Land Bill, 1933—Committee (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following amendment:—
In sub-section (1), lines 49-50, to delete the words "if and when the Land Commission think proper to" and substitute the words "to issue a summons in the prescribed form requiring the defaulter to appear before the district justice and show cause why a warrant in manner hereinafter mentioned should not be issued to the county registrar and if on the hearing of such summons the district justice shall so determine, the Land Commission may thereafter if and when they think proper." (Martin Roddy, Fionán Lynch.)

I was dealing with this amendment when Progress was reported last night, and I propose to be very brief this morning. I think that if the system outlined in this section is adopted by the Land Commission it may ultimately break down, not only the entire system of land purchase in this country, but the collection of land annuities. A lot has been said about the work of the Land Commission, about the way it has behaved and treated annuitants. I submit that when one takes into consideration that the Land Commission has to collect about £3,000,000 annually, a great part of that being in sums as small as 5/-, 10/-, 12/- and £1, that the collection has been an enormous success and that the Land Commission deserves to be congratulated on its work. In my own constituency the average annuity would be about £2 a year. That gives one an idea of the enormous task that faces the Land Commission in collecting £3,000,000. I think that the Land Commission, State solicitors and others concerned in that collection are to be congratulated. The system of collection has been a great success, and I do not think that any other system that the Government may adopt will be so good. I fear that the adoption of the new method proposed, of sending bailiffs into a townland to collect and make seizures, if necessary, will cause a great row. It may, I fear, mean putting a match to the magazine, so to speak, of the present system of collection, and that will create such a blaze that it may end for all time the collection of the land annuities in this country. We can all visualise the rumpus that will be created by sending bailiffs into a townland with warrants to collect from all the people living there. I do not know if the Minister's ancestors were Irishmen, but he is an Irishman himself, and he must know what the feelings of the Irish people are towards bailiffs. He can realise what it will mean to have them going into every house in a townland, accompanied by a posse of Guards and perhaps some military. An occurrence of that kind is bound to create a great furore in a district.

I propose to quote for the House an incident that occurred in 1909 after the passing of the Land Act of that year. That was a measure that helped, in a substantial way, to put an end to the agrarian war in this country. Down in Cork there was an institution known as the "Cork Defence Union," formed apparently by the landlords for what they considered to be their own defence. The head of the organisation was Lord Barrymore. The Land Act of 1909 having been passed, and with it any reason for the continued existence of the Cork Defence Union, Lord Barrymore made a proposal to his fellow-members that they should continue to carry on the Union. This proposal is contained in the annual report of the Union, and the reason he gave for it was this:

"Your agent has had to attend sheriff's sales in Macroom, where a hostile crowd assembled and for two days prevented the removal of the stock to Cork, and in Cork then he had to purchase for the landlord the interest of four farms in this same district of Macroom.... Applications have been made for several caretakers which have in most cases been supplied.... At one place in the Carrignavar district, where an eviction became necessary, a determined resistance took place, boiling water was thrown over your agent, the sheriff's officer, and the police, and a battering ram had to be used to break open the door before possession could be taken; after which a settlement was come to, and the tenant reinstated."

There has been a lot of discussion on the various sections of this Bill. There was a great furore about the gentlemen who are to be on the tribunal. I have not troubled myself very much about that because I know very well the gentlemen who are going to be put on it, and they are going to be put on it permanently, too. Perhaps I could give the names of some of them now.

Would the Deputy give us the names? We are not in the confidence of the Opposition or of the Government in these matters.

If Deputy Davin wants a tip, I think I could give it to him, and if he takes it I believe he will be backing a winner. In my opinion, if this section is passed in its present form, it will ultimately result in a breakdown in the collection of the annuities and thereby will destroy the whole system of land purchase. A number of Deputies on the Government Benches have spoken in support of the section, but I am afraid they do not fully appreciate its implications. Some of them are too young to remember what their fathers or grandfathers did. They have not a full appreciation of the dormant spirit that lies in the tenant farmers of the country. This section is really an impeachment of our farmers, that they have not faithfully discharged their obligations as tenant purchasers. Is there a Deputy in this House or outside of it who will stand up and say that these tenant purchasers have not faithfully, loyally and honestly discharged their obligations in the matter of the payment of the annuities? I submit to the House that there is no body of debtors who have been more faithful and loyal in the discharge of their obligations. Of course, there have been some defaulters. That is a natural thing to expect, due in nearly all cases to calamities that occurred in the families of the people concerned. Things of that sort occurred and will occur, but taking the tenant purchasers of Ireland as a whole, no body of people could have acted more faithfully and loyally than they have in the discharge of their obligations.

The Minister said, and rightly said, that the machinery in the section may not, and will not, be put into operation except in cases of necessity. That may be all right, but this provision will be in the Act and so long as it is there the farmers will feel that the Government are holding it as a weapon over them to intimidate them and make them discharge their obligations. What justification is there for that? Have the farmers as a body refused to pay their annuities during the last 40 years? They have not. They paid them willingly and are prepared to continue to pay them. All they want is the opportunity to do so.

I fear the reason why this section is included is this: that since the economic war began the Government thought that certain sections of farmers have got their backs up against them—that they are not going to pay their annuities just for the purpose of embarrassing the Government. I can assure the Government that from my experience the tenant farmers have no such intention. They are not imbued with that spirit. I would suggest to the Government that they should not depart from the system operated with success for such a long period and adopt the one that is outlined in this section. They may desire to have modification of the old system, but I think they should not scrap it. I know of no business firm, for instance, that would be able to collect its debts with the success that the Land Commission collected these annuities, running as I have said into the big figure of £3,000,000 annually. I suggest to the Minister that there should be some modification of this section. Knowing how the Land Commission have acted in the past, I am sure that they will not unnecessarily use this weapon; but the farmers think it is put there deliberately as a weapon and a blow at them. They think, now that the economic war, for another reason altogether, has been inaugurated that they are the victims of the economic war and that the Government are going to use them as the victims of this provision. With this coming on top of the other they think that they are to be the target, right, left and centre of the economic war. So long as this section remains they will feel that and they will be disposed towards rebellion. The Government should remove this and go on with the old process and not think of the cost of it. As to the cost, I quoted figures last night. Picture the Minister as a State solicitor in a big county like Donegal or Cork. If he issues a process against a man living 30 miles away for an annuity of £1, £2 or £3, he will have to drive 30 miles in a motor car to get his decree against that man, and he will get the munificent sum of 11/- for that.

I do not know, but the Minister would know, what the percentage of costs is in relation to the entire amount of the annuities. If the Minister gives us those figures we shall have the thing in proper perspective. If the Minister gives the percentage of the costs in relation to the total collection it will amaze and astonish people who talk of the cost of this thing. Collecting debts is a difficult job. The collection of land annuities is also a difficult job, and it will remain so. Give the farmers a chance, act in a friendly way towards them, treat them as the honest men which they have proved themselves to be, and you will get on better and get the annuities quicker and more efficiently. Was there ever a time more unsuited for the adoption of harsh methods? At no period during the last 40 years could this method be adopted with greater injustice than at present. Things are in a bad way. This money will have to be collected in thousands of cases in small instalments. The man who is in difficulties and who can only pay an instalment is the man to whom the sheriff will be sent. Will the sheriff or the bailiff have power to take an instalment of 10/- of a small annuity? He will not. In the difficult circumstances that exist now, with the stringency of money, the Land Commission, in my opinion, will want some local agent in a county to whom a farmer can go and say: "I cannot pay to-day; do not issue a process against me; I am going to take stock to the next fair and I will give you 10/- or £1." Who will that agent be? There will have to be someone. The Government official at present is the State solicitor. The Minister will have to say who that official will be. So far as my experience of State solicitors goes, they have behaved very well towards the farmers. I know of hundreds of cases where civil bills had been issued and not a single penny of the costs was charged. In the present condition of the farmers, if the land annuities are going to be collected, there must be a local agent who will collect them in small sums. Who is it to be? Is the county registrar to have a new assistant? In my opinion, it is not going to be done by the sheriff and bailiffs. There must be some local agent to whom the farmer can go and say: "I cannot pay to-day; do not issue a process against me; there is no use in incurring costs; I am going to pay; at the moment I have not got the money, but I will pay as soon as I get it." I would ask the Minister to consider this section in all its implications and, perhaps, between now and the Report Stage, he will come to the conclusion that it should be modified in some way. I consider this one of the most serious sections in the Bill. The question of the tribunal does not cost me a thought. The whole future of land tenure and land purchase, however, is involved in this section. I would earnestly appeal to the Minister, between now and the Report Stage, to consider the section and, if possible, modify it in some way.

It is amusing to hear a lawyer Deputy speaking about this. There is no doubt but that he protests too much. The Minister for Justice, on the Second Reading of the Bill, showed how the costs worked out in one particular case and how they were higher than the annuities. Yesterday, when an endeavour was being made to get the costs taken out of the funded arrears, we had statements made by Deputies that in one district alone the costs amounted to over £700. Costs amounting to an enormous sum were mentioned yesterday as being placed on the unfortunate farmer through the action of those gentlemen opposite. We had a list of rules read out by Deputy McMenamin who, I believe, has a specially close interest in this particular matter, as to the costs charged. When he was done reading the costs which the lawyers were charging, he was so carried away by the danger of their losing all the fees that he said: "Let us reduce them." The lawyers are now satisfied to have their costs cut rather than lose the lot. I have had a fairly wide experience of State solicitors during the past four or five years. On repeated occasions I have had to write to them to try and get time for men to whom they have sent writs. I found it far easier to get time from a sheriff and easier still to get time from the Land Commission. If I went to the Land Commission and said that a man owed a half year or a year's annuity, that he had paid so much some time ago and that in a couple of months' time he would pay more, I found no trouble in settling with the Land Commission. I found it was far easier to settle with the Land Commission than with the State solicitor, who wanted the costs of the writ and his own costs, the cost of writing a letter, and the cost of looking out of the window to see was the postman coming. I am glad that at last a stop is being put to the lawyer sharks of this country. There are too many of them. You cannot stir anywhere around the country at the present day but you will see half a dozen of these hanging around looking for briefs. It is time they were stopped and I am very glad that this step is being taken. I am sure that the costs in Cork County alone in the last 12 months would amount to something like £3,000 if not more. That is a nice sum for a body of tenants having to pay in addition to their annuities. We heard an uproar raised yesterday because it was suggested to put those costs into the funded arrears. I did not agree with it, I spoke against it yesterday, but I am absolutely in favour of this section. I think this gives the tenants a fair chance.

I know of no occasion whatsoever on which an appeal was made to the Land Commission by a tenant where that appeal was refused. I know of no fair appeal being refused at all. Even where after the Land Commission had turned down a bad case and where, subsequently, the tenant went to the sheriff who had a decree and said to him: "If you give me so much time I will pay; I will give you so much to-day and so much this day month," I have seen no cases of that kind where the sheriff was not prepared to accommodate the individual who was appealing. I never saw a case yet in which such a fair appeal was refused by the sheriff. But it is far different when you get into the hands of the men with the brief.

What about Carrignavar?

I know Carrignavar better than the Deputy. I got 80 per cent. of the votes there where Deputy McMenamin would be scouted out of the place. I know that place very well, it is my own. The Carrignavar boys were side by side with me from 1916 to 1923 when Deputy McMenamin was far away from us. There is no analogy whatever between what Deputy McMenamin is trying to draw out here and Lord Barrymore who was well bought out and whom Deputy McMenamin and those voting against certain clauses in this Bill are now endeavouring to protect in the balance of his loot. There is no analogy between the position of Lord Barrymore and what we are arguing about. There is no analogy between Lord Barrymore and the Land Commission. There is no analogy between him and the State solicitor at all either in Donegal or elsewhere. That is why this section has been put into the Bill. It has been put in to protect the tenant and it is time he was protected from the lawyers. When we see Deputies stand up here on behalf of the lawyers and read out a list——

Deputies in this House speak on behalf of their constituents. They may have viewpoints different from those of the Deputy in possession.

