Supplementary Estimate. - Land Bill, 1936—Committee Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That Section 36, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

I doubt very much whether any uneasiness that the policy of the Government as regards land, and the various statements which have been made by Ministers again and again, and especially by the present Minister, on the question of the tenure of land, will be in any way allayed by the statement made here last week by the Minister. I occasionally see a complaint made that we on this side are trying to raise a scare in the breasts of the farmers of the country as to their tenure of their property. Surely it is clear that, if there is any such scare, the causes that are altogether responsible for it are the policy of the Government and the statements of Ministers. Could anything be better calculated to cause uneasiness than the general policy of the Government with regard to land and the statements of Ministers which must be borne in mind when considering that policy? How can any farmer in the country feel any security about his property when he reads the statements of the various Ministers, and particularly those of the present Minister for Lands? And when we see additional powers given to the Land Commission under this Bill, we really must interpret those powers in the light of the very alarming statements which time and again have been made by the Minister. Unless a very great social evil is proved, unless something threatening the whole welfare of the nation is shown to exist, there ought to be some security for the ordinary farmers as regards the holding of their land.

Surely it will be acknowledged on every side of the House that that particular class has been sufficiently hard hit in recent years, and especially in the last couple of years, and that they should not be made more uneasy by the new powers that are taken by a Government Department under this Bill. Was there anything in the speech of the Minister last week to allay these fears? Again we had repeated a hint that was given more than once by Ministers, that unless farmers worked their land "properly," in other words, unless they happened to be quick enough to fall in with the policy of the Government of the day in agricultural matters, then they are going to be given no guarantee, so far as the holding of their land is concerned. Boiled down, that is the policy of the Government, and of the Minister, on this question for the last couple of years. Is it to be contended that that means security of tenure in any sense? Unless farmers can change their whole agricultural economy with every general election, they are not to be guaranteed possession of their land. What the present Minister may consider to be the proper use of land, a future Minister may consider to be very improper or very uneconomic. Is the ordinary farmer, no matter what size holding he has, to be the plaything of Party politics in this way? Is it not obvious that his whole security is gone when powers of this kind are taken? Powers of this kind claimed in this section, no matter how limited, and no matter what respect we may have for the Land Commission, must be related to the general policy of the Minister.

When this policy was first started, the country was given to understand that it was "ranchers" that were going to be dealt with. The cry of "Split up the ranches" was supposed to justify that policy. But, as in other countries, so here also, that was only the beginning. In other countries it was found advisable to start with the large-size farms, but ultimately the property of all farmers was put in jeopardy and destroyed. Faced with such developments elsewhere, surely it ought to be the aim of our Government here not to weaken the sense of security but to strengthen it. However, we seem to be doing the very opposite, and with very little justification.

I can imagine in a time of great crisis political and social developments of such a character as might justify serious interference with property, and even property of this kind, but it cannot be alleged that such a crisis exists. It is only with great hesitation that a step of this kind should be contemplated. But the Government Benches willingly—I was going to say blindly— plunge into an abyss. Do Ministers imagine that the headline they are setting up will not be copied? Does anybody imagine that the demand for land in some localities will not be so great that pressure will not be brought to bear on successive Ministers to interfere with the ordinary rights of farmers? After all, when buying out his land the farmer believed—and it was the fact—that he was purchasing a right to the land. The land does not belong to the State.

I have seen various statements of different Ministers from the time they took office up to the present, and in these I notice underlying and inspiring a great deal of their policy the belief that the land belongs to the State. It does not. It is the property of private individuals, with the State having certain rights over that property, as it has rights over various other classes of property, but it has no more right to deprive a man of his land than to deprive him of any other property. When farmers purchased the rights of the landlords the land was to belong to them, but now we see one invasion of their rights after another. If there have been invasions of these rights before, that is all the more reason why we should hesitate further to pursue that line of policy. Everything should be done in the present state of agriculture to add to the sense of security; not to take away from that sense in any way. And yet this is what is happening, because it is obvious that the farmer will regard this as a further step, which may be followed to a further conclusion afterwards, towards depriving him of his right to his farm. No one can suggest that the right of the farmer in his land depends on his ability to accept the changed policies of successive Ministers. No one can suggest that any such claim makes for security of tenure. The evils that spring from insecurity should be avoided. Apart altogether from the question of the right and injustice involved, even if there are individual cases in which we may register a gain by the exercise of powers, of which we have an example in this section, that is more than offset by the general unsoundness of this policy and the sense of insecurity that is raised amongst the farming community.

When speaking last week, the Minister said that land when properly worked would not be interfered with. The last speaker has dealt with the question whether the proper use of land would be in conformity or out of conformity with the wishes of the Minister for the time being. I wonder if the Minister would consider land properly worked which was broken lea four years ago, and has produced a wheat crop ever since. Is that proper husbandry? I think some of that land has been so worked by prominent supporters of the Minister's Party, that having "run it out," I understand it is now up for sale for division amongst landless men. I presume such a farm would be properly worked in the opinion of the Minister.

To grow beet next year.

It will grow weeds next year. It is not fit to grow decent weeds, but it is good enough to give a fair price for, and to divide up amongst people who are subsidised; people brought from other places who will get 30/- a week for a year, and will further waste the land. The Minister should consider whether it is not time there was a beginning in a common-sense way. If a man has not security in land, he is not going to care for it. The greatest loss this country suffered in the last three or four years was caused by people who are dragging all the fertility out of the soil. There has been a greater loss in that way than there was for 30 years before, because the fertility of the soil had increased enormously owing to the judicious use of artificial manures, synchronising with security of tenure and with land purchase, as a result of which there was a feeling amongst farmers that whatever they invested in their land was a reserve for themselves and for their descendants. What incentive will this policy of seven years' tenant-at-will offer to farmers to increase the fertility of their land?

A man cannot buy a farm and set about farming it as a farm should be worked according to his ideas and temperament. He will not go into it with any intention of improving it because he knows that if he goes in and makes a success of his farming business, the land can be taken from him. The nursing that he would do of the soil to increase its fertility gives him no security on the farm. The super-landlord, the Land Commission, can claim it just as the old landlords could claim a farm 60 or 70 years ago. If this matter is not dealt with in a proper way, it may result in destroying the whole fertility of the country. It will destroy good farming. If the Minister has studied the history of farming in other countries I am sure he will know that you can never raise agriculture to the highest level by creating uniformity in the size of farms for the simple reason that individuals are not uniform in themselves. They have not been created in a uniform mould. You will get a good farmer who cannot be successful on any farm of less than 300 acres and who would die of starvation if you put him into a smaller farm. On the other hand, you will get a man who may be a success on a ten or 20 acre farm but if you put him on 100 acres he will soon be in the Bankruptcy Court. It all depends on the industry, the outlook and the ability of the individual concerned. If a man is of a particularly industrious turn of mind, you might as well put him into prison or shoot him as to put him on a small holding. Give him a decent-sized farm to allow him sufficient scope for his abilities. He will require that, just as a man going into business wants sufficient scope for his ability in that business.

It is time that these arm-chair farmers who call themselves statesmen on the Government Benches should recognise that farming is a business and that if a man has not scope to develop his farm, if he is not using his land properly, the fault probably lies with the Minister for Agriculture who is not competent enough to devise a policy to enable that man to work his land properly and profitably. Do not think that a man is wasting his land merely for the pleasure of wasting it. That land represents capital and no one outside a lunatic asylum wants to waste capital. The few farmers here and there, who deliberately allow their land to go to waste are not worth the consideration of this House. If we are going to have agriculture properly developed all over the country there must be security of tenure. I admit that even the Land Act of 1923 broke down that principle to some extent, but that is no reason why the gap should be widened every time a Land Bill goes through the House. It is time that that gap was repaired and that our people should be given a chance of developing in agriculture, instead of nursing wastrels and subsidising incompetence as we are doing at the present time.

Where you have competent farmers, they are an asset and a treasure to the country and you should give them that security that will encourage them to use their land to the best advantage. Do not make conacre men of farmers. Do not compel them to work their land in such a way that they will extract all the fertility they can from it in one year or two years. Encourage them to work it in such a way that the land will preserve its fertility and that they can hand it over to their children in a better condition, if possible, than they found it. Good farming produces more than a crop; it enhances the fertility of the soil. That is an asset to the country and nobody is more entitled to such assets than those who have created them. I submit it is the farmers of this country who have created these assets in land. The landlords did not create them. They gave a farmer an old waste piece of land and it was the farmer who by his industry created fertility in the soil. The people who are in possession of these lands at present are the descendants of those to whom that land was given in the first instance or else they have paid the full value of the land to those who created that fertility in the first instance. They have therefore a right to be left in undisturbed possession. I hope there will be a division on this section.

On every occasion on which the opportunity arises, I shall be in opposition to anything which aims at limiting the security of the farmer in his land. In recent years we have had evidence enough of the effect of legislation on the value of land. We had a case quoted here on the last day by Deputy Holohan in which a farm purchased in 1935 for £1,900 was sought to be acquired by the Land Commission at £600. That is evidence enough of what will happen under this Bill, this further amendment of the 1933 Act. I am one of the few Deputies in this House who have a familiar recollection of the land war, of the sacrifices, the sufferings, the hopes, the failures and the ultimate victory of the people who fought that war. I for one believed when that war ended that for a very definite period at least the security of the farmers would be unchallenged, and certainly that a native Parliament, which the people in those days only dreamt of as something good to come, would not interfere with that security. One would have expected that, if there was any change made in the security of the tenant-farmer under a native Parliament, it would be for the better and that if possible an effort would be made to make him more secure than he was before, to help him to be a real honest-to-God farmer, a man who, as Deputy Belton said, worked his land every day, that he would be fostered rather than retarded in his operations by whatever section of the community happened to be in control of the Ministry.

One would like to ask why the farmer is singled out for this victimisation. Why not apply a clause of this kind to other sections of the community? If there was any evidence that farmers had organised to exploit the rest of the community, there might be some semblance of an excuse for the persecution to which they have been subjected. There is no such evidence; the farmers have never exploited the community. If the farmer was able to make a bare subsistence in years past, he was lucky. Farmers never became millionaires, and I do not think any Minister on the Front Bench can point the finger of scorn at farmers and say that they have profiteered to the extent of becoming millionaires. Other sections of the community, who have had very small beginnings, have expanded their businesses until they eventually became millionaires. The farmer alone amongst the people has always had to be the hewer of wood and the drawer of water for the rest of the community. Not alone is he not to be allowed to expand his business, but he is going to be retarded in the enjoyment of his possession and in his occupation. Deputy Dillon, when speaking here on the last day, threw out an olive branch to the Minister. He suggested that at least some semblance of security might be guaranteed to the farmer, and that we might possibly arrange between us —I think he used the word "us," but I would not be a party to such an agreement—that some limited form of security should be offered to the farmer by providing that there should be some definite amount of land that would be left untouched or without any threat of touching.

