Committee on Finance. - Vote 48—Forestry (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following motion:—
That the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration.—(Deputy Derrig).

Year after year Deputies concentrate on drawing attention to the importance of this Department, or part of a Department. Like Deputy MacBride last night, I want to impress on the Minister that he should realise the importance of forestry to the country economically and for the provision of employment. We believe that it is essential to do everything possible to speed up the forestry programme and if it is possible to reach the target of 25,000 acres annually we should try to do so.

From the Minister's statement it would seem that if we do reach 25,000 acres per annum, we do not appear to know what would happen then but I think that, if that should occur, we should take drastic steps to go on increasing our planting. The Minister seemed to sense dangers in relation to the acquisition of the land. Some of us are very interested in this matter as we wished to see the results of experiments in the utilisation of ex-peat land. Such land is available in very large areas throughout many parts of the country including Cork. If these experiments give a satisfactory result, it will help us to overcome any problems of which the Minister may be afraid in relation to land acquisition.

Five or six years ago we were told that it would be fantastic to attempt to grow timber on such land. I am glad to know that now our policy in relation to forestry has changed somewhat and that we are prepared to take a chance. It is better to take a chance in a new approach to a problem like this, and fail, than to sit back and do nothing as was done in the 20's, 30's and 40's. I believe that, when we are considering the problem of forestry, with its overall value in relation to industry and the industries that can arise from it, we should realise that it is vitally necessary to the economic welfare of this State. It is essential that this problem of our forests should be tackled in a manner that would give us better results.

I consider that no matter how we try to achieve the great improvement that we wish, no matter how the Government, the Minister, or the Department may act in their desire to achieve good results, they will not do so unless the desire to co-operate with other sections of the community is greater than it has been. It is necessary to have a far greater degree of co-operation than we have had with bodies such as Muintir na Tíre, Macra na Feirme and the county committees of agriculture. Rightly or wrongly, members of these bodies believe through their past experience, that there was never any great desire on the part of Departments of State to co-operate with them. These people are not out for their own personal interests. They are prepared to offer their services to the State, particularly in regard to forestry, because they realise that the forestry programme is essential. From what I know of the Minister, I believe that he is quite prepared to give to these people the necessary co-operation.

Then there is the question of the county committees of agriculture. I believe that there is something lacking in the approach to the local angle with regard to forestry. Should these county committees of agriculture extend a greater degree of co-operation to the Department and should the Department be prepared to co-operate with them I believe that the problem that is noticeable in rural Ireland at the present time will be solved, that is, the ignorance of the value that timber can have for the people in the rural areas. When I say "ignorance" I am not casting any reflection on the people, but the fact is that over the years the country has been denuded of timber and people were never taught to appreciate the value of replanting, whether woodlands or forestry, on a large scale. They are handicapped in their approach because of that ignorance. The county committees of agriculture and local authorities, combined with the Forestry Branch, should make every effort to get over to the people the importance of their co-operation. If we get that co-operation, we shall achieve something worth while.

I have raised the question of replanting on many occasions. Some years ago the Minister told us that he was checking up on those people who, during the emergency, came very well out of the sale of timber. These people got permits to fell on condition they replanted. What is the position to-day? A large percentage failed to meet their commitments in that regard. It is time we had a more detailed report on this matter. The Minister did not mention this aspect last night—I do not blame him; he could not be expected to cover every point— in his introductory speech. Now, while some people did replant, having got grants, the difficulty is that they merely stuck young seedlings into the ground and left them there. I know many areas in which these young seedlings, now young saplings, are choked with briars and undergrowth. They are admittedly showing certain signs of growth but they will never be of any commercial value. Even for firewood, I think they will be of little value. The officials of the Forestry Branch may have had their difficulties in relation to the overall problem of afforestation. It is essential that more staff should be made available, in my opinion, for an examination of these aspects of forestry. These young saplings will never be of any value to the State.

It would not be fair to turn this debate into a parish pump discussion. Many of us are not satisfied, however, with the forestry programme in South Cork. The Minister with his fine, jovial, genial personality, was seen down around Glengariff. That is an area into which some of us would scarcely be allowed to enter. I would remind the Minister that there is plenty of room for him in South Cork. The difficulty is that he is sometimes inclined to pass the buck to some of us so far as acquiring land there is concerned. Now, I am not too well in with the landowners there and possibly if I approached them, they would set the dog on me. The Minister should make further inquiries with regard to land in South Cork, because land is available there. Young men in this area have very little alternative employment. They hope for a job with the local farmer or casual employment with the county council, but that employment does not exist all the year round. When there is land available it is essential, from the point of view of the economy of the country, that full use should be made of it. It is even more essential that these people should get employment.

The Minister may say that there is not sufficient land available in these areas for afforestation purposes. My colleagues Deputy Manley and Deputy MacCarthy will agree with me that there is land fit for nothing but afforestation, or woodlands, in the Kinsale-Belgooly area. Over all that area, and in other areas too, remain the signs of what was once woodland. These areas are useless at the present time. Technical advisers brought here from other countries may say that it would not be economic to plant these areas unless a particular acreage is available. We should approach our problems in our own way. It is ridiculous to suggest, on the one hand, that there may be difficulty in acquiring large tracts of land for afforestation while, on the other hand, smaller lots spread over different areas are available. All these could be utilised.

The Minister may hold that such a policy would not be economic. That is where I suggest the local county committees should enter into the picture. If the county committees and the local authorities co-operate, there will be no need for the Forestry Branch to have their staff there all the year round. Surely it is not impossible to make some approach along the lines I suggest. We hear a good deal of talk about waste land and a good deal of talk about drainage problems. Fortunately our drainage problems are being solved. We should not lose sight of the fact that there are thousands of acres not worth 1/- per acre from the point of view of valuation which could be utilised for woodlands or afforestation on a small scale.

The Minister may say that afforestationqua afforestation compels him to give all his attention to it. I would ask him to concentrate on the aspect I have put before him in an effort to solve the problems which exist in areas like South Cork where there are thousands of acres available for the production of timber. These areas are crying out for attention. I appeal to the Minister to have them examined from the point of view of afforestation. Let us hope that, when he introduces his Estimate next year, we shall have gone forward some little way towards achieving in areas, other than Glengariff, something in the nature of afforestation.

I was very impressed last evening by the very lucid and exhaustive statement of the Minister, setting out all the activities of the Forestry Branch of his Department. He gave some very useful figures and made many very valuable comparisons. There is no doubt that at the present time no field of national activity opens up such possibilities in rural Ireland as forestry development. In two or three years' time rural electrification will have been completed and there will be need for some further rural development because the men now employed in the construction corps of the E.S.B.'s rural electrification programme will be disemployed and they must have some alternative employment to which to turn.

There is no reason why, with the suitability of our climate and soil, we should not be able to supply our requirements of commercial timber. Surely, in the course of the years, we should have ample supplies of native wood pulp for our industries. Nothing will transform the Irish landscape so much as complete forestry development. Trees will be an added attraction, charm and beauty so far as those who wish to visit our country are concerned. The advantages of forestry are multiple. Trees provide warmth, shelter and charm and, in the bleak seasons, these are major factors.

I agree with Deputy MacBride and Deputy Palmer that private planting should get more encouragement. To give that work a proper incentive, I think the Department's grant for private planting should be more generous. Appeals are very often made for the establishment of shelter belts on farms. Undoubtedly they would cost a fair amount of money but the advantages would be many, both for human beings living on the farms and live stock kept there. If we even had little shelter belts around every rural holding they would give a beauty to the countryside which it would be very difficult to achieve otherwise.

With regard to the provision of land, I agree with Deputy Desmond that the co-operation of local authorities should be sought. Furthermore, local bodies such as Macra na Feirme and Muintir na Tíre would be in a position to suggest where possible planting pockets are available. In the areas mentioned by Deputy Desmond, there are isolated pockets throughout South Cork which would be very valuable planting land.

The Minister gave this House alarming figures of the number of fires that have occurred during the past year. It is an unpardonable crime for picnic parties and other persons to throw matches or cigarettes away without their being properly extinguished. That is a chance which nobody can afford to take and the damage that can be done to forestry is sometimes very great indeed. I do not know whether the scheme which the Minister has in mind to increase the penalties for such misdeeds will have any beneficial effect. I think our people will have to be made forestry conscious. They will have to be made realise that trees are wealth and that it is national suicide for anybody, young or old, to take any chances which might ultimately, perhaps, damage our forestry plantations. We seem to have very bad civic sense and civic spirit in this country. There seems to be a reckless disregard on many occasions for the rights and property of others. The place where these civic principles should be inculcated is in the schools. Time should be provided in the schools to educate our youth to the value of trees and to the necessity for safeguarding our forests.

The Minister must be complimented on the drive he is making to attain a target of 25,000 acres per annum but, having reached that target, he should not rest there. There should be a progressive increase in our forestry plantings until we have planted the 1,000,000 acres which we are told are available for forestry planting in this country. Planting at a rate of 25,000 acres per annum, it will take 40 years before we reach that target. However, bíonn gach tosnú lag. We look forward to the maintenance of this drive by the Minister.

It seems utterly incongruous that the Department of Lands and Forestry should be located in this city on the eastern coast of the country. They are Departments which deal entirely with rural development schemes and which have rural associations. We are all aware of the rapid and unwieldy growth of Dublin City. The fact that the Government was established here, as well as the Government Departments, has mainly contributed to that abnormal growth. I would seriously suggest that the Minister should contemplate the feasibility of transferring the Department of Lands and Forestry to some centre or campus in the Midlands. Of necessity, it would have to be located near some town in order that living accommodation would be provided. I have no doubt that many officers in the Civil Service would prefer to live in a rural environment than in this city. I think there would be many volunteers to go with the Department if it were set up in the Midlands.

Over the years, there has been a lot of talk about decentralisation but no efforts have been made to bring about a realisation of it. This is an opportunity for the Minister to impress on his colleagues how vital it is for rural Ireland that his Department should be located there. It is important that the officers of the Department should be brought into contact with the schemes they operate and the needs and requirements of the Forestry Division. Coming, as he does, from rural Ireland, I know the Minister must share that view. I hope he will make an effort so as to ensure that something will at last be done towards achieving the decentralisation we are anxious to bring about. From one-fifth to one-sixth of the population of this country is housed in Dublin. That is one of the reasons why Dublin has a housing problem. We are making no effort to lessen that problem. If something is not done, even at this very late stage, towards the decentralisation of which I speak, the time will come when this house will consist mainly of representatives from Dublin.

While I may agree with some of the things I have heard so far in this debate, one feature that I think should be looked into at the moment is the general trend of opinion expressed from the Government side of the House. The inference to be drawn from what has been said generally by various speakers is that nothing whatever of any importance was done about forestry until the advent of the first Coalition Government. That could not be further from the truth. If the people, some of whom I have heard talking here, were as interested in forestry during the years prior to 1948 as they now appear to be, can they say they are on record in any place, in this House or outside it, as advocating forestry and help for the then Minister for Lands who would have been responsible for the work? To-day, there is encouragement from all sides of this House but there was very little noise made by those people then and very little encouragement was given to any Minister prior to 1948 to do much about forestry.

In fairness, let it be said that the period in the 30's which has been mentioned and a greater part of the period in the 40's that has been mentioned, and that are criticised as periods during which little was done, were two very difficult periods for this country. Without rehashing the reasons why they were difficult, I think it is quite sufficient to say that the difficulties then encountered were great and that there was not the encouragement which is now evident from all sides of the House. The fact that any forestry planting or reafforestation work was carried out at all is, in my estimation, a greater tribute to the then Minister for Lands than any record that may have been achieved since then, either by the present Minister for Lands or his predecessors.

In particular, I heard Deputy MacBride speak at length last night and saying many things with which I do not disagree, nor do I disagree with the sentiments which motivated him in saying those things, in regard to pushing on with forestry. I entirely, disagree, however, with Deputy MacBride in regard to his approach to this matter. He comes in here on this Estimate, in the year 1956, and lauds the present Minister and the present Government for deciding now that a programme of 25,000 acres per year is a target which is to be achieved in the near future. Now that is all very well, and it is something for which all of us can give the Minister a little pat on the back, but my real kick in this matter is that Deputy MacBride, in 1949, was claiming that we had a new programme. Speaking on the Supplementary Estimate of 1955, in March of last year, in Volume 149, column 864 of the Official Reports he said:—

"In 1949 I was instrumental in getting the then Government to come to a firm decision that a minimum plantation rate of 25,000 acres per annum should be embarked upon. That decision was not merely a Government decision; it was a decision which received the approval of this House and one which was embodied in the long-term programme prepared in connection with the spending of Marshall Aid. That policy was published in one of the White Papers approved by this House at that time."

