Committee on Finance. - Forestry Bill, 1955—Second Stage (Resumed).

It has been said that every member of this House would welcome any advance made in the afforestation drive. Personally I question that there is any advance provided in the legislation now before the House. I would have thought that the Minister would be prepared to deal with all the land readily available and easy to acquire before he would find it necessary to seek legislation to deal with the difficult problems with which this Bill was designed to deal. It seems from the Minister's statement that afforestation is no longer held up by the Government groups as the panacea for all our economic difficulties. In the past it was supposed to be a cure for all our problems—unemployment and emigration—and that it was to play an important part in the country's economic future.

In Fianna Fáil's term of office we pushed afforestation to a fairly creditable extent but we were decried at that time by the Opposition who said we were not going fast enough. We were anxious to go faster if we could but it was not always possible. Now, the others concerned must agree that it is not such an easy matter as they led people to believe earlier. We are now told that we must be content with a little progress. There are many parcels of very suitable land available for afforestation and I am surprised the Minister did not explore all these before he thought it necessary to seek extra powers to deal with difficult cases. We had in the past a director of forestry whom, I understand, we have no longer. Perhaps much could be done in this direction if there was greater harmony, co-operation and effort towards a uniform purpose as between the administrative and technical effort at the top.

I do not think there is any county, with the exception of the very congested areas along the western seaboard, which is more suitable for an intensified plantation programme, than County Donegal. Very often a large proportion of the lands offered for planting may not be plantable but it is always necessary to take the good with the bad and I am satisfied that there is a vast area of plantable land in the county which has not even been explored. I am also satisfied that many areas offered for planting have not been fully examined to see if they are suitable for forestry.

I would urge on the Minister, if I may take this opportunity of doing so, to give the matter of the need for employment in these areas where unemployment and emigration is rife, his most prior consideration. Much of the land which heretofore was considered unplantable has now been proved quite suitable for the planting of particular varieties. At the present time it is hardly possible to find any type of land that is not suitable for some type of afforestation. We have proved, in those areas which were planted with what I might call pilot plantations, that most of the areas available for afforestation in this country are suitable for the planting of some particular variety.

I had visions at one time of an all-out drive, such as we had never previously envisaged, being made towards reafforestation—a drive which would absorb all the unemployed, give a new look to the bleak western seaboard and give the necessary employment to so many people who so anxiously require work, as well as supplying us with as much commercial timber as this country would need within a short time. I think that many people who were led to believe that such an all-out attack on the afforestation problem was going to be launched must now be disillusioned. I am not one of those people who give up hope that we cannot yet intensify our activities and I believe that we can yet undertake a plantation of those vast areas which are readily available.

I have given notice of a question next week asking the Minister to give me some particulars of the derelict holdings in the congested areas of the western seaboard; the number of holdings vacated by the owners and let to neighbouring farmers; all of which would be available for acquisition by his Department for afforestation or any other purpose. I think that we should have pursued the acquisition of such lands which would not require any special legislation or any other facilities than those at the Minister's disposal at present.

I have also advocated in this House the question of the Forestry Department's being content to acquire smaller parcels of land for afforestation than those which they now regard as the necessary minimum. The late Minister gave me, time and again, very good reasons why that was not a practical proposition. My suggestion is that, if we should get a number of these within close proximity of each other, there is no reason why they should not be considered as one comprehensive area. That would, to some extent, overcome some of the difficulties where we have people who wish to hold on to their holdings. If the Forestry Department would agree to take a speckled area of that type it would make a nice overall scheme and might eventually be of much greater value from the scenic point of view than if we had one entire area completely in a plantation. I do not know what the Minister's views are with regard to these smaller parcels but I would like to hear the views of his advisers on the matter.

The late Minister pointed out that this proposal presented problems in the matter of fencing but that could easily be overcome, in so far as where you got a parcel of land adjacent to the holding of a farmer, you might very often get co-operation from the occupant of that adjoining holding.

The only other matter I wish to deal with is one which I cannot fully understand. It is with regard to the attitude of the Forestry Department towards the shelter belt scheme advocated by the county committees of agriculture. I do not think the Forestry Division looks with favour on the shelter belt scheme which we administer in our county committees and which I believe is a very commendable type of afforestation. Thousands of trees are given out heavily subsidised—almost free—to tenants of certain valuations each year to provide shelter belts in certain clumps convenient to the farmhouses. Any committee with due regard for the future success of the trees allotted under this scheme will ensure that their inspectors occasionally visit the holding to make sure that the trees are properly cared for and that they survive.