I agree, but from the statement that Deputy McMenamin has made here I think he stood up on behalf of the State solicitors. When we hear rules of court and especially charges read out in this House— charges for each case—we must say that Deputies hold a brief. When we hear Deputies offer—I do not know on what authority—to have these specific rates and charges reduced and asking the Minister to reduce them but not to abolish them, not to take away the whole loot, then we wonder and I think we wonder with justice. I hold that this section absolutely protects the tenant and gives him a chance, so that instead of having to pay two or three rents he will have only one rent to pay. Sometimes in the past the costs were as much as one or two other rents.

Between Deputy Corry and myself there is no difference of opinion in these cases as to the end, but as to the means we do not agree. I am not in sympathy with the lawyers. I would be very glad to see the unfortunate farmers who are unable to meet their liabilities taken if possible out of the clutches of the lawyers. But if we take them out of the clutches of the lawyers and hand them over to the sheriffs I think the exchange would be a bad one. I believe if a vote of the farmers who are in difficulties all over the country were taken they would all vote to be left to the mercy of the lawyers rather than to come under the operation of this section. There is no doubt about that and they would be quite right too. I say that because I believe that under the section the expenses will be more than the sheriff's costs. Besides the notice would be very short and it would throw them into considerable difficulties. There is one remedy that would meet the situation and I wish the Minister and the Fianna Fáil Party would consider it and that is a reduction of the costs by the State solicitors. It was suggested by one of the lawyers here last evening and I think they deserve some credit for making that gesture to cut their own costs.

The Minister and the Government should take them at their own word. I appeal to Deputy Corry to take them at their own word and to make a beginning here. I think when the State solicitor goes into court and takes out 100 decrees, as some Deputy said yesterday evening, he could certainly afford to do it at a much cheaper rate than 15/- or £1 each. I think £100 for a few hours' work is rather too much for a State solicitor. I think there is room here for the Minister to do something to cut down these exorbitant costs. This is a way to meet the situation rather than hand them all over to the sheriff. What I am suggesting is a choice of two evils and I think the majority if not the whole of the farmers would choose the lesser of the two evils and that is to allow the present arrangement to continue but to have the costs reduced. I would certainly be in favour of cutting down the costs because they are out of all proportion to the amount sued for and to the amount of trouble to which the State solicitor has been put in going into court where he has a large number of cases to deal with.

The argument against this section is that the tenants would know when their case is coming into court. The argument on the other side is that there would be a saving in the costs to the tenants. There may be some force in that argument all right, but it is an argument in favour of the big stick. If you apply the policy of the big stick and the principle of the big stick in criminal cases see where it leads you. It could be argued with equal force that all these obnoxious little cases that now come into court and cause such a waste of time and money, cases such as smuggling, and all these things might have the same principle applied to them. The State would just say: "We'll hang them all rather than waste time and money." It is the same thing here. Would the Minister stand for that policy in ordinary criminal cases? The principle is just the same. It is the policy of the big stick in one shape or other. It is holding a terror over the heads of these unfortunate people. I know from personal experience a number of people who would be affected.

I know a certain type of farmer who will be affected in a very special manner. That is the reason why I intervene in this debate in order to draw the Minister's attention to this particular type of annuitant. They are poor men who are not able adequately to stock their land. In the winter season they get other people to buy cattle and send them to them to be fed in order to make some money and have manure. I have half a dozen of them in mind at the present time, and every one of them is a staunch Fianna Fáil supporter. Some of them came to me and asked me to buy cattle to send to them, as they were short taken for money, to meet their obligations and so provide manure for their spring crop as well. If the threat were held over them that the sheriff was likely—without any notice, or without going to the courts— to "lift" those cattle, no one would send an animal to them, and those people would be hit very hard. Much more land would be derelict than there is at the present moment. That would be very hard on the people who are making an honest struggle to live on the land, and to keep the place on which they were reared, in the hope of better times coming. I am sure that when the Minister considers the matter he will see very good reason for accepting this amendment.

When I read this section first, like Deputy Corry and others who have been speaking in favour of it I thought it was a fine section. That was on the first superficial examination. When I read a little deeper I saw that there were great difficulties, and that the cure would be worse than the disease. I have come to the conclusion that the real cure for this state of affairs is to reduce the costs. I heard I think it was Deputy Murphy say yesterday that he knew hundreds of cases which went to court, and not one of them had been successful. I have known many of them to be successful. I have known many tenants to be brought into court and they won their case against the Commission. There is a principle —I do not know whether it is accepted in the Free State or not—that it would be better that a 100 guilty men should escape than that one innocent man should suffer. The principle would be reversed in this case. I think that in ten out of every 100 Land Commission cases brought into the court the annuitants have a genuine case to fight, and they do so successfully. It generally does not go to a trial; it is settled beforehand in many instances. There are many cases where mistakes occur. That is another very strong reason for not pushing forward this section. I think the amendment is a reasonable one and everything considered I hope the Minister will accept it and not put it to a division of the House. If he only looks into the pros and cons, and considers all the circumstances, he will see good reason for accepting the amendment.

I do not wish to take up very much of the time of the House, but I should like to say that I think the easiest way out of this whole business is for the Government to collect no annuities for the time being while they are being collected by England. There are farmers all over the country who have paid their annuities for the next ten years in that way, and I think it is a great injustice to those people to have a demand made on them now. I am entirely opposed to this motion, because it places too much power in the hands of the sheriff. I believe Deputy Maguire made a statement here that in the past only 2 per cent. of the decrees went to the sheriff to be collected. I know cases where the sheriff or his assistants went on the land, and when they got their own costs they went back and reported that there were no goods at all. If you pass this motion you put those people in the position of making piles of money, as Deputy McMenamin said last night. For that reason I am opposed to it, and I think the Minister should reconsider the whole position with regard to it.

I think there is a striking inconsistency in the attitude of the Opposition in regard to this question, as compared with their attitude on the forgiving of arrears and so on. In this case all their thought is for the delinquent. During the last couple of days we have heard nothing but accusations that the Government were concerned to defend the delinquents, and that they were letting them off far too easily. In my opinion, when this Bill goes through and the collection of the annuities commences next November, there will be a great sense of grievance amongst those who regularly paid their annuities, and had to make a big effort to pay them. If those who are not inclined to pay any debt, those who will make no effort, those who simply trust to luck to get out of their responsibilities, are to be petted and encouraged to go on in that line, and if the same procedure of State solicitors' action and slow process of collecting money is to go on, the people who have heretofore paid their annuities regularly will have a very big sense of grievance. They will have in their minds that those who evaded their responsibility during the past few years have got away with it; that they have got very considerable advantages by evading their responsibility. They will consequently feel that if the same thing is to go on in future there is no good in being decent or hardworking citizens at all. I suggest to the Opposition that they should bear that in mind. Since the great bulk of the annuitants are people who honestly desire to meet their responsibilities, they should at least be encouraged to this extent, that with the passing of this Bill, with the annuities halved and so on, a new chapter will be opened, that in that chapter it is those who make an effort to meet their responsibilities, and who recognise the law, will be encouraged; and that there will be no encouragement whatever for the people who on every occasion are ready to evade any responsibility of that kind. It would not be fair if the general community were faced with the responsibility that would be involved in the slow process that prevailed heretofore. It would not be fair to the good honest farmer. I suggest that the Opposition, for the sake of the good citizen, should not press this amendment.

Deputy Moore has disclosed a new line of thought in the Fianna Fáil Party—an entirely new line of thought. It is perhaps well and healthy that it has come even now. Deputy Moore says that the object of the insertion of this clause which it is proposed to amend is to see that the people who are always trying to evade their responsibilities are made pay. That is not the case put up by Fianna Fáil at all. The case that has been put up by Fianna Fáil is that they want to try to save the people from the State solicitors, and from the costs that have been piled up against the poor unfortunate tenants. That is the case put up by Deputy Davin, Deputy Corry and the Government generally. I am much more inclined to agree with Deputy Moore. I think if that line of policy were adopted by Fianna Fáil they would probably find us much nearer to agreement with them. Let us examine the case from Deputy Corry's or Deputy Davin's point of view. What are the advantages that are proposed by this section to be conferred upon the poor unfortunate tenant farmer who is persecuted by law costs with regard to annuities? What do we propose to do for him under this section? I think that there really has been a lot of muddled thought in regard to this section. Let us take the case of this poor unfortunate tenant purchaser, whom Deputy Corry and Deputy Davin have so much sympathy for. He owes £5 by way of annuity. Under the old system what happened? He got a six days' notice from the Land Commission. Now notice from the sheriff is to be substituted for that.

Not necessarily.

Very well, in this case as in the last he will have some intimation that he owes the money. Under the system we have at the present time he would receive a notification of the amount due. If he was able to pay, under these circumstances in the past, why did he not pay? If he is now applied to by the sheriff why should he pay any more than he paid when he was applied to by the Land Commission or the State solicitor? From whom are we trying to save him by this section? We are not trying to save him from the State solicitor; we are trying to save him from himself.

If the tenant purchaser gets into arrears now he knows he owes the debt and that he can be brought to court. He knows that under the existing system he could be mulcted in expenses and costs. Would it not be an extraordinary thing that a man who owed £5 which he knows will be increased to £7 or £8 if he does not pay would pay merely on the demand of the sheriff? The contention here is that if the sheriff demands payment a man will pay up though he would not pay on the demand of the State solicitor or the Land Commission. I cannot see any sense in it. In the first instance he will pay because he does not want his family to be deprived of the milk of a cow or of the use of some other little stock. For fear of the sheriff, perhaps, he will do that, but is that a desirable state of things?

I refer again to the mentality behind this Bill. The Minister in charge of the Bill insinuated an entirely new principle yesterday with which no one but himself will agree. That is, that the fact that a man has to pay his annuities will be an incentive to him to work. In other words, if you want a man to be industrious the way to secure it is to pile on taxes. The more you pile on the harder people will work. But acting upon that principle the more costs the man feels are going to be put upon him the greater the inducement to him to pay up and to be industrious.

I think the Deputy should know what I said was that if a man who chose to sit down in his farm and remain idle, felt that he had to pay his annuities or get out, that would be an inducement to him to work his farm.

After all, the fact put forward by the Minister is that the annuities are a screw upon him to work as well as an inducement to him to work. It will be doubly a screw upon the unfortunate tenant purchaser who will have to pay the Land Commission direct rather than let the sheriff seize their cattle. Personally, I cannot see any sense behind this section but I can see a very dangerous principle being introduced. That is the principle of scrapping the old established system of having courts to intervene between debtors and creditors. If that principle is allowed to be introduced, in the end no one will be so sorry for it as the Government. It is a very dangerous principle and once it is introduced no one knows where it will end. I think the Government ought, at least, to agree to this, and I am sure that Deputy Corry and Deputy Davin would agree to it: that after the tenant purchaser gets his notification, whether from the sheriff or anybody else, suppose he wants to go to court, and is prepared to face the chance of having costs piled upon him, he ought to get the privilege of going to court. If the tenant purchaser wishes to go to court, why all this anxiety to save him from himself. The Minister said yesterday that if on examination the Land Commission found that the tenant purchaser had a semblance of a case they would let him go to court. Why not let him go to court if he himself wants to go? The whole case the Government makes is that they are going to save him costs. If he thinks he is going to get value for his money by going to court, why should you not allow him to go to court except, as I say, on the plea that you want to save him from himself.

