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Seanad Éireann debate -
Thursday, 14 Jul 1949

Vol. 36 No. 19

Land Reclamation Bill, 1949—Second Stage (Resumed).

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

I have only one small suggestion to put forward for the consideration of the Minister. I think it would be very desirable that plenty of newspaper and other publicity should be given to this project throughout the country, so that every farmer who wishes to avail of it will know what procedure he should adopt. The only complaint I have heard from farmers with regard to the scheme is that it is not being put into operation as quickly as they would wish, but I believe that the Minister desires to put it into operation as quickly as possible. I have heard nothing but praise from farmers of the land rehabilitation project and I know many farmers who would like to avail of it, but who do not yet know what procedure they should adopt.

I understand that at the moment the Department are inviting applications from only eight counties and that applicants from other counties should wait before sending in their applications. If that is so, I suggest it would be well to let the public know that, by means of advertisements in the newspapers. I believe also that it would be very desirable that farmers, in the counties in which the scheme is not yet being put into operation, should receive assurances that they will be notified in good time. My reason for suggesting this is that I have found that some farmers are under the impression that, unless they send in an application immediately, thousands of other farmers may be before them. I suggest that the Minister should give plenty of publicity to the scheme as soon as possible, so that all farmers will know what procedure they should adopt. I believe that there are thousands of farmers who are anxious to send in their applications and who are hoping that the scheme will reach their part of the country as soon as possible.

During the short time the Minister has occupied the post of Minister for Agriculture, production has increased to an enormous extent, and, in many cases, has doubled; but I feel that, when this Bill has been in operation for a couple of years, our agricultural output will not only be doubled but quadrupled. We have some of the finest land in the world, but no land is so good that it cannot be made better. All our land, good and bad, has suffered from neglect and want of care and improvement. For all that, we cannot blame the farmers. Anybody who understands the situation in regard to farming must agree that it is due to the land system which prevailed in this country. During the time of the landlords, if a farmer improved his holding, the rent was raised in a short time, so that there was no incentive to him to do anything to improve his land.

When he got fixity of tenure, the situation did not improve very much, because there was a provision in the British Act which gave the landlord and the tenant the right to apply to have the land revalued every 15 years, and if the farmer had improved his holding to any great extent, his rent was raised. If he started to let it go derelict, his rent was lowered. All that is now finished. If the Minister wants the wholehearted support of farmers in carrying out these schemes, the first thing to do is to give them security of tenure. The Minister will agree that, if a farmer spends a lot of money and does a lot of work on improving his land, he is entitled to the fruits of his labour. He has no security in respect of anything he does at present and no incentive to improve his land. There is no use in the Minister or anybody else saying that we have security.

I suggest that the Senator might depart from that line of argument.

If the farmers are to co-operate wholeheartedly in the carrying out of these schemes, they will have to have some incentive to do so and the only incentive they can get is security of tenure, which we have not got at present. It is extraordinary what can be done by the adoption of the latest improvements in the matter of land reclamation. During the war years the British, with bulldozers, tractors and ploughs, turned mountain land into arable land, very good for grazing and tillage purposes. All that type of work could be done in this country with the facilities provided by this Bill. I do not think there is very much to be said on the Bill, which is nearly as well drafted as if I had drafted it myself. All I can say to the Minister is: "Get on with the work, agus go neirí an bothar leat."

I do not propose to discuss the Bill generally because there have been so many speeches in connection with it. The Bill has been generally, and, I think, rightly, welcomed, but I should like to get a little enlightenment with regard to the finances of the Bill. The Minister informs us that grants to the extent of three-fifths of the estimated cost will be made to the farmers concerned.

Under what enactment are these grants being made? There is no reference to that in the Bill, so I presume it is under some regulation other than the Bill that the grant is being made. The circular which the Minister is issuing to the farmers is a step in the right direction. As Senator Burke, who evidently has not seen the leaflet, has pointed out, farmers would otherwise be mystified as to how they would proceed with a view to availing themselves of the provisions of the Bill. This circular takes nine acres of a farm as an example. If certain work which is specified has to be performed on that farm the farmer is ensured a free grant of £140 which, presumably, is three-fifths of the total estimated cost of the work. If, in addition, the farm requires both lime and phosphates the farmer will only get the same amount of free grant. Obviously, the cost will be higher if, in addition to labour, the farm has to be both limed and supplied with phosphates. Yet the grant in each case is the same. There may be a very good reason for that and I should like the Minister to tell us precisely the reason. If, for instance, £140 represents three-fifth of the estimated cost, then the total cost would be, roughly, £233.

The grant is 66?.

The grant in that case would be £140, which would leave £93 of a loan. I think the grant is three-fifths.

There are two schemes: (1) whereby you charge the land and the other whereby a farmer does the work and gets a grant for having done it.

I recognise that. However, it seems to me that the free grant will not be as good in one case as in the other. I thought three-fifths was the fraction mentioned but even on the two-thirds basis £140, representing two-thirds, would mean, that the cost would be £210, of which £140 would be a free grant — leaving £70 of a loan. How is the remainder of it to be paid?

The farmer does it with his own work.

Why the loan, then, in the second arrangement, where the farmer does the work himself? You give him a loan there of £108——

That is where we do it for him.

Does he not get a lesser grant in the second case than in the first case?

No. If it would be of assistance to the Senator I will try to clarify that now, or would he prefer me to wait?

I should prefer that the Minister would explain it. It seems to me that there is a little inequality in the matter or that there is not consistency. There are two different propositions involved — the first involves labour only and the second involves labour plus materials.

If I were a farmer I am afraid that that would be my interpretation. If the matter can be differently explained I should like to hear that explanation. I am not saying that the terms are not very generous to the farmer. I think that the whole trend of the legislation is revolutionary and progressive and that, if properly availed of, it should bring about a revolution in agricultural development in this country. My point is that, as I was a bit puzzled in regard to this matter, it is quite possible that others might be puzzled, too, and perhaps the Minister will explain it when he is replying.

I should like to congratulate the Minister on the introduction of this Bill. For years the question of increased production has been the theme of numerous speeches in the Dáil and, I think, in this House and in the country generally. Invariably the speakers have ended up with the specious phrase that "something must be done". I had heard that pious exclamation so many times that I felt almost hopeless that anything would ever be done. Thanks be to God that we have a Minister at last who has had the courage to face what I would call the momentous task of reclaiming and rehabilitating the farms of this country so that we will have increased production.

The Minister has provided in this Bill for practically all that we in County Limerick could expect or hope for in the way of land improvements. However, I am rather sorry that the Minister, having gone so far, has not seen fit to include all the farms of the country in this question of improvement from the point of view of production — I cannot refer to it as "reclamation". There are two types of farms whose production could be greatly improved if they were included in this measure. Everybody knows the farm that is run down. Such a farm is to be found in every county — even in my own rich county of Limerick. In some other counties run-down farms are numerous because they need almost excessive fertilisation. Many of these farms have become impoverished and many of them are producing grass of a type that is not useful in so far as the production of milk, beef or store cattle is concerned. Such land will have to be ploughed up, seeded and fertilised in order to be brought back into a fair condition so as to yield the average production. The cost of such an operation would be pretty near as much as it would cost to drain an average field. If a farmer wanted to plough the land in a scientific manner, to seed it, to fertilise it, and so forth, I would say that it would be beyond his power, as a small farmer, to do so from the point of view of finance. Somebody may ask me if I am suggesting that the Minister should supply fertilisers to every farmer in this country. I am not making that suggestion. Obviously, it would be ridiculous that either I or anybody else should say that the Minister should fertilise my land for me. However, everybody knows that there are farmers in this country whose financial position is in such a state at the moment that it is beyond their reach to put their lands in a proper form of production. In those cases, the Minister should make provision in this Bill so that these farmers may be put on the proper road to production.

There is another type, which may be outside the scope of the Bill.

If it is outside the scope of the Bill, the Senator had better not touch it.

I have not mentioned it yet, so you must have considerable foresight to know what I am going to say. There is a type of farm where the farmer cannot get proper production because he has no water. We are providing for farmers who are flooded out with water, but in other counties there is a shortage of it. I passed, within the last five days, over a bridge and stopped my car and wondered at what I saw. There was a small stream with only five or six inches of water and a hole had been dug so that a bucket could be dropped from the bridge into the hole; and there was a half-mile long line of farmers with their carts, awaiting their turn. You cannot have more production in cases like that. The trouble is accentuated by the abnormally dry season we have had up to now, but the shortage of water is there every year in some places. Year after year, these farmers are taxed to provide water for every other individual. If there is a village of 25 people, they have to pay for water and sewerage. If there are six — even three — labourers' cottages anywhere in a group, some county council will come forward and there will be a pump sunk for them within a month. But if a group of farmers have no water, they can whistle for it. I had hoped the Minister would have included those people in the efforts he is making towards increased production. It is nothing to smile at.

