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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 21 Jun 1949

Vol. 116 No. 6

Committee on Finance. - Land Reclamation Bill, 1949—Committee Stage.


I move amendment No. 1:—

In the definition of "prescribed" to substitute "rules" for "regulations".

If the Deputy presses me to explain the difference between a rule and a regulation, I might read out to him a long scribhinn from the Land Commission or from the Department of Finance and I do not think that either he or I would be very much wiser—I certainly would not be. I am, however, in a position to assure the Deputy that the substantial meaning is not altered by the substitution of this word for the other. It is simply to bring it into line with other legislation where this form of "rules" is employed. I think I should say to the Deputy that in fact it arises from a reference in another part of the Bill. It is simply bringing in the word "rules" here in order to make it coincide with amendment No. 19 to Section 6.

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 2:—

To delete the definition of "purchase annuity" and substitute the following definitions:—

"purchase annuity" means an annual payment to the Land Commission under the Land Purchase Acts, other than rent under a temporary agreement;

"temporary agreement" means a letting for temporary convenience, temporary necessity or temporary pasturage or a grazing, conacre or agistment agreement;.

These changes are designed to make it clear that "purchase annuity" does not cover the annuities of people to the Commissioners of Public Works or rent under a temporary agreement.

Do they serve no other purpose?

They serve no other purpose.

Amendment put and agreed to.

Amendment No. 3 is ruled out of order as not being within the scope of the Bill.

Question proposed: That Section 1, as amended, stand part of the Bill.

I should like to know from the Minister if paragraph (b) would cover the liming and manuring of land, apart from drainage or other improvements. Has the Minister power under these definition sections to lime and manure a farm which needs it and does not need to have any other work done?

I do not believe he has and I know it is not desired to acquire that power.

Does the Minister not think that it is absolutely necessary for the useful working of the Bill that he should have that power?

The Deputy will recall that this is a matter which was discussed at some length on the Second Stage and there was revealed a difference of opinion on the matter. It was thought by some Deputies that it was desirable that where a farmer, by the application of lime and phosphate to his soil, could earn for himself an ample profit when the crop fell to be gathered he should get the lime and fertilisers on terms of substantial subsidy although the yield of these fertilisers in the autumn was believed to be not only sufficient to pay for the lime and fertilisers but, in addition, to yield him a substantial profit on the husbandry he used in connection with the land on which the lime and fertilisers had been put. I made the case that if we once accept that doctrine either the whole policy of the Department of Agriculture is a fraud or we should accept the principle that we ought to pay a man to make a profit.

The Department of Agriculture is proclaiming the doctrine that if you apply fertilisers and prudent husbandry to your land to-day you will reap in the autumn the cost of the fertilisers and a profit to boot. That is why farmers are well off. If that is not true, we ought not to advise farmers to put fertilisers on their land and to work it according to the recognised methods of husbandry, because it would be wrong to exhort a farmer to invest his money and his labour in land and get no reward. But if that is true, that he can earn a profit for himself over and above his outlay, I cannot see why this House should ask the taxpayer to pay a man to earn a profit for himself.

It seems to me that the proposal to pay a man to put out fertilisers on his own land is contrary to common-sense, more especially when you recall that he must put out fertilisers on his land every year for ever more. The farmer who does not put out the appropriate fertiliser, whether in the form of dung or artificial fertiliser, every year for ever more is going to allow his land to deteriorate. It is because I believe that the farmers of this country are not going to do that that I recommend this whole project to Parliament. If I believed that the farmers, having had their land rehabilitated for them, were going to devote the rest of their lives to mining out of the improved land all the fertility that is put into it without retrieving anything themselves, this whole project would be a horrible confidence trick on the people. I am sure the farmers whose land is rehabilitated will appropriate a part of their profits every year to put on fertilisers and dung where these are required. But, if we are to accept Deputy Allen's philosophy they are entitled to say to us: "Every year for ever more if my land requires fertilisers, then it is the duty of the State to put them on." I reject that philosophy completely. If I believed it were valid, I would refuse to promote this land rehabilitation project at all.

I do not think the Minister's argument meets—certainly not completely—the point raised by Deputy Allen. During the course of the discussion on the Second Reading emphasis was laid by the Minister on the fact that in borrowing those moneys for the purpose of embarking on a land reclamation scheme such as this we were engaged in an effort to help owners of land to increase the production of that land. In asking the Minister if under this section we are now discussing he has power to assist a farmer whose land did not require drainage, or most of the work that is contemplated as a result of this measure, Deputy Allen, to my mind, was asking the question that occurs to the minds of many Deputies and many people outside. The point is that if you are borrowing money as an individual which you will have to pay back, the sensible thing to do with it is to apply it in a way that is likely to give to the community the best results. If that is not the sensible approach to spending money either by the State or by the individual it is a very peculiar argument indeed. I agree with the point that is made by Deputy Allen and as I pointed out, I think, in the course of the Second Reading debate, I believe there should not be such rigidity in regard to the manner in which the money is to be spent.

That arises more appropriately on the second section.

On whatever section it may arise I have more or less said my say now. I just wanted to emphasise again that the argument that has been advanced by the Minister to the point raised by the Deputy is not a completely convincing one. There is no use in attempting to say that it would pay a farmer or might be advantageous to a farmer to buy the manures and lime of his own accord and so on. After all, on the Minister's own word, these moneys are being borrowed, they will be expended for one purpose and that is to help those who are engaged in agriculture to increase the productivity of the soil. Naturally, we are entitled to ask whether or not we are likely to get, through the means proposed by the Minister here, the best results or whether we might get better results if, in addition to availing of the means suggested by him, we were to avail of the other means referred to by Deputy Allen.

This should be raised on the other section.

Land reclamation includes this activity envisaged by Deputy Allen, I respectfully submit, inasmuch as this project can be carried out in two divisions; where the farmer does the work himself and gets a grant and where a farmer asks the Department to do it under Section 2. It is permissible to examine the full meaning of land reclamation because it applies to that part of the operations to which further reference is not made in this project at all.

It is with regard to the method by which land reclamation is to be carried out that I understood Deputy Allen to ask.

Deputy Allen asked, does this go so far that if the farmer wants no more than an application of suitable fertiliser to his acres, the Minister has, under the definition "land reclamation", the power to meet the farmer's wishes within the terms of this project. My reply is "No", and we do not want that power for the reasons I have outlined. Deputy Smith's supplementary observations evoke this reply. It appears to be the appropriate relief for a farmer whose land lacks nothing but a fertiliser. He may require credit. It may be he is willing and anxious to work his land. His land is very workable but is deficient in fertility and he cannot pay in advance for the fertiliser. He can make his work remunerative, but if given fertilisers in time to save the crop which he has worked the land would produce. Out of the proceeds there of he can then afford to pay for the fertilisers and out of the surplus he can effect whatever family savings he had in mind. But that is outside the purview of this project. Provision is made by the local authorities for a loan to farmers for seeds and manures.

For six months.

Until the harvest comes in.

And it is a voluntary scheme.

If the local authorities do not want to implement it, they need not.

I have no reason to believe at all that local authorities' solicitors would refuse a loan for all legitimate requirements of farmers in their district. Should they fail to meet the local problems, however, the farmer can have recourse to the Agricultural Credit Corporation for a loan. Nor should we forget that up and down the country there are the manure merchants, the vast majority of whom are very anxious to get the custom of any solvent farmer who wants to buy fertilisers and wishes to wait until the autumn when his crop has come to hand to pay for it. Observe where we would be going if we accepted Deputy Allen's proposal to make that service a part of this project. If lime and phosphate were put upon the farmer's land to-day as part of this service, how could we refuse him this day 12 months, how could we refuse him every spring for evermore? His land is deficient in 1949, may it not be deficient in 1951, 1952, 1953 and 1954? May his grandson's grandson not be in a position to say, in 2554, that his land is deficient in fertiliser?

Who will argue that every year, for all those years, the fertilisers necessary for the successful cultivation of that land are to be supplied to the farmer on the basis of a subsidy, in part at least by his neighbours. Unless the work contemplated is of a non-recurrent character designed to set the farmer, now overtaxed by defects in his holding beyond his capacity to correct, on the way with a holding in good heart and good physical condition, needing nothing but hard work and good husbandry to provide a fair living for the family that lives on it evermore, this project is all nonsense.

Drainage is a recurring responsibility as is the application of phosphates and lime.

I would suggest to the Deputy that prudent maintenance should prevent a system of drainage disappearing altogether.

Prudent maintenance can be a formidable responsibility in certain circumstances.

I do not think that any farmer will recoil from the prospect of hard work. What we are concerned to remedy is the necessity of undertaking a preliminary rehabilitation of his holding quite beyond his capacity, mechanically or financially, to contemplate, but, once that is done, and he is sent on his way without any obligation on him but to work his holding and to exercise good husbandry upon it, to maintain his fences and his drains and all other ancillaries of the holding, I think it would be utterly wrong to admit that, due to his own failure to do what any man should do who owns land, he should be entitled to come to his neighbours again and again and say: "though you put my holding in apple-pie order, because I did not want to bother maintaining my drains and because I did not want to keep my fences in repair or purchase fertilisers, I want my neighbours to come and do it for me again." That cannot be, and if that is the mind of farmers in this country every penny spent under this project is thrown away. It is because I am convinced that that is not their mind, and that once put on their way they will want help from nobody in running their own holdings, rearing their families and earning their own living, that I recommend this project to the Dáil, and I have not the slightest doubt that I shall be vindicated.

The argument that the Minister has used in support of giving help to a farmer to drain his land can be used with equal force in assisting the farmer to fertilise his land where it is in a condition to justify such expenditure. The Minister has stated that it is only in a case where, as a result of the neglect of drainage and where the task before the farmer is impossible, that the State is intervening to help him, and that having done that, the State will expect the farmer to maintain these works. The same case could be made where a farmer, for one reason or another, finds that his land has been neglected to the point that the amount of money required to fertilise it and give it the necesary dressing of lime would be so great that he could not be expected to undertake the task. The same argument applies in both cases. In any event, it is not a question only for the farmers. We are told that the money required for the implementation of the works contemplated under this measure will be borrowed by the Government on the strength of the community as a whole. Therefore, the community will be responsible for the repayment of these moneys over a period of years. While it is quite reasonable to think that the Minister and the Government should have regard to the owners whose lands will be directly benefited by the expenditure of this money, they must also have regard to the value that the community will secure from the execution of these works.

The submission that we are making is that the community would reap a richer harvest if these moneys were devoted to a wider purpose than the Minister appears to have in mind or than is contemplated in the section. One, of course, could keep on raising fine points on this for a considerable period. When the Minister makes the case in regard to drainage that the Government and the Department are merely saying to a farmer: "We are going to carry out certain works on your land after which you will be responsible for their maintenance," I want to say that the same argument could be applied in the case of a farm that was so deficient in fertilisers that to supply the deficiency would cost the owner more than he could reasonably be expected to undertake. There the State could say that they would assist him to rehabilitate his land by the application of suitable quantities of fertilisers, but that after that it would expect him to see that the land was kept in good condition. Our point is that these moneys are being borrowed on the strength of the community. The community will have to see that they are repaid. Therefore, the community is interested in seeing that, from the productive point of view, the greatest possible value will be secured as a result of whatever expenditure takes place.

The more the Minister tries to explain this the more we are driven to the conclusion that he is an impracticable optimist. The Minister quite obviously is without the practical knowledge that is necessary to visualise even a few of the problems that will arise under this Bill. Let me give one case. Assume that farmer A has 90 acres of land and that five acres need drainage or that the fences need to be levelled. Let us assume further that the five acres will be drained and manured, and that the other 85 acres will get no service whatever. Can the Minister visualise a case like that? There may be 85 or 90 acres and, if you do not give service to that land, if you do not rehabilitate it by giving lime or manure, it will not be of much help to the farming community. You will do probably the poorest five acres, hoping to put the farmer on the high road to prosperity as a result. I am afraid in these circumstances the Minister is doomed to disappointment.

There are tens of thousands of acres that do not need drainage or fence levelling, but they do need both lime and manure. The Minister has power to do that. We take it that the definitions in Section 1 are, roughly, the definitions that will guide the Department in the other parts of the scheme. You do not need legislation to do the other portion of the scheme—the law as it stands enables you to do that, just as it enables you to carry out the farm improvements scheme. I hope the Minister will not close his mind completely in this respect and perhaps he will tell us that he proposes to subsidise the carriage of limestone from the quarries, where it is mined and ground, to the farmer's field or residence. If the Minister could tell us that, it would be a step in the right direction.

Some portion of this money should be devoted to liming and manuring, leaving drainage or the knocking down of fences aside. Since this scheme was advertised, Deputies met practical, sensible farmers who have pointed out that unless the Minister sets out to make artificial manures, ground limeson' stone or burnt limestone available at a much cheaper rate, no great improvement will be effected.

Deputy Allen seems to forget that the House decided the scope of the Bill on the Second Reading, and we are now on the Committee Stage.

I am trying to answer the Minister, who spoke at considerable length. I am trying to impress on him that the definition section, the enabling section, lacks something that, in the interest of the future smooth working of this scheme, the Minister should consider. He should consider giving himself additional power; whether he ever uses it is another matter. There is no provision in the Bill to enable the Minister to charge freehold land. That is what is lacking in this section.

How could that arise on the definition section?

The definition section is the enabling section.

That matter does not arise on the definition section, but it will arise later on. There is nothing about annuities in the definition section.

There is.

Yes, it describes the purchase annuity.

It describes the purchase annuity and the letting agreement. Freehold land is not mentioned. The Minister probably has power under this section to do what I suggest.

He has power under Section 4, and we had better wait until we reach that section.

There is another thing which the definition section lacks and that is to give power to the Minister to provide water supplies for large areas where there is now no water. It is as important as manuring or rehabilitating the land.

Are we to review all the desirable things that might be done? I would be delighted to, but I should like a ruling. Does the Deputy mean running a water supply to the house?

No, not to the house, but to the land.

Digging a well?

It might be more—piping stream water across the country and supplying farmers in the fields. You could do useful work in that way.

That is not relevant to this section.

Section 1, as amended, agreed to.

