Flax Act, 1936 (Suspension) Bill, 1950—Second and Subsequent Stages.

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

In the unavoidable absence of the Minister for Agriculture, the responsibility for dealing with the Second Reading of the Flax Act, 1936, devolves on me. This Bill is, in effect, a Bill to do now what the 1947 Flax Act, 1936 (Suspension) Act then did, with this additional feature, that the Flax Act (Suspension) Act, 1947, suspended the 1936 Act for a limited period, while this Bill will suspend the 1936 Act for an unlimited period. The 1936 Act will not come into operation hereafter unless and until an Order to that effect is made by the Government for the time being. The purpose of the original Act in 1936 was to promote the cultivation of flax in the country. It fixed minimum prices, and it was hoped thereby to evoke the growing in certain areas of the country of about 5,000 acres of flax.

In fact, the provisions of the 1936 Act never functioned, because the minimum prices which it was thought expedient to fix under it never reached market prices, which were consistently in excess of the minima fixed. Then, with the outbreak of war, a variety of factors operated which made it highly unlikely that provisions designed to promote the cultivation of flax would be necessary and it was deemed expedient to suspend the Act. That situation continued until 1948, which was the last year in which the Board of Trade in Great Britain made itself responsible for buying the entire flax crop of this country. When the Board of Trade in London withdrew, the future market for flax grown in this country by our people became a matter between the growers and the Northern Ireland spinners. The Northern Ireland spinners suggested that a lower price than had been paid in 1948 should be acceptable to our growers in 1949. The final offer of Northern Ireland spinners was to buy 2,000 tons of flax at 32/6 per stone for grade 5. That was a reduction of 2/6 on the prices paid for the 1948 crop. The Minister for Agriculture advised spinners that that was not a proposal he considered he would be justified in recommending to growers in this country, in view of the fact that, at the same time, the Northern Ireland flax spinners not only proposed to maintain but to raise the prices paid to growers in Northern Ireland. Subsequently, the Association of Flax Spinners in Northern Ireland met representatives of the growers and agreed to purchase 3,000 tons at prices ranging from 26/6 for grade 6 to 34/- for grade 1 with an additional 1/6 a stone for turbine-scutched flax.

Arrangements have been made with regard to the coming year for the sale of 3,000 tons, and the prices agreed on show a further reduction of 3/- on the prices ruling in 1949, and are 10/- per stone less than growers in Northern Ireland will receive. The House should know that in respect of the flax crop in Northern Ireland there is an arrangement whereby the spinners will pay a basic price and the Northern Ireland Government will pay a subsidy under the Flax Act, 1949. Under the First Schedule of the Flax Act Northern Ireland, 1949, a growers' agreement contains this provision:—

"Whereas the cost of growing flax in Northern Ireland exceeds considerably the world price of flax of equivalent quality and whereas it is important that the growing of flax in Northern Ireland should be encouraged and the quality improved ..."

It then goes on to set out that a subsidy shall be made available to the growers by the Government. The Northern Ireland Government recognised that the prices provided by the spinners were inadequate to give the growers of Northern Ireland flax accepatable prices, and a standard of living that they could be expected to accept without a subsidy. In those circumstances the Minister for Agriculture did not feel that it was reasonable to ask flax growers in this country to accept 10/- less than that paid to growers in Northern Ireland.

The Minister, however, did not consider it necessary in present circumstances to fix a minimum price as laid down in the Flax Act, 1936, and this Bill suspends that Act for an indefinite period.

The 1936 Flax Act appeared to provide a state of affairs that might bring about encouragement of the production of flax in this part of the country. I think the Seanad will agree that the production of any commodity here and any organisation, no matter of what type, that might bring us more closely into contact with our people in the Six Counties should be welcomed, and while the history in relation to the flax business in recent years has been discussed on more than one occasion, we had on a particular occasion from the responsible Minister, who, I regret very much, has not found it possible to come to us to-night to present this Bill, a very detailed account of the circumstances under which the negotiations with the flax spinners of Northern Ireland were carried out.

As the Parliamentary Secretary has informed us, prior to this the Board of Trade was the responsible board controlling the purchase of flax. At that time, negotiations were carried out between the British Minister and the Irish Minister. While we may not be entirely satisfied with the price obtained, the negotiations still came to a successful conclusion. Some time in last June the circumstances changed, and the Board of Trade were no longer the body responsible for the purchase of flax. It then behoved the Minister for Agriculture, as the person responsible for marketing, to find a market for the flax produce of this State, and to conduct, and if possible, enter into negotiations with the purchasers or the persons likely to be the purchasers of the crop. I think the outline given to us by the Minister of the circumstances of the atmosphere under which these negotiations were carried on, could not have led to success. I hold the view, and I think any responsible member of this House or of the community at large, will hold the view, that when you are entering into negotiations in a business-like way to carry out a sale, the negotiations are opened with a view to getting the best possible price for the goods you have to sell.

You may not get exactly what you ask for or expect to get, but there must always be a certain margin for compromise. There is no use in inviting people to negotiate on any particular subject unless you are prepared to accept that compromise, and that applies all the more particularly when you are dealing with people who are often referred to here as "the hardheaded Northern business people." You cannot just make up your mind when they go into your office that you do not like their approach. You are not going to get very far if, to use the Minister's phrase, and I hope I am not misquoting him; if you tell them to go to blazes. The result of that "go to blazes" was that the Northern Ireland spinners did not go to blazes. It meant that the small farmers of Cavan, Monaghan, Donegal, West Cork and the counties concerned with flax production were the people who would have gone to blazes. They were forced to take the matter into their own hands.

The flax growers. They brought about negotiations with the northern spinners and an agreement was reached. I am not in a position to judge it, and neither are many members of this House able to say whether the price arrived at as a result of these negotiations between the representatives of the flax growers and the northern spinners was just or proper for these people to accept. But, we must admit that it was a price accepted by them. We know that there are at this moment a number of persons in the counties concerned still prepared to continue in flax production. I am not too sure whether the original Bill gave satisfactory encouragement to the flax growers but the war years intervened and the Parliamentary Secretary, in replying to my statement, will not doubt put forward the view that flax growing is more or less a war-time job. I do not agree or accept such a suggestion, because I know that in many parts of the country, even down in parts of County Galway, we have pointed out to us from time to time by old persons we meet that there was a linen hall in such a place. Flax was grown in many of these areas 100 to 150 years ago, and grown quite extensively. If there are a number of people in the counties concerned who, for one reason or another, feel it is essential to their economic circumstances that they must produce a crop such as flax because it is the best crop for them, then I think we should do everything we can to encourage them. I do not want to be told that I am suggesting that we should accept, if we can possibly avoid it, a lesser price for the produce of our farmers than that given to the farmers in the other part of the country, but when we come to examine that question we will have to acquaint ourselves with the facts and admit that the price given to the northern growers is a price plus a subsidy, and it may be asked: "Are you prepared to recommend the Irish Government to give a subsidy to the growers on this side of the Border for a crop that ultimately will give its greatest value not on this side of the Border but on the other side?" During the discussion on the previous Bill, we had a phrase with reference to subsidies. I made a point which I think was very much misunderstood, whether intentionally or otherwise, on the question of the subsidy for butter. I quite admit that where you have production over and above what is required for the home community you have to look for an export market for it.

