Land Bill, 1933—Committee Stage (Resumed).

Debate resumed on 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(1) Sub-section (4) of Section 24 of the Land Act, 1923, is hereby repealed and in lieu thereof it is hereby enacted that when the Land Commission declare that any land (in this section referred to as the declared land) coming within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.—(Aire Tailte agus Iascaigh.)

In connection with the amendment before the House, I should like, for the purpose of saving time, to draw your attention to amendment No. 113:—

At the end of sub-section (1) to add the words "and to be equally suitable for the said proprietor".

That amendment was put down by me prior to the production of amendment No. 111. If amendment No. 111 were accepted by the House it would be difficult to insert amendment No. 113 as it was originally intended. Therefore, with your permission, sir, I would ask leave to discuss 113 and 111 and to allow a decision to be taken on both principles at the same time, that is the general principle involved in the Government amendment and the additional principle involved in my amendment.

I presume we can take these two amendments and discuss them together, because as the Minister indicated when introducing his amendment, his contention was that it covered a number of other amendments and it also involved the principle of the section.

All the amendments to sub-section (3) of Section 28 so far as they involve the principle can be discussed on amendment No. 111.

A difficulty has arisen, as has been indicated by two Deputies. The Ministerial amendment is really a re-drafting and amalgamation of sub-sections (1) and (3) of Section 28. Technically, if amendment No. 111 is carried, amendments 112, 113 and 114 cannot be moved. They might possibly, on being re-drafted, be moved to the new sub-section, but such re-drafting cannot be done in the House. A further difficulty arises— Deputy Rice admits that amendment No. 112 has been met by the re-drafting of sub-section (1) and amendment No. 118 may possibly also have been met. If amendment No. 116 is carried, amendments Nos. 117 to 124 cannot be moved. If amendments 111 and 116 are carried such of the lapsed amendments Deputies desire to offer could be offered on Report Stage. The discussion may range over these amendments now or on amendment No. 111.

I presume I would be in order in moving amendment No. 115 when discussing sub-section (4) of Section 28?

It seems to be in order. The House should not assume that the Ceann Comhairle is an encylopoedia on land law.

Are we to take it then that the debate may be resumed on the lines I have suggested?

That is for the House to decide. Perhaps the House would agree to accept 111 and 116, to re-submit the amendments on Report.

Better re-submit on Report.

When it comes to those particular amendments the Deputy cannot move them?

He could discuss them now.

He cannot move them now?

The Chair does not like to accept on Report Stage amendments proper to the Committee Stage, but in the circumstances, I am prepared to allow lapsing amendments to be re-offered on Report.

In the circumstances, they cannot be moved now.

They can be discussed.

Yes, discussed, certainly.

In my opinion, when we arrived at Section 28 to which amendment 111 is moved, we arrived at the most vital section in this Land Bill. When the Acting-Minister for Lands and Fisheries was speaking on this Bill on the Second Reading Stage and when he came to discuss Section 28 he mentioned in passing that there had been deleted, or there would be deleted from the Land Act of 1923 sub-section (4) (b) of Section 24 of that Act. That sub-section reads as follows:—

"If within the prescribed time and in the prescribed manner the proprietor or tenant of the declared land so requires them to do, the Land Commission shall, as soon as practicable, provide the said proprietor or tenant with a new holding which, in the opinion of the Land Commission other than the judicial commissioner (subject to the right of appeal to the judicial commissioner, whose decision shall be final) shall be equally suitable for the said proprietor or tenant, and of not less value than the declared land...."

That sub-section is being materially re-enacted in the Bill of 1933 save in respect of the all-important words "shall be equally suitable for the said proprietor or tenant". The Minister in defending the deletion of these words said that they had constituted, in practice, practically impassable barriers, when the Land Commission sought compulsorily to acquire purchased land. The reason that the Minister gave for deleting those words is, in my opinion, the most forcible and the most unanswerable reason for retaining them. I discharge the Attorney-General from any deliberate intention of confusing the issue. But when he was speaking at an earlier stage of this Bill, he spoke of the security of tenure being buried fathoms deep for the tenant farmers of this country, and it subsequently transpired that he was referring to persons who were still paying judicial rents at the time of the passing of the 1923 Land Act.

My protest is made on behalf of the purchased tenants. The people who entered into agreements with the Land Commission to purchase their lands were put in possession of their holdings by the Land Commission on the secure understanding which just represented the final settlement of the land question in so far as they were concerned. The Bill at the present time before us means that every purchased tenant in this country whether he has five acres, ten acres, 50 acres, or 100 acres of land can be put out on the side of the road in the morning by the Land Commission acting under the direction of the Minister for Lands and Fisheries; and by way of compensation he can be offered land of equal market value, 100 miles or 200 miles away from where his father and grandfather and the people who went before him were born. I was recently discussing this question with a distinguished supporter of the Fianna Fáil Government and when I put it to him that this Bill meant that every farmer in this country was stripped of the security which the Land League gave and made a pawn on the Minister's chess board to be moved about wherever the Minister chose to put them, he denied it. He said it was incredible and he would not believe that the Fianna Fáil Government would introduce such legislation and that I had misread the Bill. That supporter of the Fianna Fáil Government is in the House to-day. That member of the Party will hear from his own Attorney-General confirmation of what I now say. I hope that member of the Party will have the courage to vote according to his convictions. Those of us who are not ashamed to confess ourselves agrarians, people who consider that the final settlement of the land question in this country is of paramount importance, know with what trepidation leaders of the Land League set that movement in motion. They realised how great was the danger of stirring up the people on the question of the land; how deep and violent the reactions of our people became when their homestead was at stake, and it required the utmost endeavour to keep that movement within prudent and permissible limits.

The Government to-day for the purpose, according to themselves, of speeding up the settlement of the congested districts question, propose to wipe out the security of tenure of the small holders of this country. I warn them that if they do that they are putting their hand to a work the end of which none of us in this House can fully see. If any attempt is made to shift about the tenant purchasers of this country, to clear people out of their homesteads in order to use those homesteads for the purpose of dividing them up amongst their neighbours, feuds and quarrels will be set on foot in every district where that is attempted which may have disastrous consequences for the country at large. Everybody knows of his own acquaintance now, 30 years after the land war finished, the loathing with which the land grabber is looked upon in the country still. It may be 40 or 50 years since he grabbed land, but he and his children are remembered as land grabbers and the children of land grabbers. Very often that understandable feeling has boiled over and terrible things have been done; and it has taken all the leaders of the people could do to restrain them, to hold them back within the bounds of justice, to prevent them from doing terrible injuries to the people who they believed unjustly grabbed their lands. The whole object of the land code was to make it impossible for anyone to grab his neighbour's land. Here this Bill provides that where a jealous neighbour wants to grab his neighbour's land he can set the machinery of the Land Commission in motion; he can get that land declared as being necessary for the relief of congestion; and it may be that that man will be swept clean out of the area. The only defence that individual who is about to be removed has is to ask is he going to get land of equal market value. If the Land Commission say "Yes, although you were born and bred in the County Donegal, we are going to give you land of equal value in County Kerry" he has no answer to their demand but to quit, to get out. He can be evicted.

So long as the words "shall be equally suitable for the said proprietor" were there that man had a right to go before the Land Commission and plead that the land offered to him at a great distance from the home where he was born was not equally suitable to him. He had the right to go beyond the Land Commission to the judicial commissioner and make that case. The Land Commission never attempted so long as that safeguard was there to disturb the ordinary small tenant purchaser. That safeguard is taken away; it is being taken away for a purpose. It was not taken away for the fun of taking it away.

When we came into the House here to discuss the Second Stage of this Bill we were told that the Minister had prepared a map for us. We were shown a rundale division. You would imagine that nobody in this House who was interested in the land or the land policy ever heard of rundale before. Armed with the weapons that this Bill is going to put into the Minister's hands, he is going down into an area of that character, full of the most dangerous possibilities, full of the most delicate situations, and he will have power to shift these people about like pawns on a chessboard. He is going down to settle the problem that puzzled the late Cardinal O'Donnell, that puzzled the late Father Denis O'Hara, and the original members of the C.D.B., and that took them years to solve each individual case they undertook. True, these men were puzzled by individual cases, but knowing their people, with patience, even with endless and marvellous patience, they worked away on this rundale division and they did their best by agreement and conciliation and persuasion to get the people to come together and facilitate the rearrangement of the land in order that the thing might be carried through. Everyone who knows the land question knows that any attempt at strong-arm methods in circumstances of that kind will be fraught with disaster, and the business of rearranging these rundale divisions will be a thousand times outweighed by the enmities and hatreds that will be stirred up in this area if an attempt is made to do it by any other means than patience, conciliation and persuasion.

I am reluctant to trespass too long on the time of the House, but, to my mind, this is a decision fraught with the gravest possible consequences for the country. We all know that in the days before any group of tenants had fixity of tenure their holdings deteriorated, their houses became wretched. They became so, not because the people wanted them to be so, but because the people had no faith in the endurance of their tenancy and their right to remain there. They had no heart to improve, they had no heart to make the repairs that they wanted to make because they were afraid that they were going to be taken from them. Now, if there are seven tenants in any townland, and it is decided that that townland is a congested townland, and it is proposed to take steps to relieve that congestion—now, lest the Fianna Fáil Party might think that I sought to be offensive, let us assume that there was a Centre Party Government in office and that they found seven tenants, five of whom were Centre Party, one Fianna Fáil and one Cumann na nGaedheal, and that the land of some one of these was needed for the relief of congestion. Let us suppose that a Centre Party Minister for Lands and Fisheries was in power. I am putting the question as strongly as I can against myself, but I simply want to try and drive home what the Fianna Fáil Party is up against and what they would say in the case that I am giving.

You have a wonderful imagination.

Many people think that such a case as I have mentioned is remote, especially people not born on the land, but Deputy Smith ought to know something about the land.

And so I do.

Let us suppose this land has to be acquired. Do Deputies realise the pressure that would be brought to bear upon the Minister for Lands and Fisheries if he had to exercise the powers contained in this Bill and to make a requisition of that land? Is it not as certain as anything can well be that in these circumstances it is the land of the Fianna Fáil farmers or the Cumann na nGaedheal farmers that would be acquired? Let them consider that. Let us suppose for a moment that the Minister resisted that temptation and that he said to the Land Commission: go and acquire whatever land you think is best without regard to individuals at all, and that it so happened that the Land Commission in the discharge of their duty took the Fianna Fáil farmers' land, will Deputy Smith convince me or will anyone convince me that that will not be denounced as a dishonest act?

We cannot help that.

Will it not be said that you are land grabbers, as it was said before, when the land grabbers came and took the land of the people and when the people knew what to do to pay them off? Let the Government consider well before they put their hands to such action, and before the Minister, or anybody else, tries to persuade these people that there is nothing in its operation except what is ordinary, unbiassed and impartial administration of the law. It simply means that the land is taken from these people and that they will have to shift their homes. Those who are thus evicted will look upon the people who took their land as land grabbers, and I tell the Government that if they let loose upon the land the feeling that the people are going to be faced once again with the land grabbers they will live to regret it. It took years to quieten down the feeling let loose in the country by the evictors and the land grabbers in the past. If that is let loose again, under the conditions that prevail, no Government will be able to put an end to it and God knows where it will lead our people. I am defending what I consider to be absolutely essential to the interests of our people on the land. They have a deep and profound conviction that the land is theirs and that no one should take it from them. If you pass this Bill in its present form every holder of land will be stripped of his tenure. Once the people are stripped of their security of tenure you are going to open up in the country again a terrible state of unrest. If that state of things is once opened up under the conditions now prevailing no Government, whether the present or any other, will be able to put an end to it and God only knows where it will end.

I am in agreement with Deputy Dillon upon one point and that is that this is the most vital section in the Land Bill. After that I disagree with him. I know of no country in the world in which security of tenure is absolute. The settler in Ontario 50 years ago had absolute security, until civilisation made its inroads and towns became established. The settler in Western Australia 100 years ago thought he had security, but there is no such thing as security of tenure in the absolute. The State has its rights. Under the operations of the Land Act of 1923, in the constituency I represent, and the adjoining constituency of the County Meath, we have seen that a section like this is absolutely necessary if land settlement is to come about. I heard Deputy Hogan painting a picture of the 250 acre farmer, and the great asset he was to the State and all the wonderful things he did. I am not disputing with Deputy Hogan the things that the 250 acre farmer does. I have nothing to say as to his progress. That is not the problem in the Midlands. The problem in the Midlands is not the non-resident grazier who has a farm in every second parish. These farms are subject to land purchase annuities. But we are unable, under the Land Act of 1923, to get even the smallest of these farms for the relief of congestion in the Midlands. And mind you there is congestion in parts of the Midlands, but in trying to relieve it we are baulked by the Land Act of 1923.

We were told in correspondence with the Land Commission during the time of the Cumann na nGaedheal Government, and even during the time of our own Government, that we were bound, not merely in the case of the possessor of 250 acres, but very often the possessor of 2,500 acres, from whom we wanted to take 50 or 60 acres for the relief of congestion, to find another holding equal in size and value to the one we took from him. The people can remain in the bogs and the marshes because of those tenant rights on which Deputy Dillon is so eloquent, which will leave in undisturbed possession of their farm men in my constituency giving the least possible labour. These men do not rear herds of suckers or breed Oxford-Downs, or Polled-Angus cattle. They go down to the West and buy the cheapest Galloway breeds of cattle, and finish them off in the quickest possible time and give the least possible amount of labour. I am ready to believe that the eloquence we have heard for the past week is not poured forth on behalf of the 250 acre resident farmer who works his land according to the rules of good husbandry, but on behalf of the grazier who is master of the Midlands and is fast turning it into a wilderness.

Deputy Dillon has referred to the land war. Deputy Dillon invaded my constituency lately, and it brought to my mind the time of the land war. It brought to my mind a person who suffered imprisonment and torture over that land war, the late J.P. Farrell. I was surprised to see on the platform from which Deputy Dillon spoke in his most eloquent way in defence of tenant right the very people whom J. P. Farrell fought in that land war.

Tell me your company !

The Deputy had better be damned careful or I will tell him some of his company. There will be ructions on the benches behind him if I do.

Referring again to my constituency, one has only to go down to certain places in it, such as the Hill of Uisneach, or stand at the crossroads of Killare, and see the absolute desert there. Deputy Dillon has quoted some people on these benches in reference to this Bill. Let me quote some one who does not support Fianna Fáil, but who still supports Cumann na nGaedheal. Under the 1923 Act a large area of land was divided up near the small town of Delvin. This man's comment recently was that there was one thing on which he agreed with Fianna Fáil, and that was the sub-division of land. Previous to the division of the land around Delvin, trade was stagnant in that town. With the settlement of the people on farms around it there came some trade into the town, and the man to whom I am referring agreed with us on our policy of land division because it stimulated trade.

I do not like to go into this question of land grabbing. If I did, I could tell a great many tales of modern land grabbers who obtained various farms up and down the Midlands by very questionable means. Deputy Hogan referred in his speech to the thrifty farmer, to the economic farmer, to the good business farmer, who minded his business and who was better than the other fellow. There was many a thrifty farmer in the country who got broken. He got broken because his sons, instead of being economically-minded and thrifty went out in the Sinn Féin movement. The time which might have been devoted to thoughts of economics was given in the service of their country. All the blame cannot be put at the door of the farmer for the position he may find himself in.

This, as I said at the beginning, is the most vital clause in this Bill. If we examine the origin of the land war we find that it originated when the national leaders of the time saw the clearance of Meath and Westmeath, the taking of the land from the people, and their banishment to the emigrant ship or into hovels in the bogs. They wanted to put an end to that. That spirit is there still. I think Deputy Dillon talked about patience and forbearance and all that kind of thing. Patience and forbearance was what we showed in County Meath. The sooner this clause is put into operation the better. The sooner the ordinary people get back to the land and get work on the land the better. We do not stand for excessive sub-division, which leads nowhere. We certainly do not stand for interference with the residential farmer, but we do want to put an end to the absent grazier, who is no benefit to the community. The sooner he is cleared out of the Midlands the better.

This proposed sub-section, as it now stands, may undoubtedly do something to meet some minor but still important objections to the clause, which as Deputy Kennedy rightly pointed out is a vital clause in the Bill, but in reality even the amendments that have been introduced by the Minister, in so far as he has met some of the amendments put down from other sides of the House, leave the main question untouched. I think the Minister himself realised that, because he thought it necessary to put up a defence of this particular section even as it now stands. Whatever the purposes of the Minister may be, and whatever the purposes of Deputy Kennedy and the various members who spoke from the Fianna Fáil Benches on this particular Bill, it means the end of the farmer's security on his land. It means the end of security not merely for the £2,000 farmer but for practically every other farmer as well—the big farmer, the middle-sized farmer and the small farmer. Anybody who has any knowledge of the country must know perfectly well that if this Bill is put into operation you are not going to stop at this Bill; you are not going to stop at the legal provisions of this Bill. In this clause we have gone back on the agrarian development of this country for the last 50 years. Some people may think that that is progress. I myself look at it as reaction of the worst type. Some countries—there is at least one—would regard such a thing as progress. I think we strike at the roots of security, prosperity, settlement and decent living by acknowledging the principle that is embodied in this particular sub-section which we are discussing. Remember, we must read this sub-section not merely in conjunction with the knowledge gained from living in this country for 50 years, as many of us have done, but in connection with a number of other things as well. We must read it in connection with the original sub-section (3), which is now embodied in the particular section proposed by the Minister; and particularly we must read it in connection with Section 31.

Furthermore, it would be complete and wilful blindness on the part of anybody who has the welfare of the country at heart to leave out of account the whole policy of the Fianna Fáil Party, as announced from many a platform. I suggest that it is useless for the Minister and the back benchers of the Fianna Fáil Party, Deputy Kennedy or anybody else, to say they are not going to stand for too much sub-division. It is not what they are going to stand for will matter in five years' time. It is whether the avalanche they are now starting, and deliberately starting, can be stopped.

I suggest that anybody who has a knowledge of this country, who has a knowledge of land hunger in this country, and of the danger of stimulating and stirring up that particular passion, will know perfectly well that it would be extremely difficult for any Government to stop the sub-division that is now being started and that is to go on. When we look at this particular section, look at it in its full reality and consider what it stands for—not the mere temporary provisions that are now in it—but look upon it as portion of a policy, as a portion of the development of farming in this country, I say there is nothing in the Bill or nothing in the speeches we have heard, even in the cooing voice of the Minister on the last occasion on which we discussed the Bill, to allay any of the anxiety which is felt throughout the country as the result of the introduction of this measure and this particular provision. On the contrary the more anybody thinks over what is involved in this particular section, the more he must be fearsome of the results for the future of this country. Take even what for the moment may seem a somewhat remote contingency. Remember we are living in revolutionary times. We have a revolutionary Government in power. It is quite true that the Minister says that this is evolution and not revolution but we might consider that there are people in this country who think that the proper form of evolution is revolution and in many ways they follow the Party and follow the particular country in which these doctrines have got acceptation. You have a revolutionary spirit and that is being fostered by the Government. That being so, it is quite clear that we must take all contingencies into account.

I suggest that a clause which in the year 1923 might be perfectly harmless, a clause that might not cause any anxiety normally, namely the phrase "in accordance with proper methods of husbandry," may become an instrument of tyranny and eviction in certain developments in this country. Remember we had supporters of the Government and, if I mistake not, even members of the Government, practically telling the people from public platforms that they will have to clear out of the land if they do not farm their lands in the way the Government want them, if they do not, for instance, fall in with the wheat policy of the Government. We have heard that policy propounded in this House. It has been pointed out to us by members of the Government that the salvation of the country depends on the success of that policy. What is more easy for the present Government in one of its more revolutionary moods or for any revolutionary Government that may succeed it, to take up the line that because of the way in which the ordinary farmer farms his land, for producing cattle, etc. he is using it if I may quote the words of the Minister, in an anti-social manner? Who is to decide whether or not he is using his land in an anti-social manner? In this case, is it not the Minister? Is that one of the excepted matters or not? Therefore I suggest that sub-section (3) as the Bill now stands is in itself an element of danger.

