Land Bill, 1933—From the Seanad.

I move: That the Committee disagree with the Seanad in amendment 1:—

Section 2. Between lines 32 and 33 the following inserted:—

the expression "market value" means the price which a willing purchaser would pay to a willing vendor in a real market in which there is free competition.

It was explained by me in the Seanad that market value has a definite meaning. In the Land Commission there is a definite meaning given to it. It was given a definite meaning by the Land Courts for a long number of years. This particular definition adds nothing to the meaning already attached to the phrase in practice by the Land Commission Courts.

Question agreed to.

I move: That the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment 2:—

Section 6, sub-section (1). A new paragraph added at the end of the sub-section as follows:—

(g) the determination whether or not a holding has been used by the tenant thereof as an ordinary farm in accordance with proper methods of husbandry.

Question agreed to.

I move: That the Committee disagree with the Seanad in amendment 3:—

Section 6, sub-section (3). Paragraph (a) deleted and a new paragraph substituted therefor as follows:—

(a) an appeal shall lie to the appeal tribunal from the determination of any excepted matter, other than the matters comprised in paragraphs (d) and (e) of sub-section (1) of this section, and

Throughout the Land Acts there is provision made for an appeal, now to the appeal tribunal and formerly to the judicial commissioner, on specific points. This amendment gives a general appeal to the judicial commissioner or to the appeal tribunal on questions arising out of several of the excepted matters. It would mean an undue delay in the Land Commission work. Frivolous appeals could be made to the appeal tribunal that would completely clutter up the machinery of the Land Commission. We have already provided for such specific appeals as we think would be necessary or desirable in the interests of the tenant, the landowner and the community generally. I think the Dáil should agree with me that this amendment is uncalled for in the first place, and, in the second place, that it would do a lot of damage if it were allowed to pass.

Question agreed to.

I move: That the Committee disagree with the Seanad in amendment 4:—

Section 7, sub-section (2). The following words added at the end of the sub-section:—

"and the first lay commissioners so appointed shall both have been officers of the Land Commission prior to the 1st day of June, 1933."

The question at issue here is whether this Government is to be given the same powers of appointment of lay commissioners as was possessed by the last Government and the previous Government. It is because we hold that this Government should have the same rights and powers in that respect that we move the rejection of this amendment.

Mr. Lynch

Surely that is not the point made in this amendment? It is not a question of depriving the Executive Council of the power to appoint as many lay commissioners as it likes. The point in the amendment is that the first appeal tribunal shall be composed of persons who were commissioners on the 1st day of June, 1933. That is quite a different matter from what the Minister says. The amendment does not purport to deprive the Executive Council of the right to appoint commissioners when they think fit. It aims at having the appeal tribunal constituted of persons who have had experience of Land Commission work.

I understood the Minister to say during the Second Stage or the Committee Stage that it was the intention to appoint from the existing Land Commissioners the lay commissioners of the appeal tribunal. That was the intention. There is no restriction, as Deputy Lynch says, with regard to any further or future appointment. That was the intention, unless I have misinterpreted what the Minister stated. This amendment will carry out in effect what he indicated was the intention. The amendment sets out "and the first lay commissioners so appointed shall both have been officers of the Land Commission prior to the 1st day of June, 1933." The Executive Council has power to appoint persons as Land Commissioners. This amendment does not impose any restriction in that connection. It simply carries out what the Minister stated. I do not know whether he stated that in the Seanad, but I gathered from what was said here on the Second Reading or on Committee Stage that it was the intention to appoint the lay commissioners of the appeal tribunal from the existing land commissioners.

The last Government had power to appoint whoever it pleased as a lay commissioner or as an officer of the Land Commission. This amendment is restrictive.

It would deny to this Government if it so pleased, the right which I hold it should have irrespective of whether it is going to exercise it or not, to appoint a lay commissioner or an officer of the Land Commission from time to time as it thinks fit. There were several amendments moved in the Dáil slightly different from this particular one, but all had as their object the denial of the right of this Executive Council to appoint the person it thought best in all the circumstances to some particular post. It is because of that principle, and not because, in actual practice, that this would interfere with us in the appointment of lay commissioners that I am asking the Dáil to reject it.

Does the Minister deny what I have said, that he stated in this House it was the intention of the Executive Council to appoint from the present Land Commission the lay commissioners to the tribunal.

I remember that some one questioned me, and I said that if I had the appointment on that day of lay commissioners I would appoint two of the present officers of the Land Commission, but I think I was careful to give that information out of courtesy and not to admit for one second that the Opposition had the right to demand that they should restrict in any way the Government in its selection of lay commissioners.

The Opposition did not try at any time, during the course of the discussion, to limit the discretion of the Executive Council, but it is the right not alone of the Opposition but of the people to get an indication of what the Government's policy is. I certainly inferred from what the Minister stated that it was the intention to appoint from the existing officers of the Land Commission the two lay commissioners to the appeal tribunal. Has anything occurred since that date to alter the decision then come to?

This amendment is definitely restrictive, and I want to debate this question apart altogether from the intentions of the Government. I want to debate it definitely on the principle it contains. That principle is that this particular Government should not have the same liberty in the selection of its officers as the previous Government and the British Government had. I will not agree to that principle for one second.

As Deputy Cosgrave has pointed out, this amendment in no way restricts the Minister's right to appoint lay commissioners. What it does propose to do is to put into operation the implied promise of the Minister that the two lay commissioners to be appointed under this Act would not be new commissioners, but that they would be two officers at present serving in the Land Commission. The amendment does not restrict in any way the Minister's authority as to the appointment of the two commissioners. Its purpose is to ensure that the two commissioners appointed should have been existing commissioners on 1st June, 1933. I think the Minister ought to accept the amendment.

Question put: "That the Committee disagree with amendment 4 from the Seanad."
The Committee divided: Tá, 66; Níl, 33.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Breen, Daniel.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Browne, William Frazer.
  • Cleary, Mícheál.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Corkery, Daniel.
  • Corry, Martin John.
  • Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Daly, Denis.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • Donnelly, Eamon.
  • Everett, James.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Gibbons, Seán.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Hales, Thomas.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hayes, Seán.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Kissane, Eamonn.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • O'Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Doherty, Joseph.
  • O'Dowd, Patrick.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pattison, James P.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.

Níl

  • Anthony, Richard.
  • Beckett, James Walter.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Broderick, William Joseph.
  • Burke, James Michael.
  • Burke, Patrick.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Dolan, James Nicholas.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Finlay, John.
  • Holohan, Richard.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • MacDermot, Frank.
  • MacEoin, Seán.
  • McGuire, James Ivan.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Coburn, James.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Costello, John Aloysius.
  • Daly, Patrick.
  • Davis, Michael
  • Desmond, William.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • O'Connor, Batt.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Mahony, The.
  • O'Neill, Eamonn.
  • O'Sullivan, Gearóid.
  • Redmond, Bridget Mary.
  • Reidy, James.
Tellers:— Tá: Deputies Little and Traynor; Níl: Deputies Doyle and Bennett.
Question declared carried.
The following Seanad amendments were agreed to:—
5. Section 12, sub-section (2). The figures and letters "15th" deleted in line 24 and the figures and letters "31st" substituted therefor.
11. Section 16, sub-section (2). The figures and letters "15th" delete in line 36 and the figures and letters "31st" substituted therefor.
14. Section 17. The figures and letters "15th" deleted in line 62 and the figures and letters "31st" substituted therefor.

