Agricultural Credit Bill, 1946—Second Stage (Resumed).

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

Before dealing with the matter before the House formally, I would like to comment quite briefly on some of the remarks of previous speakers. The Danes are a Nordic race, and Nordic people are notoriously white-haired and in some respects the Danes appear to be the white-headed boys of Europe. I have a great respect and admiration for the Danes, but, at the same time, I am aware of the psychological reaction that the white-headed boy produces among the members of the class when he is held up to all the other boys as an example for admiration and imitation. It produces a kind of irrational feeling of irritation. I know I should not feel like that myself, but nevertheless even when my friend, Senator Baxter, talks about the Danes I am conscious of that feeling of irritation and, as I myself will probably commit a somewhat similar offence, I want to disarm possible criticism and hostility by making that preliminary remark.

Senator Sir John Keane contributed the point of view of the joint stock banks in connection with this matter and I can well understand that he feels somewhat sore about the fact that this particular department of financial accommodation to agriculture has been taken over by a public institution and taken away from the province of the ordinary joint stock banks. While that is a point of view, and one with which I have a certain sympathy, I think at the moment we have to face the fact that things are what they are and that one of the problems confronting us is to try and delimit a proper sphere of activity which will separate in some rational manner the appropriate function of the Agricultural Credit Corporation from the appropriate functions of the joint stock banks. Let it be said that the amount of credit which agriculture could usefully use in the next ten or 20 years is far more than the trifling amount of £7,500,000 that is being made available through the Agricultural Credit Corporation. It is highly desirable, in the first place, that farmers should learn to use their own fluid resources in expanding their own capital equipment and, in the second place, if they have not got capital themselves they should learn to borrow for productive purposes — for most purposes, from the ordinary joint stock banks, but for certain special and appropriate purposes, from this Agricultural Credit Corporation.

Of course, I know that joint stock banks, according to the text-books, are not supposed to make long-term loans, but I think they have learned a lot in the last 20 years and that, in practice, the real attitude of the joint stock banks is that they would like loans to go on for ever, provided they could be certain of their being paid in full at some time or other and of receiving the interest in the meantime. That is a Hibernian way of putting it — almost an Irish bull. At any rate, that is only a matter of academic interest, because in the future, in view of the existence of the Agricultural Credit Corporation, the joint stock banks had better stick to short-term and medium-term lending and leave the long-term lending to the Agricultural Credit Corporation.

Another matter which we have sometimes been inclined to overlook is the fact that this is not — or, at all events, not yet — a totalitarian economy and, therefore, it is not the whole-hogging plan of either the Minister or Senator Baxter or Senator Sir John Keane that is going to determine the future use of capital and credit by Irish agriculture. That will be determined by the action of 300,000 odd owners of farms up and down the country. Unless whatever plans we suggest also become the plans of those 300,000 farmers, they will lead to nothing but frustration and disappointment. In fact, I am not sure that there is a credit problem at all. I think it is rather a problem of education, of bringing before our farmers, as intimately as possible, the desirability of making a productive use of capital, their own or borrowed capital, with a view to improving their own output, their own economic welfare and, incidentally, the general welfare of the nation. Unless we look at it from that point of view, and remember that we must bring these 300,000 people, or as many of them as possible, with us, we are going to achieve nothing by any of our high-sounding schemes.

Now, I take it that the primary object of this Bill is to make a contribution to an increase in agricultural production per acre and per man. So far as it goes, it is, I think, an honest and a competent effort to give effect to one of the minor recommendations of a recent Agricultural Committee on Post-War Policy, of which I had the honour to be one of the persons signing the majority report. Therefore, I appreciate the fact that, in this particular matter, the Government is attempting to give effect to one of the recommendations of that committee, and anything that I have to say in criticism or otherwise will be designed to improve, if possible, on the scheme which is at present before the House.

There can be no doubt whatever about the need for increased agricultural production per man and per acre, and if the House wants an index of the extent of that need, without referring especially to Denmark, I can give Senators on an international basis certain comparisons that will show them where we stand in the scale of these matters. There is a book by one, Doreen Warriner, called The Economics of Peasant Farming, which gives useful information about a great many European countries. From data obtained in that book it appears that in Poland and India, for example, one farm family produces food enough to feed one and a half families, the farmer's own family and half another family. In Germany, in the inter-war period, one farm family was able to produce enough food to feed three families, including the farmer's own family. In the U.S.A., one farm family produces enough food to feed five families, including the family of the farmer himself. In Great Britain, one farm family — at all events, under the stress of the recent war effort — was producing food enough to feed eight families, including the family of the farmer himself.

Now, where do we come in in that scale? I am afraid that we come somewhere between Poland and India, on the one hand, and Germany on the other. In other words, according to my calculations, one farm family in Éire is producing only enough food to feed at the moment two and a half and, possibly, only two families altogether, and as some people might put it, half of those non-agricultural families are at home in our own towns and villages, and the other half are in Great Britain. That is much too low, and it is very desirable, from every point of view, that one farm family in Éire should produce food enough to feed at least three if not four families. In the first instance, of course, that would mean a considerable addition to exports. The matter has a broader aspect than that of being merely agricultural. A country can only industrialise itself to the extent that the agriculture of that country can increase output and feed other families not engaged in agriculture. If Senators look at the scale of countries that I have given, they will notice that the greater the number of families which, agriculturally, one farm family is able to support, the greater is the degree of industrialisation of those countries. Britain is the most industrialised of any. In British agriculture one farm family feeds eight families. The U.S.A. comes next. There one farm family feeds five families. If we want to create the necessary economic foundations for industrial development we must brisk up our agriculture and make it possible for each farm family to feed three or four families, either at home or abroad.

Another way of looking at the same phenomenon is this: that for every 125 units of food which we produce we consume 100. In other words, our total agricultural exports are only, roughly, 25 per cent. of our total agricultural output. It follows from that, that if we could bring about a 20 per cent. increase in agricultural production the effect would be — on the assumption that we continued only to consume 100 units — to double the total available for export. If we could bring about a 50 per cent. increase in agricultural production the effect would be nearly to quadruple our exports. Now, these results—even a 50 per cent. increase in output — are well within the physical capacity of our people, given certain necessary facilities. After all, during the recent war British agriculture increased its net output by 70 per cent., in spite of difficulties of man-power shortage and so on, and we, with twice as many persons per 100 acres of land as Britain possesses and with certain additional facilities which we certainly need, ought to be able, in the course of the next five or ten years, to increase our agricultural output by some 50 per cent. If we could do that, our agricultural exports in value, instead of being a beggarly £20,000,000 odd as they were in 1943-44, would approximate to £100,000,000, on the assumption that prices remained more or less at the level at which they were in 1943.

We do not know what prices will be in five or ten years' time, but we do know that if our agricultural exports were four times as much as they are now, Mr. John Strachey, instead of careering about the United States of America, would be much more disposed to come careering over here and to say: "What are you going to do about it and what can we do to help and facilitate you in this very desirable effort on your part?" For undoubtedly this is a matter which concerns the welfare and interest, if not the very life, of Britain as well as ours. At present Britain is passing through a crisis more serious perhaps in many ways than the crisis labelled Dunkirk six or seven years ago. Her dollar problem will be and is a very serious one. Her dollar problem is also our dollar problem, and unless the two countries can get together and increase their mutual helpfulness in the matter of agricultural exports, as well as in other ways, we are both going to go through a very difficult time and perhaps even experience complete economic disaster. What we need here is more production, agricultural and industrial, more exports and, of course, more imports, and if this Bill is a step in that direction, I hope it will prove to be a very successful step.

Perhaps I might refer briefly to the Parliamentary Secretary's comparison between the figures for output per head of occupied population in Denmark and in Éire on the average of the ten years between 1925 and 1934. I noticed that peculiar phenomenon, too, that Denmark appeared to have a lower income per head of the population than we had, and I must say I congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary on having made that intriguing discovery. If it was not the Parliamentary Secretary himself but one of his expert advisers who made the discovery, may I ask him to redirect my congratulations to the correct quarter? However, I think, as Senator Baxter made quite clear, it really is only a statistical misinterpretation. It is income per head of occupied population, whatever that may mean in Denmark, compared with what income per head of occupied population may mean here, and I rather think that there are a great many people occupied in agriculture—farmers' wives and farmers' daughters — who are not statiscally occupied from the point of view of the pundits of the Statistics Branch. If one went to a farmhouse door and informed the housewife that she had no occupation, at least from the point of view of the pundits of the Statistics Branch, she would probably say exactly what she thought about these pundits and point out that she was a very busy person.

If we counted all the people occupied in producing our agricultural output, whether they are statistically occupied or not, it is quite likely that that figure would have shown that income per head of occupied population in Éire in these years was less than it was in Denmark. However, the Banking Commission Report, concerning itself only with income per head of total population, says in paragraph 488 that, in 1935, income per head of total population in Denmark was £58 and income per head of total population in Éire £50. I deprecate these comparisons with specific countries, because, unless we know all the circumstances, we cannot be quite certain that there is an exact analogy or a justifiable comparison.

I think the real comparison we should make is between the efforts and achievements of the average farmers and the efforts and achievements of the very best farmers in our own country, and a fortiori, between the efforts and achievements of the worst farmers and the efforts and achievements of the very best farmers in our own country. If we make that comparison, and if we find that there are wide variations of output per person and per acre, as between the different sets of farmers, the real problem is to bring up the efficiency of the worst farmers to the level of the best farmers. If we could do that, we would have achieved a well-worthwhile result.

Some years ago I had occasion to read a paper to the Statistical Society on the capitalisation of Irish agriculture, in which I made use of certain investigation made by Mr. Murphy, of Cork, into matters concerning farming in County Cork and County Limerick, and in which I instituted certain comparisons with other farms which came under my own immediate observation in other parts of the country. It appears from Mr. Murphy's tables that the bigger the farm the greater is the amount of instrumental capital — meaning by that, horses, machines, tractors and so on—per labour unit and the greater also is the total value of instrumental capital and farm buildings per labour unit. It also appears from his calculations that the larger the farm the greater is the amount available per labour unit, or, what comes to practically the same thing, the net output per head of persons occupied in each case.

There are several factors determining the total output per person occupied —the skill and management of the farmer, the fertility of the soil, the amount of land available and so on all enter into the case — but nevertheless I submit that one of the factors, and the one which we are now trying to operate on, is the extent to which labour is provided with up-to-date capital equipment and modern, properly-organised farm buildings, and therefore the extent to which we can bring about an improvement in this respect is likely to lead to a very desirable increase in output per person occupied. On the largest farms observed by Mr. Murphy, the value of instrumental capital per labour unit was £61 5s. 10d. I think I graded up his figures to bring them to the level of 1939 prices and therefore make them more comparable with the figures I was studying.

There is a fairly close comparison between his figures and the figures in respect of the four largest farms which came under my own immediate observation, which varied between £40 and £67 per labour unit, but on the farms of smaller size, especially, for example, the farms of 40 to 60 acres, instrumental capital per labour unit was £41 12s. 0d. in his case and on those under 20 acres £28 17s. 7d., so that there was a variation, and the greater the size of the farm, the greater the amount of the instrumental capital per labour unit and the greater was the output per labour unit. My suggestion is that that increase in output per labour unit was in some way associated with the fact that the amount of equipment per labour unit was greater on the large than on small farms.

But I think the difference is perhaps even more marked in connection with the total value of instrumental capital, plus farm buildings, per labour unit. In the case of the farms observed by Mr. Murphy, the highest figure for instrumental capital, plus the value of farm buildings, per labour unit was £171 19s. 5d. and the highest output per labour unit was £107 in the year. In the case of a farm I personally knew about on which there was specialised growing of tomatoes, a 600 acre farm, the value of the instrumental capital and farm buildings per labour unit was £313 14s. or twice as much as observed by Mr. Murphy. In the case of another 200-acre farm on which poultry production was specialised the value of the instrumental capital and buildings, and including poultry houses, was £507 per labour unit. The output per labour unit on the tomato farm in 1939 was £215, which was twice as much as the highest value shown by Mr. Murphy and it was £146 on the poultry farm.

These are the facts and if any Senators are interested they can refer to the original paper. They do suggest that there is a relation between the capital equipment and the output per labour unit so that if we can induce some or all of our 300,000 farmers to improve their equipment we will do something to bring about that desirable increase in output per person occupied. May 1 say that while output per acre is important also, we should bear in mind that if we succeed in retaining the existing number of persons on the land and if we can help to bring about an increase in output per person occupied on the land it will mean automatically and inevitably an increase in output per acre. Output per acre is important but the important thing to work on is output per person occupied and if we can maintain the numbers on the land this will automatically increase output per acre.

The amount of capital invested in Irish agriculture is very considerable and most of the capital is owned by the farmers. It is rather misleading to say that the Danes have invested £170,000,000 in their agriculture and we have only borrowed for investment from the banks £12,000,000 or £15,000,000 or whatever the figure is. A much higher proportion of the capital invested in Irish agriculture than that invested in Danish agriculture is owned by the farmers concerned. It should also be noted as a fact that the total amount of capital involved in our agriculture amounts to a very considerable figure and that practically the whole of it is owned by the farmers themselves. Therefore we start from a position which, financially, is not top-heavy and our farmers can add to their agricultural indebtedness without having an unduly large proportion of debt to total capital assets. I had the curiosity to attempt to estimate the total capital assets of Irish agriculture when I wrote this paper in 1942 and I estimated that the aggregate amount was £466,000,000 at the price level current in 1939. Land, including fences and drains, at an average of £15 per acre represented £180,000,000; farm buildings at £200 per holding, £75,000,000; dwelling accommodation at £300 per holding, £313,000,000. Instrumental capital, horses, machines and implements at £2 per acre represented £24,000,000. Specialised equipment for poultry-rearing, tomato-growing, etc., I just could not estimate. In this connection it is very desirable that as soon as possible a proper survey should be made of every single farm in the country so that we would know to what extent we have specialised equipment and to what extent certain farmers should be encouraged to spread out in certain specialised ways and what facilities they should get.

Capital in the form of live stock, which covered all animals except horses, mules, jennets and asses, I estimated at about £54,000,000. The total estimate at the prices current in 1939 was £466,000,000. God alone knows what this valuation would be if made on present prices. Certainly it would be a good deal more than £466,000,000. The point I want to make is that the amount of capital already involved in our agriculture is very considerable, and the next point I want to make is that the amount of capital per person occupied in agricultural production is remarkably high. Here again may I refer to the Miniter's bed-time companions, the works of Colin Clark? On page 77 of National Income and Outlay he says that the amount of capital involved per person occupied in agriculture in Britain, based on prices between 1928 to 1930, is £1,370, and in ordinary industry, £433, and in railways, £1,700. In other words, agriculture involved an amount of capital per worker of the same order of magnitude as highly-capitalised undertakings such as railways. Therefore, it is desirable that we should realise that if we are going to improve our agricultural efficiency we may have to encourage the expenditure of a good deal of additional capital. It is satisfactory to know that most of this capital value, if not practically the whole of it, is in the firm possession and ownership of the 300,000 farmers. At the present time, we know and the more intelligent farmers know that there is need for expenditure of a considerable amount of additional capital. I do not want to throw astronomical figures about, but it is a well-known fact that our agriculture has been starved of phosphates and other artificial manures for the past two decades. I have attempted to estimate the phosphate deficiency, and I find that it is at least 2,000,000 tons, so that at the present price of nearly £10 a ton the cost would be £20,000,000 to bring the land back to the same degree of phosphate content that it had 17 years ago. Everyone concerned should be encouraged by hook or crook to obtain the necessary financial means of acquiring the necessary amount.

Cannot the farmers do this themselves?

I am coming to this. I think we are all fairly aware of the fact there are a great many holdings in Ireland, probably the majority. where at least £100 could be spent on the improvement of farm buildings, making concrete floors for cow-houses and possibly laying-on running water supplies in connection with dairies and all that kind of thing. If that were done to the extent to which it is desirable — and again we need a farm survey to find out to what extent it is desirable —it might absorb a total of some £30,000,000. I am not suggesting that the whole of that money should be obtained by loan from the Agricultural Credit Corporation or the Central Bank or any other such source. In fact, I think one of our problems is to persuade farmers who have got the money themselves either in the bank on deposit or perhaps invested in some form of security—to persuade them that it would be much better business to use that money in such a way as would improve their farm buildings and the other equipment on their farms and that they would get better returns in income by doing that than they are probably getting by the interest they draw on their financial investments. That is really an educational problem and one we should get busy about.

In fact, I think the credit side of this problem is really only a minor aspect and the really big aspect is the educational side, and the principal contribution which this Bill makes to the ends we have in view, is that it makes possible a lowering of the rate at which farmers can borrow. Under the former system, with most of the finances of the Agricultural Credit Corporation costing 5 per cent., it was not possible to lend to farmers at an attractive rate of interest, but under this Bill, with some money being borrowed at 2½ per cent. and more at probably 3 per cent., I do not see why it should not be possible to lend to farmers at a net rate of 4 per cent., and perhaps if the business of the corporation expanded sufficiently, it might be possible to bring down the rate to 3¾ or 3½ per cent.

Farmers appear to regard any rate of interest higher than 5 per cent. as a deterrent rate. Hence it seems that monetary propaganda has penetrated the minds of the farmers and they are not indifferent to the financial atmosphere in which they are living. That being so, it is possible that there may be a greater disposition to borrow at 4 per cent. than at 5½ or 6½ per cent. At the same time, I would say that I would be altogether opposed to any attempt to throw money about in vast quantities at rates of interest of 1 per cent. or 2 per cent. I think a loan which is going to be really economic and really productive at 1 per cent may be only a little less profitable to the borrower at 2 per cent. and again a little less at 3 per cent., and so on, and would probably be a sound proposition in many cases even at 4 per cent. or higher. The amount of desirable borrowing that you will cut off by having a rate of 4 per cent. instead of 2 per cent. is quite trifling.

On the other hand, I do not want to have a situation in which people may get the impression that money is going to be lent in vast quantities and there need be no intention of ever repaying it. We need propaganda about the directions in which it is desirable we should expand our agricultural activity. We need a programme and we need a farm survey. I do not know to what extent the Government regards the report of the Committee on Post-War Agricultural Policy as a programme, but I think it is only the introduction to a programme. We will have to have a farm survey. Cheaper borrowing is no substitute for enterprise and we need both and we need a good deal of additional knowledge and more agricultural education.