I think one of the reasons why the shelter belt scheme met opposition from some quarters in the past was that there was not always sufficient supervision afterwards by the county committees' inspectors and very often the percentage of trees surviving was rather small in proportion to the numbers allocated under the scheme. Our view in the County Donegal Committee —of which I have the honour to be chairman—was that if 33? per cent. survived it more than justified the amount of money spent on the scheme. We were not always satisfied that the Forestry Division looked with favour on that particular scheme for reasons which were never fully known to me.

I do not think there is anything further I want to say on this Bill except to assure the Minister that anything which we think would accelerate the rate of planting or the afforestation drive generally is undoubtedly welcome on this side of the House, but I must say we cannot feel other than disappointed, like many people throughout the country, at the Minister's admission that afforestation cannot be pressed forward with the same rapidity as he led the people to believe at one time could be achieved. There are many difficulties in connection with it and finance is one of them but that is one which could be got over if the merits of the scheme justified the provision of the necessary money to make it a success. I do not think that the difficulties which the present Bill proposes to surmount are so serious as to warrant any haste in introducing this measure. There is no harm in bringing it in now, I am sure, but will the Minister deny that he had not exhausted all the land which was readily available and easily acquired before he found it necessary to ask the House to pass legislation of this kind?

First, I want to say that I am grateful to all the members of the House who have taken part in this debate for the way they have assisted me and given me a vast amount of encouragement in regard to this Bill. The very liveliness of the debate and the number of Deputies who have taken part in it are indications that one of the things I feared some time ago is not now going to happen—that it would be almost impossible to arouse public interest in afforestation.

I remember when the inter-Party Government was in office before and when it was decided to expand the forestry programme I got the feeling that it was received both in the House and in the country very coolly. If someone had proposed some entirely uninteresting matter I thought it could not have been received in a cooler spirit. I am glad to say that even though there was some heat in the debate here and there, there was also a good deal of what I might describe as lack of application to the Bill before the House. On the whole, I am delighted that afforestation is now a subject that this House and the public are surely aware of. One can scarcely take up a newspaper now in which there is not a letter from somebody—very few of them criticising —with some suggestion, regarding forestry, even though on examination it may not always prove very useful. But this indicates an interest which is very pleasing to me.

While on that subject, I want to let members of the House know that in my opinion three of the greatest undertakings faced by Governments in this country—no matter which Governments—were afforestation, land rehabilitation and arterial drainage. Looking back over the years, we see vast improvements in housing and in roads, and we are very proud of the progress made in industry; but when we look at these three major projects and look also at electrification which was started in 1926 by the then Minister for Industry and Commerce, Deputy McGilligan, who is now Attorney-General, these four projects are outstanding achievements for a country as small as ours, born, I might say, only 30 years ago.

Surely you can put Bord na Móna and the sugar company with those?

If I am leaving out any, it is not that I am belittling them but, coming from the country myself, I do say that those four projects, with afforestation at the top, are definitely outstanding. They give the lie to those who in the past said Ireland was not fit to govern herself. I think those projects alone are ample proof that in the short time of a little more than 30 years of self-government, we have proved our ability to govern ourselves.

Some Deputies thought we were not going fast enough and I have a certain amount of sympathy with them, but I would ask them to come over to the Department or to any of the officials, either technical or administrative, and every information will be given to them so that they will know exactly what is going on in afforestation. There is no concealment or deception because there is nothing to keep back. I am intensely proud that all Deputies who spoke, with the exception of two, paid high tribute to the forestry service that has been built up. I think I should mention in passing that on one occasion—I believe it was in the winter of 1950—when I saw our forestry officials up against, if I may use that expression, officials of a neighbouring country who had greater experience, I was given a new appreciation of our own forestry men because I saw at a glance that our men were head and shoulders over those they were up against at that time.

