Before Deputy O'Reilly resumes his speech, I should like to raise a point of order. I pointed out yesterday that this new section, which stands in the name of the Parliamentary Secretary, introduces a new principle. I submit that according to the ruling given by the Ceann Comhairle on Wednesday—which I do not happen to have by me, as the Official Reporters have not got it at the moment—this new section is entirely outside the scope of the Bill. If the Parliamentary Secretary desired to have this new principle of compensation for disturbance introduced, it should have been included in the Bill before the Second Reading was passed. It is an entirely new principle—a principle which we do not find in either the 1923 or the 1927 Act. I submit that it is totally out of order to discuss it.
Public Business. - Land Bill, 1930—Committee (Resumed).
The Deputy's point is that it introduces a new principle?
Yes. That principle is the fixing of compensation for disturbance and also for damage. In fact, I might go further and say that this new section is in contravention of Section 40 which we have just passed because Section 40 gives to the Land Commission the same powers of resumption as far as this Bill is concerned, as they already have in respect of the 1923 Act for holdings under that Act. What are those powers of resumption? According to Section 29 sub-section (3) of the Land Act of 1923:—
On any application by the Land Commission for or in connection with the resumption of a holding, the powers of the court under Section 5 of the Land Law (Ireland) Act, 1881, shall be exercised exclusively by the Judicial Commissioner whose decision shall be final. The compensation payable to the tenant shall be fixed on the basis on which resumption prices have heretofore been fixed under the said section and in fixing the price the Judicial Commissioner may have regard to payments made by the tenant to the Land Commission under this Act.
I think it is quite clear, according to the section we passed last night, which follows Section 29 of the 1923 Act, that compensation in the case of resumption must be based upon Section 5 of the Land Law Act of 1881. The effect of that section is to apply that resumption price, based upon the 1881 Act, to this Bill. I submit that this new section is entirely out of order because it introduces an entirely new principle on the Committee Stage. If it should be decided to allow it and if it be carried, I submit that it negatives the proceeding of last night—that it negatives Section 40 of this Bill and Section 5 of the Land Law Act. It introduces an entirely new principle in the matter of compensation. It is not even an increase of compensation; it is an entirely new principle of compensation. Any compensation which has hitherto been granted has been based on the value of the land, including the improvements on the land, which I think is perfectly reasonable. This section introduces compensation for disturbance and damage. I fail to see how anybody can contend that that principle came within the Second Reading of this measure or within the scope of the Bill. I submit that it is out of order.
I have not the Act with me, but I think it will be found that the Judicial Commissioner, when dealing with matters of this sort, is instructed to take into consideration all the factors of the case. These two heads are factors of the case even though they had not a separate and distinct title before. The Judicial Commissioner must take into consideration all the factors of the case. Disturbance and damage are factors in the case.
If they are factors in the case and if the Judicial Commissioner has power to take them into account, what is the necessity for this new section at all? I submit that the only object of this section is to create an entirely new principle. If the provision is there already, there is no necessity for the section. In any event, the fact that the section was only brought in as an amendment shows that even the Parliamentary Secretary did not regard it as belonging to the Bill in the first instance. I submit that in bringing it forward now he has ruled himself out.
On the point of order, I do not agree with the Deputy that the proposed amendment introduces a new principle. It is merely an extension of the principle contained in Section 40, which was passed by the House last night. The amendment is, I would suggest to the Deputy, in a category similar to the amendment offered by him in regard to turbary and the maintenance of embankments. The Deputy's amendment which we discussed last night is on a par with the amendment now before the House, because the Deputy's amendment was an extension of the principle contained in a section already in the Bill. This amendment was considered carefully. I am satisfied that it does not introduce a new principle, but is merely an extension of the principle contained in Section 40. The amendment is in order.
I should like to know how this amendment can be deemed to be an extension of the principle. I say that the principle of compensation for disturbance and damage is an entirely new principle and is not contained in the Bill. If it is in the Bill, will Deputy Gorey show me where it is?
I have not got the Bill.
Why is the Deputy talking, then? I suggest that there is no analogy between the amendment I proposed as regards turbary and this particular amendment.
From the point of view of order, there is.
If we agree that a new principle of compensation can be introduced on Committee Stage, where is the procedure going to stop? What is the justification for ruling out compensation to evicted tenants or any other form of compensation? I cannot see where we are going to draw the line if we admit the principle. The principle, as it stands in Section 40, is quite clear. We apply to this Act the same powers of resumption as the Land Commission had under the Act of 1923, neither taking from them nor adding to them. The new section, however, introduces a new principle altogether, and I submit, A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, with due respect to your ruling, that this amendment is out of order.
I do not agree that compensation is the principle. That is where we differ. The question of resumption is the principle. Therefore, I am ruling that this is merely an extension of the principle contained in Section 40, and is in order.
The fact that it is a question of resumption does not necessarily mean that because an amendment deals with resumption it is to be ruled as being within the scope of this Bill. If that were so, I can assure the House that I would have had a number of amendments dealing with the matter. I felt, however, on account of the ruling of the Ceann Comhairle, and from conversation I had with him on this matter, that any amendment of the 1923 Act or other Acts, except such amendments as came within the scope of the Second Reading of this measure, were absolutely precluded. Before you, A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, could rule that this amendment is in order, you would have to satisfy yourself that it came within the scope of the Bill as read a second time.
I have already told the Deputy that this matter was considered very carefully. I am satisfied that this amendment does not introduce a new principle—that it is merely an extension of the principle contained in Section 40. I am, therefore, satisfied that it is in order.
There was a very long debate here yesterday about State funds. The Parliamentary Secretary said last night that portion of this money is to come from State funds. That point did not enter into the Second Reading of the Bill at all. The Parliamentary Secretary stated that some of the compensation is to come out of State funds. That was not mentioned in the Bill, which does not provide State funds for any purpose whatsoever. It is put in as an amendment to the Bill and I maintain that if that amendment is going to be in order, the amendments that have been already ruled out of order are far more entitled to consideration. I say that the two amendments I brought in are far more within the scope of the Bill than is this amendment which introduces an entirely new principle.
The Deputy's point about State funds does not arise at all. The point is covered by the Money Resolution. I have ruled that the amendment is in order.
In connection with these points of order, might I suggest that the Committee on Procedure and Privileges should endeavour to draw up some criteria by which ordinary members of the Dáil can tell generally whether a certain amendment is or is not in accordance with the principle of the Bill? The Committee might be able to draw up some criteria by which we would be able to determine what is covered by the principle in the Second Reading. At the present time we are absolutely in the hands of the Chair, and it is difficult when preparing amendments to know what is likely to be ruled out, and what is not. Deputy Derrig has stated that if he thought resumption was in accordance with the principle he would have put down amendments under that heading. It is only accidentally that we now hear resumption is the principle.
I have no objection to the Committee on Procedure and Privileges considering the general question, but I suggest that it would be almost impossible for any Committee to lay down any general principle.
What is the principle on which my amendments have been ruled out?
The Committee will proceed with the consideration of amendment 80, and Deputy O'Reilly will resume the debate.
Last night I pointed out that this new section would embrace more than one farm. Two, three or four farms could be embraced in it. Therefore, the section seems to be a very wide one. I do not know what is in the mind of the Minister for Lands and Fisheries—whether his intention is to establish a certain security of tenure which the 1923 Land Act did away with, or whether it is his intention to slow up the division of land. In these cases, as far as I know, there was an appeal to the Judicial Commissioner, who at times ruled out the Land Commission because certain outlying farms were absolutely necessary to keep the home farm economic. For that reason I find that in certain cases he prevented the distribution of land. This section seems to be strange, and the results will certainly be strange. Yesterday and the day before we were discussing the point that the tenants should get portion of the 10 per cent., and towards the end of the Bill we proceed very deliberately to take steps to ensure that the tenants who will get land under these conditions will, of course, lose a certain amount, because the compensation naturally will have to be paid by the State, and the tenant in his annuities will have to return it.
If the amendment could be made a little more reserved it would certainly be a benefit in certain cases, and there are certain cases, I do not doubt, which deserve an amount of benefit. I believe that serious abuses could arise that might indeed hamper, to a large extent, the division of land. Tenanted land, the land referred to under these conditions, is in some counties very general, and the acreage would be certainly considerable. Some of that land was acquired by the owners under peculiar conditions. Some of those owners would have very large tracts of land. There is hardly any doubt about is that it would protect certain classes of land owners who were probably the most determined exterminators of tenants. The other class of tenant that it would embrace is the man who deserves a good deal of assistance and protection. It might possibly ensure that one of these days we might be able to decide in each county what an economic farm is. It might be possible to arrive at that stage. There are such things as economic farms. Each county may demand a certain acreage, and I do not believe that for the general community it would be a good policy to do away with that under present economic conditions.
The objection I have to this particular section is that it is too wide and it will undo a great deal of what the 1923 Act set out to do. It certainly seems to confuse very much the issue in this particular Bill, because there is hardly a doubt about it that compensation under certain conditions is very deserving, but at the same time the tenants will have to pay that compensation to people who do not deserve it. If it could be clearly defined, and if we could ensure that the people who would be entitled to compensation for disturbance would get the compensation we would not have such an objection. The section is stuck in it in such a peculiar manner that it is difficult exactly to understand what the implications would be. Those are my main objections to it, and for that reason I could not agree to accept a section of this description.
There are very grave issues raised in this Bill and, in fact, in all the Bills we have had before us dealing with land. Some of the meanings of certain phrases have not come to the surface. There can be no confusion at this stage between tenanted and untenanted land. Untenanted land stood on the same level with regard to the landlord's rights as tenanted land. The status given them and the price paid were laid down since the first Land Act in 1881. All Land Acts since then that have dealt with the landlords' interests have been run on the same lines. The whole problem will be finished through the operations of previous Acts. If it is not actually finished at the moment it will be. Now a new problem arises dealing with the question of tenanted land. I would like to know if there is any question as to the principle of tenant right and free sale and the property tenants have acquired in tenanted land. If there is not a question about that, then we are going altogether on a different basis of value than we have been going on. First of all, the judicial rent represented the landlord's interest, and the annuity represented the price of his interest. In addition to that there was always the tenant right.
We have in this Bill, and we had in every other Bill, the words "open market." As a matter of fact, the Land Commission never bought in the open market. The market was their own and they had no competitors. The standard of values must be the same in all counties. There is no use talking about the standard in one county and the standard in another county. This State is too small to be divided into twenty-six sections. It is one State, and the Westmeath or the Meath standard will have to be the standard in all other counties. The mere fact of having a border-line or a stream or something else should not be any protection. The old idea will have to be done away with once and for all; we must get rid of the little quibbles about county standards. The open market has one meaning only, and that is unfettered public sale by auction. That is the meaning of the phrase, if it has any meaning at all. If that is not the intention with regard to some classes of tenanted land, let it be so stated, and let there be no quibbling about it. If the phrase "open market" has any meaning let its full meaning be expressed and fully understood. If the House thinks otherwise it is the duty of the House to state at what point there ought or ought not to be an open market, and we will then know where we are. I have no objection to what the House does, but in this matter the House should be quite plain and candid. There must be no confusion of thought with regard to tenanted and untenanted land.
The speeches that were made yesterday evening raised issues that have brought me to my feet to-day. I refer especially to the speech made by Deputy Clery. Perhaps unwittingly he questioned why should not the individual about to get possession of tenanted land be responsible for the full price and not the State. That remark was applauded by members of his own Party, perhaps again without adverting to the full significance of his statement. What the Deputy meant was that the price to the incoming tenant would be such that it would be economic; in other words, the problem would have to be solved at the cost of the outgoing tenant. The whole point centres round the question whether that is the problem of the individual in possession or the problem of the State. If it is the problem of the State, who is going to pay the cost, who will make the sacrifices? Would Deputy Flinn disagree with that? Deputy Flinn gave us a speech in his usual Horace Wheatley style—the professional funny man. It would be just as well to say that the settling of the land problem in Ireland is the sole business of the men who own landed property. We might as well say that Deputy Flinn, who has retired from business I understand, should at some time place the people engaged in the particular trade with which he was concerned on an economic level. If the principle is allowed at all it would be the duty of Deputy Flinn in his particular sphere to settle problems at the expense of his own investments.
