Land Bill, 1936—Committee Stage (Resumed).

Debate on Section 9 resumed.

When we were discussing this section before the adjournment last night we endeavoured to point out its various effects; its effects on the county councils through the impossibility of their being able to recoup all the amounts withheld from their grants. The Minister in his reply dealt with a new aspect of the matter when he said that there were certain derelict farms in the country and that the arrears on one of these farms was so much that the farm could not be taken over because of the amount of the arrears. The Minister gave a specific instance of a farm of 190 acres with arrears of £200. And then Deputy Corry at the back said that there were numerous instances in his constituency of larger farms than 190 acres and that these huge tracts of land were derelict. When challenged to name any particular tract so that it could be identified, the Deputy failed to line up.

I would like to proceed to argue the question of these 190 acres. It is inconceivable to me that 190 acres of land is not worth arrears of £200. No matter where it is situated, even in the poorest part of the country, if it is land that would be suitable in any circumstances for division or for any sort of farming whatsoever it is worth £200. I do not assume that this land is mountain land. I have a recollection of a case recently where the Government proceeded to distribute mountain land amongst allottees, land on which I personally would not like to be compelled to live, at least on 15 or 20 acres. They did purchase it at a greater price than that at which this land referred to by the Minister would have to be purchased. The Minister said that this 190 acres of land would not be worth £200 for distribution to various small holders and others. With an imposition of £200 on this farm at what figure would the annuity have to be fixed per acre?

The House has to remember that in taking over land compulsorily for arrears of rent there is no payment to be made by the Land Commission. There is no money to be expended by them in development work, whereas in taking it over in the manner in which it has been taken over in other cases, large sums of money must be spent on housing, drainage and so on. If this land is taken over for the £200 arrears, that figure will wipe out all the arrears; this would roughly work out at about 1/- an acre annuity. Surely a farm of 190 acres is worth 1/- an acre to the future purchaser. The Minister did not say it was his intention to divide this land. His intention, he said, was to find a purchaser. That would mean turning somebody who had a farm already into a big farmer by adding 190 acres to his holding. The object of the Bill has been to make the acreage of land now held by people smaller a good deal than this farm of 190 acres of land. It is not at all impossible to my mind that, if there were any purchasers falling over each other for this 190 acres of land, they will reconsider the matter when they realise that the conditions under this amending Bill may mean that having improved this land to the Minister's satisfaction it might be afterwards taken from them for sub-division—in fact it is quite likely it would. It would be a nice little grab of 190 acres for division in a few years' time when some subsequent Government comes in. I do not say the present Government will do it now, but some Government may be there in five or six years' time which will say, "You got this 190 acres for nothing; we have no sympathy with you; we will take it from you and give you nothing," or perhaps they will give 1/- an acre which he paid for it. That is one aspect of it. There is another aspect. It is holding out a great temptation, if not to the present, to future Ministers to take political advantage of this. If a man is in arrears and any Minister wanted to do him good turn, if he was a strong supporter of his, there is nothing to prevent the Minister from taking over the man's farm for the arrears and handing it over to someone else who will give it back to that man.

What is to prevent him from giving it back to the man himself?

Nothing. Then there is another aspect. You are wiping out arrears which do not belong to the Land Commission, arrears which have been deducted from the various local authorities. You are wiping out the possibility of their ever getting one tittle of that money back. That is a real danger. It is wiping out an asset. I should like to know more about this 190 acres. This land is not so devoid of value that some day some particular portion of these arrears could not be got in some way.

There is another danger in this. I hope the Minister's intention is not to proceed immediately to seize land for arrears all round. If he does, most of us will be in the position that our land will be speedily seized. Some of us have been trying for two or three years to meet our liabilities, and we have not been able. If this policy is proceeded with, I will be one of those whose land will be taken, because I admit that I am in arrears. For the last couple of years it was not possible for me to meet all my commitments in rates, annuities, etc. I intend to pay them; I do not want anyone to pay my just debts for me. This year I hope to be able to pay a little more than last year, because the coal-cattle pact gave us some relief. I hope eventually to wipe out all the arrears. But there are many farmers in a worse situation than I am, and they will find it difficult in the coming year to pay off their arrears. We ought not to advance the principle now that their land will be taken from them for the arrears.

I do not think this is the section which empowers the Land Commission to take land.

It deals with arrears.

It amends the section which empowers the Land Commission to do so.

I hope it will not be the practice of the Minister or of any other Minister to proceed on these lines, at least until it is proved that the tenant is absolutely hopeless and has made no attempt to do anything in the matter. I do not think the powers which the section gives in wiping out arrears are necessary unless the land they propose to take over is of such quality that it could not be used for any agricultural purpose or was incapable of being distributed to allottees. In either of these two events it is worth something. Any land that I know of will be worth something for some purpose. I cannot conceive that it would be necessary to wipe out a debt of £200 on 190 acres of land. It should be possible to sell the land so as to get that much for it. It should certainly be capable of being divided amongst migrants or somebody else. I do not know the position of this land, but I make bold to say that there was worse land than this farm divided. As to Deputy Corry's statement that there were several derelict farms in his constituency, I should like to have some definite particulars of these. When Deputy Corry was asked to give particular instances he failed to give them. There was nothing whatever in Deputy Corry's speech except what I might call his usual claptrap—getting up and making statements for which he has not a scintilla of evidence. This section should be withdrawn. It is a mischievous section and we shall oppose it.

The Minister in introducing this Bill said, when referring to this particular section, "We are now taking power to sell these holdings or parcels discharged from all or part of the arrears, and, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, to write off as much of the arrears as we find it impossible to recover." The procedure, as I understand it, is this: that the Land Commission, after several attempts to collect these arrears, put up these holdings for sale and they failed to sell them. They then applied to the divisional commissioner for an order to resume possession of the holdings and the order was granted. Now I assume it is the Minister's intention, when the Bill becomes law, to put up the holdings for sale again or to dispose of them otherwise for cash. If he does not get a sufficient amount of cash to cover the arrears, he will apply to the Minister for Finance in the ordinary way for authority to write off the balance of the arrears of Land Commission annuities. There is just one point about it. This is the first time the Land Commission sought power to wipe out arrears of Land Commission annuities. It is the first time the Land Commission have come before the Dáil for the purpose of getting power to wipe out arrears of Land Commission annuities.

No, in 1933.

It is the first time they have definitely in a section of a Land Act sought power——

No, it was taken in 1933.

It is the first time they have sought power to wipe out arrears of Land Commission annuities in this particular type of case.

You could call these current arrears.

In any event, I want to protest against giving the Land Commission such power in this particular type of case. This is a power that could be used indiscriminately. It could be used by an unscrupulous Minister for the purpose of facilitating members or supporters of his own Party in default in the payment of Land Commission annuities. It is a power that, I think, should be definitely limited to a particular class of holding on which there is an accumulation of Land Commission arrears which the Land Commission has been unable to recover after pursuing a certain recognised procedure. I agree that, where there is a derelict farm, the Land Commission should have power to take possession of it and to dispose of it in accordance with the spirit of the land code. There is a big number of these derelict farms in the country at the moment. The Minister mentioned two last evening, but I daresay these were just two cases that occurred to his mind. I am quite sure that there must be a big number of derelict farms in every county in the Free State at the moment. That is scarcely to be wondered at, and the number is bound to increase as long as the Fianna Fáil Party is in power, and as long as farmers find it impossible to make ends meet under the policy that is being pursued by the present Government.

If possession of these farms is taken by the Land Commission, they should be disposed of in a sympathetic way, and unless there is something very serious against the original owner he should be given the first consideration. If the actual owner himself is not a suitable person to manage and cultivate land, then the qualifications of his son, if he has one, or the qualifications of his wife in the cultivation and management of land should be taken into consideration. The original tenant may have bought out the land under one of the earlier Land Acts. He may, for instance, have bought out under the Ashbourne Act and may have paid off practically the whole of the advance on this particular holding. In these circumstances, it would certainly be a grave injustice to the original owner to deprive him absolutely of the benefit of the payments which he has already made. He may have bought out under the Land Act of 1903 or the Land Act of 1909, and have paid off practically half the total advance made. In such circumstances it would be grossly unfair to deprive that man absolutely of the benefit of the payments which he has already made.

I, therefore, submit to the House that the original tenant should first of all be taken into consideration unless he is the type of man who is altogether unfitted for the cultivation or management of land. His case should be first considered, and if he himself is unfitted, then his son or his wife may be qualified to undertake the management and cultivation of land. After the original tenant, I would say that the land should be utilised for the purpose of relieving congestion. I do not believe in making gifts of big farms of land to people for the payment of a mere nominal sum which may or may not wipe out the amount of arrears of annuities that has accumulated. The Minister is taking power in this section to make a present of such land to some friend or supporter of his Party.

Where is that in the section?

It is not in the section, but what I mean is that a lot more can be read into the section than what appears in it.

I think the Deputy should be a bit more careful. He is showing very bad example.

I would like to know from the Minister how many such farms there are in the State at the moment. I am sure that the Minister has already got his officials to prepare a return showing the number of derelict farms in the country. I am sure, too, that there are a number of derelict farms of which the Land Commission has not resumed possession. I want to know from the Minister now the number of derelict farms of which the Land Commission have actually resumed possession.

As Deputy Brennan has pointed out, this is not a matter which affects the Land Commission alone. This section also affects the local authorities, and they will have to suffer a loss in the rates consequent on the fact that the annuities have not been paid, perhaps in some cases, for quite a long number of years. And not alone does it affect the local authorities, but it may also affect the Board of Works, because drainage and other charges due to it on the holding may also be unpaid. But it hits the local authorities especially hard because they have had no responsibility whatever in the matter. They were not responsible for allowing the tenant to remain in possession for a number of years without paying his annuities. They were not responsible, in the first instance, for putting the tenant into possession of the land. They have had absolutely no control at all in the matter, and in these circumstances it is particularly hard that the general body of the ratepayers should suffer because of the negligence of one man or the inability of one individual to pay his land annuities.

This section, in some respect at all events, is probably a necessary section in order that the Land Commission may be able to dispose of the derelict farms which they have in their possession. While I say that, I urge that the latter portion of the section should be amended, so that the power which the Minister is there seeking will only apply to a particular type of case, and to that type of case only in very special circumstances and under very special conditions. I certainly do not believe in giving the Minister indiscriminate power in all these cases to wipe out the arrears of unpaid Land Commission annuities. That power should be definitely limited to certain circumstances and to certain conditions.

I would like to know from the Deputy what limitation he suggests.

I would suggest that this power to wipe out arrears should only apply to the particular type of case in which the Land Commission have made every possible effort to dispose of these farms and to realise, if possible, the amount of the unpaid arrears of Land Commission annuities on them.

That is the case that is being made for the section, and Deputy Roddy is justifying the section by suggesting that limitation.

Not at all.

This is a section that, I think, should never have been thought of.

Deputy Roddy, if he were really honest about the matter, would justify the section. As Deputy Belton has said, in the speech and in the suggestions that he has made, Deputy Roddy has outlined what the section is intended to do and has justified it. I do not mind some Deputies talking through their hat about land, but I do think that Deputy Roddy, with his experience, should give a good example. Deputy Bennett said this was some sort of a conspiracy, and indicated that the Minister in charge of the Land Commission for the time being was taking power to take over land to give it to his friends.

I did not say that. I suggested that was a possibility.

Deputy Bennett suggested that was what the section was for.

The Deputy will find that what I say is correct when he reads his speech.

I spoke about the possibilities.

I have the Deputy's words before me, and what he said was that this was to give the present Ministry some political advantage. Now that is all right for Deputy Bennett and might be all right for Deputy Roddy at the cross-roads, but it is not good enough for this House. Deputy Roddy knows perfectly well that the Minister for Lands has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the persons to whom land is allotted, and he had no business, having been in charge of the Land Commission himself at one time, to say that sort of thing. It is not good enough, and I hope he will drop it. He also talked about an unscrupulous Minister taking over some land with arrears on it and giving it for a nominal sum to some political supporter. The Deputy knows hang well that that cannot be done. Another thing about this is that Deputy Roddy should know the necessity for it. He has had enough experience in the Land Commission to know that, during the last 15 or 20 years, there are some lands that have gone derelict. I indicated what this section was for—that there are some lands that have become badly overgrown with rushes or something else, and lands in grass that have not been grazed for a number of years, that they have deteriorated to such an extent as not to be worth the arrears due on them. Deputy Belton said last night that the most arrears that can be on any land would be three prior to 1933 and three since. That would be six, plus a couple of years' rates.

The pre-1933 arrears were funded.

They were attached to the land. If we cannot wipe them out they have to remain attached to the land as a prior charge. Then you would have rates and you might have Board of Works charges of various sorts and other things to attach to the land that are not a mortgage on the owner but are a mortgage on the land and cannot be got rid of. Last night I indicated that in County Wexford there was a farm of 190 acres with a poor law valuation of £182, a farm that has been derelict for years. The drains were allowed to be stopped up and the whole land has gone back into rushes. I would bet that Deputy Belton would not take a present of it, let alone give £200 for it, but there are men in the locality who have been using it as a commonage for a number of years who would give something for it. As it is, it is a continuing burden on the State, on the taxpayers and ratepayers. It is going from bad to worse and there is nobody getting any good out of it.

Is it arable land?

At the moment it is not; it is all covered with rushes.

Is it capable of being made arable?

All land is capable of being made arable.

I beg to differ with the Minister. Some land might be overgrown with timber and in other respects it might not be possible to make it arable. Would it not be far and away wiser for the Land Commission to drain that land, lime it themselves, get rid of the rushes and then divide it? Would not that be a more sensible procedure?

Every T.D. in this House and every person in this country is an expert on how to run the Land Commission. I wish to the Lord some of them got a chance for a year or two and then we would see how things worked out. The Land Commission have had a certain experience in dealing with these derelict farms. They have advised me that this section is necessary and I am prepared to take their word for it. They have given me cases of derelict farms that have deteriorated to such an extent that that factor, together with other factors that Deputies must be aware exist throughout the country, brings about the position that the land cannot be sold at the price of the arrears. The best farm in the world might be situated in County Dublin, but if the drains were allowed to get stopped up and the land was allowed to become overgrown with rushes and if the neighbours wanted it for nothing it would be a pretty valueless proposition.

The Land Commission want this power. Where the circumstances are such that the farm is not value for the arrears of the annuities and they have to take that land into their possession, they want to be able to reduce the arrears to such an amount that it will be valuable to someone to put the land into production and relieve both the taxpayers and the ratepayers. We have discussed this long enough, and I have made a reasonable case, and unless there is somebody trying to make a case of conspiracy, for-which there is no foundation, I do not see how anyone could object to it. I do not see the slightest reason for an objection. As Deputy Belton said, Deputy Roddy made a case for it in one portion of his speech.

I described this Bill as a grabber's Bill, and I submit to the House that Section 9 is the grabber's section. It is put in here to convenience the land grabber. It is the old game. There never was a landlord yet who evicted a tenant who did not start offering the land grabber an inducement to enter into possession. He went amongst the respectable farmers, but they would not touch him with a 40-foot pole. Then he went amongst the rag, tag and bobtail, and eventually he would succeed in getting his men. These were the emergency men. They were usually got in the back streets of Belfast in the days I well remember. They were brought down in charabancs and deposited on the farm. They would stay there for seven or eight years, and then they gradually found their way back to the back streets of Belfast and we would put back the evicted tenant on the holding. We used to have celebrations on such occasions—a day out. We passed several Bills through Westminster and in this House to reinstate evicted tenants on such farms as we have here, farms into possession of which the emergency men were bribed to go and farms off which those same emergency men eventually faded away.

The Minister is in a conciliatory mood to-day and he winds up by telling us that he has accepted this section on the recommendation of the Land Commission and he is prepared to take their opinion on these matters. The Minister must try to remember that he is responsible to the House. The Land Commission is not, and it is not open to us to discuss the motives that may have moved the Commissioners to make certain recommendations to the Minister. It would, therefore, be better if that argument were dropped from our discussions for the remainder of this Bill. It is a bad thing to leave absolute discretion in the Land Commission to wipe out all arrears of annuities on certain given parcels of land unless some conditions are laid down by this House which will restrict that discretion in accordance with the will of Deputies here. We who live in the country know of cases where farms have become derelict and on which considerable arrears have accumulated and there is no reasonable prospect of those arrears ever being paid. That has happened in the case of a delicate man, a man who was no longer, able to work his land. He allowed his land to run down, and he had, in fact, fallen into hopeless arrears and there was no prospect of getting out of them.

I am now speaking of the pre-Fianna Fáil period. It also happened very often where a woman was left with a smáll family. Her husband died and she had nobody to work the land for her. That class of person would fall into hopeless arrears and the land would deteriorate when there was no man to work it. It would also arise in the case of a farmer who was no good.

I believe, however, that in the majority of cases men would get into difficulties through no fault of their own. I would be prepared to give the Minister or the Land Commission power to wipe out the arrears on land of that kind on condition that it was intended to vest the holding in the son of the tenant or in some person to whom the tenant would consent. I can imagine a man who had broken down in health entering into a family arrangement and consenting to let his nephew carry on if he had not a son. In this case we ought to give the Land Commission power to wipe out the arrears and allow the man to get on his feet again. Suppose we had derelict land, and there is nobody of that class in whom the land can be vested and the Land Commission, under Section 37 of the Act of 1927, resume the holding. I say it would be infinitely preferable, although it might not be the most expeditious way of dealing with that land, that the Land Commission should repair the land themselves—put it in condition—and then deal with it as land which they had acquired in the ordinary way for the relief of congestion in the area.

This note of warning should be sounded, that if we are going to give power to the Land Commission to facilitate them in taking holdings from farmers who, through no fault of their own, have got into arrears, and making those holdings peculiarly attractive to grabbers, you are going to raise a great deal of ill-feeling in every district where those holdings are acquired. The Minister says that it is ridiculous to suggest that he would use any personal influence in the matter. I think, as a matter of fact, that the Land Commission, in reaching their final decisions, act reasonably fairly, and I think it is right to say that now. I have said repeatedly in this House and now reiterate it, that there is a great deal of interference by way of inspection and annoyance of that kind going on through the irresponsible intervention of Fianna Fáil T.D.s and Fianna Fáil Cumainn in the country. I believe that it is as great an annoyance to the Land Commission as it is to the tenants.

Where is that in the section?

Deputies like Deputy Corry, who have no sense of public responsibility, are continually persecuting their neighbours by getting inspectors to go down and examine their land with a view to acquisition.

Not under section 9.

No, Sir, not under Section 9, but quite possibly Deputy Corry might get active in connection with Section 9 and the sections of the land code which it purports to amend.

Deputies should be clear on this. In discussing an amending Bill, the basic Act may not be discussed except in so far as it is affected by the proposed amendments. This amending section deals with only a very limited aspect of resale.

It deals with Section 37 of the Act of 1927, which is the first section under which the Land Commission have power to take back a holding——

Unless the Chair is very much mistaken, the purport of the section is to provide that sale of holdings be effected discharged from arrears, "discharged from arrears" being the key-words in the section.

It purports to amend Section 37, and raises the whole question as to whether it is desirable for the Land Commission to depart from its old procedure in selling those farms charged with the arrears, or whether they shall take them and vest them in a new tenant, charging the tenant with the arrears, or whether, as proposed in Section 9, the Land Commission shall take them and vest them in the new tenant, discharged from all arrears. I say that that power should be very carefully restricted. I believe that unless it is, considerable evils will flow from this new departure. I quite admit that you can make a good case, in the exceptional case, for powers of this kind, but how often have we heard from Ministerial Benches the lesson preached that you cannot pass good law to deal with the exceptional case? In dealing with the land code we ought to consider the general rule rather than the exceptional case. To make it a general rule that the activities of the land-grabber should be facilitated, or that we should create in this country a new race of emergency men, is something which I would greatly deplore.

To facilitate the restoration of land that has got into an unusable condition is something we would all wish to help in doing. I feel that in a case of that kind it would be infinitely better for the Land Commission to go in on the land which has arrears upon it, and, out of the Improvement Vote, to spend so much money as may be necessary to restore that land to an arable condition, and then to sell it charged with whatever arrears were upon it, except in a case where they saw an opportunity of reestablishing the original tenant purchaser through his son or through a relative to whose name that tenant purchaser would consent. In that case I would be prepared to wipe out the arrears and let the tenant purchaser's son in on the place if he showed signs that he was capable, by his own hard work, of pulling the farm round and meeting the obligations devolving on the tenant purchaser of such a holding. I have not the slightest doubt that if the Minister would accept our view in this matter he would find that the scheme we outline here would work better and avoid a number of evils the possible development of which he perhaps at the moment does not anticipate.

I have listened to both sides of this debate, and I do not see very much difference between the conclusion which Deputy Dillon came to just before he sat down and the case made by the Minister. I am against the wiping out of arrears if originally it was a fair contract. The man who does not mind his business should not be able to rely on his neighbour, who does mind his business, to pay his arrears. There are special circumstances of late years. We are not dealing with them——

Why not?

I am viewing the matter, not in the circumstances of to-day, but in times of normality when we have no economic war. The case put up by the Minister is that those lands were derelict prior to the economic war. I asked him last night—and he did not deal with the matter—what is preventing the Land Commission from buying those lands when they are put up for sale, and dividing them amongst landless men? Will the Minister give us all the facts? Is there a boycott of the sales, or do the Land Commission find themselves in the position that they cannot sell the land even at a sacrifice? If they cannot sell it at a sacrifice, will they be in any better position when the little bit of arrears is wiped out? I submit that they will not. If this farm is worth £180 a year of an annuity, might I ask is that the original annuity or is that the revised annuity?

The valuation.

What is the revised annuity on it?

I cannot tell you.

That is very material, because we have been considering arrears at the rate of about £200 a year. Deputy Bennett went into calculations that the service of that, if funded, would be about 1/- per acre per year. It would be important for us, if we are going to consider this farm that the Minister has in mind——

I only gave it as an indication to the Deputy—not to discuss the principle of it.

It is in discussing the principle of it that I should like to know the amount of the revised annuity, because the Minister told us yesterday that if put on the market it would not fetch the arrears—that they could not get anybody to take it even on the revised annuity. I do not think I am substantially misquoting the Minister. If it is not worth the annuity, how much further on will it put the Land Commission to wipe out the arrears of the annuity? Nobody will take it and nobody could live on it. If it is not worth the annuity, that annuity is in the nature of a rack-rent, and nobody could live under a rack-rent. It is trying to revise the whole annuity on the basis of what the land is worth, and write off the loss as part of the working costs of the Land Commission. I do not think that the Land Commission should have such power or should ask such power. Contracts have been entered into, and people should carry out those contracts. The Land Commission, which is charged with the collection of those annuities, should do their work and collect them. It is their funeral that the annuities are too high, and circumstances have been produced which have made the annuities too high—circumstances that imposed on that land a land tax equal to half the annuity. That is the trouble. That burden must manifest itself, here, there and everywhere. A couple of days ago it manifested itself in a Milk Bill that was put before this House, and now it manifests itself in a section such as this, the purpose of which is to wipe out arrears simply because people cannot pay their annuities in the conditions under which they have to work at the present time. One could talk for a week about this, but I think we have talked long enough on this section.

Deputies

Hear, hear.

I wish, at least, that the Minister had talked intelligently enough on this section, because, if he had, we would not be still talking about it. I hope that this question will be put to a division. I am going to vote against it, not for any qualified reason, but because I disagree with the section altogether. I do not agree with Deputy Roddy that it should be given a qualified approval. I am against the whole principle of the section.

Has the Minister any statistics as to the comparative number of derelict farms, or is any information available in the Land Commission in connection with this matter?

I have not the information at the moment.