Now that is on a Supplementary Estimate in March, 1955, and it clearly indicates that the programme of 25,000 acres was not only an agreed programme but a programme which was brought about by Deputy MacBride's efforts in 1949 and, further, it was to be the minimum planting rate per annum. A short while after that we had something which is more extraordinary when, on the forestry debate in the same year, 1955, Deputy MacBride as reported in Volume 151, columns 803 to 804, said:—

"I am not blaming the Minister. I am not going to review the work of his Department. He is familiar with my views in regard to a certain number of questions in the Department but he has not been long enough in it to be able to deal with the position there but, as far as I am concerned, and as far as my Party is concerned, unless there is a radical change before this Estimate comes before this House next year, I shall be compelled, irrespective of any political consequences, to vote against this Estimate—not against the Minister."

Where has the radical change taken place? How is Deputy MacBride now congratulating the Minister and the Department for doing something for which he claims he was responsible? Why is he not going to vote against this Estimate when the radical change which he called for has not taken place? As I said at the beginning, it appears that no credit is given for anything prior to 1948, but let us look at it this way. The Minister, and all others in this House, know that any increase that took place in 1949 could not have taken place if nothing had been done prior to 1948, or in the years before. The Minister knows the difficulties about getting lands, the difficulties in preparing and growing the young seedlings and saplings which must grow for three or four years before they are ready for planting. Do not let anyone try to give us the idea that the Coalition, by some secret formula, were able to produce young seedlings of three years' maturity, in less than 12 months. It could not be done and it was not done, and there is no use in Deputy MacBride trying to get away with that idea, nor is there any point in his or anybody else's coming into this House and sneering at the efforts made and the difficulties involved as a result of the emergency. It was said that hatchets were scarce and barbed wire was scarce, and so on. Apparently Deputy MacBride has forgotten that hatchets were scarce, except the type of hatchet which he himself had to grind and which, apparently, has since been buried. It is entirely wrong and unfair to the people in the Department and to the Government and Ministers of those times, that they should be held up to ridicule by a Deputy who now does not seem to stand over what he said less than 12 months ago.

While the rate of planting improved in 1949-50, greater improvement was seen in 1950-51 and still further improvement and a greater rate of progress is recorded for 1951-52. If we wanted to claim something that would not be our due, we could say that the increase in 1951-52 was entirely due to Fianna Fáil, but we realise that there was planting done and that the programme for 1951-52 had, in the main, already been established, and was being carried out when we came into office.

Will the Deputy not agree that more could have been done in the earlier years?

I give the Minister some credit for being fair in his approach to this matter and he is being more fair than some of the others. He has some sense of responsibility, possibly because he knows the obstacles which he encountered in better times. While I possibly agree that more could have been done in earlier years, surely the Minister does not forget that during the emergency we had much more to occupy ourselves with than planting trees.

I do not mean the war years.

I know. He will also agree that in the middle 30's, we were up to our ears in other matters vital to the country and the planting of trees was not being advocated by the Opposition. To be fair all round, it is true to say that, if you take normal times, the Coalition Governments, both present and past, in their five years of office had as much time to plant in that period, when things were normal and new machinery was available, as was possible in Fianna Fáil's period up to 1948.

With regard to the increases in the rate of plantation in 1950-51 and 1951-52, despite the fact that it was Fianna Fáil who were in office when the record plantation of 1951-52 was completed, we will still give credit to the Coalition Government and the then Minister for Lands to the extent that it belongs to them; but let us not forget that, during that period, as we later discovered when we returned to office, the planting that had been done in earlier years had been neglected in the matter of cleaning and thinning. We also found that young trees were no longer being grown by secret formula. The then Coalition Government had been three years in office and the secret formula was used in 1949. Fianna Fáil had been growing them in 1948, 1947 and 1946. The high plantation rate of 1950-51 was brought about by planting young trees that had not reached the stage to which they should be brought before planting and the job done was not a good job.

The Minister will recall that young trees of a nature and age suitable for planting were not available in the numbers necessary for a continuous planting of 15,000 acres during Fianna Fáil's term of office.

I do not think that is correct.

I am putting it to the Minister that it is correct. If the Minister can show that it is incorrect, I will bow to his correction.

Speaking from memory, I think there should have been about 40,000,000 plants in the nurseries for the 1951-52 season strong enough to be planted on the hills.

What was the age?

Three years.

And the species?

You had 40,000,000 for 1951-52?

That is subject to correction. I think I am not far wrong.

And were there not trees younger than the normal age of three years planted during the period of the previous Coalition Government?

Yes, there were.

There were?

Yes, and with no bad results.

No bad results, except this, that there was no advantage to be gained by planting a sapling of a year old. It is no further forward to-day and it is very likely that it is somewhat retarded, than if the same plant had been allowed to reach three years of age before being planted out. The then Government were falling over themselves in trying in some way to do the impossible, which they had promised earlier to Deputy MacBride and other members supporting the then Coalition Government, in 1949, when they talked of a 25,000 acre per annum minimum plantation rate.

That was the reason why it was done and I put it to the Minister that that is what brought that matter about. Immature saplings or young plants were put in. The reason was to try to cover the ground and to say at the end of a particular year: "There you are. We have done a big job this year. Does that not satisfy all those of you who were pushing for an increase in forestry?"

Those things must be taken into consideration and, unfortunately, must be recalled in order to combat the atmosphere that has been created purposely to give the idea to Deputies and to the public outside that Fianna Fáil are the back numbers, in so far as afforestation is concerned. I do not believe that the Minister would agree with that and it is not really to the Minister or of the Minister that I have said what I have said. I say it so that things may be put in proper perspective.

During the past few years, the Forestry Division have had everything necessary to plant more. The Minister has had plenty of money at his disposal. No one will deny that. The unexpended balance is reduced very little this year as against last year. Plenty of money was available. Land was more easily obtained by virtue of the recent legislation for the passage of which we gave every assistance to the Minister. Labour was available in abundance. In addition, since 1948-49, machinery has been available which makes it possible to do work that had been impossible in the draining and cleaning and preparation of land for planting. Despite all these things in favour of the present Minister and Government, no spectacular increase has taken place.

Deputy MacBride quoted figures in regard to the number of men employed in 1948 and the number employed in 1956. The first figure was in the region of 2,000, as being the number employed in 1948. He gave the figure of 5,000 as the number employed in 1956. We are to believe that the Minister brought about that increase in employment since he became Minister for Lands. As the Minister well understands, nothing could be further from the truth.

Ah, now, Deputy.

Does the Minister maintain that there is something that could be further from the truth?

What brought it about, so?

I have already pointed out to the Minister—he did not seem to be aware of it in 1948 to 1951, but he is aware of it now—for every acre that has been planted in preceding years and that is growing, there is a certain amount of labour required for maintenance, caretaking, cleaning, thinning, and so on. No matter how much or how little is planted there is a building-up process year by year. Every year's planting adds to the total amount of work to be done. That is a matter that was not recognised fully from 1948 to 1951, but I would say that it has been recognised from 1954 to 1956.

If the Deputy reads my speech on the Estimate in 1949, he will find practically word for word what he has just said.

Very good. I am not quarrelling with the Minister, but I am saying that nothing is further from the truth than the two figures—2,000 as the number employed in 1948 and 5,000 as the number employed in 1956 —quoted by Deputy MacBride. Those two figures stated baldly in that way, in the context of the speech of Deputy MacBride, are supposed to be further proof to the House and to the people outside that Fianna Fáil were not giving employment in forestry to anything like the extent to which the Minister is giving employment now and that the total increase of 3,000, from 1948 to 1956, is entirely due to the efforts of the last Coalition Government and, presumably, of the present Coalition Government, that it was the increased planting rate which they brought about that resulted in these 3,000 extra workers being employed in the Forestry Division. I am pointing out that, while the extra planting creates some of that employment, the trees that were already planted, in the years when nothing was supposed to have been done, have had more effect on the number employed to-day than the actual increased planting rate, for the reason that, as a result of the introduction of the machinery to which I have referred, the number of labourers required was reduced and men were replaced by that modern machinery.

The fact that the employment figure continues to rise is a tribute, not to the work being done at present, but to the work done in the past and which requires, down through the years, until it reaches maturity, care and attention.

In spite of the plentifulness of money during the past year, the plentifulness of land and the availability of all the labour that is required and more and, in addition, the availability of modern machinery that can do the job where it could not be done at all in regard to drainage and cleaning, we have had no spectacular increase in the planting rate. Again, I want to ask Deputy MacBride whether he is going to stand by the ultimatum he gave the Minister last year that if there was no spectacular increase, he would on the occasion of the present Estimate vote against it.

From listening to Deputy MacBride and others, one would think that Fianna Fáil did nothing and that even in their last period of office, they did not push ahead with forestry. In that regard, even the Minister himself in his statement also gave one that impression when he talked about the increase in the planting rate in 1948-49, the rise in 1949-50, a further rise in 1950-51 and an all-time high in 1951-52. All this was apparently the result of the efforts of the Coalition Government, or did they call it the inter-Party Government? Anyhow, it does not matter. It is the same policy, inter-Party or Coalition, that is now being held up as the saviour of the forestry programme and as the means by which the planting rate was attained.

One would think that Fianna Fáil were lacking in any interest in forestry. If they knew and cared so little about it, as one would be given to understand was the case prior to 1948, it is altogether amazing that there were any trees planted in 1952-53 or 1953-54 and any land available for the Minister when he resumed office in 1954-55 and 1955-56. Despite that, the land was there and land was planted during 1953-54 and 1954-55, and the present Minister and Government had available to them, when they came back into office, sufficient land to give them all they could do in 1954-55 and all they can do in 1955-56.

Now with two years behind the present Government and with all the advantages I have enumerated, we do not see this radical change or this spectacular rise which we were given to understand was just around the corner and only interrupted because of the advent of the Fianna Fáil Government in 1951. If we can clear that sort of humbug out of this House, it will be all the better for forestry. The little seedlings down the country will grow better if the air of this House is cleared of that rubbish. On every possible occasion that forestry is discussed in this House, we have an atmosphere created which, if it surrounded the young trees, would prevent them from growing.

They will not know it is going on.

I wonder.

They will not.

They were choked up during the previous period of the Coalition, and they remained so until we came into office. They have since recovered, and may now be doing well, and all I wish is that they do better. I am endeavouring to clear the air of the pollution which is created on every occasion that forestry is discussed. There are a few things I want to ask the Minister about, outside general policy. Is preference given in employment to ex-servicemen? I feel that it was the idea and the wish of the predecessors of the present Minister that that should be the case and I feel that the present Minister would not be averse to giving that preference.

That rule has not been changed. They get preference, consistent with their suitability.

That is all to the good. While the rule may not have been changed in the Department, I should like to ask the Minister to look into the manner in which it is being observed. I do not want to weary the House, but I could give the Minister a few glaring examples where there is no question of suitability of the men in question and where they have not been getting even a fair share of the work going. I am not going to spend any more time on that. It suffices to know that the Minister has not changed and the Department have not changed the outlook in regard to the employment of these men and that ex-servicemen, provided they are suitable, will get preference. I will not deal further with that matter, beyond saying that I will take up the question direct in regard to the individual cases I have in mind who are not getting a fair "do" in this matter.

There is another matter which I mentioned to the Minister on another occasion. It concerns the question of a further nursery centre in County Donegal. I again want to bring this to his notice, lest for any reason, in deciding upon another centre, that which I have been advocating may be forgotten. In the Milford district of North West Donegal, lands have been acquired and some recent planting done and further lands are being negotiated for at the moment. Much more land is still there to be tapped when the time comes.

The Donegal Vocational Committee are at the moment in the process of completing a new school. Surrounding and adjoining the school is land which we, as a vocational committee in Donegal, hope to take over with a view to having forestry taught in that school. We feel that in order to get any benefits from this, there should be full co-operation between the Forestry Department and the vocational committee and that we should try to get a programme worked out between the two bodies in order to get in the future in that district personnel who will have some knowledge of their job and be suitable as a result of their education in that school and in the adjoining experimental plot. We are thinking of manning any nursery and helping in the furtherance of forestry in the district. Milford school is in the centre of the area in which the Minister's Department have been purchasing land and in which some land has been planted.

I would discuss that suggestion with the vocational people at any time.

I have been in touch with the Minister's Department on this matter, but the only reason I raise the matter now is the fear that, if any new centres are under consideration, the facts in regard to this matter would not be properly known. In regard to ideas the Minister and his Department may have of a further nursery in that part of the county the scheme of our vocational committee in conjunction with the new school should be given full consideration. It would be a very good job from both points of view.

I wonder is the Minister in agreement with the planting programme which has been started in the Glenamoy region of County Mayo, where, I think, the planting has been started as a substitute for the grass meal project which was closed down. Is it a fact that at present young trees are being planted with very scant regard to giving them a fair start in life, so to speak? Is it true that young trees are being shoved down in a rough and ready sort of way? If there is any truth in that, as this is more or less an experiment and the trees are being set on practically virgin bog, is it not very wrong to take any chances whatever with the manner in which the planting is carried out? If the experiment is not to be doomed to predetermined and possibly wilful failure, it is necessary that this matter should be looked into at the earliest possible moment.

