Land Bill, 1933—Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

It is somewhat of a disadvantage not to have the interesting statement made by the Minister who introduced this Bill before us now when resuming the discussion. It would be of great advantage to us if we had it. The Minister's statement made, perhaps, an impression that perhaps was not intended, and if we had the text now before us it would be a decided advantage to us to see exactly the mind behind the Bill. The points emphasised by the Minister and the emphasis itself would, perhaps, be more eloquent than the text itself. In the very hurried notes that I took when the Minister was delivering his address on the Bill, I gathered that he stated amongst other things that for the acquisition and division of one million acres of land it would take about thirty years. If he is going to divide the lands I do not see how, if there is to be any regard for the rights of property, he can much reduce that period.

He also stated that it is one of the principles on which Fianna Fáil was founded to establish as many families as possible on the land. We shall see, in the course of discussions on this Bill and from the amplification of its general character and of its detailed character, whether the Minister's proposals are going the right way about establishing as many families as possible on the land. I rather think that it will clear as many enterprising families off the land as possible and will lead directly, if not immediately, to that communal State which we are fast approaching. The emphasis which is being put on contradictions to allegations of that kind is a signal proof that Ministers are conscious that their policy is leading directly and inevitably to Communism. That, we shall see, as we discuss this Bill.

The Minister gave figures for arrears to be funded. I believe he said that the amount in all would be about £4,500,000. If he has the figures available, I would like the Minister to give to the House such information as is very relevant and material to this discussion. I wonder has the Minister at hand figures that could be classified as arrears to be wiped out? Could he tell us what are the arrears that will be funded, exclusive of arrears for annuities that accumulated during the financial year 1932-33? Later on I will deal with those figures, and I will be glad if the Minister will assist the House with information of that type.

One would have thought that the way to approach land administration is from the point of view that it cannot be separated from agricultural administration. I think it was a pity that land and agriculture were ever separated. I cannot see the dividing line between land and agriculture, because the national policy worked in agriculture must control the national policy carried out with reference to land andvice versa. If you are going to run a land policy more or less in a water-tight compartment under the control of one Minister and run an agricultural policy more or less in a similar water-tight compartment under the control of another Minister, I do not think that that separation of immediate control over lands and agriculture will ultimately be the best thing for the country.

We have a policy in this Bill which aims at splitting up landad infinitum. There is no use in fixing the £2,000 farm as a limit. The important thing about fixing a limit on a farm is not the size at which that limit is fixed but rather the principle adopted. Whether you fix it at £10,000 or £100 you are adopting a principle which successive Governments need only shift up or down. It destroys the security that people heretofore felt in their farms. It also destroys the real estate value of land. It puts back the hands of the clock 50 years. The so-called owners of land to-day in this country are tenants at will, just as our grandfathers were 50 or 60 years ago. The land, as property to offer for security in order to help farmers over times of stress, is as valueless to-day as when our fathers and grandfathers were at the will of evicting landlords. After all, the landlord was human, but a Government Department is not, never has been, and never will be human. The farmer in the future will have to face the red tape of a Government Department if, through some causes over which he has no control, he is let in for strenuous times. But even the worst landlords had a human side, and they responded to a human touch. They could be approached in a human way, but Government Departments, never.

The section of the Ministry that is going to control land policy aims at splitting up the land into small farms and no occupier—you cannot call him an owner any longer—of these farms, big or small, can have that same sentimental regard for the farm that farmers generally have to-day. Everybody who was brought up in the country has heard farmers of this generation, the last generation and the preceding generation say: "This is the homestead where generations of our family were born and reared and we would not part with it for any money." That sentiment is now waived aside by a heartless Administration that seems to have no regard for, or no knowledge of, the sentimental attachment of the Irish farmer to his land. It was not the little value of the farms that was the motive power that put backbone into the people to fight the land war; it was the sentiment they had for the homes of their fathers and that sentiment is now being brushed aside by this Bill. I hope that this House will not think of passing the Bill, for this even if for no other reason. Taking purely a commercial view of it, we have the Minister for Agriculture pursuing a tillage policy based on very much increased corn production, and, perhaps, among the various cereals that could be produced in this country, banking on wheat.

I will not go into the purely agricultural side of it, beyond saying in passing what I have repeated in this House several times, that there is no strain of wheat in this country at the present time which would warrant any Minister for Agriculture going in for extensive wheat production. The Minister knows further, if he has consulted the best authorities on wheat in this country, that there is a positive danger in extensively cultivating the strains of wheat known at the present time, because a lot of those wheats are subject to diseases, and an extensive cultivation of them over wide areas might impregnate the wheat lands of this country with disease which would render them for a long time unfit for a better strain of wheat if we got or bred it. It is not so many years ago since I heard the substance of that statement which I have just made, in different language, emphasised by the best authority on corn production in this country. I hope that some time before the Dáil rises at the end of this session the Minister for Agriculture will controvert that statement if he can. We all know that the countries which predominate in the cultivation of corn at the present time——

On a point of order, surely the question of the growing of wheat has nothing to do with the Bill?

Neither the question of the growing of wheat nor the question of the diseases of wheat is relevant to this Bill.

I submit that the line of argument I took up on this point arises by way of contrasting the two policies which have been adopted here, and which are mutually antagonistic. If we are going to split up the land into small holdings we are going to provide holdings that cannot grow corn economically. Another Ministry has adopted a policy with the approval of the majority of this House, and in fact, forced the cultivation of corn on this country. Now the Government cannot blow hot and cold, and it is in that connection that I introduce this matter. I prefaced my remarks on agriculture by saying that I only referred to that matter in passing on to discuss the proposed land legislation. If I strayed at all, a Chinn Comhairle, I think you took the wise course in allowing me a little latitude, rather than this officious Deputy opposite who perhaps was not following the line of argument intelligently and was only waiting for an opportunity——

When a Deputy rises to a point of order, which he is quite justified in doing, his doing so should not be made an occasion for an attack on him.

I am not attacking the Deputy.

Again, on a point of order; a statement has been made by Ministers throughout the country that this Bill will provide an opportunity for taking land from people who, in the opinion of the Government, are not working it properly. It has been argued that the proper way to work certain lands is to grow a certain amount of wheat. I would submit, sir, that while the detailed question of the growing of wheat may not be entirely relevant to this Bill it is in order to refer to arguments which have been put forward in the country by Ministers. Ministers have definitely made statements in that regard.

The Chair has stated definitely that it is not in order to discuss the diseases of wheat on this Bill. That was done for three minutes. It was out of order.

The remark of Deputy Mulcahy recalls to my mind that the Minister in introducing this Bill said in effect that in regard to people who are not using their land in what he considered the proper manner it would be taken from them and given to people who would use it properly. I have enough to do to discuss this Bill without going in detail into the agricultural side, but I do submit that that statement of the Minister in introducing the Bill leaves a very wide gap for Deputies to go into in order to show the nonsense of the Minister's statement. The land policy that he reveals in this Bill is a sure and royal road to the diminution of tillage as prescribed by the Minister for Agriculture. Those notes which I took hurriedly when the Minister was making his statement I will leave in cold storage, and deal with the Bill as it is. I cannot very well go far out of order when I stick to the Bill. The first part of the Bill deals merely with definitions. The second part gives extraordinary powers to the Minister, and it would seem that those powers could be made very particular use of by—I will not say the Minister— an unscrupulous Minister. I am speaking entirely in the abstract when I say that. That section is more on the legal side, and we have plenty of lawyers on all sides here to delve into the legal ramifications of it, so I will pass on and leave them to juggle with the legal points.

I shall now pass to Part 3 of the Bill. There the things dealt with are mundane matters, and the citizen who does not understand these does not understand much, especially if he has to face the task of meeting them. Sub-section (1) says: "The following provisions shall have effect in relation to proceedings by the Land Commission for the recovery of arrears of any purchase annuity to which this section applies," etc., and paragraph (c) of that sub-section reads: "No such proceeding which was begun before and is pending in the passing of this Act shall be further prosecuted or proceeded with by the Land Commission after such passing"—I would like to have that explained—"unless a defence was filed or entered in such proceedings before such passing." Now if it stopped after the words "such passing" it would be intelligible, but when it proceeds "unless a defence was filed or entered in such proceedings before such passing" it needs some explanation. If proceedings were taken against the annuitant, and he had entered a defence why should that preclude him from the alleged advantage or disadvantage whichever you like, and why should such a man who stood up in his own defence be pilloried?

We remember a statement was made, before the Government thought there was any way out of this position, except to make the farmer pay his annuities up to the end of last year. A statement was made by a public man, the Leader of the Opposition in this House, to the effect, that during the continuance of the economic war there should be no annuities, or that there was no obligation on the farmers to pay these annuities. The Government organ immediately stated that that man should be put in jail. If my memory is correct many Ministers went round the country saying the same thing and numerous Fianna Fáil Deputies danced to that tune on various platforms. To give effect to their threats thousands of civil bills were issued, demanding of the farmers the payment not merely of half the annuities but the whole of the annuities. The right of the Government to collect this money, in the circumstances, was challenged. Defences were filed and in some cases I think decrees were obtained against the farmers. In some cases time was given by the justices. However the Government mentality was that the farmers should pay the whole of the annuities and where they had been proceeded against they should also pay the costs. Now, the Government want to show how considerate they have been with the farmers; they are going to forgive them half the annuities. The arrears of annuities are going to be funded and henceforth half the annuities are to be remitted. What great consideration, that! The Leader of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party was the first public man that proclaimed the need for that but the Government challenged it. But when the Government saw that the people of the country had made up their minds upon the matter then they made a virtue of necessity.

Now what does the latter phrase in paragraph (c), sub-section (1), mean It means nothing more or less than a display of vindictive spite so that the Government may get their own back on the farmers who faced the music and brought the Government to their knees. They are not going to give any consideration to those people who stood up in defence of their rights, and the rights of the other annuity-paying farmers in the country. They are not going to give these public-spirited and public-minded men the benefit that they are ready to give to other classes. That shows on the part of the Government that spirit of magnanimity that will follow an opponent and make a victim of him unto death, and that even after death will turn him over and roast him as well. No other case can be made out for these words. The time will come when we can go into this matter in more detail when the Bill is in Committee, if it ever gets that far. Then we come to sub-section (2), which reads: "As soon as may be after the passing of this Act the Land Commission shall ascertain the amount of arrears of every purchase annuity to which this section applies which were due and owing on the 15th day of July, 1933, and the amount of the costs and expenses (if any) incurred by the Land Commission before the passing of this Act in proceedings for the recovery of such arrears, and immediately upon such ascertainment..." If the Government could only see further than their noses, why did they not say 12 months ago what they say now? Why did they encourage these expenses which they are now going to fund, and make the farmers pay? Did they not know the position to which they were driving the agricultural community? Did they not know that the agricultural community, having paid the annuities twice over, could not afford to pay them the third time? They see it now that the expenses were incurred by the Land Commission, and they want the farmers to pay these expenses for which their own stupidity was responsible. They say in paragraph (a) of sub-section (2): "Where the amount so ascertained of such arrears does not exceed the aggregate amount of such purchase annuity payable during the three years ending on the first gale day in the year 1933, such arrears, together with the amounts so ascertained of the said costs and expenses shall (if not otherwise paid before the passing of this Act) be payable by means of a funding annuity, and (b) in every other case the amount so ascertained of the said costs and expenses, together with so much of such arrears as is equal to the said aggregate amount shall... be payable by means of a funding annuity and the residue of such arrears shall not be payable."

I wonder who gave the Minister authority, or what morality prompted him in the case where a debt due to another man and another authority is not paid, to remit that debt? The Minister knows, if he knows anything of local administration in connection with agriculture, that arrears of annuities are deducted under the agricultural grant, and he knows that those arrears which he is going to forgive are those due to the county councils. The county councils have paid these annuities to the Land Commission and there is not a bob due to the Land Commission of these arrears at the present moment, and the Government that promised the Land Commission that amount are not giving the county councils anything, but, on the contrary, are taking £500,000 off their agricultural grant while remitting these arrears. These arrears were paid, and then without having consulted the county councils to find out if they are satisfied, they forgive these arrears. That is the position roughly in regard to the arrears that have accrued in the last three years. The dates do not exactly coincide, but there is a difference of only three months. The arrears ensued up to three years ago, and it is for this purpose I am wanting the figure that completes the £4,500,000 that is going to be funded, and the arrears that are to be forgiven. I should like to have those figures segregated so that we would see exactly the monstrosity of the generous gesture, in inverted commas and with a very large note of interrogation behind that, when the Minister delivered his carefully prepared and typewritten address. Not only was the Minister not speaking at random, but he was giving the considered opinion not only of himself, but of his Cabinet, and the considered, calculated policy of the Ministry was disclosed in the address of the Minister. When you go back for a few years it amounts to this, that the Land Commission gathered the last halfpenny of the arrears from the farmers and what the individual farmer was not able to pay they made the county councils pay in rates, and those people who did not pay are now generously forgiven by the Minister. That is what the section means that deals with arrears remitted.

The next two years of arrears that have accrued and that are going to be funded have been paid also by the county councils through deductions in the agricultural grant during these two years. When they are funded and paid in the annuity that the Minister is spreading over 50 years at unjustifiable usurious interest, instead of that debt due to the county councils going back to the county councils it is going to go into the national Exchequer. The agricultural ratepayers have already paid it into the Exchequer, and it is due to them by the individuals who did not pay their annuities. The Government, presumably, are going to make political capital by showing their generosity with other people's money. They are going to have these funded and they are going to collar the swag.

Then as to the last year, that is going to be funded. Owing to the little holiday we had on Friday and Saturday, I was not in a position to check this in any county council, but I believe it has been stated by the Minister for Finance, and I certainly accept his word, that, regardless of arrears of annuities, last year the agricultural grant was paid in full. I think the Minister for Finance said that here, and I accept that statement. As to the other two years' arrears that are going to be funded, as far as the Government is concerned there are no arrears there—the county councils have paid them. For the last year, in which they paid the full agricultural grant, there are arrears to the Government, but purely from the Government's point of view, not from our point of view. In Land Commission book-keeping there are arrears there, but in Land Commission book-keeping there are no arrears for the previous years. According to county council book-keeping there are arrears, and these arrears are due to the county council out of this £4,500,000 that is going to be funded. It would be interesting to know, and I think this House has a right to know, how much of that £4,500,000 accrued in the two years of the period of three years that is going to be funded, and how much accrued last year. That is really the only sum that the Government, out of its own account, is going to fund; and it is going to charge 4½ per cent. interest on it, while the British Government can borrow money at 2 per cent. Even when high rates of interest were ruling in 1923, the finance of the Land Act of 1923 provided only for 4½ per cent. interest. To-day, when money on long term loan can be secured by the British Government at 2 per cent. our Government is going to fund arrears and charge 4½ per cent.

It is not by accident that the Government did not provide for the finance of this Bill in the Bill itself. It has been well thought out and not without reason. Of course, the rough and ready methods shown here the other night, when they were afraid that the skeletons would have appeared out of their cupboard, may be applied to this Bill, but if they are the country will understand.

Sub-section (3) states:—

The amount payable by the purchaser in respect of any instalment accruing after the first gale day in the year 1933 of any purchase annuity to which this section applies shall—

(a) in the case of a purchase annuity payable by an allottee in respect of a parcel of land purchased under the Irish Land (Provision for Sailors and Soldiers) Act, 1919, or under the Land Act, 1923, or any Act amending or extending that Act, be 45 per cent. and no more of the full amount of such instalment...

That provides for a 45 per cent. reduction. I candidly admit that I am not conversant with the provisions of that Act of 1919, but I understand from superficial knowledge that these people have a decided grievance. I hope the Government will not make the country shoulder any of the responsibility and liability properly attaching to the British Government under these Acts. Any agitation by ex-soldiers and sailors about this particular matter has not been directed against this Government, or the late Government but against the British Government who they allege did not carry out their contract.

The same procedure is followed to deal with interest in lieu of rent and land that will be acquired and resold to allottees and is set out in various sections. Substantially they are the same, with slight variations necessitated by the nature of the matter they are dealing with. The financial proposals throughout are the same in principle. The proposition is that there will be a reduction of 50 per cent. in the land annuities. The Minister did not tell the House how the Government arrived at 50 per cent. reduction. There is the absence—and the absence even of the atmosphere— of any settlement of this annuity trouble with England throughout this Bill. The Bill, throughout, has an air of challenging. We can only deduce from that that this Bill accepts the present position to continue and, by accepting the present position to continue, let us examine what 50 per cent. reduction in annuities means. Economic holdings and ability to pay annuities, advances made in land purchase from the beginning and inception of land purchase—all were anchored to and had relation to the capacity of the land to pay those commitments. What are the commitments now, and what does the alleged 50 per cent. reduction in the annuities mean?

We know that the trouble with England is not settled. One would imagine that ordinary business methods and business common sense would have suggested that, before any Bill of this nature was introduced, the Government would have staked their whole reputation on a settlement of the dispute with England or that they would confess their failure to do so. I can only argue against this Bill and these special provisions that the Government have failed and that this Bill is an acknowledgment of their failure. They are proceeding to deal with the situation that has arisen in the position of having failed. They throw out a sop to the farmer and they say: "Well, we are going to reduce your annuities 50 per cent." But what position does the farmer find himself in? He finds that he is paying the whole of the annuities through tariffs. No attempt has been made to contradict that. What right has the Government, then, to come along to collect any 50 per cent.? What right has it to fund any annuity for the last twelve months? If I may, for a moment, presume to speak for the farmers, and speaking as a pure matter of presumption on the question of whether or not the farmers have paid their annuities, is there a Minister there or a Deputy behind him who will contradict that statement or can contradict it? If you are going to fund a sum equivalent to the annuities for last year, it means not a relief to the farmer but an imposition on him to that amount. Ministers know that. It is not necessary for anybody here to have to labour it. They are all men of 21 years of age and upwards, of average intelligence, and they know the position on that side as well as we do on this side. If that statement is wrong, that the farmer has paid his annuity last year more than once—or, for the purpose of argument, we may just say that he has at least paid it once—is there a Minister on the opposite benches who will contradict it? Is there a Deputy opposite who can contradict it? What moral justification have you for funding the annuities for last year when the farmer has paid his annuity and it has gone to England? No; we get the stereotyped reply—we heard it oftener before the Dublin Municipal elections than we hear it now—namely: "We went to the country and the country returned us." But you did not go to the farmer; you did not go to the country and tell the country: "England will collect the annuities from you and we will make you pay them as well." Is not that what this Bill says? If it does not say it, I cannot read or understand the English language. I cannot understand the position that I not only see but that I feel.

It is sheer audacity for any Minister to propose the funding of one penny annuity for last year, because they have been paid twice over at least, and three or four times over; but we are only dealing with the principle of whether they have been paid or not. Let the Ministers contradict that or let them not contradict it. They propose now to fund these debts. The question of arrears has been admirably dealt with by Deputy Hogan here in the first speech delivered from these benches on this Land Bill, in which he pointed out that up to three years ago there were very few arrears, or not a great deal, but that the best farmers paid their annuities and there are always "scroungers" among the farmers who do not want to pay anybody. Not only are those "scroungers" getting off, but the good farmers have paid their annuities as well as their own and the Government comes along and says: "We will remit them." You are going to remit a debt due, not to you, but to the good farmers by the fellows who do not want to pay anybody. Are those the people you want to cater for? Are they the kind of people that are going to build a nation? The same applies for the first two years of those you are going to fund; but, of course, for the first two years I see no objection to the funding from the individual farmer's point of view, but I see the objection that that debt is due, not to you, but to the good farmer who has paid his own annuity and has had to pay the annuities of the defaulter in his rates. You are not entitled to them and the only title you have to them is the title the robber has to his loot. You have no other title to them and you can go on looting until you will be found out, and I think you are getting found out. Now, you propose to fund these at 4½ per cent. for fifty years. It would be interesting to know how this finance will work out. I suppose the Government are aware of the principle of land finance. Well, when they have shown such palpable ignorance in simple and obvious matters, it would not be surprising if they muddled finance. The theory of land finance from the beginning of land purchase was that a sinking fund was established which could be re-invested at the rate of interest at which the money was advanced and that would liquidate the debt in the term of years the annuity ran.

This Government will understand that under the 1903 Act the money was lent at 2¾ per cent. plus ½ per cent. Sinking Fund. In the 1923 Act the annuities were always made to approximate but the advance was lower, the interest was higher and the Sinking Fund was less. It was ¼ per cent. instead of ½ per cent. The reason of the less purchase money in the 1923 Act was dictated by the prevailing high rates of interest. I should like to ask the Ministers opposite if the principle they adopt here in financing these proposals is sound? If it is sound they must visualise some gilt-edged investment in which they can invest the Sinking Fund at 4½ per cent. for 50 years. I think there is not a man or woman in this country who has a £1 to invest who would not pay a good deal for the tip from any Minister. Instead of working the few pounds I have, I would be glad to know where a guaranteed rate of interest for the coming 50 years could be found to invest money at 4½ per cent. It is not to be found and the Ministry proposes land finance based on that principle. If it is not based on that principle well then the Government have departed from the practice and theory of land purchase and it will be illuminating to see what their principles are on land finance when they come to be disclosed.

They also propose to buy land and allot it to the allottees at half the price at which they buy it. That is really what it means. They also propose, if there is any tenanted land about or any farmers who have not purchased up to the present to buy such land at a certain standard price and resell it at half that price. Why do they not talk land purchase language and say "we are going to give the landlords and the landowners 50 per cent. of a bonus"? Is not that what it means? The 1903 Land Act first established the principle of bonus. There was a gap between the price at which the landlord would sell, and the figure the tenant was prepared to pay and Mr. Wyndham stepped in and said: "The Government will fill the gap." Our Government say there is a certain price for land and we mean to give the landowners that price and they then said to themselves—but took care not to let anybody else hear it because of the depression in land—"because of our policy there is depression and we cannot allot this land to allottees at only half the value or half the sum we gave the others for it." Of course the taxpayers will have to pay up the difference. That is the proposal. If it is justifiable to take land for the good of the country and buy it at the price and give it to landless men why should the State lose on the transaction? The value of land is what can be produced by it or what it can make. The whole thing here is a fiction. I am not going to argue too far on that line for fear I might be misunderstood to this extent that I was supporting the confiscation of other people's property, a thing which emphatically I am not doing.

If I had the mentality of the Minister who introduced this Bill it would be different. He certainly showed by his own personal demeanour when he emphasised strongly that this is the very minimum that the Government will accept, that his mentality was fixed; that rambling out on the road and just nodding that he would take this fellow's farm and the other fellow's farm and we will put on men on it and the question perhaps can be fixed afterwards. That is really in plain every-day language what the Minister meant by the statement he made. We are to buy this land for £100, and we are to allot it to some friend at £50, and the taxpayer will have to make up the other £50. If the land is only worth £50 to the man who is to get it, it can surely be worth no more than £50 to the man from whom it was taken. If it is worth £100, why should you give it under the market value? If £50 is the market value, why should you give the other man £100 for it and make the taxpayers pay up the difference? Of course, this is exactly like the whole finance of the Bill. Then we come to what is probably the star-turn of this Bill. I think it was Lord Barrymore who was responsible for New Tipperary, but he was only in the halfpenny place compared with the Minister and his colleagues. There will be many New Tipperarys if this Bill goes through. Even the evicting landlords had to take the defaulting tenants to court, but the Minister is not going to take them to court. Courts are only in the way of the Minister. Get the tenants by the back of the necks at once. Somebody can do it—the county registrar or the sheriff, or the hangman if you like—for the man who will do this will be of the class of hangman. I will not be surprised if the Government will not have to bring in from England sheriffs and registrars as they have to bring in the English hangman here to do a job for them. What is he going to get to do? The lists are to be sent out from the Land Commission to these people. These are lists of the defaulters, nothing more. They are to go and make seizures. Will they? Does the Minister know the history of this country? Do the representatives of Donegal in his own Party here not know that six or seven years ago when they started a campaign up there they branded their cows and horses long before they started the campaign and long before their animals were seized for the rates, or seized for annuities? Has this Donegal policy amongst the defaulters spread down south? The Minister is going the right way to spread it. Before 12 months, if this goes through, nobody will be asking the Minister to collect arms. There will be nobody as anxious to collect them as the Minister and his Government.

I have a faint recollection of the land war. Other members of my family went through it; they were evicted before I was born. We are now, apparently, going to have evicting landlords and tyrants a thousand degrees worse, and the Government claim that they have a mandate for it. I do not think that in Ireland any Government could get a mandate to deprive the farmers of their rightful heritage, certainly not by Wild West methods. The registrar gets his list from the Land Commission, the sheriff gets it, the hangman gets it. Out he goes to seize. What is going to happen? Has the Minister forgotten what we learned about ambushes? Sure, he is asking for it. He is going to turn the whole country into turmoil.