If the Minister does not accept this amendment he ought to introduce something into the section that will enable the tenant purchaser, if he thinks he has a case, to go into court. He should certainly be entitled to do that. Deputy McMenamin made the suggestion that there ought to be, and that there will have to be, some local man to whom the tenant purchaser could appeal at times with regard to the payment of their instalments. The Minister said that the tenant could, if he so desired, approach the Minister and make his case known to the Land Commission if he is not able to pay. Tenant purchasers had all these privileges before this Bill ever came before the House. When this Bill was before the House on Second Reading I stated I was convinced, and I am more convinced now than ever, that it is a political Bill. There will be local men of course, that is the secretaries of the Fianna Fáil clubs, who can be consulted. We all of us see in the provincial papers the weekly reports of the Fianna Fáil clubs. There we see the announcement to the effect that if people want to have their grievances redressed let them join the Fianna Fáil clubs; and we are told that all communications must go through the Fianna Fáil clubs to the Minister. Deputy Davin thinks that is a joke.

No, but the people who say that are jokers.

That is what is behind it all. If you want to approach Ministers first join Fianna Fáil clubs. I can see no advantage as far as tenant purchasers are concerned in this Bill. In the past he could approach the Minister and he could always get time from the Land Commission, and he could go into court if he wanted to. If in the past the tenant purchaser did not pay the State solicitor and the Land Commission directly at once, how is the sheriff going to get it out of him? The people who support this section are not making a case for the poor tenant purchaser, but they are making a case for people who always evaded payment and will evade it in the future as well. What will happen is that these people will pay because they are afraid their cow will be seized. That is why they will pay. They might sell the cow to pay. That is the new situation we are going to have. Now, is that new situation going to be compensated for by the abandonment of the principle of having the court intervening between the creditor and the debtor? To my mind it is not. The principle behind the Bill is one that ought to be avoided, and I am firmly convinced that the Government that tries to put that into operation will be the sorriest Government that ever carried on administration in any country.

Deputy Brennan and Deputy McGovern, but Deputy Brennan particularly, because he made a very able debating speech, endeavoured to lead Deputies and the public to think that in the future under this section the defaulting annuitant will be at the mercy of the sheriff.

The Deputy knows very well that between the sheriff and the defaulting annuitant the head of the collection branch in the Land Commission will stand.

He always stood there. He will be in the same position.

The Deputy knows also that before a warrant is issued all possible considerations will be given to any application for an extension of time.

That was also given in the past.

Deputies on the Government Benches admit that time was always given.

I asked the Minister last night to give the House some more information as to the procedure that will be adopted and the matters that will be taken into consideration by the collection branch of the Land Commission before the Department or the Minister will issue a warrant to the sheriff. Deputy Brennan makes political argument out of the suggestion that the recommendation as to whether the Land Commission collection branch should issue a warrant will depend largely on the advice from the secretary of the local Fianna Fáil club. I have sufficient confidence in the officials who will be responsible for the administration of this section, no matter who they may be in future, to feel convinced that they are not going to be influenced by considerations of that kind.

The Deputy realises the powers the Minister has under the Bill?

I am quite well aware of all that. I will say that to use this section in a reckless way and issue warrants in a reckless way to the sheriff would be the very worst kind of politics which could be engaged in by any Minister or Department.

I quite agree.

Deputy Brennan is a very able debater and politician, and I think he knows that.

I thank the Deputy.

If the collection branch of the Land Commission were not to take a case made by an annuitant on its merits, and if they were to issue warrants in a reckless way, I am satisfied that the defaulting annuitant of the future will be much worse off than defaulting annuitants in the past. I hope the Minister will have some information relative to the case made by certain Deputies who, under cover of the amendment, have been directing attention to a reduction of the State solicitors' fees. The Minister surely has information from 1929 to 1932 as to the amount of money collected by State solicitors for work of this kind. As far back as 1929 and up to 1932, before the Minister ever sat on the Government Benches, I remember 40 and as many as 100 cases coming before the District Courts in my area and the State solicitor was in a position to pocket £25 to £30 for a day's work. That was altogether distinct from his salary of £600 to £1,000 as a State solicitor.

I hope the Minister will give us some definite information as to the amount of costs collected by State solicitors for work of this kind. We will then see if a case can be made for the reduction of fees or costs. There is no proposal at the moment for a reduction of the State solicitors' fees or costs. We are asked to make a choice between the amendment by Deputy Roddy and the section. I am going to vote for the section. Why did not Deputy McMenamin, Deputy Brennan and others make a case for the reduction of State solicitors' fees and costs when they had the power to make a reduction?

Why did not Deputy Davin?

Last year, on the Vote for this Department, I spoke on this matter.

Was that since Cumann na nGaedheal were put out of office?

That is the only time I have been here.

I have a clear recollection of the Deputy sitting with the National League Party.

Mr. Lynch

There was no Land Commission Estimate on at the time.

I have no recollection that the Deputy did raise the issue that is now being raised.

I was only two months here then.

At any rate, whether the economic war is ended or not in the very near future, I have sufficient information and commonsense to know that the Government that will be in office during the next couple of years will have considerable trouble, much more than a Government ever had before, in collecting annuities. Therefore, it is desirable that we should know the mentality of the people responsible for administering this measure. It is advisable to ask the Minister, for the purpose of future guidance, what procedure is to be adopted before any official will be given authority to issue a warrant to the sheriff. This section will do away with the civil bill officer's job. I do not think anybody is going to raise an outcry in connection with that matter, because most of the people who hold these unpopular posts have other ways and means of making a living.

They are nearly all bailiffs.

The majority are ex-R.I.C. pensioners, as the Deputy knows.

They are all sheriffs' bailiffs.

The annuitants will be relieved of the State solicitor's fees. Deputy McMenamin quoted the costs which State solicitors are entitled to charge. Are they maximum or minimum?

They constitute a fixed scale of fees; there is no maximum or minimum.

I was wondering how it was that a certain State solicitor, without a case going to court, could charge £1 12s. as the cost of collecting £5 1s. 5d.

A solicitor can do anything. The thing is, is he justified? A solicitor can charge me £10 for collecting £5, if I let him.

I wanted to know from the Deputy whether those fees are maximum or minimum.

They are McMenamin fees.

Sub-section (1) of the section says that if and when the Land Commission think proper, they will issue a warrant to the under-sheriff. What are the matters that will be taken into consideration before that step is taken? Upon that depends very largely whether the defaulting annuitants of the future will be treated more harshly than in the past. I believe there are large numbers of farmers who, from 1929 up to now, could have and would have paid their annuities were it not for the political propaganda carried out during that time by Cumann na nGaedheal and by some of the supporters of Fianna Fáil when they were in Opposition.

And Labour.

No. I invite the Deputy to search the records and produce a single statement from any member of the Labour Party or from any Labour candidate or prominent Labour man in this country telling the farmers at any time since this thing started that the people should not pay their land annuities. I have heard many politicians suggest to the farmers—and give their own reasons for it—that they should not pay their land annuities. The case was made in this House under cover of a motion not long ago that, during the continuance of the economic war, the farmers should not pay either rents or annuities. I did not hear any statements from any of these politicians that the dockers or the railwaymen or agricultural labourers, who have lost their jobs as a result of the economic war, should not pay their rents. We have been listening here to eloquent Deputies from the other side saying that a particular class—only one section of the community—should not pay either rents or rates.

They have paid them already.

Deputies should remember that Deputy Davin does not require such persistent briefing.

I have definitely encouraged any people who have spoken to me in my constituency that, as between their rates and their rents, they should pay their rates before their rents. I think that the maintenance of whatever Government is in office depends upon the carrying on of local administration. I have urged that, as between the two, the rates should be paid before the rent for that reason. There are good grounds for that, I think, especially since the Government is making these arrangements for the funding of annuities for a certain period—the very same arrangement which, I understand, would have been made by Deputy Cosgrave had the people returned him to office on the famous speech he made at Naas in 1933. I hope the Minister will elaborate on the point which will certainly cause confusion in the minds of a great many people and more confusion as a result of the very able debating tactics adopted by Deputy McGovern and other Deputies, especially the point which would make it appear that the tenant is at the mercy of the under-sheriff.

I think that Deputy Davin's attempts to salve his conscience for taking away all buffers between the tenant and the sheriff are the most amusing we have heard yet. He tells us that, forsooth, the head of the collection branch of the Land Commission is the buffer between the tenant and the sheriff. The head of the collection branch of the Land Commission is the person who has always sent out the notice to the State solicitor to act and, if he is to do his job efficiently, he will do so in the future just as he has done it in the past. He does not stand, therefore, as the buffer between the tenant and the sheriff. As a matter of fact, he is the fellow who tells the sheriff: "Go on, boy; do your stuff." That is the job of the head of the collection branch of the Land Commission. He is no buffer between the tenant and the sheriff any more than he was a buffer between the tenant and all the wrongs that were done to the tenant in the matter of costs. His job is to inform the State solicitor that such-and-such a man is in arrears and the State solicitor will have to do what he is supposed to do in those circumstances. In the very same way now, under the new system, the buffer of the State solicitor is removed and the head of the collection branch of the Land Commission, or the secretary of the Land Commission, informs the sheriff.

If and when he thinks fit and proper.

The same as, if and when he thought proper in the past, he informed the State solicitor and the State solicitor acted and imposed all these costs on the tenant. In the same way in the future he will inform the sheriff, and the sheriff will go in and impose, probably, far more costs than would have been imposed under the old system. The thing involved in this is not the wiping out of the costs and every Deputy who examines the position for himself knows that very well. He knows that at least 65 per cent of the costs in any given case would have been the sheriff's costs. He knows that at least 65 per cent of the costs imposed went to the execution of a decree. There is no use in trying to salve your consciences in the way Deputy Davin has, apparently, salved his conscience to his own satisfaction by saying that the head of the Land Commission is still the buffer between the tenant and the sheriff. Anybody who votes for this section votes for putting in the bailiffs without giving the tenant purchaser an opportunity of making a case in order to show that he does not owe that money. He has no opportunity of making any case as to whether he owes the money or not or to ask for time or anything else. Of course we know that the Land Commission in the future as in the past will give time when time is asked for. It was the normal thing with the Land Commission to give time where they were satisfied that there was any reasonable chance that the man intended to pay. That prevailed in the past, but eventually the Land Commission has to act and, in the future, it will have to act in the same way. But in the future they will have to act by informing the sheriff and he will put in the amount of costs immediately that would have been saved in the past by having the State solicitor say that he was going to issue a decree.

There is no use in Deputies attempting to deceive themselves that they are voting for some improvement in the situation as it was. They are voting for something that I hold is utterly wrong. It was wrong and is wrong. The Revenue Commissioners had that power under old Statutes, but why extend it to the Land Commission? The Revenue authorities, after all, collect from a comparatively rich section of the community, but the Land Commission collects from a very poor section of the community, and the extending of that principle of putting in the sheriff without any buffer by way of court proceedings is a very bad principle.

What about the rate collector?