I think that the following two amendments from the Seanad, Nos. 12 and 13, should be taken together:—

12. New section. Before Section 17 a new section inserted as follows:—

17. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in Sections 12, 13, 14 and 15 of this Act, in every case in which the total aggregate amount of a purchase annuity, an annual sum equivalent to a purchase annuity, an additional sum, payment in lieu of rent or interest on purchase money, payable by any proprietor during the three years ending on the first gale day of the year 1933 has been paid, the amount payable by such proprietor for any instalment in respect of any of the above-mentioned liabilities after the first gale day in 1933 up to and including the first gale day in 1939 shall (unless such proprietor shall give notice in writing to the Land Commission of his desire to the contrary) not be payable by or recoverable from such proprietor, but such instalments of liability shall be payable by means of a funding annuity in like manner in all respects as if there had been an amount of arrears of liability due by such proprietor equal to the aggregate amount of liability payable by him during the three years ending on the first gale day in 1933.

13. New section. Before Section 17 a new section inserted as follows:—

17. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in Sections 12, 13, 14 and 15 of this Act, in every case in which any instalment or instalments of a purchase annuity, an annual sum equivalent to a purchase annuity, an additional sum, payment in lieu of rent or interest on purchase money, payable by any proprietor during the three years ending on the first gale day of the year 1933 has or have been paid, an amount equivalent to the amount so paid shall (unless such proprietor shall give notice in writing to the Land Commission of his desire to the contrary) not be payable by or recoverable from such proprietor in respect of an instalment or instalments accruing due on foot of any of the above-mentioned liabilities after the first gale day in 1933 up to and including the first gale day in 1939, but shall be payable by means of a funding annuity.

I move: That the Committee disagree with the Seanad in these two amendments.

If these were passed it might possibly involve the Exchequer in a loss of something like £8,000,000 in the next six years. Deputy Hogan (Galway) talked last night about demoralisation, but if men, who are in a position to pay, are to be allowed to go free for six years, I think it would well nigh be impossible to restart the collection of the land annuities. There is no necessity to argue here in the Dáil that any money the State is entitled to can be well spent on certain social services, for which all Deputies here are longing. These moneys, half the land annuity payments, are moneys to which the State is entitled. Certainly, so far as anyone can see, there will be great need in the next six years for the State to have these funds to spend on very necessary social services. There is one omission from these amendments —persons to whom the land was allotted. Where estates were taken over and divided and given to the allottees, these allottees would not be entitled to the same remission for six years as the people who make payment to the Land Commission.

I do not want to discuss this matter, but when the Minister says that the State owns the land and is entitled to get the money, that is not so. The State does not own the land. The land is owned by the people, and if there is any liability it should be discharged by the people; but it is nonsense to say that the State is the owner of the land.

I said that the State is entitled to these land annuities.

It is entitled to no more than is legally due to it.

The State, through its representatives, has decided it is entitled to these land annuities. The majority has spoken on the matter.

Majorities do not make things better or moral if they are immoral. You cannot legalise immorality or make moral what is immoral.

The Deputy tried to do that for a number of years.

There is no morality in this.

If the Deputy preaches that gospel he is going to demoralise this country. The State has a moral as well as a legal right to these annuities, and any person who preaches that it is immoral for the State to exercise its moral and legal rights is demoralising the country.

I say it is ridiculous and nonsense to talk about moral rights in this connection and the Minister knows it.

Question—"That the Committee disagrees with the Seanad in amendments 12 and 13"—put and agreed to.

I move: That the Committee disagrees with the Seanad in amendments 15 and 16:—

15. Section 26, sub-section (3). The sub-section deleted and the following two sub-sections substituted therefor:—

(3) No deficiency in the Purchase Annuities Fund or the Land Bond Fund arising from the non-payment of any instalment of a purchase annuity or a revised annuity or any other annual payment which accrues due after the passing of this Act shall be a charge upon the Guarantee Fund.

(4) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (4) of Section 1 of the Land Act, 1923, as amended by Section 3 of the Land Bond Act, 1925, no sum paid after the passing of this Act out of the Central Fund of Saorstát Eireann or the growing produce thereof under the provisions of the said sub-section shall be a charge upon or made good out of the Guarantee Fund.

16. Section 27. A new sub-section added at the end of the section as follows:—

(4) All deficiencies in the Land Bond Fund arising from the non-payment of any instalment of a purchase annuity or a revised annuity or any other annual sum which accrues due after the passing of this Act shall, to such extent and at such time or times as the Minister for Finance shall direct, be made good to that Fund out of moneys to be provided by the Oireachtas.

These amendments would mean the abolition of the Guarantee Fund and the substitution of the Central Fund as the fund out of which deficiencies should be made up if the land annuities are not paid. The Guarantee Fund has been going on for a number of years. If a certain percentage of the annuities are not paid in any particular county, they are deducted from the State grants to that county. This helps in the collection of land annuities, and we are, therefore, asking the Dáil to reject the amendments Nos. 15 and 16.

I suppose this would be the time for the Minister to tell the House when it is proposed to give the local authorities the moneys which they have contributed towards the Land Purchase Fund for a number of years. We had a statement previously that that was going to be done. I should like the Minister to say now, or at some early date, if it is proposed to give them back the full amount deducted from them, and when.

That is a statement which should properly be made by the Minister for Finance in his Budget speech. I cannot say anything about it in the meantime.

Am I right in believing that this amendment was partially directed at rectifying a situation which the Bill in its original form would create? Local authorities have been required to make up the Guarantee Fund in respect of arrears in the past. Some of the revised annuities referred to in this amendment are annuities which contain a funding arrangement. This amendment refers in part, I think—the Minister will correct me if I am wrong —to the annuities on foot of funded arrears. If the local authorities are to be made liable again for future default by a tenant in his annuities in respect of funded arrears, it will mean that the local authorities will be made twice liable for the same default. Would the Minister agree with me that that does not seem to be equitable, that, having made up the default, the ratepayers should not be asked to make it up a second time?

The situation is this, that I promised on behalf of the Government on former stages of the Bill that the moneys withheld from the local authorities, which they would get back over a period of 50 years in the ordinary way, would be made available to them by the Minister for Finance at a much earlier date in lump sums from time to time. Therefore, the situation in regard to the funded debt is this: that for the last ten years or so the amount of moneys withheld from the local authorities was almost the same over all that period. It was a continually changing pool. Some people were coming into it; other people were going out of it, but the net practical result for the local authorities was that during that period of ten years or more, they were out of pocket to the extent of £800,000 or £900,000. We propose to alter that situation. The probabilities are that if nothing happens they will go on for ever being £800,000 or £900,000 out of pocket, though still, as the law stands, the local authorities are entitled to get that amount that has been withheld from them during the last ten years. They would get it back in moieties over 50 years, but instead of that the Minister for Finance will pay a lump sum to them from time to time.

Would the Minister say where that is in the Bill?

Part of the funded annuity which has been paid into the Land Commission automatically goes to the county councils to wipe out their indebtedness to the Guarantee Fund.

That was before the law was changed. Will the Minister say where it is in the Bill.

It is in the Bill.

I cannot say at the moment but it is in the Bill.

Question put and declared carried.

Amendments Nos. 17 and 20 go together.

I move: That the Committee disagree with the following amendments:—

17. Section 29, sub-section (1). The words and figures "the sum of £2,000" deleted in lines 52-53 and the following words and figures substituted therefor:—"where the land in question, or portion of such land, is situated within a radius of 15 miles from any of the cities of Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford the sum of £4,000, and where such land is situated elsewhere the sum of £3,000."