The reason I feel the Minister may be able to give us some information on this matter right off the reel is that I believe he has visited that experimental plot in the very recent past. If it was not he, it was somebody very like him who paid a visit there some time ago. Whether or not at the time of his visit there was any planting going on, I cannot say, but I have been given to understand that, since the last occassion on which I spoke of the matter and more or less challenged him and his colleagues that I knew more about Glenamoy projects, both from the forestry and grass meal point of view that he and his colleagues did, he has visited the area. I am glad to know that he accepted the challenge, that it did not go unanswered and that he visited that area himself to see what had been done. What I would like to know now is if what it is alleged was being done was, in fact, done in the way I describe. If these young trees are being planted in this virgin bog as an experiment, surely, in order that they may have some hope of success and provide a true indication of the prospects of the scheme, the greatest possible care and attention and preparation should be a fundamental consideration in planting these trees.

If I might interrupt, every care is taken to make a success of this project and, not alone that, but the planting being carried out at Glenamoy is benefiting by the experience gained at Nephin Beg and Cloosh in County Galway, areas which are very similar.

All I want the Minister to be satisfied about is that these young trees are not being shoved in in a manner which is not conducive to their future well-being and that they may be given every chance of thriving in the initial stages.

So they will.

So long as the Minister satisfies himself on the matter, I am quite happy. With the exception of the line adopted by Deputy MacBride and supported in some ways by other speakers, the general trend of the debate here is that everybody in the House is now agreed that forestry is one thing of which we cannot have enough and which we cannot have quickly enough. We are all at one now in supporting and advocating a continuously expanding planting programme. In fact, some people are now jumping ahead of the bandwagon and are wondering what is to be done when we get to the 25,000 acres per year. I know what I would say to those people elsewhere, but I shall not say it here. It does seem strange to find people now tripping over themselves, anticipating what we must do when we reach the 25,000 acres target and worrying in case we might stop or remain static with an annual plantation rate of 25,000 acres. They want to know if we are to continue going ahead, or is there danger that we might slip back. To those people I would say: "You have nothing to worry about in regard to that time yet. That is something that might be put on the Coalition long finger for about five years and it will not hurt a bit".

As I have said, all of us are at one in regard to forestry now and it is an amazing thing to find such an astonishing change of heart on the part of people who at one time had no enthusiasm so far as forestry was concerned, but who are now loudest in their declarations of allegiance to this policy and who try to push themselves further into the limelight in regard to projects which are now generally accepted, as they have at last found out. Not only that, but they try to convey that they were the very people in the past who believed in these things, the people who initiated them and without whom nothing at all would have been done. This was the sort of thing that we have had to listen to recently.

If we were to take the whole of the coastline right down from Donegal to Cork—and we need not confine ourselves to the coastline; we can go quite deep into the heart of the country along that line—we would find that these are the parts of the country where we should expand the planting programme. I know the Minister is at one with me in that. If the programme we are now promised materialises, and if there is to be a gradual expansion at the rate of 2,500 acres a year, I would appeal again to the Minister to ensure that this increase is confined to the western counties. I may say that I am not in any way reflecting on the needs of other parts of the country, but what I wish to do is to re-emphasise the absolutely dire need that exists to-day in the congested areas. The Minister knows the facts relating to these areas as well as I do. We are not asking for anything unreasonable. If there were to be no increase in the rate of planting and if we were asking for more planting to be done in the West, then what we would ask would be that the planting rate elsewhere would be reduced. As we are to have an increase, it is possible to go ahead with what is going on elsewhere and keep the increase in the congested areas, without reducing the planting rate elsewhere.

I feel that the Minister likes to be pushed in this direction. I know that he knows the circumstances in the area concerned as well as I do and I want to make it clear to the other members of the House, who may not be familiar with those regions, that it is not just a desire on our part to have planting in those areas—it is a dire necessity, and becoming more of a necessity every day. I am not saying this for any reason of propaganda, but more houses have been closed permanently and more families have emigrated from my part of the county, from the west and the north-west portions of my county, in the past two or three years than in the previous two decades. It is not unusual at all now to go into the townlands, which, in the past, were thriving areas, vibrant with life, and to find up to seven or eight houses padlocked, the windows boarded up and no sign of chick or child about the place.

That is not peculiar to the area I come from. It is a picture typical of the whole western region, and, as others have said, and as I have said before and as the Minister himself agrees, we can definitely do something for these counties through afforestation. It can be done and, in doing it, we are taking no chances. In doing it, we are backing a certainty, once we have acquired the land and planted the trees there. We should not be put off from that by any other considerations. If we are to keep alive the people of that part of the country, if we are to keep alive their traditions, their language, their culture and all that goes with it, it is absolutely essential that something should be done, and here in this Vote and in this Department, the Minister has in his hands the power to do more for them, with a certainty of success, than, with all due respect to them, any other Ministers or other Departments can do.

The Deputy has mentioned people closing their houses, but it is next to impossible to get the land from those people. They close up their houses and move up here to Dublin or go over to England, but they will not sell their land to the Forestry Division.

I can appreciate that, despite the new legislation, the Minister has difficulties in regard to the acquisition of land. But if the responsible officials of his Department are really anxious to get land, they can get more land than is being got at the moment, and they can get it in the very regions I am talking about. As an indication of my belief in this and of my goodwill, I will be prepared at any time to spend a day, a week or, for that matter, a month, provided it is not in consecutive days, helping out any of the Minister's officials who come to that part of the country looking for land. I believe I could help, the same as other Deputies and other public men could help.

We know the intimate details of what is going on in many of these places. We know the peculiar approach that is necessary in some cases to get land in a particular district. If the forestry man goes to the wrong person first in a district, he may well find that by knocking on the first door he meets, it is the last door he will knock at as far as getting land in that district is concerned. But if he can get the right man to say "yes" first and accompany him in the locality, the others may well respect the opinion of the first man—the man I indicated as the right man, who may be found in most districts. Having got that right man with him, half the battle is won.

The trouble with the forestry expert is that he is an official and is a stranger in the district. He cannot possibly be aware of these circumstances. He cannot know what is the best approach. His is the ordinary business approach, but very often that is not the way to get what you want. Help can be given in that direction, and I am not the only one who can give it. There is not a Deputy, a county councillor or a clergyman of any denomination in any part of my constituency but will be only too glad to advise and help any forestry official who may come to the county seeking land for afforestation. All of us believe and are convinced that this is something that can be done, that should be done, and, we hope, that will be done in the future for the people of the western seaboard.

Much money has been spent in other directions in these areas. Much money is available there for the extension and provision of new factories and new industries. Some of that money has been availed of, and more of it will be availed of in the future, in putting up new factories in order to give employment; but what is forgotten is that in practically every case where such factories are built and, for that matter, in the case of any factory being built, the danger of its not being a success is much more present than it can be in the case of afforestation. As far as factory building and manufacturing in the West and in the congested districts are concerned, in many instances, very real dangers and risks are being taken in establishing those factories at all; but despite that, they are being established, and this Government is prepared and previous Governments were prepared to give them money in order to encourage their establishment.

Since we have the Government handing out money to encourage people to take risks they would not normally take in establishing these industries in the West, why should there be this niggardly approach in regard to afforestation? Why should there be any quibbling in regard to the price of land being acquired? I am sure he did not realise what he was saying at the time, but in reply to a question from a Deputy last night, I heard the Minister say there was never any disagreement between his Department and the vendor on the question of the acquisition of land. If the Minister really meant that, then, without question, he would get all the land he requires from Malin Head in Donegal right down to Cork. His statement implied that there was no disagreement over price. If there is no disagreement, it means that the person selling the land gets the money he asks for. That is absolutely ridiculous, because they never do, nor do they get within miles of what they ask.

It would be more ridiculous if they got what they asked.

I am only pointing out that in his reply the Minister, consciously or otherwise, gave the impression that no difference of opinion ever arises in regard to land acquired by the Forestry Department. That could not possibly be right. I am glad the Parliamentary Secretary can see it would be even more ridiculous if the statement were correct. I am only pointing out that, if it were correct, there would be no difficulty at all. But somewhere between the ridiculous situation which would arise if they got all they asked for and the present situation in which they get very much less than the land is worth, I believe there must be a happy medium, and if we could strike that happy medium, I believe we would make much greater progress in a much shorter time in these regions.

Therefore, I appeal again to the Minister. In doing so, I feel I would be helping him in his fight with his Cabinet members to try to get more money for this job and a higher price per acre allowed. In criticising him on this matter, I feel I am doing so but to help him. If we are to get more land and if the aim of planting an ever-increasing acreage in the western regions is being retarded because of the lack of land or the difficulty in acquiring it, there is only one answer and it is that we must pay more for it. In the end, it means the Minister will have to get permission from his Cabinet to agree to a higher average rate per acre. That should be agreed, even though in the opinion of the forestry experts we may be, from an economic point of view, paying too much for the land and by increasing it we will be paying that much more.

Other Departments are prepared to sink money in very chancy ventures in regard to manufacture and industry in the West. If they are prepared to take these chances, and if the Government is prepared to back them, there is no reason whatever why a chance should not be taken in regard to afforestation. More money should be shoved into it, because it is the one thing that has a certainty of success in the West. It is sure to give a very high rate of employment for the money spent and will, we hope, be the means of bringing about a lessening of the unemployment that exists at the moment and damming of the emigration flow. It is hoped it will also bring about a reopening of some of the homes now closed up in those areas, that it will bring back the families to those homes that not so very long ago were happy homes, homes full of life. The Minister is aware of those matters just as I am. I want him to set about getting the land. If there are difficulties about getting enough the only answer is to get more money from the Government to do this most necessary work. If the Minister does that, it does not matter whether Deputy MacBride votes against him or not, because if he does what I am asking him on the lines I suggest, he will not miss Deputy MacBride's support.

There is plenty of capital in timber without trying to make political capital out of it. Wicklow, which 30 years ago was one of the most miserable and poorest counties, has now been made very prosperous through the planting of trees. There are now at least 1,000,000 trees planted in Wicklow which may be worth £1,000,000. Again, 30 years ago we had only a few thousand sheep grazing the scanty and poor herbiage. Now Wicklow is a hive of industry. Now we see the prospect of further sawmills, of charcoal kilns, of wood pulp factories.

It seems out of reason that the timber from Wicklow should be brought to Athy. It would be much better if we had a factory on the spot. With the further development of native timber, we hope to achieve that desire. There is probably not enough attention paid to the treatment of timber. We have arrived at the stage when the Department should get busy with the thinning of forests and the lopping of branches. In Norway and Finland, every tree left standing after thinning has all its branches removed except at the top. If branches are removed, there are fewer knots.

A standard of timber costs £200 and, up to a couple of years ago at any rate, our annual imports of timber amounted to about £10,000,000. Accordingly, with the proper treatment of native timber, we should be able to make a very big contribution to our balance of payments position. In our damp climate, natural seasoning is not very practicable and unless the water content is brought down quickly to a certain level, staining and rot set in. Quite a lot of timber is left, for one reason or another, possibly mainly due to the involved set-up in the Department, along the roads for considerable periods. Poles and timber of various other sorts are left lying too long. That timber must depreciate. By the time contact is made with the Department and an effort is made to move the timber, it is useless and not even very good for fencing.

All the big guns have had their say, so that there is not very much left for me to speak about, except perhaps to say that we are quite content in Wicklow with the rate of employment in afforestation. There are over 5,000 employed in this work throughout the country and out of that number Wicklow has 850. As I said at the beginning, I think we should all co-operate to make forestry a greater success than it is and we should stop trying to make political capital out of it.

In facing a forestry programme, just as in every other line of progress, when we got charge of our affairs in part of this country, we had to meet a lot of ill-informed prejudice. Forestry was one such case and the public mind had to be attuned to the fact that we could grow trees here. We had lamentations in song and story. "Cad a dhéanfaimíd feasta gan adhmaid; tá deire na coillte ar lár". In the public mind, there were lamentations over the position and a prejudice that useful timber could not be grown in this country.

Notwithstanding our history and the place names that assured us this land was well forested in years gone by, it was thought that the demesnes from which the peasantry had been cleared were the only places where trees could usefully be planted. It had one good result, that a certain amount of forest land was built up in that way. But if you go into one of these demesnes to get a site for a cottage or a rural house, you will find you are impeded by big walls and the marginal plantings of years gone by.

These places were planted, but the country in general was neglected to the extent that people said there was no use in trying, that trees could not profitably be grown. If one travels through the West, particularly, one is appalled by the amount of barren land which, to any person, would seem most suitable for afforestation and about which nothing or very little has been done. One can travel through wide areas and over many miles without seeing any worthwhile growth of trees.

In many places cutting was not done in a small way and, as some Deputies have mentioned here to-day, our roadsides, the avenues for the removal of timber, were left bare, growing furze and gorse instead of being planted. Before the first World War, when these places did grow trees in abundance, there were none of these barriers to planting, whoever planted them in days gone by. There was no wiring in or anything of that kind. Surely in every pioneering effort you must expect some measure of losses. You must take a chance and hope that the results will be fruitful. In many of these places, particularly when rabbits are not the meanace they used to be to young trees, an effort should be made to localise activities. Every encouragement should be given to organisations such as that which has for its motto "Trees for Ireland" to localise afforestation and not leave everything to the Forestry Branch which must look after the bigger schemes and which, owing to staffing problems, has not the time, the opportunity or perhaps the local support to give these small schemes any attention.