I say that the land problem in Ireland cannot be settled at the expense of the individual who is over a certain level—whatever you call an economic level, let it be 100 acres or 200 acres. It is the problem of the State and every citizen of the State, and it is equally the problem of the business man, whether he derives his income from business or investments. Let that sink in, and let there be no doubt at all about it.
It is all very well in the case of an individual who has tenanted land over a certain economic level if he goes into the open market of his own volition. The position is altogether different in the case of the man who is forced to part with his land and to upset his family intentions. He may be a man with a young family, and if he is forced to abandon those intentions his position is altogether different to that of the man who goes on the market of his own volition. I submit that once you force a person to dispose of property at your price, then you do something that certainly does not come within the description of going on the open market. These matters may be treated in a light vein, but they raise issues of the utmost importance. It is well, I think, that we should have a full-dress debate with regard to policy for the future. As I said before, the problem of finding land for deserving people in this State is not one for the individual. It is not at his individual cost and sacrifice that the problem should be settled. If the State embarks on a thing which it believes to be good for the State, then it must pay the price, and of course every individual in the State will have to bear his share of that.
The open market means something that we have not been acquainted with as regards the acquisition of land by the Land Commission. The open market means holding an auction and selling to the highest bidder. He is the man to get the property. So far the Land Commission have never gone on the open market. They have never bought land in open competition. That principle has been carried out in legislation up to the present. If it is to be altered now, and personally I may say that I have no objection to its being altered, then let us say so and put it in black and white in the Bill. Let the phrase have a special meaning and let it be acted up to. In some of the counties that I know well personally, such as Wexford, Cork and Kilkenny, the Land Commission have not gone into the open market.
I quite admit that the price that land fetched in the open market in Kilkenny, Cork, Wexford and Carlow was a price that the incoming tenant, faced with his other liabilities, including the annuity the land was already bearing, could not be expected to pay. The private individual will pay down his money, or, if he is not able to do that, will get accommodation from the bank and, in addition, will shoulder the annuity. The incoming tenant, if he is a landless man, will not be able to pay down any money. He has no credit at the bank to enable him to pay an open price. If he cannot do that, then it is the duty of the State to do it, that is, if it is the policy of the State to come to the point of giving him assistance in shouldering the burden. The price in Kilkenny or in Wexford is a different thing altogether from the price in Westmeath or Meath. I would like to know what the policy of the Opposition is with regard to this? It is about time, I think, that it was clearly stated. For the moment I will say no more, but will await a statement from the Opposition as to what their policy is on this.
To my mind the amendment we are asked to support is one of the greatest drawbacks to this Bill. We were charged throughout the country with introducing into this House a Land Bill which was not perfect. If it was not, it could have been perfected by amendment in Committee. That could have been done by the Government Party, who have talked so much on this, as well as by the Party on this side. But what would have been said of us if we introduced a Bill which we claimed to be perfect—the Government claim this Bill to be perfect—and came along afterwards with an amendment, such as we are discussing now, to make the measure imperfect and kill any good there was in it for the non-vested tenant and uneconomic holder. We have an amendment to this Bill which says that the court in fixing compensation in respect of the holdings to be resumed, for distribution I presume, may include therein compensation for the tenant for disturbance and may have regard, not only to the value of the land to be resumed, but also to the damage, if any, which will be sustained by the tenant by reason of the resumption of the lands as affecting his user of other lands.
To my mind that amendment proposes to kill to a great extent the little good there is in this rotten Land Bill. If such an amendment had been introduced from this side of the House you would have had Deputy Gorey, the Parliamentary Secretary and other Deputies on the opposite side who stand and work for the landlords' interests, getting up and charging us with incompetency, with not being able to manage our own Bill and with being frightened at the perfection of it—telling us that we were introducing an amendment to kill any good that was in it. Deputy Gorey now wants to know what our policy is. It is not Deputy Gorey's policy anyhow. It is not the grazier's policy.
That is getting behind it. My policy is not the policy of the grazier.
Our policy is to care for the non-vested tenants and the uneconomic holders: to look after their interest and not the interest of the grazier or the grabber, for whom this amendment specially caters. If our policy was to look after the grazier and the grabber we would not be on this side of the House. We would be on the other side with Deputy Gorey.
Face the issue now.
No argument has been put forward by the Parliamentary Secretary, who knows something about the position and who, I am charitable enough to assume, has no ulterior motive in supporting the amendment. But he has been driven to support it by Deputy Gorey and men of the Deputy Gorey type. We have not beard a word from Cumann na nGaedheal Deputies representing constituencies in the West of Ireland, Deputies representing non-vested tenants and uneconomic holders, on this amendment. We have not heard their point of view. We have not heard a word from Cumann na nGaedheal Deputies from Clare and from other counties where congestion really exists, in the counties where the graziers are to be specially catered for and pampered by this amendment. They are to be given extra compensation in addition to the value of the land taken over from them.
We have not heard a word from Deputies representing those counties in which congestion exists. We would like to hear their opinion before a vote is taken on the amendment. Deputy Gorey talks about having no boundary as regards the price of land. Might I ask the Deputy if he will have any objection to migrants and uneconomic landholders from the County Mayo being planted beside him on some of his farms in the County Kilkenny at a price which will be economic to them?
The amount of land that I hold would not give twenty acres to each member of my family.
The Deputy must not interrupt Deputy Clery.
Deputy Gorey is getting flustered now when the interests of the grazier, whom he represents, are being attacked. We all know what the landlord did, what the grazier did, and what men like Deputy Gorey himself did in the olden days, but now he will not allow Deputies, who know well what these classes did, to speak at all. When Land Bills are introduced here Deputy Gorey's sold interest is to see that the grabber and the grazier are paid well for their grabbing. He does not mind if the State has to pay extra compensation to the grabber or grazier. If the Deputy wants to know it, that is not our policy. The people who have been victimised are our first care. The grabber and the grazier, for whom this amendment caters, are not, in our opinion, being victimised.
There seems to be a great fear here that some injury or harm will be done to a grabber or grazier holding 200, 300 or 400 acres of land, if that land is taken over from him by the Land Commission and divided amongst congests in the locality. There is great fear by Deputy Gorey that such people will be victimised, that they will not get, in addition to the value of the land, a huge amount of money. There is to be no limit to the amount of money to be paid when you are fixing a price for disturbance. Deputy Gorey is afraid that the individual concerned will not be attended to first and foremost. The Deputy does not care whether it is the incoming tenant or the State that will have to pay, but we have a lot of care that neither the incoming tenant nor the State should pay the extra compensation to the grabber or the grazier. They surely are not a first charge on this State. They are not the people to whom this House should be responsible.
This is a land problem and not a grazier's problem. It is one that affects the Irish people. If Deputy Gorey is so anxious to go all out to give extra compensation to graziers and grabbers when their land is being taken over for division amongst uneconomic landholders will he have no care or interest at all for the descendants of the people from whom the land was grabbed? Are these descendants not to be compensated for having had to live, many of them, in a state of poverty, penury and starvation during the last fifty years, during all that time when the graziers and the grabbers prospered beside them on the land of their forefathers?
If Deputy Gorey has no interest in these people, are there no members in the Cumann na nGaedheal Party who have an interest in the non-vested no members from Roscommon, Mayo, Sligo, Donegal, or Clare sitting on the Cumann na nGaedheal Benches who have an interest in the non-vested tenant and uneconomic holder? Is Deputy Gorey to be the only spokesman on the Cumann na nGaedheal Benches? Is the only voice to be raised from the Cumann na nGaedheal Benches to be a voice in defence of graziers and grabbers at the expense of the descendants of the evicted tenants of the country? I think the Deputies representing the counties in which you have congests should not let the grabber or the grazier from Kilkenny or any other county get away with that on a Land Bill before this House.
I think it is up to those Deputies who represent the western counties in which you have non-vested tenants and uneconomic landholders on a Bill such as this to show up Deputy Gorey and men of his type and say: "We do not represent graziers, grabbers, or landlords." If Deputies who represent counties in which there are congests, uneconomic holders and the descendants of evicted tenants were wise enough they have sufficient representation in this House, in all parts of it, to stand up in the interests of their people and prevent this amendment being carried and make the Bill a little bit more perfect than it otherwise will be.
There was an amendment before the House yesterday which proposed to give some compensation for actual losses: to tenants who have suffered these losses owing to the slow methods of the Land Commission over the past five or six years or longer in vesting holdings. We had an amendment proposing to compensate these tenants for actual losses. Their actual losses are estimated to be practically £300,000. That is the amount of the losses sustained by some of the smallest tenants in the country, people living in the most thickly-populated and congested—as regards land—areas in the West of Ireland.
We had an amendment to give some compensation to those people for the actual losses they have sustained. What did Deputy Gorey do? We did not hear him cry out that what had been done to these people was a great wrong and that compensation should be given to them for their actual losses. No. Instead, he dragged the Cumann na nGaedheal Party into the Lobby after him to vote against giving any compensation to these congests who have suffered these actual losses owing to the slowness of the Land Commission in vesting their holdings. Deputy Gorey did not propose to compensate them at the expense of the State. In his opinion it would be a burden on the State; it would be a loss of public money or, as President Cosgrave said, it would not be getting pound value for pound spent.
What was Deputy Gorey's attitude on that amendment? He dragged President Cosgrave and his Party into the Lobby to vote against and defeat the amendment. In the case of this amendment which we are discussing, to compensate graziers and grabbers in the future, to give them compensation, in addition to the value of their land, for disturbance, is Deputy Gorey going to drag the members of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party with him into the Lobby to carry it? Is he going to drag in with him the men in President Cosgrave's Party, the men who go round on Sundays shedding crocodile tears at the cross-roads about congests, the men who write letters to the local papers in the West of Ireland telling how they are going to press for the vesting of holdings and for a speeding up of the work of the Land Commission, of how they are going to have the Appointed Day at last and that justice is about to be done to the uneconomic holders and non-vested tenants? Are they going to dry up their crocodile tears and follow him into the Lobby and vote this compensation for the grabber and the grazier? Where do those members of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party stand?
Deputy Gorey asks us for our policy. Let charity begin at home. Let the members of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party who come from the West of Ireland state their policy. They go down to their own constituencies and tell the congests there of all that they are going to do for them: to get the work of the Land Commission speeded up and secure land for division amongst them at an economic price. Are they going to change that policy to-day and replace it by the policy of Deputy Gorey, which is the policy of the grazier? Let us have a statement from some of the leaders on the opposite side who are not as dumb as some of the Deputies sitting there from my own county. If there is a free man sitting on the benches opposite, a free man representing the congests in the West of Ireland, let him tell us what his policy is. Will Deputy Conlon, if he is a free man, tell us what his policy is? Will he tell us if the policy of Deputy Gorey is one that will suit the congests in the County Roscommon? If there is to be no boundary, as Deputy Gorey has asked, in settling this question, then I suggest that the boundary must be extended through the strings which Deputy Gorey is running through the Party opposite. Let Deputy Gorey draw in his strings which bind those members of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party who represent congests in the West and South.
I ask them to make their policy the policy of the congests and not the policy that suits the Deputy Gorey type or the graziers. Deputy Gorey says that we are simply beating the air, that what is proposed in this amendment is already provided for— that the Judicial Commissioners are to decide what price is to be given for the land. Now, if it is already provided that the Judicial Commissioners are to fix the price of land, what is the use of this amendment? According to Deputy Gorey's statement to-day the Judicial Commissioners when fixing the price of land—land of the kind intended to be covered by this amendment—always provide in the price compensation for disturbance to the outgoing grazier. If that is so, why bring in this amendment? If that is a fact, we who are up against the Land Commission methods in the West of Ireland realise that they have paid a price for land which is in excess of its value and are charging the tenants to whom the land is being given a price that they can never succeed in paying.
