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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 27 Apr 1938

Vol. 71 No. 1

Committee on Finance. - Vote 54—Lands (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following motion:—
That the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration:—(Deputy Davin).

A Leas-Chinn Chomhairle, the debate on this Estimate has been mainly confined to the question of the acquisition and distribution of lands. I propose to refer in a somewhat different manner to those particular questions. First of all, I should like if I could possibly get from the Minister a declaration as to what exactly is the policy of the Government in regard to the holding of land. I want to know if it is the definite policy of the Government to create a State ownership in land, and if there is to be any definite guarantee either in title or ownership to the present possessors of land in this State. Various Ministers have repeatedly stated in this House that neither the title nor the ownership of a farmer in his land was in jeopardy. There are evidences everywhere that this is not so. In fact, one might put it this way: the Act of 1933 was passed through this House under false pretences. There was reiteration after reiteration by Ministers in the course of that debate, and by Ministers in other places outside this House in reference to that Act, that there was neither intention nor desire on the part of the Government to put any decent farmer holder out of his land, to disturb his title in any way, or to make his holding in any way less valuable. During the last four or five years since the operation of that Act we have had numerous instances of what practically amounts to eviction. We have had cases which if they had happened in the remote days of the Land League agitation would have brought about in many places even serious breaches of the peace. A position has arisen where no farmer feels absolutely safe in the possession of his holding. Certainly no farmer feels that if he were to purchase a farm he would be allowed to hold it. In fact, some farmers feel that if they offered a farm for sale the mere fact of their offering it for sale would be ipso facto offering it to the Government for division because they feel that the Government would in such circumstances step in and take the land. They are justified in those fears, because that is what is happening all over the country. Not alone have the Government disturbed the title and ownership of land, but they have decreased the value of land out of all proportion to what it was. No man of any sense is going to give any real value for a farm when a doubt remains in his mind that, having purchased it, it will probably be acquired by the Government for distribution in a short time. There are at the moment, I think, 180 inspectors of the Land Commission perambulating throughout this State inspecting various farmers' lands, and notifying them in some cases that there was an intention to inquire into the possibility, if not the probability, of acquiring their lands for distribution. While those 180 gentlemen are let loose over this State making those inquiries, how I ask you is any farmer to feel sure that he is free to go about his ordinary business, and that he is going to be left undisturbed? He cannot do so, and every Deputy realises that he cannot do so.

To-day I asked the Minister a question about the acquisition of a holding in my county. I asked whether it was the intention of the Land Commission to acquire a certain holding, and the Minister said it was being considered whether or not it would be desirable to acquire this holding. Why should it be considered? This is a holding in the mountainy part of my county. It was bought within the last 12 months by a neighbouring farmer, who has himself a large family, five of them being sons. I do not know how many daughters he has, but he certainly has five sons who are prepared to indulge in the operation of farming if given a chance. This particular farmer has, in fact, gone further than most farmers to prepare his sons for farming, because he has sent two or three of them to the agricultural colleges provided by the Ministry for the preparation of young men to be decent farmers. He had no intention for any one of the five other than to earn his living on the land. This man is himself in possession of a holding the valuation of which is somewhere around £30 or £32. To his credit, he has brought up a large family on that holding, a holding which the Minister may probably say afterwards is fairly large. It probably would be considered fairly large when taken in relation to farms in Mayo. It is a farm of about 80 acres, I believe. I am not sure of the exact size. Of this large acreage, however, 30 or 40 acres are only suitable for afforestation. In fact, at one time, there were negotiations about taking it over for afforestation, and 20 or 30 acres of this farm that this man holds constitute reclaimed land; it is land reclaimed by his forefathers and by himself and put into the condition in which it now is and which does not provide a possibility for any one of his five boys to make a living for themselves.

In connection with the other farm I mentioned, this particular man had the grazing of it for many years because his own farm was not big enough. He took the grazing of most of it and sometimes of the whole of it, and eventually, when it was offered to him, he purchased it because he had the money with which to purchase it and had the desire to set up his congested family—and I am using the phrase in its proper sense—and because he had the temerity to purchase the farm for his congested family, the Land Commission propose to acquire it for the relief of congestion if there is any congestion in that neighbourhood. I do not know whether there is congestion in that neighbourhood or not. I do not believe there is. Anyhow, there is no more congestion in that neighbourhood than there is in connection with the case of that particular farmer with his five sons. I do not know whether or not the proposal to acquire it will go through eventually. I hope it does not, and I do not believe that the Land Commission, when they come to analyse the circumstances properly, will allow it to go through. I believe that they will not allow it to go through, but I hold that it ought never to have been questioned at all. However, it just illustrates what I have been saying previously, that no man is safe in purchasing land in this State or in selling land in this State or is secure in his tenure, and that any man in his land is subject to the will of the present Government, or of any other Government that happens to be in office.

I put it to the House: Is this a desirable state of affairs or is this a policy that should be pursued in this State in the interests of agriculture or any other interests in this State? Apart altogether from the question of the security of any man in his farm, there is the question of value, and there is the question of temporary borrowing, if one may put it that way, because that is perhaps more important, at the present moment anyhow, than the mere question of value. Everybody knows that it has been necessary, or should have been necessary if it could be done, for farmers, during the last three or four years, to borrow money, but they could not borrow it. Their circumstances were bad enough, but by the action of the Land Commission in rendering their possession and ownership unsafe they were denied any chance or any hope of borrowing money from any lending institutions, because the lenders, such as the banks and others knew, as the Ministers ought to know, that the farmers' title in possession or ownership was not worth a twopenny stamp.

If the Deputy said that in Irish somebody might understand it.

The Deputy will not go down to Limerick or any other county and state that it is rubbish to say that the title of any man, big or small, in his land is subject to the will of the Government and can be acquired in the morning by the Government. Will the Minister say that it cannot? Will the future Minister for Agriculture or for Lands say that it cannot? He can not say so, because he knows that it is so, and the Deputy who represents an agricultural county ought to be behind me here in this House, if he had the will, or rather if he had the desire, to do the work he was elected to do, and ought to stand up and defend the interests of the agriculturists who elected him here to this House and not be interrupting me when I am making an endeavour to protect their interests.

I got far more votes from them than the Deputy got.

I am not quite certain whether that last statement is a fact. If it is not, it is quite in keeping with his other statements. He may have got more votes than I on another occasion, but if he counts up the number of votes that he and I got during the last four or five years, or that he will get in the future——

I think we will leave that for the future.

Well, Sir, I was challenged.

As far as the future is concerned, we will be sorry to miss the Deputy.

I was speaking on the question of value. I was trying to get at the policy of the Government, if they have any policy other than a policy of confiscation, and I do not believe they have. I was trying to have it laid down that the policy of this Government is definitely to leave every purchased tenant secure on his land and with a title that cannot be broken until he himself desires to sell his land in a public market and with free sale, and that if any public necessity should arise which would make it necessary, in exceptional circumstances—and only in exceptional circumstances, such as the erection of a building site or in extreme cases such as in parts of the West where there is genuine congestion—if in such exceptional circumstances it should be necessary to acquire his land, he would be paid the full market value for the land taken from him so that he should be in a position, if he desired to farm again, to purchase another holding of equal value somewhere else. That is not being done. There is no land, in my county at any rate, which the Government have acquired, for which they have given the full value or the just value. There may be a reason—there is a Departmental reason—why the Government should purchase land as cheaply as they can, because they know that, if they gave the full market value for the land, with all the incidental expenses connected with the acquisition, the price, possibly, to the uneconomic holder coming in—because they are mostly uneconomic, or if they are not uneconomic already they are being made so by reason of the small-holdings they get—would be such that they could not live on the holding except at a very small rent. So the only way to get the land is to confiscate it or partly to confiscate it from the present holder, and that is what they are doing.

I have some figures here with regard to prices and values which would surprise a good many people. When this Bill of 1933 was going through the House I did venture to question the Minister in connection with this matter of people who were going to redeem their lands, and the Minister relieved my mind when he said that there would not be any question of unfairness in that regard. I asked him what would happen to these people, and he said that nothing would happen and that there would be no unfairness. There were people who redeemed their land who, in the times long ago, were able to make farming pay, who put money by and who, desiring to secure for their children, if not for themselves, some provision whereby, whether times were bad or good, they would be able to live on the land, came to the Land Commission and redeemed the annuities on their holdings and paid up the full amount due under the Land Purchase Agreements. I know of one estate which was purchased recently which had been purchased originally at about £24 per statute acre and redeemed in full to the Land Commission. The Land Commission came along recently and acquired it. I am not saying anything about the question of its acquisition. It might be fair to acquire or it might not, but certainly if they acquired it that land must have had some value. It must have had at least the value of the redemption price which this particular tenant had paid to the Land Commission. If it had any value at all it must have had at least that value, and it certainly had a market value outside the landlord's interest which the tenant purchased and which he redeemed; but now the Land Commission offer him—not offer, but compel him—to take a sum considerably less than the sum he paid in redemption to the Land Commission. I put it to any Deputy of any Party is that fair treatment for any holder of land? What is one man's case is going to be another man's case if the present policy is pursued to any length.

Deputies will say when I speak strongly on this or when any other Deputy speaks on the same lines that we are opposed to the acquisition of land in any event or in any form, that we do not believe in the policy of the distribution of land. That is not so. It is not because I fight for a man's title to his land, for proper value for a man's land when it is taken from him, that it can be argued that I am opposed to the distribution of land. I am not. As I said many times in this House, I believe that possibly it is one of the best methods of social relief you can indulge in. But if it is, it ought to be administered in the way that every other social relief is administered in this country—at the expense of the State rather than the individual. Why should the individual agriculturist be injured any more than the possessor of any commercial or any other interest? If it is necessary by force to acquire and confiscate the property of the ordinary holder of agricultural land for social relief, why should we not extend that policy into the towns and cities and acquire the business or part of the business of any commercial man or woman in Dublin or any other place and pay a set value that a commission may like to name for that particular business or occupation? I venture to say that the outcry in the cities and towns over such a proposal would bring any Government tottering to the ground.

But when it is a question of the longsuffering agriculturists, who have borne more blows and strokes than any other section of the community, any rod is good enough with which to whip them, if they are going to stand it. So far as I am concerned as a representative of agriculture in this State, I shall continue to fight for the principle of the free occupation of land, free possession and valid title to land, free sale and market value for land. If a situation should arise which made it necessary for any Government to take any man's land for any national purpose of relief or otherwise, the full market value should be paid for that land and anything lost by the taking of the land should fall on the State and not on the individual. That is not asking too much in justice for any class and that is all we ask—fair treatment for a distressed section of the community.

That is a part of the Land Commission policy that I want to get clear. I want to get it definitely clear from the Minister, when he is closing the debate, that so far as the policy of this Government is concerned, no farmer need be afraid that the title to his land is in any jeopardy as long as a man farms his land by any method he pleases. I am speaking of purchased land and not of any other land. I do not want anyone to argue that he is going to farm in the way the Government pleases, because only fools will continue in occupation of land if they are going to lose by it; and I am justified in this by a speech made by a Government Deputy the other night when he backed us up in that—that a farmer ought to be free to farm his land in any way he pleases. I agree with the Deputy for Meath.

What about a ranch?

I agree with the Deputy for Meath who ought to know more about ranches than any other Deputy, because if there is any county in Ireland which it was stated held ranches it was Meath. It has been stated by this Deputy representing Meath that in his opinion every farmer should be allowed to develop and work his farm in the manner he wishes, because no one but a fool would work it otherwise. Every Deputy who is honest and who has the courage of the Deputy from Meath would say the same.

Is it true that there was compulsory tillage during the war period when all you people were so patriotic?

The patriots are not on one side of the House.

I had not come to the question of tillage. Does the Deputy want us to go back, in defiance of what the Taoiseach said to-day, to the bad old days of British occupation in this country? Does he want the treatment meted out to us that the British meted out to us 20 years ago? Is that what the Deputy wants us to go back to? If he does I wish him well of it. That is the essence of the interruptions— did certain things happen during the British occupation? Many things happened, but we do not want to imitate them. Evidently the Deputy does. As I said before, I want the Minister's guarantee on these points. I want him to make a statement in this House sufficient to allay the fears of the bankers in this State. They are the people we are depending upon, and I want him before the debate finishes to make some statement to the banks in this State.

So that, in the event of their lending money to any farmer on the security of his land, that farmer will not be dispossessed of his land and the farm probably acquired much below its value.

They are not lending money.

The banks are not lending money, the Deputy says. They are not lending money.

I will tell you why. Because this Government brought in a Bill in 1933 which broke into rags and tatters the farmer's title to his land and because the banks knew that if they lent one penny to any farmer, or combination of farmers in a parish or county, the security offered was not worth the paper it was written on, because the Government could come to-morrow and acquire the land of any one or all of the persons who offered the security and take their land at any price that they offered.

That is the position since 1923.

How much money was advanced by the banks to the farmers in 1929?

I do not remember what money the banks lent on land or anything else. I am not interested in what the banks did, but in what I hope to get the banks to do in future with the Minister's help and with Deputy Davin's and Deputy Corry's help. The policy of this Government is changing rapidly, and I am glad to say that it is changing, as was shown by an earlier debate in this House to-day.

Deputy Bennett is entitled to be heard without interruption. This continual cross-examination will not get us anywhere.

These Deputies would help by changing the policy of the banks as well as the policy of the Government.

Our trouble is that the banks are trying to get the Land Commission to take the land.

You are coming round rapidly. I want to bring the Minister for Lands into line with the other Ministers who have had all the glory for the last few days. I want to ask the Minister for Lands if he will do something for the people who want it most in this State, the unfortunate agriculturists. To-day, thank God, and I say thank God reverently, we witnessed the consummation of a settlement with Great Britain over a certain event, and nobody listened to that with greater pleasure than I did, because it brought a ray of hope to the people I represent. I want them to get every possible value out of that settlement and it is because I want them to get every halfpenny that can be knocked out of it that I am appealing to the Minister who represents the land policy of this Government to put the farmer in the position that he can reap some profits from the Agreement that was happily made in the last few days, that he will make, first of all, the incentive for any farmer to reap the benefits of that, and the incentive is not there. What incentive have I, what incentive has Deputy Brasier, or any other Deputy on this side or that side, farming land, to improve that land, to improve the productivity of that land in the manner that we desire as long as the policy that the Minister is responsible for is operated? Why should I or any other farmer spend large sums each year if we had it? We could not do it in the last few years because we had not got it, but a time may come when we will have it and could do it, but what incentive is there for us to improve our lands, to drain our lands, to manure our lands, to improve them in every way, if the fear is always hanging over our heads that this Minister or some other Minister or some Commission can, by a stroke of the pen, take the farm off us at whatever value they like and put us in the ranks of the unemployed? Nine-tenths of the farmers in this country, if they had the means, have not the will, because of the Government's policy, to farm their lands in the manner in which they should be farmed.

I began by asking the Minister in regard to this whether it was their policy to create a State ownership in land. I believe it is. I believe the policy has been in operation for the last few years. If that is their policy, I want some statement from the Government that it is not going to be their policy to confine that particular policy of State ownership to the farmers alone. It should be extended and applied to every other section of the community, that if we are going to indulge in a sort of limited Communism in this State, it shall not be confined to agriculturists; that every other section, commercial or otherwise, shall be brought under the same conditions as the agriculturists, and the Minister knows as well as I know that that is not so. I want from the Minister a definite assurance as to that. The second is a definite assurance as to value. As the Minister knows pretty well, the full value of any holding that was acquired was not paid.

The value will go up now, will it not?

The Deputy knows as well as I know that until the matters that I am talking about are remedied, the value will not go up very much.

The settlement will put it up.

The settlement that was made is not a settlement of the matters which I am talking about. There seems to be a general tendency to irritation on the part of the Deputies behind the Minister that I should at all refer to this matter——

A Deputy

Not at all.

——that any Deputy should be bold enough to get up in this House and say something for the unfortunate people who have laboured and stressed, and borne the burden of the fight which was brought to so successful a consummation during the last few days; that anyone should get up and say one word on their behalf; that the men who were in the trenches for four years should get something when the victory was won.

I do not want to go into these things at all. I mention them now because when we were talking about the distribution of land, one Deputy got up and asked for consideration for the I.R.A. —the men that were out. Now, I would be as inclined to fight for the men that were out as any other man in this State, or any other Deputy, but, in God's name, why would not you fight for the men that are in, and still in, in possession of the land? Why not fight for them, the men who made it possible for the other fellows to be out; the men who, by financial help and sympathy, made it possible for other fellows to be out? Would not you fight for them to stay in, and that is the fight I am making, to keep the other fellow in, or at least, if it ever becomes necessary to put him out, that he will get a fair compensation for his disturbance. Does anybody want to refer again to the fellows that were out or in?

Does Deputy Bennett want us to give pensions to the soldiers of the economic war?

There is nothing about pensions in this Estimate.

I would want the moon. It would be the first thing I would ask for if I thought we could provide pensions for the unfortunate victims of the economic war. It would be useless to ask, but if any Deputy who has hopes of getting it puts up the proposition I will back him and get every other Deputy to back him on the matter.

Mr. Walsh

You will split your Party if you do that.

Is there any other question that anyone wants to ask me?

Yes; I would like to ask the Deputy whether he would vote for the taxes which would be necessary to implement a policy of that kind.

If the Government put a policy into operation which would be just to all sections of the community.

The Deputy should not drift because he is asked irrelevant questions. A number of the questions that have been put were irrelevant and they will necessarily demand irrelevant replies. Therefore, irrelevant questions should not be put from any quarter of the House. Deputy Bennett is in possession, and I will hear no more questions or answers respecting pensions. I will hear Deputy Bennett on the Estimate and on the motion to refer back, and nothing more.