One of the conditions on which cheap borrowing may become possible is that a great many credit-worthy farmers should borrow a great deal of money from this credit corporation because in that way the administrative costs of lending will be smaller in proportion to the total volume of the business of the corporation, and the corporation can work on a finer margin. One of the reasons that up to the present the corporation has only been a qualified success is that its balance-sheet never exceeded the amount of £2,000,000. I want to see it expand to the maximum made possible by this Bill and when it does, I hope we will have another Bill authorising an increase to much more than the total of £7,500,000.

Again let me remind the House of what I said at the beginning. We should always recognise that the joint stock banks are the proper and normal sources of borrowing for farmers like other people especially for short-term and medium-term requirements and it might be well that the credit corporation loans should, as far as possible, be confined to long-term loans for the purpose of improving buildings and to loans of perhaps not quite such long terms with a view to the acquisition of expensive types of machinery. Under the stress of war, the British developed a very interesting administrative mechanism by which the central authorities were related indirectly with the activities of farmers on their own farms through the medium of county councils. There were associated with each county council war agricultural executive committees and they consisted of practical farmers and they operated through district committees and in many instances they were also associated with local parochial implement pools — I think they were called. Apparently these W.A.E.C.'s got money from the Minister for Agriculture to finance the acquisition of expensive machinery by parochial implement pools. They still exist in hundreds of cases in Britain and are in the process of developing into regular co-operative implement societies. I think our credit corporation should encourage co-operative societies to acquire expensive machines and make loans to societies for such purposes, and the societies in turn could arrange the way in which the machines would be used by the various members. If it confined its operations to lending large sums for long terms to farmers for permanent building and improvements and to lending to co-operative societies for the purpose of financing the acquisition of expensive labour-saving equipment, I think it would be dealing in large units of lending and its expenses would be small in relation to the total volume of its affairs.

With regard to loans for permanent buildings like hay-sheds and the like, I think it might be well if county agricultural committees functioning as British war agricultural executive committees did, should be invited to name farmers who, obviously, should be encouraged to apply for loans of this kind, and to guarantee repayment of these loans. Repayment could be assimilated with the payment of land annuities with the same ultimate security that they will be paid. In that case, I think that the security, from the point of view of the corporation, would be absolutely first-class and it would be possible to make these highly desirable loans at the very lowest rate of interest. There would also be some guarantee that the kind of people who would get these loans would be such as would be recommended and approved of by county agricultural committees and local agricultural instructors who know the farmers personally. I completely dislike the whole idea of Civic Guard in-questions into the personal character and behaviour of applicants for Agricultural Credit Corporation loans. I hope that that method will come to an end. It should never have been begun.

In general, I think that the credit corporation should deal only with large farms or co-operative societies of small farmers and rely on mortgage security in the case of loans to large farmers and on collective security in its dealings with co-operative societies, whether for implement or other purposes. Obviously, a corporation having only a single office in Dublin cannot supply an ordinary banking service. Therefore, the farmers should be encouraged to go to the ordinary banks for all ordinary, financial accommodation and, above all, they should be educated to appreciate the possibilities of borrowing for productive purposes, whether they borrow from the credit corporation or from the joint stock banks.

Tar éis an méid atá ráite ag an Seanadóir Mac Eóin, táim ag ceapadh nach bhfuil mórán le rá agamsa. An chuid is mó den léirmheas a bhí agam le déanamh ar an mBille, tá, sé déanta aige san. Ní minic a aontaím leis an Seanadóir ach, ar an ócáid seo, táim ar aon intinn leis sa chuid is mó dá ndúirt sé. The object of the Bill is two-fold — to provide for the reorganisation of the capital of the credit corporation and to make certain other changes in relation to the business procedure to be adopted by the corporation. One of the changes involved is a most important one, that of reducing the rate of interest. These two particular changes will be very welcome. Regarding the first change, very little has been said, except by our friend, Senator Sir John Keane. He expressed the view that it is a good thing we should get rid of what he describes as the mumbo-jumbo relating to the capital divisions of the corporation. It is a good thing to get the capital organisation simplified, but I do not think that the division of capital into A shares and B shares was a matter of such complication. I do not think that that is really the important point of this particular part of the Bill. The real importance of this part is that it eliminates to a considerable extent the private interest in the corporation. So far as I am concerned, in this particular case, I welcome that change. In principle, I am all in favour of individual, of private ownership, but here is a case where I think that the weight of the argument is in favour of the elimination of the private interest.

I was rather surprised to hear Senator Sir John Keane refer to the waste of money that seems to have been going on as a result of the establishment of the Agricultural Credit Corporation. Further, I was rather interested to hear him remark that, if the standing committees of the banks were asked, they could put up a much more satisfactory scheme than that inherent in the present Agricultural Credit Corporation. I do not think that there is much force in that statement. It might be no harm to draw Senator Sir John Keane's attention to the second interim report of the Banking Commission of 1926 and to remind the House of the personnel of that commission. It was composed, one might say, of bankers. There was on it a representative of the Bank of Ireland, a representative of the National Bank, and representatives of the Munster and Leinster Bank and of the Ulster Bank. The chairman was a professor in the University of Columbia, in America. The membership also included the managing director of the Industrial Trust Company of Ireland and a member of the late Commonwealth Bank in Australia. It was on the recommendation of these bankers that the Agricultural Credit Corporation was set up. The reason they gave is fairly well covered in paragraph 16 of the second interim report of that commission — the Banking Commission of 1926. It might be well if I were to read that paragraph to the House so that members may understand how it came about that the bankers were so anxious to get rid of the responsibility of providing agricultural credit.

"In this connection, it seems wise to speak frankly about a question which has been repeatedly urged upon our attention by members of the banking community. As is well known, Irish bankers carry a large proportion of their funds in the form of British Government securities and of other investments in Great Britain. The question is often asked why they do not invest more freely in loans to Irish enterprise. To this question, two answers have been returned — that it is necessary for the deposit banker to keep a substantial amount of funds in immediately realisable form which will enable him to liquidate them in order to meet the demands of his depositor, when presented, and that loans made in Ireland, at the present time particularly, on the security of agricultural land, are not even as liquid as such loans would be in other countries because of the fact that foreclosure and sale are frequently out of the question, at least in many districts, due to the refusal of neighbours or residents to allow such land to be sold or due to a kind of joint boycott carried out by such neighbours and effectually precluding the getting of any offers for the land when put up for sale. In reply to questions as to whether it is not possible to enlarge the amount of loans made by banks to farmers, the answer has been specifically made that such a result must be conditional upon the improvement of the ‘moral risk' of Irish agriculture.

There would seem to be a considerable basis of truth in these assertions, and we do not hesitate, therefore, to say that whatever may be necessary in the way of a reform of public opinion on this question ought to be brought about at the earliest possible moment. It must not be overlooked that the farming community itself is in no small measure to blame for whatever reluctance exists on the part of the banks to extend accommodation to those in need of credit who can offer only land as security. There is quite a general feeling in the country that if a bank fails to realise its security it can well put up with the loss. Abortive sales are a matter of common occurrence and the tolerance with which what is tantamount to commercial dishonesty is regarded in rural areas is deserving of the severest censure and condemnation."

Is there anything about a break in prices that brought that situation about? Not at all. The bankers would not talk about that.

This commission was composed mainly of bankers and the bankers themselves pointed out that they could not carry the risk of supplying credit to Irish farmers. Senator Sir John Keane conveniently forgot this particular commission and this particular paragraph when he was dealing with this matter last night. With regard to the Agricultural Credit Corporation itself, he says that the Banks Standing Committee could have suggested, if they were asked, something better than the corporation as we have had it in the years gone by. The question that was running through my mind all the time he was speaking was, why they did not make some recommendation of a more practical and more economic nature than is contained in the recommendations of this particular commission if he believes they could have done so. Their recommendations with regard to the Agricultural Credit Corporation are contained in paragraph 19, page 25, part of which I think I should quote for the House:—

"In closing this report it may be well to summarise briefly the general conclusions which we have already expressed at some length. We find in short the Saorstát well-equipped with banking institutions which are already extending a very considerable amount of support to agriculture. We find the large farmer generally able to care for his own needs, but we feel that the small farmer, who constitutes the great bulk of the population, has need not only for more funds but for a type of loan rather different from that which is now being granted. We believe his requirements can be best met by the improvement and extension of the sound co-operative movement already implanted in the Saorstát, but to strengthen and develop this movement we recommend the organisation of an Agricultural Credit Corporation with a capital of £500,000 sterling, one-half paid up, and authorised to obtain more funds through the issue of bonds or debentures, such bonds or debentures, as well as the capital, to be guaranteed as to principal and interest by the Government."

That was the recommendation of the bankers themselves, after due deliberation. It seems very unreasonable on the part of Senator Sir John Keane— who carries a particular responsibility in the eyes of most of us in matters of finance and credit — to come in here and imply that something better could be done and that, in effect, Government policy, through the setting-up of this particular institution, has been responsible for considerable wastage — I think he mentioned a sum in the region of £350,000—in the years gone by.

The bankers seemed to have acted in a manner that is not quite deserving of compliment as far as this corporation is concerned. They themselves pointed out that they were unable and unwilling to carry the responsibility of providing this agricultural credit; but as soon as the corporation was established they provided most of its capital. They were willing to put in approximately £500,000 capital, on the condition that they were guaranteed an interest of 5 per cent. per annum on it. If the corporation did not make a profit equivalent to this interest then it was made up in another way, out of the taxpayer's pocket. So, on the whole, Senator Keane hardly dealt with this matter in the objective way we would have expected.

I find myself in agreement with a good deal of what Senator Baxter said, but there are certain points in which I differ with him. The trouble with Senator Baxter is that he seems to think enough is not being done to aid agriculture. I do not know how much more may be done, especially by the Government. If the Government is to be expected to go very much further, it must lead to the conclusion that the Government itself must step in and take part to some degree in the management of the industry — and, ultimately, it will lead to the dispossessing of a considerable number of holders and the establishment instead of something on the lines of the collective system. I do not know if people who are pleading for more and more Government intervention and action realise that, if their suggestions are to be adopted, there must ultimately be something in the nature of nationalisation.

I do not know if Senator Baxter is satisfied with certain details given regarding what has been attempted by the State. In the matter of research, there was an agricultural college functioning directly under the Department of Agriculture. It was considered inadvisable that it should be under the direct supervision of the Department and that it would be better if it were placed under the university, so that the members of the faculty would be more independent and have greater freedom and so would achieve much more in the way of research. I wonder if that was a wise change. Looking back on it now, it seems to me that it would have been better, in spite of all the criticism we may make of red tape, to have left that particular faculty under the Department. There could be arguments about it, for and against, but on balance, if it had remained under the Department, certain specific and urgent problems could have been set out for investigation by the college staff. That might have been a much better arrangement than allowing men to select their own particular matters for study and research and proceed to solve them.

Now, with regard to efforts to encourage ensilage, how much more might be done in that particular field? We are all agreed that we want a higher output, and I think we are agreed that it can be achieved. Ensilage can aid in that. It is true that the Department of Agriculture itself erected something like 100 silos in selected parts of the country. To the best of my recollection, they erected them in groups of three in order that they might try out three different processes of making ensilage, one, a very simple method — the natural fermentation system — one, somewhat more complicated, involving the use of molasses, and the third somewhat technical — the A.I.V. system. They supervised the filling of these silos and brought farmers to see them being filled. They took farmers to see them being opened and demonstrated fully the ease with which this ensilage could be made, and demonstrated its great value. The Department went even further and made very reasonable grants towards the erection of silos. Not only did it do that, but it went to the trouble of providing a special metal mould to make concrete blocks, a mould that is foolproof to handle and to work. It also provides a number of trained officers who will come along and show how this mould is to be filled. The whole result is that any person of average intelligence is able to use this mould and erect a silo without any great difficulty. I should stress again that opinion is unanimous that ensilage is most important if we are to achieve a higher output in certain fields of agricultural endeavour. Yet, notwithstanding all that has been attempted officially, it is to me a matter of great disappointment that so little attention has been paid to it by farmers.

What did the Department do to provide for the cultivation of grass to put into the silos? Nothing.

I do not know to what extent Senator Baxter studies the reports of the Department of Agriculture. The current one is in the Library, and to the best of my recollection — it is some time since I looked at it—there is at least one paper in it that deals with the question of grass cultivation. There are, as well, the excellent papers prepared and published by Professor Drew and scrutinised by scientists all over the world. They are so highly thought of in that particular realm — grass cultivation — that I should say Professor Drew would be in the first rank of agricultural scientists. Then there are the Department's own leaflets on the subject.

I do not want to interrupt the Senator, but does he know that actually what is recorded in our Department journal is a contradiction of practical experience in other parts of this country — of the 32 Counties? I have seen it myself in the matter of grass cultivation. That is what we are up against. I should not have interrupted the Senator, but at the same time I should like to have the situation clarified.

When we are in a difficulty we generally go to somebody who is an expert, to somebody who is a specialist on the problem that is worrying us, and ask his opinion. I do not think that it is reasonable we should go and ask a man's opinion with our minds already made up that he does not know anything about it. Apart from that, I know that these Irish scientists are men who just do not work inside a laboratory. They are not men who confine their attention and their studies to their book-shelves. They have extensive farms on which to carry out their experiments. It is true, of course, that there is a great deal of co-ordination between the work done in the agricultural faculty in University College, Dublin, and in the dairying faculty in University College, Cork. Dublin caters mainly for general agriculture while Cork concerns itself particularly with dairying. As I say, there is a great deal of co-operation between the agricultural faculties in the two university colleges as well as co-operation with the agricultural colleges situated in typical parts of the country. For instance, in the county that Senator Baxter comes from there is the agricultural college at Ballyhaise, while we also have colleges at Athenry and Clonakilty and Johnstown. In all these colleges work is carried out on behalf of the Department of Agriculture as well as on behalf of the university colleges in Dublin and Cork. Therefore it is not just quite fair to say that these men are not familiar with practical difficulties. I think they are, and their eminence as scientists and the fact that they test out their theories and conclusions under actual farming conditions in this country is a reason why we should be very grateful to them and why we should listen to what they have to say in these matters.

The point that I am trying to come to is that there is no question now with regard to the value of ensilage. It has long passed the experimental stage. We are all agreed with the efforts that have been made to show farmers its value. Money has been provided and guidance has been provided to enable them to construct silos. I am not going to say how much further we should go in that respect. Neither am I going to go through the whole gamut of State effort on behalf of industry. I might refer, however, to what has been attempted to improve the stock breeds in the country. In the Statistical Abstract before me, in table 67, we have set out in tabular form a list of various schemes. There are schemes covering sires, bulls, boars, rams, mares, cows, poultry, and so on. The point is that a great deal of money is spent on these schemes, contributed on the one hand by the State and further augmented by money from the local authorities. How much further can we go in that regard? Perhaps more might have been done in one particular direction and this was probably overlooked by Senator Baxter. I am sure it must have occurred to him that there is one direction in which more might be done and that is, that more agricultural and dairying instructors should be employed under the county committees of agriculture.

Provided you knew what you wanted them to instruct the people about. The Senator has talked about breeding. Are they to instruct farmers to breed for beef or for milk and what are the results so far for the money that has been spent?

What are the results?

That is the practical test.

I am not satisfied that we are getting results such as I would expect but the question is how much further should we go and in what direction?

Go back and begin again. That is the difficulty.

There is one further reference that I want to give. I have touched on the improvement schemes. The Minister Institute in Cork has been for a long time testing the value of certain strains of poultry, and at the bottom there follows a table relating to egg production and the results of their work in the institute from 1913 are given. That work, as I say, is mainly concerned with testing the quality of the poultry in various parts of the country. Here they demonstrate what can be achieved in the matter of egg production. Heretofore, they set down the number of eggs produced by the pen of poultry. They gave us the figures for feeding and gave us then the market price of eggs, and so we were given in considerable detail all that was required to enable us to make up our minds as to whether we should go in for a more scientific method of selecting and maintaining poultry flocks. Yet egg production throughout the country would not be half what has been achieved at the Munster Institute and conditions there approximate to normal conditions throughout the country.

How much further can we go? If we are to go any further, it seems to me that all we can do is as I have hinted: come to the conclusion that farm managers, farm owners, by and large, are not equal to this task of organising their industry in such a way that they will secure that higher production which we all desire. If that conclusion is forced upon us, we shall have to face the alternative. I do not think there is ground for pessimism. The creameries, too, are aided by State grants.

How are the creameries aided? The consumers of butter are aided — that is what is happening.

That is so. The Irish Agricultural Organisation Society also gets certain grants from the State.

How much?

This year, I notice, the amount is considerably increased. The point is whether it should get very much more or whether the whole co-operative system does not call for inquiry — whether after all the years it has been in operation, it has not been a failure.

That conclusion looms up before one, especially when one listens to the account given of the success of co-operation in Denmark. It would seem that, for some reason or another, co-operative effort has been very successful in Denmark, but in Ireland it has not been so successful. I am not saying that it has failed; I say that it is forced on one's attention that there may be something wrong with it, when more has not been achieved in the particular field in which co-operation operates than has been achieved so far.

Again I pose the question: how much more might be done? I do not think it will be enough to make more capital available for agriculture and to make it available at cheap rates. Senator Johnston has dealt with that point at length and there is no need for me to deal with it. I do not think, however, that the question is one of capital. I think we shall have to seek for the cause of the trouble in some other direction rather than in the direction of more and cheaper capital. Senator Baxter has been taken up on his suggestion that agriculture will require something like £200,000,000 to get it into anything like proper condition. The only fault I have to find with Senator Baxter's computation is that he did not develop it and explain to us what he had in mind when he speaks of capital development on the farms. It is not so astronomical a figure at all and not a figure to be laughed at in the way in which Senator Sir John Keane would laugh at it.

£20 an acre.

I could, right off the reel, account for, roughly £120,000,000, an expenditure which the State itself is going to face. Rural electrification is certainly a matter closely concerning agriculture. The whole object of the project is to step up, if at all possible, production in the agricultural industry. The State will have to face a bill of between £75,000,000 and £100,000,000 in order to secure that rural electrification. Again, drainage is a matter concerned, I suppose, as to 95 per cent. with the agricultural industry. The blue-print is there, and it is a matter now of being able to get the gear in order to get the whole scheme of drainage under way. It was suggested some time ago that that scheme will cost £20,000,000. It is doubtful if that scheme will be carried out under £30,000,000 or £40,000,000, so that these few State schemes already on the stocks account for well over £100,000,000 and thus it will be seen that £200,000,000 for agricultural development is not an exaggeration at all.