But, leaving that aside there is so much that threatens the future of the country in this section and Section 31, that it is difficult to understand how any Government, having the welfare of the country at heart, and having any kind of imagination whatever, any grip of the realities of the situation, could have ventured on a policy of that kind. What is the excuse? The relief of congestion. What is the reality? Section 31? The excuse is to relieve congestion, especially in the West, but in reality Section 31 carries you far beyond any such problem. It is to provide land for the landless. Remember it is no longer a comparatively small number you are dealing with. The congests may be large in number but taken as a whole they are a comparatively small number. In addition you are now dealing with all the landless. Where are you going to stop? Does anybody think that Deputy Kennedy is going to receive the people from the West with open arms? As he pointed out clearly, there is congestion in Westmeath and there are landless people in Westmeath. They will have to be provided for. I doubt if very many congests from the West will come from any other county under this particular Bill to the rich lands of Kildare, Meath and Westmeath. Yet you are offering to provide land for the congests and the landless. Does anybody suggest that there is enough land in this country to satisfy that particular demand? If so, if it is to be satisfied, where is the line to be drawn? At the £2,000 worth of a farm or at the 30 acres mentioned by the President? Can you stop there or will you reach the ideal of Deputy Moore, the Hungarian ideal, where they chopped up the land so much—he is my authority—and went so far that they had to amalgamate the lands again?

Surely, anybody who knows the history of this country must know perfectly well the dangers of stirring up the agitation which the Government is stirring up. First of all there is a bad principle involved and on that account we should oppose this section. Apart altogether from the question of opposition to the principle, there is the deliberate stirring up of an agitation that the Government cannot stop. It was only the other night that the Attorney-General said, in connection with the land agitation that started here during the Black-and-Tan period, that enough of a tribute or enough of appreciation had not been paid to the I.R.A. for the work they did in suppressing or in dealing with that agitation. That is precisely the fact. See what that means. It means that in the course of a year an agitation was got up and was spreading like a forest fire through the country. It took an army, at a time when there was a war on, to deal with that situation. That is the kind of agitation the Government is now attempting to stir up. The Minister states that he is for evolution and not revolution. These are his words, and he made great play with them. In reality, as I say, he is so steeped in revolution that he does not know it when he sees it. The Government here as elsewhere are so simple as to believe that you can start a revolution and then buy it off by cajolery and bribery. You can do nothing of the kind. The one excuse—it may be an excuse or, if not an excuse, an explanation at all events—for the Government, so far as this section is concerned, is that they do not know in this case, any more than they knew in other cases, the strength of the forces that they threaten to let loose on the country. If they did realise the strength of these forces, I think that even the present Government would hesitate. It took a very long struggle before the solution, or what is looked upon as a solution, of the land question in this country was reached. It goes back even before 1881. Various methods of solving that particular question were tried. They all failed until, finally, everybody was agreed that the only solution of that acute question that would bring about the welfare of the country and allow anything like prosperity in this country, especially amongst the farming classes and, therefore, amongst every class, was full proprietorship for the farmers. That is being got rid of now. The old insecurity is being brought back, disguise it how you may or limit it how you may, in this Bill. The insecurity is there. The land is no longer in the hands of the landlords, it is quite true; but so far as the owner of the land or the farmer is concerned, the insecurity is even greater for him now than it was under the landlords, because he will have to deal with a situation in which, as a result of the Government's propaganda and the Government's policy, class is being goaded against class and hatred is being stirred up. It is in a situation of that kind and at that very time that the Government proposes to start an avalanche of this kind in the shape of a new land agitation and, possibly, a new land war.

If we look at the benefits that are promised under this Bill I suggest that there are not many. I am leaving aside, as I said on the Second Reading, the question of the morality or the ethics of the transaction. I do not understand the morality or the ethics of the Government so far as public policy is concerned and, therefore, there is no need to discuss that question. Looking at it purely from the point of view of national prudence and national policy, however, and when you think how it concerns the number of congests in the West, and when you think of the great dangers that may be let loose upon the country, I do not see how any person— even a supporter of the Fianna Fáil Party—can gleefully vote for this particular section. I am satisfied that very few congests in the West are going to benefit from the division of the lands of Meath, Westmeath and Kildare. There will be plenty of local landless people in the neighbourhood of any estates to be split up in these counties who will put in their claims and they will see that their claims are heard. Everybody knows the difficulty of moving even one person from a neighbouring county, at the present moment, to a place where an estate is being split up. Everybody knows the danger of bringing in a stranger from outside. Nobody believes that congestion in the West will be helped by this Bill. You will still have the problem of congestion, and along with that you will have the whole security of land tenure torn up by the roots. Running through this Bill is the same contempt for the farmers and for the farming community that the Government have shown right along. They pretend to be greatly in favour of benefiting the farmer. They pretend to be stirred up by the fate of the farmer and the losses he is suffering. In reality, right through their policy, they have shown nothing but contempt for the farming community. The House should think very seriously before it determines to give a big fillip to an agitation that has been stirred up already on the platforms of the Fianna Fáil Party.

I do not think there is any section of this Bill more necessary than the one that is being discussed. I am speaking now as a farmer, and as one whose land, I suppose, if the arguments of Deputy Dillon or Deputy Professor O'Sullivan are in any way correct, will be divided up also.

What is to prevent it?

I want this House to tell me in what manner they intended dealing with the following estates, which have cost this country already very large sums of money in an endeavour by the Government to recover those estates for the relief of congestion. I quoted them here before during the Second Reading of this Bill. I quoted the case of the estate of Captain Moore, of Mooresfort, County Tipperary, where the Land Commission endeavoured to take 61 acres of land from Captain Moore and where Deputy Roddy, in reply to Deputy Hassett, who was a Cumann na nGaedheal T.D. for Tipperary at that time, stated that Captain Moore had 5,722 acres in addition to the 61 acres they were trying to take from him, and where Captain Moore beat the Irish Land Commission in the Appeal Court on the question of taking those 61 acres from him.

Read out the whole of it. Did you read the whole of it?

Yes, certainly I did.

Give the reference.

Vol. 29, col. 681 of the Official Debates. Deputy Hassett said:—

"Twelve months ago I put a question on this matter to the Minister for Fisheries. I asked:—

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

"This was the reply of the Parliamentary Secretary:—

‘Proceedings were instituted by the Land Commission under the Land Act, 1923, for the acquisition of 61a. 2r. 0p. of the lands of Kilross, on the estate of Captain Moore, County Tipperary. The owner objected to the acquisition of the lands on the grounds that for many years past they had been worked by him as part of his home farm and farming industry generally, including that of a stud farm, and that if he were deprived of the lands the result would be to materially interfere with the stud farm.

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

There is nothing in this Bill that helps you to secure these lands now.

Deputy Roddy tells us that there is nothing in this Bill that will enable us to take 61 acres of land from a man with 5,722 acres, despite all the wails from Deputy Hogan and the tears and the bleeding heart of Deputy Dillon in connection with this matter. That is what Deputy Roddy tells us from his experience, and no doubt Deputy Roddy has a lot of experience since he was for so many years in charge of that Department. If that is so, what are they trying to do? If Deputy Roddy's argument is correct, that under this section we are unable to take 61 acres from a gentleman with 5,700 acres, what is all the noise at the cross-roads about? Who is going to take the 10 or 20 acres off the small farmers of the country? What is it all about if Deputy Roddy's statement is correct, or what is the joke? I think the bottom must have gone out of that balloon. Then we had the other case that was mentioned by Deputy Hassett, the Braddell Estate in County Tipperary. There, there was a non-residential farm of 500 acres. The Land Commission endeavoured to take it over from this gentleman who had another estate in County Cork of 1,188 acres. The Land Commission endeavoured to take 500 acres from him and to leave him with 1,188 acres. What happened? This gentleman went to reside in a three-roomed cottage on the 500 acre holding. He appealed to the Tribunal, and again the Tribunal found that the 500 acre holding was a residential holding because this gentleman was living for a period in a three-roomed cottage on it, with the result that his objection before the Tribunal was upheld. He was left in possession of these 500 acres together with all the other land that he had. These are types of cases that we are getting from the opposite side. Every member of the House is familiar with the ridiculous statements that have been plastered all over the country during the last month or six weeks in connection with this Bill, and particularly with this section dealing with security of tenure. Does any Deputy on the opposite side seriously suggest that the Dillons and the Davitts who went out in the Land League days would say, if they were asked, that they were out fighting for gentlemen of the type of Captain Moore, to give him the right to hold 5,700 acres that he had evicted his tenantry out of. What would their reply be if they were asked that question? Does anybody seriously suggest that they were going to stand for security of tenure for that class of bucko? Were they going to stand for security of tenure for a gentleman with 1,188 acres in County Cork and with another 500 acres in County Tipperary? Were they going to stand for security of tenure for the Smith-Barrys or for Lord Barrymore, who at present owns a couple of thousand acres in my constituency? I hope to have a word to say in dividing up some of that, and there will be no bones about it either.

We have been accused by Deputy O'Sullivan that we are going to take land for the landless men. For whom did the Government of which he was a member take land? Was it for congests or for landless men? What about the district justice down in County Tipperary who got the 351 acres?

On a point of order.

Deputy Corry should know that that question does not arise now.

I have contradicted the Deputy's statement on several occasions in this House, and notwithstanding my contradiction Deputy Corry keeps repeating that lie.

The statement that I made——

Is not to be repeated.

I just want to say, in reply to Deputy Roddy's interruption, that the statement I was referring to was made in this House, in 1929, on the Land Commission Vote, by Deputy Hassett, a Cumann na nGaedheal T.D. for Tipperary. Deputy Roddy replied on that Vote——

And that ends the matter.

And Deputy Roddy did not deny the statement while Deputy Hassett was here. May I put this question to Deputy Roddy: Was it for the relief of congests or of landless men that the secretary of the Army Comrades' Association was given a farm?

It must have been under the Fianna Fáil Government that he got it.

No, he got it from the Government of which the Deputy was a member. That land was given at such a price that it would have been of no use to a congest or a landless man. It was divided up at such a price that nobody except a pensioner who, in addition to his pension, got a good slice of a bounty, could ever hope to hold it. When we hear all this talk about Fianna Fáil taking up a new line and of giving land to the landless, I think it would be very much to the point to know under what definition as landless men or as congests the people who were given land under the last Government—the particular cases to which I have just referred—would come? I could also quote other very glaring cases where land was taken over for the relief of congestion, cases in which men from whom land was taken were given large areas of land elsewhere, and where the land that was taken for the relief of congestion was given to single individuals, in some cases to the first cousins of those who left it. Surely there was no need to give any congest or landless man 200 acres. Undoubtedly, the gentlemen opposite were generous to their own. It is with the knowledge of what they did themselves in the past that they are judging the Government in office to-day. That is why we are accused of going to do this, that and the other; that we are going, as Deputy Dillon said, to divide up the land amongst friends of Fianna Fáil. It is because of what the people opposite did in the past in regard to the division of estates that we are hearing all this talk now.

Deputy O'Sullivan spoke of the anxiety there is throughout the country. In spite of all the efforts of the Deputies opposite to, so to speak, raise some steam in the country by means of platform orations and otherwise—the orations which they have been pouring out through the country on this Bill during the last month or six weeks—I have not seen one bit of anxiety in the country. There is no anxiety whatever in the country in regard to this Bill. Is the Government to be accused of leaving gentlemen in possession of 5,700 acres and taking, say, 50 or 60 acres from men like Deputy Kent——

Try it.

Or myself. Is there anybody going to insinuate that we are going to do that? And yet that is the insinuation that is being made.

What section of the Bill prevents it?

Commonsense.

What section of previous Land Bills prevented it? Deputy O'Sullivan, as I pointed out a moment ago, based his argument on this: that landless men were going to get land under this Bill, but may I ask what particular section of previous Land Bills prevented a landless man from getting land? How was that particular section evaded in the case I mentioned? I like to give definite cases when I make such statements. We found that the division of land had proved an absolute failure, and that is the reason for Section 28.

How would it be improved?

If the Deputy examines the Bill he will see. If we do not improve it there is no need for fear. Deputy Roddy told us that we could not take 61 acres from a gentleman with 5,700 acres. What is all the noise about so? What is all the fear about? We stated that we were not going to stop at this Bill. If the division of land proves a success under this Bill I hope we will go further. If the Bill proves to be a failure I hope we will not stop in office for ten years, looking at the failure—as the people opposite did—without making an attempt to remedy the situation. I spent a short period in Deputy Kennedy's constituency during a by-election a couple of years ago. We wiped out Cumann na nGaedheal and the Farmers' Party combined there. I know that we are welcome back there any time. What did I see there? I saw farms of 1,000 acres. I walked them while engaged in canvassing. I saw herdsmen on these farms.

Moore Park.

I saw a man and a dog on each of these farms.

There is no farmer in Westmeath with 1,000 acres.

Unfortunately, I cannot remember the name of the place. That is what I saw in other districts in the same constituency, and in other constituencies nearer home. We are told that we should not prevent a man using land any way he likes. I know people in my constituency with three or four farms, containing 250 acres, 350 acres and 100 acres, on which no employment is given. When these farms were in the hands of their former owners, from 12 to 15 men were employed. That land is practically derelict.

We were not responsible, seeing that the land has been derelict since 1929-30.

Deal with what has made it derelict?

The owners bought farms after the war, or during the war, when the managers of the bank stood beside them and said: "You can give another £1,000 for this farm and I will stand by you." When the fall in prices came, from 1924 to 1931, these people went down, because the money that they could make out of the land would not pay the interest on the purchase price.

Why were they not lifted up then?

Cumann na nGaedheal was in office and let them down—left them in the mud. Undoubtedly the people who own these farms would be very glad to get rid of them. I do not think there would be any great pressure needed, or that there would be any weeping or wailing, of which Deputy Dillon told us, to get out. They would be very glad to get out on any fair terms. I am sorry Deputy Dillon was not here when Deputy Roddy stated that there is nothing in this Bill to enable us to take 61 acres off a man who has 5,700 acres. If Deputy Roddy can prove that statement, what is all the noise about?

I want to ask the Minister whether there is any prospect of his making a concession in this section, on the lines of amendment 115, in the name of Deputy Roddy, and a further concession on the lines of amendment 119, in my name, which seeks to take care of the case where a man is acquiring land with the intention of making it a residential holding for one of his children. Deputy Roddy's amendment seeks to restore a very legitimate safeguard, and it appears to me, if the Minister could see his way to make concessions on the lines of these two amendments, it would mitigate the objections to the section as a whole, very considerably. I will not press that further. I will let the Minister reflect on it. I want to say a few words with reference to the speech that we heard from Deputy Corry. It is really too bad that the Attorney-General is again absent. Unfortunately he is always absent when Deputy Corry is speaking, because it would be so interesting to get him to try to reconcile Deputy Corry's views on the Land Commission in this Bill with his own. There may be two views as to the extent to which this Bill shakes security of tenure, or will shakes it in practice. One thing is certain, that if the Fianna Fáil contention is correct, that it is not going to shake it in practice, it is very undesirable that the people of the country, as a whole, should think that it will shake it. If this Bill passes into law it will become the duty of all of us to reassure the people, as far as possible, as to the spirit in which the Bill is going to be administered, and as to the maintenance of security of tenure, especially for small people. We all know that it would be absolutely disastrous for agriculture if the people got the idea into their heads that they are insecure. No one wants them to get that idea into their heads, unless that idea legitimately should be in their heads. The Minister has made some important concessions already on this Bill, and has made some very reassuring declarations, as to the spirit in which this Bill is going to be administered, if it becomes an Act. He was particularly emphatic about noninterference from the political side with the work of the Land Commission. Yet, what are we to feel when we listen to Deputy Corry stating that he is looking forward in the near future to the dividing up of estates in his own constituency?

I would like to reassure Deputy MacDermot that, when I said I was looking forward to the dividing up of estates, my sole reason was that I think it will be for the benefit of the people, and will largely relieve unemployment. If there are 2,000 acres of land on which there is only a man and a dog, I will ask that that land be taken, and that people be put on it who will work it.

I am not desirous of casting any reflection on Deputy Corry's motives. I dare say he would select estates for division in the spirit of the purest patriotism, as he conceives it; but if the Bill is going to be administered by Deputy Corry, it is going to be administered quite differently from the manner in which the Minister and the Government have told us it is going to be administered. The feeling of insecurity about this Bill that has been created in the country has been mainly due to indiscreet declarations by persons on the Government Benches. There have been, first of all, declarations by some Ministers. Even in the course of debates in the House, if a Minister becomes discreet, a good many of the supporters of the Government remain indiscreet. If this Bill is not going to do far greater damage than by its terms it actually should do, there ought to be a different attitude and a more discreet tone adopted by the supporters of Fianna Fáil.

I certainly cannot follow the last speaker. The spirit in which this measure will be administered will depend entirely on the outlook of the Ministry of the day, and an assurance from the Minister in charge of it now as to how it is going to be administered is not worth the making, because Governments and Ministries will come and go, but this will remain an Act until it is repealed and any guarantee now will have little effect on the manner in which this government's successor will administer it or, for that matter, any other Act of the Oireachtas.

I quite agree with what Deputy Belton has said. It is not inconsistent with my point, which is merely this, that if the Bill is once an Act and is placed on the Statute Book we must do all we can to have it well administered. We will do everything we can now to prevent interference with security; but once this is an Act it becomes our duty to do all we can to have it well administered and to reassure the minds of the people.

It is time enough to consider how we will slide down the slippery slopes when this becomes an Act. There are principles involved in this Bill which we must oppose. We should not contemplate the position in which we will find ourselves when the proposals on this Bill will be embodied in an Act. This Bill could not be framed or conceived by any body of men except men imbued with a communistic outlook. This is the purest of communism, undiluted communism. It is dishonest. I will take the Minister up on his own statements. This section is particularly dishonest. The Minister is going to smash the principle for which the whole Plan of Campaign was initiated. He is going to destroy peasant proprietorship. It is immaterial whether he fixes the limit at £2,000 or £20,000. He is breaking the principle. If, in his opinion, it is right to dispossess the owner of real estate of anything he holds over £2,000 in value, he is working upon a very bad principle. He can say next year: "We will take land from a man if he has anything worth over £1,500." The following year he can bring the limit down to £1,000 and he can follow on till he finally deals with one or two acres that might be worth £100. There is no end to this if that principle is adopted.

The Minister recently expressed the hope that another section of the Bill would be discussed in a different atmosphere. He wondered if anybody thought the Ministry was going to interfere with the farm that was worked to the best national advantage. We hear a lot of those platitudes about working a farm to the best national advantage, but they are not used by any man doing practical work on his farm. What is meant by working a farm to the best national advantage? By their actions we shall judge them. I consider that this gesture on the part of the Government is dishonest. Take the case of any business. If it does not pay a dividend, the owner has an uneasy feeling about it. He wonders if it is properly managed. If that business, in addition to paying no dividend, does not pay its way, has not the owner 100 per cent. doubt about its soundness and management? Who are the farmers whom the Minister is satisfying at the expense of the farmers who are running their farms well? The Minister is forgiving those who do not pay their way and putting the expense on the men who do pay their way. That is embodied in Section 12, which deals with people who do not pay their annuities.

The Deputy must remember that we are dealing with Section 28.

When dealing with this section the Minister said that anybody working his farm properly and to the best national advantage would not be interfered with. I want to show from the Minister's own words that he is subsidising the people who are not working their lands well. I wonder if he means what he says in regard to this section—that any man working his land well will not be interfered with, regardless of the size of the farm? I notice that he took very good care that neither he nor the Attorney-General committed himself to putting down an amendment to that effect.

