Committee on Finance. - Minerals Development Bill, 1940—Second Stage.

I move that this Bill be now read a Second Time. This Bill is designed to serve three purposes— firstly, to make certain amendments which appear to be desirable in the present Mines and Minerals Act of 1931; secondly, to authorise the Minister for Industry and Commerce, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, to acquire compulsorily minerals in private ownership, in certain circumstances; thirdly, to authorise the Minister to work mineral deposits as a State enterprise. In the administration of the Mines and Minerals Act of 1931, certain difficulties were experienced. To meet these, certain amendments are proposed now, of which I propose to mention the two principal ones more specifically later. The bulk of the amendments are of a minor character, but they have been rather numerous, and in view of that it has been felt desirable to proceed by way of a consolidating measure rather than by way of an amending Bill. Accordingly, this Bill proposes to repeal completely the Act of 1931 and to re-enact its many provisions with the amendments which experience has shown to be desirable.

The first main amendment which this Bill proposes to make in the Mines and Minerals Act of 1931 is one to meet the difficulty which arises out of the fact that, on the sale of estates to tenant purchasers under the Land Acts, 1903 to 1923, minerals are, as a general rule, reserved to the Land Commission. The tenant purchaser is granted the ownership of the stone, gravel, sand and clay on his holding. In the case of minerals which were thus reserved to the Land Commission, certain difficulties regarding title have arisen from two causes: first, there is no way of telling whether some particular substances come within the category of minerals vested in the State under the Acts or within the categories of stone, gravel, sand or clay and are thus specifically exempt from such vesting by the terms of the Land Acts. The second difficulty arose through the fact that vesting of minerals in the State under these sections did not take place in certain circumstances, that is to say, for example, if the owner were himself working the minerals on the day of vesting. Whether particular minerals were being worked on the vesting date or on the appointed date was, in some circumstances, a question of fact which it was difficult to determine. As a means of settling the questions of title, the Mines and Minerals Act of 1931 empowered the Minister to refer such questions to the Land Commission for determination. Reference to the Land Commission meant delay for the person proposing to work the mineral and, in one case, expensive litigation, which ultimately went to the Supreme Court, in which the tenant purchaser was involved. In this Bill, the remedy proposed is, by way of legislative act, to declare that an exclusive mining right vested in the State under the Land Acts shall be deemed to include and always to have included the right to take all of the mineral substances set out by name in the Schedule to the Bill. I think it will be conceded that this is, perhaps, the most practical and businesslike way of settling this rather vexed question.

The Mines and Minerals Act of 1931 also failed to make sufficient distinction between prospecting and working. In so far as that Act did make provision for prospecting as such, it placed this aspect of mineral development on the same plane as actual working, with the result that anybody in this country wishing merely to examine a mineral deposit to see whether it was worth developing or not was faced with pretty much the same degree of formality, expense and delay as if he had already decided to work the deposit commercially and wanted for that purpose to get legal title.

With a view to remedying this position in regard to the matter of mineral prospecting as distinct from actual working, the new Bill contains in Part II a whole set of provisions based on the principle that where there are minerals, whether State owned or privately owned, which are not being worked or which are not being worked efficiently, either the Minister or any person to whom a licence for the purpose may be granted by the Minister should be entitled to investigate the possibilities of these minerals subject to payment of compensation in respect of disturbance or damage caused to the surface of the land only. It is not proposed that the owner should get compensation in respect of the minerals themselves because he in fact will suffer no loss. His title, even if a prospecting licence is granted, will remain unimpaired and, in view of the fact that the Bill proposes to make it an offence for anyone to whom a licence has been granted to work the minerals or to remove any quantity of them other than what is required for the purposes of analysis or other similar tests, his property will be protected.

Part III of the Bill contains provisions which authorise the compulsory acquisition of minerals in private ownership. Briefly, this authorisation is granted to the Minister for Industry and Commerce where he, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, is satisfied that certain mineral deposits are not being worked or are not being worked efficiently and where in his opinion it is essential in the public interest that such order should be made. Circumstances have shown that there is necessity to look for these powers. Left to development by private enterprise, experience has shown that there is a probability that the mineral deposits, such as they are, in the country, may never be developed. In the interests of the State it is important that such possibilities as there are should be fully explored and should be fully availed of. The development of the deposits which we have would give much-needed employment, and the coal and other minerals which may be raised would help to feed essential industries with raw materials at a time when the flow of imports is for any cause interrupted. Again, development of the country's mineral resources has, to some extent, been impeded by unreasonable demands which have been made by owners of deposits for a right to work and develop them. There is, naturally, no desire to confiscate private property, but it is important that the efforts of the State or of private persons to develop mineral deposits should not provide the owners of deposits which may have lain dormant for years with the opportunity of demanding for their interests amounts which would make the exploitation of the deposits uneconomic.

In general, we assume that the owners of the deposits will be sufficiently compensated by a royalty on any minerals which an efficient mining undertaking may succeed in winning from the soil and it is only in exceptional circumstances, I should say, that any lump sum will be paid over at the outset. The Bill, in relation to this question of compensation, provides that the compensation to be paid to the existing owners will, in default of agreement, be fixed by the Mining Board, but the compensation which the board is empowered to award is, in general, limited to compensation, as I have mentioned, by way of royalty on the quantity of minerals raised from the deposits which are acquired. There are, however, two exceptions to this general rule. If the minerals are held subject to a rent or other fixed annual payment or if they have been purchased by their present owners for valuable consideration within ten years prior to the date of the passing of the Bill the board may at its discretion award compensation in the form of (a) a lump sum, (b) a fixed rent, (c) a royalty, or any two or more of these modes of payment.