I think the present Minister was in charge of the 1933 Act that was passed in this House, and I believe that, on that occasion, he made a promise to the effect that, if certain arrears of annuities were to be written off as irrecoverable, certain payments would be made to the local authorities in the areas concerned. That promise, I admit, has been redeemed in part, but I should like to know whether or not the Minister is prepared to do the rest. Is the Minister prepared to say now, in relation to this particular section, that again he will promise that some part at least—a substantial part—will be made good to the local authorities?

That is a question for the Minister for Finance.

Would the Minister say how the Minister for Finance comes into it? The Minister for Finance is not concerned in the finance of this proposition at all, but the local county councils are concerned in it. I suggest that the Minister should insert there "the secretary of the county council." I will not suggest that he should insert "the chairman" of the local county council, but would he insert there the words "a county council" instead of the words "the Minister for Finance"?

I shall not accuse the Minister of having this particular section inserted from any unfair motive, but I will put this to the Minister: Is it not manifestly unfair that he is going to take upon himself the power to re-sell this property at the expense of the local authorities if the loss of that money is not going to be made good to the local authorities?

If it is to be written off as irrecoverable, what position will the local authorities be in then?

I think, Sir, that Deputy Belton has spoken enough already and that he has been answered sufficiently.

Perhaps I have, but what answer has the Minister to make?

I have given all the answers that I can give.

Very well.

Question—"That Section 9 stand part of the Bill"—put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 43; Níl, 30.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Cooney, Eamon.
  • Corkery, Daniel.
  • Corry, Martin John.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Everett, James.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
  • Keely, Séamus P.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Kissane, Eamon.
  • MacDermot, Frank.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • Norton, William.
  • O'Brian, Donnchadh.
  • O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.

Níl

  • Anthony, Richard.
  • Belton, Patrick.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Brennan, Michael.
  • Broderick, William Joseph.
  • Curran, Richard.
  • Daly, Patrick.
  • Desmond, William.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Minch, Sydney B.
  • Morrisroe, James.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • O'Donovan, Timothy Joseph.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Holohan, Richard.
  • Keating, John.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Roddy, Martin.
  • Rogers, Patrick James.
  • Rowlette, Robert James.
  • Wall, Nicholas.
Tellers:— Tá: Deputies Smith and Beegan; Níl: Deputies Doyle and Bennett.
Question declared carried.
SECTION 10.
Question proposed: "That Section 10 stand part of the Bill."

I am not very clear as to the meaning of this section. Perhaps the Minister would be good enough to give us a brief explanation of it.

This clause is intended to remedy an omission from certain sections of the 1931 Act of references which should have been made there to compounded arrears of rent. It was intended that the provisions of these sections of the 1931 Act should apply to bonds issued in respect of compounded arrears of rent in the same way as they apply to bonds issued in respect of standard price. The clause does no more than give statutory authority to the intentions of the legislature and to what has been the practice of the Land Commission since 1931. It is intended to rectify a difficulty which has been experienced since 1931, and to amend the procedure in several sections of the 1931 Act relating to the adjustment of accounts, rendered necessary by (a) the reduction of standard purchase annuities or the dismissal of proceedings, as a result of which land bonds have been issued in excess of the proper amount and (b) the increase of standard purchase annuities in consequence of which the estate concerned is to be credited with additional land bonds of the same series, as if they had been issued on the appointed day, together with interest from the appointed day.

Now we are all looking wiser.

I am afraid the Minister has not helped us to understand the section very much better. It appears to me that land bonds could only be of interest to us when they are over-issued, because when they are over-issued, they are a liability on the local authority. This section and the succeeding section appear to me to emphasise the difference between the State and the individual. The State, when it under-issues land bonds, can absolve itself, but if the individual does not pay his debts or does not carry out the terms of his contract, or pay the full amount required of him under the terms of the contract, he has to purge his offence in Arbour Hill or Mountjoy. This is certainly a convenient way of getting out of a difficulty, but I still do not see the necessity for the section.

I cannot parse the section for the Deputy. It is purely a matter of technical drafting.

Can the Minister quote a typical case in which this section would operate?

The lawyers of the Land Commission advised me that this section is necessary in order to carry out the intentions of the 1931 Act. I am not a lawyer and I cannot parse it for him.

As I understand at, Section 13 of the Act of 1931, sub-section (3), provided that where the Land Commission had initiated proceedings for the acquisition of land and land bonds had been issued, and it was subsequently found that their proceedings for the acquisition of the land were dismissed, the Land Commission were then obliged to recoup the Land Bond Fund. Section 10 of this Bill empowers by statute the Land Commission to do the same thing in regard to land bonds issued in respect of compounded arrears of rent. Does it apply in respect of land bonds issued in excess of those necessary to meet claims for compounded arrears of rent? The last question I want to ask the Minister is whether this Section 10 is by way of being an indemnity section and does it purport to legalise certain things that have been done since Section 13 of the 1931 Act came into force, which were in fact not in strict accord with the letter of the law?

The Land Commission found difficulty because compounded arrears of rent were not specifically mentioned in the section referred to, and they were advised that it was better to change the law in that regard. It is necessary for the purpose of the Land Commission to treat these compounded arrears of rent in the same way as the standard money, and to get over the legal difficulty it is necessary to have the 1931 Act amended in this particular way.

Are we to understand that the Land Commission, apprehending that legal proceedings might be taken, which, on the words of the Statute of 1931, they would not be in a position to meet, want an indemnity section in this Bill?

I think it is a matter of the Comptroller and Auditor-General rather than a matter of legal proceedings.

Section 10 is in fact an indemnity section for what has already been done and is intended to alter the law for the future?

And it does clearly provide that past acts are now made legal?

Perhaps the Minister is in a position to tell us whether any representation was made by the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor-General, and, if so, in what form?

No. The Land Commission anticipated that the Comptroller and Auditor-General might at some time.

No representation has been received from his office?

I understand not.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 11 agreed to.
SECTION 12.
Question proposed: "That Section 12 stand part of the Bill."

I understand this section refers to payments between the gale day and the dividend day. The Minister apparently is amending Section 51 of the Land Act of 1931, which provided that payments would be made at certain specified periods. I am anxious to know why he is repealing that section. Have all the payments been made? That section was specially introduced into the Act of 1931 to facilitate payment of these sums by tenants whose holdings were vested under that Act. Are the operations under the Act complete and is the section no longer necessary?

The sums mentioned in the 1923 Act, amounting to 1/6th, were halved.

Have the payments all been made?

They were infinitesimal, and have all been made.

In fact we are reverting to the procedure under the 1923 Act, which was set aside under the Act of 1931. Are we to understand that all proceedings under these two sections have ceased or are we reverting to the old practice?

To the 1923 procedure.

Which is set out in Section 38?

This is a matter on which nobody who was not in daily touch with the Land Commission could offer an opinion, but it was apparently thought in 1931 that these two months' gale which amounted to ? of the total annuities did present a form of obstacle in certain cases sufficiently formidable to justify funding. It was in the light of that that Section 51 was introduced which it is to be noted laid down a statutory scheme, but left a discretion in the Land Commission to make rules for the way in which these sums should be funded. What is the point now, when the Minister's predecessor in office canvassed the House that it was better to give discretionary powers to make rules, of going back to the statutory procedure in Section 38 in the Land Act of 1923, which proved unsatisfactory in the past? Am I wrong when I say that under Section 51 of the Land Act of 1931 the Minister has power to change the rules without reference to the House at all? If that be correct, why does the Minister come before the House to amend Section 51 at all? I direct the Minister's attention to the last paragraph in Section 51 in the Act of 1931:—

or of a sum equivalent to purchase annuity is payable shall, notwithstanding anything contained in those Acts, be paid at such times (not being earlier than such first gale day) and in such instalments as shall be prescribed by rules made by the Land Commission.

That seems to give the Land Commission power to adapt rules to the situation. Why go back to the old procedure?

This Section has been brought forward by the Accountancy Branch as, in their view, the sums are very small. They cannot amount to anything more than ? of the annuity, which has been halved, and instead of making up the books to have payments made in six instalments, they would be paid in one. It is purely a matter of accountancy. There is always a difficulty, as it means a lot of staff work when the Land Commission has to deal with 80,000 people. They say there will be no hardship imposed on the individuals concerned in paying in one instalment rather than in six.

The House was asked to give its approval to administration by the Land Commission and to let them arrange matters by rules. I thought that was sensible. We gave the Land Commission power to deal with the matter by making rules. The Accountancy Branch did not go to the Commissioners but, understanding the everyday reactions of the rules made under this power, they come to us, who cannot pretend to be fully conversant with circumstances that might arise in connection with the section. Has the Accountancy Branch asked the Commissioners about this, and has it been told that the Commissioners would prefer to leave the rules as they are? Is the Accountancy Branch coming to us behind the Commissioners in order to make their job easier?

No, this came through the Commissioners.

This astonishes me. I am familiar with the activities of permanent officials for a long time, and they are a most admirable body of men, but this is the first time in recorded history that permanent officials have divested themselves of the right to legislate. I have never known such a case before, and the Minister must excuse me if he finds me a little querulous.

I am advised that in some cases the payment amounts to only 3d. or 4d., and it is foolish to spend civil servants' time sending out accounts four or five times, instead of getting it in a lump sum.

I agree. Why not do it under Section 51?

I do not know.

Does this apply to a case where there was an agreement with the Land Commission that the sum you are bulking was to be paid in instalments, and that the last three or four instalments are to be paid together?

No, to future cases. All the cases under the 1923 Act were dealt with under the Act of 1931. This is for new entrants.

It is not retrospective.

It is not breaking any contract.

Sub-section (2) avoids making this retrospective.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 13.
(2) The power conferred on the Land Commission by the said Section 38 of the Land Act, 1931, as extended by the foregoing sub-section of this section to fix the standard purchase annuity for a holding in the manner provided by Part II of the First Schedule to the Land Act, 1923, may be exercised, in the circumstances mentioned in the said Section 38, in relation to a particular holding subject to a judicial rent notwithstanding any order or decision to the contrary in respect of that particular holding which was made or given before the passing of this Act and was so made or given on the sole ground that such holding was subject to a judicial rent.

I move amendment No. 16:—

In sub-section (2), page 8, line 8, to delete the figures "1931" and substitute the figures "1933".

This is a drafting amendment to correct a mistake in the figures.

Amendment agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 13, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

I should like the Minister to consider the advisability of including others in the list to be published under Section 31 as well as under Section 9, as I fear that there are certain classes of tenants that will have to come under this section with regard to discharging arrears. The Minister is aware that the British Legion purchased land at a very exorbitant price in 1920. The annuities were fixed on the basis of the purchase price paid for the land. These annuities are now absolutely exorbitant, and the House may as well face the fact that they should either be adjusted or the land taken over by the Land Commission and sold. I would suggest to the Minister——

On a point of order, I do not mind Deputies going a little bit out of order, but if we are going to wander over a subject where it does not belong, we are never going to get an end to the Bill. I submit, on a point of order, that the question of revision of annuities generally is not in order on this section.

The Chair agrees with the Minister.

Does not this section deal with the revision of annuities which are based on judicial rents?

The Deputy's point is out of order, in my opinion.

Does the Minister deny this section is designed to do two things, one of which is to extend the power of the Land Commission to revise annuities which have been based on a judicial rent, and the other, to apply that procedure to cases which have been declared by the courts to be exempt from such procedure?

This section has nothing to do with the revision of fixed annuities.

This fixes the standard price.

That is quite a different thing from fixing the annuity. It is entirely out of order to discuss the revision of annuities on a section to which that matter does not belong.

I should like to have this cleared up. We are dealing with Section 13?

Section 13 begins with the following words: "Section 38 of the Land Act, 1933, shall apply and be deemed always to have applied in the case of a holding," etc. Section 38 of the Land Act of 1933 is described in the margin as follows: "Power to the Land Commission in certain cases to reduce the standard purchase annuity of a holding." Does it do that or does it not? If it does, what is the use of telling me that you cannot talk about the revision of standard purchase annuities on Section 13 of the Bill? This is very involved legislation and the Minister has alleged that certain Deputies knew nothing about it. The Minister has all the officials of the Land Commission to advise him but yet he does not seem to know what is intended by certain sections of the Bill.

The point that affects the Chair is this. If every type of tenant, on whom it is alleged that the annuities press heavily, were to be debated on this section, the whole administration of the Land Commission would be open to debate. My opinion is that the principle is at stake here and not individual cases, except by way of illustration.

Individual cases are referred to in sub-section (2) of this section.

A certain class of case is involved.

In Section 13?

Yes, in sub-section (2).

So far as we are concerned, this is a deliberative assembly and this is the only section on which I can bring before the Minister my plea to include a certain class of cases.

If such individual cases are dealt with in the section, the Deputy is in order.

The Land Commission are taking power to revise certain classes of annuities under Section 9 of the Land Act of 1931. There is another class of case which the Minister knows about. I am not specially appealing for them, but I should like to see an end to this chopping and changing in our land law. The Minister knows the class of case to which I refer. He knows that the rents are utterly uneconomic. I am only asking him to consider the advisability of reducing the annuities in a certain class of case. This is the only place in which I can deal with that matter and I am merely endeavouring to assist the House.

I raised this matter previously here upon the Second Reading. I would certainly support the contention put forward by Deputy McMenamin on this section. As a matter of fact, the Minister himself, speaking here on Section 9, in which he took power to wipe out arrears in certain cases, gave as an instance one particular case which would, in my opinion, have to be dealt with under this particular section. You have all over the country derelict holdings which were purchased at a period when greatly inflated prices were being paid. These holdings are not security for the amount of money paid for them and the annuities on them cannot be paid. I shall give you one definite case, a case of a holding of 64 statute acres, on which the poor law valuation was £127——

On a point of order, I think as this section does not apply to holdings which were vested in the tenants, as it only applies to holdings which were vested in the Land Commission, it is entirely out of order to discuss this matter of the revision of annuities on lands which have already been vested in the tenants. I do not mind discussing that problem at some stage, but if we are to discuss it let us discuss it in its proper place and have done with it.

It has been submitted that certain cases——

Where does the question belong?

Order. It has been stated that the cases to which Deputies desire to refer are included in this section. I cannot see that. The Chair does not presume to know all the technicalities of every Bill. The Minister has stated that holdings vested in tenants do not come under this section. The Chair must be guided by that statement. If the cases referred to by the two Deputies who have spoken are not involved, then their remarks are not in order.

I accept your ruling, Sir, but I put it to the Minister that he might consider these cases to which I have referred along with those dealt with in the section.

Some Deputies who did not accept the ruling on the point maintained that certain references were in order.

May I submit that if a section is introduced in a Bill here, purporting to give the benefit of a reduction in annuities to a certain class of persons, and if Deputies are precluded from putting down an amendment to that section because that would involve a charge on the Exchequer, they have no remedy except to rise in their places and say: "We would have wished to propose an amendment to include another class of persons, but the rules of order prohibit it. We therefore desire to make an appeal to the Minister that this class of persons should be brought within the benefits proposed to be conferred by the section." I submit that is not out of order, and that if the Minister attempts to persuade the Chair that it is out of order to make such an appeal, he is endeavouring to mislead the Chair. Section 38 of the Land Act, 1933, gave power to the Land Commission to reduce annuities in certain cases where they believed they were in excess of the value of the land. That provision was applied to a certain class of persons. This section proposes to extend that class so as to include those persons who are paying judicial rents. We say that you should not only extend it to that class of persons but that there is a third class of persons in addition to those provided for under the Act of 1933 and in this Bill. We want to see that third class provided for, and I submit we have a perfect right to ask the Minister to extend these benefits to that third class, when we would not be allowed to move an amendment for that purpose.

I have no objection to having that problem discussed, but there would be no one more violent than Deputy Dillon if someone suggested that lands vested in tenants and those vested in the Land Commission should be treated in the same manner. Purely on the point of procedure, I have no doubt that this matter is out of order, but I have no objection to its being discussed if it is discussed here and now, and if we have done with it then. I do not want to be going on for a week.

This is the only place I could find to raise the question.

If the Deputy had put in an amendment, there would have been an opportunity of raising the matter on the Money Resolution.

And on Second Reading.

As the Minister is prepared to deal with the point raised now, the Chair waives the technical objection.

I raised the matter on Second Reading and this is the only section, in my opinion, in which it can be dealt with now. This section deals with those who purchased under the 1923 Act. The cases in which we are interested are cases in which the purchase agreements were entered into before the 1923 Act. Some of them date back to the 1903 Act. They are cases of derelict holdings which are lying all over the country and which are a burden, as the Minister said on Second Reading, on the ratepayers and the taxpayers. They will remain a burden and a running sore until legislation is introduced to deal with them. Even if, under Section 9, the Minister wipes out all the arrears, these holdings will be no better off because, as I said before, no man in his senses would walk in and pay the annuity which is payable in respect of them. These holdings have been derelict since 1924. Under the 1923 Act, the Land Commission came along and benevolently clapped arrears on them. They are lying there still and they will be a constant drain on the ratepayers and a burden to the Land Commission and the taxpayers until some amendment of this type is brought in to remedy the situation. That is my anxiety on this section. I am anxious that the position should be rectified.

The Minister alluded to the situation when he said that there were farms derelict for a long time which, at one time, had been very valuable. Then he said that nobody could be got to take these lands owing to the amount of arrears due in respect of them. Unless he reduces the annuity, he will get nobody to take these lands even after the arrears are wiped out. The Minister was right, under Section 9, in relieving the ratepayers of a big burden under that section, but the position will remain much the same if he has not these lands revalued and the annuity revised. He cannot deal with the matter in any other way. I do not propose to deal with the manner in which the annuity was originally fixed. It was, however, fixed at an enormous figure, for which the lands are not now value and for which they were not value in 1924. I know five or six farms which have been lying derelict since 1924 and which will be lying derelict in 1994 unless some amendment of this description is brought into operation. No man would take a gift of these lands.

Is the Deputy referring to the valuation or to the annuity?

To the annuity. I know a farm of 74 acres which is now bearing a halved annuity of £66 18s. 0d.

That is the amount of the annuity after it has been halved

Yes. It was £129 previously. I could go on quoting cases for a month in which a similar state of affairs exists. The Minister has given us a list of similar cases under the 1923 Act. When that is the position in respect of holdings purchased under the 1923 Act, how much more necessary is it to go back and deal with holdings for which a far higher price was paid to the landlord? The unfortunate tenants find it absolutely impossible to pay these annuities. This is not a matter of to-day or yesterday. It goes back to 1924 and to the war years. I alluded on Section 9 last night to an estate on which a large number of evicted tenants were reinstated. After three years' torment, they ran for their lives. They knocked three crops of oats out of it and cleared. The whole estate is lying derelict there since. An odd fool comes along and takes a turn for a year or two. Then he "hops" it. The trouble with us is that the unfortunate ratepayers are being "nailed" in the Agricultural Grant on the one hand and in the rates on the other hand. No rates can be got off the estate while every year the Land Commission comes along and cuts the Agricultural Grant. That has been the position for a number of years. This section should be extended to embrace not only the 1923 cases but the 1903 cases as well. If the position is not rectified by legislation, it will continue sæcula sæculorum.

I should like to give the House a concrete example. In the case of the Cloncurry Estate, Lord Cloncurry was prepared to accept £17,000. Through a wangle—to use a vulgarism—Lord Cloncurry was paid £37,000 for that land. That amount was charged on the lands and the tenants are expected to pay it. It cannot be done.

Who got the benefit of the wangle?

That is another day's work.

The Minister tried to make a fine distinction between persons in whom land has been vested and provisional vesting under Section 9 of the Land Act, 1931. I do not think that it is worth while trying to set traps of that kind for the Opposition, because they will not work. We all know that revision of annuities could not be undertaken if land was vested and, under Section 9, the procedure was carried out while the land was provisionally vested. This section proposes to amend the existing law with a view to making this procedure available to the Land Commission in connection with land purchase annuities calculated and founded upon judicial rents. So far as I am aware, most of those judicial rents were arrived at under the procedure provided under the Ashbourne Act, 1885. They were accepted as fair rents by the vast majority of tenants in whose favour they were fixed. I am told, however, by those who know the situation intimately that there are isolated cases in which, for some incomprehensible reason, the standard purchase annuity, calculated on the basis of 65 per cent. or 70 per cent. of the judicial rent, is excessive. Discretion requires to be vested in the Land Commission to deal with that situation. I think the House is entitled to ask the Minister to give us examples which would induce us to depute this power to the Land Commission. The Land Commission thought they had this power and purported to use it. The matter was tried out in the courts and they were prohibited from attempting to use it further. They were informed that so far as they had tried to use it they had acted ultra vires and their action had no effect. This section now proposes to give them the power in future and to come back to cases where the courts already refused to allow them to use that power. We should not allow them to go back now and to take up these cases again where the court has already refused or prohibited them from attempting to use that power. Surely the Minister ought to give us some cases justifying this section. I have no doubt that some cases exist analogous to those referred to by Deputy Corry. I think the Minister should give stronger cases, rather than, as he has done, ask us here to give him wider powers than he already enjoys.

With regard to Deputy Dillon's request for cases, I want to say that I did give a half-dozen cases in my Second Reading speech in which the Land Commission found that the judicial rent fixed was altogether greater than what they, having regard to what they thought the tenant could pay, would fix. I showed in a great number of cases that the Land Commission were compelled to reduce the annuities based on the judicial rent by 50 per cent. just in order to put on the tenant a burden which he could meet. I do not propose to read these cases out again. The Deputy can see them for himself.

On the problem of reducing the annuities I must say it is one in which I cannot see daylight. You have, I suppose, about 400,000 vested tenants. If we take power to review all these, if we take power to reduce the annuities below what they are at present, these 400,000 vested annuitants would all apply to have them reduced and it would be impossible to deal with them. If there were some standard of value in which we could assess claims coming on now it would be all right. In the 1933 Act I did my utmost to get some standard of value by which we could measure whether the rent was too high or not. In the 1933 Act you reduced the general body of land purchasers by 50 per cent. in their annuities and in a number of special cases we reduced the annuity by 55 per cent., knowing that there was a general knowledge in the Land Commission that the annuities fixed upon estates bought out in those cases were greater than the annuities in other cases. We took that rough and ready method of doing something for the people who were hardly pressed. I got hundreds of cases and viewed them myself to see if there was any relation at all between the land annuity and the poor law valuation. I found there was no relation whatsoever. In one case the poor law valuation was £1 per acre and the annuity was only a few shillings. In another case one would get the poor law valuation at £1 an acre and the annuity would be 30/-. I found there was absolutely no relation at all between the two. If there was a general relationship between the poor law valuation and the land purchase annuity we could say: "Well, we will revise everything; we will revise every farm where the land annuity exceeds the poor law valuation." But there is no use in tackling it in that way. In some of the cases where the Land Commission thought there was most hardship the standard of the purchase annuity was less than the poor law valuation. Until there is a general revaluation of the agricultural land in the country for rating purposes, there is no way of dealing with this particular problem other than by having a general revision of land annuities. That means a whole new land purchase scheme for 400,000 annuitants. That is an impossible task. If it were an urgent and pressing task, if the hardship were felt by large numbers of the community, I would say: "We will have to face it," but I think the burden on the people we are trying to place on the land and whose holdings we are trying to rearrange is more pressing just now. More general damage would be done to the community by leaving over the work of trying to place people on the land than there would be done to the community by leaving this question of the annuities unrevised even though there are numbers of people whose burdens are a little too heavy. I think less damage would be done by leaving the annuities on 400,000 holdings as they stand than there would by discontinuing the work of placing people on the land. I did not jump to the conclusion that this was an absolutely impossible task in the present circumstances. I did not jump to that conclusion. I examined it and consulted with the Land Commission. I got the figures dug up and found it was not possible without a general revision of the land annuities. But look at what that would mean. A general revision of the land annuities would engage all the staff of the Land Commission. Seeing that the work on which they are engaged is so urgent in the national interest this revision of the land annuities is a thing I could not recommend to the House just now. I do not think the House would agree with it. In this Bill, however, we have done certain things to wipe out arrears in cases where the holding fell into very great arrears. That is the very best I can do. And I certainly could not undertake in this particular Bill to do anything more.

