Public Business. - Land Bill, 1933—Second Stage.

I beg to move:—

"That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

In order to give the Dáil and the country an opportunity of discussing the Bill on its merits, I wish to give, firstly, an outline of the general situation out of which the necessity for its introduction arose; secondly, the objects which it is hoped to achieve by means of the Bill; and, thirdly, a general explanation of the various sections.

In regard to the general situation, it is well known that there is a large number of uneconomic holdings in the country on which large families have to eke out an existence, and that, on the other hand, there is a very big number of ranches and estates on which there are very few people employed. If farms of 100 acres and upwards were to give employment to one man for every 40 acres, work would be created for an additional 100,000 men on the land. All over the congested districts there are large numbers of people living on farms the poor law valuation of which is £2 or £3. Heretofore the children in these families emigrated and helped to keep their parents by sending back portion of the wages they earned abroad. Emigration has ceased completely, and an outlet must be found for the 15,000 or 20,000 additional young boys who are reaching the age when they must seek employment. In present circumstances a strenuous effort must be made to provide a livelihood for them on the land. The utter impossibility of satisfying the desires of all the people who wish to get possession of land sometimes is a nightmare to those who are immediately responsible for the division of land, but, looking at the matter broadly, we have a right to be thankful that in this age, when people are deserting the land by the million in other countries, our people are still animated by the virile and healthy desire to till the soil.

There are two ways of securing increased livelihoods from the land— one is to divide it among uneconomic holders and landless men, and the other, to encourage such use of the land as will induce the owner to employ agricultural workers. For a number of years the Land Commission have been engaged on the division of large estates. Deputies from all sides of the House have been urging the Land Commission to speed up this work, but very few realise the legal and other difficulties which the Land Commission have to surmount before they can divide even a single estate. If the Land Commission were to divide one million acres under the existing system, it would take about 30 years to complete the work.

Apart from the division of land, the Land Commission is overwhelmed with other vast and intricate problems, such as the rearrangement of rundale holdings and the vesting and completion of land purchase. At every step which they take to solve any of their problems they are met with serious obstacles. For the information of the Deputies I am circulating a map of a number of typical rundale holdings which the Land Commission have been trying to rearrange, and on which one official has spent almost two years without getting agreement. The clearing up of these congested slums has been neglected for ten years. Whenever the Land Commission propose to take a few families out of a congested district they are met with bitter opposition in their efforts to secure alternative holdings for them in other districts. In many cases they endeavour to relieve congestion by the acquisition of a large farm, subject to land purchase annuity, in the immediate neighbourhood. Before they can acquire this vested farm, if the owner declines to sell to them, they have, as the law stands, to secure for the owner a farm in another district, equally suitable and of not less market value. In many instances they have been years trying to find an alternative farm which the owner would accept, and then only to find that the people in the locality were "up in arms" at the idea of a stranger getting a large tract of land in their midst. Section 28 of this Bill will enable the Land Commission to acquire vested land for the relief of congestion much more easily and speedily. It restricts the privilege of demanding an alternative holding to residental owners who work the lands on which they reside as ordinary farmers. Where the farmer is the vested owner of a holding valued £2,000 or over the Land Commission can take the surplus over £2,000 without being compelled, as heretofore, to provide him with an alternative holding equally suitable and of equal market value. If, however, they desire to acquire a holding under £2,000 value, or the whole of a larger holding, the owner can demand that he shall be provided with an alternative holding of equal market value to the holding he is surrendering, up to the maximum of £2,000 market value—the balance (if any) to be paid for in land bonds.

At present, failing agreement with the owners of untenanted land which the Land Commission desire to acquire, a lengthy procedure is necessary: declaration that the land is required for the relief of congestion; publication inIris Oifigiúil; hearing by the Land Commission of owner's objection; decision (after further inspection if necessary); appeal by owner; hearing of the case by the Judicial Commissioner; examination of the land in most cases by the Judicial Commissioner's assessor; decision of Judicial Commissioner and fixing of the price; consideration of the price by the Land Commission and decision as to whether to go on with the case or withdraw from the proceedings. All this takes a very long time even under the most favourable circumstances. It is necessary to make sure that legal requirements are complied with in every detail, and legal business is always slow.

It has been found that the safegaurds given to home farms and demesne lands have operated to impede the work of the Land Commission in the relief of congestion. In one case the Land Commission failed to obtain some 600 acres, on which only a few men were employed, of a protected estate consisting of 1,320 acres of good land situated in a district where the lands were urgently required for the relief of congestion. Sections 28, 29, 31 and 33 will prevent such as state of affairs arising again. On the whole, the Land Commission officials—particularly those engaged in the acquisition and distribution of land—have the most arduous work assigned to them of any body of civil servants I know, the difficulties of which are not appreciated by those who do not know it intimately. It is absolutely necessary to enable them to expedite their work, and the proposals in this Bill will sweep away a number of the legal and administrative technicalities that clog progress.

One of the principal objects for which Fianna Fáil was founded was to establish on the land as many families as practicable. This was also one of the fundamental objects of the old Sinn Féin Movement and of the First Dáil. The Bill is designed to meet the needs of the present situation and to rearrange the administration of the Land Commission so that the object which the Government have in view may be achieved with the shortest possible delay. The Land Commission was set up here when the people had very little contact with their governors, and when the Ministers in London had neither the desire nor the opportunity to supervise in detail its administration in the interests of the Irish people. Before the setting-up of the Free State there were a number of other Departments operating on the same basis; notably the Intermediate Education Commissioners, the Commissioners of Education, the Department of Agriculture, the Forestry Commissioners, and the Local Government Department. Since 1922 the six Departments I have mentioned, and seven others, have been reorganised to conform to the new situation. The Bill proposes to bring the Land Commission into line with all the other Government Departments, and to give to the Minister whom the Dáil holds responsible for it the same authority over its administration and general policy as other Ministers have over the Departments for which they are responsible. The power to determine the individuals from whom land is to be taken or to whom it is to be given or the price to be paid for it, is expected from the powers given to the Minister and will be exercised by the Commissioners. A new appeal tribunal is being set up to hear appeals against the actions of the Land Commission in all cases except such as a majority of the tribunal agree are matters of law. In the Committee Stage it is proposed to amend Section 7 so as to provide that the lay members of the appeal tribunal shall be Land Commissioners appointed by the Executive Council instead of by the Minister.

In order that lands may be divided more quickly it is proposed to give the Land Commission power to acquire lands on the basis of a provisional price so that when it is definitely decided that lands shall be acquired for the purposes of the Act, these lands can be entered upon at once without waiting for a year, or three years, or five years, until all the legal technicalities have been overcome. When the lands are taken over the price will be fixed provisionally by the Land Commission, and on this price interest will be paid to the apparent owner, until all matters of price and title have been finally determined. Allotments can be made forthwith and provisional rents fixed pending the settlement of the price which the owner shall be paid. It is anticipated that this will enable the Land Commission to distribute land quickly and give the people who need it access to the soil. It will be a vast improvement on the present system whereby the Land Commission are compelled to spend years wrestling with legal difficulties, while the people who should be using the land are standing idle looking at it going to waste.

Part III of the Bill, dealing with arrears and revision of Land Purchase Annuities, is introduced in consequence of the Government's promise to halve all land annuity payments and to give additional relief to the lands acquired and sub-divided under the Soldiers and Sailors and 1923 Acts. It offers to every tenant-purchaser, actual or prospective, far-reaching benefits by way of reduction in the amount of his annuity and funding his arrears. Tithe Rent charges will also be halved where the payer is also a land annuity payer. An additional 5 per cent. reduction is given to the tenants who acquired allotments under the Soldiers and Sailors and 1923 Acts, giving them a reduction, all told, of 55 per cent.

In order to relieve a large number of people who have got into arrears and give them a chance to "find their feet," it is proposed to fund arrears and make them repayable in equal instalments over 50 years. It is also proposed to forgive all arrears over three years—the result being that in very few cases will the payment of the funding annuity, plus the land annuity, amount to more than 65 per cent. of the annual payments due heretofore, no matter how many years' arrears the payer owes.

So much by way of general introduction and explanation. I shall now deal in a little more detail with a certain of the provisions of the Bill which, as Deputies will see, is divided into four parts concerned respectively with (1) general matters such as definitions; rules and provision for expenses; (2) changes in the Land Commission organisation; (3) changes in respect of purchase annuities and other payments, and (4) mainly with the extension of the powers of the Land Commission in regard to the acquisition and division of land. I do not intend at this stage to take up the clauses of the Bill seriatim. That will come later, on the Committee Stage.

Part I calls for no special explanation at the moment. It is made up of the usual necessary clauses regarding definitions, the making of rules and the payment of expenses.

Part II I have already dealt with. Its seven sections embrace just two points—first, the definition of the duties and responsibilities of the Minister and the Commissioners; second, the establishment of an Appeal Tribunal to hear and decide appeals and objections such as have hitherto been heard and decided by a single authority, the Judicial Commissioner. The tribunal will be composed of the Judicial Commissioner as Chairman and two other Land Commissioners nominated for the purpose by the Executive Council. I want to call the attention of Deputies to this change from the wording they will find in the Bill before them. I shall introduce the necessary amendment at the Committee Stage.

As regards Part III, I need not deal at any length with the funding of unpaid instalments of Land Purchase Annuities and other annual charges or with the permanent reduction to be granted in the amounts of annuities and other annual charges from the second gale day of 1933 and thenceforward, as Deputies are already familiar with the announced policy of the Government under these heads. One innovation, however, which will be good news to some heavily involved annuitants, is the proposal in Section 12 to wipe out such arrears of annuities as exceed three years' accumulation. This is a generous gesture intended to encourage defaulters, many of whom are deserving and were unable to meet their liability because of circumstances outside their control. Any attempt to recover debts so long due would merely have the effect of putting a recurring decimal on the default of the tenant purchasers concerned, and the Government propose to write them off. We propose to apply the privilege of funding to arrears up to three years' accumulations so as to cover all sums in the nature of purchase annuities, actual or prospective. The method of funding arrears of annuities is that the Land Commission shall ascertain the amount of arrears of annuity due on the 15th of July, 1933, in respect of each holding, together with the appropriate costs of any proceedings for their recovery, and so much of the sums so found due as shall not exceed three years' annuities with appropriate costs shall be repayable with interest at 4½ per cent. from the gale days of May-June, 1933, by means of a "funding annuity" payable for a period of 50 years. The funding annuity will be consolidated with the existing annuity, so as to avoid duplication of payments.

The same method is to be applied to Sections 13, 14, 15, 16, to arrears of payment in lieu of rent, interest in lieu of rent, and rent and interest payable by tenants or allottees of the Land Commission and to annuities collectable by the Commissioners of Public Works under the Landlord and Tenant (Ireland) Act 1870. In all cases of default we have stayed proceedings and the costs of decrees are to be funded on the same basis as the principal debt. It must be understood, however, that these provisions do not apply to persons who are not tenants or allottees of the Land Commission—for example persons who have taken grazing lettings of lands in the hands of the Land Commission pending division.

The arrears which have accumulated under all the Land Acts over all the years to the 31st December, 1932, amount to the sum of £2,972,000. From this has to be deducted about £250,000 representing the arrears over the three years' mark which are now to be written off as bad debts. This leaves some £2,722,000 of "old arrears" to be funded. But the funding proposals also apply to those tenant-purchasers (actual or prospective) who find themselves unable to pay the first gale of the current year. The collectable charge for this gale under all the Land Purchase Acts and under all heads amounts to about £2,160,000, but it is expected that an appreciable proportion of annuitants will be able and willing to pay the instalment rather than have it funded. The total, therefore, of sums to be funded will probably come to over £4,500,000, the repayment of which will be spread over 50 years at an annuity rate which works out at about 6d. per half year for every £1 of debt so funded.

So much for the past. As regards the future, tenant purchasers generally will under Section 12 be called upon to pay only 50 per cent. of their present liability as from the gale days May-June, 1933, and this applies also to future annual payments under the heads of payment in lieu of rent, interest in lieu of rent and rent and interest payable by tenants or allottees of the Land Commission, so that tenants will not suffer any disadvantage by delays which may be necessarily incurred in putting them on a purchase annuity basis. An exception, however, is made to the general scheme of having annuities, etc., in favour of two classes of allottees of parcels of land purchased by the Land Commission at such prices as involved disproportionately high annuities. It is felt that in equity such exceptional annuities should be brought nearer to the common level, and accordingly it is proposed to reduce them by 55 per cent. instead of by 50 per cent. The classes who will thus benefit are allottees of lands purchased under the Act of 1919, when the price of land was greatly inflated, and allottees of lands purchased under the Land Acts, 1923-'31, who have also had to bear a disproportionately high annuity on the prices of their parcels of land purchased at a time when agricultural prices and consequently land values were much higher than at present.

It is proposed in Section 12 (3) to revise not only all existing annuities, etc., but also to revise future annuities to be set up under the Land Purchase Acts, excluding however annuities created on resales to owners. The Bill includes a proposal in Section 24 to give to annuities subject to a third decadal revision under Section 25 of the Land Act, 1896, the advantage of enjoying such revision as from the 1st day of May, 1933, notwithstanding that the decadal period would not have been reached by that date. The revised annuity will then be subject to the general reduction of 50 per cent.

Section 17 deals with arrears of rent due by sub-tenants on holdings vested in the Land Commission under Section 9 of the Land Act, 1931, so as to give them the same benefit which their immediate landlord is to receive under the revision clauses of the Bill. Section 18 deals with the funding of arrears and the revision of tithes payable by annuitants and perpetuity rents and mortgages on agricultural holdings payable into the Church Temporalities Fund by occupying farmers, so that practically every class of farmer coming within the scope of the Land Acts is included in its proposals.

Redemption of the new revised annuities may take place under Section 22 on much the same lines as hitherto. The amount of the redemption value will be calculated on the annuity payable prior to the revision and then reduced proportionately to the amount of revision. The redemption money of annuities under Acts prior to the 1923 Act will be disposed of for the benefit of the Exchequer as may be directed by the Minister for Finance. Funding annuities may be redeemed in whole or in part by payment in cash of the value of the outstanding instalments.

As regards the financial provisions consequent on the funding and revision of annuities, it is proposed that the deficiency in the Purchase Annuities Fund or in the Land Bond Fund arising from the revision of annuities shall not be a charge upon the Guarantee Fund, while not relieving the Guarantee Fund from liability to make good any other deficiency in either fund. That is to say, the Guarantee Fund will remain liable for any arrears of the reduced annuities payable in future. It is further proposed that the provisions of the Land Purchase Acts relating to the contingent portion of the Guarantee Fund shall cease to have effect, as they have become obsolete.

It is proposed in Section 26 that the charge on the Guarantee Fund in respect of deficiencies arising from the funding of annuities under the 1923-31 Acts due on the first gale day of 1933 shall be made good to the Land Bond Fund out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas, to such extent as may be determined by the Minister for Finance. All deficiencies in the Land Bond Fund arising from the revision of annuities and other annual payments are to be made good out of moneys to be provided by the Oireachtas; and, on the other hand, so much of a revised annuity paid into the Land Bond Fund as represents a funding annuity is to be paid thereout to the Exchequer.

I now come to the general provisions of the fourth portion of the Bill. In the first place we propose by Section 27 to add to the remedies for the recovery of land purchase annuities the power to issue direct to the under-sheriff a warrant for the recovery of sums due by defaulters. This will result in a saving of time in the District and Circuit Courts and will ease considerably the burden of costs on defaulters. Under the present system the defaulter is often burdened with costs which amount to two or three times his debt to the Land Commission. The section fully safeguards the rights and interests of the citizen, to which a man is entitled even when he fails to pay his annuity, and at the same time it saves his pocket considerable further expense.

Next come some very important provisions in Section 28 as regards the acquisition of land for division by the Land Commission. Under this head, the Bill proposes to repeal subsections 4 and 5 of Section 24 of the Land Act, 1923, and to amend subsections 2 and 3 of that section. These sub-sections restrict the general powers of the Land Commission to acquire untenanted land for division and have become in practice a serious impediment to progress. Under shelter of them individual owners of extensive lands in badly congested districts have either successfully resisted all the efforts of the Land Commission to acquire much-needed areas or have delayed their acquisition for years, and in many cases these lands were outlying farms on which there was no residence and which were being let for grazing year after year. The right under the existing law of the proprietor or tenant of land declared to be required for the relief of congestion to demand an alternative holding equally suitable and of not less value, instead of accepting payment in Land Bonds, has been particularly difficult to meet, as of course acceptable alternative holdings are rarely available and the phrase "equally suitable" which occurs in clause (b) of sub-section 4 of the Land Act, 1923, has presented an almost impregnable line of defence for the owner. The Bill proposes to eliminate the point as to an alternative holding being "equally suitable" and to limit the right of the provision of an alternative holding of equal value tobona fide resident farmers, whose holdings of land do not exceed in all £2,000 in market value, but a concession is made to proprietors of holdings valued higher than this in that they may require to be provided with an alternative holding up to the value of £2,000 and receive the balance of the price in Land Bonds. Thus, the genuine farmer who lives and works on a holding of reasonable size is fully protected, and the right of appeal to another tribunal in case of dissatisfaction is preserved.