They may for the first few years; that is so, in the West of Ireland. If this amendment is to be passed, a higher price is to be given to the grazier, and a higher price must therefore be charged on the incoming tenant. The result will be that you will have a lot of graziers who are at present finding it difficult to work their land under the grazing system, rushing to the Land Commission with offers of land. The Land Commission will take it over at a price the congests cannot afford to pay or that the State cannot afford to carry on its shoulders. You will have the division of land held up to a greater extent than at present if this amendment is carried. I am afraid that Deputies on the opposite benches will vote for the amendment without knowing what they are doing. The great objection I have to Deputies on the opposite benches, is not that they are against me, but that they have too blind a trust in the Deputy Goreys of the Front Bench Party who are tied down to the landlords.
Deputies on the opposite benches should read the amendments before they vote for them. Very few Deputies on the opposite benches have either read the amendments or the Bill. They have thought it wise to stay out of this House while one of the most important Bills is being considered. Deputy Gorey and other members have no interest in the people who have to go to England to earn a livelihood instead of living at home on land which has been grabbed by men of the Deputy Gorey type. The most important Bill is one which deals with congests of that type. Are Cumann na nGaedheal Deputies going allow this to go through in the manner Deputy Gorey wants? In a famous play by George Bernard Shaw, "John Bull's Other Island," it is stated that when the Irish landlord went a worse type of Irishman would come in. A worse type than the landlord is the type of Deputy Gorey who rules this House. George Bernard Shaw was right, but we never thought we would find an Irish Parliament putting into operation the prophecies of George Bernard Shaw. We never thought we would find Deputies from Donegal, Clare and Kerry marching into the Lobby with Deputy Gorey to put that prophecy into effect.
This is one of the most important amendments in this Bill, and before it is passed we would like that the Cumman na nGaedheal Deputies would simply know what they are doing. The West of Ireland is a part of this country which is affected mostly by Bills of this kind. We have there at present very many men who can be described as graziers, with farms of land from 200 acres upwards. Although Deputy Gorey may not be aware of this, a man in the County Mayo with 200 acres is naturally looked upon as a grazier, as a man who ought not to be in the county. Deputy Gorey, who has 200 acres already in Kilkenny, may be looked upon as an ordinary small farmer. If Deputy Gorey were living in Mayo instead of Kilkenny he would be driven out, and rightly so, by the peasantry. Therefore he knows nothing at all about conditions in other parts of the Free State. It is different entirely in Kilkenny, where he can go around as a small farmer and not as a man who would be driven out by men who were really small farmers. The West of Ireland therefore is in a different position from Kilkenny, Meath or other counties, in which Deputy Gorey is so much interested. There are many large farms in the County Mayo of 200 acres and upwards affected by this amendment, and am I to take it that calmly and coolly to-day the Cumann na nGaedheal Deputies are to go in and vote for an amendment here which is to raise the price still more that is to be paid to graziers in the County Mayo for the farms taken over from them and that they will accept an amendment of this kind which will place an extra burden on congests in the County Mayo? I hardly believe they will do that. Bad and all as the Cumann na nGaedheal representatives from Mayo are, or may be, they have to face the congests of Mayo once in a while, and in spite of themselves they have to think of their interests once in a while. I think that the people of County Mayo who are on the Cumann na nGaedheal Benches cannot conscientiously go in and vote for this amendment. I am surprised that this amendment will be defended to its full by the Parliamentary Secretary, who represents Sligo. I honestly believe that if any pressure were brought to bear on the Parliamentary Secretary, who represents Sligo, by three or four members of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party he would withdraw this amendment. If he does not withdraw this amendment then he deserves to be put out of the front benches now by the Cumann na nGaedheal Party. He deserves to be defeated on this amendment.
The members of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party who represent Sligo and Mayo are under no compliment to the Parliamentary Secretary or the Government. The Government have done very little in this land question in Mayo that is laudable. I cannot see why on this amendment they will not oppose it or force the Parliamentary Secretary to withdraw it. If there were one unfortunate happening with regard to this Bill it was the introduction of this amendment. It is the only contribution the Minister for Lands has given to this Bill. This is a landlord's amendment, a grazier's amendment, and I would ask Cumann na nGaedheal Deputies who represent congested counties to ignore Deputy Gorey and Deputies of his type and by their votes make the Minister for Lands realise that if his amendment was kept out it would leave this Land Bill a little better than what it would be if it were passed.
I am afraid that Deputy Clery's appeal to Cumann na nGaedheal representatives to take independent action in this particular amendment is in vain, but certainly there are independent Deputies in this House who pretend to represent the interests of the small farmer and the uneconomic holder. It will be a deciding factor whether this amendment is carried or not, and by their going into the Lobby against this amendment they will finish it for all time. If, on the other hand, they support the Government, as they have done on all the other amendments, then the fate of the uneconomic holder and the fate of the new type of farmer is sealed. I do not pretend to know very much about the draftsmanship of Bills, but I want to know from the Parliamentary Secretary if this amendment means that there is to be a new Section 41 in the Bill, while the present section is to become 41a or 42? If this amendment is to be part of Section 41, then I cannot understand Deputy Gorey's talk about the tenants on the lands concerned, seeing that the title of Section 41 is "untenanted land held under fee farm grant or long lease." The question of tenanted land does not arise unless this is a new section.
What else is it?
If it is a new section, what the Parliamentary Secretary said yesterday in answer to my question, that the section does not apply to land on which there is an annuity, is wrong. If this is a new section, then it applies to all kinds of land. As I stated in reply to Deputy Gorey, one would think that the action of the Land Commission heretofore was to go into ordinary working farms and to take them over for division. We know for a fact that where a grazier in the West of Ireland has five, six, or seven separate farms, or where he has ranches in Clare, Galway or Roscommon, before one of these ranches is taken the owner is provided with land in Co. Meath, Co. Westmeath, or Co. Kildare. That has been the practice in the Land Commission, so that Deputy Gorey's fears about residential farms are groundless.
I was not talking about residential farms or any other farms.
The Deputy was talking about tenanted land all the time. I would like to know what Deputy Gorey means by tenanted land. A whole county might belong to one man, and most of the land could be tenanted land. Does Deputy Gorey suggest that because land is tenanted there should be no interference with it?
Nothing of the sort. Interfere if you like even with five or ten acres. Deputy Clery cannot get away with it in that way. I do not care what the limit is.
All Deputy Gorey's talk was about the open market. The Deputy seems to forget that the basis of all Land Acts prior to this one was that the system of land tenure was one of grab and eviction; where the peasantry were driven off the land by force, and, according to statutes that were in force for over 200 years, could not hold a considerable quantity of land, but were confined to the bogs and the mountains.
I am the son of an evicted tenant.
Why is Deputy Gorey so much concerned that a person who has grabbed an evicted farm should get a price over and above what he is getting from the Land Commission?
I am not a bit concerned about that.
Was not the Deputy's whole concern that the price given by the Land Commission is not enough, and that the land should be put up in the open market? The Deputy cannot say one thing now, having said the opposite five minutes ago. Is it right that, for land which is to be taken over in order to right certain wrongs, the highest possible penny should be paid? Is the person who is going to get that land to be considered at all? Everyone knows that, in fact, the price paid by the Land Commission is equal to the price obtained in the open market. The price given by the Land Commission after the passing of the 1923 Act was over and above what the tenants could pay. Take land around Kells which was taken over. No one can live on it, because it worked out at over £2 an acre when divided. That land has again become a ranch. Yet that price does not satisfy Deputy Gorey, who talks about the open market.
[Professor Thrift took the Chair.]
Let the State step in and give it for nothing if you like. It is a job for the State.
I want to be clear about this. If this is going to be Section 41 then the question of tenanted land does not arise. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary will say if it is to be a new section?
It is to be a new section. That is stated on the Order Paper.
I contended yesterday, and I contend now, that the Land Commission can take over land on which there is already an annuity. Where that has occurred the practice has been that the price given is over and above the market value. The question of compensation for disturbance which is dealt with here does not arise now, seeing that the owners are well provided for by the Land Commission and by the Judicial Commissioner. Deputy Clery asked for an expression of opinion from Independent Deputies. I ask for an expression of opinion from the so-called Independent Deputies and from those who pretend to represent the small farmers. Are they going to march as they did on Wednesday and yesterday, behind the Cumann na nGaedheal Party, bound with the subscriptions of the landlords and the Unionists towards their election funds? Are the so-called Independent Deputies going to march into the Lobby and vote for this landlords' amendment?
As one of the Independent members I will give my views on this matter. Personally, although I think the criticism of this amendment may be honest, I am afraid there has been a great deal of misdirection of arguments on the points at issue. It seems to have been overlooked that the fundamental basis of the amendment is where it would appear inequitable. It seems to be accepted by most Deputies that this is an amendment to be used generally in dealing with the resumption of holdings. I take it on the reading of the amendment that it can only come into operation when the court thinks it is inequitable to do a certain thing. For my part, I have faith enough in the courts that will be set up to decide questions of equity. I have no fear that this thing is going to be generally used, but if a case arises where it would be inequitable to use the ordinary machinery, then there should be some machinery to make the thing equitable. Consequently, I support the amendment.
I can conceive some cases in which this section would be a very good one if it were confined, say, to the resumption of ordinary holdings in congested areas with a view to making these holdings available for the enlargement of small uneconomic holdings in the district and if it referred solely to ordinary farmers. I mean ordinary farmers in a congested area with a holding of 40 or 50 acres. These would be considered comparatively large holdings. If the Land Commission in their desire to relieve congestion undertook to remove a number of these farmers from the congested areas into other districts, then I could well understand that it would be only equitable and right that these farmers should get such compensation as is outlined here —consequential loss, cost of removal, etc.,—which would enable these farmers to take up farming in other parts of the country, as without such assistance the removing of such farmers for the relief of congestion would be impracticable. If this section were confined to that class of people, and if that were the purpose, I would strongly support it and consider it a very good one and very advisable.
The section however appears to me to be very wide, and to open up a wide range of possibilities that will have anything but beneficial effects. I am in agreement with it up to the point I have described, if it is confined to ordinary farmers, and their removal from congested areas with a view to enlarging congested farms in that area. Clearly there is a case, where public money should be made available to remove the blot of congestion. This section is not confined to that. It is open to the widest interpretation. Let us visualise the situation that has arisen in the congested areas recently, where, in the division of untenanted land, people have got what can be regarded as substantial allotments of land, 60, 100 and 150 acres. These farms were given by the Land Commission to people who were not ordinary farmers, people who are not using their land in the ordinary way that farmers use it. If, at a later date, it is considered that these men should be removed from these holdings, which they got from the Land Commission without the payment of any money in some cases, and in other cases for the payment of a comparatively small sum, it will mean that they will receive compensation on the basis of the value of the land, and in addition, compensation for the cost of removal and consequential loss. What really happened is that a few years ago when the Land Commission acquired untenanted or ranch land from the landlord, and divided it as they purported to, in the interests of the farmers, they actually created a new set of landlords, who in their turn will receive further compensation, and all this will mean additional charges piled up on the new tenants when the land is again divided.
We have another section of farmers to whom this will be a Godsend. We have the large grazier, who perhaps holds three or four or five farms. Each one of these may be regarded as substantially an economic farm. If it is decided that the Land Commission should acquire one or two of these outlying farms, they will be taken, not on the basis of the actual value but on the actual value plus compensation for the inconvenience and loss which the taking of one of these farms may mean to the holder of a number of farms.
Take the case of an ordinary farmer who has 30 acres of land, with ten acres in meadow, five in tillage, and the remainder used for grazing. If the Land Commission took the five acres of tillage, clearly that man could make a case that would justify a very substantial price being paid for these five acres, because they form part of what went to make his holding an economic one and the taking of them would prevent the possibility of continuing a particular branch of his industry. That would undoubtedly warrant substantial compensation, beyond what would be considered the actual value of the piece of land standing by itself. In a similar way this section will have the effect of attaching to a substantial farm that forms part of a chain of farms in the hands of the same owner a price far beyond the actual value. In that way, when taken over by the Land Commission, that land will be made an uneconomic proposition for the incoming tenant.
