Skip to main content
Normal View

Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 2 Jun 1948

Vol. 111 No. 2

Committee on Finance. - Vote 52—Lands (Resumed).

I covered some of the matters in connection with the Land Commission the other night and I was answering some charges made by Government Deputies. Under the 1933 Land Act the Minister for Lands at that time divested himself of any patronage power that he had. Under Part II, Section 6, of the Land Act of 1933, the Land Commission have to deal with the following matters: Determination of persons for whom land is acquired or resumed; determination of the actual lands to be acquired or resumed; determination of the price to be paid for the lands so acquired or resumed; determination of the persons to be selected as allottees of untenanted land; determination of new holding which is to be provided for a tenant or proprietor whose holding has been acquired by the Land Commission; determination of whether or not a holding has been used by the tenant thereof as an ordinary farmer in accordance with proper methods of husbandry. I wonder why, if Fianna Fáil wanted complete authority, the Minister for Lands in that Government decided to introduce this 1933 Land Act.

I do not know any place in my constituency where Land Commission inspectors have been hampered in doing their duty or where they have consulted public men or public men have consulted them. The position is that, if we carried on as the previous Minister carried on, he had complete authority to allot land to anybody he liked. Under this Act, full authority was vested in the Land Commission. An inspector made his report and that went on to the divisional inspector and to the Land Commission. That was the way things were done. I do not know the political affiliations of the people who got land in my constituency, but the majority of them, at any rate, were not with us. I hold that it is right to give land to them because they were entitled to it. I think that statement should remove the suspicions of some of the young Deputies on the Government side of the House.

There is another point which I should like the Minister to take serious cognisance of. If possible, I should like to see more money given to the Minister for Lands to carry out this work which I hold is sadly neglected. I am referring to the bad roads leading into a number of these holdings on divided land. A number of these roads are really only prairie tracks. Time and again representations were made about these matters. When the Minister was in opposition, he often tried to embarrass the Minister for Lands by speaking on this matter and he continually made points about the bad roads leading to divided land. I hold that more money should be allocated to the Department of Lands and that they should try to put these roads in a proper condition because in their present state they can hardly be called roads at all. They are just tracks, prairie tracks or anything else you like to call them.

Another matter in which I am interested is that of poultry farming. In County Dublin at the present moment there are a number of people who are carrying on poultry farming.

That is a matter for the Minister for Agriculture.

I am talking about the allocation of land for these people. I know some of them who have applied for land and, strange to say, they are not members of the Fianna Fáil Party. I think they have something to do with the Minister's Party.

That is an awful disaster.

It is. Really they are members of the Minister's Party.

How did that come about?

Representations have been made by the poultry instructor for County Dublin with a view to getting land for these people. Application was made for land in one case, but it could not be considered because the applicant happened to be a woman.

You gave the reason. They were in the wrong Party.

I am interested in them anyway because I think they are first-class poultry farmers. The lady to whom I refer is a Miss Weston and she is one of the best poultry farmers in the country. If she got land it would be developed in such a way as to become a model farm. She is doing very fine work and I do not see why any section of the Land Act of 1933 or any other Land Act should prevent a person of that type from developing a national industry. I should like the Minister seriously to consider applicants of that type, provided they can make a good case. I would suggest that the Minister should take a note of these cases, because I think it is most essential that this industry should be encouraged and it cannot be developed unless the people engaged in it have sufficient land. Some of them are confined to an acre or half an acre of land and they cannot develop the industry properly under conditions of that kind. Enterprising people of that type should be provided with sufficient land.

Again I would impress upon the Minister, if he intends to acquire lands in County Dublin, that we have numerous uneconomic holders in the county. I should like the Minister to consider the acquisition of some of the large holdings. We have holdings up to 1,000 acres in County Dublin, and the owners of these holdings live, not in the county, but somewhere else. On the other hand, there are instances in which people are paying from £14 to £22 per statute acre for conacre. If the Minister is now about to resume the acquisition of land, I should like him to remember those people who are an asset to the nation as a whole so that we should provide them with an opportunity of carrying on their very useful work.

There are a few isolated cases of people who got some land but who for some reason or other did not fully avail of it. Under an Act passed by the Fianna Fáil Government, the land can be taken from them. I agree that in some instances it is essential to take land off people who will not make proper use of it, but in the few isolated cases in my constituency—they happen to be in the north-west part of the county—I understand that some of these people were unable to cultivate their land owing to sickness and they are now about to lose it, five acres in one case and seven in another. While I recognise that the Minister has power to acquire the land, I should not like to see him responsible for creating any severe hardship amongst the people concerned. They should get an opportunity of making good if they are able to do so.

Another point to which I referred on the last occasion on which I spoke has reference to drainage. The Minister may say that he has no responsibility for it but I am holding him responsible because I hold that since he collects rents or annuities on the land he should at least take an interest in the matter. I know it can be said that the Arterial Drainage Act does not apply to my constituency but there is a considerable area of land flooded there, especially during the winter. A very small expenditure would be sufficient to clean the rivers and so allow the people to utilise these lands for tillage. I was told recently in reply to a question I put down, that the Arterial Drainage Act did not apply to Dublin. In the old days the Congested Districts Board did a lot of useful work, cleaning small rivers. In the areas which I have in mind there is no necessity for employing up-to-date machinery. It is just a matter of cleaning up the rivers which open into the sea. I suggest to the Minister that, if he has no money at his disposal for that purpose and if his inspectors recommend the work, there should be sufficient cohesion between his Department and other Departments to enable them to deal with matters of that kind. I have got repeated complaints and I have investigated a number of them. At present such schemes are nobody's children. The Arterial Drainage Act does not apply to them and the county council will have nothing to do with them. Surely the Land Commission which is collecting the rent of these lands, should have some responsibility in the matter. I would strongly suggest to the Minister that he should see if he can do anything about it.

Did the Deputy pay a visit to the Office of Public Works in the matter?

I did and I was told that they could avail of the rural improvements scheme. I know all about that——

You are just wondering whether you can stampede me into doing it.

The trouble with the rural improvements scheme is that while three or four people may agree to have the work done, one or two others will not agree, hence the work cannot go on. The Minister is well aware of the position in a number of areas. When the Minister was in opposition here he was most sympathetic in matters of this kind. Now that he is Minister I hope that his sympathies will be put into concrete effect. I am sure he will give serious consideration to a matter of this kind. He was very hard on his predecessor——

I was what?

I suppose you were a bit critical anyway.

Perhaps that is a more accurate description.

Mr. Burke

There is another matter that I shall raise with the Minister on some future occasion. I do not wish to refer to it now. On the last point I raised, I hope sincerely that the Minister will do something about it or endeavour to find some way out of the present difficulty. If one man refuses the work cannot go on. Perhaps if the Minister intervened it would bring about more co-operation on the part of the tenants.

I am indebted to the Minister for giving me the cue in his speech to the House on this Vote on the Land Commission. He made a reference at the end of his speech to Michael Davitt. That was perhaps only to be expected. Davitt was a child of the soil of County Mayo just as the Minister is a child of the soil of County Mayo. I think history will credit Michael Davitt with putting the Land Law (Ireland) Act of 1881 on the Statute Book. Under Section 41 of the Land Law (Ireland) Act of 1881 the Land Commission was set up. In 1923 we took over the Land Commission holus bolus with all its obligations, powers and privileges. Candidly, I have never been able to understand what the powers of the Land Commission are or what the duties of the Land Commission are. There is no doubt that the Land League forced Gladstone to set up the machinery under which the land of Ireland was taken from the absentee and resident landlords and passed on to the tenants. Having vested or revested the land in the tenants I do not know exactly what function the Land Commission has after that. It is now 67 years since the Land Commission was established. It is 25 years since we took it over. Yet, we are continuing to-day just as merrily as if we had only taken it over yesterday. What has the Land Commission done in the last 25 years? Has it vested and revested the land? The Minister in his speech to the House said that the work last year achieved a record output of 16,354 holdings and allotments revested in the tenants and allottees as compared with the output of 10,192 vested during the previous year. That may represent satisfactory progress but, as the Minister pointed out, there are still arrears of some 58,000 holdings of tenanted land awaiting revesting in the tenants as well as 37,000 parcels of untenanted land which has yet to be vested in the allottees. Surely, that is a tremendous amount of work. On that basis it cannot be said that the work done in the 25 years is anything like commensurate with what ought to have been done during that period.

There is a good deal of land still to be vested and a good deal of land still to be divided. I am forced to the conclusion that the Land Commission is not using the power it has and is not using the machinery it has to carry out the work it is intended to do. There are many thousands of acres of land in this country still to be divided. Altogether there are something like 381,000 farms in this country. I would ask the Minister to tell us definitely how many of these are vested in the tenants at the moment and how many have to be vested. Surely, the major portion of that work ought to be done at the present time. The Land Commission, I am afraid, is somewhat of an anachronism. It is like a hang-over from mediæval times. It is the equivalent of erecting a Norman tower in a modern village. In five or ten years the Land Commission ought to disappear completely. It should then be replaced by some kind of rural development organisation. Possibly the Land Commission itself could evolve into such an organisation. The work of the Land Commission ought to be done in the next five years.

In regard to the division of land, I think the main difficulty is that there has not been a proper pattern upon which to work. The Land Commission has never set itself a definite target or cut out a detailed pattern of its work. Land has been left over from general election to general election either to keep the people quiet or to keep them in anticipation. I do not blame any particular Government or Party for that. I make no exception either of the recent Government or the more ancient one.

For which much thanks.

I am not blaming Deputy Moylan for that. Both Governments had the same habit. They kept the land over from general election to general election, and that is one of the reasons why a good deal of land is still untenanted and to a great extent unproductive. The Land Commission is not making full use of the land in its possession. There are acres of land waiting to be distributed. Those acres are not being utilised to their fullest extent. The people operating on behalf of the Land Commission are not under the necessity of securing a livelihood as allottees would be if the land were given to them. Therefore maximum production is not got from the land. The Minister should set himself a definite target and within the next five years of his office he should distribute all the land and set the machinery in motion for vesting and revesting the land in those who are entitled to it. I read the Minister's speech and I got an impression from it that the Minister does not intend in future to allow political influence to control the division of land in this State. I am glad that he nods acquiescence, because that has been one of the causes of the great delays in the division of land since we got a National Government in this country. I would suggest to the Minister in all earnestness that there are on the shelves and in the drawers of the Land Commission plans and schemes for land distribution. I would be inclined to suspect that every one of these plans or schemes was influenced by politics. I would ask the Minister not alone to ignore political policies and patronage in this matter, but in the future to submit these blueprints to an independent survey by a senior inspector of his Department, or even by himself, to ensure that no political influence will be brought to bear on the distribution of lands.

Is the Deputy referring to schemes that are not yet put into operation?

Exactly—schemes that are prepared and that are, possibly, in the Minister's office. These ought to be subjected to a fine-comb examination before they are put into operation. I need only refer to one scheme in Clare about which representations have been made by many people, namely, the division of the Dromore farm at Ruan, County Clare. The Minister himself has promised to look into the distribution of these lands. Nobody except those people who acquired the land agrees that it has been properly distributed. There is a good deal of pronounced dissatisfaction not alone in the area itself but outside it in regard to the distribution of these lands.

There has been talk about landless men and I know that in this connection the Minister is up against a difficulty. He said, I think, in his statement that he was interested in the relief of congestion and in making farms economic. The Minister should examine each case on its merits. He will find in the case of an estate of 300 or 400 acres that surrounding it or close by it there are 20 or 30 cottiers. These people have been there all their lives or the greater part of their lives and their people before them have lived in that area. Is the Minister going to pass over these applicants in the division of the estate and bring in people who, he thinks, are more entitled to it than those 20 or 30 cottiers, or maybe less, who live on the verge of the estate? Therefore, before the Minister makes any sweeping generalisations in respect of landless men he should give the case of each of these applicants a thorough examination on its merits and make his decision accordingly.

Another matter which, I think, comes under the control of the Minister is this much-debated question of turf. I am not going to go into the whole question because I think I heard someone talking about turf in this House within the past fortnight.

There was a mention of it.

What I am going to refer to is that bogs were revalued in the light of their production of turf. If the Minister has nothing to do with the matter I shall pass over this point.

I have not; it is a matter for the Department of Finance.

Before I conclude I should like to ask the Minister why his Department has dropped the erection of houses. My information is that the Land Commission are not at the moment erecting houses. It is hardly necessary for me to emphasise the necessity for the erection of houses in view of the present shortage. The Minister should consider the advisability of starting a housing scheme on the lands he has divided.

My main point is that the Minister should set himself a target in regard to the distribution, the vesting, and the revesting of land. He should also have before him a pattern as to what land ought to be divided. He should keep that target before him and complete the work of getting rid of the mediæval structure of the Land Commission and, instead, give us something in line with modern thought such as a rural improvement scheme or a rural development scheme which this country badly needs as against urban development at the present time.

Last year, when I was speaking on the Estimate, I suggested that there should be a complete survey of the entire policy in regard to land acquisition and division. Deputy Hogan also has more or less stressed that point.

First, I believe that a survey would need to be on a much wider scale than Deputy Hogan has suggested. During the past 25 years there has been no attempt made to estimate what is the problem in regard to land division, what is the number of people who are eligible to obtain holdings, and what is the amount of land which may be acquired for division. The whole position has been left in a state of indecision, and in a state of chaos. Mind you, that state of vagueness and that state of chaos are good from a Party point of view. It enables the Deputy, or the would-be Deputy, or the Party organiser to tell anyone or everyone who comes looking for land that they are eligible. The number of people who are eligible for land in this country is enormous, because practically everybody who has any land is eligible. I would like the Minister to pay attention to this particular aspect at the present time.

The Minister will bear in mind that about ten years ago there was established in this country a Banking Commission which inquired into the whole question of land purchase and division. He will remember that the then secretary of his Department gave evidence before that commission and was asked what was the number of people who were qualified to receive land under the existing land distribution schemes. He gave as his estimate that there were 500,000 people eligible to receive land. I want the Minister to dwell upon that figure. I may quote the relevant chapter of the Banking Commission Report which refers to this particular matter—paragraph 507 of the Banking Commission Report, 1938, says:—

"The situation which now confronts the Land Commission, as described in the evidence of Mr. Deegan (Q. 9631, etc.), is that the possible claimants for land from the Land Commission comprise 250,000 congests and 250,000 landless men. These are obviously maximum figures and should be taken only as pointing to the extent of the demand that has been opened up...."

The Minister will bear in mind that a demand has been opened up for land which no Minister for Lands can possibly meet. I think it is criminal folly to continue the present indecisive system of land acquisition and division.

Long ago I was pressing the Minister's predecessor in relation to this matter. I suggest an estimate should be made of the people entitled to land and the amount of land available for them. Another estimate should be made of those from whom land may be taken. Under the present system of land acquisition and division, you can take land from practically anybody in this country. The Banking Commission went very fully into this matter and a warning was issued in 1937 of the serious danger we were running into in allowing the existing condition of affairs to continue, but even yet nothing has been done about it.

Last year, when I was speaking on this Estimate, I said there was no use in getting rid of Fianna Fáil, with all their corruption, if they were to be replaced by a Party following the same tactics. I did not expect then that Fianna Fáil would disappear so quickly as a Government. I wonder if the present Minister will follow the same lines as were followed by Fianna Fáil, or will he make a complete change? The only change he can make is to remove land division from political influence. There is no use in people saying that the Land Commission acts independently of the Minister in the matter of acquisition and division. We all know that in these matters the Land Commission acts under political pressure. Question after question has been asked in this House as to why the Land Commission will not acquire this or that farm. Initial pressure is brought by political Parties upon the Land Commission.

If the Land Commission were an independent body there could not be a question submitted here as to why they did or did not acquire a particular holding, because they would be as independent as the judiciary. The position is, of course, that it has suited political Parties for the past 25 years to keep land division subject to political control. It has this advantage, that it enables whatever Party is in power, when building up its organisation, to promise every person looking for land that he will be given land. Parties can promise that if John Citizen joins the organisation he will get the land he wants. They can promise the substantial farmer who has land that he is afraid may be acquired, that if he joins their political organisation he will be immune from interference. You have a twofold advantage under the present system for the Government in power.

Is the Minister prepared to recognise how unjust that system is as between one individual and another? There is a law of distributive justice and a law of equity as between one citizen and another. It is the duty of the Government to abide by that law. No Minister has a right, simply because there is political pressure put upon him, to acquire one man's holding compulsorily as against the holding of another. Every question must be decided on its merits. How can the question of land division be decided on its merits at present? The Land Commission have no organisation to survey every farm and make a judicial decision as to why John Murphy's farm should be acquired as against John Kelly's farm. The decision is based mainly on pressure.

I think it was one of the Minister's predecessors who said, when he was asked why he did not acquire a particular holding, that there was no local agitation for the acquisition of it. I do not know what he meant by agitation, whether he meant simply getting a question asked here, or the maiming of a few cattle, or firing into a house. He said that agitation did not exist and, therefore, there was no necessity for the Land Commission to act in regard to that farm. I think this corrupt system has gone on long enough. I do not like using the word "corrupt," because it has been abused considerably over a number of years, but the system of political favouritism in regard to land acquisition and division must end.

The Banking Commission report, paragraph 509, refers to security of tenure. It says:

"Great importance attaches to the question of security of tenure. This must always remain a fundamental factor in a healthy agricultural system. It is, in particular, the best type of farmer who thinks of adding to his capital investment in agriculture that is most affected by this consideration."

We all recognise the importance of meeting the claims of uneconomic holders, particularly those uneconomic holders who form what is known as a congested district. That refers to a group of uneconomic holders clustered close together. That is a definition of what a congested district means. We all recognise the desirability and justice of meeting their claims. On the other hand, we must recognise the importance of preserving security of tenure in land. Our policy should be to seek to relieve congestion, as far as we can, without infringing upon or destroying security of tenure. If the Government are guided by that consideration, then no harm will be done, but if they are to drift on from year to year yielding to political pressure in regard to the compulsory acquisition of land, there is absolutely no hope that we will ever reach finality or a true solution of the problem that we have to face.

You must remember that away back in 1909 the Dudley Commission inquired into the question of the relief of congestion, land acquisition and distribution. They confined themselves mainly to what was known as the congested districts. They estimated that there were 80,000 congests to be relieved, but I think that they were confining themselves mainly to the counties along the western seaboard in which the Congested Districts Board operated. To-day we have the head of the Minister's Department estimating that there are 250,000 congests and in addition to that during recent years we have opened up the demand from landless men which amounts also to 250,000 people. We must remember that, although the claims of the landless men are being met, even the granting of parcels of land to 500,000 people does not solve the problem, because we will always have a new generation of landless men, as the sons of the newly-established farmers come to manhood. They would also require land and would be equally entitled to receive a parcel of land. By their incompetence they have allowed this policy to be dominated by politics and Party considerations and that is the unfortunate position which the Minister has got to deal with now. There are several ways by which he can deal with it. I would suggest that the first thing he ought to do would be to re-establish security of tenure. He should tell the farmers of this country that they are the owners of their land and, having purchased their land under the various Land Acts and being the established owners of it, they have won rights of ownership that will not be interfered with. If the Land Commission requires land, as they do, let them buy it by voluntary agreement. I think the Minister himself referred to this matter last year.

If I may interrupt the Deputy, what greater security of tenure can the farmers have than when the Land Commission hands them over, in the act of vesting, complete ownership of the land?

The Land Commission gives a farmer a certain holding, but any Deputy can come into this House and ask why the land is not acquired for division and the Land Commission can immediately put the machinery into operation for the compulsory acquisition of that land and therefore destroy the complete value of the certificate. I would ask the Minister to throw his mind back, as far back as 1909, when the matter was first opened up. When the 1909 Act was going through the British House of Commons, the late John Dillon said:—

"All of us who understand the working of these Acts in Ireland look to the compulsory machinery as one which will rarely be put in force and which will only be put in force in special and exceptional circumstances.... I am convinced that the compulsory powers need not be put in force in perhaps more than a couple of dozen cases when dealing with some of the wild landlords like Lord Clanrickarde and the result will be that the whole of the rest of the land of the country will be sold under the voluntary system."

Further, the British Attorney-General stated:—

"It is not the intention of the Government that land purchased under the Land Purchase Acts should be purchased under this clause."

Then Mr. Dillon, who was representing the Irish farmers in the British House of Commons, said:—

"I strongly hold that there should be some finality in this matter. Once the land has passed under the Purchase Acts there should be no more interference and Ireland should be restored to comparative freedom in these matters in dealing with the land."

Would the Deputy state what he is quoting from?

I am quoting from Index 25 of the Banking Commission Report. Mr. Birrell stated:—

"We may take it as the settled policy of the Government not to interfere with or take away compulsorily land which has been bought under the Land Purchase Act."

Now that is very clear and very definite. We want to know what is the policy——

What Government was dealing with land then?

I am quoting from a speech made by one of the leaders of the Irish Party in the British House of Commons who was fighting for the rights of the farming community.

Yes, in other words, it was the British Parliament.

As we all know, the British were then the Government of this country. The position is that in the 25 years of native government we have had since this State was established no real progress has been made. We have less people actually working and living on the land now than we had when the State was established. We have less production from the land after all this meddling and interfering with the ownership of farms.