Section 30 of the Bill authorises the Minister for Industry and Commerce, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, to work and dispose of minerals already vested in the State or minerals which have been acquired by the issue of an order under Part III of the Bill. The arrangements most suitable for working minerals by the State, whether directly or through a semi-State organisation, would, of course, be for consideration in each particular case. So far as it may be proved necessary, the Dáil will be approached to provide financial assistance in the form of repayable advances, but it is intended that any such project should, within a reasonable time, show itself capable of being operated on a commercial basis without State assistance. Accordingly, the enactment of the Bill will not of itself throw any charge upon the Exchequer.

While the other provisions in this Bill do not differ widely from the provisions of the Act of 1931, they are arranged on a somewhat different plan, and it may be well at this stage to mention briefly the plan adopted in the 1931 Act for giving effect to the general purposes behind that legislation. The principle underlying the provisions of the Act of 1931 was that the development of the mineral resources of this country is essentially a matter for private enterprise. In that Act, therefore, it was not necessary to do more than, first of all, authorise the Minister for Industry and Commerce to give leases of minerals which were in State ownership; secondly, to provide persons with facilities for acquiring the right to work minerals which were in private ownership; thirdly, to provide facilities for working deposits either acquired by mining leases or by mining rights, to provide them, for instance, with a right to a supply of water, a right to dispose of waste products, a right to demolish buildings. These rights, provided under the Act of 1931, were known as ancillary rights and are set out in detail in Section 19 (2) of that Act. The 1931 Act also provided for the terms on which mining rights and ancillary rights should be acquired and the compensation which should be paid to the persons from whom they were so acquired. It also made provision to prevent the working of minerals which were required for the support of buildings, and it made provision for various minor matters mentioned in Part VIII of the Act, that is to say, for the fencing of abandoned mines, for furnishing information regarding boring operations, et cetera.

For the purpose of advising the Minister as to the reasonableness of claims made for mining and ancillary rights and for assessing compensation which should be paid in respect of them a body called the Mining Board was established and it consisted of three persons, a lawyer, an expert in land values and an officer of the Minister. These various provisions of the Act of 1931 have their counterparts in the present Bill. Part I corresponds roughly with Part I of the Act of 1931. Some of the definitions are changed slightly. I have already referred to some changes in the definitions in the first part of the Bill, and also to the main changes of substance in that part which refers to scheduled minerals. The changes, as I indicated, will, we hope, obviate delays which have taken place, and remove difficulties which have been experienced in considering whether in fact certain mineral substances have been vested in the State.

I have already dealt briefly with Parts II and III of the Bill, and with Section 30 of Part IV. That part of the Bill will generally re-enact the provisions of the 1931 Act. It also introduces the following new principle: that the Minister will have authority to give facilities to take deposits from State-owned minerals, and also from privately-owned minerals, without putting the applicants to the expense of making formal leases. It also provides that the Minister will be authorised to work certain mineral deposits as a State enterprise. Part V re-enacts in substance Part II of the 1931 Act. The constitution of the mining board to be set up will not be altered. The nature of its general functions will not be altered, but the cases that will come before it for determination may be more numerous, depending on the extent to which the powers vested in the Minister under Part III of the Act will be exercised.

Part VI of the Bill embodies the provisions of Parts IV and V of the Act of 1931. These are the parts which contain provisions for the giving of facilities to work minerals which are in private ownership. In this Bill the facilities are called "unworked mineral licences." In the Act of 1931 they were called "mining rights." In this part are provisions which will make it an offence for a person to work mineral deposits in such a way as to deprive of the necessary support buildings and other erections on the surface of the land.

Part VII deals with the payment of compensation. The circumstances in which compensation will be payable have been stated at length in a memorandum which I circulated to Deputies. Part VIII deals with miscellaneous items which were dealt with in Part VIII of the 1931 Act and, in addition, contains provisions making it an offence to work minerals without lawful authority. The need for that arises from the fact that from time to time it has come to the notice of my Department that mineral deposits which belong to the State were being pilfered by persons living in the locality. The trespass was most frequent on coalfields such as at Arigna, the Leinster coalfields, and Slievardagh. Quite apart from the injury done to State property by these acts of trespass, it is important that trespass should be stopped for the following reasons: firstly, that the trespassers left unfenced shafts which they had sunk when they decided to abandon the workings; secondly, the State might, to some extent, be made liable for compensation to the owners for any injury done to the surface; and thirdly, there was a likelihood that the irregular working carried on might result in serious accident. There was, in fact, one serious accident due to that cause. Nevertheless, the State hitherto had no effective means of putting an end to the trespass. Proceedings might have been taken under the Larceny Act, but it is doubtful if they would succeed. The protection that will be extended to mineral properties by this section will also extend to minerals in private ownership.

These are the principal features of the Bill, and as the need for the enactment of the measure in present circumstances is very urgent, I should be grateful if the House could see its way to give me all stages of the Bill to-day. The powers with which we are seeking to vest the Minister in Parts II and III would be particularly valuable in present circumstances.

This Bill proposes to repeal the Act of 1931 In connection with the operation and working of the minerals board can the Minister say if any inquiries were held, and if any compensation was awarded in respect of mines and minerals?

The board certainly held inquiries.

Did it award compensation?

I will tell the Deputy at a later stage.