Not a bit, but who controls the county councils?

The Minister says that is a job for the county councils. It is not. I might as well say that the drainage of my farm is a job for the county council. That is primarily a job for myself, if I am able to do it. Unfortunately, the majority of us let our land run for years and years, until the country is in a state of rushes, and everyone is expressing the pious hope for years that something may be done, if the rushes are not to eat us up. No one suggested, until the Minister came along, how or when that something might be done. The Minister deserves the congratulations of everyone for his courage in undertaking such a job. I still suggest, however, that he ought to include the two remaining classes — and they would be fairly numerous. It is no solace to the man in Clare who has no water, to know that a fellow's land in the Golden Vale is going to be drained. He wants help for himself, and I would like to see him get it.

Regarding the general terms of the Bill, I think we are all agreed that it is a good Bill and we hope it will be availed of to the full by the farmers. There are one or two things the Minister will probably explain when replying — the question raised by Senator O'Farrell about the grant is one of them. I must say I was a bit confused also by the explanation in the little pamphlet. I still think there is a differentiation in the possible grant, as between the man who gets a cash grant and does it himself, and the man who lets the Minister do it for him at a charge. I think that, when analysed, it will be found that the amount of free money he gets in one case will be more than the other. I am not quarreling with that, as I am sure the Minister would rather that every farmer should undertake the job himself. But if the Minister has to undertake it, he knows what it will cost. When a Government or a county council undertakes a job, it will cost a little more than it would through the private individual. When we come to rock bottom and analyse the figures, we may find that that is the reason for this provision. I again congratulate the Minister with all the strength I have, on the courage and foresight he has shown in introducing this measure. I hope that every farmer, large and small, will be able to avail of its terms when it becomes law.

In opening this debate, the Minister put the main basis of this scheme as being an investment by the community in what he described as the best possible security, the land of Ireland, and only few people could disagree with him. I want to say at the outset that this is an investment, not in the land of Ireland as a whole, but in a certain type of land. Taking the type of land as it is, the investment is in a type which is not the most highly productive and not even potentially the most highly productive. For that reason, there is some little difficulty about the value of the investment. I would like to know what dividend is expected from this investment, when it is expected that it will be paid, and what is the percentage expected. Clearly, whatever may be said in this House or in the House below, either by the Minister or other speakers on the Bill, this is a Drainage Bill. The main headings speak of field drainage, land reclamation, the construction and improvement of watercourses, the removal of unnecessary fences, the construction of new fences and the improvement of existing ones, the improvement of hill grazing, the reclamation of estuarine marsh land and of callows, and any operations ancillary to the foregoing. I think it will be agreed that the main work envisaged under the Bill is drainage.

I want to put the case of the man whose land does not require drainage — infertile land, possibly temporarily infertile, or land that has run out. I think we may accept it definitely that that type of land is excluded from this Bill. I want to deplore that, for the reason that this is an investment and that the community, if they invested in some of the land I speak of, would get a larger return and, what is even more important, a quicker return. This land I speak of may be, and frequently is, in parts of the country I know very well, infertile because it was over-worked—possibly by over enthusiastic farmers, worked by farmers who have overcropped it, perhaps with cereal crops which were not suitable to it. That type of land and is not included in this Bill. It is as much in need of some species of reclamation as that of the man who has neglected the fences, who has allowed hedgerow trees to overgrow his fields, or who has allowed the drains to clog up and who has been generally neglectful.

In one case production of the land has been decreased owing to the work of a farmer and in the other by the neglect of the farmer. I would like to take the matter up with the Minister when he suggests that to do a man's ploughing and re-seeding for him is to provide him with his profit which the Minister does not intend to do. To clear the lands of fences, roll stones off the fields and to trim hedges is providing him with profit. I find the greatest difficulty in making a distinction between the two transactons. I will come back to this matter later but at this stage I appeal to the Minister to extend the type of land with which he proposes to deal. The type of land I envisage is not being dealt with. In the view of some of the greatest experts we have in this country or that we have brought into it, that land is best treated by being ploughed and re-seeded. That in my view is an difficult, as technical and as important a type of work as having fields drained and it is much more likely to yield a high production.

The Minister might well say that the farmer is quite capable of doing that work himself or that it is a job of work which he should do himself and not the type envisaged in this Bill. The only thing that I can say to that is that a man whom we brought into this country to go into the question of grassland and pasture land, Mr. Holmes from New Zealand, has said that the ploughing and re-seeding of land is not work which the farmer could do himself. He said it was work that would take heavy machines which are difficult for the farmer to work and he does not have the necessary heavy implements to do that work. It is exactly the same difficulty as arises in regard to drainage. There are contractors who will be able to do this work of drainage by the use of tractors and heavy machines and according to Mr. Holmes the ploughing and re-seeding is not a job which a farmer could do for himself and therefore in my view it is one which should come under this Bill.

If a farmer cannot plough and re-seed his own land I do not know what he can do.

In this matter of re-seeding certain tests were carried out in 1945-46.

Is the Senator going away from reclamation altogether?

I am now dealing with the question of whether these are proper types of work to come under this Bill and urging that, in my view, they are. I believe them to be works that would be useful and necessary to the whole scheme. At page 50 of the Holmes report he referred to the necessity for an extensive programme of ploughing and re-seeding. He then refers to the tests and trials that were carried out and he says:—

"During the war years, 1943-45, numerous experimental re-seeding trials were laid down throughout the country. With the exception of one in County Mayo and several at the Department of Agriculture farms, these have proved, after one or two years to be less productive than the original turf where it received the same amount of fertiliser as the reseeded plot. The main reasons for the failure of these attempts at direct re-seeding may be one, or more than one, of the following: (1) bad choice of land, (2) bad cultivation, (3) lack of lime and fertiliser, (4) the use of short-lasting temporary strains and (5) poor management."

It is at page 51 that he says that farmers are not able to do the job themselves owing to the fact of not having the necessary heavy equipment and machinery required to do the job of re-seeding.

In the view of Mr. Holmes the work requires the use of heavy commercial two-ton rollers, disc harrows and other machinery. If the Minister will agree with me that ploughing and re-seeding is a necessary job for reclamation of farms which requires these things, then I urge on him that this work in connection with reclamation ought to be included under this Bill. Therefore, if ploughing and re-seeding were included in this Bill it would open a whole field of work to be handed out to contractors who can own and buy this heavy and expensive machinery.

When the land has been drained it is only one step forward in production from the land. Again Senators will see that I have been reading extensively, and, for myself, with great interest, the Holmes report. In page 12 he says in regard to land that was drained many years ago that he found it was in exactly the same state of flood land vegetation, dominantly sedge, as it was when it was drained.

I do not know that it will be completely relevant to the Bill but I urge on the Minister to give us some idea of what plans he has of ridding the farms of this sedge after the land has been drained because we are considering this matter from the point of view of an investment and if the farmer in whom the community is investing money leaves his drained land in sedge and flood vegetation the investment is not going to be a benefit.

And we will all go up the spout if the Irish farmers are going to do that.

We have proved from time to time, unfortunately, and I say it with regret, that some of the farmers have done this. Mr. Holmes has referred to that position on page 12. I do not say that in any bitter sense. I only see drainage itself as a long term policy and only one step in the policy of production. The need to-day is for increased production quickly. The reason I give for that is that we want to catch the export market while the prices hold. By providing for re-seeding and ploughing it would be an incentive to the farmers to further efforts in production.