When the Land Bill of 1933 was going through the House, and when everything else failed, I brought forward an amendment to the effect that a man should be left in security with a certain quantity of land—say from 100 acres to 250 statute acres. The Minister refused to consider that amendment. I do not know that it was a very good amendment, but it was, at least, an attempt to make wretched conditions a little better. I do not see why there should be any discrimination between large and small tenants. If the man who purchased his land has paid his annuities and other commitments, and has not exploited anybody, why should he be disturbed any more than a citizen engaged in any other occupation? The object of the previous Land Acts was to settle people on the land. The land war was fought with that object, and for years, even though some of us who are farmers did not put by any great amount of money or become millionaires, nevertheless, we existed in a hand-to-mouth sort of way, and were comparatively happy in that our occupation took up most of our time, and we had little opportunity to indulge in any of the luxuries available to other members of the community. We were, as I said, moderately happy and content. One wave of the Minister's hand has disturbed all that. Hither and thither, there is a feeling of insecurity on the part of the farmer, as great as when the land war was first launched.

I do not see any possibility of amending this Bill so as to make it acceptable to the bulk of the farmers. I do not think that there is a Farmer-Deputy on the Government Benches who would deny that there is, as a result of the introduction of this measure and the 1933 Act, a tremendous feeling of insecurity amongst farmers, both big and small. One thing you have definitely succeeded in doing—you have smashed the value of land. I proposed an amendment to this section which I suppose the Government would not have accepted even if the House had accepted it. They would find a way out. My proposal was that, if the Land Commission were forced to resume land, they would give a certain value for it. The Minister argued that they were paying a just price. Deputy Holohan gave an example of this "just price" when he instanced a farm which was bought for £1,900 a very short time before and for which the Land Commission offered £600. That constitutes a refutation of the Minister's contention that the Land Commission is paying a fair price for resumed land. You cannot ensure a fair price for resumed land unless there is some approach to public values. I proposed a few days ago that the Government should purchase in the open market. The Minister objects to that policy. He did not state what his objection in principle was, but he suggested that it would be dangerous for a Government to enter into bargains in that way. The Minister's objection appeared to be based on the fear of "puffers." He seemed to think that it would be impossible to buy land at a fair price because of the presence at the auctions of "puffers." I replied that every section of the community had to protect themselves against "puffers" and that the Land Commission could do the same. If the Land Commission bid a fair amount for the land and did not purchase it, it would have the same effect. I do not see any reason why the value of land should be inflated because of the Land Commission competing for it. No farmer is going to give more than the value of land just because the Land Commission is bidding for it. If there were any attempt to "puff," the land could be left to the "puffer."

I pointed out, too, that instead of taking land from people who did not want to part with it, the Land Commission could, in this way, obtain land which was being offered for sale. I see no reason why, if land is being offered voluntarily, the Land Commission should step in and take land compulsorily from some other person who is working it. It will always be necessary, if the agitation for land division continues, to divide some lands, and I can see no means of obtaining the land, if we are not to have perpetual confiscation of purchased lands, other than the purchase of lands voluntarily offered. If we do not adopt some such system, we are going to have no fixity of tenure for any farmer, large or small.

On the last day, some Deputy said that before he passed away from this particular section, he would like to say a few words. I should like to say a few words before passing away in a different sense. I am now getting into hoary, old age and, before passing away, I should like to see some settlement of this land question. I should like to see a real settlement effected by an Irish Parliament which would give farmers real security and which would banish their fears, a settlement which would make the victory won in the first land war a reality and which would give farmers confidence in their own Ministers and their own Government. I regret to say that, in recent years, instead of having increased confidence in their own Ministry, they have less confidence in them than they had in the British Ministry in the past. The British Ministry was, at least in that respect, fair. Once a man purchased his land, there was no attempt to take the benefit of his purchase from him.

We have debated this section and other sections in and out. Perhaps there has been a good deal of repetition, but if this matter cropped up every year for the next 25 years or every month of every year for the next 25 years or every day of every month of every year for the next 25 years or every hour of every day of every month of every year for the next 25 years, and if I happened to be here, I would get up and make my protest on this section even if I had to repeat every word I said ten minutes before. This section must be resisted by the farming community and it will be resisted by them. If the powers taken in this Bill are put into effect, I challenge the Minister to deny that there will be a revival of the land war— perhaps a more dangerous was than the land war which was fought here 45 or 50 years ago. Some Deputies do not remember that war but many of the older Deputies, like myself, have a vivid recollection of it.

This is the only way in which I can have some little correction made in the report of my remarks last week. In column 1992 at the opening of the first paragraph in that column I am reported as saying: "I heartily agree with the suggestion of Deputy Dillon," and so on. What I did say was: "I hardly agree with the suggestion of Deputy Dillon to fix a limit to the size of a farm, and let that limit remain."

I want to add one word in support of what Deputy Davin said on the last occasion on this section. I was not lucky enough to be present during the debate, but I thought that the Minister treated Deputy Davin's observations rather too cavalierly.

I opposed the 1933 Land Bill pretty vigorously on the Second Reading, but when we reached the Final Stage I expressed the opinion that the concessions which the Minister had made to us in the course of the Committee Stage were so important and on the whole so satisfactory that I could hardly bring myself to oppose the Bill at all on its Final Stage, except for the kind of speeches that we had heard from Deputy Corry and other Deputies in this House, and from many people down the country, as to the spirit in which, in fact, the Land Bill was going to be worked. I think, on the whole, the apprehensions aroused by speeches of that sort have been falsified, and that the Act has not been so administered as to create justifiable doubts in the minds of the farmers of this country about fixity of tenure. But, in so far as alarm has been created about fixity of tenure, I think it has been due to the activities of the Fianna Fáil clubs.

The Minister says that he has no legal authority to stop the Fianna Fáil clubs from indulging in that sort of activity, and he equates them with individuals like Deputy Davin and Deputy Dillon, and says that every man has the right to express a view as to what lands are to be divided and how they are to be divided. I think it is very misleading to compare a great political organisation such as the Fianna Fáil organisation with individuals. The Minister may have no power by law to restrain the organisation from its activities, but he and others of his colleagues who are in fact at the head of that organisation certainly can make a change within the organisation if they choose to do so. Everybody knows that in all parts of the country the Fianna Fáil clubs do make a speciality of this acquisition and division of land. They have bombarded the Land Commission unceasingly with the most unnecessary and voluminous correspondence, and these clubs do hold out to all and sundry in the countryside that the way for them to get possession of land that is likely to be going is to take an active part in the doings of the Fianna Fáil clubs. I suggest, in all seriousness and in no controversial spirit, that that is frightfully undesirable and that it does tend to make the people throughout the country think of the land question as a Party question, and to think of it as being operated in the spirit of the spoils system.

I do not believe for a moment that the Land Commission are operating it in any such spirit but in so far as people down the country have a prima facie reason for thinking that that is the case that prima facie reason is due to the activities of the Fianna Fáil clubs, and I would urge upon the Minister that he and his colleagues should discourage these clubs from preparing, as they do, those elaborate schemes of land division and working out in advance what they want each of their members should get and creating the impression all around the countryside that they have the whip hand of the Land Commission.

The only other word I have to say is that in my opinion Deputy Dillon and some of those on the opposite benches have gone too far in what they have said about security of tenure. I wonder if they would extend the principle that they advocate to owners of town property and whether they would advocate that anyone who owns property in a town, property below a certain figure, say of £2,000, should be given absolute security of tenure and allowed to do what he liked with it, no matter what sort of slum conditions were created thereby?

I do not think the Deputy should put questions which it would not be in order to answer.

I am only mentioning that by way of illustration, Sir. I suggest that the public interest should come first. I suggest that there is no reason why even a very small holder should have complete liberty to waste and ruin his land. I do not think it is a good thing that Government officials should constantly be poking in their noses and interfering. I take the individualistic view that in 99 cases out of 100 the man who is working his own farm is the best judge of how to work it. But I do not think that we should lay it down as a principle of the Legislature for all time that no matter how badly the land is being misused we are debarred from interfering with the person who is so misusing it provided that that person has something below a certain fixed amount of land. I do not myself see the sense of these limits. I think that the important thing with regard to land is that it should be well used and, above all, that it should give the amount of employment that it should reasonably be expected to give. If a man has got 10,000 or 20,000 acres or 50,000 acres I personally see nothing wrong and nothing undesirable in that, provided that the land so held is giving better employment than it could give in any other way, creating a larger amount of human wealth and human happiness than it would if held in a different way. I think these are the kind of motives that should guide us rather than setting up some fixed limit and saying that the man who has got more than that amount should be chivied around as much as we could chivy him and that the man who has got less than that amount of land could use his land in any way he liked and yet be entitled to hold it.

The Minister should be grateful to Deputy MacDermot for the efforts he has made to shift the blame from the shoulders of the Land Commission to the Fianna Fáil clubs in the country. In the course of the debates on the Land Commission Estimate here I drew attention to the fact that small farmers throughout the country have been served with notices that their land would be taken from them and that inspectors have been sent on their lands to report on their suitability or otherwise for resumption by the Land Commission. I gave instances of cases where small farmers have been served with such notices. I wonder were these notices served on the small farmers on the promptings of the Sinn Fein clubs? I wonder if notices were served on Wexford farmers on the promptings of the Sinn Fein clubs of the County Wexford? I have known cases myself of small farmers who owned altogether about 30 acres of land, divided into two holdings, one holding on which the farmer resides, and an outlying holding of, let us say, 20 or 25 acres. These farmers have been served with notices that it is proposed to send an inspector to report on the suitability of the outlying farm for acquisition. These notices are still hanging over the heads of these unfortunate tenants. That is true not only of one county, but of every county. I ask the Minister whether, in such circumstances, with such a notice hanging over the heads of these farmers, they would take the same interest in the development of their holdings as they otherwise would?

Or their neighbours.

Or their neighbours. Does the Minister not realise, when notices of that kind are broadcast throughout the country that it does interfere with essential security; that it does interfere with the proper, normal development of such holdings and prevents the farmers from putting money into the development of these holdings for the purpose of increasing their productivity? I mentioned the Wexford cases. I wonder does Deputy MacDermot suggest that the notices in these cases were served on the Wexford tenants on the promptings of the local Fianna Fáil clubs? If one is to judge by what has happened as a result of the actions of local Fianna Fáil clubs, one is forced to the conclusion that they certainly do influence, and influence very largely, Land Commission administration, because in very many cases where local Fianna Fáil clubs have been active and have been pressing the Land Commission to acquire lands in various districts, the tenants of these lands have been served subsequently with notice that it is proposed to send inspectors for the purpose of reporting whether they are suitable for acquisition or otherwise. As I say, these notices are still hanging over the heads of these unfortunate tenants and, to that extent at all events, the Land Commission has succeeded in creating a general feeling of insecurity and prevented the normal and proper development of the holdings.

The Minister, in replying to Deputy Bennett's amendment on Friday last, made this rather extraordinary statement: "The fact is that this section gives very much more security to the people who purchased under the 1923 Land Act than they got under that Act." I wonder did the Minister mean that statement seriously, or is it merely an effort to camouflage the real meaning and intention of the section. I ask the Minister in what sense he can argue that the tenants whose holdings were vested under the 1923 Act are more secure under this Bill than they were hitherto? Does not this section remove every security which vested tenants have? Is not the real intention of the section to acquire, if necessary, every holding that has been vested under the 1923 Act? As I mentioned on Friday, there is no question whatever about it that it was mentioned, I think by the Minister himself, on the Second Stage of the Land Act of 1923, that that Act was intended to be the last stage in the final settlement of the land question in this country.