It is proposed further in Section 28 (6) and Section 28 (5) that the declaration of the Lay Commissioners that land is required for the relief of congestion shall suffice for the purposes of the Acts and that where land is so declared publication of a provisional list as prescribed by Section 40 of the Land Act, 1923, shall no longer be necessary. The double procedure of the declaration and provisional list is cumbersome and costly and simply slows up the work by requiring two operations to effect the one result. The declaration of the Commissioners that land is required may be appealed against on questions of law or value, but it is to be final as regards the fact that the land is necessary and must be acquired.

Section 29 contains proposals for avoiding delay in the taking possession of untenanted lands by the Land Commission in cases where the provisional list or declaration has been duly published and any objections disposed of, by way of the Land Commission declaring the appointed day for the lands before the price is finally agreed upon or fixed. A provisional price would be declared, and any necessary financial adjustments made later when the final price was fixed in accordance with the existing provisions of the Land Purchase Acts (as now to be amended). Deputies who have had experience of a long interval between the provisional list stage and the actual division of untenanted lands urgently required for the relief of congestion will appreciate the necessity of such a provision as this, even though it may give a certain amount of administrative inconvenience.

In Section 30 power is being sought to simplify Land Commission procedure in regard to the resumption of unvested holdings. Here again, the principle we are adopting is that if the Land Commission require these lands in the public interest they must be enabled to get them, and speedily. A declaration or certificate by the Commissioners will in future be acted on by the court as sufficient warrant for authorising the resumption of a holding or part of a holding, and if the Commissioners require the land for immediate distribution the court will give possession even before the resumption price is settled. In such a case, of course, interest will be payable on the purchase price as from the date of possession.

It is next proposed to extend the powers which the Land Commission already possess for the compulsory acquisition of land for the relief of congestion so as to cover acquisition with a view to division among the persons or bodies mentioned in Section 31 of the Land Act, 1923. That is to say, that the Land Commission is not to be restricted by a technical definition such as "relief of congestion," but may, where necessary and possible, acquire lands throughout the State for division amongst uneconomic holders, evicted tenants, discharged employees, migrants, trustees for turbary, pasture, etc., suitable landless men, and so on. And their jurisdiction in this respect is to be absolute and not subject to reference to the Appeal Tribunal, except on a question of law or value. If the Land Commission are to distribute land rapidly and on a large scale, they must have a freer hand than they have hitherto had, and it is the purpose of this Bill to give them greater scope for their land settlement operations.

Yet another restriction under the present law which needs removal is that contained in the last sentence of Section 24 of the Land Act, 1927, by which the Land Commission is stopped for a period of seven years from renewing proceedings for the acquisition of lands from which they have withdrawn from purchase or resumption, because the price fixed on appeal was too high to make resale to allottees practicable on reasonable terms. Section 32 proposes to remove this restriction in so far as it applies to proceedings prior to the passing of this Act.

Another restriction on progress which Section 33 seeks to modify is the exception made in Section 24 (2) of the Land Act, 1923, in favour of "residential" holdings, or demesnes, homeparks and the like. In the absence of a precise definition as to residential character, evasion has been possible on the score of a residence or mansion house which was practically derelict. This section proposes that such derelict residences shall no longer protect lands required for division. It further lays down that whether a holding has been let for a residence or not is now to be determined by reference to its user at the date of the passing of this Act and at five yearly intervals afterwards. Hitherto the character of one of these residential holdings and the question of whether it came within the Land Code or not had to be settled by reference to its user in August, 1923, a provision which, owing to the altered circumstances of many holdings, has been giving rise to difficulties and injustice.

The remainder of the Bill is concerned with a number of points of varying degrees of importance on which further legislation is required in order to amplify existing powers of the Land Commission or to provide for certain technicalities, and I need not refer particularly to them all at this stage. I would mention, however, a few of the more important proposals.

The loss of land by erosion has given rise to considerable complaint on the part of tenants who were liable for payments in respect of land which they no longer possessed. Power is now sought in Section 34 to relieve both tenant purchasers and ratepayers by wiping out entirely the annuity charged on lands which have been permanently submerged.

It is proposed under Section 35 to empower the Land Commission to review the amounts of the standard purchase annuities published under Section 9 of the Land Act, 1931, in cases where the Commissioners are not satisfied on investigation that these annuities bear a just relation to the value of the holdings and the Land Commission is being authorised to fix the annuities at the amounts for which the holdings afford security. As the law stands, it is not open to the tenant, landlord or Land Commission to seek a variation of the standard purchase annuity on a judicial holding, and the Land Commission cannot on their own initiative reduce the standard purchase annuity on a nonjudicial holding except where that annuity has been agreed upon by the landlord and tenant. It is not expected that the Land Commission will find it necessary to exercise in very many cases the discretion now proposed to be given to them alone, but it is expected that the conferring of this power may benefit an appreciable number of cases of known hardship.

In Section 36, mill holdings which are substantially agricultural are to get the benefits of land purchase although the mill may be in use; so also tenanted lands excluded from previous Land Acts as being suitable in future for building ground, if not already resumed by the landlord, are, under Section 42, to be brought forthwith within the Land Purchase Acts.

It is proposed in Section 37 to apply to land purchase the maxim that husband and wife are one, and so prevent evasion of the law by family ownership.

It is proposed in Section 38 to amend some of the provisions of Section 44 of the Land Act, 1931, dealing with the purchase of lands held under fee-farm grants or long leases, in accordance with practical difficulties found in the working of that section. Experience has shown that some of the annuities, if fixed under this section as it stands, would be beyond the amounts which the holdings could reasonably bear, and it is now proposed that powers should be conferred to vary such annuities by fixing them at the amounts for which the holdings afford security. It is proposed to repeal Section 38 of the Land Act, 1923, which dealt with the redemption of head rents, in order to bring this class of tenure under the one procedure in future.

It is proposed in Section 43 to extend the powers of the Land Commission for the acquisition of bogs, in view of the anticipated development of the peat industry.

I think I have now said enough to indicate the main purpose and provisions of the Bill, but perhaps it may be well to sum up a few of the principal features.

(1) The organisation of the Land Commission is being placed on a more definite and better working basis, and the powers and responsibilities of the responsible Minister and of the Commissioners are more closely defined and a new appeal tribunal is being established to deal with appeals from decisions of the Land Commission in those cases in which the law provides for appeals.

(2) All proceedings for the recovery of arrears due to the first gale day of 1933 (save in the case of the Church Temporalities Account payments where it is the first gale day after the passing of the Act) are to be stayed, unless a defence to such proceedings has been entered.

(3) The amount of the arrears and appropriate costs ascertained and a sum not exceeding three years' arrears and the costs, with interest at 4½ per cent., is to be made repayable by a funding annuity.

(4) Existing and future annuities are to be revised by 50 per cent., save in the case of annuities on resale of lands purchased under the Land Act, 1919, or vested in the Land Commission under Acts 1923-31, at the date of the introduction of this Bill, when the revision is 55 per cent.

(5) Powers are given to under-sheriffs to levy for arrears on warrant from the Land Commission without court proceedings.

(6) The Land Commission is given wider powers of altering the standard purchase annuities of holdings fixed under the 1923-31 Acts, where the question of security for the advance arises.

(7) The Land Commission is given the same compulsory powers of acquiring land for resale to persons or bodies to whom they now can resell lands acquired voluntarily, as they have already for the purpose of relieving congestion—and the powers of acquiring land for these purposes are enlarged by the removal of certain restrictions on such acquisition contained in the Land Act, 1923.

(8) Power is taken to fix a provisional price upon acquired holdings so that the new tenants can be producing the fruits of the soil while the legal gentlemen are carrying through the necessary legal formalities.

I believe that the speedy enactment of this Bill is a matter of national importance and that the underlying principles should have general support. We wish to give the annuitants and other payers the immediate benefit of funding and revision. We wish to speed up and enlarge the scope of the acquisition and division of untenanted land and to grapple energetically with the problem of congestion. These are vital matters for the agricultural community and will not brook delay. The Land Commission will have to face the big and urgent task of overhauling all their collection accounts and issuing new receivable orders in time for the November gale. They must also make provision for a large scale distribution of land. We shall, of course, welcome any constructive criticisms, but we are satisfied that the proposals contained in the Bill are the minimum that will enable the Land Commission to proceed effectively with the task entrusted to it and yet are the maximum that can be carried through expeditiously in present circumstances.

Deputies do not need to be reminded that agriculture is still the mainstay of our national economy. By various enactments we have striven to encourage an increase in tillage. Some of the proposals in this Land Bill may be considered as complementary to that policy.

We must distribute the available land so as to provide a livelihood for the greatest possible number of our population and to produce the greatest amount of national wealth. In this task we must be guided not so much by the size and value of farms as by their use and method of production. The day of the large and lazy rancher is over. The future lies with the industrious and intelligent farmer who is alive to modern needs and conditions. He has nothing to fear from this Bill, but, on the contrary, will get every encouragement. We look forward to a time not far hence when the land of Ireland will be economically and justly distributed and worked to the limits of its capacity for the benefit of the whole nation.

May I ask the Minister if he could say whether the Land Commission has at present power to issue land bonds?

No, but there is a Land Bonds Bill being brought in. At present they have not that power.

Mr. Hogan

That, of course, makes it very difficult to discuss this Bill. This Bill is merely for the purpose of acquiring land and paying a certain price in bonds. At present we do not know what these bonds will be worth, or at what rate they will be issued. That is a very important point, because the value of the bonds will, to some extent, depend upon the rate of interest at which they are to be issued. It is not indicated. We know there are drastic measures for acquiring land but we do not know about the bonds, and that makes it extremely difficult to discuss this Bill. With regard to the Bill itself, it is an attempt to deal with a very difficult pressing economic problem. The Bill itself is a purely political Bill; and that is the trouble with this Government. There are, of course, it must be admitted, a very large number of very pressing problems in this country—we need not go into that—apart altogether from the strictly agricultural problems. Every one of them is treated not upon its merits, as an economic or financial problem, but purely as a political problem. But on no one of these problems is there a national outlook. There are many serious problems facing this country at the moment because of the operations of this Government. No one of these problems has been faced honestly or from the national point of view, or with a view to its solution in the national interest. Every one of them is faced from one particular point of view, and that is the point of view of the political expediency of the Fianna Fáil Party.

This is a political Bill. I daresay it will go through. That seems certain, as there is a majority for it. In the main it will go through, but when it has gone through and has functioned, it will do not good, but unlimited harm and injustice to the best farmers in this country. I am perfectly convinced of that, and when all the tumult and the eye-wash contained in the Minister's speech is over this will be found to be the net result of this Bill. Coming to the Bill in its main provisions we find that the arrangements with regard to annuities and arrears come first. Everybody knows the Land Commission annuities cannot be collected now and everybody will admit that they cannot be collected now. Everyone knows, especially everyone who knows anything about farming, that for the last two years, since the economic war, they are unable to pay their annuities and their rates. Anyone who denies that knows nothing at all about agriculture. In that connection I think it is nothing short of scandalous that the Minister for Agriculture should go round the country, as he is doing, repeating in every speech he has been making, for the last month, the statement that the Land Bill is coming to the relief of the farmers of the country who cannot make their land pay. That is simply adding insult to injury. It is simply not good enough. I know farmers who work, who bought their land and have between 50 and 100 acres. They did not get that land soft and they did not get anything from anybody. They bought it through their own work and the work of their sons, by denying themselves and by working efficiently, employing the best methods and in that way were able to buy out their own land. They did not hesitate to make sacrifices. They worked hard and they always paid their way. At the present moment the real bitterness to them is that for the first time in their history, or in their father's history, they are not able to pay their way. And we have the Minister for Agriculture, who, at the moment, is getting a soft living out of politics, starting out and telling the people in the country that the Land Bill is a way out of their difficulties. He tells them sarcastically that the Land Bill is intended to give new life to farmers. Nobody can pay his annuities and if things go on as they are nobody will be able to pay. I suppose there must be some way out. But we, on this side of the House, did not make these difficulties. The Government opposite made them. I am perfectly convinced myself that the economic war could be ended, but I am also perfectly convinced now that President de Valera has no intention of ending it. I put the whole blame for the economic war upon the Government at the present time.

Anyway, it is there and farming cannot pay. Nobody can pay their annuities and people have got into arrears and there must be some way out of the difficulty. But look at what you are doing. I know people who in 1923, 1924, 1925, 1926, and 1928—comparatively good years when there were very few arrears and when farmers could make farming pay—spent their money having a good time, who allowed their sons to do the same thing during that period, who were more interested in the question of the Oath or the Treaty or in political issues than in their farm or in agriculture generally, and who piled up arrears year after year when they could pay them. Side by side with them, I know people on worse land—and every Deputy here with any experience of the country knows it also—who might have started in debt, but who were paying their way every year and paying their annuities every year. Those two classes of people reached the year 1931, one with six, seven, eight or nine gales in arrear, and the other with his annuities paid up-to-date through the sweat of his brow and brain. These two are living side by side. One of them had to go into arrears for the last two years. He could not pay his way. He could not pay the Land Commission. He has to pay all that back now with interest at 4½ per cent., I think, and the other man has all his arrears, with the exception of those three years, wiped out. Could there be anything more demoralising? Nothing could be more demoralising. That is the real injury that the Government has done in this country—the moral injury. They have put a discount on thrift and honesty and they have put a premium on softness and dishonesty and on every form of weakness.

I know a man myself with whom I had a certain amount of influence and, by reason of that influence, I forced him to make what he regarded as very heavy sacrifices in order to pay arrears in 1928, 1929, 1930 and 1931. He paid them. He was not a good farmer and was not inclined to pay them, but for certain reasons, into which I need not enter, I used my influence to make him pay these arrears and he did pay them. Now he will not look at me when he thinks of how he could have got out of it and of what he has lost. When one thinks of that picture, look at the demoralisation you have caused. I admit that something must be done and that you may be solving the problem financially by this means, but you are demoralising the farmers. I am quite certain that no farmer can pay even half the annuity in November except a farmer who goes out to make money in some other way. He will not make half the annuities out of the land under present conditions unless he does something else and gets the money to pay his annuities in that way.

If he has a wife who is a teacher or is a teacher himself he would be able to pay it all right.

Or a solicitor.

Mr. Hogan

Exactly—or a solicitor. No man at the present moment, under present circumstances, unless in some very rare case where he has a special market or where he is living near a town and can get something extra for some of his produce, can make half the rates and annuities out of his land. Everybody who has any knowledge of conditions in the country knows that. You will have to face up to this problem again, and I hope it will be faced up to with more honesty than has been the case so far.

Let us come on now to the question of acquisition. The problem of congestion is a very serious problem. I forget at the moment the number of congests undealt with up to the present time; but there is certainly a great number in Connemara alone. There are thousands of cases there undealt with, and it is the same all over the country. There are probably 20,000 or 30,000 cases to be dealt with. Everybody knows that the most drastic Land Bill in the world, even with absolute confiscation and cutting down holdings to a level not even contemplated by the Fianna Fáil Party, would not be adequate to deal with this problem. But such as they are, these congests are the real problem and they are entitled to be dealt with first. What is happening in this Bill? You are accepting landless men quite apart from herds and other suitable persons. That is good politics, I admit, but it is rotten economics and rotten national administration. I have seen a few landless men dealt with by the present Government, as they have power to deal with them, since they have come into office; and what did they give them? They were forced by the exigencies of the situation, by the shortage of land and the number of congests, to deal with the landless men. They gave them, in fact, uneconomic holdings, and instead of dealing with so many congests in place of these men, they simply added to the number of congests and I make bold to say that will be the administration of this Bill also. You will have a certain number of landless men under this Bill —I do not care how much land you confiscate—getting uneconomic holdings and you will be going back to the agricultural standards of living of 1848 because these men cannot live on such holdings, and you are taking away the only genuine labour market they have, namely, the efficient and bigger farmer. The general effect will be to depress the standard of agriculture generally much lower than it is at present, and probably to about the level in which it was in 1870; I will not go back as far as 1847. That is only done for political reasons. I know perfectly well that Deputies on the Fianna Fáil benches will probably get up and say: "Deputy Hogan is against dealing with landless men, but we will deal with them. We are going to see that every young men coming up from the country will have a chance to acquire land." You know that it is good politics to talk that way, or you think it is good politics, because no matter how ignorant you are there is not a single man on the opposite benches who does not know perfectly well that you cannot even make a beginning of dealing with this problem of the landless men by land purchase. You know that in each district, no matter how drastic your administration is, not 100 of these cases can be dealt with unless you come along and deal very much further with it and come down not to the £2,000 worth or the £1,000 worth of land but to the £500 worth of land.

It is my opinion that the real driving force behind this Bill in the benches opposite and also amongst the electorate is not so much that the people in favour of it expect very much out of it for themselves, but that they believe that even though they are not going to get much out of it, they will have the marvellous consolation of knowing that the other fellow will be stripped.

