Land Bill, 1933—Report Stage (Resumed).

Debate resumed on amendment 39:—
In page 23, Section 32 (1), line 57, after the word "play-grounds," to insert the words "aircraft landing-grounds."

Might I ask the Minister for Local Government and Public Health if he would so far forestall the circulation of the Town Planning Bill as to tell us whether it will be able to cover the points which I raised last night with reference to the establishment of landing-grounds and aerodromes in areas surrounding cities and large towns? The Bill as introduced to-day is "a Bill entitled an Act to make provision for the orderly and progressive development of cities, towns, and other areas, whether urban or rural, and to preserve and improve the amenities thereof and for other matters connected therewith." If that Bill is really to be carried out I would be willing to postpone consideration of this matter until the Town Planning Bill comes on, but up to the present I have had no indication that the Bill to be brought in will include such places as tourist centres and seaside resorts which will in the future require proper landing facilities. If the Minister can tell us that the coming Bill will be able to deal with such matters then perhaps it would be better to postpone consideration of the provision of facilities for local authorities to obtain land for landing grounds until that time. Perhaps the Minister would inform us on the point.

Amendment put and declared negatived.

Amendment No. 40 not moved.

I move amendment No. 40a:—

In page 24, Section 34, line 21, to delete the word "prior" and substitute the word "subsequent".

I put down this amendment really for the purpose of ascertaining from the Minister his reason for introducing Section 34 into this Bill at all. As far as I am aware this Bill deals with only four or five cases. There are only four or five cases where the Land Commission has withdrawn from acquisition proceedings because of the price fixed by the judicial commissioner. In some of those cases I do know that the Land Commission subsequently proceeded to acquire a small area of land from the tenant or proprietor, which in the opinion of the Land Commission was considered suitable for the purpose of relieving the congestion prevailing in that particular area. I think it is grossly unfair to those tenants that they should be treated in the manner which the Minister proposes under this particular section. They were first of all notified by the Land Commission that it was proposed to acquire their land. Subsequently they were notified by the Land Commission that they had withdrawn from the proceedings. In certain cases as I say the Land Commission subsequently, by arrangement with the proprietor, acquired a certain portion of his land for the purpose of dealing with the congestion in the particular neighbourhood. In the meantime that tenant may have proceeded to spend a certain amount of money in developing and improving that land. After the spending of that money, and after the Land Commission, by virtue of their withdrawal from the proceedings, giving the tenant a certain extra vested right in those lands, the Minister now proposes to come along and take the balance of the lands from him. I wonder was the Minister really aware of the nature of the hardship which he was inflicting on this class of tenants when he introduced this section. I should be glad if the Minister would give us some explanation as to what is his real intention in incorporating a section of that kind in the Bill.

The position is that the Land Commission have in a number of cases been compelled to withdraw because of the price fixed.

In how many cases?

I do not know how many cases.

Would there be four or five?

I really do not know.

I do not think there would be even so many.

On the general principle, we are taking power, where we have altered the law in other parts of the section, to allow cases to be reopened where they have been heard before when the law was in a different state. The Deputy will notice that in several sections we are taking power, where there was a seven years' stay, to reopen the case immediately after the passing of this Act, and then allow the seven years' stay to operate in the future.

Surely the Minister will appreciate that some of those tenants are in a different category from the tenants with whom he has dealt in other sections of this Bill. Take the case of the tenant I mentioned a moment ago who was notified by the Land Commission that they had withdrawn from the proceedings. That tenant was subsequently approached by the Land Commission, and by mutual agreement between the Land Commission and the tenant a certain area of land was acquired, which area was, in the opinion of the Land Commission, adequate to deal with congestion in the area of this particular land. That tenant, by virtue of the security which he assumed he possessed, or at least should possess, probably proceeded to spend quite a substantial sum of money in improving and developing that land. The Minister will recognise that in view of what happened in the past, in view of the fact that the Land Commission had to withdraw from the proceedings initiated compulsorily to acquire the land, that he has got a vested right in the land and his case is in a somewhat different category from the case of the ordinary tenant. Surely the Minister will recognise that in bare justice and in equity that tenant deserves some special consideration. That tenant may have spent quite a substantial sum of money on the land. I have in mind one case at the moment where I understand the tenant has spent some £400 or £500 in developing the portion of the land left to him by the Land Commission. Now the Minister comes along and by virtue of this section takes power to acquire that land from the tenant. The Minister will recognise and appreciate that this section will involve a certain hardship on a tenant of that kind. As I say, there are only three or four cases altogether. I do not imagine that a case has arisen since I left the Land Commission. Certainly in two or three of these cases the Land Commission acquired, by mutual arrangements with tenants, an area of land sufficient to deal with the problem of congestion in the neighbourhood of the land which they proceeded originally to acquire compulsorily.

The Deputy is speaking of resumed holdings. There are other than resumed holdings involved.

I am not speaking of resumed holdings at all. I am speaking generally.

The Deputy is speaking as if nothing but resumed holdings were involved. He has also spoken without any reference to the new Section 31 which gives to resumed holdings a protection which they had not under the 1923 Land Act.

The new Section 31?

I am referring to amendment 36 which brings in a new sub-section. I do not think there is any reason for the Deputy to be worried about the matter.

It seems to me this amendment does not protect this class of tenant at all. This tenant will be dealt with exclusively under Section 34. Amendment No. 36 does not provide any protection for the tenant.

If it does not, he had better get to work.

Would the Minister consider, so as to cover the extreme case I mentioned a while ago, amending the section when the Bill comes before the Seanad? I am prepared to withdraw this amendment if he will give a guarantee that the section will not operate in any case where hardship or injustice is going to be imposed on such a tenant.

The Deputy knows that as the law stands there is protection. We have taken power to review cases dealt with in the last seven years and then the seven years clause will operate again.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 41:—

In page 25, Section 36, to add at the end of the section a new sub-section as follows:—

(6) Land which is as a result of coast erosion periodically covered by tidal water or is by reason of coastal or other erosion or other similar cause incapable of being cultivated or used for purposes of agriculture or pasture shall, for the purposes of this section be deemed to be permanently submerged owing to coast erosion.

This amendment has reference to Section 36. There are other cases where damage is sometimes caused by embankments. I mean that permanent flooding or what is tantamount to permanent flooding is caused sometimes by breaches in embankments. It appears to me that if the Minister is going to deal with all cases, as presumably it is his intention to deal with all cases, where land is subject to permanent flooding, he should take into consideration as well cases where land has been flooded, almost permanently flooded for many years past, on account of breaches or certain imperfections in an embankment. There are some cases in Limerick and a few other cases in Waterford. The later sections of the Bill do not deal with these. There is a provision in the Bill dealing with embankments but it does not deal with the annuity on the part submerged.

This section was drafted having these cases in mind — breaches in embankments not arising out of the owner's fault. It deals also with "coastal erosion,""other erosion,""or other similar cause."

I am worried about the wording of the section —"other similar cause." Surely a breach in an embankment would not be a cause similar to coastal erosion?

"Or other erosion."

It appears to me that the section as worded does not cover the embankment cases I have just mentioned.

The Attorney-General

I think the Deputy is right. I do not think it would cover them.

I have a recollection that there was a case of that kind tried in court some time ago and if the Attorney-General will look up the decision he will probably find that what I say is correct.

It was drafted to cover breaches in embankments.

"Erosion" distinctly has a definite legal meaning and the words used in the section will not cover breaches in embankments.

Does the wording "or other similar cause" mean anything in that case? You have the terms "coast erosion" and "coastal or other erosion or other similar cause." What would be covered by "a cause similar to erosion"?

The Parliamentary draftsman was told that we wanted to cover breaches of embankments, coastal erosion, and land covered by blowing sand and permanently submerged.