I agree with the Minister that under this section he cannot review the type of cases mentioned by Deputy McMenamin. I know the Land Commission is familiar with the type of cases mentioned by Deputy McMenamin. It has been familiar with them for years past. This is not the first occasion in which that case has been made in the Dáil. I am sure it has been made in innumerable cases to the higher officials of the Land Commission. It is, undoubtedly, an outstanding case and, if it is not possible in this Bill, I think the Minister in some subsequent legislation should make some provision to cover the tenants on the Cloncurry Estate. That land was bought at a ridiculously high price. The annuities were fixed in proportion to the price paid for the land. The result is that the tenants, no matter how hard they work, will always be handicapped and will find it difficult to meet a rent of that kind, encumbered as that rent is with high rates.

If I understand Deputy Corry aright I think he referred more to cases where the arrears were being piled on also. I presume that the half annuity to which he referred of £66 on a 64 acre farm, included arrears as well. If there are derelict farms where the annuitant fell into arrears, I think where the Land Commission gets an opportunity of handing such land over to a good type of man that they should cut their losses and wipe out all the arrears. I think if they had such power it would be a great advantage.

We are taking that power to-day in this Bill.

Mr. Lynch

Having that power should, I think, meet very many of these cases to which Deputy Corry has referred.

Mr. Lynch

I am not referring now to the cases which Deputy McMenamin mentioned. I am referring to the type of cases where the holdings are derelict, where one annuitant has gone bankrupt and the holding has been for years in arrears. A new person takes the land, and he is saddled with all those arrears in addition to his current annuity. That is what I understood from Deputy Corry.

No. I already pointed out that under Section 9 the Minister had taken power to wipe out these arrears. I am also aware that Deputy Lynch voted against that section. What I say is that there is no use in halving the arrears and still leaving the annuity in the position that was the primary cause of these arrears accumulating. The moment you wipe out the arrears some poor fool will come along, take the holding, and he will be put into possession. In three or four years' time the ratepayers will be in the position that they will have to pay the annuity again for him in the same way as they did for his predecessor. That is what will happen. I ask the Minister to limit the matter to holdings where half the annuity is more than a quarter of the valuation. In the instance which the Minister has given here in his statement to the House, the value of the annuity is in no case more than a quarter of the valuation. I suggest that the Minister should take as a basis any holding where the halved annuity is more than one-fourth of the valuation, or some basis of that kind. It will give these unfortunate people some chance—at least not these people in particular, but the ratepayers who are paying the piper. It is all right for the Land Commission to take one of these estates and say: "It is a lovely little place; we will give it to Jack to-day and then give it to Jim, and then back to Jack's brother," and carry that on for a number of years. That is what has been going on for the last 15 or 20 years since the estate was pawned over in the first instance on the Land Commission and on these unfortunate tenants. Some fellow got a pocket of money out of it, and went over to spend it in Monte Carlo or Piccadilly. I know the objection that the Land Commission have.

What is it?

That under the section as it stands they cannot get after the person who is getting away with the money. But in the case of these tenants for whom we are appealing, the Land Commission and the taxpayers will have to lose the difference. That is the whole thing. I like to call a spade a spade and to have frank talking. That is the objection there is to the suggested amendment. The objection is not because of any difficulties. The objection is that in Section 13, as it stands now, amending Section 38, the Land Commission can get after the land bonds and extract the difference from the land bonds, so that the State loses nothing. In the other case, the State will lose the difference. I suggest that it is only right and proper that the State should lose the difference, as it was State officials in the first place who made the valuation and bought the place and piled on the burden. It should not be thrown on the ratepayers of any county to pay for the mistakes made in previous years by any State department.

Could the Minister solve it in any way? So far as I can understand, there is a general agreement on both sides of the House on certain aspects of this Land Bill, and that is as to whether annuities are unreasonably high. That is agreed. I think the Minister will agree with it. I am not a great authority on Land Acts, but if it is beyond the power of this House to solve the problem which we know exists and which ought to be remedied, then I think we cut a very bad figure as an assembly. I only intervened to say that I think the Land Commission and this House ought to rise to the occasion and solve the problem which has been put up from both sides of the House.

The problem is not insoluble, but it is insoluble in present circumstances. It is not impossible to measure a mile, but we must have some sort of a yard-stick to measure it out. It is not impossible to value land, but we have not the yard-stick in the Land Commission that will enable us to tell, by looking at the poor law valuation and the standard purchase annuity, what annuity is too high and what annuity is fair. If we had, we would do it very quickly. I have indicated, both in the 1933 Act and in this Bill, that I am prepared to go as far as I can towards relieving the burdens on farmers which are heavy in relation to the burdens that other farmers have to bear. In the 1933 Act the Land Commission for the first time took power to reduce an annuity. Up to then, no matter what the annuity was, for no reason could you reduce it. In 1933 we took power to reduce the annuity where land was submerged. I am not saying that there was anything virtuous in doing that; it was the common-sense thing to do, and we did it for the first time. We have power to reduce the annuity where lands are submerged.

In this Bill we are taking power, where arrears have accumulated on lands and the Land Commission cannot sell them even for the amount of the arrears, to wipe out the arrears. If I could see some way of dealing with the Cloncurry Estate and a few other estates——

And the Corry Estate.

And the Corry Estate and a few dozen other estates that the Land Commission know have too high an annuity fixed upon them, without bringing the whole 400,000 land annuitants to the doorsteps of the Land Commission, I would do it. We cannot see how it can be done. We have no yard-stick to measure what substance there is in any complaint which comes to us with regard to an annuity being too high. We cannot say to a man who writes saying that his annuity is too high: "From the data we have in the office we can say it is perfectly fair." We have no such standard. If we had a complete revision of poor law valuation for rating purposes, and if the poor law valuation had any relationship to the value of land, it might be possible to do something. We know it has not. I think that one of the most urgent problems we have in dealing with land and a lot of other matters is to get a proper valuation. That is not a matter for my Department. I do not know whether it can be done or not. We have no easy way of meeting these particular cases which have been pleaded. I only wish we had, but I cannot see it.

I would like to put this to the Minister: This House exists for the remedying of wrongs, and where there is a suggestion of wrong, of an injustice, and complaint is made to this House, then the House should listen to it and, if possible, try to remedy it. That is the trust that is imposed on this House. Deputy Curran has made the suggestion that it should not be beyond the power of the Dáil, with the help of the officials of the Land Commission, to deal with this. The officials of the Land Commission are men of ability and experience, and I think if this difficulty was referred to them they would be able to solve it. It concerns a limited number of people. I made the suggestion to the Minister, which he refused to adopt, that he should include the classes listed in Section 24 and get this matter settled.

That would not satisfy Deputy Corry.

We have accepted a trust on behalf of the people, and that trust is to remedy a wrong when it is brought to our notice. That is what we are here for. Surely we are not going to take up the attitude of sticking our toes in the ground like mules, and of refusing to discharge the trust that has been imposed on us. I have suggested a way out to the Minister. No difficulty as regards valuation arises, and yet the Minister will not adopt my suggestion. I again appeal to him to look into this between now and the Report Stage, and consult his officials with a view to seeing if a way out cannot be found.

I also suggest to the Minister that he should hand this problem over to the Land Commission and ask them to find a solution for it between now and the Report Stage. It is their job. They are the people who did the damage in the first instance, and, consequently, I think that those who inflicted the wound should find the cure for it. Of course, if it were left to me I would find a formula in five minutes for the settling of these cases, but I know very well that my formula will not be accepted. I hope that what I suggest will be done, and, if it is not, then I think that the tenants on any estate who feel that they have a grievance should be allowed to go before the Land Commission Court and have their case tried out. If they are not able to prove that they have a grievance, let them pay the piper. No man is going to go before the Land Commission Court unless he feels that he has a good case. These people should be allowed to go before the Land Commission Court as if they were first purchase tenants seeking to have a fair rent fixed. They will not go to the court unless they feel they have a good case, because if they fail to establish that they will have to pay the costs, and the costs in the Land Commission Court are no small thing. That is the remedy that I would respectfully suggest to the Minister as the way out. Let these people have the opportunity of getting a fair rent fixed. That would meet all objections. If the Land Commission officials are able to find a better remedy, then let us have it before the Report Stage. If what I suggest is done you will not have the 400,000 people whom the Minister speaks of going before the Land Commission Court, because, in view of the costs that would be involved, no man will take his case there unless he feels he has a really good case.

Would the Minister consider conducting the fair rent procedure, such as he proposes to do in the case of judicial tenants, in respect of the restricted class of persons to whom Deputy McMenamin has referred? I fully understand the Minister's difficulty. He has agreed that there is a good case to be made for the restricted class of persons for whom Deputy McMenamin speaks, whatever may be the case for the much larger number of tenants for whom Deputy Corry speaks.

I have a much stronger case than Deputy McMenamin.

The Minister, at least, admits that conviction has been carried to his mind in regard to the restricted class of persons for whom Deputy McMenamin speaks. He has, perhaps, not had time to examine the larger class for whom Deputy Corry speaks. Once the Minister is satisfied that there is a good case in respect of the people for whom Deputy McMenamin speaks, I think he should deal with it, and if, hereafter, Deputy Corry can make an equally good case for the larger class of tenants that he speaks for, then we can deal with it.

I am not going to allow my tenants to hang until you are done with yours. I know, if Deputy Dillon was on this side, what he would do for the tenants I speak of.

Deputy Corry is anticipating the results of the next general election, but let us not deal with that question now. After the next general election the Deputies will take their appropriate places in this House and elsewhere.

And the Deputy's place will be outside.

I am speaking of the Minister now as a body corporate who continues in the House whatever Government is in office. I hope the Minister will accept the suggestion that I have made, and deal now with the restricted class of persons for whom Deputy McMenamin speaks, not closing the door to the larger class for whom Deputy Corry speaks if an equally good case can be made later for them. If necessary, a further amending Bill can be introduced to deal with their case, should it arise. I would ask Deputy Corry not to take up a dog-in-the-manger attitude, not to say that if he cannot get his people provided for now, he will not let the Minister provide for the restricted class for whom Deputy McMenamin speaks. Rather let him say, in the spirit of Solomon's judgment: "If I cannot get my people provided for, then I will be glad to see that those for whom Deputy McMenamin speaks have justice done to them, and I will look to Deputy McMenamin in the hereafter to help me with my tenants in the same spirit as I have helped him." If Deputy Corry does that, and if he knows that his clients have as good or a better case, then, surely, he will be strengthening that case immensely by getting legislation to remedy the evil in the case of the persons in whom Deputy McMenamin is interested. Naturally, the Minister is reluctant to reopen the whole settlement and to have a roving commission in the case of all those who hold tenanted land. That would be a desperate enterprise. What would happen would be that every tenant purchaser in Ireland would come up making a case. If that were to be allowed, Deputy Corry knows that 95 per cent. of the applications would be rejected as unreasonable. The remaining 5 per cent. would be the exceptional cases that the Deputy has in mind. I suggest that, instead of doing what Deputy Corry asks, of throwing the doors open to the entire tenant purchasing population of Ireland, we should now deal with the restricted class of persons for whom Deputy McMenamin speaks.

I would like to point out to the Deputy that the class of tenants that I am speaking for are the same class as Deputy McMenamin is pleading for. The only difference is that they are on different estates.

I suggest to Deputy Corry that he is a bad tactician. If he would help the restricted class of persons for whom Deputy McMenamin speaks, we would help him hereafter.

The Deputy is a baby in these matters and knows nothing about them. I am sure that if the Minister meets one case he will meet the two. I have suggested a way out to him, and that is to allow these people to come before the Land Commission Court. If the tenant has not a good case, then he loses and pays the costs. If he has a good case, his case goes through and he gets relieved. In my opinion that is the only way out of it and the only hope of meeting it. I suggest the Minister ought to meet it in that manner or else hand the whole thing over and we are prepared to leave it to the Land Commission officials, let them advise something and have it brought forward here on the Report Stage. Deputy Dillon should not be trying to halve a cherry about which he knows nothing; he should try to learn a bit of sense.

Will the Minister consider Deputy McMenamin's case?

I have dealt with that for at least half an hour. There are more wrongs in the world than one. I believe the Land Commission are at the present time engaged righting the most urgent wrongs we have, and I would not be responsible for turning them on to a revision of all the cases in regard to all the land that has been purchased. Remember that there are 400,000 land annuitants involved. It would be an impossible job to ask the Land Commission to do at the moment.

We are not making a suggestion of that kind; it would be too ridiculous.

You are not making the suggestion, but that would be the effect of the point you have referred to.

Section 13, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 14.
Where the landlord and the tenant of a holding in which Part II of the Schedule to the Land Act, 1923, have, after the passing of the Land Act, 1929, and either before or after the passing of this Act, agreed upon the amount of the standard purchase annuity of such holding, the standard purchase annuity of such holding shall, notwithstanding anything contained in Section 2 of the Land Act, 1929, but without prejudice to the powers of the Land Commission under Section 38 of the Land Act, 1933, to reduce such standard purchase annuity, be the standard purchase annuity so agreed upon.

I move amendment No. 17:—

In line 18, to delete the word "in" and substitute the word "to", and in line 19, before the word "have" to insert the word "applied".

This is purely a drafting amendment.

The procedure outlined in this section is somewhat peculiar. It sets out that where the landlord and the tenant of a holding to which Part II of the Schedule to the Land Act, 1923, applies, agree on the standard purchase annuity, the Land Commission may subsequently proceed to reduce that standard purchase annuity. The latter portion of the section provides that the Land Act of 1933 shall still apply, even though a standard purchase annuity has been agreed on with the approval of the Land Commission. I suggest that that seems to be rather a ridiculous procedure. I think that before the Land Commission give their approval to the agreement between the landlord and tenant, the holding should be examined to see that it is value for the annuity fixed on it. The section should be redrafted for the purpose of covering that form of procedure rather than the procedure now outlined.

I think what has been attempted there is that while they may recognise in certain cases the agreement arrived at between the landlord and the tenant, they will still keep in the Land Commission's hands the power to revise it so as to prevent possible fraud. If the landlord and tenant agree to a certain rent which may be for the landlord's benefit so that he may get away with more purchase money than the estate is worth, then the Land Commission consider they should have an opportunity of revising the rent if in their opinion it is not a fair rent.

But that can be prevented without this elaborate procedure. An agreement is reached in regard to the standard purchase annuity; that agreement must be approved by the Land Commission. Following that approval, the Land Commission may, one, two or five years afterwards, apply Section 38 of the 1933 Act and reduce that annuity. I suggest the section should be so amended as to provide that in a case where the landlord and tenant shall agree to the standard purchase annuity the Land Commission shall inspect the holding and satisfy themselves that it is value for the annuity agreed upon before they give their approval to the arrangement.

That would be a lot more trouble.

Why would it be?

You would force the Land Commission to agree to every rent payable by a tenant to a landlord rather than a rent that, in the opinion of the Land Commission, would be justified.

The Land Commission have, in the first instance, to give their approval to the arrangement in regard to the standard purchase annuity. The Land Commission are now in the position of being forced to give that approval even though the holding is not inspected and they are satisfied the annuity is a reasonable one. But they reserve the power to themselves, probably years later, to reduce the standard purchase annuity. I submit that is unfair to the owner. In the very first instance the Land Commission should have the holding inspected in order to satisfy themselves that the annuity fixed has a fair relation to the value of the holding.

Does not this section purport to be a substitute for the procedure laid down in Section 25 of the 1927 Land Act, which amended previous Land Acts? It seems to me you have abundant powers under Section 25, which provides that where the landlord and tenant purported to agree to a standard purchase annuity under Part II of the Schedule of the 1923 Land Act, it was open to the Land Commission, if they were not satisfied that the holding was security therefor, to serve notice on the parties and make an order refusing to advance the purchase money and thereupon fix the standard purchase annuity in the manner provided for in the 1923 Act in cases where there was no agreement between landlord and tenant.

If the Land Commission refused to agree to the rent agreed upon between the landlord and the tenant, they could give notice and then resort to paragraph 2 of Part II of the First Schedule of the 1923 Act, which provided that the annuity would be fixed by the Land Commission on the report of their inspector, regard being had to the position of the holding, the rent and all the other circumstances of the case. Is not that correct? If you have that procedure at your disposal, what more do you want? Is not that a very much better procedure than a procedure which restricts you to fixing the standard purchase annuity at a given percentage of what you believe to be a fictitious and fraudulent rent? The procedure under the Act of 1927 empowered the Commission, where they believed that there was a fraud to be perpetrated, to upset the whole thing and act on the report of the inspector. The Minister wants to restrict himself to reducing the standard annuity, funded on the fraudulent rent, by such and such a percentage.

It is not the 1927 Act that is in question. It is Section 2 of the Land Act, 1929, and that limited the fixation of standard purchase annuities by agreement between the landlord and tenant to some time prior to the introduction of that Act, in order to avoid fraud. The Land Commission then were empowered to recognise that agreement if it had been entered into prior to 1929, and we want the same powers in regard to agreements that have been arrived at since, provided that there is always in the Land Commission's hands power to reject such agreement if they think it is fraudulent.

How many of such agreements would there be? Is it not possible for the Land Commission to do as I suggest—to have the holding inspected before they give their consent to the arrangement between the landlord and tenant? Does not that simplify the procedure considerably, and is it not an infinitely better procedure than that outlined in the section? Does the Minister consider it fair to an unfortunate man to keep him in suspense for a number of years before definitely deciding what the annuity is to be on the holding?

The Minister says that the Act of 1927 has no effect? What is the law to-day? I say that Section 25 of the Land Act, 1927, has not been repealed. There is nothing in Section 2 of the Act of 1929 which repeals it. As the law stands at present, the Commission can use their powers under Section 25 of the Land Act of 1927. Sub-section (2) of Section 2 of the Land Act of 1929 actually refers to the Schedule to the Land Act, 1923, as amended by Section 25 of the Land Act, 1927. Section 25 of the Land Act, 1927, provides that where the Commission is not satisfied that the land is fair value for the standard purchase annuity agreed upon between the landlord and tenant, they can have resort to the procedure under paragraph (2) of Part II of the Schedule to the Land Act, 1923. If you have that power, what additional power do you want? Is not that power a very much better power than the one you seek to get under the section here before us? Can the Minister tell us if Section 25 of the Land Act, 1927, is still in operation, and if the Commission are acting under it?

The Commission are acting under the powers that were conferred on them under a later Act, that is under the Act of 1929, and they want the same powers now in regard to agreements that have been entered into since. That is all that is in the section.

But why do they want to set aside Section 25 of the Land Act, 1927?

Where have they set it aside?

They are taking alternative powers to deal with exactly the same kind of case.

This is amending not the Act of 1927 but the Act of 1929— an Act passed two years later.

Yes, and my submission is that this amendment, as far as I can see, is directed to the purpose of adapting the Act of 1929 to deal with a situation which has already been provided for by the Act of 1927.

Then ask Deputy Roddy why did he introduce the Act of 1929?

Wait a moment now. I say that the section we have before us now is designed to adapt Deputy Roddy's Act for a purpose for which Deputy Roddy had made provision in the Land Act of 1927. Is not that so? I want to know why you are doing it. Surely the Minister will tell us why we are setting aside Section 25 of the Act of 1927?

I have done my utmost to explain to the Deputy. I cannot do any more.

This reduces Parliamentary debate to an absurdity. I have pointed out that Section 25 of the 1927 Act is so framed as to deal with the exact kind of case that is advanced as constituting the necessity for amending the present law. I pointed out to the Minister that Deputy Roddy deliberately refrained from putting a provision of the kind contained in Section 14 into the Land Act, 1929, because he found himself already armed with the powers under Section 25 of the Land Act, 1927. There must be some reason for legislation; there must be some justification for it. If every contingency is already provided for under the existing law, surely the Minister must make some case for desiring further to amend it.

I have already explained twice what we are trying to do under this section. It is there in black and white. It is not one of the difficult sections. We are extending the powers that were taken in 1929—two years after the Act to which the Deputy is referring—to cover agreements that have been entered into since 1929, in the same way that the 1929 Act took power to deal with agreements that had been entered into prior to the introduction of that Act.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 14, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 15.
(1) Where the purchase money of a holding exceeds the amount which the Land Commission has agreed to advance for the purchase of such holding, the following provisions shall apply and have effect, that is to say:—
(a) the amount of the excess of such purchase money over the amount so agreed to be advanced shall be paid by the tenant;
(b) the tenant shall be entitled to credit, as against the amount so payable by him, for so much of the payments made by him on foot of the annual sum payable in respect of the holding after the appointed day as represents payments in respect of sinking fund attributable to the said excess;
(c) the tenant shall, before the holding is vested in him, pay in cash a sum equal to the difference between the said excess and the payments for which he is entitled to credit as aforesaid;
(d) the sum so paid in cash by the tenant shall be paid into the land bond fund and that sum, together with the payments for which he is entitled to credit as aforesaid, shall be a satisfaction of an equal amount (and no more) of the said purchase money;
(e) the transactions mentioned in the foregoing paragraphs of this sub-section shall not be regarded for any purpose as a redemption or partial redemption of a purchase annuity, and accordingly nothing contained in Section 22 of the Land Act, 1933, shall apply or have effect in relation thereto.
(2) Where the Land Commission directs that the whole or a part of the purchase money of a parcel of land (as defined in the next following sub-section of this section) shall be paid in cash by the allottee or tenant before the parcel is vested in him, the following provisions shall apply and have effect, that is to say:—
(a) the amount so directed to be paid in cash by the allottee or tenant shall, when so paid by such allottee or tenant, be paid into the land bond fund or the purchase annuities fund (as the case may be) and shall be a satisfaction of an equal amount (and no more) of the purchase money of the estate in which such parcel is comprised;
(b) if the Land Commission is of opinion that, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, it is equitable that such allottee or tenant should get the like benefits in relation to the revision of the purchase annuity to be charged on such parcel, as a purchaser of a parcel by means of an advance under the Land Purchase Acts is entitled to get under Section 19 of the Land Act, 1933, the Land Commission may reduce the amount so payable by such allottee or tenant accordingly.
(c) where the said amount so payable by such allottee or tenant is reduced under the next preceding paragraph of this sub-section, the payment of such reduced amount in cash by such allottee or tenant shall be a satisfaction of such amount only of the purchase money of the estate in which such parcel is comprised as is equal to the sum actually so paid in cash by such allottee or tenant.
(3) The next preceding sub-section of this section shall apply and have effect in relation to a holding on an estate formerly vested in the late Congested Districts Board for Ireland and to a holding on an estate purchased by the Land Commission under the Land Purchase Acts, 1903 to 1919, and accordingly the expression "parcel of land" shall be construed in the said next preceding sub-section as including holdings on estates so vested or purchased as aforesaid.

I move amendments Nos. 18, 19, 20 and 21, which are merely drafting amendments:—

18. In sub-section (1), page 8, line 28, to delete the words "purchase money" and substitute the words "standard price", and after the word "holding" to insert the words and brackets "together with the compounded arrears of rent (if any)".

19. In sub-section (1), page 8, line 29, after the word "agreed" to insert the words "after the passing of this Act".

20. In sub-section (1), page 8, line 29, after the word "advance" to insert the words "to the purchaser".

21. In sub-section (1), page 8, line 32 and also in line 49, to delete the words "purchase money" and substitute in each place the words and brackets "standard price and compounded arrears of rent (if any)".