Then again there is the danger arising from this that people may become jobbers in land. At present in many parts of the country land is un-saleable. Speculators with this prospect in view may buy up this land, and a demand may be made on the Land Commission to take it over at a later date, when they will have to pay not the actual value, but the actual value plus consequential loss for the inconvenience of removal. This is a very dangerous section, which can be interpreted in a wide sense, as it stands here. I say that there has been grave injury done to many people who got farms from the Land Commission in the past because the annuity on these farms was too high. If that has been so in the past, with this additional cost added on to the land in future, the farms will become quite uneconomic and will ultimately become a burden on the State. If it is necessary that the State should provide land for people in the congested areas, the State should be prepared to bear a portion of the cost and pay to the ordinary economic landholder such compensation for his removal as will leave him at no loss. But to extend this to people who have a very doubtful title to land is going too far and is asking the State to expend public money for the advantage of that type of people who have really no claim, or a very bad one, on the State. That will ultimately react in a very injurious way on the people.
That would happen unless a clause or section were included if that were possible which I suppose it would be to the effect that the Court of Inquiry determining the price or value of the land, should have regard as to how the owner acquired that land and should take into consideration the price the owner paid for it. I am not referring now to an ordinary farmer. I am referring to the landlord type who acquired his land in a very unjust way and I am, also, referring to those business people who buy land and hold it very extensively, and use it for the purpose of grazing cattle and as a commercial asset, with no actual benefit to the community. Investigation should be made as to how they acquired that land, and the price at which they bought it. Having regard to that I think the price in many cases would be very small. But to deal with the holders of all land as if they were morally and justly the owners of the land would be, if this section is passed, to inflict a very unjust handicap upon future tenants, and would result in great economic pressure upon this State because the price of this land under the conditions would be uneconomical, and the land would not be able to bear the cost that would ultimately be placed upon it. I consider this section as introduced to be too wide and will oppose it.
I would like to know, from the Parliamentary Secretary, the reason why this new section did not appear in the Bill as first printed and, also, what causes led him to bring it in now. Was it because when he first intimated his intention of bringing it in the members of his own Party who are representatives of economic holders and others, would not allow the section to appear in the Bill? What pressure was brought upon the Parliamentary Secretary to bring in this new section now? I sympathise with those Deputies whom I saw clearing out of the House in shame one after the other and leaving nobody on their benches but hardened old sinners. I apologise to those Deputies opposite who remained and who are not hardened sinners.
This section is going to do one or two things. It is going to completely hold up the division of land or it is going to complete a very vicious circle. I shall deal with a vicious circle to which I have alluded first. Those of us who are farmers, and who have anything to do with agriculture, know that it is practically impossible for a tenant farmer, at the present time, to support himself and his unpaid labour—that is his sons and his daughters—to pay his annuities and his rates. Farmers who have to pay labour find it is more than they can do to live. What would be the position of the unfortunate tenant who gets portion of this land which is taken over. First of all, the annuity will be there to be paid; secondly, added to the ordinary annuity there will be the price that the outgoing tenant will get, and thirdly, there is the additional charge in the compensation for disturbance. These three annuities are to be piled up in one and put upon the back of the farmer. What is going to be the result? I have seen it in the case of estates purchased in 1924 and 1925 and divided up. The rent of some of the estates round about would be about 4/6 per acre; the rents of the estates divided up ranged from 15/6 to £1 an acre. A lot of tenants took these lands in 1924 and 1925 in the hope that they would be able to hold out for better times. A large portion of the land remained with the Land Commission, which could not find tenants, and at length there were planted in these areas ex-Army captains with pensions who hoped that with the help of the pensions they could exist on the land. In other words, they wanted a cheap home. By degrees the ordinary tenants are being wiped out on these estates. The annuities are falling on the local rates. Nobody is going to take up this land, and it is being let out on the eleven months system again. The whole district is being turned into a grazing land. That is the completion of the vicious circle, that is definitely what is being brought about by this one landlords' section of the landlords' Bill. I consider if those Deputies were honest who remained to hear a portion of Deputy Clery's speech but ran away in shame, and who will remain out of the House trying to drown their consciences, they should not come back and vote for this amendment afterwards.
I often read with pleasure statements made by some of these Deputies from time to time in the country. I do not believe for a moment, having read portion of Deputy Hassett's speech in Tipperary on the ranches, and knowing his anxiety to have them divided up, that he will go into the lobby in favour of this motion. I would like to hear the views of Deputy Redmond, whose name and that of his father were for long connected with the land, as to what he thinks of the way in which national government should be carried on in this matter. I would like to hear what he thinks of Deputy Gorey, who told us that the whole thing was governed by the Land Act of 1881. The Land Act of 1881 had to be dragged out of the British House of Commons by a one-third minority, which deserved very great credit, against a two-thirds majority. Are we going to accept now what had to be dragged by force, as a kind of compromise, from the British House of Commons by a small minority against a big majority? In dealing with this matter Deputy Gorey was very anxious to know our views. I think he has them now. Who are the gentlemen who are going to be compensated for disturbance? Some of them would be local publicans who amassed a certain share of money and wanted to retire. One of these would look around for some investment for his money, and if some unfortunate farmer beside him was in difficulties and was evicted, the publican, who no longer wanted the support of the public, would then grab the farm. He continued and grabbed another farm. He grabbed a second, a third, and a fourth farm, and rolled them all into one. I have seen that in Westmeath. I have seen little farms of ten and twelve acres beside them, and I have seen the men who were driven out of these farms. I saw it in Leitrim when I was there at a by-election. I have seen it in West Cork and in all parts of the country. I feel it as keenly as others, perhaps more keenly, for my grandfather was driven out of one of those farms by some gentleman from Kilkenny. I do not know whether he was anything to Deputy Gorey or not, but that happened, and it drove my father into the R.I.C. to help to support sixteen others who were younger than himself, until such time as they grew up and hunted the Kilkenny grabber back to Deputy Gorey. Thank God they were able to do it.
Come back to the amendment.
I am keeping absolutely to the amendment. Deputy Gorey states that the standard of Meath and Westmeath is to be the standard for the whole country. It is a rather amazing statement.
I said the Westmeath standard was to be the Mayo standard.
Can we get facilities to ring and tie up this bull?
You need not refer to Deputy Gorey. If you refer to me you will not be interrupted.
I did not refer to Deputy Gorey. I do not like to hear a bull roaring in the House like this. I have seen the conditions in Westmeath. I have seen farms there of 1,000 acres. Deputy Gorey wants the gentlemen in possession of them to be protected, to be put in a position that the land cannot be divided up, or divided up at a price which is beyond the capacity of the incoming tenants. What will happen if this section is allowed in the Bill? The land will be divided. Some men will be fools enough to take it over. The gentleman who has 2,000 acres will get his haul and he will be left with 100 or 200 acres. He will have his money and be prepared to wait. The idiots who are put in on the land will not be able to pay their rent. They will be evicted and the land will be let for grazing on the eleven months system. The former possessor will be able to take it at 10/- or 12/- an acre. That is what is going to happen under this section. I do not agree with Deputy Maguire that some of those congests in small farms in the West will have to be taken out again and compensated. I do not believe for a moment that the Parliamentary Secretary believes it himself. Surely if it was necessary to take one of these small farmers in the West out of 50 acres of land to divide it among congests there is plenty of land in the Free State to give him. If there was any scarcity of land we would not have 361 acres in Co. Tipperary handed over to a District Justice.
On a point of explanation, my suggestion was that it would be easier to compensate an ordinary farmer from whom 50 acres was taken for the enlargement of adjoining holdings in order to enable him to resume farming in another part of the country. My suggestion was not to wipe that man out of business but to remove him to another part of the country in order to make available a certain tract of land for the enlargement of small holdings. That man, if removed to another part of the country, would require some money to enable him to get going again in business.
[An Leas-Cheann Comhairle resumed the Chair.]
That is Deputy Maguire's explanation, but I think that a small farmer who would be taken out of 50 acres would be very well compensated if he got the 361 acres that were given to the District Justice. There is no scarcity of land for these people. If there was, surely the Land Commission would not give 361 acres to a District Justice in Tipperary. I think that this section is introduced for one purpose, and one purpose only. Does anybody think that the grabber who snapped this land in former days is not coming very well out of his grabbing when he gets a tenant interest in that land afterwards? Is he not coming out very well when he afterwards gets the price of the tenant's interest, without paying him extra compensation? I admit there may be some injustice in regard to those to whom Deputy Maguire has alluded if there was not plenty of land for them. But I have pointed out that there is plenty of land. If there was not, this affair in Tipperary would not have happened. On the other hand, if this section had been put into the Bill originally it would have given Deputies an opportunity of safeguarding the type of man to whom Deputy Maguire has alluded, and at the same time it would have given opportunities of providing that gentlemen of the type to whom I have alluded—men who have grabbed farm after farm for nothing and who own these farms at present, would not get these farms at for nothing a second time. I have seen such holdings in Westmeath running up to 2,000 acres. Deputy Gorey has seen them too. There are such farms there. We want to keep that type of individual outside the scope of the Bill. Surely that type of individual has protection enough already? If he is not satisfied with the price paid him he has the Judicial Commissioner, and I think nobody in this House can dare to stand up and say that the Judicial Commissioner is not prepared to show at least as much fair play to that type of man as he would show to the tenant. In fact, it is the other way around, as everybody who has read the proceedings of the Land Commission can see.
The Deputy must not discuss the Judicial Commissioner on this section.
It is time that we, in this House, should know where we stand in regard to these matters.
Yes, so it is.
We want to know whether the Deputies on the opposite benches are going to be pulled at the heels of people like Deputy Gorey. Is Deputy Hennessy going to follow Deputy Gorey into the division lobby on this section, and is he going to vote with Deputy Gorey in favour of handing out sums of money to grabbers with thousands of acres who might be dispossessed? Deputy Hennessy knows what happened in some other estates that were divided under the 1923 Act in our constituencies. He knows that it is only five years ago since these estates were divided, and he knows that at present these tenants owe 2½ years' arrears because the annuities on land are gone beyond all bounds. The value of the land has gone beyond all bounds. That is the position we are faced with. I would appeal to Deputy Hennessy not to be led by the nose by Deputy Gorey in this matter. I ask him not to give in to him in this. I would warn Deputy Hassett, for whom I have great respect, not to support this section. For if he does, the next time that he appears on a platform in Tipperary advocating the division of ranches this section, in the shape of a placard, will be placarded there before him. Does his sympathy with the tenants down the country mean that he comes up here advocating this section? Surely Deputy Hassett is not tied or bound to Deputy Gorey that he is to be pulled at his heels. I know and understand Deputy Gorey's anxiety in this matter. It is time that we all got finished with it. I would appeal to all Deputies in the House not to be led and not to follow the heels of Deputy Gorey, and not to be pulled away in this matter. I ask them to do justice to the tenants who have been put out of their farms. Let them have an opportunity of getting the land at the price that they can pay for it afterwards. The first section is a section for the robbery of the tenants; the second is for providing loot for the landlords, and this section is for providing loot for the grabbers.