One of the points made was that we should set up a forestry board. As far as I can see, no great argument has been put forward in its favour but the suggestion that we should have a board makes me think. I do not want and I think no member of the present Government wants any kudos out of afforestation. I think we are agreed on all sides of the House that this country needs afforestation, and any Government in office has a duty not to hold back forestry but to do everything to further it. When we see the twisting and turning that is done in the newspapers at the present time, some declaring for a board and others against it, I wonder is it a fact that some of these are getting on the band wagon now that forestry has made such great progress? I have no objection to their trying to do that provided they do not interfere with the reins because the forestry programme at the present time is going ahead particularly well when we take into account the difficulties encountered in regard to acquisition and other things.

The suggestion has been put forward that we should set up a board, and I think it was Deputy MacBride who mentioned that we should set it up on the same lines as Bord na Móna. I must confess I do not like that suggestion. Perhaps that is because I am a farmer and own a bit of land myself; and I come from a part of the country where the ownership of land is a red-hot question. I do not like that suggestion when I examine the powers of acquisition that Bord na Móna has. The only advantage a board could possibly have over the present Department would be in relation to sweeping powers of acquisition. If this House decides to give those powers, let them do so, by all means; but let us know exactly where we stand.

In bringing this Bill before the House I am perfectly satisfied that the draftsman and the officials of the Forestry Division have succeeded in getting around difficulties of title, without violating the Constitution. I have brought in this Bill for the purpose of acquiring land without compulsion, though some Deputies, notably. Deputy Moran, from my own constituency, think it is "dripping" with compulsion. It is only right that Deputies should realise that Bord na Móna has extraordinary powers of acquisition; but Bord na Móna does not acquire the same type of territory or terrain as the Forestry Division. Bord na Móna acquires huge expanses of blanket bog, bog which in most cases does not form part of the farmer's means of livelihood, but is, on the contrary, a liability to him because he must pay rent and rates and taxes for that bog, which is nothing more or less than a death-trap for his live stock.

I must take it that the suggestion is that we should hand over the Forestry Division as it stands to Bord na Móna, with Bord na Móna's powers of acquisition. It is here I want to hoist the danger signal. We cannot have sweeping compulsory acquisition and I am glad to note that rural Deputies agreed with what I said on that subject on the motion the week before last.

Bord na Móna at the moment can plaster a notice on a man's fence. Without going to any more trouble, within one month from putting that notice up, that particular bog becomes the property of Bord na Móna. The land we are taking over for forestry will, however, have some agricultural value. Its value may be low in some cases; it may be medium in others. Is it proposed to give the same sweeping powers to acquire this land for forestry? Members of the legal profession here have suggested that. I want to put this question to them: How would they like it if Deputy Blaney from Donegal, Deputy Moran or Deputy O'Hara from Mayo, Deputy Palmer or Deputy Flynn from Kerry tabled a motion here suggesting we set up a board of legal men to plead all cases before the courts? How would they like it if that board could go down to the Four Courts and to every court in the country, and put a notice on the front door saying that Mr. So-and-So, S.C., or B.L., could no longer plead in these courts? He would then be out in the cold and another board would have to be established to award him some compensation. That is exactly what those who are proposing a board along the lines of Bord na Móna want to do with the farmers.

If we want to get the landlord's bailiff or the minute men to do our dirty work and grab the small farmer's land for afforestation, then let us do it here openly, so that the small farmer, listening to the radio and reading his daily paper, will know exactly where he stands and who it is proposes to dispossess him. Deputy McQuillan grew very hot under the collar and wanted to dissociate himself from the idea of compulsory acquisition. I admit Deputy McQuillan never directly advocated compulsory acquisition in so many words; but, if he wants a board with the same powers as Bord na Móna, the fact remains that he wants compulsory acquisition. Not alone that, but he wants to do that under a cloak, as the landlord did it by getting his bailiff to knock down the tenant's house and throw his chattels out on the roadside. Such a board would be our bailiff, appointed to do the dirty work, and we could come in here and act like Pontius Pilate, washing our hands and saying: "It is the board did that; we can do nothing about it".

I know the position I am in myself in relation to the Irish Land Commission. Every consideration is given to the merits of each case by the commission, but I, as Minister, am not responsible for what is done simply because this House, in its wisdom, has by statute handed over certain functions to the lay commissioners.

