Land Bill, 1933—Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I think the majority of Senators have a fair idea of what this Bill contains and so I do not intend going into any great detail, at least at this stage. The Bill is roughly divided into four parts. The first part sets out the ordinary legal definitions of the expressions contained in the Bill. The second part is concerned with changes that were thought necessary in the administrative machinery of the Land Commission. Since the coming into operation of the Free State a number of the Government Departments that formerly were controlled by boards and commissions of one kind or another were changed so that the Minister became responsible completely for the administration of the Departments. The Department of Agriculture is one of these; the Local Government Department and the Education Department are others. These Departments were formerly run by boards and commissions and, at the present time, the Ministers responsible to the Oireachtas for the administration of these Departments substitute the boards in all the functions that the boards formerly carried out. While the Minister under this Bill is getting complete administrative control over the Land Commission, there are certain matters excepted from the matters over which he has control. These are set out in Section 6. They are: the determination of the persons from whom land is to be acquired or resumed; the determination of the actual lands to be acquired; the determination of the price to be paid for land; the determination of the persons to be selected as allottees; the determination of the price at which land is to be sold; and the determination of the new holding which is to be provided for a tenant or proprietor whose holding has been acquired by the Land Commission.

In Section 7 a new appeal tribunal is being set up. Heretofore, all appeals against decisions of the Land Commissioners were heard by the judicial commissioner. In this new section we are associating with the judicial commissioner two lay commissioners, and this appeal tribunal will hear practically all appeals against the decisions of the Land Commissioners with the exception of those which are purely a question of law. We have, therefore, on this appeal tribunal a legal man and, associated with him, two practical men who have a thorough knowledge of Land Commission work, whose function is to decide questions which really require long experience of the operation of the Land Acts throughout the country as well as a legal knowledge. Where there is a question of law concerned, the legal man decides that question.

Part III of the Bill is concerned with the revision of purchase annuities, rents and other annual payments. In pursuance of the Government promise, all rents and annuities are being reduced by half. We are also reducing tithe rents by half where the payer is an ordinary farmer. As well as reducing rents and annuities, which have been set up heretofore, by half, power is being taken to reduce future annuities by half. There are still about 80,000 holdings, I think, which were vested automatically in the Land Commission under the 1931 Act which have not yet been vested in the tenants, and the payment in lieu of rent which these people are paying at the moment is being cut in half. When the annuity is set up in the case of these people, that also will be reduced by half. Also, in future, when untenanted land is to be acquired for distribution among uneconomic holders, the annuity which will be put on the land will be cut in two. Senators will notice that a number of sections here are more or less along the same line. That is simply because it was necessary from the drafting point of view to treat the different annuities that are being paid into the Land Commission and into the Board of Works in separate paragraphs. Power is also being taken to fund all arrears due to the Land Commission and to forgive all arrears which amount to more than three years of the man's land annuity. A somewhat similar provision was made in previous Land Acts as in the case of the 1923 Act which provided that where a tenant owed more than three years' arrears he had not to pay more than three. We are funding these arrears over a period of 50 years and it will mean that, no matter how much a man owes to the Land Commission, when we add his funding annuity to the half of the annuity he will have to pay, in no case will the total annual charge— that is, revised annuity plus funding annuity—amount to more than 65 per cent. of his original annuity. If we had attempted, as some people believe we should have attempted, to make everybody who is in arrears pay up, it would have meant that in a number of cases we would be asking, in future, land annuitants to pay, when we counted the revised annuity plus the funding annuity, an annual sum greater than that which they had to pay in the past, and we do not believe it is a good policy to do that.

In Part IV of the Bill you have miscellaneous amendments of the law relating to the Land Acts. Section 28 deals with a levy by county registrars on warrant for arrears of payments due to the Land Commission. Under this section we are taking authority to collect annuities on the sheriff's warrant without having to take the annuitant to court. A number of Deputies disagreed with this section, but I heard no argument there which would prove to me that this section is wrong. Every land annuitant has been getting his receivable order for years. He knows exactly the amount he is called upon to pay and, under the present procedure, the Land Commission have to take that man into court and saddle him with a lot of legal costs simply to get the district justice's signature as a legal proof that the man owes a debt which he knows himself he owes and which he never disputed that he did owe. If a man comes along to the Land Commission and disputes the amount of his annuity, the Land Commission will look into that and, if they think there is aprima facie case for letting the matter go before the courts, they can, if they so desire, allow the matter to be settled by the court rather than proceed by direct sheriff's warrant.

Section 29 deals with new powers which the Land Commission are taking for the relief of congestion. Under the 1923 Act certain lands were protected and certain other lands were left unprotected. The result of that has been that, when the Land Commission wanted to relieve congestion, they sometimes were forced to take the lands of a comparatively small farmer who was working his lands, but who was left unprotected under the 1923 Bill, rather than take the lands of large farmers who did not work the lands and who, perhaps, did not reside there, simply because they were protected under the 1923 Act. This section is extending the powers of Section 24 of the 1923 Act. Under that section the Land Commission could take purchased land for the relief of congestion, provided they gave a holding equally suitable elsewhere. They found that it was impossible to operate that because they could never please the man, whose land was taken, with an alternative holding. In many cases they have had to give twice the value of the land in order to get the owner to agree that the alternative lands were equally suitable. Here we are taking authority to take surplus land over £2,000 in value and to pay the owner in land bonds, but if we touch land under £2,000 the Land Commission will have to give the owner alternative land elsewhere. If, for instance, a man has £2,400 worth of land and the Land Commission propose to take £400 worth of it from him, they can take it from him and give him the value of the £400 in land bonds. If, however, they want £500 worth of it from him, thereby reducing the market value of his holding to £1,900, the owner can compel them to give him £400 in bonds and £2,000 worth of land elsewhere.

Under Section 30 we are taking power to fix a provisional price. At the present time the Land Commission have to go through tedious legal proceedings before lands are finally in their hands for distribution. Under this section the Land Commission can take the land, fix a provisional price for it and then put the tenants in: letting the law take its course in the usual way so that while questions of title and so on are being settled in the land courts the incoming tenants will be working their lands. It has taken, I believe, on an average about five years from the time that the Land Commission set their eyes on a piece of land until it was finally distributed. This provision, we hope, will reduce that period of time to the minimum. Under Section 32 the powers of the Land Commission to acquire land compulsorily are extended. We are taking power to acquire land directly for certain purposes. Heretofore, land could only be acquired for the relief of congestion, the residue going to landless men, evicted tenants and other bodies. Under this section the Land Commission can take land for the provision of sports fields, parks, pleasure grounds, or playgrounds for the inhabitants of villages, towns or cities, or for schools, or for the provision of gardens for schools. There is also power to take land for any of the purposes set out in Section 31 of the Land Act, 1923. Sub-section (3) of this section is the result of the discussion which took place in the Dáil. It is really an attempt to put down in black and white the policy which the Government propose for the operation of the Land Commission. There were certain criticisms in the Dáil that under the powers of this Bill farmers could be moved around like chessmen at the will of the Land Commission: that they could say, "there is John Murphy and we must change him somewhere else for the good of his health," and that under the powers of the Bill that could be done. Here we are setting out that, notwithstanding the powers contained in this or any other enactment relating to land law, a man shall not be disturbed in his land except for the relief of congestion in the immediate locality, or except for the provision of these sports fields and school gardens, if he is giving adequate employment and is producing an adequate amount of food for the community. That sub-section is simply in keeping with the policy of the Land Commission and if it were not there it would continue to be their policy.

Notwithstanding the fact that the Land Commission have at the moment complete and absolute power over 80,000 holdings of judicial tenants which were left unprotected by the 1923 Act, the Land Commission use a discretion whenever a question comes up for the resumption of those holdings. As I have said, the Land Commission have absolute power over those holdings. In the case of an ordinary judicial farmer, whose holding was not vested in him prior to 1923, it can be resumed at the moment, every acre of it, and all that he is entitled to get in return are land bonds.

But has he not the right of appeal to the judicial commissioner?

He has, but if land is required for the relief of congestion in any part of the country, and if the Land Commission so certify, then every acre of that man's land can be taken from him.

A tenant's land?

A judicial tenant's land, and there are 80,000 of such holdings in the country at the moment. Now the acquisition of land for the relief of congestion was not confined to the immediate locality. The Land Commission could acquire a judicial tenant's holding in Meath for the relief of congestion in Kerry or Mayo. If they proved that it was required for the relief of congestion, they had to get that land, but they used their commonsense and, unless they were absolutely forced by circumstances, they refused to touch a holding where a man was working his land according to the ordinary methods of husbandry. As I have said, even if this section were not in the Bill, the Land Commission would use their discretion in the future in the same way as they used it in the past, but this section clearly sets out in black and white and makes it compulsory on the Land Commission to advert to that and not to touch land, no matter what powers they have over it in this or in any other enactment, if a man is giving an adequate amount of employment or is producing an adequate amount of food-stuffs for the country. To that there are certain minor exceptions: that is, the relief of congestion in the same locality and the provision of sports fields and gardens for schools, etc.

Under Section 34 the Land Commission is taking power to acquire sporting rights—sporting rights that were vested prior to 1923 in the original owner of the land. Under the 1923 Act all sporting rights were purchased. They were either vested in the tenants or, if they were fishing rights, they remained vested in the Land Commission and the Department of Lands and Fisheries. We are taking power under this section to acquire sporting rights held by the original owners of the land prior to 1923 and to treat these sporting rights in the same way as sporting rights have been treated since 1923. In Section 37 we are taking power to wipe out annuities on submerged lands. Certain holdings have been for years under the sea or under a lake owing to a broken embankment. Under this section annuities on these holdings will be written off as irrecoverable and the land will not be charged with them.

These are the principal provisions and the outstanding sections of the Bill. When we come to the Committee Stage we can discuss the others in greater detail. If Senators want more information on this stage they can ask for it in the course of their speeches, and I shall endeavour to make the matters clear in my concluding speech.

The Acting-Minister for Lands and Fisheries has made a very plausible statement in explaining the Bill. He has tried to convince the House that the Bill is a very mild and gentle measure and that there is nothing in it to be alarmed about. I am sure he has not convinced any member of the Seanad who has read or studied the Bill. It is a terribly iniquitous and confiscatory Bill—the most drastic Bill that has been introduced by this or any other Government. Since the establishment of the Irish Parliament, we have passed five or six Land Acts. For 50 years previous to that, the British Parliament passed many Land Acts relating to fixity of tenure, purchase and so forth, but we do not seem to be any nearer the final settlement of this Irish land question. All these Acts, and particularly the British Acts, were framed to give greater security, more concessions and greater independence to the tenant occupier, but we have before us now a Bill which proposes to sweep away all these concessions which the tenant occupier got for the last 60 years. It proposes to sweep away what our fathers and grandfathers fought for and obtained for the last 60 years. It proposes to sweep away all the concessions which we obtained and which they obtained for us from the British Government after long years of suffering and agitation.

Prior to the Land Act of 1881, the tenant farmers of Ireland were in the majority of cases only serfs. They held their land at the will and pleasure, in most cases, of the landlord. That was a desperate and an impossible position for farmers—that they could be evicted from their homes and deprived of their means of livelihood at the will and pleasure of anybody. Some of these landlords were kind and considerate but the majority of them were despotic and bad. Whether they were good or bad, it was an impossible and desperate position for them to find themselves in. The independent farmers of all creeds and classes, north and south, Catholic and Protestant, agitated for the repeal of that state of affairs. Their agitation was crowned by the Land Act of 1881, passed by the British Parliament. That Land Act gave the farmers their first real charter of liberty and independence. It gave them fixity of tenure, free sale and it set up machinery to fix fair rents. Since that Land Act was passed, we have gone a long way and, at present, seven-eights of the farmers of the Free State and of Ireland generally are absolute owners of their land, subject to the payment of an annuity to the Land Commission for a definite number of years. All these concessions were obtained from the British Government. We have now in power a native Government which proposes to sweep away all these concessions—every particle of independence and security which the farmers obtained during all those years—and to place the farmers of the Free State in a worse position than they ever were under the old landlord system. If before the Land Act of 1881 they held their land subject to the will and pleasure of the landlord or the landlord's agent, under this Bill they will hold their land subject to the Land Commission or subject to the Minister for Lands and Fisheries for the time being, whoever he may be. This Bill is setting up an absolute dictator in the person of the Minister for Lands and Fisheries over the farmers of the Free State. Will the farmers stand that? I say they will not. Do they understand what this Bill is going to do to them? I am afraid many of them do not. It has not been properly explained to them. The Minister will probably go down the country and make a very plausible speech such as he has made to the Seanad to-day. Possibly, his eloquence will convince the people listening to him that this is a very harmless Bill. But it is up to the Seanad to let the country know the nature of the Bill. The Bill should be fully debated and the farmers should be made aware of those clauses which take away every particle of liberty and independence which they obtained during the past 60 or 70 years. It may be said that that statement is exaggerated. I refer Senators to Section 6 (2):—

On and after the appointed day, the Land Commission, in the exercise and performance of the powers and duties for the time being vested in it by law (including this Act), and the lay commissioners, in the exercise and performance of the powers and duties for the time being specifically vested in them by law (including this Act), shall, save in relation to excepted matters, act under and in accordance with the directions, whether general or particular, of the Minister, and the Minister shall have and may exercise, if and so far as he shall think proper, full and unrestricted power of regulating and controlling every and any exercise or performance by the Land Commission or the lay commissioners (as the case may be) of any such power or duty not relating to an excepted matter and also power of reserving to himself rights of approval and disapproval or of reconsideration, revision and confirmation of every or any act of the Land Commission or the lay commissioners not relating to an excepted matter.

I contend that the excepted matters are all eye-wash. Having read that sub-section I refer Senators to Section 30:—

(1) Where the Land Commission propose to exercise their powers of resumption of a holding in whole or in part they shall give notice in the prescribed manner to the persons appearing to be in occupation of the holding as tenant of their intention to resume the holding in whole or in part unless within the prescribed time a petition is presented to the Land Commission praying that the holding or the part thereof (as the case may be) be not resumed without further inquiry.

(2) If any such petition as aforesaid is presented, questions arising under it shall be considered and determined by the lay commissioners whose determination shall be final subject only to an appeal to the appeal tribunal on a question of law.