Many a man who is hard pressed, but who recognises that the debt is in equity due, will make an effort to pay if he is met with some consideration. When a man gets a solicitor's letter—we have all got them from time to time about annuities and various things—it is a very stern reminder that it is time to sit up and do something. I spent many years working in the collection department of the Land Commission. We used to send out what country people call solicitors' letters, but what were really in the form of a printed solicitor's letter and constituted a six days' notice. Those letters brought in a lot of money. At another period letters were sent out by the solicitor for the Land Commission and they brought in a certain amount of money. Those people who had not responded then got a civil bill and that civil bill, before hearing, brought in a good deal of money. Boiled down, it was the fellow who could not or did not want to pay, the chronic defaulter, who had to go to court. No man went to court if he could possibly get out of it unless he was a hardened individual and did not want to pay.

I am sure the Minister has not the advice of any man with experience in the Land Commission. Along with being an official in the Land Commission, I was on the other side of the fence and I got solicitors' letters and civil bills from them, but I never let one go to court. If the Minister sent out his sheriff to take some of my property away it is quite possible, even if I had the money, that I might not pay it. That game will not go down with the people. I cannot understand why such a thing was prompted. County councils, notwithstanding what the Minister might have said about them recently, are anxious to get in their rates just as the Land Commission is anxious to get in the annuities. The Land Commission have only to pass over the money, but the county councils have work to do with the money. The county council is more or less a board of directors of a concern. In the Land Commission it is a question of getting in the money if they can, but even if they do not get it in, the work does not suffer. In the case of the county council things are totally different.

I am not aware of any county council that tolerates rate collectors proceeding under their warrants to collect rates by seizure without first putting the matter through the courts. The county councils have great experience. I venture to say they have more experience of administration than the Executive Council. They know from experience that the better way to get in money is to take the ratepayers gently though firmly and, if necessary, put them through the process of law. Of course the Executive Council think they know everything. They have taken a new line of their own and, if I remember rightly, the Minister was very strong that this method should be applied. Is it that the Minister fears the obvious—that farmers are seeing more clearly every day, even the benighted farmers who voted for the Government, how they are being made to pay unnecessarily for the maintenance of the Government's foolish policy? If they spoke the truth, I am sure the farmers who adorn the Government back benches— the Government would not let them to the front for fear they would blow the gaff—will agree with every word I say.

Is it not dawning on the farmers that if the economic war is going to continue the farmer will have paid more than his contractual liability, under the land purchase agreement, for his land? He will in a very short while ask himself why he should pay this half-annuity. He will ultimately refuse to pay, and he will be justified in refusing. If the farmer does not refuse to pay, and the economic war continues, I will say he has not enough backbone to hold his land. People respect other classes just according to the respect paid to themselves, and if the farmers do not show manhood enough to stand up for themselves against this imposition of 50 per cent. they are too spineless to hold their land, and I say that with all sense of my responsibility. They are, under the system imposed on them by the Government opposite, paying their annuities twice over.

Let us analyse what the 50 per cent. means. There are to be no more bondholders paid; there are to be no more stockholders paid; England is collecting that by confiscating our goods when they are sent over. England is collecting the annuities by that means. What does this 50 per cent. annuity really mean? Boiled down to pounds shillings and pence, and looked at in its proper perspective, it is simply a new tax on land. It has lost all the character of a land purchase annuity. It is a tax on land. Land is paying to the British Government its full contractual liability. Any more it is asked to pay is only a tax, and nothing else. This 50 per cent. land annuity is not payable to liquidate any debt. There is no debt to be liquidated after England gets her piece out of the confiscation. She gets £5,000,000 by confiscating our goods. That is more than the annuities payable to England. Some Ministers say: "Well, she is not getting it all." At the moment I am arguing only the point that she is getting the full annuities, and that is sufficient for the argument. This Bill is going to impose not a 50 per cent. reduction on the land annuities, as it is put here, but is going to impose a tax on land equivalent to 50 per cent. of the annuity. President de Valera need no longer say that he has been misinterpreted. He need no longer trouble himself about trying to cover up his tracks, at which he is an adept. This Bill puts it on record, and beyond yea or nea, that the Government policy, as enshrined in this Bill, is to impose a tax on agricultural land to the extent of 50 per cent. of the old annuity, which is no longer payable in the form in which it has been payable but is payable in the form of the confiscation of the farmers' produce when it reaches the other side. I hope the Ministers, particularly the Minister in charge of this Bill, will realise that if it ever becomes an Act it will reduce the farmers of this country to the position of conacre men. Peasant proprietorship, the bulwark against Communism, will be removed if the land is handed over to a gentleman from Belfast—he is not a worse man for coming from there— born and bred in the city, without any land outlook or land mentality, or any knowledge or tradition of the sentimental value the Irish farmer has for his homestead, in short—a soulless townsman. There was never trouble in this country until then.

I never heard of such a thing as a soulless townsman.

The Deputy will hear a lot yet.

Mr. Kelly

I am sure I will.

And he heard a lot and he did not learn from it. We are going to have farms limited to £2,000 value. The market value of a farm fluctuates as the market value of anything else fluctuates, and how to standardise a farm at its market value is really beyond me; I cannot comprehend it. I know that the man who will escape now with the £2,000 farm would not have had the proverbial snowball's chance of escaping three or four years ago, because that farm would have been worth about £4,000 then. In a year hence under the benign administration of the present Government, if we will be cursed with them for another 12 months, you will get land for the proverbial song. I dare say there will be Deputies even on these benches then, like some of the Deputies on the opposite benches, who will not take land when they are offered it without even having to sing a song. Land will be worth nothing, so that even the ranchers whom Deputy Corry is so anxious to get after will escape, because there will not be a ranch in the country worth £2,000 in another year if those people remain in office. It is not the size which should concern this House. It is not whether a £2,000 farm is going to be a 50 acre farm or a 5,000 acre farm. What we are concerned with is the principle involved in the limitation of the size of a farm, and the principle involved in breaking the back of peasant proprietorship in this country and interfering with private property.

Of course it is argued that the people who have big farms, the people in the Eastern counties and part of the Midlands, are all only settlers. One speaker when visualising this Bill talked about allowing the people of the West to get back to the land of their fathers. I think in the East there are just as many Gaels, and as good Gaels, as there are in any part of Ireland. They certainly have not been behind in showing leadership, but I am not going to argue from that standpoint. Even assuming that the land of the East is held by settlers, the descendants of the Stuarts, Williamites and Cromwellians, I should like to ask Deputies why they go every year to pay homage at the shrine of Wolfe Tone, who was a descendant of a Cromwellian settler.

You cannot have it both ways. If what is styled settlers in this country are not entitled to equal treatment with what are styled the older settlers because the latter rest their claim on a longer settlement in the country, how are you going to solve the problem? These older settlers took the land from someone else and the newer settlers perhaps took it from them in turn and so on, as wave after wave of new settlers came into the country. If the Cromwellian or Stuart settler is not entitled to equal treatment with the earlier settlers in this country because they were Cromwellian, why do homage each year to the shrine of Wolfe Tone? It comes to this: that our friend, whoever he may be, is always right, no matter what his ancestry so long as he marched in step with us, but if he does not march in step with us he is always wrong, again, no matter what his ancestry.

Now with regard to the taking of the land from those who have it, there is a big principle involved in that. It is strange that what was a household word and glorified as the truest principle of patriotism 50 years ago, when Parnell, Davitt, Dillon, O'Brien and Bigger unfurled the banner of the Land League, and enshrined upon it the words "Peasant Proprietorship," is to-day to be completely scrapped. That is what this Bill is going to do. If there is one bulwark we have in this country against Communism it is peasant proprietorship. I see no reason for the removal of peasant proprietorship except to let in Communism. Nothing will keep it back if the barrier of peasant proprietorship is removed. Personally I am glad that representatives of nearly all the leaders of the land war are in this House and will be true to their traditions. They will vote and stand by the policy of their fathers in this country. When this whole matter is submitted to the country there can be no doubt I think as to the verdict that will be pronounced upon it.

I wonder if the Minister is trying to make a case for more production by division of the land. He spoke about taking it from people who are not using it to the best advantage and giving it to people who will. I suppose the Minister would say that a man who has 100 acres in grass would not be using it as well as the man who had 100 acres in crops. I had 100 acres in tillage this year and I could swear an affidavit I regret it was not growing weeds. I could show the Minister market notes for £3 a ton for early potatoes in the Dublin market last Saturday. We must till some; we must work our land and give employment. I gave employment; what did I get? Are farmers in the County Dublin to continue to till land under these circumstances? If that land was growing weeds we would have made £3 a ton on it; we would not have had to pay for labour, for manure, market charges, etc. Suppose we let it grow weeds, we would not have to pay the annuities which the Government has no right to because they are being collected in other ways. We would not have to pay rates that the Government, by mandamus order, is compelling us to pay, and we would not have to come in here and listen to the hypocritical talk about tilling land by people who never tilled a sod of land in their lives. If they did, from what I hear, their experience would have been worse than mine, who got only £3 a ton for potatoes. After all, while that is the condition of agriculture the Minister will concede, I am sure, that a farmer, whether he got his land by heritage or by purchase, who is making his living out of it, whose financial interest is in it, surely has a greater interest in the land than the man you would take off the roadside and gave a piece of land to, to till and work it. If the man already on the land with a fully-equipped farm cannot make it pay, I put it to the Minister, considering the prevailing prices of produce at the present time, to show how land can be made to pay even if there were no rates or annuities. Is this a time for the Minister to incur national expenditure in order to take land from the people who have it and give it, at national expense, to people who cannot possibly have the same interest in it as the people who have put their money and their labour in it already?

If the land which the farmers generally cannot make pay to-day is to be given over to landless men and planters whom the Minister proposes to put upon it, how are they going to make it pay? Is it not sticking out— and I note that the Deputy who raised a point of order when I was beginning my speech has disappeared—that the first thing to do with the land is to make it pay? Let the people in farming at the present time show a balance sheet with a credit, then you might perhaps propose that some of the land might be divided, split up and handed over to some people who deserve it. I am sure the Minister will not be able to get any member of his own Party to back him up in the statement that the land is paying in any circumstances at the present time. What is the use, therefore, in wasting public money in this matter and disorganising the whole land system? If the farmer as a peasant proprietor cannot make his land pay, then how do you think he will make it pay as a conacre man?

What objective has the Minister and his colleagues to turn the farmers into conacre men, if it is not to pave the way for Communism? Are you not right in the middle of it? What is the next step? When I say conacre men, I do not want it to be understood that I am casting any aspersion on any man who may be an allottee. If this Bill is passed, I will be a conacre man and so will every farmer in the country. He has no more fixity of tenure, no more freedom of sale than the conacre man, no matter what apparent property he has in the land. If he has 500 acres of land, and he is pressed for £100, once this Bill is passed no farm will be accepted for any accommodation by any bank, and if they did accept it they would not be fit to be bankers. This is the first time that the Government by their legislation have unmasked themselves and the sooner they raise the banner of Communism and disclose their identity the better. This is 100 per cent. Communism. No matter how they may talk here or elsewhere, they may make up their minds that the country is not going to stand idly by and see peasant proprietorship scrapped. The occupiers of land are not going to allow themselves to be legislated back to the position that our fathers and grandfathers were in 50 or 60 years ago.

The Deputy is aware, I presume, that there is a rule against persistent repetition. For the last ten minutes the Deputy has been repeating almost verbatim what he said an hour ago.

I said these things in a general way an hour ago and I am dealing with them in more detail now. I hope some Deputies opposite will take them up and contradict them when I am done, and then we will see on what side the laugh will be. I am dealing with them now in a more detailed way and in the natural sequence of what I have to say. Section 34 deals with certain classes of holdings that abut on the seashore or on the basins of rivers. I suppose a detailed interpretation of that would be more a matter for the Committee Stage than this Stage. It would be well for Deputies representing constituents to which that section would apply to see that it is made clear who will own the submerged or partially submerged piece of holding if the annuity is reduced only on the piece that is submerged. Many farmers had bitter experience of that in the past in relation to bottom land and rough grazing and bogs that they did not show as part of their holding as the astute landlord fenced it off and took it from them. I think we have as astute landlords now as ever our fathers had and as good a landlord mentality as ever the old landlords had. The question of turbary is raised here. It is not sufficiently amplified here to say much upon it and it is better left perhaps to the Committee Stage. It is astonishing that there is no provision made in this Bill for the finance of it. I do not think there is any Land Act that I have not read and that I am not fairly conversant with and all of them made financial provision——

The Deputy has dealt with that matter already. Moreover there is a Land Bond Bill coming before the House in the immediate future.

I am not aware of this fact, whether that Land Bond Bill is going to be dealt with as a Money Bill or a Bill that can be amended by the Seanad.

That is a matter for the Chair.

Yes, but until it comes to the point of the Chair deciding, I submit that a Deputy must feel curious about any departure from established principles in legislation.

The Deputy has been reminded that he is repeating himself. He has discussed that matter already. He has been informed that the manner of financing land purchase is not before the House. He has asked the Minister a question, and he is now repeating it verbatim.

Yes, but my point is that it should be before the House in this Bill.

If the Deputy persists in repetition, he will have to sit down.

According to the precedent of previous Acts, it was provided for. Now this finance has a very important bearing on the price given for the land. It is indicated in the Bill that the price will be paid in bonds. What are these bonds going to be worth? What is going to be the backing for them?

The Deputy will now resume his seat.

Am I to take it that I am stopped from discussing the Bill?

The Deputy has been stopped because he has persisted in repetition.

That is all I want.

The Deputy must be content with what the Chair wants. The Deputy was ordered to resume his seat because he was repeating his arguments for a second or third time.

I am not satisfied.

The Deputy knows that there is a method of testing the ruling of the Chair by an express motion, and not by mumbling orsotto voce expressions of disagreement.

I did not hear what the Chair said.

Not by mumbling or otherwise expressing dissatisfaction.

I do not mumble. Anything I have to say I say it.

This Bill has been sought to be justified on the ground that it is for the purpose of speeding up the operations of the Act of 1923. If the Bill was directed towards that end, and without any objectionable features, I would have great pleasure in supporting it, because the Act of 1923, we must all admit, has been working too slowly. However, this Bill is so objectionable in many features that I feel it my duty to oppose it. I am not going to go over the Bill at any length because it has been dealt with by others more competent than I am to discuss it; but as an ordinary individual without a legal mind I should like to refer to just a few of the salient points which appeared to me to be the most objectionable. In Sections 6 and 7 proposals are made that are sufficiently objectionable, if there were no others, to induce me to oppose the Bill as far as I can. Section 6 simply annuls every Land Act for the last 50 years. That section puts an individual —the Minister for Lands and Fisheries —above the law. Laws have been made here and elsewhere to deal with the administration of land and to give the occupiers and owners of land certain rights. The section to which I have referred takes away every right, so far as I can understand it, and puts it in the power of an individual, who happens for the time being to be the Minister for Lands and Fisheries, to take away all the rights which previous Acts have given to occupiers and owners of land, and puts it into the hands of the Minister to do as he pleases.

Section 6 puts the Minister, as I said, above the law. His will becomes the law as far as land in this country is concerned. Section 7 puts nominees of the Minister above the Minister. If I were to choose between the Minister and his nominees I would have no hesitation in bringing my case before the Minister. The appeal tribunal is made up of a majority of the nominees of the Minister and, therefore, I would have no hesitation, if I wanted a case decided, in going to the decentest man of the crowd, and I feel that that would be the Minister. What is the Minister that he should be above the law? We all know that a Minister is the product of a turn in the political wheel of fortune. We know that a Minister is not an angel, and, even if he were an angel, it is on record that the angels themselves have fallen. What happened once might happen again so that, after all, we have a great deal to be thankful for that the Minister is not an angel and that he is a mere human being, but human nature is also likely to fall, and if the just man, as we are told, falls seven times a day, how many times will a Minister fall? Some people might imagine that he would fall more often but certainly I do not agree with that. I think he would fall only once, because the weight of all the political clubs and other organisations around him would be such that he would never get a chance to rise again. That is my opinion about it.

A good deal has been said on both sides of the House about the Minister's intentions. I am not concerned with his intentions. We have been elected and sent here to enact, not the Minister's intentions, but the law for this State. I think we should confine ourselves to the Bill and not to the Minister's intentions. I have no desire to question the Minister's intentions; I believe they are all right. But why should we tempt the Minister by putting him in a position of being above the law? I believe that the law should be made as distinct and clear and put upon the Statute Book in as clear a form as it is possible for human ingenuity to do it, and that the persons appointed to administer the law should be people who are competent and who will not be influenced by any outside forces and will only be guided by the Act of Parliament they have before them. It should be their duty to administer that, and to that alone they should be confined.

There is another view which I should like to put to the Government Benches. The Fianna Fáil Government are not elected for all time. The next Government may be a Cumann na nGaedheal or Centre Party. They are putting machinery into the hands of these parties, when they come into power, to do to the Fianna Fáil Party as they might do to others. I am not saying that anything drastic is going to be done, but it has been said—and even the Minister for Agriculture threw out some hints—that something like that would be done. Then, when it is the turn of some other party to come into office and with the machinery put into their hands which they will have if this Act goes through, there would be retaliation and what would it all lead to? It would lead to another civil war, and I believe it is the duty of this country to avoid civil wars in the future. Whatever is done, it should be put into the Act in plain words and the Act should be administered by people who are impartial and who are not influenced by anything but the Act of Parliament before them. Part III of the Bill deals with the collection and funding of annuities. This matter has been discussed on many occasions here and it has been dealt with at great length so that there is hardly anything to be said about that, only that there is no justification in the present circumstances—I refer to the circumstances of the economic war —for the Minister to ask from this House powers to collect money that, admittedly, has been paid already to Great Britain. The only weakness in the case is that the farmers have not got receipts for their annuities. Nobody denies that they have paid them for the last year or two, and, so long as the economic war continues, they will continue paying the annuities, but simply because they have no receipts, although they have paid them, is that any justification to enact a law that would compel them to pay again?

I think it would be a very shady thing to do. I have a great objection to that section. If the economic war were settled the circumstances would be entirely different and I would have great pleasure in supporting a reduction in the annuities to meet the depressed time. But so long as we are in the midst of depression and that over and above the depression the farmers are actually paying the amount of their annuities, I think it is hardly fair, and it cannot be defended as just and reasonable, to bring in such a measure at this time. I think it should have been deferred until after the economic war had been settled. To pass this Bill would be a violation of all right principles, a violation of the Constitution and of Divine Justice. It is a breach of the Seventh Commandment to vote for a Bill providing for the payment of money a second time simply because the people who paid this money on the first occasion have not got their receipts.

Then we come to Section 27. That section gives very drastic powers to the Land Commission. It gives power to hand over to the sheriffs the right to seize for these moneys whether they are due or not. I think from what I have said with regard to the right of the collection of these moneys a second time that it is wise for the Minister not to go into court, because if you have not a case fit to go into court it is much better to take the power of enforcing payment rather than to go into court and expose a bad case. The justification that the Minister gives for this section is that it cuts short the lawyer's bill of costs—the costs which the lawyers impose on people owing anything in the way of annuities. I think if there is any force in that argument it disappears when we turn to Section 28 and see what Section 28 means. I have carefully studied Section 28. I racked my brains trying to find out what it means but I found I could make neither head nor tail of it. I decided it was a wise thing to consult somebody who was wiser than I. I did not go to a lawyer. I went to a man who, I consider, was competent to explain that section. He told me that it simply meant that any man who had over £2,000 worth of land could insist upon his right to retain £2,000 worth; but that any man or woman who had less than £2,000 worth could have that taken away from him, and could be sent anywhere the Commissioners liked.

I was not satisfied with that explanation and I said I did not see how any Minister could make such a proposal, especially how Fianna Fáil Ministers could single out a man with less than £2,000 worth of land for specially hard treatment of that kind. I went to another man and asked him for an explanation, and he said: "You got the exact truth as far as he told you, but he did not go far enough. The real explanation of that section is that they can go along and take all over £2,000 worth first, and come again and take the rest, so that a man or woman can be evicted out of their holding no matter how much or how little they hold. All the Land Acts passed in the past are now a dead letter." I thought that this man might be wrong in his opinion, and I decided to go to a still wiser man, the wisest man of the three, and I asked his opinion. I did not believe the opinion of the second man because I did not believe that the Fianna Fáil Government would bring in a Bill with a section so very drastic as that. I went to the third man and put the matter to him and he said: "Do you know what this section means?""No," said I, "and that is why I came to you." Then he replied: "This is a lawyer's section—do you know what that means?" and I said I did not. He said: "A lawyer's section is a section that each man can interpret as he pleases, that puts you into contact with a lawyer. You first go into a solicitor's office, and if your measurements are right you come out perhaps at the Supreme Court. Do you follow me?" he asked; and I said: "I follow you a part of the way.""How far?" he asked, and I said: "As far as the Supreme Court." I said I did not understand about the measurements, and I asked him: "Do you mean red tape or legal tape?" and he answered: "I prefer to call it fool's tape or foolscap because, whichever way you look at it, or whatever happens, when the fool goes into the lawyer's office to have a section like that explained his measure is taken, and if his mentality and his resources match, the gentleman inside will see that the foolscap will match them both, and he will see to it that the end of the fool's tape will coincide with the end of the fool's resources. Now do you understand it all right?" he said. I said I was still undecided and unsatisfied, because one of the things that Fianna Fáil told us was that they would not put any lawyer's section into a Bill. "Then," said he, "you believe still in Fianna Fáil?"; and I said I believed in some of them, not all, and his reply was: "I am very much afraid that you are so green that the Fianna Fáil geese will eat you." I decided on the advice of the third man that this was a dangerous section, and that between the Fianna Fáil geese and the lawyers, the farmers were in danger, and that it was my duty to oppose this Bill, if for no other section but Section 28. I have just dealt with a few salient points that appear to be most objectionable in the Bill. If only any one of these points were in it, I would feel it my duty to oppose it. With all these points I consider it a bad Bill for the farmers.

The fact that the Land Bond Bill has not seen the light of day yet makes it somewhat difficult to discuss some sections of this Bill intelligently. At the outset I might say we are dealing here in this measure not with one Bill but with two Bills, or perhaps I should say three Bills. The funding sections should be embodied in a Finance Bill and a few sections of the Bill might properly be embodied in a Land Bill. The Minister when introducing the Bill here—I am referring at the moment to the Land Bill, not to the finance portion of the measure—stated that it was introduced for the purpose of dividing up the land quickly. That is certainly very interesting information in view of the fact that the Minister has already at least 250,000 acres of land in varying stages of acquisition; that there are at least 100,000 acres of that land actually purchased, and according to information which the Minister supplied to myself in the last few weeks there are schemes already prepared in his own office for the distribution of at least 60,000 or 70,000 acres of land. Some of that land was actually paid for and some of it was actually bought before the Minister and his Party assumed the responsibility of office. Yet this land has remained undivided.

The Minister tells us that it is necessary to introduce a measure of this kind and get it passed rapidly through the Dáil in order to enable him to deal with the urgent problem of congestion. What has happened the 250,000 acres that are being dealt with by Land Commission officials? The greater part of that land was near the stage of completion before the Minister's Party assumed the responsibilities of office. The files relating to the land remain in the Land Commission offices and nobody in the country knows what is happening to them. Why has not the Minister divided the 60,000 acres for which schemes have been prepared? Some of the schemes were prepared by Land Commission inspectors before the Minister assumed the responsibility of office. These schemes still remain in the Land Commission offices and the lands are as yet undivided. Some of the land had actually been bought before Fianna Fáil got into power. It seems something of a joke now for the Minister to come with another Land Bill in which he asks for special powers to deal with what he calls the urgent problem of congestion, in view of the fact that files are in the Land Commission relating to 250,000 acres. Nothing has been done during the past 18 months with the land to which these files relate.

To deal with this land, even with the accelerated powers which the Minister seeks in this Bill, would take at least three or four years. I submit that it will take at least three or four years to dispose of this land. Why is it necessary to come here at the end of a session and ask Deputies to rush a revolutionary Bill of this character through the Dáil? There is no justification for it. There is no justification either for the Minister incorporating the funding sections in the Bill. These sections should be dealt with in a Finance Bill. This Bill should never have been brought in the form in which it has been introduced. The 250,000 acres, if divided, would provide economic holdings for approximately 9,000 people, allowing each person 30 acres. If these 9,000 people got such holdings it would somewhat relieve the problem with which the Minister is confronted. Does anybody imagine that by transferring power from the Land Commission to the Minister you are going to hasten the problem of land acquisition and distribution?

Anybody who knows the circumstances in this country intimately and has had experience of the Fianna Fáil Government and their peculiar technique during the last 12 months will realise that this transfer of power from the Land Commission to the Minister will not hasten the acquisition and distribution of land; on the contrary, it will retard that work considerably. In almost every part of the country Fianna Fáil clubs are active. They have prepared lists of holdings suitable for acquisition in every townland and, needless to say, every political opponent is marked down for destruction. The Minister will be bombarded by every Fianna Fáil club in the country, every Fianna Fáil Deputy in the House, every Fianna Fáil organiser and agent. When this Bill is law exactly the same thing will happen as happened during the last 12 months.