I think that the Minister has a problem there which he can solve if he faces it courageously. The main obstacle, the main difficulty to the Minister making progress with regard to land division is the fact that there has been a policy to acquire land that passed through the Land Acts and was vested in Irish farmers, by compulsory measures. If the Minister wants land—as he does want land—for the relief of congestion, he can purchase it by voluntary agreement. One of the reasons that it is not possible to purchase land by voluntary agreement now is that the Land Commission has put almost insurmountable obstacles in the way of farmers who want to sell their land to the Land Commission. I know one farmer who had an out-farm which he has been trying to sell to the Land Commission for the last eight years, but although it was eminently suitable for division, he did not manage to sell it. In addition, we know that if a farmer were to offer some land to the Land Commission there would be inspector after inspector coming down to examine the land, and delay after delay; the farmer would receive letters in Civil Service diction or idiom which he would not be able to translate into ordinary English telling him what the Land Commission were going to do, and as a result of all that the farmer would lose his patience and sell the land to somebody else. Why do the Land Commission not adopt a businesslike way of doing things and send down a buyer to tell the farmer what the net cash price is that they are going to give him? If they did that, they would get as much land as they liked and there would be none of this anxiety and uneasiness with regard to compulsion. On last year's Estimate the Minister advocated the voluntary purchase of land and the least he could do is to give the system a trial. I am not asking the Minister to introduce legislation. I am not asking him to re-establish security of tenure right away. I would rather see him by his administrative policy establish security of tenure, and he can do it.

The Minister for Agriculture on a number of occasions has announced that it is the policy of the Government to keep outside the farmers' fences. If that is the policy of the Government, then you must rule out compulsory acquisition. The Minister for Industry and Commerce last year strongly advocated a complete review of the whole policy of the Land Commission which, he said, was leading nowhere and making confusion more confounded. By way of comparison, I mentioned last year that Denmark has been frequently held up to us as a country where immense agricultural progress has been made, where the volume of output is extremely high. Yet, the distribution of land there is very similar to the distribution here. In proportion to the population, you have as many small, medium and large-sized farms. Therefore, getting the last ounce of productivity out of the land, making the land better, more productive and more fertile does not depend entirely on its redistribution. It depends on other factors, and one of the factors is the preservation of the farmer's rights to security in his holding. The farmer who is secure in the possession of his holding can put his savings into his land, knowing that it is an investment which he can pass on to his successor. If he knows that the Land Commission will not acquire his land, he can develop his land and make it better.

The Minister may say that there is no danger, at the rate of progress which the Land Commission are making, that security of tenure will seriously be interfered with and that, having regard to the amount of money provided each year for land purchase, there is no real danger. But the danger lies in the fact that you have opened up a demand for the distribution of land by making a large percentage of our people eligible for divided land. Those of us who listen at Question Time in this House know that there are repeated demands for the acquisition of various farms. Sometimes we see some farm brought up again and again. Under the Party system, we know that there is always a danger of a vendetta arising in regard to land division; that the supporters of the Government which happens to be in power may be immune from interference during the life of that Government, but when there is a change of Government these people will be the first victims.

I think that the remedy lies in the Minister's hands. He has got to put the weapon of compulsory acquisition completely out of his reach. Having done that, he has got to set up machinery for voluntary acquisition; that is to say, he has got to get some efficient businessman who will deal with ordinary farmers in the way that ordinary farmers should be dealt with, namely, in a straightforward way and purchase the land from them by voluntary means. Then, when it comes to distribution, that distribution must be completely outside the Minister's Department. There must be a judicial body which must sit and consider the claims of various applicants.

In addition to that, there ought to be a segregation or classification of the type of people entitled to receive land so as to give this judicial body proper terms of reference. You must define clearly what type of uneconomic holders are to get land. You must define very clearly whether or not a landless person is to be eligible. You must define what is to be done with the employees on the farms and estates that are purchased. That independent judicial body set up to distribute land must be given these terms of reference. They must be told exactly what type of people are to get land and they must make their decisions quite independent of all political influence. That is the only way that the rights of applicants will be safeguarded and that the rights of existing land owners will be safeguarded.

The Minister knows that when I happened to be a member of his Party we frequently clashed in our views in regard to this question of land division. I held the view very strongly that the desirable and necessary provision of additional parcels of land for uneconomic holders should not be allowed to undermine completely the farmer's security of tenure. I held the view also, and the Minister agreed with me at the time, that Deputies should not come into this House and ask that such-and-such a man's holding should be acquired. That is a matter which I intend to raise at the Committee on Procedure and Privileges at a later date and I shall not go into it very fully. I think, however, that very grave injustice will be done to individual farmers by raising publicly in this House a question as to whether or not their land should be compulsorily acquired. That is a matter which will have to be dealt with. The Minister agreed with me at the time upon that point, but I notice since that members of his Party have continued the practice of mentioning farmers' names in this House whose land they think the Land Commission should acquire. Evidently the Minister has changed his view upon that question.

I do not want to go into various matters which arise on this Estimate— the details of policy about land. I think it is better to get the guiding principles established, because there are no guiding principles at present. The Minister has got to accept the fact that at present there are no principles guiding land acquisition and division. There is nothing except the policy of getting the maximum political advantage out of land acquisition and division. I think the Minister will be doing a great work, not only for agriculture, but for the nation generally if he will put this question on a sound basis. He should do away with compulsory acquisition and put the distribution on land in the hands of a fair and impartial tribunal. If the Minister is not prepared to take that step at the moment, I have one other alternative to offer—that he should set up a commission with a definite time limit of six months—I do not believe in commissions that sit for years—to survey this whole question, and give him a report so that he will be in a position in 12 months' time to come in here with a policy which has been carefully considered and based upon facts which have been accurately ascertained.

The question of land division is one that intimately affects my constituency. It is a problem that I intend to approach, perhaps to the surprise of the Opposition, on a purely non-political basis, because I feel that no Deputy can find himself completely blameless in that he did not at some stage make representation to the Land Commission about the division of land.

A Deputy

Why should they not?

I do not see any reason why they should not. It is not the fault of any Deputy or indeed of any Minister. I thoroughly agree with what Deputy Hogan said, that the Land Commission is a completely archaic and out-of-date machine. It has never in my opinion fulfilled the function for which it was conceived. In the first place I think the whole idea was conceived in a wrong atmosphere. It was conceived, as Deputy O'Rourke practically indicated, in an alien situation when there was a queer idea of how to get over Irish land difficulties but, bad and all as the Land Commission may be, I find myself in a dilemma in trying to suggest to the Minister a way out of his difficulties.

I think that it can be said that Deputy Moylan, no matter from what motives he acted, certainly did get an impetus at one stage behind the Land Commission and that something was done. I am not going to discredit that effort but I feel that under the new Government, possibly with the combination of Parties that support the Government, and with ordinary Deputies reacting in the right spirit to the problem of land division, there might be a greater impetus put behind the new Minister. But that is only at best a piecemeal and patchwork approach to one of the most serious problems we have in this country. There is a necessity for some kind of proper survey of land in this country on three bases—firstly, lands that are not being properly or adequately worked; secondly, what I might describe as the virtually untenanted lands that are still available for acquisition and, thirdly, the question of the number of people in this country who are at present occupiers of what in my opinion are definitely uneconomic holdings. I have experience in West Cork of very large families being reared under very difficult circumstances on very small holdings. I am sure the same is the experience of Deputies who come from many of the congested districts in this country. I feel that holdings of 25 to 30 acres, which some of these families own, have a special claim on this State to being augmented by virtue of the manner in which they have been worked for years and by virtue of the contribution made by the occupiers of these farms to the population development of this country as well as to its economic and industrial development. I go further and I state in the most unequivocal way that the man who does not work his land or does not work it properly should have it taken from him.

I know perfectly well that not only under the last Government but under the previous Government, lands were given in many cases as a virtual political sop to people to keep them quiet, and while the present archaic system of an unwieldy Land Commission remains there will be no way of stopping it. The Land Commission does embody an unwieldy system, and, further than that, in many cases quite an unfair system. This is a problem from which, Deputies might ask, politics should be removed, but in the very nature of the problem I think that is going to be virtually impossible. What I should like to see done in this country is the Minister tackling the problem with a realistic plan, getting complete and absolute facts as to the land he can acquire, the land he should acquire by virtue of the fact that the occupiers are not working it, and plan this whole question of land division, not on a 12 months' plan or not on a system of doing a bit in the West of Ireland to-day and a bit in Tipperary or Cork to-morrow. If the work has to be postponed in some areas, if priorities have to be given, let him go out and tackle the problem in a progressive manner so that he can say to the House at the end of five years that so much in a progressive way has been done in A, B, C and D counties.

There is not a tremendous amount of money voted by this House for the acquisition of land. I agree with Deputy Burke for once in that I should like to see more money granted for that purpose, and the reason why I should like to see it is this: I should like to see the Minister put in a position so that he can make a bold, realistic approach to what is in my mind a malignant problem. I do not at all agree with Deputy Cogan that there is this shocking feeling of insecurity of tenure. I cannot conceive a more secure tenure than that given by the Land Commission when the holding is ultimately vested in the tenant. If that tenant is subject to any feelings of insecurity, I would respectfully suggest that the only reason must be that he is not working his farm properly and that he may be subject at some stage to a decision of the Land Commission that he is not working his land properly.

What alternative can we find to the Land Commission? I have honestly tried hard to think of one. There should, in my opinion, first of all, be some way of deciding, as I said, on the priority of areas that you are going to deal with. When that is decided then is the time that the Minister might direct his mind to getting some kind of investigation in that area as to which are the most suitable people or the most deserving people to whom this land should be given and then fix their order of priority. Even if he is to be subjected to the ordeal of having to listen to diverse views of conflicting political interests, I shall not quarrel with it. But let the problem be faced in an area where the people who are dealing with it, no matter from what angle they are dealing with it, have some knowledge of it, because I have the feeling about the division of land in this country that there is no background to it, not even a political background. There is some kind of lunatic background to the distribution of some land in this country, maybe some weird blueprint in this archaic Department. This is a problem that should be approached by all of us, in all Parties, from the point of view of trying to get some finality to it, because if you do not do that, it becomes more and more the gambit of election stunts. Do not let anybody think that I can afford to throw stones. I am not ashamed to admit that I have made many overtures to the Land Commission about the division of land in various parts of my constituency. I think, however, that we require a new method of dealing with the problem of land acquisition and land distribution. For instance, in West Cork I think the best method would be to get all parties interested there to come together, let them draw up some realistic plan and settle once and for all who are the people to whom the land should be given, so that these people, in turn, will have some future to which to look forward. So far as the politicians are concerned, we would know then that we had fired our last shot and that there was no further need for us to concern ourselves with this land problem.

I have described the Land Commission as an archaic organisation. Lest any members of it should be offended at that description I am now going to enlarge upon my reason for so describing the Land Commission as an archaic organisation. In the first place, the Land Commission is suffering from a hardening of the arteries plus an overdose of caution. The Land Commission starts to resume a holding. Before the resumption is completed, under its present procedure, many of those who were originally envisaged as tenants on that subdivided estate are dead and buried. I do not know whether the delay is caused by a bandying about of files from one office to another or from one desk to another. I do not know whether that is the reason for the monstrous delays that occur in the vesting and revesting of holdings. Frankly, I cannot understand it.

Yesterday, in reply to a question I was informed by the Minister for Lands that some holdings were only allotted as recently as 1941 and that I could expect considerable delay in the completion of vestings. I do not know what amazing pressure of work or stress of business burdens the Land Commission and causes these extraordinary delays to take place. I think the time has come when the Minister must make some effort to cut out half the red tape and half the trimmings in an effort to speed up the work of land division.

It seems to me that land division primarily consists of acquisition, a decision as to how the land acquired will be divided and the people to whom the divided land will be given. I cannot understand how that could take such a long time as it has taken up to this. Ever since the foundation of this State the Minister for Lands, whoever he may be, has had to take over this peculiar machine. I suppose that with the advance of years it is only a natural development that this particular type of State service should become more and more rigid and that the red tape should become more and more evident. The time has come for replacing the present machinery of the Land Commission by some type of organisation which will get down to the problem in a realistic and, if I might so describe it, farmer-like fashion. I am not satisfied or happy about the type of person who is reared purely in a Civil Service atmosphere, going from one Civil Service Department to another, becoming more or less the arbitrator in what can best be described as agrarian difficulties in present-day rural Ireland. I am not satisfied that he has the authority to approach the problem in the proper way because fundamentally he cannot really understand it and can have no true appreciation of it. That is where the Minister's chief difficulty will lie. Neither am I content to remove this problem out of the sphere of review by this House and give it to some judicial commission for ultimate solution. Judges appointed to decide on this would most probably know less about land problems than even the civil servants do. Judges are not particularly trained and qualified to meet that situation.

This problem will have to be dealt with in local areas. I have suggested already that in these local areas the people interested should come together and work out a scheme of division themselves. When that scheme is conceived, let us then support the Minister in putting it into expeditious operation. But we shall have to go even further than that. There will have to be some ultimate authority to differentiate as between the merits or demerits of applicants. I do not think that that authority should be a purely judicial one. It should have something in the nature of a judge advocate, such as you have in the Army in a courtmartial, to direct this quasi-judicial body as to what the law of evidence is or what the relevant legal factors are. But the main body dealing with this problem should be one of intelligent farmers with some knowledge of their task and of local conditions.

My feeling about the Land Commission has always been that it is an academic institution dealing with something which it does not properly understand. I do not know how one can remedy that but I would urge upon the Minister that he should do all in his power to cut the time lag between the commencement of the schemes by the Land Commission and the ultimate termination of them. In many cases there is a gap of years between the resumption of a holding and the subsequent division of it. I am not going to blame any Minister for that because it would take something like a miracle man to cut through the red tape that exists in these Civil Service departments. This is a problem that becomes more serious in the rural districts as year goes on upon year. The local people begin to realise that nothing is going to be done. Unfortunately the blame is not then imputed to the Land Commission. It is imputed generally to the local T.D., and ultimately to the Minister.

So much for the Land Commission itself. The Department of Lands, however, has many functions. I am going to urge upon the Minister that the time has come for a little spring-cleaning and a little rejuvenation and a little effort in the Forestry Department. I am not going to criticise what has been done but I think the time has come for the Minister to see that they do a bit more. That archaic system of theirs of not taking less than a certain area of land for forestry purposes is, to my mind, nonsense. In very small areas in many of our constituencies they may not be able to get in one take the amount they want but, in a very small area, they may be able to get more than they want. I suggest that the Forestry Department should take them and start as early as they can.

The Deputy will have another chance on the Vote for Forestry.

We are taking the three Votes together.

Forestry is a separate Vote.

I do not think the Minister dealt with forestry at all.

If that is so, I withdraw, but I thought the Taoiseach indicated that we were taking the three Votes together.

Forestry is a separate Vote.

Will the Minister tell us if the three Votes are being taken together?

No, they are being taken separately.

I will have to retain my eloquence on forestry for another occasion. Let me get back to what I consider to be at the moment a national cancer. Mind you, believe it or not, it is not attributable to Fianna Fáil. I cannot understand why—26 years after the commencement of an independent Parliament in this country—the rotten system of the Land Commission has not given way to a system that would be practicable; a system where the Minister could take the complete map of Ireland and decide how much land he can acquire, make up his mind what land should be acquired and to whom it should be given, and then get down to a real progressive plan, not for one year but until such time as money and time will allow him to complete for the whole of Ireland that realistic plan.

This is, in my opinion, a very important Vote. I believe that criticism of the Land Commission and of its methods in the past is overdue. Like Deputy Collins, I fear that the Land Commission itself has outlived its usefulness. There is no doubt that, with the snail-pace methods of the Land Commission, the land problem will not be solved in our generation if we continue at the same rate as we have been going for the last 26 years and that we will all be dead hundreds of years before the problem will be solved in this country.

I expected that somebody would refer to the international barriers known as "Demesne Walls" or "Famine Walls." They are there still. It is extraordinary and it is not to the credit of any of our Governments that these walls defy even the applicant for one acre of land. Why? In the past I wondered if it was the intention of every Government, one after the other, to allow these "Famine Walls" to remain as memories of the dead past. I hope that something will be done, at least, to put the people who are living behind those walls on the same footing as the 40, 50, or 60-acre farmer—to put them on the same basis as the people who must, of necessity perhaps, in some of their cases, allow cottages and so forth to be put up. Why should they be immune from the law? I do not know. It is a mystery to me, and I hope the Minister will enlighten me when he is replying.

I am not quite clear as to the particular type of wall or as to the particular law to which the Deputy is referring.

I have proof that if any person in this country, no matter how much he may be entitled even to a cottage and a plot, desires to have a cottage and plot behind a demesne wall he cannot have it because the law says you cannot touch a demesne wall. That was proved in a recent inquiry in South Tipperary in connection with the Charteris estate in Cahir, and I would like the Minister to reply to it. This is a measure which is overdue. I believe that the Minister should take his courage in both hands and say: "There is so much land to be divided in the country; there are so many applicants, and only so many people can be satisfied." There are hundreds and thousands of people in this country who are hoping that some day they will find themselves owners of a few acres of soil.

Deputy Collins referred to systems. He described the system of land division as rotten. I am inclined to agree with him, strange as that may seem. As one of the new members of this House, I think that an introduction of the new look does not do any harm. I have heard in the past quite a lot of rumours, secret whispering and so forth, that the Land Commission was a reserved service under the Treaty which we had with the British in 1922. I would like the Minister to clear the air on that matter also.

Not at all.

I must say that that is very vague.

Deputy Cogan struck rather strange notes at times in his speech. I was hoping at one stage that I was correct in deciding that he was in favour of land division but the next note he struck was that of fixity of tenure. Fixity of tenure has its good points but I do not see why it should be allowed to operate in favour of certain people who own the soil of this country—people who own non-residential lands and who refuse to work them properly and people who got these lands by methods that were not upright and above board. These people obtained lands in this country in secret, behind closed doors, and why should they be immune from the fury of a Minister for Lands when he decides to say: "You are not going to have it all your own way." I hope the Minister will deal with that type of person.

We had in Tipperary one estate known as the Kennedy estate. There was quite a lot of agitation for a number of years about that estate. Eventually we succeeded in having acquisition proceedings instituted. The owner was in the happy position of having enough spondulix to make sure that the law could be brought to his assistance. It was decided that that was a stud farm. It certainly was not. Never in the recollection of the oldest people in the neighbourhood was it ever regarded as a stud farm. Perhaps horses and brood mares did pass along the road, and perhaps horses hunted over it at one time or another; but that was the closest relationship to a stud farm. The uneconomic holders and landless people living in that area, which could safely be described as a congested area, were hopeful that the old lord of the manor would pass away to his eternal reward, and the land would be theirs. I can assure you they were over-optimistic about the land, because the grabber arrived at midnight; he burned the midnight oil and some 12 months had elapsed before the local people knew that that gentleman had come between them and the land which they considered, and justly considered, should be acquired and divided amongst them. Is that the type of person that Deputy Cogan would like to be immune from acquisition proceedings? I hope the Deputy was not serious.

I should like some observations from the Minister with regard to people who have been allotted holdings by the Land Commission, holdings of less than 30 acres. It was Deputy Moylan's policy, when he was Minister, that 40 acres should be the minimum. Will the present Minister give some consideration to those to whom 25-acres holdings have been allotted? Will he consider giving them an extension when the opportunity offers, or will he still peg them down to the 25 acres and say: "Thus far shalt thou go and no further"?

Flooding has been referred to. Much of our land is subject to flooding and if people have to wait for the great arterial drainage schemes that are promised I am afraid much water will again flow over many fertile lands. I suggest that measures of a temporary nature to alleviate hardship and distress should be taken. The Suir in particular, from Carrick-on-Suir up to Templemore, has been responsible for the flooding of thousands of acres annually.

I am not at all satisfied that where ranches have been divided they have adequate water supplies. The Land Commission should make sure that the people who go into these holdings have an adequate water supply. In addition, I think there should be a continued charge on the Land Commission for the upkeep of roads leading into divided holdings. Many of these roads that were constructed ten or 12 years ago have got into bad repair. They are nobody's baby. The county councils say they are not 11 feet wide. The unfortunate people living in the country and served by such roads have to suffer great hardships.

In many parts of the country there has been serious flooding of land due, in the opinion of some people, to the raising of river levels. I know at least one farm which has been almost entirely under water. I ask the Minister not to press for payment of any kind where flooding has taken place to such a great extent.

We have heard a lot of talk here about political corruption in the matter of land division. I am not at all prepared to agree that that has happened, and I would not say that it is likely to happen in the future either. There has been too much talk about corruption. If it is political corruption for a Deputy to recommend a man for land, then most Deputies are damned and they have no hope of salvation. I admire the honesty of Deputy Collins; he says exactly what he thinks. There is not a Deputy here who has not recommended people for land, and why not?

You have not indicated what the result was.

Very few, if any, of the persons I ever recommended for land got it.

That is what I thought.

That has been my experience. I have heard people say time and again: "We took land off so-and-so, because they were political opponents". Again, my experience has been that many of the people from whom the Land Commission acquired land compulsorily were Republican supporters. I know of one family, three members of which gave their lives for this country, and their farm was acquired, whereas land on the other side belonging to the most antinational person in Tipperary was not touched at all.

Land acquisition and division should be divorced from politics. I hope that the Minister, the same as his predecessor, will recognise the land settlement committees formed by all sections of the community. I trust the Minister will pay heed to their suggestions. That is one way of keeping land division entirely divorced from politics.

Revesting is a very important matter. We find all over the country that when people who were granted allotments had certain improvements made on their farms and a little stock purchased, they found themselves, like most people, without capital. I understand that, until their lands are vested, no bank—and certainly not that overgenerous organisation known as the Agricultural Credit Corporation—will give those people a grant.

That is wrong, definitely. The Agricultural Credit Corporation will advance money on a purchase agreement.

It might be right in the Deputy's constituency, but my experience in Tipperary is that if one of the new holders put his nose inside a bank door without the necessary documents to prove that he was the owner, he would certainly bid a very hasty exit and he would bid it without the money that he was looking for.

Certainly, but the necessary document is the purchase agreement.

Yes, I understood that there were such things as temporary purchase agreements.

No, a purchase agreement—not a temporary agreement.