What about water into the farmyards alone?

I am wondering if Senator Baxter's £200,000,000 leaves out of account these projected State schemes. If it does, I do not know just how it is to be spent. If we take out of the list the farms under ten acres, we are left with approximately 300,000 farms and £200,000,000 divided among these farms would give an average of let us say £750. I wonder in what direction would that amount be spent on that type of small farm which constitutes the great bulk of Irish holdings. There may be some exaggeration in that figure, and I should say there is, if we are to leave out of account the schemes prepared by the State on behalf of agriculture.

On the question of the supply of water, to which I have referred, mentioned by Senator Baxter just now, I do not know whether we have so much to complain about as some people say. This is true, that, under the farm improvement scheme, grants are available for the construction of water tanks. It is not that somebody told me, but I assure the House, I have seen these tanks, tanks of 2,000, 3,000 and 4,000 gallons, constructed by the farmers themselves to catch rain water. I have also seen in farm kitchens a turf range made in Drogheda, a most ideal oven, it seems to me, for the farm kitchen, which burns a very small quantity of turf and provides ample supplies of hot water very readily. Grants are available for the construction of these tanks, and it is merely a matter of erecting them and catching the water from the roofs of dwellings and out-offices.

If the out-offices are built and roofed so that the water can be caught.

In any case, the dwellings are roofed, and we will all agree on this, that, taking Ireland by and large, it is true that in more ways than one the rainfall amounting to rain on two out of every three days over most of the country is one of our great national assets and is ample to give us all the house water required.

With one house here, a second house in another direction, and a third house in still another direction.

We can say we want water laid on to the farms. By all means, I should like to see wells sunk, if that is practicable and if it is an economic proposition, but in the meantime there is no reason why the smallest farmstead in the country should be without an ample supply of hot and cold water for the purposes of the industry.

We have the open hearth in many of the farm houses in the country but in others there is a grate of some kind and it has to be renewed. That being so, if the people could be persuaded to install one of those cheap economical turf ranges that would provide hot water, it would seem that no problem could remain in regard to the water supply. I feel it is time to give way to someone else who wants to speak, but may I come back for a moment to a point I mentioned a few minutes ago? Senator Johnston is quite right when he says that we must be careful when we are comparing Ireland with other countries. I stressed this here more than once. We have got to be very careful when we quote figures and try to relate conditions in Ireland with the conditions in other countries to which the particular figures relate. In this connection it is worth while referring to Denmark again. Output is very high in Denmark, while conditions are largely similar there to what they are here, climatically and geologically. It is true that production in Denmark is of a very specialised nature. Is there something to be learned from Denmark, and if there is what is it? There is no use just quoting Denmark and then leaving it at that. Are we to go in for a degree of specialisation in Ireland akin to what the Danes attempted and achieved? Again, the results achieved in Denmark are generally attributed to the efficiency of the co-operative system. If this system has been so effective there, is it to be interpreted that the system here is inefficient? We want to get to the truth and it seems to me that out of all those references to Denmark emerges something that calls for our very serious attention. More than this I have nothing to say except that the Bill in view of its aims, particularly the provision of capital, cheap capital, for farmers and the smoothing out of difficulties that the corporation has had to face in its work in the years gone by, is one which I think we should heartily welcome, and we all hope it will have the results that its sponsors hope it will have.

It seems to me that the speech to which we have just listened is one of the most melancholy that have been uttered in this House for a long time. The Senator has been asking us what more can be done for agriculture than is being done or is being contemplated in the way of Government schemes. If the answer to this question is "Nothing", then it seems to me that the aim expressed by a very prominent gentleman some years ago will be realised, that is, that the Irish nation, and by "nation" I mean Twenty-Six Counties, will be reduced to a population of 1,000,000. That is one-third of the present population and of that number about one-third will be living on the land. It seems that this view expressed by a very prominent gentleman, whose name I will not mention, ten or 15 years ago, is the aim of the Irish Government. The present Government has not expressed its aim in these terms, but everything it does provides beyond any shadow of doubt for the raising of the standard of living for a much smaller population than we have got now.

The Senator who has just spoken is conscious of the fact that so long as the present policy is pursued, one of two things must happen: either a depressed condition for the people who are living in rural Ireland will result or a better condition will be achieved by a considerable reduction in the rural population. That is the logical conclusion to be drawn from the speech to which we have just listened.

Take the last report of the census collected less than one year ago. Practically every county in Ireland, certainly every normal county in the country, shows a decrease in the rural population. The increases are to be found only in counties like Kildare, where you have a large influx of bog workers, or in Meath where you have new settlements. Otherwise, the population is declining and a strange thing is that taking the whole of the Twenty-Six Counties, the decline between 1936 and 1946 was five times as great as between 1926 and 1936. Then there is the difference in the standard of living in the country. The standard of living of the small farmer, we are told by everyone who has studied the problem, is no better than that of the farm worker. We have evidence of this in official figures. The fact that a considerable number of small farmers can qualify for unemployment assistance is in itself convincing evidence that they are living on the verge of poverty if they have not sunk lower. In order to get a qualifying certificate under the Unemployment Assistance Acts, you must prove that your means are under 15/- per week. Thousands of land holders, those independent peasant proprietors of whom we hear so much, have been able to qualify for certificates under the Unemployment Insurance Act to enable them to draw unemployment assistance during any period when unemployment assistance is payable in rural Ireland. Thousands are being paid off now because of an Order made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce a few weeks ago and additional thousands will be paid off in May when the Minister determines that there should be work for them whether there is or not. What is this Bill going to do to improve the position of those people in rural Ireland? The purpose of the Bill is to reconstruct the Agricultural Credit Corporation. It may be that as a result of the reconstruction, money will be made available more easily and in some cases at a slightly lower rate of interest generally for farmers who wish to borrow from the corporation.

I have not listened to the whole of the debate but I am wondering whether there is any evidence as to what will be the rate of interest for loans made after this Bill becomes law. Is the rate of interest going to be 5 per cent. or 4 per cent. or 3 per cent.? I would be afraid to suggest anything lower in case anybody in this House would get into hysterics, but how is a farmer going to pay 3 per cent. for a loan if, when he has spare cash, he will only get interest on it of 1 per cent. or a half per cent. from the bank?

It will be 4 per cent., I am sure.

Somebody else can answer that question. I am no prophet. All I am saying is this: if the banks are going to pay farmers a half per cent. or 1 per cent. on their deposits, is it reasonable to think that when they borrow money from the corporation they will be able to pay 3 per cent. or 4 per cent.? I do not think it is. In the main the facilities offered by the corporation are not going to be extensively availed of. The truth of the matter is that the man who needs the credit most will not get it from the corporation.

That is quite true. I have had experience.

Senator Madden has no difficulty in getting accommodation. Senator Sir John Keane, I am sure, can get a couple of thousand pounds from the corporation. I say there are a number of people, whose names we might mention, interested in agriculture who will get any facilities they reasonably require provided they are willing to pay the standard rate of interest, but I am concerned with the thousands of small farmers in the West of Ireland who probably owe the shopkeeper a fiver and find it difficult to pay the rates and who are probably in arrears with land annuities. What are their chances of getting £100 to build a hay shed? I will be amazed if they get it from the corporation.

What purpose is this Bill going to serve so far as the small farmer is concerned if it is not going to make money available to him to drain his land, to make fences, to build gate posts, and put up cow houses, and put a roof on his own house? Senator Ó Buachalla talked about the amount of money which would be required amongst the small holders with, say, less than 10 or 15 acres. They would require millions to put the land into a condition where it could be of economic use to this country. In the whole of the land of these 26 Counties the volume of pro ductivity in 1938 was £5 an acre. That included Connemara and Meath, but there must be some difference between the yield of Connemara and of Meath. In any of the productive countries in the Continent of Europe, it was quite common to find an agricultural output valued at £20 an acre. That is to say, the land in Germany or Denmark or France or Belgium was able to provide a standard of living for the occupiers four times as high as the standard our country on an average produces. We have in fact, as has been often remarked, 12,000,000 acres of arable land. I think it is true to say that during the last 15 years 1,000,000 acres of that land have gone out of cultivation completely. To my own personal knowledge—and I am sure Senator Ó Buachalla and Senator Hawkins and others who have occasion to visit the West of Ireland know—land which was producing food 25 years ago is now growing rushes. That land which is flooded with back-waters from rivers and drains was growing food 25 years ago. I know many instances of it, and the people who own that land cannot afford to spend a five pound note on improving the fertility of the soil.

As I have said, we have 12,000,000 acres of arable land and I think it is safe to say that the food required by our population should normally be produced on 3,000,000 acres of land. I do not think that it is an exaggeration to say that 3,000,000 acres of land would be adequate to produce all the food required by our population. If that is so, we have left 9,000,000 acres to produce food for export and if the value of the produce be taken at £25 per acre that suggests that the value of agricultural exports should reach a figure of £225,000,000, a year. It has reached about £20,000,000 or £30,000,000 a year. Is it not clear to everybody that the position is desperately bad so far as rural Ireland is concerned and that because it is so bad there is no chance of prosperity here, either in town or country? I am not going to make an accusation against agriculture but I want to state as a fact that in the Estimate published by the Department of Finance a few weeks ago provision is made for expenditure out of public funds of £6,000,000 in aid of agriculture in the next financial year. An agriculture that is decaying and a population that is dwindling as rapidly as transport facilities permit is becoming a charge on the public Exchequer to the extent of £6,000,000 a year.

Who is going to pay the £6,000,000? Senator Baxter had better remember it is the farmers of Ireland who are going to pay the £6,000,000. In the long run the money which we collect in taxation has got to come out of the volume of production in this country and the volume of production is mainly agricultural production and must remain so for very many years to come. I suggest that this Bill is very largely eye-wash. As a machinery Bill it is perhaps all right but as an instrument to improve the standard of living for the rural population, and through them for the population as a whole it is perfectly worthless and is not worthy of the time spent on its consideration.

There is one aspect of the Bill, however, that has intrigued me. When the Bill was going through the Dáil, a new section was added at the end — it is now Section 55—providing that no person shall be appointed to any situation in the clerical grades of the service of the corporation unless, in the opinion of the directors of the corporation, he possesses a competent knowledge of Irish. There are 25 clerks in the office of the corporation. They must have a competent knowledge of Irish but the directors are not required to have any knowledge of Irish, nor is any other employee so required. The funny thing is that no other service comparable with the Agricultural Credit Corporation pays its clerks so badly as the corporation. I am informed that it is impossible for the directors of the corporation to increase the salaries without the sanction of the Minister for Finance. Male clerks, with a competent knowledge of Irish, start in Grade II at £130 a year and, after 16 years' service, they reach a maximum of £300. The maximum in the banks is £588 and in the Electricity Supply Board £480. A clerk in the Electricity Supply Board, who may not know a word of Irish, will have £180 a year more than the man with a competent knowledge of Irish in the service of the Agricultural Credit Corporation. A typist will start at 35/- a week in the corporation service and her competent knowledge of Irish will, eventually, bring her, after 15 or 16 years, £3 per week. The meaning of that seems to be that we insert these provisions in legislation passing through these Houses in order to warn Irish speakers that they are to be the hewers of wood and drawers of water. If you want to get a salary of £580 a year, get into a bank and do not bother about Irish. If you go into the Agricultural Credit Corporation, with a competent knowledge of Irish, you will work for half the amount you would earn in a bank. This applies to the clerical grades, the members of which are expected to maintain a standard befitting their station in life. As a famous man said, they are expected to maintain the dignity of a duke on the wages of a dustman.

I should be silent on the subject were it not for the sheer humbug lying behind this proposal — to introduce a section in the other House providing for a competent knowledge of Irish without making any provision for paying the staff a proper wage. If we are to insist that people will know Irish, let us start by paying them a premium for knowing it. Let us provide that any person who has a competent knowledge of Irish will get £25 a year more than if he had not a knowledge of Irish.

Provided he is competent otherwise.

I am thinking of two competent persons. I want the Agricultural Credit Corporation to have a competent staff and I assume they will. As a matter of fact, the standard of education for these miserable wages is quite high. A clerk in the second grade must have the leaving certificate of the secondary branch of the Department of Education and he will get 10/- a week less than a carpenter. He must have a competent knowledge of Irish while the carpenter might be a dummy and might not know Irish or any other language. The House should take note of the humbug that is going on and the manner in which we are dishonestly pretending to promote the interest of the Irish language, when, in fact, we are making the language anathema to the young people of the country. They are leaving the country as rapidly as they can and going to jobs where no knowledge of Irish is required. I want to protest strongly against the standard of wages prescribed in relation to these posts in the service of the Agricultural Credit Corporation. I want the House to make its declaration emphatic so that the Minister for Finance will see that, when he takes over responsibility for the corporation, he takes over responsibility for having a properly paid staff.

It is very unfortunate that Senator Baxter opened the debate on this Bill as he did. He travelled all over the world and dealt, generally, with agriculture. One would imagine from his speech that this Bill was prescribing the methods of agriculture to be carried out in this or some other country. That is not the case. This Bill merely enables money to be provided for farmers who will use it in the manner prescribed by the Bill. The Bill enables money to be advanced for other purposes than those set out in the Acts of 1927 and 1929. It enables the corporation to borrow £7,500,000 at a much cheaper rate than was possible under the previous Acts. I think it was a scandal that the shareholders of the corporation under the previous Acts were getting 5 per cent. on their investments. I am glad to know that they have now been bought out and that that 5 per cent. will cease to be payable. When the corporation need money in the future, they will be able to borrow it at a much lower rate than they ever did before. In one of the previous Acts, there was some provision relating the percentage to the rate paid by the banks on deposits. I hope that that will not apply in future and that the money will be borrowed as cheaply as possible, so that it can be advanced to the farmer at the lowest possible rate. Up to the present, the farmer was paying 5 per cent. for the money he borrowed.

Recently, 4½ per cent.

Even that is too much. Apart from that, it was very difficult for the farmer to borrow money from the corporation. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to induce the corporation to be more liberal in their gifts to the farmers and not to make so many searching inquiries. If a man was in debt to anybody and asked for a loan, he was asked about the debt and he was refused the loan. It was because he was in difficulties that he wanted the loan but, if he was in difficulties, he would not get the money. The Act, therefore, ceased to do what it was calculated to do when passed by the Oireachtas.

As far as that goes, the Bill has everything in its favour. The principle of the Bill is excellent — I thought there would be no discussion at all about it and that everyone would be delighted to pass it. Having said that much about the principle of the Bill, I regret to have to find fault with the drafting and the provisions set out in the drafting.

There is a provision for specific mortgages of stock. You have, first of all, a floating chattel mortgage relating to all the stock on the man's farm. You have also a specific chattel mortgage, which means an instrument under seal whereby the recognised borrower charges specific stock with the payment of any moneys to the recognised lender. The word "stock" includes "machinery, implements, vehicles, fixtures and fittings used in or for the preparation for sale or the manufacture or processing or marketing of any agricultural produce". Before stock is purchased, the mortgagor may give a specific mortgage of the stock. That will tie the farmer down to saying: "There is certain stock belonging to So-and-so which I want to purchase," and he could not purchase any other stock with the money. He will sign the mortgage before getting the money and then will have to buy that specific stock. That would be a contradiction in terms.

Surely it means a specific type of stock?

It does not say so at all. I think it could not work out as it is intended to work out. It says, in Section 22: "(b) that recognised borrower, for the purpose of giving security for the loan, has, prior to such purchase, executed a specific chattel mortgage of the specific stock, and (c) the chattel mortgage is duly registered..."

Sections 24, 25 and 26 come next. It provides here that the mortgagor may be the person who borrowed the money or his executor or his successor, or it may also be, evidently, the executor de son tort of that person. We know that an executor de son tort is a person who comes in without any authority and takes possession of the deceased's estate. He may be one of the next-of-kin, he may have an interest or have no interest at all. It also says the successor of the deceased, whoever that may be.

Section 26 provides that, if the debt is due for a certain number of days, the corporation may issue a certificate authorising the county registrar, without issuing any process whatever or giving any notice, to go in and seize his stock or implements, machinery or tools and sell them immediately or as soon as possible. He may seize stock in possession of the executor de son tort, who does not own them at all, and the person who owns them will not know the cattle have been seized until they are sold and disposed of. It is also contrary to the provision of Section 7 of the Enforcement of Court Orders Act, 1926, which says:

"The necessary wearing apparel and bedding of a person against whom an execution shall be levied, and the necessary wearing apparel and bedding of his family, and the tools and implements of his trade, not exceeding in the whole the value of £15, shall be exempt from liability to seizure."

Here we find that implements are included and can be seized. Nothing need be left, and even the £15 worth need not be left, as far as I can see. All can be seized, because they are included in the mortgage.

There is a more serious provision. Section 21 of the Enforcement of Court Orders Act, 1926, says:

"(1) Whenever judgment shall be given by any court for payment of any sum of money by way of debt or damages by any person (in this section referred to as the debtor) and the court shall be satisfied at the time of giving of such judgment —

(a) that the debtor is unable to discharge by an immediate payment in full the said sum of money, and all costs payable by him under the said judgment; and

(b) that such inability is not occasioned by the debtor's own conduct, act or default; and

(c) that there is reasonable ground for granting to the debtor an extension of time in which to pay the sum of money and costs,

the court may stay the execution of the judgment for such time and upon such conditions as shall appear to the court to be reasonable.

(2) The conditions upon which a stay of execution may be granted under the foregoing sub-section may include a condition that the said sum of money and costs shall be paid by the debtor by such instalments and at such times as the court may appoint, and that upon failure by the debtor to pay an instalment the stay shall cease."

That Act was passed in 1926, just a year before the first Agricultural Credit Act was passed. Several loans have been granted to people from time to time since May, 1927, when the latter Act was passed. Those people borrowed that money on the law as it then stood and as it has remained up to the present time.

