good Acts out of those that came over to us from the other side? Was that the attitude they adopted—that it was not their business to do the best they could when the Bill was going through the Oireachtas? I say that to declare that it was not their business is a very poor shelter indeed, and such a course is only one of gross stupidity, and it has nothing but gross and deliberate dishonesty behind it. That is what the whole thing amounts to.

I wonder would any of those Deputies, if he and his family were hungry, consider it his business to provide food, or would he suggest that the provision of food should be mainly a matter for the Government? It has been suggested here that the occupiers are going to be disappointed by this Bill. There are two classes of people who will be disappointed by the Bill, and the occupiers do not figure among those classes. In my opinion, the two classes of people who are going to be disappointed by the passing of this Bill are, first of all, the dud lawyers, the vultures who for fifty years have been feasting on the vendors and the purchasers, and the others are the members of the Party opposite, because one of the chief pawns in the peculiar game of politics at which they play has been torn from their hands by the provisions of this Bill.

Who wrote that for you?

I wrote it myself.

It sounds very like that.

It is written very plainly, and there is bad spelling, too. Reference to the records of the House will bear me out when I say that many of the suggestions embodied in this Bill were made in the course of the proceedings on the Committee Stage of the 1927 Act. We found that the 1923 Act was not securing the vesting of holdings with the dispatch that we expected, and various suggestions were made on the Committee Stage of the 1927 measure, and many of those suggestions are embodied in the Bill we are now considering. Yesterday Deputy Derrig said something about my attitude on previous Bills. I confess frankly that when the 1923 Act and the 1927 Act were going through this House I fought as hard as I could to lessen the price to the purchasing tenants. I did all I could to make the price as small as possible. I laid particular emphasis at that time upon the number of years' purchase and the existing rentals; I had nothing at all to say about annuities. There was an understanding come to in regard to annuities, and once the bargain was made I contend it must be observed. The annuities ought to be, and must be, paid, and nobody in the State ought to be, or will be, asked to pay another man's debts. I fought hard, as I have said, to have the number of years' purchase made as small as possible. Once a bargain is made in regard to anything it should be kept and, so far as annuities are concerned, I say that it will be kept, whether the bargain was a voluntary bargain as between the purchasers or vendors or whether it was made through the compulsory clauses of the 1923 Act. References were made yesterday to the desirability of reducing annuities. Surely that stuff is too old to go into now.

Am I at liberty to comment upon the remarks made here yesterday? If the Chair decides against me, I will not do so.

I gather that that matter was not gone into yesterday. It was alluded to, and perhaps the Deputy will content himself by having alluded to it now.

With regard to the suggestion that 10 per cent. of the land bonds should be held over in case the landlord in some instances may have faulty title, in my opinion a definite period should be set during which those bonds would be held. It might be well if there were some point about the vendor being in possession for a certain period of years, and a period might be stated in the Bill after which there would be no further claims in law. A reasonable period could be allowed for the settlement of any equities chargeable to land bonds. After a certain period has elapsed any charges on the land should not be allowed. That is my suggestion in connection with this matter. Some comments were made yesterday about the risk the taxpayer runs in connection with disputed title, and it was stated that after one man would have been paid another person might come forward and assert a better title. That matter is very far-fetched indeed. It is well to have the precautions that have been taken, but I think you may accept it that there is scarcely an estate in Ireland on which there would be any risk such as has been suggested. The risk the taxpayer would have to run would be no greater than the risk of a man dying of thirst on the embankments of the Shannon scheme. I think one of the queries to be sent out to vendors should be if any claims have been made on their properties within a period of years. They should be made answer truthfully. If there was no claim within a period of 25 or 30 years, then the estate should be considered free of all charges. In such matters the State ought to protect itself.

We all know that the Land Acts in this country have been in operation for a period of about 50 years. Certain traditions and routine matters have been in force all that time, and I, for one, desire now to pay a tribute to the courage of the Parliamentary Secretary, a layman, in carrying out the suggestions made here four or five years ago by other laymen, over the heads of the school of lawyers represented in this House by Deputy Geoghegan. We all know that the big obstacle to vesting in the past has been what I might describe as the vice of the vested interests of the lawyers. They filled in the time searching for years after title, perusing old records, knowing full well that in the end they would find nothing. They got well paid for doing nothing. One must admire the courage of the Parliamentary Secretary in overriding those old traditions and in setting aside this vice to which I have referred. He has boldly stepped out over the heads of the lawyers, the parasites and the duds.

Deputy Geoghegan said that he was not sure that this Bill was not introduced in the interests of the landlords. After reading through its forty-nine sections I am not sure that this Bill will not be found to be in the interests of the lawyers, despite what Deputy Gorey said.

I would be very sorry indeed to see that.

So would I. I think anyone who follows its meaning and goes through its various sections will agree that it is a very complicated measure. I should like to join with Deputy Gorey in paying a tribute to the Parliamentary Secretary for Lands and Fisheries for the comprehensive statement he made in introducing the Bill and for the way in which he made its main points plain to the ordinary non-legal Deputy. I do not intend to go into anything like a general analysis of the provisions of this measure. To me it would appear that this can best be done on the Committee Stage. So far as the general provisions of the measure are concerned, we are in agreement.

The portion of the Bill that interests me most is that which deals with the 20,000 non-vested tenants in the congested areas. I would be glad to have a fuller explanation from the Parliamentary Secretary as to the procedure to be adopted in their cases. We know that this is one of the biggest grievances that has been brought before the House from time to time. I know of holdings which were taken over through the Congested Districts Board as far back as fourteen or fifteen years ago which are still in the possession of the Land Commission, and the tenants are as near to being landholders now as when the lands were first taken over. I would like to have a clear statement from the Parliamentary Secretary as to whether all the tenants on these holdings which were bought through the Congested Districts Board over a period of years will automatically become the owners of their land on the Appointed Day, and whether it will be possible under this measure to bring that about inside the time which the Parliamentary Secretary mentioned, namely, twelve months. I think if the Bill does that it will be of very considerable benefit to those people.

I would like to hear the Parliamentary Secretary tell us something more as to what the procedure will be in those particular areas, because there are difficulties there that are not present anywhere else. We have such questions to deal with as land held in rundale and co-tenancies, where two or three neighbours hold the land jointly. Then there are all kinds of questions about mountains, commonages and all that kind of thing which must present great difficulties indeed. We would like the Parliamentary Secretary to explain what the Department will do about vesting tenants who hold land in rundale and co-tenants. Those are a few of the points about which I would like the Parliamentary Secretary to give us some explanation.

The next thing I would like to mention is the machinery for the taking over of untenanted lands and tenanted lands required for the relief of congestion. It seems to me that, in general, there is altogether too great delay in doing this work. The machinery is altogether too complicated for the taking of land for division amongst uneconomic holders. It takes too much time, and there are too many loopholes by which the owners of those lands can manage to retain them. The Parliamentary Secretary knows of a particular case in Roscommon in which the owner of the land was enabled to hold on to several thousand acres. I do not know whether any of the representatives of Roscommon are here. They probably are aware of this case, where the owner was able to retain the land despite all the efforts of the Land Commission. I believe that the Land Commission were genuine in their intention to get hold of the land in that case. But the owner was able to hold on to it. I do not believe that there is any provision in this measure for dealing with a matter of that kind. I think, therefore, the Parliamentary Secretary and the Government should look into the question in order to find out whether it would be possible to devise any better way of getting possession of land for the relief of congestion.

There is a sort of case that one finds pretty often in the congested areas. A person may have a considerable holding of land, 200,300 or even 400 acres, set down right in the centre of a very congested district, with a number of little holders around, men having only four or five or ten acres of a holding at most. Naturally, they are looking to the large holding in the centre for an extension of their holdings or for a new holding. Now, if this large holding is held subject to a land purchase annuity, there seems to be very great difficulty in getting possession of it. It can only be got possession of if an alternative holding is found somewhere else, or if a cash transaction can be entered into. In some cases, however, the person in possession of the land is not a bit anxious to move. He may be a man who is not prepared to move to another part of the country. He may be a man who is anxious to get out of the land altogether. It may be the case of people whose circumstances are such that they are not in a position any longer to work the land. In such cases, there ought to be some provision whereby farms of that kind can be taken over without going to the necessity of offering them an alternative holding. If the land in such cases is taken at the full market value and if it is then distributed amongst the tenants and if the tenants have to pay to the full extent at which it was bought, then of course it will be scarcely worth the tenants' while to get it. There ought to be some machinery that would bridge the gap between what it would take to buy out the interest of the particular person concerned and the figure at which it could be let economically to the people who are to get it. I should like if that point were examined further because, if it were, it would help to get rid of many difficulties which I know confront those responsible for land distribution, especially in the West of Ireland. There are many ranches and large holdings held in that way and I do not see very much hope of having them divided amongst uneconomic holders and landless men. Undoubtedly, we are all in agreement that the claims of the uneconomic land holders should firstly be satisfied. There are just one or two other points to which I would like to refer. There seems to be running through the Bill an idea that the decision of the Judicial Commissioner on all these various matters is final. If I remember aright there was a section in the 1923 Act that gave the right of appeal in certain circumstances to the Supreme Court. I should like to know if that has in any way been interfered with or whether it is still the case that there is a right of appeal.

There is another small matter which has reference to the extension of the power of the retention of holdings, and I mention it for the purpose of getting an explanation. It is dealt with in Section 25. The Land Commission has a right under the Act of 1923 to retain certain holdings. That is now extended to Congested District Board holdings and untenanted land. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary, when replying, would give us an explanation of that particular provision. Another matter to which I desire to refer deals with the question of sub-tenants, which was raised by Deputy Derrig, who is doubtful whether sub-tenants would get their full twenty-five per cent. reductions. It appears to me that according to Section 16 they would. I would suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that the matter is rather vague and should be made clear in the Bill. If it is the case—and my reading of the Bill is that it is—it should be made clear, but at present it would appear to be doubtful. It might perhaps take a little out of the lawyers' pockets if it were made clear in the Act. We are all in agreement with the general principles in the Bill and in the matter of hurrying on vesting, and, so far as I am concerned, because of the benefits which the Bill will confer on the 20,000 tenants in congested areas, I will support its Second Reading.

I have listened to a good many maiden speeches in this House, and I listened yesterday and to-day to the maiden speech of Deputy Geoghegan.

No, it was his second speech.

Well, it was his first speech on this subject, and I was frankly disappointed with it. I am sure that Deputy Geoghegan is a man of considerable talent and ability on legal matters, but I think it is a pity to see ability and talent of that kind used for palpable electioneering purposes on a Bill of this kind. The Deputy's speech was not made to the benches of this House, but to the voters down the country. It was punctuated from beginning to end with panegyrics, praise and adulation of the famous Bill which was introduced by Deputy Derrig. That famous Bill was introduced, as I say, by Deputy Derrig, but when it was torn to pieces, as it was bound to be, by Deputies and Minister who understood the Land Act, Deputy Derrig had not the courage to get up and defend his Bill and to reply to the speeches made here before it was put to a vote.

Now the question of land tenure in the country is being used in this House for the purpose of obtaining credit, not here but down the country. So far as I am concerned I do not care where the credit goes. All I care about is that we shall endeavour in this Dáil to pass legislation which will establish, in so far as it is possible to do so, a permanent form of satisfactory land tenure in this country. The Bill before us does not, perhaps, deal once and for all with every land problem with which we are faced. It is a Bill in which we are confined within a certain ambit. It is doubtful whether every land problem that will arise from time to time can be dealt with and finished in any one Bill. Land problems have always existed and always will exist. We are dealing in this Bill with a definite problem which is becoming serious, and I think we have a right to congratulate those who introduced the Bill, especially when it deals with the difficulties with which we are faced in such a comprehensive way.

I am particularly interested in this Bill, as I have been in every form of land legislation which came before this House. Unlike Deputies on the other side, I am not attempting to gain personal kudos for anything I do for the land occupiers in this country, but I would remind Deputies that the movement which led up to the passing of the Land Act of 1923, and later to the Acts of 1927 and 1929, and which has culminated in the introduction of this Bill, which finally deals with the problem, was initiated, fostered, and developed by the organisation and party to which I belong. The greatest organisation of unpurchased tonants which existed in this country since the Land League times existed previous to the introduction of the 1923 Bill. The peaceful, reasonable agitation—I desire to emphasise that point—conducted by that organisation was mainly responsible for persuading the then Minister for Lands and Agriculture of the necessity of introducing for the first time in this House a Bill giving compulsory powers for the purchase of land. The line of argument adopted by Deputy Derrig and Deputy Geoghegan reminds me of the action which we see taken by small boys occasionally down the country in the playing fields when engaging in informal games in which you see the boys coats used as goalposts and their caps placed on sticks. You usually see a clever boy hanging round offside close to his opponents' goal, and when the ball comes his way he rushes in and kicks it through. He then starts to shout and all his colleagues on the sidelines join in the shouting. He claims to be responsible for winning the game.

Deputy Derrig, supported by Deputy Geoghegan, says: "I was responsible for the famous clause in the Land Bill, clause 9, the Derrig clause." It will go down to history, and at the next election we will hear at every street corner, at which Deputy Derrig and Deputy Geoghegan are speaking, that the Government had to introduce the clause because Deputy Derrig showed them how to do it. That is the sort of appeal to the public which is constantly manufactured by Deputies on the opposite side, whose whole career in this House is oriented with the idea of what the people down the country will think of them and their actions. I do not think that Deputy Lemass, though he claims credit for enough, God knows, will claim credit for the Land Act but will leave that to Deputy Geoghegan and Deputy Derrig while he himself will be busy slandering members of the Farmers' Party throughout the country.

The Deputy ought to get back to the Land Bill.

I am very pleased with the Bill itself. The Bill, as has been explained, is largely an administrative measure. It is a very complex Bill. It is difficult to understand, and I doubt if even Deputy Geoghegan or Deputy Derrig fully understands it. Although Deputy Geoghegan has announced that he and his colleagues are going to find many flaws in the Bill, I believe that the people down the country will find that this Bill is what it purports to be. He said that this Bill is pressed on by the landlord interests and every interest except the one interest on whose behalf it is pushed forward, that of the remnants of the unpurchased tenant. Happening to be associated very closely with the land movement all my life, especially with the Unpurchased Tenants Association, I am well acquainted with the problems which confronted them and well acquainted with their grievances. I do know that prior to the passing of the 1923 Act the residue of the unpurchased tenants had very genuine grievances. There they were side by side with their neighbours, many of whom had purchased ten or fifteen years before and had consequently got the reductions that appertained to purchase. These men were farming side by side. The unpurchased tenants were still paying the old rents and had no real redress; no real redress could be found for them until a compulsory Bill was introduced.

The 1923 Act was the first compulsory measure introduced. Problems like these have been before the country for generations and have been dealt with by Land Act after Land Act. The easier problems were dealt with at first, the problems which solved themselves practically in the beginning. Next came the problems which were more difficult, and finally there is a residue of the most difficult problems, those problems which it is almost impossible to solve. These are the problems which we are endeavouring to solve and which it is hoped to solve by this Bill. Under the 1923 Act the tenants got an immediate reduction of 25 per cent. Then, however, they had the payment in lieu of rent to pay, and it was found that only a small portion of the unpurchased tenants were having their land vested. Those of us who are specially interested in the matter were becoming agitated and worried about the situation. We were clamouring at the door of the Land Commission asking that the vesting of the land should be expedited.

I personally asked that the staff of the Land Commission should be diverted to an extent from the work of land division on to the work of vesting of land, stating then, as I state now, that in my opinion the question of the vesting of land was more urgent and that of division the problem was one in regard to which the grievances were greater. I stated that if it were a choice between acquisition of land and vesting, I would give my support definitely for vesting. However, in this Bill we have a solution of the problem, and there is no reason why, with perhaps some addition to the staff of the Land Commission, the vesting of land and the acquisition of land for division should not go along concurrently side by side. I heard the Parliamentary Secretary make no statement as to the time this work will occupy, but I am hoping that this work of vesting will be expedited to such an extent that practically all unvested land will be in the ownership of the occupiers as fee simple owners within a year. I am also hoping that side by side with that will go on the work which the Land Commission has been steadily doing in regard to the acquisition of land. Despite the electioneering statements which are being made here that the Land Commission are not pressing on work of division, I believe the Land Commission have been and are doing very excellent work and that they are advancing with rapid steps on the work of the acquisition or the division of land amongst the various classes who are entitled to get it.

