Land Reclamation Bill, 1949—Second Stage.

I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time. The Bill itself is quite simple and really contains only two effective provisions. One is the necessary statutory authority to the Land Commission to register a charge and, subsequently, to collect the rent arising therefrom, and the other provision is set out in Section 5 which empowers the Minister for Agriculture, where there is a common watercourse serving several holdings and the rehabilitation operations of one holding involve the necessity of clearing the common watercourse and releasing the waters drained off the upper land, to go in upon the watercourse and carry out upon it such works as may be necessary to give the effluent free passage down to the river or other outlet where it would normally go. I think I am right in saying that, in fact, this proviso amounts to no more than short circuiting the procedure whereby any farmer can require his neighbour to remove from a watercourse an obstruction the existence of which damages the first farmer's land, but the common law procedure for bringing the necessary compulsion to bear on the delinquent landholder is long, tortuous and subject to appropriate appeals and simply could not be depended upon exclusively in a project of this magnitude where expedition is needed.

Personally, I do not believe that the powers in Section 5 will fall to be used. If they should fall, I would not hesitate to use them, but the fact that they exist, in my opinion, will be sufficient to ensure that if there are any individuals who maliciously desire to injure their neighbour they must realise that the attempt is foredoomed to failure and, therefore, they will not make it. Deputies will notice that the provision is limited strictly to entering upon a common watercourse to do any works necessary to render it capable of carrying water that should normally pass through it and to dispose of the spoil in such manner as the Minister thinks fit. I direct the attention of the House to that particularly because I desire to emphasise that it is no more than the common law right of any farmer against his neighbour to ensure that there shall be left no obstacle in a watercourse the continued presence of which makes a nuisance on the land of the neighbour.

I take it, Sir, however, that, over and above explaining these two specific provisions in the Bill, this is the appropriate occasion to mention generally the purposes underlying the project. Deputies will have observed that on last Wednesday there appeared in the newspapers an invitation to farmers in eight specified counties who are prepared to undertake the work themselves to make application for the appropriate form on which to apply for a grant. To date we have received about 1,500 applications, and I am glad to think that so far we have been able to maintain our undertaking to reply to them by return of post. Owing, however, to the exigencies of the legislative programme, it was not possible to present this Bill to the House, and so Deputies may have noticed that the invitation which appeared in the newspapers was carefully framed so as to avoid even the appearance of anticipating the decision of the Oireachtas.

The project can be divided into two parts, one where the farmer desires to carry out the agreed works himself in consideration of receiving the grant when the work is completed. That part of the project falls within the general powers of the Minister for Agriculture, and so it was possible for me to put that in operation so soon as we were prepared to undertake the work. That is what was put into operation last Wednesday. The second part of the project relates to those farmers who, because they have not at their disposal the knowledge, the labour or the finance desire to have the work done by the Department of Agriculture. In their case the cost, at the rate of £12 per acre, will be charged upon their land in exactly the same way as a land annuity is now charged. It will be repayable to the Land Commission by way of an annuity in exactly the same way as they pay their annuity at present which is commonly known in the country as the rent.

Under the first part of the scheme, as advertised last Wednesday, the procedure is this. On the receipt of a letter asking for an application form, we forward to the applicant a form of application on which he is requested to state his name, the townland, the parish and the county, and the number of statute acres which he thinks it will be necessary to deal with, and nothing else. On receipt of that form completed, an officer of my Department will call upon him and discuss with him the condition of his land and, if the farmer has the time and the inclination, will walk the land with him, and will arrive at an agreed determination as to what work requires to be done if the full fertility of his soil is to be restored. On that agreement being substantially arrived at, as soon as may be a small outline sketch map of the farmer's holding will be furnished to him, with a description of the works required to be done, and a statement of the amount of the grant to which he will become entitled on completion of the works agreed upon.

The amount of the grant is based on a sum equal to two-thirds of the estimated cost of the work. There is no use my pretending to the House that we are in a position to bind ourselves to a valuer's determination of what the work will cost, nor is there any provision in the scheme which lays down precisely how the grant is to be determined. In fact, the basis of determination in every case will be an estimate by us of what the work should cost and an offer to the farmer, if he chooses to proceed with the work, of two-thirds of that amount on the completion of the job. When the farmer undertakes the task himself, he can carry it out with the assistance of his family or he can hire a neighbour's son or sons or, if there is a private contractor in the parish or in the neighbourhood, he can ask him for an estimate to do part or all of the work and have it done.

That is a matter entirely within his own discretion and into which I do not propose to inquire, my sole concern being, when he declares the work to have been done and seeks a certificate of payment, that on our examination of the holding we are satisfied the work has been done in a way that will give results. When that certificate issues, the farmer will then receive his grant in the shape of fertilisers spread upon the land reclaimed at the rate of six cwts. of ground rock phosphate and two tons of ground limestone, where the land requires that treatment, and in respect of each acre so treated the cash grant will be abated by a sum of £5. Where the land proves to be alkaline in its constitution, and no lime is required, a suitable adjustment is provided. If, in the unlikely event that its phosphatic content is sufficient, and it requires no phosphates, a suitable adjustment can be made and if, in some cases, neither lime nor phosphate is required, then the entire grant is payable in cash.

The point has been raised, where a considerable body of work falls to be done, is it reasonable to ask the farmer to complete the whole of the task before receiving anything on account. I think, on the whole, it would not be reasonable, but this stipulation must be made, and if, in special cases, where it is necessary, a payment on account should be made, it has to be agreed between us that the work will be done in such instalments that, were it to be abandoned after the first payment on account, that part which has been done would function, because unless that agreement were understood between us, the farmer who did a partial job and then abandoned the work might, in fact, do more harm than good; but if he sub-divides the work into units, any one of which, left standing alone, without the remainder of the work having been reached upon, would be a useful improvement of the land for which it was done, I think we can find a way whereby the difficulties of an individual farmer, who finds it hard to finance the whole undertaking before receiving any grant, can be met. I would ask the House to extend this indulgence to us.

The project is on an unprecedented scale. It is designed to meet problems for which we have no precedent and nothing to guide us. We are bound to meet problems as we go for which we cannot make anticipatory provision and, anxious as I am to be as precise and detailed as I can at this stage in informing the House of our intentions, I am bound to say that we are very conscious that individual cases may arise calling for special consideration in one way or another and can only lay down the overriding principle that if any adjustment is made to meet particular circumstances, anyone else whose circumstances are identical will have the advantage of whatever special provision may be made as the project proceeds, on the first occasion when those peculiar circumstances come to light.

It would have been a help if I had felt myself free to circulate a leaflet which is in proof, but I considered it would have been a discourtesy to the House to circulate a leaflet which might appear to anticipate the decision of the House. I will ask leave, however, in the event of the House giving a Second Reading to this Bill, to circulate a leaflet in proof which I aspire to place in the hands of every interested farmer in the country and which, I think, will inform any intending applicant of the procedure and the benefits that are available under the scheme in as clear and precise a manner as I know how to tell him.

Before I go to Part 2 and Part 3 of the general project, I should inform the House of the second part of the actual work programme itself. If the farmer, for any reason, prefers that the Department of Agriculture should do the work, exactly the same preliminary procedure is followed up to the point when the farmer is furnished with a sketch map of his holding with the works requiring to be done outlined upon it. If he then instructs the Department to proceed with the work, the Department will thereupon issue a certificate to the Land Commission on foot of which the Land Commission will charge the farmer's holding with the cost of the work. The Land Commission will then, with suitable machinery and equipment, proceed to carry out the work, including the application of fertilisers, where that is necessary, in accordance with the agreed scheme.

Did the Minister say the Land Commission would charge the holding with the cost of the work?

With £12 per acre. That is the cost to every farmer for reclamation as agreed between him and us and there can be no question of any obligation maturing or of a charge of any kind arising except on the request of the farmer, and on his written certificate, that he desires the charge to be put upon his land in exchange for the work stipulated for in the document signed by him.

I want the amount to be made clear.

Will it be £12 in every case?

£12 per acre in every case on land reclamation.

In no case will it be less?

No. But it is to be borne in mind that, when speaking of that charge, I speak of land that is being drained. If the Deputy has in mind land where perhaps nothing more than scrub is removed and no drainage is required——

That is what I wanted to know.

——that will have to be a matter for decision and agreement as the scheme proceeds. When the Deputy reflects upon the wide variety of works we contemplate undertaking, he will realise the virtual impossibility of particularising at this stage as to what the charge may be in respect of any parcel of land until it is ascertained what the nature of the work will be. The figure of £12 per acre relates to where drainage, fertilisation, and any adjustment to fences and so forth fall to be made. It is a guiding line to all of us here in order to understand the maximum charge that can fall upon a farmer who has potentially arable land requiring drainage and every other form of treatment which we are prepared to undertake in the confident belief that by such works we can make the land arable hereafter.

I venture to say to the House at this stage that, no matter how detailed I try to be, I cannot possibly anticipate every inquiry Deputies may have in their minds. I fully appreciate that Deputy Smith and Deputy O'Rourke, when intervening, merely desired to facilitate me in understanding the matter; but I would ask any other Deputy so interested if he would be kind enough to note down any apparent lacuna in what I am saying and be good enough subsequently to afford me an opportunity of dealing with the specific problems raised, after preparation and consideration, when they are speaking on the Second Reading so that I may give them all the information at my disposal.

I had reached the point that the sketch map had been submitted to the farmer. He had approved the proposed works and desired the agreed sum to be charged upon his holding and the Land Commission is then instructed to proceed with the work. I was about to say that at this point I desired to emphasise very expressly and very clearly that this land project has nothing whatever in it of a relief work, nor is it designed to relieve unemployment, nor has it any primary purpose other than to rehabilitate the land. It is a welcome point that in its operation it will provide honourable occupation for hard-working men. I would like to take this first opportunity of saying, in anticipation, to every man who works upon this project that he is under no obligation to the Government who employs him or to the community for whom he works. He will be working on the basis that for every £1 in wages he collects, he is giving to the community that pays him ample value for the £1 it pays; and so I hope to get the best workmen in the country, proud to take a part in what I like to think will be some of the most valuable work that has ever been done in this country. We will employ, where we are called upon to undertake such work, every mechanical device, every instrument that modern science and knowledge can make available to us for the expeditious and efficient performance of our task.

Our aim will be to eliminate in so far as we possibly can low-paid manual labour and to substitute therefor training in the use of the most efficient machinery that our resources will allow, with a corresponding reward for those who operate it. I have always believed that the way to raise wages in rural Ireland is to place within the reach of the workers in rural Ireland equipment that will enable one agricultural worker to do what ten men were required to do 20 years ago. When that one man is so equipped and provides his employer with a return, no greater mistake can be made than to attempt to relate his remuneration to the remuneration appropriate to his grandfather who had no more efficient instrument to hand than a pickaxe or a shovel. I am happy to think, were anyone now to attempt to impose upon those who use the implements of modernity, with the corresponding return therefrom, the wage rates appropriate to the pick and shovel that they will leave and seek service with someone else who will pay them the fair wage for the work they do. I hope and pray our people will always have that opportunity so that those who contemplate their exploitation at home will be faced with notice permanently that, in addition to its being immoral to make the attempt, it is impracticable to hope that such an attempt can ever be brought to realisation. I hope to see employment upon this of country boys who, instead of being directed in the archaic art of the pick and shovel, will be trained to use the best machinery the world can provide. I hope to see these country boys grow into mature operators permanently working for their own neighbours in their own country, not because they are commanded by some patriotic sense of duty to do so, but because their own neighbours will have awakened to the elementary fact that the labourer is worthy of his hire.

Now, I know that it has been a popular catch-cry in this country for many years to say that the agricultural community grudge a fair wage to their workers. I have always proceeded on the basis that that contention is untrue, that the farmers of this country are ready and willing to pay a fair wage if they have the wherewithal to pay it. In the profound conviction that the farmers of this country have never denied, and have never wished to deny, a fair wage to those who work for them, my aim is to see that the operatives on this project, who will be working for the farmers as no one in Ireland has ever worked before, will be paid a wage commensurate with the results of the work they do. The more they get done with the power of modern machines and equipment, the more they will get paid, and perhaps we shall see the time when, with the use of modern methods on the land, there will be a rate of remuneration in rural Ireland commensurate with that of industrial workers who, by the use of modern machinery, can command wages which at present bear so striking a comparison with the normal level of wage rates in the rural parts of this country.

The second division of this project envisages the emergence throughout the country of a number of enterprising young men who will desire to set up as drainage contractors, holding themselves forth as prepared to equip themselves with machinery and to work on contract, either for the Department or directly for their neighbours. According to the kinds of work that they desire to equip themselves to be able to do, we shall inform them of the varieties of machinery which, in our experience, have proved satisfactory and the user of which, on work with which we are concerned, we are prepared to approve. If from the list of a number of implements they choose equipment for certain classes of work, in suitable cases where they are prepared from their own resources to provide one-third of the cost of that machinery, a loan of one-third will be arranged and a grant of one-third will also be given. The loan will be repayable in instalments over a period of five years—in ten half-yearly payments of between £11 and £12 per £100 borrowed. I do not exclude from that facility any person whose employment, in all the circumstances, would be advantageous to the community in which they live. What is present to my mind is this: normally when we think of a person we think of an individual citizen. I want the House to take the word "person" as meaning more than that; I do not exclude a parish council as a person. I do not exclude a co-operative society as a person. Nor would I wish the House rigidly to limit my discretion in altering the basis on which a loan will be made available where circumstances demand and expediency suggests that course.

I think we must ordain that the amount of the grant will be the same for all comers if they are approved, but I can conceive a situation arising in which one knew some chap who was really a first-class fellow, whom a number of neighbours indicated their readiness to employ and who; if he had some capital and if he had access to a loan for a larger percentage of the capital cost of the machinery, would embark on its repayment without delay. I think it would be a hardship and wrong if, in these circumstances, we found ourselves utterly unable to surmount the difficulty and were obliged to refuse him the opportunity of being able to give valuable assistance in the performance of our task, simply because we debarred ourselves from making the necessary credit available.

Ordinarily—I would say more than generally and only subject to rare exceptions — the intending purchaser would be expected to put up one-third of the cost in addition to the loan of one-third and the grant of one-third because, in the vast generality of cases, men must have a substantial part of their own money invested in the machinery if they are going to take that care of it and use it with that prudent circumspection that the owners of valuable machinery normally observe, but there could be such cases, and I do not think that any undue apprehension about letting some fellow get away with something should deter us calmly facing our responsibility and answering for what we do when we envisage the possibility of exceptional individuals deserving a more liberal class of treatment in so far as the credit element of the facilities outlined is concerned.

I come now to the last part of this project. I want to emphasise very clearly to the House that this is a matter of time. It cannot be done overnight; all that can be done is being done to expedite the full realisation of it. Grass is one of the most valuable crops grown in this country. In a country such as ours, with our climate and our annual rainfall, no one but a lunatic would fail to appreciate that the circumstances obtaining here properly availed of afford an unexampled opportunity for growing grass as a crop better than in any country in the world. If we are to grow grass as a crop, however, we must be as circumspect and as careful in the choice of our seed as we are in the choice of seed for any cereal or root crop such as is traditionally sown. Largely as a result of the obscurantist brayings of political agriculturists for some time in this country, people have failed to appreciate fully that grass is a crop and not just a terrestrial accident. It must be sown in its appropriate place in rotation; it must be sown with discrimination in the right variety and it must receive the appropriate manurial treatment just as any other crop.

I am not going to dwell on the benefits conferred upon us by the wise decisions of the recent past, but the hay seed that was sold in this country during the last quinquennium would make a cat laugh and we have got to try and repair that. To that end we are now propagating Timothy and Cocksfoot of indigenous strain, the seed of which has been saved by some of the distinguished agronomists of our own institutions and we are in the process of selecting and initiating the propagation of an acceptable strain of indigenous perennial rye grass. But we are at once confronted with the problem of propagating such a crop. The desirable feature of an indigenous rye grass is that it runs more to leaf than to seed. That makes it eminently desirable from the point of view of the man who grows the crop for conversion into ensilage, hay or pasture, but from the point of view of the farmer who grows grass seed for sale it is little consolation to him that the quality of hay seed is superb if the yield of the crop is only 5 cwt. instead of 12 cwt. so that the very quality of the grass which commends itself to the farmer makes it a most unwelcome crop to the farmer who habitually grows it for the commercial grass seed market. It is not appropriate that at this stage I should trouble the House with the devices we propose to employ to overcome that problem, but our aim is to eliminate over a period of years from the grass seed market here of all of what are now known as commercial strains. We want to ensure that nothing will be sold on the domestic grass seed market but the produce of pedigree strain, such as rye grass seed perennially renewed and reselected by competent agronomists. Their primary function it will be to maintain a basic stock from which those who grow stocks for the ordinary channels of commerce will be perennially supplied and facilitated in the disposal of it to the seed merchants at a price which will make it possible for those seed merchants to sell it in the ordinary course of trade on the domestic market at a price not in excess of that normally chargeable for the strains normally bought by the farmer who buys it for the purpose of selling his crop.

With regard to wild white clover, which is an essential constituent, we have been advised that there is no advantage in propagating it here, as strains can be procured from abroad which will be quite as good and as valuable as anything indigenous to our own soil. If hereafter further research makes it clear that any advantage is to be had from the selection of the indigenous strain, an exactly similar procedure will be followed. The ultimate aim is to make available to the farmers of this country appropriate seeds and strains at a price not in excess of the commercial varieties available. Let me repeat, however, that any development of that kind cannot be brought about in a short time and that the very earliest time at which I could hope to encourage the House to expect that commercial varieties of seed will have disappeared off the market in this country is at the end of a period of ten years. In the interval we hope to make steadily increasing quantities available with the passing of each year, but the earliest possible time at which they will be available to everybody at the commercial rates is at the end of ten years and it might take longer.

I think I should inform the House lastly as to the organisation and I earnestly press on the House to believe that if in these introductory remarks I have overlooked some facet of the plan with which it seems to them I should have dealt, they should excuse this on the grounds that I am so immersed in it that I find it hard to remember that there are things which I know clearly and certainly which, of course, members of the House could not know inasmuch as they have not heard of them and I will gladly answer any queries which are put to me when I am winding up the discussion. Perhaps I should recapitulate the present envisaged purposes. They are: field drainage, one; land reclamation in general—and that is a deliberately designed anomalous kind of term which would permit the officers of my Department to adapt their procedure to any unforeseen problem which comes within the generic term of land reclamation. Construction and improvement of watercourses; the removal of unnecessary fences causing waste or impeding cultivation. I know how attractive many of our whitethorn and blackthorn hedges are, and I want to make it as clear as crystal to the House that there is no nihilist intention in the Department of Agriculture to sweep through the country like an avenging deity, wiping away every fence, every hedge and every bush in Ireland. It would be an outrage on the amenities of the countryside, and it would be agricultural folly to boot. Many of these hedges are of value as protection and shelter for live stock and it would be reckless folly to sweep them away without discrimination. No such intention is present to the mind of the director of this project, but it is equally manifest that, with the passage of time, many of the double ditches which are supposed to act as fences in fact spread themselves out over the surface of the land and where crops of one kind or another should be growing there is an herbarium of nettles, weeds and herbs, not to speak of the multifarious pests which habitually abide in the bosom of such botanical collections. It is desired in many such cases, of the shough and the attendant sprawling bank, to lay in the shough a pipe drain, then to go behind the bank with a bulldozer and push the bank down on top of the shough and then put the roller over the whole shebang.

If there are strong roots in the fence, what will you do with them?

I will consult the Deputy —what else? Perhaps that was a sharp retort. I can assure the Deputy that I hope, when we embark on this project—quite seriously, I reasonably hope —it will be undertaken by us all, and that the special knowledge each of us has in our own particular districts will be at the disposal of those charged with the responsibility of making this a success. May I take the occasion to say to Deputies on both sides of the House that we enter upon it with no sense of omniscience and would very greatly value any helpful advice or suggestions that might be offered in respect of any local project of which people may have peculiar knowledge. Whether they are adopted or not, the fact that they are offered will be gratefully acknowledged and they are assured of respectful and careful examination. Nor would I wish that any Deputy on any side of the House should feel any reluctance whatever in approaching either myself or any of the officers of my Department concerned with this project for any information or assistance or any other purpose which they believe would serve the common good.

In that connection of removing useless and old fences, we have power to substitute for such fences proper ones and these, as we are at present advised, would best be constructed with concrete posts and wire suitable to the particular holding we are called upon to treat. It is exceedingly difficult to secure any degree of survival for timber posts, no matter how carefully creosoted or treated, and once one rots away the whole fence tends to collapse. Concrete posts suitably set are enduring and if the wire from time to time requires replacement it presents no serious difficulty. There, again, our intention in that regard is quite susceptible to alteration if experience in the work suggests some other medium of fencing as being more generally suitable.

The improvement of hill grazing— that is quite unbroken territory in this country, as it has never been done before. The classic experiment on that work has been done at the Cahn Hill farm in Wales, while a good deal of work of that kind has been done in the Scottish highlands. We may well find, in the peculiar conditions obtaining here, a variant of the work they have done, which is peculiar to our conditions. Nor am I unaware that, when I come to define hill grazing, I will find the vigilant eye of the Minister for Lands following me with severe, if fraternal, solicitude wherever I go. However, I have no doubt that, with the co-operative spirit which informs an inter-Party Government, the Minister and I will be able to delineate our respective spheres of influence and on his trees will emerge, while mine will accommodate quadrupeds and men. I shall not say anything more provocative about forestry than that at the moment.

The reclamation of estuarine marshlands and callows covers two projects. In many areas where arterial drainage is done, about to be done, or is in the process of doing, there emerge considerable stretches of land which has been subject to periodic inundation which is now very valuable alluvial land, but because its area is so considerable on what is otherwise a small and poor holding the farmer who owns it has never been able to put the capital into it to remove the silts and generally to reclaim it and make it arable again. Were he in a position to do so, much of that callow land would be the most valuable arable land of this country. We propose to do it for him.

When you come to the reclamation of estuarine marsh-land, I do not want to secure the cordial approval of Deputy O'Grady on any false pretence. We are firmly resolved to deal with that problem, but those Deputies who are familiar with the nature of reclamation of estuarine marsh will realise that it belongs to a category of work quite distinct from the general type of agricultural land reclamation. It would be my intention to invite the advice of the leading firms of Dutch engineers in any project which we embark upon in this matter. I am informed that in Great Britain when this type of work was undertaken it was ultimately found desirable to seek the advice, and in some cases the assistance, of the experienced Dutch engineering firms who have a well-established tradition of dealing with the problems arising from inundation by the sea. I do not necessarily say that will have to depend exclusively on their co-operation, but I think it would be reckless to embark on this type of work without at least having the benefit of the advice of such experienced persons and probably the services of individuals trained under their engineers, or at least apprenticed to them for some time, either in Holland or on some particular project which we contemplate here.

The last matter on which I wish to inform the House is one on which I crave a certain indulgence. Eight counties are already under way. I suppose I need make no protracted apology for associating all this work in some measure with the work which was done to make this land our own.

I do not deny that it gives me some certain satisfaction to have been appointed by my own people to repair the land in 1949 which the Land League recovered for our people in 1879. I propose, unless most sternly reprehended, to afford myself the indulgence of extending this project to the County Mayo on 16th August, which is the 70th anniversary of the day on which Michael Davitt founded the Land League in Castlebar. I suppose the most pedestrian amongst us will not resent the manifest irregularity of striking west into Mayo all on its own. I do not deny that we are striking west into Mayo all on its own, for no other reason than that it was to be included some day, and I could think of no more appropriate date than that anniversary, when, by launching the project in Mayo, we could recall to all our people that we would not have land on which to work that project if Michael Davitt had not done what he did in very much more difficult circumstances 70 years ago in Castlebar.

After that slight excursion into pardonable sentiment about the 16th August, I am happy to inform the House that we hope to be able, on a later and suitable date before the end of October, to encompass Tipperary, Waterford, Cork, Limerick and Kerry in the sphere of our activities. Not a sod will be turned or a drain dug in Cork, unlike the flax mill, during the election. Deputy Allen need not worry about that. We are building no flax mills and we are not raising the price of milk by 6d. a gallon. We are not going to weave linen——

A penny or twopence would do.

——and we are not going to make hens hatch in a fortnight— pure, simple, pedestrian, everyday jobs until after the by-election. If it will relieve Deputy Smith, Deputy Allen and Deputy McGrath, if they think the inclusion of Cork will have the slightest effect on the by-election, I will cut out Cork. Is that agreed?

I suggest that we cut out West Cork from this discussion.

I hope you, Sir, will acquit me of having brought it in. If, however, Deputy Smith or Deputy Allen or Deputy McGrath will certify to me that they think that this is calculated to have the slightest improper effect upon the minds of the electors of West Cork, I will cut out Cork.

Has the Minister a candidate in Cork?

