Skip to main content
Normal View

Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 20 Jun 1939

Vol. 76 No. 10

Public Business. - Land Bill, 1938—Committee (Resumed—amendment No. 21).

Debate resumed on the following amendment:—
In sub-section (1) (e), to delete all words after the word "Tribunal", line 13, and substitute the words "shall have power to and shall consider and decide whether the Land Commission shall resume the holding or the said part thereof, as the case may be".

I move this amendment in order that the Appeal Tribunal shall be other than a mere registering machine in this matter and shall consider this matter de novo when it comes from the Lay Commissioners. I think it is almost contemptuous treatment of the Appeal Tribunal that, by the machinery provided in this section, they are to be merely registrars of what they have been ordered to do or what has already been done.

Is the Deputy pressing the amendment?

Will the Minister not accept the amendment?

No. It was debated already on Friday last and the principle was decided already in two divisions.

What powers does the Minister want that he has not got already, or why is there need for this?

Mr. Boland

If I were to accept this amendment, it would negative the two decisions we have already taken on this matter and it would establish that an appeal would lie to the Appeal Tribunal on fact as well as on law and price. As I have said, that has been decided upon already and we are satisfied that no land has been taken or will be taken without all the facts having been gone into carefully. We decided upon this matter on the last occasion and I do not think there is any necessity to repeat what has been said already time and time again.

Why insert this provision here? Why not say that the order of the Lay Commissioners shall be absolute and final immediately? The Appeal Tribunal consists of the President of the High Court of this State and two Lay Commissioners, and the effect of this is that if a message is handed to them from the Lay Commissioners they are simply to give into it and authorise it to be done. The more one examines this thing, the more one fails to see what is its purpose and what lies behind it. Why not boldly say at once that the decision of the Lay Commissioners shall be final and conclusive in this matter? It is worth while reading this sub-section (1) (e), which is as follows:—

the said certificate shall be conclusive evidence that the holding or the said part thereof (as the case may be) is required by the Land Commission for a purpose for which the resumption thereof can lawfully be authorised, and upon receipt of the said certificate the Appeal Tribunal shall authorise the resumption of the holding or the said part thereof, as the case may be.

What is the meaning of that? Why have the futile business? Why reduce the President of the High Court of this State and two Lay Commissioners to a mere registering machine? If the Minister does not accept my amendment, I would ask him to delete the provision of sending that to the Appeal Tribunal. The President of the High Court of this State, I think, is paid £3,500 per year, and I take it that the Lay Commissioners are paid £1,000 each per annum, and are they to be mere bell-ringers for the Lay Commissioners? Surely, on the ground of economy alone, if on no higher ground, this thing should be cut out, and surely it is eminently disrespectful to the President of the High Court of this State that he should be put to the humiliation that is provided for here. Do not mind what has been done already or do not mind what has not been done already, but why is this thing being done? Why is this machinery being provided? Looking at it at first, one would think that something is being done and that the Appeal Tribunal is being given some authority or power, whereas they simply authorise that what has already been done shall be done, and that is the end of it. They cannot say yea or nay to it.

Surely, if there is any sense or reason in referring a thing at all to a body such as the Appeal Tribunal in this case, if we are not going to reduce legislation to a farce, this amendment ought to be accepted or else the whole thing ought to be deleted. There is no reason in referring the matter to the Appeal Tribunal or to any other body if they have no function. This amendment of Deputy McMenamin's gives the Appeal Tribunal at least something to decide one way or another if a matter is referred to them. If they have nothing to decide, or if they have no powers to decide, why refer it to them? It is reasonable to accept the amendment. If it is not accepted it is quite unreasonable to ask us to accept the sub-section.

We take exception to this sub-section on a matter of justice —and it is a very important principle.

It is a matter of economy.

And of justice as well. It is a complete denial of justice to the citizen. The Constitution sets out in great detail the rights, privileges and liberties of the citizens in this country and the preservation of those rights, but in this section it is proposed to deny the citizen his right under the Constitution. I think it is contrary to the Constitution when you set up a sort of sham tribunal before which the citizen is supposed to appeal or can appeal, and, at the same time, rule that a certificate from the Lay Commissioners must be accepted and cannot be examined further by that tribunal. That is an extraordinary state of affairs. The excuse is that it will expedite matters and the question of expediting matters for the Land Commission is put before the most important matter of all in any country, that is, the matter of justice and fair play for the citizen. No matter how long it may take to do justice, it ought to be the intention of the Land Commission, the Minister and the State to see that justice is done to every citizen and that he is given an opportunity to defend himself when he comes before this tribunal. How can that be done if certain facts that are certified before the case comes before the Appeal Tribunal must be accepted as such? If the Minister is not prepared to withdraw this we will have to divide the House on it.

I must say that I thought the last day we were here the Minister expressed himself as being rather impressed by what Deputy Cosgrave had put up to him in connection with this matter and that he felt the question of tying the hands of the Appeal Tribunal should be reconsidered. Undoubtedly sub-section (e) does tie their hands. I thought the Minister said that he would possibly look into that matter to see whether or not freedom of action should be given to the Appeal Tribunal, for instance, to deal with the certificate. As the thing stands, the Minister realises that the hands of the Appeal Tribunal, including the hands of the President of the High Court, are completely tied once they are presented with a certificate from the Lay Commissioners, once they certify that the resumption thereof has been lawfully authorised. Surely in the provisions of the former sub-sections, the Minister has gone far enough in that matter. He has got it through the House that it shall not be obligatory on the Land Commission to state, for instance, the power under which, or the ground on which, they propose to make their application for resumption.

Mr. Boland

If I may intervene on that particular point, I have agreed to reconsider that and another amendment, No. 19, I think it is. I just want to correct the Deputy. I think he is mixing up the amendments. I did agree to reconsider two points.

Probably that difficulty was created by the fact that the debate ranged over all the amendments and it was not always clear what exact point was being discussed.

Mr. Boland

That is true.

At one period not only was No. 19 being discussed, but Nos. 20 and 21 as well. Even though those other matters are to be reconsidered, I can see no justification for withholding power from the Appeal Tribunal to go into the merits of the resumption and, for instance, to discuss whether or not the certificate has been rightfully given in a particular case. I think that this is a point, rather more than the other points, if possible, that the Minister ought to reconsider between this and the Report Stage. It does seem extraordinary that where there is an appeal tribunal, presided over by the President of the High Court, as it normally is, the hands of a judge of the High Court should be tied to the extent that he must accept the certificate of lay persons in connection with a given matter.

Does not the Minister realise that the same principle is involved here? If he agrees on the other two points he should agree on this one. Is it not the principle of justice, fair play and the right of a citizen to be given an opportunity of defending himself? That is being denied here, and I think that if the Minister gives way on one he should give way here.

Mr. Boland

I did not give way on this principle. I submit this principle was contained in three amendments, and we have divided on two of them already. One was No. 18, where it was sought to delete the words "on a question of law". In other words, that would leave the general appeal there. That was decided on one division. The next point was in connection with the certificate being conclusive evidence. Whatever had to be said in support of that, as I said before this evening, was debated at length on Friday. The point is the Appeal Tribunal has taken up the position that the Judicial Commissioner formerly occupied. They decide, on appeal to them, questions of law and of price—two very important things. Particulars as to the user and detailed circumstances surrounding each case have been thrashed out already, the occupant having had every opportunity to come before the Land Commission and make his case and if, having considered all those circumstances, the Land Commission is satisfied that the land ought to be resumed, a certificate is given and on the basis that it has to be accepted by the tribunal. There was a case—the Potterton case—in which it was held that there was a conflict—which undoubtedly there was—between two sections of the Act passed in 1933— Section 11 and Section 31. Section 11 is what is apparently sought to be done by this amendment. That was the interpretation that was given—that the Appeal Tribunal ought to have the power of veto, so to speak. But in Section 31 of the same Act it was as provided for here. That is what was intended and that is what we intend now, in order to avoid interminable delays. The result—as I think Deputy Dillon admitted on Friday—will be the same. No land that should not be acquired is going to be acquired or resumed. There are questions of law and of price—two very important matters—on which appeal is open.

This section is the key of this entire Bill. The opening words of this clause say, "The said certificate shall be conclusive evidence." A certificate issued by two, three or four laymen shall be conclusive evidence as to the facts contained therein and the Appeal Tribunal has no power to say either "yes" or "no" to it. Would it not at least appear logical that if the party concerned has the right to appear before the Appeal Tribunal that he should have the right to ask the Appeal Tribunal to say whether or not the certificate was ultra vires or whether or not he Lay Commissioners had jurisdiction when they issued the certificate? A certificate that may be completely without jurisdiction, involving the title of land, of people's property, shall be conclusive evidence.

Surely the Deputy does not desire to debate amendment No. 20 seeing that the principle was decided by a vote on the last occasion.

With all respect, Sir, I do not want to labour this. It is impossible to take one part of this section without the other—utterly impossible.

On the last day, when amendments Nos. 19, 20 and a few more were being considered, it was stated by a Front Bench member of the Opposition that, if the first one were defeated there would not be much use in debating the others. The points which have already been debated at great length and decided should not be reopened. The Deputy can raise points on the section, but for the nonce he is confined to amendment No. 21.

This clause of the section cannot be separated from the other two, because a thing is done in the early part of the section and it comes along to be dealt with here again. A certificate of a number of laymen shall be conclusive evidence of the facts stated therein and this certificate is sent to the Appeal Tribunal and that tribunal, which consists of the President of the High Court as one of the members, would not be able to say whether or not the people that made out the certificate had jurisdiction to make it out.

Is not that a monstrous proceeding, simply monstrous? I do not want to use any stronger language about it. A certificate that may be made without jurisdiction is to be put before the President of the High Court who cannot say "yes" or "no" to it. He simply has to approve and confirm its contents, even though he may be convinced that it is made without jurisdiction. That is what is in this clause. I am certainly not going to allow it through this House without resisting it by every means in my power.