I move amendment No. 4:—

To delete sub-section (3) and substitute the following:—

(3) Where the occupier of land accepts the Minister's proposal, the Minister shall notify the Land Commission forthwith in the prescribed form and the Land Commission shall, except in the case of unregistered land subject to a purchase annuity or land held under a temporary agreement with the Land Commission, transmit the notification to the Land Registry or the Registry of Deeds (as the case may require) for registration and no fee or other payment shall be required for registration.

The main purpose of this amendment is to exempt the Land Commission from the unnecessary work of notifying the Registry of Deeds in respect of land that will eventually be registered in the Land Registry.

I do not follow fully what this amendment means. Such notification to the Land Commission could apply only to land that was registered.

This proposed new sub-section will take the place of sub-section (3), which says:

"(3) Where the occupier of land accepts the Minister's proposal, the Minister shall notify the Land Commission forthwith in the prescribed form and the Land Commission shall transmit the notification to the Land Registry or the Registry of Deeds (as the case may be) for registration and no fee or other payment shall be required for registration."

I am informed that this new sub-section spares the Land Commission performing an unnecessary task, and does no more than that.

Will the Minister say whether the farmer proposes to pay his contribution under Section 3 or not, that they can notify the Land Commission? The notification to the Land Commission, I take it, will not arise if the farmer proposes to pay his portion of the cost of the work.

If he carries out the work himself it does not arise.

If he undertakes to pay and does not pay?

That comes afterwards.

We are dealing with Section 2, and I am proposing a new sub-section.

If the farmer is not the registered owner of his holding?

This amendment merely relieves the Land Commission from an unnecessary procedural step—that is all.

I would not always be too much inclined to relieve the Land Commission just because the Land Commission wants to. I am anxious to know if this amendment means that where a farmer who is not the registered owner of his land applies under this legislation and is notified of the estimated cost of the works and where he says to the Department: "I want you to undertake these works", the same procedure will follow as if he were the registered owner?

Could we get this clear? We are now dealing with a proposed amendment which is designed exclusively to regulate the procedure of the Land Commission. Now, if we could dispose of the amendment, we could then turn to the section, as amended, and consider the other problems the Deputy has raised.

There are other amendments, of course.

This amendment is merely designed to relieve the Land Commission from the statutory obligation of taking an unnecessary step in the process of notifying the appropriate registry. No question as to the general principle of the section arises on this amendment at all.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 5:—

In sub-section (4), to delete paragraph (b) and substitute:—

(b) If the contribution is not paid within three months after it has become due and payable, the Minister shall notify the Land Commission of the default.

The purpose of this amendment is to delete paragraph (b) in sub-section (4). It was felt that we ought perhaps to describe more precisely what default of payment meant so that everyone would know with precision how and when such an event would be deemed to have taken place. We substitute, therefore, the following words for the words in the original Bill: "If the contribution is not paid within three months after it has become due and payable, the Minister shall notify the Land Commission of the default."

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 6:—

To add at the end the following new sub-section:—

() The works referred to in sub-section (4) shall not be deemed to have been completed if the occupier within one month from the date upon which the Minister notifies him that the works have been completed appeals to the District Court and proves to the satisfaction of the district justice that the works have not been satisfactorily carried out in accordance with the Minister's proposals under sub-section (2).

My reason for moving this amendment is because, where a person applies to the Department to have some portion of his holding dealt with under this measure, his application is vetted by an officer of the Department; this officer prepares a scheme of works which he regards as necessary; he also prepares an estimate as to the cost of these works. Having done that, the scheme is then submitted to the applicant for his approval, or otherwise. The applicant, having vetted the scheme and the estimated cost and being made aware of the charge to which he will have to consent against his holding, notifies the Department that they are to proceed with the execution of the work. As a result of that authorisation, the Department that they are to proceed with the execution of the work. As a result of that authorisation, the Department can proceed to carry out the proposed works either through their own organisation or through some outside contracting firm. I do not know exactly what means may be available in the course of time to the Department for the execution of this work which is entrusted to them.

There will be no delegation of responsibility.

Even if there is no delegation of responsibility, and even if the works are carried out solely by an organisation established by the Department, with responsibility to the Department, my argument still holds. When the works are completed by that organisation, they will be vetted by an officer of the Department. The works will be carried out by an organisation set up by the Department. The works, when completed, will be vetted by an official of the Department. That official may be the official who was responsible for the preparation of the scheme and the estimate. He will advise the Minister as to the completion of the scheme and the estimate prepared by him.

I do not say that a State Department would deliberately set itself out to do a faulty job of work. No one would expect that from a State Department. In the main, that could not happen. But one can conceive of a case, or even cases, in which faulty work might be done. The work might not be satisfactorily carried out in the manner originally contemplated by the applicant. The decision as to whether the work was or was not satisfactorily carried out will rest with an officer of the Department who, if the work was faulty, might perhaps be subject in some way to penalties of one kind or another. A Department of State would not, of course, be inclined to take the near cuts that an outside contractor might resort to, but I can conceive cases where the work carried out by the Department might not be satisfactorily carried out. I suggest, therefore, that a month would be given to the applicant during which, if he was dissatisfied with the work, he could appeal to some authority. I do not suggest that it should be the authority I mention here. The Minister may prefer to appoint his own authority. This authority should be competent to decide that, if the work is not carried out to the satisfaction of the applicant, he should be relieved of some of the burden that would otherwise be placed upon him. That is the purpose of this amendment. It may not be in the most acceptable form at the moment; but I think some such modification is necessary to protect the individual should circumstances such as I have described arise.

May I ask the Deputy to reflect for a moment upon the situation which his amendment would create? Would it not be to the advantage then of every beneficiary under this project automatically to go to the District Court? He could not lose and he might get something. What fool would pay what he agreed to pay? He would repair to the District Court and say that he had hoped for great benefit but the benefit had not come up to his expectations, that there was a defect in the work generally which was manifesting itself in an inadequate discharge of water, or the improper replacement of a fence, and that equity could be done by a reasonable rebate. From his point of view, the worst he could argue would be that his liability for the payment of his debt would be postponed one month. The best that could happen would be that he would be relieved of a part of the whole of what he had undertaken to pay. It would surely be an improvident farmer who would not take this chance. If every farmer were to take his chance, the land reclamation project would have very little to do except to conduct law suits. Remember he has only to make an appeal to have access to the court. He has to prove nothing.

He has access to the court. If he goes to the court, unless he proves his case to the district justice's satisfaction he gets nothing but all he has lost is a while of the day.

Much more than that. Some expense would be associated with a project of that kind.

I intend to meet that point.

Under the Bill as it stands, if any farmer finds that there have been submitted to him plans with which he has agreed and that the land project authority has failed to carry out these plans, and having so failed, declares the debt to be due and proceeds to charge his land, the farmer rightly retains his full freedom to appeal to the court for an injunction to restrain the Minister for Agriculture or the Land Commission from proceeding to charge his land, on the grounds that the event which would justify the charge being made on the land has not transpired because the agreed programme has not been carried to completion. If the court holds that he can prove that to be the case, the court would forbid the Minister for Agriculture or the Land Commission from charging his land and direct them not to charge the farmer's land unless and until they had carried out the work which they had undertaken to do.

I should be much humiliated if a single farmer on any of the land we handle were constrained to have recourse to such a remedy by our conduct. I would regard it as so grave a reflection upon the Minister responsible for such a situation supervening as to require very serious consideration. Picture what the position is going to be. I do not think that Deputy Smith is getting a full view of how things work when he imagines that an officer of my Department will agree with the farmer what is requisite to do, that the work will be carried out under that officer's direction and the officer will be the final determining authority as to whether the work was properly done.

I said he might. I did not say he would.

I assure the Deputy that it is quite unthinkable that that could happen in any of the proposals we have received and we have already handled a very large number. The regional officer and the local officer may be involved. Sometimes it might be only the local man but on request the regional officer might attend himself. I would expect that 97 per cent. of all cases would reach the point of completion and certification without the intervention of anybody more remote than that. If there was a dispute as to whether the work had been rightly done or not, it would at once become the duty of the provincial officer—one of the four officers of my Department who are in charge of what roughly corresponds to a province—to take cognisance of the case at once, to attend on the farm to satisfy himself that whatever was necessary to be done to satisfy the farmer within the limits of reason, would promptly be done.

If still there remains dissension, it would be his duty to notify the director of projects that here was a case that no three of the men in the field had been able to resolve satisfactorily and that he wanted directions as to what could properly be done to resolve the matter. It would be only in the event of the director of projects himself authorising a charge to be made, the farmer nolens volens, that the situation could arise in which the farmer would be faced with the prospect of a charge being made on his land for work which he believed had not been done. If despite the arbitration of the two officers who first did the work and if the provincial officer, who had come upon the scene to see justice done and who knew that his prime duty was not to be a pinch-beck or to be foolishly grudging but to give satisfaction and if the director of projects himself, having reviewed the whole case and having gone down himself—as he certainly would, apprehending that there must be something in this, if three officers in charge of one case could not satisfy one farmer in a matter of this kind—only in that event could a situation arise in which it would be conceivable that the farmer would have to invoke the protection of the court.

It could arise.

Certainly and the courts are there before whom he can haul me, the director of projects or any other officer of my Department or any member of the Government and ask the courts to restrain me or anybody else from charging his land because, he will aver, we have failed to do the things which we were pledged to do in consideration of the right to charge his land. That issue will be heard by a court of competent jurisdiction and if we fail to satisfy that court that we have not done that which we undertook to do, and done it satisfactorily, the court will forbid us to charge his land with a penny piece or perhaps will tell us that we may charge it with a part but that if we want more, we shall have to go back and re-do the work up to a point which satisfies not only ourselves, but the farmer whose land we want to charge. Now in that situation the Dáil can be satisfied that while every device is sure to be employed to avoid legal costs or litigation there is always reserved to the right of the smallest farmer in Ireland, in the last analysis if everything else has failed to please him, to go to the court and stand there on a footing of perfect equality.

To which court would he apply? Would it be likely to be the District Court?

If we were seeking an injunction I think it would probably have to go to the Circuit Court. We ought to create a situation in which a farmer would have to think once or twice before instituting proceedings to injunct the Minister from charging his land, because if the Minister allowed a situation to arise in which the courts convicted him of having sought to charge a farmer's land beyond what was due he should go out to Milltown over the week-end and consider whether he was a fit person to be Minister. It would be a very grave situation. I suppose it is conceivable that it would happen, but I find it hard to believe because it is a thing that would not happen in a moment because the Minister himself would be fixed with the notice that injunction proceedings were pending against him. He would have to satisfy himself beyond doubt before he joined issue that every conceivable device had been employed to give the individual satisfaction, and he should resist injunction proceedings only on some point of high principle to yield on which would put the whole project in peril. If everybody has access to the District Court as a result of saying "I am not satisfied", it is a queer man who would not take advantage of that. Mind you, with the principle Deputy Smith enunciates I am in entire agreement. While it is good practice to say in all matters in relation to this project that the Minister for Agriculture should be the final authority, the way of saying that must be so framed as to reserve to every individual, however humble, the access to court for an injunction if the Minister acts arbitrarily or improperly.

Is the Minister satisfied that there is that ample provision in sub-section (4) of Section 2? What the sub-section says is:

"The contribution shall become due and payable to the Minister by the occupier for the time being on the date upon which the Minister certifies that the works have been completed."

It does not say that the contribution shall become due on the date the works are completed but the date upon which the Minister certifies that the works have been completed.

But in default of payment there then ensues a series of steps, the last sanction available to the Minister being the charging of the debtor's land. If the Minister wrongly certifies for some peculiar reason I am entirely satisfied that the individual citizen has the right to seek an injunction from the appropriate court to prevent the Minister from proceeding to charge his land and to aver that although the Minister made his certificate the facts manifestly demonstrate that it should not be made on the basis of the statutory procedure designed to impose a charge on the land; he may ask the court to intervene and injunct the Minister from taking the statutory steps to charge the land.

It is quite true that the relationship of creditor and debtor is created, but it does not give the Minister automatically an overriding statutory power to charge the land and I think the Deputy will agree with me that the court would have the right to forbid him from taking the additional statutory steps to charge the land. The court could not stop him from creating the situation of creditor and debtor, but to enforce his claim under that situation created by the certificate he would have to go to court and the moment he goes into the court the court is entitled to examine the circumstances under which the claim is being made.

I can see the Minister's point, but it seems to me that it would make the position much clearer if there were a further condition and if to the sub-section——

"The contribution shall become due and payable to the Minister... on the date upon which the Minister certifies that the works have been completed"——

"The works having been completed" were added.

It might provide a very substantial additional safeguard for the citizen but a world of complications for the Minister. But this I gladly undertake to do because I have the greatest sympathy with the Deputy. If a single case ever arises on which it appears that this section denies to a citizen, great or small, the freest possible access to the courts where we have failed to satisfy and he seeks the arbitration of the courts to lay a grievance between him and us under examination and resolution, I would be the very first Deputy of this House to come in here with whatever legislation is necessary to open wide the doors of the appropriate court to him. I present this section and I oppose the Deputy's amendment only on the representation that there is free and ample access to the appropriate court to the humblest citizen to prevent the Minister from improperly charging that which is not due for work which the Minister alleges has been properly done but which the farmer contends has either not been done or has not been satisfactorily done.

I think the Minister should consider this amendment which I suggest. I admit it may not be everything it should be, but still it has in it something which I think we should strive to insert in this measure. It is all very well to say, as the Minister has stated, that the humblest citizen will have the right to go to the appropriate court, but we must have regard to the cost that will be entailed for that humble citizen. We must have regard as well to the extent of the work which may have to be carried out on the land of that humble citizen. While it may be a very small affair it will be to him an important matter. I reject entirely the argument advanced by the Minister that applicants under this scheme, which contains the provision enabling them to go to the District Court will rush there merely because they have the right to go. According to my understanding of it, the exercise of that right will mean that the applicant will have to go there with evidence. They will not only be expected to make a bald statement that the work as executed does not conform with the estimate presented originally, but to go to court armed with evidence of a technical nature. In arming themselves with such evidence they will have to take the risk of incurring costs and for that reason if for no other they will not be as anxious to avail of the position as the Minister suggests.

