Land Bill, 1933—Message from the Dáil.

Leas-Chathaoirleach

The following Message has been received from the Dáil:—

Dáil Eireann has agreed to amendments 2, 5 to 11 inclusive, 14, 18, 19, 24, and 26 to 31 inclusive, made by Seanad Eireann to the Land Bill, 1933; it has disagreed to amendments 1, 3, 4, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 20 to 23 inclusive, and 25, to which the agreement of Seanad Eireann is desired.

I move: That the Seanad do not insist on amendment No. 1:—

Section 2. Between lines 32 and 33 the following inserted:—"the expression ‘market value' means the price which a willing purchaser would pay to a willing vendor in a real market in which there is free competition.

I second.

The Seanad has given considerable time and thought to the framing of all these amendments, including the amendment now before the House. The object of them was to improve the Bill and to give some security to the owners of land and to tenant farmers in this country; but we are not here to adopt a strong or a definite attitude in connection with the amendments if the Minister is prepared to arrive at a compromise with regard to some of the more important ones. The Seanad has no intention and will not try to hold up the Bill if the Minister is prepared to meet us in a reasonable way. I would ask the Minister to state now the amendments that he is prepared to meet the House on. If the Minister indicates that he is prepared to meet the House in a reasonable way then we can agree to let him have this Bill which he considers to be very essential.

I am not opposing the motion that has been made by the Minister for Lands and Fisheries, but I want to take this, the first opportunity that presents itself—I think the matter is pertinent to the amendment that is before the House—of calling attention to, and protesting against, the language used by a member of the Executive Council on Sunday last in reference to this House and to this particular Bill. Speaking in Athy on Sunday last the Minister for Industry and Commerce is reported to have said:—

"The Land Bill, which was an essential part of the Government's scheme, had been held up by the Seanad and was sent back to that body by the Dáil ... but it was advisable that the members of that body, which did not get its authority from the people, should be told that the people were not going to brook delay in a matter of that kind. If the Government's policy (the Minister added) was going to be obstructed by that institution it might be necessary to come to the people to ask them to do what the Government could not do, abolish the Seanad."

Now I make this formal protest for this reason: that that language is not only something that we might resent but it is a statement which is contrary to fact.

Is this in order?

Leas-Chathaoirleach

Yes.

The Seanad will recollect that on 16th August last the Minister for Finance invited the Seanad to adjourn the consideration of the Land Bill until after the Recess. He said:—

"With regard to the Land Bill, it is not the intention of the Government to ask the Seanad to deal with it in this part of the Session, and it will not be taken until the reassembly after the Recess."

It will be within the recollection of members of the House that the Seanad insisted on taking the Land Bill, and decided not to defer it until after the Recess. I think, in the light of that fact, of which the Minister, who made use of this language last Sunday, must be cognisant, it is extraordinary that he should have made such an accusation against this House, the accusation of holding up the Land Bill. I do not want to labour this, or to speak on it at unnecessary length, but in making my protest I do want to say this: that I hope this House, in the decisions it arrives at on this and the other amendments to the Bill, will not be influenced in the slightest degree by any blustering threats of that kind—that it will arrive at a decision on all matters that come before it on the merits, and be influenced by no other consideration whatever.

I desire to join in the protest that has been voiced by Senator Milroy.

Leas-Chathaoirleach

I allowed Senator Milroy to make a statement, but I cannot allow any further discussion on it.

Then I will deal with the general aspect of the matter. This Bill is so thoroughly bad in itself and so unjust that, in my opinion, no amendments could make it anything but an unjust measure. We know perfectly well that it is going to be administered for the benefit of certain people in the country.

Leas-Chathaoirleach

I cannot allow the Senator to proceed on that line. There is a particular amendment now before the House.

Are we not to be allowed to discuss the amendments?

Leas-Chathaoirleach

Yes, each particular amendment, but not the amendments generally.

The amendment under discussion will do as well as any other to make the point that I wish to bring before the House. These amendments will make the Bill perhaps a little less dangerous than it is, but in my opinion they will not prevent the Bill from being administered with great injustice. If my vote could help to hold up the Bill, then I should certainly vote to have it held up. I may not be able to do that, but I desire that the people of the country should know that in my opinion this is an unjust Bill. I have made my protest and I have nothing more to say.