It would be a disaster to divorce Forestry from the Land Commission. It may surprise Deputies to know that, of the total acreage Forestry now hold, the Land Commission has been responsible for giving them no less than 75,000 acres. In relation to subdivision, which under the 1923 Act is an intrinsic part of most sales, it would be surely adding red tape to red tape to divorce Forestry from the Land Commission. The proper course is to have both under the same roof, so that officials can go backwards and forwards for consultation and carry out the work successfully, as they are carrying it out at the present time. Any change in this would, in my opinion, be a retrograde step and would do damage which it would take many years of subsequent effort to overcome.

If I might interrupt the Minister, I think a great many people believe that, from the point of view of running forestry as a commercial business, it should be run by the same type of organisation as other businesses on a nationwide scale are run. I do not want to hold up the Minister, but, at the same time, I do not want him to feel that those who advocated a board are necessarily in favour of the board taking over land in the way he described.

I can easily see that, in 20 years' time, the inflow of mature timber and thinnings might necessitate a complete change of outlook. If I live that long and if I have a tongue to wag, I will possibly want to have forestry passed over to a board run on commercial lines, provided they have not the sweeping powers it is proposed to give them now.

They need not have them.

No board could do better in present circumstances than the Forestry Division has done. I doubt if they would have done as well as our present Forestry Division has done, and that is saying a great deal. That is the view I have come to, having studied the matter very deeply. In time to come, a commercial undertaking may be feasible and it may even be desirable to set up a commercial undertaking. But by that time we will have gone well over half-way, perhaps three-quarters of the way, to the 1,200,000 acres we all hope to see planted. That is the goal of every person who has afforestation at heart. When we reach that, the time will be ripe to halt and examine the position to see exactly where we are going.

Deputy Coogan was particularly anxious about planting in the West and in Connemara. In that regard let me say that Deputy Bartley left me completely puzzled. I do not know exactly what he wants. He spoke of planting in cut-away bogs as if that was something the Forestry Division had never done before. They have planted a huge acreage of cut-away bogs and are doing so very successfully. At the same time Deputy Bartley mentioned that the Land Commission should not be allowing the tenants to cut bogs down to the bare rocks—I think that was the expression he used. That is quite true, but in most of the areas where this is being done there is only about one sod of turf over the rock and in order to procure fuel the tenants have no other way out. I think Deputy Bartley will agree that the average holdings in Connemara would not stand up to getting supplies of fuel for the house outside the holding.

Many Deputies spoke on the question of planting in the West generally. This Bill is largely for the West. While I hope it will apply to offers in other counties of the Twenty-Six, I think it will apply particularly to the West for this reason, that most of the commonages and a greater part of the mountains of our country are along the west coast, that is, from Donegal down to West Cork. It is true—I think it was Deputy Derrig raised the point— that there are commonages in Wicklow. There are commonages there and in fact there is a peculiar type of commonage problem in Wicklow, but I think I am not over-optimistic when I say this Bill will help us also to get over the difficulty of that situation in County Wicklow.

Let me explain to Deputies that there are two types of commonage. One is the type where the tenants own the fee simple, where they own the commonage themselves and where it is registered as part of their holding; the other type is where, say, the Land Commission or the successor of the former landlord owns the commonage and has allowed grazing rights on it.

Section 4 deals with the people who have a commonage right and own the fee simple and another section deals with the people who do not own the fee simple but have grazing rights over the land. When we came to examine the matter, we found these were very thorny problems from the legal point of view and that was the principal reason why we needed the Bill.

I would like to state clearly that I had hoped this Bill would have been green-printed and circulated before the Dáil rose for the summer recess and although all concerned with it—the Chief State Solicitor's office, the Attorney-General's office, the officials in the Department of Lands—were working very hard on it, it was extremely difficult to achieve all we have achieved in this Bill without violating the constitutional rights of the owners of land.

Deputy Derrig, I think, asked me to state what acreage approximately would come under this Bill. I cannot. Deputy O'Donovan, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Government, tried to give an estimate of it; he did not attempt to give more than a round figure. I cannot either. All I can say is that for many years past there has been a huge number of commonages offered to the Forestry Division that have fallen through simply because of the objections, and never, as some Deputies seemed to think, because of price. There is a large number of commonages and I should not be surprised if the extra land that will come in as a result of this Bill would amount to 10,000 acres a year. I would be disappointed if it does not exceed 5,000 acres and that will be a very welcome addition to the inflow at the present time.

