In Committee on Finance. - Land Bill, 1933—Committee.

Section 1 agreed to.
SECTION 2.

Some amendments have been tabled to Section 2. It is not customary to take amendments of principle on a definition section if an opportunity is afforded on an operative section for discussion of such amendments. I suggest that amendments relating to the appointment of lay commissioners might be taken on Section 7, in connection with amendment 14. Those would be amendments 1, 2, 4, 13, 14, 15, 17, 19 and, possibly, 16, although that raises a somewhat different point. Amendments 1 and 2 might, therefore, be postponed until 14 is reached. Amendment 14, on Section 7, which is a Government compromise, might meet the points raised to a certain extent, and, if it does not go far enough, Deputies might consider tabling amendments for the Report Stage.

The Chair suggests that these amendments should be discussed together.

Yes, with No. 14.

And then, with a general agreement that the Government amendment be accepted to the exclusion of all others?

Yes, and Deputies might table amendments for the Report Stage if they are not satisfied. As regards amendment 3 to Section 2, the amendment is out of order because, if read in conjunction with subsequent amendments, it would increase the charge on State funds. I have notified Deputies as to the amendments that I consider out of order on those grounds. If Deputies would look at Section 12 (3) and Section 26 they will see the reason why I am so ruling.

You are not ruling upon all those amendments just now, because there is a point in connection with them which must be present to your mind. In the first place none of these amendments would impose a charge upon the taxpayer nor would they increase the charge on the taxpayer. Imposing a charge on public funds would mean the distribution of moneys arising out of or flowing from the amendment in question. In this case the imposition is upon the Land Commission annuitants. The Minister to-day in reply to a question as to what was the meaning of this, stated that the charges which it was anticipated would arise in connection with his Bill would only arise on 31st March next. That finishes that particular item up to 31st March next and consequently in that connection no charge arises or is arising by reason of that amendment. In the second place, in so far as there is any remission of the liability on the Land Commission here proposed in those amendments 24 to 30 and so on, the particular amendment in question relieved the Land Commission annuitants of burdens which this Bill proposes to impose upon them and in respect of which the Government by reason of this legislation may be said to be imposing taxes upon individuals.

Furthermore, in connection with the whole scheme of funding annuity arrears it will be within your recollection that it was mentioned here in the Dáil on more than one occasion by Ministers as well as by members of the Opposition, that there had been deducted from the Guarantee Fund grants to the local authorities of sums amounting to £660,000 ranging over the last nine or ten years to make good whatever deficiencies there were in connection with the Land Commission annuities. As the Bill stands there is no provision for re-imbursing the local authorities for that particular sum and in addition if we take out that particular amendment, I think it is amendment 102, what would happen is this, that not alone have the local authorities already subscribed £660,000 towards making good the deficiencies in Land Commission annuities but they would now be liable under this Bill for an additional £410,000 of these Land Commission annuities. What is still more remarkable, the Guarantee Fund is again to be responsible for this sum.

On a point of order, what has this to do with amendments 1, 2, 3 and 4?

Notices have been served in connection with all these amendments.

Does the Ceann Comhairle rule that amendment No. 3 is out of order?

Mr. Lynch

How can a definition impose a charge on public funds except beyond taking it in relation to the amendment to Section 12?

In the first place, the "appointed day" does not relate to the whole Bill; it relates only to Part III. Apart from that consideration, it is obvious that this amendment must be read in conjunction with subsequent amendments; otherwise it would be meaningless. Therefore, I rule it out of order.

I submit, sir, there is a distinction between these. I addressed you in connection with amendments 24 to 30 but this is a different line. I understood at the moment I stood up that you were considering all these. I submit in that connection that there is no charge on public funds by these amendments nor is there an increase on any charge. The Minister said to-day that up to 31st March next there is no liability arising out of any deficiencies in land purchase funds.

That statement is true taking the Government proposals in this Bill into account. But if the amendments the Deputies here propose are passed the Central Fund will be drawn to the extent of half the annuities plus the funding annuities that will be collected next November.

The Central Fund has already provided for all the funds that are wanted for the current financial year. The Minister was asked distinctly did this provide for all the changes which it was anticipated would arise in connection with this Bill until 31st March next and his answer was in the affirmative. There is nothing in this amendment increasing the charge on these funds until the 31st March next. I am addressing myself only to amendment No. 24. If we wish to take 24 when we arrive at it, that is another matter.

I am taking amendment 3 in relation to amendments 24 to 30 among other amendments.

But amendments 24 to 29 are altogether different. In so far as they are concerned they are dealing with a proposal in this measure which the Government seeks to get. It would be the same as if I were to move a reduction of say 11d. in an income tax of 5/-. The House is entitled to consider those matters. These amendments are dealing with reductions, and they have relation to the imposition of charges. They have relation to the imposition which is now being made in this measure upon land annuitants and for which the State has no liability, that liability having already been discharged. Therefore there is a case, a more extraordinary case than any of those on the Guarantee Fund. There is a sum of £660,000 which has been allocated, and which flowed from year to year. That sum has been made good out of the Guarantee Fund in the deductions which have been made from the local authorities. If this Bill passes, plus the amendment put in by the Government, the Government would again be entitled to make a raid on the Guarantee Fund to the extent of £440,000, and that for money which has already been made good. I submit that the amendment does not increase any liability on the Central Fund. These amendments are, I submit, in reason and in order by reason of the fact that the liability for the £660,000 has already been discharged. I will do no more than advert to the prodigality of the Government in seeking to impose this additional heavy burden on the local authorities. It is a course of action which has not been practised so far.

That is not on the point of order.

No, but it is a part of it. If you owed £500 to the Minister and I came in here some day and said "I reduce your liability to £300," it would have just as much moral effect as that.

I must say the Chair has my deepest sympathy in trying to discuss a point of order arising out of the Land Bill with Deputy Cosgrave. I advise Deputy Roddy to get a good tough string, and tie it to Deputy Cosgrave's coat-tails to tie him down at opportune moments if Deputy Cosgrave is going to take part in those debates.

On the point of order.

We are coming to it.

On the point of order, I have replied to Deputy Cosgrave when I said that the anticipated charges on the Central Fund had been met by supplementary estimates; anticipated because it is anticipated that this Bill will pass as the Government desires it to pass, and that therefore the Central Fund will not be called upon to meet the additional charges which it would have to meet if the amendments proposed by Deputy Roddy and Deputy Lynch in the third part of the Bill were to pass. Obviously, to anybody who has any knowledge of land finance, if the moneys are not collected from the land annuities they have to be taken out of the Exchequer in order to pay bond holders and recoup the Guarantee Fund. Deputy Cosgrave knows so little about this matter that a couple of weeks ago he endeavoured to persuade the Deputies of the House to vote against a supplementary estimate providing £800,000 for the bond holders who got bonds in exchange for their lands under the 1923 Act. Of course, as I say, a Chinn Comhairle, Deputy Cosgrave does not understand those things, and I can quite realise your difficulty in persuading him he is out of order when he is clearly out of order.

I submit that the Minister has not concerned himself with the point at issue here. The point at issue in connection with these amendments is not the question of the payment of a Land Commission annuity or Land Commission annuities. It is a question of the funding of Land Commission annuities in arrear—quite a different problem. Would the Minister concern himself with that and direct himself to the point at issue—the arrears which are proposed to be funded and in connection with which the House is perfectly entitled to say what particular sum and from when those arrears are to be collected. The Government has already done it itself. The Government has, in this particular case, funded three years of annuities where three years and over are owing and due, or where they have accrued. They have wiped out anything in excess of three years. Had they the right to do it? Has the House the right to amend that? I submit that it has. It does not impose any increased charge upon public funds by reason of doing so. I say that the Bill itself as drawn does not seek to pay back moneys which have been utilised from the local authorities for the purpose of discharging the liabilities of Land Commission annuities which are in arrear, and neither does it propose to reimburse those local authorities to that extent. I say further that, if the amendment which I have pointed out is to pass, a further liability will arise on those local authorities for the same sum that they have already paid. Will the Minister concern himself with that?

I will concern myself with some of the arguments which the Deputy has put forward, at the proper time and in the proper place. The Ceann Comhairle has tried to get the Deputy to behave in an orderly fashion, and discuss the Bill in an orderly way.

He has not told me to come to the point yet.

The Deputy should remember that at the present time he is only a private Deputy, and that he cannot move amendments which will put a charge on public funds.

Explain how the charge is put.

Mr. Lynch

Might I respectfully draw your attention, sir, to amendment 27, since we are discussing that whole bunch from No. 24 to No. 30? That amendment, which is down in my name, merely proposes to swop one year for funding instead of another; to swop the gales of November-December, 1929, and June-July, 1930, for November-December, 1932, and June-July, 1933; in other words, to have the three years which are funded the three years ending in the June-July gale, 1932, instead of the June-July gale, 1933. I do not see how there is any charge on public funds there. It may mean that some lesser sum may accrue from the amount collected or funded, but I respectfully submit that it is a legitimate amendment.

Some of those amend ments are in my name. I should like to know how amendments 25 and 26, which have no relation to the arrears or the funding of arrears or rents or interest in lieu of rent, come to be a charge on public funds? Those are in relation only to the costs and expenses of the proceedings. The Minister has told us to-day, by way of answer to a question, that he did not know what were the costs of the proceedings which the Land Commission took. How does he propose to fund them then, and what machinery has the State at its disposal to pay the State solicitors for the proceedings which they undertook? I maintain that certainly all the amendments relating to the funding of the costs and expenses incurred by the Land Commission do not under the wildest stretch of imagination propose to put any charge on State funds.

The Deputy obviously does not understand his own amendments, because if the costs are not recovered from the land annuities, obviously the State solicitors have to be recouped their costs. Unless the Deputy wants to repudiate them completely, they have to be borne out of the State funds.

Did the Minister tell us here to-day that he did not know what the costs were? Does he tell us now that the State has any machinery for the payment of those costs to the State solicitors? What is the machinery for this purpose? Are those moneys to be funded against the tenants, and are the solicitors not to be paid at all?

The fact of the matter is, if the Deputy only understood the reply to the question, that the Land Commission has not received the full returns from the State solicitors in regard to the costs that were incurred. Those costs will come in and will be dealt with in the ordinary way by the Land Commission.

In the ordinary way?

It is stated that the anticipated charges have been met, but if amendments 24 to 30, for instance, were carried further charges would fall on the Central Fund.

That is my interpretation of Sections 12 and 26; any costs not recouped would also fall on the Central Fund. I am therefore not allowing amendments Nos. 24 to 30 to be moved, nor Nos. 32 and 33.

Question—"That Section 2 stand part of the Bill"—put and agreed to.

Amendment No. 4 will go with No. 14.

SECTION 3.

Question proposed: "That Section 3 stand part of the Bill."

Is not there an amendment to Section 3?

I suggest that No. 4 be taken with No. 14.

It is not the same subject at all.

If you prefer it we will take it here.

I presume we will have an opportunity of discussing those sections afterwards?

The section may be discussed now.

What about the amendments? Shall we take the amendments first?

No. 4 may be taken now if the Deputy desires.

I move amendment No. 4:—

(4) In sub-section (1), line 40, page 4, to delete from the word "and," down to the word "with," line 42, and substitute the words "a land commissioner of not less than two years' standing nominated by the Minister for the purpose and".

I move this amendment because, in the past, Land Commissioners were responsible for drafting rules and regulations for the purpose of implementing the Land Acts. This follows naturally on my amendments 1 and 2 but, apart from that, it appears to me that to draft rules and regulations implementing a Land Act of this character, it is necessary that particularly experienced officials only should be engaged in such work. At least three of the present Commissioners have experience of drafting rules and regulations in connection with previous Land Acts. According to the wording of the section it appears to me that the Minister has power to appoint any officer of the Land Commission, not necessarily a commissioner, but even a junior officer without any experience, to draft rules and regulations of this kind. The sole aim and object of the amendment is to get the best human material available in the Land Commission, at the Minister's disposal, for the purpose of drafting rules and regulations.

I have no objection to the idea behind the suggestion in the amendment, because, obviously, if we are to have a rule-making authority, the Minister will appoint the best officials he has. The term "officer of the Land Commission" according to the definition includes Land Commissioners. If the Deputy wants to press it I would be quite prepared to change the words "officer of the Land Commission" into lay commissioner or land commissioner, but I do not think the Deputy should press for the insertion of the words "not less than two years' standing."

If the Minister will accept my first amendment——

That is a different point altogether. I would be prepared to say an officer or land commissioner appointed for the purpose by the Minister, but not to accept the words "of not less than two years' standing."

Mr. Lynch

You would accept land commissioner?

Land commissioner. Is not that good enough? He would be an existing land commissioner at the time when he was appointed by the Minister. Has Deputy Lynch any guarantee that the Land Commissioners are going to exist for ever?

Mr. Lynch

No, but I assume that they will exist until the rule making starts.

That is all right. If the Deputy agrees I shall introduce an amendment on the Report Stage changing the words "officer of the Land Commission" to "land commissioner."

I am concerned about one thing only, that is, that those participating in the making of those rules shall have as much experience as possible in the administration of the Land Acts. It seems to me nonsensical to bring in an outsider who may be only an hour in the Land Commission, and who would then be put forward as one of the officers responsible for drafting rules and regulations. Surely the Minister will admit that if proper rules and regulations are to be drafted in dealing with big problems that will arise from day to day, these rules must be drafted by individuals who have experience of the Land Acts. For that reason I put down this amendment and in order to ensure that a land commissioner with experience shall be appointed as one of those responsible for the drafting of these rules and regulations.

I am as much concerned with having proper rules and regulations drafted as Deputy Roddy is, and I am as anxious to have experienced officers of the Land Commission to go on the rule-making authority as the Deputy is. If the House will agree I shall introduce, on the Report Stage, an amendment changing the words "officer of the Land Commission" into "land commissioner."

With experience? Personally I think the Minister's acceptance of this principle does not mean anything at all. An officer of the Land Commission with ten or 20 years' experience might be a much more useful person for drawing up rules and regulations than a land commissioner created only an hour before. It is experience that Deputy Roddy wants to get on this body and that is what the Minister wants to avoid. He wants to get newly made commissioners on the body.

Could not the matter be easily settled if the Minister would say what is in his mind as to whom, exactly, he will appoint to the rule-making authority? Does he intend to appoint an existing commissioner?

If it was to be done to-day I would appoint an existing commissioner.

And may we take it that it is not his intention to appoint a commissioner who has only just been selected?

Not the slightest.

Will he say that he will not appoint a person without any experience at all?

The Attorney-General

It is open to the Minister to appoint a land commissioner to this rule-making authority. A man will be a commissioner the moment he is appointed. These rules are rules for the setting up of machinery, and the Minister has indicated that he has no more desire than Deputy Roddy to select anyone for the rule-making authority who does not know his job.

Mr. Lynch

What is the objection to putting in the two years' experience?

The Attorney-General

The man appointed will only be one member of the rule-making authority.

But what is your objection?

The Attorney-General

The suggestion that the Minister would appoint anyone without experience is so absurd.

Surely the Attorney-General will admit that for drafting rules and regulations, even under this Bill, it is necessary that the individual so engaged should have practical experience. My only concern is this. I have had some experience of the Land Commission, and I can speak with a certain amount of authority, and I recognise as vitally important that the individuals engaged in this work should have experience of Land Commission administration. If they have not that experience I do not see what use they could serve. Hence it was that in drafting this amendment I put in the words "of not less than two years standing" and to substitute a man of that experience for an officer of the Land Commission. The Minister admits that it is necessary that an individual engaged in this work should have experience. No one understands that better than the Attorney-General. I think my amendment is exceedingly reasonable, but I am perfectly ready to let it stand over to the Report Stage if the Minister accepts my draft that the commissioner appointed shall have two years' experience of Land Commission work.

If the Deputy does not accept my undertaking and is not satisfied with what I have said, we had better decide the matter now. The words "an officer of the Land Commission" includes a land commissioner. If I made an appointment to-day I would appoint an existing land commissioner. I will not yield to the Deputy in my concern about appointing an experienced official. That is what is required.

Mr. Lynch

What is the Minister's objection to a man of not less than two years' standing?

I am meeting Deputies in an ordinary way, in a manner that can be carried out under all the circumstances.

Mr. Rice

Perhaps the Minister will indicate whether he intends to appoint an existing land commissioner or some new manad hoc for that purpose?

I have already answered that question.

I gather that when the Minister went a certain distance, as he thought, to meet Deputy Roddy, he must have come to the conclusion that what he proposes to do on the Report Stage will be an improvement so far as the Bill is concerned, from the point of view of drafting, anyhow. I gather that unless the House accepts what the Minister proposes to introduce on the Report Stage and drops this amendment he will not go on with his proposal on the Report Stage.

I am quite satisfied that as the section stands it enables the Minister to do what Deputy Roddy wants done. In ordinary circumstances that would be done.

Mr. Lynch

It is a thing that should be done.

Enabling the Minister to do it is one thing.

The section is so wide that it enables a whole lot of other things to be done as well. Nobody disputes that the section as it stands enables what Deputy Roddy wants to be done, but the amendment is an attempt to limit the power of the Minister—that is obvious. I gather that the Minister's mind now is this, that unless what he calls a concession is accepted by Deputy Roddy, he does not intend to introduce the modification he promised on the Report Stage. Is that the intention? In other words, if this is pressed to a division the Minister is not going to introduce the modification.

The modification which Deputy Roddy wants is not necessary at all. In order to expedite business I am prepared to accept the words "land commissioner" instead of "an officer of the Land Commission."

And if that is not accepted you will not introduce the modification you promised?

That is so.

The Attorney-General mentioned that this particular individual would be only one of three. What is the point?

The Attorney-General

He will not be the sole person.

To me it seems there is no point in making the remark that he is only one of three. If there is any force in the Attorney-General's remark it would mean that the other two would have experience and this man need not have. The Minister indicated that if he were making this appointment to-day he would appoint one of the existing Land Commissioners. If he is making it in three or four months' time is he going to appoint a land commissioner who will then have had two years' experience? That is what the House is anxious to know. We are not interested in any hypothetical matter such as if the Minister were making an appointment to-day.