Without introducing another subject here, I want to make it clear on the question of butter that that is not the position at the present time. There are times, and there will be in future, when whatever Government is in power, no matter how unpopular it may be, the Government must of necessity subsidies the export of certain commodities. That is being done by every country in the world and will continue to be done. We were told by Senator Baxter, or by some other Senator, about the Canadian Government being obliged to give a subsidy on the export of bacon and that they were still unable to get a market. I am not suggesting that our Government should give a subsidy on flax growing, but I do suggest that it is the duty of persons responsible in the Department of Agriculture, or if it is an industrial commodity, in the Department of Industry and Commerce, that it is not the proper attitude to wash your hands completely and say "I am quite satisfied now". It is not good enough to say that you have told the potential buyers to go to blazes, even if at the same time you advise the farmers that they would be better employed in growing oats, potatoes or other crops for which you are prepared to guarantee them a market. That may be an excuse, but it is not the proper approach.

In the circumstances, there is very little we can do except to accede to the Minister's request to suspend the Act. I do not know if its suspension will have any great effect, apart from that of discouraging the production of this crop, but will it have the effect of making the spinners of Northern Ireland, who are the purchasers, develop a terrible headache when they read it in their papers that Seanad Eireann passed this Bill suspending the 1936 Flax Act and of making them rush out to get into communication with the man who, last December, told them to go to blazes? I do not think it will. It is regrettable that situations such as this should arise, particularly in view of the fact that the producers themselves were able to secure a market, and if left to themselves in the first instance would probably have been able to make a better bargain.

What is the position at the moment? What assistance, if any, will be given to these people? They are entitled to some assistance. They are at least entitled to the same facilities as those who increased their butter or egg production, or production of any other commodity. They are entitled to look to the Minister to find for them a reasonable price for their produce and to do the best he can for them. I know full well I am asking the almost impossible, but even if he has to put his pride in his pocket and say: "We all say things in the heat of the moment and when I told you to go to blazes, I did not mean exactly that you should go there at once. I am prepared to have a more friendly discussion now", I suggest he should do so. If we are ever to set seriously about the unification of this country, one of the ways in which that can be brought about is by the interchange of commodities and the interchange of ideas and interests. We will not achieve that in any other way, except the use of force, and we all rule that out, although I see that lately there is an attempt—I will not say too serious an attempt— to influence people in that direction. If we are to move in the right direction, we must look on these people as Irish people and must give them the assurance that they will get the very same treatment as our people here get. We may regard them as hard-headed business people but a little admixture of that with the softness of the South and West would not be any harm.

A tremendous amount of damage can be done by a wrong approach by a Minister to the responsible representatives of an organisation of this kind. We have had the history of this matter from the Minister, and I think some people were shocked when he gloried, in his very eloquent way, in the circumstances in which he met the gentlemen from the North, who carried away such a good impression of the business men and leaders of Southern Ireland. This is a matter which may require examination from time to time. Circumstances may change between now and next year, and while the 1947 Bill suspending the 1936 Act provided for a limited period of suspension, I put it to the Parliamentary Secretary and the House that circumstances may arise in which it may be necessary to bring this Bill into operation again. The Seanad and the Dáil may wish to have an opportunity of looking at the position as it exists next December or January, and I suggest that, instead of complete suspension for an unspecified period, it should be limited to a period of 12 months.

I agree with Senator Hawkins that it would be a pity that any controversy over flax should interfere with what is essentially an Irish industry. In many references in the news papers and in a number of speeches made, the common phrase is that the Government should start a linen industry. Anything more misleading than that statement I find it difficult to conceive. There is, and has been for a long time, an Irish linen industry. It is not a Northern Ireland linen industry and it is not an Eire or a Republic of Ireland linen industry. It dates back a very considerable period and its goods were always sold with pride as Irish linens. I hope that will never end. It is quite wrong to think, as many think—I say this in quite a friendly way and not with the desire of making a political point—that there are no first-class or high-class linens produced outside the Six Counties. Some of the best and finest linens have for at least a century been produced in Dublin, and, although for reasons which are more or less obvious, they are often marketed and sold through warehouses in Belfast, because the buyers of the world go where there is a large selection, the fact remains that Dublin, Drogheda, Balbriggan and Dundalk have all got factories producing valuable and important linen goods.

Those who talk about the Government establishing a linen industry mean that they want the Government to establish a linen-spinning industry in the Twenty-Six Counties, because there is no linen spinning here. There is a type of finishing which is also not done in the Twenty-Six Counties, but there are many reasons why that is, to my mind, neither desirable not practicable, and this has a very close bearing on the whole question of flax production. In the first place, it must be remembered that the industry as a whole works harmoniously. If flax is grown in County Cork, it will be spun in Northern Ireland, but nobody can possibly tell where that particular flax will be woven. It may be woven in Dublin, in Belfast or some other town in the 32 Counties, but we in the Twenty-Six Counties get our share and buy it principally, though not perhaps always entirely, from the Six-County linen spinners. Therefore, we have an Irish industry which is definitely interested in the production of flax; but this must be borne in mind, that the linen industry is, in the main, an export industry. The home consumption in the whole 32 counties is relatively small and much of the trade of the industry, both on this side and the other side of the Border, is an export trade. At the particular moment, when both sides are anxious to obtain dollars, that export happens to be an important export. It is mainly, if not entirely, for dollars and although the total export from the factories here may not be very great, it is not a negligible proportion of the unfortunately comparatively small trade we have for dollars.