It goes further and states that land can be taken for any and every purpose, even for the relief of unemployment. I say that such a clause as that creates the Minister for Lands and Fisheries, for the time being, an absolute dictator over farmers. Previous Land Acts contained some objectionable provisions. Even in the 1923 Act there was always an appeal from the decision of the Land Commission on practically every question to the judicial commissioner, and on a question of law from the judicial commissioner to the High Court. The position is reversed now. There is only an appeal to the tribunal on a question of price or on a question of law. Under previous Acts if the Land Commission wanted to acquire any man's farm they had to appeal to the judicial commissioner who went into the matter very minutely. He inquired what family the owner had, the manner in which he worked the land and had sworn evidence before him before giving a decision. In a good many cases he overruled the decision of the Land Commission. I do not wish to say anything now but, in some cases—perhaps owing to political causes—the Land Commission were forced by the Minister for the time being to take land which they should not take. Politics always enter into the acquiring of land because a question always arose as to whose land was to be acquired or whose land was not to be acquired. There is no use ignoring that fact. The Minister for the time being always had a certain amount of power over the lay commissioners and the Land Commission, but when the appeal came before the judicial commissioner he decided every case on the merits. That is a position that we should maintain under this Bill if there is going to be a particle of security for land-holders and farmers. Any land can be taken under this Bill up to the value of £2,000. If a man has vested land value for £6,000, which he secured ten or 15 years ago, the Land Commission can take portion of it, value for £4,000, leaving him with the balance. He will be given Land Bonds which will bring in £90 a year in place of the land taken from him. That man may have no other means of livelihood. The land left him may be considered an uneconomic holding in some parts of the country. How is he to keep up the standard of living which he maintained for the past 20 years? Land in some parts of the country will not have the same value as land in the vicinity of towns. If a case like that came before the judicial commissioner and if the owner had five or six sons who would be able to work the 6,000 acres that would be taken into consideration. However, we will consider these points in Committee.

Will the Bill go to Committee? Surely the Senator's Party will defeat this Bill on Second Reading, if, as he says, it is dictatorial.

I would do so willingly if I had the opportunity. The Minister dealt recently with the question of halving the annuities. I do not think the farmers will thank the present Government or the Minister for that. That proposal was taken from a promise given by ex-President Cosgrave previous to the last General Election. This is what he stated:—

"My attitude is that the Fianna Fáil economic war has temporarily destroyed the farmers' capacity to pay, and that as long as the economic war continues, no Government has a right to collect land annuities at all. This attitude was expressed plainly by me in the Dáil as long ago as last November. In actual fact the farmers during the past year have paid their annuities at least twice over in export taxes and bounties. My policy therefore is: The funding over a period of years of arrears in respect of the annuities which fell due in June, 1932. The entire remission of the annuity payments due in December 1932, June 1933, December 1933, and June, 1934. The withdrawal of all writs now issued for any of the above payments. I therefore will not collect any further annuities till December, 1934. This will compensate the farmers and give them an opportunity to recover from the injuries they have suffered. I will immediately end the economic war ...".

The rest is not relevant.

If the Senator was in the country at that time I suggest he is mixing his dates considerably.


The Senator will have an opportunity of making his speech later.

I am only reminding the Senator that he is mixing his dates. The statement made by Deputy Cosgrave came practically when the election was on the people, after Fianna Fáil had been talking about reducing the land annuities for months previously.


It is hardly relevant now at all events.

I do not want to stress that matter. I will just only say that Deputy Cosgrave stated that as late as the previous November. He stated it publicly in the Dáil. The present Government and the Minister for Lands and Fisheries are making great bones about the concessions they are giving to the farmers. I want to say this now that if this economic war continues he will not get half the annuities or even a quarter of any annuities because the farmers of the country will be able to pay neither rates nor annuities. He will have the land then and he can take it. This is a drastic and confiscatory measure. No matter what anybody here says about it, any fair-minded person must agree that it is a confiscatory measure. Any man who supports this measure, no matter to what Party he belongs and no matter what his calling is, whether priest or layman—the man who advocates taking the land from the farmers who own it is Bolshevist and Communist at heart. Any Farmers' representative who supports this Bill is a traitor to his class and a renegade and coward.

I do not think any Bill ever came to this House so altered from the form in which it was introduced into the Dáil as this Bill. When introduced into the Dáil the Bill had certain constitutional defects of a very serious nature which have now disappeared. I think the Government ought to be congratulated on having passed in the Dáil the amendments they introduced on Report Stage. The lay members of the appeal tribunal, as the Bill originally stood, were mere removables and mere removables of the worst class. They had judicial functions to discharge. They have now been given, quite properly, the judicial tenure of judges of the Circuit Court, which means that they have the same judicial tenure as judges of the High Court. In addition to that, the question of whether a question is a question of law or not was a matter in which under the Bill as it originally stood the two lay members could overrule the legal members of the appeal tribunal. That has been altered. An appeal has now been given to the Supreme Court from any decision of the appeal tribunal as to whether or not a question is a question of law. If it is held by the Supreme Court to be a question of law then the judicial commissioner has complete control over that matter and cannot be over-ruled by the other members of the appeal tribunal. These are vital changes in the Bill, changes of very great importance and, as I have said, they are changes for which the Government are to be congratulated.

But having said so much, I am afraid I have said all the good things that I can say in favour of this Bill. I do not think it is a bit of use to refuse this Bill a Second Reading. I do not think it is any practical use to emphasise the evil consequences which a great many of us believe will follow from this Bill. We know very well that the Bill has got to be faced. The Bill is an attempt to solve two problems which exist in this country, and whether we agree with the solution that it offers for those two problems or not I think it is better for us to face the thing. It is a Bill to which we could not possibly refuse to give a Second Reading. I think the best policy for this House in dealing with this Bill on the Second Reading is to do our best to show what defects in the Bill might be remedied by this House. In my remarks I intend to confine myself entirely to that.

I could not follow my friend, Senator Counihan, in some of his criticisms of this Bill. I think he has mistaken the amount of control that is given to the Minister on the really important functions which the Land Commission, the lay commissioners and the appeal tribunal will have under this Bill. The excepted matters are matters which do really cover everything——

They are all eye-wash.

——everything that is new in the Bill, that is, every new function given by the Bill, everything that relates to the person whose land is to be taken, the price to be given for the land taken, and the land that is to be given as an alternative. These matters are matters entirely outside the control of the Minister. It is only fair to say that. It is only on the assumption that the Minister would abuse his position that there would be any chance of interference with the functions that are given to the lay commissioners and the appeal tribunal under the Bill that the Senator proceeded. That is a thing that we certainly cannot assume. The objects of the Bill are two. The first object is to put the annual crop of young landless men who can no longer emigrate —I am practically stating what the Minister indicated when introducing the Bill in the Dáil—to put the young landless men who can no longer emigrate on to the land. The second object is to speed up the solution of the problem of congestion which seems to be as far from solution as ever. I am afraid that neither of these objects will be attained by this Bill and that this attempt to attain them will produce in the country a feeling of insecurity on the part of every farmer who has bought his land and an amount of hardship and injustice which one does not like to contemplate. It will produce a lowering of the standard of the whole agricultural community.

Take the case of the landless young. There are, the Minister told the Dáil, some 15,000 or 20,000 of these now unemployed. I take it that there will be 15,000 or 20,000 more of them every year because the crop is an annual crop of these young who cannot emigrate. I am afraid that we will have to contemplate an annual increase of 15,000 or 20,000 of these landless young. It would be impossible to provide all these landless young men with economic holdings. They will be planted on farms on which the Government will have to build houses. They will have to be supplied with capital to purchase furniture, implements and livestock. In most cases they will be settled amongst strangers who will resent their intrusion and who certainly will not give them a very neighbourly welcome. In the majority of these cases they will, I am afraid, in a very few years, if not almost at once, sell or sublet, or still worse, conacre their holdings and put the money in their pockets. Later on they will be added, I am greatly afraid, to the army of the unemployed.

Now, that is the history of the attempts at migration which have hitherto been made in this country. I had a great deal of experience of the working of the Congested Districts Board. I was their counsel in a very large number of cases and I know that their attempts at migration not only failed but failed in that way. I can see nothing in this Bill to give me any hope that it will be any more successful than the old attempts in the same direction. There ought to be in this Bill a provision preventing for a certain number of years a sale of any kind or a subletting of any kind, conacre or whatever you like to call it—any parting with the possession of the land for a certain number of years without the consent of the Land Commission. It is only in that way that you will prevent this necessary migration from being abused and really being turned into a way of providing these landless young people with money which they will misspend.

The next matter to which I wish to draw attention is market value. It is absolutely vital to the working of this Bill. When lands are taken from the owner for the purpose of the Act the price he will get will be the market value. What is the meaning of market value? This question was discussed at some length on the Report Stage in the Dáil. As well as I can make out from a rather hurried reading of the Official Reports, which reached me only yesterday, the only definition of market value was given by the Attorney-General. The reference is in Col. 1301 and it is this:—

"Market value, as I understand it, means the price which a willing purchaser will give for a holding in the open market."

With all respect to the learned Attorney-General, that does not help us at all. At what date is the market to be taken as open? There has been no open market for land since the economic war started. There will be no real open market for land when this Bill becomes law in respect of any kind of land which may be taken from its owner. It will have destroyed the market. Perhaps the Minister will tell us definitely whether market value is to be based on the price which would be given at a sale with free competition in normal times, or is it to be based on the price which would be given when there is no real open market?

There is another matter which arises under Section 29, namely, that there should be no interval between the time when the proprietor or tenant is put out of his own holding and transferred to an alternative holding. This matter was dealt with on an amendment on the Report Stage in the Dáil. It appeared from that discussion that the existing practice in the Land Commission in the case of a resumed holding, where they had resumed the holding from a tenant and were obliged to give him an alternative farm which was to be equally suitable and all that sort of thing, was that there should be no interval between the time the owner was obliged to leave his old farm and get into the new one. I think the Minister gave what was practically an undertaking that under the present Bill there will also be no interval in which the owner would be, as I might say, out on the road. If that is so I think, so far as that is concerned, it would be quite satisfactory, but on the other hand, why not put it in the Bill?

There is one other point with reference to the transfer of the owner from his own farm to another farm. The date of the transfer will be a matter of very great importance to the owner. The time of the year may make the transfer practically innocuous, if he is properly compensated for his removal, if he has got the benefit of the crops for the year. Therefore, it will be essential, if injustice is not going to be done in the transfer of a man from his own holding to a new one, that it should be done at a convenient season of the year.

Section 28 is the section that gives the Land Commission the power to issue a warrant to the county registrar to levy the amount that is due for an annuity. That is to say, as the Minister very well put it to-day, he can send in the sheriff without any application to a court. In fact, one of the parties to the transaction is not only the judge but he is also the sheriff. That, of course, is absolutely contrary to all legal principles and also to all legal practice.

The only practice to the contrary that I am aware of is the practice of the Inland Revenue.

And municipal rates.

Under a Bill we passed quite lately, and as to which I know I did my best to protest, the Senator is quite right. I had forgotten that for the moment. The Inland Revenue precedent, which was so much relied upon in the Dáil, is a very bad precedent, and I am not sure that the rates precedent is a much better one. The Inland Revenue are dealing with people who pay income tax, people with taxable incomes, people who are far more highly educated and more intelligent in the matter of business than is the farmer who owes an annuity. I should think there are practically no cases under the Inland Revenue Act where a mistake is made in the amount.

All I am pleading for is that the Minister should put something into the Bill which will provide for the case of a man who may not be the person liable. It must be admitted, and it was admitted, that in every public department just as in every private business mistakes are made. All I ask the Minister to do in this regard is to put into the Bill a provision that the county registrar should serve a notice—of course, he will have to serve a notice, and that is provided for in the Bill—of at least 15 days before he carries out the levy and if at any time during the next 14 days the defaulter makes and files a declaration that he does not owe the actual amount and states what he does admit he owes or states he is not the person who at the moment is liable for payment of the annuity, then the levy should not be made. If the matter cannot be settled before legal proceedings are taken the Land Commission should then have only the right to take the case before the district justice. If a man makes a false declaration and gets himself into court then I do not pity him if he has to pay the costs. I am only pleading for the man who is honest and is the victim of a mistake. I suggest to the Minister it would be quite easy to put into the Bill a provision that would avoid the evil consequence of a mistake made by the Land Commission. There will not be many cases, indeed there will be very few cases in which costs will have to be paid.

There is only one other matter arising under Section 29. Under that section, portion of a larger farm can be taken and the owner may be left with the rest. If the owner has a farm which has a market value of more than £2,000, what is over the value of £2,000 can be taken from him. The difficulty will be for the Land Commission to decide what portion of a large farm they are going to take. Everything will depend upon the portion they are going to take, because if they take a certain portion it may interfere very seriously with the working of the rest. If there is not to be hardship here very great care will have to be taken not to interfere with the proper working of the rest of the farm. The difficulty that will arise is, how are you to fix the market value of the portion not taken? That will depend upon what is taken, and may be of a very variable quality because of what is taken. Therefore, before the division of the farm, you will have to decide what portion is to be taken before you can ascertain the market value of the rest. That will be a very difficult problem, but I have no doubt the ingenuity of the Land Commission will be able to find a solution of it. As I said, I have no intention of abusing this Bill. I am merely calling attention to one or two of the main objections to the Bill, and I think it may be possible for this House to help to remove those objections.

The Bill before the House has a precedent in the Land Bill of 1923. That Bill established the principle that you could take land anywhere, from any man, at your own price, for the relief of congestion. It can be said of this Bill, now before us, that it merely develops and extends that principle and, probably, it can be said with more than a show of plausibility, that in that regard it establishes no new principle, but simply follows in the footsteps of previous legislation. The Bill of 1923 was passed by this Oireachtas and I have no doubt this Bill will also be passed. I do not see that this House has any justification to try to do more than improve this Bill, but I protested against the principle involved in the former Bill, and I conceive it my duty, as a member of this House, to protest against the further development of the principle in this Bill. I do that, not from any notion of being consistent. I can change my mind as well as any man. Parliamentary institutions contemplate changes of mind, otherwise debates would be futile, but I have not changed my mind on this matter. Nothing that I heard in the speech of the Minister here, or what has been said in another place, in regard to this Bill since it was introduced, would cause me to change my mind. I conceive that the main principles of this Bill are vicious in the national interest.

This Bill aims at alleviating an admitted difficulty. The difficulty of congestion is a very old one and it is more accentuated now that the opportunity for young men finding employment has become more difficult. There are numbers of men growing up and for whom there is very little outlet now. This Bill further develops the principle that your land does not really belong to you, no matter how well you may work it; no matter how well you use it; it only belongs to you so long as the State does not want to take it. Now in the long run this Bill will lead to an increase of congestion and insecurity. It cannot settle unemployment immediately or finally and it is simply tinkering with the subject for the time being. It will produce an increase in the sense of insecurity and potential injustice which is very vital from the farmer's point of view. What compensation is it to a man dispossessed of his home, or despoiled by having taken from him part of his land to give him land elsewhere? It is no compensation at all. It is, in many cases, a mere show of compensation.

No doubt there are always men who want to be able to hold on to what they got although they are inefficient, lazy, and do not work, and are not worthy citizens. But there is no guarantee that this Bill will operate only to the detriment of men of that kind. No matter how good may be the portion of land that is given in exchange for what is taken, the section that proposes to dispossess a man of portion of his land is exceedingly confiscatory. I do not often quote poetry in this House, but there are certain lines which describe that aspect of the present Bill that I cannot refrain from repeating here.

