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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 16 Jan 1952

Vol. 40 No. 9

Undeveloped Areas Bill, 1951—Report and Fifth Stages.

I move amendment No. 1:—

In page 3, line 13, to delete "and either by agreement or compulsorily" and substitute "if permanently, either by agreement or compulsorily; if temporarily, by agreement only".

This amendment was put down on Committee Stage and withdrawn, as the Minister said he would look into it and explain why it was considered necessary to take powers to acquire land compulsorily for a temporary period.

There are two reasons why the provision is in the form set out in the Bill. The first is a practical consideration and has a bearing on the point raised on the amendment moved by Senator Ruane on Committee Stage. If land is to be acquired temporarily and the compulsory powers of the board have to be utilised in order to secure it, it can be restored to the ownership of the original holder, whereas if it were acquired permanently, the rights of the original owner would have disappeared and the board would, in accordance with normal practice, be expected to dispose of the property, when they no longer required it, to the best advantage.

There is, therefore, an advantage in having power of temporary acquisition, in so far as it permits of the automatic restoration of the property to the original owner, but there is also a legal reason which has occasioned the drafting of the provision in this form both in this Bill and other statutes. If circumstances arise in which it is necessary for the board to acquire certain property temporarily and, because of an unreasonable attitude on the part of the owner, the compulsory powers have to be resorted to, it may be that the immediate occupier is only a lessee holding the land on a temporary basis and it would be necessary to acquire only his interest, whereas if the powers of the board were limited to permanent acquisition, they would have to acquire not merely the interest of the lessee but the interest of the head landlord. For that reason, it has always been considered desirable, where powers of compulsory acquisition are conferred and where it may be necessary to use these powers solely for a limited purpose, to give these powers in respect of temporary acquisition also.

I should perhaps emphasise, both in relation to this and other amendments, that the likelihood of the powers of compulsory acquisition given to the board being utilised at any time is quite remote. When the Bill was being framed originally, we had not this provision for compulsory acquisition in it. In so far as the Bill is designed to promote and facilitate the development of private enterprise, those who are embarking on industrial propositions assisted under the Bill will be expected to make their own arrangements in so far as it is necessary in relation to matters of this kind such as the acquisition of property. It is merely because it was feared that some unreasonable opposition might be offered, in the knowledge that a State organisation was interested in a development, that it was decided to have powers of compulsory acquisition. Even if these powers were not in the Bill, it would be unlikely to inconvenience the board very much, but, in the event of unreasonable demands or unreasonable opposition to the transfer of property being offered, the mere knowledge that the power of compulsory acquisition is there is likely to remove them. The explanation for the form of the provision is what I have stated: first, that it meets the practical point, where land is required for a short period only that it automatically ensures its return to the original owner; and, secondly, that it meets the legal difficulty that may arise where the occupier is only a temporary lessee.

I do not propose to press the amendment, as it was put down to get an explanation. I fully accept the Minister's explanation, especially with regard to the second point, where I do see that a person might hold the land on a temporary lease and therefore it would have to be acquired temporarily. On the other point, I am not convinced to the same degree, though I suppose if one must have the powers they must be in the Bill. I suppose the Minister himself would be opposed to temporary acquisition except in exceptional circumstances. It was merely to clarify that that I raised the matter in the debate.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 2:—

In page 3, line 28, after "them" to add "provided that in the disposal of land vested in the board under the powers contained in this Act which is found not to be required for the purposes of the Act and which was compulsorily acquired the board shall give to the person from whom such land has been acquired, or his personal representative, the option of repurchasing such land on repayment of the purchase price paid by the board together with the cost of any improvements executed on such land by the board.

When I moved an amendment that went further than this on the Committee Stage the Minister said it went too far in that it did not stop at land compulsorily acquired. The present amendment has been drafted to meet that point and I trust the Minister will have no objection and therefore accept it. When he spoke on the last occasion on the question of compulsory acquisition of land or other property, I think he said that the trouble in such cases always hinged on the fixing of the price, to decide between what the purchaser considered adequate and what the seller did not consider sufficient.

I put it to the Minister that that is not always the case, that there are cases where no price would be considered adequate to compensate the owner of certain kinds of property for the loss of amenities suffered as a result of being deprived of that property. I have one case in mind where a certain citizen, after being deprived of large tracts of land on a few occasions by a local body, had a demand made on him for the compulsory acquisition of two acres that he used to feed a cow to give milk to himself and his family. Senators will appreciate the fact that there are citizens who prefer to provide their requirements in that important article of food rather than depend on local distributors. It could also happen that property might be acquired that would interfere with the right of way that the owner had to other parts of his property and that would render his holdings less compact. This amendment, however, does not intend to render immune from the operation of the Bill those concerned in either of those cases. It merely provides that, where such property is not utilised by the acquiring body for the purpose for which it was acquired, the original owner would have the option of repurchasing it, paying the price he originally got for it, with any extra cost to which the board had been put in improving the property.

I think it was Senator O'Reilly on the opposite side who said on the last occasion that the amendment did not cover the case where land might be disimproved. I did not take that into consideration, as I could not believe that the board would allow property acquired by it to disimprove. I trust the Minister will accept the amendment as a reasonable one. It does not in any way cut across the laudable objects of this Bill. It only provides that where property is not utilised for the purpose for which it was acquired, and acquired compulsorily, the original owner would have the option of repurchasing it.