This Bill proposes to amend the Act of 1931. It appears that some part of the Act of 1931 is to remain in operation although the Act as a whole is to be repealed.

Practically all of it.

Is there a particular reason for not laying down the law here as if the Act of 1931 had disappeared? It is rather distressing to know that while part of the Act is to be repealed, in order to find out where we must look up every other Act to see what particular part is still in existence. This is a very comprehensive Bill, and like most of the measures that we have had in recent times, it proposes to give power to the Minister to do or to undo, and to amend or otherwise. Section 12 is an example under which the Minister may at any time at his discretion revoke a licence. In that sense it is different to the 1931 Act, as under this Bill the State can go in and operate a mining proposition on its own. Personally, I dislike that provision. We had an example of that sort of work in connection with peat within the last few years, and it has been a very expensive experiment. Naturally, when it was introduced it had all the recommendations which one might expect from politicians, or from persons expecting great results. We were told from time to time that the development of peat would be second only to agriculture, but we learned later that most of the money sunk in it has been lost. That is the danger in this measure, that having got the power, the State may seek to operate it.

It may be said that if the State does not move some time or other we will not get anywhere in these matters, and people may point to the hydro-electric works on the Shannon as an example where the State had to move. But the circumstances are not the same. In one case we had a proposition to work on, and a definite plan, as well as estimates and examples provided by experts. Here we have nothing of the sort and we shall, probably, be asked in the next few years to sink a great deal of money in something which nobody in the country knows anything about. It will be brought in with the usual flourish of trumpets. We shall be told that it is a great investment, that it will give a lot of employment and that the results will be very satisfactory. That is one side of the matter—the expensive side. This Bill opens the door to experimentation and affords an opportunity for putting public money into a mine, which means that that will be the end of the money. In the next place, there does not appear, so far as I can judge at the moment, to have been any attempt to deal with a person who obtains a right and then sells that right to somebody else. To my mind, that type of individual should not have his operations facilitated in this country. I should be prepared to support a bonafide mining proposition, but it is inadvisable to encourage the person who, having obtained certain information, puts out a prospectus, invites other people to put up the money and gets away with the commission. In the earlier years of this State, there descended upon it quite a number of persons who were anxious to get rich quickly. They got short shrift. In recent years we have had quite an invasion of persons more Irish than the Irish themselves and, according to all accounts, much richer since they came here than they were before.

I should like to know if it is merely an oversight that Section 17 refers to a person who gives information which is false or misleading, and imposes a penalty, while Section 27 refers to a person who "knowingly" gives such information. Is there any reason for making a distinction in these two cases? I asked the Minister whether the old mining board had operated or not, because this board is the same, and we have in all these Bills an addition to the cost of running the State. This mining board will represent but a small item in the cost, but, if we add up all these small items, we shall find that they amount to a considerable sum in the aggregate. The Bill provides for a member of the mining board who is a practising barrister or solicitor of ten years' standing, an experienced arbitrator—presumably one who has experience in connection with the acquisition of property under the Housing of the Working Classes Acts —and an officer of the Minister. Perhaps the Minister would tell us why it is proposed to have three members on this board—why an arbitrator accustomed to this work could not carry out the duties himself. What is the necessity for having, in addition to a practising barrister, a member of the Minister's staff? Of all the people in my experience who have no knowledge whatever of the world, the civil servant is the most outstanding. He knows all about his own department, about his files, and about what might happen, but of business transactions he knows nothing in the world. It is unfair to put a proposition of this sort before a civil servant, because the whole existence of civil servants is devoted to putting up propositions. I suppose the best civil servant is he who produces a white sheet, and when told that it was a black sheet which was wanted, provides an equally satisfactory sheet of black. Civil servants are never called upon to take decisions. They always put the decisions up to the Minister, and I can foresee the civil servant on this board being a regular torture to the unfortunate barrister and arbitrator when the question to be decided is whether a person should receive £140 instead of £120. Perhaps the Minister would give us some reason for the maintenance of the board at the strength which was thought advisable eight or nine years ago. We are not as rich as we were then. We cannot afford to spend so much money, and unless civil servants have had experience of business during those nine years which they had not at that time, there cannot be any very strong reason for putting a civil servant on the board.

I notice that what is called "a prospecting licence" is provided for in the Bill. That may be with a view to helping the individual who comes in to find what there is to sell and, having got the information, sells it to somebody else. If that were the purpose of the provision, I should be very much opposed to it. If the intention is to provide for an ordinary bona fide examination of what there is to mine, that is a different question. I notice that, in one clause of the Bill, it is provided that if, in a particular case, the compensation to be awarded is less than the sum which the Land Commission has advanced on the holding, the board, notwithstanding its judgment and its conscience, is to alter its award and make one which will indemnify the Land Commission. I could imagine the Land Commission introducing a clause of that sort, but for the Minister, who is interested in mining, to do so is quite a different proposition. If, by reason of mining, land is less valuable than it would be if worked as an agricultural holding, there is no reason for converting that land into a mine. We should lose rather than gain in that event. Perhaps the Minister would take a note of that matter, which arises on Section 65, and tell us the reason for it. Section 67 provides for compensation for State-acquired minerals and for unworked minerals licences. Sub-section (b) of that section refers to purchase by the owners for valuable consideration “within a period of ten years prior to the date of the passing of this Act”. Why was the period fixed at ten years? If this Bill means that we are to have a series of expensive experiments, it were better it were never introduced. The Minister may say that that will have to come before Parliament on a future occasion. We are getting the medicine in two doses so that it will seem not to be so severe. I should like to know if there is any intention of sinking money in this business and, if so, to what extent.

