Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Acquisition of Land by Joint Stock Companies.

50.

asked the Minister for Lands whether in view of the anxiety in regard to the acquisition of land by non-nationals he will require joint stock companies, who purchase land, to register particulars of the proprietors of the company and the details of the land purchased with the Land Commission as matters of public record.

The existence of a very heavy tax — 25% of the value of the property transferred — illustrates the policy of the Government, to discourage the purchase of Irish farm-land by non-nationals.

As announced already by the Taoiseach, on 8th November, consideration is being given as to whether the existing powers of the Land Commission are adequate.

Is the Minister not aware that the 25 per cent. does not apply to the purchase of land by non-nationals who make the purchase through the medium of pre-1947 registered companies, and would it not be desirable simply to require that purchases of land by limited liability companies be registered with the Land Commission so that the public will be fully aware of the transactions and thus prevent the dissemination of false rumours, and at the same time, bring to the notice of the proper authorities——

What is the Deputy making a case for?

The position is this: we all know that information is available about purchases by individuals, but a practice has grown up of the purchase by a pre-1947 company of land——

It is true to say that purchases by non-nationals who have been registered in the State for three years prior to October, 1947, are outside this duty, but in fact the Land Commission must know of purchases by companies of any land that is subject to an annuity. This, in my view, covers at least 90 per cent. of agricultural land, and I do not think the purpose the Deputy contemplates to serve would be helped. May I say that there is no great use in having post factum information on this issue? What would be required is power by legislation to restrict the free sale of land in future instances.

Does that not beg the very question? Is not post factum information eminently desirable for allaying the fears arising from rumours that the whole country has been bought up by non-nationals? Would it not prevent us from rushing into legislation which a thorough knowledge of the facts would lead us to believe is unnecessary?

I am pointing out that where a company purchases land which is subject to a Land Commission annuity, the fact must be known to the Land Commission as the law stands.

But not necessarily the nationality of the shareholders.