I would like the House to consider realistically the matter with which this amendment deals. It is completely misleading to compare the work which it is contemplated will be done by An Foras Tionscal with the work of a local authority undertaking housing schemes or the Electricity Supply Board constructing hydro-power generating stations. In practice it is unlikely that any substantial area of property will be acquired by An Foras Tionscal at all. We are dealing with industrial propositions which are likely to be limited in size and where property has to be acquired for the purpose of construction of a factory or for some other purpose connected with industrial development, it will be possible to measure precisely the area that will be needed. It is misleading to think of An Foras Tionscal acting as a local authority proposing to build a large number of houses might act, acquiring large tracts of land not all of which would be needed ultimately.

Whatever industrial project is being facilitated under this Bill, it is extremely unlikely that circumstances will tie the project to a particular site and if there is difficulty in acquiring a particular site on reasonable terms, in the great majority of cases if not in all cases, it will be quite practicable to transfer the project to some other site or town. It is only in the odd case where the nature of the project is such that one particular location is necessary for it, that any problem will arise. Even in such cases, it is almost certain that negotiations will result in a voluntary sale. The power of compulsory acquisition is taken to deal with the improbable case where the industrial project has to be related to a particular site and the owner of the site unreasonably refuses to sell or will not sell except at an exorbitant price.

Senator Ruane's amendment is seeking to retain the interest of that owner who, in possession of that site, unreasonably refuses to sell it or who demands such an exorbitant price that the board decides to utilise its powers of compulsory acquisition. Even in such a case, if it should then emerge that the property was no longer required by the board because the industrial project failed to develop or for any other reason, I would think that it would be the normal and desirable practice for the board to follow to offer the land for repurchase to the original owner; but it becomes an entirely different matter when you make that a legal obligation on the board.

I would emphasise that the circumstances under which this amendment would be called into use are most unlikely to arise but, if they do arise, is it not better to leave the matter to the discretion of the sensible men on the board rather than tie them up to a legal obligation which is bound to intimidate them from exercising their power of compulsory acquisition, even in the odd case when they think they should do it in order to enable an industrial project to go ahead, or, if they proceed to do it, is going to involve them in a legal obligation about the discharge of which there could well be an argument involving the board in court proceedings?

It think it is undesirable that we should put in an amendment of this kind. From a realistic point of view, it is unlikely that the circumstances which the Senator has in mind would ever arise, but, if they do arise, I do not think that we should be so concerned about the interest of the unreasonable owner who forces the board to use the power of compulsory acquisition to the extent of imposing this considerable impediment in the way of the board.

I should like to ask the Minister will the inclusion of this amendment make any appreciable difference to the operation of the Bill. The Minister spoke about talking realistically. Actually, there are more things than realism that count in this world. There are moral factors that count, and I think it is the moral factor behind this amendment which should count. Years ago we fought against land grabbing. It seems to me that when land is compulsorily acquired by the State it is tantamount to land grabbing. Senator Ruane put up a very reasonable request that a man whose land is grabbed and whom the Minister described as unreasonably obstructive because he wants to stick to his land which he has a moral and a legal right to do, if the land is not being used by the State for the purpose for which it was originally acquired, should have the option to repurchase it. In ordinary sheer justice I think that amendment is entirely worthy of support.

I listened to the Minister. He is the best man I know to make a good case out of a bad one. I am sorry to say that on this occasion he has made a bad case out of a worse one. I am not convinced by his argument that this amendment will affect in any way the work of the board. He argued that the wise men on the board will, in their own good sense, decide what is best to be done. Each of us should imagine ourselves as the individual that Senator Ruane refers to, the man who is forced by State legislation to hand over his property. Apart from any other reason, a sense of justice must prevail in this House and we must agree that, if the land is not used for the original purposes for which it was acquired, an option must be given by the legislation to the original owner to buy back that land again. I strongly recommend this amendment to the House from a sense of justice alone.

The wording of this new amendment by Senator Ruane goes very far to justify the opinion expressed by the Minister that there will be the danger of getting bogged down in a legal technicality if the amendment is inserted. As worded, the amendment would be entirely unworkable. So far as it relates to the personal representative of the person from whom the land is compulsorily acquired, it provides that, if the original owner of the land is dead, his personal representative will have the option to repurchase the land at the same price at which it was originally acquired. It is clear that a personal representative cannot do anything of the kind. A personal representative is only a person who is appointed by the court to distribute the assets of the deceased and he cannot buy land. From that point of view, the amendment is entirely unworkable. However you word the amendment, I think it is clear that as soon as you get beyond the original owner and try to give his successor in title the same form of right to take over the land, whatever argument might be put forward with regard to the original owner having the right to repurchase the land, it could hardly be made workable. In any event, apart from whether it should apply to him or not, it would be impossible to work out a satisfactory amendment which would give the right to his successor in title. Of course, in regard to freehold property there would be no personal representative to take up the option. I think the amendment is unworkable and should be rejected.