Amendments put and agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 22, 23, 24 and 25 impose a charge on public funds, and cannot be moved.

I move amendments Nos. 26, 27, 28 and 29, which are merely drafting amendments:—

26. In sub-section (2), page 8, lines 57 and 58, to delete the words and brackets "(as defined in the next following sub-section of this section)".

27. In sub-section (2) (b), page 9, lines 8 and 9, to delete the words "revision of the purchase annuity to be charged on such parcel" and substitute the words "amount so payable by him", and in line 11, after the figures "1933" to insert the words "in relation to the revision of the purchase annuity on such parcel".

28. In sub-section (2) (c), page 9, line 20, to delete the words "actually so paid" and substitute the words "so payable", and in line 21, to delete the word "tenants" and substitute the words and brackets "tenant or (where such allottee or tenant gets the benefits mentioned in the next preceding paragraph of this sub-section) which would have been so payable in cash by him if he had not got those benefits".

29. In sub-section (2), page 9, to add at the end of the sub-section a new paragraph as follows:—

(d) the transactions mentioned in the foregoing paragraphs of this sub-section shall not be regarded for any purpose as a redemption or a partial redemption of a purchase annuity, and accordingly nothing contained in Section 22 of the Land Act, 1933, shall apply or have effect in relation thereto.

Amendments put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 30:—

To delete sub-section (3).

We are deleting this sub-section because it is already covered.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 15, as amended, put and agreed to.
SECTION 16.
(2) Whenever—
(a) an advance to a purchaser of a holding or a parcel of land is sanctioned under the Land Purchase Acts, and
(b) such purchaser or the wife or the husband of such purchaser is the proprietor or such purchaser and his or her wife or husband are severally or jointly (whether as joint tenants or as tenants-in-common) the proprietors of lands for the purchase of which advances (which have not been redeemed) have been made under any of the Land Purchase Acts, and
(c) the said advance so sanctioned to such purchaser together with the capitalised value (calculated at the rate of four pounds and fifteen shillings per cent.) of the purchase annuities set up to repay the advances mentioned in the next preceding paragraph of this sub-section exceeds the sum of three thousand pounds or, in the case of a holding to which sub-section (2) of Section 9 of the Land Act, 1927, applies, the sum of five thousand pounds,

I move amendments Nos. 31 and 32 which are purely drafting amendments:—

31. In sub-section (2) (b), page 9, line 49, to delete the words and brackets "(which have not been redeemed)."

32. In sub-section (2) (c), page 9, line 54, before the word "purchase" to insert the word "original."

Amendments put and agreed to.
Section 16, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 17.
(2) The foregoing sub-section of this section shall have and be deemed always to have had effect as on and from the passing of the Land Act, 1933, and accordingly no warrant issued by the Land Commission under Section 28 of that Act before the passing of this Act shall be or ever have been made void or in any way prejudiced by the addition to the money thereby certified to be due of any fees or expenses which might lawfully have been so added if the said foregoing sub-section had then been in force, and no levy by a county registrar before the passing of this Act of the amount of any such fees or expenses so added which would have been a lawful levy if the said foregoing sub-section had then been in force shall be or ever have been unlawful.
(3) The following provisions shall have effect in relation to all actions and other proceedings instituted in any court before the passing of this Act against a county registrar in respect of anything done by him under a warrant issued by the Land Commission under Section 28 of the Land Act, 1933, that is to say:—
(a) no such proceeding which is pending at the passing of this Act shall be further prosecuted or proceeded with after such passing if or in so far as such proceeding is grounded on the contention that such warrant was invalidated or prejudiced by the addition to the moneys thereby certified to be due of any fees or expenses which might lawfully have been so added if the first sub-section of this section had then been in force;
(b) every judgment or order obtained in any such proceeding before the passing of this Act which was made solely on the ground that such warrant was invalidated by such addition of fees and expenses as aforesaid shall be and be deemed always to have been void and unenforceable;
(c) nothing in this section shall prevent the court in which any such proceeding is pending or was heard and determined from making after the passing of this Act such order as to the costs of such proceeding as such court shall think proper nor prevent an application in such proceeding for such order as to costs.

The Ceann Comhairle mentioned to me that amendment No. 33 is covered by amendment No. 34, which goes further. Amendment No. 34 is to delete sub-sections (2) and (3); amendment No. 33 is to delete sub-section (2). I dislike this section in its entirety.

Is the Deputy not moving amendment No. 33?

No. I am moving amendment No. 34:—

To delete sub-sections (2) and (3) and insert in lieu thereof the following sub-section:—

(2) No proceedings shall be instituted for illegal seizure against any county registrar in respect of any seizure made by him prior to the 1st day of August, 1935, under a warrant issued by the Land Commission under Section 28 of the Land Act of 1923, in any case in which the said seizure would have been valid had the foregoing sub-section been in force at the date of the said seizure."

I dislike the whole of this section. I think it is introducing a very bad principle. It is endeavouring to alter the legal position between certain citizens of this State. It goes a great deal further, indeed, than that, because, in sub-section (3), it actually goes as far as to declare that certain decisions, certain judgments, arrived at between parties who have litigated in this State, shall be treated as null and void. I do not think that a worse principle could be put forward in any piece of legislation than that, when the rights of parties—the rights of individuals— have been settled by the courts of this country, this House is to come along and say that the sums which are due by one individual to another—due as a result of a tortious act of that second individual—are to be treated as null and void. As I say, I dislike the whole principle which is embodied in this section. However, I have put forward an amendment here which, even though that amendment has enshrined in it a principle which I do not like, I have still put forward in the hope that the Minister will accept it, not because it will do away with the whole of this section, but because I feel that it will do away with some of the most objectionable features in this section.

Now, the section itself, Sir, is a retrospective section. It declares that, where in the case of seizures made by the sheriff, the sheriff has added on sums of money as expenses which he was not justified in adding on, the seizure shall still be deemed good, and the injustice done to the party against whom the seizure was made shall remain without remedy, or, if a remedy has been taken and a judgment of a court given in his favour, that that should be set aside. My amendment is to the effect that no action shall be brought for illegal seizure against any county registrar in respect of any seizure made by him prior to the 1st day of August, 1935, under a warrant issued by the Land Commission. Now, I have deliberately taken the date, the first day of August, 1935, for this reason: There may have been—there were—doubts in the minds of certain sheriffs or county registrars who are now doing the duty of sheriffs as to whether they were, or were not, justified in adding on these sums, but the complete illegality was not clear until the decision in the case of Halpin v. the Irish Land Commission was decided. The judgment in Halpin v. the Irish Land Commission was given on the 30th day of July, 1935. It was reported in all the daily papers in the Saorstát, and fully reported, on the 31st July, 1935. Therefore, on the 1st August, 1935, every sheriff or every county registrar, who made a seizure, must have been perfectly aware that, if he were charging certain sums which, heretofore, sheriffs had been in the habit of charging, he was doing so illegally and wrongly.

Now, if there is any case to be made for preventing an action being taken against a sheriff who is acting bona fide, who is adding on sums varying in amounts from comparatively small sums up to sums of £5 or £6 for expenses, which he was not entitled to charge—if there were any case to be made for a county registrar or sheriff who did so unwittingly and unknowingly prior to the decision in the Halpin case—there can be no possible reason or no possible excuse for a sheriff or county registrar who deliberately went on breaking the law, deliberately went on making persons pay, under Land Commission warrants, sums which he was not entitled to get. If my amendment is accepted, every sheriff who acted bona fide, every sheriff who acted in a belief that he was justified in doing what he did do, has got his protection unless a judgment has already been obtained against him. I cannot see, however, any possible reason why a sheriff, who goes to the house of an individual who owes, let us say, £10 annuity—the sheriff being entitled to charge the sum of 3/-, precisely, on that £10—should come along and make that man come in and pay £13 or £14. The sum of £10 was what the man owed in law and, if the sheriff is entitled to charge 3/-, that would amount to £10 3s. Why, then, should that man be charged £13 or £14? That has been done, and done knowingly. If my amendment is accepted, no sheriff will remain unsafeguarded except a sheriff who has acted knowingly in such a way, and if a sheriff has come and seized and, through his court messengers, has extorted money from individuals that he had no right to get, why, in Heaven's name, should that man receive protection from this House? After all, when a sheriff, who is entitled to charge 3/-, comes in and makes a seizure on a tenant farmer— an ordinary countryman—against whom the seizure is being made, and charges £3 or £4, what knowledge has that farmer of his rights? He does not want his stock seized, and so, if he can do so at all, he puts up the money. Now, this House is to say that he has to pay £2 or £3 or, in some cases, larger sums; and, very often, in certain cases, such as mountainy regions where you are a very long way away from a town, the sums may be very high indeed because sheriffs were illegally charging expenses on the distance they had to go. Now, if those persons are to ask for their money back, this House, as the section stands, is to say: “This money has been wrongfully extorted from you and we are going to deprive you of your remedy.” There is no question of the sheriff doing it bona fide if my amendment is accepted. It is the sheriff who, knowing he has no right to take money, has taken money whom I say this House should not safeguard, and for that reason, I put it as strongly as I can that my amendment should be accepted.

There is the other principle—the setting aside of judgments of the court. I think that judgments of the court have been very few. If it becomes a question of indemnifying a sheriff who acted bona fide, let the State indemnify him. If the Minister comes in here with a vote, saying that the sheriff has acted bona fide and that he should not be made to pay this out of his pocket, I will give him support, but it is not right that, where a judgment has been obtained, this House should declare that a judgment obtained in our courts, ascertaining the legal rights of individuals between themselves, may be treated as a scrap of waste paper. That is what this section is asking us to do; that is what in express terms paragraph (b) of sub-section (3) asks us to do. I put it to the Minister that this amendment is one which gives every safeguard to every sheriff which a sheriff ought to get. After all, as I said in my Second Reading speech, and I repeat now, there should be respect for the law and it should not be confined to one side of the House. Respect for our courts, and for the decisions of our courts, should be as great on the Government Benches as it is on the Opposition Benches. It is not a Party matter. It is a national principle that is at stake. I know that heretofore in connection with this Bill, the Minister has not accepted any amendment. I do not know whether he has definitely made up his mind that in no circumstances will he ever accept any amendment coming from these benches. That may be his principle, but if it is, it is a very bad principle. I sincerely hope it is not his principle, and if it is not, I put it as strongly as I can that this is an amendment he ought to accept.

This is an amendment anyway which will get the most favourable consideration. I cannot go beyond that at the moment, but, following the Deputy's Second Reading speech, I went into this question again with the Land Commission to ascertain if they really wanted the powers they have. There are certain retrospective powers which they have and, so far as I can gather, they are not wanted to indemnify the sheriffs against anything they have done. My information is that this whole business of sheriffs' fees began and ended with the Halpin case, and that, once the Halpin case was over, the sheriffs took cognisance of the court's decision.

That is not correct. I advised a particular case. The Land Commission may not know it, but I can tell the Minister of a seizure that was made within four miles of my own home—I can give the name of the party if he wishes—and a charge of £2 was made. The seizure was for £4 and £2 was charged for expenses and all the sheriff was entitled to was 3/-. I advised him to take proceedings. That happened last May and that case was still worse because the man had written up—his rent had just been altered—to the Land Commission so that he might get his receivable order on which he could pay. The seizure was made before the Land Commission had sent him back his receivable order. However, that is another matter. The fact is that £2 was charged where 3/- was the proper sum. The Land Commission may not know that, but that is a case I know of my own knowledge.

As I say, we are still looking into it and I have asked the Attorney-General to help us in the matter. So far as I can see at the moment, we may be able to drop clause (b) of sub-section (3).

Would it meet the Minister if my amendment were postponed to Report Stage?

Yes, I think that would be better. As a matter of fact, we may have to redraft the whole section.

The Minister knows the general principles which were embodied in my amendment. If he adjourns it until Report Stage, I am perfectly satisfied. I want to have the thing put on what I think is a sound basis, because I assure him I am not the only person who thinks attacks on the courts are dangerous.

There is no intention to attack the courts.

Amendment withdrawn?

Could it not be adjourned to Report Stage?

The Deputy can introduce it on Report Stage, because I intend to recommit the Bill.

The Minister has said that he will introduce an amendment and that is sufficient for me.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments 35 and 36 not moved.
Section 17 agreed to.
SECTION 18.
(1) A county registrar executing an execution order (other than an order for the delivery of possession of lands or premises) obtained at the suit of the Land Commission or levying under a warrant issued by the Land Commission under Section 28 of the Land Act, 1933, shall, in addition to all other powers vested in him by law, be entitled to levy the amount leviable under such order or warrant by seizure and sale, so far as may be necessary of all goods, animals or other chattels (to whomsoever belonging) found on the lands on which are charged or out of which issue the moneys for default in payment whereof such execution order was obtained or such warrant was issued.

I move amendment No. 37:—

In sub-section (1), line 9, to add after the word "found" the following words "otherwise than for a temporary purpose".

This amendment is designed to get over, in a certain class of cases, a really impossible condition of affairs. The condition of affairs is this: Somebody owes money for a land annuity, and the sheriff can seize any single bit of property which is on the premises when he visits them. My amendment is to prescribe that he shall not take property which is there temporarily, because some of the things that have happened would astonish the House by their absurdity. Take a case which has really happened. It is not imaginary. A large petroleum lorry was going around and it entered on a premises, the owner of which owed his land annuities. The petroleum lorry was seized by the sheriff and the oil company had to pay up. I believe that actually took place. That is absurd. Supposing Deputy O'Reilly goes on a visit to a friend who owes an annuity and wants to buy cattle. If he arrives in a motor car and leaves it in the yard, when he comes out the sheriff may tell him to clear off as the car has been seized. That is an absurd state of affairs, and it has not been redeemed by the common sense of all court messengers. I want to put in the words set out in the amendment, so that if stock, property or goods which does not belong to the person who owes the debt, is on his land for some little time, they will not be seized. I am not at all sure that it is wise that this indiscriminate power to seize property should be given. I am not sure but it cuts both ways. If it is known that a man owes annuities and rates, and is not in a position to stock his land, he cannot sub-let, because no one will take the land owing to the danger that the stock may be seized. Some land that is under-stocked by persons who owe annuities might be stocked if others were aware that their stock would not be seized for the debt. I am not at all enamoured of the principle, and I can see that there is a good deal to be said on both sides. At one time I thought it was sound, but when worked out in practice I am not at all satisfied that my original conception was right. I do not say that I am completely of opinion that it is wrong, and that there is a very much stronger case against it than could be made in the beginning. I am sure the Minister does not want this to run to the absolute extreme, so that a visitor might discover, if he leaves his overcoat in the hall, that it may be seized for arrears of annuities due by a person he was visiting.

I find myself in agreement with the Deputy to this extent— if we could find words to cover and to exclude goods or chattels there for a temporary purpose, such as the oil van that he spoke of. I am afraid it has been found impossible up to this to exclude even the oil van, and at the same time to include cattle on land on the 11 months' system. The whole purpose of the Act of 1927 was to try to get the land annuities paid so that the owner should not get out of paying while there was stock on the land. The stock would be the tenant's, but it might be there in someone else's name on the 11 months' system. I do not think it is possible to draft an amendment to cover what the Deputy desires, and to leave the Land Commission with the powers that were given them in 1927, and intended to be used by them. As far as I can learn, there have been no reports of grave wrongs done by the section as it stands. In the ordinary way I think the sheriff, county registrar or court messenger would use his discretion.

They do not. I think the income-tax people are just as bad, but I do not suppose that will surprise Deputies. I suggest to the Minister that if he puts the view I have mentioned before the Parliamentary draftsman it is possible that a formula could be got, for instance: "not on the land under any existing contract, or not on the land for the purpose of the owner making profit or gain thereby." Some words of that kind would possibly meet the matter if the Minister thinks the word "temporary" would not be sufficient. If the Minister called upon the Parliamentary draftsman and the Land Commission, between them I am sure they would make some effort.

I do not think there is any use promising the Deputy that it could be done. I am perfectly certain that this consideration was in the mind of the Parliamentary draftsman, and in the mind of the Minister responsible for the Bill in 1927, and that if the particular type of people the Deputy wants to exclude could be excluded by words in the Act, they would have been inserted then. It was left to the discretion of the county registrar not to take things belonging to someone who was there merely for a temporary purpose.

The Minister should reconsider this section, because the county registrars, or the persons responsible appear to seize anything they find on these premises. The effect of the section might be to put a doctor in the position that he could not bring a motor car to such premises, fearing that it would be seized. A clergyman or a doctor might be unable to visit a person who was in arrears until they were sure that a warrant for the arrears would not be executed while they were present. The Minister should find some way out of the difficulty. I wish to draw attention to another aspect of the matter, and to suggest that people who put cattle on such land in good faith should not be liable for more than the amount of the grazing money or the contract. Otherwise these lands would be lying derelict, as no use would be made of them. No man would touch such land unless he was assured that all debts were paid. Apart from the position of people calling with a lorry or with a motor car, the tenants concerned should be able to utilise their land and to make some profit out of it. People who sent cattle there to graze should not be liable for more than the grazing money. Unless the Minister considers that aspect of the case such land will become derelict.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 18 agreed to.
SECTION 19.
Question proposed: "That Section 19 stand part of the Bill."

A very serious question arises on this section. The wording of the section is: "A warrant issued by the Land Commission under Section 58 of the Land Act of 1933 shall be deemed to be a judgment of a competent court within the meaning of Section 15 of the Enforcement of Court Orders Act, 1926." We know that these warrants go before nobody before they are issued. They need not be issued by the Land Commission themselves. They are not issued by the Land Commission. They are issued by any official in the Land Commission, and the seal is not necessarily affixed by the Secretary of the Land Commission. If you take the leading case to which I referred a moment ago, Halpin's case, in that case it did not go before the Commissioners who, properly speaking, constitute the Land Commission, at all. The whole thing was done by one of the clerks in the Collection Branch.

A certificate of a clerk in the Collection Branch has to be regarded as having the same force and validity as a judgment of one of our courts. That is entirely wrong. It may be putting the Land Commission and it may be putting officialdom in this country on a very high pedestal, and I daresay officialdom in this country cannot be put high enough to please itself, but this is pulling down our courts tremendously. Besides, I should like to point out to the Minister that, after all, we have a Constitution and that while that Constitution is in existence it should be respected. One of the provisions of our Constitution is that all judicial acts shall be performed by judges. It was held in Halpin's case that this was not a judicial act, even that the putting on of the seal of the Land Commission was not a judicial act, and that in consequence the Land Commission could do it. The issue of the certificate was not a judicial act. Having got that decision, they come along here and solemnly ask this House that a thing which is not a judgment of a court shall be deemed to be a judgment of a court. That, I submit, would be a very wrong thing for this House to agree to.

One point the Deputy forgot to mention was that this was merely a preliminary to bringing a man before the courts for examination as to his means. It is simply a preliminary to bringing him before the court to make him disclose whether he really has any property out of which the Land Commission can recoup themselves for the land annuities.

That is really what makes it so bad.

The point is that it is simply a preliminary to bringing him into court and letting the court examine him as to his means. There would be some objection to the section if the Land Commission took the same powers as the court to examine him as to his means, but this, as I say, is only a preliminary step to bringing the man before the court.

This is an absolutely final certificate from the Land Commission on which there is no going back. It is to have the force of a judgment, and is to be as binding for the purpose of examining a debtor as to his means as any judgment of a court could be. In Halpin's case it was definitely decided that these warrants were not decisions of the court at all, that these warrants were ordinary distress warrants such as used to be issued by landlords for the collection of rent from tenants, landlords who preferred to send their bailiffs or, as they used to be called, their drivers to drive cattle off the land without the intervention of any court. It was decided in Halpin's case that this was a distress warrant, and nothing else except a distress warrant. Now we are told that distress warrants issued by a person who is entitled to seize for annuities is to be put upon precisely the same basis as a judgment of our courts. I would ask the Minister to reconsider this section.

I think it is no harm to bring him before the courts. That is what the Deputy has been asking in other cases.

Question put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 43; Níl, 31.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Cooney, Eamon.
  • Corbett, Edmond.
  • Corkery, Daniel.
  • Corry, Martin John.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Kealy, Séamus P.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Kissane, Eamon.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • Murphy, Timothy Joseph.
  • O Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.

Níl

  • Anthony, Richard.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Brennan, Michael.
  • Broderick, William Joseph.
  • Burke, James Michael.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Costello, John Aloysius.
  • Curran, Richard.
  • Daly, Patrick.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, James Edward.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • O'Donovan, Timothy Joseph.
  • Desmond, William
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Holohan, Richard.
  • Keating, John.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • MacEoin, Sean.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Rice, Vincent.
  • Roddy, Martin.
  • Rowlette, Robert James.
  • Wall, Nicholas.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Smith and Beegan; Níl: Deputies Doyle and Bennett.
Question declared carried.
Section 19 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
SECTION 20.
Question proposed: "That Section 20 stand part of the Bill."

This section relates to the appointment of limited administrators. Frankly, I do not understand the phraseology of the section, which is:—

Where in any proceedings under the Land Purchase Acts the Land Commission makes an advance for the improvement of a holding or a parcel of land, and the owner of such holding or parcel is dead and there is no legal representative of such deceased owner or the services of the legal personal representative of such owner are not conveniently available,

then, for the purpose of carrying out improvements to the holding, a personal representative may be appointed by the Land Commission. That may be done although there is a legal personal representative in existence. The representative so appointed will not be under any legal obligation to see that the work which he is appointed to take charge of is carried out to the satisfaction of the Land Commission. Seemingly, he will not enter into any bond or any form of contract with the Land Commission for the purpose of carrying out his duties as administrator of the estate. It is quite conceivable that there will be two legal representatives for one holding. One representative may be in existence, but may not be available at the moment for the purposes of the Land Commission. In that event the Land Commission will proceed to appoint a second representative for the purpose of carrying out improvements to the holding. That representative will not be under any bond or contract to carry out the duties for which he is appointed. I do not understand why the provision has been introduced into the Bill at all.

The Attorney-General

Does the Deputy contend that there is no necessity for the words "or the services of the legal personal representative of such owner are not conveniently available"? The Deputy does not object to the appointment of a legal representative for the purpose of the proceedings?

I should like to get an explanation as to why the section is introduced. What is the object of it? It seems rather ridiculous to appoint two legal representatives for the same holding. If the first legal representative is not available, the Land Commission can appoint a second one for the purpose of carrying out different duties. That second representative will not be under any bond or contract in connection with that discharge of those duties.

The Attorney-General

The section is intended to enable something which is purely administrative to be done. When the personal representative signs for the advance, it becomes chargeable upon the holding. The holding is the security for the advance. They are limited administrators for that purpose only. It is merely in order to enable the Land Commission to get through with the making of advances when no administrator existed.

Who ever heard of a limited administrator being appointed when there is an actual administrator or executor, as the case may be, in existence? Limited administrators have been appointed for certain cases in law suits, but an executor may have legal possession of land and another person who need not have anything to do with the land at all, a person who need not be in occupation of the land, seemingly can be appointed for one purpose, that is the purpose of the Land Commission's making advances to him for improvements. Why need he spend that money in improvement if he is a stranger to the place? The land is not vested in him. He is a complete stranger and he has no power over the land. The power would be vested in the executor. Why need he spend one halfpenny of this advance on the land? Or can he spend the money on the land in the way the executor does not like? I think the Minister would be well advised if he cut out the words "or the services of the legal personal representative of such deceased owner are not conveniently available."