I put that more or less as a preliminary. So far as this Bill is concerned, it seems to me that the right course is to adopt it. It does not repeal the Act; it can be brought into effect by Order of the Executive Government. There is no use in having this Bill in operation, unless it is going to be carried out, because it is mainly an enabling Bill which must be carried out with the goodwill of the Executive of the day, and so long as the power is there for any Government which may find it desirable to change the arrangements to do so at once, it meets any difficulty. I have some sympathy with the suggestion of Senator Hawkins. I am not sure that this is a matter which is helped by debates such as have taken place in the Dáil, or by continually bringing it up in public. Everyone realises that the real difficulty lies in the fact that flax grown in Northern Ireland is subsidised and sold to the spinners, and subsidised not out of any benevolence on the part of the Government of the Six Counties, but because this is an important export trade, and if the price had not been subsidised, and if the farmer had not got a price which he considers essential, the almost certain position would be that the export trade would not have developed, and would have been lost or seriously interfered with. To the best of my belief—I cannot speak from first hand knowledge—there has been a considerable improvement since devaluation, but prior to that while there was a very good trade the tendency was for orders to fall off.

In one way, the difficulty of the situation lies in the fact that the Northern spinner cannot sell his yarn if he pays a higher price for the flax he gets here than what he has to pay for flax in the Northern market. You talk about hard-headed businessmen of the North, but the soft-headed businessmen in the Twenty-Six Counties—which I do not believe they are for a moment—would take up exactly the same position. To suggest that there is anything anti-Irish in the attitude of the Northern spinners is quite misleading. I can say, with definite knowledge, that the industry on both sides of the Border works harmoniously. We compete—we have to compete—for foreign markets. It is pretty keen competition, but there is an export trade here and although there are some drawbacks on this side we are able to compete. It is friendly competition and it must be necessarily so, as we have to obtain our yarns, I think occasionally, outside the country but mainly from spinner in Northern Ireland.

Any proposal to set up a spinning industry here in order to encourage flax growing might lead to disaster, unless the State is going to give a very substantial subsidy. In the first place, the varieties required by the weavers in the Twenty-Six Counties are as many in number though of course by no means as great in volume, as required by the weavers in the Six Counties. I cannot see how one spinning mill could provide all those varieties and, if it did, there would be a small quantity of each kind. It would be based on a higher price for flax than is paid in Northern Ireland. That would put the price of the yarn out of bounds to the weaver. Again, if you prevented the weaver from buying his yarns in Northern Ireland at a lower price, you might put him out of business. If you leave him only the home trade, the total amount of the home trade in linen would be insufficient to maintain the industry.

This matter requires a friendly and commonsense approach. I hope, as it settles down, it will work in a way in which there will be closer co-operation, apart altogether from our political sentiments. I agree with what Senator Hawkins has said, that it is really a business matter which should be capable of adjustment. In one way I am not sorry it is not being dealt with between Government. It would be better if possible to have it dealt with between the proper representatives of the growers here and the spinners. The situation should be watched carefully by the Government and they must carefully consider how far it might be necessary for the Government to intervene to secure a certain amount of flax growing. I would be sorry to see a position in which no flax growing would be done except in a couple of the northern of the Twenty-Six Counties. I would be sorry to see that happen.

I am not competent to express any views as to whether it pays the farmer to grow flax at the present price or not. I know nothing about growing or scutching and only a little about spinning. I know something about weaving and the trade here. I think it a proper thing for us to pass the Bill, as it is really the best thing to do. If the Bill did not provide that it could be brought into effect by an Order, I would agree with Senator Hawkins, but as it does so provide I think it is probably the best way to do it at the present time.

Senator Douglas has spoken with the voice of one who knows a fair amount about the production side and the marketing of the finished product. I know something about the producer's angle and I do not think Senator Hawkins exactly represents the producer's point of view at all. He has assented to the passing of the Bill and we take that as his general attitude on the question, but in regard to the production of flax the facts are very simple. I agree with Senator Douglas that it is wise and sensible of us to trade with the people in the Six Counties, just as it is to our advantage to trade with the people of Britain or the people of any country in Europe; but the trade must be on a basis that is satisfactory to us as producers. That is the essential point. In so far as Senator Hawkins joins issue with statements made by the Minister for Agriculture, I must disagree with him, if we are to understand from him that he takes the line that the offer which was made by the Northern spinners last year was an offer which the Minister for Agriculture here should have stood over and recommended to the producers.

I think I made it quite clear that my reference was to the manner in which these gentlemen were received rather than to the offer.

I do not think the Senator was there and I was not there.

We had a running commentary on it from the Minister himself in this House.

We have had running commentaries on many matches that were not always a correct report of what actually took place on the field. My county is one of those where the tradition of flax growing is still maintained. We know a good deal about the growing and handling of flax there. It is a very arduous crop to produce and to handle and it is an expensive crop. You reach the point in the production of flax when it simply is not profitable. It is grown during periods of emergency by farmers, mainly in Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal, chiefly as a cash crop, and, to a certain extent, in West Cork. They say that some areas in West Cork can produce the best flax in the country. It is really only during a period of emergency that any extensive area of flax is grown in the country at all. We produced flax during the war. I often questioned the wisdom of that policy. I find it difficult, frankly, to understand how we were prepared to give over certain portions of our land to the production of flax, areas which we badly needed for the production of food for our animals and our people. There seemed to be an agreement reached between the British Board of Trade and the Government here. I am not going into it, but am only referring to the fact. When the war was over, the Board of Trade ceased to be interested and said it was a matter for the Six-County spinners. They came along to bargain with us, and the Minister was not prepared to accept the offer they made. If there was a differentiation between the price to the flax producer in the Six Counties and the price our farmer was to get, I think our attitude was quite right. Although he was not prepared to recommend to the farmers that they should grow flax at the price offered, none of us was prohibited from growing flax. We were free to grow it and many of our farmers grew it. I can tell Senator Hawkins that any farmer in my county who grew flax last year would have had a much more profitable crop had he grown oats. I saw oats at 4/6 a stone in Cavan last Monday. Even if you have 15 cwts. to the acre, it would have been a much more profitable crop than flax.

The Minister did not make a bargain with the Northern spinners. Senator Hawkins says that the producers did that themselves. That is not the situation. There were no producers on the delegation that went to make the arrangements. There were scutch mill representatives on it, but they had a vested interest in flax growing. That is a rather different situation. They were the people who went to bargain with the Northern spinners because they wanted the crop grown as it would bring grist to their mill. If there was any bargain made, they were the people who made it.