A slight alteration was made in 1929, when it was provided that a certificate of the corporation would be evidence in a court of law that the debt was due. In other words, no official of the Department need appear in court since 1929 to prove the debt. All that was necessary was to hand in a certificate, and that certificate was evidence until the contrary was proved. Of course, it was only prima facie evidence: it might be rebutted by the evidence of the debtor that he had paid certain instalments. Now that is all changed. No civil bill need be issued at all against the debtor nowadays for any debt due to the corporation. Debtors are prejudiced in a way they never could have contemplated. It was never contemplated in their contract that, if they were seven or 14 days in arrears, their stock could be seized. They thought the law would exist as it has existed up to this, that they would have to be brought into court, that they could go before a judge and say: “We were no able to sell our cattle; we did mortgage those cattle, but there was no demand for them; no trains were running to take them away and we could have no buyers.” They cannot go before the court and say: “We lost some stock by disease; we lost our hay; we lost our crops; we are not able to pay and we claim that we come within the benefit of the 1926 Act, in that no man is to be throttled and deprived of everything he has and left there, if necessary to starve.”

The officials in Dublin will not know what happened to that man. They need not ask, and need not give him notice. They can send out the county registrar to seize his stock. Cattle may be seized although the man who owns them may not know that a debt is due to the corporation at all. He may be the person to whom the stock had been willed but may not have got possession. He may not know that the deceased owed this money. When he applies to the executor for the stock, he is told that they were seized by the Agricultural Credit Corporation and that they were worth a good deal of money: that they were sold at a sheriff's sale, and realised about one-tenth of what they were worth. He is also told that he cannot get the stock now.

This is an innovation that should not exist. The Parliamentary Secretary said there was a precedent for it. There is. It was brought into the Land Act and was conferred on the Land Commission. I did not like that. This power has also been given to another Department of the Government under the Income Tax Acts. But that was not such a great innovation as to give it to a limited company. The Agricultural Credit Corporation is a limited company, and if the Oireachtas gives it these powers, what reason can it put forward for not giving them to any other limited company? Is there anything special about the staff of this corporation that makes them infallible so that they could not make a mistake? Are they greater than the staff of any other limited company? I have seen mistakes made even by the Land Commission, and bills served on people who did not owe a debt. They had to go into court and prove that they did not owe the debt and got off in that way. People will not have that opportunity if this Bill is passed in its present form.

I would strongly appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary not to be influenced by any of the people connected with this corporation who may have asked for powers which have never been given before except to the Land Commission, and which, if given in this case, must be given to other responsible bodies such as the Central Bank or any other bank. Why should not those bodies have powers of the same kind? Are they not likely not to make mistakes, because that is the claim that appears to be made for the staff of the Credit Corporation, that they are infallible? I do not know why this power should be given to the corporation. The Parliamentary Secretary ought to be very slow in enforcing the conditions set out in the Bill. I am sure he has considered the Bill carefully, but I do not know if he has really considered all the implications that may arise in the exercise of these powers. They are dangerous powers.

It has been alleged elsewhere that the power to issue a warrant to the sheriff will save a debtor from the expense of a civil bill. Now, anybody who understands country life will know what the ordinary farmer does when he gets a letter.

If the postman brings it to him within three or four days of the correct date of delivery.

When he gets it he will say to himself that he will be going into town in a few days' time and will then show it to Mr. So-and-so in the hope of getting time to pay the debt. Mr. So-and-so will forget all about the letter because he will have bundles of similar ones in his possession. The next thing that happens is that there is a seizure of that man's cattle. Will a couple of pounds compensate him for the indignity of having the sheriff come to his door and seize his stock? Do Senators realise what the effect of that is in the country?

Do they realise what effect it will have on that man's daughters who are looking for husbands, or on his sons who are looking for wives? People may say to them: "Oh! you were courting Johnny Murphy's daughter, but was not the sheriff out at his place the other day and did he not seize his stock?" That is the kind of thing that will remain for years in the minds of country people—that Johnny Murphy was not able to pay his debts and that the sheriff had to seize his stock. And, remember, all that happened because he was guilty of a little negligence. What are the costs of the seizure going to be? It will all depend on the distance that the farmer lives from the sheriff's office. In a county like Galway the distance may be 50 or 60 miles. Therefore, that man will be charged mileage, he will be charged sheriff's fees and other expenses. All that is on the assumption that everything is done in the very best possible way, and not in the way that things are sometimes done in sheriff's offices that I would not like to mention here.

There is also the point—it is a thing that very often happens—that because there is a seizure and a sheriff's sale, a man's stock may be bought in, by some of those clever people who attend such sales, at a sacrifice. The sheriff may accept an offer of £10 apiece for the cattle. He is told to sell them as quickly as possible. He has not to give any notice to the owner. He can sell them any minute he likes and can accept the first offer that is made to him. Therefore some man may walk away with cattle at £10 apiece, cattle that may be worth £22 or £25 apiece. The cost of a civil bill would be 30/- or perhaps £2. How does that compare with the cost of a seizure, and why, therefore, talk about saving a man expense when we know well that this system will ruin a man's credit for all time? He can get no redress for that. He is going to be put to expense that will be ten to 15 times greater than the cost of defending a civil bill. The issue of a civil bill would be a warning to him to pay the amount due by a certain date. These are some of the points that I would like the Parliamentary Secretary to consider carefully. I hope that when he has done so he will see his way to delete these powers from the Bill.

I do not propose to detain the House very long on this Bill partly for the reason that it is one which can be considered in a more satisfactory way in Committee. I have listened to the Parliamentary Secretary and to members of the House who have taken part in this debate, and I am still waiting to hear a case made for the Bill. In the memorandum which the Parliamentary Secretary read to us he certainly made no case for it. He gave us a history of certain events that happened in regard to the Agricultural Credit Corporation and explained certain items outlined in the Bill rather in the way in which these items were outlined in the explanatory memorandum issued with the Bill. He was followed—and I thought we might get a little further explanation of the case for the Bill—by Senator Ó Buachalla. I found myself in the somewhat unusual position of hearing Senator Ó Buachalla defending the Cumann na nGaedheal Government against Senator Sir John Keane. That was Senator Ó Buachalla's contribution, and I must say I entirely agree with him.

The original problem with which the Agricultural Credit Corporation was set up to deal was primarily the problem of the frozen loan. It was the problem of the frozen loan envisaged in the 1926 Banking Commission report which brought the Agricultural Credit Corporation into existence in so far as it was designed to deal with the past indebtedness of the agricultural community. Credit for future development was not covered by the position in 1926 in the Banking Commission's report, but it was really the other problem which brought the corporation into existence. It was brought into existence largely because the banks did not want to have what was essentially long-term credit confused with short-term credit, with the ordinary turnover from season to season, considered as a seasonal turnover and not, as it is often considered, as a permanent turnover varying and fluctuating slightly from season to season.

In considering a Bill of this sort, one must consider it from two different angles—from the angle of what is in the Bill and of what should be in the Bill and is not in it. That is the main purpose of any Second Reading discussion. The Bill's main principles can be summarised under two headings. It proposes a change in the capital structure, a change towards nationalisation, and it contains what have been euphemistically termed by the Parliamentary Secretary certain provisions for clarifying and strengthening the legal powers of the corporation. The latter is, perhaps, a more suitable subject for discussion on Committee, and certainly, with Senator O'Dea, on that stage I will agree that the provisions of Section 26, if injustice is to be avoided, ought to be radically altered. I do not agree with him, however, that in regard to the earlier provision in the Enforcement of Court Orders Act which he mentioned, the provisions of this Bill could, under any circumstances, affect the minimum amount of wearing apparel and so forth that must be left behind by the sheriff, because I can scarcely see the Agricultural Credit Corporation lending money on a specific chattel mortgage on wearing apparel or on the minimum amount——

Machinery or tools.

——of machinery or tools which are required by the Enforcement of Court Orders Act to be left behind. But there is the very much wider problem referred to by Senator O'Dea, which cannot be too strongly stressed, that a man should be given an opportunity before an independent tribunal of making his case and that his case should not be judged before he has had that opportunity. There is, in my view, no excuse whatever for putting the Agricultural Credit Corporation—any more than I felt there was an excuse in respect of the Land Commission—away above the law in its dealings with the private individual. The private individual has rights, moral and human, inalienable rights, which must be guaranteed to him and the preservation and safeguarding of which can only be guaranteed by the integrity of a judicial system before which he will have as much opportunity to put his case as the machinery of the State has to move against him. That is really a matter for consideration on Committee when Section 26 comes up for discussion, and, when that stage arrives, Senator O'Dea and I, as well as others, will press the Parliamentary Secretary very strongly to amend it in a suitable manner.

The first principle of the Bill to which I have already referred is the principle of the change in the capital structure in the corporation. The reason given by the Parliamentary Secretary for that change is that it will mean a saving in interest. Nowhere in the Bill is there anything to indicate what that saving will be, or if there will be any saving. Nowhere in the Bill is there anything to suggest what will be the rate of interest the Government will obtain for the shares it will hold. There is provision in Section 13 with regard to the rate of interest to be charged for additional moneys which the corporation may borrow from the Minister for Finance. That additional money will be tied to the local loans rate. There was ample power to do that without any change in the capital structure, using capital structure in the strict sense of the term, of the ordinary share capital of the company.

What is the position of this capital structure, of this share capital? There are in existence at present, outside the control of the Minister for Finance, outside the ownership of the State, some 410,000 shares of 10/- each, representing a nominal value of £205,000. That sum of £205,000 was subscribed to the corporation on foot of a prospectus issued by the corporation in 1927. It was subscribed on a request put forward with all the solemnity of a State guarantee and to the people who took up that capital certain rights were given. Certain obligations were undertaken by the State and the result was that, excluding the State-owned capital in the corporation, there was a sum of slightly over £10,000 in interest payable in respect of the £200,000 worth of capital. Under this projected scheme, that capital may be written by the Minister for Finance at a lower rate—at, shall we say, 3 per cent? That will mean a mere saving of about £4,000 a year, and at what cost? At the cost of the good name of State credit, at the cost of the breaking of an arrangement solemnly entered into.

What was the alternative? The alternative was perfectly simple and perfectly open to the Parliamentary Secretary. He, no doubt, has in his possession more recent figures than those in the balance sheet published by the corporation on 31st October last. They are the most recent figures which have been put in our possession and they are the figures upon which we must base any discussion of these proposals. There was a perfectly proper method of arriving at the interest saving which was necessary, involving a trifling cost to the Exchequer but saving the good name of State guaranteed investments.

It would have been perfectly open to the Parliamentary Secretary, and properly so, to say that, so far as the existing position in the Agricultural Credit Corporation is concerned, it is a thing of the past and that, so far as the future is concerned, a new system is desirable. It would have been possible to have instituted a new system of finance and to have wound up the existing corporation and paid the shareholders the proper value of their shares. But what happened? The Minister for Finance of the day, in 1927, was very glad to get shares taken up at par value when they were not worth par. In 1927 the £1 share bearing a 5 per cent. guarantee was not worth 20/- or the 10/- share such as is the case here, was not worth 10/-. But the Minister for Finance of the day asked the public to subscribe on this basis. It does not matter whether it was subscribed by the banks or by individuals. At any rate, £205,000 was subscribed on the basis of par value although the shares were not then worth it. Now, because the shares are worth very much more than par value the Minister comes along and says: "The guarantee I gave does not suit me and I am going to adopt a different policy. I am going to pay you off compulsorily whether you like it or not, and it is too bad for you." It is just too bad, indeed, at a time when quite obviously the 10/- invested in 1927 is worth very much less. It was worth more, a good deal more, in 1927 than to-day. And it is too bad when anyone looking at the bare balance sheet must see that the shares are, in fact, worth a great deal more than 10/- If a notional valuation was taken it would show that. In the words of the balance sheet the shares are shown "at or under market value". We are not told how much under market value, but that is a common practice in company procedure to-day. It is a method of having a secret reserve and is considered a safe practice. I am not criticising the practice as such but the plain fact is that what the Parliamentary Secretary is saving on interest is not worth anything and yet he is prepared to jeopardise the whole practice of sound State guarantees in the matter of finance.

It appears to me that it is a matter greatly to be lamented if, for an indeterminate advantage, because it is not stated in the Bill, this moral principle is being jettisoned and thrown aside by the State. The real saving in respect of interest on capital that is going to be effected under this Bill is the saving by reason of the fact that the mortgage powers of the corporation which enabled them to borrow certain money in 1929 on specific short-term security now enable them to take advantage of the terms of the contract they made and redeem the stock at a higher rate of interest and substitute it at much better rates. That is going to be the real saving if the corporation so desires. There is nothing in the Bill to say that it will do that in order to be able to lend money at lower rates to the agricultural community. The House already knows my views too well on nationalisation, State interference and what I consider the proper realms of free enterprise, and there is on the Order Paper some evidence of my views on these subjects. For that reason I do not propose to weary the House by inflicting these views on it twice in a short period. It is a matter for regret that the steps which I have outlined have been taken and that if so desired the results could have been achieved in a proper way without any such difficulties, and that the whole matter has been left in such an indeterminate manner. I would like the Parliamentary Secretary to give us the differences in the annual instalments to be paid by any borrower of £100 from the Agricultural Credit Corporation at 3 per cent., 4 per cent., 5 per cent. and 6 per cent., so that we can see exactly what is going to be saved over a long term when the interest is merged with the repayment of capital on the annuity principle. We would be able to say then what the inducements to the farmer are going to be in the future for him to take up credit from this company.

I must confess quite frankly that before I can see any widespread use being made of any agricultural credit corporation, there must be a very much different training of thought encouraged amongst the agricultural community. Before we even decide on the line of agricultural development or whether we want to have money available for agricultural credit more freely, a new form of agricultural education is necessary for our people. For a long time the difficulty has been that agricultural education as such has been considered by the farmer as a means of getting his son away from the land, as a means of enabling his son to obtain perhaps a Government or a local government position dealing with agriculture but never as a means of his coming back to the land with the knowledge of the improvements in agricultural technique. I think we must try to change the method of agricultural education and ensure that it will not be used only by the farmer's son who wants to get away from home but that the son who is going to remain on the land is the one who is going to be selected to learn the modern developments in science and to use that knowledge for improving the homestead and enabling him to make a decent living on it. One of the reasons why this has been the case is, perhaps, that there has been far too often a tinkering with the policy as determined by the agricultural experts in favour of what might be termed a political policy.

I want to take the opportunity in case there should be any misapprehension arising out of the discussion between Senator Ó Buachalla and Senator Baxter of asserting categorically that we on these benches subscribe wholeheartedly to the view that we have in this country a set of agricultural experts who are second to none and our complaint is not in respect of those experts, not in respect of their brains, nor their quality—because we are all satisfied with that quality—but it is in respect of the facilities, the opportunities that they are getting to develop their "expertness", if I might use that word. There is nothing like enough facilities given to them in that respect and even when they are given the facilities, too often the line of policy they consider necessary from a purely agricultural angle is thrown over and upset as the result of a political volte face— a conflict with agricultural policy as considered from the expert angle. That is one of the reasons why farmers' sons do not want to consider agricultural education for the purpose of going back to their homes. It is one of the reasons why they are anxious to get out of the farms and into the secure nature of a Government position with a fixed salary. But it is in that must lie the root of the utilisation of agricultural credit when agricultural credit is made available.

Senator Ó Buachalla rather heaped coals of fire on the Parliamentary Secretary in one respect, in that he indicated that one should take, regard and consider statistics and figures with a grain of salt—with very great care. I must confess I could not help feeling a bit sorry for the Parliamentary Secretary who had already in respect of his quotation of Colin Clark in the Dáil received criticism from Senator Baxter and Senator Johnston, I think, and who I knew was going to receive criticism from me when he received a little knock from the Senators on his own Front Benches.

The plain fact of the matter is that the Parliamentary Secretary opened and read a particular page of Colin Clark and that page gave the figures which he quoted with perfect accuracy but if he had read back a couple of pages he would see that one of the reasons attributed to the comparison by Colin Clark was that it was in respect of employed persons. A few pages further back he would have seen that Colin Clark was most specific to state in respect of his figures that there were two countries in which the figures were prepared on a different basis to any other and those two countries were Poland and Eire. Mr. Clark did not say whether the basis in this country or the basis in Denmark was better but he drew attention to the fact—as a matter of fact, speaking from rather hazy recollection, I think he preferred our system—but he did point out the fact that the Danish figure and every figure except the figures for Poland and Eire were based on wholesale agricultural prices but that the figure for Poland and for Eire was based on retail prices for agricultural produce. Of course, it does not need very much further from me to say that plain comparison of wholesale and retail prices without making some compensating adjustment is not a comparison that is of tremendous value.

Neither did the Parliamentary Secretary point out in respect of that quotation he made from Colin Clark that the area of Denmark is approximately two-thirds of the area of this country and if, therefore, the figures were related to the amount of arable land available for cultivation to produce this wealth, that the result was going to be that the comparison would work out at about 700 dollars for this country as against about 1,020 for Denmark. I must say that I entirely agree with Senator Johnston that it is a mistake for us to make a comparison between one country and another. What we really want to do is to take the man whom we recognise as a good farmer in our own particular locality and see how we can bring up the level of the bad farmer to his level. It would be invidious to mention names, but as I am speaking, I have in mind the names of two farmers in Kildare—one in North and one in South Kildare— both very good farmers and each carrying out an entirely different type of agricultural economy. I would suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that for the proper utilisation of agricultural credit there could be nothing better than to take a survey of say half a dozen people like each of those in every county and see the results they are getting. That could be done by a committee or by somebody like Professor Murphy of Cork who has gone in for costings on such a large scale—that is, a large scale of interest. There should be known to everyone in every particular county the names of half a dozen people who are considered the best farmers, whose farming is best suited to the particular type of economy in that county, and some committee presided over by a man such as Professor Murphy should go into that county, should take cost-ings in respect of the good farm and having taken them and having done that, we should be in a position to see what every particular type of land can hope with modern development and good farm management to achieve. We would be able to see exactly the type of agricultural credit that is necessary.

Senator Sir John Keane at one stage last evening suggested that to go in for agricultural credit on any large scale such as indicated by Senator Baxter was going to mean that we were going to be faced with large inflationary results. I always understood that the real meaning of inflation was an increase in the means of purchasing, an increase in money, without any increase in production to compensate for it. Surely we are not going to and nobody will think of putting money into agriculture unless we are absolutely satisfied—and I think all of us are satisfied—that it can bring increased production. If it is not going to bring increased production, as Senator Duffy said, we have got a very sorry outlook in front of us. We have got to consider it from the point of view of our own farms as they are worked here by good men, and we have to consider it also from the point of view of what has been got out of other countries—for example, New Zealand, out of Denmark, out of Great Britain and out of America—and try to bring that to bear on our own conditions and apply it to our own soil and apply it to the conditions of social and economic life as we see them here.