One would have thought that the provisions of the 1931 Act were sufficiently stringent without repealing that measure and bringing in a Bill which imposes still more severe conditions on the landholders concerned. I refer to the position of the property owner whose land is taken over and his whole place disturbed while he gets little or nothing in the shape of royalties or compensation. According to the Minister, these landholders are not losing anything except the loss due to disturbance of the surface of the ground. Even the value of a field in which an ordinary quarry is opened is very considerably impaired and the field is a danger.

But the opening of a quarry is nothing to the opening of a mine. I have in mind the silica deposits near Cloyne, in the area where I reside, and while we are always glad when any wealth turns up, and, by the export of such a deposit, money will be brought into the State, at the same time, in every single instance that I know of where these mines were opened, the landholder concerned got practically little or nothing, and the place was more or less destroyed as an agricultural holding. The prospector has the right already, under the 1931 Act, if he gets a small grant from the mineralogical section of the Minister's Department, to sink shafts here, there and everywhere, make investigations and probably to go very far afield and acquire, as a vast source of wealth for himself, something that rightfully should belong to the owner of the land. I have also in mind a case where the landlord was able to get a substantial amount while the unfortunate tenant got practically nothing except some slight compensation in the shape of a small royalty on the goods delivered.

There is one thing that should be safeguarded in this measure, and I should like to draw special attention to it. That is the export of silica deposits to England or elsewhere. Where industries in this country require that particular substance to carry on manufacture, they should be supplied. I am aware of one instance when they could not get it. The Carrigaline Pottery wanted some silica, and they could only get a limited quantity. They were not able to get the amount they required, and they had to do with other commodities. That has been already proved through information which was given to myself and other members of the House in a lecture in Cork.

Did the Deputy verify that statement? Did he inquire how the position he mentions arose and why this silica was not available for the Carrigaline people?

I did. It was exported.

Did the Deputy find out why it was exported and why it was not available?

I cannot give you that information, but I know the material was not available for the pottery work, which should have the first call. Where we have established an industry by private enterprise and without any great help from the State, that industry should have first call on that material rather than a foreign firm. Those are a few of the factors to which I should like the Minister to give some attention. There are various forms of this commodity turned out in the parish of Cloyne. It is put to various uses, one of which is moulds for ironwork.

I would like to make special reference to the way, under the 1931 Act, in which an industry or anybody who has acquired an option on these deposits can actually hold up the sale of an estate. The sale of the estate at Rostellan is held up in this particular manner simply because for some reason or other they had not arrived at an agreement with Silica Industries, Ltd. There is another side to the question. There is, for instance, the improvement of roads to the particular deposit or mine, and that has had to be attended to by the local authority. Will the Minister take over that responsibility or will it still remain part of the duty of the local authority to give assistance in that respect? I feel that that should be part and parcel of the Minister's responsibility. We have very valuable marble deposits also. Would marble come under the heading of a mineral that the Minister would control or would it be something that the private owner would still own under the heading of "stone"?

If the Deputy looks at the Schedule he will observe that marble is included there as a State mineral.

Very well. What I will ask the Minister to do is to relax in some degree the rather harsh position which he has taken up by insisting on acquiring and giving little or no compensation to the property owner concerned or the farmer. I think he will agree that there is an element of harshness entering into that position. A man who has his farm completely destroyed is entitled to something a little more generous than a royalty on the deposits removed. This matter should be approached from a very different angle than what the Minister proposes. He says that all that happens to a man's property is the disturbance of the surface of the ground. I am afraid I cannot agree that the disturbance to the surface of the ground is a thing that can be lightly passed over. These places where minerals or other deposits are may be places with valuable amenities and those would be completely destroyed by the setting up of workings of the kind contemplated.

I was rather surprised at what my colleague has said in connection with this matter. I wonder if we could get some information from the Minister as to what was the price paid for the mineral rights in the Cloyne area by Cloyne Company, and if this company has held up the sale of Rostellan, as Deputy Brasier alleges. Is the Minister aware that the silica clay in Rostellan was completely worked out by that company some five or six years ago, and that no work was since carried on in that place? As a matter of fact, Rostellan was only used as a kind of stalking horse for the purpose of extracting money from the Department of Public Works by that particular company. They spent about four months making a passage through the sloblands for a ship that never came there. If these people are holding up the sale or the division of an estate by the Land Commission over an alleged mining right—in a place where there are no minerals—we should like to have some information on that point. I do not know how those people got the mineral rights that they allege they hold. I have seen one unfortunate individual down there where there was a regular hill of silica. They would come this month and prowl around there through a corn or wheat field and take out a load, and in six months' time they would take out another load. They went across the road then, with the same alleged mining right, and entered on the 20 acres of land belonging to an unfortunate widow. They insisted on taking a few bags of stuff out of the holes they made here and there in her fields. They went away and returned in six months' time, dug more holes and took more stuff. I should like to know what are the rights of the ordinary farmer in cases of this kind, and what are the rights. of the alleged mine owners.