The Minister did not proceed with the distribution of land because he was afraid to do so. There was a demand made by the Fianna Fáil clubs that every scheme prepared by the previous Administration should be revised and reconstructed. Every Fianna Fáil Deputy brought pressure on the Minister to revise the schemes and get certain people whose names were included in the schemes removed from them. That has happened, and it is because of the fact that there was so much pressure put on the Minister that he was afraid to put these schemes into operation. He was afraid of the opposition he would meet from his own supporters and from the members of his own Party. We are asked here to give him powers which the Land Commission have hitherto exercised, admittedly fairly.

Section 6 is really the operative section, and it is interesting to notice, first of all, the excepted matters. You have, in the first place, the determination of the individuals from whom land is to be taken. It is significant that the word "individuals" is used there. The lay commissioners will have the right to select the persons from whom land is to be taken, but the Minister will have the right to say to the lay commissioners: "I want 20,000, 30,000 or 40,000 acres in a particular county." That inevitably will mean that the men even with the £5, £10 or £15 valuation will, in certain circumstances, be interfered with. Why has the Minister inserted the word "individuals" instead of the word "land"? Surely a fairer way would be "the determination of the land to be acquired in a particular district." That has always been a matter for the discretion of the Land Commission in the past, but the Minister, naturally, when he has that phrase inserted, is thinking politically. He knew perfectly well that by taking the power to himself of selecting the individuals from whom the land is to be taken he would incur a certain amount of political disfavour for himself and his Party, and, consequently, he threw the responsibility on to the lay commissioners.

The same thing applies to the people to be selected as the allottees. The Minister has thrown that responsibility on the lay commissioners because he wants to avoid the political odium that would attach to himself or his Party if they selected wrong individuals or if the selection gave rise to discontent amongst his supporters in the country or his Party in the Dáil. This definition of duties for the lay Commissioners has been arranged with a purely political aim. All this is being done for a political purpose, and the Minister has refrained from accepting these responsibilities and this power, although he has assumed every other power hitherto exercised by the Land Commission, together with a majority of the powers exercised by the Judicial Commissioner, because he was afraid that the exercise of that power would bring a great deal of political odium on himself and his Party.

The danger I foresee, so far as those excepted matters are concerned, is that the Minister has, as I said a moment ago, the power to say to his inspectors and lay commissioners: "I want so many acres of land in a particular county." He has the power to particularise. He can say: "I want 300 acres of land in a particular townland, and I want land of a certain quality in that townland." It may and probably will happen that the only individuals in that townland who will have the land of the particular quality he wants will not be political supporters of his, but will be supporters of the Party here. There is in this power, which is given to the lay commissioners but which the Minister will really exercise, an opportunity of discriminating, and discriminating in the most flagrant manner on Party and political lines. So much for the excepted matters.

In the following sub-section the Minister assumes the most extraordinary power. He has taken the power of life and death over every action of the Land Commission. In the past those functions which the Minister is now assuming in this sub-section were exercised by the Land Commission. I think everybody will admit that even though charges of delay were made against them from time to time they exercised those functions fairly, justly and equitably. I do not imagine that the Minister, when he asked his officials to insert this particular sub-section in the Bill, embodying all these extraordinary powers, was fully aware of the extent of the responsibilities which he was assuming. I imagine that if the Minister were really aware of the extent of that responsibility he certainly would have mellowed the draftsmanship of that section somewhat.

His justification, according to his opening statement, for the action he has taken in this particular sub-section is that the Land Commission must be brought into line with every other department of Government. Surely anybody who has any knowledge of this country at all must admit that the Land Commission is called upon to deal with a special problem, a problem which is unlike in every respect the problem which any other Department of Government has to deal with; that land, after all, is the biggest and most fundamental asset we have in this State; that it is on this asset the whole credit of the State is based; that every institution in this country is interested in that particular asset— the banks, educational institutions, and all branches of the courts that there are all sorts of highly intricate, legal and technical questions arising for determination as to the relationship between the land of this country and the courts, banks, commercial houses, and even the educational institutions in this country; that even in the relationships between landlord and tenant, in the relationship especially between the tenant and the State, all sorts of difficult legal and technical questions arise. Yet the Minister in this sub-section has taken to himself power to resolve all those highly legal and highly technical questions, questions involving experience in various directions, questions involving expert knowledge, questions involving expert training. The Minister, in his humility, has assumed in this section full power and full responsibility for dealing with all those matters, problems arising out of which it has taken a considerably long time for experts to solve in the past. Yet the Minister, a layman, subject to all kinds of political influence and pressure, has taken on himself almost complete responsibility for determining all those highly intricate matters, involving, as I say, the biggest asset of the State, on which the whole credit of the State is based, and involving as well the relationship with the banks, the courts, educational institutions, commercial institutions and every institution in this country. I think every Deputy who ponders on this question for a few moments will realise the nature of the problems which arise even in determining questions between owner and tenant. Those questions have given rise to considerable delay and considerable difficulty in the past. We have also the threefold question of the State, the owner, and the tenant. Very often those questions have given rise to very considerable delay.

At all events, the point I want to make is that all those questions involve a knowledge of the law, a knowledge very often of business, involve a certain training which the Minister had not had an opportunity of getting, and involve a certain amount of experience which is in the possession only of experts. Consequently, if those questions are to be determined fairly, if they are to be determined justly as between the interests concerned, they can only be determined by an absolutely independent tribunal, which will not be susceptible in any way to outside pressure or any kind of political influence whatever. I am quite prepared to give the Minister all the administrative power he wants. If he feels at the moment that he has not adequate administrative power, I am quite prepared to give it to him, but in regard to these very highly technical, highly legal and highly specialised questions which the Minister has taken power to deal with in this particular section, I am not prepared to give it to him, for the reason that I believe if it is given to him it will not be exercised in the way it has been exercised in the past. It will not be exercised fairly, justly and equitably as between the different interests involved. This question of the jurisdiction of the Land Commissioners was raised many years ago. As a matter of fact, the British authorities themselves, at one time, considered that the Land Commissioners had too much power and too much authority. Under the Act of 1903 the Estates Commissioners were brought directly under the control of the Lord Lieutenant. They were brought directly under outside control, and, naturally, being under outside control, they were susceptible as well to outside influence. After four years' experience of that control, the British were satisfied that it was neither healthy for the Land Commission nor healthy for the Land Commissioners that they should be subject to this sort of influence, with the result that under the Evicted Tenants Act, 1907, they restored the Land Commission and the Estate Commissioners to the position which they had from the first date they were constituted, that is, a status similar to county court judges, free to exercise their functions as only judges can exercise them, free from outside influence, free from any sort of contaminating influence whatever.

I want to draw the attention of the Dáil to paragraph (b), sub-section (3), where we are told that lay commissioners are to be appointed. That lay commission has certain defined and specified functions set out in sub-section (1) of Clause 6. It is set out in sub-section (2) that the lay commissioners "shall save in relation to excepted matters act under and in accordance with the directions whether general or particular of the Minister, and the Minister shall have, and may exercise in so far as he shall think proper full and unrestricted power of regulating and controlling every and any exercise or performance by the Land Commission or of the lay commissioners (as the case may be) or any such power or duty not relating to an excepted matter and also power of reserving to himself rights of approval and disapproval or of reconsideration, revision and confirmation of every or any act of the Land Commission or the lay commissioners not relating to an excepted matter."

Surely, no Minister could ask for more autocratic powers than are asked for in this Section. These powers place him, in effect, as dictator over the Land Commission. He is created a virtual dictator by the powers which he is seeking under this Bill. In regard to the Lay Commissioners there is not a single act of theirs whether it involves a question of law or is merely a question of fact which the Minister, according to this sub-section, cannot revise, reconsider or disapprove as the case may be, and even according to paragraph (b) of sub-section (3) which gives the Minister power to arrange, classify and allocate the duties of the Lay Commissioners he has power to influence the price of land and the selection of allottees.

This paragraph has a particular bearing on the functions of the Lay Commissioner. It says: "the Minister may, if in so far as he thinks proper arrange by reference to the class or classes of case or the county or counties in which the land concerned is situated the distribution among the lay commissioners of their work in relation to the excepted matters, but not so as to allocate any particular case or land to any particular lay commissioner." Now the Minister can appoint any particular lay commissioner he likes to any particular part of the country he likes, and he can appoint any particular duty to any particular lay commissioner. So that if the Minister wants to carry out a certain political job for the purpose of pacifying a friend he can select a particular lay commissioner, send him to that particular district, knowing well that that particular lay commissioner will act according to the very definite instructions he received before he leaves Dublin. This sub-section actually gives to the Minister the right certainly indirectly to control the distribution of land in this country.

Had not you the same power?

Now we come to Section 7, but before I pass from Section 6 I just want to make this comment. I do not know who drafted this Bill but whoever it was I cannot compliment the draughtsman on his work. It is a very badly drafted Bill and particularly bad in some of its parts. There are sections complementary and explanatory of each other which are not related at all. There are other sections very badly and loosely drafted, but I submit this section is vitiated in the sense that the Minister cannot assume these extraordinary powers he is seeking without repealing certain relevant sections in the Act of 1881 and without amending in certain respects and repealing certain sections of the Land Law (Ireland) Acts and subsequent Acts. I submit only then would this Section 6 be legally watertight; as it is worded at the moment and if it is not amended it will afford plenty of employment for lawyers in interpreting its real scope and intention.

Section 7 deals with the appeal tribunal. Sub-section (1) reads: "On and after the appointed day the judicial commissioner and any two of the officers of the Land Commission for the time being nominated by the Minister under this Part of this Act to exercise and perform jurisdictions, powers and duties on his behalf shall constitute a tribunal, to be known and in this Act referred to as the appeal tribunal, to hear and determine all such applications, matters and things as are by this Act or shall hereafter be authorised to be brought before it," and sub-section (2) provides: "The Judicial Commissioner shall preside at every sitting of the Appeal Court." It is interesting to note, in this connection, that the judicial commissioner has been shorn of every one of his functions except on matters arising in connection with title and the disposal of the purchase money of estates. He cannot decide, even on questions of law, because when there comes before him in any particular case a question of law he cannot decide it unless he receives the support of one of the lay commissioners on the tribunal. In other words, he might have two lay commissioners sitting with him without any knowledge of law, yet if a question of law arises in a Land Commission case, and either of them says he does not think it is a question of law, the judicial commissioner cannot say that it is a question of law unless he gets the approval of one or other of the lay commissioners not trained in the law.

Deputies will recognise that land law is not like the ordinary law. The land court is one of exceedingly difficult practice. It is a court highly developed through years of experience, and even ordinary lawyers in the country cannot easily interpret the land code. Nobody but a most accurate lawyer, trained in that particular code, can elucidate its intricate details, yet here we have the extraordinary proposal to put men on the tribunal without any knowledge of law. If the judicial commissioner who is accustomed to handling these questions when a matter of that kind comes before him says it is a question of law, the views of the lay members of the tribunal may prevail against him. It is simply a joke. I do not suppose in any other country a member of the High Court would be placed in such a ridiculous position.

Turning now to sub-section (4) of Section 7, we find "No officer of the Land Commission shall sit or act as a member of the Appeal Tribunal to the determination of any question relating to an order or thing in the making or doing of which he took part or was concerned." That is rather an intriguing sub-section. On reading it at first, I began to wonder how many lay commissioners it was contemplated to appoint. According to the wording of the section, no Land Commissioner shall sit on a case with which he was in any way associated. Unless the administration of the Land Commission has been radically and fundamentally changed since I was there, there is scarcely a single Land Commissioner who is not brought into contact with a majority of the cases passing through that office. But yet because he is associated with the case in any way whatever he is not allowed to act as a member of the appeal tribunal. The obvious inference is that for everyone of these cases they are going to bring in outsiders. There will be special lay commissioners appointed at a high fee. Lawyers can hold their heads high in future, because they see here an opportunity of really high rewards in the administration of this Bill. The obvious interpretation seems to be that two outsiders will be brought in to preside with the judicial commissioner in order to deal with, probably, a simple case, and a Land Commissioner will not be allowed to be associated with the tribunal because, probably, he will have signed a simple note or some paper relating to the case. Surely the thing is farcical.

I pass over the funding sections for the moment, and I come to Section 27. The Minister referred to the inclusion of this section in the Bill with a certain air of triumph. One would imagine that he was the author of it himself. He tried to convey to the Dáil, in his reference to it in his introductory statement, that it was the last word in achievement for the tenant farmers. I want to remind the Minister that four years ago this particular proposal was under consideration in the Land Commission, and I turned it down. Again, it was submitted to me for approval before the Act of 1931 was introduced, and again I turned it down. I was advised, for one thing, that it was unconstitutional, but I turned it down primarily because I considered it was a most inhuman clause to insert in any Land Act. The Minister seems to think that this clause is going to lessen the costs on the unfortunate defaulter. I do not believe that for a moment. This question was investigated exhaustively by the Committee set up to examine the working of the Courts of Justice Act. There were some very clever lawyers on that Committee, including certain legal members of the Minister's own Party. The case, as I say, was examined exhaustively and, in the end, they turned it down in fact, because their recommendation was somewhat to this effect, that the Minister should take some steps for the purpose of reducing the costs to unfortunate defaulters in respect of Land Commission decrees.

It was the lawyers turned it down.

That proposal was turned down by the expert Committee set up to investigate the working of the Courts of Justice Act. It was also turned down several times in the Land Commission. Now the Minister comes along with an air of triumph thinking he has discovered something new to insert in this Bill. I do not believe that this section will reduce the expenses of the unfortunate defaulter in any way whatsoever. I am inclined to think, on the other hand, that it may have the effect of increasing the expenses. This is a terribly drastic power to give to any official in any Department of the Government. Somewhat similar powers have been given under previous Acts, but so far no official of any Government Department has been given such drastic power as the Minister proposes to give to the Secretary of the Land Commission, I presume, under this particular section. What are the circumstances at present? It is admitted that the fact of a case being heard in court will mean a certain amount of costs and there is no doubt about that. But there is one thing—the court in any event can give time to the unfortunate defaulter. The county registrar or the sheriff has no power whatever to give time to him. How will this section work out in actual practice? I do not believe for a moment that the defaulter will be in a position to pay and he will run the risk of a seizure with perfect equanimity. However, assuming that he has anything to sell by the time this section is in operation, what will he do? Rather than run the risk of the execution of this warrant, he will take a beast or a pig or a sheep to the fair and sell it— at what? Probably one-third of its value, in order to realise sufficient money to cover the amount of the warrant. Will that unfortunate defaulter not lose much more by that transaction than if he had to meet the costs of the decree granted by the court?

The State solicitors in the past made matters very easy for the defaulters. They knew the local circumstances intimately and the capacity of the majority of the defaulters to meet their liabilities, and they accepted payments from them on the instalment system, they accepted whatever amount they were in a position to pay. The system worked out quite admirably and, so far as I am aware, it was quite satisfactory even from the Land Commission point of view. But the State solicitors are to be wiped out. The sheriffs and the county registrars are to be given complete control. They are to rush out the moment they get the warrant and seize whatever stock they can find on the holding if the defaulter is not in a position to meet the claim; and then, having left him penniless and, probably, hopeless and helpless, they will report back to the Minister that they have realised the amount of the warrant. Surely the tenant farmers of the country expect something better than that from a Christian social Government with pretensions to such a high ethical tone in matters of legislation and in matters of morals as well?

Cannot every rate collector do that at present?

He does not do it and the Deputy knows that well. He never does it. He goes to the court in every case. In any event, the county registrars and sheriffs will tell you that it is quite impossible to levy decrees at present. If they did attempt to levy them, it is impossible to realise anything on them. Quite recently in a certain county a sheriff went to levy some hundreds of decrees and after a whole week came back with £17.

He was lucky.

And this is the time selected by the Minister to introduce a drastic proposal of this kind! I shall deal with Section 28 very briefly as it has been dealt with rather exhaustively by previous speakers. Deputy McGovern retailed some of his experiences with advisers as to the meaning and interpretation of this section. I happened to discuss it with a friend of mine down in the country on Sunday and I asked him what he thought of its meaning. He studied it for some time and then said, "It appears to me that it is a land-grabbing-made-easy section."

This section is undoubtedly the most dangerous section in the Bill. It does destroy the security which the farmer enjoys in his land at present. After all, in interpreting this section you have to relate it to Section 31. The Minister in this section is taking the widest possible power for the purpose of enabling him to deal with this problem of congestion. At the very outside I should like to know from the Minister if he has formed any estimate as to what the cost will be to the State of the operation of this section and the following sections relating to the relief of congestion in this country. We have no Land Bond Bill to guide us and there is no financial section in this Bill to give us any indication of what is going to be the amount involved in the issue of Land Bonds, the rate of interest or anything else. I hope that the Minister, in his reply, will give us some indication as to what amount of money is involved in these sections relating to the problem of congestion.

This section repeals every safeguarding sub-section in the parent Act of 1923. Sub-section (4) of Section 24 of the Land Act of 1923 is repealed, and "in lieu thereof it is hereby enacted that where the Land Commission declare that any land (in this section referred to as the declared land) coming within clause (a) of sub-section (2) of the said section 24 is required for the purpose of relieving congestion, the Land Commission shall, if within the prescribed time and in the prescribed manner the proprietor or tenant of the declared land requires them so to do, provide such proprietor or tenant as soon as practicable with a new holding which the lay commissioners (subject to a right of appeal to the Appeal Tribunal, whose decision shall be final) consider to be of not less market value than the declared land." I observe that the Minister has departed widely from the parent Act. The Minister says: "Of not less than the market value." In the original Act it says that the holding "shall be equally suitable and of not less value than the declared land." The Minister merely says that the land shall not be of less value than the market value of the declared land. What is market value at the present time? There is no market value for land in many parts of this country to-day, and if the Minister does provide one of these migrants with a holding in some district where there is no such market value for land, on what basis will he compute the value? Will he go back to what is called Land Commission value, which is mentioned in the Act of 1923, and in every subsequent Act? Market value is a very variable thing to-day and, as I say, it does not exist in many parts of the country. I think it was an unfortunate expression to introduce into this section of the Bill.

Under this section every registered holding on which there is not a residence can be acquired by the Minister for the purpose of dealing with this problem of congestion. Every single holding on which there is not a residence can be acquired by the Minister no matter what is the size of the holding, no matter what its area is or no matter what are the peculiar circumstances relating to it. There are many small farmers in the West of Ireland who, perhaps, live on a registered holding of, let us say, three Irish acres and who have two or possibly three other holdings for which they hold separate receivable orders. Under this section of the Bill the Minister, according to my interpretation of it, can acquire these holdings although the total area of the four holdings may not amount to 25 or 30 acres. According to this section of the Bill three of these holdings are not residential and can be acquired by the Minister.

Could not the Minister have acquired them under the 1923 Act?

Not at all.

The Attorney-General

The Deputy cannot have read the Act.

Let the Attorney-General quote me what section of the Act. Again, take the case of a small country publican whose premises, let us say, are built on a holding of two or three Irish acres. He may have two outside holdings, non-residential, but equally small in area. Under this section of the Bill the Minister can acquire these holdings for the purpose of relieving congestion. He can acquire every unoccupied holding in any part of the country. Every western Deputy knows that many farmers have three or four small holdings for which there are three or four receivable orders, and yet the Minister can acquire them even though the area of the total holdings may not amount to ten acres of land. That is an extraordinary power, and yet the Minister for Justice waxed indignant the other day because Deputy Dillon said that the Bill interfered with fixity of tenure. Surely there is nothing that interferes more with the security the tenant farmer enjoys at the moment than this power of the Minister.

Unless what you did in the 1923 Act.

We heard a great deal in the past about the three F's but certainly this section completely removes two of the three F's, and I am not so sure but that the funding section removes the third F as well.

If you had all those powers what do you want them again for?

A Deputy

The Parliamentary Secretary says he has not the powers.

We come now to the clause which says: "that he or his wife must reside on the declared land and that he or she uses such land in the same manner as an ordinary farmer in accordance with proper methods of husbandry." Will the interpretation of the phrase "proper methods of husbandry" be accepted as a fact or is the Minister, by virtue of the new and extraordinary powers he is seeking under this Bill, going to put a new interpretation on it? Will the new interpretation of it be that every farmer must grow a certain area of wheat, be it large or small—the Minister for Agriculture may vary it slightly and introduce something else for the sake of making it novel—but in any event is it to be accepted as a question of fact or is it to be a matter for the Minister to determine what are proper methods of husbandry? If the Minister proposes to set aside the interpretation given by the Land Commission in dealing with such matters in the past then we should have that new interpretation embodied in the Bill.

There is another matter which I consider of importance. The Minister, having taken all these outlying small holdings and utilised them for the relief of congestion need not give the owner its equivalent immediately. The section says that he shall give it "as soon as practicable." What exactly does that mean? I admit that these words are in the Act of 1923, but no tenant was ever removed out of a holding under the 1923 Act until the other holding was ready for his occupation. The Minister has told us that he is most anxious to speed up the acquisition of land for the purpose of relieving congestion. Does "as soon as practicable" get the same interpretation as these words have got in the past or will the unfortunate tenant have to wait until such time as it pleases the Minister to provide him with a new holding and, if he has to wait until such time, how is he going to exist in the meantime? He is deprived of his holding. He is deprived of his money and has not got a new holding. How will he exist in the meantime? Is he to apply to the board of health for home assistance? Will the Minister suggest he ought to go on the dole?

I will tell you about it in a minute.

This section raises a very interesting point. It says here that nobody can hold more land than £2,000 worth in value. We will assume that a man who has a holding of land value for £2,000 realises an income of £100 a year from that land. After all, I think he would be a very fortunate farmer under the present circumstances who could realise an income of £100 a year out of such a farm. Are we then to take it as the declared policy of the Government that no farmer is to hold a farm that will yield him more than £100 a year? Are we to assume that the possessor of any farm is not to have an income of more than £100 a year? That in effect is what this Bill states. It seems extraordinary on the face of it. I now pass on to Section 29, and I only wish to raise one point in connection with it. Is the annuity to start from the appointed day or from the day on which the price of the land is finally determined? Section 31 is complementary to Section 28, because it gives the Minister extraordinary powers. We will have an opportunity of dealing with that more exhaustively on the Committee Stage.

There is just Section 43 to which I wish to refer. That section relates to the acquisition of bogs. I was always under the impression that bogs could only be acquired by the Land Commission for the purpose of providing turbary for the convenience of their own tenants. Here we have a section introduced for the purpose of enabling the Minister for Industry and Commerce to acquire bogs for the purpose of carrying out certain experiments under this Department. It appears to me that such a section should never be incorporated in a Land Bill, because the purpose for which this section is to be used goes completely outside the land code altogether. If the Minister wants to acquire a bog in any part of this country, he should be prepared to pay the owner of the bog a commercial price for it and not be empowered to obtain that bog at Land Commission value.

This appears to me to be purely a commercial matter and has no relation whatever to the ordinary purposes of a Land Bill and consequently should not be incorporated in this Bill at all. It appears to me that if the Minister wants to take a bog in any part of the country he should acquire it by some other means and not through the medium of a Land Bill. In conclusion I want to say that this Land Bill throws the whole land code into the melting pot again. This Bill on the face of it bears evidence of the fact that it is only the first instalment of Fianna Fáil land legislation. If we are to take this as a sample. I think Deputies can quite easily visualise what the future instalments will be like. In my opinion this is a most dangerous Bill. It will do incalculable harm in the country and will do more to bring the Fianna Fáil Party into disrepute than any other Bill they have introduced here.

The Attorney-General

I am surprised the Deputy who has just spoken has joined in what seems to me a campaign due to a complete lack of appreciation of the provision of land legislation as it existed up to this, or that it is a deliberate determination to run a political ramp on this Bill. Deputy Hogan opened the attack. He charged us with introducing a Bill which was solely a political measure designed to benefit our political friends. Deputy Hogan, I think, must himself appreciate more than anybody else the difficulty of introducing satisfactory legislation to deal with the land problem in this country. I consider that his speech which was delivered on this Bill—the opening speech of the Opposition—was from the very beginning to the end a dishonest speech. Deputy Hogan himself was responsible for the Land Act of 1923. Deputy Roddy administered the Land Act during the years which preceded the handing over of the reins of office to this Government, and he ought to know perfectly well the problems with the proper solution of which those concerned with the Department of Lands and Fisheries have been faced, problems some of which remain undealt with in earlier legislation and some of which grew out of the 1923 Act itself.