When we have dealt with Section 9, with the arrangement which has been made for the final vesting of land, we must pass on to certain comparatively minor sections of the Bill but sections which still are of considerable importance. I am especially gratified to see in this Bill a section dealing with fee farm grantees. In the discussion which took place on the Act of 1923 and at the Special Committees which was set up to deal with the Land Act of 1927, a great deal of attention was given to the position of the class of farm occupiers know as fee farm grantees. The problem was a very difficult and complex one. I do not intend to enter into an analysis of it now beyond saying that there were in that class, known as fee farm grantees, various sections and it was very difficult to deal equitably with one class without being unfair to another class. It was generally accepted that the original section in the 1923 Land Act dealing with this class of occupiers was unsatisfactory. That was Section 38. A different section was introduced to deal with the situation in the 1927 Land Act. That was not found really satisfactory in operation. Now we have found at last a section in this Bill which practically does all which we, on those benches, have been asking for. It places fee farm grantees practically in the same position as ordinary tenants but even that arrangement does not quite solve the problem. There will still be certain classes amongst that large number of fee farm grantees whose difficulty will not be completely and satisfactorily dealt with by the Bill as it stands. That is a section which to my mind needs a good deal of careful consideration and it is to be hoped that, with the co-operation of the Parliamentary Secretary which I am sure we will get, some amendment can be introduced which will render the section satisfactory to all fee farm occupiers or, if it cannot be made satisfactory to all of them, that it will be made satisfactory to the vast majority of them.

There is just one other section of the agricultural community which will come under the Bill with whom I want to deal and in regard to whom representations have been made to me —occupation of land on potential building ground. That again was one of the thorny problems in the Bill of 1927. That was one of the problems with which the Select Committee endeavoured to deal and which was dealt with in part or as we thought at the time altogether. We find that there are still unpurchased tenants in the environs of some of the larger towns who claim that they are ordinary agricultural occupiers of land; and who are being prohibited by the existing law from becoming purchased tenants.

Personally, I find it very difficult to see a solution of this latter question. I see that there is difficulty there, and that it will be very hard to put it right. If we bend our efforts in an honest way we may, however, succeed in putting it right. These are the only points that I wish to deal with now, and I again express my gratification that this Bill has been introduced and my pleasure that a satisfactory way has been found out of the difficult situation which existed hitherto, a situation which gave rise to a good deal of justifiable unrest and clamour amongst a very decent set of people down the country. Whether these be small or large farmers I do not differentiate between them.

It is rather amusing to hear the claims that are now being put forward as to where the idea for this Bill came from. It is wonderful to hear the two late leaders of the Farmers' Party claim credit for it. I can quite understand the opinion that a man with the type of mind that Deputy Gorey has would express with regard to a Fianna Fáil Bill. He reminds one of the wild feudal barons who boasted they never learned to write, and of the old man down the country who, on getting a cheque from America for the sum of £5,000, said, "We will throw it into the fire; there is not £5,000 there at all, as there is not enough paper on it." Then we had Deputy Heffernan claiming credit for the Bill. We had references made to the Land Act of 1923, but what about the complaints that farmers throughout the country have been making in connection with that Act? It is extraordinary that the brilliant minds of Deputy Heffernan and Deputy Gorey were not able to evolve something to meet the difficulties which the Land Act of 1923 left untouched. It was amusing to hear Deputy Heffernan express his sympathy with the unpurchased tenants, and his eagerness to have land divided up to meet the needs of the evicted tenants. That was amusing when one remembers the statement made by his colleague in Tipperary, Deputy Hassett, a short time ago, with reference to the District Justice down in Deputy Heffernan's constituency who got a present of 350 acres of land from the Land Commission. It is rather amazing that we did not hear any complaints from the leader of the Farmers' Party about that until a member of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party exposed it. You have there a rather amazing state of affairs—the poor evicted tenants still out on the roadside and 350 acres of land given to a District Justice. It must be another bargain.

I welcome the resurrection of our 1929 Land Bill. Here we have it now, clothed in all the pretty clothes that the Dáil tailors could put on it during the past two years. It took two years to do all that, and now it is presented to us in four parts and forty-nine sections. All that is being done for the benefit of the legal luminaries hanging on to the skirts of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party waiting for the jobs they expect to get out of it. The legal phraseology of the measure is such that while farmers could not possibly be expected to understand it, it will, when it comes to be put into operation, provide the briefless barristers of Cumann na nGaedheal with jobs. We welcome the Bill. At the same time we regret that the "powers that be," the party to whom the Government owe their existence in this House, have been enabled to impress their seal on this measure. We find that in Section 33 provision is made for the distribution of the purchase money. We learn now that an imperfect title is no bar to a landlord as regards getting his purchase money. That is a rather amazing provision in view of all that we heard from the Minister for Agriculture on the question of title when the 1929 Bill was before the House. At that time we were told that unless there was evidence of the most perfect title, vesting could not take place, though that imperfect title was good enough to catch a man and shove him into jail for not paying his rent. It is also good enough if you want to send down the bumbailiff to evict a man and his family. The people with the imperfect titles are now to be paid purchase money, and if a man with a perfect title to the same estate comes along later he is to get compensation. The compensation is to come out of the pockets of the Irish taxpayers. I hope to hear Section 33 of the Bill explained, and to be told in a case such as I refer to where the compensation for the man with a proper title is to come from.

We heard a lot about the 1923 Land Act. I know at least seven estates in East Cork where the tenants got voluntary reductions in 1919, '20, '21 and '22 of 35 per cent. off judicial rent. The Government might have been expected to hold the balance fairly, and if it was to tip to one side or the other that it would be on behalf of the tenant, but it did not do so. The Government accepted, and they are doing the same in this Bill, the landlord's list. If a tenant wants to prove that his rent is not correct, then he has to go to court to fight the landlord. It is not the landlord who has to fight the tenant, but the reverse. These cases are waiting to be listed before the highest court of appeal in this country so far as land is concerned— before Mr. Justice Wylie. These unfortunate tenants under the Land Act of 1923 have had their rents increased by 10 per cent. They have been paying that increase from 1923 to 1931. Their cases are held up, and if they do not pay the increased rent they are liable to prosecution and conviction and to be shoved into jail for refusing to pay. Yet, in spite of that we hear the former members of the Farmers' Party claiming credit for the 1923 Act. They have every reason to be proud of it, or for having anything to do with it! I would like to know what is going to become of those tenants now? Are they, even at this late hour, going to be given justice? So far as I see from this Bill, it does not propose to give them justice.

Are we going to have an amendment brought in to this Bill which will give the unfortunate tenants, at least, a fair crack of the whip? Surely, when the landlords admitted that the rents were too high by reducing them in 1918, 1919 and 1920, the reduced rent should be taken as the judicial rent, and from that reduced rent this 35 per cent. or 25 per cent. reduction should come. Surely that is only mere justice to the unfortunate tenants who are unpurchased and unvested. On the admission of the Parliamentary Secretary the Land Commission have been, year after year, dragging £950,000 from these tenants, 80,000 of whom are still unvested. Surely they are entitled to a fair crack of the whip. I maintain that the reduced rents should be taken as the standard rents, and I think, in justice, a clause should be inserted in the Bill taking these rents as the actual rents. That would be only justice.

Anyone who has anything to do with land knows very well that it has depreciated in value from 35 per cent. to 40 per cent. since the Act of 1923 was passed. The value of 100 acres of land, if it was thrown on the market at the present time, is at least 35 to 40 per cent. lower than the value in 1923. Still no provision is made in this Bill to meet that situation. What is going to happen to the tenants? Should not the landlord bear his share? In this Bill, as in every other Bill that passed through this House, you have the stamp and the seal of those who rule this House, and who, unfortunately, rule the Free State. Thirteen or fourteen men are the actual rulers here, and those on the Front Benches opposite are the shadow rulers. These men have left their impress on the Bill. It is time that state of affairs ended. I hope Deputies who represent the agricultural community, and I am sure they are in the majority in all parties, will see that this Bill is amended, and that justice is done to these unfortunate tenants. If the Front Bench is going to be forced into a certain position by a tiny little clique, as representatives of the agricultural community we should see that the tenants get fair play.

You have also the case of those people Deputy Heffernan alluded to, the unfortunate holders of potential building ground. That class is excluded from the provisions of this Bill just as they were excluded from the provisions of the previous Land Act. Surely when a tenant has used his holding as a purely agricultural holding for the last thirty years that holding is an agricultural holding and nothing else. Its proximity to some little village should not be used as a lever by the landlord to keep him out of the benefits of the Acts. I welcome this Bill and what is good in it. I regret that it took all the legal minds and intelligence at the disposal of the present Government two years to clothe the Bill that we brought into this House in 1929 in legal phraseology. That is what this Bill actually amounts to. That is all that is good in the Bill for the tenant. The only good in it is contained in clause 9. There is nothing else in it. Even inspired statements in the Press show that. It is a Bill for the early vesting of holdings. That is all that is in it, except the portion dealing with the price that is being paid to the landlord. There was nothing in the Bill we brought in to see that landlords, gentlemen with bad title, would be given money. That is dealt with in this Bill.

There was nothing at all in it.

We know you are blind at times. We are quite aware of your difficulties. We deplore but we cannot help them. Under this Bill, we have provision made by which the holder of a bad title is to be paid, and if anybody with a better title turns up afterwards he is to be compensated. We are going to pay two owners. One landlord is to be paid, although he may have no claim, and the other landlord, if he can make a claim, is also to be compensated out of the same estate. Surely the legal minds of the Land Commission could evolve something better than that. Deputy Gorey alluded to Deputies' salaries some time ago. All the money we are paying for legal opinion in the Land Commission ought to be able to evolve some means of preventing a thief with no title running away with money that he is not entitled to. But there is nothing to that effect in the Bill. A provision is made in the Bill for the thief to get away with it. Provision to that effect is made in Clause 33. Was there ever such nonsense? We do not know where we are going to wind up with the extraordinary Bills brought here from time to time.

The difference between this Bill and the one that was introduced in 1929 is that the latter was composed of commonsense, while this is legal sense and nonsense combined. That is the only difference I can see. As for those gentlemen on the opposite benches who now come forward to claim all the credit for the 1923 Act, I wish some of them were caught down in my constituency by the unfortunate tenants whose rents were raised 10 per cent. If they were I am sure they would be dealt with in proper fashion. On the Committee Stage we hope that the difficulties I have pointed out will be remedied. In the first place, we hope that there will be an amendment brought in to provide that where landlords gave voluntary reductions, thus indicating that they considered the rents too high, these reductions will be taken as the basis of the fair or judicial rents of the holdings.

And we hope to see some legal means devised. I prefer to see the purchase money held up for ten or twenty years rather than see a man with a bad title getting away with it. We are not in a hurry to see these gentlemen paid, but we are in a big hurry to see the tenants vested. Those are the two things we want. We quite understand the anxiety of those landlords' agents and others who are paid out of other people's pockets to see that the landlord gets his share. Pressure brought on by the landlords' representatives here has brought in this Bill. They see the writing on the wall. They know that departure is imminent and they are anxious to get their bit before they go. That is the reason for this Bill.

I am sure that the unfortunate tenants will exercise a little more intelligence than Deputy Gorey when they see the Bill, and that they will not believe that because it has 49 or 50 clauses that it is perfect. When we come to the Committee Stage of this Bill and read 50 or 60 amendments to the 49 sections brought in by the Minister we will see how many imperfections there are in the Bill. When the unfortunate tenants, who were filled with hope when we brought in the vesting Bill in 1929, see the new Bill they will hardly say that all the paper that is consumed in it will be sufficient for the ten per cent. the Cumann na nGaedheal Party and the Government took out of their pockets for two years by defeating the Fianna Fáil Bill in 1929.

Mr. Hogan (Clare):

I think I was justified in expecting from Deputy Heffernan and Deputy Gorey some explanation or enlightenment on this complicated measure. Listening to them, I was rather inclined to reiterate the prayer of the old lady who was caught in a thunderstorm by the roadside. She was very nervous and very excited, and exclaimed, "Oh, Lord, give us a little bit more light and a little bit less noise." I do not know whether any useful purpose would be served at this stage by speaking of the delay in introducing this measure. The Parliamentary Secretary himself has agreed that the measure was long overdue. He said himself yesterday that there remained to be dealt with at the advent of the Saorstát 100,000 holdings, comprising 3,000,000 acres, at an estimated price of £20,000,000, in addition to so and so. He goes on to say that they had over 80,000 holdings remaining to be vested under the 1923-29 Acts, and more than 20,000 holdings on Congested Districts Board estates to be re-sold to purchasers. Although purchase particulars had been lodged in respect of over 2,900,000 acres, only some 550,000 acres had been vested in the Land Commission. This meant that while all tenants in the Saorstát were getting their 25 per cent. reductions in their rents, a very large proportion, because of the fact that the Land Commission had not been able to fix the Appointed Day, were still deprived of the additional reduction.

Deputy Corry spoke about landlords getting away with the loot, but it seems to me that whoever is getting away with the loot, whether it is the Land Commission or the landlords, that a certain number of farmers in this country for the last five years at least are paying a certain amount of money that can be scarcely described as anything else but a form of loot. The payment had no legal basis or right. There was no legal right in those people to pay, because the machinery of vesting was not able to deal with the vesting and these people, for the last five years, have been asked to do without their five per cent. and their ten per cent. reduction. Now that the measure is being introduced that proposes—and I admit that it has a good many excellent points—to remedy these defects, I am very much surprised to find out that in the case of those people who have not got this reduction of five per cent. and ten per cent. for a number of years that there is no provision made by which there will be compensation afforded to them for the losses they have suffered. Surely it is not too much to ask that there should be some consideration given to them.

I have not the figures by me of the total amount of money which would represent 2,300,000 acres or the 80,000 holdings still unvested, so I cannot say what five per cent. or ten per cent. on that would amount to. The Parliamentary Secretary yesterday did not give us these figures, but surely whatever it amounts to it is a fairly considerable amount of money that has been taken without any legal basis by somebody. I am not quite sure where it is gone, but I am not sure whether there is not a certain amount of interest due to these people for a number of years. I see no provision in this Bill to deal with that at all. The vendor lost nothing during these five years. That is one thing we cannot emphasise too often. The man who is paying the annuities has been losing all the time, and surely now when we are trying to remedy this gross injustice there ought to be some means of giving these people something of what they have overpaid. I do hope, with Deputy Corry, that in the Committee Stage some effort will be made to remedy this omission. There is throughout the country a widespread demand that this omission should be remedied.

There was, before this Bill was introduced, a very strong demand that some consideration should be given to these people. They are not at all unaware of their rights under the Land Acts, and after two years' operation of the 1923 Act surely it ought to be obvious to the Land Commission that vesting could not proceed as quickly as it was desirable, for the Parliamentary Secretary himself told us yesterday if you calculate the figures he gave us that under the present machinery it will take thirty years at least before the land of Ireland will be vested. Surely that ought to be obvious to the Land Commission when they started to put into operation the Act of 1923. Some provision ought to have been made years ago to have this injustice remedied. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will take cognisance of the fact that these people have been injured while the vendor got away with the money. The man who was rooted on the soil; the man who was brought to the court and to whom the bailiff and sheriff was sent— that man could not escape and had to pay out money for the last five years which there was no legal basis for paying. The Parliamentary Secretary shakes his head. Very good. He does not agree with what I say. Surely he will agree that in equity, whatever about the law...

Quite different.

Mr. Hogan

In equity, whatever about law, there was no right to demand from these people, for five years at least, the 5 per cent. or the 10 per cent. that they should have been allowed by way of reduction. That surely is common equity. Certain arrears have been wiped out under previous Acts, and certain arrears have been added on to the purchase money. Now there is a certain good reason why certain arrears at the present time should be added on to the purchase price. The circumstances militating against profitable farming in this country for some eight or ten years have been very serious. There have been many disturbances that disorganised markets and fairs and made profitable farming difficult. There were enormous losses in cattle. On another occasion I gave figures of the losses which it was said we suffered in my constituency which the Minister for Agriculture did not accept at the time. A certain proportion of them have to be accepted. These losses were incurred and arrears accumulated because of these losses which disorganised fairs and markets. Yet I find no consideration for these people in this Bill.

Nobody knows better than the Parliamentary Secretary himself how difficult it is to collect arrears of land annuities at the present time. In most cases he acts in a fashion that suggests he knows the difficulties. I will say nothing more than that. He seems to recognise the difficulties people have in meeting these arrears. I put it to him then that if he analyses the difficulties and traces the causes he will find that the causes are not in nine cases out of ten the making of the annuitants themselves. They are the result of circumstances over which they have no control. In fairness to them and in order to facilitate the payment of annuities and the work of the Land Commission—I think it would be only fair and just to himself—he should add some of these arrears at least on to the purchase money. Instead of doing that he says arrears must be cleared off before land is vested. We find when farms are being vested that notices are sent out that arrears must be cleared off before the lands are vested, notwithstanding the fact that for five years these people have been paying in excess. If you compare what they have been paying in excess with what they own it would be interesting to know which is the larger amount. Yet no provision whatever is made for adding any arrears on to the purchase money.