If he were honest about it, on the face of it would he not admit that it is the business that is not paying its way that is unsound? Is it not unprofitably worked? Surely he cannot say that the business that is not paying its way is worked to the best possible advantage. Yet out of the local exchequer the Government subsidises that. In a speech which the Minister made a week or two ago he made a special plea for these people here. Are we to put those people, he asked, on the side of the road in order to enforce those arrears? No, but he is going to put people on the side of the road who are working their lands well. He is going to subsidise those people who, on the evidence before the Minister, are not working their lands well. He is going to subsidise them, not by means of the Central Fund but he is going to subsidise them from the ratepayers' pockets. He is going to subsidise them with the money from the men who are paying their way and working their land well. On that point, what does the Minister mean by working the land well? We hear a lot of talk on the Government Benches about hundreds of acres being run by a man and dog. Will any Minister get up—assuming that the farms are worked by a man and dog—and say that the man who is running his farm with a man and dog is doing it for the love of that kind of farming? Or is he doing it because that is the only farming that will pay him?

If you are going to take the farmers to task for the way they run their farms address yourself, first, to the problem of prices. If that farm were run in another way not only would it not pay him, but it may not be run to the best national advantage. It is all right for a man going along the road who sees a 50 acre field to say: "here is a 50 acre field, what a pity that field is not tilled, what a lot of people would be employed on that field." But that man never tilled 50 acres himself, and he had not to worry on a Saturday night to know where he was to get the wages for those men. It is extraordinary on a debate like this on land policy that we have not the presence here of the Minister who, above all others, should be here, the Minister for Agriculture. If a farm is grazed it is because the economic policy in this country did not permit of any other method of farming to make that farm pay.

I am sorry that the Minister in charge of the Bill went away and that we are only left with the legal adviser of the Government here. I have every respect for the Attorney-General both in an offensive and defensive capacity, but, after all, I think the House should have the Minister here whose job it is to look after land or agriculture or both. I am not saying perhaps that the Attorney-General does not know as much as any of them about land. I think he does. However, I think we can get on as well without the Minister.

There is one matter which I would like to put before the House, and I put it up as a direct challenge, if you like, to any of the Government spokesmen to stand up here and say that the agricultural policy in the last 80 or 90 years took any other direction than the natural economic direction dictated by the prices trend in agricultural produce that obtained over that period. In support of that challenge I have here actual data from 1840 down to 1925 to prove my statement. At the figure of 100 in the year 1840, the prices would be in 1925 as follows:— wheat 117, oats 139, barley 155, hay 117, potatoes 177, flax 207, butter 147, pork 144, wool 133, eggs 138, beef 138, mutton 145, store cattle one to two-year old 143, and store cattle two to three years, 200. All these figures would compare with 100 in 1840. That shows that store cattle were out on their own. I am sorry I gave the wrong figures there. I gave the figures, not for 1925, but for 1868. Now, the Attorney-General can lie back and laugh and explain those figures when I am done. He can laugh away after I am done.

If this Bill is treated seriously by the Government I want them to remember the prices of 1925. Now the price of wheat in 1925 as against the figure 100 in 1840 was 118; oats 172, barley 140; hay 189; potatoes 334, flax 237, butter 189, pork 260, wool 114, eggs 497, beef 183, mutton 269, store cattle one and two years old 443; and cattle two years old and upward 403. But we get Ministers here standing up and blaming the farmers for utilising their land to produce a certain product that as compared with 1840 shows a price of 443 as against 100. Has not the farmer shown business wisdom by pursuing the line of activity that pays him best? Will any Deputy on the opposite side get up and controvert that? Will any Deputy opposite get up and show 20 per cent. of the land that I can show under tillage? I am not arguing from the graziers' point of view. Will any Deputy opposite get up and show 20 per cent. of the agricultural wages that I can show or even that he is paying at a rate of 60 per cent. of the wages that I pay? I am not arguing from the graziers' point of view but from the commonsense point of view. The figures I have read to the House are figures compiled from the Census returns, probably by the ablest man who was ever in the Civil Service. We are told that the land is not worked to the best national advantage. Whose is the fault if a proper agricultural policy has not been formulated for working the land to the best national advantage? If you want the land to be tilled produce a policy that will make tillage more profitable than live stock grazing. When you do that you are on the right road. Until you do that you are only groping in the dark. If you want to get the land of the country worked in such a way that will pay the farmers you have to produce that policy first. If you will not what do you propose doing? What will the sub-division of large farms mean? If you sub-divide 5,000 acres into 100 small holdings what will it mean? It will mean that you will have so many small ranches instead of one big ranch. It cannot mean anything else, if the present agricultural trend of prices is allowed to operate. We will be told by men who know nothing about agriculture, men who never earned a week's livelihood by agriculture, "we want a different agricultural policy." Where is the Minister for Agriculture showing us a different agricultural policy here? He is conspicuous by his absence.

If you allow this trend of prices to operate the division of the land will mean that instead of one man running, say, 5,000 acres you will have 100 little grazing ranches instead of one grazing ranch. When you put 40 per cent. on their produce the whole hundred will be running to the workhouse. We have the ordinary methods of husbandry mentioned in this. I hold that while that system obtains the ordinary methods of husbandry are being pursued by these farmers.

The Minister said the Government would not interfere with farms of whatever size that were run according to the ordinary methods of husbandry. He has not made any attempt to get out of the entanglements he has worked himself into. I hope he will make an attempt. It is extraordinary to find people coming in here and saying that we must curtail agricultural activities. They want to undo the work of the Creator; they want to bring all the people down to one common level. In support of that the Minister for Agriculture said that two-thirds of the land was owned by one-third of the people, and that we should not allow that to go on. Will the Minister for Agriculture deny that two-thirds, and more than two-thirds, of the income from the medical profession in Dublin goes to less than two-thirds of the medical practitioners in Dublin? Will the Attorney-General deny that two-thirds of the income from the legal profession goes to less than one-third of the legal practitioners in Dublin? To use the words of Deputy Corry, why not distribute the loot? Does the Minister for Agriculture mean that proper agriculture is not a profession? It is the noblest profession in the world. We who make our livelihood at it are not one bit ashamed of it. We hold our heads as agriculturists higher than any lawyer or doctor can hold his head. We produce, while they live on our backs. We are carrying the lot of them—even on both sides of the House; but the professional gentlemen on our side of the House have not committed that blunder. Take the business of Dublin City. Is not two-thirds of the business of Dublin carried on by less than one-third of the shops in Dublin? Is it not the same in the industrial world? Why are not these singled out for distribution amongst the workless? Why is not Guinness' divided up into fragments and the unemployed given a bit each? Why is not Jacobs' divided up? Why is not the Shannon scheme divided up, and why do not the landless people of Clare and Limerick take up industry instead of looking for a piece of their neighbour's land? Why does not Deputy Corry become eloquent about the millions involved in the Shannon scheme? Why is not that given over to the landless men instead of the paltry 5,000 acres he wastes his time talking about? What is wrong with the Government is that they do not understand agriculture. Not one of them understands the first thing about it. Agriculture is a progressive science. Any farmer who is not able to take a sample of his soil and go through the simple process of analysing it to discover what fertilisers it is deficient in will be left behind in the race in this year of 1933 if he goes in for tillage. That is all Greek to the Front Bench opposite. There is no reason why there should not be a department which, on receipt of a postcard or a telephone message or a wire from a farmer, would send a person to look at the field he is going to crop, take a sample of it and prescribe for it just as the doctor would prescribe for a patient, so that the farmer could take the prescription to his manure merchant and be provided with the fertilisers that he should put into that field.

Surely the Deputy does not imagine that an analysis of the soil or the price of wheat in 1845 has any relevancy to the amendment or the section before the House.

The Minister said that the section was necessary and that it would apply only to those people who did not work their land according to the ordinary methods of husbandry. My reference, in passing, to soil analysis and so forth was to bring it home to the Minister that he is sublimely ignorant of what working the land according to the ordinary methods of husbandry means and, therefore, he cannot contemplate working the land according to the ordinary methods of husbandry under this Bill. I suppose if he saw me analysing a portion of my soil on the head of a shovel he would say that that fellow should be committed to Grangegorman. I submit to the Minister for his serious consideration, if he is honestly pursuing the course of putting more men on the land, that the division of land will not put more men on it. In his opening speech he said that had been the fixed policy of Fianna Fáil since its inception. We know that Fianna Fáil always adapts its policy to the circumstances of the moment. The Minister said that since its inception the fixed policy of Fianna Fáil was to put the maximum number of people on the soil. I suggest to the Minister that it is not his Department that is going to put the most people on the soil. It is the Department of the Minister for Agriculture. It is the agricultural policy that will put more people on the soil and not the land policy. We were told about the derelict farms which Deputy Corry said he saw around the country and the high prices that had been paid for them. The Deputy also claimed in various speeches and so did the Minister, that the principle embodied in this section was embodied in the Act of 1923. The Minister knows well that that is not so. Deputy Corry referred to the derelict farms that should be divided up. Again I would remind the Minister that in the case of these farms on which he proposes to remit the arrears if these arrears had been paid the farms would not be derelict. If they both want to be a little insistent and consistent in these matters I would suggest that the Minister and Deputy Corry should get together, and come to a common denominator on the point where Deputy Corry wants to show how these farms became derelict and to blame the previous Administration. He also taunted the Front Opposition Bench here about the Act of 1923 and said that the landlords were allowed to get away with the loot under that Act. That comes well from a Party which never raised its voice on any point against the Land Act of 1923 until now. I opposed the Act of 1923 when it was a Bill going through this House, in every county in the Free State, and I never met one single member of the Fianna Fáil Party to say a word for or against the Act of 1923 at that time. If they had any sense of decency, after taking 10 years to find out what was wrong with it, they would let the fault pass by now.

I know the Government Party will not change their mind with regard to this section, but I would ask the Labour Party to consider what they are doing. If they are genuinely interested in having more men on the soil, I put it to them that it is not by an alteration in land policy that that will be done, but rather by an intelligent formation of an agricultural policy. Perhaps if the owner of that 5,000 acres mentioned worked his land in a husbandlike manner, and paid good wages, he would employ more human beings than if the whole 5,000 acres were split up into 50 little farms. Again I would remind the Labour Party that, as they know, hardly any two men are of the same capacity. A man who takes up farming as a profession should be allowed to develop his own profession and business. Why say to a farmer: "Thus far you shall go and no further"? Why not say to the lawyer: "Ten guineas per day and no more"? Deputies opposite agree with that, but still they are supporting the limitation of the farmers' profession. The man who would put agriculture right in this country would be worth £10,000,000. I am not a person to set a limit as to what a man is worth. The job is the thing that counts; and the man that would put commonsense into the Fianna Fáil Party would be worth the whole nation. Why fix a limit in agriculture? How can there be any progress in agriculture if we are all to be brought down to a common level? You will find men who could live well on 30 or 40 acres of land and who would starve upon 100 acres of land; and you would get men who would do well upon 100 acres of land and who would starve on 20 or 30 acres of land. If a man through his own exertions is able to go freely into the market and buy 500 acres of land, and can work it in conformity with good husbandry, why should he not be allowed to do so? Is it not the same principle as the man who takes a little shop, starts huckstering, gets into business, then finds he has not capacity enough for his business in that particular little shop and goes out and purchases better? Are you to say to him, you cannot increase your business?

That is not primary wealth.

Primary wealth! You will get very little primary wealth out of the land; you will get very little out of it except by the sweat of your brow. Wealth does not come down from Heaven like manna to the Israelites. There are not many of them here now. I am surprised that the Deputy from Clare suggests that you could get primary wealth down in Clare—that you could pick it up in the fields and on the mountains and in the bogs in Clare. There would be a great rush to Clare, if that were true. But I am afraid the rush is rather from Clare than to Clare. If you can pick up wealth in Clare, why piffle about dividing up a few farms? You will get no wealth without work, and the Deputy knows there is no wealth in 10/- a ton for Clare turf. Why circumscribe the small farmer any more than the shopkeeper?

If, for instance, I decided to start a sausage factory, and instead of having to pay trade union wages on my farm, and on all my equipment on the land, and running the risk of being boycotted if I bought an old cart or a set of harness from a shop that did not pay trade union rates of wages, paid 5/- to a girl for working a machine and registered that as an industry, then I could swell out my chest as a captain of industry, and there would be no limit to the extent which we could develop ourselves on 5/- a week to employees.

Snigging turnips!

But we must stop and limit our undertaking in what is called the primary industry. The Minister should put this matter properly before the House; he should deal with it in a broader manner and adduce evidence here beyond merely giving voice to the expression that small farmers and crofters are the best for this country. He has insinuated that. I challenge him to prove it. They are not the best things for the country. If the land of this country is divided up into small holdings and a blight comes on any crop, how are you going to rescue it? How are you going to have scientific agriculture? What use is going to be made of the Faculty of Agriculture? Is it not to be an unnecessary luxury? If the Minister wants to plant the most men on the land, why does he not suggest that every reaper and binder in the country should be scrapped, and the scrap iron sold to one of the Deputies behind him? Why not have all the mowing machines scrapped? Why not have all the potato-sprayers scrapped? Why not go back to the old mowing hook— the scythe?

On this section the Deputy cannot go into the scrapping of machinery as a method of employing men.

Of course I accept your ruling, a Chinn Comhairle, but we have been told that the fixed policy of Fianna Fáil is to plant the largest possible number of men on the land.

Under Section 28?

Under Section 28 no land will be interfered with if it is worked according to the proper methods of husbandry. I am suggesting to the Minister that—if his sublime policy of putting the most people on the land is to be carried out to the fullest —this is the way to carry it out. Deputy Hogan suggested that agriculture was a primary industry. I want the Minister to go back to primitive methods, and to make it a primary industry. That is how you will get the most people on the land. In this section he is destroying security of tenure. He is destroying something which people in this country value: something that a money value cannot be put on. Deputy MacDermot suggested that there should be some sugar coating on the pill. I suggest that there should not; that the real pill should be put before the country. If they are prepared to swallow it without any sugar coating then they stand behind the Government. The Government should be fair, and not put any sugar coating on it. They should say: "By this Bill we mean to destroy fixity of tenure. We take to ourselves the right to acquire the land." We were not told what size farm is referred to. Does the Minister not see what he has walked into now? No farm in the country would average more than £2,000 to-day. What man would give more than £2,000 for it?

Deputy Gorey,—£2,500.

Deputy Gorey is not in the House, and I think the Deputy opposite would not have much to say if Deputy Gorey were here. This Bill was not before the House when the farm in question was bought. Saying that there is no security in a farm over £2,000 in value automatically reduces all farms in the country to £2,000. No man is going to pay more. There is no comparison between the size of farms. The proposal is to acquire land and give economic holdings. The economic holding has not been defined for us. I suggest that the Minister should study the difficulty that the late Sir Antony Macdonnell found in conceiving the idea of an economic holding. I know places where an acre of land would be an economic holding and I know places where 100 acres would not be an economic holding. I know farms of four acres in County Dublin which gave a bigger return this year than farms of 500 acres. A lot depends on the suitability of the land. A lot depends on the technical knowledge of the worker, and a lot depends upon the track of trade. What have the Minister and his colleagues been doing? They have been destroying the track of trade in this country for the last year and a half. Now they propose to take the land which they say is not worked to the best national advantage according to the ordinary methods of husbandry, and give it to people who will work it economically and make economic holdings. The Minister has never defined what an economic holding is. With the market destroyed I think it would be impossible for him to define it, but he muddles on.

The whole idea of this Bill, and this section in particular—because all the rest are only padding; this is the kernel of the Bill—is to confiscate the land. They hope to carry the mob. They say: "We are going only for the big fellow" and they hope to carry the mob to get the big fellow by the throat. When they have got the principle the rest will be easy. It is pure Communism. They have not at all attempted to solve the problem by a scientific agricultural policy. They want to take the land off somebody who has it, and give it to congests and landless men. If a man with four or five acres is given a slice off this land, is he to work the increased holding with the implements with which he worked the four or five acres, or is he to get more machinery? If he worked the four or five acres with primitive methods and he works 30 or 40 acres with suitable machinery he will have employed as many men on the four or five acres as he will employ on the 30 or 40 acres. The whole aim is to get hold of the land, to destroy peasant proprietorship, to pull all the farmers down to a common level—to reduce them to the position they were in a hundred years ago when they were referred to as peasants. Any farmer to-day does not take it as a compliment to be referred to as a peasant. Not by any means. The professional class can make up their minds that if they want to reduce the farmers to the level of peasants their action will not find favour with the farmers. Let us have the communistic proposal stripped of all its padding. Let it be shown as it really is. If the principle is conceded, then those amendments count for nothing. If the principle of £2,000 value is given to the Government it can be brought down as low as the whim of any Minister of the day desires. It will destroy progressive farming. The Minister, if he made any study of progressive farming in other countries, should know that progress in agriculture—outside of market gardening and horticulture—both as regards cultivated crops and live stock, has been made by big farmers on big farms. If we had a proper agricultural policy, with big farms of 300, 400 or even 5,000 acres, run as ordinary agricultural farms, it would be better than any agricultural college which this or any other Government could set up in the country. But no such educative power can ever be established if we reduce the size of the farms to the £2,000 standard. It is going to be a serious loss to agriculture. We know the old idea that obtained in this country—the fool of the family given the farm. All the other members of the family were sent into the professions, into the Civil Service, into the police force or anywhere you like, but the "mug" got the farm. That is the idea the Minister has.

A Deputy

Is that how the Deputy got his?

I may have got a farm, but the Deputy got nothing, and even though I am to be classed in that category I am certainly a degree above the Deputy who interrupted. Why not leave the profession of agriculture open to the best brains of the country? Why not make it possible to have a career in agriculture in this country? If you are not going to allow a man to get beyond practically the spade and shovel stage, nobody is going to stick in agriculture in this country. Give it a chance so that brains may be applied to it. There is no calling in this country which requires more brains than agriculture, but it is going to be destroyed now if this is passed. This Bill has been introduced without an assurance being put before the House that the fundamentals of the agricultural industry will not be injured if these proposals are put over. The Minister has not applied himself at all to that. He has only appealed to the selfish passions of the mob, dishonest passions with very little regard for the Ten Commandments: "This man has land; why should he have so much land; why should you not have more?" You might as well say that because one man has a bad suit of clothes, and another has three or four suits, you should take some suits from the man who has three or four. The question is, does a man own the land legally, did he get it honestly and legally? If he did not get it honestly, take it off him, not because he has too much land, but because he did not come by it honestly. If he has it honestly, and if he is not working it to the best national advantage, that is the fault of the Minister, who has not shown brains enough to devise a policy that would enable that man to work the land to the best national advantage. The whole thing is in the hands of the Government, but this suggests the rule of the gun. They do not seem to be as fond of guns as they were. They are apparently getting afraid of them. Though the gun is in this, figuratively, no knowledge is shown of the sentimental value attached to their land by farmers, nor have the Ministry betrayed any knowledge whatever of how agriculture has advanced in other countries or the necessity for having farms of varying sizes in this country so as to suit the varying capacities of the people of the country. If you reduce the size of the farms down to a common level, and that a low level, you must look forward to the land of this country being farmed on a common level by the lowest level of intelligence amongst the people of the country.

Though he is always a bit of a bore, Deputy Belton is the most convenient speaker the Government has in this House, because he invariably succeeds in effectively smashing every argument he makes by a succeeding argument. He never puts forward an argument that he does not knock into a cocked hat, as the phrase has it, by a succeeding argument.

You can put it into a top hat now.

He is the best and the most convenient speaker the Government has though he sits on the Opposition Benches. Deputy Belton's idea of farming is rather unique though I must say it is very up-to-date. His methods of farming—he called it "proper methods of husbandry"—are rather advanced. He said that if we had a proper method in this country, if a farmer decided to choose a field for tillage and wanted to know what he could grow to the best advantage in it, he should be in the position that all he would have to do would be to telephone to the Department or send a post-card to it and have an inspector within a few hours, to examine the clay, tell him what crop he should grow and issue a certificate to him to go to the manure supply department to get a supply of the particular kind of manure that the Department had decided was suitable for that soil. He was interrupted at that point and I thought it was rather unfortunate because if he had been allowed to carry on and to develop his interesting views, probably we should have heard from him that the next thing the farmer ought to be able to do would be to press a button to get his hens to lay eggs. He has a very advanced idea of agriculture.