After all, it is all very fine for the Minister to say: "If, on the working of this measure, I find such and such to be the case, I would be the first to come forward and do so and so." In spite of that gesture, we are here striving to make it so difficult for that humble citizen to whom the Minister referred that he might say, as humble citizens often have to say because of the expense that would be associated with having their rights vindicated: "The cost of the work was so-and-so, while the risk I am taking in going into the Circuit Court will mean, maybe, a junior counsel." He is able to calculate what that is going to cost him. We are thereby debarring him from a right which he ought to have, seeing that the estimate of the work is carried out by the Minister's agent, seeing that the work is executed by the Minister's own organisation and seeing that the work is certified by the Minister on the recommendation of his own officials. I say, in those cases, and they will not be numerous, the owner of the land, where dissatisfied, should have the right to go before some simple court, in the full knowledge that he will have to arm himself with evidence that would be concrete and substantial and that, if he took a frivolous case to that lower court, it would cost him a sum of money he could not well afford. I would appeal to the Minister to reconsider his attitude on this matter between now and the Report Stage. While this amendment of mine may not be everything that I might desire, if we went into it fully, I think some such amendment should be inserted here.

There are a couple of matters arising out of this, especially in the next section, Section 3, to which I wish to refer.

Amendment No. 6 first.

I will just mention in the next section the things that will arise under this and that would have reference to Deputy Smith's amendment. For instance, if the farmer asks to have his land charged with an annuity, the Minister automatically, when the work is completed, charges that land. I take it that he certifies the work is completed and then the charging is automatic. If the farmer elects to pay the Minister and the farmer defaults, it is "within three months"— there is three months' delay there. I suggest that, even in the first instance, there should be a delay before you notify the Land Registry or the Land Commission to charge. There should be some waiting period, a delay of at least a month. The Minister must keep in mind also that, under this section or the next section, he proposes charging the farmer's land for a period of 60 years. That is a serious consideration.

It all depends on what the farmer wants.

If a farmer wants a charge, the Minister will charge it for 60 years. The farmer would have a complete job done. The job should be complete to the farmer's satisfaction before that charge is put on his land. There is a case that could be made for some provision—I do not care personally whether it is the District Court or not. It may not be the best possible way. I suggest that the Minister may set up an arbitration board, a panel of farmers or people competent to judge whether a job was complete on land or not. That would be the right type of tribunal, a panel of individuals set up by the Minister. He could send down one or two from the panel to the farm, if the farmer expressed dissatisfaction, and the panel could be the final arbitrator. That would satisfy me personally. The less law that will arise under this Bill the better. While there will be always the common law there for the aggrieved citizen and the Minister cannot prevent him from going to court, it is always very expensive to bring the Minister into court.

I want to reassure the Deputy on that score. Can we not get the position clear? The Department —and no officer of the Department— can turn a sod or shift a stone——

Without the farmer's consent.

——without the farmer's invitation. The Department's official goes to the land and discusses with the farmer, not what the Department wants to do but what he, the farmer, wants done. Now, if they cannot agree on a programme of work that will achieve the purpose of rehabilitation, they part, and there are no hard feelings. The officer of the Department is the servant of the farmer, and is paid by the farmer to come and do that job. If they cannot agree on what should be done, the officer of the Department takes his leave and there are no hard feelings.

Fair enough.

It is only in the event of farmer and officer agreeing on what is to be done—and, mind you, there is no short change on the literal performance of the fact that the farmer is furnished with a map of his holding with each task clearly portrayed upon it—and only when it is done that the question arises of any debt being, due by anybody to anybody. All being agreed between them, the farmer with a map of the work in his hand, asks the officer to do the work.

Deputy Allen says: "Why not have a panel of men?" Every officer of the Department of Agriculture is a servant of our people: it is in the service of our people they earn their daily bread. This hierarchy of appeal is available —the man who did the job; the regional officer of the area, roughly corresponding to a diocese or a county; from that, there is an appeal to a provincial officer, the man in charge of a province; from that there is an appeal to the deputy director, the technical man who is dealing directly with the whole thing; from whom one may go to the director; and from him it would come to me, if I were Minister for Agriculture. There are six appeals—five of them from one highly-qualified and experienced man to another, five of them to the political head of the Department. That is all without a penny expense — no lawyer, no proceedings, no court. Could anyone seriously say to me that he apprehends we are putting farmers in jeopardy of hardship, against which statutory provision must be made, if it is present to our minds that when five technical officers and the political head of the Department have all been had recourse to, he then can go to the High Court, if he wants and as the Bill stands at the present time? Come, now, if we are to be reasonable, I put it to Deputies, and I am proceeding on the assumption——

I would not like to have to make that case if I were there and the Minister here.

I do not think the Deputy would ever have been asked to make it, but let us not canvass that. The Deputy has a perfect right to compel me to make it if I want to defend my Bill and no apology is necessary from him for requiring me to do so. It is my business, but I do suggest that, on reflection, Deputies will see that ample provision is made against the possibility of any individual, however humble and simple, being put down without his rights having been most carefully protected.

The Minister must keep in mind that Deputies have many years of practical experience of the working of Government Departments. If he does, he will take a different view, as I am sure he did in the past, on many of these matters. Government Departments always were the same and always will be the same. We know that almost every officer agrees with the other officer in a Department. When the views of John Citizen outside do not coincide with the views of the Department of State under any Government, you can take it that if officer No. 1 holds a different view from that held by John Citizen, officer No. 7 will also take that view. Generally speaking, that has been the experience. The Minister's officers will estimate that a certain job is going to cost a farmer £100 and that amount will be charged on the farmer's land.

He will be a substantial farmer.

We can take £50 or £20, but we will take £100 as the case in point. Farmer X. is going to be charged £100 for having a job done.

That is a man with 200 or 300 acres.

There are such people— a good few of them—in this country. A certain job is done and he is not satisfied with it. What redress has he? His lands are about to be charged automatically with an annuity. The Minister is advised by his officers and he certifies that the job is done. What redress has that farmer if he is dissatisfied, if he contends that the drainage work carried out by the Minister is flooding another portion of his land or that some damage is being done, that the work is not complete or that it has been done in a slipshod manner?

We know, too, that officers of Government Departments often find themselves unable to do a certain job within the original estimate. There is not a Deputy who has not had experience of that. For instance, officers of the Minister for Lands will find themselves short of funds in reconditioning a holding which they have acquired and which they propose to let out to tenants. Similarly, officers of the Office of Public Works, in carrying out a drainage scheme which is to be completed within the estimate, find that they cannot do so, and we know the row kicked up by the accounting officer of any Government Department, if their men down the country, their engineers and so on, have to come back to look for more money.

We know the difficulties these officers have and they will not come back if they can avoid it. They must complete the job within the estimate, as a general rule, and the Minister must keep that in mind. All kinds of problems can arise for an officer of his Department doing a job to a certain specification and within a limited sum of money. If the Minister will at least consider it, the matter can end here and now. I am sure that Deputy Smith will be satisfied if the Minister will give a promise that he will further consider the matter to see whether it is necessary to make provision for any kind of tribunal, arbitration or otherwise.

I have promised to see if it is necessary to bring in any kind of arbitration or tribunal, but I am reluctant to insult Deputy Smith by giving him what he and I both know would be the conventional meaningless undertaking of that kind, when he and I know that, when these are given in a certain form, they really mean that the proceedings are being wound up.

I should like to commit myself, but half a loaf is better than no bread.

I gladly give the Deputy an undertaking that the necessity for a tribunal for resolving a difference between a farmer and a Department as to the perfection with which a work has been carried out will be considered.

We all know the attitude of people down the country to the No. 1, the No. 2, the No. 3, the No. 4 and the No. 5 official. The matter goes from one to the other and finally to the political head of the Department who naturally must be advised by these officials and the man who owns the land, the man on whose land the job has, in his opinion, been faultily done, regards the whole five or six of them as one and the same person. I am not contending that that is always the case, but that is, in the main, the attitude and therefore we have a right to see that, if and when such a case arises, a not too difficult means will be provided of having an independent tribunal to look over all the facts and circumstances.

There is always recourse to Parliamentary Question.

With the Minister deliberately briefed to sidetrack as much as possible the body and substance and the question addressed to him.

Mr. Brennan

The Minister has admitted that there is a possibility of an unsatisfactory job being done. Most of the work covered by this scheme is, so to speak, overground, and, if a farmer is a man with any brains, he will be able to see for himself, say, in the case of a new fence being erected or an old fence being demolished, whether the job is being satisfactorily carried out or not; but drainage is an entirely different matter. I venture to suggest that the number of farmers who understand how a drain should be laid is very limited. If you want to carry out a satisfactory job, there is a little more to the laying of a drain than merely sinking a trench 18 inches wide to a depth of two feet six inches and putting down drainage pipes or making a french drain covered in with field stones. I maintain that it would take a highly technical man to ensure that the levels are carried out properly and where there is a break in the levels to ensure that particularly between two salient points the bottom of the drain is properly constructed. I believe that a lot of drainage that has been carried out on land——

The Deputy is very far away from the amendment.

Mr. Brennan

I was trying to point out the reason why it is absolutely necessary that the Minister should accept the amendment in order to safeguard the farmer. There is the possibility of faulty work being carried out. The Minister will be dealing with thousands of small jobs distributed over the farms of the Twenty-Six Counties and he will be surprised when the work is completed how many unsatisfactory jobs have been carried out because proper regard was not had to the necessity of so constructing the bed of the drain as to prevent silting, etc. For that reason, and particularly in view of the fact that the Minister admits that there is the possibility of unsatisfactory work being carried out, the Minister should not object to the amendment. He should accept it in order to ensure that the farmer concerned will be covered in some way and get redress if an unsatisfactory job is carried out.

I want to assure the Deputy that the only reason I do not accept it is that I am convinced that the Bill as drafted contains ample protection for a farmer who felt the work was not rightly done and that if departmentally or in Parliament he could not get a remedy he would be assured of his right to go to the court and get his remedy at the hands of a judge. If I did not believe that that was there, I would accept Deputy Smith's amendment. It is because I am convinced that that is in the Bill that I am not accepting the amendment.

Mr. Brennan

Would it not be a simpler way of doing it?

No, it would not, really.

Every Minister who ever stood up to defend a provision of this kind adopted the same attitude. How often did we get from these benches here from the Deputy who is now Minister lectures showing how all this could work to deprive the private, humble citizen of his rights, and so on? I do admit that the Minister is doing perhaps what any Minister would do. We are here charged with the responsibility of putting the other point of view, which is widely held, and it is because it is widely held and because there is behind it a very substantial amount of reason and justice that I am urging this amendment.

I assume that Deputy Lemass has long immersed himself in Osler's Aequanimitas or he could not sit so quietly behind Deputy Smith while he said these things.

I am expressing my own point of view on what is proposed here and I am not inviting the Minister to comment upon any views that may or may not be held by a colleague of mine. The views are my own and these views are widely shared and it is because they are widely shared that I am urging the Minister to make a reasonable gesture and to meet that point of view.

I share the view defended by Deputy Smith. I am merely admiring the calm of Deputy Lemass who sits behind him.

I would direct the Minister's attention to the fact that a Deputy on the Government Benches also expressed doubts as to whether the section, as drafted, did not estop an aggrieved person from going to court and that particular Deputy is a man of legal training. So the Minister will see the reason as to why Deputy Smith—and I agree with Deputy Smith—put down this amendment. It was to ensure that an aggrieved person who may say: "The Minister contracted to do certain work; he did not carry out the work, he is billing me for it," should have the case between himself and the Minister adjudicated upon, that the Minister would not be the judge in his own case. I suggest to Deputy Smith that he would withdraw this amendment and bring it up on Report Stage and that in the meantime the Minister would go into it. I would be satisfied if what the Minister has stated is stated by the Attorney-General, for instance, to be the case: that an appeal does lie to the Circuit Court. No one wants a farmer running into court and dragging the Minister into court every day. No one wants the expense of that either on the farmer or on the State, but this would work better and everyone would be better satisfied if the farmer had a clearly stated right to appeal to some court. I would advise the Minister, if he saw his way to do it, not only to have it as some common law right but to put a right into this Bill to do away with Deputy Timoney's doubt as well as Deputy Smith's and mine.

If there is a doubt about it, I shall certainly do as the Deputies suggest.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 7:—

To add at the end the following new sub-section:—

() In no case shall the contribution payable by the occupier to the Minister on foot of works carried out under this section be more than 50 per cent. of the cost of such works.

It may be of assistance to the Deputy and not trouble him to elaborate this if I tell him that it is the purpose that in no case will the occupier's contribution exceed 40 per cent. It may be that the Deputy would wish to argue about putting something specific in the Bill. The intention is that 40 per cent. would be what the occupier would contribute.

I put down the amendment simply because the Minister stated in reply to certain questions of mine on Second Reading that in a certain case, where a job costs £14, the man might have to pay £12. If the Minister assures me that in no case would he pay more than 40 per cent., that is all right.

With an overriding maximum of £12 per acre.

Yes. Is the Minister in a position to tell me what will be the maximum amount spent on any acre? The general scheme seems to be £36 with the farmer paying £12 in the case where the farmer calls upon the Minister to do the job. Is that a maximum?

The general scheme envisages £30 to £36, with the farmer being asked to accept liability for two-fifths of the estimated cost with an overriding maximum of £12 per acre. When the Deputy asks can I forecast a maximum expenditure, I would not like to bind myself in advance. It really drives one back to the question as to the precise definition of arable or potentially arable land.

I think a Minister limited by that definition is clearly prohibited from undertaking the removal of the top of a mountain or the conversion of a rocky mountainside into ploughable land. But one can conceive oneself going on to land, and the removal of one rock in a particular position might bring into very useful user quite a considerable area of land which the presence of that rock seriously interfered with. Its removal might be very hard to relate to all the acreage which one foresaw would benefit by its removal. Still, I could imagine one feeling justified in proceeding with it, although one was restricted to levying no more than £12—and two-fifths of the cost of carrying out that work might be much more than £12, but that would be an exceptional case. The general rule would be that anything that took more than £36 an acre to do would really be an effort to convert into arable land, land that could not reasonably be called potentially arable.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 8:—

To add at the end the following new sub-section:—

() No occupier other than the registered owner shall be entitled to authorise under this section any increase in the charges on the holding occupied by him.