Personally, Sir, I think you are right. The Parliamentary Secretary was the only one who asked a relevant question and I would like to be allowed permission to answer him. I can do it without violating the laws of debate. I was proceeding on the lines that the Parliamentary Secretary desires. I was elaborating on the policy of the Government in the acquisition of land. I asked if it was the policy of this Government to do something on the lines of limited Communism, why they should confine it to one section of the community and not extend it to other sections. Having said so much, I said it might be hinted by some Deputy and by the Parliamentary Secretary even that I was opposed to the distribution of land, and I said I was not and that I believed it was one of the best forms of social relief that the Minister or any other Minister could engage in, but, like all other forms of social relief put into operation, it should be at the expense of the State and not of the individual. That is the answer to the Parliamentary Secretary's question, and I am prepared to back that to the full if the necessary votes are proposed to put it into operation.

Then you are not going to vote for the taxes?

If the taxes were necessary to put a proper policy into operation so that for every farm that was acquired a proper value would be given. The object should be to make it possible to distribute land at an economic price and to give a fair price to the people who are put out of it. A price considerably greater than the price that is being paid by this Government must be paid for the land, and the extra cost must come from somewhere, probably from the Exchequer. I am going to back any proposal that makes the Exchequer pay rather than the individual.

And you are going to vote for the taxes.

An extra tax in that respect would be better spent than many of the extra taxes we had to bear during the last five years. Many of us believe we did not get proper value for those extra taxes. A further argument for a proper value for farms in the country is this, that other Departments of State acquire property, land if you like, at the full market value. There is, for instance, land taken for the building of hospitals, labourers' cottages and various other purposes by different Departments of State, and in every case that I know of the full market value is paid, and sometimes a sum greater than the market value. If that is done by one Department, why should it not be done by another? If, in order to build a cottage for an unfortunate labouring man, it is necessary to acquire land and that land is paid for and the proper value is given, why should it not be given if it is necessary to acquire land for another purpose? There is no argument in favour of not paying the proper value.

Define proper value.

Proper value is the market value, the value which any man willing to purchase in the open market is prepared to give for a farm with a free title. I think I have said as much as I can say on the first point, the title and the value of land. I will now come to the second point. Having acquired the land, I am not satisfied with the policy of the Government in the matter of distributing it. I do not believe, just as Deputies on the Government side do not believe, that the Government are distributing the land to the best advantage. I believe, as the Deputy from Meath said, that holdings in many cases are too small. I am of the opinion that the Government are relieving one set of uneconomic holders and at the same time setting up another. You are arriving at the stage when you have a section of the community neither fish, flesh nor good red herring. I should like to instance one case. Eight or nine years ago I was instrumental in helping a man to get a small parcel of seven or eight acres. This man had come back from America, where he saved £200. That was one of the inducements I held out when he was getting the land. Last summer he walked up to my door and I said to him "Hello John, is it more land you want.""No," said he, "all I want is to get out of the bit I have.""Why," said I, "you fought hard to get it.""Well," he said, "as you know, I had £200, and every shilling of it has gone. I could not make the holding pay. I do not owe money to anybody. All I had is gone and I want to get permission to sell the holding. Before I got the land I had a horse on the road and I was drawing stones from the quarry for the county council. Since I got the land I am neither a farmer nor a labourer. I got some work from the county council, but the other men struck because they regarded me as a farmer." His position was that he had not enough land to live on and he was denied the position of a labourer. If you are anxious to make a farmer of a man, give him sufficient land to live on. Do not expect him to live on a patch of seven or eight acres.

What is an economic holding?

In different counties it would vary considerably.

It would vary in East and West Limerick?

Any holding under 20 acres in the best counties would not be regarded as economic. In other counties a man would need considerably more. Make it 20 Irish acres if you like. As regards the Poor Law valuation, that varies to such an extent as not to be just. I think the Government could do a lot to improve the position. I am not satisfied that the people who get the land are the right people. What I mean is that they are not the people best suited to work the land. I am not imputing, as some Deputies have done, political dishonesty to anybody. I do not believe there is any such thing as political victimisation on a large scale, but I do think that in many cases the land is not being distributed in a proper or a just manner. I know of one estate and several decent labouring men anxious to get holdings. Some of them have a little money and a cow or two. In the distribution of the estate they did not get land. There were other men who got holdings, and they ought not to have got them. One man who got land, also got land eight or nine years ago on another estate, and he never worked it. He went out of the parish because he got a good job in another place at £6 or £7 a week. The point is that he got a holding, and other men more deserving could not get any land. I think the land could be more equitably distributed. It ought to be the policy of the Land Commission to pick out the men who are most needy if they can produce evidence that they will be able to farm it if they get a holding.

When we are finished with this Estimate we will be considering another Estimate on the subject of afforestation and how best to build up forests again in this country. This is all to the good and any attention given to this matter will be well worth while. I suggest to the Minister that he should not direct his attention to new forests but he should confine himself to preserving the forests we have. We have in this country many beautiful holdings having large areas planted with trees. These are a material and cultural advantage to the State. I am sure everybody knows some of the beauty spots I have in mind. Some attempt ought to be made to preserve these. I appeal to the Minister to try to preserve what is left of them. Some people may say, "Why should you give an unfortunate man a patch of land with only trees on it and expect him to live on that?." Nobody would expect him to do so. I suggest we ought not to give a man the land with the trees. The State should in some way preserve the trees that are there. They have a beautifying effect and a health-giving effect in this country, as the doctors will tell you. I think it is a crime that they should be destroyed and I am sure every Deputy will agree with that. Some people may ask "What are we to do with the land on which the trees are?"

I suggest that the Government should give the land with the trees to somebody at a small rent so that he may graze the patches between the trees; give it to him at a nominal rent, but spare the timber. I take it that in this or the coming Vote the Minister will appeal for funds and aid in the carrying out of his afforestation schemes. I appeal to him first of all to protect the afforestation we already have in this country.

I do not intend to delay the House very many moments on this Vote. There are just a few points I wish to raise, and a few of these have been suggested by Deputy Bennett, who has just sat down. The Deputy was very eloquent in the early portion of his remarks in his defence of a man who is using a particular holding. I think I can trace the particular farm to which the Deputy referred. That was in a sense indicated by his question here to-day. In that particular case the Deputy was very eloquent on behalf of a congested family in occupation of the land. He took up the rôle of defence of the man in possession of that farm to the utter disregard of the large body of men in the district who have no land. If Deputy Bennett had taken the trouble to make intimate inquiry into the case he would, perhaps, use more temperate language in his defence of that particular individual. I inquired on the spot as to the merits and demerits of that case. Now Deputy Bennett made a very eloquent appeal because he said the man was in possession and that he had a big family of sons. The Deputy seemed to think that because this man had five sons he could own the whole countryside quite regardless of the fact that very many others in that same district have big families too. The Deputy thinks that this man should not be interfered with at all. He has had this land on grazing for years. I am aware that the owner has not put a foot there for a considerable time. A few other people also are grazing that land, but the man to whom Deputy Bennett referred as being in occupation of it has a farm of his own of which only 1½ acres are under tillage. That is the extent of that gentleman's tillage activities.

Is it a tillage country at all?

I consider that if the Land Commission are moved in any way by the eloquent appeal of Deputy Bennett they will be making a very big mistake. I trust that instead of listening to Deputy Bennett's appeal they will use the discretion of their inspectors and be deaf to appeals that are utterly unreasonable and that should not be made. In the interests of justice to the uneconomic holders and the landless men in the locality the Land Commission should look to the congestion from which these people are suffering. There is one point on which I would be inclined to agree with Deputy Bennett and that is in regard to the size of the allotments, but in that respect, too, I am inclined to qualify my agreement. The Deputy wants one of two things, either to give an applicant for land a fully economic holding or else give him nothing at all. We all know that to give every applicant an economic holding is impossible, for there is not enough land to go around. There are, however, countless men throughout the Saorstát who are anxious to secure an improvement in their existing social condition. They do not want to become farmers, but they want a plot that would enable them to keep a cow or to have a few acres of tillage, and while being in that position they would not be deprived of work on the roads. The allotments as a rule given to such men by the Land Commission are 3 acres, 3½ acres, 4 acres or 5 acres. These are quite too small. I think if the allotments were made a little bigger these men would not be put on the borderline of being farmers. It would enable them to have a little tillage and keep a cow. I appeal to the Land Commission, wherever possible, to increase the size of the allotments they have been giving. All that, of course, would very naturally depend on the type of land to be divided. In the county which I represent or as Deputy Bennett would probably say, misrepresent, there is a type of agriculturalist for whom I appeal. I represent people who are agriculturalists by training but who own no land on which to put this training into practice. Deputy Bennett speaks for people who have had a long tenure of land.

There is one other point to which I would refer. That is the regulation recently made by the Land Commission to tighten up the radius from which applicants around an estate to be divided are to be drawn. Formerly in the case of uneconomic holders the radius was two miles and for landless men within one mile of the holding or estate to be divided. I would like to see that radius extended. Instead, however, of extending the radius, a shrinkage has taken place, and now the radius for an uneconomic holder is one mile and for a landless man a half mile. That is a particularly impossible provision. It makes it impossible to prove congestion in the neighbourhood of the estate to be divided. It makes confusion for the inspectors who are thus precluded from considering deserving applicants. If a deserving applicant happens to be 200 yards outside the prescribed radius he is excluded from participating in the division of that estate quite irrespective of his suitability. If this regulation is insisted on, the chances are that very deserving individuals are never going to be given any land even if every estate in the country were broken up. I have a case in mind of one man who was ruled out because he was five-sixths of a mile from the estate, and of another man who suffered because he was three-quarters of a mile away. In neither case was the suitability challenged. I was told that both these men were suitable for being given a full holding in another place. But the trouble is that the full holdings would not be available for all of them.

I suggest where a class of labourers are adjacent to an estate they should each be given a few acres. It is quite absurd to exclude a man because he is a few yards too far from the estate. That is cutting the matter too fine and it is causing unnecessary friction and unnecessary confusion. I had thought that the regulation of a two mile radius for uneconomic holders and one mile for landless men was close enough. No one could suggest that these distances were too far from which to select the people who were to be given the land. The uneconomic holder would never complain if he got his holding within two miles of his dwelling. He could work such a holding quite advantageously for himself and his family. I suggest to the Minister and to the Land Commission that they would give this matter their very earnest consideration. By doing so they will restore confidence to many people who are at present being ruled out and who have no hope of participating in any land division. It is my hope that in the future in all places where land division is to take place, harmony will be promoted amongst deserving people and that no cause for friction will arise. If the suggestion I have made with regard to extending the radius is adopted it will go a good way towards easing a good deal of the friction that is being caused and lightening the work of the inspectors of the Land Commission.

When the Minister a few weeks ago introduced this Vote I was very pleased to hear that he intended to appoint a number of new land inspectors to deal with the question of land distribution. I now suggest to him that he should direct the attention of the Land Commission inspectors to the state of affairs that exists in the County Dublin. From my knowledge of the county I can say that in the northern and western side of the county, there are over 30,000 acres of very fertile land running from 100-acre farms to 1,000-acre farms. Some of these holdings demand the attention of the Land Commission. Perhaps he would see his way during the coming year to acquire some of these very fertile lands for distribution amongst uneconomic holders and landless men. Lands have been acquired during the past 20 years by a number of well-to-do people, whom we might call land grabbers, and who went down to the West of Ireland, Kerry and other places where they bought stock cheaply, brought them up to these fertile lands, fattened them and made money very easily in that way. I could direct the Minister's attention to lands in County Dublin that are owned by foreigners, even Germans.

Heil Hitler!

I am not directing attention to these lands merely because they are owned by Germans. We have much worse people in Ireland, as regards the ownership of land, than Germans but I know these lands and I think the Minister should direct his attention to them. I know one man who has 1,000 acres of land. He is a member of the Opposition Party.

Did he pay for it?

I heard a lot of talk, when Deputy Cosgrave was speaking, about the poor prices given to farmers from whom land was taken. I know that during his régime the very worst land was taken from those of these very big landowners, old waste land, for division amongst people who needed land, whilst the choicest parts were left to the big landowners. Then in the distribution of that land, he made sure that some of the men who were working with the landowner got parcels of the land, with the result that the original owner has been enabled to take the grazing on it again from them. It was a plan that worked extremely well. I have heard Deputies here speak of Fianna Fáil Cumainn who used political pressure in the division of land, and I was delighted to hear Deputy Bennett state here that he was instrumental at one time in getting a holding of land for a particular person. That was nine years ago when the Deputy's Party was in power. I am glad that at least one member of that Party has had the candour to admit that he was a party to using political influence in the distribution of land. They certainly looked after their own followers. That is one of the faults I have to find with our Minister that he does not look after us half so well.

Anyway, I suppose no matter what Government is in power there will always be complaints about the Minister.

And about the Land Commission.

And about the Land Commission too. I should like to direct the attention of the Minister to a few peculiar special problems that exist in County Dublin. One of them is a problem affecting Rush. It might be very interesting to Deputy Davin to hear that there are people living down there on acres and half-acres of land, people who come into the Dublin markets every morning with their produce. I think that it is in the interests of everyone that these people should be given suitable holdings of land. These people do not mind migrating. If land is not available for distribution in the immediate vicinity of the district in which they live, they do not mind migrating to the lands to which I have referred in their own county some miles away. I know the conditions that exist in Rush. You will see cars coming in to the markets every morning from that district with produce from the acres and half-acres owned by these people. Some of them may own three, four or five acres. They did not grouse or grumble during the economic war or any other war, and they are entitled to the best consideration of the Land Commission and the Minister.

I should also like to direct the Minister's attention to the state of affairs existing in another area in County Dublin which is also a fairly extensive tillage area, namely, Coolock. Men out there, who are rearing large families, are paying £5, £6 and £7 per acre for conacre. Some of them hold leases for five years from some of these armchair farmers who directed the economic war from the fireside. They are, as I say, paying £5, £6 and £7 per acre to some of those farmers who were grousing about the economic war. I should like the Minister to devote some attention to the Coolock and Rush areas when considering the distribution of land. The people in both areas are of a most deserving type, and any land given to them will be utilised and tilled to the fullest extent possible.

There is another area in my constituency, Glencullen, in which a very peculiar situation exists. I do not know the exact tenure by which the people there hold their lands but they are on the Joyce estate. So far as the housing conditions are concerned, I do not believe that the conditions that exist in Glencullen at the present time could exist in darkest Africa. The houses in which they live are the worst I have ever seen in my experience. I think the attention of the Land Commission should be directed to the Glencullen and Ballybrack areas to see that the land there is properly divided. There is a big commonage of several hundred acres on the Joyce estate. Some of the people on this estate have five acres, some of them ten acres—a patch here, a patch there and a patch somewhere else. Some of them might have as much as 15 acres divided up into various patches. The Land Commission should acquire this estate and give the people compact holdings which should be properly fenced off. At the same time, these people should be provided with decent dwellings so that they may be enabled to bring up their children under proper conditions. I heard the Minister say here recently that the acquisition and division of land were being hindered and delayed as a result of some judicial decision. I hope that the Minister will expedite the application of some remedy as far as that judicial decision is concerned.

More new judges!

I shall not go so far as to say that we should have more new judges but it is not impossible for a Government to introduce a law that will keep the judges in their place.

The Military Tribunal.

That might be all right for the Labour Party. They have advanced ideas in matters of that kind.

They could not be more advanced than the one you mentioned.

We always hear something of advantage from the lawyers.

That is the reason you do not like them. They are too intelligent for the Fianna Fáil Party.

Decisions do not come up here for review.

I wish to press the claims of cottiers in various parts of County Dublin. Those who got holdings have worked them efficiently and used the land to the best advantage. I have always been on the side of cottiers when land is being divided. If statistics are produced as to the way rents are paid by cottiers it will be found that the arrears on cottages are much less than the arrears due by the farming community. That shows that these cottiers realise their responsibilities. For that reason more consideration should be given to their claims when land is divided. When land division is carried out a good deal of such work is spoiled for perhaps 12 months unless houses are available for the allottees. When 25, 26 or 27 acres of land are given to an allottee he cannot use the land to the best advantage unless he can reside there. I know cases where land has been divided for 12 months, but houses and outoffices have not yet been erected. Tenders for the erection of houses and for the building of outoffices should be issued before land is divided. Another thing that the Land Commission should take into consideration is the question of water supplies, to see that the necessary pumps are erected. I heard a number of complaints in that respect against all Governments responsible for land division, although very little land division was carried out in County Dublin by Fine Gael, except where some supporters of that Party found themselves in difficulties and got land divided. I know a place near Balbriggan where a number of people are unable to send their children to school in winter owing to the bad condition of a road that was made by the Land Commission. The County Council and the Land Commission have argued the toss concerning this road for the past five or six years, the Land Commission offering £150 if it was taken over by the county council, and the council refusing to do so until it was put into proper repair. There should be some arrangement between the Land Commission and the local authorities whereby roads of that kind are kept in proper repair. I know one road made by the Land Commission in County Dublin on which threshing machines will not travel. As regards the valuation of holding, it appears there is some regulation on that question in the Land Commission. I think a certain amount of discretion should be exercised in matters of that kind. I know one case where an inspector told an applicant for a parcel of land that he was too young. He was one of a family of nine or ten, 22 years old, and was working since he was 14. He was able to control a pair of horses since he was 15 years of age, and could bring them to the Dublin market even in frost and snow. I suppose it is not right to criticise the inspectors, but I cannot understand the mentality of an inspector who would tell an applicant of that type that he was too young. Surely we do not want land to be given to people when they are old men.

They are giving it to old age pensioners in my area.

I would not mind you area. Your end is badly looked after. What they want down there is to have new blood introduced. I ask the Minister to pay attention to the points I mentioned. I am not like some other Deputies who like to hear themselves talking. I heard it stated in various portions of North County Dublin, and it was brought home forcibly to me in one area, that the old I.R.A. were not given the preference to which they are entitled. I agree that that is so as far as one area is concerned, of which the Minister is aware. Generally speaking, I do not think it is the case all over County Dublin. There is any amount of land in County Dublin that could be divided and, in the coming year, I hope the Minister will tackle the question.