I would suggest that the Minister should resist this amendment. I have listened to this debate for the last couple of days and found it difficult to understand the attitude of two or three members of the Opposition.

If the Deputy understands the Bill, that is the important point.

It would appear that Deputy McMenamin, who refers to this particular sub-section as the key of the Bill, is actually trying to weaken this Bill by every means in his power. He has spoken of the right of the individual. What about the right of the people who are compelled to exist in uneconomic holdings on the boglands and mountain-sides of Connaught and of Donegal—the constituency which he himself represents?

That does not arise under this section.

I will show how it arises. The question of resumption goes, I understand, before the three Lay Commissioners. These three Lay Commissioners are men who have been employed at the work of land settlement during the greater portion of their lives. Are these men not competent, from their vast experience of land settlement, to say whether farms should be resumed or not? I suggest that as far as the right of the individual is concerned, it is adequately safeguarded when it comes up for examination before three Lay Commissioners; and that there is really no need for an appeal on this matter or that this matter should be adjudicated on subsequently by the Appeal Tribunal, except on the question of law. I would suggest, as I said at the beginning, to the Minister to resist this amendment and to resist any other amendment which is going to weaken this Bill and make it inoperative and necessitate further measures at a later stage. Otherwise Deputy McMenamin or some of his colleagues might reproach the Minister, as Deputy Dillon did here some years ago reproach the Minister's predecessor in office, for failing to carry out the promises which were made to secure as far as possible that those who were living in congested holdings and uneconomic holdings would be provided with land as far as land is available.

Surely, Sir, apart from everything the Deputy has said, this particular sub-section is legislation run amok. What earthly use is there in asking us seriously to consider the problem—if you may call it a problem—of referring a matter to the Appeal Tribunal over which they have no jurisdiction or no function whatever? Is it not almost an insult to that particular body to present them with an ultimatum of this kind? There might be some reason in it if it was not referred to them at all. If the Minister adopts the principle that the Appeal Tribunal has no function, there is no sense in asking to refer something to them for jurisdiction over which they have no jurisdiction.

As regards the remarks made by Deputy Carty, I think the matters he referred to could be debated on some other section: there is not any particular reference in them to this section. As far as landless men are concerned, I would say that we have as much sympathy on this side of the House as there is on the other, but what we particularly want to safeguard now is the right of the people who have land—whether they be small holders or large holders. As far as we can on this side of the House we wish to safeguard the rights of every tenant holder, large or small. This particular section is nothing short of an insult to the intelligence of this House: it is legislation run amok.

The only comment I would like to make on the amendment is that it makes this sub-section a bit effective. Deputy Carty seems to think that the Minister should resist the amendment because it is going to do certain things. The whole point of the argument from these benches on that sub-section (e) is that it is a window-dressing section. You are given the impression that you have something to appeal to, but having appealed, you can do nothing. I would suggest that, in view of the speeches made by Deputy Carty and by the Minister, instead of "Appeal Tribunal" in this section in the second last line, the words "rubber stamp" should be inserted, or state that the seal of the Land Commission must be put on the certificate when it is handed in. That is what you are asking the Appeal Tribunal to do. The President of the High Court and the two Lay Commissioners are being asked, the very moment this certificate is presented to them to put a rubber stamp on it and say "Approved." Therefore, there is no object in the section. You are giving the impression there is something there when in reality there is nothing. I submit that, if the Minister does not accept the amendment and make the section effective in some way, the best thing he could do is to drop the section and make no appeal at all, and have done with it. Then there would be a clear cut case, a careful examination of what the position is, and when the Lay Commissioners give a certificate that land is required, within the law, that is the end of it and there is no battling about it. You have here a bit of window-dressing; there is an Appeal Tribunal, but all it can do is say "Thanks very much for sending the document down. We are stamping it, and that is the end of it." I think that it is a very important matter that an Appeal Tribunal should, when a question of appeal arises, be able to review both the law and the facts. However, that is, apparently, not acceptable to the Minister, and there is to be an appeal on a question of law only.

Mr. Boland

And price, also.

And price, of course, though we know that that will not get the holder very much. As I said on the Second Reading, there are three different valuations. Where it is to be specifically stated by statute what the valuation of the Land Commission must be, if it is set out that it is to be the Revenue Commissioners' valuation, it will soon end land acquisition in this country, because there will be no question of resisting the acquisition of land at all and farmers will be only too glad to get rid of their farms. The people are being given the impression that they can appeal upon something, when there is really nothing in it. If the Minister accepts Deputy McMenamin's amendment it does leave the section operative. If you reject it, I submit that there is nothing for it except to discard the sub-section altogether, because there is no point in it.

The background of this sub-section should be examined, so that it may be seen in its proper perspective. It is a short cut to confiscation, without any chance given to the owner of land. There is a reference to "tenant" in this Bill. In land purchase cases, there is no tenant. It does not matter whether a man owns an acre which he has purchased in fee, subject to a Land Commission annuity, or 1,000 acres, he is the owner of that land, and not the tenant, and he is proud of being the owner. It is important for us, as I say, to bear in mind the background of this sub-section, so that we can see it in its proper perspective, and the explanatory memorandum sets out:—

"Next in importance is clause 39 of the Bill, which restates the law and the procedure in regard to the resumption of holdings of tenanted land by the Land Commission for purposes of distribution. In the practice of resumption, also, the work of the Land Commission has been affected by decisions of the courts interpreting the powers intended to be given them by the Land Act of 1933, with the result that since the ruling of the Supreme Court in the case of Thomas E. Potterton on 9th July, 1935, they have been able to resume holdings only with the consent of the tenants."

I presume that means those who have purchased their land previously through the Land Commission, and I think the word "tenants" should be altered to "owners". Now where is our fixity of tenure? Is this not taking deliberate powers to manhandle the owners of land, while giving them this eyewash of an appeal to an appeal tribunal which has no power, and to give it in order to deny the owner of the land any right in the matter? This will facilitate the Land Commission. They are an administrative body and are not responsible for policy. They are given an Act which provides for the doing of a certain thing, I have no doubt but that they have found trouble, and questions will be asked here as to why there have been delays here, there and elsewhere. The Land Commission is blamed for it, but, if I had responsibility in the Land Commission, I should probably act in the same way. They say: "There are little things that must be straightened out, otherwise we cannot get on with the work", which, from my point of view, is confiscation.

The Minister comes here and asks to be facilitated in confiscating the land of the country from those whose fathers owned and worked it for generations and who fought the landlords, and drove them out in order that they should be the owners of their land. We have heard this "codology" of Deputy Carty about the old planters on the rich plains and the poor natives on the bogs. It is the land of the natives that you are confiscating under this—the men who have been the backbone of the country. It is to those men that you are denying the right of a substantial appeal. You are giving them the eyewash, but you are asking to be facilitated in breaking fixity of tenure all over the country. Mind you, it is not to relieve the congests alone that this land is being taken. If Deputies take the trouble to read the report of the Banking Commission, they will see that everywhere the Banking Commission touched on this matter of acquiring land, they point out the danger to credit. It is very little use to give a man a few acres, as the Land Commission is now giving, in some cases, five, six, seven, eight and ten acres——

The Deputy may not make a Second Reading speech on amendment No. 21.

I do not want to go too deeply into the amendment. I intend to say a good deal on the section itself, which I am going to oppose, and, when that time comes, we will talk about it. I am not so enthusiastic even about the amendment. If you are going to have the principle adopted and worked that you will confiscate the land and that you will give a pretence of an appeal to the owners before the land is confiscated, there is some substance in Deputy McMenamin's amendment because the Appeal Tribunal will have something to consider. The sub-section, however, merely asks them to "sign this document". I remember, when I was a junior civil servant, I would do a little work and take it to the head of the Department for signature. Very often he was easygoing and would not even read it, but he had to take responsibility for it whether he read it or not. The Minister is not giving this tribunal even a nominal responsibility. I do not suppose that the Appeal Tribunal will be greatly offended thereby. It is not intended as an offence to them, but it is intended as eyewash for the country.

I am supporting the amendment on the ground that, with out it, it does not matter what a holder of land may do with regard to his land—whether he works it in accordance with correct methods of husbandry, whether he gives good employment, or whether he works it efficiently—it is open to the Lay Commissioners to take his land from that holder and from the best farmers in the country. They have one sheet anchor at present which the Minister has mentioned, that is, if the land be correctly worked. The phraseology of the section is "in accordance with good methods of husbandry and gives employment." Where is the security for a man who urges that case before the Appeal Tribunal, once this section passes? That is a question of fact. It is the most important question for any holder of land in the country; it is the most important question for the people of the country, for the agricultural economy of the country and for those who get employment on the land from one end of the country to the other. Pass this section and though a man has 40 men working where another man might employ only 20, and is turning out the best stock ever produced, the Lay Commissioners have power to tell him, if he decides to put forward any question of fact to the Appeal Tribunal, that he is estopped and cannot mention it. Where is the security for any person who is working his land properly and doing the best he can? It is urged by one Deputy that the Minister was reproached by Deputy Dillon with regard to uneconomic holders some years ago.

His predecessor.

His predecessor. I wonder would the Deputy take the trouble to look up the Banking Commission report and see how the distribution of land has been affected during the last few years. It has gone from a distribution in favour of uneconomic holders to landless men in the proportion of two to one to an equal proportion, and then to a proportion of one to two. Two landless men now get a distribution of land as against one uneconomic holder, as lately as the year 1936. As far as this section and the whole Bill are concerned, the Minister asks for more and more power, but he says he will not use it. What is it for if it is not to be used? This is a very small concession that is asked. It is not important. It should not be looked upon as a concession at all. If the Minister had any idea of the justice of the case or if he had any interest in the agricultural economy of the country as it is, he would be more than willing to have such an amendment as this inserted in the Bill. I want to know in the case of any holder of land who is working his holding properly and working it for the benefit of the country, what opportunity is there for him to make his case if the Lay Commissioners do not listen to him? None.