I also asked the Minister on Friday how far he intends to go in the direction of acquiring land. It was pointed out away back in 1927 that, even assuming every available acre of land in this country was acquired for the purpose of relieving congestion, still the Government would not be able to deal with more than approximately 40 or 45 per cent. of the congests, without even providing one sod of land for the landless men. So that, no matter what the Minister does in the direction of land acquisition, he will still not be able to do very much more than touch the fringe of the problem of congestion and probably he must look in other directions for the purpose of dealing with that problem of congestion about which he is so much concerned. After all, if the agricultural industry is to be developed to its fullest capacity, it is absolutely essential that the farmers should enjoy security in the possession of their holdings. If agriculture is to remain the primary industry of the country, then it is absolutely necessary that the farmers should be guaranteed security in the possession of their holdings. No matter what the Minister does in the way of land acquisition, a stage will come, and probably come very much sooner than the Minister imagines, when he will be obliged to call a halt or take the consequences. What Deputy Bennett has said is perfectly true: if the Minister continues on the present lines of land legislation and goes on in every Bill to take further powers for acquiring additional land, then it is inevitable that at some stage or other there will be another land war much more intense and bitter than any of the previous land wars have been.

It is rather strange that the only speech that has been made so far in support of the Minister's proposal in this Bill came from probably the most uninformed and the most detached source from which it could possibly have emanated. Deputy MacDermot, in the course of the argument which he put forward to help the Minister in this respect, made reference to two or three parallels, if I might say so. He referred to slum property of the value of £2,000. Who ever heard of slum property of the value of £2,000? When one speaks of slum property, one speaks of houses which have a negligible value. Very few persons, if any, own 20 or 30 of these houses. Nobody wants them to be left in the possession of them. They are breaking the law almost by being in possession of them, if they are in an insanitary condition. There is no parallel whatever with the case of a man working his own land with the help of his family or by giving employment. He has family associations with that property extending over generations probably. In the other case, the man goes into the market and buys one of these old houses or half a dozen of them for a song. There is no comparison between these two cases. The second instance he gave was of a man who misuses his land. Who has ever heard of a farmer misusing his land? To what extent can he retain possession of it and pay annuities and rates and misuse his land? The thing is nonsensical. Deputy Belton has had some experience of agriculture, and even he smiles at that.

Deputy Belton gave an instance of the misuse of land a few moments ago by somebody who sowed wheat for a number of years running and took all the virtue out of the land, and then proceeded to get rid of it.

I did, but that was only by way of illustration. That man was induced by a wrong Government policy to use his land in that way, because it was the only way he could hang on.

Who is he?

He is an ex-Senator who, I am informed, now wants to dump that wasted land on to the Land Commission and get a farm in the County Dublin or County Meath that has been properly handled. I am not far wrong in making that statement, I think. I say that it rests with the Minister for Agriculture as to whether land will be properly used or not.

The explanation that has been put forward in order to explain what was meant damages the case still more. In the first place, the man who grows wheat will probably find himself patted on the back by the Minister or the Land Commission, and therefore he is secure. What Deputy MacDermot has succeeded in proving is that the man who misuses his land will not be touched by the Land Commission because he is following out the Government policy. These cases are merely small debating points, and show a lack of the solid information which a Deputy ought to have before he stands up and supports this section.

In order to get the support of the House for this section we ought to be satisfied on two or three headings. The first is that persons who are working their land and who need it for themselves and their families will not be interfered with and that, if they are, they will be paid a proper price for it. It is no solution of this or of any other problem to throw a family, practically speaking, out of possession of its holding on to the roadside, and then to be able to boast that you put two or three other persons in on that land. As regards those who will succeed a man deprived of his property in that way, we have got no guarantee that they will succeed on the land. If we examine some of the cases in which this very necessary and useful work, as it has been described, is being done, we will find that the cost of doing it is prohibitive. Would the Minister tell us what has been the cost per holding of the scheme carried out in the district of Athboy, County Meath? It is not unreasonable to ask for that information. I am told that the cost in the case of each family is very close on four figures. Compare that with the cost of housing a family in the City of Dublin. That is done at a quarter of the cost of putting a family on one of these holdings in the County Meath, while it has to be remembered that a family housed in the City of Dublin has to make a refund of the sum spent on housing it. I am told that the cost of housing a family on one of those holdings in the County Meath is close on £1,000. These are splendid experiments to be able to show, but anyone, I think, will admit that it is impossible to carry them out on a wholesale scale. The number of persons who, under one of those schemes, can be transplanted from one part of the country to another is negligible, and it is bound to be negligible if the cost for each family is going to be £1,000.

The next question that arises is: what is the real land problem in this country? Unquestionably it is congestion. This particular section is not confined to the acquisition of land for the purpose of making uneconomic holdings economic. While we are increasing the number of holdings throughout the country and putting new people on the land, we are leaving untouched that festering sore—the uneconomic holdings. If all these experiments have been carried out at the expense of those in the occupation of land for generations, and if their land has been acquired and that they are not being paid a price for it, then obviously we are doing an injustice to those people.

It is proposed in this section to give very drastic powers to the Land Commission. We have had examples already of cases in which the machinery of the Land Commission can be moved by persons whose only interest is political. In cases of that sort the insecurity that is likely to be felt by practically every landholder will prevent him putting his heart and soul into his work. It is to be noted also that, at the moment that these extraordinary powers are being taken, farmers are able to make less out of their land than at any time in the memory of anyone whose means of livelihood is the land. Will the Minister give us the average price that the Land Commission have paid for holdings that they have resumed, or intend to resume, over any period, and let us see whether or not it is a fair price? Will he also assure us in respect of those persons who go to the courts—the Appeal Tribunal in the one case and the Supreme Court in the other—and get a decision in their favour—we on this side have no personal interest in any of them—that they, at any rate, will be secure even if it be only to vindicate the decision of the courts; or, alternatively, will the case be made on equitable grounds in respect of those particular persons that their lands are going to be acquired for the relief of congestion, and that they are not going to be given, as they have been given in certain parts of the country, to persons to whom the Land Acts were never intended to apply? These, I submit, are not unreasonable questions to ask the Minister. This is a very serious section, perhaps the most serious that has ever been put before any Parliament in connection with land.

We want to ensure that the people who are in occupation of land will have security in their holdings. The Land Commission is not the institution which is entitled, in the first place, to acquire all the land that it considers is necessary, and to be the judge as to whether or not that land should be acquired. There you have two different problems. On the one hand you have the distribution of land. I submit that it ought to be in the hands of other people to decide between the individual and the community as to whether or not that land should be acquired.

If the opening observations of Deputy Cosgrave meant anything at all they meant that the misuse of agricultural land was something that could not occur. Now I suggest that is a proposition which will not bear one moment's examination, and no assumption by him of a superiority of knowledge on these questions will prevent me from repeating that in many parts of the country you can see land that has been grossly misused, and in many cases that misuse has not been by large owners but by very small owners. I do not care if a man has inherited land from a whole line of ancestors. If I had a piece of land that had been in my family for a thousand years I am not such a Tory as to consider that I had thereby acquired the right to do anything that I wished with that bit of land irrespective of the interests of the community. The very difficulties which Deputy Roddy has referred to: the difficulty that the amount of such a commodity of land is limited, and the difficulty that there is so much congestion to be provided for, forbid us to adopt any such extravagant notion as to what the proper rights of property are as would be implied by the remarks of Deputy Cosgrave, so far as land is concerned.

Deputy Cosgrave referred to me as a supporter of this section. In point of fact I spoke neither for nor against the section.

I am waiting with interest to see what the Minister may have to say in his reply with regard to the special subject of the Fianna Fáil clubs that has interested Deputy Davin and myself. What I did was to develop a little further what seemed to me to be the extremely important point that Deputy Davin made. I also called attention to what seemed to me to be the unwise lengths to which some speakers in the Opposition have gone in the course of this debate. Deputy Dillon, for example, said that:

"It is the fixed intention of the Fine Gael Party, when they become the Government of this country, to restore to the tenant-purchasers of this country the fixity of tenure which Fianna Fáil has now taken from them."

And he then goes on:

"I want to devise a method of tenure which will say ‘Provided you own no more land than the maximum figure determined by the Legislature of this country, whether you are a landlord on your demesne, a farmer on your farm, or a tenant purchaser on your little holding, you are absolutely immovable by any force in this State unless and until you express your willingness to go'."

The reference is Dáil Debates, July 24, 1936, col. 1977. That principle seems to me to be unsustainable and, if it is to be taken literally, the effect will be to put an end to land purchase in the country.

I should like to make a suggestion.

Deputy Bennett has spoken about a dozen times already.

I will speak now for the thirteenth time. It might be a way out of the difficulty if the Minister would substitute Deputy MacDermot for the Land Commission or the Land Commission inspectors, because the Deputy is apparently a better judge of the use of a farm than anyone else.

Or the misuse of a farm.

Quite—or the misuse. I should like to suggest again that the farmer is really the best judge of how to use his farm. Deputy MacDermot said he saw many farms in the country that are not being properly worked, in his view. Any farmer who neglects his land for a definite period will finish himself; it does not need any Ministry to give him the coup de grace. Any man who deliberately does what Deputy MacDermot suggests is being done with land, will not last long on the land. If anybody takes the trouble to look back over the records of the last half century he will find that it is the men who worked hard and did their utmost to get what they could out of the land, who worked it through hard times, lean times, good times and bad times, who were the successful men. Those who neglected their farms went out of business very quickly and were obliged to sell out for what they could get. These are the farms that the Minister might buy, and then he could pass them on to those who will work them.

But the annuities of these fellows were remitted.

That happened, too.

We must remember that in the course of this debate Deputy O'Sullivan, Deputy Cosgrave and Deputy Roddy were rather talking with, so to speak, their tongues in their cheeks. They know perfectly well that under the Act of 1933 a man's security is greater than it was in 1923 if he were living on a holding that was subject to vesting under that Act. Deputy Cosgrave talked about people having solid information before they rose to speak. He was President when the late Deputy Hogan introduced the Land Act of 1923. Under that Act his Government took power to retain all the holdings that came under it and to resume them and, in exercising their powers of resumption, the Land Commission "shall have regard to the necessity of relieving congestion, the desirability of increasing the food supply of the country, and the manner in which the holdings have been used." If the Land Commission under the 1923 Land Act were to have regard to the manner in which the holdings have been used, surely it is lacking information of that that has made Deputy Cosgrave say what he said here to-day in regard to the use or the misuse of land. He seemed to have absolutely no knowledge of the 1923 Act, or otherwise he is running away from the principles the late Deputy Hogan stood for in that Act.