I do not think Deputy Hogan went to the same lengths as the ex-Parliamentary Secretary for Lands and Fisheries. He joined in the ramp started by the Farmers' Party on this question of security of tenure. He referred again to the three F's and the suggestion that this Bill according to its critics is now endangering something which has remained fixed and permanent up to the present. I think the Deputy who went farthest along that line was Deputy Dillon. Some time ago I heard that when Deputy Dillon fought his first election campaign in Donegal in 1932 he fought it on the Home Rule Act of 1913. Apparently he is going to try to run his next election on the Land Act of 1881. Deputy Dillon in the course of his speech called upon me several times to explain this, that and the other point in the Bill. As second in command, or perhaps I should say as one of the twin leaders of the Centre Party, I think Deputy Dillon owes it to the House that he should have made himself more familiar with land legislation before he delivered his philippic in this House. The Farmers' Party always prided themselves on the fact that they do not indulge in the irresponsible criticism that we so often hear from our friends opposite without considering its effect upon the general community. I submit that it is a very serious thing for a Deputy in the position of Deputy Dillon to indulge in an attack which can only have been based either on failure to understand the provisions of the legislation which has gone before this Bill or with the deliberate intention of ignoring them and engaging in the general policy of panic-mongering which was started by Deputy Hogan. If Deputy Dillon and the last Deputy who spoke had made themselves familiar with the history of land legislation in this country they would have known quite well that the three F's as such were buried fathoms deep under Section 24 of the Land Act of 1923.

They were not.

The Attorney-General

If the Deputy still persists in saying that, I can only say that it is my opinion and he can familiarise himself with the provisions of the Land Act through others who are familiar with those provisions, if he doubts what I say.

What is to become of the phrase "shall be equally suitable for the said proprietor"?

The Attorney-General

That is another hare. We will deal with that here later on.

Chase it now.

The Attorney-General

I am not going to leave the particular hare I am following at the moment. The three Fs, fixity of tenure, free sale, and fair rent were, of course, the creation of the 1881 Act. Much water has flowed under the bridges since then; many Acts have been passed, and if Deputy Dillon wants a slight sketch of the history of land legislation and the revolution effected by Section 24 of the 1923 Act he will get it in Deputy Roddy's speech when introducing the Land Act of 1931. It hardly needs statement, I think, that the protection given by the 1881 Act to tenanted land disappeared under Section 24 of the 1923 Act. Anybody who happened to be a tenant at that time came under the jurisdiction of the Land Commission and his land could be acquired without any obligation to provide him with an alternative holding. Does the Deputy challenge that statement?

Yes, I do challenge it.

The Attorney-General

If that is so, where was the fixity of tenure? I will refer Deputy Dillon to discussions on the Bill. If he cares to trace the course of that Bill, as I have done, through the two Houses, he will find that Deputy Hogan refused point blank to give any consideration to a proposal that a tenant of land should be given an alternative holding and he confined any protection which he gave to the owner of a registered holding, a purchased holder.

Which was secured—that is exactly what I referred to.

The Attorney-General

Then I was under the delusion that Deputy Dillon understood the words he was using.

The people of this country will understand them.

The Attorney-General

I am offering all this as a serious criticism of what the Deputy said. I do think it is a shame that a campaign should be started suggesting that we are doing something radical and revolutionary and that people should be mis-describing what is being done by this Bill, altogether overlooking the fact that what we are doing is bringing to its logical conclusion the work started under previous Land Acts and brought to a stage, under the 1923 Act, which it previously had not reached.

Does the Attorney-General deny that under the terms of this Bill every tenant farmer, whether he holds five or 500 acres is liable to have his holding taken from him and an offer made to him of land of equal market value wherever the Minister for Lands or the lay commissioner chooses to offer it to him?

The Attorney-General

It seems to me the Deputy will have to clear his mind or else have to be clear as to the correct use of words. He asks me whether a tenant of land——

I said a tenant farmer, a man who bought his land under the Land Purchase Acts between 1885 and 1923.

The Attorney-General

A purchasing tenant.

Yes, commonly called, in this country, a tenant farmer.

In the Bill before the House a purchasing tenant, if he works his land in a workmanlike manner—I intended to deal with the wording of the section which has been commented upon by the last speaker. That very wording is taken from Section 44 of the Land Act of 1931.

You will get it earlier. Get the Land Act of 1927, Section 11.

The Attorney-General

I thank the Deputy. The interruptions and the laughter from the Opposition Benches are shown to be very much out of place or, shall we say, premature. As regards the Land Act of 1923—

The Attorney-General did not complete his sentence. He said the tenant farmer, if he worked his land in a proper, businesslike manner... What then?

The Attorney-General

If his land is under £2,000 in value he is entitled to a holding of equal value elsewhere.

Elsewhere!

The Attorney-General

Under the 1923 Act where was he to get it but elsewhere?

Dr. Ryan

He could not have it in the same place.

He was to get land where it would be "equally suitable for the said proprietor".

But it was elsewhere all the same.

"Equally suitable for the said proprietor"—what is to become of those words?

The Attorney-General

The Deputy misunderstands me. He thinks I am not going to admit, but I do admit, that the section in this Bill is a considerable advance upon that.

Hear, hear!

The Attorney-General

The very point which the Deputy has made, is, I am informed, one of the very reasons why the purpose which Deputy Hogan told the Dáil and Seanad in 1923 that he had in mind has failed of attainment. Deputy Hogan told the Dáil and Seanad that the purpose of the Land Act was then to provide land for 100,000 congests and after that, to deal with evicted tenants and, subsequently, landless men. I do not know whether I have taken too much on myself if I tell the House that that is the purpose of this Bill. I have the report of the discussion in the Seanad here.

Read it out for us; it is very interesting.

The Attorney-General

I will leave that to the Deputy. Apparently there is something interesting in it from his point of view. I will refer to a portion of it later and, perhaps, a good deal more when we come to the Committee Stage. A great deal of this discussion is appropriate to the Committee Stage.

The Attorney-General will read it when he has time to think it over.

The Attorney-General

Deputy Hogan told the Seanad that he intended to deal radically once and for all with congestion and there were 100,000 congests. I make bold to say that not a tithe of the 100,000 congests have been dealt with since the Bill was passed, and the phrase upon which the Deputy laid his finger has to be got rid of, and I am sure Deputy Roddy will admit it will have to be got rid of, in order to enable the object of the Bill to be carried through. That is why that particular amendment comes in. This Bill in a sense goes very little further than the Act of 1923. In principle the objects which are sought to be attained are the same; the principles underlying the Bill are substantially the same. The same inspiration is there to deal with the problem of congestion first, to deal with the evicted tenants second, and the landless men third.

Would the Attorney-General say under what section the evicted tenants are covered?

The Attorney-General

Evicted tenants are described by Deputy Hogan as landless men. I repeat again that criticism of this Bill on the grounds that it is an attack on security of tenure is unjustified. The powers which are being taken here are being taken because the efforts of the Government to deal with land distribution and with the establishment of peasant proprietorship on the land have failed of attainment because of certain restrictions of the legislation as it now stands. If Deputies will look at the 1923 Seanad Debates they will see that practically word for word the same criticisms are levelled against this Bill as were then levelled against Deputy Hogan and his Bill. In the Seanad he had to meet the criticisms of Sir John Keane and Senator Bagwell. He was told that the security of the small tenants had disappeared. At that time it was the Seanad who were so interested in the small tenants——

Do not forget Colonel Moore, the Fianna Fáil Senator.

The Attorney-General

Apparently Deputy Hogan did not listen to Colonel Moore any more than to any of the others. In 1923 Deputy Hogan had to deal with the suggestion that the Bill created general insecurity. He says in column 1777 of the Seanad Debates "Senators are quite sure that the provisions in the Bill are going to lead to general insecurity. You can be far more certain that you cannot deal with congestion, and that you are only playing with congestion if you do not give the Land Commission power to take purchased holdings in certain cases."

Yes, "in certain cases".

We are only taking them in certain cases also. We are extending the number of cases I quite admit. Deputy Hogan goes on to say: "The Government realise fully the seriousness of re-opening the operations completed under the 1903 and 1909 Acts. We know it is a serious thing for the State to give a holding, and then to come afterwards and take it back. That can only be justified by very serious reasons, and should only be given to the Land Commission under very definite safeguards."

Deputies

Hear, hear!

The Attorney-General

We are giving the safeguards which we consider adequate, and which will allow us to carry out the work which Deputy Hogan laid before himself and failed to carry out. "To meet the case of the general insecurity"— Deputy Hogan was forced to deal with the suggestion of general insecurity—"the case put up that small purchased tenants all over the country are at present trembling in their shoes for fear we are going to take their holdings, I had thought of putting in some maximum". That is the very same case which is being put up to-day, that the small tenants are trembling in their shoes for fear we are going to take their holdings. "There are 13,000,000 acres of land purchased out of a total acreage of 20,000,000, including towns, waterways, bogs, etc., and I should say that nearly 75 per cent. of that area represents holdings under £25 valuation. Does anybody suggest that any of these tenant purchasers of £20 or thereabouts valuation are really trembling about this Bill and the prospect of the Land Commission taking their land? There is no use talking about general insecurity." That is what Deputy Hogan said in 1923. The suggestion now is that we are going to do what it was suggested Deputy Hogan would do under the 1923 Act.

You are repealing Section 24 of that Act.

The Land Commission was a very respectable institution at that time. What will it be when this Bill passes?

The Attorney-General

The Deputy interrupted me at a most appropriate moment. I will read what Deputy Hogan said about the Land Commission in 1923: "I have not the slightest doubt myself, no matter what Government is in power, that the Land Commission will carry out its duties as impartially in the future as in the past." Of course, when a new Government comes into office that tune is changed.

The Land Commission has no power under this Bill.

The Attorney-General

The Land Commission has been attacked. Suggestions have been made against it. Suggestions have been made that they will be puppets in the hands of the Minister; that they will not carry out their duties impartially in the future as in the past. What are the grounds for that suggestion? I understood Deputy Costello to say here in the debate that the very powers we are taking under Section 6 we already have.

You did not understand him aright.

The Attorney-General

I suggest that I certainly did understand him. It is almost sufficient to leave one speaker in the Opposition to deal with the others. We had, I think it was, Deputy Lynch waxing eloquent about the unheard of proposal to give the Minister the control which it is proposed to give him under this Bill, and then we have Deputy Costello apparently holding the view that we had power under the Land Law (Commission) Act, 1923, that the Minister had control, as Deputy Roddy knows he had, and as Deputy Roddy was in a position to exercise over the Land Commission. In fact, under Section 6, which has been so much criticised, we are going to give the Land Commission powers which they had not got before. In dealing with individual farmers, individual tenants, and persons from whom land was taken we are specifically providing in this Bill that they are to be safeguarded. Deputy Roddy a moment ago was dealing with the extraordinary powers given to the Minister. I certainly gave Depuy Roddy credit for knowing more about land law than he showed in his speech. He had brought to his attention on several occasions the power of direct control under that section. That is what was at the back of Deputy Costello's mind when he asked the question I referred to. If we are to take Deputy Costello's view about the Bill we are introducing it is taking power out of the Minister's hands and giving the Commissioners the right to have complete control in matters which were previously controlled by the Minister.

Subject to appeal to the new tribunal—that independent body.

The Attorney-General

Perhaps I might make the matter clear to Deputy Dillon, unless he has spent his week-end making himself up on these matters. Under Section 24 of the Act of 1923, as was pointed out, landlordism disappeared, and the Act of 1881 and the three F's went with it. Under Sections 28 and 29 dealing with tenanted and retained holdings, the Land Commission have power over all tenants, and Deputy Hogan refused point blank to give the tenant who had not bought out any rights or claims similar to those which he gave to the purchased tenant.

I am talking of purchased tenants.

The Attorney-General

That should have been made clear. I cannot see what case can be made against Section 28 of this Bill. In any one district you may find a man occupying a purchased holding not working it in a husband-like manner. Opposite him you may have a man who got his rent fixed under the Land Act of 1881, and under the provisions of the Act of 1923 the man with rights conferred upon him by the Act of 1881 may have his holding taken from him and distributed, while the man opposite goes off scot free. That is not justifiable, and we are altering that state of things and giving rights to people who work the land in a husband-like manner. If there was land enough to go round, and if it were possible to do what Deputy Dillon says he would wish to see, if it was possible to give a man with a fair rent fixed upon his holding and working in a husband-like manner and, also, to a man who purchased out under previous Acts more land elsewhere I would not be opposed to it. I quite agree that that would be an eminently desirable thing and everyone would agree. But if it is found in practice that after the work Deputy Hogan described, that it is not possible to provide sufficient land to relieve congestion, not alone in the West but all over the country, and if that has to be done in the way in which legislation intended it should be done, then the privilege and protection given to those persons brought in under the earlier Acts must be modified. We have modified that, so far as we think reasonable, having always in the forefront of our minds the object of land legislation, and particularly that attempted by Deputy Hogan in the Land Act of 1923 of dealing with congested problems and restoring evicted tenants. If these objects are to be achieved we find, and we believe it has been found in practice, that these restrictions imposed by the Land Act of 1923 must be modified. We have modified them.

Now, it is a strange thing, before even this Bill saw the light, theIrish Times published a leading article dealing with the Bill entitled “This Lets in the Jungle.” Of course, the native Irish getting back to the land were comparable, in the eyes of the Irish Times, to the wild beasts from the jungle. On the other hand, the more astute Independent waited, and for some strange reason, especially when one hears what is being said from the opposite side of the House about the Bill, they described it as a moderate Bill. Deputy O'Donovan of the Farmers' Party a few nights ago made an impressive speech on this Bill. He said in normal times something like this Bill would have to be introduced. He agrees, apparently, that a problem has to be dealt with and that it must be dealt with at some time in this country, but, for some reason that I could not follow, he thinks this is not the appropriate time to deal with it.

I have been interested in the distribution of land for a number of years, and I have had close contact with it from different points of view. I was in charge of the land settlements commission under the first Dáil. Deputy O'Sullivan, speaking the other night, paid a tribute to Sinn Féin in 1920, for the manner in which it dealt with the land agitation which grew up all over the country and threatened to spread chaos. He said that the Sinn Féin Party of that day won support in the manner in which they tackled that agitation. I think I may claim some part of the credit for that. I was in the centre of the disturbance. It was at a time when land values were rising rapidly and a land agitation broke out and spread rapidly. Some of us approached Arthur Griffith and asked him to set up an arbitration court under the Dáil to deal with the situation. As is well known, we had a very great difficulty in dealing with the matter, but with the assistance of the I.R.A.— and sufficient credit has not been given to them for the part they took in this matter—we were able to get that agitation completely under control. I remember myself being involved in cases in which some of the young fellows of the I.R.A. had to go in and arrest some of their own relations and take them away to an unknown destination in order to stay the fury of that agitation in one place. The reason that we were able to hold the agitation, at that time, was because a promise was made that as soon as possible, and as far as possible, that matter would be dealt with and the problem would be tackled as a national problem. Anyone who has any knowledge will agree that the great trouble with land legislation is that it is generally the fruit of agitation. A Government sits idly by and then suddenly great agitation breaks out, and the Government rushes in to deal with it by hurried legislation. I think this is the most appropriate time to deal with it. We have studied the problem and we have observed the working of the various Acts and the objections that may be made to the Act of 1923; and this is the time we believe to calmly and dispassionately try to carry out the views of those who believed the land problems should be solved in a national way. To harken back to what Deputy O'Donovan said if he agrees, and apparently he does agree, that there should be a change——

Question.

The Attorney-General

His Leader was not here to check him upon that occasion.

Perhaps the Attorney-General would quote his speech.

The Attorney-General

I submit to the House that in all the circumstances this is the proper time for tackling this great question. Under the Bill as a whole, as under the 1923 Act, as explained by Deputy Hogan when piloting the Bill through the Seanad amid fierce opposition, opposition which came from a different section, but which was precisely to the same effect, the same words being used as are being used now by the Opposition here, the handling of the land problem is, to a large extent, the work of the Land Commission. The Land Commission are charged with the administration of land purchase. The Land Commission have their officers, who are familiar with the difficulties which have arisen and with the objective which is being aimed at. In order to enable them to carry out the work unhampered, we have taken these powers.

I think it is the most outrageous statement for Deputy Hogan to make that this Bill takes us back to 1881 instead of being, as I regard it, the logical completion of all that Deputy Hogan aimed at and specifically stated he aimed at. It is the logical development that legislation along these lines would have to be introduced in order to carry out the aim which Deputy Hogan, as I say, stated that he was aiming at in the 1923 Act. After all, the basis of all recent land legislation has been to establish persons in economic holdings. The aim is, as far as is possible, to provide economic holdings for the congests in congested areas; as far as it is possible to restore the evicted tenants; as far as it is considered prudent and possible to give the land to landless men. How Deputy Hogan can suggest that that in any way is calculated to reproduce the conditions which existed here prior to 1881 I do not know. Peasant proprietors established upon the land, we believe, as has been stated by several people before us, and as was stated by Deputy Dillon's own father on many occasions, is the best thing one can hope to see.

You are wiping it all out by this Bill.

The Attorney-General

Apparently it is impossible to convince the Deputy.

I asked the Attorney-General a question and he did not answer. I ask him again: Under this Bill, has the Land Commission, under the direction of the Minister, any right to take a farm off any purchased tenant in this country and offer him land of equal value, without any regard to the suitability, in exchange therefor? Can they not according to the law, take that farm of a purchased tenant in Mayo and offer him land at equal value in County Cork? Can they or can they not?

The Attorney-General

In the first place, I will make the reply made by Deputy Hogan, that 75 per cent. of the purchased tenants are under £25 valuation. I do not think it can reasonably be suggested that there is any intention whatever of depriving them of their land.

Can they do it?

The Attorney-General

I shall answer the question in a moment. Is the suggestion of the Deputy the same suggestion as was made by the Senators, who were so interested in the small men in 1923, that it is proposed in the Bill to take land from a man in County Galway or County Mayo and give him land in County Cork?

I will make suggestions as I think necessary when the section comes to be discussed. The Attorney-General has invited questions to clarify the issue. If I ask him now, will he answer "yes" or "no" to the question I put to him? If he answers honestly he must answer "yes" and he knows it.

The Attorney-General

I am not burking the question. The answer is "yes", and the answer is "yes" under the 1923 Act.

The Attorney-General

Of course it is.

What is the necessity for this then?

It is not the answer under the 1923 Act and the Attorney-General knows it is not the answer.

The Attorney-General

Under the 1923 Act, a holding could be taken from any small tenant and land be offered to him equally suitable.

"Equally suitable".

The Attorney-General

If I do not carry the Deputy with me on this aspect of the matter I can see that it is hopeless to attempt to convince him. I am pointing out to him this fact: Deputy Hogan with great hesitation, with many apologies, interfered with the position of these under the 1903 and 1909 Acts. He said he did it because it was necessary that the problem of congestion should be dealt with. He said he did it because there were 100,000 congests to be provided for. Having done so, we have seen the working of this Act for ten years, and we are now in a position to tell the Deputy that the words upon which he is placing so much reliance have rendered, to a great extent, the section which Deputy Hogan brought in to carry out the object I have mentioned quite a dead letter. Unless the Deputy suggests that we should abandon the task altogether of relieving congestion and put up our hands and say: "We will not solve the question; we will not deal with these people; we cannot deal with them, because there are people who have such sacred rights that we cannot touch them"—unless we are prepared to take that attitude we must cut down the protection given to the purchased tenants.

Have you not 250,000 acres of land at present on hands?

That is Deputy Roddy's fiction and it is all wrong.

These are the Minister's figures in reply to my question.

The Attorney-General

So far as I can see, I have advanced the reasons which induced the Government to cut down the protection given to the purchased tenants.

There are 250,000 acres on your hands.

The Attorney-General

We are going a step farther. We are allowing the land to be acquired for any of the purposes described in Section 31 of the Land Act of 1923. Again in the 1923 Act, as I read it, the Land Commission had power to take land from any judicial or other tenant and give it to any person there described. So that we are only extending the powers to a certain extent. Again, in the discussion on the 1923 Act, Deputy Hogan pointed out that would happen. The Deputy well realised that that is what must happen where he has a certain amount of congests to deal with. He takes up purchased land from a man on the plea that it is required for the relief of congestion. He finds that, either from local opposition, or from the fact that the number of congests to be provided for are so much smaller than the land will enable him to provide holdings for, he has to give the land to landless men. That is what was going on under Deputy Roddy's administration; that landless men were provided for on holdings which had been acquired on the certificate that they were required for the relief of congestion. It was pointed out by Deputy Hogan himself when he was introducing the Act that that situation would arise. That situation has arisen and in several cases the lands which the Deputy referred to were handed out to landless men. We are taking powers under this Bill to do what apparently has been forced upon the Land Commission owing to the difficult circumstances to which they have often to face up. So much for the interference with the security.

Is that to be stopped now? You are only going to deal with congests? Is it proposed under this not to deal with landless men until all the congests have been supplied with land?

The Attorney-General

That is a matter of policy for the Minister and not for me at the present moment.

Has the Attorney-General any view upon it?

The Attorney-General

I have already made my views clear.

I do not think so.

The Attorney-General

The suggestion is that the whole administration of the Land Commission is to be diverted to a wholly new purpose, and that we are going to use the machinery for political purposes. That is the suggestion. The same suggestion could have been made, and the same suggestion was made, in 1923. Here on a Bill where we are actually limiting the rights of interference of the Minister, that charge is being persisted in. The Land Commission, which Deputy Hogan complimented in 1923 as an impartial body which would, as he said, under any Government act impartially, are now being told that they would be ready to do the bidding of whatever Party is in power. I do not know what inspired such criticism. One feels rather odd about it, and one cannot help feeling that the Deputies who make that criticism must have indulged in something like that themselves.

There are one or two other aspects of the Bill with which I should deal, perhaps, as they have been referred to. One is the question of the appeal tribunal. I suppose it will be more fully dealt with in Committee. Deputy Costello threw out the suggestion to me that I advised that this appeal tribunal was unconstitutional. I have not so advised. He also asked me if I had read carefully the judgment in Lynham v. Butler. I have read it carefully, and I think the judgment, so far as I understand it, suggests that the courts are not taking the extraordinary view that a good many people suggested they would take about the delegation of the task of inquiring in a judicial way into problems delegated to the Land Commission. I have the report here, and throughout the report —and particularly in Mr. Justice Johnson's judgment, where he elaborately reviews the whole history of land legislation—it becomes apparent that most of the functions of the Land Commission—practically all of them—are administrative. In the very opening words of his judgment he says: "The task of carrying out the code is primarily and essentially the administration of them for the purpose of carrying out a great social work of the highest importance." In the closing words of the judgment he says:

"The work of carrying out the land purchase code, especially since the passing of the new legislation, is an administrative task of national importance and of colossal magnitude. It was begun 60 years ago, and was in active progress at the very moment when the Constitution was being framed and in the full view of the constitution-makers. The work could only be carried out by an administrative body consisting of men of wisdom"—

I suppose that even that will not be admitted by the Deputies opposite—

"equipped with the most complete knowledge of the agrarian and social conditions of this country and actuated by an absolute determination that every citizen and every class of citizen should get fair play and honest treatment."

I suppose it is questioned by the Deputies opposite that that now applies to the Land Commission.

"As part of the procedure, it was necessary that there should be some machinery for the ‘ascertainment' of the lands to which the Acts applied and the Legislature has declared that this ‘ascertainment,' being part of the whole work of administration, must necessarily be left in the hands of the body or tribunal which was constituted to perform the entire task."

I should have said that the body referred to were the Land Commissioners other than the Judicial Commissioner. He goes on to say:

"I do not think that any other course was possible, and I am absolutely satisfied that such ‘ascertainment' of the land is not in any sense an exercise of judicial power within the meaning of Article 64 of the Constitution. Any other result would have a most paralysing effect upon the whole work of the Land Commission. The repercussions of a decision in favour of the appellant would extend to every branch and every Department of that work. If this court were obliged to give to the Constitution the meaning and effect which the appellant seeks to establish, and if the expression ‘the judicial power' were to be held the extent so far, then, I think, I would be inclined to adopt the words of Taney C.J. in Luther v. Borden (1), in regard to a very famous constitutional controversy in the United States and say that the guarantee contained in the Constitution ‘is a guarantee of anarchy and not of order."'