Mr. Boland

I say what Deputy Cosgrave says is quite right—if the Lay Commissioners will not listen to him. But the Lay Commissioners will listen to him.

They will not.

Mr. Boland

I think I might repeat what I have already said. I have invited any Deputy in this House to name, in any part of the country, any farm that has been taken without listening to the case made by the holder of the farm. These Lay Commissioners are most experienced people. Everybody admits that.

Experienced in what?

Mr. Boland

These Lay Commissioners are experienced as to how the land should be worked. These cases are tried in open court. Any rebutting evidence that the person affected wishes to bring forward will be heard by the Lay Commissioners and the case will be decided on its merits. I say with the full knowledge of the facts—and the results have justified what I am now saying—that there has not been any case in which land worked moderately well has been acquired by the Lay Commissioners. I am not a lawyer, but I understand that it is only questions of fact, not of law, that are decided by laymen. The charge is made that these commissioners are laymen and they are deciding the facts. Now where a person is tried for his life it is a jury of laymen who decide the facts. Therefore there is not anything very new about that principle. It is not a question of law that is decided by the Lay Commissioners, but a question of fact.

There is no use in repeating here that thing about land being taken off people who have put their best efforts into working it. That does not happen. The speeches to which we have listened are the sort of speeches that have done real damage to the credit of the land holders. I really do not believe that the Deputies themselves believe what they are saying, but they have a lot of influence in the country and, unfortunately, they will persuade hard-working farmers that their title to the land is in jeopardy and that their land will be taken from them. That is the sort of thing that ought not to be said, for it is not going to happen. Every opportunity will be given to the owner of the land, to the man whose land will be subject to Land Commission proceedings, to appear in open court and make his case. If they do that their land will not be taken by the Lay Commissioners. If it were true that the Lay Commissioners would not listen to the case made against acquiring the land it would be a gross injustice. It is laid down in the 1923 Land Act that the land must be worked according to proper husbandry. It is there set out how the land should be worked and the rest of it. Someone must judge that. The Land Commission inspectors are the people who have been judging that matter all along. If the land is being used properly, the report invariably will be that the inspector does not recommend that the land be acquired.

That is invariably the case. Where the holding is non-residential land, where it is not being worked and it is needed for the relief of congestion, that land will most likely be taken by the Land Commission. But where the land is properly worked there is no danger it will be taken.

Will the Minister quote for us the statutory protection that any man has for his land? Will he give us anything to show what protection the owner of the land has? If an inspector came out to take my land what protection have I?

There are three decent commissioners there now, but they may be sacked and what protection would the owner of land have then?

They may be decent but the work they are employed to do is to take over land. I draw the Minister's attention to this extract from the explanatory memorandum which sets out that since the ruling of the Supreme Court on the 9th July, 1935, they have been able to resume holdings only with the consent of the tenants. If this Bill wants to reverse that ruling then the aim of the Bill is to give the Land Commission power to resume holdings without the consent of the tenants.

Mr. Boland

Yes, in certain cases.

Then the Minister says that I do not believe what I am saying that the fixity of tenure of the tenants has gone.

Why does not Deputy Belton practise that himself?

Practise what?

Fixity of tenure.

I do not mind that. A cog in the machine will always click now and again. The cog that has spoken has not done so very intelligently. I want the Minister to set down what statutory precaution there is for the tenant. Will he accept an amendment from me to give even limited protection to a man who works his farm according to the proper methods of husbandry? Will he accept such an amendment on the Report Stage?

Mr. Boland

That is there already.

Where will I find it— will the Minister quote it?

Mr. Boland

How is it going to be decided—who is going to decide whether it is worked according to proper methods of husbandry? Someone will have to decide it if it is down in the statute.

It is not the Lay Commissioners who decide it—it is the inspector, according to what the Minister has said. Obviously if an inspector says it is not properly worked the Lay Commissioners will not say it is.

Mr. Boland

But the man will have his chance in open court.

If the inspector says it is not, then it is not open under this Bill for the Lay Commissioners to say it is. That is my case. The Minister mentioned that if a man is on trial for his life he is tried by 12 laymen. I agree, but these 12 jurymen are not employed to find the man guilty. If the Lay Commissioners will report to the Minister and say there is no more land to be acquired the Minister may say "if you do not find land I will pension you off." The liability of the Commissioners and their responsibility is to acquire land for the Minister. I am quite sure I am dealing fairly with the Lay Commissioners in pointing out these facts. It is only fair to the commissioners. A judge always likes to have an appeal court from his own decision. I will admit at once that the responsibility of the Lay Commissioners is much greater and they will have to account for it, if not in this world then in the next world. That may be of use with regard to themselves, but it is not of much advantage to the man who has been deprived of his land. There is little doubt about it that there is one word capable of being interpreted from this Bill and that word is "compensation." The Minister wants cases. I could give him cases by the dozen. I am quite sure from what I know of the Lay Commissioners that there is not one amongst them who would not admit that however careful they have been in the past they have made mistakes. The Minister now wants us to endow these Lay Commissioners with practically infallible powers. We will not do it. We cannot do it.

Question put:—"That the words proposed to be deleted stand."
The Committee divided: Tá, 51; Níl, 18.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Breen, Daniel.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Childers, Erskine H.
  • Crowley, Fred Hugh.
  • Crowley, Tadhg.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • Do Valera, Eamon.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Friel, John.
  • Gorry, Patrick J.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hickey, James.
  • Hogan, Daniel.
  • Humphreys, Francis.
  • Kelly, James P.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Kissane, Eamon.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick J.
  • Loughman, Francis.
  • McCann, John.
  • McDevitt, Henry A.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Meaney, Cornelius.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • Munnelly, John.
  • O Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Loghlen, Peter J.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • O'Rourke, Daniel.
  • Rice, Brigid M.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick J.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Ward, Conn.


  • Belton, Patrick.
  • Bennett, George C.
  • Byrne, Alfred (Junior).
  • Cogan, Patrick.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Gorey, Denis J.
  • Hughes, James.
  • Keating, John.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • MacEoin, Seán.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Mongan, Joseph W.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • O'Sullivan, John M.
Tellers—Tá: Deputies Little and Smith; Níl: Deputies Doyle and Bennett.
Question declared carried.
Question proposed: "That Section 39 stand part of the Bill."

I think this section should be opposed. I cannot understand the Minister standing over such a section or such a Bill. This section is really the Bill in broad principle. I cannot understand the Minister standing over it, if he has read the report of the Banking Commission. Incidentally as a practical farmer, a farmer who found his greatest difficulty the securing of capital, I am amazed that the Government who went to the trouble of setting up a Banking Commission did not think it worth while discussing its report before this House. Land is of no use if you have not capital, and this militates against getting capital. You have been warned about this. Let me quote paragraph 328 of the Banking Commission Report:—

"There is another aspect of the subject of bank loans for agriculture to which it is necessary to make reference. The Banking Commission of 1926, in its Second Interim Report, commented in strong terms on the moral risk of loans for Irish agriculture and urged the need of a more reasonable and business-like view of the collection of debts secured on land or incurred by farmers. It is to be feared that, so far from any improvement having taken place in this matter during the past ten years, there has been a further deterioration of the position. A contributing factor to this result has been the extension, from time to time, by legislation, of the discretion conferred on the Land Commission to acquire land by compulsion and to reallot it to new occupiers. We deal in detail with this matter in a later section on land purchase, but think it well at this point, in relation to commercial banking, to mention that the existence of such extreme powers in the hands of the Government is a factor of insecurity as regards the title to land, which threatens to make banks less willing in the future to lend on the security of agricultural land."

They are using very modest language. The paragraph goes on:—

"Not only is there the danger that a farm may be acquired by the Land Commission at a price which, perhaps for temporary reasons, may be materially below the value as estimated on a long view for the purpose of a bank loan but experience has shown the existence of a considerable risk that agitators may use wrongful pressure to exploit the powers of the Land Commission"—

That is going home—

"by creating conditions for which there is no ready solution other than sale to the Land Commission. Our recommendations so far as the Land Commission is concerned will be found in paragraphs 512-517. It suffices at this stage to note how the situation reacts on the commercial banks and on the prospects and terms of future lending for agricultural purposes."

I could quote ad lib. from this, but I do not propose to do so because I do not think that anybody will challenge the statement as to the unsettled conditions in land—unsettlement of the land, not the settlement of the land to which the Minister refers. The Land Commission has unsettled land in this country. It is making it valueless as an asset upon which a loan can be negotiated. I wish to challenge the Minister to come with me to the head office of any bank functioning in the Free State or any branch of a bank that will give to the ordinary farmer accommodation on the strength of his land alone. It is not done. The credit of the country has been undermined by this policy. Agriculture has no stability. Land has no stability, consequently agriculture will get no accommodation.

I have heard applause from the Labour Benches about going ahead with this confiscation of land, unsettling land and making it valueless as a security, upon which a loan can be negotiated. Think of the unemployment we have. Think of the 300 carpenters who within the last couple of weeks left this city to look for work in Great Britain. That is because the credit of the country is at a low ebb and why? Because land, the one asset we have, has been rendered valueless as a negotiable security.

You surely do not argue that that has anything to do with the building of houses.

I certainly do and I am surprised that the Lord Mayor of Cork has not a sufficiently high standard of intelligence to appreciate that.

I would not get much enlightenment from that statement of yours.

If the Deputy analyses it he might. However, we shall pass on from that.

Hear, hear.

The credit of the State depends upon the credit of agriculture, and when Cork and Dublin sought accommodation in the open market, how much of it did they get?

And why?

Because credit was low.

Mr. Boland

Is this in order? Is this not a Second Reading speech? This question has been debated ad lib. already.

The question of loans for house-building in Dublin or in Cork does not arise on Section 39 of the Bill.