I feel a certain amount of responsibility for the definition which is the subject of this amendment. I would like to say that I was never very strong at any time on putting a definition of "market value" into the Bill. I knew that the definition which is the subject of this amendment was a definition that had been given by a court of law. It was a question of law and it must remain a question of law, and the definition, whether it is in the Bill or not, is there as a matter of decision. Therefore, I think that the Seanad ought not to insist on amendment No. 1.

This amendment does not add anything to this Bill. The expression "market value" has been interpreted for a long time by the Land Courts, and certainly this amendment would not be any great guide or be of any assistance to the courts in arriving at how the market value of a particular piece of land should be assessed.

Question put and declared carried.

Leas-Chathaoirleach

Amendment 2 was agreed to by the Dáil.

I move: That the Seanad do not insist on amendment No. 3:—

Section 6, sub-section (3). Paragraph (a) deleted and a new paragraph substituted therefore as follows:—

(a) an appeal shall lie to the appeal tribunal from the determination of any excepted matter, other than the matters comprised in paragraphs (d) and (e) of sub-section (1) of this section, and.

I second.

I do not think I can add much to what has been said about the amendment. Nothing has occurred since it was passed to make me alter my opinion. I think it is reasonable and that the Minister should accept it. When the Bill was being discussed on Second Reading the Minister stated that under this Bill and under previous Land Acts there was an appeal on all matters to the judicial commissioner. I contend that that is not so. We have not an appeal on all matters upon which there was a right of appeal under previous Acts to the judicial commissioner. For that reason this is a very important amendment, if farmers are to be safeguarded from attacks which may be made upon them by an unscrupulous inspector. The procedure adopted under previous Land Acts was that a Land Commission inspector in any county might report that a particular farm or portion of it, was required for the relief of congestion, for the relief of unemployment, or for any other purpose set out in the Land Acts. The case would then be heard by the Land Commission to consider if the land should be taken. The owner had the further right to petition the Land Commission to reconsider the case, and having done so, if the land was to be taken, the Land Commission was entitled to send a requisition to the appeal tribunal, which would make an order if the land was to be taken. Under this Bill the Land Commission can enter land on an order made by the appeal tribunal, and the compensation is fixed afterwards. It is a drastic procedure to give so much power. In the amendment the Seanad asked for the right of appeal to the tribunal which the Government is setting up, so there cannot be any question of party politics about the matter. It may be said that it will be a tribunal appointed by Fianna Fáil but, at least, it will be appointed by the Minister or by the Executive Council. It is reasonable that there should be an appeal to it. Under previous Land Acts if an inspector made a recommendation the owner, before the land could be taken, had a right of appeal to the judicial commissioner who heard all the evidence on oath. He would inquire what family the owner had, how he worked the land, and the amount of labour he employed. Having done that he might decide that the land should not be taken. In the present instance if an inspector makes a report, in nine cases out of ten, the owner might lose his land. That is grossly unjust and the Seanad should insist on the amendment giving the right of appeal.

Under previous Land Acts, and under this Bill, I believe that provision has been made to cover all appeals which should be made against the decision of the Land Commission. Senator Counihan was not very clear about the matter. He wanted to give a further right of appeal, so he took the short and the easy way of giving a general appeal on all matters.

Not on all matters.

On all matters and particularly under paragraphs (a), (b), (c) and (f) of the section.

On matters on which the Minister stated on the Second Reading debate there could be an appeal.

This amendment is to Section 6 (3) (a), which says:

"Any appeal which may lie by law (including this Act) from the determination of an excepted matter shall lie to the appeal tribunal, ..."

Further on it states:

"Any appeals which heretofore lay to the judicial commissioner shall lie in future to the appeal tribunal."

