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.