The business will be as on the Order Paper from No. 5.
Order of Business.
I wonder if there could be general agreement to go through the Committee Stage of the Land Bill to-day. As the House is aware, there will be a prolonged debate on the Report Stage, which will be almost another Committee Stage. We do not want to limit the discussion in any way but to facilitate business by having the Government amendments dealt with. There is an important amendment to Section 28, which makes that section much clearer. When that amendment goes in everyone will be in a better position to discuss the section. If we could get rid of the Committee Stage to-day we could have the Report Stage in the latter part of next week, say, Wednesday or Thursday, or Thursday or Friday. That would give all sides time to put in amendments, after the Bill has been again printed and circulated.
I understand it is intended to take No. 5, Cork Tramways (Employees' Compensation) Bill to-day, after which the Minister's suggestion might be considered.
In the meantime I invite the Chief Government Whip to intervene in the discussion, regarding matters that engaged the attention of some of us for a considerable time last night. Members on the Front Opposition Bench and others engaged in a discussion as to how the business might be arranged and the proposal made bore no relation to the suggestion made by the Minister this morning.
We will take No. 5—Cork Tramways (Employees' Compensation) Bill, 1933. From the Seanad.
I am not in a position to say what the attitude of the Minister for Industry and Commerce is.
It is not being taken then. No. 5 to be taken later.
Will the arrangement of business be disposed of before we proceed with the Land Bill?
On the point mentioned by the Minister, no assurances tendered from this side of the House will be accepted in the spirit in which they are made. There is, and has been, a disposition on the part of the Government always to impute some delay in the treatment of those measures. Whether we like it or not, this is a very big and far-reaching measure. It establishes various principles. It does not deal with only one phase of the land question and it will not finish the land question. It is a matter upon which the Deputies on this side feel very seriously. We are proceeding now to the discussion of sections which have aroused very considerable apprehension—Sections 28 and 31—and to ask for dispatch with regard to their consideration is asking for a good deal. A great deal of time was wasted on the earlier portions of the Bill dealing with the appeal tribunal, but the appeal tribunal, as it stands or as it is proposed to operate, is accidental to what is being put before us. The really important operative sections are Sections 28 and 31. There are, of course, others. Some of the other sections from Section 12 to Sections 18 or 19 and the alteration that has been made in Section 26 are, to my mind, of very considerable importance. In so far as an attempt to expedite business is concerned, I am in entire agreement with it, but we have not so far as I have seen during the course of this session had anything like contributory assistance in that respect from the Government. Not alone do members of the Government speak at very considerable length but their back bench members seek to answer the arguments of practically any Deputy from the same constituency. I could not at this moment, in connection with Sections 28 and 31, undertake to persuade members on this side who feel so keenly about these Sections to finish them up in the short space of practically three hours. I would make an effort to help as far as possible in that direction, but it must be remembered that we have spent four or five hours on some previous sections not as important as these. The time for asking for consideration in relation to these matters was at the beginning rather than now when we are coming to deal with the vitally important sections of the Bill.
So far as I am aware, a tentative suggestion was made that if the Government would consent to have the Committee Stage of this Bill on to-day and Tuesday, they could be given the Committee Stage on Tuesday evening. On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday they would be facilitated in so far as it is possible in the dispatch of other business, and the Report Stage of the Land Bill could be taken on Tuesday of the week after next, the other stages of the Bill to follow. I am not aware if that received unreserved approval from the Cumann na nGaedheal Benches, but I understood that it received favourable consideration, and I think that on those lines the Bill could be disposed of with reasonable dispatch. I do not think it is fair to suggest that Sections 28 and 31 should be disposed of between now and two o'clock. They are the two most important sections in the Bill and I do not think that the Opposition has shown, in respect of the Land Bill, any inclination whatever to obstruct or to discuss in undue detail the sections that have come before us so far. Perhaps the chief Government Whip could confirm what I say.
I quite confirm what Deputy Dillon has said, but I thought that if we had a little discussion across the House we might even be able to shorten the Committee Stage and devote the more important attention to the Report Stage when the House would have in its hands the Bill as amended on Committee and might be able to form a fuller judgment on it, but, of course, the matter is entirely in the hands of the House.
Does the Government not appreciate that this is not an ordinary Land Bill, but a series of Land Bills. It is not a continuation of principles in old Land Acts, but the introduction of new principles. We have a new principle in the constitution of the Land Commission itself; we have a new principle in remitting arrears of annuities; we have a new principle in collecting these annuities, and we have a new principle which opens up a new era in land tenure and the conception of land tenure. That new principle is embodied in Section 28 which will probably be discussed to-day. It means, as we understand it, making the farmers con-acre men or tenants at will. All these new principles have been introduced in this Bill or series of Bills and the discussion of them should not be confined or limited. After all, it took generations to get fixity of tenure and surely we should give a couple of weeks at least before we allow that fixity of tenure to be abolished by the gentlemen opposite.
Would the Leader of the Opposition indicate if the proposal I referred to of giving to-day and Tuesday to the Committee Stage would meet with his approval?
That was, I believe, a suggestion I made to our Whip when he was in consultation on this matter, as being the only thing which I could see that would be likely to meet the situation. I certainly would approve of that.
I think the proposal came from leading, distinguished members of the Opposition Party, and I understood that it was regarded as a very reasonable proposal by the chief Government Whip.
I should like to be quite clear about this. I regard it as a fair proposal, but I thought that, after discussion, we might have improved the proposal a little and hurried the business up a bit more.
Does the Minister propose on Report Stage to introduce an amendment embodying the principle to which he agreed yesterday, namely, that the funded annuities should be paid to the county councils, to whom they rightly belong, within a specified time, or will the Ceann Comhairle accept an amendment to the relevant section from us who have made the point which the Ministry has accepted on Report Stage providing that these moneys will go back to the county councils to whom they rightly belong?
I told the Deputy yesterday that that is a matter that can be raised at any time, and that there is nothing in the Bill to prevent the Minister for Finance giving the funded payments in a lump sum or in two or three lump sums at any time.
Nothing empowering him to do it?
There is, yes.
Does the Bill not provide that these moneys should find their way into the Exchequer?
I think we had better get on with the Land Bill.
The merits of the measure cannot be discussed at this juncture.
I am only asking whether such an amendment from us on Report Stage will be accepted notwithstanding that it might be construed as a money amendment, or will the Minister undertake to introduce such an amendment. We do not care who introduces it so long as it gets into the Bill.
The Chair cannot decide what amendments it will accept until the amendments have been offered.
We will chance the Ceann Comhairle and put in the amendment.
The Ceann Comhairle is not making any promises.
We are not asking for promises, but we will chance the amendment.