The supreme pleasure!

Mr. Hogan

Exactly—the supreme pleasure, to quote a famous authority, of knowing that the other fellow will be stripped. I believe that the Land Bill is drafted from that point of view. I think it is a rotten point of view. I think it is a weakening point of view. I believe you are leaving this country worse off than ever it was before, and that this Land Bill will go a long way to continue that condition of things. Every time you have tackled a big problem you have tackled it in a most demoralising way. Under the Land Act of 1923 there was an attempt to deal with the very difficult problem of congestion, and at the same time to preserve the security of tenure the Irish farmer had struggled for and, in fact, achieved since 1880 and even before it.

It was provided there that when once land was purchased by the State and re-sold to the tenant the tenant had fixity of tenure. It was realised that in certain circumstances it would be necessary, where congestion was very severe to take up land of that sort, but in order to preserve all the fixity and security that was there, it was provided that that man should get an equally suitable and not less valuable holding elsewhere. That safeguard is now definitely taken away. Remember this: we began there in 1881 and we reached that point. We are beginning there now and we will go back to where we were. There are people on the opposite Benches sneering at my speech and the point of view behind it. The day may come when they will not sneer, because that process now begun will go further than they think and lead farther than they think. I never saw anyone who cried so loudly afterwards as the person who sneered when he was safe. It is always the way. That safeguard is now wiped away. What have we instead of it? The owner of £2,000 worth of land, in the opinion of the Land Commission—I shall come to that later on—is entitled to a holding of equal value provided the holding is residential. Look at what that means. A.B. has a holding of 20 acres with his house on it on one receivable order. His father had that before him and he was a hard-working man. After the father's death he worked it and then bought 50 acres within a half mile of his place under another receivable order. The Land Commission can come down now on him and take the other 50 acres. That is the law as it stands in this Bill. That is the best type of farmer in the country—the sort of man that made Scotland, that made every country, the pushful hard-working type, the man who has a little holding and buys more land. He is not looking for anything soft from the Land Commission. He has been making money out of stock or tillage or other things, while other people have been spouting, and he has been able to buy 40 or 50 acres outside. Even though that land is vested in him, he has no rights because the Land Commission can take it up. That is the position. This Bill, according to the Acting-Minister for Lands and Fisheries, is going to encourage thrift and hard work. Could anyone work if that is the treatment he will get for it. As I say, such a man is the best type of farmer and, moreover, that sort of farmer was the agent of the Department of Agriculture through the country everywhere. The Department of Agriculture would be sterilised without him. He was their agent everywhere. He was the first man to get a premium bull, the first man to take up manuring. If the local instructor wanted a new variety of mangolds grown, or something like that, that man did it for him. If he wanted a manurial plot that was the man he went to. He was the right type of farmer, whether he was Fianna Fáil or Cumann na nGaedheal. That is the sort of man that is now going to be penalised. He has no safeguard under the Bill. This Bill, that was calmly introduced to us as something to uplift and encourage thrift and work, is going to do nothing of the kind. That unfortunate man, of course, need not bother whether his land is taken for congestion or for landless men—he has no rights at all—the best type of man in the country.

Then other safeguards are wiped out. There was a safeguard that certain classes of land, such as residential holdings, home farms, building ground and so on, could not be taken while more suitable land in the neighbourhood was available. That safeguard is wiped out. Why should that safeguard be wiped out? What was it? The land was segregated into different classes— demesne lands, home farms, purchased land, residential holdings, land suitable for building. It was provided that if such land were to be taken it could only be taken if no suitable land, not coming within these classes, were available. That safeguard is wiped out. Why do they want to take that class of land if there is other suitable land available? Why should that safeguard be wiped out? To save trouble—wipe out everything; give ourselves and the appeal tribunal a free hand. Is there to be any consideration for the owners? After all, they have not yet reached the stage when they are a frankly Bolshevik or Communist party. Who are the owners who are to be affected by the Bill? They may be comparatively small farmers and amongst them the most hard working and best farmers in the country. Yet that safeguard is wiped out completely and no reason given and no reason even suggested. I fail to conceive why it should be wiped out. There was another safeguard—that that land could only be taken for the relief of congestion. That has gone too. That, to my mind is a purely political gesture and, if it is to be operated at all, it will be merely operated for the purpose of creating more congests. That is the net result. That is the position of the Bill with regard to the acquisition of land.

Now let us come to its administration. The Bill itself is bad enough, badly drafted enough, and, obviously, very ill thought out, because I do not believe that all these considerations were present to the minds of the people who drafted it. It is certainly very badly conceived and thought out, but bad and all as it is, it has to be administered. Who administers it? Not the Land Commission, mind you, but really the appeal tribunal. Who are the appeal tribunal? A High Court judge and two nominees of the Government. They need not even be members of the Land Commission and, as far as I can see, they cannot very well be members of the Land Commission, because they must be men who will have nothing to do with the cases which they are expected to hear—that is as far as I can make out. There are to be two nominees of the Government, in other words, of the Fianna Fáil Party. Some of the Ministers opposite have some legal training, some legal instincts and conceptions. I put this to them; is it not a perfectly monstrous proposal that you should have two removable non-judicial functionaries dealing with questions like that? It can only be done on the assumption that the people whose property is being dealt with have no rights or equities. I want you to remember that the people you are dealing with now are not the lazy graziers that the Acting-Minister spoke of. Whoever else you may deal with, you are taking power to deal with the best, most hard-working, and most enlightened farmers. Surely they should have some rights. I put it to the Minister for Justice, who is a lawyer, that they should have some rights in this matter. If I have a dispute over £25 I can have a district justice to try it; a judicial functionary who will give fair play, and who is not removable. If I have a dispute about £200, a Circuit Court judge can try it. If I have a dispute about a sum over £200. I can go before a High Court judge. But, if my property, which I spent all my life building, or the property of my neighbour, is being taken and interfered with, who hears the case, who adjudicates on it? Two nominees of the Fianna Fáil Party.

Do not sail away on the point that I am attacking civil servants. I am not. Supposing they were civil servants; is there no distinction between a civil servant and a judge? Why does the law provide that judges should be irremovable? Is that provision in the law an aspersion on civil servants? The duty of a civil servant is to obey a particular Minister, and to be his agent. That is his duty, and none other. He may differ from him, but it is his duty to obey him. Assuming that other men were established for the purpose, and brought in, do you think you are going to get the semi-judicial fair play from them that you would get from a judge. By asking that, I am not casting aspersons on their character. The experience of centuries in every country has shown that it is absolutely essential to make a judicial personage irremovable and independent of the Executive Council. Here £1,000 worth or £10,000 worth of your property or my property is to be taken, your whole future and the future of your children is to be interfered with, and you are completely at the mercy of two removable nominees of the Fianna Fáil Party. It is a shameful proposal; it is absolutely monstrous. Do you not trust your judiciary or what is wrong? Of course I will get lectures on that also. I will be told that I was the first to make this suggestion. That is what the judiciary are there for, to have somebody independent to deal with those matters. How are you going to make the distinction? Look at it another way? A. B. is a farmer; he has 200 statute acres of land or maybe 300. He employs eight or nine men. He has fine stabling. He might feed 60 or 70 cattle in the winter time. He has built the stabling he has put in the plant; he has put up a yard and establishment for the purpose of farming that amount of land. What is to happen to him? A hundred acres of his land is to be taken. He is to be left burdened with buildings, stabling and everything else far too big for his work. Possibly, Deputies do not appreciate that point. Any farmer who is farming efficiently will appreciate it. I will be told that his land will not be taken. I do not believe it; I do not trust it. That particular man is entitled to have 200 acres of land, just the same as a man is entitled to have a good shop. His family have grown accustomed to the standard of life on that land. He is a good employer. A hundred acres of that man's land is to be taken. He is to be left with the remainder, and with buildings, establishments and machinery suitable for a 200 acre or a 300 acre farm, a lot of them paid for out of an overdraft. What does he get? He gets bonds. He gets bonds instead of cash. That cannot compensate him. He has to pay annuities; he has to pay rates, and he has got to get rid of two or three of his men. What have you done to that man, and what have you done to the country? He has six or seven men, and he will have to get rid of three of them. The land you take from him will not give much more than three holdings. You will have done all that gross injustice, and you will have really nothing for it. No one will be contented, and you will have done nothing to increase production.

I think this is a thoroughly bad Bill. I think it is a scandalous Bill in some of its provisions. I think it is aimed at fooling the country into believing that all the landless men of the country are to be dealt with, and fooling the country into the belief that land purchase is going to be much more expeditious as a result of this Bill. I think it is not the right way of dealing with this property. I do not think this particular Bill can be improved very much, but there are some points of detail which I should like to deal with on the Committee Stage. I do not intend to deal with them now, as the Bill is too long. I will only say that this Bill is the most useless Land Bill ever introduced in this House. It will effect nothing except destruction. It will shake security as no other Bill has ever done before. It will put people out of employment when the administration is all over. It will effect no real purpose. No matter how drastically you administer that Bill, very few people will be effectively dealt with. If there are more than a few, you can only deal with them on the basis of reducing their standard of life to something like what it was in the year 1878.

A Chinn Comhairle, I suppose I, a landless man, am entitled to speak on a Land Bill. I suppose that as such I should be expected to sing a paean of praise in favour of the proposals that are embodied in this Bill. I was waiting, in my capacity as a landless man, to hear the tune that I expected to be sung by the backbenchers of the Fianna Fáil Party in praise of the provisions that this beneficent Government has embodied in this Bill as presented to this House. They were silent; no note of praise of this Bill has come from the backbenchers of the Fianna Fáil Party. We may draw from that fact our own conclusions, and the country may draw from that fact its own conclusions.

Deputy Hogan has just pointed out the fact that this Bill is badly drafted, ill-conceived, and ill-considered. I think in my time I have never read a Bill presented to this House that was so badly drafted, so badly conceived, and so ill-considered. The outstanding feature of this Bill, as Deputy Hogan has pointed out, is the fact that throughout practically every section of it, and certainly in every Part of the Bill, the dominant note is a political one. We find in Section 6 a provision which at first sight would appear to be entirely needless, and which would consequently bring people to consider what exactly was behind it. In that section it is provided that in reference to the matters with which the Land Commission in the future shall deal, except three or four matters set out and called excepted matters, the officers of the Land Commission, the Land Commissioners, and the members of the appeal tribunal, other than the judicial commissioners, are to act on the orders of the political Fianna Fáil Minister. What was the necessity for that particular provision? Under the law as it stands at the moment the Minister in charge of the Land Commission, the Minister for Lands and Fisheries, has the general direction and control of the Land Commission, and of the officers of the Land Commission in the exercise of their administrative and executive duties.

Why the necessity for this particular section, were it not for the purpose of making it clear to the followers of the Fianna Fáil Party in the country that this Bill is going to be administered as a political Bill and for political purposes, and is going to be administered for the benefit of the followers of Fianna Fáil alone? Section 6 is bad enough as it stands. Deputy Hogan has pointed out the monstrous provisions of Section 7 dealing with the appeal tribunal. It is certainly a new orientation in judicial matters and political thought in this country that this House should be asked to give its vindication to a provision enabling the legal rights and liabilities of the people in the future to be dealt with by the nominees of the Minister for Lands and Fisheries. The Acting-Minister for Lands and Fisheries in opening the case for the Bill to-day told the House that he intended on the Committee Stage to introduce an amendment to Section 7 enabling the Executive Council, instead of the Minister, to appoint the members of this tribunal. If any proof were needed that this Bill has been ill-conceived and improperly thought out, the fact that the Minister responsible for bringing the provisions of this Bill before the House had to admit that in one of the most important particulars it was not at the moment properly drafted or considered, is a clear indication that this Bill was hurried and brought into the House at this juncture without proper consideration and proper drafting in order that the Fianna Fáil political Party could be in a position to make speeches to their followers throughout the country.

It would be a joke if it were not so tragic a joke to see under the provisions of Section 7 that two nominees of the Minister are to be responsible in the future and are to be entrusted with the determination of the legal rights and liabilities of the owners of property in this country. But there is even a bigger joke in the provisions dealing with the Appeal Tribunal. The Judicial Commissioner is the only legal man on this tribunal and we find that any point of law which has to be decided by this tribunal has under it to be decided by the Judicial Commissioner, but before he gets seisin of the point of law for his consideration, these two nominees of the Minister or of the Executive Council have to decide that there is a point of law involved, and having solemnly given this decision, they allow the Judicial Commissioner to determine it himself. The meaning of that is plain. In any place the two nominees of the Minister or of the Executive Council in hearing a case, in which they have got their orders from the Minister for Lands and Fisheries in accordance with Section 6 of the Bill, are to decide the case in a certain way. That is the meaning of Section 6. The Minister for Lands and Fisheries orders them, in pursuance of his powers under Section 6, to decide the case in a particular way. They find that they cannot carry out their Ministerial orders and political functions because there is a point of law involved; and the two of them determine, forthwith, that though there is a point of law involved there is in fact no point of law involved and they do that in order to oust the functions of the Judicial Commissioner.

I do not know whether it was through hurry or speed or through bad drafting that the Acting-Minister for Lands and Fisheries had to tell the House to-day on the Second Reading that he was under the necessity of bringing in an amendment to Section 7 on the Committee Stage. I partly guess that the reason for that suggestion is, as the Attorney-General has perhaps told him, that the entire provisions of Section 7 are unconstitutional. If the Bill is passed into law as it stands at the moment, it will be set aside by the independent tribunals of this country, unless the present Government decide that it is unnecessary in the interests of their land policy to set aside these independent tribunals themselves. It would be interesting to see what change that amendment will put in it. It will be interesting to see if this section is left as it stands, even with the amendment, that it is the Executive Council and not the Minister who will appoint these nominees. It will be interesting to see how long the provisions of Section 7 are to be allowed to remain unchallenged. It will be still more interesting to see what amendment will be brought in by the Acting-Minister now that his attention has been drawn to the fact that the provisions of Section 7 are in absolute direct contradiction to the provisions of Article 64 of the Constitution. I am sure that the Attorney-General has fresh in his mind the decision in the case of Lynam and Butler where the exercise of certain powers by the Land Commission was considered. The Attorney-General will tell him if he has not already told him of the bearing of that Section 7 as it stands.

Every Bill, every measure and proposal that has been brought in by the present Government has one outstanding feature—that it produces insecurity, uncertainty, and, in almost every case, injustice. We pointed out in other measures before the House the injustice that is being worked and the uncertainty that is being produced in this country. Deputy Hogan has, in more detail and in better language than I could hope to use, drawn the attention of the House to the insecurity of tenure which is going to be produced by this Bill. It is limited to what the Minister calls farmers working a reasonable acreage and farming in a proper way. In that connection I was reminded of the old tag: "Large fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite them, and little fleas have lesser fleas and so onad infinitum.” We will find that when this Bill is operated for a while and when the 100-acre farms are divided into 30-acre farms and the Fianna Fáil Party have presented their followers with whatever political advantage they can derive in their solution of the land problem, that the lesser fleas will come back to the 30-acre farm demanding that it be divided into a 15-acre farm, and there will be no end of this problem.

Instead of giving this House and the country a solution of what is admittedly a big problem, this Bill only adds to the difficulty and creates an entire set of new problems for future generations to tackle. In many respects it is quite apparent that this Bill has been ill-conceived and ill-considered. I should like to direct the attention of the House to Section 28 (3) (a). I do not know whether the provisions of that section are deliberately designed or not or whether it is the deliberate intention of the Minister to do what the present intention of that section does at the moment. I say that because as it stands that section can only do one thing and that is that if a farmer carrying on farming on a farm of less value than £2,000 carries it on in a way which the Minister or his nominees think is not a fit manner for a farmer to carry it on, the Land Commission may, on the direction of the Minister for Lands and Fisheries, acquire that particular farm and, having acquired it, may retain it and give the owner of the farm nothing whatever in return. Section 28, as it stands at the moment, is nothing but a pure piece of confiscatory legislation.

It is utterly immoral and unjust and it enables the Land Commission, in the circumstances I have indicated, to take a farm of land from a particular individual without compensation or without exchange of land; in fact, without giving him anything whatsoever in return. I challenge the Attorney-General to say whether that section is open to any other construction than the one I have put upon it. It may be that is the deliberate intention of the section. If so, no more Socialistic, Communistic or Bolshevistic measure has been introduced into this House. We had it on the highest authority that it is quite contrary to moral principles to take land without giving any compensation or any return for it. That is what Section 28 does.

I listened with considerable amusement to the Acting-Minister for Lands and Agriculture putting forward his justification of the proposals contained in Section 27. The amusement I felt at the way he put forward those proposals arose from the fact that, when I was considering what justification he would present to the House for the iniquitous proposals contained in the section, I came to the conclusion that he would dress it up as a measure designed for the amelioration of the tenant purchasers and in relief of possible liability for costs. That is what he has done. In point of fact, what has actually been done on the Acting-Minister and on the Executive Council is that the officials have put across on this democratic Government, this Government of the people, a bureaucratic, reactionary proposal that on two occasions they tried to put across on me and on my colleagues.