Will Deputy Davin give me any instance where the county council allows the rate collector to go in and distrain without court proceedings? I know that the power is there, but has it ever been exercised? Could the Deputy give me an instance in modern times? I guarantee that in the last ten or 15 years the Deputy could not quote me one instance where any county council permitted distraint without court proceedings. There is no use bringing this in unless it is going to be used. The Revenue authorities use it very rarely indeed. The only reason for this is that it is going to be the normal procedure. The procedure will be that the Land Commission will inform the sheriff and the sheriff will put in the bailiffs and make the seizure. Deputies will find that the unfortunate delinquent, for whatever reason—he may be the worst man in the world; he may be a rogue, but in many cases he may not be—will be saddled with far more costs and that they will be imposed quicker than in the past.

One can discount, of course, a great deal that Deputy Corry says, but when he talks such utter nonsense about lawyers around the corner looking for briefs in connection with the costs incurred in regard to non-payment of annuities, it is so absurd that it ought to be let go. I never heard of any counsel—it is only barristers who get briefs and the Deputy must, therefore, refer to them—being employed by a State solicitor or by the Land Commission in connection with the collection of land annuities. Lawyers' costs in that connection have no interest for counsel and it is pure eye-wash to say that the lawyers here in the House are making a case for themselves. We have absolutely no interest in these cases. It is still more nonsense to say that Section 27, as it stands, is for the protection of the tenant. God help the tenant if that is the protection he is going to get—to put in the sheriff directly without giving him a chance of stating his case before any kind of court.

Deputy Davin thought that he made a point by saying that it will do away with the civil bill officer. You will do away with civil bill officers but the civil bill very often induced a person to pay. The cost incurred up to the stage of serving the civil bill is not very much. That was a sufficient frightener for a big number of delinquents, for 80 per cent. of the delinquents. Once they got the civil bill they woke up to it. They did not allow a decree to be given against them. They went and paid or made some arrangement with the State solicitor at that stage. The civil bill officer is now to be done away with and Deputy Davin delights in that. Instead, the tenant is going to have the sheriff's bailiffs in on top of him with the immense costs that the execution of a decree always entails.

You are saving trouble.

Mr. Lynch

You are saving a small amount of cost, but you are imposing a far bigger amount of cost on him without giving him any chance of protecting himself against them.

I do not want to prolong the debate. I have already replied three or four times at different periods to the arguments put up by Deputies. Deputy Lynch made a statement which I think he could not stand over for one moment. That was that anybody who voted for this was voting for not giving the tenant purchaser an opportunity of saying: "I do not owe that money."

Mr. Lynch

Of course, before any judicial authority.

The Deputy did not say that.

Mr. Lynch

That was obvious from the context.

The whole impression he tried to create in the minds of Deputies who do not know what is in the section is that before a man knew anything, before a man who was assessed with the land annuity knew anything the sheriff would be down on him and would take his cattle off to the market. The first stage in the proceedings is when the tenant gets the preliminary notice from the Land Commission. He has then an opportunity of saying that he does not owe the money. He has a further opportunity when he gets the six days' notice. As Deputy Lynch knows it takes the Land Commission sometimes a month, six weeks or two months before they send these out. We hope to speed them up. He will get a further notice from the sheriff. Deputy Lynch can see that the rules under which the Registrar is to act will be prescribed by the Minister for Justice. Sub-section (3) of the section states:—

Immediately upon receipt from the Land Commission of a warrant under this section, the county registrar shall, after serving such notices, and doing such acts as may be prescribed in that behalf by regulations to be made by the Minister for Justice——

Note that the regulations are not to be made by the Land Commission, but are to be made by the Minister for Justice.

Mr. Lynch

Naturally.

Then when he has complied with all this he proceeds to levy the money therein certified. Deputy Brennan accused Deputy Davin of "doing his stuff" as he called it. Deputy Brennan and many of the Cumann na nGaedheal Deputies seemed to look upon the debate here, and on the arguments made, simply from the point of view of doing their stuff. I think they might stop doing that sort of stuff.

I should like the Minister to quote the statement where I made use of that expression. I never used it.

It was the famous Deputy Dillon who used it.

Deputy Brennan used it.

I did not do any such thing.

The infamous Deputy Dillon has been continually using that phrase.

What Deputy Brennan said was that we wanted to steal their stuff.

We were very near it.

I am sorry if I accused the Deputy wrongly, but I think the Deputy ought to drop this sort of stuff of trying to alarm the farmers that everybody in the country will be in danger of having the sheriff down on him before he gets any warning whatever. He will be warned several times over. The tenant farmers of the country know perfectly well that they owe the land annuities. It is not like an ordinary shop debt or any other kind of debt. They know that they owe the annuities year after year. They know the amount due to the Land Commission, and if they want to dispute it they had a thousand and one chances of disputing it. There is absolutely no danger in this section to the tenants. There is an enormous number of tenants who have money and they will not pay until the civil bill comes along. There are some farmers in this country who owe a large amount of annuities and the civil bill proceedings are not very costly on them. It is only on the small farmers that the proceedings are costly.

The other fellows are being forgiven.

The fellows who owe all the annuities.

They are not. The majority of them have their debts funded. I am not going to take up the time of the House any further. The debate on this section has been dragged out for three or four hours and Deputies know the way they are going to vote.

I do not intend to prolong the debate much further but I cannot allow the Minister to get away with some of the statements he made in reply to my remarks. Quite obviously, the officials of the Land Commission have so impressed the Minister with the necessity for the introduction of this section that he is not prepared to listen to any of the arguments put up by Deputies against it. I had to listen to the same arguments from officials years ago but I did not succumb to these arguments. I am sorry the Minister has taken up the adamantine attitude that he is obviously taking up and that he is not prepared to listen to the very reasoned case made against the section by many Deputies. I want to deal with some of the points made by the Minister when replying to the statement I made in introducing the amendment. I said first of all that mistakes would inevitably arise. The Minister countered that by stating that it was not possible for mistakes to arise in sending out these warrants to the sheriff. The Minister knows perfectly well, as every Deputy knows, that no matter how competent or capable any set of officials are, mistakes will sometimes arise. So long as human nature is as it is mistakes will arise.

I admit that.

Let us relate the Minister's statement to our past experience of Land Commission administration. Mistakes have arisen in the past. Mistakes have arisen in the Schedule sent down to the State solicitors. Tenants have actually been taken into court in the past although their annuities have been paid. These things will happen again. It is inevitable that they will happen. I have no hesitation in saying that in the collection branch you have an exceedingly competent set of officials and I know perfectly well that they will try to reduce the number of mistakes to the bare minimum.

These mistakes will happen. These mistakes will occur in various ways. Deputy Davis referred last night to a mistake which occurred through a payment through the bank. These mistakes, too, have occurred in the past and they are likely to arise again. The Minister replied to Deputy Davis by saying that the bank officials are obliged to give receipts for payments made into their banks for the Land Commission. That is not so. The Land Commission have no direct control over the banks so far as the collection of land annuities is concerned. Some banks give receipts but these banks give receipts to protect themselves, not because of any instructions issued by the Land Commission because the Land Commission have no right to issue instructions to these banks.

They have this right— that they can withdraw from any one of these banks the right to accept these payments.

Some banks, as a matter of fact, refuse to insist on their officials giving receipts and in some banks through which the annuities are paid the officials will not give receipts unless asked for them. The Minister went on to say that when a demand is sent out by the Land Commission, if the annuitant is not in a position to pay he will immediately write into the Land Commission to ask for time. That has not been our experience in the past. As a matter of fact, proceedings have been taken against defaulters and when these cases were dealt with in the courts it was discovered that the unfortunate defaulter was not in a position to pay. Anybody who knows the circumstances of the country knows how hard it is to get the ordinary hardworking farmer to sit down and write a letter. We know how difficult it is to get the farmer who has been working hard all day to sit down and write a letter at the end of the day. Small farmers are not letter-writing people. When the six-day notice is sent out or even when the sheriff notifies him of the decree it will happen that the farmer will not write to the Land Commission or to the sheriff and in the ordinary way the sheriff will go out and seize whatever stock may be on the land. And that farmer may be in a legitimate position to make an appeal to the Land Commission for time or for some postponement of the debt which he is requested to pay. These things have happened in the past and they are likely to arise in the future. It is not possible for the Minister to say that his officials have devised a water-tight scheme which will obviate mistakes of that kind.

I still hold that there is no justification whatever for the introduction of this section of the Bill. If you look over the arrears for the past ten years you will find that no legitimate argument for this section can be based on the accumulation of arrears during those ten years. If you relate the arrears of the Land Commission annuities to the ordinary debts of a business man or shopkeeper in the community you will find that the debts outstanding to a business man are much higher than the debts due to the Land Commission. Yet the ordinary business man or shopkeeper has no redress otherwise than through the courts. In this matter now it is proposed that the Land Commission should be dealt with in an entirely different way to any other department of the Government or to the ordinary trader or business man. Has any reason been given or any case made for that discrimination against the annuitant? The Minister has not attempted to make any case for the drastic section he is incorporating in this Bill. In 1923 the total pre-1923 outstanding arrears amounted to £642,939. Those arrears were gradually reduced until 1931 when they were brought down to £372,456.

How much of the £372,456 was due for a period of more than one year?

These are the accumulated arrears for the whole period of ten years.

How much of it was due by the annuitants for more than one year—how many people were affected by the payments for four or five years —that would be an interesting point?

The accumulated arrears over the whole period were £372,456. We collected during these ten years £30,000,000 and out of all that money the total arrears were £372,456. The Minister in this Bill proposes to make generous concessions to the tenant farmers of this country. He has introduced certain sections for the purpose of funding the arrears. He has introduced other sections to enable him to reduce the land annuities by 50 per cent. after November next. In the ordinary normal course of events it would not be necessary to put that section into operation for another year. On the one hand the Minister is meting out what he has described as generous treatment to the farmers by funding their arrears and reducing their annuities and on the other hand he is holding a pistol to their heads. It means that "if you do not pay I will send the sheriff and the bailiffs and they will throw you out of the land." That is what this section means.

In the old days of the bad landlords they had the power without going to the court to enter upon the lands of the farmer and seize the stock of whatever was on the land. This section means a return to those old bad days and yet Deputy Davin and the members of the Labour Party are going to support the Minister in passing this section into law so that he will be enabled to send his sheriff and bailiffs, the Gárda and even the military, in order to evict the unfortunate tenant out of his holding. Deputy Davin said he was going to support the Minister in that section, but that is what the section means. It gives essentially the same power as the bad landlord had many, many years ago when he could enter on the land, take possession of the stock and all the property on that holding——

You did worse.

——without going through the courts and getting a decree from the courts. The Minister has not attempted to make any case whatsoever for this section. I happen to know a great deal about the history of this proposal. Four years ago this proposal was put up to me by the Land Commission officials and I turned it down because I felt it was grossly unfair and unjust; because no matter what machinery you have for the collection you could never make that machinery so watertight as to prevent its operating unjustly. No matter how competent the official in charge of the collection may be—and the official in charge of the collection in the Land Commission is the most competent of all the Government servants—it would be impossible for him to make that machinery so watertight that it would operate without mistakes. Mistakes will be made. Who is to pay for these mistakes? Is it not the unfortunate tenant farmers who may have the very best case to make in court for the inability to pay or the inability to meet the demand of the Land Commission? This is entirely a new principle in our legislation that a department of the Government should be allowed to send the sheriff to seize the property of an annuitant without any notification whatever. It is not obligatory on the sheriff under existing legislation to send a notice that he is about to seize on the annuitant's property. That is not obligatory, and the sheriff can walk in and seize that property without any notice whatsoever——

You did worse.

Perhaps the Deputy will tell me.

You seized the cattle of people who were grazing the land, people who did not owe anything.

There was never a seizure made in my time without the matter going through the courts and an order being made in accordance with the law.

Hear, hear.