I think the Minister will be well-advised to cut out these words. It is a most extraordinary state of affairs. One person is executor of a will. He has got full control. You may as well appoint a personal representative for a living man without his knowledge or consent, or appoint another personal representative to do the work of the executor. It is very much as if you had power to give a power of attorney to a nominee of yours to act on behalf of a living man. That is how it works out. That is an astonishingly new proposition. The Attorney-General will agree with me that he never before heard of anything of this kind in his life. We would like to have some examples quoted as to why it is necessary. We would like to have something of that kind put before us. It may be very difficult for the Attorney-General or for the Minister for Lands to give us that at a moment's notice. We would very much like to have it because it is a very startling proposition. I hold land and behind my back somebody else may enter into a contract making me liable.

Though the Deputy may be 7,000 miles away.

I may be 7,000 miles away, and I do not want Deputy Moore to walk in and deal with my property even though I may be 14,000 miles away. The Deputy, I am sure, would deal with it very wisely.

The Attorney-General

I am afraid the Deputy is wrong in stating this is a revolutionary proposal of which nobody has heard before for I find it is taken verbatim from the 1929 Land Act, sometimes called Roddy's Act. The very first section of that Act reads:—

Whenever, in any proceedings under the Land Purchase Acts for the exchange or consolidation of a holding or parcel of land for or with other land, the owner of such holding or parcel is dead and there is no legal personal representative of such deceased owner or the services of his legal personal representative are not conveniently available for carrying out such exchange or consolidation, the Land Commission may——

And so on.

Is the Attorney-General reading from a section in this Bill?

The Attorney-General

The Deputy might reasonably think I was. I am reading from Section 1 of the Land Act of 1929.

Was the Attorney-General in the House at the time and did he allow that to go through?

The Attorney-General

I was not.

Well, I absolve the Attorney-General so. The Attorney-General will agree with me, however, that this is a most astonishing proposition, apart from whether it has been in existence before or not. Might we hear the cases in which it has been used?

The Attorney-General

Well, apparently it was made available by that Act. I see the objections that Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney raises. The only risk I see is that the person nominated under this section might expend money on some purposes other than on what it was intended the money should be spent. But in practice the money is for improvements and the expenditure is carried out under the supervision and to the satisfaction of the Land Commission, and they make sure the work is carried out. I imagine that in a number of cases the sum would be very small. This is to enable a type of work to be done where you have no personal representative and the estate is not big enough to warrant the demand that administration should be taken out; or where the personal representative may be in Scotland, America or somewhere else. In such cases the necessary improvement works cannot be carried out without a nominee. There must be some person to act as personal representative in order to secure the advance. The principal objection I can see to the proposal is the lack of security.

What is done in cases where the owner is away in Scotland or in America? What has happened then? Suppose the owner is away, let me say, in Scotland and he has left a wife and family at home. Then does the Land Commission appoint a personal representative to a living man, which is rather a contradiction? Or do they give a power of attorney?

The Attorney-General

I understand that Section 1 of the Land Act of 1929 would enable similar things to be done as are done in this Bill in cases where it is necessary to effect an exchange or a consolidation of a holding. To enable that to be done the Land Commission have power under Section 1 of the Act of 1929 to nominate a certain person—limited to this particular purpose. I should imagine that is a very useful provision. Let us take a case where, as often happens, there are a number of children on a holding. One of them takes out administration and goes off to America and there is a difficulty in finding him. There is available for exchange another holding, or there is land which the Land Commission wish to consolidate. Are the Land Commission to be hung up if they cannot lay their hands on the proper person or, in other words, if that person is not available? It would mean that that person who had a beneficial interest in the holding would lose because this consolidation could not be legally carried out. This section is merely extending the thing a step further and enabling necessary improvements to be carried out. I imagine that the risk the Deputy spoke about of money being expended otherwise than on improvements is extremely remote. The power would be only availed of in small cases. I imagine the practice of appointing a limited personal representative for the purpose of carrying out this work would not be resorted to in any case where there were considerable assets which would justify compelling some member of the family to take out a grant in the ordinary way.

I am not troubling about the limited administrator of a dead person—that is an old and familiar principle—but the appointment of a limited administrator, while there is another representative, either administrator or executor, in existence, is a thing that strikes me as being astonishing.

The Attorney-General

It may appear in a way surprising, but take, for example, the case of a holding where the administrator has gone to America, which the Deputy, I am sure, will admit frequently happens in the West in small holdings, and an advance is required to improve the holding. The Land Commission want to make an advance, which, as a rule, does not exceed £40, I am told—probably it will average half that—to the persons in actual occupation to enable improvements to be carried out. Is there anything startling about enabling them to name some of the persons actually on the holding as limited administrator for that particular purpose, despite the fact that there is a legal personal representative, if he could be got? Is there anything really startling about it. The advantages of doing it outweigh the disadvantages? Is it not an advantageous thing to the small holder to allow it to be done?

What is the procedure when you want to make an improvement and not merely the legal owner but the complete owner is out of the country? I do not see any difference between the case in which the owner is out of the country and the case in which the executor of the last owner is out of the country.

The Attorney-General

I imagine it is rather unusual that the owner should be away. It is not a case that would arise very frequently. If he was away he could appoint somebody under power of attorney to do it.

The Land Commission can carry on in one case but not in the other. I do not mean to dispute the section.

The Attorney-General

The sole purpose of it, despite the theoretical objections there may be to such an unusual procedure and the fact that the section of the 1929 Act may not be a complete defence, is that the Land Commission have found in practice that there are cases where they have difficulty in allowing necessary improvements to be carried out because they cannot get somebody legally to charge the holding with the money. It is put in to meet that case. I think the Deputy will agree that the advantages outweigh the suggested disadvantages.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 21.
The following amendment was agreed to:—
38. In lines 49 and 50, to delete the words "a provisional list shall be published after" and substitute the words "no provisional list has been published before".—(Aire Tailte.)
Question proposed: "That Section 21, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

Will the Minister explain in simpler language than he did on the Second Reading, what actually is the meaning of that section?

Under the 1923 Act, all untenanted land in congested districts counties automatically vested in the Land Commission. It has the effect, whether the Land Commission really want these holdings for the relief of congestion or not, of vesting them. If there are small freehold portions of land, the Land Commission have to purchase them and revest them in the original owner. That means that the owner simply sells untenanted land to the Land Commission, and because it is so small they have to revest it in him. The intention of the 1923 Act was to give the Land Commission power over all the untenanted land in congested districts counties. I do not think it was ever intended, where land was sub-divided into small holdings already, that the Land Commission should go to the trouble of purchasing these lands, advancing land bonds to the owner, and then allowing him to pay off the land bonds on an annuity basis. It has the effect simply of giving the owner a long loan repayable in interest and sinking fund on the same basis as the ordinary annuities fixed upon land. There is no necessity for it. The owner of small portions of untenanted land is in the place where the Land Commission seeks to put a lot of other people. There is no reason, if he is there already, that they should go to the trouble of purchasing his land and revesting it in him.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 22.
Question proposed "That Section 22 stand part of the Bill."

The Minister promised to make some inquiries about Land Bank and Committee cases, and to let us know how many of these cases were left over, if any. The 1927 Act was devised primarily to deal with these cases. I was under the impression that they were finished long since.

All the applications that came in were dealt with, or are in process of being dealt with.

Are there cases left over?

There are only a few left over, and they are being dealt with. They applied.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 23.
The following amendment was agreed to:—
39. In sub-section (1), page 12, line 14, to delete the word "conferred" and substitute the word "made".— (Aire Tailte).
Question proposed: "That Section 23, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

It appears to me that this section will have the effect of curtailing considerably the activities, not alone of the Government themselves but of private individuals, in carrying out building schemes in various parts of the State. The effect of the section contained in the Land Act of 1927 is altered considerably by this. It seems to me that it is altered designedly for the purpose of bringing under the control of the Land Commission land which has not building value at the moment, but which will have building value, let us say, in five or ten years' time. The word "potential" has been taken out of the section altogether, and now the land must possess substantial and actual value as building ground. I have heard of a case recently—I have not been in a position to confirm it—where, in the neighbourhood of a certain town in the West of Ireland, an estate was divided by the Land Commission about 12 months ago, and already the urban council are looking for portion of the land for the purpose of carrying out a building scheme.

It seems to me that under this section the Land Commission will proceed to divide such estates and such farms in the neighbourhood of many towns, and that the local authorities will probably, in the course of a year or two years or five years, have to acquire portion of these lands for the purpose of carrying out building schemes of one kind or another. As the section is drafted, it appears to me to cut right across the building policy of the Government which the Minister for Local Government outlined at some length when introducing his amending housing legislation recently. Not only that, but it also interferes with the development of seaside resorts and with building development generally.

The Deputy, I think, is misreading the section. Under the 1923 Act the landlord had the right to object to the purchase of his land if it had a potential building value. With the coming of modern transport, land, wherever situate, has a potential building value. The word "potential" has a very wide meaning, and it enabled a landlord to say: "Well I object to the purchase of this land because it has a potential building value." In this Bill we are defining more clearly what is meant. For the word "potential" we are substituting the words "actual and substantial." If the land has not either a substantial or an actual building value, if it is, in fact, an ordinary agricultural holding, worked in the way that other farms in the district are worked, if it has not been built on, and if the tenant continues to work it as an agricultural holding, there is no reason why he should be excluded from the right to purchase, simply because the landlord under the 1923 Act could claim that the land had a potential building value. That is all that the section is meant to do.

Is the Minister satisfied that the definition in this section, "substantial and actual", has the same meaning as the definition in the Act of 1927? The Minister, I think, did not contend that it had. The new definition certainly does give the Land Commission greater power to acquire land which, in the course of time, will become exceedingly valuable as building ground. It appears to me that the section, as drafted, gives the Land Commission power to acquire any land, no matter whether it has a building value or not. It seems to me that when this Bill becomes an Act, and when this section is in operation, the Land Commission will undoubtedly take over land for the relief of congestion which should properly be set aside so as to enable building development to take place on the estate. The alteration in the definition seems to me to weaken the authority of the Land Commission over building ground. Under the section it will not be possible for them to leave aside land which will have a potential building value in four, five or ten years' time. Under the Act of 1927 it was possible for them to do that. Under this section they will be empowered to take such land to meet the needs of congests. The Minister's remarks seem to me to confirm more or less the interpretation that I have put on the section.

There are two classes of land, tenanted and untenanted. Under the Act of 1933, we took power in the case of tenanted land to purchase it from the landlord and to vest it in the tenant, notwithstanding the fact that it had a potential building value. We said then, in effect, that, if there is a substantial or potential building value attached to the land, the tenant in occupation of it for a number of years should get the benefit of the increased value rather than the landlord. Now, some people may object to that on the ground that it should go to neither. Anyway, in 1933, as between the landlord and tenant, we came down in favour of the tenant and took power to purchase and vest the holding in him. Then there is untenanted land. There are the cases of long leaseholders, fee-farm grantees and people like that who apply to the Land Commission for the purchase of their holdings. As the law stands, the landlord can object to the purchase on the ground that the land has potential building value. A few moments ago I described what potential means.

With modern transport conditions a landlord could claim with some justification that land in almost any part of the country, even on the top of mountain, had a potential building value, and that it could be used as a building site. We think that if a farmer is using his farm in the normal way, and if it has not a substantial or actual building value, he should not be deprived of his right, a right that has been given to his neighbours, to purchase his land. In future a landlord will have to prove that the land has an actual or substantial building value rather than a potential building value in order to prevent an occupier, a long leaseholder or a fee-farm grantee from the right to purchase.

I find myself in the difficulty that I cannot construe the word "actual" in the sense in which it is used in the section. Does it mean that building operations have to be actually in progress on the land, or that if building operations are being carried out in the near vicinity, then the land can be said to have an actual building value? I would be glad if the Minister would explain the meaning of the word "actual" in the sense in which it is used in the section; it is not clear to me. It is a very definite term to insert. It appears to me that it would eliminate any prospective value in land if we are going to insist that it must have an actual building value. No matter whose interest is involved, it would be unfair to make terms that would eliminate building value in land, if it exists. There is something to be said, perhaps, for the Minister's contention that potential value could be interpreted in a very wide way, but I am afraid the alternative, actual, could be interpreted in a way to operate against the owner of the land. Actual building value, so far as I can see, means that definite proof would have to be submitted that the land had a building value and that the Land Commission would have to be so satisfied. I think it would be hard to satisfy them except building was actually commenced on it or on land so near to it as to make it definitely certain that the land would be built on. The word "actual" is too strong an alternative.

I understand clearly the difference between tenanted and untenanted land in relation to building ground. I know that the position with regard to tenanted land was affected by a certain provision of the Land Act of 1903, but it seems to me that the development of modern transport as applied to a definition of what is potential building land certainly never entered the minds of the framers of certain clauses of the Act of 1927. I think it is stretching things rather a bit for the Minister to apply modern transport development to a definition of potential in relation to building value. This section does interfere with normal building development. It is true the Minister for Local Government can compulsorily acquire any land he wants for the purpose of carrying out his building schemes. But take seaside resorts and the smaller towns where there is no local authority. In the ordinary normal way these towns will develop and extend in the course of time; additional land will be required for the purposes of development and expansion; numbers of new buildings will have to be erected in the neighbourhood of these towns. It does seem to me that this section, which gives this power to the Land Commission to acquire such land, will interfere considerably with such normal building development. I suggest that the word "potential" should be retained in the section, which should read: "land which possesses a substantial and actual as well as a potential value as building ground." The word "potential" would undoubtedly widen the authority of the Land Commission in regard to the exclusion of land suitable for building ground, and it would have the effect of enabling the Land Commission to set aside land which will be definitely required in the course of years for the purpose of ordinary building development.

With regard to Deputy Bennett's point, it is certainly much easier to define the land of this country that is actual building land than it is to define the land that is potential building land. We want to give the tenant, the long lessee or the fee-farm grantee, the benefit of the narrower definition, actual as against potential, so that he can come in and purchase his land. With regard to Deputy Roddy's point that this will in some way prevent building, at the moment if a man has his land on a long lease it is difficult for him to get the landlord to agree to building and I think, instead of preventing him, it would help to make land available for building.

Section 23, as amended, agreed to
SECTION 24.
(2) Where the Appeal Tribunal authorises the Land Commission to resume a holding and the lay commissioners (other than the members of the Appeal Tribunal) certify that it is expedient that such holding should immediately be available for distribution or for carrying out improvements with a view to distribution, the Appeal Tribunal shall authorise the Land Commission to enter into possession of such holding immediately notwithstanding that the resumption price thereof has not been fixed.

I move amendment No. 40:—

In sub-section (2), line 32, to delete all the words after the word "Tribunal" to the end of the sub-section and in lieu thereof to insert the following words:—

"consider it just, fair and equitable to the person in occupation of the holding, that such holding should be acquired by the Land Commission for distribution; the Appeal Tribunal shall not authorise the Land Commission to enter into possession until the resumption price is fixed".

This amendment seeks to limit the powers of the Land Commission as defined in this section. We think that it is not proper to give powers of resuming land before the ordinary conditions are fulfilled. One of the principal conditions is the fixing of the price. Probably the Minister will say that there will be no improvements made until the farm is actually taken over—it is only a question of waiting for the appeal, and so on. We feel it is indefensible that anybody's property should be entered on, whether it is with the intention of taking land over for division or anything else, until there is in the mind of what we will call the vendor—he may not be really a vendor; he may be an unwilling vendor, if you like—the conviction that the price is just and that it is being finally fixed. It may be that something will turn up afterwards, that changes will be effected in the land that might lessen its value, or the sale might fall through for some reason. Deputy McMenamin and I consider the amendment quite a reasonable one, and I would urge the Minister to give it careful consideration.

The amendment put down by Deputies Bennett and McMenamin does not really effect the purpose for which they put it down, but it is easy to see what the intention is. I really feel that the Land Commission should have these powers. After all, the price will be fixed by the Appeal Tribunal, and we want to endeavour to speed up the division of land. It is sometimes important to be able to go in even a month ahead of the price being fixed, in order to make certain improvements in buildings and get the incoming tenant on to the land at the time of the year that is most suitable. Sometimes you have a case where the Land Commission want to put in a man in January or February, in order that he can do the spring work. If they had not the powers that are here, they would have to delay perhaps until April or May, and the incoming tenant would be at a great disadvantage in preparing for the sowing of crops and so on. I think that it is not a very big amendment to the Land Acts. It is only giving us the same power in regard to these resumed holdings as we have in regard to other holdings. The Land Commission consider it a very necessary amendment. It will enable them to carry out their work much more expeditiously, and to give much more satisfaction to the incoming tenant.

I take it that the Minister is not, in this section, getting any more power than the Land Commission had got in the case of the acquisition of land for the relief of congestion?

Is it not a fact that the number of cases in which the Land Commission have gone in before the payment of money has been very small?

That was my impression.

Amendment 40, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 24 agreed to.
SECTION 25.
(1) Whenever the Land Commission proposes to acquire compulsorily any land for the relief of congestion or for the purpose of resale to the persons or bodies mentioned in Section 31 of the Land Act, 1923, as amended by Section 33 of the Land Act, 1933, the Land Commission shall publish in theIrish Oifigiúil—
(a) a certificate by the lay commissioners that such land is required for (as the case may be) the relief of congestion or the purpose of resale to the persons or bodies aforesaid, and
(b) such provisional list as is mentioned in sub-section (2) of Section 40 of the Land Act, 1923, of such land.
(2) All objections to a provisional list published in theIris Oifigiúil in pursuance of the foregoing sub-section of this section shall be considered by the lay commissioners (other than the members of the Appeal Tribunal) and the decision of such lay commissioners on any such objection shall be final subject only to such right of appeal as is given by this section.

I move amendment No. 41:—

In sub-section (1), page 12, line 50, after the word "Commission" to insert the words "after the passing of this Act".

This is purely a drafting amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 42:—

In sub-section (2), line 3, to delete the words "considered by" and insert in lieu thereof the words "listed for hearing before".

The object of this amendment is to make sure—although I rather gathered from the Minister that it was his intention—that when the lay commissioners hear an objection they will hear it in court. As the section stands, it would seem to me—and as a matter of fact I consulted, I may say, with a very well known real property lawyer to see if his view agreed with mine—that owing to the fact that you have "listed for hearing" in sub-section (3) while in sub-section (2) you have the word "considered", it looks very like as if the intention was that those objections should be considered in camera, and that an opportunity of being heard would not be given to the objector. I rather gathered from the Minister that he did not mean to alter the existing procedure by which the objections are heard by the lay commissioners, so to speak, in court. If that is the case mine is merely a drafting amendment. If it is something more than a drafting amendment I should like the Minister to accept it, because I think it would be a great mistake to depart from the existing procedure.

It is not the intention of the Land Commission to depart from it. I am quite prepared to accept the Deputy's amendment, but I should like the Parliamentary draftsman to have a look at it.

We will introduce an amendment to cover it on the next stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 43:—

After sub-section (4) to insert a new sub-section as follows:—

(5) Whenever the lay commissioners (other than the members of the Appeal Tribunal) shall have made a decision upon any objection or requisition they shall if so requested by the person making the said objection or requisition or by counsel or solicitor on his behalf deliver to the said person or to his solicitor as the case may be a statement in writing of the findings of fact and rulings in law on which their said decision has been based.

The object of the amendment is this: An appeal is given from the lay commissioners to the Appeal Tribunal on a question of law. It is very difficult, in fact it is impossible, to appeal on a question of law unless the lay commissioners give you some findings. You come in with an objection before the lay commissioners, and the commissioners listen to you. You put forward a certain construction of a certain section. The commissioners may put some questions to you, and then questions of fact also arise. You put your witnesses in the witness box, and when the objection has been heard the lay commissioners simply answer you with the simple words "objection upheld" or "objection refused." You do not know the grounds. Whether they are against you in fact or on a point of law, you have not got the remotest idea. Then you make a pathetic appeal to the lay commissioners and say, "Would you please tell me your reasons?" They smile affably at you and say "No." That is the actual procedure which takes place. That is the procedure to which I want to put an end. Let me say I am appearing before the lay commissioners and I put before them a certain contention in law. The lay commissioners, in deciding against me, are probably deciding that my contention in law is wrong. I wish to bring it up to the Appeal Tribunal. I cannot do so because I have no findings of fact at all. What I want is that when they are asked to give the reasons for their judgment in fact and in law they will do so, in order that a person who wishes to contest the validity of their construction of various statutes shall not be hampered in bringing that question to the Appeal Tribunal.

I will give the Minister a little example. I went before the Appeal Tribunal in a case in which I argued that a section which the Minister had himself put into the 1933 Act did carry out the intention which the Minister stated in this House—I personally thought it did—that is to say that land properly farmed could not be taken up except for the relief of congestion in the immediate vicinity. This particular land, I may say, was in the vicinity of the Tuam beet factory. In consequence of being only a couple of miles away from Tuam, the man had grown a considerable amount of beet and had also grown a considerable amount of wheat. The land, therefore, had been farmed in the way in which the Minister certainly did suggest that lands ought to be farmed. There was no congestion in the immediate vicinity. My contention was that this land could not be taken up. I was met with a decision that it was going to be taken up, and it was perfectly obvious to me that the reason was that the lay commissioners had come to the conclusion that they could take up land properly farmed, for the relief of congestion, no matter in what part of the country or in what part of the county the congestion existed. In other words, they did not think themselves controlled—though I thought it was put bluntly enough—by the words "congestion in the immediate vicinity." I wanted to bring that up to the Appeal Tribunal. I could not do so because I had no findings of fact from them that the land was properly farmed. The Appeal Tribunal have got no power, or certainly do not in fact hear any evidence. In order that there may be an appeal in law, I want to have it as a mere matter of procedure—and nothing else except court procedure—that the lay commissioners, when they hear objections, shall state their findings of fact and their findings in law. I submit to the Minister that that is a very moderate and reasonable request. It is only a question of machinery.

I do not know whether any such procedure exists in any of our courts. I am not saying that the Land Commission is a court, but, if the Deputy went into a court and pleaded a case, is it not for the court to give judgment in short without stating whether it arrives at a decision on the basis of fact or law?

Yes, but suppose you have the case of a judge at nisi prius. There are either the shorthand notes or else there are the judge's notes, and these notes are available for the court above. I would not be introducing a new principle, because, even where the findings of fact are available, the court, in most cases where there is an appeal, may differ on questions of fact. You cannot do so here, however. I really am not introducing a new principle and I do not think it will throw any real burden on the lay commissioners at all. It is only when there is a genuine question of law that any counsel or solicitor will ask for the reasons to be stated.

I had not time to consult about this matter.

If the Minister will consult with the Attorney-General or his legal advisers that is all I want, and I hope that I shall not be estopped from raising the matter on the Report Stage.

Amendment No. 43, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 44:—

To add at the end of the section a new sub-section as follows:—

(6) Nothing in this section shall apply to the compulsory acquisition of land by the Land Commission for the relief of congestion or for the purpose of such resale as is mentioned in the first sub-section of this section where such compulsory acquisition was begun before and is pending at the passing of this Act but, subject to that limitation, the procedure laid down in this section shall apply to all compulsory acquisition of land by the Land Commission for the relief of congestion or the purpose of such resale as aforesaid and shall be deemed for all purposes to be substituted for and to supersede any procedure (in this sub-section referred to as a superseded procedure) for such compulsory acquisition set out in any enactment in force immediately before the passing of this Act, and accordingly—

(a) every reference in any enactment in force after the passing of this Act to any step in a superseded procedure shall be construed as referring to the corresponding step in the procedure laid down in this section, and

(b) every power conferred on the Land Commission by any such enactment in relation or ancillary to the compulsory acquisition of land under a superseded procedure shall be exercisable by the Land Commission in relation or as ancillary to the compulsory acquisition of land under the procedure laid down in this section.

