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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 6 Jun 1939

Vol. 76 No. 5

Land Bill, 1938—Second Stage.

Before moving that the Bill be read a Second Time I should like to call attention to three mistakes made in the explanatory memorandum for which I have to apologise as we were in a hurry to get it out. The first is in page 5. The third last paragraph which reads:

"The clause is made retrospective as from the passing of the Land Act, 1936,"

refers to clause 20 and should come after the next paragraph referring to that clause. The next is on page 8 and is a printer's error. In clause 29, line 9, the words:

"had already been varied once, the result would give a variation"

should be deleted and the following substituted:

"section, however, did not provide for the case where one variation".

The third one is in the last two lines of page 9. The words

"has received improvement advances from the Land Commission"

should be deleted and the following substituted:

"pays a funding annuity on his old holding".

Then the last word on the page "his" should be "this" and the first word on page 10, instead of "liabilities," should be "liability".

I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time. The need for further land legislation arises mainly from the retarding effect on the Land Commission of two judicial decisions bearing on the construction of the Land Acts, 1923-36. In the course of their operations the Land Commission have been faced with unforeseen objections to the legality of some of their proceedings. These objections have been upheld by the courts, and if the acquisition and division of untenanted land are to proceed the powers of the Land Commission must be clarified and assured. It is only in practice that defects in legislation come to light. Every care is taken in the framing of the statutes to make their provisions represent clearly the intentions of the Oireachtas, but it is difficult to guard against every possible contingency in such highly complicated legislation as is set out in the Irish Land Code.

Before discussing the sections of this new Land Bill in detail, I propose to explain how the legal difficulties in the cases to which I have referred have held up the work of the Land Commission. The first case concerned the objection of Thomas E. Potterton, a tenant on the estate of Lord Darnley, to the resumption of his holding by the Land Commission. In the hearing of the case a question of law was raised as to what body had the power to make an order for resumption, and it transpired that two sections of the Land Act, 1933, which dealt with resumption, appeared to be contradictory. Section 11 of that Act purported to transfer to the Appeal Tribunal the powers of the court for resumption originally given under Section 5 of the Land Act, 1881, whereas Section 31 purported to make it obligatory on the Appeal Tribunal to order resumption upon the certificate of the Lay Commissioners of the Land Commission. The Judicial Commissioner held that Section 11 must prevail, as the powers of the court in connection with resumption are judicial powers and the vesting of such powers in the Lay Commissioners would be ultra vires to Article 64 of the Constitution then in force. That was the decision of the Judicial Commissioner.

It was held by the Supreme Court in confirmation that the notice of resumption to be given by the Land Commission to the tenant must specify the particular power of resumption, and the particular purpose for which resumption is required, and that the certificate of the Lay Commissioners which, under Section 31 of the 1933 Act takes the place of evidence, must be as specific as such evidence should be.

The second case concerned the objection of Mrs. K.M. Maher and Another to the acquisition of their estate of untenanted land by the Land Commission. In the hearing of the case by the Appeal Tribunal a question of law was raised as to whether the Certificate of the Lay Commissioners declaring the lands to be required for their purposes involved the signature by only two of the six Lay Commissioners as had been the practice, or by all of them. The Judicial Commissioner held that, as the wording of Section 25 of the Land Act, 1936, prescribing the procedure requisite for the compulsory acquisition of land by the Land Commission, mentioned "a certificate by the Lay Commissioners" without specifying the minimum or maximum number of such commissioners who should sign the Certificate, signature by all of the Lay Commissioners was legally necessary. The effect of these decisions has been to bring almost to a standstill the compulsory acquisition of land by the Land Commission and this situation calls for remedy.

These are the main points which have made necessary the introduction of a new Land Bill. The Bill also contains suitable amending sections to clarify expressions and remove doubts in various sections of previous Land Acts, and, in addition, the opportunity is taken to remedy a number of minor defects which delay or obstruct the progress of the work of the Land Commission. Taking the sections of the Bill in their sequence: the first four sections do not call for comment being merely the usual formal provisions relating to Title, Definition, Rules and Expenses. Section 5 provides that the Increase of Rent and Mortgage Interest (Restrictions) Acts shall not apply to dwellinghouses of which the Land Commission are landlords. It is inserted to ensure that the Land Commission may be able to get possession of dwellinghouses let on land acquired by them, in all circumstances.

Section 6 gives to the Land Commission priority for debts due to them, in line with the general rights of the State in this respect. Such priority has hitherto been assumed for Land Commission claims but having regard to a recent decision restricting these rights to cases covered by Section 38, sub-section (2) of the Finance Act, 1924, it is advisable to have specific statutory authority for the rights and privileges of the Land Commission in respect of moneys due to them. Section 7 gives specific authority exempting the Land Commission from payment of fees on first registration of title to holdings or parcels in certain cases. Such fees have never been paid or demanded, but hitherto there has not been explicit statutory authority for this exemption. Exemption does not apply where the lands concerned have been bought from the Land Commission by public auction or private treaty.

Section 8 extends the provisions of Section 27 of the Land Act, 1927, which enable the Land Commission to incur a loss on resale of land, to cover losses on resales of sporting and other rights. There is no case, so far, of loss on resale of sporting rights, etc., but it is well to provide for such a contingency. Section 9 authorises the grouping of 4½ per cent. land bonds of smaller denomination than £100 into units not exceeding £100 for the purposes of any drawings for redemption. This is just a matter affecting the convenience of the arrangements for the redemption of the bonds. Section 10 proposes to repeal sub-section (3) of Section 21 of the Land Act, 1931, which provides that dividends on land bonds for the time being retained as a guarantee deposit shall be paid out as they accrue to the persons entitled thereto, and provides instead, that such dividends shall be retained with the land bonds forming the guarantee deposit and utilised for the purposes of such guarantee deposit, except in cases where the Judicial Commissioner sees fit, on application, to release the dividends for payment to any parties entitled thereto. That is a charge. The section also simplifies the procedure for dealing with excess land bonds in the guarantee deposit.

Section 11 adapts Section 36 of the Land Act, 1931, which directs payment of interest at the rate of 4½ per cent. to claimants against the purchase money of an estate, to the cases where the purchase money is payable in land bonds other than 4½ per cent. bonds, by providing that the interest shall be payable at the same rate as that which the relevant land bonds bear. That is to say that where bonds bear 4 per cent. interest, as at present, interest bearing claims upon the purchase money such as mortgages shall be paid at the 4 per cent. rate also.

Is that retrospective?

Mr. Boland

I do not think it would be.

It always is.

Mr. Boland

That is not mentioned here.

Section 12 is intended to enable the Judicial Commissioner to treat as a single fund where necessary the three separate Costs Funds which now exist in respect of the issues of 4½ per cent. land bonds, 4½ per cent. new land bonds, and 4 per cent. land bonds. In practice the costs awarded in small estates are proportionately much higher than in the large estates, but the saving on the large estates pays for the excess on the small ones, provided relatively large amounts are involved. The need for giving power to the Judicial Commissioner to treat, in effect, all the Costs Funds as one arises out of the smallness of the Costs Fund applicable to the new 4½ per cent. bond issue. There will be plenty of money in the Costs Funds applicable to the old 4½ per cent. bonds and the 4 per cent. bonds now in operation, but on the small issue, totalling approximately £592,000 of new 4½ per cent. bonds—which comes between and is now almost finished— the rate of 2 per cent. has provided only a small Costs Fund which will not suffice for costs being allowed at the usual rates unless the Costs Funds jointly can be drawn upon as a whole.

The method that is proposed for adoption in the future is to authorise payment of costs to be made in cash as well as in bonds, the cash being provided by the sale of any of the three classes of bonds that the Judicial Commissioner may direct. With a view to strengthening further any particular Costs Fund, it is proposed that the Minister for Finance should be empowered to invest the interest from Land Bonds in the purchase of Land Bonds of any denomination and is not to be restricted to investing the 4½ per cent. interest, for example, in 4½ per cent. bonds.

Section 13 is intended to meet cases where the owners of land acquired by the Land Commission defer giving possession, although the purchase money has been actually paid to credit of the estates. As the law stands, the charges referred to in the clause can be recovered only as a personal debt from an owner, whereas they should properly be a charge against the purchase money.

Section 14 is intended to put beyond question the power of the Minister to determine the quorum of Lay Commissioners necessary for the performance of the functions of the Land Commission, and to rectify the position created by the judicial decision in the Maher case already mentioned, in which the legal force of the wording of Section 25 of the Land Act, 1936, as construed by the Land Commissioners, was successfully challenged. It would be waste of commissioners' time, and a serious bar to progress if every item of acquisition had to be referred to every commissioner, and such reference was never the intention or the practice. Furthermore, the law as it stands would compel the two Appeal Commissioners, who are and must first be Lay Commissioners, to sign certificates in cases with which they may subsequently have to deal in connection with appeals on questions of price or of law. The two Appeal Commissioners should not, and do not, deal with the acquisition of land unless and until a case reaches them on appeal; nor do they deal with such matters as the fixing of standard purchase annuities on which there may be an appeal from the decision of the other Lay Commissioners. The section is drafted so as to assert retrospectively the authority of the Minister under Section 6 (3) (b) of Part II of the Land Act, 1933, to arrange the distribution amongst the Lay Commissioners of their work.

No limitation?

Mr. Boland

This practice is to make it beyond all doubt. There is provision for a referee. If the two Commissioners wish they can have the matter referred to a conference of the Commissioners competent to deal with it; that is, other than appeal Commissioners, if there is likely to be an appeal in the case. That is the practice and it is to put beyond doubt the legality of that practice.

Is power not taken to appoint one lay commissioner only?

Mr. Boland

If necessary.

Is it the intention merely to give legal effect to what has been done in the past?

Mr. Boland

Yes, to what has been the practice. There may be some small things that a commissioner could deal with—for instance, cases of allocation of land. The practice is that two commissioners deal with that. One deals with it and he passes it on.

What happens if the commissioners do not agree?

Mr. Boland

Either of them can demand that it be brought to a full conference of those eligible to hear the case—the four lay commissioners— where there may be an appeal.

Suppose one commissioner says "We will not acquire this land," and the other says "We ought to," what happens?

Mr. Boland

If the one who objects wants it referred to all the commissioners in conference, it will be referred to a full conference.

To the whole six?

Mr. Boland

If it is an acquisition case, it would be to four.

Surely the commissioners have to hear an acquisition case in court? They first decide outside court and then decide inside court—is that not so?

Mr. Boland

Anyway we can deal with that better in Committee. We could stay here all day discussing those points. Section 15 provides for a general right of appeal on law to the Appeal Tribunal and abolishes the right of aggrieved parties to have questions of law stated while preserving that right to the Lay Commissioners. The abolition of the unnecessary and almost obsolete right of parties to demand a case to be stated as authorised by Section 48, sub-section (2) of the Land Law (Ireland) Act, 1881, is overdue. The new section provides instead that parties feeling aggrieved on questions of law may appeal from the decision of the Land Commission to the Appeal Tribunal.

It is considered desirable, at the same time, to preserve for the Lay Commissioners the power given in sub-section (8) of Section 28 of the Land Act, 1891, enabling them to submit a point of law for the consideration and decision of the Judicial Commissioner: this power is useful as a means of domestic help on law points arising in the course of Land Commission operations.

What is your case for that?

"We will deal with it on Committee Stage."

Mr. Boland

It is obsolete and useless and it is embarrassing. It has been the cause of undue delay, and it might give the lawyers too much to do. These are some of the reasons. Section 16 empowers the Lay Commissioners, in their absolute discretion, to award compensation to persons who have incurred costs or expenses in relation to proceedings leading to orders made by the Land Commission. It is only fair to recompense parties who are put to expense by proceedings initiated by the Land Commission. Section 26 of the Land Act, 1936, which this new section proposes to repeal, provides only for compensation on objection to a provisional list of land proposed for acquisition.

Section 17 empowers the Lay Commissioners to award costs to any party to proceedings before them, as against another party in the same proceedings, and this enables costs to be obtained by persons put to expense by, for example, the unreasonable objections on unsustainable applications of other persons.

Will the Lay Commissioners do that?

Mr. Boland

The Lay Commissioners, yes. I believe they had that power before and they dropped it. They are taking it again. Section 18 covers a matter of procedure. It enables the Land Commission to amend a list of vested holdings without notice to the parties, when such amendments are merely the consequence of some order of the Land Commission or of any court. The object is to prevent parties objecting twice on the same point, as they will have due opportunity for objection later, on the consequent publication of the vesting order.

Section 19 is introduced to cover cases of purchasers of untenanted land failing, within a reasonable time, to take up residence in the dwellinghouses provided by the Land Commission for them on their new holdings. It is contrary to the interests of economy, as well as to the general policy of Land Settlement, that houses which have been provided at considerable expense should remain vacant. This section empowers the Land Commission to recover possession from the purchasers in such areas. As the law stands, the Land Commission have power to recover possession of lands where the allottees are letting them or failing to work them properly, but a man may be working his land well while leaving his new house empty or letting it for profit and the Land Commission cannot deal with him as he should be dealt with. I think that is a reasonable provision.

Section 20 is mainly a re-enactment of Section 9 of the Land Act, 1936 (which it will repeal), in order to extend the application of the section to funding annuities and annual or additional sums, which were not specifically mentioned previously. The wording of Section 9 of the 1936 Act covered only "default in the payment of the purchase annuity charged on a defaulter's holding," and this might be held to limit the power of the Land Commission to cancel arrears of annual payments other than purchase annuities, on resale of the holding. The section further enables the Land Commission to cancel arrears on a holding or parcel taken up for any reason other than default.

Section 21 is intended to meet a difficulty arising out of the operation of Section 33 of the Land Act, 1936. Undertakings by allottees to purchase parcels of untenanted land have sometimes to be signed before the Land Commission get actual possession of the lands, for example, in cases where they make an offer to purchase land subject to their being able to obtain undertakings from suitable allottees. And such undertakings have to be utilised occasionally when the Land Commission themselves hold land only under a letting prior to formal acquisition. In direct compliance with Section 33 of the 1936 Act an annual sum equivalent to annuity would be accordingly set up as from the gale day next after the signing of the undertaking and would be applicable to land which the Land Commission did not actually own at the time. This situation needs to be rectified. The new section provides that the parcel shall be deemed to have been included in a list of holdings of untenanted land only as on the gale day next after the date on which the parcel became vested in the Land Commission.

Why is that necessary? If you get the 68 years' purchase from the tenant, should it not satisfy you?

Mr. Boland

There is not an annuity in this instance. They are only paying an annual sum until the Land Commission get the land themselves.

But consider the position of the tenant. Should that not be satisfactory for you?

Sin ceist eile.

Mr. Boland

Section 22 empowers the Land Commission to pay the costs of transferring parties losing their employment on land acquired by the Land Commission to parcels allotted to them elsewhere in compensation for their loss of employment—in like manner as the expenses of transferring migrants can be allowed under Section 48 of the Land Act, 1931. The power is to be retrospective as from the 1st of January, 1937. These cases are few; but it does sometimes happen that the Land Commission are unable to provide for a former employee on the estate where he was engaged and if they offer him a holding at a distance the costs of transfer impose on him a burden greater than he can bear. There was an actual case where a man had to be transferred from County Cork and there was no power to pay expenses.

How much was in it?

Mr. Boland

The costs of transfer were something like £50.

The division of Cong is coming on and the boys are disappointed down there.

Mr. Boland

Do not jump to that conclusion. You might be quite wrong. Section 23 is intended to cover the alienation without the consent of the Land Commission of a parcel provided for a purchaser for the enlargement of his original holding, prior to the holding and parcel being consolidated. After consolidation, of course, he cannot legally sub-divide without the Land Commission's consent. That is a very necessary power.