As I have been saying, it is very important that the matter should be speeded up and that the people who are being granted some of these holdings should at least get them now that the emergency is over and all the officials who had been transferred to other important work have been brought back. Those young men have careered for many years round the country and seen for themselves the need that there is to get more land for division, to acquire more estates, and to plant young men on the land. Perhaps those officials who have now gained that knowledge might help to give the necessary little push on to the older officials, who, I am afraid, are not exactly as virile as we would like them to be. Those young men coming back with practical knowledge of the country might be able in no small way to help to expedite that which I think every person in this country desires. Every right-minded person believes that only by the acquisition of the ranches of this country and by the putting of people on the ranches are we going to undo the clearances. That should be the objective of every Irish Government. If the Minister does that he will not be doing too badly.

I know that it appears that there is too much red tape altogether with regard to the acquisition and division of land. It takes years and years apparently to divide an estate, as many more years to build houses on it, and as many more with several other years as well before they are vested and before the people become the owners of these lands.

There is just one matter which I would like to refer to. I believe that the Minister should acquire turbary rights, as the old Land Commission did from the old landlords. We have heard a lot of talk about turf, and I do not propose introducing any more talk about it, but I would like to inform the Minister that there are certain bogs in this country where the tenants are not allowed to cut turf, or rather, their cutting rights are restricted to an extent which is almost unbelievable. They are allowed to cut ten loads of turf for their own use. I have inquired into it and I will give the Minister the names of the particular bog. It is Foildarrig, near Araglen, Kilworth, otherwise known as Shanraheen. The landlord's agent is another fellow who lives behind the demesne walls, and he is in an impregnable position so far. The agent will not allow any person who is a tenant, if he is even a Minister, if he is a Deputy or anybody else, to cut more than a certain amount. That should not happen. I think that if the Minister were to inquire into matters of this kind he would have no hesitation in acquiring the bogs altogether from rascals of this kind. We thought we were rid of those scoundrels a long time ago, but apparently we have not got rid of them yet, and they still have power and influence in the country. However, we hope that their powers are beginning to fade away.

We have, as I said, a colossal number of applicants for lands all over the country. There is an estate going to be divided near Cashel. It is being investigated by the officials in charge, and although they are letting them out very quickly it will take nearly three months before all the applicants are interviewed. Now I am not blaming the officials. They are going at it pellmell as quickly as they can. That shows the Minister, it shows the Dáil and this House, that there is a great need to acquire more land for division. The Minister, in my opinion, should certainly ascertain in the near future what exactly the position is, how much land there is to be divided, and to see at least that the people who are not going to get holdings should not be left in false hopes, but should be told at once that their chances are remote.

I mentioned this matter yesterday, and I would like to know what happens when the Minister institutes proceedings for a particular non-residential ranch and the officials are satisfied that it comes within the category of land that should be divided—perhaps if they were to elaborate on their report they would say that it should have been divided a hundred years ago. However it is never too late to mend. Perhaps the owner succeeds in law, by "the weight of the evidence" as we will call it for peace sake. If that gentleman succeeds with the weight of the evidence, with learned counsel and all the rest, with no attempt made on the part of the Land Commission to counteract that evidence, if they have not even one person to put up to refute the evidence, does another gentleman come in for a cheap jaunt? There are a lot of people in this country, as the Minister knows very well, looking for a cheap jaunt. If a farm comes up, even if they do not want it for themselves, they want it for some Johnny or some Tom. If that gentleman interferes with the demands of the local people, irrespective of politics or anything else, will the Minister tolerate the granting of the title to that dear gentleman in the future? I would like if the Minister would reply to that question later on.

That is all I am going to say on land division, but I say in all sincerity that the matter should be divorced from politics and kept clear from political thought altogether. I am quite satisfied that land has not been divided on political lines in the past, but all this talk through the country does immense harm, not alone in the country but considerable harm outside the country. In my own side of the country it appears that the old rancher will hold on for as long as he can, but if the Minister can get him out and divide the land I for one will say "more power to your elbow."

It might be usual to congratulate the Minister, but in this case I can only offer real sympathy to the Minister because he has a very thankless task in front of him. I give him my sympathy because the task of land division is a thing which presents endless trouble to the whole lot of us. Unfortunately this State, after 25 years of native government, has not land division completed yet. The only way to complete it is to go about it in such a way as to have it completed within five years. I do not want to suggest that we should go about it in the way that Stalin did in Poland and divide it overnight, but I do say that it could be done in five years. We should do the job completely and have done with it and end this agitation that is going on. To my mind, land division brings out in every county the basest things in man's nature, because every man wants to get property by any and every means, with the result that there is endless trouble and intrigue and the "hobos" nearly always get there in preference to the decent man.

The Land Commission I am satisfied bowed to political pressure when they should not have done so, with the result that we have all over the country hundreds and hundreds of misfits who should never have got an acre of land. The Land Commission do not know what to do with them and they present a big problem for the Land Commission—whether to put them out or how they can put them on their feet. I blame the Land Commission for that. They did it with their eyes open. In my county men got farms and five-acre plots who should never have got them. These holdings are an eyesore not alone to the Land Commission but to the public. We were told that we should pass an Act to take the land off these people. I think that that is an unnatural and mean thing to do. If a man is given a farm by the Land Commission it should be left to him whether he is failure or not, because I blame the Land Commission for that. We have had enough Cromwells in this country in the past.

Even if he does not live upon it or work it?

The Land Commission should be made pay for that because they gave these people the land. As I said, they bowed to political pressure. Now they expect us to pass an Act to put these men out on the side of the road. Many of these men got land six, eight and ten years ago when they were single. To-day many of them have family commitments with six, eight or more children. Are we to put them out on the side of the road? I do not think we should. I would rather see the Land Commission vesting these holdings and let these men sell them and get out of them. It would be far better than to put them out on the side of the road. Of course I have no sympathy with these men because they should never have got land.

The Land Commission did good work and there are many competent inspectors employed, particularly the chief inspectors, who did good work and deserve every credit for it. I am satisfied, however, that these men's hands were tied and that they were not allowed to work as they would have liked. I am also satisfied that underneath these chief inspectors there were some other inspectors who were pulled in by the political pull, that they were there to see whom they would get the land for. Many of the reports made by some of these junior inspectors were false. I am sorry to have to say that. I hope the new Minister will clean the slate and see that any of these inspectors who got in through political influence and who did dirty work shall be removed to another county. I do not say sacked, because I do not want to see any man sacked. I want to see them removed from these counties and the work properly done by putting in new inspectors. We have no confidence in certain inspectors. We know what they did. We know that some of them were agitating and carrying on with these political clubs in connection with the division of certain lands. Was that fair or right?

The Deputy ought to give the names.

I will name them to the Minister, but not to the people who put them there.

Name them to the House, if you are able.

All over the country we have hordes of people with money-bags, men from other countries who came in here and bought estates. These estates were not alone bought once, but changed hands several times. The result was that there was a complete inflation of land values which has caused endless confusion. These men should not be allowed to speculate in land. Some of these men bought estates of 500, 600 or 800 acres and started what they called a stud farm. We have some in County Meath. They should go back to where they came from with their money-bags, because we do not want them.

As far as land division in general is concerned, I feel that the size of the holdings allotted was not satisfactory. They were not economic holdings. Giving a man 22 or 25 acres in a county like Meath is putting a halter round his neck. It may be all right for him to get the land, but he cannot rear a family on it. The result is that he is neither a farmer nor a labourer. If he tries to get work on the roads he is told that he is a farmer. But he cannot live out of the farm and something must be done for him. Any Minister who is in contact with the central areas in this country will know what is an economic holding. I hope the Minister will make every effort to see, when a man is given a holding, that he is given a decent one out of which he can live and rear a family. No holding should be under 30 acres, and holdings of even 50, 60 or 70 acres should be given, according to the type of man to whom they are allotted. We will then have proper land division, and not have cases in which land has been divided, sold afterwards, and going back to the people who had it in the past.

The last speaker was perfectly right in what he said about demesnes. There is far too much security behind many of these demesne walls. I do not see why the people in these places should be immune from the law any more than anyone else. In my county there are estates of 2,000 and 3,000 acres. They are worked well, I must say, but, at the same time, no man should hold 500 or 600 acres or 2,000 acres in his own hands, while side by side him you have men with one, two, three and five acres living in misery and squalor and rearing children to emigrate, to be hewers of wood and drawers of water. I think we should see how much property is held behind these demesne walls. There are far too many idle rich living in these surroundings. A poor man will be fined for trying to get the makings of a fire out of one of these demesnes. It is time that many of these walls were taken down and that we undid the conquest of this country. We should act in a manly way and not be hedging about it.

I do not want to see any man's land confiscated. We should give a decent price to any man, whether big or small, from whom we take land. He should get the full market value. We are asked: "How can you do that?" I believe the term of 60 years should be extended to 120 or 150 years and let posterity pay for some of the land we are dividing at present. As I say, I do not believe in confiscation. In my county there was absolute confiscation under the first Government and the second Government. Land was taken off men at a price which was not just. I know some people whose land was taken and who are now living in poverty. It is criminal for any Irish Government to do that. The Minister, when acquiring estates, whether big or small, should pay for them decently and have nothing on his conscience.

The question of migration is a burning problem, so far as my county and the adjoining counties of Kildare and Westmeath are concerned, and I would ask the Minister to consider the policy hitherto pursued very carefully. I know he comes from a county where there is a vast amount of congestion and that probably at his hall door he finds men queueing up who wish to know when he is going to send them up to Royal Meath to land where they can grease their boots, the grass is so good. I would ask the Minister some day or other to take out his car and travel through County Meath to see for himself the present condition of the people migrated to that county during the last ten or 15 years. I am satisfied that 99 per cent. of these people will tell him: "We did not get enough land; we cannot live on the holdings we got. We did fairly well at first, because, when you sent us up, we had grown sons and daughters, with the result that when we got into these new holdings we were well able to work them and after a time we were able to send our sons to England and our daughters out to service, so that for a number of years we had a steady income". Since that time, years have elapsed and, at the present moment, many of the original migrants' sons are married and are living on the holdings which their fathers got, the result being that there is complete congestion on most of these holdings. Instead of congestion being confined to Mayo, we are now going to have congestion in Meath. I think that should not be allowed and I should like to see a change of heart on the part of the Minister in regard to migration. Let him look around Mayo to see if there are any lands there which can be divided. I hear that there are estates in Mayo up to 1,000, 2,000 and 3,000 acres. I would ask him to take them over and divide them.

Where are they?

The bogs, he means.

The owners of these estates, when the lands are taken over, could be sent up to Meath and given land there. I believe that 70 acres of land in Meath would be as good as 300 acres in Mayo. I want to see these big landowners from Mayo brought up to the Midlands and given holdings which would enable them to employ labour, and go back to the Western counties to buy cattle and sheep from the little men in Mayo and Sligo. There is no advantage in taking over land in a county like Meath and dividing it into small, uneconomic patches. Everyone knows that Meath is the gateway to the European, London and Dublin cattle markets, and that nearly all the cattle and sheep herds in this country find their way to Meath, Westmeath and Kildare prior to being sent to London and Dublin. It is a terrible thing for a Minister to divide the good land of Meath into small, scraggy patches. It is criminal and unjust. If the Minister carries on in this respect as previous Ministers have done, the day will come when there will be very few cattle bought in Mayo or Sligo by the farmers of Meath, Westmeath and Kildare, which is a very important trade for the country, because the economy of Meath is linked up with the economy of the western countries. I am, of course, not against migration. I believe that something should be done for the West of Ireland, but no matter what we can do we can only touch the fringe of the problem. The natural thing to do is to take the land of the bigger men in the West, transfer these men to Meath, Westmeath and Kildare, and divide the land which has been acquired from them amongst the small local congests.

While in the past something was done for migrants in the way of providing them with piers, pumps and yards, the Meath men who got small holdings had hardly ever a pump, a gate or a yard provided for them. I think that was not fair and it was bound to lead to contention. The Meath men saw migrants who gave up four or five acres of land in the West, and some of whom gave up no land at all, given nice little holdings. As I say, these holdings are too small but, at least, the migrants were given adequate facilities in the way of piers, yards, gates, pumps, etc. The Meath man saw an inspector waiting to embrace these migrants and welcome them. Then after a time a big lorry came along with their cattle, sheep and farm implements. I am not saying that they got too much land but they got a royal time at the nation's expense and more power to them. As against that, the Meath men who got holdings in their own county, in many cases did not even get a house or a stable and in no case did they get a pier, a gate, a yard provided for them with the result that they were left almost derelict. Most of them had not a "bob" to start with and they got no chance of stocking their land. In the case of some of them, after 16 or 18 years their holdings are not vested with the result that they cannot go to the Agricultural Credit Corporation or to a bank to get a few pounds to stock their land. Many of them have been forced to let their land on the 11 months' system. I know that some of them were wasters who are deserving of no consideration but there are many decent men amongst these small-holders who had no money to start with and who never got a chance of stocking their land. I think that when a man has a holding for five or six years that land should be vested in him so as to give him a chance of getting some money to stock it.

In connection with roads, may I say that many of the Land Commission roads are eyesores? I am satisfied that some of the roads made in later years are fairly good, but owing to the lapse of time from the period when the Land Commission makes a road until the county council takes it over, many of the roads are allowed to fall into a terrible condition. You could hardly bring a horse and cart on some of those roads at the present day and you certainly could not bring a motor car over them. That is neither the fault of the Land Commission nor of the county council but it is rather the fault of the system at present in operation. The Land Commission should not make a new road without consulting the county council engineer because ultimately that road will be taken over by the county council. At present there is a time lag of six or seven years during which these roads are nobody's darling and the migrants are not able to carry out the repairs themselves. I would ask the Minister to see that, when new roads are being made, the work is carried out in consultation with the county council road engineer so that the moment they are in proper condition they can be handed over to the county council. I am satisfied that the county council would be willing to take them over when they are in that condition but they are not anxious to take them over after five or six years when they are more or less derelict. The people living along these roads in present circumstances have a very hard and cruel life. In case of sickness, when they have to bring a priest, in many cases the priest has to approach the house across the fields. In connection with pumps on farms, I am satisfied that the Land Commission did an immense amount of harm in the manner in which they divided the lands. They divided them into scraggy patches.

What is the use of giving a man land on which there is no water or on which there is only a little pond in a far corner of some field? When the Land Commission divide land and build houses on it for occupiers, they should at the same time supply water. The occupier is not getting the land for nothing. It is not given to him as charity. He is going to spend the next 60 or 100 years paying for it and he will probably pay much more than it is worth over that period. Surely, the least he is entitled to is a pump beside his door. No tenant farmer should be asked to walk half a mile down the road with two buckets in order to provide water for his wife. Possibly the Minister may be able to do something to remedy that in the future. On every holding there should be a proper entrance gate and not this wretched pole that we have seen in the past. One set of migrants should not be favoured and another set reduced to almost famine conditions.

Recently, courage revived in County Meath because of something that happened there. Living in County Meath there is a man called Corry. He has a wife and eight children. He lived in a condemned house. One stormy, wet night, the house fell down and he and his wife and eight children were out in a shed on the side of the road. Right beside him was a Land Commission holding with a new house erected on it. That house had been locked up for the last four or five years with no one living in it. Corry was not prepared to see his wife and children famished and dying on the side of the road. He took his courage into his hands and he went into the unoccupied house. In the eyes of the law he did wrong but I am convinced that in the eyes of God he did right. Why should that holding be left idle for four or five years? The Land Commission may say that it was not completed. Its completion was only a matter of putting a couple of pounds of paint here and there. No effort was ever made to complete it. Corry was brought before the court and an ejectment order was given against him.

As long as he was brought before the court we are finished with it.

We are not finished with it because he is in there again at the moment and the sheriff is going to evict him again. That house and farm should have been handed over four years ago. I say more power to Corry. I hope the State will do something for him. Certainly the county council will see that he gets a cottage at the first opportunity.

In future when a large estate comes up for sale, I ask the Minister to acquire it. In Meath at the present time in the Dunshaughlin area a man has come over with a vast amount of money and bought 300 acres of land there. He had scarcely been there three months when he started buying up all the little farms round about him at enormous prices. I refer to Nicholson. I ask the Minister to take note of that and to take steps to ensure that that land will not be converted into a stud farm but that it will be divided up into economic holdings for our own people. Let this man go back to where he came from and take his money back with him. We do not want them. Give the land to the people. That is not happening only in County Meath. It is happening in other parts of Ireland too. The action of the last Government in issuing that Order whereby no more land division took place cannot be too severely condemned. It gave these people an opportunity of buying up large estates in the belief that they were quite safe. I hope they are not quite safe. We have had stud farms down in Meath for the last 50 or 60 years. We are quite satisfied with the ones we have. We do not want any new ones. I would ask the Minister to stop these gate crashers. We do not want Meath turned into a county of Jews and jockeys. Right beside my own native place two years ago an Indian Prince came in. He adores false gods. He bought 400 Irish acres of some of the best land in Europe and he gave an order for a stud farm to be erected. He may take himself and his stud farm back to where he came from. That land is going to go back to the people to whom it belongs or we will find ourselves in Mountjoy again. If the Minister does not heed me he is in for a tough time. We are going to see that our own people are put on this land. We are going to see that it is given to the Meath man and, if there is anything over, it will be given to the Sligo man.

Finally, I would ask the Minister to take some steps in regard to these holdings which are not worked. There are dozens of new houses built by the Land Commission which are unoccupied at the present time, with the grass growing in the doorways. Before the Minister starts on fresh land division, I would ask him to put his house in order and to take steps to compel those people either to occupy and work their holdings or to get out. I would give them three months in which to make up their minds. If at the end of that time they still persist in their present attitude, then I would put them out and hand their holdings over to more deserving applicants. I would ask the Minister, too, to speed up vesting. There are holdings in my county which have not been vested for the last 15 or 20 years. I have worked my own holding for 21 years. That holding was only vested last year. On the estate where I got my holding there are at least 15 tenants, and of these only three or four were vested last year. That is not right. How can they get on if, when they are not vested, they can be dispossessed after 15 days' notice if they do not work the holding? No man should have a holding longer than seven years without having it vested in him. After that length of time the Land Commission should know if the tenant is going to make good. It makes all the difference in the world to a man to know that he is the owner of his holding. He can walk into a bank and, on the security of a small holding of 30 acres of land, get as much as £300 immediately to stock his holding with decent stock and to enable him to work it. If a man does not own his holding he cannot do that. I would appeal to the Minister to tackle this question of the vesting of holdings immediately and thus enable the tenants to make some money. At the present time they have to set their land on the 11- months' system to their nearest neighbour. They have no title deeds and no other way of getting money. Under the 11-months' system they are getting from £12 to £15 an acre. The tenant is getting good rent out of it and he is getting that from the big fellow who can afford it. The Land Commission should not attack him about it so long as the neighbour does not injure the land. It should make no difference to the Land Commission what he does with it so long as he works it well. I believe that he is getting more out of it in that way than if he worked it himself, although I do not stand for the 11-months' system if it can be avoided. I would rather see a man work his holding with his own capital and stock it with his own stock.

I hope that next year I will not have so much to say on this Estimate; that the Minister will remedy many of the evils and that we will see land division completed in five or ten years. I believe it can be completed in five years. In my constituency there are several estates. Some of the owners live in Dublin, Galway, Mayo or England, as the case may be. The time has come to resume that land and to divide it amongst the people. The owner should, of course, be given the full market value, because there is no reason why we should confiscate the land. I believe also that posterity should be allowed to help to pay for this land rather than leave the entire burden on the present generation. We have had to pay for a civil war, an economic war and now we have to pay for land division. A burden of millions of pounds has been placed on the present generation—the generation which bought the national freedom. We should be able to expect some little comfort now besides having to shoulder further financial burdens. The coming generations will have very few debts to pay. The people who will be in this country 150 years hence should be expected to pay some of the debts. I do not see why they should not. We are handing them over this country free and in good condition and it is only natural that they should be expected to make some payment.

In conclusion I would ask the Minister to see to it that those warriors with the money bags do not come here from foreign countries and buy our homes. The Land Commission should do the buying instead. Over the past 50 years estates have been under review—estates which were confiscated during the time of Cromwell and the people on them evicted. The descendants of these people have been crying out for the last 20 or 30 or 40 or 50 years in the wilderness. I would urge the Minister to have those estates which were brought to his notice in the recent past resumed and divided amongst the people. If he does that he will have the gratitude of the people. I would urge him also to ensure that, side by side with those people from the West, South and North, he will plant Meath men in loyalty and peace so that there will be no bitterness. It is quite obvious that there is bound to be bitterness if 15 or 20 families from Mayo or Galway or Donegal are planted by themselves. The result is most dissatisfying. They are looking out and we are looking in. There is no friendliness. They say: "We have come from Connaught where we were driven by Cromwell in the past." We say: "You went because you were cowards. We stayed in the hills and in the bogs and you have no right to this land." That is the bone of contention. The Minister should see to it that we will all live happily together and that the men of Meath will get a fair share of the holdings.

I think that more than any other Minister a special bonus should be paid to the Minister for Lands. Every year the Land Commission debate is the most desperate trial to which any Minister might be exposed. If one of our research chemists could distil it into a purgative there would be a slump in patent medicines. It completely clears out the Dáil and only the most studious would stick it out in the gallery. I shall not add much to the Minister's difficulties. He is more or less on his honeymoon yet with his Department and it would hardly be fair to intrude in such a period of marital bliss. But his wooing of the Land Commission was such caveman stuff that possibly this association is rather a marriage of convenience than a love match and he might be rather bored with his association with the Land Commission and be glad to come back to the daily round of the common task. I confess that, as far as I am concerned, I am completely disarmed. The Minister was in a position last year to say many fierce things about me. This year I can say nothing to him. He has come in like March, a roaring lion, and inside is the lamb.