I regret I had not an opportunity of hearing Deputies on one side or the other until Deputy Maguire spoke on the section. This section, as it stands, seems to me to deal particularly with a problem which Deputy Corry knows little of. It is a problem that is peculiar to the West of Ireland and to the congested districts. I mentioned in the course of the Second Reading the great difficulty there was in the matter of the resuming and getting possession of holdings of land which were the subject of land purchase annuities, which had been bought out by substantial farmers. The ordinary procedure is that the land must be such land as is required for the relief of congestion. I know a great many of these in my own constituency and in the congested districts especially. Deputy Maguire was a great deal nearer the mark in describing the conditions in the West of Ireland than Deputy Corry was. There are some farms of forty or fifty acres, and occasionally farms of not more than 200 acres, in the midst of those congested areas. These farms are not held by grabbers, and they are not held by publicans. They are held, in a great many cases by men whose people have been in possession for a great number of years, and whose people, in some cases, helped very considerably in the land struggle. I have a few cases in mind. On the edge of these farms or round about them you may find five or six or ten very small holders. One could hardly call them farmers. They could not be farmers in the estimation of Deputy Gorey. These men may hold four or five or ten acres of very poor land. Recently these men have been looking for a division of land, and when a farm of the kind I have described, fifty or sixty to two hundred acres, is in the vicinity, and when an opportunity seems to be available for acquiring it, these men are naturally anxious that the farm should be acquired. Very often they find that the regulations of the Land Commission for acquiring such a farm are inadequate. The Land Commission must provide the person in possession of this particular farm with a holding at least of equal value somewhere else. In practice, as everybody knows, that is not always easy to do, in spite of the fact that there is a very great amount of land available. It is not quite so easy to take a farmer from the West of Ireland and plant him in Meath or Kildare. Sometimes we hear, even in this House, that the people of Meath or Kildare may have something to say to it. Numerous difficulties arise. The principal difficulty is that the person concerned does not want to go somewhere else and does not want to migrate to Leinster or Roscommon. That may arise through various circumstances. It may be that the person concerned is a widow, or a widow with one or two daughters, who is not anxious to engage in farming, and this question of disposing of the land arises.
Under present circumstances I have known cases where it was found that what it was possible for the Land Commission to give for the land was not sufficient to induce the person in possession to give up the land. It seems to me, from reading the section that it would make the problem easier in such cases, that it would be possible for the Land Commission more easily to acquire possession of a holding of that kind. That is how I read the section. I have not had the advantage of hearing the arguments used for or against it, except the last two speeches. It would appear to me from the reading of the section, that this would make it more easy to acquire such holdings as I have been speaking of.
I may tell Deputy Corry that the people who are in the neighbourhood of farms of this kind, and who are looking forward to a division of the land, would welcome anything in the nature of a section of this kind that would make easier the resumption of that particular holding, and its subsequent division amongst them. I think that Deputy Maguire's statement about taking from a man with 30 acres five acres of tillage is fantastical. I do not think that the Land Commission would do a thing like that. I do not believe it would be possible. If they did so very foolish a thing as that, surely the man would have to be compensated. I felt when Deputy Corry was speaking, that he was advocating the principle that many farmers, practically all farmers, would look rather askance at. If he is, as I take him to be, advocating the compulsory acquisition of land—that is of land which is subject to a land purchase annuity, at a price other than the price which the land is able to fetch in the open market, then he is advocating something that even the most extreme of us would be slow to advocate.
It is a dangerous principle in this country, dangerous from the point of view of farmers especially. I think that if Deputy Corry thoroughly appreciated what he was, in fact, advocating he would be the very first to condemn it. There is one point on which I would like to be sure. I would like to know, especially in regard to this section, if it will make it easier to induce a person in possession of a holding, which is required for the relief of congestion, to give up possession. It will, I think, also make it more costly. What I am anxious to secure, if possible, would be that any such extra cost would not go back on the tenants who are put in possession. I feel that it would not be impossible to secure that because, if that is not done, it may, as Deputy Maguire rightly pointed out, make the land so divided carry the whole cost. That would make it uneconomic. I feel that it would be possible to make it easier, as this section proposes to do, to have the holding resumed and not to put the extra cost on the tenants who would get the division of the land. On the whole it seems to me, from what I can gather from this section, that it will make the problem, which many of us in the West know exists, especially in the West, easier of solution if this section is there. I have no reason to think that the Land Commission will set out specially to pick favourites who are in possession of large ranches and give them slices of public money. In the case of estates of which it is impossible to get possession at present I believe that this section will help us in that direction.
The first part of Deputy O'Connell's speech made me think that he is labouring under a misunderstanding. I think that this section has no reference to land on which annuities are being paid, and which has already been vested.
It seems to me that Deputy O'Connell's speech was directed to land already vested, and to the taking over of land from people who are paying their annuities and in whose cases vesting has taken place. I would like to be clear on the point raised by Deputy Maguire and perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary would give us information in regard to it. What is the practice at present? Suppose for the relief of congestion a holding of a certain size is taken over and the present tenant is given a farm elsewhere, is he given any cash? Is there any cash given to him to enable him to change or is the sole compensation to be his new farm?
There is no cash compensation, but a section in this Bill provides for removal expenses.
There is no cash compensation?
Cannot the Land Commission build a house for the tenant on the new land?
Yes, but he would have to pay for it.
On the basis of a further annuity?
He would get a grant.
It follows inevitably that if you remove a man compulsorily, say, from County Mayo to County Meath, you must provide him with a house. In such circumstances we usually make a contribution, partly by way of a grant and partly by loan.
There is part of it a free grant?
Yes. Deputy de Valera, however, was asking about cash payments.
Most of the criticism of this amendment has been on the ground of abuse, and a case where it could legitimately apply was mentioned by Deputy Maguire. Could the Parliamentary Secretary before Report Stage arrange that a section would be drafted to limit the possibility of abuse? We, on this side, at any rate, have not the same confidence in the Land Commission as Deputies on the other side perhaps have, and where things could be limited by statute we prefer that method rather than to leave it to the discretion of the Land Commission. We prefer to see it limited here so that it could not be abused in the way mentioned by Deputy Corry and others. At the same time we would like to meet such cases as that mentioned by Deputy Maguire.
I do not see how that section could be drafted in such a way as Deputy de Valera wants. The Judicial Commissioner will have to interpret the section. It is a matter for him to interpret the law in so far as fixing the resumption price is concerned.
"Inequitable" is a very wide word, and if any kind of loss could be said to be sustained by the person from whom land was taken the Judicial Commissioner would, I think, be bound to take it into account.
Our view, however, is that there is a very definite restricted type of hardship which we want taken into account. We do not want, if possible, the Judicial Commissioner to take into account what he might regard as a hardship. What we want to do is to limit the discretion of the Judicial Commissioner as to what is or what is not equitable. I think that if this section was originally drafted to meet such cases as that indicated by Deputy Maguire I see no reason why we should not re-draft it so as to limit it to the precise cases intended. The amendment is too wide. There is too much power given to the Judicial Commissioner to determine. Of necessity, it seems to me that he will, in interpreting this, be bound to take any type of hardship whatever into account. In connection with the taking over compulsorily of land, a case of hardship can always be put up. We want to distinguish between cases we would like to have considered and those which we think ought not generally be considered.
I have no objection to altering the wording of this particular amendment, provided, of course, it carries out the purposes for which it is intended. I have devoted a good deal of time and attention to its drafting, and I could not find a better form of words than that in the amendment. I could not find a word that could be substituted for "inequitable." If the Deputy can suggest any other word I would be prepared to consider it.
I am afraid that it cannot be got by word, but by defining a class. If the Parliamentary Secretary could indicate the class to which he intended this section should apply, then it ought to be possible to enumerate or define that class and make the section apply to such class.
Perhaps I had better explain the procedure followed by the Judicial Commissioner in fixing the resumption price of land. As Deputies know, there are two interests involved when the Land Commission resumes land. There is the tenant's interest—I am speaking of tenants under the 1923 Act—and there is the vendor's interest, the owner's interest. Deputies are aware that the owner's price is fixed arbitrarily by the Act of 1923. He gets so many years' purchase of the rent. Usually the period is fifteen years. The tenant's interest is based on the market value of the land, on the market conditions prevailing in his particular district. The Act of 1881 applies to the fixation of the tenant's compensation.
I think that Deputies are aware that there is really no market for land in certain districts of the country at present. It has been found in practice that whereas the owner or vendor gets fifteen years' purchase of his rent the tenant by way of compensation gets only what approximates to five, six, or seven years' purchase so that the tenant is treated very harshly, and the compensation awarded is not by any means fair. There is no doubt that many tenants from whom we resumed land during the last few years, have a serious grievance against the Land Commission because they were not paid what they considered to be fair compensation and what they were in justice entitled to.
It is necessary to have some such amendment as this passed, because, after all, the problem of migration is going to be a very big problem during the next four or five years. While the Land Commission is there there will be some problem of that kind. During the next four or five years it will be necessary to migrate many tenants from the poorer counties. They will have to be removed to some of the eastern counties, to some of the southern counties and to some of the midland counties. It will be necessary for the Land Commission to resume land in these counties in order to provide for these migrants. I think Deputies are satisfied that it will be necessary to take farms in these counties and utilise them for the relief of congestion. If the Land Commission is to carry out that work smoothly and expeditiously, and to be in a position to treat the tenants of these holdings which they resume in a reasonable way, it is necessary that the Land Commission should have power to pay them a reasonable and just compensation. I think Deputy O'Reilly knows very well that in his own County of Meath the tenants are not getting fair compensation for the land that is resumed from them by the Land Commission. Deputy Geoghegan, if he were here, would support me in the statement that tenants from whom the Land Commission resume land in County Westmeath are not always getting fair compensation.
It is necessary if we are to carry out this policy of migration smoothly and effectively, that we should be in a position to give tenants from whom we resume land something approaching fair compensation. Of course this section will only apply to districts where there is really no market for land or where, if there is a market, the market conditions are such that it is not possible for the Land Commission to give fair compensation. There are a number of such areas all over the country. You have areas even in the West in which there is no market for land, and where it is necessary for the Land Commission to resume land for the relief of congestion. You have areas in Kildare, Leix and Offaly. Westmeath and other counties, where there is no market for land, and where the price the Land Commission offers is really the market price.
Every Deputy must admit that in theory at all events, the tenant is entitled to the same compensation as the owner or vendor. Yet, the tenants in actual fact are not getting the same compensation which the vendor or the landlord is getting to-day. In the majority of cases—I can furnish Deputies with statistics if they wish— where we have resumed land recently from tenants, the tenant's compensation would only represent something like seven or eight years' purchase, whereas the standard price paid to the landlord represents fifteen years' purchase. That is obviously unfair, and I suggest that it cannot be justified. After all, some of these tenants bought this land recently. They paid a big price for it, and if the Land Commission resumed the land arbitrarily to-day, and paid the market price, they would take the land at one-third or even one-fifth of the price originally paid. I do not think it is necessary to say any more in regard to the section. I think I have satisfied Deputies that the Land Commission must be given power, the power which they ask for in this section, if they are to deal efficiently with the problem of migration from the poorer counties.
I do not think the Parliamentary Secretary would find very much opposition from us if the amendment only met the cases he has indicated.
The amendment is only intended to deal with these cases.
Oh, yes, but it is not with the intention we are concerned. It is with the manner in which it will be interpreted by lawyers afterwards. It is not what it is intended to mean but what it will in fact be read to mean. It is open to abuses of various sorts as it stands. What I was anxious to get from the Parliamentary Secretary was an undertaking that he or his draftsman would try to get a different set of words so that the scope of the section would be narrowed to meet only the cases which he had in mind. In fact, it is capable of being applied to interpret, to find whether it was equit-other conditions. His answer to me, I take it, would be that it was a matter for the Judicial Commissioner to able or not. That is where we differ. We differ from him in that we are not prepared to let it go to the Judicial Commissioner to be interpreted and to say whether it would be inequitable or not. We will be compelled to vote against the amendment unless he gives an assurance that he will bring in an amendment on the Report Stage so that the section will be narrowed down to meet only the cases which he has in mind.
The amendment, as it is worded, can, and will, only meet that type of case. The Deputy must understand that, rightly or wrongly, the Oireachtas has vested certain wide statutory powers in the Land Commistion, and in the exercise of these statutory powers they must have the greatest possible freedom in the interpretation of the Land Code. I do not exercise control over the Judicial Commissioner, and it will be a matter for the Judicial Comsioner to interpret the meaning of this section and to fix the compensation under it. No matter how the Deputy tries to narrow down the amendment, it will still be a matter for the Judicial Commissioner to interpret it in his own way and according to his own standards.