I am not going to tangle with Senator Yeats on the law, but I would remind Senator Yeats that he spoke to a similar amendment proposed on the Committee Stage and that the amendment has now been redrafted by Senator Ruane in order to meet the very point put up by Senator Yeats on the Committee Stage. As reported in column 538 of the Official Report, speaking to the Committee Stage amendment which had no reference to the personal representative, the difficulty then voiced by Senator Yeats in support of the very weak case put up at that time by the Minister was this:—

"It might be difficult to find the original owner from whom the land was compulsorily acquired by An Foras Tionscal. The person might be dead and, as often happens, may have died intestate, leaving a dozen or more next-of-kin in America."

In order to meet that contingency, which seemed to be a reasonable argument advanced by Senator Yeats, Senator Ruane has now provided in his amendment that should that contingency arise and the original owner be dead, the personal representative, the person authorised by the court to administer the estate of the dead person, should then be put in the position of taking up the option on behalf of the estate. Senator Yeats cannot have it both ways. Either he was right when he spoke in Committee and wrong now, or he is right now and was wrong when he spoke in Committee.

Wrong then and now.

Possibly he was wrong then and is wrong now. As far as the Minister's remarks go, I am sorry I did not hear the entire of his reply to Senator Ruane's suggestion. What I did hear certainly does not impress me. The only impression it makes on me is the impression I formed on the Committee Stage, that the Minister is determined that he will not accept any amendment to this Bill whether the amendment improves the Bill or not. The Minister says that this compulsory power will only be used where there is an unreasonable land owner who holds out for an exorbitant price. He has completely forgotten the type of man for whom Senator Ruane speaks, the type of smallholder in Connaught whose people may have resided on their little holding for 100 or 200 years; who does not want to give up the land because he and his predecessors have been living there for a long time; who does not want to make any profit, never mind an exorbitant one; who does not want to sell the land at all. That is the type of man for whom Senator Ruane speaks and that is the type of case which this amendment is designed to meet.

I must again record my opinion that it is only ordinary justice that if a man's land is taken in a compulsory manner, as can be done and will be done under the Bill, if the board find that they do not require that land for the purpose for which they were set up, the person from whom it was taken should get the option to repurchase his land at the price he paid for it. That is only ordinary justice.

The Minister has suggested — he certainly suggested it in Committee and I daresay he will probably suggest it here again to-day — that the board will be bound to dispose of the land at the most advantageous terms possible. I think it is an outrageous thing if the Parliament of this country is going to encourage the compulsory acquisition of land, to be disposed of by a State concern to the best advantage, if the person from whom it was taken wants to get it back. I want to remind the Minister that there is one matter which he is overlooking in relation to the compulsory acquisition powers in this Bill. It is that this is not a case of the State acquiring property for State purposes. It is a case where the State is acquiring property from one individual, property that is going to be made over to another individual possibly for the other individual's personal aggrandisement. In those circumstances, we must look more carefully at the compulsory provisions in this Bill than we would, say, at compulsory acquisition powers given to the Land Commission or to other State concerns where the land so acquired was going to be used purely and simply for State purposes. I would strongly urge on the Minister to reconsider his attitude to this amendment and, indeed, to reconsider his attitude to the Bill as a whole and to the discussions on it in this House.

My difficulty about this amendment is that, if it were accepted, it would place the individual from whom the land had to be acquired in a more privileged position than the individual who would give his land by agreement to the board for the purposes of setting up industry in a locality. I ask why should that be so, because it would appear to me that if there was to be any preferential treatment given, it should be given to the person who was prepared to co-operate with the board for the purposes of bringing industry into a particular locality. It could also well happen that if land which had been acquired by the board was not wanted by it for the purposes of this measure and was resold by auction, the price it would fetch might be lower than the price that was given for it the first day, and that, in those circumstances, the person from whom it was acquired would actually be in a better position to purchase it back.

I have always been opposed on principle to any extension of the powers for compulsory acquisition, and, as a result, I am inclined to be in sympathy with this amendment. While I say that, I think we should be guided by the precedents laid down in other Acts of this kind. I would be grateful if the Minister would tell us whether any clause of this kind has been introduced into other Bills which contain these compulsory powers. It seems to me that, on a priori grounds, this is a reasonable amendment and that, taking into account what Senator Yeats has said, it might be slightly improved. On the whole, unless the Minister can make a better case for what is in the Bill, I would be inclined to support the amendment.

The Minister used the term "unreasonably" several times. That is one of those words which does not seem to get into Acts of Parliaments. It is used more in debate. I do not think it is actually in the Bill. Am I wrong in thinking that the word "unreasonably" is not in the Bill?

There is another point which was made in the debate to which I should like to refer. I think it is a little unfair to suggest that it is peculiar to the present Minister to be disinclined to accept amendments from the Seanad. I think that those of us who were in the previous House know from experience that all Ministers are disinclined to accept amendments from the Seanad.

They are not all equally disinclined.

I must say that I see no difference in this case. At any rate, it is the duty of Senators to make up their minds as to whether they should press Ministers or not. The more we press them the better. May I reply to the last speaker's argument as well as I can? Surely, there is no injustice in the amendment to the person who agrees to give his land by consent; because, after all, if he feels that the other man, who refuses to agree, will have extra privileges, he can at once elect to become like that other man and insist on having his land taken over compulsorily. Consequently, I do not see that the first man has any grievance at all. He gives his land voluntarily. He knows what he is doing, and he can refuse if he wishes. It is only, however, in the case of the man who is compelled to give over his land that we have to put in these special safeguards.