It would cover land submerged by blowing sand.

These were the instructions to the draftsman and he advises us that it has been covered. However, we can examine it again to see if there is anything to be added.

I should like to know from the Minister if he would look into this aspect of the case when re-examining it. The amendment reads: "Land which is as a result of coast erosion periodically covered by tidal waters or is by reason of coastal or other erosion or other similar cause incapable of being cultivated or used for purposes or agriculture or pasture, shall, for the purposes of this section, be deemed to be permanently submerged owing to coast erosion." Has the Minister considered the full significance of the words "or other similar cause"? It seems to me to be very wide.

The Attorney-General

It would be construedejusdem generis with the rest of the section.

Perhaps the Attorney-General will give that matter consideration when the amendment is being reconsidered.

The Attorney-General

That was considered. The effect of the words was carefully considered.

Does the Minister intend lands of this kind which are permanently submerged to be alienated from the previous owner or will he still continue in ownership?

The land annuity will be wiped out.

Will the previous owner have any title to the land partly submerged?

He will, if he can stake his claim. All that is happening is that the annuity will be wiped out. If the Deputy is referring to the tenant who has been paying land annuities he will continue in ownership of the permanently submerged land. All that is happening is that we are wiping out the land annuity.

If the Minister says that, a very peculiar situation is going to arise. Suppose the piece flooded is alienated from the tenant, by analogy you might have a situation arising where a strip of land through a man's holding was eroded——

The Attorney-General

The removal of the annuity will not affect his title.

I am advised, anyway, that he will own as far as the high-water mark inland.

I should like to call the Minister's attention to the condition of the farmers in the valley of the Blackwater. A great deal of the lands of these farmers has been flooded from time to time on account of erosion. I should like to know from the Minister if this clause covers the case of those tenants as well as the case of the farmers along the coast. Several complaints have been made from time to time from farmers along the Blackwater. Floods encroach on their lands from time to time and oftentimes their stock and produce are destroyed.

Any lands, coastal or inland, which are permanently submerged, are covered.

Does the Minister seriously intend to strike the land annuities off every land flooded in this country?

Permanently flooded.

The amendment says:—

Land which is as the result of coast erosion periodically covered by a tidal water or is by reason of coastal or other erosion or other similar cause incapable of being cultivated or used for purposes of agriculture or pasture shall, for the purpose of this section, be deemed to be permanently submerged owing to coast erosion.

Very well. Take the case of land that is eroded or inundated by rivers or inland waters of any kind: if the land has sufficiently deteriorated by reason of these periodic submersions, is that land to be deemed to be permanently submerged? If such land is deemed to be permanently submerged, the fortunes of every farmer in a drainage area are going to be affected. Personally, I and all my neighbours along the Lung River are affected because our lands are extensively submerged every winter and this flooding makes the land unfit for agricultural purposes.

The word "periodically" only means land covered by tidal waters. The original section only applied to lands permanently submerged, while lands covered by tidal waters are not permanently submerged. It might be held that they are only covered by water for about six hours. The word "periodically" simply refers to lands flooded by tidal waters. The other lands must be permanently submerged to the extent that they are incapable of being used for purposes of agriculture or pasture and it must not arise from the fault of the tenant.

Does it only refer to lands flooded by tidal waters? Does it refer to flooding by inland waters?

Yes, where the flooding is periodical.

Does the Minister intend that there would be any alienation of the previous rights of owners over the land that is periodically flooded? If Deputy Dillon's land was to be alienated he would have something to say on the matter.

Will the Minister apply this to lands, which are known to himself, which are periodically submerged owing to the overflow of the River Glyde? The mere fact of these lands being submerged has been the cause of grievous loss to the farmers and the Minister himself is aware of that fact.

If those lands are not permanently submerged they would not be covered by the amendment.

Is the Minister aware that considerable damage has been done to these lands by flooding? He knows himself that on three occasions during the month of August crops have been destroyed in that area. I should like to have an assurance from the Minister as to whether this will apply in the case of these farmers?

It will not apply in that or similar cases.

I think the Minister himself is not convinced of the full significance of this amendment. It has to be read in conjunction with Section 36 (1). The relevant words of the amendment are: "Land which is periodically covered by tidal water or is by reason of coastal or other erosion or other similar cause incapable of being cultivated or used for purposes of agriculture or pasture." Therefore, I say, that leaves the Land Commission open to a case being made against them that certain inland waters periodically submerge certain lands and, as a result of that, these lands are no longer fitted for the purposes of agricultural pasturage or cultivation. If that is so, Section 36 will apply and the Minister will have to decide what part of the land is so destroyed and what portion is not destroyed and he will be obliged to remit the annuities on the portion destroyed. How on earth can the Minister get away from that? I take it that submergence by a river is the same as submergence by tidal waters.

The Deputy misses the point that this new amendment was brought in to show clearly what was meant by the phrase "permanently submerged." As the clause stood, it referred to lands permanently submerged and the point was raised that lands covered by tidal waters are not permanently submerged and this was brought in to ensure that such lands would come under the definition of "permanently submerged."

What I am asking the Minister is this: in his desire to do that, has he not gone a great deal further?

I am advised not.

Has the Minister, in widening the term "submerged land," considered it from another point of view? The section says "not arising from the fault or neglect of the tenant." In a good many cases where land is "permanently submerged" that is due not to the fault of the tenant but to the fault of another tenant and I do not think the Minister has any power by which he can make the other tenant remove the obstruction. Has the matter been considered from that point of view?

Amendment 41 agreed to.

Mr. Rice

I move amendment 42:—

In page 25, Section 37 (1), line 15, to delete the word "is" where it secondly occurs and substitute the words "was on the 9th day of August, 1923."

This amendment is to Section 37 which gives power to the Land Commission to reduce standard purchase annuities in cases where they are not satisfied that the holding is security for the standard purchase annuity. I put the amendment down because I feel doubtful about the wording of the section, and of the construction that might be put on the word "is." What I wish to urge on the Minister is that under the section as it is drafted it would be open to the Land Commission to say in the case of abona fide agreement entered into in 1923 or 1924 that, having regard to the word “is” in the section, the holding is not now security and that therefore they would be entitled to revise that bona fide agreement. I am sure it is not the intention of the Government to do anything of the kind. I fear that the word “is” in the section may open the way to a good deal of litigation and controversy as to whether that was the intention or not. I would be glad if a verbal amendment were inserted to indicate that it is not the intention.

This matter has been gone into carefully by the Land Commission, and I am advised that the amendment is unnecessary. When the 1923 Act was passed the rents were fixed and all rents that have been fixed since had reference to the 9th August. There is no law for departing from that. The Land Commission cannot depart from it.

Mr. Rice

I am glad to get that assurance from the Minister though I think he does not appreciate all the points that lawyers can argue about. I accept his assurance.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment 43:—

In page 25, before Section 39, to insert a new section as follows:—

(1) A holding shall not be excluded from the provisions of the Land Act, 1923, and of the Acts amending and extending that Act, in virtue of which lands are vested in the Land Commission as tenanted lands on the appointed day, by reason only of the fact that such holding is held under a contract of tenancy expressed to be made for temporary depasturage, temporary convenience, or to meet a temporary necessity if the Land Commission, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, is of opinion that such tenancy was not in fact intended for temporary depasturage or that there was in fact no temporary convenience or temporary necessity to be served in the making of such contract of tenancy or that such holding is used as an ordinary farm and in any case is of opinion that such holding should be deemed to be a holding to which the said provisions of the said Acts apply.

(2) No person shall be precluded from making an application to the Land Commission for an order declaring the appointed day for any such holding as is mentioned in the foregoing sub-section of this section by reason only that the holding had been, prior to the passing of this Act, excluded from the said provisions of the said Acts on the ground that it was held under a letting for temporary depasturage or to meet a temporary convenience or a temporary necessity.

