Land Bill, 1949—Second Stage.

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

The provisions of this Land Bill will, I feel sure, meet with the approval of Senators. The Bill is proposed as another chapter in the Land Acts. Its purpose is to remove inequities from the existing law and to speed up the work of the Land Commission for the elimination of rural slums and the conversion of uneconomic farms throughout the country into workable economic holdings. This work has been in hands for a great number of years but it needs a new stimulant to carry it forward with reasonable speed to the ultimate success to which we confidently look forward.

The salient provisions of this Bill deal with the question of a fair and just price for owners whose land has necessarily to be taken over by the Land Commission. These provisions are contained in Sections 5 and 7 of the Bill. For a long time, particularly in the Seanad, it has been argued that the existing statutory basis of price-fixation for land acquired by the Land Commission, is unfair and unjust. Two unsuccessful private Land Bills were introduced in the Seanad for the changes now proposed in Sections 5 and 7 of this Bill. I look forward to a sympathetic reception of the Bill by Senators, if only because of this important victory for a better price which is enshrined in Sections 5 and 7.

For the future whenever land has to be acquired under the Land Acts for the common good, the owner can rest assured that he will be paid a price equal to the market value of the land, and he will no longer have to redeem his land annuity out of his purchase price. In exceptional cases, where extraordinary disturbance or damage would result from compulsory acquisition, the Land Commission will henceforth be able to include in the purchase price, in addition to the market value, an extra sum as compensation for the disturbance or damage caused to the owner by the compulsory acquisition. The provisions of Sections 5 and 7 will equate the basis of price-fixation for acquired land to the basis of price-fixation for land resumed from tenants. Price-fixation in the latter type of case has given complete satisfaction.

In the other House, some criticism was aimed by the Opposition at these provisions because the term "market value" is used in the Bill and not "market price," and also because the term is not defined. In these respects, the Bill follows exactly the precedent in Section 39 of Land Act, 1939, which dealt with the price of resumed land and also in Senator Counihan's private Land Bill of 1946. I am entirely satisfied that this minor criticism against Sections 5 and 7 is quite unsound and that these sections, as they appear in the Bill, will provide a workable and just system for the future.

The second important feature of the Bill is the proposal in Section 26 that the Land Commission should be enabled to purchase land in the open market, for the provision of migrants' holdings or to facilitate rearrangement of holdings which are held in rundale or detached plots. The Land Commission badly require land for these purposes. The process of compulsory acquisition is unavoidably slow and the land which is acquirable under compulsory methods is usually underdeveloped and ill-fitted for speedy allotment. It is estimated that some 200,000 to 250,000 acres of land come on the market for sale each year. This stream of land has never been tapped by the Land Commission although it is bound to contain a number of holdings which would be eminently suitable for the special purposes of migration and rearrangement. Many such holdings are purchasable from time to time as going concerns and I know they will prove to be as desirable if not more desirable propositions than the holdings which have to be carved out of acquired estates and fitted up with new dwellings, out-offices, fences and so on. Moreover, these holdings which are offered for sale are no longer required by the owners and no question of hardship to such owners could possibly arise, were the Land Commission to become the purchaser.

Relief of acute congestion is very desirable from a national point of view and the Government is determined to press on with all possible measures towards elimination of this evil. As an experiment, it is accordingly proposed in Section 26 to authorise the Land Commission to purchase suitable holdings which are offered for sale. In the other House, some fears were expressed that this experiment is a dangerous one, likely to lead either to inflation or deflation or worse—if that were possible. Notwithstanding the doleful prophets, I refuse to be pessimistic. I believe this experiment has good chances of success and that it deserves to be encouraged by all persons who are sincerely concerned in the relief of congestion. I assured the other House and I repeat in this House, that if this experiment should by any chance give rise to evils, I shall require the Land Commission to desist immediately from further operations under Section 26.

The next important features of the Bill are the provisions in Sections 11 to 17 concerning the Land Commission and the Minister. The Land Act of 1933 set out to bring the Department of Lands into line with other Government Departments by bringing the Land Commission under the direction and control of the Minister for Lands in all but seven exceptional matters. These matters were called "excepted matters" and they were confined to transactions impinging on the acquisition and allotment of land. In deciding whose land shall be acquired, or who will be allotted land, or what price must be paid, or whether a particular landholder has worked his land properly, the commissioners have remained, and continue to remain under this Bill, independent of the Minister.

In all other matters, which we may for convenience call "non-excepted matters", the lay commissioners, since 1933, have been subject to the Minister's control and direction. In this respect, experience has shown that the 1933, Act is very defective. In the first place, it has proved desirable to extend the scope of the commissioners' independent jurisdiction and Section 11 of the Bill prescribes a total of 14 excepted matters, instead of the seven which were prescribed in the Land Act, 1933. With one substantial variation, all the seven original "excepted matters" are repeated in the present Bill.

I mentioned earlier my keen desire to bring speedy relief to acutely congested areas, particularly those afflicted with the evils of rundale or holdings in detached plots. The lot of any smallholder is unenviable even at the best of times, but the lot of the smallholder whose livelihood depends upon the hard-won scanty produce of scattered patches of land, often to the number of 20 or 30 detached plots per holding, is deplorable. Holdings in this condition are numerous throughout the West of Ireland and their rearrangement is a matter of extreme urgency. A group of such inter-related holdings may belong to, say, 15 tenants, and, before their holdings can be successfully rearranged, it is necessary for the Land Commission inspector to obtain the goodwill and agreement of every single tenant of the 15 because each of them will be expected to surrender for a neighbour's benefit part of the land to which he is legally entitled and which he has worked and tried to improve to the best of his ability.

Experience has shown that rearrangement schemes for this type of holding must be implemented quickly after the tenants accept the proposals. If any delay occurs, some one or other of the tenants is likely to be misguided by bad advice from prejudiced or irresponsible outsiders. As a result, he will retract his agreement—possibly in the hope that he can drive a harder bargain by holding his neighbours, as it were, up to ransom. A few weeks delay could thus frustrate a very meritorious scheme and nullify the work of an inspector which may have extended over several months.

There is only one practicable solution for this problem, that is, to give local senior inspectors of the Land Commission the necessary legal authority to approve of rearrangement schemes in such cases. This was the practice adopted very successfully by the former Congested Districts Board. I have no hesitation in taking a headline from the board in this matter, and I have, accordingly, proposed in Section 11, sub-section (1) to remove rearrangement schemes from the category of "excepted matters" which are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the commissioners, so that I may pass on the necessary authority to the senior inspectors of my Department who are fully conversant with all phases of the problem and will be on the spot to give speedy decisions. I am convinced that there is absolutely no danger in this proposal, and that it is the only practicable way to speed up this urgent work.

Section 11 will also enable the Minister to act on his own authority, in all non-excepted matters, as is the common practice for other Ministers in their own Departments. In addition, Section 11 will enable the setting up of a system of delegated responsibilities within the Department for matters of a routine nature which are well within the competence of the permanent officials. This is in full accord with the practice in other Departments and it should speed up considerably the working of the Department of Lands.

Changes in the volume and types of work of the Land Commission, which have occurred since 1933, make it absolutely essential to reorganise the Land Commission at this stage. At present, the commission consists of a High Court judge, who is called the "Judicial Commissioner", and six lay commissioners. Before 1933, the Judicial Commissioner dealt with all appeals, but, since 1933, the appeals, except on questions of law, have been decided by an appeal tribunal consisting of the Judicial Commissioner and two lay commissioners. The number of appeals has declined very much in recent years. For the years from 1934 to 1938, the number of appeals and applications to the appeal tribunal averaged 470 a year, but the corresponding figure in recent years has only been about 47 a year, representing a reduction of 90 per cent. There was an increase in the number of cases last year but it is quite obvious that the number of appeals and applications to the appeal tribunal will remain very much lower than it was during the years immediately following the setting up of the tribunal in 1934.

This decline in the number of appeals has left the lay commissioners of the tribunal with insufficient work. They cannot deal with the ordinary work of the commission as long as they remain on the tribunal, and the only solution is to detach these two lay commissioners from the tribunal, leaving the Judicial Commissioner sole arbiter of appeals, as was the position prior to 1934. Section 13 of the Bill makes provision along these lines. The two lay commissioners to be detached from the tribunal will thus be enabled to assist with the ordinary work of the lay commissioners. They will retain their present salaries and tenure of office.

Sections 14 and 15 prescribe retiring ages for future and existing commissioners. Future lay commissioners are to retire at 65 years of age. It is proposed to suppress the posts of two lay commissioners who have passed 71 years, and compensation will be payable in these two cases. The remaining four existing lay commissioners are to retire at 72 years of age. For the future the maximum number of lay commissioners is to be fixed at four.

Among the minor matters in the Bill is the provision in Section 28 to enable the Land Commission to pay gratuities to labourers on estates who lose their employment through the operations of the Land Commission. It is only reasonable that such disemployed persons should be compensated. Heretofore they have usually been provided with allotments of land, but they have not always proved suitable as allottees. For the future, the Land Commission will have discretion to give allotments in suitable cases of this kind and to pay gratuities in other cases. I think Senators will agree that this is a very desirable innovation.

For the most part, the remaining provisions of the Bill deal with minor procedural details which require clarification by legislation. Perhaps these matters may best be left over for consideration at a later stage.

In recommending the Bill to the Seanad, I feel that it will bring much benefit to the rural community. Its early enactment will operate also to the advantage of owners whose land has recently been acquired, or is now in process of acquisition. They will get a better price once the Bill is passed. For these reasons I recommend the Bill to this House.

The question of land acquisition and division has held a very important place in Irish political life for many years. Many Land Acts have passed through a foreign Parliament and our native Parliament designed to achieve what every Minister who introduced a Land Bill hoped to achieve, finality on this question. It is an important aspect of Irish life, both socially and economically, that uneconomic holders, particularly in the congested areas, should be relieved. I had hoped that in introducing this Bill the Minister would have given us much more information than he has laid before the House. We would like to have from the Minister a review of the work that has been undertaken in the past, what has been accomplished, the amount of land that has been acquired by the Land Commission and the old Congested Districts Board, how many new holdings were created and the basis of the problem at the present time. We would like to know how many holdings can be termed uneconomic; how many farmers, if they can be classified as farmers, have to be dealt with under the heading of rundale; what amount of land is available for distribution; what, in the Minister's opinion, will in future be considered an economic holding, whether it is 25, 30, 40 or 50 acres.

We have some little information already. We know how many farmers there are in the country. From an examination that I have made, I have ascertained that there are 89,000 holdings of from 15 to 30 acres, 62,000 holdings of from 30 to 50 acres, 50,000 of from 50 to 100 acres, 21,000 of from 100 to 200 acres, and the very modest figure of 7,000 of over 200 acres.

What is the policy of the Land Commission in relation to this big question of land division, taken as a whole? Is it proposed that every holding should become an economic holding of a particular acreage? Are the activities of the Land Commission to continue until such time as we have only holdings of a particular acreage, whether the figure arrived at by the Land Commission is 50, 60, 40 or 25 acres? That is very important and I would have wished that the Minister, in introducing this Bill, would have given us more information in this regard and that we would have had a picture presented to us of the work that the Land Commission is setting out to do and also a picture of what the cost to the nation is estimated to be.

We know that in the past, when the Land Commission acquired an estate, some people maintained that the method of acquisition or the price paid was not just to the owner. A great deal was heard in the past about fair price, fixity of tenure and all the other slogans that were put forward in this and the other House and in other places. We should have had, in the introduction of this Bill, a picture of what the nation would be asked to meet in future.

The first step taken by the Land Commission is a decision to take over a particular holding. That holding is taken over on an agreed price or under compulsory powers but a particular figure is paid. The next step is subdivision of the estate and allotment. An annuity is settled. Under the 1933 Act, the annuities were halved. Therefore, the allottees are called upon to pay, as it were, annuities based on half the price and the country as a whole has to foot the bill for the remainder of the money. The Minister, in introducing the Bill, put forward a special plea that he was going to deal more fairly in future with persons from whom land is acquired than was done under previous Acts. There is a big doubt about that. It is a matter that can best be dealt with on Committee Stage.

The information that I have listed should be supplied in order that we might have a true picture of the work that is before us. For instance, there are 61,000 people with holdings not exceeding one acre, 20,000 people with holdings from one to five acres, 33,000 with from five to ten acres and some 33,000 with holdings of from ten to 15 acres. Is there sufficient land available for the Land Commission to solve the question of congestion by giving to each of these holders a holding of from 25 to 30 or 40 acres? My own personal view is—I am sure some will agree and others will disagree—that no farmer can properly be so called who has to produce on anything less than 35 to 40 acres. I would put it to the Minister that in any directions given to the Land Commission our first aim should be not to make farm labourers out of farmers but, as far as possible, to create as many farms as we can.

That raises another question— whether it is good national policy to divide the whole of the lands of the country into groups of 50 or 60 acres. In putting this plea before the Minister, I do not want to be taken for one moment as being in any way against land division because in the West, as the Minister knows, this question is our greatest headache at all times and our greatest grievance is that the Land Commission in the past have not moved as fast as we would wish them to move and I am sure that will be the case in the future. But, we must approach this from a national point of view and if the divisions that I have suggested were to be made of all the lands of the country—I look forward with interest to Senator Counihan's view on this—I am afraid that not alone would it be bad for the Midlands but also very bad for the western areas. These are points on which we would like to have more information from the Minister.

The Minister also put forward, as an argument in support of his Bill, that it is proposed to pay market value. This matter has been long debated in the Dáil but here again I think we should get from the Minister in this House, and particularly before we reach Committee Stage, some idea of what is meant. I would suggest that the best way to enlighten us as to what the procedure will be would be to give us some examples—(a), where the Land Commission proposes to take over a holding for division amongst the congests of the district, how will the Land Commission arrive at the market value of that particular holding and, (b), when a holding is put up for public auction, is it now proposed that the Land Commission official should attend that auction? The Minister has told us that from 200,000 to 250,000 acres come on the market each year and that no attempt has been made up to this to get that vast amount of land into the hands of the Land Commission. One would be inclined to gather from that statement that the future policy of the Land Commission will be to attend at each auction and there bid against the local interested parties. If that is to be the position, I would like to know from the Minister what provision will be made against puffing at an auction.

We all know that when an auction is held, if it is known that there is a particular buyer present and that particular buyer is the State, with all the resources of the State behind him, there is a danger, not in all cases but in some cases, that there might be a conspiracy entered into so that the price at which the land would be knocked down eventually to the representative of the Land Commission would be far in excess of its value. That is the second category on which we would like a definition of market value. How will the market value be arrived at and what procedure will the Land Commission adopt? The third point on which we would like information is where a landowner proposes to sell his land by private treaty. Will the Land Commission take the latest sale of land in the surrounding district as their precedent? That land, however might fetch a very high price because it was accommodation land for the person who bought it and no one else in the district would be called upon to pay that price. How will the Land Commission guard against that? I put it to the Minister and to the House that where the Land Commission makes an offer under this Bill there will be no change because the 1939 Act provided that the Land Commission should give a price which they considered fair to the owner and fair to the Land Commission. All that was necessary was that the Minister should instruct the Land Commission to take into consideration the advance in the price of land at present in determining the price fair to the Land Commission and to the owner.

According to the Minister's statement in the Dáil, there seems to be some peculiar difference between market value and market price. Where market value is offered by the Land Commission and the owner refuses to accept it, does the Minister propose to use his compulsory powers and say: "The Land Commission have offered you what they consider to be market value—it must be what they consider; you are not prepared to accept it and therefore we will acquire it compulsorily. You have, of course, a certain appeal and on that appeal you may be allowed a small increase or you may not, but we will acquire the land compulsorily, anyway."

Under this Bill the Minister is taking what I consider to be very dangerous powers. The State makes available a considerable sum of money to a State Department to do work of grave national importance. A body is set up known as the Land Commission. They are given certain powers by Parliament, powers given to no other Department in this State, powers to take individuals' property compulsorily and divide it among other members of the community. It is very important that there should not be the slightest suggestion of favouritism and it is most essential that the work should be carried out regardless of any political pressure and without the suggestion of any political pressure. Because of that I regret to see the Minister taking powers under this Bill which were not hitherto in the Land Acts. While it is true that the Land Commission have, on the whole, the greater part of the responsibility, if we carefully consider sections of the Bill we will find that it is possible for the Minister to direct almost any of the Land Commission's activities. We would not, I am sure, give power to the Minister for Industry and Commerce to make available properties or employment to certain persons. We would like to see such things in charge of an independent person. While I do not want to be taken as referring to the Minister personally, we must remember that the Minister is a Deputy first. Under the Constitution, I think, every Minister must be a Deputy or in a very few cases a Senator. That being so, approaches and appeals to him will always be made. Even though he may not succumb to the temptation of giving way to the demands of his supporters, it may be suggested that divisions are made for political reasons. That is a bad thing and I suggest that the Minister should amend the Bill to leave the powers as they were, allowing the Land Commission to acquire, distribute and rearrange holdings. The Minister should carry on as other Ministers before him without any responsibilities which former Ministers had not.

There seems to be some doubt on the question of the Land Commission going into the open market. Will it be necessary to set up another little subdepartment? From my few visits to the Land Commission I came to the conclusion that there were already too many. How will the Minister be informed of holdings which come on the market? He says that 200,000 come on the market each year. Will all the local papers be examined to see how many auctioneers have holdings for sale each week and will an inspector then be sent to each auctioneer to purchase on behalf of the Land Commission? I do not suppose that that will be the procedure. If a person who considers himself an uneconomic holder see his neighbour's holding up for sale because of a death or some other reason, he may consider this a glorious opportunity of improving his position. He takes pen and paper and writes to the Land Commission informing them that John Brown's holding of 25 acres is offered for sale on Tuesday and he asks that an inspector be sent down to purchase this holding. Will that be the system? Some definite system must be adopted and we would like to hear what it will be.

Reading over the Dáil Debates I found another matter on which there appears to be confusion. The Minister stated at the outset that wherever a holding of from ten to 25 acres was offered which could make an adjoining holder economic he proposed to buy it. At another stage he went further and said that where a large holding was offered it would be purchased in the open market and if necessary broken up. Thirdly, he suggested buying a workable holding, with a house and out-offices, I assume, and everything necessary for a migrant from the congested areas. How would such a migrant be chosen if only one is in question? It is easy to deal with the taking over of an estate. Under former regulations the system of division where a holding was taken over was that all the congests within a radius of ten miles were entitled to a portion of the divided land. When you purchase a holding by which only one person can be relieved—possibly one or two others may be relieved as a result of the relief of that one person—how will that one person be chosen? Will the Minister or the Land Commission choose him?

What will the additional cost be to the State? What difference in cost does the Minister expect as result of taking over land in this way rather than under the terms of the Act which provided for a price which the Land Commission considered to be fair to the Land Commission and fair to the owner?