Before dealing with a few points to which I wish to call the Minister's attention I very much regret that I must start by contradicting flatly some statements made by a colleague of mine in the representation of Leix-Offaly when this Vote was under discussion on the last occasion. Deputy Davin thought well, in my absence, to make a statement to the effect that on a previous occasion, when he had an amendment down to refer back the Vote, while certain Deputies made eloquent speeches in favour of it, when it came to a division these Deputies, two of them belonging to this Party, and one belonging to the Fianna Fáil Party refrained from voting and were smoking together in the Lobby.

Will the Deputy quote the words?

I am quoting from the Official Debates of April 7th, column 1688:

"Following that debate and the division which was taken on that occasion, in which the Minister escaped with the narrow majority of two votes, we had other interesting developments inside a short period. On that particular occasion two of my colleagues, representing the Fine Gael Party, made eloquent speeches in support of my motion to refer the Vote back, but when the division bells rang they smoked with a Fianna Fáil Deputy outside..."

Subsequently, when the Deputy was asked for the names, he gave the names of Deputy O'Higgins, Deputy Finlay, and ex-Deputy Eamonn Donnelly. I can only speak for myself, but I feel certain that the injustice done to me, and the falsehood uttered with regard to me, is equally unjust and equally false in its application to Deputy Finlay and ex-Deputy Eamonn Donnelly.

Why did the Deputy refuse to vote?

Is the Deputy addressing me?

The implication in this statement is that we spoke and then refrained from voting.

The facts are that I spoke on one evening and that the division was on the following day when I was absent. The allegations are false and the implication is maliciously false, the implication being that our political stand over here is so insincere that we pose as being opposed to the Government, but that, in fact, we have no desire to defeat the Government and deliberately abstain from voting rather than do it. That is the implication, and the Deputy is a past master at insinuation and implication rather than of bold, straightforward statements.

I object to the use of the word "malicious." I do not think it is fair. The Deputy, I allege, knew that the division was about to be taken.

Of course the Deputy knew that the division was to be taken. The Deputy has as much intelligence as Deputy Davin, but that does not mean that we can all be here when divisions are being taken. The insinuation was that the attitude of those of us who sit here is insincere; that we are not, in fact, out to oppose or defeat the Government. I took the trouble to look up the divisions in which the Deputy took part. The Deputy is more noisy and bellicose than I am in his criticisms of Government policy and in his denunciations of Government Ministers. I find that since the present Government came into power——

I allowed the Deputy a good deal of latitude in defending himself against the charge made against him, but I cannot allow him to make a charge now against Deputy Davin in respect of his vote. I have allowed Deputy O'Higgins to clear himself.

On a point of order. Is it in order for the Deputy to allege that I made a malicious charge?

What I do suggest is that a statement which was definitely false was made with regard to myself. I say here in public that the statement was false and that the insinuation was equally false. If the Deputy admits the falseness of the charge and of the insinuation I will withdraw the word "malicious".

I understood that the word "malicious" had reference to the statement and was not connected with Deputy Davin. What I understood was that the statement was qualified by the word "malicious".

However, I had not intended to go on to refer to what the Deputy did. What I had intended to do was to refer to what he did not do, but if the Chair prohibits me I cannot proceed any further. What I wanted to say was that since the present Government came into office I found myself in the same division lobby as Government Ministers on eight occasions, and in the opposite lobby on some 500 odd occasions. If the Deputy's attitude of opposition were as strictly adhered to in Dáil Eireann as it is in his perambulations through the country, the Government would be defeated once a month.

Oftener—every week.

To leave unimportant matters aside, and to get on to something that is really important, I would like to direct the Minister's attention to some statements that were made in the course of the debate on this Estimate. There were one or two statements made by Deputies sitting on the Government Benches — perhaps they were made recklessly or thoughtlessly, but they were statements that require official repudiation if there is to be any stability with regard to the land position in this country. One statement made by a Government Deputy was to the effect that there was no such thing as an owner of land in this country: that nobody had any title to land. When the law was altered and the annuities became payable into the Treasury, there were many of us on this side of the House who felt nervous as to the effect of that change of direction of the annuities. We expressed our uneasiness frequently and emphatically when that was done: that the result might be that the day would come when a government would claim a kind of over-lordship of land, and deny ownership to the purchaser or tenant who was paying the annuity. That fear was genuine, but it remained until this year for a Government Deputy, speaking from behind a Minister, to state that clearly. I think it is important that attention should be called to the matter so that we can get an expression of opinion from the Minister as to whether that is the view of the Government, or merely the irresponsible utterance of an irresponsible Deputy.

The speaker who has preceded me is a member of the Government Party. We heard him complain that farmers in the County Dublin and elsewhere buy their cattle in the West of Ireland, bring them up to their holdings in Dublin or in the neighbouring counties, fatten them, and sell them at a good profit. That statement was thrown out as if that practice was something that was sinful or criminal on the part of farmers in the County Meath or the County Dublin who go down to a fair in Ballinasloe or in Kerry and buy young cattle—as if it was a thing that should be stopped, and that because of such activities the Minister should dispossess those Dublin farmers of their land. Now, I think that the people in Connaught or in Kerry would be left in a very serious position if the County Dublin or County Meath farmers did not go down and buy their young stock, and that far from condemning such action, or threatening the security of an individual, the Minister should express approval of this to and fro trade between the richer lands and the poorer lands.

With regard to ownership, title and security, I do think that there is a big wave of insecurity in the whole agricultural life of the country. To an extent that is the natural result of accelerated land division which I do not regret. At the same time, I think that as a result of this accelerated land division there is bound to be a feeling of insecurity, and that everything possible should be done by responsible people, Deputies and others, to get a clear knowledge of the Land Acts so as to be able to reassure people who have falsely a fear of dispossession in their minds. The type of speech to which we have just listened is not unusual from Deputies who support the Minister, but it is the type of speech that creates alarm, uneasiness and insecurity. Alarm and uneasiness can only lead to instability. Instability leads to trade and commercial losses. If the banks have closed down on the farmers with regard to facilities, if the banks are pressing the farmers with regard to their mortgages and debts, that is mainly because the bankers are affected with the general uneasiness which is created by that type of reckless, irresponsible speaker. The Land Acts do define more or less—because it cannot be done strictly—what type of lands will be acquired and what type of lands will not be acquired. Occasionally the limits are overstepped, but only occasionally, and there should be a general attempt to quiet the nerves of land holders and people with money invested in land rather than further injudicious speeches which can only create unrest and uneasiness where we should have the quiet work that is necessary for solid progress.

With regard to the value of land, the Land Commission value and the market value, I have repeatedly referred to this matter on the Minister's Vote. I may be rather ignorant, but I can never see why there should be such a big gap between the market value of a holding and the price which the Land Commission offers or is prepared to give. I believe that in a small country such as this, a tiny little twenty-six county State, there should be something approaching uniformity at least in State operations. Boards of health, as one Deputy mentioned, are buying land for the purpose of erecting labourers' cottages. I could mention two farms where the board of health stepped in, acting under the Minister for Local Government, to buy land at £30 an acre. Alongside of them came the Land Commission to take over the same land, and the Land Commission price is in the neighbourhood of £7 an acre. Now, either the board of health, acting under the Minister for Local Government, is using public money extravagantly and really criminally, or the Land Commission is not doing justice to the holder of the land. It must be either one way or the other. There are two State Departments, one of them offering £30 per acre, less the redemption of annuities, while the other State Department operating from the next office offers £8 or £7, less the redemption of the annuities. Which way is it? We are not a vast empire. Those great Departments in a mighty empire might be acting absolutely independently of each other, but, in a small country like this where you could throw a stone from any Government Department into the next, this absolute lack of co-operation and absolute lack of co-ordination should be rectified.

There is another matter in regard to that which I should like to bring under the Minister's notice. We had introduced in this House 18 months ago a Milk and Dairies Bill. That Bill had been under contemplation and consideration for some three years. It defined the conditions under which cows would be milked. The various veterinary inspectors and others operating under the Minister who was responsible for that Act had the dimensions, the air space, the floor space, the length of the standing bed for the cow, and so on. At the same time the Land Commission was building houses, building out-houses and building cow-houses. I actually saw people in occupation of a Land Commission house for as short a time as four weeks. The premises had only just been completed by the Land Commission working staff when the representatives of another Government Department came along and said, "The whole thing is wrong. You cannot go in for dairying here. That cow-bed is too long. That channel has not sufficient drop." The unfortunate man, if he was to continue in the sale of milk, had to expend from £15 to £25 to make the dimensions, and so on, comply with Government standards Surely there should have been some co-operation between the Department which was drafting that Milk Bill and drawing up those regulations, and the Department which was building the premises in which the cows had to be milked, and the milk in many cases subsequently sold. This procedure of one Department carrying on as if it were 1,000 miles away from the other is entirely deplorable, and leads to a lot of bother and complete misunderstanding when the ordinary person down the country gets evidence of this lack of co-operation.

There is another matter which I should like to bring to the notice of the Minister. In the 1923 Land Bill there was a special provision made empowering the Land Commission to deal with holdings which were called committee holdings. In the old Sinn Féin days, where land division was necessary or desirable—the Land Commission was not operating at that time in the popular sense—in very many areas the Sinn Féin club went to the bank for a loan and bought a big holding for distribution amongst the people in the area. I think this procedure was more common in the midlands than elsewhere. When a settlement came and this Parliament was established, there was still responsibility for the debt. The procedure was regarded by the Government as a necessary national act and part of the movement of the time, and the Act of 1923 empowered the Land Commission to take over such liabilities. I think there was a time limit. It only dated such activities back to some time in 1917. However, the Land Commission was authorised to deal with such cases. In the 1936 Land Act that particular proviso was removed, except for cases that were pending or under consideration at the time of the passing of that Act. I am ready to believe that that proviso was knocked out of the Act of 1936 because it was reasonable to presume that all such cases had been dealt with. But there are such cases still. I have one with the Land Commission at the moment, labelled by the Land Commission as definitely and clearly a Sinn Féin committee case, but they are prohibited, because of the Act of 1936, from dealing with it. It may have been casualness on the part of the people concerned that they did not bring them under the notice of the Land Commission earlier. It may have been that they were not familiar with this Act. It may have been that they considered that the powers given in the Act of 1923 would not have a definite life; that they were unlimited powers, and that any time would do. I would urge very strongly on the Minister to consider the advisability of amending the Act of 1936, and giving a short term extension so as to include any such cases which may be outstanding at the moment.

Now, we have heard during the course of this debate what is more or less customary when the Land Commission Vote is under discussion. We have heard charges of political favouritism bandied about one way or the other. I have never really definitely found clear-cut evidence of any inspector, responsible for recommendations with regard to the division of land, being to any great extent biassed one way or the other with regard to political division. Nevertheless, as well as other Deputies, now and in the past, I have seen areas or estates where the division was mainly along political lines.

In years gone by, I suppose.

No, not many years. However, I am prepared to say that a thing may have happened ten years ago and certainly has happened two or three years ago. Now, I do not believe there is any deliberate political intention on the part of the particular inspector responsible for making the recommendation, but I do think that, when an inspector is about to advise with regard to the division of land, he should make it his business to take advice from two or three, or four, different directions, and, having taken it from two or three directions, he should try to get it from a fourth who could be regarded as impartial. I have known an inspector to go down the country and make recommendations along certain lines, according to the people he met. And it is only fair to the Department to say that when I discovered that the most genuine case in the area had not even been considered, and when I called the Department's attention to that, an inspector was down there within 48 hours and that particular family subsequently got a holding. It is very easy, however, to give an inspector an impression that he is getting very general and genuine knowledge if I send him, myself, to my political colleague, and he sends him to another political colleague, and between us we bring the inspector around in an enclosed circle. With the most bona fide intentions that man may go back to Dublin with the impression that he has taken the views of all the representatives of the people. I think that where there are reasonable grounds for discontent it is because the inspector was led by the nose from one member of a club to the next, and that the harm was done before attention could be called to the matter.

I know that in certain divisions in the County of Laoighis and in the County of Offaly there is very grave discontent with certain lines of division, and the discontent is not confined to one political Party. I got a summary of the way in which an estate in the Carlow end of the county was divided and the way those who got certain portions of the estate are utilising the portions they got. I have here in front of me at the moment an advertisement inserted in the local paper advertising on the 11 months' system a portion of land which, some two years ago, was given to the owner by the Land Commission. At the time the owner got this portion of the land, that owner had already 58 acres of land. He got 14 more acres and has consistently set, on the 11 months' system, that extra 14 acres. It has been publicly advertised in the local Press year after year, and that particular holder of land is an elderly spinster. Now, it is an area where there is a very considerable number of deserving young and middle-aged men, single and married, and all with a fairly hopeless economic outlook. It is a place where there is a big population because of mining activities in the past, where there is acute land hunger and where, within miles, there is not a holding sufficiently large or sufficiently prosperous to pay a wage to a hired man. That is just one sample of the particular type of division that took place there in a very populous area and a very poor area. I could read, for the Minister's benefit, a litany of the whole division of that particular estate. I think it undesirable to be so detailed in public debate, but I am prepared to give a full list containing names, area held before the additional lot was given, valuation in each case, and how the land has been used since the last parcel of land was given by the Land Commission, and I do not believe that there is any Minister or any official who would be prepared to stand over that particular type of land division.

Or any official? Was it not sanctioned?

Oh, yes, it has been done—some couple of years ago. Now, at the other end of the same constituency there is a further division of land proposed, in the area of Moneygall. Some years ago there was an estate divided there. There was a certain amount of trouble as to whether it would be broken up into economic holdings or whether people from the town would get much smaller holdings for the grazing of a cow or the growing of an acre of potatoes or so. Finally, an arrangement was made on the spot, by and through the Minister's inspector, which was to the effect that that particular estate would be divided into economic holdings. The opposition to the scheme was then withdrawn, but it was withdrawn on the distinct understanding that further land was to be acquired in that area which would be broken into small allotments, and the further land was even indicated. With regard to one of these estates that were indicated when that agreement was arrived at, as far as I have any information, the Department has decided not to proceed with its acquisition. There is another estate which is being divided and, as far as fairly definite local information goes, persons from outside that parish and outside that county and outside that constituency are being brought in in order to get portions of that land.

How do you know?

I might tell the Deputy that——

It is not divided yet.

That is the reason I am raising it. If there is any truth in these rumours or in that belief, I strongly urge the Minister personally to look into the circumstances in that area, and if he is satisfied that the people in that area are either undeserving or that they have not a strong claim to the bit of land in their own midst, then let him go outside the constituency to look for people to take over the land. I am perfectly convinced that if the Minister or any responsible officer will examine the area, examine the type of hard-working people there, examine the really acute demand that is there, and how acutely the land is required by the people living in that particular area on the spot, he will change the decision, if it is a decision, to invite anybody from outside the constituency to step in and take the land in what is really a congested area. With regard to the applicants for the land, I do not know Tom, Dick or Harry. I do not know who the particular local applicants are. But it would be unfortunate if a kind of undesirable trouble were precipitated in an area where there is no case why it should be brought about. I therefore would be content to urge the Minister so far as he can personally to look into the matter, and I will leave it at that with confidence that what I fear might take place will not take place.

Listening to the different Deputies speaking on this Vote what amazes me most is that speakers generally from the Opposition speak as it were in the interests of the farming community. In fact, listening to Deputy Bennett this evening, he went so far as to insinuate that there was no farming representation on these Benches at all. I feel that there are as many Deputies representing the farming interests on these Benches as there are on the Opposition Benches. If there is any doubt in the Deputy's mind as to whether these interests are being properly looked after or not, he ought to jog his memory and he will find that in the interval since the dispute cropped up there have been two Parliamentary elections and one Local Government election, and they ought to prove definitely that the farming community are interested in the Fianna Fáil policy of the day. There is one thing I cannot understand in connection with Deputies opposite. Both Deputy Roddy and Deputy Dillon condemned the Land Commission for going too fast. Now we had Deputy O'Higgins this evening approving of the acceleration of land division. I do not know how we are to reconcile the statements of what I take to be responsible Deputies, one exactly opposing the other so far as the policy of the Land Commission is concerned. There was a hint about some Deputies on these Benches being inclined to stab the three F's. Deputy Dillon seemed to make great play with that. I ask any Deputy opposite what is the Land Commission to do with farms that are derelict, with farms that are not paying rent and rates, or other farms referred to by some Deputies where there is acute congestion, where people have no way of living, and where hundreds of acres are under the care of a part-time herd with a dog.

Deputy Dillon made great play with people talking about the national interest. There is a national interest involved. I think it is the duty of any Government if land is not used in the national interest to see what can be done to have it used in that direction. Great play was made about what Deputy O'Reilly stated—that a farmer was entitled to use his land in the best possible interest. I agree with that, if it is used in that way. But, if it is derelict or half derelict, or if for three or four years the rent and rates are due on it, I think it is time for the Land Commission to resume the holding and put it into working order. As Deputy Keyes said, there is not sufficient land to go round and we should be careful therefore in dividing the land to see that it will be used in the national interest.

Other Deputies talked about security of tenure. I say that the Land Commission should go slow about vesting the new allottees. I say that ten years would be a short enough period before any allottee is vested. I do not believe in spending public funds in building houses, ditches and drains and making homes habitable, and then allowing the tenants to sell the holdings. I do not believe that a farm should be left with a man who sets it by the 11 months year in and year out. That was not the intention of the Legislature. That was not the decision at the elections. The decision was to divide the ranches. I cannot understand Deputies saying that the Land Commission are going too fast when the decision of the last two elections, I believe, was that the Land Commission were not going fast enough. The Minister is trying to carry that out—to accelerate the Land Commission.