This is a drafting amendment, and its object is to make the section clear. The object is to make clear that the new procedure for compulsory acquisition is applicable only as from the date of the passing of the Act and does not apply to proceedings before the passing of the Act.

Amendment No. 44 agreed to.
Section 25, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 26.
References in the Land Purchase Acts to the relief of congestion shall be construed as including the provision of land for a person who, by reason of the acquisition by the Land Commission of land on which he was employed for wages, has lost his employment on such land, and the powers in relation to the relief of congestion vested in the Land Commission under the Land Purchase Acts shall be and are hereby extended accordingly.

I move amendment No. 45:—

Before Section 26, page 13, to insert a new section as follows:—

(1) Whenever an objection to a provisional list published (whether before or after the passing of this Act) in pursuance of Section 40 of the Land Act, 1923, or this Act is heard and determined after the passing of this Act by the lay commissioners (other than the members of the Appeal Tribunal), it shall be lawful for such lay commissioners, if they so think proper and whether they allow or disallow such objection, to direct that the Land Commission shall pay to the person making such objection such sum, by way of compensation for the expense incurred by him in relation to such objection, as such lay commissioners shall, in their absolute discretion, fix in that behalf.

(2) Every sum which is directed by the lay commissioners (other than the members of the Appeal Tribunal) under this section to be paid by the Land Commission to any person shall be paid in accordance with such direction as part of the expenses of the Land Commission.

This is a new section completely. It is giving the Land Commission power to recoup expenses of certain people from whom they attempted to take land and whose objection is upheld by the lay commissioners. If the occupier of land fails against the lay commissioners and goes to the Appeal Tribunal, the Appeal Tribunal have power to give him his expenses. The lay commissioners have not that power, and I feel that it is only right that, if the Land Commission puts a man to the expense of serving him with notice that they are going to acquire his land and, if he proves to their satisfaction that he is working his land properly or that, through various pertinent circumstances, his land should not be acquired, he should be recouped to some extent at least. That is what this is designed to cover.

Does this only apply to a case where the objector succeeds?

It applies whether he wins or loses.

In either case?

Amendment No. 45 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 46:—

In line 30, to delete the words "for wages."

This is only taking out the words "for wages" in order to make it clear that the Land Commission have power to take into consideration the ordinary grazing rights that are sometimes given to herds.

Amendment No. 46 agreed to.
Section 26, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 27.
Question proposed: "That Section 27 stand part of the Bill."

This section, Sir, is objectionable from some points of view. Hitherto, if there were a herd and his wife, the cases could be treated differently, but now it appears to me that, under this section, there might be severe hardships. I know of cases where a woman held a farm in her own right, and where the husband carried on the farm, let us say, not in a very good way. Let us say that the husband was a drunkard or otherwise incompetent, and the woman's farm—the wife's farm, in other words—turns out to be the sole support of the family. I know of such cases, and I am sure that many of us know of such cases. There would be similar cases due to other causes, such as the separation of husband and wife, for whatever reason it might be. The husband might be living away somewhere else and the Land Commission might conceive it right to take up portion of his land. The effect of this section would be to bring his wife's land under the same category as his.

In other words, her property would be included with his, and she would not get whatever benefits she would be entitled to under the 1933 Act—benefits of exemption and so forth. I think that the separate entity of ownership should be allowed still to exist, and that the wife's land should not be made a portion of the husband's estate. I do not know to what extent this may or may not operate, but I feel sure that there would certainly be a good many cases in which, if this section were put into effect, it would operate to the detriment of the wife and perhaps of the family.

The section, as drafted, will certainly impose a hardship in certain cases. As Deputy Bennett pointed out, in the case where a man and his wife are living apart, it seems unfair to regard husband and wife as one for the purpose of the acquisition of their land. That is one case, but there may be another case where the husband and the wife own two separate holdings and where the holding held by the wife will pass on to some member of her family; or, for instance, there may be cases where there might be a mortgage on the husband's farm, and where the farmer might be a spendthrift and the household has to depend entirely on whatever income is derived from the wife's holding. There are many other examples that could be cited, and it does seem to me that this section will operate unfairly in certain cases such as have been instanced. I realise, of course, that the Minister's problem is to relieve congestion as much as he possibly can, and I also realise that, with that end in view, he must obtain as much land as possible, but in the process of acquiring land for the purpose of the relief of congestion, it is not his desire, I am sure, to inflict hardship unnecessarily, and it is quite conceivable that serious hardships will be inflicted in certain cases. Take the case of a husband and wife who are living apart. They may be jointly responsible for the upkeep of the family, if there is a family, or one or other of them may undertake the responsibility of looking after that family; but no matter how it is, it seems to me that that is a case which merits special consideration and which should not be dealt with in the ordinary rigid way as outlined in this section. In the case of a husband who is a spendthrift, who probably has mortgaged his entire holding so that to-day it is practically valueless, and the family has to be maintained out of the income derived from the wife's holding, it seems unfair to group the holdings together for the purpose of land acquisition. They should be dealt with as separate entities, and the special circumstances applying to each should be taken into consideration.

There are further cases which one could enumerate in which there are special circumstances, and these should be taken into consideration by the lay commissioners when considering the acquisition of this land. I suggest to the Minister that the section should be amended with the object of allowing the lay commissioners to give special consideration to the type of cases I have mentioned, because I think that if the section is allowed to remain as it is, it will bind the lay commissioners to give a rigid interpretation to the law in relation to land acquisition, and it will not be in their power to make exceptions in the cases I have mentioned.

In fact, this is a mere drafting amendment of a section which was included in the 1933 Act. We want to make clear that we intend to take into consideration the joint value of the lands held either by a husband or wife, whether they hold them separately or jointly. This is not a section to compel the Land Commission to take all lands over £2,000 market value. It is a section which gives the tenant the right to object to the acquisition of lands below £2,000. The Land Commission have a certain amount of discretion as to what lands they are going to take, and, if there is some temporary family difficulty, they will probably pass up that particular piece of land for the time and follow some other land. If the wife is living away from the husband, they are two separate holdings.

It is not so stated, either in the 1933 Act or this section.

There is one sure thing anyway—we cannot put into an Act of Parliament everything that is in the discretion of the Land Commission.

You could introduce the words "where fair and just and equitable" or some words to that effect which would give the lay commissioners a wider discretion than they have at the moment.

I think those words are to be assumed in every section in which the commissioners are given powers. They have to be satisfied that it is fair and just, and I think there is no necessity to put in an amendment to meet the very exceptional case which the Deputy quotes.

With all due respect to the Minister, I think there is a very urgent necessity to put in words of that kind. The lay commissioners have absolute power in the acquisition of land. The certificate of the lay commissioners can take land from any person in this country at the moment and their power is now being extended. It was always absolute under the Act of 1933, and, under this Bill, they are given additional powers, so that they actually have absolute authority in the acquisition of land. If the certificate of the lay commissioners that land is required for the relief of congestion is issued, it goes, and there is no appeal except on questions of law or value. There is no appeal to an appeal tribunal; there is no appeal to the Judicial Commissioner; and there is no appeal to the Supreme Court. The lay commissioners have absolute power to say that this land is required for the relief of congestion. There is nothing in the Bill to say that in a case where a husband and wife are living apart, the land held by each will be regarded as a separate holding. It is neither in the 1933 Act nor in this Bill. There is nothing in any Land Act which says so. It is a matter entirely for the discretion of the commissioners and if they, in their discretion, say that it is required, no matter what the circumstances may be, the land is automatically taken for the relief of congestion.

Surely when the Minister has given the lay commissioners such absolute power, it is necessary that the words "fair and just and equitable" or some other words which will give them a wider discretion than they have at the moment, should be introduced into this section. If the Minister is going to give his commissioners absolute power, without any right of appeal whatever, so far as the acquisition of land is concerned, it seems to me that the relevant sections in this Bill should be framed in such a fashion as to give them the widest possible discretion for the purpose of ensuring that absolute fair play is meted out to the owners of this land. I am satisfied that the commissioners will act as fairly as their knowledge of the circumstances will enable them, but you must visualise the position of the commissioners. After all, they are working in offices here in Dublin. Probably they do not visit the country very often, and some of them may not know or understand the circumstances in the country very well. They have to depend entirely on reports they get from their inspectors. An inspector in County Galway is engaged in the putting into operation of a big scheme of land division in a particular townland in which there happens to be a good deal of congestion. There is a large holding of land, let us say, in the centre of that townland which interferes with him, or rather denies him the right of making a perfect job of that problem of congestion on which he is engaged; and that inspector will naturally be very anxious to acquire this particular holding of land. In his desire to find the perfect solution for the problem of congestion on which he is engaged, he may overstep the bounds of fair play in order to influence the commissioners to acquire this holding.

If there was a right of appeal from the lay commissioners, I would be almost satisfied to let the section go as it is worded, but as they are the final authority, so far as land acquisition is concerned, I think this section should be amended so as to provide that special circumstances shall be taken into consideration in their determination of whether or not land is to be acquired for the relief of congestion. The Minister, in his Land Act of 1933, took away the right of appeal which owners of land had to a higher tribunal, and when the lay commissioners say that land must be acquired for the relief of congestion the owner has no redress whatever, except on a question of price and if a question of law should arise. I am sure these men will act according to their conscience as fairly, justly and equitably as they possibly can in every case; nevertheless all of them are not intimately acquainted with circumstances down the country, and for that reason owners of land should be protected in our legislation, in so far as it is possible to protect them. I submit that there is no such protection for owners of land in this section, and I submit, further, that it is the duty of the Minister to see that they are properly protected in whatever legislation is passed through this House.

All I have to say is that the principle of the acquisition of land does not belong to this section. It is a mere minor matter as to whether husband and wife are to be taken as one owner, or to be taken as two owners, if they want to get round the law. If they are judicially separated, I think the Land Commissioners would have to recognise that there were two holdings. If it was a separation of convenience, a separation to get round the law in regard to this matter, or to stop land being taken which the Land Commission considers should be acquired for the relief of congestion, I do not think that separation should be recognised, and I do not think there is any hardship about that.

I agree with the Minister to this extent, that this is not the section to consider whether the lay commissioners should be given wider discretion than the law enables them to exercise at present. Nevertheless, it is possible for the Minister to amend this Bill in such a fashion on the Report Stage as to give the Commissioners that wider discretion and authority. The case was made by speakers from these benches that the three F's have gone by the board. Security of tenure is practically gone. It went under the Act of 1933, and this Bill is putting the finishing touches on it. Surely under these circumstances the Minister will agree that the owners of land are entitled to get whatever security legislation can offer them. Every citizen of this State is entitled to protection. Certainly owners of land are entitled to a certain amount of protection in whatever land legislation is passed through the Dáil. On the one side the Commissioners are given absolute power to acquire land for the relief of congestion, without any right of appeal, and, on the other hand, power is being taken in the Bill to acquire land of any class or condition anywhere to enable the Commissioners to relieve congestion. There are special circumstances relating to every farm and to every individual owner of land. As it is framed, the Bill does not take into consideration the special circumstances which apply to individual holdings. In view of the fact that the Commissioners are given absolute power and that power is also being taken to acquire any sort of land anywhere in the State, the Minister should introduce into the Bill as many safeguards as possible for the owners of land. In the exercise of the absolute right that the lay commissioners enjoy every factor should be taken into consideration that is in any way relevant to the holding. It is all very well for the Minister to say that in the case of a husband and wife living apart, and owning two separate holdings, the Commissioners will not take a holding from either party. But that is not in the Bill. The Commissioners have absolute power to take these holdings now. There is nothing in the Bill which obliges the Commissioners to take any special facts into consideration in cases of that kind. Again, in a case of a husband holding a farm of land, which is mortgaged to such an extent as to render it valueless, where the wife holds another farm, out of which the family is maintained there is nothing in the Bill to compel the Commissioners to give special consideration to the circumstances in that type of case. I could quote a number of other instances, but these two are quite sufficient to emphasise the need for some other form of words to be introduced into this section to safeguard the rights of owners of land.

Question put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 44; Níl, 30.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach Cormac.
  • Coneannon, Helena.
  • Corkery, Daniel.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Everett, James.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Keely, Séamus P.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Kissane, Eamon.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Moore, Séamus
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • Murphy, Timothy Joseph.
  • O Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pattison, James P.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Sheridan, Michael
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.

Níl

  • Anthony, Richard.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Bourke, Séamus.
  • Broderick, William Joseph.
  • Burke, James Michael.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Daly, Patrick.
  • Desmond, William.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Holohan, Richard.
  • Keating, John.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • McGuire, James Ivan.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, James Edward.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • O'Donovan, Timothy Joseph.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Sullivan, Gearóid.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Rice, Vincent.
  • Roddy, Martin.
  • Wall, Nicholas.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Smith and T. Crowley; Níl: Deputies Doyle and Bennett.
Question declared carried.
Section ordered to stand part of the Bill.
SECTION 28.
Question proposed: "That Section 28 stand part of the Bill."

I do not quite understand this section. Perhaps the Minister will explain what it means.

It is a legal clause to make clear what was the obvious intention in the Act of 1933. That is that when land is declared, under Section 32 of the Act of 1933, it should vest in the Land Commission on the appointed day. The section also legalises the action taken in certain cases that were dealt with prior to the decision of the Appeal Tribunal, which held that in the absence of a specific vesting clause from the provisions of Section 32 of the Land Act of 1933, the land did not so vest. It is to make clear that when the Land Commission declare land under Section 32 of the Act of 1933, it shall vest in the Land Commission.

I do not quite understand the section even yet. It seems to me that the Minister has got all the authority and legislation he requires for this particular purpose already. Why introduce this section unless it is intended to set aside a court decision or to anticipate a court decision? Is it intended to upset a court decision?

It is intended to make clear what the intention was in 1933.

What was the intention?

That when the Commissioners declare land under Section 32 of the Act of 1933, it shall automatically vest in the Land Commission. The Appeal Tribunal held that in the absence of a specific provision to that effect it did not vest.

In my opinion, this is the most vicious section in the Bill, because it cuts across the entire principle which governed land purchase in this country. That was, to bring about finality in land settlement. This section cuts directly across that. The whole land agitation in this country was carried on for the purpose of securing finality in land settlement. The Land Act of 1933 was practically the final step in that regard. This section is put into the Bill to cut across and nullify the whole policy and the principles running through the Land Purchase Acts since the Ashbourne Act. Is this House prepared to accept that principle? There is nothing on the face of the section to indicate what it means, but that is what it is going to do. Is there going to be no end to the problem of land settlement and land purchase in this country? This section brings us back to the state of affairs which existed before land purchase was commenced in this country at all. The Land Commission are taking the same powers as the landlords had. That means that there will be no question of finality in land settlement, that it will go on for ever. The section looks quite innocuous on the face of it, but that is definitely the meaning of it. A case was brought before the courts and it was decided that land which was vested under the Act of 1923 could not be acquired by the Land Commission. That provision was deliberately inserted in the Act of 1923 by the late Deputy Hogan for the purpose of bringing about finality in the question of land settlement. That is what everybody has been looking forward to for the last 60 years in this country.

That was the origin of the agrarian trouble. Land reform was based on that condition of things. Step by step, we were proceeding until some day we should reach finality. Here, we are cutting across the whole principle. Does this House believe in finality in land settlement or does it not? Are Deputies who, in the main, are the sons of farmers and the grandsons of the men who fought for this reform and won it, going to allow this principle to be cut across? This is a vicious section—the most vicious section in the Bill. I want to know if the House is prepared to stand by it.

Perhaps the Minister would give us some further particulars regarding this case. There is a rather serious principle involved in the decision to insert this clause in the Bill. If, as appears, a man went into court, made his case and satisfied the court that he had certain rights, the Minister ought to tell us why it is proposed to annual the decision of the court. That is not a thing a Parliament should be called upon to do. In the normal course, if a mistake be made in the drafting of an Act of Parliament and that mistake is discovered by reason of action taken in the courts, the law would be put right but not so as to affect the rights vindicated in court in the case of the individual in question. I do not know the individual who brought this appeal nor do I know the part of the country from which he comes. But are we going to lay down a principle that a man who goes into court against the State, or an institution of the State, does so at his peril? That is to say, if he wins his action against the State or an institution of the State, legislation will be introduced to prevent the decision of the court being carried into effect. If that be the position, then the principle is a bad one and, I think, the Minister will recognise that that is so. If the situation is that something is merely being made right which was neglected in the last measure, then it is a different question. At any rate, the individual who asserted his rights in court has some title to consideration. If my information is correct, a person may succeed in a case against the Land Commission and may not get his costs. That does not appear to be just to the individual and the citizen has certain rights which ought not be absorbed by the State. The main question here is: is this an indication of a principle that is to be accepted, that a citizen who goes into court against the State, or a Department of State, does so at his peril and, if he succeeds, that steps will be taken to deprive him of the fruits of that decision?

The Minister ought to tell us if the question at issue in this case was one of material consequence to the individual. If the matter was merely one which had been forgotten and which is now being made right, we ought to be told that. We are entitled to know also if other cases are pending. There is a strong suspicion that this measure will have successors and, if a citizen should succeed in asserting his rights against the Land Commission, we may expect further Acts to give the Land Commission almost absolute power in con nection with the acquisition and distribution of land.

I do not know how far Deputy Cosgrave would go in claiming that if a court decides that an Act of Parliament means a certain thing, that court decision should bind the Legislature not to bring in legislation to amend what it regards as a defective law. No power is taken in this section or in any other section of the Bill to annul a court decision. The court has the duty of interpreting the law as it is found in an Act of Parliament. That decision must not be held to be a legislative act binding on the Legislature and on all persons for ever. If the Legislature find, after the giving of a court decision, that the law is not what they desire it to be, they have a right to introduce legislation to give effect to their intentions. That is exactly what we are doing.

In a particular case, the Appeal Tribunal held that land acquired under Section 32 of the Act of 1933 did not vest in the Land Commission and that, therefore, the Land Commission could not vest it in other people. The intention of Section 32 will be fairly clear to everybody. Following the decision of the court, we are introducing this clause to provide that, for the future, land shall vest in the Land Commission under Section 32 of the Act of 1933. The person who was successful in this particular case was awarded his costs by the Appeal Tribunal. The Land Commission have paid his costs and that is the end of it. On examining the position, following the decision of the court, we decided to amend the law and to provide that what was intended to be done under the Act of 1933 should be made strictly legal.

Is it proposed to take this man's land now? He has gone before the Appeal Tribunal and he has succeeded there. According to the Minister, he has got his costs. Having obtained that decision, is not the decision of the court annulled if this clause, which has all the appearance of being retrospective, is retrospective?

The question of the acquisition and distribution of land is entirely for the Land Commission. I have not studied the matter at all but, from a purely layman's point of view, I can see a clear distinction between the functions of the judiciary and the functions of Parliament. I do not think that anybody who wants to strengthen the decisions of the courts would claim that a court decision interpreting the law should be given the power of a legislative act binding all persons for all time. The court is perfectly right in interpreting the law against the Executive or against a State Department, if in its judgment it thinks the law should be so interpreted. I do not think the courts would claim that, because they gave a decision in a certain way, Parliament was not entitled to pass legislation to do what it previously attempted to do and failed owing to the decision of the court.

The Minister cannot claim all the virtues on his side with regard to that. What it really amounts to is that when a court gives a decision which is repugnant to or against the wishes or the desires of the Executive, the Executive retorts by altering the law. What is that but annulment of the court's decision? In this particular case I asked for an explanation of the circumstances of the person concerned. This section is drafted for the purpose of getting land, which the law has already decided it would not allow the Land Commission to take. A man has certain rights. He asserts these rights and now you say "very good, you assert them at your peril." When the citizen seeks the protection of the law he runs the risk first of having a judicial decision against him and in favour of the Land Commission. In the second place, if he gets a decision in his favour he runs the risk of having an Act of Parliament passed to take from him the rights he successfully asserted. It is important that we should have the law laid down properly in regard to this matter. How many cases are pending in which citizens have taken the necessary steps to secure their rights against State Departments? These rights are now interfered with. Why deprive a citizen of the right he asserted successfully in the court?

In Section 32 of the Land Act of 1933 the Land Commission sought powers to acquire certain lands for distribution. I think they were perfectly entitled to do so. The Legislature debated the thing at length and decided that it was right that these powers should be enshrined in an Act of Parliament. When the Appeal Tribunal came to consider the words of the Act of Parliament it decided that they were defective and that, as a matter of fact, the Land Commission could not proceed under that section to acquire land, because under that section it had not the power it claimed it had. Following that decision, the activities of the Land Commission to acquire land under the section were completely held up. That case decided the law as it then stood and it was binding against the Land Commission. It was binding to the extent that it prevented the Land Commission from providing land under that section in any other case where they thought they should proceed. But though that decision is binding on the Land Commission it cannot be held to bind the hands of the Legislature for all time. It is a judicial decision interpreting an Act of Parliament. Surely the Legislature is entitled to carry out its original intentions and introduce an Act of Parliament to set matters right. Deputy Cosgrave said he hoped we were not claiming all the virtues on this side. I should be very slow to claim that all the virtues are on this side. Now, with regard to retrospective legislation, I have a list of only a few Land Acts in which sections were brought in deliberately to amend the law so as to provide against certain defects which were found by the courts in the Acts. The Legislature thought these Acts should be amended. Section 3 (1) of the Land Act of 1929 is a section which in fact is retrospective. It was to amend the law in view of a judicial decision.

Did it affect a particular case?

It affected a number of cases because a decision was given in a number of cases.

Did it amount to an annulment of the court's decision?

It was as much an annulment of the court's decision as this section is.

That is not the question.

If the Deputy claims that this section is an annulment of the court's decision, so is 3 (1) of the Land Act, 1929. I claim that neither is.

That is not the question, but did it give rights to a State Department against an individual?

It did. The Land Act of 1923 spoke of fisheries appertaining to the land. The court interpreted this expression in a case that came before it. I think it was probably Deputy Roddy in 1929 who said that they intended something different from what the courts interpreted as meaning something else, and they introduced Section 3 (1) of the Land Act of 1929 to make sure that what was intended to be done under the Act of 1923 should be the law of the land. That was done in face of a judicial decision. They introduced that section for the purpose. That section, as I say, was brought in in the face of a judicial decision. Section 45 of the Act of 1923 is another section that was introduced, in view, as was explained at the time, of a judicial decision. Section 7 (5) of the Land Act of 1927 was introduced in view of a judicial decision, and Section 44 (6) of the Land Act of 1931 was also introduced in view of a judicial decision. Then there was Section 30 of the Land Act of 1927, introduced for a similar reason. I do not mind a certain amount of opposition to a section such as this, but Deputies opposite should not go so far as to confuse the relationship between the judiciary, the Executive and the Legislature. I am as strong as anybody on the opposite side in stating that the judiciary should be free to arrive at decisions and that they should be independent. I think the courts and the judges would not thank any Deputy here for making for the judiciary claims that are altogether untenable.

The Minister has drawn my attention to Section 3 (1) of the Act of 1929. While the first section appears different, to some extent, without examination I am accepting what the Minister says. But that section has some relation to the present cases. Section 3 (3) of the same Act says: "If, on the determination of any such question as is mentioned in the foregoing sub-section"—that is fishery or fishing rights—"it appears to the Land Commissioners or, on appeal to him, to the Judicial Commissioner, that the fishery or fishery rights to which such question relates has vested in the Land Commission but that it is not equitable or is not advisable that such fishery or fishing rights should be so vested, it shall be lawful for the Land Commissioners or, on appeal to him, the Judicial Commissioner, to declare that such fishery or fishing right has not vested in the Land Commission." And so on. There is no such provision in this.

That is in the Act already.

Not at all. Here was a question where justice, equity and fairness arose. No such question arises in the case of this section. There is no equity, for as soon as the Land Commission issues a certificate there is no more about it.