Section 24 enables the Land Commission to partition commonages held by purchasers under the Land Acts, without the consent of the co-owners. It may be desirable to effect such partition and some of the co-owners may seek it but, as the law stands at present, the Land Commission cannot act without the consent of all the owners. All parties will be given an opportunity to object to the partition scheme before it is finally promulgated. That, at any rate, certainly is overdue. I know of cases myself where one person is holding up the work that all the rest want done. There is a case in my own constituency and I think that Deputy Brennan knows about it also.

Much the same was done at Thermopylae long ago.

Mr. Boland

Section 25 applies (with some modifications) the provisions of the Land Act, 1933, as to funding of arrears and revision of annual payments, to the instalments in repayment of loans made in cash by the former Congested Districts Board out of their own funds to assist parties to purchase land—mostly as enlargements of their existing holdings. These loans (of which only some 80 are still outstanding) were to be repaid, without interest, by instalments over a stated number of years. It seems equitable that purchasing tenants should get the same reduction in repayments of loans made by the Congested Districts Board as has been given by the Act of 1933 in respect of repayments of advances made by the Land Commission. The purpose of both loan and advance was exactly the same—the purchase of land.

Would that be retrospective?

Mr. Boland

Yes, and particularly in Mayo. As a matter of fact, there was one outstanding case——

Would it go back to 1933?

Mr. Boland

Yes, they would get the same conditions.

As from 1933?

Mr. Boland

They would get the same conditions as the annuity payers at the time.

But not from the time?

Mr. Boland

That will be provided for. I understand that it is from October, 1933. Now, by Sections 26 to 28 it is proposed to amend the conditions under which certain tithe rent charges may be revised under Section 18 of the Land Act, 1933.

Section 26 alters the date of revision from the gale day next after the passing of the 1933 Act to the gale day next preceding the making of the order for revision, and so avoids a retrospective revision not contemplated in 1933.

Section 27 provides that where the tithe rent charges and perpetuity rents have already been given the 50 per cent. revision of the Land Act, 1933, they shall not again be revised as a result of the redemption of a superior interest under Section 39 of the Act of 1923 or the admission to purchase benefits under Section 44 of the Act of 1931 of the land out of which they are payable.

Section 28 grants the advantages of Section 18 of the 1933 Act as regards revision of annual payments to the cases of tithe rent land which have become subject to land purchase annuities since the enactment of that Act.

In homely language, would the Minister tell us what that means?

Perhaps it would be better to postpone it to the Committee Stage.

Mr. Boland

Yes, I think that would be better.

Perhaps it might be better if the Minister would be more frank and tell the House now that he has not the faintest notion about it.

Mr. Boland

It would not be correct to say that. If that were the case, I would be quite frank in saying so. However, I think it would be rather unusual to make a kind of a Committee Stage on the Second Stage of a Bill.

But is it not all a Committee Stage?

Mr. Boland

Well, it will be, I suppose.

At any rate, it is not unusual.

Mr. Boland

Section 29 amends Section 49 of the Land Act, 1933 (which contains special provisions relative to the variation of tithe rent charges or variable rents arising within the County Borough of Dublin) by altering the incidence of variation from November, 1933, to November, 1938, and so avoiding retrospective variation. I frankly admit that I would prefer to deal with that one on Committee Stage, if that means anything to the Deputies opposite. Section 30 deals with improvements and arises out of doubts in regard to the construction of Section 22 of the Land Act, 1927. It is now made clear by this new section that the Land Commission have to obtain the sanction of the Minister for Finance to the making of free grants for the improvement of vested holdings only in cases where the expenditure is wholly or substantially for the benefit of the vested holdings, and that where expenditure is incurred on a vested holding for the benefit of unvested land, the Land Commission need not obtain the sanction of the Minister for Finance. Sub-section (3) of the section is intended to provide that, wherever possible, any new annuity set up in connection with improvement expenditure shall be consolidated with the existing annuity on the lands concerned, but sometimes enlargements are given to small freeholds and, for the first time, power is now sought to charge these lands with the repayment of such improvement moneys as may be advanced. The practice up to this has been that where an allottee, who had a small vested holding got an addition to it, the Land Commission could not spend money on the additional holding without going previously to the Minister for Finance. In this case it is provided that, if the whole consolidated farm is to be improved and that the site would be better than on the old holding, it can be done without going to the Minister for Finance.

I think that the case is vice versa, and that if a better site could be got on the old vested holding, the Land Commission can deal with the matter.

Mr. Boland

Yes, I am sorry; that is right.

Now you can build on the old place.

Mr. Boland

Yes, that is right, and I thank Deputy Dillon for his correction. Section 31 is explanatory of Section 44 of the Land Act, 1933, which section allowed expenditure not exceeding £500 on the reconstruction of water-courses, drains, embankments and the like to be made by the Land Commission for the sake of expenditure without obtaining prior sanction by the Minister for Finance.

The construction of Section 44 of the 1933 Act has caused difficulty to the Department of Finance and to the Comptroller and Auditor-General. This new section seeks to clarify the method by which the amount expended on the work of reconstruction of watercourses, drains, embankments and the like, is to be calculated for the purposes of the section. The trouble was that the question was where an embankment was being repaired and if, in one operation, it took £500, and the Land Commission were satisfied that that was all they were entitled to spend on that, as I understand it, the Finance people were inclined to add the cost of different jobs, whereas the Land Commission view is now accepted, and that is that the particular job is now taken into consideration, and not an aggre gate of jobs over a certain period. Section 32 extends the facilities for the exchange of holdings provided by Section 46 of the Land Act, 1923, so as to cover exchanges in connection with the resale of parcels of untenanted land to the various classes of allottees. Exchanges under Section 46 were confined to purposes of improvement. This Section 32 widens, for the general convenience of all parties, the definition of the purposes for which exchanges may be arranged by the Land Commission.

Section 33 empowers the Land Commission to ratify exchanges made by purchasing tenants of portions of their holdings. It is an extension of the provisions of Section 60 of the Irish Land Act, 1903, which allowed, by order of the Judicial Commissioner, ratification of exchanges where tenants of holdings on adjoining estates were in occupation of portions of each other's holdings.

This section gives similar power to the Land Commission to ratify voluntary exchanges of portions of adjoining holdings whether they are on the same or different estates, and is intended to save the necessity in such cases of complying with the complicated procedure which would otherwise be necessary before any amendment could be made in areas or boundaries on vesting.

Section 34 is intended, for administrative convenience, to secure that funding annuities payable out of holdings purchased under the Land Acts of 1881-1889, which should be paid into the Local Loans Fund shall eventually find their way into that fund, notwithstanding that as a result of the transfer of the funding annuities (as in the case of a migrant) to a new holding purchased under a later Act they must, under existing legislation, be paid into the same fund as that into which the annuity on the new holding is payable. Eventually, however, they will find their way back into the Local Loans Fund.

Section 35 deals with the exchange or re-arrangement of holdings charged with loans to various public bodies, and provides that such loans may be charged on the exchanged or rearranged holdings comprising the house, buildings or land improved, if of not less value than the original property charged with the loan. Where such holdings are not of equal value, then the loans may be redeemed in whole or part by the Land Commission.

This section is intended to meet a difficulty which the Land Commission have experienced in connection with migration and rearrangement in the West. A migrant who pays a funding annuity on his old holding carries his liabilities with him to his new holding, but in the case of a migrant, say, from the Gaeltacht to the Midlands, who has built a new house for himself in the Gaeltacht with the assistance of a grant and loan under the Gaeltacht Housing Acts, there is no power to transfer his liability from his old holding to his new holding. The same applies to housing and improvement loans under other Acts. Charges of this nature under the Housing Acts represent charges upon the county at large, and it would be clearly inequitable and impossible to transfer such a charge from, say, County Galway to County Meath. Under the terms of the new section the holding in the West, whether untouched or re-arranged, is still to be security for the loan charge; this charge will remain upon the original land. If that land is no longer security (as a result of rearrangement, for instance) the unsecured portion of the charge would be redeemed by the Land Commission out of their Vote.

The reason why the judicial commissioner, rather than the appeal tribunal, should determine questions arising in such cases of redemption is that intervention by the lay members of the appeal tribunal would debar them from dealing as lay commissioners with land division schemes involving provision for migration or the re-arrangement of holdings in respect of which improvement loans had been made by anybody other than the Land Commission.

What is the position if the charge is on the house in that case? If you cannot transfer the charge from the local authority in the West to the local authority in the East, what are you doing with the liability on the house in the West?

Mr. Boland

When the estate is re-arranged, if it is re-arranged or even if it is not, the Land Commission survey the position, and if the value of the holding is still security for the charge on it, it will be left on it.

That is the funding loan?

Mr. Boland

No; he brings that with him.

If there was an improvement loan, that is left?

Mr. Boland

Yes. The other is a personal matter and he brings that with him.

Section 36 is intended to bring within the provisions of Section 37, sub-section (5) (b) of the Land Act, 1936, the power given to the Land Commission under Section 38 of the Land Act, 1933, to reduce the standard purchase annuity of a holding which, in their opinion, is not security for the full advance. In regard to the date at which the value of land is to be taken in fixing the fair purchase annuity of new tenancies under Section 37 (5) (b) of the 1936 Act, the appropriate date is to be the date on which the order admitting the holding to purchase was made, instead of the 9th August, 1923, as prescribed in Section 38 of the 1933 Act.

Sub-section (2) of the new section ensures that a grantee or lessee who becomes a purchaser under the Land Acts shall not be required to pay an annuity greater than the rent he has been paying under his grant or lease.

Sub-section (3) of Section 36 is simply a repeal of sub-section (6) of Section 37 of the Land Act, 1936, for the purpose of legislating only for cases where the annuity payer has created the tenancies admitted to purchase under that section, and not for cases where lands have been vested in purchasers subject to head rents—which cases are provided for by Section 39 of the Land Act, 1923. The sub-section does not enact anything new, but simply clarifies the intention of the 1936 Act, which was expressed in terms so wide that cases not intended to come under its provisions might be admitted.

Section 37 makes fresh provisions for compounded arrears of rent and payment in lieu of rent in all cases of tenanted lands in which the particulars required by the Land Act, 1923, have not been furnished before the enactment of this Bill and for all cases of applications by fee farm grantees and long leaseholders to be allowed to purchase under Section 44 of the Land Act, 1931, in which the lands are not vested before the enactment of this Bill, as the provisions contained in Sections 19 and 20 of the Land Act, 1923, have been found unsuitable or not easily applicable to these cases. The new provisions are to the effect that compounded arrears of rent are to be calculated from the gale day preceding the furnishing of the particulars of tenanted lands (or the lodgment of the application in the Section 44 cases) or from such gale day prior thereto as will allow three years arrears to be compounded, and are to be extended up to the appointed day. No payment in lieu of rent, therefore, will be payable, as this payment only continued up to the appointed day.

It is also provided that all payments on account of rent made during the compounded arrears of rent period are to be credited against the compounded arrears of rent that would otherwise be payable. These provisions follow, with slight modifications, those already relating to Section 44 cases.

Section 38 extends the provisions of Section 10 of the Land Act, 1927, to tenancies created on or after 1st September, 1922, and before 10th August, 1923. This is desirable owing to the fact that Section 10 of the 1927 Act (admitting to purchase tenancies on purchased holdings) only applied to tenancies created before 1st September, 1922, and Section 37 of the Land Act, 1936, admits such tenancies only if created on or before 10th August, 1923. There was a gap left there and we are filling that up. Those created in the interval were overlooked and left unprovided for.

The section also enables subtenants of tenants on purchased holdings to have their claims for admission to purchase benefits heard or determined.

The provisions of the preceding Section 37 as to the fixing of compounded arrears of rent by reference to the appointed day instead of the date of the passing of the 1923 Act are also made applicable to subtenants coming under Section 38.

Section 39 is intended to govern the law and practice in regard to the resumption of holdings by the Land Commission in future. It re-enacts (with some modifications) the provisions of Section 31 of the Land Act, 1933, making it clear that such provisions will apply notwithstanding anything contained in Section 5 of the Land Act of 1881 or Section 11 of the 1933 Act. The difficulties of resumption which arose out of the Potterton case have been already explained, and it is necessary to clarify the procedure, which, in brief, will be: usual notice to the tenant of intention of the Land Commission to resume; hearing by the Lay Commissioners (other than members of the Appeal Tribunal) of any petition against resumption which may be presented; if no petition is presented, or if petition is refused, certification by the Land Commission to the Appeal Tribunal that resumption is required; authorisation of resumption by the Appeal Tribunal. In cases of urgency, possession of a holding may be taken by the Land Commission before the resumption price is fixed, as in the case of estates of untenanted land.

Section 40 gives to the Land Commission the power of using their discretion as to whether further holdings should be admitted to the benefits of land purchase. As the law stands, the Commissioners have no discretion if certain requirements are fulfilled, with the result that they have been compelled to admit to purchase holdings which are technically, but not in reality, agricultural land. They already have this statutory discretion in dealing with applications for the admission of tenancies created since 1923, and they should have it in respect of the older tenancies also in order that the State may be saved considerable loss by the admission to purchase of small plots near or in cities or towns which are not properly agricultural land. This section assimilates such cases to the conditions in which cases of new tenancies can be admitted under Section 37 of the Land Act, 1936. In some cases tenancies had to be admitted that should really never have been admitted at all. This section is to provide against that happening again. There were people in Dublin City who were getting the benefit of the halving of the annuities and then proceeding to build on that valuable land. It is to prevent that and to give the Commissioners discretion in respect of older tenancies in cases of that kind that we are making this provision.

Section 41 empowers the Land Commission to extinguish rights, easements and minor tenancies on lands acquired by them, in order that they may get "clear possession" and be able to dispose of the lands freed from such interests. That would apply to such rights as turbary rights and grazing rights.

What does the Minister mean when he says "extinguish"?

Mr. Boland

When the Land Commission gets possession of, say, a bog and finds some people who claim to have grazing rights, although they have got the bog they cannot proceed with the division except by the acquisition of those rights. Cases of that kind have arisen and this is designed to assure the Land Commission that they will have full control.

Will they pay compensation?

Mr. Boland

Of course. I have known cases where one or two people have been able to hold up the work for years.

That is all right, but take the case of a person who has turbary rights: will the process of extinction involve payment of compensation?

Mr. Boland

Of course. They may have their allotment in a place which would interfere with the division of the bog, and they will get their allotment when the bog is being re-allocated.

Mr. Brennan

Is the Minister not going to provide for a right of appeal? If these people and their families before them have had these rights, it seems extraordinary that they should be taken away.

Mr. Boland

I am quite sure that they will get compensation. It is not right that a few people should be able to hold up the division.

Mr. Brennan

I agree.

Mr. Boland

In the County Kerry, it is holding up a very big development scheme. Those rights are there.

There is an appeal in those cases to the Appeal Tribunal.

Mr. Boland

These would have the same right of appeal as the others.

Section 42 is intended to remove a difficulty which the Land Commission experience in the sale by auction or tender of lands and houses of which they wish to dispose. Under Section 16 of the Land Act, 1936, advances to purchasers in excess of a total figure of £3,000 are not to be subject to the 50 per cent. revision given by the Land Act of 1933. Owing to this provision it has been impossible for the Land Commission in the case of auctions or sales by tender to set out in the particulars and conditions of sale what will be the annuity subject to which lands are to be sold, as this figure depends on whether or not the purchaser happens to be a person to whom advances have been already made. This is a serious drawback to business, and Section 42 proposes that the purchasers in such sales will be (as they were before the Act of 1936) entitled to revision of the annuity on the full advance, irrespective of the value of the land they may hold otherwise.

Section 43 empowers the Land Commission, when reselling lands subject to a purchase annuity or annual sum in lieu thereof, which have come into their hands for default or otherwise, to make an additional advance to pay off arrears of annuity, or rent, or rates, or costs. It often happens that a purchaser who cannot put up enough cash to discharge the arrears of annuity and other claims of the Land Commission due in respect of a holding would be willing to have the whole or part of such arrears or other sums added to the purchase money and repaid with the annuity. This section allows the Land Commission to accept such an offer and thereby reduce the loss on resale of defaulters' holdings and the like.