We had it from Deputy Brennan and from some other Deputy that the farmers are not being given an opportunity to make a living. Deputy Brennan went so far as to say that fixed prices were of no advantage to the farmer. Will these Deputies tell us what they would do in similar circumstances over and above what the Government has done? I want an answer to that question. I speak as a farmer and I believe that if the farmers are encouraged to do tillage or any other class of work on the farms, they are entitled to some guarantee of a return at the end of the year. That was the intention of the Government in fixing the price of pork, butter, etc. I want to hear from Deputies who find fault with us what they would do in similar circumstances. If you divide a ranch and ask men to till it, they must have some money to spare. It is the duty of the Government to see that if they grow certain crops and produce certain food they will get a market for them. The Government have done that. I want to hear from Deputies opposite what they would do in similar circumstances.

Every Deputy refers to his own constituency when he is speaking, and I have a feeling that land division in Longford is not going on as speedily as I should like to see it. No doubt there were certain farms inspected five or six years ago, and some seven years ago, and I was led to believe three years ago that some of these were to be divided. For instance there is the Payne estate in Longford. I think it is six or seven years ago since that estate was inspected, but it has not been divided yet.

There is also an estate known as the Webb Estate which is supposed to go this year. It was supposed to go last year, in fact in the last three years, but it is not gone yet. There is another estate that I would like the Minister to take particular note of and that is the Regan estate. A whole lot of other counties are claiming it and there is acute congestion, and if this Regan estate is not acquired the hopes of these people are dashed for ever. There is no other opportunity in that area. There is no injustice done to anybody, and I would ask the Minister to have a special inspection made of that. If he sends down an impartial inspector I have no doubt he will report as I am reporting to the Dáil this evening. I think, generally speaking, the Land Commission inspectors are doing their best in difficult circumstances, but I do not agree with Deputy Dillon when he told this House that a Land Commission inspector should not consult the local T.D. A T.D. is supposed to be an honourable man, and I do not think that any T.D. would mislead the Land Commissioners. I think the Land Commission are doing their best in the circumstances. There will be some disappointments. I do not think any Land Commissioner could please everybody but, generally speaking, I am satisfied they are doing their work as best they can.

I have listened to Deputy Victory and, as one of the older members of this House, I can assure him, after 16 years, that I have never had the pleasure of a visit from a land inspector in my area, nor do I wish it. You will have disappointments in many cases. We have had land divided in my own county and there have been disappointments, and always will be where you have a hundred men for land that will only accommodate ten or 20. The other 80 will be disappointed. I have always made sure when sending any recommendation—I do not say they are ever approved by the Land Commission— but I always take good care that I never interview an inspector. I give Deputy Victory a tip that, if he wants to remain in this House, he will keep as far away as possible from the division of land. Furthermore, I would mention the point that while the work of dividing land in the areas is going on we seem to overlook a particular class that have a particular claim, and a strong claim, to any portion of the land that may be divided. We have in my constituency the descendants of evicted tenants and very few, if any, of these men get the land. I do make a special appeal for the evicted tenants and I agree with Deputy Fogarty that the men who have rendered service to this country—the I.R.A. men—should get it; their claims should be favourably considered in all cases where land is being divided. Unfortunately, Counties Wicklow and Wexford are very highly valued and highly rated. Therefore, you have high valuation and a small portion of land. Seven acres in County Wicklow would probably be more highly valued than about 30 acres in the West of Ireland and, therefore, a number of uneconomic holders are deprived of ever having land under the land distribution. I would say where land is highly rated in Wicklow and Wexford special consideration should be given in those cases.

Now, I want to make a complaint against the Land Commission on the question of wages. I have written to the Land Commission protesting against the rate of wages paid by the Department in the Delgany and Netownmountkennedy areas. There are men there working for 24/- a week. The Minister for Agriculture has land and is an employer in the same area and I am sure he is not able to have men employed at 30/- a week; he has to pay much more than 30/- a week to his own employees. Notwithstanding the fact that the Minister for Agriculture has to pay much more than 30/- a week to his agricultural labourers we have the Minister for Lands trying to force men, in the dividing of ranches and building up ditches to work for 24/- a week. I do protest against a Government Department attempting to lower the standard of wages in the area.

A statement may be expected here from me in connection with the trouble we have in County Wicklow in connection with the flying squad. I have heard no complaints about them being discourteous but I do suggest, with the economic war over for the time being, one cannot be accused now of trying to embarrass the Government in negotiations, and while they have a very difficult job, I want to pay a tribute to the Land Commission—it is seldom I pay a tribute to a Government Department. We were in difficulties and we had a serious problem to face and I certainly do pay a tribute to the Land Commission for the part they played. The advice they gave me and the assistance they rendered saved serious trouble from taking place in that particular county. I want to say that now as the economic war is over for the time being. I want to put a stay on the activities of the flying squad. I am satisfied, that the people concerned with the trouble cannot be accused of attachment to any political Party or of being either Blueshirts or Blackshirts. As far as I know, they include members of all Parties—Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. They are joined together and only want certain considerations. I think when the policy of the Department to accept payment by instalments where there are genuine cases of hardship is carried out you will have a settlement of the position in County Wicklow. You may ask why are they not able to pay in that particular area. I am not speaking for each and every man who owes money to the Land Commission but, from my own personal knowledge, I know men of all Parties that have met with hard times; they had a lot of stock at the time the trouble started and they have not been able to replace that stock owing to their financial position. It is not a deliberate boycott against the Government. I know a couple, a small minority, who are taking advantage of the distress of the majority but, however, those were small, and I do appeal to the Department now to remove the squad from the county and allow the arrangement that has been arrived at to be carried out in a peaceful way. We in Wicklow are not satisfied with the allocation of the agricultural grants. You have had your squad there for over 12 months. Notwithstanding that, they owe the Wicklow County Council £66,000.

Is it the Land Commission that owes those moneys?

Yes, Sir. The Land Commission have deducted £66,000 from the grant due to the Wicklow County Council. I submit that in other areas where land annuities are not paid even as well as in County Wicklow, there is very little reduction, if any, to the County Council, and there is a feeling abroad even amongst officials of the County Council, that we are not getting our just share, and even if the annuities are collected in this particular area they will not send until next year the grants for the money collected this year. In other words, then, you have to increase the rates for the particular town. Now, the rates in Wicklow are very high from the agricultural point of view, and we are prepared to give a challenge to the Land Commission; we are prepared to send up officials from the Wicklow County Council to meet the Land Commission officials and let them see and satisfy the officials, or at least, if the Land Commission will accept the challenge that the Land Commission will prove that this money is due. The Land Commission, of course, will not allow anybody to go over their books. We must accept the statement that the money is due, but we are challenging them, and we are prepared to challenge them in their own Department or in any other place if they wish to accept the challenge. Now I do ask the Department to consider the position of Wicklow as being different from any other county. As I said, we had the stock at the particular time and the men have suffered severe losses; they have endeavoured in many ways, to my own knowledge, to pay the rates, and it is not right, as Deputy Victory states, that because a man is two years in arrear that the land should be taken from him.

Members of our Party here, if we made such a statement as that made by the Deputy, would have been termed Communists and Bolshies and various other names, but we do contend that in the particular case mentioned the man has not been left in the position to pay his rent and rates and definitely there is hardship in many ways. Now when the accusation to which I have referred cannot be thrown around, I would ask the Land Commission to carry on for the next six months as they have been carrying on for the past three or four months. The Farmers' Association are prepared to meet the Land Commission and give them every assistance possible so as to see that those who are in a position to pay will pay their annuities. They will be in a position to prove to the Land Commission that there are cases where it is impossible at the moment for men to pay, and they will do all they can to help the Land Commission to gather in the arrears. I am sure if these men who are a few years in arrears get a chance to pay by instalments, they will do so. We all know that in a rural area nearly everybody knows the position of his neighbour and they are in the position that they can give useful information to the Land Commission. I wish personally to thank the men in charge of the collecting branch in the Land Commission for the helpful advice they have given. If they are given further powers I am sure that a solution of the problem in Wicklow will be arrived at in a short time and any differences that exist between the farming community and the Land Commission can, with the co-operation of both parties, be easily adjusted.

Feilmeóra beag 'seadh mise agus ceapaim gur ceart dom labhairt ar cheist roinnt na talmhan sa tír seo. Is féidir liom é sin a dhéanamh níos fearr ná cuid de na Teachtaí atá tar éis labhairt mar gheall air mar tá cuid aca agus ní dhearna siad oiread is obair lae ar an talamh. Tá Rialtas i réim anois atá ullamh an talamh do roinnt ar mhuinntir na hEireann má thugann na daoine congnamh dhóibh chun é sin do dhéanamh. Sé mo thuairim láidir nach bhfuil aon leigheas eile le fáil ar son na bhfeilméaraí agus daoine gan talamh sa tír seo ach iad do chur ar ais ar a ngabháltais. Bhí tráth sa tír seo nuair a díbríodh na daoine go hifreann nó go Connacht ach faoi láthair tá a mhalairt de scéal ann agus tá na daoine ag dul ó Chonnacht. Tá áthas orm go bhfuil an scéal mar sin faoi láthair.

Bhíos ag éisteacht leis an méid a dubhairt an Teachta O Raghallaigh agus is dóich liom gur chuir sé in úil don Dáil nach raibh fonn mór air muintir Chonnachta fheiceál ag teacht go dtí Contae na Midhe, ach san uair chéanna, níor chuir sé ina aghaidh. Samhluigheann sé dom go raibh lámh ag bualadh agus lámh ag tárrtháil aige. Is dóigh liom go raibh an Teachta O Ceallaigh ag labhairt beagnach ar an gcuma céanna.

Cúis bróid dom, agus mé ag cainnt an chéad uair sa Dáil seo, go bhfuil buaidh ag an nGaedhilg ar an mBéarla agus tá buidheacas sin ag dul do Eamon de Bhalera.

Looking over the Estimate for the Land Commission, one is surprised to find year after year, that the Estimate is increased. I should like some explanation from the Minister as to why, year after year, there should be an increase in the Estimate. I learn that there was a big number of temporary inspectors appointed quite recently. If any Deputy goes through his files for a number of years back— I have had to do it time and again and I am sure other Deputies have had the same experience—I am sure he will find that seven or eight years ago the same cases were brought up and yet, if you communicate with the Land Commission, you get merely the same acknowledgment, just a few words and nothing further. It is rather remarkable to observe the attitude of the Land Commission in dealing with tenanted and untenanted land. In the West of Ireland, particularly in East Galway, the constituency that I know pretty well, I find that there are very big ranches that have not been touched although, for a number of years, people have been agitating for land in those areas. I know one estate of 400 acres that is being grazed by a man in East Galway who has already 1,600 acres under grass. That is nothing new so far as I can learn from the communications and the interviews I have had regarding land distribution in East Galway.

The position is as backward to-day in that respect as it was ten years ago. You have people in another part of the county who have 50 to 80 acres and they are being harassed by the Land Commission inspectors, a regular system of tyranny being carried out on those people, as to why they should not give up portion of their land. I have come across several cases of that kind. I have come across the case of a lady from whom the Land Commission acquired 63 statute acres three years ago. It was very good land and they acquired it at £300.

There were seven tenants put into that land two years ago and, so far, that lady has not got one penny of the money she was supposed to have got and that she should have received three years ago. What did they do besides that? They put this lady into a parcel of land of 21 acres, with a house. She found it impossible to carry on the farm by herself. She offered the place for sale and got an offer of £1,200 for it. What did the Land Commission do? They refused to allow that lady to dispose of those 21 statute acres of land and the house. It is most unfair that the Land Commission should proceed in this fashion in dealing with people.

I think the blame in these matters is not the fault of the inspectors; there is some body or party at the back of it that is causing too many inspections of the land. This is particularly true of the smaller estates. Even in the case of the larger estates that are about to be acquired there are too many inspections. In the case of small holders there are inspectors inquiring as to the number of sons or daughters, the number of acres tilled, and so on. There is too much of that sort of thing going on. Where that is happening there is insecurity. People are afraid to do a hand's turn to the land and, in fact, the value of the land is going down. People are afraid the Land Commission will walk in some day and take it over.

One Deputy here said that the lands should not be vested for ten years. Now I have come across some terribly hard cases. One of them is practically adjoining the County Roscommon, in the parish of Creggs, where two small holders of £4 and £5 valuation received additional allotments, bringing their valuation up to £7 and £8. That was three years ago. Some months ago the inspector came along and informed those two people that the Land Commission would require that land again, thus bringing their valuation down to the old £4 and £5, from £7 and £8. I understand they have given that land to other tenants, one of whom has a valuation of £9 already. That man has already got land in two properties. When that kind of thing is allowed to go on there is uncertainty. I have come across a case where a man sold his holding two years ago. The Land Commission and the local inspector were agreeable to the sale, and the sale was carried out to a young man who came from America. The valuation of the holding was £16. This man paid the rent and rates and gave a fair deposit. Quite recently he was told by the same inspector that the Land Commission was resuming that holding. That is the position down there. It is not good for the people that that condition of things should continue. The people are inclined to work the land if they are left alone. There are several estates in the County Galway up to 500 or 600 acres that could be divided. Other Galway Deputies can bear me out in this.

There is one other matter that I wish to bring to the notice of the Land Commission. It is with regard to some turbary on the McMurrogh estate, near Glenamaddy. The tenants had this turbary for some time. It was taken from them and handed over to one man who certainly is a very prominent Fianna Fáil member in that particular area. A number of families there are deprived of that turbary, which has been handed over to this man and has been in his sole use for the last three years. These people have to travel miles to buy turbary. It was a disgrace to take this turbary from them. They were entitled to it. That turbary was taken from them and handed over to one man.

There is another matter that I wish to mention. I find in travelling through the country small plantations of trees here and there which certainly help to beautify the scenery. These were of great benefit to the neighbourhood, and to the land. Now these trees are being cut down. Permission must have been sought from the Land Commission to out these trees. They are being cut down on small holdings, and cut down to such an extent that a real trade in the matter has grown up. They are being cut down not for firewood, but for sawing and export. I find that there is no attempt being made to re-plant these areas. That is not right. These plantations would run probably from a quarter to a half an acre.

On the matter of housing, I think the action of the Land Commission is anything but commendable. I think it is most disgraceful that the Land Commission should expect the farmers of the country to live in houses which cost only £150, while labourers' cottages in the vicinity cost £280. Can the Minister not mend his hand in that matter? Can he really expect a four-roomed house with a dairy to be built for £150, because that is what is being allowed? A house cannot be built for £150. There must be something defective, either in the work or in the timber in such houses. I do not see how a house could be built for £150 while a labourer's cottage in the same district costs £280. I ask the Minister to take a note of these matters. Now there are a number of large estates in East Galway that have not been distributed yet. These are the Johnston, Watson, Finney, Stackpoole and Daly estates. Plenty of young men and smallholders are waiting for these lands. I hope also that the Minister will discontinue these continual inspections of small holdings, and this is certainly going on down in the West.

No one likes to see land distribution influenced by a political tinge. I remember a few months ago attending a meeting in Tuam. Deputy Tubridy was there on the same occasion. The meeting was called to protest against the Land Commission's inaction in the division of land down there. It was stated very definitely by a Fianna Fáil secretary that Fianna Fáil had the division of those lands in hands. He told the meeting that the Minister for Lands was to be down there inside a month to see that the land was distributed. I might mention that the Minister did not come down. The idea at the back of his head was to reorganise a worn-out Fianna Fáil club but, apparently, it did not work. The Land Commission did not pay much attention to him. I do not think there is anything more I have to state on this Estimate, but I would like the Minister would give attention to the few matters I have brought under his notice.

Ba mhaith liom cúpla focal a rá ar an gceist seo. Tá a lán ráidhte ag Teachtaí eile maidir leis an obair atá ar siúl ina gContaethe féin. Ach ní mar sin atá a scéal againn-ne. Tá daoine á n-aistriú ó Iar-Chonnacht go Contae na Midhe. Daoine iad seo a mba dheacair dóibh slighe mhaireachtana a fháil in Iar-Chonnacht. Ní raibh acu annsin ach droch-thalamh agus ba mhaith an rud do na daoine seo go dtáinig an Rialtas seo isteach. Tá sé ráidhte sna páipéirí agus tá ráfla ag dul thart nach bhfuil cuid de na daoine i gContae na Midhe sásta na daoine seo a bheith ag dul ina measg. Más mar sin atá an scéal, ní maith an rud é. Níl cead ag na daoine seo atá ina gcomhnuidhe in Iar-Chonnacht dul go Aimerice anois mar ba ghnáth. Tá an áit sin dúnta dóibh. Fhaid agus tá talamh nach bhfuil duine ar bíth ag obair air in Eireann, deirim gur ceart é a roinnt agus gur ceart cuidiú do thabhairt don Rialtas é sin do dhéanamh. Nílim ag iarraidh ar an Rialtas an talamh seo i gContae na Midhe a thabhairt do mhuinntir Iar-Chonnacht, má tá daoine ar cheal talmhan sa gContae sin. Má tá daoine annsin atá gan talamh ba cheart an chéad deis a thabhairt dóibh ach, ina ndiaidh, ba cheart deis a thabhairt do Mhuinntir Chonnacht. Táim sásta go bhfuighidh an Rialtas congnamh o gach dream chun an talamh díomhaoin a roinnt.

I want to make it quite plain to the Minister that although I am a Government Deputy I do not approve of the slow methods of the Land Commission in the matter of land division. When I was a Deputy in Opposition, a Deputy from County Tipperary stood up on these benches, which were then occupied by the Opposition Party of to-day, and stated that he disagreed with the methods of the then Minister, who was a member of his Party. I find myself in the same position to-day. I disagree with the slow methods of our Government in the matter of land division. I am very sorry to have to do so, because the Minister is a very genial man, and one finds it hard to criticise his administration. He has a way of getting out of all such difficulties. I, however, want to tell him, here and now, that as regards the division of land in County Galway, we are not at all satisfied. Practically no progress has been made in areas like Claregalway, Kiltulla, Clonbur and several districts round Caherlistrane. We have been agitating for ten years to get these lands divided, but we are in the same position to-day as the first day Fianna Fáil came into power. We are in the same position as when Deputy Roddy was in charge of the Land Commission.