This amendment runs across the proposals in the Bill. Senator Counihan's proposal was the layman's way of going about the work, and it contradicts Section 29 (1). We are providing generally that there shall be an appeal to the appeal tribunal on a question of law and on a question of value. If we were to give a general appeal on all these excepted matters the work of the Land Commission would be held up, and any benefits that might result from the Bill would be completely nullified. The Bill would be absolutely useless if the amendment were accepted. Any lawyer, or other person throughout the country could impede the work of the Commissioners by appealing on any ground whatsoever. As a result the Land Commission could not possibly do their work. We have provided that there shall be an appeal to the judicial commissioner on questions of law or on questions of value. The appeal tribunal is not the last word on a question of law. If any person thinks he is aggrieved by the decision of the appeal tribunal, and thinks that a certain question is a question of fact, that person can proceed to the Supreme Court for a decision as to whether the decision of the appeal tribunal was correct or not. Senator Counihan's method was a rough and ready one, but it was in contradiction of other portions of the Bill. If accepted it would completely upset the working of the measure.

It seems to me that the main weight of the Minister's objection to the amendment is that he realises that a great many people, by the action of this Bill, might find themselves in the position that they were being terrorised over or unfairly treated and might wish to appeal. That is a very good reason for accepting the amendment. There should be a right of appeal, and I shall vote for insistence on the amendment if it is put to the House.

Surely the objection the Minister has advanced against the amendment applies to any Act where the right of appeal is given. With great respect, the objection to the amendment can only be regarded as frivolous. I have considered the matter carefully and I cannot see any reason for refusing to accept the amendment. The terms of the amendment are reasonable. As far as possible it is well to secure the confidence of the people in legislation. The Bill would be useless without the right of appeal. Otherwise I would look upon the Bill as being too drastic. Even at this stage I would be glad if the Minister could see his way to accept the amendment.

Question put and declared carried.

I move: That the Seanad do not insist on amendment No. 4:—

Section 7, sub-section (2). The following words added at the end of the sub-section:—"and the first lay commissioners so appointed shall both have been officers of the Land Commission prior to the 1st day of June, 1933."

I second.

As the Minister is getting on so well, I think he should adopt a milder attitude and give the members of the Seanad credit for some commonsense. They do not put down amendments just for the sake of discussion and then run away from them. As the Minister did not give the right of appeal that was asked for in order to have confidence in our legislation. I suggest that when a Minister or the Executive Council decides to appoint a judge they have to take a member of the legal profession. I do not think anyone could take exception to that. The attitude of the Seanad is that the appeal tribunal should consist of people from the Land Commission. If the Minister cannot accept the amendment we will have to reconsider our attitude towards the Bill.

Senator Counihan is not as sensible on this question as he usually is. He says that the Executive Council should give the Seanad credit for some commonsense. I ask the Senator to remember that the Executive Council and the Dáil agreed to accept 18 out of 31 amendments to the Bill, giving the Seanad credit for some commonsense and for some sense of compromise.

This is one of the few very important amendments to this Bill introduced in this House. In my opinion this amendment, like the last one, would beget confidence in the Bill. It is idle to introduce legislation without trying to secure the confidence of the people. The amendment asks that two officers who were in the Land Commission prior to the 1st of June, 1933, should be appointed to the tribunal. There is nothing unreasonable in that. To me it looks suspicious that the amendment was not accepted at once. It would seem as if it would be necessary to go outside the personnel of the Land Commission for two men to do what was asked. I am sorry to think that the Government insists on refusing to accept the amendment. It had a very disquieting effect on my mind that such a provision was not made earlier. In the interests of fair play and commonsense this amendment should be accepted.

From the practical point of view the duty of the Government is to set up the appeal tribunal and to appoint two lay commissioners. As a matter of fact, I think that the amendment is much wider than Senator Counihan realises. Under that amendment any office boy in the Land Commission could be appointed a lay commissioner.

Without giving the Government credit for commonsense!

That is all I want the Senator to do—to give them credit for commonsense, and not to try to restrict them any more than, say, the British Government was restricted or the previous Government to this was restricted in the appointment of lay commissioners. I could accept that amendment and get appointed as a lay commissioner anybody in the country in a short time. I do not object to it from a practical point of view, but from the point of view that the Senator is endeavouring to impose greater restrictions on the Government in the selection of lay commissioners than were imposed upon the previous Government. I think that the Seanad should be content to trust to the good sense of the Government that the men who will be appointed will be men in whom the country has confidence.

Motion put and agreed to.

Leas-Chathaoirleach

Amendments 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 have been agreed to by the Dáil.