The third alternative is that he simply does not care what he says as long as it is effective for the moment; so long as it is suitable for the moment it will do all right. There are certain members in this House who should set an example and who should not endeavour to create scares. They are men who know what the responsibility of Government means. I think it would not be asking too much of ex-Ministers and ex-Parliamentary Secretaries, like Deputy Roddy, not to attempt to create a scare with regard to something so important from the national point of view as the whole land question, in order to suit themselves for the time being. Such Deputies should not make a debating point that may be effective for the moment, for the hour, for the week or for the month in regard to a question like that if it is not based on fact or on some sort of principle.

I want to say that I have been frightfully disappointed with Deputy Roddy during the course of this debate. He again mentioned the case about the Wexford farmers for the purpose of creating a scare. He has already been fully informed that it was a mistake on the part of a lady typist in the office. For the purpose of creating a scare he wants to turn the mistake of a young girl in an office into Government policy. That is a bit too thick. If the members opposite have any self-respect they should keep away from that type of stuff.

The young lady's operations must be fairly extensive— that is all I can say.

Deputy Cosgrave and others fulminated that a man should be absolutely immovable in his land; Deputy O'Sullivan said that a man should have security in his land unless a very great social evil is proved. Another phrase of his was that the land belongs to the individual, with the State having certain rights of interference. Those were the real truths of the matter that hopped out from Deputy O'Sullivan's statements when he tried to create a scare about security. What are the facts about this particular section? It is related to Section 33 of 1933 and it gives a man security in his holding except the land is needed for the relief of congestion in the immediate neigh bourhood.

Is the Minister not aware of the fact that this is not the way in which the Land Commission administer the law? I know what the Minister meant to put in the 1933 Act, but is he not aware of the fact that that is not how the law is being administered?

Section 32 (3) sets out: "Notwithstanding anything contained in this section or in any other enactment, the Land Commission shall not acquire compulsorily for any purpose other than the relief of congestion in the same locality or the provision of sportsfields, parks, pleasure grounds or playgrounds for the inhabitants of villages, towns, or cities or for schools.... any land in respect of which the lay commissioners are satisfied that.... such land is producing an adequate amount of agricultural products and is providing an adequate amount of employment, reckoning in such employment any relatives of the tenant or proprietor of such land permanently employed on such land."

I quite agree with the Minister's interpretation of that section, but is the Minister not aware that the Land Commission have put a completely different interpretation upon it, and take up land for the relief of congestion anywhere, whether it is being properly farmed or not.

In the case of anybody who has bought out under the Acts, if the Land Commission comes along and wants to acquire his land he can quote that section. He can bring the matter to the attention of the Land Commissioners and show that, having regard to the amount of food supply in the country and the amount of unemployment, he is working his land properly. The point I want to come to is this: that when that was done it was done after a long debate here, in which Deputy MacDermot and others took part in 1933. We inserted that section to give increased security to a man in proportion to his improvements. The better he worked his land the more security he had. The more employment he gave and the more foodstuffs he produced, having regard to the interests of the country, the more secure he was in his holding. I say that that is the best possible security, because that is a security in conformity with the national interests. If we act upon any other principle in our legislation, somebody will come along and smash it when it is in the national interests to smash it. You will never get any generation that is prepared to see its wealth or its security endangered simply because Deputy Belton or Deputy Cosgrave wanted to have something in the Land Bill that would prevent the community from exercising its rights in regard to land.

Deputy Belton made no suggestion, but the Minister should have a competent Minister for Agriculture and then the land would be properly worked.

Nine-tenths of the land of this country is properly worked.

Then what do you want this for?

To deal with the other tenth.

Then why was it not worked years ago?

The land was better worked years ago than it is now, because the people were paid for working it, and the Deputy knows that.

He will not answer that though.

Deputy MacDermot raised a question which Deputy Davin raised again, and I explained my attitude fully on that. I do not propose to give Deputy Davin or the several Deputies on the Fine Gael Benches the monopoly of saying, by question in the Dáil, what land is to be acquired. Deputy MacDermot knows that the Minister for Lands has no power over the Land Commissioners in regard either to the acquisition or to the distribution of land.

According to law.

According to law? What does Deputy Cosgrave mean by that?

I mean what is the practice?

What exactly does Deputy Cosgrave mean by that?

What is the practice?

Is he suggesting that the Land Commission allow——

I am asking a question. What is the practice?

What is the suggestion? Deputy Cosgrave is an old politician. What is the suggestion?

What is the practice? It is a simple question, and can be answered just as simply.

Is the Deputy suggesting that the law is not being carried out?

I am asking a question.

But that is the suggestion. Remember, there are two people involved in this. I do not mind Deputy Cosgrave having a wallop at me. That is what I am here for; it is part of the game.

The Minister is in office only a month or so. Is not that so?

If you want to do anything in this country you have to go into public life and take any dirt that is thrown. But this law cuts both ways. Deputy Cosgrave should know what a law means. He was long enough in office, and he should know that when a law lays it down that certain people are to have discretion in its administration, that is carried out——

Is the Minister aware——

Sit down for a second now. If it is not carried out it requires collusion between two parties—between the Minister and the officials concerned.

Might I ask the Minister if he is aware that in Galway one of his colleagues declared that the Government was breaking up land at a great pace, and is it therefore agreed——

The Minister has not given way.

Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney is not going to drive me off my point, but Deputy Cosgrave should be thankful to him for the attempt. Deputy Cosgrave knows that if a law like the Land Act of 1933, reserving certain powers to the Land Commission, is to be broken, it would require collusion between the Minister and the Land Commissioners. Whatever his opinion is of me, I think he will have to admit that the officials of Government Departments generally and the officials of the Land Commission will carry out their work according to law. I think he should drop that sort of suggestion.

I have asked the Minister a question. He has not answered it, and he cannot answer it.

That is a repetition of the suggestion that the Land Commissioners and the Minister are in collusion in breaking the law. I think that Deputy Cosgrave, as ex-President, should have some sense of responsibility and should not make such a suggestion.

The Minister will not answer the question.

I will not answer that type of question.

Very good.

And the Deputy can now go down either to Galway or to Wexford and point that out. He can have that little point if he likes. I would not mind some of the backbenchers making that suggestion at the crossroads, but Deputy Cosgrave should not make it here. He should be a little above that. I think we have debated this section quite long enough. On Friday last I pointed out at length what is involved in it. It gives the Land Commission no more power than they sought in 1933. It is confirming the powers that they sought to obtain then. We acted under the 1933 Land Act for several years, and it was only quite recently that the Land Commission's activities under this particular clause which we are amending were held up. I think there is no one who can say that any great hardship was involved in its operation.

The Minister started to deal with Fianna Fáil clubs, and he got distracted. Has he anything more to say on that topic?

I want to tell the Minister quite frankly that I do not and never did claim any special privilege in regard to information from the Land Commission, either in writing or by questions in the House, in connection with the lands that are likely to be acquired. As a matter of fact, I have never put down a question in this House since I came here in 1922 unless I was satisfied that the matter dealt with in the question had been dragging on for a long period, and I was unable to get any information. I thought and I think that the only way to get proper information, after a lengthy period of correspondence, is to put down a question to the Minister responsible. I have been in the habit of doing that only in cases where I could not get satisfactory replies otherwise, and I shall continue to follow out that practice, whether the Minister likes it or not, so long as I remain a member of this House. I would act in the same manner concerning every other Department of State. That is what I was sent here for. I have taken the precaution, ever since I was elected a Deputy for my constituency, of always conveying in writing to every Department of State any complaints or requests that I have had to make and I have never gone to a Minister either of the last Government or of this Government—I do not chase Ministers around this House or around Government Buildings on matters of administration, attempting to waste their time—without having previously submitted my case in writing to the Department of State or the Minister concerned. I think that that is only acting in accordance with my rights and in accordance with businesslike procedure, and I can assure the Minister again that I am not going to ask for any special privileges either from the Minister himself or from any of his colleagues, any more than I asked for special privileges from any of the Ministers in the last Government.

I am not going to take up the time of the House by going into what Deputy MacDermot has said with regard to this particular section. I have intervened in the debate again on this section because of the attitude adopted by Deputy Belton. Deputy Belton is opposing the inclusion of this section in this Bill because, in his opinion, it is likely to destroy the security of land for loan purposes.

That is one reason.

That was the main argument put forward by Deputy Belton in his speech here on Friday last. I want to remind Deputy Belton—and I think he knows something of the constituency that I represent in this House—that after the passing of the 1923 Act there were very few farmers, either small farmers or large farmers, who were in a position to go into a bank and get a loan on the security of land. I have come across many farmers in my constituency who, if they had the working capital, would work their land better, not only in their own interest but in the national interest. When the Minister talks about farmers working the land in the national interest as well as in the interest of the occupiers of the land, I suggest that he should make further inquiries as to the difficulties in which hard-working farmers find themselves, in their efforts to produce more on their land, as a result of their failure to get cheap money. I know of cases of some of the best workmen—ploughmen and herds and other employees of estates that were divided in my area —who got holdings under the Act of 1923 and subsequent Acts, both from the previous Government and the present Government, who were unable to work their land to proper advantage simply because they could not get cheap money either from the banks or the Agricultural Credit Corporation or anybody else. If the Minister wants men to work their lands better in the national interest as well as in their own interest, he will have to devise some better machinery than the machinery already provided by the Agricultural Credit Corporation, or the banks of this country, to enable them to do so.

He will not do so under this section.

I am only trying, Sir, to convey the argument used by Deputy Belton.

And opening the door to a very wide debate.

And I am adverting to the point repeatedly made by the Minister for Lands, both inside and outside the House, that lands will be given to people who will work them in the national interest, and that they will be taken from those who will not work them in the national interest.

Could the Deputy or the Minister say what is the national interest?

I understand that the Minister for Lands paid a visit to Germany a year or two ago. I should like to know from the Minister whether or not, during the course of that visit, he made inquiries as to the conditions under which small landholders or small farmers are enabled to work their land in that country and in other countries. I know of no country where people are being given land and where they have to face the same kind of proposition as we have to face in this country. I know of a very big estate in my constituency that was divided by the late Government and where a number of small-holders there, who got portions of land and who were entitled to get portions of that land, had that land sublet to a grazier within a couple of years after they got the land—the explanation being that they were unable to work the land themselves because they had not the working capital to do so. I had a letter recently from a constituent of mine—a hard-working man—who got a portion of land on an estate in the County of Laoighis and who applied to the Agricultural Credit Corporation for a loan because, as he informed me, he was unable to pay his annuity or his rates without a loan. Loans at 6 per cent. per annum on the annuity basis are not the kind of thing to enable a man to work his land either in the national interest or in his own interest.

The question of credit facilities may not be debated on this section.

Perhaps, Sir, I might suggest that I am only going in greater detail into the very matter on which the Minister was allowed to touch during discussions on previous sections and in speeches he has delivered in the country, which I have read very carefully.

What the Minister said on previous sections or down the country has nothing to do with this section.

The Minister talked about working the land in the national interest, and I agree that it is desirable that the land should be worked in the national interest as well as in the interests of the people who are to get the land, and they will do it when the facilities for working the land are provided.

Will the Deputy or the Minister define what is the national interest?