We ought not merely to sit back and be content because we have, as I believe we have, the best experts. We should not think that we can learn nothing from anybody else. We can learn up to the day we go underneath the sod. Our experts should be given opportunities and facilities to try out their knowledge by demonstration and experimental farms. They should get facilities to go abroad and study the best in New Zealand, Australia and Denmark. May I finally answer the Parliamentary Secretary by quoting an introductory paragraph by a gentleman who, he cannot say, is merely a Fine Gael speaker. If I correctly understood the speech of the Parliamentary Secretary in the Dáil —if I understood the Parliamentary Secretary incorrectly I shall withdraw unreservedly—it meant that we can learn nothing from Denmark. I am satisfied that we can learn something from other countries and I am particularly satisfied that we can learn from Denmark because "Denmark is not only a smaller country than Eire but her climate is less equable, her soils are in general lighter and poorer, she has no coal and no water-power to compensate for its absence, nor has she any iron ore or other metallic ores to serve as a basis for industrial activities. Yet, in comparison with Eire, she has a bigger population, a greater agricultural output, a more extensive industrial system, a larger foreign trade, a lower national debt, a higher national income and a better standard of living".

When Dr. Beddy thought it worth while to summarise his conclusions of the comparison between this country and Denmark in that way, then I suggest that it is our bounden duty, if we are to face the future of agriculture in a really constructive way, to give our experts, for whom we have undoubted admiration and of whose ability we are absolutely satisfied, facilities to go over to Denmark and to go to New Zealand and, if necessary, to study the methods of those countries. Let there be no stinting of funds in that respect. When they come back, let them lay down an expert, agricultural programme and policy which will not be interfered with from any political angle in the future. If we couple that with agricultural education and get the people to utilise their education, then agricultural credit whether from this corporation or some other corporation, will be of some use to the country.

I listened with great attention to the debate on this subject of agricultural credit. Listening from this side of the House, it seemed to me that we had experts telling us all about our mistakes, errors and faults but nobody to make a single constructive proposal from the other side as to what could be done for agriculture in the future. No new ideas were suggested and there was no allusion to anything that would give a new standard to agricultural life. There were complaints about things that were not done by the Government or the Agricultural Credit Corporation. We had high-sounding oratory and we were told how Denmark had wonderful farms and how every farmer outside the country employed technical methods which gave him a wonderful standard of living. Senator Sweetman passed one remark in his speech with which I agree—that we should not look to other people for comparisons. That leads us nowhere. Comparisons with other countries regarding agriculture are invalid because the general conditions are different in different countries. We have a different climate, a different soil and different conditions from those in Denmark and other countries.

We have some of the finest fattening grass lands in the world. We have, in the south, some of the finest dairying grass lands in the world. If we were to take visiting farmers on a conducted tour, we could show them organised farming methods in individual cases superior to those which they would see in other countries. We have reached that standard but we are trying to minimise our achievement. In doing that, we are losing sight of the basis of our whole economic life, which is based on the broken-down farmer. More often than not, a farmer goes down in life through what is known as bad luck.

There is a sort of suggestion that farmers are all paupers. They are anything but that. They are a very virile and dignified section of the population who are doing well and rearing their families decently. I do not think that there is any need for anxiety about the future, especially having regard to the experience of the past seven or eight years. The farmers maintained the independence of the State in the emergency. They were our first line of defence and, through their industry and the mercy of God, we were able to maintain our national independence. That is what few countries achieved during the war, and we should be proud of it. The question is how we can organise for the future. There has been a considerable amount of criticism of the Agricultural Credit Corporation. It was originally set up from an angle different from that of the banking system. As Senator Sweetman pointed out, it was set up to look after frozen loans and, I think, many other things. There was a general belief that the banks were not giving the credit facilities to farmers to which they were entitled and that they were looking for securities of which the ordinary, small farmer was not possessed. The Agricultural Credit Corporation was established, I presume, to afford easier credit to farmers in need. In addition, the corporation were prepared to give loans on chattel mortgages which, I understand, the banks were never disposed to do. I move the adjournment of the debate.

Debate adjourned.
Business suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 7 p.m.

I was dealing with the change in the whole basis of the allocation of credit to farmers, by the Agricultural Credit Corporation allowing credit on the basis of the chattel as distinct from property. That was of considerable advantage to farmers. For instance, a very old man with a full sense of responsibility may be reluctant to give a mortgage on his property, at a stage when he might feel he may not have long to live. He may wish to dispose of his property to other members of his family and at that critical period he would be reluctant to take on credit—which he might need very badly and which it was highly desirable for him to have at his disposal—by going to the bank, as he may frustrate the future prospects of his family, since he would be mortgaging their future for the sake of the temporary credit he required.

It is a considerable step forward that the Agricultural Credit Corporation should not demand such security and is prepared to give money to farmers on the basis of chattels—stock and equipment of one kind or another —on the land. If by any chance the farmer should die before the complete redemption of the mortgage, at least the property will be preserved to the family and only the chattels may have to be realised in order to meet the debt. On that basis, it gives a continuity of living to the family on the land. They would be able to buy back the chattels from the Agricultural Credit Corporation or re-equip the land in another form if they so desired.

While the Agricultural Credit Corporation started with the best intentions in the world, it undoubtedly was at a very considerable disadvantage from its foundation. As a result of tradition, the established money lenders or banks had a certain priority on the confidence of the people in looking for credit, and the Agricultural Credit Corporation from its initial stages very largely got applications for credit from people who had already been turned down by the banks, or who for one reason or another could not get credit anywhere else. In addition, they took over people who were oversupplied with credit. These were cases where the security in the banks did not altogether cover the banks. These people were absorbed in the Agricultural Credit Corporation also. One may say that the corporation, to a very large extent, got as customers what one might call the less credit-worthy types of farmers. They were certainly less credit-worthy than the farmers the banks were getting.

I have an idea that, while the banks may have resisted originally the establishment of the Agricultural Credit Corporation, they were undoubtedly very glad later to lay off with the corporation customers whom they were not anxious to take themselves. In view of all the difficulties that faced it in its early days, the corporation is deserving of a considerable amount of credit for maintaining for itself a healthy financial position. It has also justified itself as a body that is prepared to give credit without making unreasonable demands on its customers, so far as giving security is concerned. That is a charge that is frequently made against the banks—the extravagant demands they make in the matter of security.

I was very interested to hear Senator Sir John Keane announce in the House last night that the banks have a better plan than the corporation for the giving of credit to farmers. That was a rather startling suggestion for the Senator to make. I was not particularly anxious to overstress it, and would not have done so, but for the fact that I heard Senator Johnston of Trinity College endorse the proposal to-day. He reminded the House that the banks have planned such a wonderful scheme. When one thinks of the long tradition that these banking institutions have behind them, it is surprising that they have kept this plan a secret so long.

It was inspired by a bishop.

I am not interested in its inspiration, but I am anxious to know why we never heard a word about this wonderful plan until a proposal is made for the reorganisation of the Agricultural Credit Corporation. Under it the company will be enabled to borrow money at a cheaper cost than heretofore, and will be empowered to give credit to other than those engaged in agriculture. Perhaps it was a touch of the nationalisation of credit that Senator Sir John Keane had at the back of his mind when he mentioned his proposal. The fact that the Government and those responsible for creating credit in the country are making it easier for people to obtain credit had, I imagine, something to do in making the banks realise that, unless there is more elasticity in the conduct of their business, they may not be required much longer. I do not know what reason Senator Sir John Keane had for making that suggestion. I do not think it was right for him to come here and say on behalf of the banks that they have a better scheme than that of the Agricultural Credit Corporation for giving credit without putting their scheme before the country. I think it is only fair that we should get the opportunity of judging the merits of that scheme before this Bill is passed into law.

I am sorry the Senator is not here, but in the course of his speech last night he mentioned that a sum of in or about £200,000,000 had been advanced for the benefit of agriculture: to modernise it and bring it up-to-date, to mechanise it, to restore the fertility of the soil and increase its productivity, to carry out drainage and rural electrification schemes, and so on. The Senator went on to argue that the spending of that large sum of money on these various schemes was causing inflation. Of course, as members of the House know we get all sorts of cock-eyed proposals and suggestions as to what causes inflation. It is the easiest thing in the world to cry "inflation and extravagance". After all, we cannot forget that the world is after passing through six years of total war. What vast sums were spent during that time? The spending went on and there was no care as to whether it caused inflation or not. That did not matter a jot.

If we had, in a mild form, some of that inflation for the purpose of developing agriculture, I do not see what would be wrong with it. We have money being expended in the world to-day for the production of goods for destruction, and, as a result, money is so cheap and so little is thought of it that it seems far easier to get credit to-day, with very little security, than before the war.

Instead of the Parliamentary Secretary being criticised for reorganising the Agricultural Credit Corporation, for bringing it up to date and for putting it in a position to give the farmer money at a low price, at a price at which any other industry can command credit, he is to be commended. Is it not a common-sense thing for the Agricultural Credit Corporation to reorganise itself in the light of the new circumstances? It is suggested that because people invested in the shares of the corporation before the war, something must be done about them now. Everybody knows that the pound share in any industrial or credit undertaking is worth three times its original amount to-day, but it is a fictitious value. Surplus money is going into the purchase of these shares on the stock exchange, with the result that they have acquired a false value. Unless they are cashed, they are not worth the paper they are written on. It is their realisation which gives the value to-day, but, even when they have been realised, what will the pounds purchase? They will purchase less in commodity goods than the money invested in that share before the war, so that we are back in the same position.

It seems to me that the corporation must reorganise itself, if it is to be of any value, must reorganise itself in the light of modern conditions and, if it cannot do that, as it has been suggested it cannot because of certain commitments entered into before the war, rather than interfere with these particular interests, let them prevail and let a new company be formed for the purpose of providing credit for the farming community, provided always that not alone is the money available at a very low rate of interest but you ensure that the money is put into capital goods, such as equipment, manure and so on. Unless you can secure that you are putting bad paper into first-class productive capacity.

We are a creditor nation. I do not know whether that means in terms of money or production of goods, but if we are a creditor nation on the basis of production of goods, we have a good future ahead of us. If we are a creditor nation on the basis of paper money, inflated money in the form of sterling, I have doubts about what the future may hold. If we are a creditor nation on the basis of money, the sooner we avail of it and put it back into production, into capital equipment, before a large part of it is lost within the next few years, the better. We have been told about this wonderful scheme which the banks have in relation to credit facilities. Competition is the spice of life in the commercial world, and if this wonderful plan is put into operation it will put more spirit into the Agricultural Credit Corporation and make it keep on its toes, and if this competition is agreed and developed the farmer is bound to get the benefit in the long run, but I am afraid that will not happen. This scheme that Senator Sir John Keane tells us the banks have will, I am afraid, never be heard about.

There is nothing wrong with the banks but the old fogeys at the top are still living back in the year one, clinging to the old out-of-date economics that have been burst long ago. Let us see this new scheme so that we can find out whether it can be made to be of any assistance or of any national benefit at all. I think myself there is nothing wrong with the farming community. Farmers are decent, wise, trusty fellows, certainly the large majority of them. In the past you may have had instances of farmers not being able to meet their debts for one reason or another. I saw bullocks selling in my own native place at £40 and £45 apiece in July, 1921, much the same price as prevails to-day for heavyweight cattle around three years old. I remember these same farmers who were offered £45 for bullocks in July being glad to get £25 apiece the following October. That was the general drop within three months of agricultural products and also of other goods: woollens, boots and shoes, and so on. The man who had got credit in good faith during the years previous could not, through no fault of his own, meet his liabilities. How could he when there was a 50 per cent. drop in prices? The difficulty confronting farmers is that they have no way of knowing what the markets are likely to be at any date in the future. This brings me to another point. You have, as I said already, considerable deposits in the hands of the farming community, according to the bank returns, and a large proportion of farmers do not require any money. One might say then, why do not they put this money back into the land by using it to buy equipment, instead of leaving it on deposit in the banks to make the bankers still more rich? The banks pay them 1 per cent. or so and re-invest it to their own considerable advantage so that they get that nice, even balance sheet each year. It does not matter whether expenses go up or down, the bank balance sheets are always the same. I will deal with that, however, on another day. The point is, farmers have a considerable amount of money in bank deposits, and anyone who has studied the situation even from an academic point of view, might well ask why they do not re-invest this money in the land by buying more stock, more equipment. I have just told you that the one thing that breaks the heart of any farmer is the continuous fluctuation in market prices. He may see a buoyancy in the market to-day and go into the bank, take out his deposit and invest it, but it may not be worth anything, not even a box of matches, if market prices drop. If a farmer ploughs his deposit into his land when the market is good he may have nothing when the prices drop. He might be able to weather the storm if he still had the deposit in the bank, but with it invested in the land, all is gone when the market falls.

I advise the Minister and the Agricultural Credit Corporation and our friends in the banks if they are prepared to learn, to appreciate that all things in the nature of credit for farmers above any form of credit for industry, are relative and you cannot leave out that fact from any aspect of it. Do not charge the farmer with dishonesty. The banks and the powers that be, the Government, and other bodies should seek to organise production, distribution and sale of agricultural products both at home and abroad in such a manner and on such a scale that they would be able to guarantee the farmer a market for his product. If that were done, in the long run the bank securities would be worth a lot more money, the farmers themselves would be enriched and everybody would be far better off and more happy. Do not charge the farmers with being no good. They are naturally hard workers. It is not in the nature of a man born on the land to leave it if he can stay on it. They are always happier on the land and if you want evidence of that, you will find it in the fact that men will always go back to it no matter whether they have gone to America or elsewhere. Their ambition is to come back home and buy a little farm as soon as they get the money, and they do so. That is not flight from the land. I think myself the whole question is linked with politics. Politics are a curse. There are too much politics amongst the farming community and what we want here is a common policy between all Parties, a sound agricultural policy but you cannot get that without making sufficient capital available, as Senator Ó Buachalla said, to put into drainage. It would be a good investment for the State to provide it and to plough back into the land as much money as possible and the Government and those in control of finance must join together with other countries because agriculture is the most international commodity in the world. The prairies of the world are in competition with us and no farmer in the world can compete with the prairies. There must be an international policy with a guarantee of stability of prices. I am satisfied that not alone is the individual farmer credit-worthy but that he has a considerable future in this country and with him also I am satisfied that the nation will be much better.

At this late hour and in view of the many lengthy and informed speeches we have had on this Bill I have no intention to go into details, first, because I am not equipped agriculturally to do so and, secondly, because I feel the House would prefer brevity. But I would like to express my own views and impressions and also a few doubts that have been left in my mind listening patiently to those speakers who have preceded me. At the outset I am struck by the one very obvious link between manufacturing industry and agriculture as an industry and that is, their common need for money, and as cheaply as possible. One of the impressions left on my mind—and I think it was a fairly intelligent impression— is that some speakers seem to regard this Bill as something that seemed to provide for the farmers practically unlimited new capital at altogether unheard-of cheap rates and with a new form of very much lesser security than has been regarded as indispensable up to now.

If that is the impression—it is the one that I got—I think it should be exploded and that neither a credit body such as the Agricultural Credit Corporation or the joint stock banks which have been brought into this discussion, too, should be expected to provide money without that reasonable amount of security that is essential to any business, and, frankly, which any business, agricultural or otherwise, should be able to afford. I do not think it should be fastened on to the Parliamentary Secretary, that he should be expected to answer that kind of a suggestion—that the security is going to be so much less. Quite frankly I join issue with Senator McEllin. I do not agree that a man who has been able to put in a few thousand pounds of his own on deposit should think it is his duty and privilege to leave that money there and be able to borrow money for risking. It is the other fellow's money he wants to put on risk and his few thousands are to remain on deposit.

I think one of the curses of our lack of enterprise hitherto has been that too many farmers were content to put big sums of money on deposit and leave them to stagnate instead of taking the risks that men in ordinary business avocations take every day of the week.

Of course they do.

First of all they cannot afford to and secondly they have too much enterprise. I hope that Senator Hayes does not mean anything personal.

I do not think anything like that would come from him. To come back to this Bill, I was struck by the very remarkable speech from Senator Sweetman in which he indicated that coincident with the provision of money in new volume and at more attractive rates, money of itself will do nothing if the policy is not changed too. I know that far-off hills are green. We have even heard reference to Denmark, reference to Danish agriculture. I feel that instead of looking to Denmark or elsewhere for a standard of efficiency we should take in our own townlands the best farmer we have got and make him the average farmer and productivity from agriculture will be very much greater than it is to-day, and the all-round prosperity of farmers will be greatly improved. I gladly say this speaking as an industrialist: it is merely a truism to say that we shall not get efficiency in agriculture if it is under-capitalised. If, as a result of discussions in this House and the other House and the creation of this Bill, capital would be made available to the farmers with an improved policy for its application, then I think the community as a whole will be benefited and I gladly endorse the view that this money should be made available. But do not let us coddle the farmer any more than other men. Let him have the same facilities as other sections of the community.

When Senator Baxter and the rest of them get up here and make speeches one would think that the poor farmer was just the plaything and the shuttlecock, but he is nothing of the kind. He is, however, expected to stir for himself just as much as the rest of the community—as much, but certainly no less. Give him everything in reason, but I do feel one thing to be exploded is that neither he nor anyone else approaching the Agricultural Credit Corporation or the joint stock banks can expect to get money without reasonable security.

In the matter of equipment, even now, while equipment is in short supply, it is possible for any enterprising farmer to get that equipment, financed by people who make a special business of chattel financing. It is not quite as cheap as money from the Agricultural Credit Corporation or from recognised banks but there are companies operating on a large scale and doing quite a big business all over the world that provide the means to the farmer or to an industrial producer to acquire the equipment necessary for any enterprise and it is, I think, something that might be noted, because it will have its own little contribution to our progress in this direction.

I feel this reorganisation is one that should commend itself to the House and if it achieves the end it sets out to achieve, that is, to increase the productivity of our agricultural arm which will have its immediate reaction all round, then it should not only have the blessing of the House but of the nation.