20. Section 29, sub-section (1). The figures "£2,000" deleted in line 60 and the figures and words "£4,000 or £3,000, according to the situation of the land as defined in this sub-section," substituted therefor.

These two amendments are directed towards increasing the size of a farm which cannot be touched by the Land Commission even though it is altogether unworked by the owner. We believe that £2,000 worth of land is the most that the State can afford to leave with an owner under the present circumstances without providing that he should utilise that land to the best advantage for the community. Farms below £2,000 in value, or thereabouts, are on the average worked very well throughout the country. They are giving an amount of employment or giving livelihoods to large families and it is not necessary from the community point of view to interfere with such farms. I am not stating that at no future date can the State afford to ignore the use that is being made of farms below £2,000 in value, but under the present circumstances and with our present population we can afford to ignore the use that is being made of farms worth £2,000 and under, particularly when we know that as a general rule the best possible use is being made of them.

Is that statement correct? Does the Government, in fact, ignore the use that is made of farms value £2,000 and under? Under Section 29, is it not required that they should be resident farms and farmed according to proper methods of husbandry? The £2,000 worth of land is to be farmed in the same manner as an ordinary farm, in accordance with the proper methods of husbandry?

That is so.

Then I suggest it is not quite correct to state that the State does ignore how small farms are used.

It is not ignoring them altogether, but it is not paying as much attention to them as it is going to pay to the large farms.

I trust the Minister will excuse me laying emphasis on this occasion on something that it is very necessary the members of his own Party should realise. What they should realise, or what the people of this country should realise, is that every tenant purchaser in this country, whether he has ten pounds worth of land or ten thousand pounds worth of land, can be changed out of his holding to-morrow, when this Act becomes law. There is not a farmer, large or small, in this country who has any security of tenure in the homestead of his family after this Bill becomes law. It is true —and this is the only safeguard Fianna Fáil has left—that if he is working his land, as most of the small farmers in this country do work their land, he is entitled to demand that the Land Commission will provide him anywhere else in Ireland—that is all he can claim— with a farm of equal market value which the Commissioners consider to be suitable for the tenant purchaser. It was a long and tedious——

I should like to draw the Deputy's attention to the fact that when amendments come from the Seanad they are discussed in Committee, but the only points that arise in the discussion are agreement to, disagreement to, or amendment of such amendments, and the point here is whether the value be £2,000, £3,000 or £4,000. The other matter has been decided by the House and no amendment is offered.

I quite agree and I am merely drawing attention to the fact that the limitation contained in this amendment does not go so far as the Minister's statement would seem to suggest it did. I am trying to draw the attention of the House to the fact that this amendment is extremely conservative. It does not go to the root of the matter at all. There is no question of confirming any man irrevocably in his land if it is worth less than £3,000 or less than £4,000. It is only asking you to give him a certain privilege and a very limited privilege and what I am suggesting is that there are a great many Deputies sitting on those benches opposite who are under a complete misapprehension as to what the privilege is. A lot of them still have the delusion in their minds that security of tenure for the tenant purchasers of this country is still unimpaired if they have not got land of a market value greater than £2,000. I want them to realise that that is not so. Security of tenure has gone for everybody, be he large or small, but there is some little safeguard left in the Land Bill and I want Deputies fully to realise how trivial that safeguard is and how little reluctance they need have in extending it to the other classes. That is the purpose of my remarks and the suggestion here is that for the sum of £2,000, the sums of £3,000 and £4,000 should be substituted. To tell the truth, the safeguard is of such trivial significance that I do not think it is worth quarrelling about who it is extended to. I would not be bothered casting a vote for it but it is a very small thing if the Party opposite could bring themselves to accede to it. I want them to realise how very, very small it is.

A question arises on this amendment, apart altogether from the actual figures of £2,000, £3,000 or £4,000, as to what the policy of the Ministry is with regard to the £2,000. Is that a clear-cut figure? Is no person to have more than £2,000 worth of land in future? In the case of a person with a holding worth £2,050, or a person whose land is worth £2,100 or £2,150, is the £50, the £100 or the £150 excess value of land to be cut off and to be given to somebody else or is there to be a general discretion with the Land Commission not to interfere in such a case as that? It is almost impossible in framing laws and making regulations to come down to what is the exact figure, but I feel that there are quite a large number of people whose holdings are of a value of £2,000 with a couple of hundred pounds over who might have their minds eased to some extent if it were known that a small field, which might be of considerable advantage to a holding, was not going to be removed from them because the holding was valued for over £2,000.

There is no intention on the part of the Government to cut all farms in the country down to £2,000 value. If the larger farms are used in a proper way and are giving proper employment and producing an adequate amount of foodstuffs they will not be touched, but if the proprietors of large farms ignore the interests of the community and refuse to give a proper amount of employment, or produce an adequate amount of foodstuffs, the Land Commission has the right to step in and take the land down to £2,000 worth from them.

There is just one point in connection with the question of foodstuffs which I should like to raise. There are some institutions in the country which are agricultural holdings, such as bloodstock farms and pure-bred cattle farms. Are those to come under the heading of foodstuffs, or is the question of the employment and the value of the bloodstock farms to be considered in relation to their employing capacity and their value to the community? The same applies to the other institutions. There are not many, but they are very useful, and although they might not be regarded as producing foodstuffs, they are nevertheless giving much-needed employment.

I know of no person in the country who takes a keen and intelligent interest in development of bloodstock who is not giving an adequate amount of employment.

With regard to the first point raised by Deputy Cosgrave, as to the margin of value over £2,000, might I ask the Minister whether the Estimates in these cases will not be very approximate? When an official of the Land Commission is giving a report on such a case, will he have to visualise an auction at which there is bidding from a number of people and will his estimate not have to allow for a very wide margin? Surely it would be impossible for any official to say that, say, nine-tenths of a farm if put up for sale would fetch £2,000 and that ten-tenths would fetch more than £2,000? I hardly think that Deputy Cosgrave's point could possibly arise in practice, because I think that the utmost that could be done in such a case is to give an approximate estimate of the amount that the land would fetch if put up for sale by public auction.

Question put and agreed to.

I move: That the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendments 18 and 19:—

Section 29, sub-section (1). After the word "Commissioners" in line 57 the words "consider to be suitable for such tenant or proprietor and also consider" inserted.

Section 29, sub-section (1). The word "consider" deleted in line 59.

Question agreed to.

I move: That the Committee disagree with the Seanad in amendment 21:—

Section 29, sub-section (2). A new sub-section inserted before the sub-section as follows:—

(2) Where a tenant or proprietor is the owner of two holdings in the same locality, the market value of each of which exceeds £2,000 and on one of which such tenant or proprietor or the wife or husband of such tenant or proprietor resides and one of which, or portion of one of which, holdings is declared land, the Land Commission shall at the request of such tenant or proprietor withdraw the declaration that the declared land is required for the relief of congestion, and may declare the other of such holdings, or such portion thereof as the Land Commission think proper, to be required for the relief of congestion.

This amendment was directed to ensure that where the owner had two holdings, each of which was over £2,000 in value, he could direct the Land Commission as to which of the two they would take. It is an extraordinarily narrow amendment. It might cover one case in the country. It is hard to visualise it governing more than a couple of cases. A man might have £4,500 worth of land in two separate holdings or there might be a few cases where a man would have two divisions each of which would be worth over £2,000. That is the only case where the right would be given under the amendment to direct the Land Commission as to which portion of a farm was to be taken. If a man had £4,000 worth of land in one holding and £500 worth of land in another holding that right is not given. Each of the holdings must be worth over £2,000 in value. I cannot see why, if that man is to be given the right to tell the Land Commission which portion of his land they are to take, every other farmer should not be given the same right and for that reason I ask the Dáil to agree with the Committee.