I agree with Senator Hawkins that if we can do business with anybody in the Six Counties, we ought to do it, but not for the reasons Senator Hawkins gave. He said that production of any crop that brings us more closely into contact with our people in Northern Ireland should be welcomed. It is not for that reason I would produce a crop. I would produce a crop if it paid me to do so, and I would sell it to anyone who would give me the best price.

The consideration that our farmers must have in mind is the most profitable utilisation of the soil. I do not think our people should be encouraged to grow flax at the moment. It is a very peculiar situation. Senator Douglas, from one angle, indicated that flax production and sale of the finished article is a dollar earning matter, but one of the main arguments made by the people in the Six Counties for the maintenance of their connection with Britain is their capacity to earn dollars for Britain, and to earn dollars partly with the flax that is grown in the Twenty-six Counties. Whatever else they want to do, they make a political case out of the flax that we produce for them, and which their spinners and finishers turn into linen, which is exported.

We earn dollars from what is spun by them.

If Senator Douglas had given us figures on that, we would be able to estimate the value of it. We have a problem with regard to food. The Minister has been inserting advertisements asking our people to grow more oats, barley and potatoes for feeding. If we do not produce them, we have to find the dollars to buy them. If I were asked how we can utilise the land most advantageously for the country, I would say that it would be more profitable to grow those crops at home rather than to contrive somehow to find dollars to buy their equivalent from America and perhaps find it beyond our capacity to procure the dollars. Instead of taking the line that we ought to encourage people to grow flax, we should concentrate on oats, barley and wheat. If there is anything in flax, the flax growers of Cavan, Monaghan, and Donegal will grow it. They have retting pits, scutch mills and all the organisation to which they are accustomed for the production of this crop and the processing of it, in so far as it is processed at home, and for the sale of it. Just like dairying or barley growing or sheep rearing, there is a traditional practice in this matter and the people are very reluctant to abandon it if there is a fraction of profit in it. There was nothing in the flax crop last year.

There was less in the oats crop the year before.

My answer to that is that if there had not been so much said about oats in the previous year the unfortunate people who this year cannot find a decent sample of oats for sowing this spring would not have to pay 4/6 a stone. It means that the oat crop is a more profitable crop than the flax crop. It was a much more profitable crop last year. That is the line the Minister has taken and I do not think there is anything unwise about it.

It is on the experience of the previous year that the farmers would make up their minds as to which crop they should grow.

If they were to go on their experience, Senator Hawkins will say that they should have grown flax, not oats. They did not grow oats and it would have paid them much better to grow oats. Senator Hawkins and anybody with him who advised people or who took the line that they tought not to grow oats know now that it was unfortunate for the individual farmers and for the country as a whole.

It is not worth refuting all the charges that have been made from time to time, but Senator Baxter would fail to produce any evidence of any kind that I or any other member of our Party ever advised people not to go into the production of food that the people required, either oats or any other commodity.

We are dealing with flax.

We need not approach it in that spirit. I am pointing to the fact that the major consideration in so far as we are speaking for producers, from the point of view of the individual producer or from the point of view of the national well-being, is that it is more profitable for us to encourage our farmers to grow crops other than flax.

We are not dealing with production in general on this Bill. We are dealing with flax alone.

I submit that Senator Hawkins's line of argument has been that the Minister has not done justice by the farmers because he has not done something else. I suggest that the Minister has put his case as strongly as he can. He could not get any better figure than he was offered and he advised farmers to utilise their land in another way. That is the situation that confronts us to-day. On what side are we in regard to it? I know many flax growers in my county. I know people who are flax growers and scutch mill owners. I know that last season's flax was a most unprofitable crop. Had the people who grew flax taken the Minister's advice and grown anything else on the land where they produced flax it would have been much more profitable for all of us.

There can be no objection to what the Parliamentary Secretary asks for in this Bill. Whatever desire there may be to score a political debating point, it is important for us to remember that the main purpose that the Minister for Agriculture should keep before him in regard to agricultural policy as a whole is the most profitable utilisation of our resources for the individual farmer and the nation. In not forcing on Irish farmers a price that he did not regard as profitable, I think he was merely doing his duty.

Disclaiming all pretensions to expert knowledge in the matter of flax, I still think that it might be useful for a layman to intervene. Unless I am misunderstanding the Bill entirely, it seems to me that it merely maintains a free market and leaves the people free to grow flax and to sell flax or not to grow and sell flax. If that is the purpose of the Bill, there is not much in it to criticise. I am rather disappointed at the view taken by Senator Douglas. He told us that flax is grown here, scutched here and sold to the Northern spinners. Our mills must then buy the spun yarn back from the North. Having woven it into linen, they then send it back to the North and market it through the North.

Oh, no, I did not say that. It is quite a different thing to have an office where you meet your buyers.

I thought it was negotiated through the North as the North has the world market. I thought he said that the market for linen is in the North and that we send it to the North. Whether we send it physically to the North or not it is marketed for us in the North.

It is quite incorrect to say that it is marketed for us in the North. Two at least of the firms here have subsidiary offices in Belfast where they sell their goods just as English or Belfast firms have offices here. Where the buyers go is the proper place to offer your wares. Sometimes goods are sent there for special finishing but in the main linen goods made here are despatched from here.

I am glad that that has been made clear, as others also might have been inadvertently misled.

I do not know that we should adopt Senator Baxter's policy and look into the till every year and see which crop pays the most without taking a longer view. We should not say: "If flax does not pay, stop flax production". If you stop flax production, you are killing the remnants of the linen industry. You have no market in the North if you have nothing to market, and the spinners in the North may say that they have only enough for their own mills and refuse to supply us in future. I think it misguided to say that we should only look at which crop gives a penny or twopence more. Flax is a raw material. Oats may be converted into oatmeal with a very small amount of processing—though it adds considerably to the cost to the producer—you can grow potatoes, cabbage or beet and sell them with a very small amount of processing, but flax requires considerable processing work and gives a great deal of employment. The flax as it leaves West Cork, Donegal or Cavan is of very small value compared to the linen which eventually reaches America, and the difference between the raw flax and the finished linen is a matter of the human labour put into it. When we have the remnants of an industry in this country we should do something to preserve it. I am not blaming Senator Baxter or the Minister. The Minister is not killing the flax industry, as he is leaving people free to grow and sell flax if it suits their economy. If for one year or two years, however, something does not seem to pay, we should not take the attitude of saying: "It does not pay me this year, and I do not care what the results are for the country as a whole". We have a linen industry which we could develop, and I would not be satisfied with a linen industry here until we had a spinning mill. Senator Douglas said that a spinning mill here could not provide the number and variety of yarns required.