I think the House should be enlightened as to the amount of money given to that particular company, because the allegation in the district is that it got either a grant or a loan from some Government Department. It seems rather amazing that there should be plenty of money for any wild cat scheme of that description that crops up, while there seems to be no money at all for an unfortunate farmer who may have to look for £100 in order to stock his farm. The allegation, as far as I understand it, is that this company got five or six different loans or grants from the Department. The position is that there is plenty of work going on while the loan or grant holds, but as soon as it becomes exhausted, the work stops. There is no more work until there is another pull from the Government. I honestly think that if the Government have money to throw away in that fashion, it would be far better to give it to farmers in the form of capital to enable them to stock and work their land. It would be far better to do that than give it to the university professors and buckshee lawyers who are going around the country exploiting unfortunate farmers. That, at any rate, is what has happened in this particular instance. I know that of my own personal knowledge—that you had buckshee professors from the university here and a couple of general schemers called lawyers going down the country and making well out of that area.

What is the meaning of "buckshee"?

The people in the country are entitled to know what amount of money has been given to those people by way of loans or grants, where the money has gone to, and what is to be shown for it.

I have no desire to head Deputy Corry off, but may I suggest, in relation to any loans or grants that have been given by the Government, that matter would more properly arise under the Trade Loans Guarantee Act. There is a return of these furnished to the Dáil every quarter. If the Deputy wants to raise any point about them he can do so under that head.

I am not too well aware of the intricacies of these things.

Is the Deputy not well aware of them? He has often come after them.

Who got the loans?

The Minister is here this evening asking the House to give further power to these people under which they will be enabled to do further fleecing.

That is not so.

I beg the Minister's pardon. I have told what has happened, and I have the right to form my own judgment on it. I want to protest against the manner in which the previous Act was used in that respect. I think it is an outrageous thing that individuals can go in on a farm, dig holes and take away a couple of loads of stuff out of the middle of a field. At the field that they did enter, there was a road at one side and on the other the hill of silica out of which they took about four tons of stuff in the year. They had the silica exposed there, but in spite of that they insisted on going in on the 20 acres of land belonging to this unfortunate widow, and in digging holes on her land. All they offered her was 5/- a time by way of surface damage. I say that is a shame, and that that kind of thing should be ended. The unfortunate farmers are not in the happy position of being able to get cheap law which would enable them to follow one of those bucks into the High Court or into the Supreme Court, or the other courts that are the curse of this country at present.

The farmers, as I have said, are not in the position of being able to follow those people up. How could that unfortunate widow who has only two cows, four goats and an ass start proceedings in the High Court against the King's Counsellor who had got those mineral rights? Where he got them I do not know. The law would be cheap for him because he could get other K.C.'s to act for nothing for him, but the law would not be so cheap for the poor widow, whose lands had been entered on. I would like to have some explanation as to what has been done in this case, and the reason for doing it. I only want the people of this country to get fair play. In my opinion they are not getting that, because of the manner in which these things are being jiggered round. It is all very well for the Minister to tell us that this is a matter that might be raised under the Trade Loans Guarantee Acts. We find there is a very big difference between going to the Industrial Credit Corporation and the Agricultural Credit Corporation. It might be well if in the case of these bodies there was a swop round. If the industrial people went over in charge of agriculture for some time we might be able to get a little more money, at the same time giving those in charge of the Agricultural Credit Corporation the opportunity of inquiring into the bona fides of the gentlemen who are at present getting money at 2 and 3 per cent. If there was a swop of that kind, things might be straightened out. It is time at any rate that we had some definite explanation about this, because it is common knowledge that the only money spent in the area up to the present has been money obtained either by way of loan or grant here in Dublin. We, in this House, are entitled to know what was put up against the loans given, and to be told also how much the people who got the loans were supposed to spend out of their own moneys on the enterprise.

One must feel inclined to sympathise with the Minister and say "The Lord save us from our friends." I am sure the Minister did not realise that on a matter of this kind East Cork was going to enter into it. Apart from his sympathy for the widow, Deputy Corry made one statement that struck me as being rather peculiar. He admitted that money was spent in giving work in the area. I could imagine worse ways of spending money under the Trade Loans Guarantee Acts than in giving employment in an area.

£10 to the local men, and £200 to the Englishmen for looking at them.

Now we have it. A scheme was started down there and if something did happen—I am not blaming the Minister for it—it was surely the duty of the very active Deputy who comes from that area to bring it to the Minister's notice, and not wait until this measure was introduced. It was surely that Deputy's duty to get that situation straightened out and to inform the Minister and the Government, if there were something in the 1931 Act that was not right. I want to know from Deputy Corry if he will now put down an amendment that will help to rectify that situation. On a previous occasion, in connection with another measure, I tried to get him to support an amendment that I had put down, but he did not give it his support.

I was too fly to be caught that way.

There is one anomaly in this Bill that I desire to bring to the Minister's notice. I am not clear as to whether the Minister can deal with it under this Bill or not. It relates to the question of the ownership of minerals. Every tenant purchaser is paying for his farm by means of his annuity. On his land certificate, or folio, it is stated that his ownership does not apply to the mines and minerals therein. As far as I understand it, that means that, under the Land Purchase Acts, the mines and minerals are vested in the State. In fact, however, the money which the tenant purchaser is paying, by way of annuity, represents interest and sinking fund on the money which the original landlord was paid for that particular farm. I do not object to a proposal that all mines and mineral rights should be reserved to the State, but you have the peculiar position that where the lands are not subject to the provisions of Land Purchase Acts, the mining and mineral rights are still the property of the original owner. When, however, it comes to the question of the tenant purchaser, that tenant purchaser is deemed to own his farm, but he does not own the mines and minerals therein because, where the Land Commission bought out the landlord's interest, they did not allow him to transfer these rights to the tenant purchaser. Yet the tenant purchaser is paying for the whole lot. He is paying back the entire amount that was advanced to the landlord.