(3) A provision contained in any such contract of tenancy (whenever made) as is mentioned in the first sub-section of this section or in a contract of tenancy (whenever made) the main object of which was for a residence and purporting directly or indirectly to preclude the tenant under such contract from exercising rights under the Land Purchase Acts or any particular such right shall be and, if such contract was made before the passing of this Act, be deemed always to have been void and unenforceable.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment 43a:—

In page 25, Section 39, to add at the end of the section, line 53, the words:—

Provided that this section shall not apply to any lands comprised in any settlement made in contemplation or in consideration of marriage.

Section 39 is designed to prevent the duplication of advances between a husband and wife. It is a rather difficult amendment to explain, but perhaps Deputies would understand it better if I put it this way: A is to marry B. B has already received an advance of £3,000 from the Land Commission, and A owns lands that are being put in settlement on marriage, and has also applied for an advance. If this application is not dealt with until A has married B the point can be raised that B, owning lands put in settlement, had already got the maximum advance. The amendment is intended to provide, in such cases that, as the land had already been put in marriage settlement, that it shall vest in the tenant.

Mr. Rice

The husband had already got the maximum advance for the land he held himself and he might be given a life estate in land brought into settlement by his intended wife. As soon as he acquired that life estate he would be the person to whom the advance should be made. The wife might have already made application for an advance for the land that she was bringing into settlement. The point could be raised that as the husband had already got the maximum amount of advance that could be made to him, therefore no further advance could be made. Such a case as that might arise.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment 44:—

In page 26, Section 40, to add at the end of sub-section (2) the following proviso:—

Provided that where the rent payable is in the opinion of the Land Commission less than the rent which would have been the fair rent on the 9th day of August, 1923, the standard purchase annuity shall be an annuity of an amount not exceeding 90 per cent. nor less than 65 per cent. of the rent, having regard to the security for such rent.

The object of the amendment is to take into account security for rent in fixing the purchase money. Under Section 44 of the Land Act of 1931 rents on long leases or fee farm grants could be bought up by the tenant on the basis of a judicial rent provided that the rent was not less than a second term judicial rent. That is a principle that is being observed in practice, but the present Bill puts all rents on the same basis.

As the law stands, when one of these applications is granted, the land becomes tenanted land and the rent is then treated as non-judicial and a standard purchase annuity is fixed automatically under Section 2 of the 1929 Act at 65 per cent. of the rent. There is no good reason why the law applicable to a non-judicial holding, whatever the rent, whether greater, equal to, or less than a fair rent, should not continue to apply to fee farm rents. If the landlord is not satisfied he can appeal.

The Attorney-General

The landlord may object and appeal to the tribunal.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment 45:—

In page 26, before Section 40 (6), to insert a new sub-section as follows:—

(6) In fixing the standard purchase annuity of a parcel of land in respect of which an application under the said Section 44 is granted, the Land Commission may have regard to the amount (if any) in money or money's worth paid or given by way of fine or otherwise by the grantee or lessee to the grantor or lessor on and for the making of the grant or lease under which such parcel of land is held.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment 46:—

In page 26, Section 40 (8), line 48, after the word "Act" to add the words "and in any such case such application may be made notwithstanding that the grant or lease under which such parcel of land was held at the date of such order was subsequently terminated on account or in consequence of non-payment of the rent reserved thereby, and in such case such grant or lease shall, for the purposes of the said Section 44 and such application, be deemed to be subsisting."

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment 47 and 48 not moved.

Amendment 48a.

With your permission, sir, I would like if amendment 48b was considered before 48a.

Have they been put in the wrong order?

I intended them to be taken in the way I suggest.

As they are both to the same section we will take amendment 48b now.

I move amendment 48b.

In page 27 to insert a new section before Section 41 as follows:—

A holding of untenanted land held under fee farm grant, or leave for lives, or years renewable for ever, or lease for a term of years of which 60 or more were unexpired at the date of the passing of the Land Act, 1923, and which at the date of the passing of this Act is substantially agricultural and pastoral, and worked in accordance with the ordinary methods of husbandary, and the rent payable in respect of such parcel is greater than what would have been a fair rent of such parcel at the date of the passing of the Land Act, 1923, if it had been held by such owner under a statutory tenancy subject to a third term judicial rent, shall not be excluded from the provisions of the Land Act, 1923, and of Acts amending and extending that Act in virtue of which lands are vested in the Land Commission as tenanted lands on the appointed day by reason only that the said parcel is or is held in connection with a demesne, home farm, park, garden, or pleasure-ground.

This amendment covers a case that has not been covered under previous Land Acts. It refers to a case where a portion of land might be held as a home farm, park or pleasure-ground, or in connection with a residential holding which was excluded definitely from all Land Acts since 1903. As I understand the position, a residential holding had what might be called certain protection under the Land Acts, whereby it would not be taken for resumption, but as an off-set to that, none of the benefits of the Land Acts were given by way of a reduction of rent. This is a case of a long lease taken out in days when rents were very much higher than they are now. These rents remain on that portion of the land still, and were definitely excluded, under the Land Acts of 1923 and 1931, from any reductions. Now that there is a change in the Land Bill, as we are considering taking away the protection or resumption in a case where the land is being used "substantially agricultural and pastoral, and worked in accordance with the ordinary methods of husbandry," the owners of such parcels of land might get the benefit of reductions in the rents. If they are being asked to pay 50/- or £3 for an Irish acre, as was the case some years ago, that is now an uneconomic proposition. Where such land is being worked I suggest that that is in line with the Government policy to produce food, is in line with all land legislation to reduce rents, and is in line with the needs of the present time, to give employment.

Without elaborating the matter, the owner of a parcel of land, using it in accordance with the ordinary methods of husbandry, who gives employment should, at least, be treated as a judicial tenant or as the holder of a lease of another portion of the land is. I suppose there are cases of this kind throughout the Free State. There would not be many of them. I know one case where about 85 people are supported, and yet the owner of that land cannot get any reduction, because his lease was taken out about 100 years ago. The leaseholder holds him to it because he has collateral security, in that the man has a residential holding in the Free State on which he resides. If this amendment is not passed, I suggest that the absentee will be established in his rack-rent, and that no relief will be given to the occupier of land who is a resident, and who gives employment as well as taking his share in the life of the community. As the amendment is a reasonable one, I commend it to the Minister. It is drafted as narrowly as I could draft it in order to cover only agricultural and pastoral land.

The Deputy spoke to me about this amendment and I carefully examined the whole matter. I had the Department working on it for some time. If the amendment was admitted it would follow logically that the benefits of the Land Acts would go to all residential holders. We are not prepared to do that in these cases. The amendment is much more far-reaching than the Deputy thinks. We had it examined in view of the fact that it would be extended to all residential holdings, home farms or demesnes held on fee farm grants or short leases and we could not open the door to that. I cannot accept the amendment.

I suggest that the amendment would not open the door to all residential holdings. My amendment specifically states that it is to apply only where the rent payable in respect of such parcels of land is greater than it would be if it was a fair rent. In the main the rent in respect of a residential holder is not greater.

If the Minister accepted the amendment could he state what number of holdings it would apply to? I realise the Minister's difficulty perfectly well when dealing with land held under a fee farm grant or a long lease and I realise that a rigid line must be drawn somewhere. Under existing land legislation you cannot, as far as I can see, include every type of long leaseholder and every type of fee farm grant. It seems that the leaseholder for whom Deputy Haslett speaks has a grievance, in the sense that he is working the land according to proper methods of husbandry. Obviously he is an up-to-date farmer. It is impossible to carry on farming in existing conditions because of the exorbitant rent he is paying for the land. It was always the intention—it was certainly the intention in the Act of 1923—to go as far as possible to bring some sort of relief to a tenant of that type.