Deputies are insisting on two years' experience in regard to the third land commissioner. They have not introduced any amendment insisting on the secretary having two years' experience. For that matter a secretary with a day's experience could be appointed and the same might apply to a judicial commissioner. If Deputies want to take the line that the Executive Council is not to be trusted with anything we will fight it out on that point. If they want to have this rule-making authority an authority that can do its work, then the section will cover all that. If they want to ensure that the officer of the Land Commission shall be a land commissioner, I am prepared to put that in.

Surely we have arrived practically at agreement on that point. The Minister, unless deliberately guilty of equivocation—and I am not prepared to believe that—has clearly indicated that if the existing Land Commissioners are available when he is making his choice he will choose one of them.

I know you can trip up words, but broadly speaking, those are the Minister's words. Suppose we put in Deputy's Roddy's amendment as it stands, and suppose a land commissioner died to-morrow morning—though God forbid that that would happen— it would mean amending legislation in order to appoint another person. The Minister is prepared to accept the words "land commissioner" and he says that if he had the appointment to-morrow he would appoint one of the existing Land Commissioners. I think we can safely assume that that is the meaning of the undertaking he has given here to-day.

The understanding is that I will introduce an amendment on the Report Stage changing the words "officer of the Land Commission" to "land commissioner."

Amendment 4, by leave, withdrawn.
Sections 3, 4 and 5 agreed to.
SECTION 6.
(1) The following matters shall be excepted matters for the purposes of this section and the expression "excepted matters" shall in this section be construed accordingly, that is to say:—
(a) the determination of the individuals from whom land is to be acquired;
(b) the determination of the price to be paid for land so acquired;
(c) the determination of the persons to be selected as allottees of untenanted land;
(d) the determination of the price at which land is to be sold to any such allottee.
(2) On and after the appointed day, the Land Commission, in the exercise and performance of the powers and duties for the time being vested in it by law (including this Act), and the Lay Commissioners in the exercise and performance of the powers and duties for the time being specifically vested in them by law (including this Act), 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, if and 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 the Lay Commissioners (as the case may be) of 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.
(3) All powers and duties for the time being vested by law (including this Act) in the Land Commission or the Lay Commissioners in relation to an excepted matter shall, on and after the appointed day be exercised and performed in all respects as if this section had not been enacted, save that
(a) any appeal which may lie by law (including this Act) from the determination of an excepted matter shall lie to the Appeal Tribunal, and
(b) the Minister may, if and 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 situate the distribution amongst 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.
(4) Nothing in this section shall apply to the Judicial Commissioner or to the Appeal Tribunal or operate to give the Minister any power or control of any kind over or in relation to the exercise of his functions by the Judicial Commissioner or their functions by the Appeal Tribunal.

I beg to move amendment 5:—

In sub-section (1), (a), line 34, to delete the word "individuals" and substitute the word "persons."

"Persons," I understand, is the expression used throughout all the Land Acts instead of the word "individuals."

I am also moving an amendment to this particular section. The Minister's amendment is purely a verbal one. It does not alter the sense of the clause at all, nor is it likely to alter the interpretation which the Land Commission will place upon it.

That is true. It is only a verbal amendment.

Amendment 5 agreed to.

I beg to move amendment 5a:—

In sub-section (1), (a), line 34, after the word "whom" to insert the words "or the locality in which."

The idea is that by specifying the locality the Minister could, in effect, determine who the persons were to be. The object of the amendment is to prevent the intention of that exception being defeated.

The Executive Council and myself wanted the Minister excepted from the power to determine any particular lands, and we wanted to take from the Minister that power by indicating the locality that he would point out or by excluding the possibility of any other lands being excepted, except some particular lands which he himself wanted taken over. The draftsman was told to draft the section accordingly, to take such powers from the Minister, but the legal people say that these excepted matters are provided for just as the Deputy wants to see them done. That is the opinion of the legal people.

It does not appear that this is a matter in which the word of a lawyer carries more weight than the word of somebody else. It seems a matter of common sense. There is nothing in the sub-section to prevent the Minister from determining the locality.

The Deputy should read sub-section 3 (b) and he will get the point.

That is a different point altogether. The distribution of work. I submit that the Minister, by accepting the amendment I propose, cannot do anything to injure the intentions of the Government. He might consider it superfluous, but I cannot see that it would be. It exactly carries what he says the intentions of the Government are.

Assuming that the section states the determination of persons from whom land is to be acquired, there is nothing in the Bill to prevent the Minister saying he wants land in the townland of Drumkeen.

There is. 3 (b) says that the Minister may, if and 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 amongst the lay commissioners of their work in relation of the excepted matters but not to allocate any particular case or land to any particular lay commissioner.

That only involves the work which the commissioners might consider to be excepted in a particular case, but there is nothing to prevent the Minister from saying he wants land in a particular area, and he could put pressure on the Land Commission to acquire certain lands. This amendment in no way impairs the Minister if the purpose of the Executive Council be as he described, because to insert the words "or the locality in which" simply gives implementation to the intention the Minister says he has.

I am opposed to this clause. I agree that the amendment would improve it somewhat in the sense that it would prevent the Minister particularising so far as townlands are concerned, but I do not think it improves the clause in any way. The Minister has got the most extraordinary powers under sub-section (2). I do not suggest he would do it, but the Minister has undoubtedly the power to particularise and whilst the individuals might not be named, there are other ways of getting at individuals rather than mentioning their names and I have no doubt that he knows that farms have certain local names and I have no doubt that in carrying into effect these particular clauses the Minister is likely to be bombarded by his supporters from all parts of the country and the supporters have compiled a list of the lands that they expect will be acquired under this Bill and distributed amongst them. It appears to me that this clause has been unfortunately phrased. I cannot understand why the Minister will not accept the amendments. There is a departure from the previous procedure in regard to Land Acts. It should be the aim of this particular clause to avoid discrimination in any way and leave it completely to the discretion of the Land Commission to select the land rather than the individual. In the existing political circumstances in this country a clause of this kind is a positive source of danger and it should be removed. If that is done it will be a sign that the powers which the Minister has got under sub-section (2) may not impose the great hardship that a certain number of people in the country expect. The "determination of the land to be acquired," it seems to me, would be a very much better expression and certainly much fairer, and I would submit to the Minister that if he accepts this amendment he is indicating his desire to administer the Bill fairly, justly and equitably and will give the people in the country who are naturally deeply interested in the Land Bill the impression that they are not being hit at in any way by any section of the Bill, and that it will be operated fairly, justly and equitably and that there will be nothing in it which would give any official or inspector or supporter power in any part of the country to hit at any particular individual.

I submit that the amendment achieves the object which the Minister has in mind; it will protect the Minister against charges of partisan administration because assuming a desire to administer the Act in a partisan way you could do so without specifically determining the actual lands. You could give such instructions that you could, while avoiding mentioning actual lands, indicate the area. I hope now, on the basis of what the Minister said that he will accept this very simple amendment to carry out the very proper intentions of the Government to protect themselves against pressure to administer the Act in a partisan way.

Read sub-section (2) again. Deputy Roddy says he is afraid of sub-section (1) because of sub-section (2), but in sub-section (2) the Minister's powers are restricted to matters other than excepted matters. That is stated in the sub-section.

That is why we want the excepted matters extended. The Minister does not quite get out the point, if I may say so. Sub-section (2) undoubtedly gives the Minister very much greater power than any Minister had before over the Land Commission. Sub-section (1) is framed to curtail that power to some extent. We want to extend that curtailment as far as we can. It is for the Minister's good. It will prevent him from being bombarded with a series of resolutions by people who want particular lands taken. I would like to say that the amendment proposed by Deputy MacDermot and the amendment of Deputy Roddy and myself will tend to protect the Minister. That was obviously the intention of the draftsmen, but it seems to have been overlooked. Nobody reading that section, and I am sure the Attorney-General will agree with me, can say that that does not prevent the Minister pointing out localities in which lands might be taken while it does prevent his pointing out individuals. It is not a legal matter at all. It is a matter of understanding ordinary English, and if the Minister is right, and I accept his word, that the Government want to prevent the Minister being put in the position that he should determine the actual lands to be taken over, then I think it has not been met by this section.

The Minister stated clearly what was the intention of the Government, but the Opposition does not feel that legally the intention of the Government has been carried out, and it is a weakness unless the legal power of prohibition is there. The Minister is open to any amount of pressure, and any person with experience of administration knows that it would be a great safeguard. For instance, the Revenue Commissioners are to a tremendous extent independent of the Minister. All that is wanted is to make it definitely clear what is the intention of the Government, as stated by the Minister. Nothing else is wanted, as far as I can gather, by these particular amendments. It may be the firm intention of the Minister to do what is the Government's intention, but unless it is made very definite and clear, the amount of pressure brought to bear on him will be tremendous. I do not care who he is, or what Party he belongs to, the only safeguard in the long run, stretching over a period of years, would be to make the prohibition quite clear. The Minister can say he has not the power, that that rests with a body which for this particular purpose is independent. I am sure the Minister, if he thinks of it, will see that these amendments are only carrying out what is the intention of the Government.

I think the Deputy has indicated the effect of sub-section (1) and that is, the determination of the persons for whom lands are to be acquired is to be exempted from the Minister's power. He has nothing good, bad or indifferent to say about it. For instance, he cannot say to the Land Commission "John Murphy has a farm, take it." He cannot ring round a certain townland knowing beforehand that the only person to be affected in the townland is John Murphy.

He cannot do it.

For instance he could take the townland of Killeen. He does not mention the person whose lands will be taken, but in practice he does, for the reason that there is no other farm there.

I think it would save a great deal of time if he carried out what he says is the intention of the Government by accepting those amendments.

Let the Deputy describe what he means by locality. Would it cover Connaught or Mayo or an area like that? What the Government is aiming at generally in the Bill is this: as the Minister is responsible to the Land Commission, and Deputies hold him responsible even though up to now he has had no responsibility, and as it is an urgent matter that land should be divided and distributed, recognised by all the members of the Dáil that the Minister should do it, and if the Minister is responsible he should also have authority. If the Dáil thinks and the Minister thinks that congestion should be relieved in a certain county or half county the Minister should be able to turn the Land Commission on to the doing of that work. While leaving those powers in the hands of the Minister, the Government wants to take out of his hands the power to indicate any particular holdings, and I believe we have succeeded in doing that.

To my mind the Minister has gone back on what he has already said here. I think he said the Government wished him to have the power of closely indicating the locality. I think he may reasonably state his wishes to relieve congestion in a particular area but that is not necessarily done by acquiring the land in that area. I should have thought that "locality" would carry a perfectly common-sense interpretation and would not extend to any such gigantic areas as a province.

How far would it extend?

Mr. Lynch

The Minister, I think, accepts the principle that it should not be within his power to indicate particular land to be acquired of his own. I gather that he accepts that principle. I would suggest to him that if he would bring in an amendment on the Report Stage both Deputy MacDermot and myself would withdraw this amendment. That would be the obvious way if he accepts the principle.

Are not the localities in existence, and some, very well known?

I hope that Deputy Lynch's interpretation of what the Minister said is not correct, and I hope he will not accept those amendments. I think the Minister is being shoved back too far and that he should have some voice as to the policy of the Land Commission. The relation between the existing Land Commission and the old days do not seem to have been very happy. I think the Minister has gone too far in investing the Commissioners with such powers and that he has given too much away already and should not give away any more.

I realise the Minister has a difficult problem to deal with, but this sub-section is not going to help him to deal with it in a speedy way. As regards the powers which the Minister stated a few moments ago he is taking for dealing with congestion he has got every one of them already without this Bill.

He has got all these powers already, and he does not require this particular sub-section in order to enable him to deal with congestion. My objection to this particular sub-section remains the same as in the beginning. I consider the sub-section an unfortunate one. I consider the section, in operation, will give the Minister an opportunity of discriminating against townlands and against individuals, and that is not a good thing. It is not a good thing to give the Minister power to indicate a certain land in a certain county or in a certain townland. He has, undoubtedly, these powers. There is no other possible interpretation in sub-sections 2 and 3. I have read them several times. There is no doubt about it the Minister is getting that power, and in view of the fact that he has got that power——

Give me the words in which he has got that power.

He has it in paragraph (b) of sub-section (3). He has also got it in sub-section (2).

Read the words.

He has got the power "of reserving to himself rights of approval and disapproval or of reconsideration, revision and confirmation."

That is in relation to excepted matters.

The point I stressed on the Second Reading, and the point I want to stress now, is this, that the Minister, indirectly, can indicate the persons from whom lands are to be taken. Without relating this clause to the powers in sub-sections (2) and (3) there is no question about it if the Minister were unscrupulous enough to go into any particular case and to indicate in a particular way even individuals from whom particular land is to be taken he can do so. That is why I am anxious to get the wording of that particular clause altered. I see no reason for introducing the words "individuals" or "persons" or the determination of the actual lands to be acquired for the relief of congestion. I am quite sure that the Minister, with the assistance of the Attorney-General, could have a better clause inserted there. I can assure the Minister that this clause has given rise to a great deal of uneasiness down the country already. The feeling is that this section gives the Minister power to point to certain individuals and to say to them through his inspectors or commissioners: "I have a right to take your land." That is the danger, and I think that danger is inherent in this section. The Minister, in the interest of his Department and in the interest of himself and of the farmers, should introduce some other section which would give him the power which he wants.

Judging from the Minister's remarks, he gave the Dáil to understand that he does not mean to utilise these powers unfairly or unscrupulously, but there is no doubt about it the power is there. I am not relying now on my own interpretation of it, for I have confirmation of my interpretation by certain legal men outside. The Minister should substitute another clause for the words there. The Minister has these powers if he chooses to exercise them. It is not right that any Minister should be given such powers as these when dealing with the problem of land acquisition. The position of the Land Commission in dealing with the problem of land acquisition is that while many charges of delay were made against them, certainly no charge of delay can be laid at their doors for the past 18 months and there can be no charge that the problem of acquisition has not since then been dealt with expeditiously. I want to see that there is nothing in the Bill that will give the Minister power to act unfairly in respect of the acquisition of land. I submit that this section gives the Minister that power. That power will interfere very much with the discretion of the Land Commission.

Why does the Minister want power to include the locality? Why should he want power to indicate the locality in which he wants to acquire the land? The object of this amendment is that the Minister should say: "I want congestion abolished in such a place," and the Land Commission should take land to relieve the congestion, with which the Minister is concerned. If the Minister does not except himself from designating the locality, how can he resist the pressure that will be brought to bear on him afterwards by deputations and by individuals? Take the case of the Minister for Industry and Commerce. He said that his life has been made a misery by the permit system because of the power left in his hands as to what should be let in or kept out. If the Minister for Lands and Fisheries has that power he will be in a constant state of war with deputations. He should divest himself of it. He can still instruct the Land Commission to prepare a scheme for the relief of congestion.

The Minister referred to sub-section (2). That gives him power with the exception of excluded matters. The locality is not one of the excluded matters. Our case is this: by defining the locality the Minister can actually define the person, if he mentions the townland. It is very unlikely that there will be any other large farm which can be taken in a particular townland. In fact he would be dealing with a person, a thing that the Minister is anxious to avoid. We quite admit that he has great powers in Section 2. We quite admit that these powers are curtailed by a reference to excluded matters, but when we turn to the excluded matters that is where our difficulty arises. They are drafted in such a way that they seem to give the Minister more power than even the Minister professes he wants to get.

I think, first of all, Deputy Roddy wants changes in this Bill merely for the sake of change.

I will put it to the House in this way: The Deputy suggests that it should be changed to read "the determination of the question whether any lands proposed to be acquired are required for the relief of congestion." The land must belong to somebody and what is in the Bill is the determination of the individuals from whom the land is to be acquired.

That is my objection.

I cannot see any difference between what is in the Bill, "the determination of the individuals from whom the land is to be acquired," and the Deputy's amendment.

I want both these matters to be left exclusively to the Land Commission.

Surely the determination of the persons from whom the land is to be acquired is as restrictive on the Minister as the determination of the lands to be acquired. We are going as far in this Bill as we can. We want to keep the matter of adjudicating between the claims of any two citizens altogether out of the Minister's power. We want to take from the Minister the power to say that land must be taken from any particular individual. We have done that. We also want to give the Minister authority over the Land Commission and a general direction on the performance of their functions. If the Dáil thinks that the Minister should not have that power then the Dáil should not give the Minister any power.

No. We have not said that.

What we are endeavouring to do here is this: when you have a system of the Minister being responsible to the Dáil you must have authority. If you are not going to operate that system, then the thing to do is to set up somebody completely like judges for whom no Minister would be responsible—that the Land Commission would simply carry on its functions independent of the Ministry altogether and be directly responsible to the Dáil.

The Minister definitely told us 15 minutes ago that the Government did not want to have the determining of locality. He definitely told us that, and it can be confirmed from the Official Report. Is the Minister going back on that? If he is not going back on it, I suggest that what he is saying is quite irrelevant.

If I used the phrase "locality"...

The Minister did.

——I had in mind—and I am sure the Deputy will find that that is what I said—that the Government was anxious to take out of the Minister's power the determination of the locality as regards pointing to any particular individual. I think that the only point all the Deputies opposite are making is that, by some manner of means somewhere in this Bill, it is left to the Minister so to arrange that a particular individual——

Or group of individuals.

——or group of individuals can have the lands taken away from them on the instruction of the Minister. We are definitely excepting, from the Minister's powers, the determination of the persons.

Not the lands.

The determination of the persons from whom land is to be acquired.

Mr. Lynch

Surely, the Minister must realise—it has been said at least half a dozen times—that while he specifically puts down persons there——

Persons from whom land is to be acquired.

Mr. Lynch

——he does not put down that he can say that such and such lands could be acquired without specifying the individual. The Minister prevents himself from saying: "I want John Sullivan's farm at such-and-such a place to be taken," but he does not prevent himself from saying: "I want a farm in Coomaclowkane of such-and-such acreage to be taken up", by which he will indicate the person just as specifically as if he actually named the person.

I challenge Deputy Lynch to read sub-section (2).

Mr. Lynch

I read it.

I challenge the Deputy to read the words of it and try to get the full effect and meaning of it.

Mr. Lynch

I am quite satisfied that I realise the meaning of it just as well as the Minister does.

I am quite prepared to grant that, because, on the Second Reading, every time the Deputy came to the words "not relating to an excepted matter" he mumbled the phrase.