I had not intended to touch upon many points with which I now feel myself compelled to deal on account of the speeches by Senator McEllin and Senator Summerfield. Of the last speaker may I be permitted to say that I am afraid his knowledge of agricultural economics is extremely limited. Otherwise, in my opinion—I say it most respectfully—he would not have said the things he has said about the condition of the farmers to-day. We have had a long discussion. It has occupied five hours or more. The field of discussion has been very wide and, at times, the debate has been academic. With many of the arguments and points adduced, I am not in agreement. I think that Senators should have devoted more of their speeches to the kernel of the whole situation—the Bill immediately before the House—and should have tried to encourage, by way of constructive suggestion, the efforts of the Parliamentary Secretary and his advisers. That would have benefited the section of the community for whom the Bill was intended. They did not do that. Many of them, I am afraid, like Senator Summerfield, knew little about the conditions prevailing in agriculture to-day.

Is it not rather nauseating to hear a Senator say that there are millions belonging to the farmers in the banks? I wonder what the credit balances of the 150,000 farmers who occupy land under £10 valuation amount to. The average valuation along the whole hillside of Donegal varies from £3 to £8. Have these farmers millions in the bank? Senator McEllin said that the farmers were never better off, that they were doing remarkably well. That statement is completely at variance with the facts and stands in definite contradiction of the expressed opinion of the head of the State, the Taoiseach. Shortly before his Government came into power—I stated this here before— the Taoiseach made a remarkable speech at one of the largest meetings of farmers ever held here. Agriculture was not then extremely prosperous. generally speaking. Here is what the Taoiseach said, speaking to the farmers: "The evils you suffer from are not from God. They are not like the seasons, over which we have no control. They are readily changed and I propose to change them by good government, when elected."

That was 14 years ago. In another speech, during the war, at a Muintir na Tire meeting in Mungret College, he again referred to the condition of agriculture, particularly the dairying industry. At Mallow recently he said— and it is philosophic—that this industry was the basis of the whole economy of the State and that it was in a perilous condition.

I am a farmer, an auctioneer, and a county councillor. The Credit Corporation officials are aware that I have been filling in their forms for farmers for a number of years. I have personal knowledge of the condition of agriculture. Last Saturday week, one of the strongest appeals ever made to a county manager was made by Limerick County Council—and Limerick is one of the largest dairying counties in the country—to defer the closing of the second rate warrant until 31st May. It was supposed to be closed a fortnight hence but this appeal was made because of the honest incapacity of innumerable farmers to honour their bond. Does Senator Summerfield forget the condition of farmers after the last war? Has he any appreciation of the ruin effected, to establish a great national purpose, during the six years of the economic war? That destroyed the whole organisation and economics of the farming community. Can he appreciate that, immediately after that, came the scourge of foot-and-mouth disease, which swept the southern counties and reduced men who were opulent before to a state of penury?

Can he appreciate the fact—this can be confirmed by that professional gentleman, Senator O'Donovan—that amongst the causes of the ruin of the great dairying industry are tuberculosis, contagious abortion and mastitis? If anything can be done to redress that state of things, over which farmers have no control, then we should address ourselves to the Parliamentary Secretary respecting it. These are a few points which I had not intended to raise and which I shall not pursue further now so as to avoid disputation. I hope to address myself to the subject at further length on another motion which will be before the Chair to-morrow.

There are only two points apart from these which I am anxious to impress on the Parliamentary Secretary. The amount of interest charged by the credit corporation up to now has been about 4½ per cent. Speaking for the farmers, and as a farmer myself, I want to say that we are not a crowd of mendicants. When the whole country appealed to the farmers, they responded in a spirit of patriotism, sincerity and industry. They worked until they saved the nation from terrible ruin. A body of men made of such material can never become mendicants and can never go hat in hand, begging for concessions from men of large capital. Interest at the rate of 4½ per cent. is being charged by the corporation on loans at present. I ask the Government and the Parliamentary Secretary to consider a modification of that rate. I have filled in many of these loan papers. When the applicants discovered the amount of interest which would be chargeable upon the loan, they abandoned their applications. That is my experience, and I am sure it is the experience of other Senators. Can we not reduce that rate of interest? If we cannot grant the loans at 2¾ per cent., could we not strike a happy medium and lend the money at 3 per cent. or 3½ per cent.? That would give wonderful relief to a section of the community which needs help.

I now come to my second point. When we shuffle off this mortal coil, if we are subjected to as severe an examination regarding our history and our record as is the case in respect of some of these loans, some of us will have very little chance of success before the angels.

The careful examination and then the broadcasting of the personal relations and conditions of many of these poor farmers is something to which I cannot subscribe. I know that some inquiries must be made before one advances money and one must be perfectly sure that Mr. A. is all right, but that there should be these detailed inquiries by Guards in public houses is something which is wrong. There should be some modification. I have known people badly in need of money, who were very reluctant to seek a loan, as John Byrne and Michael White and so on would know all about their stock and their finances. In these cases, details are taken of the number of ducks and hens and eggs they have and there is a whole minutiae of close examination into their circumstances and their chattels, for a paltry £20, £30 or £40. There was a case last week which got through for £150, but I know of three others which were held up. One was the application of a lady who had made provision to get a poultry machine and she was £50 short. She was an intelligent and very ambitious young woman, having a rather delicate family, engaged in the midst of tuberculosis, which now seems to be disappearing. She had a small piece of land and was one of those for whom Senator Summerfield or anyone else would give a personal guarantee. To my amazement, she was turned down. I know of others in close proximity to me and for whom I would give my certificate that they in themselves were sufficient security, owing to the interest I knew them to take in making their businesses a success. I could in confidence subscribe my name, so that they might be trusted with the paltry sums of £20 or £30. Those people are in possession of 15 or 20 acres and would be prepared to lodge their land certificate as security, and against that certificate or against the folio there is no registered judgment.

Briefly, we are a proud race and when local people get information about us which we thought no one knew, we are disturbed. It is for the Parliamentary Secretary to make some modifications and also to get a lower rate of interest. To-morrow we shall be discussing agriculture in general. It is admitted to-day that it is not as sound as we would like it to be. We should admit the failures of the past and remember that the next Government will be making its mistakes, too. We should unite on this matter and not try to take advantage of one another or find holes in the arguments of others, while neglecting the main issue. We should forget politics and work in the interests of the community. This Bill was intended to serve the community and when we come to judgment we will be judged more generously if we carry out our duty here, forgetful of politics and without personal acrimony, remembering to have regard for our fellow men and that even the giving of a glass of water will not be in vain.

One would scarcely think that, on a Bill like this, we should have such a wide discussion on general agricultural policy. Senator Baxter gave us a bad example, as he carried us practically the world over with quotations from alleged experts here, there and everywhere. Subsequent speakers have brought us back to our native soil, with more effect than Senator Baxter's long speech. His speeches irritate me, as when he is finished I start wondering what he has said. I would like to see this Bill implemented to assist the rural community and would like to pass a few remarks at the start on agriculture.

The difficulties of the economic war and the emergency period have brought home to everybody, whether living in the city, in the town or in a definitely rural area, a far better appreciation of the difficulties of the farming community. Whether they have £20,000,000 or £50,000,000 in the banks on deposit, it is all to the good and there should be no criticism of them for having it there. I will refer later to the reason they have it there.

In the guidance of the agricultural community, we have differences of opinion, from the top down. I do not mean differences between Parties—if there are Parties in this House—but differences amongst the experts. The Committee on Post-war Agricultural Policy consisted of very able professors and agriculturists, one of whom is a member of this House. Did they agree in giving the agricultural community a line of policy? No, they did not. Senator Baxter referred to the majority report and the minority report and several others with addenda and subtractions. That might not be such a disastrous thing, as there always will be differences of opinion amongst experts, but it demonstrates that those differences are applicable to different sections of the community. Doctors differ and patients die—experts differ and the farmers are often at a loss to know which policy is right. The experts to whom Senator Sweetman refers in extenso and from whom we wanted greater efficiency are not the people who will save the agricultural community. The difficulty lies in the application of the information those experts have. We are far more advanced in technical agricultural knowledge than many other countries, but we have entirely neglected to apply that information.

We have had that attitude in connection with veterinary services. When some people get up to talk about these services they say that they want further research. I say that we have enough research if we could apply the information that we have to the live stock that belongs to the farming community. That is not done, but that is what was recommended by the veterinary profession before the post-war planning committee. It was on the recommendations then made that the committee published its third interim report on which I may say a White Paper has not been issued. Senator Baxter was not correct in saying that a White Paper had been issued in the case of the veterinary services. That is what we in the veterinary profession have been looking for—the application of the recommendations that were made on that subject. What I want to stress is the fact that, until the knowledge which is there in abundance is applied effectively to the farming community, there is no good in looking for further research. Likewise in the other spheres of agriculture as far as the knowledge that we have applies to farm management, sub-soil treatment, soil rejuvenation and soil analysis. We have enough information on all these matters if we could get it applied down to the man on the land.

On other occasions I have said all that is necessary in that connection, but then people will immediately say that I want more people in Government employment and more inspectors imposed on the farming community. As far as the veterinary services are concerned, I do say that we want a greater number of veterinary surgeons available to help the farmer in the management of his live stock and in the elimination of those contagious diseases to which one Senator referred. Likewise, aid must be afforded to the farmer in the ordinary management of his farm. You must have people on the spot whom the farmer will recognise as his friends. I maintain that you want a greater number of agricultural instructors, the practical, qualified men that we have coming out of the universities. You want a greater number of them to take information into every farmer's house. That is not done at present.

You also want a greater number of veterinary inspectors and a greater number of domestic economy instructresses to help the housewife in the management of her home, her poultry and her general work. The position is that we are only tinkering with these things at present. Some people may argue that all that may mean a greater number of officials, but I submit that it is the only solution if you want to bring the information that the experts have to the homes of the people. You can have all the assistance that you can get from lectures and papers, and through the Vocational Education Committees in doing what I suggest, but over and above that you must have greater personnel.

All that is very interesting, Senator, but it hardly relates to the question of agricultural credit.

I was trying to relate it to the question of credit for farmers. I have heard a number of Senators range over all systems of credit.

The Chair does not wish the debate to take too wide a range.

I was amazed that some of the previous speakers were allowed so much latitude because they almost took in the whole world in the course of their speeches. I have tried to confine myself to the farm and the household of the farmer. I agree that money should be made available to the farmer to improve his farmstead and the health and productivity of his livestock. He should also be helped to manage his farm in an up-to-date manner. Money should be available to him at a very cheap rate of interest. In my opinion there is far more money available in the way of credit for the farmer, from banks and from this corporation, than he has ever availed of. I think the trouble is that the farmer has not been advised to avail to a greater extent of the credit facilities that are there for him. That is information that should be brought home to him by advisers whom he will regard as his friends.

I do not want to deal with the economic war or the comic war, as it is sometimes referred to. Senator Madden referred to the difficulties entailed by the outbreak of the foot-and-mouth disease which, by the way, did not reach Limerick. I would like to refer to a recommendation that was made by the Post-war Planning Committee in connection with the dairying industry. It was that the productivity of every cow in the County Limerick could be increased by a further 150 gallons if they were properly fed. I ask Senators to remember that the cows in the County Limerick are more highly productive than the cows in any other part of the country, but their productivity is due to summer time grass feeding, and they are neglected and starved in the winter time.

There is no Limerick man who will stand for that.

That was the opinion of the committee from whose report Senator Baxter has already quoted. It would be a magnificent thing for the farmers and would be of the greatest help to their financial stability, not only in Limerick but elsewhere, because it would have the effect of lessening their demand for credit facilities if the recommendation of that committee could be given effect, namely, if the productivity of cows in the County Limerick could be increased by a further 150 gallons.

Perhaps I would be called to order again by the Chair if I were to refer to some of the things that have been done by the Government in the interests of farmers. I will say this, that I would like to see sufficient facilities afforded to them through this Agricultural Credit Corporation. Many of the provisions in this Bill have that aim in view. They will be enabled to borrow money for anything and everything in connection with their farms. Of course there must necessarily be some security for the credit given. I think the Bill is to be commended since it affords further opportunities to farmers to obtain credit facilities to improve their holdings. The rural electrification scheme will, I take it, be simultaneous with the introduction of a water supply to each household. I hope, too, that concrete will be used in abundance in the farmsteads to concrete the surrounds of the houses as well as the out-offices. I see great hopes for the future of the farming community. I can see them rising high, even though they are very low at present. I would say, too, that education must be brought to every farmstead. While I say that, I do not mean that we should be ravenous for further research. What the country wants far more is the application of the results of research which we have at present.

I could, I think, create a revolution in this debate by carrying out my original intention which was merely to rise and give notice to the Parliamentary Secretary that I intended to move an amendment to Section 55, but, like other people, certain things said here impel me before I begin on Section 55, merely for the purpose of giving notice to the Parliamentary Secretary, to say something about the general matter raised here, that is, credit for farmers. There is a substantial difference between farmers and industrialists. Senator Summerfield will recognise that.

I once heard at a dinner at which Senator Summerfield was present, the Minister for Industry and Commerce described as the fairy godmother of the industrialists, which translated into ordinary language, means that the Minister for Industry and Commerce can wave a wand and fill the industrialists' pockets with money, and it has been done. The Minister for Agriculture cannot wave a fairy wand, no matter who he is, and fill the farmers' pockets or grow wheat in the fields. The farmer must do it himself and no Parliamentary process of legislation can give the help to the farmers which tariffs, bounties and monopolies have given to certain people, so that, although I am not a farmer, I think it should be made absolutely clear that it does not lie in the mouth of any industrialist to tell the farmer that the farmer must work. That is clear, I think, and, if I were an industrialist, enjoying a tariff or protection, I would abstain from that kind of speech.

That is not what I said.

I did not say it was what Senator Summerfield said. I said that, if I were an industrialist, I would not say it. Senator McEllin told us a good deal about the reasons why farmers do what it is very difficult to understand from the point of view of the urban person, that is, keep money on deposit in the bank and go to the Agricultural Credit Corporation or to a bank for a loan. There are a good many reasons for it and I have had some explanations of it. He went on to say that there was no need at all for disquiet about the future and he praised the farmers for what they did in preserving our independence and supplying us with food during the war. That is very true and very deserved, but it must be remembered in defence of this Bill and any other measures that may be taken for the farmers, that, while the farmer after the war may be richer in money, he is poorer in soil, and therefore we are all poorer. He is also poorer in equipment—another argument for some such Bill as this— and he lacks a great many things which he needs to do his work. Above all, the war has left the farmer, the farmer's labourer and the farmer's son psychologically worse equipped for doing his job than ever before.

I do not think this Bill or any other Bill can do very much to remedy that position. I do not know how it can be remedied, but what happened surely in our agricultural areas is this: that the old-world background which gave the farmer an interest in his own environment, in his own fields, in his place-names and in his own culture—a very ancient culture—has been lost. It gave him his recreation, the joy of life in the country. That has gone, and it has not been replaced adequately by cinemas in the towns or dance halls in the country and, despite the recent statement of the Minister for Health, I do not think it can be replaced by electric light and running water. There is ample cause for very grave disquiet about the future of agriculture and, that is to say, about the future of all of us, and I think that both Senator McEllin and Senator Madden were right in saying that the question is one of such extraordinary gravity that some endeavour ought to be made to get a common policy upon it which would leave the farmer in a position in which he could go ahead for the future, without the feeling that he was going to be subject to political differences, political changes or to changes in his own economy inspired by political motives, using the word "political" in its best, and not its worst, sense.

Again, you can protect the industrialist for the home market, but the farmer depends upon an external market and an external price, and you cannot protect him in that respect, and those—they were legion—who told the farmer that he could be protected in that respect did him immense psychological harm. There is one other point which has particular interest, the question of agricultural education, and I think that, to some extent, Senator O'Donovan is right about it, because the credit you give the farmer is no good to him if he cannot use it properly. I do not think Senator O'Donovan should decry any endeavours to go in for agricultural research and its application to the farmers. I do not think he really meant to do that.

Mr. O'Donovan

I did not say that.

I have had the opportunity of speaking to every student of agriculture for the past 14 years and I have not met 14 of them who are going back to a farm—not 14 in 14 years. I do not know when I met an agricultural student who was going back to a farm. They were all going to be inspectors and to tell the farmer how to make money, but none was going to make any money himself on the farm.

Mr. O'Donovan

Lest Senator Hayes misunderstand what I said, may I point out that I wanted more people of that type? They are what I was looking for, because they are the sons of farmers.

I am not disagreeing with Senator O'Donovan; I am agreeing with him. We have to get some kind of education for farmers which, when they have got it, will impel them to go back to the farm and not away from it.

What I really wished to deal with was Section 55. That section deals with the staff, the routine clerical staff of the Agricultural Credit Corporation. It was put in in the Dáil as an afterthought and now it comes to us. It raises several questions. It is a new insertion which deals, as I say, with a very small staff, and it provides that no person shall be appointed to any situation in the clerical grades in the service of the corporation, unless, in the opinion of the directors, he possesses a competent knowledge of Irish. I think it is absurd to place upon the directors of this particular corporation the onus of deciding what knowledge of Irish, or, for that matter, what knowledge of English, a candidate for a clerical post should have. They have no qualifications for making that decision, and, if any one of them had the qualifications, they have no machinery.

The section deals, as I say, with the clerical staff—what I call the routine staff as distinct from the clerical staff —and the second sub-section says that, in making any appointment to any situation under the corporation, regard shall be made to the knowledge of Irish possessed by candidates. That is what a colleague of mine at University College once called a hasty genuflection to the Irish language. I think it is a humbug which ought not to be put in, because nobody going for a technical job should get that technical job on his knowledge of Irish. It is foolish, and it is bad for Irish. More particularly, he should not get a technical job merely because he has some kind of knowledge of Irish. If a man has a really good knowledge of Irish and a good knowledge of his technical work, then, other things being equal, he should be preferred for a sound knowledge of Irish, but not for any of this humbugging kind of qualifying examination. I think it is a mistake.

