Land Bill, 1933—Fifth Stage.

I think it has been agreed that the Fifth Stage will be taken with the Estimates and other business the last thing before the adjournment.

Mr. Rice

Take it now.

Yes, better take it now.

I move: That the Bill do now pass.

Mr. Lynch

We intend to divide on the last stage of this Bill if for no other reason than that Section 27 still remains, that is the section which empowers the Land Commission, without allowing the tenants to go to any judicial authority, to issue warrants to the sheriffs to go in and seize for annuities due. We opposed that section in the Committee Stage, but did not succeed in having it eliminated. I say, if only for that section alone, I would feel it incumbent on me to divide the House on this Stage of the Bill. Unfortunately the latter part of the Committee Stage was rushed and there were some new sections inserted which were not at all discussed in the way that they deserved to be discussed. I am not at all satisfied that the section dealing with fisheries is one that would benefit the fisheries of this country. For instance, in the Minister's very brief statement he said nothing with regard to the position of existing leases which were safeguarded under the 1923 Land Act, where the 1923 Act dealt with fisheries.

The Minister mentioned the 1923 Act in his statement but he did not mention that important feature of the Act. I would like to hear from the Minister whether existing leases are to be protected because it is possible that very grave injustice might be done if they were not. In many ways I like the section because there were anomalies existing. There were the cases of rivers where you had the riparian owners buying under different Acts, some of them having their fishing rights and others not having them. That was a constant grievance. At any rate from the point of view of the rivers, if some owners have the fishing rights, it is just as well to give them all round. The river will probably be ruined anyhow. I would like to know what the intention of the Land Commission and the Department generally is with regard to these fisheries.

It used to be our opinion and it is still my opinion that from the point of view of salmon fishing it will be ruinous if the rivers are divided up amongst a great number of small proprietors unless there is some co-operative arrangement arrived at between these people along the river banks. Anybody who knows the country knows that if you have A, B, C and D along the lands abutting on a river, each one of them will fish his own portion to death without any regard to the river as a whole. That will mean the destruction of the spawning fish. It is a matter that deserves very careful consideration and it is a matter that the Minister, if he has not already consulted with the technical men of the Department of Lands and Fisheries, should consult with them before the Bill goes to the Seanad, with a view to seeing whether some safeguard would not be necessary with a view to the protection of the fishing as a whole.

I pointed out one section which makes the Bill extremely objectionable. There are, of course, others which we discussed in the Committee Stage of the Bill. There was the question of the extraordinary powers taken by the Minister, powers which were formerly held by the Land Commission. There is the question of arrears which accrued due during the last 12 months being funded. These arrears accrued during the period when the farmers could not pay their annuities. The same thing arose in connection with the annuities which accrued during the period of the economic war. We think it is unjustifiable. For these reasons we intend to oppose this Stage.

I shall continue to oppose this Bill if for no other reason than what appears to me to be its untimeliness in the middle of the so-called economic war; and also because even up to the last moment certain Fianna Fáil spokesmen carrying considerable weight in the country have continued to make very alarming declarations as to the manner in which this Bill is going to be operated. In view of these circumstances I do not feel free to withdraw my opposition. At the same time I do not like to part from this Bill without paying a tribute to the courtesy and spirit of accommodation that have been shown by the Acting-Minister for Lands and Fisheries and the Attorney-General. A large number of amendments have been accepted, some of considerable importance, and I think that whatever the defects of the Bill are as it stands at present, it is enormously preferable to what it was when it was at first introduced. The Minister and some of his colleagues have given us very specific assurances as to the spirit of impartiality and commonsense in which the Bill is going to be administered and as to the genuine degree of independence that is going to be left to the Land Commission and as to the absence of political pressure which a great many of the Fianna Fáil clubs expect to be able to exercise. If the assurances he has given are carried out I will not be slow to express my gratification when the occasion offers on the way in which the Bill is administered.

Deputy Lynch referred to the fisheries that are being taken over. When they are taken over they will be administered in the same way as the fisheries taken over under the 1923 Act, and for some time at any rate they will be kept as State lands. The Land Commission will be advised. It will have the advice of the Department's technical men. I think that on the whole the Dáil has done a good job with the Bill, and I think that all Deputies on all sides of the House have a right to congratulate themselves on the way they have handled it. I think the Bill has been improved in many respects since it came in. I have no doubt that if energetically administered it will help to put the country generally on its feet. We find ourselves in this position that there are a large number of unemployed people, people who could work land, and I only hope that those who have land will get ahead and employ as many as possible of the men who can work the land, thus producing what the country requires. There is one very big principle which has been agreed to by all sides of the House. It is a very big advance from the position taken up by the man who says: "My land is my own to do what I like with it." I think it has been generally agreed that a man's title to his land is the use he makes of it.

Deputies

No.

It has been generally agreed. I think that it is a proper attitude for Deputies and the Government to take that as there is only a restricted supply of land it will have to be used for the benefit of the whole community. I personally want to interfere as little as possible with the occupiers of land. I believe in individualism and I prefer to see a man going ahead and making as good use of his land as any other person could to disturbing him. We are giving him an opportunity to do that. As the amendment that was agreed to clearly indicates, if a man is prepared to go ahead, use his land, give employment and produce the foodstuffs the nation requires, he is not going to be disturbed. I trust that the work of the Land Commission will be made easy, that those who have land will give the utmost employment on it and save the Land Commission from the pressure to divide land that is badly used. A lot of obstacles in the way of the Land Commission have been removed and I believe that their work can be very much speeded up. I hope that the pressure on the Land Commission to divide up unused land or ill-used land will become lighter because of the action of the owners of that land in getting down to business, giving employment and producing what the nation requires.

Question put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 59; Níl, 42.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Blaney, Neal.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Cleary, Micheál.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Cooney, Eamonn.
  • 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.
  • Gibbons, Seán.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Jordan, Stephen.
  • Keely, Séamus P.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • 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.
  • Norton, William.
  • O'Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Kelly, Seán Thomas.
  • Pattison, James P.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C. (Dr.).

Níl

  • Alton, Ernest Henry.
  • Belton, Patrick.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Brennan, Michael.
  • Brodrick, Seán.
  • Burke, Patrick.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Costello, John Aloysius.
  • Curran, Richard.
  • Davitt, Robert Emmet.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Grattan.
  • Finlay, John.
  • Fitzgerald, Desmond.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Keating, John.
  • Kent, William Rice.
  • 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'Donovan, Timothy Joseph.
  • 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.
  • Wall, Nicholas.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Little and Smith: Níl: Deputies Bennett and O'Leary.
Question declared carried.
Bill ordered to be sent to Seanad.