I am entirely in the hands of the House in this matter. When we have brought that traditional area into the ambit of our activities, I think we may then hope that, after a shorter period than has elapsed between the initiation and the addition of these counties, to add the next group.

Just south of the Border.

We have Monaghan under way and Louth, and, in our extension to the next group, I promise the House that I shall ask no further indulgence for such sentimental journeys as I have envisaged in Mayo. Nothing but the exigencies of expeditious and efficient expansion will influence my judgment.

You are leaving out Parnell and County Meath.

I thought Parnell was born in County Wicklow.

County Meath elected him.

What about Grangegorman? Would you not include it?

If the Deputy is looking for sharp answers, he will get them, but let us forbear from acrimonious wit on this occasion. I think I ask too much of the officers of my Department who are responsible for the prosecution of these works, though I sometimes wonder if it is possible to ask too much of the public servants of this State, considering the astonishing measure of their achievement; but trusting in their power to perform quasi-miracles when the national interest demands it, I venture to prognosticate to the House that, before 12 months have elapsed from the date on which this project was initiated, last Wednesday, to wit, it will be in progress in every one of the 26 counties of this part of Ireland. That will demand a degree of effort on the part of those responsible for it which it is not really just to demand. Nevertheless, as has been so often done before, I am going to make that request of them. I know that, if it is humanly possible to perform it, it will be done, and, if it is not done, the only reason will be that the physical limitations which restrict men's efforts will be such as to make it quite impossible.

I renew my invitation to every Deputy who has not had every query answered in these opening words to ask me whatever he desires to know and I shall do my best to answer him. I commend this modest Bill to the House not for its contents which are not significant but for its poetic significance, in that we start, as I see it to-day, on the completion of a work that was started 70 years ago — the reclamation of the land of this country not only from dereliction and poverty, but the completion of the task of the reclamation of the land of this country from the landlords for our own people, but they may use it for ever more for the betterment of those to whom it belongs.

The Minister has attempted to explain his failure to follow the practice which has grown up in this House over a long number of years of issuing with a Bill presented here on Second Reading an explanatory memorandum. He has, it appears to me, been over-sensitive in this matter, inasmuch as his explanation of his failure is that he was not anxious to anticipate any decision that might be arrived at by the House on the measure itself. I am not contending that, in so far as the short Bill before us is concerned, it is a measure which might call for an explanatory memorandum, but it will at least be admitted that it is the machinery whereby a very elaborate scheme will be implemented. When he invites Deputies, as he has just done in concluding, to make to him suggestions as to the shortcomings of the scheme he has outlined, he will, I think, admit that Deputies not only on this side but on every side of the House would have been in a much better position to analyse and examine the scheme, with a view to making such suggestions as he has asked for, designed to strengthen where necessary, any weaknesses which may exist, weaknesses which will surely be found to exist in a scheme of the kind which he has outlined if such an explanatory memorandum had been made available.

Let me examine the Bill as I see it. As the Minister has stated, there are only two sections that call for much comment — Sections 2 and 5.

May I send the Deputy a copy of this leaflet?

It is all right. It is not of much value to me now. It is understandable, of course, that the Land Commission will require statutory powers to enable them, where the farmer so requests, to deal with the contribution which he is called upon to make under this scheme and to have the charge registered against his holding. There is one point in Section 2 on which I would like information. Where a farmer indicates his willingness to pay the contribution in cash, and where under sub-section (4) of Section 2 he defaults, the Land Commission is notified of such default and I take it, although the farmer has stated originally that he would pay the contribution in cash, is then empowered to charge and register the sum against the holding.

Under Section 3.

Under Section 3, yes. I am a layman and I have not had an opportunity of discussing with others what they think of that provision but, at first sight, while it may not be desperately objectionable, there is something about it that does not appeal to me. I will only go so far as to register my suspicion or to express my doubt as to the justice of that course. From the point of view of the State it may be all right.

I am amazed at the ease and freedom and the manner in which this particular Minister disposed of Section 5. I just cannot find words to express my feelings about it. When I say this particular Minister I mean it in the sense that a Minister for Agriculture who has made known his own feelings so often on the rights of private property should be the person responsible for introducing a measure which contains a section of that sort without any qualification whatever as to the rights that are ordinarily recognised as rights to which private owners are entitled.

Do you think he could make the scheme a success——

Never mind what I think. Deputy Hickey is a city man, a Labour man, and I understand his point of view in regard to this matter and the country understands it. When I have concluded my analysis of this particular section, Deputy Hickey and the other Labour members who will be enthusiastic in their support of a provision of this kind will be free to speak for whatever length they decide. While that Section 5 would carry considerable objection to me no matter who might happen to find himself in the position of Minister for Agriculture, it baffles me beyond description that such a section should be inserted without qualification or limitation by a Minister who has expressed himself so often on this particular matter. Let me say at once that I am not objecting to the powers that are sought in Section 5, but I am objecting to the fact that they should stand out there naked in this short measure and that they should be inserted by a Minister for Agriculture who, even in this very Bill, acknowledges that he will not undertake any work whatever unless on request of the landowner concerned. Remember, the whole basis of these proposals is that the initiative must come from the landowner, that not fourpence worth of work will be done unless and until the landowner applies and the application is vetted and an estimate is prepared and the applicant says he is satisfied with the estimate and will go ahead or authorise the Department to go ahead with the work.

The Bill sets out machinery of that kind for the purpose of enabling a desirable sort of useful work to be undertaken either by the owner of the land or by the State, but, under Section 5, if my neighbour applies to the Department and the application is vetted and an estimate is prepared and submitted to the applicant and the applicant informs the Minister that he is not prepared to undertake the work and asks the Department to do so, the Minister for Agriculture or his agents or servants, without notice, without even informing me, can walk in themselves and take with them whatever machinery they may think fit or proper to use.

I want the House and the Minister to realise that, personally, I am not in the least concerned as to what the Minister or other members of the House may say in reply to the criticism that I am offering against this section. I can only tell the Minister and the House what my own feelings as a landowner would be if I were treated in that fashion. If, under this Bill, and without amendment, the procedure I have described can be resorted to by the Minister or by his agents and servants, all I can say — and I am not, as a landowner, an unreasonable person in so far as the rights of my neighbour are concerned— is that if he were to attempt to behave in the fashion I have described, then I certainly, as a landowner, would endeavour, even at the risk of breaking the law, to prevent such a happening.

Prevent what happening?

Prevent the Minister, his agent or servant, from moving along the banks of what the Minister— although it is not mentioned in the Bill itself—has seen fit to describe it as a "common watercourse", without even telling those into whose lands he is moving that he is actually opening the gap, that he is making a breach in the mearing fence.

I do not think the Deputy has grasped the section—"So as to render it capable of carrying waters that should normally pass through it..."

I do not mind whether it is water that should normally pass through it or not. That is a very delicate technical question into which I am not going to go. What I am saying is this and I challenge the Minister to deny it, having regard to the picture that he has given to us and to the country of himself and of his attitude towards the rights of individuals in regard to their property and the respect we are all to have for that property. What I am saying is that when that application is approved and when I, as a farmer, apply under this scheme—when I have the estimate from the Minister's Department and say it is satisfactory; when I say that I am not prepared to carry out that work myself and write back to the Department and say, "I am prepared to allow you to go ahead with this work; I will pay you in cash or allow you to have a charge registered against my holding"—the Minister, his servants or agents can move down to the scene without even telling my nearest neighbour, whether the field adjoining this common watercourse is in oats, wheat, potatoes or hay, that they are going to go in. In the course of the last couple of weeks we have been discussing another Bill in this House on which a great deal has been said with regard to the whole principle of notice and of the rights of the private owner and so forth. I do not want to cover that subject at all. However, I think that, bad and all as the Works Bill was in that regard, prior to its amendment as a result of the criticism levelled against it by the Opposition, this Bill, short as it is, is a most lamentable performance. It is all the more a lamentable performance by reason of the fact that it has been sponsored in this House and has been explained to this House —to the extent that he has actually explained it at all—by a Minister who has expressed the views with which we are all familiar and on which I have already made sufficient comment.

Personally, then, I do not mind whether the Minister is going to be influenced by my objections to this section. As the saying is, you can stick your head in the air and go off and insist upon this Bill in the form in which it has been presented here, without amendment. You can, and I shall not be concerned. But I say that if you do, you are doing something you should not do. I admit that if I occupied the post the Minister occupies, I would be as fond as any man of being armed with the necessary powers to undertake a useful and necessary public work. At the same time, I think I would be the first to admit that the private person has the right to be told what is happening. Not only that, but I would be the first to admit that the private owner has the right to have some means by which, if an injury or an injustice is about to be inflicted, he will have some sort of tribunal, whatever it may be, before which he would be heard in order to get——

There is no need at all to get cross about it. If the Deputy wishes to submit any amendment along those lines, I shall be prepared to consider it favourably.

That is very nice. An invitation like that is all very good but, after all, the insertion of some protective provision in the Bill was such an obvious requirement that I cannot understand why the Minister should have allowed it to come in here without having made an attempt to meet something that was glaringly called for. Now, after we have listened to an hour's speech, the invitation is thrown across at me. I have not the Attorney-General nor the legal officers of the Government to advise me. As I say, I am a layman. Yet, on the very first shot from the Opposition against this provision, the Minister invites me to submit an amendment.

I think it is unnecessary, but I want to meet the Deputy, if he feels any undue unhappiness about it, if I possibly can. I do not want to thrust it on the House at all. I think any amendment is unnecessary, but if I can be of any assistance to any Deputy to meet his legitimate anxieties, I am most anxious to help. Can I be more reasonable than that?

That was a provision that was so obvious in this measure that I cannot take the invitation as a legitimate excuse for its not being here. As far as this Bill is concerned, I would say that these are the two matters that call for comment. Now, let us come to the scheme. It is because of the elaborateness of the scheme—not because of what is actually in the Bill, but because of the intricacies of the scheme outlined by the Minister—that I think, in fairness to the House and to the Deputies, we should have got, not yesterday nor the day before, but a week ago, a detailed memorandum setting out in paragraphs (1), (2), (3), (4) what the scheme aims at, as the Minister has attempted to explain it to the House. The Minister himself should be the first to realise, in order that the discussion on the provisions of this scheme should be an intelligent discussion, that that was necessary.

The scheme is in two parts. The first part is where an applicant intends to carry out the work of reclamation himself. I am not clear from what the Minister said that I have got all the details. From previous reports which appeared, in the main in the Sunday Independent, we were given to understand that, in the event of the applicant's undertaking the reclamation work himself, a maximum grant per acre would be payable to him of, I think, £18. According to the statement we have heard from the Minister, the applicant is likely to receive two-thirds of the estimated cost of the work. I am not sure which of these I am to regard as representing what is in the mind of the Minister and his Department.

There is one thing that does puzzle me. At the conclusion of his speech the Minister explained that this scheme had in fact been introduced already in eight counties, and he then proceeded to describe the process by which it would apply all over the country. I can see the impossibility of building up a staff which would be able to apply this scheme in its entirety to the Twenty-Six Counties; that is, if parts one and two were to be operated at the same time. My own view is in conflict with that of the Minister's. Why apply the scheme in its entirety as a first step? If you apply the scheme in such a way that an applicant can undertake the work himself or, if he does not wish to undertake the work himself, some State Department will do so, you will require very elaborate machinery and it will be very hard to perfect it so as to be able to deal with the Twenty-Six Counties at the one time.

Here is how I would approach the problem. I would say the first part of the scheme refers to landowners who apply on the understanding that they will supervise and carry out the work themselves. There has been in existence over a period of years, perhaps not a sufficient staff, but at least a fairly decent skeleton staff trained for work in connection with the farm improvements scheme. By adding to that staff three or four or perhaps half a dozen in any particular county you would have a sufficient staff with experience to operate the first part of the scheme and you would not be letting the Department in for undertaking something in a short period which would be a physical impossibility. I am not making this point because I am in any way jealous of any particular county which may have been selected for prior treatment. I am suggesting that it would be a better approach if the second part of the scheme were brought in gradually. In bringing in the second part of the scheme you could limit it if you felt it was desirable. You could apply the first part to the whole country, because you have the skeleton staff of inspectors under the farm improvements scheme. You could then, in a gradual way, bring in the second part of the scheme in order to get on with the work quickly as to give farmers who applied some evidence that you were going to get on with the work in a reasonable time.

That would be a fairer way because, as I understand it, in introducing the scheme envisaged as a result of the passage of this Bill and actually putting it into operation prior to the passage of the Bill, inasmuch as the Minister has power to allow the first part of the scheme to go on even without the powers he is seeking here in relation to eight counties, you are cutting out previous activities which were carried on all over the country under the farm improvements scheme. In that way you are doing an injustice. If it were something that could not be overcome, I could see the reason for it. As I see things, the proper approach to the implementation of the scheme would be that the first part of the scheme should be applied in a general way all over the Twenty-Six Counties on the understanding that we had already the technical staff and the people with sufficient knowledge and training to carry it out. Then the second part of the scheme, which provides that the Department would take responsibility for the execution of the work, could be introduced if necessary in a piecemeal fashion. If it were not necessary, of course it could be applied to the whole country.

The Minister is quite right in saying there will be snags in abundance arising out of the operation of a scheme like this, as in some respects at least it may be somewhat different from what has been already in operation for some years. I am sure that I cannot foresee all these snags but I can foresee some of them. I should like to get some indication as to how these could be overcome. It is not unusual to find in low-lying districts portion of the holdings of a considerable number of farmers affected by flooding. That would be the sort of case in which there would be what the Minister referred to as a common drain or watercourse.

Is the Deputy referring to what is called callow land — land subject to periodic flooding?

I am referring to the sort of drainage problem which exists in practically every parish over 70 per cent. of the area of the country. You have small pockets of land affected by periodic flooding.

This scheme would not cover that. That would come more under the scheme outlined by the Minister for Local Government, under which minor rivers will be widened and deepened to prevent periodic overflow.

That makes the matter even more obscure than ever, because I can visualise many of the applications under this scheme arising from the sort of situation I have described where you would have, say, a pocket of land that would be subject to periodic flooding.

No, field drainage would cover that.

Why then Section 5?

To let the drainage carry more.

I am talking about a common watercourse. The Minister in his Second Reading speech referred to what he called a common watercourse although it is not mentioned in the Bill. I take that to mean a watercourse that would facilitate the passage of water from the holdings of, say, two, three, four, five or six people. Is that not right?

You are looking for powers in Section 5 to enable the Minister, his agents or servants to deal with a common watercourse?

Definitely.

I will put myself in the position of a landowner who is in some way anxious to benefit by this particular scheme. I apply to have certain improvement works carried out which will relieve some portion of my holding from surplus water and enable the drains on the farm to function properly, not only the existing drains, but any new drains. On the Minister's servant coming to inspect the application he finds that it will be necessary to deal with this common watercourse described by the Minister. The estimate is approved by the Department and it is sent down to me, the applicant. I am agreeable to what is proposed.

What has this to do with periodic flooding?

If you just let me develop this case I believe that I could make this clear. I would, as I say, indicate my willingness to have my holding charged with the sum of £12 per acre in order to effect the proposed improvement to my land. The Minister's servants would then proceed to execute the work. In doing so, by opening the common drain, they might do a considerable amount of damage further down the stream by allowing the water to move more freely into an area that was not drained, so as to admit of its passing to the main artery as it would be required. In one case the work might result in doing considerable injury and in another case the work might result in conferring a benefit on my neighbour's holding, although my neighbour's holding would not be charged in any way with part of the cost of the scheme.

You would not grudge him that.

It is all very well for Deputy Timoney to talk in terms of grudging that.

I am sure you would not. You are a decent man.

Never mind. I am not any more decent than anybody else. I am approaching this as a problem that I can see arising as a result of this scheme as it has so far been explained to us. I have no doubt whatever that a problem such as this would arise.

Have we left the topic of periodic flooding?

You never know. I have not, of course, dealt at all with the arguments that can be used against the announced intention of the Minister in regard to the Holmes Report. It is all very well to say that it is not intended under this scheme to deal with periodic flooding. However, when we come into close contact with that we find that the Minister is only anxious to engage in work of a kind that will enable a farmer to have his field drains cleaned and to have an outlet that will permit of the water being taken out of the field drains—those that are in existence and those that may be created. You must remember that in dealing with the common watercourse to which the Minister has referred and in making it possible that that common watercourse will take the water from the field drains, the water from the field drains gets into the common watercourse; the common watercourse flows into the little stream to the minor river.

And there my responsibility ends.

The minor river flows into some tributary in some other catchment. No matter how you attempt to look at this you can see at once that activities of this character, however small they may be at the source, must have the effect ultimately of bringing about the situation that has been referred to in our discussions on a previous measure. It was also referred to by an expert brought over here from New Zealand by the Minister himself and who was paid a small sum for his report. In that report he stated quite clearly that this was not the way in which this particular work should be done.

Would the Deputy suggest that none of this work should be done?

The Deputy is suggesting this and no more than this, because there are very few things—in fact, I suppose there is nothing—in which I am expert; but I know a little about this. I am suggesting nothing more than that we have got to be tremendously careful in our approach to this matter. However much Deputy Cowan and some others may wish to present themselves to the public as Deputies who are progressively-minded, who want to make us believe that they are thinking in terms of things that are big and expansive, that they have large minds, that there is no petty approach to a solution of these problems and so on, that is all right. It is all right to try to make the public believe that that is your understanding and that is the way you would tackle these problems. I know that certain results must accrue from the implementation of this scheme that we must watch and try to envisage in advance, so that while conferring benefit in one case we do not do some injury.

Is that not a matter of collaboration? Where a number of farms have a watercourse in common there should be a co-operative effort to see that the water released above does not cause undue suffering to the people below, the people below acting in co-operation with the people upstream. I have land myself in which there has to be co-operation from time to time.

Am I not a very generous kind of an individual to permit that type of interruption?

I think I am more than generous.

You are even better than I am, Sir. I have not grasped fully the reference which we have heard from Deputy Madden about co-operation. I happened to be in charge of the Office of Public Works during some of the war years when a good deal of public money was spent on the drainage of areas in which farmers had a right of turbary. During my years in that office it was the policy that had the support of every public man and thinking person in the country to create, for all those who had the type of rights to which I have referred, all possible opportunities to get on with the work because of the national necessity to engage in that work. There was no question of shortage of money for such provisions. The only occasion on which the work that I have described was impeded was, perhaps, when a letter was received in the Department concerned pointing out the harm that would be inflicted on some other important business or on some important piece of private property as a result of the work that might take place upstream. I cannot see, as Deputy Madden seems to be able to see, how farmers downstream would be able to grasp the significance of what would happen maybe two or three miles away from them or the damage that might result from the activities that I have been endeavouring to describe. If the amount of work that is undertaken is small, then, of course, the volume of water and its rate of progress in its course to the main artery will not be so great, but if the volume of work undertaken is large, then the evidence as to the damage that may result to other people will become more clear.

I should like the Minister to justify the course that he is pursuing in this regard, and to explain why he has abandoned what is really the equivalent of the first part of this scheme, seeing that he had a trained staff of officials who had been engaged on work not very far different from the work he is undertaking in this part of the scheme. The first part of the scheme which he has outlined to us is really the equivalent of the farm improvements scheme except that there is a contribution of two-thirds being made to the cost of the work. Will he explain why he has not gone on with that part of the scheme in regard to the whole country and why he did not wait until such time as he had his own organisation built up for the application of the second part of the scheme? I would say that, while the latter may be a desirable part of the scheme, it is not as desirable as the other part which entitles an owner himself, who might have help of his own, to engage on the work. When the second part of the scheme is put into operation a good deal of public criticism is bound to be levelled at it.

Some questions were asked as to the difficulty and maybe the unfairness of charging against a particular holding a standard sum. I can see an objection to that at once, as I am sure most Deputies can, because the work that individual landholders may apply to have carried out will vary. Take it that I have to agree to have my holding charged with £12 per statute acre for the reclamation of two, three or four acres of land on which the State may have to expend twice the sum that will be necessary in the case of my neighbour who will have his three or five acres charged with the same amount. That will raise objections that will not be easy to provide against. I, of course, see the difficulty of having other than a standard charge because if you had not a standard charge there would be all kinds of dangers in that, too.

I cannot clearly envisage the problem about which the Deputy is making a complaint.

Is it not so that you will scarcely find two acres that will require for their rehabilitation the same expenditure? If the four or five acres for which I have applied require the maximum, then the charge registered against my holding will be at the rate of £12 an acre. If the same area of my neighbour's land is reclaimed, and if the cost is considerably less, the charge that will be registered against his holding, even though less work has been carried out on it than on mine, will be the same.

Both men get a grant of £12.

I understand.

But surely men are not so jealous that, if one gets £15 for £12 and the neighbour gets £16 for £12, they will grudge it to one another.

There is a good deal more in it than that, and I think that will prove to be so in the course of the operation of the scheme itself. It may be that means may be found to overcome it, but I think that when you come to carry out the work you will find that objections will be raised on that head.

The Minister has explained that some criticism has been levelled against the scheme on the ground that a farmer who proposes to reclaim an acre of land must complete the job before any money is paid to him. That was an objection which, I think, most people saw. The Minister's explanation, of course, was an attempt to meet that objection. In my opinion, the effort made to meet the objection will not prove to be entirely satisfactory, inasmuch as it has been explained to us that a case such as this may happen. I am taking the case of a farmer who proposes to reclaim land himself. Let us suppose that the work can be undertaken in sections and that there are so many perches of field drainage to be improved. If we suppose that the field drainage can be done efficiently without carrying out some other part of the work, can he be paid for the field drainage work that he has done, irrespective of whether he has touched on the other part of the estimate or not? That is all right, but it will not be so easy.

He will get an instalment of his total grant on completion of one workable section.

It will not be so easy to get the workable section in a reclamation scheme on any particular acre. I imagine you will find considerable pressure for the payment of the instalment on the ground that some particular section of the estimate has been completed, and a good deal of time will be expended on the inspection of work of that kind where the Department will be notified that a section of work has been completed that has only been touched upon.

If a man ran out of money you would not leave him with no grant at all; you would give him an instalment enabling him to finish it.

Let us come to the whole purpose that underlies the introduction of this scheme. The whole purpose is to reclaim and rehabilitate semi-derelict land. Enormous sums are spoken of as being available for that work. The one thing that puzzles me and most other people is this, that much as that work is desirable for the purpose of enabling landowners to rehabilitate and reclaim any semi-derelict land they have, when we are dealing with such enormous sums as those mentioned by the Minister, not only here and now, but over the last 12 months, why should we not be free to devote some portion of these moneys to other purposes?

Such as?

The subsidisation of artificial manures, the subsidisation of ground limestone, the encouragement of farmers to use much-needed phosphates and ground limestone upon land that is not derelict.

Does the Deputy realise that this applies to the free distribution of limestone?

It provides for that on land reclaimed under this scheme and for which the owner of the land will pay. This scheme is being introduced for the purpose of enabling landowners to engage in a wholesale policy of land reclamation and drainage, with the avowed intention of increasing the productivity of the land, giving the farmers a higher income, giving the workers higher wages and creating desirable improvements in the standard of living of those who work on the land. That is all very desirable and any person must support a policy that is aimed at achieving that end. But I ask the Minister to consider this, that £40,000,000 is a lot of money. I have my opinion as to when and where and how that £40,000,000 will be spent.

You believe it is too good to be true, Deputy, do you not?

Do not mind what I believe. Suppose you said we have £20,000,000 or £25,000,000 to be devoted to land reclamation and the balance of £10,000,000 or £15,000,000 should be devoted to creating inducements and encouragement to our farmers to apply the artificial manures, phosphates and lime that are so glaringly required on most of our land, we are not likely to get any immediate results. The farmer who reclaims five or six acres will undertake a long-distance investment. Neither he nor the community will be likely to reap a benefit from that investment for a considerable period, but in setting out to encourage a farmer to apply artificial manures, lime and phosphates to his land you are doing something that will give results almost immediately. I am not using that as an argument against land reclamation. My point is: why should not the two objectives be aimed at at the same time?

What do you suggest?

I am suggesting that side by side with a scheme of this kind, especially in an atmosphere of £40,000,000 or £50,000,000 and where £5,000,000 or £10,000,000 does not appear to matter, desirable as a scheme of this nature undoubtedly is, if these sums are available for the implementation of such a scheme, portion of such sums should be devoted to a purpose just as glaringly necessary as field drainage or land reclamation. My suggestion is to encourage farmers to apply limestone and phosphates on land that does not need drainage at all but on which production could be increased in a very short space of time if that policy were resorted to.

Would not the Deputy distribute them free?

The Deputy has his own ideas as to the manner in which these things would be produced and distributed if he had the responsibility in that connection.

What level of subsidisation would the Deputy advocate?