We did not depend on one mill when Ireland was out divided.

We had spinning mills for linen and I do not see why we could not have them now. We have spinning mills for cotton, which is imported into the country, and we can spin wool, so I do not see why we should not have a linen mill. It might not suit the weavers to have a spinning mill here but before we abandon flax altogether we should see whether we could not do something to improve the growing of flax and have it woven into linen. We should try to develop a home market as well as a foreign market in order to make it profitable. I am not satisfied that there is no market for Irish linen in Ireland. It is practically impossible to buy linen in Ireland. Senator Douglas may laugh at that as he sells it by the 1,000 yard bale straight to America, but if I have to go into a shop, as he has not, to look for half a dozen linen handkerchiefs, a linen shirt or linen sheets, in nine out of ten shop they have not or if they have they ask a prohibitive price. The market is killed by the fact that you cannot buy it. We should have that market here as we dressed in linen before we dressed in cotton, and we could use linen if the linen weavers set themselves to meet the Irish market. If you do get linen here, you will be told that it has been brought from Northern Ireland.

I do not think that the flax-growing industry is being killed by the Bill. Senator Baxter spoke of encouraging this crop or that crop, but the Government cannot encourage the growing of any crop except by giving a guaranteed price or a subsidy. That is the only way. It is not suggested that the Government should give a subsidy to the flax growers in order to sell it in Northern Ireland. You could hardly ask this Government to subsidise a Northern industry as sometimes they are reluctant to subsidise our own industries. The only encouragement they could give would be to see that more flax is used in linen goods here and to see that the home market is developed as well as the foreign market and then in the end the spinners of flax would buy it.

I agree very largely with what Senator O'Farrell has said. Before I start at all, I would like to admit that my knowledge of the flax industry is very small. I certainly would not have any hesitation whatever in accepting the word of Senator Douglas who, as far as one end of the industry is concerned, knows more about flax than the rest of the House put together. I was rather disappointed at Senator Baxter's attitude. I thought that coming from that area he would be able to enlighten us and I admit that I came into this House quite prepared to be instructed and enlightened on the flax industry. There may be some good excuses for discouraging the growing of flax, but surely to goodness, we have not reached the stage when we are going to accept Senator Baxter's explanation of why flax growing should not be encouraged. Senator Baxter said that we have a problem, a problem to grow food and that the land on which flax is grown could be more profitably used for the growing of oats, potatoes or other crops.

Might I point out that within the past couple of years the area under cultivation in this country has gone down by 350,000 acres? I am not suggesting that much of that land did not need refreshing or going back to grass to give it a chance to recuperate. That land was under cultivation during the war producing crops, relying on its reserves, if you like, but now we have reached a stage where we can get artificial manures and feed cattle in our sheds to produce farmyard manure for it. There must be some arguments against the growing of flax other than those put up by Senator Baxter that we need the land for other purposes. We could grow flax and, at the same time, grow all the potatoes we would need in this country. Senator Baxter also went so far as to say that farmers were discouraged from the growing of oats by the Fianna Fáil party. Far from doing anything of the kind, the policy of Fianna Fáil has been since its foundation, and it still is, to encourage the growing of everything we can possibly grow which would be needed in the future for man and beast in this country, so that I think that cock will not fight, so to speak.

We were told that the people were discouraged from the growing of oats. The fact of the matter is that people were encouraged to grow oats by the present Government and the present Minister for Agriculture but when it came to the point of finding a market for the oats, I say, deliberately, that somebody had to die to find a market. When I say that I mean that it took the Donegal by-election to get them a market, and were it not for the fact that somebody died and caused that by-election, a market would never have been provided, and the farmers would have been left with the oats on their hands.

I feel that we should not discourage the people from growing flax—that in fact we should encourage them to grow a certain quantity of flax so that as Senator O'Farrell said, we should at least ensure that we will retain a skeleton organisation to meet our requirements in the case of another war. It has been pointed out by Government spokesman that far more profitable crops than flax can be produced. As I said at the outset, I know very little about flax, but I do know that there are farmers in my part of the country in the dairying business for many years, and several so-called experts went along to them and told them they must give up the dairying business.

They were told there were far more profitable ways of utilising their land than producing milk to sell at Xd. per gallon in the local creamery. But, the people who were brought up in that business, their traditional occupation, refused to give up and because they stuck to their traditional occupation, they weathered the storm, and lived through the hardest years. They got on their feet because they stuck to their traditional work, they knew about and learned to do when they were children. As I say, I believe we should retain at least the nucleus of the flax industry in the country. As Senator Douglas pointed out, there has been a great misunderstanding of the position of the linen industry. A great many people do not know its real position. If you asked them where it was they would be almost certain to tell you that the whole linen industry was concentrated in the Six Counties.

That is not so, as Senator Douglas has pointed out. I believe it should be emphasised more often that we have had the linen industry in Dublin and various other towns, and as one Senator pointed out, it went down to the West, and there is a linen hall in Loughrea. I never heard that before, but I do know that in practically every farm I am familiar with there is a field they call "the flax field". Flax was grown widely perhaps 100 or more years ago, and even to-day a little bit of flax is being grown in various parts of the country. I believe we should continue that industry and encourage people to grow flax instead of discouraging them. It might be suggested that in encouraging them we must be prepared to provide a subsidy. The fact is that farmers in the flax-growing areas are prepared to carry on flax growing on their own even though they are not getting a fortune out of it. They ask for no more assistance than the people of any industry are entitled to expect from the people of their own country.

If somebody could produce the tea leaf here—it has been tried and might eventually succeed, although I doubt very much if anybody could produce tea successfully here—then the man who tries it is entitled to get all the help possible from the Department of Agriculture or the Department of Industry and Commerce. I have been in various businesses from time to time in the course of my life and I am inclined to agree that Senator Hawkins was justified in what he said regarding the negotiations carried on by the Minister for Agriculture. Most people here have been in business of some kind or another. I myself since I was a child have gone to the fair to sell and to buy stock. Later on I sold distilleries—at least I thought I sold them—but I never in my life told the man with whom I was dealing to have a running jump at himself. I do not want to misquote the Minister for Agriculture, but speaking in the Dáil on the 8th March he said:—

"I said in this House that I regarded a proposal of that nature from the Northern Ireland Spinners as impudent and insolent and that I told them to go and take a running jump at themselves."