A question which has always baffled me is the basis on which an annuity is arrived at. The Land Commission purchase a holding for a certain amount of money; that holding is subdivided and given to a number of applicants and then an annuity is settled. From time to time answers have been given to this question. The Minister has given answers in the Dáil which no one could consider satisfactory. One was that the annuity was based on what it was considered the incoming tenant could afford to pay. Another was that it was based to a certain degree on the value of lands. If the Land Commission take it on themselves under this Bill to pay a higher price, will that mean that the annuity on the incoming tenant will be higher than on his neighbour who got land under previous Land Acts? If that were so, it would place an unfair burden on one, who could not compete then on equal terms with the other, as he was paying a higher annuity for the same type of land.

The Minister referred to the provisions for compensation. Having acquired the land and agreed on the price, there is provision for compensation; and having agreed on the compensation, there is further provision for damages that may result from the acquisition. This seems to be a bit confused. I take it that these provisions will apply only where land is acquired compulsorily. I can see no justification for paying compensation for disturbance or damages where the land is acquired at what the Commission considers and the owner accepts as the market value. It is an unknown thing that an ordinary purchaser of a farm at market value could enter into a second agreement for compensation and then into a third to provide for damages that may result from taking over that particular portion of land as against the land remaining on in the owner's hands.

The Minister has pointed out also that there is provision for some changes in the tribunal. He stated that provision was made for the retirement of certain commissioners, that in future the retiring age for all would be 65, I think. In particular, he detailed that one commissioner would retire at 61, another at 62 or 63. That arouses a question as to the reason. We would like to know the reason, unless it is for health reasons.

The Minister also referred in his opening speech to Section 28, which provides for employees on an acquired estate. This has always been a very thorny problem, particularly where the estate taken over has been well-worked and has given considerable employment in the past. There may be a number of employees to be dealt with. Under the former Act, provision was made to give them a portion of land. I am sure the Minister has found out that in many cases such persons have not been the most suitable to get a parcel of land. The whole question as to the best type of person is a very difficult one. Large areas have been divided and the former Minister for Lands has come before us to ask authority to take back holdings from allottees. They had been considered by the inspectors, at the time of allotment and after examination of their qualifications, as fit and proper persons to get this present from the State of £600, £800 or £900, the value of a holding at that time. In spite of that, they fell down on the job. Houses had been built for them, but they were not even occupied. It is very difficult to decide who will make a good farmer if he gets the ways and means. It is only by trial and error that you can find that out. In many walks of life, it is difficult to say who is going to be a success. We have seen very well-qualified persons put into responsible posts and they have not carried out the work as well as persons not so well qualified.

A new provision is being made for the payment of a gratuity to employees where an estate is taken over. I agree that where workers are deprived of their livelihood in working in an estate such provision should be made, but if I read the Bill correctly I find that here again it is the function of the Minister to decide the gratuity.

Where is that?

In Section 28, I think, but I will not go into that now.

To clear up the matter, let me say it is the Land Commission that determines the gratuity.

How will the Land Commission determine it? Is it in years of service or according to a man's present position, or whether he is married with a family, or whether the disturbance will be a greater hardship on one than on another, or whether he is one who could take up employment of any kind? On any big estate there are different types of people working. Some have been in that employment for many years and would be unsuitable for other employment. Again, there may be many young people to whom a year's gratuity would mean a lot. A man settled down with a family, having given the best years of his life in the service of the former owner of that estate, is in a difficult position. Up to this, it was possible to compensate him by giving him a holding. We should be very careful in this, as in all matters relating to land division, so that the working of this particular section will not result in the suggestion of greater provision having been made for A. than B.

There is also the question of the right of persons who have been already allocated a holding, to resell that land. That is not right, except where it was an enlargement, in which case one could not deprive a man of the right. Where the State makes a present of a holding to a particular person, in the hope that he will develop it in the interest of himself and of his family, and of the country as a whole, he may become a failure and make up his mind that he could make £800 or £1,000 by selling the land and going into business at the expense of the State. I have seen that happen up to the present and it is time we called a halt to it. Where the Land Commission know that an allottee is not making the best use of the land, according to some set of regulations under which the land can be resumed, whatever provision you might make for giving him a gratuity, I certainly would not give such a person permission to sell what he has got at great cost to the State.

We must realise that the very poorer of our people living in the slums of Dublin, Galway and other places throughout the country, are playing their part, a far greater part, because they are the persons who pay the greatest amount in taxation of every kind.

I take it that the Senator is referring to the landless man who gets a holding.

That would be in one case. Of course, you cannot very well take it from a man who has got it as an enlargement, as it would be very hard to divide and he has a share in it already. It has happened in the past.

What has happened?

That persons—particularly, as the Minister has stated, landless men—have on occasion sold the holdings they got. I think such holding should be resumed by the Land Commission and an attempt made to give someone else a chance. Even if the second person fails, you can try again and you will come to the time when you get someone who makes a good farmer.

We have come to the position now that we can only deal with the congests. The other question—there is no provision made here for it, but it is only rarely that we have the Minister for Lands here—is the provision of houses. I am not at all satisfied that the type of house provided by the Land Commission is the most suitable type for the farmer. I am not at all satisfied with the layout of the land. An estate is taken and a serious attempt is made to keep the houses apart. That means greater expenditure when rural electrification or piped water supply comes along. By a little foresight and imagination, particularly when a large estate is taken over, it should be possible for the qualified persons in the Land Commission to devise a scheme much better than what we have had in the past. We should bring the people as closely as possible into association, so that when the rural electrification, piped water supply and other amenities are made available, that can be done quickly and cheaply. There has been a most determined effort to keep the people apart and to make as many roads through an estate as one could imagine. Much more efficient farm work would be carried out, if a more suitable system were devised.

Regarding fencing on holdings taken by the Land Commission, they have some very old fashioned ideas, erecting what are called, in some parts, mud fencing. I do not know the name in other parts, or what the real Land Commission term is. It amounts to this: that there is a terrible wastage of land. A number of scraws are dug and placed on top of the other, and sometimes furze is sown in order to supplement the fence. You will see the results of these furze sowings scattered all over the countryside. The mearing or moat, or whatever term you apply to it, is destroyed in practically no time and there is no fence at all between adjacent farms with the result that there are all kinds of trouble, generally involving rows between neighbours. All this is caused by the want of some foresight or knowledge of rural life on the part of the people in charge of carrying out these works.

I know that it does not relate so much to this Bill, but this is one of the matters of importance to which the Minister should direct the attention of the Land Commission, and in that way, as well as giving greater benefits to the farmers, there will be big savings of the taxpayers' money. We have heard in the past the old saying about farmers that they left more land idle at the sides and ends of the fields than they actually tilled, and certainly when the Land Commission sets about dividing a holding, those responsible should take every step to see that the land is not wasted and that the fencing of it is properly carried out. I do not wish to say any more at this stage except to ask the Minister to give us, if possible, as much information as he can when he is concluding this debate. It will probably help us very much on the Committee Stage.

I think we may take it from the speech of Senator Hawkins that as far as the Opposition is concerned, there is general acceptance of the principle embodied in the Bill. There have been certain criticisms, no doubt, by him of the work of the Land Commission. These arose on certain sections of the Bill and I think he would understand them better if he gave them more study. I think that the country as a whole will welcome this Bill; certain sections of the people have been waiting for it for a very long time. It is long overdue. Attempts were made in this House when the Fianna Fáil people were in power to secure some measure like this but we all failed. It is true that we had some undertaking from the Minister for Lands of the time that we would get something done, but anyhow, it has remained to his successor to put it into the shape of a Bill and we heartily welcome his effort.

I think I might say, in justice to Senator Hawkins, that the criticism he has offered of the Land Commission of the way they have done their work, the distribution of lands in the past, the necessity for legislation in order to carry out an eviction, the sort of way they did their fencing and the way these fences were broken down, the generally rather unsatisfactory manner in which the Land Commission has been carried on—all that cannot be laid at the door of the present Minister. We do not know just yet how this State body is going to be operated by him. We have seen very little of the land he has distributed, because when he came into the occupancy of his present post, there was very little land available for him to distribute, so that what Senator Hawkins has to say, or what he has said, must be regarded truthfully as criticism of his colleague in his own Party rather than of the Land Commission's efforts under the present Government.

There are three matters dealt with in this Bill. The first, and undoubtedly the most important matter is that of the powers which the Minister is taking to ensure that when he is acquiring land for the purpose of the relief of congestion or for making uneconomic holdings economic, that he is going to pay a fair price. If we call it the market price, as the Minister does, and the Minister carries out the policy, it will be a new policy for the acquisition of land to relieve congestion in the country. Senator Hawkins did say at some part of his speech that there was no change from what was in the 1939 Bill. That Bill contained a provision to give the owner a fair price for his land and to enable the Land Commission to acquire it at a price that was fair to them. That is something that has been repeated many times in this House and in the country and before the Land Courts and we have many a sad example of injustices done under existing legislation. Many good citizens who were in possession of land valued for considerable sums of money were evicted, for that is what it amounted to, and given compensation, as it was called, that was nothing like the market price or nothing like a fair price. The Minister is going to ensure that these wrongs will not be perpetuated.

Senator Hawkins says he is in a difficulty to know what the Minister would define as the market price. How can Senator Hawkins or any of us ask the Minister to define what the market price is going to be in the many sets of circumstances in which the price has to be determined? But, let us take what a normal, rational and sensible man would be willing to pay for land he was going to buy—let it be a fair green or a farm or even a site in Grafton Street. The purchaser is the best judge of the market price and many times we have seen people turning away from a bargain and saying: "That is enough—I will give no more." These people will not pay a single penny above what they consider is the market price. We have heard the comments made in the country after the sale of a farm—"He paid too much for it,""He got it at a fair price" or "It was a very foolish price—he went far beyond the value of it." We hope it will not be charged against the Minister that his Commission has acted foolishly. We hope that he will do what his predecessors in office did not do—that he will give the market price. I agree that Senator Hawkins will be quite entitled to challenge it, but I am familiar with one case that came under my notice of the type of thing we do not want repeated.

Land is a very precious possession in this country. Immense sacrifices have been made by our ancestors to hold on to their land. They were left on the fragments of soil almost on the fringes of the bogs. There is a natural desire on the part of every countryman to get possession of a strip of land and I do not how far it is possible for us to go to satisfy that yearning and longing, but in so far as it is possible for the State to do it under the present Minister, I hope that, by the time he surrenders his office, the task of the Land Commission in this country will be complete and that so far as it is possible to make holdings economic and to distribute what land in available, that will be done. This is something which ought not to be carried over into succeeding generations. It makes for a certain amount of instability as well. Farmers with what might be regarded as considerable holdings ought to know when there will be an end of these activities of the Land Commission, because, if the 200 acre man is not sure when a local clamour may arise, led, perhaps, by some politician, even for the purpose of making things awkward for the acquisition of a particular holding, it destroys initiative. It is an unnerving situation for the owner of the land. How is it possible for such a man to go ahead with constructive rehabilitating work which is essential if the land of this country is to be fully productive? The sooner that problem is settled the better and we do not want to see it settled on the basis of compensation meted out to owners of thousands and thousands of acres acquired over the past ten years.

I refute the suggestion made by the Senator that there is no difference between what the Minister now proposes to do and what was done by his predecessor. Here is the sort of thing his predecessor did and this is a classic case. A young farmer had 258 acres and there was a debt on that farm under a family settlement of £2,000. He felt that his farm was bigger than he could successfully manage and he had this family debt to pay off, so he applied to the Land Commission for permission to sell portions to his neighbours. The market value of the farm then was £8,000. I should say that this case occurred four or five years ago. Permission was refused by the Land Commission and the Land Commission then served notice of acquisition of the lands. After three years of haggling, the Commission paid that farmer £5,000 in Land Bonds, less £2,400 redemption value of the annuity on his holding. That was £2,700 he got for his £8,000.

For the whole farm?

For the whole farm, but that was not the whole story. When he cashed the bonds at less than par, cleared his debts at the bank and paid his legal costs which ran over a period of three years, he had £1,200, a wife and family and no land. That is a case which arose in a Connacht county. It is the kind of thing that the State ought not to stand over and a case which no body of public men ought to stand for and should not have stood for. It was the kind of case which was known to Senator Counihan, to Deputy Sweetman when he was a member of this House and to myself when we urged very strongly on the Minister's predecessor that, in justice and from the point of view of the stability of the State and freedom from mental worry for our citizens, it was essential that the law be amended to enable the Land Commission to do what was fair.

I suggest to Senator Hawkins that it is not right to represent the position as it will be when this Bill passes as being exactly the same as the position before its introduction. It is tragic for a great many people that there should be such administration and very wrong of the State to stand over such administration. It was terribly essential that this change should be made. If you reduce the value of property like land which provides our whole life's stability in the manner in which it was being reduced, where will we end? Another group of people would carry it a step further and if you reduce the value of a man's capital from £8,000 to £1,200, these people coming after you could say that he had no right to that capital at all, and, in doing so, they would not be taking as much as you were taking.

I realise that it is quite impossible for anybody occupying the position the Minister occupies to tell us what he will regard as the market value of land. The market value of a farm of 100 acres in my county would be considerably less than the market value of a farm beside the town of Navan. The market value of 100 acres on one side of Castlebar would be very different from the market value of a farm of 100 acres beside Mullingar. These are both county towns. The particular circumstances of each farm being acquired — its location, its proximity to market and transport services, the type of buildings, the roads and the water supply — are all factors that go to help the Land Commission to make up its mind as to what is the market value of a farm.

Naturally, from the point of view of our economical and social stability, this work has to go on. It ought to be completed as early as possible, but I accept the point of view expressed at some stage by Senator Hawkins that if we are to pay very considerable sums for the acquisition of land, the burden on the State will increase accordingly and so, while we want to see justice done to the man whose lands are being acquired, equally we want justice done to the State and the people who will become the tenants. If the price is very high, somebody has to pay and the payment will be divided between the taxpayer and the new owner of the holding, and, in that sense, we will be just as concerned to see that the Minister is not over generous as we would be to see that justice is done, and justice was not done.

Senator Hawkins dealt with Section 11 and other sections of the Bill which deal with the reorganisation of the Land Commission. I frankly think that the Senator would need to read these sections again, because I think he was attributing to the Minister some powers which are to be exercised by the Land Commission. However, the Minister will deal with that. I am sure that he will find scope for reorganisation in the Land Commission.

I do not know how many visits the Senator has paid to the Land Commission since the new Minister came into office, but he probably paid a few visits in the days of his predecessor and I suggest that these were the days when, if he had cast his clear eyes around and exercised his agile imagination, he would have been able to make recommendations for reorganisation that would have brought a little more health and vitality to the Land Commission. However, I believe his western colleague will rejuvenate the Land Commission in a way in which his southern colleague was unable to do in his time and I am sure the Senator will wish him well.

The other point made by the Minister with regard to the problem confronting him in Connacht in the matter of the rundale system is of considerable importance in these areas. It is important to realise that this type of rundale is not peculiar to this country alone. It is also a problem on the Continent. I was in France two years ago with a number of other farmers and we went on a tour across the country. The extent to which they had reorganised their holdings and tried to make the farms more compact, and the thousands of farms in respect of which they had been able to achieve this desirable end, were matters which the French Government went to considerable inconvenience to publicise for us. It is an acute and rather intense problem where it exists and it brings about a most unsatisfactory situation. It gives rise to an amazing waste of time and energy because there is nothing more unprofitable than for farmers to be tramping the roads going to various little tracts of land, many of which are very unproductive but are ever so much more unproductive by reason of the time involved going to and coming from work on them. The Minister will be wished God speed in his task. None of us can tell him anything about the problem because it surrounds him in County Mayo.

I do not know whether Senator Hawkins was taking exception to the power which the Minister is taking to purchase farms that come on the market. I do not know whether the Senator is for or against that. I am all for it. Recently a small farm was brought to my notice. The family who lived on it have left the district. There is a house there which, if left vacant much longer, will probably tumble. One young man in the district was interested to see if the Land Commission would do anything about it. He told me that he had a meadow almost in the centre of this farm. The area is congested. He could not make fences or clear the drains around the meadow because they were mainly in the possession of the owner of the farm. Such a situation is eminently unsatisfactory. We ought to try to eliminate that sort of thing from farm life. It is socially and economically unsound; socially, because very often it is the cause of difficulties between neighbours. In so far as the Minister can go into the market and purchase farms, whether it be for breaking up and dividing amongst a number of small farmers or for the purpose of giving portion of it to one man and taking portion of his land and giving it to the man beyond, in order to make the whole thing more economic, it is a very wise and very necessary step. Any of us who has experience of the conditions in small farming districts and counties will welcome the powers proposed to be taken by the Minister. They can do more, perhaps, to bring order into farm economy and to make farms economic than probably a much larger expenditure on the acquisition of land could do. A farmer can be made economic in his native surroundings much more easily and at much less expense than he can be when he is uprooted and transferred to a territory with which he is not too familiar and into surroundings which are different, from the point of view of management, from those to which he is accustomed. If you bring a Connacht man, accustomed to sheep-raising, to a part of the country where that is not the practice, or a dairy farmer into fattening lands, you will have to give him more and put him in a stronger position in the new surroundings than was necessary for him in order to enjoy a reasonable standard on the land he had left and the type of farming to which he was accustomed. I believe that these powers will help the Minister very considerably to reorganise the farm economy over a great area, to add to farms and, perhaps, in some cases, to make transfers that will make all the difference in the world in making farming more stable and more progressive.

On the whole, I am quite certain that the country will welcome the proposals enshrined in this measure. I am very glad that Senator Hawkins has approached the proposals in the Bill in a rational frame of mind and, if he was to a certain degree critical, at least, he was not unconstructive. I hope that in so far as this House has anything to do with it, if there are suggestions that can make the measure more workable than it is, that we will get down to our work in that spirit and give the Minister a Bill that will be better on leaving this House than it was when he brought it here and that we will do it in the right spirit.

When a new Minister, representing a new Government, was looking for the Second Reading of a new Land Bill I expected that he would outline for us the policy of the new Government but I was very much disappointed. A Government of the type that we have at present, representative of many Parties and many viewpoints, particularly on the question of land settlement, might be expected at an early stage to make the people aware of the particular policy which they hoped to put into operation. We know that at the very beginning certain parts of the policies of various Parties were placed in abeyance and I would like to know on what particular point is there agreement on this very vital question of land settlement.

I am a townsman from Tipperary but the people of my generation were reared on questions concerning land settlement. When we were young we used to hear slogans such as "The land for the people and the road for the bullock"; "We build the homes of Tipperary"; "Undo the clearances", and so on. Even the songs we were taught were all concerned with resettlement on the lands of Ireland. The books we read—Kickham's stories, and others — all concerned this question of land settlement and, consequently, even the people in the towns, who stood by the people of the countryside in the old days, when we were fighting against the tyranny of the landlords, had a great interest in this question of land settlement. This is my apology for speaking at length on this question.