We are talking here in terms of £40,000,000 to be spent over ten years. That money will be borrowed and it will have to be repaid with interest. It will be used in furtherance of a policy of land reclamation and the farmers will have to contribute a somewhat similar or perhaps a larger sum. We are proposing to do that in a year when the Government saw fit to remove whatever subsidy existed on the amount of artificial fertilisers available to the farmers.

The Deputy knows that to be untrue.

What I am stating is a fact.

I take it all this could be done under this measure?

Yes. I am suggesting that in conjunction with the reclamation of land, as proposed under this measure, for the purpose of improving the general standards of our people, the incomes of individuals, the income of the nation, improving the conditions of those who work on the land and increasing the wages of land workers, there should be a provision whereby portion of these moneys could be devoted to obtaining artificial fertilisers and lime for application to land not needing drainage or reclamation so as to increase productivity immediately.

In the view of most people such a policy would result in an almost immediate improvement in productivity, far in excess of anything which could result from the reclamation of land at such a cost as has been mentioned here. In some cases that land, even when reclaimed at the cost mentioned here, will not prove to be more productive without much further expenditure on the part of the farmer along the lines indicated by the Minister, and the farmer and the community cannot hope to reap the benefits that would result from a much smaller investment if directed along the lines I have indicated.

The Deputy will not indicate what level of subsidisation he advocates.

Let it be £2 or £3.

What percentage of the cost?

Does the Minister admit the desirability of the principle? If he does, then we can agree as to the rate of subsidy. What I want is an admission from the Minister that the principle of subsidisation of artificial fertilisers and ground limestone is a sound one in view of what we are doing in regard to land reclamation. If I get that admission from the Minister and from the Government we can then decide at what particular level it should be. I say that that would be good policy. If I had responsibility myself as a member of the Government for the borrowing of a sum of money of that size for the purpose of engaging in a policy which would increase the productivity of our land I would insist upon diverting a considerable portion of that sum for the purpose I have indicated. In taking that course and in insisting upon that policy, I believe I would have the support of the large majority of the land owners.

And the manure ring.

Never mind the manure ring. The Minister is more conversant with the standards and activities of business men than I am. He is very prosperous business man himself and he should not be jealous of others who have achieved success in other lines. I do not know what methods have been employed to bring success either in his case or theirs. I am talking now of the desirability of pursuing a certain course of action and I am sure that the recommendation I have made would meet with the approval of those people who live upon the land and work on it.

He is an hour and ten minutes at it.

There is no time limit to the debate.

Only for you, Sir, I would not have the ghost of a chance.

Let us get the Bill discussed.

I am trying to help the Minister. I think I have done fairly well. Even yet, though I cannot see any reason why the Minister should be so hostile to the suggestion, I would appeal to him and to the Government, not only to continue along the lines that are envisaged in the Bill, but to consider seriously the desirability of applying to some extent subsidies to both artificial fertilisers and ground limestone, both of which are very essential commodities as far as the farmer is concerned. It is difficult to plead unceasingly for assistance and help for those who are engaged on the land, but the Minister himself strove to convey to the House, when introducing this scheme, that this was no relief work. He said that there was no question of giving the farmer relief. This is regarded as a good investment and as one that will pay considerable dividends. In the full knowledge that I am saying something which will meet with the approval of every farming Deputy and every farmer, I say that you will get dividends three times as large as those that will result from anything that could happen in the next ten years as a result of the passage of this measure if portion of this money is applied to the other purposes I have mentioned.

Would not the provision of cheap fertilisers achieve that purpose?

I think the best way in which to describe Deputy Smith's attitude towards this measure is to remember that he had to say something and that something had to be in opposition to the Bill. He certainly did not contribute any useful criticism. I sometimes wonder why the Opposition would not follow the lead we set when we first came in in 1943. I say that without any bitterness. When we came into the Dáil our object was to give assistance where a measure was a good one and to criticise it if it had any flaws either in drafting or in the general working of it.

To describe this measure as a glorified extension of the farm improvement scheme is carrying the joke a bit too far. It is said by the Opposition that there is not much difference between the two schemes. There may not be if you look at it from one particular viewpoint. But there is a tremendous difference when one observes that the Minister has added three noughts to the sum of money required for this scheme. We have provision now for £40,000,000 as against £40,000.

I have no hesitation in saying that this is the most revolutionary measure introduced in this House since the establishment of our own Government. I go further back and I say that it is the greatest revolution in land since the Land League was formed. The Minister adverted to the formation of the Land League in the course of his address. The aim and object of that Land League was to make the farmers the owners of their own land. All efforts down through the years were directed to making the farmers the owners of their lands, to buy out the landlords and to establish a system whereby a farmer would eventually hold his land freehold. During all those years there was a good deal of talk too about land reclamation, the improvement of the land and the production of more crops in greater quantity off the land. But no real practical step was ever taken towards that end until to-day we have this measure introduced. The work of the Land League was important in giving the farmers ownership of their lands. This measure is no less important and it is as revolutionary to-day as was the Land League in its time. I think the Minister and his officials who worked with him to produce this measure in such a very short time deserve a great share of praise.

Since the establishment of our own Government the problem of land reclamation has only been nibbled at; small grants were given to the farmers to help them to reclaim land, but the grants were so small that they held out no inducement. There was a certain amount of land reclamation done —perhaps an acre or two, or even half an acre. That work was excellent in its way but it was on such a small scale that no lasting impression could be made. This measure aims at giving assistance on a huge scale. If a farmer wants to reclaim useless land, and if he has sufficient help in his own house, he can do the work himself if he has enough labour available to him and be paid for his work. If he does not do the work himself, he will be subject to a very small charge spread over a number of years. That has the effect of reducing the yearly liability for reclamation to little or nothing. I do not think the Opposition should follow Deputy Smith's lead in attempting to block this work.

The acreage of unreclaimed land in this country, without taking into account the type of land which the Minister for Agriculture refers to as being suitable for forestry, must be in the neighbourhood of 4,000,000 acres. If we could, under this measure, in ten years reclaim even half of that land which at the present time is useless and which represents a heavy liability on farmers who have to pay annuities to the Land Commission and rates to the local authority, I think it would be an excellent job. It would be equivalent to placing an additional 2,000,000 acres at the disposal of farmers all over the country. If, in the same period, the Land Commission could afford to relieve congests to the extent of 2,000,000 acres, the Minister for Lands, whoever he might be, and the Land Commission would feel very proud of that achievement. One thing I like about this scheme is that it is definitely labelled a reclamation scheme and not a relief scheme, because while it may give more employment than any of us can visualise at the moment, I think that if it were called a relief scheme it would be hampered very much in execution.

Section 5 appears to have caused a lot of trouble to Deputy Smith. It is undoubtedly a section which gives fairly wide powers to the Minister for Agriculture and the Deputy envisages all kinds of disasters happening unless it is amended in some way. The Minister has agreed to consider any amendment that the Opposition may put forward, but speaking as a farmer, and from my knowledge of agricultural conditions, I feel that I should oppose any amendment of the section as it stands. Deputy Smith must remember how, when he was Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance in charge of the Office of Public Works, he was pressed on many occasions, particularly by farmer Deputies, to take powers in the carrying out of relief works such as are proposed here to-day. There is no doubt that while this measure does give the Minister for Agriculture and his servants power to go in and clear up watercourses without asking the leave of certain farmers, such a measure is absolutely necessary because I think there is not a single rural Deputy who is in any way familiar with this problem who cannot recall certain cases in which five or six, or perhaps ten or 20, farmers have been held up when their lands were flooded and when an application was made to the special employments office to have a main drain opened up. The whole scheme was held up because some crank further down the stream, whose own land happened to be high and dry, refused to allow the scheme to go through. I would ask Deputy Smith to visualise his position if he were Minister for Agriculture and had a request coming in from five, ten or 20 farmers whose farms were situate in a particular pocket of a low-lying valley to have their lands drained and reclaimed. What would happen then if this section were not allowed to stand in its present form? If some farmer further downstream sent in a written objection to the work going through simply from a spirit of churlishness the Minister would have to write back to say that he had no power to authorise the scheme going through. I therefore think that this section is absolutely necessary.

I would be the last Deputy in this House to favour any section which might undermine the rights of the farming community, but we must consider the position that would arise where one crank, simply because he wishes to be awkward, holds up a scheme that would be of immense benefit to ten or 20 of his neighbours whose lands are flooded and who can make no use of that land although they are paying rent and rates for it. I hold that Section 5 does not take away any legitimate rights which a farmer may have. It has been suggested that the Minister may proceed along a big expanse of land with or without machinery. Even if the Minister does want to open up a drain bordering a field in which a crop has been sown, that does not mean that the crop is going to be destroyed. There is always a margin left along such drains which has been used to dump the stuff taken up out of the drain and which is useless for any other purpose. Alternatively, the Minister may decide to wait until the crop is saved and in that way no damage will be done to the crop. Apart from that, the Minister is always in control and I have no doubt that if the section is passed as it stands, and if the Minister or his officials hear of any ganger or foreman who is deliberately damaging crops through wantonness or carelessness, such a ganger would be severely reprimanded and perhaps dismissed and some other man put on the job who will have more consideration for the farmers through whose land the drain runs.

The objections to this section in my opinion are purely frivolous. There is no use in passing a measure of this character and at the same time tying it up in red tape. There is no use in giving a man authority to go ahead with a scheme of this kind if at the same time he is so bound up in red tape that he cannot exercise the powers which you give him. Many measures which the last Government passed in their time were found to be absolutely inoperative because of some foolish clauses of that kind. If we had the reputation of being reckless and of having tried to sweep away all the rights of landowners in the past, I would not blame the Opposition for trying to prevent us getting any extreme power into our hands now and for seeing that we did not simply run amok in operating these clauses, but we are not that kind of Government. If a flaw does appear in the Bill when it comes into operation I am sure that if the Minister brings forward amending legislation, or even if the Opposition sponsors such legislation, it will be considered very favourably.

At one time we were blamed by Deputies on the opposite benches for being too conservative. Now we find we are accused of being reckless and we are told that it is absolutely necessary to enmesh us in bundles of red tape. I think it is very foolish to introduce a Bill, the general principle of which is agreed to be sound, and then so clutter up its provisions with red tape, as to prevent it from being effectively operated. The Government just cannot operate it or let it go into action; it is just like a person in a coffin. I do not see what Deputy Allen has to laugh or sneer about. If he proposes to speak we will hear what he has to say. Deputy Allen's constituents will benefit more from the measure than any other people in Ireland. It is not a measure to laugh at. I say, and repeat it for his benefit, that it is the most revolutionary step that has been taken in this country since the foundation of the Land League. Next to giving farmers the right to own their own land, this is most important as it proposes to reclaim from the water almost half as much as the arable land of this country is reputed to be. It is equally as revolutionary as the Land League's coming forward with its famous three F.s—Fixity of Tenure, Free Sale and Fair Rent. The principal one of those was to make each farmer in this country the owner of his own land. It was looked on as being foolish and wild and it was said that is should never have been attempted, but the bulk of the plain people stood behind it. This measure proposes to steal from the water 4,000,000 acres—4,000,000 of the most productive acres of this country will be taken from the water and given to the farmers. Do not forget that every perch of that land, or practically every perch, will carry an annuity and rates.

I must say that in my part of the country we would welcome the removal of many of the fences which exist. There are many old sodden fences which have become flattened out with time and are now neither a fence nor anything else. They are too low to be a fence and they are taking up good useful room. I hope that as many farmers as possible will take advantage of this scheme to level out those fences which are six, seven or eight feet wide in some cases covering perfectly good land. A simple narrow fence of concrete and wire such as the Minister has described is a perfectly good fence. We are moving towards the day when small gardens and fields will be considered wasteful from the point of view of headlands and fences and while they may have been useful in days gone by, the movement at the present time among farmers is—and the Minister for Agriculture is perfectly safe in this— for larger fields where there is more room to work.

Although the charge is put on the farmer's land there is a safeguard in the fact that the farmer must give his consent. In other words, he must ask for the reclamation scheme to be put into operation on his land. If he cannot carry out the work himself or pay cash down the charge must be put on his land. The amount will be extremely small and, as I said, the farmer is safeguarded.

In what way?

The last point which Deputy Smith made was that all of the £40,000,000, the sum which the Minister mentioned in public some time ago, should not be spent on the reclamation scheme but that some of it should be spent as a subsidy on fertilisers. There is no scheme which has been brought into this House on which it was not the popular thing to say: "Do not spend all the money on that but spend some of it on something else" and, in my opinion, that is the cheapest form of politics. When something is offered for nothing there are always people anxious to get it and make the best use of it. It is a petty, cheap thing to say for no other reason than to appeal to the very odd farmer —for it is the very odd farmer, in my opinion, who will not benefit by this scheme—who happens to have land perfectly free from scrub and rock with no water-logged fields or any need of field drainage and who happens to want cheap fertilisers. All farmers are getting two tons of ground limestone per acre spread and six cwts. of potassic manure spread on the land which will be reclaimed. There is a side to this measure which was not adverted to either by the Minister or by Deputy Smith, that is that every farmer—and I am speaking particularly for the medium and small farmer —who has waste land on his holding to be reclaimed will have a very big increase in his income when it is done. I know my neighbours in County Mayo and I know that there are very few farmers there, in Galway, in Leitrim or in Roscommon—and they are in Munster and they are in Leinster—and in every county in Ireland who have not six, eight or ten acres which would benefit under the Bill. They have fields which are next to useless to them at the moment. They can use them, perhaps, during the dry months of the summer, but even then they produce only very coarse grass. In most cases these will be the very best land, alluvial soil, and will form probably the richest part of the holding when they are reclaimed, when there is freedom from water and when the owner can go into them at all times of the year. The profit from that reclaimed land should give the farmer more fertilisers and more ground limestone if the land is deficient in lime. The profit the farmer is going to reap off the reclaimed portion of his land will go a long way in a year or two towards putting him on his feet. The first thing the farmer wants is land on which to work and the second thing is that the Government must see that he gets a fair price for his produce. They are the two big things. The present Minister for Agriculture has already seen to it that the farmer is getting a better price than ever before, and the next thing is to help him to clear up, drain and put into production any waste land on his farm.

I would appeal to the other members of the Opposition not to follow the lead set for them by their first spokesman. He made a very poor attempt, and it was not even good criticism. Deputy Smith had to admit that this was a good Bill, but he had to say something against it and I think that is a very poor, shabby, shoddy attitude. I think he would get far more credit, even from his own supporters, if he stood up and said that this is a good measure and, if there were flaws in the drafting, to point them out, but he did not point them out. He hammered at Section 5; he hammered at Section 3 until he found he was wrong. I am an ordinary farmer and I am as anxious to safeguard the rights of farmers as ever Deputy Smith was, but I would oppose any attempt to tie up Section 5 in any red tape. That would be the one thing to block the whole measure. There is no use in bringing in a good Bill and tying it up so that it cannot operate. That has happened too often in the past. I do not want to see this Government, or any Government after us any more than any Government before us, taking away the rights of farmers, but we must consider the odd crank. Thank God he is extremely scarce, but occasionally one meets one crank who, for the sake of awkwardness or through extreme carelessness towards his neighbours, holds them up and causes intense suffering and hardship to perhaps ten or 20 people. The Minister must make up his mind whether he is going to consider that one man's rights or the hardship quite a number of that man's neighbours might suffer as a result of his awkwardness. The objector would suffer nothing or lose nothing by allowing the drain to be done or, in the case of a byroad, by allowing the byroad to be repaired, but he just does not want to see his neighbours getting on. This occurs very seldom and there is often a whole parish without any crank, but where there is a crank we must have a weapon to deal with him. It is unfair that one man should cause serious loss and hardship to a big number of his neighbours as well as a dropping of production over the country.

This is a good measure and I have not the slightest hesitation in recommending it to the House. There cannot be an improvement of it just as it stands and any attempt to amend it will injure it and prevent it from coming to the rescue of the vast number of farmers whom we intend to rescue. There is no danger of this Bill coming into conflict with the forestry programme, and I warn Deputies, as the Minister for Agriculture warned them, that there is no conflict between the two. It would be extremely foolish to try to reclaim the particular type of land that should be devoted to afforestation. In that case, you have nature always there to bring that land back to the heather and to erosion. It is generally in rough mountain-side, country bog and wild land in the valleys between the mountains, and, in my opinion, reclamation would not be the proper way to approach it. My idea would be to use one of the forces of nature, afforestation, to undo the damage that nature has done by heather and erosion in those areas.

As the Minister for Agriculture said when introducing the Bill, the reclamation scheme is intended to start where the land for forestry leaves off. Where the rough land suitable for forestry ends, this reclamation scheme will take up. The two go hand-in-hand and work perfectly together, and one is intended to benefit the other. The present forestry scheme, the proposals in this Bill and the proposals in the Local Authorities (Works) Bill, at present going through the Oireachtas under the Minister for Local Government, are all three working hand-in-hand to bring the extremely waste land under forestry and the semiarable land, at present water-logged, into full production; while the Works Bill, to complete the job, is a good forerunner to the Arterial Drainage Act.

This measure is designed to spend a very considerable sum of money, some £40,000,000, and where it is to come from I do not know. There appears to be a good deal of nervousness about this scheme and Deputy Blowick seemed to resent any criticism of it.

I did not, I welcomed it.

The first business of the Opposition is to know how to criticise and, secondly, it is our duty to do so.

A Deputy

Constructively.

Constructively or otherwise. I am not saying that this is not a reasonably good measure. I believe it is but I think it is an extremely difficult one to work and that it is highly speculative. On the debate dealing with the Estimate for Agriculture, I said that such schemes as this were tried many years ago and for some reason or other they all failed. Some people may say that the failure was due to the economic position of the time, while others may say the schemes were badly constructed, meaning by that that there was no exit for the water.

In County Meath I can visualise some of the schemes the Minister may have to tackle. I suppose the best known river we have in County Meath is the Tolka. It finishes up here in the City of Dublin. It runs through the County Dublin and into the County Meath and drains Tara, Culmullin and that whole district. I suppose it would be 40 or 50 miles long. I do not know how many hundred farmers would have to be dealt with on the way. There are other such rivers there and the same applies to every county. It would be difficult to carry out such a scheme as that with compulsory powers for every farmer, some farmers having 20, 30 or 40 per cent. of their land to be drained and others having none at all. Along the courses of most of these rivers, there are farms that need no draining, while others need quite an amount. I would like to know from the Minister if each statute acre that is drained is liable for this £12, which will be the contribution by the farmer for drainage. If a farmer has 25 acres and there are 12 acres to be drained, the contribution will be fairly heavy.

No doubt we made the way easy for this scheme, first by other such schemes that we had introduced and, secondly, by the halving of the land annuities. For the last year or two, however, the rates have gone up so high that the halving of the land annuities does not mean so much. No matter what we may manage to do, with the high rates and the very considerable increase in annuities in certain cases, we are well back to where we were in the early stages. At the same time, I think this is a good effort; but to say that we should not consider and think out other schemes, that might be more suitable at the moment, is entirely wrong.

There is a good deal in what Deputy Smith says and when the Minister for Agriculture started first here he was very favourable to the scheme that Deputy Smith spoke of. The only difficulty he had in that was the question of getting the money. He confessed quite clearly that it was a question of getting money. The war is over and the fever of high prices is dying down and we are beginning to come back to normal life. Before very long, prices will be at a normal level. We have heard of schemes having become useless because they were not maintained and kept in order, due to economic conditions during the war. If that happens again—as it may happen—this £40,000,000 will be a burden the farmers will find it very hard to bear. They use artificial manure at the moment, as the prices might not evaporate rapidly and they might get some benefit from them. It is quite right that the prices we enjoy at the moment are not going to stick there. Everyone knows that. By the time this scheme is in order, we may have to meet a considerable amount of depression. There is no use in my saying that it will not come: it will come and is coming. Even if it does not come, the keen competition that arises in the British market, and that is rising every day there, will bring prices down to a very low level. Some Deputies may smile, but they do not know what they are smiling about. If they look back to other periods, they will see a period after the first world war when for three or four years everything was booming.

Suddenly, overnight, down came the cloud and everything was darkness, misery, poverty, bankruptcy and so on. Deputy Smith is perfectly right in suggesting other schemes and there is no reason why these other schemes should not be considered. If we are to carry out this scheme merely to get this American loan—and, for all I know, we may be compelled to carry it out—we might be as well off without that loan and working the scheme in other ways. We have been progressing very reasonably with these drainage schemes—small reclamation and rural improvement schemes—and it was from these the Minister got the idea for this scheme. This is a copy of them —it was there he got the inspiration. The Government are rapidly adopting the principles and systems which we had—the only point is that they may be going a little too quickly.

I did not understand exactly from the Minister where this drainage is to start from. I take it that Mr. Holmes and all other authorities on drainage believe in starting at the beginning, and, in the case of the Tolka, I take it that it will have to start in the City of Dublin. That would be only reasonable. It will go from there into the Dublin County Council area and then into the County Meath area. I wonder what difficulties will arise?

Does the Deputy not know the counties it is to start in?

It runs into the sea from the City of Dublin.

This Bill is not a Bill to drain the Tolka.

I take it they will have to start draining the river in the City of Dublin. What difficulties there are with regard to the contribution of business people who are not paying land annuities I do not know, but it is a river that is doing very considerable damage and has been doing it for years. Because I mention that, I am not to be taken as being crotchety or trying to find snags. I am merely pointing out one of the difficulties which struck me straight away.

That is arterial drainage.

Then the Tolka will not be done under this? If it is not, what are we to do? Deputy Giles knows that district well and he will tell us what drainage we can do there. It is hard to see what drainage could be done in all that large area under this scheme. We might make an odd inland lake, but then what would the tenant farmer have to say about it? To be candid, I do not think this is just as simple as the Minister thought. I think there are very considerable snags and that is why I say to the Minister for Lands and Government Deputies that they should not resent criticism. We will all have to carry this baby. Both sides will have responsibility and each side should give the matter full consideration, because it is not just as easy or simple as the Minister tried to persuade us it is.

I welcome this Bill and the ambitious scheme it envisages, but there are a few matters on which I wish to question the Minister. It is easy to understand this scheme in so far as it applies to work to be done by the farmer himself. It is laid down that he will get a contribution of two-thirds of the estimated cost. I must confess, however, that I find myself in difficulties, which I hope the Minister will clear up, as to the position with regard to the man who, possibly through circumstances over which he has no control, may be forced to accept the scheme on the basis of a charge by way of annuity on his land. What contribution does he get by way of a free grant from the State in these circumstances, and to what extent is the amount chargeable as annuity the cost of the actual work? I see a difficulty there which possibly the Minister may clear up for me.

The position may quite reasonably obtain of two holdings adjoining each other, both of which are being operated on by the Department at the request of the farmer and both being chargeable by way of annuity. In one case the work may cost as much as £20 per acre and, in the other, only £14 or £15 per acre. In that case, it seems to me, in so far as the Minister has explained the scheme, the charge by way of annuity on both farms would be £12 per acre and that strikes me, in its first analysis, as rather unreasonable. I should like the Minister to explain to the House in more detail what exactly is the nature or extent of the contribution to be made by way of annuity. Is it a flat rate which all farmers will have to pay, irrespective of what the cost per acre of the reclamation may be? I understand that two-thirds contribution is payable to the man who does the work himself, but that provision does not hold in the case of the man who does not do the work himself.

I urge on the Minister that, whatever about the Bill itself, in the operation of the scheme, he will have to take into account the fact that there may be certain types of work and certain economic circumstances over which particular individuals have no control which may compel them to call in the Department to do the work for them. I do not think that they should suffer any penalty because of that, and in the scheme as outlined by the Minister there seems to be an implied penalty that he will not get by way of State contribution the same consideration as the man who does the work himself. I know perfectly well that it will be argued that this may be an added inducement to get the maximum number of farmers to do the work themselves, but I urge upon the Minister the consideration of people who, for circumstances over which they have no control, may be either not naturally adept enough to do the particular work or so economically situated that, with all the willingness in the world on their part, they will not be able to undertake it.

The Minister will have to consider, possibly not in the manner that Deputy Smith proposed, a principle that I believe in. It may possibly be a fallacy but I have not heard anybody yet who was able to convince me that it is a fallacy. If one of the primary objects of this Bill is reclamation and increase of production, he will have to consider the old maxim that you increase productivity more rapidly by treating good land than you do by endeavouring to bring back into heart waste land that has been waterlogged. There is a good deal of consideration necessary. The suggestions made in a rather crude way by Deputy Smith do merit a certain amount of consideration, that you have the position obtaining under this Bill that it is quite possible that a man by his own industry and earnestness over the last period of years has excluded himself from benefits that might have accrued to him normally under the scheme. By his own efforts he may have brought his land out of the particular type of scrub growth or may have cleared watercourses in such a way as to make land dry that would normally be wet. That man, by his own earnestness, may have excluded himself completely from the benefits of this scheme.