Mr. Lynch

Not at all.

Let the Minister take a concrete case. Has he any power under this Bill to direct the Land Commissioners to acquire land in a particular townland? Has he the power to say to the Land Commissioners: "I direct you to acquire land in the townland of Baile Uachtar"?

I would say not.

Cannot the Minister clear it up?

Sub-section (2) says:

On and after the appointed day, the Land Commission, in the exercise and performance of the powers and duties for the time being vested in it by law (including this Act), and the lay commissioners, in the exercise and performance of the powers and duties for the time being specifically vested in them by law (including this Act), shall, save in relation to excepted matters,

One of which is the determination of the individual from whom the land is to be acquired.

...act under and in accordance with the directions, whether general or particular, of the Minister ...

There you are!

...and the Minister shall have and may exercise, if and 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 the lay commissioner (as the case may be) of 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.

Where is the indication of the townland being one of the excepted matters? Where is it excepted in sub-section (1)? The indication of the townland was the specific case put up by myself and Deputy Dillon.

What the Deputies want is that power should be taken from the Minister to determine individuals and that is definitely excepted in clause (a).

Has the Minister not power to indicate to the Land Commission that he desires them to acquire land in a given townland, say, Baile Uachtar?

I have already explained to the Deputies that the Minister is precluded from the determination of the persons.

Has he any power to say to the Land Commission: "you must acquire land in the townland of Baile Uachtar"? Has he that power?

I will say that if there were only one man in the townland who had land worth over £2,000—the figure indicated here—the Minister would not have the power to determine that the Land Commission should take the surplus from him.

Surely there is an aswer to my question of either "yes" or "no." Has the Minister or has he not power under sub-section (2) to say to the Land Commissioners: "You must proceed to acquire land in the townland of Baile Uachtar." Has he or has he not that power?

Surely, Deputy Dillon does not want to contend that if land is available in a certain townland there would be anything wrong in indicating that that land should be made available for sub-division?

The Deputy thinks the Minister has that power?

If he has that power, I do not see why we should quarrel with it. Where is the difference between the Minister's having power to say, in relation to any particular county, that so many acres of land is required there for the relief of congestion and saying it with regard to a townland? Why should you try to tie us down to a townland? If land is not available in a townland, then, surely no direction can be given to the Land Commissioners to acquire land there. If the land is available for that purpose in that particular townland, I do not see why the Minister should not have that power in relation to that townland in the same way as he has that power in relation to a county or counties.

Has the Minister power to direct the Land Commissioners to acquire land in the townland of Baile Uachtar?

The Minister has the power, of course.

If the Minister has the power, it simply means that he can go and name an individual from whom land is to be acquired. I know that the Minister does not want to do that. It is merely to protect him from that possibility that I put the question to him. In my opinion, if I had, say, Deputy Smith as a neighbour, he might come to the conclusion that congestion was particularly bad in Baile Uachtar. I happen to be the only person in Baile Uachtar. The Minister can prepare a schedule of townlands in which he directs the Land Commissioners to acquire land which comes to the same thing as naming an individual. I suggest that the words "or the locality" should be inserted. That puts it out of the power of the Minister to interfere in that way.

The Minister cannot determine the individuals from whom land is to be acquired.

Not directly.

Mr. Lynch

Not by name.

If he is going to do it indirectly you will want some other amendments.

I maintain that if anybody is seriously concerned—if it is not simply for the sake of argument here or in the country—with the Minister having power to say that the land shall be taken from John Murphy or somebody else, rather than from Patrick Johnson, they have a safeguard here in the Bill in that the Minister cannot determine that the land is to be taken from one individual rather than from another.

Suppose John Murphy is the only man in the townland——

If John Murphy is the only man in the townland or locality or province, or whatever you like to call the area, and if he is the only man who has, say, 1,320 acres of land, when there is dire congestion in the area I think the Minister has the right to say that in that particular province or county no man should hold more than 1,320 acres.

What suggestion is there that he should hold 1,320 acres?

We have the Minister's interpretation of the legal aspect of it, namely, that he has the power. Whether it is 100 acres or 1,300 acres does not matter so far as the legal interpretation is concerned. We have it now from the Minister that the power is there. The mere fact that it is 1,300 acres does not interfere one way or the other with the question as to whether the legal power is with the Minister. Up to the present I understood the Minister to argue the very opposite.

Hear, hear.

Up to the present—perhaps not quite up to the present, but up to a quarter of an hour ago—I understood him to say that the intention of the Government was not to interfere in matters of indicating the locality in a narrow sense. Now, and in the previous statement of the Minister, I understand him to correct that position. Furthermore, the argument which he used, namely, that the Minister is there and must be trusted, is a reason that could be adduced for this House refusing to discuss any legislation and adopting the attitude: "We appoint a Minister, and we give him power to do what he thinks fit." It is the business of this House to see that the legislation which it allows through the House is properly drawn up, and carries out the intention of the House. Up to the present I was under the impression that that was also the intention of the Government, but I confess that at the moment I have not the remotest idea what their intention is.

Might I put it to the Minister, and indeed to Deputy Smith, that the retaining of those powers really assumes that the Land Commission would not carry out its obvious duties? They are perfectly capable of seeing where there is land to be acquired, and why should the Minister consider it necessary that he should have that power in reserve to exercise his influence over them? I can assure the Minister now that, as far as I am concerned, I put down this amendment in a perfectly genuine desire to improve the Bill, and not for the purpose of making capital out of it either here or in the country. That amendment is a reasonable one. I think the Minister would find it of great advantage to himself in the administration of the Act. I think his first thoughts were best, when he said that it did really carry out what he intended, and that it was only a matter of drafting to get the thing put right. I appeal to him now to maintain his acceptance of that principle.

Question put—"That the words proposed be therein inserted in the quotation."
The Committee divided. Tá, 41 ; Níl, 54.

  • Alton, Ernest Henry.
  • Anthony, Richard.
  • Beckett, James Walter.
  • Belton, Patrick.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Brennan, Michael.
  • Coburn, James.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Costello, John Aloysius.
  • Curran, Richard.
  • Daly, Patrick.
  • Davis, Michael.
  • Davitt, Robert Emmet.
  • Desmond, William.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Grattan.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Fitzgerald, Desmond.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Haslett, Alexander.
  • Holohan, Richard.
  • Kent, William Rice.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • MacDermot, Frank.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • McGuire, James Ivan.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Minch, Sydney B.
  • Morrisroe, James.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • O'Connor, Batt.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas Francis.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Mahony, The.
  • O'Sullivan, Gearoid.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Redmond, Bridget Mary.
  • Rice, Vincent.
  • Roddy, Martin.

Níl

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Browne, William Frazer.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Gibbons, Seán.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Jordan, Stephen.
  • Keely, Séamus P.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Kissane, Eamonn.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Cleary, Mícheál.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • O'Doherty, Joseph.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • O'Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Kelly, Seán Thomas.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C. (Dr.).
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Holohan and Fagan; Níl: Deputies Little and Smith.
Question declared lost.

I move amendment No. 6:—

In sub-section (1) (a) line 35, after the word "acquired" to insert the words "or resume."

This is merely a drafting amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 7:—

In sub-section (1) before paragraph (b) to insert a new paragraph as follows:—

the determination of the actual lands to be acquired.

Almost every argument that could be very well used in support of previous amendments that I moved can be used in support of this. I still hold the opinion that Deputy MacDermot's amendment does not really meet the point that he was anxious to cover. The Minister is attempting here to exercise the right to indicate to an inspector that he wants land in a certain townland. Indirectly he has the right to indicate that he wants land belonging to a certain individual. It has been demonstrated, in the course of this discussion, that the Minister undoubtedly has these powers under sub-section (2) in Section 2. If any Deputy has any doubt as to the extraordinary powers the Minister has got in regard to these particular matters, let him read Sections 28 and 31. In Section 31 the Land Commission, in other words the Minister, is given the widest possible power to take lands to relieve certain persons under the Act of 1923. He is given powers far in excess of any powers given under the Act of 1923. I still hold that the Minister under this particular sub-section can particularise, and give an indication to his commissioners, and through the commissioners to the inspectors in the country that he wants land in a certain townland indicating possibly the class and quality of the land, and even under the peculiar name that certain particular lands bear.

As everybody knows, there are many farms of land which bear certain local names. Even with Deputy MacDermot's addition to (a) the Minister can still get at the individual in another way. He can indicate indirectly to his inspectors: "I want Rockfield," in a certain townland of, say, County Kerry, or perhaps he may want another farm known by another local name in some other county. It is always possible, so long as this clause remains, for the Minister, the Land Commission, the commissioners or inspectors to particularise against certain land owners. My object is to remove that discrimination altogether from the Minister. There is no reason why the Minister should have any discrimination of that kind or should have any power which would permit him to discriminate against any landowner. In the past the Land Commission had a right to say, and the Minister had no right to interfere with them, what land they required in any particular county. As a matter of fact, that arrangement worked out very satisfactorily.

The Minister can rest assured that unless he does make some alteration in sub-section (1) (a) he will cause a great deal of uneasiness amongst many landholders. Amongst legal people the feeling exists that under this section the Minister has the right to say that he needs land from any particular individual in any townland in this country. Perhaps the Minister cannot say it directly, but indirectly he can exercise that power. That is a positive source of danger and, even though the power is never used by the Minister, the fact that it is incorporated in a Land Act is bound to cause insecurity and uneasiness. There is no justification for it.

The Minister says he wants power to deal with the relief of congestion. In my opinion he has all the powers he requires. The Minister is not going to succeed in solving the problem by taking those additional powers to himself. If he wants to deal with the problem of congestion he should look into the machine he is controlling in the Land Commission and see if, by loosening that machine in certain respects, he will not achieve much more than he will under the certain additional powers he is seeking here. These powers will not help him to speed up the relief of congestion. So long as this section remains in the Bill it will create uneasiness amongst tenant farmers. It may be that many of them, as a consequence of this power and the possibility of the Minister acquiring their lands, may allow some portion of their lands to go derelict. That will be a danger to the industry. I suggest that the Minister should reconsider this clause between now and the Report Stage. Perhaps he might draft a fresh clause which will remove the words to which we are taking objection and which will place the acquisition of land solely and absolutely in the Land Commission.

I have no objection to accepting the amendment, but I believe that it is already in sub-section (1) (a). We have the phrases "The determination of the actual lands to be acquired," and "The determination of the individuals from whom land is to be acquired." There is no difference in practice. If the Deputy thinks the thing will be improved and he wants to force the amendment, I am prepared to accept it.

Mr. Lynch

We would like to have it.

The Minister appears to be adopting the same attitude with regard to this amendment as he adopted in the case of Deputy MacDermot's amendment.

But he is prepared to accept it.

I am accepting it.

Amendment 7 agreed to.

I move amendment 8:—

In sub-section (1) (b), line 37, after the word "acquired" to insert the words "or resumed."

This is purely a drafting amendment.

Amendment 8 agreed to.

I move amendment 9:—

In sub-section (1), after line 41, to insert a new paragraph as follows:—"The determination of the question whether any lands so proposed to be acquired are required for the relief of congestion."

This amendment is drafted for the purpose of placing the problem of the relief of congestion entirely in the hands of the Land Commission. It covers perhaps a somewhat wider field than amendment 7, in the sense that it covers all classes of land this country required for the relief of congestion— tenanted and untenanted land, retained and resumed land, and so on. This amendment follows logically on my previous amendment.

I am anxious that any possible trace of discrimination should be removed from this sub-section. It would be a matter exclusively for the commissioners to say what lands are to be acquired for the relief of congestion and what lands are not to be acquired. I am anxious that that should be removed from the Minister's control altogether. It would be a matter also for the Land Commissioners to direct the inspectors as to what lands they are to visit for the purpose of ascertaining whether they are suitable for the relief of congestion. It would be for the Land Commission also to say what portion of a particular farm shall be retained or resumed for the relief of congestion and what portion the tenant will be allowed to retain for his own use. These matters in the past were left at the discretion of the Land Commission. They are matters which I want left to the complete discretion of the Land Commissioners in future.

If the Deputy is aiming at preventing the Minister from determining the person from whom land is to be acquired, I think that is definitely covered in sub-section (1) (a). I have already accepted the Deputy's amendment in reference to the determination of the actual lands to be acquired.

Sub-section (1) (a) does not cover my amendment at all. My amendment means simply that the Minister shall exercise no control whatsoever over the Land Commission in the acquisition of land for the relief of congestion. Under Sections 28 and 31 the Land Commission is given most extraordinary powers, and according to Section 2 of this Bill the Minister himself is really the Land Commission for the purpose of giving effect to Sections 28 and 31. I want, under this amendment, to substitute the Land Commissioners for the Minister; in other words, to give the Land Commissioners complete control so far as the carrying into effect of Sections 28 and 31 is concerned.

Will the Deputy explain the determination of the lands "so proposed to be acquired"? Where are they "so proposed" and what does the "so proposed to be acquired" mean?

Any lands which may be acquired—which will be acquired. The amendment only relates to this particular Bill. I want to ensure that the Minister shall have no authority whatsoever to say what lands shall be acquired for the relief of congestion, that that authority shall rest entirely and absolutely in the hands of the commissioners.

The Deputy wants excepted from the Minister powers of determination of any particular land required for the relief of congestion from any individual person. That is already in the Bill. The Minister cannot determine that land shall be taken from any individual.

The Minister has admitted himself——

I cannot follow the Deputy's amendment, I must confess. The words "so proposed" have no relation to anything.

Surely the amendment is perfectly clear, that it is to remove from the Minister power to direct the Land Commission to acquire any land on which they may have their eye for the relief of congestion. Under the Bill can they not say that any land is required for the relief of congestion and immediately all the safeguards fall to the ground because they will have a perfect answer when the same land is required for another purpose? It is proposed to withdraw from the Minister the power to make the Land Commission issue the necessary certificate. Under Section 31, where the lay commissioners certify that the land is required for resale, "the Land Commission shall have and may exercise in respect of such lands all or any of the powers that they may have in relation to acquiring land for the relief of congestion." Heretofore they have a right to make that certificate and there was an appeal to the judicial commissioner. Now, the proposal is, that the Minister shall have the power, and in that case the appeal would be to the appeal tribunal. But the Minister has absolute control over the lay commissioners. He has absolute power under Section 2, and here it is proposed to make an excepted matter of where the land is to be acquired for the relief of congestion. If Deputy Roddy's amendment is accepted nobody can make the certificate except the Land Commission.

I press on the Minister to accept the amendment because it really carries out and amplifies sub-section (1) of Section 6 which relates to the individuals, the land to be acquired and other matters connected with the acquisition of land. This question as to whether the land is or is not required for the relief of congestion, is in connection with the determination of the lands to be acquired and the amendment should be accepted to keep the section in harmony with itself. It is a matter which ought to be excepted in the powers of the Minister. This question as to whether land is to be acquired or not for the relief of congestion is treated in a very particular manner in later sections. It has been pointed out by Deputy Dillon that there is no appeal from the Land Commissioners to the appeal tribunal and if the object of the section is, as I take it, to be that the Land Commission is to acquire without external political pressure, the safeguard in the amendment should be included. I would press upon the Minister to have the matter left for the determination of the Land Commissioners and not for the Minister.

Thé determination of the persons from whom land is to be acquired is already excepted and so is the resumption of any land for any particular purpose. I cannot see the force of this amendment and I do not want to agree to anything which would appear to be excepting from the Minister the authority and responsibility for seeing that lands are acquired for the relief of congestion. The Minister cannot say that any particular lands are to be acquired for the relief of congestion or that so-and-so's lands are to be acquired. That is in the section. I do not see any force in these amendments and I am not going to accept them.

Would the Minister accept an amendment relating to the definition of the purposes for which lands are to be acquired?

That is already done. It was done in the 1923 Act and we have an amendment in Section 31 of this Bill. It could be discussed on that section.

Surely there are other matters besides relief of congestion for which land can be acquired. Then, if so, the argument which the Minister has put forward completely falls down. I would point out to him another answer in the actual wording of this amendment.

Will the Deputy relate the words "so proposed" to the section? Let us take it the "so" goes out.

"The determination of any lands proposed to be acquired for the relief of congestion." Surely it refers back to the lands mentioned in the previous clause. The determination of the individuals is excepted and the determination of the price is to be excepted and the determination of the purpose when the purpose is the relief of congestion is also to be excepted.

I suggest to the Minister that he should not keep in his own hands the determination of this question of whether the lands are to be acquired for the relief of congestion when that is a matter which is taken out of the judicial discretion of the appeal tribunal and left to the lay commissioners. If this clause does not go in, then the lay commissioners are not free and not unfettered in their judgment. In fact, if they give a court decision, they must obey, under that court decision, the orders of the Minister under sub-section (2) unless this clause or some clause similar to it is inserted in the Bill. If it is only a question of wording or anything of that kind, I suggest that the Minister should accept it subject to redrafting for the Report Stage. It seems to me that this is a very important amendment, because it would appear to me that this is giving the Minister, unless this is inserted, control over the lay commissioners in the exercise of their judicial discretion which, I think, everybody would think undesirable and which, I am sure, the Minister does not want. It is very much better for the Minister not to have powers which he does not want than to have them.

In clause (a), as it stands the determination of the individuals from whom land may be acquired is excepted from the Minister's power. The lands must be acquired for some purpose or other, and the widest power the commissioners have is to acquire land for the relief of congestion, so that one of the excepted powers is the determination of the persons from whom land is to be acquired for any purpose, including the purpose of the relief of congestion.

Those words are not here.

Lands must be acquired for some purpose. They are not going to be acquired merely for the fun of it. The Land Commission could not acquire lands simply for the fun of it. They acquire lands for certain specific legal purposes and, no matter for what purpose they propose to acquire land, the Minister has no finger in the pie as to the particular individual from whom land is to be acquired. That is already in the section.