Is the Deputy not forgetting that the amount of the purchase money was based on a certain number of years of the rent paid, and that in every case the landlord reserved the mineral ownership?

You have in this country two kinds of ownership in these minerals; they are either owned by the State or by the original landlord. Actually, these people, in my opinion, were very well paid for their land when they were purchased under the 1923 Act. I do not think there is any justification for compensating these people again for the mineral rights under lands already sold. If people are going to walk in on my land for the purpose of working mineral rights, and are only to pay me for the surface value of my land, why should somebody whom I have shifted several years ago be allowed to come in and claim payment for the mineral rights?

Perhaps the Deputy would read sub-section (3) of Section 13 of the Land Act of 1903, which states:

On the sale under the Land Purchase Acts of any land by the Land Commission, or of any land comprised in an estate by the owner of the estate, there shall be reserved, in the prescribed manner, to the commission the exclusive right of mining and taking minerals and digging and searching for minerals on or under that land, and the said right shall be disposed of by the commission in manner hereafter to be provided by Parliament.

If the Land Commission owns it, the tenant purchaser has paid for it already. The Minister surely does not tell me that when the Land Commission purchased the farm they fixed the purchase money on the basis of so many years purchase for the surface rights and paid that sum to the original owner? If the Land Commission got the mineral rights, they got them for nothing. If these rights are owned by the Land Commission, they are already paid for by the State, and the tenant purchaser is paying back the money to the State by means of his land purchase annuity. If the lands are not subject to the Land Purchase Acts, they are still in the ownership of people who got them probably by the Plantation Acts of 300 or 400 years ago. It strikes me as extraordinary that everybody is going to be paid for the mineral rights except the ordinary tenant purchaser. I cannot for a moment agree with the Minister that the tenant, by means of his land purchase annuity, is paying only for the surface value of the land. He is paying the Land Commission an annuity to pay off a debt in respect of moneys advanced by the Land Commission for whatever interest the landlord had in the land, whether it was surface rights, minerals, or anything else. If it were a question of sporting rights, it would be an entirely different matter, because you will find that these sporting rights were either specifically reserved by the Land Commission, were given to the tenant, or were withheld by the landlord.

If Deputy Corry, in 1903, became the tenant purchaser of his farm, and if the advance made for his farm was £1,000, he is now repaying by means of an annuity that £1,000. The annuity he is paying represents what he owes to the State for what they paid to the landlord, and they certainly did not pay the landlord any extra moneys for the mineral rights. On Deputy Cosgrave's assumption, an occasion may arise when the amount of compensation fixed will be less than the amount due to the Land Commission in respect of the redemption of the annuity. That reveals an extraordinary state of affairs. A time may come when the Land Commission may walk into the farm and say that the surface value of a farm is less than the balance due to the Land Commission in respect of the holding. I would prefer to see it stated bluntly that all these mines and mineral rights are the property of the State. One may say that that means you are going to take away from certain people property they have had for hundreds of years. I do not mind that very much, because there are other people who bought these rights from them and are paying for them by means of their annuities. I believe myself that the sooner you say that the mines and minerals are the property of the State the better.

The hard-lines story of Deputy Corry's widow with 20 acres makes me almost cry, and it urges me to impress upon the Minister that his Department should have some regard to the surface value of the land. I do not believe that any farmer should be paid compensation on the bare actual value of the surface of the land, and I hope that when the mining board come to assess compensation, they will take into account the fact that the farmer and his forbears have made a home on that farm for generations. I do not believe it is fair to any farmer to be walked out of his farm with compensation based on the actual surface value of the land. The compensation should be assessed on the basis of what it will take to reinstate that farmer on another farm of equal size and value, and what it will take to put that farm into some condition. We had an extraordinary story from Deputy Corry about this unfortunate widow from East Cork to whom people only paid 5/- every time they entered on her land. She had 20 acres of land, bounded on one side by the road and on the other by a mountain of silica. She was obviously a friend of Deputy Corry's, and I am sure a supporter of his, but she was not able to go to the High Court in Dublin. She was, I presume, a hard-working farmer, but all she had on the 20 acres was two cows, four goats and a donkey.

That is all.

That is an extraordinary story.

There are some aspects of this Bill which the Minister did not mention. We are all aware that there are minerals in this country, but the extent and value of them are very problematical. Some Deputies have stressed here, that although certain minerals were mined in Ireland, the people of Ireland could not get a sufficient supply of those minerals. Now, that may be quite possible, because it brings one to what is at the root of the development of a number of these minerals. Now, a mineral may be found in this country—and, mind you, it does seem that this is an auspicious time to go into the question of minerals because, in a lot of cases, they have considerably enhanced their value—but the difficulty is that these minerals have to undergo several processes before they are suitable for being used by the manufacturer. That, in most cases, is a highly specialised work which requires very expensive plant and equipment, and what happens is that the minerals that are developed over here have to be brought across to the other side, passed through certain processes over there, and then only a a small quantity is sent back. That brings me to one of the questions that I should like to ask the Minister. Is it contemplated under this Bill that if, say, some mineral were found here which did look as if the prospect of exploiting it would be profitable to the State or to the country, a duty would be put on supplies of that mineral coming into this country, so as to encourage mining of those minerals in this country? My reason for asking that question is that, if that is going to take place, a position somewhat analogous to that which arose in connection with certain manufacturers and the Government in their industrial policy will arise again in regard to this Minerals Bill.

