Land Bill, 1933—First Stage.

Leave granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend generally the law, finance, and practice relating to land purchase, and in particular to make further and better provision for the execution of the functions of the judicial and lay Commissioners of the Land Commission and to provide for the revision of purchase annuities and certain other annual payments and for the funding of arrears thereof, and to provide for other matters connected with the matters aforesaid.—(Minister for Defence (Mr. Aiken) for the Minister for Lands and Fisheries.)

I propose to take the Second Stage to-morrow week, 6th July, 1933.

When will the Bill be circulated?

It is hoped to have it in the hands of Deputies by Saturday morning at the latest.

In view of the fact that the purpose of this Bill is to reopen the whole land question in Ireland, I submit that we ought to have more than four days to consider it. Accordingly, I ask the Minister to have it postponed until at least this day fortnight. Might I ask the Minister how many sections there are in the Bill?

About 49 sections.

The Minister says that there are about 49 sections. I submit that it is not reasonable to expect us to examine and study such a Bill in three days.

If there is one question about which the Deputies in the House should know something it is the land question, and I think Deputies ought to be able to make up their minds about it in that time.

This is a new Land Bill. We have had various prognostications as to what its provisions are and I think the time allotted for its consideration is insufficient. On a previous occasion when a much simpler measure than this was introduced, Deputies opposite asked for a fortnight for its consideration and they got a fortnight. I see no reason why a fortnight should not be given for consideration of this measure. This measure is a departure from, whereas the previous measure was an extension or modification of, existing legislation. If one takes what is proposed together with what Ministers have said as to what is included in the Bill, I think that a longer period than three days is necessary for its consideration.

If it had been possible to give a fortnight or even a month for its consideration there would be no objection but the Land Bill must be passed and everybody knows that it will take a month at least to get it through. The important time in a Land Bill is from the time it gets into the hands of Deputies until the Second Stage. We want to take the Second Stage as soon as possible in order to give as long a time as possible for consideration between the Second Stage and the Committee Stage.

Would the Minister say how long has this Bill been under consideration? What other Bills were considered until this final draft was in the Minister's hands?

This is the only Bill.

The Minister says this is the only Bill. How long was this Bill in course of preparation?

I do not know how long.

I have no desire whatever to obstruct the Acting Minister for Lands and Fisheries but he must realise, and the Government must realise, that it is not reasonable to introduce a Bill here, which, as I have already said, is going to reopen the whole question of land settlement in this country, without giving us adequate time to consider it when it is being discussed in principle. I submit respectfully that the important time is not between the Second Stage and the Committee Stage but between the First Stage and the Second Reading when the full implications of the Bill will have to be studied in all their meanings. I think that to-morrow week is altogether too short a time to permit of proper examination of the Bill.

If one is to judge by the title of this Bill, it is of a much more comprehensive character than the Bill of 1931. When the Fianna Fáil Party were in Opposition they insisted on getting a fortnight between the introduction of the Bill and the Second Reading Stage in order to have adequate time for its consideration. Surely, the Minister, chiefly because of the revolutionary character of this Bill which he is about to introduce, should give Deputies at least a fortnight to master the different sections of the Bill. It will take at least a fortnight to do it, and the Minister knows that perfectly well.

If this Bill goes back for a fortnight, it means that the Dáil is going to be here until the 15th August.

That information does not frighten us.

There was much more urgency about the Bill of 1931, and yet a fortnight was allowed for its consideration. The Minister does not want this Bill until November next, and I submit that he has ample time.

I suggest that we take the Second Stage to-morrow week and, if there is any grave objection then, we will consider further discussion.

The Minister suggests that the Bill will be available possibly on Saturday. As far as country Deputies are concerned, that means it will reach them some time on Monday, and they will be asked to take part in the Second Reading debate on Thursday.

Even if the Minister postponed it until Tuesday week it would be some concession. It does seem to be extreme that he should stick out for Thursday of next week in spite of the objections that have been made.

I have already said that postponing it will mean remaining here until the middle of August.

We cannot possibly study a Bill of 49 sections between Monday and Thursday. There is grave objection on that account. All we ask for is a reasonable time to read and study the Bill, and then we will not hold up the Bill further. I suggest that it would be of advantage to everybody if we fixed it for Tuesday week.

All right. I am satisfied to have the Second Stage on Tuesday week.

Second Stage ordered for Tuesday, 11th July, 1933.