"God gave all men all earth to love,

But since our hearts are small,

Ordained for each, one spot should prove,

Beloved over all."

We all know that. To say to a man: "You must go somewhere else" is no compensation. The effect of this Bill is to introduce an increased sense of insecurity or fear of potential injustice. The practical results will be to discourage endeavour, improvement, and research. No man in such a condition of mind can set himself to what is, to a certain extent, a venture. Work on the land is the main industry of this country and must continue to be so. Quite apart from the economic war or questions of that kind, how can that work flourish in such an atmosphere of insecurity, apprehension and futility? Now in making what is admittedly a speech of protest, and with very little suggestion of construction in it, one should be short as I claim to have been. I have only one more thing to say on the Second Reading of this Bill and that is upon a point for which the Bill of 1923 provides no precedent. Part III of the Bill which provides amongst other things that arrears of annuities under three years should be paid by funding these annuities and that the payment of arrears over three years is not to be enforced at all. The effect of that is the bad, or at least unsuccessful farmer gets more favoured-nation treatment, so to speak, and gets far more consideration than the better farmer. The better farmer simply gets no award for his efficiency in the past or for being the best sort of citizen, not asking for any help from the State, which really means help at the cost of the rest of the community. This is simply demoralising and is equivalent to hoisting as a sort of national agricultural motto: "Fail and the Government will help you."

I am not blind to the position that exists in regard to the inability to pay annuities. The Government must help but the difficulties are largely the result of their own policy. I think it is right to point out that the evils which have arisen as a result of that policy will not be wiped out satisfactorily by the means provided in this Bill.

The Seanad must agree that there is a problem to be solved in this country. All the speakers who have preceded me have practically agreed that that problem is a pressing one and that a solution of congestion cannot be effected unless land is obtained. All our troubles begin on the question of the acquisition of the necessary land, on the question of what land is to be acquired and the methods to be adopted in acquiring it. Heretofore Land Acts dealt with quite different things from those which are dealt with in this Bill. In the past we used to try to get our land cheaply from the landlord and to try to buy out the landlord. All that has passed. The landlords are gone.

The new landlords are here.

Every occupier is now the owner of his farm. There is no such thing as a landlord unless the man who owns his own land can be considered a landlord. I am not saying that in a jesting way. I know well enough that under the provisions of the Land Act of 1923 the owner's sense of security was very much disturbed, and in fact before that Act came to the Seanad it was much more drastic in my opinion that even this one. I agree with Senator Brown that a great deal has been done in the Dáil to improve this Bill and that it is much better now than it appeared at the date of its introduction. Perhaps with a little give and take we may make amendments in the Bill which will add to the sense of security so necessary for us. While we recognise the difficulties of the Government and while we are desirous of trying to solve these difficulties, we may at the same time arrive at a solution which will not inflict too much harm on those who are owners of the soil and who are entitled to be looked after because of their energy and industry and because they have put all their savings into the land on which they live.

On the question of disturbance, I am not going to travel over the points so ably made by Senator Brown, but I think he made one slight mistake. He said the Land Commission cannot take the whole of a large farmer's land, that they must give him £2,000 worth. They need not. They can take his place absolutely from him and they need not give him anything. They may give him an alternative holding, but they need not give him a piece of his own land. I shall take my own case. I am the fifth or sixth of my line in possession of the place. Every stone in the place, every building, has been raised by my predecessors in title. Every shed, pipe, drain or pump has been erected or installed by my predecessors in title. Is it right to give power to any Government to put me out of that holding and to say: "We want your place for the relief of congestion?" The Seanad should face up to a case like that. I do not say that that will happen in my case, because I think I am producing as much on the land as I can produce and therefore I believe I will come under Section 32.

What does it mean?

A Senator

It is a smoke screen.

It may be a smoke screen. Perhaps they can take my land notwithstanding Section 32, for the relief of congestion, for parks or for playgrounds. It is a nice thing to deprive a man of his land for playgrounds.

That would not be very much.

As a matter of fact, I am bothered every week by campers who come along, but I never put them out, by Boy Scouts and others. I do not know how many people come there to camp. Can the Minister take the whole place and make it a playground under this Bill? I am very much concerned with regard to the price to be paid for land. Remember you are not now dealing with landlords, or dealing with land in the sense that you were before, when there were two owners. You are dealing now with a person who owns both the occupier's interest and the landlord's interest. You are dealing with people who lost under the previous Land Acts considerable sums of money. Most of that money, particularly money raised under the 1903 Act, was raised at very low rates of interest and as a consequence the amount paid to the landlords was, because of the low rate of interest, in excess of anything that could be paid at the present time. I hope Senators understand me. The payments to the landlords were based on reductions in rent. The result of that was, because the money was got at £3 5s. per cent., the landlord got for his interest a considerable amount of money over and above what he should have got. I shall give you a typical case. I hold a small farm of land at a place called The Warren, seven miles from the city. There is no house on it, and the holding contains 90 statute acres.

A Senator

A small farm?

It is very good land. It was bought specially for the purpose of finishing cattle. The landlord got £2,700 in 1906 for his title—that is, he got £30 an acre. I have paid since £1,500 through the operation of the sinking fund. The sinking fund operated to such an extent that the £2,700 has now been reduced to £1,400. Now the Land Commission can come along and acquire that land but their acquisition will not be based on a low rate of interest. The Minister cannot float a fund at £2 15s. per cent. The result of that will be that the compensation I shall get for that particular holding if it is taken over will never clear the debt which I owe to the Land Commission, and in fact they will take over the land for nothing. If you examine it in figures, you will find that it will work out something like this. There is at present due about £1,400. The price which they will give me if it is based upon the present rental, not the half rental, cannot exceed £2,000 at a high rate of interest. Therefore all I will be entitled to would be the difference between £2,000 and £1,400. I think that is one of the features of the Bill that should be examined with a view to getting a fair solution of the problem. I do not object to the Land Commission taking the land if necessary but I certainly do object to their confiscating two-thirds of the value of my property.

In regard to the title of the allottee, Senator Brown said he wished that something should be done to prevent the allottee selling. At present I believe the practice is that the allottee does not get his title for several years and I think he is allowed at present to sublet. I should be glad if the Minister would impose a condition on these allottees under which they would not be allowed to sublet their lands. They should be made to work.

I also think the Minister ought to give farmers compensation for disturbance. The idea of transferring a man probably from Kerry to Dublin, or from Dublin to Cork and giving him equal market value is not fair. You are upsetting a man's way of business. You are disturbing him in his farm and putting him at a great disadvantage by placing him in a new area. He may know the business better where he is and the possibilities of selling his produce better than where he will be sent. You are interrupting the free flow of that man's enterprise and provision should be made for compensation for disturbance. I think it would be only reasonable. Even if you disturb a man in a house which you have let to him, you have to compensate him. That principle exists all over and why it should not be embodied in this Bill I cannot understand. I hope the Minister will accept an amendment making reasonable provision for disturbance.

Then there is the question of the open market and the price of land. If we were in normal times and had no trouble I believe the market value is really the annuitant's interest in the land. That is what he could get for the land from his neighbour; what you would pay for a farm of land if you bought it in the open market and if we had not got disturbance and depression. I think we ought to try and get some means of explaining what is meant in this Bill by market value. I know it is a very difficult thing to define and perhaps it might be dangerous to define it. It might do harm. Sometimes in trying to do good you do harm. I think, however, some attempt should be made to explain what this market value means. My interpretation of it is, what a tenant or owner would be likely to get in a free market in normal times when his neighbours would be land hungry and one would compete against another and he would get a good price. That is my opinion of what market value is.

The question of arrears is also one that should be dealt with in a different way. Senator Bagwell mentioned the injustice done to the man who paid his way and perhaps on the Committee Stage an attempt might be made to equalise the man who did pay his way. If the Minister would meet a reasonable amendment in that connection it would be to the advantage of the Bill. I am not opposed to the Bill, because I know it is necessary. I do not like this interference with the land. I would very much regret if the Land Commission came and interfered with me in my business. I recognise, however, that the necessity exists and I do not see how it can be cured. Therefore the Bill is necessary. All we can hope to do, and I hope it will be accomplished, is to amend the Bill so that reasonable safeguards can be inserted and reasonable compensation given and in that way put through a difficult job in the best way possible.

I was very much interested by an interjection made, I think, by Senator Farren during, I think, Senator Wilson's speech, when he said, "We have got new landlords now." I think you have got a moral and a tale underlying that. That expresses this spirit of land hunger, cupidity and political pressure which is wrapt up in this entire measure. Surely at this stage we should have learned that the sanctity of property is not a mere cry to protect the rich man. I know that in certain quarters it is a good platform cry—the rich man's sanctity of property. Senator Johnson laughs because he is the apostle of that doctrine. I do not blame him. He has got to satisfy his followers just as we have to satisfy ours. But I ask him to try to take this on a more or less national plane and to recognise that there is a very great deal of value in security of property, security for all. In the past it was confined to the much despised landlord class. They no longer exist. Senator Wilson talked about compensation for disturbance and he also incidentally spoke of every stone of his own property having been built by himself. I do not say that is not so, but I could challenge many tenants who take that line and tell them that most of the buildings were put up by their landlords. I know of houses of character to-day that nobody else could ever have built. However, that is only by the way.

Senator Wilson talked about compensation for disturbance. What about us poor fellows of the past who for probably about £100 of rent in the 'eighties have finally been settled up on the basis of a revenue from a trust security of perhaps £30? If I felt vindictive I would feel a certain savage glee or joy in the position of Senator Counihan and his class, who are next down the ladder, and tell them and the others who are below them that their turn is coming next. Seeing this thing absolutely as plain as daylight implicit in this policy of confiscation I should have hoped that the last Government would have dealt with it. I think you will remember that I was far more interested in the 1923 Act when I was trying to stop it than perhaps I am now when the thing has gone so far. If there had been real statesmanship they would have said: "We see that this process of nibbling and biting into property is dangerous. For Heaven's sake let us draw the line and let us give compensation and sure security for those who are peasant proprietors." I do not blame the Government. The hill-siders are out and the political clubs. The Government are only their servants. After all, the Government are the servants of the people. Down the country they have this cry: "Buy the land; put in the cow and barbed wire." In the face of that cry the Government cannot help themselves; they are powerless. I say that we are now on the slippery slope. Senator Counihan and his class recognise, no doubt, that those below them will come after them. We have got to do what we can to try and make as good a job as we can out of a bad vicious principle.

Senator Brown has dealt with this question of the judicial position of the appeal tribunal and the question of the open market. There are one or two matters which deal with broad principles to which I should like to refer. First of all, I should like to draw attention to Section 38 which gives the Land Commission power to revise all concluded purchase agreements if they consider the land was not security for the advance. I conceive now, in view of the condition to which the new policy has brought land values, that probably some land is not security for the advance. Does that give a right to take power to reopen all purchase agreements? In some cases the money has been distributed— the bonds have been vested and distributed and they cannot be followed up. In other cases the bonds are at present vested or, in technical terms, they are awaiting proof of title and allocation. Does the Minister think it is right to take power to deal with cases of that kind—to hold for revision bonds that have not been distributed?

Debate adjourned at 1 p.m. and resumed at 2 p.m.

Before resuming, I notice that the Minister is not present yet, but I think the Minister has heard all this before. Before we adjourned, I was dealing with the obvious literal effect of Section 38 which says that if the Land Commission is not satisfied that the holding is security for the standard purchase annuity, it may revise that annuity. I understand that the real intention of that is only to deal with cases of collusion where the landlord and tenant have agreed beforehand to an inflated price and have also, perhaps, an agreement as to the division of the proceeds. If that is the intention of the section, why not make it clear in the Bill by making it read: "If the Land Commission is not satisfied that the holding was security in 1933?" I think that was what was intended by the section and we propose to bring that forward and hope to have it inserted on the Committee Stage. It would be unfair to have an all-round revision of purchase annuities where in some cases the bonds have been paid over and in other cases held. I think that would lead to unfair discrimination. I should also like to have some statement from the Government of its intention with regard to the Guarantee Fund. Personally, I have felt that the Guarantee Fund has outlived its purpose. Originally, it was a lever by which the British Government could safeguard itself against any repudiation of annuities. In case of such a happening, it then had power to set it off against the grant-in-aid of rates. These conditions no longer apply and the Government has complete power and, I think, should take responsibility for collecting these itself and should not pass the responsibility on to the ratepayers. A further effect is that it, undoubtedly, does make the Government lax in the collection of annuities. We all know of cases where annuities have been allowed to go as far as six or seven years into arrears. Does anybody believe that the Government would allow that state of affairs to come about unless it had power to make good its arrears of annuities out of the grant-in-aid? I think it is most unfair to saddle local ratepayers with this and at the same time not allow local authorities to be in a position to collect these annuities themselves. I think the Government should seriously consider that matter and abolish altogether the outlived purpose of the Guarantee Fund.

Finally, I should like to refer briefly to the question of sporting rights. I have particularly in mind fishing rights which have considerably more value than shooting rights. Recently they have been bought for very large sums of money and the owners of these rights have every right to be safeguarded in their property. If they are to be bought out it ought to be on the basis of the full market value of such rights. I hope that the House will agree not to disturb the present security of those owners who at present enjoy fishing rights. That is all I have got to say about this Bill, but I should like to point out that there is implicit in this Bill this increasing danger of insecurity which is now touching a lower grade of the social scale, and I say that the time will come when the lowest grade of all will become subject to the predatory appetites that this Bill certainly encourages.

I rise to support the Second Reading of this Bill. From the speeches we have heard so far, it is evident that there is not very great opposition to the Second Reading except in the speech of Senator Counihan. I was here when the Act of 1923 was being discussed in the Seanad, and I then heard from Senator Counihan far more drastic criticism of the 1923 Bill than we have heard from him to-day as regards the present Bill. I am not at all alarmed that any injustice will be done to the farmers whose land will be taken. There is provision for compensation, and when that is so it cannot be said that there is any confiscation of their property. The principle of the compulsory acquisition of land is not new. Land, for instance, can be taken compulsorily for public purposes. We had an example of that in the case of the Shannon scheme when the Government of the day took over sites for poles all over the country and paid very little compensation to the tenants whose lands were entered. In these cases the sites for the poles can always be visited by the employees of the Shannon scheme to execute repairs and for other purposes. I have known cases where they have entered tilled fields, where corn and root crops were being grown, and where as a result of their entry considerable damage was done. Under the Labourers (Ireland) Acts land was also acquired compulsorily. Therefore, the principle of the compulsory acquisition of land has been in existence for a great number of years. Judging them by their actions up to the present, I think we must all recognise that the officers of the Land Commission are very reasonable men. They carry out their duties in a very reasonable manner and cause as little hardship as possible to the people with whom they are dealing.