On a point of order. I wish to say that I protest against the Deputy's statement. I deny that the officials have any responsibility for this Bill. This Bill is introduced by me on behalf of the Executive Council and I take full responsibility. If the Deputy has anything to say, let him say it to me, or to the Executive Council. We will answer him. He should leave out the officials.

I do not know whether that is a point of order or not, but whatever kind of a point it is, I would like to emphasise that there is no Deputy here who has greater experience of the officials of the Civil Service or of their loyalty and efficiency than I have. There is no Deputy who has a greater respect for their loyalty and efficiency than I have. I would be the last person in this House to attack any single one of these officials. It is a recognised trick of the present Executive Council, when a Deputy is attacking their reactionary measures, to try to draw a red herring across the trail. It is now suggested that I am attacking officials when no such attack was ever intended or could be made, having regard to the experience, the loyalty and the efficiency of the Civil Service. I have made no attack on the officials, but I have made an attack on the Minister who brings in Section 27 under the guise of a democratic proposal when in reality it is one of the most reactionary proposals that was ever brought here. He brings it forward here under the guise of a proposal to ameliorate the conditions of land annuity defaulters.

This proposal is brought in by the Government for the purpose of short-circuiting court proceedings. If any Deputy gives the slightest consideration to these proposals he will see that they tend to bureaucracyin excelsis. That is the aim of this so-called people's Government, this so-called Government of democrats. The proposals in that section of the Bill amount to this, that the Land Commission is entitled to say: “A land annuitant has defaulted and we have not the duty, the same as any other individual in the State has the duty, of going into the public courts and proving our claim. We have just to sign a document and hand it to the sheriff for execution.” I will await with interest the number of actions that will be brought against county registrars and sub-sheriffs if an attempt is made to put these provisions into practical execution.

I would like to know why it is that, while in every case where proceedings have been brought by the Land Commission to recover land annuities such proceedings, if pending, are to be stayed, and, if prosecuted to a final decree, are to be discharged, in reference to those cases where a defence has been put in the proceedings are to go on. We find that provision in Section 12 and the following sections. We got no explanation from the Acting-Minister as to the reason for that particular provision. Are we to draw the only conclusion that can be drawn, that it is because defences were put in during last year either by the Party to which we belong, acting on behalf of land annuitants who are being pursued in the most bitter fashion by the present Government for annuities they were unable to pay owing to the policy and actions of the Government, or by some organisation representing the Centre Party? Are we to draw as the only conclusion we can draw from those provisions, that because political parties presumably were helping those land annuitants last year to defend themselves against the Government in their tyrannical efforts to extract the full amount of the land annuities from defaulting tenant purchasers, the Government think they are supporters of either the Centre Party or the Cumann na nGaedheal Party and they are not going to get the relief given to other tenant purchasers who happen to be in arrears?

There can be nothing said from start to finish for any particular provision. It is a confiscatory Bill. It is another manifestation of the policy of the Government in bringing about insecurity, uncertainty, and injustice. As Deputy Hogan pointed out, it is a Bill which has its basis entirely in politics. Were we cynically inclined, we would welcome this Bill, not for the provisions it contains, not for the effort that it is supposed to make to solve the problem which admittedly exists, but because it is a political measure and, as a political measure it will bring tremendous political disadvantage to the Fianna Fáil Government. For every landless man they put into a holding they lose his vote and they lose ten or twelve votes belonging to the landless men they will fail to put on land under this Bill. We should, for that reason, welcome this Bill. Although now brought in as a political Bill, in a few short years it will work out in a way that will astonish the Fianna Fáil Party.

The Acting Minister for Lands and Fisheries read a long statement to-day when introducing this Bill. Then Deputy Hogan got up and made hay. One would have expected that someone would rise to meet the case that was made by Deputy Hogan. It is a source of no surprise to me to discover that the Fianna Fáil champions of the Land Bill, 1933, are determined to reserve their oratory for as late a stage as possible. It seems to me that the task they will have in making any defence for this measure is one which none of them will be envied in having. There is one salient point in respect of this Land Bill, and it is this. If the Bill becomes law, fixity of tenure is finished in this country. Those people in the country who are old enough to remember the Land War, and those of us who were brought up in the Land League atmosphere know, from the point of view of the people, and from the point of view of the State, the paramount importance of fixity of tenure and how greatly it was treasured by the people. They knew its worth and the fundamental difference it made to the farmers in every part of this country the day they were given security in their own homesteads. Fifty years after that has been secured for the people it is to be taken from them. They are going to be told they need have no fear, that though that fixity of tenure is gone, they can trust Fianna Fáil which loves the little man to do everything in the interests of the small farmer. The people of this country are beginning to learn how much value they should put upon the promises of Fianna Fáil. By the time they are finished, with this Bill, when it passes into law, they will learn to distrust this Government for evermore.

There is an old practice, when you have a victim in contemplation, to invite him to your house, to entertain him royally, to masquerade as his friend and at the conclusion of the proceedings to give him a dose of poison and dispose of him. It was an astute and potent process from the poisoner's point of view. This Bill, for no apparent reason, a Land Purchase Bill, is meant to implement President de Valera's intention to halve the land annuities. That is the process; that is the gilt on the gingerbread, and we do not find the poison until we look for it. If this Government meant to do justice by the small farmers and the large farmers, who have been reduced to destitution in the last 12 months, they would do as they were asked to do, suspend the collection of the annuities altogether until the economic war was over. They are halving the annuities after creating a situation in which no man in the country can earn half the annuities not to speak at all about the rates.

The Minister in this Bill is taking complete control of the Land Commission except with reference to four exempted matters. The farmers in this country will be told that the Minister scorns to interfere with anything wherein it might be suggested that the slightest personal consideration, from the Party point of view would enter into it. All that is to come to the appeal tribunal, through the Land Commission. And we then discover that the appeal tribunal is to consist of the Judicial Commissioner, who has been effectively hamstrung and rendered ineffective, and two lay commissioners whom the Minister can appoint. He has power to choose suitable men for the jobs he wants done. Indignant protests will be made. "Do you suggest," it will be asked, "that any officer of the Irish Land Commission is amenable to any suggestion of that kind." This Bill does not speak of existing officers. The world is wide and the capacity of the Government to appoint extra civil servants is endless.

This Bill provides that the appeal tribunal shall consist of the Judicial Commissioner and two lay commissioners whom the Minister shall appoint. On all the questions of fact their word is final and if any appeals are pleaded on point of law the Judicial Commissioner must first convince one of the lay commissioners before the matter can come for decision before him at all. The Minister for Lands and Fisheries has also grown solicitous lest the people of the country should pay costs of proceedings brought by him against them by appeals to the law courts. He is going to kill that appeal; and he is going to save the people the expenses of the law courts. The implication is I think that only fools go to the law courts. Once the Government cuts in the judges do not count. We are told it is only waste of money going to the courts and that the people will be saved from their own folly. The judge is on one side. The Land Commission will say "when we think you owe us something we will say so and come down and collect it. There will be no reference to these old fogies who sit upon benches in wigs and gowns." The Minister for Lands and Fisheries does not require their intervention any longer. He is the governor, judiciary and everything else. It may be that some people think that a desirable development. I would like to hear the Attorney-General upon it. He has fathered some queer schemes in this House but this will be the strangest issue that ever came from his marriage to the Fianna Fáil Party. I hope he will claim it as his son. The affiliation order will certainly be against the Attorney-General. He cannot escape from it and he will have to pay up.

Now we come to the section to which I first referred when I began my observation to-day. I was waiting for the Minister to read that section. In his preliminary observation he approached it with a certain amount of trepidation. Then, he drew a deep breath and determined to jump the chasm and, when he came to Section 24, sub-section (4) (b), he said: "This has presented an impregnable protection to those persons who were resisting compulsory acquisition of their land." Those words might have been used by the leaders of the Land League movement when they secured the Land Act of 1881. They were looking for something that would be an impregnable protection to the tenant farmers of this country, and they got it; and the Acting-Minister for Lands and Fisheries of the Free State Government is going to take it away.

The introduction of this business about a £2,000 farm will deceive a vast number of people in this country. They will imagine that their land cannot be acquired unless they have land in excess of the value of £2,000. What the people of this country and the Deputies in this House ought to recognise is that the smallest farmer in the country can have his homestead taken from him in the morning and an offer made of land of equal market value. What consolation is it to a farmer in Donegal to be told that he will be given a farm of equal value in West Cork? I do not blame Deputy Mrs. Concannon for laughing, but she is following the man who drafted that section. She is lost in admiration of him. It may have its amusing side to Deputies here but when that section comes to be put into operation up and down the country it will become an instrument of oppression and an instrument of injustice in the hands of the Fianna Fáil Government. I venture to say this, that there is not a Deputy sitting on those benches over there who would dare to go down and tell his constituents that in this House he was supporting legislation which placed it in the power of the Minister for Lands and Fisheries to take their farms from them to-morrow morning if the Minister wanted to do so. He may succeed in fooling the people. He may succeed in persuading some of the people that that is not true, but there is not a single man on those benches who would dare to go down and tell the people frankly what they are doing and take the people's verdict on what they propose to do.

We come now to the farmer who has land worth £2,000 and who is going to seek alternative land for that which is taken from him. Before he will be entitled to do that, he must satisfy the Land Commission that he resides on the land and that he uses that land in the same manner as an ordinary farmer and with the proper methods of husbandry. There was a time in this country when people knew what that meant, but during the last 12 months since we have been shipping cattle to Belgium, since we have been growing wheat under circumstances that have yet to have their issue, since we have been doing a variety of other things in accordance with the doctrines of the present Fianna Fáil Minister for Agriculture, there are many people in this country who will ask themselves what are the proper methods of husbandry. If they be the proper methods of husbandry according to the doctrines of the Fianna Fáil Minister for Agriculture, then there are very few men in this country, who are competent farmers, who will qualify for the rights provided under this sub-section.

To my mind, sir, the detailed examination of this Bill can well wait till the Committee Stage. The destruction of the system of land tenure in this country, of the security of the people on their land, is, in itself, sufficient to condemn the measure. Unless that element is corrected, unless the power of the Executive Council to appoint thesead hoc commissioners is corrected, unless the position of the Judicial Commissioner is remedied, no worth-while reform can be made in the Land Bill that is before us now. Security of tenure means more to the people of this country than anything the Fianna Fáil Government can offer. They have got that security of tenure, and Fianna Fáil proposes to take it from them. So far as I am concerned, in this House or outside it, I will do all I can to prevent the passage of this Bill into law, and I believe that any man in this House who honestly represents the tenant farmers of Ireland, should devote his energy and should devote his ability and courage to the same undertaking.

I have no hesitation in stating at the outset that I am prepared to give my full support to the policy aimed at by the Minister who is responsible for the introduction of this Bill. At the same time, however, I am under no delusion as to the final consequences of the passage of this measure. I would much prefer to sit here in these benches as a private Deputy to await the result of the administration of this measure, knowing, as I believe I do, and as I believe the Deputies who sit behind the Minister know, that this measure is not going to provide an economic holding for every landless man in this country. I have heard promises made in general elections as to the land policy of the Fianna Fáil Party and Government and what their intentions were in regard to the division of land. I fully realise the limited amount of land that is available in this country for the purpose of making uneconomic holdings economic and, in addition, providing economic holdings for suitable landless men who are rightly entitled to such land. I would much prefer, as I said, to remain here as a private Deputy and await the result of three or four years' administration by the Ministry of this measure, because I believe that by that time the Minister, or the Acting-Minister, if he sits on the same benches, will find out that he is nearly as far away from the solution of the land question as he is here to-day in putting forward this measure.

The Minister said that the object of the Bill was to provide a livelihood on the land for our own people. Nobody in this country, knowing the conditions of the country at the present time, could feel that the people who have land and have economic holdings at the present time are making a livelihood out of the land. Nobody who knows anything about present conditions will believe, or take the word of the Minister on it, that by giving a man a holding of 30 or 40 acres under present conditions he is going to make that man better off than he is to-day, no matter what his position may be. There are many other things that will have to go with this measure in order to make it possible for anybody who may be lucky enough to get an economic holding under this Bill to make a living out of that holding.

I am not going to pay any attention to the violent language used by the three lawyer Deputies who have spoken in opposition to this measure as to what is the real intention of the Minister. I can readily understand that this is going to mean less work for lawyers but, at the same time, less expense to the people who own the land and who will, under this Bill, get economic holdings. I would vote for the Second Reading of the Bill for the simple reason that it removes many legal difficulties deliberately put in the way of the fair and just administration even of the 1923 Act. I am satisfied that those who advised the Minister responsible for the Bill had good grounds for advising him to insert sections which will make the administration of Land Acts less costly in future than in the past. I am satisfied that even the Cumann na nGaedheal Government could have done much more under the Act of 1923 to carry out the intention of the people responsible for the introduction of that Act if these legal difficulties had not been put in the way and kept in the way. There would have been no necessity to include many sections in this measure if many legal difficulties had not been put in the way by the previous Administration. I believe that some lawyer Deputies who have spoken are unnecessarily apprehensive in regard to the intentions of the Minister in reference to these matters. They talk about taking the security of land from the tenant farmers. I never regarded it as my duty to defend the Fianna Fáil Ministry, but I am satisfied to leave it in their hands and to the passage of time to see that no such thing will be done by the Ministry responsible for the Bill. It is just a bogey raised on this measure to try to create more alarm amongst the population in regard to the present Ministry and their attitude in regard to matters of this kind.

Will anybody who speaks from the Cumann na nGaedheal Benches deny that the land of this country has been bought at a ridiculously high price since the passing of the 1923 Act? Will they not admit that that is largely attributable to the so-called appeal tribunal which had a final say in fixing the price of the land purchased under that Act? I personally would be prepared to place more trust in the opinion of a good Land Commission official as to what was the real value of land under the 1923 Act than any lawyer I know of in this House or outside. As a Deputy who represents a rural constituency I know people who got land under the 1923 Act at annuities of £1 15/-, £2 and, in some cases, £2 5/- per statute acre. How could any industrious smallholder make a living out of land, even in 1925, 1926, 1927, much less to-day, so long as he had to pay £1 15/- or £2 per statute acre for it? Does not every Cumann na nGaedheal Deputy who was here in 1923 know that this is, to a large extent, due to the Appeal Tribunal set up under that Act which has the final say in the fixing of the price? I admit now, and I never admitted it before, that I discouraged the late Minister from taking over a small number of estates in my area because I realised that to take them over at the price fixed by the Judicial Commissioner would place a burden on the people who would get the land which in a few years they would find it impossible to bear. When the next lawyer on the Cumann na nGaedheal Benches stands up to speak will he tell us something about the operations of the Judicial Commissioner and to what extent, in how many cases, and to what percentage, that Appeal Tribunal was responsible for increasing the price of land beyond all reason and beyond what any intelligent and industrious farmer, or even a landlord, would admit to be a reasonable figure?

I am now 11 years a member of this House, and as a representative of a rural constituency I have some knowledge of the operations of the Land Commission. Any Deputy who has similar knowledge, giving a fair and honest expression of opinion will agree that these officials, generally speaking, know more about the real value of land than any lawyer in this country. There are going to be many obstacles wiped out of the way which will take away a good deal of the incomes earned by lawyers in the past in connection with the administration of the 1923 Act. I do not profess to be competent to express an opinion on every section of the Bill, but I am glad the Minister is taking power to remove the costly obstacle that was in the way of the collection of land annuities.

I have here in my hand, and it is not one of the worst examples that could be quoted, a case which shows how lawyers have fattened upon the poor people by imposing unfair charges for the collection of annuities. I have a receipt given by a certain State solicitor—I am very glad he is not operating in Leix and Offaly. The sum due was £5 1/5. A cheque for the amount was sent to the Land Commission three or four days after the sum became due. It was returned by the Land Commission to the person concerned and he was informed that he would have to settle with the State solicitor. He wrote to the State solicitor and got a reply stating that he would have to pay £1 12/- legal costs for the collection of this money without having to go to court. I am glad the Minister has brought in a section which will make it impossible for any lawyer to impose such a burden on a poor person of that kind in future. I can show the receipt to any Deputy who may be anxious to know whether I am stating facts or not. I am glad to be given an opportunity of voting for a section which will make it impossible for any thing of that kind to happen in future.