The result of that judgment is to make it quite clear that practically all the work of the Land Commission is of an administrative character. Criticism has been levelled against the form of the appeal tribunal to which we allow aggrieved persons to apply. I do not suppose that anybody will think, for a moment, that I, as a lawyer, am anxious to see the powers of judges curtailed in any way, but I think the criticism levelled at this tribunal is quite unjustified. Deputy Costello let himself go in unmeasured terms. I see that Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney is waiting, and I suppose he is going to let himself go also. I would suggest, however, to the Deputies who have criticised this tribunal that the matters which will come before this tribunal are matters which do require not alone a person of judicial experience, but men of experience in the work of the Land Commission itself. I am not to be taken for one moment as criticising in any way the person who holds the present position of judicial commissioner. I agree with Deputy Roddy when he said that there are very few men in the whole country with a better knowledge of the Land Acts than that gentleman has, but the suggestion here is that the type of tribunal, and the fact that one of the lay members must agree with the judicial commissioner as to whether a question is a question of law or not, is something that is unprecedented and that it has never been heard of before. Deputy Costello, I think, described it as the best joke of all. It is useful in these things to have a precedent, and we had a precedent in the Railway and Canal Traffic Act of 1888. A Commission was there appointed, consisting of three persons, and to it were delegated all the questions which arose in connection with the railways. Two of the persons to be appointed were lay persons. One had to be a man of railway experience, and for the third person anex-officio commissioner was appointed by, I think, the Lord Chancellor, who was to be a judge of the High Court. He was to sit with the two lay commissioners, and here is the section which deals with what happened when a question of law came up. Deputies will see that it goes much farther even than we do. It said that when in the opinion of two of the commissioners a question was a question of law, the opinion of the ex-officio commissioner shall prevail.. So that two commissioners had the right to say whether or not a question was a question of law or not. Whether Article 64 of our Constitution is being contravened or not is a question upon which I am not going to claim to be able to give a final decision. That matter will be tested, I am quite sure. Deputy Costello has already suggested that it will be tested very quickly after the Bill comes into operation, but whether the position of judicial power given to the judges prevents us allowing a tribunal such as this to deal with the matters coming before it or not, you have this position, that in England such a tribunal as that would not be considered as in any way absurd or ridiculous or be laughed to scorn as this particular tribunal is being laughed to scorn in this House.

Is the Attorney-General saying that there is not a right to get the English tribunal's decision reviewed by the High Courts? Does any such thing apply here?

The Attorney-General

I am dealing with one point here. I do not think that Deputy Dillon is deliberately trying to side-track this matter, but I am dealing with criticism of the section touching the tribunal which has been uttered by the Deputies opposite. That section has been laughed to scorn. It is suggested that it was absurd that persons who are not lawyers sitting on the tribunal should say whether a question which was not a question of law should be left to the decision of the presiding judge. There is an example of legislation in an analogous matter in England where after a decision was given——

Is there not an appeal there from that tribunal to the High Court? There is no appeal from this according to the section.

The Attorney-General

I think the Deputy is wrong in suggesting that there is no appeal from the tribunal on a question of law.

If there is an appeal to the High Court where is it in the Bill?

It is not in the Bill.

Sure it is there already. We cannot teach you everything.

The Attorney-General

I suppose there will be ample opportunity to deal in more detail with these other sections when the Bill comes to be dealt with in Committee. I think a great deal of this is more appropriate on the Committee Stage than it is on this stage.- But I repeat again the pro tests which I seriously make against the way in which it has been sought to represent this Bill as something which is introducing a wholly revolutionary idea in dealing with the problem. As I said a moment ago, and as I have endeavoured to show, this Bill is necessary. I believe in their honest hearts if the Deputies who have spoken on the opposite side had been here where we are they would have to admit that a great many of the provisions in this Bill were necessary in order to clear away the obstacles and allow the work of the Land Commission to go on. If these Deputies have not changed since 1923 they must be in favour of this Bill. Unless they think that the friendship of the landlords is of more value to them than the friendship of the people of this country, they will have to admit that this is a useful Bill. If the objectives set out in 1923 are to be fulfilled, a great deal of the provisions we have inserted here are necessary. They are provisions that would have to be introduced by any Government in office in this country.

I am aware of course that the Attorney-General is an extremely sensitive person. I know that the Attorney-General resents anybody criticising him or putting forward any arguments against his proposals. I know the Attorney-General regards it as rather seditious for anybody to deal with his arguments and in a special way if I challenge them he regards it as high treason. The Attorney-General regards his arguments and views as sacrosanct and as things that should not be touched by any criticism. I am afraid, however, that I may have to commit high treason in this case, as I will have to deal with the singular disingenuousness of the speech which he has just delivered to this House. A great deal of his speech was taken up by references to speeches which Deputy Hogan made in the Seanad in 1923. I would like to point out to the House—if the House is not already aware of it—that speeches made in defence or explanation of the Act of 1923 are speeches which cannot be read to the courts as an interpretation of this Bill which is now before this House. I would also like to point out that when Deputy Hogan was piloting a particular Bill with particular safeguards in it a perfectly different situation to the present situation existed, when we are discussing a Bill in which the safeguards to which Deputy Hogan referred have been swept away or are in process of being swept away. There are just a few things in the Attorney-General's speech to which I would like to advert before I get down to a discussion on the Bill itself. He says the Land Commission is being attacked; that we say there is to be no confidence placed in it or in the persons who form the staffs of the Land Commission. That is perfectly untrue. That is not the point of view that this Party holds. The point of view of this Party is that the Irish Land Commission is extremely ably manned, that it is manned by men of the highest honour, by men of the highest principle, and that if these men are allowed in the future as they have been allowed in the past to work without political interference the work of the Land Commission will be well done. What I find in this particular Bill is that all through it there is a steady determination to take powers into the hands of the Minister which no Minister and no Administration except this would dream of taking into its hands. Really I am inclined to think that if the Fianna Fáil Party did completely understand the implications of this Bill, if they completely understood the powers which are being put into the hands of the Ministers by this Bill, a very considerable number of them at any rate would hesitate very long before they would give them such powers, and that a great number of them indeed would find it a great strain upon their consciences to give such powers as are proposed in this Bill.

But I do think that as this is a Second Reading speech and as the House is not in Committee it would be more appropriate for me to deal with the main principles and what will be the general effect of this Bill rather than go into a more detailed analysis of the particular provisions of the Bill. When I come to consider a Bill of this nature the first thing that I want to do, and the first thing I think that anybody should do who takes an interest in the welfare of the people of this State, and who looks at the country as something to be served rather than at a Party as something to be served, is to look at the measure as it will affect the entire people of the country. Legislation should be directed to the general advantage and to a promotion of the public good rather than a promotion of the interests of a political Party. I think any person who is animated by such views or sentiments will first look to see what is going to be the general effect of the Bill upon the country as a whole, upon the agriculture of this country as a whole. After all, the main thing is the welfare of agriculture in this country. The main thing, taken from the point of view of the State, is how to divide your land, how to deal with your land so that you will have the maximum output from the land and the greatest production of agricultural wealth from the land. After all, these are the main considerations. The next consideration should be what is the best method in which you can divide the profits made out of the land.

The first question, therefore, which I think the House should consider is, what is going to be the effect of the Bill upon general agricultural habits in this State? Regarding the Bill as impartially as I think the Bill can be regarded, I cannot see that it will have anything except the most pernicious effect upon the agricultural community. I think it is a commonplace that nobody can controvert that the real foundation of agricultural prosperity lies upon security of tenure. There were famous words uttered by Arthur Young, I suppose the greatest authority upon agriculture, and certainly the best observer of agricultural conditions, in his time. His books on conditions in England, and especially following his tour in France and Ireland, are standard works in the English language. He was a very keen observer. I will paraphrase rather than quote a particularly famous passage. He said that if you give a man a lease of a desert he will turn it into a garden, but if you make him the possessor for a short time of a garden he will turn it into a desert. Then he used the remarkable phrase: "For the magic of property turns sand into gold."

We find that this Bill shakes to the very foundation security in the land which any tenant-purchaser has bought out. If you wish to have agriculture in a thriving condition in this State you must, above all things, give to the proprietors of land a complete sense of security. What man is going to till his land to the very best, to improve his land as far as he can improve it, to look forward to the future and to take, in the management of his land, steps which may not have their immediate reward but which will have their reward in a few years' time—what man is going to take these steps, to go to expense like draining and liming the land, better fencing, better outhouses, and endeavour to bring up the general wealth of his land by using more and better manures, better types of grass seed and everything else, if he is not sure that he and the people who come after him are going to get the benefit of those improvements? The desire to improve land is the very thing that, under this Bill, you are taking away from the ordinary registered owner of land.

This Bill clearly indicates that the land problem is no nearer solution now than it was two generations ago. A great number of people in this country had hopes that there was going to be, some time or other, and that in our time, a final solution of the Irish land question. When I say final I mean final, at any rate, for several generations to come. There were hopes there would be such a solution because, until such a solution is reached, there is no likelihood of the agriculturist setting himself to make the very best that he possibly can out of his land. I do not find that here. I find there is no difference between the position of a tenant-purchaser under the Land Purchase Acts who is the registered owner of his land than there was given by former Land Acts. There is no substantial difference as regards fixity of tenure, real sense of ownership in his land, and there is no greater sense of security now given than there was given by the Land Act of 1870 or the Land Act of 1885. A tenant may have purchased his land. If it is land upon which he does not actually reside that land can be taken away from him, be it big or small.

The Attorney-General told us that of course in the Land Act of 1923 there was power to resume for cash the lands of tenants who had not purchased, and he wishes the House to think there is no difference between tenants who have purchased and tenants who have not purchased. There is all the difference in the world between the two. There is the case of the tenant who has not purchased or has not become the fee-simple owner of his land. That man would be approaching the final stage by gradual steps. He would not be the owner of his land, but as soon as a man discovered himself to be the registered owner, with that land vested in him, he did consider he was rooted there firmly and there was no power to take it away.

No matter how he would get it?

There are some people who did not get their land very honestly.

That is what the Land Purchase Acts set out to do, and now we find that that security is to be taken away. That absolute and complete security in the land which he purchased could not be given in completeness is indeed a fact, because it was considered, and I think rightly considered, that a re-distribution of land was advisable in the State interests and, accordingly, power was given, which was only exercised in certain cases, so that land could be taken up from a person, even though he were the registered owner of it, but he got elsewhere land of equal value. That principle has for practical purposes been swept away. The reservations are very few. In the first place, so far as any non-residential registered holding is concerned, there is no security at all. Let me take what is a very ordinary instance. A small farmer in the County Mayo, or any similarly situated county, has a holding with a valuation of £10 or £15, or possibly less. A saving man, a thrifty man, puts money by. There is a holding adjoining his holding which is for sale by public auction. Possibly he has the purchase price, or he may get some of it from a bank in order to purchase that adjoining holding. Usually it is the most thrifty people who have such holdings. Let us say that he buys the holding adjoining his own. Later he is told: "You have absolutely no security in that holding; it can be taken away from you to-morrow for cash." It may be that he gets only five or ten acres, but even so, he has no security in it, and it can be taken away from him for cash.

To a working farmer, as everybody must know, cash is no compensation for the taking away of a man's land. You might as well say in reference to a carpenter: "I am not going ever to allow him to work again as a carpenter, but I will be very fair and I will be very generous to him; I will give him absolutely the full value for all his carpenter's tools." That is a very analogous position. The land is the place where a man gets employment, where he gets scope to exercise his energies, and gets scope to exercise his abilities and brain power as well. It is, of course the ablest farmers, the men who are the best tillers, who get on. A great number of them get on because they have the incentive that although they start with 10 acres they may die with 20 acres if they are able to buy them. If you tell them, as you do in effect under this Bill, "You will have no security for any outside land you buy," I consider that you are doing a very great injury, because you are killing the spirit of enterprise in the country.

Let us come on a little further and see what are the safeguards. We have a safeguard put in the most extraordinary fashion, that if the tenant or his wife resides upon the holding, if the holding is worked in a husbandlike manner, and if it is not over £2,000 in value, it will remain. That is very curiously put. If the tenant is a man and his wife resides on it then the place is safe. Let us turn it about. Let us assume that the tenant is a woman, and her husband resides on the place; then the safeguard is completely gone. Why is there this distinction? Why is it not "if the husband or wife of the tenant, as the case may be resides on it"? It has not been put that way. I do not know why there is that exception. If a woman owns land and her husband resides on it the land can still be taken. That is a very curious position. I should like to know from the Minister what is the reason for that, to my mind, strange provision.

The land must be worked in a husbandlike manner. Who is to be the judge as to whether it is worked in a husbandlike manner? I think the best people to judge as to whether a holding is being well worked is pretty nearly always either the holder himself, or somebody who knows the land and who is in touch with local conditions. I should hesitate to give any inspector the power to go round and say "This land is being well worked" or "This land is not being well worked". I see here in this section "that he or she uses such land in the same manner as an ordinary farmer in accordance with proper methods of husbandry". Who is to be the judge in that matter? Who is to decide what is an ordinary farmer as distinct from an extraordinary farmer? Very often the farmers who are not ordinary farmers are the most valuable. After all, the man of enterprise, the man who is streets above the ordinary, is far and away above his neighbours. He cannot, of course, be described as an ordinary farmer. He is not using his farm in the fashion of an ordinary farmer. His land can be taken away because he is too good; he is not an ordinary farmer. "In accordance with proper methods of husbandry"; I am at a loss to know who is going to decide what are the proper methods of husbandry, because proper methods of husbandry vary almost from one portion of a townland to another. Each particular kind of land must be treated in its own way, if you are going to get the very best results out of it.

Then there is the safeguard that, as well as residing on the land, the total market value must not exceed the sum of £2,000. I cannot see how the market value is going to be determined, or who is going to determine it. The market value of land is very difficult to determine. It fluctuates from day to day. Personally I would have thought that it would be far and away more sensible and more fair if instead of a market value of £2,000— if you are going to fix a limit of this nature—you took the poor law valuation of the land as a basis on which to fix the value. This would be a fairer and more sensible method of approaching this matter. Let me draw the attention of the House to the real danger in this connection. You may say "Two thousand pounds' worth of land is enough for any man to have." Even if any Deputy is of that opinion will he just consider for a moment how far the sense of security goes? We have a value of £2,000 to-day. Portion of a man's land is taken away, and he is left whatever is valued at £2,000. I have not the remotest idea how many acres that would be. If there is a boom in land it might not be more than 20 or 25 acres. Land, of course, includes buildings, and if there is a good house on a farm of 20 or 25 acres it might very easily be value for £2,000. Suppose a man is left with 20, 25 or 50 acres, what sense of security has he got? To-day the value is put at £2,000. How do we know that in 12 months' time somebody anxious to place persons who have no land may not come along and fix the value at £1,000? Somebody else may afterwards come along and fix the value at £500. Where is finality to come in? I press this upon the House as vigorously as I can; I consider that finality is necessary, if agriculture is going to flourish. If a man thinks "There is a field there which may be taken from me any day," how is he going to farm that field? He is going to take everything he can out of it and keep nothing in. I would ask Deputies very carefully to consider that. The Deputy who says: "Oh, £2,000 is all right" should bear in mind that when you start on that principle there will be a tendency to cut the figure down still further.

There is another aspect from which I want to approach this question— the indiscriminate breaking up of grass lands all over the country. I hope Deputies in this House will bear in mind that what I have said on other occasions is still my view—that I do not think that there is in this country any one possible system of agriculture. Agriculture should vary from place to place, according to the nature of the soil and its capabilities. I am looking at the matter now from the point of view of those who live in that part of the State which I know thoroughly. Looking at it from the point of view of a person who has a reasonable bit of a holding of land in Mayo, Galway, or Sligo, and I am sure it is the same in the other poorer counties, the indiscriminate breaking up of the grass lands in Kildare, Meath and other counties of that nature is going to do them very real injury. There is no single farmers' Deputy in this House who will not agree with that, and that the most profitable way of finishing cattle is on good land. There is not a farmers' Deputy who comes from the richer parts of this country who does not know the value of ancient pasture, and who does not know that if you have really rich land in ancient pasture you have a source of wealth that should not be lightly flung away. When I consider what is the ordinary condition of affairs in the counties to which I allude, I have discovered, and it is always the way, that cattle are kept in these parts of the country where the land is bad, and very bad, only up to a certain age. They are not kept there now as long as they used to be kept. They cannot be properly finished upon land in the western counties. If that industry of breeding store cattle, which is always to be for the western counties the main source of livelihood, is to be carried on as profitably as at present, there should be in reserve that enormously rich and fertile land into which these cattle can be turned and finished. That is the necessary condition under which farming is carried on and must be carried on in the poorer parts of Ireland. I consider that if you set to work to break up all the pasturage in these rich counties, you may, to some extent, be helping the people in those counties, which I doubt. I very much doubt that the breaking up of any great national asset like this, the richest pasture in all Europe, possibly I would not exaggerate if I said the richest pasture in the whole world, would be to the benefit of any people. By doing so you will greatly diminish the gross output of national wealth, and I am certain you will do a great injury to the poorer people in Mayo County and in Galway County, and the same will apply to the poorer people in other counties.

I do not think, when this Bill was being considered, that an enormous amount of thought was given to it. I think in the iaudation that some members of the Fianna Fáil Party gave it they did not give it much consideration either. I heard two speeches delivered by Deputy Cleary in the last week or so in this House. Deputy Cleary is always a very vigorous, though not always a very sensible speaker. He put forward two propositions in those two speeches which were wholly contradictory one of the other. I do not, of course, say that what Deputy Cleary says in this House is to be taken as an indication of what was in the mind of the Executive Council, but I put it forward as an example of the astoundingly loose thinking going on in the Fianna Fáil Party. But a short time ago Deputy Cleary alluded to me personally complaining about the conditions of the people in the West of Ireland, because 75 per cent. or 80 per cent. of them, he said, never made a living out of their holdings, and could never make a living out of their holdings because they had to wait until they got money from America or England to pay their rents. In other words, Deputy Cleary was bringing the most huge indictment against the whole work carried on by the Congested Districts Board and the Land Commission under various Governments. He was springing upon the House the view that practically all the land given to make economic holdings was no good. What you would call an economic holding is not an economic holding; that no matter how much you broke up the grass lands in any county in the West of Ireland you were simply always condemning people to live on land out of which they could not make a living. That summed up his first speech; which meant that you were establishing a completely unsound agricultural economic system by dividing the country into holdings on which the people could not live.

Then I discovered that on this particular Bill there comes from the same Deputy a magnificent eulogy most eloquently put, in praise of the very thing which he condemned a week before. It was a magnificent eulogy of the breaking up of the land so as to enable the people to live upon it entirely, obviously forgetful of the fact that within a week he declared such a thing was impossible. I am afraid that is the sort of spirit that is running through Fianna Fáil, and, therefore, in setting this down they did so without inquiry into this grave land problem, which, of course, is the most important of all our problems, because it is the one most concerned with the welfare of the majority of our people, and because out of it the main supply of our wealth as a country must always come. I have dealt now with the question of want of security. The same spirit is running quite through this Bill. I turn to this most extraordinary section. I am very sorry the Attorney-General has left the House, because I would like his views on this Section 27. If the Attorney-General does me the courtesy, as he is not here to listen to my speech, to read my speech, I should very much hope that when this Section 27 comes to be debated in Committee he will be prepared to answer the case I am now making against it. I do not believe this House knows what Section 27 means. I do not believe there is a farmer Deputy in the House would consent to give the power to the Government that they are securing by Section 27. Though I may have to quote law in connection with this matter, I think I can do so so very simply that no Deputy, although he may know nothing about law, will have any difficulty in following me completely. Under Section 27 the Land Commission may issue a warrant, and that warrant has the same effect as an execution order, under the Enforcement of Court Orders Act, 1926.

I want the House to understand what an enforcement of court order under the Act of 1926 is:

"The expression ‘execution order' means and includes any writ, decree, warrant, or other document by whatever name called, issued by a court in a civil matter directing or authorising the execution of an order of the court for the seizure and sale of a person's property or by putting a person in possession of lands or premises or delivering to him specific property."

I should like Deputies opposite to know that any and every form of writ or court order comes under that definition of an execution order, and that in consequence the Land Commission have got full powers, by a mere stroke of the pen, to issue in respect of a person who is in arrears with his land annuity any order that a court at present could make. They can issue a certificate which will give them power to act as if they had got any order that a court could make.

Before I go on to explain how wide that power is, I should like to point out that under sub-section (3) of this section it is provided:

"Immediately upon receipt from the Land Commission of a warrant under this section the county registrar shall, after serving such notices and doing such acts as may be prescribed in that behalf by regulations to be made by the Minister for Justice, proceed to levy the money therein certified to be due by the defaulter in the same manner as execution orders at the suit of the Land Commission are by law leviable, and such county registrar shall, for that purpose, have all such rights, powers and duties as are for the time being vested in or imposed on him by law in relation to the execution of an execution order."

There are very significant words left out of that section because, under the Enforcement of Court Orders Act, when a court order was to be enforced not only were the same powers given, but also the under-sheriff—it is now the county registrar—in most cases was subject "to the like duties and obligations as similar writs of execution of the High Court have heretofore been executed by the undersheriff." These words "and obligations" are for some particular reason left out of this section. I take it that the object of that is that no action shall be brought for an illegal seizure in any case in which an illegal seizure has been made; that when a seizure has been made upon the wrong person he shall have no remedy either against the sheriff or the Land Commission. I take it that that is the reason why these words have been left out. I think it is really shocking that you sweep away the safeguard of the court to see that no mistake has been made and then, if a mistake has been made, you abolish the liability of the Land Commission or of the sheriff.

I come to a worse thing still, and I think that when you consider the power that the Minister is to get now, it is really striking. I am sorry the acting-Minister is not here, because I should like to ask him whether he has considered the effect of Section 25 of the Land Act of 1891. I presume he has and that he knows thoroughly what powers he is taking. I presume he is not taking these powers without knowing what they are. It is really staggering to see the powers he is taking. Section 25 of the Land Act of 1891 gives power to the High Court, at the suit of the Land Commission, to give an order to the sheriff. I might incidentally say that the Land Commission gives an order for a holding to be sold if one gale of annuity has been in arrear for 40 days. Section 25 of the Land Act of 1891 states:

"Whenever the Land Commission are entitled to cause any holding to be sold for the non-payment of any sum due to them, they may, if they think fit, apply to the High Court, in the manner prescribed by rules of the High Court, for an order to the sheriff to put them in possession of such holding, and it shall be lawful for such court, if it sees fit, and upon hearing such evidence as is offered, to issue an order accordingly, and such order shall be executed by the sheriff in like manner as a writ for the delivery of possession."

That order can be made by the High Court as the law stands at present, but only when the occupier has had due and proper notice. This matter is now to be under the control of the Minister. By this Bill he gets complete control over the collection of annuities. Under this Bill the Minister can say to whoever is in charge of the collection branch of the Land Commission, "Let me know the names of all the annuitants the last gale day whose annuity is 50 days in arrear." He can look through that list, and if there are any Deputies, let me say, in this House whom he does not like, or any other prominent political opponent whom he does not like, possibly a man who, through illness or some other cause, has allowed his gale of annuity to go into arrear for 50 days, then, without notice to that man, without anybody in the world knowing what is being done, inside the office of the Land Commission there can be, by direction of the Minister, an order made that that man is to be put out of possession of his holding, that the holding is to be put up for sale, and that delivery is to be made forthwith of that holding by the sheriff. In other words, what never happened before, you have complete eviction for non-payment of an annuity done behind the scenes in the Land Commission; and you are asked to give that power to the Minister.

I ask anybody if he thinks that power should be given. We all remember the Act of 1887, and the eviction-made-easy clauses that were talked about. They went, after all, to a court. There was a judgment of a court, but here, if a man is fifty days behind in the payment of his annuity, the Minister, by a stroke of his pen, can deprive him of all the land he possesses. Of course, it is put up for sale and if it goes for more than the amount that is due he will get, I grant you, the amount of the purchase money over and above the costs; but there and then he is evicted and put out. Is that a power that any Minister ought to get? It is astonishing to me that any person who thinks there ought to be any security in a man's home for a man would allow any Minister, no matter who he is, to be able to put out that man by a mere stroke of his pen if the man allows one half-gale of his annuity to be fifty days in arrear. That is the power given to the Minister by that section. I suppose the Attorney-General and the Acting-Minister for Lands and Fisheries will get up and say: "Oh, of course, that power is there, but we never intend to exercise it; we are most reasonable persons." I do not know whether they intend to exercise it or not, but the power is there and I think that when the Acting-Minister for Lands and Fisheries introduced this Bill into this House instead of saying that this is a Bill which is going to save the occupiers and registered owners of land expenses, he might have told this House what was the entire extent of the powers he was taking up himself. On this question of expense, does that deceive anybody? Is anybody taken in by it? Is there a single one, even of the most vehement supporters of the Government who is most anxious to keep his mind closed to reason in order that nothing but the words of the Front Bench may sink in—is there a single one of them who thinks that it is going to save expense? Which do you think is the more expensive— the sheriff's seizure or a decree made in the Circuit Court or the District Court? The whole expense is the sheriff's seizure. The sheriff goes there and he takes the man's cattle—perhaps five or six of his cattle. He may get no purchaser for them, even though the amount of money due is small; he keeps them in a pound for heaven knows how long and all that is done without the man having had any opportunity of explaining that no money was due by him or, if there were a decree made against him, he has no opportunity now, knowing that it would take some time before that decree could be levied, of trying to collect his little resources and see if he can make up the amount due before the sheriff comes. Now, the sheriff is to come at once and seize his cattle.