I want to relate to that question what the Minister is looking for in this Act—to deny the owners of property a voice in defending that property or an opportunity of saying why that property should not be taken from them. That is really what the second last paragraph in that memorandum means. That of course makes the property insecure, and when property is made insecure, it is not a security upon which financial accommodation can be secured. Land being the main asset in this country, national credit must suffer accordingly. I have quoted the considered statements of the bankers and I was only relating to housing in Dublin and Cork the fact that I had tangible proof and inside knowledge that because of the state of national credit in this country, public loans are not feasible at the moment. That is the considered opinion of bankers to which the Minister for Local Government and the Minister for Finance have assented. I defy contradiction of that. We are warned here not to go on with that policy. Some people may think or say that I am prompted by selfish motives in this. I do not own a sod of land that I did not buy in the open market. No money was put up that I did not earn, and if a man who has property, which he has bought with his own money, should not, in the opinion of some people, have it, well then the sooner a decent man gets out of this country the better for himself. I am sure that all here will agree with that principle.

I am against the section because it further facilitates the confiscation of land. Will the Minister deny that the taking of land for any purpose has an unsettling effect? This is not the taking of land for the relief of congests. In reality, it is the taking of land for the making of congests. We all remember the old cross-roads appeal that used to be made years ago: "All the poor fellows are in the bogs and on the mountains, but the big planters are down in the rich fertile plains." We are all familiar with that stuff. We know all about it, and we know too that there was very little sincerity in it. What you are doing here is, you are taking the land from the grandchildren of those who were foremost in the fight during the land war. Many of those who want to confiscate the land are the descendants of those who were grabbers and emergency men.

Would the Deputy give some examples?

I am not referring to anyone here, but I know that is so, and the Deputy knows it.

The Deputy, I think, knows very little about the history of the land war.

The Chair is not interested in inquiring any further into it.

I think I know as much about the land war as Deputy Carty, and even though I have no tag to my name as regards law, perhaps I know as much law as the budding barrister.

Maybe you do not.

I am opposed to the section mainly because of its credit effect on the country. All the industries that we have built up here must depend for their prosperity on agriculture. Agriculture is not prosperous to-day. That is entirely due to the want of working capital, and the working capital is not there because the banks will not advance it. I have read the bankers' statement in which they say that they will not advance it. What is Deputy O'Rourke saying? Of course the schoolmaster knows all about it. What is the use of a farmer talking about it.

What good are bank loans to farmers now? Any farmer who has to go to a bank is finished. That has always been the case.

If that be so then I should be hanged, drawn and quartered long ago. The man who does not go to the bank to borrow money and provide himself with working capital is not much of an asset to the country.

The man who goes to the bank is finished as a farmer.

We will leave Deputy O'Rourke to think that. I am speaking here as a practical farmer, and I am sure practical farmers will appreciate the truth of what I am saying. Even though I am not a teacher, I imagine that on this occasion they will learn more from me than from the teacher.

I think that on that subject the Deputy would want to go to school again.

The credit position is threatened, and there seems to be no regard for it. The Minister is not here seeking powers to help congestion. Deputy Cosgrave has given the figures bearing on that—that there are twice as many landless men looking for land as there are congests to be relieved. The Minister knows there must be a limit to the division of land. Apart altogether from the question of credit, the Minister must know that it would injure agriculture if all farms were cut down to too small a size, because then the small farmer will have no security in his land. Consequently he cannot get any credit.

The whole position of agriculture is being threatened. That must be obvious to anybody who considers the economic position of the country. It is reflected in the public loans that have been issued by municipalities. These loans were not taken up. You have the skilled tradesmen of the country emigrating to England to find work. I challenge any Deputy who knows the conditions in the City and County of Dublin to say if that statement is not true. The urgent thing is to build up our credit. I am opposed to this section because I would like to see our credit built up. We cannot do that unless we have security in property and in land. This section proposes to take away that security. Consequently, it is taking away any hope of building up our credit and is exposing not only agriculture but industry and the whole country to the danger of economic collapse.

I am also opposing the section because I think the powers that are being sought in it are entirely too far-reaching. Judging by what has been said by some of the Deputies opposite, and especially by Deputy Carty, I think they do not appreciate the fact that this section refers to holdings which are already the subject of land purchase annuities and that have been bought under the Land Acts by the present owners. That is the type of holding that the Land Commission propose to take up —to resume—under this section: holdings that have been bought by the present tenant proprietors under the Land Acts, by the men who were the former tenants under the landlords. What is proposed here is to take the land from them. In other words, the wheel has come round again. What I want to point out is that Deputy Carty does not seem to appreciate that.

I am not saying that this Bill is starting all that business. Of course, not. It was started long ago. What I mean is, the resumption of land was started before now. What I do complain of is that we are giving far too wide powers to the Land Commission under this section when dealing with the question of resumption, and that we are not giving sufficient latitude to the Appeal Court to review the different matters that come before the Lay Commissioners by way of petition on the part of the tenant proprietor whose land is being taken.

The Minister has challenged Deputies across the floor of the House to give the names of persons whose lands have been taken—lands which were being worked properly. Let me say that I think it would be most undesirable to have this slinging of the names of parties across the floor of the House. The parties concerned might not be a bit thankful either to the Minister or to the Deputies who did that.

Mr. Boland

I agree.

Mr. Lynch

As it happens, I got a letter this morning from a person who resides in the constituency represented by Deputy Kissane and Deputy Professor O'Sullivan. It is the case of a man who lives near Listowel. In this case, I think there was no question about the farm not having been worked in accordance with the best methods of husbandry. Of course, there are other considerations. This man was living in the town. The farm is about four miles distant. He has a nephew living on the land. As I have said, there was no question about the land having been well worked, well manured and well cared for. In fact, in these respects it might be called a model farm.

Mr. Boland

Has it been resumed?

Mr. Lynch

I forget now, but as well as I remember the history of the case, when it went before the Land Commission they decided to resume. The point is that mistakes will be made by the Lay Commissioners: matters will be taken into account by them which will outweigh the question of good working. The Minister has stated that a farm that is well worked will not be taken. I want to tell the Minister, from my experience, that is not so. If the Minister is genuinely anxious that that should prevail, I suggest to him that it would be quite easy to put in an amendment on the Report Stage to secure it. It is not in the Acts already; at least not to my recollection. The only provision with regard to holdings worked according to the best methods of husbandry, as far as my recollection goes, is in Section 44 of the Act of 1931, that is where fee farm grantees, lessees and so on, apply to come within the purview of the Land Acts. I do not believe that, in connection with resumption proceedings, there is any provision which would prevent the Land Commission from taking lands because of the manner in which they are worked. That is my recollection. If I am wrong, the Minister can correct me. At any rate, I know at least one holding which was worked according to the best methods of husbandry, and which the Land Commission insisted on resuming.

I am not opposed to resumption as a principle, but I think that the person from whom it is intended to resume land should not only be given every opportunity of making his case before the Lay Commissioners, but that his appeal should be allowed to go forward. This section is wiping out any chance of that, and it is also hampering and embarrassing the petitioner in a most extraordinary way in the presentation of his case even before the Lay Commissioners. The Land Commission will state, on general grounds only, why they are taking up the land. They will not state the power under which or the ground on which it is being done. That need not be stated. How is the petitioner to draft his opposition? How is he to put in his pleas as against the intention of the Land Commission in that case? I think that the section as it stands goes much too far in the direction of giving powers to the Land Commission. For that reason, as I said, I am opposing the section, but before I sit down there is just one question which I have been asked to put to the Minister. I take it that the procedure is something like this: When the Land Commission has decided to resume a holding, they fix the price. Then, I understand, they proceed to deduct from the price they are going to give the tenant proprietor, or the owner, if you like to call him that, the redemption value of the existing annuity. Is that so?

Mr. Boland


Mr. Lynch

The question I want to put to the Minister is this: On what basis is that redemption price fixed? There is an annuity. If the man continues on his holding for the rest of his time he will be paying only half the annuity. Is the redemption price fixed on so many years' purchase of the half annuity?

Mr. Boland

That is right.

Mr. Lynch

Suppose the man purchased under the 1933 Act, that is to say he would have been paying the annuity for 36 years out of the usual 66, I think it was; there would be 30 years to run. On what basis are the remaining 30 years redeemed? Take, for instance, a fee farm grant. That is payable for ever—for hundreds and hundreds of years. There are only, say, 36 years of this one left.

Mr. Boland

Does the Deputy want an answer now? That would be redeemed at whatever is the outstanding amount of the original advance, on half the annuity. There was a certain advance made on the land. Whatever remains to be paid, it is half of that.

Mr. Lynch

I think that is fair enough. I am opposed to the section for the reason I have stated.

Would it not depend on the price of land stock?

Mr. Boland

What the person is doing is buying his farm, and the money has been advanced by the Land Commission to enable him to do so. Whatever remains of that original advance has to be redeemed. In this case the annuity has been halved, and he gets off with half redemption of the advance originally given to him to buy his farm.

I suggest that it depends on the price of the relevant land stock on that day. I had experience myself where, after paying an annuity for ten years, I had to pay as much as had been advanced ten years before, because of the position of the stock.

One of the things that I resent in the debate on this section is the tendency of Deputies on the Government side, the moment a farmer on this side of the House opens his mouth, to launch accusations that he is against the landless men and the small holders. We are sick and tired of that. Everybody in this House ought to have some regard for agriculturists in general, and should make no attempt to set one class against the other. No attempt should be made to set the small man against the middle-sized man, or the middle-sized man against the big man. It is a wrong principle. I do not care one whit whether a man is a ten-acre, a 15-acre or a 75-acre farmer. I am as interested in the welfare and prosperity of one as the other, and I am as interested in the welfare of the landless men as any Deputy in any Party in this House. I do not want anybody to assume that I am not interested in landless men because of the fact that I fight for the interests of the man who is a purchased holder of land, a man who took advantage of one of the previous Acts passed by this House, and who has enjoyed the fruits of that purchase.