I am perfectly satisfied that the Land Commission has at its disposal a body of officials quite competent to administer a measure of this kind. I am also quite satisfied, from my 11 years experience of dealing with the Land Commission, that that particular Department of the Government service will have to be completely reorganised from top to bottom if this Bill is to be sympathetically administered. If it is notable for anything, the Land Commission is notable for the number of polite acknowledgements it sends to those who write about anything. If a Deputy who writes to the Land Commission does not write three or four times, so far as certain branches of that Department are concerned he will never get anywhere. He is likely to be an ex-Deputy before he will get a satisfactory answer to his question if he does not put down a question in the House or go to the Minister and shake up some of the officials. There is one branch of that Department which appears to me to work along business like lines. I believe it is an unpopular branch, but it certainly works along commercial lines, and that is the collection branch. I am sure the collection branch of the Land Commission is not popular either with Deputies or with the people who have to address communications to it, but I will say this much for the satisfaction of those who may be concerned, that you can get an answer within a reasonable time to any communication you address to them. Whenever I found it necessary, as other Deputies may have found it necessary to write to them asking for time for payment of sums due, I will say that they gave fair consideration to any reasonable applications made to them. So far as other branches of that Department are concerned, I gave a friendly warning to the Minister—I suppose he knows it if he has been watching the operations of the Department himself—that he will have to completely reorganise the Department from top to bottom, and put in charge of it men who will have some sympathy with the policy of the present Government, and administer the present proposals without putting any unnecessary obstacles in the way.

The Minister in his speech outlined the policy of the Government in regard to the collection of arrears. I do not think there is any good grounds for congratulating him when he says that he is going to fund the arrears now due, and charge those concerned interest at the rate of 4½ per cent. I do not think it is doing anything remarkably good for the people who owe money to the Land Commission, or who may desire to have their arrears funded, to say that he is going to fund the arrears due at the rate of 4½ per cent. I wonder if the Minister for Finance were in the House would he say what is the cheapest rate at which he can get money at the present time. I believe it is possible for the British Government, and I believe it is equally possible for the Free State Government to get money at a rate of interest as low as 2½ per cent., and, if we are going to fund arrears at the very high figure of 4½ per cent. over a period of 50 years, in my opinion it is not doing anything extraordinary on behalf of the people who are concerned with that aspect of this measure, or with that aspect of the policy of the present Government.

I want to ask the Minister when he is replying if he would give us any definition as to what is an economic holding from his point of view. I believe it is a very difficult question for the Minister to answer. He referred in his speech to a 40 acre farm. You may have 40 acres of bog land with a valuation of £5, and you may have 40 acres of good land with a valuation of £25. I think Deputies, especially thoses who sympathise with the policy of the present Government in regard to this measure, are entitled to some information on that point. What would be regarded as an economic holding in the Midlands? I do not suggest that the Minister should answer the question by talking about acreage. I think he should tell us his opinion as to what is an economic holding from the point of view of valuation, and then Deputies will be left in a position to know where they are in this matter.

The Minister says he hopes—that is all he does; he only expresses the hope —to provide a livelihood on the land for a large number of landless men. I am as anxious as the Minister to see the suitable landless men of this country given economic holdings, and an opportunity of providing for themselves and their dependants by ways and means of that kind. I have some experience, and I suppose every other Deputy has also had some experience, in regard to the position of landless men. I know some of the very best ploughmen and herds who, previous to the acquisition of estates in my constituency, could be regarded as the best employees that could be found in that particular locality. I know to my regret that when given holdings on the estates that were acquired and divided—of course, I agree with that policy—that many of those people have been unable to work the holdings which they got, because of an insufficient amount of capital to enable them to do so. I suggest to the Acting-Minister for Lands and Fisheries and his colleagues that unless they take some steps to provide, for a period of years, a certain amount of capital, £300 or £500 or whatever else it may be, free of interest, they are not going to give the suitable landless men a fair and reasonable chance of working any holding which may be given to them under a measure of this kind. I believe the German Government some years ago took steps to solve the land problem by a policy of that nature. What Deputy could get up in this House and suggest that the best landless man in his own constituency could possibly make a livelihood out of a farm of 40 acres of land if he had not the capital to enable him to start and work that land from the very beginning? I suggest that the Fianna Fáil Government and those who support them in this House would be well advised to think along those lines when they are dealing with the question of putting landless men on the land with any hope of enabling those men to make a living for themselves and their dependants.

There is another question with which the members of this Party are concerned. In the administration of the 1923 Act I came up against a number of cases where land was divided, and where people living in labourers' cottages alongside the estate were refused a holding, or an addition to their existing small holding as occupiers of labourers' cottages. I want to encourage the Acting-Minister for Land and Fisheries that whatever it is possible they should aim at giving four or five additional acres to tenants of labourers' cottages. I admit that that may be impossible in many cases, because there may be no land to be acquired under this measure in certain areas, but wherever it is possible it would, in my opinion, be a good policy to provide the occupiers of labourers' cottages with at least an additional four or five acres in order to enable them to till portion of it, and have grass for a cow or a calf on the remaining portion. I hope the Fianna Fáil Deputies will support that proposal. I think whatever can be done in that direction is quite in accordance with the policy of the Minister, as far as I can understand it. If it is necessary to make provision by way of inserting an amendment in the Bill I think that should also be done, if the Acting-Minister considers it desirable to insert a suitable amendment.

There is also another matter to which I wish to refer. I want to know from the Minister if he can give us, when he is replying, the number of cases of representatives of evicted tenants who were provided for since the 1923 Act was passed, and whether he has any knowledge or information at his disposal or in his Department as to the number of such genuine cases which are still to be provided for. If so, what is the policy of his Department in making provision under this measure for the claims of evicted tenants, or representatives of evicted tenants, who have not up to the present been provided for under the 1923 or any subsequent Land Acts? I am informed that there are a considerable number of genuine and deserving claims from tenants themselves who were evicted, or from the representatives of evicted tenants, which are still awaiting consideration and decision by the Department of Lands and Fisheries. I hope that some information and some reliable figures, if they are available, will be furnished to the House by the Minister in his reply.

I suppose the Acting-Minister would not like to take responsibility for a number of division schemes which have been put into operation even during the course of the past six months. If the Minister and the Government are responsible for the procedure adopted in some of the cases that have come to my notice I would certainly say that there is not much improvement, so far as this Government is concerned, on the procedure of their predecessors in making provision for landless men or uneconomic holders. I came across a case quite recently where a very large number of cottage tenants—this was within the last few months, and I raised it in the House by way of question— one of whom at any rate had turbary rights on a certain estate, and his people before him for 47 years, and where as a result of a division scheme recently put into operation in my constituency all the people concerned were deprived of turbary rights. I believe it is the duty of the Land Commission under the present legislation to make reasonable provision for turbary rights, whenever there is a bog on any estate and whenever the bog is being acquired and taken over by the Land Commission. I hope that that aspect of Government policy will be closely watched during the administration of this measure. I bring that matter under the notice of the Acting-Minister and the House because we are told it is the policy of the Government to increase the output of turf for home consumption in this State. If that is so, the first people entitled to consideration are the small holders who had, previous turbary rights in those estates, because those are the men who are going to increase the output, if they get a reasonable opportunity of doing so.

There is one other point that I should like to bring under the notice of the Minister, and I should like to have some information on that point. I understand that up to five or six months ago, under Section 42 of the Land Act, 1923, the Land Commission were empowered to deal with the Land Committee cases, and that as a result of the guarantee for the land bonds ceasing the Department concerned are no longer in a position to deal with outstanding cases.

I am reliably informed because I have made inquiries and I am interested in a couple of cases, that 40 or 50 of such cases still await the decision of the Land Commission. I hope that in this Bill steps will be taken to have these cases completed in all cases where the Department is of opinion that they could or should be dealt with under Section 42 of the Land Act of 1923. I hope that either in this Bill or I presume in the Land Bonds Bill these steps will be taken. I understand that the Department concerned were given short notice but in the short time at their disposal they were unable to deal satisfactorily with the outstanding cases. I hope the Minister will deal with that matter. I am concerned with three classes of cases namely the cases of landless men who are going to get land under this measure. I hope that they will be given a reasonable chance and fair opportunity of getting a proper start to work that land.

I have suggested in company with a colleague of mine in discussing that matter with the President some short time ago that this Government will take steps to provide sufficient working capital for these men free of interest for the first five years in order to enable them to work this land. There should be increased acreage given to those who occupy labourers' cottages. Finally the Land Committee cases should be disposed of. I personally am going to make no apology for giving my vote in favour of this Bill on the Second Reading. I am perfectly satisfied that it would be impossible for this Government or for any Government to get sufficient land to provide suitable holdings for all the applicants, congests and landless men.

Suggestions have been made that this is a measure surrounded by political considerations. If I were a member of the Fianna Fáil Party I would not boast too much about the political kudos to be got from this Bill or boast about the political kudos that might come to the Fianna Fáil Party and the Government as a result of passing this measure. Time and experience will tell to what the political kudos will amount. I would advise the back benchers on the Fianna Fáil Party that while they can get up and claim that this Bill rightly removes obstacles to the solution of the problem of land settlement that in the long run it will not finally settle the problem itself. I have no delusions as to the meaning of this Bill from that point of view.

There has been a good deal of heat, or if I might call it hot air, introduced into this debate. Deputy Hogan starts off here to tell us that it is a purely political Bill. I would gather from that that he thinks that this Bill is one that would be pleasing to the majority of the people of this country. Then the Deputy proceeds to tell us that what we are aiming at in this Bill is to strip land from one body of people in order to give it to the Fianna Fáil followers. The Deputy talks about landless men. He talks about Connemara and says that this Bill provides no solution for the problem of landless men or for the problem of Connemara. Finally he goes on to tell us about fixity of tenure and he went on the same lines as Deputy Dillon who got into such a state of hot air about this matter of fixity of tenure. It is a most extraordinary thing to hear Deputy Hogan talking about fixity of tenure because I think it was he who sponsored the 1923 Land Act.

His talk here about fixity of tenure is all nonsense. If fixity of tenure was interfered with at all it certainly was interfered with by the Act of 1923. Deputy Dillon was in this House for two years and in that time he made no attempt to restore the conditions that existed before 1923 and to get the landlords restored back again. Under the Act of 1923 the judicial non-vested tenant could be shifted out of his holding. Now we are asked about fixity of tenure but under the 1923 Act that was the position. If that was so why did not Deputy Dillon restore the damage that was done under that Act? He made no attempt to do so. The party are trying to lead the House to think that there has been interference with fixity of tenure in this Bill and the suggestion is made that that was the first time that fixity of tenure was interfered with in this country.

When I was in the Land Commission I saw a number of cases and this was the position: you had a man in one particular place who held 1,500 acres. That man employed only one labourer who lived with him, to see after the cattle on the farm—a man and a dog. That was all the employment given on that farm. We tried to take that farm from him, but he came in under the exceptions that were provided in the Act of 1923, under Section 24. We failed to secure that farm. We had instead to take land from a widow in that area because she did not come within that exception. We had congestion in the area and we wanted the land. I would rather stand over the position here that we would be able to deal with the individual who had 1,500 acres and gave no employment than to deal with an unfortunate widow and take her farm in order to relieve congestion there. That is the sort of fixity of tenure that Deputy Hogan wants, but it is not the sort of fixity of tenure that this side of the House wants, nor the fixity of tenure that any decent or fair-minded person in this country would want.

Under the 1923 Act you had power to take land from people in certain cases provided you offered them a holding of equal and suitable value. Under the operations of that Act, as was outlined by the Acting-Minister in introducing the Bill, considerable difficulty was experienced, and it is in order to obviate those difficulties and to get over the obstacles that we found in the operation of that Act that this Bill has been introduced. The difficulties that we are trying to overcome in this Bill are difficulties that have been forcibly brought to the notice of the Land Commission since the 1923 Act was passed. It is for us to make up our minds whether we are to stand still or go on. It is for us to say whether we will be in a position to relieve congestion or let the land go back to the rancher. Under the 1923 Act the Minister is precluded from touching these lands and congestion remains unrelieved. We have to stand now for one position or the other. I would certainly say it would be infinitely better to take these large ranches than to have to come down and take a comparatively small farm for the relief of congestion in the country, leaving the rancher's acres untouched. Deputy Dillon talks about fixity of tenure under the 1923 Act, but we have to make up our minds whether a man with a 1,500 acre ranch who gives no employment is to have the land left with him and that the land must be taken from people with comparatively smaller holdings in order to relieve congestion in certain areas.

This Bill threatens nobody with regard to fixity of tenure who gives employment, who works his land, who lives on his land. All these people are as reasonably protected as they might be. They are as firmly protected as they equitably should be. Do we realise since the 1923 Act was passed the number of cases that were protected under that Act? Deputies opposite referred in some instances to 2,000 acre farms in fairly congested areas. Do they realise that they referred to ranches? When I heard Deputy Dillon talking about fixity of tenure and talking about the fight that was carried on in this country to secure fixity of tenure, my mind went back to the later stages of that fight, the period after the fixity of tenure. Fixity of tenure was not concerned with the 2,000 acre farms. Fixity of tenure was concerned with securing for those people, who were being put out of their homes, a certain fixity in their holdings. It concerned people living on the land and eking out a bare existence from it. That was what the fight was made for.

The latter part of that fight was concerned with the very thing we are trying to achieve here. Their cry was: "Break up the ranches and put the people on the land." That was the period of the fight that I recollect, and that was the period of the fight that was brought most forcibly to everybody's mind, and it was certainly the forerunner of the 1923 Act. We are just proceeding along that line of policy that was referred to in these days as: "Break up the ranches and put the people on the land." We are pursuing that policy to its logical conclusion. We are endeavouring to overcome the difficulties in the way of the Land Commission, and our anxiety is to give employment on the land to the greatest possible number.

Deputy Hogan says that this Bill is no solution of the Connemara problem. What is the solution? They cannot emigrate from Connemara; the people there cannot get a living in another land. They have been working their own miserable patches of barren land, trying to eke out an existence. They have no alternative employment in that area. There are no big farmers to give them employment. What are you going to do with them? If Deputy Hogan's idea is to leave them there, it is a very simple solution from that point of view, but that would not be facing the issue as it should be faced.

What is your solution—what is the Government's solution?

My solution, the Government's solution, is to provide these people with work, and to put as many of them as we can on the land.

Will this Bill do it?

It will do a part of it.

It will be a beginning.

It must be remembered there were people taken before from the West of Ireland. They may be regarded as mere serfs by people of an overbearing mind, but at any rate there were people taken from the West and put into other places. They have succeeded in those other places, a certain number of them, and others I know have failed. Big farmers were taken from the West and migrated to other parts of the country in order to provide additional holdings for the people in the West. We will leave fixity of tenure, having seen the fallacy of the arguments advanced in connection with it. No doubt a lot of noise will be made about it and a lot of hot air expended at the crossroads about it, in order to try to deceive the people as to what it really is. Let us leave fixity of tenure and come to the other point about which so much has been made. That point was to the effect that we are taking drastic powers to proceed against people, that the Land Commission are to lodge these warrants with the sheriff for execution.

The ex-Attorney-General, Deputy Costello, seems very concerned about this matter. He said that this is an extraordinary procedure. He was Attorney-General for some years and I am surprised that he has such an extraordinary feeling about this procedure because, so far as I can recollect, he countenanced a procedure quite analogous to it. During the time he was Attorney-General he did not worry when income tax people and others could resort to a somewhat analogous proceeding. It is a wonder he did not object then. He allowed that to go on. Income tax people could distrain on your land or property with no previous court proceedings. A rate collector could distrain on your stock. There were powers taken here by the previous administration under which, no matter what person's cattle were on the land, the sheriff could seize them.

Where was the ex-Attorney-General then?

Those were revolutionary things, but Deputy Costello when he was Attorney-General never took steps to remedy that position. He thinks now that such a state of affairs should not exist with regard to the defaulters in the case of land annuities. He never took any steps to remedy the somewhat analogous position that exists with regard to income tax. Of course he is terribly worried about it now. He is worried about it because he just wants to make a point against the Bill. Another point he was worried about, or simulated being annoyed about, was this provision with regard to the appeal tribunal. In a great many cases that have come before the Land Commission there have been no appeals. There is a legal member of the Commission and three other commissioners. So far as my experience goes, numerous cases have come before them when there was not a legal member constituting it; but yet the decision arrived at gave satisfaction to both sides very often and there were no appeals. We are told now that because two commissioners are to assist the Judicial Commissioner everything will go wrong. The Judicial Commissioner will decide and the others may agree with him as to whether a certain question is a question of law. I do not think there will be any great difficulty in deciding what is a question of law and what is an ordinary question of price or value.

It is all too simple.

Why is the legal profession a closed borough so—a great trade union?

I do not know that everybody who went to law knew what it was about.

But they found out afterwards.

I never observed such friendship for lawyers as I have observed to-day on the opposite benches. They want to make them all powerful.

So they are.

We are trying to take a little off. So far as my experience went, many of the questions that used to come before the Commissioners were questions as to price, the acquisition of certain lands, whether there was equally suitable land in the area, etc. There have been some legal points raised, such as were raised in the Lynham and Butler case, but these are rather far between. I believe the legal questions will be very few in number. To come back to the question of the defaulters, I wonder has the House any appreciation of the costs that often have been put on the unfortunate defaulters who have not been in a position from time to time to meet the six days' notice? These costs are ordinary legal costs. I will give an example of the costs that are incurred. A man owed one year's arrears to the extent of 16/1. The costs amounted to 11/-, drawing the certificate 2/, lodgment fee 7/-, making a total of £1 16s. 1d. That is to recover 16/- the unfortunate man had to pay 19/11 in addition to the 16/- that was the ordinary proper legal cost.