The main principles of this Bill were outlined by the Minister in his opening speech. He mentioned about the reduction in purchasers' annuities. That part of the Bill will, I am sure, meet with the approval of all tenant purchasers. Then there are the provisions dealing with payments in lieu of rent and interest in lieu of rent as well as with tithe rent charges which exist in a good many cases, and in connection with which no provision was made in any of the previous Land Acts to give relief to the payers. The Bill also contains a section which will enable many long leaseholders who hitherto were excluded from land purchase to come in and obtain the benefit of land purchase. That provision will enable them to have their annuities halved so that it will mean a considerable benefit to that class of tenant. I know that a good number of these long leaseholders have already been admitted to the benefits of land purchase, but a great many of them were unable to comply with all the conditions that previously existed, and were, therefore, excluded from its benefits.

The section in the Bill repealing a section in the 1923 Act, which provided that the rent under a long lease should be equal to a third term rent, will enable all the remaining long leaseholders to come in and get the benefit of land purchase. Generally under long leases the tenants would have to pay practically for ever. It will be an advantage to them, not alone to have their term of payment reduced, but also the amount of the payment halved, as it will be when this Bill becomes law. An important section in the Bill relates to the tenants who were excluded under previous Acts in consequence of this, that their holdings were considered as potential building ground. In this House we made two or three attempts to bring those people in. Bit by bit their case was considered and they got some relief, but there was always the condition that, if the landlord took up the land and did build upon it, they would be excluded. The landlord then got a period of five years, which might be extended indefinitely, and it was extended indefinitely. Now under the section in this Bill relating to potential building ground these people will be permitted to come in and purchase their holdings. The original idea was that if a tenant purchased his holding it would be impossible for prospective builders to obtain sites near a town or city. That is a very wrong idea because it would be much easier for a builder to negotiate with a single individual than with a tenant and a landlord. It might be difficult enough to deal with one, but it is far more difficult to deal with two. In the case of the compulsory acquisition of land near towns for building purposes, it really does not matter who is the owner, because the local authority can at any time apply for compulsory powers and, having obtained them, proceed no matter who is the owner.

I observe that the words "market value" appear in a few places throughout the Bill. I remember that when the 1923 Act was being considered in this House some of us endeavoured to get the then Minister to agree to put some such words as these in the Act, but he refused to do so. It may be necessary to have the words "market value" more clearly defined, as has been suggested by Senator Brown. I have no doubt that the Minister will consider favourably any reasonable amendments put forward in Committee to make this and other matters clear. While I am in favour of the principle of the Bill, and propose voting for the Second Reading of it, I desire to say that any reasonable amendments that are put forward with a view to improving the measure, will have my support and vote. I hope the Minister will consider favourably amendments which, while not interfering with the principle of the Bill, will tend to improve it. All the Land Bills that came before the Seanad were amended by it and, in my opinion, the amendments made improved them. In conclusion, I desire to say that I have much pleasure in supporting the Second Reading of this Bill.

At the risk of being dubbed a Communist, I am going to support this Bill. As has been stated, the principle enshrined in this Bill was enshrined in the 1923 Act, which gave power to take any land anywhere. This is simply an extension of the principle and an attempt to make more easy the task of the administrative section in dealing with the acquisition of the land and the provision of land for landless men. I was astonished when I heard Senator Counihan refer to dictatorship and say that the Minister would be a dictator under this Bill. He went on to describe the most important sub-sections in Section 6 of the Bill as "eyewash." I think that is hardly fair in view of the fact that it is set out in black and white in the Bill that the Minister will have no control over certain most important functions. The most important functions are still reserved to the tribunal, to consist of the judicial commissioner and two lay commissioners.

Practically all the important functions with regard to the acquisition of land, the determination of persons from whom land is to be acquired, the determination of the actual land to be acquired, the determination of the price to be paid for the land, the selection of the persons for the land, the determination of the price at which the land is to be sold, the determination of the new holding to be provided for the tenant or proprietor whose holding has been acquired by the Land Commission— these are the most important functions in connection with the Land Purchase scheme and these functions are to be retained by the Commissioners. It is hardly fair to suggest that these provisions are "eyewash."

There is no appeal except on the question of price even to the appeal tribunal.

Senator Counihan cannot ride away on that and say that the Minister is going to be a dictator when it is provided that he will not be a dictator in respect of the most important functions to be performed under the Bill. I listened with great interest to the speech made by Senator Brown and I considered it a most reasonable speech. Senator Brown referred to the issue of the writs by the sheriff or the county registrar. Senator Brown and I were members of a Joint Committee set up by the Oireachtas to consider the Courts of Justice Act. The Senator will remember that, during the proceedings of the Joint Committee, this question was dealt with very fully. I put forward the plea at that Joint Committee and endeavoured to get a recommendation made that the Government do exactly what they propose to do under this Bill in connection with these arrears. The evidence put before the Joint Committee was to the effect that in 97 per cent. of the cases the only reason for non-payment of land annuities was inability to pay. The unfortunate people who were unable to meet their liabilities were having the legal costs added to the amount they already owed.

I pressed very strongly for a recommendation by the Joint Committee on the identical lines contained in this Bill. No new principle is involved at all. I argued before the Joint Committee that if I did not pay my rates it was not necessary for the municipality to bring me into court. The municipality could send the sheriff immediately on me or on any other person who did not pay his rates. If that principle is good enough for the collection of rates, surely it is good enough for the collection of arrears of land annuities. It was in order to save the unfortunate people who are not in a position to pay their annuities from being saddled with legal costs that I made the suggestion and I am very glad the Minister had the courage to put it into this Bill. I agree that in some cases there may be a question in dispute but, generally speaking, there is no question in dispute. The tenant knows the amount of his annuity. The Land Commission have in their books a record of the amount he owes. There might be a clerical error or the wrong person might be distrained, but surely that can be rectified. Surely if sufficient time is given, as Senator Brown suggested, from the date on which the sheriff makes the demand, the person concerned could be notified that if he had any objection or complaint he should lodge it with the sheriff before the issue of the distress warrant. I think that this is a very desirable provision and will save the saddling of people who are not in a position to pay with legal costs. The present practice is making their unfortunate position worse.

I think that Senator Wilson is to be congratulated on the manner in which he dealt with the Bill. He said he was supporting the Bill because it was necessary. I am supporting the Bill because I believe it is necessary. The necessity for the Bill is that we have many thousands of able-bodied young men who find it impossible, under existing circumstances, to live with their parents. The area of the parent's holding is not sufficient for a large family and some provision must be made to enable these men to get a livelihood. It is all very well to talk about security, but they are entitled to some security. What security have they? They are entitled to be put in a position to earn their bread and to live a Christian life in a Christian country.

This is not a Christian country.

I am astonished to hear Senator Miss Browne say that this is not a Christian country.

Christian principles have all been thrown to the winds.

Different people have different ideas of Christian principles. My idea of Christian principles is that every man and woman who goes through this world has a God-given right to get a decent livelihood. That is what I believe to be a Christian principle.

To get a decent livelihood by his own energy.

Yes. He should be given the opportunity and this Bill proposes to give him the opportunity. It proposes to give him the land so that he will have an opportunity to earn his livelihood. If you do not give it to him, he will not get an opportunity to earn his livelihood. These are true Christian principles.


I do not mind being dubbed a Communist. I believe in Christian Communism.

There is no such thing.

It is Christian Communism——

We have it out now —Christian Communism.

A contradiction in terms.

Why did Senator Farren not put the word "Catholic" into it?

We do not want to introduce religion and I do not want to argue religion with Senator Counihan. If I wanted to do so, perhaps I could do it as well as he. It is not in accord with Christian principles that one person should be entitled to get all the means of livelihood and, through greed and avarice, deprive others of getting a decent livelihood. If these are the principles that Senator Counihan would talk about, then we disagree entirely. I do not believe for a moment that this Government has any desire or that any Government that will succeed it will have any desire to interfere with the tenant farmers who have holdings only sufficient to enable them to provide for themselves and for those dependent upon them. It proposes that people who have not alone decent farms, from which they can provide for themselves and those dependent on them, but who have thousands of acres in other parts of the country, should give up some of these acres, which they do not use, in order to give other people an opportunity of producing food. If there was not confiscation in the past Senator Counihan and people like him would not have the land that they have now.

That is not right.

It is absolutely right. In this country it has been found necessary, in order to provide for the real people, to have measures such as this introduced, to enable the people to get the living they are entitled to out of land that belongs, in the first place, to the people of Ireland.

It does not.

Who does it belong to?

It belongs to the people who bought and paid for it.

That argument could hold good on behalf of people who bought sides of the country many years ago for practically nothing. If that argument held good why did successive British Governments since 1880 introduce Land Acts, giving them power to acquire land compulsorily? There are such things as the rights of private property. I believe in the rights of private property.

Very little.

I believe in the rights of private property, but I do not believe that one man is entitled to anything that would prevent others from getting a livelihood. It is essential, in order to give thousands of people an opportunity of earning their bread, that measures such as this should be passed, so as to enable the Government to have power to acquire the land, and to give it to the people to provide a livelihood for themselves and their families. Senator Wilson admitted that the Bill was necessary, and stated that for that reason he was going to support it. The Senator knows the necessity for the Bill, and I know the necessity for it, and I am going to support it. As Senator Linehan stated the same arguments that were put forward to-day were used when the 1923 Bill was before the House. I listened to Senator Counihan during the debates that took place on the Act of 1923 and, if my memory serves me right, he denounced that Act in more forcible terms than he denounced the present Bill. I supported the Act of 1923 because I believed it was necessary. I am supporting this Bill for the same reason.

And the next one.

If another Bill is necessary I will support it. I will be consistent. The necessity is there.

A Senator

And you supported the "cuts" in pay.


That is irrelevant.

I am not ashamed of anything I did in connection with the Public Services (Temporary Economies) Bill. I glory in it. I will be consistent, which is more than can be said of some people. I was not afraid, nor shaking at the knees, when going into the Division Lobby to vote on the Public Service (Temporary Economies) Bill. I am sorry I have brought all this fire on myself by my remarks. Senator Sir John Keane referred to an interjection of mine regarding new landlords. When some Senator stated that the old landlords were gone I remarked that the new landlords were here. I meant new landlords who own very large tracts of land, which they are not prepared to give up at any cost in order to enable unfortunate people with no land to have an opportunity of earning a livelihood in their native land. That is what I meant by new landlords, more particularly people who are not producing anything from the lands they have. As Senator Wilson stated, it was necessary to introduce this Bill to deal with that situation and, because that is the position, I am going to support it.

Any thinking individual who lives in this country will admit that it is really a problem to absorb in employment all the young people who are coming along every year. Unless something is done for them there is bound to be an increasing amount of unrest in any country. I think one of the chief duties of any Government is to make the best provision it can for absorbing these young people, in the general interest of the community as a whole, and to keep unrest from fomenting simply for want of employment, on the one hand, and the failure to secure a means of living, on the other hand. But I am very sorry that the idea is to have the "general post" which this Land Bill proposes. An acceleration of the "general post," in a reasonable and calculated manner, is ideal, but I do not think that there is any chance whatever of keeping up with requirements that the increase of the population demands in this particular way. I suggest that provision for this increased population should have been made, not by moving people from where they live, but by subsidising in a reasonable manner industries ancillary to agriculture, in small towns and in districts where congests are living, and further by subsidising and improving the productivity of the land by lime schemes and drainage schemes, by bringing the work to them instead of removing them from localities they know, in which they have lived for generations, and putting them into new homes where they have to make good again in strange circumstances, and without adequate capital. From the taxpayer's point of view, that undoubtedly would be a very much cheaper method than the "general post" that this Bill proposes. As Senator Brown stated, if this Bill is to be a success at all, it must involve the provision of houses and buildings, and will affect directly or indirectly boards of health in the way of home assistance and also the various councils. The taxpayers will have to provide for annuities and rates during the earlier years, in order to assist migrants to build up homes in new localities. I am speaking of the migrants, small farmers in congested districts, evicted tenants, and landless men.

In the interim what are you doing? You are deliberately destroying the bigger production unit certainly. These units may not be making a great deal of money but they are paying their way. In that way you are reducing the wealth that the nation had got without any guarantee at all that the new units when they are established will provide a larger quota of our national economy than the present units do. As regards the Bill itself, there are a great many things which we will have to discuss exhaustively on the Committee Stage. At this stage I am only concerned with four points. Of these, two have already been dealt with by Senator Brown. One of them is the question of the restriction in the power of the judicial commissioner on questions of law. The second point has to do with the meaning of the words "market value." These two points are interdependent. The Minister said that he required the altered powers which the preliminary sections indicated because other Departments in the State are concerned with him in this.

I just happened to come across a cutting the other day. I think it was from theCork Examiner. This cutting in some way puts a different construction on the reasons for these administrative alterations. That was a statement from a member of the Fianna Fáil Party in which, speaking down in Kerry, he said that a committee of the Fianna Fáil Party were appointed to consider the Land Bill and he says the Minister in framing the Bill had the services of a very able lawyer in the person of Senator Michael Comyn, K.C. We all agree with that. In this cutting Mr. Flynn strongly criticised the Land Bills of the late Government which made it possible only for the landlords and ranchers to live but did nothing for the small farmers. The present Government he said were anxious to remove Judge Wylie but it was necessary to get a two-thirds majority in both Houses of the Oireachtas in order to be able to do so. That is from a statement of a member of the Fianna Fáil Party. I think there must be some truth or semblance of the truth in a statement of that kind. It certainly, to my mind, weakens the necessity for restricting the powers of the judicial commissioner in the way they have been restricted. To some extent the Minister gave way in the Dáil on this subject and possibly he may reconsider the section as it stands.

The other point has been dealt with by other Senators. The main point is the glaring injustice that has been perpetrated on the man who up to now has paid his way. The man who defaulted has been given consideration. A great many of them defaulted. I have sympathy with those who defaulted through misfortune, but my experience of county council work is that in many cases the great majority of them defaulted because they hoped that something would occur which would make it unnecessary to pay the annuities. I am justified in saying that because the great majority of the Irish farmers paid up. I, therefore, think that on the Committee Stage we must make some proposal to place the people who paid up at any rate on an equal footing with the man who left unpaid three or four year's annuities.

There is the point of compensation which Senator Wilson mentioned very clearly. I need not refer to it more than to say that in these new circumstances, quite different from the circumstances that obtained heretofore, where a man can be disturbed from his home at a moment's notice and without any safeguards, you have a new situation quite different to what obtained under the earliest Land Acts. In these circumstances compensation for disturbance and its attendant losses must be very carefully considered by this House. Another section of great importance in the Bill to the people in this country is the section dealing with compulsory acquisition and the extension of the powers to acquire land compulsorily in the case of tenanted lands. These were the subject of voluntary agreement a short time ago. That whole section was brought in as an afterthought on the Report Stage at the instance of a Government backbencher. It had not been thought of before. To my mind it provides an instance of the possibilities of injustice which may arise now that the various safeguards which were included in the 1923 Land Act are being cut out.