There will be no reduction of the sum advanced? The Minister would regard this as an improvement loan?

Mr. Boland

The section gives power to accept offers of that kind where offers in cash are not forthcoming.

Section 44 deals with what are termed "committee cases"—that is, lands bought by committees for the use of tenants or owners of uneconomic holdings. Such committees were admitted to the benefits of land purchase under Section 42 of the Land Act, 1927, but that section was repealed as regards further applications by Section 22 of the Land Act, 1936, as it was thought that the limit for such applications had been reached. It appears that certain committees holding land were for various causes not in a position to apply previously under Section 42 of the 1927 Act, and this new section is intended to allow them in now, as a matter of grace, within a final time limit of three months from the enactment of this Bill.

Mr. Brennan

Would the Minister say if there are many cases of this type? It seems extraordinary.

Mr. Boland

We know of one case, at any rate, and I understand the people themselves thought that the Act ruled them out—that the purchase was completed before the date set out in the Act of 1927; but, as a matter of fact, that was not the case: it was not until a couple of months afterwards that it was completed. On account of representations made to me by several Deputies, I had the case inquired into. We think that there is only the one case, but there may be others. However, this one was due to some misunderstanding. These things are hard to explain, but it would be rather hard that these people should not get the benefits they were entitled to in this case.

Could the Minister say where that case was?

Mr. Boland

In Laoighis.

Sections 45 and 46 further amend the law relating to the purchase of untenanted land held under fee farm grant or long lease. The practice of the Land Commission in dealing with applications under Section 44 of the Land Act of 1931 has shown up the necessity of fresh provision to deal with various questions arising. The provisions of that section have been amended and extended by Section 42 of the Land Act of 1933 and by Sections 42 and 43 of the Land Act of 1936; and Sections 45 and 46 of the present Bill are intended to round off this particular legislation, and to assimilate the cases of fee farm grants or long leases to those of ordinary tenancies.

Section 45 is mainly a redrafting of paragraph (c) of Section 43 of the Land Act, 1936, in order to make it clear that it applies to cases where the annuity payer has created the tenancies on the portion of his lands admitted to purchase, and not to cases where lands have been vested in purchasers subject to head rents—which cases are dealt with under Section 39 of the Land Act, 1923.

Section 46 amends Section 44 of the Land Act, 1931, by providing that an application under that section may be granted notwithstanding that the Land Commission may require to resume it for purposes for which they are entitled to resume tenancies. The Land Commission is, therefore, authorised to resume the holding after the application has been granted. The conditions necessary for the granting of the application are also varied so as to conform with those necessary for the admission to purchase of ordinary tenancies.

The section also amends Section 44 of the 1931 Act by providing that a purchaser under that section is not, in any circumstances, to be burdened with an annuity greater than the rent payable by him to his former landlord. That is to prevent a recurrence of a case raised here several times. It will result in a more equitable distribution of the purchase money between the lessor and the owner.

Section 47 proposes to extend to cases where the Land Commission purchase untenanted land by voluntary agreement the provisions of Section 18 of the Land Act, 1927, which allows arrears of rates to be treated as a charge against the purchase money of untenanted land acquired compulsorily by the Land Commission. Owners generally have no objection to the deduction of arrears of rates from their purchase money and the enactment of this section will give the Land Commission priority for such claims.

Will there be any limit there to the arrears of rates? There is a statutory two years' limit: does this propose to affect that?

Mr. Boland

No, except that in the case of voluntary sales they would be entitled to do what they are entitled to do in the case of compulsory sales.

Section 48 repeals and rewrites Section 45 of the Land Act, 1936, which provided that drainage maintenance charges should be redeemed out of the purchase moneys of lands to which they are appurtenant. It has been held judicially that this section applied only to lands vested in or resumed by the Land Commission after the date of the passing of the 1936 Act. The new section applies the provisions of this section to all cases irrespective of whether vesting took place before or after 1936.

Section 49 is merely intended to make explicit a power which has previously been regarded as implicit in the Land Acts—the power to redeem annual sums equivalent to land purchase annuities in like manner as if they were annuities proper. The practice of redeeming these annual sums has not been questioned, but it is thought better to take the opportunity to put the matter beyond doubt. Section 50 allows a sub-tenant of a holding, particulars of which have not been duly furnished by the landlord, to apply on his own initiative to the Land Commission for an order requiring the landlord to furnish the particulars.

Section 51 is needed to provide for the case of tenants of Congested District Board holdings, and the like, who are not covered by existing legislation, as to giving power to the Land Commission to appoint limited administrators. Where actual annuities are in question, the Land Commission have power to appoint limited administrators in cases of death; but legally this does not cover the cases of tenants on lists of congested districts holdings or on lists of holdings on untenanted land and the Land Commission are meeting with numbers of these who have not taken out, and will not take out, letters of administration, etc.

It is proposed to take power to appoint limited administrators in cases of disability or absence as well as of death. There are numerous cases where the tenants are people of unsound mind, and this new provision will be helpful not only to the Land Commission but to the representatives of these poor people. Similarly, in case of the absence in other countries of parties with whom their relatives cannot get in touch. These powers would also be applied to cases where the Land Commission make free grants. Up to now such powers have applied only in respect of advances, but difficulty has been found in getting people from whom a valid or legal receipt can be taken in cases of free grants.

Section 52 empowers the Land Commission to make new watercourses and drains on any lands where they are considered requisite for the improvement of neighbouring lands purchased or agreed to be purchased under the Land Purchase Acts, subject to reasonable compensation to the owner. An appeal to the Appeal Tribunal is allowed to an objecting owner.

Section 53 extends the provisions of Section 38 of the Land Act, 1931, which empowers the Land Commission to grant, for domestic and farming purposes, water rights on any land sold or agreed to be sold under the Land Purchase Acts. The section also provides for the granting of rights of access necessary for the exercise of the water rights by the persons to whom granted. Compensation is payable by the recipients of those rights to the owners of the lands on which they are exercised. Section 53 of the Bill proposes to give to the Land Commission power to grant such rights over lands which have not been the subject of land purchase proceedings, as well as on lands which have been sold or agreed to be sold under the Acts.

Section 54 empowers the Land Commission to acquire for a specified period any land or right over land, or to interfere with land for purposes of sand fixation. Compensation would be payable to the owners in cash out of voted moneys. In view of the damage caused by drifting sand in coastal areas, such powers are necessary for the benefit of the land and of the community. It has been found that individual owners cannot successfully combat the encroachments of blowing sand.

Will that extend to all coast lines or only to places in which arable land is suffering from drifting sand?

Mr. Boland

Any place in which the Land Commission would think it was desirable for them to interfere, where blowing sand was likely to cause damage.

Will it empower the Land Commission to interfere in every case of drifting sand, even if it were a town?

Mr. Boland

The Land Commission would have to decide that themselves.

I have in mind one town which suffers from drifting sand.

Mr. Boland

There was one town in Donegal which the Land Commission practically saved from extinction. It would have been covered up but for the action of the Land Commission. In that case, however, the people agreed, but this is a case in which someone might be standing out. It enables the Land Commission to take it for a certain period until they have got the sand fixed, and then to give it back.

Does that apply only to land which is subject to land purchase annuities, or does it apply also to a town?

Mr. Boland

Any land.

I suggest that if the Minister is not taking power to deal with drifting sand which is affecting a town, some Minister should.

Mr. Boland

I think it could be so interpreted, but I will look into it.

The local authority has not the power, but would like to have it, or would like somebody to have it.

Mr. Boland

We can deal with that point. Section 55 is intended to prevent damage to commonages coming under the Land Purchase Acts, by the undue removal of surface soil from bog-lands—commonly called "scrawing." The section empowers the Land Commission to make an order prohibiting this practice by individual owners or occupiers of such commonages to the detriment of the community, any contravention thereof to be an offence punishable by fine.

Section 56 is intended to see that, in the case of lands purchased from the Land Commission by trustees (for pasture, turbary or tillage or for sportsfields, etc.) otherwise than by an advance, the conditions laid down in the Land Acts for the user of trustee lands are preserved. In other words, the mere fact of such lands being purchased for cash is not to remove them from the category of trustee lands.

Section 57 concerns the discretion of the Land Commission in regard to the user of allotments. Sub-section (2) of Section 31 of the Land Act, 1923, requires that the Land Commission must be satisfied as to the suitability of applicants to work land given to them and as to their intention to do so, and not to sell, let, or assign it and further requires the insertion in the purchase agreement of a clause to the effect that the parcel must be worked in accordance with proper methods of husbandry and that possession of it may be retaken by the Land Commission for failure to work it properly. This sub-section as it stands is inappropriate to many of the allotments now being made by the Land Commission, such for example, as lands intended for sportsfields and school play grounds, and Section 57 leaves to the Land Commission the necessary amount of discretion.

Section 58 enables the Land Commission to resell houses in towns and villages which may be wholly or partially sub-let, by means of advances under the Land Purchase Acts instead of for cash. The Land Commission have on their hands several of these houses which were bought as part of large agricultural estates (mostly by the Congested Districts Board) and they have found it difficult or impossible to get their tenants to pay the cash needed for purchase. Under the existing law they can only sell for cash and this section would empower them to sell by means of advance and so dispose of these properties. It is evident from what has been said that this Bill is really a continuation and clarification of the Land Bill, 1936. That Act itself was mainly an extension of the prior land code rather than a measure introducing new principles and the same may be said of the present Bill. It seeks to equip the Land Commission with adequate statutory powers for the difficult and complicated work of land purchase and land settlement, and to facilitate their operations in points of administrative detail.

This, in a way, is a very curious Bill, because there are 58 sections in it and no new principle. It certainly does seem as if the Minister, no doubt aided ably by his predecessors in title, had succeeded in bringing land purchase in this country into a magnificent state of chaos, when it takes 58 sections to make up for 58, or more, separate and distinct blunders made in previous years in legislation introduced by the Minister and his predecessors. There are things in this Bill, long as it is, which are remarkable. I do not intend, however, to delay the House for anything more than a few moments in the remarks I have to make, because there are 58 sections, each dealing with some matter of detail, but there is no principle at all running through the whole thing. In consequence there is no general principle, to my mind, which would, properly speaking, be the subject of a Second Reading debate at all. I felt a certain amount of sympathy with the Minister when he was being catechised and when he sought refuge in "Wait until the Committee Stage." I think he was right, because we are not dealing with any principle of any kind in this Bill, and it is just as well for us to wait for the Committee Stage to deal with the various matters which come up for consideration.

There is, however, one matter which is not dealt with by the Minister at all in the Bill, and it is completely and entirely impossible to find out where it stands, that is, what are the holdings of land which can, or cannot, be resumed compulsorily. There is a statute which laid down that certain classes of holdings which were tilled in a correct and proper fashion could not be resumed, and we were told by the Acting Minister for Lands —the present Minister for Defence— when bringing in a Land Bill that he had carefully drafted a section which would provide that if land was carefully tilled and giving adequate employment, unless there was congestion in the immediate vicinity and it was required for the relief of that congestion, it would be perfectly safe; but as soon as that section came before the sub-commission they simply blew it sky-high and remarked very quietly that if there was congestion anywhere in Ireland it was in that section. The undertaking which the Minister for Defence gave the House has completely gone by the board. I should like the Minister, so that people would know where they are, to say what is the class of holding that can be resumed for the purpose of relieving congestion and what is the class of holding that cannot be resumed. If we get that clear, I think it would be much more use than a great number of these small and rather petty points, so far as a considerable number of them are concerned, which come into this 58-section Bill. I shall have more to say about the Bill on the Committee Stage, but for the present I imitate the Minister and keep my remarks in reserve.

Mr. Brennan

It would certainly be a relief, as Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney pointed out, if we could have something definite of that kind from the Minister. This Bill comes before the House primarily because of two happenings. These are the difficulties that have arisen with regard to the compulsory acquisition of land and the resumption of holdings. These are two of the main reasons why this Bill has been brought before the House. There is not any doubt whatever that land security in this country—land as security for debt or for loans—has been very largely interfered with and that has very largely interfered with production in agricultural business because of this right of compulsory acquisition and resumption of holdings. I do not want to assume the rôle of defending those who say there should not be compulsory acquisition or resumption of land. But I do say this: that there is no use in the Land Commission endeavouring to set people on the land if, at the same time, they are destroying the farmers' credit and preventing them from getting that facility which is so often essential to the successful working of the land. That is what has happened.

At the present time nobody will deny that what is hampering the farmers is the matter of credit facilities. Banks are not prepared to advance money on the security of holdings as in the past. Why? Because of that very clause which was not operative in the past. Of course, it is the business of the banks and it is the business of every lending concern to ensure that they have security for the money they lend. This is very important to the farmers. Is there any security in land in this country at the present time? Where can there be security when the Land Commission can walk in the following day and take up, irrespective of size or valuation or anything else, holdings of land, and say to the occupiers, "We are going to resume these holdings; we have no regard whatever to the money that has been advanced on the security of this land; we want the land for a certain purpose, and we are going to resume it"? The result of that state of things is that many farmers all over the country are not working their farms and are not able to work their farms because of this want of credit. In fact, in many cases, neither annuities nor rates are being paid because farmers, through the lean period of the economic war, lost all they had. They had to make inroads on their capital, and, when that capital was used up, neither the banks nor any lending concerns would lend them money because of this very clause.

If the Land Commission feels, if the Government feels, that it is necessary that a clause of that kind must be inserted in a Land Bill, and if it feels that these powers must be in the hands of the Land Commission in order to deal with land division in this country, then some arrangement ought to be made to repay to the lenders whatever moneys had been lent by them on those holdings. I do not think that is impossible. I do not think it is fair, on the part of the Land Commission in its efforts to establish the people on the land in this country, to deprive farmers of their right to credit. Because that is what the Land Commission and the Government are doing so far as these two matters of compulsory acquisition and resumption are concerned.

These are the two main matters in this Bill and these are the two matters which are striking straight at the credit of the farming community. How are we going to remedy it? Surely, it is the business of the Minister or of the Government, who are seeing the operation of that particular clause for the past two years, or whenever it was operated, even in a limited form, to put a stop at once to this destruction of the farmers' credit. We have had right down through some years ample illustrations of the withholding of credit from the farmers because of this right of the Land Commission to walk in the following day and take the land. When we have that system applying to the large farms it has certainly reduced the market value of the land and pulled it down enormously. The same thing affects the very small farmer— the man of ten, twelve or fifteen acres, the man who does not come into the same category as the large farmer from whom the Land Commission would be taking up a holding. Nevertheless the fact that the larger holding is depreciated and that the owner of that farm cannot get credit facilities extends down the whole way.

While this sort of thing is allowed to continue we have not any business in trying to re-establish people on the land. We have no business asking for greater production and no business asking for a greater export trade in such circumstances. We have no business whatever trying to get more out of the land in this country, when at the same time by the clause we are now putting into the Land Bill, we are directly working to deprive the farming people of credit facilities. I seriously put it to the Minister that the operation of this particular clause is nullifying the great work that has been done by the Congested Districts Board and by the Land Commission. Certainly, great work has been done by these two Departments in the past. Unless some kind of alternative security is found— and I say it is up to the Land Commission to find it—if they are going to impose a clause of that kind with the reactions which it has been creating, then it is their duty to see that some alternative credit facilities are given to the people. It is, possibly, a difficult matter. At present, my view is that these two clauses are ruining the chances of the people to make a living and ruining the chances of prosperity of the farming community. The banks, the Agricultural Credit Corporation, and every other interested body want to see that the security they get for their loans is sound and, to a certain extent, lasting. What security have they with clauses like these standing against them? They have none. No man in this part of the country can say that his land will be his own to-morrow. Neither can the banks say so. If that is necessary to deal with a certain situation, something else is necessary to deal with the credit situation. What is your proposal for it? It is the business of the Government, and if the Minister does not feel that there is any obligation upon him to bring in some alternative security so that people will get crdit, then he ought to turn the matter over to the Taoiseach and the other members of the Government. It is somebody's business to see that enactments of this sort have not unfavourable reactions and repercussions. We want greater production and greater credit facilities. How are we to get them? We are cutting right across any credit we had and, until we either restore that or find some alternative security, we shall never get a chance to put people back in the position in which they were some years ago.