How much of that was stamp duty?

Did it include the sheriff's fee?

Mr. Rice

Did the solicitor get all the rest?

He does not get it all.

Has he the conscience to accept it?

We are trying to give an opportunity—and here is a golden opportunity—of getting rid of all that cost so far as the Land Commission is concerned. The people have the opportunity now if they want it. Reference has been made to two points in the Bill. There is the bogey about fixity of tenure, and fees to the sheriff. Upon these rules will be made giving information to the people. Notice will be sent to the sheriff, who will notify those concerned of the validity of these and the other rules. There was no defence in the case of the Land Commission certificate. There has been a good deal of experience of it in the country and all the defence ever put up to it was to ask for time. The people employed a solicitor, but all he did was to ask for time. That can be done under our Bill by communicating with the Land Commission and taking the ordinary steps.

The Bill itself has been explained fully by the Minister for Defence. I do not think there is any necessity to refer again to any of the points he dealt with. From the point of view of our own country the undertaking with regard to the annuities, and so on, and the funding of arrears, and so on, is a good and generous measure. Additional power is given to acquire land. We asked for that. Deputy Davin made the point as to whether men employed on land in the possession of the Land Commission would be interfered with. Wherever such employment was given these people were never interfered with except where it was absolutely necessary. Under the Act of 1923, where division of land took place, people disemployed as a result were taken over. That is the position and that will be continued under this Bill. The Land Commission can acquire land where they feel it is necessary to do so, and which can be taken over easily, and which will give the greatest relief. That was the way the administration of the Land Act of 1923 was carried out. In the same way the powers acquired under this Bill will be carried out and efforts will be made to acquire as many economic holdings as possible for the people. It is not at all necessary to take away fixity of tenure or anything of that kind, such as we have heard about, and there is no intention to do so.

Deputy Davin, finishing his peroration, looking around to all quarters of the House as if in apology for the course he was taking, proclaimed that he had no apology to make.

None whatever.

I do not know why he was so insistent that he was not offering an apology. As a layman looking at the point of view put forward by Deputy Davin and the Minister for Justice, it seems to me that their plea in reality amounts to one for the abolition of judges to settle these matters. They tell us that the Department is much better, more efficient and less costly; but there is just one thing that they have left out of consideration and it is this. Judges are appointed and they are not removable. The objection to the tribunal we are now discussing is that two out of three of its members are laymen, and the majority decide. They are completely the creatures, for this purpose, of the Minister. In fact the Government are getting rid of the independent authority and that was the reason for the objection of Deputy Costello to this particular section. By some strange mischance even the Minister for Justice seemed to have missed the main contention of Deputy Costello. The objection of Deputy Davin to the Chief Commissioner was that he kept up the price of land.

That he put up the price of land.

And that apparently is approved by Deputies on the Fianna Fáil Benches. I presume, therefore, that one of the purposes that the Judicial Commissioner—an independent authority—not removable at the whim of the Minister, is being superseded by the tribunal is to put down the price of land. Now it is not the landlord's land that is to be depressed in price, it is the tenant's land that is to be put down and that is one of the purposes of the Bill; it stares us in the face. It is quite obvious that is why the Judicial Commissioner is to be superseded by the tribunal which is to be set up. The Minister for Justice told us that, of course, the Judicial Commissioner is supreme on questions of law. But the question need not come to him. The lay commissioners can decide that it is not going to be a question of law. Again, speaking as a layman, I have heard from judges and others that one of the most difficult questions to determine is what is a question of law and what is a question of fact.

Coming to more serious aspects of this measure I gather from the Minister for Justice and the Acting Minister for Lands and Fisheries that this is only a first step. In answer to a question put by Deputy MacDermot the Minister said that it would solve at least a part of the question that cries for solution. That is a clear indication that it is only a first step. The closing remarks of the Minister for Justice show that this was a minimum. It was a maximum in the sense that it was all they could get through at the moment, but so far as their ideals are concerned it is a minimum. Anyone reading the speeches not merely of Fianna Fáil Deputies, and their supporters, but of Ministers, and the President, knows perfectly well that this is only the beginning and that there is no intention of stopping at £2,000 farms. In his pronunciamento from Paris it is clear that a 30 acre farm will be the President's idea. Are we given any indication that they are going to stop at £2,000 farms. Does anybody believe they can? It is quite obvious that they cannot.

The Minister for Justice spoke of the agitation that preceded the Land Bill of 1923. I remember that agitation very well and I remember the intense uneasiness that agitation for the division of the land caused all through the country. I know the way the Sinn Fein Party dealt with it won the support of a great many people. Because they had the interest of the country at heart and they knew the danger of an agitation of that kind and that it was one that was extremely difficult to control or check. In a deliberate way we suggest that the Government is now by this measure starting an agitation for the division and the sub-division and the further sub-division of the land in this country until, finally, you will have uneconomic holdings for everybody. That will be the inevitable result. Deputy Davin may be quite satisfied that the result will be different, namely, that in four years time we will be no nearer the solution than we are at the present moment. That may be so, but I suggest that if that is the case we are paying a very heavy price in doing away with important principles for a very poor mess of pottage indeed. How can anybody suggest that this Bill is anything more than the beginning? The tenant ownership was not disturbed by the 1923 Act. It was then that for many that full ownership was established and, since then, we took care never to interfere with that particular ownership. I make this suggestion, that this Bill will be as fatal to the hold the tenant farmers have on their land as the Land Bill of 1881 was fatal to the hold the landlords had on their land; and if there were landlords at that time who prophesied a dire future for their class and opposed that Bill of 1881, there should be tenant farmers at the present day opposing this Bill for the same reason. This Bill will be as fatal to ordinary tenant farmer proprietorship of economic holdings in this country—perhaps even more fatal—as was the Land Bill of 1881 to the landlords of this country. After a generation and a half the landlords are gone and in a very short space of time—because things march much faster nowadays—the situation of the tenant farmers will be in as parlous a condition as the landlords. That is the position which Deputies ought to bear in mind.

I am not going into the ethics of the situation. I find that, so far as that is concerned, there are apparently different ethical principles cherished by the Fianna Fáil Party from those in which I was brought up. Therefore, I will not discuss the matter from that point of view, but I will discuss it from the point of view of national expediency —from the point of view that you are here establishing a principle and starting an avalanche which you cannot stop. You cannot stop this Bill, as everybody must feel in his heart, at the £2,000 farm. You will quickly have to go beyond that, and if you take a £3,000 farm and take over the value of £2,000 in order to provide farms for landless men, there will still be landless men left. What justification will you have when your ideal is the 30-acre farm, as evidenced by your President, to stop short of taking the next step of going on to the 30-acre farm? As long as there are landless men there, how can you stop short of that? You know perfectly well that you cannot stop short and, as the Minister said, this is only the minimum. This is the minimum. This is only the first step. It is quite in keeping with the whole policy of the Fianna Fáil Party. They speak about the merits of this Bill and Deputy Davin, as usual, backed them up. I am glad to see the old alliance has been fully restored and that friendly relations are again existing between the two parties.

We will miss your crowd!

Well, they stand for commonsense and principle anyhow. Legal technicalities have been swept away. A great deal more than legal technicalities have been swept away, and because a great deal more than legal technicalities have been swept away we oppose this particular Bill. You cannot take this particular Bill, bad as it is, by itself. You will have to relate it to the whole mentality of the Government and to their speeches about land and to what their ideals and purposes are. You are acknowledging here a principle that will lead a great deal further than many supporters of the Fianna Fáil Party think it will lead. At least they will find out to their cost that that is so. You will have to relate it to the general attitude towards employment and to bear in mind that, so far as people who actually give employment, and not merely promise it in the future, are concerned there has always been from the ranks of that Party an unreasoned hostility to them. The man who gives employment has always been looked upon as a kind of enemy of the people, as a man living on the labour of others. You are doing the same thing here to the land as you have done, by taxation and other measures, to the industry of the country. You are doing here what you have done elsewhere, and that is creating uncertainty, cutting away the foundations of any certainty on which the farmers of this country can stand.

Warnings were issued on other aspects of the Government policy that that would be the result of their efforts and that, not merely would the people with something in their pockets be hit, but also the people in employment and who were living by the work of their hands would be hit; that their employment would become uncertain. Have we not had plenty of examples of that in the last couple of weeks when we see efforts being made to drive men out of employment who have been in that employment for a long time? That is also going to spread to the farming community. When we issued warnings against that particular result of the Government policy, naturally, of course, we were sneered at. In the last couple of weeks there have been striking instances in which, unfortunately, out prophecies have been proved to be only too true, and where the man in employment is no longer sure how long he is going to remain in that employment. That uncertainty that the policy of the Fianna Fáil Party has spread everywhere, they are going to spread now to the foundation of the main industry.

As the Minister for Lands and Fisheries put it, I think, in an article he wrote some years ago: "We must have conditioned holding of land... subject to State control." It was something like that. I am not speaking now of the Acting-Minister but of the Minister for Lands and Fisheries, the man into whose hands the power is now being given by this particular Act; and we have some vague ideas as to the views he holds about property and various other things. I suggest that all that is only in keeping with the whole attitude of the Fianna Fáil Party and with the attitude they have adopted even so far as land is concerned. I remember in this House, speaking on the Wheat motion, that the present Minister for Industry and Commerce, then Deputy Lemass, pointed out that the State—the community—had a right to demand from the farmers that they should use the land as the community thought fit; that the community had given them the land—that is what I want to stress —and, apparently, could take it away. Right through all this Bill that is the conception undoubtedly, and that can be the only justification for it. Of course, I am not surprised that that does not create trouble for Deputy Davin. I presume he speaks for his Party. The conception right through the Bill is that the State owns the land; that the land belongs to the State and not to the farmers. That would be one justification for this Bill.

It is a justification for misrepresentation.

What does the Deputy mean?

It justifies you in misrepresenting me.

I did not misrepresent the Deputy. He supports the principle. He rejoices in this Bill. I do not see any misrepresentation in that. The Deputy supports that Bill. Show me where I am misrepresenting you. The Bill stands for one principle, and the Deputy supports that with great pleasure. In fact, the only thing I can find out from the Deputy's speech is that the Bill does not go far enough or quickly enough. He feels that in four years we will be in a similar position to that in which we are now. That was his main objection to the Bill. We had the Minister for Agriculture at Claremorris saying: "You will find that under this new Land Bill we are going to make an attempt to put the Irish people on the land that properly belongs to them." Who are they going to put out of it? Are they not Irish people? In what sense does he mean that the land belongs to the people? Does he mean it belongs to the State? Why use such a vague term as that? It does not belong to the State; it belongs to the individual farmers, and it is being taken away from them. That is carefully concealed. There are people who may say that there are no implications in this Bill, but the implications are there. There are various aspects of the Bill that we might discuss. I quite admit the difficulty in collecting old arrears, but why were they not funded? Why is the man who owed seven years' arrears of annuity treated more favourably than the man who paid up to the last three years——

Because he is a Fianna Fáil supporter.

——the man who went through the comparatively more prosperous years and did not pay up? I do not suggest that you can collect them from him now.

A lot of them were robbed by you.

Why were not these arrears funded? The land annuities were reduced by half. Why? Because of the present value of land. But these arrears were contracted long before the fall in prices took place. Why are these people singled out for special treatment? I do not suggest you can collect the arrears all at once. Why is there not a funding of seven years' arrears instead of three years? What is the principle of distributive justice so far as that is concerned? The farm stands to the farmer in the position that the factory does to the manufacturer; it is his means of livelihood. If you are justified in taking away portion of that land, why do you not interfere with the manufacturer as well? Why will you not take away some of his factory if he is making too much?

Take away half theIrish Press.

That might be a gain to the proprietors as they would only have half the losses. Why is the farmer singled out for this unfair treatment? Why is what is good for him not good for the manufacturer? Perhaps they will also make a claim so far as manufacturers are concerned when the time comes.

Divide up the lawyers' practice and give it to the juniors.

As I said, I object to this Bill because it enshrines a principle that I believe to be extremely dangerous. We have time and again warned the Government that they were going along dangerous paths. Everything that has occurred in the last 18 months only convinces me that every warning we issued was, unfortunately, more than justified. I object also to the particular mental attitude that this Bill represents and that is being worked up in the country—the attitude that a man is a public enemy because he has property and gives employment. There is an attitude of envy, hostility and hatred being worked up. That is not an atmosphere in which to bring in a confiscatory Bill of this kind. It is quite true that there are countries that deal with moderate sized farms in the way in which this Bill proposes to deal with them. I am sorry that in this, as in other cases, the Government have seen fit to follow that particular example. There is no real justification so far as this is concerned.

I ask the House to be under no delusions as to what the full consequences of the measure will be. I can only repeat what I said, that I am convinced that this Bill will be as fatal to the hold that the Irish farmer has on his land as the Land Act of 1881 was fatal to the hold that the landlord had on his land.

It is very amusing to hear the criticisms levelled at this the Opposition benches. They made a whole lot of prophecies about what is going to befall the country if the Bill is passed. In the absence of any other case, the charge is levelled by Deputy Hogan that this is simply a measure introduced for political purposes. I think that when Deputy Hogan was making such charges he was thinking of the state of his own mind when he introduced the Land Bill in 1923, which was lauded all over the country at the time, and for many years afterwards, as being the great solution of the land question. Nothing better ever came or would ever come again to the country than the 1923 Land Bill. The people were to be settled on the land. Even the landless men that the Fianna Fáil Party are accused of trying to win over for political purposes, were to be looked after under Deputy Hogan's Land Bill of 1923. Deputy O'Sullivan, Deputy Hogan, Deputy Costello and Deputy Dillon have accused the Fianna Fáil Party of playing politics by trying to play up to the landless men and stated that the landless men are going to be catered for by this Bill. When the Deputies were making these statements, did they not think of the statements made by Deputy Hogan when introducing the Land Bill in 1923, the Land Bill which was going to settle the problem, but after nine or ten years of its administration Deputy Hogan has to come to the House and say that this is a big problem. Deputy Dillon has to say that it is a big problem. Deputy O'Sullivan and Deputy Costello also had to say that there is a very big problem to be settled. Therefore, they admit that the great Land Bill of 1923 did not settle the problem or touch the fringe of the problem. What about the accusation as to the landless men? We find Deputy Hogan reported in the Official Reports for 1923, column 1944, as making this statement:

"The problem of congestion is a huge one and bristles with many difficulties. There are congests on practically every estate and whereever there are congests the Land Commission will acquire the estates, deal with the congests and resell the balance to landless men."

Now mind you, was not that good politics? Did the Acting-Minister for Lands and Fisheries play as good politics? Not at all. We are not in the running with Deputy Hogan, who accuses us to-day of playing politics. Furthermore, he says:

"There are thousands of wretched holdings huddled together along and near the sea coasts, all under £10 valuation and with very little untenanted land of any kind in the neighbourhood to provide for them. As far as possible these tenants must be migrated, and as far as possible the bigger tenants must be migrated."

Was not that good politics? Was not it a very fine political speech? To carry that into further effect Deputy Hogan went down to Ballinasloe on the last Sunday of August, 1923, and after dealing with the problem of landless men and how land was going to be provided for them through the 1923 Act he said that the 100,000 congests would be catered for. Was not that good politics by the man who to-day accuses Fianna Fáil of introducing this Bill for no other reason than playing politics? They see simply their own tactics of the past, and Deputy Hogan —because his mind was solely directed to political considerations—thinks that the Minister could have no other reason for introducing a Land Bill than that of providing land for his friends. The Fianna Fáil Government has a long way to go before they cater so much for their friends as did the man who to-day accused them of playing politics.

Under the 1923 Land Act the Mount Talbot House, Roscommon, was purchased by the Land Commission. An amount of timber was sold which practically made up for the purchase price. The Mount Talbot House and 158 acres of land surrounding it, including gardens and some timber, were let by the Land Commission as one holding. One of the local congests—mind you, one of the hardworking farmers whom Deputy Hogan boosted to-day; working a very small holding, saving money and looking around for a patch of land he could buy—offered £300 and the appropriate rent to cover the cost as valued by the Land Commission for 50 acres of that land. Of course he was refused and sneered at, although he was recommended by the Land Commission inspector. Who got the Land? The 158 acres, with the house, were given to Deputy Hogan's best friend and local henchman for £1,300, £300 down and £1,000 to be paid at the rate of £47 10/- per annum. The Fianna Fáil Government must go a long way before they are able to come up to Deputy Hogan or to the Front Bench opposite in providing for their friends and giving them land.

Deputy Hogan talked to-day about the hardworking farmer who would save money on the small holding, and buy a small patch outside it if he could get it, but that was not thought of by Deputy Hogan when a similar farmer to the one he boosted to-day offered to buy 50 acres of land at the Land Commission's valuation in 1925 or 1926, and was refused by Deputy Hogan. It is from those men, whose hands are soiled, that the accusations come about political tactics, and Bills brought in for political purposes. They talk about the farmer being down and out; that farming is no good in this country and will not pay. What objection have they, therefore, to farmers who are losing on their farms of 150 or 250 or 500 or 1,000 acres having them bought over from them, and given to men who will work them?