I would have liked to hear from the Minister what his policy is with regard to the acquisition of lands because I regard the acquisition of land as one of the most serious things that a Government in this State could undertake. I regard the acquisition compulsorily of land from its owner as the closest approach to a violation of our Constitution that could be made. I do not think that in any other action of the State do we come so close to violating the Constitution as we do on this question. We guarantee the right of private ownership and it must be a very grave reason that compels any Government or people to depart from this vital Article in our Constitution. The people of Ireland have regarded resettlement of such importance that they are prepared to see the Government with powers which will deprive a private citizen of a fundamental right.

I would like, therefore, to have a clear indication from this Minister, as representing this Government, what their attitude is to land division. I would like to know whether they intend in future to acquire compulsorily small farms or big farms or whether, when they are going to enter into the open market to purchase land, what type of farms they intend to purchase. Personally, I am very much against the Minister's entering into competition with private individuals for the purchase of land. I am looking at this from an objective angle and have no political angle, good, bad or indifferent. Everybody here knows that it is not a new angle and that it has been talked of and argued many times. So many things were against the State's entering into competition with private individuals for anything that it was never made the law before. I think that the Minister is most unwise, certainly except in very limited circumstances, to take such powers. I could understand the Minister purchasing in the open market a holding of from 30 to 100 acres in a very acutely congested area in his own county where there were a large number of smallholders amongst whom it could be divided. If, however, the Minister came to Tipperary or Meath, say, and entered into competition to purchase a farm of 40 or 50 acres or bigger, he would be doing a great wrong to the farming community.

If an industrious thrifty farmer has three or four sons the natural thing for some of the sons to do if their father can afford it is to go to another farm as they cannot all stay on the original holding. If this small farmer must purchase the land in competition with the Minister he is in a very awkward position. Instead of entering into competition with that type of farmer I think that the Minister should encourage him.

I will give an instance of another type of competition which is creeping in. Recently I was in the County of Kerry and a farm was pointed out to me, a good-sized economic farm, which had been purchased by an English titled gentleman about a year and a half ago. Some five or six months later he bought another farm which was only divided from his original purchase by one farm. While I was in Kerry negotiations were almost completed for the purchase of the farm in between. He was buying this farm with English devalued money. He had plenty of it and he could make the price high with that money. The Minister can do the same thing. I understand that that type of purchase is increasing in the country. I would prefer the Minister to take powers in a Bill to refuse sanction for a purchase by such people, or even by our own people if they had already sufficient land, than to enter into competition with our own people for these holdings.

I mentioned one of the slogans we had long ago: "Undo the clearances." In the old days clearances were effected by the landlords with the R.I.C., the battering ram and the crowbar, but now if you have a banknote big enough you can buy three farms, clear out three Irish families and replace them by one English lord or perhaps by some of the new rich from that country. All they need is a banknote and everything can be done peacefully. I suggest that the Minister should seriously consider introducing a Bill enabling him to refuse sanction for the successive purchase of holdings by people of that description. I would welcome a statement from the Minister on the question of the purchase of our land by people from across the water. I have no objection in the world to foreigners buying some of our land because I know that our own people buy land and enter into businesses in other countries but when it is on the large scale which was condemned so much by all the Parties in the Government during the last general election some positive steps should be taken to curb it. I am offering one suggestion and perhaps there are many more.

I stand firmly behind this Government or any Government whose policy it is to acquire land for division among the people. As to the people who should get the land there are many opinions and we do not know the views of the present Government on that very vital question. Everybody, I think, knew what the opinions of the previous Government were. After all, they were in power for over 15 years. Their policy was working and everybody knew where they were, but we do not up to the present know the policy of the Minister regarding either the size of an economic holding or the type of person who should get it.

Senator Baxter referred very briefly to the question of size and I think it deserves more attention. I have heard the question argued many times. I heard a man from Roscommon say that 16 acres of good land were sufficient for any farmer and I heard a man from Meath say that to give a man less than 40 acres was to tie a millstone round his neck. I know that there is a great variety of opinions on the question and I would ask the Minister if he has any ideas to let us have them. We know that the standard is the quantity of land which would give the occupier a frugal livelihood but how to arrive at the figure is the difficulty. It would be interesting if the Minister could give us some idea of the size of the holding which he would consider economic.

Then there is the question of who is to get the land. When the people with uneconomic holdings in the district have been catered for, I personally would be in favour of giving whatever is left to landless men and I make no apology for that. I refer to landless men who are the sons of farmers who are skilled in the use of land and skilled in the type of farm in the particular district. I do not believe that you will cure the acute congestion of the West by bringing up migrants from these counties. I was looking at the number of holdings in County Mayo under £10 poor law valuation and there were 40,000 of them. There is not in Ireland enough land for them without causing terrific hardship and there are large numbers of them in every county in the West. Consequently, I think that the people to be accommodated when land is acquired are the people in the district if possible. In the old days the first people to be accommodated used to be smallholders with a valuation under £20 and we were coming round to the idea that that poor law valuation should be increased. I am not fit even to give an opinion on that question but I would like to have an opinion from some person who has ideas on it.

I should have mentioned first the employees on the land. I am in agreement with the Minister with regard to giving gratuities to certain of these people and also I agree that those of the employees who are fit persons to use land should be accommodated. That is a useful idea in the Bill and I, at any rate, agree with it. When these people have been accommodated there are the uneconomic holders and I am not in favour of giving land to these uneconomic holders indiscriminately. Where an estate has been divided I have seen people being given land to bring their valuation up to £20 simply because they lived near the estate and had a poor law valuation of £5 or £10. I have a case in mind of a lady, an old age pensioner, whose daughter was in England, and simply because she had a holding in the locality she got a holding. I think that that is not correct. The first qualification for getting land should be capacity to use it and keep it properly and a proper mentality.

After these came evicted tenants but they are thinning. When land is surplus, it is landless men of suitable type who should be put on the estates. I used to hear those landless men condemned in the Dáil as failures. Undoubtedly, there were some failures.

So much so that an Act had to be brought in to deal with them.

No, so much so that an Act had to be brought in to deal with persons who misused the land that was given to them, but that did not say they were a high percentage. If only one person had a holding and was misusing it, the Minister should have that power. It was stated that 17 per cent. of them were failures, but I do not believe that. When a man is given land, although it is not vested in him, and he starts with small means, it is not easy for him to get on his feet. I could give cases of people who got land and, through some chance, they got more land somewhere else and could not be resident on the two, especially when they had a family. We should not cut out the landless men, as our main purpose is to put as many suitable people on the land as possible. I believe you will get the best type in the district in which the land is acquired, amongst the sons of good farmers.

Senator Hawkins asked how the market value is to be arrived at. I am in the same difficulty, as I cannot see what standard is to be adopted. Senator Baxter told us that these prices fluctuate in time as well as in place. They fluctuate in other ways, too. Quite recently I saw in the papers where a local body was purchasing 11 acres in County Wicklow for £2,600. That was certainly an inflated value and shows that a State body will pay a greater sum than the value of the land. I gave the case of an Englishman, who certainly will pay more than an ordinary Irish citizen. Again, I know of a farmer who was separated from the main road by a very small holding of seven or eight acres. He bought them for £700 or £800, as he was a big farmer and wanted clear access to the road. There are many ways of arriving at market price. The Minister has not told us the difference between the market value paid in the past and the market price to be paid in the future.

I know that the law compelled the Land Commission to do as the Senator said. It was last year, I suppose, that this particular price was paid. I understood the Senator to say that notice was served on the man four years ago and that after three years, which I conclude would be last year, this particular bit of work was done. Consequently, it was in the term of the present Minister that that particular transaction took place.

It is 12 months since this document was prepared.

That would be another year, but it would still come in the time of the present Minister.

In regard to housing, under the Acts up to the present a farmer was given a certain grant to build both a house and an out-house on a new holding. The out-houses seem to me to be totally inadequate. On new holdings we should give adequate out-houses, to give the farmer a chance. Even a barn or anything like that that is required should be given and the allottee should not be thrown on his own resources. He will have quite enough to do to stock the land. When we go so far as to give him a gift from the State of £1,000 or more, we should go further and give him a chance to succeed in that holding. The grants should be increased for the purpose of building the houses. The scope of the building, out-houses and so on should be increased also, so that he may have a reasonable chance to deal with stocks and crops.

I would welcome any measure which I felt would increase the speed of land settlement. The Minister believes that this Bill will bring about that result, so I welcome it. I am disagreeing with his idea of entering into the purchase market and also with his taking certain powers which the commissioners held previously in the choosing of allotments. We in Tipperary and the West of Ireland have always favoured putting people back on the land, to give an independent livelihood to a greater number of people. Therefore, I wish this Bill success in enabling the Minister to put people more quickly on the land and bring about the great aim for many years, to rebuild the homes in the rural areas of our country.

I was led to believe when I was a young fellow, and I believe it all the more to-day, that the generation before mine had arrived at such a pass regarding land settlement that they placed greater importance on that than on national freedom. In that period, national freedom took a secondary place in our history. Consequently, those of us brought up in that tradition welcome any measure which will speed up land acquisition and division.

I support this Bill and congratulate the Minister on his courage in bringing forward a measure which will ensure that, when land is acquired compulsorily or resumed, the farmer will be paid the full market value. The Bill does not give us complete fixity of tenure. It does not restore it as we knew it in the past, but I suppose it will be impossible ever to get that again. This is a great improvement on previous Land Acts. It will encourage farmers to improve their land, as they are asured that, even if it is taken over, they will be paid for the improvements and the better the land is looking the more the market value will be. They will be encouraged to put the land in the best heart and, apart from being assured of getting the value if it is acquired, the land will be of more value to them than if it is let go derelict.

I am glad that the Minister realises that there is an economic as well as a social side to the land question. The cure sometimes proposed for the relief of congestion is to split up all the land indiscriminately into small holdings. I am sure he realises that that may be more disastrous than congestion itself. If all the land were indiscriminately split up and no large estates left, that would be injurious to the economy of the western part. Leinster is the greatest market the congests have for their live stock. At the present time, small or young cattle are not required in the British market. The British Government are subsidising the production of their own cattle, paying £4 for the rearing of a bull calf and £3 for the rearing of a heifer calf. In a very short time, they will require very little of the cattle produced in the congested districts or by the small farmers all over this country. I am glad the Minister realises that. If that continues, it will not be a very useful proposition either for the congests or the townsmen, the big or the small farmer, or the country as a whole.

I am glad the Minister is taking power to buy land at public auctions. Many Senators are quick at giving him advice and I suppose I may follow suit. When he buys these farms, he should keep them intact and transfer the people to them from the bigger farms in the congested districts. That will leave him more land to divide in the congested districts and those people will, in turn, become more suitable for migration. The Minister quoted the Congested Districts Board. I remember that it was run by a very commonsense Kerryman at one time, Sir Henry Doran. I am sure the Parliamentary Secretary now here, Deputy Donnellan, would know all about him. I remember his having a discussion with a friend in Mayo. This man owned a great deal of land and he said: "For every acre of arable land you give me in Mayo, I will give you an equal amount in Kildare, Meath or Dublin." This friend of mine said: "Why don't you transfer the people dividing my land up there?" The migration of congests has been a failure and will always be a failure. For that reason I think that when the Minister's agents purchase any of those farms it would be a far sounder policy to transfer the big farmers from the congested districts and divide their land among the congests in that part of the country.

There has been some talk about the market for cattle. We have a very limited amount of good fattening land and I think we should preserve that for the purposes for which it is most suitable, the fattening of cattle and sheep. The only market for live stock in Britain at present is for forward stores, about three-quarters fat, which the British buy and will be able to sell after a couple of months' feeding in England. There is no trade at present for milch cows, in-calf heifers or for other sorts of stock. The Minister would be wise to give that policy more consideration.

I have no adverse comment to make on the Bill and I would conclude with the remark that something should be done I believe to stop this sort of question in the other House "When will so and so's land be taken over by the Land Commission?" I think the whole root of the trouble is that people should make use of their positions in the Dáil or in the Seanad to injure any private individual in his property. I think it is disgraceful. It is more than that — it is absolute bribery on the part of those people. They are promising that so and so's land will be divided for the sake of getting a few votes at the coming election. I think the majority of the Seanad will remember the time when a few votes were enough to get a prospective candidate elected to the Seanad.

A Senator

A few? One.

A man was prosecuted for attempting to bribe a voter and quite rightly, but the man who put his hand into his pocket to bribe a voter was an honourable man in comparison with the man who promises congested people fourteen or fifteen acres each of their neighbour's property if he is put into the Dáil. Something should be done to stop that. I would appeal to Senator Hayes, who I am told is recognised as the greatest authority on parliamentary procedure that we have, to devise some means, by introducing an amendment to this Bill, or some other way to put a stop to that sort of practice.

That is a big job, Sir.

I say that some attempt should be made to stop this disgraceful practice. I support the Bill and I am pleased that the Minister showed the courage of his convictions in bringing it before us.

In my opinion, this Bill is one of the most important contributions that have been made to land settlement in this country since the establishment of native Government, and I am happy to be in the position to congratulate the Minister on introducing it. I have always considered that the niggardly prices which the Land Commission offered or compelled owners of land to take were one of the greatest handicaps to the progress of land division in this country. I think the suggestion that has been thrown out that the congests whom it is intended to relieve wanted their neighbour's land at a confiscatory price was one of the greatest libels on the Irish peasantry that was ever perpetrated. The ordinary congest farmer had no desire at any time to take forcible possession of his neighbour's land. What he wanted was a portion of that land to add to his own holding, so that he would be able to make a living there for himself and his family, and he was prepared at all times to pay a reasonable rent for that land. This suggestion of a reasonable price, of what is called the full market value, will make much more land available for distribution than was available at any other time.

I was rather surprised that Senator Loughman adopted the attitude he did adopt in relation to this question. Coming from County Tipperary, I should have thought he would be one man who would welcome the powers being given to the Minister. If I am rightly informed, Tipperary is a county where a number of foreigners have gone in and bought land. Would it not be much better if the Minister could take over that land at a price fair to the owner and divide it among the congests of Tipperary—I suppose there are some there — than that these foreigners should take it over in the manner he indicated had been done in Kerry?

That is what I want.

Senator Loughman's argument is the greatest argument that could be advanced in favour of this Bill.

I did not condemn the Bill at all.

The Senator did not condemn it, but he objected to the Minister going in and buying land.

I merely asked a question as to how the Minister intended to arrive at market value and I did definitely oppose the Minister entering the public market to buy.

That is precisely what I am referring to. My argument is that it would be much better for the Minister, no matter who he may be, to be able to go into the market to bid against these foreigners and buy that land and divide it up than to allow these foreigners to come in.

There would be great fun between the two bidders, the foreigner and the Minister.

We are protected in this way that, when the Minister arrives at market value, he is then, to my mind, in possession of the land, under the Bill.

The question of an economic holding is one which could be debated for months without arriving at any decision. I remember listening to a long discussion on the question in the other House and I did not hear any two speakers agree as to the size of an economic holding. I do not think it is possible to agree, because the location and quality of the land are determining factors and the state of congestion in the area may also be another, and it is most unfair to suggest that the Minister should be tied down to a definition of economic holding, because I do not think the Minister's opinion would be final in the end.

What this Bill is going to do is to give into the possession of the Minister lands which would not be available to him or at his disposal and, in that, the Minister is doing a good day's work for those who are congests. There is, however, one point I should like to make, that is, that something should be injected into this Bill to speed up the division of land, once it is acquired. I do not think there is anything in the Bill towards that end. Perhaps my experience is unusual, but quite convenient to me the Land Commission acquired an estate in 1933 and that estate is still in the possession of the Land Commission.

Much water has flowed under the bridges since 1933 and I fail to see why any commission, with any sense of its responsibility, should hold land for that period, while at the same time congests on holdings adjoining that land have to pay up to £8 per acre for conacre on that estate. If something could be infused into this Bill to get rid of the dilatory methods of the Land Commission it would be a welcome infusion, and I trust that on Committee Stage I shall be able to induce the Minister to accept an amendment towards that end.

I am in thorough agreement with Senator Counihan with regard to this matter of migration. It is not a good policy to take a man who has been accustomed to working five or ten acres and to put him into a holding of 30 or 40 acres of good arable land. I do not think he is fit to work it. The management of a holding of land is an expert business, and if a man has been accustomed to a form of husbandry which enables him to eke out an existence on five or ten acres, he is not educated in the management of a 40-acre farm. I regard the idea put forward by Senator Counihan that, where a farmer with a good-sized holding is prepared to hand it over to the Land Commission in exchange for another in a different locality, thus enabling the original holding to be divided up among the congests so that these men can get preparatory training, as giving a better system of economics. The glorious failure of Gibbstown is the greatest proof of that.

Who says it is a failure? That is an entirely false statement. I can prove the contrary.

I am not saying it is altogether a failure.

I invite the Senator to visit Gibbstown before he makes such a statement. He will be agreeably surprised.

That may be Senator Tunney's view, but he will find that there are a number of people who entirely disagree with it.

It is the view of the report of the Land Commission.

And that does not make it correct, either. I am satisfied from my own experience that a man who has been accustomed to using a small holding, when put on a holding of 35 or 40 acres, will not make a success of it.

He will not agree with you in that.

I suppose he will not.

I do not think the Minister will either.

It is very natural that that should be the position. I do not blame these people at all, because their preparation in life has not been a preparation in that direction.

If that is the Senator's view, I wonder why he supports this Bill.

I do not see where the contradiction is. I am in agreement with the suggestion to compensate employees on holdings rather than to give them holdings. I am particularly in favour of it where the employees are at an advanced age. I do not think it was a good idea, where a herd or some other employee had worked on an estate over a long number of years, that he was provided with a holding of land which he was unable to work. I think the suggestion to compensate him in cash is much better.

There has been a tendency in my county, and I presume in other counties, where land was being made available, to migrate people from outside counties rather than to satisfy the local needs. There is no opposition, I am sure, to migrating people from congested districts into other counties, but a prerequisite is that the demands of the local people in the matter of land should first be satisfied. Otherwise, there would be grave dissatisfaction. If a man whose valuation is £10 or £12 is living convenient to an estate and is denied land on that estate, while a migrant is brought in from an outside county, there is bound to be local opposition and probably friction. It is essential that the Land Commission should satisfy the local demands and the local needs to the utmost of their ability before importing migrants from outside counties.

I wish the Minister luck in his venture and, while it is not likely that he or any succeeding Minister will altogether settle the land question, I believe he is going a long way forward in that direction.

The Senator's line of argument is not good encouragement.

It may not be good encouragement to Senator Tunney but perhaps the Minister's view will be different.

I hope not to the Minister either.

If anything I have said reflects in any way on the migrants in Gibbstown, I wish to apologise to the inhabitants of Gibbstown. I want to make it clear that I did not intend to reflect at any time on the people of Gibbstown. I wanted to criticise what I consider was the mistaken policy that brought them to Gibbstown. I want to make it quite clear that if I had been taken from an area in which I was not accustomed to operating a farm such as is in Gibbstown, and put in charge of a Gibbstown farm, I doubt if I would be successful in it either. It was the lack of experience and training in the management of such a holding that did not make for success. Anything I have said was not intended to reflect in any way on those migrants who came up and, in my opinion, made an honest effort to get ahead. I am delighted to hear from Senator Fitzsimons that they have been doing so.