May I inform the Deputy——

If the Department of Agriculture are so advanced in this country that they are to tell the farmer everything he must do, I am not surprised at Deputy Belton's idea of the farmers as expressed a few moments afterwards when he said that the man who got the farm was the "mug." If Deputy Belton has that impression of the farmers, he is quite right in the contention that the Department must do everything for him——

On a point of correction I did not suggest that anybody should tell the farmer what he should grow but I did say that the farmer ought to be able to get advice as to the fertilisers he should use on a particular soil, after it had been analysed.

The Deputy made both statements. He made the statement I quoted and he also made the other statement. Practically every time he gets up to speak he uses two sets of arguments——

On a point of order, the Deputy said that I made a certain statement. I got up to say I did not make that statement and I think the Deputy ought to accept my word.

He is merely construing a statement.

He made the statement that I said that a farmer should get advice from a certain Department as to the produce he should grow. I said that I did not make such a statement but that I did make the statement that a farmer should be able to get advice as to the fertilisers required for his soil, that he should be able to have it analysed and that the Department should advise him as to the mixture of manure he should get for that. Might I inform the Deputy that I got that done?

I regret that in an hour's speech Deputy Belton did not make himself clear to anybody in the House. I regret that, as one who has such an experience of farming, he has still to be told the kind of fertiliser that suits a particular soil. I know farmers who know a good deal more than most instructors of agriculture about their farms and about the type of fertilisers that suits them. They are able to make their little farms pay if they are anything like economic farms at all. They are not the type about whom Deputy Belton talked, and they are not "mugs" either. I resent that remark. I spent a good part of my life on a farm, and I know these farmers are not "mugs." Deputy Belton can only be speaking of the Cumann na nGaedheal type of farmer he knows. It should not be allowed to pass in this House that up to the present the men who have got the farms in this country were the "mugs" of their respective families.

On a point of order, I submit that I made no such statement. I said that there was an impression abroad that only the "mug" of the family got the farm. I did not say that it was the "mug" of the family who got the farm. It is quite evident from some of the interjections that there are more "mugs" than the farmers, anyhow.

If Deputy Belton's statement means anything, it must mean that the Government know what they are doing, and that there is a certain type of farmers in this country, who have large farms, who are "mugs," and that it is time to have these farms run in the interests of the country. Deputy Belton wants to have the maximum number of people on the land, he says, and he went back to the last century.

I went back to 1925.

As I said, Deputy Belton went back to the last century. I am not surprised at that, because when he was asked to state facts on a former debate he refused to come down to details. He is a century away from the details on this amendment, and we are satisfied to leave him a century away, because it would be a catastrophe altogether if he came up to date. He and other Deputies opposite talked about fixity of tenure. Deputy Belton boasts of being the only man in this House who knows anything about agriculture and, in fact, of being the only well-informed man in this State where agriculture is concerned. If his speech means anything, it means that the man with 2,000, 5,000 or 10,000 acres, as the case may be, is the only farmer who is able to run a farm economically in this State. If his speech means anything it means that he does not want small farms. He does not want a large farm of 5,000 or 10,000 acres to be divided up into so many farms of, say, 50 acres each. He is against that because, he said, it will mean that there will be a certain number of small graziers instead of one big grazier. If that is the Cumann na nGaedheal idea, I am not surprised that they are fighting shy of this Bill, because I do admit that it aims at the direct opposite. I think it is the first time that anybody, who claims to represent the farming interests in this State or to be a member of a Party with the interests of the farmers at heart, ever stated openly and above-board that the large farm of 2,000, 5,000 or 10,000 acres was the only farm that would be economical and that that was the type of farm that should be favoured by the Government. If that statement is made definitely here, I should like to know if the other members of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party or of the Centre Party are prepared to back it up and to say that is their policy also. At any rate, it is not the Government's policy and, so far as I can, I will do all in my power to see that it never will be the Government's policy.

Deputies in this House have talked a lot about fixity of tenure. If they have watched the progress of the 1923 Land Act they will know very well that a particular clause in that Bill, which they held safeguarded fixity of tenure, absolutely destroyed the intentions of the Minister for Agriculture, as he was then, when that Bill was being passed through both Houses here. Take the case of the West of Ireland. I do not blame Deputy Belton or other Deputies from the South for not being able to see this problem in its entirety. There is a different problem altogether in the West of Ireland and other parts of the congested districts from that which exists in the East and South. Some of the Deputies are looking at the problem too much from what I might call the eastern point of view. I know that there are extensive farms of land in the West of Ireland and the people who own those lands have fixity of tenure. They are simply graziers. To my mind, they are not running their farms under the proper methods of husbandry, nor have they done so for a considerable number of years. Some of them, whom I know very well, have been letting parts of those farms for grazing and conacre tillage to people with large families living on three or four acres of land. Because of a particular clause of the previous Bill, the Government, under the 1923 Act, could not interfere with those people and could not take over the land. This section that is now being criticised is designed to remedy that defect and I think that most people who know the congested districts, if they are just and honest, will have to admit that such a clause as this is absolutely necessary in so far as it remedies that defect.

Fixity of tenure can be described in various ways. Are we to take it that a man with 5,000 or 10,000 acres of land, with fixity of tenure, can do anything he likes with that land? Are we to take it, if in the vicinity of that land there are 2,000 people living in hovels and on slum holdings with an average standard valuation of 15/-, that that man with the 5,000 or 10,000 acres can absolutely waste it while the people in the neighbourhood are living under conditions of starvation? If that is the policy of Cumann na nGaedheal, and if such a man is not to be interfered with, are we to take it that that position will be a preventive of Communism? Deputies opposite talk a lot about Communism. Where is there a better breeding ground for Communism or any other "ism" than a position of that kind where a man with 5,000 or 10,000 acres of land can let it go to waste if he likes, while in the locality a large number of people are not able to exist on their miserable holdings? I hold that the best preventive of Communism is the Government's policy of having the land used by the people and safeguarding a very large number of the community under fixity of tenure by giving them economic holdings and placing on the land the men who are able and capable of working the land and providing for themselves and their families.

It seems to me that the driving force behind this amendment from the Government Benches is concentrated largely on this question of the farms of 5,000 or 10,000 acres and so on. At any rate, they seem to think so. I am not acquainted with some of the matters, although the constituency which I happen to represent has loomed largely in this debate here to-day, but I want to tell Deputy Corry that during the last week a Land Commission officer, or somebody in connection with the Land Commission, visited one of the best farmers in Tipperary, whose farming is so good that I defy anybody to challenge it. The visit was in connection with this Bill. This man is not a rancher but a farmer, and this kind of thing has been going on pretty extensively in my constituency. These men are not ranchers but ordinary working farmers, and I am stating before the House the position as we see it in connection with this Bill. Very recently I asked that somebody from the Government Benches, when they talked about the conditions of the ordinary small farmer, would inform us what section in the Bill would protect or safeguard the farmer with 50 acres or 100 acres. I was told "commonsense." I am not prepared to take that as an answer when I ask a direct question with regard to the purpose of a section in a Bill. A lot has been said about fixity of tenure. Some people seem to think that it should not be there at all. I think it was Deputy Kennedy who pointed out that there were a number of countries in which there was not fixity of tenure at all. It does not exist, I think, in Russia. I do not want to see this country brought to the same level as Russia. I would invite in particular Deputy Davin's attention to the following extract from the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the sale of cottages and plots under the Labourers' Acts:—

"It appears to us that it is scarcely necessary to argue the advantages of ownership. The history of our country has been one continuous struggle both on the land and in the town to gain the freedom and security that go with ownership. This we regard as a basic and essential principle in any Christian State that bases social order on justice. In the security which it gives, better citizenship is developed, and men are encouraged to improve their holdings by the certain knowledge that the improvements effected will inure to themselves or their families. We are satisfied that when tenants become owners of their cottages they will gladly devote their spare time to improving and beautifying the homes which will be theirs for all time."

I would like to know if Deputy Davin subscribes to that doctrine. I would like to say that some of those whose names are appended to that document have very little regard for the rights of ownership in other directions, or for fixity of tenure. Notwithstanding that, they turn around and put that paragraph in their Report. I want to say that I do not object to it at all.

That does not prove the Deputy's statement.

Then you do not agree with it?

I did not say any such thing.

There is no use in anybody denying that this section of the Bill does interfere with every right. I asked a moment ago if any Deputy on the benches opposite could show me where, in the section, there is security for the 50-acre farm or even for the 20-acre farm? The security is not there, and I submit to the House that it only needs just a little stirring up of hostility in a certain district to turn that district into a congested district so that people can apply for any man's land. Very probably Fianna Fáil Deputies will say that that is not so, but where is there anything in the Bill to prevent such a thing taking place? No Deputy on the opposite side has been able to point out to me where there is any security whatever in this Bill. That is the particular objection that I have to it. If a hardworking, industrious farmer acquired an extra holding in the hope that some day it would be occupied by one of his children, had he not a perfect right to do so if he bought it in the open market? Who will deny that right to him? I know people myself who have holdings, and because of this section they are certainly very anxious about them. They have reason to be. Land Commission officers, or somebody connected with that Department, have been visiting farms—not estates and not holdings of 1,000 acres or 500 acres. It will all depend, I suppose, on the strength of a Fianna Fáil club in a particular district whether a particular locality is to become a congested district or not. I do not intend to delay the House further by dealing with other matters that have already been fully debated.

Anybody listening to the speeches made by Deputies on the Government Benches would come to the conclusion that they have a great anxiety with regard to the division of land. So far as my own constituency is concerned, I desire to refer to a few facts in connection with the division of land. Prior to the Fianna Fáil Government coming into office, the Land Commission acquired two estates there: one, the Saunders-Knox-Gore estate, and the other, Captain Jones's estate. As a matter of fact, the officials in the Land Commission were engaged on the division of the Saunders-Knox-Gore estate when a communication was sent to Dublin and a message came back from the Land Commission stopping the officials in their work. I am speaking with first-hand knowledge of what occurred. An explanation of that was subsequently made by the present Minister for Justice. He was then Minister for Lands and Fisheries. His explanation of the division of the estate not being proceeded with was that the land was not going into the right hands. The Minister's speech dealing with that was reported in theWestern People in April, 1932. That is a fact and there is no going behind it. These facts and particulars are in the hands of the Land Commission officials, and there can be no denial of them. The Captain Jones estate was acquired in or about the same time. It is practically derelict to-day, while the Saunders-Knox-Gore estate is absolutely derelict. This latter estate is in the possession of the Land Commission. It is not being divided up, but the land is being grazed by anybody who desires to do so. I wonder what return the Land Commission is getting for the money that was paid for that estate. If that is the class of administration that we are to get, it surely is not surprising that there should be, as there is, a terrible anxiety throughout the country so far as the acquisition of land is concerned. I admit there is land in the country that requires to be acquired, and that should be acquired. I think myself some of it should have been acquired long since. If the present Government were faithful to the promises they made when they were seeking power and making a bid for the votes of the people to place them in power, then surely we should not have the class of administration of which I have given the House an example. I mention these matters for the purpose of bringing home to the minds of everybody what is going on to-day.

Deputy Kennedy referred to the question of land tenure. It has to be said to his credit that, when speaking on that question, he was very candid. The Deputy said that there should be land tenure, but that it should not be absolute. He did not, however, define for the House the difference between what is land tenure and what is absolute land tenure. In saying that, Deputy Kennedy also said that, while land tenure is quite all right in its own way and that people should have an interest in their land, the State had rights. I think the phrase used by the Deputy "that the State had rights" let the cat out of the bag, and that land is now going to become a State concern—State property. These were the sentiments expressed from the side opposite. These are the principles that we hear propounded by Deputy Kennedy and other Deputies on the Government Benches. I wonder do those sentiments convey any meaning, do they indicate anything with regard to the future policy of the Government? This section that we are discussing strikes at the very root of land tenure. The greatest and the ablest men that this country ever produced devoted practically their entire lives, and were successful in their efforts, to establish the right and title of the farmers of this country deep in the soil.

That whole system is being struck at to-day. It is being slashed at now, and the farmer is going to be deprived of his rights. He is going to be robbed of his rights, and his ruin will be practically accomplished. People talk about land tenure and ask what was the value of it. It is invaluable, priceless, because the right of a man to his property represents something that he feels no one can deprive him of. No one can claim that the people had an opportunity of knowing that anything like this would be attempted by the Government, when they were seeking office. Was it ever stated from any public platform that if the Government were given their vote the people would be deprived of their land? We have certain explanations from professional men, legal and otherwise. I do not blame them for giving these explanations. That is their job; to try to put the best complexion they can on these questions.

Let us consider the position of a farmer, if the Bill is passed. What security has he from his land? A Deputy opposite stated recently that a bank manager to whom he was speaking stated that he was prepared to advance any money on land. I was speaking to a bank manager yesterday, and I asked him: "What advance are you prepared to make on the security of land if this Bill is passed?" The reply was: "I would not advance a penny. Do you not think that I would be very foolish if I did?" I told him that I was very glad to get that opinion, as it agreed with my own view. I am sorry at the same time that this situation has been created. It means that when a man sees his title broken, he will have no ambition. Is it not the ambition of any man, when he has acquired property, which is properly safeguarded, to defend it against anyone? If he was a man worthy of the name he would work that property and make it more valuable, because he was creating an asset to hand on to those who succeeded him. What asset in land will a man have now? None whatever. That asset has been smashed. By the Act of 1870, he secured compensation for disturbance, and by the Act of 1881, fair rent, fixity of tenure and the right of free sale. That is being smashed now. Some of the best Irishmen that this country can boast of—Butt, Biggar, Parnell, Healy, Davitt, Dillon and O'Brien—gave the best years of their lives to place the Irish farmer in the position he now occupies. All that is now going by the board. I wonder what these men would have felt if they had foreseen the present position.

I do not desire to refer particularly to a statement made by Deputy Cleary, that if the farmers were any good they should be able to make their land pay. The week before last I remember that the Deputy stated that the farmers could never make the land pay. My answer on that occasion was that if they did not make it pay prior to the economic war they could not make it pay now, or even eke out an existence, as a result of the position that had been created. I do not want to say anything that might be irrelevant when I refer to the present situation. I pointed out how the administration of the Land Commission had been carried on in North Mayo since Fianna Fáil came into office. If it is carried out in a similar manner in other parts of the country it must do great harm. I do not desire anything I say to be a reflection on the manner in which the Land Commission officials acquit themselves. I know that their work is carried on under great obstacles. When the Land Commission officials went to a certain estate for the purpose of dividing it, I know that a message was sent to Ballina that they were not to do so. That was in April, 1932, since when that estate has been derelict. That estate should be in the possession of the Land Commission and proper accounts concerning it should be rendered. If everything else in the Land Commission is administered in the same manner, it must be a very unprofitable Department. I repeat that the Land Commission officials are not to blame.

I have been informed that the Opposition have agreed to finish the Committee Stage of this Bill by 9 p.m. By the time a division is taken on the section two minutes will be left for each amendment, of which there are 40 to be disposed of. Some of them are of great importance. I intervened to know if anything could be done to accelerate progress and if the division could be taken and have this stage passed by 9 o'clock.

I will do anything possible to facilitate the business by concluding my remarks now.

I would like to ask the Attorney-General if he has had an opportunity of ascertaining the legal meaning of the words "immediate neighbourhood." He promised Deputy Hogan that he would look into the question.

The Attorney-General

I do not think I could give a legal definition. I do not know if the words have already been the subject of a decided case. It would have to be left to the courts or to the Appeal Tribunal to construe the words. I suggested to the Deputies that if they were willing to meet me we might substitute some words like "in the same locality". The Deputy went further and asked for something more.

Mr. Hogan

I understood we got an undertaking that the Attorney-General would consider the matter to see if something else would be necessitated. I pointed out that under sub-section (3) (a) it would refer to a residential qualification.

"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"

Has he considered it necessary to insert a safeguard?

Can the Attorney-General say anything about the point I put to the Minister this afternoon, that he should make a concession in the sense of amendment 115, to safeguard the position, to see that other suitable land in the locality was taken before the land of the owner was taken, and if he could make a concession in relation to amendment 119? That amendment seeks to provide for the case where a man has acquired a farm upon which he intends to settle his children.

The Attorney-General

With regard to what Deputy Roddy said, I think we did promise to look into the question, and I will undertake to have it looked into. As regards what Deputy MacDermot asked, I do not think the Minister could accept amendment 115.

What about amendment 119?

The Attorney-General

Nor could we accept 119.

Surely the Attorney-General will appreciate that it is very unjust to acquire registered land from a person so long as there is suitable untenanted land in the district—land equally suitable for the relief of congestion?

The Attorney-General

The Deputy knows that that is one of the things that gives rise to most of the practical difficulties.

I quite appreciate the difficulties of the situation. At the same time, it would appear to me to be obviously unfair that the Land Commission should proceed to acquire land in a certain district when alongside that land there is untenanted land equally suitable for the relief of congestion and which really should be first acquired. It has always been recognised in the Land Commission, and even under this Bill it is recognised, that registered land has a certain claim for special consideration. Untenanted land is dealt with differently under the 1923 Act. So long as there is untenanted land alongside or adjacent to registered land, then in all justice the Land Commission should first acquire the untenanted land, and then the other land subsequently, if it is required.

That will be the practice so far as possible, but the Deputy knows perfectly well that this type of clause has given rise to enormous difficulties heretofore. A clause similar to that which the Deputy wants to insert here was inserted in Section 24 of the 1923 Act. The result was that where land was needed for division the owner invariably said that there was other land in the district available, and that held up the work of the Land Commission. The Land Commission will not acquire land where there is more suitable land in the district. There is, of course, the other point of view. The Deputy knows that if you give holdings to people some distance away from their place of residence you make it impossible for them to work that land in an ordinary fashion. Instead of the land being portion of the holding it is situated quite a distance away, and they are half the day carting stuff along the road from one holding to another, instead of devoting that time to working on the land. I do not propose to accept this amendment.

Does the Minister propose to advert to the principle of amendment 119 suggested by Deputy MacDermot? Surely it is manifest that where a man wants to make provision for his children, wants to settle them on the land, he ought not to be impeded or restricted. That seems to me to be a very desirable purpose, and if the Land Commission can take land from that man and give it to someone else's children, that seems to me to be anything but a rational arrangement. With reference to Deputy Roddy's point, I think that throws added light on the danger this section carries with it. The people are going to be made pawns of and are going to be shoved about here, there and everywhere without any regard to the attachment of an individual for his own home. It is not right that the Land Commission should shift a man out of his home in order to make the pattern look nice. They are going to disregard a man's attachment to his home although equally suitable land might be within a mile from the place. They are going to put a man out of his father's home simply because it fits into their plan.

How any Irish Parliament could recognise a principle of that sort absolutely baffles me. How anyone professing to be a nationalist or professing the traditions of nationalism could stand over that sort of principle absolutely baffles me. The whole thing throws a floodlight on the purpose of the Minister and the Land Commission. It means that they have no regard for and no understanding of what a man's homestead means to him in this country. The Attorney-General ought to know. He was born and reared in a part of the country where that kind of thing obtains. The Minister for Defence comes from a part of the country where, perhaps, our outlook on the land question is not so rife. Other Ministers were born and bred in Dublin, and they do not understand the land question at all. The Attorney-General ought to understand it because he was born in the country. The idea of going to a man and telling him you are going to take his holding, although a mile away there is untenanted land which could easily be used for the relief of congestion—the idea that you are going to put him out and transport him to another part of the country is monstrous.

The Attorney-General

Then it will not be done.

Why not insert it in the Bill?

The Attorney-General gives his word that it will not be done.

The Attorney-General

As the Minister pointed out, in practice what the Deputy fears will not happen. There might be an exceptional case.