I do not find in this Bill either any provision for giving consideration to landless men. We were told here often —I suppose it has become rather a stock phrase now—that there is not enough of land to go around. That may be true to some extent, but one has only to read the newspapers to see that there are farms of 100 acres, 200 acres and 300 acres offered for sale every day. I do not want to advocate the stopping of sales of farms, but when you find people with 200 or 300 acres of land buying 200 or 300 acres more in districts where you have scores of landless men one must take some notice of it. There ought to be some investigation of the position, to find how some consideration could be given to them. In this Bill no consideration is given to them. Probably it is things of that kind that induced Deputy Heffernan to say that you will always have a necessity for a Land Bill. He gave me the impression that land legislation, like Tennyson's "Brook," was going to go on for ever.

In the Committee Stage I hope an attempt will be made to remedy these gross omissions. The Bill, of course, is needed. It sets itself out to remedy certain grievances, and it does remedy some grievances, but there are several gross omissions in it, and I hope that every Deputy, irrespective of Party considerations, before the Committee Stage is finished, will help in remedying these matters, and in making the Bill a useful measure to the people who have been suffering for many years, the small farmers of the greater part of Ireland.

I must once again confess the difficulty I find in following the mysteries of policy attached to the different sections of the chief Opposition Party. On the national policy we have the pro-Treaty section, the anti-Treaty section, and the third newly-created section which says it is neither pro-Treaty not anti-Treaty. On the question of land purchase annuities which vitally affects-this Bill, we have at least two sections. It is exactly three years ago since a pair of political acrobats, members of the chief Opposition Party, scoured my constituency from end to end proclaiming in no uncertain fashion that what they stated was the policy of the chief Opposition Party. It was this—I am talking of January, 1928—that if their Party was returned to power the tenants would not be asked to pay any land annuities; (2) they were good enough to add that we were going to have a general election in September, 1928. In 1930, nearly three years later. I think we had from Deputy de Valera, who is leader of at least a section of the chief Opposition Party, a repudiation of that policy. Why was it not repudiated in 1928 when they said they were anticipating a general election? Why was it not repudiated in 1929? Why did it take nearly three years before they could make up their minds as to whether or not they were going to repudiate that policy?

On a point of order, what has this got to do with the Land Bill?

Mr. Wolfe

That is what I am going to show if the Deputy will contain himself. I suggest that the questions of land annuities—the Deputy may not be able to follow it and I cannot help it—and land purchase are indissolubly connected and must remain so. Perhaps it will please the Deputy to consider the views of the different sections of the chief Opposition Party on the question of land purchase. I understood that we had the Derrig doctrine. Now we have the Geoghegan doctrine. The House had the supreme advantage of hearing Deputy Corry's speech on a subject which he is so well qualified to speak on—intelligence. He referred over and over again to the Bill of 1929, of which, I think, Deputy Derrig was the chief sponsor. I am not so sure that the second sponsor was not Deputy Corry himself.

Notwithstanding the great advantage of having these two eminent luminaries, the Bill was negatived by the House almost without a division. It was laughed out of the House. It had to be laughed out of the House, because in the whole history of legislation there was never so mad or insane a Bill as that introduced in 1929. The Derrig Bill did two things. First of all, it put on the long finger, and for years and years, the claim of the non-judicial tenants, whom Deputy Geoghegan tells us he is so upset about. It did more. It took away from the Land Commission the power to acquire land compulsorily for the relief of congestion. Are these two points still the policy of the Derrig section? I apprehend from Deputy Geoghegan that the section to which he belongs has thrown that overboard. Where are we when we find two contending sections, one saying: "We want the non-judicial tenant put on the long finger." and the other saying: "We want immediate relief for the non-judicial tenant." Where are we when we find one section saying: "We are of opinion, and we put it into a Bill which we asked the House to pass and the House would not pass, that the powers should be taken from the Land Commission to acquire land compulsorily for the relief of congestion?" Deputy Geoghegan apparently does not agree with that. There you have the two sections. How in the name of heavens is anybody to believe them when you find the Party torn into different sections, each having a different belief, some of them saying they want one thing and some of them saying they want another? There is a very large section in the House and in the country who think that they do not know themselves what they want. Having regard to the lamentable exhibition brought about by the introduction of the Bill of 1929 a large proportion of the people of the country are satisfied that the only view they can take of the policy of the chief Opposition is to come to the conclusion that really they do not know what it is themselves.

Deputy Geoghegan has made the great discovery that this is a landlord's Bill, brought in for the advantage of the landlord. He told us that over and over again. I was curious to know how an eminent lawyer of his position and standing at the Bar was able to discover that, because it appeared to me that to put up the suggestion that this Bill was brought in for the advantage of the landlords or for the disadvantage of the tenant is playing with the intelligence of the House and of the country. So far as the tenant is concerned, it means that in future, instead of a reduction of 5/- in the £, he will receive a reduction of 7/-. We are not children. Is it the policy of the chief Opposition Party, or any section of it, to say that a reduction of 7/- in the £ is a greater hardship on the tenant than a reduction of 5/-? That is the first discovery they have made. Deputy Geoghegan, I think, is one of the persons who discovered the mystery of the Land Commission annuities. After sitting up all night with five or six of his colleagues he discovered that the annuities were still payable to the Land Commission, and that he who receives money on behalf of another has to make up his mind whether he is going to pay it to the person on whose behalf he receives it or collar it. Deputy Geoghegan, I think, was one of those wonderful persons who discovered the mystery for and on behalf of the Opposition Party. He has made a wonderful discovery now. The object of the Bill, if it has any effect, will be immediately to reduce the landlord's payment by something like 7½ per cent. What is the advantage to the landlord? The man who got £75 last year will next year only receive £67 10s. Ought he not to be out cheering for the Government Party? "If we were in power," Deputy Geoghegan said, "we should do no such justice to the landlord; we would give no such advantage to him; we would make him take £75; we would not degrade him by offering him £67 10s." That is the policy of the Geoghegan section of the chief Opposition Party. As I understand the Government policy, it is clear to the meanest intelligence. The only effect this Bill can have, so far as the landlord section is concerned, is to reduce immediately their income, and, so far as the tenants are concerned, it can only have one effect, immediately to reduce their payments. I would suggest that for people who have been looking for an excuse there never has been an instance of a less successful hunt for an excuse to oppose this Bill.

Deputy Geoghegan has told us that at present a non-judicial tenant cannot get a standard rent fixed, if he objects to the 5/- in the pounds to which he is entitled, without going into the court and having to come to Dublin and bring up a valuer. Where did he make that discovery? I am sorry to say that the only excuse he can make is that, owing to the extreme pressure of his professional practice, he had not the advantage of reading the Act of 1929. As we all know, it is all rubbish. Annuities and standard rents are being fixed for non-judicial tenancies, and there is not one case in every 20 or 30 where there is an objection, either on the part of the tenant or the landlord. They take things as they come. There is no such thing as a hearing in the Land Commission Court. That was got rid of in 1929. There will be no such thing. The tenants will get their rents fixed by a valuer, who will go on the land and face to face with them, in the absence of solicitors and King's Counsel and land valuers, will arrive at a fair settlement. That costs nothing. Yet Deputy Geoghegan says "Do away with that system." What system is he going to put in its place unless he is going to restore the Land Court, with all its costs and delays? What alternative has he offered? He has offered none.

There is one matter to which I would like to draw the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary, because it is a matter that affects a large number of tenants in my constituency. Under the Land Act of 1923 sub-tenants who purchased their holdings were excluded Now, a number of these sub-tenants were judicial tenants. The Act of 1923 did two things against these men: one was that it took away from them the right of fixing a fair rent, and (2) it took away their fixity of tenure, be cause it left them at the end of their statutory term at the mercy of the landlord who could, by notice, determine their tenancies. That was to some extent altered and relieved by Section 10 of the Land Act of 1927. In Section 10, sub-section (a), of the Land Act of 1927 there is a proviso taking away from many of these sub-tenants, who are very humble and small people, the protection that section gave to their larger brethren, and leaving them still at the mercy of their landlord and with no measure of relief. Sub-section (a) reads: "This section shall not apply to tenanted lands where, by reason of the extent and character of the lands, the Land Commission are of opinion that the provisions of the Land Act of 1923 should not apply."

I respectfully suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that in any case in which a sub-tenant has fixed a fair rent and where that right has been taken away by the Land Act of 1923 that portion of sub-section (a) of Section 10 of the Act of 1927 should not deprive him of the benefits of land purchase, and that once you find a tenant who has established a right by law to have a fair rent fixed, and has had that fair rent fixed, that tenant should automatically come in under Section 10 and that that sub-clause, which I have quoted, should not apply to him. I have known cases where the Land Commission has said to tenants who were not judicial tenants but who got the benefits of Land Acts from 1881 to 1887, as the result of hearing in open court, "we will leave you in the position in which the Land Act of 1923 by inadvertence placed you, we will leave you still without the right to fix a fair rent and without fixity of tenure and at the mercy of the landlord, who may evict you if he is so inclined."

Deputy Wolfe has spoken for something like 16 minutes, the first six of which he devoted to pouring vitriol on the Fianna Fáil Deputies, which is the usual introduction to any speech of his on any controversial matter, presumably in order to show how absolutely independent he is as a Deputy in this House. I should like to hear from Deputy Wolfe a proof of his statement that the landlord was going to get 7 per cent. less under this Bill than he is getting. Where is it in the Bill? Can Deputy Wolfe prove it? I would like to know if the Parliamentary Secretary is of that opinion, or whether the landlord will not get his £65 plus 10 per cent. Deputy Wolfe's argument was largely based on that statement, of which he advanced no proof except the ipsi dixit of a lawyer, as Deputy Gorey might say. I noticed Deputy Gorey smiled beautifully at the caustic tongue and expressions of Deputy Wolfe, but 10 or 15 minutes before he was equally bitter about lawyers of all clases and descriptions in all Parties in this House. Our Bill, according to Deputy Wolfe, was to take away the power of acquiring land compulsorily from the Land Commission and to put the non-judicial tenants on the long finger. It did nothing of the sort for it referred to neither.

Deputy Gorey said rightly this measure is largely administrative. So was the Bill we introduced into this House. We suggested then that we wanted two things, and two things which we hope will be accomplished under this measure. First we wanted early vesting, and, secondly we wanted the reduction, and we said deliberately and honestly that we did not care what method was adopted to achieve that purpose, and that we would co-operate with anybody in any step they might take to achieve that purpose. And it is a great pity that Deputy Gorey, who said he saw a solution of this matter some years ago, did not throw his searchlight on the matter and get a committee appointed and secure two years ago the benefits for the tenants that we are now trying to procure.

Nothing could be grafted on the Bill you introduced.

We asked for two things, and we did not care what methods were taken to accomplish them. If this is an administrative matter, Deputy Gorey will admit, giving all due credit for his courage and his Bill, that the Parliamentary Secretary, as one in charge of the Land Commission for years, and who has had officials and legal opinion available and at his disposal day and night, is in a much better position and advantage to draft an administrative measure than any Deputy in this House can be. Deputy Sheehy has told us that we are putting the coping stone on all the former Land Acts by this measure. It is my belief that coping in the rough was in our Bill two years ago, and that it is now being licked into shape by the masons at the Land Commission—I mean the stone masons of the Land Commission, or the sculptors, if you like—I might be misinterpreted otherwise. On the last occasion, in the Official Report, cols. 155-158, the Minister for Agriculture spoke very learnedly and in legal jargon so that a lot of us could not understand it. He spoke of the opening of a folio, the insuperable difficulties of getting local registration of title, and said that was both impossible and impracticable, and would entail quadrupling the staff of the Land Commission, entailing such a cost that no Deputy would stand for it. That has been got over. It is extraordinary that that can be done now but could not be done then. We hear very little now about the local registration of title.

I might quote also from columns 160 and 163 as to the obstacles which the Minister for Agriculture foresaw. He was then a false prophet as he was in other matters. Our proposals, he said, meant the scrapping of the whole procedure under the Local Registration of Title Act—impossible and unworkable. I admit he then said he himself wanted speedier vesting of the land. No wonder that he did, seeing that the Act of 1923 was to vest all the land in five years. The Parliamentary Secretary says there are 80,000 cases to be vested, and at 5,000 per year, the outside figure at which the vesting would take place, that is going to work out at 16 years plus 8 years. It was a very poor prophecy to say they would do in 5 years what is now admitted will take 24 years to do if they proceed as they have been doing.

There are a few matters, in this still that I would like to bring to the notice of the Parliamentary Secretary. One is a question of sub-tenants. The Land Commission can now, under this Bill, treat any case as a sub-tenant; there are no rules or regulations exactly to guide them, whereas under the 1923 Act, Section 24, it is set out what class of tenants could be vested and then gives the exceptions. Therefore, there is a code of guidance for them in the exercise of their judicial discretion. I raise this matter owing to two recent cases in Galway which were severely commented upon by the justice there. I am afraid there might possibly be a catch there and that there would be loopholes if the matter was left as it is. The matter will now lie solely in the discretion of the Land Commission. True, we have got a verbal assurance that no tenancy will be regarded as a sub-tenancy unless the land is agricultural or pastoral in character. I think an explicit declaration in the Bill would be especially desirable.

Sub-section (1)?

Does it explicitly state that there?

Have you read it and, if so, how do you suggest that it could be more explicit?

I will suggest it on the Committee Stage, because the Act will be administered on its terms, and I would like them to be very clear. There is the other question of the unpurchased tenants who have been paying 10 per cent. more than they would be paying if they had been immediately vested. We presume the tenants pay the value of the land, and that the 10 per cent. under the 1923 Act was a bonus or an inducement to the landlord offered by the British Government for selling.

Under the 1923 Act that was continued, and they got 10 per cent. It is considered the best policy under all the Purchase Acts to give that 10 per cent. Not only have they got that 10 per cent, but there has been no reduction in the payment that landlords would give in bad seasons, so that there is a sure income which is 10 per cent. better if the vesting takes place, and also a sure income without any fear of a reduction. In many cases I think the land is too dear, but I do not know it could be remedied in this. There are cases in the County Galway, and the Minister for Agriculture might consider one of them in particular. I refer to the Pollock estate, in which the tenants have positively paid much more than the value of the land. I am afraid they will never be able to hold the land. I wonder who it is that has exactly gained by the non-vesting of the land? One could not state definitely that the State has gained. I believe the amount would be about £90,000 a year that the tenants have lost. An injustice has been done to them owing to the non-vesting. Another case is that of the landlord who gave a reduction of 17½ per cent. for prompt payment and to prevent the tenants from going into court. To slow payers, 15 per cent. was given. When the landlord sent in his returns to the Land Commission he said that 15 per cent. was the reduction all round. In that case the landlord got 2½ per cent., plus his 10 per cent. He got very well out of it.

Surely the tenants objected in that case?

The tenants would be bound to object in such a case.

I am afraid they did not object in that case. The tenants do not very often know their rights, and the landlord in that case got away with the 2½ per cent. Another matter mentioned was the town parks. They can now be bought up and a fair rent fixed. I wonder is there any catch in that. The 1929 Bill suggested a reduction of 35 per cent. unless the landlord or tenant objected. The tenants are very often ignorant of their rights, and I wonder if these lands are value for the money. They cost an enhanced price very often, as an exorbitant rent is paid for them. I think it would be advisable that not only should they be inspected before they are taken over but that there should be a valuation of them to see that the lands are proper market value for the money paid and that the State is not mulcted. The same would apply in cases where people had not a right to get a fair rent fixed and where they were outside the scope of the Land Acts. There were cases mentioned in which the 1923 Act increased the rents. I know that two districts in the County Galway come under that head. They said they got a voluntary reduction. Deputy Gorey smiles, but he can call it what he likes. They had a 30 per cent. reduction from the landlord on the old rent. Then they came in under the Act of 1923 and paid more than they had been paying to the landlord. The rent was raised from £70 to £75.

I want to correct that statement. In the Act of 1923, there was provision that where a voluntary reduction was given up to a certain date that that date should not include the period in which there was no law in the country and when there was no protection for the individual. No reduction given at that time was to be included. I forget the particular year. The so-called voluntary reduction, given in that particular period, was not to be taken into account.