Every seizure made in my time was made by an order of the court and after passing through the ordinary process of law.

There were seizures made on the stock and property of people who did not owe anything.

As I said a moment ago, the Minister is with one hand meting out what he calls generous treatment to the farmers of this country and with the other hand he is putting a pistol to their heads. I think it is up to the Minister to justify the procedure which is being adopted under this Land Bill for the collection of Land Commission annuities in future. If a case can be made to the effect that the State solicitor's costs are at the moment too high, the Minister has, as I said a moment ago, 12 months at least before it will be possible for him to put this section into operation. Why not set up a committee in the meantime for the purpose of investigating how it is possible to reduce State solicitors' costs? After all, the late Government, notwithstanding what Deputy Davin said to the contrary, set up a Committee to investigate this matter. The members of the Committee set up to investigate the working of the Courts of Justice Act were also asked by the Minister for Justice of the Cumann na nGaedheal to investigate this whole question of the payment of State solicitors' costs. I may say in passing that this proposal of the Land Commission was also discussed in relation to State solicitors' costs, and after exhaustive examination it was turned down by that Committee because they felt that if a proposal of that kind were put into operation it would inevitably operate unjustly in certain cases.

How many lawyers were on it?

It was composed of laymen and lawyers.

How many lawyers were on it?

I do not know how many lawyers.

The Labour Party was represented on it.

Every Party in the House was represented. The Committee was presided over at the majority of its sittings by a Labour Deputy.

The Deputy said it was unanimously turned down——

I did not say that.

As a matter of fact, Deputy Morrissey, who is now a member of Cumann na nGaedheal——

He was then a Labour Deputy.

——Senator Farren, and Senator O'Rourke, who is not Labour, but is strongly Cumann na nGaedheal, voted in favour of it.

In favour of what?

In favour of the proposal in the Bill.

It was I who said it was unanimously turned down. I should like to know what the Minister is quoting from.

From the report of that Committee under the Courts of Justice Act, 1924.

And those Deputies voted for it?

Yes. The Deputy can look up paragraph 86 of the report of the proceedings of the Committee.

I am glad the Deputy did not get away with that.

The whole point is that there was no recommendation made on it.

Did the Deputy hear what the Minister said?

Yes, but the Minister has not read out the final recommendation of the Committee. The Committee felt, after examining the question exhaustively, that they could not make any recommendation, having regard to the dangerous consequences involved in a proposal of that kind.

There were lawyers on it.

Yes. It was a representative Committee of every Party in the House, and was presided over at the majority of its sittings by a Labour Deputy.

As Leas-Cheann Comhairle?

My amendment undoubtedly gives the district justice wider discretion than he has at present in regard to Land Commission cases, and in so far as it does gives him that wider discretion, it will have the effect of reducing the costs. The discretion of the district justice, as the Minister is well aware, is at the moment limited in regard to Land Commission cases. This amendment has the effect of giving him wider discretion, and in so far as it gives him a wider discretion, it will also have the effect of reducing the costs. The amendment, in my view, is a most reasonable one. I think if the Minister had considered this matter, apart from his officials, if he had discussed the matter even with the members of his own Party in relation to the discussion which took place here yesterday afternoon, he would be in a much more sympathetic mood to-day, and would listen in a more sympathetic manner to the arguments of Deputies who have spoken on this matter so far.

I should like Deputy Roddy to clear up one point. He said —I think it was probably a slip—that under this Bill the sheriff could take possession of a man's holding. That is not so. He could take possession of his property, but not of his holding.

He could take possession of his property, and there is only a very short step between.

He could not take possession of his holding without going to the court.

He could take possession of his property. This discussion would probably have proceeded on more intelligent lines if the Minister had supplied me with the information which I asked for the other day. I wanted to find out from him what costs were incurred in the decrees which the Land Commission have already obtained in respect of outstanding arrears of Land Commission annuities. The Minister was not in a position to supply me with that information, although I am sure a good deal of the information must be already in the Land Commission. I do not very well see how it is possible for the Land Commission to proceed with the funding sections of this Bill unless they know what costs were incurred in the obtaining of the decrees.

I do not want to interrupt the Deputy, but he asked for that information for a particular period, and as I said, the State solicitors had not made their returns. In any case, those particular costs are not falling on the tenants. They are being met out of State funds.

For that reason I would suggest to the Minister that it would be very informative to the public, in view of the misleading statements made, if he would publish that information.

I will put down a question to the Minister at a later stage. I am very anxious to get that information.

I hope you will get it.

There is no use in Deputy Davin trying to salve his conscience in any way whatsoever. I made it perfectly clear what Deputy Davin and the other members of the Labour Party are committing themselves to by supporting this section. They are supporting a procedure which existed a good many years ago, the procedure adopted by the old rack-renting landlords of evicting tenants without going to the courts, or seeking any authority whatever—simply walking in and taking possession of their land and their property.

The land again!

Deputy Roddy is slipping into that again.

This section in effect means that the Minister is now taking identically the same authority that the old rack-renting landlords had a great many years ago. I want the Minister to justify the introduction of this section. He has made no attempt whatever to do so.

Will Deputy Roddy correct the statement he has made that this gives the Land Commission the same powers which the old rack-renting landlords had with regard to evicting tenants? Where is there in this clause a power given to the Land Commission to walk in and evict the tenants?

There is undoubtedly.

There is not.

There is, when this Bill is read in relation to the powers which the Land Commission already have for a sale of the defaulter's holding. The power is completely there. First of all the sheriff can walk in and take possession of the defaulter's property. If he continues in default the Land Commission can proceed to sell him out.

It requires an order of the High Court.

It can proceed afterwards to sell him out. What use is the land to a farmer if the Land Commission comes in and seizes his property? Is the Minister not prepared to make any sort of case for the insertion of this section in the Bill?

I think we have talked enough about it.

Question put: "That the words proposed to be deleted" stand.
The Committee divided:—Tá: 59; Níl: 40.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Blaney, Neal.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Browne, William Frazer.
  • Clery, Mícheál.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Corish, Richard.
  • Corkery, Daniel.
  • Corry, Martin John.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Davin, William.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • O'Doherty, Joseph.
  • Everett, James.
  • Gibbons, Seán.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hayes, Seán.
  • Jordan, Stephen.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • Norton, William.
  • O'Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Kelly, Seán Thomas.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pattison, James P.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C. (Dr.).

Níl

  • Beckett, James Walter.
  • Belton, Patrick.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Bourke, Séamus.
  • Brennan, Michael.
  • Burke, Patrick.
  • Coburn, James.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Costello, John Aloysius.
  • Curran, Richard.
  • Davis, Michael.
  • Desmond, William.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Dolan, James Nicholas.
  • Esmonde, Osmonde Grattan.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Galway).
  • Holohan, Richard.
  • Keating, John.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • Macdermot, Frank.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Minch, Sydney B.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • O'Connor, Batt.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Neill, Eamonn.
  • O'Reilly, John Joseph.
  • O'Sullivan, John M.
  • Redmond, Bridget Mary.
  • Reidy, James.
  • Rice, Vincent.
  • Roddy, Martin.
  • Rogers, Patrick James.
  • Wall, Nicholas.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Little and Smith; Níl: Deputies Bennett and O'Leary.
Question declared carried.

I move amendment 110:—

In sub-section (3) to insert at the end of the sub-section the words "including such rights, powers and duties as are for the time being vested in or imposed on him by Section 31 of the Land Act, 1927."

This is to give the sheriff the same powers in respect of this section as he has under Section 31 of the Land Act, 1927.

Mr. Lynch

I am wondering whether Deputy Davin has anything to say about this. Ten minutes ago Deputy Davin, during Deputy Roddy's speech, interjected several times: "You did worse," and when he was asked what worse had Deputy Roddy done, he said he had put in the bailiffs to take cattle belonging to graziers off some of these lands, not the property at all of the person who owned the lands. Here we are now putting this portion into Section 27 to enable that to be done without any court procedure. Surely Deputy Davin has something to say about that. He had a grievance when Deputy Roddy did that after ordinary judicial proceedings, after the case was heard in court. Now he has nothing to say when the Minister proposes that this be done without any judicial proceedings.

Come on, Davin.

The court again.

Amendment agreed to.
Question put:—"That Section 27, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
The Committee divided: Tá, 60; Níl, 40.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Blaney, Neal.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Browne, William Frazer.
  • Clery, Mícheál.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Corish, Richard.
  • Jordan, Stephen.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • Corkery, Daniel.
  • Corry, Martin John.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Davin, William.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • O'Doherty, Joseph.
  • Everett, James.
  • Gibbons, Seán.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hayes, Seán.
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Norton, William.
  • O'Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Kelly, Seán Thomas.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pattison, James P.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C. (Dr.)

Níl

  • Beckett, James Walter.
  • Belton, Patrick.
  • Bennett, George, Cecil.
  • Bourke, Séamus.
  • Brennan, Michael.
  • Burke, Patrick.
  • Coburn, James.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Costello, John Aloysius.
  • Curran, Richard.
  • Davis, Michael.
  • Desmond, William.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Dolan, James Nicholas.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Grattan.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Galway).
  • Holohan, Richard.
  • Keating, John.
  • Lynch, Fenian.
  • Macdermot, Frank.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Minch, Sydney B.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • O'Connor, Batt.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Neill, Eamonn.
  • O'Reilly, John Joseph.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Redmond, Bridget Mary.
  • Reidy, James.
  • Rice, Vincent.
  • Roddy, Martin.
  • Rogers, Patrick James.
  • Wall, Nicholas.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Little and Smith; Níl: Deputies Bennett and O'Leary.
Question declared carried.
SECTION 28.
(1) Sub-section (4) of Section 24 of the Land Act, 1923, is hereby repealed, and in lieu thereof it is hereby enacted that where the Land Commission declare that any land (in this section referred to as the declared land) coming within clause (a) of sub-section (2) of the said Section 24 is required for the purpose of relieving congestion, the Land Commission shall, if within the prescribed time and in the prescribed manner the proprietor or tenant of the declared land requires them so to do, provide such proprietor or tenant as soon as practicable with a new holding which the lay commissioners (subject to a right of appeal to the appeal tribunal, whose decision shall be final) consider to be of not less market value than the declared land.
(2) The provisions of the Land Act, 1923, and the Acts amending or extending that Act in relation to the transfer of burdens and rights on the exchange of holding by agreement shall extend to any exchange of lands effected under the preceding sub-section of this section.
(3) The right conferred on the tenant or proprietor of any declared land by the foregoing provisions of this section of requiring the Land Commission to provide him with a new holding, shall not be exerciseable unless such tenant or proprietor satisfies the Land Commission:—
(a) that he or his wife resides on the declared land and that he or she uses such land in the same manner as an ordinary farmer in accordance with proper methods of husbandry; and
(b) that he or his wife is not the owner or the tenant of lands the market value of which exceeds the sum of £2,000:
Provided always that if such tenant or proprietor is the owner of lands the market value of which exceeds the sum of £2,000, he shall be entitled to require the Land Commission either, at his election—
(a) to restrict their declaration to part only of the said lands and so to restrict such declaration that the part of the said lands to which such declaration does not apply shall be of not less market value than £2,000; or
(b) to provide such tenant or proprietor with a new holding which shall be of not less market value than £2,000.
Where the Land Commission provides such tenant or proprietor with a new holding under the foregoing paragraph (b), the balance of the purchase money of the declared lands over and above the market value of such new holding shall be payable in land bonds.
(4) Sub-section (5) of Section 24 of the Land Act, 1923, is hereby repealed.
(5) The Land Commission may publish in the prescribed manner a notice of intention to declare that lands are required for the relief of congestion, and the publication of such notice shall be in lieu of and in substitution for the publication of a provisional list of the lands pursuant to Section 40 of the Land Act, 1923.
(6) The power of the Land Commission under sub-section (3) of Section 24 of the Land Act, 1923, to declare that any land therein referred to is required for the relief of congestion shall be exercised and performed by the lay commissioners and their decision shall be final subject to an appeal to the appeal tribunal on any question of law or of value, and the decision of the appeal tribunal on any such question of value shall be final.
(7) The Land Commission shall not be precluded from declaring lands to be required for the relief of congestion by reason only of the fact that proceedings for a declaration begun prior to the passing of this Act are pending or have been, prior to the passing of this Act, dismissed or discontinued.