There can be no criticism of any kind, in my opinion, of the Minister's policy. It is the policy that has been criticised by the Minister and by many of his colleagues in 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946 and 1947. I am very sorry that Deputy Cafferky is not here, because I would love to hear him speaking on the Minister's attitude now. The Minister's policy is, in essence, the Fianna Fáil policy. There is no change. This policy of dealing with congestion, revestment and the cleaning up of the many difficulties that exist in the Land Commission is really a wise policy. When the Minister was speaking last year, and the year before that, he was wrathful because I did not take particular notice of his suggestion for the retention of the Land Commission annuities for the purpose of land purchase. He wanted to spend £6,000,000 or £7,000,000 a year. I hate to remind him of it, but we must come back to these things. I think it was either Deputy Cafferky or Deputy Commons who thought that we wanted £300,000,000 to solve the land problem.

It was not I.

It was one of you anyhow. I do not think that is needed at all. Then, again, the Land Commission was regarded by the Minister last year as a huge joke. I assume from the Minister's attitude this time that the joke is to be continued. I hope that it is. It would be too costly for the country to change it. At the same time, since the Minister has expounded the Land Commission policy, which is Fianna Fáil policy, and apparently inter-Party Government policy, maybe he might deal with the changes he might propose to make when he gets rid of the Fianna Fáil policy.

Many questions were asked here about future policy and two Deputies spoke about making a great, all-inclusive, progressive plan. I do not mind a young man like Deputy Collins making such a statement, as youth is always perfectionist and inexperienced and does not see the failure that may come to the best laid plans; but when the Leas-Cheann Comhairle, an old dog on the road, talks about making plans, I wonder if he is converted completely to some of the ideas we have had from the Labour Party, including the idea of planning. I am doubtful of the success of the all-inclusive plan and of progressive movement. When Deputy Collins calls the Land Commission archaic, then, without any lack of respect, I would suggest that 15 centuries ago the Roman Catholic Church was considered archaic by many people and is so considered by some people to-day.

The Land Commission has done a very good job and is doing a very good job. It is tackling the problem in the only way in which it can be tackled. No plan is perfect and no approach to a plan is perfect, and you will never get the exact results you want. In my life, any successes I have had have been the result of a tremendous number of failures. The Land Commission has made mistakes and has learned by experiences, and knows the problems inside out. I suggest to Deputy Collins and young men like him that the plan he proposes the Land Commission should adopt—an all-inclusive, progressive plan—has really nothing to it.

I would like the Minister to give us, when replying, his opinion as to the amount of land available for division. There are many ideas about, and I have my own, and I would like the Minister's. I have mentioned my idea before. I dislike any great upheaval in land ownership here, since too much interference with the farmers would be a most dangerous thing. If we apply to the Land Commission some of the Minister for Agriculture's ideas about keeping outside the fence, maybe we would get a little better working by the Land Commission. What is the Minister's annual target for division? Some people in Fianna Fáil and in other Parties have ideas with which I do not at all agree. The Minister should tackle merely the amount that he can deal with and at the same time keep the progress up in other spheres where it has been kept up, up to now, particularly in regard to revesting. I am glad to see that he is going to stick on to this damnable trouble of congestion. That very definitely needs to be tackled —and nothing else in the way of land division needs to be tackled.

The Minister has completely disarmed me in regard to what he has said, but Deputy Cogan has said something and I would like him to take notice of it. Deputy Cogan suggested that a Minister—it was not I—suggested that the Land Commission would make no move except where there was agitation. Not even in Ballyhaunis must there be a move made, in spite of agitation. If the Land Commission is to be threatened, then there is an end to decent land division. The Leas-Cheann Comhairle spoke of the estate in Clare and of the manner in which it is proposed to be divided. The files are at the disposal of the Minister and he can see the plan made by the Land Commission. I would like him to go thoroughly into it himself and see exactly what is being done, and if there is anything wrong being done at the behest of anyone in Fianna Fáil I will pay £100 to any charity he will name. Some other Deputy—I think it was the Leas-Cheann Comhairle again—spoke about giving cottiers land. I have no objection to that, but I have a tremendous objection to making cabbage patches of the land of the country. If you are going to give a cottier land, give him a farm and nothing less. Do not give him a cabbage patch.

One thing I was never satisfied about in the Land Commission and I do not think the Minister can be satisfied with it—and it is not either the Minister's fault or the Land Commission's fault, but primarily the fault of the Department of Finance—is the method of dealing with embankments. The Minister will see a piece of work to be done and will discuss it with his commissioners. They will send it to the Department of Finance and, after much shuffling, he will be told that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance will deal with it under the arterial drainage scheme. The Brosna drainage will take five years with 30 machines. How long are we going to wait for the end of that?

Thirty is not correct.

Is it not clear that, if we are to save certain farms from the sea and from rivers, some definite policy must be insisted on by the Minister for Lands with the Department of Finance? I have a great respect for civil servants. Everyone has his own job to do and does not want to be pushed into doing some other job that he can avoid; but it is the Minister's job to insist on a certain policy being carried out. To make any comparisons of civil servants to lunatics is not right, but at one time I had only one way of escape from jail and that was to go mad and be put in the asylum for a week. I noticed there that the lunatics were tremendously useful around the mental hospital. One man lit fires and another swept floors, another brought milk or water, and so on; but if you switched their jobs, you had chaos. The civil servant does not want his job switched at all. He wants to go on in the old rut. The Arterial Drainage Bill cannot handle these embankments for a long time. The Land Commission has the men, the experience and the ability, and it is up to the Minister for Lands to make the Minister for Finance do something about the embankments. One specific case is in South-East Cork—not in my constituency—at Meenan bridge, where a whole parish is being destroyed by the inroads of a river, due to the collapse of embankments. The Cork County Council spent money on them, the Bishop of Cork spent money on them— because the church was in danger—and farmers are willing to pay a certain sum. It is a very badly needed job and the plans are ready, so why is the Land Commission not allowed to go ahead with it?

There is another job at Adare bridge, where the River Maigue is so completely blocked that a new river bed is being created on one side of it, with the result that, down near the Shannon, almost a whole parish is for half a year under water. The Minister will be told that is not the job of the Land Commission, that it is arterial drainage work. The Land Commission can do this job; it has a definite responsibility in regard to the collection of the annuities which bear on the doing of a job of this nature.

Finally, no matter how logically I collect my thoughts, when I listen to Deputy Giles he knocks them all cocky because he has such a shoal of red herrings that I am tempted to follow him. One danger is the stud farm in the County Meath. There is an old Irish saying which says that "a man and his horse are alike". Watch these fellows. There has been talk about corruption. Deputy T. F. O'Higgins said here a couple of days ago:—

"A system of patronage has been built up by the previous Administration, particularly by the Minister for Lands, who utilised the power to divide land throughout the country to further the interests of his own Party."

That is untrue. Remember, that is not a charge against me. It is a charge against a tribunal set up by the Dáil— the six members of the Land Commission. They are the people responsible under Section 6 of the Land Act of 1933 for the division of land. I had been four or five years in the Land Commission. I do not know what estates were divided. I do not know the name of any allottee on any estate, nor was I concerned to know. If representations were made to me by any Deputy these representations were passed on by me without comment to those whose job it is to acquire and divide land, and to find allottees. But, of course, Deputy O'Higgins was merely following the lead of the Minister for Finance. I can understand a straightforward charge like that of Deputy O'Higgins, but I cannot understand the casuistry of the Minister for Finance. He said:—

"I want to put myself on record as still saying that the Fianna Fáil Administration was corrupt, but I must explain what I mean."

He was like Deputy Donnellan who said that he was quoted out of the text down in Galway:

"I said that, as far as I knew, no person belonging to the Party with which I am associated said that there was any personal corruption alleged against any member of the Government."

No personal corruption, but there was administrative corruption. How can you dissociate the two? The man that is administratively corrupt must be personally corrupt. After all, what do these charges of corruption against every Minister in the Fianna Fáil Government boil down to? That Seán Moylan, in his capacity as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry and Commerce, appointed a branch manager of his own choosing. If any Minister in the Government, or any member of any Party in it, will find out that in any appointment I made I broke any statute or ignored any regulation, then I will claim that he has proved corruption, but as long as I acted in accordance with the law and the regulations, there can be no complaint against me. There is very little patronage in this country, and none in land. As long as I am in the Dáil—as long as I was a Minister—now and in the future, if I can help a Fianna Fáil supporter to get a job I will get it for him. If that is corruption, make the most of it, but I will do it in all decency, according to the regulations and the law because I think it is a damn good man who stands by his own.

I can assure the Deputy that I will do the same.

I realise that the Minister for Lands, with the best intentions in the world, cannot do outstanding work. The system which he has to operate and the schemes that are there are too unwieldy. I realise, as pointed out by previous speakers, that the Land Commission is not practical and is not getting down to business. I had occasion to make representation to the Minister in regard to drainage and to the repair of embankments. I was informed that under section so-and-so of previous Land Acts nothing could be done; that under previous arrangements certain moneys were reserved and trustees appointed, that these moneys had long been exhausted, and that under the existing legal procedure the Land Commission could not make any money available for the repair of embankments on these estates or for the carrying through of drainage schemes. I suggest to the Minister that should not be the answer to the claims of the farmers of the country. It is an easy way, in my opinion, of avoiding responsibility.

The question of drainage and of embankments in the County Kerry is of outstanding importance, and it is vital to us that the Land Commission should go into it thoroughly. Deputy Moylan referred to it, but even when he was Minister nothing was done for the people that I am speaking for. We have cases in Kerry where the lands have been derelict and destroyed practically over the past five, six and seven years, and yet the Land Commission stood idly by and did not even make an attempt to repair these embankments. They simply quoted the law and legal procedure to these farmers and left them to try to eke out an existence from their own resources.

With regard to this question of drainage, arterial drainage schemes link up closely with the work of the Land Commission in our county, and, in this connection, a seven-year plan was visualised and an approximate expenditure on these schemes of £7,000,000. I suggest, as I have suggested before, that, rather than wait for the seven, ten or 15 years which will elapse before anything is done, something definite should now be done, pending the final surveys and final carrying into operation of these schemes. As I say, an approximate expenditure of £7,000,000 was estimated for the carrying through of these works in the Brosna, Corrib, Maine, Brick-Cashin and Clyde and Dee catchment areas and at that time the drainage scheme in that area was listed number four. Now I find it listed number five.

I do not think the Minister has anything to do with that.

I refer to these drainage schemes because one of them is located in the area where all these embankments I refer to are.

Every arterial drainage scheme is in some Deputy's bailiwick, I presume.

These are major drainage schemes.

The Minister has nothing to do with them. I want the Deputy to relate his remarks to land.

I will develop my point, if you will give me the opportunity. In the area of this main drainage scheme, the embankments on the lower reaches of the rivers have been destroyed and broken for years. Hundreds of acres of land are affected and the people down there cannot, out of their own resources, pay their way. They cannot pay the rent and rates demanded of them and I make the suggestion to the Minister that, pending the carrying through of the major drainage scheme, there should be some arrangement between the Land Commission and the Board of Works for the dredging of the area adjacent to these embankments. The dredging of the river Maine down to the coast would enable the Land Commission to carry out an important drainage scheme and to build these sea embankments at the same time. I fail to see why the Land Commission could not have co-operated with the Board of Works in the purchase of these dredgers and carry out that type of work which, in my opinion, is uneconomic and would expedite the carrying through of this important scheme.

As I say, in speaking of this drainage area, there was a reference to £7,000,000 and an annual expenditure of £250,000. I wonder what percentage of that referred to equipment, the purchase of dredgers and other drainage equipment, because that has an important bearing on the economy of the scheme.

The Land Commission has nothing to do, surely, with fixing the amount of machinery.

The Land Commission are expected to build and repair embankments.

The Deputy is talking about the estimate for the purchase of machinery and wants to know what the Land Commission mean by it. That has nothing to do with this Vote.

I am suggesting that, if the work is to be done, there must be some arrangement with the Board of Works with regard to the purchase of this equipment. In that way, the work can be done properly and economically. Otherwise, it cannot be done over a long number of years. I have been informed that the Board of Works have no equipment and, in fact, no money to purchase this equipment, and, so far as I can see, the Land Commission is in the same position, so that the Minister, with the best intentions in the world, is up against an impossible set of circumstances. He will find that the system is impracticable and cannot be used in the working out of these schemes throughout the country. The Land Commission system is a dead system, a system which is neither practicable nor direct. That is the case I am making.

I know that, if any man can do it, the Minister can do it; but he is up against an unwieldy system, rather like the system described by Dickens when he referred to the circumlocution office— you start here and move along and eventually get back to the same place. I went over to Hume Street with a letter which was addressed to the Minister and I was informed by an official there that the letter should go to 24 Merrion Street, and then come back to him before he could deal with it. We must break away from that kind of thing. The same thing happens throughout the country in respect of a matter of major importance so far as the Land Commission is concerned. That is what I am driving at. So much for the question of drainage and embankments. Am I entitled to raise the question of the Gaeltacht Housing Act which is administered by the Minister for Lands?

The Votes are being taken separately, I think. That matter will arise on Vote 54, Gaeltacht Services. The debate has so far been confined to lands.

With regard to Land Commission workers, I am informed that they are not allowed to stamp cards and thereby qualify for unemployment benefit. Am I entitled to suggest that the Minister should take steps to enable these men to avail of the benefits enjoyed by other workers?

The Deputy is so entitled, if it would not entail an amendment of the law.

Does it entail legislation?

It is no function of the Chair to explain that.

I am anxious to bring the matter to the notice of the Minister for Lands so that something may be done. I have been asked by the workers concerned to make representations.

In Kerry there are numbers of estates where sporting rights and fishery rights have been bought by foreigners, if you like, people who have been resident in this country for only a short period. These so-called reservations occurred in the purchase of land from some 50 or 60 years ago down to our own time. I make the special case to the Minister that at the earliest possible date, whenever the tenants apply, and they are anxious to apply, for the rights that have been withheld from them, they should be granted. As every Deputy knows, the landlords held on to these reservations because of their value over and above the land that was being distributed to the tenant under the Land Purchase Acts. They are probably 20 times as valuable now. They are being leased by the Land Commission, and, I suppose, eventually will be sold to these people over the heads of the farmers. It is a source of irritation to the farmers because they cannot go over their own lands. These fishing and sporting rights have been leased by the Land Commission, and the farmer dare not interfere with these people in their pursuit of game. I ask the Minister to take a note of that and to see if something can be done about it.

We have heard a good deal about migration but small farmers of the West and South Kerry have applied for years and have not had an opportunity of availing of the migratory scheme. One glaring example of the unwieldiness of the Land Commission is that of a man who had been transferred under a migratory scheme from Ballinskelligs, County Kerry, to County Meath, nine years ago and whose holding, which was surveyed and striped out, has never been transferred. I gave a statement on that matter to the Minister the first week I came here. That is not business. The same applies to several Departments but we will take them in rotation.

The Minister did one great day's work. He visited Kerry, North and South. He visited the flooded areas and did practical work. The people appreciated his going down there and seeing the position for himself. I hope and I believe that he will come back and break with tradition, break through this unwieldy system. This Land Commission, as Deputy Collins said, was conceived in an atmosphere of imperialism. It was a glorified institution created in an imperialistic atmosphere, not to benefit the people, but to be a symbol of imperialism. For that reason, it has not been effective. It has not served a useful purpose.

I would conclude by again reminding the Minister that if they are to do effective work, they must break from the past, they must break from the system that has been woven around them and prove once and for all that they will do the work they have been sent here to do.

First of all, I should like to ask the Minister for Lands to follow the former Minister's observation in regard to the allegations of corruption made against, not the former Minister for Lands, but automatically, against the Land Commissioners themselves. I represent a constituency where there has been a certain amount of land division since 1938, when I first became a Deputy there. I have heard a great deal of agitation by those who did not get land in a particular area alleging that one or other of the political Parties had the major influence in the distribution that took place. In places where it so happened that the majority of people supported the opposite Parties and men received land there was the fiercest denunciation of the Minister for Lands for having yielded to the influence exerted by a Fine Gael Deputy in the area who, they alleged, had some personal connections with certain land inspectors. I invariably said I did not believe it was true and that if there was a majority of people of one political opinion who got land the chances were it was merely coincidence. There were other areas where people of our Party happened to be in a very great majority and where there were some people who were of the opposite Parties who complained that they had not received land, and the same allegations were made in the opposite direction.

I have watched the inspectors in Athlone-Longford, as my constituency was then, since 1938. The engineers performed their work with what seemed to me on the whole to be admirable impartiality. I think it is a scandalous thing that Deputies, such as Deputy O'Higgins, should get up in this Dáil and make allegations of that kind.

We do happen to be one of the ten or 11 countries on this earth—I think there are about 73—where corruption is almost entirely absent and to publish statements of an irresponsible character in the newspapers that can be read abroad seems to me to indicate gross lack of patriotism on the part of the persons concerned.

The Minister has got to answer the question at the end of this debate as to whether he considers the Land Commissioners to be men of character and probity who would be prepared to risk their position and their calling by drawing public attention to pressure brought upon them by the Minister of the day to award land, not on the basis of justice, but on the basis of the political opinions a man held. He cannot get away from answering that question because the two groups of persons are involved. The Minister for Lands is involved. He has made his own statement, a statement which I think, generally speaking, was magnificent, in regard to Land Commission policy and his attitude towards it. But there were also the Land Commissioners involved in this and Deputy O'Higgins perhaps did not realise that he was accusing men who have been a long time in the service of this State of the very grossest form of corruption and he was accusing them of being cowards because, according to the law, they are bound to distribute land without regard to political influence, and therefore they should use whatever measures occur to them against pressure brought to bear upon them. Therefore, I do hope we will hear from the Minister something in regard to that matter.

Secondly, I would like to ask the Minister whether he considers that the Land Commission is now administered in a spirit akin to the imperialistic spirit of long ago, whether he considers there are any major changes required of an administrative or legal character either to shorten the time taken to carry out division, to carry out vesting of land, or whether he considers the actual technical and legal apparatus is as up-to-date as it can be under the circumstances. It is a matter on which I would not like to pronounce judgment. There do appear to me to be undue delays in the division or the allocation of very small parcels of land in scattered areas, while, on the other hand, once legal difficulties are overcome, very frequently land is allotted in a rapid manner. It seems to vary from year to year.

I should like to repeat Deputy Moylan's question to the Minister. I should like to know what his opinion is as to the number of acres available for division. In the last 15 years our Ministers have varied in their opinions, partly because economic conditions were changing and partly because of the increase in the price of land arising from the emergency. I understood the total amount of land left for division was something between, 500,000 and 1,000,000 acres. How much of that is in the country west of the Shannon, and the Midlands areas? Perhaps the Minister will give some indication as to what proportion of that 500,000 or 1,000,000 acres—whichever he decides is the right amount—consists of untenanted land and what proportion is land not deemed at present to be worked according to good principles of husbandry?

The public would like to know what is the view of the inter-Party Government in regard to the amount of land available, for this reason, that there are thousands of small, uneconomic land owners who, through the fault of no one in particular but because of the enthusiasm of Deputies, and because of the land division policy that is being carried out, have a feeling that some day or other they will get a larger farm. The former Minister for Lands and the former Taoiseach, when they had some experience of land division, made it clear that even if you took the larger estimate of 1,000,000 acres it would go nowhere near towards solving the problem of congestion. You might solve the problem of extreme congestion, but as the average size of a farm is 30 statute acres it is obvious that unless you started subdividing farms of 40, 80 or 100 acres, the problem will probably never be solved.

It would be a great help to people living in a state of illusion if the Minister will be honest in regard to that matter and repeat the observations made within the past six years after experience had been acquired and the whole business examined by the former Minister for Lands and the former Taoiseach.

I come now to the question of land division in the eastern and midland areas. As I understand from the Minister for Lands, and as I understood from Deputy Moylan when he was Minister, the most urgent problem is that of relieving the extreme congestion in the West, of getting rid of the rundale system and resettling people in such areas. We will have to wait for some time before land division can recommence in the counties of Westmeath, Offaly, Laoighis, and so forth. I should like the Minister to give a frank statement on that matter. In Westmeath there has been agitation for years in certain areas with reference to grazing farms of 300 acres down to 100 acres. These are frequently owned by persons who live outside the county, and in some cases they are owned by people who have tillage farms in the West and bring their cattle for fattening to Westmeath. They keep this grazing land for that purpose. Year after year people have made representations to all Deputies in the county for the division of this land, and year after year the answer is that the Land Commission intends to take no action.

I think a great many people in these midland counties have an optimistic view in regard to the attitude of the Land Commission towards these large farms kept for grazing. The Minister would serve the interests of the country if he would be frank about the matter. Generally speaking, it is not considered desirable to take a farm in a midland area for the relief of congestion, unless there are exceptional circumstances, in which there are less than 250 to 300 acres of land. If that is to be the policy in general, there being evident exceptions, let the Minister say so. Let him settle the minds of hundreds of small farmers who live adjacent to small grazing farms of 80 to 250 acres and who have the illusion that some day that land will be taken.

All of us who have a sense of responsibility in regard to Land Commission matters realise the difficulty of dividing a small farm of that kind. There is the fact that only two or three out of 50 people will get the land. Frequently there are tenants on the land who have to be first settled. There are all sorts of difficulties. Land has to be left around the demesne house, if the demesne is to have any value. The Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary know very well all the difficulties that have to be surmounted. It would be a good thing if we had a further indication of policy with regard to these smaller farms and then in regard to the larger farms.

The same thing applies to public opinion in regard to the amount of employment that should be given on a midland farm. One of the factors which count in deciding what constitutes good husbandry on a farm is the amount of employment—the way a man works his land and the number he employs. There have been farms in County Westmeath where no one has been employed, where no effort is being made to maintain the grass according to modern methods, and where no one is employed to herd 300 to 400 acres of good grassland. There are uneconomic landholders in the district looking for that land. There the case would seem very clear.