We went a stage in the Act of 1927 and a still further stage in the Act of 1931. A somewhat similar case was brought to my notice before the Act of 1931 was finally passed but it was too late to introduce an amendment. As a matter of fact I think the Minister will find on the Land Commission files records of certain correspondence that took place between Land Commission officials and certain outside solicitors regarding a few cases of this kind. At the time I felt that this type of tenant had undoubtedly a grievance. I felt that it was the duty of the Land Commission to try to meet that type of case, if a legal means could be found of doing so. I suggest to the Minister that he might give this matter some further consideration. If he looks up the records he will find that some correspondence took place about this type of case. Perhaps the Minister might find some ways and means of meeting Deputy Haslett's amendment in the Seanad.

I do feel that this type of tenant is a very good farmer and should be encouraged. He is the type of farmer who, under existing conditions, cannot be expected to meet his liabilities because of the exorbitant rent he has to pay. It is perfectly true that in many cases these tenants are paying as high as £2, £3, and £4 an acre. This Bill does not hold out any relief for that type of tenant. I think Deputy Haslett has made a good case for consideration, and I suggest that the Minister should give the amendment further examination before the Bill passes through the Seanad. Perhaps he may be able to introduce some sort of amendment that will meet Deputy Haslett's point.

The question has been thoroughly examined and I am sure the Deputy appreciates that we have to draw the line somewhere. For that reason, we cannot accept the amendment.

Is the Minister not prepared to look into it further?

It has been thoroughly examined and we cannot agree to it.

Amendment 48b, by leave, withdrawn.

I beg to move amendment 48a:—

In page 27 to insert a new section before Section 41 as follows:—

Provided that where an application has been refused on the ground that the parcel of land to which the same relates is usually occupied in connection with a demesne, home farm, park, garden or pleasure-ground, and provided also that the parcel at the date of the passing of this Act is substantially agricultural and pastoral and worked in accordance with the ordinary methods of husbandry, the applicant may within the prescribed time after such refusal, surrender the parcel to the person in receipt of the rent or reversion.

In view of what the Minister said, perhaps he is prepared to accept this amendment. I do not think the Minister takes the view that he should penalise a man because he is a resident in the State and tills his land. As regards these cases that would be covered by the amendment, I cannot say they are supporters of mine and I am not speaking from that particular point of view. I am bringing this matter forward in the interests of fair play and in order to give justice to the residents of the Free State. We should encourage people who are willing to carry on, to spend money with us and to give employment. I suggest that if this type of person is thrown out, has his application refused under any of the Acts, he should be given power to surrender his lease to the lessor.

I do not want to go back on the amendment that has been disposed of further than to say that surely the ingenuity of the Land Commission should be such as that it would give such person or number of persons, as Deputy Roddy instances, some relief in carrying on the nation's work. Where a person is excluded, where his application has been refused, I am setting out that the applicant may within the prescribed time after such refusal surrender the parcel to the person in receipt of the rent or reversion.

The difficulty is that both these amendments refer to untenanted land. This particular amendment refers to a demesne, home farm, park, garden or pleasure-ground. These are outside the scope of the Land Purchase Acts and, of course, we have to draw the line somewhere.

If the Minister refuses to include what is really tenanted land, although for the purpose of the Act it is described as untenanted land, I cannot do anything further.

Amendment 48a, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Rice

I beg to move amendment 49:—

In page 27, Section 41 (b), to delete all words after the word "sufficient," line 33, to the end of the paragraph, line 36.

Section 41 deals with compounded arrears of rents charged on holdings which are sub-let. The section provides that where an additional annuity in repayment of compounded arrears of rent has been charged on a holding which is wholly or partially sub-let and the sub-tenants have been declared to be direct tenants, certain provisions shall apply. Paragraph (a) provides:

(a) each such sub-tenant shall be entitled to credit for so much of the said compounded arrears of rent as is repayable by the portion of the said additional annuity charged on his separate holding as against the arrears of rent, if any, due and payable by him to his immediate landlord;

The sub-section to which I suggest the amendment is (b), which provides:

if there are no arrears of rent due by such sub-tenant, or if the amount of the compounded arrears of rent so repayable as aforesaid exceeds the amount of the arrears of rent due by such sub-tenant, the portion of such additional annuity charged on his separate holding or so much of the said portion of the said additional annuity as represents the excess of the said compounded arrears of rent over the arrears of rent due by such sub-tenant (as the case may be) shall be redeemed out of the intervening interest of his immediate landlord

That is quite all right, but it provides further:

so far as the redemption price of such intervening interest, after discharging claims in respect of unpaid instalments of payment in lieu of rent or annual sums or additional sums (if any) is sufficient

That is all right so far, but it goes on:

and, to the extent that such intervening interest is not so sufficient, out of the sum added to the purchase money of the holding for compounded arrears of rent;

The last portion of the sub-section might work an injustice on persons entitled to the sum added to the purchase money for compounded arrears of rent. They are persons who can receive only the amount due to them as compounded arrears of rent and they should not be affected by the relations between their tenants and sub-tenants. They should not be made to provide for a deficiency in the amount of money due by one under-tenant to another under-tenant. That last section penalises them for something for which they should not be made liable.

If the amendment were accepted it would have the effect of leaving the sub-tenant liable for arrears due by the middleman. It might be necessary for the State to come to the sub-tenant's assistance. We could not leave the sub-tenant burdened by arrears due by the middleman.

Mr. Rice

It was not open to me to put down such an amendment, but I thought the Minister might favourably consider some such amendment. It will have the effect of inflicting an injustice on somebody, and I think the Minister might consider it from the point of view of an amendment that he could submit but that I could not.

It would be unjust to shift one man's arrears on to another.

Mr. Rice

Perhaps the Minister will reconsider the matter before the Bill goes to the Seanad and decide whether he can deal with it. Of course I cannot deal with that situation but the Minister can.

I will not promise that.

Mr. Rice

I hope the Minister will give the matter some consideration in the meantime.

Amendment 49, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Rice

I beg to move amendment 50:—

In page 28, Section 44, lines 15, 19, 21 and 28, to delete the figures "1933" and substitute the figures "1943" in each line.

This deals with the question of building ground. I think, perhaps, in suggesting 1943 I am asking for too much. I think the hardship in the section is that it effects an immediate closedown without any notice to people with potential building ground. It does not give them anylocus pxnitentix. Different places are affected by various circumstances and by the financial position of persons. Where people have potential building ground they may not have the money available at the moment for development or they may be waiting in the hope that they will get better terms for letting building ground; they may be hoping for better conditions in that respect.

It is harsh to set down a date which is now actually passed as the crucial date for the purpose of this section. Some time ought to be allowed to persons with ground of this character to enable them to develop it as building ground instead of shutting them down as from 28th June of the present year. The Minister should consider some extension of time in cases where persons have such land and are prepared to develop it in the immediate future.

I certainly remember cases where a lot of hardship was caused to people who were tenants of such land through the landlords refusing to allow them to purchase because of the alleged potential building value of the land. If these lands really are of potential building value the landlord should have proceeded to develop them. I know of cases where the tenants, through their forefathers were 170 years in occupation of holdings and these people were thrown out on the road because of this potential building value. I do not think that that is fair. For that reason I do not see my way to accept the Deputy's amendment.