I would support very strongly the effort of a county council having a nursery of its own from which trees would be available for people at a nominal cost. I would also support what Deputy Blaney said about pilot nurseries along the west coast from Cork to Donegal to see what could be done there and what species of timber would suit the particular areas. We have all seen places where the salt laden storms of the Atlantic would kill the fringe of any forest too near the coast. There has to be a certain amount of shelter and protection for new forests, but there are wide regions far enough removed from the dangers of these sea storms where forestry could be promoted along lands which are not suitable for anything else.

I would support Deputy Flynn and other members in what they have said about the price being paid for land for forestry. We are told that £6 is the average price paid. That is a very small and miserable figure. A man who cannot hope to make £6 profit out of an acre of land in a reasonable number of years must have very poor prospects and his industry and resources must be very limited. We all know that the return from forestry is slow, that it takes a number of years before there is any worthwhile production that will bring in any return for the labour and expense incurred. Nevertheless, it is a national asset of an unlimited kind and you cannot estimate what, in time, the return would be from forestry. At the same time, it is an essential national asset which is needed for many industries and in many spheres of life to meet our requirements if we are to avoid importing timber from afar. In this rather mild and humid climate, the timber might not be suitable for certain things without specialised treatment, but surely it is part of the work of the Forestry Branch to provide for all these things, and, as has been said, to get information from other lands, to use it to the best advantage and to develop our own timber, so that it may be used for our main needs.

We must train the public mind and encourage people locally to pay attention to the extension of forestry, particularly in the smaller areas. I would ask the Minister to decentralise his efforts as far as he can and to get the support of the county councils or local organisations that are willing to assist him. Every encouragement should be given not only to extra planting but also to the preservation of what has already been planted. It is tragic to read sometimes that the results of many years of toil and of years of growth of trees are ruined in one afternoon by people's carelessness which causes disastrous fires in our forestry regions. We should have instilled into the minds of people the danger of lighting fires near these regions or perhaps throwing away lighted matches carelessly, and so on, which may cause this vast destruction.

Apart from forestry being a national asset in itself, it also gives employment. Every avenue of gainful employment should be explored to try to stem the tide of emigration, and forestry is one of them. This is a part-time occupation in some places where smallholders and others may gain something extra from casual labour that might make their homes happier and lead to more productivity in their own areas.

Targets are there to be hit. There is no use in lamenting what was done or was not done at one time or another. That will not help us at all. We must take the position as it is and recognise the difficulties that are there. We ought to go ahead and do what we can, plan wisely, and get what land is available for this good purpose with the goodwill of the people concerned. We should localise what we are doing in the various counties and we should not be pushing it all the time in the East or the West. We should extend our forestry programme throughout the whole country and in that way we will get the nation more readily to appreciate what is at stake in this effort.

It behoves all of us to do what we can in that regard. Criticism is, at times, very helpful indeed. We should not, any of us, be hurt if we are criticised for doing things or for not doing things that should have been done. There were many problems facing the people of this country when we got the measure of freedom that we have for this part of our nation. It took some time to educate the people to a consciousness of the problems to be faced. We are now in a position where much more can be done for afforestation and for the providing of timber of various kinds that would be useful here for wood pulp and other industries of that kind. Every avenue should be explored to find out what new species of timber we can grow and what use we could put it to.

I read one time of the people of Scotland who, when railways were being expanded, grew certain types of timber to provide the sleepers for those railways. They grew the species of trees that were required for national expansion. In this country we ought to do the same. Sometimes we hear complaints that, on account of the soft nature of our climate, timber is liable to warp in certain types of building. All that problem should be explored, and the methods used, and the skill employed in other countries, should be taken advantage of here. The first thing is the growing of the timber and the providing of the species required for our own needs in order to build up our economy and to help in meeting the balance of payments.

I should like, at the outset, to compliment the Minister and his staff, both indoor and outdoor, on the work they are doing to increase the area of forestry. The Minister, in his opening speech, dealt with the many problems with which he and his officials are confronted. That speech was a complete answer to his many critics. It was backed by sound technical advice because the Minister has at his disposal some very well trained men, some very competent men, men who possess high technical knowledge. It was quite evident from the Minister's speech that he is backed by keen technical knowledge and advice. I suggest to Deputies, particularly those from rural areas, who are interested in forestry, that they should read and study that speech and, if they do so, they will find in it some very useful information.

The Deputies who have spoken up to the present have been very reasonable in their approach to this whole question of the forestry drive. I should like to make a few comments without, as far as possible, repeating what has been said already. I regret to say that in North Mayo we are lagging behind a good deal in this matter of forestry. In recent times, we have made some progress; we have had some new centres opened; and anything that comes our way in that regard, and the sooner the better, we will appreciate it. We have got off to a late start in spite of the fact that, in North Mayo, and along the western seaboard generally, afforestation should be driven ahead.

It is my experience that for a long number of years it was very difficult to acquire land for forestry purposes. When the war intervened, the prices of cattle and sheep and other produce of the land reached a very high level. Farmers who, in the ordinary way, would be inclined to give up their lands for forestry purposes refrained from doing so, for the reason that they were able to make, even on the poorer lands, extra money. It paid them better to produce cattle, sheep and other stock than to give up their land for forestry and that made it very difficult for the Forestry Department to get hold of land.

That trend seems to be changing somewhat now when prices have fallen in recent times. I believe that, if that trend continues, we will have more and more land coming into the forestry pool. Deputy Derrig seemed to express the view that the ratio recognised by the Forestry Department of a pool of three times the plantable area of land proposed to be planted was not up to the mark. If that pool was not up to the mark, I think we can afford to be a bit optimistic for two main reasons. First, there is a fall in the price of farm produce, sheep and cattle; secondly, the Minister passed a Bill here this year for the purpose of clearing up commonage titles thereby making it possible for the Department of Lands to deal with people whose titles were perhaps a bit doubtful. I am not afraid, therefore, that we shall run short of land for some considerable time to come. I believe there will be a good intake of land for many years and the figures given by the Minister seem to indicate that that will be the position, generally speaking.

It is my experience that when people offer land to the Forestry Division, sometimes quite considerable acreages, there is a long delay between the time the offer is made and the acquisition officer's call on the individual concerned. People may be very enthusiastic about selling land to the Forestry Division for a time but, if they find that, having offered the land, there is a delay of six or 12 months before the acquisition officer calls, the enthusiasm wanes and it may become much more difficult then to acquire the land. I would ask the Minister to take any steps necessary to ensure that when holdings are offered to the Forestry Division they are visited as early as possible. I also appeal to him for a little more generosity in the matter of price. I know that there is a tendency in the sale of any commodity to ask a much higher price than the vendor hopes to get. Bargaining then comes into the picture and the vendor drives as tight a bargain as he can. One can hardly blame people for that, but I would still like to see greater speed in the acquisition of these lands. If necessary, more acquisition officers could be appointed. None of us wants to be niggardly in this matter.

Above all, let us have the land because, without the land, we cannot hope to plant the trees. Let us know in advance what the land potential is. Such knowledge would be a source of encouragement to the technical staffs because they could then set about the work of providing the seedlings and all the other requisites essential to progress in the forestry drive.

I know of offers of land made in the past three and, in a few cases, in the past five or six months in Ballycroy, Achill, parts of the Erris townland, Ballycastle in North Mayo and my own area of Foxford; nobody has come to call on these people yet. In my opinion these areas are ideal for afforestation. Deputy Derrig mentioned Ballycastle last night. I think he said there was an area of 6,000 acres there. I was speaking to our forestry acquisition officer some time ago and he told me that that area was ideal for forestry purposes. Deputy Derrig seemed to be a bit in doubt about that, but my information is up to date. There is no afforestation there at the moment. I think it a shame that such delays should occur in the acquisition of land for forestry purposes, remembering the many small uneconomic holders living in Ballycastle and the surrounding areas.

There is room for considerable expansion there. More acquisition officers should be appointed to deal more expeditiously with offers of land. The services of Mr. Roy Cameron were sought some years ago by the Government of the day. He is a man of high repute and the nation is indebted to him for his very exhaustive survey and his report. He advised that we establish a social scheme of forestry. He suggested we should be less conservative in our outlook in relation to forestry and that we should not be too worried about the economics of it, at least for the present. He appreciated our problem, a problem to which reference has been made by Deputy Blaney and others; Deputy Blaney told us about people locking their doors and going across to England, America and elsewhere to earn a living. Deputy Blaney told us that some townlands have ceased to be inhabited. We all know how bad that is for the nation. Indeed, it is impossible to estimate its repercussions.

Mr. Cameron advised us not to worry too much about economics or getting a quick return. Where the land is poor and the areas are congested, he suggested we should plant an inferior type of tree and, with the passage of time, in 50 or 60 years hence, a condition would be created in the soil which would enable us to grow a better quality tree. He emphasised that in that way we would be able to provide employment for our uneconomic holders instead of paying unemployment assistance or having our people emigrate in order to make a living for themselves and their families. Afforestation on the lines he suggested would provide these people with a weekly cash income, the cash income so necessary if we are to keep these homesteads in these areas. But these people have heard so much about plans and schemes, and one thing and another, in the past that they are very slow to believe that anything will be done for them by a native Government.

The Minister has the goodwill of the House with regard to this forestry drive. I am sure he will get every help and encouragement he requires. I would urge him to embark as soon as possible on a bold scheme of forestry such as Mr. Cameron suggested and try it out in County Mayo, where there is the poorest land in this country from which the majority of our people have emigrated, and from which many others are emigrating to Enland and America. That has the effect of breaking the community life at home and reducing the attendance at schools so that some are closing down altogether, while in others there may be perhaps four or five pupils. Is it not as well for the Government to realise and appreciate that this draining of the life-blood of the nation cannot continue indefinitely? A lot has been said recently here about the alarm and regret which the recently published census figures give rise to. I am convinced that the present Minister can do a great deal to help to arrest the drain and to encourage people to settle down in Ireland and get married, as they will if they have a guaranteed cash income.

Deputy Blaney mentioned the acquisition of land from some small-holders who are huddled together. Some holdings are so small that it is almost impossible to acquire any sizable acreage of land for them in order to do something worth while. Many people live on holdings as small as three or four acres and there may even be ten or 15 such holdings in a village. The area of land available in such an area is so small that the problem is quite difficult. If employment could be found for those people three or four miles away, I believe they would be prepared to cycle or to avail of other means of transport to go to their work there and that they would be glad to get it. Therefore, I urge the Minister to take a bold step forward in relation to the advice given to him by one of the foremost experts on that social forestry scheme. It is well worth trying out the experiment for the reasons which I have given.

The Minister mentioned that the diversion of manpower from agriculture to forestry could be dangerous. I know it could. However, we must bear in mind that at the present time we have only reached a total of 5,250 persons employed at forestry. Therefore, I think there is no need for alarm in that regard. The Minister need not be one bit afraid that, at the present rate of going, or even when we reach the 25,000-acre mark, we will divert thousands of persons from agriculture to forestry.

Agriculture is a very important industry. We cannot afford to do without manpower for it. However, there is no need at all to get alarmed on that score because no emergency conditions are prevailing there. There is not the slightest danger that there will be a swing left and right which will upset the balance of our agricultural economy as a result of any activities on the part of the forestry people.

I appreciate that it is very easy to criticise former Governments for their failure to plant more acres of land but personally I think more could have been done and that view seems to be shared by others. It is regrettable that more was not done many years ago in the light of present timber prices. As a businessman, I remember a time when Swedish and Finnish timber could be purchased very cheaply in this country. I always thought it was bad business to import that timber but, due to low wage rates in foreign countries at that time as well as low freight charges, that foreign timber of the highest quality, in the main Swedish timber—I often used it— could be dumped here at a very low price. No doubt the Government of the day kept all those factors in mind and examined the position in the light of the circumstances prevailing. In all probability they decided that, while high quality timber could be purchased at low prices, it might be bad business to expand forestry here. However, times have changed. The war intervened. After a few years, timber was unobtainable or, at best, very scarce, so much so that housing drives were held up as well as the building of hospitals and other such necessary buildings.

It was at that point that we really appreciated the value and importance of native grown timber in our economy. To my own knowledge, timber importers had to send money to Sweden two years in advance of getting a plank of timber from them. Other countries were looking for supplies as well. There was such a waiting list that, as I say, timber importers in this country had to deposit their money with Swedish firms and firms in other countries for a long period before a plank could be delivered to their firms. That taught us a lesson which we should never forget. There is one safe rule in regard to the forestry programme and that is to move ahead as quickly as possible with a view to providing our own requirements so that in times of emergency we shall not have to depend on supplies from abroad.