But there are other farms. I know of one in Westmeath that I visited some three weeks ago. There were people speaking to me about the desirability of dividing that land. There are some 150 acres, on which five persons are employed all the year round, indoor and outdoor hands. I told these people that I thought that would be regarded as rather adequate employment and it would be unlikely that the farm, apart from its size, would be acquired for division. We have always to consider the fact that there are 133,000 agricultural labourers in this country, of whom only some 70,000 are employed all the year round and land division must not be allowed to interfere with the employment of agricultural labourers. If land were to be given to uneconomic landholders the result would be the disemployment of agricultural labourers, and we would be no nearer the settlement of the land problem in this country than if we had left the farms in the possession of those who owned them and who would continue to give employment to agricultural labourers. I would like a few more indications from the Minister on his views with regard to this matter. Equally, when one examines the land division that took place in the years preceding the war, it does appear that the Land Commission showed a favourable attitude in the case of a farmer who had a tillage farm further in the West and who took grazing land in Westmeath in order to fatten his cattle. By inference it appears that the Land Commission did not regard it as desirable to take all those grazing lands. They took some of them but not others. What is the view of the Land Commission in regard to the matter? Is it considered a permanent policy that you must leave grazing lands for persons who own tillage land in the West of Ireland, is each case taken on its own merits or what is the general policy in the Midlands? With regard to that fact, it would be interesting to hear the Minister's views.

I would like the Minister to tell us how many years are going to elapse before land division commences in Westmeath and the midland areas generally, since it is quite evident that it has been postponed. I would like to ask him what are his general views with regard to the division of land in that area.

I think also we can profit by experience in connection with land division in improving the design and amenities of Land Commission houses. I am not a farmer myself, but I have been in Land Commission farms and seen the outhouses and I could tell that they were badly planned, it was evident that they were very badly planned. This was due, no doubt, to the fact that there was urgent necessity for housing schemes. The design and amenities of these houses and outhouses seemed to vary. In some cases they seemed to be all right and in other cases they seemed to me to lack the necessary amenities and to be built of rather poor material. I would like to ask the Minister to see that some officials of the Land Commission should concern themselves with designing better houses and outhouses in the case where new land division is taking place, now that more materials are available for housing.

Next I come to the problem of division of turbary in the Midlands. During the war, county councils were empowered to acquire turbary for letting to tenants and I understand that that power is lapsing some time this year consequent, I think, on the ending of the Emergency Powers Act The powers which were given to county councils were very beneficial, even apart from the emergency. There are farmers living, for example, in Coosen, a peninsula north-west of Athlone, who at the beginning of the war had to go some seven miles in order to get their turf. The Land Commission reported that there was absolutely no hope whatever of dividing the great bogs within two or three miles of their homes and the county council acquired turbary there temporarily. Roads and drains were made and these people were able to get their turf without taking a long dreary journey or going to the expense of hiring a motor lorry for a distance of seven miles. When these powers lapse a new situation will arise. The tenants in Longford and Westmeath have got used to the idea that if their own bogs are worked out or if they are far away from a bog, turbary will be made available for them. But if the extreme congestion in the West is to be relieved first and vesting is to proceed there, the division of the great bogs of Westmeath and Longford will be delayed further, even beyond the acquisition of land in Westmeath. Could the Land Commission suggest any method by which the division of these bogs could be expedited? Even though coal is coming into the turf areas and although it is being bought by publicans and shopkeepers at £8 10s. per ton in an area completely surrounded by bogs, there will still be people who will want to go on getting turf for themselves in the most convenient way possible. I would like to ask the Minister whether there is any interim arrangement he can make to replace that emergency arrangement that was so useful and that had more than emergency value in order to enable turf to be acquired easily and made available for the people whose bogs are worked out or who bought coal before the war or had to go a long distance to get turf. There are large stretches of untenanted bog throughout the Midlands. The Minister must be well aware of the problem and he must have had letters with regard to it. The matter needs further consideration.

That is all I have to say except once more to ask the Minister, as far as he can, to give us his up-to-date views on the problem of land division in this country and to set before the people what he considers the maximum that can be achieved. Let the people of the country know that his maximum is 500,000 acres; that he will go just so far towards solving the problem of congestion and no further and that it is no use for them to dream night after night that they are going to get land. In fact only a small proportion of them can get land because of the size of the population and the average holding in this country. If he will do that, he will end a great deal of the agitation that continues. He will give hope to some people. He will make others face the reality of the situation and he will enable land division, as far as possible, to be continued on a non-controversial basis. There are two subjects on which there should be no real cleavage in the political life of this country. They are the final agricultural policy and the final policy of the State with regard to the resettlement of land. It is undesirable that there would be serious political cleavages on either of those two matters.

A Minister who is less than three months in office has a very stupendous task before him. We all realise that and I think with our co-operation and assistance in the House it is his intention and desire to do a decent spot of work in his Department. The machinery in the Land Commission has got, to my mind, rather stale. Their organisation has got static and very little has been done during the emergency. I would say that a brushing up is absolutely necessary. The Minister and his Department should arrange to compile some kind of comprehensive programme with regard to the next four or five years. As far as I can see, no decision has been taken at the present time and not even the higher officials in the Land Commission can give a detailed statement of what their activities will be in, say, a month, a year or five years hence.

What I want the Minister and the officials in his Department to do, is to take a survey of this country from north to south and from east to west and to try, in some practical way, to relieve the congestion which is the burning problem of the moment. Having this survey, I think it should not be impossible to estimate how much land we have available for distribution in the country. At the same time we should easily know by coming in contact with the people how many people are deserving of land and how much land they need. Having got the survey, I think that matter could be carried through within three or four months. By active co-operation and hard work I think we should be able to determine approximately what the position is and how to solve it. We must all realise that there is scarcely sufficient land in this country to give every individual an economic holding. But then you have people in the unenviable position that they do not know whether at some time or another they may not be in possession of an economic holding. There are others who have abandoned hope that they will ever get one and these people may make alternative plans. The man who believes that some day or other he may get an economic holding continues on a small uneconomic holding. If that man knew in his early years that his position was not going to be improved later on, he could turn his hand to something else.

I say that the machinery of the Land Commission has gone rusty and wants a bit of brushing up. The Minister, in embarking on this difficult task, must have a target in front of him. He must know exactly what he wishes to achieve and when he hopes to achieve it. He must lay out a programme for five or ten years. I do not think the problem can be solved in less than ten years. But I say that within the next ten years decisions should be expedited and not be as slow as they have been in the past. I have been in this House since 1943 and I say, without casting any aspersions or reflections on any Party, that I have never got satisfaction from the Land Commission. I cannot say that the Land Commission ever came to a direct decision. You get polite and courteous letters saying that your representations are receiving sympathetic consideration. But I want all that done away with. It is all right to get an acknowledgment but it is wearisome to be waiting for a decision for two or three years. In my case, I have never got a decision which was any way pleasing to me. In fact I might say that I never got a decision at all.

One of the problems which must confront the Minister and many others in this House is what is really an economic holding. In various parts of the country an economic holding can vary from perhaps 20 to 30 and 40 acres. In Meath, I would say that something in the neighbourhood of a 20-acre farm of good land would be an economic holding, while in the poorer lands in the West, particularly in Mayo and Roscommon, I would say it should be more.

The Land Commission in the years gone by, in dealing with these estates, which they took over, did not give sufficient land to the people whom they put into them. In my immediate district there were estates of from 200 acres down to 70 acres acquired some years ago. These estates were parcelled out in holdings of from 22 to 30 statute acres. I know the condition of these people at present and I know what they have gone through for a number of years. I know they are not in comfortable circumstances. I would say that in the definition of an economic holding there should be no fixed acreage, as it varies with the district in which you operate. As I said, in Meath I would say that 20 acres of good land would be regarded as economic, while 40 acres in north Roscommon would not be at all economic. Therefore it is very hard to decide. Anyway, I think there should be some agreement on that.

I am not going to deal with corruption or political patronage as far as land division is concerned. To be honest, I know very little about it. I have not seen it manifesting itself very much in my county. There was one instance to which I took objection, but I do not wish to repeat that. I certainly say that it gave good grounds for objection, but I think it is best left alone now. Of course at election times public men throw out many baits to constituents. I have known cases where people who were anxious to get allotments on some estates were induced to vote in a certain way by getting promises of a certain bit of land. For that reason, I say that land division has been used for political and electioneering purposes in the past. I want to see that discontinued for all time, because it brings poor unfortunate people up a blind alley. As we have heard, the Minister has no power to allocate land to anybody. The matter is entirely in the hands of the Land Commission.

I do seriously object to the Land Commission holding up lands for an indefinite period. I know lands in County Roscommon which have been held up for a considerable length of time, lands which should have been divided and in production now and which year after year have been let for grazing and meadowing. The Land Commission seem to me to be exceptionally greedy and selfish. I know poor people near estates which have been taken over and who went to look for grass for a few cattle and the price charged for the grazing of these cattle was exorbitant. When people agree to it of course they have to take their medicine.

I also say that the over-stocking of land by the Land Commission is a disgrace. A poor farmer who asks for grazing for three or four cattle does not know exactly what the farm can carry and, foolishly enough, he will put his cattle there, with the result that at the end of the period they are practically unsaleable. I want that to be discontinued. The stockmasters in charge of the taking in of these cattle should have some realisation of what a farm can carry and not put one beast more on it than it can feed. As I say, the rates for grazing are exorbitant and these rates are generally charged to people who can least afford them, namely, small farmers. There should be a departure from that altogether.

The price to be paid for land is a big problem which must give concern to the Minister, to Deputies, and to the Government. After all, I do not suppose we all have an elastic conscience which will allow us to go in for confiscation; at least we should not have. There have been instances, however, where the price paid for land very nearly approached confiscation. I have one case which I would like to bring to the Minister's notice in which, not alone was confiscation carried out, but I would say that gross victimisation was carried out. The case concerns the estate in South Roscommon of Charles White, Record No. 8126; Collection No. 98/7818; lands of Killinraghty Big; area, 258 acres 2 roods 16 perches.

To my mind this was a very valuable farm of land. The unfortunate tenant inherited a legacy of debt from his forefathers but he found that if he could sell this farm and buy a small farm, he could get on in life. With these views in his mind, he asked permission from the Land Commission but that permission was refused. In 1945 he applied for permission to sell the farm and the way in which he proposed to dispose of it was very reasonable. He proposed to sell it, even in divisions to small uneconomic holders. A farm containing 258 acres, 2 roods and 16 perches in South Roscommon was no mean farm and the land was exceptionally good. The Land Commission refused sanction to sell this land in allotments to the neighbouring tenants and held the matter up for a considerable time.

The refusal was accompanied by a notice that acquisition proceedings would be taken in the very near future. Mr. White agreed to sell the land provided he got the full market price. An independent valuer in the district, by whom the land was valued, thought it should be value for anything up to £7,500. Anyway, on the 10th October a valid objection was filed in the Land Commission against the acquisition of the land. So far as I know, that objection was never listed or heard by the Land Commission and could not have been ruled on. On the 26th October, 1946, an offer was made of £4,300 in 3½ per cent. bonds less the redemption value of the annuity, £2,303. That was for 258 acres.

The net result was that this man was getting something less than £2,000, while if the land were sold in the open market he would probably get £7,000. Of course this offer was refused by Mr. White. Later on in 1947 an offer was made of £5,000 in 3½ per cent. bonds, less the redemption value of £2,347. In addition to inheriting a legacy of debts, there was due to the banks at this particular time by his predecessors something in the neighbourhood of a couple of thousand pounds— £2,700. Taking everything into consideration, Mr. White was to receive something in the neighbourhood of £2,500 for the farm but, on the other hand, he had to meet a bank debt of £2,700.

That was not the worst side of the picture. The worst side is to come yet. Mr. White was dispossessed of that farm without ever getting a sod of the farm. Mr. White, his wife and two children are now living in a small cottage in Roscommon with nothing to maintain them. That is the grossest injustice I ever heard of taking place under any Department.

When did this happen?

In 1948 it was completed. I think that the acquisition proceedings were completed in January of this year. We all believe in the relief of congestion. It is a very laudable undertaking but I hope that it was never contemplated that, for the purpose of relieving congestion, any private individual such as Mr. White with a wife and two children should be victimised to that extent, with nothing staring them in the face but the county home in Roscommon. That is the decision that has been given but if it is an honest and just decision, I am a Dutchman. If the commissioners responsible for giving such a decision are such honest and conscientious men, how can they stand over such a decision? I have a grave suspicion of their honesty and integrity and of their competence to deal with land acquisition when they leave a poor man on the side of the road without even giving him an allotment on his own farm of 258 acres. I say it is a gross injustice and a crying scandal. That is all I have got to say about that matter at present but I intend to pursue it still further and I shall continue to place the facts as far as I know them before the Minister. When he is concluding this debate, I should like to hear some reference by the Minister to this matter because it has caused considerable indignation, not alone in my immediate vicinity—this particular place is about 24 or 25 miles away from me—but it has caused considerable anxiety and uneasiness all over County Roscommon.

Some references have been made to housing. I surely cannot compliment the Land Commission for the work they have done in that connection over a number of years. I do not know what was wrong, whether it was insufficient supervision, incompetence or something else, but I see landmarks in my area which are memorials to the inefficiency of the Land Commission over the last ten or 15 years. The houses built on the plains of Boyle particularly are an absolute disgrace. I brought this matter before the Minister or at least before a high official in his Department some time ago and I pointed out that numerous houses on the plains of Boyle are almost tumbling down. I happened to be in one of those houses for a short time in very good weather. You would not feel a bit comfortable in one of them without a fire even when the sun was shining outside. The tiles were rattling on the roof, the walls were cracked and the doors were cracked and rotting. I say that the contractor or the inspector in charge should be made responsible for these defects and that the people occupying these houses should be compensated in some way. Repairs should be carried out expeditiously to the uninhabitable dwellings, as I may call them.

I hope that the housing programme in future will show an improvement and that proper supervision will be provided. I understand that the houses were supposed to be built of a mixture of gravel and cement but there was a very considerable amount of clay put into them too. I do not want that to occur again and I hope it will not. In the planning of these houses, provision should be made for proper sanitary accommmodation. I do not want a very up-to-date system of sanitary arrangements but I would say that we should move a little faster than we have been moving in the past. The arrangements in the past were very primitive. Something in the way of sewerage and, if possible, a water supply should be provided by the erection of tanks to catch the water on the roof of the houses or by some other means. Any other amenities we could attach to these houses would be good for the country, good for our people and, perhaps, the migrants who left this country 30 or 40 years ago, when they come back to visit their relations, can then say that we are making progress in some direction, and advancing along some line. I raised the matter of water supplies for both domestic and stock use on the plains of Boyle. It is about 11 years since the estates on the plains of Boyle were divided. At that time a firm promise was given by the Land Commission that an adequate water supply would be provided. Up to the present nothing has been done. As far back as 1946 and 1947 I brought this matter to the attention of the then Minister for Lands. I got the usual stereotyped reply that it was receiving attention. But nothing has been done. I want a water supply on the plains of Boyle. The people living in that area are not in particularly good circumstances. It is unfair that they should be asked to drive their cattle three or four miles in order to get water for them. I hope that the provision of a water supply will receive immediate attention.

With regard to fences, I cannot say very much for the past Government as far as fences are concerned. A lot of the fencing erected has fallen down and it looks very ugly. I think it is regrettable that these fences should be allowed to fall into such an unsightly state of disrepair and I would suggest that in future thorn-quick should be sown in order to make the fences more durable.

Practically every Deputy who has spoken in this debate has mentioned Land Commission roads. I have not very much to add to what has been said already but I do want to add my protest to the way in which these people have been treated in regard to road accommodation. Something must be done for them in future.

With regard to turf, there are a number of estates in my area which are known as bogs and which are still undivided. I know people living practically on the edge of these bogs who are compelled to travel three and four miles to draw their turf supply. These bogs are in the hands of the Land Commission and I would urge upon the Minister the necessity for having them divided immediately.

Those are the principal matters that I wish to raise on this debate but I would again press upon the Minister that he should give sympathetic consideration to the case of Charles White. I am very anxious to get a reply from the Minister in that particular matter. I think this man and his wife and children have been treated in a most unchristian manner. I may be late in my representations but I do ask the Minister to provide this man with a holding on his own estate.

The Minister for Lands has always to take the knocks although he does not always deserve them. I am not going to criticise the Minister for Lands. I have read his opening speech and from it I gather that there will apparently be no departure from past policy. I do not advocate any departure from that policy. I have heard a lot of criticism to-day of Land Commission officials and Land Commission officialdom. Truly, I too can complain of unwarranted delays but I do not complain of unfairness or inefficiency on the part of the officials. I heard a good deal to-day about political influence. I represent a constituency in which for its size there has been more land division than in any county of the Twenty-Six. I can say in all fairness that I have never found political influence or any other undue influence operating with the officials of the Land Commission. We are told that the system is archaic. Possibly that is so. But Deputy Collins has pointed out that one must study the present system in order to decide what will replace it in the future. As far as I can see the existing machine is generally efficient. It is not true to say that great strides were not made in the division of land. From 1932 to the outbreak of the war in 1939 there certainly were rapid strides made in land division. I can assure the present Minister for Lands that I welcome his statement to the effect that he will not be content with the rate of progress made by Fianna Fáil.

Where did you see that?

I saw it in one of the papers. The statement was attributed to the Minister at any rate. Nobody will congratulate him more heartily than I shall.

The Minister need not be frightened.

I am not that easily scared.

I will congratulate you on the progress you will make.

In excess of the policy of the last Government, is it?

Did you not make a statement that you would make greater progress than the last Government?

That is not the point at all.

I think you did. I will congratulate you if you do.

The Deputy should use the third person. It makes for more ease in debate and helps to maintain order in the House.

I do not think I have made any mistake. I did not intend to anyway.

The Deputy has said "you", which is quite irregular.

Yes, in other words, you do not call a spade a spade. All right.

Is not that deliberate disrespect for the Chair?

The Chair is well able to mind its own business.

I have reminded the Deputy that he should not use the second person when speaking in the House and that he should use the third person.

I will accept that. The Minister in the past expressed some good ideas. One idea of his was to provide better sanitation and water supplies for people who were given holdings under the Land Commission. I endorse everything that Deputy Beirne has said in that respect. As an institution the Land Commission should be in a position to provide these facilities and I hope that such facilities will be provided in the future.

With regard to congestion, congestion does not exist only in the mountainous areas of Mayo and Galway. There is congestion too in counties like Roscommon. In the western part of Roscommon there is intense congestion. I would suggest that where lands are being divided in that county the local congests should have first consideration. Uneconomic holdings in that area on the verge of farms which will be divided should receive the Minister's first attention. Generally these uneconomic holders do receive first preference but I want them to receive even more preference in the future. In many cases they are people who have been evicted from good land. On the verge of these demesnes in Roscommon there is intense congestion. Nobody has mentioned the landless men. Very little has been said about them. I do not agree that they should be cut out from participation in a scheme of land division.

Who said that?

I do not accuse the Minister of saying anything like that. I know the Minister has not said that, but there are people who advocate that. I have heard them in my own Party. I do not agree with them. I think hard working farmers' sons should be given some part in the division of land. I do not suggest they should get a monopoly but there should be some fairness where they are concerned. They are generally as successful as any of the holders who get land.

There are a few points to which I wanted to draw attention. Deputy Beirne mentioned bogs. I think it is time that the Land Commission made a survey and an investigation of title in regard to bogs. It is becoming a grave problem in many districts. Some people appear to have a monopoly of large areas of bogs. The Minister should try to have the bogs equitably divided. I think that would be useful national work.

Is the Deputy referring to bogs in our hands now?

And to other bogs as well, some of which are held in trust and some of which are held by private individuals. It would be well to have a general survey to be sure of your ground and to have all the information necessary for future reference. Undoubtedly there are some people now who are suffering hardship for want of turf banks and that state of affairs exists in areas which are on the brink of bogs.

One of the problems we come up against on the county council is the problem of cul-de-sac roads. On several occasions, both publicly and privately, I have drawn the attention of past Minister for Lands to this matter. We find that a farm is divided and that a good road is made into the last house. No attempt, however, is made to connect that road with some other county road, with the result that it remains a cul-de-sac. Nothing can be done at the moment except under the rural improvements scheme. Many of these people are not very willing to contribute 25 per cent. towards the making and the repair of that road. If the Minister will look into this matter, I think he will find that, in many instances, the continuation of the roads for perhaps a few hundred yards, perhaps even 100 yards, would connect them with some existing county road. If that were done it would immediately become legal for maintenance by the county council.

We have a great number of culs-de- sac in Roscommon and I am sure that that is not the only county affected. It is something that can be, and should be, remedied, even if it involves extra cost. The Land Commission, of course, is in a much better position than the county council because if they want to make compensation at the time of the division of the land they are in a position to do so. I think that would be one of the greatest benefits in the areas where land is divided.

Being, as I am, in the Gaelic Athletic Association, there are a few points in that connection that I should like to bring to the notice of the Minister. I think I can fairly compliment the last Minister for Lands on the policy that he adopted in getting the Land Commission to give sports grounds to Gaelic clubs throughout the country. A good deal of useful work was done during his time in office. I am sure that the present Minister will be equally good and, I hope, better. In the past, in the early stages, rent or annuities were payable, but I think in the later years it became the custom to insist that the annuities should be bought out. In some cases I would be inclined to say that the latter was the better arrangement, but if it can be done I think the system of allowing the annuity might still be continued. There are some cases where they may not be able to find the money locally. We have in various places, certainly in the West of Ireland, lands held by town trusts. It is of very great importance that, say, Gaelic Athletic Association clubs should be allowed to become the owners of land there. We have a case in point in the town of Castlerea. A town trust has been established there for a long time. It is anxious to facilitate the local Gaelic Athletic Association but my information is that it has not the power to sell or even to lease lands to the local club.

Can they sub-let?