I do think, however, that the point made earlier in the debate should be kept carefully in mind. This section is not concerned with the acquisition of land for State purposes. In a sense it can be simply the transference of land from one private individual to another private individual. We do not for a moment suggest that the board will be so corrupt as to allow itself to become the instrument of getting certain people out of land and other people in, but it is the duty of legislators to take such matters into account in making the laws. I do think, however, that it is a matter which we will have to weigh very carefully. It is in my blood to oppose the taking of land in this way because a great-great-grandfather of mine had to make a big fight against the Dublin South Eastern Railway Company when they sought to acquire his land where Harcourt Street Station is to-day. He fought them through the Irish courts, and carried the fight to the House of Lords where he was beaten. That is why Harcourt Street Station is where it is to-day. Therefore, my inclinations are to support any restriction of the kind proposed in the amendment. In conclusion, I should like to hear from the Minister some account of what has been done in the case of previous Bills on questions of this kind.

I want to make a few brief remarks on the amendment. Firstly, I cannot agree with Senators who take the point of view that the compulsory acquisition of land is a gross injustice always. That view was taken by Senator O'Donnell and to some extent by Senator Stanford. The interests of the community are, of course, paramount, and if it is necessary that land should be acquired in the interests of the community, or that property should be acquired in the interests of the community, then the interests of the individual must be subordinated to them. That is a principle which, I think, everybody will automatically accept. Now, the practical working of this amendment, if it were to be accepted, would be very great indeed. A person whose land is acquired might, perhaps in a conceivable case not provided for by the amendment, will the option to repurchase. That option would vest in the person to whom the land was willed.

That is one conceivable case. You have to conceive, too, of the individual who would say: "My land is being acquired; it may be that An Foras Tionscal will decide after ten, 12, 20 or 25 years that they do not require the land, and, accordingly, there will vest in me or my successor the option to repurchase." The ordinary person would not do that. The amendment wants to bring in "his personal representative." There is something to be said for that because that opens up a forest of difficulties which would be of very considerable benefit to the legal profession, a consummation which perhaps is devoutly to be wished. I do not know whether Senators will take that point of view or not.

I do not think there ever was an amendment proposed by a Senator which it was not subsequently very easy to pull to pieces. Even when the amendment is, perhaps, redrafted by a parliamentary draftsman it is still comparatively easy to pick it to pieces.

Unfortunately, on the Report Stage we can only take the particular amendment in the form in which it comes before us. I prefer at the moment to deal with the principle in this matter. The principle which it is endeavoured to set out in the amendment is that where it is found that land is not required in the public interest — in other words, for the purposes of this Bill — although that land has been acquired in good faith, it should then be handed back to the original owner if he so desires. I think that is a sound principle and I would be prepared to leave it to the board if I were completely satisfied that the board would have power to do that. But my suspicion is that the board being a public board will be bound to offer such land to the highest bidder and thereby try to make a profit on it.

One of the difficulties is that nobody wants this to operate after a period of 20 to 25 years. I think that Senator Ruane has in his mind the fact that he knows of cases where land was compulsorily acquired in the past but was never used for the purpose for which it was acquired and was eventually given to somebody else. I would be quite satisfied that the Bill should not have this amendment in it were it not for the doubt that I have that a public board, such as this one, will be in the position that either through practice or because of legislation it will not have power to offer such land to the original owner at the price at which it was purchased from him if there is somebody else willing to pay more.

That is a difficulty and I think it is a pity that difficulty has not been met. I do not think the exact form of the amendment will be of any great interest to anyone. If Senator Ruane wants to meet that particular case, as I understand he does, I think it is a pity it should not be met.

Tá pointe beag amháin ag gabháil leis an leasú seo nár deineadh aon mhachnamh fós air. Tá sé anseo: "which is found not to be required." B'fhéidir leath-bhliain tar éis an talamh a thógaint go bhfaighidís amach é sin. B'fhéidir gur 20 bliain ina dhiaidh sin a gheobhaidís amach é, nuair a bheadh luach £5,000 nó £10,000 de mhonarchain tógtha ar an áit agus go dteipfeadh ar an dtionscal agus go n-éireofaí as an obair ins an áit agus nach mbeadh sé ag teastáil a thuille. Nach mbeadh deacracht ins an scéal ligint don bhfear a dhíol é ar chúpla céad punt an chéad lá bheith ag iarraidh é cheannach thar n-ais agus luach £5,000 de mhonarchain nó £10,000 de thithe tógtha air?

Níl de choiníoll sa leasú ar an ní seo ach: "An praghas a d'íocadh as an chéad lá plus luach aon fheabhsú a bheadh déanta ar an talamh idir an dá linn." An tuigtne gur feabhsú maidir le talmhaíocht a bhí i gceist ag an té a thairg an leasú. Más tithe a bheadh i gceist ins an bhfeabhsú sin nó foirgintí costasúla, nach mbeadh de dheacracht ag baint leis, go mbeadh ceart ag an té a dhíol an talamh an talamh d'éileamh thar n-ais agus b'fhéidir cose a chur le díol na monarchan agus na dtithe? Sin pointe nach bhfuil aon mhachnamh déanta air.