In speaking last week I told the House that our ultimate aim cannot be limited even to a planting rate of 25,000 acres a year if we can succeed, as I personally believe we will, in finding even more extensive acreages capable of making a contribution towards the country's good by their afforestation. If further earnest of the present Government's determination to push ahead rapidly with forestry were needed, it is to be found in the annual Votes for Forestry presented to this House. In the three years in which the present Government was in office before, the Vote for Forestry rose from £357,430 to £1,127,200. On coming back into office, I was happy to come to this House this year and seek an increase in this year's Vote to £1,560,300 compared with £1,272,850 last year.

These are some points about which Deputies will be glad to hear, at least those who seem to think we are not going fast enough. With the exception of a few Deputies, I want to compliment Deputies who spoke on their sane approach to the whole question— realising that we had not the prairies of the United States or Canada or the vast plains of the Transvaal to play with. This is only a small country; we are only getting on our feet. Let me repeat that the Forestry Division has done an outstanding job of work, I would say, the biggest and best in the country.

On the question of safeguarding constitutional property rights, Deputy Derrig seems to think we were seeking in this Bill to safeguard particularly the rights of people with defective title. I think the Deputy must have misread a part of the explanatory memorandum which we circulated with the Bill. The reference there was to the problems presented by defective title as distinct from those presented by commonage rights and interests. The real point is that where we deal with a person whose title is defective, we must, in conformity with the Constitution, safeguard the rights of any other person with a true title.

His misunderstanding is one that could easily arise but it is better to have it cleared up. The real point is that we are trying to safeguard not only the person who appears to be the owner but also we must effectively safeguard every other person who may be a claimant under this Bill. When the Committee Stage comes up, I will be expecting Deputies to have perused the Bill as carefully as they can, particularly rural Deputies who have a knowledge of the complexity of the situation and who can give me their best assistance. I will be quite prepared to accept any amendments if I am satisfied that they are going to make the Bill better.

Deputy Derrig mentioned also the desirability of using forestry to absorb seasonal unemployment from Bord na Móna and elsewhere. It is only right to tell the House that the work in forestry nowadays is fairly steady and the number of men left off are very few even during what I might describe as the slack months. As a matter of fact, out of total of 5,000 men the number left off each year is only about 600. We are in communication with Bord na Móna and with others at the present time to see exactly how best we can take up any slack that might be unavoidable in the course of the employment of their workers. It is a very good point and if there is anything we can do we will be only too glad to do it.

Deputy MacBride seemed to be under the impression that I dropped the target of 25,000 acres altogether. If it were any Deputy other than Deputy MacBride, I would not mind, but he could not possibly have made that mistake. When I challenged him to say where we had dropped it, he was absolutely unable to quote such a statement. I feel Deputy MacBride is sincere and honest in his views on the whole forestry question but it does not help to read into my speech something that was not there.

He was also of the opinion that I was at war with Mr. Cameron. I do not know whether there is any precedent for a Minister making such a statement to the House, but whether it has been done before or not I think I should express to Mr. Cameron on behalf of this House and on behalf of the Government our very sincere gratitude for the work he did for us. He came here and made a survey of the land of this country and gave us a lot of useful information. We are deeply grateful to him for the advice that he gave and I was more than surprised that Deputy MacBride tried to picture me as finding fault with or, at least, picking out errors in Mr. Cameron's report. It certainly was not my intention to do that because, having gone around a good deal with Mr. Cameron when he was here, I formed a high opinion of him and can say that he was genuinely anxious to give the best advice he possibly could.

I pointed out in my opening speech that I had moved away from Mr. Cameron on two particular points. One was on population trends. The other was the question of the timber yield of our land. I was challenged that it has taken us three or four years to find the mistakes or errors in Mr. Cameron's report. The truth of the matter is that, on the question of population trends, Mr. Cameron estimated an increase of 50 per cent. in the population. In 1954, three years after, the Commission on Emigration furnished its report. If I read the summary on population trends to the House, it will show that we have much more up-to-date information now than was available to Mr. Cameron. It was on that ground that I pointed out to the House in my opening speech why I disagree with Mr. Cameron's report in that respect.