I move: That the Seanad do not insist on its amendment No. 12:—

New Section. Before Section 17 a new section inserted as follows:—

17.—Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in Sections 12, 13, 14 and 15 of this Act, in every case in which the total aggregate amount of a purchase annuity, an annual sum equivalent to a purchase annuity, an additional sum, payment in lieu of rent or interest on purchase money, payable by any proprietor during the three years ending on the first gale day of the year 1933 has been paid, the amount payable by such proprietor for any instalment in respect of any of the above-mentioned liabilities after the first gale day in 1933 up to and including the first gale day in 1939 shall (unless such proprietor shall give notice in writing to the Land Commission of his desire to the contrary) not be payable by or recoverable from such proprietor, but such instalments of liability shall be payable by means of a funding annuity in like manner in all respects as if there had been an amount of arrears of liability due by such proprietor equal to the aggregate amount of liability payable by him during the three years ending on the first gale day in 1933.

I second the motion.

Motion put and agreed to.

I move: That the Seanad do not insist on its amendment No. 13:—

New Section. Before Section 17 a new section inserted as follows:—

17.—Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in Sections 12, 13, 14 and 15 of this Act, in every case in which any instalment or instalments of a purchase annuity, an annual sum equivalent to a purchase annuity, an additional sum, payment in lieu of rent or interest on purchase money, payable by any proprietor during the three years ending on the first gale day of the year 1933 has or have been paid, an amount equivalent to the amount so paid shall (unless such proprietor shall give notice in writing to the Land Commission of his desire to the contrary) not be payable by or recoverable from such proprietor in respect of an instalment or instalments accruing due on foot of any of the above-mentioned liabilities after the first gale day in 1933 up to and including the first gale day in 1939, but shall be payable by means of a funding annuity.

This amendment is co-related with amendment No. 12.

I second the motion.

Motion put and agreed to.

Leas-Chathaoirleach

Amendment No. 14 has been accepted by the Dáil.

I move: That the Seanad do not insist upon its amendment No. 15:—

Section 26, sub-section (3). The sub-section deleted and the following two sub-sections substituted therefor:—

(3) No deficiency in the Purchase Annuities Fund or the Land Bond Fund arising from the non-payment of any instalment of a purchase annuity or a revised annuity or any other annual payment which accrues due after the passing of this Act shall be a charge upon the Guarantee Fund.

(4) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (4) of Section 1 of the Land Act, 1923, as amended by Section 3 of the Land Bond Act, 1925, no sum paid after the passing of this Act out of the Central Fund of Saorstát Eireann or the growing produce thereof under the provisions of the said sub-section shall be a charge upon or made good out of the Guarantee Fund.

I second the motion.

This amendment is simply an amendment which deals with the administration of the Guarantee Fund and has to do with deficiencies in the land annuities which have to be made good to the Minister for Finance every half-year and which are made good by deducting from the Government grants the amounts which are deficient in payments of the land annuities. At the time when these annuities started, as I said before, one could readily understand the attitude of the British Government in making the people of this country who were associated with the farmers in the purchase of their lands liable to a certain extent for the payments of the land annuities on the due day, and it is provided that the ratepayers in the areas should make good the deficiency any farmer had failed to pay on the due date. That stage has passed from the position of the land annuities to-day, and I take it that the position of the Government is that the land annuities will never again be paid to Britain. I take it that that is the position of the Government and, if that is the position, I cannot, for the life of me, understand why a deficiency which is a payment to a Government, collected by a State Department, with all the powers of Government to collect it, should be placed upon the ratepayers of a locality who have no right to collect the annuities and who are not supposed or who ought not to be supposed to make good to their own Government any deficiencies of a native of this country who does not pay.

The Minister said that this particular arrangement would upset the Budgetary arrangements of the Minister for Finance and it was pointed out to him that it does much greater damage at the present time because there are 27 county councils in the Free State and they do not know—until some date in February or March of the year —how much of the Agricultural Grant which is coming to them will be paid. Their budgets are knocked out of order. This very year three or four county councils refused to strike their rates because there was a diminution in the Agricultural Grant—a different sort of grant, but nevertheless it upsets the financial arrangements of the county councils. I contend that it is much greater damage to upset 27 budgets than it would be to upset the Budget of the Minister for Finance and, as a matter of fact, it would not upset the Budget of the Minister for Finance because he can take either of two courses: he can account in his accounts on the receipt side for the amount he receives and need not debit himself for any deficiencies or he can account for the whole lot and bring in an estimate for the balance outstanding and pass it through the Dáil. That is all it amounts to. It would take away the onus for this money from the ratepayers and place upon the Finance authorities the right and the duty to collect the money from the people who owed it and not put its debits on to the people who do not owe. I think the amendment is a reasonable one and I hope the Minister will accept it.