I think that this amendment is honouring elementary justice. Coming as I do from a county in which there has been and always will be a certain amount of land hunger, I am aware that interference with a man's land in the West of Ireland is interference not only with his property but with his family for generations to come. It appears to me that if the board acquires land and at some future date does not require it and does not offer the seller an option to repurchase they are doing something which may possibly occasion a breach of the peace in the long run.

Any Senator, any reasonable person, who understands how people in very small, very poor farms in the West of Ireland and people who have any claim to property in the West of Ireland value land realises how jealously they guard even half an acre and how much they think of it and will understand that if that land is acquired, no matter by whom, whether by an absentee landlord as happened in the past, or by a statutory board, which may happen in the future, it will stir up something which may eventually cause trouble.

For that reason, if land is taken from people in the West of Ireland, in the event of that land not being required for the purpose for which it was compulsorily acquired, the person from whom it has been acquired should get the option of buying it back. If that person does not want it, it will give those who might be prepared to give the board a profit on their original price a chance to acquire it and might encourage them to give the board a profit. From my knowledge of people in the West of Ireland, I think nobody will offer the board any price unless he is perfectly satisfied that the person from whom it was originally acquired is not prepared to buy it or not sufficiently interested.

I was disappointed that Senators opposite appeared to be concerned only with backing the Minister's case. All the arguments for this amendment need not necessarily be located on this side by virtue of the fact that the amendment emanates from this side. The amendment gives simple justice. Therefore, I am satisfied that the arguments put forward by Senators opposite are merely for the sake of backing the Minister's case because the Minister, it seems, is not prepared to accept this amendment. I am satisfied on that ground because one Senator at least has confessed that he was wrong on both this occasion and on the Committee Stage. Having regard to that, the sooner I stop speaking, the better, because on this amendment, as on all other amendments to this Bill, Senators on this side are just wasting time. The Minister, it seems to me, is not prepared to accept an amendment. Being satisfied that that is the case and having pointed out one peculiar fact that has not been adverted to here before, I will sit down.

May I point out that there are some Senators on this side who are Independents?

None on the other.

Mr. P. O'Reilly

It often surprises me that when technicians begin to deal with any particular matter the person who has an ordinary approach to the problem gets lost in the technicalities. We have heard quite a lot of technicians dealing with this particular amendment and I am a bit confused at this stage and I think the mover of the amendment is confused also. It is becoming apparent that there are difficulties in this that were not intended. They are beginning to show up. It is a pity that Senator P.F. O'Reilly did not give his view as to whether this amendment is workable or not. I am not a technician but I think it is not workable, for a reason that has not been advanced by any of the lawyers. The operative phrase in the amendment to my mind is "on repayment of the purchase price paid by the board." What does that mean? I gather that it means that if the person from whom the land was originally acquired was prepared to pay the price paid by the board when first acquired, the board could then sell, but it debars the board, in my opinion, from selling at a lesser price, whatever about a greater.

I am sure Senator Ruane put down this amendment in good faith, but I think it debars the board from selling at a price lower than the price originally paid. The position then would be that if the board decided to get rid of land compulsorily acquired the board would offer it to the owner if that person was living or to the personal representative to whom we have heard the legal gentlemen referring. I am not too sure what "personal representative" means. Apparently, the owner, and if the owner is dead, the personal representative, could only accept, in my opinion, according to this amendment, the price originally paid for the land. If he was not prepared to pay that price they would then be bound to sell it in the best market, probably at a lower price. Since the Minister has indicated that land would be so seldom acquired by the board and less often sold by the board I think the amendment would defeat itself because it would prevent the board selling back the land acquired except at a definite figure. I say that without a technical knowledge in these matters, as I am not a lawyer.

I am inclined to agree with Senator O'Reilly in his suggestion that this amendment, as it is drafted, is really an indication that, regardless of what the value of the property may be, if the original owner is to get it he must get it at the price the board paid for it originally. Being in the auctioneering business, I believe the only way out of the numerous difficulties would be that the property should be put up for public auction. In connection with this I am not inclined to agree with Senator Ruane. I think he was quite sincere when he drafted the amendment but, with all due respect, I do not think he gave it sufficient thought.

In his speech he painted a picture whereby a portion of the farmer's property may be taken out from the middle of the property — that is what I understood him to convey — and that at a later period, the board, having acquired the property, might find that it did not need it and decide that it should be sold back to the man from whose holding it was taken originally. In other words, if it was taken out of the middle of a man's holding or if it divided the man's holding and made it rather difficult to work it would be given back to him at the same price. Again I say that having been taken over by this board or any other board, the property, on being returned to the owner, might not be worth its original price. It may be worth far more in certain circumstances but there is no reason at all why it should be supposed that the property on being returned, would be worth its original price.

I came across a case where a particular Government Department acquired a portion of a man's farm. I was asked to value the property and I am not disclosing any secrets when I say I valued that property, as far as I can remember, at a price which amounted to one-fourth of the price originally paid for it; not that it was acquired at an exorbitant price but rather that the land was so interfered with and treated so badly by the said Government Department — the surface of the land was removed and supposed to have been put back — that, in my opinion, it was worth only one-fourth of what it was worth originally.