There is a question as to whether land is or is not required for the relief of congestion. That is going to be determined. Let us assume that the present occupant says that it is not required for the relief of congestion. The Land Commission says it is. Those questions are determined in court from time to time, as everybody knows. Unless these words, or words similar to these, go in, the Minister makes himself the sole judge as to whether the lands are or are not required for the relief of congestion. If they are not required, they cannot be taken up in certain circumstances, or they can only be taken up for certain purposes, principally for the relief of congestion. That is a question which the present occupant wishes to have tested. He says the lands are not required. The case goes before the Land Commission and the Land Commission, because it is not an excepted matter as the Bill now stands, must decide as the Minister tells them. I should like to know from the Minister, if he says they are already included, what is the harm in putting in these words into the Bill? To my mind they are not included and it would relieve a certain amount of doubt, in my opinion, and, I am sure, in the opinion of a great many other Deputies, if this question was left to the lay commissioners as a tribunal and not to the Minister.

Does not this apply to Section 24 of the Land Act of 1923, which led off by stating that certain lands which the Land Commission should declare to be acquired for the purpose of relieving congestion should vest in the Land Commission, and then went on to state in clauses (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (f) and (g) the various classes of land to which it would not apply. Then sub-section (3) stated:

Notwithstanding anything contained in the foregoing sub-sections, where the Land Commission before the appointed day declare in the prescribed manner that any land wherever situated, hereinbefore excluded from the operation of this section (other than land which comes within the description in clause (f) of sub-section (2) of this section), is required for the purpose of relieving congestion, then such land shall vest in the Land Commission pursuant to this section.

Then there are other provisions which apply in the event of that declaration being made. That was the function of the Land Commission, and by sub-section (2) of Section 6 of this Bill the Minister has the right to tell the Land Commission to do anything he wants them to do, save in so far as certain things are excepted. The object of this amendment is to make the thing provided in sub-section (3) of the Land Act of 1923 a reserve matter. If the Minister can find a better means of doing it, perhaps he will say so, and I have no doubt that Deputy Roddy will withdraw his amendment for redrafting on the Report Stage.

I cannot see what the Deputy is driving at in this amendment unless he is endeavouring to tighten up clause (a), which, I think, is tight enough already. However, if he wants to bring in an amendment on the Report Stage I will look into the matter again, and the Deputy can have a vote on the amendment on Report Stage if he thinks the matter is not already covered. I think, however, if he gets down to the real reading of the clause, he will find the point is already covered.

Will the Minister refer to sub-section (3) of the 1923 Act?

I am going to consider the whole matter.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn, to be reintroduced on the Report Stage.

I move amendment No. 10:—

In sub-section (3) (a), line 25, to delete the words "appeal tribunal" and substitute the words "judicial commissioner."

This amendment raises, in my opinion, one of three vital issues that have been challenged by the Land Bill of 1933. I propose in sub-section (3) (a), to delete the first reference that appears in this Bill to the appeal tribunal. In order to explain my reason for doing so, I must advert briefly to Section 7, which prescribes the manner in which that tribunal will be constituted.

Would the Deputy be prepared to take amendments 10, 11 and 12 together?

I am quite prepared to discuss them all together, and, accordingly, I move amendments Nos. 11 and 12:—

To delete sub-section (3) (b).

In sub-section (4), line 34, to delete the words "or to the appeal tribunal"; and in lines 36 and 37 to delete the words "or their functions by the appeal tribunal."

These raise the questions of the appeal tribunal. Section 7 defines the manner in which this appeal tribunal shall be constituted. It is to be constituted by "the judicial commissioner and any two of the officers of the Land Commision 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."

The first question arises as to whether this tribunal is in conformity with the provisions of the Constitution at all. As I understand it, no person has a right to impose obligations—I think these are the words, the actual words escape me at the moment—there is a question in the Constitution on matters that affect the rights or impose obligations. I had the correct words a few moments ago, but they have escaped my memory.

Here we have a proposal to instal two persons who will have all the powers implied by that definition and who are for the time being nominated by the Executive Council. They are removable. It is necessary, to understand the situation to consider the circumstances under which the peculiar terms of the tenure of a judge were first evolved. It is only right that members of this House should remember that the peculiar position occupied by judges in this country and in Great Britain arose from the fact that at one time the Executive Council attempted to corrupt and coerce judges to do injustice to the citizens of the State in cases in which the Executive Council was interested. It was found that where there are two parties to litigation, one the State and the other the citizen, every time, in the opinion of the Executive, judgment had to be for the State. So the administration of justice between any Department of State and the citizen became an absolute travesty. The State could do what they pleased versus the citizen. The State at that time happened to be virtually a despot king, and it was then that the British Houses of Parliament intervened and extracted from the sovereign of the day legislation which gave complete protection to any high court judge and made it impossible for the Executive to interfere with his emoluments or to dismiss him from his position except for cause stated and with over a two-thirds majority of the two Houses of the Legislature.

Is the Deputy's objection to the appeal tribunal based on the fact that as this Bill stands they are not being given any fixity of tenure——

If there was a proviso that the two lay commissioners were to be removable not by the Executive Executive Council but by the Dáil, would the Deputy have the same objection to the section? I ask that because I propose on the Report Stage to bring in an amendment which will cover the fixity of tenure of the two lay commissioners and that they will not be removable except by the Dáil.

By the wishes of the Oireachtas?

Well, say by the Dáil.

If the Minister proposes to constitute these two lay commissioners high court judges my opposition disappears.

A high court judge has to be five or ten years a practising barrister—is not that so? I do not believe that a man who has practised at the Bar for ten years is the best possible man to fix the price of land. I believe that a member of the Land Commission is a much more practical man to be a judge of the price of land than a man who is simply a lawyer. About fixity of tenure we can meet that point. But to have the same status and to be actually high court judges, these are matters with which we could not agree.

Would the Minister consent to this—would he accept the spirit of my amendment No. 12—that he would give them the fixity of tenure of the high court judge and (2) that he would provide that questions of law would be decided to be questions of law on the certificate of the judicial commissioner and not decided by a majority of the appeal tribunal?

We are discussing perhaps one of the most complicated codes of law that have been evolved in this country. We have two persons of wide experience in the administration of the Land Commission in collision with the high court judge, on the question whether somebody has not got a legal right under the statute passed by this House, to certain consideration. Now I maintain if such a question comes for decision the only person competent to decide that is a high court judge. Observe this that you have an appeal on every point of law from a high court judge to the Supreme Court but you have no appeal on any point which will have been decided by the appeal tribunal.

Seeing that there is no appeal on a question of fact or price from the appeal court is it not better to associate with a legal man two men who have a thorough knowledge of the working of the Land Commission?

Certainly, but the Minister misses my point. The Bill prescribes that the tribunal is to be composed of one judicial commissioner and two lay commissioners. The judicial commissioner says: "This is a pure point of law, and no question of fact at all", the lay commissioners say: "Nonsense, it is purely a question of common sense."

The Attorney-General

We are getting rather into a difficulty in discussing two things at the same time. In order to come to a decision in this matter Deputies may require some enlightment. Is not this a question—as to whether a question of law is to be decided by a majority of the commissioners—a separate point entirely from the question of tenure?

Mr. Lynch

It is.

The Attorney-General

We are prepared to bring in on Report a sub-section giving fixity of tenure to the new commissioners. This will give them tenure analogous to what the High Court Judges have under the present system. That disposes of one point and it is better not to discuss the second point until we come to it.

The reason I venture to raise it now is because both are connected.

The Attorney-General

We are agreeing to one point, that is about the fixity of tenure. We cannot agree to the second point about who is to decide what is a question of law.

I propose to delete references to the appeal tribunal and we have another amendment down to delete references about commissioners deciding a point of law. The Minister has met me on the question of the fixity of tenure for the lay commissioners. On the second point to allow the commissioners to have a right to decide whether a point was a point of law or not is a difficult matter from our point of view. It would make the position of the judicial commissioner absolutely impossible because he would be sitting there and might never be allowed to give an opinion.

The Attorney-General

Are we discussing that particular point now or not?

I am profoundly affected in my decision as to whether I would be prepared to accept the appeal tribunal at all by the question as to whether this right is to be retained for the lay members of that tribunal to override the judicial commissioner.

If that is the Deputy's objection we had better fight it out now, because we have definitely decided that as to whether a question is a matter of fact or a matter of law is to be determined, not by the judicial commissioner alone, but by a majority of the appeal tribunal.

I desire it to go on record now on that question, that I consider it is of vital importance and, so far as I am aware, is at complete variance with the whole practice of the law. The Attorney-General will correct me if I am wrong when I say that at present, if there is an appeal from the Circuit judge to the appeal commissioners, it is for the High Court judge to say whether, in respect of any matter, the question is a matter of fact or a matter of law. If the High Court judge certifies that it is a matter of fact, I think I am right in saying that no appeal lies to the appeal commissioners.

The Attorney-General

I do not follow.

Suppose you had an appeal to-morrow from the Circuit Court to the appeal commissioners here in Dublin——

The Attorney-General

The High Court.

The two judges sitting together for the hearing of Circuit Court appeals. The Attorney-General is familiar with the position?

The Attorney-General

Yes.

Suppose the Circuit Court judge certified that he has found any particular issue that was a matter of fact, you are immediately precluded from an appeal. There is no appeal from the Circuit judge on a matter of fact.

The Attorney-General

There is. It more or less works out that way in practice, but there is an appeal on fact just as on law.

The determination of whether a matter is a question of fact or a question of law is very specifically reserved to the judge in an ordinary court, and the jury has nothing to do with it. For instance, take any case in which a judge and jury are sitting together; the judge will refer certain questions to the jury, but the judge on the bench will decide which matter is a matter of law and which is a matter of fact. Certainly the jury is never called into consultation as to whether a matter is one of fact or of law. Will the Attorney-General admit that?

The Attorney-General

The jury are given directions as to what is the law. They decide on the question of fact.

And in this case it is the jury that is going to direct the judicial commissioner as to whether it is a question of law or not. That is the proposal. The proposal is that the jury, two ordinary intelligent citizens, two members of a special jury, are here going to rise up from the jury box and tell the judge "this is a matter of fact and not a matter of law, and, therefore, your decision is not required." I desire to reverse that, and establish the ordinary practice of court that where you have a question of pure law no members of the jury are qualified to decide; that the judge will direct the finding on the question of law, and that it will not be in the power of the jury—the common or special jury—to withdraw from the judge the direction on a point of law. The power we are giving to the two lay commissioners here is just the same as if we gave power to a special jury to dispense with the direction of a High Court judge on a point of law. I say it ought to be in the power of the judicial commissioner to say: "This is a point of law; as a High Court judge I decide it." As it is, the judicial commissioners can override him, and I think that is wrong.

I am glad the Minister is prepared to meet us on the first point, and I hope he will see his way before the debate concludes to meet us on the second one. If he does, in my opinion the primary objection to the appeal tribunal is gone, but if not I think the appeal tribunal becomes a very dangerous instrument.

I have more confidence in the jury than Deputy Dillon. I think that it should be possible for the judicial commissioner, if a matter of coming to a decision between a question of law and a question of fact arises, to induce one member of the jury to agree with him as a lawyer that the matter is in fact a question of law. Deputy Dillon referred to a special jury. I take it that the two men who will act as lay commissioners on this appeal tribunal will be intelligent men.

Mr. Rice

On a point of order, is this discussion relevant to this amendment? There is an amendment further down to delete certain words from the section; in other words to provide that only the judicial commissioner shall decide whether the question is a question of law or not. I suggest that the discussion at the moment is out of order, because we are not dealing with that amendment which expressly raises that question.

The Deputy is right. It would be more relevant to the subsequent amendment.

That question was decided in advance, and it was agreed, I think, that this was to be thrashed out now. I am following up the case made by Deputy Dillon.

If the House desires it that way.

As I was saying, the two men who would be acting as lay commissioners on the appeal tribunal would, I take it, be fairly intelligent men. While they would not necessarily have the understanding of the law that a legal man would have, I am sure that they would be capable of following the arguments that would be advanced by the judicial commissioner if a dispute arose between the members of the tribunal as to what was a question of law and what was a question of fact. I think the Minister is entitled to insist upon that section as it stands—that this matter can only be determined, not by the judicial commissioner, but by a majority of the appeal tribunal.

Mr. Rice

I think a Chinn Comhairle it is your ruling that a discussion of the later amendment is relevant on the present one?

The Minister I think expressed a desire to have it thrashed out now. The three amendments, Nos. 10, 11 and 12, are being taken together.

Does that mean that if we do not speak at this point we cannot speak later?

Mr. Rice

It comes along again on amendment 17, and if that amendment is discussed now I should like to say a few words with reference to the matter. The proposal in the section as it stands, sub-section (3), introduces a revolutionary principle into our system of law. In our system of law, and in every other system of which I have any knowledge, the functions of a judge and jury, or other lay members of the tribunal who may be sitting with a judge, are carefully separated, so as to leave to the judge the decision on questions of law, and to leave to the members of the jury the decision on questions of fact. That is a fundamental distinction in our system of law, and it is a fundamental distinction in every system of law, English, American and every other of which I have any knowledge. Where a judge is sitting with a jury the judge intervenes to withdraw from the jury certain considerations which may arise on the evidence, telling them that these are matters for his consideration, being purely questions of law. Here it is proposed not merely to take from the judge the power of deciding what is a question of law, but it is also proposed to vest in the members of the tribunal, that is the majority of two, the right to overrule the view he forms. He may say: "Here a question of law arises," and the other two members of the tribunal may say that they disagree with him. He isipso facto by that decision of theirs, overruled, and they decide— and finally decide—whether any question of law arises. Of course, I said— and I do not want to repeat what I said on the Second Reading debate— that one of the most difficult questions which judges have to determine, after long experience is whether a question that arises is one of law or of fact. Sometimes it may be a question of mixed law and fact. Here you are putting into the hands of the lay members of the tribunal the decision of a question which is one of the most difficult for judges to decide. This is introducing an entirely novel principle into our system of law. I think it is a vicious system, because laymen cannot have the qualifications to determine these matters. Juries have been set up because it is the experience of people that they are better judges of fact than lawyers. In that I agree. But that a layman could be a better judge of law, even against a judge with the training and experience he has, is a bad principle to assert. I say it is introducing a vicious system to provide the two laymen can overrule a judge on what is in its nature a question of law.

I want to express the hope that the Attorney-General, when he comes to reply, will indicate clearly what the reasons are that induced the Government to withdraw a question of determining whether a question is one of law or fact from the judicial commissioner. I am rather inclined to agree with Deputy Smith in thinking that there could be no great objection to two lay commissioners, chosen on the grounds of their intelligence and knowledge of affairs, deciding on matters of law or fact except that it is a departure from established principle and one on which the Government seem to be rather suspiciously keen. I confess that suspicions are aroused by the fact that they seem to be anxious to take away the determination of these matters from the judicial commissioner who, we think, could be relied upon to come to a saner conclusion on these matters.

The Attorney-General

My opinion about this section is that in practice it will work out that the judicial commissioner's view of what is a question of law or fact will be accepted on every occasion. This discussion is largely academic. I am not prepared to answer Deputy MacDermot's question as to why it was brought in.

The Attorney-General is not prepared to answer the question. Why?

The Attorney-General

Simply I am not, but I do object strongly to Deputy Rice's statement. Either he did not hear my speech, or did not read what I said, on the Second Reading. He repeated here just now almost verbatim what he himself said on Second Reading.

Mr. Rice

Does the Attorney-General suggest that I ought to accept his views on the matter?

The Attorney-General

I do. As I say the Deputy repeated what he said on Second Reading, when he characterised this section as introducing a vicious and a revolutionary principle. If the Deputy bears with me for a moment I will point out to him that in the Second Reading debate I gave a precedent for a similar provision. That was the provision which gave two commissioners wider powers in deciding what is a question of law and what is a question of fact than we are giving here in this Bill. I then read the section of the Railway and Canal Traffic Act

There is no analogy.

Mr. Rice

And the Attorney-General should not refer to a matter that is stillsub judice.

The Attorney-General

We are in Committee, and the Deputy can make as many speeches as he likes. I was referring to the fact that I gave, as a precedent for this type of legislation, the provisions of sub-section (3) of Section 5 of the Railway and Canal Traffic Act of 1888. That section lays it down that no less than three commissioners should attend a hearing, the ex-officio commissioner shall preside and his opinion on any questions which in the opinion of the commissioners is a question of law shall prevail. That section was quoted by me and unless the Deputy is prepared to say that no such law is in existence, or unless perhaps he is so national that in referring to "our" system of law he only includes what has been enacted since 1922 he must accept that argument. But this section to which I referred of the Railway and Canal Act would be accepted as a precedent in England.

Mr. Rice

Perhaps I know more about the law since 1922 than the Attorney-General does.

The Attorney-General

I do not intend to be offensive to the Deputy, and I do not know why he should be offensive to me. But I think I am entitled to complain that when I made an answer to his speech on the Second Reading of this Bill, he did not take the trouble to familiarise himself with what I said, but rather repeats verbatim what he said on the Second Reading. Deputy Cosgrave spoke after me on that occasion, and he referred to this, and his answer to the analogy was not that there was no analogy, but it was that it was not on all fours with the present instance, because the commissioners there had a certain tenure of office which the commissioners here under this Bill have not. The force of that particular criticism has now been removed. We are now putting the commissioners under this Bill in much the same position as the lay commissioners under the Railway and Canal Traffic Act. There they were appointed by one of the Ministers of the British Cabinet. He appointed two lay commissioners as men of experience in these matters. These two commissioners had the same jurisdiction committed to them that we are committing to our commissioners here. Again, Deputy Rice seems to have confused the matter of deciding a question of law and deciding whether a question is one of law or of fact. As Deputy Smith put it, we are appointing two men of intelligence and experience in the working of land legislation, with some conception of what are the outlines, shall we say, of our land legislation, and with sufficient intelligence to appreciate the difficulty as to what is a question of fact and what is a question of law. I would say, with all respect, that two men of very high intelligence are quite capable of deciding as to whether a question is a question of law or of fact. I should say the number of cases in which this point will arise at all, if it ever does arise, are infinitesimal. Since we have given an undertaking that we would give the lay commissioners tenure corresponding to that of judges there seems to be no urge upon such a commissioner to decide in any way except the way in which his intelligence guides him.

Can we assume that the Executive Council will not appoint to these offices political partisans?

The Attorney-General

The effect of giving security of tenure to any office is that the moment a man is appointed he can snap his fingers at whoever appointed him. This whole matter has been dealt with in this debate in an abstract way. No instance has been given of the type of question that might arise, and that might give trouble in this regard. Deputy Rice talked wildly about this revolutionary principle. But here we are dealing with a code of laws which to a large extent is shaped towards the administration by the Land Commission of the land code and shaped so as to enable it to carry through the just distribution of the land in certain ways.