An amendment such as this suggested itself to my mind because I had the feeling that none other than the registered owner of land should have the right to impose a charge upon it. I suppose that idea was largely conveyed to my mind by a practice which I had known to exist, in so far as the Land Commission is concerned, all down the years—say, in the case of a housing loan. If the Land Commission in their wisdom in the past saw fit to insist upon this procedure I thought that it would be right and proper that it should also continue in a measure of this kind. If the owner of a farm were erecting a house and applied to the Land Commission for a loan, the Land Commission would only consider giving that loan to him and allowing it to be consolidated with the original advance on the understanding that he was the registered owner. If that is the case in regard to such a substantial construction on the holding as a dwellinghouse, how much more so is it the case in regard to the improvement of drains and so forth.

There is also the point that if you give that right to other than the registered owner he may not be as careful or as exact in seeing to it that the work carried out will conform, as far as he can see, to the actual specification that was originally provided. He can say to himself that it is not a satisfactory job but that, after all, that land is not his—that he has only an interest in it. He might have an interest in it with five or six other people and, therefore, he would not have the same inducement to watch what was being done and how it was being done. Therefore, I thought that in this measure we should have a provision to the effect that if land was to be charged with any additional amount of money to be paid over a period of years that charge could be registered only at the request or on instruction of the man who was, in fact, the registered owner.

Exactly the same difficulty occurred to my mind. In fact, it seemed so formidable a problem that I was tempted to drop this whole scheme of permitting these charges to be charged—for the very reason set out by Deputy Smith. On reflection, I felt that that degree of conservatism was not essential because, as Deputy Smith probably knows, if you stipulated that no land was to be dealt with except where the occupier was the registered owner or where the registered owner was a living person you would exclude a very large part of the land of this country. As the Deputy knows, the practice is widespread of leaving the father's or the grandfather's or the great-grandfather's name in the Land Registry and of allowing the old registration to carry on. If you are dealing with the building of a house on land or of adding any amenity to the land I think the reservation made by Deputy Smith would be coercive—that you would have to refuse to proceed except at the instance of the legal and beneficial owner of the land. It seemed clear to me, on reflection, that inasmuch as the work to be done on the land is not within the exclusive discretion of the occupier—it can only be done consequent upon agreement between the occupier, whoever he may be, and an officer of the Department of Agriculture—that gives you the assurance that no unnecessary work will be consciously undertaken, no inadequate or useless work will be whimsically done. I think we are bound to presume that no officer of the Department would consent to a scheme of work being done on the land which he did not believe would benefit the land in proportion to the money laid out for it. That being so, when we are satisfied that the expenditure is to be on foot of work which will leave enduring added value to the land itself——

Not more so than a house.

You may want a house or you may not want a house but if you want arable land you must want the land put into the condition which an officer of the Department is prepared to agree to put it—bearing in mind that he is confined under this project to the purposes set out from (a) — (h) in the definition section. He could not consent to a proposal to put in a rose garden; he could not consent to a proposal to lay out a cabbage garden. He can only consent to a proposal which will make arable land that is not arable or convert potentially arable land into arable land. Therefore, if it turns out afterwards that the title is defective and that the land clearly belongs to somebody else, that third party has suffered no injury because, though he may get the land with a charge that had not been upon it, he gets in addition to that the benefits of the work done upon it. When we recall that for every eight shillings charged on the land 20/- worth of work has been put into his land it would be a very queer farmer indeed who would feel that he was unfairly treated because, before that, while his title was in abeyance, somebody put 20/- worth of work into improving his land— charging only 8/- for every 20/- benefit that was given. If one were to take a purely legalistic view, I would be constrained to agree with the Deputy but, were that view taken, I do not think I would exaggerate if I said 40 per cent. of the registered land of Ireland would never be touched—particularly on the small poorer holdings. So long as we are reassured that the ultimate owner is guaranteed against injury by what the putative owner authorises the Land Commission to do, I think we ought to take the view that for the greater good we should suspend the legalistic view and get on with the job of reclaiming the land.

The Minister has conveniently dodged the principle involved in this amendment. The principle is either right or it is wrong. Even if an amendment such as I propose were accepted, the beneficial owner or occupier or the non-registered person could still apply under Part I of the scheme and carry out the work himself, thereby imposing no charge upon the holding. I contend that Part I of the scheme is available to such a person. I agree with the Minister that such persons unfortunately would be fairly numerous. I do not agree that they would represent 40 per cent. I agree, however, that the number is substantial.

This is a matter of principle, however. The Minister, in discussing a previous amendment of mine, as against my argument, said: "Here you have a case where the owner of the land applies under this Bill when it becomes an Act. He discusses with an official of my Department the works that are proposed and finally some sort of agreement is reached as between them. After this has been done, the owner of the land, having had the scheme and the estimate submitted to him, is free to say whether or not he will agree to have this particular work carried out." That is the case the Minister made for the purpose of inducing the House to reject a previous amendment of mine. I say now that in taking the course he has so far taken against my amendment he is rejecting that whole line of argument. What I want to ensure here is that if my brother and myself are the owners of a holding of land, he will not be entitled to register a charge against that holding without my knowledge inasmuch as I am a joint owner with him. If he wants to carry out a scheme of work for the improvement of the land, as suggested by the Minister, he can say that he would prefer to have the work done by the Department's organisation but, as he is not the registered owner, he must provide his own organisation and have the work carried out under Part I of the scheme. In that way no additional charge is imposed against the holding.

I ask the Minister very seriously not to reject this case which I am arguing. Not in all cases, but in most cases, I would regard the erection of a house as a more substantial contribution than the clearing of a drain. In addition to that, the Minister has used the argument that, in making the drain, the occupier of the land would be consulted and there would be an obvious benefit. But, in erecting a house, a plan and specification would have to be submitted to the Department of Local Government and approved of by the appointed officer. The grant would only be paid after inspection by the Department's engineer. It is only after that the Land Commission would give the advance and the advance would only be given on the understanding that the man who made the application was the registered owner. They would only agree in these circumstances if the scheme was a scheme under Part I. If it were a Part II scheme, I would be inclined to take the sort of "near cut" that the Minister's argument would seem to suggest.

This is a scheme of two parts. Part I is the part under which the applicant can carry out the work himself, thereby relieving all concerned of the necessity for a further charge on the holding along the lines I have indicated. So long as Part I is there, I contend there should be a definite provision in this Bill prohibiting anybody from agreeing to the registration of an additional charge against the holding other than the person who is in fact a legal owner in the fullest sense of the term.

If this amendment is carried, you exclude from the benefits of this project over 100,000 holdings.

Not under Part I.

I agree that if they can do the work themselves they can benefit under Part I. If they cannot, 100,000 holdings will be excluded. The Deputy envisaged a case where he and his brother were the owners in common of a holding of land. He says that his brother should not be empowered to charge the land. Why should he be allowed to charge the land for drainage or work of that kind any more than he would be allowed to charge the land for the cost of a house? For the simple reason that land has as its only purpose, if it is arable land, the raising of crops.

A house is vital for that purpose also.

It does not follow that the Deputy's brother and he would have the same view as to the expediency of putting a house on that particular piece of land. It is quite possible that one brother might think that it would be a good thing to have it as an out-farm and the other that it would be a good thing to have it as a residential farm. I can see the Deputy's point that there will be a legitimate conflict of interest and that to allow one party to determine would be to injure the other in his legitimate interest in the land. If two people own arable land in common or jointly, I agree that in legalistic theory the Deputy's case is unanswerable. But, in practice and equity, the principle is to protect the interest of the absent owner from injury by the action of the occupier for the time being. How is that principle violated by limiting the power of the occupier for the time being into charging the interest of the absent owner with 8/-only on condition that a benefit worth 20/- is indissolubly bound up with the land? I think the Deputy must agree with me that if our only solicitude in this House in writing the criminal law was to protect citizens of the State from the danger of their neighbours insisting on their taking pound notes for 8/- we need not waste much public time enacting criminal law. Need we, therefore, forbid the benefits of Part II of the scheme to 100,000 holders lest a few absent owners should find that an occupier had imposed upon them the heavy burden in their absence of accepting 20/- for 8/-? We must remember the work is not done at the whim of the occupier. It is undertaken only when the officers of the Department of Agriculture are themselves satisfied that the work envisaged will accrue to the permanent advantage of the land on which it is done.

I appeal to the Minister to accept Deputy Smith's amendment or something like it. The fact is whether the drainage carried out under this or any other scheme is to be of permanent value depends not only upon its being carried out well but upon the outfall being maintained. I know land that was drained when I was a boy. Hundreds of yards of good drains were put in and the land was good and valuable for a long number of years. The outfall within the last 20 or 25 years was neglected and the land went back to the original state in which it was first drained. There is no objection to that part of this scheme which enables the Minister to give a grant to the occupier to carry out improvements. The occupier will accept that grant in the hope of some immediate benefit to himself. If, however, instead of accepting a grant he allows the Minister to carry out the work and accepts a charge upon that land, whether the land will be enabled permanently to pay that will depend on the action of that occupier in keeping the outfalls free.

I think it would not be advisable to allow an occupier who will not put any of his own effort or money immediately into the improvement of land to mount charges against the land. If he carried out drainage by way of increasing the charges on the land we can depend upon him less to keep the outfalls in proper shape. I think the Minister should go back to his original doubts upon this matter. It is not going to stop 100,000 people or 100,000 holdings from being improved. The scheme of giving the grant is available to a 100 per cent. of the holdings just as the land improvement scheme was. I think that Deputy Smith, in fighting for the right not to have permanent charges accepted for a holding except by the registered owner, is very wise.

I heard this Bill described a few days ago as one of the best Bills that has been introduced in the memory of people living in the country. I think this is a very vital part of it. I am quite sure that if this debate was carried on in front of the farmers in a parish it would not take them two minutes to make up their minds to support the Minister's idea.

The whole principle at the back of the Bill is being lost sight of. The Bill is called "Land Reclamation Bill". The whole object is to improve the land so that it will produce more crops. That is an essential thing in the interests of the community as a whole because the land of Ireland was put there to feed the people of Ireland and we have the responsibility to see that it is made as fertile as possible so that it can feed the greatest number of people. I think that is a principle which should not be lost sight of. We cannot allow technical points like registered owners and disagreements between brothers to prevent the carrying out of work that ought to be done.

Ownership of land in this country is not absolute. The owner and the occupier have a responsibility to the community at large. The community says in this Bill that through certain machinery, which will be mainly of a co-operative kind between the Minister and farmers, we are going to improve the land so that it will produce more crops and more food. For that the land will carry for 60 years a small charge. If we make the land more fertile it is well able to carry that charge no matter who the owner happens to be. I can see another objection. This amendment suggested by Deputy Smith envisages only one type of land being dealt with by the Minister and that is registered land.

It does not envisage anything of the kind.

"No occupier other than the registered owner shall be entitled to authorise under this section any increase in the charges on the holding occupied by him." There are other types of land to be dealt with under this Bill. I would suggest that Deputy Smith, having heard the unanswerable argument that has been put forward, should withdraw that amendment. I am quite sure that in the County Cavan that the Deputy represents there are probably thousands and certainly hundreds of farmers or occupiers of land who are not the registered owners within the technical definition of registered owners. As the Minister has said, the receivable owners may be the fathers or the grandfathers. The present occupiers are not necessarily the registered owners. I am quite sure that if those hundreds of farmers in County Cavan were to be told that, because of this amendment pressed by Deputy Smith and accepted by this House, they were deprived of the benefits under this Bill there would be a considerable amount of trouble. I suggest, therefore, that, since the Minister, in this Bill, is doing something that is going to improve all the land of the country, the technical objections mentioned by Deputy Smith and Deputy Aiken should not be allowed to prevent the work being done properly.

I think the Minister must see the necessity for giving some safeguard to a reputed owner. I am sure the Minister and his agents are not going to go in on any holding where there would be an objection. It would be very unwise to send his machinery in on a holding where objection was raised because this is a voluntary scheme. The position is that, while the occupier may want a certain job done, the reputed owner may object. The Minister should keep that difficulty in mind. I agree that in the case of many holdings the actual registered owners may long since have passed to their reward.

The position of the reputed owner should be considered by the Minister if an objection is lodged. That brings to mind the necessity that the Minister by publication in local papers or otherwise, should give notice that he proposes doing a job of work on a particular holding. That danger is there and it needs further consideration. There may be cases where the actual occupier to-day may not be any relation of the owner of a holding at all. Therefore, if the Minister were to consult only the wishes of an occupier he may be doing an injustice because the occupier may be no relation of the actual owner. There is that possibility. Further consideration should be given to instances of that sort.

May I beg the House to reflect that all this solicitude is being worked up to provide against the danger that someone will come home and discover that for every 8/- he is called upon to pay out he is being presented with a £1 note. Now, I must, and of course I shall, pay respectful attention to any representations made by the Opposition, but here I have had to listen to a debate for half an hour calling for a better and a surer safeguard lest an odd citizen might return and find that a cruel wrong had been inflicted upon him, because under the flagstone of the Dáil, nailed irretrievably to the ground, was a golden sovereign for every 8/- he is asked to disburse over the next 60 years.

Nobody knows better than the Minister the extent to which he has been talking nonsense in advancing the argument which we have heard from him for the second and the third time. I want to make this clear. Under this amendment, I will take upon myself the responsibility of all the risks and dangers of going before any body of small or large farmers to justify it. I am prepared to take the knock if I am unable to justify the principle that underlies it. It is a strange thing that I and my colleagues should have to fight so strenuously for the acceptance of such a principle against a Minister who has so often, so loudly and so lucidly protested his interest and his desire to protect private ownership and so on. Deputy Cowan's argument was that so long as the purpose the Minister has in mind was to increase the productivity of the land, and to do a whole lot of other useful things, that, so long as the objective from the social point of view was desirable, then the Minister and this House could take unto themselves any powers they liked. I know, of course, that there are hundreds of holdings of land—so do other Deputies —that are not being properly worked to-day. Is the argument to be advanced that, because that is so, we should have the right to walk in and do what we like to them?

That is not the law any longer.

I am dealing with the argument advanced by Deputy Cowan that if, in any particular case, we can show that the fertility and productivity of the land can be improved, then we are not to have any regard to the finer points which we have heard so much all down the years from the present Minister. I reject in toto that policy which, not to-day but on a number of occasions, has been advanced in this House by Deputy Cowan. For example, we all know business people who, perhaps, are not making a success of their business. They may not be making as great a success of it as other people might if the premises were handed over to them. Yet, those business people have the right to continue to go on making mistakes against themselves. That right does not apply only to the ownership of land. There is a recognition of the right of an individual to make mistakes even where his own interests are concerned. Therefore, the arguments put forward in support of the attitude taken up by the Minister and Deputy Cowan are not acceptable to me.

