I think I alluded to this earlier. If I could continue in spite of the Minister's conversation. I thought I had made the farmer's position, as far as this party is concerned at any rate, fairly clear on an earlier amendment, but it seems necessary to refer to it again in the light of what the Minister said before the adjournment of the discussion. I am fully conscious of the fact that there are no farmers in the Government to advise them on these matters. We will do it for them. The farmers' attitude is that they make no claim to some special position which would put them above paying taxation that is levied upon everybody else. I hope the Minister understands that. What they object to, and what we object to here, is that they should be taxed unjustly as they are being in this Bill. This legislation borrows heavily from British practice but it differs from it very sharply in this regard, that rates on agricultural land are not levied in the United Kingdom or Northern Ireland but they are going to be under the Coalition Government. Farmers not only will share the common taxation that everybody else shares but they will also be expected to pay very high and increasingly high rates on their land on top of that, with one extraordinary exception, the people whom I referred to earlier as the nobility and the gentry. I put that in inverted commas, of course. They do happen to be as a class by far the best off people who live in rural Ireland—the bloodstock breeders. The Minister justifies exempting them from taxation on the grounds that if they are not exempted they can pack up their troubles and go somewhere else. With the greatest respect, this is a damn poor excuse for exempting these very wealthy people from taxation on their agricultural operations. It is tantamount to saying that the ones who can escape will be permitted to escape but the ones who by the nature of their occupation as working farmers cannot escape will not be allowed to escape by the Minister.
I fully appreciate the pathetic position of the National Coalition Government. Made up as it is of Dublin lawyers, university dons and Labour types of the more intellectual kind, the kind referred to one time by a Fine Gael front bencher in the last Dáil as the horny-handed sons of toil with the transport union pins in their coats, people like the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, the head of the present Government. A collection of people like that could not reasonably be expected to know what is going on beyond the outer reaches of Ballyfermot. I should like to tell the Minister that there are a great many people out there who are waiting for the chance to remove these gentlemen from office. I am glad to see in recent times that the sorry set-up of which the Minister is part is coming apart at the seams of its own accord.
Farmers should not be stigmatised by the Minister or anybody else as people who are more likely than anybody else to attempt evasion. For my money, as a farmer, and a person who represents farmers, I feel they are as ready to pay a fair share of the national tax. The Minister should get that into his head but they are not agreeable to pay double taxation on their lands. This is what the Minister is proposing under the section, with the exception of the Taoiseach's friends, the people who are so wealthy that not only will they be exempt from taxation but if they are wealthy enough they will be made members of the Seanad.