That would hardly do. I do not know that they can, in fact, sub-let. It is a question I would ask the Minister to inquire into and to try to get something done. The same remarks would hold of Roscommon which has a splendid sports ground and which, I think, has the same difficulty. I understand that the Land Commission have been considering this and have sought legal advice. I do not think any legal conclusion has been arrived at yet and I hope the Minister will ask the Land Commission to bring it to a definite conclusion soon because the matter is very serious. Until these lands are vested in the Gaelic Athletic Association they are not eligible for grants which are available. That is a very serious grievance with local Gaelic Athletic Association clubs.

With further regard to acquisition I have a very serious complaint to make. It is the general complaint that the Land Commission is very slow to move. They are. I suppose they have very wide responsibilities and a great deal to do but their sloth is very provocative in some cases. Take, for instance, a farm of land, it may be big or it may be small, which is offered for sale. Those desperate people called politicians make representations, asking the Land Commission to take it over. I cannot see anything desperately bad in a public representative asking the Land Commission to take over a farm. When a Deputy is elected, he is elected by the people to serve the people. If, in serving the people, he asks the Land Commission or anybody else to do something on behalf of the people I think he is doing nothing wrong. Very often it happens that no reply is given at all—nothing is done until finally somebody, maybe from a distance, buys the land and holds it. That has happened in several cases in congested areas. The position then is that the problem remains but that there is less likelihood than ever of its being solved. The farm which would help to relieve congestion is let go. I do not believe in appointing directors but I hope that the Minister will be able to do something to see that in such cases prompt action is taken.

I know of the owner of a farm in Ireland who lived in the United States. Time and again I brought the matter to the notice of the Land Commission but they refused to act. In fact, they decided against taking it. The owner in the United States had power to sell and he sold. A local man bought it and the Land Commission immediately took action against the man who bought it. He was able to defend his position and retain the land. The result was that there was no easement in the local congestion which could otherwise have been effected. I do not like to use hard words but I feel very bitter about that matter. It is the type of thing which should not occur. The Minister will know, I am sure, maybe better than I do, of very many unoccupied derelict smallholdings in the congested areas. In many of those cases, the family line may have died out except for some distant relatives, who may have been half a life-time in the United States or somewhere else. That land was let to somebody year after year. It would not be at all unfair for the Land Commission to step in and relieve congestion by taking it over, where it is obvious that the owner, if any, is not going to return. The Minister is as well aware of this as I am. There are several counties where it is obvious that people are unable to live on small patches of four or five acres and where previous owners have cleared out and are not likely to come back. I do not think it requires any great effort by the Land Commission. We can all make excuses and there were undoubtedly excuses during the war for the slowness of the Land Commission. There is still the excuse of the shortage of material for housing, but it seems to me at the same time that a greater amount could be and should be done.

It may be a good thing to have a change of Minister, whether he be of one Party or another. It generally means that a new Minister tries to do better than his predecessor. I hope the present Minister will do his best and I am sure he will. I am thankful, in any case, that Deputy Cogan is not the Minister for Lands.

The Deputy does not think he would make a good Minister?

He certainly would not, according to my ideas. I do not think I ever heard a more stern conservative in my life. He certainly is a very staunch representative of landed interests. I do not for one moment agree with him.

To be fair to Deputy Cogan, I think he is more concerned with security of tenure for the small farmer.

He did not say the small farmer.

That is what I took from his speech.

He did not mention the small farmer. We would all agree with him in that. It would be a very wrong policy for any Government to leave people who misuse their lands, year in year out, in possession of them. Surely quite a number of these people would not dream of tilling—many of them have the land set—even in an emergency. It is like poison to them to hear of tillage, whether voluntary or compulsory.

Might I ask who is to judge as to whether a farmer is using his land or not?

I think the question is answered—the Land Commission.

What do they know about land?

A lot more than you do. The Deputy does not think that, but it is so. I happen to live right beside a Land Commission office and I know the officials there are not fools.

Does the Deputy call in there very often?

I can call any time I like. They are no fools. I resented to-day the remark to the effect that these gentlemen do not know anything about land division or land work. That is entirely wrong. They are men dealing with land all their lives and in nine cases out of ten they are the sons of farmers, so there is no use in pretending they do not know anything about land or the working of it. However, there could be a little more expedition. I would be quite satisfied with the present constitution of the Land Commission, if there could be more expedition. It is a well constituted body and the officials, as I know them, are good. On the Vote here last year, I advocated giving some power to the divisional inspectors. At present, there is practically no decision left in their hands at all. I do not think that is right. We have a local divisional inspector in the West who is better qualified than any of the inspectors in Dublin and I think some decisions should be left to him.

Final decisions?

Well, you could allocate certain duties. They need not be big decisions, but there are very many small matters which could be dealt with. For instance, there is the improvement of a bog or the making of a road. Surely you could leave that to the local man? I do not see why you should not, and it would mean far more expedition. There is too much concentration in the Dublin office, and if it were decentralised to some extent and decisions left to the local officials, there would be far more progress and they would not make mistakes.

I wish the present Minister for Lands every success. I know he comes from a congested area and I am sure he will do his best on behalf of the people who live in poorer circumstances. We have other points of view here but undoubtedly those people who were dispossessed and driven into the western mountains deserve every consideration and I hope the Minister will see that they get it.

I welcome the statement made by the Minister on behalf of the Government, that it is their intention to resume activities in the Midlands in connection with the acquisition and division of untenanted lands. There has been considerable agitation in that part of the country, particularly in my own area, as a result of the failure or refusal of the commissioners during the past few years to carry on land acquisition and division activities, while at the same time non-nationals were at liberty to come into those counties and purchase land and put up the price against natives of the area. That land, in the ordinary course of events, if the Land Commission were doing its work, would be taken over and divided amongst deserving local applicants.

I am sure I am right in assuming that every Party here, and probably every Deputy, wants to make a contribution to the solution of the problem of congestion and land division. I would like to see that problem completed in a satisfactory way inside our political life-time. I heard it suggested and I agree with it—it is a matter for the Minister to think over and a matter for him finally to decide—that he would do the job in a more satisfactory way than it has been done by his predecessors, and would expedite the acquisition and division of land, if he were helped by a select committee of this House representing all Parties. I do not think they should be given power to dictate to the Minister, but they could tender very good advice.

Another commission!

It is not another commission. Deputy Allen knows perfectly well that the Fianna Fáil Minister when in office was assisted by a Party committee, and I think it is far more desirable that it should be done on a national basis. Such a committee, with their own knowledge and experience of the West, the South and the Midlands, could tender helpful advice and in the last resort the Minister could accept it or turn it down. Without disrespect to the Land Commission officials, I believe that Deputies—I am not saying I am one of them, although I am a farmer's son—could tender advice based on their knowledge and experience, much better than officials who were not born in a rural area and do not know so much about the requirements of the people in those areas. I have no hesitation in congratulating Deputy Beegan on the common-sense, constructive suggestions which he put to the Minister in the course of his speech. They deserve careful consideration from the Minister. There was nothing of a political nature in them. I share the views expressed by him even though I do not know very much about the land problem as it exists in the West. I know it is quite different from our problem in the Midlands and in the South.

When the 1923 Land Bill was going through the Dáil the members of our group and of the Farmers' Party at the time submitted many amendments to it. Even though a quarter of a century has passed since that Act was passed, one of the things that I cannot understand is how it is that certain estates in my constituency have yet to be acquired and divided. The position is the same to-day as it was 25 years ago, and we have had many men in the position of Minister for Lands during that period.

There is one estate in the constituency which was the cause of considerable agitation even away back in the Land League days. I remember, in the days of my youth, that the late Michael Davitt addressed one of the biggest meetings ever held in South Laoighis arising out of the agitation for the acquisition and division of this estate. I thought that, when the 1923 Act was passed, this would be the first estate dealt with. I kept pegging at the Land Commission and at the Minister about it. Deputy Aiken, who was Acting-Minister for Lands in 1936, assured me that, having studied the file in connection with it, he would have a special sub-section inserted in a Bill then under consideration which would make it certain that this estate would be acquired and divided. Yet nothing has been done.

We have a large number of landless men in its vicinity. I will give the name of the estate to the Minister, but I am not going to mention it in the House because I am afraid if I were to do so the position in regard to it would be the same in 1958 as it is to-day, and as it was in 1923. There is something radically wrong with the machinery of the Land Commission when cases of that sort cannot be disposed of. There is, apparently, a desire on the part of the commissioners to deal with the estate. They started preliminary investigations at one time but that is all that has been done. The agitation for its acquisition and division has gone on for the last 40 years. In addition to this estate, the owner has other valuable lands, not only in the same part of the county but in an adjoining county.

I am very proud to be associated with a Government which says that one of the main planks in its policy and programme is to help to increase agricultural production. I am sorry to have to say that, during my time, I have never known so many young men, many of them the sons of working farmers, who are so anxious to get away from the land. They want to come up to the bright life that is supposed to be here in this city to look for soft jobs or to get passports to go to Great Britain. Recently, I addressed a public meeting in my native area— one of the few public meetings that I have addressed since the general election—and I am so concerned about the desire of those grand young men to get away that I think the Minister should do something to encourage them to remain on the land, to forget about the so-called bright life in this city or the big money that is to be earned in England. The Minister, I suggest, could do wonderful work in that area by acquiring and dividing, within a reasonable period, the untenanted land that is there so that those young men might be encouraged to settle down on it.

I, with other Deputies, made representations to Deputy Moylan when he was Minister about the acquisition and division of estates in my constituency. I know of two cases where the landlord agreed to sell to the Land Commission but so far they have made no attempt to acquire or divide the lands. These two are, I suggest, rather unusual types of cases because in 98 per cent of the cases when the commissioners proceed to acquire land in my constituency the landlords or owners put every possible obstacle in their way. But there can be no excuse for the Minister or the Land Commission in refusing to acquire and divide land where the landlord is willing to sell.

If there is any dispute about the price, there is a judicial body in existence to arrange that. I hope that, in cases where there is large acreage of land available, the Minister will use his influence with the commissioners to get them to speed up its acquisition and division. That would appear to me to be the only way of encouraging those young men who appear to be so anxious to leave the country, simply because they see no future of being able to make a livelihood here, to remain at home.

Everybody knows that the volume of agricultural production has gone down. The only way to make the country prosperous is to bring about an increase in it. If we are to do that we must offer some inducement to our young men to take their eyes off the cities and remain at home to help their families to increase agricultural production.

Pay them.

The present Minister for Agriculture says that one of the ways to do that is to pay a higher rate of wages to agricultural labourers. I do not know whether Deputy Corry agrees with him or not, but the Minister says that agricultural labourers are better entitled to a higher rate of wages than are those employed in industry in the towns and cities.

He is right.

I hope that, when the Minister brings in legislation to give effect to that policy, the Deputy will be one of his enthusiastic supporters.

I said it in this House long before the Minister ever came into it.

I want to join with other Deputies in appealing to the Minister—I am sure that our appeal will not fall on deaf ears—to speed up the division of bogs. I know at least four bogs which belong to landlords in my constituency. The acreage is anything from 2,000 upward. I, with other Deputies, went on a deputation to the present Minister and to his predecessor in connection with this matter. We were able to show that, in some of those areas where there is a large acreage of bog land available for division, poor people there have been obliged to pay up to £2 12s. 6d. per perch for turf. That high price was brought about by a puffing kind of auctioneering business. It reveals a scandalous state of affairs. In the same area, at the commencement of the emergency, the price fixed by the county manager was 5/- per perch. That is very hard on poor people who live convenient to bogs in such towns as Birr, Mountrath and Edenderry. They are entitled to have the protection of the Minister so that they may be enabled to provide their domestic needs in turf at a reasonable price.

Although I have made a couple of complaints regarding delays, I do want to say that, irrespective of what Government was in power or what Minister was in the Land Commission, a considerable acreage of land has been divided in my constituency since the 1923 Act was passed. I also want to say that, generally speaking, the land has been fairly divided. I am not going to make accusations in this House which I could not prove, that land has been handed out on the basis of the political affiliation of the applicants. I could not justify or prove such a general charge and therefore I am not going to make it. Everybody knows that, no matter with what care a land division scheme is carried out, you will always have dissatisfaction. You are bound to have that because the number of applicants for a share of the area of land available is from three to ten times greater than the number who could possibly get an allotment. There is bound to be dissatisfaction.

I know of cases—and I do not think politics had anything to do with them —where people received land in my constituency and made no attempt whatever to work it. I have known cases—and the present Minister knows something about them, but his predecessor knows more because the cases were brought to his notice—where land was acquired and fenced and houses built, and people given parcels who for years never took possession of them. I think it is a disgrace when, in the same parish, decent young men are only too anxious and willing to take over these lands. I supported Deputy Moylan when he was Minister for Lands in cleaning up such cases.

The question of the landless man and cottage tenant is a bone of contention in some areas, and I heard Deputies suggesting, in effect, that landless men should not be considered in any circumstances as suitable persons for receiving land. I do not agree with that. We know perfectly well that, where there are five, six, and in some cases seven sons, a small farm cannot maintain them all. There must be some outlet for these sons and the one way of providing a livelihood for such a man is to give him an economic holding. If you give the son of a small farmer, a landless man or a person who has lost his livelihood by reason of the acquisition of land, a holding, you must, I submit, see to it in future that he is provided with a reasonable amount of working capital. I know men in my constituency over a long number of years who served with the old landlord before the land was taken over, men who were the best ploughmen in the parish, men with a good practical knowledge of the working of land, who were given holdings when farms were divided but who failed, because, and only because, they had no capital to enable them to buy machinery or stock and whose lands passed back to the grazier again. I know one estate in Offaly on which six or seven men got holdings, all of which went back to one grazier one after another.

I am appealing to the Minister, who understands the problem, that if he thinks, as most of us think, that a man who loses his employment by reason of the acquisition of an estate by the Land Commission, a landless man, the son of a small farmer with a practical working knowledge of land or any cottage tenant should be provided with holdings in future, he will ensure by some means, either through the Agricultural Credit Corporation or some other Government agency, that he will be provided with a reasonable amount of working capital. Study the way the land problem has been dealt with in other countries. In Germany years ago, when there was land division at a particular period, whenever land was given to a landless man, he always got a certain amount of capital to enable him to get a fair start. I congratulate the Minister on the statement he has made that it is the intention of the Government to use whatever officials are available in the Land Commission for the purpose of proceeding as quickly as possible with the acquisition and division of the remainder of the untenanted land in my constituency. I hope that it will be divided within my political life-time.

I want to congratulate the Land Commission on the work they have done over the past few years. I cannot agree with other Deputies with regard to their slowness, in some respects at any rate. I know that several difficult matters in regard to drainage which came to my notice were settled quickly enough, and we must remember that they have been working at a grave disadvantage in that three-quarters of their staff were on loan to other Departments during the past few years. I am concerned with the position in regard to embankments, flooded lands and land which is deteriorating year by year owing to that condition of affairs. When the landlords were being got out, the Land Commission at the time did not take cognisance of the cost of keeping up these embankments and the landlords in a great many cases got away with the loot. I cannot describe it in any other way. The result is that there is little or no money in the hands of the Land Commission by which these embankments can be kept up, and we have, year after year, breaches in embankments and hundreds of acres of land being destroyed.

In that respect, unfortunately, the Land Commission are very slow to move. I saw down in Little Island for two years the tide flowing in on 80 acres of prime land and it took the Land Commission two years to make up their mind to build up the breach. When they came to build it up eventually, there were five breaches instead of one. I need not tell any Deputy who is a farmer what the condition of that land afterwards was. Land which has been constantly flooded by the tide for a couple of years is practically useless for a number of years afterwards. The same condition of affairs exists at present in Garryvoe. I asked the Minister a question about it a few days ago and I am sure he will speed things up in that connection. It is practically the only work now left to a Minister for Lands, so far as I can see, except answering questions here. There is practically the same condition of affairs in the Ballymacoda area. Portion of the Womanagh River was drained some years ago, but there are almost 500 acres of land being constantly flooded and deteriorating year by year in that area.

I heard a lot of talk here about corruption and statements about Fianna Fáil cumainn getting land for Jack, Tadhg and Paddy all over the country. That is contemptible tripe. A new Deputy might fall into believing it, but we have heard that kind of talk from an intelligent leading Deputy in this House, who, as a practising professional gentleman, should know something about land, land law and land division, and corruption as well. Deputy O'Higgins, speaking here, said:—

"I trust that the Minister will endeavour to get away from the basis upon which land was divided in the past. I regret to say that land division was concerned with the particular colour of the applicant. I do not know whether Deputy Beegan spoke with his tongue in his cheek but he had the gall to stand up in this House and suggest that there had been no political interference on the part of the last Government as far as land division was concerned. There has been considerable such interference. Time and time again estates were divided and allotted to applicants simply because they were nominated by the local Fianna Fáil cumann."

Who was that charge being made against? Any Deputy who has any idea that the good old days have come back, can get it out of his head. Those good old days did exist at one time. I will tell the House what was done. I will give it from the official statement made in this House by a Deputy from the Cumann na nGaedheal benches, as they were then. Here is how land was divided—Vol. 29, col. 683.

That does not come within the administration of the present Minister or of the previous Minister.

No, Sir, but the administration of the past 15 years——

Is not under review.

——was brought up here and reviewed, and reviewed on the basis of the lines on which land was divided: "I trust the Minister will get away from the basis on which land was divided in the past. I regret to say that land division was concerned with the particular colour of the applicant. ... There has been considerable such interference. Time and time again estates were divided and allotted to applicants simply because they were nominated by the local Fianna Fáil cumann."

There is no date on that. The Deputy goes back to 1929.

The Deputy is going back only to give the reasons for certain changes.

The Deputy may not quote, and I will not allow him to go back to, the Official Reports to that extent. That would reopen administration of the Land Commission for the last 20 years, which is not at all germane to the discussion going on at the moment.

The Deputy, therefore, cannot quote the official records of this House.

Not on a matter that is entirely outside the discussion at the moment.

The discussion at the moment is Land Commission. This is a Land Commission Vote and I am quoting from a debate on a Land Commission Vote.

The Deputy will not quote that.

All right, then.

Is it not in order for a Deputy to quote from the official records of this House on a matter pertaining to land division without reference to the year? Are you ruling that?

I am ruling that a report of a discussion that took place 20 years ago is not relevant to the discussion at the present time. The Minister had no control over what happened on that occasion. Neither had the previous Minister in the previous Administration control over it. It is not at all relevant.

Did not Deputy Cogan quote from the proceedings in the British House of Commons?

I am not concerned with what Deputy Cogan did. I am concerned with what Deputy Corry is endeavouring to do.

I accept your ruling. I am not going to bother this House at present with the manner in which a district justice in Tipperary got 351 acres of land under the administration of Cumann na nGaedheal but, on account of that scandal and scandals of a similar nature, we held up land division in this House in 1932, when we came into office, and in 1933 we brought in a Land Act. I suppose I am in order in quoting Section 6 of the Land Act, 1933:—

"The following matters shall be excepted matters for the purposes of this section and the expression ‘excepted matters' shall in this section be construed accordingly, that is to say:—

(a) the determination of the persons from whom land is to be acquired or resumed;

(b) the determination of the actual lands to be acquired or resumed;

(c) the determination of the price to be paid for land so acquired or resumed;

(d) the determination of the persons to be selected as allottees of untenanted land;

(e) the determination of the price at which land is to be sold to any such allottee;

(f) the determination of the new holding which is to be provided for a tenant or proprietor whose holding has been acquired by the Land Commission;

(g) the determination whether or not a holding has been used by the tenant thereof as an ordinary farm in accordance with proper methods of husbandry."

That is the law, since 1933, that the Minister has no power whatever in connection with any one of these items. The whole law was handed over to the Land Commission. Each one of these items was handed over to the Land Commission and, since that Act was passed, any charge in regard to unfair division of land or anything else is a charge, not against any Minister, but a charge against a civil servant, a charge against a Land Commission official. It is better to be clear on that. If anybody on the other side of the House has any idea that the good old days, when a district justice was able to get 351 acres, have come back, he had better get rid of it quickly.

What about the Fianna Fáil T.D.?

Even though we have Ministers who stated some time ago "that they are not in a position to provide jobs for votes but they hope they may be yet." That statement was made by one of the Minister of the present Government. I do not know whether I would be in order in quoting that or not.

Could the Deputy explain how Fianna Fáil T.D.s got land for themselves?

Would the Deputy stop making an idiot of himself?

That cannot be allowed. The Deputy will withdraw that remark in reference to a Deputy of this House.

The Deputy will withdraw it but I hope the Deputy concerned will conduct himself.

It is a good job you are learning manners.

He will not learn much from you.

I will show him a thing or two in a few minutes.

Deputy Flanagan ought to allow Deputy Corry to proceed.

Again I quote from the Official Report of the 22nd January, 1947, when the present Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Dillon, stated in this House:

"I am not in a position to provide jobs for votes yet. I hope I may be yet."

That statement is on the records of this House, that the Minister hoped to be in a position to provide jobs for votes.

The Minister never used those words.

They are in the official record of the House.

Who used those words?

The present Minister for Agriculture, Deputy James Dillon.

That is not the Minister here.

I am not charging the Minister here.

You did this minute. In addressing the Chair you said the Minister used these words, and the only Minister present was myself.

I said "a Minister of the present Government." I would be very sorry—and I am sure the Minister will accept my statement—I would be the last man to say anything of that description in his connection. I would be very sorry to do it.

It is a good job you think there is one decent man in the House.