In connection with land to be returned to the original owner Senator O'Reilly said and I think rightly so, that no limit should be put as to the maximum price. If the amendment is left as it stands the price at which it was originally purchased would be taken, if you like, as the yardstick to measure the price at which it should be returned to the original owner. I do not agree with that at all. I oppose the amendment, for various reasons, and I regret that the statements made by the Opposition here, the people who would like to call themselves the Opposition, were made at all. The suggestion that the Minister had made up his mind not to accept the amendment even if it was for the betterment of the Bill, to my mind, is an outlandish statement for any responsible Senators to make and I have no hesitation whatever in saying that the people of the country, regardless of politics, would not seriously accept such a statement. It would not be the first time the Minister accepted an amendment in this House for the betterment of a measure and if an amendment were put up here to-day, no matter by whom, I believe the Minister would accept it regardless of the inconvenience if he thought it was for the betterment of the measure. I think the same would apply in regard to any other measure and it is most unreasonable to make any such suggestion.

In regard to the suggestion that there is a terrible injustice in this matter of giving the board the right to acquire land compulsorily and to the picture that is painted for us of the unfortunate smallholders of the West of Ireland being interfered with unduly and unnecessarily as a result of the board's action, all I can say is, if any code of legislation were to be enforced by irresponsible people which would make life impossible for the people, there would be some reason for alarm, but we must assume that the people comprising this board will be reasonable people and that they are not going to go out to make life impossible for the people in the West or in any other part of Ireland. We must assume that they are people who will do their job in the interest of the people of this country and if a little bit of unpleasantness has to be brought to bear in the matter, that unpleasantness is only being insisted on for the good of the community. Senator Hartnett, I think, pointed out that the good of the community had to be considered as against, if necessary, the good of an individual in the State.

Senator Frank Hugh O'Donnell launched a rather serious attack on the Minister. Knowing the Minister as I do and knowing that he has survived such attacks in the past, I hope he will be able to survive this attack by Senator O'Donnell. When Senator O'Donnell stands up to refer to this particular section in the Bill as "land grabbing", all I can say is he must have been too busy reading a lot of nonsense to read some of the history of land grabbing in this country. If anyone interprets this Bill as it should be interpreted all they could say was that it was the policy of land grabbing in reverse. Surely it is necessary in this Bill, as it has been in scores of other Bills, to make provision so that a crank, if you like to call him a crank, a man who may have a piece of land or a piece of property in a district where an industry was going to be set up, and who for just pure contrariness will not allow the board to have this, will be compelled to give it. You must be in a position to deal with people of that kind who, for reasons, and mind you, I say deliberately, possibly political reasons, will impede development and impede progress. That section, to my mind, is not likely to be misused by this board or any other board set up for such a purpose and I think it was quite unreasonable to suggest that it would be.

With regard to the price, it appears to me to be a very poor argument and a very undesirable line to take to say that the land should be returned to the original owner at the price paid for it when it was acquired. To my mind, it shows very poor judgment to say that the board should be compensated for such money as they spent on improvements. What the board would consider an improvement in a certain type of property would be considered quite the opposite and, possibly, quite rightly so, by the person who originally owned the property. For instance, portion of a property on the banks of a river may be lowered to such an extent that it would serve the purpose of a board, I will not say this board, for a certain length of time. As a result of the property being lowered, it may be subject to flooding, and despite the fact that the board would have spent a considerable amount of money under the heading of improvements, these improvements might turn out to be the very opposite from the point of view of the original owner.

I certainly oppose the amendment but, in doing so, I do not in any way criticise Senator Ruane for having introduced it. He and other Senators who have listened to this discussion should be quite satisfied to withdraw the amendment.

It seems to me that Senators Quirke, Kissane and O'Reilly are arguing from the wrong premises. The word "option" is in the amendment put down by Senator Ruane. They are trying to base their case on the supposition that the person who owned the land would be compelled to take the land back.

Nobody said anything of the kind.

You never used the word "option". You said it would cause great hardship——

May I suggest that the Senator is confused between the words "option" and "auction"?

If the original owners do not like the price at which the land is handed back and if the board has depreciated the value of the land it can be put up for public auction and they can buy the land back in the ordinary way. I think it was Senator McGuire who said here on the last occasion on which we met that all Ministers were too disinclined to accept amendments from the Senators on any side of the House and that that point had been made by us here on more than one occasion. I think it is quite a healthy sign of parliamentary life that Senators put down amendments to a Bill and ask Ministers to try to justify the reasons why these amendments ought not to be accepted. I think it would be a very undesirable state of affairs if Senator Quirke and other people with his views tried to steam-roll Senators from doing that sort of thing. Such a state of affairs would certainly not come about on this side of the House.

First of all, I would like to agree with Senator McHugh when he said that Senators on his side of the House were wasting an amount of time. He did not exactly mean it in that sense. I see no difficulty whatsoever in accepting the Minister's statement that these compulsory powers of acquisition will be used very sparingly by the board. When I recall to mind all the factories I have seen established in this country over the last 20 years I think they were in all cases able to acquire the land necessary without compulsory powers. At the same time, I am not going to say these compulsory powers are not necessary in a Bill of this type, but from my experience I am inclined to think that it will not be necessary to exercise them in great measure. The land required for all these factories I have in mind has not been in any way considerable but in all cases just sufficient.