Having said all that, I want to make it clear that there is nothing in the Bill — I was going to use the somewhat grandiose phrase "that offends me"— that I can see to disagree with. The only thing I even partially disagree with is that there is not enough in it and it does not extend over a wide enough field. I do see a way for the Minister, if he was inclined, to accept my argument and even under the Bill to enable much of the work in the way of ploughing and re-seeding which I suggested to be done, because Section B setting out the type of work to be done refers to land reclamation and Section H says any operation ancillary to the foregoing. I maintain that land reclamation may and should mean ploughing and re-seeding with heavy machinery and high technical knowledge and, if land reclamation means that, any further operations required to do that or ancillary to it. Take the case of an imaginary farmer with 100 acres. His old aunt dies and leaves him £800 with the strict proviso in the will that it must be spent on the farm within two years. He has 70 acres which are dry, overcropped and infertile and 30 acres which are continuously flooded, in sedge and rushes. If he is a farmer who is merely interested in money and profits, in no way socially-minded or interested in whom he employs, he takes that £800 and spends £10 or £12 an acre on the 70 acres. He increases his grass and crop production, as Senator Baxter said, by four, and carries four beasts for every three and out of the profit he drains the 30 acres. That is because he is an individual. It is fortunate that we have a Minister with money, courage and determination to go down into the 30 acres to do the work which I say no individual farmer could have the money, courage or determination to do. I want to speak, therefore, for the man who has the 70 acres and is not included in the Bill.

To summarise therefore, in my view this is not a plan for the entire land of Ireland or for increased production from the entire land of Ireland. It is for certain land, over-grown or badly fenced land or hill land. Let it be noted with regard to hill land that again the Minister has subscribed partially to my view that if hill land is to be reclaimed it must be done by heavy harrowing and re-seeding with suitable types of grass seed to grow on hill pasture. If on the hill my principle can be accepted, may I not press upon the Minister to come down from the hills and extend the principle into the plains? In fact having said all that, in one phrase will the Minister not see the value of extending this magnificent project a little further?

I feel compelled to rise to support this measure because I believe it is a very good Bill. The fact that drainage has been neglected for a number of years was largely responsible for making a crowd of farmers organise to bring to bear on the Government of the day the necessity for such a step. This is a matter for congratulation and a big principle is involved. All the money spent will be of great value to the small and middle-sized farmers. In the West, in Donegal and other counties, there is a great deal of land to be reclaimed.

The small farmers look upon every acre of land that is reclaimed as being of great value to them. They have availed of other schemes in a smaller way and every reclaimed acre has been of very great value. These are the type of farmers for whom provision must be made by the Government by way of unemployment assistance and when this scheme gets going there will be no necessity for it and the Exchequer will be very much relieved from that point of view. The middle-class farmer, who used to be well able to live a good independent life, had a tough time for the past ten or 15 years owing to matters not necessary to go into now, the economic war and other wars. He found it very hard even to bring up his family, and because of his valuation he was generally precluded from getting unemployment assistance. He got nothing soft from the Government and was of a proud nature, never anxious to depend on anybody for help, but things went against him. The land of that type of farmer has been very largely neglected, not exactly through his own fault but for the reasons I have mentioned, and I think that this scheme will mean a very great improvement to him. We cannot put back the hands of the clock and, like it or not, we must realise that more modern methods must be adopted. In every age we find people who are reluctant to adopt such methods at the start. In my own time a number of farmers objected to the mowing machine, holding that it was not able to do as good a job as the scythe. You had the reaping-hook before that and nobody would dream of cutting oats except with it. Eventually, however, they had to give way to modern methods. With the labour scarcity and the decent wages which are now paid to labour, if the old-fashioned methods were employed it would be impossible to run a farm on a business scale. I am glad to say that the Minister has shown the House that this is regarded as a business proposition. He intends to run it on those lines and employ modern methods. I daresay it is too soon at the present time to foresee how it will turn out, but I am quite satisfied that if it bears even one-tenth of the fruit the Minister and those in a position to judge tell us it will, it will be worth the money invested in it.

While I say that, there are just a few points I would like the Minister to make clear in his reply. The value of land which is to be drained would be greatly enhanced if it were in a neighbourhood where arterial drainage is to be carried out. I have an area in mind where it will be some time, I am afraid, before arterial drainage is carried out, and if it were carried out it would improve a very large area even without this Bill and thousands of acres in a radius of ten miles would be improved. I take it that the example given here of a £140 grant includes draining six acres, clearing three acres of scrub and the liming and manuring of two acres. There may be instances in which there will be no such work as clearing scrub, work which will involve only draining. I should like the Minister to give some idea of what the grants will be. I take it that two-thirds or 60 per cent. of the labour cost will be given to the farmer in these cases.

I was struck by the point raised by Senator Sweetman with regard to very rough type of land, having light furze on it, with hillocks and so on, and I think there is something to be said for Senator Sweetman's argument about very heavy machinery being put in on it. If that land could be ripped up and harrowed, I believe it would mean a very great improvement. I should like to know also whether the reclamation of bog land, cutaway bog, for instance, comes under the scheme. My reason for asking is that there is nothing provided for putting on reclaimed land under this scheme but artificial manure and lime. Under the old-fashioned scheme of reclaiming land as I see it, clay and gravel were first carted out on to it and then farmyard manure spread on it. I know cases where enough farmyard manure was put on the heather and good meadows grew without any cultivation. There are people, as he will be aware, in the West who are interested in this matter, and, if he cleared up that point with regard to cutaway bog, it would make the position more definite for them.

I personally give the Bill my whole-hearted support and I can say, speaking for the farming community as I know them, they are whole-heartedly behind the Minister. Nobody can find fault with anything in the Bill, but we will be much better judges in 12 or 18 months' time of how things are going and it will be soon enough then to see if it is necessary to make improvements in the scheme. I hope the Minister's efforts in this respect will be as successful as his efforts with regard to the poultry development scheme and the increase in the pig population. These successes augur well for the success of this scheme and I have the utmost confidence that the Minister will leave nothing undone to make it the success which everybody, irrespective of Party, wishes to see it.

I have been more than gratified by the unanimity with which this measure has been received. Its greatest contribution, in my opinion, will be the restoration of confidence to the farming community. Confidence is the parent of investment and chronic under-investment has, in some respects, been the major ill which has beset agriculture in this country for at least a century. Political ills and many other causes broke down that confidence and many farmers, if they made a few pounds, were inclined to put the money into the bank and say: "We will not get a chance of making another few pounds until there is another great war." This encouragement and confidence which the Government are showing in regard to agriculture will undoubtedly be appreciated by the farming community.

I congratulate the Minister on the fact that, in investing £2 of the people's money, he will get the farmer to invest £1 of his own. If it is not £1 in money, it will be £1 in labour, and in that way he will help the farmer to help himself. The good example set by the results of this great experiment will be followed by others in the farming community, and for that reason I give my whole-hearted support to the measure. I believe that farmers living on the better class of land, as envisaged by Senator Sweetman, will be able to do many of these things for themselves, when they see that the land of Ireland and its proper utilisation will give, between wars as well as during wars, a safe return for the money and work invested in its proper utilisation.

In introducing this Bill, which, in my opinion, is an excellent Bill, it is a pity that the Minister did not go one step further. The obvious object of the Bill is to increase production and as Senator Sweetman has said, to increase it at the earliest possible date. Increased production is impossible on a vast area of land in this country at the present time. The only way in which increased production at an early date can be accomplished is by the application of artificial fertilisers. It would be a great relief and a great encouragement to many farmers if they knew there was included in this scheme assistance to purchase artificial manures at a reasonable figure. Many of them are heart-broken at the present time because they cannot do so. For the past ten years, approximately, they have been mining their land. Economic conditions and war conditions prevented them from purchasing the necessary artificial fertilisers which they would have purchased had that been possible. To my mind it is not a sound economy to spend money on the land that is least productive and omit attention to the land that is most productive. It reminds me of the story of the foolish farmers who had two calves — one a bad calf and the other a good calf. He devoted all his attention to trying to bring the bad calf up to the standard of the good calf by giving it an extra supply of milk. But he would have made an excellent calf of the good calf if he had given it as much or half as much milk as he gave the bad calf. In the same way, if you are going to spend all the money on the land that is least productive you are not doing a wise thing. In my county there is hardly an acre of land that does not require either burnt lime or ground limestone at the present time and there is hardly an acre that does not require artificial fertilisers. If some provision could be included in this Bill to assist the farmers to procure those materials to apply to the land I think something very useful would be done.

I am not attempting in any way to suggest that what is in the Bill is not going to be of great advantage to the farmers in my county. It will. The drainage and reclamation and the other suggestions in the Bill are definitely going to be an advantage but I think that what I suggest would be of greater advantage still. I had intended putting forward some amendments in that connection for the Committee Stage but I understand that they would not be allowed.

I understand that they would be ruled out of order.

The Committee Stage had not come along yet.