Deputy MacCarthy seemed to have some doubt about the quality of our timber and our method of processing it. It is a well-known fact that our native timber, which is now being processed and sold by our timber merchants or from the various forest centres, is equal to, if not better than, any timber in the world. The day has gone when we cut the tree in the wood and put it into the roof of a house right away. Native timber can now be purchased which is equal to anything in the world, due to modern processing methods. It has a lower water content and that is a happy advance, if we had sufficient timber to meet our requirements. I appreciate too, that it has not been an easy task for a country such as ours to train the necessary staffs in a hurry and to equip them with the necessary technical knowledge to carry out their duties properly. Quite apart from the knowledge they gain in colleges, universities and schools, there is a practical side to the work and conditions here are not like those in Sweden, Finland and other countries, which are world famous for growing timber. All of these factors have to be taken into consideration in any approach to a forestry drive.

In my opinion, our technical men have erred on the conservative side. They have been over-cautious; they have felt that when public money was being spent, it should be well spent so that at a later date they would not be held up to public ridicule and odium because they advised any Minister to take a wrong course. That is the kind of advice you will get from men who are interested in their work and who are sincere in giving the best possible advice. I think the Minister should bear in mind that it is the same with the doctor or the veterinary surgeon. These people are always inclined to err on the conservative side. You have a cold and spend a few days in bed and then feel fit, but the doctor will tell you to stay on in bed for a few days more. He is quite right and does not want to take any blame. Experts will advise a Minister to be cautious. They will say: "Here is the fault; therein lies the danger." There is no use in forestry experts saying, when it is too late: "We could have told you that ten years ago, but we did not bother to do so."

It is a well-known fact that trees can be planted on certain soils or in certain areas, and for five, eight or ten years they will do well and then a sudden change sets in, and you may have a complete failure and a complete disaster. That is something I should not like to see happening in this country and I do not think it is likely to happen with our present technical advisers and technical advice. I appeal to the Minister to realise that these people always err on the conservative side and to have more courage in pushing ahead, while not ignoring their advice, and he will be pardoned if failures occur from time to time.

The number of men employed in forestry nurseries is down slightly due, I believe, to a new weed killer. The figures are not of great significance and I suggest that even though there are fewer people employed in that activity, it is easy to find employment for such men in other spheres of activity in the Department. I do not like to see men who are prepared to work with us, in all weathers and in all conditions, being laid off. The Forestry Division should try as far as possible to give regular and full time employment to those who have gained knowledge and skill in forestry work.

Deputy Derrig said last night that experts had told him that growth on bogland would be very slow. We now have the opportunity of carrying out experiments to find out if that is correct. It seems to have been the advice of technical people attached to the Forestry Department that that was so, and at Glenamoy, in North Mayo, we have experiments being carried out at present by the forestry people. With the passing of time, no doubt, a lot of useful information will be complied and these small trees will be watched very closely. It will tend to give both the Forestry Division and the country a lot of useful information. If it transpires, at a later date, and the Minister seems to be very optimistic, that these lands are found suitable for the planting of trees, it will be a great asset to the country because we have such a considerable acreage of this type of land that something will have to be done about it. Such land is almost useless from the point of view of agriculture, or for raising cattle or sheep, and if we could utilise it for planting, it would be a great step forward.

I am very glad that the Minister— who is a Mayo man himself—saw fit to carry out these tests in the most remote part of Ireland. I do not know if Deputy Tully has ever been in Glenamoy, but I am sure he will agree that it is one of the most remote parts of the country. He has a very cosy spot himself, the plains of Meath, and perhaps he does not fully appreciate the problem of such people.

We saw enough of them.

Yes, we know you saw them and I think you will agree that any you saw were very progressive and hardworking people, but let me remind the Deputy that, if we had such schemes in the West of Ireland, he would, in all probability, see less of them.

And other schemes as well.

And other schemes as well, I agree. The Minister referred to pitprops and said that exports had started again. My own view is that that is not a good line of business at all. I am not one bit enthusiastic about the export of pitprops to a foreign country. I would much prefer to see the timber processed here for some other purposes. In the export of pitprops, transport costs eat up most of the profit. I suggest that the Minister should forget about that line of business, except where there is some timber on hands that cannot be used for any other purpose, because, as I have said, the money is swallowed up in transport costs from some of which our own people do not benefit in any way. Although I have no technical knowledge, I recommend that the Minister should devise some other system of processing that timber in Ireland which would create employment for our own people.

The question of the price of land has been referred to by most Deputies. I agree that the price being paid by the Forestry Division could be much more generous. We should not be so niggardly in making a deal with the owners of land suitable for forestry purposes.

Private planters who avail of the grant from the Forestry Division should be given more favourable consideration. The present grant is £10 an acre. That should be doubled. No matter what the State does, and it is doing a great deal, particularly at the present time, in increasing the acreage, individual effort is most important. If private individuals were given the opportunity, the means and the technical advice from forestry experts, it would be the best means of expanding forestry. I do not know of anybody availing of that scheme at the present time. There may be people availing of it, but I have certainly never heard of anybody availing of it in my part of the country. Despite the changing times and changing values of money, nothing has been done as long as I can remember to increase the amount of the grant. If we want progress, we must gear our machine for progress. A Minister, no matter who he may be, who ignores individual effort and private enterprise is not doing the right thing. That point has been pressed home by other Deputies. I seriously suggest that the Minister should do something about that, that it is not fair to ignore the fact that wages have increased and to ignore the importance of this aspect of forestry.

There are certain periods of the year when people who live in remote areas have very little to do; their holdings are so small that they are unemployed. If such people could plant even an acre a year and if there were hundreds of people doing that over a long number of years, the gap could be bridged and the stage would be reached where we would have our own requirements of timber; we would be heading towards the goal we are all aiming for. The Minister should take action in this matter. He should explore the possibilities of that scheme and make available to private planters the best technical advice at his disposal. He should propagandise through the radio and the Press and through every other means possible the importance of individual small holders doing a little bit of forestry work every year, so as to bring the area of land under timber nearer to our requirements.

The question of forest fires has been dealt with by other Deputies. Forest fires are a matter for regret. Annually, when gorse and other growth in forest centres is withered or about to wither, the Forestry Division issue warnings about the necessity to be careful about lighted cigarette ends, picnic fires and so on. A great deal could be done on certain set days, such as holidays, when people from the cities and towns move out in their thousands to places in the vicinity of forests, if Garda squad cars with loud speakers were to patrol the district. It would cost a few pounds, but these Gardaí seem to be moving around in the squad cars occasionally and it would be merely a case of taking the road to the left instead of to the right. When they find a few hundred or a few thousand people in the vicinity of a forest, they could warn the people to be careful not to cause a fire. We need to bring the warnings up to date. People may have read a warning in the previous week's newspaper but people have a tendency to forget. They should not be allowed to forget. Damage to the extent of a few thousand pounds has been caused in the last year. The provision of a squad car with loud speakers from which Gardaí could warn people about this matter would pay dividends. It is another approach to the question of warning the people of the dangers in forest fires which destroy some of our very best forests.

Somebody said that a lot of this goes back to the school and the training of children in the schools. I believe the teachers could help more in this connection. They should warn the children of the danger of lighting matches. The support of the clergy should also be enlisted at certain times of the year in all the churches throughout the length and breadth of the land. The clergy should warn our people of the dangers of forest fires. If they did, it would have very beneficial results.

I appeal to the Minister to step up acquisition in Mayo. We have been waiting a long time for the inspector to call. Let me not be taken as reflecting on the man who does the work. I do not expect him to make several parts of himself. He has too great an area to cover. It is absolutely impossible for him to cover all the areas allocated to him in Galway, Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim. It would be a physical impossibility for him to cover this extensive area. He has been working under considerable difficulties for a long time and it is not fair. I have seen him on the roads as late as nine and ten o'clock at night. It is unreasonable that the acquisition officer should be overburdened with work. He should be afforded an opportunity of doing the work within a reasonable time and of doing it properly. His report is of vital importance to the Department. Accordingly, it is very unfair to expect him to cover a wide area and overwork him. I sincerely hope the Minister will step up acquisition in Mayo and avail of the offers now before the people change their minds.

Seeing that Mayo has figured so prominently in the debate, I should like to get from the Minister full details of the experimental forestry station at Glenamoy, the area of land he proposes to attach to that station and the number of men who will be employed on the job. I realise that this station is only in its initial stages. I hope that the question of expense will not kill that station. I hope that the young trees will be properly set.

I was glad to hear the Minister state to-day that they are being properly set but, of course, the Minister will realise that the area of Glenamoy is different from the area that is being planted at Nephin.

In Nephin Mor, yes, but in Nephin Beag the ground is very similar.

It is not, because it is not as close to the blast from the Atlantic as is Glenamoy.

I think it is.

Glenamoy is within a mile of the seashore and the Minister's experts might well consider the effect of the salt in the air on that particular area. Anyhow, that is a question that the Minister's experts will consider. I am pleased that Glenamoy is to be used as an experimental station. There is plenty of land there and the scheme is worthy of every chance of success. I hope it will get every chance to succeed.

The Minister went to Glenamoy recently and I am sorry to say that he thought fit on the occasion of that visit to decry the experimental station in connection with the grass meal industry. He might have left it alone. It was dead as far as the present Coalition was concerned. There was very little use in pulling up bits of grass and pointing out that one could not grow grass there.

He may have been picking flowers to put up over its grave.

Who was doing that?

The Minister pulled up grass along the fences and asked who would be such a fool as to grow grass there. I would be glad to know it was not the Minister.

The Deputy ought to keep to the trees.

I am specially interested in Glenamoy because I think I had a fair share to do with bringing the grass meal into the Glenamoy district. I was pleased that the Minister for Lands was keeping that area in view and that he was carrying out these experiments. There is a large area of waste land there. The Forestry Department have got offers of land in the Ballycroy district, as Deputy O'Hara pointed out. They also have offers from Crossmolina, Achill and Ballycastle.

The Department are very slow in taking over those lands and in replying to the people who made the offers. If the area acquired from Bord na Móna is taken off the total of 80,000 acres acquired last year, it seems that we acquired no more land last year than we acquired the previous year. I am sure the Bord na Móna land would account for the difference and that there is really no increase in the amount of land taken over last year as against the amount of land taken over in the year 1954-55.

I know that the land offered to the Department is not the best land or the most suitable land for timber, but timber was grown long ago in the area and it can still be grown there. I have sufficient faith in the officials to know that if they are permitted to carry out the experiments in their own way afforestation will be a success in the County Mayo and we will be able to make some use of our bogs and barren lands.

The Minister now has the co-operation and backing of every section in this House. He should be able in the coming year to make better progress and make some attempt to clothe our western counties with forests. I am sure the Minister will get the help of all the Parties and all the officials in this House.

The importance of this Estimate can be gauged from the fact that there has been a considerable amount of criticism levelled at the Minister for Lands. All Deputies are aware that in the years to come the industry resulting from an intensive afforestation drive will help very considerably in redressing our balance of payments. I know that the present Minister is not so thin-skinned as to be discouraged by any amount of criticism that is aimed at him because I am sure he knows and understands that that criticism is constructive.

Deputy MacBride yesterday suggested that one of the reasons there was not a greater drive in forestry was that there was not a director of forestry as there was at one time. Deputy O'Hara also advocated that an increased staff should be recruited. I do not think that either of those suggestions should be implemented because, as the Minister said in his opening speech yesterday, the forestry drive is going ahead apace and increasing every year. Nowadays we talk about trying to reduce general Government expenditure but yet we have people advocating the direct opposite. I think if we leave things as they are, we may be content and sure in the knowledge that we are progressing towards our ultimate goal of 25,000 acres per year, and we will not be incurring additional expenditure in this Department.

We must remember, after all, that we have the help of the recent Forestry Act passed at the beginning of the year and which we know was introduced for the express purpose of easing the difficulties which have been encountered in the past, due to title defects. I would like to urge the Minister to continue to carry out his present policy with regard to the exploitation of peat land for the purpose of planting trees because in the areas where there is such land we probably find a good deal of unemployment and, I suppose, a certain amount of emigration.

I think if a big forestry drive were launched in each of these areas where there is peat land, it would be of great benefit to them. I would also like to endorse the remarks of previous speakers who urged that the Minister should give increased prices for land for forestry purposes. I think that price consideration is one of the main reasons why the Department sometimes finds it hard to obtain land for tree planting. I think we would reap untold benefit if we did increase the price of land.

Another point which was mentioned was in regard to fires. As we know, fires in plantations destroy the trees and the future wealth of the nation. I think an intensive drive should be launched to bring to the notice of the people the danger from such fires in plantations because these fires are costing far too much money. It is a terrible thing to see a lovely plantation, which has been planted only after a lot of trouble in acquiring the land and getting the trees, and which has grown up for eight or nine years, being suddenly wiped out for want of a bit of care. Actually it is sometimes vandalism that is the cause of these fires.

Deputy O'Hara also expressed concern or doubt about the wisdom of exporting pitprops. I think it a good thing to export these props because even though they may not bring in much money, they represent what we are aiming at—exports. That trend should be encouraged. We are all trying to increase exports at the present time and no matter how small the amount involved I think these exports should be encouraged.