You were in a better position then.

Deputy Brodrick will tell you the same. There is an establishment down in Galway in which there are nine or ten officers of the Land Commission, some of them highly qualified engineers, and what they are doing I do not know. They were there under Deputy Roddy, and they are there now under our Minister. Not one acre of land, as far as I know, has been divided in County Galway since this Government came into power, or even since Deputy Roddy was put in charge of the Land Commission. People are getting very disgusted with this business. I have referred to farms at Kiltulla and at Clonbur. Deputy Roddy perhaps can afford to laugh at this matter. There are three farms in Claregalway and nine or ten farms around Headford, and not one of them has been touched since 1922. I asked Deputy Roddy before in this House, when he was responsible for the Land Commission, what he was doing about it, and I am now asking the present Minister what he is doing about it.

You will die asking about it

I shall continue asking about it. I cannot understand what the staff stationed in Galway City are doing there. There are about nine or ten of them. They are paid good salaries, much better salaries than Deputies here are paid. I should like to know what they are doing. They may have a lot of work to do, but I should like to know what it is. I would urge the Minister to speed up the division of land in County Galway. It is all very well for Deputies to stand up here and press the particular needs of their own districts. Each one, of course, has his own trouble. I can quite see that when people elect a Deputy to represent them in the Dáil naturally they expect him to put forward their demands in the Dáil, but if there was anything at all done in West Connaught I could answer people who approach me and point out to them the progress that had been made. I hope the Minister will see that the work of land division will proceed with more expedition in County Galway than has been the case for some years past. I wonder, A Chinn Comhairle, if I could say something about reafforestation.

The Forestry Vote will follow this Vote and the Deputy will then have his opportunity. It was decided not to debate the two Votes together.

Deputy Brodrick found fault with the Government because they were giving a grant of only £150 each for farmers' houses. I know Deputy Brodrick is a contractor himself and, although I am not answering for the Government, I would ask him does he want the Government to go down and build the houses for the farmers, even to cart the stones for them? The only disagreement I have with the Minister in that connection is that it is so difficult to get loans or grants from the Land Commission. If a tenant is vested he does not get a grant or a loan. I think the whole question needs investigation and that an open view should be taken in the matter, so that a loan or a grant might be allocated by the Minister whether a holding is vested or not vested, and that the amount should be added to the rent. In view of the necessity for land settlement that would not be asking too much at present, so that grants could be given to tenants according to the valuation of the holdings. I know that it is hard to get any money from the Department and that it is impossible to get any money for housing. Under the new position conditions should be scaled down, and money should be available for small farmers with valuations from £10 to £20, either for the repair of houses or for the erection of new houses. I am not satisfied with the present attitude of the Minister as regards housing, but now that a different situation prevails, he might be able to provide some better facilities than those at present existing. I want to impress upon the Minister that all parties are most anxious that something should be done. Supporters of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour have come together on the question and they want something done quickly, because the people living on holdings with £2 and £2 10s. 0d. valuations, who are trying to grow beet by acquiring land on conacre, are justified in asking to have the land divided.

I thoroughly agree with Deputy Tubridy and with Deputy Brodrick regarding the disgraceful conditions that prevail in County Galway. Several deputations called on me to complain of the failure of the Land Commission to acquire lands around Caraun, Crossboyne, Kilvine, Claregalway and Dunmore. They have a real grievance. I drew the Minister's attention to loans made by the Land Commission for the building of houses. I understand that when an agreement to get a loan of £50 or £80 is signed by a tenant, interest is charged from the date it is signed, notwithstanding the fact that the money is not used, perhaps, for a year or two years. I refer the Minister to a case to which I drew his attention and to a letter I received from him in connection with it:

"I am directed by the Land Commission to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 9th April, 1938, and to state that the sheriff has been requested to return the warrant unexecuted. The matter has been referred to the appropriate branch to deal with the cancellation of the loan of £40..."

The applicant signed for a loan of £50 three years ago and received demand notices for interest on the loan, notwithstanding the fact that not one penny has been advanced. I should like to know if there are any other cases of that kind in the country. I have several cases from South Mayo where the Land Commission has been trying to collect money although letters were written asking them to cancel the loans. A few years ago an inspector was sent down and he induced people to sign agreements for loans to build houses. On reconsideration the people decided not to go on with the building so that the Land Commission was not put to a penny expense. I wish the Minister would look into that question. There is acute congestion in South Mayo in the parish of Aghamore where untenanted land is held by Mr. Brennan. I understand seven or eight tenants, with valuations of about £2, have been trying to get that land acquired and that the Land Commission has written to inform them that the necessary notices have been served. There is also untenanted lands in the parish of Ballyhaunis and Bekan which would relieve over 40 tenants with valuations under £5 and provide economic holdings in the townland of Ranahard.

The Minister should do something to provide economic holdings there, as this is an area in which there has been a lot of trouble about the division of land. It would be in the interests of the peace of the district and it would be best for the Land Commission to get things settled there. Conditions in parts of Mayo are as bad as they were in the days of Captain Boycott. They have police huts there to guard some lands night and day, so that it is time the Land Commission took them over. There are 1,600 acres at Castlemacgarrett held by one owner and around that estate there are five or six electoral divisions containing holdings with small valuations. The Land Commission knows all about the prevailing conditions. I refer to the estate of Lord Oranmore and Browne.

I will give the note that I have here. There is the acquisition of 1,600 acres at Castlemacgarrett on the Lord Oranmore and Browne estate in the electoral divisions of Ballindine, Crossboyne, Kilvine, and Caraun, where you have about 100 tenants, all under £5 valuation. I would ask the Minister to get the files and look into this. This land has been let in grazing for more than 20 years. Memorials and petitions have been sent up by the dozen and promises given that the matter would be attended to, but nothing has been done. We also require the immediate acquisition of the 400 acre farm known as Gortaneran, held by Mrs. Mullett on the Ward estate. This farm was retained by the Land Commission in 1924 for the purpose of providing economic holdings for ten tenants in the townland of Kilscough whose poor law valuations are under £3 each. Nothing has been done for them since. I asked a question in the Dáil in 1934, with reference to this farm. I asked the Minister for Lands "if he is aware that acute congestion exists on the Ward estate, Kilscough, Scardane, Claremorris; that the large grazing farm known as Gortanieran was retained by the Irish Land Commission in 1924 to relieve the existing congestion, and if he will state what steps, if any, are now being taken to divide that farm and provide economic holdings for the tenants living on the Ward estate." The reply I received was that "A notice of provisional intention to resume portion of a holding in the townlands of Gortanieran and Kilscough for the purpose of relieving congestion in the vicinity has been gazetted under the provisions of Section 31 of the Land Act, 1933," and so on.

That is the position with regard to that land. It was retained by the Land Commission in 1924 for the relief of congestion, but since then nothing has been done. You have 400 acres on the Ward estate. There are ten people practically on the verge of the farm with valuations of from £3 to £4 each. I need not tell the Minister that these lands have been driven time and again. There is a police guard there day and night to prevent cattle driving. I do not want to bring politics into this, but something should be done. The Minister should do all in his power to get the land taken over and have it divided.

There is another matter that I want to make a protest about. It has come to my knowledge that within the last month there are people down in the County Mayo who sold their holdings. In one case the holding contained only 4 acres. It was owned by an old lady of about 70 years. It was put up for sale by auction, and £185 was promptly offered for it. On the very next day a resumption order came down from the Land Commission. The price they offered to this old lady was only £40. She had got £185 for the holding by public auction on the previous day. I think that is very unfair. While Lord Oranmore and Browne is left with 1,600 acres and nothing is done, you have a resumption order issued in the case of 4 acres belonging to this helpless old woman. I think the Minister should give an order to the Land Commission to stop that. I do not think any Party in the House would support it.

With regard to the acquisition of land by the Land Commission in the County Mayo, and especially in South Mayo, they have land there which has been let in grazing for a number of years. You have the Facefield property. Then there is the Sligo estate at Hollymount, the lands of Algie, and at Toher, Hollymount. You have all that land, and it has not been divided. You have land in the hands of the Land Commission for 14 years that has not been divided. I hope the Minister will see that any land that is in the hands of the Land Commission will be divided at once and utilised to relieve the congestion that exists. It is not right to have all that land let in grazing. The Land Commission have so much land let in grazing that, I believe, they must be making a profit out of it as they are out of the loans.

Our trouble in the County Tipperary, so far as the Land Commission is concerned, is that they are not going fast enough. We have there vast tracts of fertile land that would be very useful if acquired by the Land Commission and made available for the people. In many cases the owners are willing and anxious to sell. In the county council area of Borrisokane, you have upwards of 20 estates, none of which is less than 300 acres. Many of them are lying derelict. A certain amount of agitation and dissatisfaction prevails in the area because of the slowness of the Land Commission in acquiring those lands. We have had cattle drives and all the rest of it. I wish to quote a few specific cases from that area. There is one estate at Ballyscanlon consisting of 300 acres. It is non-residential. The owner is an old man who has informed the local people that he is willing to dispose of the holding to the Land Commission at any time. There is also the estate of Merton Hall. The owner is dead and, so far as we know, there is no heir to the property in this country. That land is in the hands of a firm of solicitors and may eventually be sold to some large land holders in the district. It also is the cause of considerable dissatisfaction.

In the Nenagh county council area we have a somewhat similar situation. There is one estate there that was the subject of considerable trouble so far as the county council is concerned, because of the large amount of annuities and rates due on it. There is the Flannery estate at Tullamore Park. That place was derelict. An agitation for its acquisition and division was proceeded with by the local people concerned, by the county council and by everybody else. We were led to believe some months ago that the place was acquired and was about to be divided, but nothing has been done. It would seem as if it were going to be allowed to remain there for another year. I could quote several other cases from both areas. The same thing applies in the Thurles and Cashel areas. We have numbers of able-bodied men experienced in the working of land, men who have given good national service and who have capital that would enable them to work land if it were acquired and given to them. If the Minister would speed up land division in that direction it would give general satisfaction in the county. I might mention also the question of bogs. There is one large tract of bog in the north part of the county known as Ballynevin bog, consisting of something like 300 acres. The local people are prevented by the present owner from using that bog for the purpose of providing fuel for themselves. The owner is an old man with no heir, and I think that if the Land Commission would step in there and acquire that bog it would relieve us of another difficulty. There has been considerable agitation in connection with the matter for a long time.

I should like to refer to one other matter which I think has been mentioned by some previous speakers. It is in connection with delay in the carrying out of works on estates which have been divided for a considerable time. It is a question of rights-of-way and various things like that. On the Tipperary-Limerick border, on the Cronin and Ryan estate, we have some cases which have been the subject of representation by me since I came in here, and by others for years previous to that. There seems to be undue delay in the provision of proper rights-of-way to the holdings of farmers. I do not know what the difficulty is; it is very hard to get clear on the point. We have been agitating in regard to the matter, but do not seem to be getting any nearer to the solution. Some other speaker also referred to the question of Land Commission roads. That is a serious problem for the local authorities. The Land Commission just puts in the road roughly, and in a short time it is impossible for the people to use it. It amounts to a considerable burden on the county council if they are to take it over and put it into proper condition. I think there should be some arrangement between the local authority and the Land Commission in that connection. I mentioned the Flannery estate, and I should also like to call attention to the Thompson estate, near Templemore. Applicants for those lands were notified many months ago by the inspectors, and everybody concerned took it that a scheme was being prepared. Now, we find that the period for allotting the lands has passed, and the lands are still there, and about to be let on the eleven months system. The same applies to the Stoney estate, in the extreme north of the county. I do not know what is the cause of the delay, but there is apparently something wrong at all events. The lands are not being divided. In the Trench estate also, there are a number of landowners to whom holdings were allotted away back in 1930, and they allege a number of grievances in the way of roads, rights-of-way, housing and various things like that. I called attention to the matter several times, and an inspector went down there some months ago, but there have been no results yet. The people claim that they have genuine grievances and that they are not being remedied.

Some previous speakers mentioned the collection of annuities. That is a problem in which we are all interested. I myself believe that the position is much improved. The Land Commission, no doubt, were lenient during a certain period when there were hardships to be borne by the people, but unfortunately that leniency was abused. Those who were in a position to pay refused to do so, and the result was that they put hardships on the other people. I do not wish to go further into that matter. I merely want to say that, from my connection with the North Tipperary County Council, I think the position is much improved and is continuing to improve, and I feel that there is no need for any undue pressure at the moment. I should like to say to the Minister and to the Land Commission that the position is righting itself and will, in a very short time, I am confident, have righted itself.

Deputy Jerry Ryan, in the course of his remarks, referred to some undue influence—I do not know exactly what he meant—being brought to bear on the Land Commission in regard to acquiring lands, and also in connection with their division. Nothing of the kind, of course, has happened. The position is that anybody with responsibility—Deputies or otherwise— can go and make their representations to the Land Commission. We have a staff of officials down in Thurles, and I think none of us would be foolish enough to try to use the big stick or to use undue influence there, because we would soon be told our position, and rightly so, too. We are old enough and we are young enough to remember the time when there were such tactics being employed, and when schemes were actually prepared by the active agents of Cumann na nGaedheal. I think if Deputy Jerry Ryan would carry his mind back a few years he could recall facts which would go to prove my statement. He should be very well conversant with such practices. He referred to the thing as wangling, and referred to it in what I consider a nasty way. I think that before a Deputy would make statements like that he should be prepared to substantiate them by actual specific cases. He was not in a position to do so.

Before I conclude there is one thing that I wish to mention. Deputy Dr. O'Higgins in the course of his remarks this evening referred to a certain estate in the Moneygall area, and to some terrible things that he was led to believe were about to happen there. There was a very undesirable foreigner, he was informed, being brought in there. I am confident that I have an idea of what he meant. I take it he was referring to the Minchin estate, which I understand has been acquired and is about to be divided. I am afraid that I am right also in laying my finger on the "undesirable individual" to whom he referred. He is an old I.R.A. man who gave good service when the nation needed it, service of which any man might well be proud. He happens to live on the side of the mountain a couple of fields from the estate, in my county. He is, as I said, an old I.R.A. man with a first class record: a man who has been working on the land all his life-time; a man who will make good use of a holding if it is allotted to him. He is now at the age of settling down and providing a living for himself. He had a small portion of land on the mountain side, and he is being offered a farm in exchange on this estate. I hope and pray that the Land Commission will proceed on those lines and give that man what he richly deserves. I do not want to say any more, but I hope the Minister and the Land Commission will take note of the few matters I mentioned and try to do something to remedy those difficulties.

Nuair a bhí an díospóireacht seo ar bun cheana, trí seachtaine o shoin agus aríst indiú, chuala mé go leor cainte in aghaidh na ndaoine a thabhairt o Chonamara, Ciarraighe agus Dún na nGall go Contae na Midhe. Feicim sna páipéir go bhfuil an-chur ina n-aghaidh ag daoine Chontae na Midhe. Na daoine seo atá i gCo. na Midhe faoi láthair agus atá ag cur in aghaidh na ndaoine o Chonamara is Ciarraighe is Dún na nGall ag fáil gabháltas, creidim gur cuid den tsliocht céanna iad seo is a ndream a thug congnamh do Chromail na daoine chur as Co. na Midhe na céadta bliain o shoin nuair adubhairt Cromail "Go hifreann no go Connachta." Tóigeadh muinntir Co. na Midhe agus a ndream fuagra go bhfuil an saol sin imithe—chó imithe agus tá leághadh cubhair na habhann. Tá mise i ngar do bheith cinnte go bhfuil an oiread ceart ag muinntir an Iarthair a theacht ar ais anois aríst agus cuid den talamh a bhí ag a n-athracha chuaidh rómpa a fháil agus gabháltasaí agus tighthe dhéanamh air mar ba as a cuireadh cuid acu féin o thús.

Deirtear "más feall fillfear"; rinneadh an feall, agus anois, le congnamh Dé, tá an filleadh á dhéanamh. Níor cheart do mhuinntir Cho. na Midhe an oiread doichill seo a bheith acu rómpa, mar má dheineann muinntir Chonamara, agus a leitheide cuirfear ar thalamh na Midhe, tada, déanfa siad níos fearr go mór ná muinntir Cho. na Midhe nach bhfuil acra ná leath-acra curtha acu ach ag imeacht le n-a maide beag mar bheadh ceoltóir ag imeacht a bhaile go baile.

Mara gcoinnítear ag tabhairt na ndaoine seo as Conamara go Co. na Midhe as seo go ceann cúpla bliain is mór m'fhaitíos go mbeidh an talamh seo uilig roinnte faoi'n am sin agus nach mbeidh tada le fáil ag muinntir Chonamara. Mar sin coinníodh Coimisiún na Talmhan dhá dhéanamh seo chó maith agus is féidir leo. Tá mé ag ceapadh gurb é Raifteirí adubhairt:—

"Seachain na Muimhnigh tá an timpeall an-fhada,

Is minic an t-ádh ar na mná in aice an bhaile."