Paragraph 469 of the Report of the Commission on Emigration says:—

"The projections expose the unreality of such estimates and indicate the degree of optimism involved even in an expectation of a population of 3,500,000 to 4,000,000 in 30 to 40 years. Even this would represent an increase of about one-fourth on our present population size and would constitute a spectacular demographic achievement out of keeping with the whole trend of our population size for more than 100 years, though it should be borne in mind that this trend in itself has been different from that of European countries in general. Such a population increase would be possible only on the basis of a degree of resolution, never yet exhibited, to develop the economy fully, and a ready acceptance of the sacrifices and hard work which this would involve. It must also be realised that in the absence of such resolution and its implied sacrifices the alternative may well be a worsening of existing fertility and emigration trends, a lowering of density and a population of little more than 2,500,000."

That in itself makes gloomy enough reading and is a pill I find it hard to swallow. They tell us that in 30 to 40 years time they do not expect any increase in our population. I hope they are wrong when they point out that it may actually drop by 500,000—a thing I find it hard to visualise.

I pointed out that Mr. Cameron had not information like that and lacked information on the question of Irish timber yields. That information has since come to hand. It has now put Mr. Cameron's report, in these two regards at least, completely out of date. I gave that information to the House in my opening speech and that was taken by Deputy MacBride as an indication that I wanted to run away from the original planting programme.

The extract from the Report of the Commission on Emigration that I have read is an estimate of what the commission think may happen in regard to population inside the next 50 years. That is not, surely, a forestry matter and I think Mr. Cameron would be the first to agree with me when I take a lead in that matter from the Commission on Emigration which examined the matter in a careful and expert way.

The second point related to the average annual yield which we may expect to derive from Irish forests. Mr. Cameron spent a fortnight in this country in July-August of 1950. Of that fortnight approximately eight to nine days were devoted to a tour of the country during which he saw something of our existing forests but saw rather more of potential forest areas not yet acquired. He had no opportunity of estimating the yield from Irish forests. He could not have attempted to estimate that yield on the basis of such a short tour of inspection and he did not attempt to do so. Mr. Cameron based his reckoning on this question of yield on data produced by the Forestry Division's own technical staff, that is, our own technical advisers in this country. Available data which are set out in the appendix to his report did not relate properly to the average species actually being planted in this country or the qualities of timber which might be expected under Irish conditions in these various species. That is made perfectly clear in the published report. Mr. Cameron found himself in a difficulty in using such figures and he said so.

When I rose to speak in this House last week I had the benefit of an up-to-date estimate, not produced by a pseudo-forestry expert Minister for Lands or any other body of that nature but by the expert technical staff of the Forestry Division. That estimate is based on the amount of land we are planting in this country, the species which can be grown on that land, and the qualities of timber that may be expected. It is based, too, upon yield-data which became available only in 1954, and that is why it is only now, and not three or four years ago, that we have been able to take this matter further. Deputies should not make the mistake of thinking that the Department is beset by red tape in these matters. That is not true.

Mr. Cameron's unhappiness about using such yield figures as we then had sprang partly from doubt as to the desirability of expecting a high proportion of quality II plantations. Our technical experts' revised figures assume nothing higher than quality III except in relation to contorta pine which will give a higher yield on poor land than any other species. Mr. Cameron was also in a difficulty in relation to contorta pine, with which he would be less familiar than our own foresters. The yield figures used by our experts for this species are quite conservative and there is no reason to doubt them. Indeed, I have here a report from the Director for Wales of the British Forestry Commission which shows that in Wales, as here, far better results have been obtained from contorta pine than Mr. Cameron expected and better even than from sitka spruce.

The figure of 84 cu. ft. which I have used is in fact far lower than is being obtained already in many of our plantations. Even in the appendix to Mr. Cameron's report, Deputies will find actual specimen figures in regard to Irish yields which are twice the average I have used in estimation. The specimen figures were based on plantations of only about 25 years of age which will show in higher yields as they approach maturity.

To put the matter simply, Mr. Cameron worked on the basis that our present population, at the present rate of consumption, needed a timber supply from home sources of about 37,500 standards of commercial timber a year to leave the country independent of imports. This supply would, according to the up-to-date data of the experts whom we must accept, call for an annual planting of only about 3,000 acres. To allow for a per head consumption increased four-fold for the present population, we would need an annual output of 150,000 standards or an annual planting of 12,000 acres. If we were to allow for consumption per head at four times the present rate and for an increase also of 50 per cent. in the population, Mr. Cameron reckoned the annual need at 200,000 standards or an annual planting of 18,000 acres.