The case to which I refer was not in 1921, but it was raised by 5 per cent. I have been told that you can appeal to the Judicial Commissioner, but it takes many years before you can get a decision. In the meantime, these tenants pay, and they get nothing back. The vesting might be retrospective. I notice that the Parliamentary Secretary spoke about "the preceding gale day." What about those who have been paying interest in lieu of rent and paying ten per cent. too much—can this not be made retrospective to 1924 and some justice done to these people? That is a matter I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to take into consideration.

I think that the Government, and particularly the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Lands and Fisheries, who introduced this Bill, ought to be congratulated on the courage and vision they have shown. One of the speakers on the main Opposition Benches stated yesterday evening that the Bill was a monument of the ineptitude of the Government and its Ministers. Another speaker from the same benches to-day told us that the Party welcomed the Bill. That proves that Deputy J.T. Wolfe is justified in the criticisms he passed when he said that there are a number of parties in the Fianna Fáil Party. When any great measure is introduced for the amelioration of the people of this country by the Government, a voice is heard on the other side wailing, and in this case many voices are wailing. We are treated, on every occasion when a measure of this kind is discussed, to speeches all over the country from the principal Deputies of the Banshee Party opposite. The principal caoiner of the Party opposite, Deputy Lemass, is not here this evening to tell us how much he deplores the introduction of this new Land Bill. A great deal has been said about the Bill of 1929, which one of the speakers opposite referred to as the "Derrig Land Bill." I do not want to give the sole credit to Deputy Derrig for that Bill. It was a Bill of one section, and the proposal in the Bill was to push forward the "Appointed Day" with regard to certain tenancies. Many years ago I had a minor and very modest chair in the Department that was carrying out land purchase. In those days it was always a problem with the Department administering those Acts how it could best expedite land purchase. Various administrative measures were resorted to in order to try and expedite the vesting of land in the tenants. One of the devices was to publish at short intervals a "Delay List," when the solicitors having carriage of sale had to come before the Court of the Land Commission and explain what was the cause of the delay. That shows that the idea for which members opposite are seeking to give credit to Deputy Derrig is a little bit older possibly than the Deputy himself. The idea is nearly as old as the Land Acts themselves. That Bill introduced in 1929 put down a pious aspiration that the "Appointed Day" should be hurried forward. The sponsor of that Bill made no attempt to defend it in the House. Now, when the Government has had the courage and vision to devise a method of hurrying forward the "Appointed Day," we have all this criticism poured on this Bill.

Deputy Geoghegan certainly made a remarkable discovery when he found that this Bill was introduced in the interests of the landlords. According to him, it is a Bill which is a monument to the ineptitude of the Government. On the other hand, one of his colleagues, Deputy Derrig, has pointed out that the tenants in recent years have been paying large sums of money from which they are not getting the advantage of contributing to the price of their land purchase. Deputy Derrig mentioned £800,000 or £900,000 a year as the sum the tenants are losing. If his figures are right, surely the tenants who have not been able to get the advantage out of this that they should have got, ought now to be very well pleased. So one would imagine.

One cannot help suspecting that the chagrin of the Party opposite at the introduction of this measure is based upon their calculation of its effect on their electoral prospects. They have lost one of their pet grievances. The banshee has one grievance less to wail about. Deputy Corry was greatly concerned about tenants in his own neighbourhood. He says that there are certain estates in his area where the landlords gave voluntary reductions in 1920 and 1921. Perhaps we had better not inquire too closely into the inducements that were offered the landlords to give these voluntary reductions. There certainly was a remarkable liberality on the part of the landlords in Deputy Corry's immediate neighbourhood, because they gave a reduction of 35 per cent. The consciences of the people who were responsible for the 1923 Act were satisfied that a 25 per cent. reduction was a generous reduction.

I really fail to follow some of the arguments put forward by Deputies on the opposite benches. Criticising the speech of Deputy Wolfe, Deputy Fahy said he could not understand how the Deputy could suggest that the landlords would lose under this measure. Deputy Geoghegan told us that this Bill was introduced at the behest of the landlords and the capitalists of this country. These phrases do not deceive anybody, not even the people of Westmeath and Longford to whom they are addressed. How do the landlords get an advantage out of a Bill which reduces their income? Deputy Fahy queries a statement made by Deputy Wolfe to the effect that this Bill will result in a reduction of the landlords' income. Perhaps I may take an example of what, I have no doubt, Deputy Wolfe means. If you take an estate where the rental is £100 a year, allowing for the 25 per cent. reduction already made, the landlord is receiving £75. If he succeeds in selling to his tenants at fifteen years' purchase he will get land bonds for £1,500, producing 4½ per cent. That will give him, instead of an income of £75 a year, an income of £67 10s. I think the House has reason to complain that the Deputy who made the discovery that this is a landlords' Bill did not in any way explain how he arrived at that conclusion.

[An Ceann Comhairle resumed the Chair.]

Of course that is a phrase that can be quoted at an election meeting. The Deputy, or his colleagues, can go to the country and read this extract from the Dáil Debates and it will be a very valuable contribution to the knowledge of the people; but there will be no explanation given there as to how this great discovery was made that the landlords are going to rejoice and that they had some desire for the introduction of this Bill because it will result, in the immediate future, in the reduction of their incomes instead of allowing them to enjoy their original incomes for a number of years to come.

Deputy Hogan and Deputy Fahy spoke about giving compensation to the people who have not yet got their lands vested. Do the Deputies who make that proposal suggest where the money is to be found? Should the money be taken from the tenants who are in the happier position of having already got their lands vested? I would like to know what those tenants would say if they were asked to contribute to a fund of that kind. We would all like to see these things done if the money were available, but if you are going to make such a contribution for the tenants still unvested why not go back and compensate the people who were unfortunate enough not to have bought their lands until the 1903 Act came into force instead of having bought out under the 1885 Act? There would be no end to that kind of benevolence if we had the money to do it.

One of the grievances pointed out by Deputy Geoghegan is that under this Bill the tenant will not have sufficient facilities for putting his land in pawn. When the early Land Purchase Acts were passed the people who desired to see landlordism abolished had their fears that unless precautions were taken to make it difficult for the purchasing tenant to mortgage his land you would have, after two or three generations, a new race of landlords in place of the old ones. I certainly would be no party to giving any encouragement to any proposal from any part of the House that a tenant purchaser should be put in a position to pawn his own land with as much ease as he might pawn his watch. I do not think there is anything further that I desire to say on this Bill. I must, however, congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary on having introduced it, its main intention being to enable 100,000 or so tenants to purchase their holdings and to enable those holdings to be vested in them within a year from the present date.

I welcome the introduction of this Bill for the reason that it will confer great benefit on many of the farmers who, at the moment, are not vested. Just as in the successful working of an industry it is important that the raw material should be at as cheap a price as possible, so also is it absolutely essential that land, being the raw material for the farming industry, should be as cheap as possible. This Bill will speed up the vesting of land, and, incidentally, it will enable those farmers who purchased under the 1923 Act to obtain further reductions of from 5 to 7½ per cent. My only criticism of this Bill is that it was not possible to introduce it some four or five years ago. If it were possible to introduce it in 1931 it was equally possible to have it introduced in 1924.

I sympathise with the chief Opposition Party, because of the fact that, when they introduced their Bill in 1929 they received very little consideration from the Government Benches. I do not think that is right. I believe all Parties should have an interest in legislation that has for its object the conferring of benefits on the farming community. If, instead of pouring ridicule upon that Land Bill, the Government took the Opposition Party into their confidence, I am confident that an agreed Bill could have been produced in 1929 similar to what has been introduced just now. Deputy Rice asked where the money would come from which would reimburse the tenants for overpayments made during the last six years. My answer to that is that this Bill could have been introduced in 1924 just as well as in 1931, and those people would not have had to pay the extra sums that they did pay in the interval.

As everybody knows, the people are paying interest in lieu of rent at the rate of 75 per cent., but the moment the holdings are vested in them they get a reduction of from 5 to 7½ per cent. These are difficult and strenuous times for the farming community, and there should be no delay with any legislation that will confer benefits upon the farmer. It would be more to the point to give the farmer all the reductions possible rather than be rushing in here and imposing a tariff like the butter tariff of 4d. to suit Deputies like Deputy Gorey and the rest of those who have a financial interest in the creameries in the South of Ireland.

That is very far away from the vesting of land.

A question has been raised with regard to the production of moneys and I am giving my reasons as to why the Bill could have been introduced five or six years ago. I am prepared to vote for the Bill because I believe it is a step in the right direction, although that step has been long delayed. I think if there were a little more give and take in this House and less tendency on the part of Deputies to have a whack at one another or to pass ignorant remarks about the speeches delivered on the opposite side, we might make much more progress with matters affecting the welfare of the people.

We are not here to criticise one another unduly. Rather are we here to help, and by mutual co-operation I have no doubt that Bills introduced into this House by the Government or by the Opposition could have been got through in much less time than they have been got through in the last five or six years. As we know, many farmers are suffering from many shortcomings, such as bad prices and the bad harvest of last year, and they are looking forward to a reduction of their rents. I think that this Bill is a step in the right direction, but it could have been introduced in 1924 as easily as it has now been introduced.

Deputy Rice in his speech told us that the principle in Deputy Derrig's Bill which is embodied in this Bill was an old aspiration of the Land Commission. He told us that he knew that, but it is rather extraordinary that he did not put his profound knowledge at the disposal of his Party since he turned over to the particular Party with which he is now associated. I suppose he was a man of many voices and his voice for the discovery of the old aspiration only came to him when he joined Cumann na nGaedheal. Deputy Rice is very much concerned about the electoral prospects which this Bill will have for us. When the Bill of 1923 was introduced the President and his Ministers solemnly declared, and the Minister for Agriculture waxed eloquent about it, that every farm in Ireland would be vested at the outside within five years. We find, however, eight years after the passing of the 1923 Act, that one-fifth of the farms coming under its operations are not vested. If the President's electoral promises are based on this Bill, in view of the coming general election, that all the farms coming under the new Bill will be vested within twelve months, then the electoral prospects of Cumann na nGaedheal are very poor. The electorate will want to see results within twelve months before they will be prepared to believe the yarn that over 80,000 holdings will be vested before next January, as we are told they will.

The matter of the returns of the landlord has been dealt with by Deputy Fahy, who also dealt with the voluntary reductions in regard to which Deputy Gorey butted in and indicated that the majority of these occurred in 1920 and 1921. In my particular constituency we have at least three or four large estates where the landlord gave a rent which was not charged over thirty years back. Thirty years before he made his returns there was a voluntary reduction, but, notwithstanding that, the landlord gave the old rent. As Deputy Fahy indicated, the tenants do not know their rights in these matters. Provisional and final lists were published, but they did not know their rights, and, when it was too late, came to me and other Deputies to see what they should do. Provision should be made so that Land Commission officials would indicate to tenants their rights in these matters. Provision should also be made in the Bill for the opening up of these cases where land has been, or is about to be, vested.

Few tenants are aware that town parks come under the 1923 Act. There is a very large amount of land coming under the heading of town parks in the vicinity of villages with a population of 200, 300, or 400 people, where half the population are farmers and the other half shopkeepers, whose principal support is the land which they have outside the town, and, if they had not got it, they could not exist on the business done in their shops. They are not aware that their holdings come under the 1923 Act. It should be clearly indicated in this Bill that these holdings will compulsorily come under it. Deputy Geoghegan has dealt with the question of building sites. I know cases where tenants endeavoured to come under the terms of the 1923 Act.

From Youghal, for instance.

Yes, in town parks. The landlords' claims to these lands as building sites have been successfully upheld, and everybody knows that there is no possibility in our day of ever seeing buildings on these sites. In all these towns, villages and hamlets the population is declining. Deputy Jasper Wolfe, with all his praise about the unanimity which the other benches displayed regarding this Bill, was not satisfied with the position of sub-tenants. We re-echo that sentiment. I notice that in Westmeath certain holdings which they refused to retain were put down as uneconomic and were returned to the landlords. If such holdings were in North Longford they would become economic. If they were in the West they would certainly be economic.

Smaller holdings and holdings of lesser valuation have been vested under the 1903 Act and previous Acts. I do not think it is fair that these holdings, which are out in the rural parts, should not be vested. A Land Commission official stated to me: "If they are vested they will have a claim on some estate that may be divided at some future time." That is a poor argument, and the same argument could be put up in regard to the uneconomic holdings vested in the 1903 Act and previous Acts. Deputies questioned the statement of Deputy Geoghegan to the effect that this is a landlords' Bill. It is a landlords' Bill, because they know that under it they are getting the greatest security in this State, namely, land bonds, and are getting it when they have the best chance of a good price, particularly for untenanted land. They realise that it is far better for them to take their chance now rather than wait until another Government comes in. While I am on this question of price I may say, notwithstanding the figures supplied here by the Parliamentary Secretary during the debate on the Land Commission Vote about the price paid for land before the 1923 Act and the price paid since for untenanted land, and basing that price on the annuity, that in practice we find that as much as 75 per cent. more is being paid for land than was paid under the previous Acts. The proof of that is this, namely, in the case of estates divided under the 1923 Act the annuity is from 10 to 75 per cent. greater than in the case of similar lands near at hand divided after that Act. No land at present can bear an overhead charge of from 40/- to 50/-per acre between annuities and rates. That is what some lands in the Midlands are expected to bear. Extra provision should be made in the Bill to see that the land is paid for at an economic price. These are the various points in the Bill which strike me as being necessary to have amended, so that some good shall come to the various landholders in the country who, through bad legislation, heretofore got no benefits.

I do not wish to follow the course pursued by some Deputies in discussing this measure. One thing I do not like is the suggestion that this is a landlords' Bill. After all, some of our landlords were very good Irishmen, and some of them who have gone are a big loss and are very much missed in their respective districts. Personally I would not be in favour of hunting them out, as some Deputies on the other side suggested. I went through the Bill twice, and instead of its being a landlords' Bill I think it is a lawyers' Bill, because it will mean a considerable amount of litigation, in my opinion, to have it carried through. I, of course, join in the chorus of support and welcome which greeted the Bill from most parts of the House. I do not see that any reasonable excuse can be given now for the delay in vesting small holdings. If I might be allowed to make a comparison I would compare this work with the work done by the Compensation Commission for two or three years. They paid out, I think, about £13,000,000 in two years for destruction caused during the trouble. I do not think there were thirty officials altogether in the Compensation Department, yet they paid out a sum of £13,000,000 in two years. They had no records to go back upon because they were practically all destroyed; still they were able to do their work as quickly as I have stated. I cannot quite understand why the vesting of land has been so slow or why it is necessary to bring in this Bill now. I am afraid that a great delay is caused by the fact that so many estates are referred to the Judicial Commissioner.

The one great grievance which I have in regard to the Bill is that practically in every section and sub-section the Judicial Commissioner is all-powerful. I do not at all see the necessity of referring these sections to the Judicial Commissioner. As reconstituted, the three Commissioners should be able to deal with these sections and the difficulties connected with them as they arise. They should be able to deal with them just as well as the Revenue Commissioners and the Commissioners of the Board of Works deal with cases that come before them. I think if the powers of the Judicial Commissioners were eliminated from the Bill these proceedings would go through much more quickly, especially in view of the fact that the Judicial Commissioner does not sit so often. We have one Judicial Commissioner whose salary, I understand, is little in comparison with the amount of money to which he would be entitled as a pensioner. He would be entitled to a pension nearly as great as the salary he gets. A man is entitled to be paid according to the work done, but the Judicial Commissioner does not sit very often. On the other hand, I do not wish to arouse the suspicion of people, but some people have spoken to me of the fact that the Judicial Commissioner is a man for commercial purposes altogether, which is wrong.

I think the Judicial Commissioner should be appointed for judicial work, and judicial work only. It seems to be wrong to have a man sitting in a judicial position dealing in commercial transactions. This country possesses as good and as clean a judicial system as any country in the world. I wish to have it kept so, and I do not wish the idea to get into people's heads that anything shady would be done. For that reason, if we have a Judicial Commissioner, his income ought to be derived from his position and not from commercial pursuits, just as we would not have on our Censorship Board a member having a share in a cinema. I may perhaps be going too far in this matter, but I do not wish to criticise generally the decisions come to. Something has been said about the annuity being greater than the rent. There is no doubt that that is so in some cases. I can give one such case where the annuity is greater than the rent formerly paid. The rent was fixed by the Court, not by any bullying or intimidation, but the agent, when giving a receipt, gave a receipt for the full amount, notwithstanding the fact that he got only the amount of rent fixed by the Land Judge. When it came before the Commissioner, as I understand, the Commissioner gave the minimum rent. He gave the reduced rent. They wanted to fix the purchase money on the reduced rent, but the landlord appealed to the Judicial Commissioner, and the Commissioner gave a decision according to the receipt given. That was against the spirit of the 1923 Land Act.