The Minister for Finance is very anxious that he should have the assistance of the law as it stands in enabling him to get in land annuities. The Minister, in this year's Budget, as the Senator knows, has made up his accounts depending upon a certain amount of land annuities to be collected in November and December gales. The Minister wants the assistance of the ratepayers in the different counties in creating a public opinion for the payment of these land annuities in good time. If there is any slackness in the payment of land annuities and if the people delay too long, then, the grants going down suffer and the Minister for Finance has this very natural point of view, that if he is going to give moneys to a certain county, say, County Wicklow, and if he has to pay several thousand pounds to that county in the relief of agricultural rates, he should at the same time make sure that the amounts due to the Exchequer from that county should be paid. That is the Minister's point of view and I think it is quite a reasonable one. Accordingly, he is very anxious that the law should continue as it stands.

Motion put and agreed to.

I move: That the Seanad do not insist upon its amendment No. 16:—

Section 27. A new sub-section added at the end of the section as follows:—

(4) All deficiencies in the Land Bond Fund arising from the non-payment of any instalment of a purchase annuity or a revised annuity or any other annual sum which accrues due after the passing of this Act shall, to such extent and at such time or times as the Minister for Finance shall direct, be made good to that fund out of moneys to be provided by the Oireachtas.

This amendment is linked up with the last amendment.

I second the motion.

Motion put and agreed to.

I move: That the Seanad do not insist upon its amendment No. 17:—

Section 29, sub-section (1). The words and figures "the sum of £2,000" deleted in lines 52-53 and the following words and figures substituted therefor:—"where the land in question, or portion of such land, is situated within a radius of 15 miles from any of the cities of Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford the sum of £4,000, and where such land is situated elsewhere the sum of £3,000."

I second the motion.

Motion put and agreed to.

Leas-Chathaoirleach

Amendments 18 and 19 have been accepted by the Dáil.

I move: That the Seanad do not insist upon its amendment No. 20, as this amendment is linked up with amendment No. 17:—

Section 29, sub-section (1). The figures "£2,000" deleted in line 60 and the figures and words "£4,000 or £3,000, according to the situation of the land as defined in this sub-section" substituted therefor.

I second the motion.

Motion put and agreed to.

I move: That the Seanad do not insist upon its amendment No. 21:—

Section 29, sub-section (2). A new sub-section inserted before the sub-section as follows:—

(2) Where a tenant or proprietor is the owner of two holdings in the same locality, the market value of each of which exceeds £2,000 and on one of which such tenant or proprietor or the wife or husband of such proprietor resides and one of which, or portion of one of which, holdings is declared land, the Land Commission shall at the request of such tenant or proprietor withdraw the declaration that the declared land is required for the relief of congestion, and may declare the other of such holdings, or such portion thereof as the Land Commission think proper, to be required for the relief of congestion.

I second the motion.

Motion put and agreed to.

I move: That the Seanad do not insist upon its amendment No. 22:—

Section 29. A new sub-section added at the end of the section as follows:—

(8) Nothing in this section shall empower the Land Commission to declare that any land which is held by and used for the purposes of a religious community, or which is used in connection with a school or college or with a sanatorium or private mental home, is required for the purpose of relieving congestion.

I second the motion.

This is the amendment which deals with the land of religious communities, educational establishments and schools. I am not surprised that the Minister refused to accept this amendment, as we understood by his answer that he did not see why the land of religious communities should not be taken from them if they were required for other people. The object of the Bill is to create a state of agricultural Bolshevism and, of course, this is a necessary part of it.