I understand that such amendments would be ruled out of order. I would suggest on this Stage to the Minister that the point is worth considering that while he should and is entitled to and well advised to reclaim barren acres and the marshes and all those other acres of waste land in the country which he approximates at about 4,000,000 acres, he would be acting wisely in giving attention to the better class land which, owing to farming operations over the past number of years, are not even at half production level at the present time. I should like the Minister to clarify the matter of repayment. In the case of those who avail of this scheme by annual or half-yearly repayments, will those repayments terminate with the land annuities or will they terminate when the advanced amount has been repaid?

The latter.

So that the date of termination will not coincide with the land annuity?

Not necessarily.

If they be consolidated with the land annuity will the terminable date then be decided?

Will the amount be increased?

The amount of what?

Will the amount of annuity redemption be increased or decreased if it is consolidated with the land annuity?

If you add one shilling to four shillings you cannot make it less than four shillings.

That is not my point. If the half-yearly repayment is consolidated with the land annuities, what will be the position in regard, say, to the sum of £2 3s. 4d.? Will that amount be increased or will it be the same or will it be less?

£2 3s. 4d. will be payable in respect of the reclamation annuity until the amount due is redeemed. It will never be increased and it will never be reduced until the annuity terminates.

But if it is consolidated with my land annuity——

At the Senator's request?

Then the procedure is that when the land annuity ceases to be due the payment continues and that reduces the term of the redemption annuity proportionately.

I was very interested in a remark which Senator O'Brien made during his speech last night. He mentioned that the land annuities might terminate in 60 years' time. I must say that it is the first I ever heard of the land annuities terminating. I should be delighted to dream that in another 60 years we shall have back to work and to life all the people who are housed in the Land Commission. It will be the happiest day of my life — in 60 years' time.


You will be a young man then.

I hope the Minister will examine that point very thoroughly so that there will be no slip. We often said things since 1932 that we did not mean and that did not operate. There was always an excuse for everything except for the taxes, tariffs, rents and rates which the farmers have to pay. They always have to foot the bill. They have got to. I have a big interest in the reclaiming of this wet land inasmuch as I have attempted to do it myself. It is not as easily done as this season would permit. When you do it and make your fields perfectly sound, to all intents and purposes, to support stock or bring forth the crop, you have to vision the effect that a week's rain will have on it.

To my mind, in the case of all this land that is affected so vitally by sudden rainfall, emergency measures should be placed at the disposal of every home in those localities. Unless the owner of such land strips it after 24 or 48 hours of rain, especially in the four darkest months of the year, all the reclamation work will vanish. Any weighty animal from 3 cwt. up will sink in this land after three or four days of rain, and after three or four weeks he cannot lie down on it or will be unhealthy if he does. If he sinks into it, his footsteps will leave holes, which will fill with water and these marks will freeze in frost; and when you come along after three months you will find a most glorious crop of moss, which will worm and wither its way through the entire land, and the land will be back to what the people tell you locally is its own produce — back to where it started.

If I were the Minister, I would not be diverted to the marginal land, by talk of what they do in England and Wales. Anyone who has marginal land has at least had the opportunity of standing on it for the last 10 or 15 years. Thousands of acres which are not marginal, which are low-lying, have not had the opportunity in these wet seasons of permitting stock to be on it, nor have the owners had the opportunity of taking the war-time profits that the emergency brought.

The Minister should think of going further. Every haggard and yard should be made healthy and level, by a good concrete foundation being laid, such as was laid under the provisions of this last small scheme which was operating. In addition, there should be some very considerable foundation laid, so that the property will permit the stock to be moved in without any ill-effects to them or to the ground on which they rest. That is essential. You sometimes go round with a threshing mill and when you seek to level it in the yard you make a hole. The following year when you come round, you see that that hole is filled with water and you see the dying chickens — I see Deputy Corry was referring to wingless chickens — and in this case the place is so bad that if the children of the household eat them they will begin to die themselves. The Minister should see that these yards are concreted to the last and made as perfect as where we are sitting now, comparatively speaking.

We are not discussing chickens or concrete floors, but land reclamation.

Do you suggest, Sir, that the rehabilitation of the farmer's haggard does not come within the scope of this?

Provision is made in the farm buildings scheme for that, but it is not comprised in the Bill at present before the Seanad.

Is the Minister absorbing the other scheme?

I can assure the Senator that he and I are in entire agreement on the haggard problem. Provision is made for it under the farm buildings scheme.

Yes, but the donkey is going too slow for the last five years. On the question of repayment, there is a certain uneasiness. This must be taken with a very open mind. I want to see the project go through and an excellent job made of it. There will have to be give and take as to how far it will go and what the repayment will be. I have seen very serious efforts at reclamation fail. So much drainage must be done that the Minister may meet with disappointment here and there.

I was not here when he spoke yesterday, but I notice that, according to the Irish Times, he said that the second substantial effect was contained in Section 5, giving the Minister power to enter on a common watercourse, where necessary, to render effective the drainage work that had been carried out on a farm. He talked of the necessity for this power arising from the existence of cantankerous individuals. They can be politically cantankerous and socially cantankerous, but as long as the Minister has thorough powers and goes ahead with them I feel that this scheme will go on well.

Some counties call for more attention than others. I notice that my own is one of those to be dealt with, and I myself am taking as much advantage as I can of this. I would like to see the inspectors reside for a little while in the hills around Collon. Much good can be done in that area, especially in live stock rather than in tillage, as in the period from March to September tillage would be liable to be ruined, and it is hard to ask anyone there to till. I wonder if the Minister has thrown his eye on the background of the Cooley hills. It will be interesting to watch the development over hundreds, perhaps thousands, of acres where they might be doing some little thing at present, and I hope it will not escape his attention. Such being the case, I wish the Bill every success.

No heresy is more deadly than the one that has a substratum of specious appeal. If I believed that this Bill were a Bill to make paupers of every farmer in Ireland, I would be ashamed to have my name associated with it. I do not believe the farmers of this country want their neighbours to go in upon their holdings, plough them, till them, seed them, fertilise them, and then stand back while the farmer collects the boodle, having sat upon his sash while all the work was being done. I think it is a terrible disservice to the agricultural community if the suggestion is made that a rehabilitation scheme of the kind outlined by me to the Seanad is imperfect for the reason that it does not provide for a handout to everyone who wants it. I know that Senator Sweetman will discharge me from any desire to affront such an old friend as he is but I must speak frankly on this matter. The Senator envisaged an individual with 70 acres, of, for want of a better term, what he described as infertile land, and he made the case that where that land carried one beast it could, by appropriate treatment, carry three beasts, say, next year. But he seemed to me to go on to say that the farmer was entitled to demand that the community should pay him for the privilege of having his land made capable of carrying three beasts where it used to carry one. What is the business of farming? Is not the business of farming that a man owns land and in consideration of society's recognition of his unqualified right to own it that he will use it for a purpose God meant it to be used — to produce, to provide for himself and his family and to give employment to those of his neighbours who may reasonably expect employment on it?

If there are in this country a large number of farmers owning 70 acres of land and upwards and owning nothing else except the clothes they stand up in and provision has to be made for them, let us face the fact that the farmers are entitled to no superior consideration from the community than any other member of the community. If a man has three shops and no stock in any of them should he not go and sell one of the shops and use the proceeds of the sale to stock the other two? If he just sits down and bewails his position and does nothing about it should the State rush in and stock the shops with boots, clothes, porter or whiskey or should not a reasonable neighbour say to the man, sell one of the shops and stock the other two? Suppose the shopkeeper continued to say that there was no market for the shops then the answer is go to the bank manager and give him a mortgage on the three shops and he will advance you the money to stock them.

I can see Senators straining in their chairs to say that the banks would not lend money on the land. I glory in the fact that land is not good collateral security in Ireland because in Ireland anyone who sought to evict a farmer from his home for the redemption of a debt would be chased out of the parish where he went to carry out the eviction. God grant that it may always be so, but there are always co-operative societies in this country, and there is no co-operative society in this country which cannot have all the financial facilities it wants for the provision of all the fertilisers they care to supply. Why do they not use it?

And provide equipment?

I do not agree.

Why cannot they use it to provide equipment to do these other jobs such as re-seeding?

The capital equipment required for fertilisers is one jute bag, worth sixpence. The capital necessary for the work of rehabilitation may cost £50,000. If a co-operative society is catering for one quarter of a county and having in that quarter of a county 10 per cent. of farmers requiring rehabilitation of their land is it in accord with common sense that you should ask them to make a capital investment of £50,000 in order to rehabilitate approximately ten or 11 farms? When that work is done is the £50,000 worth of equipment to be left on the scrap heap to rot? As I said, the capital equipment required for fertilisers is one jute bag. Is it to be argued in the Seanad that the business of ploughing a farmer's land is the duty of the community? If that is true the Seanad would be mad to pass this Bill.