They have been very successful.

I rise to support this Bill wholeheartedly because I consider it to be a very honest effort to remedy many defects in existing land law which have been responsible for the continuance of social and economic evils in the rural parts of the country. If this Bill did nothing else but make a practical contribution towards the solution of the iniquitous system of inter-mixed holdings or holdings held in rundale, it would be fully justified. I know that system obtains in a small way in several parts of the country but I believe that in no part does it exist in such an acute manner as in County Mayo. For that reason, I am delighted it has fallen to the Minister, a Mayo man, to handle this very acute problem. No man in the Oireachtas is more familiar with the repercussions of that system and no man should be more capable of handling it, with the co-operation of the Government.

The question of inter-mixed holdings may be settled in a few different ways. There are cases, I know, where the people in the districts in which this system obtains could be induced to agree to a rearrangement of their holdings that might do away with the trouble and that would not necessitate migration of any of them from that centre. There are other cases, however, where migration would be necessary. The power which the Minister is taking to enter into the open market and to purchase holdings offered for sale will put him in a position to offer an attractive proposition to people living in rundale areas to ease the situation. It will give him an opportunity of offering an attractive proposition to some of them to move out, a proposition that will be far more tempting than the inducement to move into a new holding in which they might have a very good house and outhouses but where they would not have the amenities that would be available for them on a farm purchased by the Minister from a careful owner who had developed its amenities.

In saying earlier that I was delighted that the responsibility for solving this problem fell on the Minister, I do not want to be taken as insinuating that the Ministers in former Governments were unmindful of the wrongs consequent on the system of inter-mixed holdings. I do know that very honest efforts were made to handle that situation. I know that painstaking, efficient and energetic officials of the Land Commission spent months, perhaps years, in areas trying to effect a solution and that, very often, after having come to an adjustment of the problem, before they had time to have it implemented by legal sanction, the whole matter relapsed into its former condition of chaos through some concerned person in the area backing out of the agreement. That can no longer happen when this Bill is passed. Once a senior inspector comes into an area and manages to get the people to come to an arrangement by consent, no one will be able to back out of it. It was high time that something of that nature was done to do away with the uncertainty of finding a solution that always obtained in these areas.

Another very important change in land law is the intention of the Minister, in this Bill, in future, to see that the market price of land is paid to those from whom land is acquired.

I thoroughly agree with Senator Baxter and with the other Senators who since the debate began remarked that it is not altogether fair to tie the Minister down to a definition of the market value of a holding which would cover all cases. As Senator Baxter very rightly pointed out, the class of holding and the type of land on the acquired property would have a great deal to do with what the market value would be considered to be. We can at least be sure that there will be no more cases of injustice such as obtained hitherto when land was taken from people legally in a manner which could be compared with nothing other than legalised robbery. Senator Baxter gave the case of land being acquired from a certain party for which a sum far below the agreed sum was paid. I heard of another case where a considerable amount of land was acquired from a lady in the Midlands and when everything was adjusted instead of being compensated by the Land Commission for property acquired she had to pay the Land Commission something for taking it from her. That was an outstanding case and one of a kind which can never happen again thanks to the introduction of this Bill which provides for the payment of market value for any land which is acquired for the relief of congestion.

Senator Hawkins in opening the debate wondered whether there was enough available untenanted land in Ireland to relieve congestion. That is a question which has been raised by many and very different opinions prevail as to whether there is or not. Of course the Minister in his opening statement pointed out that as a result of his Department being in a position in future to enter into competition with other prospective buyers of farms which are offered for sale, quite a large amount of land will be made available for the relief of congestion which could not be acquired otherwise. We hear from time to time of foreigners coming into the country and acquiring very large areas of land. They may put it to some productive purpose but certainly not to the purpose which people interested in the relief of congestion would like it to be put to.

I understand that the object of the Land Commission was to abolish landlordism and set up the greatest possible number of Irishmen in economic holdings. Landlordism has, as far as I know, been abolished, but the question of increasing the number of economic holdings in the country is far from settled. I think that the Minister would be well advised to find out by how much the facilities permitted to foreigners to buy land in this country reduce the number of economic farms farmed by Irish nationals which would otherwise be set up.

The only objection I see to this Bill is that it looks like perpetuating the existence of the Land Commission. While I would not favour any policy that would deprive us of the services of that Department until it has done the very important work for which it was designed, I think we all would like to live to see the day when a Minister for Lands could come before the Parliament and say: "My Department has done all that can possibly be done with the means at our disposal to complete the duties entrusted to us, and I recommend the dissolution of this Department." I am afraid that we are far from that stage; some of us will have passed to our reward before conditions will permit of any Minister for Lands making that very welcome declaration.

On the whole I consider the Bill a very good one, and I believe that it will expedite the removal of many social and economic evils in rural parts of the country. For that reason I am satisfied that it is entitled to a ready passage through the House. No serious objections have been raised to its introduction. It is pretty evident to each and every one of us that the work of the Land Commission up to the present has not been done as expeditiously as we would wish. As I said, that was not due to carelessness or neglect on the part of the Ministers concerned, but mainly because they had not the power to expedite the work. The Minister has now taken that power, however, and I am quite satisfied that he will use it in a wise way. I congratulate him on its introduction. I am quite satisfied that once it becomes law we will see changes in areas where there exists a large number of uneconomic and inter-mixed holdings, and where every effort to effect a solution so far seemed to be impossible of achieving. Power is now being given to the Land Commission to remedy that state of affairs, and I am quite satisfied that it will remedy it in the shortest possible time.

I suppose it would be a super-optimist who would suggest that this is the last Bill dealing with the land problem in this country. However, I must confess to a feeling of gratification that the Minister has brought in this Bill to make further, and to my mind better, effort to settle the land problem, and I congratulate him on his very laudable effort. I personally am glad at the manner in which the Bill has been received in the Seanad. The speeches on the various sides of the House have been made with restraint and with a realisation of the importance of the problem which the Minister is facing. Perhaps there are not many of us in this House who are familiar with the workings of all the Land Acts which were introduced by the British Government and by both our own Governments in the last 40 or 50 years. I am old enough to remember nearly all of them, I think; the difficulties the various Governments had in their manipulation, and the feelings of the people after the introduction of each of them. I hope that when this Bill is passed most of the fears that used to possess the owners of land in this country will have vanished. I have always held that land division is one of the best forms of social service, far in advance of many of the ordinary things usually referred to as social services. There is no way you can provide better for a man and his family than by putting him on the land. Like all other social services, that should be done at the expense of the State rather than of the individual. That is what has retarded the settlement of the land problem for generations.

Several Senators referred to the injustice of the manner in which land has been taken from the owners in recent years by previous legislation under both Governments. When one Land Act was passed 15 or 16 years ago, I referred, when speaking in the other House, to the knowledge most of us had of the three F's — Free Sale, Fair Rent and Fixity of Tenure. I spoke then of what the Minister has provided for in this Bill, saying that, instead of the three F's that our grandfathers, fathers or brothers looked for, we had had substituted three other F's —the power to Fleece, to Filch and to Forfeit. That was largely the work of the Land Commission in the last 20 years. No wonder the division of land was a problem.

Some Senator referred to the fact that land was taken from some people and left them very little afterwards. In some cases, the land was taken from people and left them very much less than little, left them in debt. I know a case where land was taken. All this land happened to have been redeemed from the Land Commission in solid hard cash, paid to the Land Commission by the owner so that he could leave the land to his children free of burden. It was acquired and they did not give him even half the sum he paid for redemption, not to mention any sum for dispossession. If the Minister wants particulars of that case, I will give them to him.

The Minister has, for the first time, approached this question in the manner in which it ought to be approached by any just Government. Taking compulsorily the property of any section of the community without attempting to provide any compensation is most unjust. This Bill will remove many of the fears the farmers held. The possession of land is dear to most people. The fear of acquisition is ever present in the farmer's mind once the landlord has been bought out. While the need for the distribution of land existed and it became necessary to take the land from certain annuity owners, the fear was always there of compulsory acquisition at confiscation prices. The Minister has removed one of the fears, the fear of confiscation. I take it that there is no further fear of confiscation now.

I congratulate the Minister on having, in this Bill, for the first time made provision that at least an attempt will be made to give the holder of land the fair market value or market price. There has been certain criticism of the Minister in that direction and Senator Hawkins referred to it, although I was particularly pleased with the general tone of his speech. I was rather surprised at the Senator's approach to certain other questions in the Bill, notably the right to take over land and assess the amount of compensation. He held that the Minister had still the power to decide these matters for himself. I thought Senator Hawkins would have had a better appreciation of the section which deals with exempted matters. As far as the Minister could be reasonably expected to provide for it in plain language, it is provided for in Section 11 of this Bill. In fact, it is more extended than in any previous Bill, to the best of my recollection. The Minister has provided for several matters in the section, putting these solely in the hands of the commissioners, as apart from the Minister. For instance, there is the determination as to the persons to be selected as allottees. Senator Hawkins expressed a doubt there, saying that the Minister himself would have the power to decide that. There is the determination as to the highest offer that would be made for land in certain circumstances. These are exempted functions. There may be, in other sections, a reference to the power of the Minister in certain circumstances, but I think that, in effect, the Minister's powers will be governed largely by the terms of Section 11 of the Bill.

Certain exception has been taken to the Minister's provision of a market price. The question of determining a fair market price or market value, whichever way you like it, would be a difficult matter to have printed or written by any Minister or any person, because, as Senator Loughman said, it would be governed by so many circumstances and conditions in this country — the circumstances of location, the different methods of farming and the difference between the values of land from one county to another. To my mind, it would be almost impossible to set down in writing a definition of market price or market value which would be generally accepted around the country as a fair definition. The best the Minister or the Land Commission can do, because it is the Land Commission who will determine this matter in the end, will be to adhere as far as they can to the local values in the particular cases where land is taken, and I hope they will do that.

With regard to this question of the value of land, I am particularly pleased that the Minister has taken powers in this measure to go into the open market to buy land. Certain Senators have expressed fears in that direction, that farmers wishing to buy land will, in that way, have the value of what they are seeking to buy shoved up when the Land Commission is willing to pay the market value and to bid against them. I am rather surprised that any Senator in this House in the year 1950 should express views such as these, that the Land Commission was prepared to pay high prices——

The Bill is a joke then?

It is a joke, to my mind, to suggest that the Land Commission will be prepared to give exorbitant prices for any land. Up to the introduction of this Bill they never were prepared to pay anything like an exorbitant price; indeed complaints were heard that they were paying far too little. Behind this principle and behind the Minister who introduced the Bill will be the Land Commissioners, the two Houses of Parliament and most significant of all, the Minister for Finance with the purse, whose shadow will be hanging over the Minister all the time, with the aim of restricting the amount of money they are going to spend on land settlement in this country. If Senators and Deputies in the Dáil who spoke in that way did anything in making that suggestion, they made me, at least, laugh in my sleep at the way my imagination was tickled. I certainly laughed in my sleep to think that anyone believed the Land Commission was going to give that much money for any land.

It certainly would be a change.

We have heard arguments over the last 27 years that the Government of this country should make provision for paying a fair price to farmers and now we have the astonishing argument that they may pay too much. I think it would be idle for me or for the Minister to attempt to reply to any such suggestions. There are various things against it. In Section 11, again, which Senator Hawkins cannot have read or he would not have made the suggestions, care is taken to ensure that the determination of the highest offer to be made by the Land Commission is reserved for the commissioners, and the commissioners will fix the price on the land at such a figure that they can distribute it at such a sum as the Minister for Finance is prepared to give them to the allottees at a price which will permit the allottees to live. Does any Senator suggest that in those circumstances the Land Commissioners are going to determine a figure that will be altogether beyond the fair value of the land in whatever district it is? Of course they will not.

The figure that the Land Commission would put on the land in a set of circumstances after the passing of this Bill would be a figure at which they might not get the land. My only fear in regard to the Minister buying land in the open market is this: that the Minister — I mean, of course, the Land Commission—will find that it is outbid in the local market, and what is going to happen after it has been outbid is what troubles me — not what is going to happen the farmers or the rest of the farmers who will bid against the Land Commission. Is the Minister prepared to say to the House that the Land Commission, having gone into the market to buy a farm and bid the price that was the highest figure they could give, in the circumstances, for the farm, the Land Commission could be outbid by a farmer? Let the Minister assure me, and I want the assurance, that the purchaser in that case will not be interfered with in the purchase of his farm. If we have not that assurance, then the question of termination of free sale of land is nonsense. I am quite certain the Minister, in his reply, will give me that assurance — at least I hope he will.

Senator Hawkins expressed another fear in regard to this price — what about the allottee? Will he be compelled to pay a higher price for his land because of the operations of this Bill? Now, you cannot have it both ways. You cannot argue that the Minister, because of this Bill, is going to give a fictitiously high price for land, and on the other hand, argue that he is going to have any consideration whatever for the allottee. I think that those two questions are so closely linked that one governs the other. The lay commissioners will be bound to put a fair figure on the land to enable them to let it at a fair figure, taking into account what they get from the Minister for Finance.

Senator Hawkins had one other fear — how are we going to provide against "puffing"? How are we going to stop the farmer "puffing" the price of his land? I think I have answered it. If the Land Commission set a fair figure in all the circumstances on the land, a figure that added to whatever sum they can extract from the Minister for Finance will enable them to let the land to an incoming tenant at a fair value, there will not be any great danger of "puffing". If the lay commissioners get the land they will have got it at a fair value anyhow. There have been some references to the size of the farms in the discussion on this particular Bill — I will come to that later when I deal with some of the things that trouble Senator Hawkins. The Minister may be able to answer them in more detail than I have endeavoured to do. Personally, what I am concerned about is this: when are we going to come to the end of this story of land division? He would be a super-optimist indeed who would suggest that this Bill would be the last Bill ever, and that in the middle of the 20th century and after 25 years' operations of Government, we are nearly approaching the end of their operations. We got rid of the landlords over a great period to the satisfaction of everyone in the country. We got rid of most of the big farmers, or at least a great number of them. There are still, I think, 7,000 left of the agricultural fellows owning 200 acres or more. Is it proposed to get rid of all these? Having got rid of these 7,000 unfortunate men who hamper the fair distribution of land, what further step will we take? Will we interfere then with the 40 and 50-acre men? These are questions which the Minister might answer, so far as he feels free to answer them in the matter of his intentions while he is Minister, so that we may be assured that what happened during the régime of the previous Government will not happen again, where a man bought a farm and placed one of his sons on it only to find that it was compulsorily acquired the day after.

These are some of the questions that suggest themselves to me and not questions as to whether there is any fear that the Land Commission will step in and give too much for land, because I know they will not. I have not got the least fear in that respect, but I should like to know what eventually will be the end of the problem of land distribution. The only hope that I can see for the realisation of the desire that everybody has that land should be fairly divided is the provision the Minister has put in the Bill, the provision which was so much objected to in the Dáil and, to a certain extent here, by which he can go into the open market and purchase land. There are 250,000 acres freely offered for sale every year and there will now be no compulsion needed to get the owners to sell.

Rather will it be the reverse. There will be no hardship on anybody if these farms are bought at a fair value and they provide sufficient work for any Land Commission for the next 100 years. That provision will do away with the problem of compulsory acquisition and all the other problems attaching to the division of land, and we will, I hope, arrive at a stage when we will be able to continue the great service of land distribution, the greatest social service, as I said earlier, we could possibly undertake.

It will be undertaken in the way in which it ought to have been undertaken in the past 25 years — with a fair crack of the whip for everybody, for the owner of the land from whom the land has been acquired compulsorily hitherto and for the man who is to get the land, because I hope that having bought the land from the farmer at a fair figure, the State will be generous enough to make such grants out of the finances of the country as will make it possible to let this land to the allottees at a figure which will enable them to make a proper living as farmers and not, as hitherto, occupiers of land who were neither farmers nor labourers. I hope that when we come to approach this matter finally we will approach it from the angle of giving the man we put on the land sufficient to live on, to rear a family and to live in comfort.

If you ask me how much land that means for every person, I cannot answer and neither can anybody else. Circumstances in each county and on each estate differ so much that what would be a fair measure of land in one county would represent starvation in another. The Mayo man would look upon 15 or 20 acres of Meath or Limerick land as sufficient for any man. The Limerick or Meath farmer would not regard 200 acres of Mayo land as sufficient for any man. How are these two extremes to be met? No Minister can set a figure on what is a fair acreage for any allottee. It can only be left to the discretion of the Land Commissioners. In this regard, I do not think that much of the criticism levelled at the Land Commission has been justified. We have all hit them pretty hard at times, but they have done a fair job of work. Accusations were hurled in the Dáil and in the Seanad that land had been politically divided during the past 25 years. I do not think I ever made an accusation of that kind, and I do not believe a word of it. I feel that in general land was fairly divided by the Land Commission. I believe that mistakes were made, but they were made through ignorance rather than by reason of influence by any political Party.

Any land divided in my county by any Government was fairly divided. Some of the land divided by the Government whose Party I represent was divided so fairly that my friends got none of it, while some of the land divided by the Fianna Fáil Government in the past few years was divided so fairly that my friends got a good deal of it. I am free to make these statements openly in the Parliament of this country, and I believe that the commissioners who divided land did their job as well as they could in the circumstances and within the provision made for them. What was at fault was the legislation in existence, and the Minister has tackled the matter in as fair a manner as any of us could expect. We are going now to have an end, I hope, of the confiscation of land. We will have the Minister acquiring land in ways other than the compulsory acquisition of land from farmers, and we are going to have the Minister helping us out by stepping into the open market and providing another buyer for the farmers' land.

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

My intervention in this debate at this stage will be as brief as possible but I felt, when listening to some of the other Senators, that some points that affected the issue as far as the work of the Minister and the Land Commission is concerned have not been covered. I would like to say at the outset that I wish the Minister well. I know that he understands the position of the congests in practically every county in Ireland. He was dealing with it and referring to it for quite a considerable time before ever he was saddled with the responsibility of Minister. I want to point out to him that it is foolish to assume that it is only in one or two counties that real congestion exists. As everybody knows, practically every county in Ireland is congested to a tremendous extent. The fact remains that between 70 and 80 per cent. of the holdings in the Twenty-Six Counties are under £20 valuation. That is a position that will have to be faced up to. I have here a memorandum — it may not be up to date at the moment — which indicates that the number of holdings of under £4 valuation in various counties is very high. Right beside the big estates in Tipperary, Meath, Kildare, and other counties, there is a large number of small holdings under £4 valuation. That is a position that should not be lost sight of and that has not yet been fully recognised.