I would appeal to the Minister to accept this amendment. I think this is an amendment that it would be well to accept and that it should be included in the Bill. As I said in the previous debate, anyone who is acquainted with the way the lands of these communities are used and who knows how desirable it is to carry on those communities and institutions will agree that their lands should not be disturbed. These communities are not only a great asset from an economic point of view but, generally speaking, from a health point of view and from the point of view of the human interest of those engaged in the different avocations pursued by these communities. I think the services of such institutions are invaluable, and so far as one can judge by observation I think it will be agreed that their management of their lands is excellent. They have achieved very good results and their land has been used to the very greatest advantage. Their management of their lands is a very good example to others in the areas in which these lands are situated. I think that from an educational point of view and from an economic and health point of view it is very desirable not only that these lands should not be touched but that nothing should be introduced into any Bill that would make it possible to interfere with them by legislation. I cannot see that there is any reason to be advanced for refusing this amendment, which can be supported on really broad, honest lines. The amount of land which is involved in the amendment is not very large, but the principle is greater even than any consequences that may accrue and, it is a principle that we might with advantage take seriously into consideration. Surely no one can say that the land managed by those institutions can be described as a ranch? A friend of mine has asked me "What about Dowdstown?" If that is a sample of what lies behind the refusal to accept this amendment, I hope it is not a generally accepted principle by those who are drafting the Bill. I do not believe that it is so and I will pass by it by saying simply that I have nothing to say about Dowdstown. I am speaking about the principle of this matter, and I appeal to the Minister to deal with it in a manly way and to accept this amendment.

I rise to join in the request to the Minister to accept this amendment. I supported it on the previous occasion and I hold the same opinion with regard to it now as I did then. It is not at all in keeping with the spirit of the Government to seek to interfere with these institutions. I mentioned three of these institutions of which I have personal knowledge on the last occasion. I mentioned Clongowes, where they have a large number of boys to support. They have a large quantity of land which they till in the most up-to-date manner and they have a garden which supplies vegetables and other necessaries in connection with the running of the institution. I also mentioned Roscrea, where the boys are allowed to take over plots of land and to engage in agriculture on those demonstration plots. The boys take the greatest possible interest in making a success of these experiments and they have been a success. I mentioned, thirdly, Carlow Asylum, of which I have personal knowledge. I assisted in securing for them an additional 50 acres of land for tillage purposes. They have a first-class manager there who has made the asylum a great success, so much so that the audited accounts show that they were almost self-supporting by reason of the profit made out of their agricultural work. They have, of course, free labour, but the work is a source of health and strength to these people, and the authorities there make a point of putting these people at occupations at which they were working before they entered the institution. I saw two gardens there and it was marvellous to see how they were kept.

I do not think that the taking of land from institutions like these can be defended. I know of a convent with 30 acres of land on which they keep their own cows. The economy of the institution is based on the very sensible foundation of producing their own mutton, milk and butter and such commodities. It is unreasonable that land should be taken from these people, who are the backbone of the country so far as education is concerned, or that they should be at the mercy of any Government and be faced with the prospect of having their efforts impeded in the future. I expected that the present Government would not be so unreasonable when the matter was put to them in this way as to insist on the right to take land from institutions such as those I have enumerated. The quantity of land held by such institutions is relatively small, and from the point of view of agricultural education and the other branches of learning, it is up to the Government to allow these institutions to carry on as before with freedom and security.

In so far as it is the one conservative precaution in this Bill, I strongly support the amendment. When we think of the theoretical schemes which have been interfering with fixity of tenure in this country and the utter ruin and destruction these schemes, largely, I believe, fathered by Senator Connolly, have brought on, I believe that the whole Seanad ought to rise and insist on or, at least, grasp at the one little precaution we have against the merging of the land of this country, because people will think twice if they see a religious community turned out and they will probably, then, assess justly the intentions of the Government, or of the Senator who is to produce a Catholic Socialist Republican State with its quartette of contradictions. This is the most revolutionary Bill that has ever been before any country. It proposes to put the small holders who have waged a war for fixity of tenure for 200 years as serfs on their own land at the mercy of a Government that does not know its own mind.