The position with the Minister for Agriculture is that if anyone disagrees with him he tells them that they are impudent and insolent. He said to me last week that I was bumptious and impudent. However, we cannot keep track of all the things like that he says.

Poetic licence.

If that is the way to make a bargain I know nothing about making bargains. The matter ought to be approached in a different manner and if a representative group of spinners from Northern Ireland come down here to make a deal we ought to approach those men as any business man would approach other business men. I am quite sure that if some of the Northern spinners came down to make some kind of deal with Senator Douglas he would not tell them that he would not do business with them because he did not like their Lancashire accents. I doubt very much if the Minister could run his own business in that fashion. So far as my own experience goes, the only difficulty I had in dealing with those who came to buy Locke's Distillery was to try to find the proper type of polite language to use when I was speaking a foreign language, and to convey to those people that I was inclined to do business with them. The same thing applies to every other business.

Long ago when Senator Counihan came to buy cattle from me when I was, as he described me, a child in short pants, I asked him £20 a head for the cattle and he bid me £15. I did not tell him to take a running jump at himself just because he had a Kerry accent, although at the time I had no reason to like Kerry people. Instead I said: "No, I am very sorry; I can't sell at that price." He said: "I will give you £16." After discussing £17 per head, we finally came to the point and someone intervened and said: "We will divide the £", and the bargain was fixed. That is the way business is done, and to my mind that is the only way any kind of business can be carried out.

My view is that any Government or any Minister in this country would be on pretty sound lines in encouraging any industry which is based on agriculture. So long as we have industries based on agriculture we are always sure of our raw materials. With many other industries we have to go to foreign lands raw materials. This flax-growing industry may not make a fortune, and if it has not a prosperous future ahead of it, it at least has a glorious past. I believe that as long as we meet people who are seeking to buy our flax as gentlemen, and treat them as gentlemen, we can make a bargain with them, but there is no use in flying in their faces and abusing them when they come to try to do business.

I happen to know a little about the growing of flax and I would say that Senator Baxter easily knows more about it than anybody in this House. As to the ultimate fate of the flax, Senator Douglas knows more about the finishing end of it than anyone else, but we must recognise that the growing of flax is a tradition in three counties, Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal, and that it is also produced in a portion of Cork. People who grow flax have been producing it for generations and it is open to the criticism that it is a very slavish crop in the pulling, washing, scutching and so on through all the processes until it arrives at the premises of Senator Douglas or whoever is handing it.

I agree with Senator O'Farrell that flax is a very valuable dollar-producing commodity and so long as it is, we should make every effort, even by way of giving a subsidy, to retain that industry in those three counties and in Cork, because of the international uncertainty of the moment and the knowledge that we will want a lot of dollars definitely in 1952. I think that the Minister or the Department of Agriculture should seriously consider subsidising the crop in the three counties it is grown in at the present time if for no other reason than that eventually we would be able to obtain dollars from America, where most of the products are sold.

For these reasons the matter should be considered by the Minister. Without casting any reflection on the Minister, I feel that it has not been handled as diplomatically as it should have been, and if there was set up an all-Party committee of this House to examine the position and report back, we would find that the majority of that committee would recommend that we should ask these people who have been growing flax in these three or four counties to continue to do so and that a certain price should be guaranteed. The cost to the Exchequer would not be very great, but I think it will be very hard to get people in these counties to give up the growing of flax until they are more than satisfied that it is totally uneconomic.

Captain Orpen

It seems to be assumed that the only difference in the price offered by the Northern flax-spinners to our growers and the price offered to the Six-County growers was the difference of the subsidy, but I understand that the Northern spinners offered our growers a lower price than they were prepared to pay for the same grade of flax grown in the Six Counties, without the addition of subsidy. I should like to know if that is correct, because, from statements made by one or two Senators, it seems to me that they are quite prepared to see the Minister for Agriculture asking the farmers here to accept a lower price than their fellow farmers in Northern Ireland, to be relegated to the position of hewers of wood and drawers of water for the benefit of the North.

Be that as it may, I think Senator Baxter made a rather convincing case that we should think twice about advising—not encouraging—our farmers to continue to grow flax, when the only period in which it is a really remunerative crop is in war time. We grew flax in Wexford during the 1914-18 war. We grew a very considerable area under flax and it is quite interesting to see that area to-day. It was good land and nobody has ever succeeded in getting it back to its former condition. Flax grown over a period of years seems to take a lot out of the land and the land does not easily recover. I suggest that it is true to-day that crops other than flax offer a greater opportunity to the farmer of adequate remuneration. However, if, in the interest of the manufacturer, the community is prepared to subsidise the growing of flax, it is a different thing; but I cannot see why our farmers should be asked, for the benefit of others, to grow a crop which they do not find remunerative. Farmers are not in any position to be philanthropists. If, in the interests of the nation, it is desirable to encourage the growing of flax, let the nation do the encouraging. I do not see that it should fall to the lot of the farmers to carry the burden.

I do not think it is right to say that flax growing has been discouraged. The Minister put the facts before the Dáil when he discussed this matter last year and explained the circumstances which had arisen in which the Board of Trade no longer conducted the negotiations for the pur- chase of flax, that these negotiations were now carried on directly by the Northern spinners and the growers. When the situation changed, the Northern spinners immediately offered for the 1949 crop a reduction of 2/6. The price, when first announced, was in respect of the crop grown in the Twenty-Six Counties, and subsequently they announced that the price to be paid to the Six-County growers would exceed the prices paid for the previous year's crop.

Senator Orpen has asked if the difference is more than the difference in subsidy. It is. The subsidy for 1949 was 7/4½d. a stone, and the difference in price was approximately 12/-.

What were the two price for grade 5?

Grade 5 was 28/- and 40/-. That includes the subsidy. I think it is reasonable to grow a crop if it pays the producer, but it is equally true that, in this case, where a lower price was offered to our growers and at the same time an increased price was offered to the Six-County growers, we were justified in saying that that approach to negotiation was not conducive to agreement. I think it is right to say, when Senator Quirke discusses the question of a bargain, that however you may treat a person who comes to make a bargain with you, before you reach an agreement you have at least some intention of travelling in the same direction. In this case, the spinners in Northern Ireland travelled in one direction when they were coming down here, and travelled in the opposite direction when they were dealing with the growers in the North. To that extent, the possibility of agreement was remote, because the initial basis on which agreement might be found was already vitiated by the approach of the Northern spinners.