I would like to refer to what I might call "a hardy annual" in connection with my own county, Louth. It relates to the Omeath areas in North Louth. Last year I asked the Minister to tell me the position with regard to a proposed afforestation scheme and he told me that they were encountering difficulties in regard to title. He said that there were people living in all parts of the world, in America and Australia, who had claims on the mountainside and that he was bringing in new legislation to overcome that type of difficulty. The new legislation has come and is in force at the moment. I asked again a question this year in regard to that afforestation scheme. I was told that investigation of title is now being put in hands but that he did not expect that the scheme would be implemented this year.

I want to impress on the Minister the importance of hurrying up this particular job because a lot of damage is being caused among cattle and sheep by marauding animals coming down from the mountains. No amount of Government or agricultural grants would benefit the people in this area more than this proposed afforestation scheme. The people are all willing to sign; they have agreed to sell their plots, and I sincerely hope the Minister will make a special effort to implement this scheme especially as it is four years now since it was first mooted.

Other afforestation schemes have been suggested in the Ballymakellet and Ravensdale areas, and I am satisfied that the Department is going ahead on these particular schemes. I would like to compliment the officials of the Department for their co-operation and understanding in any cases that I have brought to them. I hope the Minister will continue his intensive drive to increase the area under afforestation because it is so important to the country. As somebody said, we have to take a long-term view in this matter. It is not next year or the year after that results will accrue but in 30 or 40 or 60 or 70 years' time. Then, please God, we will have got a much larger area of our land under afforestation. Some Deputy mentioned that it might be possible to provide a wood pulp mill and I hope that investigations in that direction will be actively pursued.

It has been stated definitely by some Deputies on the Government Benches and suggested by others that very little was done, and that in some cases nothing was done, for forestry up to 1948. I want to draw the attention of the House to a statement by the Minister that this year £250,000 worth of timber was sold by the Forestry Division. That timber did not grow with the Coalition and, in referring to that £250,000, I would say that the income could be easily doubled if we had a proper marketing system.

I know that is not easy to achieve. The Forestry Division must take the markets that are available and, of necessity, we must have a certain amount of loss in cuttings, trimmings and thinnings, due to the fact that we lack customers who are able to utilise these products in this country. For that reason, I agree with the last speaker that it would be important to have a pulp mill available to take up this waste. I do not know whether there was any keen competition in the sale of this timber or whether the price was as high as it could be. In any event, an income of £250,000 from forests never planted by Fianna Fáil is very good. I understand it takes about 20 years to reach the stage where you can derive an income from a forest. That £250,000 was derived from plantations made 20 years ago, and that disproves the statements made by Government speakers that nothing was done previous to 1948.

I want to refer to another statement made by the last speaker—a statement with which I do not agree—that no increased staff should be taken on in the Forestry Division. This is one division where there is no alternative but to keep on increasing the staff year after year. If the aim is to plant 25,000 acres per year and the actual position has been reached where we are planting 15,000 acres a year, with the advance of every year, we will require additional staff to look after the new plantings in that year. When we have dealt with a plantation, we just cannot move on and forget about it.

I urge the Minister to keep his eye on some of the plantations that have been made in the past and to make sure they are not falling into neglect, that fences are not falling down, that gateways are not neglected and, above all, to make sure that the necessary quota of thinning and cutting away of grass takes place each year. Recently, I saw a plantation, not in my own county, and even with my non-technical knowledge of trees, I felt it was a plantation which required a good deal of work, and possibly employment was very much needed in that district. In view of the fact that we have 48,000 people unemployed, work of this kind should be carried out now, if the Forestry Division has the money to do so. There is no use in letting these plantations go to rack and ruin. That is why I completely disagree with that remark of the last speaker. He says there is a drive on to cut down the numbers employed in the various State Departments and that the same should apply in the case of the Forestry Division. I entirely disagree with that. That should not take place, and I hope it is not taking place.

We all know there is vast leeway to be made up in this field of national development. I am not going to criticise the Forestry Division for that; they do not deserve criticism. As a matter of fact, from my own experience in Donegal, they deserve the greatest praise for the work they have done there over the years, and especially in the past five years. I had occasion myself to advocate that the Inishowen Peninsula of Donegal—the most northerly part of Ireland—should be attended to. I know the Forestry Division met with difficulty in the acquisition of land there, but I am glad to know that now those difficulties have been overcome and that a very substantial amount of land has been acquired in the Inishowen Peninsula and in other parts of Donegal. Therefore, I am pleased with the progress made in regard to forestry in our county and also throughout the country. Although I say that much leeway has to be made up, I am not blaming the Forestry Division for that position.

While on the subject of the land purchased for afforestation in my constituency, I may say that I know there are further offers of land. The farmers in the vicinity of the area which has been acquired have offered to sell their holdings. I would say to the Minister and to the Forestry Division that now, while the iron is hot, is the time to strike. If the Forestry Division ceases acquisition there, they will be faced with the situation in a number of years hence of having developing forests in that area. The Forestry Division will then be looking around for further land, and they may find that, because the local people know that work in planting and so on has slowed down, land may not be so easily available. The local people will know that the Forestry Division will be most anxious to get additions in that centre, and the Forestry Division may not find it as easy to deal with these people in five or ten years' time as it would be now. Therefore, I suggest to the Forestry Division that, when they go into an area, they should not just acquire the amount of land they need for the next five years, but should acquire all the land they can get. That would be good policy. It would be easier for them, and they would find that they would be able to deal more easily with the people.

Referring again to the leeway which has to be made up, I think the Minister should consider soliciting the aid of others—other Departments, private organisations and private individuals in this country. This is a task which has proved very heavy, and one where progress is slow, and its magnitude is such that the Minister and his Department would be very wise to get assistance from other sources. There are very many farmers who have offered waste parts of their land to the Forestry Division, and there are others who have on their farms land which is unsuitable for either grazing or tillage. The Minister should urge upon the Cabinet to consider availing of all this land for forestry purposes. It can be done. If increased grants were given to private individuals and to organisations to plant small areas of forest, it would also be necessary to give instruction, to make trees available more freely and to give a better knowledge to the people of how to plant trees and how to look after them afterwards.

As I say, it will be necessary to get help from all possible sources. We should ask our children in the schools to help us; we should make them conscious of the usefulness of trees so that they will plant trees in after life. I know one school where a waste plot in the playground has been set aside for the planting of 200 trees. Some of the trees have been planted along the pathway leading to the school. It is pleasant to see trees growing where there was nothing but waste and neglect. That is one source we could utilise to help us. We could also call on the county councils who have waste plots throughout the country, some of which were intended for house-building. These county councils could be asked to plant trees on such plots. Other Departments of State have land which is not being used for any very remunerative purpose. They could be asked to see that trees would be planted on that land.

There are very many other ways in which the Minister could get help from outside. Unless the Minister intends to double his efforts in this regard during the next five years, it will be necessary to get help from outside his Department. One of the complaints we hear is that we cannot grow suitable types of trees in this country. At the present time, I think the type of tree is unimportant because we are really reaching the stage now where, due to the advance of science, we can treat all classes of wood and can convert them into pulp, pressed timber, wallboard and so forth, and use them very effectively. The result is that inferior timbers might be just as useful to us as those of better quality.

There is one development which I should like to see extended and that is in regard to hardwoods. I am afraid the Forestry Division are not planting sufficient hardwood trees. I know there is a shortage of that type of timber in the country and I believe it would be most useful to have a supply of such timber growing up. I referred earlier to private plantations and I asked for increased grants and for increased assistance by way of instruction and so on. I should like to compare our efforts here with those in Finland.

In Finland plantations are, in the main, privately owned and the average income from timber represents 75 per cent. of the income of any landowner in Finland. They cut down trees in annual quotas—just as we sell crops at the end of the year—and they derive a nice annual income from them. There is a precedent, therefore, for advocating that private plantations here should be encouraged in every way. Not alone would they help the Department in doing some of the work which the Department is required at present to do, but they would also help the plantation owners and the country in producing an annual income for the owners and a valuable asset for the nation.

With the amount of afforestation we have in the country at the moment, I think we could seriously consider the subsidiary industries which will be required in order to get the optimum advantage from waste forestry production, from thinnings and so on. The best way of disposing of these waste products would be to have a woodpulp industry established which would, in turn, make woodpulp available for paper-making, for wallboard and other fibre materials required in the building trade. The net income from afforestation this year was £250,000. That could be stepped up considerably if the cuttings and thinnings from our forests were used to the best advantage.

I agree with other speakers who said we should not have a division as between West and East where afforestation is concerned, that afforestation is something which should take place all over the country. However, our claim in the West is that we have a large proportion of unproductive land which is not capable of maintaining either crops or live stock. In the West we have a large quantity of that type of land. It is for that reason we are seeking that that extra bit of attention should be given to the West and that the extra bit of money available should go to the West.

Hear, hear!

That, of course, includes Donegal. Not alone have we the bad land, but we have also the other social problems arising from it. By increasing or stepping up the rate of afforestation in the western counties we are not alone helping socially but economically as well. The problems of the West, from Donegal to Cork—the social problems, the economic problems, the problems of emigration—have been worrying all Governments in this country during the past 20 years. From appearances and from facts, these problems are likely to worry us, even to an increasing degree, for years ahead.

We have given grants to industries in the West in order to have these industries established there. My belief is that the two most important industries which could be developed there are fishing and afforestation. The West is most suited to these two industries. We do not have to force anyone to start afforestation in the West; it is not like starting an industry there. When it is the question of an industry, most people prefer to set up in Dublin, because the factors are in favour of its being set up there. In the West, however, we have all the requirements for afforestation. There is plenty of land available at a reasonable price, and there is plenty of labour. All that is required is the money to purchase this land and to employ the labour which has no way of finding an outlet other than through emigration. It is for that reason, while I admit that afforestation should be carried on uniformly throughout the country, that I make such an appeal on behalf of the western counties, from Donegal to Cork.

Now that a new Ministry has been set up and a new Minister appointed for the Gaeltacht, I would urge that there also be appointed a liaison officer between the Department of the Gaeltacht and the Forestry Division. Forestry should to a great extent occupy the mind and energy of the new Minister for the Gaeltacht because it will benefit the Gaeltacht at least as much as anything else that has ever been tried there. We have great opportunities to advance, and advance quickly and profitably, through forestry in Gaeltacht areas and there should be a tie-up between the Gaeltacht Ministry and the Forestry Division of the Department of Lands.

If an officer were appointed he could correlate the work which should be done by the Forestry Division for and on behalf of the new Gaeltacht Ministry. Afforestation, with its present advantage of a separate section in the Department of Lands, would get a greater fillip by being urged on and helped by the Minister for Gaeltacht areas.

One difficulty that the Forestry Division experiences in acquiring land in some areas, not so much in the West —I think it operates in areas outside the West—is the fact that fears are expressed locally that land may be acquired for forestry which is suitable for agriculture. It may be that land that has been taken over by the Forestry Division or which is about to be taken over by them would be suitable for agriculture if we had people to work it. However, unless there is an increase in population, some land which is suitable for agriculture should be taken over by the Forestry Division. After all, you are not disposing completely or forever of land which is planted by trees. You can always use it afterwards. After 15 or 20 years that land could be cleared and be a better proposition after a forest has been cleared off. I do not wish to press that point too much when I know there are thousands of acres of land suitable for nothing else but trees and which still remain to be acquired.

We have farmers who are willing to sell land to the Forestry Division. It is their only holding and they earmark another farm before they give up title to their own. There is a gap there because the farmer will not give up his land until he is sure that he has another farm which he will be able definitely to keep. He cannot get the other farm, however, until he is quite sure that the Forestry Division will take his own. There should be some better arrangement because I know of cases where this difficulty was a hindrance to a big transfer of land from the owner to the Forestry Division.

I think we have all forgotten about the forestry workers, who play a very important part in this development. Our forestry workers labour under very severe conditions, more severe than in many other jobs, and in most other types of manual work. They are labouring out on the mountainside in all kinds of weather and I would like to know what efforts have been made to provide shelters for these people in the event of blizzards, storms, thunder showers, and so on. I am afraid very little has been done. I know good advances have been made by way of providing protective clothing but I would urge that shelters of a temporary nature and of a kind that can be shifted from place to place should be provided. If such shelters are provided some means of cooking should be installed in each shelter. When people are out on a plantation they have the ways and means of providing the fire themselves, if the Department provides the stove or whatever it is decided to provide.

In regard to forestry workers' wages, it has been the custom to keep them in line with those of agricultural workers. I suppose there is a very good reason for doing that but there is a time lag between the time the increase is given to an agricultural worker and the time such increase is given to a forestry worker. I realise these are minor problems but they are important considerations so far as our forestry workers are concerned. Unless we ensure that the workers in this valuable industry are looked after well and have good conditions of work, we will not be doing the right thing by them and we cannot expect that they will give of their best. Apart from the fact that it is a necessary work these workers are interested in it and we should keep them so by giving them decent conditions and decent wages.

This debate should be very helpful so far as the Forestry Division is concerned because most of the Deputies who spoke appeared to be reasonably satisfied that this section of the Department is moving in the right direction, and most of the criticism made seemed to be of a constructive nature. We welcome that. I personally welcome it, because, very often, in cases of this kind, the very opposite is the case.