The Minister must admit that in a case of this scheme there are two parts. Let us take first the case of the owner and the occupier. The occupier may be an outsider. I could be the owner of a farm of land, but some other person might for the moment be in occupation of it. That occupier might not be any relation of mine. I think that we should not give to such a person the right to impose, in a long-distance sense, a charge of the kind that is visualised here against that holding. If, however, that occupier sees fit to carry out certain works himself, or through any organisation that he may establish, he has the right under Part I of the scheme to do so. Therefore the number of cases cited by the Minister that could be affected by this amendment could be greatly reduced. The Minister mentioned that it is in the case of the smaller holdings that the work would most likely be carried out by the owner or occupier. Therefore, the fears that he has expressed as to the inability to get work done if this amendment were accepted would not arise.

The Minister cannot have it both ways; we either accept this principle or we do not. The principle is a good one. It has been in operation all down the years. It must have been introduced as a result of serious consideration and by people who knew it was a wise principle. We are now departing from it and this argument that you are giving a golden sovereign, placed under the flagstone of the door, for 8/- does not counteract the argument I have advanced here. I am pleading with the Minister to reconsider this matter and, however much he may stand up to become a little bit frivolous along the lines of Deputy Cowan in this matter, I know that at the back of his mind must lurk a very strong notion that this is a good principle and we would not be doing an injustice to anybody but we would be preserving something of value by inserting this amendment. Anyhow, I have no doubt as to my competence to meet any group of farmers and justify my attitude in urging the acceptance of the amendment.

It is extraordinary that we have had such a statement from the ex-Minister for Agriculture. We have the very same obstruction to this Bill as we had to the Local Authorities (Works) Bill. We saw what happened in the case of that Bill. The obstruction ceased as soon as the verdict came from West Cork, showing that the farmers there were not taking so kindly to the tactics of Fianna Fáil. The obstruction ceased immediately. We observe the same obstructive methods here. If there was another by-election the obstruction would probably cease and the Bill would be allowed to go through.

I cannot understand the attitude of Deputy Smith. He says that we all know perfectly well that there are farmers with land that they do not cultivate properly.

I did not say anything of the kind.

You used words to that effect. You said there were hundreds of acres that were not properly worked and that it was the right of the farmers to use their land any way they liked, irrespective of the common good. For the last five or six years you got up on their backs, as it were, and you said: "I will send an inspector here, there and everywhere if you do not work the land." How does the Deputy reconcile that attitude with the attitude he is now adopting?

Deputy Smith takes a strong line on this principle of the farmer's right to do as he pleases with his land. He has gone so far as to describe my action as blackguardly at the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis—my action in restoring that right to them after he so successfully took it away. He nods his head in affirmation. How he reconciles that attitude with his attitude when he was Minister for Agriculture I really do not know.

I agree entirely with Deputy Smith about the sacrosanct quality of the true owner of land to determine his disposition, but I am faced with the practical difficulty that 100,000 holdings are rendered inaccessible to the scheme if I honour that principle in the letter. I appeal to the experience of Deputy Smith when he was Minister. Did he not find that one of the things that completely hamstrung the Agricultural Credit Corporation was the statute under which it operated requiring it to take a mortgage on the borrower's land and that in an amazing number of cases, when it came to prepare the mortgage instrument, it was found that the proprietor had not taken out letters of administration, the land could not be charged with a mortgage effected by him, and that he would not take out administration for the purpose of allowing a mortgage to attach? Fully 40 per cent. of the failures to provide credit by the Agricultural Credit Corporation arose from the fact that the title to the borrower's land is obscure for the want of successful administration.

If there was any question under this part of the project of charging upon land the full value of the benefit to the farmer, then I would take Deputy Smith's view; but even though in all human probability if the owner were at home he would be prepared to pay over 60 years for the benefit which he was about to enjoy from this day forward, there would be a sufficient remnant of doubt to justify the claim that it would not be done. When the proposal is to nail a sovereign to the absent citizen's property in consideration of his property accepting the liability to pay back over 60 years 8/-, I find it hard to believe that Deputy Smith is serious.

I want to deal with the discussion on the Committee Stage of this Bill on the assumption that however difficult it may be for me to understand the proposals that are made, I am bound to argue them. Frankly, I find it hard to feel that a rational argument has been made when we are asked to exclude 100,000 holdings from Part II.

From what source have you got that number?

The Land Commission.

Is that the exact number?

What is the number?

Rather over 100,000. I am asked to exclude them from Part II of the scheme in order to provide against the possibility, in one, two or a dozen cases, of an absolute owner finding that somebody has charged him with a liablity of 8/- over 60 years in order that they may give him a pound here and now.

I would like to put a question to Deputy Smith in order to ascertain from him if he means the true owner when he speaks of the "registered owner". If he does not mean that, then the amendment is futile because, as Deputy Captain Cowan pointed out, "registered owner" has quite a different meaning from that which is commonly attributed to it. If that amendment were accepted as it stands, therefore, many people would be excluded from the benefits of the scheme because they could not describe themselves as the registered owners.

Only in reference to Part II of the scheme.

Even in reference to Part II of the scheme, "registered owner" has a certain limited meaning and does not include all owners. The argument can be pushed further than that. Deputy Smith put a question to the Minister as to the exact number of people and the Minister mentioned a figure of 100,000. Deputy Smith pressed for the exact number and the Minister said it was over 100,000. In more than 50 per cent. of the cases where people are registered as owners they are not the true owners. As the Deputy knows, most holders of land in the Land Registry are registered subject to equities in order to protect other interests in the land. There have been several cases where the persons registered as owners were found, on investigation of title, to be entitled to less than half of the ownership. I have one particular case in mind where, on investigation of title, the court found that the registered owner was entitled to 33-80ths of the full beneficial ownership of the land and that people who did not appear on the folio and whose names were not mentioned anywhere were entitled to 47-80ths. The fact, therefore, that a man is registered as owner does not mean that he is the true owner and Deputy Smith's object would be defeated by the acceptance of this amendment.

That seems to be a very technical sort of point.

It is a very practical point and it is true.

It is not a good thing for a Deputy to show sensitiveness when members seek to misrepresent his attitude at a particular time and upon a particular matter. An effort has been made here to contrast my approach to a certain national problem at a particular time with my attitude on this present measure. I may say that I have no objection at all to entering into an extensive discussion on the entire matter on any occasion.

I will admit that at a time when we were faced with a grave national emergency I was prepared to authorise the officials of my Department to go in upon the land in order to provide food for our people. The provision of food took precedence over the finer points and over the consideration that we are bound to extend to problems such as this in different times and under different circumstances. It is one thing to go in upon the land for a year or two and insist upon a farmer doing a certain thing in a time of grave national emergency. It is another thing to make provision in an Act of Parliament authorising a man who is not the owner of the land to consent to having that land charged, not for one, two or three years, but for a period of 60 or 70 years.

But your amendment does not do that.

It is the idea behind the amendment I am asking the House to accept. That principle has been operated by the Land Commission. The procedure is established and that is the procedure I want followed in regard to this matter. The Minister has said that 100,000 would be affected by this and he admitted that most of these would be the occupiers of small-holdings. Even if that figure is accurate, I contend that the number of those who would proceed under Part I of the scheme would leave a very small balance who might want work undertaken under Part II. When they would find that, because they were not owners of the land, they would have no right to charge the land they would set about doing the work themselves, if necessary. In order to preserve the principle to which I have referred one must pay some price. I say that the price is so small that we must accept this amendment. I urge the Minister to reconsider the matter.

Question put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 47; Níl, 63.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Allen, Denis.
  • Bartley, Gorald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Blaney, Neal T.
  • Breslin, Cormae.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Burke, Patrick.
  • Butler, Bernard.
  • Childers, Erskine H.
  • Colley, Harry.
  • Collins, James J.
  • Crowley, Honor Mary.
  • Davern, Michael J.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • De Valera, Vivion.
  • Gilbride, Eugene.
  • Gorry, Patrick J.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hilliard, Michael.
  • Kilroy, James.
  • Kissane, Eamon.
  • Lahiffe, Robert.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Dan.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Brennan, Thomas.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick J.
  • Lynch, John.
  • McCann, John.
  • O Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Ormonde, John.
  • O'Rourke, Daniel.
  • Rice, Bridget M.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick J.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Mary B.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Walsh, Thomas.


  • Beirne, John.
  • Belton, John.
  • Browne, Noel C.
  • Browne, Patrick.
  • Byrne, Alfred.
  • Byrne, Alfred Patrick.
  • Coburn, James.
  • Collins, Seán.
  • Commons, Bernard.
  • Connolly, Roderick J.
  • Corish, Brendan.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Costello, John A.
  • Cowan, Peader.
  • Crotty, Patrick J.
  • Davin, William.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Maurice E.
  • Donnellan, Michael.
  • Doyle, Peader S.
  • Esmonde, Sir John L.
  • Everett, James.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Finucane, Patrick.
  • Fitzpatrick, Michael.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Giles, Patrick.
  • Hickey, James.
  • Hogan, Patrick.
  • Hughes, Joseph.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Kinane, Patrick.
  • Kyne, Thomas A.
  • Lehane, Con.
  • Lehane, Patrick D.
  • MacBride, Seán.
  • MacEoin, Seán.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • McQuillan, John.
  • Mongan, Joseph W.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, Wm. J.
  • Norton, William.
  • O'Gorman, Patrick J.
  • O'Higgins, Michael J.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas F.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas F. (Jun.)
  • O'Leary, John.
  • O'Sullivan, Martin.
  • Palmer, Patrick W.
  • Pattison, James P.
  • Redmond, Bridget M.
  • Reidy, James.
  • Roddy, Joseph.
  • Rooney, Eamonn.
  • Sheehan, Michael.
  • Sheldon, William A.W.
  • Spring, Daniel.
  • Sweetman, Gerard.
  • Timoney, John J.
  • Tully, John.
Tellers:— Tá: Deputies Kissane and Ó Briain; Níl: Deputies P.S. Doyle and Kyne.
Question proposed: "That Section 2, as amended, stand."
Amendment negatived.

I want to raise one matter on the section. The section provides for charging land and in so far as it applies to registered land I see no difficulty whatsoever because the charge with regard to registered land would be registered on the folio; I see no difficulty with regard to the other land that is held under temporary agreement with the Land Commission or unregistered land subject to a purchase annuity, but I see a certain difficulty with regard to other land. I would ask the Minister to look into the point whether land will be charged in favour of the Land Commission or of the Minister or in whose favour the charge will be registered. I want to know that. The next point is that where moneys are advanced, say by the Agricultural Credit Corporation, it is done by means of a charge by which the owner charges his land and a search in the Registry of Deeds where that charge is effected by the owner will discover the fact that the charge has been registered in the Registry of Deeds.

If this charge is a charge in favour of the Minister or of the Land Commission in the Registry of Deeds and particularly as the work may be done for an owner who is not the real owner, a technical legal difficulty may arise, in a search on the title in the Registry of Deeds. I would like to ask the Minister to have that matter examined between this and the Report Stage, and it may be that something of a change may be prescribed by which the name of the owner of the land may be registered in the Registry of Deeds so that on a search against that name, all the charges and all the acts done by the particular person will appear clearly. That is something that crops up every day. There is no difficulty in discovering mortgages or charges because they are effected by the owners and a search of the name of the owner discloses those transactions. I want to ask the Minister to make sure that whatever machinery is adopted in the Registry of Deeds it will not be simply a charge in favour of the Minister or of the Land Commission because it would be impossible, or very difficult at any rate, to discover against the Minister or the Land Commission in the Registry of Deeds whether particular land that a person was interested in was charged under this Act or not.

The Deputy will recognise, I know, that the matter is one of some technical difficulty where he raises the exact procedure of charging and I am not prepared with the requisite material to answer him categorically. It will, of course, be looked up and on the Report Stage I hope to be in a position to go into the matter fully to inform the Deputy and the House.

That exactly is the spirit in which I raised the matter.

Deputy Smith's amendment would have met it.

Could an owner go more than once for a charge?

Is the problem that suppose an occupier got half the work done this year and had a charge imposed and got the rest done in three years' time, would it be within the Minister's power to make a second charge? I think so.

And could it be done 20 times?

If that conduct were consistent with rational procedure, I do not think the Minister should take up the position vis-á-vis the occupier that he is to command as to how he should get his land rehabilitated. On the other hand, if the conduct of the occupier was such as to suggest that he was an eccentric person and wanted to get what manifestly should be done in one, two or possibly three stages for a whim done in 50 stages, the Minister would, of course, decline. The primary consideration, however, in fixing the procedure would be the wishes of a rational owner. The Minister should have no dealings with an occupier who is manifestly mentally deranged, and I can reassure the Deputy that there is no intention of having discussions or contractual relations with a lunatic in potentia. If that is not the difficulty the Deputy has in mind, I would not be prepared to say that there would not be three charges in a period of ten years but there will not be a million charges in any calendar year.

The Minister knows quite well that I was speaking on behalf of the owner more than anything else. I asked the Minister simply had he the power under this section to charge each year for a great number of years and to put extra charges on the land. Is there not a certain danger in that? The Land Commission should be consulted as to whether the land could bear charges and whether the land in the future might be considered by the Land Commission as security for the amount of charges that might be put on it. There is a danger in the section. I would suggest to the Minister that within a period of ten or 20 years there should not be more than one charge and that the Land Commission should be consulted—I raised this matter on the Second Stage—as to the ability of holdings to carry charges.