The tenant was entitled to a reduction of 25 per cent., and afterwards of 10 per cent., as the case might be. It was certainly against the spirit of the Act to go back. The word of the agent and the receipt were taken as far as that was concerned. In the fixing of titles, I think there should be some limit as to when titles should be fixed. That would be in the interests of the landlord as well as the tenants. The landlords have their rights, and they are entitled to them, but there should be some limit as to when the 10 per cent. should be paid over and to see that the title was all right. Under the 1923 Act, anybody who claimed title has had plenty of time to go and establish the claim. I do not think there is anything more I want to say except to emphasise the fact that if we are to have a Judicial Commissioner—personally I would prefer that we would not —his duties ought to be confined to the special purpose for which his salary is voted, and he ought not to be mixed up with commercial matters at all.

Seán Ua Gúilidhe

Ós rud é go mbeidh níos lugha le n-íoc ag na tionántaí feasta ná mar bhí go dti so, cuirim fáilte roimh an Bhille seo. Isé an rud adéarfaidh muinntear na Gaeltachta nuair a fheicfid an Bille seo na: "Ma's maith, is mithid." Agus isí an cheist a chuirfid ná: "Ma's féidir é seo do dhéanamh anois cé'n fá nach dtiocfadh leis an Rialtas é dhéanamh cúig bliana ó shoin?"

I welcome this Bill so far as it will help to speed up what is desired by people all over the country, namely, relieving the tenant farmers from paying the ten per cent. they have been subjected to since the passing of the 1923 Act. That has been a great grievance with them. I have not very many criticisms to offer on the Bill. It has been said time and again that the relief given to tenants has been very great, while landlords have not benefited to any great extent from sales. I do not agree with that. Deputy Fahy referred to a particular case in the course of his speech. I have in mind the case of an estate where something similar occurred. The majority of the tenants are non-judicial. The bribe was held out to them by the landlord years ago that if they did not take advantage of the Land Courts they were to be allowed 15 per cent. off their rents, and 17½ per cent. for prompt payment. The majority got 17½ per cent., even though they were not very prompt in their payments. As an additional incentive, they were supplied with timber, lime, sand, and building materials at what was known as tenant's price—a price far below that which they would have to pay for these goods elsewhere. I understand that when the schedule was prepared by the landlord and forwarded to the Land Commission the rent payable was returned at 15 per cent. No reference whatever was made to the 2½ per cent. allowance that the tenants always had. Building materials now cost the tenants a considerable sum. As an instance of the change that has taken place, I may mention that while formerly sixpence was charged for a load of sand, the charge now is 5/-. In that particular case, the landlord has not come out second best. It is advisable that public notice, published as widely as possible, should be given to non-judicial tenants in the remote rural areas. Many of these people are not aware of the fact that they can appeal to have their rents adjusted. Lately, some of them came to me and said they were not satisfied with the rents they had to pay. They were not aware that they could appeal. I warned them to hurry up, and told them that if they did not lodge an appeal before the land was vested they would then be too late. The widest notice possible should be given before the passing of the Act.

Then there is the question of turbary rights. I have in mind a case where very considerable trouble has resulted in the case of the trusteeship of turbary rights. There farmers rather foolishly consented to act as trustees. Two died and the remaining trustee was lately presented with a very stiff bill for rates which had accrued in respect of the mountain. He went to his fellow tenants and asked them to pay their share of the rates, but they refused. The result was that he had to go to law, following which things have been rather unpleasant for him. As I understand it, the same procedure will be followed in this Bill. Personally, I do not think it an advisable procedure. As regards turbary rights, I think that some other method than that which I have referred to should be followed. Probably something could be done in the way of getting the Land Commission to act as trustee for the tenants. If that is not done then I am afraid you will have the same state of affairs arising as occurred in the case to which I have referred.

There is the question of river embankments. Care should be taken to see that sufficient funds are retained to maintain these embankments in proper condition. I know a case in which fairly heavy expenditure has had to be incurred in connection with a river embankment. Every year since the passing of the Land Act the landlord has been giving less and less attention to the embankments with the result that they are seriously deteriorating. It is impossible for the tenants to maintain them. If they are allowed to deteriorate much further, the lands adjoining the river will become absolutely useless.

Deputy Geoghegan in his speech last night asked the Government why a Bill such as this was not introduced eight years ago. I think that we have a right to ask the Opposition why they did not do ten years ago what they did three and a half years ago. Instead of doing that we had those Deputies going around the country telling the people not to pay their land annuities. We had the old saying from the Leader of the Opposition: "Ireland is yours for the taking." We had the backbenchers at the same time going around the country telling the people that "the land of this country is yours for the taking."

I wonder would I be allowed to ask the Deputy a question?

The position of the Ceann Comhairle is that while he may allow Deputies to ask questions he is not going to allow any answer.

The question I want to ask is: would Deputy Brodrick name any of his colleagues in the County Galway who have advised tenants not to pay their land annuities?

Is it not lucky that I have ruled that there can be no answers?

Mr. Brodrick

The number of Galway Deputies is too great.

A wise man.

Mr. Brodrick

That was the case when people were being advised to take over the land. In the west of Ireland there was a strong agitation for the distribution of land. The result, I believe, was that the time of the Land Commissioners was taken up acquiring and distributing land, particularly in the west. I think it is rather late in the day for Deputy Geoghegan to say that this Bill should have been introduced eight years go, or to suggest to the electors of Westmeath that it is a landlords' Bill. I am particularly interested in Section 40, which deals with the resumption of holdings. I know some places in the west where an agitation has been going on in that respect for a number of years. It went on in connection with the O'Connor estate, in North Galway, for twenty-five years. The C.D.B. brought the case to the court so that portion of the land could be acquired and distributed. I see by this section that all or part of a holding can be resumed. I know one case where part of the holding comprises 400 acres, and two miles from the home holding there is another one comprising 200 acres. The tenants have been agitating for twenty-five years to have these places divided, as there was no other land for distribution in the district. I am glad to see such a clause in the Bill, as it will be the means of having this land distributed amongst small holders.

I also wish to refer to the portion of Deputy Geoghegan's speech in which he stated that the Land Commission were really creating new landlords in Westmeath, Meath and Kildare. Probably the Deputy refers to the migrants from the west of Ireland. I can tell Deputy Geoghegan that the migrants from the west are not landlords but hard-working people, some of whom have surrendered 150 or 200 acres of land, which they tilled and worked, so that it could be divided amongst the uneconomic holders. That is the class of men that are going from the west, and I think it is most unfair for any Deputy to state that the Land Commission by bringing these men away from their own holdings are creating new landlords.

I welcome this instalment of the settlement of the land question in Ireland, and I am quite certain that tenants who have obtained land recently will also welcome it. Of course, I have a fair idea what tenants who obtained land five years ago, and who are not yet vested, will say. Evidently, from the figures supplied by the Parliamentary Secretary, the machinery for vesting purposes must be completely worn out, if any efficient machinery ever existed. I hope that the machinery which is being set up now will work somewhat more rapidly. I am not satisfied that the whole position is going to be cleared up in a few years. There are still a number of Land Acts necessary to complete this work. However, the effort is a really good one, although it could have taken place, I am quite sure, some years ago. Even though the machinery that existed was very cumbersome and slow, I am afraid, unfortunately, that it controlled a good deal of the actions of the Land Commission. One thing that always struck me about the Land Acts since the 1923 Act was passed was how little tenants understood what was to take place, and how little pains the Land Commissioners took to explain the position to them. Some tenants understood if they refused to take a certain farm they were turned down for all time. Tenants did not understand that they had any legal right or claim to say that the rents were too high and that they would not take the land. Most of them did not understand that there was any remedy for that state of affairs. The introduction of such a Bill as this will give a little extra publicity, and I am quite confident they will become wiser.

Tenants who have bought land within the last five years, and who are not yet vested, will be a good deal wiser than they were in the past. I do not suppose that any arrangement could be arrived at now that would give these men any compensation. The ten per cent. that there was so much talk about, which they have lost, has been saved, I suppose, by the taxpayer not having to pay it. I do not know what the position of the landlord is. This much I do know: I believe that compulsory purchase is long enough in action for the landlords to have obtained sufficient advice and to have their titles and other things that are necessary, in proper order. If they have not things in order they can easily be compelled to wait for their money.

I do not agree with the ten per cent. being held back to cover any deficiencies that may occur. I believe the onus ought to be on the landlords. They have had sufficient time to get advice, and now that they are actual sellers it is their business to have the titles in order. Until they have them in order, like other people, they can do without their money. It may be said that the landlords are not anxious to sell. I do not think that is the case. They are obtaining a real good price for the land, and considering the amount that is up for letting on the eleven months' system in each county, there seems to be an abundance of land offering. They are getting a price on a basis which exists for thirty years. I take it that the fair rents arrived at are calculated on the basis of the present valuations.

What is the position of the tenant, and what are his liabilities now in comparison with thirty years ago? I believe that that question can only be solved by another Bill. The position is becoming so serious that I am quite confident the Parliamentary Secretary is meditating another Bill on the subject. Economic conditions, market prices, and overhead charges have increased very much indeed, so much so that local rates are sometimes almost equal to the rents that have to be paid, so it is quite evident that the landlord was not at all dissatisfied, although he might pretend to be by getting out of the land at a very satisfactory price. I wonder how far most of this delay was caused by what Deputy Nolan referred to, that is, the machinery known as the Judicial Commissioner?

On a point of order, can we discuss the Judicial Commissioner, who is a High Court Judge?

We cannot discuss the Judicial Commissioner, but we can discuss the sections which refer this matter to the Judicial Commissioner if that requires to be done. I do not know what the Deputy wants to say. I must hear him up to a point first.

I wanted to discuss and indicate that that was another Department that may have been causing delay. For instance, I am quite sure that this House is perfectly prepared to add another judge if the present judge is not in a position to deal with the amount of cases he has to deal with, because there is one thing I am convinced of, and it is this, and I think most people all over the country are convinced of it, that it is absolutely necessary to settle the land question as soon as possible. Now, this is an effort, no doubt, to settle it, or settle it partially. It will not complete it, because I feel this much, that as long as the land question exists you are going to have people's minds occupied with that and that only. The expenses of administration are enormous. I believe the quicker we can get finished with the land question in Ireland, the quicker we will be able to develop other industries, and the quicker the land will be made capable of paying the burden it undoubtedly has to meet to-day.

I feel somewhat disappointed that the Parliamentary Secretary did not consider it necessary to introduce something in his Bill which would cover landless men. The United States of America is closed to-day. The Land Commission have told me that those men could buy land, but of course that is another question. Few of those people would have sufficient money to purchase land, but would have sufficient to work land and pay the annuity. I am rather glad, though, that he thought of bringing in the question of waterways. I know of several cases where men had to erect pumps which are not good enough to give sufficient water, and they are put to the greatest difficulty. I hope he has been able to solve the question by this Bill.

There is one thing I am not quite clear about though, that he will be able to attain the object, and that is roads. A number of roads, as he knows perfectly well, have been made through different properties. Most of those roads have now became impassable. County councils have refused to take them over. They cost the tenants a good deal of money when they were first erected, because I take it that in their annuities they have to pay for those roads. The position with those tenants is very unfortunate. They have to pay the usual rates, and they are not able to obtain material to mend those roads. If they even had the material in most cases I know they would put those roads in order themselves. I hope that the clauses in the Bill cover that sort of thing, because it seems to be rather a hardship that they should pay the usual rates and not even have a road on which it is possible to communicate either with markets, churches or schools.

The next question that I would like to deal with is the one of fee-farm grants, and there seems to be quite a number of such estates. The rents are very low in some of those estates. In a good many of those estates the rents are very high and, of course, tenants on those estates were excluded from the Fair Rents Court; in some cases where they have entered the Fair Rents Court, they could have purchased under certain Acts by paying bonuses to agents and different other things which they did not do. Most of them could not afford to do it. I hope that in no cases the rents that some of them are paying now generally to landlords who live in other countries will be made a basis for the annuity. I take it those will be limited to the £3,000 valuation, and I also take it that the standard purchase annuity under the 1929 Act will obtain then. There are some of them, of course, who have such low rents to pay that it suits them better to remain as they are than to purchase, because in those cases I take it that where taxes are due the landlord pays them at the present time. If they have the land they will be liable for the taxes, so their position would not be anything better in those cases. Of course they would be very few.

I hope that the Bill will work more smoothly than other Bills and that this attempt to vest the tenants will succeed as far as possible and that tenants who are to-day so hard-pressed because they are hard-pressed will benefit by this 10 per cent. It seems a pity that some method could not be arrived at to make some adjustment or make some recompense to those men who have been in possession and not vested for the last five or six years. I hope that in the near future the Parliamentary Secretary will consider the question of annuities and make some endeavour to reduce them to an equitable amount more or less in unison with the market prices for produce that obtain at present. That, of course, is a duty he owes to the ratepayers of each county. I fear if that step is not taken that land purchase will not be quite as popular with the people as it has been hitherto. It is an unfortunate thing about the Irish people that land is the only thing that is left to them, and whether it is worth the money or not they have no alternative but to close their eyes and take a dive. I would like that that position would be removed and if possible that they would have more bargaining power, something more to say in the regulating of a price that they have got to bear for a great number of years. I hope that the Bill will be successful and that it will bring the relief that everybody desires in the least possible time.

Under this Land Bill we see no provisions made for the immediate division of ranches which are taken over by the Land Commission. Under the 1923 Act you had the progress and success of land division impeded, first, by the poor quality of the land acquired; secondly, the high prices paid resulting in excessive annuities, and thirdly, the absence of facilities for credit at reasonable rates of interest. The non-resident ranches, in most cases the fruits of clearances during the past century, consist mainly of the most fertile lands. They do little in the way of production, revenue, trade or employment, and acre for acre they cost more to the general taxpayer for the relief of rates. It seems to have been an official tradition to avoid these, the very land worth working, and concentrate on the division of the less fertile and the less desirable estates which the owners are anxious to get rid of. Not only has more land been divided in the poorer counties, but a greater proportion has been selected for division in the poorer parts of all counties. The fantastic definition of a congested district was deliberately devised to limit distribution to lands the owners had no desire to hold. In the sense that the majority of the holdings, taking either area or valuation, are uneconomic, every county is congested. The specious reasons that have kept the Irish Land Commission officials off the good lands would create ridicule in any country but our own. The following table, showing the percentage of land divided in certain counties, gives the general trend:— Galway, 22½; Mayo, 18½; Sligo, 9; Meath, Westmeath and Kildare, 5; Tipperary, 3½; Limerick 2¾. The area divided in Galway and Mayo alone would account for more than half the land distributed in the whole Free State, and these counties include almost one-third of the total acquired under our own regime, so that the tradition still goes on. In Limerick and Tipperary the percentage acquired under the 1903-27 Acts but slightly exceeds half the area of Tipperary and Limerick, and generally the best is in the hands of eight per cent. of the people, though, owing to the high rates of interest now available, the price of purchase under the 1925 Act in the case of tenanted land is about two-thirds of what it was under the 1903 and 1909 Acts. The average price paid for untenanted land seems actually to have risen, though the price now yields a considerably higher rate. Worse still, the aid given in such cases up to a maximum of 10 per cent. appears to have been wiped out by Section 25 (2) of the 1923 Act for ordinary tenancies. There is a 10 per cent. bonus under the 1923 Act. Is such bonus not more necessary where farmers are handicapped with higher annuities? The tenants have to deal with new buildings or extended ones. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to speed up the division of those ranches that have been taken over in the past two or three years. What provision has been made for the speeding up of those ranches?


[An Leas-Cheann Comhairle took the Chair.]

The land question in this country, like Tennyson's "Brook," will, I think, go on for ever. I do not believe we will ever have it solved if the vesting of holdings go on at the same rate in the future as in the past. Anything that will help in vesting the land in the people will certainly have my whole-hearted support. I certainly agree with Deputy O'Reilly in welcoming Section 37, which gives power to the Land Commission to confer water rights. It will be of great benefit to a number of people. Section 38 gives power to the Land Commission as to turbary and rights of way. That also will be of benefit to a number of people. As regards the rights of way, I think it could be extended, and something could be done for people who have at the present time proper rights of way to their holdings. I brought some cases before the Land Commission some time ago where people cannot get a threshing set or up-to-date machinery into their holdings. If the Parliamentary Secretary would give me a promise that he will see that the thing will be put right, I certainly would be glad to hear of it. There is one thing that I find it very difficult to understand. It is the case of farmers living close to each other and some of them are paying twice as much rent as others. Probably the reason of that is that in the old days the landlords or whoever fixed the rents fixed them in accordance with the rate that was then paid for wheat—40s. a barrel. We know that there is no such rate for that commodity now. I think that something ought to be done to remove the inequality of the rents. I welcome the Bill.