There are several objections to resumption, but I am not going to argue them here. There are other places in which to argue them. But there are more serious objections to resumption as it is going to be carried out under this particular section of this Bill. The Minister said that no land is going to be taken from anybody who farms it well, and he challenges us to give instances. I could give the Minister three or four instances. I could give ten, I think. I do not want —just as Deputy Lynch did not want— to give the names in the House, but I can give instances to any Deputy who wants them. I think almost every Deputy in the House could give instances of cases where there has been interference with the owners of properly managed farms. The Minister says there is no fear; Deputies behind him say there is no fear; they say that all this does not affect the ordinary tenant farmer at all. But it does. The Minister may like it or not, and Deputies behind him may like it or not, but I say there is a certain fear all over the country about this resumption.

Inspired by Fine Gael.

That is all nonsense and the Deputy knows it.

We know it is the fact.

It is pure nonsense. The Deputy ought to get up and make a speech instead of interrupting those of us who are trying to make a case. There are several instances of it. If Deputy Carty or Deputy Belton wants to sell a well-managed farm to-morrow, a farm which nobody can object to his holding and which he wants to sell because he is not in a position to carry on farming any longer or he wants to engage in some other occupation, he will not get the value of it. The only chance of his getting the value of it is if the purchaser is assured of a continuing tenancy. I have myself during the last four or five years intervened in cases where farms were about to be sold and I have approached the Land Commission and asked them to give a declaration to the auctioneers in these cases that if they were bought they would not interfere with them. I could never get a declaration from the Land Commission that they were not going to interfere with any of these farms. Is not that evidence that the sale of land and the price of land are being interfered with? When the land is put up for sale nobody knows that the Land Commission will not step in after it is bought. That is bad enough, but I have actual cases which I can give to the Minister where the Land Commission have actually stepped in between the vendor and the purchaser. Is there any chance of agriculture functioning in a proper manner as long as that practice is allowed to continue? In this Bill that position is further intensified. Now a man will not alone have land taken from him, but no reasons will be given for it. He will not be told for what purpose it is going to be taken and there is no appeal.

Deputy Belton has quoted the views of the Banking Commission on this matter—the Commission had two views. One honest Deputy on the Fianna Fáil Benches—Deputy Childers—the other day said that if Deputies had the courage of their convictions and were not afraid to speak out they could give reasons for this. He admitted that one reason was interference with fixity of tenure, but he said that if they were honest they could give other reasons why the banks will not lend money. We all know that there is a tendency amongst farmers and their sympathisers all over the country to have sympathy for the underdog. It has been bred in us and has flowed from centuries of wrong government. I have no doubt that the practice has been in certain cases, when a farmer was being sold out by a bank, to have a threatened or implied interference with the sale so that the bank could not sell the farm. That is a wrong position, and Deputies ought not to be afraid to say that. I for one am not. I have not alone said here, but I have said on public platforms in the country that land, like any other property, must be subject to forced sale if a creditor can no longer meet his liabilities. Until we get that position accepted by everybody it will be hard to get credit. The Land Commission can do away with that by guaranteeing the banks that if they lend the money no such thing will happen; that if anybody interferes with the sale they will take over the land and divide it. There would be more justification for that than there is for interfering with the land of an ordinary well-conducted man who meets his liabilities.

The Land Commission cannot give any guarantee to the banks under this section.

They can resume the land, which is the same thing. But they do not do that. There are many derelict farms in the country of that kind and the Land Commission know it. They prefer to interfere with some ordinary well-conducted farmer rather than take over one of these derelict farms. There is no security in land at the present time and there will be less. There will be no value in land. The value of land is bound to decrease day by day as a result of the resumption provisions being intensified by this Bill. There will be no hope of having land properly worked. A man is not going to work land properly as long as he has this fear hanging over him. I for one am opposed to legislation such as this. There are ways, and always will be ways, of providing land for small holders and landless men. Land oan always be got for that purpose and always will be got if you pay the price for it. The Land Commission just like any other people who want to buy land, should be prepared to be just to the present holders and pay a proper price for it and they will get all they want.

It appears to me that the difficulty with the Opposition is that they are more concerned about individuals than the general community. We have heard to-day of tenant farmers who have been working their holdings well who have been visited by Land Commission inspectors and the land resumed by the Land Commission in spite of the provision of the 1923 Act that land which is being properly worked, worked according to proper methods of husbandry, is not to be resumed. Deputies opposite know as well as we do that there is no intention here to interfere with the ordinary hard-working farmers. But they also realise as well as we do that if we are to carry on our policy of land acquisition and division we must have power of acquisition and that is exactly the meaning of Section 39 of the Bill —to give us the necessary power by which we can acquire land and carry out the policy of land settlement that we have promised the people we would carry out. We heard a lot to-day and on the last day about the insecurity that has crept in in connection with land. Deputies opposite try to hold that it is because of this land policy of ours that people will not get loans from the banks. I am not going to labour that point because it has already been discussed on the Second Reading of the Bill. But there is one thing I would say and that is, that this reticence on the part of banks to give money at present has nothing at all to do, in my opinion, with the land policy of the Government.

In your opinion.

In my opinion. I can only give my opinion. I cannot speak for the whole community but, at the same time I think I would be as good a judge as most people. The cause of the reluctance on the part of the banks to advance money is that they got such a gruelling, and had so much difficulty in the past, as a result of a situation in which they were too liberal, that they brought about a very difficult, and an almost impossible situation, and it is only natural that a certain amount of conservatism would now be adopted by these banks.

Better be very careful or you will come around to our point of view.

I do not care what point of view there is, I try to keep to the point of view that I think is proper. Much has been said about the undesirability of not submitting questions of fact to the Appeal Tribunal. As that has been already very fully discussed, I do not propose to say much on it at this stage, but I would consider the Lay Commissioners as well versed in the ordinary problems of land settlement, as members of the Appeal Tribunal, where it is a question of fact. The only difference, in my opinion, that there could be between the judgment of the Lay Commissioners, and the judgment of the members of the Appeal Tribunal, would be on a question of law and, of course, on the question of price. That is provided for in the section. While I have no revolutionary ideas about the acquisition of land—in fact, I would be numbered among the more conservative members of the community—still, I consider that "landowners," as Deputy Belton calls them, are well catered for and safeguarded in the section, and they will have no cause to fear any evil consequences. As I stated on a previous occasion, surely the Lay Commissioners are not a body of Turks or Bolshevists, that we would not have such confidence in them, as would from their long experience of the administration of the Land Commission fit them for the proper discharge of these duties. Deputy Lynch mentioned a case of resumption in my locality. I am not sure of the case the Deputy had in mind but, from what I know, I cannot recall any case where land has been resumed by the Land Commission that was worked in accordance with proper methods of husbandry. We can discuss that question later. The Deputy also mentioned that holdings which had been already the subject of land purchase are not immune from the provisions of the Bill. That is quite true. The fact of a holding having been purchased under one of the Land Purchase Acts should not act as a preventive to the Land Commission acquiring it. If there is a person on it who is not working it, or who is leaving the land derelict or half derelict, surely the fact that it was purchased under one of the Land Acts should not safeguard such a person.

Mr. Lynch

What I said was that this section deals exclusively with land that has already been the subject of land purchase.

There are other sections dealing with that, such as Section 46.

Is the Deputy making a Second Reading speech?

I am not. I am not the only one inclined to do so, but I am not going to say that I will get away with it. Deputy Lynch also mentioned that the powers under which land should be resumed would not be revealed in all cases under this section, and that that would deprive the owner of the opportunity of being able to make a case. I am sure if counsel is employed he will not be long in searching the Land Acts.

Counsel cannot make bricks without straw.

I am sure counsel will find out whether the Land Commission has power to acquire the land or not. As to the purpose for which it is to be acquired, I do not think that is so important. We all know that the purpose is to relieve congestion and to turn uneconomic holdings into economic ones. Deputy Bennett said that he was as much concerned about the small landowners as Deputies on this side. If he is, he should not impede this policy of land settlement that we are trying to adopt. He knows very well that there is a considerable number of uneconomic holdings, as I call them, that require to be enlarged. It is for the purpose of enlarging these holdings in many cases that the Land Commission is acquiring land.

I suggested a better remedy.

What was it?

Let them give a proper price and they will get all the land they want. I will buy it for them, and I will not give 1/- more than the market price for it.

That is extraordinary. Deputies opposite say that the value of land has depreciated since this Party got into power, and especially since the Land Act of 1933 was passed. I am not going to labour the point, but I saw farms sold in my part of the country and they fetched as good prices as ever they fetched. There is as much value attached to land there as ever. I cannot understand the suggestion of Deputies opposite that the value of land has depreciated very much on account of our policy.

Is £4 for an Irish acre a good price for land?

It is not a good price. Nobody would get an acre of land in my part of the country for £4 or for £10. I can speak from experience. My experience is that land carries as much value to-day as it did ten or 15 years ago.

Mr. Lynch

Will you persuade the Minister to give a price for land?

This section does not deal with the price of land.

I should like to ask Deputy Fagan a question. What was the Westmeath Board of Health paying for land? Did they get it for £4 an acre?

Has Section 39 anything to do with that matter?

I do not see any danger in this section. The policy of land acquisition for division amongst uneconomic holders and landless men, and the policy of bringing congests from the West and from certain parts of the South of Ireland, should continue. We propose to continue that policy, and to do so we must have the power that we seek in this section.

I suppose no good purpose would be served on this section in trying to follow the last speaker on the price of land. I am opposed to the section upon grounds which differ slightly from those put forward, even from these benches. What I should like Deputies opposite to realise is that the section gives the Land Commission power to resume holdings that had been already purchased out by tenants from the Land Commission under the various Land Acts. It does not say at what point they are to stop. This section, as it stands, gives the Land Commission the right to resume any holding where the Lay Commissioners give a certain certificate. A case was made by Deputy Carty that these were big land owners. They are not.

Many of them are.