It is well to bear in mind the factors which Senator Douglas mentioned, that we have in this country a long and a successful tradition of linen weaving, and that that tradition is not confined to the Six Counties, though that for some reason or another it is generally associated with them, I suppose because of the fact that the largest production units are in the Six Counties. Everyone is familiar with the high quality of the linen produced in this country. We are equally well aware of the factor linen is as a dollar-earner, and the potentialities there are of increased dollar earnings by means of increased exports of linen goods. We appreciate from experience how Americans and other travellers to this country are anxious to buy linen goods. The linen cloths and other goods of that nature such as handkerchiefs that are provided on sale are appreciated by the Americans who come here.

I feel that there are possibilities in that sphere if we exploit them, but it is only right to say that a crop of this nature has flourished only during war periods. It was the universal experience that during the first Great War the growing of flax prospered because of the demand for flax and the increased use of linen. Similarly, during the 1939/45 war the same increased use resulted in an increased acreageWhen we meet a situation in which the price has dropped and when the Six-County growers are offered such a substantially higher price, even allowing for subsidy, it is reasonable to explain the situation to our growers and then if it is possible in the future to get more beneficial terms it will be equally possible for growers to produce a crop which provides a remunerative return.

Does not the Parliamentary Secretary know that up to the first World War the Northern spinners bought the bulk of their flax from Russia and that the market has never been open for them since?

If the Northern spinners want to buy flax down here I am sure the people will grow it, if they pay the same price as is paid in the North. There is a good deal to be said for the point of view expressed by Senator Orpen, Senator Baxter and Senator Fitzsimons, that flax is a reasonably difficult crop. I suppose any crop requires attention and cultivation, but a crop which is likely to provide a remunerative market one year and vary as conditions vary is not one which farmers generally tend to grow in large quantities. If other crops provide a more remunerative return, farmers are more likely to avail of the better return.

The proposal in this Bill is to suspend the 1936 Act for an indefinite period, but it may be revived at any time by a Government Order. Senator Hawkins thought that it might be preferable to suspend it for a definite period. I think that there is no great force in that, as it is open to the Government at any time to revive the Act by Order. If a member of either House feels the matter should be discussed, and wishes to revive the Act, then a motion may be put down and the Government's attention drawn to it. To that extent I think that the present Bill as phrased in Section 1 is more satisfactory. I agree with Senators that it is probably not helpful to have a discussion which naturally gets publicity and the attendant publicity on matters where negotiations are concerned or on the factors in volved in negotiations very often is not of any considerable assistance to those concerned. I suggest that the Bill in its present form is the most satisfactory way of dealing with the situation.

Before the Parliamentary Secretary concludes, would he be able to give us an explanation as to what the position would be if the Bill were not suspended and if he has information as to what the acreage under flax was last year and the proposed acreage would be this year?

The acreage last year was 15,000. If this Bill is not passed, the 1936 Act comes into force, and, under that Act, the Minister is obliged to make Orders fixing minimum prices. In fact, when the 1936 Act was in operation the minimum prices fixed were always lower than the price received, and, consequently, there was no obligation on the Minister to meet the difference or make any payment.

Would it not be possible for the Minister to make an Order fixing a minimum price?

In practice it would be, but I do not think it is desirable. It is better to approach it on a realistic basis.

It is a bit late now to deal with the farmers, as every man willing to sow would have the seed in by this time.

This does not prevent any farmer. He is free to sow.

Will the individual farmers have to deal with the spinners?

The flax growers will always be at the mercy of the spinners.

Question put and agreed to.
Agreed to take remaining stages today.
Bill put through Committee and reported without amendment.
Question proposed: "That the Bill be received for final consideration."

I am indebted to Senator S. O'Farrell for his comments because it appears to me that some remarks that I made, which were meant more as an aside, could have caused a certain amount of misunderstanding. He is under the impression that I said that the linen weavers who operate at the moment in the Twenty-Six Counties sold their goods only in Belfast. That would be quite incorrect. They have the usual methods of sale. One, I know, has a share of a warehouse in New York. I know one at least will be represented at the Chicago Fair. I know that they have agents and offices in towns in England as well as in Belfast. I only made that remark, more or less as an aside to the effect that the two reasons why so many people did not realise that there is a linen weaving industry in the Twenty-Six Counties were (1) that buyers come from abroad, mainly to Belfast and (2) that they would prefer to be Irish and not Twenty-Six-County. I want to emphasise, if I may, that this has always been treated as an Irish industry and as Irish as a whole. It is significant that you will not find our friends from the Six Counties going to America to sell Ulster linen. They sell Irish linen. We do not propose to change over and sell anything different. We do not sell Dublin linen or Drogheda linen. We sell Irish linen.

The main difficulty at the particular moment is due to Partition. I do not accept Partition as permanent and do not believe it will be permanent. I would be sorry to see steps taken now of a somewhat panicky character which would create difficulty for what is a traditionally Irish industry, not simply Irish in a partial sense, but Irish completely. Flax was grown, scutched, finished, spun and woven here and finally finished, so that you had one of the very few industries of which practically every process could be done with what was available in the country. It is a difficult industry. It has had its ups and downs. It has had an artificial but unsatisfactory boom during war periods because there is a demand for linen but it is a demand only for certain types and during that period the trade as a whole suffers. After the 1914-18 war there was a slump which not only affected flax growing but some weavers and spinners went out of business. What may happen in the next few years, I cannot tell. What I want to beg is that all Parties and the Government will look on this thing without preconceived ideas, will watch the position and bear in mind that it is an Irish industry.

The only quarrel I have with Senator Orpen is that he said it should not be grown to help the North. I object to that phrase. I would not mind helping the North but this is a case where you are helping an Irish industry.

I would like to join in the views put forward by Senator Douglas. Particularly, I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary, and through him the Department of Agriculture, to keep a close watch on the flax position and to reinstate this Act as soon as they find that it will be of any benefit. The last reply I had to the question that I put to the Parliamentary Secretary forces me, and I am sure many others, into the belief that the suspension of the Act is merely for the purpose of relieving the Minister for Agriculture and the Department of Agriculture of a certain responsibility. I can quite see that the fixing of a price would be of little use if there was not some means of making good the price to the persons who may engage in the particular activity, but still it would give some basis on which they might go in any negotiations that they or any organisation concerned might enter into. Senators who are closely associated with and interested in the maintenance and development of this industry have given expression to the view that it is only as a result of wars that this industry thrives. That statement may be correct in regard to recent years. To my mind, it is the change of fashion and the availability of other materials and cheaper materials that have brought about the position that it is only in war years that this commodity has the market that one would like it to have. It is quite possible that, with modern development, if the national Government interest themselves, and with the development of a market in America, the industry may thrive. We should do everything we can to encourage it, particularly in view of the fact, as Senator Quirke has pointed out, that the raw material for the industry comes from the land.