I do not want at this stage to raise with the Parliamentary Secretary, who is not in a position to answer, the whole general question. I have some doubts about the whole general question, but this is a matter in regard to which I intend to move an amendment. There should be no preference for technical positions, unless the knowledge of Irish is really sound. On the general question of routine staff, I have never been able to understand why these bodies like the Agricultural Credit Corporation, which has a very small staff, the Electricity Supply Board, which has a very big staff, Bord na Móna, which has a very big staff, could not recruit their ordinary clerical staff from the lists of the Civil Service Commissioners. It would meet the point made, I understand, at some length by Senator Duffy, with regard to the extraordinary difference in Government and semi-Government bodies between the status, pay and general conditions of the staff. There may be some case for technical people but for the routine staff personnel, people of school-leaving age, I think the Parliamentary Secretary will agree that the simplest process would be to take the people from the Civil Service list. The competition for clerical officers in the Civil Service is very keen and those who are not actually called are very, very good people. It seems to me that there is no reason on earth why you cannot take these people from the Civil Service list. I think this would be the surest way of getting good officers and it would avoid this business of persons having to achieve one standard to get into the Civil Service, a different standard to get into the Electricity Supply Board, and a different standard to get into Bord na Móna. I am just mentioning these bodies for the sake of comparison. Those who pass the Civil Service examinations including those who are not called are of a much higher standard than the average candidate who passes the leaving certificate or matriculation. It was part of the old Sinn Féin plan that there should be a national Civil Service and that local officers should be appointed on a competitive basis. One of the first things I was asked to do in 1921 by Mr. Cosgrave who was then Minister for Local Government was to meet Mr. Murphy, the town clerk of Dublin, and see if a scheme could not be devised for the purpose. The result was the development of the Local Appointments Commission.

It seems to me that this method would secure unified conditions and pay and the question of compulsory Irish or compulsory anything else would not arise. You have two different classes of people going into work. Those who go in at the school-leaving age find no hardship so far as compulsory Irish is concerned, although after 25 years we have made far less progress in this regard than anyone thought we would have made. I intend putting down an amendment to the effect that these people should be recruited from the Civil Service list. I understand that in the beginning it may be necessary for the Agricultural Credit Corporation to have people who are experts such as bank clerks. I do not know if that is so. If, like the banks, they take people in from school and train them there is no reason why they should not take them from the Civil Service list. Young Paddy Murphy will get 80th place in the Civil Service examination and is not called and another boy may get 60th place. It may very well be that a person who gets the 80th or 100th or 120th place may get a job under this semi-Government board while a much more highly-qualified candidate who got a higher place is still looking for a job in the open market. That is an undesirable position, and I see no reason why this scheme should not be put in operation. It could be applied to all classes. It might need a certain amount of adjustment, but seeing that we have the machinery of the Local Appointments Commission dealing with the appointments to local bodies as different as the Dublin Corporation and an urban district council I do not see why you cannot make some arrangement for semi-State controlled bodies. No matter how beautiful this here reads, ultimately it means that some one in the Agricultural Credit Corporation is going to set a standard of his own for his staff. The Parliamentary Secretary cannot do that for his office: the Minister for Finance cannot do it for his office or the Taoiseach cannot do it for his office. Why then should the directors of the Agricultural Credit Corporation be permitted to do it in theirs? For no reason. I know the answer the Parliamentary Secretary may give—that this a a general question. It is because it is a general one that I thought I would give him notice of it. I could say a great deal more on this Irish business. If there is going to be an Irish test for the clerical officers it should be a real and genuine test and the same for people entering similar posts. The same machinery should be used here as in the Civil Service, and I will put down an amendment to this effect. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will give the position thought in the meantime.

Mr. Hawkins

We have had a very long discussion on this Bill, and we have covered a good deal of ground as we always do on an occasion of this kind. We were told about a decline in population and a decline in production, and the very difficult circumstances in which the farming community were existing. As a matter of fact it was suggested that we were completely neglecting the farming community and treating the urban areas more generously. If we are going to make statements like this and if we are going to make these statements with a view to damaging a political Party or the Government Party we should, first of all, consider the damage we are doing to the nation. When we talk about the flight from the land and the incentive for the young people to leave the land we should realise that in making these statements and painting these pictures we are contributing more than anything else I know of, to this flight. We are trying to convince the farming community and the young people in rural Ireland that they are the slaves of the nation. We forget that the past eight years were very difficult years and that we were almost completely cut off from other States. I would like to say here now that we owe a great debt of gratitude to the farmers for pulling us through those years. In all these statements we hear nothing of the progress that is being made in rural areas: we hear nothing about the new housing or the facilities that are available for farm improvements, the building of out-offices and the reconstruction of dwellings. I believe that if we are going to convince our people that the land is worth while and that the life on the land is the best life we must stop this decrying of the conditions of our rural people. We must go out to try to convince them that every section of the nation is prepared to do its part to make their lot much better. I do not wish at this late hour to go over all that is being done or what has been done, but I think that it is only right on an occasion like this that we should remind ourselves that progress has been made and is being made. Senator Sweetman in his opening statement suggested that the Parliamentary Secretary gave no good reasons for the passing of the Bill. Now, I think that is not true. The first thing is that the financial construction of the Credit Corporation is involved, but more important than that is that there are credit facilities being made available and the corporation can now lend money to organisations to whom they were prohibited from lending in the original Bill.

If that is not sufficient reason for introducing a Bill of this kind then what would be a reason? Under this Bill the Credit Corporation can lend money to co-operative societies transacting business where they were prevented from doing so in the past, at a reduced rate of interest. I myself would be more interested in the Credit Corporation having this power of lending money to the co-operative societies or to any society of any kind rather than to the individual farmer, because I believe that is what we want in this country. In the greater part of Ireland there are no co-operative societies. Where they do exist they are not functioning as they might be under other circumstances. I would suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that in those areas where there are no co-operative societies, in order that there may be full use made of this Bill, the county committees of agriculture should be taken into consideration and that it should be possible for the Credit Corporation to lend money to such as the county committees of agriculture who would select applicants for machinery and seeds of one kind or another in their own counties. They have already been charged with that obligation in regard to the allocation of machinery and I think that apart from farm buildings of one kind and another that is one thing we want in this country— machinery, and machinery properly used. I would advance another reason for utilising the county committees of agriculture and that is to ensure that the person to whom machinery was given knew how to use it properly. I have heard of one instance and I am sure people more intimate with agriculture can vouch for it also—where a young man in a particular district got a tractor. He got the tractor of course as a means of livelihood and there was a young girl passing him when he was starting in his field to work. This young girl happened to be a farm worker engaged in England for some time and it was she who had to show him how to set his plough and set his machinery to carry out the work.

If this corporation or any individual is going to engage in activities of that kind without having proper knowledge of how to do the work, then it is not of very much advantage. I would say that if a system were evolved whereby county committees of agriculture could secure money from the Agricultural Credit Corporation for purposes of this kind the responsibility could be put on the county committees of agriculture to ensure that the person who got the machinery was a person fitted to use it. Senator Johnston——

He might have political pull and he would get it whether he could use it or not.

Mr. Hawkins

He might have political pull and if he has, is it proposed that because the great majority of the people of the country are in support of one political Party they are going to be deprived of their rights to get anything that is in the giving of any authority? Recommendations made in this House or in any other House cannot change the political views of the people. We succeeded in changing the views of the people before by putting up a sound practical policy——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Come, now, to the Bill, Senator.

Let him carry on.

Mr. Hawkins

——and if Senator Baxter and his Party can succeed in doing the same thing we will wish them luck. Senator Johnston referred to-day to the amount of money farmers had in banks. He suggested—and I agree with him—that if we could encourage those farmers to utilise that money themselves or to plough it back into the land it would be very good. But there is a snag. This money set aside in the banks by the farmers is set aside for some very good reasons. In most cases it is set aside by the father of a family who wants to make provision, perhaps, for the time when he himself will hand over his farm to possibly his eldest son, and if we cannot evolve some scheme we cannot ask that man to put the money back into the land. It would, of course, be more beneficial to him if we could convince him of that. But we must be prepared to say to him: when you require this money to give a dowry to your daughter or for any other purpose, there is machinery here by which you can get a loan for the purpose. If you are not prepared to do that I do not think you will succeed in getting the great majority of the farmers to put back their own money into the land.

That is quite sound.

Mr. Hawkins

Senator Sir John Keane said last night that at one particular time it was suggested by a committee that the bankers would do what the Credit Corporation was asked to do. If I understood Senator Sir John Keane, the banks were prepared to do that. But on what condition? On the condition that they had Government security. Senator Ó Buachalla pointed out already to-day that this Credit Corporation was first set up by the suggestion of a commission on which the bankers were represented. Senator Sir John Keane also made reference to the loss sustained by the community in establishing this corporation and I would like the Parliamentary Secretary to give us some information on this loss. Who got this money? How was the loss incurred? He suggested something like £300,000. I think that was much exaggerated, but it would be well if we could hear from the Parliamentary Secretary how this expenditure was incurred.

There is just another question I would also like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary. I think it would be important, though possibly he may not have the information available this evening. How much of the money that was advanced by the Credit Corporation to applicants since 1936 was advanced to buy off bank debts, after the term of the 1914 war, given out to people who were put into a position of non-production as a result of getting loans from those particular banks at that time? How many farmers would have secured a loan from the banks during the economic war? At times like this, the banks are probably taking a different view from what they might have had in other times. But we must guard and cater for the position that might arise when the banks will not be prepared to do the things they may be prepared to do now.

There is another point. From my own knowledge of the farming community and my associations with them I find that in the majority of cases the farmer is very reluctant—the farmer who makes an honest effort to repay it —is very reluctant to take a loan. As secretary of a utility society I have met some people applying for housing grants and I have often suggested to them that they could get a loan from the Credit Corporation and repay it with their annuity, and the one thing they were not prepared to do was to accept a loan of this kind.

They were prepared to go into a merchant and get credit from fair to fair and from year to year rather than, as they put it, put a millstone round their necks by way of a loan. There is one section for whom I should like to see provision made, though I do not know exactly how it could be done. During the recent blizzard, some farmers incurred great losses. There should be some machinery to cater for that type of person. There are farmers in County Galway who suffered considerable losses as a result of the recent blizzard and I am sure the same applies elsewhere.

Mr. Hawkins

There should be some system under which loans would be made to such people at a low rate of interest or, perhaps, free of interest. It will be very difficult for some of those people to get back into their former position. They may not be able to do so for ten or 20 years. There is no use in making provision for loans for people who will not be too particular how to utilise them or whether they will ever repay them. They know full well the difficulty of selling in rural areas in cases of this kind. May I say, in conclusion, that it is very important that the rate of interest should be as low as possible? If possible the Parliamentary Secretary should take county committees into consultation in a scheme of this kind. They could perform very useful functions and it would be one way of providing proper machinery in areas where there are no co-operative societies and where there is no likelihood of them in our time.

A long speech by me would be an encroachment on the time of the Parliamentary Secretary, because he will require a fair allocation of time to reply to the various arguments which have been put forward, some of them having no relation to the Bill. I welcome the Bill so far as it goes. It does not go far enough. Because the corporation will go into competition with the banks, I welcome this Bill wholeheartedly. Already it has done some good. Senator Sir John Keane, speaking here—I do not know to what extent he was speaking on behalf of the banks——

I should like to make that point clear because I have been misrepresented in the Press. I was speaking entirely as an individual and in no way on behalf of, instructed or inspired by the banks.

I am sorry to hear that. I was hoping that the banks were at last developing a heart. They have been all head up to now. I thought that they might be developing a little more human kindness in dealing with this very important industry, agriculture. All phases of this subject have been dealt with and the speakers have gone very far afield. Senator O'Donovan mentioned a number of officials who might be further engaged—a new lot. May I suggest that they include a number of hypnotists in order to persuade the farmers that they are well-off? Senator Hawkins deplored the action of Senators in pointing out to the farmers that they were not well-off when compared with the industrialists. Senator Hayes dealt with that aspect of the matter very well. There is no comparison between the risk undertaken by the farmer and that undertaken by the industrialist. The risk is much greater on the part of the farmer and the profit is much greater on the part of the industrialist. In all tariff countries, the farmer is the hardest hit of the whole community and our farmers are no better off than those of most other tariff countries. I do not want to encroach on the time of the Parliamentary Secretary and I conclude by saying that I welcome the Bill because it enables this corporation to compete with the banks which, up to now, had a complete monopoly of the financial business of the country. In another country, not far off, they found that the time would come when they would be nationalised and, perhaps, the time is not far off when we shall find ourselves in a similar position.

Coming from an agricultural district, I think that it is only fair that I should put my views before the Parliamentary Secretary and the House. In what I have to say, I shall not be prompted by any motives other than the welfare of the agricultural community in general. I do not profess to have a deep knowledge of high finance and I shall not deal with that aspect of the matter but I do claim to know the conditions of the farmers of the West. I have been living amongst them all my life. I have been in association with them in farming and in business and I should welcome any change which would afford reasonable credit to worthy farmers to enable them to increase production. I should not like to see money distributed wholesale. I should like to see it devoted to useful purposes. The farmers whom I know in the West are very slow to take loans except they require them for proper purposes.

As regards the corporation, as it has existed up to now, I had only one experience of its operations and that was not a very happy one. I applied on behalf of a widow for a loan of £20 or £30, principally to provide a horse to take turf into the town. That would be a great means of support to her and it would be a great matter for the people in the town to get a supply of fuel. To my great dismay, the application was turned down. That was my only experience of the corporation and I was amazed at it. The woman in question got the money afterwards from a friend. I am happy to say that it was put to good use and that she does not want a loan from anybody now. That was about three years ago. I should like to see a reduction of red tape in such cases. It is not so much the means of an applicant which should be taken into consideration as the type and standing of the person. A person who has got into low water through no fault of his own may not be able to give personal security. If such a person is reputable and has a good name for honesty and industry, that should be the deciding factor, so far, at least, as small loans are concerned. When I speak of small loans, I mean loans of from £30 to £60. In the case of the majority of the small farmers I know, that would put them in a good way and it is about as much as they would ask or need, save in exceptional cases. It is said that farmers have a great deal of cash in the banks. I have no sympathy with the farmer who has £500, £1,000 or £2,000 in the bank. He is well able to look after himself and secure his loan. Those are the exceptions. To say there is more money held in the banks by farmers at present, made on their land, is utterly untrue and misleading. The person who is working the land and rearing a family is very lucky if he is able to make ends meet.

There may be a large number of farmers with money in their names in the bank, but if there is, it is not derived from the land but from subsidiary sources, such as pensions or some business. It is largely subsidised by their children earning on the roads or bogs or in local positions and there are also the remittances from England and America. Those people are the casual custodians of that money. If they do not want it to run the house, it is placed in the children's names until they are getting married or the boys require a bit of land. To say that the farmers are swimming in luxury and wealth, from profits derived from the land during the last four or five years, is something to which I cannot subscribe. Those who know the position of the farmers are the shopkeepers and the bankers and they will be able to verify what I have said. Until I have evidence from such people that what I say is not right, I will hold very strongly to my own views on that point.

A good deal has been said about the way in which money could be used usefully. Everyone realises that the present situation in regard to food and fuel is more serious than ever, especially in the West of Ireland, as has been reported in the papers. In northern Connaught the effect of the blizzard has been very hard. In Mayo and Roscommon and all northern Connaught, there are many feet of snow on the ground and God only knows when the crops can be put in. At a county council meeting recently, I was told by a colleague that he lost 18 lambs, as the dams had not the milk and the cows' milk was not suitable. The whole situation is very serious and should be tackled seriously by every public representative, irrespective of Party.

I do not say that the Agricultural Credit Corporation should act recklessly, but they should accept people of standing, noted for honesty and industry, who can vouch for the people concerned. The Government have means of getting pretty reliable information on that point. During the present spring, every encouragement should be given to the production of food and fuel, and if it is a matter of a little advance, even though the person concerned may not be able to put up very desirable security, the corporation should be guided largely by the honesty, the integrity and the standing of the applicant.

It is very necessary to have an improvement in the lay-out of the farmyards and out-offices, so as to save a good deal of labour. Some Senators suggested a survey of out-offices. That would be a very wise undertaking. I noticed last year that there was great need for granaries since the extra tillage campaign. In places where there was not a lot of tillage previously, the farmers had no granary facilities and the grain has suffered a lot, as it could not be stored properly. In a bad season such as the last harvest, people with hay barns, as they had more tillage and less hay, could use them for oats; but during the threshing many farmers had no accommodation for their oats. They had to leave it in those barns without being threshed, and there is a good deal of it not threshed yet, though the spring is upon us now. That has not occurred to a large extent, but some small farmers in my area are very concerned, though the quantity they have is not a lot.

I do not like State interference in these undertakings and would be wholeheartedly with Senator Sir John Keane in his proposal yesterday; but when I heard the report issued by the bankers I changed my mind entirely on that. It seems they actually refused to have anything to do with it and actually asked the Government to take the matter over.

A year or two ago a case came to my notice where a farmer wanted a loan and his security would not be taken by one of the joint stock banks. It was land with an annuity on it. He happened to have a little bit of freehold property and got a loan on that. Seeing that that is the case, I think the Agricultural Credit Corporation is the only thing. The Government had to step in, otherwise from every point of view it would be ideal if the joint stock banks were able to arrange matters in the way Senator Sir John Keane suggested yesterday.

I resent a remark in the report with regard to sales. It was even suggested that there was a certain amount of dishonesty about it. On behalf of the agricultural community as I know them, I resent it, and that will be borne out by the facts.

From 1917 to 1920 land and cattle were paying and everything was in a flourishing condition. The banks were actually pressing money on farmers and cattle dealers. They were making enormous profits. The result was that people who had a farm were encouraged to buy a second one. Then we know the terrible depression that followed some years later. Many farmers who had obtained credit from the banks were not able to foot the bill when the demand for repayment was made on them. Merchants and other people having dealings with them can testify to the honesty of the farming community. I worked for some years in a big business place in the West of Ireland, and I have known sons and daughters who emigrated to America to send home money to pay off old debts due by their parents to business houses. There are other matters that I might refer to, but I shall reserve doing so until to-morrow when there is to be a debate on a motion dealing with agriculture. In view of the serious fuel and food position in the country, I hope the directors of this corporation will treat applicants, who are in need of financial accommodation, as kindly as possible, so that they may be put in a position to add to our food and fuel supplies.

I have no intention of attempting to follow the broad tributaries and floods of oratory with which we have been deluged here to-night. It would be futile on my part to attempt to do so. I should like, however, to emphasise the purpose for which this Bill has been introduced. It is to provide money on more easy terms for a certain section of the farming community not catered for by other credit corporations in the country, to wit, the banks. I might say, in passing, that I appreciate the manner in which, on the whole, the Bill has been received by members of this House. It is hoped, as a result of the reduction in the capital of the company to enable the corporation, by thus increasing its business—in consequence of the extra profits which that will enable it to make —to make money available at lower rates of interest than were hitherto possible.