I fail to see that the bit of land acquired in the West of Ireland will be of such tremendous value that a great dispute will arise when the board will be disposing of what they do not require, because that is what is suggested by the amendment. We are inclined to get very excited about this particular principle of compulsory powers. We should remember that we have been exercising these powers since the establishment of this State and they were being exercised even before that period. When people's land is being acquired, they usually raise an objection, but this objection is due mainly to the fact that they want a higher price for the land in question. As Senators probably know, we go even further than acquiring property; we sometimes destroy people's property without any compensation to the owners, as in the case of houses which are demolished. Not all the houses demolished are completely unfit for use. However, we never rise in protest about such an action.

I am in agreement 100 per cent. with Senator Hartnett when he states that land should be acquired compulsorily by the State if such acquisition is in the general interest. It has appeared to me, listening to the debate, that no sound arguments have come in favour of the amendment from the other side of the House and the suggestion that any Minister would wish to prevent Senators, no matter which side of the House they favour, from putting down an amendment is absurd. Every member of this House is aware of his right to put down an amendment subject to the Cathaoirleach's decision. As we can see in this amendment, there is no limit to the way in which it may be discussed, and no suggestion has come from this side of the House that members cannot put down an amendment. I will conclude by saying that it seems to me we are wasting our time discussing an unreasonable amendment.

If the matter which we are discussing were not a serious one, it would be highly amusing to listen to some of the arguments against this amendment brought forward, especially by Senator O'Reilly and by Senator Quirke. They are bowed down with sorrow at the thought that the original owner will have to pay a little more for his land if he is to get it back. I take it that the owner of any property is no fool and that if he is offered back his land and he considers, as Senator Burke has stated, that the land has depreciated in value, he will realise that there is no obligation on him to take it back. It can go for public auction and he can buy it back at a lesser price if he so desires. The amendment gives him the option, and rightly so, of getting back the land to which he is justly entitled. This amendment was moved in a calm and helpful manner and it was designed to improve the Bill and to put something into the Bill which in my opinion should be in it.

I was surprised, as were other Senators here, at the attitude of the Minister; I am afraid I must conclude that he came into this House with his mind made up. He said: "This is the Bill and this is how it will remain." It seems to me that we can form no other opinion.

The amendment, in my opinion, should be accepted by the Minister and he should drop these Russian tactics of saying "No" to every proposal that is made from this side. The land to be acquired for this purpose will be mostly land adjacent to towns and villages and we all know from experience that land adjoining a town or village is generally reasonably good land. It may mean a great loss to the farmer from whom it is taken against his wishes and it may transpire later that the land is not required for the purpose for which it has been acquired. Some person may then come along and, realising that it is a valuable piece of land, may step in and pay a fabulous price for it or, at all events, compel the original owner to pay a fabulous price for it if he wishes to buy it back.

The Minister on the last day on which we were discussing this Bill argued that this board should have the right to dispose of property in any manner in which it wished. I wonder is it right that a board set up by the State should have power to acquire land compulsorily and then to sell it at a profit? We had the analogy put forward that land has been acquired in this way by the Electricity Supply Board and other bodies and it was stated that the amount of land required would be very small. That in my opinion strengthens the case for the amendment. Let us assume that a couple of acres or even one acre is taken off a field of a total area of seven, eight or ten acres. Surely it would not be right, if that land were not required by the board for the purpose for which it was originally intended, that the board should have power to put it up for auction and that some other person should be at liberty to step in and purchase that acre which was taken from a man against his wishes and which originally formed part of the ten-acre field? I think that the Minister should accede to the arguments put forward in support of the amendment. It struck me that the Minister found it very difficult—and that is saying a lot—to build up a case to justify his attitude in refusing to accept the amendment.

I should like to support the amendment. In doing so I might point out that under the Constitution we guarantee the rights of ownership of property. The argument has been used in favour of the proposal in the Bill, that these powers of compulsory acquisition have been operated before. It is true that such powers have been operated on many occasions since the State came into existence but surely if you commit sin, you do not justify it or make it less reprehensible the oftener you commit it. This compulsory acquisition of land and property is one of the matters that most agitate the public mind and the question is often asked why it is not more often resisted and examined more carefully in the Legislature. I should like to point out that it is not only the present Minister with whom we are concerned in regard to this proposal. He happens to be the Minister on this particular occasion but the remarks which I am making would apply equally to any Minister who may succeed him.

For myself I might point out that when I was supporting the inter-Party Government during their term of office, I adopted the same attitude in regard to a somewhat similar proposal. In fact I succeeded in getting an amendment through the House on the Railways Bill in regard to the same principle but in that case it was concerned with compensation to directors.

I would suggest that the acceptance of this amendment would be a welcome gesture to the principle of ownership. Senator Quirke stated—I took down his words—that we should assume that all Ministers will be reasonable in their use of these powers. We have always assumed that and, no doubt, for the most part Ministers have been reasonable, but in that we have been lucky. The Senator also said that if this amendment were accepted it would impede progress and development. It may be that it would impede the rate of progress but I should like to remind the House that there have been other countries in which Ministers were not so reasonable in their use of these powers. One such country is Poland. I understand that when the Communists took over control in Poland, they were legally in a position to confiscate the rights of individuals under the existing law without changing a stroke. We should remember, therefore, that we are not legislating merely for the present Minister or only just for to-day. We are putting a Bill on the Statute Book which will be the law of the land for all time. We do not know who may be using these powers eventually.