Some slight references were made to forces that were moving the Executive Council and the Parliamentary Secretary in particular in bringing in this Bill. I may say that my sympathies are altogether with the Bill and with the principle of the Bill. I am a tenant farmer, and the son of a tenant farmer. I purchased out my farm under the 1903 Act. I do not think at this hour of the day that there is any person in this Free State who wishes to continue dual ownership in land.

It is a definite hardship to find estates here and there unpurchased, while scattered through these there are holdings which have been purchased and vested. It is irritating and the cause of discontent. This Bill which the Parliamentary Secretary has submitted to the House, I think, is a very good attempt to end dual ownership and make the tenant occupier the owner of the land. The Bill, as has been pointed out, is very comprehensive. It is a bold attempt to grapple with a very intricate situation. Those of us who are more or less concerned with the land, and who are now and again approaching the Land Commission to speed up certain things in the way of division of land, will welcome this Bill. Technicalities will be removed, and the Land Commission will be able to do its work more expeditiously. During my term as a Deputy in this House I have been often in the Land Commission seeking to get redress for people who are suffering from grievances. The sale of estates has been held up because of the existence of sub-tenants. This Bill, I think, will case the path in that respect, and I think its principle will receive whole-hearted support in this House.

Much mention has been made about the division of land for the relief of congestion. We have had some experience of that, and I would welcome a more systematic method of dealing with such land. I think it is bad for the country and for the farming industry if one attracts a person into the country to buy a substantial farm of land and that person is not sure if he wishes to part with his land whether an agitation will be got up which will prevent him selling it. I have several cases in mind where deliberate attempts have been made to prevent the free sale of land for which the owner paid the full price, whilst in neighbouring townlands there is land that the owners would be only too glad to hand over for the relief of congestion. In the very nature of things the Land Commission cannot give a competitive price for land, because, I understand, they have to get for the land the price they give for it. Somebody has said that you cannot take rented land. Rented land can be dealt with, but, of course, with rented land or land that is purchased the annuity must be redeemed and the price to the occupier of the land is very small. If there were some system by which there would be some indication of the land required for the relief of congestion in the different counties, I think it would smooth out things greatly and help forward in the matter of land settlement. One Deputy spoke this evening about persons who had large farms in the midst of small holders and who were unwilling to move. Why should not these people be unwilling to move? Why should anyone who has purchased or inherited land be in a hurry to move unless it was to his advantage, unless he was getting a fair price, a price higher than the present system of the Land Commission would give him, or was getting an equally good or better holding in some other locality? We are all attached to the locality in which we were born and brought up, and it is against nature to say to a person who owns a farm: "You must move to another locality." It should be beyond the Land Commission's power to move such a person. There is, of course, the voluntary movement which is going on day by day.

As I said before, the question of sub-tenants and joint-tenants is dealt with in this Bill, and that will be a very useful part of the Bill. There is the question which Deputy Hogan referred to about adding arrears to the purchase money. I take it that he meant that it was rather a hardship that more arrears could not be added. In my opinion that is all right up to a point, but after that it gets very dangerous, because if you add too much arrears to the purchase money it causes the annuity to be very high. Indeed I would sound a note of warning to the Parliamentary Secretary in that matter. In the course of my business I come across holdings the annuity on which is much higher per acre than that of neighbouring farms. When you inquire into that you find that the reason is that these people perhaps were behind in the rent, and when the purchase was being carried out they added a number of years' rent to the purchase money, so that the present annuity is much too high. Under the 1903 Act the Land Commission inspectors were supposed to see, and in cases I know of did see, that the land was worth the money advanced. Having regard to the shifting values of land, and because since the boom in 1920 land has decreased in value, the inspectors should be careful to see that the money advanced on the land does not leave too high an annuity on it. Once the annuity is fixed there is no machinery that I know of to alter it.

Some Deputy complained that there was nothing in this Bill to meet the case of the landless men. In our county that problem is not very acute, and I do not know whether the Land Commission look upon it as very important. I know that some years ago, when I had occasion to go to the Midlands, I saw land that had been given to landless men unoccupied. The men who got the land said they were in a better position when they were getting 30/-a week, with a free house and other privileges. It is very difficult to change men from one occupation to another one if they have not the ability to follow it. In that way I do not think this is such a calamity as the Deputy made out. I welcome this Bill and support it wholeheartedly. There may be provisions in it which may be strengthened in Committee, but, on the whole, it is a bold venture, and it is a sound thing to put all the farmers of the country on the one basis so far as land purchase annuities are concerned.

While we welcome this rather belated measure we consider it most incomplete. Several other clauses should have been added to it. For instance, so far, the Land Commission has failed to deal with the question of derelict farms, of which there is a large number all over the country, and the taxpayers are paying for them while the land is idle. The Land Commission should be able to arrive at some plan for dealing with them. I understand the Land Commission have not funds at their disposal at present for that purpose. I believe they must collect the rents due before the farms can be disposed of. I should like to know if that is the position. I have one case in mind where 12 years' rent is due, and there has not been a beast on the land all that time. The Land Commission cannot dispose of the farm and have not any funds whereby they could give it to any one else by paying the rent due. That is a matter that should be dealt with. What happened in some of these cases was that the money advanced on the farm was too high. I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to say if it is possible for the Land Commission to reduce the annuity fixed under any previous Land Act for any parcel of land. As far as I can see, no effort has been made to change it. There are numerous instances in which too much money was advanced.

Under what Act?

The 1903 or 1909 or any previous Act. I should like to know whether it is possible to change the annuity payable for parcels of land bought under these Acts, because it is very necessary in connection with these derelict farms. Under Section 2 of this Bill stamp duty need be paid on any conveyance or deed of charge or memorial in future. I suppose that is saving something to the landlord who had to pay the stamp duty.

The landlord does not pay anything.

It is a saving to somebody. Town parks are dealt with here. In a good many cases they are rated very high; they are also potential building ground, and cannot be touched until 1932. These town parks may be paying a very high rent, as high as £2 an acre. We had many of them in the part of the country I come from. There is no reason why if an effort is not made to start building on the town parks that they should not come under the provision of 1923 Act. Then there is the case of the non-judicial tenants under the 1929 Act. The Parliamentary Secretary should have that section repealed. There is no reason why there should not be a section dealing with non-judicial tenants. It was most unfair the section that we passed through this House. They have no means of knowing what the law is on this matter. A fair rent was never fixed on many of the estates, and they have had no way of finding out whether they have any redress. The price fixed under the 1929 Act is the same as the price for judicial tenants. That is most unfair. Unless it is repealed there is bound to be too much money advanced on many estates for part of the land. Some future Government will find that they cannot collect the annuity unless the price is reduced.

I doubt very much if this Bill was necessary at all. I believe myself the Land Commission had nearly all the power under previous Acts that they are taking under this Bill, For instance, under the 1929 Act they had power to adapt other enactments, and they had power under the 1923 and 1927 Acts to vest land in the Land Commission without vesting them in the tenants. That is what this Bill is doing. No doubt they have the power that they are taking under this Bill. They had power to vest all the tenanted land in themselves before they vested them in the tenants, and they could have given seven years ago to the tenants the advantage of this 10 per cent. reduction and the repayment of the advances made. We hope that during the Committee State the Government will admit reasonable amendments and see that the Bill passes through this House in a much better form than it is at present.

The debate on this Bill reminds me of Abraham's conversation with the angels when they were on their way to destroy the cities of the plain. Deputies will remember how Abraham pleaded for mercy and asked them to hold their hand if they found within the cities 100 just men, and how gradually he came down and said even for the sake of 10 just men he would secure a promise from the angels that they would not destroy the city. There were not 10 just men to be found, and the cities were destroyed. This Bill is possibly in a happier position, because, though there are 48 sections in it and four parts, three of which are to a large extent bad and ought to be destroyed, yet for the sake of one part and one section—the Derrig section (a laugh)—"the empty laugh bespeaks the vacant mind"— this Bill has received the benediction of a number of Deputies who quite obviously have not read the Bill nor have studied it.

What is in a name? In this House we refer to this Bill as the Land Bill, but in the country and the Press, with the deliberate intention of deceiving the farmers, this Bill is spoken of as the Vesting Bill. The Government have endeavoured to create the impression in the public mind that the whole purpose of the Bill is to render easier the expeditious vesting of the land in the tenant purchaser. I said there were four parts and forty-eight sections in this Bill. There is only one part, and in that part only one section, which is essentially concerned with the principle of early vesting, and that is the section which embodies the same principle as was embodied in the Bill introduced into this House by Deputy Derrig. That is the section in the Bill which is designed to render it acceptable to the people, and, with the exception of that one section, all the other sections in that part might just as well be dealt with by Statutory Rule and Order as by legislation in this House. And if Deputy Gorey, who was so much concerned with the position of tenant farmers in 1923, and who had in 1927 advocated that the vesting of the land should be expedited, had been really sincere and in earnest in the public attitude he struck, he would, when Deputy Derrig's Bill was before the House, have spoken in favour of it, have gone into the division lobby in support of it, and in Committee Stage have introduced a new section which would give the Parliamentary Secretary or the Minister for Finance power to draft statutory rules and orders which would be required to deal with these exceptional cases only which are dealt with by other sections in Part II of the Bill to which I have referred.

made an interjection.

I shall deal with the Deputy in a moment if he will wait and have manners.

I said there is only one part of this Bill concerned with vesting. I would like to direct the attention of the House to some other parts of this Bill which have not been dealt with at all. Let us take the first section of Part I., dealing with finance. If Deputy Gorey has read the first section of the Bill he will agree with me that it has nothing whatsoever to do with vesting. It is introduced into the Bill merely to create a guarantee in favour of the British Government—a penalty guarantee in respect of those bonds which are issued to purchasers, not in respect of land purchased but of fisheries and fishing rights in this country. Section 1 of the Bill states:

The Land Bond Act, 1925, shall apply to land bonds created and issued by the Minister for Finance under the powers conferred upon him by sub-section (2) of Section 5 of the Land Act, 1929, for the purposes of that section in like manner as it applies to land bonds created and issued by the said Minister for the purposes of the Land Act, 1923.

Just to let Deputy Gorey know the extent of his ignorance in this matter, I will tell him that Section 5 of the Land Act of 1929 deals with the purchase of certain fisheries and fishing rights by the Land Commission.

Section 5 of the Land Bond Act of 1925 applies to Land Bonds created and issued by the Minister for the purposes of the Land Act of 1923. What does this Land Bond Act of 1925 do? The first thing it does is this:

"In the event of any sum being issued out of the British Consolidated Fund or the growing produce thereof for fulfilling any guarantee given by the British Government for the payment of the principal and interest on any land bonds created for the purposes of the Principal Act, there shall be charged on and payable out of the Central Fund of this State ... an amount sufficient to repay to the British Treasury any sum so issued as aforesaid together with interest thereon from the date of such issue at such rate as may be agreed between the Minister for Finance and the British Treasury or in default of such agreement at the rate of five per cent. per annum."

Now, the tenant farmer who is making a payment in lieu of rent is not going to get any advantage whatsoever as a result of that section. The man who is going to be benefited is the man who was not entitled to benefit under the Land Act of 1929, the landlord from whom the fisheries and fishing rights were purchased.

Another section (Section 3 (1) of the Bill provides that:

Sub-section (3) of Section 1 of the Land Act, 1923, as amended by Section 3 of the Land Bond Act, 1925, shall be construed and have effect as if the words "in satisfaction of death duties or" now contained in that sub-section were omitted therefrom.

I heartily welcome that section because I believe that the principle of giving a deferred benefit to purchasers of Government stock or to those who received them as purchase money or in any other form of compensation of the same kind, is merely mortgaging the future, and will be unfair to our successors. I want to know from those who have hailed this Bill as the completion of land purchase in this country, those who have said that it is making some restitution to the tenant farmers—I want Deputy Gorey or Deputy Heffernan, or any other member of the "Independent" Farmers' Party, to get up here and tell me what advantage that is going to confer on the farmers of this country.

Take Section 3 (2) of the Bill. To my mind it simply brings the bonds issued under this Act and after the passing of this Act within the provisions of Section 3 of the Land Bond Act of 1925. And what are the provisions of Section 3 of the Land Bond Act of 1925? Those provisions provide that the bonds "shall bear interest at the rate of 4½ per cent. per annum on the nominal amount thereof payable in British currency by equal half-yearly instalments at such times in each year as may be fixed by the regulations under which they are issued." Sub-section (3) of Section 3 of that Act of 1925 says:

"the bonds shall be redeemable at par in British currency, together with the payment of all arrears of interest, and the Minister for Finance shall make arrangements for the redemption thereof within eighty years from the 8th December, 1924, by means of yearly or half-yearly drawings; and the said Minister may make regulations for the drawing of such bonds...."

When dealing with another section I will amplify that point. If it were not for Part 2 of this Bill—if it were not for the Derrig clause in that part of this Bill—this Bill, instead of being called a Land Bill, should be called the Loot for Landlords Bill, because it will enable the landlords to clear out of this country before the change of Government in 1932, it will make it easier for them to sell their bills in London, and it will impose upon the successors of the Parliamentary Secretary and the Minister for Finance and the rest of the Government opposite the obligation to redeem those bonds in London in British currency.

I ask Deputy Gorey, who was very sarcastic after hearing Deputy Geoghegan's speech, what practical advantage the tenant farmers of the country are going to get under that section? I have read the Bill, but Deputy Sheehy and Deputy Gorey and the rest of them apparently read instead the puffs which appeared in the newspapers.

I ask Deputy Gorey what the purpose of Section 4 is. That section relates to annuities on the re-sale of lands purchased by the late Congested Districts Board on very favourable terms, purchased at a time when stock was issued at 2¾ and 3¼ per cent., and when the rates for long-term interest were lower than they are at present. But the lands which were purchased years ago by the Congested Districts Board are still in the possession of the Land Commission, and still not vested in the tenants. What is the purpose of Section 4? Will Deputy Gorey or Deputy Heffernan, or anyone of the Independent Farmers' Party, whose interest in the farmers for whom they profess to speak is so intense that they invariably absent themselves from the House when a debate on this matter is proceeding, tell us what is the purpose of Section 4? The purpose of Section 4 is to enable the Land Commission to make a profit on lands which were taken over through the C.D.B. and which the Land Commission may dispose of after the passing of this Bill. That, and no other, is the purpose of Section 4, sub-section (1), because it enables the Land Commission to make the moneys advanced repayable by a purchase annuity calculated in such manner and at such rate and payable at such times as the Minister for Finance may prescribe, solely in relation to the land yet to be disposed of by the Land Commission. In relation to other lands in respect of which agreements have been entered into, the rate of the annuity is fixed, but in relation to the lands which are still undisposed of, and which are of a very considerable amount, the Minister for Finance has full power to fix the rate of the annuity at any figure he may choose.

We know that the exigencies of Cumann na nGaedheal finance are often such that he will fix that annuity at the very highest price he can get, and I think, even in our present depressed conditions, it will be higher than 3¼ per cent.

Section 6 of the Bill is comparatively unimportant. I think the need for it arises principally from the fact that under the Greater Dublin scheme a large part of land which was formerly in County Dublin, and in respect of which purchase agreements have been entered into, has now come within the boundaries of the city, and this will make the City and County Borough of Dublin liable in respect of the guarantee fund relative to those lands.

Section 7 relates to lands which the Land Commission have re-sold or shall hereafter re-sell under the Irish Land (Provision for Sailors and Soldiers) Act, 1919, and it provides that where any profit has been realised "and such enhanced price is due in whole or in part to expenditure on improvements on or in respect of such land made by the Land Commission after the 1st day of April, 1922 (whether before or after the passing of this Act) out of moneys provided or recouped by the British Government, so much of the purchase annuity paid into the purchase annuities fund or the land bond fund (as the case may be) in respect of such price as is attributable to such expenditure shall be paid or credited to the British Government in such manner as the Minister for Finance shall appoint by regulations made by him under this section ...."