Read Holmes.

The Senator will forgive me if I reply "Holmes be blowed". He is a distinguished and honoured scientist whose report has been of inestimable value to this country and to me, but the Senator and I have forgotten more about conditions in Ireland than Mr. Holmes ever knew. Whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Secretary of State or Chiang Kai Shek told me that in Ireland it was the function of the community to plough my neighbour's land the most polite retort I could make to him was that he was unfamiliar with rural conditions in the Republic of Ireland.

I want to warn the Seanad of this, that if a few people expect that the harrowing of the land or the rolling of a Cambridge roller over it is something that hereafter the community must do they should not put one penny piece of our people's money into the lands of Ireland or the lazy-ne'er-do wells who live on it. I do not believe that the farmers of Ireland expect that and if I did believe it I would be ashamed to say that I was Irish. If I believe that, I will believe that my father's whole life had been wasted in a most frivolous and idiotic effort. If I believe that, then Balfour was right and Cromwell was right. If that is right and that is the kind of people we are the sooner we clear the land of this country the better. But, it is not true; it never has been true and it never will be true. I think that Senators will forgive me if I feel deeply about these matters, because I do. I think that what Senator Sweetman means when he deplores the lack of gifts or grants is credit. It has been a perplexing problem for many a good farmer who has become heir to a good farm of land which has been suffering from a deterioration in fertility how to get started. It is certainly true that the provision of readily accessible credit has never been properly faced, I dare say, until now. But it was not for want of credit, but for want of some effective device that would separate the wheat from the chaff. The plain inescapable fact is that in Ireland the farmer who could do himself good by borrowing will not borrow. That is the one farmer we cannot persuade to borrow. That type of farmer has a perfect horror of getting into debt. Unlike the business man, who is never easy when out of debt, who knows that expanding business always calls for more capital, and who borrows whereever he can, the farmer has a long tradition behind him of apprehension of debt.

It is equally true to say that there is a select company in rural Ireland who would borrow anything they could, your hat, your umbrella or anything else they could get their hands on, firmly resolved that never with God's help would they be asked to pay it back. Show me the way whereby you can by any reasonable means segregate the farmers from the umbrella man and there is an end to the credit problem.

That is why I say that the co-operative societies will help. They need not hesitate. No question of credit need harrass them. They will choose their debtors, give them fertilisers or anything else they want for the proper husbandry of their holdings, and collect the money by instalments out of milk or any transactions that eventually take place. Then, if a man wants his land examined it is for the county agricultural instructor to have the soil of the farm tested. If the maximum return is to be got, and if the land wants phosphate, potash, lime or nitrogen, the farmer can go to the co-operative society and buy on credit all that he wants to put on the land. If that is too heavy a burden for the co-operative society to carry until the farmer begins to pay out of the growing crops, the Agricultural Credit Corporation is not only willing but eager to provide the money.

I gladly avail of this opportunity to say here now, that if there is a single co-operative society in Ireland which knows of the slightest embarassment of a customer who wants credit, and if approach to the Agricultural Credit Corporation is not found encouraging, let them come to me and I think we will be able to find a form in which to put the application which will enable the Agricultural Credit Corporation to do what I know they are not only willing but eager to do, to make available credit to those who ask for it.

Senator Finan referred to an actual scarcity of fertilisers. They were not there and sometimes they were at a price farmers could not pay. That is not going to be so any more, even in Senator Finan's county, as a lime-grinding plant is to be built at Boyle. The cost will be 16/- per ton at the quarry, 25/- to 30/- spread on the land. That is good value. You will not buy it cheaper anywhere in Europe and there is not a penny of public money paid by way of subsidy. It would have been very popular if I provided a subsidy from the Exchequer for ground lime. The result would have been that the ground lime would cost £1 per ton, and the money I provided out of the Exchequer would be used to bring the price down to 16/- per ton. I think the plan here is a much better one.

I cannot control the price of phosphate rock. Somebody else in this country entertained the illusion that they could. I am happy to inform the Seanad that that illusion has been shattered. Phosphate rock will be made available at any port in Ireland at the lowest price at which it is made available the whole world over from this day on. I should like to see it ground in Ireland. I have been trying to get people to grind it for some time and I am beginning to get impatient. I am going to try a while longer, but if I cannot get anyone else to grind it I will grind it myself and it will be brought to the farmers at the lowest penny it can be bought and ground at. If anybody is shocked by that appalling assault on private enterprise it is going to be the first of many if private enterprise falls down on the job. It is no crime for the people of this country to provide themselves with what they have got to have if the land of Ireland is to be used to the best advantage. If enterprising individuals in our community will provide it at the lowest price no one will be better pleased than I, but if enterprising individuals imagine that by holding out on the community they will force the community to pay, they never made a greater mistake in their lives. We will bring in superphosphate in addition to all that can be produced in the domestic factories. We will have unlimited supplies of potash although it is not so long since we were told that we would only get what was good for us. They have changed their mind about that and they have now asked us what quantity we would like to get with the assurance that it will be available. We will get, I think, all the nitrogen we want, as much as we can persuade our people to buy. I think that is a good situation. There is no farmer in Ireland this year who need be short of artificial fertilisers of any kind and it is up to the farmers themselves to determine the quantity of dung they will use. I know that the farmers of Ireland appreciate the urgent importance of that type of manure and will take appropriate measures to provide it for themselves.

I interpret the Seanad's wish, as they engaged in a protracted and interesting debate such as we have listened to, as being that I should deal with matters raised by Senators. That is what I am going to do and if Senators all speak they bring down upon their own heads a protracted reply.

Senator Meighan, being a practical farmer, has a practical approach. He says quite plainly: "I am glad to see the water going off my land but I would like to be reassured as to where it is going to go". When he spoke circumspectly of a certain problem he struck a familiar note upon a chord that binds us together as lifelong neighbours, the rock, Tinnecarra rock. Senator Meighan and I have sung many a duet together about Tinnecarra rock.

I am in this dilemma: Ministers are supposed to be extremely circumspect and to state precisely what is certain and never dare to envisage that which may be longer postponed than is to be hoped. I wish to warn the Seanad that I am neither discreet, orthodox nor circumspect in that matter. I am going to tell the Seanad what I am hoping for. Maybe it will come off and maybe it will not, but if it does not it will not be for want of trying. I am hoping to get the arterial rivers of Ireland done now. I am not in the least interested in a programme of arterial drainage to be completed in 2050. I will be dead and buried, please God, in 2050 and posterity can deal with the problems of 2050 as they may think fit. I want to get the water off the kitchen floor now and in getting it off my kitchen floor I do not want to pour it all over Senator Meighan's. The only place we can put it in order to make sure, even if Senator Meighan and myself keep our floors dry, that it will not flow in on some other person's is to put it into a river bed that leads somewhere to the sea. We are doing at present a comprehensive arterial operation on the catchment area of the Brosna River. We are about to start the Glyde and Dee. Now I am bound to say in justice that from the point of view of arterial drainage engineers the right, prudent and safe procedure is to make a hydro-graphic survey of the catchment area to begin with, to survey the arterial river and every tributary of that river in the catchment area. That means 2050 A.D. and I just cannot wait, that is all. I propose, if I get the chance, to go up the main river and root the bottom out of it and we will get rid of whatever is coming down the tributaries now. In any case, posterity can spend its time on the tributaries. Any we can get the chance to do we will do if we can, but we will at least make rivers leading somewhere to the sea into which the water will find its way released by these operations, albeit more slowly than if all the tributaries were done in the catchment in the orthodox way. But we will have the comforting knowledge if we can get the arterial rivers done that there is room for the water to get away. Frankly, this is flamboyant, I suppose. If you press me too hard asking me how I am going to get it done I might not be able to tell you, but that does not qualify my certainty that I am going to get it done.

Senator Sweetman says that a rapid increase in production is the supreme need so as to catch the export market while prices are high. Oh, no. Such a basis for an agricultural policy, in my humble judgment, would be utter madness. Were we to construct an agricultural policy designed to catch the export market while prices were high, what would happen to us when prices were high no longer? Would we all go bankrupt? We might. No; the man who plans an agricultural policy on the profit that may be snatched in an exotic market is building up an awful lot of trouble for his children, if not for his own old age. My aim for agriculture would be to build up markets which we would make utterly dependent upon us, to bind them to us now by the moderation of our demand and the exhaustiveness of our performance, so that as rivals present themselves we will have created a pattern of trade to make a breach in which will be almost an impossibility for those who try to cut us out.