Then put it in the Bill and let us be satisfied. Of course you will not put it in the Bill. I have not the slightest doubt the Attorney-General speaks in good faith and he hopes he will be able to implement that undertaking, but I say he will not be able because when his own supporters get under way he will be forced to do things which he knows in his heart are wrong. Those amendments ought to be accepted. The amendment I have down ought to be accepted and the amendment that provides for the case of a man desirous of making provision for his children by putting them on his land ought to be accepted. If the Minister is not prepared to accept them, then it is clear what the purpose of the Bill is. They may have high hopes now, but when this measure comes into operation they will be driven down along the path which is going to land this country God knows where.

Perhaps the Minister will be prepared to make a statement later with regard to the elimination of the term "equally suitable." I would like also to know if there will be any advertence to the question of the provision of alternative holdings. There may be a case in which a man getting a holding of the same value as the one he has to leave may have to expend £1,000 in order to put it into a condition so that he may carry on the same class of farming as that to which he was accustomed. I would like to hear from the Minister in that connection.

The words "equally suitable" in the 1923 Act rendered the section inoperative. Even though the Land Commission wanted the land very badly for the relief of congestion, they could not take vested land simply because no one would be satisfied that the land they were getting was "equally suitable." It was only in very few cases that the owner would be satisfied that the alternative holdings were "equally suitable." Usually unless the owner got a holding that was two or three times the value of his original holding he was not satisfied. In cases where the Land Commission was compelled to give the owner an alternative holding that holding was worth several times as much as the holding he was giving up. For that reason, we are not going to stultify ourselves by accepting the amendment. I do not want, at this stage, to go into the objections raised to this particular amendment. We will have another day to discuss it. It has been already discussed at considerable length.

The next amendment 115, in the names of Deputies Roddy and Lynch, mentions "other unacquired land in the locality suitable for the relief of congestion." Well if these words "other unacquired land in the locality" go in, though there are 10 or 20 congests around the ranch that is not being worked and on which the owner never put his foot for years, the position will be that that land is to remain in his possession and the congests there are to remain congests. If there are other lands five or six miles away which can be given to these congests that land would not be suitable for them.

The amendment is dealing with untenanted land.

The untenanted land might not really be suitable. It might be 15 or 16 miles away.

My amendment says "suitable for the relief of congestion."

"Unacquired land in the locality." Can anybody set down in specific terms what "locality" means there?

That is what we have been asking the Minister this evening.

The Minister is up against that difficulty in his own drafting.

Not altogether. It is not quite so bad. If a man has farms in the immediate neighbourhood we bulk them together to ascertain what the bulk of his holding is and we treat them all as one holding.

Could not the Minister accept the amendment if the words "in the immediate neighbourhood" were substituted for "locality"? Would not that meet the objection?

In the first instance, the "immediate neighbourhood" renders the section more favourable to the occupier of the land.

It would meet the objection.

How many miles away?

Whatever the court will say.

We are laying down the law and they are to interpret it?

That is what we are doing. These words were used before.

I want to put this to the Minister. Take the case of a farm worked as an ordinary farm by an ordinary farmer. That is what we are debating. That is the class of land the Minister is taking.

We are taking more than that.

Mr. Hogan

In all these cases the net point we are debating is how far you can take land from the ordinary farmer; that is to say, land which is registered land where it is worth more than £2,000.

There is more than that in the section. If the man is not residing on his holding and if he is not working it as an ordinary farmer should work the holding, he gets no protection whatsoever.

Mr. Hogan

Exactly.

There are many such vested holdings on which the owner never sets his foot. There are plenty of farms in this country which are vested in the occupier and which the occupier has not seen perhaps for 20 years, and will not see for the next 20 years.

The Minister has not answered my question. He has been dealing with a suggestion which I did not make—that "equally suitable" should be inserted. My question was whether any advertence will be had to the suitability of the new holding for the occupier in the administration of the Land Acts.

The man will get a holding which the appeal tribunal holds is of equal market value to his holding.

We may take it from that that as far as "suitability" is concerned it will not be considered at all?

I think the Land Commission will always take that into consideration.

Mr. Hogan

Deputy Roddy's amendment does not affect untenanted land or land which is not over £2,000. It does not affect land which is not properly farmed. It only affects a holding which is being farmed by an ordinary farmer under a proper system of husbandry. He wants to see that man protected and he wants to see that such a farm is not acquired if there are other more suitable lands of a different category in the neighbourhood. Is that too much?

It will be reconsidered on Report.

I think that amendment points to one of the outstanding defects of the Bill.

We are accepting the change.

Amendment agreed to.

With regard to amendment 116, "To delete sub-section (3)," we are accepting that also.

Amendment agreed to.

The other amendments will not be moved. We will divide on the section.

Question put: "That Section 28, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
The Committee divided:—Tá, 50; Níl, 41.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Cleary, Mícheál.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Corry, Martin John.
  • Crowley, Fred, Hugh.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Davin, William.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • Donnelly, Eamon.
  • Everett, James.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Browne, William Frazer.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • O'Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Doherty, Joseph.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pattison, James P.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C. (Dr.).

Níl

  • Alton, Ernest Henry.
  • Belton, Patrick.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Bourke, Séamus.
  • Burke, James Michael.
  • Burke, Patrick.
  • Coburn, James.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Costello, John Aloysius.
  • Curran, Richard.
  • Daly, Patrick.
  • Davis, Michael.
  • Desmond, William.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Dolan, James Nicholas.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Grattan.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Fitzgerald, Desmond.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Haslett, Alexander.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Galway).
  • Holohan, Richard.
  • Kent, William Rice.
  • MacDermot, Frank.
  • MacEoin, Seán.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • McGuire, James Ivan.
  • Morrisroe, James.
  • O'Connor, Batt.
  • O'Donovan, Timothy Joseph.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Mahony, The.
  • O'Sullivan, Gearoid.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Redmond, Bridget Mary.
  • Rice, Vincent.
  • Roddy, Martin.
  • Wall, Nicholas.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Little and S mith; Níl: Deputies Bennett and O'Donovan.
Question declared carried.
SECTION 29.
(1) Where a provisional list of untenanted lands or a notice under this Part of this Act of intention to declare that lands are required for relief of congestion has been published and no objection thereto has been lodged or if lodged has been finally disposed of, the Land Commission may, if they consider it expedient so to do for the purpose of the immediate distribution of such lands by order declare the appointed day for such lands notwithstanding that the price has not been agreed upon or fixed, and by the same order declare the price (in this section called the provisional price) at which it is proposed to purchase such lands.
(2) In default of agreement, the price of lands in respect of which the appointed day has been declared under the foregoing sub-section of this section shall be fixed in accordance with the provisions of the Land Purchase Acts in that behalf.
(3) If the price of lands in respect of which the appointed day has been declared under this section exceeds the provisional price, the Land Commission shall make an additional advance and issue additional land bonds for the purchase of such lands and there shall be payable by the Land Commission to the person entitled to the receipt of the rents and profits of such land before the purchase thereof a sum equal to interest (less income tax) on the additional land bonds so issued from the appointed day to the date of the issue of such additional land bonds.
(4) If the price of lands in respect of which the appointed day has been declared under this section is less than the provisional price, the Land Commission shall pay into the Land Bond Fund such sum as will be sufficient to redeem the land bonds issued in excess of the price of such lands and shall be entitled to recover the amount so paid into the Land Bond Fund, together with the interest paid on the bonds so redeemed from the appointed day to the date on which such bonds are redeemed, out of the purchase money of such lands so far as it shall not have been distributed on allocation or from such person as shall have received such purchase money or any part thereof and shall be found liable to make such repayments.
(5) The provisions of the Land Act, 1931, in relation to guarantee deposits, as amended by this Act, shall apply in the case of untenanted lands for which a provisional price has been declared under this section, with the modification that the deposit shall be 25 per cent. of the provisional price.

I move amendment 127:—

Before Section 29 to insert a new section as follows:—

A person who or whose predecessor, at the passing of the Land Act, 1881, was the tenant of a holding to which the Land Acts apply, and who (or whose predecessor) was evicted from the said holding, since the said date, in consequence of proceedings taken by or on behalf of his landlord and who or whose personal representative has not under any previous Land Acts been either reinstated in his original holding or been given a substituted holding, shall be entitled on making application in a form to be prescribed under this Act, to be restored to his original holding or to be given a substituted holding (as the case may be).

I am surprised that this Bill does not make any mandatory provision for the reinstatement of evicted tenants, or the representatives of tenants evicted from their holdings since the passing of the Land Act, 1881. The British House of Commons in the year 1907 passed an Evicted Tenants Bill making it obligatory on the Government of the day to reinstate all the evicted tenants in their former holdings. That Bill was held up by the House of Lords and did not become law. I understand that the Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis passed a resolution something on the lines of the amendment which I now ask the House to accept, and, in view of that, I hope the Minister will see his way to accept the amendment. During the discussion of the Land Bill of 1927, ex-Deputy James Cosgrove moved an amendment providing for the reinstatement of all evicted tenants in their original holdings. During the debate on that amendment I endeavoured to point out that it would be absolutely impossible to give effect to it in the form in which it was moved. I have been reading some of the debates in the British House of Commons. In support of my argument I understand that in dealing with the 8,000 claims made previous to 1907, the Commissioners in their report at the time stated that "in 1,259 out of the 1,609 cases in which the applicants were considered suitable to be provided with holdings their former holdings are in the possession of other tenants." That, of course, made it quite clear even at that time that it would be impracticable to have the evicted tenants restored to their former holdings.

That is the reason why I am suggesting, in this amendment, that they be restored to their original holdings, or that they be given substitute holdings as the case may be. When ex-Deputy James Cosgrove's amendment was under discussion in the Dáil, in 1927. Deputy Hogan, who was then Minister for Agriculture, said that if the amendment were accepted there would be about 100,000 applications coming in from evicted tenants or their representatives. From information supplied by the Commissioners, who had invited applications previous to the year 1907, and who were the best judges as to what the exact number of such claimants was likely to be, Mr. Birrell, who was then Chief Secretary for Ireland, speaking in the House of Commons on the Evicted Tenants Bill of 1907, said that the maximum number of applications under this head would not exceed 8,000. He said, at the same time, there were some of the people who claimed to be representatives of the evicted tenants who, in his opinion, had as much right to describe themselves as descendants of evicted tenants as they had to call themselves astronomers. He boiled it all down to this, that in his view the number of genuine claims submitted would not exceed 2,000. Looking at the figures quoted from time to time in this House and elsewhere, I understand there were 3,359 tenants restored to their former holdings, or had suitable alternative holdings provided for them, up to the 31st March, 1914. I have not at my disposal the same information as the Minister and I hope he will give the House the number of tenants restored to their holdings or provided with suitable alternative holdings under the Act of 1923.

I asked on the Second Reading debate of this Bill that we should get reliable information on the aspect of the claims of those tenants, and I hope that the Minister now will be able to furnish the House with the information when he comes to reply on that matter. Mr. Birrell, dealing with the claims of the evicted tenants in the debate to which I have referred, said that in his opinion—and apparently that opinion was shared by the late Mr. John Redmond, the leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, and by the then Mr. James Campbell, who was afterwards Lord Glenavy, and Chairman of the Senate—80,000 acres of land would make reasonable provision for the claims of the genuine evicted tenants. I quote these figures because they were made available by the Land Commission of that particular period, which apparently investigated the applications that were submitted to them previous to the discussion of the Evicted Tenants Bill of 1907. I am informed by ex-Deputy James Cosgrove, who is in touch with the organisation, so far as there is any organisation available, to promote the claims of the evicted tenants, that the number of cases awaiting settlement at the moment could not possibly exceed 500. I know Deputy Dillon will oppose this amendment simply because it is moved by a member of the Labour Party——

On a point of personal explanation, may I say that whatever the prescience of Deputy Davin may be, he has not yet developed the faculty of thought-reading and he, therefore, cannot know anything about what I may be going to say.

I said that one of the reasons that would justify Deputy Dillon in his opposition to this amendment was that it was moved by a member of the Labour Party. However, everybody recognises the fact that it was the agitation surrounding the original eviction of these tenants, and their claims for restoration, which led to the passage of the various Land Acts in this country. I think everybody associated with the land agitation and the passage of the various Land Acts holds that genuine evicted tenants should be reinstated in their holdings, or provided with suitable alternative holdings, if it is not possible to give them back their own original holdings. If the British Parliament in 1907 considered it feasible, for any good reason at that time, to introduce and pass a Bill for the reinstatement of those people, I think the present Government whose Party conference, already published, unanimously declared support of the same policy, should make provision in the Land Bill for the reinstatement of those people or their relatives. I hope, without saying anything further upon the matter, that the Minister will see his way to accept this amendment.

Perhaps, before the Minister replies, Deputy Davin will explain why it is he left out the evicted tenants of '79 and '80. I am in entire agreement with the Deputy in his attitude towards the evicted tenants. I agree that provision of a very specific character should be introduced into this Bill for the reinstatement of evicted tenants. But I cannot see why the men subsequent to '81 should be excluded from such benefits. The very best of the evicted tenants were the men in the years '79 and '80. These are the men who were evicted having very little hope of ever getting back. Something has been knocked out of Governments since the movement was started. The men evicted subsequent to 1881 knew that there was a great movement in being, and hoped that justice would be done to them in the long run, but the men who went out in '79 and '80 were the shock troops of the land movement. They did not know whether it was possible to break the power of landlordism but they went out all the same. The numbers evicted in 1881 may be small. The numbers evicted in '79 and '80 are still smaller but their claims are far stronger and seem even more meritorious than those men for whom Deputy Davin speaks.

The Minister, I have no doubt, will answer that there are very great administrative difficulties. I have no doubt there are. But I know that the prime objective of the leaders of the Land League movement was to put back into their holdings the men who were evicted in the land war. I remember, prior to the election of 1918, I attended the reinstatement of the last evicted tenant in East Mayo to his holding in the month of November of that year. I know it was the ardent desire of every land leaguer in Ireland to put back the evicted tenants into their holdings or into suitable holdings. It was hoped that the 1923 Act and subsequent Land Acts of an Irish Government would complete that work. This Land Bill, to my mind, has very few redeeming features, but if an amendment, in the sense of Deputy Davin's amendment, were inserted in the Bill, it would do something to redeem it from the deplorable character it has assumed. I cannot allow this occasion to pass without drawing Deputy Davin's attention to the apparent inconsistency of the position he has taken up. We have just passed a section of this Bill for the purpose of making new evicted tenants. We have just passed a section which puts it in the power of the Land Commission to put tenants out. Now Deputy Davin, very rightly I think, wants to insert a section to compel the Land Commission to put back the old evicted tenants. I hope when the time comes for reinstating tenants who were evicted by the Land Commission under the Act of 1933 Deputy Davin will co-operate with me. That time will probably come.

The Deputy is very pessimistic.

That time will probably come, and I should like to hear Deputy Davin speak as trenchantly and as eloquently on their behalf as he is speaking now for the evicted tenants of the landlord. So far as I am concerned I strongly urge on the Minister to accept this amendment, with one qualification,—instead of the words "at the passing of the Land Act, 1881" to insert the words "on the 1st day of January, 1879".

Why fix a limit at all?

The number of evicted tenants or their representatives provided for since the Land Act of 1923 is 153. Deputy Davin seems to be unaware of the power that the Land Commission has at the moment to deal with evicted tenants and their personal representatives.

As a matter of fact, they have power to go back three years beyond the date which Deputy Davin mentioned,—1881. They have power to go back to 1878. I should like to get fully from both Deputy Dillon and Deputy Davin their point of view on this matter. I do not think any Party in the House has a monopoly of sympathy with the evicted tenants. We are on common ground in that respect. We all know what the country owes to the men who fought the land war. We all want to see them properly dealt with, and we want to see their personal representatives dealt with. There is one thing we want to be clear on, and that is that under the previous Acts the Land Commission were compelled to take into consideration whether or not the personal representative of an evicted tenant was a fit and proper person, and was competent to work the land. The Land Commission, in their administration of the previous Acts, although they were directed by law to have regard to a man's competency, put a rather liberal interpretation on their legal instructions. In some districts they put in personal representatives who did not "hang on" to the land. Down in Kildare, I understand, there were 12 representatives of evicted tenants put in, and within a few months five of them sold out. There are some personal representatives of evicted tenants who have no great need for land. Sometimes the personal representative is very remote from the original evicted tenant.

There are cases on the files of the Land Commission where a woman has claimed to be the personal representative of an evicted tenant simply because her husband was the grandson of the man who was evicted. The woman is a shopkeeper; she has a fairly good business. Are we to put that woman on the land to the exclusion of a small uneconomic holder, or a landless man who has no other means of livelihood, and who knows how to work the land? Are we to deal with correspondence we have from Australia, from men who are personal representatives of evicted tenants, who know nothing about the land and have been all their lives in cities, by asking them to come back simply because they are the grand-children of tenants evicted in 1881 or 1878? As the law stands, the Land Commission has to inquire whether a person is competent to work the land or not. If Deputies agree that that is a good and proper direction to the Land Commission then the law does not require to be amended. In this Bill, however, we are amending the law in one respect, and that is to enable the Land Commission to more easily acquire land for genuine evicted tenants, and the personal representatives of evicted tenants, who are competent to work the land.

On the 15th June of this year the situation relating to evicted tenants was as follows:—There were 13,693 applications lodged. The number who were refused as being unsuitable, after inquiry, was 4,852. The number reinstated by the landlord or provided with land by the Land Commission was 3,461. That left a residue of 5,308. Some of those cases were lodged years ago, but the Land Commission have at the moment 240 cases noted for further consideration when land comes in. Up to the present, they have no power to acquire land specifically for the placing of evicted tenants or their personal representatives on the land. Under Section 31 of this Bill we are taking power to acquire land for evicted tenants. What I want to hear from Deputy Davin and Deputy Dillon is whether Deputy Davin's amendment is to go through as it stands, that is that the personal representative of an evicted tenant shall be entitled, upon the filling of a form, to get the original holding or a substitute holding, no matter whether or not he is competent to work the land, whether or not he is a man who is well-off in other ways, or whether or not he is living in the country. I want to hear both Deputy Dillon and Deputy Davin on that point. Heretofore, we had power to place evicted tenants on the land, and in this Bill we are taking power to more conveniently get land for them.

While Deputy Davin is considering what the Minister has said I want to state that there is no doubt whatever in my mind. When those men were being put out on the road Michael Davitt and the men with him went down, stood beside them, and said: "Go out in every confidence. We will put you back. They may evict you, they may kick you out, they may persecute you, they may do anything they like, but sooner or later we will put you back." That promise ought to be redeemed. That is the issue. The Minister says—and mind you, I have every sympathy with him in the administrative difficulties involved—that a lot of those people are unsuitable. Whose fault is that? Was not that the very object of the landlord who put them out? They drove them out on the roadside. The people had to live. They had to go and get work here and there as best they could, to keep body and soul together. Many of them drifted to the cities. Many of them drifted to the workhouse. Michael Davitt drifted to the workhouse. If he did not drift into the workhouse there might have been no Land League and no land war. I suppose if Michael Davitt were an applicant for reinstatement to-day he would be told he was not suitable because he was an industrial worker in a North of England city.

On the qualifications laid down by the Land Commission Michael Davitt was not eligible for reinstatement as an evicted tenant. Does the House stand over that? I make no bones about it. These men risked their all. Their wives risked their all. Their wives went out into the streets with their children. They went into the workhouses with their children, rather than give in, and they did that on the express promise that we would put them back. Now is your opportunity. It is a question of whether this House is going to honour this promise or not. In my opinion no administrative difficulty should be allowed to stand in the way. Every single genuine successor of an evicted tenant should have the promise from the Land Commission: "If you want a holding such as your parents were put out of, we will give it to you. We will redeem the promises made to you. We will put you back."

Supposing that they do not want to go back?

I think I made that point clear. All I say is that the Land Commission should be empowered to say to the personal representative of every evicted tenant: "If you want to go back we will put you back".

Is that not included in the Bill?

Section 31.

I would advise Deputy Donnelly to read the Bill more carefully.