Let me repeat some of the details that caused confusion on this particular matter. We have data now about the yield of cubic feet of timber per statute acre which were not available then. Mr. Cameron, on the basis of such figures as we then had, came to the conclusion that 69 cubic feet per statute acre was what could be expected from Irish forests. But his conclusions were not accepted by the then Director of Forestry who, for example, gave a yield from sitka spruce in Glenmalure forest at 169 cubic feet per statute acre. Japanese larch in the same forest would yield 125 cubic feet per statute acre according to the same report. Douglas fir he estimated would yield 113 cubic feet per statute acre and cupressus macro-carpa would yield 112 cubic feet per statute acre.

As I have said, Mr. Cameron gave us a figure of 69 cubic feet per statute acre. Our experts now have given me different figures. These figures have come from actual felling and production and prove that our Irish forests will yield, at the very best, 84 cubic feet per statute acre when mature. It was on that figure that I based my opening speech and it was apparently on that point that Deputy MacBride took me to task. I have to look at three sides of the question-one the figure of 69 cubic feet given by Mr. Cameron; another, the 125 cubic feet given by a former Director of Forestry and the present information of 84 cubic feet per statute acre which the expects tell me they are getting from our forests of mature timber to-day. Which is right? I am taking our own experts because I have every confidence that they are all proficient officials who are painstaking and accurate and when they arrive at this figure of 84 feet per statute acre. I am quite satisfied with it.

On the separate issue of consumption rate, Mr. Cameron worked from the fact that our consumption of timber per year is 12½ standards per 1,000 of the population. He suggested that our consumption in 50 years' time would amount to four times that amount—50 standards per 1,000 of the population. If we accept that suggestion, which would need an annual-planting of 12,000 acres to meet home needs, this year we are planting 15,000 acres, which, over and above our own requirements, will leave 3,000 acres of mature timber for export and that is what some Deputies are decrying; that is what is causing them to say we are not making sufficient progress.

I want the House and the country to know that this year the planting of 15,000 acres will mean that even if we are using four times as much timber in 50 years as now, we will have a surplus of 3,000 acres of 40,000 standards of timber to export per year. While that is a bright picture, one of which the Government and the country should be proud, I am not content with it. I am not satisfied with planting sufficient timber this year to meet our needs and to provide a surplus of 3,000 acres in a few years' time. If I were, there would be no need for this Bill. I want to say clearly and emphatically that the 25,000 acres which have been set up by some Deputies as a limit which should not be surpassed does not satisfy me at all.

I want to say that I, for one, will not be stampeded into accepting that limit. I am quite prepared to go ahead with the greatest speed but also with the requisite amount of caution. We are only a small country in which the inflow of land is not by any means what I would like it to be. We must solicit from each farmer the particular piece of land we want for afforestation. Some Deputies have already hoisted their colours on the question of the compulsory acquisition of land for afforestation. To them I say that there will be no compulsory acquisition for afforestation.

It is quite sufficient to have compulsion as far as the Land Commission are concerned for the relief of congestion and compulsion for other minor purposes. Deputies who would like to see themselves playing with the very lives and livelihoods of thousands of our people, thousands of the very poorest of our people, will have to be disappointed unless they set up a different type of State from what we have.

There were so many points raised in this debate that I must confess that it would be almost impossible to remember all of them. Deputy Lindsay was worried about the question of title —what happens when a person who is six years in possession sells to the Department of Lands for afforestation and then the old owner comes back. First, I do not know of any case where the real owner has left property completely untended for six years. Apart from that, there is ample provision in the Principal Act to notify each single interested party in this matter and it is our desire that every interested party should be notified. We will do our best in this regard. Interested parties will get every chance of voicing their grievances if they have any. I thought Deputy Lindsay had discovered a flaw but when I looked into the matter I discovered such was not the case.

Deputy Brennan of Wicklow raised a question concerning a parcel of arable land which might be acquired in a big holding when it is being taken over by the Forestry Division. He suggested that the arable land should be given to a smallholder. I have no objection to the Forestry Division doing a deal in a particular area where they buy a holding portion of which is arable and where it might not be advisable to plant it. I have no objection to the Forestry Division giving a local farmer the arable part in exchange for a useless or non-arable portion of his farm together, possibly, with a cash adjustment either way. I am quite prepared to help out in cases which the Deputy or other Deputies might bring to my notice.