I do think that in a national scheme of this magnitude that drives towards the general betterment of the agricultural community from top to bottom, the Minister will have to consider the case of farmers whose land, even though not wet or in need of clearing of scrub or anything like that, may be in need of very large artificial rehabilitation by way of limestone or phosphates or superphosphates, or anything else that may be necessary for the soil content. He will have to consider the possibility of having a third leg to his general scheme that will enable a grant to be made to them. I do not suggest that the grant should be by way of subsidy. I am a person who shies away from subsidy of artificial manures because I always feel that there may be a certain type of people other than the agricultural community who may gain under such a scheme. His grant should be by way of actual grant of the manures in kind rather than by way of subsidy, and if any subsidy was to be paid for manure it should be paid by way of rebate for actual manure delivered than any other way. I urge the Minister to consider the possibility of devoting certain of this money to help land that is describable as reasonably good to become better because, if the production uptrend is to take place, the most rapid way it can take place is by the consolidation and betterment of what one normally describes as good land.

Let me say in all earnestness that I think all sides of the House welcome the principle and the ambition that are enshrined in this Bill. It shows a good deal of progressive thinking. It aims at something that fundamentally and outside politics we all aim at—making the land of this country better for the people. The Minister has had courage, and possibly he is right, in allowing his sentimental extravagance to bring him back to Mayo on the commemorative date of the founding of the Land League to initiate this scheme there. The gradual development of the Land League led to the ultimate success of the Irish people over the landlord ascendancy and if that spirit were to be inculcated in the effort to be made under the 1949 Land Reclamation Bill, many of our pessimistic outlooks and many of the airy and rather embryonic dangers envisaged by us could be overcome by that spirit that at one time overcame something that nobody conceived could be overcome so quickly. We in our day and in our generation, by taking this Bill in a spirit of earnest endeavour to move forward for the rapid aggrandisement and betterment of our own people on their own land, could make a contribution in a large way comparable with the contribution made by Michael Davitt and his followers. If we do it in that spirit, and not in a spirit of acrimonious politics, ultimate success will be assured and we may claim in our day to have made a real and lasting contribution to the settlement of the land problem.

I, like Deputy Collins, would like to welcome the introduction of this Bill. Possibly the constituency which I represent will benefit very considerably by what is envisaged in the Minister's scheme and in this Bill. It comes very well from a Minister who, I think everyone will agree, no matter what attitude he takes towards problems, certainly always presents things in a big way. This is a big scheme. If we take the trouble to review what writers of history have to tell us of the condition of these lands about 200 years ago and what their research has set out for the information of later generations, we envisage a country which presented an entirely different appearance from the appearance this country presents at the present moment. During the course of those eight or nine generations, owing to the hard work, industry and skill of the tenant farmers, vast areas of unproductive land were won into production for the first time.

You can take, I think, an example from the geographical layout of the City of Dublin at the present moment. When we realise that at one time the waters of the sea lapped Merrion Square, that Beggar's Bush was at one time an island, and that Trinity College was more or less situated on an island, we can then understand what human energy, properly directed and properly subsidised, can accomplish. Taking a long-term view of this scheme, I believe it is one of the greatest factors for the prosperity of this country that any Government or any Minister has yet envisaged. We, I think, would do well in the infancy of our State to study the doings of those countries in the economic sphere who, for century after century, have had their own individuals in control of their own destinies. We can look, I think, with admiration on the doings of the inhabitants of the Low Countries who not only brought infertile lands into fertility but even won land back from the bosom of the sea. Acres upon acres in the Low Countries were won back by human endeavour under the wise leadership and guidance of home Governments. One of the recognised decisive sea battles of the world which was fought several centuries ago—the battle of the sluys— was fought at a place which is now 12 miles inland on the boundary between Belgium and Holland. What those people could do, with the disadvantages under which they were suffering, we, I think, would be able to do in this country. I welcome this scheme because it recognises that in our Irish land we have the real prosperity at the hands of our people. I welcome this scheme because it is a form of giving to the community who own the land the resources of credit which should be at their hand. Roughly speaking, I see the scheme as this. If I, as an industrious farmer, have a corner of my farm which requires reclamation, fencing or draining, or something of that kind, and am prepared to put down £1, the paternal Government is prepared to put down £2 to match it. That seems to me to be the scheme in a nutshell.

We have in the layout of our farms in this country what we refer to as "headlands" around the fields. I think that is a general expression throughout Ireland. I wonder, if a census were taken of the total amount of land in this country which is included in what we describe as "headland", how much that acreage would be. When I see the mechanics of this scheme—where hedging and ditching is considered—I believe we will not only win back whole infertile fields but also a large proportion of the headlands which are now a breeding ground for every kind of weed and pest that agriculture has from year to year to fight against.

Reference was made here by the Minister that he thought that possibly there would be a contest between himself as Minister for Agriculture representing the farm lands on the one hand and the Minister for Lands representing the forestry lands on the other hand. It has always been recognised that the highest form of agriculture has these two types of land side by side. According to climate or local conditions, it is necessary to have well-planted timber lands beside ordinary arable farming lands. Again, anyone who has had the experience of going through the great Northern Plain of Europe and of looking out through the windows of a train will have seen first of all a neatly drilled—almost, you would think, dusted with dusters— wood and then immediately after that a patch of arable land, and so forth. I hope that when these two schemes— the scheme of the Minister for Agriculture and the scheme of the Minister for Lands—are brought to their final conclusion we shall see in or around our countryside these neatly growing groves of timber and these well-regulated farmlands. This is a scheme which recognises the absolute necessity for increasing the productivity in general of this country. It is a scheme that should commend itself to every Irishman who believes in the economic future of this country.

Deputy O'Reilly, I do not know whether it was intended to be by way of criticism or for some other purpose, mentioned the American European Recovery Plan and the loan which it was intended we should get under that plan. I cannot see that it matters very much where this money is going to come from. I believe that if this money is produced it is going into good hands. It is going into the hands of those who can boast—when we get into conversation with them—"My family has been on this little farm for seven or eight or nine generations" or on "this big farm" as the case may be. Its primary object is to spend money on increasing the productivity of this State. In the course of doing so, it does no person harm and it does an immense amount of good. It raises productivity, it increases fertility and it creates employment. It gives us a proper appreciation of the resources of our State and of the neglect of those resources. I believe it will bring us together, working in a happy combination of co-operation. It will bring us together in the full realisation that what really matters in this country, the extra bit of wealth, we can with our own energy, our intelligence and resources win from our native soil.

The Minister for Agriculture and his spokesman, the Minister for Lands, told us at great length about this revolutionary measure and about all they hope it will achieve for the country. We can join with them in the hope that it will achieve all that they visualise it may achieve. I think everyone, without exception, in the whole of rural Ireland will have the same hopes for it. This Bill is by no means a revolutionary Bill. There is nothing revolutionary in it so far as I can see. It proposes to give authority to the Minister for Agriculture to do certain things—(1) to carry out certain work on agricultural holdings, (2) to charge that farmer's land with certain burdens for the future and (3) under Section 5, which has been subject to adverse criticism from this side of the House, to go in on any farmer's land he wishes, without the farmer's authority and without serving any notice on that farmer.

That is not correct.

The Deputy, when he is speaking, can tell us otherwise. Section 5, as I read it, is as follows:—

"The Minister may, where it appears to him to be necessary for the adequate reclamation of any land under any works being carried out by him, clear or repair a watercourse, and, for this purpose, shall, by his servants and agents, have access to the watercourse and may proceed along its banks with or without machinery in so far as appears to him to be necessary so as to render it capable of carrying waters that should normally pass through it, and may dispose of the spoil in such manner as he thinks fit."

That section to my mind is a revolutionary one in view of the pronouncements made by the Minister for Agriculture in this House and in the country that never in future will any servant or agent of the Minister attempt to cross a farmer's fence without the invitation of the farmer. I hope he will amend this section to require at least that notice will be served on the farmer that it is necessary to trespass on his land and make some provision, if crops are damaged or fences knocked down, for compensating the farmer. No one on this side of the House has any objection to the Minister's being given power to enter on any land to clean up watercourses or rivers, but the owner of the land is at least entitled to the courtesy of a notice being served upon him or his being told that his land is about to be trespassed on, even if it is for essential and necessary work.

With regard to Section 3—payment of occupier's contribution by means of annuity—the principle of charging lands for work done is a new principle and, if you like, a revolutionary principle.

I thought there was nothing revolutionary in the Bill.

It is a revolutionary principle from the point of view of putting an extra burden on a holding for all time.

Not for all time.

There is nothing in the Bill to say that even the Land Commission are to be satisfied that the land on which it is proposed to put this extra burden is capable of bearing the extra burden.

Did you read Section 2 (1)?

There is nothing in that to say that the Land Commission must be satisfied.

Under that sub-section nothing can be done except at the request of the occupier of the land.

The occupier of the land is oftentimes not the best judge of the burden his land is capable of bearing.

Will the Minister not be a good judge of what the man will be able to pay?

The Minister for Agriculture is not the person to judge that. The Land Commission who are responsible for the charges on the land in the way of land annuities are the responsible people in that respect. I think it is a great weakness in the Bill that the Land Commission are not to be consulted as to the charges which may be put on the land in future. It is all very well for Deputies to say that it is with the consent and on the application of the particular farmer. That is so, but that does not mean that it is always desirable to put heavy extra charges on an agricultural holding. It must be remembered that these charges which it is proposed to put upon it will have priority over all other charges.

What does that mean?

The Deputy is making his speech and not answering legal queries.

I am sure the Deputy will be able to tell us about what everything means. He is an encyclopedia full of knowledge on all matters.

I am trying to increase my store of knowledge.

Your store is overflowing. The principle of adding to the existing annuity on land is one which should be seriously considered. There may be a holding the greater portion of which may need reclamation. The charge of £12 per acre for reclamation may be greater than the actual market value of the holding. Instead of being an advantage to the farmer, it may prove to be a blister upon him. I, therefore, think the section needs amendment so that a certificate from the Land Commission will have to be produced before the Minister can proceed to spend money on a particular holding. There may be many charges against a holding which the farmer has not been able to discharge, charges by the Agricultural Credit Corporation or other charges. That is an aspect which should be taken into consideration in respect of a particular holding. I consider that it is a serious matter.

There are many holdings also which may require a new dwelling-house or to have the dwelling-house and out-offices reconditioned. The farmer may have to go to some bank or credit corporation to obtain money for that purpose or he may have to charge his holding with other burdens. Because the land annuities were halved some years ago, it is a temptation to the Minister for Agriculture to increase an annuity to what it was originally. Spending £20, £30 or £60 upon a particular holding may not be economic. Every rural Deputy is aware that there are many holdings which need rehabilitation and drainage but which, after a big amount of money has been spent upon them, will go back in a year or two to their former state. A big lot of this £40,000,000 which there is so much talk about may be spent unwisely. If you spend £40,000,000 on the boglands and the mountains, I am afraid it will pay a very poor dividend.

What would you suggest?

I will not suggest anything. I wonder if the Minister has given this matter full consideration? I admit that there are areas and holdings that would benefit to a great extent from drainage but not all the land that needs drainage would prove to be economical. You could spend far more money on draining an acre of land than the acre would be worth for the following 30 years. I hope that full and deliberate consideration from all aspects has been given to this by the Government before it was fully embarked on. If £40,000,000 is available it must be the primary intention in spending that money to improve the agricultural income of the whole community. I am very much afraid that if all that money is spent in the direction indicated the resulting increase in income will be very small. We all want to see an increased income coming from the land but it is very doubtful that this scheme will do that. I cannot see how it could if it is only going to be started in eight counties this year.

Many people wonder why the Minister for Agriculture could not have started without any legislation in the whole Twenty-Six Counties. There was nothing to prevent him. He told us today that he had started in eight counties on the scheme that the farmers will carry out themselves. He has the machinery of the farm improvements scheme which is about ten years in operation now. He has many officers in his service who are capable of carrying that scheme into operation in the whole of the Twenty-Six Counties at the same time, with voluntary grants on the same basis as the farm improvements scheme was carried out over the last ten years. If he wanted to double the grants or increase them in any way and if he wanted to extend the scheme to provide for manuring or anything else, he needs no legislation whatever. He has power under the existing law to do all that. If, by degrees, it was found that there were many holdings where farmers could not carry out the work themselves this Bill could have been brought gradually into operation as the demand came from the people.

The farm improvements scheme was popular. An effort was made by the Minister for Agriculture, owing to the lateness of inviting applications, to have no work done at all last year. Sometime about Christmas I remember I asked the Minister a Parliamentary Question. I was told that in County Wexford out of about 400 or 500 applications only about 40 had been dealt with by that time. It was quite obvious to everyone that the Minister's intention was to kill that scheme.

What has that to do with this Bill?

It was his intention to kill that scheme. It must be remembered that he is not replacing it in the present year by any other scheme in other than eight counties. I want to appeal to the Minister to reconsider that matter. He should extend the scheme whereby the farmers are going to carry out the work themselves automatically through the whole Twenty-Six Counties. He can increase the grants and widen the scope of the scheme in any direction he likes. He has the skilled personnel for the carrying out of that scheme and there should be no cause for delay.

The Minister has been talking for the last three months about the £40,000,000 that he is going to spend on the bog lands, the lands that need drainage and on land rehabilitation. I think that is an unfair scheme in this way. All the farmers of the country— and they are the big majority—whose lands need no drainage whatever will have to contribute to the repayment of that loan. They are getting nothing towards increasing their income in any way. I want to suggest to the Minister, side by side with what Deputy Smith suggested, that there is no reason why half that money should not be spent each year in making artificial manures and ground limestone half the price they are at the present. Every farmer would benefit in that way.

The income of agriculture and the output from each farm in the country is bound to increase immediately. There is no guarantee under the scheme proposed by the Minister that there will be any immediate increase whatever. I certainly do not believe there will, but I am hoping for the best. I cannot see, and no practical person from a rural area with a practical knowledge of agriculture can see, that there is going to be an immediate benefit. It may benefit individuals to a small extent. A great number of farmers are in occupation of lands that need no drainage but they need artificial manure and limestone and they have not the capital for that. The cost of that would be, as the Minister has estimated, a minimum of £5 per acre. Every farmer in the country will have to contribute to the repayment of this £40,000,000 when the Minister has spent it. Each farmer is entitled to a share of that £40,000,000 as I have suggested.

The manure ring is, too, I suppose.

You can get the manure where you like. You can set up the Minister as a manufacturer of manure in this country if you like. You can compensate those manure owners——

That is what is going to happen.

——and make them a State-owned concern in the morning. The Government can deal with them as they think fit. The manure ring will then be cut out from any question of profits. I think it is unjust of the Minister for Agriculture or any other Minister to hold up to public odium in this country any group of people engaged in industry or otherwise when the Minister for Industry and Commerce has absolute power by law to limit the profits in any industry in this country. He can impose profit restrictions on any group in existence in the country. I think it is time, in the interests of ordinary decency, that any group engaged in industry or any group of farmers or business people and so forth was let alone and not held up to public odium. The Minister has made a fad of it all, over the years. He had the bacon curers and the millers and now he has the manure ring as he calls them. God knows whom he will have to-morrow morning. These are all decent citizens of the country who have set up in industries and put their energy, brains and everything else into it.

A lot of them dumped their brains into it.

That type of loose talk in this country has done more damage in the last 12 months than anything the Coalition did.

That is a tribute to the Coalition Government.

Let State enterprise manufacture artificial manures and quarry limestone and leave out the manure ring. We will not object to that. I want again to stress the importance of this, that the Minister should see that, from this fund of £40,000,000, at least 50 per cent. of it would be used each year to subsidise both ground limestone and artificial manures.

No matter the price at which these manures are available, or how much we bring down their price?

The Minister must know that the price of artificial manures went up last year and that it has gone up again in the last month.

Who put it up?

I am not concerned about that but I am concerned with the price the farmer has to pay for them. The price of artificial manures was increased on two occasions within the last year.

I do not know whether the Deputy is for or against the Bill.

I am sure you are not very much concerned, one way or the other. Artificial manures are so dear at the moment that they are beyond the reach of many farmers, and so they are not using them in the quantities that their land requires.

And you want to pay the fellow who put up the price?

I want to have them made available at a cheaper price per ton than they are at the present time.

By paying the man who put the price up?

By subsidising them and by making them cheaper by any subvention that you like. I do not mind so long as they are made cheaper for the farmer who has to buy them. I do not mind what machinery the Minister uses so long as he does that. The same applies to ground limestone. The Minister knows the price at which ground limestone is available when spread on a farmer's farm at the moment. He knows that it needs from two to three tons of ground limestone per statute acre, and that 95 per cent. of the land that needs ground limestone needs superphosphates as well. The price is £5, £6 or £7 per statute acre. It is not possible for farmers, out of their resources at the present time, to provide sufficient quantities of ground limestone and artificial manures, at their present prices, for use on their land. I hope the Minister will give serious consideration to that aspect of the matter.

It is estimated that 4,000,000 acres of land are in need of drainage and rehabilitation. Are we to take that to mean 4,000,000 acres out of the 12,000,000 arable acres, or 4,000,000 acres out of the 17,000,000 acres in the whole country? If we are to take it that it means four out of 12, that will leave us with 8,000,000 acres that need no drainage or rehabilitation. Unless the Minister is prepared to subsidise and cheapen the price of artificial manures, that means that the occupiers of these 8,000,000 acres are going to get no benefit from the expenditure of this £40,000,000, while as taxpayers they are going to be called upon to contribute towards the repayment of that loan.

What about the city dwellers who have to pay?

If you want to give the city dwellers limestone and artificial manure——

You object to their making their contribution to the scheme?

The debate should proceed without these interruptions.

The occupiers of the 8,000,000 acres, whose land needs no rehabilitation, are entitled to some portion of this money. If they can get artificial manures at a cheaper price, their land will give a greater response and there will be an immediate increase in the total output for the agricultural pool. It is very doubtful if there will be any increase in the agricultural pool from the type of land that the Minister proposes to drain, bogland or mountain land. There is nothing wrong in draining that land, but I do not think it is desirable to spend the whole of the £40,000,000 a year on it. Portion of that money should be spent on the better-class land that needs no other capital outlay except manures.

With regard to sub-section (4) (a) of Section 2 I suggest to the Minister that the section should be worded in the opposite way from the way in which it is worded. I do not think there is any need for the use of the word "default".

What does the Deputy mean by saying that it should be put in the opposite way?

The Minister will see if he reads it.

What does the sub-section say?

It says that "Unless the occupier, in accepting the Minister's proposal, informs the Minister that he wishes to pay his contribution by means of an annuity" and so on. It could easily happen that a farmer did not inform the Minister at the time he made the application that he wished to pay it by means of an annuity.

That is on the form.

If so, it is all right.

It would be a queer form if that was not on it.

I do not think there should be any question of a default in payment at that stage. While the Minister was out, I stressed the point that provision should be made in the Bill to enable the Land Commissioners to decide whether the amount that the Minister proposed to charge in respect of a particular holding was economic or not.

This is repetition. The Deputy dealt with this for quite a long time earlier.

The Deputy is not the Ceann Comhairle yet.

I am submitting that point to the Chair.

You have interrupted me about 40 times since I started to speak.

The Deputy should not be using the second person so often and should address the Chair.

On a point of order, is it not contrary to the rules of order to repeat what one has said three or four times in the same hour? I submit that Deputy Allen is now repeating what he said half an hour ago, and that it is being done for the purpose of obstructing the business of the House.

I object to that. Every Deputy has a right to speak here, and the Chair is the judge of whether I am obstructing or not, and not the Minister. If the Minister wants to start the same tactics as he adopted last week——

Repetition is not in order.

If the Minister wants to start the tactics that he indulged in last week, when he interrupted almost 200 times inside an hour, he can do so.

Now, the Deputy's remarks must apply to the Bill and to nothing more.

As I was saying, while the Minister was out——

The Deputy must not repeat what he said when the Minister was out. It is not necessary for the Minister to be here to listen to what the Deputy has to say.

I hope he will listen to what I have to say. As regards Section 2, I suggest that when the Minister is informing an occupier of land what his contribution is, he should also inform him, if he proposes to accept the loan from the Land Commission, what the annual charge will be. I think that section should be amended. The occupier is entitled to know what the extra charge in his annuity will be. It is important for the farmers, in addition to knowing the bulk charge, to know what will be the charge if this is added to the annuity.

The Bill provides two outstanding things: it enables the Minister to place extra burdens on a farmer's land and it enables him to go in on a farmer's land. There is no reasonable objection to either of those things. An amount of useful work can be done. An amount of useful work could be done in the Twenty-Six Counties without this Bill. It could be done under the farm improvements scheme if the Minister will allow the machinery connected with that scheme to operate in the coming year as it operated in the past year.

I want to support this Bill because I think it is a good Bill, a courageous Bill and a farsighted Bill. It is something that will probably be referred to in the country as another subsidy for the farmers, but I must take this opportunity of saying that it is nothing of the kind. It is an effort to increase the national wealth through the principal source of national wealth that we have, and that is the land. In every effort to do that the farmers are paying their share. They will reap a certain amount of benefit, but the nation as a whole will reap the major benefit. I hope we will not have this scheme referred to throughout the country as another subsidy for the farmers. I deny emphatically that it is anything of the kind.

There are a number of matters in the Bill on which I am not quite clear and I would like the Minister to give us some information with regard to them. So far as I can see from the descriptions given in Section 1, emphasis is laid on drainage and the improvement of hill and mountain grazing. There is mention of land reclamation and the Minister has told us that that is capable of very wide interpretation. I hope it is, and I hope the Minister will give it the interpretation that I and a number of other Deputies who know rural Ireland would like to give it.

We know that all over the country for a number of years, due to certain things that happened—the agricultural depression that started at the end of 1920 and carried on to the 30's, and also the economic war — farmers generally were impoverished. They were unable to keep their land in a proper state of fertility. There were numbers of farmers who had no money for fertilisers and they were not able to do their farming operations properly. We know they were selling milk for 3d. a gallon and killing calves for their skins. They were absolutely unable to carry on farming in the way they would like to. They had to do a certain amount of soil mining in order to eke out any sort of existence. Then, when they were just about recovering, the world war came and there was a shortage of fertilisers.

But, even though these farmers had no money, they had ability and energy and plenty of muscle and a willingness to work and during that period they cleared the drains on their farms and the furze out of the hillside fields. They had not anything to put fertility back into the land. It might appear from the emphasis on drainage in this Bill that these people are to be sacrificed in favour of people who sat down and did nothing, who did not exert themselves or utilise their energies during all that time.

The Minister has suggested that one-third of the cost will be paid by the owner of the land and two-thirds will be paid by the Department. He also said that the payment on the part of the landowner would be £12 per acre. If my mathematics are correct, the cost of reclaiming an acre will be £36. If the farmer pays £12 per acre and the State pays two-thirds, then one-third of the cost represents £12 and the cost of draining the acre would be £36.

The two-thirds calculation applies to the other leg of the scheme where the farmer does it himself.

Where he does it, he gets £12?

No, he gets a grant not exceeding £20 per acre.

And that represents two-thirds of the cost of the work?

A grant not exceeding £20 per acre.

In that case the cost of draining an acre would be £30. I think a good deal of the land, and probably the land that will prove most expensive to drain, will not be worth £30 an acre. The Minister for Lands, in answer to a question here, said he was paying at the rate of £3 8s. per acre for land for forestry. I do not think the Land Commission paid anything like £30 or £36 for the land they bought in the past ten years. The point I am trying to make is that there are people who cleaned the drains and kept the furze out of their land because they were energetic and not afraid to work and these people will be ruled out of this scheme while those who did nothing will avail of it—people who, after having their fields drained for them and the furze rooted out of their land, will allow the drains again to become clogged and the furze to grow once more. I want the Minister to take my interpretation of land reclamation and not his interpretation in applying it merely to drainage and the reclamation and improvement of mountainy or hilly land. When the Minister was speaking to this Bill he referred to the Land Commission and he said that the Land Commission would be asked to add the charge on to the annuity and carry out the work. I was rather confused there because shortly afterwards——

The Deputy misheard. I said the Land Commission would collect the annuity, not that it would carry out the work.

I am clear on that point now. I would like to know what the rate of interest charged by the Land Commission will be.

3½ per cent.

I thought it was 4 per cent.

That includes the redemption.

What is the period of redemption?

Sixty years.

The Minister said a good deal about conditions of work and agricultural employment. He said that he would turn the farms into factories. He was not too happy about the man who uses a pick and shovel, but the Minister should realise that in this country where the majority of the farms are small the shovel and the pick and the grafán are essential implements and the man who wields the shovel and the pick and the grafán is entitled to as much respect as the man who drives the bulldozer. I think that on the smaller farms, and even on the bigger farms where one wants to fix the drills at the end of the headlands in order to fight the nettles to which the Minister referred, we must also have the shovel and the pick.