There is another matter to which I should like to refer. Under Part III, Section 21, of the Enforcement of Court Orders Act, 1926, special powers were given to the courts to stay execution when a person could not pay. Very special powers were given. It must be remembered that the Enforcement of Court Orders Act was a very strong Act. It made ordinary judgments more easily leviable than they had been before. It took away a certain number of things which surrounded a sheriff such as that a sheriff could not give a better title than he had himself and other things of that nature, but because it was recognised to be so drastic there was in 1926 this saving clause about the stay of execution. There is no method now by which a man, no matter how poor he may be, can get a stay of execution. The sheriff can come down upon him at once. There is no way of telling, except by a letter to the Land Commission, that he cannot pay, and down the sheriff may come upon him.

There is just one thing to which I should like to draw the attention of the House. It looks as if you really want trouble, because I believe that this section, no matter how moderately it may be put into operation, will inevitably lead to grave trouble. Fling your minds back to Irish history for a little time and I think you will find that although a landlord always could distrain for rent without going to court, and could send his drivers, as they used to be called, to the holding and drive away with the man's belongings without legal process—it was called distraint—yet that had completely fallen into desuetude. I do not believe that even the oldest farmer Deputy in this House could say that he heard from his father of a case of distraint. It was looked upon with such dislike that it fell completely into desuetude. Right down to the present moment the landlord of a town house can distrain for rent, but it is never done. You are bringing back this principle now. It is said, of course, that the income tax people can distrain for rent. The Revenue Commissioners are not thought to be a very soft-hearted body, and yet I would venture to say that the number of times in which the Revenue Commissioners distrain for income tax is very small indeed. Deputy Walsh said that there is power to distrain for poor rate. It is very rarely exercised. I do not know myself of any case, and I have practised a good deal. I think the number of cases in which there is distraint for rates is very small indeed. It is that principle, which is falling into desuetude everywhere, except where it is not quite dead, because it is against the sense of justice and fair play which there is in the community —that is the very method which you want to revive. You say you save costs. Why should not a shopkeeper be in a position to send the sheriff without legal process at all to collect his shop debts? That could be done at one time. They could seize the body of the debtor and put him into prison without the intervention of the courts, but it was found to be so grossly unfair that it had to be swept away. Here you have this most unpopular thing, which has fallen into desuetude everywhere owing to its unpopularity, being revived again. I think—in fact I am certain— that when you, without legal process, send out the sheriff, whether he be sub-sheriff or county registrar, to seize on a man's goods without any preliminary proceedings in court, you will create an amount of resentment that will be infinitely greater than any feeling that might be aroused by a seizure made by a sheriff after due hearing in court when the defaulter had every opportunity of bringing forward any case that he might have.

There are some other provisions in this Bill to which I should like very much to refer at a later stage, but I will confine myself just to one or two now. I think that play-acting is a very dangerous thing, and where Ministers play-act they ought to be quite sure that it will come off. There was a bit of play-acting here the other day which must have amused, possibly aroused, the same contemptuous feelings in the Minister's own Party, as it did over here. There was a great flourish of trumpets, a map was produced and it was handed all around the House. Every Deputy got a copy of that map. And what was it all about? That there was a village on the Palmer estate in Mayo held in rundale. There is a story in one of Macaulay's Essays that the one-time Prime Minister of England, the Duke of Newcastle, was a man not very well-informed as to what was happening. There had been a great deal of fighting around Cape Breton in Canada, and everybody in England was talking of Cape Breton. Suddenly it happened that the Ministers made a discovery that Cape Breton was an island, and the Prime Minister said: "Oh, Cape Breton is an island; I must run and tell the King that Cape Breton is an island." It seems to me that an approach to much the same kind of thing has happened here. Deputy Aiken has gone to the Irish Land Commission for the first time. He had never heard of rundale before, and he says: "Oh, there are holdings held in rundale, and I must run and tell the President that there are such things as rundale holdings." The President had not heard of holdings in rundale, and when the President is told of them he says: "This is a great thing; we must tell the House that there are holdings in rundale." He, too, evidently never heard of rundale holdings before.

Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney has them in plenty on his own estate in Mayo.

Certainly, there are plenty of rundale holdings all over Mayo. Anybody who knows anything about Irish history knows the origin of rundale holdings. Rundale holdings are direct descendants of the tribal system of land tenure in Ireland. The land was divided amongst the tribe and each person got a particular bit of the land. How that has altered with the passing of years I need not go into now. Its descent is traced in many books. Sir Henry Mayne is the leading authority on the question. In Mayo where land was let upon lease—and it is the same all over the rest of Ireland —the land was not divided amongst the lessees but they were allowed to do the real division themselves. Eight or ten persons might get a lease for a particular tract of land and then they divided this land amongst themselves. Of course it was very difficult for them to divide the land so that no one would have a better bit of the land than anybody else and in consequence when there was a good field they divided it into a great number of strips and that sort of thing lasted down until the present day.

Rundale, whatever may have been its advantages in olden times, was a most complete and absolute failure in latter days. Rundale brought the most unpleasant consequences. You would have two or three people in one field with only the lockspit between them and you had the children out on the field on wet days to prevent the cattle of one man grazing on the other's plot. Between these plots there was nothing but the little lockspit. But what has this Bill got to do with rundale? I find not one single provision in this Bill which deals with rundale at all. The Land Commission have now got ample and adequate powers, powers which they have exercised for some time. These powers which they have are known as "striping" which is a new word. I know that it has often happened that certain individuals object to the land being striped by the Land Commission. But the Land Commission have got that power already. There is not a single word in this Bill about rundale. There is not a single section which deals with the matter and why it was dragged in here I do not know, except that the President and the Acting-Minister for Lands and Fisheries wanted to show the House that they had discovered that there was such a thing in existence as rundale.

There is just one other thing. We had a great flourish of trumpets and we were told that there was going to be very quick distribution of land under this Bill; that there were great legal delays sometimes that prevented the acquisition and distribution of land; that these delays were to be done away with and that the land could now be taken over even before the purchase money could be fixed or the title of the land ascertained. What is the reason for all that? We know that since Fianna Fáil came into office there has been practically no distribution of land. There is an enormous amount of land, something like 250,000 acres which was purchased before Fianna Fáil came into office and it has not been divided yet. About the division of this land there are no technical or legal difficulties of any kind. Why not set to work and divide that land first? One would imagine that this would be the obvious thing to do. What is the reason for the delay? It is not caused by any legal difficulties. There are difficulties inherent in the question itself such as getting persons to exchange holdings. The real reason for these delays is that there are not sufficient inspectors in the Land Commission to do the work adequately. All that has been said by the Government Party shows that there are no legal difficulties and that the delay is not due to legal difficulties at all. Then what is the meaning of this Bill? You cannot keep pace with dividing the land that you have acquired in the ordinary way. Then why start taking up more land before you have completed the business of giving to the tenants the land you have? Why take up additional land when you are not able to divide the land you already have?

There is just one other matter to which I wish to allude because it shows what is running right through this Bill. There was a provision in the land code that no land should be taken up while other and more suitable land in the neighbourhood was available. That provision is to be taken away. Why? Why should not the most suitable land be taken up first? I would like to have an answer to that? When your political opponents have unsuitable land and your political supporters have suitable land will it enable the unsuitable land to be taken up first? Is that the reason? Going right through this Bill, taking it and summing it up, nobody can come to the conclusion, looking at it fairly and squarely, that it is a Bill which will do anything substantial towards improving the agricultural population in this country. It will shake confidence everywhere. It must shake confidence. It will not hurry in any single way the distribution of land which is to be distributed. It will be no help to anybody. It will be worked, as I very much fear it will be worked, as a method of punishing persons whom the Government dislike and for rewarding persons whom the Government want to reward. I cannot understand otherwise why that terrible provision is in the Bill—that if for 50 days your annuity is in arrear you can be ejected there and then by the sheriff if he is so told by the Minister for Lands and Fisheries. If this measure is going to be properly and fairly administered, and if it is not going to be made an engine of Party tyranny, I ask the Minister to explain why those extraordinary and absolutely unnecessary powers are taken in the Bill?

The Deputy who claimed in this House to have been the cause of everything that was of any use to the country from 1922 onwards was the first person to speak in opposition to this Bill to-day. I was surprised, and I am sure if the Ceann Comhairle did not cut him short he would be still talking. Looking over, in the Official Debates, the discussion on the Land Act of 1923, I find, in vol. 3, col. 2094, that Deputy O'Donnell stated he had received a communication from a man named Mr. Belton asking him not to support the Land Bill as brought forward until he had become a member of the Dáil. In 1923 Deputy Belton had prepared his speech on the Land Bill. We heard him to-day. He ignored everything that has happened since. Of course, he will tell us next year or the following year "I was the cause of everything good in that Land Act of 1933, and anything that is bad in it belongs to the other crowd." If there ever was a Land Bill around which was centred such a campaign of misrepresentation, this is the Bill. It has been attacked from every angle. We are told that every kind of corruption is going to be practised under it.

We are told that this is a political Bill. It is, no manner of doubt about it. It is a political Bill, and it is such a political success that it has got every single one of the Deputies on the opposite benches on the go. We are told there is to be a tribunal and the Minister is going to nominate two of his chums. That is what Deputy Hogan said. What do the Irish people want? Do they want a tribunal set up by the Irish people or a tribunal the same as the one that operated here for the last ten years, which was set up under a secret agreement made with the British in 1923? Do the Irish people desire that the price of land in Ireland shall be fixed by an individual appointed under a secret agreement made in 1923 between Cosgrave and the British Government? The Irish people have paid dearly enough for that. Something like £600,000 was clapped on the unfortunate farmers who got the land. As it is, we will have to revalue a lot of the land and the State will have to bear the loss of the loot handed over under that tribunal. There is no use in burking it.

Is it in order for Deputy Corry to suggest that one of our judges has been handing over loot?

I take it the charge was not a personal charge. If it were, it certainly would not be in order.

Is it in order for a Deputy to refer to another Deputy by his surname only? I think the least that Deputy Cosgrave is entitled to is the respect of members of this House.

Any Deputy to whom reference is made should be given the title of Deputy.

I did not mean to be disrespectful in any way. I am sorry if my remarks were taken that way. The present condition of things in regard to land distribution needs to be changed. The division of land in this country has proved a failure, and you all know it. There has not been a single estate divided to which any of you can point and say: "That is a success." You know there was a very definite conspiracy existing by which land in this country, when it came to be taken over by the Land Commission, went beyond all value. I have cases before me of estates that were valued by the Land Commission at £11 10s. Od. and when they came into the land courts they were valued at £16 10s. Od.

The Deputy must not make charges of conspiracy against any official. He may object to the price paid, but he must not accuse a judge or one acting in a semi-judicial capacity of conspiracy.

What I am saying is that there was a very definite conspiracy in the manner in which those Acts were administered during the last ten years.

Between whom?

We will not divide your land, anyway, for you have none, not a danged sod, not as much as half an acre. We cannot divide the Eiffel Tower. Anyway, the conspiracy ran on those lines: They are thinking they are going to divide the ranches, but we will see that those placed on the ranches will have to pay such an annuity that we will have the land back to-morrow or after on the 11 months' system. You know it has happened and that the greater portion of the land divided six or seven years ago is back again in the hands of the very individuals from whom it was taken and they have got the money that was paid for the land. It reverted for the only reason that land was taken over at three, four or five times its honest and proper value. That is going to end now.

There is an accusation levelled at us that there are 100,000 acres not divided. Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney asked why they are not divided. What is the use of putting any man on that land at £2 or 30/- an acre? The unfortunate man will be there only for a year or two and then the land will go back to those who had it before. There is no use dividing land under that system. It can be divided when we are finished with this Bill, because the State then can bear the loss. The State can bear the loss of the loot.

That is right. They have borne the loss of it.

The next statement that has been made is: "Oh, they are going to take the land off the farmers. There is no more security of tenure." Deputy Dillon was very eloquent on this. Deputy Dillon has apparently not studied the effects of previous Land Acts, or the manner in which the law stands at the present time. As to the reasons for the insertion of Section 28 in that Bill, I will give them from the lips of a prominent Cumann na nGaedheal Deputy, who, I regret to say, is no longer in this House, but who was a fairly sensible fellow while he was in it. In volume 29, column 681 of the Official Debates, Deputy Hassett said:

"Take the question of the division of ranches. I come from a district where between 5,000 and 6,000 acres of untenanted land were divided under the British régime. There are thousands of acres of untenanted land which have not been touched by our own Government since they came into office. I have brought every possible pressure to bear upon the Land Commission to take over these ranches, but with little effect, and they offer the most flimsy excuses as to why they should not proceed to take them over. Twelve months ago I put a question on this matter to the Minister for Fisheries. I asked:

‘If he is aware that the Irish Land Commission recently refused to take any portion of the lands owned by Captain Moore, of Mooresfort, Tipperary, for the relief of congestion; if he will state the reason for such refusal; the number of acres at present in the possession of Captain Moore; if he is aware that there are a number of small holders living near this estate; and what steps he proposes to take to bring them up to the economic standard.'

This was the reply of the Parliamentary Secretary:

"‘Proceedings were instituted by the Land Commission under the Land Act, 1923, for the acquisition of 61a. 2r. Op. of the lands of Kilross, on the estate of Captain Moore, Co. Tipperary. The owner objected to the acquisition of the lands, on the grounds that for many years past they had been worked by him as part of his home farm and farming industry generally, including that of a stud farm, and that if he were deprived of the lands the result would be to materially interfere with the stud farm.

"‘The objection came before the Land Commission Court, who, having considered all the circumstances, gave judgement allowing the objection, and the proceedings were in consequence discontinued. In addition to these lands, Captain Moore is returned in the Schedule of Particulars lodged as holding about 722 acres of demesne lands and 5,000 acres of mountain and woods.'"

Here is a man with 5,722 acres in County Tipperary. The Land Commission wanted to take 61 acres from him, and they failed. Then we have Deputies, whether it is through idiocy or not I do not know, getting up and talking about the poor farmer who is going to have his 10 or 15 acres taken from him. It is to meet cases like that that Section 28 was brought into this Bill. It is about time there was a Government here having the pluck to do it. Here is a gentleman with 5,722 acres of land, and we are told by Deputies opposite that it would be wronging him to take some of it from him; that the poor devils whom Deputy Gorey used to talk about here could go to America or hell or Connaught, but the gentleman from Tipperary must keep his 5,722 acres. He kept it for the past 10 years, and Cumann na nGaedheal were unable to take it from him. We will deal with him now. Deputy Hassett went on to say:

"I know that estate particularly well. We asked that a small portion, 61 acres, of that estate, which Captain Moore had been trying to sell, and which was in the public market, should be divided among the small holders in the neighbourhood."

Mind you, here was 61 acres of land, which the owner had been trying to sell and which had been put on the public market. He afterwards went before the appeal tribunal, told them it was portion of his home farm, and that he could not part with it. When the "poor devils" wanted it he said that to them. The tribunal decided that it should not be touched; that he could not part with 61 acres out of 5,722. That is the kind of thing we got——

Might I ask the Deputy if he is suggesting that they had not the power to take it, or if he is suggesting that they acted improperly?

If the Deputy would learn a little more law—he would be far more likely to get it as a farmer— he would not be asking such a leading question.

Why not answer it?

I am giving you the facts, and for the moment I do not grudge you to become the judge yourself and weigh them up. I should like you to weigh up those facts yourself.

The Deputy has had sufficient experience in this House to know that he should not address fellow-Deputies in the second person.

I am sorry, but the Deputy asked me a question. I should like if Deputy MacDermot would weigh up this matter himself. There is a man with 5,722 acres of land. He put 61 acres up for sale in the public market. The Land Commission tried to take 61 acres from him. He immediately opposed their taking it from him, and in the Appeal Court he was held to be right. Judge for yourself whom you will lay the blame on. Deputy Hassett continues:—

"The same thing has been going on in other ranches in my neighbourhood. Take the Timoney estate of 1,200 acres, and the Braddell estate, Two-Mile-Borris, of over 500 acres, non-residential. This gentleman holds another big farm in County Cork, the Trant estate, which has an area of 1,688 English acres."

I am sorry Deputy Roddy is not here. He told us about all the "pull" and influence that would be worked by the Fianna Fáil clubs throughout the country. I am sorry he is not here to listen to this:—

"Only 300 odd acres of this has been taken over for distribution. Through the efforts of the Cumann na nGaedheal clubs, and as a result of different resolutions that were passed and supported by some of us, an inspector from the Land Commission was got down in regard to the Braddell estate. The owner was a cute boy, and though he had not previously resided there, he came up and took possession of a little holding on the place, with the result that the Land Commission declared the property to be a residential holding. That man, as I have said, had a large estate in Cork, to which he went back again soon after, and we have not seen him since."

Back to Cork!

Yes; he has 1,600 acres there, which we hope to divide up one of these days. Here is this gentleman with 1,688 acres in Cork. He had 500 more in Tipperary, and in order to evade the meaning of the Act he went to reside in a cottage on the 500 acres. He stayed there until the coast was clear, and it was adjudged to be a residential holding; then he went back to Cork again. That is just a small instance of the reason why Section 28 is in this Bill. There is another matter. We were accused of every kind of corruption. We were told we wanted lands for our friends; we were told we wanted to give land to landless blackguards all round the country. The people who made these charges were in reality only echoing what they did themselves. They carried out these matters very successfully. What they accuse us of being anxious to do they actually did themselves. I will show what was done with land taken for the relief of congestion by these heroes. It was not the congests who got it. They rewarded their friends very well. I shall give another quotation. I will not take any statement that might be attributed to those wild boys, as we are called in Fianna Fáil. I will give a quotation from Deputy Hassett.

Why is he not here now?

Because the Party opposite took good care he would not be here. He was steamrolled out. Here is what Deputy Hassett said— volume 29, column 683, of the Official Reports:

"We got the Land Commission inspectors to come down there. There are from 100 to 120 small uneconomic holdings there, and after the greatest pressure we got the Land Commission to take the small amount of 325 statute acres, leaving the balance, 1,688 acres, to the descendants of those who turned the people out of their property."

There you have what would be described as another estate divided. Mr. Hassett goes on to say:

"The Land Commission can be very generous with some people in my neighbourhood. There is a district justice living near me, a man who has a salary of roughly £1,000 a year with his expenses, running I suppose into £300 more. He has a beautiful house with about ten rooms, hot and cold water baths, and he has between 50 and 60 acres of land. That gentleman has been allowed by the Land Commission another 351 acres with another beautiful home."

That is the way the land was divided among the congests and the landless men by the Cumann na Gaedheal Party. Now I am not quoting any speech but that of Deputy Hassett, and as we know he was a member of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party in Tipperary, and here is what he says about that transaction:

"I think that was the biggest scandal that was ever perpetrated by the Land Commission. I do not know how anybody could stand over it. It is simply disgusting, because if a man with a smallholding in my county of five or six acres was given a holding in another county he would have to hand over his five or six acres to the Land Commission. He would have to hand over the land out of which he was taken for division among the congests."

We can all understand that. When a congest is taken out of land the land from which he was taken had to be divided among other congests. What happened in this case? Was the land divided up? No, it was not. Mr. Hassett goes on:

"If such a man were given a farm in Westmeath he would have to hand over the few acres he has in my county to the Land Commission, but in this case that man was allowed to sell his very fine mansion at a big price, and in addition he was allowed to sell four or five holdings by public or private auction."

That was the way they divided the land among the congests and landless men, and these are the heroes who now talk of corruption. "He was not asked to give them up. He was a live servant of the Government, I suppose, but when the fight was on against the Black and Tans he was not of much use." That is a statement of the manner in which estates in this country were divided up under the Cumann na nGaedheal Government. These are the people who talk now about corruption and that we are going to give land to cornerboys.

Surely we have to consider a very serious problem in this country. There are 25,000 or 30,000 young men and women growing up every year. The greater portion of them were reared on the land and have no other outlook. They cannot now emigrate to America or any other country. They have to be put upon the lands, and I hope there is some special clause in the Bill that will enable us to take that 351 acres from that district justice and hand it back to those for whom it was intended in the first instance, namely, the congests and the landless men. I hope that individual is not going to be allowed to get away with that loot.

We have to face this problem of dividing up the land. We cannot stand by and allow individuals such as the one to whom I pointed, where the last Government failed to get 61 acres for the congests out of a holding of 5,722 acres, to get away with it. We cannot allow that to continue. We may be told these were the poor peasant proprietors. God knows who has come in under that flag. There are other matters involved in this Bill. There is a special section of the community for whom Deputy Dillon and Deputy MacDermot profess great sympathy when talking of derating, sometimes. They appeal repeatedly on behalf of farmers who were not paying annuities, and they refer to long leaseholders and others. But these people are going to come in now. We have another section of the community, the unfortunate man living near the towns whose land is spoken of as potential building land. He was there, but he could not purchase, and he did not know the day on which he might be thrown out. But he will now be able to come in and purchase his holding independent of any grabbing landlord. We were told in connection with some cases that the judges were giving time in the case of people sued for land annuities. But they would not allow time to the leaseholders who were now lugged in before them. They had to pay on the day the money was due. I saw that a judge in Cork last week, when dealing with such cases said these men were able to go to the dogs, and shows and race meetings, where they could be seen any time. These are matters which we have to consider. We have to consider those who were forgotten during the old days, and who were forgotten under the new régime. For ten years these unfortunate farmers were left without any hope of getting from under the heel of the landlord, they were paying three times the rent they should be paying, and there was no mercy for them. They had a lease, or if they happened to go into a farm on which there was a fairly decent house, they were told it was a residential holding. There was no hope of relief for these poor people. They are brought in now. Then we hear Deputies talking about fixity of tenure for the District Justice with 351 acres, fixity of tenure for the gentleman with 5,700 acres. Peasant proprietors! We had a tale of woe and of misery. We remember those things and we are sick of hearing these things for the last few days. When we look at the position and judge it for ourselves we know where we are. I did not expect anything better from the Centre Party, knowing the actions of these Deputies on previous Land Acts here. I remember a famous case brought in here after a long struggle outside. They had no scruple in decreeing those people. We hear of the special powers being taken under this Bill, and of the power of a sheriff to seize without going into court. The sheriff came into my place and made a seizure without going into court in 1924, just after I had got back from enjoying the hospitality of Deputy Cosgrave. He came to seize for income tax due from 1919 to 1920. For portion of that period I was in Wormwood Scrubbs with Deputy Cosgrave.

I wondered where I had seen you before.

Now you know. You walked out, but I had to do a hunger-strike to get out. The income tax gentleman in that case sent me a notification to pay up and look pleasant. I went to see him and told him that I did not take the farm until June, 1920, and, even then, I was in jail most of the time and had not enjoyed any of the benefits of the holding. He said: "If you do not pay I will have the sheriff sent down to you." I said, "You can sue me in court." He said, "We need not sue you in the court at all." He sent down his sheriffs and bailiffs and two lorries of military to collect the amount. That happened and it can happen again, because you never repealed that particular Act which is there still for the income tax people. That was the only time I ever paid and it is the only time I will ever pay.

You are just showing how dangerous it is to give such powers to the Land Commission. I was placed in the same position myself.

The only time I ever paid was when I owed nothing.

You are just making a very sound argument against this.

I am giving you facts and you can use them. I am not at all surprised at the action of the Centre Party. I remember seeing unfortunate tenants in my constituency decreed by the Land Commission repeatedly— decreed for what annuities? For annuities that were 10 per cent. and 15 per cent. higher than the rent they had been paying to the landlord. These were tenants who got 30 per cent., 35 per cent. and 40 per cent. reduction in 1919 and 1920, who under the benevolent administration of the Hogan Act had the old rent returned to the Land Commission by the landlord as the rent they were paying, while for four years, from 1919 to 1923, they had been paying that reduced rent. In 1923 the landlord returned the old rent to the Land Commission as the rent paid. They got 25 per cent. reduction off that and that left them paying 10 per cent. more to the Land Commission than they had been paying to the landlord. A case came before a Land Commission Court consisting of three fairly honest decent men and that court gave a verdict in favour of the tenant. The case then went to the Court of Appeal and this Court of Appeal, which is supposed to be so upright and honourable that nobody should touch it, turned down the tenant's case. On 18th June, 1931, I brought a Bill into the Dáil to give justice to these tenants. That Bill had the honour of being the first Bill which was objected to on First Reading by the then Government. I sent copies of the Bill to the various Farmers' Unions. The Secretary of the Cork Farmers' Union wrote back stating that his executive examined the Bill, that it was remedying a crying injustice, and that he had written to their Party in the Dáil to vote for it. What did the Farmers' Party do? They went into the Lobby in favour of the landlord against the tenant. These are facts and facts are not nice things. I have the names here. Deputy Holohan is here.

I will give just a case in point in connection with that decision. The tenant was paying £20. He got an abatement of 40 per cent. reducing it to £12 in 1919. The decision stated that for the purpose of compounded arrears of rent and interest in lieu of rent, that is, from 1923 until such time as the land would be vested, the rent would be further reduced to £9, but on vesting the tenant would have to go hack and pay £13. That was the judgment. I shall leave you to judge who was wrong. There was another tenant who was paying £12 rent to the landlord, and it was reduced to £9. By the decision given on the day that land would be vested he would have to go back and pay £13 per year. That was the kind of decision you got under the Hogan Act. Is it any wonder that we are setting up a tribunal which we hope will be fairer than that kind of thing?