I would accept this amendment only as apis aller because in my opinion the treatment that land of potential building value received under the 1923 Act and under the sections amending that in this Bill is fundamentally wrong. The moment an Act of this Oireachtas describes land as having potential building value that is then admitted and therefore you have a situation in which that land has a certain value as agricultural land plus x, which is its added value as being potential building land. This House comes along and says: “if you do not develop x within a certain time we are going to confiscate it; we are not going to buy it from you. We are not going to fix the price on its agricultural value plus x, but if you do not develop it within a certain time we are going to fix a price based on the agricultural value and we are going to confiscate x, the potential building value.” I think that is beyond the competence of this House to do. I do not think they had any right to do it. I do not know whether under the provisions of the Land Acts any undeveloped building lands have been acquired.

The Deputy understands that this is enabling the tenant to purchase from the landlord and if anybody is confiscating x it is the tenant.

It is not so easy as that. It is not such plain sailing as that. The procedure is that the Land Commission purchases from the landlord and the tenant purchases from the Land Commission. Is not that so?

The Land Commission says: "you have land and it has agricultural value and building value. If you do not build within a certain time we will take over its agricultural value and convey it to the tenant." Is not that what is being done? Is not that correct? I say that is wrong. If the Land Commission makes up its mind that that land is required for the relief of congestion I think they should have the right to acquire it. It is the charge of the State to compensate the landlord for the additional building value. I think it ought to be made a burden on the taxpayer. It is part of a great social work that the State is doing. There are a few selected cases of this kind where the land has a double value. The purchasing tenant should be made liable for the agricultural value of the land, but the State should undertake to compensate the owner of the land, for the value inherent in it, the existence of which the State admits. It does not matter how long the land remains undeveloped. The State, in my opinion, is not acting rightly in confiscating that land. They have the right to compulsorily acquire it and pay for it if they take it, seeing that it is for the public good, but they have no right to confiscate it. Personally, I would challenge a division on Section 44 on the Committee Stage, had the opportunity offered. That opportunity is not now available, and in default of that, I would prefer to postpone the critical date as far as possible. The effect of Deputy Rice's amendment is to postpone the critical date for ten years. On these grounds I propose to support the amendment.

Mr. Rice

As I indicated already, I would be glad if the Minister would arrive at some compromise. It is quite true to say that people have had ten years to develop the land and that they have not done it. But it is wrong for the State to step in without notice and not give them alocus pxnitentix to carry out the development.

I could not meet the Deputy on this amendment at all. I disagree entirely with Deputy Dillon on the question of building value. I believe if we had a simple way of confiscating building value for the State it would be quite all right. It would not be confiscation. It would be the State taking something which it had created.

The Minister is a disciple of Henry George.

I am a disciple of commonsense and if that principle had been adopted in 1870 it would have been a good thing for the country. This thing slowed up the acquisition of land. Because land has a potential building value, no matter in what part of the world it is. When that potential building value becomes let us say x, and when x takes the form of plus one or two, that value has been created by the community. I am not satisfied at all if I could see a simple way out of it to give this x this building ground value to the tenant, but I think the tenant has a much better right to it than the landlord. I gave you an instance of a case where a man and his family before him were the tenants of land for 170 years and that man was thrown out on the roadside and the full building ground value of the land given to the landlord, who has never seen it and never did anything for the land. If anybody has helped to create a site value in that land it is the tenant who lived on it. That is my conviction. At any rate, I do not intend to accept the amendment.

Question put: That the figures proposed to be deleted stand.
Division challenged, but as there were no tellers on the Níl side, the question was declared carried and the figures ordered to stand part of the Bill.

I move amendment 51:—

In page 28 to add at the end of Section 45 the following proviso:—

Provided that such development does not adversely affect the rights of tenants of the bog or make any undue encroachment on the future necessary supply of turbary for the said tenants and is approved by a majority of such tenants in the case of each bog.

The section reads:—

The powers of the Land Commission to acquire any bog for the purpose of providing turbary for the occupiers of land shall be and are hereby extended so as to include the acquisition of bog for the purpose of the development thereof for such other purposes as the Minister for Industry and Commerce, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, shall approve.

I must, in the first place, protest against the Minister legislating for the Minister for Industry and Commerce on the very important question of turbary. This is the first time in any Land Act, so far as I am aware, that the Minister has introduced legislation enabling the Minister of another Department to utilise turbary for the purpose of carrying out certain experiments. The Minister knows perfectly well that in many parts of the country there is very great scarcity of turbary. The Attorney-General knows well that in many parts of the West—even in his native County of Mayo—there is a very great scarcity of turbary. Yet the Minister, in this section, proposes to give power to the Minister for Industry and Commerce to utilise that turbary for the carrying out of certain experiments. We have no indication of what the experiments are to be. We know that the Minister for Industry and Commerce is full of enthusiasm for the development of industry. In one of these transports of enthusiasm he may see fit to utilise a very important section of bog in a part of the country where there may be already a great scarcity of bog. I made the point on Second Reading that if the Minister for Industry and Commerce wants bog for the purpose of carrying out any one of his experiments, he should enter the market in the ordinary way and buy bog at the ordinary commercial price. He should not be facilitated in securing that bog at Land Commission prices or value. If bog is taken for the purpose of carrying out experiments of that kind it is quite legitimate to assume that that bog will not be available for the purposes for which bog is ordinarily and normally intended—to provide fuel for the tenants on that particular estate or for tenants bordering on that estate. The amendment which I propose provides that if the bog is required for fuel for the tenants themselves, then the Minister shall not have the right to take over any part of it for the purpose of carrying out any one of his experiments and, furthermore, that the Minister shall not have the right to acquire a bog for the purpose of carrying out any one of his experiments unless the majority of the tenants are agreeable. I stated at the outset that there is a great scarcity of turbary in many parts of the country. There are certain areas where there is a plentiful supply of turbary. If the Minister should, under any circumstances, consider it necessary to acquire turbary for the purpose of his experiments, then I submit that his power to acquire should be limited to those areas in which there is a plentiful supply. Furthermore, in no case should the Minister be allowed to acquire turbary for carrying out any one of his experiments unless that turbary is to be utilised for a purpose related, in some way, to the purpose for which turbary is normally and naturally used. There is a danger that this section will impose a hardship, and a very serious hardship, on very big sections of the people, particularly in the West. Under no circumstances, in my view, would the Minister be justified in allowing any other Minister to interfere with the rights of the Land Commission in disposing of turbary for the one purpose for which it was intended—to provide fuel for the tenants on the estate in question or tenants on a neighbouring estate. For those reasons, I move my amendment.

I think that the Deputy's amendment is altogether unnecessary. It is one of the first functions of the Land Commission to provide turbary for tenants. The Deputy will remember that under Section 37 of the 1923 Act the power of the Land Commission to acquire untenanted land was extended to acquiring bog. The section states:

The powers of the Land Commission under this Act to acquire any untenanted land shall include power so to acquire any bog for the purpose of providing turbary for the occupiers of land in the neighbourhood thereof, whether the said bog is or is not subject to any right of turbary of other persons than the owner.

The section concludes:—

In exercising the powers given by this section, the Land Commission shall have due regard to the reasonable requirements of the owner.

That section has not been annulled.

What bearing has that section on Section 45 of this Bill?

We are extending these powers to acquiring bog for industrial development. In doing that, the Land Commission will have to carry out its normal duty of seeing that the tenants are left with their reasonable requirements of turbary.

Section 37 only gives the Land Commission power to acquire bog in cases in which advances have already been made. It is not in any way related to Section 45.

I am only pointing out that it is one of the functions of the Land Commission to provide turbary for tenants.

That is its primary function.

That duty still is on the Land Commission to provide turbary for tenants and there is no intention to get away from it. This section does not get away from it.

The primary function is extended by this section so as to include "the acquisition of bog for the purpose of the development thereof for such other purposes as the Minister for Industry and Commerce, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, shall approve." Surely that is an entirely new function, departing quite distinctly from the functions hitherto performed by the Land Commission in respect to the acquisition and the distribution of bog.