I should rather think that it would be quite logical to remove the judicial commissioner away from the Land Commission altogether and allow the Land Commission as a body to administer the land code. That would be quite a logical and defensible thing to do. I am sure I cannot be accused of wishing to curtail the activities of the judiciary in any way. I consider that in administering the land code an experienced man such as a lay commissioner is a much more important cog in the wheel than the judicial commissioner. We are leaving the judicial commissioner there. As Deputy Smith said, he cannot be credited with very much power of persuasion if he is not able, on a mere question as to whether a matter before them is or is not a matter of law, to bring one of his colleagues with him. I do not see the slightest danger from this section. I do not admit it is revolutionary. I think the position of the commissioners in relation to the administration of the land code is very close to the position of the commissioners under the Railways and Canal Traffic Act, and the reasons which induced the British Parliament, which Deputy Dillon seems to think are so impressed with the necessity for having an independent judiciary and committing matters to judicial personages, to embody that section in that Act are very much like the reasons which induced us to embody this section in our Bill.

There is this vital difference, that in connection with the tribunal set up under the Railways and Canal Traffic Act there was a means whereby any person aggrieved by any decision of the tribunal could bring the whole matter up for review before a High Court by a writ of mandamus. Is not that so?

The Attorney-General

I could not say offhand.

Surely the Attorney-General is aware that the findings of such a tribunal can be reviewed by the High Court unless it is specifically ruled by statute that such findings are definitely final.

The Attorney-General

I do not see that that makes any difference in the case that I have made.

Here we have a tribunal from which there is no appeal. You have put it in the power of the lay commissioners, who are not judicial persons, to decide not only the case brought before them, but to decide also whether the person concerned shall have the right of appeal from them or not. They can decide not only as between the Land Commission and the aggrieved party, but also whether the aggrieved party will have the right to go to the High Courts. In my opinion, the analogy which the Attorney-General makes between this tribunal and the Railway Tribunal falls to the ground. So long as you have a right of appeal from any decision of a tribunal to the High Courts, then you can go a long way towards having your wrong redressed if your case is a just one, but the moment you make the findings of a tribunal final, that chance of appeal is lost.

The Attorney-General

There was no appeal on a question of fact from the commissioners under the Railway and Canal Traffic Act.

Where it is definitely stated that the findings of the tribunal should be final, the aggrieved party has no redress. In the ordinary course a right of appeal would lie to the High Court, where a case would be fully reviewed.

The Attorney-General

I cannot at the moment see any method of testing them on a question of fact.

The Attorney-General must know that in the case of any body held out as being a body which is to give a decision as between two parties, unless there is something in the statute debarring one from applying for a writ, an aggrieved party is entitled to have the finding of that body fully reviewed by the High Court. I am quite well aware that the Attorney-General can play ducks and drakes with me if he starts querying what the procedure is. He knows that very well.

The Attorney-General

I do not think the Deputy is quite right.

Surely the Attorney-General will agree that the ordinary citizen feels he has a right to invoke the High Courts on the grounds that justice was not done him. Does not the statute say in this case that the determinations of the tribunal shall be final and no appeal can follow?

The Attorney-General

There can be no appeal.

Would the High Courts entertain an application in that respect?

The Attorney-General

That is a matter for the High Courts.

It is a matter in regard to which the Attorney-General has a shrewd idea. I fancy he knows the High Court will not. That destroys the analogy the Attorney-General has sought to establish between this tribunal and the Railway and Canals Act.

What puzzles me is that the Attorney-General is calling on the Opposition to provide illustrations. Surely it is for him to provide illustrations of the sort of questions that might arise.

I want to know from Deputy Dillon and those opposed to the section if they can give us some indication as to what question would be likely to come before the appeal tribunal. In what way is an injustice likely to be done? It seems to me that the determination of a question of law or fact might not come before the tribunal very often and that the opinion of the judicial commissioner would likely be accepted. I would like to have some case that might arise where an injustice would be done.

Why not from the Attorney-General, who is proposing an innovation?

Mr. Rice

The Attorney-General replying to what I had to say, thought fit to suggest that I had not heard or read some relevant matter and what he suggested as relevant matter was his own speech. I did not refer to the Attorney-General's reference or the example he had given, because I thought it was not a proper course to refer to a matter that was stillsub judice. The Attorney-General knows well that the question as to whether the Railway Tribunal has the powers as suggested under that section is pending decision in the High Court.

The Attorney-General

In what High Court?

Mr. Rice

Before Mr. Justice Sullivan, Mr. Justice Hanna, and Mr. Justice O'Byrne. It is a case at the instance of the Great Southern Railways.

The Attorney-General

Against me?

Mr. Rice

The Attorney-General is a party to the litigation.

The Attorney-General

Surely the Deputy is aware that my reference was to the Railways and Canals Traffic Act of 1888.

Mr. Rice

Well, whether the Attorney-General referred to the Railways and Canals Traffic Act or to the Railway Tribunal, the particular question to which I have referred is pending decision at the present moment and therefore should not be discussed here.

There is another matter. The Attorney-General said that the discretion is a matter of form, because in practically every case the view of the judicial commissioner will be accepted by the two lay commissioners. Why then is the exception made? Why is the provision inserted that the lay commissioners can override him, and does the Attorney-General take the view that the lay commissioners will regard it as farcical to ask them to determine what is and is not a question of law?

This is my first contribution to this measure. Anything I have to say about it I said before I came into the House. I am astonished at the opposition that this Bill has received at the hands of the lawyers. It has been attacked by four of them, and what is the reason for the attack? Apparently their objection is that if there is to be a decree against a farmer in future and it has not the solicitor's costs added to the bill it is a very grave hardship. Another point is about the appeal tribunal. We are told that lawyers and not farmers are able to decide on that question. They say that no farmer is intelligent enough to do so. I wonder will they follow that argument a little further, and if they do in the near future we will have a House full of lawyers and nobody else. I would ask the lawyers in the future when they are debating this Bill to remember that this is a Land Act and that the men who have to work the Land Act are the farmers and they are going to work it without so many lawyers' costs in the future.

You will be disillusioned.

Intervening in this debate it seems to me as an ordinary layman that what the Attorney-General said that it was not at all likely that the lay commissioners would disagree with the judicial commissioner is correct. I do not think that there will be any difference of opinion between them. I am in agreement on that point with the Attorney-General and Deputy Smith, but while it is not at all likely to arise, it might arise, and there is no reason why it should be included. It is not a very sound principle to embody this in an Act of Parliament giving power to two lay commissioners to override the judicial commissioner. It is a principle that ought not to be adopted. Perhaps in many matters of life it would be very pleasing to many litigants if some of their difficulties could be determined in that manner, the principle that the Minister insists upon in this Bill. Litigants outside would be pleased if this power could be extended to give people who are not lawyers power to determine the law. What are lawyers and judges for? Surely they are there to decide the law. If this section is passed it might be extended and laymen would usurp the functions of the legal men. Perhaps I am exaggerating.

You are not exaggerating one bit.

I am not exaggerating what could possibly happen; perhaps I am exaggerating what can likely happen. We should be very careful to prevent impossible things happening, and it is not outside possibility that these two lay commissioners would question the law of the judicial commissioner and refuse to agree with him. That is the principle we should not agree to. That is the reason I am opposing this section.

I find it very difficult to understand any proposal in which a judge becomes an advocate on the bench and must persuade one of his lay brethren that he is right before he can get his support. That, in substance, is what this section comes to.

It means to withdraw from the judge and the bench the decision as to what is or is not a question of law. It gives the power to a special jury that a judge should have.

The Attorney-General

No.

Yes. The special jury will decide.

The Attorney-General

There is no special jury now.

You have special juries in Great Britain—men well versed in the habits of trade or something of that kind. It was customary in the courts for the judge to decide what are the pertinent questions for the jury to take into consideration. Here we have the reverse process and are going to establish that the jury will decide what are the proper questions for the judge. The Attorney-General has dug up a most disreputable precedent in advocating this section. The whole practice of the law is against him. I see Deputy Geoghegan sitting there in silence and I would like him to enter into the fray and tell us whether he thinks this is a desirable thing. It is a rotten precedent. I wonder would the Attorney-General himself like to take the position that the judicial commissioner is put in by this section. It is putting the judicial commissioner on the shelf. If the Attorney-General were a High Court Judge would he like to have his status altered? If the Government can find a gentleman who will accept a judicial commissionership on these terms it will be a source of very considerable surprise to me.

Is the Deputy not making a mistake that the judge is to be relegated to the background, in any case, even on a question of law? The analogy of a judge and jury is quite imperfect. The jury decides certain things for itself. In this case what Deputy Dillon is calling the jury will not decide questions of law.

In this case the privilege will be conferred on the judge of coming into the jury box himself, when the jury will let him in.

What the Deputy calls the jury will not decide by itself any particular thing. The only question is that there are certain things in which the judicial commissioner will alone have the deciding voice.

But not on what he knows most about, law.

On that question one cannot be very prejudiced because when you look around and see ordinary persons—taken at random you might say— making the law, it does not seem a strange step to take. Presumably these commissioners who are working day after day on a particular specialised task will be asked to give their advice in deciding whether a question is a matter of law or of fact.

Why should they?

I think Deputy Dillon is exaggerating when he says it is outraging the law and that it is revolutionary. With regard to the fault he has found with the Attorney-General's analogy, I call his attention to a fact that the Attorney-General has not emphasised; the Railways and Canal Traffic Act goes much farther than the Bill before the House. In that case the commissioners must be unanimous, so that we are not going as far as the Railways and Canal Traffic Act went. That analogy is no use, Deputy Dillon will say, because there is an appeal there. There might be an appeal against that Railway and Canal Commission with regard to any particular matter, but on this question, whether any particular question was a question of law or of fact, I do not think there is any decision, and if a Deputy is satisfied that there is an appeal I should like if he would quote the Act and show it.

There is no Act; it is common law.

I gather that there cannot be any difference between Deputy Moore and the Attorney-General on this matter. I assume it represents the same point of view that a good layman is at least as good as a lawyer.

In deciding whether a question is one of law or of fact.

But that is often one of the most difficult things to decide and the Deputy may remember that when the Courts of Justice Act was going through one of the most difficult problems was what was a question of law and what of fact. Some people said: "Why cannot you have an appeal on questions of law alone?" Most of the judges I have discussed the problem with say that it is one of the most difficult matters, but according to Deputy Moore, any layman or woman can do it with a certain amount of instruction. I would be very much surprised to learn what was in fact a question of law and there would be no appeal from them in that because that in itself is not a question of fact, it is a question of law. That is why I object to the section. You are putting into the hands of two laymen the power to give decisions on what are questions of law. However much the Government may care to disguise whether it is a question of fact or of law that is a question of law. We ought to be in agreement in that that we are putting the deciding of questions of law into the hands of these lay commissioners. It may be easy to disguise it, but no matter how you dodge them it is there. I cannot say from my knowledge of the Land Commission whether there are mixed matters— matters of law and fact, which arise every day in law and in fact. Who is to decide that matter? The lay commissioners and the judge? Surely if there are such things as mixed matters it ought to be made clear if we are to take judicial decisions out of the hands of the judge and put the power into the hands of laymen. I hold that it is fundamentally wrong.

Certainly there are some matters on which I would prefer to get the opinion of two commonsense laymen rather than the opinion of a foolish lawyer. I think if the Deputies will look at our proposals they will see that they are a reasonable compromise. We want to get certain work done. We want to have associated with it a man who has a thorough knowledge of the law, a man with a thorough knowledge of Land Commission work. You get some lawyers who would not let you step on the floor; they would say "that is a question of law"— whether you have a legal right to do it. Some lawyers contend that everything is a question of law. We are setting up this tribunal and we are associating with a judge—a man who has to have ten years' practice at the Bar—men who have experience of Land Commission work. When the question is one of law the judicial commissioner has the deciding voice. When a question is one of fact the whole three members of the tribunal vote on that particular question. If there is a question about any decision, and there is a dispute whether it is a question of law or fact, then the laymen decide whether or not it is a question of law.

As far as land law is concerned, I believe that if you take any of the senior officials of the Land Commission who have been dealing with land for 20, 30 or 40 years you will find that they have a much more thorough knowledge of the law than any judge could possibly have. Any barrister practising at the Bar has a general knowledge of the law going through but Land Commissioners have a most detailed knowledge of the most complicated code of laws that it is possible to imagine and I think that in order to do the difficult work we require to be done the proposals we have put forward are the best possible. Of these men who will sit two of them will have a knowledge of land work and one man will be a lawyer or judge. Questions of fact, price of land, etc., should be assumed as questions for the tribunal as a whole and purely questions of law, matters for the judge.

Is it not quite clear that the Minister and Deputy Moore are standing on the same ground, that is, the judge is to be distrusted and the official is to be trusted.

Not necessarily.

Not necessarily —that is the force of the argument. The judge, because he is a judge, is not to be trusted.

The Attorney-General

Is the Deputy aware that we propose to confer the tenure of judges on the commissioners?

He says he would prefer to have the opinion of one working in the Land Commission for a number of years rather than one appointed as a judge. Now may I suggest that there is hardly a Government Department in any State, and possibly not even in this State, that does not think it has a perfect knowledge of law, a better knowledge of law than the lawyers outside or than the judges who decide. That is a common failing, I suggest, of Government Departments but it is not a failing that necessarily ought to be—if I may use a phrase that Deputy MacDermot says Labour Deputies use—enshrined in the law of this House, namely, that an official, because he has that administrative experience, is a more capable person to give a decision even on legal matters, as I gather now from the Minister, than a judge. I suggest that the Minister has gone quite beyond what is in the Bill itself in the revelation that he has made as to what is in his mind in reference to this particular matter.

Is not the determination of whether a thing is a matter of fact or of law itself a matter of law?

The Attorney-General

Deputy Dillon said that I produced a disreputable precedent, but if the Deputy had looked at the Act, as I thought he might have, he would find that the provisions in it are very elaborate, and that the judge who was to sit with the commissioners was appointed in England by the Lord Chancellor, in Scotland by the Lord President of the Court of Session, and in Ireland by the Lord Chancellor of Ireland. Apparently, it was not considered undignified to put a judge sitting with the lay commissioners created under that Act. I do not want to quarrel with Deputy Dillon because, apparently, he does not appreciate the way in which appeals may be taken and the way in which decisions of the court may be questioned, but he suggests that there is some very vital difference between the new tribunal which we will have under our Bill and the position which the commissioners held under the Act of 1888. Now there is this provision in the Act of 1888. "No appeal shall lie from the commissioners upon a question of fact, or upon any question regarding thelocus standi of a complainant.”

Who decided whether it was a question of fact or law?

The Attorney-General

Of course, I knew that Deputy O'Sullivan's subtle mind was playing around——

Will the Attorney-General answer the ques-question?

The Attorney-General

I will give the Deputy an answer in a moment. I think that at one time I took the Deputy too seriously when he got up on the Committee Stage on various occasions to raise points and when I sought to meet his points. I have come to the conclusion now that he enjoys letting his mind play round these points, but, apparently, he is not aware that this section in the Act which I have been quoting—the section in the Railways and Canals Traffic Act—is being relied on to show that this provision gave to the commissioners the right to decide whether a question was a question of fact or law, and that I was relying on it as a precedent for what is in our Bill. Apparently the Deputy is not aware of that. The Deputy asked who was to decide under that Act whether it was a question of fact. I already referred to that Act on the Second Reading of the Bill.

Deputy Cosgrave referred to my introduction of it in the discussion, and made the point, which we have now met, that there was a difference in the tenure of the commissioners. We have met that now and put the commissioners somewhat in the same position. Deputy O'Sullivan enjoyed himself on this during the afternoon, and now asks me: who decided under that Act what was a question of fact? The commissioners. Does that knock the bottom out of all we had from the Deputy this afternoon. The Deputy asked those questions with a certain unctuous hilarity and thought the answer was going to be in his favour. The answer is that there is an Act dealing with railways and canal traffic that was introduced in the British Parliament under which an elaborate provision was made for a tribunal very like the one it is proposed to set up under this Bill, and that had to handle problems such as the commission here will have to deal with. Apparently, the proposal in this Bill overwhelms the Deputy with absurdity; that a layman should be allowed to say what is not a question of law. I would be prepared personally to accept Deputy O'Sullivan's own opinion, as an intelligent and highly educated man, on what is a question of fact just as readily as I would accept the view of many judges. If we put intelligent men on this tribunal I should say that any normal person would accept their decision on this question. Here, as I have said, is an old Act which set up a tribunal to deal with a somewhat analogous type of question. This section which we have introduced, as Deputy Moore has pointed out, does not go quite so far as the section of that Act went.

The Attorney-General mentioned something about the tenure of office of the commissioners. I missed what he said. Would he be good enough to repeat it?

The Attorney-General

As I indicated earlier, it is proposed to introduce an amendment on the Report Stage conferring upon the commissioners who sit on the appeal tribunal a tenure analogous to that of judges.

Apparently we have impressed the Government to some extent. Would the Attorney-General say what was the salary that was to be given to the commissioners on the Railway Tribunal in question, and if there were only two?

The Attorney-General

Is the suggestion that they were bought?

No. The suggestion is that they got very high salaries, practically as high as judges, and that the salary that was paid to the additional Land Commissioner was within £500 of the salary paid to a High Court judge.

Deputy Cosgrave seems to forget that at one time the Land Commissioners in this country had the same tenure as county court judges, and that they had very much higher salaries than they had at present. It was Deputy Cosgrave's Government that was responsible for destroying their fixity of tenure and of turning them into commissioners at the will of the Executive.

Will the Minister quote the section for me? I have not forgotten it at all.

Under the Land Law Act of 1923.

But the section dealing with the will of the Executive.

I am referring now to the Land Law (Commission) Act, 1923. I take it that Deputy Cosgrave was in charge of the Government here then. Sub-section (4) of Section 4 of that Act provided:—

So much of sub-section (3) of Section 28 of the Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act, 1891, as provides that each commissioner of the Irish Land Commission shall hold his office by the same tenure as if he was a county court judge in Ireland shall not apply to commissioners appointed under this section.