I tried steadfastly to assume that the debate was bona fide. Does the House or you, Sir, feel that the primary purpose of Deputy Allen's query is honestly to elicit information or to create in the minds of people down the country the idea that there is inherent in this scheme a danger that charge upon charge will be piled upon them and that if they once become entangled in the mesh of what appears to be a deserving and commendable scheme to rehabilitate the land, they will, in fact, burden themselves and their children and their children's children down with a succession of charges which will, in fact, enslave them for evermore? I am going to go on believing that the queries addressed to me by the Opposition are addressed in good faith and I assure Deputy Allen that while the limit of forbearance and patience will be shown by the officers of my Department to meet the convenience of applicants, should we once become satisfied that the occupier is not disposed providently to go about his business, we would resolve to deal with him no further and to treat him as a person not competent prudently to enter into contractual negotiations with us. Always providing, as Deputy Allen says, that the tenant as occupier is acting with care, albeit he may be a little difficult, we will continue to serve him. There may be a question about the succession of charges, but whatever charge is left it will always be of this character, that for the enjoyment of a pound's worth in toto as from the day of charge the occupier will pay back no more than 8/- over a period of 60 years. In those circumstances, I do not think Deputy Allen need worry unduly.

Section 2, as amended, agreed to.

I move amendment No. 9:—

To delete sub-section (2) and substitute:—

(2) In any case to which this section applies, the occupier's contribution shall be charged by the Land Commission in the prescribed manner upon every interest (including the fee simple) in the land upon which the works are agreed to be carried out and all land held therewith by the same tenure or under the same tenancy, and such charge shall have effect as on and from the date upon which the Minister certifies that the works have been completed, and shall be discharged by means of an annuity (in this Act referred to as a reclamation annuity) payable on the prescribed gale days and calculated at the rate of 4 per cent. per annum.

This amendment effects two changes in the existing sub-section. First, it ensures that every interest, including the fee simple interest, in the lands concerned, will be charged with the annuity. The object is to provide additional security where land is held under a long lease. Second, the reference to land held for consolidation with the holding on which the works are being carried out is being deleted, in view of the fact that a parcel of land being held for consolidation may not ultimately be vested in the occupier of the holding.

Now, precisely the same considerations apply to justify the charging of the fee simple at the instance of the leaseholder, as troubled Deputy Smith when he demurred to the occupier charging land which subsequently transpired to be the property of another. The justification is on the ground that the benefit bestowed is not capable of being severed from the land and therefore accrues ultimately to the owner whether he may be the owner of the reversion of the lease or the absent and unconscious owner of registered land which for the time being is in the occupation of a person to whom it does not belong.

The second proviso—in view of the fact that a parcel of land being held for consolidation may not ultimately be vested in the occupier of the holding— does need explanation. It means that where there are two parcels, and in view of the improvement done on one piece of land, there is a possibility of severance, it is safe and right to charge it, because into whose ever keeping it ultimately comes they will have the benefit. If there are two parcels which might come ultimately into one beneficial ownership, it would not be right that the one to which no benefit accrued on foot of the charge should be liable for the charge, or that a charge should be borne by the ultimate owner on which the part work was done.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No 10:—

In sub-section (4), lines 32 and 33, to delete "as on and from the prescribed date" and substitute "during the prescribed period".

This is consequential on a later amendment. An earlier amendment of the definitions section made reference to "rules" and "regulations." There is a distinction between "rules," which are made by the Land Commission, and "regulations" which are made by the Minister for Finance. The Land Commission will now prescribe by rules the method or methods of consolidation. Those rules have been made in such a way as to give a farmer the choice between having his reclamation annuity consolidated or having it assimilated. I think the point was mentioned by Deputy Timoney and I ultimately determined that the best way to act was to provide the alternative, at the option of the occupier. Now, if he does nothing, his annuity will be payable in respect of his drainage over a period of 60 years. The term of his land annuity will remain unaltered, but he now has the alternative—if he wants, but he must take the initiative—of continuing to pay the full amount of his land annuity after the final date and shortening the term proportionately over which his drainage annuity will be payable. If he is paying £10 and charges his land with £4, and he has only five years' land annuity to run, he charges in 1950 and up to 1955 he will pay £14 a years — £4 drainage and £10 land. In 1956 he will pay £4 and so on for 60 years. That is, if he does nothing but simply makes a charge. That is the ordinary method. However, he can now opt, on his initiative and at his discretion, and say that up to 1955 he will pay £14, that is, discharging the £10 annuity and £4 drainage, but in 1956 he will go on paying £14, but now the whole £14 will be credited to the drainage annuity, so that, instead of paying £4 per annum for 55 years, after his land annuity finishes he will pay what he always paid, £14, maybe for 12 years, and get the thing off his back. The third choice is, if he chooses to adopt neither of those, to ascertain the redemption line of the annuity, put down his cash and wipe out the whole thing.

The Land Commission annuity?

Or the other one. I thought the best thing was so to leave the situation that he could do any one of the three. It is at his own option. If he does nothing, he pays the land annuity and the drainage annuity for the five years, then the land annuity drops dead and he simply goes on paying the drainage annuity until it is extinguished.

There is a fourth choice that was put to me and that I thought was originally in the Minister's mind, that is, the addition of the redemption value of the land purchase annuity to the redemption value of the reclamation annuity, giving you an increased sum representing the sum of the two redemptions; then making that sum payable over the 60 years as from the date of charge.

That would be to extend the term for a reduced land annuity. We do not want to interfere with the Land Commission annuity in any way. My concern is to ensure, in the most categorical way possible, to every farmer, that nothing he does under this Bill when it becomes an Act will in any way whatever condition or extend or in any sense affect his land purchase annuity.

In the case of a man whose land purchase annuity is expiring in five year's time, who opts to continue paying the land annuity, plus the land reclamation annuity, for the purpose of paying off the reclamation debt, how will the sinking fund and interest be calculated?

The whole thing is worked out on a table which the Land Commission will provide on request. It is merely a matter of an accountant's calculation and any annuity payer, by asking the Land Commission to compute his personal liability on these lines or for purposes of redemption, will get a computation by return of post. Many people do ask for it.

By return of post?

Oh, yes.

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 11:—

To delete sub-section (5) and substitute:—

(5) To avoid doubts, it is hereby declared that neither a reclamation annuity nor that portion of a consolidated annuity which represents a reclamation annuity shall be subject to revision under Part III of the Land Act, 1933 (No. 38 of 1933).

This is a drafting amendment to make it clear that the sub-section does not interfere with the existing law as to the revision of purchase annuities.

In other words, that the reclamation annuity will not be halved.

The all important thing is that this Bill does not affect the land purchase annuity of any citizen of the State directly, indirectly, temporarily, permanently or in any other way.

Or at all.

Or at all.

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 12:—

To delete sub-section (7) and to substitute:—

(7) In every case to which this section applies the Land Commission shall, except in the case of unregistered land subject to a purchase annuity or land held under a temporary agreement with the Land Commission, transmit particulars of the charge to the Land Registry or the Registry of Deeds (as the case may require) for registration and no fee or other payment shall be required for registration.

This is the same business of releasing the Land Commission from an unnecessary procedural step.

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 13:—

To add a new sub-section as follows:—

(8) A certificate purporting to be under the common seal of the Land Commission shall be evidence that the land therein described has been duly charged under this section in accordance with the terms of the certificate.

This is a purely procedural matter on which I am bound to say I am not well qualified to speak because it relates entirely to Land Commission procedure, of which I have little or no knowledge. They assure me, however, that it is purely procedural and merely for the internal administrative convenience of the office.

Amendment put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 3, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

Will the Minister explain sub-section (5), line 35:

"Neither a consolidated annuity nor a reclamation annuity shall be subject to revision under the Land Purchase Acts."

That has been deleted.

Amendment No. 11 deletes that.

I suppose Deputy Allen wishes to have the substituted provision explained, and, as Deputy Aiken perspicaciously observed, it is to provide that, if a person charges his land with £4 per annum for 60 years for draining his land, it will not be reduced to £2 the following morning.

Question put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 14:—

To add to the section a new sub-section as follows:—

(6) Where land is subject to a consolidated annuity or a reclamation annuity the Land Commission shall have for the apportionment of the annuity all the powers which they have under the Land Purchase Acts for the apportionment of any moneys charged on or payable out of land, and they may, if they think fit, discharge any portion or portions of land from any further liability for the annuity or any part thereof or any arrears thereof and thereafter the whole of the annuity shall be exclusively charged on the remainder of such land.

This amendment is to provide that, where the Land Commission may hereafter consent to the subdivision of a holding, it shall have power to apportion the reclamation annuity, as it has power now to apportion the land annuity, a fraction to each part of the land, in accordance with their determination of its capacity to carry the fraction.

Could the Minister say, in connection with the power of apportionment of the reclamation annuity, if the Land Commission have power to compel the redemption by the owner or proposed purchaser of the apportioned part of the land reclamation annuity? The position at the moment is that, if the owner of a holding subject to a land purchase annuity wants to sell part of it and the part he wants to sell is small, it is usual for the Land Commission, when giving consent to the proposed sale and of course to the subdivision, to apportion the land purchase annuity between the part retained by the owner and the part sold by him, and, where the part sold is small, it is usual for the Land Commission to impose an obligation to redeem the apportioned part of the annuity on the part sold. I think the Minister is aware of that. I should like to know if the Land Commission will have power to insist upon redemption by the purchaser in respect of the small part of a holding subject to a reclamation annuity.

The Land Commission has at present power, under certain conditions, to stipulate for redemption of the annuity or simply to refuse to allow the subdivision. They sit tight on that. Personally, I should like somebody some day to try out in the courts whether the right which the Land Commission claim to determine the right of a tenant purchaser who has discharged his annuity to subdivide his holding is sustainable in law, because the Land Commission does claim the right in certain circumstances, if the purchase-annuity is discharged, to exercise a discretion in regard to subdivision.

I know that that applies to certain holdings purchased under certain of the Land Purchase Acts, and it was a discovery that astonished me when I first came across it, but I do not think that is quite the point I have been making. The point I have been making is that if the owner of a holding of, say, 60 acres, subject to a land reclamation annuity of £20, enters into a contract for the sale of ten acres—we will assume that one-sixth of the reclamation annuity would be apportioned to the ten acres to be sold—does the Minister contemplate that the Land Commission in that case would ask that the apportioned part of the annuity, one-sixth of the whole annuity, be redeemed by the purchaser of the ten acres?

The Deputy will recognise that it would not be becoming or appropriate for me to forecast Land Commission procedure in the collection of annuities, because the Land Commission is not within the province of my Department, but I am recommending quite deliberately to the House that the reclamation annuity shall partake of all the incidence and liabilities of a land purchase annuity, and the detailed effect of that is a matter which I think I may fairly ask Deputies to take up with the Minister for Lands on the broad general question of the administration of land annuities. I am asking for the general consent of the House to the proposition that we should identify the two as being disposable.

The amendment does provide for the apportionment. That is reasonable but the amendment says that after that apportionment the whole of the annuity shall be exclusively charged on the remainder of such lands. That makes it perfectly clear that there is no apportionment of the reclamation annuity. It seems to me to be perfectly clear in its intention and I think it covers the point raised by Deputy Timoney.

If I may explain it, I think the point is this: that there is apparently a practice in the Land Commission, if you have 52 acres of land and you want to sell a tail of one and a quarter acres of land to round off your holding and the subdivision partakes of that kind, it is not infrequent to discharge the one and a quarter acres from any apportionment and leave the whole annuity resting on the balance, which is deemed to be as good a security as the whole parcel was before the subtraction was made. I think it is to enable them to do the same thing with this kind of annuity.

The Agricultural Credit Corporation do the same.

Apportionment would not arise then at all.

In fact it is just to identify in every contingency the treatment of a reclamation annuity with the land annuity. It is to release an acre or an acre and a half.

Amendment agreed to.
Question proposed: "That the Section, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

Is the Minister satisfied that it is necessary to have sub-section (5)? I think he expressed some views——

He certainly did.

He expressed very strong views at one time that such a sub-section should not be in any such Bill.

"All arrears of reclamation annuities shall be a charge on the Guarantee Fund."

A charge on the Guarantee Fund.

The Guarantee Fund is the rates—the agricultural grant in relief of rates.

In other words, if the annuitant does not pay, the council pays.

You are rambling, Deputy.

I am not rambling a bit.

If the Minister says Deputy Allen is rambling I would be delighted to hear the Minister explain what is the Guarantee Fund under the Land Purchase Acts referred to in sub-section (5) of Section 4.

It filled from a number of sources, the last of which are the rates, to which recourse is had if other sources fail. The probability of these annuities becoming a charge upon the rates is as remote as the probability of my succeeding to the Dalai Lama, the gentlemen who was gathered to the bosom of whatever god he believed in.

Seeing the Minister is so obstreperous I will press him to give us exactly a definition and an explanation of the Guarantee Fund under the Land Purchase Acts. I think the Dáil is entitled to that. I do not see why we should pass a piece of legislation without knowing exactly where we stand.

And be told we are rambling.

The Minister has told Deputy Allen that he is rambling. I think he should prove that he is rambling.

I rejoice at the test imposed upon my patience to show deference to the rights of democratic opposition. I am paid £1,525 to endure this and I do not have to take it if I do not want to. So long as I want to take it, I have to endure this. Deputy Aiken has been a Minister for Lands and a Minister for Finance in a previous Administration. He knows the history of the Guarantee Fund and the diverse sources from which it was replenished. He knows perfectly well that, as I have not been a Minister for Lands, I am not now in a position to recite the history of this fund in any detail and that it is not a matter of significance because the likelihood of any charge being made against it consequent on sub-section (5) is so remote as not to be worthy of protracted discussion. He is quite entitled to require me, as the servant of this House, to produce certain information. I apologise I have not it by me at the moment. I will get it. It seems to me it would have been a saving of time if Deputy Aiken had asked Deputy Allen to come into the Lobby and, out of his own recollections as Minister for Finance and Minister for Lands, given him the information. He has a right to command it as a member of the front Opposition Bench, and he will get it as soon as I can bring it, but it will not be available until the Report Stage and, if it is then asked for, I shall be very glad to give the Deputy the information he requires. In the meantime, Deputy Allen can rest assured that the likelihood of any annuity under this Bill becoming a substantial charge on the Guarantee Fund is so remote as to make apprehension on that score unnecessary.

I thank the Minister for his lecture, but I must insist on my democratic rights as a member of the Opposition to ask the Minister for information, particularly if I know that the information which he must give will completely disprove his assertion that Deputy Allen was "bats" when he said the Guarantee Fund was filled principally out of the agricultural grants in the relief of rates. That is all. Deputy Allen asked that question. I did not know he was going to put it. All I want to say is that I think Deputy Allen was largely correct, that the effective pool out of which the Guarantee Fund was filled in the absence of the collection of the annuities by the Land Commission or, hereafter, if they fail to collect the reclamation annuity, is the agricultural grant in the relief of rates.