If this section were only a question of annulment of a judicial finding I should be opposed to it. We were assured in the Land Bill of 1933 that, drastic and all as it was, the powers given in that Bill would not be exercised to the full. We were told there was no occasion for our fears, but we fought the Bill pretty desperately to give some right of appeal to the courts. We only got it in a very limited way. Only in a few matters was there a possibility of any landholder appealing to the courts. This was one of them, and he succeeded in breaking what they thought was a cast-iron position to deprive people of their lands. The man who fought his case in the courts deserves the fruits of his endeavours. I for one am not going to be a party to seeing the verdict he got upset.

Landholders were left very little rights from the 1933 period. If we are to accept lying down that a court decision can be upset, if there is any provision left in this Bill that gives any landholder any right to go into court on any question of fact, of law or otherwise—and there will not be many opportunities left—no man will go into court, because it would be useless, as a few days afterwards an amending Bill to upset the verdict given will be introduced. That is the principle we are adopting if we upset this. There ought to be some protection, some last appeal left to landholders, but this wipes them all out. It is useless for any individual to appeal to the courts when he knows that if he wins his case a new amending Bill will be brought in to deprive him of the fruits of his victory.

The Minister quoted Section 44 of the Land Act, 1931. Sub-section (5) of Section 44 says:

Section 11 of the Land Act, 1927, is hereby repealed without prejudice to the continuance, completion and validity of proceedings under that section which are pending at the passing of this Act.

I wonder is it a fair presentation of the case to say that this shall be deemed to have vested, under Section 24 of the Land Act, 1923, in the Land Commission on the appointed day? This is a setting aside of the law— making it retrospective. It is the fundamental right of the citizen to take the law as he finds it on any given date. He is obliged to perform the duties laid down under the law, but he is also entitled to the rights prescribed for the citizen under the law. Under this the citizen has no rights, but he has duties. The Government comes to the Dáil with a measure not only changing the law from the date of the passing of the Act, but making it retrospective. That is a wrong principle. I have said repeatedly in this House that even if it were done thousands of times before I disapprove of it. In this case the proceedings were permitted to continue to completion.

I should like to emphasise what Deputy Bennett said, that this is being introduced because the Land Commission were defeated in a certain case in the courts. They introduced this Bill to declare that the law was not what the courts decided it was at that date and upon which the citizen went into court and succeeded. We are taking away, as from the date he got that decision, the rights he obtained under the law. He took legal advice and went into court and succeeded, and we have taken away that right. Nobody inside or outside this House could defend that principle. No greater form of Bolshevism or nothing more abhorrent than that could be imagined. I have no objection to legislating from the passing of the Act, but every citizen, whether rich or poor, has the right to take the law as it exists on a particular date. He has to obey the law and he has duties under the law, but certain rights are given to him under the law and he is entitled to have them. This section is taking them away. I do not mind legislating from the passing of the Act, because from that date we will know the law, and if anyone violates it he can suffer the consequences. Here we are taking away rights which people had.

It does not matter what the House intended to do under the 1933 Act. The question is what this House did under the 1933 Act. When the House enacted that Act the public were entitled to take it as being what this House did, not what this House intended to do. That is the constitutional right of the citizen. Nothing could be more obnoxious and abhorrent than this principle of retrospective legislation on an important question, preventing the citizen from getting his rights under the law as it existed at a specific date. The citizen has to discharge his duties to the Land Commission or any other Department of State under any law passed by this House. He has to pay income-tax, he has to pay land annuities and he has to pay rates. But if there is some weakness or defect in the law, so that in his opinion he is not bound to pay and he gets a verdict in the courts, then this House comes along and says: "At that date you had not that right." As Deputy Dillon pointed out yesterday, this Bill strikes at the root of fixity of tenure. Let there be no mistake about that. This section goes further and takes away a right that existed under the law at a given date. That is wrong. This House has no right to do that, and it will react upon this House and upon the country.

Since this man won his case against the Land Commission a lot of people who held land under similar terms felt that they were secure and that the Land Commission could not enter upon their land. A lot of people bought land held on these terms and land held in that way went up in value in the market. Now, when this section is passed, the value of that land is gone and people do not know where they are. If the local Fianna Fáil club have their eyes on certain land, all they have to do is to tell the Minister for Lands and another Land Bill will be passed to put people out of their land. Under this Bill nobody is secure in his holding, and the land will be of no value whatever. As I say, a lot of people bought land held in this way because they felt that they were secure and could not be touched. This section does away with all that security. No matter what the Minister or anybody else says, it means that nobody is secure in his holding any more.

Has the Minister nothing to say about this? Is there nobody on the benches opposite to get up and denounce this business? I see Deputy Mrs. Concannon there. She comes from County Derry. I should like to remind the House that the first rights won for the tenant holders of this country were won by the Presbyterian farmers of Ulster—the three F's.

Deputy Mrs. Concannon's ancestors, like my own, took part in that struggle with their Presbyterian neighbours. That was looked upon as a great triumph for the farmers of this country. Is Deputy Mrs. Concannon going to vote for this section? I have a number of colleagues from my own county of Donegal here. One of them was born and lives on what was formerly the Leitrim estate. I wonder is he going to vote for this section? Is he going to forget all the sacrifices that were made by the poor tenantry on that estate to get fixity of tenure? Apparently, Deputies come in here and think that they have no responsibility to the people who elected them. Not only are they prepared to betray the electors who sent them here, but they are prepared to betray their ancestors as well. Again, I denounce this section with all the force at my command.

Question put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 45; Níl, 30.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Beegan, Patrick
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Corkery, Daniel.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Everett, James.
  • Flynn, John.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • Murphy, Timothy Joseph.
  • O Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Keely, Séamus P.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Kissane, Eamon.
  • Pattison, James P.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.

Níl

  • Alton, Ernest Henry.
  • Anthony, Richard.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Bourke, Séamus.
  • Broderick, William Joseph.
  • Burke, James Michael.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Daly, Patrick.
  • Desmond, William.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Holohan, Richard.
  • Keating, John.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, James Edward.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • O'Donovan, Timothy Joseph.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Redmond, Bridget Mary.
  • Rice, Vincent.
  • Roddy, Martin.
  • Wall, Nicholas.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Smith and Beegan; Níl: Deputies Doyle and Bennett.
Question declared carried.
SECTION 29.

Amendment No. 47 seems to be a direct negative.

Amendment No. 47 not moved.
Question proposed: "That Section 29 stand part of the Bill."

On Section 29, under the Land Act of 1933, the Land Commission were empowered to enter into possession of land in respect of which a resumption order had been made, notwithstanding that the price of the land had not been fixed. That was the position when the Land Commission considered that the land was required for immediate distribution. It is now proposed to go a stage further, and to take possession of the land even at an earlier period for the purpose of carrying out improvements. Probably by the time we get to the next amending Bill, the Minister will take power to enable the Land Commission to take possession immediately on the issue of the certificate by the lay commissioner.

I wonder how far the Minister intends to go in connection with this type of legislation. Under these proposals it may be that the owner will have to wait two or three years before the price is fixed. It is an unheard-of procedure to take possession of land and distribute it before the price is even provisionally fixed. It is imposing a serious hardship on the owner. I assume he will not be entitled to draw interest on the bonds until the price is actually known. The price has to be fixed before he can get interest on the bonds. It may be a year or two after the Land Commission have taken possession before the price is fixed, and only then is he entitled to get interest, which will run as from the date on which possession was taken. He is left in the position that he has only one source of income, namely, the interest on the land bonds. If he had possession of the land up to the time the price was fixed, he would be able to derive some income; but he is debarred from deriving any such benefit from the land because the Land Commission take possession of it even before the price is fixed.

The Minister has power under the 1933 Act to take possession of land for the purpose of distribution. He is going a further stage here, and he is taking possession earlier so as to enable the Land Commission to carry out improvements. Where will the Land Commission stop in legislation of that kind? A private individual selling land in the open market gets a percentage of the price before he hands over possession. In ordinary business no person hands over possession of an article until he knows the price and has a substantial portion of it. The Land Commission is proceeding in a way that is outside the pale of commercial transactions. The tendency in the Land Commission is to proceed further and further in this direction.

This section is open to very great objection on the score that the rights of the owners of land are not respected. This is on a par with the legislation that was enacted in 1933. The owners' rights are not respected at all. The lay commissioners are given absolute power to acquire land for the relief of congestion, and within the scope of this Bill every type and condition of land is bought. While the Minister is anxious to give the lay commissioners the widest power, he has not taken into consideration the interests of the owners of land. On a previous section I suggested that the Minister should introduce the words "just, fair and equitable" in order to safeguard the rights of owners of land, but he refused to do that. The whole trend of his legislation is to ignore completely the rights of owners.

This section imposes a severe hardship on the owners, and I do not think the Land Commission or any other Government Department have the right to enter into possession of land without letting the owner know beforehand what price they are prepared to pay. The Board of Works will not take possession of land until the price is actually fixed. The Department of Education and other Departments would not dream of taking possession of land until the price is agreed upon. The Land Commission is the solitary Government Department in this country with authority to enter into occupation of land and actually distribute that land before the owner knows the price. It is an astounding procedure.

Deputy Roddy is altogether out in his objections to this particular section. I did not want to raise a point of order; I did not want to interfere with the Deputy's liberty to range over even the principles already agreed on in the 1933 Act and previous Acts, which we have debated pretty widely. I merely want to correct the Deputy when he says that when the Land Commission enter into possession of lands without the price being definitely fixed the owner is suffering under a grave disability. This section is amending Section 30 of the Land Act of 1933. Sub-section (5) of Section 30 of that Act sets out:—

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

In Section 30 of the 1933 Act we took power to fix a provisional price. Deputy Roddy knows perfectly well that, in the operations of the Land Commission, without that section the Land Commission might be held up for five or ten years in acquiring land and finding out who, in fact, is the legal owner. In 1933 we attempted to take lands more quickly, to fix a provisional price, and to pay interest on that provisional price to the apparent owner. The apparent owner is not always the real owner, and it is a long legal wrangle to find out who, in fact, has a complete legal title to the land. I think that was a considerably reasonable section, and it has helped the Land Commission to speed up land division. There is one slight flaw in it. We are entitled to fix a provisional price and go in on the lands for immediate distribution. But Deputy Roddy knows perfectly well that one of the things involved in immediate distribution is to put the lands into a state in which they can be distributed. We are taking power under this clause to provide that the Land Commission can go in, where a provisional price has been fixed, for the purpose of carrying out improvements to roads, drains and fences, and to construct or repair houses. That might really be held to be covered by the Act of 1933, but we are making it perfectly clear that it is the intention of the Act of 1933 to allow the Land Commission to go in to carry on those works when they acquire the land under Section 30 of the 1933 Act.

Does not the Minister think that it is some hardship, if the Land Commission decides to acquire the homestead of a farmer in this country, that that man should have to wait upwards of two years before he gets the price of the land that has been taken from him? What is the man to live on during the intervening period between the date of the fixation of the provisional price and the date of determination of the actual price, when bonds are issued to him? It is true that he may get interest as from the date of entry, but is that interest made available to him immediately? Is he free to draw that as it falls due, or is it held back until the final price is determined?

Then he is entitled to draw the interest on the provisional price. But, as the Minister knows, there is a right of appeal in the matter of price. The final price may be substantially in excess of what the Land Commission first offered, and the interest payable would be proportionately higher. It is quite an illusion to imagine that every person whose land is acquired by the Land Commission under their compulsory powers gets from the Land Commission a capital sum which, invested in gilt-edged securities, will produce an income anything like the income he enjoyed from the land that has been taken from him. It is a matter of very great inconvenience indeed to a landowner in this country if he is put out of his holding. He must get lodgings somewhere. He must provide accommodation for his family. All that costs money. If, while that additional expense is being put upon his shoulders, his income is materially reduced, as a result of the intrusion of the Land Commission upon his property, that man may suffer very serious hardship. All through the land code it has been difficult to reconcile the rights of the landholders with the interests of the congests or landless men. It becomes a matter of applying to this problem not the strict letter of distributive justice, but common sense, and, while we may have to face the fact that we cannot avoid inflicting a certain inconvenience on anybody whose land is compulsorily acquired, we should try to mitigate that inconvenience in so far as we can.

What we object to here is that the Minister now proposes substantially to extend the period between the date when a landowner must leave his homestead and the date when he may expect to receive a final settlement of his claim against the Land Commission. It is a matter of comparative inconvenience. We have a precedent in the Rent Restriction Act, where the court is frequently called upon to decide in the course of an action who will suffer the greater inconvenience—the landlord or the tenant. If the tenant can prove that the inconvenience he will suffer by being removed from his house is far greater than that which the Land Commission will suffer if he is allowed to remain, the law requires the court to preserve the tenant in his tenancy even if the landlord is going to suffer some inconvenience. Here I submit that, by increasing the period of uncertainty which the landholder must endure after the compulsory acquisition of his land, he is called upon to suffer an inconvenience out of all proportion to the inconvenience that congests or other eligible persons would suffer by being delayed for another six or seven months from entering on their new holdings. Remember, the new period of waiting which it is proposed to provide for under this section is the period during which the Land Commission would be carrying out improvements preparatory to sub-division. I submit to the Minister that this is a case where the Land Commission want to sweep obstacles out of their way, and in excessive enthusiasm for expedition in their business they will create suffering which is quite unnecessary, and which, on the balance, cannot be justified. It is a very great mistake to be too radical. I can see that, in a very small number of cases, inconvenience may have been caused to the Commission in the ordinary working of their business by this necessity of forbearing to enter for the purpose of improvements until the price has been ascertained, but I suggest to the Minister that the inconvenience which he is going to cause by the new departure is out of all proportion to any advantage that will accrue to the Commission.

Question:—"That Section 29 stand part of the Bill"—put and declared carried.
Section 30 agreed to.
SECTION 31.

I move amendment No. 48:—

To add the following words at the end of the section:—

"provided that where a person has been in occupation of such holding for three years or upwards such holding shall vest in such person."

This section seems to apply to lands held by the Land Commission in congested districts, and proposes to give the Minister certain powers over the vesting of lands. The section is designed, to my mind, to prevent land from being vested in poor occupants who rented or leased it or were granted short grazing lettings by the Land Commission. In his explanation, I think the Minister said that there were certain rights given to those particular tenants, and I think he said it was rather too much to ask that this particular right of vesting should be given to them in addition. They were given the benefits of the revised payments, the Minister said, and, as such, the Land Commission objects to their getting anything further than these reduced payments. I undertook to put in an amendment which, as far as I could put it, provided that any such person who had been in occupation of a holding for three years or upwards would be vested. I think that where some poor person has been put into occupation of land, whether as a leaseholder or on terms of sale, he should be secured to a certain extent there, and it is to secure that object that I ask the House to accept this.

What is the object of this section? What restraint does the Land Commission intend to put on these occupiers? What rights do the Land Commission want to assert under this section? Certainly, if these people have acquired any rights against the Land Commission such as they might acquire against anybody else from whom they hold the land, I should like to hear from the Minister about the rights vested in the Land Commission, and I should like to hear from the Minister that the right of these people will not be compromised by the fact that the annuities are being halved.

I read the Minister's statment on the second Reading Stage of the Bill and, frankly, I still do not know what this section proposes to do. The Minister said that, where holdings were listed and where the Land Commission had certain rights over those holdings prior to listing, it did not seem to him that the tenants should hold certain benefits in regard to the rights which the Land Commission hitherto enjoyed. I do not understand that.

Perhaps the Deputy will allow me to explain?

It was not intended that, when the Land Commission listed the holdings of certain allottees in order to give them the benefit of paying off their interest and sinking fund, the allottees should have the same right as a person in whom the lands were vested. Up until the Act of 1931 the procedure was, not to vest the land in an allottee for a number of years, and certainly not to vest the lands on which they merely gave the tenant grazing rights. Now, the withholding of vesting meant that the allottee was not getting any nearer the paying off of his holding, that he was not paying off his sinking fund; and a procedure was arrived at whereby, if the Land Commission were satisfied, after a number of years, that the allottee to whom they gave the land was working his land properly and was paying up, he should have the benefit of having paid off something of the total purchase price by way of sinking fund. It is really a technical difference between listing and vesting. The Land Commission wanted to give the benefits that go with listing to the tenant without giving him the rights that go with vesting, and we are anxious to hold the rights that the Land Commission have over the land until it is finally vested in the tenant. That is as well as I can explain the purpose of this section. I think it gives the Land Commission a power which they should have.

The Minister says that the object of this is to keep up the difference between listing and vesting. Now, I should like to put a question to the Minister. Let us suppose that the land is what he calls listed in a certain individual for three or four years and not vested. The individual has been paying off sinking fund during that period and then the land is vested in somebody else—some other individual, let us say. That individual is getting the benefit of the payments towards the sinking fund which the person to whom the land had been previously listed has made. Is not that the case? Otherwise, the Land Commission is being overpaid. Accordingly, it would certainly seem to me that, if the Land Commission want to draw this hard and fast rule between listing and vesting when they take up land from a man to whom the land has been listed and vest it in another man, the Land Commission ought to pay back the contributions towards sinking fund and so on that have been made during that period.

This section has got words that I hate. The words I refer to are: "shall not operate or ... shall not be deemed ever to have operated." In other words, it is one of these retrospective sections which are going perpetually through this Bill. I am not going to speak about the evils of retrospective legislation, Sir, because I have spoken about that matter so often on this Bill that I think the House generally knows what I want to say. I think that the House knows thoroughly what views I hold on retrospective legislation and I am not going to repeat them unnecessarily. I should like to know, however, why the Minister is putting, in this section, his bitter retrospective legislation and how this retrospective legislation is going to impinge on the rights of listed individuals. If persons, whom the Minister calls listed persons, have certain rights against the Land Commission and have been paying because they have those rights, are these rights now going to be taken away from them? If not, why are those words, which seem to me to be the most objectionable part of the Bill, inserted here?

Am I right in saying that up to the Land Act of 1931 a listed tenant paid annuities?

And that, up to that, the Land Commission was empowered to credit such person with such payments up to the time when he would be ultimately vested?

Well, then, that is clear. What I should like to understand, however, is this: What are the rights referred to in Section 31 which the Minister wants to avoid giving in connection with the benefits conferred by Sections 23 and 24 of the Land Act, 1931, coupled with Section 27 of that Act? Is it that he wants to be in a position to say: "If I do not want to list a man as a tenant, I can give him the grazing rights for which he pays the Land Commission a tenancy at £10 a year, and if I subsequently vest him as tenant of that farm, I do not want to give him any credit for the £10 a year he paid while he was merely grazing the farm." Is that the purpose of this, because, in the Minister's statement, he says:—

"It has been suggested that they were entitled to much more and that parties holding from the Land Commission under this agreement are practically in the same position as annuity payers. The Land Commission could not accept such an interpretation of the law and clause 31 had been inserted to make the position clear and to preserve the rights of the State."

Was it that people tried to suggest that an agreement to graze land in the possession of the Land Commission gave them the same rights over it as if they were a listed tenant of the holding?

No, but that would be the effect of the amendment put in by Deputy Roddy and Deputy McMenamin. They put in an amendment providing that where a man had even a grazing right for three years, he would have the same rights as a vested tenant, and that the Land Commission could not take up his holding. The Act of 1931 conferred additional benefits on the allottees, and we do not want the giving of the additional benefit to confer a legal right on the allottee to whom the benefit is given. We simply want to give the benefit gratuitously, but without giving the tenant the same right as a vested allottee.

Will the Minister say why the section is made retrospective?

Because there is a doubt as to whether it was right or not in the past.

In other words, people may have acquired rights which you want to take from them, or definitely have?

They may have acquired rights which it was not intended to give them in 1931.

If the Minister will look at line 19 of Section 31, he will see that it says that: "The inclusion shall not be deemed ever to have operated to deprive the Land Commission which, immediately before the publication of the list"—and that is such a list as is provided for in Sections 23 and 24 of the Act of 1931—"they had in relation to such holding under the agreement or letting under which it was then held." Section 31 envisages the allotting to an allottee of land, and what rights have the Land Commission in that land before listing which they desire to retain after the land has been allotted through publication in the list to an allottee? What are the rights which the Land Commission wish to preserve?

They are the landlords and they have full power over the land. The land is vested in them.

That is what I wanted to get at. That is what I understood to be the construction of the section, that the Land Commission are the landlords and want to preserve rights in the landlord. Take the analogous case. Since the passing of the Land Act, all the landlord was entitled to was the amount provided with regard to interest under the particular Land Act while the land was not vested. Certain rights still remained in it. What were those rights? Let us take a glance at them. In the first place, the land could not vest before it had been inspected. Engineers went over a given estate to see that there were the precise number of acres, roods and perches that the landlord returned as being there. For practical purposes, all his rights to the land had gone to the tenant. Until the Land Commission engineer had inspected the land, and compared it with the return of the landlord in respect of areas and the holdings on the estate, it could not vest. Of course, technically, the landlord still possessed some rights, because, unless all the land which he returned in his schedule was there, he could not get paid for it.

Is there anything else with regard to these lands which the Land Commission wish to retain? Is there any question of sporting or fishing rights? There are no other rights that one can imagine unless we take as an example the case of somebody who goes in to build a house on one of these listed holdings that are in possession of the Land Commission. I suppose that in that case the allottee who was listed would not have the right to apply for an injunction, and the Land Commission would probably have to apply for an injunction to restrain the trespasser from building on that land. One could imagine a case like that, but what arises in connection with these grazing rights? I do not think anything arises. There is a right in the case of a trespasser coming in to build, but that is very far-fetched. The Land Commission legally would be the only authority that could apply for an injunction in that case. I should like to know what it is they wish to retain with regard to grazing.

I want to submit to the Minister that, to say the least of it, he has been disingenuous. He says that it is to be borne in mind that in these lists appear the names of many persons who only got lettings of temporary convenience or grazing agreements, and that it is in order to clarify the position in regard to that that we want to assert explicitly that listing does not interfere with rights of the Land Commission in any land so listed, but does the House observe that this section not only preserves all the rights of the Land Commission in connection with those persons who got a letting of temporary convenience or grazing agreements over land, but it also establishes the Land Commission in full possession of all the rights it had before publication of the list in respect of every allottee, no matter what the nature of the allotment is? Apparently the Land Commission has got it into its head that a person listed under the 1931 Act acquires some kind of a tenant right, and that to resume a holding or to get him out of the land, a procedure similar to that required to deal with vested land would be necessary. Having got that into their heads, they introduce a section here, and the Minister tells us that this section is directed primarily at grazing agreements and lettings of temporary convenience. Let us furnish the Minister with an acid test: Is he prepared to restrict the effect of this section to grazing agreements and lettings of temporary convenience and to exclude from the operation of this section persons listed in the ordinary way as prospective vested tenant purchasers?

They are temporary agreements.

The Minister knows as well as I do that we who live in the country are accustomed to persons getting grazing rights and conveniences over land pending distribution. There must be some distinction. The Minister understands the distinction to which I refer. Frequently in the old days we used to have men in the country who were known as overseers for the Congested Districts Board who would be very often tenants at will of land that the board intended to divide some time later. I have no desire to give them any tenant rights. If you are dealing with persons who have nothing but a grazing agreement pending division, I have no desire to give them tenant right. I want to give the listed allottee any rights which the Land Commission believe he has in the existing state of the law, as settled by the Land Act of 1931. Is the Minister prepared to do that?