May I ask the Parliamentary Secretary how do the prices at present fixed by the Judicial Commissioner compare with the prices fixed in 1922?
They are considerably lower—by fifty or sixty per cent.
I agree with Deputy de Valera that the amendment, as it stands, is very unsatisfactory, even if we admit that there is anything in Deputy O'Connell's argument. I am not entirely convinced by that argument. What this section simply says, in fact, is that the House has agreed to the principle that compensation must be given for damage and disturbance, but the House is taking no steps whatever, having passed this amendment, to say what is disturbance. What is the nature of disturbance to be? The health of the family, the social amenities of the district—are all these things to be taken into consideration? If a man happens to be a member of a fox-hunting club and that he loses that amenity would that be considered as part of the disturbance? As Deputy de Valera says, if we are going to get any agreement on this section, we will have to be quite clear as to what "disturbance" and "damage" mean. It is not sufficient to say that the Judicial Commissioner will interpret these expressions. If the Parliamentary Secretary, who has proposed this amendment, is not able to explain to us what exactly "disturbance" and "damage" connote, how is the Judicial Commissioner to do it? We might as well not be wasting time in further discussion of these amendments if we are going to leave the whole thing in the hands of the Judicial Commissioner. The extraordinary thing is that even where the Judicial Commissioner is following lines which have been well laid down—laid down not alone under the 1923 Act but under the previous Acts—members on the opposite side are not at all pleased with his findings. Here, without definitely delimiting the principle or laying down any lines for the Judicial Commissioner to follow, they are prepared to give him power to award whatever compensation he likes.
This amendment does not refer to the congested districts alone. One of the things which worry us greatly regarding the Bill is the position of the congested districts not alone under this amendment but under Section 41. I would ask Deputy O'Connell to look into that section and see how it affects the congested areas. There is a type of case in the congested areas—it exists, I believe, in Connemara—in which a man has a large piece of mountain grazing on which he makes a good deal of profit by sheep farming. If you are going to take that man away and give him compensation as it is at present given he may argue—I think good cases have been put up—that even though he is getting an exchange holding, nevertheless this sheep farming was an amenity of particular advantage to him, a particular class of farming he had experience of and was used to and that it was very profitable, whereas he may be put into an entirely different class of farming now. That is a particular case. It belongs to the congested areas and to the mountainous districts. If you are going to deal with these people, and if your object is to treat them fairly, we are quite prepared to do that.
As against that, this amendment refers to resumed holdings. What are resumed holdings? It seems to me that resumed holdings are, roughly speaking, holdings of which the standard price is over £3,000. If Deputy O'Connell is looking for an alteration in regard to value, he will have to bear in mind that this amendment, as it stands, is concerned chiefly with holdings of which the standard price is over £3,000. How many of these holdings have you in the West of Ireland? The matter that Deputy O'Connell dealt with—the acquisition of holdings after vesting—is dealt with in another part of the Land Act. This part deals specifically with what are called retained holdings, and they are holdings of which the standard price is over £3,000. The question is whether the Dáil is going to make arrangements to allow special compensation to these people? Are members prepared to vote for this compensation without knowing exactly what the class is which will benefit? Let us be quite clear that these holdings belong to a class of which the standard price is over £3,000. You have very few of those in the western areas. As regards the Midlands, the Parliamentary Secretary stated here on Wednesday that they were not in a position to state what would be the extent of these retained holdings.
What does the Deputy mean exactly by that?
From what Deputy Mathews has said and from the position as regards the £3,000 limit, not alone will this not apply, in my opinion—the Parliamentary Secretary may be able to show that I am wrong —to any considerable number of holdings in which Deputy O'Connell is interested, but it will be chiefly for the benefit of a particular type of retained holding in the Midlands. Deputy Roddy has not made any case whatever as regards the Midlands. He has taken advantage of Deputy O'Connell's speech to try and convince the House that this applies to the congested areas. My contention is that it does not. If there is an amendment proposed dealing specifically with the cases Deputy O'Connell has referred to or I have myself referred to, where there is a difficulty in getting people to give up their lands, we are prepared to consider it. As the amendment stands, it is, in my view, altogether outside of what Deputy O'Connell has in mind.
Deputy Derrig is wrong. The Land Commission can resume a holding of any size for the purpose of relieving congestion, and we are resuming holdings every week in the constituency that Deputy O'Connell represents for the purpose of carrying out schemes of rearrangement.
You are resuming holdings every day of the week?
In the County Mayo.
Yes, every day of the week.
You have not resumed twenty holdings there for the past five years.
It is perfectly clear that the Deputy does not know what is happening in his own constituency. In Deputy O'Connell's constituency, we are resuming holdings for the purpose of carrying out schemes of rearrangement in order to do away with rundale tenures and create economic and compact holdings. This amendment does not apply to that type of holding. Deputy O'Connell has touched upon the kernel of this amendment. It has been drafted primarily for the purpose of facilitating the Land Commission in dealing with the resumption of land, to remove the delays that are incidental to this work when disputes occur, as they naturally do, when the tenant does not consider that the price is equitable and just.
It includes other cases as well.
It includes all types of cases. You have to take into account all sorts of cases when dealing with congestion. You have to take into account holdings in Meath and Westmeath as well as Donegal, Mayo, Sligo and Kerry. The problem of congestion is a very big one and a very complex one. It is extremely intricate, and it is a problem that very few Deputies on the Fianna Fáil Benches appear to understand.
Of course, they do not.
I do not see how this amendment can be altered, or how you are going to limit it to any particular class of tenant. In resuming land, you have to deal with different classes of tenants—the small tenant, the fairly large tenant, and the big tenant with from 300 to 500 acres. I do not see how you can limit the amendment. Assuming I introduced an amendment to this section, and I interpreted it as meaning a certain thing, it is quite conceivable that the Judicial Commissioner subsequently, when fixing the resumption price of a particular tenancy, would put quite a different interpretation on it. You must leave the interpretation of the law on this matter to the judicial authority.
Why waste time in amending it?
There is no case for amending the new section.
Why should not the Par liamentary Secretary limit this question of disturbance to tenancies of a certain valuation?
There is no use in putting in a limit. If you endeavour to impose a limit, you will destroy the effect of the whole amendment.
Will the State or the incoming tenant have to bear the extra cost?
The State will bear it. There are probably half a dozen or a dozen sections of the different Land Acts dealing with this——
Would the Parliamentary Secretary quote a definite case?
Section 36, for instance, and Sections 28 and 29.
What I wanted the Parliamentary Secretary to do was to quote a case in which there was hardship.
I cannot do that offhand, but if the Deputy so desires I can supply him with typical cases.
If this amendment is passed it may be subject to abuse. It can be made applicable to counties in which there is no congestion at all. We know that in certain counties there are large holdings with big mansions, and the owners are very anxious to get out. The Judicial Commissioner, as empowered under this section, can give those people compensation at the expense of the State for something the State is not getting. We are well aware of that. We know three or four of them at the present time, and we know that the owners are not satisfied with the price offered by the Land Commission. This will enable a price to be given which the State will have to bear afterwards—a price for which these places are not value. If this section is passed it should be made applicable only to places where congestion will be relieved. There is no congestion in Wexford or in other counties. If this is passed it should apply only to counties where congestion exists and where relief is necessary.
The Deputy is not so innocent as not to be aware that there is some congestion in every county.
We know that quite well, but this is not meant for that purpose; this is meant to help certain people; there are certain people who want to get out, and this section will let them out. It will enable the State to give them compensation, and this refers to places where there is no congestion at all. As regards derelict farms, will this enable the State to resume such farms?
This section deals with tenancies under the 1923 Act.
Could the Parliamentary Secretary not bring in some provision which will enable the Land Commission to use State funds to resume derelict or partially derelict farms?
This will be used in order to compensate the banks.
State funds are being used to deal with one particular class, and I do not see why they should not be used to deal with other classes. There are many derelict farms, and if the State could give them compensation it would be a great advantage.
There is nothing to prevent the Land Commission from resuming holdings of that sort if they consider it advisable to do so.
In many cases the tenant gets no compensation. He might, perhaps, get £10 or £20.
The tenant, of course, must redeem the advance. The Deputy, I take it, is referring to holdings subject to a Land Commission annuity. These are not covered by the amendment.
Could not the Parliamentary Secretary bring in an amendment so as to cover them?
I think that the amendment does not meet the case put forward by the Parliamentary Secretary. He apparently has in mind cases where the price obtaining in certain counties or certain districts does not represent a fair market value. In order to get over that difficulty the Parliamentary Secretary wants to bring in an amendment to compensate the tenant for disturbance and loss of good-will. That is not the way to do it. The best way is to recognise the fact that in certain districts or counties the price obtained would be inequitable if you are going to resume land on that basis. It is not by comparing the relations between one farm and another or by such vague considerations as disturbance that the position can be met. We all have had experience of cases that have cropped up throughout the country arising out of the fixing of compensation. I have in mind a farm in Co. Sligo, the Parliamentary Secretary's own constituency. That farm cost about £6,000 in 1923 or 1924. If put into the market that farm would fetch about £2,500, and that amount would be most liberal and most generous. With the best possible competition at an auction it would not reach £3,000.
There are other cases of that sort, and all these things are due to that vague thing known as discretion. It is very difficult to get over the question of discretion, but I believe if the matter were reconsidered it is not beyond human ingenuity to frame such an amendment as would meet the case submitted here—the case the Parliamentary Secretary has in mind. I believe it would be quite possible to frame an amendment which would limit a discretion which in the past has lent itself to abuse. I have numbers of cases in mind where ridiculous compensation was paid purely on the point of discretion. Some of the inspectors going through the country have very peculiar ideas as to the value of old buildings.
I know of the case of an old castle which was not worth £20—it was of no use to anybody—and yet there was a valuation of £1,000 placed upon it by an inspector. The unfortunate tenants are faced with a rent bearing relation to that valuation, and I know there is correspondence going on with the Land Commission over it. It would be impossible for the tenant to keep on paying that rent. That is the type of case we have in mind, and I think some effort should be made to provide against the discretion exercised, because that discretion has been responsible for abuse in the past. Perhaps it would be possible on the Fourth Stage to frame an amendment that would limit the discretion and prevent the continuance of abuse.
The Parliamentary Secretary has stated that the landlord has been offered 15 years' compensation. The tenant in most cases, on the resumption of a holding, will get only what will be equivalent to five, six or seven years. That may or may not be fair, but what we object to is the word equitable. It should be possible to state in an amendment what amount of compensation the tenant of the resumed holding should get without leaving it to be decided by the Judicial Commissioner or by any other judge. The amendment here seems to us to be altogether too vague. As regards the question of removal and disturbance and all that kind of thing, one man might interpret it in one way and another man could interpret it in another way. We know what will happen is that whoever is called upon to put an interpretation on that will put such an interpretation as will be altogether in favour of the man whose holding is being resumed. It should be possible to draft an amendment that will ensure that the man whose holding will be resumed will be left secure and safe enough and so avoid leaving it in the hands of anyone to interpret such a loose amendment as this.
The question that governs price is the open market value. In the counties that I know the market value of a tenant's interest bearing a rental would be anything from £30 to £40 an acre, and in some cases it might be £80 to £90 an acre. That might appear ridiculous and foolish, but there it is—the market value. If the market value is going to be your basis, and if that is enshrined in the Bill, you will be bound by it. If you do not want to be bound by the market value, then put down definitely what you do want to be bound by. Speeches have been made here which misrepresent the position. If you fix the acreage at 5 acres for each man in the State, I am not a bit concerned; if you fix it at 10 acres or 20 acres, I do not care. What I would like you to do is to adhere to some definite thing and let there be no equivocation about it. Let the price be the current market value or whatever price you like to give, but once you decide upon that, then stick to it.