One of the principal points I want to put before the Minister is in connection with the value of land and the method of arriving at the proper price to be paid to the owner. The land is the country's surest asset at any time. You have a tremendous amount of inflation arising from the activity of the banks, solicitors, agents, and others who, by their connection with people in other countries, are bringing about here a system of inflation that it will be very hard for the Minister to get over when fixing prices. I have it from a very reliable source that there is one gentleman here in this country trafficking in land, I might say. The particular gentleman that I would like to allude to owns a hotel here in Dublin, another in the South of Ireland and he is also the owner of between 2,000 and 3,000 acres of land. I will guarantee to you and to the Minister, from the information at my disposal, that if they examine the thing, there are not more than seven or eight agricultural workers employed in that area of land. I think Senator Hawkins and others pointed out that there was not sufficient land in this country to make the holdings economic. Whether we agree or disagree on what should be the economic standard is beside the point but, certainly, the amount of land that is purchased by foreigners in this country would go a tremendous way towards relieving the problem in the really congested districts of Cork, Donegal, Mayo, Sligo and all these places.

I have discussed this thing with several people, and they have pointed out to me that there are between 80,000 and 100,000 acres of good land gone to foreigners here already. It was pointed out by Senator Finan that Tipperary was the real victim, as far as that kind of thing is concerned. The gentleman to whom I was referring a moment ago did not buy any land in Tipperary, with the exception of one place, and he has sold that, I believe, at a very handsome profit since to some individuals here in Dublin. That class of thing is going on, and the Minister would want to keep it very much to the forefront. Some time ago, Deputy Seán Moylan was Minister for Lands, and, faced with that situation, and, realising that he was not violating the Constitution in any way, he increased the purchase tax in connection with the purchase of these places.

Stamp duty.

Surely, if it were possible to raise that to 25 per cent., there is nothing in the world to prevent our raising it as high as 300 per cent., if necessary. There is no country in the world, I may say, in which human values count less than they do in this country. Every other day, from Tipperary, and from every other county, all over the place, you have bunches of young farmers' sons going away, people reared on land, and people inexperienced in any other method of living. They are a tremendous loss to the country. Whatever may be said for allowing this thing to happen in the past, there is nothing in the world that can be said, at this stage, for its continuance. I would appeal to the Minister to step in and to keep the land for the people of this country.

I said at the outset I would be very brief, but there are one or two other points I should like to deal with. The first is with regard to the appointing of suitable allottees in these places. I have a long and varied experience of land acquisition, and the distribution of land to suitable allottees, but the greatest hardship I ever came across was in the estates in Tipperary that were divided from 1933 to 1936 and 1937, where cottiers and others, people with a few cows, took grazing on these estates, and when the estates were not properly distributed these unfortunate people found themselves having to give up, bag and baggage, the mode of living they were carrying on, and of having to go on the roads or bogs to seek alternative employment. There was the case of the Cardew estate near Borrisoleigh in County Tipperary. The hardship there, on a number of these people, was tremendous. They had been taking grazing and conacre there for upwards of 20 years but, despite all protests at the time, they still persisted in letting the scheme go through. That was a very serious thing, a disgraceful state of affairs in any Christian country, in my estimation. These people should be kept in mind by the Minister when making allotments in the case of the distribution of land. You may find suitable applicants from any source whatever in rural Ireland. I found cottiers down in Tipperary, and here and there, all over the place, people with three or four cows, people who, through keeping any few shillings they could, were able to provide milk and food for their families as a result of their industry and activity. It would be a terrible thing to disregard that type of applicant in the case of the division of land. I would remind the Minister, in reverting again to the old, bad system of having a Judicial Commissioner merely dealing with cases on appeal and that kind of thing, that Senator Baxter, by innuendo and by other means, suggested that people were very badly treated. That will always happen in any administration.

I will just show another side of it to Senator Baxter, in just one second. You had a lot of maladministration, if I may call it so, in that connection. There has been no perfect system that we have had here, since the time that I got interested in the question away back after the troubled period in 1922. After 1922, we reinstated a lot of people ourselves, before we had any law, people who had been evicted and kept out of their holdings by the British. Naturally, we could not expect anything else from them. We must, however, give credit to the Land Commission for accepting the position, and for leaving people in their holdings. They were very numerous, and I was never sorry for it either. There are other aspects of the Judicial Commissioners. The Appeals Tribunal, I found, was a very fair method of dealing with a situation of that type. We got a tremendous amount of work done in 1934 and 1935 by setting up this instrument and, mind you, before that the Land Commission had a very bad record. I do not know what was wrong with the legal advice given to the Land Commission; every Act which was passed since the late Paddy Hogan, God be good to him, introduced the first one in 1923, was intended for the best, but when it began to be administered we found that each Act was as full of flaws as a sieve is full of holes.

Hear, hear!

An amending Act was passed almost every year, in 1926, 1929, 1931 and 1933, and every blessed one of them was the same. The Minister may smile away——

I am smiling at the truth of what the Senator is saying, in agreement with the Senator.

While the Minister may get good legal advice the whole thing will still fall back on him, and I would not like to see that happen.

The shoulders are broad.

I will give an instance in connection with the matter cited by Senator Baxter this evening. I refer to Volume 29 of the Official Debates, column 683. There was a gentleman in Cumann na nGaedheal at that time, a very mild individual, who did a tremendous amount to throw light on the situation as far as ranching in County Tipperary and in the country generally was concerned, Deputy Hassett, and here is what he said on the Land Commission Vote in 1929:—

"The Land Commission can be very generous.... There is a man with a salary of roughly a thousand a year with his expenses running, I suppose into £300 more. He has a beautiful house, with about ten rooms, hot and cold water baths, and he has between 50 and 60 acres of land. That gentleman has been allowed by the Land Commission another 351 acres with another beautiful home. ...He was allowed to sell this very fine mansion at a big price, and in addition he was allowed to sell four or five holdings."

He was allowed to do that by the Irish Land Commission, and he was quite free to walk into the market and sell those holdings. That was a grand record. The Minister will have to watch his step, although I know he is sincere about handling the situation.

I was delighted to hear some speakers, particularly Senator Loughman, who comes from an urban area, speaking with such a grasp of the situation. He put forward the Tipperary side of the question better than I could. He was accused by Senator Finan of opposing the measure, but I think they agreed afterwards.

When Senator Finan was dealing with Gibbstown, in County Meath, he held that the scheme was a failure, but that is not so. Any failure, as far as migration is concerned, was caused by the holdings being too small and uneconomic for a man with a big family. I have no more to say, except that I wish the Minister well and that I hope he will give his attention to the couple of points that I raised.

Senator Loughman said that he was a townsman. I am also a townsman from the same town, but the reason that I live in the town is that my grandfather was rack-rented off his holding and I think that should be sufficient excuse for me to say a few words on the question of land. First of all, I want to congratulate the Minister on bringing in the Bill and on trying once and for all to take land out of the realm of Party politics. The question of the land of Ireland for the last 700 or 800 years has been one of high politics. If the Minister excepts certain matters and hands them over to the commissioners, thus taking political influence away from the Department of Lands, he is doing a very good job. I hope that by the time that work is finished he may come before the House and ask to be allowed to abolish the Land Commission which would mean the end of 700 years of land war and land trouble. People in Ireland are prepared to fight for the land; they believe it is their own; they believe that in justice and equity under God the land is theirs. The sense of injustice in the hearts of the people has caused much of the land trouble in this country, and the Minister, by inserting a clause in the Bill to pay market value for land, is removing one of the causes of injustice. If I am removed from my land, getting a fair price for it, neither I nor my children have that sense of grievance begotten of our long memories — we have long memories in this country. It was the desire to overcome that, as well as his sense of justice, that prompted the Minister to introduce that clause into the Bill. He said that it would apply to any lands taken over by the Land Commission on or after the 1st December, but I would ask him to go back to the 1st June, when he introduced the Bill.

I am afraid that is not possible.

There has been a lot of talk about fair price and unfair price. I know of a case in Tipperary where a young man with his two sisters lived in a house. The boy was killed in an accident and the sisters decided to sell some of the land. Three thousand pounds were bid for it, but the Land Commission came in and stopped the sale and I think that they got nearer £300 than £3,000 for it. Those sisters, who lost their brother in an accident, hardly felt that they were well treated by the Land Commission. That is the type of injustice which, I believe, the Minister is aiming to do away with. His aims are some of the things for which Davitt, Dillon, Parnell and Kickham fought: fair rent, free sale and fixity of tenure. He has gone further than that; he is making an effort to relieve congestion. We do not speak of congestion in Tipperary. We speak of smallholders. If the Minister is empowered to buy land, according to the sections of this Bill, I believe that he will be able to get sufficient land to remove this form of congestion. I think that plenty of land is available.

The Minister has handed over 14 excepted matters to the Land Commission, whereas seven were excepted before. That means that there are now seven extra matters in regard to which no political Party will be able to pull the Minister. They are excepted and must be done by the Land Commissioners themselves. The Land Commissioners, as someone said, are neither above the law nor below the law. They are the law. In handing this over, the Minister is helping to see that the people on the land are protected. He is trying to take this question out of the realm of Party politics.

I have a complaint to make, as a Tipperary man, against the present administration of the Land Commission. The commissioners' agents in Tipperary are, to my knowledge, taking medium-size holdings off the people who have occupied land in Tipperary for generations. It has been said in my county that if you raise horses you can keep the land, but if you raise children they take it off you. I would like to see that policy changed. I know cases in Tipperary where a man has seven or eight sons and his land was taken, while a man some miles away, with seven or eight horses and some hundreds of acres, was not touched at all. There needs to be someone like the Minister in the Land Commission to see that that is not allowed to continue. Too much blood has been spilt and there has been too much bad feeling over land to allow that to continue. I know cases of young men afraid to get married because they are being visited by inspectors from the Land Commission.

With regard to what Senator Bennett has said, it seems to me that land division in Limerick was a mutual admiration society — when one Party was in they gave it to their followers, and when the other was in they gave it to theirs.

I do not think it applies so much in other counties.

I know it did not apply in my county. I am glad that Senator Hayes said that one of the mistakes made by the Land Commission in the past, particularly in the 30's, was that they gave holdings entirely too small, and in many cases to people who knew nothing about land. What is the use of giving a man ten or 15 acres? All he can do is let it as grazing to the person with a bigger farm next door. It is a sort of pension or gift, but does not supply a solution to the problem, as it merely makes another smallholder or another congest. Most of those people who have been making a fair effort to work the land will have to be given more land in Tipperary to make them economic. I would ask the Minister to see that when land is given out in future whatever is decided according to the type of husbandry and economic practice he will try to give people enough to make them fully economic as a productive unit.

The Minister mentioned in his opening speech that 200,000 or 250,000 acres come on the open market each year. I presume that if he allows his officials to purchase land he will do it where there is acute congestion. In the case of the farmers Senator Loughman speaks about, the comfortable industrious farmer who wants to buy a place for his son, where the land problem is being solved by the thrift and industry of the farmers themselves in buying up places and putting their children on the land, I presume the Minister will not do anything to interfere with that type of free settlement of the land question. That takes place to a great extent all over the country. To anyone who reads the local papers and reads of land sales it must be obvious that an enormous amount of the business is done by the people themselves rather than the Land Commission.

Mention has been made of people coming in from outside and buying land; that is a serious problem and I would ask, like other Senators, that the Minister should put his mind to it and see if he can find a solution, since a solution of some sort must be found. It might be necessary to make a further increase in the rate of duty. At present the rate is 25 per cent., and the difficulty might be overcome by putting, on large holdings, 50 per cent. duty.

In reply to what Senator Hawkins said about subdivision, I think it is desirable for the Minister to take power himself to look into this question of subdivision. Very often, a man dies leaving 200 or 300 acres. He might have acquired it by thrift and industry. He has three sons. Maybe it was the fact that he had three sons that spurred him on, giving him the natural energy and wish to provide for his children. In his will we find he decided to give 100 to each one of these sons. What happens? One of the sons gets the place with the house on it and the Land Commission comes in and grabs the other two holdings. I think the Minister is quite right to step in and say: "This is a question for simple division and I am going to do that without any reference to the Land Commission." That is a way of giving effect to substantial justice.

Senator Loughman said that there would be very good reason why land would be taken from anyone. We are a Christian people and everyone has a right to hold property, provided we give a "fair do" to the community. That is one of the things accepted by all of us. If a father dies and leaves his holding among three children, then, provided that the three parts of that holding are reasonably economic units, I think the Minister is only doing justice by coming in to see that that man is allowed to give effect to the terms of the will. The Minister would need to produce a very sound principle to justify the Land Commission giving the land to someone else. The sons are more entitled to it than anyone else, even where compensation is offered.

While we are on that aspect, may I say I believe there would be more money invested in the land if the farmer had greater security of tenure? Dr. Henry Kennedy said some years ago — I remember reading an article he wrote in Studies— that we suffer in this country from chronic under-investment in the land. Part of this may be due to the shaking of the principle of fixity of tenure and the weakening of the chance of getting something out of the land after you have invested your money in it. If I am a farmer having a few thousand pounds in hard cash to invest and I think I am going to get a good return. I would put it willingly into a farm.

If I believed that at the whim of the next Minister or the second next Minister for Lands I might be kicked out of that farm the same as the old landlord kicked me out, and that I had only the same fixity of tenure as the life of the landlord — the type of tenure we had in many parts of Tipperary — I am not going to put £2,000 into improving the land, providing new buildings and installing machinery which would make that land a better asset. It is that lack of security, coming down through the history of landlordism and its evictions, that is deep set in the minds of our people. That is why, to some extent at any rate, they are ready to put their money into the bank and to take 1 per cent. interest for it.

Any Minister that can give the people the feeling that their money is better invested in producing better and more fertile holdings is going to do a very good day's work, not alone for the farmers who own that land, but also for the whole economy of this country. That is why I ask the Miniter that no matter what pressure is put upon him he should resist doing anything savouring of the slightest suggestion that the right of ownership is not one of the principles of justice on which the whole of the Land Acts are based. If he does that and the succeeding Minister does it, it will be easy to solve the production problem on the land and, please God, the money will come out of the banks and will be put into the land to produce more for the people and to strengthen the entire economy of the country. The final word I have to say on this Bill is to ask the Minister earnestly to consider these points, and to deal with them when he is making his reply. I hope the Minister will consider, particularly, the question of fixity of tenure, which will induce people to invest in the land — people whose present lack of confidence induces them to keep their money in their pockets or in the bank. If the Minister can restore that confidence and give it in greater measure, in times to come his name will be remembered as long as the name of Davitt, the name of Parnell, and the names of Dillon and Kickham.

I happen to come from a county on which, I suppose, the Minister has an eye and in which, perhaps, the people have an eye on the Minister — the people who own the land, or the people who expect to get some of the land — the County Meath. Keen and definite interest is being taken in this Bill there, and no matter how well intentioned the Minister is in drafting it, he will, very probably, make more enemies than friends, especially in County Meath, where it is generally held and maintained that there are ample tracts of land for division among the people. Nevertheless, I think that when the Land Commission continues in 1949 and 1950 the job which it left off in 1939, they will probably find that the amount of land available for distribution is not as great as they may expect. If the Minister thinks that he will get tracts of that land for purchase in the open market in this county, I fear that I must have very grave doubts. Hundreds of acres of County Meath land were disposed of in recent times. They were not sold on the Irish market; they were sold in England. I would like to know how the Minister intends to approach a problem like that where you have some of those gentlemen who have made vast sums, legally or illegally in England, coming over and willing to pay 25 per cent. tax introduced by a former Government in the Budget of 1947, to acquire the property. Not only are they willing to do that, but they are willing to pay prices which no Irishman could afford for the land. I cannot see any means in the legislation passing through this House that would entitle the Minister, or anyone, to expect that he would get an appreciable amount of land in County Meath or County Kildare or, perhaps, in County Tipperary, either.

The people who have land to sell will continue to look for buyers from across Channel who will buy the land on the English market, and, very probably, the Minister for Lands or the Minister for Finance will have no other choice than to do what Senator Burke asks him to do—put a further stamp duty on land purchased by foreigners. That was not a very popular thing to advocate in 1947. Those who advocated it a few minutes ago opposed it, as far as I remember, when a former Minister for Finance introduced it in the Finance Act of 1947. It is extraordinary what happens in time — extraordinary that if a Minister for Lands like Mr. Moylan introduced the sections which are in the Land Bill we are considering this evening they would have such a very different reception. I am sure that some of the people who are now applauding this Land Bill would offer the most violent opposition if it came from the former Minister for Lands. Not alone would they offer opposition to it, but the majority of the newspapers and other organs of the Press of this country would shriek and howl for the blood of that Minister. Times have changed, and I am glad of it. It is a good thing to see the majority of the representatives of our people anxious to do something for the underdog — for the people who, over all these years, had to try to eke out an existence from inter-mixed plots or rundale holdings or worked with a large farmer and got their weekly wage. It is now the accepted policy of all Parties in this House and in the other House, irrespective of the past, to declare that the land of Ireland should be for the people of Ireland.

The days of landlordism have passed, but then I am glad that all people, all Parties and sections in both Houses are anxious to pay reasonable prices to the landowners irrespective of where they got the land. The sons of those people should not be blamed for the faults of their fathers or forefathers. If they did not get a fair price from perhaps the foundation of this State, from the first Act in 1923 to the Acts of 1933 and 1934 — those times were bad in this country and bad internationally, and the 1933 Land Act was dealing with the difficult time. The land was very cheap, and if the land holders did not get the price they expected and if injustice were done, I suppose it cannot be helped. Land then was not the same value as it is now. We have had a war since then and land has become very valuable, and I do not think that the blame put on the legislators of the post1932 period should have been laid as harshly as it was to-day. I believe that the Minister in 1932 was quite honest in his endeavours, as were his successors, and I believe the present Minister is as anxious as they were in his endeavour to solve the problem. No matter what legislation is passed, so far as land division is concerned, I am certain that it will not be the final piece of legislation, and no matter what the Minister's intentions may be with regard to buying land in the open market, I am not satisfied that it will be a success. I believe that he will ultimately have to go back and acquire the land by compulsion, because these people who have large tracts of land to offer will not offer them in the open market and the Minister will have no alternative but to acquire them by compulsion as in the past.

Reference was made to the colonies established in County Meath at Gibbstown, Rathcarne and Allenstown. I must say that these people are working their land excellently. They are very hard-working, decent people and the only fault I have to find with the scheme is that they did not get sufficient land. Holdings of 20 to 25 statute acres were not sufficient and these people had to go to adjoining landowners and rent land on conacre. They are still doing it and their sons and daughters had to emigrate to England as they did when they were living in the West. They have to go over during the potato-digging and harvesting periods, but if they had got 40 acres, they would not have to do so. However, they are working the amount of land they did get exceedingly well.

It is generally thought that the Minister does not intend to give much consideration to cottiers who formerly got five acres in County Meath and other counties, or to landless men, and I ask him seriously to consider these people before he reaches a decision. The landless man who got land possibly did not make great use of it, but we must remember that he started at a disadvantage — he, perhaps, got the land during the economic war and there was the added difficulty of the world war later on. He is like the child who must creep before he walks and if he had got a chance, he probably would have been highly successful. I ask the Minister to give sympathetic consideration to the claims of these men in relation to the division of land in County Meath where there are quite a number of landless men and where an agitation is being carried on, as, I think, the Minister knows, because he has received several deputations on the matter.