I understood the Minister to say that the Executive Council in my time passed an Act appointing Land Commissioners at their will. I would like the Minister to find that out for me, if their tenure was at the will of the Executive.

The Land Commissioners had the tenure of county court judges, and what I said was that Deputy Cosgrave's Government took that tenure away from them.

Can the Minister then say what tenure they had after the passing of that section?

They were appointed by the Executive Council.

And removable at the will of the Executive Council?

Will the Minister point out where that is in the Act? Will the Attorney-General or will the whole of the Front Bench opposite show me that?

Is Deputy Dillon pressing amendment 10?

I would prefer to have the question that we have been discussing decided on amendment 17. Really the point on which we join issue is whether the lay commissioners will have power to override the Judicial Commissioner.

Of course the point decided will be the point in the amendment.

Will the Ceann Comhairle look at amendment 17?

The Deputy will get a division on that later.

Then I shall withdraw my amendment 10.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment 11:

To delete sub-section (3), (b).

This is a sub-section which gives the Minister power to arrange the duties of the lay commissioners; to arrange the areas they will have control of and generally to control their activities in every respect. I should like to know what is the object of this sub-section. These are purely administrative powers and the Minister has got those powers already. Why is it necessary now to introduce this clause in the Bill for the purpose of dealing with powers which he already has? These are purely administrative powers and, as a matter of fact, the other Ministers who preceded him in control of the Land Commission arranged the duties of the lay commissioners and even arranged the districts which they were put in control of. We cannot understand why the Minister has introduced this particular sub-section for the purpose of taking powers which he already has in his administrative capacity as head of the Land Commission.

The Deputy, therefore, does not object to the powers being given?

What is the object of introducing the sub-section?

Perhaps the Minister will hear my objections to it as the amendment also stands in my name. I did not apprehend that under sub-section (2) the Minister had power to differentiate between one particular commissioner and another. As I understand, under sub-section (2) the Minister had power to direct the Land Commission on anything that lay within its administrative power save in respect of excepted matters. Sub-section (3) (b) goes further and says that the Minister can go into the Land Commissioners and say "I want this particular Land Commissioner to deal with this particular class of cases or with this particular county." I do not know why the Minister wants that. My assumption is that one Land Commissioner is as good as another for the purpose of doing the work that the commissioners normally undertake. Why should the Minister take power to delegate work particularly to one member? Under sub-section (2) he has power to direct the Land Commission in the exercise and performance of the powers and duties for the time being vested in it by law. I understood Deputy Roddy to say that sub-section (2) gives the Minister all the powers he seeks to take in sub-section (3) (b). I challenge that. I suggest that while the Minister had power generally to direct the Land Commission, he had not power to segregate the work between individual commissioners. I am fortified in that suggestion by the appearance of this sub-section and I am suggesting to the Minister that, if Deputy Roddy be right, he should meet my objection by taking out sub-section (3) (b) and, if Deputy Roddy be wrong, and sub-section (3) (b) gives powers of discrimination, they are powers he should not have, and I invite him to accept our amendment dealing with this sub-section. I do not think it will be of the least assistance to him and it may involve him in difficulties of a very undesirable kind. The House is of opinion that one Land Commissioner is as effective as another, and it ought not to be in the Minister's power to differentiate between them.

I think we have discussed thisad nauscam already on sub-section 1. I believe that the Minister responsible for the Land Commission should have full authority over the work of the Land Commission, as a whole, save in regard to the matters which have been excepted. As the law will stand if this passes, the Minister is responsible to the Dáil and to the country for the work of the Land Commission. It would be foolish for anyone to accept responsibility without having authority, and we want to make clear what is not clear. Deputy Roddy says it is. As a matter of fact, power was taken under certain Orders, and Acts were passed to give the Minister complete control, but it was found that that did not work out. We want to give the Minister authority to direct the activities of the Land Commission, save in regard to the excepted matters. It is absolutely necessary, if we are going to make progress, that that should be done.

I am convinced that this sub-section is inserted specifically to give the Minister powers over the excepted matters which sub-section (1) denies him. I think that is the object of it, because this sub-section is in relation to excepted matters. By sub-section (2) the Minister may not exercise authority over the excepted matters, but he may exercise authority by way of class or classes or types of cases over the individuals who look after these cases in excepted matters. Personally, I think that sub-sections (a) and (b) annul to a very large extent, in fact, completely, as far as the Minister's powers are concerned, the section with regard to the excepted matters.

I think Deputy Brennan should have had a chat with Deputy Roddy before he came into the House. Deputy Roddy thought the Minister in fact, had these powers already.

I disagree with Deputy Roddy entirely.

We cannot hope to please the Opposition in this. All we can hope is to please the majority of the Dáil. We believe that these powers are necessary. We believe that a definition of the division of duties and responsibility between the Land Commissioners and the Minister is necessary, and we have attempted to define it here. We think it is a scheme which is workable; that it gives the Minister such powers as he should have and keeps from him such powers as he should not have.

I should like to ask the Minister a question. He stated a minute ago that he would prefer the opinion of two competent laymen on a question of law rather than the opinion of a lawyer. I am putting a question now to a competent layman from a lawyer as to the reason for the powers sought to be obtained in this particular sub-section. What additional powers does he propose to take under this that are not already given to him by the Act of 1923 and the Ministers and Secretaries Act? If he has got additional powers, what are they? If he has got them, what is the necessity for this section? I find that Section 12 of the Land Law (Commission) Act of 1923 directs that "the Irish Land Commission shall, in the exercise of such of its powers and duties as are of an administrative or executive nature, be subject to the control of the Minister for Agriculture." I am speaking from recollection, but the powers contained in that section have been greatly amplified by the provisions contained in the Ministers and Secretaries Act of 1924, and I cannot imagine any wider powers than the Minister has under the Act of 1924. If he has those powers, what is the necessity for this provision in this Act? I fail to see it and I am asking the Minister, as a lawyer to a layman, what additional powers he thinks he is getting under this section which he thinks he has not got already.

What about the excepted matters? As far as I have read this Bill, I think we are right in our belief that sub-section (1) of Section 6 withdrew from the Minister for Lands and Fisheries certain excepted matters. Now, as Deputy Brennan points out, and I quite agree with him, the Minister, by a back door, is coming in on the excepted matters again. It does not matter what previous powers he had under previous Acts, this Bill withdrew certain of these powers, but back again he lands in sub-section (3) having had a fanfare of trumpets about all the powers he was debarred from using in relation to excepted matters. Sub-section (3) states that:

All powers and duties for the time being vested by law (including this Act) in the Land Commission or the lay commissioners in relation to an excepted matter, shall, on and after the appointed day be exercised and performed in all respects as if this section had not been enacted save that

(a) any appeal which may lie by law (including this Act) from the determination of an excepted matter shall lie to the appeal tribunal, and

(b) the Minister may, if and 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 situate the distribution amongst 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.

Is not one commissioner as good as another? What is the reason for this? He says that it is for no particular reason except that the Minister is responsible to the House and ought to have the fullest possible powers; but he began by taking off the power in sub-section (1) and now gives it back in sub-section (3). That is why we seek to delete sub-section (3).

Deputies Roddy, Lynch and Dillon do not seem to have sought the deletion for the same reason. I have endeavoured to explain the matter and to show that under Section 3 (b) the Minister gets general powers over the activities of the Land Commission and also particular powers save in regard to the excepted matters.

Yes, general powers over the excepted matters.

Particular powers in regard to other matters that are not excepted, and the excepted matters are clearly set out in sub-section (1).

What does the Minister want with the powers in paragraph (b)?

Deputy Dillon wants this deleted because it is giving to the Minister certain powers which Deputy Roddy says we have got already. I leave it to the two of them to fight it out.

That is nonsense.

I leave it to the Dáil, and the best thing to do is to leave it to the Division Lobby.

What Deputies Roddy and Brennan argue is that there are certain powers already with the Minister. Either these sub-sections, to which we are referring, give extra powers or they do not. If they do not give these powers why are they enacted? If they do give them, what are the extra powers? Deputy Dillon's point and, to a certain extent, Deputy Costello's point, is: are we not getting in here powers that seem to be taken from the Minister? If not, why is the Minister not satisfied with the powers given to him already, for instance, under Section 12 of the Land Law (Commission) Act of 1923? The Minister has not explained to the House the necessity for the powers he now seeks over the powers he has already got under the two Acts referred to by Deputy Costello. He has not justified the existence of the sub-section. I suggest that it is the Minister's duty to the House to supply that justification and not to find subtle differences between other members of the House, but to explain the reason why he is advocating these particular sub-sections. Do they give him more powers than he had under the Land Law (Commission) Act of 1923 and under the Ministers and Secretaries Act? If so, what are these powers? The House is entitled to know. If they do not give any additional powers, why are the sub-sections there? If they do, what are the additional powers?

Is the Deputy pressing the amendment?

Yes. I want to have some explanation as to this section and as to what is the object of the Minister in incorporating it in this Bill. Under Section 12 of the Land Law (Commission) Act the Minister was given certain powers. I presume that the power the Minister is seeking in this section is administrative power. In what respect are the powers conferred by the Land Law (Commission) Act of 1923, which were amplified since under subsequent Acts, deficient, and why does the Minister want them amplified now? Apparently, the Minister's reason is to give him greater power over the activities of the Land Commission. I want to find out in what respect the present powers which he has got are defective, or in what respect it was necessary for him to amplify them in order that he may have the power which he is now seeking and have greater control over the Land Commission in the future. It appears to me that he has all the administrative power he wants under the existing Acts to carry out the duties he has outlined here in this particular clause of sub-section (3). If he has, what is his object in introducing this clause into this Bill? Deputies Dillon and Brennan have said that his object is to give him greater power over the commissioners in regard to the excepted matters, and I think that is the only reason. That is why, a moment ago, I was anxious to get an explanation from the Minister for the introduction of this clause. He has got all the power he wants already—far greater power than in this. In fact, he has got power of life and death over every act of the Land Commission. Even in regard to the excepted matters, he can exercise powers. Is he not prepared to offer some explanation as to why he has incorporated this clause in this Bill?

It is rather amusing to see the lawyers and the laymen on the opposite side fighting as to the particular powers taken in this Bill. I am rather surprised at Deputy Roddy. I can excuse Deputy Dillon's inexperience of the House and I can also excuse Deputy Costello because we do not see his fair face here very often. Deputy Roddy, however, was here in charge of this Department for five or six years, being bombarded every day by questions about the Land Commission, and knowing, at the same time, that he had no power whatsoever. He had to answer questions about grievances which he had no power of remedying. We do not intend that our Ministers should be in that position. We hold that the Minister should at least have the power of seeing that his Department is worked. We have too much administration and power by officials in this country, and it is time that it should be checked. The country is run by officials and lawyers. That is the reason for any extra powers that are given. Our experience of Deputy Roddy in that particular Department for five or six years showed that he had no power whatever over the Land Commission Department. Deputy Bennett, sitting beside him, could tell him that the poor fellow could not do a thing. Deputy Bennett knows it. He used to be questioning Deputy Roddy day after day and week after week and he knew that the poor fellow had no power to remedy his grievances. We have had enough of the tail wagging the dog in this country and it is time that the dog had something to say for himself.

Question put: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand."
The Committee divided: Tá, 61; Níl, 44.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Blaney, Neal.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Browne, William Frazer.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Cleary, Mícheál.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Corkery, Daniel.
  • Corry, Martin John.
  • Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Geoghegan, James.
  • Gibbons, Seán.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Jordan, Stephen.
  • Keely, Séamus P.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Kissane, Eamonn.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • O'Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Doherty, Joseph.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Kelly, Seán Thomas.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.

Níl

  • Alton, Ernest Henry.
  • Beckett, James Walter.
  • Belton, Patrick.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Bourke, Séamus.
  • Brennan, Michael.
  • Brodrick, William Joseph.
  • Brodrick, Seán.
  • Burke, Patrick.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Costello, John Aloysius.
  • Curran, Richard.
  • Daly, Patrick.
  • Davis, Michael.
  • Devitt, Robert Emmet.
  • Desmond, William.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Grattan.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Fitzgerald, Desmond.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Haslett, Alexander.
  • Holohan, Richard.
  • Keating, John.
  • Kent, William Rice.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • MacDermot, Frank.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • McGuire, James Ivan.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Minch, Sydney B.
  • Morrisroe, James.
  • Murphy, James Edward.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • O'Connor, Batt.
  • O'Mahony, The.
  • O'Sullivan, Gearóid.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Reidy, James.
  • Rice, Vincent.
  • Roddy, Martin.
  • Rogers, Patrick James.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Little and Smith; Níl: Deputies Bennett and Fagan.
Amendment declared lost.
Question proposed: "That Section 6, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

On the section I am sorry that the Attorney-General has left, because he did not answer the question which was put as to who would decide on the question of law, and that certain things are only questions of fact. He quoted the Railways and Canals Traffic Act of 1888, but there is a distinct appeal to a higher tribunal, and there is no indication that that higher tribunal, namely, the court, will not decide as to whether a question is one of law or of fact.

I suggest that that dis cussion would be more relevant to the next section, which deals with the appeal tribunal.

I object to the passing of this section, because to my mind from the attitude taken up by the Minister it has become manifest that in fact he had sweeping powers under previous Acts, and that he has come to the House and—for the benefit of the effect it will create throughout the country—magnaminously divested himself of all power to deal with the excepted matters set out in paragraphs (a), (b), (c) and (d) of sub-section (1). That was for the purpose of creating a feeling of security amongst the public; then in a comparatively unimportant paragraph, sub-section (3), he marches back again, and resumes effective power to deal with the questions which he alleges to divest himself of in sub-section (1). In that connection, let me point this out; what is to prevent the Minister, on the day on which the Act passes, delegating a commissioner to deal with County Roscommon, and instructing him to deal with that class of cases which shall be constituted by persons who did not grow sugar beet? There may be only half a dozen people in the County Roscommon who do not grow sugar beet, and by that means he can put in the hands of a chosen commissioner the very duty that he is divesting himself of under paragraph (a) sub-section (1).

I regard this section of the Bill as being drafted for the purpose of creating a false sense of security amongst the public and in this House. On closer examination it proves that the Minister desires to have his share of the credit. He wants to have the appearance of acting in a disinterested detached way, and, at the same time, to have effective power to do what Deputy Corry wants to do, and what Deputy Smith wants to do. The most illuminating speech in the whole course of this Committee Stage was made by Deputy Smith, whose absence I regret. He rose and attacked the lawyers who dared to interest themselves in this matter. He forgot that some of the lawyers happened to be farmers as well, and not Fianna Fáil farmers either. He said: "Why are we to be hindered in the administration of this Act?"; not the Land Commission, not the Minister for Lands and Fisheries, but "we"—a back bencher in the Fianna Fáil Party. That is what Deputy Smith wants, that the back benchers of the Fianna Fáil Party should administer this Land Act; that the back benchers of the Fianna Fáil Party should be in a position to tell the Minister what commissioner is to deal with certain classes of cases in County Cavan, in County Roscommon and County Sligo. "Why should we be restricted in the administration of this Act?"; the powers for "we" are in paragraph (b) of sub-section (3), and "we" consists of Deputy Smith and Deputy Corry. If the fate of the tenant purchasers of this country is to be in the hands of Deputy Smith and Deputy Corry, God help the tenant purchasers of this country who are not prepared to purchase immunity by joining the local Fianna Fáil Cumann. Thanks be to God there are some tenant purchasers in this country who would be prepared to defend their holdings without joining a Fianna Fáil Cumann.

They did not run away to America like Deputy Dillon when there was trouble in the country.

Deputy Dillon came back, and Deputy Dillon is here now, and if Deputy Carty tries any more tricks like he tried in connection with the Land Commission, Deputy Dillon will be here to retard him. Every time there is jobbery adopted by Deputy Carty, or any other Deputy on those benches, Deputy Dillon will not be afraid to get up and tell him about it. I propose to challenge a division on this section. It is a dangerous section, and will eventually put the Minister in a position which I believe he himself does not desire to occupy.

Deputy Dillon has alluded to what he calls the back benchers of Fianna Fáil, and what right they have to have any voice, apparently, in this House. Deputy Smith was sent in here by 8,000 people from the County Cavan. I was sent in here by 11,000 people from the County Cork who elected me. I do not know what end of the booth Deputy Dillon came in at. We came in here to carry out the wishes of the people who sent us here. When Deputy Dillon talks of the "tenant purchasers" and the "peasant proprietors" like the gentleman to whom I alluded the other day, who had 5,700 acres in the County Tipperary and could not give 61 acres to the Land Commission for distribution, I am hanged if he will get fixity of tenure for them if I can help it.

I do not think that Deputy Dillon objected to Deputy Corry or Deputy Smith speaking.

We are working farmers, what you are not.

Personally I am always glad to hear Deputy Corry speak. I have expressed my view on that matter before. He expresses himself always much more clearly than the members of his Front Bench, and I am always glad to hear the views of the present Government which we get much more readily and clearly from Deputy Corry than from themselves. He always makes revelations. Six months, sometimes, before the Government announce their policy we get it from Deputy Corry. I did not understand Deputy Dillon to object to Deputy Corry or Deputy Smith. I rather thought he welcomed their speeches as showing what is behind this section. We had a long discussion on the section. Can anyone who was in the House tell us definitely what was the policy of the Minister? He announced three conflicting policies, and he gave three different interpretations of the section. It was only when Deputy Smith got up that he made it clear that he thought the Minister ought to have the power to deal with these individuals in this particular way. Deputy Corry agreed with that. There was full agreement between Deputy Corry, and Deputy Smith and myself as to the meaning of this section. There was sometimes full agreement between us and the Minister and sometimes full disagreement. As I pointed out he gave many different and conflicting interpretations as to what the section means and as to what the policy of the Government is on the matter. Under Section 12 of the Land Law Act of 1923 the Minister has the following powers:

The Irish Land Commission shall in the exercise of such of its powers and duties as are of an administrative or executive nature, be subject to the control of the Minister for Agriculture.

That Minister mentioned there is now the Minister for Lands and Fisheries. What else in addition to that is wanted?

Ask Deputy Roddy.