I want to make the British live-stock industry depend upon our live-stock industry for its very life. I want to make bargains with the British people, or any other people, not on the basis of "while prices are high" but on the basis of "so long a term" so that, by the time they fall to be renewed, the ones who are trading on the high-price markets and are now insolvent and anxious to sell at bankrupt prices, if they can get them, will discover that there is one market they cannot get at any price, for it is bound to us, and, by the time renewal falls to be made, the bankrupts will be in the market no more. I have no interest at all in the transient high-price market. A few people will make quick profits, will get high ideas, buy motor-cars and go "bust", and those who come after them will have to start at the bottom and come up again. I think Senator Sweetman will agree with me that very few men who get their living from the land long retain the riches of high profits or high prices.

You agree it would be a good time to have bacon to sell, if we had it to sell at the moment?

And it is coming up the mountain, Senator.

And the quicker the better, would you not agree?

You will be surprised. It is coming up the mountain.

And it is a good price.

It is not a famine price. It is a good price — I fixed it.

Yes, and I congratulate you on it.

And I have taken precautions. I hope to be able to fix it for a long time. That is its particular virtue, but it would be a very unfortunate thing if the Senator and I were to persuade our people, by paying them a fancy price, to equip themselves with 2,000,000 pigs and then inform them that the balloon is "bust" and that the price had gone to blazes. That has happened before and I would not like to see it happen again. It is not the high-price market but the long-term profitable market that I am looking for and that I would like to retain.

There is not much difference between us, then.

I should hate to think there ever would be but, in this particular case, I think there is perhaps a little more than meets the eye. I think it was also the Senator who apprehended: will farmers allow their land to go into sedge, to revert after the rehabilitation has been carried out on it? I do not know but, if they do, if that is what they are all going to do, we are sunk. I cannot too emphatically emphasise that to the Seanad. If Senators believe that the farmers are lazy ne'er-do-wells, they have a solemn duty to reject this Bill. This Bill is founded on the conviction that the people who live upon the land and get their living from it in Ireland are the only people and the best people to extract from the land of Ireland the maximum return while maintaining the land's fertility. It is madness, if you doubt that, to facilitate me in spending £40,000,000 on the land of Ireland. It is because I do not doubt that, because I could not doubt it and never would doubt it, that I want a chance to spend £40,000,000 and more, if needs be, on making the land such that it will give those who work upon it a fair return for the labour they put into it.

I am afraid that Senator Sweetman has been corrupted by the subtle shaft fired by Senator O'Brien when he asks: what is the dividend? What is the rate per cent? What is the redemption date of the investment. Where is the revenue to meet the sinking fund? Is this the illusory Fata Morgana of a banker's mind who can only think of the consolidated stock and who, when reminded that the consolidated stock would probably be worth, in 12 months' time, about one-third of what it is worth to-day, stopped like a clock because his mental processes go no further? Surely we have lived long enough to realise that the best security in times like those we live in is land. No one can take that away, even if he wants to.

I wonder what other security Senator Sweetman has in mind where he would more safely store this money so as to be sure to have it at hand when the day of repayment comes. Would he put it in gold bars? They might demonetise gold and he would have to pay the junk man to take it away. Would he put it in dollars? Does the Senator forget the repeal of the Gold Act in 1935? Would he put it in Bank of England notes? Rats might eat them or inflation consume them. Is there any security he can think of so impervious to malice or misfortune as the land? I do not want to be unfair. Oratorical flourishes do not pay debts. The question is where, on the gale day, is the negotiable instrument to come from wherewith to pacify the creditor — the taxation of the growing income of the community, resultant upon increased production. Is it not a good source?

I am glad I have converted Senator Sweetman. I should hate him to believe me to be an improvident custodian of the national wealth. I have still got to convert Senator O'Brien. Senator Bennett, my own companion in arms, portrayed for us the local authorities making abundant provision wherever three labourers' cottages were set up — a pump grew at once for their accommodation.

Almost overnight.

I asked the question: if the local authority is to provide a pump for three labourers' cottages what is the local authority doing about three farmers? Was there anything blasphemous in suggesting that if you have a pump for three agricultural workers you might dig a well for three farmers? Does that shock Senator Bennett?

Not a bit, but it is not done.

Why do the farmers not go and stand for election before their neighbours and get elected to the county council and look after their own property? Now I will probably get my head in a halter but the truth is that the vast majority of them are too lazy to do so. They expect the likes of me to accept the dust of the arena and they look down their noble noses in scorn and speak of politicians. They are damned lucky to have politicians to look after them when they are too lazy to look after themselves. If the farmers of this country want to bring down the rates, to improve the local services and to see that the requirements of the agricultural community are adequately provided for they have the remedy and nobody else has — and it is not right that anybody else should try to take the remedy.

Local government is meant to provide that neighbours will have a right to look after their own affairs without direction from Upper Merrion Street or anywhere else. If they want to sit down on their sashes and sneer at politicians they can travel the road for water. But when they realise that the politician has the spunk in him to go out and face the music in order to get the work done they might suddenly begin to realise that the most honourable career that any man in this country could aspire to is politics and that, in politics, he can serve the noblest ends — as well as mundane needs such as pumps for the local farmers.

The pump water is provided for human consumption only, not for cattle. I never saw a case——

Why? Is the Senator a member of a county council?

He can repair the error next year, please God. Senator J.T. O'Farrell asked under what enactments the grants are being made. This Bill is an enabling Bill. The general powers of the Minister for Agriculture authorise him to do general works in the interests of the agricultural industry. But when it comes to spending specific sums he gets the authority to do so by Estimate from Dáil Éireann. That is why I must ask the Members of this House what I cannot but feel is some trespass upon their indulgence, to consider the possibility of giving me this Bill in all its stages for I have still to go to the Dáil with a Supplementary Estimate to get the money requisite to finance the work. Until I get that money I am held up. I cannot go on. The Supplementary Estimate is the actual statutory power under which I disburse money.

That brings me to the very specific question raised by the Senator, designed to elucidate the pamphlet. It is strange that when we were drafting this pamphlet, albeit we did allow ourselves the luxury of buttons and bows, our prime concern was so to phrase it that it will be incapable of incomprehension. Therefore, I tried it out upon myself and then I gave it to a number of Deputies. I asked a number of them to take it down the country. We revised it repeatedly to meet what appeared to be ambiguities when others read it. But I suppose it is true that very often the more one tries to make a thing simple and clear the more complex it ultimately becomes in an effort to meet everybody's difficulty. I would say, however, that some people paid the pamphlet the compliment of readily understanding it. I can sympathise with those to whom it may present difficulties. I hope Senator J.T. O'Farrell will not take it amiss if I say to him that, though not very far removed from Senator Meighan and myself in his origins—we all come from that triangle which embraces Mayo, Sligo and Roscommon — his recent familiarity with urban affairs may render the interpretation of a document of this character less comprehensive than it would be to somebody daily in contact with the land. But there is this admitted ambiguity in it. We calculate in each specific case the estimated cost of the work where the farmer is going to do it himself. In operating a scheme of this kind you cannot stipulate for an estimate binding in the sense that a contractor's estimate would bind you. It is an estimate in the liberal sense of the word. We try to foresee what the thing would cost to do. We then take two-thirds of that estimated sum, and that figure is the grant we offer the farmer. But the farmer is not invited to join us in calculating the estimate. All that is preliminary work for the purpose of naming a sum. Then we go to the farmer and say to him: "There is work that requires to be done. Look at it. That is the grant you would get." Now it is up to himself to determine whether in all his circumstances he will be able so to handle the work as to involve himself in no monetary expense by using his own or his family's labour and employing the £140 to meet any other charges.

Would the Minister say if he will fix a time limit?

Yes, we will; but I want to reassure Senators about this. We will consider each individual case in which we have a misunderstanding with the farmers as a very grave reflection on our efficiency. There is a time limit fixed, for two reasons. One is that, if a scheme of this kind begins to drag on indefinitely, it just does not get done. Secondly, where large works of this character are being done, if a man habitually employs five or six men on his land and says he will do it with his own men, we would like to fix some such time limit as would make it clear that, if the use of his own men for this work would interfere with normal production, he would be expected to employ extra men to get it done within some given time.