I can tell the Minister that I know from living in that county that the people who have been born there and who have been there for generations will not welcome the acquisition of land by the Minister for the purpose of handing it over to someone from the West of Ireland, if they are not considered as well. I recommend that the Minister should not eliminate completely from his consideration these landless men, but that they and the cottiers will be taken into consideration as well as the uneconomic holder. They are agitating for it at present and I believe will continue to agitate on the basis of the land of Meath for the people of Meath. They recognise that they cannot expect to get all the land, but the opinion exists there at the moment that any land to be divided will be given to people from outside Meath and that the only people who will get consideration will be the uneconomic holder.

I believe that a great many very good suggestions have been made in this debate, but there are two matters to which reference has not already been made. The first is the matter of the long delays in the work of the Land Commission. I have received more complaints from people in the county I come from about the long delays on the part of the Land Commission than about any other matters. In that connection, I should like to make it quite clear that I am not blaming the present Minister, because it has been going on for a great many years under many Ministers.

There are four types of delays to which I think serious attention should be given, so that an effort may be made to speed up the work of the Land Commission. The first is the delay in acquiring land. I will give one example. A fairly substantial portion of land in County Galway was inspected in 1937. The owner of the land was perfectly willing, and anxious, to hand over the land to the Land Commission. He urged the Land Commission to take it, and yet it was not taken over until 1949, 12 years after it had been offered, although a very large number of people were clamouring for that land during all that period. I congratulate the Minister on the fact that it has now been acquired. There are, however, many other cases of land which I believe should be acquired much more rapidly.

There is, secondly, the delay in paying for land, once it has been acquired. I have received complaints that, when the land is handed over, a very long period sometimes elapses between the date on which the land is handed over and the date on which the person receives payment in land bonds. Thirdly, there is the delay in sanctioning the transfer of small plots from one person to another. It sometimes happens that two neighbouring people come to a friendly agreement with regard to such transfers. One wants to sell an acre or two to the other, and both parties are agreeable, but it often takes a very long time and this sometimes causes a good deal of inconvenience, especially if it is the time of year for sowing crops, to get the sanction and consent of the Land Commission. I have heard of a number of cases in which the Land Commission eventually did give sanction, and raised no objection, but they considered the matter for an extraordinarily long time before making their decision.

The fourth type of delay is that in regard to a number of small matters such as works being carried out by the Land Commission — such as the completion of a road or a bridge which they have started. In that connection, I suggest — and I think the Minister is in favour of it — giving more power to the Land Commission officials in the county concerned. I understand that many of these long delays are due to the fact that the Land Commission officials have to await sanction from Dublin for a number of quite small items, which one would think these local officials would be allowed to decide for themselves. So much for delays. If the Minister, in addition to adopting many of the other good suggestions made this evening, could speed up the work of the Land Commission, he would be doing very good work, and a great number of people would be very grateful to him.

With regard to land division, the second point I want to make is that we should consider the different circumstances in different counties. As some of the other Senators have mentioned, in most parts of Ireland we find a large number of people asking for any portion of land which is to be divided. A Land Commission inspector told me that he got so many applications for one portion of land that was to be divided, that if they all got some land there would hardly be room to dig graves on the land for each of the applicants. In the past, the Land Commission has tended, in some cases, to give unduly small holdings, and to try to crowd too many people into 100 acres. That matter needs to be reconsidered.

The principal point to which I have to refer, however, is the situation, which is rather exceptional, I think, in County Wicklow. I am referring now to what Senator McCrea told the Seanad a few weeks ago when we were debating co-operative farms, but I think it is very relevant to this Bill. He said that in South Wicklow, where he came from, there were thousands of acres of land derelict. He said he saw no hope of these lands being divided in the ordinary way, because the adjoining lands were in economic holdings, and the local people did not want the land. I would appeal to the Minister to consider the special circumstances of South Wicklow, as indicated by Senator McCrea. He suggested that the proposal of co-operative farms should be considered in connection with the land in South Wicklow, where there are not many people looking for it. It is quite possible that there might be groups of men who would like to take over part of this land, and work it on the co-operative system, if they were allowed to do so by the Land Commission. Senator McCrea also said that he thought that would be a particularly suitable idea, owing to the fact that there was not a large number of applicants for this land, and there might not be any opposition. This is an appropriate time to put that suggestion before the Minister for Lands, so that he could consider the best use that could be made of these lands in South Wicklow, which were described by Senator McCrea as derelict, bearing in mind that one of our main objectives should be to produce more food, and to increase agricultural output per manhour and per acre. If that were done, it would benefit the whole community, both in the towns and in the rural areas.

It is pleasant to sit here to-day listening to Senator after Senator cooing the praises of this Bill. It is the first time that I found every representative from every side and of every section praising a measure that had been introduced in Parliament. I thought that was too good to last, and Senator Bennett altered the note. From a cooing dove, he became a raven croaking about disasters that might loom ahead. That note seemed to be contagious and they have all croaked since. You may wonder why a city dweller should get up to talk on a Land Bill. Senators have told us that they represent congested districts. Some Senators represent the ranching areas. I represent no area. I speak as a landless man, but I do not have to go very far back in my history, either on my father's or my mother's side, to find that they were landed people. They never were landed gentry, thank God. Somehow or other, they became landless.

Senator Fitzsimons has talked about the landless men of Meath. Some of my people in Meath have worked for two or three generations as farm labourers. They have tilled everybody's land but their own. They have herded everybody's cattle but their own. They have done the work well, but they are landless still and will remain landless. They do not own a bush that a sparrow might perch on but that makes them none the less an asset to this country. They are worth what they got and more than what they got.

I speak as a landless man and for the landless men and I think the landless men of this country, the cottiers, the smallholders and the congests, have more right to consideration in the allocation of land than any foreigner who comes in and starts a reconquest of Ireland with a cheque book. The reconquest of Ireland with a cheque book can be more dangerous than the original conquest by fire and sword.

I have heard much talk here to-night about the sacredness of private property. I am speaking directly to the Bill. I think the people who are buying up this country with cheque-books are getting too much consideration. Fears have been expressed that the rights of private property may be endangered. The rights of private property are in no way endangered, so far as I can understand, by any clause in that Bill. Private property is in the same position as it was before the Bill was drafted. Private property is defended and protected in the Constitution. The Constitution — Article 43 — says that the State guarantees to pass no law attempting to abolish the right of private ownership or the general right to transfer, bequeath and inherit property. That is Paragraph 1, sub-section 2, of Article 43 but, if that security be given to the owner of property, including land, Paragraph 2 of Article 43 goes on to say that the State recognises, however, that the exercise of the right mentioned in the foregoing provisions of this Article ought, in civil society, to be regulated by the principles of social justice.

"The State may, accordingly, as occasion requires, delimit by law the exercise of the said rights with a view to reconciling their exercise with the exigencies of the common good."

That still stands. This Bill, when it becomes an Act, will not endanger it.

I think the Minister has made the mistake that every other Minister has made in attacking the land problem, that he fears to go too fast and has not gone fast or far enough. It is an inherent evil —"evil" is too strong a word — an inherent fault — in democratic governments that, fearing to go too fast with reform, they go too slowly and revolution overtakes them. That may happen in this country as in other countries. The principle of doing things by half has never been satisfactory, particularly with regard to the land legislation of this country. I would say that things done by half are never half done.

More power should have been taken in this Bill. I am advocating nothing revolutionary at the moment when I say that something should have been embodied in this Bill which would have stopped the buying up of this country by foreigners — I do not care where they come from. There is nothing revolutionary in that. None of the business men, who are attending to their business to-day and who are not here when the land problem is being discussed, thought it was revolutionary or undemocratic or unconstitutional that a law should be passed in this country for the protection of Irish manufacturers. No foreigner can come over here and buy up an Irish industry, but the chief industry of the county—agriculture — can be bought up by buying the land on which the crops are to be grown. The people of this country could be dispossessed to-morrow if somebody rich enough came over here and offered a price high enough for the land. You could have another clearance there and then. I think that that thing ought to be stopped. Whether it is stopped in the way attempted recently by a tax, which was not nearly high enough, in my opinion, or whether it is stopped by other methods. I do not care. I think it ought to be stopped, because I think it is a dangerous thing, and it is the cause of great discontent in this country. I am not going into a detailed examination of the Bill at this point. I have read the Bill, as carefully as anybody could read it, and with all my care and study, I doubt if I understand it yet. I doubt if any Senator knows what is in the Bill, because there is too much legislation by reference in it. You would want to sit down for a month, with half-a-dozen Acts in front of you to reread this, so that it could be clearly understood by any common person of ordinary intelligence. We are only half guessing what is in it. The obvious thing is that the Minister is taking power now to pay the market value for land. That has appealed to people who have land to sell.

Maybe it is a good thing, but I doubt if it is going to be the astonishing success that some Senators proclaimed it likely to be here to-night. What will be the market value of the land? If there is a dispute between two farmers, what will the value of the land be? If two or three members of the same family are disputing about the ownership of the land, and if the people decide they are not going to interfere in a family quarrel, and are not going to bid, will the Land Commission come in and buy? Will they get it then at its market value? I think this is a problem. Supposing the Land Commission goes into the ordinary market, and bids for land, it will, in most cases, send up the price of land. The price of the land will be above the normal market value if it is known that the Land Commission wish to buy it. The man who wants to sell it will also want to get the highest possible price he can for it. He would be a fool, and lacking in friends, if somebody did not bid it up for him. Therefore, there is not going to be anything terrifically revolutionary in the fact that the Land Commission should get power to buy land in the open market. As far as I can understand, they can still acquire land compulsorily if they want it, but they will pay the market value for it. I should like to speak in support of the suggestion made here by some Senators already, that less and less be done in the way of attempting to buy votes with promises of land division through the country.

Hear, hear!

I think that has become a scandal. Minister after Minister has been subjected to a barrage of questions; does the Minister propose to do this, or does the Minister propose to do that, with so and so's farm, or to divide up such and such a parcel of land? The people who put down these questions must know, or they know nothing at all, that the Minister has neither the power to acquire land nor to divide it. That is the power of the Land Commission, and the same Deputy would not put down a question, as to when is so and so, who has been black marketeering, to be brought to trial. He would not address that to a judge of the High Court, nor of the Circuit Court, yet he wants judges of the Land Court to answer questions, in order to make a point down the country that he is going to get land. If I were Minister for Lands, which God forbid, for the sake of the country and of myself——

It is not as bad as all that.

I would declare that such questions ought not be answered. I would stand on that right, that these questions ought not to be answered, and ought not to be asked. I think it has become a scandal. I think it is making the division of land and the work of the Land Commissioners more difficult than it ought to be. As you know, I could go on for a long time, even on land, but I will come to Section 28 of the Bill. Section 28 of the Bill provides:—

"Where a person has, whether before or after the passing of this Act, been displaced from employment on land by reason of the acquisition, resumption, purchase or allotment of that land by the Land Commission, the Land Commission may, if in their discretion they so think proper, pay to him such gratuity as they consider reasonable in respect of his displacement from employment."

The Land Commission may, mark that qualification. They may or they may not, and 99 times out of 100, they will not. That is my impression. Now, it was argued here, yesterday, that a vital moral principle was concerned where a man lost his employment through the action of the State, and that he should be compensated. If the State acquires land, and knocks a poor labourer or a herd out of employment, his moral right is as great as a director of Córas Iompair Éireann or of the Grand Canal Company. I am not examining or arguing that they have no rights, but if their rights be as well founded on the same moral principles as were argued here yesterday, then the rights of the poorest labourer in this country are equal and there should not be any doubt that they should be compensated for the loss of their employment. Apart from rights, I suggest that it is justice that they should get more consideration than the gentlemen we propose to give the compensation to because their directorships have gone. They have already salted away a considerable sum which will keep them in their old age, and they have other money coming in as well. The man who has been a herd or a labourer in a big estate for 40 or 50 years has never had anything salted away, unless it be a herring in Lent. There is nothing he can live on. He has no directorship. He has lost his employment and he is not likely to get other employment. I think it should be made obligatory where a man, particularly a labouring man, loses his employment through the action of the Land Commission, that that man should definitely be compensated — I will not say on a generous, but on some reasonable scale.

The Minister has shifted over responsibility to the Land Commission for a great many things that they had no responsibility for before. Let him be wise or not in that. One of the things he has given them the determination of is to decide whether a gratuity is to be paid under Section 28 of this Act, what is to be paid, and the amount thereof. There is no use, if we pass the Bill in its present state, in appealing to the Minister to do justice when a man is knocked out of employment. He will say that is a matter for the Land Commission, that he has delegated power to act to them, and that he cannot interfere. Lest we might be accused later of the mistake of being too late, I want to make the mistake now of being too early, by drawing attention to it. I plead for justice for those poor people and I am strengthened in my argument by Section 5 of the Bill which proposes:—

"(b) where in the opinion of the lay commissioners or the appeal tribunal (as the case may be) it would be inequitable that the Land Commission should acquire the land for a price fixed on the basis of market value, the lay commissioners or the appeal tribunal (as the case may be) in fixing the price may include therein compensation to the owner for disturbance, and may also include therein, if satisfied that damage will be sustained by the owner by reason of the acquisition of the land as affecting his user of other land or otherwise causing injury to such other land, compensation, for that damage."

There are certain exceptional cases in this country, certain exceptional people, who must also get exceptional treatment, and the market value is not to be enough for them. They may also get compensation for disturbance. Even that is not enough. They may get compensation for any damage that may have been caused to them, even if they sell the land voluntarily. There is nothing like being generous to the wealthy but let us be decent to the poor. I am not arguing against it now, but I am bringing that generosity forward as an argument for not forgetting the poor labourers and landless men.

Captain Orpen

Like some other Senators, I congratulate the Minister on bringing in a Bill which is realistic and which brings justice back into our land problem. I feel that this whole land question seems to have been approached this evening in this debate from one angle only. It is a puzzle to me to know exactly what is supposed to be the primary function of the Land Commission. Is it a giant bacon slicer that is to be put into operation to cut up the land of Ireland into very thin rashers? Or is it the function of the Land Commission primarily to divide the land of Ireland so that the farms, whatever their size may be, form an economic whole so that the production from the land is brought to a maximum? The land of Ireland is the main asset from which we all, whether on the land, in the town or wherever we may be, draw whatever wealth we may possess and it should be the primary duty of the Land Commission to see as best it can that the land is utilised to the best advantage of the nation, at the same time having due regard to the people who are working on the land.

We have heard from some Senators to-night that the objective of the Land Commission should be to try and place the greatest possible number of people on the land. I wonder do people realise what would happen if that were the avowed objective of the Land Commission. At present, roughly speaking, we have working on the land half our occupied population. This country falls into the category of agricultural country, to some extent well favoured regarding climate and situation with a relatively high number of people occupied in agriculture. Such being the case, we find it necessary and desirable to find an export market for the larger part of our produce. Suppose we really increased substantially the number of people working on the land. The net result of that, as I see it, would be that the level of productive wealth from the land available to others would lower. The small farm, which was so frequently referred to to-night in this House, we must remember depends for its high productivity per acre on the existence of larger farms in the neighbourhood to produce the so-called extensive products for which the small farm is not suitable. If land division is carried too far you can easily arrive at a stage when you have an over-preponderance of small farms in relation to the rest and you have a less efficiently working country. Anybody who has had the misfortune to travel in some of the countries of Eastern Europe before the war, when they were readily available to visitors, will have seen the astonishing sight of a large number of small farms worked intensively. On those farms the inhabitants were almost starving, because they had been reduced to the condition where they had to try to produce bread for a family on ten acres of land. Of course, there you had the problem reduced to absurdity. These small farms were producing produce which was not suitable to a small farm but to a large one. The point upon which I would like the Minister to enlarge is: does he feel that it is desirable to place on the land a larger number of people than we have at the present moment?

That it is desirable to have redistribution I think is true. There are some areas where the land is congested and areas where possibly the land is not fully worked owing to insufficient labour, whether paid labour or owner-occupiers. Does he think that it is possible or desirable to increase the total number of people working on the land over and above what we have to-day? Again I should like to ask to what extent it is socially desirable to induce people to migrate from the areas in which they were reared and brought up and transplant them into areas possibly agriculturally better? What effect does he think that has on them both economically and men tally? Do they form, when trans planted, a happy, prosperous community?

I welcome this Bill. I welcome the provision for the payment of market value — for two reasons. It is only just to the dispossessed owner, but, more important still, from the point of view to which Senator Denis Burke drew attention, I welcome it because it may tend to give confidence to people on the land to plough back their savings into the land and not be afraid that, if they do such a risky thing as putting their life savings back into the farm, they may be disturbed at some time and those life savings may be lost. It is quite true that a large number of our small farmers place any savings they make in the bank for safety— whether it is safety from the possibility of being spent if left in the house or of being lost if put into the land. Be that as it may, at present they put it in the bank.

We heard a lot of talk to-night about the power the Minister is seeking in this Bill to go into the open market. I am very glad he is doing so, or at least trying whether he can go into the open market and make a success of it. I wish the Land Commission had gone in long ago. They could have done a lot of rationalisation of farms in some counties, even the eastern counties. Though we have not the rundale system there as known in the West, we have quite a large number of scattered farms, scattered in the sense that the fields are all over the place and that there is no real continuity. Had the Department been able to go into the open market, it could often, by wise purchase of some piece of land, have made a rearrangement and made some farms more easily workable.

A few months ago, I wrote to the Department of Lands suggesting that they purchase a small farm of about 25 acres, for the purpose of doing a rearrangement in my own neighbourhood. They could not see their way to do it. Fortunately, we were able in the normal way to get agreement, the farm was bought and complete rearrangement was carried out in three weeks, and now we have made five good farms where they were hopelessly scattered. I take it that that is what the Minister hopes to do, now that he can get a hold of the rundale system through his senior inspectors. It certainly worked in our case quite satisfactorily.

I would like to know if the Minister is satisfied that in the Land Commission and its policy we are not, to some extent, carrying on to-day something that was very necessary 25 years ago but is not so necessary to-day. Are we not making the mistake of thinking that we are providing a satisfactory mode of life for an allottee if we produce a subsistence farm, or something that is little more than that, and ask him to exist as a subsistence farmer in a world which lives by exchange? Whether we pass this Bill or not — and I hope we do pass it — I feel it would be very desirable to have an opportunity, at some time or other, of viewing the land of Ireland as a whole, and seeing what we are doing with it. While it is highly desirable to have the greatest consideration for those who are working the land, we must remember that there are others who have a vital interest in what we do with the land, in what use we make of it. All those who are not directly concerned, either as workers or as owners or farmers, every one of us is dependent on how those who work the land and own the land are producing wealth. We constantly find what appears to be a conflict of ideas on land utilisation.