That is the fact and Deputy Allen was right in having a little poke at the Minister that when the 1933 Land Act was going through this House the Minister who was then Deputy Dillon denounced right, left and centre the idea that if the Land Commission did not do the work, the Minister for Finance should get this money from the ratepayers. I believe that as in the matter of the land annuities the State is giving the farmer a very big present in half the land annuities, the State is entitled to get it back out of the agricultural grant if they fail to collect. That does not relieve the Land Commission from the responsibility of doing everything in its power to collect in the first instance.

The Deputy is mistaken in his memory. Since he desires to recall the history of this matter I will refresh his memory. My demurring to resort to the rates to replenish this fund arose out of the activities of his disrepuable friends, when they were rambling around this country under the pseudonym of John Brown, robbing their neighbours, and when they sought to consolidate their position for the depredation they were doing on honourable farmers in this country by having recourse to the rates in order doubly to injure them, I stigmatised that conduct as disreputable, disgusting, and thoroughly typical of the rotten Party that was responsible for it. That is the reason I demurred to replenishing the Guarantee Fund from the rates.

I take it that if the Minister speaks in that strain we can reply to it.

If the Minister introduces those things Deputies are entitled to reply and discuss several years' history.

Yes, and if that is a matter appropriate to our discussion to-night——

It is not appropriate.

Well, it was introduced. It would be an error on the part of Deputy Aiken or Deputy Allen to imagine that there is any desire on this side of the House to disclaim the demur that was then made or to minimise the emphasis of the language then employed to tell of John Brown, of his rotten thieving cattle activities and of the disgrace and shame that every decent Irishman then felt that an Irish Government could have been guilty of the conduct that was then the responsibility of the collection which the Irish people in a moment of folly had brought down upon themselves.

The Minister desires to get this Bill——

I do not give a fiddle-de-dee. I am prepared to sit here.

The Minister, in his little recitation of past history, was completely wrong. Instead of trying to stop John Brown from collecting land annuities, the reason he demurred at the land annuities being taken out of the agricultural grant was that he wanted this country still to be tied to John Bull—to have here an Oath of Allegiance and a Governor-General in the Park. That was exactly the reason. The Minister may be a red-roaring two-gun Republican at the present time but that was his attitude then. That was the reason why he objected to the Guarantee Fund. Now that he is a royal Republican he has no objection to collecting from the farmers, by means of rates, the land reclamation annuity which some occupier may have imposed as a charge on the land without any justification. The Minister said this afternoon that Section 2 of this Bill was going to put on the farmer's door-step a £ for every 8/-. But some owner, when he wakes up, may find one of Wood's halfpence —not a Wood's halfpenny. That is of some value because of scarcity, but a Dillon halfpenny—on the door-step because of what was expended on the land. Seeing that there is only a Dillon halfpenny on the door-step the farmer may very naturally object to paying back that 8/-. The Land Commission will then have a certain difficulty but the Minister for Agriculture is ensuring that under this particular sub-section eight good shillings will be taken from the ratepayers of the county in order to pay for the Dillon halfpenny.

Is this sabotage?

Is John Brown not dead?

The Minister for Agriculture resurrected him.

I agree that we would be much better off——

On the section.

Hear, hear.

We ought to close that chapter of history.

The only point I should like to make is that in 1933 this Guarantee Fund was established—I understand that from Deputy Aiken. I take it that, at the time, Deputy Aiken agreed that it was the right thing to do.

It has been there since 1923 or before it—long before it.

We took it over from the British.

It was there under Gladstone.

There was a Guarantee Fund all the time. But, apart from that, this is 1949, and I do not see why we should be changing front just for the purpose of having a knock at one another. I do not know that there is any other machinery readily available to deal with this matter and this particular Guarantee Fund. As the Minister says, the repayments are so small that the amount involved by defaults will be negligible.

It is not going to affect these grants or the rates in any substantial way. I would think that the proper approach to this would be to suggest a better method than that laid down in sub-section (5) of this section. We have been making very good progress in the last hour and I would be long sorry if we were not to continue that progress now and finish this stage of the Bill to-night.

I just asked the Minister a simple question as to whether it was necessary to have this sub-section (5) in the Bill. He just got his dirty little rag out. It vexed him. That caused all the trouble.

He wants to begin again.

We had a lecture from the Minister just because he thought of his past.

Let us leave that chapter alone and get back to the section.

He told us that it was unlikely that this section would ever be brought into operation or that the farmers would have to pay it out of their rates—that he would become the chief priest of some far-away country, Tibet. It is not likely that the Minister will ever become the chief priest of Tibet but it is within the bounds of possibility that the farmers will have to pay something into the Guarantee Fund. However, that is neither here nor there. The Minister, in the wisdom of his judgment, thought well of putting it into the section. It was in previous Land Acts down through the years—I think it was in every Land Act—and farmers and county councils all over the country have always objected right down through the years to it. They had to pay in the past: we hope they will not have to pay in the future. However, there is a definite objection by the farmers all over the country and by the ratepayers in general to that principle in any Land Act or other Act of this Oireachtas. I have objected in that respect in this House before—even when a Land Bill was introduced by the Party which is now on this side of the House. I am objecting to its inclusion in this section again on the present occasion.

I want to say a few words on this section generally. This section definitely links up reclamation annuities with the land annuities. The question arises as to the position of the annuitant in the case of land being acquired by the Land Commission for the usual statutory purposes. Will the owner be called upon to redeem this annuity in addition to the ordinary land annuity out of the purchase money provided by the Land Commission?

If the right is in the Land Commission to assert that demand in respect of the land annuity it will similarly be in the Land Commission to assert it in connection with the Reclamation Bill.

The Minister will realise that it will very much lower the value of the holding to the owner if, in addition to having to redeem the land purchase annuity out of the purchase price he has also to redeem the reclamation annuity. He will practically have nothing to get unless the law is changed.

That is on the assumption that all the work done does not make the land worth more money. It would be a poor thing if we were to embark upon the expenditure of £250,000 sterling on the land of Ireland on the assumption that, after our expenditure, the land would be worth no more than when we put our hand to it. In microcosm then, a farm in which work has been done must presumbly be worth more to the farmer than if it had not been done, and when the price of resumption or compulsory purchase, or whatever the procedure is described as whereby the Land Commission take back land, is fixed, presumably they will determine the value of the holding by the quality of the land. If they do so, this must enhance the value of the land.

The Minister is aware that the Land Commission when compulsorily acquiring land do not base their price upon the value of the land.

The Deputy has been told by one of my colleagues that a Bill is being prepared to require the Land Commission to pay the value of land.

Question put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 16:—

To add at the end the following new sub-section:—

() Before commencing to clear a watercourse under this section the Minister shall give 14 days' notice to the Commissioners of Public Works of his intention to do so and if, before the expiry of the 14 days, the Commissioners notify him that in their opinion the river or stream into which the watercourse drains is not capable of carrying extra water the Minister shall not proceed to clear the watercourse until the Commissioners of Public Works certify that the river has been made capable of carrying the extra water.

Is the Minister accepting this amendment?

This is the one which requires prior consultation with the Board of Works?

I am not accepting it.

I ask the Minister to think over the matter between this and the Report Stage. On the Local Authorities (Works) Bill we had a number of discussions on this whole matter of drainage, not only from the point of view of the benefits that may accure, but also from the point of view of the damages which might accrue. One of my colleagues quoted a letter which the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance who is in charge of the Board of Works sent to some people down in Sligo stating that the Board of Works could not carry out the drainage scheme proposed because the river basin into which the stream proposed to be drained was to flow was not in a fit condition to take that extra water. They refused steadfastly to have anything to do with draining extra water into that river basin until it was repaired. Drainage has been carried out by the Board of Works over a number of years. Some of us think that they are very slow and unduly conservative. One of the reasons, however, for the care with which they prepare drainage schemes is that they made mistakes in the past for which the people as taxpayers and sometimes as landowners and occupiers have had to pay through the nose. I do not want to worry the House by recounting an experience within my own knowledge where they made an extremely big mistake and caused a lot of damage by an ill-considered drainage scheme.

Is this the upper Glyde and Dee?

Who made the mistake?

The Board of Works.

With whom you want me to consult.

I am not saying that the Board of Works know everything about drainage, but they know that they have made mistakes in the past and at least they will not make similar mistakes again. I want to ensure that we will not have to educate the Department of Agriculture or the Department of Local Government in the same expensive way. Having paid through the nose for the education of the Board of Works in the higher principles of hydro-engineering, I prefer that we should not have to go through the same experience with the Department of Agriculture. It is for that reason that I ask the Minister to accept the proposition that whenever he proposes to drain a watercourse he should give the Board of Works 14 days' notice, within which they must reply to the Minister or otherwise he can go ahead. Give them 14 days' notice within which they can say to the Minister: "We know that river, we know the river basin into which you propose to drain it, and we know that if you put extra water into it you will cause floods". That will not hold up anybody. It will not hold up ordinary land drainage within a farm. It is only where the Minister proposes to go upon a watercourse serving several farms or many town-lands that he would notify the Board of Works of his intentions. If they say that that particular river basin, to their knowledge, will not carry the extra water without overflowing its banks, then the Department of Agriculture should listen to them.

May I interrupt the Deputy to say that I gladly concede that the amendment has been proposed in moderate and reasonable terms. I would, however, very much prefer not to accept it as a statutory duty, but the Deputy may rest assured that constant consultation will be maintained with the Board of Works to obviate the danger he has in mind. There is no danger whatever of our proceeding without due consideration of the board's opinion, or proceeding in any way calculated to flood the district or do anything of that kind, but to accept it as a statutory obligation is something I would much prefer not to have to do.

I propose to withdraw the amendment and put it down again for the Report Stage in order to enable the Minister in the meantime to think over this particular problem. Perhaps he will see his way to introduce an amendment which will provide against the danger I have spoken about. Civil servants are admirable people in many ways. One thing, however, that people who have experience of administration in this or any other country know about civil servants as a type of individual is that each Department tends to run in its own groove and forgets not only other Departments but many other things as well. The civil servants in the Department of Agriculture are not drainage experts and cannot be expected to be until they either make their own mistakes or learn from somebody else who has made mistakes before. I want to put upon them the statutory responsibility of communicating with the Office of Public Works in regard to the drainage of a watercourse.

A watercourse may be anything. It may be, indeed, a rather small stream. It may be a medium stream with a flow of some tens of thousands of gallons an hour. It may go up to a very much larger river. If that water is suddenly released from a number of comparatively small watercourses it may do damage downstream. I will give one instance. About two years ago we had the case of Kilkenny City. Two streets were under about two feet of water for about two days and there was the devil to pay about it. If a number of watercourses which might take three or four months to seep through into the basin of the Nore, are discharged suddenly from the Nore and reach Kilkenny City within a few days, we might have very much greater floods. There is no reason why that should happen if this job is approached with reasonable care. The draining of watercourses into main basins should be preceded by consultation with the Board of Works. In this particular amendment I do not give the Board of Works the power to delay. They must reply to the Minister for Agriculture within 14 days and say that it is going to do damage or the Minister can go ahead. I would be prepared, indeed, to shorten that time to seven days if the Minister thought fit.

Is amendment No. 16 withdrawn?

Yes, I hope the Minister will consider it later.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 17:—

To add at the end the following new sub-sections:—

() Before entering on land under this section any person executing works pursuant to this Act or an Order made thereunder, shall either obtain the consent (in the case of occupied land) of the occupier, or (in the case of unoccupied land) of the owner or shall give not less than 14 days' notice in writing of the intention to make such entry.

() The notice referred to in the preceding sub-section may be given to a person in any of the following ways:—

(a) by delivering it to such person,

(b) by leaving it at the address where such person ordinarily resides,

(c) by sending it by post in a prepaid registered letter addressed to such person at the address where he ordinarily resides, or

(d) by posting it at or near the land concerned.

May I ask the Deputy if he would consent to an amendment of it by the deletion of the words:—

"any person executing works pursuant to this Act or an Order made thereunder"—

and substitute therefore the words "the Minister"?

Subject to that amendment of the Deputy's amendment I would be prepared to accept that.

Amendment, as altered, agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 5, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

I should like some information on that. What has the Minister in mind about watercourses? Is he going to tackle jobs in certain drainage areas?

The intention is to subdivide this drainage problem into arterial drainage which is the responsibility of the arterial drainage division of the Board of Works; minor tributary rivers, which for the time being do not constitute part of a catchment area operation that is in the process of completion as we have at the moment in the Brosna catchment area, are all left to the arterial drainage division of the Board of Works. In places where arterial drainage is not proceeding these tributary rivers would be provided for under the Local Authorities (Works) Bill. Anything then which does not fall within that category but which is in the nature of a common drain is encompassed by this rehabilitation project. Now, if Deputies were to press for a precise definition as to where the responsibility began and where it ended there is no precise definition.

There is not.

No. It is perfectly manifest that unless it was the purpose to keep the three groups substantially in groups we would not have three methods of dealing with them. However, for the purpose of the arterial drainage scheme that is the desire. Most of us, I think, know the difference between what may be appropriately called a common drain and a minor river. Most of us know in practice what will happen in certain districts. I cannot define it any more closely. That is the purpose we have in mind.

I am deeply interested in this matter on which the Minister has just spoken. During the Second Reading of the Bill I raised a point that had reference to it. My own opinion is that there is confusion here as to what a common watercourse means. I think that that confusion will continue. The Drainage Act of 1945 established a drainage authority and superimposed on that is a Works Bill which purports to give to local bodies certain powers. Superimposed on that again is the Bill which we are now discussing. Therefore, if a considerable amount of works are undertaken under this measure we are bound to have quite a lot of confusion and not only confusion but worse than that.

I do not suppose there is any use in our going into this thing much further, but I should like to be as clear as possible as to what would result from, say, an application made by a member of this House to have certain works carried out on his land which could only be effectively undertaken by having work done on a common watercourse.

When I make that point the Minister replies: "Have you in mind the relief of the periodic flooding of certain lands?" I have in mind many cases in which, when this Bill becomes an Act, it will be vital to have work undertaken on what the Minister has described as a common drain or watercourse. Then the Minister says to me: "The clearing of that drain or watercourse is not my responsibility under this Act but the responsibility of the local authority."