Senator Baxter suggested that the farmer should take into consideration what crop paid him and what crop did not. I put it, not from any Party political point of view, but because I think it is the proper national approach, that what we want is a long-term agricultural policy as well as a long-term industrial policy. When we encourage farmers to adopt a particular type of production, the policy should not be changed overnight. They should not be told on the 1st January of one year that they should grow extensively oats and potatoes, only to be told on the 1st January of the succeeding year that that was a mistake, that there was no market, and that they should change over to wheat or some other crop.

I want to put it again to Senator Baxter, because the statement has also been made in the Dáil, that the chief cause of the reduction in the acreage of oats was the failure to find a market for the extensive acreage of oats grown in the year 1948. It was not possible to find the market at the time the people required the money and wanted to make the sale. The farmers concerned did not grow oats in the following year. Senator Baxter and other Senators know that if a farmer cultivates a particular crop to meet the rent or rates at a particular time and fails to realise his assets and to meet his obligations in that way he will certainly not grow the same crop the following year.

Therefore, I will say in conclusion that we should not accuse one Party or another of trying to sabotage this scheme or that scheme because that is a two-edged sword which one could wield for a long time, but let us bring about a position where we will be able to put a long-term policy before the community as a whole, both farmers and those who are engaged in industry. Let us assure them that no matter what Party or groups of Parties form the Government, promises given by the Government of the day will be given effect to by whatever Government comes into power after them.

Very briefly I should like to make a few remarks. I am glad that Senator Douglas explained exactly what he meant, because his statement was misunderstood by me and maybe by others. I should like to explain more clearly my attitude on this matter. The difficulty we are in at the moment is in connection with the price of flax, and the price of flax is fixed by the spinners, whether they are in Northern Ireland or in Timbuctoo. Neither the Government nor the flax growers nor the flax milling people who do the scutching can fix the price unless the spinners in Northern Ireland arc prepared to buy it. Whether we have 15,000 or 150,000 acres under flax, the price is the price that will be paid in Northern Ireland by the Northern Ireland spinners. If that is not satisfactory our people must either take it or ask the Government on this side for a subsidy or stop flax production altogether. I am not satisfied that that is a position which we should regard with equanimity. If the spinners of Northern Ireland can now decide whether it will be remunerative and profitable to grow flax or not they might also decide to close our spinning mills by refusing to sell us yarn or by offering it at such prohibitive prices that our mills could not spin it.

Since we grow flax and weave it into linen we should aim at a complete industry by having the ability to weave it into yarn as well. When that point was made, Senator Baxter intervened to say that that would cost about £1,000,000. I do not care what the cost would be because, at the moment, our linen industry could be made to collapse by people on the other side of the Border. It would be no argument in Senator Baxter's opinion if I said that, because the drainage and reclamation of land was going to cost £1,500,000, we should leave it under water. The same rules must apply to everything and to every person. Senator Baxter says that the farmer has a right to say whether the people of the country will be supplied with flax for the linen industry or not, whether they will be supplied with oats or left without it and whether they will be supplied with milk or left without it; that it is all a matter for the producer, and that the interests of nobody else must be considered. That is a good argument if the people are prepared to accept it. If the manufacturers of the country say some day that it does not suit them to make suits, shirts, boots or anything else which Senator Baxter wants, and that he must dress in sheepskins of his own, he would say that that is very uneconomic and unpatriotic. If farm workers say they will go to England and work for £7 a week rather than work on the land at home for 25/- 30/- or 35/- a week, they have the same moral right to say it—if any moral right is involved—as Senator Baxter has to say that the people will eat oats or go hungry or wear imported cotton because he is not prepared to grow flax. You cannot have one rule, one set of commandments, for one man and another set of commandments for another. If we take too short-sighted a view of our problem, forgetting our neighbours and the national good, we will be in for trouble. We should take the long view.

The Bill does not give power to set up a flax-spinning industry. But I should like to point out the weakness of the present position, that is, that we must sell our flax at the prices which the Northern Ireland spinners will pay and we must buy our yarn from them at the prices which they ask. If they refuse to sell it they can close down the four or five linen-weaving mills in this part of the country and that would be a bigger loss to the country than £1,000,000.

Senator Baxter rose.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I hope that we are not going to have a Second Beading debate again.

I was just going to say that I was not going to engage in that, but I think I am entitled to make a comment on the meanings that were taken from my statement. Senator O'Farrell has an amazing facility for distorting what you say or for misunderstanding it—I do not know which and I do not want to be unfair. In the first place may I say that the spinners in the Six Counties are not the only people who provide yarns? Yarns can be bought on the Continent, in Belgium, if we can provide the exchange, if the spinners of the Six Counties arc not prepared to sell to us. Inquiries have been made with regard to providing this part of the country with equipment for a complete linen industry and it would need an investment of £1,000,000. That may be of no account whatever to Senator O'Farrell——

Not the slightest because I will not invest in it as I have nothing to invest.

If you are going to spend £1,000,000 in capital on an undertaking you have to look on the other side of the question and see what you are going to sell, to whom you are going to sell, and the capacity of the market to absorb the produce you are going to supply. I am not going to get into a discussion on that matter now : I was merely pointing to that fact.

The other comment I would like to make is that I did not say—and I do not want to be represented as having said it because I do not believe it— that the farmer should be the arbiter of what he should do with his land regardless of the necessities of the community. What I did say was that the advice which the Minister for Agriculture would tender to the farmers should be advice that would take cognisance of the profit ability of the cultivation of whatever area the farmers were prepared to put under tillage and also of the well-being of the community. That is what the Minister for Agriculture has to study. That is what I said, and that is what I believe. I have pointed to the fact that the fullest utilisation of our soil resources was the approach the Minister must and should make to the agricultural policy. Who in his senses in this country would suggest that farmers in the production of crops must not take account of the needs of our own people?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I am afraid that this is a Second Beading speech. There is no mention in the Bill of linen mills at all.

It should be in it.

People who preceded me were permitted to make speeches and I want to make corrections lest these misrepresentations or misunderstandings be left on the record of the House in regard to my point of view.

Question put and agreed to.
Ordered: That the Bill be returned to the Dáil.
The Seanad adjourned at 9.40 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19th.