Here comes the cockatoo. I am quoting from the Official Report of the 22nd January, 1947, col. 45. The Minister for Agriculture stated in this House that he was not in a position to provide jobs for votes yet but he hoped he may be yet. With that condition of affairs prevailing, we should certainly feel nervous as to the manner in which this Government are going to carry on. I am sure the Minister, with the knowledge he has of the powers under Section 6 of the Land Act, 1933, will agree with me that no influences can be worked on the Land Commission in regard to the acquisition or division of land and that any charge made in that connection is made, not against the Minister, but against the officials of the Land Commission, and against nobody else. I am sure that if Deputy O'Higgins will only read Section 6 of the Land Act he will not again say that "he trusted the Minister would endeavour to get away from the basis upon which land was divided in the past." He said:—

"I regret to say that land division was concerned with the particular colour of the applicant. I do not know whether Deputy Beegan spoke with his tongue in his cheek, but he had the gall to stand up in this House and suggest that there had been no political interference on the part of the last Government so far as land division is concerned. There has been considerable such interference. Time and time again estates were divided and allotted to applicants simply because they were nominated by the local Fianna Fáil cumann."

If that statement is correct, then the Land Commissioners should be removed in a body, or there should be an immediate inquiry into the whole matter. I am not here to defend any civil servants, but when a statement of that description is made in this House, some definite action should be taken. A charge cannot apply except against the Land Commission and the charge is that the Land Commission are a venal body, subject to corruption.

Deputy Davin told us how sorry he was about the flight from the land. I am sure a lot of Deputy Davin's constituents, when they saw how well he himself got on here, envied him and thought how much better off he was than to be stuck down the country in the mud. When Deputy Davin speaks in connection with production and employment, he should realise that the only way in which you can stop the flight from the land and induce the farmer, the farmer's son and the farm labourer to remain on the land, is by paying a fair price for farm produce, thus enabling the farmer to pay his labourer a decent wage, which he cannot do at present.

I am not satisfied with the manner in which estates have been divided. This all centres on what is or is not an economic holding. Estates have been divided in the past and the last position of the unfortunate man who got a holding was worse than the first because it was not an economic holding. That is a pity. I have seen estates divided and I have observed the results—a gap broken in the side of the ditch and the farm set to the man who held the land originally, all because the unfortunate follow with 20 or 22 acres could not live on the holding, as it was not an economic one.

There has been a lot of talk about recommendations from Fianna Fáil. As regards every estate that was divided in my constituency since I came in here, I sent in lists of applicants to the Land Commission. That was part of my job as a Deputy. I am sure that the present Minister sent in a few names of applicants in his time—we all did.

For what?

For land, when it was divided in his constituency.

I did not get a chance, because there was no land divided in my district.

You should be thanking God so, because if there is one thing you are going to lose on, it is when an estate is divided in your constituency. You will have 100 applicants and only 20 can get land and the other 80 will be deadly enemies of any Deputy for the rest of his life.

He will get the votes if he is an honest man.

Could you not promise the other 80?

Deputy Corry would not know how to promise.

Deputy Donnellan managed to come in here a few times.

And will again.

I will not say anything about his promises. Every Deputy, whether he likes it or not, when estates are being divided in his constituency, has to make applications to the Land Commission for land in respect of certain applicants. I see nothing wrong with that. If I have a good man who is entitled to land I will move Heaven and earth to get that land for him, with the knowledge I have that under Section 6 of the Land Act of 1933 that man will have to be judged on his merits and will have to get the land if he is entitled to it. There can be no differentiation between one person and another. All we can do is to say that an applicant is a good worker and will make a success of his holding.

An estate is about to be divided in my constituency. I do not know whether the Minister has heard about it, but I am telling him now. I have recommended a number of people, some of them as long as five years ago. When estates are being divided I would like notice to be taken, in the first instance, of the uneconomic holders surrounding that estate. Some years ago an estate was divided in the same , the Aghada Hall estate. A large number of allottees got spots of land ranging from a valuation of £5 up to £12, but none of the holdings could be described as an economic holding. At that time they were promised that whenever the other estate would be taken over, their position would be considered and I would like the commissioners to consider that position when they are dividing Trabolgan estate. I think that it would be only fair where there are smallholders surrounding an estate that they should have first claim. As a matter of fact, the regulations that govern the Land Commission provide that. Even Land Commissioners cannot do everything they like in regard to division. They have to divide land according to the following rules:

1. The first claim is of employees on the estate.

2. Uneconomic holders in the district.

3. Migrants.

4. Landless men.

What are you quoting from?

I am quoting from the rules of the Land Commission governing the division of land.

Is it figures that are employed or are there letters? Are you quite sure that instead of "one, two, three, four" it is not "a, b, c, d"?

I am certain.

It is strange. I never saw these rules.

You can look it up. I will give the Minister a few tips.

You have enlightened me a good deal.

I am very glad to be able to help the Minister in any way possible. He is a Minister that I have great respect for.

That is the position with regard to the Land Commission: First, the Minister has nothing at all to do in connection with the division of land, not a bit. He cannot even say who the land is to be given to as it is all governed by Section 6 of the Land Act of 1933, every bit of it. All this power is vested in the Land Commission so anybody opposite who thinks that the Minister will give him a slice of land here and there can get the idea out of his head.

I am particularly anxious, however, that the Minister should deal, and deal as speedily as possible, in a place where he has very definite powers, that is, to speed up the Land Commission in seeing that where embankments are broken down they are rebuilt; in seeing that sluices are kept in proper order; in seeing that the hundreds of acres of land, for which at present the unfortunate tenants have to pay up to 10/- or 12/- an acre in land annuities and which are not worth 3d. an acre owing to the deterioration caused by flooding through defective sluices and other things, are attended to as quickly as possible. Deputy Moylan, the late Minister for Lands, mentioned here Minane Bridge. That is an area where some 800 acres of land have deteriorated as a result of broken down embankments. It is not in my constituency at present; it is in the South Cork area, but I am sure that the Deputies there will ginger up the Minister until that job is done.

I am anxious to see it concluded and to see that those 800 acres of land are saved from flooding. I am also particularly anxious regarding the position in Ballymacoda, the position with regard to the mouth of the River Womanagh and also the position regarding Garryvoe. I pay this tribute to the Land Commission that last year when a bank was broken down in Ballycotton and the river got closed up by sand—it was nobody's baby; the Land Commission had no responsibility; the county council had no responsibility; there was no responsibility anywhere—the Land Commission did step in and relieved that flooding within, I would say, at most seven days. That is the quickest move I ever saw from the Land Commission in my life and no Deputy would believe that the Land Commission would move so fast.

I could not believe it.

They did. I am certain that where you have land suffering from flooding and deterioration year by year it is not alone the tenants' interest that is involved, but the security of the money invested and for which the Land Commission is responsible is involved also. If land deteriorates and is of no more use to the tenant then the Land Commission cannot get their annuities.

I do not think that there is any other matter that I wish to deal with here. I am sure that the Minister will make a good job of it. He certainly will and he has my utmost sympathy because I know what he is facing. The Minister knows and I know that he is going to get a hundred times more persecution than any Deputy in this House with regard to land and land division. No matter who gets the land they will say: "Oh Deputy So-and-so went up and pulled the strings. You know they were in the one Party and he got it——"

It is hard to beat the old dog off his track. You are talking about pulling strings——

"——and got away with it."

That is one of the reasons I have sympathy with the Minister, knowing what powers the Minister has and knowing very well the difficulties he has to face.

I would like that the Minister should pay particular attention to the case of flooding and the case of broken-down embankments because they are, I think, our main trouble in the present day.

With regard to roads on undivided estates and into farm buildings, I am sure that even yet it would be very easy to come to an agreement between the Land Commission and the tenants by which those roads could be finished out to meet adjoining roads. We could then hand them over to Deputy Davin and get them done nice and tidily with no expense to anyone. I am sure that the Minister will look after that side of the job.

I deprecate the statements that have been made here. They are going to reflect on the present Minister as well as on the last Minister, because it seems to be the principle of some of the Deputies over there that if you throw sufficient mud it will stick somewhere. Any Deputy in this House who knows the position, who knows the powers of the Minister for Lands and who knows the powers that were taken from the Minister by the 1933 Act, will agree that there could be no hope of any influence by any Deputy with the Land Commission in connection with the division of land.

I have not had the pleasure of speaking in this House since last October and I would be rather slow in rising to-night if it were not for the fact that I believe that the Estimate for the Department of Lands is one of the most important under review in this House. I was glad to see coming from a cold-hearted Deputy like Deputy Corry an expression of sympathy with the Minister in the difficult task he has to perform. I agree that the Minister has a very difficult task. He has taken over a Department which is new to him. After a short period of three months, he is probably not familiar with the workings of that Department. But in the years that are ahead of him while he occupies this important post the Minister will have to endeavour to clean up the mismanagement of the past 16 years. We are only dealing in this Estimate with the events of the past 12 months. If the Minister wishes to take the right line in his Department, he should do everything in an opposite manner to that in which it was done by Deputy Moylan and then he is bound to do right. Deputy Moylan occupied the position of Minister during the preparation of this Estimate. Deputy Moylan, who occupied that position for a number of years previous to the preparation of this Estimate, was, in my opinion, a complete misfit in the Department of Lands. On every occasion possible he endeavoured to display as much ignorance as his lips would permit him.

I do not think personal abuse of the ex-Minister is quite revelant to the administration of the Department.

I thought we could deal with the qualities of the Minister on the Estimate. If he deserves criticism, the present Minister will get it from me just the same as the last Minister did.

I said personal abuse, not finding fault with his administration. Personal abuse is quite a different thing.

I was going to refer to the manner in which the former Minister carried out his duties. I have known of requests made to the former Minister on many occasions to receive deputations on very important matters concerning various constituencies and he refused to receive them. He refused to co-operate with Deputies. He refused to recognise representations made by Deputies because of their political beliefs and outlook. Then we have Deputies on the Opposition Benches saying that there was no political influence exercised so far as the administration of the Department of Lands was concerned. I can give the House more than one example of political influence during the term of office of Deputy Moylan. However, I suppose speaking of the past is not going to improve matters in the future.

Do not be afraid to give them if you have them.

The present Minister, if he deserves criticism, will be criticised as strongly as the former Minister. Deputies on this side of the House who are supporting the Government were invited by the Taoiseach to criticise. We shall criticise. Deputy Moylan is well aware that my vote was one of those which put him sitting on the far side of the House, and the present Minister should realise that, if he fails to do his duty, probably Deputies from this side of the House can put him sitting beside his predecessor. I believe that the Land Commission has been moving very slowly in the past and that it is up to the present Minister to put a move on the Land Commission. I am sure my colleague, Deputy Davin, will bear me out when I say that in my constituency there has been an agitation for 21 years for the division of land on the Alley estate, Knockaroe, Borris-in-Ossory.

Twenty-five years.

For twenty-five years. In the vicinity of that farm there are a large number of uneconomic holders and landless men who are well prepared, financed and equipped to work that land. There are a number of Old I.R.A. men and sons of farmers who are only too eager to work that land. For 25 years the Land Commission has refused to give consideration to the needs of the various applicants for land on that estate. Time and again, representations were made to the former Minister in connection with the estate. I believe that as far back as 20 years ago Deputy Davin was keenly interested in the division of that estate, and it is no nearer to division to-day than it was 20 years ago.

Since the 1923 Act was passed.

I would feel grateful to the Minister if he would investigate the unreasonable delay in the division of an estate which has been in the hands of the Land Commission for 25 years. I believe that that is an outstanding case and that it calls for investigation.

My constituency happens to be one where we have many great ranches. Various applications were made to the Land Commission to acquire those ranches for division amongst local people. For several years past an agitation for the acquisition of the lands on the Kilmoroney estate, Barrow House, quite convenient to the town of Athy, in County Kildare, has been carried out. In this district we have another huge farm with people in the vicinity hungry for land, many of them taking conacre at fabulous prices. We have another case in which Deputy Ruttledge was deeply interested quite convenient to the town of Tullamore, the Cappincur estate. This is a case where the owner resides in Australia and the nearest next-of-kin to the owner resides in London. Deputy Ruttledge is the solicitor acting for the next-of-kin.

The Deputy may not introduce into this House the personal avocation of fellow-Deputies. It has nothing to do with the debate.

May I say that I was informed by Deputy Ruttledge that I could use his name in the House? The Deputy gave me permission.

The Deputy then may do so. I did not understand that he had got permission.

I have Deputy Ruttledge's permission to raise this and I am raising it only with the permission of Deputy Ruttledge. Deputy Ruttledge on behalf of the owners of this estate approached the Land Commission no less than six times and made repeated applications on behalf of the owners to have these lands divided and the Land Commission refused to do so. Deputy Ruttledge was informed by the then Minister for Lands, Deputy Moylan, that the Land Commission would not interfere in this case. We have quite a large number of uneconomic holders in the vicinity of Tullamore. We have landless men well prepared and fully equipped to work the land. We have people on the same estate who have been served with notice to quit from houses on the estate. I believe that in cases where we have absentee landlords such as those the Land Commission should take the necessary steps to see that the land is acquired and divided amongst local applicants. In view of the fact that in this case the owners are prepared to sell to the Land Commission, I would ask the Minister to impress on the Land Commission the necessity of dealing immediately with cases where the owners have no objection to selling. We can quite realise the long delay in acquiring lands where there are objections to be heard but in cases where the owners are prepared to hand over their estates to the Land Commission, I fail to see why there should be any such delay.

The Trench estate is another.

In view of these facts I ask the Minister to attend to these very special cases. Deputy Davin has reminded me of the Trench estate. I have worn several pairs of shoes in "trapesing" in and out of the Land Commission offices with my colleagues in connection with that estate. The present Minister for Lands has agreed to receive yet another deputation in connection with the Trench estate but we seem to be getting nowhere. I fail to understand the slow action of the Land Commission in dealing with these cases. This is another case where, in the presence of Deputy Davin, and I think Deputy Gorry, the owners agreed to give over their land and the Land Commission refused to act. I believe that we are going to have discontent in such districts as Ballybrittas where the general public are aware of the fact that the owners are prepared to give over their land for the relief of congestion in that district and we Deputies are going to get it in the neck for not seeing that the Land Commission do their job. So far as I am concerned I am prepared to stand up in this House on every possible occasion and to appeal as strongly as possible to the Minister to see that the Land Commission move. I know they are a big body and that they move very slowly but, nevertheless, I am sure some steps could be taken to expedite the division of land in cases such as I have mentioned.

Again we have a case quite convenient to Edenderry in Offaly, the Luneville estate, the lands of Matthias Moore situated at Luneville. Repeated applications have been made for the division of the land. Again Deputy Davin can verify the necessity for some immediate action so far as these lands are concerned. If I agitated very strongly for the division of these lands when in opposition, I am going to agitate equally as strongly from this side of the House until we get something done. I believe that if the present Minister for Lands does not do his job, he is going to meet equally with the same fate as Deputy Moylan.

Strong words.

Strong words bear fruit. Strong words bore fruit when I was on the side of the House on which the Deputy is now. We have also the lands on the Thomastown estate, Edenderry. If the Minister for Lands agrees to have a stocktaking of the various representations that have been made concerning the lands in my constituency he will find that the cases put up by the Deputies representing that constituency over a number of years are all reasonable cases. We fail to understand why the Land Commission have not moved. There is again the case of the village of Rosenallis, County Laoighis, where we have an agitation going on concerning another estate. I have in my possession correspondence from the Department in September, 1939. In September, 1939, we were told that these lands were under active consideration. In June, 1948, they are still under active consideration. Whatever the Land Commission mean by active consideration, I fail to understand. We have again the lands on the Rosse estate, Birr, where we have on one estate no less than 26,000 acres. We have people in the village of Clareen, county council workers, who cannot get an acre for the grass of a cow or a rood of land to sow potatoes.

They are prosecuted for grazing the cows on the roadside.

I have known cases where they have been prosecuted. Yet in the same district we have 26,000 acres of land on the Rosse estate. I fail to understand how such a state of affairs can exist without severe criticism. We have also the estate of Colonel Howard Bury, convenient to Tullamore. Repeated applications have been made on behalf of deserving applicants for allotments on that estate. Again I fail to see why the Minister for Lands has failed in the past and I demand an explanation from the present Minister if he has not moved in some of the cases to which I referred to-night. We have then the estate of Esther Webb and Richard and Marion Wallace, in the district of Shinrone. This estate has been the subject of agitation for so long that the records of the Land Commission concerning it must be covered with cobwebs. We have the balance of the land on the Robinson estate, near Mountmellick, in my own home district. In 1940 it was expected that the Land Commission would divide the balance of the estate. Continuous representations were made but even to date there has been no question even of the inspection of the land on the balance of the estate, whilst in that very district we have quite a large number of uneconomic holders, deserving Old I.R.A. applicants and many others who are competent and equipped to work this land. We have the Langford estate at Bally-macrossan, Geashill, Offaly. In regard to that estate a petition was signed and sent to the Minister last July. It was signed by Deputy Davin, Deputy Dr. O'Higgins and myself. We requested the Land Commission to take the necessary steps to have these lands inspected with a view to making preliminary arrangements for their division.

A long and detailed statement was prepared by the local people; they were for the most part cottage tenants and others who applied to the county council for the erection of cottages on these lands. Despite the fact that three Deputies signed that request to the Land Commission on the 26th of last July to date no inspection has been carried out. There is strong agitation in respect of those lands. I cannot understand why no move of any kind has been made.

There are lands in Leix which were purchased by the late Mr. Davy Frame. These are the lands at Brockley Park and Lamberton Park, Timahoe. Surely, the present Minister for Lands can recall the debates in this House some time ago when strong representations were made concerning these lands. I think I am not mistaken when I say that the Minister himself, when a Deputy on the far side of the House, re-echoed everything that was said as far as these lands of Mr. Davy Frame were concerned.

I think the Deputy might let the dead rest.

He is still the owner.

The Deputy might let the dead rest.

Not if it suits his purpose.

The lands of Mr. Davy Frame, Junior.

You are referring to certain debates in this House concerning the lands of a man who is now dead. Let the matter rest.

I am referring to the lands of Davy Frame, Junior. I think I am entitled to make reference to any estate in my constituency which calls for consideration by the Minister. In this particular case repeated requests were made to have some action taken but no action was ever taken. An appeal was made to the Minister for Lands to take some steps. No steps were ever taken as far as the lands of Mr. David Frame, Junior, are concerned. Surely, it is possible for the Minister to ask some of the inspectors of his Department to go down and see for themselves the congestion that exists in this particular district and the plight of the small and uneconomic holders and the plight of the cottage tenants; surely they can investigate the high prices paid for conacre in these districts and the difficulties the working-class people have in securing as little as one acre on which to grow potatoes. Side by side with that we have these vast tracts of land set on the 11 months' system with the greater part of them idle. There again the Land Commission remains inactive. I believe that my constituency has been grossly neglected as far as land division is concerned. I hope that in the future we shall receive a little more sympathetic consideration than we have got in the past.

I want to take this opportunity of registering a very strong protest against the purchase of huge tracts of land by aliens. If the Land Commission was doing its job properly and if it was serving any useful purpose I believe we would not have as many aliens coming in and investing their money in these huge tracts of land as we have at the present time. A great Leix man—James Fintan Lalor—once wrote: "The soil of Ireland for the people of Ireland to have and to hold from God alone Who gave it." From recent events it would appear that foreigners are coming over here and purchasing huge tracts of land which should be divided amongst our own local people. They are making a happy hunting ground of this country. It is the Land Commission's job to see that the land of Ireland is kept for the people of Ireland.

The Deputy is aware that that would require legislation. As things stand at the moment the Minister has no power to prevent the purchase of land.

My argument is that if the Land Commission did its job properly and the lands were divided amongst the people they would not be there for the aliens. I want to prevent a further invasion of aliens into this country. The only way we can prevent it is for the Land Commission to purchase these huge estates when they are for sale. No small Irish farmer can purchase these estates because he cannot go into the thousands. At the present moment there is a man who styles himself Prince Ernest De Saxe down in Deputy Kennedy's constituency, no less, and he has no less than 2,000 acres of land down there. He is especially interested in cattle and pigs. In Streete, in County Westmeath, this Prince, who speaks no English, is the present occupier of 2,000 acres of land despite the fact that in the immediate vicinity there are smallholders and cottage tenants hungry for land. I believe that Prince Ernest De Saxe did not purchase this huge tract of land during the lifetime of the present Government.

The Deputy wants the law amended in order to prevent outsiders buying land. He cannot raise it on an Estimate.

I am afraid the Chair does not properly grasp what I am coming at.

I grasp fully that the Deputy is taking this opportunity of attacking men, who have no chance of replying, for doing what they are legally entitled to do under the law of this country. They are legally entitled to purchase land and if the Deputy wants the law changed he cannot do it on an Estimate.

Deputy Flanagan is misrepresenting this matter. The Prince is neighbour of mine and a good Catholic.

There are plenty of good Catholics here on two or three acres.

It is not 2,000 acres. That is wrong.

This man lives beside me and I would not like that he should be misrepresented.

I believe that if the Land Commission did their job there would be no necessity for any Deputy to criticise any aliens.

The Deputy is not entitled to criticise an alien when he has not broken the law.

I am not saying he has broken the law but I do respectfully suggest that the Land Commission must have been slack.

I am not objecting to the Deputy suggesting what the Land Commission should do, but the Deputy should not take advantage of it to attack anybody who has not broken the law of this country.

I want to protest against the Land Commission for not dividing these estates. I warn the present Minister for Lands that in cases where applications have been made for the division of lands and where the Land Commission does not move, these lands will be purchased by aliens. These aliens are being invited over here to this country to purchase land, land for which application has been made to the Land Commission. The Minister and every Deputy in this House is well aware that there is an office in London for the purpose of putting aliens on the track of suitable land in this country. In the majority of cases these lands are already on the files of the Land Commission awaiting inspection and attention by the Land Commission.

While the Land Commission is standing idly by they are being bought up by aliens and then the Land Commission and the local people can whistle for them. It is too late to close the stable door when the horse has gone. I warn the Minister that this state of affairs is going to take place in the future, as it has taken place in the past, unless some steps are taken to expedite land division by seeing that those huge ranches will be divided up and that they will not be made available for aliens. If the Minister for Lands has any doubts as to the establishment of such an office in England for that purpose I may say, for his information, that an office has been opened in London by Messrs. Stokes & Quirke, auctioneers, Dublin.