I agree with Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney that this is a Bill which must be largely dealt with on Committee Stage. A difficulty, however, presents itself in deferring anything I have to say to the Committee Stage. When we arrive at the Committee Stage and consider the putting down of amendments which we consider desirable, we may find ourselves faced with the difficulty that we are either contingently or otherwise proposing to put a charge on public funds. Our amendments would, therefore, be ruled out of order. That is why I stand up at this stage to put a particular type of case which came to my notice before the Minister. If the matter is not dealt with in the Bill now before us—I myself think it is— I could not put down an amendment to deal with it, because it would be out of order.

The type of case to which I refer is dealt with in the very excellent explanatory memorandum which the Minister circulated. It comes under Section 36, though the type of case I have in mind was not dealt with under the provision to which Section 36 in this Bill relates. I do not think that there are a great many of these cases. They are cases in which purchase or part-purchase took place under some of the very early Acts. In other words, the tenant purchasers are not only paying purchase money either to the Board of Works, under the 1870 Act, or to the Land Commission under the later Acts, but they are also paying a fee farm rent or a perpetuity rent. In the cases I have in mind, I think it is called a fee farm rent. The Minister says that these cases can be dealt with at any time under Section 39 of the Act of 1923. That is perfectly true. These fee farm rents can be redeemed. That might have been done at any time since the passing of the 1923 Act. Many of these persons are, however, very small farmers, and their annuities in most cases amount only to £2 or £3. Where they are as much as that, their proportion of the fee farm rent is about £12. They were heavily in debt to the landlord to whom they paid that superior rent. Section 39 of the Act of 1923 makes no provision for compounding arrears of rent. If it did, they would naturally have gone under Section 39. That is, obviously, the section under which they ought to go, but in the particular cases I have in mind the farmers were very heavily in debt. They had actually decrees issued against them in the Circuit Court for the maximum six years' arrears. In some cases the amount went up to £70 or £80. Counsel intimated to the Circuit Court that Land Commission proceedings were to be instituted, and a stay was put upon the execution of the decrees. Proceedings under Section 39 would have been no justification for a stay because, even though the rent was redeemed under that section, they would still be liable for every penny for which they were decreed.

These tenants did not go under section 39. They proceeded under Section 44 of the Act of 1931 as amended by Section 42 of the Act of 1933 and Section 43 of the Act of 1936. It was Section 43 of the 1936 Act which enabled them to be considered at all as coming within the category of what are known as Section 44 cases. Clause (c), which is now being repealed and re-enacted in different form in this Bill, enabled these particular cases to ground their application to the Land Commission. Actually, their applications were heard by the Land Commission and they were admitted. Where do they stand now? Their application was allowed under paragraph (c) of Section 43 of the Act of 1936. Although there are appeals from both sides pending, there is no appeal on the question of admission. The only appeal is on the question of the standard purchase annuity and the standard price, so that the cases, so far as I am dealing with them, are not sub judice. These were tenants who were paying an annuity to the Land Commission or Board of Works as well as paying a fee farm rent which, so far as they were concerned, was never revised. If they had gone under Section 39 of the 1923 Act, they would have had the benefit of that revision. Once the fee farm rent was redeemed and the annuity fixed, that annuity would be revised under Part III of the 1933 Act. Their position at the moment is not quite clear. Once they have been admitted, as they have been, to the benefits of Section 44 of the Act of 1931, I think that the new provision—I want the Minister's assurance on this—which is contained in Section 45 of the Bill will not debar them from the revision of the annuity they will pay under Part III of the 1933 Act, I mean the revision will take place. They will not be debarred under the 1933 Act from revision of the annuity that they will have to pay, when that has been fixed by the court in the near future.

Clause (c) of the 1936 Act says that "any such application may be made and granted in respect of a parcel of land which constitutes or forms part of a holding purchased under any Land Purchase Act." They were admitted because of the wording of that clause. It is understandable that they should not be admitted to the benefits of Part III of the Act of 1933 if their annuities have been already revised. That is understandable but the persons of whom I speak never had that portion of their rents revised at all. The fee farm rent had continued and has never been revised at all. I put it to the Minister, if it is not clear that these persons shall now have their annuities revised, that he should see to it, on the Committee stage, that they will, because it stands to reason that they should be put on the same footing as everybody else who comes within the Land Purchase Act. I take it that the Minister's only anxiety in dealing with the exclusion of cases from the benefits of that portion of the 1933 Act is to see that persons should not have the annuities on their holdings revised twice. I quite agree with the Minister in his aim to see that that should not happen. As far as Section 27 of the Bill provides for that, I entirely agree with it.

It would be wrong that any person should be placed in a better position than his neighbour. That wrong will remain against the particular persons whose cases I have mentioned to the Minister because they, if it is not being provided for in this Bill, will be debarred from having their new annuities revised. Unless the new Section 45 of the Bill gives them that right, they will be debarred from the provisions of Part III of the Land Act of 1933. I am hoping that Section 45 of the Bill removes that bar to their coming within that portion of the 1933 Act. That was really the only point I wanted to make. I wanted to make it at this stage because I cannot put down any amendment to deal with a matter of that kind. Such an amendment coming from an ordinary Deputy would be out of order, as it would involve a contingent charge on public funds.

I should like to stress a further point raised by Deputy Brennan and Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney in connection with the resumption of holdings and the question of credit. I have heard of one specific case in which a man had completed a contract for sale of his farm. The farm was situated in County Limerick, and the owner was a man in Kerry whom I know. Just as the contract for sale had been completed, some local persons got busy and sent word to the Land Commission. The Land Commission stepped in, sent down an inspector, and held up the sale for quite a considerable time. The cheque had actually been sent by the purchaser to the vendor, but the purchaser's solicitor went into the bank and stopped the cheque because of the intervention of the Land Commission. I think that when an ordinary sale is taking place, the Land Commission should not interfere. Let me say this, that in the particular case I mention, when the Land Commission learned of the facts they ceased interference and allowed the sale to go through. The actual purchaser was a man who had five farming sons, and he wanted to settle one of them on this particular farm. When the Land Commission learned the full facts, they refused to be rushed into interfering, but in the meantime they held up the sale for at least two or three months. That, I think, is a very bad thing. When a man has an ordinary purchaser for his holding on the ordinary market, it is not fair that the Land Commission should step in and interfere with the sale. If they do, I suggest that they should at least give the price that has been arranged as between the original purchaser and the vendor. If they did that there would be no particular "grouse," but to go in when a man has sold his holding, and completely to wipe out the contract of sale is, I think, very unfair to the purchaser and the vendor.

This Bill is described as an Act to amend and extend the Land Purchase Acts in divers respects. It is remarkable in the number of respects in which it seeks to amend existing Land Acts, but it is even more remarkable in the various important respects in which it fails to amend existing Acts. We know that under existing legislation the right of fixity of tenure has been completely abolished. Every member of the House is, I think, agreed upon that point.

Who told you that?

We have got to ask ourselves why we should not take advantage of this Bill to amend existing Land Acts so as to restore, so far as is humanly possible, security of tenure to the average peasant farmer of this country. We are told, of course, that a farmer who farms his land property and who gives a certain amount of employment will not be interfered with; but we know, as far as the Land Acts are concerned, that there is no statutory provision to protect such a farmer. We must ask ourselves why should it not be possible for the Minister, when introducing this legislation, to introduce such a statutory provision to protect any farmer who is endeavouring to work his land to the best advantage and who is providing a reasonable amount of employment. That would be a reasonable provision, yet it is a provision which the Minister has failed to include in this legislation. The result is that no farmer, whether his holding be large or small, has any security of tenure whatsoever. The Minister has not stated at any time why it is not possible to introduce a statutory provision that would protect the rights of the average farmer in cases where it is not the present intention of the Land Commission to interfere with those rights —rights which, however, could be interfered with by this or any future Government under the Acts now in force. I think that such a clause is absolutely necessary in this Bill. It could be inserted without interfering, to any extent, with the acquisition of land for the relief of congests.

The Land Commission is making congests every other day.

I will come to that later. There is another amendment which is needed in this proposed legislation, namely, that where land is being divided there should be a statutory minimum acreage provided for each new holding. At the present time you have new holdings in various parts of the country comprising three, four, five and six acres. They are of no use to the tenant, the Land Commission, or the country in general. There is no justification for them. I know, of course, that the Land Commission will always be subjected to very strong pressure to divide a holding into the smallest possible divisions so as to meet the needs of the largest number of claims possible. That kind of thing should be met by a statutory minimum acreage being laid down for each holding. In the Land League days we had the three slogans: Fair Rent, Fixity of Tenure and Free Sale.

We have two "F's" now—Fianna Fáil.

We may not have them for very long.

Mr. Boland

Deputy Belton should not be anticipating Deputy Dillon on that.

I suggest to the Minister that he should take advantage of this Bill to make provision for farmers who have been brought to a pitiful state of destitution, due to the conditions under which they were compelled to live during the past four or five years, by inserting a new section in it spreading their arrears of annuities over the entire purchase period. When Deputies go to the Land Commission to plead on behalf of annuitants they are frequently told that the Land Commission are powerless to do anything for them inasmuch as the Land Commission are under statutory obligation to collect the annuities. The most that they can do is to give short temporary relief. The Land Commission claim that they are bound by statute. Here the opportunity presents itself to the Minister to get statutory power to deal with these exceptional cases. Everyone realises that the years through which we have passed may never occur again and must never occur again in the history of this country. That being so, why should it not be possible to revise these annuities. The present annuities were fixed at the peak period, or, if one prefers it, at the deepest period of the economic war in 1933. That was an abnormal period when conditions were absolutely hopeless. That was a time when the annuities were being collected through devices other than the machinery of the Land Commission. The farmers at that time were unable to meet the demands made on them, with the result that arrears accumulated over two or three years. The position at the moment is that while agricultural prices have slightly improved, and while it may be possible for farmers to meet the current instalments it is absolutely impossible for them to clear off the arrears which have accumulated. Therefore, I suggest to the Minister that he should avail of this legislation to amend the 1933 Land Act, that he should revise the present annuities and spread the repayment of the arrears due over a considerable period. In view of what the farmers have suffered, I do not think the Minister can give a valid reason for refusing to meet my request.

The Minister is correct when he anticipates from me a remonstrance in connection with Section 39 of this Bill. Either the Land League leaders knew what was good for this country or they did not. It is certainly true that 100 per cent. of the Irish people thought they did, and supported them. It is certainly true that most social students of this country have commented on the rise in the standard of living of the farmers of this country since the doctrine for which the Land League stood prevailed. I do not think that anyone who knows rural Ireland would deny that, from the day on which fixity of tenure, free sale and fair rent were established in this country the farmers began to get better off, and that that steadily continued until Fianna Fáil destroyed those three things.

Now, the decision in Potterton's case reimposed some restraint on the Land Commission in its promiscuous resumption of holdings under previous Land Acts. It is now proposed to withdraw the protection conferred on tenants by the decision in Potterton's case. I think that is a retrograde step unless it is accompanied by some declaration by the Minister for Lands that the Government are of opinion that fixity of tenure, fair rent and free sale should be re-established in this country on some basis. If the whole land settlement in this country is to go back into the melting pot, it is going to destroy the enterprise of our people, and is going to end in chaos in rural Ireland. Those who have no understanding of the circumstances under which our people live cannot be expected to appreciate that. But if you fix every farmer in this country with notice that a Government agency can, at any time, take his land from him, although there is a statutory obligation to give him a farm of equal market value, it means that you are going to destroy every farmer's willingness to devote himself energetically to the improvement of his holding, and, consequently, to increasing the national income as a whole.

I myself know that since the 1933 Land Act came to be appreciated in rural Ireland the fact is that, in a townland where there were one good farmer and seven bad ones, the seven bad ones deliberately started a Fianna Fáil club for the purpose of recommending to the Land Commission that they should inspect the good farmer's holding with a view to acquisition. That is common knowledge. I do not say by any means that the Land Commission always do examine it, though they frequently do. I have no doubt that in the vast majority of cases, after examining it, they abandon all idea of acquisition, but anyone living in rural Ireland knows the impression it creates in a small farmer's mind if a Land Commission inspector walks on to his holding for the purpose of inspecting it for acquisition. It is a completely revolutionary idea and, say what you like to that man hereafter, nothing will convince him that if he does anything further to improve his holding it will not be seized sooner or later.

I know cases in which Fianna Fáil T.D.s have gone down to meetings of neighbours and exhorted them to try and grab their neighbour's holding, and, under the protection and encouragement of members of the Fianna Fáil Party, representations have been made to the Land Commission requesting them to grab that man's holding and distribute it amongst the modern emergency men. In that parish you started a minor land war. We all saw what happened in Ballyhaunis. We had respectable farmers' wives out on the road battling with the Civic Guards, and general pandemonium in that parish, and you are going to have the same in every parish in Ireland if you once create the impression generally that the land grabber is now a just man, and that the decent farmer is going to be regarded in the future as a public enemy.

He is going to be an emergency man.

If the emergency men and the grabbers of this State are to be the favoured children of the Government Party, their numbers will increase, because many a man who is deterred from being a grabber or an emergencyman only by the knowledge that that class is loathed by the decent elements in this country reverts to type when he gets the assistance of a Fianna Fáil Deputy's protection to resist the pressure of public opinion. The 1933 Land Act set a premium on the grabber and the emergencyman in this country. The Potterton decision checked that tendency, and we have now announced that it is our intention to override the Potterton decision so as to restore to that grabber and emergency man the charter of liberty he got in 1933. The Deputy from Wicklow thinks that this occasion should be taken to amend the land code in order to correct that and to restore fixity of tenure to the farmers of this country. That will not do. There is no good amending an Act of Parliament to that end, because once you have destroyed a great fundamental principle in the community's life, there is no use trying to restore it by passing an Act of Parliament, which is always capable of repeal. Confidence is hard to create but extremely easy to destroy. Confidence in fixity of tenure in this country has been destroyed. The country people no longer believe that you can, with safety, invest your savings in the land. They believe that if you do the grabber will start a Fianna Fáil club and take your land from you for a tithe of what you paid for it.

I do not only want to destroy the grabber; I want to strangle the grabber in this country. In the old days the Land League strangled him effectively. He was treated with more contempt and loathing than a leper. People held their noses when they passed him on the side of the road. The grabber's son and the emergency man's son are still marked in rural Ireland. We tolerate them, but we only tolerate them. Anyone would be ashamed to be known as the intimate friend of a grabber's son or an emergency man's son, but charity so far prevails that we tolerate them. The only way in which you can destroy the grabber now is by some fundamental law which will not be susceptible to amendment by the grabber's friend in this House.

We could get that law passed. Any amendment of the Constitution proposing to grant fixity of tenure to our people in rural Ireland will be carried by a majority of ten to one if it is put to the people, and anyone who attempts thereafter to get that amendment repealed or withdrawn will get his answer from the people. Far from seeking to override the decision of the Potterton case, I suggest to the Minister that we should now make up our minds as to what is the holding of land which this State considers is the maximum which may be guaranteed against interference. You may fix that at 50 acres or 100 acres, or at whatever figure you like.