I admit it is an extension of the function, a new departure, and I think it is a proper departure that the Land Commission should have power, when bogs are not being worked, to acquire them to enable them to be worked.

There are no bogs in the country not being worked.

There are one and a half million acres of bog in the country. There are vast areas, several thousands of acres, in some cases in one lot, that have never been looked at since the time of Adam.

The Minister gave no explanation as to the reason for giving the Minister for Industry and Commerce power to acquire bog for some unknown purpose. Will the Minister give the House some indication as to the purpose for which the Minister for Industry and Commerce will require bog? What sort of experiment does he propose to carry out?

This gives rise to difficulties of very grave significance I challenge the right of the Land Commission to go romping into any man's property compulsorily to acquire it for any and every purpose they like. To my mind there ought to be very grave reasons before you permit the Land Commission compulsorily to acquire any man's property, be it landlord's property or tenant's property or anybody else's. The relief of congestion and the general purpose of land legislation in this country were a very grave reason. It was only after very careful consideration of the gravity of the reasons justifying land purchase that the business of land purchase was embarked upon. That is a very different story from providing a plaything for the Minister for Industry and Commerce.

The Attorney-General

It is not a plaything. Read the section: "for the purpose of the development thereof."

What may be a very valuable industry when the Minister for Industry and Commerce starts with it may turn out to be a rattle by the time he is finished. This House has no reason to have any faith whatever in the schemes fathered by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. This section gives him power, without regard to the rights of adjoining tenants, without regard to the rights of the owner of the bog, compulsorily to acquire bog through the Land Commission "for the purpose of the development thereof for such other purposes as the Minister for Industry and Commerce, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, shall approve." By what authority does this House propose compulsorily to acquire an individual's land for that purpose? What grave social benefit is going to be conferred upon the State by giving the Minister for Industry and Commerce an opportunity of trying out experiments on the bogs of this country? If he wants to try out an experiment why cannot he buy a piece of bog in the ordinary course of business and try out his experiment there? Is not that the normal and sensible way to do it? If you are going to give him the right compulsorily to acquire land for this purpose, why should not the Government have the right compulsorily to acquire land for any purpose? Why should a citizen have any rights as against the Government at all in property? If the Minister for Industry and Commerce should have the right compulsorily to acquire turbary for the purposes of an experiment, then there are a hundred and one other reasons for which the Government ought to have the right compulsorily to acquire property of every kind.

If that doctrine be accepted by the House it is a new doctrine to me. As I understand it, the right of any man to his own private property in this State will not be interfered with except when that right conflicts gravely and seriously with the public good, and that then, and only then, the State will intervene, providing full compensation, and will make available to the community the property which is essential to its welfare. That is a very dangerous doctrine. If you start expanding that doctrine it is very difficult to say where you will stop. I consider the expansion that is being embarked upon here is of a very dangerous character. I can see no reason which would not be equally good as the one here given to justify the compulsory acquisition of bog. The amendment in the name of Deputy Roddy provides the very minimum of safeguard, and without dwelling on the principle to which I have referred, the general principle underlying the whole purpose, this amendment seeks to provide that that compulsory acquisition will not take place at the instance of the Minister for Industry and Commerce where it interferes with the rights of tenants of the bog or makes any undue encroachment on the future necessary supply of turbary. I am not aware that under any previous Act the Land Commission had the right to acquire bog from tenant purchasers. They had, under the 1931 Act, I think, the right to acquire rights-of-way and such like over a bog, but I am not aware that prior to this Bill the Land Commission had any right whatever under any circumstances to acquire bog that had vested in the tenants.

The Attorney-General

They had.

That, in my opinion, makes the situation worse, because we have now to consider not only the compulsory acquisition of bog from landlords but also from tenant purchasers. I am opposed to the whole section. I think this amendment is most essential and, so far as I am concerned, if Deputy Roddy does not challenge a division on it, I will.

Will you have your Party with you this time?

They never fail.

Will Deputy Roddy explain what he means by the tenants of the bog? I think, in many cases, the word "tenant" would be wrong. In many cases, I think, the system is that tenants on the estate of which the bog is part have had turbary rights, but they could not be regarded as tenants. In many cases these rights are not being exercised by the people who were originally the owners. People who had such rights have ceased to use turf; they use coal and their neighbours took over that right and have been in possession of it for years. When you come to the last lines of Deputy Roddy's amendment, "and is approved by a majority of such tenants," are the tenants to be the people who have had at some period or other the rights to which I refer? Are they to be a majority of the people with rights regardless of whether they exercise them or not? In that case you could have people coming along who ceased to use turf and were using coal. Whatever may be said about the principle of the amendment I think its wording is defective.

Deputy Moore has rather adroitly laid stress upon the last lines of Deputy Roddy's amendment. He does not refer at all to the other parts of the amendment. It seemed to me hardly possible that the Minister could reject this amendment. The amendment starts out by stating that the Minister ought not to have the right to interfere in what would adversely affect the rights of tenants or make undue encroachment on their rights. Does the Minister reject that? Does he intend to permit encroachments upon the future turbary of the tenants? Is he still to be entitled to allow the Minister for Industry and Commerce to come in and take over bogs in this fashion. Personally, I thought this amendment would be accepted without any demur whatever. When the Government lays such great stress upon the supply of home fuel in this country I do not at all think they are acting up to their own principles when they try to do things that would adversely affect the users of home fuel and the supply of that particular commodity. I thought that this would be regarded as one of the most necessary amendments and the one amendment, at all events, that would be accepted without demur by the Government.

Is there any chance of the Minister accepting this amendment?

In that case I wonder would the Minister consider a compromise? Would he be prepared to accept the amendment if certain words were deleted and it read "provided such development does not make any undue encroachment upon the future necessary supplies of turbary for the tenants of the bog or persons having rights to the bog." That would remove the words "adversely affecting the rights of the tenants of the bog" and also the words "and is approved by the majority of such tenants," and yet would give reasonable protection to all persons interested in the bog.

How would you interpret that amendment? What would the word "future" cover; would it be forever.

For the period they are paying their land annuities.

For the period of the existence of the bog.

The Attorney-General

Look at Section 37 of the Land Act of 1923:—

"In exercising the powers given by this section the Land Commission shall have due regard to the reasonable requirements of the owner."

Does not that meet the case?

That proviso is not affected by the present Bill?

The Attorney-General

No.

If the Minister is satisfied and the Attorney-General is satisfied that there is no danger to the individual owner, what is the necessity for this section? The Bill has already been described as a "confiscation Land Act." Certainly this is a confiscation-of-turbary section. Those who know the country realise how important turbary is to people and, however desirable it is to prevent people from burning coal in this country, people who for years have had the right of turbary should not now by this unfortunate section be deprived of their rights. If they are covered already by Section 37 of the Land Act of 1923, and if their rights are preserved, why not re-ensure the preservation of these rights by accepting this amendment. After all Section 37 of the Act of 1923 dealt only with the existing tenants—those owners who are using the bog. This is a case where the Ministry or the State themselves are deciding to take over the turbary. I must say I have never, since this Bill began to be discussed, felt more need for an answer from the Minister. No possible explanation has been given as to why this amendment should not be accepted. Here they say there is to be confiscation for experimental purposes. If you take over these rights or the ownership, whether it is a quarter of an acre or a thousand acres, for State purposes it is confiscation. If this House refuses to accept this amendment it will refuse to the individual tenants and owners a right over their own property, and will put them in the position that, whatever the Government of this country may be, they will have the right to tell the tenants or the owners that they must use coal or turf as the case may be, because there is likely to be a continuation of that very interesting scheme called the Economic War. "You must burn turf, you may not burn coal. You may say you have no turf, but our answer is we will get it for you." Then they will say: "There is such and such a bog; we will take it over." Someone else may say: "There are 30, 40 or 50 people interested and their children will require that bog," but the Government will answer: "Not at all; people must burn turf, and we will take that bog to supply them with turf." This is the most severe section in the Bill from the point of view of confiscation. I am certain if the Minister would only realise how serious it is, he would accept this amendment. Deputy Moore spoke about the original owners. I do not know who the original owner is of any bog in the world.