I wish Deputies speaking here would at least be fair and not be making charges they cannot substantiate. Any charge I make I can bring evidence to prove it. Deputy Belton to-day, for instance, waxed very eloquent against giving the farmers who owed five or six years' annuity any chance. What do you think of the unfortunate fellow who has been paying ever since 1923, under the Hogan Act, to 1933, 10 per cent. or 15 per cent. more rent to-day than he would pay to the landlord? Is he not to get a chance? Has he no hope? The very individuals who were speaking here, and blaming the economic war for everything, owed the annuities before the economic war started. I do not want to be personal by any means but I want fair play all round, and when they say that this was brought in in order to benefit the followers of Fianna Fáil they are making deliberate misstatements. It will benefit the followers of every Party. I think that the fellow who has been paying this 10 per cent. or 15 per cent. more is entitled to get a chance of coming up again.

Are not the arrears already paid in the collection of rates?

I never——

Face the music. Answer the question.

I never quibbled or refused to answer a question. I admit that the statement is substantially correct.

You have not answered the question yet.

Give him time.

I was asked were not those arrears paid by the rates, and I say that that statement is substantially correct. The case was made that our reason for introducing the Bill was that it would benefit Fianna Fáil supporters. The individual who said that was a person who owed annuities before the economic war came on.

Personal allusions should be avoided in the debate.

I regret, sir, that I went so far outside the rules of debate, but when one is asked a question one has to reply. There is another aspect of this Land Bill for which I should like to get consideration. There are a large number of holdings along by the sea coast and beside large rivers where the sea eats in and where portions of the land are constantly submerged. I know of one particular holding where the occupier is paying land annuity on 47 acres, but where the actual area which he has at present is only 21 acres. No remedy was found for that under the 1923 Act and the landlord was paid the full amount. He was paid for 47 acres, when at that period there were only 30 acres. No relief was given to that tenant under the 1923 Act, the 1927 Act, the 1929 Act, nor under the 1930 Act. No relief, whatsoever, was given to him. That tenant is now brought in and relieved. That unfortunate man, who was paying for 47 acres where he only had 21 acres, is now brought in and given relief. These are points that Deputies should consider when they examine the Bill, if they ever do examine it. Judging from all the speeches I heard here to-day they seem to have hit upon three or four sections for which there is an unanswerable case. They built on these sections and did not look towards the good portions of the Bill at all. I know that the lawyers are squirming over this Bill. It is the biggest wallop the lawyers ever got. We had Deputy Roddy telling us that the proposals contained in Section 27 were considered by the Committee before and were turned down. He informed us afterwards that he had considered them about four years ago and turned them down. Another statement was made here by the former Minister for Agriculture in which he used the very same words. He used the very same words when we brought in the Butter Prices (Stabilisation) Bill. He said: "That scheme was put before me about 12 months ago and I turned it down." If that scheme was not there to-day where would the farmers be? They would be getting 2d. a gallon for their milk. Deputy Roddy turned this down too. I should like to see the lawyers drawing their costs.

Do you approve of that section?

I do. I approve of every section and every clause in it. Everyone of them is wanted, especially at the present time. Perhaps there will be more wanting. I hold that the Bill is a good one and I hold that the Bill was never more needed. It gives the farmers a reduction of 50 per cent. in their annuities.

And it was never more needed.

And it was never more needed, as the Deputy says; but when Deputies opposite speak of hard times for the farmers I ask them what did their Party do?

They did not put the farmers in the position they are in now, at any rate.

When the price of agricultural produce went down by £13,000,000 in five years was there one single step taken by Deputies opposite or by the late Executive Council to give the farmers one bit of relief? I drew £750,000 out of them the year before last, but it was with a corkscrew I had to draw it. We are now giving the farmers 50 per cent. reduction. When we hear that kind of statement and when we hear Deputies talking in that way, we wonder if Deputies opposite are in any way honest. A few nights ago here they gave us a famous statement that was made when they went over to negotiate, which was to the effect that: "Cannot you go hack and knock that cock over with this; it might lead to a settlement of the economic war." It probably would lead to it very quickly if they went over before and got a certain stick to use against the other fellow here, as it was put by the British at the time. Perhaps they went over again. Either they did go over or they are terrible frauds. The guarantee was to be no annuities until the end of 1934 and 50 per cent. reduction then. What were the grounds for that guarantee?

The Deputy is not entitled to demand that information on this Bill, nor would any Deputy be entitled to give him the information.

They claim to be honest and patriotic and, surely, when they are patriotic and honest they will tell us the heads of that agreement. I recommend this Bill to the House as a Bill that is a remedy for grave injustice. It is a good Bill. It is doing the best on behalf of the farming community of this country. It is a Bill, I admit, that the Party opposite could not bring in. I admit that when the Party opposite were in office they were working under a very severe handicap, particularly from 1927 to 1932. In that time they had a very severe handicap because the landlord Party in this country held the balance of power in the Free State and the Government could not be expected to do much. This Bill will do its part now and I hope that Deputy Dillon will take very seriously to heart the position as regards fixity of tenure. I hope he will take that seriously to heart. I have explained as best I could the reason why that particular section has been inserted in that way. It was because those landlords, those peasant proprietors with 5,760 acres or 5,770 acres of land were getting away with that and it was time they were stopped.

I find it rather difficult to bring my mind back to the Land Bill after that rather amusing exhibition by Deputy Corry. I congratulate him on having done his work remarkably well and with far more success, if I may say so, than the Attorney-General. It was quite obvious that both the Attorney-General and Deputy Corry were put up to take the attention of this House off the very exhaustive analysis of this Bill that was made by Deputy Roddy, the ex-Parliamentary Secretary for Lands and Fisheries. Deputy Roddy went through this Bill section by section and clause by clause. He examined it as an expert and he put up some very pertinent questions. The answer of the Government was the procedure that we are getting accustomed to, that was, putting up an expert who in rather a serious way spoke about every subject under the sun except Deputy Roddy's speech and, if I may say so, every subject under the sun except the Land Bill. Then we had Deputy Corry put up to do the same thing in a rather humorous, if less expert, but in a more successful way. I would like at the opening to bring the attention of the House, particularly the attention of the Minister, when he closes this debate, back to the particular statement made by Deputy Roddy. I hope that the Government will not use the same trickery as they did last week of allowing Ministers or Secretaries to escape from the case made. I merely say that in order to switch the attention of the House and the Minister back to that particularly thorough and exhaustive examination of this Bill that was made by Deputy Roddy. I may say that I regard this Bill—and in that I am quite at one with Deputy Corry—as a purely political Bill. It is rather encouraging after a week's debate that we have at last a Deputy standing up on the Government Benches to say that this is a political Bill; that they have nothing to be ashamed of in the fact that it is a political Bill and that they are ready to announce to the world that it is a political Bill. I agree with Deputy Corry there. But I go further, and I regard this Bill as a political Bill and as a particularly corrupt thing. Really dangerous sections of it are hidden and submerged in a mist of words. It is rather a bulky volume. In Bolshevist Russia a Bill containing its provisions would be introduced perhaps in a half-page of foolscap. The Russian Bill would merely declare that half the land of this State belonged to the Government for the time being and would be divided amongst its political supporters. That is all they do in Russia, and all I say about them is that in that they are honest and courageous. They do what they mean to do and they are not ashamed to do it. Here we have every petty attempt to hide the really operative clauses of the Bill and to submerge the intentions behind it. What does this Bill do? It is difficult to follow the Government speeches. In one breath they complain that the division of the land was not sufficient in the years gone by. In the next breath they complain that the land divided was divided at too high a price, and that the persons who got the land could not carry on. On which foot are they standing? Is the real cause that land distribution was too slow and that sufficient land was not divided? And if that is the case, how do they meet Deputy Roddy's assertion that there is something like 250,000 acres in process of purchase; that there are 100,000 acres in the hands of the Land Commission since his time in which the purchase has been completed and that there are 60,000 acres in the hands of the Land Commission for which schemes of division have been prepared?

If there is the acute want of land that we are told necessitated this Bill, and if the urgency is so great, why not subdivide some of that 250,000 acres, the 100,000 acres, or the 60,000 acres that have been there undivided during the full period of the Fianna Fáil administration? There has been scarcely one acre of that land given to those people whom we are told are starving for a little land. What is the explanation? If that land is there undivided, what is the urgency about this Bill? Why is it being rushed now when the Minister responsible for that particular Department is not here to answer to the Dáil and when we have a Minister piloting a Bill who more or less confesses to his ignorance of this subject in the course of the lengthy statement he made to the House on the Second Reading? If there are 60,000 acres in the hands of the Land Commission, for which schemes are prepared, would not the Land Commission and the Government be better engaged subdividing that land amongst uneconomic holders than in rushing a Bill of this kind through the Dáil? Here again we have the old trick of failing to face up to a responsibility. We have somebody else who can reasonably advance the plea that he is not conversant with the subject.

We have in this debate a miserable attempt on the part of the Government to keep itself bolstered up between its predecessors on the one side and the economic war on the other side. As far as we had any reference to this Bill by the Attorney-General, we had the contemptible attempt to shelter behind the Land Act of 1923. The Act of 1923 was introduced by the Government at that time. That Government was not ashamed to stand up to that measure. They did not blame anybody else for it, nor they did not try to excuse themselves in any way either in that or in any other measures they introduced. Let this Government stand for their own measures, and let them tell us even at this stage if this Bill represents their policy with regard to the land. If it does, there is no necessity to shelter behind their predecessors or behind the economic war. Let them sponsor the Bill; let them say that is their policy, and then we can see what are the outstanding features of this Bill.

In this Bill we have an arrangement by which all the rules governing the procedure in the operation and administration of this Bill will be framed by a majority of a Committee consisting of the non-judicial commissioner, the secretary of the Land Commission, and an officer appointed from the Department. The rules will be made by a Committee acting under the Minister, and with this security in advance, that the only big voice that will be heard will be that of the Minister, and the rules relating to finance will be made by the Minister for Finance. This House is asked to consider a Land Bill for the compulsory acquisition of land from the farmers of this country without telling the House one bit about that Finance Bill or how it is proposed to do that when the land is being taken over. We are asked to go into this blindfolded like so many Deputies in blinkers. It may be that so many shares in theIrish Press will pass out to the man deprived of his land, or it may be in the form of token coinage. We are not told how the land is to be paid for. I think, in any business community, if compulsory acquisition or the purchase of any article is being discussed, the first thing the people are entitled to know is the price and the particular type of coinage in which they are to be paid. Here all that is shirked. By virtue of a Parliamentary majority this Bill will be put through; but the Bill will be forced through without any knowledge as to how it is to be paid for.

We have a further section of the Bill giving powers over people's property, powers over the homesteads of Irish men and Irish women. All those powers are to pass over to the temporary political head of a Department and by way of eyewash we are told that there are certain exempted matters, certain matters with which the Minister alone cannot deal, such as from whom the land will be taken, the price to be paid for the land and exactly what particular person will get the land. We are told that these are excepted matters. These excepted matters merely go out by one door and back by a back-door to the Minister's office. These excepted matters are referred to a special tribunal called the appeal tribunal. That appeal tribunal consists of two officials nominated by the Minister, plus a judicial commissioner. The proviso is laid down that a majority of the three will be the deciding factor. In advance it is secured that an absolute majority of the three will be nominated by the Minister to do the Minister's work and will be removable by the Minister if they do not do his work. I think the farmers of Ireland would rather have no safeguards than that kind of safeguard that is merely a humbug. There again I think it would be more decent and more courageous for the Minister to do away with these exceptions and retain all those powers for himself. There is no real safeguard there. The real safeguard that was there is deliberately removed, and now we have a majority of that committee consisting of removable nominees of the Minister.

We have a further section in this Bill dealing with arrears of land annuities. So far as I understand the matter, arrears of land annuities prior to three years ago are to be completely forgiven and arrears of land annuities which accrued in the last three years are to be funded. I would like some justification for that. Is it the pricking of a guilty conscience? Is it the uneasy conscience stimulated by the knowledge that the arrears which occurred between 1923 and 1929 were the direct result of the gospel preached by the Fianna Fáil Leader, and is it because of that that we have a complete forgiveness of the arrears prior to 1930? If it is not that, what is the explanation? Why should people who failed to pay their land annuities when there was no economic war, when prices may have been poor but the markets were open and no tariffs were operating against the farmer—why should people who went into arrears during such a period have their arrears completely wiped out, whereas those who went into arrears during the period of the economic war, when the markets were practically closed against them and when they were trying to throw their produce over an impossible tariff wall, have got to pay up every penny by way of a funding arrangement? I think some explanation is due to the House in defence of that particular discrimination. It would strike me that if there is to be any discrimination it should be the other way about entirely. That discrimination should be in favour of the individual who ran into arrears during the period when his produce was carrying an impossible tariff. That is the point I raise in the hope of getting some information from the Minister when he is closing the debate.

I regard this Bill as sounding a very definite retreat. I believe that the Bill sounds a retreat back to a period prior to the passage of the first Land Act. I believe this Bill is undoing all the work of our fathers and our grandfathers. I believe this Bill is trampling on the graves of all the great patriots who took part in the land struggle in the past. When I want information as to the sentiments that stimulated those men or the object that bound them together I would rather have those sentiments expressed to me by a Dillon or a Davitt rather than by a Ruttledge or a Corry. I listened to the Minister for Justice here last week when he told us that the land war was a war to place the very small farmer in his holding and that it was never fought in the interest of the bigger farmers. I differ absolutely from the Minister for Justice in that interpretation of the spirit of the land war.

The spirit that animated those who took part in the land war was a spirit of unity and cohesion. Farmers of all classes, farmers of all creeds, big farmers and little farmers, farmers' labourers and townsmen, were all knit together in one great national movement and it comes very badly from this Dáil in the year 1933, 12 years after the establishment of an Irish Government in an Irish State, for anyone to stand up and belittle that movement and the founders of that movement. It was a great movement of masses and classes and that is why it won out. The desire and the ambition of those who participated was to make the Irishman's home his castle, to plant the Irishman down with deep roots in the land and to make the purchased tenant in this country as fixed in his land as the Rock of Gibraltar. When land was acquired and when land division took place then the benefits flowed further and you had 40,000 agricultural labourers placed in decent cottages with a plot of land at the back. Such work would have been impossible but for the Land Acts and the victory won by those who participated in the land war. I think it is about time that that particular expression of the Minister for Justice was challenged in this House. It is unfair to those who participated in that war and it certainly is rather loose and a rather anti-national interpretation of the spirit of the land war.

Under this particular Bill one of the things that will strike the country most harshly is the particular powers which the Land Commission takes of seizing the stock of a farmer who goes into arrears, and seizing that stock by merely sending a chit down to an officer in the county. Heretofore persons in default had an opportunity of going into court, asking for time and explaining, if they could, the failure to pay the annuities. They were brought into court, remember, after they had put up their case to the Land Commission; the Land Commission then brought them into court. The result of such court proceedings, so far as I know, was that in nine cases out of ten time was given to the farmer to pay. Now we have the proposal that the Minister can not only wade in and take anybody's land but that he can wade in and take it at the price ruling at that particular date; and that, following a campaign to reduce the value of land and everything associated with land. I think there is a fair case to say that no such Bill as this should be considered as long as the economic war lasts. No matter which side is responsible for the economic war the facts are that there is an economic war between this country and Great Britain; that the chief losers in that economic war are the farmers of Ireland; that one of the direct results of the economic war is a slump in prices of agricultural produce; and that another result is to reduce correspondingly the value of land. There is no denying that, as I say in such circumstances, with stock value reduced to rock-bottom figures and with land values reduced to rock-bottom figures it is nothing short of criminal for any Government to take advantage of such a situation to go in and take the land from the farmers at the present value of land.

We have listened to some very able and some very lengthy speeches on this Bill. I am opposed to this Bill, and I propose to state the reasons for my opposition as briefly as I possibly can. It is not easy at this stage to make new points, but I shall try to crystallise in as few words as I can my main objections. I should like to say that I have sought to approach the matter as impartially as I possibly could. I am, by sentiment and upbringing, a radical. When I hear rights of property pleaded on the one side against the greatest good of the greatest number on the other side, my prejudice would rather lead me to take the side of the greatest good of the greatest number. When I hear much talk of the sanctity of property rights, when I hear expressions about the right of every man to do what he likes with his own, and "What I have I hold," my natural tendency is to be on the opposite side to the people who use such expressions. I think I can fairly say that I approached this measure in a spirit of impartiality. Having given to it as much attention as I am capable of, and having read and listened to all I could read or listen to about it, I must say that I am convinced that the Bill is a bad one. I object to it in the first place because it is untimely. In the second place, so far as I have been able to judge up to the present, it is economically unsound. I object to it in the third place because it gives power to the Executive which I believe it to be politically and morally unhealthy for the Executive to have. As regards its untimeliness, Deputy O'Higgins has just put it to the House that at a moment when the value of land is abnormally depressed it is unfair to proceed with the compulsory acquisition of land on the basis of prices which at present might be considered to represent the market value. I agree with that, and I think he might have gone a step further. I think he might have considered the same point from the angle of the people who are to be put on that land. Is it fair, just or reasonable to those people to embark them on this experiment? Is it reasonable to settle them on the land until you have provided some sort of market for what you expect them to produce? Have you at present got sufficient markets for what we are producing? If you have not, where is the justification for putting a number of congests or landless men in possession of more land, inviting them to embark on a course of speculation and to produce things which they will not be able to sell at a profit? So much for untimeliness.

What about the general question of the economic soundness of this policy? We have been told by several speakers that it is the logical continuation of the Act of 1923. It seems to me a waste of time to argue whether it is or is not the logical continuation of the Act of 1923. I was not called upon to consider the Act of 1923 at the time, but I certainly would say that if this Act is the logical and inevitable continuation of the Act of 1923, then the Act of 1923 was a bad Act. I look at this Bill on its own merits, and I say on its merits that it is bad. It is a matter of indifference whether or not it is the lineal successor of the Act of 1923. It appears to me that in voting for or against this Bill we are voting for or against the question as to whether Parnell was right in his views about the economics of this country. Every vote given in favour of this Bill is, to my mind, a vote in favour of the view that Parnell was wrong. It is a vote in favour of the view that instead of its being the best practical policy for a man to feel secure in the possession of his land, the whole land system of this country should be in a perpetual state of uncertainty. There is nothing temporary about this Bill. The powers which are being taken are apparently being taken for all time. There is no limitation to the period during which a man with a small amount of land may be whisked away from one end of Ireland to another at the decision of the Land Commission, perhaps inspired by the Minister. When people talk so much about lazy ranchers and so forth, about the necessity for taking away the land from people who use it badly and giving it to others who, it is hoped, will use it well, I think it is extraordinary that absolutely no weight whatever is given to the ordinary forces of economics; that it is not considered that in the case of land, as in the case of other things, the man who is lazy and inefficient will go to the wall; that in course of time the land will pass out of his hands into the hands of other people who are more capable of working it efficiently. I do not say that that happens as rapidly or inevitably as one would wish, but I would trust largely to automatic causes of that kind for securing that the land of this country was properly utilised rather than to the arbitrary decisions of whatever Government might be in power at the time.

It is not as if Irish history was a history of all sorts of evils arising from people having too firm a grip upon the land. Of course we all agree as to the evil that arose out of the landlord system. But taking Irish history as a whole there has been a series of upsets. Ownership of land was in the melting pot stretching away back Heaven knows how long in Irish history. The closest parallel to what is attempted to-day, that is the attempt to upset the whole land policy followed by Parnell and his successors, is what occurred in the reign of James I. The English land system was then introduced and individual title to land was created in Connaught and land distributed amongst big people and small people. Not many years later, because it happened to suit English policy, Strafford, who represented British rule in this country, had all these titles invalidated and the system of land tenure was thrown into the melting pot again. It seems to me that the closest parallel to that is what the Government is attempting at the present moment. This Bill is a right-about-face and a complete upset of what has been accomplished hitherto. I see no finality in this measure and, as I have already put it, it seems to me to imply that the Irish land system will be in a state of perpetual flux.

I do not want to be understood as saying that in no circumstances must a holder of land be interfered with at all. I think that in the case of land, as in the case of all other property, but particularly in the case of land which is so fundamental to the community, the Government has a right to intervene if that property is being used in a definitely anti-social manner. But that is a thing that arises, in my opinion, rarely and any interference of this sort with the ownership of property, whether landed or other property, must be hedged round with close restrictions. Otherwise the power of interference is certain to be abused. As a general proposition, if we desire to promote the happiness and prosperity of this country and the best use of the land, I maintain the less State interference with the individual the better. I am certain that is a true and sound proposition.

Advocacy of this Bill as the logical successor to the Act of 1923 leaves me unmoved, because I should oppose it even if it was, but in such advocacy certain things are left out of account. There are certain things in this Bill of which I have heard no defence yet. I am waiting with interest to hear if there will be any defence of them. One is that while increased powers and responsibilities are taken for the Land Commission, simultaneously increased power over the Land Commission is taken by the Government. It is true that the Attorney-General suggested that Deputy Costello had said that the powers of the Government had not really been increased over the Land Commission, but I prefer to take as the proper authority the Acting-Minister for Lands and Fisheries, who introduced this Bill. He certainly represented that the Government were taking increased power over the Land Commission and that it was desirable so to do. I maintain that at the moment when you are increasing, to the extent you are, the powers and responsibilities of the Land Commission itself, that is the very time when instead of clothing itself with more power over the Land Commission, the Government should reduce its power over the Land Commission. The more responsibility the Land Commission has for exercising justice amongst the citizens of this country, the more its operations are extended, as Deputy Hogan pointed out, to questions involving the entire possessions of many citizens of this country, the more they should be freed not only from Government control, but from the semblance of Government control.

Another point. What is the justification for the abolition of the arrangement in regard to land such as home farms and residential holdings that such land should not be taken if other suitable land in the locality was available? Why is that swept away? Deputy Hogan asked that question but no answer was given. I cannot imagine what answer could be given except the general one that the Government wished to throw over every restriction. The third point that seems to be as outstandingly objectionable is that the judicial powers to be exercised are to be exercised by people who are removable. We all remember how resident magistrates used to be sneered at as removable magistrates. Now, instead of the citizens of this country being able to rely upon the protection which consists in having their cases disposed of by judicial authority, not removable at the will of the Government, we are to have two commissioners associated with the judicial commissioner, who are removable if the Government so desires. I cannot imagine what satisfactory explanation there is for that change, or how it will be maintained that it is a necessary or logical development of the 1923 Act. May I say again, in relation to the 1923 Act, that we have really heard extremely little from the Government about that Act or its working. Coming in here more or less as a newcomer, hoping to have a full picture of the situation given when this Bill was introduced, I was extremely disappointed not to hear anything in the nature of a lucid account of what had come about as a result of the 1923 Act, to what extent that Act had been a success, or to what extent the Land Commission was crowded up with more work than it could do, to what extent the Government had bitten off more than they could chew. If this was merely a Bill intended to enable the Land Commission to chew what was already bitten off we should be supporting it. It seems to me that this Bill means that the Land Commission are again going to bite off more than they can chew. It seems to me that it will plunge the Land Commission into a morass more deeply than ever before. We should like to know how much land is already in their hands waiting to be divided up, how much has been offered to them for voluntary purchase, and what has been the fate of people settled on the land under the 1923 Act, before we are asked to pass such a Bill as this giving tremendous additional powers of compulsory acquisition.

I think that is as much as I shall say about the general economic policy of the Bill. I want to say just a few words with reference to its political aspect. I think it was really a very great pity that the Attorney-General was not here to hear Deputy Corry's speech. The Attorney-General had told us that the Land Commission had always been above all suspicion of being influenced by the Government of the day; that they had carried out their work on business principles and in a satisfactory manner and that he had no doubt that they would continue doing so in future as in the past. Deputy Corry told us quite flatly that the land purchase conducted under the 1923 Act had been corruptly conducted under undue influence from the Cumann na nGaedheal Government. He did not put a tooth in it; he said it quite clearly. He made it equally clear that "we," Fianna Fáil, were going to have things conducted in "our" way from now on. Nobody could have made it clearer than he did that, in his opinion, the Land Comission had been the tool of the Cumann na nGaedheal Government, and that it was going to be, and that he desired it to be, the tool of the Fianna Fáil Government in the future.

He did not put it that way.

I am sure he would not like that way of expressing it, but it is the only possible meaning to attach to his speech.

I take it he said that it was certain Imperial interests that controlled the Cumann na nGaedheal Government.