You cannot get back to the old flexible principle which distinguished between a man's homestead and land that he let. The day you broke the landord's demesne wall you destroyed the fundamental principle of the land settlement in this country. The Land League stood for the principle that the farmer's homestead was untouchable, but that no man would be allowed to hold land and let it to his neighbour. Because the cupidity of our people was stirred, they broke the demesne wall, and the day they broke the demesne wall they interferred with the landlord's homestead. Up to that time the landlord and the smallest congest tenant in Ireland were equal before the law. There was no distinction made between them. The landlord had no privilege over the congest, and the congest had no privilege over the landlord. That was the right way—that all men be equal before the law. The moment you went into the landlord's homestead, where he was living and working, you opened the flood gates to justify going into the large farmer in his homestead, and taking that from him. The next stage was the 1933 Land Act, when you took the right to go into any farmer's homestead, take it from him, and give him in exchange for it what you thought was good for him. You now have the right to go into a farmer in West Cork and take his holding from him, and give him one in East Donegal, if it is of equal market value. That means that you have Clanrickarde's right, Barrymore's right, to evict a man on the side of the road and offer him something in exchange which is no good to him.

You need not give him anything in exchange.

Oh, yes. If a man has less than £2,000 worth of land, and is living on the holding, he is entitled to land of equal value if the Land Commission resumes his holding.

He would want a whole parish of land for that.

That is as far as fixity of tenure goes. Let the Government make up its mind what is the maximum holding in respect of which we are prepared to restore fixity of tenure. Let us incorporate that finding in a constitutional amendment, put it to the country, get it carried, and restore fixity of tenure at least, so that we can get the people to put their savings into the land as they used to do, improving their holdings as they started to do in 1881, and building up the national wealth. When we have done that, I put it to the Government that the next thing we ought to do is to restore free sale. Mind you, one very largely flows from the other. If you give them fixity of tenure, then they will have the right to go out and sell their land if it suits them to do so. A lot of people in Dáil Eireann imagine that the only person who ever sells land is a landed proprietor. Anyone who lives amongst the people and knows them realises how grotesquely untrue that is. After 1881, the average small farmer invested his money in two ways. He either gave it to the joint stock banks to hold it on deposit for him—a thoroughly uneconomic procedure, and if the banks do not like that they can lump it—or he invested it in improvements in the land. The farmers believed, and they rightly believed, that if they bought a holding for £200 and put their savings into it by way of improving fences, out-offices, and manure, and if later the family arrangements required them to sell, they would be able to get for the improved holding the price which they originally paid and the amount spent on improvements out of their savings. They were perfectly right.

Now what have you? A man has a holding of land and puts his savings into it, improves it, makes it outstanding amongst those of his neighbours, whereupon the grabbers form a Fianna Fáil club and the land is inspected. That man wants to sell that piece of land. Perhaps he has no son, and his daughter is going to marry into another place, and it suits him to sell the land and give her a dowry, and go into town to live himself. The minute that man's land is announced for auction, the grabbers' club notify the Land Commission and there is an inspector down to inspect it. Quite apart from the prospect of whether the Land Commission are going to take the land or not, in fact, when the inspector comes, that land becomes unsaleable.

Anyone who is bidding for it retires from the contest, and the grabbers' club manage to create an impression that it is contrary to Government policy to buy that farm. Ultimately that man is confronted with a situation that his savings are locked up in the piece of land, that he cannot sell it, and that the only way he can dispose of it is to dispose of it to the Land Commission, who will fix the price for the land with due regard to the value of the land, and the capacity of the land to pay the annuity; with the result that that farm of land for which £900 could be got in the open market will be acquired by the Land Commission for maybe £200 or less. The life savings of that old man are gone, as well as a substantial part of the money that he originally put into the holding. That is not free sale. If you are going to destroy free sale, as certain as we are in this House not one penny is going into the improvements of the land of Ireland, and if it does not go into the improvement of the land of Ireland, not only will the people who live upon the land suffer, but the whole nation will suffer. Deputies are blinding themselves to facts if they do not face them. There are people in this country and in high places who can make themselves believe what they want to believe.

You show a good example.

The less Deputy Corry has to say about the principles of the Land League the less danger there will be of my making him a sharp answer.

Deputy Corry knows as much about the principles as Deputy Dillon.

Devil a much Deputy Corry ever had to do with the Land League.

I do not want to have any argument or wrangle with Deputy Corry on the subject of fixity of tenure, free sale, or free rent. I believe it is in the interests of the country to enable every small farmer to improve his holding. I believe it will contribute to the national wealth. I believe it will redound to the revenue and to the whole life of the country. I believe precisely what Michael Davitt and the Land Leaguers believed. I believe that if our people are to be free to maintain their freedom you have to give them security in their means of livelihood—fixity of tenure and free sale on the land. I am prepared to believe that Fianna Fáil robbed them of these things without realising what they were doing. If that be correct, then there is a chance of remedying the wrong. I have no doubt that with good will we could arrive at an agreed basis between all Parties in this House upon which fixity of tenure and free sale were to be restored. In that event I believe that a constitutional amendment would be carried practically without a single vote against it

I seriously say to the Minister that it is of vital importance, not only to the economic future of the country, but to the peace and good government of the country, that that should be done. He himself I know has had some anxious moments in regard to civil disturbances that have arisen here and there as a result of an attempt to grab a neighbour's holding. The Minister himself knows that at least on one occasion I did what I could to make an end to such activities, and with the collaboration of the Minister for Justice, freely and courteously given, it was possible to bring to an end an agitation which was giving rise to wholly undesirable violence and which was due to that section of the Land Act in relation to which the Potterton case was argued and decided. The Minister himself knows that there were analogous cases in other parts of the country. If that goes on great evil will accrue and I want to stop it.

I am prepared to admit now that in the situation in which we find ourselves we cannot get back to the pre-1923 decision and there is no use in battering one's head against a stone wall and lamenting that which is irretrievably gone. It has gone and there is no use crying about it. We have to get the next best thing and that is, having got sunk in a bog, to find dry land on which we can stand. With good will, that dry land can now be got. If we do not get it, I am telling the Minister that he is going to sink deeper and deeper into a mess out of which nobody will be able to get him.

I cannot emphasise too strongly and urgently the vital necessity of facing this issue and dealing with it. There are other matters arising on this Bill, but they can be more appropriately dealt with in Committee. The other matters I referred to now, because I think so deeply on the three F's. I am profoundly convinced that they affect not only the interests of individual parties or individuals but the whole future of Ireland. I do not propose to go beyond making a strong appeal to the Government to realise whither their policy of the promiscuous resumption of holdings will bring them, and to assure them that if they face this reasonably and responsibly, they need apprehend from this side of the House no embarrassing criticism, no unreasonable remonstrances, but cordial co-operation in finding some method on which we can all stand together to reassure the vast majority of the farmers living on the land that, from this day forward, no power on earth will have the right to take from them the homesteads from which they get their living. We can still do much, and it will make an immense and a profound difference to the state of public peace, and to the mind of the agricultural community in general. I am sincerely frightened by the prospect of what may develop if the present system continues. I said that in regard to the economic situation, and I feel that I am justified, in saying now deliberately, that the powers of resumption at present vested in the Land Commission constitute a real menace to the public peace, in addition to the economic position, and I beg the Minister, in the face of that situation, to take counsel in his own Party and, if necessary, with us, to determine on an agreed basis upon which we can re-establish now and for all time free sale and fixity of tenure for small farmers.

I would like in the first place to nail what was evidently a filthy innuendo, of which Deputy Dillon seems to be the master in this House. I make the case here openly and above board that, as far as I or any member of my family, or those who came before me, are concerned we were never land grabbers or anything else. My grandfather was evicted and put on the side of the road in County Clare with 16 children. My father bought three holdings in his time, each of them at a public auction and at a free sale. It would be a good thing if Deputy Dillon's hands were as clean.

If the Deputy interrupts he may expect a very sharp answer. Let it go at that.

I am not going to put up with that from anybody. Statements have been made here that Fianna Fáil and this Government have abolished security of tenure. When and how? I should like some Deputy to show under what Land Act security of tenure was abolished. We were told that land is not a security for loans. It is not. Why? It is not because of anything the Land Commission has done. Deputies and the people of the country generally know that if banks try to sell farms on which there are mortgages there will not be one buyer. That is well known. It is common property to everyone that that is why land is not security with the banks. There is no getting over that position. That has been the case for a number of years. I remember having had to stand up in this House several years ago to protest against the Land Commission buying a holding from which a bank had got a tenant evicted. That kind of security is not there now, and that is why banks will not advance money on holdings. These are facts that no one can deny. We heard talk about grabbers and emergency men in Fianna Fáil clubs. I remember ex-Deputy Hassett's allusions to the manner in which he and other Deputies in the Party to which they belonged succeeded in getting land divided in County Tipperary, and I remember hearing of cross road meetings and as to whom was to get the land. That is on the records of this House for any Deputy who wishes to read it. I remember the scandal that was created in County Tipperary when 360 acres of land were given to a district justice. That is the way Cumann na nGaedheal divided the land.

We are facing a problem that does not affect the small holdings about which Deputy Dillon pretends to have such sympathy. In my constituency there are four parishes that were grabbed and from which the original tenants were evicted. These people are now on the hillsides with farms varying from 20 to 30 acres, and they are paying not only their own annuities and rates, but the annuities and the rates of the grabbers as well. I challenge contradiction of that statement. It is to end that state of affairs that this Bill is before the House. On the Foley Turpin and the Smyth estates arrears are due for eight or nine years, amounting to £1,700. That money is being paid by the unfortunate people who were evicted and who are now living on farms of 20 or 30 acres. The people who owe these arrears have taken advantage of every flaw and every legal quibble that could be found in the Land Acts. When the Land Commission proceeded to take over the Foley Turpin estate some years ago there was an objection, and the estate is still there waiting for this Bill before it can be acquired. Meanwhile the ratepayers are paying the rates owing on it, and all the county council can get after the Land Commission has acquired it will be two years' rates.

Why do you let them get away with it?

We cannot prevent them.

There is nothing in this Bill to catch them.

With all respect to Deputy Belton, I wish to remind him that the chairman of the county council is sitting on the same benches as he is, and he is as good, and perhaps a better business man.

I never questioned that.

On the Rostellan Estate £1,760 is owing for rates, and is being paid at present by the unfortunate people on the hillsides. They have to pay in order that Deputy Dillon can throw his arms around Sir James Pope Hennessy and say: "Here is an unfortunate hard-working farmer who is going to be evicted so that some land grabber out of a Fianna Fáil Club might get his land." Did you ever hear of such hypocrisy on the part of any Deputy with any sense of responsibility? The position is nearly the same on the Flower Estate. I think they paid fairly well. On the Smyth Estate the arrears of rates amount to £480. That is the position we are faced with down there. There are 3,800 acres of land in one parish for which no rates have been paid for a number of years and for which no annuities have been collected for a number of years. They take advantage of all the legal quibbles that can be picked out by Deputies opposite. Those are the people we are told about, the hard-working, honest farmers who are to be kept in their holdings with Deputy Dillon's mantle thrown over their shoulders. If anyone looks crooked at them he is a grabber or an emergency man. I, for one, will do all I can to put people in there and I defy anybody to call me a grabber or an emergency man. If he does he will get his answer damn quickly.

I intend to see these holdings divided as long as God gives me strength and a good right arm. I will see that the men from the hills are brought back and put into the holdings their ancestors were driven out of, and I will make no apology to anyone for doing it. This piece of legislation will finish the job, and it has been long enough in the finishing. I do not think any Deputy with a sense of responsibility could say that the unfortunate men with 20 or 30 acres, rearing their families and slaving from morning till night, should pay, in addition to their own rates and annuities, the rates and annuities on those holdings from which their fathers before them were evicted.

Insert an amendment in this Bill to cover that.

It is there in the Bill now.

It is not; collective responsibility still remains.

You will get over it. We are going to see that the land is taken over and that the objections they succeeded in raising, objections that prevented the land being taken over, will now be removed. This thing has gone too far, and it is unjust and unfair to the working farmer. Deputy Dillon has been throwing his mantle over those people. I saw them marching four deep in processions; they were known as the New Land League and the Tates, the Smyths, and the Flowers were there. I do not think there was ever a Land League brought into being to keep these people in possession of 600, 800 or 1,000 acres. I do not think any responsible Deputy would stand for their continued possession of so much land. Year after year these estates have been dragged into court, and there was no chance of getting over the technicalities. This Bill will settle all that, and I hope it will baffle the lawyers.

We hear talk about land grabbing. Deputy Lynch made a point in connection with the sale of a holding to another man. There are lots of what are known as fake sales. I have a very definite instance which occurred in a portion of my constituency recently. A gentleman there found himself served with a notice by the Land Commission that they wanted to acquire portion of his holding. He sold it to another man. There is no need in this country for taking over any land that is being worked properly. There is no occasion to go to the man with 100 acres or 50 acres, provided he is working it. If Deputy Broderick would only speak, he could tell us that there are between 3,000 and 4,000 acres lying between my house and his house, and it could be taken over without anybody crying salt tears. It would undoubtedly relieve congestion there if that land were taken over.

The land is there waiting to be taken over, but what can you do with these people? I saw one old damsel, who has 700 acres and owes us between £700 and £800 in rates, coming before a board of inquiry and kicking up the dickens of a row because an unfortunate labourer was going to get one acre of it on which to erect a house. She opposed it tooth and nail. "Why should an acre of her land be taken?" She knew that the £30 or £35 she would be paid for the acre would be collared by us for the rates. Deputies over there have taken the line, first, that we abolished fixity of tenure—we did not—and, secondly, that on account of fixity of tenure being abolished, the banks will not give any more loans. I have given the reason why the banks will not give loans.

Nobody knows it better than I do. There are holdings on which as much as £7,000 and £8,000 are due, and if they were put up for sale by public auction they would not sell for £2,000. That is why the banks will not advance money on land, because the banks know very well that no matter what they do they cannot realise. There is a lot of talk about security of tenure. I should like some Deputies opposite to point out when did Fianna Fáil abolish security of tenure, and in what way.

If you put up a 50-acre farm for sale, will you have a free sale?

Why not? I have seen 50-acre, 200-acre and 250-acre farms put up for auction within the past two or three months and purchased. I saw a holding of 230 acres outside Ovens put up for sale and £3,000 was paid for it.

Was it non-residential?

We hear a lot of this talk going on. I know nothing about a non-residential—there is no room for him.

There is no free sale.

The position is that there is no prevention whatsoever of free sale. Neither is there any attempt by the Land Commission to acquire land that is being worked in a fair way. I have not seen it in my constituency. If there are Cork Deputies who know to the contrary, let them say so. I doubt very much if Deputy Dillon will get one follower in his attitude towards these people. I do not see why certain people should be protected on their 500, 600 and 700-acre farms, from which the people have been cleared out and who now have to live on the hillsides and have to pay, not only their land annuities, but their rates also. I do not think there is very much further to say in this connection, but I should certainly like to hear some Deputy over there tell us when the 60 years' tenure should stop. In my own constituency I saw, as I am sure other Deputies there also saw, men being evicted, between the years 1923 and 1932, if they could not pay their annuities. If a man did not pay his annuity the Land Commission came down and just put him out. That was all there was to it—out he went. Of course, the Land Commission must get their annuities for their holdings.

They are not selling them out any more.

I can name several people who were evicted between 1922 and 1932 for the non-payment of their annuities. I can name quite a number of them, and there was no economic war going on at that time. However, that is the position as I view it, Sir, and I can see no justification whatever for the arguments that have been put up here with regard to this Bill.

There are just a few points that I should like to make, Sir, in connection with this Bill. Firstly, I would appeal to the Minister to have regard to the point raised by Deputy Lynch as to applying Part III of the Land Act to certain cases all over the country where an existing land annuity on a fee farm grant obtains, seeing that they do get the benefit of Part III of the Land Act of 1933. I am aware of a fairly large number of cases, and although the Land Commission has authority to fix a fair rent, keeping in mind the valuation or the capacity of the land to carry a new annuity, at the same time the new annuity, if Part III of the Land Act does not apply to it, will be more than the tenants on these particular holdings will be able to carry. Now, the difficulty here is that if we do not raise the matter at this particular time, we cannot move an amendment to the Bill because it would be considered to be a charge upon the Exchequer and, therefore, would be out of order. For that reason, I appeal to the Minister to consider these cases. There are not very many and it would not be a very heavy charge on the Exchequer, whereas it would be a great benefit and would be of the utmost importance so far as concerns these unfortunate creatures who have existed on these farms, at a bare subsistence level, for a great number of years.