Can Deputy Gorey tell me what benefit or advantage will the tenant farmers of this country reap from the fact that any profit which the Land Commission may make on the re-sale of lands under the Sailors and Soldiers Land Act of 1919 is going to be paid and credited to the British Government? I would love to hear Deputy Gorey, Deputy Sheehy or Deputy Brodrick, or some other of the Deputies who were so whole-heartedly enthusiastic about the Bill, explain on a platform in Galway, in Carlow, in West Cork, or even in Skibbereen, what advantage the tenant farmers will reap out of the fact that the profits made by the Land Commission on the sale of Irish soil are to be paid over and credited to the British Government.

I have dealt with the first part of the Bill, the most important part of the Bill, the part which is at the root of the whole Bill, the part dealing with finance, and there is not one section in it that will yield any profit to the Irish farmer.

We of the Fianna Fáil Party introduced a Bill which was designed to benefit the farmer. It was a Bill that we called a Land Bill, and it was colloquially known as a vesting Bill. This Bill is also entitled a Land Bill, but it is also colloquially known and commonly spoken of as a vesting Bill. It is not the first time that people hard driven for an heir have stolen another person's child and tried to pass it off as their own. That is what has happened in regard to Section 9 of the Bill, to which I am coming now.

Section 9 is a very interesting section. Speaking about it, Deputy Gorey says that under it we are going to give them—and by "them" he meant those unfortunate tenant farmers who are paying either interest in lieu of rent or making payment in lieu of rent— what they are entitled to since 1923. Possibly they are, and for that reason he was very grateful and extremely complimentary to the Parliamentary Secretary. Deputy O'Connell was equally complimentary to the Parliamentary Secretary. The Parliamentary Secretary has been almost smothered in bouquets by interested speakers from all parts of the House except the unfortunate individuals on this side who have had to study the Bill and make themselves familiar with the purpose and effect of it. They, knowing something about the Bill, have withheld their tribute of bouquets to the Parliamentary Secretary. Deputy Gorey says we are going to give them what they are entitled to since 1923. We are asked why we were not here in 1927 when the Deputy was standing up for the farmers. The Deputy asked us why, when Deputy Derrig introduced the Bill in 1929, we did not do what the Parliamentary Secretary is going to do for the tenant farmers under this Bill. Was not that, he said, what we were paid for? Now, when we introduced our Bill in 1929 we were told that what we sought to do was impossible. Deputy Gorey tells us that in 1927 he, at any rate, recognised that it was not impossible. Deputy Gorey has been a member of the Government Party since 1927. Moreover, he has been an influential member of the Government Party since 1927. Deputy Heffernan, his late colleague in the Independent Farmers' Party, has been—how shall I put it?—

An influential man.

A member without influence. I do not want to commit myself to the term "influential" in respect of Deputy Heffernan. I cannot conceive him exercising any influence in any serious discussion upon any matter. Deputy Heffernan has been, at any rate, there as a mark and token of appreciation on the part of the Government to the Independent Farmers' Party.

An indication.

An indication of appreciation. If this thing were possible in 1927, and, according to Deputy Gorey, it was, why was it not possible earlier? Deputy Gorey has been here for several years. He was here in 1923 and he has been paid since 1923 just as we have been paid since 1927. Why did he not introduce his measure to do some thing which he considered possible? Why did he not compel the Party of which he is a member to introduce a measure to do something which he considered possible? The Parliamentary Secretary gets quite a considerable salary and so do the members of the Executive Council. Upon the Land Commission there is spent something like £600,000 a year. Why, during all the years since 1923, with the Cumann na nGaedheal Government in office, with a Parliamentary Secretary well paid and with a Land Commission costing something like £600,000 a year, was there not a Bill introduced to do something which Deputy Gorey states was urgently needed even in 1923 and which he now proclaims it was always possible to do?

We have not the resources of Deputy Gorey or his Party; we have not the huge Departmental staffs that the Government have. I will grant you that because we were new-comers to the House we were comparatively unaware of all the details of this problem, but whatever we lacked in knowledge or resources we made up in sincerity. We tried to do something to hasten the day when the land of Ireland would be vested in the workers and the tillers of the soil of Ireland. We have nothing to be ashamed of in respect of the Land Bill of 1929 because we see the principle on which our Bill was based embodied in this measure. It was stolen from us, if you like, and embodied here, in not nearly so good a form, in Section 9. That Section runs as follows:—

(1) The Land Commission shall from time to time publish lists (in this Act referred to as lists of vested holdings) of tenanted land consisting of holdings in respect of which particulars have been furnished in pursuance of sub-section (1) of section 40 of the Land Act, 1923, and shall in every such list declare in respect of the tenanted land comprised in such list the appointed day (which may be previous to, coincident with, or subsequent to the date of the publication of such list) for such land.

One section in this Bill is used to conceal the advantages which the Land Bill of 1930 is, I repeat, going to confer, not on the farmers of Ireland, but on the remnants of the landlords who are still in the country. Section 1 of Deputy Derrig's Bill provides that in the case of a holding subject to a judicial rent, to which Section 24 of this Act applies, the Appointed Day shall be fixed at a date not later than 1st day of December, 1929, and, in respect of all other tenanted and untenanted land, shall be fixed at a date not later than 1st day of June, 1932. I ask Deputy Gorey, or any member of the Government Party, or of the Government, what is the difference in principle between Section 1 of Deputy Derrig's Bill and Section 9 of the Government Bill? Absolutely none. Both propose to fix the Appointed Day. The only difference is that whereas under Section 9 of the Government Bill the Government take power to permit themselves to fix the Appointed Day this year, next year, now or never, because they say: "The Appointed Day, which may be previous to, coincident with, or subsequent to the date of publication of such list." Deputy Derrig was anxious to have some finality in the matter and decided that so far as the Appointed Day was concerned it should be a date not later than 1st December, 1929, in the case of judicial tenancies and, in the case of non-judicial tenancies and untenanted land, not later than 1st June, 1932.

It may be argued that for certain reasons it was impossible to fix the Appointed Day on 1st December, 1929, but good reason could be shown that it was easy to fix the Appointed Day somewhat later without altering the vital principle of the Derrig Bill, which is the same as the fundamental section in the Government Bill. Because it fixes the final day on which the land of Ireland will be vested in the farmers of Ireland, that Bill would be very much better than Section 9 of the Government Bill. Deputy Gorey, who was in favour of the worse section, is going to go into the Lobby in support of Section 9 if there is a Division on this Bill. I do not, however, believe that there will be a Division, because, as I have said, for the sake of Section 9, we are prepared to allow the Bill to get a Second Reading even though we strongly object to other provisions.

Deputy Gorey, who is now whole-heartedly in favour of Section 9, went into the Lobby against Section 1 of Deputy Derrig's Bill. Of course, it was rather unfortunate for the Government that this Bill of Deputy Derrig had been introduced, though it was defeated in this House. I think it was Deputy Heffernan who said that Deputy Geoghegan's speech was not directed to the House but to the country. That was a very significant remark. Deputy Heffernan will one day waken up, as we have wakened up, to the fact that if there is going to be any change or progress in this country, our pleadings and arguments are not to be advanced to this pocket-borough of the Executive Council where most of the Independents are more subservient to the Government, attend better, and vote oftener than members of the Government Party themselves. Our speeches and arguments are to be addressed to the country. Whatever the prejudiced minds and the purblind vision of Deputy Gorey, Deputy Sheehy or Deputy Wolfe may have been in regard to Deputy Derrig's Bill, at any rate the people recognised that it had for them a considerable merit and made for them this question of vesting a live issue in the country, and because of that Section 9 is introduced into the Loot for Landlords' Bill to-day.

The Deputy has great courage to attack men who were working before he was born in the cause of land purchase.

I say that the people of the country recognised the fact that we, at any rate, tried to do something practical for them. They realised that if the problem of early vesting could be solved it would mean considerable advantage to them. The practical object upon which we, practical people, had fixed our practical minds, and which was to be secured by early vesting, was to give credit to the ultimate tenant purchaser for the amount by which the payment in lieu of rent exceeded the standard purchase annuity. This payment in lieu of rent, this overpayment which the farmer had to make above the standard purchase annuity, represented a very serious loss to him.

From some of the speeches made, I think that there is some misapprehension as to exactly the extent of that loss. I made a rough calculation, and found that in every £100 of standard price, whereas the standard annuity was about £4 6s. 2d., payment in lieu of rent was £4 19s. 5d. The tenant, therefore, as rent, was making an overpayment of 13/3 on every £100 of standard price, and, in addition to that, was losing advantage of the sinking fund, amounting, I think, to 5/-, or 1/4 per cent. That is to say, the tenant, so long as the present position of payment in lieu of rent continued in respect of land which was not vested and of which he was ultimately going to be the purchaser, was losing 18/3 on the standard purchase annuity. That was the overpayment he was making. It represented, not a 10 per cent. reduction, as some people said, but an overpayment on the standard purchase annuity of something like 21 per cent.

That was what was at stake, and the country saw that that was what was at stake, when we introduced our Land Bill and when Deputy Gorey and members of the Government Party threw it out with scorn in this House. I asked Deputy Gorey, since he recognised the importance of remedying the position from the point of view of the tenant farmer so far back as 1927, why he did not do it in 1929. I asked him why they are doing it now? First of all, because of the Derrig Bill, which has forced the Derrig clause into the Government measure; secondly, because of the agitation in the country which we have carried on; and thirdly, and from the Government point of view possibly the most powerful cause, because of fear which the landlords have as to what might happen land purchase in Ireland after the coming General Election when their friends and dependents will be no longer in power.

I referred at the opening of my speech to what were the most important sections in the Bill, Section 1 and Section 3. Under those sections land bonds are now going to be issued with undue haste, with every speed, so that they may be all issued before 1932. They are to be brought within the Guarantee Section, brought within the provisions of the Land Bond Act of 1925, which promises to make good to the British Government any loss which they may sustain in respect of land bonds issued before 1932. The trouble about members of this House is that they will not believe anything coming from the Fianna Fáil benches unless we are able to quote Scripture for them I have here a Treasury minute dated 24th July, 1925, which concludes with this paragraph:

"My Lords accordingly give their guarantee for the payment of the principal of and the interest on such of the above-mentioned land bonds as may be issued not later than 18th December, 1932, to the nominal amount in the aggregate not exceeding £30,000,000 sterling."

That is the principal reason why it has become essential for the Government to introduce this Land Bill. That is the principal reason why they have felt it important, to speed up vesting so as to permit their friends to avail of the British Government's guarantee in respect of land bonds, that is the true reason for the Bill and not the desire of the Irish farmer to have the land vested in him and to secure the practical advantage to which I have referred which would follow from that vesting.

I have dealt with the significant clause in Part II. Let us turn now to Part IV, to the clause to which Deputy Corry has already referred. This is a most extraordinary provision. Section 33 is entitled "Provisions in relation to the distribution of purchase money." This is the clause which I say would enable this Bill to be more truly styled "The Loot for Landlords Bill." I do not know whether Deputy Gorey read the Bill. Deputy Gorey is a man who in this House continuously shouts "Stop thief!" He seems to consider that a considerable number of his colleagues on these benches are unfit to be trusted, that they have an itch to possess other people's property, in fact, make a living as midnight marauders or as highwaymen, because invariably when he gets up to speak, he refers to certain incidents which happened in 1921 and 1922 and accuses us of having used public moneys or other people's property for our own private ends. I would have had thought that Deputy Gorey who is such a custodian of public morals in regard to property, the moment he read the section would have been moved by the anger to which he has been so often excited in this House and would immediately have gone to the Parliamentary Secretary and said: "This is nothing but sheer robbery of the Irish people by a class who are not entitled on the whole, taking everything into consideration, their history, the manner in which they acquired the land of which they enjoy the ownership, to undue consideration from us."

Section 33, sub-section (1), paragraph (a), states that "notwithstanding anything contained in the Land Purchase Acts, the following provisions shall have effect in relation to the distribution of the purchase money, that is to say (a) the court may direct payment of a claim in respect of which the Court is of opinion that the title of the claimant, though imperfect, is nevertheless such as to make it improbable that any claim adverse to such first-mentioned claim could be sustained." Well and good. That may be a sound working principle. I am not a lawyer and I am not going to contest it. It may with proper safeguards, and for the sake of certain practical advantages be a principle which might be accepted by the Dáil, but it is a principle which I think should be enshrined with every safeguard, a principle which any legislature purporting to adopt in relation to public moneys should take every precaution to see would not be subject to abuse. Let us see what precaution these honest and upright Ministers whom Deputy Gorey supports are taking in this respect.

In paragraph (b) we have the following extraordinary statement: "The court shall be entitled to act on the evidence of title submitted by a claimant and it shall not be obligatory on the court to inquire as to the existence or non-existence of any adverse estate, right, claim or interest which is not disclosed by such evidence." So that Deputy Gorey, if he likes, and if he thinks he can carry it off, can go into the witness box and say that he was rightfully entitled when, in fact, he was nothing of the sort, to be paid by the Land Commission out of moneys, as I shall show later, to be provided by the Oireachtas, to be paid by the Land Commission for land to which he has no title, right, claim or interest. The court, if it so likes, and if Deputy Gorey is as influential with it as sometimes people have been known to be with courts, without being obliged to inquire into the question as to whether Deputy Gorey was telling the truth or not, under the law which Deputy Gorey is going to help pass through the House, can accept his mere word and allow him to go off with the loot. Did anybody in his sane senses ever see any provision so extraordinary as paragraph (b) introduced into an Act which empowers other people not under the control of this legislature to disburse public moneys?

Then Deputy Gorey having got away with the swag, another person rightfully entitled to the land turns up. He makes a claim, though the previous claimant has gone overseas with the loot. He has sold his bonds in the public market, and has realised what he could get for them. When he is far beyond the reach of the law in this country another person, the rightful owner this time, turns up. He makes a claim and proves it, and according to paragraph (c) he is entitled to be paid by the Land Commission by way of compensation "such sum as the court shall fix having regard to all the circumstances of the case."

I do not say that paragraph (c) he is inequitable. If the legislature empowers the courts of the country to determine that public moneys should be given to a person to whom they do not rightfully belong, I think that we are bound to pass and adopt such a principle as is embodied in paragraph (c), but in the ordinary transactions of everyday life there is such a thing as the Statute of Limitations, and of course the Statute of Limitations may operate as between an ordinary debtor and ordinary creditor in this country. But where it is the case of a landed proprietor, of one of the lords of the soil, a gentleman who perhaps traces his title back to one of the Acts of Confiscation, he must not be treated as one of the ordinary common herd. He belongs to another race and to another class. He does not have to work with the sweat of his brow in order to earn his bread, and therefore he cannot be dealt with as an ordinary common citizen of this State. Therefore, in his case, according to sub-section (2) of the section, the Statute of Limitations is not going to apply. In certain circumstances, even 30 years after the money has been wrongfully paid and a claim wrongfully made and wrongfully allowed by the court, a landlord can come into court and recover under this Act from the public funds money which he was rightfully entitled to at the date on which the land was sold.

Sub-section (3) states that "all compensation payable by the Land Commission under this section shall be paid out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas," so that Deputy Gorey, by going into the Lobby in support of Section 33, is going to tax the tenant farmers of the country to pay a man who makes a wrongful claim and gets away with it as well as to indemnify the rightful owner against the consequences of such injustice.

Some Deputies, of course, will say that is quite right, that if we make a wrongful award in the first instance that the State, being master within its own territory, it can pursue the wrongful claimant and can recover the moneys from him. That would appear to be the prudent thing to do. It would seem that the Parliamentary Secretary who has been receiving all the credit or discredit, or odium, as it soon will be, for this Bill would have the prudence of an ordinary man. We have introduced, he says, into this Bill a section which states.

"the amount of any compensation paid by the Land Commission under this section shall be repaid to the Land Commission by such persons as shall be declared by the court to have received that portion of the purchase money which would have been applied in discharging the claim in respect of which such compensation was paid."

That seems very good. It shows, and I ask you to remember this, how nicely put together this Bill is. It is a veritable masterpiece, a mosaic to enrich landlords or pseudo-landlords, because you have to relate Section 33 (4) to Sections 1 and 3 of the Bill, and through them to relate it to Sections 2 and 3 of the Land Bond Act, 1925. As I pointed out at the opening of my speech, the bonds which are to be issued not only to the rightful claimants, but also to wrongful claimamts, are to bear interest at 4½ per cent. payable in British currency, and are to be redeemable at par in British currency, this State guaranteeing under Section 2 of the Land Bonds Act of 1925 to make good to the British Treasury any loss which it may sustain in respect of those bonds, or else pay the penalty at the enhanced rate of interest of 5 per cent. You will see that so far as Section 4 of this Bill goes it affords absolutely no protection whatsoever to the public funds whenever we give our land bonds to wrongful claimants. How long does anyone think that a wrongful claimant is going to remain in this country, that any man who has not an incontestable title is going to remain in this country once he has the Bonds? Is any man who has sold to the Land Commission a title which has a single flaw in it going to remain in this country one day after he receives the purchase money in the 4½ per cent. Land Bonds of this State? The moment that this Act goes through and that this clause becomes operative you will have what might be called Casabianca landlords, or ex-landlords.