Deputy Belton does not require an explanation about anything connected with land or its value or of the working of land. He is merely attempting to hold me up in this discussion by asking me to give my version of the national interest.

Is the production of beet at a wage of 18/- a week, as is being done in Deputy Davin's constituency, in the national interest?

That is not relevant.

I invite Deputy Belton to furnish me, privately if he likes, with the names of any beet-growing farmers who pay that rate of wages in my constituency. Although my constituency has tilled more land than most other constituencies, both in the good and bad times, that is not the correct rate of wages that the Deputy is quoting. I know that many of the beet growers there have not paid a rate of wages of less than 24/- a week.

I am sure that they are paying even as low as 16/-.

Let the Deputy furnish me with the names of people in my constituency who pay that low rate. The Deputy is making a point that does not affect my constituency. The Deputy, when looking for election for a Laoighis-Offaly constituency, came into contact with a peculiar type of farm at that particular period, and apparently he is using that type of experience to justify assertions of this kind in the House.

Would the Deputy get back to the section?

I could give the Deputy a lesson in farming, just as I could give him a lesson in winning elections —up-to-date. There is no use in talking about the water that went under the bridges 10 or 15 years ago. It is how the trick is done to-day that counts. I should like to know from the Minister what is the national interest, and who will be protected, and how will they know when they are working their land in the national interest? The best way to demonstrate to people how they are working the land in the national interest is when the national interest is brought into line with the individual interest of the farmer on the farm. That is the national interest. Any man who goes into business is not thinking of humanity in general but of how he will balance his own business accounts, and I repeat that it is the function of the Minister for Agriculture to formulate such an agricultural policy as will induce the farmer to follow that line of policy, because then he will be following it in his own interest and that will coincide with the national interest. The Minister for Agriculture who cannot do that is a failure. I disagree with the Minister in his statement that one-tenth of the farmers of this country misuse their land. That is absurd. Nobody misuses property which he is in a position to handle properly. Any apparent misuse of land there is in this country is due to some exceptional cause, and it is not necessary to destroy a great principle because one or two people here or there are foolish about their property. I agree with the Minister that this is not the first violation of this principle, but I think he will agree with me that this is widening the breach in this principle, and that is what I am against. The sooner the Minister tries to close up that breach, the better it will be for the country, because the security of a man in his holding is the greatest inducement he has to improve that holding and to farm it in a proper and husbandlike manner.

I would not again intervene in this debate were it not for a remark which fell from the Minister in the speech he made a moment ago. The Minister was definitely asked by Deputy Cosgrave whether in fact there was any interference by the Government with the work of the Land Commission. We know precisely the statutory position of the Land Commission. We know that so far as the purchase of holdings, the decision as to what holdings are to be purchased, and the division of holdings are concerned, these are reserved services, and that the Government have nothing to do with the way that work is being carried out. We ask is that a fact. Is the law being strictly obeyed? That is what we want to know, because if the law is being strictly obeyed I should like to know why members of the Executive Council go round the country declaring that the law is not being obeyed. I propose to quote from the Irish Independent of Monday, July 27th, a speech made last Sunday by Dr. Ryan, Minister for Agriculture, in Loughrea.

With reference to this section or to the general administration of the Land Commission?

With reference to what the Minister said about the administration of the Land Commission for the safeguarding of tenants. What the Minister said, as reported here, is:

"He claimed that in 1935 they had divided five times as much land as Fine Gael had in their best year, and he believed that at the rate at which they were going, they would divide all the land available in a short number of years and put the best people upon it."

There is a definite statement by a member of the Executive Council that it is the Executive Council that is purchasing land; that it is the Executive Council that is dividing land and putting the best people upon it. I think we have a fair idea of what is meant by "the best people." The Minister, however, in this House says that the law is being strictly obeyed and he says that the Government are not interfering with the distribution of land, with the acquisition of land or with putting the best people or any other people upon the land. You cannot have it both ways. One or the other thing is true. Either the statement which the Minister made in the House to-day is correct, or the statement which the Minister for Agriculture made in Loughrea is correct.

The Minister, it seemed to me, was rather hedging in his answer to the question put by Deputy Cosgrave, but let us have it clear and definite. Let us know whether the Government are interfering with the acquisition and division of land or not. If they are, they are breaking the law; if they are not, what is the meaning of a member of the Executive Council going around the country and stating definitely in Loughrea that they are interfering and taking credit for the breaking up and dividing of land when there is no credit on God's earth due to them, they being mere strangers to the transaction and having nothing on earth to do with it? The entire credit, praise or blame lies with the Land Commission. If the action is creditable, the credit is the Land Commission's; if the action is blameworthy, the blame must attach to the Land Commission. The Minister for Agriculture, however, tells us that quite the opposite is the case, and that the Government are taking credit for a thing with which they have as little to do as any Deputy in the House. The law is administered under the 1933 Act and Deputy Davin has as much to do with deciding what land is to be acquired, what land is to be divided, and who is to be put upon the land, as the Minister for Lands has. Let us know definitely from the Minister whether that statement by the Minister for Agriculture is justified in fact or whether the statement made repeatedly here, and more or less made in this discussion by the Minister himself, is correct.

I wonder whether the Minister thinks he has given an answer to the objections to this section which have come from different parts of the House. A case has been made against the section from these benches; we have all of Deputy Belton's Party opposing it, and we have 50 per cent. of Deputy MacDermot's Party opposing it. I admit that the other 50 per cent. seems to be in favour of it. How the two 50 per cents. are going to vote will be of some interest to the House.

They will not vote at all.

With a certain amount of hesitation before the final march is taken. The Minister spoke again of scares. Let him read over his own past statements, statements not of a Deputy going to become a Minister, but statements of, I presume, a responsible Minister, and ask himself whether there is anything more calculated to create scares than those statements coming from his own mouth. It was not with the Land Commission he threatened the people who did not work the land properly; it was they, the Government, who would take the land from the people if they did not work it properly. What is more calculated to create a scare, more calculated to create uneasiness, than an irresponsible—and that is the best that can be said about it—statement of that kind coming from a man in the position of the Minister? I admit that at the time he was not Minister for Lands; he is now, but I do not see in that respect any change of view on his part. He quoted the Act of 1923 and suggested that this is working out the same principle. Even if it were—and here I agree with Deputy Belton—if an inroad had been made into farmers' security it is no reason for widening the breach now. On the contrary, I think every effort ought to be made by the Government to do the opposite. It ought to be clear that the purpose of the various Land Purchase Acts was to make the farmers the owners of their lands, and so make them secure in that ownership. That was the primary purpose of them all and the Act of 1923, like all the others, did that. Once land was vested there was that security of ownership and any degree of insecurity or any sense of insecurity that might have been caused by certain provisions of that Act was limited strictly to a short period of operation. But here is a gate open to insecurity, not for one year but for all future years. Of course any future Minister can find quite as good a justification for land confiscation as the Minister here to-day if such a future Minister wants to pursue a policy of such confiscation.

Deputy MacDermot said that if there were 100 farmers who worked their land well and one who worked it badly that was no reason why that farmer who worked it badly should be left in possession of his land. It is a very good reason because of the damage you do to the other 100 by interfering with that one man, and that holds whether we take the proportion of one in a 100 of Deputy MacDermot or one in ten of the Minister when he said that nine-tenths of the land were being well and properly worked. If in order to try to prevent a few abuses you interfere with the security or sense of responsibility of farmers in general with the conviction that the farm belongs to them and is their very own nothing you do with the one-hundredth or the one-tenth can justify or repair the damage which you are going to do to the other ninety-nine-hundredths or nine-tenths. That is what the Minister does not seem to realise, that even if he can make a case for interfering with one-tenth he is violating a principle in reference to the whole land of Ireland, and he is doing a very great damage to farming, and a damage that must altogether outweigh the good that in a few cases he could possibly hope to get from this section. Once the farmer was vested the Land Act of 1923 made the land the property of the individual. I do not know if the Minister agrees with me in this or not, as he took good care not to indicate his views; but the land does not belong to the State but is the land of the individual. I do not think the Minister admits that. That is what the Minister is interfering with. He has made no case and has shown no justification for an extension of the powers he is claiming. Anyone who listened to the Minister's contribution to the debate should ask himself whether there was any case made by the Minister in favour of the extended powers he now seeks. This is damaging to a principle which ought to be sacred, even though in individual cases it might be thought better to have power to violate it. If that line of policy is pursued to violate sound principles because of individual abuses, the ground is being cut from under sound policy and there can be no sound Government. I fear that not merely in this case but in other things the Government is pursuing such an evil course. They think they are justified in violating a principle that is sound, and that experience has shown to be sound, by bringing forward one or two cases for which they hope the violation will be a remedy. No principle and no Government could last by a continuation of such policy.

The Minister referred to the scarcity of land as if that were a justification for the line he proposes to take or for the powers he is asking for the Land Commission under the section. Therein lies the danger of his policy— the scarcity of land and the corresponding land hunger. It is all very well for Deputy Davin and Deputy MacDermot to protest against the action of Fianna Fáil clubs and the pressure they bring to bear on the Land Commission. But as long as you adopt the policy outlined here and in the Act of 1933 these abuses— grave and unsettling though they be— must exist. How do you expect Fianna Fáil clubs to behave otherwise? Human nature will have to be, and Irish human nature particularly, changed very fundamentally if men are not to scramble for any land that can be divided. As long as there is this extended power of confiscation there will be increasing pressure brought to bear upon Ministers and the Land Commission year after year and Parliament after Parliament to make use of these powers. But notwithstanding what has been pointed out the Minister chooses to ignore these obvious dangers; anything he has stated, instead of allaying any fears we had, has only tended to increase and to multiply these fears.

The Minister read out a clause of the 1923 Act when replying, but he omitted to make any reference to this section. We know the Act that was passed in 1923, because at that time we happen to have been employed on it while the Minister was otherwise engaged. In sub-section (2) there is a reference to persons or bodies to whom land can be granted, and to whom, in the opinion of the Land Commission, an advance may be made. If the Minister were to eliminate that clause and to put in persons who have been evicted tenants one might reasonably have less suspicions with regard to this section, but when we get no statement from the Minister as to the reasons for the change which he intends to bring about in the Act of 1923, naturally we have a right to ask what it means. If he likes, the Minister can claim that even the Minister for Lands is not breaking the law. If, in practice, the law is not strictly adhered to he can make that claim. We asked questions and we are entitled to an answer. It is not an unreasonable request. If the Minister is unreasonably thin-skinned, and if the same thing happens in the case of Deputy MacDermot—I suppose this House has to put up with both of them—that is their misfortune, but it will not prevent us raising any question that we consider right or proper. As to this prima-donna attitude of assumed indignation, the Minister is quite welcome to that, but it does not give a satisfactory answer to questions. The Minister is paid by this State for answering for legislation introduced. He answers also as head of a Department. He happens to take up a line that was taken up by other Ministers and endeavours to put us in the dock. We had our period of office and we answered for our policy during that period. We are not in office now, and there is no use bringing up this Act or that Act or past policy for the purpose of objecting to criticism. We are tired of it.