This is a bit obscure until you examine it. We tell the farmer that £140 is his grant, but that we reserve the right to pay him part of that grant in kind and part in cash. Senator Sweetman envisaged the farmer who wanted to fertilise his land but had not got the money and I commended to him to get credit. Here is a farmer who has the money, £140, but lest he might paper up the kitchen or whitewash the house, or build an avenue up from the gate, before he applies the fertilisers which his land requires to maximise his earning capacity, inasmuch as the purpose of our work is to render fully arable the land on which we work, we reserve the right to say to him that such quantity of fertilisers as that land requires to be made fully arable will be provided and will constitute payment in kind of a part of the grant to which he is entitled. It has this additional advantage, of which Senators would wish to know, that by this means I think we can get it spread on his land at a slightly lower rate than if each individual had to go and deal with the lime spreader or the phosphate spreader on his own.

That is only one part of the scheme. The other half envisages say, where a farmer says, for some reason best known to himself: "It does not suit me to do it, but I would like the Department to do it." There we go through the same procedure, we estimate what it is going to cost and we expect the farmer to allow us to charge upon his land two-fifths of the cost. Suppose it is estimated to cost us £30 fully to drain an acre for which we have taken responsibility, two-fifths of £30 is £12; therefore, he is getting three-fifths of the expense as a grant and two-fifths as a loan charged upon his land, payable over 60 years. That £12 is an overriding maximum. In an occasional case — and it would be an exceptional case — you might find that, in order to treat 15 acres effectively, there was one acre in the middle that would cost £40 or £50. We would not charge the farmer £20, which is two-fifths of £50, in respect of that one acre since there is an overriding maximum of £12. Suppose it only cost us £20 to reclaim the acre, or that we estimated it would cost us only £20, then we would levy only £8, not £12. The £12 is an overriding maximum and Senators will remember that, in every case, the land must be arable or potentially arable. There is no intention of taking the top of a mountain and trying to make fertile land out of it. I wonder if that explanation has made the position clear.

I would like the Minister to make this clear. A free grant of £140 is indicated where the farmer does the work himself. If he does not do the work himself, does the State guarantee him in service the equivalent of £140?

It is more. £140 is only two-thirds of the total sum to be expended. That scheme of work we estimate would cost £210 to carry through.

Whether done by the State or the farmer?

Then he has to pay back £108, that would be £102 of free service. Taking £108 from £210, it leaves only £102.

He has an overriding maximum of £12 per acre. If there is nine acres at £210, how much is that per acre?

I can see a few heads scratching at the firesides over this.

It is not easy to make out in a very simple way. Senator O'Farrell and I were momentarily overlooking the fertilisers. In the case where a farmer gets the grant, he is paid for the work he does and he gets the fertilisers as part of his grant. In the case where we do the work, we not only do it but we apply the fertilisers. Therefore, you have to add to the £210 the sum of £5 an acre for fertilisers, that is £45 for nine acres, making the total £255. He is asked to pay back £108 and under that part of the plan he in fact receives £147. That is £7 more than he gets under the grant.

That is done deliberately, for this reason. The scheme is not primarily designed to be an employment scheme, but if a farmer were so circumstanced as to permit of his employing labour, and if it were an even balance of convenience as to whether he would hire men to get it done or work overtime himself to do it, we would like to give him that slight edge, to encourage him to get us to hire labourers and not stay working until 12 o'clock at night himself, with his children or his household. I think that is a very rational proposition and I am obliged to Senator O'Farrell for bringing my attention to it.

Senator Counihan says that security of tenure is the sine qua non of life being worth living on the land. He is right and I hope that the Land Bill which my colleague will shortly bring before Oireachtas Éireann will provide for our people rehabilitation not only on the land but in security of the tenure by which they hold it. I look to that Bill as being the death warrant of the grabber in this country. There will be no more grabbers when they have to pay the full market value for the land.

Senator Ó Buachalla is benevolent and gracious — Guidhim an rath air — but faint praise of an avuncular doubter can be a very deadly instrument to parry. He hopes that everything will be all right but he is full of apprehension. He does not see much difference between this scheme and schemes that went before it but he hopes that there will be a wider performance from the provisions of this one. I hope to dazzle him. If he is half as pessimistic as he sounds — not pessimistic so much as apprehensive — I hope to cover him with an atmosphere of security in the immediate future that will lull him to rest. Yes, I agree with the Senator that what I want to do is to bring within the reach of our farmers a knowledge for which, as the Senator has said, our people have always had a profound love and respect.

I did not get much help from the Senator's colleagues on the Galway County Committee. One member of the council was gracious enough to tell me to go and mind my own business; another was kind enough to say that they did not want any hordes of grass inspectors there pestering the farmers of County Galway, and yet a third was anxious to inquire what did Mr. Dillon think he was going to get out of it. There seemed to be many cynics in Galway, yet may I depend on the Senator to undertake their education? It is a hard thing to educate farmers if those whose duty it is to educate them themselves require education, but even in that dilemma I would not despair if I may depend on the Senator to undertake the herculean labour of redecorating the augean stable of Galway County Committee of Agriculture.

The Senator is an economist but I like to think that before "the dismal science" he must prefer the science of sociology. If, according to the rules of the dismal scientists, we are to evaluate every acre of land in pounds, shillings and pence the Senator will agree with me that we should evacuate one-third of this country and leave it to the seagulls. But, we do not intend to do it no matter what the economists say and I think the Senator will join with me in saying to the economists that if they do not like it they can lump it and write theses for the rest of the time, proving in theory that we are wrong. We will have plenty of time to laugh at them in the knowledge that we are right.

Now, about the question of convertibility the Senator had asked how we are going to repay the American dollars. I believe the Senator will agree with me on reflection that if the convertibility of dollars and sterling is not restored before 1955, before repayment begins, there will be a different aspect on how to find the dollars to repay the Americans. We made no disguise when we borrowed dollars from the United States. We told them that in the conditions regarding convertibility we could not get the dollars to repay them but that the purpose of their plan was to attain the convertibility. We did not doubt the success that would attend their efforts any more than they did and provided they were prepared to share our trust we could undertake prompt payment when it was due, but if the Senator foresees a world in which the United States will be the sole currency country then I think he is allowing himself to fall into the same kind of error as a political economist who says that we must evacuate one-third of Ireland and leave it to the seagulls.

Are we to take it, then, that if convertibility is not reached there is no obligation on us to pay?

In dollars. How could you repay in dollars if you have not got them?

Surely the Senator has learned the fundamental economic truth that you cannot take the breeches off a Highlander or blood from a turnip.

I accept that. It is clearly understood then that if convertibility is not reached no onus rests on us to make any payment to America? It is up to the Minister to give an answer. I posed the question to the Minister for Finance and I got no answer. I put it now to the Minister for Agriculture and I expect an answer.

The Senator will get it. So surely as the Marshall Plan succeeds and democracy and decency overthrow the Bolshevik forces of corruption, we pay dollar for dollar. If I were as sure of everything as I am that the forces of democracy and decency will smash the attempt to overthrow Christian civilisation the prospect of not having the wherewithal to pay dollar for dollar would not trouble my mind. Let me reassure the Senator that so surely as he and I retain the freedom we now enjoy we will have dollars to repay. If we have not dollars we will not have freedom, and if I have got to share the Siberian solitude of a Bolshevik salt mine with Senator Ó Buachalla it will not cost me one night's sleep whether I have dollars or sterling to repay the Marshall loan. They can have it then in salt. That is all I will have to offer and I will not even have that if I do not get out by the back door before the Bolsheviks get in.

Senator Baxter spoke of specialised problems that may arise out of land reclamation. I never believe in consulting people on what they are paid for. I hope to retain the services of the greatest authority in the world on the problem of improvement of hill grazing in Ireland. I am not free to mention his name at this stage because I have not yet approached him. I believe that in the long run the best value for money is the best of whatever you want to buy.

Many people are in the habit of saying that this is only a poor country and that, therefore, we ought to get along with the second- and third-rate. Inasmuch as we are a poor country I think we cannot afford to retain in our service or to pay for anything but the best. When you get that, leave the problem in his hands and abide by the results. Nothing is more fatal than, having secured the best, to start teaching how to do the job. My responsibility will end when the best brains available are secured for the services of our people and the resources put at his disposal to effect the purpose he is commissioned to realise.