There is another section dealing with them altogether. We are not dealing with the Second Reading of this Bill; we are dealing with this particular section and this section is one that does a certain thing. It entitles the Land Commission to come down to Deputy Carty's farm in Sligo and say: "You are not working this farm right and we will take it from you." Deputy Carty might be the same as the farmer in Knocknagow who, when his neighbours said: "Do not be working so hard on your farm," replied: "I will work hard on it, because when I work it well and drain it and the landlord increases the rent, I am quite safe in it." He did not feel there was anything else he should do; he did not feel he should go out and join the rest of the Tipperary tenant farmers in order to hold his farm or get a fair rent fixed. He said: "I am working my farm well; I have improved it, and the fact that the landlord increases my rent is ample guarantee of my security of tenure."

In this section the tenant farmer who is working his farm well may satisfy himself, when he gets the notice that the Land Commission are going to resume it for the relief of congestion or whatever it may be, that he is all right. He may say: "I am working my farm properly. I have drained it and done everything I could. I have read the Minister's statement in the Dáil that a man who works his farm well will not be disturbed." He can say further: "I will trust the Land Commission and the Lay Commissioners"—to whom such a tribute has been paid this evening—"I will trust them that they will be able to ascertain the facts." The result is that he does not employ a solicitor or counsel; he does not employ Deputy Carty or Deputy Lynch. The inspector goes down, and perhaps the old fellow is in at the fair or somewhere else on business, and a report goes back that he is not working the land well and he was not there when the inspector called.

No matter what the conditions are, he does not do anything about it. He may come to Dublin and appear before the Lay Commissioners in order to say he was working the farm well. There is no obligation on the Lay Commissioners to interrogate him fully in order to ascertain the facts. The obligation is on the tenant to satisfy the Lay Commissioners that he is working the land. There is no obligation on the Lay Commissioners to put him through it, and he has no counsel appearing for him. As a result of the facts put before the Commissioners, they will say: "We are satisfied that he is not working it properly," and they give a certificate for resumption. The man follows the same line of conduct as the farmer in Knocknagow, and says: "I am perfectly safe," but there is no appeal from that, once the Lay Commissioners give that certificate.

Under this section there is no protection of any type or kind. The wording is quite clear—"The Land Commission shall give in the prescribed manner to the person appearing to be in occupation of the holding...." They do not even have to make sure that they have the right fellow—"the person appearing to be in occupation". They propose to ask for leave to resume the holding. There is no obligation on them, because the section sets out: "it shall not be obligatory on the Land Commission to state, in any notice given...the power under which...." One farmer may say: "I am working my farm well and I know the Minister for Lands—a decent man—and the Land Commissioners— they are all decent fellows—and I need not go to any solicitor in either Longford or Kerry." He decides to go on his own to Dublin and submit the case to the Commissioners. You have the certificate given and there is no getting away from that.

I submit this is too great a power altogether. It has been mentioned, and I might be permitted barely to touch it, that it does interfere to a great extent with the credit of the farmers. I know of a case in which the farm is a fairly substantial one. The owner worked it so well that he made £4,000 profit in it. Being a big fool, he bought another farm for £7,500. With the £4,000 that he had, he entered the bank. I agree with Deputy O'Rourke that he was a fool to go near the bank. Anyhow, he put in the £4,000, gave a mortgage upon the farm where he made the £4,000 and also on the new farm he bought. When he had all done, along came the slump, because of one thing or another. You can put down any reason you like. I will even, for the purpose of making an argument, say it was owing to the international situation.

Mr. Boland

Or the Land Commission?

No, I would rather use your own pet phrase, inter-ternational depression. That was the cause of all the hardship. Owing to the international depression, he was no longer able to meet the overdraft. The result was that he sold the farm where he made the £4,000 and got £2,000 for it. He did that prior to 1932. To-day he has effected a settlement with the bank for about £650 and the Agricultural Credit Corporation say his £7,500 farm is not sufficient security for them. Why is that farm, land held from the Land Commission and that was purchased for £7,500, not worth £650 to the Agricultural Credit Corporation? It is a fairly substantial farm. There are perhaps 250 acres in it, but they know that when the existing land annuity is redeemed on it if they had to try to liquidate it in order to realise, they would not be able to get that done. They can only get the price if the Land Commission will pay for it. That would be the value of the farm.

If that man, although he has ten or 12 children, put the farm up for public auction to-morrow, I would have people coming in saying I should make representations to the Land Commission that that holding should be acquired. If I said I would not, it would mean that I was opposed to getting land for the people. It is a situation that the Government and the Land Commission have to meet and they have to put the farmer in the position that where he has a farm held from the Land Commission, purchased in the ordinary way, he will have some protection in it if he is working it. This man is working it, but because of his circumstances it will not be protection for him.

Honestly, I am not trying to make a debating point on this matter or to make Party capital or anything like that out of this particular matter, but I feel that in cases of this type, where there is resumption of holdings at present held from the Land Commission, there should be some method by which the facts may be reviewed, in case of accident. He may have it as in the case of a criminal appeal—that is that you may make application for leave to appeal. You can make it as difficult as you like, but you should have some form of second revision because, if you do not, again the wheel could go around the full distance. Governments could change— will change, I hope—and it might not be always even Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael that you would have as a Government; you could have a very reactionary Government here at some future day and, remember, that you are legislating for them.

They would represent the people.

The Deputy says that they would represent the people. That was what was said in Mexico. The astonishing part of it is that a decent, respectable Government——

They would represent the people, if they were elected democratically.

Wait a moment. The Deputy put in his interjection. In Mexico a Government brought in a measure declaring that, in certain instances, all public buildings were the property of the State, and under that section a Mexican Government succeeded in confiscating every church and every school in Mexico, and they represented the people, mind you, in the doing of it. If that section had not been there at that particular time, however, they could not do it.

How long would they have to wait in order to put in the section if they were so inclined?

I would suggest to the Deputy from Wexford that he should examine this measure as carefully as he is trying to interject into my speech, and if he examines the section as carefully as he is trying to do that, he might find something in which to examine his own conscience as to whether he would like to see another Government of a different type, or another Executive or another Land Commission, being given such a power.

The Deputy is a member of the Agricultural Commission.

If he is a member of the Agricultural Commission and can interject like that, I have not much hope for the commission if he has any influence in it. However, Deputy Hughes should not put bad thoughts like that into my head. I am opposing this section on these general principles: that there is no protection for, not the big rancher, not the fellow who holds the rent free land, but for the ordinary tenant-farmer who has already bought out from the Land Commission under some of the Land Acts and who fought to get there.

Whether it is a farm of 500 or 600 acres or not?

Mind you, yes. I know of a case where a man has 500 acres and the Land Commission went down to inspect that land and I felt that it should be acquired, but because there were 37 workers working on it, and who had been working on it for the last 30 years, the workmen came to me and said: "What do you mean? Do you want to put us out and put us on little patches of our own and make us starve there when we have £2 a week as we are?"

What about the big ranchers who do not employ labour?

Deputy Harris should make his own speech and tell them in Kildare all about it. If a man has a farm of land from the Land Commission, for which his father fought in order to put him there, I do not see by what right any Government or any Legislature in this country would give a statutory body the right to take that land off him without affording some protection to enable him to show that he was working the land properly, and that when these facts were put up, or, as I said, as in the case of the old fellow in Knocknagow, even with the failure to do so, he should get a chance to mend his hand afterwards. Any Deputy in the House, whether he is a lawyer or not, knows perfectly well that an appeal should lie if the person who should have made the case did not get an opportunity of making it, and that there should be some method to provide for that. That is why I said that there should be an application for leave to appeal, if necessary. Make it as difficult as you like, but have that matter covered in some particular way, because there will be people down through the country who will not go to a lawyer or solicitor or employ counsel, because they will say to themselves that there is no necessity to do so, and then, when something has gone wrong, it will be too late, and then it will only mean that you will have to bring in another amending Act to squash what you have done.

Deputies of the Government Party—notably Deputy Carty—tried, I think, deliberately, to misrepresent and misinterpret the intentions of this Party. We are not opposed to land division, and I think that is well known. Land was being divided by this Party before Fianna Fáil divided any of it, but we stand for justice and fair play for every citizen in this country. I have no sympathy for the man who does not work his land properly and who is not an asset to the country and not trying to pull his weight as a unit in the State, but I certainly submit that the man who is working his land properly, and who is a real asset to this country, ought to be protected and preserved, and he is not protected and preserved by a pious promise or a pious wish of the Minister for Lands that he ought to be protected in law. I do not see where he is protected in law under this particular section. It is this particular section that destroys his security. He has no security of tenure whatever. The Minister has got up and tried to defend this section, saying in effect, that the House knows very well that the commissioners are a decent lot of men who know their job and that they are not going to take land from a man who is working it properly, and that neither they nor he himself has any intention of doing so. That is all very well, but how can he bind any successor of his that may come along, or any successor of the Land Commissioners? How can he guarantee that future people will not confiscate land anywhere they like? Is the Minister prepared, in this section, to introduce an amendment that will give the protection to which he gives lip service in this House? That is no good to the people who want protection, and it is no good to the people who are entitled to security on the land, because, as I said before, they are a real asset to this country and they have not got the protection to which they are entitled. In fact, it is the very reverse, that protection is being destroyed, and the reaction is that they are doubtful and cautions about spending money in improving their holdings. Certainly, they will not get any help or any loans from the banks.

Or from the Credit Corporation.

Or from any corporation if they require money under this section. The section proposes that the Land Commission give notice in the prescribed manner that they require to resume a holding, and it says that it shall not be obligatory on the Land Commission to state the power or the grounds under which they propose to acquire the land. Sub-section (1) (d) says that where the Land Commission certify the purpose of resumption it need only be indicated in general terms, and this certificate, in general terms, shall be conclusive evidence that the holding is required for a purpose lawful under the Land Acts. It would be utterly futile for any citizen under a section like that to appeal to any tribunal because the tribunal's hands are absolutely tied and they would have no jurisdiction whatever. It would be a pure waste of money.