"The boy, oh, where was he? Ask of the winds that far around With fragments strewed the sea."

It is not often that the Government shows its hand so fully. We have heard them condemn Fianna Fáil because we offered, or proposed to offer, subsidies for the development of wheat-growing and of agriculture generally. We had a rasping attack from the Minister for Agriculture because we proposed to offer what he called a subsidy for the encouragement of tobacco-growing. But sub-section (4) of Section 33 is offering a subsidy for the emigration of ex-landlords. I ask any lawyer in this House—I ask Deputy Wolfe—even though I do not expect I am going to get an unprejudiced opinion, how many landlords in this country can show a clear unchallengeable title to their lands? In how many cases which come before the Land Commission will not the powers under Section 33 (1), paragraph (a), have to be availed of by the court? I do not know, but, making a guess, I would say more than 50 per cent. of them. I would ask Deputy Jasper Wolfe, a man of the world and one who knows what human nature is, how many landlords whose titles have a flaw in them are going to remain in this country one week after they get the purchase money handed to them in land bonds?

Since I have come to Deputy Jasper Wolfe, possibly I ought to deal with him now. He may be vulpine in name, but lupine in address. He was terribly scornful because on these benches we ventured to say that this Bill was a Bill for the relief of the landlords. He asked us what advantage were the poor landlords going to get from the passage of this Bill. At the moment they are getting payment in lieu of rent calculated at 75 per cent. of the judicial rent. Immediately this Bill goes through, the Deputy said, they are going to get, in effect, 65 per cent. Does not Deputy Wolfe know as well as I do that that is not so? Does he not know that the moment this Bill goes through, the moment they make the sales, they are going to have a standard purchase price calculated on 65 per cent. of the judicial rents, plus 10 per cent. added as a contribution by the State?

Does he not know, furthermore, that there are many landlords who will consider that their future in this country would be very uncertain if they continue to hold their land as landlords on the same tenure, and upon the same terms as they held them up to the passing of the 1923 Act. Does not Deputy Wolfe know very well that if it were not for the Land Purchase Acts of 1903, 1909 and 1923 you would have the landlords now giving away their lands for anything they could get for them in this country? Is not the real position in regard to these Acts that we have tried, as far as we could, to relieve the prospective hardship on the owners of large tracts of land, and that if it were not for the Land Purchase Acts there is a possibility that those from whom the lands were originally taken would take them back again, just as they were taken from them by force. The landlords are very glad to take the money which is provided for them, immediately by the State, but ultimately by the tenant purchasers to whom they are giving back their lands. What benefit, Deputy Wolfe asks, are landlords going to receive under this Act? The landlords are going to receive the standard price for the land, calculated, as I said, at 65 per cent. of the rent, plus a ten per cent. contribution from the State, and are going to be paid that price in four and a half per cent. bonds.

What is it that is making 4½ per cent. Irish land stock one of the most attractive investments in the British market at the present time? What is it that has driven the price of this stock above par? It is that it is guaranteed by this State, and also the fact that it is in the unique position that it is guaranteed by another State also. The landlords are going to receive the immediate benefit, and possibly the most important benefit under the Bill, of the fact that, for doubtful property, they are going to receive bonds carrying the guarantee of two States. Not only are they going to receive the double guarantee in that way, but they are going to receive bonds which bear interest at a rate very much higher, I believe, than will prevail for the securities issued by this State in the near future.

Once we get a Government in power which would put the finances of this country on sound basis, once we get a Government in power which will retain in this country, for the use of the Irish people, the annuities which are being sent out of it, once we get a Government in power which will develop the resources of the country for the interest, the benefit and the profit of the Irish people, once we get a Government in power that will really balance its Budget and not carry on from year to year, as the Cumann na nGaedheal has done for the past six years, borrowing from hand to mouth, poaching from every covert and selling every asset not immediately required, once we get a Government of that sort in power, then the credit of this State will stand not at five per cent., as it does to-day, but at something like 3 per cent. or 3½ per cent. The landlords who are going to be paid in 4½ per cent. bonds under this Bill know that very well. Apart from the fact that they might receive different treatment from a people's Government, that is not an ascendancy Government, they are very well content to reap the immediate reward offered under this Bill by being paid in bonds that carry 4½ per cent. interest.

I have said more than I intended to say. I have kept the House longer than I intended, but, at any rate, I will conclude by saying, and possibly I will again arouse the ire of the Government Party when I say that whatever is good in this Bill is due to the Derrig clause in it which fixes the Appointed Day. Whatever is bad in the Bill is bad because the interests which have supported the Government from first to last, since they took power in this country, have compelled them, before they go to the people for the last time, to safeguard, so far as they possibly could, the interests of the ascendancy and of the landlord classes.

I quite realise that this is a very difficult Bill to debate on the Second Reading. As Deputy Gorey remarked, it is largely an administrative Bill, and consequently the proper time to discuss its administrative details is in Committee. There has been a great amount of unreality about this whole debate. Not one Deputy concentrated on a single essential point in the Bill with the possible exception of Deputy Gorey and Deputy J. Wolfe. Deputies like Deputy Geoghegan and Deputy MacEntee worked themselves into a state bordering on rhetorical frenzy over certain sections which obviously they did not understand and took no pains beforehand to understand. The idea of short-circuiting vesting is not quite new. The idea of short-circuiting the procedure leading up to vesting of land occurred to a number of people in this House before ever Deputy MacEntee and other Deputies in the Fianna Fáil Party thought of entering this House. It occurred to certain members of the Farmers' Party as early as 1924 and to many tenants throughout this State. This idea occurred to many other people who were interested at that particular period in the welfare of those tenants. The whole difficulty has been to devise suitable machinery which would enable the Land Commission to expedite and short-circuit the existing procedure.

Now Deputy Derrig's Land Bill has been referred to several times this evening by Deputies on the Fianna Fáil Benches who have taken part in this discussion. Deputy Derrig and Deputy Corry's Land Bill consisted of two sections, one section repealing Section 70 of the Act of 1923 and another section stating that "this Act may be cited as the Land Act of 1929." Now the preamble to the Bill is entitled "A Bill entitled an Act to amend the Land Act of 1923 in so far as it relates to the fixing of the appointed day in the case of land to which Section 24 of the Land Act, 1923, relates. Be it enacted by the Oireachtas of Saorstát Eireann as follows," and so on.

There is no doubt about it; the idea is there, but as I have said already, the idea of short circuiting procedure did occur to many people long before the Fianna Fáil Party ever thought of entering this Dáil. There is no comparison possible between the two Bills. It is like comparing a child's toy with a railway engine. I give Deputy Derrig credit for good intentions, but good intentions are not quite enough to bring about reforms. Ways and means have to be devised. Deputy Derrig's Bill has certainly the merit of simplicity. He desired, as we all desire, to expedite land purchase. "Very well," he thought, "I will look up a suitable date in the calendar." As an actual fact he chose a Sunday, on the principle, I suppose, of "the better the day the better the deed," and "I will bring in a Land Bill saying this is to be the appointed day for all estates. The Land Commission can adjust difficulties afterwards somehow." But the Bill did not contain a single hint as to how this adjustment was to be done. It provided no safeguard whatever against loss to the State, although we have heard a great deal of talk here to-day about loss to the State. It did not attempt to distinguish between the vesting of land in the State and the vesting of land in the tenant purchasers.

It did not contain a single effective provision for dealing with the case of the non-judicial tenant, although I have heard a great deal about the woes of the non-judicial tenant from the Fianna Fáil Benches to-day. It did not allow for the retention or resumption of holdings, and so would have put a stop completely to this important side of Land Commission activity, and, more important still, if this Bill had been passed by the Dáil at the time it was introduced by Deputy Derrig and Deputy Corry, it would have put an end completely to the acquisition of untenanted land, and consequently those unfortunate people, the congests down the country who were looking to the Land Commission to provide them with additional parcels, would have been left completely out in the cold.

Another thing, it made no provision whatever for the alleviation of the unfortunate tenants on Congested Districts Board estates, who really have much greater grievance on the score of delay in vesting than the tenants on the 1923 estates. In fact, it could not be regarded as a Bill at all; it was not intended as a serious legislative attempt; it was merely a political gesture, and I am surprised that any Deputy on the Fianna Fáil Benches should have made any reference whatsoever to that abortive attempt at legislation.

It forced you to do something anyway. It trampled on your heels.

No; as an actual fact, this matter of expediting procedure relating to the vesting of land was engaging my attention long before Deputy Corry or Deputy Derrig thought of introducing a Bill of this type, and long before Deputy Lemass had occasion to make any reference to the grievances of these tenants in his platform utterances.

Like the Town Tenants Bill.

Deputy Derrig appeared to fear that one of the first results of this Bill would be a heavy expenditure, on additional staff which would be a permanent burden on the taxpayer. I am afraid Deputy Derrig is not consistent. When the Land Commission Estimates were being discussed last year Deputy Derrig said that he and the members of his Party would be prepared to support any proposals by the Land Commission for an increase in staff in order to expedite the vesting of land.

The final vesting of land.

Final vesting. It is the same thing. This Bill provides for the final vesting of land. Yesterday when Deputy Derrig was speaking on this Bill he complained because of the fact that the administration of this Act might lead to an increase in staff. I am quite certain that if the administration of this Bill would really lead to a decrease in staff then Deputy Derrig would also complain of the Bill because of the fact that it led to a decrease and not to an increase in staff. However the Bill will undoubtedly lead to a slight increase in the staff. It is inevitable but it will only mean a slight increase, and I think Deputies will realise that this procedure which is quite new will undoubtedly entail a great deal of work on the Land Commission for at least two or three years after the lists of the vested holdings have been published, but as I say the increase in staff will be very slight, so Deputies need not feel unduly alarmed that the staff of the Civil Service is going to be appreciably increased.

Deputy Derrig also stated that. The Parliamentary Secretary should name a date when these results should be brought about, and in that connection he was interested in the tenants under the 1923 Act. With regard to the cases under the 1923 Act, I can assure the Deputy that we hope to fix an Appointed Day in the vast majority of them within three months of the passing of this Bill. I am quite sure that within a month from the passing into law of this Bill at least quite a number of these estates will be ready for publication. The position is quite different with regard to the Congested Districts Board estates, but, as I said in my opening statement yesterday, I am hopeful that within 12 months from the passing into law of this Bill all the holdings on Congested Districts Board estates will be vested in the tenants.

Deputy Derrig also referred to the power taken under Section 4 to make grants in aid to meet the expenses of migrants. Those are grants towards the removal expenses of those migrants from the West who relinquish large holdings of land utilised to relieve congestion in those districts.

At the moment no provision whatever can be made towards the removal expenses of those migrants out of the Improvements Fund. In order to give the Land Commission power to make grants of that character for these migrants, and thereby make it easier for the Land Commission to bring about their transfer, I devised this particular section in the Bill.

Deputy Derrig also referred to provisions in relation to the distribution of purchase money. I can assure Deputies that they need not be unduly alarmed about this section in the Bill. It does provide undoubtedly that in certain cases the court may order purchase moneys to be paid out, even though the examiners are satisfied that the title is not quite clear, or is not as perfect as they would like it to be. It is very unlikely that many of these cases will arise. Deputy MacEntee stated that the title of about 50 per cent. of the landowners of this country to their lands was imperfect. As a matter of fact, that statement is absolutely incorrect. A certain examiner on the Land Commission staff at the moment has investigated titles to at least 1,000 estates, and in only one single case did he find the title in any way imperfect. Deputies must remember that there are other claimants to this purchase money besides the vendor. It is quite conceivable that in many cases there may be half-a-dozen claimants to the money as well as the vendor. Some of these claimants are very poor people, and consequently it would be unfair and unjust to deprive them of that portion of the purchase money to which they are entitled. If a rigid and strict investigation is to be made into the title of every estate it will mean a big loss to the State. Sometimes these investigations have to be carried out in foreign countries— sometimes in America, sometimes in Australia, sometimes in New Zealand; and the expenses of these investigations have to be borne out of the Costs Fund. If there is a rigid investigation of title in every single case it will undoubtedly mean that the State will have to suffer a very big loss. It has been estimated that the loss to the State in the absence of a section of this kind would mean about £40,000. I think this section will only be used in very few cases, if indeed at all. However, we can discuss it in much greater detail on the Committee Stage, because it is naturally a section that lends itself admirably to a detailed discussion.

Deputy Geoghegan referred to Section 31 as a wonderful boon. It certainly is not a wonderful boon to the members of the legal profession, and it is not intended to be a wonderful boon to the members of that profession.

Deputy O'Connell wanted some further information in regard to the procedure to be adopted in the case of Congested Districts Board tenants. Those tenants will be dealt with somewhat differently from the tenants on 1923 Act estates. In many cases details of these tenancies in the past were rather meagre. However, we mean to publish lists of Congested Districts Board holdings with such material as is available in the office. In any event, there will be sufficient material in the office to enable us to publish the standard price and the standard purchase annuity. These lists, as I have said, will be published during the course of the next twelve months. Subsequently an inspection will be made and the usual investigations will be carried out. Tenants, of course, are given the right under the Bill to object to the purchase prices fixed in these lists and to the sums corresponding to the annuities mentioned in these lists as well. We are retaining, of course, full power to rearrange and resume holdings. It will be necessary, as Deputies undoubtedly are aware, to resume a number of Congested Districts Board holdings for the purpose of carrying out rearrangement schemes and for the purpose of doing away with rundale lettings that are so common in parts of Mayo, Galway, Sligo, Donegal and, to a lesser extent, in Leitrim. We are retaining all the powers we have had under previous legislation to resume these holdings, for the purpose of carrying out rearrangement schemes on any estates where we consider it necessary to do so.

Deputy O'Connell referred to the position of the Judicial Commissioner, and inquired if there is any appeal to the Supreme Court. I quite admit that under Section 24 of the Act of 1923 there is the right of appeal from the Judicial Commissioner to the Supreme Court on a question of law. There is no such right of appeal under this Bill. That is a matter that I would like the Dáil to discuss more fully on the Committee Stage of this Bill. My reason for altering the procedure in this Bill is that these appeals inevitably mean delay, and as the appeals, perhaps in the majority of cases, would be from tenants, and in some cases from vendors, I personally was not satisfied that it was really necessary, in view of the experience we have had, to continue that right under the new Bill. However, as I say, it is a matter that can be discussed much more fully on the Committee Stage. The whole aim and object of this Bill is to expedite the work right from the source to the very end.

Deputy Fahy appears to doubt that the landlord's income is to be seriously reduced by the operation of this Bill. Perhaps I might quote an example. Take the case of a landlord receiving a rent of £100 in 1923, and who has since been receiving payment in lieu of rent amounting to £75. If the £100 was a judicial rent he will now receive the price of £1,505. At 4½ per cent. it means an annuity of £67 10s. So that Deputy Wolfe's figure was correct.

How is that?

If the judicial rent was fixed after August, 1911, the purchase price would be £1,621.

Has not the price to be calculated so as to give him, at 4½ per cent., 65 per cent. plus 10 per cent.?

It is worked out on that basis. He is getting a further reduction.

If the capital sum is such as will produce, at a certain rate per cent., 65 per cent. plus ten per cent., how can it differ?

Does the Parliamentary Secretary suggest that this Bill will reduce the landlord's income beyond what his income would be reduced if the 1923 Act was carried out?

Then this Bill does not do any harm to them. It simply expedites the operation of the 1923 Act.

That is the 1923 Act procedure. This Bill does not alter that procedure nor does it interfere with the vendor's income except in so far as to make provision to retain ten per cent. of the purchase money as a guarantee deposit. Of course the vendor, under the Bill, is entitled to get interest on that deposit until it is paid out by order of the Judicial Commissioner.

I presume the Parliamentary Secretary will admit that the 1923 Act was to vest the land and get the reduction for the tenant, so that the only injustice to the landlord is that the tenant is getting the advantage of the 1923 Act?

That is so.

He is in no better position than when he was getting the payment in lieu of rent.

I do not think there is any other point with which it is necessary to deal. All the other points raised can be discussed in detail on the Committee Stage. I have only dealt with the main points, the really essential points, and I assume that the appropriate stage to discuss the other points, which relate to details in different sections and sub-sections, would be the Committee Stage.

Question put and agreed to; Committee Stage to be taken on Thursday, 5th March.