Now, the question of the necessity of this Bill has been very clearly put, and it seems to me that nearly every Deputy who spoke has congratulated the Land Commission and the Minister upon this explanatory memorandum that has been circulated. I must say that that memorandum is very well done. I think that it is a very good idea and that it should be continued, and I think it should lessen considerably the discussion upon the Second Reading of this Bill. There is, however, a question to be considered. I must confess that I do not know how you are going to get over it. Deputy Corry has spoken about the 300-acre, 700-acre and 800-acre farms. Now, nobody on these benches, or anywhere else, is going to defend farms of that kind which are not being utilised in the proper way. If a farm of 100, 200, 400 or 600 acres is being left practically derelict and not being used properly, nobody in this House would dream of defending its retention by the present owner when one knows that ten, 20 or 30 families could be reared on a farm of that type and get a tip-top livelihood out of it.

Here, however, is a question which does require attention. In certain districts in the country a farm of even 40 acres is regarded as a big farm, and is even considered as a ranch, and if a man decides to put up one of these farms for sale in such a district, where there is a certain amount of congestion, an agitation immediately springs up for the acquisition of that land, and the result is that that farmer cannot sell it. I have known of cases in the County Longford of farms of land that were purchased for £2,000 or £3,000 originally that have been sold recently for as little as £700. In one particular case which has come to my definite knowledge, and in connection with which I am aware of the full facts— similar things happened in other cases, but I cannot vouch for them—a farm of land was put up for sale. Now, I do not say that this was confined to the Fianna Fáil club, because there is no doubt that there were Fine Gael people concerned also. Members of both Parties were mixed up in this, but that does not make the thing right. At any rate, an agitation was started for the acquisition of a certain 60-acre farm, and when it was put up, nobody would bid for it, and the secretary of the Fianna Fáil club bought it the following week at a knock-down price. I know that such things happened in other cases, but I cannot prove these cases. This, however, is a case in connection with which I can give proof.

Now, with regard to what Deputy Dillon has said, I should like to give my interpretation of his remarks. Of course, I may misinterpret him, and I think, Sir, that you have ruled that I cannot even interpret him in certain circumstances. I think, however, that what Deputy Dillon is concerned with is the farmer who has put his money into a moderately-sized farm of, let us say, 100 acres, 150 acres, or even 200 acres. My interest, however, is with the 30-acre, 40-acre or 50-acre farm, and I think that there should be no doubt as to the right of free sale for that farm. In certain districts, however, as I say, a 40-acre farm is regarded as a ranch. It is quite natural that, where the average size of the farms is six acres, eight acres or ten acres, a 40-acre farm would be regarded as a ranch and there would be an immediate demand for it. I know that the Land Commission does not take it, but the price of the farm has been whacked down or broken down, so to speak. I do not know how you can get over the problem. It is a problem for which I cannot offer a solution, but there is some force in the point that the Government should get into a position in which they would see that a certain acreage or a certain valuation of a farm was positively and definitely exempted. If that could be done, I think we would get somewhere; or, at least, have some security of tenure; because, notwithstanding anything to the contrary that may be said, this Bill gives power, for the relief of congestion, to take small farmers out of a district and put them into another district no matter what may be the size of the holdings. Even though the people might get better holdings elsewhere, they would rather stay in the districts where they have been long-rooted. In these circumstances, I think it might be all to the good if they were changed, but, at the same time, it is an authority that the Land Commission would have to use with discretion.

I do not like the idea of naming individual estates in this House where people are publicly charged—as they have been here this evening—with owing land annuities and rates. They have no opportunity of defending themselves here and the privileged position that members of the Government and members of all Parties occupy in this House should not be availed of to make charges. I think that it should not be developed at any rate.

There is a crying need, in my opinion, for the further acquisition of certain farms and I know that the Land Commission cannot proceed without some such authority as this, but it is a very difficult matter to know where to draw the line. Therefore, the House and the country have to depend upon the integrity, ability and impartiality of the Land Commission in dealing with these cases. Rightly or wrongly, there is the feeling throughout the country—I admit unjustly—that the Land Commission are influenced to a very great extent by Government activity and that, in particular, if an agitation is started in a district by a semi-I.R.A.-cum-Fianna Fáil Club and they insist that some farm of land should be taken, no matter what the merits are, there is a feeling that the Government is behind that, that the land cannot be bid for by anybody and that it must go by default. As I pointed out in connection with some other matters, that, in my opinion, is immoral in the sense that it is taking the value of the land from those who are lawfully and justly entitled to have it and taking the farmer's life savings and perhaps the savings of his people for generations and giving very small compensation.

We know perfectly well that in this country to-day there are three valuations for land: there is the land valuation for estate duty purposes which is considerable; there is the open market valuation; and then there is the Land Commission valuation. There are three distinct valuations. When a farmer dies, if he has willed his farm to a nephew or anybody, there is immediately estate and succession duty payable on it and on that the Revenue Commissioners immediately value the land. It is providential that they are not the purchasers for the Land Commission or they would soon stop land purchase. Then, as I say, there is the market valuation and then the Land Commission valuation.

I think there should be some means of getting a fair valuation of land for Land Commission purposes because when people are acquiring land they are getting something that is of value and they should pay a reasonable price for it. While I am anxious that they should not be overloaded, a reasonable price should be paid to the vendor for the land and, if necessary, the State should bear a substantial loss upon the resale. I notice that there is authority taken for that in the Bill but to establish or maintain the value of land or the security that land may be for credit there should be some definite system of valuation by which it could be shown what land would be worth in certain circumstances if and when acquired by the Land Commission.

Again, I wish to compliment the Minister and those responsible for this memorandum. I think if Deputies keep it in mind and go through it carefully it may considerably shorten the whole debate.

When the Land Act of 1933 was going through this House, on the First Reading, I referred to what has been repeatedly referred to in this particular debate—the three F's. At that particular period I ventured to prophesy that the Government would destroy what were commonly called the three F's in vesting themselves with the powers which could be named in another set of F's—fleece, filch and forfeit. I believe that subsequent events substantiate the fears I expressed in my opening remarks on that particular Bill. During the passage of that Bill several points were raised. We are asked now that we should raise several points on the Committee Stage of this Bill as we did then. Many of the doubts we expressed of various sections and many of the amendments which we moved and which were not accepted were met always by the Minister who was in charge of the Bill at that particular time with the retort that none of the provisions were meant to apply in the way we indicated. It has happened that almost every one of them has applied in the manner we feared.

Deputy Corry and other Deputies said that things had not happened, that farmers' land had not been endangered. Every Deputy in this House knows that it has. I do not care from what part of the House he comes, every Deputy knows that that is a fact. The Deputy who smiles at me knows just as well as I do. Deputy Meaney knows it full well.

Deputy Meaney is not as imaginative as Deputy Bennett.

And the members of the Labour Party know that it has happened that farms of even 100 acres have been endangered under the operations of the Act. Deputy Corry tried to defend it. He said the Government did not institute the resumption of farmers' holdings. Perhaps they did not. Perhaps the 1933 Act did not give the Government all the powers we said it gave. Perhaps there were some of those powers in existence before. But, there was a limit to the powers contained in the previous Acts. If there is any proof that it was the 1933 Act which gave these powers it is that until the 1933 Act came into operation there was no general fear in the minds of tenant holders that there was going to be any interference with their title or with their sales. It was only subsequent to the 1933 Act that these fears entered into the minds of even the average sized tenant farmer in this country, and his fears were justified.

One has begun to be timorous of any Land Act that has been brought into this House in the last few years. I certainly am. We have here a Bill of 58 sections. It would be impossible to go through all these sections. As many Deputies have said, I do not think it would be advisable to do so at this stage. Anyhow, they will be gone into fully, I hope, on the Committee Stage. The introduction of this Bill is proof that the 1933 Act and subsequent Acts did not even achieve all that was desired by the Government in regard to the acquisition of land.

Many of the sections in this Bill are admittedly meant to make the acquisition of land easier. Any ameliorating circumstances in favour of the tenant owner that were in the 1933 Act, if there were any such, are going to be put in danger by this Bill. I could name several sections where there is discrimination between the treatment the tenant is going to get and the treatment the Land Commission is to be entitled to get. Yet Deputies will get up and say that this is a fair Bill. I, for one, am against anything that furthers the resumption of tenant-owned land, land that has already been purchased and requisitioned. One would say that the owners would at least have a reasonable security of living on their land, of working it and passing it on to those who came after them.

Deputy Corry referred to some large estates: that is only drawing a load of red herrings across the track. No one can have any sympathy when land has been farmed so badly that the farmer is not in a position to pay rates and owes £500 or £600 in rates, which he is making no attempt to pay. No Deputy would have sympathy with a farmer of that kind; such a man has no right to own land.

He has, when he is let off with it.

But, generally speaking, the ordinary farmer makes an attempt to work his land in the way in which he thinks is right. He purchased his land, under one Act or another, on terms which he thought reasonable, and he has a right to enjoy the land, and should not be hampered by any legislation in a free country like this. There is a limit to which we can go in the acquisition of land.

One thought that when the landlords had been bought out and when certain other sections who did not farm their land properly had been interfered with, there would be a lessening in the tendency to encroach on legitimately owned farmer's land. It must end sometime. There must be some finality in legislation, or are we to expect a new Bill in two or three years' time, with another 58 or 60 sections? Is that the condition in which farmers will live, that what is not drastic enough will be made more drastic in a few years? Is there going to be successful farming under those conditions? Of course there is not!

Somebody said that the banks had other reasons for refusing credit. If they had, I do not know of them. Some of us got big loans from the banks in years previous to eight or ten years ago. Every farmer who wanted money could get it. He could not get it now. On 100 acres of land he would not get a solitary copper that he could jingle on a tombstone. There is not a Deputy on this side of the House or on the other side of the House, or on the Independent or Labour Benches who does not know that. Land is no security, but if credit has been killed the desire of holders of middle-sized farms to improve them has not been killed. The fear of resumption is hanging over the head of every decent farmer.

One would have thought that, if there was any sincere desire to amend legislation in the direction of improving the lot of the ordinary farmer, it would have been to amend the 1933 Act and the 1936 Act on the lines of allaying the fears that the farmers had. However, no attempt has been made by the Minister in this Bill, or in any other Bill, to preserve the right of ownership of land. There is no chance of free sale and of a fair price for his land if it is resumed. And, mark you, if the latter was given, much of the objection to the previous Bill would have gone by. Even if there was no resumption, even if free sale remained, if there was a free, fair market value such as we were guaranteed by word of mouth by the Minister who passed the 1933 Act through this House, then practically all the fears that are in the farmers' hearts would be abolished. But no attempt has been made to do that, and every Deputy knows that the Land Commission never gives the market value.

Deputy MacEoin said that there were three values on land. There is the Revenue Commissioners' value, the market value and the Land Commission's valuation, which is the lowest of all. I would suggest to the Land Commission that if they cannot agree with an owner in assessing a fair valuation, they should borrow the valuation methods of the Revenue Commissioners and follow them, and there would be very few objections amongst the farmers to that valuation. But the Government will not do that. It has been candidly admitted by backers of the Government Party that if they are going to give land at a fair rate to people to whom they propose to allot it, it will be impossible to give a fair price to the present holder. That has been admitted. Is not that a dangerous admission—an admission of injustice—for any person to have to make in this State where the main industry is farming, that it is impossible to give a fair value for land if a fair rent is to be put on the subsequent allottees? I have said before that land division might come to be one of the best social services if it is properly administered; and I say that that cannot be accomplished without spending money. There is money being spent now on social services and similarly you cannot put people on the land without spending money. It is worth it and the money ought to be spent, but it must not be spent on the principle that it is going to be spent on new congested areas because they are congested, as most of the small plots that are being allotted at present are not sufficient to make a farmer.

One must pay the piper: one must pay the owner an honest, decent market price, and, if you do that, much of the objections—all of the objections that I have—to land division will disappear. However, there is no attempt made to meet any of the objections, and we are asked to smilingly pass this Bill of 58 sections, most of which is directed to giving the Land Commission or the Minister, and everybody else concerned, greater powers to interfere with the present proprietors of land in this country. I, for one, shall not give my vote in favour of this Bill without very serious consideration.

I am rather surprised at the Bill, first of all, at the land policy, and at the course this debate has taken. There was a time when I felt very strongly that to make any progress when we became a nation, we should take full responsibilities of nationhood. When I saw certain things happening I cooled off in that opinion. I never felt that opinion more strongly than I felt it this evening. I think it has been disastrous to this country that when we set up a Parliament here we did not set up an Irish banking system. If we had, all the cod that has been talked this evening could not have been attempted. I wonder has anybody ever thought of what is to back the pound note that we have in our pockets? Is it the division of land, is it the taking of land off one section and giving it to another at a big expense to the State?

It has been stated here this evening that certain large farmers are not able to make a success of large farms, and that they have been allowed to run into arrears for rates and annuities. Why is that? What has the Land Commission been doing? Why did it not sell them out? What has the county council been doing that it did not sell them out for the rates?

Did the Deputy sell them out in County Dublin?

We have decrees against them, and we have registered mortgages against them, and when that land is cashed, these are first claims against it. When the land referred to here is cashed, only two years' rates can be recovered. There is nothing in this Bill to enable more to be recovered. What has the Government Party done? By its policy in the last seven or eight years it has robbed agriculture, and now it wants to come in to carry out the further looting of the farmers. The acid test is when you go into the open market to get money. That was done a few weeks ago with the backing of the Government, and the money was not got. Will Deputies think for a moment of the serious position confronting this country?

It has been stated here, and nobody has contradicted it—and nobody can contradict it—that on agriculture alone there is not a joint stock bank in the country that will lend £100. I challenge contradiction of that. Not a member of the House will contradict it. How can it be otherwise? There is not a farmer holding land in this country who has a cast-iron title to it. The Land Commission can take land from any man, and take it according to law. That policy has been extended by the present Government, but my recollection of the 1923 Land Act is that the principle of acquiring land already the subject of loans by the Land Commission was never violated until the 1923 Land Act came along, and was, in fact, violated by that Act. I think that is true, but no matter by whom it was violated, in order to have stability in this country, or in any country, you must have security of tenure. We have not got it, and we have no financial stability in this country. A loan with the backing of the Government here a few days ago was not half subscribed. Will the Government sit up and take notice of that?

It has been stated from different benches here that certain objections would be withdrawn if a limit were set. I do not agree with that. I do not agree with setting a limit. The ordinary revenue is putting a sufficient brake on land holdings in this country. There is a point beyond which it would not pay any man to own further land. It is put on by income-tax and surtax. A point is reached when it will not pay a land owner to own any more land, even if he got it for nothing. When a man is paying 10/- or 12/- to the Revenue every year, when he has to look at his labours and say to himself, "I have to work seven or eight months for the Government," he is going to slow down. If he does not, there is something wrong with his upper storey. There is no need to put on a brake, and with regard to how the land should be worked, that is the responsibility, and it should be the mark of the efficiency of the Government in devising an agricultural policy that will make it profitable for a man to work his farm in the way which is most valuable to the community, and to do, by inducement, what the community requires and what, in the opinion of the Government, is best for the community. There is no need for compulsion.

Is it not extraordinary that land is acquired and given to people who know nothing about the working of it? Take an industrial worker in the city of Dublin who wants a house. Is there anybody who will provide him with a house? He will get a house, and he will get a loan to purchase that house provided he has a percentage of the money himself. The acid test in regard to settling people on the land and to settling the right type of people on the land is: acquire your land, and where the allotment costs £400, let the man who will put down 20 per cent. of that sum get his allotment. Then you can put the people on the land without any cost to the country. Why is that not done? Are there not many workers, many men, labouring men whom I know myself, to-day in possession of farms which by their own savings and industry they bought in the open market? There is no danger of those men being broken, but I should like the Minister to take a census of the land distributed at a big loss to the State in the last six or seven years. How much of it is at present let on the 11 months' system? Is that farming? Is that what you want? The greatest danger to this country is its present credit position. There is not an economic activity which is not at gasping point at the moment. The building trade is idle. Deputy Allen laughs at that, as if it were a joke.