Deputy Roddy is not responsible for the compiling of this Bill, or for the existence of this section. Other matters are only judicial. We asked for information and did not get it. We got no explanation as to why there is this attempt at legislation, or as to why the Minister is not satisfied with the full powers given him over the administrative and executive matters, under the Act of 1923. What else does he want? We must assume he wants something else. We have had various attempts on the part of the Minister to explain this section. He has given no justification and his explanations are conflicting. Deputies cannot blame us if we find a certain amount of difficulty in seeing what purpose the Minister has in view when nobody listening to him could understand his explanations of the provisions of this section.

Question put: "That Section 6, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
The Committee divided:—Tá, 62; Níl, 45.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Browne, William Frazer.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Cleary, Mícheál.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Corkery, Daniel.
  • Corry, Martin John.
  • Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • Dowdall, Thomas P.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Geoghegan, James.
  • Gibbons, Seán.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Jordan, Stephen.
  • Keely, Séamus P.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Blaney, Neal.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Kissane, Eamonn.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Moylan, Séan.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • O'Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Doherty, Joseph.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Kelly, Seán Thomas.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.

Níl

  • Alton, Ernest Henry.
  • Beckett, James Walter.
  • Belton, Patrick.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Bourke, Séamus.
  • Brennan, Michael.
  • Broderick, William Joseph.
  • Brodrick, Seán.
  • Burke, Patrick.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Costello, John Aloysius.
  • Curran, Richard.
  • Daly, Patrick.
  • Davis, Michael.
  • Davitt, Robert Emmet.
  • Desmond, William.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Grattan.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Fitzgerald, Desmond.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Holohan, Richard.
  • Keating, John.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • MacDermot, Frank.
  • McDonogh, Martin.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • McGuire, James Ivan.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Minch, Sydney B.
  • Morrisroe, James.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Murphy, James Edward.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • O'Connor, Batt.
  • O'Mahony, The.
  • O'Sullivan, Gearóid.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Reidy, James.
  • Rice, Vincent.
  • Roddy, Martin.
  • Rogers, Patrick James.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Little and Smith; Níl: Deputies Bennett and Fagan.
Question declared carried.
SECTION 7.
(1) 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.
(2) The judicial commissioner shall preside at every sitting of the appeal tribunal.
(3) Every question before the appeal tribunal shall be determined by a majority of the members of the tribunal, save that, on any question which, in the opinion of the judicial commissioner with the concurrence of one or both of the other members of the tribunal, is a question of law, the opinion of the judicial commissioner shall prevail.
(4) No officer of the Land Commission shall sit or act as a member of the appeal tribunal for the determination of any question relating to an order or thing in the making or doing of which he took part or was concerned.
(5) The Minister may, with the concurrence of a majority of a committee consisting of the judicial commissioner, the Secretary of the Land Commission, an officer of the Land Commission appointed for the purpose by the Minister, a practising barrister nominated by the Council of the Bar of Saorstát Eireann, and the President of the Incorporated Law Society, make rules regulating and prescribing the practice and procedure of the appeal tribunal.

Amendments 13, 14, 15, 17, 19 and also amendments 1 and 2 are to be debated together. They might be all taken on amendment 14. That course was suggested in order to see how far the compromise suggested by the Minister meets the amendments. In case it does not meet them fully, Deputies might submit other amendments on the Report Stage.

I beg to move amendment 14:—

In sub-section (1), page 6, to delete all words from the word "any," line 39, to the word "behalf," line 42, and substitute the words "two lay commissioners nominated for the purpose by the Executive Council."

Mr. Lynch

This amendment meets ours only to the extent that the Minister met a former amendment. He stated that his intention was to have persons of experience, but already he has refused to have the qualification of two years' standing for the commissioners.

Are we discussing amendment 13?

Amendments 1 and 2 and 13, 14, 15, 17, 19 are grouped on amendment 14. Amendments 1 and 2 were postponed pending a decision on amendment 14.

Mr. Lynch

Amendment 1 proposes a change in the definition of an officer of the Land Commission. It says "the expression ‘officer of the Land Commission' for the purposes of this Act means a person holding office as a Land Commissioner of two years' standing, other than the judicial commissioner, or, in the event of a vacancy arising in the office of Land Commissioner an official of not less than 13 years' service whose basic salary on the 1st June, 1933, was not less than £700 per annum, appointed by the Executive Council to be a Land Commissioner."

Amendment 2 goes on to define the expression "lay commissioner," again stating that that person is to be a Land Commissioner of two years' standing or an officer appointed for the purpose who has had 13 years' experience. I think the Minister certainly agrees with the principle of having a man with experience and I can see no reason why he should not put into his amendment the qualification of two years' standing.

The Minister was speaking when I returned from the Division Lobby, and I do not know if he expressed the intention of accepting in principle the amendment in my name, or of rejecting it.

I was dealing with amendment 14.

The object for which I put down amendment 13 was to secure that the lay commissioners would command the ungrudging respect of every person who might fancy he had a grievance under any administration laid down by the Land Commission. I do not wish to mince words in this matter. The House will observe that I put down a period of 12 years, which would have brought us back to the period before Saorstát Eireann was established. We are aware that it is conceivable that somebody might feel if two, three or five years were laid down that the amendment was designed to secure that some persons who held office under the Cumann na nGaedheal Government should have a pre-eminent claim to the position of lay commissioner. What I was desirous of emphasising was to ensure that they should be persons of experience, whose record in the Land Commission would command respect, and that they should be persons appointed to their present posts by an administration other than that for which any Party in this House was responsible. The appointment by the British Government in itself would be no guarantee of suitability for this office, but the record of a gentleman in the Land Commission is in itself a guarantee of suitability. The fact that they were appointed by a Government other than for which any Party in this House was responsible, disposes of the suggestion that there was a desire by any Party in the House to secure a position of this kind for one of its own nominees. The Minister has stated, and I quite accepted his assurance, that it is his intention, in ordinary circumstances, to appoint a Land Commissioner to the position of lay commissioner under the Act. I think it would be to his advantage, and to the advantage of everyone, if he accepted my amendment, or the spirit of it, and undertook to appoint to the position of lay commissioner only such officer of the Land Commission who had 12 years' experience, prior to the passing of this Bill.

I thought Deputy Dillon was not aware of the full force of his amendment, but it seems that he is, more or less. This amendment would definitely exclude existing Land Commissioners who have had less than 12 years' experience in the Land Commission. There are certain Land Commissioners with 30 or 40 years' experience in other Departments who were changed to the Land Commission in order to strengthen it.

If the Minister accepts the principle that officers should have some years experience, without hesitation I waive the number of years.

The position is this, that I think the present Government is as capable of choosing men to be lay commissioners as either the British Government or the Cumann na nGaedheal Government.

Hear, hear.

When we appoint lay commissioners we will stand over them in the Dáil and in the country. When we appoint two lay commissioners to be members of the paid tribunal we will appoint efficient and competent men upon whose honesty the country and the Dáil can rely.

With experience of the Land Commission?

With experience in these matters.

In the Land Commission?

I would point out that if we accepted this amendment it would exclude men who have 30 or 40 years' experience of Governmental administration, but who have only recently come into the Land Commission. This would exclude many of the present Land Commissioners. When we appoint persons to be lay commissioners we are quite prepared to stand over the appointments in the Dáil and in the country. We are not going to accept any of these restricted clauses.

Then the Minister's attitude is that he is inclined to appoint men who happen to have some Land Commission experience but, in fact, desires to have freedom to appoint men who have no experience of Land Commission work. I mentioned 12 years in the amendment. I am quite prepared to reduce that period to such minimum years of service as will ensure that the person appointed will have experience of Land Commission administration. If the Minister says that in his opinion five years' service in the Land Commission would be sufficient, I am quite prepared to accept that number of years. I ask the Minister if he will accept the principle, that he will be restricted in his choice to persons who manifestly are men with experience of Land Commission administration.

I do not know what Deputy Dillon means when he mentions 12 years' experience. I regret that the Deputy opposite who was connected with the Land Commission has nothing to say on this matter. One of the commissioners should be a farmer who got land on the estates divided up by the last Government, and who has had experience of trying to work it and to pay the annuities that were put on it by the old tribunal, about which we heard so much. One of the men should be appointed from the farming community, one who will have to take up this land and to make a success of it. These people should have some voice in the price that is going to be paid for it. There is too much talk about officials here, officials there, and everywhere. One would think that no one knew anything in this world except the officials and the lawyers. It appears to be necessary to be either one or the other to know anything, especially about farming. If you want to know anything about farming you are told to go to the lawyers or the officials. It would be a very wise thing, a Godsend and a blessing, if an ordinary farmer who got portion of one of the divided up estates, and who has been for four or five years trying to pay the landlord's share, the tenant's share, as well as compensation for disturbance— three annuities rolled into one—was appointed. I urge on the Minister the necessity of having a representative of those who will have to try to make a living out of the land appointed. Let these people have some voice in the price that is to be paid in the division of the estate as well as in the other matters that will be considered by the tribunal. Do not have them coming into the land like swallows and leaving when the winter comes; stopping as long as they could and clearing out when Deputy Roddy put the bailiffs after them. There are a number of men who could be brought in as they have experience of the working of estates and the fixing of prices.

The object of amendments 1 and 2 is to secure that the lay commissioners to act on the appeal tribunal would be selected from existing Land Commissioners. In the course of a discussion on an earlier amendment of mine the Minister admitted that it was his desire that men of experience should act on the committee to be formed to draw up rules and regulations. If he admits that it is necessary to have officials of long experience on the committee to draft the rules and regulations implementing this Bill, surely he must admit that it is absolutely necessary to have an official of experience acting as lay commissioner on the appeal tribunal. This tribunal will have to deal with many matters hitherto dealt with by a High Court judge.

Under this Bill the Minister is going to restrict the functions of the High Court judge and the judicial commissioner to two questions, (1) questions relating to the determination of matters arising on questions of title and (2) the distribution of the purchase money. All matters in relation to the adjustment of disputes in connection with bounties or the adjustment of mistakes that may be made in the issuing of receivable orders, the adjustment of the many difficult legal matters arising out of the vesting of land and so on—all these matters will have to be determined by this lay tribunal now. Yet according to the Minister's statement —at least, one is entitled to infer it from the Minister's statement this evening—he proposes to go outside the Land Commission for the purpose of appointing laymen to assist the judicial commissioner.

Surely he must admit that this lay tribunal will be called upon to discharge highly important duties and in the discharge of these duties the members of the tribunal will have to decide very difficult legal questions. If these legal questions are to be decided satisfactorily, if all the interests concerned are to be satisfied, if justice, equity and fair play are to be meted out to them, surely he must admit that he will require to have on that tribunal persons of experience in the working of the land code. If the Minister goes outside the Land Commission he will find it very difficult to find even any member of the legal profession who has that wide knowledge of the land code. Everybody must admit that it is particularly difficult to get persons outside possessing that highly specialised knowledge of the code that is required for dealing with these problems. It is only the legal members of the Land Commission who have that specialised knowledge of the working of the code that would enable them to act on a tribunal of this kind. Whatever may be said about the Land Commission it is, at all events, admitted, and it must be admitted, that in determining questions between the tenant and the owner or between the tenant, the owner and the State, the Land Commissioners have always acted fairly in the past. Everybody must admit that they did mete out justice fairly and squarely to all interests concerned. Yet, apparently it is the Minister's intention to pass over the claims of the existing Land Commissioners, the men who have administered the Land Acts in the past and the men who admittedly discharged their duties fairly as between all the interests concerned. It is his intention to pass over the claims of these men and to appoint presumably political supporters of his own to act with the judicial commissioner on a tribunal of this kind.

If the Minister does proceed to appoint supporters of his own as members of the tribunal, I ask him will the tenant farmers have the same confidence in that tribunal as they had in the tribunal that operated in the past? Is there any likelihood that the tenant farmers of this country will have the same confidence in a tribunal of that character, the members of which have been put into that position because they happen to be political supporters of the Minister's Party? Do you think the tenant farmers of the country who have claims to be decided before that particular tribunal will have the same confidence as they had in the tribunal which functioned in the past for the purpose of determining questions of that kind? It seems to me utterly unfair and unjust that the Minister should pass over the claims of the existing Land Commissioners and proceed to appoint two outsiders in conjunction with the judicial commissioner for the purpose of determining questions that will come before them arising out of this Bill. If the Minister had any sense of gratitude he would take into consideration the claims of the existing commissioners and see that two of them were appointed on this particular tribunal. If he wants experience, as he must admit, for the purpose of enabling him to resolve the problems that will inevitably arise for consideration under this Bill he has got that experience among the present members of the Land Commission and there seems to be no justification for going outside these men for the purpose of appointing other individuals.

I do not agree with Deputy Roddy that there is general agreement that the past administration of the Land Commission was above board or that there was no differentiation made between individuals. I strongly object to the statements that have been continually made this afternoon both by Deputy Roddy and Deputy Dillon, that at every available opportunity the Minister's sole desire is to bring into the administration of this Bill in some capacity—inspectors, on the appeal tribunal and in other ways—persons who are specially associated with Fianna Fáil. One would imagine that this Bill was merely brought in to place the political followers of the Government in jobs. That statement has been made almost continually this evening by Deputy Roddy and it was hinted at on a few occasions by Deputy Dillon. I resent that. What ever failings this Government may be suffering from, they do not suffer from that, to the extent that Cumann na nGaedheal did when in office. It is probably because their own tactics in the past are troubling them that they believe the same thing is going to happen now.

We have heard that the Fianna Fáil clubs have decided how the land is to be divided. We hear now that political followers of Fianna Fáil are to be appointed to these positions, in order to prevent men who are ten years, 12 years and 20 years in the Land Commission from being appointed. We hear that these men in the Land Commission are the only persons capable of being appointed to these responsible positions. There are men in the country who have as much ability to decide matters of this kind as have men who have been tied down for years in administrative positions. I understood from the statement of the Minister that the Government is taking the responsibility for that and that they are going to see that none but men of wide experience are appointed. The Minister has that responsibility, and mind you, I am of opinion that he has as great an interest in the welfare of the tenant farmer as either Deputy Roddy or Deputy Dillon. He has more and he has proved he has more. He is tackling this problem in their interest. He will have to answer to this House. He will have to answer to us.

Deputies

Hear, hear!

He will have to answer to the country for his actions.

Do not go beyond the "us."

The Minister realises that responsibility, and having an interest in the people, he wants to have power in these matters. I think it is a tribute to him that he is not afraid of the responsibility. He does not want to throw it over on some other body. I would prefer to have matters in a different position to that in which they were when Deputy Roddy, who is a particularly energetic man, was in charge of the Land Commission and could do nothing. Are we to take it that Deputies opposite want the Land Commission to have no more powers than they had under the 1923 Act? Are we to take it that they are to have no more power to deal with the land problem? Surely, when the Deputy, who piloted through both Houses the Land Bill of 1923 admitted that after ten years there was a very drastic problem to be dealt with, it is time that some change must be made. I do not think it is at all wise, as an attempt has been made this evening, to allow a mass of red tape to tie down the Minister, tie down the Government and the Land Commission. I do not object to the Land Commissioners. In the past they had functions——

On a point of order, the Deputy will excuse me for interrupting him, but are we dealing now with the Second Stage of the Bill or an amendment specifying certain qualifications for the persons to be appointed to the appeal tribunal?

I do not object to individuals in the Land Commission, men of long experience, men with an interest in the country and in the welfare of its people, being appointed to this tribunal but I do not want too much red tape tying the hands of everybody and preventing an advance being made. We have other objections raised by Deputy Roddy and when these insinuations are thrown about as to Fianna Fáil camp followers getting this and that, I would remind Deputy Roddy that the Fianna Fáil camp followers, as he calls them, throughout the country have as much interest in justice as has Deputy Roddy or his followers and they are not afraid to face the music and the Minister is not afraid to face the responsibility, which is a great responsibility, which he is taking on himself in this Bill. I am glad that he is not accepting the amendment.

The last speech was quite interesting but it was rather hard to see what it had got to do with the amendment before the House. Deputy Cleary was very strong in the questions he put to this side of the House as to whether the Land Commission were to have no more powers than they had before. I do not see in this Bill any increase, apart from one section which is not under discussion now, in the powers the Land Commission had. Deputy Cleary says, in effect, that every single clause of this Bill increases their powers. I am afraid I cannot see the increase of the powers of the Land Commission under this Bill. What we are debating now is how the existent powers of the Land Commission are to be exercised and who are the persons who are to exercise them. There is one part of Deputy Cleary's speech with which I was completely and entirely in agreement. He expressed the view that justice would be done between all parties and he said that was the view of the Fianna Fáil Party. Upon that question, there may or may not be agreement. I will not, however, stop to answer that question but if Deputy Cleary is completely and entirely sincere—and I am not suggesting that he is not—in his view that this Bill should be impartially administered, then I, for my part, completely fail to follow Deputy Cleary's method of procedure, because if Deputy Cleary is completely convinced of that he has an amendment here which is making it reasonably certain that the Bill will be justly administered. If the Minister does not accept these amendments and if Deputy Cleary is completely honest —and I do not suggest for a moment that he is not—and consistent, as I hope he will be, there will be no room for Deputy Cleary in the lobby behind the Minister and Deputy Cleary will find himself forced by his own arguments to take his place in the lobby against the Minister. I wonder whether Deputy Cleary's conscience will be sufficiently strong to compel him to take that logical course which would follow from the speech he has made. I am greatly afraid, although, of course, that issue will be decided in the next few minutes, that Deputy Cleary on this occasion will not quite live up to the sentiments he has given utterance to.

If I had not a conscience, I would be in the Deputy's Party.

I do not think the Deputy would. It is not quite easy to get into our Party, especially for some persons.

That is the biggest joke of the year.

