Yes, and this measure is introduced by Fianna Fáil. The three F's that our fathers fought for are being done away with by this Bill, introduced by Fianna Fáil. There is no hope for any farmer, holding land and working it, under this Bill. There is nothing whatever to prevent the Government or the Land Commission coming down the morning after it is passed and taking his land from him. Mention was made of a certain ex-member of this House buying land recently in his native county. I believe his name was mentioned in the House, and that it was stated ex-Deputy Gorey paid £2,310 for a farm while there are landless men in Mayo, in Connemara and West Cork—and we have congests in West Cork. I should like to know what the Fianna Fáil supporters in ex-Deputy Gorey's constituency would think if they had migrants from Mayo or Galway or West Cork brought up and this land distributed amongst them in Kilkenny. Of course, I suppose migrants and landless men should have a better right to it than ex-Deputy Gorey with his six or seven sons at work on the land, knowing their jobs and having paid out of their honest toil for the land. They did not pay for it with money robbed from banks or other institutions.
Under this Bill the Minister is going to acquire land for the relief of congestion for landless men who are workshies. He is to get land for these people while we with our land fully stocked, fully equipped with farm implements, with generations of experience behind us cannot make the land pay at the present moment. How does the Minister expect that handless men and congests and follows who never worked without capital or equipment are going to make the land pay. I hold this is a most inopportune time to introduce a measure of this kind. If the Government at the moment were going to give us back our markets and were going to open up the one market that absorbed our surplus produce I could go a long way with it in agreeing that it was right to introduce a measure of this sort. Again, I could see reason for introducing a short Land Bill that would deal with matters that perhaps were not dealt with under previous Land Bills. I know there are questions of fee farm grants and of tithe rent charges which are relics of the penal days. They are mentioned in this Bill, I believe, but they are not dealt with fairly. I think they should be wiped out altogether. We have also the holders of potential building ground. So far as I can read this Bill it means no advance whatever in Acts passed by this Dáil since it was established. So far as I can see, there has been no advance by any attempt to deal with these three cases I have mentioned. There should, of course, also be included a reduction of the annuities by half, but everybody knows that that is a humbug and a farce. Everybody knows that by reducing them by half you are wiping them out because under existing conditions everybody knows it would be impossible to collect them.
There is another aspect that I would like to deal with. Here in this country we are a sort of economic unit. In my constituency in West Cork we have a number of congests; we have no land for sub-division, but we are hard workers and good workers. We find that under our system we have to sell our small cattle as yearlings because we could not hold them any longer as we have to depend on the sale of milk and butter in the summer and we could not have both young cattle and dairy produce. We find that landholders—some people would call them ranchers—go around West Cork and Kerry and other congested areas and buy from the small farmers their yearling cattle at good prices. They take them away from these areas to their own lands and they fatten them in the cheapest way it is possible for any man to fatten cattle and that is by turning them out on the grass. They bought them from us and when they fattened them they used to sell them on the British market. These people from these big ranch areas of Kildare, Westmeath, Meath and portion of Dublin probably, bought at least 70 per cent. of our young cattle. Is it the policy of the Government to get these congests and landless men, without money and means and without the wherewithal to work the land, into these areas and to distribute the ranches amongst these people who know nothing about farming or cattle and know absolutely nothing about anything at all connected with agriculture? You are going to divide these ranches amongst them. You are going to get them to produce commodities; to get them to grow wheat, oats, potatoes and young cattle that we have been endeavouring to produce, and that we have produced well in the past—and we got our market for them, too. They are going to produce in competition with us and the result will be that we will have a surplus of commodities and as somebody mentioned a few days ago, we will reach the stage where the bonhams were let go with the tide because they could not be fed or sold; or the stage, as in the County Louth, the Minister's own constituency, where they let hundreds of tons of potatoes rot in the field because they had no market for them. That is the condition we will be left in if this Bill is carried through. We will produce and continue to produce and we will have no market.
As I said, this State is an economic unit and each area works into the other area. Our people before us, who have been in agriculture for generations, who knew their job as well as we do, and perhaps better than we do, found that a system established in their area suited that particular area. When you change from that system, as we had to change during the big War, down in places like Limerick and portions of Tipperary—the Golden Vein—where they were obliged to till a portion of their land, the wheat rotted because the land was not suited for it. That was 15 or 16 years ago. They tried to grow oats and it was never reaped because the land was not suited for it. They had to give up the one industry that they knew and in which they were able to beat the world—the butter industry. The land ploughed up at that time in an endeavour to grow wheat and oats will not be in the same position for the next 30 years to produce butter as land that had not been tilled for the last 50 or 60 years. It is all very well to talk about the distribution of land and giving it to landless men and congests, but, first of all, you want years of training for the landless men and congests before you can put them on the land, because any man who knows anything about it knows that land and agriculture at the moment is most scientific and anybody who does not know his job has no business on the land. He must know his job and he must know it well. I have forgotten more about agriculture than all the Front Bench of Fianna Fáil put together ever knew. I say to them that it is impossible for any man to produce at the moment at a profit, or even to be able to keep going.
The big point in this Bill is the loss of free sale and the insecurity that follows on it, and the fact that what our people fought and suffered for in the past is going to be filched from us now. From the time of the passing of the Land Act, we saw and we remember the times when the farmsteads in our country were neglected; when there was no drainage of bogs; when the farmer had no security with the result that he would have no interest in it: and we saw, once he got fixity of tenure and security and once his land was purchased, the great change that took place on the face of the country-side —nice houses, well-kept places and well-kept farms. That was all over the State. It was obvious to everybody. That is going to disappear now. We are going now, as a result of this insecurity, to go back to the position in which our grandfathers were, in which we will have no interest in the land. Why should we? We do not know but that "Seán a Scuab" is going to have the place for which we slaved and in which we spent all our lives.
Another matter that is of great importance is the question of arrears that is being dealt with in this Bill. Again, we have the Fianna Fáil Government, I suppose, coming to the help of those—and there are a lot of them all over the country, and I know them—who are worthless and do not want to pay anything. These are the supporters of Fianna Fáil. These are the fellows who want to pay nothing; who do not want to pay the banks, or to pay their rates, or annuities, or anything. Their hope that they need not pay anything is realised in this Bill. These are the type of men with ten years of arrears of annuities and the arrears are now wiped out. This is what we have now. I said, and I repeat, that the people who are supporting the Fianna Fáil Government— the farmers who are supporting it— are the down-and-outs.