I do not at all agree that farmers are down and out. I am not taking the Fianna Fáil method of valuation in that. I am taking the valuation of probably the most prominent leader in the Cumann na nGaedheal Party in the country, who does not at all agree with the Centre Party or with the Cumann na nGaedhead Party that land is a bad proposition in this country. We had ex-Deputy Gorey a few weeks ago paying £2,500 for a holding of land, in addition to a few other holdings which he has already. Is that not a tribute to our Minister for Agriculture? Is that not a tribute to our Government? Does ex-Deputy Gorey not know as much about land as Deputy Belton? Does ex-Deputy Gorey not know as much about land as Professor O'Sullivan, a professor in the National University? Does ex-Deputy Gorey not know as much about land as Deputy Dillon? Ex-Deputy Gorey always boasted of living by the land.

How much an acre did he pay for it.

He paid £2,500 for land. He invested £2,500 in land at a time when we are told by the Cumann na nGaedheal Party and the Centre Party that land is a bad proposition, and that nobody should put his money into it. Mind you, I am prepared to take ex-Deputy Gorey, having heard him for a number of years talk on land matters, to be as good an authority on land, its value, what can be made out of it, and what money should be invested in it, as any man, any professor, or any lawyer who has yet spoken about this Bill.

In my opinion the Government are making a very big effort to settle the land problem. That cannot be denied even by the Deputies opposite. None of them has said that it is not an effort to settle that problem, and none of them denies that there is a problem, even after the great Land Act of 1923. To my mind, as far as taking over land is concerned, relief of congestion should be the main object. Relief of congestion should be the first call on any national Government. We have, throughout the country most disgraceful land slums. There is a big estate in the County Mayo, the Palmer Estate. You have it shown that there is one holding containing only two acres, one rood, divided up into 18 plots. You have another holding containing 14 acres and 11 perches comprising 35 plots. You have in that whole area a few thousand farmers. As far as the nation is concerned, and as far as the national outlook is concerned, they have as much right to a livelihood as have the greater ranchers referred to to-day by the Cumann na nGaedheal Party. They were the men who won whatever was won in the land war. They were the men whom Deputy Dillon referred to as putting up a great fight. It was they who suffered, and nothing was done for them. I am very glad that our Government has taken the trouble to find out what the land problem is in places like the Palmer Estate, and that they are going to get down to that problem and not heed any friend of the idle rich on the opposite benches who talks about disturbing the fixity of tenure. They suggest that holdings of ten acres are going to be taken over, and the occupiers put out on the roadside. That is the Cumann na nGaedheal objection to this Bill. How far did they succeed in taking over land successfully and dividing it among the congests under the 1923 Bill? In County Mayo there is one estate, the taking over of which was made a prominent part of the Cumann na nGaedheal policy at a few elections—the demesne lands of Castle Hill. Under the last Government's Bill it was found impossible to take over that land; even though evictions within the last 55 years have taken place within that demesne. A demesne wall was built out of the houses knocked down there within the last 55 years. That is a demesne of 1,500 acres. Where you have such conditions as have been explained, this Bill gives us a remedy for the taking over of demesnes of that kind.

The vote given on this Bill by Mayo Deputies is a vote given to continue the system of withholding lands like Castle Hill lands from the people of Mayo. We have in this particular place a farm which the Cumann na nGaedheal Government have been trying since 1926 to acquire. As far as I can find out Deputy Roddy when he was in charge of the Land Commission did everything he could within the Act of 1923 to acquire that land. He failed to get the lands of Hagfield in Mayo. But this Bill provides a remedy. When we get down to hard tacks it is really in order to prevent lands such as these being taken over that all the blustering talk about disturbing fixity of tenure and other things have been spoken. All the talk is simply bluff and political tactics on the part of Cumann na nGaedheal. The problem of congestion is a big one. I am not so interested in the problem of providing land for landless men. I take it that it is the policy of the Government that the condition of the congests, of uneconomic landholders is to be dealt with first, and when that problem is dealt with then it might be a very wise policy to consider the question of providing land for farmers' sons who know how to work the land.

Deputy Professor O'Sullivan, who spoke on this Bill, asked why should the State have any say in the matter as to how the farmer should work his land. The Deputy instanced the case of a factory and asked should the State have any say as to how the owner of a factory was to run that factory? I say the State should have a great lot to do with that question. The Cumann na nGaedheal Government when in power took it on itself to have a good deal to do with matters of that kind. If a man were the owner of a factory and had valuable machinery and if he, because he had interests in some other country, allowed that factory to go into decay and the machinery to lie idle at the expense of the livelihood of 200 or 300 workers and their families, would the State have any right to interfere in such a case? Are we to allow monopolists and idle men to run this country and make it a playground for themselves and their passions? I say it is the same as far as the land is concerned. In this country where we have the finest land in the world there are people with large tracts of this fine land which are not being worked in the interests of the State.

I say it is the duty of the State to step in and say that the men whose forefathers were evicted from these lands should be restored to them.

Will they work them?

They will, and they will not need to go into building to make it pay, or borrow money from the White Cross people to make it pay. They will take over this land and make it pay. Is that an answer for the Deputy?

I will deal with that.

Very well. It is the duty of the State to solve these problems. I do not see any wrong in this Bill when you think of the confiscatory powers that were taken by the Cumann na nGaedheal Government in the matter of the Shannon scheme and in dealing with the lighting in the different towns. There was confiscation there, absolute confiscation, out and out confiscation, and the matter was not as vital to the country-people, to the farmers and the workers as this Bill. To my mind, it is a Bill that has not gone too far, probably not far enough, as far as the people in this country want and deserve. There has been a great deal of talk about the three years' arrears to be forgiven by the Land Commission. We have been told that these arrears are forgiven because the people who owe them are Fianna Fáil supporters. Will any Cumann na Gaedheal Deputy put down an amendment asking that these arrears be not forgiven? Will they get every member of their Party to vote for it? Unless there is a very strict Party whip I am going to vote for that amendment, and so far as I know, a pretty big number, if not the majority of the Fianna Fáil Deputies, will vote for such an amendment. I am not so sure that the Minister may not on the Committee Stage go back on that. Then we will see where the boot pinches. At least this provision should be made that arrears should not be forgiven in any case over a certain valuation, say £20 or £25 valuation. I say that because during the years when Cumann na nGaedheal was in office, when as they assert, they made this country a happy and rich land for the farmers, surely a man with a valuation over £25 should be able to pay his rent. If he was not able to pay his rent when Cumann na nGaedheal was in office he should not be entitled to any reduction now. I would like very much to see Deputy Belton, on the Committee Stage of this Bill, put down an amendment asking the Government not to forgive the arrears which it is proposed in this Bill to forgive.

It is proposed in this Bill to acquire land. It is proposed to acquire it in a more expeditious manner than was done by the Cumann na nGaedheal Government. It is proposed to put aside all the red tape, and when the land is acquired it is proposed that the Land Commission should have the final say in the matter. It is proposed that no rancher or demesne owner, whose ranches have been taken over in the interests of the people, will have the right to go to an appeal tribunal and pull wires, as they so often tried to do before. I say "tried to do before." The charge is made that it is an unwise thing and a political move to interfere with the appeal tribunal. But I say that is the best thing in this Bill. We know as much about this problem as the people on the opposite benches. I know one particular case in the County Mayo where the valuers of the Land Commission went down a few years ago and valued an estate. The owner of that estate appealed to the tribunal.

Is this a judgment of the Judicial Commissioner?

I do not think so.

If it is a judgment of the Judicial Commissioner we cannot have it discussed here.

Oh, no. In this case the Land Commission officers were sent down a second time to assure the Land Commission as to the valuation, and the owner of the estate again appealed and had the valuation increased from 14/- to 20/- per acre. Who is the best judge, the Judicial Commissioner or the land valuers or the Land Commission? Who is the best judge? Can anybody say that justice was done there to the people who got the land? Can anybody say that the particular commissioner——

I want to be clear about this thing. Who gave the final decision as to the value of the land? I want to make it perfectly clear that the decision of the Judicial Commissioner cannot be discussed in this House, neither can the decision of any judge be discussed in this House.

My argument is that the Land Commission valuers are better judges of the price of land than any commissioner.

Or tribunal?

They know the circumstances of the locality, they know the value of the land. That is their business, and if the matter were left to them the people would not have any reason to grumble. From that point of view the appeal tribunal is one of the best things in this Bill.

Mr. Lynch

The Deputy's argument is the very opposite.

No. That is a very important matter and there again you run up against the argument of the Cumann na nGaedheal Deputies that you interfere with fixity of tenure. I know a particular place in County Mayo where a couple of hundred acres of bog are held by two individuals who sell it to local congests every year at a fabulous price. They have no right to hold that bog from the people. It is the duty of the Government to come to the assistance of the people and to purchase that bog from those two individuals regardless of title. They should not allow those people to penalise the local congests almost in the same manner as the landlords did in the old days. This is tackling the problem. It may not settle it finally, but at any rate it is a decent effort and, so far as a settlement of the land question goes, it will, I believe, settle the whole problem of congestion in this State.

On a point of explanation, I understood the last speaker to say, and apparently he was referring to me, that under circumstances with which he was dealing people could make land pay, without having to go into the bank or to seek money from the White Cross. I spent 17 years in the Civil Service. I was dismissed after a courtmartial and I had to go out and make my own living. I never got anything whatever from any White Cross or from any public funds. I got no money except the money I earned hard.

I did not ask Deputy Belton to take it to himself so much.

It was meant for me if I sat under it. I will teach this landless man, this non-farmer, how to farm when I get on my feet.

He doth protest too much.

I do not live on the wages of others either.

Mr. Rice

We have had some expressions of dissatisfaction from the opposite benches in relation to this Bill. We were told by some Deputies there that it does not go far enough. There are others who declare that it does not carry out sufficiently the policy, of those who want to dispossess the people who are in and put in the people who are out. I hope, before this debate comes to an end, we will have an expression of dissatisfaction from other members of the Party, the people who think it is going too far. I would like to give this assurance to the people who do not think it is going far enough, that if they examine the machinery they will find that it is revolutionary enough even for their taste. To my mind this measure proposes to set up a dictatorship in the Ministry.

As regards those Fianna Fáil Deputies who think this Bill is going too far, I hope they will have the courage other Deputies of their Party had to come forward and express their dissatisfaction with the Bill. There are numbers of pretty large holders supporting Fianna Fáil who, it is a matter of common knowledge, are very uncomfortable about this Bill. I hope their spokesmen in the House will have the courage to say that they disapprove of the Bill. I would regard such an expression with great satisfaction, just as I regard the discomfiture of those people with satisfaction. If people choose to go for a ride on a tiger it affords a certain amount of satisfaction to onlookers, when people deliberately put themselves in that position, to see how in their discomfort they will get down and get away.

This Bill has taken a lot of hatching and it has made its appearance in the form which Deputy Hogan described. He termed it a political Bill. Apart from being political, it is a revolutionary Bill because it proposes to set up a dictatorship in the Ministry. Let us examine Section 6. It purports to divide the authorities of the Land Commission into two parts. It sets out, first of all, to except matters which the Minister is not entitled to deal with himself and then, further on, it confers absolute powers on the Minister as regards everything else. The excepted matters are the determination of the individuals from whom land is to be taken, the price to be paid, the persons to whom it is to be given and the price to be paid by them. The Bill goes on to give the most dictatorial powers to the Land Commission, acting under the direct instructions of the Minister, as to what is to be done. Why draw a distinction at all between the powers given to the Minister?

The body to whom the right of appeal is given is a farcical body consisting of three persons. We were first told it would consist of the Judicial Commissioner and two lay commissioners. To-day we were informed that in Committee an amendment will be introduced substituting Land Commissioners for the Lay Commissioners. We are told nothing further as to any change that is proposed except in the name to be applied. So far as we know, the extraordinary powers given to the Minister to nominate people to act as his puppets are to be retained. According to Section 7 (1), on and after an appointed day the Judicial Commissioner and any two officers of the Land Commission for the time being nominated by the Minister are to act as an appeal tribunal. In other words, the whole scheme is to put two gentlemen there who are the creatures and the puppets of the Minister, because they are only there for the time being. They are there, not as judicial persons, but as persons carrying out the instructions and the policy of the Minister. If they fail to do that, they cease to be there; they are appointed only for the time being. That destroys every safeguard that centuries have invented to provide some authority independent of the Administration to act between the Administration and the subject in the just carrying out of the law.

That tribunal is most extraordinary from many points of view, because it puts the Judicial Commissioner in the position that he is not even entitled to exercise the primary function of saying what is a question of law. In order to determine that a question of law arises, he must get the concurrence of at least one of the two Lay Commissioners. As Deputy O'Sullivan said, one of the greatest difficulties that judges very often have is to say what is really a question of law as distinct from what is a question of fact. There are questions of law purely and there are questions of fact purely, and there are mixed questions of law and fact. Very often one of the greatest difficulties judges experience is to determine into which particular class some questions may fall. Here we have a Judicial Commissioner harnessed to two laymen who have no qualifications whatever beyond merely being officers of the Land Commission. They may be junior clerks taken out of the office. We are told now they are to be Land Commissioners. We are not told what qualifications applies to the description of Land Commissioner. These two gentlemen can control the Judicial Commissioner in deciding what is a question of law.

I am sorry the Attorney-General is not in the House, because I would like to tell him that in my opinion the proposal is absolutelyultra vires of Article 64 of the Constitution, which provides that the judicial power of this State is to be exercised by judges appointed under the Constitution. These men are not judges and this section proposes to confer judicial power on laymen who have no legal qualifications whatever and are not appointed judges. You can, if you like, appoint laymen with sufficient qualifications for the position of judges, but unless you make them judges under the Constitution you cannot allow them to exercise the powers proposed to be given them under this Bill. It appears to me that it is proposed to set up a dictatorship as regards land in this country; but it is not a dictatorship in the healthy sense in which that position has been created in other countries, because the head of this movement is not a national figurehead. He is the figurehead of the Fianna Fáil Party. If the time ever comes, as outlined by the Acting-Minister for Lands and Fisheries when speaking a year or so ago after his Government took office, somewhat in the spirit of hope rather than a prophecy, that power is handed over to a Government more extreme than this, then the tenant supporters of the Government at the present time, who have gone for a ride on a tiger, will begin to understand the implications of this Bill in a proper manner.

The Minister for Justice did not like Deputy Hogan's speech because he called this a political Bill, and because he referred to fixity of tenure. I hope before this Bill has gone through this House the tenant purchasers of the country will understand that everything that was got for them by Parnell, Davitt, and Redmond, and O'Brien, and Dillon is being swept away from them. Everything is being taken away from them and they have no longer in future a security of tenure. We had recently a principle announced, apparently with the benediction of the Labour Party that men in constant employment are no longer to have fixity of tenure and that other people may be taken on in their places. Now the same principle is to be applied to tenant purchasers. People occupying farms are to be put out to make room for men, some of them perhaps very deserving and some not, who have no land at the present time. Security of tenure is to be abolished under this Bill. Let the tenant farmers not forget that. Deputy Hogan referred to one case that might arise where a residential holder is a small man who has an adjoining holding, his principal source of livelihood, and which is not protected at all. There is the other case of a man with two farms, one a winter farm and the other a summer farm. He is not protected either and yet he is one of the best types of farmers we have in the country. One of the great difficulties we have in this country is that we have no example of all-the-year-round farms that they have in other countries. That man is not protected under this Bill. He is to be ousted from his security of tenure.

There is another section of the Bill to which reference has been made already. This section substitutes a warrant issued by the Land Commission for a court order in the case of unpaid annuities. Deputy Davin became very eloquent on that and said that three lawyer Deputies who spoke complained of that because it took work away from them as lawyers. The three Deputies were Deputy Hogan, ex-Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Costello and Deputy Dillon. Not one of them would be affected to the extent of one farthing in 20 years as regards their personal earnings by the change made in this Bill. It would be as absurd to say that the pier-master in Dun Laoghaire would be affected as to say the Deputies referred to would be.

Deputy Davin talked a great deal of nonsense upon this subject. He overlooked the fact that the proposals now contained in this Bill were put before a joint committee on the Courts of Justice Acts three or four years ago by an officer of the Land Commission. Evidence was taken and considered, but the committee unanimously turned down these proposals because they came to the conclusion they would lead to trouble. I am making no reflection upon the staff of the Land Commission. It is a very big department and in any such huge department such as that a number of mistakes may sometimes occur. It is only natural that it might occur that people might be sued for annuities that they had already paid. But it is now proposed to take away the protection that the order of the court proposed between the annuitants and the Land Commission. They are really the collector of the money in a particular transaction and judge in their own case. They are to be allowed to issue warrants without any means of redress by the persons on the other side. Taking another point made by the Minister for Justice, it is quite easy to devise some system in the case of some people who default by which the costs could be reduced to a minimum. Speaking again from recollection in regard to the report of that committee I spoke of, I think they made recommendations, upon that subject also. When Deputy Davin talks a great deal of nonsense upon this subject I might remind him that that committee included members not only of the Fianna Fáil Party and the Cumann na nGaedheal Party but members of the Labour Party as well.