If the Minister has anything to say for this section we are prepared to listen. We have heard nothing about the section, and we are not satisfied there is a case for taking a man out of a holding he has worked, and which has been in the occupation of his family, simply to transfer it to some other person or body that, in the opinion of the Land Commission, ought to get it. When speaking on this power of the State some years ago, Deputy O'Donovan, in dealing with the breaking up of land in County Meath and County Kildare, which had produced fat stock, pointed out the injury that was being done to small farmers who were being deprived of one of the competitors for their store cattle. Now we are in the position that we have practically buyers only in the English market, whereas formerly there were two competitors. There is the further case in connection with tillage, of which we hear so much and see so little, that those who did most tillage were engaged in fattening live stock. Owing to the policy of the Minister that trade is practically gone. That is the result of the so-called national policy of the Minister. It is humbug and nonsense to talk of the Government having to interfere with every man and with practically every business in order to improve it. We were asked 12 months ago what the previous Government had done for bloodstock during their ten years of office. Nothing, because nothing need be done for it. We did not interfere with it. We did not do it any damage. It progressed and developed and brought money to the country then.

We are told that the Government were going to set up a Commission. That is the common policy, to have a Commission to interfere with and to improve everything. Anything the Government interfered with they damaged, and, in my experience, that entails greater cost on the people who, unfortunately, have to pay.

I have to thank the Minister for making clear in my mind what the whole thing is.

Has the Deputy a right to speak five times?

As often as he likes on the Committee Stage.

The Minister made my mind clear on one point, that the farmer is actually secure in his land as long as he can make the case that there is no congestion in the district, that he is working his land in a proper manner, that it is being worked in the national interest, and that he is giving a proper amount of employment in accordance with the Minister's standard of what that should be. If he fails on one of these grounds, the Minister can fall back on another. If the man relies on the congestion point and can prove his case, the Land Commission can say: "You are not working your land in the way we think it ought to be worked." Again, if they fail on that plea, they can fall back on some other of the conditions. I leave it to the House whether that will make for stable conditions, whether or not any Minister could not find a loophole within these four conditions for taking land off any man he wishes.

It does not appear to me that this section is necessary to enable the Land Commission to speed up the acquisition and division of land, and I should like to be satisfied that it is absolutely necessary before I could vote for it. I do not know whether the Minister will accuse me of creating scares, but I think, speaking as a Deputy representing a county composed mostly of ex-farmers, men who work hard to make the best of their land, the least they can expect is security. All this talk about scares is all very well, but if the Minister will go back a few years he will find that he created some scares himself. As Deputy Cosgrave has pointed out, we, as representatives of the people, are entitled to ask any questions so long as these questions are relevant to the debate. We make no apology for asking these questions. I cannot see why the farming community should be made cinderellas or cockshots for every Tom, Dick and Harry throughout the country, or some person who occupies a position in the local Fianna Fáil club, some useless type of individual who desires power through this section and through political influence to take the land of certain farmers in the country. I cannot see why farmers should not be entitled to as much security as any other section in the community. Some rather flippant references have been made to this matter by Deputy MacDermot and Deputy Davin. It strikes me that the sooner they join the ranks of the advanced Socialists in this country the better for themselves, because we will then know where they stand. Is a farmer not as much entitled to security in his holding as, say, a tenant who builds a house and secures an advance to finance the building of it under the Small Dwellings Acquisition Act? What is the difference? Men who are thrifty and who want to establish homes of their own apply through the various councils and corporations for loans under the Small Dwellings Acquisition Act. These loans are repaid by them over a period of 20 to 35 years, much in the same way as the farmer has been repaying in annuities the purchase price of his holding. I cannot understand why anyone in this country should say to a man who has not too big a family: "You have a small family and I have nine or ten. I give you notice now to clear out of your house in order to relieve the congestion in my family." Where are you going to draw the line? I think a very wrong principle is enshrined in this Bill, especially when one considers the standard of morality that prevails in this and many other countries at present. We know the mentality that prevails in this country owing to the type of speeches that are being made at cross-roads by members of Fianna Fáil and, I am sorry to say, also by members of the Labour Party.

And by Deputy MacDermot.

They will not hesitate to say anything if they think that by saying it they will advance their own prospects. I should like to warn the Minister and the Government that they are embarking on a very dangerous policy by the introduction of this section. As Deputy Dillon stated, there are men in this country who fought for their land—some of them died for their land—and they are to be found here still. They will not carry on the fight from behind a stone wall like some members of the Fianna Fáil Party: they will do it in a manly, open way. We make no apology to the Minister for opposing this section, and no talk about creating scares will make us withdraw that opposition. The Minister cannot accuse me of creating scares; I am out for honest and straight dealing between man and man. I, for one, will not agree to any section that will endanger fixity of tenure so long enjoyed by the farmers of this country, and which was fought for by the leaders of the people 40 or 50 years ago. It is all very well for the Minister to state: "I have no intention of doing this, that or any other thing." If he has not, why seek the power? Why not leave the law as it stands at the moment? Is the machinery which the Land Commission at present commands not sufficient to enable it to carry out its duties? As far as I can learn, the Land Commission is very efficient at the present time and is doing its duty very well in the acquisition and division of estates for the last nine or ten years. It is doing its duty in a way which meets with the approval of all decent people, but of course there are certain elements who think the Land Commission is not going fast enough and who want to confiscate the property of their neighbours. That is a dangerous proposal and one which the Government should be very slow to adopt.

I say, as representing a county which, as the Minister knows, has given very little trouble on this whole question, that the farmers of that county want to be left alone. They want to feel secure so long as they are able to pay their annuities and rates, and no man has a right to take their holdings from them. All this talk about using land in the national interest has a very nice sound. It is frequently used by men who to my own knowledge were never able to do an honest day's work or earn an honest penny in their lives. They talk about national interests! That is a fine phrase, but it is a very dangerous one at present. I would warn the Government to be very careful in using the powers which they seek in this Bill. It must be admitted that the farmers of this country are the most hardworking section of the community, men who have to be up early and late at night, eking out a livelihood under very unfavourable conditions. The least they should get is fixity of tenure in their little holdings. I certainly say that we, members of the Opposition, are quite entitled to ask every question we think is relevant to this section in the interests of the people we represent, people whose interests we are supposed to protect in this House.

I do deprecate the attitude taken up by the Minister—that sort of sneering attitude, as much as to say: "Sit down and do not annoy us". We are here to look after the business of the people who sent us here and it would be well if the Minister and those associated with him would take heed of what we, Deputies in Opposition, have got to say. I am not one of those who believe in saying things for the mere sake of saying them or who believe in making use of words to wound or hurt anybody. However, knowing the condition of affairs at the moment, I think it would be very unwise for the Government to proceed with this section—a section which, in my humble opinion, has created a great deal of alarm amongst many decent members of the farming community. Those men are not confined to supporters of the Opposition. Many farmers in the ranks of Fianna Fáil are just as much alarmed about this section as farmers in the opposite camp. There is general alarm regarding this Bill in so far as it affects fixity of tenure and I hope the Government will hasten very slowly in connection with the exceptional powers they are taking for the acquisition and division of land.

Question put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 38; Níl, 19.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Cooney, Eamon.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Daly, Denis.
  • Davin, William.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • Dowdall, Thomas P.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • O Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pattison, James P.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.


  • Beckett, James Walter.
  • Belton, Patrick.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Burke, James Michael.
  • Byrne, Alfred.
  • Coburn, James.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Costello, John Aloysius.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Keating, John.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • McGuire, James Ivan.
  • Morrisroe, James.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Redmond, Bridget Mary.
  • Roddy, Martin.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Smith and T. Crowley; Níl: Deputies Doyle and Bennett.
Question declared carried.
Section 36, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Question proposed: "That Section 37 stand part of the Bill."

I should like to know from the Minister what is the object of this section. I have always held that Ireland had a great potential asset in its shooting rights, which are not being developed now at all. I should like to know if the Minister, in passing this section, is considering the question of the development of Ireland's fishing and shooting rights. It seems to me to be rather the other way. I should like to hear the Minister's views on this matter.

In the 1923 Act the Minister had power to vest the sporting rights in the tenants. In this section the Minister is taking power to vest the sporting rights similarly in the tenants. There are many estates in the country in which the sporting rights are very valuable, but if they are divided up amongst a big number of tenants they will become valueless in the course of time. The Government, like its predecessor in office, is doing its utmost to develop the tourist traffic in this country. One of the amenities which has appealed so much to people who visit Ireland is the very fine fishing and shooting there is in the country. Now, if the Minister vests the sporting rights in the tenants he will find in a very short time that these sporting rights will be of no value at all. I understand that in England it is quite customary in many counties for a number of farmers to co-operate for the purpose of developing the sporting rights in their holdings, and they lease these sporting rights for very large sums of money to people who can afford to indulge in sport. If the same thing were done in this country it would be the means of attracting large numbers of people and adding substantially to the income of the farmers and others. I agree that where the Land Commission is satisfied that the sporting rights should vest in the tenants they should so vest. Nevertheless there is danger that the power which the Land Commission is seeking in this section may be exercised indiscriminately and, as a result, very valuable sporting properties may be destroyed in the course of time.

I notice that the draftsman does not agree with the Minister about the meaning of the words "national interest" because he has substituted for these words the words "that it would be for the benefit of the country". The section now reads in effect that the sporting rights on or over such land should be acquired by the Land Commission and be vested in the proprietor of the said lands for the benefit of the country, if the lay commissioners are of opinion that that was desirable.

Before the Minister replies I want to say that I feel in much the same position about this section as does Deputy Roddy. While one cannot offer any great objection to vesting sporting rights in the tenants, still one can see the danger, so far as sporting rights generally in the country are concerned, if certain estates hitherto exempted are interfered with. A good many people are aware of the value of the Irish sporting rights if they are properly developed. The mountain ranges, particularly, would be of immense benefit and would bring in national revenue if properly administered as they ought to be. Under previous Acts, the Land Commission themselves came into possession of certain lands on which were valuable sporting rights. I for one think it would be better if that were continued. Deputy Roddy referred, a moment ago, to the practice in England of the tenants uniting and stocking a large estate with game. The same sort of thing might be done in this country. If a number of mountain holders would organise for the development of a mountain range, and stock it with game, they could make it into such a very valuable property as has been developed elsewhere. The mountain could be made a more valuable property in that way, perhaps, than in any other way. That is to say, if turned into a shooting tract, it could be leased for a very valuable sum. In addition to that, there are the benefits that it would bring people to the country. I think it would be all to the good if the Land Commission took over certain lands and held the sporting rights themselves.