I have been accused of being a landlords' representative and a graziers' representative. I have no interest in either one or the other. I want to be honest about this matter, and I want the House to be honest. Questions were raised here and answers were given by Deputy Clery and Deputy Corry. I want Deputy de Valera to give us an answer with regard to policy. This question is big enough for him, yet he did not reply to any of the questions that have been raised. The main question is, who is going to bear the cost of land resettlement? There are cases, no doubt, where lands are in the hands of so-called grabbers, but it will be found on examination that there is a limited amount of the land of Ireland so occupied. There might be farms of 100 or 200 acres in the hands of grabbers, but similar holdings are in the hands of other people as well. Holdings of a similar kind are in the hands of the chief supporters of Deputy Derrig in my own constituency. On the other hand, there are many holdings of that type and they were never grabbed; they are in the possession of people who never grabbed anything, and whose predecessors never grabbed anything. These people secured their holdings in a legitimate way, and they owe their position in life to their own industry and the industry of their fathers.
I do not think that this has anything to do with the amendment.
It is not in the amendment. What else is in the amendment? What is the word "equitable"? What are the words "market value"? Are they in the Act? Has the word "equitable" any relation to "market value"? The question of the resumption of tenanted land has been raised, and of the man who is over the £3,000 limit, and a distinction is sought to be made. Is it the policy of the Dáil that a man with 50 or 100 acres is to get full market value, and a man over that is not, or is there some other process to be resorted to to get the market value? I will ask a few questions for Deputy de Valera to answer. Are we to have free sale and tenant right in an open market? Is any settlement to be made by the people who own property? Is the whole burden to be borne by them, or is the State to bear it? That is a question I invite Deputy de Valera to answer.
I do not think it arises at all on this section myself.
Perhaps we will get another opportunity of asking it and insisting on an answer.
If I may be allowed to intervene, I think Deputy Gorey is drawing a red herring by introducing this question of tenant right.
We hope the Deputy is not following him.
I want to call attention to the suggestion of Deputy Ruttledge of which I am strongly in favour. I am afraid if the amendment is to be in its present form we will have to vote against it, and I would suggest without prejudice that the Parliamentary Secretary should withdraw it for the present. For example, take the last line: "but also to the damage, if any, which will be sustained by the tenant by reason of the resumption of the land as affecting his user." I suppose it means affecting him as user. It goes on: "of other land or otherwise causing injury to such other lands." What exactly does that mean?
It is a legal phrase. I do not pretend to be an authority on it.
Would the Parliamentary Secretary not consider Deputy Ruttledge's suggestion and re-draft the amendment?
No. No Deputy of the Fianna Fáil Party has suggested how this amendment could be redrafted. The amendment must give the Land Commission a wide discretion.
Leave the whole Bill to the Land Commission.
The Deputy is quite safe in doing that.
- Aird, William P.
- Alton, Ernest Henry.
- Anthony, Richard.
- Beckett, James Walter.
- Bennett, George Cecil.
- Blythe, Ernest.
- Bourke, Séamus A.
- Brennan, Michael.
- Broderick, Henry.
- Brodrick, Seán.
- Byrne, John Joseph.
- Carey, Edmund.
- Cassidy, Archie J.
- Coburn, James.
- Cole, John James.
- Collins-O'Driscoll, Mrs. Margt.
- Conlon, Martin.
- Connolly, Michael P.
- Cosgrave, William T.
- Craig, Sir James.
- Daly, John.
- Davin, William.
- Davis, Michael.
- Doherty, Eugene.
- Dolan, James N.
- Doyle, Peadar Seán.
- Duggan, Edmund John.
- Dwyer, James.
- Egan, Barry M.
- Everett, James.
- Finlay, Thomas A.
- Fitzgerald, Desmond.
- Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
- Good, John.
- Gorey, Denis J.
- Haslett, Alexander.
- Hassett, John J.
- Heffernan, Michael R.
- Hennessy, Michael Joseph.
- Hennessy, Thomas.
- Henry, Mark.
- Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
- Jordan, Michael.
- Kelly, Patrick Michael.
- Keogh, Myles.
- Law, Hugh Alexander.
- Lynch, Finian.
- Mathews, Arthur Patrick.
- McDonogh, Martin.
- McFadden, Michael Og.
- McGilligan, Patrick.
- Mongan, Joseph W.
- Mulcahy, Richard.
- Myles, James Sproule.
- Nally, Martin Michael.
- Nolan, John Thomas.
- O'Connell, Richard.
- O'Connell, Thomas J.
- O'Connor, Bartholomew.
- O'Leary, Daniel.
- O'Mahony, The.
- O'Reilly, John J.
- O'Sullivan, Gearóid.
- O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
- Redmond, William Archer.
- Reynolds, Patrick.
- Rice, Vincent.
- Roddy, Martin.
- Sheehy, Timothy (West Cork).
- Thrift, William Edward.
- Tierney, Michael.
- White, John.
- White, Vincent Joseph.
- Wolfe, George.
- Aiken, Frank.
- Allen, Denis.
- Blaney, Neal.
- Boland, Gerald.
- Boland, Patrick.
- Bourke, Daniel.
- Brady, Seán.
- Briscoe, Robert.
- Buckley, Daniel.
- Carney, Frank.
- Carty, Frank.
- Clery, Michael.
- Colbert, James.
- Corry, Martin John.
- Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
- Crowley, Tadhg.
- Derrig, Thomas.
- De Valera, Eamon.
- Fahy, Frank.
- Flinn, Hugo.
- Fogarty, Andrew.
- Gorry, Patrick J.
- Goulding, John.
- Hayes, Seán.
- Houlihan, Patrick.
- Jordan, Stephen.
- Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
- Kent, William R.
- Killilea, Mark.
- Kilroy, Michael.
- Lemass, Seán F.
- Little, Patrick John.
- Maguire, Ben.
- MacEntee, Seán.
- Moore, Séamus.
- O'Dowd, Patrick Joseph.
- O'Reilly, Matthew.
- Ruttledge, Patrick J.
- Ryan, James.
- Sexton, Martin.
- Sheehy, Timothy (Tipp.).
- Smith, Patrick.
In sub-section (3), paragraphs (b) and (c), page 21, to delete the figures "1927" where they occur in lines 36 and 39 respectively, and to substitute the figures "1928" in both places.
This is merely a drafting amendment.
In sub-section (3) (c), line 39, to delete the figures "1927" and substitute therefor the figures "1929."
This amendment is on the same lines, except that our suggestion is that 1929 should be inserted instead of 1927. My information is that if 1927 were allowed to remain the tenants would really be in the same position; they would have four years' arrears. The figures "1929" seem to us to be a reasonable compromise, and I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to accept the amendment.
No. Three years is the period in all the Land Acts, and I do not want to depart from that precedent in this Bill. In any event, I think it would be unfair to the landlords to pay less than three years.
Is it quite clear that it is the same in all the other Acts?
Amendment 83 not moved. Amendment 84 is out of order.
This section, as I indicated in the Second Reading debate, raises an important question—that is, the question of letting in people who have hitherto been excluded from the advantages of the Land Purchase Acts. As far as I can see there was provision in the Act of 1923 for letting in some of these people under Section 38, by which fee-farm grants and head rents would be redeemed. But in that case it seems the applicants would have to pay all the expenses. There was a further change under the 1927 Act. As a matter of fact, under the present Bill the proceedings are to be carried on under Section 11. The present Bill is not to prejudice them. The Act of 1927, in the matter of fee-farm grants, dealt with them as untenanted land, and specified that the lands should be situate in a non-congested district county. As far as I can understand it, Section 41 makes the provision of preceding Acts applicable to lands of this character, even in congested areas, and, furthermore, they are no longer treated as untenanted lands. They are treated as tenanted lands. Where the cases are good there may be reason for treating them as tenanted lands and giving them this bonus of ten per cent., which is given in such cases. Can the Parliamentary Secretary say why the bonus should be given in these cases, and why untenanted lands should now be treated as tenanted lands, when there is no bonus given as regards untenanted lands generally? The position is that no bonus is given. In order to give these people the advantage of the bonus you have to treat it as tenanted land. I do not know whether that is the object of treating it as tenanted land, but that seems to be one of the results. There have been a large number of amendments in connection with this matter, and we are not at all clear as to what the effect of the section would be in the matter of the relief of congestion. We want to be quite sure that holdings, generally speaking, will not be allowed to pass through which, under previous Acts, would be retained or held for the relief of congestion. We are not clear on the matter of residential holdings. I commend to the Parliamentary Secretary's notice an amendment which was ruled out at an earlier stage of this Bill with regard to the question of residential holdings. I ask, is the position now in regard to residential holdings exactly the same as under the Acts of 1923 and 1927? Or is it that the question whether they are residential holdings there will be determined at the present date? If there were residential holdings under the Act of 1923 would they still be excluded?
Would it be possible for the Parliamentary Secretary to consider the case of holdings which, for some reason or another, were excluded as residential holdings under the Act of 1923, and which have not now that residential character, and which would not now be fairly considered as residential holdings? I think it is a case in which the provisions of the Land Act of 1923 might be brought up to date. Generally speaking, what we want to know is, what is the reason for applying this to the congested district counties, and treating the lands as tenanted lands? Is it to make the bonus applicable? Why is that change made? Is it that the State will pay the costs which heretofore have been paid by the applicants? Looking at the accounts, I noticed that about a quarter of a million pounds seems to have been advanced under Section 38 of the Act of 1923, whereas the small amount of £13,000 has been advanced under the Act of 1927. I am not quite clear whether the same people who applied under the 1923 Act will not now be able to apply under this. If they are people of a particular class, who would be able to pay their expenses, I think there should be some limitation upon it. The position, so far as we are concerned, is somewhat the same as on the last amendment. We know there are people who should get in, and we are prepared to support their claim, but, on the other hand, even allowing for the fact that the Land Commission exercises all discretion in this matter, we think the section, as it stands, is altogether too open.
There is one other matter, and that is the question of the fixing of the limitation of the third-term judicial rent. I think the fixing of the third-term judicial rent is to exclude cases which, generally speaking, the Land Commission consider should not come within the scope of the Act. There are, I know, cases which will be excluded and which may be very good ones, but my information is that the vast majority of the cases which will be excluded by reason of that provision as regards third-term judicial rent are not cases that should be brought in. I have dealt with a large number of points which I realise the Parliamentary Secretary may not be in a position to go into in detail at the moment, but I have done so simply because I want to get some information on this matter before we can debate it.
Section 41 is really introduced for the purpose of facilitating fee-farm grantees at the expense of the landlord. When lands held under a fee-farm grant were treated as untenanted land, the landlord was entitled to 19 or 20 years' purchase of his rent. Under this section he will only be entitled to something between 14 or 15 years' purchase, so that he is losing approximately four or five years' purchase of his rent. The fee-farm grantee is gaining to that extent. The section was drafted primarily to facilitate the fee-farm grantee who, in practically every case, is an ordinary working farmer paying often-times a very high rent for his farm. The woes of the fee-farm grantees have been voiced here on many occasions by Deputy Gorey when he was a member of the Farmers' Party, and by many other members of the Farmers' Party. It is not proposed to make any change with regard to residential holdings. If it were possible to bring in residential holdings within the terms of this section I would be quite willing to meet the Deputy, but I must confess I do not know enough about the rules of the House to say whether it is possible to do that. I would be inclined, certainly, to extend the period from 1923 up to the present date if it were possible to do so. There was an amendment on the paper yesterday in reference to residential holdings, but it was ruled out of order. I do not quite follow the Deputy with regard to the fixing of the third-term judicial rents.
Section 41 (1) (c) states: "That the rent payable by such owner in respect of such parcel is not less than the rent which in the opinion of the Land Commission would be the fair rent of such parcel at the date of the passing of the Land Act, 1923, if such parcel had then been held by such owner under the statutory tenancy subject to a third-term judicial rent."
That is exactly the same as in Section 11 of the Act of 1927.
The object, I take it, would be to keep out cases where there would be a purely nominal rent.
There would be no object in bringing in cases of that kind.
I would like to have some information from the Parliamentary Secretary as to the costs, and the question of the bonus. Although the fee-farm grantee is undoubtedly going to benefit if the number of years purchase is to be reduced, he is going to get the advantage of the bonus from the State.