Sub-section (2) proposes to authorise the Land Commission to enter into possession of a holding before the price is fixed. It would give power to a department, first, to compulsorily resume a holding and then treat the citizen with contempt by telling him that he can wait as long as the Land Commission like before the price is fixed. They can say, "We will take over your farm and fix the price whenever we like. It may be six months or 12 months or two years or five years. We will fix the compensation price when it suits us but we want your holding immediately." That is also an important clause in this section that has been overlooked. I think it is very important. It is certainly treating the citizen with contempt, denying him the right of justice and fair play, confiscating his property, and saying that perhaps in a year or two he may be compensated in some measure for the resumption of his holding. If this section is passed in its present form there will not be a semblance of justice left. If that type of justice is going to be administered in this country then justice is a sham and a fraud. That is what it amounts to. As I said, we all agree that land ought to be divided. There are some uneconomic holders in the country who, if they got more land, would make good use of it in their own interests and in the interests of the State. But, on a plea that it is to expedite matters in that respect, individuals are to be denied justice, justice is to be trampled under foot with regard to certain individuals who hold property in this country.

What we suggest is that that citizen should be given the opportunity to say why his holding should not be resumed; that he should be given the opportunity to defend himself. That is a simple, a fair and a just request and that is all we ask. If the Minister is not prepared to meet us on that, then we will have to divide the House again on it.

On the question of credit, it has been pointed out by Deputy Belton— and on the Second Reading of this Bill I pointed out myself—the important bearing this section is going to have on credit for farmers in this country because, after all, you cannot have credit here without security, and the only security the farmer in this country has to offer is the security of his land. That security is going to be destroyed under this section. Government Deputies have tried to labour the point that that security was destroyed long ago, that it was destroyed during the war and after the war period. The type of loan advanced at that time is not the type of loan we visualise when we speak about loans at the present time and when we speak about rehabilitating a farm. We do not speak about giving loans to farmers to buy more land. That is what happened during the war. Huge sums of money were advanced by the joint stock banks of this country to individual farmers to purchase land. Those farmers found themselves sunk beyond any possible hope of recovery and money was lost or frozen. When we speak about credit we refer to a certain type of loan that would help the farmer to restock the land—money that would be put into live stock, money that would help the farmers to work their land effectively—not loans for the purpose of buying more land. The type of loan we visualise can be secured, and secured effectively, if the farmer has proper security in his holding. That is the type of loan that we ought to bear in mind in this House. I do not think the House at any time, from any side, intends to facilitate farmers by providing loans for the purpose of buying land. That is not our intention at all. Our intention is that any loans that will be advanced to farmers will be used for the purpose of restocking the land.

It has been stressed by Fianna Fáil Deputies that this section cannot affect credit. I referred to a particular case on the Second Reading—the case of a widow who held approximately 400 statute acres of land. There was a financial problem attached to that to which I did not refer. I shall refer to it now because I think it is important. On that holding of approximately 400 acres the bank advanced a loan of £1,500. Obviously it seemed a safe security from a banking point of view. But it was not. That holding was resumed by the Land Commission and realised £1,200. The bank got the £1,200 and lost £300 in the transaction. Is not that one case enough to shy off that bank for all time in advancing loans of that sort? That land was obviously a very safe security for a loan of £1,500 on two holdings approximating to 400 acres. That represented less than £4 an acre. One would think that the land would secure that loan anywhere but there was a loss incurred by the bank of £300. One cannot get away from the fact that this has an important bearing on credit and credit is an all important matter for the country at the present time. The doubt that exists, not only in the rural areas, but in the cities and towns as well, of our stability at the present time has reacted upon credit and that doubt will be increased by a Bill such as this, destroying the security of a farmer in his holding, with the natural reaction that it is bound to have on credit.

The whole section amounts to confiscation, pure and simple, and to an absolute denial of justice and fair play to the citizen. That is the point, with its reaction on credit, that we want to stress—the right of every citizen to get justice and fair play here before you acquire his land. By all means, land should be resumed and acquired, especially land that is not being properly treated and properly worked. I have no sympathy for the people who are not pulling their weight and are not trying to make good use of the land, but I say that, before you take it off a man who has not worked it properly, he should be given the opportunity of defending himself and of asking why it is done and why his farm is going to be acquired and for what purpose; and when he knows the purpose he should be heard in his own defence as to why it should not be taken. We boast about our high ideals here of justice and fair play and impartiality, but surely this section cuts across the whole principle, it lowers the whole ideal of justice in this country and tramples under foot the moral right of the citizen in this and in every country to be given an opportunity to defend himself and his property. If this Parliament stands for that sort of justice it is a sorry day for this country.

I have asked myself a question: "Does this represent the mentality of the Land Commission or is it a prompt from the back benchers of Fianna Fáil?" I would like to know where it came from, as it is not a credit to any of the people from whom it may have come. I appeal to the Minister again, before he forces this matter—forces this question on this House and on the country—to reconsider the whole section and to put justice before expediency.

I am supporting the section. Notwithstanding all that I have heard from the Opposition Benches, I have not the least fear that I am going to inflict any hardship on anybody. It appears to me to make a difference between the question as to whether or not we are serious in proceeding with land division. I take it that this Bill and this section have been considered necessary to try and get on with the job of making land division a success. Everybody who has spoken has professed that he is not opposed to land division but is only trying to secure fair play. Listening to some of the speeches that have been made here this afternoon, one would get the impression that there were very many well-worked farms throughout the country, and that everybody was carefully looking after them, and that the Land Commission was a dangerous body which was seeking to split up all the fine ranches into small holdings. If the Land Commission were composed of men of that type the amendments which have been suggested would never be a protection.

I take it that the Land Commission is an instrument of State and is not the property of the present Government or of the last Government or of any succeeding Government. The remark has been made that there may be another Government and consequently another Land Commission. I hope that the time that you can change bodies of that sort with a change of Government is far distant, and I think that it is not in the interests of the credit of the country to refer to instruments such as the Land Commission in that manner. I am supporting this section and the Bill, because I feel that it is necessary to give this power to the Land Commission to enable them to get on with the job, and to ensure that they have sufficient authority to function usefully and speedily, so that there may be a check to the great evil of migration and to the decline in the rural population through the flight to the cities and the towns. If the people are going to be held on the land I do not see any way by which it can be done except by equitable division of land, by giving it to men who are competent and prepared to use it. If the measures that were in the hands of the Land Commission in the previous Bill were adequate there would have been no need for this measure now.

Living in the country as I do and hearing all the sins that are supposed to be committed by the Land Commission and the accusations that are levelled at the heads of this body, I know all the devices that have been attempted, and attempted with success, by the owners of land to keep this land from the Land Commission and from those who are waiting for it hungrily. I know a case where the Land Commission has been defeated in trying to obtain division of land and where the owner has snipe flying over it and where he will not allow the unfortunate people into it, though he is not using it himself. In this case this land is the best to be obtained in the particular locality, yet the unfortunate human beings cannot get it, because this man has defeated the Land Commission. ,I am quite prepared to give any power to the Land Commission to defeat that kind of gentleman, who is unpatriotic enough to allow the place to remain derelict and barren. That is not an isolated case: I know of others.

Several amendments have been suggested from which it would appear that but little confidence should be placed in the commissioners. It is sought, by amendments, to safeguard rights in this section, but I believe that the section would be utterly worthless if confidence cannot be reposed in the people who are entrusted with the division of land. In this particular question—the question of an appeal to the Appeal Tribunal—the Lay Commissioners in my opinion are the really competent persons to deal with the question as to whether a farm is well worked or otherwise. On the question of law there is an appeal to the Appeal Tribunal; but, if the Lay Commissioners are supposed to be dangerous and that there is no security left and the people are threatened with sheer confiscation of their property, I do not see what guarantee there is that that property will not be confiscated if the case is taken to the Appeal Tribunal. Are the members of the Appeal Tribunal more to be relied upon than men who have the same legal qualifications as, I take it, is the case under the Lay Commissioners. They are dealing with a matter which is inside their functions and unless they are wilfully and with malice aforethought out for the destruction of the owners of property, there is no justification for attacks of the kind that have been made on them this afternoon.

The majority of the complaints that I have heard show that the Land Commission is going too slowly. Generally speaking, Deputies think that land is being divided too slowly and that if we are to proceed at the rate at which we are at present proceeding it will not happen in our lifetime that the Commission will get down to the small holdings that are supposed to be in need of land and rid the people of the huge ranches—some of them of considerable magnitude—which have not been used. I hope that sufficient power is being taken now to carry out the necessary work and that it will not be necessary to come in later for more. I am prepared to give as much power as is necessary, confident in the knowledge that it is not going to be used by dangerous persons but that it will be used by reasonable and sensible men who will carry out what they believe to be the best policy for the people, and that the powers they have will be used in the best interests of the country as a whole.

I am opposed to this section because it gives to the Land Commission powers to which they have no right, powers to confiscate land which has been fought for and won by the farmers of this country, and because it gives the Land Commission power to inflict a gross injustice upon a section of the community which is least able to defend itself. Deputy Kissane has said that those who are opposing this measure were supporting individuals against the community. Deputy Kissane does not appear to be aware that the community is made up of individuals and that if you trample upon the rights of the individual you are trampling upon the best interests of the community as a whole.

What is the best interest of the community at the present time? Is it not that the land of this country should produce the last ounce of output that can be secured from it? Is it helping to secure the last ounce of productivity from the land if you deprive the ordinary working farmer of the right to security and the right to regard himself as a free citizen of a free country and not as a convict who can be convicted by a small tribunal from which there is no appeal whatever? We are told that our whole security lies in the fact that the members of the Land Commission are decent men and that the Minister for Lands is a decent man. We have never questioned the decency of those people. We have been told that we should rely on the fact that the members of the Land Commission are not Turks. That may not be a respectful way to refer to the citizens of a friendly State, which may be an ally of this country in the next war, but even though the members of the Land Commission may not be Turks, many injustices have occured in this country in the past— and it is possible that many other injustices may occur in the future— which were not perpetrated by Turks, but by people who are described in the census returns as Christians. The gentleman who purchased cows at one-third of their value in Arklow last year was not a Turk.