One would think that when the Land Commission take over estates on which are shooting rights, they would set an example to the farmers of the country by making an effort to develop the sporting rights of these lands. There is no doubt that this development would add considerably to the value of these lands. I suggest that the Land Commission should, as an experiment at least, take up one or two estates and develop them to the fullest extent. They are in a position to do so, for they could put in experts to develop these sporting rights and spend money on their development. In that way they would prove to everybody possessing similar sporting rights that there was money in such an enterprise. I do think that the Land Commission would be well advised to take up and hold the sporting rights which they do possess. We sometimes see advertisements in the Press from the Land Commission offering shooting rights. I know these shooting rights are not at present as developed as they ought to be by such a body as the Land Commission. I am sure if the Land Commission came to this House to ask for money to develop mountain land as an example to the countryside, they would get the money to develop the land in a manner that would be an asset to the country. Such development would also bring money to the country; wealthy people would come here for their fishing and shooting just as they go to Scotland and other countries now. That is all I have to say on this question. I do hope my suggestion will be accepted by the Minister. In this way the Land Commission would be able to demonstrate to the small holders the value of properly developing shooting property.

It is interesting to note the objection of certain Opposition Deputies to the vesting of sporting rights in the tenants. This section gives the Land Commission power, whenever they think it right, to acquire sporting rights and sell them to the occupiers of land. Now, Deputy Bennett objects to that——

What I said was that it would be hard to object in principle to it. I do not object to that, but I prefer the line I have suggested. I hope I have made myself clear.

I think this is the best procedure. If we want the sporting rights developed, that development will have to be done by the men who own the land co-operating to do so under the direction of the Minister for Agriculture, the Minister for Justice, or some other Minister who may be appointed for that purpose. Certainly the Land Commission is not the ideal department for organising these cooperatives. The Land Commission find that they cannot operate or work the sporting rights vested in them under the 1923 Act, and wherever they can get tenants to pay the Land Commission what they paid for them they are prepared to vest them in the tenants. When all is said and done, I think it is the best procedure. It can be followed by the organising of sporting co-operatives, who will take steps to enhance the value of the shooting.

I disagree with one thing the Minister said, that the Land Commission is not the Department under which the development of shooting should be put. I am inclined to think that the Land Commission is the very best Department for developing shooting. The Minister, no doubt, recollects that I introduced a Game Bill some years ago which I had great hopes would lead to a great extension of game in this country, but I do not think it has had the good effect which I had hoped it would have. But I considered the matter, and I came to the conclusion that the one Department in the State that could not run or develop a shooting was the Department of Justice, because it has no outside staff at all. The Department of Justice simply could not touch shooting. I think the Land Commission would be the best Department for the purpose.

I think the Land Commission has spent money already for the purpose of stocking certain areas with game. I agree with Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney that it is still within the province of the Land Commission to spend money for such a purpose. I do not object to the vesting of the sporting rights in the tenants, and I made that clear in my speech, but I want this safeguard, that the Land Commission should be satisfied first of all when the sporting rights are so vested that they will be preserved or developed by the tenants, especially on estates where such rights are of real value. There are many estates where the sporting rights are of real value and where they are a real attraction to visitors. In these circumstances, I hold it is the duty of the Land Commission to see that such sporting rights are safeguarded and developed to the utmost possible extent. I submit that it is the duty of the Land Commission to see, where sporting rights are vested in the tenants, that these tenants do co-operate for the purpose of developing and preserving those sporting rights, just as is being done in England by bodies of farmers in various counties, by developing the sporting rights to the utmost possible extent and letting those sporting rights afterwards for the season to wealthy people who can pay for the privilege of indulging in such sport. After all, it is possible by the proper utilisation of our sporting rights to reap quite a big income and it is possible also, for the farmers who take the trouble to co-operate for such a purpose, to add very substantially to the income which they normally derive from the management and cultivation of their farms.

Question put and agreed to.
(2) The foregoing sub-section shall have effect in relation to any land notwithstanding any determination before the passing of this Act that sub-section (1) of Section 24 of the Land Act, 1923, did not apply to such land.

I move amendment No. 54:—

In sub-section (1), page 17, to add at the end of the sub-section the following word and new paragraph—


(f) any land not exceeding thirty acres which was, within five years before the institution of proceedings in relation thereto under the Land Purchase Acts, acquired for the purpose of being used and occupied as a glebe within the meaning of the Glebe Lands, Representative Church Body, Ireland, Act, 1875, and is, at the time of the institution of such proceedings, used and occupied as such glebe.

This is to bring in glebe lands which have been purchased prior to the institution of the proceedings and give them the same protection as the old glebe lands.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 55:—

In sub-section (2), page 17, lines 53 and 54, to delete the words "The foregoing sub-section shall have effect in relation to any land notwithstanding" and substitute the following words—

The following provisions shall have effect in relation to the application of the foregoing sub-section of this section to any land, that is to say—

(a) regard shall be had to the actual user or character of such land, whether such user or character is or is not a contravention of a covenant, condition, or agreement, and

(b) no regard shall be had to.

This is an amendment which I propose to amend on the Report Stage. It is designed to prevent a landlord objecting to the purchase of land on account of an old contract if he has, in fact, acquiesced in a breach of that contract. Where the holding was a residential holding, and by the terms of the lease has been set as a residential holding, if, in fact, it has been used as a farm with the landlord's knowledge and consent, we do not want the actual words of the lease to prevent the tenant from getting the benefit of the Land Purchase Acts.

I am very glad to hear what the Minister has said about his intention of altering this, because as this amendment stood it is really a terrible amendment. I meant to say some very strong things upon it, because it is the very worst form of retrospection and, at the same time, it is putting a premium upon a man doing what he undertakes not to do—breaking a covenant. The Minister's statement has shown that, at any rate, he is not sticking very firmly to the amendment and, therefore, the best course for me to adopt will be to keep quiet until such time as I see the revised form. I ask the Minister to make the revised form of amendment as unlike the present amendment as he possibly can.

Is the Minister withdrawing the amendment?

No. We will bring in a further amendment on the Report Stage.

Amendment put and agreed to.
Section 38, as amended, agreed to.
Amendment No. 56 not moved.
Question proposed: "That Section 39 stand part of the Bill."

It appears to me that this section introduces a new principle, in that if there is any holding subject to any of the exceptions mentioned in the previous section which prevents the land vesting in the Land Commission, then the Land Commission may, if they deem it so expedient, divide the holding into separate holdings and apportion the rent accordingly. In one sense this section appears to me to be an impossible section. Take a case such as this. If a house or a mansion stands on an area of land of about 30 acres, then the Land Commission have power under the section to separate the house from the land and by doing so they are inflicting serious injury on the owner of the property because the value of the house is considerably lessened by the fact that it is so separated from the land. Then again the property may comprise a fishery in addition to land and, under this section, the Land Commission will have power to separate the land from the fishery and, to that extent, of course they will depreciate the value of both.

I do not quite know why this section is being introduced, because it appears to me that, under existing legislation, the Minister had adequate powers to deal with the matter which he is apparently attempting to deal with in this section. I hold furthermore, because of the power he is seeking to give the Land Commission under this section, that there certainly should be a right of appeal beyond the Appeal Tribunal. As I have said, this is introducing a new principle altogether, a principle which has not appeared in any legislation up to the present, so far as I can ascertain. I would be glad to hear the Minister's explanation of the section, and the reason for introducing it in this Bill.

I think that where a man was working land as an ordinary farmer, and where he was the tenant of a superior landlord, it was the intention under the Land Acts to enable him to purchase out his holding and to make repayments in the form of an annuity. Where the Land Commission are satisfied that a man is living on a small residential holding, with a large portion of land attached to it, they are taking power to allow in that portion of the holding that is being used in accordance with ordinary methods of husbandry, and to give the tenant the benefits of the Land Acts. I think that, in this particular case, the landlord has no real right to object if the tenant is using this land in the way that neighbouring farmers are using theirs. The section is designed to enable a division to be made between the residential part of the holding and the agricultural part, and, further, to enable the Land Commission to give the benefit of being able to purchase to the tenant.

Surely there cannot be a residential holding of any size, part of which is not agricultural. Suppose I let a house with a garden of, say, one acre, attached to it. That is agricultural, because the garden is being used as an ordinary garden. Are we, for instance, going to have people all around the suburbs of Dublin purchasing the gardens and not remaining on in the houses? What is proposed in this section seems to me to be a rather novel and strange procedure. Suppose there is a house in Ailesbury Road with an acre of a garden attached to it, and that the garden is being tilled in the ordinary way. Can a person come along and get a price put on the garden and become the fee simple owner of it although he only remains as tenant in the house for quite a short period? Suppose I let my house with a couple of acres of a garden attached to it? The fee simple of that garden may be acquired by the person to whom I have let the house. When the period of the letting is up, I am to have the house surrendered to me without the garden and without any of its amenities.

The Deputy should note that the word used here is agricultural and not horticultural.

Any garden may be described as agricultural.

We are not talking about gardens, but about farms. In administering this section the Land Commission will have power to use their discretion.

Would the Minister give the House a concrete example? I take it that some real case has arisen which the Land Commission have in their mind. If the Minister would tell us something about that particular case, we would probably understand the reason for this section.

I have already endeavoured to do so. Where a portion of agricultural land, which the Land Commission are satisfied is being worked in the normal way by an ordinary farmer for the purpose of making a living out of it, is held in conjunction with a purely residential holding, or with some incorporeal hereditament such as sporting rights or fisheries, and where the Land Commission cannot say that the whole is subject to purchase under the Land Purchase Acts, they want to have power to take out that portion of the land which is used as an ordinary farm and to give the tenant, if he is an ordinary farmer, the benefit of the Land Purchase Acts.

The Minister's statement bears out exactly what I said a moment ago. In the case of a mansion standing on 30 acres of land, power is being taken under this section to separate the land from the house. Because, in the opinion of the lay commissioners, the 30 acres of land are being tilled and worked according to the ordinary methods of husbandry, they are to have the power to segregate that land from the house. Surely the Minister realises that in doing that he is inflicting injury on the owner of the house. He is reducing its capital value and reducing considerably its saleable value. It seems to me that this section can be applied to a number of other houses all over the country, even houses on estates that have been already acquired by the Land Commission. As the Minister knows, it was customary in the past to leave a certain acreage of land with these houses for the purpose of making them saleable propositions. Under this section the Minister will have power to segregate the land from the house, and to apportion one rent on the land and another on the house, with the result that it will be quite impossible for the owner to dispose of the house, because in order to make it a saleable proposition it would be necessary to have some land going with it. It seems to me that this is a section that will lend itself to grave abuses. It will inflict serious hardship on owners of property all over the country. I do not believe in giving the Land Commission discretion in this matter. I am sure that, in introducing this section, the Land Commission must have some particular case in mind. Like Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney, I would like to have some particulars of it from the Minister, so that we may get to know what the real intention of the Land Commission is in bringing forward this section.

I have endeavoured to explain as clearly as I could the purpose of this section. It is designed in the interests of certain tenants who up to this have been deprived of the benefits of the Land Purchase Acts, because the land which they hold and have been working in the ordinary agricultural manner, has been held in conjunction with, say, a large residence or with some incorporeal hereditament like fisheries or sporting rights. The Land Commission want to be able to segregate the two, and to be able to give the tenant the benefit of purchase in regard to the land that he holds and works in the ordinary normal way as agricultural land.

Is this the type of case that Deputy Haslett proposed to deal with in his amendment?

The Minister, I submit, has not made himself clear as to the purpose of this section, and I think he should quote a typical example to the House.