I should like to urge on the Minister that he ought to accept this amendment. It has been said here and not contradicted that there are at present 70,000 acres in the possession of the Government and that they have offers of nearly 250,000 acres without seeking anything from this Bill at all. The amount of land utilised by religious communities and others must be very small and I think it would not be a very grave step for the Government to accept the amendment. I feel that they are only standing out against it on principle because I do not imagine that there is much land that they could possibly acquire from these institutions. I would put it, however, in another way. These institutions have a very responsible duty to the country and I can quite believe that it would give them an unsettled feeling—a feeling that would always prevent them from extending and improving their holdings—if they felt that this Bill when it becomes an Act would be held in terror over them. On that ground, I would urge the Minister very strongly to accept the amendment.

There is very little land indeed covered by this amendment, but there is a very big principle involved. We have discussed it time and again and it is almost hopeless to repeat what I have said before because I have not very much hope that it will sink into some of the Senators' heads any more than it did on the last occasion. If there is a principle behind this amendment it is that in regard to vested land, religious communities should have a legal right to buy as much vested land as they like and use it without any regard at all to the requirements of the country, either in the matter of giving employment or of the production of foodstuffs. This deals only with vested land. This amendment would prevent the Land Commission from taking over several thousand acres of land belonging to a religious community, provided it were vested, but if it were unvested, as most of the land held by religious communities is, they would be quite free to take it over, or if it were one of the 80,000 holdings at present vested in the Land Commission, they could take it over. This amendment only restricts the Land Commission from taking land belonging to religious communities that is already vested in them and, as most of the Senators must be aware, practically all the holdings held by religious communities is of the untenanted land character. I cannot see, for the life of me, why a religious community should not be required to work its land properly. There is no necessity, from the religious point of view, for an Order to have more than £2,000 worth of land ill-used in order that it may carry out the functions of the Order.

That is not true.

I cannot see why they should have more than £2,000 worth of such land, and we do not propose to accept this amendment. It only covers one class of land. It would not cover 3 per cent. of the religious communities in the country and if religious communities own a large tract of vested land, I think they should be required to follow the examples of the communities here spoken of by Senators O'Connor and Garahan and to give employment and to produce a food supply. If the religious communities are working their land properly, if they are giving a fair amount of employment on that land and producing an adequate food supply, the Land Commission will not touch them even though they are not covered by this amendment.

Wait until the Communists come in.

Motion put and declared carried.

I move: That the Seanad do not insist on amendment No. 23:—

Section 31, sub-section (2). The words "on a question of law" deleted in line 20.

This is consequential on amendment No. 3.

I second.

Motion put and declared carried.

Leas-Chathaoirleach

Amendment No. 24 has been accepted by the Dáil.

I move: That the Seanad do not insist on the amendment, but make the following further amendment in lieu thereof:—

To delete Section 34 and to substitute therefor the following new section:—

34. Where lands have been vested in a purchaser under any Land Purchase Act prior to the Land Act, 1923, and the sporting rights (other than fishing rights) on or over such lands were not so vested, the Land Commission may, if of the opinion that it would be for the benefit of the country that such rights should be acquired and that they should be vested in the proprietors of the lands on or over which they are exercised, as an appurtenance to such lands, and if such proprietors are willing to purchase such rights, make an order declaring the appointed day in respect of all such rights and vesting the same in the Land Commission at a price, payable in land bonds, to be fixed (in default of agreement) by the lay commissioners subject to a right of appeal to the appeal tribunal.

I second the motion. This proposal entirely excludes fishing rights from the operation of this Bill. I am glad that the Minister has taken the course he has, because the fishing rights of the Saorstát are too large a subject to be dealt with merely as a side issue in a Land Bill. They should be dealt with only after the most careful inquiry which, I understand, the Government is willing to undertake.

A number of representations were made to me by Senators, Deputies and others that the powers contained in the Bill in regard to fishing rights should not be retained. The Government have agreed not to seek these powers. They will set up a commission to inquire into the whole question of the inland fisheries and their future working. This amendment excludes fishing rights from the Bill, but it leaves power with the Land Commission to take over sporting rights whenever the farmers are willing to buy the sporting rights. If a farmer is not willing to buy the sporting rights, there is no compulsion on the Land Commission to acquire such sporting rights.

Question put and agreed to.

Leas-Chathaoirleach

Amendments 26 to 31 are agreed to.

Message to be sent to the Dáil accordingly.