I must say that the Minister, in the Dáil, without departing from his main principle, conducted this Bill with a very marked appreciation of and a spirit of compromise with regard to the questions which were honestly and logically put to him in connection with the Bill. I take it that in the original draft he left himself a margin. I hope he has still a margin to meet many of the amendments which will be moved by this House and thus improve the Bill as far as a Bill of this kind can be improved. These will be moved in a way to help the man who wants to make a livelihood in this country at the present time, and an effort will be made to try and put a Bill like this into some shape where it can do as little harm as possible to the agricultural community.

I would like to say at the start that I agree altogether with those who have spoken against the Bill. As far as I am concerned, as a tenant farmer and as a representative of tenant farmers, I must say that I can see nothing in the Bill that farmers of any size or sort could expect to help them. In my opinion the Bill seems to aim at public ownership and nationalisation in the matter of the compulsory acquisition of land that it is sought to enact in it. According to this Bill a man can only retain his lands if he works them in the public interest—if he works them aiming at food production in an economical manner and so on. These matters, I suppose, will be determined by the commissioners under the Act. But it seems to me an extraordinary thing that tenant farmers, taking into account the economic strictures under which they suffered for the last couple of years, should have such conditions imposed on them under this Bill. I think it is an extraordinary thing that such conditions should now be sought to be imposed under this Bill notwithstanding the fact that with the present prices for their farm produce they cannot carry on.

The most extraordinary thing in this debate on this Bill is the attitude of the Labour representatives. If this Bill is carried to its logical conclusion it will mean that the large wage-paying farmers will be destroyed, so to speak, and in fact they will no longer be able to exist. Consequently numbers of agricultural labourers will be displaced. It is an extraordinary state of affairs that in such circumstances a farmer or Labour representative should stand up and say that those wage-paying farmers should be put into the position of being unable to carry on farming any longer or to pay wages any longer. That is what a vote for this Bill will mean. These agricultural labourers if displaced will in the future be unable to get any economic employment.

With reference to the remission of annuities, it strikes me that that will largely be nullified by the losses that are being sustained by farmers. Rates have been increasing within the last few years both in a mandatory manner through the Oireachtas and also in a permissive way on the part of local councils. Local authorities have hardly in any case neglected to levy the permissive rates. The fact is, at any rate, that rates are going up. In these circumstances, the concession of half annuities will be largely nullified.

It seems to me an extraordinary thing that public representatives should be ready to stand up for public ownership of land. It must be considered that the incomes of farmers depend largely on the cost of services outside their control. Government expenses have been increased by £4,000,000 or £6,000,000 within the last couple of years. Many public and semi-public services have increased in cost. All this reacts unfavourably on the prices received by farmers. They are not, in consequence, able to maintain themselves as they are expected to do. They will certainly find it difficult to maintain production or to increase production of food. There will be difficulty also in making way for an increased population on the land.

I do not approach this matter in a narrow-minded way. I believe that conditions must be made favourable for all these young men and women; they must get suitable economic employment and decent methods of living. But I think this is not the way to achieve that end. Has any consideration been given to the question as to what would be the income of a settler on 20 or 30 acres of land? I have reason to believe from some calculations I have made—I do not suggest I am absolutely correct—that the income from a 20 or 30 acre farm would not compare very favourably with the income of an ordinary wage earner.

I think it is very unfair that the non-agricultural classes should endeavour to impose their will on the farming community from the point of view of working farms in the public interest. Those particular classes are in receipt of far better incomes and they have far more security in life. I suggest there is a great number of unemployed people amongst the farming community, people who have very little hope of a steady income. Amongst the farmers, too, are to be found many people who have very little in the way of remuneration for their work. Compared with other classes of the community, their income is ridiculously small. Going back to the 1926 census of production and population, I think the figure in respect of the agricultural community is something like £30 a head, as compared with £95 a head in respect of the non-agricultural community.

It is nothing less than an act of tyranny for those classes to stand up and endeavour to impose their will on the people from whom they want to take land and on the people to whom they will give land. It would be nothing less than tyranny to do that until at least incomes would be more favourably distributed. One Senator mentioned about certain farmers putting up stone after stone in their dwellings and outhouses and constructing fences and drains. Then somebody comes along and says to those farmers, "You must go to Donegal or Kilkenny or some other place." Money would not compensate a man who has worked for years to make his holding a comfortable one. It is beyond one's comprehension that a man in such a position should be moved to an alternative holding. It is an inconceivable thing to take any man from a holding in which he has lived for years and transfer him into another area. Monetary compensation could not mean anything to such a man.

I intervene in this discussion with a certain diffidence because land legislation is supposed to be so full of intricacies that only lawyers or agriculturists can claim to say anything about it. There are, however, a few aspects of this Bill, the significance of which even an ordinary intelligent layman can appreciate. The suggestion was made that this Bill is a better one than when it was introduced in the Dáil. I think that is not an accurate way of describing the change that has taken place in it. It would be more accurate to say that certain sections of it are less objectionable than in the original draft.

Senator Brown pointed out that this Bill is for the purpose of grappling with a certain problem, namely, with congests and landless men. I regret the Minister did not preface his analysis of the Bill with an outline of the approximate dimensions of the problem—the amount of congests, the amount of landless men, the areas where these problems press severely and where lands might readily be acquired for relief purposes. In the absence of such information it is not easy to understand how far the provisions of this Bill, in so far as they are workable, can deal in any way with a situation with which we are told this Bill attempts to deal.

It is understood that a Second Reading gives sanction to the principle of a measure. What I am rather puzzled to know is what is the principle that we are asked to sanction in this measure. It certainly introduces some new conception of dealing with land in this country.

It is a resort to a process of rationing the land and putting a maximum limit to the amount of land any individual may hold. That may be a good or a bad thing but let us recognise that is what appears to be aimed at. I think a new function is being placed upon the Land Commission. I may be inadequately informed as to the functions of the Land Commission, but, as I understand it, the functions of the Land Commission were to transfer land to occupying tenants. This Bill, I think, creates a new function for the Land Commission, namely to make regulations for the working of the farms after they have been transferred to the tenants. Further, by something embodied in this Bill, the ordinary annuities are being transformed into State annuities thereby introducing the principle of a tax on land in regard to land purchase. It is to be a source of State revenue but a diminishing source of revenue according as the annuitants buy out their holdings. There is apparently to be a periodical arrangement, when fresh annuitants contribute fresh annuities to the State. That appears to be a definitely new aspect for land legislation. It may be a good, or it may be a bad principle, but let us recognise that it is there, and let us try to ascertain whether it is going to be an advantage or a disadvantage to the State.

Several Senators have alleged that this Bill is on all fours with the Land Act of 1923. There is probably a good deal in that argument, but there is a principle in this Bill which, I think, was absent from the Act of 1923. That principle was more defined by the Minister himself in his speech than it is expressed in definite terms in the provisions of the Bill. At least from the statement of the Minister we could gather that it is what the Bill aims at. On the Fifth Stage of the Bill the Acting-Minister for Lands and Fisheries said, "I think it has been generally agreed that a man's title to his land is the use he makes of it." If that is not a new principle I do not know what is the meaning of the English language. In other words it is not because a man has bought his holding, paid his annuities and paid his rates that he has a title to his land, but simply because of the particular use he makes of his holding. If that is so it means that security of tenure, which was assumed to have followed upon the purchase of his holding, is gone finally and forever unless further legislation is introduced to restore it. These are the Minister's own words. A man's title to his land is not the transaction of the purchase of his holding but the use he makes of that holding. If that is not, I will not say a mere disturbance of tenure, but an actual annihilation of the security of tenure I do not know the meaning of these words. His title is to depend upon the use he makes of his land. It is a curious test. Who in the Department of the Land Commission is to determine whether a man is using his land in a fit economic or satisfactory way? Is it to be the present Minister for Lands and Fisheries whose knowledge of agriculture, so far as I know, would fit on the top of the threepenny piece, and still not cover the whole surface of that coin? Who is to be the judge? Is the judgment upon that to vary with the change of forces in political parties? Is it to be a Sinn Fein Club that will decide whether so and so is making fit and effective and economic use of his land and pass that on to the Minister? Here you are hitting a vital blow at security of tenure and one which, as far as I can judge, is calculated to disturb any and every approach to land settlement that has ever taken place in this country during the last half century.

I do not wish to misconstrue the Minister's words or to misread the provisions of the Bill. I do not wish to judge the merits of this Bill in a partisan way. This is a matter of major importance which will vitally affect the future of the State and if I have inaccurately interpreted the views of the Minister I hope he will correct me. We are told this is a Bill for congests and landless men, and it is to secure the settlement of these persons that the land is going, so to speak, to be rationed. The maximum amount to be allowed to a tenant occupier under certain conditions is to be of the value of £2,000. The Minister told us, in the speech to which I have referred, that there is only a restricted supply of land, and it will have to be used for the benefit of the whole community. That restricted supply of land secured by people in this Free State will sooner or later be used up. The process of the growth, year after year, of another group of landless men, is likely to continue. When the land acquired under the present proposal has been used up, or divided, then we will probably be confronted with the necessity for further division. Farms of the value of £2,000 will not then be the standard of the ration to be permitted and probably a standard of £1,000 will be the proposal. That process will go on and will be repeated after successive requirements are satisfied, until, as Professor O'Sullivan said in the Dáil, the other day, there will be uneconomic holdings for everybody. I do not say that there is any kind of evil idea animating Ministers in this proposal; they are probably fully convinced they are acting in a spirit of righteousness—the spirit of what Senator Wilson would describe as Christian Communism, but the point to consider is where this is leading us to. A permanent state of general uneconomic holdings through the State? Is that a good thing? It may not be intended but it seems to me that this is either going to tend to that, if persisted in, or tend to something in the nature of State control and State regulation of land on conditions somewhat similar to those obtaining in Soviet Russia. Those who have fought for security of tenure in their land, a man having bought over his holding and feeling "Well, at last this is my home, I cannot be disturbed from here if I meet my liabilities"—those who have argued for that, may have been all wrong but at least let us not be plunged into a measure that commits us to the belief that they were entirely wrong in the belief that they were doing something further to establish the right of the people in the security of their homes.

So far as I can see there will be at least two Bills to follow this. Before I come to that I want to ask a question. Section 29, I think, is the one which comes most dangerously near the disturbance and the disestablishment of security of tenure. Sub-section (4) of Section 29 repeals sub-section (5) of Section 24 of the Land Act of 1923. I should like the Minister to explain why that is being done. This sub-section which is repealed did provide a species of safeguard against disturbance and why it is going to be repealed now, I have not been able to ascertain by going through the debates. The sub-section which is repealed provided that

The Land Commission shall not, without the consent of the owner, acquire land from him under the powers conferred on them by sub-section (3) of this section so long as there is other unacquired land in the same locality suitable for relieving congestion which does not come within the exceptions mentioned in sub-section (2) of this section.

That seemed to be a fair and reasonable safeguard. Why has that been repealed? If there is other land available for the purpose of relieving congestion in that particular area, why is it that the Minister insists on taking power, by the repeal of that section, to acquire lands which are not required for that purpose? I think that is further evidence of the fact that definitely and deliberately disturbance of fixity of tenure is aimed at in this Bill. We ought to consider how far we can counteract that tendancy because I think no one can doubt the adverse effect upon progress and stability within the country that such a proposition as this, if put into operation, will have.

We are told that the aim of the Minister is to stimulate production. I do not know if there is anything that could be more fatal to progress and the productive handling of holdings than to create in the minds of occupiers the feeling that they are no longer, no matter what financial provisions they may have made, secure in their holdings, and that their being left in their holdings may depend on the will of some official in Dublin, who may know little or nothing about the development of land. I said that I anticipated that two further Bills are inevitable following this Bill. The Minister in referring to Part III which deals with the remission of certain annuities, used these words, and I would like the Seanad to mark the precise words:

"This is a generous gesture intended to encourage defaulters, many of whom are deserving and were unable to meet their liabilities because of circumstances outside their control."

For that reason they are going to be forgiven their arrears prior to three years ago. If that argument holds good with regard to arrears prior to three years ago, I want to know by what argument can the Minister meet the plea of the man who fell into arrears for the last two years and who probably will continue to fall into arrears for the next couple of years? Can such a man not maintain with unchallengeable reason that the cause of his falling into arrears at present is entirely outside his control? I believe that if this precedent is to be taken as sound, and if the reasons given for this provision are sound, it will be equally urgent to introduce legislative provisions for the forgiving of arrears that have accrued during the continuation of the economic war, for that is a cause of difficulty to farmers which is certainly outside the control of the farmers.

The other matter which will require, I think, legislation of some kind is the question of landless men. I think Senator Brown and Senator The McGillycuddy have already suggested the necessity of making some provision for these men if they are put on the land. I think I read in one of the debates the phrase "landless men with capital." It seems to me that the last thing that a man with capital at the present time would think of doing would be to put that capital into land. A landless man seems to me—I would like to have the phrase better defined —to be a man who is accustomed to agriculture but who has no capital whatever. These men have to be placed on holdings. What is the use of placing a man without capital on a piece of land big enough to be economic if he has not the equipment to work it? As far as I can see there is no provision in this Bill to enable that man to start on his new holding with any prospect of success. So that I take it it will be necessary to implement this Bill by making arrangements for credit facilities for these men. If that is so, it would be well that we should know what financial provision will be necessary; what would be the cost to the State; to what extent this Bill, supplemented by financial provision for this particular aspect, is going to cope with the problem of the congests and landless men.

The Minister told the Dáil that this is a Bill to help in the division of land. So far as I have been able to study the Bill and grasp it, it is a Bill to speed up the acquisition of land, but there is not a single definite provision in it for speeding up the division of land. It expresses an aspect of the land hunger which, as far as I can see, is the land hunger of the Minister, and not the land hunger of the people it is going to deal with. I said at the beginning that missing from this discussion to-day is something that is very essential, namely, an outline of the dimensions of the problem that the Minister is presumably trying to cope with. If it was an oversight that that was not done, it would be well if we had that when the Minister is winding up the debate, so that we can, on the Committee Stage, consider how far this measure is going to deal with it. I take it it is the intention of the Minister to face up to some problem, that this is not a mere wanton decision to disturb security of tenure for the purpose of disturbing security of tenure. I presume the Minister has some conception of the number of congests to be provided for, the extent of the land required for the relief of congestion, and what is the acreage required to provide economic holdings for the landless men. I should also like to know what is the amount of land at present acquired and not divided—I believe it is fairly substantial—and why that land at present at the disposal of the Land Commission has not been divided.