Mar sin, ba cheart rud eicínt a dhéanamh do na daoine nach féidir a atharú agus a fhanas sa mbaile. Fiafrófar céard is féidir a dhéanamh. Deirim-se go mb'fhéidir go leor a dhéanamh leis an talamh ag an mbaile féin. Chuile dhuine ghabhfas go Co. na Midhe, caillfear £900 le gach gabháltas no i ngar dó. Anois dá gcaithtí, abair, fiche oiread seo, sin £18,000 no £20,000, le cuid de thalamh Chonamara a shaothrú tá mé cinnte go gcuirfeadh sé leis le na blianta. D'fhéadfai ceathair no cúig d'acraí den talamh saothruithe seo a thabhairt do na daoine a fágfaí sa mbaile in éindigh leis an ngabháltas beag atá acu féin; chuirfeadh sé fairsingeacht mhór ortha. Tá áiteacha i gConamara a bhféadfaí é seo a dhéanamh go réidh —tógamuid mar shompla siar ón Spidéal. Ansin tá na gabháltais ag rith on bhfairrge go dtí an sliabh. Anois dá dtóigtí isteach ar aghaidh chuile ghabháltas ceathair no cúig d'acraí agus an t-airgead seo a chailleadh leis rachainn-se i mbannaí go mbeadh na daoine an-spóirtiúil as agus go dtiubradh sé congnamh mór don dream a caithfear a fhágáil sa mbaile. Chuirfinn dá scór punta ar a laighead in aghaidh gach acra de seo a shaothrú agus leasú agus chuile rud eile a chur air. Nuair a bheadh sé seo saothruithe bheadh sé chó maith le go leor talmhnaí. Níl mise ag iarraidh ar Choimisiún na Talmhan ná ar dhream ar bith eile rud ar bith a dhéanamh ach an rud a rinne mé féin; shaothruigh mé acraí sléibhe agus tá fás mór féir agus torthaí ann faoi láthair agus ag feabhsú a bhéas sé le aire a thabhairt dó.

Tá dream sa Roinn Talmhaidheachta faoi'n Aire Séamas O Riain ag tabhairt ceathair no cúig de phunta do na daoine as ucht leath-acra no acra a bhriseadh isteach faoi láthair. Tá sé seo ag déanamh maith agus maith mhór, ach níl ann ach mugadh magadh leis an scéal le hais an scéim a bhfuil mise ag caint air. Ar ndóigh, chosnóchadh sé seo airgead go leor agus déarfaidh daoine nár cheart an oiread seo airgid a chaitheamh sa nGaeltacht mar, má tá maith i gcaint, támuid ag fáil chuile rud ach, i mo bharúil-sa, nílmuid a fháil ach an rud a thug Peadar tincéara don asal: "bata is bóthar." Dá n-iarrtaí £20,000 le scéim no déantúsaí a chur ar bun i dTiobrad Arann no i gCo. na Midhe, no in áit ar bith de na bailte móra ní bheadh focal faoi n-a fháil mar fritheadh "factory" i Roscré agus a leitheide a chosain a dhá oiread. Ach beidh bualadh bos ag chuile dhuine má gheibheann an Ghaeltacht tada. Tá súil agam go scrúdóidh an tAire é seo agus go bhféachfa sé leis na rudaí atá mé a rádh a dhéanamh mar, in mo bharúil-sa, ní caillfear an t-airgead agus dá gcailltí féin b'fhiú é thriáil mar cé ar a mbeadh sé á chailleadh ach ar fíor-Ghaedhil na tíre? Mar sin, tá súil agam go ndéanfaidh an tAire agus a chuid oifigeacha—tá fíor-mhuinghin agam as a Rúnaidhe agus cuid dá chuid oifigeacha—go ndéanfaidh siad an ceart.

Rud beag eile faoi bhóithre ag portaigh agus a leitheidí. Teastuíonn go leor acu seo. Bhí mé i bpobal Leitir Fraig coicís o shoin agus chonnaic mé sean-fhear 75 bliana ag iompar a chléibhín móna ar a dhruim treasna na sleibhe agus boicíní ag imeacht ar bhóithre árda a bhfuil sé seo agus daoine mar é ag íoc ortha agus gan blas sógha aige féin ach ag iompar a chléibhín móna. Tá sé in am deireadh a chur le n-a leitheide seo; áit ar bith a bhfuil portaigh ag cúigear no seisear in éindigh ba cheart bóthar a bheith ann.

'Sé mo thuairim go bhfuil lucht na Gaeltachta chó maith le aon chine daonna eile in Eirinn agus tá súil agam go ndéanfar a lán chun an teanga d'aithbheochaint. 'Sé mo thuairim freisin go mbhféidir, tar éis tamaillín, an scéim do chur fé scrúdú chun bhreathnú cionus tá an teanga agus an scéim ar fad ag dul ar aghaidh.

After a period of seven or eight years, it will be time enough to look back on the Gaeltacht settlement in parts of Meath and see how it is progressing in relation to other settlements in Meath. I think it is too soon, after a period of three years, to pass any judgment on it. I confess that I suffer from the same disadvantage as Doctor Tubridy in approaching this Vote. I have a great admiration for the Minister, and I have no admiration for the Land Commission, and if ever there was a case of Box and Cox this is one, because, when we are dealing with the Revenue Commissioners we cannot criticise them, but when we are dealing with another autonomous Department we can criticise them. However, we have to take things as we meet them. I, certainly, am not satisfied with the work of the Land Commission in my constituency. Most Government Departments in all countries are regarded as stupid, and the most stupid Department in this country is the Land Commission. The only thing that can be said about it is that, like Tennyson's Brook, it goes on for ever.

And so does the Deputy.

Well, all I can say about the Deputy who interrupted me is that his remarks jar in this House.

That is too bad.

It is too bad. Anyway, it is certainly not Northern humour. The first matter I would take up with the Land Commission is the work of the Resumption Branch. I cannot understand the working of the Resumption Branch, and I give a case in point. The Ryan estate in County Westmeath is a resumed holding. The original owners of that estate have been dead for a number of years. All the beneficiaries of that estate and the courts have indicated to the Land Commission that they are willing to allow the division to go on, to get the proceeds and have a distribution of the proceeds; and yet the place is derelict there. It is not let by the Land Commission to anybody. It is a commons for grazing to the whole country; the ditches are broken down; there is no caretaker on it, and the Land Commission will do nothing, but every six months you get the usual acknowledgment that the matter is having attention. I cannot see any case put up in defence of what is going on on the Ryan estate in North Westmeath, and that is one of a couple of cases in the county.

In regard to the actual division of an estate, I allege that there is no system at all in the Land Commission. There is no system comparable with systems in other Departments. An inspector comes around to a locality to divide land. In the majority of instances, nobody is notified that he is coming. He calls at a house for a particular applicant. The man concerned may be working miles away. He may be at a fair; he may be at a funeral; he may be away attending to other business; but that is the only chance he gets of making his case. An official notification should be sent to every applicant for land to meet an inspector at a particular time on a particular day, and each individual applicant should get his opportunity of making his case. I know of one instance where that was done, and there was satisfaction. I know of dozens of instances, however, where it has not been done. It is time that a system, in my county anyway, was introduced in relation to that particular matter.

I said that the Land Commission was a stupid Department. I give another instance of its stupidity. Within the last three years a holding was taken on the Murphy Estate in North Westmeath and was given to a man adjoining that estate. The Land Commission gave out a contract to a contractor to build a house on the portion of the Murphy Estate that they gave to the man living beside it. The road leading to the land and to the new house was on the Murphy Estate, and they gave out the contract without seeing that the man who got the land, Weldon, had a right to go in to the land or that the contractor who got the contract to build a house had a right to go in to build the house. The result is that for months—nearly a year—you have the shell of a house there on the Murphy Estate, and the man to whom the land was given has not the right to go on to the land, and the contractor to whom the contract was given to build the house is prevented from going on the land or building a house. Now, if one inspector has come there, half-a-dozen inspectors have come. They have come and gone, and that is all we know about it. It is not a terribly major problem and there is no reason why it should not have been settled long ago. I have lost all hope of getting any justice there, nor do I see any use in going there to make any representations whatsoever.

Deputy Dillon made a statement here in his speech with reference to the Land Commission. In the course of his speech he said:

"I think the Minister might sound a note of warning"—

he was referring to the inspectors—

"to all the inspectors and point out to them that they had got to be tactful when conducting inquiries in the neighbourhood of an estate about to be divided. If they had the advantage of discussing their plans with persons who were very violently associated with the Fine Gael Party they ought also to seek out someone who was an ardent supporter of the Labour Party or an ardent supporter of the Government Party to get their views."

I think it would be a much more reasonable thing if my suggestion were carried out—that every applicant for land, no matter to what Party he belongs, should be notified to attend and meet the inspector on a particular day and at a particular time. There would be then no allegations of Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil influence—Fianna Fáil influence, of course, does not exist. One thing that struck me in connection with the speakers from the Opposition Benches was that one was trying to outdo the other in praise of the officials. I know that officials cannot get up here and defend themselves in the House. Officials should do their duty apart from any Party. I want no favours from them and I have never sought them. But, I certainly resent officials going down to my county and going out with the local Fine Gael agents on bogs and land and passing everyone else by. The thing should be done in an official way.

Deputy Victory advocated that land should not be vested in the incoming occupant for ten years. I heartily endorse that. The greatest gift that the State has in its possession is land. You can give a man £50 and he can squander it in a day. But, give him land and you are giving him the most stable thing in the possession of the State. Consequently, when you are giving out this thing to him, which is a limited commodity, the period of vesting should be extended. If I had my way, personally I would extend it to 20 years. Years ago in my own constituency, when the late Laurence Ginnell was carrying out his anti-ranch campaign, I saw him and those associated with him given long terms of imprisonment; and it is no exaggeration on my part to say that 75 per cent. of the farms divided then are back in ranches again. The minute the occupants got a chance they put up the farms for auction, realised them, and now they are back in ranches again. If that circle is going to continue, the policy of land division is of little benefit to the country. I say that at least ten years should elapse before the land is vested in these new occupiers.

Certain points were made relative to the letting of land, and it was stated that in many cases the new occupants were not using the land. When a new occupier goes into a farm it requires a considerable amount of capital to stock that farm. I think there should be no frowning on that occupier if he lets the land for a few years. You will find that in the majority of cases the amount of land that he lets is less and less each year. I would much sooner see a man do that than stock the whole farm immediately on a loan which would be a burden round his neck and eventually crush him. From my experience in the Midlands, the letting policy for a term and the area diminishing is the better and safer policy.

One thing that has proved a great success in my county, anyway, and which I would advocate more of, is the provision of cow parks in the vicinity of villages and towns. The Land Commission from time to time have provided cow parks which are vested in the board of health. The board appoint a caretaker, and young stock are taken in from cottiers and very small, uneconomic holders. It has proved a benefit and a blessing to the whole locality where it exists. I should like to see these cow parks everywhere. I have known people to build up a small stock as a result of having cattle on these cow parks and become successful occupiers of land afterwards. Even if they never became occupiers of holdings. I think one of the greatest blessings a cottier has is a cow and that that policy of cow parks should be encouraged in my county, anyway. I think it would be good for every other county, too.

Deputy Brasier made an appeal for the ex-soldiers and sailors. I suppose he refers to the men who took part in the Great War 20 years ago. Deputy Brasier's friends have been well looked after for the last 20 years, and it is time we looked after our own soldiers now. Much play has been made about old I.R.A. men. They are a diminishing body, and the more we can do for them the better. They are put through the same examination as any other applicant for land, and if a plea should be made for any ex-soldiers it is for the ex-I.R.A. men that plea should be made. There is a small matter with reference to land division that I once referred to here, and I refer to again. It is this: the Land Commission do not know how to make a ditch. They do not know how to make an ordinary ditch around a field. They go out and dig a scraw over half the field, and a cow or any animal hitting against the ditch knocks it down. It will not grow quicks. There is an old Northern proverb which Deputy McMenamin may know—I forget the quotation—anyway, it means that when you make a ditch you should dig it right down, and get the head right, and have a ditch that will not be knocked down. But some genius in the Land Commission who studied fertility of soils or something, and perhaps horticulture, thought he would grow quicks more quickly; he went and dug scraws over half the field, and that policy obtains, for once a policy is put down in a department it remains for a century. The result is that the unfortunate incoming occupant of the land has to go and make a real ditch afterwards. I would like some important official of the Land Commission to go down to some practical farmer, and let him see that farmer make a ditch that would last for all time, and abandon this nonsense of ditches that could be knocked down with a blow of your breath.

I would like to see more housing in County Westmeath by the Land Commission. The number of houses compared with Offaly is very, very small. I believe we are the one unit at present.

Finally, I just want to make this reference to the resumption of holdings— there seems to be no defined policy in the Land Commission with reference to resumption. There was a farm of 100 acres on the Meath-Westmeath border recently, and the occupants of that farm, through the stress of times, got into debt and they applied—I do not know whether they did it wrongly or not, I am not defending the particular way they went about it—but they decided, for the sake of the family, the young family growing up, to sell half that land. They put it up for sale. Now that was in a locality where there were holdings of 500 and 600 acres of non-residential land and, whether it was Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael was responsible, the Land Commission came down after the sale and would not agree to the sub-division, and the Land Commission took over the 50 acres and divided it. Now, I said if it was Fianna Fáil that stood for that policy I would break with the local Fianna Fáil organisation that advocated it. That family worked that holding to the best of their ability; the times got them into difficulties; and in order to provide for their children and pay their debts they put up 50 acres of land. That was done in an area where there had been agitation for division of ranches for years. I do not know who is responsible for that but, giving my own individual opinion, on which I will stand here and outside, I do not stand for that kind of thing, and I say it is a wrong policy. These are my comments, a Chinn Comhairle, on the Land Commission.

I do not know whether to start criticising the Minister or the Land Commission, but I have got a cue from the last speaker, Deputy Kennedy. You have got to look at it two ways—which of them can you hit harder and still not offend. I suppose there is a lot to be said for the old saying that a body corporate or institution has no soul to be damned or no body to be kicked. Perhaps the easiest way is to take the Land Commission or, in other words, the unfortunate officials. Well, there may be something to be said for that argument, but I think you have got to see that the officials are simply following out the policy of the people placed in authority over them. Hence, in taking it from that angle I do not think it is fair or just to the officials concerned. Firstly, Deputy Kennedy seemed to find fault with the method as to how ditches are made, as to how the Land Commission inspectors or Land Commission officials divide land and how they make ditches. I do not know much about making ditches and I do not know as much as Deputy Kennedy knows about it, but is there not one thing perfectly obvious—if you want anyone to do work properly you must pay them properly, and has it been the policy of the Land Commission, or those administering it, to pay people to make ditches or divide land by that method?

Have they paid these men a proper wage? Have they paid these men wages in keeping with the wages paid for similar work in the district? I say emphatically they have not and that the Land Commission have definitely achieved and got for themselves a name of being very bad employers. In County Dublin they have offered as much as 27/6 a week to a labouring man to divide land or to build ditches where across the road another Department, which has been very much criticised here, has been paying men for similar work about £2 2s. to £2 5s. a week. Well, the least we expect from the Government or a Government Department is that they would pay a living wage. Unfortunately, I can say with all sincerity and with all truth that in County Dublin that has not been done, with the result that the people who have been allotted the land have very seriously suffered. The men were allotted the land; they signed the usual agreement and, having signed the usual agreement, became liable to pay rates and to pay the annuities fixed, not exactly from that date, but from a considerable period before that. The Land Commission inspector who came down to divide this land offered the sum of 27/6 a week—little more than the 24/- we have heard so much about. The men locally would not work for it, with the result that it was only after about six to nine months that the Land Commission secured men from another county outside Dublin to go in and build the ditches. But the unfortunate allottees of that land have been liable to Land Commission annuities and rates while they could not go into occupation of the land until it was properly divided. I think if you want to get anything done effectively or done properly you have got to pay for it.

Secondly, on the same topic, you have the construction of Land Commission houses on land that has been allotted and divided amongst allottees. I think that it is the practice and laid down in fact that if a contractor gets a contract to build Land Commission houses that he has to pay the equivalent of trade union wages or the prevailing wage in the district. I think that is correct. Well, I can state here definitely that in the County Dublin—I admit that perhaps it is rather hard for the Land Commission to detect it—there are so many ways and means of getting it done—but I can tell you definitely that there are houses at present being constructed in County Dublin where the men are not receiving trade union wages or not receiving wages equivalent to the other wages prevailing in the area. That is positively and absolutely true. They are not getting the wages and they do not express any hope of receiving them. That is rather unfair to other contractors in the district, decent contractors who are building houses and who are paying trade union wages. It also does away with fair and decent competition: if the other building contractors, decent men who pay decent wages, could get away with paying low wages their tenders could be definitely lower and hence they would get the contract.

Now, I am prepared to admit that detection of offences of that nature is rather difficult, and perhaps some other system or some other ways and means could be arrived at for the purpose of detecting these breaches. Perhaps in some instances, due to the non-cooperation of the men themselves, it may have been difficult for an official to detect it. There may be some men working who are definitely in collusion with the contractor who does not pay the wages. I am positively prepared to admit that. You may find black sheep—they may say they are receiving wages which in fact they are not. I admit the inspector is up against that difficulty. It is something which should be inquired into in the interests of everyone concerned. Deputy Kennedy seems to think that official notification should be sent. So far as I am aware, official notification has been sent when lands have been allotted. Perhaps there is the suggestion that the official way in which notification should be sent of the division of land is that the local Fianna Fáil secretary should be notified. Is that what the Deputy suggests should be the official way of notifying people that the inspector is going to attend?

On the question of political influence being brought to bear, that matter has been referred to frequently and is worn almost threadbare. I suppose when the last Government was in office the same thing happened; I suppose the same thing is happening now, and I presume that if the Labour Party were in office, and Deputy Davin was Minister for Lands, the same thing might happen, too.

Not with Deputy Davin.

There is no doubt about it.

Deputy Gorey was the leader of the Farmers' Party.

Mr. Boland

Deputy Davin would not stand for such a thing.

What we object to is that members of the Fianna Fáil organisation call meetings on estates and invite their neighbours and supporters. Then they emulate old Father Christmas, with a long flowing beard, holding in one hand a Christmas cake and in the other a big knife. They divide the land, and they get all this published in the local Press as the policy of the Fianna Fáil Party. I submit that if the people in authority were minding their business properly, that would not happen. There are meetings called on the estates; everybody is called in, and each person is asked how much he wants, and they get it all on paper—they certainly get it in the local papers. I suggest that sort of proceeding is not for the good of the community. It reacts very badly on the Party or the Government that allows it to happen. I noticed quite recently that there were lots of questions asked affecting land in County Dublin. I noticed in speeches delivered to-day there was a lot of prominence given to County Dublin and to ranches that should be taken over. Looking through the questions, I observed that they rather conveyed to local people that the questioner was going to have all the land divided. I also noticed that there were a good many estates left out. I may be incorrect in stating it, but I think that the names left out were generally people who are supporters of the present Government.