I see very little reason for rejecting the amendment. I see very little point in what the Minister said, having regard to our experience during the last 12 months, when one Bill was withdrawn by the Ministry in order to get in a particular case, and another Bill had to be amended to provide for the wife of a member of the Fianna Fáil Party. If there are such cases what is the objection to dealing with them? If a man has two holdings he may have been born and reared in the one which the Land Commission may elect to take. That man may have acquired another farm some distance away, but would prefer to have the old holding. He is prevented from exercising discretion. The Land Commission is to have complete control as to whether they will take the family homestead or not. I know of no case in which the question may arise. If there are any such cases surely some consideration should be given to persons' wishes as to what portion of the property they wish to retain. What objection is there to that? If a case occurs where a man has £4,000 worth of land in one holding, and £500 worth of land in another holding there should be no objection on the part of the Dáil to give him some discretion in that case. It might not be enshrined in the Bill. The Minister could undertake to do it. The fact that it is not provided for is no reason why the inclination of the owner to retain any portion of the land should not be considered. The matter was discussed at considerable length when we were dealing with the taking of £2,000 worth of land from a person with £4,000 worth of land. For the £2,000 worth of land that person is going to get bonds, the value of which we do not know at the moment. They are going to enter into possession of £90 of an income for that £2,000 worth of land. While the owners get £90 they lose the right to ask the Land Commission to leave them the farm they want.

I appeal to the Minister as a matter of justice to accept the amendment. It is the first time I heard the Government objecting to doing acts of justice, because few people would benefit. I cannot for the life of me see that that is a valid objection. There is really no case quite analogous to this. Take the case of a man with two holdings worth £4,000 and £500. That is not analogous. The same situation will not exist. It seems to me an entirely reasonable suggestion that a man should be allowed to exercise discretion of choice as between the two holdings provided for in the amendment. I appeal to the Minister to let the amendment go in as a matter of justice. The number of people likely to benefit may not be very great. We cannot estimate how many people would be benefited. On the face of it the proposal is just and equitable.

There must be a large number of holdings of this class. There are cases of people who have a couple of holdings in excess of £2,000 in value, on one of which in recent years expensive buildings have been erected by the owner, who might be preparing to go and live there. It would be an injustice if such a man had not some choice as to the farm he wanted as a residential holding for himself or his family. There are other cases where people have lived in a house for centuries, who perhaps possess another farm some distance away, on which there is a herd's house and other buildings. Perhaps the Land Commission would take the house in which the family resided. That would be a great injustice. I see no objection to the amendment and I think the Minister should accept it.

As Deputy MacDermot has pointed out, there can be no objection to the principle of the amendment. It is a valuable thing for a person to feel that he has protection in the law. I have very little doubt that if a case of this kind arose the Land Commission would not deliberately go and take a man's homestead if there was an equally suitable holding in his possession next door. There might be people in the neighbourhood, and we all know the type, who take certain pleasure in painting up something on the walls or holding a meeting and saying: "We will take that place before very long. The people have come into their own." It is a valuable thing for any citizen of the State to feel that the law is on his side, and to know that no matter what irresponsible agitation may arise, he has the right to protection from the State, and that no kind of agitation can create a situation in which any injustice might be done. That is the real reason why I would like the Minister to accept the amendment. As the Bill left the Dáil the Minister and the Opposition were throwing bouquets at one another and we were told that we were reasonable. I was not quite so enthusiastic but the Minister was ecstatic about how reasonable I was. At first the Minister might have felt that this amendment was really unnecessary. I think he should realise that there might be a few individuals in whose minds a feeling of insecurity would be created by the Bill as it stands unamended, whose feelings of insecurity could be effectively quietened by accepting the amendment. It is not going to hinder the Minister in any way. These few individuals will then feel a most desirable sense of security for all time, a sense of security that they would be deprived of if the amendment were not there. I suggest to him now that, in order to promote a continuance of this reciprocal enthusiasm for our reason and good sense in this matter of legislation, he should change his mind and say: "If there is any real feeling that this will be of assistance to anybody, it is going to be of no hindrance to me and it can go."

There is one point to which it may be no harm to call attention. Amongst these few people, there will probably be some cranks. Take the case of a man with two such holdings—one of good land on which it would be desirable to settle congests, the other consisting of very bad land, almost useless but which would still be accounted arable land. Are we to give power to such a crank to say: "I will insist upon your taking the utterly unsuitable holding."

Is it the intention to leave the poor landowner on the bog? Now the Minister sees the reason for the amendment.

Could a man who preferred to keep the good land instead of the bad for his own use be described as a "crank?"

We have got to take care that we do not give such individuals power to retain all the good in their own land and to foist over the bad on us. It is just possible that that point may have escaped notice.

A Daniel come to judgment.

The cranks are not all on one side.

Does the Minister see now why we have some anxiety when so well-intentioned and transparently honest a man as Deputy Goulding takes up such a position? It shows the odd thoughts that will come into the mind of a man who is perfectly sincere and who does not want to do any injustice.

Deputy Dillon is always carried away by his own eloquence. When it pleases him to call political opponents "perfectly sincere," he so describes them with all sincerity.

Who would challenge Deputy Goulding's sincerity?

We made a fair job of this Bill in the Dáil last time. That is not to throw bouquets at any of us. Because we made a good job of it, I do not want to see it spoiled by the introduction of an amendment like this. Will any Deputy tell me what right a man who has two holdings, each of which is over £2,000 in value, has over his neighbour, who has land of equal value in one holding? The splitting up of land, value for £5,000, into two holdings, each of which is over £2,000 value, does not occur very often in the country. If a man who has £5,000 worth of land in two holdings of over £2,000 value is to have the right to tell the Land Commission which portion of his land they are to take, surely his neighbour should have an equal right, even though his holding is not split into two parts of over £2,000 value each. Although, under the Act, as it stands, the owner of land has not the right to compel the Land Commission, to take whatever portion of his land he likes, still the Land Commission, in all their actions, have been reasonable. If a man has a fair amount of bad land, as well as good land, the Land Commission will not take all the good land and leave him with the bad land. Neither, if there were congests in the district which had to be relieved, would they be content to take his bogs if he had good land suitable for the purpose as well. This question has to be left to the discretion of the Land Commission. This amendment does not apply to .005 per cent of the land of the country. I do not see why .005 of the land should be protected in this way and the rest left unprotected. The rest is left to the discretion of the Land Commission and the Land Commission in the future, as in the past, when taking over land, whether divided in this particular way or not, will advert to the situation of the owner as well as to the needs of the congests of the locality. They will endeavour to take land from a large landowner in such a way as to suit their particular purpose and to do as little damage as possible to him.

In this connection, there is one point which the Minister might consider. I should expect that if the Land Commission had a choice between taking land from an owner with a holding worth £5,000 in one lot and taking land from an owner with land of equal value in two lots, on one of which he was residing, they would be more inclined to take it from the man who had separate lots. Is not that so?

The two lots may be simply under two receivable orders. The man with one lot might have his land scattered over the whole countryside, whereas you might have a man with five legal lots which would be side by side and constitute really one composite farm.