I ask for this information in all sincerity so that we may be able to grasp this problem. We want to know whether the land that the Minister has in mind as available for acquisition, or which could be acquired, will be adequate to meet the problem that he is endeavouring to cope with, or if, at the back of his mind, he believes that there is not enough land to go round. If the economic position of the State is going to be concentrated in a major sense upon planting the people on the land does he believe that that can be done in a sound economic way and one that will not leave further and worse congestion than anything he is dealing with at present? I ask these questions in no Party spirit. I think there are very grave and serious dangers in this Bill. I think further that these things which, in my opinion, are unsound economically, and I might also say morally and ethically, are fundamental to this Bill; that if you remove these defects from this Bill you may as well scrap the Bill. We have to face up to these if we are to give a decision in favour of something which can only be justified from the standpoint of Communism, whether it is Christian or Bolshevik. When I read of the Minister in charge of the Bill stating deliberately that for the future the title of a man to his holding will depend on the use he makes of the land, then I say you are right up against a proposal which disturbs the whole problem of land settlement in this country and which may be the provocation and the prelude to one of the worst economic upheavals that this country has ever faced.

Like Senator Milroy I have some diffidence in dealing with this land question in view of the intricacies and technicalities which are bound up with it. Senator Milroy has raised some matters of principle, but I think it is no harm to deal with the subject as I see it from that standpoint. He was, as I was, in the Dáil in 1923 when the ex-Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Hogan, introduced the Land Bill of that year. I remember very vividly the insistence time and again of Deputy Hogan that the intention was to take power to take any land anywhere for the relief of congestion, in the first place, the provision of land for landless men, in the second, followed by provision for evicted tenants and others in order of succession. Power was to be taken to acquire whatever land was required for these purposes. On the First Stage of the Bill on 28th May, 1923, Deputy Hogan is reported as having spoken as follows:—

"All tenancies are to be dealt with and, as far as possible, all uneconomic tenancies will be made economic. The difficulty in the way of effecting that purpose is not so much the shortage of land, but the shortage of land in the right places. For the relief of congestion we propose to take up any land of any kind anywhere. We propose to take up, in the first place, automatically all untenanted land in the congested districts and afterwards, as it is required, we will acquire compulsorily untenanted land outside those districts."

That is the keynote—"for the relief of congestion we propose to take up land of any kind anywhere." The problem was not so much shortage of land, but shortage of land in the right places. Senator Milroy closed his speech by asking the Minister to give some particulars of the extent of the problem, the number of congests that were to be relieved or provided with land, and the amount of land available. I think it will be found that, if one takes congests in the technical sense, having regard to the present prices of agricultural produce, the amount of land that would be required for the relief of congests would be very great indeed; but even ex-Minister Hogan intended to take whatever land was required anywhere for that very purpose. If that was a right principle then, it is a right principle now.

It was not right then.

That is all right for Senator Sir John Keane, and I can appreciate his position and his delight —his subdued delight—in viewing the situation that has evolved not merely from the Land Act of 1923, but from the Land Act of 1870. Senator Milroy, however, and those who think with him—or at least those who act with him, or did act with him in those days and are coming to act with him to-day —cannot very well object to the principles involved in this Bill on that ground. Further than that, Senator Milroy is deeply impressed—he professes to be even horrified—by the thought that the next successor of this Bill will be a still nearer approach to the situation that, he alleges, is developing in Bolshevik Russia. I am sure Senator Milroy reads a good many volumes on these matters, but I think he must have missed the essential feature of the agrarian upheaval in Bolshevik Russia when he suggests that the principles involved in this Bill are in accordance with the principles that hold in Bolshevik Russia.

No, the alternative to those principles.

If Senator Milroy had looked at what is happening in Fascist Italy he might have got a closer analogy to what is proposed to be done here. In Italy they have adopted the same method. They have begun, at least, to subdivide the large holdings and particularly those holdings which are not well worked in the public interest. Perhaps Senator Milroy will also remember, if he reads a little further, that the immediate facts preceding the approach to power of Mr. Hitler were proposals on the part of the Catholic or Centre Party in Germany, who were in power, to subdivide the great estates in East Prussia, and the revolt of the big landlords in that area, and, as a consequence of that revolt, the coming into power of Mr. Hitler. I think that if the Senator would familiarise himself with some of those facts he would not have attacked this Bill on the lines on which he has attacked it. He insisted, however, in the keynote of his speech on the statement which the Minister is said to have made—I think the Minister did make it and I read it myself—that a man's title to his land is the use he makes of it. That, from Senator Milroy's point of view, is the essential evil in this Bill—that the Minister is acting on that principle, and that, therefore, all these evil consequences which he spoke of must follow inevitably on the acceptance of that principle.

It disturbs security of tenure.

The Senator says that it disturbs security of tenure. Sometimes, sir, when I have an occasional hour of leisure, I read certain old volumes dealing with the agitations in this country that were issued by The Irish Loyal and Patriotic Union. Perhaps Senator Sir John Keane will remember some of them. I was reminded to-day, in listening to the speeches, of the note struck by the speeches of the landlords and the landlords' apologists in those days. The landlords, certainly, could have made a case for retaining large holdings under skilled management, and they did make a case. They maintained that the land was more productive under their control than it would be under the control of the tenants who were seeking to get possession or ownership. Pretty well the same kind of argument was used by the defenders of the landlord system as has been used to-day by the opponents of this Bill. I want to ask Senator Milroy and others what was the reason that they denounced, and do denounce, occasionally, the ranching system. I have heard Senator Milroy—and it has been a very common experience in the days before the Treaty and, I think, to some degree, in the days since the Treaty—denounce the ranching system as the evil of this country. What was the essence of that denunciation? The essence of it was that the holder of that land was not taking the most out of it for the public benefit: that the economic interest of the country was being subordinated to the interest of the individual landholder. So careful and moderate a writer as Professor Fletcher, who was the chief agricultural adviser of the Department of Agriculture, wrote some time ago— I think it was just before the Treaty but I am not quite sure of the date; at any rate, it was referred to in the reports of the Commission on Agriculture—as to the probabilities that the ranching system paid the owners of those ranches better than those ranches would have paid them had they been tilled, but that, undoubtedly, the public interest would have been better served had the land been tilled. I am not going to put myself up against Professor Fletcher but, when he says that the public interest was subordinated to the private interest of the ranching owner by this system, I wonder does Senator Milroy stand with Senator Counihan on this question. If not, what was the reason for the opposition to the ranching system? It certainly was deemed by the rancher to be more profitable to him to let his land for grazing and to keep it as such than that he should till it.

Time and again complaints are received about people buying new farms and letting them go into grass for the purpose of grazing and that has been attacked as something detrimental to the public interest. I think the essence of that matter is that it was not deemed to be desirable that the land should be used solely for the financial interest of the person who owned it: that public welfare had to be taken into account: and that, I take it, to be the essence of what the Minister's words were when he said that a man's title to his land is the use he makes of it. Senator Sir John Keane incidentally spoke of my personal attitude to the question of property rights. Many times I have said that I am very much less concerned about who owns a thing than I am about the use that is made of it.

Has the Senator ever protested against what he must know goes on; that where these holdings are striped one can see nothing but barbed wire and perhaps an old cow on them? In the case of many of these holdings that is actually what happens. What is the Senator's attitude towards that use of land?

I am dealing with the principle involved. If a small holder is not utilising his land to full advantage he also should be deprived of his holding.

There are thousands of such all over the country.

I know. I know, for instance, that there are thousands of plots attached to labourer's cottages all over the country that undoubtedly are being wasted.

Is the sub-division of land going to provide a solution?

The sub-division of land in this country, as it is being carried on, has not been the solution; not by any means.

Will this Bill?

I am not contending that the Bill of itself will.

I am glad to hear that.

But one must bear in mind that this Bill, as I see it, is part of a very much bigger policy. I think the Senator himself hinted that it is part of a much bigger policy. It has to be linked immediately with an industrial policy, and it is there we have the answer to the allegation that this process must mean periodical sub-division. I think it will mean periodical sub-division if we are going to rely entirely on agriculture, and I dissent from that at once. I say that there must be, as a corollary to this proposal and to bring land into closer cultivation, an industrial policy which will absorb for the purposes of manufacturing industry the landless men as they are called.

With more sub-division.

For my part I would not subdivide a single 500 acre or a single 5,000 acre holding if it were being well worked, but I would subdivide a single acre holding if only by that means I could secure the maximum amount of production from it. I object to the proposition that because a man stole in the years gone by, or bought in more recent years, a piece of land that that gives him title to use or misuse or leave out of use that piece of land. But land, as every other piece of property, is not the absolute right of the individual. It is a trust for the general interest, and only by the right use of property can property be justified.

Would the Senator apply that to other forms of property?

I apply it to all forms of property: that the use that is made of property is the justification for the private holding of that property.

Is the Senator arguing now in favour of Christian Communism?

If Senator Counihan would have a talk with Senator Sir John Keane he would learn something about Christian Communism. Another of Senator Milroy's objections was that he saw in this Bill a process for the conversion of the annuities into State revenue. He looks upon that as a dangerous procedure and one that should not be countenanced by this House. But, again, the Senator had better have a talk with Senator Counihan who produced for the benefit of this House an extract from a speech made by ex-President Cosgrave. In that extract we were told that Mr. Cosgrave intended this process of the conversion of the annuities into State revenue: that he would have abolished entirely for three years, and as long as the economic war lasted, the paying of annuities, and that after that he would reduce them by 50 per cent. Now is that the conversion of the annuities into State revenue?

Not necessarily.

Just about as much as what is proposed in this Bill is. It is exactly the same process, and if it is objectionable in the one case, then it is equally objectionable in the other. I think that Senator Milroy had better have a talk with the ex-President as to what he meant by his promise to reduce the annuities by 50 per cent. There are quite a number of people, as I gather from the debate, and greatly to my surprise, who are going to support this Bill notwithstanding the assertion, speaking as the spokesman of the farmers of Ireland, of Senator Counihan: that the man who supported this Bill was Communistic and Bolshevik at heart, was setting up an absolute dictatorship over the farmers of Ireland, was taking away every particle of liberty and independence that the farmers of Ireland won during the last 70 years, that it was the most iniquitous Bill ever introduced in any assembly, and that it placed the farmers of Ireland in a worse position than they were in under the old landlord system. Now Senator Miss Browne approves of that. I take it that if she votes for the Second Reading of this Bill she is confessing to be Communistic and a Bolshevik at heart. It may be that Senator Counihan overstated his case: it may be that he was only thinking, not of the farmers of Ireland, but of the ranchers of Ireland; it may be that he was only thinking of a considerable section of the population who, no doubt, have a very big proportion of the agricultural land of Ireland and are using it for grazing purposes and only for grazing purposes, and it may be that he confused that section with the farmers of Ireland.

It seems to me as though the course of this debate is tending to divide the agricultural population into two sections: the grazier-rancher section and the farmer section, the small holder who lives on his farm and attempts to work it—negligently, foolishly and badly sometimes—and the large section who do not pretend to work their farms at all—who are only thinking of the possibility of getting the highest possible income with the least possible amount of human labour. That seems to be the division that is emerging in the course of this debate.

I think that the Bill is taking the next logical step and, probably, the next necessary step, following on the Land Act of 1923. I said, during the debates on that Bill that where large areas were held by farmers and were well worked, employing labour fully, such holdings ought not to be touched or interfered with. I think that that is the intention of this Bill —I am not quite certain whether there is a safeguard—but, as I read it, I think that is the intention and I hope it is—that where large holdings are not worked economically, in the sense that the Minister for Finance used the word yesterday, they will be taken, and that there will be some condition, regarding the working of them according to the practices of good husbandry, imposed upon the eventual holders. I said I had some sympathy with Senator Sir John Keane in regard to the disappointment he must feel at the way the wheel is turning. He might have some sympathy with me if I put these questions to the Minister: What is the justification for the reduction of the annuities by 50 per cent.? What is the justification for the remission of the arrears? Surely it is not that, having withheld the land annuities from Britain, those who originally paid the annuities should be the immediate personal beneficiaries. I am sure that that is not the principle because the case of the Ministry is that the money is justly due to this country as part of the normal revenues of the State, irrespective of whether agriculture is prosperous or otherwise. I take it that the reason is that there has been for some time a serious decline in the values of agricultural produce, accentuated, no doubt, during the last 18 months. A certain amount of economic stress and strain has fallen upon the agricultural community here as elsewhere.

"A certain amount?"

A great deal, if that will satisfy Senator Miss Browne. Agriculture has been faced with an awful problem everywhere. In the case of those who are indebted to the State in one form or another for loans for the purchase of houses, who have fallen upon evil days by reason of the stress of economic circumstances and who are unable to meet their annuities, is the Minister going to assist his Executive Council to bring in measures which will relieve these annuitants of half of their annuities? I know that this means that the recipients of unearned increments from investments will have eventually to bear the cost but I think that we ought to recognise —this will be jam for Senator Milroy and, perhaps, for Senator Sir John Keane—that the process of relieving agriculturists of the financial liabilities of their contracts by virtue of economic stress—a just process, I contend— is equally applicable to those who are suffering from similar depression and from similar stress in other walks of life. I refer to the case of town tenants and annuitants who have borrowed money at high rates of interest during the last ten years to purchase houses and who are suffering from economic stress. There ought to be some regard to the high rates of interest which they are paying on their borrowings. That by the way.

I said that I regarded this Bill as the next logical step to the Act of 1927. The circumstances of the time, as has been admitted, necessarily lead to the production of this kind of Bill. I think that the suggestions made by some Senators would not have been made had this Bill been brought forward by the late Ministry. The late Ministry would, I think, have been bound to introduce a Bill in almost identical terms had they remained in office.

It is with some reluctance that I rise to speak. This has been a long debate and if I were to have the opportunity of going into the Division Lobby and recording my vote against this Bill, I do not think I should make any other protest. It has, I think, been agreed that we must give this Bill a Second Reading. I disagree entirely with Senator Johnson. It is entirely wrong for him to say that if we do not go into the Lobby and vote against this Bill we are approving of the principle of it. If I get the chance I shall vote against it.

We shall call for a division, then.

I shall vote against it.

Senator Johnson says that we give approval to the principle of the Bill if we do not vote against it. I am afraid we are not going to get the opportunity to vote against it. That is what I understand. I agree entirely with those who have spoken against the Bill, especially with Senator Counihan. To my mind, he has made the best speech against the Bill. A lot has been said about the 1923 Act. What is the good of camouflaging the thing? We know perfectly well what was the mentality of the last Government. If I may say so, it was entirely different from that of the present Government. It was a reproach to them that they were the big farmer's friends. The force behind this Bill is coming from a certain class of people from whom the present Government get their support. "Landless men" is a very wide term. The Government get their support from a certain class. We all know who they are. It is to satisfy these people that they bring in this Bill and not for the general good of the country at all. That is all nonsense and camouflage. I am not going to say any more about it or I might say too much. That is enough. Everybody knows what I mean. I jotted down a few points which were made and I intend to make only a few stray observations. A Senator spoke about sentimental interest. That has a special appeal to me. Sentiment is the salt of life. Sentiment has been behind every high endeavour since the world began. I do not like being personal, but as Senator Wilson and other Senators mentioned that their fathers and grandfathers had built the houses in which they lived, they gave that as a justification why land should not be taken indiscriminately, or confiscated, as it will be under this Bill. I do not believe any Senator in this House has as strong a case from the sentimental point of view as I have. I am living in a house which was built by my ancestors nearly 700 years ago. I suppose Senator Johnson will say that they stole it or robbed it. I consider that if they conquered it with their good swords they had a perfect right to do so.