It is no joke for the Deputy.

Is it any disgrace to have built houses?

Not a bit.

Is it any disgrace to be a farmer?

Well, what is the Deputy laughing at? Is he exposing his own ignorance? If he is, let him laugh away, and the country will know how ignorant he is.

Let the Deputy speak about himself.

I am speaking of the thousands of workers whom I represent in this House and who are on the dole to-day, those workers whom the Deputy's Party fooled at the last election by telling them that they had now a week's holiday which they never had before. I can tell Deputy Allen and the Government that they now have had a six months' holiday which they never had before, but they are not paid for that holiday. Let Deputy Allen laugh at that, and I will send to the Deputy the next Wexford man who comes to me looking for a job. He will not laugh at that, I bet you.

It has been mentioned here that economic holdings should be defined. How can one define an economic holding? How would one define an economic holding during the economic war? The whole country was uneconomic then. An economic holding has been aptly described by a very able man writing on this question of land settlement and land purchase as depending entirely on land situated on the track of trade. One could imagine 100 acres of land that would not be an economic holding, and one could imagine a comparatively small farm that would be an economic holding. An economic holding largely depends upon the efficiency of the Government in office, and upon the manner in which that Government handles the economic situation.

A tribute has been paid here to the work of the Congested Districts Board. That board set about adding to the size of holdings so as to make them economic. I know several holdings of five, six, and eight acres of land made by the present Government. I would like to put it to the Minister is he not creating during his term of office a congests' problem for his successor? If there is going to be a division of land let it be a division of land to give a man a fair chance of a living on the land, not something in which he will have a leg on the farm and a leg on something else. I cannot see how anybody can reasonably deny that fixity of tenure has gone by the board. Deputy Dillon referred to the three F's. The three F's. are a tribute to the old Land League Party for having perceived the essentials on which national stability can alone be raised.

Land is the most important asset we have. The agricultural industry is the industry of this country and every industry in order to be able to command respect and to command credit must be stabilised. Is the agricultural industry, that has lost what the three "F's" stood for, in a stable condition? Of course, it is not. Go to the banks. How much money will they advance on the agricultural industry? Instability in the agricultural industry caused by the abolition of those three "F's" has destroyed the credit of the agricultural industry. This being an agricultural country, that loss of credit is reflected in the loans that we have unsuccessfully tried to float. The position is very serious and it all comes back to the land.

Again, I would emphasise that settlers on the land cannot be selected by political clubs of any brand. The Minister for Local Government and Public Health in financing house purchase did not say that the houses would be built at the expense of the Government and handed out promiscuously to the nominees of any political organisation. He laid it down by statute, and he was most conservative in his views, that loans would be granted if the applicants for the loans put down a certain percentage of the purchase price. There is no other way that will be of permanent use or benefit to anybody except giving the land to applicants who can put down at least 20 per cent. of the value of the holding, the remaining 80 per cent to be paid by way of an annuity. It is only then that the Government can go on with its land division. Now, I am discussing distribution. Distribute the land to those who will put down 20 per cent. of what the land and the buildings will have cost the Land Commission to acquire, improve, and so on. The man who will put down 20 per cent. of his holding will not do it unless he knows something about agriculture. Such a man is going to set his teeth into his job, take off his coat and work that land. As against that you get the political adventurer who will get a bit of land and will not work it, but use it on the eleven months' system, as many of them are doing at present. It is a cod to give land to people who do not work it. These people are only waiting for an opportunity to cash in on it. That should be stopped. Another thing also that should be stopped are those fellows who were brought up from the country and given 30/- a week. These fellows sleep their brains out at the public expenses, until 1 o'clock in the day. The subsidies to these people should be stopped.

A Bill to amplify previous Bills was, I suppose, necessary. But in a Land Bill I suppose it is justifiable to have a discussion on land policy generally, and on the details of the Bill generally. But some of these points have more to do with the Committee Stage than with the Second Reading Stage. My general remarks are on the general land policy. I am as convinced, as a man can be convinced of anything, that one man who will pay 20 per cent. to acquire a holding is a better acquisition to the State than 100 men who will get holdings for nothing. I am quite sure the Minister is anxious to do some permanent good when he is acquiring land and parcelling it out. My advice to him is to seek powers through this House so that the division of land will be carried through by him without loss to the Exchequer.

I wonder does the Minister consider how far he can go as to the credit position and as to the backing of our paper money. Has the Minister thought of the one essential to nationhood that we are afraid to take up in this country— namely, the control of our credit and banking? This Government is absolutely afraid of doing that, though they will mouth and shout about republicanism. This is one of the essentials of republicanism, and yet they funk it. If they took it up, their economic war would not last a month, and their land policy would not last two months, because they would be up against maintaining the credit of the paper £. We are up against it now. It is time for us to sit up and take notice so as to see that the national expenditure will be within the national income. We are up against the time when the national income, both seen and unseen, will be less than our expenditure, and then the danger signal will be visible to everybody. I do not think I have any more to say on the measure at this stage, but there will be quite a lot to be said on it in the Committee Stages.

This Bill, as we gather from the Minister, and from Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney, is simply a Bill to amend the existing law. It has introduced no new principle. But, listening to the Opposition for the last three hours, and listening to Deputy Belton, one would imagine it was quite a revolutionary Bill altogether, and that none of the principles of the Bill had ever been heard of in this House up to now, whereas we know, as Deputy Belton has admitted, that the same principle has been in operation since the 1923 Land Act was introduced here by the late Minister for Agriculture. That same principle that Opposition Deputies now object to has been in operation since 1923. Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney has admitted that there was no principle involved whatever in the Bill that had not been already accepted by this House and by the country in the last two general elections. That issue was challenged by the Opposition at two general elections—the issue whether farmers had been deprived of the right of free sale and fixity of tenure—and the people pronounced judgment upon it. There is a lot of talk about the farmer's credit. It is said that his lack of credit is due to the Land Act of 1923, or the Land Act of 1933. Does any member of the Opposition believe that? For purely political propagandist purposes they state that day by day, knowing that there is not a word of truth in it. In the county I come from, every farm divided by the Land Commission during the last five years was offered to the commission and not compulsorily acquired. These were farmers which the owners wanted to dispose of for one reason or another, and they were not sold by auction, but were offered to the Land Commission because the Land Commission gave better prices than could be got in the open market. I know that very well, and other Deputies know it also. There is no proof that the provisions of the Land Act of 1923 or 1933 affect the farmer's credit one iota.

What does?

Will Deputy Belton stand up and tell the House that if that provision is taken out of the 1923 Land Act the farmers will get sufficient credit from the banks right away?

Because you know it is not so.

I shall tell you on Committee Stage.

We have had this rampage all over the country and people have been told that the farmers have no credit because they have no fixity of tenure, that the Government can take up their land on half an hour's notice. Does anybody believe that the land is going to be taken from the farmers?

What about the Banking Commission?

There are almost 400,000 farmers in the country. Does Deputy Belton seriously suggest that the Land Commission is going to acquire 400,000 holdings or even 100,000 or even 5,000? Is it not well known that they are not? Deputies just make that suggestion for political purposes. Although they say they are interested in the farmer's credit, they are doing more injury to the farmer's credit by that sort of talk than anything else is doing. Deputies know quite well that the question of agricultural land as security for loans goes back much farther than the 1923 Act or the 1933 Act.

Where does it go?

It goes back to long before your time or my time. Everybody knows, whether he cares to admit it or not, that this question of land as security for loans has its roots in the land agitation of about 100 years ago. Fortunately or unfortunately, land has never really been a negotiable security in this country. Why that is so we cannot tell. The banks lent money freely at the end of the last war—to their own grief and the grief of the people who got the money. Is not that true? There is no use in going on and talking about the Land Acts affecting the farmer's credit. That is more calculated to injure the farmer's credit than anything else. Deputy Belton has admitted that, even if that provision were taken out of the Land Act, the farmers would not get a shilling more from the banks than they have been getting for the last ten years.

It is a contributing factor.

You admitted it was not a factor and that it was not going to solve the question of farmers' credit. Every honest Deputy must admit that. Deputies know quite well that the Land Commission are not going to acquire the land of the farmers and that the farmers have security of tenure. When it suits them, Deputies make these statements for political purposes. They do not care a straw. It does not affect them very much. This Government is here in a sound position and is going to remain here for the full term of office. In two general elections, you got a full opportunity to persuade the farmers that they had no fixity of tenure and they repudiated you. At by-elections, the question was also raised. I remember fighting a by-election at which my friend Deputy Keating tried to persuade the farmers that they had not security of tenure. I am sure Deputy Keating will admit that.

I never tried to persuade them about anything which was not right.

I agree that the Deputy tried to persuade them of what he thought was right.

Is it not the policy of the Government to have the farmers bankrupt? I tried to persuade them of what was true.

Of what you thought to be true.

Of the truth.

And you failed.

I got as much support as you got, and will again.

I am prepared to prove that when a number of farms were divided in County Wexford, in which there are no large farms, the people who wanted to dispose of their holdings went, in the first instance, to the Land Commission, because they could get better prices than they would get in the open market.

Why did they want to dispose of them?

They had no alternative but to go to the Land Commission.

They had plenty of alternatives. If Deputy Keating wanted to tell a story, he could do so, showing that what I say is true.

I could tell many a story.

I wish Deputies on the other side would deal seriously with a serious matter. Many amendments have been made to legislation for the improvement of the land code. My only objection to this Bill is that the Minister did not see fit to embody all these amendments to legislation since the Act of 1923 in one Bill, so that people would understand clearly what the law was. The putting of this Bill into operation will cost the country a great deal of money, and will be damaging to the credit of the country because of the costs lawyers will get out of the measure for interpretation. The land law is so mixed that the lawyers will get more out of it than the class to which Deputies have been objecting. Deputy Belton will admit that the lawyers will get more out of the interpretation of the Bill——

I agree that all legislation provides a harvest for the lawyers.

That is the one objection I have to the Bill. One lawyer gave an estimate of the amount which the legal profession had got out of the Land Acts since the first Land Act was passed. He estimated that they got £6,000,000 for interpreting the Land Acts and assisting in getting land bought out. I believe that is an exorbitant estimate.

That is why Fianna Fáil has such legal support.

The Deputy got very vexed when I smiled at him when talking about loans for building of houses. He threatened that he would employ no Wexfordman. I was not annoyed about that. The Deputy gave a fine lot of employment since this Government came in, but he did not give much before that. I wish him luck of it.

I have not much for which to thank Fianna Fáil.

I wanted to ask the Minister a question regarding tithes. Tithes have been a burning question in one area in my county, and they are also being agitated in many other areas. I do not see the necessity for the word "tithes" now at all. Like other matters in land law, they have their roots in the far-distant past when they were not very popular. If it is necessary to collect these moneys, why not consolidate them with the annuities and collect them in that way? It is now proposed to halve the tithes which were not halved before. I think all tithes should be consolidated with the annuities, and be collectable in that way. If that were done, we should have finished with the word "tithes" for ever. I think that that could be quite easily done. I do not see any objection to it.

Have them redeemed.

Why collect them at all?

The Minister will tell you that they have the same right to collect them as they have to collect annuities. I do not know. I am not capable of forming a judgment on that matter, but if there is that right, they should collect them as annuities and have them consolidated with the annuities. I would ask the Minister to consider that one point. I hope we have finished and done with this question of land as a negotiable security. Land is just as much a negotiable security to-day as it was at any time for the past five, ten, twenty or thirty years. I live amongst farmers, and mingle as much with them as any Deputy on the opposite side, and I have never yet heard a single farmer complain that he could not get credit from the banks because of the operation of the land law. I say that honestly, and I am as much in touch with farmers, some of whom support Deputies on the opposite side, as they are. Not a single farmer has ever complained to me that because of the land law in operation he has been refused credit in the bank. I have yet to meet a farmer to tell me that his credit has failed in the bank or that he failed to get credit in the bank because of the land laws that are in operation.

But has he failed to get credit?

If he has failed to get credit, it is not because of the operation of any of the Land Acts.

Why has he failed to get credit?

I am not discussing that question.

The banks will not tell you.

I have discussed that matter with bank officials, and I asked them whether the operation of the existing land law was preventing farmers from getting credit, and their answers was definitely "No." That was told to me by a responsible banking official in this country not so very long ago. I hope this ramp that has been going on will end, and end forever more. If there is merit in this Bill let it be supported, but if there is opposition to it let that opposition be genuine. Deputies opposite should not try to make political capital out of it by saying that the land law of the country is affecting the credit of the farmers, because it is not.

I wish Deputy Allen knew of some of the cases of which I am personally aware in which land was taken over during the past four or five years. I might mention one case, the case of a lady whose sister is a nun. She had 200 acres and on that she borrowed £1,000 to pay over to the convent. The Land Commission eventually took over the farm and when everything was paid, when the £1,000 had been repaid to the bank, the lady had nothing to get for the farm. I know of another farm of 90 Irish acres and all the owner got was bonds for £90. If Deputy Allen states that the land was not value for the money which these people paid for it long ago, why is it that the banks advanced so much on the land? Why did the bank advance £1,000 to the lady whose case I have mentioned? Why is it that the bonds are paid over to the bank and that the owners get nothing? Because the banks knew that the land was worth the money when they advanced these loans. The high-falutin' talk of the Deputy does not mean anything. I wish Deputy Allen would go down to Wexford and publish in the local papers his statement that the people would sooner sell their lands to the Land Commission than put them up for sale in the open market.

And that is quite true.

Publish that in the local papers and you will not get so much support at the next election.

I was speaking of people who want to sell their land.

Many of these people because they were driven into bankruptcy by the economic war had to sell. The Deputy knows nothing about agriculture if these are his views. He is not capable of being a member of the Agriculture Commission. He started his speech by saying he thought there would be no opposition to the Bill and said that it had been welcomed by the lawyers. The lawyers welcome it because they know that many more farms will be acquired and that they are going to get, as a result, a big lot of fees. That is why they welcome it.

Is that the kind of leadership you have? No wonder you are over there.

Deputy Lynch and Deputy MacEoin mentioned the position of people under fee farm grants, and stated that small farmers who would be buying out under the Act would be victimised. I want to bring before the Minister the case of a few large holders in the country who are placed in similar circumstances. I know the case of one farm for which £6,000 was given in 1883. A few years ago the Land Commission started negotiations to take over that farm. It has not been taken over yet, but the price offered is only £3,000. There is a rent on that farm to the Land Commission, and there is also the fee farm rent, and the niece of the original owner, or the person who owns the farm at present will only get about £50 for this farm, which cost £6,000 in 1883. The case of Mrs. Connolly which was mentioned was somewhat similar. There are numerous other farms which the Land Commission proposes to take over, and the owners will get practically nothing after the landlord of the fee farm grant is paid and the Land Commission annuity has been redeemed. I would ask the Minister to see that such land will be taken over on terms which will ensure that the owner of the land will at least get some fair recompense.

I think something also should be done to facilitate the free sale of land. At present if a farm of 40 or 50 acres which is non-residential is put up for sale, no one will buy it, because immediately an agitation is started to have it taken over by the Land Commission. The Land Commission does not take it over, with the result that the farm lies unsold on the owner's hands. Deputy MacEoin mentioned a case where the secretary of a Fianna Fáil club had bought such a farm. I know of another case where a lady put 50 acres up for sale. An agitation immediately sprang up, and there was a demand sent into the auction that the land was required for division. One of the men responsible for the agitation bought it a week afterwards at a knock-down price. I think there should be some system under which, if an agitation of that kind were started, the Land Commission would announce there and then whether it was their intention to take over the farm, or else they should send down a representative to the auction to bid for the land at the market value.