The Minister asked why a person who had his land in two lots should receive preferential treatment over a person whose land happens to be in one lot. Where you have land value over £2,000 on which there is a homestead and another "take" of land in the immediate locality of over £2,000 value, owned by the same person, the ordinary presumption is that the first is the homestead and that, from time to time, the owner acquired land in the neighbourhood for one purpose or another. Very often land is acquired in that way for the purpose of settling a son. As the law stands now, if a farmer does that, he jeopardises his own homestead. The moment he acquires another holding in the neighbourhood, on which to settle a child or, perhaps, to convenience a neighbour who wants to realise some cash, he will be endangering his own homestead, although he may be really holding the second lot of land in trust for a child or a friend. We want to secure that if a man acquires that second "take," it will not react on the homestead.

The amendment does not say that.

Surely it does.

If a man has £2,000 worth of land and he acquires another farm value for £2,000 in the immediate neighbourhood, the moment he does so his original holding becomes liable to the operation of this Bill and the Land Commission can go in and acquire the land on either "take." If a man has a sacrosanct holding as his homestead and buys another "take" in the immediate locality for £2,000, that should not give the Land Commission any pre-emptive right to go in and take his homestead. The landholder should be in a position to tell the Land Commission that they must not take the land he requires himself.

This amendment does not do what the Deputy said.

This amendment gives the landowner the right to elect as between two pieces of land, which the Land Commission will take, provided they are in the same locality.

It would give that right to about half a dozen farmers out of 450,000.

None of us, I imagine, really know accurately how many there are, but, presumably, the man who put down the amendment did know of some cases where real hardship would accrue. I do not know of a single case, to tell you the honest truth, but I am presuming that there are such cases in existence. I am only making my argument as the Minister admits that it is not going to involve the Land Commission in any serious embarrassment. If he said it would seriously embarrass the Department, not having any knowledge that there is a serious issue at stake, I would not press for it. But it is not going to embarrass the Department in any way, and the man who put down the amendment must have known of some cases, and some of my colleagues around me agree that such cases do exist.

Question put and agreed to.

I move: That the Committee disagree with the Seanad in amendment 22:—

Section 29. A new sub-section added at the end of the section as follows:—

(8) Nothing in this section shall empower the Land Commission to declare that any land which is held by and used for the purposes of a religious community, or which is used in connection with a school or college or with a sanatorium or private mental home, is required for the purpose of relieving congestion.

Question put and agreed to.

I move: That the Committee disagree with the Seanad in amendment 23:—

Section 31, sub-section (2). The words "on a question of law" deleted in line 20.

This matter was argued at great length on the Committee Stage and on the Report Stage in the Dáil.

Question put and agreed to.

I move: That the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment 24:—

Section 32, sub-section (3). The word "children" deleted in line 3 and the word "relatives" substituted therefor.

This will take in relatives as well as children when calculating the amount of employment a man is giving on his farm.

Question put and agreed to.

I move that the Committee disagree with the Seanad in amendment 25:—

Section 34, sub-section (2). The sub-section deleted and a new sub-section substituted therefor as follows:—

(2) Nothing in this section shall apply to any sporting rights (including fishing rights) which are the subject of a lease or letting by the owner thereof to a lessee or tenant who exercises such rights or to any sporting rights (including fishing rights) exercised and enjoyed by an owner who is resident in Saorstát Eireann.

This amendment would absolutely destroy the effect of the proposal in the Bill. I believe that a lot of trouble would be caused in the country if we allowed the sporting rights that are held by people to whom the landholders object to continue.

Did the Minister say, if they are held by unpopular people?

The Land Commission have to take cognisance of whether sporting rights if exercised by the owners will cause trouble in a certain locality. They had to take cognisance of that from the very start in order to abolish the rights of some of the former landlords who were causing a lot of trouble in different localities. They began where the most trouble was. At the present moment certain former landlords and the people to whom they let the sporting rights have sporting rights over the ordinary farmers' land and those farmers object to that. In the section we are enabling the Land Commission to acquire sporting rights like that in such circumstances and vest them in the landholder if he is prepared to pay for them. There are a certain number of sporting rights still held by landlords according to the law and they never exercise them. The Land Commission are not going to bother about those, but where trouble arises in a district, and the ordinary farmer, who has not the sporting rights over his lands, objects to somebody coming in and shooting over them, where he says to the Land Commission that he is prepared to buy those sporting rights, the Land Commission can proceed to acquire the sporting rights and sell them to the farmer.

That is with regard to the ordinary sporting rights. Then there are the fishing rights. This amendment of the Seanad would absolutely destroy the section. We want to have the power, where a river is not being properly worked to acquire the fishing rights and vest them in the Land Commission or in the Department of Fisheries and work them. There are a number of rivers throughout the country that are being well worked by the present owners. On the other hand, there are rivers that are being absolutely destroyed by the owners of some particular stretches of the rivers. We are taking power to acquire the rivers if necessary and vest the fishing rights in the Land Commission.

You will have power subsequently to vest these acquired rights in the riparian owner?

Yes, where the rights are not worth anything.

Mr. Lynch

That is not stated.

It was not stated either in the 1923 Act.

Mr. Lynch

The 1923 Act protected the existing leases. Will the leases be interfered with?

They will. What right has a leaseholder got that an owner has not got? The owner is a for-ever leaseholder and under the 1923 Act power was taken to break the for-ever leaseholder's grip and to acquire his fisheries. That has been done in several cases, and instead of vesting those fishing rights in the owners of the land along the banks of the river they were vested in the Land Commission and were operated by the Department of Fisheries. That has happened in several cases. It is only the fishing rights that were valueless or practically valueless that were sold or vested in the farmers along the banks. Exactly the same policy will be continued in the future, that where the Land Commission desire to acquire a river they should have power to acquire it. The parts of it that were valuable for fishing or for breeding purposes would be retained by them and operated by the Fisheries Department. The parts that were valueless for any purpose, either for breeding or for fishing, would be disposed of to the neighbouring farmers.

I am afraid the Minister has not made the matter very clear. I am supporting the Seanad amendment; I am supporting it merely as the next best thing to the deletion of Section 34 of the Bill altogether. Deputies will remember that, owing to the fact that an agreement was arrived at between the Whips that the Committee Stage of this Bill would be given at a certain hour, a big number of amendments from this side of the House were dropped, and a number from the Government side were allowed to be inserted in the Bill with practically no discussion whatever. Amongst them was this new section. Now that was very unfortunate, because I think that this House would have been slow to allow Section 34 to become part of this piece of legislation if there had been such a discussion as to the probable effects of the insertion of that section as the case merited.

It might be well for Deputies to understand that we have a very big national asset in our inland fisheries, and that this asset, in order to thrive and develop, requires nothing more than systematic protection. We should, therefore, be extremely careful here in the Oireachtas to see that no hasty act of ours should render that systematic protection impossible. There are very many interests involved in the salmon fisheries. They are not all landlords or ex-landlords, or even the idle rich whom Deputy Norton loves to hold forth about. There are numerically far more working fishermen and labourers involved in this section than there are landlords or ex-landlords or wealthy sportsmen. Deputies should understand that for the purposes of protection at any rate any one river and its tributaries should be treated as a unit. The fishery administration recognises that in the division of the country into fishery areas, each of which is governed by a Board of Conservators. The river and its tributaries from mouth to source must be treated as one for the purposes of protection. If any one portion of the river or of its tributaries is subject to the activities of the poacher, whether it be poisoning or any other of the poacher's activities, you will almost inevitably have the whole river ruined. It is far more the concern of the net man at the estuary, who is living either wholly or partly on his catch, than it is the concern of the sportsman that the fish should be allowed up the river to spawn, and should not be interfered with during the spawning season. The Minister can be informed in the Fisheries Department that it follows as surely as night follows day that if, say, in the year 1934 fish are not allowed to spawn, then as surely in the year 1937 and onwards there will be no fish returning to that particular river. That is well known. It is no wonder, therefore, that the net men have wakened up to the position that is being created by the insertion of this section. We have read in the papers day after day of resolutions which have been passed by net men, as well as Boards of Conservators, protesting against the inclusion of this section—protesting against the threat to their livelihood that is being made by this section.