Is that the title?

It is, and it is a good title since the world began. There was confiscation of practically everything, but not of the I.R.A. kind. It was quite a different kind as Senators know well. My ancestors lost property in consequence of their participation in the rebellion of 1641. I happen to live in the same place they lived in. I suppose mine is one of many similar cases. My ancestors lived, like many others, as tenants under those who got property under the Act of Settlement. They worked, and by their own industry, bought back the property. It was only a mere remnant of what it had been. Am I going to sit down and look calmly on when the Government comes along and tells me to get out and to go to Wicklow, to Galway or somewhere else? I am not going to do anything of the kind. I defy any Government to do so. That will not be allowed in my case, or in many others. There are forces which will not allow the Government to do that. I defy them. A newspaper cutting that I have here deals with what is happening in other countries. It refers principally to France, where the sub-division of farms was carried to such an extent that a crisis arose. The policy in vogue was reversed in favour of big farms by amalgamating small farms. The subdivision of farms is another example of the old story: "Too far east is west." France is not the only country that has found that out. The same has happened in Austria and in other countries. Where land has been subdivided into small holdings it was found they were uneconomic. It had another terrible effect in France, because it caused a decline in the population.

The Minister is going to take our land if we do not work it according to his ideas. Who is going to be the judge whether a man is working his land properly or not? Is the farmer a business man, or what is he? Has he not the right to use his land as he likes? What are the rights of private property? Why does not the Minister seek power to go to Senator Guinness, Senator Jameson, Senator Douglas, or other Senators, and say to them: "You have no right to carry on business in your own way, or as you think best. You must do it for the good of the country." That is what Senator Johnson looks forward to. Why not go the whole hog and be done with it? Give up the camouflage! There is any amount of derelict land in this country.

I understand there is an immense amount of land in the hands of the Land Commission, which they have made no attempt to divide. There are derelict farms in County Wexford, some belonging to the banks and others belonging to people who are practically bankrupt, who would be delighted to give them for almost anything. Why not deal with that class of land first? What is the necessity at this particular time—the very worst time that could be chosen in the history of this country—for bringing in a Bill like this? Was it deliberate, so that the land could be taken from the people at the smallest possible value? That assertion has been made, and it is not unlikely. Was it a deliberate thing to depress the value of land, whatever it is, and to hand it over to the Land Commission? We do not know but it was. Conditions were wholly different when the Land Act of 1923 was passed. Land had a much higher value then, and if people had to part with it, they got a good price.

If it had not been for the sentimental reasons I have mentioned, I might have sold my property for thousands of pounds. That would have given me an independent existence, and I could have gone and lived in ease anywhere I wished. Why did I not do so? Because I felt it my duty to live and to work where my ancestors had lived. At present more of my land than I would like is in grass. Why is it in grass? Because in present circumstances I could not afford to pay labourers to till it. Look at the condition of farmers when land is to be confiscated. It is not my wish that my land should be in grass. There is nothing I like better than to have work going on, such as the beet industry with which this House dealt yesterday. As Senator Bagwell asked, who is going to work land when they do not know the hour or the day it will be confiscated? Who is going to take any interest in land under such conditions? Where is the incentive to work the land, to live on it, to slave on it? It has always been the ideal of the farmer to own his land. I remember a good deal about the fight that was made for the land and I remember the sufferings the people went through. Now, as Senator Counihan stated, that is all to go for nothing under this Bill. There is no use in hiding it.

The defaulters who are getting off scot-free are people who are "down-and-out," those who backed Fianna Fáil at the elections. They are getting their reward under this Bill. In my own part of the country scores of industrious people, nearly all small farmers who worked like slaves to pay their debts to the last penny, who even deprived themselves of necessaries—I will not say luxuries, because they are not used to them—to pay their land annuities looked forward to the day when the annuities would cease and when they would become owners in fee of their land. That was their ideal and their incentive. All these are to be sacrificed for the defaulters, for the lazy, for the idle, for the wasters, for the Pickwickians, who saw a hope of Fianna Fáil getting into power when they would not have to pay anyone and would get out of their obligations. These people are being treated well under this Bill. One can hardly talk calmly about it. You cannot expect a person with an honest outlook to speak calmly about this Bill.

When the landless men are put on the land and are working it what is going to be done with the produce? What can we do with the produce that we have now? The man who works hardest loses most at present. The man who does not work his land but who has it overrun with thistles and rushes is best off. The man who tries to keep things going is losing because, as his market has gone, he cannot dispose of his produce. That is why it is such a terrible injustice to bring in a Bill of this kind. Even if we agree with the principle of the Bill, conditions now are wholly different from what they were when the Land Act of 1923 was passed. As the ex-Minister for Agriculture stated, a Government might bring in a Bill to improve the condition of the farmers or to make their cattle or produce more valuable. That is the duty of a Government. That was the aim of the ex-Minister for Agriculture —to get the farmers to do more and to do it better. That was the proper outlook. I have always been an advocate of the mixed farm. I was brought up to that class of farming.

I am not a rancher. That word "rancher" is absurd and ridiculous applied to Ireland or to anything in Ireland at all. It is an American term for men who hold land extending for leagues and leagues, on both sides. But applied to Ireland it is a ridiculous term. Who and what is the so-called rancher? He supplies the market for the small farmer's cattle and he fills a very valuable place in the nation's economy. He was not a waster who looked at the grass growing. If you take him away you take away the market for the poor man's store cattle. It is a well known fact that there is a great deal of land in Ireland that is uneconomic to till or break up. We have examples of the result of compulsory tillage during the Great War. At that time owing to the compulsory tillage a great deal of the good land of Ireland was ruined. It takes centuries to put that sod on the land which is peculiar to Ireland. That is one of the great advantages that we have been given in this country—the peculiar conditions of the country which produce that wonderful grass and soil. There is nothing like it on the Continent of Europe. One has to go to the virgin soil of the west of America before one finds anything like it. Why should this land be tilled if it is found more economical to graze it?

This talk about ranches and ranchers is a ridiculous fetish. I am a tillage farmer myself and my people have always been tillage farmers. Even if you could till the land—and I hold the present conditions make it impossible just now—where would you sell the produce at the present time? To bring about the object sought is impossible under the present conditions. Some Senator asked a while ago who is to provide the money to finance these landless men. Some of them are men who never worked on the land. How is the thing going to be worked at all in view of the fact that we are losing our market for anything that they can produce? I am totally against the Bill and this is the worst possible time that could be chosen in the whole history of the country for the bringing in of such a Bill. All I can do is to raise my voice and say these few words in protest.

Like Senator Johnson, I was agreeably surprised at many of the speeches made by the Opposition. While I do not propose to throw compliments indiscriminately around, I feel I cannot pass over the speech of Senator Sir John Keane without complimentary references. I watched the Senator closely while he was speaking and I saw the proverbial frog come up in his throat as he looked towards the heavens and spoke of the good old days of the landlords in this country. I am sure he felt happy that the old landlords of those days were out of the reach of the Acting-Minister for Lands and Fisheries and that he could not further injure them. Like Senator Johnson, I also was amused at the sudden change in his voice. I was amused at the enjoyment that he seemed to get from the fact as suggested that the situation was now changed, and that Senator Counihan and the people he represented were now in reality the landlord class in this country and that they were getting their medicine. I believe that Senator Sir John Keane's speech should be circulated, because it ought to be an example not alone to Senator Counihan but to every other man of his type in this country who is fighting the landlords' battles here against the people that that is a thankless job.

There are no landlords here now. The Land Commission now is the landlord.

When the 1923 Act was being discussed Senator Sir John Keane very consistently took the side of the landlords. On reading over the debates I find that his ablest supporter on that occasion against the late Government was Senator Counihan. Senator Counihan now comes along and refers to anybody in the country who approves of this Bill as a Bolshevist and Communist. I do not mind that so much. That is not too bad. But he goes further and says that "any farmer who is in favour of this measure is a traitor to his class and a renegade and coward." I have very definitely stated that I am in favour of this Bill. I have stated it all over the country, and I challenge Senator Counihan or anybody else to prove that I am either a Communist or a Bolshevist. I will hand the rest of the phrase back to Senator Counihan and let him see if the cap would not fit him better than any other man in this House. That is the phrase, "a traitor to his class and a renegade and coward."


That is not in order.

I am just handing him back his own phrase. If it does not fit him he can throw it into the waste paper basket because it does not fit anybody on this side of the House. It is hardly necessary for me to go further into the statements made with regard to confiscation. It must be apparent to everybody at this date and age that the people who are now talking about confiscation are really the confiscators themselves. If they are not the confiscators themselves then they are at least the crows that follow the plough of confiscation in this country. They talk about what a terrible thing it is to acquire vested lands, land at present subject to a land annuity. Did they do nothing that was confiscation at all to accept a reduction of rents in their own holdings, a reduction which was really confiscation of a sort if as I am sure those people will respect the so-called legal right of the landlord? The rents of many Irish holdings if they are paying rents for them are to-day something like 60 per cent. less than they were 25 or 30 years ago. Perhaps these men will agree with me that that is confiscation of a certain kind. But a good many people point out what a desperate thing it is to give the Government power to acquire such lands in any circumstances. Even the previous Government and the supporters of the previous Government regardless of what Party they belong to agreed that there was no reason why freehold lands should not be acquired. Is it not then reasonable to give power to acquire land which is urgently needed, needed admittedly as all Parties on both sides of the House will agree for a national purpose especially when that land is to some extent the property of the State? The State has at least a considerable financial interest in that land.

Is this Government, faced with an increasing population, supposed to continue the policy followed by the last Government, to huddle the people into the bogs and the mountains while the fertile plains of Ireland are allowed to revert to the wilderness? No same Government should follow that policy. No same Government, with the population increasing here, should allow the people to be practically driven to starvation while the land is allowed to go to waste, land on which they could provide adequately for themselves. Senator. The McGillycuddy of the Reeks seems to have taken the trouble to think over the unemployment problem. I was amazed to hear him suggest as an alternative to this measure that the people should be subsidised in the congested areas. That is at least one real justification for this Bill, because it is evident to most people that it is about time we got away from the system of keeping the people in the congested areas, on the bogs and on the mountains, spoon-feeding them at the expense of the rest of the country. That is a matter that could not go on for any considerable length of time.

This Bill is an attempt to change that condition of things. It is an attempt to put the people into such a position that they can provide for themselves and their families and it is a Bill that should be supported by every reasonable man or woman regardless of political affiliations.

Landless men have been referred to by various speakers with considerable sarcasm. Who are the landless men? Are they Communists who came from Russia and whom we heard so much about? We are led to believe that there are various colonies of them all over the country. I have not seen any of them. Are they a foreign race of people who landed on the shores of this country? If I understand what a landless man is he is for all practical purposes the industrious agricultural worker who has perhaps put a few pounds together despite economic wars and so forth and who wants to own a little bit of this country on which he can support his wife and family. The landless man might also be described as the son of the small farmer or the big farmer. I think it has been uppermost in the mind of every farmer to purchase a piece of land for his son. The mother of the family has thought about getting her daughter married to some man who owns a bit of land.

We are told here by Senators that farmers are not favourable to this measure. I will not take the trouble to contradict the various statements made in that connection but I would like to remind all whom it may concern that the farmers and the industrious workers are too sensible to take up any such attitude. They realise that under this measure they will be able to provide for their families and will not be obliged to ship them to the parties of Canada or to clear the wildernesses on the Continent of North America. They will be able to live in the future in reasonable comfort amongst their own friends.

I am sure Senator Dillon hardly meant it when he said that there was nothing in this measure that any farmer could accept. I wonder if Senator Dillon will agree to accept a reduction in his own land annuity. We have heard various remarks made in opposition to this Bill about the people whom it is proposed to benefit. On various occasions we have heard a particular class referred to as men of no property, men with no stake in the country. The only conclusion anybody can come to is that the people who had a stake were really desirable citizens. Here is an opportunity to give a lot of those people a stake in the country, to make them desirable citizens and we find some people objecting to it. I am sorry Senator Counihan is going.

I will remain. I would not like to disappoint the Senator.

We are given an opportunity under this measure to make the people referred to practically as undesirables desirable citizens and I see no reason why any sensible man claiming to represent agricultural interests like Senator Counihan should object to the measure. Senator Sir John Keane and other Senators mentioned that Senator Counihan was now, practically speaking, a landlord, and the suggestion was made that we on these benches were concerned with individuals. I would like everybody in this House and out of it to know that we are not concerned with individuals; we are not concerned whether a landlord's name is Keane or Counihan, Brown or Bagwell. We are out to destroy the system of landlordism without any regard to the individuals, and because I believe this Bill will go a long way to do that, I am prepared to support it.

It is difficult to criticise the operations of this Bill and at the same time to exercise proper restraint. I consider it a confiscatory Bill in certain respects. It proposes to take land from so-called peasant proprietors who, if the Bill becomes law as introduced, will no longer be proprietors, but tenants under State control. I do not think that is a happy way of facing the land problem which is considered to exist in this country. I think the operations of that part of the Bill to which I have referred are more likely to bring about the return of another land war than the accomplishment of its professed object. Taking land from ordinary peasant proprietors whose predecessors enjoyed about 40 years secure ownership is to establish insecurity of tenancy. There was insecurity of tenancy prior to about 40 years ago. Then came the land war and these insecure tenants fought hard and suffered, in many cases a great deal of hardship, in order to obtain security of their holdings, and they accomplished their object finally. Now, after 40 years of enjoyment of that security the present Government produces a Bill here which will, under certain conditions, take away that land from those people. If this Bill comes into operation it will disturb the security of tenure which is so necessary to the happiness and comfort of people occupying their holdings.

The effect of this insecurity of tenure to the farmer will mean that the occupier is likely to take all the good that is in the land out of it than to work his land to the best advantage. He can do that and throw dust in the eyes of the State inspector at the same time. He can till an amount of his land and employ labour and take the good out of it and leave very little value to those whom the Minister proposes are to succeed him, or he may be a bad farmer and not fit to work his land. There is the man who minds his land and nurses it but if that man finds he has no security of tenure he is not likely to work it to the best advantage. The man who has security of tenure because he wishes to work his land to the very best advantage will give the greatest amount of employment. He certainly will employ more labour than the man with no security of tenure and whose land may be taken from him any day under this Bill. In that respect I consider the Bill is a bad one, and I consider that such a man as I have described who works his land well should not be included under this Bill. Most of the holdings I know, held by what are described as ordinary tenant farmers, are holdings that came into the possession of the present owners from their fathers or their grandfathers or their ancestors or else were purchased from the State under the various Land Acts. I think the amount of land held by anybody who has not what would be described as a strong legal title at the present time in this country and where acquisition was improperly obtained, is negligible. Generally speaking, I think the men who still retain the ownership of their land or acquired ownership by the legal methods I have described are, probably, the best farmers and the best citizens in the community. I know there are, at the present time, quite a substantial number of people who have lost their land through bad management, and because they were not careful as tenant farmers and did not try to run their business properly. There are such people in the country and they will be the most active in looking for this land which is to be divided. That is the kind of thing that will appeal to them and surely they will be the first served, or else they will make a great deal of noise about it.