On one particular holding that the Land Commission dealt with there was a residence which had been let at £100 a year. The rest of it was used as a normal agricultural farm. The Land Commission wanted to allow in the agricultural portion the owner was living on. There was another case, where there was a holding of 200 acres, of which 50 acres was let with a large house on it. The remaining 150 acres were being used by the tenant as an ordinary agricultural farm. They wanted to allow in that portion. The Deputy will remember that in 1933 we took power to let in ordinary residential holdings that were being used as farms. This section is taking power to make a segregation.

Sections 39 and 40 agreed to.
The following provisions shall have effect in relation to applications under Section 44 of the Land Act, 1931 (as amended by Section 42 of the Land Act, 1933, and by this Act), that is to say:—
(a) whenever, on any such application, it appears to the Land Commission—
(i) that a portion only of the parcel to which such application relates is required for the relief of congestion or for the purpose of resale under the powers conferred on the Land Commission by Section 32 of the Land Act, 1931, or
(e) sub-section (1) of Section 42 of the Land Act, 1933, is hereby amended by substituting the words "the appointed day" for the words "the date of the lodgment of the application under that section";

Mr. Lynch

I move amendment No. 57:—

Before paragraph (a) to insert a new paragraph as follows:—

"Whenever on any such application it appears to the Land Commission that the lands are not in the bona fide occupation of the applicant and are not being used by him as an ordinary farmer by reason of the fact that a mortgagee or court has appointed a receiver over the lands and over the rents and profits thereof the Land Commission may grant such application notwithstanding the fact that the applicant is not in bona fide occupation and is not using the lands as an ordinary farmer."

The object of the amendment is to bring within the scope of the Land Acts the class of person who is excluded at the moment and excluded really to his own misfortune. I refer now to persons who were fee farm grantees or lessees on long leases and who, in the ordinary course of events, would come within the provisions of Section 44 of the Land Act of 1931. They are excluded because they are not in a position to comply with the conditions set out. For instance, they are not in bona fide occupation and they are not working the farms in ordinary manner of husbandry because they have been put out of possession. They have fallen on evil days and have mortgaged their lands. The banks have gone into possession or a receiver has been appointed. They are, therefore, not in occupation, and they are not working the land. The receiver probably sets the land and, as far as I can see, neither the receiver nor the bank nor the fee farm grantee or lessee can make application.

It appears to be rather hard lines on a man who has fallen into misfortune. He sees all his better-off neighbours who, perhaps, got grants from the same head landlord, deriving benefits under the Land Acts. He sees the fee farm grantees beside him receiving substantial reductions of the amounts they are paying. The type of man I am referring to is one who, up to the time the bank went into possession or the receiver was appointed, was working the farm as a farmer. Being now out of occupation, he is not working the farm. It is a bad situation both for the bank and the man himself. The bank people are in the position that if they set the holding, whatever they get by way of rent will all be eaten up in paying the old fee farm rent or the rent reserved by the lease; whereas if they could bring the land within the terms of the Land Acts they would have such reduction as perhaps might leave something over from the grazing rent to pay off the mortgage eventually or contribute in some way to pay it off.

The bank and the fee farm grantee or lessee would stand to gain if they could be brought within the terms of the Land Acts. A great deal could be said for the making of provision to meet this type of case. It seems inequitable that a man, merely because he has fallen on evil days, should be precluded from benefit.

I feel inclined to agree with Deputy Lynch. I am having his amendment examined. I might mention that under portion of Section 41 we are taking almost a similar power. If the Deputy will leave the matter over until the Report Stage, I will then bring in an amendment which will cover his point.

Mr. Lynch

Very good.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 58:—

In paragraph (a), page 18, to delete sub-paragraph (i).

This is merely a drafting amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 59:—

In paragraph (e), page 19, line 46, to delete the figure and brackets "(1)" and substitute the figure and brackets "(7)".

This also is a drafting amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

On behalf of Deputy Haslett, I move amendment No. 60:—

Before paragraph (j), in page 20, to insert the following paragraph:—

A holding of untenanted land held under fee farm grant, or lease for lives, or years renewable for ever, or a lease for a term of years of which 60 or more were unexpired at the date of the passing of the Land Act, 1923, and which is and was during the whole of the five years next before the institution of proceedings in relation thereto under the Land Purchase Acts substantially agricultural and pastoral, and worked in accordance with the ordinary methods of husbandry, shall not be excluded from the provisions of the Land Act, 1923, and of Acts amending and extending that Act, in virtue of which lands are vested in the Land Commission as tenanted lands on the appointed day by reason only that the said parcel is or is held in connection with a demesne, home farm, park or garden.

I do not think there are many cases to which this amendment will apply. I think the Minister is familiar with the case Deputy Haslett would put up. I understand there are certain cases in which the landowner, having sold his land to his tenants, retains for his own use certain lands which were subject to rents on long leases. Because these are adjacent to his demesne and are worked in conjunction with it, he cannot enjoy the benefits the Land Acts give. The intention of the amendment is that such land held under long lease should get benefits similar to those given to the ordinary farm.

I intend to introduce an amendment on the Report Stage which will cover Deputy Haslett's point. This amendment is not correctly drafted, but I will bring another amendment on the Report Stage which will cover the point.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 41, as amended, agreed to.

I move amendment No. 61:—

Before Section 42, page 20, to insert a new section as follows:—

(1) Every attempted sub-division or sub-letting of a holding in contravention of Section 3 of the Land Act, 1927, shall be void as against all persons.

(2) The prohibition contained in sub-section (1) of Section 4 of the Land Act, 1927, against letting a holding or parcel to which that sub-section applies without the consent of the Land Commission shall extend to the letting of a part of any such holding or parcel without the consent of the Land Commission, and the provisions of the said sub-section avoiding an attempted letting and empowering the Land Commission to cause the holding or parcel to be sold shall extend and apply accordingly.

This new section is one that was suggested by the late Deputy Hogan in the last communication that was got from him in connection with the Land Bill. It seeks to cover certain cases of sub-letting and to bring land purchased before the 1923 Act into line with what was done under the 1923 Act in regard to the prohibiting of sub-division. The position with regard to land purchased prior to 1923 was that sub-division was prohibited pending the redemption of the annuities and whereas the whole of the lands were prevented from being sub-divided, portion of them could be sub-divided. We want to bring the different aspects into line.

Amendment agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 42 as amended stand part of the Bill."

I should like to be clear as to the meaning of this section. I think it means that drainage maintenance charges are to come under the purchase money of any lands. If that is so I have some objection to it. I think that would not be fair, where drainage charges were incurred with the idea of having a gradual benefit extending over a number of years, and where it was not anticipated that they would have to be paid within a year or two, but that there would be a gradual payment over 25 or 30 years. The benefits would not be immediate either; they also would extend over a number of years. In that case if a man's land were taken from him under the compulsory powers of the Act, it would not be fair to mulct him in the full value of the maintenance charge out of the purchase money. It would not, to my mind, be fair to mulct him in regard to a charge for benefits which would continue over a number of years after the land was taken from him.

This section is not designed to make the owner pay for ordinary drainage maintenance charges for the upkeep of a drainage system, but is meant to deal with the repayment of old capital sums which were spent and which are really portion of the improvement of the lands. It has always been the practice of the Land Commission to make a resumed owner redeem those old charges in the same way as they made him redeem the land annuity; as a matter of fact they are portion of the annuity that he has paid on his land. It is not intended that the resumed owner is to redeem the ordinary maintenance rate that is put on the land.

I am glad the Minister says that the ordinary maintenance charge is not included, but I should like to know whether this section includes charges made under the Act of 1924, giving power to go in under old Drainage Acts to do reconstruction work? Would that be included in this section?

The Acts of 1886 and 1924 would be included.

From my own observation I know of lands which were redrained under the 1924 Act. Work which was tantamount to a new drainage system was carried out, and maintenance charges were afterwards assessed. That, to my mind, is in practically the same position as a new drainage system. The work was done under the powers of the old Drainage Act of 1886. There is even a worse aspect of the matter here. In the case of a new drainage scheme a man goes in with his eyes open; he has power to object to it or not, as the case may be. But in regard to this section, when this drainage was done he had not even that power. The authorities stepped in and did the work without giving him the opportunity of saying "yea" or "nay." I think it would be unfair in that case to mulct him for the whole expenses of redraining, the benefits of which will run on for the next 20 or 25 years.

I am not altogether clear about the meaning of this section, but to a certain extent I agree with Deputy Bennett that it does seem unfair on the face of it to mulct a tenant in the full amount of the drainage maintenance rate. It seems to me that, in equity, the landlord should be mulcted in a proportion of it out of the purchase money, because he derived a benefit, and it is probable that the tenant paid him a certain rent for whatever drainage work was done on a particular estate. In those circumstances, I think it is altogether unfair that the tenant should have to redeem the full amount of the maintenance rate when he may be getting a benefit only for a year or two or three years. The landlord may have derived the major benefit from it.

There are two subsections, (a) and (b). In the case of land which vested in the Land Commission under Section 24 of the 1923 Act, under sub-section (a) the landlord has to redeem those old charges. If it is a resumption case, under sub-section (b) the tenant has to do it. This has always been the practice of the Land Commission, but a question which recently arose made it necessary to introduce this.

Under sub-head (a), the owner of the estate will have to bear the cost of redemption?

The point I wanted to make clear is that there seems to be a different position in regard to two drainage systems. In my own county we had several drainage systems within the last few years, and the maintenance and other charges will probably go on for 35 years. I understand from the Minister that this section does not apply to those ordinary drainage systems, but it does apply to the renewal of old drainages under the 1924 Act. There were three or four such cases in my county, and the tenants concerned did not know anything about the drainage until it had taken place. They were given no opportunity of objecting to it. The authorities just stepped in and reconstructed an old drainage system, the cost involved being just as much as would be incurred in the case of a new drainage system. There was a little bit of objection to the charges afterwards, but they had to pay them, and they will run on for a great number of years. There may be a lot of other cases of the same nature all over the State, and it may be that one of those holdings will be resumed. To my mind it would be just as unfair to make a tenant pay, out of his purchase money, the cost of that drainage system as it would be of any other. Deputy Roddy talked about the landlord. Unfortunately, in those particular cases there is no landlord, or in the future there will be very few landlords, and it will be the tenant himself who will suffer under this particular clause. I want to point out that to my mind it is unfair that one drainage system should be exempt while another is not.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 43 and the Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.

I want to announce that I am bringing in on the Report Stage a new section, which we had not time to get drafted for the Committee Stage, dealing with tenancies created since 1923. We are giving to the tenants the power and the right to purchase, and giving to the Land Commission the right to advance moneys for that purpose. Also, owing to the short time which we had in dealing with this Bill, there will be a number of drafting amendments on the Report Stage.

When will the Report Stage be taken?

On next Tuesday or Wednesday.

I would ask the Minister to give us as much time as possible. I want to bring in a number of amendments, and I am sure that other members will also want to bring in amendments. We should like to have adequate time to consider them. I would suggest leaving the Report Stage over until Wednesday or Thursday of next week.

Say Wednesday.

Report Stage fixed for Wednesday 5th August.