I think the Minister did intend to say something about the organisation of the scheme. He did touch upon it but he did not develop it at any great length. I think that in a big scheme where one intends to expend the colossal sum of £40,000,000 one must set up some definite organisation to deal with such a scheme. The Minister gave us no indication and no inkling good, bad or indifferent as to what type of organisation it would be. He did not tell us whether there would be any liaison between the Board of Works and the Land Commission. He did not tell us whether any steps would be taken to prevent overlapping. I am interested to discover what type of organisation this will be. I would suggest that some kind of board, such as the Electricity Supply Board, should be responsible for this scheme.

The Minister referred also to grass seeds and the different strains of grass seeds which are being evolved in the seed-producing stations. That is a very desirable activity and I think it is something which should be incorporated as part of this scheme. Seeds should be made available at a reasonable price for the reseeding of land that is reclaimed. I think the Minister knows that I have as little love for the sulphuric acid cartel or any other combine as he has himself. I think it should be possible, however, either through some new organisation or through the organisation which is at the moment importing phosphates very successfully, despite a good deal of opposition——

I shall tell the Deputy an interesting story about that.

It should be possible to import sufficient quantities of these phosphates, outside the control of the cartels or the rings. The Minister should then arrange with Córas Iompair Éireann to carry these at a flat rate of 5/- per ton for delivery to any part of the country from the port of entry. I suggest the soil survey should be developed still further and where a survey or a soil analysis shows there is a definite deficiency of some important mineral element that land should also be brought within the scope of this scheme. I do not suggest that the farmers who own these lands should get their lime or phosphate free, but they should get them supplied as cheaply as possible and be given every encouragement plus any technical advice they may require to discover what is absent from the land. I know the Minister has done a great deal in providing these soil facilities over the past year, but they are still quite inadequate.

Five days is all one need wait for analysis.

When this scheme develops the present facilities will be incapable of meeting the requirements. I suggest that the Minister should include holdings which show a soil deficiency in this scheme. Many holdings are starved of fertility because of factors outside the control of the farmers. They are starved because of the depression due to the economic war and other factors. If these holdings are included the present facilities will be inadequate. These are matters to which I would like the Minister to direct his attention. I would appeal to him again to interpret land reclamation in the broadest possible way and not narrow it down to drainage or the reclamation of mountainy or hilly grazing.

At a time when there is such an urgent need for an increased food supply, not only for our own people but for the people of Europe, this House should welcome any scheme which is designed to increase the area of food-producing land in the country. The scheme is a broad one. It is a far-reaching one. Let us not swallow the idea which the urban Press has sought to impose upon us that this is a relief scheme and that the farmers are getting something for nothing. Let us not believe that this scheme is something similar to a State scheme to improve a shopkeeper's shop or his fittings. It is nothing of the kind. It is not designed to increase the wealth of the average farmer. It is designed to increase the wealth of the nation as a whole for the ultimate benefit of the nation as a whole. As far as the average farmer who benefits by this scheme is concerned the contribution which he is called upon to make—that is, one-third of the cost — is the approximate value of the scheme to the farmer. For example, if a farmer pays £12 to the State for reclaiming an acre of bog it is not by any means certain that the improvement of that acre of bog will be worth more than £12 to that farmer. Therefore it is not the farmer who is benefiting by this scheme; it is the nation that is benefiting and, of course, it is the nation that should pay for it.

Some Deputies have compared this reclamation scheme with the farm improvements scheme. I do not think the comparison is altogether unfair. The farm improvements scheme when initiated was a bold and useful scheme. Even the Minister on one occasion, indeed on several occasions, paid a glowing tribute to that scheme. The comparison sought to be made between the farm improvements scheme and the present land reclamation project is a comparison between the annual cost of the scheme and a scheme in which £40,000,000 is to be invested. The real comparison is that under the farm improvements scheme the farmer was entitled to receive only 50 per cent. of the labour cost, not 50 per cent. of the total cost, whereas under this scheme the farmer will get two-thirds of the total cost. That is a far-reaching advance and let us recognise it. I do not think that Deputy Smith in his approach to the Bill was unfair to the measure or unduly critical. As an Opposition Deputy, he sought to point out the weaknesses and the flaws in the Bill, as is the duty of an Opposition Deputy, and beyond that he was reasonably fair to the measure. The measure is a good one. It is a far-reaching and beneficial scheme which will confer enormous benefits on the nation, if properly carried out. There are, of course, difficulties which will be certain to arise in its administration. The Bill before the House is a very simple measure but the scheme when implemented will be anything but simple. It is a scheme which will require the utmost care in preparation, in the organisation required and in the general administration of the whole project.

The Minister was right when he said that it is not a relief scheme so far as the workers are concerned. I do not think that any useful work in which men are engaged, and in which they give a useful return for their wages, can be regarded as relief work or should be regarded as relief. If unemployed men are sent to repair a road, to make a footpath, to lay down a sewer or any work of that kind they are doing useful work for the nation. In the same way, if unemployed men are employed on this scheme they need not suffer the humiliation of being described as receiving relief. They can hold their heads high as they are contributing to the benefit of the nation. Similarly, the farmer who cooperates with the Department in carrying out this scheme can also hold up his head and let nobody suggest for one moment that he is a recipient of State aid. Nothing I think could be more harmful to the general morale of our people than to have it broadcast that a large section of the community, the farmers, are receiving State aid.

The scope of this Bill is fairly wide and I am in complete agreement with those Deputies, including the last speaker, Deputy Lehane, who pointed out the necessity for having its scope widened a little further. You can divide the land of this country into three types. You have wet land or hilly land that requires drainage or reclamation, and good land that is producing the average, or over the average production, in the way of crops or pastures. In between these types there is the marginal land that is dry and sound but which is deficient in lime and phosphates and which, because of that very great deficiency, is incapable of producing crops sufficient to make a profit for the farmer or in fact sufficient even to pay the workers engaged in tilling the land and cultivating the crops. I want to ask the Minister is it not possible to extend the scheme to cover such land. Take, for example, a man who has 60 statute acres. Twenty acres of that is bog and he will be induced to spend £12 per acre on these 20 acres— a total of £240. He has also 20 acres of good land and a third 20 acres which is dry and sound but which is producing very little. There is no inducement in this Bill, no encouragement and no assistance to that farmer to do anything in regard to that marginal land which could with a very small expenditure be brought into a high state of production.

May I ask the Deputy this question? If a farmer has 20 acres of what he describes as marginal land, and he puts upon it fertilisers which will make it highly productive, we may assume that when the harvest comes that highly productive land will be remunerative. He will then have out of the yield of the crops, the price of the fertilisers and a profit for himself. Why, in the name of commonsense, should the State pay to fertilise the soil if what the Deputy says is true, that these 20 acres with the application of fertilisers will give him in the harvest a profit to pay for the fertilisers?

Now we come to the point where the Minister has made a mistake. I think it is a fundamental mistake and I raised this matter on a number of occasions. If land is really impoverished, if it is the type of land which I have described, land which has no real fertility, it will take some years to bring that land back into maximum production. It will require a very considerable expenditure, both in regard to lime and phosphates in order to make it productive and there is no chance whatever that the land would repay the cost of the manures within one year. I know what I am speaking about. I know that type of land which is to be found all over Wicklow and in other parts of Leinster. The farmer who owns that type of land could not think of putting into it the amount of capital which would bring it up to the maximum state of fertility. He would not have the capital in the first place and in the second place he could not hope to get repayment within any reasonable time. I want to know if anything can be done for that type of land. Surely there ought to be some way in this sort of scheme to help that type of farmer. The Minister has said in connection with this scheme that he will help the man who is going to purchase machinery for drainage with a loan of one-third of the cost and a grant of one-third of the cost. Would it be too much to ask the Minister to make the same approach to help the man, such as Deputy Lehane described, whose land is below a certain margin of fertility? Would it not be well to provide him with a loan of one-third of the cost and a grant of one-third of the cost? That, I think, would be a reasonable approach to this very difficult problem. It is a thing that must be faced because there are millions of acres of such land. The Minister can see them when he travels the roads, lands where the pasture is white. It appears all right, perhaps, to a person travelling the roads, but if you go in and examine it in summer when the grass should be green you will find that there is no good grass at all. Yet it is dry and potentially good agricultural land. The time has come to bring that 1,000,000, 2,000,000 acres or whatever amount there is of this land up to the maximum fertility and productivity, for that is the way to get an immediate expansion in agricultural production.

Many bogs if they were properly drained would become very productive.

Who is talking about bogs?

We can refer to wet land as bogs if we like; after all, what is the difference? In the Minister's Connaught English there may be some distinction, but as far as I am concerned wet land is boggy land. I have seen such wet lands drained and made very productive. I have seen land which was formerly regarded as bog producing as much as 20 barrels of wheat to the acre. That is true. It can be done, if not in all cases. There are bogs, as the Minister says, and bogs. There is land which even with the most intensive draining cannot be made very productive and I believe that a certain amount of land will be treated under the scheme which will not give as high production as we hope. Generally, the scheme will be to the benefit of agriculture and of the nation, but you will get a very much greater return and in a much shorter time by bringing up that type of land I have described to maximum productivity, the impoverished but dry land.

There are other aspects of the Bill on which the Minister in replying will perhaps enlighten us. There is a question to which the Minister, I think, referred in an interruption, the time for the repayment of the loans. The period is, I understand, 60 years and I think that is a reasonable period. They will, I think, be availed of to a very considerable extent. There are a large number of farmers in this country who cannot find the necessary capital to undertake work of reclamation themselves and who must depend on the State to provide it. In this connection I want to point out to the Minister that it is rather a strange thing that the State is prepared to provide credit facilities to reclaim wet or mountain land and that it will not provide similar credit facilities to improve, re-equip and re-stock the better land. The Minister has a very able and active mind, but on the question of credit for agriculture he appears to have encased it in a dough of concrete that an atomic bomb could scarcely penetrate. As he has agreed to provide credit on a long term for the one specific purpose of improving agricultural land, I hope he will extend that activity. I can envisage, now that the thin edge of the wedge is inserted, that there will be certain Deputies who will continue to hammer that wedge until adequate capital is provided to bring agriculture to its maximum productivity. There is no reason why the State should provide credit on a long term for the improvement of what I described as bog and what the Minister described as wet land and at the same time refuse credit facilities for more productive and even more useful purposes.

A very useful point was made by Deputy Allen. Although I would like to repeat it, repetition unfortunately is not allowed, but I would like to underline it because I think it is a point which the Minister may have overlooked in drafting the scheme. A farmer can borrow up to £12 per acre for reclamation. He can incur that amount of debt, but it might happen that such a large percentage of his land would require reclamation that he might be tempted to borrow more than his farm could actually carry. I have always advocated credit, but I have never believed it desirable for any man to borrow more than 50 per cent. of the market value of his holding. I think the Minister will agree with me that if 90 per cent. of a man's farm needed reclamation—and there are farms of that type—and if he borrowed £12 on every acre, he might burden that farm beyond what it could reasonably carry. That would be undesirable and it is a point which should be looked into.

Would you leave him on the bog?

It is a problem that will have to be solved. You would have to do one of two things. If you found that the amount of money would be too great a burden to place on the holding you might have to reduce the amount of the contribution per acre in that particular case or else reclaim only a certain portion of the land. Some means can be found out of the difficulty I am sure.

The Minister in introducing the scheme did not refer to the financing of it, but I am to assume, however, that a Supplementary Estimate will be introduced to provide the necessary money to carry it out throughout the coming year. I would not expect it would be possible by any stretch of the imagination or by any stretch of activity on the part of the Minister's Department to spend £4,000,000 in the first year. The House is entitled to know how this money is being raised by the Government, what it is costing and what the terms of repayment are.

I would like the Minister to say, when replying, if adequate equipment is available to carry out the scheme in the most efficient way, not only the mechanical excavators and other equipment but the necessary piping for field drainage. This is important, as there are many areas where field drainage can be carried out with stone, which is plentiful, while there are other areas where no stone of any kind is readily available and where the farmer—or the Department, if carrying out the scheme—will have to depend on pipes. That is really a matter of administration, but nothing would be more undesirable than that the scheme should be launched and a certain number of acres reclaimed by methods which are not of the highest standard of efficiency. We want the scheme carried out not only quickly but in the most efficient way.

I trust the Minister will find a way to deal with the 3,000,000 or 4,000,000 acres of marginal land to which I have referred. There must be some way of dealing with it. The farmer cannot do it himself. The State could assist the farmer, if the Government is willing, and the return is certain to give ample repayment for any effort or expenditure.

Regarding the provision of long-term credit under this scheme, the farmer is to be given a loan of £12 per acre over a period of 60 years. Every time I raised this question of credit here, the Minister always referred to "credit-worthy farmers". I take it that under this scheme there will be no reference to the credit-worthiness or otherwise of the farmer. I take it that the money will be provided on the security and value of the holding, not on the personal merits or demerits of the farmer. If we are to get back to the old groove of the credit-worthiness of the farmer. I am afraid the scheme will be greatly hampered, just as the scheme of the Agricultural Credit Corporation was hampered.

The Minister referred in his opening statement to the great work achieved by Michael Davitt when he succeeded in initiating a movement which led to the purchase of the land from the landlords and the establishment of the farmer as owner. But that scheme was based on credit to the farmer, not on the farmer's personal credit-worthiness. The average farmer at that time, according to ordinary banking standards, would not pass any test of credit-worthiness. That scheme was based on a belief in the farmers as a body and upon the value of the land that was purchased; and it justified itself immeasurably in the years that followed.

That is the very last example I would care to draw down just at present.

Does the Minister claim that the farmers failed in their obligations to the State in regard to the land annuities?

To the tune of 50 per cent., which was remitted under the Land Act of 1933.

That was an international question in which the farmers themselves were not involved.

It does not arise on this measure.

As far as that is concerned, they fulfilled their obligations and if farmers are treated in the same way again as they were under that scheme and as they should be treated under an extension of this scheme, they will fulfil their obligations as creditably as they did under other schemes for the purchase of the land from the landlords.

In his opening statement, the Minister invited Deputies from all parts of the House to join in the debate and put him some questions on any matters which may not appear to be clear. I gladly accept that invitation. There are a couple of matters to which I wish to refer briefly and obtain, if possible, the necessary information from the Minister. I might be pardoned if I take what may be considered a narrow point of view, but I seek information as to the basis on which the order of priority has been chosen. If I remember rightly, the Minister named all the counties one by one along the coast, including Connaught and Munster, with one exception—Clare.

Galway and Clare.

I think it is in operation in Galway since last year, as one of the first counties. However, apart from my natural interest, I would like the Minister to explain how these counties are to fare. In County Clare — and, as the Minister adds, Galway—is the necessary machinery not available there that was available elsewhere, or why was it that this order was selected? In Clare, the Minister will be up against a different problem from that of any other county. He said that under this scheme he hoped to drain and reclaim every acre of land in Ireland — at least, in the Twenty-Six Counties. He did claim that that was what he was going to do. I doubt very much if he will be able to do that in County Clare or in a very large portion of it. If he starts in the town of Ennis moving northwards until he reaches Ballyvaughan, or if he starts at Ceann Bhóirne, in the north-western corner of the constituency, back to Corofin, he will be confronted with a problem that even he will scarcely be able to deal with.

There is one aspect of that territory with which the Minister may not be familiar—you have a huge area of limestone rock and intermingled a considerable area of small valleys, sometimes which could not even be described as valleys but as intervening spaces, of very fertile land, a large portion of which is overgrown with scrub, whitethorn bushes and nut bushes or hazel. I wonder if the Minister's scheme would apply to that and if it would be possible to reclaim that very large area under the scheme.

On the other hand, there is a problem of a different nature. I did not catch the Minister's reference to this, though he did refer to it. It is regarding the estuarine portions adjoining the rivers Shannon and Fergus. I do not know if the Minister intends to deal with that particular problem or whether it is excluded from this scheme altogether. Whatever doubts there may be as to the possibility of reclaiming the craggy lands, there is no doubt whatever about the possibility of reclaiming these very rich lands, amounting in all to approximately 17,000 acres of what would possibly be, if reclaimed, the richest land in this country or any other country. About 100 years ago, portion of this land was reclaimed by the Fergus Reclamation Syndicate and quite recently portion of it was divided and I have been credibly informed that as many as three crops of mangolds have been produced on that land without manure. I mention that merely to prove the rich nature of the soil there.

Not, I hope, to commend the practice.

No—merely to prove what was done there. I doubt if it could be done anywhere else in Europe. It might be done in Java, but I doubt if it could be done elsewhere. This land could be reclaimed at perhaps a lesser cost than the average cost under the Minister's scheme. Twenty-one years ago, the Clare County Committee of Agriculture laid out a small demonstration plot which has been left there since in order to give time to the experiment to mature. Sufficient time has now elapsed to enable the Minister's experts, if the Minister wishes to take an interest in it, to ascertain what has been the success of the scheme. In my opinion, if the plants there were transplanted along the various stretches of mudflats there, within a period of perhaps 20 years, all of that area could be brought into production. It has been done in some portions of East Anglia, as the Minister can easily ascertain if he refers to the authority there, the East Anglia Institute of Agriculture. Large areas along the coast of Holland have also been reclaimed, and, as the Minister did refer to one of the Dutch Departments, I hope he will seek whatever information is there and, if necessary, get some of the Dutch experts over here to advise on the subject. It would be well worth while and I mention the matter in passing in the hope that the Minister will give serious attention to it, with a view to seeing if it is possible for him to bring it in under this scheme and, if not, with a view to having it dealt with in another scheme later on.

This scheme, I take it, is primarily intended to deal, in the first instance, with ordinary field drainage and, for the sake of the general information of the people interested, I should like to know whether, if there is an area of ten acres with a wet corner and the only direction in which the water can be taken from it is down through it, the farmer concerned will have to pay for the drainage of the entire ten acres because one small drain has to be run through it. Another item which I take it will come within the scope of the scheme is the levelling of ditches, the filling up of ditches in uneven land which one often sees in some of the richest parts of the country. Am I correct in thinking that that will come within the scheme?

Another problem which will confront the Minister in certain areas is the scarcity of materials suitable for drainage. In many parts of the country and particularly in the western portion of my constituency, which is in the main of a boggy nature, stones suitable for drainage are extremely difficult to obtain or can be obtained only by going a long distance. Would it be possible for the Minister to have an arrangement whereby cheap pipes could be made available for use in these circumstances? That is an area which could benefit by this scheme, if it were extended to it, and I have been informed by a man whom I would regard as an excellent authority that that land would be capable of doubling its production, if given proper treatment. For that reason, I am sorry that it is not one of the earlier schemes in the Minister's list.

Several speakers have already referred to the utilisation of portion of the large sum which the Minister envisages for expenditure under this scheme to enable farmers to obtain fertilisers at a lesser cost than that obtaining at present. I think the Minister would be well advised to listen to the suggestions made from both sides of the House on that subject. If he wants immediate results, if he wants to get an increase in production, he will be well advised not to turn down the suggestions made to him in all good faith by several speakers from both sides of the House. Everybody agrees that 95 per cent. of the land of the country is in urgent need of phosphates at present, and, for that reason, the Minister should devote portion of this money to the provision of suitable fertilisers.

The Minister also referred to the production of grass seeds, of pedigree seeds. I think that, too, is a move in the right direction, because I have been informed that the percentage of germination in commercial grass seeds has been as low as 26 per cent., which is a very unsatisfactory position indeed. Is it the Minister's intention that these grass seeds will be produced by our own farmers here and there, that a number of farmers will be selected to go in for the production of these seeds and that one group will produce ryegrass of suitable strains, another Cocksfoot and so on, in order that our farmers will be assured of getting suitable strains within a reasonable period? If so, the Minister would be well advised to encourage the production of these seeds at home rather than to import what might perhaps be inferior seeds or seeds which, because of the change of climate and so on, might not be as productive here as elsewhere.

Ba mhaith liomsa céad míle fáilte a chur roimh an mBille seo agus focal comhgháirdeachais a rá leis an Aire mar gheall air. Creidim go bhfuighidh an Bille an fháilte chéanna ó na daoine go léir ar fud an tíre. Cuirfidh an obair a deanfar fén scéim seo feabhas thar cuimse ar thalamh na hEireann agus tabharfadh sé caoi mhaireachtála d'fheirmeoirí nach bhfuil an chaoi sin acu inniu. Nuair a chuimhnimid ar an obair a rinne ár sinsear leis an talamh d'fháil do na daoine is brónach an seéal a bhí againn le suim blianta: an talamh san bheith ag dul chun donachta cheal saorthú. Luachair atá ag fás in áit ar chóir barraí bréaghtha a bheith agus tá súil le Dia agam go gcuirfídh an Bille seo deireadh leis an luachair. Má dhéanann an Bille leath an méid atá beartaithe ag an Aire is mór ar fad an maitheas a dhéanfas sé don tír agus tá buíochas na tíre ag dul don Aire ar a shon. Tá cúpla ceist agam le cur ar an Aire.

I see in sub-section (2) of Section 3 a provision with regard to the payment of the reclamation annuity, and I would like to ascertain from the Minister how the period of repayment will be arranged. He mentioned, in reply to a question from Deputy Lehane, that the period for repayment would be 60 years but there is a further provision in the Bill whereby the reclamation annuity will stand consolidated with the purchase annuity so as to form one annuity. I would like to ascertain from the Minister how he intends to make the necessary adjustment in view of the fact that some of the holdings which will benefit under this scheme were purchased under Acts in respect of which the repayment period will soon determine. Some holdings bought under the earlier Land Acts are now free of annuity. There are varying periods for the continuation of the land purchase annuities. Are we to take it that in cases where there is a short period in comparison with other long periods of repayment the ultimate period of repayment will be extended? As a matter of interest, I would like to get that information from the Minister because it is a question which many people will be asking. From the Bill as it stands it would appear that the reclamation annuity will come to an end at the same time as the land purchase annuity now affecting the holding is due to come to an end.

Under sub-section (5) of Section 3 I notice that neither a consolidated annuity nor a reclamation annuity shall be subject to revision under the Land Purchase Acts but, of course, the consolidated annuity will consist of a reclamation annuity added to the revised purchase annuity as it stands at the present time. I do not quite see the necessity for that particular sub-section at all because a future Dáil could change that quite easily if the necessity arose, and I do not see much point in including it in the Bill.

The provision for the charging of the reclamation annuity on the fee simple of the holding may cause some little difficulty because we can easily visualise cases in which the full fee simple interest in the holding may not be vested in the applicant or the occupier of the land. We can visualise cases, let us say, of the widow and children of a deceased owner who died intestate living on there and cases where, for reasons such as the family being young or being in poor circumstances, it may not be possible to get the title put in order. I would like to ascertain from the Minister if he has taken that position into account and if he has worked out a plan for the selection of the applicant.

The occupier.

There may be a number of occupiers.

The rated occupier.

The rated occupier is not mentioned in the Bill, as a matter of fact. Yes, I suppose that would meet the situation. I quite understand how the situation was met under the Land Purchase Acts, by vesting the property in the occupier subject to equities, but I was wondering if that was in contemplation by the Minister and if some principles on a similar line would apply here. I can appreciate that there will be repercussions from this Bill that cannot be avoided with regard to the charging of the ownership. I can visualise, for instance, one case where injustices may be worked to people.

Must not we assume that the work done is worth more than £12?

Oh, yes, I am accepting that. I think that will not be questioned but there is one particular case in point that the Minister might consider. We know that on the death intestate of a married man without children, the property is valued in a certain artificial manner under the Intestate Estates Act. If this artificial value is less than £500 the widow gets everything to the exclusion of the next-of-kin. That artificial value is not related to the market value. We know that in calculating that artificial value, charges on the holding including the redemption value of the land annuities are taken into account. Under this Bill, when this reclamation annuity is charged on the lands the widow will have in fact a more valuable holding but she will be entitled to deduct from the artificial value of it the redemption value of the reclamation annuity and that will in fact work an injustice on the next-of-kin.

God help the widow. Is not it a very good thing that she should be the sole heir to a small estate?

It may be. But there are cases where this Bill will have repercussions on other branches of the law. I suppose it cannot be avoided. I think it is just as well to mention it. The Minister may find a way out of some of these changes which will be effected in other branches of the law. I do not think it is necessary or desirable that the detailed provisions of the Bill should be gone into now.

I consider that this Bill is of such great importance to the farmers of Ireland that it will find a place in the future history of this country and I think the Minister rightly described it as the finishing touch to the work begun by Michael Davitt. I think it is a very great tribute to the Minister and that it is the product of sound intelligence and of a courageous mind. The Dáil ought to be, and the country will be, very grateful to the Minister for Agriculture for having had the courage and the foresight to introduce a Bill of this kind.