Not the original owner of the bog, but the rights in the bog.

I do not know who is the original owner of the rights of anything in this country. I am sure the Deputy would have great difficulty in establishing the original title of anybody, no matter how far he might go back. There is no use blinding ourselves to facts. There are people living to-day who have these rights and it is for them we are legislating. It is not for Brian Boru and those people who came before the Fianna Fáil Party came into existence. Of course the Fianna Fáil Party people have their rights too and we are preserving such rights for them. We are preserving those rights for people who are alive to-day and for the next generation. Do not let us talk nonsense about original owners. I am not a geologist, but I believe the flood may be responsible for some of those bogs. The flood came before a lot of the Fianna Fáil people.

I suppose Deputy O'Sullivan does not expect to be taken seriously, but let me explain to him that I am thinking of actual facts which are before my mind at the moment, where, in bogs with which I am quite familiar, a man had two or three perches. Years and years ago he ceased to use them. He has still the right, because he was a tenant on the estate of which the bog was part. He enjoys that right, but he has ceased to use it. His neighbour has taken over the right; he uses it now. Whether he has a legal right or not I cannot say. Simply because it was not being used by the man who came into possession of it 30 or 40 years ago his neighbour now uses it. Before raising the question as to which of them is to have the vote, is the majority, which Deputy Roddy wants, to be made up of people who have ceased to take an interest in it for years past?

So the Deputy accepts the principle of the amendment?

That is not the question. I am just referring to the Deputy's rather frivolous and absurd speech.

Would the Attorney-General state if the protection which he mentions in the Act of 1923 extends to this particular section? There is no reference to it. This is a new section without any reference to previous Acts?

Deputies over there are quite well aware that the Land Commission had power to acquire turbary.

That they had power to acquire turbary, first of all, for the tenant of the estate.

Deputies

Agreed.

That further they had power to acquire turbary for anybody within reasonable distance of the bog.

Reasonable distance of the bog is extended——

To James's Street.

The turbary scheme extends to anyone within 150 or 160 miles of the bog. The people in the slums of Dublin City or the slums of any other city or the residents of the cities have a right to see that the bogs are used for their benefit.

For their benefit?

For their benefit.

Who supposes it is for their benefit?

Even if it adversely affects the right of the people who have it already?

That is what we want to put in.

If that were all the Deputy wanted to put in it would be all right. I would be prepared to put in something like the words which Deputy MacDermot suggested, or the words of Section 37 of the Land Act of 1923, that the Land Commission shall have regard to the reasonable requirements of the occupier or user of the bog.

Even that is immensely superior to what is in the Bill.

For goodness sake, you cannot put everything in.

Can you not put that into it?

One of the first duties of the Land Commission, as set out in different Acts, is to provide turbary for the people within reasonable distance of the bog, and to see that their reasonable requirements are met.

I suggest to the Minister that the words in the 1923 Act hardly go far enough for the present occasion. They merely say that, in exercising the powers, the Land Commission shall have due regard to the reasonable requirements of the owner. That does not exactly suggest that they shall refrain from exercising their powers altogether if it would be a hardship on the owner. It merely suggests that they should make what concessions they can. In the second place it refers only to the owner, whereas we want, in addition, to protect the people who have rights to turbary. I would suggest again that perhaps we might strike out the word "future" if that causes embarrassment. We might say "provided that such development does not make any undue encroachment on the necessary supply of turbary for the tenants of the bog or persons having rights to the bog," or something of that kind.

The Minister has not really attempted to offer any answer to the arguments put up by this side. I know as well as the Minister the powers conferred on the Land Commission by Section 37 of the Act of 1923, but Deputies of the House must remember that this section proposes to extend the powers under Section 37 of the Act of 1923. This section goes far beyond the powers given to the Land Commission under Section 37 of the Act of 1923. This section gives the Land Commission powers which it was never contemplated they should have under the previous Land Act. This section extends the powers under Section 37 of the Land Act 1923 in so far as it gives the Minister for Industry and Commerce power to acquire bog for the purpose of development and so on. The Dáil surely should not lightly pass a section of that kind without getting some information from the Minister as to how the Minister for Industry and Commerce proposes to utilise those powers, and as to the purposes for which he proposes to utilise them.

Let me, again, take the case of the bogs in the West of Ireland, which the Attorney-General is familiar with. The Attorney-General knows perfectly well that some of the best bogs in the West of Ireland will be cut out in probably another 15 or 20 years; that there is in many parts of the West to-day shortage of bog, and that in the ordinary normal course of events there will be a shortage of turbary in 15, 20 or 25 years. That is quite common in the County of Mayo and many other western counties. Not alone is it quite common in the western counties but it is common in many southern and eastern counties as well. The Minister for Industry and Commerce, under this section, has power to come in and take over that bog for the purpose of carrying out his experiments, thereby depriving those tenants of the use of any bog at all. There is nothing in this section to prevent the Minister for Industry and Commerce coming in and taking over that bog the moment the section becomes law, and depriving those tenants of the use of any turbary.

The Attorney-General will surely agree that this section undoubtedly gives the Land Commission the widest possible powers, for the purpose of enabling the Minister for Industry and Commerce to acquire bog with a view to carrying out his experiments. I cannot imagine that whoever was responsible for the drafting of this section was really aware of the extraordinary powers which it gives the Land Commission for the purpose of acquiring bog; and not for the ordinary normal Land Commission purposes, but for the purpose of enabling another Minister to carry out some kind of undefined and unknown experiments. Surely it is up to the Minister to give the Dáil some indication as to the purposes for which the Minister for Industry and Commerce will acquire this bog, and, having acquired it, for what purpose he will utilise it.

The Attorney-General

The Deputy has so often referred to my knowledge of the bog areas in Mayo that I had better say something in defence of this section. I do not imagine there is the slightest apprehension amongst any smallholders in Mayo, even though I quite agree with what the Deputy has said about bog getting scarce and increasingly valuable. I agree that an invasion by the Minister for Industry and Commerce in a particular area would cause considerable disturbance, and might possibly affect the supply of turf in the homes of the people there. I first of all wish to tell the Deputy that in considering whether bog should be acquired or not the Minister for Industry and Commerce or the Minister for Lands and Fisheries would never think of entering such areas to acquire bog for development. The Deputy pretends he does not understand what is meant by development. The development, as I understand it, is the development of turbary as fuel.

There is not a word about fuel in this section.

The Attorney-General

It is difficult to understand any scheme which would consider the ultilisation of peat save as fuel, and I am quite certain that there are very few areas in the West which would not welcome the Minister for Industry and Commerce and all his works if he went there to develop the area. It would immediately give employment. It would immediately bring money into the particular district, and it would not in the slightest degree lessen the value of turbary as fuel, or lessen the supply of it in the area. However, apart from all that, as the Minister has said, there are 1,500,000 acres of bog. Everybody knows that although Deputy Dillon has waxed eloquent about the danger of interfering with rights of ownership, there are large areas of bog which are used only to house grouse and game. The owner would welcome the Minister for Industry and Commerce coming along and seeking to acquire his land under this Act, when he would have to pay him the market value of it. There has been a considerable amount of arrant nonsense talked about this section and its dangers. Even if the bog is acquired for the purpose of experiments by the Minister for Industry and Commerce as the Deputy has stated, it is not difficult to imagine what line such developments would take. Undoubtedly such development would be, I imagine, for the benefit of the community, but the local area would derive far more benefit from this development than the community as a whole. However, the Minister has indicated to Deputy MacDermot that he is quite prepared to consider inserting words which will relieve the anxieties of such people. I can imagine that the amendment if suggested by us would be opposed by Deputy Roddy on the ground that it does not protect the people whom he seeks to protect, because as Deputy Moore has pointed out, the person who is really hurt by the acquisition of turbary is the man who has rights of turbary and not the owner. Tenancies in turbary, at least in Mayo, are not at all protected. Tenant purchasers have merely rights of turbary, but the Minister is satisfied to introduce something which will be analogous with the wording of Section 37, that in exercising these powers, the Land Commission shall have due regard to the reasonable requirements of the owner and he will extend that protection to those who have right of turbary on the bog.