And why not?
I am not addressing Deputy Gorey. When he is on the front bench we will perhaps pay more attention to him. I think he has arrogated to himself too much in the debate on this whole matter. The other question is one of costs. Hitherto, I take it, under the 1923 Act the applicant had to pay the costs. Can the Parliamentary Secretary give us any idea of what the liability of the State will be in this whole matter? I think he should have an idea of the total number of such cases, and what the costs and the bonus will be likely to be. I do not want to press him now.
I could not give the information now.
Perhaps the Deputy does not know the circumstances. The fee-farm grantees are people whom we have never been able to touch under any Land Act and in many cases they farm ten, twenty, thirty or forty acres, paying a rental of anything from £1 to £3 10s. I know cases where the rent is even £3 15s. and £4. They are tenant farmers just the same as any other farmers with a small holding. Nearly all of them are people with small parcels of land, holding under a class of fraudulent title made in comparatively recent years. They have no other advantages except that they hold under a fee farm grant. They were never able to go into any Land Court or come under any land purchase scheme. Now, for the first time they are being brought in. People talk about evieted tenants, but these are the sufferers of this whole land business. Perhaps Deputy Derrig may not be aware of this class of tenants, but they exist in the south and east. They are people who never could come under any Land Act, and who are paying an extraordinary high rent, and who have been cheated all the time by a misuse of terms.
I shall look up the information required by Deputy Derrig. He will understand, however, that it will be only approximate.
Why could not the cases Deputy Gorey referred to have come under Section 38 of the 1923 Act?
They could redeem at the full price themselves from the landlord direct, but they had not the benefit of any Act or court. The 25 per cent. reduction did not apply to them-nothing applied to their cases.
Is it not the case that all those who up to the present had been compelled to seek this advantage under Section 38 of the 1923 Act will now be able to get in under this?
Deputy Gorey is quite wrong, as he generally is, in trying to give the impression that these people are small holders. If they were it would be all right. I am not so ignorant of the conditions in my constituency as all that. There are many small holders who have very good claims. Taking the £227,000 redemption price which has been fixed by the Judicial Commissioner to date to redeem a rental of £13,000, roughly comprising 16,295 acres, Deputy Gorey will see if he makes a calculation that the average holding is 135 acres and the average rental £108.
Section 41 ordered to stand part of of the Bill.
(1) Where at any time after the distribution of the purchase money of an estate it appears to the Judicial Commissioner that he could on the distribution of such purchase money, if application in that behalf had then been made to him, have directed under sub-section (1) of Section 44 of the Land Act, 1923, the transfer of land bonds to the Public Trustee for the purposes mentioned in that section, the Judicial Commissioner may order the payment to the Public Trustee by any person to whom such purchase money or any part thereof was paid on such distribution of such amount of land bonds as the Judicial Commissioner shall consider he could have so directed to be so transferred on such distribution.
(2) Land bonds paid to the Public Trustee in pursuance of an order made under this section shall be applied in accordance with sub-section (2) of Section 44 of the Land Act, 1923, as if they had been transferred to him under sub-section (1) of that section.
I move amendment 85:
Before Section 42 to insert a new section as follows:—
(1) The amount to be advanced on a resale to any one tenant under this Act shall not exceed £3,000.
(2) Where a tenant to whom an advance is made under this Act is a proprietor of lands for the purchase of which advances have been made under any of the Land Purchase Acts unless redeemed the total amount resulting from the amount obtained by capitalising at the rate of 4¾ per cent. the original annuities payable on such advances shall be taken into account in computing the said limitation of £3,000.
This is to make it quite clear that the £3,000 limit will govern the transactions contemplated under Section 41. It is to make it quite definite and explicit that the amount to be advanced on resale to any one tenant under this Bill shall not exceed £3,000. The second portion of the amendment makes allowance for any advances which have already been granted to the tenant—it is making an adjustment. The general principle of the amendment is simply to see that the £3,000 limit is quite clear.
That is the amount, but I will insist on the Land Commission still retaining discretion to increase the advance in any case where it is considered advisable or necessary to do it.
The worst feature is the words "unless redeemed."
That is taken from the 1923 Act.
I do not care what it is taken from. It is a very funny principle to have enunciated from that side of the House.
Will the Parliamentary Secretary say where the principle of the £3,000 limit is safeguarded in the present Bill?
In the Act of 1923.
It is not made applicable to the present Bill?
There is no change in the law.
There is no change in the law, but it is not made specifically applicable.
It is not necessary. It is there in the Act of 1923.
I move amendment 86.
In sub-section (1), page 22, to delete all from the word "where" in line 6 to the word "money" in line 8, and substitute the following—
"Where, in the case of an estate the holdings on which are vested under this Act in the purchasers thereof, it appears to the Judicial Commissioner, within six years after the publication of the vesting orders or the last of the vesting orders in respect of such holdings, that he could on the distribution of the purchase money of such estate."
Amendments 86 and 87 restrict the operation of this section to holdings vested under the Act. It is quite possible that this section might be interpreted as having a retrospective effect. It is not intended to have that retrospective effect, and hence it is that these amendments have been introduced. It is also provided in the amendment that the Judicial Commissioner, within six years after the publication of the vesting orders or the last of the vesting orders in respect of such holdings could on the distribution of the purchase money of such estate distribute whatever moneys are held by him in respect of any moneys for the maintenance of embankments. The section fixes a period of six years from the date on which the last holdings on the estate are vested. I think that limit is reasonable.
I move amendment 87:
In sub-section (1), page 22, line 13, after the word "may" to insert the words "within the said period of six years."
I move amendment 88:
In sub-section (1), page 22, to delete all from the words "the payment" in line 13 to the word "bonds" in line 15 and substitute the following: "any person who on such distribution received for his own benefit or received and retained under his control as a trustee any portion of such purchase money to repay to the Public Trustee so much (if any) of the said purchase money so received or so received and retained by him."
This amendment is designed to limit the claims of the Land Commission against trustees only so long as the trustees are responsible for moneys which they are in the control of. That is only fair and just.
What is the position of the drainage schemes under this Bill where a drainage scheme was in existence for which the landlord had some liability? What is the present position of such a drainage scheme? Does the Land Commission propose to recoup from the landlord whatever his liability was in the matter of these drainage schemes, as distinct from embankments?
The landlord's liability is not affected in any way by these amendments.
Is there any provision for recoupment?
The Act of 1925 and the Act of 1927 provide for that.
How does the Parliamentary Secretary hope to get back this money that has been paid out to the owner—the owner has got paid in land bonds?
The Land Commission will see that there is a sufficient amount deducted from the purchase money to cover the cost of maintenance, repairs, and so on.
The first line here states: "After the distribution of the purchase money"?
Yes, that is all right.
Does the Parliamentary Secretary propose to deduct from the landlord a sufficient sum of money to put the drainage schemes in a proper condition first, and afterwards to maintain them? In other words, will the landlord be responsible for the maintenance of the drainage scheme in perpetuity?
The words "drainage scheme" are vague. I do not know that the Deputy means by "drainage scheme." It will be a matter for the Land Commission to determine the extent of the landlord's responsibility.
My idea of a "drainage scheme" is a scheme undertaken and maintained by the landlord for the purpose of relieving the lands of his tenants from flooding.
That liability will still continue.
Will it remain the responsibility of the landlords?
I move amendment 89:
To insert a new section before Section 43 as follows:—
"Wherever prior to the passing of the Land Act, 1923, serious damage was caused to a holding through the failure of the landlord to maintain the embankments or others works on such holding and where no compensation has been allowed to the tenants in respect of the same the Land Commission shall institute a judicial enquiry to ascertain what compensation, if any, shall be granted to the tenants."
This is an amendment to provide for cases that have been brought under our notice—under the notice of Deputy Gorey and myself. Owing to the failure of the landlord to maintain the embankments or other works the tenants in such cases were put to great loss. Their lands in some cases were either wholly or partically useless for a number of years. We think there should be some provision made in these cases by making an inquiry into them. We think some compensation should be paid to those tenants. The position is that they cannot claim against the landlord. Their rents have been collected from them. As the matter stands at present the landlord has a claim against them, even though their land was flooded. Is the Land Commission going to arrange to recoup them for this expenditure which the landlord should have carried out and which he did not carry out? I think in a case like this, where it can be proved that the tenants suffer a definite hardship owing to the lands being flooded for a number of years, that some effort should be made to inquire further into the matter. I simply put down the amendment to suggest that the Land Commission should inquire into this case and endeavour to grant some compensation to the tenants.
The Deputy should understand that the Land Commission has power already in such a case, and it is not necessary to insert this amendment.
The particular case which we have in mind is not covered.
There is a case down in South Kilkenny, on the borders of the Nore, where the embankments were broken down. It came under the provisions of the Act of 1923. Whatever provision was made for maintenance either the amount of money from the trusteship failed or the trustees did not do their work. I think both. The result was that the banks broke and a considerable amount of valuable land was flooded and rendered useless. I do not know to whom the tenant is to look for compensation in that particular case. He cannot look for compensation to the landlord. It is the work of the State to put that matter right. The tenant is in a very bad way. I understand the Land Commission is again going to make an effort to put the embankment right. I want to say now that the efforts made by the Land Commission previously to do this work failed. If the individual in charge of that job was an engineer then the sooner all the engineers in Ireland are hung the better.
The cases I have in mind are not alone the breaking of the embankments but the fact that the land has been rendered useless for years as a result of being flooded. These people have been sued for rents, and they maintain that it is not fair or equitable to insist on their paying rents for land rendered absolutely useless. They claim that these embankments should have been kept in repair by the landlord. The landlord, taking advantage of the 1923 Act, or of its approach, declined to carry out his undertaking, with the result that in 1919 the flooding of the lands commenced, and up to 1928 a considerable portion of these lands was rendered useless. The point we want to cover is this: The landlord was responsible, and it is only fair and right that some portion of the rent for which these tenants are now being sued should be deducted from the money paid to the landlords for this land. I understand that the guarantee deposit will, of course, cover the future maintenance of the embankments, but we want also to see that the tenants are reimbursed the amounts they will have to pay for land rendered useless as the result of the negligence of the landlords.
I think the Parliamentary Secretary should accept this amendment. It applies to another drainage of which he is aware—a case in Wexford. The Land Commission had power under the 1927 Act to compel the landlord to put this drainage into repair, but for the past twelve years the tenants have been suffering very seriously owing to the neglect of the landlord to maintain the drainage. The main portion of the land of three tenants is under water for practically the whole year round, and this has been going on now for over ten years. These people are suffering great hardship. It is only right that compensation should be given as asked by Deputy Derrig under this section. The Land Commission and the Judicial Commissioner should see what compensation the tenants are entitled to if the case is proved that they have been suffering a grievance owing to the inaction of the landlord. This section should be accepted. The lands are under water practically the whole year round, and the Land Commission is well aware of it.
We are very anxious that the Committee Stage of the Bill should be finished to-day. If there was general agreement I would move that the House should sit until the completion of the Committee Stage. I hope to take the Report Stage next Friday.
The Minister could not take the Report Stage next week.
We had hoped to take it on Friday.
I object. It would be utterly impossible for us over the weekend to prepare the amendments which we think necessary to move on the Report Stage.
Would there not be sufficient time, as we would not be taking the Report Stage until Friday next?
I understood that the whole of next week would be devoted to the Appropriation Bill.
We have a very large number of amendments that we purpose bringing in on the Report Stage and there will not be sufficient time to prepare them. It would not be possible to do it in three or four days. A great many matters arose during the debate on this Bill in Committee that a large number of the Deputies did not expect to arise. These matters will require very careful consideration in the drafting of amendments.
It would be quite impossible for us to get amendments ready, if the Report Stage is to be on Friday next. It has taken two years on the part of the Government to prepare the ground work, and I do not see now, why we should facilitate the Government.
It is not the Government that is being facilitated. The Deputy can make up his mind about that.