I was listening to the Minister.

That is what I was going to say, that he should not pay too much attention to the arguments used by the Minister, arguments which were used equally effectively by Deputy Hogan, who was previously Minister for Agriculture, on an amendment similar to this to the 1927 Act. I venture to suggest that were it not for the land agitation, the Land League, and those associated with it, and the Party who advocated the policy, which originated in that agitation, in a foreign Parliament, the Government or the Minister would not be sitting on those benches to-day.

But for the Volunteers we would not be here.

I should like to hear Deputy Donnelly make his maiden speech either for or against this amendment. His constituents. I am sure will be glad to hear him speak for the first time in this House.

I got more votes than you got.

Do not be so parochial.

I have this to say, and I am sure that Deputy Donnelly will not challenge the accuracy of my statement, that during the discussions on the 1923 Bill and during the discussions on the 1927 Bill, I spoke in the same strain. I hope, now that we have in office and in power a Party which definitely pledged itself to a certain course of action through its delegates from the Fianna Fáil branches at the last Ard-Fheis, they will implement the policy which was unanimously approved of at the last meeting of the Ard-Fheis. I candidly confess that the Minister can pick out exceptional cases to justify opposition to the acceptance of an amendment of this kind. It is quite true, that some of the tenants evicted, and certainly some of their representatives, are to-day endeavouring to eke out an existence in Australia, America and in other foreign countries. Is there anybody in this House who would not say that an opportunity should be created, by the acceptance of such an amendment, to bring back from Australia or America or these other countries the tenants or their representatives who were forced to leave this country as a result of eviction?

The Government are paying pensions to several sets of officials who served in the Army and in the Civil Service. These pensions are being paid regardless of the other means of income of these people or whether they hold other positions or not. I know persons who are receiving at the same time salaries and pensions from the State at the expense of the taxpayers. I think that should dispose of the argument that there are some people well off, and that simply because they are well off—possibly in a few cases they would be unfit for immediate work on the land—they should not get land. Remember these people or their predecessors were evicted from the holdings and these holdings were taken over by grabbers. They are entitled to be reinstated in their original holdings or provided with alternative holdings or if you like, given compensation for the land taken from them, in circumstances well known to Deputies, in the days of the land agitation. I want to advise Deputy Donnelly on this. The Minister has stated that the Land Commission can, under their present powers, make provision for the reinstatement of evicted tenants or their representatives in their former holdings. I would like to remind Deputy Donnelly that the word used is that the Land Commission "may." My amendment compels them to do so. That is the difference between the present powers of the Minister and the amendment moved by me.

What time has the Deputy in mind when he says that they shall be entitled to reinstatement?

Provided the Minister is prepared to regard this as an obligation I am not going to quibble over words, as to whether the date should be after the 1st of January, 1879 or the passing of the Act of 1881. I am not an expert by any means regarding the method by which the Bill will be administered, but it should be possible to have all the land which the Minister hopes to acquire, acquired and divided within a period of three years. I am making that statement without any official advice—and I would like to hear the Minister on this—or without any access to those who hope to help the Minister with the Bill. I am prepared to admit that there may be exceptional cases as stated by the Minister, but I think that the House ought to make a real beginning, after all the discussions that have gone on in the British House of Commons and in the Dáil on the 1923 Act, on the 1927 Act and on this Bill, and that finally we ought to come to the time when the majority of the House ought to do the right thing for those who have been deprived of their holdings without any compensation. You can have it any way you like. You can reinstate these people—personally, I believe that will be impossible in many cases—or you can provide them with alternative holdings and if, that is impossible, you can make provision by way of compensation for these people who are deprived of their holdings.

I should like to ask Deputy Dillon whether he has any figures which he can give to the House to show the number of additional people he would cover by the suggested amendment in regard to the date. In other words, what was the number of people who were evicted between the 1st of January 1879 and the date of the passing of the Act of 1881? The Minister stated that only 153 tenants or representatives of tenants were reinstated in their former holdings or provided with alternative holdings since the passing of the 1923 Act. I venture to suggest that the majority of the people who will be administering this Bill will be the very same people who administered that Act. They will have the same outlook and the same mentality unless this House inserts an amendment of this kind and compels them to take these cases into consideration. The Minister may not be in his seat or his Party may not be in power 12 months from to-day. There is nobody who can get up and prophesy what will be the life of this Parliament or how long the Minister and his colleagues will remain in office but when the Government goes out of office it should have the satisfaction at any rate of being able to say to the people that they honoured the obligations placed upon them by their own Ard Fheis at its last meeting. There are 5,308 cases still outstanding. I listened very attentively to the Minister's remarks when the Minister assured the House that 240 out of 5,308 cases still outstanding, were noted for consideration. He said that the Land Commission, of which he is the acting head to-day, had noted for consideration only 240 cases out of a total number of 5,308. Would his own colleagues, sitting behind him, accept that as satisfactory, or do they regard that as the outlook of the Minister himself on the number of people who should be considered?

After all, the law is the law.

I am suggesting that he should take the claims of all these people into consideration.

Are all these victims of the land war or did they refuse to pay a judicial rent or a fair rent?

Does the Deputy remember the "No Rent" Manifesto? I suppose he never heard of it.

Deputies will be aware of the case of the Luggacurren Estate where a large number of people, or rather the sons and daughters of those evicted on that estate, have not yet been reinstated. The majority are still looking for reinstatement.

Yes, and it is at present planted.

It is a planters' quarter. I suggest to Deputy Donnelly that he should go down to that area and tell those people, who have genuine claims for reinstatement, that he voted for the acceptance of an amendment in this House which compelled his own Minister to have these people reinstated or provided with suitable alternative holdings. Before concluding, I wish to assure the Minister that I am not quibbling over areas or dates but that I want a statement of policy from him as to whether he is prepared to accept it as an obligation on the Department to make provision for the reinstatement of these people or for the provision of suitable alternative holdings for them.

The only thing is that I should like the Deputy to assure us that he does not want to compel the Land Commission to put people on the land who cannot work it or, in such a case, to provide them with compensation.

I said that I was not standing for it in this amendment. The proper way to compensate these people is to reinstate them or to provide them with alternative holdings.

Whether they want it or not?

If they do not want it, they can go elsewhere—and you know what that means.

The Deputy mentioned 1881. Honestly, I would like to have an opportunity of going further into this question in order to see where all its implications lie. I do not want to do something for one particular class of people that will make it impossible to deal fairly with the majority of the people. As I say, I should like to have an opportunity of examining this matter further in view of the discussion here to-day; and if the Deputy would withdraw the amendment and bring it up again on the Report Stage, we could discuss it then if I am not able to find an alternative amendment that would meet the case.

May I ask leave to withdraw the amendment on the understanding that the Minister will accept the principle of making it mandatory on the Land Commission to reinstate all those evicted from their holdings?

We will see what we can do.

Before this amendment is allowed to be withdrawn, I want to know whether or not the Minister is prepared to accept the principle that it should be made mandatory on the Land Commission to offer reinstatement on the original holdings, or on equally suitable holdings, to tenants evicted, whether subsequent to May, 1878, or to the passing of the Land Act of 1881. I prefer the former and Deputy Davin prefers the other. Does the Minister accept that principle, and is he prepared to introduce, on the Report Stage, an amendment, the object of which will be to offer reinstatement on the original holding or an equally suitable holding to every tenant evicted under the land war?

I can accept that unreservedly, but the Deputy said "evicted tenants."

Or their representatives.

I am asking Deputy Davin not to withdraw the amendment altogether, but to withdraw it temporarily and bring it up again on the Report Stage so that the matter can be discussed then.

May I ask the Minister what is the object of that?

Because I want to examine the amendment and its effect more closely than I have been able to. It must be remembered that there are 167 amendments and I have not had time to examine their full effect. I suggest that Deputy Davin can put down the amendment on the Report Stage and move it then if I have not tabled an amendment that will meet the case.

Surely, if the Minister is prepared to accept the principle, that will meet the matter. With all due respect, I submit that the Minister has had as much time, and much greater assistance to enable him to do so, to examine these amendments than private Deputies have had. I submit that a very important principle is raised by this amendment. If the Minister is prepared to accept the principle I have no desire to intervene between himself and Deputy Davin. If he is not prepared to accept the principle that evicted tenants or their personal representatives must be offered reinstatement on their own holdings or on suitable alternative holdings, then I ask the House to divide on this amendment.

What is meant by the term "evicted tenant"? Deputy Dillon dropped the phrase "evicted during the land war." I think the amendment would include those evicted by the Land Commission.

I hope that it will include those who are going to be evicted by the Land Commission.

That is merely frivolous.

Would the Deputy read the amendment? It says: "in consequence of proceedings taken by or on behalf of his landlord."

I only want to be put right on the matter.

I think it is plain for anybody who can understand English and the Deputy should not misrepresent it.

I was not attempting to misrepresent it. It is quite easy to make mistakes. The Deputy himself can make mistakes and if he would bear that in mind he might not be so intolerant of the mistakes of others. However, I should like to know, in connection with this amendment, what the Minister proposes to do with regard to the number of farms in the hands of the Land Commission at present. There is quite a big number of farms all over the country in the hands of the Land Commission where the tenants have been evicted on account of nonpayment of their annuities.

On a point of order, the amendment refers to the landlord and I think that the Deputy is dealing with quite another matter entirely. He is dealing with the period subsequent to the disappearance of landlordism from the tenure of this country.

I suggest that it is very much the same question. Now that the arrears are to be forgiven and that these tenants can be restored to their holdings without having to pay the debt that was formerly required to be paid before they got repossession of their holdings, it is natural that they will be wanting to know whether they will be entitled to resume possession now. The Minister has not said anything about that so far and I should like to know what his intention is in that regard.

Mr. Rice

Deputy Moore is, possibly, the only Deputy in the House who wants a definition of what is meant by an evicted tenant. All of us, who have lived here during our lives, know what is meant by an evicted tenant, and we include in that term the people who represent them now. I think that, if there is any section in this Bill, and if there is any principle put forward in any amendment for which the Minister should not require any time for consideration, it is this principle here. The principle put forward in Deputy Davin's amendment is one that every person in this House understands. I would press the House to ask for a decision now on the question of the principle raised by Deputy Davin. Is the Minister prepared to accept the principle raised in Deputy Davin's amendment, apart from the question of details which can be considered later on?

May I submit that what an evicted tenant is is not at all so clear as Deputy Rice and Deputy Davin have tried to make out. "In consequence of proceedings taken by or on behalf of his landlord." Now, up to 1931 the State was acting for the landlord in regard to rent so that it would include people evicted as late as 1927 and 1928. Deputy Rice, with all his legal knowledge, could not see that. He thinks I am very stupid indeed not to be able to understand what an evicted tenant is. Evidently it is the other way about. Deputy Rice does not understand what is meant by this amendment.

Mr. Rice

Deputy Moore has made a graceful attempt to try and cut across this discussion so that a decision on this might be postponed. I assume that is the reason for Deputy Moore's assumed ignorance of what is meant by an evicted tenant.

Deputy Rice is suddenly coming to the rescue of the evicted tenants.

Mr. Rice

Not suddenly at all. Why does the Minister say "suddenly." In my occupation I had more to do with evicted tenants than ever the Minister had, and not against them either.

I am not denying all that.

Mr. Rice

Why does the Minister say "suddenly" then?

In this way: Deputy Rice was a member of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party. It was in office for ten years and introduced three Land Bills, and no amendment of this description was inserted in any one of them.

Mr. Rice

I would remind the Minister that no Land Bill introduced by Cumann na nGaedheal could ever have the effect of evicting as many tenants as the Bill we are discussing now will.

The Deputy cannot ride away on that horse. The Deputy is suddenly getting very excited about this.

Mr. Rice

I am not a bit excited. The Minister is rather excited about the idea of having a division on this amendment now.

Why does Deputy Rice want this amendment at this particular time? For ten years Cumann na nGaedheal were in office, and they did not do it. We are in this Bill continuing the power to give land to evicted tenants.

Surely the Minister is not forgetting about Section 31 of the Act of 1923 in which an evicted tenant is defined and provision is expressly made for him.

Is the provision outlined in this amendment made for him in that Act?

I am simply giving the Minister that information and trying to keep him right.

Is the right in the terms of the amendment we are discussing?

I am not discussing the amendment at the moment. I am simply dealing with the statement of the Minister.

The Deputy is a member of the House, and it is no harm to ask him a question. We are all in favour of the evicted tenants, but we want to see where we are going. Deputy Davin himself admits that in some cases a regulation will be required to exclude certain people who think they have some legal title to be called the representatives of evicted tenants.

I do not think Deputy Davin did admit that.

I think that anybody who wants to face this problem honestly must admit that there are certain people who have a very tenuous claim to be called the representatives of evicted tenants. We want to see them dealt with. There is a necessity for exceptions and, certainly, as it stands, Deputy Dillon would not accept the amendment. Deputy Dillon wants the amendment changed from 1881 to 1878. As the amendment stands I am not prepared to accept it.

For what reason?

Because, first of all, if we are going to deal with it all we want to deal with the evicted tenants from 1878 instead of from 1881.

Is that the principal reason?

That is one reason.

Compulsion?

So far as compulsion is concerned, I am in favour of the Land Commission being compelled to acquire land as speedily as possible for genuine evicted tenants, and also for the genuine representatives of evicted tenants who are competent to work land.

Who is to decide that?

It will be decided here first by the representatives of the people, and then the Land Commission or the appeal tribunal will decide what is a genuine evicted tenant and what is not.

A Land Commission inspector will decide?

There will be more than an inspector.

This will not go to the appeal tribunal, but to an individual to decide.

The Land Commissioners will make the decision.

The Commissioners but not the appeal tribunal.

If a man feels he is aggrieved who is he to appeal to?

It is a pure question of administration for the Land Commission and the Minister, and not for the appeal tribunal. The appeal tribunal has certain functions, and this is not one of them.

The amendment states that "a person who or whose predecessor" and so on "shall be entitled on making application in a form," etc., "to be restored to his original holding."

That is a pure question of administration.

If the Land Commission do not do it, to whom is the aggrieved tenant to go?

The words of the amendment would compel them to do it. That is the difference between the Minister and myself.

I am prepared to put in an amendment on the Report Stage compelling the Land Commission to give land, within a reasonable period, to genuine evicted tenants and to genuine representatives of genuine evicted tenants who are competent to work land.

Would the Minister tell us the difference between the word "genuine" as explained by Mr. Birrell in 1907 and, later, by Deputy Hogan, who preceded the present Minister?

I do not know.

I would like to know from Deputy Davin if he has any particular period in mind? As the amendment reads it would include evictions carried out right down to 1931, or has the Deputy in mind only those whom we mean when we use the phrase "the victims of the land war?"

Would Deputy Moore tell us what persons who held land in 1881 have been evicted by the Land Commission during the past few years?

Quite a number.

I would like to hear about some of them.

Some hundreds all over the country.

Evicted from the holdings they held in 1881 by the Land Commission in the last few years?

During the last ten or 15 years.

But their holdings must have been bought under the Ashbourne Act?

Am I to understand that the Minister's reply to the case made had any relation to the declared policy of his Party in this matter? Is he prepared to implement the policy of his own Party's declaration of last year?

I told Deputy Davin quite definitely that if he wishes he can withdraw this amendment, and put it in on the Report Stage, if the amendment we put in does not meet with what he considers to be the needs of the situation. I have stated that I am prepared on the Report Stage to introduce an amendment which will make it compulsory on the Land Commission to acquire land within a reasonable period, and to distribute it to the representatives of genuine evicted tenants.

The word "genuine" is the snag.

Have they not to be genuine evicted tenants?

Or their representatives.

Or the representatives of genuine evicted tenants competent to work land.

In the case of the Luggacurren tenants, the people who owned the land, and who were evicted, have in many cases died and their sons must be reinstated.

I am prepared to give land to sons, if the sons are fit to work it. I am quite prepared to compel the Land Commission to do that.

If the word "genuine" is left out I will accept it.

Have they not to be genuine evicted tenants?

What is the use of putting in the word "genuine?" Surely only genuine cases will be admitted whether the word is in or not?

There are some people claiming to be evicted tenants, who are not really evicted tenants at all.

Deputy Davin's amendment does not ask the Minister to include everyone that claims to be an evicted tenant.

Mr. Rice

Surely the answer is that the Land Commission will investigate every claim to see if it was a proper one?

A person's legal representative could prove that he was entitled.

The issue is clear, whether the Minister is prepared to accept the mandatory element in the amendment or not. He will not give an undertaking that he will introduce an amendment on the Report Stage, to offer every evicted tenant, or his personal representative, the holding of land from which he was evicted, or an equally suitable holding. That is the net point. If the Minister is prepared to accept that he can say so.

He has already said so.

He has not.

If he does not say so the amendment should be voted upon now.

Is the amendment withdrawn?

As there seems to be a lot of quibbling, I suggest that Deputy Davin should wait until the Report Stage. If he is not then satisfied with the amendment moved by the Minister he can move his own amendment, and nothing will be lost. In the meantime the Minister will have an opportunity of meeting the case. That is only fair.

The Minister, quite unconsciously, has made it appear that I am making a case for people who are not genuine evicted tenants. I am doing no such thing.

The Minister has offered to meet Deputy Davin and, if he is not satisfied, he can move the amendment on the Report Stage.

Why the quibbling?

You are quibbling since 1923. I brought home an evicted tenant and he was kicked out. I brought an evicted tenant home from America and the military were sent to evict him.

Is the amendment withdrawn?

I gave Deputy Davin an assurance regarding any genuine evicted tenant, or a genuine representative of an evicted tenant. I am prepared to bring in an amendment on the Report Stage that will make it mandatory on the Land Commission to divide land within a reasonable period, for genuine evicted tenants, or the representatives of genuine evicted tenants, competent to work land.

Competent to work land.

That is discretionary power.

If Deputy Davin is not satisfied on the Report Stage, he can move his own amendment.

Mr. Rice

Apart from the Deputy who moved the amendment the rest of the House are entitled to consider it.

Why did you not move it since 1923?

I am not asking Deputy Davin to withdraw the amendment. If he likes he can move it on the Report Stage.

In view of the Minister's statement that there will be an opportunity of considering the matter on the Report Stage, I think there is no use in dividing. I suggest to Deputy Davin that he should withdraw the amendment now.

Cold feet?

Why withdraw it? This question has been discussed by the House and it is the desire that a vote should be taken on it.

Question put—"That the said new section be there inserted."
The Committee divided: Tá, 40; Níl, 43.

  • Alton, Ernest Henry.
  • Beckett, James Walter.
  • Belton, Patrick.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Burke, Patrick.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Costello, John Aloysius.
  • Curran, Richard.
  • Daly, Patrick.
  • Davin, William.
  • Davis, Michael.
  • Desmond, William.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Morrisroe, James.
  • Murphy, James Edward.
  • O'Connor, Batt.
  • O'Donovan, Timothy Joseph.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Mahony, The.
  • Dolan, James Nicholas.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Grattan.
  • Everett, James.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Fitzgerald, Desmond.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
  • Holohan, Richard.
  • Kent, William Rice.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • MacDermot, Frank.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • McGuire, James Ivan.
  • O'Sullivan, Gearoid.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Pattison, James P.
  • Rice, Vincent.
  • Roddy, Martin.
  • Wall, Nicholas.

Níl

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Browne, William Frazer.
  • Cleary, Mícheál.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Cooney, Eamonn.
  • Corry, Martin John.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Donnelly, Eamon.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • O'Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Doherty, Joseph.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C. (Dr.).
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Davin and Everett; Níl: Deputies Little and Smith.
Question declared lost.

I beg to move amendment 128:—

Before Section 29 to insert a new section as follows:—

Any person who is at the passing of this Act in occupation of a cottage and/or an allotment provided under the Labourers (Ireland) Acts, 1883 to 1919, shall be provided, after application in a form to be prescribed under this Act, by the Land Commission with an additional parcel of land of not less than five acres in extent whenever land is being divided in any area or district.