I should like to put this up to the Minister. Let us say that there is a mineral found here that may look as if it would be a very profitable field for development, and then some change may take place as a result of which it might be found absolutely valueless. There are all sorts of hazards to be taken into consideration, such as changes of manufacture, changes in the taste of the people, and so on, which make wonderful differences in the demand for certain commodities. Take, for instance—I have only taken this at random—some valuable deposit of coal being discovered in this country, and let us say that the Government saw fit to put a duty on the import of coal into this country in order to protect the mining of coal here. I take it, of course, that the effects on other industries would be examined. In fact, I am afraid they would have to be examined more carefully than some of the reflex actions which took place under the protection granted to manufacturers at present in this country. Another thing that I should like to ask the Minister is whether he can give us some assurance that there is nothing else but the mining rights contemplated being handed over to any person. If the State is going to undertake mining, of course that is their hazard, and if an individual is going to undertake it, of course, he undertakes it at his own risk; but in any case, if we are going to have duties imposed, you are entering into a very serious field for speculation, and I should like the Minister to assure us that it was only the protection of the mining that was concerned and that people would not be allowed to step outside of that and take on the distribution or, in other words, the rest of what is concerned in the placing of those minerals in the hands of the inhabitants of this country.

By way of illustration, let us say that coal, for instance, were found in this country and that it was decided to put a prohibitory tariff on the import of coal. What I mean is that the distribution and the sale of that coal should not be given to the manufacturer or to the person who was mining the coal. I have only used that by way of illustration because, probably, the Minister knows perfectly well what I mean when I say that, in certain industries, by reason of protection, the manufacturers, instead of confining themselves to their own end of the business, which is manufacture, have really gone in for the distribution and sale end which belonged to the native Irish long before the manufacturer was brought on the scene. If that is going to take place by reason of the provisions of this Minerals Bill I think that some people might yet live to curse this Bill and its provisions. Accordingly, I should like to ask the Minister how far he can give us any information as to whether any protective duties would be imposed in support of the mining interests of people engaged in mining these minerals in this country, and, if so, if rigid safeguards would be provided to prevent these people from encroaching on the legitimate business of other people who have been engaged in the distribution and sale of those products. I think, Sir, that these are all the matters I wish to raise in connection with this Bill, and I hope the Minister will deal with them in his reply.

I think that most of the Deputies who have spoken on this Bill forgot or, perhaps, did not hear me say, that, with the exception of possibly three main provisions and a slight adaptation of the terminology here and there, this Bill is merely a recasting of the Mines and Minerals Act of 1931. The principal changes have been, first, in relation to Section 4 of the Act of 1931, under which the question as to whether a certain substance was or was not a mineral vested in the Land Commission, upon the vesting of the land, fell to be determined by the Land Commission. I pointed out that this procedure had this disadvantage—first of all it held up the person who was anxious to work minerals, and in one case it led to prolonged litigation which ultimately ended in the Supreme Court.

In order to avoid that in future, we propose to amend Section 4 of the Act of 1931 and to set out definitely and specifically in the Schedule to the Bill a list of the mineral substances which would be regarded as vested in the State under the Land Acts. That is the first change. The second change was this: the Act of 1931 failed to make sufficient practical distinction between the prospecting for minerals and the working of the mineral deposits with the consequence that persons who wanted to find out whether, in fact, there was a mineral under the soil and, further, whether it was there in sufficient quantities to make the working of it a commercial proposition, found themselves involved in the same troubles, formalities, expense and delay as if they were looking for a mining lease and were satisfied that, in fact, there was a mineral deposit there and that it was in sufficient quantity to make the working of it a commercial proposition.

The first change that we propose to make is this: first of all, we propose to issue a prospecting licence which will enable a person to go in on land where the Minister is satisfied that there is reasonable ground for doing so, and where he is satisfied, as pointed out under Section 9 of the Bill, as to the character of the applicant for the prospecting licence, his financial standing and technical qualifications; and where the applicant is prepared to give security for the due fulfilment of his obligations under the licence. In these circumstances the Minister may give a licence to that person to go in, provided that he pays compensation for whatever damage he may do by way of disturbance or injury to the surface of the land. At the same time there are reserved to the owner of the land whatever rights he has in his mineral deposit if the prospector finds that such a deposit in fact exists.

We have been listening to what Deputies Brasier and Corry have said about this Bill and the damage that was going to be done to the poor widow, and now, when we consider the position in the light of what I told the Dáil, what do we find? First of all, the prospector takes the trouble of applying for a prospecting licence. He has to satisfy the Minister that he is, in fact, competent to prospect for the mineral. Then he comes to the place where he thinks the mineral is, to the place where the owner had no idea there was a mineral at all, or, if he thought there was, was not prepared to take the trouble and undergo the expense of satisfying himself that it was there and in paying quantities. Then this qualified prospector walks in and does what the owner of the land failed to do for himself and does it with this risk, that if he does any damage to the surface of the land he is to compensate the owner of the land. Even then the owner of the land retains all his rights to the minerals if they happen to be there. We are told that that is a great hardship on the poor widow. The person who is going to get substantial benefit out of this successful prospecting is the person who has the ownership of the mineral. In the light of that I fail to understand why there should be all this pother about the way the farm is going to be ruined or about the way in which this or that thing is going to be done by the prospector.