The Bill before us is undoubtedly of great importance to the agricultural community. Whatever snags may arise during its operation there can be no doubt at all but that the Minister responsible, by visualising this problem in a big way, deserves encouragement. I trust that the farmers in general will approve of it and will utilise it to the utmost. I am quite confident that that will be the case. However, I consider that, somehow, the putting forward of this Bill was hurried. For instance, I cannot see how the operation of field drainage can be undertaken without a general survey of the area involved. I am sure that the first operation will have to be the cleaning of the main drains in so far as these affect the drainage in any field if you are to carry out effective drainage there. Who is responsible then for clearing these main drains, small rivers, perhaps, or such watercourses as are of importance to begin with? Since the introduction of this Bill and since the passing of the Drainage Act to be operated by the local bodies there is complete confusion in the minds of the people as to where they should now apply in order to get one of their improvement works carried out. I think I asked a Parliamentary question in that regard. I pointed out that there should be some co-ordination of all the different schemes that are about to operate in respect of land improvement work. We have, for instance, the farm improvements scheme which is operated by the Department of Agriculture, a watertight Department. Its officials—men who have been doing good work over a number of years—are working singly. Then the special employment schemes or minor relief schemes are operated by another set of officials. We have, in addition, forestry work and Land Commission work. Then there is the Drainage Bill under the Department of Local Government and now we have the Land Reclamation Bill under the Minister for Agriculture. All the officials of these Departments are operating in each district. Their contacts are with the same people. Surely the matter could be more efficiently operated and more easily understood by the people concerned if an organisation in each county had control of all these different units and was so organised that the people understood to whom they should apply and which Department was responsible for or would undertake their work. At the moment you have this form of overlapping. Take the case of a drainage operation, affecting a townland, which requires to be carried out. At present we probably could get that job done under the special employment schemes or under the rural improvements scheme. It is also possible that that same job could be carried out by the county council under the new Drainage Bill. There would be overlapping because, as I say, the scheme could be carried out under the rural improvements scheme or under the county council, or the Department of Local Government might be prepared to carry out the same work and be responsible for it.

I want to point out to the Minister that there is undoubtedly a considerable amount of confusion created by the fact that all these schemes are operated seperately. The result is that the ordinary person, for whose benefit they are in operation, is unable to put his finger on the particular Department or the particular group of people who may be responsible for his particular job. I urge that there should be some form of co-operation in controlling these schemes. I am quite satisfied that it can be done with considerable economy to the State. I cannot see why the man who is operating the farm improvements scheme could not also operate the Department of Agriculture's scheme in a large way so far as this drainage is concerned, and similarly up and down through the various Departments I have mentioned.

The cost under this Bill is, I take it, fixed at a maximum of £36 an acre for the carrying out of improvements. I wonder why that figure of £36 an acre was fixed. If the improvement of an acre of land costs over £36, will £36 be spent and then will it be allowed to remain as an unfinished job?

£36 is the maximum and if it costs £36 more to improve the land will nothing be done?

It is an estimate of what we believe to be the average. One-third of that is the liability of the farmer. The Department takes the risk of having to spend more if an acre of land, potentially arable, requires more to be spent in order to make it arable in fact.

So the sum is not rigidly confined to the £36? There is now a balance of £12 an acre. For instance, if the job is to cost £36 the owner is liable to a charge of £12 an acre which is provided by way of a loan, repayable, I understand, at 4 per cent.

At 3½ per cent.

Take the case of a farmer with 30 or 40 acres who requires improvements on 20 acres. He will, at that rate, have a charge made on his land of approximately £8 or £9 a year. I put it to the Minister that that is not a fair way at all of fixing costs. In many instances that sum will represent a larger amount per annum charged against the holding than was originally charged in the case of the land annuities.

Prior to the Purchase Acts, which fixed the sum on which the farmer paid his annuity, the farmers had the right to go into court in order to get a fair rent fixed according to the value of the land. Therefore, there was a fairly equitable arrangement by which the land was charged with a sum equivalent to what the land was capable of bearing. Under this system there is no means at all of determining what the land is capable of bearing. It is very probable that in the case of poor land as, for instance, small congested areas in the West of Ireland, the land will cost more per acre to improve by drainage and otherwise than good land would cost. Therefore you will put a heavier charge on the poorer quality of land comparatively than on the good land. It is absurd to think that small farmers, even if the land is improved, can carry such a burden which is altogether out of proportion with what the good quality land will have to bear.

I urge on the Minister that if this scheme is to operate successfully the charge should not be fixed upon the cost, but that there should be taken into consideration the improvement made to the land, what the land is capable of carrying when it is so improved and the number of people per acre who are resident in that area. The number of people resident on and depending on the land should be taken into consideration as well as the improvement made to the land and what the land is capable of bearing when it is so improved.

Has not the farmer the alternative of doing it himself and getting the grant?

I am bearing that in mind. The farmer with good land which is easily drained and which will cost much less and the return from which will be much greater is afforded the same facility for doing the work himself as the people in the west. The Minister will find that many of those farmers in the west whose farms are so improved will have to bear a heavier burden in the form of a new charge than they were asked to bear under the Land Purchase Acts. Under the Land Purchase Acts the purchase price was fixed with a degree of equity owing to the courts having fixed a fair rent previously. There is no such provision here. They will be charged with the cost of the work. I can assure the Minister that it will have a serious and damaging effect on the whole operation of the scheme because a small farmer, if he is industrious as most of them are, will be very slow to burden his farm with anything like such a sum as may be charged.

They would ordinarily do it themselves and collect the grant.

A good many of them will. Practically all I know will, but if they have no help available and are not, therefore, able to do it they will have to bear this charge. That will be inequitable, especially if they are in poor circumstances. There may be arrears of land annuities on the holding and to these will be added the additional burden.

I, therefore, say the problem in the west should be considered separately. There should not be any such thing as one uniform scheme dealing with the poor quality land and the good quality land on which drainage and reclamation work will be comparatively inexpensive and the benefits from which will be very much greater. I urge that there should be a total survey of each area before any field drainage is put into operation. That is essential and can be carried out by an amalgamation of the existing officers operating under the Department, most of whom have experience extending over the last 15 or 20 years.

It has been suggested that this is a sort of gratuitous grant to the farmer. It is nothing of the sort. What this proposes to do is restore what farmers were forced to take out of their soil during the emergency in the interests of the nation. Compulsory tillage was in operation—a very necessary thing. That, however, was responsible for extracting the fertility from the soil of farms all over the country. As there were no artificial manures available, the soil became poorer. Compulsory tillage was not generally beneficial to the farmer. He had to carry it out whether it meant a loss or a gain, but the nation gained by it. Therefore, the fertility, which is the great asset on any farm, was by order of the Government drawn from the soil and used for providing the necessary food for our people. If a Government tells a factory which is manufacturing cigarettes that they must manufacture some other commodity which is essential for the time being, at the end of the period of emergency it is always recognised that the owner of the factory is entitled to compensation for having to make the change-over in the interests of the nation. Therefore, this Bill, although magnanimous and magnificent in its outline, by no means makes a gift from the State to the farmer. It is merely giving back what is due to the farmer.

It all depends on the profits the farmer made. If a factory made a profit, the owner would not receive compensation.

The Deputy misunderstands the situation. He does not understand agriculture. Farmers did not make any great profit during these years. As you know, prices were fixed to a large extent. In some cases, farmers made a reasonable profit, but in many cases there was no such thing as a profit which would allow the farmer to recondition his land and restore the fertility extracted from it during the period of compulsory tillage. The nation, therefore, is morally bound to restore to the farmer what was taken from him.

The Bill is a magnificent one in many ways and I hope it will have the effect that I anticipate. There must, however, be certain adjustments made on the lines I have suggested if it is to be generally useful and made applicable to the areas where it is needed most, namely, the congested areas.

I wonder how far this additional burden when it becomes a mortgage on the lands will affect loans which hitherto have been available to some extent, but always to a very limited extent, from the banks. I wonder will the banks in future limit the loans granted on the security of land owing to the increased burden which will be put on the land by this scheme. If they do, it may have serious effects. It is a matter which will have to be considered. Everyone knows how careful banks are in advancing loans against any property. The charges on land in the form of land annuities or other things very largely determine the amount of credit which banks will make available. This will mean an additional burden on the land and if it has the effect of reducing the financial facilities available hitherto it will have an un-favourable reaction. On the other hand, this scheme when put into operation may have the effect of making credit facilities more readily available to the farmer because of the increased fertility and productivity of the soil. I think the scheme is a good one. I am quite sure that its operation will reveal many snags that will require care and patience in order to make a job of it, but the skeleton and the idea are good and accordingly it is entitled to be persevered with. I am satisfied that the final results will be practical and good.

My excuse for rising to speak for a few moments on this Bill is that I happen to be chairman of a county committee of agriculture. I agree with the other Deputies in welcoming this measure as one likely to benefit a very large number of farmers and, I hope, in particular the smaller farmers of the congested areas. There are undoubtedly great possibilities in this measure but there are, I would suggest, also great possibilities for wasting a lot of money unless great care is used in the selection of the land which will be drained or reclaimed. I have seen land reclamation schemes going on since I was very young. If you examine those lands at the present time there is not very much sign of improvement, quite the contrary. Most of them have gone back to their original wild state. I understand that the £40,000,000 are to be used for increasing food production. I do not think you are going to get the best out of this money if it is to be spent almost entirely on what you might call at the present time waste land.

This matter was under consideration by my committee of agriculture and it was decided to ask the Minister to extend this scheme to include the better type of land mentioned by Deputy Cogan some time ago, land that has become impoverished and needs special attention. I agree with that view. In fact, almost all the Deputies who spoke on the Government side stressed this point. I quite agree with them that it would be nationally foolish to spend all the money on reclaiming lands that just at the moment happen to be in a very bad condition and would not benefit the country very much. That is the first point I wish to make.

I hope the Minister was not very serious in decrying manual labour in this matter of reclamation. I was rather astonished to find the Minister telling us that elaborate machinery is to be used, apparently, in all cases in this scheme of reclamation. First of all, I do not think that this elaborate machinery is going to be a success in many of the places that have to be drained or reclaimed. Notwithstanding what has been said about it not being a scheme to provide labour, it would be very wrong to minimise the amount of labour to be given to people in the poorer areas. It may be all right in some of the richer lands to use this elaborate machinery but it would not be wise in the poorer areas, especially in the west of Ireland.

First of all, do you think you are going to take elaborate machinery into bogs which, I presume, you are going to reclaim? I do not think you will. Besides a large amount of this work can and will only be done by manual labour. You will find that is so yourself. I am rather surprised and I do not know on what the Minister based his selection of certain counties for the benefits of this reclamation scheme. The people in my county, Roscommon, cannot understand it either. We cannot see why counties in the various provinces have been selected and why a county like Roscommon has been omitted. I hope it is not because the Minister comes from Roscommon.

If I did the other thing that would be mentioned pretty quickly too.

I think we stand in need of this scheme as much as any other county. However, there is something reassuring in the statement that within a year he hopes to have the scheme in operation in every county. I should like to know from the Minister when he is replying whether the present farm improvements scheme is going to be continued as it is at the moment. There are certain very great advantages in the present farm improvements scheme. I think the greatest advantage is that when the scheme is carried out it leaves no liability. Perhaps I am an alarmist in this matter but I do not agree with the principle, generally, of imposing big financial burdens and leaving big debts on land.

Does the Deputy not realise that I spent half-an-hour explaining that there are two alternatives. The farmer may get a grant——

I understand that. You need not explain any further to me. Notwithstanding anything the Minister has said, there are many people who would make application for grants and loans who do not always know to what it leads. I believe that at the present time the cost of labour is very high and undoubtedly agricultural prices are good, but a day may come when the prices will not be so good and then many of the tenants may find themselves in the position that they will not be able to repay those loans. I know, of course, there are cases where the loans are necessary but I am afraid that in such cases many thinking farmers will not avail themselves of loans in that way.

Four shillings and sevenpence per acre.

That may be, but if you go to some districts in Roscommon you will find that 4/7 will be a deterrent and do not make any mistake about it.

I wish I had some of the banking accounts in the west. I should be a rich man.

Of the small farmers? Surely you are not serious in that.

Is £3 a week for farm labourers too high? Do you agree it is too high?

I am not discussing that question at the moment. I understand from the Minister that the rate of interest is 4 per cent.

Three and a half per cent.

What is mentioned in the Bill?

Four per cent. including the redemption of the loan.

Anyway, three and a half and a half are four. I think it is rather high. One or two things were mentioned in the debate by some Deputies which rather surprised me. One Deputy mentioned that the manufacturers of artificial manures at home should, to some extent, be boycotted and that manures should be imported. I think that is a very bad outlook. Instead of that we should in every way try to encourage the manufacture of these manures at home. If the manufacturers are overcharging, as Deputy Allen stated, there are means of dealing with them. Certainly it would be wrong to try and import manures when these things could be produced at home.

Finally, I want to stress particularly and to ask the Minister specially to consider the question of extending the scope of the Bill—this can be done on an amendment — to include a better type of land than appears to be envisaged in the Bill. It would be a great mistake from the point of view of full production and of the future to confine the Bill almost entirely to those lands that are at present more or less derelict. Perhaps the Minister has that in view.

I never said that.

It appears to be there in the enumeration of the things that are to be done. It does not appear to include the better type of land. I would be glad if the Minister had in view the provision of help for farmers who have the better type of land, but which is now reduced in fertility. It would not be a very costly thing if, by providing cheap artificial manures, you could improve that land. The land is reasonably good and is capable of improvement. The Minister, I am afraid, has a kind of fixed idea against these subsidies. I do not think he is right in that. In my opinion, the best thing to do would be to provide, by means of subsidy or otherwise, cheap artificial manures, such as phosphates and ground limestone for the improvement of the better type of land. It would be of great benefit to the country if we had more of these artificial manures available for that purpose. They are so dear at the moment that farmers do not use them to the extent that they should.

They are cheaper in Ireland than in any other known civilised country in the world.

That may be so. I am living amongst farmers and I know that they are not using them. In other countries, where you have big centres of population, the farmers who happen to be living adjacent to big cities have good markets for their produce. I know that the Irish farmer is conservative as a rule, but the point is that many of them are not using artificial manures to the extent they should because they have not the money and cannot afford to buy them. I suggest to the Minister that he should do something to make it possible for them to get cheap artificial manures. We are all agreed that quite a lot of deterioration in land set in during the last nine or 12 years owing to increased crop production. That was inevitable. I suggest that it would not take a lot of money to restore such land to a reasonable condition of fertility. That is a point that has been put by my county committee of agriculture. I am now putting it to the Minister that he should, over the period that he will have the handling of this £40,000,000 or £50,000,000, carry out that suggestion.

There is no need for me to say that I welcome this scheme. I think any honest man should do so, irrespective of whether he is a farmer or otherwise. Of course, we had the usual "Doleful Jimmies" on the other side of the House. I was glad to see, however, that we had not very many long-winded speeches from them. This is a national scheme that we are embarking on. There is no touch of the dole or of relief about it, and there is no doubt but that the farmers will do their share with a good heart and without any dole.

This is a scheme that should have been introduced 20 years ago. There is altogether too much of the land of this nation water-logged. It badly needs reclamation of a high order, and that work of reclamation will have to go on for a long number of years. I am glad that the Minister has made his scheme as elastic as possible so that if he finds any snags in it while the work is going ahead he will have the opportunity of putting them right. The Minister is not the type of man who will allow himself to be tied up in red tape. I hope that, as time goes on, this scheme will lead to much better things so far as the improvement of the land of the country is concerned, and that the farm improvements scheme, the minor relief schemes and other schemes will all be embraced in this great national scheme for the rehabilitation of our land.

I ask the Minister to encourage cooperative effort in all the areas possible so far as this scheme is concerned. This is a scheme that will encourage farmers to get into the right frame of mind as far as the improvement of their land is concerned. I am living on a farm that at one time was part of a 1,500 acre estate. About 40 years ago a vast scheme of drainage was carried out on that estate. A piping system was laid down but, unfortunately, from the time the land was divided, about 20 years ago, the drainage was neglected, with the result that the old dykes got closed up and the piping system was thereby put out of action. One evidence of that is that sometimes you see fountains springing up in some of the fields on that estate. Co-operative effort is needed to get that drainage system into effective working order again. If four or five farmers got together, these pipes could be cleared and so the drainage on these lands could be brought up to an efficient standard. It is only through co-operative effort that work of that kind could be done. It would involve a good deal of expense, but if four or five farmers undertook to do the work the proportion that would fall on each man would not be very great. It would be absolutely useless to attempt to improve the piping system on one farm and do nothing with regard to it on the adjoining farms.

Some of the Deputies opposite have urged that this scheme should be altered to include much of the better class land in the country. I would not stand for that. Our first consideration should be for the small farmers who have been living on scrubby land all their lives. They have had a hard struggle over a long period of years. The farmers who have land that does not need drainage or rehabilitation should be well able to look after their own land. Fertilisers and limestone are now available, and those farmers by using them, and by a little effort on their own part, should well be able to increase the fertility of their land. A vast amount of the money that is provided under this scheme will be needed to give the small-holders a chance. If there is any money left over after adequate provision has been made to meet their needs, then the position of the farmers with the better class land can be considered. Our first consideration must be for those who are living on tiny farms. They have had to try and exist on the dregs of bad land and what I may call the tail-end of estates. They are the men for whom Michael Davitt fought. I am satisfied that the Minister is the right man to be in charge of this scheme. He does not forget what happened 50 and more years ago when his father, Michael Davitt and Parnell were urging the small farmers to secure a firm grip on their homesteads. I am sure that he will bring to a successful conclusion the work that those great men did in their day.

I am sorry to have to say that every speech Deputy O'Reilly has made here lately has been a pessimistic one. I can see why he is so pessimistic. The success of this scheme will mean the political extinction for many of them over there. I think that is why he is down in the dumps, but I would ask him to have a little more courage and to be more optimistic. He said that we are in for a period of depression, such as we had after the first world war and later when the farmers were down and out. Why not keep up our chins while we are able to do it? What is the use of meeting trouble half way? We should stand up with our coats off and our chins up and be ready to weather any storm that comes along. I want to say to Deputy O'Reilly "Hold your heart up; there is no reason to be down in your boots." The farmers at the present time are in good trim and in good heart. All they want is a little assistance. They do not want either doles or sops. They have guaranteed markets for their produce, and I can tell Deputy O'Reilly that they will weather any storm that comes. They are quite satisfied that the present Minister is going on the right lines and is giving them a lead which they never got before.

Deputy O'Reilly talked about the vast lakes that may be created by this scheme in County Meath. Three or four weeks ago we had the Deputy and other Deputies opposite trying to hold back a Bill that would help to relieve flooding in the country. He talked about the Tolka. I know all the damage that the flooding on it causes. I know a woman who lives near Dunboyne whose kitchen and sitting-room have been flooded to a depth of nine feet. When the Works Bill was before the House in the last couple of weeks, the purpose of which is to relieve flooding such as we have had on the Tolka, Deputy O'Reilly did not give very much help when we were trying to get it through. That Bill will afford relief to people in the same position as this woman at Dunboyne. This scheme is going to be carried out in conjunction with other schemes. The local government drainage scheme will go hand in hand with this. As Deputy O'Reilly knows, Meath is included in the first batch of schemes and it will be only a year or two before Meath comes into its own. In the meantime, we have enough minor and other drainage schemes to be put into operation. The River Tolka and other little rivers which did so much damage in the past will be in fair trim to allow the new scheme to be fully availed of when the time comes.

I am satisfied that the scheme is good and I am sure it will be approved by the people. I feel satisfied that the farmers will do their share. I expect the majority of the farmers will carry out the scheme on their own lands, and that will be only right. There are some people who will have the scheme carried out for them, but I should like to see most of the farmers embarking on this scheme in their own way, supervised by officials. In the course of time a proper spirit will be generated throughout the country and the farmers will realise that they are somebody and the nation will get a good return. There is no need for pessimism. We never expected this money and we should endeavour to avail of it in a good spirit. Let every penny be wisely spent. Some of it may be badly spent, but in a scheme of such magnitude as this one must expect snags. I believe most of the difficulties that will present themselves will be overcome if a proper spirit is observed in putting the scheme into operation.

I ask the Minister to make some effort to see that small schemes, such as road improvement schemes, farm improvement schemes and farm building schemes, where there are vast numbers of officials engaged, will be dovetailed into one national scheme. The Minister has the brains to evolve that type of dovetailing. In that way we will have no overlapping. I welcome this scheme and I am glad that I have lived to see the day when it will be put into operation. We will be helping to achieve what the great men of the past, men like Parnell and Davitt and others who devoted their lives to the interests of the small farmers, hoped to see accomplished in their day.

The Deputy who has just sat down has illustrated the confusion that exists in a lot of people's minds about drainage. He assured the House that the River Tolka would be drained, not under this scheme, but under the Works Bill which is at present being considered by the House and which was presented by the Department of Local Government. But the Parliamentary Secretary in charge of that Bill denied that any such rivers would be drained under the Works Bill.

These are streams rather than rivers.

But the Tolka is a river.

A very small one.

When it floods its banks a few miles outside Dublin, as I saw it on one occasion in summer time, it could not be described as a very small river. Under the Works Bill the Tolka cannot be drained, but under the Works Bill the water that overflows the banks of the Tolka may be capable of creating worse floods and, again, these can be added to by schemes carried out under this Bill. We had here a Drainage Commission and many experts gave evidence before it. We had the best people we could get, men with great experience, sitting on that Commission and they solemnly reported that drainage should commence at the mouth of the river and work up.

The Minister for Agriculture recently employed an expert from New Zealand to examine the problem of land reclamation here, and that expert solemnly reported that a lot of land required to be drained in this country, which was no news to anybody, but he emphasised that the proper way to tackle drainage was to start at the mouth of the river. When I saw that, I remarked that surely he did not come all the way from New Zealand to tell us that. We know that if you do not start at the river mouth you will make things all the more difficult; if you start on the upper reaches the water will flood all the adjoining lands downstream. However, Mr. Holmes in his wisdom thought it necessary to put that in his report. I can see from a lot of the optimism that accompanied the Works Bill here and that is evident in connection with this Bill, that it was a very necessary warning that Mr. Holmes gave us—that the proper way to do the drainage is to start at the river mouth.

We will have at least three authorities dealing with drainage and no one knows whether there will be any co-ordination. Under the Works Bill, the Parliamentary Secretary assured us that they would consult the Office of Public Works in any case where there was a doubt whether the draining of a certain watercourse would not do more harm than good. I would like the Minister for Agriculture to give us a similar assurance. He may be in the same frame of mind as the Parliamentary Secretary who would not accept an amendment from the Opposition on that subject. I would like him to assure the House that in cases where the activities under this Bill lead the Department and its agents to a watercourse or a number of watercourses in order that they may be drained into a river basin already subject to flooding, before they proceed to do that work on any wholesale scale they will consult the only expert authority we have on drainage problems, and that is the Office of Public Works. The country has paid dearly for the experience of the Office of Public Works. They have made mistakes, huge mistakes in the past, in draining the upper reaches of rivers without first cleaning the mouth and the main basins. Surely we should take advantage of that experience and not have to teach two other Departments, at the expense of the farmers, that one has to be careful when one is going to do drainage on any wholesale scale.

"Careful" is good—16 years' meditation.

I would be delighted to go to Mayo on the 15th August. I did not see the Minister for Agriculture celebrating the Republic in Paris, but I certainly would like to see him celebrating his conversion to land reclamation in Mayo. Since Fianna Fáil came into office in 1932, drainage and reclamation schemes of all sorts have been carried out. We had the land reclamation scheme upon which we had an expenditure by the Government alone of up to £500,000 per year, or thereabouts. It took us a long time to do that because the farmers had to be educated into accepting the 50 per cent. grant in order to carry out their improvements.

You spent more than that on Constellations.

I fail to see the relevance of the interruption, apart from anything else.

I want to draw your attention to the fact that I cannot get on my feet without one particular Deputy making interruptions completely irrelevant to the debate. We spent on land reclamation up to £500,000 a year. Under the rural improvements scheme and under the minor relief works we were spending about £1,250,000 on various drainage and small road schemes. The Minister when he came into office saved money in his first year for the Minister for Finance by putting the land improvements scheme into abeyance.

That is crazy nonsense.

On a point of order. No matter how irrelevant my interruption was, what relevancy has this to the present Bill?

I think the Deputy is relevant.

To the present land reclamation scheme?

But not truthful.

I think the Deputy is relevant and, if irrelevancies are provoked by interruptions, my sympathies are with the man who is interrupted.

To continue my point of order. In what way can expenditure of money on rural improvements——

I have ruled that the Deputy is in order and there is no question arising.

The Minister, having put land drainage and land improvement into abeyance for the purpose of saving money collected by taxation, has now in portion of this Bill reintroduced land drainage but the cost is going to be met out of borrowed money and not out of taxation. That is the difference. The story is that we will drain 4,000,000 acres of land at a cost of £40,000,000 which we will get from Marshall Aid and that we will not have to repay it. We are under contract to repay whatever we have got so far. If this country succeeds in spending £40,000,000 worth of dollars and is liable for a repayment charge with 4 per cent. for interest and sinking fund for the next 60 years the State will have to lay aside every year about £1,600,000 to do the job. The question is will the country get value for that? There is no doubt that there are certain lands which would be worth £20 or £30 in reclamation. There are other lands that would not be worth £1 because they are nothing more than blue clay bottoms and, even when drained, are non-arable. I would like to know from the Minister where he will draw the line. Will every acre of land for which a man applies be drained?