That is the rule everywhere.

I noticed also that there was criticism in regard to a lot of land in County Dublin, owned by Kerry men, Cork men, and men from other counties, and it was urged that this land should be divided. I am aware that hundreds of acres owned in that way in North County Dublin were not included in the list. I know that the owner of a large area was a candidate on the Fianna Fáil panel for the Seanad election. It is rather strange that his big farm was not included in the list.

The Deputy should send in a list now.

We all know the types of candidates who were put up for the Seanad election. One gentleman who was a candidate for the Dáil was described as a company director, and for the Seanad he was termed a labourer. It is very hard to know what is a farmer, or to decide upon his correct cognomen. I suggest that political prejudice should not be exercised in the taking over of land or in the distribution of it. In regard to dividing land I suggest that 25 statute acres is not sufficient for any man: he would not be able to make a living on that acreage. He certainly could not do so in County Dublin. The minimum acreage that should be given is at least 40 statute acres. In addition, I would suggest that with the 40 statute acres a man should be afforded some opportunity to borrow capital in order to get on his feet. In many cases when a man takes over land he starts off with a debit. He signs an agreement and gets the land. That agreement renders him liable to pay an annuity which has been running for five or six months. Having got about 25 acres of land, he starts off with a debt of £10, plus rates and current annuities. If you want to have smallholders in the country, you will have to give them more land and facilities to stock the land.

It was suggested by Deputy Kennedy and others that land should not be vested in the tenants for at least ten years. That is an amazing statement. Non-vesting is the curse of this country, and anyone actively associated with the vesting of land in the tenants is aware that it is the curse of the country. The sooner the lands are vested the better for the tenant, the Land Commission and the community generally. Take the tenant of tenanted land or the allottee of untenanted land. It is vested in the Land Commission and the tenants are put into possession. Their only document of title is a receivable order, a pink, green or blue document which they receive from the Land Commission. It is a kind of hybrid between a fee simple and a yearly tenancy. When the land is vested in the Land Commission and the tenant wants to borrow money from the bank, even after eight or ten years, he is told that his document is of no use and is not sufficient security. The banks for the most part are not inclined to lend money on non-vested land, because they consider that the tenant has no interest in it other than a very bad equity. If that statement is analysed, I think it will be found correct. The fact that land is not vested in the tenant deprives him of facilities for obtaining credit.

Again, if the lands are vested immediately, or inside a period of two or three years, they would be automatically registered, and the tenants would receive documents of title, known as land certificates. A tenant can submit a land certificate to a bank and he is entitled to an advance. There is nothing to be said at all for the statement that land should not be vested for at least eight or ten years. Take the Palmer estate, in North County Dublin. There are hundreds of tenants on that estate holding from one to three or four acres. In that part of the country a man is considered a good farmer if he has four acres and he can make a good living on it. I think the land has been for eight or nine years vested in the Land Commission. The tenants are all yearly tenants. The land has not been vested in them, and they are not able to borrow a shilling and consequently are severely handicapped. As soon as that estate is vested it will take away an eyesore from the county and remove a source of trouble to a great many officials in the Land Registry.

There is another question which I think should be inquired into. That is the question of sub-division. I notice in going through the debates on this Estimate that Deputy Linehan referred to this. There was this year no increase, he pointed out, in the sub-division staff of the Land Commission.

That sub-head is the smallest item in the Vote.

I think the sub-division part of the Estimate should be the biggest as far as the staff is concerned. I think the staff should be definitely increased. This applies particularly in the section where the lands are not vested. It takes from nine months to a year or 15 months before an ordinary sub-division can be got through the Land Commission. That is not the fault of the staff or of any particular individual. It is because of the fact that there is not enough staff in that particular Department. The delay in this matter of sub-dividing has caused a great many hardships and has far-reaching ramifications. There is some little improvement in cases where the lands are vested. The matter goes through more quickly but generally it takes 18 months to two years before subdivisions are got through. There is another way in which this matter reacts very injuriously. If a man wants to build a house and borrows the money from the board of health, under the Small Dwellings Act, he finds himself in this position:—He has the house half built. He applies for his loan, but before the sub-division can be obtained the house is built. The man is pressed by the building contractor, by the builders' providers and by everybody else. In some cases the man is sued; there is a judgment mortgage against him and so his credit is injured. I think it could not be impressed strongly enough on the Minister that a great injustice has been done by this delay in sub-dividing the land. I know that the officials in the Land Commission are definitely over-worked and understaffed but until something is done by the Minister to remedy this state of things there is going to be absolute chaos throughout the country and particularly in the County Dublin, where you have so very many small sub-divisions. I know that in the course of the year hundreds of subdivisions have been held up for 18 months and more. There will be chaos amongst builders if something is not done quickly. In this connection there is another matter that is not fair. In a good many instances where application is made to the Land Commission for sub-division a condition precedent to the granting of sub-division is that if the person who is applying for the sub-division has another holding the two holdings must be consolidated. If John Brown is selling a piece of land to John Jones it is made a condition precedent that the land shall be consolidated with another holding of John Jones, if he has another holding, and put into one receivable order. I think that is rather unfair because if a man after he has purchased a piece of land wants to sell it or transfer the portion he has bought to his eldest son or daughter, he has to go through the same rigmarole again and apply for a sub-division.

A Deputy

It is good for the lawyers.

It is certainly good for the lawyers. I have no objection to the lawyers making plenty of money, but it is rather hard on the people who want to make a title. It is a great hardship particularly in small subdivisions, where it is made another condition precedent that the apportioned part of the annuities should be redeemed. There should be no case in consolidating a holding for the apportioned part of the annuities to be redeemed. In some instances this compulsory consolidation of the holdings is made a condition precedent.

The last thing to which I wish to refer is this—the question of the valuation of a holding when taken over from the owner. As Deputy Linehan pointed out, there is a very substantial difference on the value put on lands by the gentleman who values the land on behalf of the Land Commission when they are acquired from the owners, and the gentleman who comes from Ely Place to value the land for estate duty purposes. I have no objection—and nobody would have any objection—if the Minister, when acquiring lands for the purpose of distribution, sends down a gentleman from Ely Place and does not tell him for what purpose the valuation is being made. I think everybody would be satisfied in that case. Personally, I have had a unique experience of having land valued at £25 per acre by a gentleman from the Valuation Office and six months afterwards, when these same lands were being taken over by the Land Commission, of having them valued at £12 an acre less. There is something rather inconsistent in that. The Minister might send a gentleman from the Valuation Office down to value these lands when acquiring them for the purpose of distribution. I do not think that would be a bad experiment. It would work well in most instances. I do not wish to say very much more but just to hope that these few remarks will have some good effect.

Deputy Brodrick complained about bogs being taken from poor tenants and given to the most prominent Fianna Fáil man in the locality. I think he referred to the borders of Galway and Roscommon. I know that one swallow does not make a summer. But lest that should be taken as a straw to show how the wind blows, I think I might refer to cases in the opposite direction. It was decided by the Land Commission that the grazing on the Blake estate, Renvyle, should be vested in those who had been using it. For some reason or another, three of the poorest people were removed from that estate and their portions were given to one person. Strange to say, this person who got it got also a portion of an outside farm. I have been writing to the Land Commission about that. I think it would not have happened were it not that the inspector who divided the lands was more or less a local man. That, of course, was quite wrong. I hope the Land Commission will have the question rectified as soon as possible.

A matter in which I in West Galway am most interested in connection with the Land Commission, is the rearrangement of congested holdings. In most cases that cannot be done without the removal of some tenants. While I do give due credit to the Land Commission and the Minister, particularly in regard to the migration policy initiated by the present Government, yet I think this ought to be speeded up a great deal more. Sometimes the arrangement of the holdings is very bad. These holdings are very poor, but better use might be made of them if each man had his own portion in a compact parcel. For that reason a number of tenants in some cases in Connaught were removed. There are about 60,000 uneconomic holders in the congested districts. That is the figure computed by the Land Commission. I assume that would be 60,000 people under a £10 valuation. In West Galway, particularly Connemara, a man approaching a £10 valuation is considered well-off.

I take it that 40,000 of these would be fairly badly off. I believe the Land Commission have a theory that we must remove one in five if we are to make any sort of decent attempt at rearrangement. That suggests that 8,000 uneconomic holders should be migrated from their present holdings. Taking a conservative figure of 20 acres per migrant, such a scheme would require something in the region of 150,000 or 200,000 acres. I think that that should be the first care and concern of the Land Commission, and that these 200,000 acres, where land is available, should be set aside for that purpose.

I think that in view of the drive that is now in progress in regard to the division of land, and particularly in view of the fact, as I understand it, it is quite easy for landless men of very doubtful qualifications in regard to their suitability for land, to get allotments in districts where land is plentiful, the question of providing for these 8,000 small holders becomes all the more urgent. I think the Land Commission in this matter ought to look on the country as one unit. At all events I, as representing a congested district, am quite satisfied that our problems cannot be solved industrially, short of nationalising industries, and I cannot see that such a policy would ever be adopted by any Government here. Therefore, the only way to solve the problem is to settle the people on the land. All the schemes of amelioration carried out by this Government—and I also give credit to the last Government for their efforts in that regard—are all very well as far as they go. But I maintain that they will not have their full effect, or that we cannot derive full benefit from them, until what I say has been done—until a proper scheme of migration has been adopted, a proper system of rearrangement carried out, and decent houses are provided for these people.

In that regard there is a fairly glaring anomaly in reference to the Gaeltacht housing scheme. This anomaly has more bearing on the Land Commission Vote than on Gaeltacht Services; that is the reason I mention it now. The Gaeltacht Services Department cannot give sanction for facilities under the Gaeltacht Housing Act until they have got a certificate from the Land Commission that the land will not be subject to rearrangement. Under the latest amending Act of the Gaeltacht Housing Act only Irish-speaking families can benefit by the facilities provided. It is in the purely Irish-speaking districts, that is, the FiorGaeltacht, that the congestion and need for rearrangement is greatest. Therefore, this question of rearrangement and migration has its reaction on every other scheme. They are all interlocked. I understand that the commission set up in connection with the Achill tragedy has taken a fairly comprehensive view of the whole problem and that their findings will soon be published. I hope that an attempt will be made to put them into operation as soon as possible.

I do not wish to go into too much detail about specific grievances. I think the Land Commission has been working fairly well. I know they have divided lands in West Galway on which agitations have been carried on for a very long time. On the question of allocation and division of land, I do not think that with the exception of the incidents I mentioned at the opening of my remarks, allocation could have been fairer. It did not matter what pressure was brought to bear, the lands were divided quite fairly and on merit alone. An exception may have occurred here and there, but we all know that mistakes will occur now and again. That is only human. I should like particularly to draw the Minister's attention to the Caherlistrane area. There is a very large parcel of good land in Castlehackett, and a number of other farms not so large, which I think should be acquired. I would also direct his attention to the Lynch estate at Clonbur. An agitation has been carried by the people on that estate for a long time. I know that in regard to many parcels of land in which I am interested the work of acquisition has reached a fairly advanced stage and that in regard to some of them schemes are on the point of being formulated. I would urge upon the Minister, however, to give matters a little extra push so as to bring them to a head with greater despatch.

Dubhairt An Teachta ar an taobh eile de'n Teach gurbh é a thuairim go mb'fhearr thabhairt faoi socrú ceist Conamara le saothrú talmhan ó'n gcriathrach. Tá cuid mhaith déanta cheana ag Roinn na Talmhaidheachta ar an mbealach sin i gConamara ach ní dhéanfaidh sé cúis.

Tá na corusanna feabhais go maith ach níl siad sathach maith; agus go dtí go mbeidh cuid mhaith de na tionóntaí athruighthe go dtí na tailte bána, ní bheidh éifeacht ceart ar na corusannaibh siúd agus beidh siad uilig ag teastáil annsin.

Tá mise go laidir ar thaobh imirce go dtí na tailte bána mar gheall ar na rudaí a dubhairt mé.

That is all I have to say on this Vote. I have very strong views on the question of migration and the rearrangement of holdings, and I would ask the Minister to give due consideration to what I have said in reference to these matters.

This debate has occupied a considerable portion of the time of the House. That is only natural, as land division is a question that was very much in the forefront of Irish political life in years gone by. It seems, despite the efforts of the Land Commission to-day that land hunger is not fully appeased. Some previous speakers have taken exception to the present title of farmers to their land, and they advanced the view that as long as the farmer pays his rents and his rates he has performed his duty to the State and should not be disturbed. I do not agree with that theory. Some time ago a Deputy asked: "Why not acquire businesses in all cities and towns, as well as acquire land compulsorily?" There is no comparison between the two things. First of all, the land of this country is the best asset of the State. The principal necessities of life come from the land, food and drink, and the clothes we wear. I hold that where farmers are not using the land in the public interest it is the duty of the State to see that it is properly used. Some Deputies alleged political influence in land division, but none of them tried to prove the allegation. Someone mentioned that certain members of the Fianna Fáil organisation asked to have land acquired. I think it is the duty of everybody, regardless of political creed, to draw the attention of the Departments of State to any matter which requires State intervention, and that is in the best interests of the community. I am very glad to know that the pre-Truce I.R.A. are getting recognition in the division of land. That is as it should be, because, in my opinion, the people of this country can never repay the debt they owe to the I.R.A. which made it possible to have a Parliament and a Government of our own. Some Deputies discussed the acquisition and distribution of holdings. I am not unduly interested in acquisition, except that I would like to see a good many more holdings acquired and distributed amongst landless people. As far as distribution itself is concerned, I wish that the Land Commission would, as far as is humanly possible, select men who in their opinion would make the best use of holdings given them, regardless of their politics or otherwise.

Coming to the question of land division in the constituency I represent, the only complaint I have to make is the complaint made by many other Deputies, and that is in regard to the slow progress made in land division. There is one estate in course of division at present, and I happened to pass it the day the Land Commission inspector was there, and I can honestly say that he would need 20 times as much land as is available to satisfy the land hunger of the worthy applicants who came before him. I put up a proposition to him, and I asked him to have it conveyed to the proper quarters, in regard to the division of land, and that is that ex-employees on that estate, whether they lost their employment five or six years ago or are about to lose it now should be considered. Portion of the estate was sold to private individuals some four or five years ago and as a result some men lost their employment. I appeal to the Land Commission to see that these men get the same consideration as those who will now lose their employment. While I am not certain I think there are clauses in the Land Act which give the Land Commission power to acquire ground for recreation purposes in towns and villages in the rural areas, and also in connection with rural schools. If the Land Commission has such power I urge that it should be put into operation as soon as possible. Unfortunately we cannot be blind to the fact that there is a drift from the rural districts to the large towns and cities. Some people may say that that is due to the lure of higher wages, that it is the lure of gold that entices these country people to leave their homes and seek their fortunes in towns and cities. I believe that well over 50 per cent. of the young people who leave the rural districts do so to seek pleasure as much as to seek wealth. If every town and village in the country had its playing pitch, where the young men could play national games, where the clash of the ash and the kick of the football could be heard on summer evenings and on Sundays, I believe you would be doing very good work towards building up a real Irish rural manhood. I believe if about two acres of land were attached to every national school in the rural areas we would be helping to develop healthy young Irish boys and girls. In conclusion, I hope the day is not far distant when the Land Commission will have complete jurisdiction over all land in the Thirty-Two Counties of Eire, and that all the land contained therein will be apportioned in such a manner as to produce a happy, contented and prosperous rural population, which, along with the other citizens will enjoy the fruits of the sacrifices of generations of Irish patriots in a free, happy, and united Ireland.

Ba mhaith liom ceist orduighthe do chur os do chomhair, A Chinn Comhairle. Dubhairt an Teachta MacPartholain go ndubhairt mise go mba cheart na portaigh do shaothrú agus gur a b'shin é an méid a dubhairt mé. Ní fíor sin, mar dubhairt mé, leis, congnamh an dá lámh a thabhairt do na daoine. Is féidir iad do chur go Contae na Midhe cho-maith.

What I have to say on this Vote will flavour very little of the personal, in as much as the problem in the County Kilkenny, which I represent, is by no means acute. There is very little agitation there. It is not a county of ranches. As I have said, the problem there at present is not acute, whatever is likely to happen in the future. The remarks that I have to make will be of a general character. I am glad to discover, from the speeches made, that there seems to be general agreement in the House as to what would be an economic holding. With the late Minister for Agriculture, I took a considerable amount of responsibility in deciding, 14 years ago, what an economic holding should be. The decision was that anything less than 20 or 21 Irish acres of land, as a minimum, running into, say, 30 acres of indifferent land, would not be an economic holding. Judging from the speeches made here, the experience of the 14 years that have since elapsed seems to endorse that decision.

The Western problem has been discussed on this Vote. Those of us who live in Leinster and in the South and East, when travelling through Connemara and other Western districts, are puzzled to know how men are able to exist there on the small portions of land they hold, and cannot do as well in other counties when given more and better land. We have to ask ourselves, what is the key to that situation. It was suggested to me principally in the speech of Deputy O'Reilly. It was this, that men are able to live on small portions of land in the West because they have a continuous and inexhaustible supply of manure in the form of seawed. They are able to get that manure along the coast, and have not to produce it. They are in quite a different position when transferred to other counties where this inexhaustible supply of manure is not available to them. In the Midlands they are taken away from what really has been a source of life to them. It is like taking a fish out of water.

Is the Deputy suggesting that in the West they make their living entirely out of the land?

In most cases, yes.

That is not true.

I know that they make part of their living out of fishing.

And there is the American money and public works.