The Deputy must stop abusing people who have not broken the law or else sit down.

On a point of explanation, is it not correct to say that practically every auctioneer in Dublin has an office in London too?

In the course of Deputy Corry's speech he failed to remind this House of all that Fianna Fáil did as far as land division was concerned and as far as the activities of the Land Commission were concerned. Surely Deputy Corry is aware of the fact that the Land Commission took proceedings in 201 cases during the year ended 31st March, 1947:—

"Proceedings for the sale of holdings on which arrears of land purchase annuities, etc., could not be otherwise recovered were taken in 201 cases during the year ended 31st March, 1947. In 36 cases the holdings were sold by public auction."

In 36 cases evictions took place under the administration of Deputy Moylan as Minister for Lands. Is it not a wonder that Deputy Corry did not discover that in the Land Commission Report?

It might have been more than a year ago. The Deputy should remember that the past year only is under review.

"In 36 cases holdings were sold by public auction; in 33 cases the holdings were sold by private treaty."

We do not know who bought them— probably emergency men. In 33 cases people were deprived of their homes under Fianna Fáil administration.

A Deputy

For what?

For non-payment of annuities due to the economic condition of these poor unfortunate people. No sympathy was extended to them. No assistance, no help was rendered to them in order to keep them on the land and to keep them at home. They were forced, probably, into the various county homes in their districts.

On a point of order, Deputy Flanagan is quoting from some document. Will he be good enough to give the reference?

I am quoting from the Report of the Irish Land Commission for the year from 1st April, 1946, to the 31st March, 1947.

More than a month——

It is the latest report issued.

We are reviewing the administration of the past 12 months.

We do not get the report until it is two years old.

The fact of the matter is that we are reviewing the administration over the past 12 months.

I got this report only last Tuesday. When did you get yours, Deputy Commons?

Last Tuesday.

"In 75 cases proceedings were withdrawn on settlement and in the remaining 57 cases it has not yet been possible to effect sale."

In regard to the remaining 57 cases I would be very glad if the Minister could see his way, instead of following in the steps of his predecessor, to re-establish these people on the land. I believe that the Minister for Lands should be able to extend as much sympathy as possible to these people by way of wiping out portions of long outstanding arrears. It should be the very last step of the Land Commission to deprive these people of their homes. I believe that if that line was the line followed by the Opposition when they were in power, certainly it should not be the course for this Government to take. I strongly appeal to the Minister, instead of depriving these people of their homes, to give them some encouragement. Deputy Corry spoke very loudly on the subject of who should get land and who should not get land. If Deputy Corry again reads the document which he received on Tuesday last he will see that for the year which the report covers 2,737 acres of land were divided amongst 127 migrants. He will also see that for the year in question only 26 ex-employees on the lands were successful and that only 12 landless men secured land.

The Minister's predecessor, Deputy Moylan, was very much opposed to the giving of land to landless men. In my hearing on more than one occasion he said that if it was humanly possible for him to prevent a landless man from getting land he would do so. I believe that there is many a good farmer's son whose father is residing on a holding of, say, 50 or 60 acres. Where there may be four, five or six of a family one of the sons will certainly be a landless man. He may have finance; he may be in a good position to work the land, yet, because of the fact that the ex-Minister for Lands disagreed with the practice of giving land to landless men, his application and that of many other deserving landless men would not be entertained. In view of the fact that we see that in the period ended 31st March, 1947, only 12 landless men were successful, will the present Minister for Lands sympathetically consider cases of landless men who are in good circumstances to work the land? We see that seven sports-fields were provided by the Land Commission. I know of cases even in my own constituency where applications were made on various occasions to the Land Commission for portions of land for sports-fields, and the Land Commission have been very slow in taking action. I know very well that there is quite a good deal of trouble involved in putting title in order and in going through the other legal formalities but, in cases where an application has been made either by a sports committee or by a parish committee for cow parks or sports-fields, that section of the Land Commission which deals with the matter should be asked to expedite the decision.

I hope that the present Minister for Lands will never rise to make the statement "the fruits of Government policy for Government supporters." That statement was made, and proudly made, and it was repeated more than once by Deputy Moylan—"the fruits of Government policy for Government supporters." If an applicant for land is a deserving case, it does not matter a thraneen whether he is of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael or of some other political affiliation, no man should be victimised for his political belief or his political outlook. We have seen cases of it, we know of cases of it, and we have no lesser statement than that of the Minister himself, of the time when we had —I repeat for the third time—"the fruits of Government policy for Government supporters." I hope that that is not going to be the case with the present Minister for Lands. I know it is not going to be the case. We want to see—and I believe it is the aim and policy of this Government to bring about—a state of affairs whereby merit will replace intrigue and graft, especially the graft in the Land Commission.

Would the Deputy state who is responsible for the division of lands, because charges should not be made against civil servants for purchasing, allotting and dividing lands? Would the Deputy state that he is not attacking civil servants?

For your information and the information of the House, I say that I was informed by an officer of the Land Commission——

I ask the Deputy does he realise?

I do absolutely realise; every word and every syllable that comes from my lips I realise it. I was told by a Land Commission inspector that he had instructions from the Minister for Lands to call on me because I was secretary of a Fianna Fáil cumann. I am the very person that the inspector told, I am the man who occupied that position, and I served my apprenticeship in the ranks of Fianna Fáil. I can prove, in any place and at any time, political graft and political intrigue exercised in the ranks of the Land Commission, because I was asked to participate.

And you cleared out when you did not get the land.

I participated—the Lord forgive me, and I have made that prayer more than once.

I should like to remind Deputies that when they introduce people to the Gallery they are not to participate in any way, by approval or disapproval, in the business of this House, or the Gallery will be cleared.

I am well aware of the fact, even in recent years, even since the last Estimate for the Department of Lands was before this House, that political influence was used and despite the fact that Deputies from the Fianna Fáil Party may rise and throw their arms in the air in horror and say: "We know nothing of political influence, we are absolutely innocent", I say that is wrong. Every Deputy in the Fianna Fáil Party knows that it existed and the reason for the tears and the weeping during the past three months is that they know it is ended and gone. May the days of political graft and intrigue never return to this country again. Many is the deserving applicant, many is the decent man, many is the decent small farmer, probably some of those 201 cases, put to the roadside because they did not subscribe generously to the national collection of Fianna Fáil. I know it. Tammany Hall methods were in the halfpenny place compared to those activities.

On a point of order, would the Deputy give the names of the people who got land through the corrupt influence of Fianna Fáil, or the names of the people evicted because they did not subscribe to the national collection of Fianna Fáil?

Yes. With your permission, a Chinn Chomhairle, may I supply the name of Deputy P.J. Gorry as one of those who secured land—a Fianna Fáil T.D. in my constituency.

Tell us the whole story. Do not stop halfway.

I have been challenged by Deputy Walsh to tell the whole story.

I do not want to hear it.

May I get an opportunity of replying to the Deputy who has invited me to tell the whole story?

It is not a case of replying. Let the Deputy make his own speech and not mind interruptions.

There was a huge farm, the O'Shea estate in County Laoighis, and amongst the applicants for land was no less than a Fianna Fáil Deputy. That applicant was to surrender a swamp in exchange for the best and most arable portion of the O'Shea estate, and the Land Commission agreed. Naturally enough, the Deputy surrendered his swamp and the Deputy got the best of the O'Shea estate for himself.

That is Deputy Flanagan's version of it.

I am referring to the lands that Deputy Gorry is owner of now in the townland of Kilcavan, in the County Laoighis.

Mr. Walsh

We all know what Deputy Flanagan's statement is worth.

I suppose Deputy Gorry at the time said: "It is a bad hen that cannot pick for himself," and he was living up to the "fruits of Government policy for Government supporters". In the same case, I have known a cottage tenant, a labouring man with a wife and grown-up family, to apply for the same portion of land as Deputy Gorry secured; and his application, whether it was considered or not, was unsuccessful. The Deputy's application was successful, the Deputy secured the land and the Deputy produced rich wheat from those lands, because of his political influence; while a deserving applicant who should have got more consideration was obliged to pay a fabulous sum for conacre. Because of the lack of political influence behind him, he failed to secure what he deserved and should have got. Now, if Deputy Walsh or any other Deputy in the Fianna Fáil Party wishes me to give more and graver explanations, I will be delighted.

Mr. Walsh

I wonder would the Deputy say that outside the House?

I have said it outside the House ten times during the election, I have said it since and before, and if Deputy Walsh likes to hear it to-night I am prepared to say it in O'Connell Street for himself. Anything I say— I have never sheltered behind the privileges of this House—I am prepared to say outside. I know that the working of the Land Commission has been similar to Tammany Hall methods and I am delighted that I have lived to see the day when we have a Government that is prepared to put merit first and give everything else secondary consideration.

May I pay a tribute to the present Minister for Lands and, in doing so, may I say that I believe that, if a Fianna Fáil Deputy has a genuine grievance concerning his constituency, he will get the same hearing from this Government as any Deputy on this side of the House—despite the fact that that was not the case when Deputy Moylan was Minister for Lands? I challenge any Deputy of the Fianna Fáil Party to say that they endeavoured to seek assistance, guidance or advice over the past three months from the present Minister for Lands and that the door was slammed in their teeth, or that they were refused access to the Minister's office or his Department—despite the fact that we could give numberless cases of the doors having been slammed in the faces of Deputies through a display of ignorance by Deputy Moylan. It is that same display that has Deputy Moylan sitting where he is sitting to-night with his hand under his chin and he has plenty of time now to receive deputations in the future. There will be no great demand on Deputy Moylan's time from now on.

The Deputy's use of his time now has nothing to do with the administration of the Land Commission.

Deputy Moylan was responsible for the Department of Lands. That Vote——

That Vote is not relevant to the discussion on the Land Commission.

May I say that the job that is before the Minister for Lands is a difficult one? He is faced with cleaning up the deplorable mess which Deputy Moylan left behind him. I do not expect wonderful results from the Land Commission within the next two or even five years. I hope that the Deputies in the Fianna Fáil Party will not expect the new Minister, by waving a wand, to divide all the land in their respective constituencies. They had their own Minister for 16 long years and we saw very little land division. This Government cannot comply with all the applications that may be made to have various holdings divided within eight, ten or 12 years.

I would appeal to the Minister to consider an increase in wages to Land Commission employees, and especially gangers. The present rate is not sufficient, owing to the alarming and continued increase in the cost of living, to enable them to live in Christian decency. I would also ask him, in conjunction with the establishment officer in the Department, to consider placing inspectors in as convenient centres as possible to their homes. Some of them live 60 or 80 miles from their homes. It is probably an offence for an inspector to make representations to a Deputy. No inspector made representations to me, but I am aware of the inconvenience they suffer.

I know one inspector in Leinster who has a big area to cover. He has applied on more than one occasion to his superior officer to be put in a district as near to his home as possible. It would be well if the Minister would reorganise the Land Commission from the point of view of stationing officers in districts convenient to their homes. It should also be found possible to recoup inspectors the expense they incur when they have to hire cars in the performance of their duties. I understand that those who have no cars of their own get no expenses if, for health reasons, they are unable to use a bicycle and have to hire a motor car. I think they should be recouped their expenses. I would suggest to the Minister that he should examine the establishment branch of his Department from all its aspects, where the various inspectors and officers have been appointed as well as the requests made by themselves or their families, through the recognised official channels, for transfers to more convenient districts.

I do not envy the Minister his difficult task. He has a big job, but he is a big man and I believe will be able for it. He certainly knows the conditions under which the people live in the congested districts. I am sure his colleague, Deputy Commons, will remind him of those conditions that prevail not only in the West but in many other areas through our country. We do not expect the Minister to devote more attention to one constituency than to another. He must take the whole country into his consideration. I believe that, in his difficult job, he will have not only the support of Government Deputies, but such assistance and constructive advice as the Opposition may be able to offer. I am sure he would welcome that.

It would be in accordance with the wish expressed by the Taoiseach here some time ago that this Parliament is just exactly what a Parliament should be, a place where the members of all Parties, even those on the Government side, can make their protests. I believe that, when the Minister comes forward with his Estimate next year, he will have gone some distance along the road to meet the various points that have been raised in this debate. May I conclude by wishing him success in his undertaking? We are all pleased that he comes from a farming stock. He knows all the difficulties under which the farming community labour. He is not a tailor, butcher or carpenter. He comes from the land and, therefore, I believe he will make a success of his job. I would warn him, however, that he must take the bull by the horns and say to the commissioners or whoever is responsible in the Land Commission: "Get to work; you have rested for 16 long years peacefully and without disturbance; you must work from now on with speed and efficiency." That is what we on this side of the House are going to demand not from one Minister but from all Ministers. I believe that when the Minister does that the wishes of the many districts will be met. Not alone will the wishes of the people of the Midlands with regard to the acquisition and division of the ranches be met, but the wishes of the people in the congested districts will be met and a good step will be taken towards the relief of congestion in these areas.

I believe the Minister is the right man in the right place and I wish him every success. I hope that, this time 12 months, we will have a measure of progress to review, so far as the Department is concerned; but if he fails to get the Land Commission moving, I believe the Minister will find himself not very far away from Deputy Moylan. We want action. The people want the land divided and it is the Government's job to see that it is done. The Minister is responsible for conveying the wishes of Government Deputies to the Land Commission, and if we are to stand behind and support the Government, we expect that an institution which has been slumbering for 16 years will be speeded up. It is time there was a complete awakening and a complete reorganisation of that institution.

I rith na práinne le déanaí, do tógadh cuid de na portaigh in a lán contae ag lucht comhairlí ceantair agus do cuireadh amach ar cíos iad do na daoine sna condaethe sin. Bhí ar intinn ag an Rialtas iad a thabhairt ar ais do na tíarnaí talún i mbliana, ach im chontae-se do cuireadh ordú práinneach speisialta i bhfeidhm agus tá na portaigh ag na daoine arís i mbliana. Níl aon ghealltanas, áfach, go leanfar leis mar sin i rith na bliana seo chughainn.

In connection with the bogs acquired by the county councils during the emergency and let at fairly reasonable rents, I should like the Minister to get the Land Commission to intervene and acquire these bogs for division amongst the people who had them during the emergency years. In our county alone, there were 990 users of these bogs and I think there were a greater number in Longford. The county manager and county engineer got it into their heads that it would be as well to give the bogs back to the original owners and to let them set them this year. When they did that, they found that the original owners advertised them and put them up for auction at £2 and £3 a perch. A special emergency Order had to be invoked and the turf banks were resumed and let this year at the ordinary price to the people who had them for the past seven or eight years. Many of these people were cottagers and small farmers who never had turf before and who had to buy small assloads of turf coming into the town. The securing of these bogs was a blessing and a boon to them, and I appeal to the Minister to take action with regard to acquiring and dividing these bogs in my constituency and I suppose I may say in every constituency where bogs which were let through the county council in those years exist.

On the question of the vesting of land, I should like to know from the Minister why delays occur on certain estates. In some cases where land has been acquired and houses built, the farms have been vested, while, on an estate like the Lyster-Smith estate in County Westmeath, which was taken over under the 1923 Act, there has been no vesting yet. I know it is a very intricate problem, but that is an estate in respect of which I see no difficulty whatever in going ahead with vesting. Where there are such estates in my constituency I should like the Minister to look into them because they cover a considerable area and a number of farmers are affected.

I was surprised to hear from Government supporters in the debate to-day appeals to the Minister to intervene where estates are up for sale and to take them over. Surely that is an interference with free sale. Under the Land Acts, if they were sold yesterday, they can be acquired to-morrow and divided. I was surprised to hear such an appeal made by Government supporters, and I do not believe that the Government, no matter how bad it is, and it is bad enough, will carry out such a confiscatory policy.

It was advocated by Deputy Giles that the payment of annuities be extended over a period of 120 to 150 years. I do not think the people who got these farms will stand for that at all. If those who were lucky to get farms have a 68½ years' annuity period, those getting farms now would claim the same. It is for the State to intervene and do justice to the landowner. It is for the State to find money to enable the incoming tenant or fee simple owner to get the same annuity on his holding by putting up the difference. I do not think the rural population will stand for anything else.

Deputy Flanagan referred to a gentleman who bought a farm in my constituency and he multiplied the acreage by ten. I recalled the flight of the Wild Geese when our forebears flew to Spain, France and Germany. I never read of any Deputy Flanagan getting up in the French Assembly or the Spanish Cortes and making a scandalous speech such as he made in this House to-day.

You took care not to say that until he had gone.

He is perfectly right.

I will say it in any parish.

Would you say it at Horseleap?

I will, and anywhere else I like. Then he makes an attack on Deputy Gorry about getting a farm. I heard Deputy Giles admit a while ago that he got a farm from the Land Commission. More power to him. He was entitled to it and it was no disgrace. We cannot expect anything else from Deputy Flanagan, or from Deputy O'Higgins, either.

I would like the Deputy to explain what he means by that.

I will not explain anything unless the Chair asks me.

Because you are not capable.

I would remind Deputy O'Higgins and Deputy Collins that they do not own the House.

I think, Sir, your attention has been drawn to the fact that it is the regular practice of Deputy Collins and Deputy O'Higgins to interrupt frequently speakers on this side of the House. They are apparently making a practice of it. I want to draw your attention to it.

They are quite in order in doing it.

It is quite disorderly.

People in glasshouses should not throw stones, Deputy.

You are getting a taste of your own medicine.

We heard the statement from Deputy Giles about the Jews in County Meath. I do not know whether Deputy Giles is a Jew baiter or not. I represented County Meath up to three months ago and I failed to see them. If they were Irish citizens they were entitled to buy a farm that was up for sale in County Meath.

You will get a seat in Rathmines some day.

I would suggest to the Minister that, when he is acquiring estates in the vicinity of towns, he should establish cow parks. There is a number of cow parks in County Westmeath. There is a fewer number in County Meath. They are a success. They enable poor men to keep a cow and calf. The rent charged around the town of Moate for the use of the cow park there is £2 5s. 0d. for the summer. That is very reasonable. In our constituency, when the Minister is taking over an estate in the vicinity of a town, in view of the scarcity of the milk supply in the Midlands, he should consider allotting portion of the land for the purpose of a cow park.

I would be only too glad to do it at any time.

Yes, I am sure.

That is, provided land is available.

I am only drawing the Minister's attention to it. I also heard Deputy Flanagan—Deputy O'Higgins can convey this to him also—stating how he was called on when land was being divided in his area as the local Fianna Fáil representative. I always saw the Land Commission inspectors calling on the parish priest, the local teacher, sometimes on the local doctor and certainly they called on the local councillor.

Did they call on the secretary of the local Fianna Fáil cumann?

Deputy Moylan, when he spoke, gave an assurance that, from the passing of the Land Act, 1933, wherein the powers as set out in Section 6 were vested in the judicial commissioners, he never interfered in the division of land beyond passing on the recommendations of particular T.D.s who made representations to him. He gave that assurance and the House should accept that assurance. To go back to the point I am making —before I became a T.D., and since I became a T.D., I have seen the Land Commission inspector call on the parish priest, and on the local councillor. In my own town I saw the local councillor going out on a bog division with him and I did not object and many people who did not deserve turbary got it in that particular bog. I did not want the job. I did not want the trouble. I knew that for the one who would get a bank three would fail. That councillor was a supporter of the Fine Gael Party.

No reference should be made to the action of any official and no reference should be made by which that official could possibly be identified. The Deputy said that when a particular bog was divided some people got turbary who were not entitled to it. There is a possibility of an official being identified by that statement. Deputies ought to be very careful in making such statements.

He was not criticising.

I am not criticising. I have no objection.

The statement was made that some people got bog who were not entitled to it. That, surely, is criticising an official.

In my judgment, they were not entitled to it. The official is a man who exercised his duties conscientiously, according to his lights. Deputy Flanagan also dealt with 36 people who were evicted, according to the last published report of the Land Commission's work, covering a period ended on the 31st March, 1947. There are 140,000 holders of land in Ireland and he dealt with 36. Any Deputy who has any experience of the Land Commission Collection Branch knows that they are humane and that, if there is any attempt to meet the annuities due, they go out of their way to facilitate the defaulting annuitant. I know a case where 20 years' arrears are due. I know of large and small sums being due. They are prepared to take two gales or a gale and a bit and stretch the payments over years. I think Deputy Madden and every other Deputy will bear me out in that. This thing of making a tragedy out of the 36 people who proved not fit to hold their land is only in keeping with Deputy Flanagan's form. All his attacks here about corruption and everything else are in keeping with his past. We do not mind how much he attacks us. We are all the better for it. We will meet him here or outside, or any of his colleagues, and we will answer these charges, if they are worth answering.

Deputy Davin said there was a Party committee to advise the Minister for Lands. That is Greek to me. I never heard of it before. I never knew of a Party committee to advise any Minister what to do and I would like Deputy Davin to tell us again about that fabulous committee that he spoke of. I never knew of it to be in existence in our Party. A Minister has enough to do to mind his Department without being advised by any outside Party. I think Ministers new to office will agree with me when they are a while in office.

Finally, I want to say that I am in agreement with the migration policy of the former Government and the present Government but the House should bear in mind that while a number of people are being translated from the congested areas to Meath, Kildare, Westmeath—of course they will not get into Tipperary; Tipperary for the Tipperary people—the smaller farms are being sold out in a free sale and the adjoining big landowner is gobbling up these farms. As fast as you are establishing families on the land in Meath and Westmeath, all over Leinster the small economic farm is disappearing. This Government and other Governments will have to look into that problem. It is one of the most pressing problems in the State. We talk about the flight from the land. That is happening. It is not the present Government's fault. It was not the previous Government's fault. The flight to the city continues. The small farm is being sold. I had to laugh when I heard about demesne walls. Big ranches are being created again. You are bringing people from the West and putting them there. More power to that, but the big ranch is being created. I move to report progress.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again to-morrow.