I do not want to go into the merits of the Bill, generally speaking, at this stage. There are certain portions of it which are better than nothing; for instance, the reduction of the annuities by half and the proposals for the funding of the arrears. I do not want to introduce the economic war into this discussion but we know it is still in existence and owing to it farmers are not able to pay any annuities at all. If this economic war continues for two or three years longer it will be far more difficult to collect the half annuities than it has been to collect the whole annuities in previous years. But the economic war after all must be temporary and so I shall say no more about it. But I believe that the State should be very careful in taking any general action even about the half annuities if they have to take action in connection with the collection of them. Reference has been made in glowing terms as to what will be the results of the dividing up of these lands. There is a certain amount of congestion in different places which it would be well to relieve. I believe it would be worth something to the Government to be able to accomplish the relief of congestion. There never has been a more happy time, in my memory, for acquiring land to relieve congestion than at the present time. There is an easy and simple way to accomplish that and that is to go into the open market and buy land where it is offered for sale. There is quite a large amount of land that could be acquired in the open market at the present time and that would be a very simple way of acquiring it. For one reason or another land was never at a lower price than at the present time. If the Government bought land now when nobody else wants it, I believe they would be able to acquire land cheaper than it could be acquired through the efforts of the Land Commission under the terms of this Bill.

I oppose the Bill and I should like to see it amended in very many respects. However, if it were a question of not amending it or of doing without it, doing without half the annuities and all the other advantageous proposals which it is supposed to contain, I would let them go by the board rather than have the Bill. I think that in any country confiscation is only the forerunner of Communism. Legalised confiscation is no better than confiscation accomplished by physical force. There is very little difference. If there is this confiscation of land only lately acquired, acquired say 40 years ago, if there is going to be confiscation of the title of these people now, I do not see where security of tenure exists. I do not see how any man, let his holding be large or small, can look with equanimity on this Bill which proposes to allow the State to come in and to be the controller, the director and the landlord, so to speak, of the farmers of the country.

I do not think that Senators really know the meaning of the word "confiscation," and I think they ought to look up a dictionary before they use it again. There is no proposition in this Bill to take land without fair compensation being given to the occupier. There is no suggestion either in the Bill to disturb anybody who is using his land, giving employment and producing the food which the country requires, no matter what his tenure is.

That is not in the Bill.

It is in the Bill.

You can take it for the relief of congestion.

Yes, in the immediate locality. Up to now we could take land for the relief of congestion anywhere. As I have said, we could take a well-worked farm in Meath for the relief of congestion down in Co. Mayo. Except for two important but narrow reasons, the relief of congestion and the provision of certain sports fields, land cannot be touched, if in the opinion of the Land Commission it is providing an adequate amount of employment and producing an adequate amount of food. I do not know to whom some Senators want to give absolute security. If we followed out logically the principle enunciated here by some of them, the Government would stand idly by while one or two people bought up all the land of the country, used it as a sporting preserve, and starved the rest of the community. I thought that if there was one principle the people of this country agreed was a wrong principle it was that one.

Senator Brown referred to the sale or letting of divided holdings. At the present time holdings are given to allottees on a provisional basis and several years elapse before they are vested in the tenants. During that period the tenant can neither let nor sell the lands. After they are vested in him he is placed on the same footing as other vested tenants. If we are to prevent allottees who are given portion of divided land from subletting or selling, I do not see any reason why we should not apply that principle to all land and prevent anybody subletting or selling land unless the Land Commission gives them permission.

The market value of the land, to which Senator Brown also referred, will be the market value at the time the Land Commission take proceedings for the resumption or the acquisition of the land. There is always a market value for land. At the present time there is a market value. Land is changing hands, and the Land Commission by reason of the inquiries they can make at the different registry offices, where the sales of land are registered, can get an idea of what the market value is. If the owner is not satisfied that he is getting the market value of his land he has an appeal to the appeal tribunal on the question of price. While the present judicial commissioner is a man who is well versed in land law, rather an expert in it, and must have by now a fair knowledge of the price of land, that might not be always the case, and we have associated with him in our new appeal tribunal for deciding this question of price and other questions that are not strictly matters of law, two lay commissioners who will have a knowledge of the value of land and generally of the problems that are connected with the particular subject. I think that on the whole that is a better tribunal for the adjudication of appeals connected with land purchase than one single legal gentleman no matter how great or how deep his knowledge of law may be.

Senator Brown referred to the sheriff's clause and said that we should make some provision in it, so that a defaulter who disputes that he is the man who owes the money, or disputes the amount upon which he is assessed, should have some time to make up his mind whether he is going to have the matter argued out in court. This section, Section 28, clearly sets out that every annuitant upon whom an assessment is made for annuities will have all the time he might reasonably be expected to get in order to make up his mind whether or not he is going to dispute the assessment that is made upon him. If Senators turn to sub-section (3) of Section 28 they will see that it says that

the county registrar shall after serving such notices and doing such acts as may be prescribed in that behalf by regulations to be made by the Minister for justice, proceed to levy the money therein certified to be due by the defaulter.

The present practice is that, after waiting for some time until they see whether or not the annuitant is going to pay, the Land Commission issues a six days' notice to the defaulter. Usually there is a month's delay before that six days' notice goes out. The defaulter then has six days to reply. One might think that ordinarily that would be sufficient in this country, where practically every annuitant can both read and write. There is, practically speaking, no illiteracy now. The defaulter, first of all, gets his receivable order, sometimes a month before the date upon which his annuity is due. Then he has a month after that and finally he gets six days' notice. But on top of that, he will also get a notice from the sheriff. If the Land Commission receives any communication from the defaulter disputing the amount on which he is assessed, or disputing that he is the man who owes the money, the Land Commission have the power set out in sub-section (1) as follows:—

It shall be lawful for the Land Commission, if and when the Land Commission thinks proper to issue to the registrar of the county in which the lands are situate ... a notice.

So that if a man makes aprima facie case that he is not the man who owes the money, or that the amount he is assessed for is not the proper amount, he can send a letter to the Land Commission, or make representations through the usual channels, through his P.P., the local county councillor, the local T.D., or Senator, that there is something wrong with his assessment and the Land Commission can inquire into the matter. If it is a matter that should go before a court they can have it tried out by the court in the ordinary way.

Senator Brown referred to the transfer of a person from whom a holding is resumed or acquired and who gets an alternative holding. He said that the man should be installed in his new holding before his original holding was taken from him. As a matter of fact the practice is to give the man his alternative holding long before the original holding is taken up. There have been cases during the last few years where a man has his alternative holding as well as his original holding in his hands for a couple of years. At any rate, there is no necessity for making any further amendment in that section, because an alternative holding has to be provided before the original holding is taken up. Senator Wilson referred to the allottees not being allowed to sublet. As I pointed out, they are not allowed to sublet until the land is finally vested in them. Senator Sir John Keane referred to Section 38, where the Land Commission take power to review, in certain cases, the standard purchase annuity of a holding. That is very necessary, because it has been found that, in some cases, there is collusion between the landlord and the tenant to defraud the State and the taxpayer. The intention is only to apply this section in such cases where the Land Commission suspect there is something wrong and that the rent placed upon the holding is not a fair rent.

I think there were very few other what you might call technical points raised. There were a certain number of questions which are really questions of general policy. One was raised by Senator The McGillycuddy who said that instead of subdividing lands further we should rather subsidise industries ancillary to agriculture. The Government are doing that as rapidly as it is possible for them to do it. It is rather difficult, however, because it takes a couple of years to get industries going here, particularly when the business people, the workers and the Government Departments have very little experience of what one might call the agricultural industrial branches of industry that should be going.

Senators are aware of the efforts that the Government are making to push ahead with the development of the beet industry so that we will have a new crop to take off the land that will give a large amount of employment. Other schemes are being investigated at present. We hope these will give further employment on the land and that the raw materials produced on the land will be utilised in industries here to make products which will substitute products heretofore imported. All these things can go ahead. The Government are going ahead with them. At the same time, even if we were going ahead as rapidly as we would like with the development of industry, we have a large number of people who were reared on the land who know how to work land, and who cannot be absorbed in industry. Practically every Senator who spoke to-day recognised that that was a real problem. The onus is on the Government to produce a scheme to meet that problem. We are not prepared simply to fold our arms and say the problem is there. We have to bring forward a scheme for dealing with it. This Bill is a clearing of the way for dealing with the problem of the enormous number of uneconomic holders with large families and not sufficient land to support them, and also with a number of displaced agricultural workers, some of whom take land on the 11-months system and have capital and experience to work land, who also have large families, but have not the land upon which to support them.

My own belief is that if a man has a large tract of land he should work it to the advantage of the country generally as well as to himself. If the area of land were unlimited, then we could give every man an unlimited supply of land and unlimited control over it. But the area of land in this country is strictly limited by the four seas and in the Twenty-Six Counties by three seas and the boundary. We have to provide within the territory here for our population. One means of doing that is to ensure that the people who hold land will either work it and give employment on it or surrender it at a fair price to those prepared to work it.

That was the policy which Cumann na nGaedheal set out under in 1923, and if Cumann na nGaedheal were in office at the moment, with the same policy enunciated by Deputy Hogan in 1923, they would have to do exactly the same thing as we are doing in this Bill, because it has been found that this is simply clearing away the snags that have been discovered in the 1923 Act and the Land Acts passed since that time. There is no use in being enthusiastic in the sub-division of land or for the relief of congestion if we do not take the powers that will enable the Land Commission to do the work. Any Senator here, who has experience of the number of questions that have been asked in the Dáil about the acquisition and sub-divisions of estates, knows perfectly well that the Land Commission is expected by the T.D.s and their constituents—the T.D.s and voters of all parties—to sub-divide estates that have not been properly worked. The impression is that the Land Commission have power quickly to acquire and quickly to distribute land. As a matter of fact, there are so many legal difficulties in their way that it is impossible for them to deal with one-tenth or one-fiftieth, almost, of the demands made upon them for the acquisition and distribution of estates. It takes from three to five years to acquire and divide an estate. We are hoping to cut that down, and also as the pressure of the demand of the economic holders for land, and of the landless men who have capital and experience, is particularly strong, we are hoping to meet the situation by putting ourselves into a position to acquire and distribute land more quickly amongst the congests.

I think it was Senator Counihan who said that this was Communism. I wish he would tell us what his idea of Communism is. I must have a wrong impression of Communism altogether. I did not know that Communism meant the setting up of small proprietary owners throughout the country. I did not think that Communism aimed at the making of more private proprietors, and I am sure—in fact, I know—that that is what this Bill is aiming to do. I think that Senators and people throughout the country should be a little bit careful in their language and that their allegations should have some relation to the facts. I grant you that people who are opposed in political parties sometimes say more about the other party than they really think, but they should not go so very wide of the mark as Senator Counihan has done on this occasion. It does not redound to his credit, and I do not think it will increase his prestige in the country to dub this measure as Communism when it is the very opposite and when it is one of the very practical measures that any Government must take if they are going to fight Communism in an intellectual and practical way.

As I said already, there were very few technical points raised, and I think we can have further discussion on these on the Committee Stage. I do not know when the Committee Stage will be taken, but there are one or two Government amendments which we mean to introduce in the Seanad and which we had promised to bring in on the Fourth Stage in the Dáil but could not get in.

There was one aspect of the case, which has been mentioned in the debate, which the Minister has not touched on at all. I refer to the suggestion that there are very considerable portions of land at the moment looking for buyers and that are for sale. I think the Minister might have said something with regard to whether the Government had investigated the possibility of acquiring these lands, which are now practically not in occupation and can he had. It is quite easy to see that the Land Commission, having no funds available for such a purpose, could not deal with the question. I do not think it could be dealt with under the present powers of the Land Commission, but if the Government had investigated all the lands that are at the present moment practically unsaleable—the Land Commission probably know a great deal about that——


I regret that I cannot allow the Senator to make a statement.

I think I understand quite well what the Senator means. The fact of the matter is that the Land Commission are only too glad to examine any case in which it is put to them that they should purchase certain lands. Any time that lands are offered to them they always examine the lands, and often, if the land is suitable for their purpose, they offer a price. One thing, however, that they cannot do is to purchase lands in the open market. If they go into an auction there are bound to be "sweeteners" and, if it is known that the Land Commission are around looking for land, then the price will go up too high. However, when land is offered to the Land Commission they are always prepared to negotiate and to examine the question.

Why not deal with this land before you go to people who do not want to sell their land and who would prefer to keep it?

The Land Commission always does.

Have the Land Commission, without further Government action, got funds available to take this land and to purchase it and use it for the purposes of this Act? Will they have the funds available?

I think a Land Bond Bill went through the Seanad here to-day, the purpose of which is to deal with pending cases. Within a couple of months, the Minister for Finance will introduce another Land Bond Bill which will give the Land Commission bonds to finance this Bill and to finance operations and future activities under this and previous Bills. Under the Land Bond Bill they can give bonds but they cannot give cash.

They will give bonds. That is all I wanted.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 23rd of August, 1933.


I would remind Senators that amendments must be in by 4 p.m. next Monday. The House will sit again on Tuesday when the Orders of the day will be:—

1. Barrow Drainage Bill, 1933—Report Stage.

2. Land Bond Bill, 1933 (Certified Money Bill)—Report.

3. Approved Investments Bill, 1933— Report.

4. Merchant Shipping (International Labour Conventions) Bill, 1933— Report.

5. Sugar Manufacture Bill, 1933— Committee.

6. Motion by Senator Seamus Robinson—

"That, notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in Standing Order 85, the Report Stage of the Sugar Manufacture Bill, 1933, be taken to-day."

7. Gárda Síochána (Pensions) Bill, 1933 (Certified Money Bill), 1933 —Committee.

8. Motion by Senator Seamus Robinson—

"That, notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in Standing Order 85, the Report Stage of the Gárda Síochána (Pensions) Bill, 1933, be taken to-day."

9. Motion by Senator Sir John Keane—

"That the Seanad is of opinion that the recent actions of the Executive Council purporting to be for the preservation of public peace and order have not been justified."

10. Adjournment of the Seanad.

The Seanad adjourned at 5.10 p.m. until 3 p.m. Tuesday, 22nd August, 1933.