I think it is only right that, where it is possible, additional land should be allotted to the tenants of labourers' cottages. During the last couple of years no class in the community has suffered as much as the workers in the rural areas. Every increase of rates on the bigger farmers and every tariff meant a reduction of wages for the agricultural worker. In many cases, where there are large estates convenient to labourers' cottages, the tenants of the cottages are unable to get even a pint of milk from the owners of the estate. Even the men employed on the estate have to pay 6d. a quart for milk. After the last election the owner of an estate in the constituency which Deputy Moore and I come from reduced the working week of the tenants employed on his estate and he told them that that was the result of voting for the Labour and the Fianna Fáil candidates.

The tenants of labourers' cottages have only half an acre of very bad land. In the old days when cottages were being built the worst portions of land were allotted to the labourers. If their holdings could be extended in the way I suggest then, when there would be very little work available outside, those tenants would have an opportunity of providing food for their families. They would be in a position to feed cattle and carry out a considerable amount of tillage. I am sure this amendment will meet with the approval of all sections in the House. The amendment merely seeks to grant tenants of labourers' cottages additional parcels of land whenever land is being divided in any district. Those men are familiar with agricultural work and this will enable them to pay their rents and educate their children. If there are any further dismissals from employment in agricultural areas, those men can be occupied tilling their own land. I trust the Minister will give this amendment sympathetic consideration.

The Deputy is aware, of course, that at the present time there are 42,000 occupiers of labourers' cottages throughout the country. He cannot be unaware that a large number of the occupants of these cottages are not agricultural labourers. There has been a controversy raging up and down the country at the different county councils as to whether or not a man who was not a genuine agricultural labourer should be left in a cottage. Statements have been made at the different county councils that cottages are occupied by school teachers, hackney car owners, engineers, and different other types of the professional and artisan classes. The practice of the Land Commission has been that wherever and whenever an estate has been divided and where the occupants of labourers' cottages on the estate or tenants on the estate are competent to work the land such people get perhaps a few acres and sometimes an economic holding.

There were three estates divided within the last year or so and in one of them in County Meath the total number of allotments was 20. Of these, seven went to occupants of labourers' cottages. They got between them an area of 98 acres at a price of £1,079. In another case in Tipperary the total number of allotments was 22. Of these, three were occupants of labourers' cottages, and these got between them 43 acres and 3 perches of land, costing £666. In another case in Tipperary there were 24 allotments made on the estate; two of these were occupants of labourers' cottages and they got between them 59 acres at a price of £768.

I have every sympathy with the man who wants to provide economic holdings for the occupants of labourers' cottages, when these are people who can work an economic holding. I am in favour of giving allotments where the occupant of a labourer's cottage is a man who can work the land, and work an additional couple of acres, put a cow on it to get milk for his children, keep some hens and have eggs for his family. I think such a man should get the land. But I do not believe that every occupant of a labourer's cottage should get land. I am thoroughly convinced he should not. I know two labourers, occupants of cottages. One of them is a man who works every inch of his half-acre. The other has not even grazed his plot with a goat for the last 20 years. He has done nothing with the land and now, under this amendment we would be compelled to give a man of that class who has wasted his own half-acre another five acres. I certainly would not stand for it.

If a man has shown that he is capable of working the land, that he desires land, and that he would make good use of it, I would be prepared to give him an extra couple of acres or even to give him, if possible, an economic holding. But I am not prepared to give an extra holding to a man who has not proved that he can work the land he already has. I have given the House the figures in three typical estates, to show that the practice of the Land Commission has been to give land to the people living in labourers' cottages whenever these labourers have shown that they are competent to work the land. But to make that a general rule compelling the Land Commission to give land to every occupant of labourers' cottages, whether that occupant is a school teacher, plumber, or agricultural labourer, is a principle for which I am not going to stand.

I wish to say a few words in support of this amendment. I think the Minister should accept it. Five acres would enable a labourer to keep one cow. There are unfortunate labourers living in labourers' cottages who are paying 3/- or 4/- a week for milk. If these had five additional acres of land they would be able to keep a cow and calf. In my own constituency there are, at present, estates held by the Government which they could break up and in that way give five acres to each labourer living in the district around that estate. In my constituency there are over 5,000 labourers' cottages and each and every one of these labourers are capable of working the land. They are all agricultural labourers. For this reason I ask the Minister to accept the amendment.

It is quite true that the Minister can take up exceptional cases, either in his own county or in any county in the State, where the tenants of labourers' cottages possibly are not all working the small holdings attached to their cottages, but I think it is quite true also to say that the boards of health have power to deal with individuals of that kind. This amendment is put forward because it has been our experience, and it certainly is my experience in my constituency of Leix and Offaly that in no case has any cottage tenant got any addition to his small holding, out of any estates divided in that constituency. I certainly made strong representations and protests to the Land Commission in several cases where they declined to deal with such applications in the past and where cottage tenants were living adjacent to the estates. I presume the estates that the Minister quoted have been divided since the Fianna Fáil Government came into office and to that extent it is certainly an advance on the previous position.

Mr. Hogan

I beg your pardon, that is not so.

The Land Commission officials in making inquiry as to the suitability of applicants for land under the 1923 Act scarcely ever took into consideration the names of the applicants who resided in labourers' cottages. There is one Deputy sitting on the Opposition Benches who is aware that I made protest to him against the action of a Land Commission official on two occasions. That official told the applicants that no applicant residing in a labourers' cottage would be considered for an addition to his holding. I am surprised to hear that there is even one case where a school teacher is residing in a labourer's cottage. That, certainly is not any great credit to the board of health concerned, because certainly there are more suitable and deserving local applicants for that cottage, people who would be more entitled to it than a school teacher. It would be interesting to know in what county that is. I am certain that if it were known, that county board of health would get a very bad reputation for its administration.

This matter has been carefully considered by the Labour Party before we put down this amendment. I know of very few cases where occupiers of a labourer's cottage would have the courage to apply for an economic holding. The majority of men who live in labourers' cottages, so far as my knowledge of such people goes, are men who are employed by the county council as road workers or employed as agricultural labourers, or in the outskirts of the towns, employed by the shopkeepers. In such cases it is impossible for the occupiers of labourers' cottages to produce enough food to maintain themselves and their families on their three-quarters of an acre and at the same time provide grass for a cow and a calf or two. The intention behind the minds of the people responsible for this amendment is that five acres should be made available where land is being divided, so as to provide the occupiers of labourers' cottages with two or three acres for grass and enough land to produce potatoes and vegetables for the support of the occupier and his family. That is the intention behind the amendment. I am prepared to admit, and the Minister will have to admit it also, that possibly in the case of those two bad tenants he has in mind there will be no land made available for division in that area, and in such a case it would be impossible for the Land Commission to provide this addition to the holding which he has in mind.

I put this to Deputy Davin. If, within the terms of his amendment, land falls into the hands of the Land Commission and if there is a man living in a labourer's cottage on the estate who has failed to work the half-acre or acre that he has, is the Land Commission to be compelled to give that man five acres?

There might be a reason for that. In the old days the worst half-acre on a farm was selected for the labourer's cottage—the portion that was of little use to the farmer, a barren place or a piece of bog or rock.

Supposing he is in possession of an acre of good land and he failed to work that land or stock it for the last five or ten years, is the Land Commission to be compelled to give that man an additional five acres?

Deputy Davin has completely misconceived the position. Under the 1923 Act the Land Commission always gave land to the labourers who were put out of employment, by reason of the division of an estate, whether they lived in labourers cottages or not. I know plenty of cases where labourers to the number of ten or 12 got economic holdings on an estate. Deputy Davin also said that the procedure of the Land Commission, as outlined by the Acting-Minister in that statement he read out, was an advance on the previous position. It is not. It is a retrograde step, because what is happening is that seven labourers are getting 98 acres, that is, 14 acres apiece. The labourers are now getting uneconomic holdings. I know that of my own knowledge. They are getting holdings of £6 or £7 valuation. Deputy Davin considers that that is an advance. It is not an advance. He said that was an improvement on the procedure adopted by the Land Commission under a previous dispensation. It is not an improvement. It is a very decided retrograde step. Personally, I regard it as extremely bad policy to give less than an economic holding to anybody. Deputy Davin spoke about the labourer who has to get work on the roads or to get work near towns from local farmers. What is going to happen to that labourer when all that work stops, as stop it will? The work from the local farmers will stop when this Bill is in operation, because most of the farmers who give employment to labourers will have their land taken from them. The work on the roads will stop when the money runs short, and that is not going to last very long. What will be the position either of the labourer whom the Minister speaks of who has a 14 acre holding or a £6 valuation holding, or the labourer whom Deputy Davin is interested in and who has to live on six acres of land? I will tell you where we are going—we are going back to 1848. Even before this Bill is passed in my own county I saw estates divided and holdings given to landless men of 15 or 16 acres of poor land, the valuation of which would be about £7. There is a new definition now of an economic holding. The economic holdings that were made under previous Acts were between £12 and £20 valuation and sometimes up to £25. It is now cut down always by one-third, and often by one-half. You will have a new class of small tenants whose standard of living will be extraordinarily low. That has happened already and it is certain to happen under the Bill which is to deal with congestion and landless men. There will be a new class of tenant whose condition will be worse than the occupier of a holding of £3 valuation in 1848 or 1860.

I do not want to be unfair to Deputy Hogan or to misrepresent the position during his régime, because I know that when an estate was acquired and divided the men who lost their employment as a result of the acquisition of such an estate were almost in all cases that I know of provided for. The Minister has read out a list which I believe includes the names of occupiers of labourers' cottages who were not employed on the estates concerned and that is what I say is an advance on the previous position in so far as I cannot give the name of one occupier of a labourer's cottage not employed on the estate who got any land under the Act of 1923 in my constituency.

What good is six acres to a man anyway?

I would ask the Minister to accept the amendment. I would ask him to be big enough not to mind the officials in the Land Commission and let them do their work which they failed to do up to this.

Question put: "That the new section be there inserted."
The Committee divided: Tá, 26; Níl, 45.

  • Beckett, James Walter.
  • Belton, Patrick.
  • Broderick, William Joseph.
  • Burke, James Michael.
  • Burke, Patrick.
  • Coburn, James.
  • Corish, Richard.
  • Costello, John Aloysius.
  • Daly, Patrick.
  • Davin, William.
  • Davis, Michael.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Grattan.
  • Everett, James.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • McGuire, James Ivan.
  • Morrisroe, James.
  • Murphy, James Edward.
  • O'Connor, Batt.
  • O'Donovan, Timothy Joseph.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • Pattison, James P.
  • Rice, Vincent.
  • Wall, Nicholas.

Níl

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Browne, William Frazer.
  • Cleary, Mícheál.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Corkery, Daniel.
  • Corry, Martin John.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Donnelly, Eamon.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Keely, Séamus P.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • O'Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Doherty, Joseph.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C. (Dr.).
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Corish and Everett; Níl: Deputies Little and Smith.
Question declared lost.

I move amendment 129:—

In sub-section (1), page 22, line 47, to delete the words "notwithstanding that the price has not been agreed upon or fixed."

I think this amendment is covered by the next amendment in the name of the Minister. The only point I would like to be certain about is that payment will be made to the landlord on a fixed date, and the object of the amendment is to provide that it should be made on the appointed day. A long time may elapse between the appointed day and the time when the price is fixed, and in that time the value of land may appreciate or depreciate. I want to provide that the landlord shall be secured and that the value of the land should be prescribed. I think, as I say, that the object of the amendment is covered by amendment 130.

Is amendment 131 also covered by 130?

Mr. Rice

It raises the same question. In sub-section (2), after the word "behalf" it proposes to add the words "and at the value of the lands on the appointed day". The section gives power to take untenanted land and to fix the price provisionally. Sub-section (2) provides "In default of agreement the price of lands in respect of which the appointed day has been declared under the foregoing sub-section of this section shall be fixed in accordance with the provision of the Land Purchase Acts in that behalf". My amendment proposes to add to these words in order to make it definite and clear what, I think, the section proposes to do, that is, to declare the value of the land on the appointed day. The value of the land may change in favour or against the Land Commission but I think it is the intention of the Minister to fix the price on the appointed day. It may work in his favour in some cases or against him in others, but it would prevent litigation and disputes as to what the real date is. I suggest that the Minister might accept that amendment.

I think it is covered by amendment 130.

Mr. Rice

With great respect I do not think it is covered. This section stands by itself. A good deal of argument could be put in on the construction of the section as it stands, that it does not mean the appointed day and that it may mean another date.

Amendment 129 by leave withdrawn.

I move amendment 130:—

In sub-section (2), line 52, after the word "fixed" to insert the words "by reference to the value thereof as on the appointed day".

Amendment agreed to.

I am advised that No. 131 is covered by No. 130.

Mr. Rice

I do not know. It is a different sub-section, dealing with a specific case, and I am not quite satisfied that it is covered.

It is the same sub-section.

Amendment 131 not moved.

I move amendment 132:—

In sub-section (4), page 23, line 14, to insert after the word "interest" the words and brackets "(less Income Tax)".

Sub-section (3) provides that the vendor is entitled to receive interest on the amount of the bonds, less income tax. In the following sub-section there is also reference to the interest to be paid on the bonds, and there is no provision for the deduction of income tax. I want to make it perfectly clear, and I am sure the Minister will accept the amendment, that income tax is not going to be deducted twice over. It would appear from sub-section (3) and sub-section (4) that the Minister has a right to deduct it twice over. Line 5, sub-section (3) says:—"...a sum equal to interest (less income tax)." Lines 13 and 14 of sub-section (4) refer to "the amount so paid into the Land Bond Fund, together with the interest paid on the bonds..." There is no mention of income tax there.

Under the Income Tax Acts, income tax must be deducted at the full standard rate from the interest on land bonds. It may be that the recipient of the interest is entitled to repayment from the Revenue Commissioners of the tax so deducted. If he has in fact obtained repayment of such tax obviously he is not entitled to deduct the same tax from the interest which the Land Commission calls upon him to refund under sub-section (4).

I see the point.

If he has not already claimed relief or repayment from the Revenue Commissioners it is open to him to do so immediately the interest has been refunded to the Land Commission.

Amendment 132 by leave withdrawn.

Mr. Rice

I move amendment No. 133:—

In sub-section (5), line 25, to delete the figures "25" and substitute the word "ten."

The sub-section provides that in relation to guarantee deposits the provisions of the Act of 1931 shall apply in the case of untenanted land for which a provisional price has been declared under this section, with the modification that the deposit shall be 25 per cent. of the provisional price. That seems to me to be too large a sum to require as deposit. The price will always be fixed within a very narrow margin, and I therefore suggest to the Minister that he should accept the amendment.

If there is not a fairly wide margin naturally the tendency with the Land Commission will be to play safe. The provisional price will not be in operation very long, I hope, and I think it is better that the Land Commission should have a margin of 25 per cent.

Mr. Rice

I see the force of what the Minister says, but I do suggest that 25 per cent. is too high. Would the Minister consider the figure of 15 per cent? Twenty-five per cent. is an enormous proportion having regard to the competency of the valuers who act for the Land Commission. It seems incredible that there would be such a wide margin.

The provisional price, I presume, will be based on the inspector's valuation of the land. It is scarcely conceivable that there would be such a margin between the inspector's valuation and the price which would ultimately be fixed by the appeal tribunal. Taking the cases which passed through the Land Commission for, let us say, the last six months, it will be found that there is scarcely a difference of 5 per cent.

The Attorney-General

It would meet the point if we made it the same as in the case of tenanted land—10 per cent., but in any case not exceeding 25 per cent., as the judicial commissioner shall think fit.

Twenty-five per cent. would be far too high.

The Attorney-General

I am suggesting "but not exceeding 25 per cent. as the judicial commissioner shall think fit." I suggest "10 per cent., or such greater sum as the judicial commissioner may think fit, but not exceeding 25 per cent."

Not exceeding 20 per cent.

Mr. Rice

Make it 20 per cent. Twenty-five per cent. is too wide a margin.

The Attorney-General

The Land Commission will not apply it unless it is thought reasonable.

It might happen that quite a long period would elapse.

The Attorney-General

It will not be put as high as 25 per cent. unless there are strong reasons for doing so.

Twenty-five per cent. is mentioned quite specifically.

The Attorney-General

I am suggesting the acceptance of an amendment to make it read as I have said.

Amendment 133, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment 134:—

At the end of the section to add a new sub-section as follows:—

(6) Notwithstanding anything in Section 36 of the Land Act, 1931, interest on land bonds advanced as the price of untenanted lands for which a provisional price has been declared under this section shall be paid to the person appearing to the Land Commission to be the owner of the lands prior to the purchase, but the judicial commissioner may, on the application of any interested person, direct that such interest or any part thereof shall be paid to such interested person.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Rice

The amendment moved by the Minister meets the principle of my amendment No. 135.

Amendment 135 not moved.
Question—"That Section 29, as amended, stand part of the Bill"—put and agreed to.
SECTION 30.
(1) Where the Land Commission propose to exercise their powers of resumption of a holding in whole or in part they shall give notice in the prescribed manner to the persons appearing to be in occupation of the holding as tenant of their intention to resume the holding in whole or in part unless within the prescribed time a petition is presented to the Land Commission praying that the holding or the part thereof (as the case may be) be not resumed without further inquiry.
(2) If any such petition as aforesaid is presented, questions arising under it shall be considered and determined by the lay commissioners whose determination shall be final subject only to an appeal to the tribunal on a question of law.
(3) If no such petition as aforesaid is presented, or if any such petition is presented and refused, the lay commissioners may certify that the holding or part thereof is required by the Land Commission in exercise of their powers of resumption, and the court shall, upon the application of the Land Commission, authorise the resumption of the holding in whole or in part, as so certified to be required, and where lay commissioners also certify that it is expedient that the holding should be available for immediate distribution, the court shall thereupon authorise the Land Commission to enter into possession of the holding, notwithstanding that the resumption price may not have been fixed, and in that case on the resumption price being fixed there shall be payable by the Land Commission to the person entitled thereto, interest on the resumption price at the rate per annum at which interest is payable on the issue of land bonds made in payment of the resumption price from the date on which the Land Commission went into possession of the holding to the date of the issue of the land bonds in payment of the resumption price.

I move amendment 136:—

In sub-section (2), line 36, after the word "the" to insert the word "appeal."

This is purely a drafting amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Rice

I move amendment 137:—

In sub-section (2), to delete in line 36 the words "on a question of law."

That is to say that where a petition is presented and questions arising under it are to be considered by the lay commissioners their determination shall be final, subject only to an appeal to the tribunal. We propose to delete the words "on a question of law." We think every question that arises for consideration might be left to the tribunal to settle, whether it is a question of law or a question of fact.

I cannot accept that amendment.

There is then no appeal of any kind from the Commissioners on the resumption of a holding. A holding may be resumed by the Land Commission, that is to say, by the lay commissioners, without any appeal of any kind. A £4,000 or £5,000 holding may be resumed without any appeal to any tribunal. Remember the discussion which took place on the constitution of the tribunal; the Minister carried his point. Here is a case of the resumption of tenanted land, and there is to be no appeal of any kind. That is a most extraordinary state of affairs.

Might I appeal to the Minister to reconsider his decision, so as to accelerate the progress of the Bill? It is not an unreasonable amendment.

I suggest that the Deputy put it down again on the Report Stage.

Amendment 137, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment 138:—

In sub-section (3), after the word "holding," line 46, to delete the words "notwithstanding that the resumption price may not have been fixed" and substitute the words "on the date on which the resumption price shall have been determined."

I do not think the Minister will have any objection to accepting that amendment. It really does not impose any hardship on the Land Commission, and it does help to facilitate the tenant from whom the land is being resumed.

This section is more or less on the same lines as Section 29.

I admit that.

If the Deputy's amendment were accepted it would take us back to where we are at the moment. What we are trying to do is to acquire lands and to divide lands on a provisional price basis.

My amendment only relates to the question of price.

Yes, but the principle of Section 29 is that the Land Commission will have the right to go in on land even though the price has not been finally determined. The same principle is in Section 30.