I was interested to hear a Deputy last night remark that land for forestry might become scarce. I should like to refer to a question which I asked the Taoiseach on 3rd of this month about the amount of land, arable land, for each of the years 1900 and 1955 in each of the Counties of Cork, Kerry, Clare, Mayo, Galway, Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal. The answer I got showed that between those two years approximately 700,000 acres of land ceased to be arable. The definition of the word "arable" is, under crops or pastures. Even allowing for some error in the records, it would appear that, in most of those counties to which I have referred, there is a considerable amount of land which was allowed to go into disuse in the last 50 odd years. Might I suggest to the Minister that the amount of land which went into disuse between those two years should now be available for afforestation purposes?

There was a suggestion here that there might be some division between East and West, as far as forestry is concerned. In my own case, I would welcome an extension of afforestation, particularly in the West, and I suggest that this land be used to find work for those people who otherwise would have to emigrate or be migrated. I suggest that what happened to that land was that, when people were taken from the West and given good land in County Meath, the people who remained behind allowed the land they had left to go into disuse.

In County Meath, there is not much land available for afforestation. It is mainly cutaway bog and swamps. The use of cutaway bog for forestry purposes should be very carefully considered. It is of no further use for turbary; it is no use for grazing; and the Department should consider the use of such cutaway bog, in the Midlands and in County Meath, for the growing of trees. There is a type of tree which will grow there. The Minister has said here that it is too early to decide on wholesale planting in such places, but when the present experiment is finished, it should be possible to carry out large-scale planting in these areas.

I am entirely in agreement with the suggestion that there should be much more voluntary effort. There is no reason why farmers should not be encouraged to grow shelter belts. I am told that such encouragement is given in the form of a very small grant for a pretty sizable area. If the Minister would get down to giving encouragement to farmers to grow their own shelter belts, on their own lands, and to grow small woods in any swamps that may be on their land, I am sure he would get a lot of co-operation. Apart from the question of grants, the main thing required is the technical advice. Up to the present, it is only given to people who have a pretty sizable area of planting land, but it should be made available to people who have a small area. There is no reason why a lot more trees should not be grown in the Midlands, as well as in the West, if encouragement is given to private landowners.

There has been some suggestion of a diversion from agriculture to afforestation. Such a suggestion is ridiculous. Until we have stemmed the tide of emigration, there is no fear of any diversion of people from one job to another. There was also a suggestion that it is not right to sell pitprops. I could not agree with that. Not alone is it right to sell them in an effort to cut down our adverse trade balance, but we might find very good use for them in this country in time to come, and so we should continue to produce them.

This question of woodpulp is being approached as if it were something in the very far distant future. I do not agree with that outlook. We should be prepared to cater for pulp mills in the very near future, in a matter of a few years or even a few months. We are going to see people coming into this country who will absorb more timber in pulp than we can produce at the moment and I appeal to the Minister to be ready to deal with that situation when it arises. We should be able to turn out pulp not only for the purpose of building but also for newsprint. At the present time, the price of newsprint is rocketing and the situation may arise where we just cannot afford to get it from abroad. A number of people have already made inquiries here about the facilities for the establishment of pulp mills. These facilities, at the present time, are not so hot. The Minister should make an effort to provide for woodpulp mills in the near future.

Deputy Cunningham referred to the income from Finnish timber and said that it comprised 75 per cent. of the income of the average landowner. Something over 95 per cent. of the exports from Finland are comprised of timber. They are living on their timber there. Of course, there is a big difference between Ireland and Finland. There they are not asking whether it was Fianna Fáil or the inter-Party Government that grew the trees. The trees were naturally there and their growth was encouraged by the native Government. We would be very selfish if we did not try to bring about a situation here, in which in years to come, our descendants could say that the people who took over the country in the early years of self-government made provision for ample supplies of timber. Timber should be used here to its fullest extent and all the available land should be planted as quickly as possible.

I am in perfect sympathy with the Minister when he says that we should have a reserve of land for planting, but I think that could be somewhat overdone. The Minister should be a little more adventurous in hurrying up the planting of whatever trees he can.

The difficulty is that we do not know what seeds to plant unless we know the land that will be available for planting in three years' time. If we did that, we would be putting seeds in the nursery to plant in three years' time and we might not have the land to grow them.

It should not be beyond the Minister to know the main types of land which are likely to be available to him over the years.

We do not know what type of land the farmers will be selling to us in three years' time.

That is all cod. The Minister knows that if we are to grow seeds for the type of land that we know will turn up in three years' time, we will not attain the 25,000 acres target in three or four years.

Indeed we will.

If that is the approach, we will be waiting a very long time before we reach the stage at which we will be able to plant the 25,000 acres, not to talk of the very much higher acreage that I believe is necessary. There is another point which should be considered and that is the question of replacing trees. Someone said last night that there was a Government regulation governing replanting. If that regulation is in existence, it certainly is not being complied with. We have all had experience of people who wiped out woods, not alone during the emergency years but in more recent times, sold the timber and made no attempt of any kind to replace the trees. The regulation should be enforced and its enforcement should be retrospective. Those who made substantial packets, particularly during the emergency, from the sale of timber should be compelled to replant the devastated areas now. The time has come when a firm stand will have to be taken in this matter.

Everybody who spoke so far in this debate referred to the damage done by forest fires. We all deplore the fact that forests have been severely damaged by fire. Those fires, while they may not have been caused deliberately, have been caused in some cases by criminal carelessness. There are two or three ways in which these could be stopped. One is, that the danger should be brought to the notice of school children by the teachers; if the danger of these fires is brought home to the children, not alone will they themselves be careful but they may prevent their elders, who should know better, from causing fires. In many cases, it is their elders who are responsible for the fires.

It is no use in putting a notice in the public Press three or four weeks before an anticipated dry spell. I suggest that warning notices should be flashed on the screens in every cinema, because, whether we like it or not, it is to the cinema that most people go for entertainment; in that way, we could educate the people as to the gravity of these fires.

There are notices here and there along the roadside in the vicinity of forests. These notices should be increased in number, and people should be warned of the danger of throwing away lighting matches or allowing fires to smoulder. We have suffered tremendous loss as a result of such fires and drastic action will have to be taken to prevent them in the future. I add these suggestions to those made by other speakers.

With regard to wages and the conditions of employment of forestry workers, I want to correct Deputy Cunningham, first of all. While he is a very enlightened Deputy in many directions, he is about five years behind the times as far as the wages of forestry workers are concerned. These are not tied to agricultural wages. As a result of pressure put on by the trade union which I have the honour to represent, forestry workers' wages were tied about three years ago to county council workers' wages. It is not a very wonderful rate, but it is certainly a step in the right direction. When increases are granted by local authorities, either directly or through the intervention of the Labour Court, those increases are now passed on to the forestry workers. There have been occasions when a time lag has occurred as between the date of the award and the actual payment of the wages. On one occasion, that time lag ran over a few months. That was due to the fact that the local authority did not reply to a request by the Forestry Branch asking if the wages had been sanctioned.

But, in all cases, the back money is paid as soon as notification comes in.

I am not faulting the Forestry Division. I have enough bricks to throw without throwing that one. The Minister agreed this year to substitute Church holidays for bank holidays, as far as forestry workers are concerned. Now, in addition to Church holidays, local authorities usually give at least two bank holidays when Church holidays fall on a Saturday or a Sunday. Hardly a year passes in which at least two Church holidays do not fall on either a Saturday or a Sunday. I think at least one such holiday should be given to the forestry workers, and I suggest 26th December. There is no reason why forestry workers should not be brought into line with other workers.

A discussion took place between the union representing forestry workers and the officials of the Forestry Division on 23rd October, 1955. A number of the matters discussed at that conference are still under active consideration. If the speed with which matters affecting workers are dealt with is any criterion of the speed with which other matters are dealt with, then there is something seriously wrong. I suggest that some organisation be set up, such as that which has been established by a number of private employers and State and semi-State bodies. Somebody should be appointed to deal at top level with questions relating to workers' wages and conditions, or, if not wages, at least conditions. Conciliation committees should be set up in the forests where less important matters might be dealt with between the representatives of the workers and the forester in charge, or whoever is directly responsible. It is ridiculous that these minor matters should have to be raised with officials at top level and to find that, after almost two years, they are still under active consideration.

Shelters are of vital importance to forestry workers. It is no use people saying the men can shelter under the trees. The fact of the matter is that, after heavy rain, shelters are absolutely imperative. Such shelters should be of a light portable type. There is no point in erecting a permanent shelter at a central point. When it has been there for a few months, the forester in charge invariably directs that all tools and wheelbarrows shall be stored in the shelter. It is then of no further use to the men because they cannot get into it. That happens far too often. When we report the matter to the Department of Lands, we are told it will receive attention. We are still waiting a decision. I have suggested now a possible remedy to the Minister. It may be necessary to have a couple of main shelters, but I think the majority should be such as could be easily carried from place to place. I am not suggesting that a tarpaulin with about ten holes in it and tied between two trees is a shelter. That has happened in a number of forests and it is about time such a racket was stopped. I know quite well that neither the Minister nor his officials would like to stay very long under such a shelter, and, if it is not suitable for the Minister or his officials, it is not suitable for the men.

I think Deputy Flynn was not quite clear in his remarks last night. He suggested that when an end came to planting, and there was a danger of men being laid off, they should be employed one month on and one month off. I would be entirely opposed to that. The sooner Government officials and ordinary employers realise that if we are to stop emigration, we must provide employment for our people and pay them for it, the better, and the sooner we will attain satisfactory results. If a man is employed a month on and a month off —and another man is substituted in his place during his off periods—it means that, if he was being paid £5 a week, he is really earning only £2 10s. per week over a two-month period.

When men are being recruited by the Forestry Division, they should be told that, if suitable, a number of them will be retained right through the job and people who are taken on as casual labourers should be informed that their employment is likely to terminate on a certain date. That is more reasonable than the suggestion that they should be employed on a rotation basis.

Some Deputies suggested that favouritism is shown in some places and I think one Deputy suggested that there is political favouritism. I would not agree about political favouritism, but petty favouritism is shown in forests throughout the country. I was amused to hear Kerry Deputies suggest that somebody from outside Kerry was retained by the Department to the detriment of the Kerrymen. I have heard the complaint that an unmarried man from Kerry was retained on work at the Tipperary-Limerick border, while a number of local men who had been on the job for years were laid off. I raised the matter with the Department and was informed that the men who were laid off were offered employment three or four miles away in another forest and that there was a nice level road between their homes and that forest. Though I may live in Meath, I have occasion to go to Tipperary and Limerick now and again on trade union activity. I know that there is no such level road there. It just is not good enough for somebody to write to me and say that this level road has been put there and that the men can cycle to their work, and that there is no hardship at all. I suggest that these men who are employed at a low wage would have to buy new bicycles in order to climb up the mountain to the job.

I was told by officials of the Department that it was not unusual for workers to buy bicycles. That may be so, but it is unusual for them to buy bicycles to travel miles along mountain roads to a job, while somebody who does not belong to the area and who is not as expert at the job as they are is employed locally. That should stop. I do not suggest the Department had any reason for keeping one man more than another, but local people in charge of jobs sometimes go a bit far with favouritism. I suggest that men who are employed for a long period at a job and who are the most suitable should be retained rather than that outside people should be brought to the job when most of the hard work has been done. Again, I appeal to the Minister to set up some kind of machinery for dealing with the conditions of employment, if not with the wages, of forestry workers. I believe the Minister can do it and I also believe it would save a lot of trouble, both to the men and to the officials of the Department.

I agree with Deputy Cunningham: I would be entirely opposed to the suggestion that there should be a cutting down in any way on forestry employment. I think perhaps Deputy Coburn did not quite intend what he said to be taken in the way in which we have taken it. He suggested two particular cases, but I think it is wrong, even at top level, that there should be a cutting down. Last year, I suggested that there should be a separate way of dealing with the whole forestry question. This year, I am glad to see there has been at least some improvement, but I am still in favour of an independent board to deal with it. However, if the Minister improves matters to the extent he predicts, perhaps we shall all be converted to his way of thinking.

Coming from a constituency which has large tracts of forests, I feel it my duty to say something on this Estimate and to make some inquiries from the Minister.

One would gather from the speeches made here by some Deputies on the Government side of the House that no progress was made in regard to forestry by the Fianna Fáil Government and by our native Governments up to the advent of the first Coalition Government. I invite any of the Deputies concerned to visit my constituency where it will be seen that the Forestry Branch of the Department of Lands has been very active over the past 20, 25 or 30 years. I suppose we have now reached a stage when we shall have to go slowly. I do not know whether or not the Department is finding it difficult to acquire lands in Wicklow any more, but I am satisfied that, unless they want to take over the whole county altogether, they will have to consider going slowly, so far as planting is concerned.