Every sensible person knows that it is an extremely difficult job to protect fish going up a river to spawn, even in the best circumstances. The smaller the stretches of river that are under single ownership the more difficult you make that job of protection, and Section 34 if carried out would make the thing impossible. The Minister says that certain fisheries will not be handed over, and that there are others which will. Presumably if the leaseholder or owner is objectionable his fisheries are going to be taken anyhow, and as far as we can gather they are going to be handed over to the gentlemen who are agitating. There may be something to be said for the handing over to riparian owners if such handing over were of any value to them, but if a man purchases his fisheries he will have to pay an additional annuity for them. Those fisheries are valued for poor law valuation purposes and he will have to pay additional rates. Rates are paid to the Board of Conservators under the Act of 1925. He would, therefore, be saddled with an increased annuity and increased rates for something that as surely as we are standing here will not, at the end of two years at any rate, be worth one brass farthing.

If the Deputy will excuse me, is it not rather late now to discuss the ill-effects of the particular section?

Mr. Lynch

I am discussing the amendment, which remedies the unitary ownership, if you like. I will afterwards come to the other question of alternative single ownership.

Is it not a fact that no matter what we may do with regard to this amendment the bulk of the fisheries will still remain subject to the section inserted on the Committee Stage?

Mr. Lynch

I am dealing with the effect if this amendment is not passed. The amendment at least provides for a certain amount of unitary ownership. I say I would prefer if the section were not there at all, but since we cannot delete the section the amendment is, at any rate, the next best thing.

On a point of information I should like the Deputy to deal with the reasons why power was taken under the 1923 Act to take fishing rights at all?

Mr. Lynch

I will make my speech as I intended to make it, without any interference, but I will come to that point, too. The 1923 Act protects, at any rate, leaseholders. It did not give power, as apparently this does, to hand over valued fisheries to riparian owners. They would be paying increased annuities and increased rates for something that would not be worth anything to them. In the meantime the net fishermen would be put out of business and the sporting amenities of the river destroyed.

Some Deputies opposite sneer at sporting amenities. The sporting value of our fisheries is something of very great importance to the country as a whole. It would be almost impossible to arrive at any figure which could be considered even approximately accurate as to the amount of money which is brought into the country or put into circulation in the country at any rate as a result of these sporting rights. Put any figure you like on it. Perhaps the Tourist Development Association might have some rough idea of what the figure should be. At any rate, one can take it that our fishing and shooting amenities cause the circulation of an enormous sum of money each year in the country. If any Deputy will consider his own constituency he will have some idea of what these rights would be worth in the country as a whole. In my constituency of Kerry, for instance, Killarney would probably attract tourists even if it did not have these amenities. But I venture to say that the tourist who spends most money there and who is of the most value locally to boatmen, hotel proprietors, car owners and so on, is the sportsman tourist. In some areas in Kerry, like Waterville and Glencar, and Kenmare and such tourist centres, tourists are almost entirely attracted because of the sporting amenities.

I would certainly be slow to deprive these places of their main attraction, and I would be very sorry that any act of mine should deprive the boatmen, working fishermen, hotel proprietors, car owners and farmers, who supply the hotels during the tourist season, of the income they derive each year as a result of sporting and fishing rights. The amendment is only the next best thing to scrapping the clause. At least it will protect the lessees as they were protected under the 1923 Act, and in that way by keeping large portions of the river under single ownership, the amendment will make systematic protection possible. Apart from the amount of money spent by Boards of Conservators annually in fishery protection, these fishery owners themselves spend large sums of money in protecting their own portion of the river. It would be impossible to expect that the riparian owners could do this work themselves. They could not afford it. Any given portion of the river that the riparian owner would own would not justify him in spending a halfpenny in protection.

If the Government want to deal with this question of fishery ownership there is a way of doing it. If they want to do it let them nationalise the fisheries; and a very good case could be made out for nationalising the fisheries; at any rate it would be a thing well worthy of consideration here. If they want to do this it should be done by bringing in a Fishery Purchase Bill just as the Land Purchase Bill was brought in to buy out the landlords. They could bring in a Fishery Purchase Bill to buy out the fishery rights. If they want to do the thing properly that is the way to do it. What we are doing by this section, unless the amendment is carried, is to destroy the rivers for the net men and the sportsmen and fishery proprietors all alike without giving the slightest benefit to anybody.

There is no doubt, but Deputy Lynch made a fairly good case or tried to make a fairly good case on a very bad subject. He asked us to look out for special cases in our own constituency. I will give the Deputy a very special case. It is the case of a poor man who broke himself coming up here to see Deputy Lynch when he was Minister for Fisheries. That man broke himself fighting these cases in the various courts that Deputy Lynch set up to send the fool farther. I will give the Deputy a case in the Fermoy district, the case of Carey Joyce who paid rent to the landlord on his farm. He paid rents and rates for that river and so did his ancestors. That bed of the river is measured in the farmer's holding, and he is paying for it at the present day rent and rates. The landlord refused to sell the fishery rights under the Land Act of 1903. The rest of that estate was sold, but that man refused to purchase unless he got what he and his ancestors had been paying rent for. He fought the matter out, he continued there paying the rent and the rates. Deputy Lynch seems to have a rather amusing idea of what these people would do with their fishery rights if they got them—they would throw them away, he says. They would not protect them. Yet this man was satisfied for a long period of years to leave his holding unpurchased and pay an extra rent to the landlord every year. He was prepared to go on doing that and suffer for doing it until Deputy Hogan came in with the Land Bill of 1923 and handed over the fishery rights to that landlord. That man in Fermoy fought his case from 1903 to 1923.

What happened then? There was a clause introduced into that Act and this poor idiot of a man came up here fighting his case before the judicial commissioner. In the finish he was told that the bed of the river and the land beside belonged to him, but that the water belonged to somebody else. That man is paying rates and annuities for that river and the land beside it. The landlord came in and cut the trees on the bank of the river and even burned the roots so that they would not grow again. He ruined the bank of the river so that 40 acres of that man's land were flooded every year and rendered useless. It is such people as that landlord that Deputy Lynch now wants to protect. It is people like Carey Joyce that he wants to prevent getting their fishery rights. If we are to believe Deputy Lynch men like that who lost £20 a year from 1903 until 1923 in paying extra rent, are the people who would now throw away their fishery rights. That is Deputy Lynch's view? There are riparian owners along that river in Fermoy and they are paying their annuities and rates and protecting their fisheries. They are now enjoying some benefit for which their ancestors paid for so many years. Why should a man be asked to pay rent for a bit of a river to some buck over in England or some buck here? Is not the tenant who has paid rent all his lifetime entitled to whatever benefits there are out of letting the fishery rights on that river?

Deputy Lynch would deprive him of that. If I had my way I would nationalise fishing in such a way that I would not pay any old lad for a lease that was acquired under God knows what circumstances a couple of hundred years ago. We have instances in which fish are being destroyed by those gentlemen who are making this case. We know what is happening in the Lismore fisheries. A gentleman comes down with a lorry and takes away a load of salmon. He charges the unfortunate fishermen £10 each for fishing sprats in Youghal Harbour.