I move amendment No. 111:—

To delete sub-section (1) and substitute the following new sub-sections:—

(1) Sub-section (4) of Section 24 of the Land Act, 1923, is hereby repealed and in lieu thereof it is hereby enacted that when the Land Commission declare that any land (in this section referred to as the declared land) coming within clause (a) of sub-section (2) of the said Section 24 is required for the purpose of relieving congestion, and the tenant or proprietor of the declared land or the wife or the husband of such tenant or proprietor resides on or in the immediate neighbourhood of the declared land and uses it in the same manner as an ordinary farmer in accordance with the proper methods of husbandry, then, if such tenant or proprietor is not the owner of land (other than the declared land) the market value of which exceeds the sum of £2,000, the Land Commission shall, if within the prescribed time and in the prescribed manner such tenant or proprietor requires them to declare and acquire his entire land and to provide him with a new holding, provide such tenant or proprietor with a new holding which the lay commissioners (subject to a right of appeal to the appeal tribunal, whose decision shall be final) consider to be of not less market value than the declared land or of not less market value than £2,000 (whichever shall be the lesser sum).

(2) Where the Land Commission provides such tenant or proprietor with a new holding under the next preceding sub-section the balance of the purchase money of the declared land over and above the market value of such new holding shall be payable in land bonds.

I think that Deputies will find that a number of amendments down are covered by this amendment. For instance, I think Deputy Rice's amendment, No. 112, is met. His amendment is "To delete the words ‘As soon as practicable.'"

Mr. Rice

The words are not included in the new sub-section and, therefore, my amendment goes.

I think, sir, we should discuss the official amendment 116 along with 111 because what the Government is proposing to do is to delete sub-sections (1) and (3) and substitute therefor the new sub-sections contained in amendment 111.

First of all, I think we are meeting Deputy Rice's amendment and also meeting the amendment in the names of Deputies Roddy and Fionán Lynch, No. 114, which was to add the words:

Provided that such proprietor or tenant shall not be put out of possession or deprived of the receipt of the rents and profits of such land until the Land Commission shall have provided him with such new holding.

I think that is covered. Amendment 117, in the names of Deputies Roddy and Lynch and a similar amendment, No. 118, in the name of Deputy MacDermot are also covered. These amendments have to do with the question of residence. Amendment 124, in the name of Deputies Roddy and Lynch, is covered, I think, by sub-section (2) of amendment 111.

On the Second Reading stage this section was debated at great length and there were one or two objections to it which we considered reasonable. One of these was put forward and argued very strongly by Deputy Hogan and it was to the effect that if a man had two or three holdings—two or three different receivable orders— it should be treated as one holding for the purposes of this section. Deputy Hogan pointed out the danger, as it stood in the original draft, that the holdings could be treated as different holdings. In this new section we are treating all lands in or around the immediate neighbourhood in which a man resides as one holding. As a matter of fact, he need not reside on the one holding at all. He could reside in the village and have two holdings in the immediate neighbourhood. They would be all totted up to see if he had a holding worth £2,000 or over as the case might be. There was a doubt as to whether a tenant, if moved by the Land Commission, would be moved out of his holding before he got an alternative holding. We are meeting the point raised by Deputy Roddy which was to the effect that there was nothing in the section to compel the Land Commission to give the owner of the lands bonds in exchange. As this amendment is drafted, I think it makes it watertight and comprehensive and that it is much better than the original draft.

The principle in the amendment is that where the Land Commission require vested lands from a farmer with over £2,000 worth of land they can take from him the surplus over £2,000 and give him land bonds in exchange; but where the Land Commission proceed to acquire a farm under £2,000 in value, or any portion of it, the tenant can compel them to declare the whole of the lands under £2,000 and give him an alternative holding of £2,000 market value. Where a man has more than £2,000 worth, say £3,000, the Land Commission can take £1,000 worth from him and give him bonds in exchange; but if they want £1,100 worth, which would leave him with only £1,900 worth of land, he can demand that they take all his lands and give him an alternative holding worth £2,000, plus £1,000 in bonds.

All residential working farmers are protected in that way. If a man, however, has a holding of land or is one of a new landlord class that is springing up and causing a lot of disruption throughout the country, living in a town and owning land 20 or 30 miles away, and he does nothing with the land but sub-let it every year and get rents for it far and away greater than the old landlords got, he will have no right to get an alternative holding. I think that is a good principle. The Government is not anxious —no one is anxious—to see the small working farmer disturbed in his land. Even if he is a large working farmer, if he gives attention to his farm and produces as much and gives as much employment as the land would give if it were sub-divided, no one would dream of disturbing such a man. We think, however, that where an owner of land is using it in a definitely anti-social manner he should not be able to defeat the social needs of the community by saying that he has his land vested in him under Queen Elizabeth or under the last Dáil. We are only proposing in this section to give the Land Commission power to deal with people who have land and are using it in an anti-social manner. As the law stands at present, there is nothing to prevent a multi-millionaire coming over here and buying up a great number of vested holdings and using them simply as a sporting preserve for himself or as a grazing ranch for cattle.

The Land Commission at the moment have no power to disturb a vested tenant even though he holds large tracts of land and even though these tracts of land are adjacent to the lands of a comparatively small tenant farmer who is not protected by the 1923 Act. It has happened that you had an owner of vested lands amounting to 1,400 or 1,500 acres and the Land Commission wanted to take land for the relief of congestion in that neighbourhood. Under the 1923 Act that owner could not be touched even though he was giving practically no employment and in order to relieve congestion the Land Commission were forced against their will to take 100 acres of a comparatively small farmer, the average farmer, the man who is working his land as best he could. They had to do that because congestion had to be relieved and these were the only lands that were not protected by the 1923 Act. On the Second Reading Stage there was a lot of talk about this being a revolutionary clause. It is not revolutionary. If you like to put it that way, it is an evolutionary clause. It is a clause that is required to meet the situation at the moment. It is a clause that, no matter what political Party were in office, any Government would have to bring forward if they really meant to deal with the requirements of the present situation. It is not as revolutionary as the 1923 Act. The 1923 Act left men who had judicial tenancies absolutely unprotected. They had no right to have that land vested in them when the purchase was going through.

The operation of the purchase of tenanted land is that the land, first of all, vests in the Land Commission. Under the 1923 Act when the land vested in the Land Commission the Land Commission could retain the holdings of judicial tenants and afterwards resume them. They could take over every acre of land of an ordinary farmer, no matter how much he had put into the land, no matter how hard he had worked or how much employment he had given. They could take every acre from him and could give him land bonds in return.

The Minister is overlooking Section 33 of the 1923 Act.

I am not. The fact of the matter is—Deputies can dispute it if they like—the Land Commission were entitled under the 1923 Act to resume the holding of the hard-working farmer, about whom Deputy Hogan talked on the last day, to take every acre from him and give him nothing in return except land bonds. I do not think that is a statement that can be disputed. In this instance we are giving the farmer with a holding, valued under £2,000, the right to demand an alternative holding, if he is a residential working farmer. That means that a man cannot be changed from the farming class into some other class. He can demand if he is a residential working farmer that he should be left with a sufficient amount of land to enable himself and his family to work at their usual occupation of farming. Under the 1923 Act the hard-working farmer who was not protected by it—and the number of holdings that were not protected by it numbered about 80,000 or one-fourth of the entire number of farms of the country—had no legal right to demand that he should be left in his normal occupation as a farmer. Every acre of his land could be taken from him. We were particularly anxious that that should not happen under this Bill. The argument is used that that is all very well, but that the vested farmer had some more sacred tenure than the purely judicial farmer.

We all know that everywhere throughout the country you have judicial farmers and vested farmers side by side, men who were vested prior to the 1923 Act and those who were in process of purchase since—about 80,000. You have on the one side of the fence a judicial farmer and on the other side of the fence a vested farmer. In every respect they work the land in the same way. They both either till the soil or they graze the land. It was a pure accident that the man on one side of the fence was lucky enough to have his land vested prior to the passing of the 1923 Act. That accident saved him from any resumption or retention of his land by the Land Commission under the 1923 Act. The other farmer who was not lucky enough to have his farm vested in him 20 or 30 years ago or was not lucky enough to have his rent reduced by 25 or 30 per cent. was left absolutely unprotected by the 1923 Act. I trust Deputy Hogan and other members of Cumann na nGaedheal will bear in mind the unfair criticism that was used against them when they were trying to put the 1923 Bill through the Seanad. I have read the Seanad debate of that time and I have seen that because Deputy Hogan wanted to give the Land Commission powers to relieve congestion—a very necessary social service—he was called a follower of Karl Marx and all the rest of it. He assured the Seanad then that he was not a follower of Karl Marx, that he was only an Irishman dealing with the situation as he found it and trying to make laws to suit the needs of the people. That is a way of trying to do it.

I think it would be a bad thing if any section of the House here tried to alarm the people that something revolutionary is going to be done. There is nothing revolutionary in this Bill. We had powers that were very much more drastic under the 1923 Act in relation to 80,000 judicial holders. We had those powers in our hands for the last two years and I do not think anybody has been aggrieved by the way in which they have been operated. No ordinary farmers have been disturbed and there is no intention to disturb them. The Land Commission does not want to disturb them; the Government does not want to disturb the ordinary, working farmer. But when there is congestion that is required to be relieved they want the right to take the land that is most suitable for the relief of that congestion and not be restricted merely to going to the class that was left unprotected by the 1923 Act. From the ordinary point of view, the vast majority of those 80,000 who were left unprotected under the Act of 1923 are much more deserving of fixity of tenure than a large number of demesne holders and vested tenants to whom were given protection. I think that I have explained the aim of the section as well as I can. If any points arise on it, I will deal with them later on.

Is the Minister quite clear that he can only exercise those powers for the relief of congestion? Sub-section (4) says that: "sub-section (5) of Section 24 of the Land Act, 1923, is hereby repealed." That sub-section says: "the Land Commission shall not, without the consent of the owner, acquire land from him under the powers conferred on them by sub-section (3) of this section, so long as there is other unacquired land in the same locality suitable for relieving congestion," and so on. But remember, as well as doing that, you are wiping out sub-section (3) of Section 24 of the Land Act of 1923. And sub-section (3) is the particular section that says that this class of land can only be acquired for the relief of congestion. Are we debating this on the basis that this class of land can only be acquired for the relief of congestion?

If Deputy Hogan looks at Section 31 of the present Bill he will see there is an extension of the powers to acquire land compulsorily.

Section 31 of the present Bill gives the Land Commission the same power to acquire land for any other purpose set out in the 1931 Land Act.