What I said was that work on a common drain or watercourse, or work on a minor river such as a tributary of an arterial drainage catchment basin, will be done under the Works Bill unless the arterial drainage division is at work in that catchment area as it is in the Brosna, and that the arterial drainage division of the Board of Works will do the big arterial drainage on the river.

I do not think the Minister has grasped what he is attempting to deal with now. I do not blame him for that. I met a man recently who was threatened by his neighbour with legal proceedings because of his failure to clean certain rivers which would enable the neighbour to obtain the full advantage of work he had done in draining a watercourse which serves his own land. The neighbour found that if he were to spend his time, energy and money in doing what it was sought to compel him to do legally, the main artery into which those drains or streams passing through his land emptied was not in a condition to take the water, and that if he carried out the works suggested the water would flow backwards rather than forwards. I found that the attitude of the Board of Works, in the matter of carrying out drainage in a minor or limited sense, in a drainage district was to hesitate to carry out such works.

I do not remember how many drainage districts were transferred to local bodies for maintenance purposes under the 1945 Act. The point is that these local bodies are obliged by law to maintain the works in these drainage districts in as good a condition as they were in when handed over to them. Suppose you proceed to carry out certain works under the Works Bill or under this Bill in one of these drainage districts that has been handed over what would be the position of a local authority under the 1945 Act? As I have pointed out, there is a legal obligation on the local authority to maintain the works carried out under the different Drainage Acts and that have been handed over to it in as least as good a condition as when they were handed over. Suppose that, as a result of activities of this Bill or the Works Bill, additional water is released which will cause hardship to the owners of land inside a drainage district, then they can seek the protection of the court so as to ensure that the local bodies will not allow their position to be worsened, although the local bodies themselves will have had no responsibility for the works so carried out.

I must admit that this is a very involved matter. It is so involved that I have come to the conclusion, from listening to the discussions on the Works Bill and on this measure, that there is not that clarity and clearness which there should be, I think, on the part of those responsible for advocating or recommending their acceptance to this House. There is not that understanding that is necessary as to what is going to result. I suggest very strongly to the Minister that he should get, between now and the Report Stage, a clearer definition of what he has in his mind when he talks about a common watercourse, so that there may be included in this Bill protective provisions to ensure that more harm will not result than good from the execution of the works contemplated.

I am not quite clear as to the Deputy's point. Is it that liability may devolve on the local authority for the maintenance of a drainage board area that was transferred to it when the old drainage boards, set up under the 1845 Act, were finally done away with? Is it that the liability of a local authority may be extended or increased?

We can deal with that trouble by the Deputy's own definition in the 1945 Act. It should allay any fears that he has. Under that Act, the statutory obligation on the local authority is to maintain the drainage area in the condition in which they got it. Now nothing that I do, nothing that the county engineer does, and nothing that anybody does can add to that statutory duty of maintaining the drainage in the condition in which it was handed over.

But you can make it impossible for the local authority to do the work.

It may be that the old drainage board apparatus, in the condition in which the local authority got it, becomes hopelessly inadequate to the new burden thrown upon it. If that is what is worrying the Deputy I want to tell him that the Works Bill was designed to meet that situation to deal with a minor river which menaces an arterial river.

I am afraid it will aggravate the problem.

All of us in this House must feel conscious of the argumentation that has gone on that you cannot drain the remotest field or bog unless a major arterial operation is carried out on the Shannon right up to its sources. There are two schools of thought about that. There is the Board of Works school which says that not a drain must be dug and not a cup of water dislodged in the soil of Ireland until the catchment area in which the soil is situate has been arterially drained. It is true that some of it will not be drained until 2150. Very well then, reconcile yourselves to sitting in the bog until that day. That is a perfect and legitimate school of thought. Then there is another school which says that the resources of civilisation are not exhausted. We just do not believe that our people are to live up to their ankles in bog until 2150 and we are going to Equidate the situation in which they are called upon to do so. If that gives rise to problems so grave as to disrupt our social life in or about the banks of the arterial river, instead of operating one division of the Board of Works arterial drainage, we will operate two, and, if that is not enough, we will operate ten and, if that is not enough, we will organise 20 and, if necessary, we will get engineers from America for anywhere they are wanted. The one thing we will not do is to leave our people sitting in a bog until 2150.

We are as conscious as conscious can be of the alarms and apprehensions in the Deputy's mind, but our means of dispersing them is to wait until they eventuate. We doubt if they will, but, if they do, we are committed to mobilise such resources as may be required to carry out the arterial drainage necessary to dispose of the evil that has arisen as a result of delivering the people who live in the upper reaches of the catchment basin from the dismal prospect of having their children, their grandchildren and their great-grand-children living and dying up to their ankles in a bog. I think that is a modest and a reasonable approach and the excessive concern which seems to have laid hold of the Deputy would make progress in this country quite impossible.

These are fine, noble words we have listened to, but if a local body charged with the responsibility I have outlined should be taken to court——

It has not any legal responsibility except to keep the drainage in the condition in which it got it.

It has the responsibility of leaving the drainage districts in a condition not worse than the condition in which they were handed over. How then does it come that in the past, after applications were made to the Office of Public Works to have drainage carried out outside these areas, from which the water would flow into these drainage districts, they have, from a legal point of view, seen fit not to undertake such works? Should a local authority go to court and express those beautiful sentiments that we have heard from the Minister, I am certain that the judge undoubtedly would be very much impressed by them, but he would still see that the local authority were not keeping this particular district in the condition in which it had been handed over to them because additional water had been moved in upon the district, as the former Minister for Finance explained, as a result of works carried out under this Bill and the Works Bill. Additional water would be permitted to flow into the district for which the county council is now responsible and therefore the flooding would be worse and the court would hold that the position was worsened and the local body would have to pay compensation. It would be recurrent and it would not be disposed of as easily as the Minister has explained to us.

There is not in the Minister's mind, nor is there in the minds of those responsible for the other Bill to which I have referred and which is a counterpart of this, an idea of what could result from the operations visualised. Time will establish the truth of the charge I am making. I am not making that charge because I am so pessimistic that it is not possible to attack this problem in a vigorous way, nor would I be associated with any attempt to approach it in any other fashion, but I recognise you will not easily deal with problems that have baffled 100 years of effort.

There is one matter on which I would like some information from the Minister. Let me put this problem: An artificial watercourse, nine miles long, in a small catchment area, emptying into the sea, with 500 acres flooded on each side of that watercourse for many years. Assuming any person owning that land applies to the Minister to have it drained——

An artificial watercourse emptying into the sea with 500 acres on each side perennially flooded—surely, it must be the most pernicious watercourse that one ever could visualise?

I want to ask the Minister a question arising out of that. It is a problem that exists in my constituency—in more areas than one.

Nine miles of an artificial watercourse running into the sea with 500 acres of waterlogged land on each side!

That is quite true—it is no joke at all.

To me it is certainly a most remarkable thing.

Will the Minister's Department undertake the cleaning of this watercourse?

I will go down and constitute it as something suitable for a national museum.

Under this Bill would it be possible to have this artificial watercourse cleaned?

How could the Minister say if he does not know where it is?

It is in the moon—I would not give any other answer to such a foolish question.

Is it so foolish to ask where this artificial watercourse is?

Under this Bill would it be possible to have this watercourse cleaned, assuming the men who own the land which is now flooded do not apply to the Minister to have it rehabilitated?

Does Deputy Allen put that as a serious question? He knows perfectly well that any specific problem about which he wishes a categorical answer has only to be addressed to the Department and it will be answered with as much dispatch and precision as we can employ. But I cannot get up in the House and answer a question framed in such terms as those expressed by Deputy Allen. It may be as clear as crystal to him if he is familiar with it, but I can assure him that, as defined by him, it sounds like a question as to what would the Minister do with a river that runs uphill. The description may be perfectly clear to Deputy Allen. If you have an artificial channel open which is running into the sea and you have 500 acres of land——

It should run in, but it is not emptying into the sea.

Is it an old canal?

It is a main canal.

It is a watercourse.

And it runs into a river that runs into the sea.

If there is a statutory obligation on Córas Iompair Éireann to maintain it, we will not maintain it. If there is a statutory or a contractual obligation appertaining to a property to maintain it as part of that property, naturally the State will not maintain it if the property has to do it. It is impossible to answer such a question when one does not know all the facts. Ordinarily it would not be the duty of my Department to go in on land belonging to a private individual——

It does not belong to a private individual.

Does it belong to the local authority?

No, but the local authority have to keep it in the condition they got it in.

Let us not waste time by holding a question time, or 20 questions, or a trans-Atlantic quiz. I am quite prepared to give any information I can to the Deputy, but I am not Jean Fontaine, or whoever the lady is, who guesses the answer in three questions. If the Deputy gives me particulars, I will inform him when I have those particulars.

We were all very interested in the Minister's concern to ensure that everyone living adjacent to a bog or marsh would be relieved before the year 2050. I am afraid we cannot just accept his assurance that that will be so because some floods are caused by over-hasty drainage, and it is not reassuring to be told that such floods will be immediately relieved by the Department, section by section, under the arterial drainage branch of the Board of Works. If we were so simple as to believe that, then arterial drainage would have been done many years ago. We were pressed when we were in office to get rid of surplus water as quickly as possible, and it was not out of cussedness that the Fianna Fáil Government in its 16 years of office, or the Fine Gael Government prior to that in its ten years of office, did not go ahead with the complete arterial drainage of the country. Certain legal difficulties were cleared up by Deputy Smith when he was in the Board of Works. He introduced the Arterial Drainage Act of 1945. One must remember that there are physical and technical difficulties involved. Because we stress that there are difficulties to be overcome and dangers to be avoided the Minister need not jump to the conclusion that we are ultraconservative. Recently, the Minister employed a technician to advise him upon the growing of grass and land rehabilitation. The first advice that technician gave in relation to land rehabilitation was that in order to drain effectively one must start at the river mouth. If the Minister starts at the other end he may find after all that the New Zealand technician was right. Lands that are inhabited by wild duck at the present time may be turned into ideal places for snipe. By turning swamps into marshes he may add a few feet of water in Kilkenny. It will not be all the right to deal with that problem when it comes up. That will not do any good to the people in Kilkenny who in the past have been swept out of house and home and had their stock and effects destroyed. I make one appeal to the Minister to consider, between this and the Report Stage, inserting some clause under which people adversely affected will receive some compensation.

This section deals with the clearing of watercourses. There is not a word about compensation in it.

That is my objection.

The Deputy should have made that case on the Second Stage of the Bill. It is no use trying to make it now under this section.

On this Committee Stage I put down an amendment which was ruled out of order.

It has been ruled out of order and you cannot get it in by this method. We are dealing with Section 5, as amended.

I am objecting to Section 5, as amended, because it gives the Minister power to walk in and open up watercourses—but he has accepted the obligation to notify people upon whom he intends to walk in—and it gives no right to any claim for compensation.

The Deputy cannot proceed on that line. There is nothing whatsoever which entitles the Deputy to discuss compensation on this section.

Or the absence of compensation. Perhaps I shall be able to get it in under the next amendment, which is in order.

Section 5, as amended, agreed to.
Amendment No. 18 not moved.

I move amendment No. 19:—

Before section 6 to insert a new section as follows:—

(1) The Commissioners of Public Works, if satisfied upon a report of their chief engineering officer that serious flooding is likely to occur if additional waters are drained into a river basin shall, by Order made under this section, schedule such river basin as a prohibited river basin.

(2) It shall not be lawful for the Minister while a river basin is scheduled under this section as a prohibited river basin to cause additional waters to be drained into such river basin without prior approval of the Commissioners of Public Works.

(3) An Order made under this section may by Order be amended or cancelled.

This amendment is for the purpose of giving power to the Commissioners of Public Works, if they are satisfied that serious flooding is likely to occur by extra water flowing into a river basin, to schedule that river basin and prevent anybody operating there under this Bill, when it becomes law, causing more water to flow into the river basin than the condition of the river will enable it to carry without causing serious damage.

This is really a widening of amendment No. 16.

We reached agreement that amendment No. 16 could be construed to be inoperable.

That is so.

Then this seems to be inconsistent if that were the basis of our arrangement. This obviously could not apply. It is much wider.

I submit that the two things can run side by side. There would be no necessity for the Minister to consult the Board of Works if the Board of Works advised him that there were certain basins which could not take any excess of water and ask him to keep off them until they had carried out sufficient drainage on that course to enable it to take any water that would come along. That is important from the point of view I was trying to discuss on a previous section in that there is not in this Bill any right given to anybody to claim compensation from the Minister. Extensive damage may be done and not one brass farthing can be claimed by the people affected. If the Minister cannot accept this amendment he might consider it between now and the Report Stage. The amendment is designed as a safeguard against damage and to provide compensation for damage and I would suggest that the Minister might introduce a similar amendment on the Report Stage since apparently it is out of order for a private Deputy to do so.

I cannot accept this amendment but I shall consider its substance between now and the Report Stage.

Amendment 19, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 20:—

To delete sub-section (1) and substitute the following sub-sections:—

(1) The Minister for Finance may make regulations for the calculation, period of payment, redemption and disposal of annuities under this Act.

(2) The power to make rules conferred by sub-section (1) of Section 3 of the Land Act, 1933 (No. 38 of 1933), shall extend to the making of rules for any matter referred to in this Act as prescribed.

This is to provide that the Minister for Finance will make the financial regulations and the Minister for Lands, on behalf of the Land Commission, will make rules for matters referred to in the Act as "prescribed". There is a rule-making authority provided under the Land Act of 1933 and the purpose of this amendment is to extend the powers of that rule-making authority for the purposes of this Bill.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 6, as amended, Sections 7 and 8 and the Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.

I would take it to-night if I could get it. Would it be acceptable to the Opposition to take it on Thursday?

If the Minister has sufficient time, meanwhile, to consider any amendments which he may bring forward.

Any amendments I can make to meet the Opposition will be submitted in time for Thursday, but the Report Stage can easily be put back further if it is considered desirable to do so.

Report Stage ordered for Thursday, 23rd June, 1949.
The Dáil adjourned at 11.55 p.m., until Wednesday, 22nd June, at 3 p.m.