Something like one-fifth of our total area is under forest and quite an amount of that is productive. I understand that, in the past few years, the Department has been concentrating on thinning in Wicklow. That, in itself, is capable of maintaining quite a substantial number of men in employment. I have received complaints from farmers that they have not now the opportunity of purchasing some of those thinnings for use on their farms for fencing and other purposes. I understand that a substantial amount of timber is lying in the forests and that is does not improve when it is lying around. Some effort should be made to give local people an opportunity of purchasing their requirements, either by way of auction or directly from the forests.

I was surprised the Minister did not refer to housing because, in the past 12 months, I understand his Department have erected three or four prefabricated houses in County Wicklow for foresters. I wonder if the reason the Minister made no reference to that in his opening statement is that the scheme has been a failure. I have had a number of complaints from foresters in regard to these houses.

It is a wonder they did not complain to me. One would think I would be the right person to come to.

I am sure the Minister is, but I suggest that some of his colleagues might take a poor view of it, if some of their constituents made representations to him. As constituents of mine, they came to me and complained about the manner in which the houses are constructed.

Are these foresters?

Yes; foresters' houses. A prefabricated type is being erected.

Did foresters complain about these houses?

They complained about the manner in which the houses were constructed. I think the Forestry Branch built a house in Gorey——

That is right.

It was the first house they built and it had some type of wool lining in the cavity walls which gave a certain amount of warmth to the house. I understand that that lining is not now being used. The foresters are not satisfied with the construction methods of the Department. I understand that practically all the work is carried out by handymen; some of them are taken from the forest areas or they are employees in the forest centre in which the house is being built. I know that the matter was taken up with the trade union concerned in regard to the Aughrim house. From the long term point of view, if you are going to spend £1,600 or £1,700, the proper thing would be to have competent tradesmen carry out the work. Would the Minister, or the Department, not consider it wiser to build the walls of these houses with concrete and use native timber in the roofs, floors and anywhere else it is possible?

How long was the forester living in the house when he complained?

Some of the houses are not even occupied, although they have been built for six or eight months. There is one house in County Wicklow, on the main road at Glenealy, which has been completed for six or eight months and has not yet been occupied, and I would like to know the reason.

There is an organisation known as the Irish Foresters which wrote to me in connection with the house in Wicklow and it was through that organisation that complaints were made. There was a list of about 50 or 60 complaints in regard to the manner in which the houses were constructed. I agree that a lot of the complaints were trifling and that they might have expected too much, but a lot of them seemed to be due to not having competent men doing the job.

The Department might consider providing some sort of out-offices also, because the majority of the foresters now have motor cars, or if they have not, they have got bicycles, and nobody wants to see them taking a bicycle into the kitchen at night time. Apart from that, they require stores for fuel, potatoes and so on. One hundred pounds will go a long way towards providing a store of that type.

The Minister did not refer at any length to Shelton Abbey. I recently visited Shelton Abbey and I want to congratulate the Minister, his predecessor and the Department on the very fine job of work they have done there. It is a credit to the Department, and to the contractor and the workmen. I do not know what the reconstruction work cost, but I am sure nothing similar could be newly built for the same cost. I thought at the time that it would be better to start with a new school, but I am satisfied now that a perfect job has been done there. I think the school is to open some time towards the end of the year. The Department might consider holding on to portion of the land there to provide their own farm. Between students and staff, there will be a household of about 50 people, and it might be advisable for the Department to have its own farm to provide such items as milk, butter and potatoes. It would be a better proposition to have that than to advertise the contract.

There is one other matter I should like to ask the Minister about in connection with the growing of ash. He will remember that some time ago I was a member of a deputation from the Gaelic Athletic Association and we asked him to give consideration to the growing of ash in the eastern counties. I understand at the time there was a grave shortage of ash. It would be a drastic blow to the Gaelic Athletic Association if we arrived at the stage where we could not secure ash for making hurleys. I do not know whether the Department took the deputation seriously or not at the time, or whether any attempt was made to increase the acreage of ash trees. It was pointed out that it was difficult to get a suitable type of land for growing ash, but surely, out of 15,000 or 16,000 acres, we should be able to get a couple of acres suitable for growing ash trees for the manufacture of hurleys. People engaged in making hurleys, in Kilkenny and Wexford, have to go to Galway and into Munster to get ash. I am sure the Minister, who promised his co-operation at that time, will see to it that there will be no shortage, in years to come, of ash to make hurleys.

Since Wicklow has become such a huge forestry centre, the housing of forestry workers has become a problem for the local authority. I know the Minister is sympathetic to the idea of forestry villages, as was his predecessor. We have some ideal centres in Wicklow, such as Glenmalure, Glendalough and Laragh, where the Department might consider building houses for their ordinary employees and try to relieve the local authorities in the matter of providing houses for these people. It would be in the interest of the Forestry Division to have as many as possible of their employees living adjacent to the forest centres in the event of fires and other emergencies. That is a matter that the Minister could consider. If he considers it favourably, ideal sites can be provided. We already have shopping centres, schools and churches. The only thing we need is housing.

I conclude by saying that the thing that stands out, as far as I am concerned, is the success at Shelton Abbey, which is in my constituency.

I was deeply interested in the Minister's speech. On page five of the script of his speech, the Minister made a statement with which every Deputy will agree:—

"...there is scarcely any aspect of Irish national endeavour on which there is such universal agreement on all sides of the House as there is on the basic issue of the desirability of a continuing afforestation drive."

The Minister goes on to say:—

"There has been a great deal of confusion, however, in regard to the optimum rate of development—confusion resulting largely from the difficulties experienced by Deputies in grasping all the complexities of a large-scale afforestation project and the factors which must govern its ultimate objective and the tempo at which it can develop."

He further states:—

"It is my hope that in this debate I shall be able to give every member of the House a clearer picture of the essentials which must govern our national forest policy. If the debate can further be made the vehicle for a well-considered endorsement by the whole House of the forestry policy of the Government, a permanent gain will have been achieved."

It is not necessary to quote the Minister's speech in full.

I am quoting from the Minister's speech introducing the Estimate. On page 5 of the script of that speech, he says:—

"The gain will lie in the help that such an expression of conviction will give to the Government, the Minister for Lands and his Department in pushing ahead with the forest development programme on a long-term basis."

In the paragraph that I have just quoted, the whole position of forestry is well explained. It has been truly said that we are lagging sorely behind in our drive for afforestation. Human nature being what it is, I can understand the Minister's inclination to take unto himself all the praise, all the glory and all the glamour that human beings can fall for. One would think that, until the advent of the inter-Party Government, nothing was done about forestry and no decent effort was made to put a scheme of afforestation into operation. The Minister tells us that from 1904 to 1922 there was an average annual planting of 180 acres; that from 1922 to 1934, there was an average annual planting of slightly less than 3,000 acres. That was during the time that we had a Cumann na nGaedheal Government. From 1934 to 1950, there was an average annual planting of slightly under 7,000 acres.

As Deputy Blaney very properly reminded the Minister, the Minister tried to throw the blame on Fianna Fáil and to castigate Fianna Fáil for failure in regard to the forestry programme. That is very unfair because, as Deputy Blaney reminded the Minister, during the period of office of Fianna Fáil from 1932 until 1948, they had many serious matters to contend with.

Every Government had.

World War II broke out in 1939. The Minister is a sensible man and should admit that there were difficulties and obstacles that were absolutely insurmountable placed in the way of the Government of that period. There is no use in any Minister for Lands trying to castigate his predecessors for failure and attempting to take unto himself the glamour and the glory of being a Messiah in regard to that type of development. Every Deputy from rural Ireland, irrespective of the Party to which he belongs, wants to see a full development of forestry.

I did not stop the previous Government from planting, did I?

You could not stop the previous Government, but you should be fair in your analysis and in your statement. You should not charge the previous Government with falling down on the job of afforestation from 1951 to 1954.

I did not, as a matter of fact, and I was wondering where the Deputy read that into my statement. I tried to be as fair as I could to all previous Governments. The Deputy is reading something into my statement that is not there and that was not intended.

I am giving my interpretation of plain English. I am as entitled to my point of view and to my interpretation of the Minister's statement as he is to his.

Oh, no, the Deputy is not. He cannot attribute an intention to me that I had not.

We want a genuine drive for forestry development on a scale never known in this country. There are factors hindering and governing the forward movement of any forestry programme in this country. Any hesitancy that there is on the part of the Irish people to give lands for forestry purposes is due entirely to the fact that the Minister, prompted and advised, of course, by his officials, is giving a miserable price for the type of land that is suitable for forestry. The price is niggardly. There was an instance in West Limerick where I helped in having a forestry centre established. We got about 387 acres of what we call good mountain grazing. To the farmers in the locality, it was worth at least £10 an acre per annum. The benevolent Minister for Lands would give us about £4 5s. an acre for that land. While that is the case, it is very hard to blame people or to criticise them, if they refuse to give land for this purpose.

I would not agree with either the present Minister or the former Minister, Deputy Derrig, in the price fixed for that type of land. I come from that part of the country and I know to the penny the value of rough mountain grazing.

But we do not compel anyone to sell.

I know you do not compel anyone to sell.

If our price is not fair, they can keep their land.

If they can keep their land, our forestry scheme will be a failure——

No, it is not.

And we are only talking in figures and chasing rainbows.

The Deputy wants me to pay more than the market value.

Not at all. In all seriousness I want to say that the price of £4 or £5 per acre paid by the Department of Lands for land is a shame and a disgrace.

I say that the Department is paying more for land than any other private bidder is paying for it.

I should like to go to Mayo, walk into the Minister's holding, offer him £4 10s. per acre for the land and hear what he would have to say.

I would show you the road.

Metaphorically speaking, the people in every part of the country are showing the Minister the road because they are not inclined to give the land in such quantities as we would like for forestry purposes. Every Deputy will agree that it is the only source of development that we can envisage at the moment to meet the serious unemployment problem in this country. In any part of rural Ireland big numbers of people look for employment on the roads. You will never have in this country such extensive operations under the heading of road works as will always absorb the numbers unemployed in rural Ireland. The price offered by the Department of Lands for the type of land that would make the grade is in itself a deterrent to the people who would otherwise surrender the land.

If we are serious in our efforts to arrest and deal with the shocking problems of unemployment and emigration, we need not send Ministers of State touring around the States of America looking for American industrialists to come over here and start industries for us. We have at our own door something that we can develop and there is no need for any foreigners to come in to do it for us. All that is needed, if we are sincere about this thing, is a real, good, genuine drive. The people must be marshalled. The people must be behind us. The Minister says that we cannot take the land by compulsion. All we want to do is create a spirit and feeling of co-operation among the people who hold mountain land so that they will co-operate if they get a fair price. The price of £4 5s. an acre is ridiculous.

I am sure the Minister, judging by some of the remarks he passed, is determined to stick to the original figure which is an average of £4 odd. The ceiling is £8, but the Department always try to peg it down as low as they can. It is futile for us to come to this Assembly representing rural areas and speak of forestry if we do not play our part well. Deputy Blaney made one very good point and that is that we should all co-operate in our respective areas in getting as much land as we possibly can for the Forestry Department. That can be done because men living in a particular locality are well informed. They are always instrumental in getting land for forestry.

Some years ago I was looking at some blue prints in the Forestry Department in connection with West Limerick. I am very pleased we have made a start on the Cork-Limerick border. I understand that the plans outlined and envisaged by the Department will embrace an area right up to the Shannon. The particular farm I got outside Newcastle West of 385 acres is, I am glad to say, being accepted by the Department. We have men working there now.

I should like to remind the Minister that all the honour and glory in regard to forestry development in this country was not due to him. I want to tell him at this stage that by an extraordinary coincidence I got this morning a letter from a constituent of mine in the area between Kilmore and Garryduff. Within the next few days I shall be able to submit to the Minister an offer of 450 acres for the further development of forestry in that district. I claim no kudos but that is the kind of work I would like to see going ahead if we are to see brought to fruition the ideas for which the men of 1916 laid down their lives.

We can provide work for the people without having to scurry through the various states of the United States inviting capitalists to come in here and build up industries in order to relieve unemployment. We have the wherewithal at our own door if we are prepared to go ahead and do it. We ought to deal with this great problem of unemployment and that other great problem which is a reflection upon all of us—the problem of emigration, especially from the rural areas.

We have a remedy for this national ill if we are prepared to make use of it. I should like to remind the Minister that he should try to give every co-operation to the people from whom we expect to get large tracts of land for forestry purposes. He should step up the price in order to make the offer attractive enough for those people to surrender their lands. I do not wish to go further as I am sure the Minister is impatient to conclude but I would again remind him that we on this side of the House will give him every help and co-operation to get as much land as we possibly can into the national pool so that we can go ahead and develop our programme in forestry and achieve the target set out in the Minister's statement.

We spent many hours considering this Estimate. I suppose the Minister is anxious to wind it up and I shall not keep him very long. There were just a few figures in the Estimate in which I was interested. I do not know whether the Minister gave any explanation—I did not hear him when he commenced—of the necessity for the increase in staff in the present year. There are 28 additional indoor and 48 outdoor staff. I suppose the Minister adverted to that in his opening remarks. There is an increase of £64,500 in respect of the staff. What is the justification for that increase?

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.