We are prepared to give all allottees the rights they acquired under the agreements which they signed when entering upon the land, and no more. If we conferred additional benefits upon them beyond what was in the agreement the additional benefits should not give additional rights. The Land Commission always withhold the vesting of an allottee until they are satisfied that he is a fit and proper person. There is a period of trial during which vesting was postponed on the question of a right of way or of entering upon land for certain purposes, or for taking building materials to neighbouring holdings. The Land Commission had these rights prior to vesting. After the land was vested in a tenant they had to secure his permission to go in. I think it is a good practice not to vest holdings for a certain number of years. No matter how well the Land Commission does the job they may make some mistake with regard to allottees, and we want to have power, so that they will not get land merely to re-sell or to let it go waste, to be able to eject them if necessary. We also want the other powers that the Land Commission retained in the agreement which allottees signed when entering on the land.

My purpose was really to give these poor people some right in the land. I am not quite sure that I have established it, or that the Minister agrees that they have any rights. It seems that the Land Commission are to be in the position of perpetual landlords over these unfortunate people. My desire was to extend to them, what has been conferred on other tenants, some of the real rights of ownership, because the instinct for ownership is one of the greatest things for the people. If they could be assured that they were actually vested in their holdings it would give them a measure of security. However, the Minister does not seem inclined to give way, and as vested rights in any land have deteriorated so much, and as there is a doubt as to whether there is any vested right in anything, it is not worth fighting over.

The Minister might say what were the views that arose in the lawyers' minds.

That listing conferred the same rights as vesting.

As far as my recollection goes these congested holdings under Section 23 of the Land Act of 1931 were in the same position as retained holdings under the Act of 1923.

Section 26 of the Act of 1931 provides that.

I thought that was so. Now the Minister is taking absolutely unlimited power, because a person may be obliged to pay for a considerable time and then have to start off again at a higher rent. Supposing a man is put on a particular holding and has paid off the capital sum due, seeing that he is paying portion of the sinking fund, there is now complete power to raise the amount at any time. Is not that so? Is there not power before the land is vested to alter the rents? After the land has been vested and the man has gone into possession you still want to be in a position to alter the rent if you so wish. You will want the same power to put him out. Does this apply to the case of an exchange of holdings, because if a person exchanges a small holding for a larger one is it not vested in him? If not, it is only listed. It would be shocking if a man who goes out of a small holding into a larger one is merely listed and could be put out. I would like to know what the practice is. According to the Minister's statement it is evidently a matter of practice. If that is the practice, and if an agreement is only going to be listed, and if a man is to have no rights in the new holding, it is certainly astonishing.

I have explained this section often enough. It is to confirm in the Land Commission rights which were inserted in the agreement that tenants signed when they entered upon the land. I may illustrate it like this. If Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney invited Deputy Dillon into his house and gave him a bed for the night, we do not want Deputy Dillon to claim the right to remain there and to take the bed away with him when going.

But if Deputy Dillon were paying for a night's lodging in a hotel that I was running, I would expect him to get a night's lodging. That is what you are taking away from these persons.

The Minister left me rather in a state of terror about the condition of migrants in congested districts.

Is there no case pending in regard to this?

It was merely a doubt that arose in the mind of someone who was examining the land laws. I do not know that there is even any foundation for it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

While the Minister may have solved doubts, he has certainly created doubts which did not exist before.

Section 31 agreed to.

Amendment No. 49 is out of order.

Question proposed: "That Section 32 stand part of the Bill."

This section looks fairly harmless, because it is supposed to exonerate the Minister from the necessity of listing where there is agreement amongst the interested parties. I am not at all satisfied in connection with the sale or transfer of land that it is not very much better to go through the ordinary procedure and to give the fullest publicity in Iris Oifigiúil at each step. It is a matter of record which brings the work of the Land Commission, particularly in the distribution of land, before the public eye, and affords interested parties an opportunity to demand certain information as a right. I believe that it is a useful and a desirable system, and where nothing but some trifling convenience in the administration of the Land Commission is concerned, it is very much better not to depart from what has been the hitherto established practice in land purchase.

The Deputy may rest assured that nothing is going to be done that is hurtful to the people who enter into purchase agreements. This is only doing away with a piece of unnecessary and costly red tape. Persons entering into purchase agreements are secured in their rights.

I do not like red tape, but when you are dealing with property I think it is a very wise thing always to make sure that everybody knows what you are doing. I think when you are dealing with land in all these cases, at least there should be some publication, and this is not a very extensive publication.

This is the only departure from the obligation to list?

Do you think that is prudent? You have got a general rule covering all such transactions, and this listing operation marks a certain stage in every transaction in which the Land Commission is concerned. Now you are going to take one small class of transactions out of that general rule and questions may arise as to whether the three conditions set out in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) have been complied with. One case in which an issue of that kind would be raised ten or 15 years after the transaction is completed would cost far more annoyance and expense than the automatic procedure of listing would involve the Land Commission in. Surely it must be agreed between us that where every transaction is listed the trouble of taking out a certain restricted class of persons is infinitely greater than letting them go the way of all the others. To make trifling exceptions of that kind now, I submit, very largely destroys the value of a listing provision such as has been in the land purchase code for a very long time and which was primarily put there in order to secure that at a certain point in every purchase and sale transaction, the business will be placed on record in a standard way. I submit to the Minister that between this and the Report Stage he might consider whether it would not be better to let the ordinary procedure apply to every case as it has applied heretofore.

I should like to point out to the Minister that if he goes into court in a case in which no notice has been given, he will come out of the court very quickly because even though it is enacted by the House, if a provision contravenes the natural law, and if he interferes with property of any kind without giving notice to the owner of the property, the court will decide against him. For that reason I would urge upon him that no transactions should take place in regard to property without giving the person affected by it some notice. I wish to tell the Minister that even though a provision of that kind is enacted here specifically in legislation, if any point arises hereafter that this has been done without notice to the owner of the land, the Department will not be in court very long. You cannot do it because it contravenes the natural law and the court will assert the natural law above any law made by this House. It is unnatural to take a man's property without giving him some notice of it.

Section put and declared carried.
SECTION 33
(2) The decision of all questions whether any land, whether tenanted or untenanted, is being used in abona fide manner as a farm for the purpose of breeding thoroughbred stock within the meaning of Section 9 of the Land Act, 1927, shall be made by the lay commissioners (other than members of the Appeal Tribunal) and the decision of such lay commissioners on any such question shall be final subject only to an appeal to the Appeal Tribunal on questions of law or of value, and the decision of the Appeal Tribunal on any such appeal shall be final subject only to an appeal to the Supreme Court on questions of law.

I move amendment No. 50:—

In sub-section (2), line 1, page 15, to delete the word "final" and also the word "only"; in line 2 before the word "questions" to insert the word "all" and in the same line to delete the words "of law or of value"; and in line 4 to delete the words "on questions of law."

Would the Deputy consider that the same issue is involved in amendment No. 56?

It deals with a different matter, Sir.

I found great difficulty in doing anything with this section that would satisfy me but ultimately I came to the conclusion that I could not draft anything that would be a practical substitute without destroying the entire section. Having come to that conclusion, I came to the decision that the only practical thing I could do was to provide that an appeal should lie from any decision of the lay commissioners on a question of fact as well as on questions of value or of law, to the Appeal Tribunal and to the Supreme Court. It is proposed in the amendment that an appeal shall lie from the lay commissioners on all questions of fact, law and value to the Appeal Tribunal and to the Supreme Court. I do not see why such an appeal should not exist. Land is not a perishable or a moveable article. The land is going to remain there and there will be plenty of time to deal with it after the appeal has been heard. I think that the Land Commission should not object to an appeal on all questions. The Minister for Agriculture decides whether or not the farm is one that is properly used for the breeding of stock. Then the lay commissioners are given power finally and absolutely to decide the fact whether the farm is to be resumed. There is to be no appeal on the question of fact. There are quite a number of things about which I think I have a considerable knowledge but I do not think there is any one thing about which I could claim to be infallible. I do not think there is anything about which anyone could be infallible, no matter how much he knows.

I think it is going too far to give to the lay commissioners the absolute determination of the question of fact in all these cases. If there is to be an appeal on questions of law and of value, why should we not provide for an appeal also on the other question? It will not take very long to decide that appeal. The land has been lying there for centuries and will remain there for centuries yet to come. It will remain there while the appeal is pending to the Appeal Tribunal and then to the Supreme Court. I think if such an appeal is not allowed in matters of this kind people will think that there is something hidden, which the Government do not want brought to the surface. They will think that the lay commissioners because they are given these powers are not permanently fixed in their positions. In other words, it may be hinted that they are removable and that for that reason they are under Ministerial control. It may be that that is not a fact but naturally a person who is affected by this section will arrive at that conclusion. This is a very simple question and if an appeal is allowed on a question of value and of law, I do not see why an appeal should not be granted also on the question of fact.

I do not think the Deputy has any right to object to the section, because what the Minister for Lands is doing in the section is to divest himself of certain powers he has at the moment. Up to now the Minister for Lands had the right even to say what was bloodstock. What we are doing in this section is to divest the Minister of that power and to vest it in the Minister for Agriculture. That was, of course, the intention in the 1927 Act, but then the Minister for Lands and Agriculture was one and the same person. What we are simply doing is divesting the Minister for Lands of powers that rightly belong to the Minister for Agriculture.

Surely there used to be an appeal to the Judicial Commissioner. In the first instance, the Minister for Agriculture decided whether lands were capable of being used as a stud farm or not, and then the Land Commission decided whether, in fact, the lands were being used as a stud farm or not. Was there not an appeal on that question to the Judicial Commissioner?

Not to the Supreme Court, as Deputy McMenamin desires.

Let us deal with the questions as they are put. The Minister now proposes to remove the right of appeal on the question of fact as to whether the land is being used bona fide as a stud farm or not. The decision of the lay commissioners on that is final. You may appeal to the Appeal Tribunal only on the question of value and law and thence to the Supreme Court only on a question of law. Am I not right in saying that, where the owner of the land disagreed with the Land Commission as to whether the farm was being used as a stud farm, he could go before the Judicial Commissioner and appeal against the finding of the Land Commission that he was not using the land as a stud farm? Does not the Minister propose by sub-section (2) of this section to take away that right of appeal?

The question as to whether land is being used in a bona fide manner as a farm for the purpose of breeding thoroughbred stock must be a mixed question of law and of fact. The interpretation will, of course, be a matter of law, but it will be necessary to find the facts. How you are going to raise a question of law on this section without a decision on the facts I do not know. The wording of the section is “whether any land, whether tenanted or untenanted, is being used in a bona fide manner as a farm for the purpose of breeding thoroughbred stock within the meaning of Section 9 of the Land Act of 1927.”

What is the meaning of the phrase "in a bona fide manner”? Must a farm be mainly devoted to the breeding of thoroughbred stock? It cannot be entirely used for the purpose of breeding thoroughbred stock. I think also that “thoroughbred stock” would bring in not merely a stud farm, properly so called—a stud in which horses are produced—but would also take in any class of thoroughbred stock. You would have a very nice, interesting point as to whether a run of prize poultry were not thoroughbred stock. Though it may surprise you, there is a decision on our books that bees are cattle. It is, I grant you, an old decision, but it is to be found there. There will be a very nice question under this section as to what precisely “thoroughbred stock” is. Taking all the difficulties that may arise on this section into consideration, I think a rehearing on law and on fact might reasonably be given. There will be great difficulty in deciding questions of law unless you have a definite finding of the facts. I do not think that the giving of an appeal on law and on fact in this one section could do very much harm or would take up much of the time of the Appeal Tribunal. If the Minister says that the granting of such a right would not be completely in harmony with the rest of the legislation, I retort that that is no answer. You need not have complete symmetry in a code of law.

I have no special interest in this section, because no thoroughbred stock are bred in my constituency. To me this is purely a question of justice and of law. I wonder what Deputy could tell me the meaning of the phrase "used in a bona fide manner” in this section? Up to quite recently we all thought that to allay our thirst legally we had only to walk a few miles. We found that merely walking the necessary distance to a publichouse did not render a traveller bona fide. I should like any Deputy who thinks he can do so to tell the House what is meant by the “bona fide use” of a farm for any purpose. What does such a phrase cover? No Deputy in the House could tell me what it means in law. I could not even trust myself to do it.

Neither would we.

I am supposed to have got some training in these matters, but I should like to look up a number of authorities and to give considerable consideration to the question before I would venture an opinion as to what this phrase precisely means. Yet the Minister is leaving that question to two lay commissioners without any legal training. I agree with Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney that this is a mixed question of law and fact. One cannot be disentangled from the other. To decide one question properly, the person concerned must have a knowledge of the other. For that reason I think that there should be an appeal to the Appeal Tribunal and to the Supreme Court on these mixed questions of law and fact.

I think that this section ought to be withdrawn. I do not think that the amendment hardly goes sufficiently far. I intend to oppose the section. The breeding of thoroughbred stock is one of the most important industries we have left. Having interfered with almost everything on the land, the Government now propose to interfere with this industry, which is about the last thing left that they can interfere with.

What about the amendment?

Deputy McMenamin is trying to make the section less obnoxious by giving an appeal from the decision of the lay commissioners on questions of law and fact. I support the amendment. It would give some semblance of security to people engaged in the thoroughbred industry. If they felt aggrieved by the decision of the lay commissioners, they could appeal to the Appeal Tribunal. To leave the determination of these matters in the hands of such a body as the lay commissioners is not right. The breeding of thoroughbred horses is a very technical matter and I think that some authority should be provided for in this regard besides the lay commissioners. There should be at least an appeal to some higher tribunal. I support the amendment.

Mr. Lynch

I think that the Minister ought to accept the first portion of the amendment, which would allow an appeal on all matters to the Appeal Tribunal. I would not press the Minister on the point that there should be an appeal to the Supreme Court on any other than a point of law. A substantial case has been made for an appeal from the decision of the lay commissioners on questions of fact as well as of law to the Appeal Tribunal. If the Minister went that distance, he would, I think, meet the case that has been made.

The Land Commission have power to decide much more important things than that and it is not worth while making special provision in this case.

That is an argument on the ground of symmetry, which is one of the most rotten arguments that can be put forward. Because they can have the powers in one direction they should have them in every direction. That is the argument.

I suggest to the Minister that if he comes to think of it his code of law will always be a little better if it is not symmetrical. On the same principle on which the Minister is going, if you have a bed that is too big you can stretch the gentleman out so that he will be long enough to fit in the bed, or you can cut his legs off so that he will be short enough if the bed is a short one. That is not a good principle in legislation. If the Minister cuts these words out he will not be doing any harm. Let him not take symmetry as an argument. This is a definite matter of mixing law and fact. The 20 or 30 cases which will probably arise or that are likely to arise are bona fide stud farms and there should be an appeal in these cases to the Appeal Tribunal. Cannot we be sensible?

Is Deputy McMenamin pressing the amendment?

Yes, I am prepared to go to a vote on it if the Minister will not accept the amendment.

Question put: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand."
The Committee divided: Tá, 47; Níl, 26.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Conkery, Daniel.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Geoghegan, James.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Keely, Séamus P.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • Murphy, Timothy Joseph.
  • O'Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pattison, James P.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.

Níl

  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Broderick, William Joseph.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Costello, John Aloysius.
  • Daly, Patrick.
  • Desmond, William.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Holohan, Richard.
  • Keating, John.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, James Edward.
  • O'Donovan, Timothy Joseph.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Redmond, Bridget Mary.
  • Rice, Vincent.
  • Roddy, Martin.
  • Rowlette, Robert James.
  • Wall, Nicholas.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Smith and Bee gan; Níl: Deputies Doyle and Bennett.
Question declared carried.
Question proposed—"That Section 33 stand part of the Bill."

I oppose the section. When speaking on the amendment, I stated that bloodstock raising is one of the few things in connection with farming not affected by previous Land Acts. There was some measure of protection left to that industry but if this section does not take it away it gives it a bad shake. Anything that would tend to raise any doubts about the security of our large and small bloodstock farms would to my mind be disastrous. Now we have a new determination in sub-section (1) of this section as to the nature of thoroughbred stock. The Minister for Agriculture is to have the duty of declaring whether the stock are suited to the requirements of the country. The majority of our great bloodstock is not bred to suit the requirements of this country, but mainly to suit the requirements of another country, and our best sale for bloodstock is in another country. If the matter is going to be determined on the lines of whether the stock are suitable or not to this country it will be a wrong determination. I say that the Minister for Agriculture or any other Minister or Deputy is not the person to decide eventually whether the bloodstock produced on any land or stud farm is the right type of bloodstock or not. There could never be agreement between any two men on that matter.

There is no matter on which division of opinion is so great as on that of bloodstock breeding. One man pins his faith to one line of breeding and another man has entirely different views. Under this section the whole future of that industry is placed in the hands of the Minister for Agriculture, who is to declare the nature of the stock we are to breed and to decide whether they are suitable to this country or not. In the past, we have bred innumerable great horses on different farms in this country. The men who bred them were unfettered in the running of their stud farms, as to where they bought their breeding stock, as to the manner in which they used them, and as to what sort of stock they produced. There is no authority that I know of fit to determine, by looking at them, whether a certain type of bloodstock is suitable to the requirements of the country. There have been many famous horses produced here and sold to foreign States which, if examined by one of the Minister's veterinary surgeons, probably would not have been accepted as suitable for breeding here.

I am opposed to any section which interferes in any way with the prosperity of this industry. To my mind, there is in this section a grave danger to the security of our stud farms. There may not be a grave danger to the very big stud farms, because even the Minister would hesitate before venturing to interfere with these. But there will be a danger to the average farmer bloodstock breeder, whom I am particularly anxious to protect, the man with three or four mares who produces, perhaps, three or four yearlings annually. One year perhaps he may not produce two, because luck may be against him. A man like that puts a lot of capital into this industry and is competing against very big interests elsewhere. He is the man who is in danger of being interfered with under this section. The Minister might hesitate to say that the Aga Khan's stud farm in Kildare or Major Loder's stud farm was not an asset to this country, but he might say that the horses that Deputy Fagan was raising were not good horses.

He might decide that they were not suitable to the requirements of this country, and that the stud farm was not carried on on proper lines. The first thing the Minister is to decide is whether, say, Deputy Fagan is breeding thoroughbred stock that is or is not of a nature and character suitable within the meaning of sub-section (1) of Section 9 of the 1927 Act to the requirements of the country. I hope that when the Minister for Agriculture goes to inspect those animals that he will find they are good-natured, and that they will not kick him.

The Minister, I think, is very ill-advised to bring in this section. In previous Acts it was thought proper to protect the interests of bloodstock breeders. I mean those who breed thoroughbred horses. This section might mean anything. It might mean thoroughbred goats, thoroughbred hens or thoroughbred dogs. I am a breeder of dogs, and perhaps it would be open to me to say that I was conducting my farm in a proper way as a breeder of setters, in which, I understand, Deputy McMenamin is interested. But then the Minister for Agriculture might come down to me and say that I was not breeding the proper type of thoroughbred stock. What the Minister is doing in this section is this: he is giving a bad shake to the tenure and security which occupiers have hitherto had in their bloodstock farms. The Minister for Agriculture is to determine the nature and character and, I suppose, the good temper of the animals that are being bred in this country. I do not know what purpose he wants the animals to be available for. The few thoroughbreds that are kept in the country are raced here. The Minister may have in mind the establishment of a race track. That suggestion was put forward recently by some individual interested in racing, and I gathered from what I read in some of the sporting papers that the Minister received him sympathetically. Perhaps that is what the Minister has at the back of his mind in this section—the establishment of a race track in this State, and that the object is to see that horses suitable for running on such a track are bred in the country.

The people who, up to this, have been interested in the breeding of thoroughbred bloodstock would hardly share the view that the Minister for Agriculture is the proper person to decide what particular type of bloodstock should be bred. Individual views count a lot in that industry. There are no two men who will agree on the type of bloodstock that ought to be produced, and it is very unsafe, I suggest, to give to the Minister the powers asked for in this section. I am also strongly opposed to sub-section (2), in which it is proposed to give power to the lay commissioners to determine whether any land, tenanted or untenanted, is being used in a bona fide manner as a farm for the purpose of breeding thoroughbred stock within the meaning of Section 9 of the Land Act of 1927. I say that they are not the men to determine that. That is a matter that should be put in other hands. It might, for instance, be left to a body of prominent racing men.

I am also strongly opposed to this section. Legislation that proposes to interfere with the bloodstock industry of this country is certain to have a very bad effect on it. What we want in this country is more people to breed thoroughbred horses of the right kind. Farmers and others who engage in the industry begin, as a rule, in a small way. Some of the greatest horses that have been bred here have been bred by men who started in a small way, and, therefore, I would urge on the Minister to withdraw this section and not to do anything that would endanger what is one of our greatest industries.

I wish to goodness there was some method by which Deputies could move the adjournment of the debate and not have this thing being talked out as it has been by Deputy Bennett. If Deputy Bennett knew anything about the section he would know that it makes no alteration in the law as it stands.

And the law as it stands is good enough for me.

And for me.

It is ridiculous for anybody to suggest that laymen could decide such matters as are dealt with in this section. Anyone with any knowledge of the breeding of thoroughbred horses would simply laugh at the idea that the Minister for Agriculture was the proper person to decide how animals should be mated to get the best line of blood. A man must have an instinct for that. Neither the lay commissioners nor the Minister would be competent for that job. To prove what I have said that a man must have an instinct for the mating of animals, I may recall that the late Mr. John Gubbins went over to England and bought Kendal, the sire of that great Irish racehorse, Galtee More. It is not the big man in the industry, a man say, like the Aga Khan, who produces the greatest bloodstock, but the small man who has an instinct for the breeding of the best type of thoroughbred horse.

I would also appeal to the Minister not to do anything that would interfere with one of our greatest industries. Irish horses are famous the world over. There are many wealthy people in England who would be anxious to come over here and take large-sized farms for the purpose of breeding horses, because they know—I believe it is due to the nature of the soil—that the Irish-bred horse is the best that can be got for racing purposes, but in view of what is being done by the Government they are afraid to come. I do not think that either the Minister or the lay commissioners should be given the power asked for in this section. As regards myself, I do not feel too secure at present. Six months ago I received notice from the Land Commission that my farm was to be inspected. Previous to that I had intended putting up some more boxes for mares, but following the reception of that notice I did not go ahead with the work. I have heard nothing since from the Land Commission, but at the same time I feel very insecure. The horse-breeding industry is one that gives a very large amount of employment, more, I think, than any other industry, and, therefore, the Minister should not do anything that would make the people who are carrying it on feel insecure.

The young animals have to be fed at least twice a day and men have to be paid to look after them. Everything has to be watched carefully and the rearing of those animals really gives a lot of employment. If you go to any stud farm you will find that there is more employment given there proportionately, than in any other industry in the country. I would strongly advise the Minister to include some section that will give the owners of stud farms a sense of security, a feeling that they will be able to carry on without much interference. As Deputies are no doubt aware, it takes years to make a name for a good stud farm. Ireland is noted all over the world for the breeding of good horses and I believe the Minister will be doing a good day's work for Ireland by announcing that any people who desire to establish stud farms here will never be disturbed.

Question put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 46; Níl, 27.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Corkery, Daniel.
  • Corry, Martin John.
  • Curran, Richard.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Geoghegan, James.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Keely, Séamus P.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • Murphy, Timothy Joseph.
  • O Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
  • O'Grady, Sean.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.

Níl

  • Anthony, Richard.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Broderick, William Joseph.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Costello, John Aloysius.
  • Daly, Patrick.
  • Desmond, William.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Holohan, Richard.
  • Keating, John.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • O'Donovan, Timothy Joseph.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Redmond, Bridget Mary.
  • Rice, Vincent.
  • Roddy, Martin.
  • Rowlette, Robert James.
  • Wall, Nicholas.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Smith and Beegan; Níl: Deputies Doyle and Bennett.
Question declared carried.
Progress reported, the Committee to sit again to-morrow.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Friday, 24th July, 1936.