Somebody says that, just for spectacular advertisement, we must have a big project, we must plant 1,000,000 acres of trees. We live in a latitude that has a mild winter. We can make better use of rough grazing than by planting trees. It is much more spectacular to do something we have not done before, but are we making the best use of the land by cutting it up into small pieces, by keeping large areas, planting some with trees and letting some go to waste? Right at the beginning of the debate to-day, certain Senators said their hope was that Land Commission work would soon come to an end. I want to finish up on the note that I hope that soon the Land Commission's work will change — change to looking after the land, and to safeguarding the land, trying to make farms highly productive and reorganising the land so that each unit, whether large or small, is pulling its weight and doing its share, so that in the end we may achieve for this country a high standard of living for all — for those on the land and those who live off the land.

Although I would like to support the Bill and wish the Minister success in his efforts to speed up the processes of the Land Commission, I am sure that after the great bulk of land division has been done, a great deal will remain to be done.

I am glad the Minister is adopting the policy of compulsion by inducement that we heard so much of in connection with the 1903 Act. It is a good policy, and we may say that the 1903 Act, under which the great bulk of the land was acquired and divided, was a beneficent revolution, even though it imposed a burden on the tenant farmers. It was a good revolution, and I hope that much the same will occur now in the working of this Act. As far as I understand it, the tendency of the Land Commission should be to obtain as much land as possible by voluntary agreement, but I am sure compulsion will have to be applied in a great many cases.

It will be the policy, I hope, to pay as much as possible of the real value of the land. I would think that the Minister should take notice of the point which was raised by Senator Counihan about the discouragement of local agitations for the acquisition of land. In many cases, those agitations were due to the inefficiency of the Land Commission. If the Land Commission was efficient in its work, there would not often be the need for such agitations— agitations which unfortunately led to deep animosities which remained for a long time. It would be well, in my opinion, that the acquisition of land should be left solely to the Land Commission without outside interference. Very often these agitations are raised in a vindictive spirit. Sometimes they are very necessary and without them in some cases land would not be divided, but I would say that in the future, the less local agitation there is the better it will be. The Minister in carrying out his policy of obtaining land by voluntary purchase will be faced with a very great difficulty, an almost insuperable difficulty, as many of the Senators reminded us. I refer to the opposition of outside or foreign buyers. As it happens, the very land that would be most needed for division and most suitable for it, is the very land the foreign speculator is anxious to obtain. That land will be offered first of all to foreigners. It is only natural that a man with land to sell will try to get the highest bidder he can and he will naturally offer his land for sale in the market in which he thinks he can get the highest bid. That will be the Minister's great difficulty and I would agree that that question should be tackled by the Government.

A small number of foreigners is an asset, especially in trade and commerce, but in the acquisition of land they are a great danger, especially when they come in large numbers. In this they constitute a danger. I think the Government would be justified not only in imposing an increase in the present tax but in imposing a complete prohibition of the acquisition of such land by foreigners except under licence. I do not see why that could not be done. There are occasions, of course, on which it might be desirable for a man to come in and purchase land and the licensing provision would permit that, but especially in view of the inflation of money, the general purchase of land by foreigners should be prohibited. The tax of 25 per cent., as we have seen, is not acting as a deterrent any longer. If this present Bill is to be a success, the step I have suggested is the first one the Minister should take to see that foreign competition is stopped. As regards the purchase of land by the Land Commission in the open market, that is always uncertain. I would like to call the Minister's attention to one further line. He mentioned several thousands of acres being put on the market each year, for instance, in the dairying districts of Limerick, where normally farms run from 30 to 50 Irish acres. Where a farm of that size goes on the market, especially if there is a house and out-buildings for the stock, unless it is known that it is wanted to accommodate a farmer whose land is purchased in a congested area for division, it would be a waste of public money and contrary to public policy, in my opinion, for the Land Commission to buy that farm. Such a farm should be left to a man who would work it as much as it was worked before and there would be no need for the State to interfere. The fact that it would not have houses or out-buildings would make it a different case altogether, but for the type of farm I mentioned there would be no necessity for the Government to take it over and they could not improve matters by giving it to anyone except a person who would buy it.

The next question is that of market value, and I would like to remind the House that the Bill of 1942 contained a clause providing for the market value. That clause was inserted here in this House. An amendment was moved to that effect, and the Minister for Lands, Mr. Moylan, accepted the amendment, and it has been the law ever since. It is a very good thing indeed, and I am sure that there will be no injustice in the future. Somehow I doubt that where land was purchased compulsorily the owner received full value. That was due, first of all, to the system laid down in the 1923 Act, taken perhaps from the previous Acts. The 1923 Act had a clause providing that the price should be the price which was fair to the seller and to the Land Commission. That remained the price at which the Land Commission could purchase the land and divide it again and fix annuities to be paid by the allottees. If you examine that you will see that that provision led to many injustices. It laid down a very wrong principle. It laid down the principle that the burden of carrying through the work of resettlement on the land, which, as Senator Bennett said, is primarily a social service, would be laid on the shoulders of individual owners, instead of on the community as a whole. That is what it meant, and it was the working of that clause, providing that the land should be purchased at a price which was fair to the Land Commission, coupled with the fact that out of the price the land annuities were redeemed, that made the thing so very wrong to holders of land, especially in the richer lands, where the actual value was very high. I hope that position will be remedied, and certainly the fact that the annuities will not be deducted will help considerably.

There will be a great difficulty in fixing the market price, but I do not think it will be insuperable. Land is being sold in every district and any competent person, an auctioneer or farmer, could say offhand what the normal value of land would be. If a farm is put up for sale, a man is usually able to say that it will go for so much. There may be exceptional circumstances in regard to this or that farm, but they would not affect the general level of value of land in the area. I do not believe there will be any insuperable trouble in that regard. One thing is certain and that is that this change will entail the paying of the full market value for land without passing it on to the allottee, because, if you pass on the very high cost of land at present to the allottees, you will make their position impossible and will be securing beforehand the failure of the allottee.

It comes down to this, that the State must be prepared to shoulder the burden. There is no way out of it. That burden will be heavy if a great deal of land is acquired, as I hope it will be, but it will be money very well expended. There is no work which anybody can do—the building of a road, the erection of a house or the drainage of land—which is in any way comparable with the setting up of a new farm and a new homestead and a new family on the land. There is no social service that one could imagine that would be comparable with that and the Government should not hesitate to expend any amount of money necessary to do that and to do it so far as possible with general goodwill and without injustice to anybody. I hope the question of finance will not interfere and I am sure the community would not begrudge the necessary expenditure for such a purpose.

There is another question connected with the division of land which is of first-rate importance, that is, the size of the holdings. Several Senators spoke about it to-day and said it was impossible to lay down a fixed size. I agree, but remember that the whole success of failure of land division, no matter how it is carried out, depends in the long run on the size of the holdings; the size of holdings varies from area to area. In the poorer areas, where the people are used to small holdings, they will live in a very small place, but, in the richer areas, where the standard of life is higher, the people would not continue to live on such small holdings. If the holdings are made too large, there will be fewer people settled on them—that is one difficulty—but if they are made too small, the whole thing will go to loss.

There is a continuing change in the standard of living. I know people who live on holdings of ten or 15 acres and they seem to be quite comfortable, but they live hard and have none of the luxuries which we consider necessaries to-day. Their children would not live in the same conditions because the young people of to-day expect things that older people would have done without and they can get these things in the towns. The whole object of the trade union movement has been to raise the standard of living of workers and the standard of living is rising rapidly. Although it might not affect isolated places in the country at present, it is gradually extending into the most isolated places, and what the Minister must understand is that these allottees or their children will expect to be able to get a living out of these holdings or they will not stay, but will go away to positions in the towns.

Our aim in giving an allottee a holding should be to provide him with something which will enable him to stand on his own legs, without requiring help from the State. It should be economic, and it should be such as to enable the State to say: "We have provided for you. The State is now finished. You must carry on." If the holding is too small, the income from it is not sufficient to provide the family with what they consider to be necessaries to-day. That position is even worse in the case of agriculture, because, if there is a loss, if cattle die or a bad season occurs, the income will be so small that the cattle cannot be replaced, and sooner or later the man will fail. The main thing the Minister will have to watch is the rise in the standard of living which will make these small holdings uneconomic. There is also another thing to be watched carefully. We do not know what the future may bring. We have in Eastern Europe a system of collective farms and, on the other side, we have the mechanisation of farms which makes more and more economic the very large holdings. If these holdings given under the Land Acts are too small, they will inevitably lead to what we might consider to be collectivisation in some form or other.

This question of the size of farms is one in which I was always interested. It presents a difficulty, as I say, because the standard will vary in different places, but, taking my own area —Limerick, Tipperary, parts of Cork and such dairying districts— I can say that a man would require at least 20 Irish acres of good land to provide him with an economic holding. That might seem strange to people from other parts of the country, but it is the truth. I read recently that the Danish Government, when they started to develop and organise agriculture, aimed at holdings ranging from 40 to 70 acres. The size, to my mind, was very significant. Seventy acres represent about 40 Irish acres, and, looking around Limerick and Tipperary, I find that the normal type of farm in these counties is about 40 Irish acres. These farms survived from before the Famine down through all the changes to to-day, while all the small farms disappeared one by one. That should be a headline for the Minister in these places.

I feel certain that the minimum would be 20 Irish acres of good land as an economic holding and that anything less would only be creating danger, because in many cases people who got land took it with the intention of selling it when the time was up or of buying their neighbour's land. That would be the result of making these holdings too small, and whatever the temptation may be I hope the Minister will resist it.

I agree with what Senator Hawkins has said that a man who gets an allotment of land is getting a present from the community worth from £500 to £1,000 and the least that the community would expect is that he would work it to its full extent. It would be very wrong to allow a man who has got such a present to put it on the market after some years and to get £400, £500 or £1,000 for it. These lands should not be vested for close on 20 years after allotment, so as to prevent that kind of thing.

As regards the type of men who should get land, there are some classes who are more deserving and to whom it is safer to entrust land than others. Many people look for land who have no intention of working it and who will want to get out of it again, because they got it for nothing. The first claimant certainly would be the uneconomic holder in the district. He would have a great claim because it is his only opportunity of making his own holding economic. There are many families in different parts of the country who have no land of their own but who take grazing and keep cows and generally are very industrious. Any land that these people get will be an asset because we can be sure they will work it. Then there are agricultural labourers. The great majority of these would be greatly benefited by an allotment of land. If they had a small allotment, such as they were originally given, of five or six acres, it would be a great god-send to them. I do not say that of all of them. There is a certain number—it is rapidly growing—of cottiers who have no interest in the land. They are employed in non-agricultural work and it would be a waste to give them land but the great majority of agricultural workers and cottiers would benefit by getting an allotment and I would appeal to the Minister that, where cottiers are deserving and inclined to work the land, they should get their chance in any division.

I am not a great authority as to the practicability of moving migrants from the West. I hope it is practicable because, when we look at the West and see the immense population there compared with the scanty population in the rural parts of the East, we see at once the advantage of migration and we see the unnatural division whereby the great bulk of the population is placed on the barren lands while the richer lands are practically unpopulated. I would not like to exclude the idea that numbers of these would be brought over from the West.

I agree with Senator Finan that a man who worked on rocky land, who lived on a very poor patch, may be unfitted to work the rich lands but we have a Department of Agriculture and we could train these men and put them through a test before giving them the land. These people go to England and America and do well in all walks of life. There is no reason why, if land is available, they should not be trained how to work it and then get it. I agree that if there is land available in their own vicinity, it would be better to give them that land but I do not believe that there would be a great deal of such land available.

I suggest that, where land is being divided, plots would be given to each parish for a common ground. There were common grounds in practically every parish, even in my memory. These were taken up from time to time. Now that each rural community is being organised in accordance with a parish plan, it would be well that every parish would have some land of its own for sport and many other purposes.

There is a matter of local interest on which I should like to get some information from the Minister. There is a special clause in the White Paper, relating to five holdings in County Limerick, which had been created after the 1923 Act and which had not been purchased. They are being purchased under this Bill. I have been asked will their annuities be halved, as in the case of the people to whom the 1936 Act applied. There are other such holdings in different parts of the country, some of which have already been purchased but the annuities were not halved. The present owners were allowed to purchase but did not get the reduction provided in the 1936 Act. I have been asked to find out if, under this Bill, these people will get the reduction provided for in the 1936 Act. so that they will all be treated alike.

I shall not delay the House at this hour. Had I spoken early in the day I might have discoursed at great length, but every point that I wished to refer to has been dealt with by previous speakers. I would not speak at all were it not for the fact that reference has been made to migrants. I must compliment Senator Fitzsimons on his truthful remarks, as a Senator from Meath, who has seen for himself what the migrants have done in Meath. I do not apologise to anybody for saying that, despite the fact that many of these migrants came from the hills of Donegal, West Cork, Kerry and, in particular, from the Minister's constituency; proportionately, they produce more wealth in this nation than any other section of people. Some time ago Bord na Móna brought Senators on a visit to the bogs to see the good work being done there. That was a very good thing to do. If it were possible for the Minister for Lands to bring some of the Senators who are doubtful on a visit to Gibbstown and the other colonies of Meath to see for themselves that even the very headlands are under cultivation and that there is not as much waste land as you could stand on, they would come back changed people. Are those Senators forgetful of the amount of food those people produced during the crisis in this country? If there is any monument to the credit of the previous Government and their predecessors, it is what they have done in regard to the migrants. I always like to give credit where credit is due. Those people who speak so lightly about not taking people from the mountains or rocky lands into good lands are greatly mistaken.

I am sorry to say that in the other House and throughout the country there are certain men—politicians, of course—and, in fact, a certain small organisation, trying to organise the local people now. In fact, I have read that one person said that he would see that the migrants were boycotted. Any person who speaks in that way has a very short memory. I saw recently that there was a meeting held at Ashbourne to protest against migrants. In 1916 the people of Ashbourne did not meet and say that Thomas Ashe or General Richard Mulcahy should not lead the men of Fingal.

Or Martin Savage.

Senator O'Reilly mentions Martin Savage. The people of Ashtown did not say that Martin Savage should not come from Tubbercurry to lead the attack on Lord French and to give his life at Ashtown so that we would enjoy freedom. Now, these people come along and say that the brother of Martin Savage is not to get a holding of land in Meath. I agree that local requirements should first be satisfied. If there are reasonably suitable local applicants they should in every case get first consideration. But, after that, I say, put the people into the land. The land of Ireland is for all the people of Ireland, and put the people into that land who will make most use of it. If there is any doubt about that, it would be well for those people who have doubts, to go and visit these places for themselves. I am satisfied they will come back, as convinced as I am, having been amongst these people for the last ten years, of the good they have done. I, certainly, congratulate the Government that was responsible for putting them there. One gentleman went so far as to say: "the slum in Gibbstown." Well, if Gibbstown is a slum, I would like to see more slums of that type in the country. In Gibbstown I know, at least, one family where they reared 14 children, and after rearing 14 children, the tenant was able to give £1,100 for a farm of land. Now, he did that on 20 acres. What would he have done on 35 acres, which he should have had? The only thing in the world wrong with Gibbstown is that the holdings are a bit too small. As a matter of fact, I would make an appeal to the Minister, that in the allocation of land in Meath, if there were any convenient, I would make a very, very special appeal to the Minister, to consider giving an additional allocation to every one of these people, particularly, those that have made good, the people that tilled every sod to the very headland, and the people who have never let one acre of the land.

These people, as stated by Senator Fitzsimons, during the crisis period went to the farmers beside them, and tilled their land also; if you like to call them farmers, the people who held the land. The strange thing is, that it is these same persons who are raising this agitation, and saying that they are going to boycott the poor migrants if they are put in after the local demand is satisfied. They have not a word to say about the foreigner. I am with them, if they join together to boycott the foreigner, and I will go anywhere with them on that. I am speaking as one who took part in the Land War in this country, when I was very young, in the West of Ireland. I took part in the Land War and in the driving of the landlords' cattle. The way in which this Bill has been received in the House, on all sides, is a compliment to all the Senators who have spoken. I recommend the speech of Senator Hayes to everybody. I thought it was the most sincere statement I have heard made. I think it is a great thing that we have reached a time in this country, when you have a Minister who has the confidence of all sides, and of all classes of people in the House. He is tackling a very awkward, and a very tough job, and no matter how enthusiastic the Minister is I am satisfied, no matter how enthusiastic or anxious he is, that he will need another Land Bill to solve the land question in this country. The Minister smiles at me, but as Senator Sean Hayes has stated, I am afraid the Minister will find that when he comes to the legal points he will be up against it in the same way as his predecessors. I believe his predecessors thought that they had dealt with the question, but they got sadly disappointed. I hope the Minister is not disappointed.

As far as the allocation of tenants is concerned I, certainly, say that if there are suitable applicants locally, he should consider them, but what I would suggest is, that in every case it should be for a trial period. I do not believe, as Senator Martin O'Dwyer has stated, that any person in this country should be picked out and given £1,000 worth of the people's money. We should have a right to see what use he made of it, and I suggest that he should be given a trial period. We should give him a probation period. This, particularly, applies in connection with cottage tenants. I know certain cottage tenants in County Dublin that got five acres of land. At the time they were on the dole but, because they worked hard and were industrious and worked late and early, and they grew rhubarb and strawberries, they are comfortable, well-off people to-day. That was because they made good use of their five acres. I know this, and Senator Fitzsimons will bear me out, that there are people who got five and seven acres and they should be put in prison for the neglect they gave it. There is that contrast. I do not like the idea that cottage tenants should be left out altogether. I say that every cottage tenant—that is, somebody who worked all his lifetime for somebody else—should, in my opinion, get a chance to work a couple of acres for himself. Owing to the late hour, I am not going to detain the House, except to say that I wish the Minister good luck in his work. I am one of those who feel confident that, with God's help, he will make a good job of it, both for his section of the Government of this country, and for the country as a whole.

I take it there is no possibility of the Minister getting in. There is no necessity to sit late.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Unless the House would agree to carry on.

I wonder how many speakers there are to speak.

I tried to get in.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I had better explain that passing reference of Senator O'Reilly's. Senator McGee has been here all day. Senator Martin O'Dwyer has been here all day. It would be unfair to call on Senator O'Reilly before I called on other Senators who have been here all day.

If we sit later to-night we could get through it.

We will let the Minister finish.

Is that agreed? Senator Tunney suggested I should finish to-night. Is that agreed?

I do not know what Senator McGee will have to say.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Would the House agree to continue later?

There are great inconveniences in sitting much later than 10 o'clock. If there are three other speakers, the Minister will get in before 10 o'clock, and he would require at least an hour. We must meet next Wednesday, in any event.

With all respect to the Chair, when I made the remark it was to indicate to the Chair the number of speakers there might be. It was in no way to suggest that the Chair was not correct in its ruling in calling on speakers.

It was in reply to my point.

I hope I make that quite clear.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Very good!