In speaking of rates of interest I should like to carry the minds of Senators back to the inception of this legislation in 1927, and of the necessity for it. At that time there was a crying need for financial accommodation by the farming community. I think we had sufficient evidence of that in the speeches made here this evening. When the Agricultural Credit Corporation was first established the fixing by statute of the rate of interest at 5 per cent. hamstrung the corporation. It prevented it from doing the work it was established to do. The fact that it was bound by statute to pay a 5 per cent. dividend to its shareholders obliged it, of necessity, to obtain a higher percentage than that from those unfortunates to whom it lent money. It had to do that in order to pay its way. It was obvious, after a few years working of the Act which was passed, as I say in 1927, that it could not serve the purpose it was introduced to serve. Eventually, the directors were enabled to reduce the rate of interest to 5 per cent., and during the past two years the rate has been further reduced to 4½ per cent.

In opening the debate, my friend, Senator Baxter, perhaps somewhat unconsciously, created, I think, a false impression with regard to me personally. I hope that I am not misquoting him, but if I remember rightly he stated that I had no previous contact with the farmers and, therefore, had no knowledge of the necessity for agricultural credit. I would like to assure him and everybody else that I was not born in the heart of London or in Tokio. I was born in the heart of the County Clare and as far as I am aware everyone belonging to me—all my predecessors on both sides of the house— have been farmers and nothing but farmers, and I am not ashamed of it. Consequently, my sympathies in this and in other matters are 100 per cent. with the farmers. I think I have the farmer's outlook, and I yield to nobody as regards my knowledge of the requirements of the farming community. Knowledge can only be gained by experience, and the best teacher of all is practical experience. By practical experience I mean to place yourself in the position of those who have spent a little term in that sweating chamber to which we have so often heard reference made when an applicant for accommodation from a bank is sent into the bank manager's private sanctum and has the Riot Act read for him.

Hear, hear!

I am well aware of that aspect of the situation. I am also aware of the necessity that exists for what I would describe as prudent borrowing. With prudent borrowing I would also hope to have prudent lending. I am not one of those who believe that you can scatter money ad lib throughout the country without inquiring as to the purpose for which it is required, and how it is going to be used.

I have seen a lot of work done in the district in which I was born. I have seen a lot of improvements made on the land. We are hearing a lot now about improvements, improvements in the land, around the houses and in the farmyards and in the making of drains. But I have seen wild mountain reclaimed. I have seen limestone carted four and five miles to be burned to help in the reclamation of mountains. I have seen drains made, and I have seen roads made for miles across the country over the hills without aid or grant from any source whatever, except that provided by honest sweat, and honest labour on the part of the farming community in that locality, and I am sure that if Senator Baxter were to speak his mind, for he comes from a part of the country where, I think, the same sort of agriculture has been carried on, County Cavan, he would agree with me. I therefore, claim to know from the inside what is the outlook and what are the needs of the farming community.

We need not go either to Denmark or to New Zealand to find examples which we could get the more backward section of our farmers to copy. I have seen experiments carried out in the part of the country where I come from by a former régime, in the good old days to which we sometimes hear reference. A band of Scotsmen were brought over to teach Pat Murphy how to farm and the Scotsmen were successful, so long as the landlords on whom they depended remained in the country, but, when the landlords fled, what happened to the expert Scotsmen?

They faded out like a bunch of tomatoes after a night's frost, but Pat Murphy is still there. History records that men who were driven from the North in the days of the persecutions came down and settled on the bleak, barren mountains between Clare and Galway and performed a miracle there of an even greater nature than that performed on the estate of Senator Sir John Keane's ancestors by the monks, for, without aid from any outside source whatever, these people—and amongst them, I may say, and Senator Sir John Keane may be glad to know it, were some of the Ó Catháins from the North who came there with the Ó Neills—the Ultach Ó Neills, as they are known—worked hard and made a living. What a glorious sight it is for these people to see there the descendants of the O'Neills of Ulster who came there, and who, without aid from any source whatever, without going cap in hand to any Government, any bank or any person, but merely by sweat and labour, dug into the mountainside and made a living. But the Scotsmen are gone to-day.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Parliamentary Secretary might now come to the Bill without further historical references.

I have perhaps travelled a little into history, but I have confined myself, as far as possible to my native country and even to my native county. I apologise to the Seanad if I have perhaps exceeded the rules, but, as I said at the outset, this discussion has ranged over a very wide field, and even if I had the intention or the desire, which I have not, time would not permit me to follow the many winding and devious paths followed by other speakers.

To get back to Senator Baxter who, I am sure, had no intention of creating a wrong impression, the Senator told us that a capital sum of £200,000,000 was required for agriculture and, if I mistake not, he was quoting from the minority report of Dr. Henry Kennedy. I do not at all quarrel with him in that. It is quite possible that, in the course of time, though not immediately—I am sure that the Senator would not suggest that overnight we could provide £200,000,000 for the farmers to borrow —that sum could be provided. I do not believe the farmers would borrow to that extent because they are not such fools. Our farmers are amongst the most prudent people and the most conservative people in the world. They are the slowest to rush in, especially those of them, the vast majority, who want to pay their way, to borrow money. It is the last thing they will do. I have heard reference here to farmers with money in the bank borrowing from the Agricultural Credit Corporation or the banks. I doubt very much if they do anything so foolish.

I never saw it in my time, either.

I have never known a single case of it. So far as I can see, the outlook of the majority of the farmers is that, if they can possibly avoid borrowing, they will do anything in order to avoid it. Many Senators have expressed the point of view that we should try to educate our farmers into wise borrowing. I think it a pity that our farmers are not more inclined to borrow money for good and useful purposes on the land. It could be done; it can be done; and I hope it will be done. I hope this Bill will go some way, although it is not going to work all the miracles expected by many Senators, towards providing farmers with the wherewithal to enable them to do that good and useful work.

Some Senators referred to the fact that the amount of money mentioned in the Bill was rather small and would not bring about any material change. The demand for this capital up to the present has been rather small, but, if and when the amount provided by this measure becomes exhausted, surely it will be possible to provide more, and much more. We are all aware that there is no scarcity of money in the country at present. In fact, I think that some of those who speak for the banks would admit that the difficulty of the banks at the moment is to obtain suitable, safe investments for the surplus moneys they have lying on hands. I have no intention of going to Denmark this time.

Why not?

We had better leave Denmark out of it. Some other time, I will come back to it, and I think I shall be able to get back at the Senators who are so very fond of Denmark, but I ask them to be at least a little more accurate in their quotations in future.

Senator Baxter, incidentally, said, amongst other things, that the corporation would perhaps be unable to lend money at a lesser rate than 4 per cent. and that, because of that, it would be beyond the capacity of the people to pay. He was a director of the corporation at a time when they were charging 6 per cent., and the people had to pay. If they could do no better than to bring the rate down to 4 per cent., I think it would be a considerable achievement. I hope they will be able to do more, but that will depend entirely on the volume of business which, we hope, will ensue from the reconstruction envisaged in the Bill.

Surely it will depend on the price they pay for the money?

That is part of the reconstruction. Even if they were to get money ever so cheaply, if the volume of business was small, their overheads would prevent them being able to lend at a lower rate. The larger the volume of business and the more the business expands, the more their overheads are spread out and the more profitable the company will be and the greater, therefore, the possibility that they will, in the course of time, be able to reduce, to some extent, the rate of interest to borrowers.

Give them money which they can lend at 2 per cent. and see what will happen. They will need to increase their staff three times.

As reference has been made to lending money at 2 per cent. —some people wanted it at 1 per cent. and some wanted it at no per cent.— may I say that if the Government did step in and by subsidy—for it could not be done in any other way—provided money which could be lent at 2 per cent., at 1 per cent or at no per cent., who would pay it? Who would pay the subsidy? The entire community will pay it, including the farming community.

Not at all.

Senator Baxter says "not at all".

The central authority——

Oh, yes, get the printing presses working and we will solve all our difficulties. Simply by issuing notes we are going to increase wealth! Did anyone ever hear anything so ridiculous? They tried that in Germany after the last war. You could become a mark millionaire there for a bob. What good would it do us here if we could buy 1,000,000 notes for a shilling? I am amazed to hear a Front Bench member of a Party make such a statement.

The Parliamentary Secretary has a lot to learn.

Possibly, but he is not alone. I have emphasised the fact that the difference between the profitable rate at which money can be lent and a rate prescribed by a Government must be borne by the entire community as a whole. I think the only other matter mentioned by Senator Baxter to which I should refer was the fact that in Denmark there was electric light in more houses and more telephones and more radios and possibly more motor cars. In regard to those three or four items I must point out that the number of houses electrically lighted here up to the present may not be as high as in other countries, but as the House is aware a Bill was passed some time ago and but for the inclement weather of the last six weeks considerable progress would have been made with the rural electrification scheme which is the implementation of that measure. They are already busy at the work where I live in County Dublin, and in other parts of the country too. It is the intention to bring electricity into the homes of practically everyone in rural Ireland. With regard to telephones, the intention is also to bring them into as many homes as possible. The Minister has outlined his policy in that regard and he is going full steam ahead, but, like everything else, it will take time.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

This has no connection with the Agricultural Credit Bill.

On a point of order, is the Parliamentary Secretary not entitled to reply to points raised in the discussion?

I took special note of Senator Baxter's remarks and one of the things he mentioned and which I expect will come within the province of the measure is that farmers through its operation will be enabled to install electricity and electric machinery. That is one of the objects I have in view. I do not say we should follow Senator Baxter's suggestion and provide the people with radios and so on. I have another note here to which I will make passing reference. It refers again to the Danes. Senators may have noticed in the papers recently that, despite all this alleged prosperity of which we hear, protests have been made in the streets of Copenhagen. They went so far that a pig put in a shop window had to be removed by the Government. This was a protest by the Danes against the prices they were getting for their produce.

The prices I mentioned are pre-war.

I did not interrupt the Senator.

I do not wish to interrupt the Parliamentary Secretary, but at the same time I do not wish to be misrepresented.

Senator Sir John Keane was the next speaker, and he did not altogether approve of Senator Baxter's ideas. He does not think that ample capital alone is a solution for our agricultural difficulties. He suggests that education is more or less a cure for our ills. Perhaps there is a good deal in favour of both points of view. A little capital and a little education for the working of that capital may go a long way to provide a solution for some at least of our difficulties. But Senator Sir John Keane went further in criticism of the Bill and I was amazed to find that after 20 years. of operation by this Agricultural Credit Corporation Senator Sir John Keane came in to inform us that it is all quite unnecessary and that the banks have a far superior plan.

My answer is that the banks had 20 years to apply their superior plan and that they are free even now to come along with it. Competition is the spice of life and personally I would like this competition. Senator Sir John Keane went a little further and I was still more amazed when he told us that the Agricultural Credit Corporation had been responsible for wasting £350,000 of public money. This was only a slight exaggeration of 400 per cent. The actual sum is not £350,000, it is £97,138 1s. 10d. and of this sum, on a rough calculation, no less than £92,000 was paid to the banks under guarantee given in 1927. So if there was waste of public money the banks have no reason to complain about it.

Would the Parliamentary Secretary mind if I intervened for a moment because I will not be here on the Committee Stage? I am prepared to send him particulars of how my calculation of £350,000 was arrived at. Remember it takes into account dividends which had accrued on public capital.

I am fully aware of the methods of calculation used by the Senator. They are fairly obvious but I am giving the actual moneys paid, which is a different matter, to the exact penny, and the House can judge who is correct.

Oh, well, there you are.

At the time when the necessity arose for the introduction of the Act of 1927 the rate of interest being charged by the banks was 6 per cent. Why did not the banks come forward then when the scheme was being considered and the Government of that day to which we had a sort of side reference of praise referring to the then courageous Minister for Finance who handed over a nice little fat chicken in the shape of the Land Bank, for which the banks were duly grateful?

The inference was that if the present Minister for Finance could summon up sufficient courage to hand over the credit corporation the banks would say "thank you." But during the times of depression in 1922 and in 1929 and during the economic war period what had been the attitude of the banks in these cases at those times not merely to the agricultural community but even to the commercial people? A friend of mine down the country at the outbreak of war was trading on an overdraft having securities lodged to the extent of over £30,000. He was not a farmer, at least not a farmer alone, and when the value of his shares dropped below the high-water level that man's shares were sold. There was not much mercy for him. There would be very little mercy for the farmers, and yet it is suggested that we should hand over to the tender mercies of the banks the future welfare of a section of the farming community—a small section, a weak section. The bulk of the farmers in my opinion are independent and do not need this accommodation. I hope that we can educate them into borrowing wisely and taking advantage of the many schemes which the Government has introduced, that we can induce them to borrow through this corporation and then utilise whatever moneys are made available to them. Later on I hope this Government or its successor will make further moneys available to enable the farmers to take full advantage of these many schemes.

One of the reasons why the farmers at present are not inclined to borrow is that they have no use for money. The majority of the farmers have no use for money at the present time even if they are to buy fertilisers, as I have heard mentioned, and certainly I might say in passing that even if we had all the money and fertilisers that could possibly be availed of that is not going to restore us to prosperity. It can restore the chemical composition of the soil but what of its physical composition? It is one of the things in which our farmers could invest money and invest it with benefit to themselves, but fertilisers are not available on a sufficiently large scale—I grant that supplies are improving. You might think that the farmer could be expected to invest money in improvement of out-offices, in the erection of new or larger ones, in the provision of water supplies, in the improvement of yards and approaches to their houses, in drainage and in a good many other things, but for many reasons owing to scarcity of supplies farmers are reluctant to borrow for these purposes at the present time.

There is also, of course, farm machinery, and that is in scarce supply at the moment. There are not sufficient tractors. I know a good many people who are anxious to buy them but cannot get them. There is not a sufficient amount of tractor equipment, but a tractor itself is no use unless you have the necessary equipment to go ahead. A tractor and its equipment will mean a fairly large sum of money and it is not the small farmer but the fairly large farmer who is going to run himself into debt to get one. There is no farmer who is honestly intending to repay the loan who will invest, say, £1,000 without having carefully considered the pros and cons. These are some of the reasons why farmers are reluctant to borrow.

I could at this stage—but I am afraid I would be holding up things— refer to provisions being made for farmers under other Votes, but you will, each of you, be as familiar with them as I am. You can look them up for yourselves and see what facilities are being provided for farmers under other Votes and sub-headings.

I think the next speaker after Senator Sir John Keane was Senator Professor Johnston, of Trinity College. I should say that Senator Johnston's speech appealed to me very much. I thought it was a very sensible speech and very carefully thought out and very well delivered. I think he set us an example we all could follow. There is very little he said that I find fault with. I do disagree with him on one or two points, but he is not here now and I do not wish to enter into an argument with a man who is not present.

He will read it.

He will read it all right but I do not disagree with him very much, and having agreed with 95 per cent. of it I do not think it would be worth while criticising a few items with which I am not in agreement. The next speaker after him was Senator L. O'Dea, I think. It is the next note I have to come to. I understand Senator Ó Buachalla spoke before him but I do not think I have any criticism at all to offer on the remarks of Senator Ó Buachalla. I regret that Senator O'Dea is not present at the moment. I was somewhat surprised listening to his criticism inasmuch as when the Committee Stage was in the Dáil I had an application from the Incorporated Law Society to receive a deputation including the Senator and other prominent members of the legal profession. I agreed, and I did receive the deputation and satisfied the deputation and they expressed their satisfaction to me. Unfortunately Senator O'Dea was not able to be present. I am surprised that certain criticisms are being offered on the very points which were raised with me and on which I was able to satisfy representatives of the Incorporated Law Society. I do not propose to deal any further with the subject but if it is raised on the next stage we will be able to deal with it as time will not permit me doing so to-night. Suffice it to say, that he seems to be a bit concerned about, I think, Section 22.

He seemed to be under the impression that this was a hindrance to potential borrowers. The contrary is the case. Up to the present, the potential borrower had to be actually in possession of the chattel before the chattel mortgage could issue. It is now proposed, under Section 22, to provide the money in advance for the purchase, say, of a tractor. If a man wants to buy a tractor and has obtained the wherewithal from the Credit Corporation, he is in a far better position to make a purchase than the man who goes to the tractor dealer and says: "I think I shall be able to get the money from the Credit Corporation."

Senator O'Dea's mind can be easy on that score. The Senator was also perturbed about Section 26, which has reference to the realisation of chattel mortgages. There, again, I think his perturbation is unnecessary. It is not the intention to impose any undue hardship on any citizen or to deny any citizen his legal rights. This section is introduced for the sole purpose of saving expense to the unfortunate borrower who finds himself in financial difficulties. We have a somewhat parallel section operating under the Land Act of 1938. It has been found, in practice, that all the misgivings to which expression was given at the time of the passing of that Bill were groundless. The section is working smoothly and it has saved the poorer sections of the farming community a considerable amount of expense.

After Senator O'Dea, we had Senator Sweetman. His chief criticism was that the former subscribers to the share capital had not got a fair deal. No guarantee of continuity was given to the subscribers at the time in respect of this, a safe investment, guaranteed by the State. Incidentally, Senator Sweetman pointed out that the £1 shares, carrying five per cent. guaranteed interest, were at the time worth only 10/- and were now of considerable value. I was amazed at his making such a statement. His principal argument, however, was that the subscribers were not getting a square deal. There was no obligation whatever to continue indefinitely the arrangement with the shareholders. As I said in opening, our primary concern is with potential borrowers rather than with the shareholders, who are very well able to look after themselves. They have not done too badly out of the transaction. I think that I have covered to a reasonable extent the various points raised, without going into the by-ways.

Question put and agreed to.

I should like to have the next Stage taken on the first sitting day of next week.

When does the Parliamentary Secretary want the Bill concluded?

I should like to get it through before Easter, at all events.

We expect to have the Central Fund Bill next week. If we have, as we have another Bill ordered, we shall hardly be able to do much more.

This Bill would not, I think, take very long. There were only a few amendments in the Dáil and I met the points raised.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Owing to Monday being St. Patrick's Day, if the Committee Stage of this Bill is to be taken next week, amendments will have to be in the office by Friday, as there will be a holiday in the printing offices on Monday.

Committee Stage fixed provisionally for first sitting day of next week.