There is nothing about that in the section. It deals simply with land acquisition.

I am pointing out that the fact that the Lay Commissioners are Christians does not give the decent Christians of this country adequate protection, and I think that, in all fairness, there should be some appeal from the decisions of the Lay Commissioners. Even though they might be fairly honest, they might make mistakes, because nobody is infallible, and everybody can make mistakes. Surely it is only just and reasonable that persons who find themselves aggrieved should have the right to appeal to a higher tribunal? It has been said that the higher tribunal might also be unjust, that a judicial tribunal might not be absolutely impartial, and might possibly make mistakes, but there is this difference, that the higher tribunal would be at least a little more independent than the Lay Commissioners.

Two heads are better than one, anyway.

Yes, and, apart from that, they are in a more independent position. The Lay Commissioners are concerned mainly with one job—to get as much land as possible divided. An independent tribunal might not find itself so tied down to carrying out Government policy. It may be asked from what source does any danger arise to the decent, honest working farmer of the country, and that is a very pertinent question. The danger arises, and will arise, in my opinion, from the fact that the more land you divide, the greater will be the demand for further division of land. It is only when you have acquired and divided a considerable amount of land that the demand for the acquisition of still greater amounts will become irresistible. Deputy Childers, I think, dealt with this aspect of the question on Second Reading. At column 745 of the Official Debates of June 7th last, he said:—

"I myself think that the pressure brought on Deputies of this House by those who want land is an entirely undesirable thing. I think the whole atmosphere in many parts of the country in which people are waiting for 300-acre estates to be divided— no one knows whether they are going to be divided or how soon—is entirely wrong."

Again, at column 746, he said:

"At any rate, when the present Bill has had its effect the same uncertainty will continue, and whatever Government is in office—whether it is ours or another—will be driven by political pressure to try to take further steps to divide land, knowing very well that those steps may not be economical in their results."

I would ask the Deputy to stick to the section. We are dealing with one section.

I submit that this remark of Deputy Childers refers to this section in as much as some limit should be placed on the powers of the Land Commission in respect of acquisition of land. Otherwise, you will have a steady, continuing pressure on the House to go on acquiring and dividing land, and, no matter how impartial the Lay Commissioners, or the members of the Land Commission, are, if Deputies desire that land acquisition should continue and should not be restricted in any way, they will have to carry out the policy of this House and of the Party in power. Because, as Deputy Childers foresees, there is a danger that there will be undue pressure brought to bear upon members of the House to carry out that policy of acquiring land, it is only right that the House, foreseeing that danger, should place some limit upon the powers in regard to the resumption of holdings. It is very easy for anybody who wants popular support to go to a particular district and promise other people's land to his supporters, and some restriction should be placed upon that type of activity. In this section, there is no restriction whatever. The Land Commission is given absolute power to divide the last acre of the land of the country and to sweep away completely any security which tenant farmers thought they had secured when they won the land war.

I cannot say that I see eye to eye with my colleague here beside me. I rather incline to the views expressed by Deputy Keyes. So far as I can see, the major fears expressed by Deputies on the Fine Gael Benches are groundless. There might be some reason for these fears if we had a Stalin, a Mussolini, a Hitler or even, I might say, a Labour Government, but, under the form of benevolent dictatorship which we enjoy at the moment, I think these fears are absolutely groundless. Deputy Belton made some references to the effect which this section had on the credit of the Dublin Corporation, and also to the effect which the activities of the Land Commission had on that credit, and he invited any member of that body to stand up here and challenge the accuracy of what he said. I recognise that reference to such matters is scarcely in order, but I do want to take this opportunity flatly to contradict the statements made by Deputy Belton in that connection. I do not think there is anything further I have to say on the section, except that, so far as I can see, it aims at establishing the simple principle of taking land from those who are not prepared to work it. If I may draw a very slight analogy, an unemployed man who is found by the labour exchange to be a person not genuinely seeking work is deprived of his benefit. I do not see why much better off sections of the community should be immune from a little stimulating treatment on the lines suggested in the section.

Listening to the Opposition Deputies, one would think that we had reached quite a revolutionary age, that a revolution was to take place in the country and that there was to be an end to all the property we had. Deputy MacEoin and Deputy Hughes told us they were not afraid of this Land Commission and that they were not afraid of this Government but of some future Land Commission or Government. I wonder where that Government and Land Commission are to come from. I expect they will be drawn from the people. As a farmer I would not be a bit afraid in the morning to live in the future under a Labour Government. We would be quite secure and our holdings would be quite secure under a Government drawn from any section of this House. I want to make that plain. There are in this country 300,000 farmers who are under a £50 valuation. These 300,000 farmers have little more than 4,000,000 acres of the arable land of the country. Another 66,000 persons have 6,500,000 or almost 7,000,000 acres. That is almost the exact position.

Deputy Hughes has talked about the credit of the farmers. I am sure the credit of the 300,000 with a valuation under £50 is not affected in any way by any Land Acts that are passed or may be passed in the future and put into operation. I would say that is the case of every single individual with a valuation of under £50. One might add another 20,000 who are under £100 valuation. Their credit is not affected. You get then another 20,000 who hold land over £100 valuation. It is about that number and about their credit that the row is. They are not one-eighth or one-fortieth of the total farmers of the country. Let Deputies remember that all the time. I did not propose to intervene in this debate, but I have been listening for the last hour to speeches on Section 39 of the Bill—the resumption of holdings. All these speeches were made on the Second Reading. There is nothing in this section that this House and the people of the country did not agree to five or six years ago. Every principle in that section was agreed to by the House and endorsed by the people in the country with their eyes wide open. There are 300,000 holdings with a valuation under £50. I hope the House will support the Minister in getting this section through.

It is pretty clear that the Party opposite and the Labour Party have made up their minds that they cannot any longer support their own tribunal. There is no doubt the Appeal Commissioners have been created by the present Government. The president of that tribunal is their late Attorney-General. The two other commissioners on the Appeal Tribunal have been appointed by them. Now the wording of this section prevents any review by that particular tribunal of any matter on which there might be an appeal. Why is that? Human nature is human nature, and the ordinary Lay Commissioners as soon as land division comes to an end have their job finished. It is natural that they will try to keep their jobs. Human nature in Ireland is perhaps made of as much ordinary clay or perhaps more ordinary clay as in any other quarter of the world. Here the Government have no confidence in their own tribunal, and they will have no re-trial and no examination. A commissioner comes in and gives a certificate that a certain farmer should have his farm taken from him. There is no review and no redress. Deputy Allen has given away the case. He says that the credit of these 20,000 people with a valuation of over £100 a year is worsened and that they deserve no consideration in this State.

I did not say any such thing.

There is no court and no possibility of an appeal for them. They do not count. I know there is no use arguing this question. It is purely a waste of time. It is going to be carried. I am certain that the Land Commission never asked that these powers were to be given to them. The demand has come from the Labour benches. We can very easily see where it has come from. It is only a waste of time to argue the matter further. The plain fact emerges that the individual in occupation of a farm is prevented by legislation from a review of his case and from getting a fair trial to put up a case in a public court and have it fairly dealt with. Of course we are aware that the people on the dole will return this Government to power any time. There are 100,000 of them and their families in the country. They hold the balance of power. That is the position of which the Government should take stock. They should give it careful examination. It is a very happy position for the people on the dole, for the people who are depending on the dole, the people who will not work, the people who cannot work and do not want to work and have never worked and are untrained to work. It is utterly impossible now for these people to work after being so long on the dole.

I must protest against this insult to the unemployed by Deputy Gorey.

The Deputy can protest all he likes.

What will you do with the unemployed?

I wish to repudiate one statement by Deputy Gorey. The Deputy stated that Deputy Allen said that we admitted that the credit of these 20,000 farmers over £100 valuation is interfered with by this Bill. It is not. Every Deputy knows that the action of the Land Commission as such has nothing whatever to do with the credit of the farmers and that it has never interfered with the credit of the farmers. I have here already given definitely the reason why farmers will not get credit and nobody knows that better than the Fine Gael Deputies. They all know that if a bank puts up a holding in the morning that that sale will be interfered with and that farm will be branded.

Deputy Corry might ask the Minister about that.

I have my own experience in working the land and I know what happens in the case of the banks; I have the experience gained from my constituents for a number of years. We all know why the banks will not to-day give credit to the farmers on the strength of their holdings. Why? The moment a bank puts up a holding for sale that holding is branded——

Then the Land Commission ought to take it themselves.

The Deputy might as well say that when the late Minister for Agriculture brought in the 1923 Land Act he abolished the security of land. That Act had as much to do with the security as this Land Bill, the very same thing. Once a third power wants to take land, that is the position. The same thing might be alleged. Any Deputy who is honest and who knows the position in the country knows that that is a fact.

The Deputy has no confidence in his own tribunal.

Deputy Allen boiled this issue down to 20,000 farmers. Let us examine the position of these 20,000 farmers. My valuation amounts to £151. I have no dread that anybody will come and take portion of my farm from me. I know farmers in this House who have 1,000 acres and 1,500 acres and they have no dread that that land will be taken from them because they are working it and giving employment. The objection we have is to the small farmer to whom Deputy Allen alluded—the man with from 50 acres to 20 acres—being obliged to meet not only his own obligations bu' the annuities on the thousands of acres which these gentlemen hold. They are paying neither rates nor annuities in in respect of that land. There are 7,000 acres in my constituency in that position at present. The unfortunate fellows whose ancestors were evicted out of those lands are living on farms of 20 acres or 30 acres on the mountainside. They are meeting the unpaid rates and annuities of these gentlemen-farmers who can drive out in motor cars while leaving their lands derelict.

I move to report progress.

Progress reported. Committee to sit again at 7 p.m.