I am so much accustomed to the Land Commission that I received their kindness down the years. I do not suppose I made a faster friend than the previous Minister, Mr. Moylan, one I appreciate more, and whose friendship, I hope, I will always hold. With regard to the present Minister, when I first read his remarks that he was going to pay 20/- in the £, I was delighted to see that the era of Christianity was recognised in his very first stride. It is not only the 1,000,000 acres required by the Land Commission that will be affected by the fact that the Minister has assured us that he will pay market value. In my opinion if the Land Commission had started on that foot in 1923 the Minister for Agriculture's reclamation scheme would be uncalled for to-day because the idle hills, the closed drains and the overrun scrub lands are due to the failure of the Government to stand with credit behind the Irish farmer. No greater act of sabotage could be committed than to state that you would confiscate land below its value and that the State would deprive everyone who owns land of every 1/-, but now it has been affirmed that the State will pay market value. That is a healthy sign and a Christian sign. It is Mr. de Valera's Constitution and I am glad to see that we are all standing under the banner determined to do this. There is not a banker in Dublin who does not watch every word which emanates from this House on an occasion like this. It is not for me to go back on the statements which were made, but take any farm which lacks capital; that is the type of farm which will be the first to be acquired obviously and you will find that the banks have mortgages on it. The fact that the Minister has said these few words will give encouragement and every farmer who has gone into the town to buy manures, to buy cement to repair a drain or to buy new implements has found these words reflected in the affirmative answers which have issued from the head offices of the banks in Dublin.

I have been in the courts the Minister operates and I have received justice from the Land Commission but here again they are on the wrong foot. You announce the value but you do not produce evidence on oath as to the value. You do not produce someone as against the owner of the land and have him examined and cross-examined in a way that would give a feeling of confidence.

I presume that the Senator is referring to the court assessor. He is a court messenger and I think that fact in itself is almost equal to evidence of a sworn witness who would not be a messenger of the court.

The State has the right morally and legally to acquire land so long as it pays 20/- in the £. Every citizen is in conscience entitled to 20/- in the £ on behalf of his children who are so dear to his heart. But in the courts you have someone behind a curtain—it is not the iron curtain but it is an iron curtain to the owner of the land. There is no one to say that he valued the land for the Land Commission at so much less than the owner claims. Is there or is there not? To have such a man in court would lead to justice, fair play and equality. Am I right or am I wrong? That to my mind is the kernel of the difficulty which has asserted itself since the establishment of our Irish State. I have been in the court not once, not twice, but 20, 30 or 50 times. While it is a fine thing and a glorious thing and one of the things which gives most credit to Ireland, at the same time when you are going to acquire land and the owner comes forward to the court you should not only produce sworn evidence but the character of the man who gives the evidence should be in the public eye. I should like the Minister to realise that this matter is being discussed frequently up and down the country. As the matter stands it looks silly and is a hardship, so much so that the Minister's words were the biggest fillip that Irish land has got since an Irish Parliament was established.

Once or twice I thought that the Minister was weakening a little and I thought I heard him slipping into "market price" and not "market value." Why not bolster up landowners? It is the only thing a man can own, and if he has a bit of land the first thing he should put his withers into is buying another bit which will produce a future for his family rather than send them to the universities to make doctors or solicitors of them, so that in a short time they will have to go across to a foreign land. The people on it have the first claim to the land. Irish people on the land, who are working it to the best possible level, are entitled to consideration, first, last, and all the time.

Among allottees are many friends of mine and relations. There is one way to get the allottees and one way only —again open court and none of this back of the ditch work. It does not matter what they are, parsons or priests, we should have none of this back of the ditch work. What we want is open court together with the public men of the county and the character of the public men of the county. Question them.

For the selection of allottees?

Yes, I am talking from experience. I am in the position of dealing with no less than 1,000 tenants. Every one of those 1,000 tenants signs bills and in 30 years they have never defaulted. I heard a Fianna Fáil Deputy state in the other House the other night that in considering an allottee the first thing should be to get the certificate from the auctioneer he has dealt with. It is there you will find earnestness and determination to get on. Men from the headlands with their trousers tied with a straw rope below the knee come along to pay £3, £5 or £10 an acre for a few extra acres to add to the 20 or 30 acres they have, and they are the men who should get the land first. You will not get them through Fianna Fáil clubs; you will not get them through clever Senators or through even more clever Deputies. You will get them through the bills they have honoured. That is where you will find earnestness and effort.

To cut a long story short, provided you step up as you began, paying 20/- in the £, paying it without any measure except the measure not only of justice but of generosity, the 1,000,000 acres you want, taken at a good price, will help the people on the other 11,000,000 to live, to pay wages, to produce food and to employ 20,000, 30,000 or 40,000 labourers, and more if we can procure them. These men should be cherished. Labourers who work for us are entitled to the best life we can give them. They are entitled to decent plots and these should be the first charge on the land that they worked for generations. The labourers of Ireland stood with the farmers and not with the landlords when the fight had to be made.

It worries me in the county council of which I am a member to find farmers hesitating to give them sites for cottages. Is it not worth £30 an acre more to get the very best site for the best cottage for the greatest asset that the Irish race can erect, this cottage home for the worker? Do not be small about giving the price, do not ask the farmers to be the sole contributors. If the nation wants to keep the cottages occupied, let the nation contribute and not the land alone. Is it not up to the taxpayers to treat the farmers as the British treated the landlords of 1903? If the price is too high, wipe off the debts and secure him by giving him a bonus, the same as in 1903. You are giving it to your own national, in nine cases out of ten, and not to the dukes or earls. It is foolish to be depressing the price of land, foolish to the allottees, who should be relieved by the taxpayer. It is foolish to the labourer. If you cannot earn your wages for your workmen, your whole show stops. He is the bedrock and the foundation. Although he may get a favourable price for eggs or pigs, he can consume a lot at home. It is up to you to live up to the spirit of 20/- in the £, not only in justice but with generosity. There is no use in depressing the price of the 11,000,000 acres for the sake of the 1,000,000 you want to provide. If you want to give vitality to the rural life, you will stand behind the first attempt you made— 20/- in the £ all the time.

Before I heard Senator McGee, I was wondering what I would say if I got a chance to stand up. I never heard so much said by so many people about so little, but since Senator McGee's speech I am satisfied I have not over-stated the situation. I have heard a lot of wild statements from time to time in this House and outside, but I will give the brush, as they say in the country, to Senator McGee if he suggests that the selection of allottees should be left to the Deputies.

I did not do so. I asked that it be left to the local court and if the character of the public men behind them was worth it, it should be taken into consideration.

I understood, in reply to a question put in by the Minister, that the Senator suggested it should be left to the local representatives.

Never once.

I understood that, as far as the character of the individuals was concerned, it was to be left to the local auctioneers. No one, of course, has greater respect for auctioneers than I have, particularly for Senator McGee. That was the reason I felt quite uneasy when listening to his speech. Nothing that Senator McGee has said was too much to say about the majority of people to whom land has been allotted. The majority have made a success of it. It is only the minority we have trotted out to us here and in the other House from time to time as failures. Because a few have been failures, the people who would normally be against land division hold up those few failures as a reason why further land should not be divided.

I felt that a whole lot was said about very little. While I wish the Minister all the luck in the world, I am afraid that he is himself over optimistic as to the results. I have read the speeches made in the Dáil by the Minister and by those who were for him and those who were against him, and I am still very puzzled as to what the result of this legislation is likely to be. The first thing that strikes me, in reading the debate, is the question of market value. Senator McGee seems to be quite satisfied that from now on the market value will be paid for all land acquired by the Land Commission. He is an auctioneer and I am an auctioneer myself. I can honestly say I cannot see how it is going to work. As far as I can gather from the debates in the Dáil, if a farm is for sale down the country a representative will be sent down from the Department. Now, when a farm is put up for sale, naturally the people in the country district are very wise, far wiser than the same number of people would be at a city auction. No man can go in to the auction there that they will not be able to say where he came from. There is no such thing as the possibility of a man coming down in disguise from Dublin, and it being said after the auction: "We never knew it, but he was the man from the Department of Lands." They would know before he gets off the train.

Supposing he is one of themselves, one of the key people?

Then they would know ahead of the time, before he started. I am sure the Minister is as wise as I am regarding country conditions, and almost as wise as Senator McGee. It is impossible to imagine a situation in which a man representing the Land Commission would not be known in the local area. Maybe I am wrong—I hope so, and I hope the thing will work. I am all for giving the market value, but we will have to know how it is going to be done. That has not been explained so far and I am not yet satisfied that it will work out satisfactorily.

Let us take it that there is to be an auction and three or four people are prepared to buy the land, and a representative comes from the Department. Let us say that the normal value—I do not say the market value or the economic value, but the price which the farm would be likely to make—is £2,000. The local people are assembled and one of these is prepared to give £2,000. Immediately he sees the Land Commission representative at the sale, he says to himself: "Now, this is no place for me; if the Land Commission have their eye on this farm, there is no use in my bidding." Therefore, the local man, who would normally be prepared to buy the land, will not bid at all, the result being that the farm is put up for sale and the Land Commission buy it. Their representative buys it, as far as I can see, at a price which is really not the market value. As far as the auction is concerned, the market value is the price the farm would be likely to make in an open and free market. My contention is that, as soon as the Land Commission representative attends the sale, it ceases to be a free market.

What about Merrion Street—the Land Commission court?

We are dealing with an auction where the Land Commission representative goes to buy a farm. As long as the Land Commission retain the right to acquire a holding, there is no hope whatever of maintaining what the Minister suggests he is out to maintain in this Bill, that is, a system whereby the market price will be given for a holding. As I say, if a local farmer goes up and is prepared to buy, and he sees a Land Commission inspector at the auction, he will drop out. He will drop out because he will say to himself that if the Land Commission want the farm and he gets it, there is nothing to stop them from stepping in the next day and acquiring it from him. That is my opinion how it will work. I hope the Minister is right, but I doubt it very much.

The next question that comes up is about fixity of tenure. We had statements made in the other House, not so much by the Minister for Lands as by the Minister for Agriculture, in support of this Bill. He suggested that for the first time we would now have fixity of tenure, and he went on to say that any land which had been let for grazing over a number of years was automatically marked out for acquisition by the Land Commission.

I did not catch the Senator—who said that?

The Minister for Agriculture. I thought I had the report from the paper in my pocket, but in case I do not finish my speech to-night I will certainly have it next day. It was reported in the Irish Independent about a week ago, but if it is not so, nobody will be better pleased to hear it than I will be. God forbid that I should take everything the Minister for Agriculture says as gospel, but he is reported in that paper as saying in so many words that any land let on the 11 months' system will be automatically marked out for acquisition and allocated to the people renting the land— in other words, where a man was renting land for five or six years, the Land Commission under the present Bill would acquire that land because it was let on the 11 months' system, and would divide it automatically because the man grazed it for a number of years. Senator McGee will agree with me that this would be the direct opposite to establishing fixity of tenure. That, in my opinion, is what it would do.

Then where is the land or what kind of land, will the Senator suggest, the Land Commission would acquire for the relief of congests or how would they get it?

I do not suggest for a moment that land should not be acquired for the relief of congestion. I have been urging that as far back as 20 years and I will continue to speak in support of it to claim that at the end of another 20 years all the land that is necessary for the relief of congestion will then be divided is not correct despite what the Minister may say. I do say here that it is a dangerous policy and a dangerous line to follow to say in a sweeping way that land let on the 11 months' system for grazing would be automatically marked out for acquisition by the Land Commission.

Let us take the case of a farmer of 50 or 100 acres. A hundred acre farm is a normal size farm—I do not think a farm of that size could be called a ranch—when it has living on it a man and his wife and, perhaps, six young children. You may have a case—it often occurred—that through some misfortune the man gets sick and gets into bad health with the result that he is not able to pay proper attention to his business. His doctor tells him that if he is to get well again he must stop worrying about his dairy or his tillage and that if he does not he is not going to recover. In that case the only thing for him to do is to rent his land. I say with a full sense of responsibility that that is a general occurrence in this country. Any doctor will tell you that the principal thing which kills a person is worry. If a man gets into delicate health his doctor may advise him to stop worrying and the only thing he can do is to rent his land for a couple of years. The man may die and if he dies it is quite on the cards that his wife has no hope whatever of running that 100 acres herself and bringing up her family. If she lets the grazing of her holding and if we are to take the statements made in the Dáil by the Minister for Agriculture, that land is marked out for acquisition. I know that somebody will say it could not happen, but unfortunately it has happened in the past and will happen in the future. It is happening at the moment. That is more likely to happen under this Bill than ever before, and to my mind it is the direct opposite to the establishment of fixity of tenure. The Minister's statement is one that should be contradicted either by the Minister for Agriculture or the Minister for Lands—preferably by the Minister for Lands in his reply to the debate.

Suppose the Senator quotes the exact words of the Minister for Agriculture that he objects to we would know where we would be getting?

I promise to quote the exact words before finishing my speech because if necessary I will keep on talking to-night and will produce the quotation to the Minister when I finish my speech the next day.

I was listening to the Minister for Agriculture and I could not agree that the Senator is giving us an exact reproduction of what the Minister said.

I would be the last man to misquote the Minister for Lands, or even the Minister for Agriculture, if for no other reason than that I would not want to be found out. If I am not giving his exact words, I am going as near as anybody could go without the exact words as they are printed in a paper which I do not read very often, the Irish Independent.

The next question is what is the size of an economic holding. The question has been asked by previous speakers from both sides of the House and it is a question to which the Minister has not so far attempted to give a definite reply. I do not blame the Minister for not having given a definite reply for the simple reason that it is a very difficult question to answer. I believe, and have believed for a considerable number of years, that the size of what is called an economic holding by the Land Commission is not in reality an economic holding.

The Irish Land Commission set out a great many years ago and decided that approximately 25 to 30 acres, in or about, was an economic holding. To my mind, and I think I know as much about land and land division and the working of farms as most other people, no man can decide what would be an economic holding on the basis of acreage. For instance, if you were to strike out and say that 30 acres are the proper size for an economic holding you may go along and divide an estate down in Wexford and give the allottees 30 statute acres of land. You may go to Mayo, Galway, Leitrim, Longford or several other towns and give a man 30 acres of land also. Then you acquire a holding ten or 12 miles from Dublin and you give the allottees 25 to 30 acres also. I suggest it is an injustice to those in other counties to be given only 25 or 30 acres compared with the man who is within striking distance of Dublin. Surely there is no comparison between the man beside Dublin and the man in what might be called the backward areas, where 25 to 30 acres could not be regarded as an economic holding.

The Land Commission is a very extraordinary machine. I have seen various Ministers go into the Land Commission, each one more enthusiastic than the previous Minister, so far as the Land Commission was concerned. As I have said, a 25 or a 30-acre farm is not sufficient and I suggest that from now on the Minister should see that, varying with the situation of the land, holdings would be nearer to the 50 to 60 acres mark. There are various reasons why I say that. I have held for a number of years that the 30-acre holding was not big enough, for the simple reason that to work a 30-acre holding a man must have a pair of horses to do his ploughing, mowing, reaping and so on, and a pair of horses would graze more land than would be justified in relation to the entire size of the holding. Therefore, I say that the bigger holding is more economic than the 25 or 30-acre holding. With the drift to mechanisation, which seems to be inevitable and which seems to be almost a matter of Government policy at present, it is all the more important that the holding should be slightly bigger than heretofore.

Many of us here know that the difficulty in connection with farming in the past is the overhead cost. When I talk of overhead cost I mean that in connection with farming 30 acres a man will need to have a certain amount of machinery. There are several things he must have. He must have a mowing machine, a plough, a rake, a couple of harrows and various other things. The same amount of overheads would do for twice the amount of land, and, in fact, for four times the amount of land, but I can quite see the impossibility of dividing land on a bigger acreage basis than approximately 50 acres. As the cost of living increases, the size of the economic holding must alter. When I speak of the cost of living I mean what has already been said by Senator O'Dwyer, that the younger people of to-day are not satisfied to live in the conditions in which their forefathers, and even their fathers and mothers, were prepared to live. While 30, 40 or 60 years ago people living on the land were prepared to stay at home six days of the week and to go to Mass on Sundays, their successors in 1950 are not prepared to live in these conditions. The younger people to-day seem to demand a change of air —they want to travel more and they want to go to town. I do not object in the least, but I say that every change in that direction means an increase in the cost of living.

Let us take one small item. In 1920, 1910 or 1900, when most of us here were young, very few people smoked and particularly at that time there was practically no such thing as smoking by women. To-day, with the march of time and the advance of civilisation, people have taken to smoking and it is quite a normal thing in any household to see not alone the boys but the girls smoking in the presence of their parents. Again, I say there is nothing wrong with that.

Is that civilisation?

Of course it is.

Mr. Hayes

The Senator was speaking ironically.

It is the march of time. Take the average family of four. There are two people in that family smoking who would not have been smoking when the 25-acre farm was established as an economic holding. Suppose they smoked 20 cigarettes a day, and they are not doing anything very wild if they smoke 20 cigarettes per person per day. That represents in or about £60 per year and if the Minister consults his colleague, Senator McGee, he will agree that £60 is the normal extra which has to be paid, unless we are to have a dictatorship, and if we were to have Senator McGee as dictator——

I might inform the Senator and the House that in determining the size of the holding the Land Commission do not take into account the smoking capacity of the allottee.

If I thought the Land Commission had taken into consideration the smoking capacity of allottees I would never have stood up to make this speech. What I want to remind the Minister of is that times have changed since he was young, that he must realise that this is the year 1950 and not 1920, and that people demand a higher standard of living. I do not know whether the Minister smokes or not and I know plenty of people here who will say that one would be much better off if one did not, and I know others who will say that one would be much better off if one did not drink, but there are many quite normal people like Senator Baxter, Senator McGee and myself who both smoke and drink. We believe that it is quite normal that a person should smoke and take a drink if he wishes to do so, and in the same way I believe it is quite normal for young people to want to go to dances, although they would not even talk about going to a dance 20 years ago. No matter what the Minister says by way of a joke about the Land Commission not taking into account the smoking capabilities of allottees, I say that these things must be taken into consideration, and if you take them into consideration you must agree that a greater acreage is required to maintain a family in frugal comfort to-day than was required 20 or 30 years ago.

In connection with the Land Commission going into the market to buy land, it was suggested here and in the other House that even if this particular idea did appear to work on the surface—I do not believe it will—it would mean that the Land Commission would be going into competition with the local people. If a farm of 30 or 40 acres goes up for sale in a fairly thickly populated district, there may be three or four small farmers with ten or 15 acres who, because of the prosperity they have enjoyed for a number of years, are in a position to buy that farm. They go to the auction and I can see Senator McGee smiling because it is an auctioneer's dream to think of three or four going up to buy this piece of land. Before they go, they say: "We will probably have to pay £X." In addition to the price they pay for the land, they have to be prepared to pay auctioneer's fees, solicitor's fees and stamp duty. If a representative of the Land Commission comes there, in disguise, which I cannot see working at all—the country people are too cute— he has a 15 per cent. advantage over the ordinary people. I do not think that is fair play. I move the adjournment of the debate.

Debate adjourned.
The Seanad adjourned at 10 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 10th May.