Mr. Lynch

Is the Deputy referring to the Duke of Devonshire's place?

Mr. Lynch

Will this section interfere with the Duke of Devonshire?

We will deal with the Duke in the proper time.

Mr. Lynch

Will this section interfere with a several fishery?

We will do with the Duke of Devonshire what you were afraid to do with him when you were in office.

Mr. Lynch

You are not dealing with him here.

I am putting up this specific case of a farmer. It has cost that farmer between £500 and £1,000. That farmer had hopes that he would be looked after under the 1923 Act, and he had subsequent hopes that he would be looked after, but he never was. He is going to be looked after now.

Mr. Lynch

Not in this measure.

Yes, in this Bill. He is now going to get his rights. This is the type of riparian owner about whom Deputy Lynch assured us that when he would get the fishing rights attached to his land he would throw them away and poison the river.

Mr. Lynch

I very rarely mind what Deputy Corry says, but I certainly object to being so misinterpreted. I did not say that the riparian owners were going to poison the rivers. It is a notorious fact that rivers are occasionally poisoned. I said it would be utterly impossible under such divided ownership to prevent rivers being poisoned, but I did not say riparian owners did it or would do it.

I have seen an example of divided ownership on the Fermoy River, where every farmer pays his rates to the Fishery Conservators and he has his land protected in that manner. The farmer is far more liable to look for protection if he has a valuable asset.

Mr. Broderick

Does Deputy Corry say that the river in front of Mr. Carey Joyce's place is of value as a fishery?

Mr. Broderick

Then, according to the Minister, he cannot get the river in front of his place. The Minister will give away only rivers that are of no use.

Mr. Lynch

Deputy Corry is going to be badly disillusioned.

Perhaps, but I will be not so disillusioned as Mr. Carey Joyce was by you. However, we will test it out. I cannot see what right Montgomery has to the river that Carey Joyce has been paying rent for. He went to the High Court and the decision was that the bed of the river belonged to Carey Joyce; he should pay rates and annuities for it; but the river belonged to Mr. Montgomery. Of course we do not mind what your courts did.

If it is a decision of the courts, it cannot be canvassed or discussed here.

I am merely giving what was the result of previous Land Acts. I am giving a specific case. I hope to see Deputy Lynch here within the next six months supporting a Fisheries Bill that will deal with the Duke of Devonshire in particular.

I often welcome the intervention of Deputy Corry in these debates, because they are a constant warning of the pitfalls that await the Minister when he tries to implement sections such as this amendment proposes to do. Deputy Corry has a perfect parish pump mind. It does not matter whether we are discussing high constitutional issues, fishery rights, Land Bills or anything else; we get down to East Cork and we get into Deputy Corry's half parish, and so long as he is on his feet we never get out of it. That is the mentality the Minister will have to face when he is administering Land Bills or Bills designed to acquire fishing rights. That is the danger that besets the taking of powers of this kind. This is a question which is largely technical and in principle I have not the slightest doubt we are all agreed that fisheries in themselves are great and valuable national assets, not only for their sporting rights but by reason of the several or estuary fishing. We must take into consideration the fact that we have people in the country like Deputy Corry, a good many of them, who are extremely jealous and acquisitive. Anything their neighbours have they want to have. They have the feeling that they should have a legal right to take it from them. You cannot get away from the fact that that mentality is widespread. When you have that abroad in the country there is an awful lot to be said for the State taking over all the sporting rights.

You have very much the same kind of mentality in parts of the United States of America. Take the State of Wisconsin. There it was found impossible to leave sporting rights in the hands of any individual because everybody started holding democratic demonstrations at his gate to show that one man had as much right as another to fish. Eventually the State of Wisconsin reserved all the fishing and sporting rights for the State. The present law is that if there is a lake with fish in it every citizen of the State has a right of way through the land to the shores of the lake and he is entitled to fish the lake. There are strict fishery laws. If you catch a fish below the weight fixed by statute as the minimum, you have to throw it back. It does not matter whether it is dead or alive on the hook, you have to throw it back. If it is found in your possession there is no use in explaining to the conservator that the fish was killed when brought into the boat; you will go to jail for six months whether the fish is dead or alive. Your business was to put it back. In my opinion that is the best way the fisheries of this country could be administered: that fishing and sporting rights should be vested in the Government and held in trust by the Government for the people of the country, that there should be the most stringent law protecting game rights for the whole people and that if people infringed them they ought to be made liable to the severest possible penalties. The whole secret of this fishery business is this.

As far as science has gone it has been pretty well established that where you have a salmon fishery in the estuary of the river, its continued prosperity depends on the spawning beds in the upper reaches of the river. Now Deputies know that the estuary of a river can be worth its weight in gold. It is enormously valuable. So long as the fishery up the river is in the hands of one person, that person, for the purpose of preserving the sporting rights, will exert himself to prevent poaching along the upper reaches, and the salmon as a result of that precaution will keep coming back and will yield their annual toll down at the estuary. Remember that that fishery at the estuary, while it is a source of great wealth to whoever may be the owner of it, is a source of enormous employment in a town like Ballyshannon. In the case of the Erne fishery which has recently been declared not to be a several fishery at all, I think the Erne Fishery Company employ about 400 men one way or another as well as giving enormous employment to the railway company, shipping fish from Ballyshannon to the British and Dublin markets. So that it was a great asset to the town of Ballyshannon as well as to the company that owned it.

The Minister says that where a river is being properly worked he does not propose to interfere with it. Let Deputy Corry mark that. Where a river, according to the Minister, is being properly worked and properly looked after it is not his intention to interfere with it in any way. Now all this amendment says is this:—

Nothing in this section shall apply to any sporting rights (including fishing rights) which are the subject of a lease or letting by the owner thereof to a lessee or tenant who exercises such rights or to any sporting rights (including fishing rights) exercised and enjoyed by an owner who is resident in Saorstát Eireann.

That is to say the section will not apply to rivers or sporting rights which are being properly preserved and maintained. It is really only putting into the Bill what the Minister himself declares to be his purpose. Now I press for the adoption of that amendment, not as a final arrangement, because I think there is more force in what the Minister says about leaving these sporting rights in private hands than he himself realises. Taking everything into consideration, I think the time has come when the prudent thing to do in this country would be to take sporting rights out of private hands altogether and make them the property of the people. Then the Government would be in a position to protect them with the rigour which such rights ought to be protected. They would be acting in the name of the people, and they could insist on the people's right being protected.

Let me put this in conclusion. What is really in Deputy Corry's mind is this, that where you have a river rich in salmon every riparian owner ought to have sold to him the sporting rights of that stretch of river which passes through his land. That is really what is in his mind and, mind you, it is what is in the minds of a great many people throughout the country. Now anyone who understands the fisheries realises that from the mouth of a river to the utmost reaches that fishery is one integral whole. If you spoil one stretch of it, or if you leave one stretch unprotected, eventually in five or ten years you will destroy the whole river.

Deputy Corry's philosophy is this. St. Paul's Cathedral is a fine thing to look at. What we ought to do is to go and take St. Paul's Cathedral, tear it down and give a stone of it to every citizen of London to take to his home. What he forgets is that having given a stone to every citizen of London, St. Paul's Cathedral will be gone.