They should send down Mr. O'Neil. He must be out of a job now.

It does not matter who would be sent down. There may be many people who wish to dispose of their land, who have debts to clear off and who want the money to clear off these debts. The system which I suggest would be much fairer than the present method under which the Land Commission refuses to say for a considerable time whether they will take over the holding. Again, I would suggest that when the Land Commission take over land, they should fix a fair price there and then and not compel so many people to come to the court to have a fair price fixed. Day after day we see instances in which a farm is valued, say, at £1,000, and when the owners come to the court that value is increased to £1,500 or £2,000. Why does not the valuer who is first sent down put a fair value on the land? If he did so, it would lead to better security for land owners and to better prices. Generally, there is not much objection to the division of land. The objection merely is that owners are not getting a fair price. A number of people whom I know have been badly victimised in this respect, during the last four or five years. Perhaps they were left farms by their parents on which there had been mortgages. As a result of the poor price which they were paid, they are now in the poorhouse.

The Minister mentioned some time ago that he did not agree with the policy of giving land to small farmers' sons.

You have, for instance, the case of an estate being divided in a district. In that district you have several small farmers, men with twenty, thirty, or forty acres. They are not eligible to get any portion of that estate, although they may have a family of three or four sons. They may have been in the district for generations, and yet the sons of those men cannot get any of that estate. Indeed, they have to go to England or America. I do not think that is right. In such circumstances it is not fair to be bringing strangers into a district and giving them land that should properly be distributed amongst the sons of men who have been there all their lives. Ultimately their fathers have to try to get a place for them in some other district. They give the boys £100 or £200. Surely, they would be the right type of people to give land to when an estate is being divided. They would have the capital to make a fair start.

In my county, also, you have in the case of land that has been divided within the last 10 or 12 years, men with small bits of land here and there. They may have got five acres in one part of the district and a similar amount in another part. What I think the Land Commission should do in these cases is to give those men a compact holding when land in a district is available for division. Concentrate on them and give them an economic holding instead of bringing strangers into the district. You have a lot of that kind of thing in my county. The people who have been there should be provided with suitable holdings and the Land Commission should concentrate their activities in that direction instead of bringing migrants from other counties.

In conclusion I hope the Minister will take into account what I said about the fee farm grants. I would also appeal to him to see that in future a fair price is paid for any land that is taken over. I imagine that when this Bill goes through more land will be acquired and divided. I hope that will not be done on the valuations that were made two or three years ago when, one may put it, "land was down to nothing." There should be a revaluation of land that was valued in 1935 or 1936. I admit that a good many farms were not in a very prosperous looking conditions at that time. The people who owned them had no heart to do anything. They did not appear to be of much value. In those circumstances I hope the Minister will send down a valuer to put a fair value on land before it comes under the operation of this measure.

I desire to take the opportunity of congratulating the Minister on introducing this Land Bill which has been eagerly awaited by the people of the country ever since the decision was given in the Potterton case in 1931. The measure will have the effect of clearing up any injustices that were done. People who are eligible to get holdings when the distribution of land takes place are eagerly awaiting the passing of this Bill. It will enable them to get some additional land, and thereby change the character of their present uneconomic holdings. Others will be enabled to obtain accommodation plots and will thereby be put in a position to earn a decent livelihood for themselves and their families.

Deputy Dillon this evening applied the terms of "grabbers" and "emergency men" to those who were eagerly awaiting the passing of this Bill and the division of land. He said that the Fianna Fáil clubs were backing up those grabbers and those emergency men, and that the members of the Fianna Fáil Party were also assisting. He said, further, that it was his ambition to strangle such grabbers and such emergency men. Well, if those people are grabbers and emergency men, then I am glad to be able to take my stand to-day in supporting this Bill which will enable them to continue as grabbers. Deputy Dillon, however, did not tell us who the real grabbers were. He did not tell us about those who were evicting our people from the land, and who, before Fianna Fáil came into power, were granted large ranches of land by the Cumann na nGaedheal Government so that they might continue the old system of ranching. Deputy Dillon, in an effort to destroy the effects of this Bill, or in an effort to win over support from the Government, thinks fit to-day to brand those people as grabbers: the people who were evicted from their holdings, who were driven back to the bogs and to the uneconomic patches to eke out a livelihood there, who were driven up the sides of the mountains, and who for years were forced to live in poverty on their uneconomic holdings. Those people have now the hope that when this Bill is passed and comes to be operated, they will at last be able to secure a decent living for themselves. When we think of all those people, of what they endured in the past, of the misery and the degradation that they suffered for years, is it any wonder that we should welcome this Bill on their behalf, that we should welcome it in the knowledge that it will bring a great measure of comfort to themselves and to their families?

In the county that I represent we have numbers of uneconomic holders, landless men, and others who have been eagerly awaiting the introduction of this Bill. They have reason to, because in 1935, when the Land Commission had acquired certain holdings and were proceeding to resume other holdings, and had arrived at the stage that the sale of the lands was almost complete, they found that the decision in the Potterton case prevented them from going further with their work. The people who at that time thought they were within a few weeks of securing a holding have since been awaiting the introduction of this Bill to put matters right. Therefore we have every reason to compliment the Minister on its introduction.

We have heard a great deal about the three "F.s". We have been told that this Bill will destroy fixity of tenure, free sale and fair rent. We are told that it will destroy the security of the farmer. But that has been the argument which has been used against every Land Act brought in here by Fianna Fáil. It has been used against the 1933 Act and the 1936 Act. Speakers from the Fianna Fáil Benches who have gone before me this evening have made it quite clear that, as far as the Land Acts passed by Fianna Fáil are concerned, the security of the farmer has not been destroyed. We are told that the security of the man with 40 or 50 acres has been destroyed. We are told that when this Bill becomes an Act the farmers with 40 or 50 acres will have no security in his holding. It is quite obvious that there is no truth in that suggestion. The Land Commission have not at any stage entered into proceedings for the resumption of a holding which the farmer was working according to the best methods of husbandry. There is no desire on the part of the Minister or on the part of the Land Commission to enter such Lands. We know it is their desire that such holdings should remain, and that they should be worked as the welfare of the nation demands. If farms of 100 acres are so worked, and give the necessary employment, we are told by the Minister that they will not be interfered with except in very congested areas, when land of equal value and with the same facilities will be given to the owner.

Deputy Dillon suggested that a maximum acreage should be guaranteed to the farmers, and that the Minister, when he is replying to this debate, should state the maximum number of acres he would be satisfied to leave to a farmer. I feel that the maximum number of acres to be guaranteed would be the maximum number of acres that a farmer could conveniently work for the benefit of the people, for the benefit of the neighbourhood, and for the purpose of getting a decent livelihood for himself and his family. Deputy Belton does not agree with Deputy Dillon. He says that there should be no maximum, that there should be no minimum, that there should be no guarantee asked for.

It is very hard for a Deputy on this side of the House to know exactly what the Opposition really mean. Judging from the few speeches to which we have listened this evening, there is a difference of viewpoint amongst the Opposition, but it appears that those who have already spoken are quite agreed that this Bill—although there are 58 sections in it—does not lend itself to a Second Reading speech; that it is more a Bill for discussion in Committee. I have listened to debates on very many Bills in this House, and it has always been an indication of opposition to a Bill when the Opposition Party attacked the Bill on Second Reading. This Bill has received the blessing of the first Leader of the Opposition who has spoken this evening. Other Deputies of minor importance in the Opposition will find it very hard to work up an agitation against it, seeing that the Leader has given it his blessing. Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney was the first speaker, and he said that at this stage it was not possible to have an ordinary Second Reading speech on the Bill; that he felt that minor improvements or minor matters of that kind could be dealt with in Committee. That in itself, I think, is a justification for the Minister in the introduction of the Bill.

In connection with this matter of free sale, we are told that if this Bill is passed the farmer will not be able to sell his land; that he will not be able to go into the market to sell his land; that he will not get a fair prices for it. It has been suggested that the farmers should be allowed to go to the open market, and that the Minister should bid for land in the open market. Deputy Fionan Lynch was of opinion that the Minister or the Land Commission should become an ordinary purchaser in the open market. He gave us particulars of one case, which he himself knew, where the Land Commission stepped in when the sale had almost been completed. He suggested that that was not fair, but told us that the matter was rectified afterwards. Why should the Land Commission complete in the open market? If that were to be the case, we would have the position that farmers who found it necessary to sell their lands would rush into the market, knowing that the Minister or the agent of the Land Commission would be there to meet them. All that would be necessary at that stage would be for the owner of the land to have a few men there to give bluff bids in order to run the price up.

If the agent of the Land Commission purchased the land, it would be at a fabulous price, and the result would be that the annuity which would be placed upon the incoming tenant would be unbearable. We would have the position that every farm purchased by the Land Commission would be secured at a fabulous figure. To get over that difficulty we had Deputies of the Opposition this evening—I presume they could see that difficulty, although they did not disclose it—telling us that the Government should subsidise the farmer to some extent; that the Government should stand in with some of the purchase money. If the Minister introduced legislation imposing extra taxation for the purpose of getting that extra money, we would find the very men who spoke in that strain this evening opposing any such legislation.

It would be foolhardy to suggest that the Land Commission could secure land at reasonable rates in the open market. In cases in which the Land Commission have purchased land, there may be a few people who have suffered where fee farm grants were in existence. Others who have suffered in that way have more security on the holding, left to them. But, generally speaking, the Land Commission have given a fair price. Oftentimes the price has been fixed as the result of an appeal. One thing I do hold is that the Land Commission have given a price that will enable the incoming tenant to have his holding at a reasonable annuity. In effect, Opposition Deputies plead that there should be higher annuities charged to such people. In fact, Deputy Belton went so far as to suggest that 20 per cent. of the cost of the holding should be paid by the incoming tenant. That would have the effect of crippling the incoming tenant.

It appears to me from the trend of speeches delivered by some of the Opposition Deputies, that that is the object they have in view—that 20 per cent. of the cost of the holding should be put upon the incoming tenant. Then says Deputy Belton, "Let him take off his coat and get to work." I suggest that there would be very little use in his taking off his coat so far as making a livelihood is concerned if he had to pay 20 per cent. of the purchase price of the holding. All his capital would be absorbed. I know from people who have received holdings from the Land Commission, and if they were compelled to pay 20 per cent. of the purchase price they would have nothing left for stocking the land or securing implements which would enable them to go in for tillage farming or mixed farming, or whatever other system they propose to adopt. The position would be that when they paid the 20 per cent. they would have nothing left to work the farm, and we would find these people handing over their holdings to the Land Commission or, under Section 19 of this Bill, the Land Commission would take over the holdings from them. That is not a thing which we want to see happening.

We have been told that certain people who have secured holdings from the Land Commission since Fianna Fáil came into power have not been working these holdings. We know that the percentage of such people is small, and is becoming smaller day by day. But there are people who were allotted land before Fianna Fáil came into power who are not working the land either. You will always have a small percentage of people who, for some time at least, would not be able to work the land properly. But I suggest that if you insist on their paying 20 per cent. of the purchase price, the most deserving cases will be ruled out, and the people who will secure land will not be able to work it.

It has also been suggested that people who have got land within the last few years are only awaiting an opportunity to cash in upon such land. As far as my experience goes, that is not the case. I do not know of one man in my constituency who applied for land in the hope that he could cash in upon it by selling it at the earliest possible date. The Minister, in his wisdom, has ensured that such people will not cash in. We must remember that holdings will not be vested in the persons securing them for a certain length of time. That is an assurance that such holdings will be worked in the best interest of the country, because otherwise they will be given to other people who will work them. If it is pleaded that there is a want of security of tenure in such cases, I would admit it quite freely. I do not think that anyone on these benches has at any time defended the principle that a man should get land and then allow it to become derelict. We may differ upon the length of time that may be allowed to an allottee to make good upon his new holding, but we know that certain improvements have to be made, that implements have to be secured, and that certain expenditure, a possibly unforeseen expenditure, has to be undertaken. We may, as I say, differ upon the length of time that should be allowed to such a person, but there is one thing we do not differ upon and that is, that after a stated period, possibly a considerable period, these people should be expected to work their holdings in the best interests of the country.

We are told that the security of farmers in the banks had been weakened as a result of the operations of the Land Acts, and especially those passed by the Fianna Fáil Government. The Opposition, when speaking in that strain, should remember that there are what are known as "frozen loans," and that for a period of years these loans have been a source of worry to Deputies and, I presume, to the Minister. The security of the farmers is as good as ever it was, but the position is that the banks will not issue money because of the fact that, day after day, they are making representations to the farmers to reduce amounts due on old loans. The far mers are unable to do so, and, unfortunately, many of them—perhaps more than the ordinary people realise—owe very considerable sums of money to banks.

From 1919 until 1921 bankers went to farmers and asked them to take out loans to improve their land, and to take advantage of the boom period to make fortunes. I know farmers who when they went into the banks to get loans of £100 were told that that amount would be very little use, and that they should take £400 or £500 or £1,000. Many people purchased farms at that time and have been unable to pay for them since.

Can the Deputy tell the House where these bank managers were?

Mr. Kelly

Perhaps the poor men have gone to glory.

I am afraid they left no successors.

Mr. Kelly

I am to understand it is not in good taste to mention names in this House.

Can the Deputy suggest where somebody like them can be found, when they were running after the people?

Mr. Kelly

I think the Deputy knows as well as any other Deputy that large numbers of farmers owe considerable sums of money at present to the banks, and that these debts were incurred in the years I mentioned. Owing to the deflation of the £ people have been unable to pay interest on the money, much less to reduce the principal, and as a result bankers in many cases are prepared to accept any reasonable offer made to them. It is because of that condition of affairs, and because bankers know that it will take farmers some time to get on their feet financially, that they will not advance money on loan now. That has been my experience. As far as The Land Acts are concerned they have not destroyed the security of farmers. It has been customary in Opposition speeches to suggest that members of Fianna Fáil clubs tell the Land Commission what land should be acquired and what land should not be acquired. The Land Commission do not need to be told what land should or should not be divided. There is a hard-working inspectorate attached to the Department, the members of which go around the country and make a survey of land available for acquisition and distribution, taking into account the congestion in different areas.

If members of Fianna Fáil clubs remind the Land Commission that there is congestion in a district, or that certain lands are not being worked, I do not think any national harm is being done by such activities on the part of Fianna Fáil Deputies or clubs. We have suggested the resumption and acquisition of land where it is not being worked, especially when it is non-residential, and where the tenants or owners live away from the holdings. These lands give no employment and, in some cases, are being allowed to run to waste, the fences not being made up, the drains not cleaned, or the thistles cut for years. Such lands are suitable for acquisition and distribution and are pointed to by members of the Fianna Fáil clubs, but that does not means that it rests with these clubs to say whether they will be eventually taken over or not. That rests with the Land Commission and with the appeal tribunal. Any charges in that respect made against Fianna Fáil clubs are made merely for purposes of political propaganda.

Deputy Bennett said that where suitable employment was not being given on a holding of 500 or 600 acres the owner had no right to that land, especially if it was not being worked, or if the rates were not being paid on it. The Deputy suggested that such land should be taken. There at least, we are on common ground. When other Deputies on the same benches as Deputy Bennett spoke about the three "F's", and about fixity of tenure, possibly that was political propaganda. I do not suggest that Deputy Bennett' had that in mind, but he will find it very hard to reconcile the statements that were made about fixity of tenure and his suggestion that land should be taken where there were 500 or 600 acres which were not worked, and that it should be distributed amongst congests.

On this side we do not go much further than that, so that we are at one with the Deputy there. Perhaps we could go a little further in seeing that the acreage of land that is not being worked should be reduced, and that smaller farms that are not being worked, on which the annuities and rates had not been paid and on which no one was living, should be taken over. As far as fixity of tenure is concerned, it appears that Deputy Bennett is on the same ground as we are in that respect. I move the adjournment.

Debate adjourned until to-morrow.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, June 7th.