A great deal has been said by way of excusing the provisions of this Bill on the grounds that it follows the lines of previous legislation. The Acting Minister, in introducing the Bill, talked about people for whom land would be provided. He mentioned landless men and then went on in that delightfully vague way to add "and so on." That is a very pregnant phrase because it included every person that the political administration chooses to give land to. There were safeguards in all previous legislation preventing abuses of that kind. There are none here because the people who will be in authority in the department will be the puppets and nominees of the Minister. The fundamental mistake made in this Bill is that it opens the floodgates of a system no Government can stop. The land hunger in this country does not need to be stimulated. But it is stimulated and intensified by the proposals in this Bill. We hear people described as ranchers because they have 300, 400 or 500 acres, but this Bill will create a situation that in a few years a man with 30 or 40 acres will be described as a rancher and demands will be made for the division of his farm. This Bill introduces a new and revolutionary principle in Irish land. It will create a new period of unrest and will give rise to land agitation in this country the end of which no man can see.

Deputy Hogan seemed to be somewhat disappointed with this Bill. He called it a real bad Bill. What is this Bill? Is it not in practice the same Bill as Deputy Hogan was forced to introduce in 1923 but with all the different impediments put there purposely removed. That is all this Bill is. We have taken all the monkey-wrenches, nuts and different other impediments that clogged the machinery out of the way and we have put protection around that machine so that it can function properly.

Why did the former Minister for Agriculture introduce the Bill of 1923 at all? He was forced to do it. There was no way out of it. If he had not introduced that Bill, the people would have taken the land themselves, and he introduced that Bill with the full determination to remedy what he called that evil. Gradually he repented. If he did not repent, those outside his circle did repent. Deputy Hogan talked about this Bill being political. There is nothing political about it. Neither was his Bill political when he introduced it, although it was not long until it became so. In County Meath nobody would believe that there was ever a Land Act in the country. Occasionally, one sees attempts at the division of land. Occasionally land is held up there. It belongs to nobody at all, seemingly. It is nobody's child. Nominally, it belongs to the Land Commission and you see it in the names of men with strange names. Sometimes it is not stocked at all; sometimes it is half stocked with hungry cattle which are taken up to Dublin and sold in mass for 10/- or£1 and if they can get that much, well and good.

A Deputy

Whose fault is that? Is it not the Government's fault?

It is the fault of the monkey-wrenches that were thrown into the Land Act. If things remained as they are, that land would remain there for the next 20 years. It could not be divided. I admit that land hunger is intense, but no matter how bad it is, or how strong the land hunger is, nobody is going in to take that land. What do we mean to do in all this? Let us take the position in a county like Meath. Around the town of Navan there are about ten families living on a place known as the Common, and the average acreage there would be one and a half acres. They have no milk except what they buy. They have to buy the milk because they have no place to keep a cow. These people are hard workers, and most of them have capital. A mile and a half from that place you come across 25 holdings with an average of seven statute acres. That is the average. Some of them go down as far as one acre; a number of them have four acres and many of them six acres. On the other side of the road there, we have an estate with 760 acres and, alongside, another estate with 180 acres, with two herds getting 10/- a week. Sometimes it is stocked, and sometimes it is not stocked. That is the problem. I do not see what difficulty we had in the last ten years that prevented us from changing these people across the road, and these people are compelled to take that in the grass way, and if they did not do so, no annuities could be paid. That is the position. I do not think that anybody in the House will deny that that ought to be solved, and that a solution of that problem would be for the benefit of the whole community.

Another thing about it is this. Who are those people on the one and a half acres and the two acres, and the four acres? I know them all. They are, perhaps, the grandchildren of men who held considerable quantities of land there and who, by one ruse or another —by putting more monkey-wrenches in the machine—were pitched out, and who, with permission or otherwise, erected little mud-wall cabins and are there ever since. We propose to come to the rescue. The 1923 Act could have rescued them only for the monkey-wrenches and the other impediments that were put in the machine. That is the position and nobody can deny it. We have created innumerable ranches in Meath by this section of which so many people complain—the migratory section—ranches up against this very class of people. Are they going to be left looking on, or is it not our bounden duty to make an attempt to preserve the peace? Can they be kept indefinitely there under such circumstances, knowing that they have the physical strength and the capital to make use of land? They know that there are opportunities for themselves and for their capital to come into action. They know the opportunities are here now. Why should they not be allowed to avail of them? Why should not the ratepayers of Meath be allowed to have the number of those who can pay rates increased? I think that very few Deputies in the House would be inclined to go against that principle.

Deputy Hogan talked about the political aspect of this measure. I take it that all measures promoted by any Party, no matter how pure they may be, are open to that accusation. It is an accusation that is very hard to refute. During his speech the Deputy came on to the tenant right business and, after he had mentioned it, he got nervous and said: "No, I will not go any further that way." He did not go any further because he killed tenant right. He was the first man to interfere with it. Deputy Dillon, of course, spoke about tenant right also, and naturally so. Why should he not speak of it? His late father had a great connection with it. Everyone of us respects tenant right, but I do not see that tenant right is interfered with at all in this Bill. I do not see that the Minister or any other body under him are out to interfere with the living that is got by people on the land or through the land. As long as a farm of land can be worked by the owner economically and as long as he has the wherewithal to work it and to employ men on that land and give them a living, neither the Government, I am sure, nor the men employed would like to see that land interfered with. I see no intention whatsoever to interfere with it. I think it would be wise for some of the members on the opposite benches to drop their political bias and face the issue from the national point of view. I think a little more nationality would improve the House and the country.

We are faced now with doing what should have been done after 1923. We are faced now with the problem of putting the people on the land. That is the intention of this Bill—putting the people on the land in a just and righteous manner. There is no question at all of doing what Deputy Rice stated we were going to do and what Deputy Hogan stated we were going to do, that we were going to take all the members of each branch and put them on in preference to anybody else. That kind of thing is easily suggested, but no such thing is going to happen. As a matter of fact, the Minister was quite jealous on that point and, perhaps, we were not quite pleased with the Minister because, over certain things that arose under the Act, he had not control; but now we notice that the Minister was quite wise in insisting that he would not have any say at all as to who is to get the land, what the price of it will be, and other such things. It is quite easy to say that the Government or the Executive Council are going to select men for the land that are thoroughly seasoned lieutenants of Fianna Fáil. They are not going to do any such thing. If they have to select men outside the Land Commission they are going to select capable men.

We have heard a great deal of talk and I myself have made statements on many occasions against the officials of the Land Commission. I admit now that I spoke in ignorance. These officials had to carry out the law under which they work and it was not their fault. They worked under very considerable difficulties which were imposed by the members of the late Government. I am now in a position to sympathise with these men. They were strangled and fettered and they could not move. They were busy and overworked doing nothing. That was how, as I say, the monkey-wrench was thrown into the machine which would otherwise have worked smoothly and which caused it to jerk up suddenly. Excursions to the country, telegrams, telephones, messages and letters flying in all directions, but no reply —it was only an excuse. I asked questions five years ago in this House as to why certain lands supposed to be taken over by the Land Commissioner were not divided. The people sat in their miserable hovels watching that land and nothing happened. It could not be done. We were not told that. Every one of the Ministers then knew why. Now, because we are removing the causes, there is a sort of outcry. One man shouts "politics." Another man, who is not a member of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party, says: "You have destroyed the land tenure system of this country; you have destroyed tenant right."

What was the tenant right under the Act of 1923? How far did that tenant right hold good beyond this, that the moment the tenant failed to pay his annuity there was no tenant right? The Executive Council at that time took every possible step to secure that he would not have any tenant right. They passed the most harsh laws that could possibly be passed. If a man owed half a year's annuity there was no mercy shown to him. If by sickness, misfortune, or otherwise, he was not able to meet his annuity, an auctioneer could not even set the land for him, or give him any chance of meeting his arrears. Why was all that done? I know that that did not come from Deputies now sitting on the opposite benches. These men were all good nationalists. They did not do it of themselves. They got into an unhappy situation in which they had to do those things. I believe that it is good for every Deputy to face up to the position and to recognise once and for all that what we are doing is what they would have done only for some circumstances which prevented them. They are glad that it is being done; it is a great relief to them. They, just as much as we do, want to see their kith and kin in possession of this country.

The fundamental thing in this country is the land. It was not ours up to this. As soon as this Bill is passed, the people of the country will own the land. That is the real tenant right to my mind. I hope the day is not far distant when economically we can be in such a position that we may remove all this artificial system of land division and leave it in the ordinary course of events to be bought and sold amongst the people. This is all artificial—every bit of it. It is our past that has forced us into this position. The rotten gamble in land that went on, the confiscations, etc., forced us into it. Some people may say that we should not speak about that, but if we want to understand what is happening we must speak about it and understand what happened. Why are there all these numerous little islands of people all through Meath and all those good, rich lands now derelict? Even men with capital were afraid to touch them for years past. Is there some spell about them, some curse on them, that they could not be worked? Why should they be without people on them when the bogs and the hill-sides of Meath are full of people? Why should that be the case? We are satisfied that it ought not to be the case, and we are determined that it will not be the case. I am not satisfied that the Bill is extreme enough. I will admit candidly that if I had my way I would have more power. There is no one listening to me but would do the same if he were honest enough to say it.

Will the Deputy indicate what powers he would have if he had his way?

What powers would I like to have? The same powers as were taken in the 1923 Land Act. On the appointed day all the land belonged to the State.

A Deputy

To the State?

To the State for division, the same as you have to do it now. On the appointed day it will be acquired by the Land Commission.

Confiscation again!

No such thing.

Another Cromwell.

Would not you be the Cromwell? If we only had sufficient power, there is not one in the House but would be the Cromwell—not one.

A Deputy

You are out to act the Cromwell to-day.

Not likely.

Your idea is that if a man bought his land and paid for it you are going to take it from him.

Will you explain then?

You can read what is in the Official Report.

I want to be educated.

You will get it in the Official Report. I am not going to repeat it again. That is the problem that we have to face up to. We want to see that these 25 families I mentioned not far from the town of Navan will be put on that wilderness that exists there. Nobody knows to whom it belongs. We heard Deputy Rice refer to the section in the Bill which deals with the recovery of arrears. I believe that that section is perfectly right on that business. I remember a time not very long ago when there were 2,600 of these decrees issued in Meath. I was anxious to know what these things cost and I was only told that the average was two guineas each. I do not know who got it, but I know who would have paid if we did not intervene. The farmers would have bills against them. There is nothing unreasonable in doing this in a much simpler way. As to court proceedings, all I ever heard about them was that the District Justice just heard the case and signed the decree and it was all over. The tenant did not appear, but he knew it meant a couple of extra pounds on his arrears. I think that was a hardship and that the solution for that difficulty is what we have proposed. I do not see why anybody should object. There is nothing political in this Bill. This Bill is a national Bill. It is built up to a large extent on the structure of the 1923 Act. The weaknesses of the 1923 Act are eliminated, and stronger measures are put in. It has been said here that the result of this will be to whittle farms of land down to 50 acres, and when they have been whittled down to 50 acres that next year or the year after we will take the 50 acres, and that we will repeat what is repeated by the foreign body in those maps you saw to-day. There is not the slightest danger of that happening. Except the country fails completely that will not happen. I do not believe for a moment that that sort of thing is going to be repeated. We have taken this step now, and having taken this step I believe we have ensured to the people of this country that elementary principle which, when boiled down and reduced into ordinary language, means the right of living here in their own country. That is all that is claimed. Those people did not have the right of a living. They depended on something else that might happen. It was mentioned here about a foreign market— about the market that we deliberately took away. Was there ever any dispute with that market before?

Yes. At the time when an additional threepence a head was put on the cattle in Birkenhead, there was a terrible dispute.

That has been happening all along the line. What is the reason for it now?

There is £6 a head now.

At that time they were a little timid. They had an appetite then.

It was threepence a head then.

There is not any appetite at all now, and that is the reason they got so courageous with the tariff, because they did not have an appetite. They did not have an appetite because they were unable to sell their manufactured goods abroad, and they had no income and no money to buy our cattle.

I do not know what references have been made to the economic war, but it is certainly not in order to discuss the economic war under this Bill.

I am not going to pursue that, but it had been mentioned here by many speakers and that is the reason that I refuted it. It would not be easy to justify this Bill except some form of economics were introduced. I am permitted to say this much, that the other view of why this Bill is necessary is that, as every Deputy knows, the economic conditions of land and its products in this country have completely changed. You have here now a full, complete and efficient protection for commodities produced on land, and the £25,000,000 or £30,000,000 worth of foreign stuff that was bought hitherto and that could be produced here is now no longer purchased.

What are you going to do with the 200,000 barrels of last year's grain?

The farmers in this country in the future will have an opportunity of making full and complete use of their land. Hitherto, they were restricted to two or three months of cattle production. They were not even able to stall feed the cattle, as it was uneconomic. We were reduced gradually to the point when for the months of June, July, August and September the people could sell grass beef, and were compelled to live on whatever profits they could make on that for the rest of the year. Now we have a much wider field in front of us. That is one of the principal reasons why more people should be allowed to make use of the land in this country. In the near future, a great deal of physical capital will have to be used on the land. I admit that up to ten years ago the production of beef was an economic proposition in this country. I admit that it paid. I admit that quite candidly, but conditions were rapidly changing. Investments made by England in the Argentine and other big cattle producing countries compelled them to give free entrance to the products of those countries, to our detriment. No matter what happened, whether you had an economic war or whether you had not, I believe that the farmers of this country would be, even at this stage, compelled to change their system and to change their outlook.

The Deputy who has just sat down, Deputy O'Reilly, seems to be a bit obsessed with imaginary monkey wrenches. He dealt with them in practically every sentence for the first ten minutes of his speech. I am afraid he became a little bit incoherent, but if one gathered anything of what he is driving at, one of his grievances was that apparently the imaginary monkey wrench and the existing land machinery had created around him ranches to which persons were brought in from other areas to the exclusion of certain landless men in his own constituency. I think I heard Deputy O'Reilly on that before, and of course it is hard to blame him. It is hard to blame Deputy O'Reilly for being against the system that has prevailed in this country and which apparently now is, to some extent at any rate, being departed from, that is the system by which there would be migration of big holders in the congested areas for the purpose of giving their land to the economic holders in the congested areas, and the bringing of those big men up into Meath, Kildare and so on, and giving them alternative holdings there. That apparently is Deputy O'Reilly's main grievance. He is naturally against the bringing in of those foreigners from Connemara, Mayo or Kerry. In other respects, Deputy O'Reilly is very satisfied with the Bill. He says that tenant right is not being interfered with, and indeed he is only following the lead of the Minister for Justice, who came out very strongly on that point. The Minister for Justice was stressing the speeches made on this side, and he referred to the bogey of fixity of tenure. Anybody reading the Bill—and I suggest to Deputy O'Reilly that he should read the Bill very carefully—will see that there is very definite interference with fixity of tenure. I suggest to Deputy O'Reilly that he should make a close study of Section 28, which gives absolute power to the Minister to take over any land, whether land that has already been purchased under the Land Purchase Acts or not, land bought by the tenant under the 1923, 1909, 1903 or any of the other Acts. Assuming that his land problem was settled for all time, he comes within the provisions of this Bill, if his opinion of farming does not coincide with the Minister's opinion of what good farming should be.

Deputy O'Reilly says that this is a Bill to give the right of living to those persons who have been deprived of it in the past. I suggest to him that it is taking away the right to make a living of many persons who, under the former Land Acts, have acquired their land for the purpose of making a living for themselves and for their families. I, unfortunately, was not here for the opening statement of the Minister, but I think he gave some explanation to the House to the effect that there will be a corollary Bill to this—a Land Bond Bill. I was wondering why there was no provision in this Bill for the creation of land bonds, because in all the Acts that have been passed by the Oireachtas so far there has been such a provision.

It was the first section of the three principal Acts, that is the 1923, the 1927 and the 1931 Land Acts, and it was provided for also in the 1929 Act. It is all the more strange that there is no such provision in this Bill. In fact, there should be a Land Bond Bill introduced into the House long ago. It is well known that there has been a hold up in dealing with certain cases because of the expiry of the British Guarantee last December. In reply to a question of mine on 22nd March last I was told: "It is intended to introduce at an early date the necessary legislative proposals to enable the creation of a new series of land bonds requisite for the completion of land purchase proceedings." One would have imagined that since that Bill was necessary even before this Bill was on the stocks at all or introduced that advantage would have been taken of the introduction of this Bill now to insert a clause dealing with the creation of land bonds.

I understand there was an arrangement to suspend this debate at 7.30. Is that correct?

Yes, the Deputy might move the adjournment of the debate.

Mr. Lynch

I beg to move the adjournment of the debate.

Debate adjourned accordingly.