Deputy Barry mentioned local organisations such as Muintir na Tíre and the Young Farmers' Clubs. I assure Deputy Barry and other Deputies who mentioned the same subject that we will welcome any help that comes from them on the one hand and on the other hand that we will give them any possible assistance they may need because every acre of private forest is as useful an asset as an acre of State forest.

Deputy Moran got into a white heat about this Bill and jumped from one foot to the other. When on one foot, it was a useless Bill, a stunt Bill; when on the other, it was dripping with compulsion. I think that the mistake the Deputy made was, first, he did not read the Bill and secondly, if he took a little bit of care or took some interest in afforestation he would have seen that the Bill is not a stunt Bill on the one hand or dripping with compulsion on the other. He seemed to have a grievance about the forests being started in County Mayo. I have not the full figures on hand but in the new forests started in County Mayo since 1948 over £72,000 in wages and cartage have been paid to the people in those districts. In the one particular forest that he seemed to have all his grudge against there has been £14,000 paid out in wages and an excellent forest of something like 1,300 acres has been established, every tree in which is doing well. Deputy Moran should not have taken that attitude towards forests in Mayo.

Deputy O'Connor of North Kerry made a complaint about a forestry official, who, apparently, was discourteous when he called to his house. I deplore an incident of that kind very much and I want to assure the Deputy that I will not stand over any such discourtesy if it take place and I would be slow to question the Deputy's word about it. Forestry officials, as a rule, are most courteous but it is quite possible that one particular official may have outstepped the limits to which he should have gone. I am having the matter investigated, and if he did so, I can assure the Deputy that he will receive a very severe reprimand.

Deputy O'Connor referred to areas in North Kerry which he thought should have been taken over for forestry purposes. I want to point out to him and other Deputies that there may be discontent because a particular area which they thought should have been taken over has not been taken over. I have since investigated the area he mentioned and I have found that the Forestry Division has come up against difficulties which are not easily surmounted. That mountain is owned by 35 different tenants in common. When the Bill is passed I will have another investigation of that area and I hope it will come within the scope of the Bill.

Some Deputies seem to think that when they bring to the notice of the Department a particular piece of land it should be planted. The fact is, however, that when the inspectors survey that land they may find it unplantable. The same thing has happened to myself. On several occasions both as a Deputy and a Minister I have brought areas of land to the notice of the officials and they have turned them down. Sometimes I have felt very furious with them but on reflection I have decided that if we have experts we must be guided by them. They do not turn these areas down for political reasons but because they do not think that trees will grow on the particular site. If our experts turn down these offers let us pose this question to ourselves: "What business have we with experts if we do not take their advice?" We have frequently questions about the Land Commission and every other Department and we undoubtedly have the tendency to set ourselves up as experts and to think that a thing should be done according to our own particular view.

There is nothing we can do if the experts decide that the job cannot be done, but there are some areas which many years ago were found not to be plantable which can now be planted under the new technique introduced in 1951. I want to say that, as this is not the last Forestry Bill, so the new technique of 1951 will not be the last technique to be introduced, and perhaps in time to come new methods will enable certain areas, now deemed to be unplantable, to be planted.

In conclusion I want to thank the Deputies of the House for the way in which they have met the Bill, and I want to say that I am intensely gratified to find the interest which a Forestry Bill has aroused in this House and through the country.

The Minister has not answered my question as to how the compensation is to be paid for land acquired under the Bill or whether there is to be any change in the method of paying compensation for a piece of land. Are we to take it that the price will be the market value?

Under this Bill there is no compulsion and the sales will be voluntary. In the very few cases where land will have to be acquired the Land Commission will decide the price and there will be an appeal, both for the Minister and the objector, against that decision.

I would also like to ask the Minister whether he has looked into the point made by Deputy Moran regarding the utilisation by the Land Commission of the procedure of appointing a limited administration.

That point has escaped me at the moment. Deputy Moran seemed to be under the impression that all we had to do to get over the question of a defective title was to appoint a limited administrator. We would not get many voluntary offers in the case of a limited administration because it would involve tying up the purchase money with a trustee and a person would find himself out of both his land and his money. If a limited administrator were appointed, the whole purpose of the Bill would fail.

Question put and agreed.
Committee Stage fixed for Wednesday, 14th December.