Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Roscommon Estates.

98.

asked the Minister for Lands whether the Land Commission propose to acquire the Mary Hunt Estate, Ballinderry, Four Mile House, Roscommon, for division amongst deserving local smallholders.

As this 68 acre property was recently purchased by two local smallholders, the Land Commission do not propose to proceed for acquisition of the lands.

Is the Minister aware that two smallholders have between 25 and 40 Irish acres each and that in the area adjoining these farms, there are 14 deserving applicants with a valuation of between £4 and £17? Does the Minister not consider that the claims of these two farmers that their land requirements could not be met were justified in the circumstances?

First, I do not subscribe to the doctrine that the claims of the local smallholders cannot be met anywhere. The adjoining farm mentioned by the Deputy had a valuation of £22 5s. It was bought by two local small farmers and my information is that they owned 25 and 30 acres, respectively.

99.

asked the Minister for Lands what progress has been made by the Land Commission towards the acquisition of the Walpole Estate, Castlenode. Strokestown, County Roscommon.

Efforts by the Land Commission to purchase this estate on a voluntary basis proved unsuccessful. It is not possible to indicate at present what further action will be feasible regarding the lands.

Is it not a fact that the new purchaser has been in possession for a considerable period and that it is quite clear that the Land Commission so far have made no effort, since he obtained possession of the land, to acquire it? In the light of the Minister's recent statement that he was making all possible efforts to relieve rural congestion, is it not his duty to acquire any land that becomes available for division to help smallholders? How does he reconcile this statement with the fact that 288 acres of first-class land have been allowed to go to a purchaser, while within four miles of that big farm, there are at least 50 smallholders with under £14 valuation?

It is untrue to say that the Land Commission made no efforts to acquire these lands since the new purchaser bought them. They did, in fact, make an attempt to acquire these lands by purchase from the new owner. I explained the legal position about this estate as the law stands in the House in reply to a previous question by the Deputy. I pointed out that the Land Commission under their powers, as they at present exist, could not have acquired these lands compulsorily from the former owner, and that the question of the new owners would depend on how they worked the land. That is still the situation. Sufficient time has not elapsed in this case for the Land Commission to be in a position to judge whether they should use their compulsory powers of acquisition.

It is not a fact that this man is prepared to sell if the Land Commission are prepared to give him a reasonable price, and pay him in cash rather than in Land Bonds?

In my view, a reasonable price has been offered which would provide a profit for him, but he has informed the Land Commission that he is not interested in selling the land, or in cash, but in holding the land.

The Minister is not interested in helping the small farmers.

I am more interested than the Deputy as I have proved.

(Interruptions.)

asked the Minister for Lands if proceedings have been instituted for the acquisition of the non-residential holding of Mr. Martin Hession, Derrylow, Carrick-on-shannon.

There are no proceedings for acquisition of this 47 acre holding but the matter has been noted for inquiry.

101.

asked the Minister for Lands whether proceedings have been instituted for the acquisition of the Fletcher Estate, Croghan, Boyle, County Roscommon; and what stage such proceedings have reached.

Proceedings have not been instituted for acquisition of this estate. However, inquiries as to the up-to-date position regarding the property are nearing completion and a decision will be reached as soon as possible.

102.

asked the Minister for Lands whether the Land Commission propose to acquire the lands formerly owned by Mr. Michael Hand situated at the Mountain, Kiltoom, County Roscommon for the purpose of allocating them to the deserving smallholders in the locality.

I presume the Deputy is referring to a 25 acre holding in the townlands of Carrownure and Srahauns which I understand has recently changed hands. There are no acquisition proceedings pending.

103.

asked the Minister for Lands what progress has been made by the Land Commission towards the acquisition of the Heavey farm, Liscoffey, Athleague, County Roscommon.

The question of acquisition of these lands was considered some years ago but was later dropped; there are no current proceedings for their acquisition.

104.

asked the Minister for Lands whether the Land Commission propose to acquire the lands of Mr. Thomas Fallon, Gardenphort, Dysart, County Roscommon for division amongst deserving applicants.

The Land Commission have no proceedings for the acquisition of these lands but the Deputy's representations have been noted.