Ministers affect to be exceedingly distressed when anyone suggests that the administration of this Bill will be conducted on Party lines. If that is suggested, they have nobody to blame but themselves and their own followers. The Minister for Agriculture himself went galloping around the country and, amid the delighted cheers of his supporters, told all and sundry that this new Land Bill was going to result in taking away land from the ignoble persons in the Cumann na nGaedheal and Centre Parties and giving it to others more deserving. If, at the very moment when the Government wanted to put the best face on this Bill, he could not resist saying that to please his own supporters, how are we to expect that the Government will resist the temptation to administer the Act when it is on the statute book in the way their own supporters would like them to administer it? What is the driving force behind this Bill? You have only to read the speeches of Fianna Fáil back benchers and the articles in Fianna Fáil papers throughout the country and you will see that the driving force behind this Bill is Party spite plus Bolshevistic sentiment. That is without question the driving force behind it. I see every day allusions to the Imperialists that are to be driven out by the Land Bill, the demesne walls that are to be levelled and the Imperialists driven out——

A Deputy

Why should they not?

Exactly, why should they not? If a man is dealing with his land in an anti-social manner I have already agreed that, in principle, and subject to proper safeguards, I have no objection to the State taking such action as shall stop him from dealing with it in an anti-social manner. But it is perfectly plain to me that there is much more than that in the minds of the bulk of the people supporting this Bill, perfectly plain even from the speech of Deputy Corry when he spoke in a voice of horror of anybody possessing more than a certain amount of land. I should like to know whether, in the view of the Minister, or in the view of the Government, the owning of a large amount of land by one individual is in itself a bad thing or a criminal thing, provided that the land is so used as to give a proper amount of employment. Supposing a man has a thousand acres and, because he is prepared to run the place at a loss, because, perhaps, he has got an income from dividends on stocks and shares, or for whatever reason, he is prepared to employ more men than could in fact be provided for on that land if it were taken from him and split up, I should like to know what is the view of the Government upon the situation.

Will the Deputy himself consider any maximum reasonable?

I would not consider any maximum required at all if the land was giving its full quota of employment. I am very much afraid of State interference. But, in so far as the State has a view about how land should be used, and in so far as the State interferes in order to enforce that view, my principle would be that the amount of employment the land provides should be the test.

Then the Deputy does not believe in the principle of distributism?

I do not understand what the principle of distributism is.

Distribution of property.

To take it from Peter and give it to Paul.

I am not so sure that Deputies are not sneering at the doctrines of the Catholic Church.

Bring in the Pope.

I am afraid the principle of distribution is too vague a one for me to deal with. I am no lover of extremes of wealth on the one hand and extremes of poverty on the other. I think I have made it clear that I have no undue respect for the sanctity of property rights as such. But I do not believe that State interference, as a general practice, works well. I do not believe that the sight of demesne land ought to excite a frenzy of indignation in any one's mind. I believe that people should be satisfied if they are conscious of the fact that land is being reasonably used and is giving a reasonable amount of employment. I wonder again what the policy of the Government would be. This Bill is really extremely empty in some respects. It gives you no idea of what the thoughts in the minds of the Government are about how land should be used and what principles should be applied in order to provide that it is used in a satisfactory manner. I heard Deputy Davin make a speech on this Bill which was nominally in support of the Bill but, as a matter of fact, I thought the speech extremely damaging to the Bill, because he pointed out a number of important practical difficulties, including the difficulty that a great many of the men hitherto settled upon land had failed, either from lack of skill or from lack of adequate capital. He said that while he made all these specific objections to what was in the Bill, nevertheless, he was in favour of the policy aimed at by the Bill. The usual reference of the Labour Party to a Governemnt measure is to the policy "enshrined" in it, which seems to me to give a most undeserved odour of sanctity to Fianna Fáil legislation. On this occasion, the Deputy did not use the word "enshrined," or even use the more natural expression "embodied" in the Bill. He said the policy aimed at by the Bill. He gave us no hint as to what the policy aimed at is. I do not really know what is the policy aimed at by the Bill, unless it is, which I strongly suspect it to be, that the Government, for political purposes, desire to be in a position at any given moment to take land away from A and give it to B because it suits them to do so. I should like, for instance, to know what their view is with regard to the small holders— the settlers that are to be put in— supposing they are using the land in an uneconomic manner and that their system of farming is unsatisfactory. Is it only unsatisfactory farming in the case of the lazy ranchers, or is it unsatisfactory farming by anybody who happens to be lazy or shiftless, or inefficient, that is to come under the attention of the Government and to call for action by the Government?

I have spoken for a longer time than I intended to speak. I feel that this Bill confers far more wide-spreading powers on the Executive than it is at all healthy for the Executive to have. I feel that we have ample evidence from the speeches of the Government's own supporters up and down the country that the greatest pressure will be put on the Government to misuse those powers even if they start off by trying not to misuse them. I feel that there is not enough in the Bill to guide them as to their proper use, and, as nature abhors a vacuum, that that vacuum created by the absence of guiding principles in the Bill will be filled by the Fianna Fáil clubs.

I suppose this Bill will pass. It is one link in the chain of measures by which Fianna Fáil are putting a stranglehold upon every department of life in this country. I suppose the cause of individualism is a lost cause. I suppose the cause of enabling a man to feel that if he works hard and is thrifty and honest he is not going to be disturbed in his land by anybody, is a lost cause. Like an ancestor of mine who was hanged by Queen Elizabeth, I was educated in a university which gloried in the reproach of being the home of lost causes. I have lived long enough to see many a lost cause triumph, and to see victory often snatched from the ashes of defeat. I doubt if the policy that the Government are inaugurating in this Bill is really going to be tolerated for very long. I doubt it greatly. We had some remarks here the other night by the President of the Executive Council about invaders and intruders. I thought the remark came oddly from him, applied as it was applied to about a quarter of the population of this country because they were of British stock. I do not think it will come oddly from the Irish farmer, if he finds his land taken from him by politicians, to consider the politicians as invaders and intruders and I think he will know in the long run how to defend himself and repel the politicians.

One of the points raised by Deputy MacDermot and other Deputies in this debate is that this Bill is untimely. Deputy MacDermot knows, I am sure, and the other Deputies know it also, that legislation is necessary to give the benefit of the 60 per cent. reduction on the annuities. That is, of course, the main provision in this Bill—that the annuities of the farmers are being reduced by 50 per cent. It means, in effect, a gain of £2,000,000 per year to agriculture in this country, which gain would have been impossible were it not for the policy adopted by the Government in keeping these annuities at home. At any rate, the first and most important matter dealt with in this Bill is the halving of the annuities. The second most important matter dealt with is the provisions which will expedite the division of land. Deputy MacDermot asked what was the experience under the 1923 Act. I have not got tables or figures, but I know that the division of land was not being proceeded with at a satisfactory rate. Any Deputy who cares to look at the Order Paper here any day will realise that, because there is no Minister in the Government who gets so many questions addressed to him as the Minister for Lands and Fisheries. All these questions are asked with the view of getting information with regard to delays in the division of land. The principal complaint against the Land Commission always has been the complaint of delays in the division of land. Every Deputy representing a country constituency is continually getting letters from his constituents asking when is such and such an estate being divided. I am quite sure that if any Deputy went to the trouble of going back over the Order Papers for the last three or four months he would find that these questions were not coming entirely from Fianna Fáil supporters, but from supporters of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party, the Centre Party and the Labour Party. These complaints were coming just as much to Deputies opposite as to Deputies on this side of the House.

There are clauses in this Bill which we need not discuss in detail now, but which can be discussed line by line on the Committee Stage. These clauses were inserted as being, in our opinion, the most effective way in which the division of land could be speeded up. Some Deputies here who opposed this Bill, if they only examined the question, will have to admit, I think, that they are against the division of land if they do want these provisions inserted, because I have never heard a Deputy in this House yet when we were in Opposition and the other Party were on this side of the House, or since the other Party went across to the other side of the House, saying that the division of land was going on in a satisfactory way. I think that any Deputy, if he were asked the question, would say that it was not going on in a satisfactory way. I think that any Deputy, if he were asked whether he thought the question of the relief of congestion was being dealt with in the manner in which it was expected to be dealt with ten years ago, would admit that it was not being dealt with in a satisfactory way. Every Deputy knows quite well that that problem was not being dealt with properly. Every Deputy will admit, I think, that the Land Commission were doing their best under the powers they had, so that if Deputies oppose the extended powers that we are looking for in this Act they are in reality opposing any satisfactory solution either of the problem of congestion or of the division of land. Of course, they will not say that. No Deputy from Connaught on the Cumann na nGaedheal side will say that he does not want congestion dealt with. They will say how unfair the provisions of this Bill are politically, and so on. They will make general charges of that nature and will not come down to the concrete question and point out to us how the thing could be done in any other way so as to speed up the problem of the division of land and of congestion. Let them point out how it can be dealt with in another way—keep the Government out of it altogether, if you like—but let us have an alternative. All they are prepared to do is to sling charges against the Government of political motives and so on.

There are Deputies who implied by their speeches, at any rate, that the division of land, or a further division of land is not necessary. Deputy MacDermot, for instance, gave the case of the owner of 1,000 acres who might be able, through his private means or in some other way, to give good employment and keep a number of families in better circumstances than they would be in, if the land were divided amongst them, and he asked what would be our opinion. As far as I am concerned I would advise them to work for that man as long as he could pay the wages There may be some exceptions in the way the Deputy mentions. There may be a farmer with a large farm here and there who is paying very good wages, and if the farm were divided up amongst those people they might not be so well off as they were. I think that is the type of farm with which the Land Commission would not interfere. As I have already pointed out there are certain phrases about proper methods of husbandry in the Bill as in the previous Acts. They have been interpreted in a certain way by the Land Commission, and there is no suggestion that they will not be interpreted in the same way in future.

What about the magic of property that we heard so much about to-day? A 1,000 acre farm would make a good many economic holdings.

Dr. Ryan

In the Land Act of 1923 there was a clause inserted that land could be taken from people in the interests of food production of the country. If we had put such a section in this Bill we would be told that the Minister for Lands and Fisheries would interpret that in such a way that he would wipe out all his political opponents.

A Deputy

The landless people would be satisfied if they had sufficient land to grow food for themselves.

To grow thistles.

Dr. Ryan

You will not be allowed to grow thistles now. That is one of the things we stopped. I would like to refer to the returns with regard to the size of the holdings, the production of animals and farm produce per 1,000 acres. These are taken from the census of 1926 under the Cumann na nGaedheal Government. Anybody who would look at these figures would be firmly convinced that the division of land is desirable in every way. Here is what we find: two-thirds of the rural population of this country were living on one-third of the land, and the other one-third of the rural population is living on two-thirds of the land. This one-third of the land on which two-thirds of the population is living is the poorest part in the country. It is in the congested and poorer land that two-thirds of the rural population is living. Then when we see how they are living we find that these people in the small holdings are producing more per acre on the poorer land than the other people are producing on the good land where the population is not so congested. Deputy Belton made the point that we were anxious to have more tillage. We would not break up the ranches without producing more tillage. Deputy Hogan made the point that if we were to take away the land from the ranchers to any great extent we would deprive the labourer of his living. But in these returns we find there is much more employment per 1,000 acres on the small farms than on the big farms. It is a remarkable fact with regard to production that in every single thing with the exception of two-year-old cattle and sheep production increases as the size of the farm goes down. We find from these returns that tillage increases inversely with the size of the holding; hay increases inversely with the size of the holding; milch cows increase, pigs increase, poultry increases and the total number of cattle reared increase with the size of the holding. The only exceptions are, as I have mentioned. That is because in small holdings they do not keep so many sheep and so many two-year olds. It is desirable, therefore, in the interests of production to have small holdings, and it is certainly more desirable from the point of view of meeting the increased population that is inevitable in a country where emigration is denied.

Might I ask a question? Why is it with a number of farms advertised for sale throughout the country that the Land Commission do not go down and buy up and divide those farms amongst the congests?

Dr. Ryan

Does the Deputy mean land offered for sale on the market?

Dr. Ryan

The Land Commission has no power to buy land on the market. They must take the land according to the procedure laid down. They cannot go into an auctioneer's room and buy land. Deputy MacDermot says that in this Bill there is no finality. I do not think there is. Nobody would expect finality in the matter of the land problem. It would be very foolish to do so. This matter of land purchase has gone along by evolution from somewhere back in the 'seventies up to the present.

And now it is going back to the position it was in in the 'seventies.

Dr. Ryan

I would not say that; it will go forward until the Centre Party comes into power.

That will not be long.

Dr. Ryan

There are certain small points in this Bill with which I do not want to deal to any great extent. Certain injustices are removed with regard to mill holdings. Derelict holdings, submerged lands and potential building land are dealt with in the Bill. These are matters that, perhaps, can be better dealt with in Committee. They do not arise to any great extent on the principle of the Bill and they have not been referred to by any speaker on the opposite side.

A question that has been referred to at great length was the question of the arrears. Deputies opposite say that we are almost immoral when we are putting down a rule that we will not go back beyond three years in funding the arrears. I agree with Deputy O'Higgins that it is no defence at all to say that we are sheltering ourselves behind what was done in the 1923 Act. I would not like to have to defend our actions by sheltering in any way behind the Cumann na nGaedheal Government actions. But where you have practically what is a precedent, that is a principle in all the Land Acts that preceded this Land Bill, it is a different matter.

In practically every Bill that preceded this you had the principle that some relief should be given in the way of arrears of annuities. When we came in we followed this rule and we are taking three years arrears. Any thing over that was forgiven. We thought that we would do the same as was done in previous Acts. We did not want to be less generous than the British Government or the Cumann na nGaedheal Government. It may have been, perhaps, wrong to forgive the people those three years. I know there are people with seven or eight years' arrears and some even with 20 years' arrears. But if you go much beyond three years you will be bringing the annuity to be paid when this Bill goes through to practically the level at which it stood before. What would happen may be that in five or six years' time that holding may change hands and the new owner will then say: "Here I am paying 15/- an acre and my neighbour is only paying 8/- or 9/-. This is an injustice." Very likely in four or five years' time some Government would have to bring in a Bill to make this injustice right just as we had to bring in a Bill to give relief to people who got land under the 1923 Act and which was distributed by our predecessors. Looking at it from the point of view of the Land Commission, the position is that there is a large number of years of arrears, and if these were added the rent charged would be as high, if not higher, after the reduction as it was some years before. In that way in a few years we would create a position when the holding would not be a security to the Land Commission for the amount due. We had to draw the line somewhere. We had to go back to ten years or five years or somewhere. In all the circumstances the precedent of the previous Bills was adopted and that was to make it three years. I did not find it possible to be present last Thursday when this Bill was debated, but I read the papers afterwards and I gathered what was the criticism offered to this Bill.

I have been here most of the day and I have heard criticisms which were much the same as were submitted on the last day. There has been really no great criticism levelled against the Bill. There has been that general sort of camouflage about politics, injustice, doing away with security of tenure, Bolshevism, confiscation, and so on. There were general charges, but no attempt on the part of any speaker to point out where they were contained in the Bill; no attempt to support any charge. Deputy Hogan said it was purely a political Bill, that it would do no good but would do unlimited harm and unlimited injustice. I remember distinctly the first Bill I brought in here, the Dairy Stabilisation Bill, and Deputy Hogan said the very same things about it—that it would do no good, but a lot of harm and that it was a political stunt. He described the Cereals Bill as a political Bill brought in to please the barley growers and, as he called them, a few mugs.

And the poor have to pay.

Dr. Ryan

I knew very well Deputy Hogan would say the same things about this Bill. He did tell us that it was a political Bill to help Fianna Fáil supporters and that it would do a lot of harm in the country. He said the Dairy Stabilisation Bill was a thoroughly bad Bill. As regards this Bill, he mentions that no matter how drastically it will be administered it will benefit very few people. As regards security of tenure, Deputy Hogan did not stress that very much. I suppose he feels he was the first offender in that respect.

Deputy Costello made a most extraordinary statement—if the newspapers reported him correctly. I will quote theIrish Times, because it may, perhaps, be regarded more as the official organ of Cumann na nGaedheal than any other paper. He is there reported as saying: “Under Section 28, if a farmer with a farm of less than £2,000 is carrying it on in a way that the nominee of the Minister thinks is not the way an ordinary farm should be carried on, the Land Commission, under the direction of the Minister, can acquire the land, may retain it and give him nothing whatever in return.” Surely, Deputy Costello, if he had read the Bill, would have seen that the owner of the land must be paid in land or bonds. If land is taken from an individual because he is not using it in a proper way, it certainly cannot be taken without giving something in return. He must get either land or bonds.

What price will the Commissioner fix on the land he is going to take over?

Dr. Ryan

The market value. The Land Commission will decide that. Deputy Belton, who made a record speech for this House, used a good many of the arguments that he submitted when my estimate was being considered and he used similar arguments on the Agricultural Products (Exports) Bill, the Musk Rats Bill and some other measures. There was one statement of his that I caught. He said that it was a fallacy to think that by dividing land we could increase village. He went on to say that better employment was given by the large farmer—it was practically the same point as that made by Deputy MacDermot—and that the men who were working for large farmers were better off than if they were living on small farms, the big farm being divided. Perhaps in some places and with some employers that is true, but if such cases are there, I am sure the Land Commission is not going to interfere with them. But when we take other cases, the case, for instance, of a man with 1,300 acres in County Roscommon, where it is impossible to get the land from him and where he is not employing anybody, why should not the Land Commission get power to take such land and divide it amongst the congests who are getting nothing from the owner of that land at present?

In reply to Deputy Belton's argument that we would not get more tillage, I would like to point out that when the large estate is divided into 30 or 40 acre lots the smallholders would naturally have much more production. They would go into the production of pigs, poultry, mixed farming, perhaps dairying, and the rearing of cattle and sheep.

The Minister has laboured the question of production. Three months ago I asked him about the price of oats in Donegal and he told me flatly he did not believe me when I said oats were sold there at 6d. He declared the price was 9d. Is the rest of his story about production on the same lines? Just let us get down to pure facts.

Dr. Ryan

I am talking about production. The Deputy is talking about prices.

Production and prices have a very strong relation to one another.

Dr. Ryan

I told the Deputy on another occasion that I did not believe oats were being sold for that price in Donegal, and I do not believe it yet. I have been interested in several enquiries about oats in Donegal.

I still adhere to what I said on the last occasion. At the time the question was asked oats were sold at 6d. in Donegal. They will not fetch that to-day.

That will be a good price for them next year.

The wish is father to the thought in your case.

I grow more oats than you do.

Dr. Ryan

It is a pity that Deputy O'Leary would not put all these interruptions into a speech.

I did make a speech sometime ago, and the Minister was unable to reply.

Dr. Ryan

I was accused by Deputy MacDermot of making an inciting speech to the effect that land would be taken from his followers and the followers of Cumann na nGaedheal under this Bill. Unfortunately the daily Press thought it a good point that we should take the land from the followers of Cumann na nGaedheal and the Centre Party and distribute it amongst congests and uneconomic holders, but they did not report me in full. I have here a copy of the local paper which, perhaps, gives the speech more fully. It is unfair to quote a person out of the context. I was talking about all the benefits that we have conferred on the community about the old age pensioners, the people who require houses, the disabled and the wounded in the War for Independence, and then I came to the farmers who had lost their living, especially, as they said, after the last election. There are people who say they are very poor and cannot go on any longer. I declared that we were going to do something for them, too. I said a good many followers of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party and the Centre Party complained that they could not carry on. I said we had no malice against these men, and that we were prepared to give them a good price for their land if they were not able to continue to work it. I also said: "If there is a poor farmer who is a follower of Fianna Fáil and who cannot make his farm pay, we will take it from him and give him a good price for it, too." I did not leave them out. If there are benefits going I do not see why the Fianna Fáil supporters should not get them as well. I said that in Clonmel, and it is theClonmel Nationalist, if Deputies want to see it.

That is theClonmel Chronicle the Minister has got.

Dr. Ryan

Perhaps it is. I have onlyClonmel on it and I do not know what the second word is. At any rate, it is one of the local papers. The next point is about the appeal tribunal, which has been criticised severely. The charge is that we are putting in removable men to sit on that tribunal. Our predecessors had removable men also. The Land Commissioners were appointed by the Executive Council, were removable by the Executive Council and were, in fact, removed by the Executive Council.

But the judicial commissioner was not removable.

Dr. Ryan

The judicial commissioner was not removable. I will come to the appeal tribunal in one minute. We had the Land Commissioners removable by the Executive Council at their will. If we liked we could say—but of course we would not say it—that they had to do what the late Executive Council told them. That is the suggestion from Cumann na nGaedheal now that those men will have to do what we tell them.

It is in the Bill this time.

Does the Minister hear Deputy Corry behind him? He should hearken to the words of wisdom.

Dr. Ryan

The appeal tribunal can decide as to whether the land shall be taken or not. On matters of price it is referred to the judicial commissioner only. Exception has been taken——

No. A question of law is decided by——

Dr. Ryan

We know all that. Do not go over it again. It is unfair for Deputies to go out for four or five hours and then come back when the question has been completely explained by the Attorney-General and raise the matter again.

I did not want to insult the Minister and I apologise to him. I am sure he did not mean to make the slip he has made that the question of law is decided by the judicial commissioner.

He has not read the Bill of course.

Dr. Ryan

The question of law is decided by the judicial commissioner when it has been referred to him as a question of law.

Provided the lay member agrees——

Dr. Ryan

Provided the lay member agrees that it is a question of law, but the judicial commissioner decides then. Deputies opposite object to two laymen sitting with the judicial commissioner and deciding whether land should be taken or not.

Dr. Ryan

Then it is all right. I I need not develop that point.

A layman deciding what is a question of law.

Dr. Ryan

Then we are all agreed——

No, we are not.

Dr. Ryan

We are all agreed that the judicial commissioner, with two laymen sitting beside him, can decide whether the land should be taken or not.

Deputies

No!

Dr. Ryan

They are not sure which to say.

The Minister is not sure about the section.

Dr. Ryan

I am sure what is in the Bill is right. There is no objection to 12 laymen taking away the life of a man.

There would be if the jury were packed.

A Deputy

What about the Military Tribunal?

Dr. Ryan

The only objection is, therefore, that the jury may be packed?

The principle is not objected to.

Dr. Ryan

I wish we could get agreement on this matter from the Opposite Party. It is a great idea for the Opposite Party to have one man saying one thing and another a different thing. They then have one foot on each side.

That is what is happening on the Front Bench opposite. On Minister is saying one thing while another is saying something else.

We all accept the jury system, but not when Peter the Packer is on the bench.

Dr. Ryan

Then the principle is all right.

No. This is a layman deciding the law.

Dr. Ryan

It is very hard to get any good out of an Opposition like this when they do not know their own minds. There is no agreement. Let us take the question of price.

Is this a speech or a beauty chorus?

Dr. Ryan

I am quite prepared to make a speech if Deputies will stop interrupting. On the question of price I notice that in practically all the courts the matter of assessing damages is left to the jury. I was told long before this Bill was thought of that judges do not like to have the burden cast upon them of deciding the amount to be paid in the case of damages. They like to have it referred to a jury. I think at any rate there cannot be any fault found with the principle that two men should sit with the judicial commissioner and decide on the price.

With regard to the question of law, if the judicial commissioner can get one of the laymen to agree with him that it is a question of law then the judicial commissioner will decide it and there is an appeal——

Why should there be——

Deputies have no right to interrupt the Minister unless he gives way.

I think he likes interruptions.

The Chair does not.

Dr. Ryan

Yes, I like those interruptions.

Because they are very helpful to the Minister.

Dr. Ryan

The Attorney-General quoted here an exact precedent for this clause in the Bill——

Dr. Ryan

If Deputy Dillon says "No"——

The Attorney-General says "No".

Dr. Ryan

There is another matter which I should like to mention before the adjournment, and that is that although there is great criticism of this Bill from the Cumann na nGaedheal benches they went down to Kiltimagh and made long speeches but did not say one single thing about the Land Bill. Kiltimagh would be a hot place to criticise a Land Bill, but Deputy Hogan and the other Deputies had more sense than to criticise the Land Bill there. It is all right to criticise it here in this House——

Where it ought to be criticised.

The Minister is wrong. The Land Bill was criticised, and Deputy Hogan was not at the meeting.

Dr. Ryan

I withdraw that, but there was no word about it in the daily papers.

A Deputy

Why do you not read theIrish Press?

Dr. Ryan

I read them all on this occasion.

I distinctly remember reading something about it in theIrish Independent.

The Minister might apologise for mispronouncing the place.

Dr. Ryan

What is the proper pronunciation?

The proper pronunciation is "Kiltimach."

A Deputy

You did not get that from Deputy Dillon.

Dr. Ryan

There is one other thing I should like to say, and that is that the Cumann na nGaedheal Deputies have said that this means a general election. Whatever they may say about the Bill they have at the back of their minds that it is a popular Bill, and that is why they say we are playing politics. We are, therefore, bringing in at any rate a Bill which seems to suit the majority of the people of this country.

Debate adjourned.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 19th July.