I am sorry if I must say something that would appear gratuitous to Senator Professor O'Brien but I have a passion for the records, too. He spoke of the solicitude that he shared with me for the land, and with the loyalty of a distinguished scholar, speaking of his intellectual masters, Father Finlay and Sir Horace Plunket, he traced his devotion to the land to their inspiration. That may be true of Senator O'Brien. Nothing that I believe, nothing that I stand for, nothing that I commend is founded for me in the philosophy or outlook of the late Sir Horace Plunket. My love of the land is derived from quite another source, one which is entirely unsympathetic to the philosophy of which he spoke.

I think Senator Sweetman was, probably, thinking of the same fundamental problem present to the ever lucid mind of Senator O'Brien when he said he questioned where all the liquid assets would come from wherewith to meet the Sinking Fund to redeem this loan. I want to suggest, and I must say so with great trepidation towards Senator O'Brien, that even so great a mind as his may sometimes be dazzled by the illusion of the critic. The revenue of this State is a reasonably liquid asset on which to borrow. It would be a foolish Government that laid upon itself an unproductive burden in excess of capacity to repay. We have got to face this, that the money to finance the redemption of this borrowing must be looked for in the growing yield of revenue derived from expanding economy, resultant from increased production on the land. If it does not come from that, there is nowhere else to get it.

If there is any better liquid asset known to any member of this Seanad I would be glad to hear of it. The holders of most securities may have to learn that painful lesson over the next decade. I do not think many people here require that instruction. I thank Senator McGuire for commending the Bill and Senator Loughman for valuable suggestions. We are already in process of taking steps to put them into operation. I do not think Senator O'Brien is really apprehensive as to the true answer to the question about land annuities. Does the Senator remember the rejoinder I made to our friend on the right, that there was an occasion when our people listened with little respect to a theory which was declared to be mandatory and just said: "Theory be damned. We are going to do it this way because this is the way we like to have it." There is no Government ever to be established in this country which will dare to claim the right to convert the land annuities from terminable annuities to a permanent charge. Any Government that attempted it would find that the grandsons of those who signed the "No Rent" manifesto have not forgotten how to go about that business. I have no doubt, if the necessity should arise, that Senator O'Brien and I would sit at the table of the Plan of Campaign and collect the rents as material to carry on the fight to free the land from anyone's claim to levy upon it a permanent charge. The land annuities under every land Act are terminable annuities designed to redeem the purchase price. That done they are ended for ever more. And there is no power in this land or in any other land who can acquire the right permanently to levy a cess upon the homes of our people. That is a matter of very fundamental principle and I am amazed at Senator O'Brien——

I am only asking for the answer to the question asked by the Banking Commission. The Minister need not be apprehensive of giving the answer.

I am giving it. Mind you, it was a very mischievous question because you could have gone to Upper Merrion Street and got the answer.

We are entitled to know from the Government at what date the annuities would terminate.

Has the Senator ever addressed a postcard to the Land Commission?

If the Minister does not wish to answer the question that is all right, but it seems to me that it is a question quite easy to answer, to state that date at which annuities on land purchased under the Land Purchase Act, 1903, will legally expire. That is the question which is asked by the Banking Commission and I am asking it now. If the Minister does not wish to answer, that is all right but he should give me a clear, categorical, straight answer. Assuming that the sinking fund provisions of the Wyndham Act were in operation the date would be 68½ years from the date of the making of the advance, but if the sinking fund provisions of the Wyndham Act no longer operate since the halving of the land annuities in 1933, when will the annuities terminate? Is the time doubled or what since 1933? The tenant purchasers would like an answer to that question.

They can have it by writing a postcard. Any tenant purchaser who writes a postcard: "Dear Sir, I am the occupant of such-and-such a holding, the folio number of which is so-and-so, the location of which is so-and-so and the registered owner of which is so-and-so; I desire to know the redemption value of my annuity for the purpose of extinguishing it completely"——

That is not an answer.

——If the Senator will allow me — he will get a civil reply telling him the precise sum which he is required to pay for a clear bill. If, on the other hand, the tenant purchaser says: "My father purchased under the Wyndham Act this holding which I now have, and I desire to know for how long will I be required to pay the half yearly gale at present levied upon me" he will receive a civil reply giving the information he wants. These are matters which I think it is a dangerous thing to pretend are ambiguous because it would be very easy to disturb the public mind in suggesting to the people that some dark conspiracy was afoot. There is not any. If the Senator will give me any individual holding in which he is interested himself I will guarantee the information in respect of one holding or of any number of holdings. He knows perfectly well that I am not the Minister for Lands, but I do not want for one moment to use that explanation, so readily acceptable to members of Parliament who understand its significance for the record, as an excuse. May I give Senator O'Brien a clear and categorical reply that the annuity is terminable? There is no question or suggestion of its being converted into a permanent annuity or its duration being extended by a single day. Is that clear? I want to say this of the Banking Commission: If ever their responsibility was to be judged by the idiotic performance of leaving unanswered questions of that kind, then I hope, in so far as their report contained that idiotic inquiry, the rest of its quality is not to be so judged. It is a scandal for responsible people to write down in a public document of that standing a query of that sort when the simplest precaution would secure a categorical reply. They had the duty as they were a commission to ask those responsible to reveal their intentions to convert the annuities into a perpetual charge if they had the slightest suspicion that anyone had that in mind. Nothing could be more deplorable than to leave in doubt for the purpose of begetting that suspicion something that goes to the root of the everyday lives of our people.

I do not know why Senator Seumas O'Farrell says that there is no free grant. There is. It is true that a farmer will get work done on his own land and inasmuch as the grant pays him for that labour, it is true to say that there is no free grant. He may, if he can, get contractors to do the work for him and if they do it for less than the grant amounts to he is entitled to put the balance in his pocket.

The Minister was not here when I raised the point. I did not say that. What I did say was that people might think that the farmer is getting something that nobody else is getting, that he is paid to do work on his own land which is to the benefit of the community.

I agree with that. The Senator enquires what is going to be paid to labour. By us?

I want to know the labour content. The labour content will be high, but have we any indication of what the labour value will be or what wages will be paid? So good a scheme ought not to be held up by labour disputes.

The rates for agricultural work will be agricultural rates but not for the working of elaborate machines. I am happy to tell the Senators that already we have got our first deserter from a public authority in Great Britain who is to take up duty with us on the 21st of this month, coming home, and he is in correspondence with several other men who have a competent knowledge of the handling of these machines, whom we propose to bring home, if they want to come, and whom we will use as a nucleus to train men here in Ireland. They are entitled to be paid just as much as they are paid in England.

On the question of part payments, which was raised by Senator Hawkins, I think I dealt with that when I spoke of the principle of a quantum meruit. The farm buildings scheme is going ahead as fast as we can keep it going and we intend to carry it on year after year until the work is done. I think I referred to education and grass seeds. I do not know why I should ask the Seanad or the Dáil to provide financial assistance for people who have good land. I do not know how people brought in the wheat vouchers, but the recoupment of the wheat vouchers was provided for under an Act passed during my pre-decessor's administration, the provisions of which are being very scrupulously observed. He had all the fun of giving out the vouchers, while I have all the fun of getting them in and trying to collate them, which, I can assure Senators, is quite a job.

Senator O'Dwyer and I are in agreement about getting the water into a river that winds somewhere to the sea. So is Senator Meighan, and every other practical farmer will have that constantly in mind. I hope to show Senator O'Dwyer the realisation of his hopes and mine in that regard.

Lastly, I ask the Seanad to expedite the passage of the Bill, if possible, because I have yet to go to the Dáil to seek the necessary finance wherewith to proceed with the job, and every day counts. There is an immense volume of work to do and so little time wherein to do it, and any co-operation or facility the Seanad can give me I will very much appreciate.

Question put and agreed to.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

When is it proposed to take the next stage?

We on this side are prepared to facilitate the Minister in every way by giving all stages of the Bill on next sitting day.

Does the Senator see the need for amendment in it?

I thought I understood this document, described by the Minister as "Buttons and Bows". After hearing Senator O'Farrell and the Minister's very long explanation in reply to his question, I propose to spend the week-end trying to elucidate the Minister's reply and see whether I can contribute something useful on the next sitting day.

It is agreed that we take the Committee Stage on Wednesday, and the remaining stages on that day also, and that the Bill will be the first item on the Order Paper.

Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 20th July.
Sitting suspended at 6.5 p.m. and resumed at 7 p.m.