On a point of explanation——

I would much prefer if the Deputy would wait with his point of explanation. The House is in Committee and the Deputy can intervene again to correct me. What I am suggesting to Deputy Corry is that we should approach the thing from another point of view: that we should leave the dean and chapter in charge of St. Paul's for the present. They will keep the edifice intact, and that if he and I agree at any time to make St. Paul's a national monument then we will accommodate the dean and chapter in equally commodious premises elsewhere. We will make that great monument a national monument. We will make it the property of the people and make it accessible to every person who conducts himself within its precincts. We will preserve the fabric intact so that it will remain something of value to the people. We will not fall into the foolish error of destroying it piecemeal amongst the people. That is the issue that is involved here. The reason that we want this amendment adopted is because we want a custodian left in trust of those fisheries until such time as the Minister has time to introduce legislation to take them over on behalf of the people and to protect them with all the severity that this valuable asset deserves to be protected. I think that if the Minister will accept this amendment and announce now that it is his intention to take over all those fisheries, no matter whom they belong to, he would be serving a national purpose much better than by standing on the original unamended section of the Bill, which I really think he put in at the instance of members of his own Party, who were thinking of something far different from that which he has in his mind.

I agree altogether with Deputy Dillon when he says that sporting rights and fisheries should belong to the people as a whole. I agree also that until the Fisheries Department is in a position to work them that they should be left with present owners who are working them well. It is not the intention of the Government to take over fisheries and vest them in the hands of local farmers. There is no intention of doing that. It has not been done. Exactly the same powers are in this clause as were in the 1923 Bill, and in no case did the Land Commission take over the valuable fisheries and vest them in the owners of the banks.

We intend to continue the policy, that where there is a valuable fishery it will be vested in the Land Commission, and will be leased and worked by them to the best advantage of the community. If there is any doubt as to what the intentions of the Government are in the matter it is just as well I should state again, what I said on the different stages of the Bill here, and in the Seanad, that there is no intention on the part of the Government to take over valuable fisheries and vest them in individuals along the banks of the rivers. The Land Commission can take its time at this. In some particular cases there is no immediate necessity to take them over. The Land Commission can proceed by taking over rivers that are badly worked.

We are all interested in the valuable national asset we have in our inland fisheries and we want to see that if there is any change in the ownership it shall be for the benefit of the country as a whole, an improvement of the sporting rights and an improvement of the productive capacity of the rivers. As to the lessees, as I say, I see no difference in principle between interfering with a man with a five or ten or twenty years' lease, and interfering with the right of an owner who has a lease for ever. Leases are often times short. I heard of one case, in connection with the 1923 Act which reserved the rights of existing leases. Just before the 1923 Act came into operation a stretch of river that was going to be affected by the protection given to the lessee, was suddenly leased for 100 years at 1/- a year and a big fine paid—the leasing under the 1923 Act was not affected. As to stretches of rivers in different hands, and the ideas held out by all sides that the whole river should be in one hand, under the 1923 Act the Land Commission are empowered to come in on certain stretches of rivers but cannot touch others. The Land Commission can come in on some stretches well worked, and in fact improved by the care taken of it by the owner. They can do that; but immediately alongside there may be a stretch of the river badly worked and not taken care of by the owner, and the Land Commission, under existing powers, cannot touch it. We are taking powers to take over the fishery rights up to the source of the river. The effect of the section is that the Land Commission can, when they think it is in the interests of the general community, purchase all the fishing from the different fishery owners up to the source of the river. The several fisheries, of course, is a different matter, and I hope the Erne decision will be followed by similar decisions so that the whole of the estuaries and inland fisheries would vest, when it is thought fit, in the Land Commission, or the Fisheries Department and be worked for the general benefit of the community.

I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that the Minister himself has gone a long way towards accepting this amendment. In the few remarks that I want to make I wish to avoid controversial matters and to look upon the whole thing from the national standpoint. We all agree that the inland fisheries of this country are a very valuable asset to the country, and are anxious to find out what is the best thing to do for them. The general principle underlying this amendment, in my opinion, is an endeavour to carry on the preservation of the rivers. To illustrate the importance that the fishing industry can have for this country, I might mention that in Chili, in the picturesque parts, where very valuable salmon fishing exists, they are reserved practically entirely for tourists. Personally I think that is going rather far, but it gives a good illustration of the tremendous value the Chilian Government place upon the protection of the salmon fisheries. These particular places are preserved practically entirely for tourists. I went over these lakes thirty years ago. It is a pity, to my mind, that Section 34 was ever brought into this Land Bill. But for it the present Seanad amendments would not have arisen. To my mind, the Land Bill was a very controversial measure and everybody was so busy in connection with the various sections, sub-sections and amendments that sufficient attention was not given to the importance of this particular section dealing with the inland fisheries.

I suggest to the Minister that the best way to deal with this whole matter in a satisfactory fashion would be for the State to set up a commission of inquiry into the whole inland fisheries, to hear everybody's point of view and, then, if they think fit, to introduce a Bill dealing specially with inland fisheries. These inland fisheries are a great national asset. The object of this amendment is to guard against poaching and other things injurious to the fishing industry.

I would like to say, in reference to this particular Section 34, the most important part of it to my mind is where it says: "the Land Commission, if of opinion that it would be for the benefit of the country." I have absolute confidence that the Land Commission when dealing with important matters, and especially in regard to the particular matter we are now discussing, will always put the interests of the country before anything else. Fishing is a great industry in this country and I believe a good deal more could be done for it and that we should be very careful, indeed, that we do nothing at the moment to injure it in any way.

Now that the Minister has accepted, at least the spirit of this amendment if not the wording, it has more or less passed out of controversy. We are particularly sensitive for the security and welfare of the hundreds of net fishermen and their dependents working at the estuaries of the rivers. We were not prepared, in any circumstances, to accept anything that would compromise or endanger their livelihood and those depending upon them.

We regard with alarm, if you like, the mentality of some Deputies who can only see the interests of a particular individual and completely ignore the welfare of thousands of our fishermen around the estuaries who are dependent on the salmon fisheries. I hold strongly that if the existing system is to be changed it can only be changed in the national interest by the nationalisation of these rivers. Very few people estimate at all the real value of rivers or of the wealth they are capable of producing if properly developed.

There is one small weakness in the undertaking of the Minister. So long as any section of the rivers is open, no matter how regarded, to the danger of being let, so long will the danger to the river exist. I am quite satisfied that the Minister or the Land Commission will not by any action of theirs compromise the national interests. We here on this side are as anxious, as the most emphatic Deputy on the opposite side, that antiquated rights and usurped privileges should be swept away and that every effort should be made to assist the Minister or any one in charge of these rivers to give the greatest possible protection to these rivers, to ensure the utmost possible development and the greatest liberty for the people whose lives are dependent on the fisheries. We shall always oppose any attempt to compromise the interests of those people. I heard a name mentioned here a couple of moments ago and I want to give the senior representative in my area an opportunity of replying in regard to that matter. I heard him mention the name of the River Blackwater. I looked forward myself here to some attempt to implement the promises made during the election to wipe out, to annihilate, to take over and to do all the other things indicated by such phrases as were used during the election. I understood that that was to be in the interests of the fishermen, the fishermen around the mouth of the Lee, from Blackrock round by Knockadoon, around Youghal Harbour and Ardmore Head but instead of that I find Deputies supporting the rights or the whims of a particular farmer living along a particular stretch of river. I do not think that was the undertaking that was given and I do not think it is in the true interests of the country. I do not wish to regard it from the purely local point of view. As I have already said the Minister has already accepted the spirit of the amendment. I am quite satisfied with the undertaken given by the Minister and I am quite satisfied that the Land Commission will do all in their power to protect the fisheries but so long as there is any danger of the river being left, even though it be a river which is regarded by the Minister as being of no value, so long will a danger exist to the inland fisheries.

I move to report progress.

Progress reported.