Mr. Hogan

Very well, that makes the point quite clear. Then you have power to take this land not only for the relief of congestion but for any purpose at all. This Bill refers back to the Land Act of 1931, which says that advances may be made to acquire land for the relief of congests, evicted tenants and others or any suitable person. Advances can be made to any suitable person. Land can be taken for the purposes of giving it to any suitable person. Under this section here you can take vested land, land that is subject to a land purchase annuity for any purpose at all, either for landless men, evicted tenants, market gardeners or anything you like. That is an immense extension of the powers of the 1923 Act. We will however come to that in its order. The 1923 Act gave powers to the Land Commission to resume tenanted land for the relief of congestion, but for the relief of congestion only. If they did not require the lands for the relief of congestion they had to sell it to the tenant. That was an immense restriction on their powers, because they had to prove to the judicial commissioner after the land was to be acquired for a narrow purpose. That was a limitation on their actual powers of resuming and retaining tenanted land.

Apart altogether from that, tenanted land is in a quite different position from purchased land. Tenanted land is a matter between landlord and tenant. The State never came into it. It grew up as a result of the development. Landlord and tenant made their contracts and the landlord handed the fee simple to the tenant. By the Act of 1923 the State transferred the fee simple from the landlord to the tenant and this Bill is in furtherance of that policy. It is a definite policy undertaken by the State and with a definite object, the State having undertaken that policy and having actually in very recent times transferred the fee simple from the landlord to the tenant. What is the tenant now under this Bill? What is his position? We are reopening the whole question again and going back on land purchase. We were not doing it under the 1923 Act. Under the 1923 Act if a man had a purchased holding it could be taken from him but an equally suitable holding should be given for it. That was done for the relief of congestion. You may make the point now that we interfered with the purchased holders but we protected every one of their rights. Under this you will reopen land purchase again and it is a completely new orientation of land purchase. Under the Land Acts of 1903 and 1909 the Land Commission went ahead buying fee simple land and vesting it in the tenants. Once the State had interfered and the Land Commission had examined the case and decided to give the tenant the fee simple he felt at least that he had security. The tenant felt he could say: "I have something that cannot be taken from me." Rightly or wrongly he felt that the land was his and that it could not be taken arbitrarily from him. He may lose the land as a result of bank mortgages or debts or things like that but so far as the State was concerned he had the security that the State was not going to interfere with that land.

Remember the position with regard to the tenure of land in Ireland has been always in a state of insecurity. I am not saying that there was not good reason for that. Landholders always felt that their tenure was insecure and that had a very bad effect on farming in Ireland. It was one of the reasons in Ireland why landholders did not go in more for breeding pedigree stock. I do not mean the sort of people that the Attorney-General referred to yesterday, men who owned £20,000 worth of land, but men with 200 acres of land or so. These are the men who are the best farmers in every country. Even in Denmark the farmers of 200 to 250 acres are the best farmers. In this country such men felt insecure. They never put their capital into the land. They never went in for very heavy capital expenditure. They never went in for breeding pedigree stock which took an immense amount of money. That was because at the back of their heads they felt "if I do this a land Bill may be brought in, my land may be taken from me and the price I will get for the land will have no relation at all to what I have been putting into the land." People who bred pedigree stock of one kind or another, pedigree cattle, pedigree sheep and so on had a tremendous influence in any country in improving farming conditions. People of intelligence who are well educated and who kept and bred pedigree stock have in all countries done most in the improvement of farming. In this country these farmers bred pedigree stock of one kind or another and had a big influence in improving farming in the country. The Land Acts up to now altered the point of view in that respect to some extent. Remember the most important revolution you could have in any country is a revolution which consists of altering the point of view of any class. If the alteration is for the better it is all right. But what happens here? That insecurity has arisen. Security is taken away. Nobody now under this Bill has any security. A man may have £5,000 worth of land. That would be a farm of 250 acres. That man may have expended £4,000 or £5,000 on buildings on that land. He may have a herd of 30 or 40 pedigree cows and a flock of Oxford-Down sheep. He may have a herd of shorthorns and he may even go in for pedigree horse breeding, draught horses or racehorses, at a tremendous expense. If there are any farmers here who have done it in a small way they found that they had to change the fences on their fields. They may have to bring water into fields where they had not water before. They may have to incur a tremendous amount of overhead expenses every year.

Take the position of a farmer who has 250 to 300 acres of land and is going in for that kind of farming now. What is his position? Of course, the Minister will say at once: "We will not take land from the like of him." What that man will say, and what I would say if I were in his position, is: "The political expediency which forced the present Government to go so far as to take powers to take that land from me will force the next Government to exercise them." There is no use for the Government to say: "You should not say that; our intentions are honourable." That is what he will say. You may regard it as a good development, but I tell you that this section will do a tremendous amount of injury to agriculture in this country. It will do a tremendous amount to shake the confidence and security of the very best type of farmers in the country. It will stop them from doing what they are doing at present, and that is expending money on producing good stock animals and generally going in for advanced agriculture; not only giving employment, but helping the whole neighbourhood. You are to take some land from that man. What price are you going to give him for it? The Land Commission price. The Land Commission will have to buy it with a view to reselling it. That limits their price. They will give him a little less than the agricultural price would be in bad times for, say, 100 acres of his land, and he is left with, say, 150 acres, which is valued at £2,000. What position does he find himself in? He find himself with all the buildings and overheads for a farm of 250 acres, and he is left with 150. He is left with an utterly uneconomic proposition. He is left with buildings, equipment and machinery which were suitable for a well-run farm of 250 acres. It is an uneconomic proposition. He had to sell his 100 acres at a price which is slightly below the commercial price. He lost there, but he has also a permanent loss. He has buildings which are too big. Any good farmer realises that the worst thing you can do is to buy a farm of land with too big a house on it. The ordinary commercial farmer who wants 60 or 70 acres of land will not buy it if there is a house with eight or nine bedrooms and a couple of reception rooms. It is no use to him. The rates kill the place. Instead of that being an advantage he writes off a certain amount against it. He would have paid a bigger price if there was a house that would suit him, with three or four bedrooms, a kitchen and a couple of other rooms.

If you operate this section—and remember some Government will operate it if the power is there—you are putting that man in the position of having a comparatively small holding around a house and stabling which is far too big for him. That man would sell out. If he is a man with brains and efficiency, the sort of man who would make a success as a doctor or a solicitor or at the Bar, he is not going to settle down in that position. It is not fair to ask him to do so. Deputy Corry may be incapable of seeing this point of view, but it is not fair to ask that man to settle down now and live on 150 acres of land when he was accustomed to living on 250 or 300 acres. If you made a similar proposition to a doctor or a solicitor he would be very much annoyed. If you said to a shopkeeper that he should give up his hardware business and live on the drapery business he would be very much annoyed. You are putting it up to that man, a man of brains who knows his job inside out: "You must adopt a definitely lower standard of living. Cut down your agriculture. Give up this work which you have been doing, and which your father before you did all his life. Take on a very much simpler type of farming, which a man with far less education and far less brains could carry out." Is that fair? Will he do it? Of course, he will not. He will sell out. "A good job," you will say. I do not know that it is a good job. I think it would be a very bad day for this country when you would have nothing but small holdings, and no one could afford 100 guineas for a bull or 40 guineas each for a couple of good cows. That is what you are coming to. There is no use talking about landlords, or, as the Acting-Minister did, about the millionaire from America who comes in here and buys a big farm of purchased land. Where is that happening? Nowhere. That problem is not there. If you have to quote that in order to justify this section, it shows how unfair and unsound the section is. That problem does not exist. There are only very rare cases where Americans or millionaires of any kind have come into this country and purchased land.

I did not quote that as a problem. I quoted it simply as showing that there is no limit to the amount of vested land——

Mr. Hogan

You cannot deal with a problem that has not arisen.

It has arisen, not in relation to American millionaires but in relation to Irish graziers.

Mr. Hogan

It was millionaires that the Minister mentioned. I do not know any graziers who are millionaires.

The prices ruling now will put a limit on that.

Mr. Hogan

Even when the prices were good I know very few cases where graziers came along and bought purchased land. I know a few cases where they did, but were they not doing considerably better than the man who sold it? I take it the Acting-Minister does not stand up for the man who got 40 or 50 acres of good land under the 1923 Act at a very low annuity, who had all the benefits of the good times, and then sold out? There are such cases. Does it matter who gets his land? As a rule, it is the son of a good small farmer in the neighbourhood, who has made a success of his own land, who gets it. Even if it were a man who had 200 acres, is he not doing far better than the man who had to sell it? What I am concerned to point out is that there is no problem in that direction at all. If the small farmers of the country are broken on such a scale that a huge number of their holdings are sold out, and get into the possession of one man, then the problem will arise for some Dáil to deal with. As the Acting-Minister mentioned the Seanad, when the Land Bill of 1923 was being put through the Seanad one Senator made a great point that the Land Act of 1903 was not a success. I want to point out that in the County Galway there has been more land purchased than in any four counties in Ireland, and I know only one farm where the tenants failed. That was a farm bought in 1904, and bought 75 per cent. too dear. The tenants failed in that case. It is the only farm in Galway where the tenants failed. It is only in an odd case that the tenant purchasers have failed, through their own fault, and I do not think any Party in this House should have much sympathy for them, or bother too much what way their land goes. Let the man who is able to buy do so. There is, therefore, no such problem. There is no reason on earth for doing the injury to the country you are doing. Why should you shake security and deter and discourage the really good farmers in the country? And when you do take their land—100 acres here and there—you have got very little way with your problem. You are doing a tremendous amount of harm on the one side, and on the other side you are doing very little good.

Again, take the instance of my own County of Galway. It is a very big county and I know it very well. There has been a considerable amount of land purchase carried out there, but there is still an amount of land hunger. If you take a hundred acres of land from a man who has 150 acres or 200 or 300 acres how far will you have got? I do not believe that you will be able to deal with 500 congests, not to talk at all of the landless men. What is the problem? There are five or six thousand people looking for land. You may say that only shows how severe the problem is, but you cannot deal with it in this way. You cannot deal with these people no matter what measures you take. If you are serious about this problem of land purchase, deal with it as a business proposition without any political considerations as if your idea was to solve the problem efficiently and economically. If you did that there is no doubt you would confine your operations to the congests. The problem of congestion is there still, and I do not see how it can be solved in its entirety. If you confine yourself to the problem of congestion you will be able to do something with it. What you have done is, you have diffused yourself. You are trying to deal with the question of congestion and, also, with the problem of landless men. That will leave every landless man expectant, and the landless men are well able to organise themselves. They are a younger body of men. For every landless man you deal with you will leave three congests undealt with. You cannot deal with landless men without giving each 25 or 30 acres of land. But that amount of land would deal with three average congests. You cannot deal with both. When this Bill is finished and squeezed dry you will have done no good to either class. You will only have effected one positive thing and that is that you will shaken security and the tenure of the best class of farmers in the country—men who are farming and working from two to three hundred acres of land. There are many farmers with two or three hundred acres of land who, needless to say, are not ranchers, and who are not men supposed to be doing nothing with their land. There is a tremendous number of such farmers to be found in the counties of Wexford, Cork, Louth. These are the men who produce the best stock at the Dublin shows in every line of farming. They produce the best pigs, cattle, beef, dairy produce. They are a type of farmers, and there are a great many of them, who are a credit to the farming community. These are the type of farmers who have made Scotland the greatest agricultural country in the world.

I do not really know what your intentions are and what impression you are going to create in the minds of that class of farmer. I am afraid the impression you are going to create in the minds of these men is that whatever may happen to-day or to-morrow, it looks as if their security was gone and that their land can be taken from them any time, and that they are to-day in the same position that they were in 20, 30 or 40 years ago. In these circumstances the sons of these men, who have the best brains and the most enterprising spirits that could be put to work for the country, will leave the land, and will go in for professions or something else. I regard this Bill as very unsound from that point of view. However, we are in Committee Stage now, and our view is to try to improve it. The Minister himself admits that he sees difficulty.