The Attorney-General

It would alter the whole section if this amendment were put in.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 139:—

At the end of the section to add a new sub-section as follows:—

If any such petition as aforesaid is granted then it shall not be lawful for the Land Commission to exercise their powers of resumption and the holding shall be vested in the tenant.

Sub-section (1) of Section 30 provides that a tenant of a holding shall have the right to petition the Land Commission against the resumption of that particular holding. Following on that, procedure is laid down by means of which the Land Commission shall determine or shall deal with that petition. I propose to add at the end of the section that if such a petition is granted it shall not be lawful for the Land Commission to exercise their powers of resumption and that the holding shall be vested in the tenant. I do not know whether it is necessary to add a sub-section of that kind at all. The vesting of the holding in the tenant following the grant of the petition should be a purely automatic process. I do not imagine that the Minister will have any objection to accepting this amendment of mine.

The position is that if the Land Commission decide not to resume a holding, they automatically vest it in the tenant.

I want to make that perfectly clear.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 30, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
SECTION 31.
(1) Where the lay commissioners certify, before the appointed day, that any land is required for the purpose of resale to the persons or bodies mentioned in Section 31 of the Land Act, 1923, the Land Commission shall have and may exercise in respect of such lands all or any of the powers that they have in relation to acquiring lands for the relief of congestion.

I move amendment No. 140:—

In sub-section (1), line 56, page 23, after the word "land" to insert the words "other than land purchased under the provisions of the Land Purchase Acts."

Under Section 31 of the Land Act of 1923 it is provided that advances may be made to the following persons or bodies for the purchase by them from the Land Commission of parcels of land:

(a) A person being the tenant or proprietor of a holding which in the opinion of the Land Commission is not an economic holding.

(b) A person who has entered into agreement with the Land Commission for the exchange of his holding.

(c) A person who was evicted within 25 years before the passing of the Land Act of 1923.

(d) A person being a labourer who by reason of the sale of any lands under the provisions of the Land Purchase Acts has been deprived of his employment, and

(f) any other person to whom in the opinion of the Land Commission an advance ought to be made.

The last provision of course covers landless men. The Minister has stated that Section 31 gives him much greater power to deal, not alone with the problem of congestion but with the problem of landless men and other classes, than he had under the previous Land Acts. In this amendment I want to limit the Minister's powers to acquire only untenanted land under this particular section for the purpose of dealing with certain classes of persons mentioned in Section 31 of the Land Act of 1923. I want chiefly to insure that registered land or purchased land shall be utilised only for the purpose of relieving congestion. Section 31 as it is worded undoubtedly gives the Minister most extraordinary powers. When Section 31 is related to Section 28 the Minister has far greater powers than he had under any previous Land Act for the purposes of acquiring and distributing land to classes of persons mentioned in Section 31 of the 1923 Act. I want to distinguish so far as the acquisition of land is concerned between the operation of Section 31 and Section 28, and to ensure that the land acquired under Section 28 shall be utilised for the purpose of relieving congestion and that that acquired under Section 31 shall be divided for the purposes mentioned in Section 31 of the Land Act of 1923.

I might remind the Deputy that a few moments ago he was very gravely concerned about evicted tenants. There are certain cases where there are evicted tenants and representatives of evicted tenants living alongside men who had the land vested in them—in some cases holding up to 1,500 acres. We cannot touch an acre of that even to deal with the case of the genuine evicted tenant as the law stands. We want to take power to deal with the cases of the evicted tenants.

I think the Minister said that there was only about 200 such tenants. He would not require much land to deal with them.

I did not say that.

Would the Minister consider this? He has protected the £2,000 worth of purchased land in a certain way. He provides in his own Bill that it shall only be taken off a tenant if and when the Land Commission provide a holding of the same market value for the tenant. Would he add this further protection, that that land shall be only taken on the basis set out in the Act for the relief of congestion?

If the Deputy would turn to amendment No. 143 in my name, he would see that I want to take power to provide land so as to include the provision of sportsfields, parks, pleasure grounds, playgrounds and gardens for the inhabitants of villages, towns or cities or for schools. I want to have power under Section 31 to provide even where the land is vested for playgrounds and gardens for villages, towns, cities and schools.

Does the Minister suggest that he is going to take special powers under the Bill for the purpose of providing playgrounds, town parks, etc., by acquiring registered land?

I want to have power to acquire registered land for that purpose.

Purchased land for that purpose?

Yes, where necessary.

Mr. Hogan

That takes my breath away. I thought it was generally understood that it is some hardship, to put it no further, to take £2,000 worth of vested land where a man has a holding working it as an ordinary farmer. I thought it was generally agreed that it was a hardship to take that land. It is agreed by the Government that it is a hardship to take it because they came in with a Bill which gave special rights for the protection of such land. I am suggesting that in addition to the right of protection they provide for such holding, his holding can only be taken if he is paid its market value, and that if he gets a holding of equal market value such holding can only be taken for the relief of congestion. You are dealing only with land worth £2,000 which is worked in accordance with proper methods of husbandry. Would it not be a monstrous thing to take that land?

I would remind Deputy Hogan that that land can be taken compulsorily under other Acts. First of all, it can be taken for the building of labourers' cottages and it can also be taken under different Housing Acts in order to provide building ground. It can be taken under the Shannon scheme, and was taken under the Shannon scheme.

Does the Minister really think that is an analogy? You are taking power here to take it for landless men. That is a different proposition. That is the kind of holding on which there would be only one labourer's cottage at most. I have hardly ever seen a holding of 140 acres with more than one labourer's cottage. Here you are taking power to take the sort of land to which I have referred for landless men, and by that sort of land I mean £2,000 worth of purchased land on which a man and his family live, and which he farms as an ordinary working farmer in accordance with proper methods of husbandry. Is it too much to ask for such protection that it can only be taken for the relief of congestion?

As this amendment stands, it does not apply to £2,000 worth of land only.

I know that, but if the Minister refuses that amendment will he give consideration to the other matter involved on the Report Stage?

I should like to go into that, but as it stands I would not consider it.

Mr. Hogan

I understood the Minister to say that he could not accept the amendment as it stands, but, if he does not, I think he should consider giving it sufficient consideration to see that that sort of farm is protected to the extent that it can only be taken for the relief of congestion.

We will consider that.

Amendment 140, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment 141, which is a drafting amendment:—

In sub-section (1), page 23, line 58, after the figures "1923" to insert the words "as extended by this Act."

Amendment agreed to.

The next amendment, No. 142, I think, is covered, to a very large extent, by what the Minister said to Deputy Hogan with regard to considering the matters raised in these amendments between now and the Report Stage.

Amendment No. 142 not moved.
Section 31, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 32.
Section 24 of the Land Act, 1927, shall, in its application to proceedings in which the Land Commission have withdrawn from the purchase or resumption of lands prior to the passing of this Act, have effect as if all the words from the words "where the Land Commission have withdrawn" to the end of the section were deleted.

I move amendment No. 143:—

Before Section 32 to insert a new section as follows:—

(1) The provisions of Sections 4 and 20 of the Irish Land Act, 1903, and Section 18 of the Irish Land Act, 1909, as extended by Section 69 of the Land Act, 1923, shall be and are hereby further extended so as to include the provision of sports fields, parks, pleasure-grounds, playgrounds, and gardens for the inhabitants of villages, towns or cities, or for schools amongst the purposes for which advances may be made under those sections, and schemes may be framed or amended under the said sections for or so as to include all or any of those purposes.

(2) The trustees mentioned in paragraph (e) of sub-section (1) of Section 31 of the Land Act, 1923, shall include trustees for all or any of the purposes mentioned in the foregoing sub-section of this section.

There would have been a lot of debate on this section were it not for the undertaking given by the Minister that the other matters will be considered on Report Stage. I take it that it will be considered?

Yes, it will be considered.

Amendment No. 143 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 144:—

Before Section 32 to insert a new section as follows:—

(1) Where lands have been vested in a purchaser under any Land Purchase Act prior to the Land Act, 1923, and the sporting rights (including fishing rights) on or over such lands or in the waters adjoining or intersecting such lands were not so vested, the Land Commission may, if of the opinion that it would be for the benefit of the country that such rights should be acquired and that such rights (other than fishing rights) should be vested in the proprietors of the lands on or over which such rights (other than as aforesaid) are exercised as an appurtenance to such lands and if such proprietors are willing to purchase such rights (other than as aforesaid), make an order declaring the appointed day in respect of all such rights and vesting the same in the Land Commission at a price, payable in land bonds, to be fixed (in default of agreement by the lay commissioners subject to a right of appeal to the appeal tribunal.

(2) Section 41 of the Land Act, 1927, shall apply to fishing rights acquired under this section.

I have some doubts about this section and I should like to hear what the Minister has to say about it.

The position at the moment is that with regard to any sporting rights that were vested in the landlord under the old Acts no matter how much local agitation is against the landlord going over the tenant's land, nothing can be done to settle the dispute. We want to take power in this Bill, where the Land Commission sees fit, to acquire those sporting rights and vest them in the tenants who are agreeable to purchase them. With regard to the fishing rights, we want to take the same power as was taken under the 1923 Act under which all the fishing rights were bought up. We want to go back over the old Acts and to purchase these rights that were vested in the old landlords and vest them in the tenants as was done under the 1923 Act.

Amendment No. 144 agreed to.

I beg to move amendment No. 145:—

Before Section 32 to insert a new section as follows:—

Notwithstanding anything in this or other Land Acts no land shall be compulsorily acquired subsequent to the coming into operation of this Act unless the Land Commission are satisfied that such land is not at present providing an amount of employment proportionate to its acreage and character, and for the purpose of computing such employment children of the tenant or proprietor employed on the land shall be taken into account.

The principle of this amendment, standing in my name, as I understand it, has been accepted by the Minister and by the Fianna Fáil Party as a whole. They have frequently indicated, in the course of the debates on this Bill, that in practice no proprietor, or tenant, will be disturbed on his land if the land in question is giving its due amount of employment. If that is so, I suggest that it would be an enormous improvement to this Bill to embody that principle in the Bill and that it would tremendously increase the feeling of security of tenants, or proprietors, of land throughout the country. It would give the Land Commission a valuable working principle on which to go and I suggest it would be a great help to the whole carrying on of agriculture in this country and would enable everybody to feel that he was safe in improving his land and making the very best of it and sinking money in it. As long as the authorities are satisfied that the land was giving its due amount of employment, I think the proprietor of such land should not be disturbed under any pretext.

I should like to hear what Deputy Hogan has to say on that.

If that is so, the Minister will hear from me. I think it is a perfectly sound amendment in the circumstances of this Bill. Personally, I am against the Land Commission, or any other body, telling any man how to work his land, and I take it that so is Deputy MacDermot. But the position now is that in a great many respects it is left to various departments to say what sort of stock a farmer should have and it is not for me to complain about that. The position is generally now for departments to say on what lines lands should be farmed. As Deputy MacDermot pointed out, the principle in this amendment is a principle which has been absolutely accepted by the Government Party. All their public pronouncements have been on the lines that the Bill is not to affect any land that is giving value to the community either from the point of view of production or from the point of view of the number of labourers employed. I should be particularly in favour of this because whatever little land I have supports a rather big number of workmen, but I assure the Acting-Minister that if he had that in his mind in inviting me to speak I am not thinking of that so much.

Under the circumstances of the present time, however, having regard to the length to which this Bill goes and to the insecurity in which tenants are placed, I am entirely in favour of this amendment. One thing seems to me to be clear, and that is that the Government cannot, consistent with any of the statements that they have been making, refuse this amendment. This Bill, if passed into law, will give the Land Commission power to acquire the land of biggish farmers whether they employ much labour or not. It will tend, undoubtedly, to make them feel a sense of insecurity and in that respect, also, the effect of the Bill in future will be that people will do less work, incur less capital expenditure and, therefore, employ less labour.

I am perfectly satisfied that, except for this section, the whole trend of this Bill will be to employ, if you wish, less paid labour on the land. This is the only section that will do anything to counteract that general tendency in the Bill. I think that must be admitted. Every previous section of the Bill will at least have the tendency of preventing owners of land from incurring expenditure and, therefore, of employing labour on whatever land may be left to them. This attempts to counteract that. It is an attempt which is consistent with the declarations made by the Party opposite. Apart from politics altogether, there is no doubt about it that the particular farm which is employing the most labour, is producing most and is doing most for the country. No Party, no matter what their policy on land may be, has ever denied that, or attempted to deny it in public. In that state of affairs I do not see how the Government can refuse to accept this amendment, and particularly I do not see how the Labour Party can vote against if they have any interest other than a political interest in labour. I honestly believe that this may do something to create employment on the land. There are people yet in this country with a certain amount of land, up to 200 acres or thereabouts—I am not speaking of millionaires—who have a certain amount of capital, whose lands would not be taken in any event, and who will feel a sense of security as a result of the passage of this. If they have that provision there it will undoubtedly have the effect of getting them to go in for a type of farming that, while it may not be any more remunerative, will give more employment. I know a few people who happen to have a bit of money who are anxious to hold their land and are thinking on those lines. Apart altogether from the political aspects of this, I believe that the acceptance of the amendment would be a genuine improvement from that point of view to this Act.

As one who comes from another part of the country to that represented by Deputy Hogan, I would urge the Minister to accept the amendment. This would be giving the good farmer the minimum security that he needs. Like most Deputies who have been to their constituencies recently and who have been questioned about this Bill, I personally would be glad to be able to point to such a provision in this Bill: that a farm that is being carried on in a proper way will not be touched. We have had the assurance from the Government Benches and from Government Deputies inside and outside the House that there is no fear whatever that this Bill is going to touch the person who is carrying on in the way that he should carry on. I support Deputy MacDermot's amendment. I would say to the Minister that he would be doing a very good service to this Bill and to the people who want to carry on in the country by accepting the amendment.

Deputy Hogan realises that this is going back on a section that he fought for in 1923: resumption proceedings.

Mr. Hogan

I guessed there would be something like that when I invited the Minister to speak on this.

Under Sections 28 and 29 of the 1923 Act the Land Commission can take land from anybody, from a judicial tenant, and resume his holding no matter how he is working it, even though he is providing employment on it, and need not necessarily give him any land in exchange. That is what all the row was about in the case of the 1923 Act. Also under that Act the Land Commission can take a vested holding for the relief of congestion, but in that case they have to give land equally suitable elsewhere. I must say that I am sympathetic to what Deputy MacDermot is trying to do. The difficulty is to find words that will cover the idea that he has in mind. If we had any standard unit value of land; that one could say that a man who has 20 units of that value was keeping himself and one workman on it, or one son over 18 years of age, it would be easy to legislate, but we have no unit value at the moment. The poor law valuation is not, in fact, in present circumstances any criterion of the value of land.

Would not the Minister agree that the Land Commission would have to take this point into consideration? In any case they would have to try to make some estimate if they were going to do their work well. They have a whole lot of other problems to consider in connection with the acquisition of land that are every bit as difficult as this is: to assess what is the amount of employment the land ought to give. I was speaking quite honestly this afternoon when I said that we wish to be in a position to reassure people's minds throughout the country as to the effect of this Bill. There is nothing that would put us in that position more thoroughly, apart from the withdrawal of the Bill altogether, than the acceptance of this amendment. I have spoken to some members of the Labour Party and find that they are sympathetic to it. I am not surprised, because, as Deputy Hogan has pointed out, there is nothing that could more conduce to using land in the way that would give the greatest amount of employment than a provision of this kind.

I have been informed that agreement was reached by all Parties to finish the Committee Stage of this Bill by nine o'clock. If that is so, is it agreed that all Government amendments be taken now and that all other amendments be left over for Report Stage?

Mr. Hogan

What has the Minister to say with regard to this amendment?

I will consider it between now and the Report Stage. I would like to cover the idea that Deputy MacDermot has in mind, if it is possible to find a form of words without restricting us too much. The Deputy can hold over his amendment for Report Stage, and move it again if I am not able to bring in something to meet him.

Then I am to understand that I can move the amendment again on Report Stage?

Amendment 145 withdrawn.

Mr. Hogan

We are agreeable to have all Government amendments taken now.

SECTION 33.

(3) Clauses (b), (c) and (g) of sub-section (2) of Section 24 of the Land Act, 1923, shall be and are hereby amended....

The following Government amendments moved by the Acting-Minister for Lands and Fisheries were agreed to:—

147.—To delete sub-section (1).

149.—To delete sub-section (2).

154.—In sub-section (3), page 24, line 39, to delete the brackets and letter "(c)".

154a.—Before sub-section (4), to insert a new sub-section as follows:

(4) Where sub-section (1) of Section 24 of the Land Act, 1923, has become or hereafter becomes applicable to any land by virtue of the amendment of that section made by this section, such application of the said sub-section to such land shall not be prejudiced or prevented merely by reason of a previous determination that the said sub-section did not apply to such land.

154b.—To delete sub-section (4).

Section 33, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 34.
Question proposed: "That Section 34 stand part of the Bill."

On the Report Stage, I propose to move an amendment to this section to make it clear that the term "permanently submerged" includes land which is covered by the regular flow of the tides or is lost to cultivation or use by the action of a river or other cause outside the control of the tenant.

What about an embankment that gives away and damages land?

That is covered already.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 35 and 36 agreed to.
SECTION 37.
In considering, pursuant to sub-section (6) of Section 28 of the Land Act, 1923, or Section 11 of the Land Act, 1931, the amount of the advances made under the Land Purchase Acts for the purchase of lands of which the tenant of a holding, to which the Land Act, 1923, and the Acts amending and extending that Act apply, is the proprietor on the appointed day, advances made for the purchase of lands of which the husband or the wife (as the case may be) of such tenant is the proprietor shall be deemed to have been made to such tenant.

I move amendment 158:—

In line 52, after the figures "1923" to insert the words and figures "or Section 33 of that Act."

Amendment agreed to.
Section 37, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 38 to 47 agreed to.
SECTION 48.

I move amendment 167a:—

Before Section 48 to insert a new section as follows:—

(1) The Land Commission when distributing the purchase money of an estate shall deduct from the amount of the purchase money payable to any person any debt due or payable by such person to any Minister or Government Department of which the Land Commission has received notice before the making of payment to such person.

(2) When the amount of any such debt has not been ascertained the Land Commission shall retain such sum as the Minister or Government Department requires out of the amount of the purchase money to which the person by whom such debt is due or payable is entitled until he has delivered the necessary accounts or made the necessary returns to enable the Minister or Department to whom or to which such debt is due to determine its exact amount and such exact amount has been determined.

Is that inserted at the instance of the Revenue Commissioners?

At my instance.

It seems extraordinary.

I want to raise a point on this.

It can be dealt with on the Report Stage.

I suggest that this amendment should be left over.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 48, as amended, agreed to.

On the Report Stage I will bring in an amendment to amend Section 73 of the 1923 Act to give the Land Commission power to admit to the benefits of the Land Acts a tenancy expressed to be for temporary convenience if on consideration of all the circumstances they come to the conclusion that the expression was inserted in the instrument of tenancy in order to exclude a tenancy when in fact there was no real temporary convenience to be served.

From that point of view would the Minister consider amending the definition section to deal with agistment or grazing tenancy in lands under lease?

I will consider it.

Mr. Hogan

So that the whole tenure of the agreement will be taken into the agreement.

And not what is in the lease.

Mr. Hogan

Are there any non-Government amendments which we have not reached, to the principle of which the Minister would agree?

I do not think so. As to amendment 161 in the name of Deputy G. O'Sullivan, I will bring in an amendment to change the wording.

Will the Minister consider Section 38 again on the Report Stage?

Yes. I also want to bring in a drafting amendment to Section 21, so that a funding annuity may be charged on a holding as if it were an ordinary advance, and a drafting amendment to Section 12 (6) (c) page 9, line 24 to insert the words "and additional sums" after the words "annual sums."

Title agreed to.
Bill ordered to be reported, with amendments.
Report Stage ordered for Tuesday next.