Arable, or potentially arable.

All sorts of land is being cultivated at the present time. There are some lands into which crops have been put which do not give very much in return.

Tá an ceart agat ansin.

Tá, agus is maith liom go bhfuil an tuairim sin ag an Aire. The country will have to pay for this one way or the other. If we put ourselves into debt to the tune of £40,000,000 I want to be sure that the result of that expenditure will leave us with more productive land. The capital charges that the land will have to bear in one form or another, whether it is by means of taxation or by means of annuity on the land, will be heavy. I would be glad to learn that the land that costs this money will yield some national wealth. There is a good deal to be said for giving the farmer help to drain his land even from the point of view of giving him a social service in backward districts where the land is poor.

In the land improvements scheme I think we had arrived at machinery which cost the State a good deal less but got the maximum possible benefit for the expenditure of State money. The farmer was given 50 per cent. of the cost and he was the judge as to whether he would proceed and as to whether the result of the expenditure of his labour would be worth while. If he did not think there would be any reasonable result he did not proceed and the State did not have to pay. The financing of this particular scheme is still in doubt. The Minister's explanation to-day, though it may have seemed clear to him, was neither full nor clear. At one time he said that the State would pay two-thirds of the cost. Later in the debate we discovered that the State payment of two-thirds was based on a calculation that the average acre would cost £30. Suppose that it cost £12 to reclaim an acre, the farmer still has to pay £10. He is, therefore, paying five-sixths of the cost.

If it cost what?

Suppose it cost £12 per acre to reclaim an acre the farmer would still have to pay £10. Is that correct?

I do not know where the Deputy gets that.

I understood that from the Minister in his opening remarks. It goes to show the difficulty of debating this without having some clear facts on paper.

That is one explanation. There is another.

Would the Minister answer a simple question at this stage?

With pleasure.

If the drainage costs £30, the farmer's contribution is £10. If the drainage costs £20 the farmer's contribution is £10.

No. If our estimate of the cost of rehabilitating the land specified is £30 and the farmer undertakes to do it himself, he will receive from the State a grant of £20 when the work is completed—two-thirds of the cost.

Suppose that the farmer asks the State to do the job and that it costs £30, how much will the farmer have to pay?

If it costs £20, he will still have to pay £12. If it costs £14, he will still have to pay £12 so that the farmer is paying a very variable percentage of the total cost. In the case of a work costing £14, he is paying six-sevenths, that is well over 60 per cent. or rather 70 per cent. Under the old reclamation scheme, the most he had to pay was 50 per cent.

If the Deputy stands on O'Connell Bridge offering to give away £12 for £12, nobody is going to find fault with him if he also offers to give £15 for £12.

I am only asking the Minister is that true? Before this Bill was brought in, this enabling legislation, we should have in black and white in a White Paper the amount that it is proposed to contribute under the scheme.

I offered to send the pamphlet to the Deputy at 3 o'clock to-day and his colleague told me to keep it.

You asked Deputy Smith whether it was any good to him when he was on his feet speaking.

He could have lent it to you.

I would be delighted to get it from the Minister but it is not very much use to offer it to me in the course of my speech because I cannot read it and speak at the same time. So far as I can see, under this scheme there are certain farmers who will get less than they would have got under the land improvements scheme that has been operated to date

How did he get round to that?

I observe from some hints that the land improvements scheme is going to be dropped, that the work is going to be taken over and all land reclamation done under this in future. Apart from that particular aspect of it, the farmers' aspect, there is the general economic and financial aspect, that we are proposing to carry out this work with borrowed money. If the State collects £4,000,000 this year, and £4,000,000 goes into the Central Bank, when the Minister for Finance takes this out for investment purposes, he has the option of making the investment in something like the Electricity Supply Board or some other type of investment and of getting a fairly reasonable interest on it. If we put it into this work, the farmer is going to pay in some cases six-sevenths of the whole expenditure back. In other cases he will only pay one-third, so that whatever balance is spent over and above what the farmer gives is going to remain a charge on the State Exchequer. That is a debt which will have to be met some time. This £30,000,000 or £40,000,000 of an additional burden on the State may look very simple to the Minister for Agriculture at the moment but at one time he had great complaints as to the burden of debt on the State. He did not know how long the State could survive under the huge burden of debt but he calmly proposes, for one particular scheme alone, inside a few years to add 50 per cent. to the total dead weight debt of the State.

So that the asset of the land is nil?

Land is a very good asset, an excellent asset and we believed that it was an asset that was worth taking care of and that it was worth asking the community to take care of. The Minister is going to put the repayment of the cost of this scheme on the long finger so that the people will not have to pay for it at the present time but will be paying for generations for it. My only criticism is that if it is worth while to improve all our assets, including the asset of the land, it is worth while for people to pay through taxation to the extent that is necessary, and we should not gaily embark upon a deficit expenditure for land reclamation or any other type of improvement of the assets unless the general economic and financial condition of the State indicates that that is the proper way to tackle the problem. If the situation is as inflationary as the Minister for Finance said it was last year, and as he has indicated it is by certain of his Budgetary proposals, the proper way to meet expenditure for land reclamation this year is not by borrowing but by meeting the cost through taxation. The Minister is very good at imposing future burdens upon the Irish people but he ran away last year from imposing any burden for the land improvements scheme and the farm buildings scheme.

Why is the Deputy repeating that falsehood?

Because it is right.

It is not true.

It is absolutely true and it has been proved here several times.

The thing is wholly untrue. There is not a vestige of truth in it.

If he repeats it often enough he will come to believe it.

Some of the poor lads behind him will.

When Deputy Cogan was speaking, the Minister interrupted him with an interruption of the type we used to be accustomed to hear from him. Deputy Cogan stated that there was marginal lands that were dry and that could be greatly improved by the application of lime, phosphates or other artificial manures and that it would be paid back in the increased value of the crop. The Minister got up and asked him was he mad to ask the State to give any subsidy or assistance to a farmer to pay him to put in artificial manure the cost of which he could get back on his crop.

Plus a substantial profit.

Plus a substantial profit. It is not that I am objecting to the spending of money on land reclamation, but the whole land reclamation scheme is open very much more to objections than Deputy Cogan's proposals, because, as we all know and as the Minister admits, by asking not more than £12 back from a farmer, even though the State pays £100, you are not going to get back interest on the money you put in or any profit and in order to encourage farmers to do it you will have to subsidise them very heavily. The Minister stood on two legs with regard to this.

I hope I did. It would be very queer if I stood on three or on one.

I do not wish to suggest that the Minister stood on four, but the Minister put forward this proposal as a good scheme whereby the productivity of our soil would be increased and which would increase exports so that we can balance our international trade. If that is the problem with which the Minister intended to deal, there is no doubt but that the expenditure of the same amount of money, or even a half or a third of the money, which is to be spent to drain bad land would give a greater increase in output in the next 12 months or two years if it were spent on lime and phosphates. I think everybody who knows anything about land would agree that nine-tenths of the land would give a very much greater output if it got additional lime.

The Fianna Fáil Government had a scheme for lime subsidies and proposals for a greatly increased output of lime dust. The Minister changed that round so as to rely upon a few small concerns throughout the country to produce it and sell it to the farmers without any State subsidy at all. We had the idea of subsidising it so as to encourage farmers to put it on their land. My idea is that the expenditure of a couple of million pounds annually for a couple of years on the erection of plant and the production of lime dust would give a very much greater increase in production from the land than if we spent £10,000,000 for the next two years on drainage.

There was one thing we missed about this Bill. It would have delighted my heart to have heard the gentleman we once knew in this Assembly as Deputy Dillon attacking a Minister for Agriculture who introduced clause 5 in this particular Bill. This clause enables the Minister for Agriculture, his servants or agents, to go wherever the Minister wishes, open any gates, break down any fences, dispose of any spoil——

I cannot help it if the Deputy cannot read.

Well, I will try and read it and the Minister can correct me if I misplace any words.

I spelt them for you the last time.

You can spell them or smell them or anything you like, but this particular section certainly would have smelt badly if Deputy Dillon could have got at it with some other Deputy as Minister for Agriculture. The clearing of watercourses. Clause 5:—

"The Minister where it appears to be necessary——

Read it aright. M-A-Y spells "may".

——for the adequate reclamation of any land under any works being carried out by him, clear or repair a watercourse, and, for this purpose, shall, by his servants and agents, have access to the watercourse and may proceed along its banks with or without machinery in so far as appears to him to be necessary so as to render it capable of carrying waters that should normally pass through it, and may dispose of the spoil in such manner as he thinks fit."

That is smashing gates, wrecking property and carousing about the farm.

The Minister and his servants and agents may have access to the watercourse and proceed along its banks with or without machinery, with or without anybody's leave, with or without giving any notification, with or without compensation for any damage done on that land or any other land on to which he releases water and with or without compensation for any person whose wells are affected by the lowering of the water-table. The Minister for Local Government introduced a very similar clause and finally, after a lot of persuasion, we got him to introduce amendments into his Works Bill which gave the farmer a little bit of notice that the agents of the local authority or the Minister for Local Government were coming along. Surely it would not be too much to ask this Minister, who objected to any agent of the Government opening a farmer's gate without invitation, to send a little note to the farmer when he is going to go in on his land with agents and machinery.

Six hours ago I offered to put that in if you wanted it.

Good. I would like the Minister to add that where he goes in with his servants and agents, in the words of the section, and machinery and tramples down land he will compensate the farmer for the damage that is done and also compensate farmers whose lands are flooded by a too sudden release of water upstream or whose wells are dried up by ill-designed drainage.

If we pass this Bill in the form in which it stands now, there is nothing to prevent the Minister for Agriculture from tackling any drainage of any size. He uses the term "watercourse"; the same term is in the Works Bill; the same term is in all the old Drainage Acts. The Liffey is a watercourse, the Shannon is a watercourse, and under this Bill, from the purely legal point of view, if the Minister wanted to do it he could go in and remove the Electricity Supply Board dam on the Shannon, or blow it up, because it is an obstruction to the normal flow of water.

Is the Deputy talking as a K.C. now?

That is a lawyer interrupting.

If the Deputy is tossing in his sleep for fear I am going to blow up Ardnacrusha——

I am not afraid of the Minister blowing up Ardnacrusha. The Electricity Supply Board is a large organisation well capable of looking after itself. If it goes down, the State has to back it.

There is not a word about it in the Bill.

No. What I am concerned about is that some small or reasonably sized farm may lose a crop through the action of the Minister's agents, servants and machinery. The farmer may lose the crop not only for one year but for several years, through flooding. I want to guarantee, if I can—under amendments which will be proposed during the Committee Stage —that that man will have a right of action, that he cannot be deprived of his land and crops by the Minister's order, by the action of his servants, and have no right to appeal to a court for some damage. I am also concerned that if the Minister dries wells or drinking places which a farmer has been accustomed to use for a long number of years, the farmer will have some right to compensation.

I would like the Minister to say, when replying, whether he will introduce amendments such as I have suggested to Section 5, to give a farmer some notice that the Minister's agents and machinery are going in on his land —it is a matter of courtesy, if nothing else—and will also give the farmer a right to claim compensation for damage that has been done to him. The Minister for Local Government agreed to embody amendments along the same lines as various amendments we are proposing to this Bill, and I think the Minister for Agriculture might have as much sympathy for the farmers whose lands might be adversely affected by his operations as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Local Government had.

Is fada mé a tóiríocht focal maith Gaeilge ar "land reclamation" agus tá ceann maith faighte agam as an mBille seo—"Míntirú Talún." Tá an méid sin buntáiste agam, ar chuma ar bith, as an mBille. Ní doigh liomsa go bhfuil morán buntáiste le baint as an mBille ag na feirmeoiri i mo cheanntar-so.

Sa bhfreagra a thug an tAire dhom inné ar cheist a chur mé air i dtaobh "field drainage" i gConamara, dúirt sé gur chosain sé £45 an t-acra agus nach raibh le n-íoc faoin scéim ag an iarratasóir ach £4 an t-acra agus nár ghlac leis ach 23 duine. Bhí brabach le fáil as an scéim sin agus thuig na daoine é sin ar an bpointe. Na daoine a raibh an t-airgead acu le n-íoc, d'íoc siad as, agus tá sé le rá acu ó shoin go bhfuaradar luach a gcuid airgid.

I am not going to stand between the Minister and his reply for many minutes but I want to express my disappointment, on behalf of the congested districts, with the Bill. I think the Minister himself will recognise—I am sure he has recognised already— that this is not a Bill which will confer benefits on the poorer areas. As I said in Irish in reply to a question yesterday the Minister informed me that under his field drainage scheme, in the two rural districts of Oughterard and Clifden 23 schemes were put into operation and the number of acres dealt with in those 23 schemes was 69. The average cost per acre was £45— £41 in one district and £49 in the other, averaging £45 for the whole area. The contribution of the applicant was £4 per acre and for the £4 the applicant got £45 worth of work, which was a very good bargain for him. Those who had the money to pay the deposit jumped at the scheme but, as I pointed out, there were only 23 of them. The rest of the people were unable to avail themselves of what they recognised was a very fine scheme for those who could put up the contribution. I put it to the Minister that, if a scheme in which the deposit was £4 per acre was beyond the reach of the people in the poorer districts, surely he will agree that where the deposit is three times as much—£12, I understand, is the amount to be put down per acre under this scheme—it will not affect these people in any way, as none of them will be able to take advantage of it.

There is another point of view I would like to put to the Minister—that this scheme of his may militate against the work of relieving congestion. For instance, if the large parcels of land which are a potential solution for some of the congest problem are going to be treated under this scheme and if, for instance, work such as is mentioned in this Bill is carried out on those large parcels of land, including field drainage and the removal of unnecessary fences or the construction of new fences, and if those lands are involved in a great deal of expenditure, surely the Land Commission will not come in on those lands again and take them over for the relief of congestion?

Might I point out to the Deputy that the Land Commission does not buy bad land for the relief of congestion but buys the best.

The land will be bad land when it is chosen for treatment under this scheme, I hope, but I understand from the Minister that this scheme will apply to all land, that cannot be classified as bad land— land that requires treatment and improvement. It may not essentially be bad land. I would draw the Minister's attention to the fact that we had two schemes which dealt with land, which were really reclamation schemes in the proper sense of the word as I understand it. We had schemes where people, like those in the Aran Islands and in a great many parts of Connemara, actually made soil where there was only rock. The Minister can scarcely convince me that a man in the Aran Islands, even if he could put up the £12 per acre, would come under this scheme. However, whether he can be fitted in or not, I want to tell the Minister that that type of person will not be able to find the £12.

In so far as the Bill will achieve the Minister's purpose of improving the fertility and productivity of the land, everybody welcomes it, but I want to impress upon the Minister—I do not know whether any other voice has been raised in the same way during the debate—that this Bill will not do a pennyworth of good in these areas, and, that being my belief, I want to appeal to him to reimplement the schemes which were in operation and which he must know from the files in his office have done an enormous amount of good. When the Minister gets time, I may possibly put down a question to get the information from him, but I should like to find out, in a few of these selected areas, how many acres were reclaimed which were in a bad state and which were brought into cultivation under the original land reclamation scheme and the subsequent farm improvements scheme which absorbed it. Will the Minister say now whether that farm improvements scheme has been scrapped and is being replaced by this measure?

I have given the answer to that 15 times to-day. Under the farm improvements scheme, people got 50 per cent. Under this, they will get 66? per cent. Fianna Fáil have argued all day that we should go back to the 50 per cent.

Under the farm improvements scheme, the Government gave 50 per cent. but the other 50 per cent. was given in labour. Under this scheme, they have to put down £12 in cash per acre.

Not at all. They get a grant of two-thirds instead of 50 per cent. That is the only difference.

Under which scheme?

This scheme.

Yes, but I want to point out that the class of people for whom I speak are unable to put down a cash deposit.

They need not put down a red halfpenny.

How, then, is his part of the burden financed? Is it proposed, if he cannot put down the money, to increase his land annuity?

No. There are two methods of getting the work done: (1) whereunder the farmer does it himself and gets a grant; and (2) if he does not choose to avail of that proposal, the method whereunder he asks the Department to do it for him.

That meets my point. What grant would he get?

A sum calculated to correspond to two-thirds of the estimated cost of the work. That is the 27th time I have given that piece of information to-day.

I was not in for the early part of the Minister's statement, and, if I have unduly delayed him by my ignorance of the matter, I apologise.

Not at all, Deputy.

On behalf of the people I represent, I welcome this measure, which, I believe, is one of the best ever introduced in the history of this country. I am naturally inclined to ask the Minister—and possibly I may table a question on the matter—why our county was not included in the list.

It is in the next detachment.

I disagree entirely with Deputy Bartley with regard to the congested areas. I also represent a congested area and the people there are so anxious about this scheme that they have asked me to suggest that a certain type of equipment be made available to the farmers in those areas. I was glad to hear the Minister mention here this evening the provision of modern equipment for carrying out this scheme and the people in my area suggest that compressors be provided for them in mountainous districts to enable them to clear the land of small rocks on the surface, these compressors to be hired out or made available through groups of people who would contract with the Department. That is a practical suggestion from the smallholders in these areas who would be enabled to do tremendous work in record time in clearing up large areas of land. That is the outlook of these people in regard to this matter and further in connection with this matter of equipment I make the suggestion that the type of equipment to be operated in these areas would be slightly different from the equipment to be operated on the flat lands of other counties. I take it that can be adjusted as the scheme operates. I congratulate the Minister on bringing forward this measure and on having the foresight and courage to launch this important scheme for the benefit of the farmers.

I am glad to tell Deputy Flynn that provision is made in the scheme for the providing of machinery suitable for whatever district it is to be used in and available to individuals or groups of individuals on the basis that, if they will put up one-third of the cost of the machinery, they will get a grant of one-third and a loan of the remaining one-third of the cost price. That does not exclude the possibility that, where men or a group of men are peculiarly suitable and are short of capital and circumstances make it peculiarly desirable to equip them, the percentage of the loan may even be made larger in order to enable them to take part.

I cannot feel that this Bill or project has been approached by the Fianna Fáil Party with the slightest desire to help anybody. Every kind of captious folly has been trotted out here to-day by Deputy Aiken, Deputy Allen and even Deputy Smith, and not infrequently, when their apparent misunderstandings were cleared up, they wandered off into incoherency, manifesting that their sole desire was to block and obstruct in every possible way they could. I do not know why. I do not think I said one word in introducing this measure calculated to disgruntle anybody. I very specially asked for the help of anybody who thought he could be of assistance. At a very early stage, Deputy Smith appeared to me to express an apprehension in regard to a matter about which I thought there was no need for apprehension and I was glad to say at once that, even if it did not so seem to me, if it so seemed to him and he wanted to submit an amendment calculated to relieve his mind, whether I thought it necessary or not, I would do my very best to put it into the Bill. The answer to that approach is impudence for the past seven hours.

It irritates me, I confess, when Deputy Bartley gets up at 10 o'clock at night and proceeds to deliver a long speech on the ground that the people in Connemara cannot afford to put up £12 to have their land reclaimed, and that we are remiss in having jettisoned the farm improvements scheme in favour of this much inferior proposal. Twenty-six times before Deputy Bartley spoke to-day I had informed the House that the fundamental difference between this proposal and the farm improvements scheme is that under the farm improvements scheme the person who did the drainage got 50 per cent. of the estimated cost and that under this scheme he got 66? per cent.

There was a great hullabaloo made here to-day about the provisions of Section 5, which was poetically described by Deputy Aiken as the smashing of the gates, the levelling of fences, the devastation of crops, the ruin of farmers. Then he proceeded to spell the section out and found it did not mean that at all, but it was quite good enough to say that if he was let get away with it. What is Section 5? —precisely what I asked the House to believe it was when I was opening. It is settled law for many, many years in Embrey v. Owen and in many cases analogous to that which one could quote ad nauseam, that the right to have the stream to flow in its natural state without diminution or alteration is an incident to the property in the land through which it passes. It is amply established in the common law that if any person whose land adjoins a waterway which serves the waterway of his neighbour obstructs that waterway the neighbour has a common law right to appeal to the courts and to get from the courts power to go in and carry out such works as may be necessary to abate the neighbour's attempt to deprive the litigant of his rights.

All of us know perfectly well that while in theory when you are engaged on a large project of this kind it is practical to proceed by the established procedure of the common law, in practice it would take longer to proceed by that method than the Board of Works takes about carrying through arterial drainage. Can I say more? It is just because we are not prepared to accept as the rational tempo of works of this kind that which was provided by our predecessors in the Arterial Drainage Act of 1945 that it has become necessary to deal with this whole drainage code. The contribution made by our predecessors to the solution of this problem was to pass the Arterial Drainage Act of 1945 which envisages the completion of this work in about 2010. We would all be dead and well buried before the work stipulated for under that Act would be carried into effect. If Deputy Aiken's thesis be correct, that we must do no drainage on the land of this country until arterial drainage is completed in accordance with the Schedule he approved, we will not turn a sod until 2010. Well may Deputies laugh for that is the proposal as made by Deputy Aiken.

It is not mine.

I wonder did the House hear Deputy Aiken rambling about the employment of the Marshall funds? Deputy Aiken says the Marshall funds accumulate in the Central Bank and there then devolves upon the Minister for Finance a duty to take them out and invest them. The Minister for Finance, Mr. McGilligan, recognising his duty to invest those funds safely, instead of choosing British Consols, chooses the land of Ireland and says that looking around the world at the present time, if you want to invest savings, about the safest place you could put them is to invest them in the land of Ireland and the people who live on it. He is reprehended by Deputy Aiken that he did not buy 2½ per cent. Consols or some British security which would be negotiable and handy when it was wanted. Perhaps we take what to Deputy Aiken is an unorthodox view in that matter but, contemplating the world around us and the stability of things, we venture to believe that the safest place in the world to-day in which the savings of this nation or any other nation could be invested is the land of Ireland and the people who live on it and that is where we are going to put the money. Are we mistaken? If we are, we are blameworthy. If we are not, Deputy Aiken should give up talking tosh in order to confuse the mind of the people because, if he wants to create the idea that improvident care is being taken of these funds, if he wants to create the idea in the country and abroad that that which we have undertaken to repay is being so used as to make repayment impossible, what he is in fact saying is that any money invested in the land of this country and the people who live on it is money lost. We do not share that view.

You did not spend any of it last year. We did before that.

Now he is going to make the case that he wants to do what we are doing more exhaustively than we ever contemplated doing. Ten minutes ago he was telling me that it was improvident spending of borrowed money and that the investment of the Marshall funds in this purpose was a very questionable operation.

That is what makes me perhaps a little short in temper when I listen to these men. I do not believe that they believe what they are saying but, anything they can say in malice to disturb the public mind, that they say. Anything they can do to frustrate the purpose of a project of this kind, that they do and they do it in the hope of reviving their battered political fortunes —a hopeless crusade but one does not blame them for playing, albeit vainly, for a return to the flesh-pots. But, I wish they would not allow their lust for lost glories to make mischief all the time.

The second horse they rode to-day was that it was a cruel shame that we did not supply everybody with free fertilisers—why should not we? Why is it that Fianna Fáil instinctively long to pauperise their neighbours? Free beef, free this, free that. Is there any public money we can shovel out? Have they lost all sense of dignity or pride? Have they forgotten what our people are like? Our people are not sycophant paupers who can be bought by shovelling public money into their hands. That is what has left Fianna Fáil where it is. You cannot intimidate our people or buy them in the long run, and the effort to do one and the other has relegated the powerful Fianna Fáil Party of yesteryear into eternal oblivion. It cuts no ice to start that hobbyhorse now. Nobody will fall for it any more. There is a perfectly clear principle here involved. Where there exists a situation of water-logging. collapse of fences, invasion by brushwood or other bracken or the like, the ubiquity of rock, or some characteristic of the land—the capital equipment to correct, which is utterly beyond the reach of any small farmer in this country—it is the purpose of this project to make available the means of doing that which the owner of the land has never been able to do since his father bought it from the landlord, and which he never would be able to do if the community as a whole are not prepared to make provision for doing it.