We are told of the harm that is going to be done by those people who are going to rush in here. The Government has been urged from time to time to develop our mineral wealth; in fact, the Government has been criticised from time to time for not doing enough to develop the mineral deposits of this country. In my view, some people have somewhat exaggerated ideas about the value of these deposits. But here, where we have the Government taking to heart the admonitions of those people who want to see the resources of this country developed, and where we are coming along and taking the first step, then immediately we are assailed by Deputies who have not read or studied the Bill. We are assailed as if we were doing something that was wrong and something that was calculated to injure the general interests of the people.

I am not going to be led into a byway about the Cloyne Colloidal Clay Company and as to why it was not able to supply silica to the native company which asked for it. I am sure there are rather a whole lot of aspects to that question. But the Cloyne Colloidal Clay Company and the State have sunk a great deal of money in this silica deposit. Not merely have the State sunk a great deal of money in it, but the founders and promoters of the company themselves have sunk very substantial sums of between £20,000 and £30,000 in that company in order to prove the value of that so-called silica deposit. One of their difficulties was that they believed that they had silica in a form in which it is very rare, but they failed first of all to find a use for that silica. They had to discover a process which would make it of commercial utility. They had to prove to the pottery manufacturers in other areas that, in fact, they would be justified in changing over the whole of their traditional processes so as to be able to use this silica from Cork. If they had succeeded in that, and if they had induced a number of pottery manufacturers of Great Britain to utilise this Cork silica, there would be no unemployment to-day in East Cork. The company, however, set out to try to do that, and sunk a great deal of their own money in the project. We felt bound to support them by a Trades Loan Guarantee. I do not know what the ultimate future of the company is to be. It may be that the company has been mismanaged. I have no rights of investigation into the matter. But it has got to be remembered that the working of these deposits was a purely experimental one, and when a quantity of mineral was taken from one place and found to be unsatisfactory for the purpose the owners of the mining rights had in view, why they had to go to another part of their deposits and see whether the minerals there would be more suitable. In the light of that fact, I think the attacks which were made upon these men were most uncalled for. These pioneers, whether lawyers or university professors, sunk over £20,000 of their own money in trying to exploit these minerals. I want to say that the attacks made on them are not likely to encourage other persons who have money and ideas to go ahead and try to carry out not the Government programme, but the people's programme, the programme of every Party in the State—to try to develop whatever resources are in the country.

The next important difference between this Bill and the Act of 1931 lies in the fact that we have found that, for one reason or another, ordinary private individuals in this country are unwilling to risk their capital in developing such mineral deposits as we have. That is, perhaps, due to the ill-starred history of mineral development in this country. Hundreds and thousands of pounds have been lost in it. The difficulties in the way of developing our minerals and of bringing them to the places where they are likely to be of commercial use are very great. After the ten years which have elapsed since the Mines and Minerals Act, 1931, was put on the Statute Book, we have had to come to the conclusion that it may be necessary for the State to step in and acquire minerals where we believe they are valuable, where we believe they could be worked, but where they are not being worked, or where they are not being worked efficiently, in order that we may try to make the best use possible of these deposits. That is the third important difference between this Bill and the Act of 1931.

Another difference—it is not of such great importance—is that a person can get a mining permission to go in and, without actually going through the, perhaps, somewhat expensive process of prospecting, have the right to take away a limited quantity of mineral in order that he may make a preliminary test. With these four exceptions, I think that the Bill now before the House substantially re-enacts the Mines and Minerals Act, of 1931. With the four exceptions I have mentioned, I am not asking the House to adopt any new principle in relation to our mines and minerals code. My predecessor having consulted the legal advisers felt, on the whole, that in view of the number of very minor alterations which experience has shown to be desirable in the existing Act, it would be much better and much more convenient to have the whole of this mines and minerals code in one Act for easy reference, rather than to bring in an amending Bill with all the difficulties which reference would involve for the lay people who, in the first instance at any rate, would be concerned with this Act. That is why, instead of an amending Bill, we have a Bill which consolidates the new provisions with the old and repeals the Act of 1931.

Deputy Cosgrave asked me a couple of questions in relation to the mining board with which I should like to deal. Nine applications for mining rights were made to the board set up under the 1931 Act; eight of these were granted and the other was withdrawn; in that case the issue was settled by agreement. In six of the cases where rights were granted compensation was granted by the board; in the other two cases it was settled by agreement. The board is not at all an expensive board. I think those who are on it are only paid a daily fee for the days upon which it sits. In so far as its composition is concerned, that was settled by the Act of 1931, and I do not propose to change it. The probabilities are that a lawyer was put on because questions of title and of legal interpretation might arise; that an arbitrator was put on because questions of land compensation would arise; and I suppose an officer of my Department was put on because he was familiar with the Act and perhaps because, since a third person had to be found, it was as good to have an officer familiar with the working of the code and with the general policy of the Minister and of the Government as to have any other person. That is how the board came to be constituted.

Another point was the question of the omission of the word "wilful" in relation to giving a misleading return. I am not sure whether that is of very great import. Perhaps, if it were found to be, it might simply mean this: that there are certain circumstances in which it would be difficult to prove wilfulness, even though wilfulness did in fact exist, and perhaps the word "wilful" has been left out by the draftsman in consideration of that position. I do not think it makes very much practical difference to the operation of the code.

Question put and agreed to.

When is it proposed to take the Committee Stage?

I should like to get it now.

Has there been any arrangement about it?

I understood from Deputy Smith that I would get all the stages to-day.

Very good.

Agreed: That the Committee and remaining stages be taken now.