The seaweed is almost a source of life to them in the West. They have all that free manure. There is another matter that is of great interest. It is a thing that is running pretty well through Government policy without the Government confessing that it is their policy. In fact, great care has been taken by Ministers to say that it is not their policy, but in this debate it was given away by Deputy Maguire, who, I think, is chairman of the Fianna Fáil Party. What I am referring to is the Deputy's statement that there is no such thing as ownership in land; that there is no such thing as tenant right—that tenant right has disappeared, and that it is not recognised, or should not be recognised, by the State. There is a good deal of confusion here, when speaking about land and the value of land, between the price of untenanted land and tenanted land. When dealing with untenanted land you are dealing with the price a landlord should get. You take as the basis the price that he got under the different purchase schemes over the last 25 or 40 years. I have not much quarrel with that. But when you come to deal with the tenant's interest, and to deal with it as you have been dealing with it on the principle of confiscation, then I challenge the Government to make a direct and a clear statement of their policy with regard to that.

I know that when Ministers go down the country they take particular care to assure their hearers that they have no intention of interfering with tenant right, that they have no intention of confiscating a man's land, of minimising his rights or interfering with him in any way. Probably they play a different tune in the West, where that policy would be criticised, but in the South and the East they declare that they have no intention of disregarding tenant right. This is a very important matter, because the whole question of the ownership of property— of all property in Ireland—is at stake. The denial of tenant right, of an interest in land, goes back to the pre-Norman age, when the clan system in Ireland determined the method by which land was held amongst the clan. If one clan was powerful enough, it held land against the other clan. That goes back over a very long period, and because it serves the purposes of some politicians, they go back to it and claim it as a virtue. It is ridiculous. Long before I was born tenant right was in every instance a negotiable asset. Our whole life was founded on it. It was the great foundation of our rural life. Marriage settlements and all the rest were founded on it.

In a word, it was the source and the foundation of our credit, of our very existence. Because of it we built and we drained and we fenced; we reclaimed and did everything possible to add to the fertility of the soil. We worked and we sweated to do all that. We put everything we had into our homes and our homesteads, and the State acknowledged our right of ownership. That was well established during all the agitation in Ireland. You had an acknowledgment of it in all the Land Acts, in the three F's—fair rent, free sale and fixity of tenure. But there was tenant right before ever there was a purchase scheme, and before ever a tenant was able to buy land and get a tenant right price. In addition, we bought out the landlord's interest. In fact, we bought out every interest there was in the land. We had tenant right and we had landlord's right, and we purchased both. Now, with one stroke of the pen the policy of this Government is to confiscate tenant right.

I want to contrast that with the rights of other people engaged in business in Ireland. We can have a factory started and they can get their cows at the public expense, and nobody can question their profits. In this City of Dublin we can have 65 per cent. of the rateable valuation held by foreigners and outsiders, and there is no question of their right. We can have all the cinemas, all the houses of amusement, all the sources of wealth in the City of Dublin in the hands of foreigners and Jews, and there is no question of their right. But the people who work on the land, who made the land and whose families have built up the fertility of the soil for generations: the people who work hard, the people who in my own time have increased the fertility of the soil 500 or 600 per cent. above what it was when I was a boy; the people who are working late and early, have no tenant right or interest. Deputy Hugo Flinn, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance, can come in here and sneer at ownership of land at the money that has been invested in it and all the hard work that has been put into it, but nobody must interfere with the investments of the Parliamentary Secretary. You cannot have confiscations in one class of ownerships without confiscations all round: you have struck a note, and you must go on, if it is your policy that the man whose ownership is in the land, whose credit is built up on the land, whose marriage and everything else is founded on ownership of land, must not be respected in this country and can have his land confiscated. No wonder the young men of the country want to leave the land if the policy that nobody owns the land, that there is no security in the land, is adopted or even preached for one moment by responsible Ministers. Is it any wonder that the young men want to leave the land when there is no future, no fixity? What are they going to work for? Everybody knows that work on the land is quite a different proposition from work in the cities in the sheltered trades; where they can walk away from business at 5 o'clock in the evening; where there is no sweating.

It is quite a different business on the land, where the people are working until 10 o'clock at night; where they are up in the mornings at 5 or 6 o'clock to look after their business; where they do not mind sweating. Then they are told there is no ownership. Do you think you can tie people on the land under those conditions? Is it any wonder they leave it in flocks and go where there is security? You could not under those conditions keep anything on the land except crippled cows. You would have to shut the gates and tie them up so that they could not get out over the gates. Nothing could be kept on the land under those conditions except cripples.

All the cows are in Roscrea.

I say you are opening up the whole question of nationalisation, not alone in one business but in every business, and there is no such thing as a halfway house in the matter. If you come to examine the question——

Hear, hear.

Nobody is going to talk about Deputy Davin's house in Dun Laoghaire. Certain grants are given by the Government to build houses. Will anybody think of denying those people the full price when they want to sell the houses? Those people in the cities are the very people who say there is no ownership in land, and that it should be confiscated. There has been a lot of talk about how land should be farmed. Who is going to be the judge? Is it the men who know nothing about it, the men who farm in theory? What is good farming on one farm will not be good farming in another, even in the one county or the one townland. There can be no hard and fast rule with regard to farming, and it is only the men who know something about farming who realise that. The Deputy who would talk otherwise is merely thinking of votes. He is merely thinking of his own election to this House to draw his £360 a year regardless altogether of statesmanship in the matter. I think we ought to have courage and face this problem. We hear a lot of talk about congests; the people must be kept on the land; we cannot have them going to other countries and other cities and falling. They can fall at home as well as they can fall in any of the English cities.

Are we going to shut off this country and keep our people on the land? If we do, what will be the position in 25 years' time, when another generation will have to deal with our social problems? If we convert the whole country into a congested district, what problem will be left for the people who will come after us? There was always a problem in the West, as long as I remember. What would the problem be if all the counties were in the same position as the West, and how many would have to emigrate in spite of us? It would not be 35,000 a year but 300,000. There must always be a drain out of a country like this while our population keeps increasing at the rate it does. Why should there not be a drain out of it? Why should we try to shut the gates of the world against them? Why should they not have the right to go to Canada, South America, Australia or Africa, just as well as the people from any other country? I predict that the problem in the future will not be to find land for the people but to find people for the land. Looking at the matter from the statesmanship point of view, instead of looking at it from the point of view of whether or not we are going to be elected at the next election, we must realise that in order to keep people on the land you must give them security. You must make their lives if not a pleasure at least tolerable——

And profitable.

——and profitable. They must certainly get something more than nothing a week. While a tradesman in Dublin gets £5 or £5 2s. 6d. a week, a man in the country would not have £5 profit at the end of a year's work; he would only be in debt. Everybody in the country knows that. That is the reason you have discontent in the country. You cannot keep people ignorant and in the dark all the time. The position is quite different now from what it was when I was a boy. At that time if we wanted to go to the next townland we had to walk. To-day, everybody in Ireland knows everybody else, due to our modern methods of conveyance and so on. You cannot tie the people down now, and you might as well realise it. The present policy of the Government in actual practice is to embark on a national programme, to which I have no objection in the world, but it ought to be done at the expense of the State.

The Government's programme in regard to land settlement at the present time is carried out, in their wisdom, as it was carried out by the previous Government, not at the expense of the State but at the expense of the occupying tenant. It is very easy to be generous when you get somebody else to pay for it. But this is robbery; confiscation is merely another name for legalised robbery. There may be legal power to do it, but it is robbery. If, in their wisdom, the State decide that this is good business in the interests of the State, let the State pay for it, and pay for it at the market price, and not at the price arranged inside of an office. You have the landlord's interests being taken into consideration and the value of the property to the Land Commission; then there is the question of the redemption of the annuity, and the balance, whatever it is—nothing, in many cases, as we know—is given to the tenant; but the whole thing has worked out as a total confiscation of the tenants' interests. Go to any bank in the country at present, and I challenge any man to say that he is able to get money advanced on the security of the land. He is not able to do it.

For how long has that been going on?

For the last four or five years.

For the last 15 years.

Not for that length of time at all, but certainly since the beginning of the economic war.

It has been going on since 1923.

Not at all.

Yes, even in Kilkenny.

A lot of people were looking for it in Kilkenny that did not get it.

It has been going on since the 1923 Act was passed.

Well, that is not going to bring me out, but the Deputy may say something that will bring me out. However, let us come down to a few details. I spoke here on previous occasions about the policy of the Land Commission with regard to fencing. We have a very limited quantity of land to go around in this country. They have very much larger quantities of land in countries like Russia, Germany, France, and everywhere else, but in no country in the world is there the same system of fencing as we have here. In this country we put up a fence with five feet or five feet six inches as a base, built of clay and sods, and we proceed to have dykes on each side to build it up. I remember going down in the train through Kildare, where there is some of the finest land in the country, and the gravel is up within 14 inches of the surface and they have gone out as far as from where I am standing to the chair over there to get the sods, and the fences are up about four feet six inches or five feet high. Every bullock or cow that wants to scratch itself comes along to these fences, and the next thing you have is a breach in the fence. I do not say that that system is the fault of the present Land Commission, because they inherited it from the old Land Commission, and I think that the whole thing that was behind the scheme at that time was that you were to do nothing that would interfere with hunting. In England or on the Continent the fences only occupy about six inches at the base, and the result is that all the land that, in this country, is wasted on fencing, is made available. We could be quite content with a cement or a wire fence, and quick could be grown alongside it if necessary. It would be interesting to know how much of the land of this country is wasted in ridiculous fences. They are put up in the way I have mentioned, and then you see the breaches that are made in these fences remaining there for years afterwards, and the unfortunate tenants have to remedy them themselves. The Land Commission do not know how to make a fence. If you want a fence to stand up against cattle, you should raise it about two and a half feet, with quick on one side and then you have a fence that nothing will knock because they cannot knock the blackthorn; but the fences we have are doing nothing except making a ridiculous waste of the land. As I have said, if we had a lot of land, such as they have in Russia, it might be all right, but we have not, and I should like to have an estimate made of what amount of land is being wasted in these fences that have been put up by the Land Commission in the last 15 years. A sum of £300,000 is paid for wages in wasting the land of the country.

Now let us come to this question of proper farming. That phrase "properly farmed" is rather alarming. Who is to decide this? Surely, there are very few people in this country competent to decide what "farming properly" is. As I said before, it can have two different meanings even in the one parish or townland. There is no hard and fast rule for it. Generally speaking, a man who has been in occupation of a farm of land for years, and whose family have been in occupation of it for generations, knows more about it than anybody can tell him.

Of course, there are a few people here and there who are not good farmers, but there will always be people of that kind. It will be the same with the people you will be putting in, but you will have a higher percentage of those who will not be good farmers. It is a big thing, however, for any State to take up this question of being the judge of what is proper farming, and in this case the Land Commission is both the judge and jury of what proper farming is, not alone to the man coming in, but to the man from whom they are taking the land. That is a very serious thing to take up and judge. Some people, perhaps, would hold that proper farming is that of the man who breaks up his land and grows some cereal crop, but the men whom you induced to go in for it were not even practised in that sort of farming, and to-day their farms are the worst farms in the country. These farms now will grow nothing but scutch and red-eye and poppies. To look at some of these farms, you would think you were in Flanders. I know of one place where there were three or four fields that originally had proper farming, and now, as a result of what has been done, there is nothing growing there but poppy, red-eye and white daisies.

That was next door to a graveyard?

No, two were near a church.

I think I know the place the Deputy is referring to—near Killesmestia?

One was near Durrow. At any rate, this was what was called proper farming, and we will be told up here in Dublin that the sort of thing that brought that land to such a condition would be proper farming. There was never a greater fallacy than this, among people who never knew anything about farming. I think that even the Leas-Cheann Comhairle talked about waste land growing nothing but grass, and then he added "weeds" to qualify "Waste land." The fact is that every country has to face this problem of an overflow of population, and the great concern of every country is to find some outlet for their surplus population. You have it in the case of Japan and Germany and other countries.

The idea is not to be dividing the country up into a whole nation of congests, but to go outside. Now that we are all Imperialists here—I was never so much impressed with the fact that we are out-and-out, honest Imperialists as I was after hearing the speech of the Taoiseach here today—and having established that as our proper place—and I hold that it is our proper place to be in the Commonwealth—the least thing we could do is to arrange for Colonies for ourselves or make arrangements with the other nations of the Commonwealth and get our surplus population in there and thus provide a chance for our people to make their living, under favourable conditions, in some part of the world. After the speech of the Prime Minister, I feel very confident that if we could get a talk over this we could have an opening made by the Imperial Government. Of course there can be no question about it that the finest Imperialist speech I ever heard made in Ireland I heard made to-day by the Prime Minister.

It is not often that I agree with Deputy Gorey, but I agree with him on one thing, and that is the kind of ditches erected by the Land Commission. It think it is time that that class of ditches should be given up. I have heard it estimated that 10 per cent. of the land in Ireland is under ditches. If the Land Commission are to go on with the good work they have been engaged in for some years past, we will have much more than 10 per cent. under ditches. The ditches built by the Land Commission are not ones that will last. They are built all of soil. Anybody who knows anything of farming knows that the old ditches were filled with sub-soil, with an under strata of clay. They were not made all of soil. The proper thing would be a link wire fence with a row of quicks. All the boards of health have adopted that method of fencing. They are not building ditches any more, and they are dividing almost as much land as the Land Commission, as they are acquiring land and giving it to the workers. I say definitely that the Land Commission should abandon that policy and build no more ditches, because we have too many of them already, and they are only a cover for vermin. If that policy is pursued, we will have a greater percentage of our land under ditches than any other country in the world.

Does the Deputy suggest wire fences?

No, a thorn fence on a two feet embankment with link wire and concrete posts. There are one or two matters in connection with the policy of the Land Commission about which I have some complaint to make. One of them has already been drawn attention to, and that is the delay in having holdings vested under the 1923 Act, and, incidentally, having a judicial rent fixed where the holdings were non-judicial holdings previous to the passing of the 1923 Act. I know one or two very highly rented estates in Wexford where a fair rent, or whatever the Land Commission term for it is, has not been fixed. These holdings were non-judicial, and the tenants made application under the appropriate section of the 1923 Act to have a fair rent fixed and the standard annuity determined. That has not been done yet. On one particular estate the rents and annuities were fixed on about half the holdings, but the other half has not been dealt with yet: that is the Bryan estate. Upon that estate, therefore, you have the position of half the tenants having fair rents and annuities fixed, while the remainder have not been dealt with during all the years since the 1923 Act was passed. Another matter is that the owners of some small estates, perhaps containing only two or three holdings, have not yet got the purchase money owing to the fact that the final vesting of the land in the tenants has not taken place. I hope the Minister will see that these matters are expedited, and that the rents and annuities will be fixed in connection with those estates where appeals have been lodged under the 1923 and 1927 Acts. It is time that that was done. There has been definite neglect in that matter. Deputy McGowan talked about a particular bank in County Dublin lending money to farmers who have their land vested. I hope he will give the name of the bank before this debate closes.

On the land certificate.

That if you have the land certificate you will get the money from that particular bank by throwing the certificate on the counter. I never heard of any bank where a tenant owner could go in and throw the certificate on the counter and get the money.

I will tell you one bank.

I doubt it very much. Deputy Gorey talked about fixity of tenure and tenant right. I challenge him to say that there has been any change in the land law affecting that matter since the 1923 Act. I challenge him to say that since this Government came in they passed any legislation——

They adopted a policy.

——amending the Land Act of 1923 in respect of tenant right or fixity of tenure. There is fixity of tenure in this country and everybody knows it.

Not at all.

The position is now the same as it was since the first Land Act was passed here.

Tell us about the policy —not about what is in the Acts.

I am talking about the law, not policy. The policy of the Land Commission is not to dispossess people from their land. It has not been done in any instance that I know of.

What about the lady in County Meath?

Far away cows have long horns. The lady in Meath lives a long way from Deputy Linehan and he knows nothing about that case except what Deputy Cosgrave stated. The Deputy could not mention a case in Cork, or in Deputy Gorey's county.

There is fixity of tenure. I challenge Deputy Gorey, or Deputy Linehan and Deputy McMenamin, who are lawyers, to say that there has been any change in the law in that respect since the 1923 Act. Deputies opposite stumped the country during the last general election and the previous one telling the people that tenant right had been abolished by this Government.

What happened in the Barony of Forth?

The people did not believe these Deputies when they were told that.

Did not these people get notice to quite?

The proof is clear.

It is Jews or Protestants and Masons who have it. Anyone who went through the last election knows that.

There is one class of farm which I should like to see the Land Commission acquiring. There are a number of these farms in my constituency. I refer to derelict and semi-derelict farms. For a number of years I have been agitating that these should be taken over. No annuities or rates are being paid on these farms and some of them have been derelict for ten or 15 years. The Land Commission do not seem to be a bit interested in acquiring and dividing these lands. I think Deputy Gorey will not object to that. We have a good number of them in Wexford, probably 700 or 800 acres altogether, which have been derelict or semi-derelict for many years—up to 15 years in some cases. It is not in recent years they have become so. The collection department of the Land Commission are interested in these farms, but they are not the acquisition or division department.

I should like the Minister to bring this matter to the notice of the Land Commission so that these farms will be dealt with. They are a definite loss to the local authorities. The annuities or rates are not being paid on them and the result is that the other farmers in the area have to pay for these farms. It is about time that the Land Commission gave some attention to such farms. My belief is that when all the land in the country suitable for division has all been dealt with there will still be a lot of work for the Land Commission to do looking after such farms, and there should be closer co-operation between the Land Commission and the local authorities in the matter. It is most unfair that people living in a particular area, who pay both their annuities and rates, have to pay the annuities and rates for certain other holdings for which they have no responsibility. Something is required to be done in that respect. It is going on long enough now. I have brought the matter to the attention of the Land Commission many times and it is about time that they dealt with such holdings.

I move to report progress.

Progress reported. The Committee to sit again to-morrow.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until Thursday, April 28th, at 3 p.m.