Under the Bill as it stood originally, where a man owned one holding upon which he resides, and which may be quite a small holding, and owns another holding perhaps a mile away, he gets no protection in regard to the second holding which, can be taken from him without any condition at all. The Minister has endeavoured to change that when he introduced this section. Dealing with this new section specifically, I draw the Minister's attention to the words "immediate neighbourhood." To my mind that will lead to constant litigation. I do not think that expression can be interpreted by reference to any other Land Act. I do not remember such an expression in any other Land Act and I am perfectly satisfied it will lead to an immense amount of litigation. I confess I do not know the meaning of it. What do you mean by the words "immediate neighbourhood?" When this comes before the appeal tribunal and the question to be decided is whether land in the same village is in the immediate neighbourhood you will be immediately faced with the difficulty, because another case, in exactly the same circumstances, may come before the appeal tribunal, but the land in question may be in the next village. Are they then to decide that because it is in the next village and not in the same village it is not in the "immediate neighbourhood?" The words are most unnecessary. Why should they decide, for instance, that land because it is in the next village is not in the immediate neighbourhood, while land in the same village is, when the men are both in the same circumstances, both bought their land? And why should one man be penalised because his second holding is four or five miles away?

Take any county you like. You have men holding land under these circumstances. You have a man with a second holding of 40 or 50 acres, five or six miles away from his other holding. You may have another man whose holdings are only one mile apart. The man whose holdings are six miles apart has to suffer all the inconvenience when he wants to change his stock. If it is a question of tillage, and I know cases where such holdings are in tillage, the man will have to cart manure long distances. Such a man is penalised by the fact that the outside farm is several miles away. In the one case, where the out holding is near, the judge may decide that it is in the immediate neighbourhood. In the other case he may decide that it is not in the immediate neighbourhood and so it goes. I do say that is a most arbitrary distinction. There is no scientific, equitable or considered basis for making that distinction. What I would suggest to the Minister is this: I take it his intention is not to take £2,000 worth of land at all unless where it is absolutely essential to take it, if it is farmed as an ordinary farmer would farm it. Would it not improve that if he struck these words out altogether? As the Bill stands sub-section (3) of Section 28 reads:—

The right conferred on the tenant or proprietor of any declared land by the foregoing provisions of this section of requiring the Land Commission to provide him with a new holding shall not be exerciseable unless such tenant or proprietor satisfies the Land Commission:—

(a) that he or his wife resides on the declared land and that he or she uses such land in the same manner as an ordinary farmer in accordance with proper methods of husbandry;

Supposing he strikes out "resides on the declared land and that he or she," as suggested by Deputy Roddy's amendment, then it would read "that he or his wife uses such land in the same manner as an ordinary farmer." What would your objection be?

As regards the residential holding, anybody who uses land as an ordinary farmer must have a residential holding. At least one of the holdings must be residential; he must reside on it. In order to make that sure, why not alter the section "that he or his wife has a residential holding," and uses the land at issue in the same manner as an ordinary farmer? I do not think the words "as a residential holding" are necessary, because a man who uses land in accordance with proper methods of husbandry must have a residence on one of his bits of land. I think it would meet the purpose if you accepted Deputy Roddy's amendment.

I will ask the Minister to consider that there is likely to be a lot of litigation on this question of the immediate neighbourhood. No matter how you interpret it, you will have a lot of injustice. Take the case of a man residing in Wexford, who gets a chance of buying land near the market in Dublin or Drogheda. This man fattens cattle, has a lot of stall-feeding, and gives a lot of employment. He is the sort of man who employs a lot of labour. It would be a great advantage to him to have land close to the market at Drogheda or Dublin, or land at Trim, where he could leave stock for a couple of days before selling them. He is the type of farmer who finishes animals. Now you rule him out because his second bit of land is not in the immediate neighbourhood. It is bought with an eye to the market where he sells his finished products. He buys this land in order to market his produce efficiently. Under this measure you propose to take that land from him. No commercial price you pay him for that land, even in good times, will compensate him. I suggest that the Minister's amendment is unsatisfactory. He ought to adopt Deputy Roddy's amendment, which gives him every safeguard he wants.

The Attorney-General

What particular amendment?

Amendment 117.

Mr. Hogan

If the Minister thinks it necessary to put in the words "as a residential holding" he can do so, but I do not think it is necessary.

Of course that sub-section has gone.

Mr. Hogan

If you agree that it meets your point, you can withdraw this amendment and accept the other. If there is agreement the matter can be adjusted on the Report Stage. The draftsmen can prepare it properly for that stage. I will ask the Minister, if he wants to limit the harm he is going to do, to consider introducing an amendment to Section 31 under which purchased land can only be taken for the relief of congestion.

The Attorney-General

I think we may say that we considered the last point made by Deputy Hogan, but at the moment I do not see very much force in his objection to the wording of the new sub-section as regards the use of the words "in the neighbourhood of". I take it the appeal tribunal, when considering these cases, will have regard to the question as to whether separate land is being worked as a unit. There may be some uncertainty for a little while as to how the words "the immediate neighbourhood" will be construed. I dare say it will be a very short time before the point is cleared up by some decision which will enable everyone to know what is meant. Would the Deputy consider substituting the words "in the same locality"?

Mr. Hogan

I was going to make that point. What about the point where it is admitted by all parties that lands are not in the immediate neighbourhood? That is quite common. There are farmers in Cork who have land near Cork, there are farmers in Louth who have land near Trim. This land is essential, and it is very valuable from their point of view to have land where they can transfer stock immediately before marketing. That is what enables them to go in for fattening and finishing.

The Attorney-General

I am not prepared at the moment to say what view will be taken about that. It seems to me to introduce a new principle. The Deputy's criticism to the section as a whole runs along the line that because we are taking these powers, these powers will necessarily be used in every case. There are some people who take the view that the Land Commission are going ruthlessly to exercise these powers and to take land from everybody. I dare say that the considerations the Deputy is now urging will be present to the minds of the practical administrators of the land code who have been for years handling that work in the Land Commission. When the Deputy introduced the 1923 Land Act he faced the very same line of criticism that powers were so wide that security was being disturbed. His answer to that was that it was necessary to give wide powers, but that one must act on the assumption that the administration of the Act would be carried out in a commonsense manner and that there would not be any disposition to exercise the powers harshly or with any more cruelty than could be avoided.

The Land Acts as a whole, particularly since 1923, have worked with great harshness; I do not deny that at all. I suppose to this particular type of legislation the one defence that must be made is that you cannot make omelettes without breaking eggs. The very idea behind these Land Acts of changing the whole ownership of land necessarily leads to what some people will describe as injustice and what undoubtedly, in a great many cases, results in hardships to individuals. That can only be defended upon the lines that the revolutionary changes made were necessary for the good of the community. That is the defence I made to the criticism which the Deputy offered as regards this particular section.

On the wider issue about which he challenges us I make him this answer: that looking at things from a broad point of view, while there has been insecurity created by the working of the Land Acts, the very Land Act of 1881, the Land Act of 1870 and all the succeeding Land Acts gave security to the peasant proprietor or the tenant purchaser as he subsequently became, but complementary to that went insecurity for the landlords and insecurity for the owners of the soil. The only defence that could be made for that was that for the good of the country as a whole it was more desirable that the land should be held by the small holder working a holding of an economic size than by large holders who grazed it or worked it in large areas. I make bold to say that, looking at the thing in a broad way, we have in this country to-day, through the operation of the Land Acts, an amount of security felt here which at the present moment is felt in very few countries in Europe, or, indeed, in the world. Supposing that the Land Acts had not been in operation here, even in the limited way they were operating down to 1923 and in the fuller way they were operating since that time, is there any doubt that the danger of, say, Communism spreading would be infinitely greater than at the present moment? While I agree with Deputy Hogan that a certain insecurity may be felt by, I will not call them landlords, but by the large holders of land, I think that it is properly balanced by the security that is being given to the persons whom we regard as the best type to place upon the land. I think it is quite unjustifiable to suggest that in the working of this Land Act we are going to create a feeling of insecurity amongst the small holders. I think that the small holders of land are about 75 per cent. in this country and there can be no suggestion whatever that, save in the rarest of rare instances, the Land Commission are going to purchase and take up land from an economic holder whose land has been vested in him, or that, except in an infinitesimal number of cases, any of those occupiers of economic holdings purchased under the Land Acts are going to be disturbed. I do not think that at the present moment these people feel that our Act is designed to disturb them or to shake their security or that we have any other policy than that which has been behind all the Land Acts since 1881, which is to establish a peasant proprietorship on the soil of this country so far as that is possible.

Some of the very statements made by Deputy Hogan himself in the course of his speech justify that. He has pointed out quite properly the fact that very rarely indeed do lands slip back into their former ownership or do the men to whom they have been committed under the Land Purchase Acts show that they are not capable of working their holdings economically and carrying on. He has drawn attention to that fact which, I think, is one of the greatest justifications of the distribution of land in this country; that where land has been split up and distributed as additional land to small holders in the West or as new holdings to persons who were not tenants, such as landless men, herds and other similar classes not entitled to get land up to the present, they have carried on efficiently. I think that, taking the working of the Land Act as a whole, there has been a most extraordinary justification of those who said that if the land were given to the people, and they were made the owners of the land, it would bring about a wholly new state of things and substitute in a great many instances, for wasteful and practically bankrupt small tenants, owners of land who would have a pride in their ownership, who would be induced to put all they could into the working of their lands, and who would be amongst the most desirable citizens in the whole community. If our land legislation is to be condemned at all, it can only be condemned because it does aim at making that type of ownership as widespread as possible. In the course of doing that, various difficulties have been encountered, and I make bold to say, although Deputy Dillon suggested the contrary, that, in the minds of those who were responsible to a large extent for bringing about the revolution which enabled such a state of things as that to which I have referred to be created, was the creation of peasant proprietorship and that the small holder working an economic holding was the type of man for whom they worked and fought and on whose behalf the land agitation was fought.

If our Land Act is to be condemned, it can only be condemned because we aim, in this section and in the other sections of the Bill, at enabling that particular objective to be achieved. In doing that, as I have said, I think I am right in saying that, broadly speaking, that was the aim behind Deputy Hogan's Land Act of 1923. He did point out the fact, when he was putting the Bill through, that his first aim and object was the relief of congestion. I think I am right in saying that is our first aim here. He also pointed out the fact, I think, that if that problem were to be dealt with radically it would require almost all the untenanted land in the country in order to deal with it. In fact, I think it was because of that that he found it necessary to take the powers given to him in Section 24. In the course of his speech he also pointed to the fact that if we try to deal with the two problems of landless men and congestion hand in hand, for one landless man we deal with there will be two congests. I think that is an admission that even if we were only to deal with congestion, we would want those powers and have to take as large an area of land as we can possibly take under the Bill as it stands. The difficulties which have been met in dealing with congestion are familiar to Deputy Hogan. He knows them quite well. He outlined these difficulties in the 1923 Bill and he knows that, in fact, difficulties piled up far beyond his anticipation. On the Second Reading, Deputy Hogan said that there were 100,000 congests to be dealt with. I held that only a tithe of these had been dealt with since 1923 and I find, on inquiry, that that is true.

I move to report progress.

Progress reported. Committee to sit on Tuesday, 1st August.
The House adjourned at 2 p.m. until Tuesday, 1st August at 3 p.m.