Let me consider the Minister's amendment and the other amendments. The other amendments make it certain that the persons who are appointed as lay commissioners on this appeal tribunal with the judicial commissioner are men who know something about the work that they have to perform. As this Bill stands, the judicial commissioner is not to be the sole judge of a question at law, because what is a question at law has to be decided by those two lay commissioners and not by the commissioner himself. Are we then going to have persons who are completely inexperienced in this matter who are going to decide what are or are not questions of law, or are we going to have persons who are experienced in these matters? In other words, is this tribunal to consist of men who know their work or is it to be a tribunal which gives an appeal from commissioners who do know their work, possibly, to commissioners who do not know their work? That is what it comes down to. If these are going to be two new gentlemen appointed for the purpose, they will not be as competent a body as the body they are deciding appeals from, and to have an appeal from an experienced, competent court to a court that may be constituted by persons of no experience at all—and, seemingly, that is going to be the case or the Minister would accept these amendments—is, to my mind, an absolutely wrong thing to do. After all, if you are setting up an appeal tribunal, the justification for the appeal tribunal surely is this, that not only that two sets of minds shall get to work on the same problem but that a better set of minds and a more experienced set of minds shall be the minds to give the final utterance and yet you are going to reverse all that. You are going to put the pyramid on its apex, unless you accept these amendments or, at least, you are leaving it open to yourselves to do so and why leave it open to yourselves to do a thing if you do not intend to do it? It seems to me that if this Bill is to leave this House in the condition in which a Bill should leave this House, these amendments should be accepted.

There is no doubt that it is amusing to hear Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney on this, but it is particularly amusing to hear Deputy Roddy talking about the confidence the tenants reposed in the old tribunal. I wonder what confidence the tenant of the Gunn Estate in County Clare who was paying £12 a year to the landlord and who found his annuity jumped to £20 by the commissioner reposed in the tribunal? I wonder what kind of confidence the unfortunate 24 tenants in my constituency who find that they are paying 15 per cent. more to the Land Commission to-day than they were paying to the landlord in 1920 reposed in the judicial tribunal. We hear a lot of talk about this, and Deputy Roddy has again come along with this talk of corruption—"two nominees of Fianna Fáil, two supporters of Fianna Fáil." Who appointed the old tribunal and what discussion was there here on the appointment of that last tribunal—this tribunal that had the confidence of the tenants and of the people and which was appointed by the British Government under a secret agreement of 1923? In which of the two tribunals will the people have the more confidence—the tribunal appointed by the representatives of the Irish people or the tribunal appointed under the secret agreement made with the British in 1923? I think that the ordinary tenant farmers who happened to get these divided up estates and whose annuities have been increased altogether by a sum of £660,000 in seven or eight years have reason to feel that their confidence has been shaken in this famous tribunal we hear all the talk about. We are sick of all this thing, but when I look at amendment No. 17 I am not at all surprised. It is an amendment proposed by three lawyers and a half. No wonder that all the lawyers are coming to the front and gathering around the legal luminary at the head; the lesser lights to protect the larger one. Amendment 17, as I have said, has been proposed by three lawyers and a half. That is the kind of thing we are getting on this Bill. I certainly would have far more confidence and so, too, would the tenant farmers of the country in a commissioner who was an ordinary farmer, say, like Deputy Holohan or Deputy Bennett, practical farmers who have some idea of what land is worth, than I would have in any official of the Land Commission. I think that such men would be far clearer in their judgments and would give a fairer decision than would this famous tribunal that we hear so much of from the supporters of this amendment. No one is supposed to be a judge of anything here except lawyers and officials. They had too much power in this country in the past. We were sent in here to curb their power and to end it and let there be no doubt about it we are going to do it. I and the farmers of this country, as I have said, would have far more confidence in an ordinary farmer like Deputy Holohan, who knows the value of land, administering these Acts than we would have in any official or lawyer.

Deputy Roddy comes along and talks about corruption. I never heard any reply from Deputy Roddy to the statement made here by Deputy Hassett in 1929 about the district justice who got 351 acres of land. Deputy Roddy has never told us anything about that. I suppose this district justice who got the 351 acres would be one of the peasant proprietors, one of the poor fellows for whom Deputy Dillon's heart bleeds. He is very much afraid that fixity of tenure will be taken from such people. The people opposite are an amusing lot, particularly when one remembers their actions here during the last five or six years. Look at the list of amendments that they have put down to this Bill. They certainly are well qualified to talk about corruption. They think that every Party in this country is fouled with their own dirty brush. They are mighty anxious to see that, by hook or by crook, the nominee of the British Government is still kept here to fix the price that the Irish farmer should pay for his land. Because of the proposals in this Bill there is a great fluttering in the dovecots opposite. I wonder was any guarantee given to the British Government, in connection with these Land Acts, that no future Government would ever dare to remove this Buddha or god, or whatever you like to call him, who is there for the purpose of fixing the price that the Irish farmer must pay for his land? We had Deputy Dillon coming along with his most illuminating clause, that if this tribunal appointed by the British Government is to have any assistance, then it should have the assistance of two or three of the brethren whose chief qualification is to be that they also in their day were appointed by the British Government. We had 12 years' experience of that, and very good care was taken that these people were appointed neither by Cumann na nGaedheal nor by Fianna Fáil. We are going to end that, to see that the road is kept clear and that the peasant farmers of this country are not going to be put in the same category as the district justice who got the 351 acres, or that other poor peasant proprietor, Captain Moore, of Tipperary, with his 5,700 acres. We are going to see to it that the peasant farmers will get a slice of these estates and that they will not have to pay through the nose for it. We had for far too long a period the nominees of the British Government fixing the price that the farmers of this country should pay for their land. As I said before, we are going to end that. We got a mandate from the people to end it, and we are going to do it.

I have been very interested in listening to the last speech on an amendment which we were told was proposed by three and a half lawyers. The answer that we got to that, if I may describe it without offence, was a speech from the vulgar fraction of a farmer. It was very good to have that point of view expressed by that Deputy. Again, I hope he will not take it as an offence when I say that in this debate he represents the battering ram of the Executive Council.

I represent more than the Deputy does.

I hope the Deputy understands what I mean: that he represents a point of view the Minister is going to stand up and justify before the House—that it will be a great thing to get rid of lawyers and commissioners and that sort of people and get in farmers who know what it is to work land under certain conditions. The logical conclusion to be drawn from the Deputy's speech is this: that the worse farmer a man is the better he is going to be in this job, because he will have a better realisation of the difficulties.

Does the Deputy mean to say that Deputy Holohan and Deputy Bennett are bad farmers?

Under those conditions, possibly the Deputy himself may qualify, but only under those conditions. Deputy Cleary expressed the same point of view: that the Minister is going to take this grave responsibility upon himself and justify himself before this House. Now the Government that can justify the giving of £100,000 of the people's money to a mouldy Press——

What about the 351 acres that your Government gave to the district justice?

The Government that can do that will not be afraid of other responsibilities. We are told that this Bill is not to give places to Fianna Fáil dependents. If it is not, then it should be so marked in the long title. Why not put in the long title that it is not a place-hunter's Bill? What about the new Commissioner of Police? What about the Agricultural Credit Corporation and what about the numerous Committees appointed by the Government since they came in? Is there a defeated T.D. that they have not placed somewhere, and if there is, is there not a place waiting for him when this Bill goes through? He has the promised land stretching before him when this Bill gets through. What is objected to in the amendment? That you have got to confine yourself to experience in this particular type of work. Deputy Dillon said that so far as that is concerned he is taking out the particular period of years. Deputy Corry either forgot that, or thought it better to neglect it for the purpose of getting in the phrase "nominees of the British Government." Who are the nominees of the British Government who have been imposing these hardships on the poor farmers of the country for the last ten years?

The present judicial commissioner.

Is he being sacked or is he being retained? If he has imposed those hardships on the people, why is he being retained? Who are the others? One was a colleague of the present Attorney-General in a particular Department, and unlike the Attorney-General he did not pledge his faith before the people that he could never serve the Free State. He is doing it openly and always did so. Who are the others? Let us have the names of the nominees of the British Government, other than the judicial commissioner if he is going to be so described, and let us be told by the judicial commissioner why he is being kept on. Who are the people who are so anxious to justify this Bill before the House and who are so strangely silent on all these points? Deputy Corry does represent the mind that the Minister is going to justify and probably Deputy Cleary in a lesser degree; he can be thrown aside a little more easily. Deputy Corry has powerful lungs if he has not very much else, and he can make himself highly objectionable; not that I deny Deputy Cleary that particular talent either.

We can almost cry quits.

Not entirely. If I might parady another expression—the Deputy does that sort of thing naturally; I may do it by deliberation.

You will soon be going away to your job and we shall miss you.

Like the way you missed the point of my argument on the particular section.

We shall miss you.

I shall be sorry for that.

You will get your job.

That is the mind that the Minister has to cater for in this matter, the mind that Deputy Corry typifies—I cannot say characterises, as it is too nice a word for him. What does it mean? This is going to be somebody who hereafter is going to see that no matter how bad a farmer may be he is going to be able to make enough to pay whatever will be charged for the land.

Your mentality was that no matter how good he was he could not make it pay.

Somehow the logic of that has not gone home. That is the mentality that has to be catered for; that is what the Minister is going to stand for. Deputy Corry is the representative of the particular type of people that matter. That is why this section is in the Bill and that is why the amendment will not be accepted. They are not to be men of experience in relation to certain things that have to be decided on just and equitable lines, because you want people in who will make it easy for a farmer, no matter how bad a farmer he may be. That is the point of view that Deputy Corry represents—distinctly so. That is the whole force of his argument—that he must get payments and charges and everything else scaled down to the point that certain people will be able to make a living. The Deputy wants experience. What is the experience he wants? The experience of the man who has found it impossible himself to make a living. Does not the Deputy admit that the way he will drive his point home logically is that the worse the man was and the more difficult he found it to deal with the land in the past ten years, the better commissioner he is going to be for the future? Is not that so? Will the Deputy admit that?

Do you want an answer?

Then I will give it to you.

By way of interjection though—I do not want a speech: at least, not immediately.

My answer is this, that your Government was in office for ten years and I challenge the ex-Parliamentary Secretary for Lands and Fisheries to name one single estate, out of the hundreds of thousands of acres divided up, to which he could point and say that the division of the land was a success; that the men who got the land are able to live on it. Let him give the name of one estate. I can name 25 that were failures, at any rate, to my knowledge. Of course, as far as Deputy McGilligan is concerned, I regret that he will be going away to his job.

That has nothing to do with the amendment.

The Musk Rats Bill has been passed and he will be going away to his job.

Deputy Corry should confine himself, both in interruptions and in speeches, to the amendment and not indulge in personalities.

I have not got the enlightenment I wanted to get as to whether or not he wants the sort of man appointed who will make it easy for the bad type of farmer to live irrespective of anything else—that no other question of equity or justice is to be brought into the consideration except that one item.

I must say you are most insulting to Deputies Bennett and Holohan.

I do not see that I am, because if really bad farmers can make good under the conditions which Deputy Corry envisages, the appeal tribunal deciding things, Deputy Bennett will make far more. He is not going to be annoyed by conditions which will be based on the really bad farmer. Deputy Corry is pleading for a certain type of persons; he pleaded quite ably for them to-night. The whole force of his argument is that the Minister dare not accept the amendment. It would be an impediment upon him in his free choice if he had to take people of experience. That is the full force of the argument and the justification that was given here both by himself and Deputy Cleary, that the Minister must face this House, and Deputy Corry thinks of this House as being a number of people like himself. That is his mentality. These are the people the Minister has to face, according to Deputy Corry. It is quite clear what is wanted. This would be a terrific impediment upon the Minister. If the Deputy objects to the phrase used, that this is to get Fianna Fáil people placed, he has to think of the logical outcome of his own words. He will only get the hopelessly bad type of farmer put in as commissioners and you are going to get them mainly amongst the ranks of Fianna Fáil farmers. Deputy Cleary might have left it at that. He appealed to the House on the ground that the Minister was taking a grave responsibility. Deputy Corry represents the gravity of the responsibility. He is the criterion. The whole Party pivots around Deputy Corry. The backbenchers will be driving the Minister forward. The Government dare not accept an amendment such as Deputy Dillon seeks to have inserted. The whole thing lies in that particular argument that Deputy Corry so very forcibly put in his own particular way, and the Minister dare not flinch in front of Deputy Dillon. He knows that behind him is the horror of Deputy Corry, therefore the section must go through and the amendment cannot be accepted.

Deputy McGilligan butted into the discussion on this Land Bill and I do not know what the particular reason is. He spent a long time analysing the mentality that the Government are to try and please. One thing he cannot get away from is that the type of mentality that the Government are trying to please is not his type of mentality. There is one thing anyway that no member of this Government can be accused of doing and that is what Deputy McGilligan did—placed every member of his own family at the public expense.

And they have proved as inefficient as he did.

The one charge is about as exact as the other.

I have already explained the Government attitude on this and the other amendments, and I am not going to defend the honesty of the Government to the Party opposite. There is no need to defend it before the country. The people of the country realise the difference between Cumann na nGaedheal and Fianna Fáil.

A Deputy

They do.

And the people of the country made their choice and decided that they would prefer Fianna Fáil to Cumann na nGaedheal.

Give them another choice.

We will give them another choice in our own good time. There is certainly one thing to the credit of Cumann na nGaedheal, that they did not put Deputy Rice in an irremovable position. It is to their credit that they did not sink so low anyway. As I say, I have already given the Government's point of view, and I do not propose to delay the House further.

There were a couple of speeches which I think the Minister might have made some attempt to answer. These were the speeches of Deputies Corry and Cleary. If the Minister has such contempt for this side of the House he might at least have attempted to answer the speeches of Deputies Corry and Cleary. There was a fierce attack made by Deputy Corry on the Judicial Commissioner and on the Land Commission officials for whom the Minister is responsible. We had not one word of defence from the Minister on that particular matter. He allowed one of the members of his own Party to get up and attack the Department which he is now entrusting with the administration of this measure. He said not one word in reply to the attacks made very openly and very strongly by Deputy Corry and in a very veiled fashion by Deputy Cleary. Deputy Corry not merely was guilty of the offence once, but he repeated it. There is, therefore, no excuse for the Minister, so far as the particular attack was concerned—an attack on the Judicial Commissioner and on the whole Land Commission, their procedure, their uprightness, their competence, their ability; an attack on them, in fact, from every point of view.

There was another point which he did not answer. That is, the demand put up by Deputies Corry and Cleary as to the type of experience of the commissioner that the Minister should appoint. The Minister said it was his intention, in so far as this section gives him the power, to appoint a person of experience. It was very clearly demonstrated by Deputies Corry and Cleary as to what they meant by men of experience. I suggest that there was ample opportunity for the Minister both to defend those who were attacked by Deputies Corry and Cleary and also to let us know whether the Minister accepted Deputy Corry's and Deputy Cleary's definition, if I may call it so, of what men of experience were so far as this particular section is concerned. We know perfectly clearly now what are the views of the Fianna Fáil Party on the matter. We had them from Deputies Corry and Cleary. We know perfectly well, therefore, the pressure that is being brought to bear upon the Minister and that will be brought to bear upon him when this measure becomes an Act. We know precisely the demands that are going to be made upon the Minister, whether or not there has been discussion already upon this particular Bill in that Party. That may or may not have been the case. At any rate, we know that it has been delayed.

Is that the way your Party used to do it?

I did not catch what the Deputy said. Did you bring in the Bill without discussing it? Anyhow, we know what the demand is, and we know the type of commissioner for whose appointment pressure is going to be brought on the Minister. Perhaps the Minister may adopt the high and mighty attitude that the Government does not need to be defended from the attacks of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party, but I suggest that he might defend them from the attacks of the Fianna Fáil Party—or from the help of the Fianna Fáil Party. Which was it, I wonder? Is the Minister going to deal with the, as usual, illuminating remarks of Deputy Corry? On many occasions I have congratulated the Government, and, indeed, the country, on having Deputy Corry here, because he does blurt out six months ahead generally— what the Government are going to do. In fact, the Government seem to follow the line marked out by Deputy Corry. The Deputy need not blush. What I am saying is quite correct.

You are forgetting Deputy McGilligan's references to Deputy Corry's mentality or status. Which of you is to be believed?

If the Deputy will keep order for a moment I shall satisfy him. I was simply saying that the Government follow Deputy Corry's line. That is not a compliment to him. All I say now is that there was an opportunity for the Minister to make the matter quite clear. He chose not to do so. We must take it, therefore, that the Government accepts the point of view of its two outspoken spokesmen from the back benches.

I have been accused here, first of all, of an attack on the Land Commission, which I deny.

Which I deny! Secondly, I have been accused of pointing out a special type of commissioner, which Deputy McGilligan translated into meaning the type of commissioner who would fix the rent of a farm so that the worst possible type of farmer would live in it. I said that I would far rather have—and I am sure the tenants would far rather—have a commissioner of the type of Deputy Holohan, who is a farmer, or of Deputy Bennett, who is also a farmer and knows the value of land.

Are you going to get a job for me?

At any rate, you would have a greater right to it than the district justice with the 351 acres. I issue a challenge to Deputy Roddy with regard to the division of land. They say they put the best type into it. They put in the present secretary of the A.C.A. He got a gratuity of £800 on leaving the Army and a pension of £80 or £90 a year, and yet he was not able to keep the land at the price. Undoubtedly the district justice might be able to keep his place with the £1,000 a year he got. He might be able to hang on to the 351 acres he got.

He did not get it from the Land Commission.

I have been challenging Deputy Roddy since 1929 to deny it and he had not the pluck to deny it when Deputy Hassett was still a member of the Dáil. The statement was made and it was repeated on several occasions since.

And answered.

No, it was not. Those are the people who got the land and I would like to know from Deputy Roddy why these pensioners with £80, £90 and £100 a year were not able to keep the pieces of land they got. Was it not because of the impossible annuity which they found they had to pay? Here is a man who got his slice of it—Commandant Cronin. I do not know whether he got in as a congest or as a landless man. He had £800 of a gratuity on leaving the Army. He had £80 or £90 a year of a pension. He got a present of this farm and could not live on it because of the annuities clapped on. I saw another congest moved up from West Cork. He got 110 acres and he got £170 going into it. He held it for seven years and was put into jail out of it in 1931 owing five years' annuities out of the seven. They are the men who got the land. We are told about the bad farmers who are going to get the land by Deputy McGilligan—an authority on farming, no doubt! Those are the gentlemen who got the land under the Cumann na nGaedheal Government— the Army pensioners with £800 or £900 or £1,000 in their pockets and their yearly pensions. Surely to goodness, if they could not live on it, how could an ordinary farmer live on it under the price that was fixed when it was finished out at the Appeal Court? I had experience of the Land Commission Court.

I move to report progress.

Progress reported.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p. m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 26th July, 1933.