The Attorney-General has aroused my curiosity. He has given such a picture of the eagerness of people to dispose of bog that I am wondering why any such powers as these are necessary.

I am not satisfied with the explanation of the Attorney-General in this case. As the section is drawn, whatever powers the Land Commission have under Section 37 of the Act of 1923 on behalf of tenant purchasers is now going to be shared by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Then we have the phraseology in the section: "for the purpose of the development thereof, for such other purposes as the Minister for Industry and Commerce with the consent of the Minister for Finance shall approve." What is meant by "the development thereof or for any other purpose?" The development of the bog, as I understand it in this connection, is to exhaust the bog, to take from it what is in it. We have no particular objection to the development of turf as fuel at all. The objection is to watering down the rights that persons have and which are at present enshrined in Section 37 of the Land Act of 1923. The latter portion of that section states: "In exercising the powers given by this section the Land Commission shall have due regard to the reasonable requirements of the owner." The owner in that case I take it would be the landlord. The landlord is protected.

The Attorney-General

That was untenanted land. It might be the tenant purchaser.

I have very grave doubts of that.

Section 37 gives the Land Commission power to acquire any bog whether it is or is not subject to any rights of turbary.

And whether or not an advance under the Land Purchase Acts has been made.

Whether the land was redeemed or not.

The Attorney-General

That is your section.

The position is that so far as the rights of these persons are concerned, they are being watered down, that there is a new tenant brought in and the new tenant has the resources of the State behind him. Even the persons referred to by Deputy Moore can be deprived of their rights. These rights can be acquired by the Land Commission at a knock down price. Persons who are tenants on the bog at the moment and who may see an opportunity of getting a few pounds may sell their rights and subsequently be placed in a serious predicament owing to a shortage of fuel. They may have to buy coal or something of that sort. I wonder whether in connection with the development of fuel as an industry, due advertence has been made by the Land Commission to the shortage that has taken place in Connemara in the supply of fuel for the Arran Islands and for the coast of Clare. When the supply there is exhausted other arrangements will have to be made for supplying fuel from some other source. If the development contemplated in this section results in a shortage of fuel to these people the situation will be rather serious. In so far as the term "immediate neighbourhood" is concerned, it is said to be any distance up to 150 miles, but I do not know if a neighbourhood 150 miles away can be said to be the immediate neighbourhood even with all the advantages of modern transport. Section 37 of the Act of 1923 reads:—

The powers of the Land Commission under this Act to acquire any untenanted land shall include power so to acquire any bog for the purpose of providing turbary from the occupiers of land in the neighbourhood thereof.

We are all neighbours.

We are but that is not the interpretation under the Act and that is what we are dealing with. My fear in connection with this business is that the Minister for Industry and Commerce having at his disposal a group of experts will select the most profitable centres and select the best possible bogs for development. He will exhaust them in a comparatively short period. He will get them much nearer Dublin than 150 miles because transport charges will make it practically impossible to deal with the bogs which are far away.

There is a flat rate now.

Notwithstanding the distance?

Very good. That is an advantage for the Minister. I suppose he had that in mind when he was considering the working of a bog 150 miles away and spoke of it as being in the immediate neighbourhood of Dublin. The amendment reads: "Provided that such development does not adversely affect the rights of tenants of the bog." What is the objection to that? If they have any rights, I took it from what the Minister said, there is no intention to interfere with them. They could not possibly be accused of any such wicked attempt as adversely to affect the rights of the tenant. If there is no such intention to interfere with them, why not put that in the Statute? What is the objection to it? The amendment goes on: "Or make any undue encroachment on the future necessary supply of turbary for the said tenants." Is there anything wrong with that? I assume there is no objection to the democratic principle enshrined in the latter part of the amendment. Where does the Government derive the authority they have except from the votes of the people and why should not the tenants be allowed to exercise the same democratic right? I think the Minister would be well advised to accept the amendment. It will not interfere with any possible development the Minister for Industry and Commerce may have in contemplation so long as that development will not exhaust their future supply of turbary.

There are areas in this country which have a supply of turbary that would last them for the next 1,000,000 years if these areas were populated to the same extent as at present. Surely the Minister, the Land Commission officials and others have just as much commonsense as the members of the Opposition. The Minister for Industry and Commerce would have sufficient commonsense at any rate——

Question.

——if he wanted to develop the turbary bogs, not to go into an area which had only a couple of years' supply, instead of going into an area which had 1,000,000 years' supply. I believe there is nothing necessary to go into this section as it stands. I would be prepared to put in some words similar to those in the 1923 Act such as "the reasonable requirements of the tenant."

The owner!

Well, the man who has rights on the bog. I would go further than that. In every Act that has been passed in this House there has always been a certain amount of discretion. For instance, the Minister for Agriculture has power to acquire land for the purpose of forestry. When the Land Commission are picking out land for afforestation purposes they do not go to a place where land is scarce. They naturally go to a place where there are few people on the land and where the land is going for very little. The same would apply to bogs.

Does the Minister for Agriculture claim the same rights as the Land Commission to acquire land for forestry purposes?

It can be acquired compulsorily and, in certain cases, it is necessary to acquire it compulsorily where there is one person hanging out and all the neighbours agree that it should be taken.

Yes, but the amendment provides that such development would make no undue encroachment on the rights of the tenants. Has it been argued that it could be acquired where there was not such undue encroachment?

Yes, and found necessary.

Amendment put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 43; Níl, 62.

  • Alton, Ernest Henry.
  • Belton, Patrick.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Brennan, Michael.
  • Brodrick, Seán.
  • Burke, Patrick.
  • Byrne, Alfred.
  • Coburn, James.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Costello, John Aloysius.
  • Curran, Richard.
  • Davitt, Robert Emmet.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Grattan.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Finlay, John.
  • Fitzgerald, Desmond.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Holohan, Richard.
  • Keating, John.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • MacDermot, Frank.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Minch, Sydney B.
  • Morrisroe, James.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • O'Connor, Batt.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas Francis.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Neill, Eamonn.
  • O'Reilly, John Joseph.
  • O'Sullivan, Gearóid.
  • Redmond, Bridget Mary.
  • Reidy, James.
  • Rice, Vincent.
  • Roddy, Martin.
  • Rogers, Patrick James.
  • Thrift, William Edward.

Níl

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Blaney, Neal.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Cleary, Mícheál.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Cooney, Eamonn.
  • Corish, Richard.
  • Corkery, Daniel.
  • Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Daly, Denis.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • Donnelly, Eamon.
  • Everett, James.
  • Flinn, Hugo V.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Geoghegan, James.
  • Gibbons, Seán.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Jordan, Stephen.
  • Keely, Séamus P.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • O'Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Kelly, Seán Thomas.
  • Pattison, James P.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C. (Dr.).
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Bennett and O'Leary; Níl: Deputies Little and Smith.
Amendment declared lost.
Debate adjourned.