If we are to approach this problem that every acre of land is to be left forever abandoned unless, in terms of pounds, shillings and pence at 5 per cent., the expenditure can be justified on strict economic grounds, more than half this island would be evacuated and left to the Guano birds. If that is to be the test you can make an unanswerable case for evacuating a very considerable part of the island but that is not the test for me. I look rather at this from the other point of view— that our people love their land and want to keep it. I want to see them able to keep it and to live upon it in decent comfort. Two proposals are offered. Where, with the assistance of the local drainage contractor—provided for under Part II of the scheme —you can do the job yourselves, we will give you a grant corresponding to two-thirds of what we estimate the cost will be. The alternative is that by charging £12 per acre we will do the job for you. I am told by people like Deputy O'Rourke that this would constitute an unbearable burden on those improvident enough to avail of it—small farmers. The small farmer at this time has to pay £7 or £8 an acre for conacre and this scheme will provide him with an acre of land for 9/8 a year. A sum of 4/10 every six months will discharge his entire liability if he charges £12 an acre on his land; the annuity stretched over 60 years. Just imagine Deputy O'Rourke coming from North Roscommon, as I come myself, and telling me that where a farmer in that area charges his land which is restored from virtual dereliction to arability with 9/8 a year he is imperilling the fortunes of himself and his family for countless generations to come. That kind of mischievous, vicious misrepresentation is not the error of an ignorant man. Deputy O'Rourke is a well-known principal teacher in the West of Ireland. He must understand perfectly the nature of his own misrepresentation. All his neighbours are paying land annuities. Nobody knows better than he what 4/10 every six months means, every gale day. Nobody knows better than he what conacre costs. Nobody knows better than he the kind of land that is likely to be brought into a scheme of this kind in the area in which he lives. But it is good enough to come in here with that rather revolting, avuncular sincerity to express his apprehension and his concern.

Of course he does not want to discourage anybody or to cause unnecessary alarm but then he would not like to see small farmers dragged to the county home or to see their homesteads snatched from them or their families burdened down with debt as he has seen happen to improvident people in the past. I know every word of that to be a malicious, vicious effort to raise unnecessary apprehension in the minds of people foolish enough to have a misguided respect for that man's opinion. It does not distress him a bit that he is injuring his own neighbours if, thereby, he can do a bit of damage. That kind of malignant irresponsibility I confess revolts me. I am not at all averse to exchanging the ordinary thrust and parry of debate in political life. But where I see men like Deputy Blaney and Deputy O'Rourke cheerfully injuring their own neighbours in order to run some political scare for a purely political end I am revolted that they have the barefaced indecency to disgrace the public life of this country as they do.

Now we come to Deputy Allen. His heart was bleeding all over the House to-night. He did not want to provide cheap fertilisers; he wanted to provide a subsidy for fertilisers "like we used to do." Deputy Allen was distressed when he thought of the grand days when he was supporting the Fianna Fáil Government and the offhand way they used to subsidise fertilisers and he wept to think that those good old days were gone. The poor—I shall leave the adjective standing alone.

You got stuck.

The rules of order prescribe certain limitations. I should like to set the Deputy a good example. In 1945-46—those were the halcyon years—£120,000 was provided to subsidise fertilisers. Do you know, when the Appropriation Accounts came to be examined, how much exactly was spent subsidising fertilisers?—£1,463.

What is the Minister quoting from?

I had the figures before me in the terms which had been prepared. I am now quoting from column 1710 of the Official Reports from my speech winding up the Estimate with the prepared returns of my Department before me when I was speaking.

The figures related to a year in which you could not get manures.

That is as good an alibi as any other. We shall give you 1945-46. You got away with it in any case. We will not make you blush about that. But the next year there was a very dramatic gesture. The barrel bottom was scraped and the best they could do was £77,400. The last penny they could scrape up they were going to use it. They were sorry they could not do as well as the previous year, but needs must when the devil drives. Wait a moment and observe the drama associated with those years of lavish subsidies. They licked their thumb and pulled off £18,395 and, just as they were getting ready to bestow this on the deserving fertiliser manufacturers, someone came trotting in from next door and said: “Whoa, boys, those people got away with £39,512 the year before last; they overcharged the people that much; take it back from them,” which they promptly proceeded to do. So that in the second year all that happened was that they put £59,000 back in their hip pocket and collected £39,512 from the fertiliser manufacturers who had not taken it from the Government, but taken it from the farmers about whom poor Deputy Allen's heart was bleeding all over the place to-day. Having taken it from the farmers, there was no talk of giving it back to them. It was slipped in through the night safe in the Treasury and no one heard anything about it. There was not a rough word spoken about the noble Irish industrialists whom Deputy Allen hears referred to disrespectfully with such pain and distress. This was all kept as dark as night. Next year they said: “We are really going to do it. We are going to beg, borrow and steal and make a bit of a splash. We cannot quite do the £200,000, but we will just squeeze out £198,750.” They spent £19,058 out of £198,000 and the rest went back.

Deputy Allen got up here to-day and revelled for a quarter of an hour over the fact that the liberal, far-sighted, generous, flaitheamhlach gesture of the Administration he supported was being sadly departed from by the niggards now in charge. Why had we not come along and given free fertilisers to everybody? Why not? But, if we were going to give a good substantial subsidy, let no one speak a disrespectful word of the disinterested fertiliser manufacturers in this country. Are they not doing the best they can to serve Cathleen Ni Houlihan faithfully, economically, disinterestedly? Why not give them a decent subsidy, the hardworking men? Deputy Allen was not aware of the £39,000 which somehow lost its way in the counting house of the manufacturers until a bloodhound was sent in to get it. If the bloodhound was not as good a bloodhound as we hope he was, God knows what he left after him that we never heard about.

I shall venture to tell the House an interesting story. I do not believe in providing cheap fertilisers for our people by doling out hundreds of thousands of pounds to the sulphuric acid cartel, the phosphate cartel, the potash cartel, or the nitrogen combine. I had an interesting experience quite recently. We learned from the French Comptoir which controls phosphates that the price of French phosphate rock f.o.b. Algiers was 32/6 per ton, or we thought we learned that. Our informant spent a pleasant couple of days in Dublin enjoying the hospitality of our city and doubtless meeting his friends. Before leaving, he thought it right to take his leave of us. He took the precaution on the occasion of his second visit to mention that he seemed to charge himself, if his memory served him well, with a slip of the tongue; that he should not have said 32/6, but that he should have said 47/6—a significant and interesting change. I subsequently heard from a competent critic the comment in the course of conversation that it was in no way surprising that a Government-controlled or directed enterprise should be asked to pay about 15/- per ton more than Deputy Allen's little darlings, who of course had to have their profit. The distributing agents had to live and 15/- was not an unreasonable margin. I should imagine that 15/- was 9d. a cwt. and if six cwts. were to be employed on every arable acre of land in Ireland that represents 4/6 per acre. No exploiter in the history of this country ever claimed that a vested interest, great or small, could assert a right to levy 4/6 per acre on the land of Ireland and no vested interest ever will. If Deputy Allen thinks that I would ask the Government of this country to provide subsidies from the public purse to ensure that those disinterested patriots never know poverty or distress he has another think coming. This Government will get cheap fertiliser for our people with or without the help of cartels of that kind. Legitimate business is praiseworthy in this community. Anyone who wants to carry on a legitimate business in this country is welcome to do so, but domestic and foreign cartels had better make up their minds once and for all that there is no cartel in this world, foreign or domestic, strong enough successfully to challenge a sovereign democratic Government. Any cartel that has got it into their head, foreign or domestic, that it can levy with impunity on the people of this country in their Government's despite, will never know what hit them because, remember, the most effective weapon against it is the light of day, and it will be let in upon them from a variety of angles if they try those tricks again. Perhaps Deputy Allen understands why I do not propose to ask the Government to open the Treasury to these harmless little creatures; why I would not ask the Government to pay these gentle, patriotic souls for permitting our people to have access to their wares. No, I will not ask this Government to subsidise any cartel anywhere. But we charge ourselves with the responsibility of getting fertilisers for our people at a price they can afford to pay and at a price which will leave them a fair profit after they have used them in accordance with rational husbandry.

Deputy Allen allowed his generous heart to bleed again because we would not subsidise lime. He just loves to subsidise things for the fun of it. Ground limestone is available in this country at 16/- per ton at any pit where it is ground. That is cheaper than it is available in any country in the world. We plan to make it available, spread on the land, anywhere in Ireland at 30/-, far or near. Now, I know that according to Fianna Fáil mentality that hope will be frustrated because the farmer who lives near the lime grinding plant will grudge the fact that he has to pay the same price as the man who lives a great distance away. If you explain that, in order to get the flat price for all, the man living close at hand may have to pay a little more, whereas the man living at a distance pays a little less, I believe our people are not so mean and grasping and grudging that if they feel they are getting good value themselves they will snarl with discontent because their neighbour is able to get the same. I do not believe Deputy Aiken is right in reading the character of our people that because one man is paying £12 for £16 worth the whole character will be distorted because somebody else got £20 worth for £12. How does the fact that somebody else gets £18 worth for £12 affront him if he knows that in both cases the net result is that land which was derelict is arable now, no more nor less than that?

I listened closely to-day to the Fianna Fáil hobby-horse and watched them ride it to the very brink and, realising the logic of their case, gallop off into irrelevance when they saw the chasm open under their feet. Their proposal is that where a man has a good farm, plenty of land, fences, drains and everything in first-class order with the land wanting fertilisers, there is a duty on this Government to go into him and spread on his land for nothing, or for a tithe of cost, fertilisers guaranteed to enable him to get from his land a crop which will not only produce in autumn sufficient to pay for the fertilisers but leave him an ample profit as well. Unless we have all gone mad we will not disgrace our people by making such a proposal. Have we reached the stage where farmers of this country want their Government to come in, plough their land, harrow their land, fertilise their land, sow seed on it and leave them sitting on their sashes till the crop is matured, save the crop and put the proceeds in their pockets? Where are we to stop? Bear in mind if you once make the case that the Government must do for a farmer upon his land that which it is well within his own capacity to do and to earn a profit, you cannot draw the line. If you admit the obligation to fertilise soil which is well able to provide an abundant and profitable crop given the suitable fertilisers, the next problem is that if you have land which has matted grass upon it—scutch and moss—a sod must be broken, and that if a man has not got the means to purchase the right variety of seed that you have to provide him with grass seed, and that we are reaching the stage when we have got to plough the land, and to harrow it, that we have got to fertilise it and to sow it, and then, I suppose, for tidiness sake we will roll it before we go. What has become of the farmers of Ireland into whose care we have committed our land?

If I believed that I would not want to see an acre of land of this country in the keeping of such people; if I believed that of the farmers of this country I would be ashamed to say that I came of their stock; if I believed that the farmers in this country who, by their own exertions, could earn an honest living on their own holdings, preferred to charge themselves upon the public purse I would abandon hope of Ireland. Then Deputy Aiken would be a thousand times right if those facts were true, and it would be madness to invest our savings in the land of this country and in the people who live and get their living on it; but it is because we believe those things are not true, it is because we believe that the farmers on the land of this country, given the opportunity to get a fair return for hard work honestly done and who will do hard work on any land that they can call their own and that is so conditioned as to give them a reasonable return, that we do not hesitate to invest the money for which we stand trustee for the Irish people in them and their land, confident that there is no safer place that we could put it.

I have another word to say. We will import phosphates in any form that we can get them. We will grind phosphates and take any other measures that it may be necessary to take to protect our people from exploitation as they require fertilisers without which our people cannot live.

I want to answer some specific points which Deputies raised. I used to feel with Deputy Giles when Deputy O'Reilly began to moan and groan, but I got rather to like it. He moans and groans in an agreeable way; he is always gracious; he always foresees disaster around the corner, and gloom and catastrophe, and he is as genial and as happy as a sand boy when his hideous anticipations do not materialise. I often think of the pessimists of this world, like Deputy O'Reilly, that their whole life must be one series of glorious surprises.

Mr. Byrne

Which Deputy O'Reilly?

Deputy O'Reilly of Meath. I do not know that Deputy Patrick O'Reilly is a little ray of sunshine, but he is not quite so gloomy as the Deputy from Meath. I am happy to think that from time to time they experience some little surprises to light up the gloom which they gather about themselves. Deputy Collins pointed out, very correctly, that any farmer who does not want to avail himself of the scheme is free not to do so. It is only those who ask us who can conceivably contract any obligation under the plan at all.

I have dealt with most of the dreary rubbish that Deputy Allen contributed to the debate. I have dealt with the apprehensions alleged to exist in regard to Section 5. I have no apprehensions at all and I offer no amendment, but if an amendment is offered in good faith by the Opposition to meet some apprehension of theirs, they are quite entitled to have it carefully and sympathetically considered, and it certainly will. I need hardly assure the House that we would never contemplate entering any man's land to get access to a common drain without notifying and consulting his convenience in every possible way we could.

I have not the faintest doubt that the compulsory powers envisaged by Section 5 will never be used, because the only circumstances in which powers of that kind would fall to be used is where you get a cranky person, and usually once such people are convinced of the uselessness of being cranky they will give up being cranky and get sense. I do not think that I can make the proposal to pay something on account when work is part done any clearer than I have already made it. Our aim is not to embarrass people who are short of money, in so far as it is practicable to meet their requirements, without running the risk of wasting public money or leaving a job half done and in such a way that it will not function at all. I have already told the House that we have received about 2,000 applications in response to the advertisement.

There is such a great hullabaloo made sometimes that I feel inclined to ignore it all. This Parliament and our liberties depend on the deference that I am bound to, and I hope I do, show to the Opposition, and in deference to their constitutional right I reply to their complaint that the farm improvements staff should do the work of this project. I think that proposal was made for the purpose of suggesting that the real distinction between this project and the farm improvement scheme was so trivial that the sensible thing would be to throw away pretence and let the whole thing go on together. Of course, the fact is that the farm improvements scheme—and I have no desire, whatever, to asperse it—bears no relation whatever to this project in magnitude or in scope. It may console the Deputies in opposition to know that we have so far expanded and expedited the farm building scheme that the entire staffs appropriate to both the building and improvement schemes are now fully engaged on farm building alone. The Deputies opposite will find it difficult to accustom themselves to the dispatch with which public business is now attended to. I know the stuffy incompetence and dreary nonchalance that descended on them in their 16 disastrous years, but they will learn, as we go along, that that basis is no longer sufficient and is no longer tolerated.

I agree with the Deputy who found some difficulty in foreseeing how the annuity would work—I think it was Deputy Timoney. I confess it took the burning of some midnight oil on my part to fathom the labyrinthine mysteries of the Land Commission and how they do these things, but they have some elaborate procedure whereby they notionally ascertain the existing land annuity and they notionally ascertain the reclamation annuity; they combine the two together and then the whole is repayable on the basis of £4 per cent. per annum. If the Deputy is much wiser now than he was before, I will be very much surprised, but this is one of these concepts which I grasp, like the Marquis of Salisbury when he was discussing the Ireland Bill, for ten minutes and it then eludes me. If the Deputy is concerned with this matter, I think he need not be in the least ashamed in joining me in momentary confusion, as the Lord President of the Council in Great Britain was obliged to join the Marquis of Salisbury in the confusion which overcame them.

I have no doubt that when Deputy Timoney and I retire in conference on this matter, as I shall hope to do, our passing confusion will be more readily elucidated than the Lord President of the Council or the Marquis of Salisbury can hope to have theirs. I ask the Deputy, who is familiar with the ways of the law, to understand that the procedure of the Land Commission in consolidating and fixing land annuities is not easy to expound extempore, but the net result is that the land annuity is augmented by a sum either rather less or rather more than you would expect it to be.

Is the sum repayable irrespective of the date of the expiration of the land annuity?

I think whatever balance of annuity in respect of the purchase agreement is outstanding, the term over which the reclamation annuity will be repayable is the full 60 years. Whether they take the balance of the purchase annuity and spread that over the same period, I am not quite sure, but in so far as the reclamation annuity is concerned it extends to the full period of 60 years, repayable at the rate of £4 per cent. per annum. It could happen that by the addition of the land annuity and its extension over the whole period you might have a reduction in the customary gale period of the land annuity, but a payment of rather more than the 4 per cent. you would have expected to pay if the two annuities were kept segregated.

Is there a danger that anybody who avails of this new loan will have this annuity extended for another 60 years?

You mean his land annuity? I understood one of the triumphs I have achieved was to be able to report to the House yet again the unfailing readiness of the Minister for Finance of this Government to provide money on advantageous terms for anything that will benefit agriculture and that he had readily made available money and found a way to do it on which repayment would not be required for a term shorter than 60 years, at 3½ per cent. interest. If we shorten the term we raise the annual burden. I would have thought we would all agree that the desire was to get a long term with a low rate of interest and sinking fund. That is what I got. If I have been mistaken and if Deputies think it would be better to have charged £8 per annum for a shorter period, I would be glad to discuss that with them, but I would be hard to convince.

The point I am confused on is that you have people who have purchased land under various Acts. For those who have purchased under the Ashbourne Act the period of redemption is nearly finished and if they get a loan for the purpose of the reclamation scheme for 60 years does it mean that this is a separate annuity that will carry on after the land annuity has been finished?

If they have only four years of their land purchase annuity to go and they propose to repay their land reclamation loan through a period of 60 years, it must be manifest that if they ask to have a charge put upon their land which may be discharged over 60 years, in theory that can and will be done, but suppose two years later a wealthy American aunt dies intestate and they inherit £1,000,000, they can direct the Land Commission to compute for them the redemption value of the annuity, pay it on the nail and the whole horror goes.

I beg Deputies on all sides of the House to believe that there is not a nigger in the wood pile, that there is no awful plot to make land annuities permanent, that there is no hideous scheme in the mind of the Minister to grab from the farmers something they are not entitled to pay. There is nothing at all except what money they borrow for the purpose. They may undertake repayments on whatever terms suit them best. They may accept a grant or they may declare the prerogative of a lady and choose to have it charged on Monday and redeem it on the following Wednesday. I think the versatility of these proposals is unprecedented. The Bill is drafted to meet the wishes of the farmer and not of the Minister for Agriculture, which, I agree with Deputy Lehane, is quite a surprising departure from recent legislation.

I want it made clear for the information of people in the country as to what exactly are the implications of this Bill. I think that there is a certain amount of confusion in my mind and in the minds of the people in the country.

Will the Minister indicate what the legal position is? Is it that the new charge will be charged on the fee simple and can be redeemed in the same manner as the land annuity?

I am obliged to Deputies for attracting my attention to the possibility of misunderstanding, which I very fully appreciate, because most country people are a little allergic in the matter of land annuities. I agree with Deputy Lehane and Deputy McMenamin that it is necessary not only to expound the matter but to expound it in a form that will be clear and that will carry conviction. I think the simplest way we can do it is this. The land annuity is not affected, good or bad. We simply elect to use that machinery for an entirely different purpose and to establish quite a different annuity, the reclamation annuity, the payment of which and the duration of which has no connection with the land annuity at all. Some people have felt a certain qualm of conscience in relation to this scheme.

The House should know quite explicitly that that matter was considered and quite deliberately overridden because it was determined that, as the Department of Agriculture was the authority charged with the work, it was not to be assumed that they would undertake to do under the project the rehabilitation of land which should not have been done; and that, unless the landholder was to get in the work done more than the value of the money charged on the land we would not do the work. Does the Deputy follow me?

I do not follow that at all.

The Department of Agriculture anticipated that it would, in fact, do work to the value of £30 on an acre of land for which it would charge the farmer only £12. The Department of Agriculture would reject any proposal where circumstances only permitted of the doing of work which would not enhance the value of the land at least by £12, if not by more. Therefore, we feel that putting the charge on the land and allowing the charge to go with the land, on which every improvement ultimately will be doubly repaid, is no injustice because, if the land carries the charge with it, it also carries the extra value which we put into it. If we do not do that—and this is something I think the Deputy will readily understand—the whole project would become impossible because we would find ourselves tied up in the investigation of titles in the Land Commission and it would be Tibb's Eve before anything at all could be done. Many of the most deserving cases—small farmers who have not taken out administration for two or three generations—could not be touched unless the occupiers of the lands were prepared to incur expenses far greater than they could readily contemplate.

Now, having exchanged the first round of this debate—the tone of which I think I may legitimately say I did not set—I would very much prefer if we could recover the spirit of co-operation so that all would join with me in making the very best we can of this project. I cannot impose goodwill on the Fianna Fáil Party; but, unlike Deputy O'Reilly, I am an optimist and I still go on hoping for it and am disappointed. I am still prepared to hope. If I can depend upon that goodwill it will be of very material assistance. I can do the job without it if it is withheld albeit the difficulties will be greater. I earnestly urge upon the Fianna Fáil Party that they now have an opportunity of contributing something useful and that, for once, they might take that opportunity. I want to reassure them that if they want to block, if they want to obstruct and if they want to hold this project up, as they have held up the local authorities' scheme and as they have tried to hold up most other things, their constitutional rights will be strictly respected. A minority is perfectly safe in the hands of this Government. They need not, however, hope thereby to exhaust our patience so far as to suffer the loss of their rights. We stand trustees for all their liberties and we will preserve them safely.

Nobody is holding it up now except yourself.

I had hoped that the switch which has recently taken place in the policy of the Fianna Fáil Party would accrue to my benefit. Apparently it has not been as complete as that yet. Nine months ago the sewer-pipe of Fianna Fáil policy was directed exclusively upon me. For the last week I observe my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, is the target. I feel quite lonesome. I wonder could any of my comments be used by the ability of the correspondent of the "kept newspaper" to justify a Parthian shot.

Your vanity is offended when nobody talks about you.

I would be grateful for the delivery if thereby we could speed up our proceedings in this House. Apart from that, I am not distressed. I do not suppose that the Minister for External Affairs is losing any sleep from apprehension. It is always a pleasure to provide material to help along a poor old thing like the "‘kept' newspaper."

That does not seem to be relevant to this Bill.

All I suggest is that they keep on burning their fuel. That I do not mind. But if they would be so good as not to wreak their vengeance by wasting the public time of this House, of which we have so little that, if they continue, we shall be here until August——

What are you doing now? You are wasting time now. Would the Minister get on with the Bill?

I suppose I am. I suppose any suggestion to Fianna Fáil to mend its ways is a waste of time. I will waste no more.

I wonder would the Minister allow me to put one further question to him on this system of repayment of the annuity. I am raising this question because frankly I do not understand the position. I think Deputy Lehane does not understand it either and I feel there are others in the House who labour under the same difficulty. I shall put it by way of a concrete example. Let us take the case of a farmer whose annuity is £10. Let us assume that the balance still outstanding will be redeemed or paid off finally in five years' time. Under this Act that farmer becomes liable for the payment of a reclamation annuity. Let us say that the amount for which he becomes liable is £5 per annum. Now, that £5 will be payable over a period of 60 years, as I understand the Minister. It will be added on to the outstanding part of the land purchase annuity. Are we to take it that for the next five years the farmer will pay a consolidated annuity of £15 and that at the end of that five years the £10 land annuity comes off, because he no longer owes it under the land purchase scheme, and he then continues to pay £5 a year for the remaining 55 years under this project. It that correct?

Yes, that is substantially the case. The all-important point to make is that the land annuity is not affected, altered, or changed in any particular. Any farmer may avail of two separate annuities. He may avail of a land annuity terminating on the date on which he expected it to terminate, unchanged and unaltered in any particular. He will have an entirely different receivable order in respect of the money involved under this scheme, so that he is paying on one receivable order the balance of his land annuity. Perhaps he has only four years to go and at the end of that four years his land annuity is for ever discharged. Is that clear?

That is clear.

There remains the liability for the money which he borrows under the land rehabilitation scheme. Is that clear?

That is clear, but I understood that the land reclamation annuity and the land purchase annuity would be consolidated.

That is what is in the Bill. The Minister has not read it.

Unlike the Deputy, who wants to make mischief, Deputy Timoney and I want to avoid the possibility of any doubt creeping into the people's minds that a charge under this Bill would in some mysterious way extend the period over which their land annuities would become due and payable.

That will be said on every platform in West Cork before the end of the week.

It will, and you can see that the two distinguished occupants of the front bench opposite have already begun to say it. That is not true and they well believe that it is not true, but all the buttons and the bows well calculated to mislead the people about whom they know little else——

Are we starting the debate over again?

I think the Deputy might be answered without reopening the debate.

I want to make a statement in reply to the question of the Deputy and while I was making that statement, clearly and explicitly, an interjection was made by a Deputy in opposition that has no other purpose except to create in the minds of the people the impression that there is some ambiguity. There is no ambiguity whatsoever about the statement that not one farthing or one week will be added to the period for which the land annuity is payable.

That is clear.

May I ask the Minister another question? The Taoiseach, in referring to this Bill some time ago, announced that no increased valuations would be put on land that was reclaimed under the scheme. The Minister has not referred to that matter. I should like if the Minister would reiterate what the Taoiseach said outside the House in that respect.

The question was asked of me at Mullingar and my reply was: "Over my dead body". I have nothing to add to that.

He cannot live a lie.

I think the Minister had better consider sub-section (3) to make it conform with his speech.

Question put and agreed to.

When is it proposed to take the Committee Stage?

Would the House consider it unreasonable if I were to ask for all the remaining stages now?

Yes, utterly unreasonable.

Would the Minister not consider some amendments to the Bill?

If the Deputy wishes to submit amendments, we can take them this day week.

Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 15th June, 1949.