Some Senators seem to think these powers should be granted automatically to the Minister without any effort on their part to examine their consciences to see what the nature of these powers are. Anybody who looks around the world to-day will realise the necessity for examining such proposals very carefully. We should be more circumspect and more careful about the rights of individuals and the ownership of property. I was sorry to hear some Senator state that we were wasting our time here. I think the Senator who made that statement did so in good faith because it is a statement that one constantly hears outside this House. Only on last Thursday, the day following our last meeting here, a letter appeared in a paper, the purport of which was: "What use is the Seanad?" What use is the Seanad if we do not get down to examining proposals which are put forward in good faith, from whatever side they come? I venture to say that anybody listening to the debate here the last day would come to the conclusion that people on this side of the House were wasting their time. There were certain matters mentioned to which I shall refer when we are dealing later with the general character of the Bill. Certain amendments were put up to the Bill on the last day which were reasonable in every way and which would definitely improve the Bill but they were just not listened to. Again I must say—though I do not wish to use it as a personal argument against the present Minister—that there are occasions in the Seanad when we feel that we are putting forward something useful but from the manner in which these proposals are received, we can only conclude that we are wasting public money in putting them forward. I would suggest that this amendment is a definite improvement on the Bill. I look upon it as a welcome gesture to the principle of ownership and I, therefore, support it.

It is not my intention to say very much on this amendment. Like Senator O'Reilly, I speak only as an ordinary individual, but I would say that I think we can agree with the Minister when he states that there would be very little, if any, necessity for the use of compulsory powers under this Bill. It is, however, much better that the section conferring these compulsory powers should be in the Bill so that, if the occasion should arise, they could be used for the purpose of facilitating the establishment of certain industries. The particular industry concerned could then be established more quickly. If that section were not in the Bill, it would mean that the Bill would have to be subsequently amended and the Minister would have to come back to the House to look for these powers. It is much better to incorporate these powers in the Bill now, despite the fact that they may never have to be used. We have all experience of the type of person who will not part with any land, firstly, because he will not facilitate anybody else. He may be, as Senator Quirke said, a crank who would have no interest in progress of any kind or in anything like that. It would be terrible if he were allowed, just because he felt like that, to stick to his land and if an industry which would be of benefit to a locality and to the people of that locality were allowed to go by the wayside simply to satisfy his greed. That would be very regrettable. In such a case, it would not be breaking Christian or democratic principles to invoke compulsory powers in order to see that a section of the community in a certain area were provided with an industry which would suit them rather than to allow that man to have his way.

I know that it is very popular to speak against compulsion; we all agree with that and we have heard these arguments all down the years. I have heard people on public bodies down the country who condemn it to-day, and to-morrow, because it suits them for one reason or another, saying: "Why do you not go ahead with a certain scheme? You say that you have been trying to get a site and have failed? You have compulsory powers. Why not use them?" These people think that it is popular to go against compulsion but they use these powers when it suits them. To have this provision in the Bill is a guarantee of progress in case you hit against any individual who is not interested in progress or who is, perhaps, even biassed against progress, especially national progress. I am very pleased that this provision is in the Bill in its present form. We on this side of the House are quite justified in opposing the amendment. It is an amendment which will cause us, as Senator Hartnett said, to be lost in a forest of legal difficulties. I will not deal with those because I do not consider myself competent to do so.

If it is made obligatory on the board to hand back land to the original owner, that owner is entitled to point out how the land has deteriorated and how much he has suffered because it has been away from him for so long. He may say that he does not mind whether he gets it back or not. He can create sentiment, something in the spirit of the old land war, and keep everybody else from interfering. Because he is entitled to get it back, he can stand like a dog in the manger and force the board to sell it to him at his own price. I do not think that that can be justified or supported by anybody. No individual should be given an opportunity of gaining at the expense of the general community. With those few remarks I wish to state my entire disagreement with the amendment.

There are a couple of points with which I shall deal. It has been suggested that I am opposing this and other amendments whether they improve the Bill or not. That suggestion begs the question: does the amendment improve the Bill or not? I could as easily suggest that Senator O'Higgins and other Senators are trying to get any amendment into the Bill whether it disimproves the Bill or not. Let us consider this realistically. I did not hear from any Senator on my right a single convincing argument in favour of the amendment. Senator O'Donnell suggested that in resisting the amendment I am doing something unjust or at any rate doing something that will permit of injustice. We are dealing with this type of case: an industry of such a character that it can be located in one place only; that place is owned by a person who refuses to sell it except at an exorbitant price; the board decides to use its compulsory powers in order to overcome that unreasonable opposition and then makes a mistake and acquires too much of that man's property so that they have some to dispose of when the project is proceeded with.

Or if the project is not proceeded with.

Or if the project is not proceeded with. Senator O'Donnell asks us to let our hearts bleed for the man who is so attached to a place that he would not part with it at any price even in order to allow of a project that will give employment to his neighbours' children and keep them from emigration. This is the case of a man who knows that a project can proceed only on the land he owns and that if he does not sell the land it cannot proceed at all and he decides to keep it. In such an eventuality the board can, if they wish, exercise compulsory powers to enable that project to proceed. Senator Stanford asks if there is a precedent. I know of no precedent. According to what he said if there were a precedent, he would now be entitled to acquire Harcourt Street Station at the price originally paid for it subject to the settlement of legal arguments as to whether the building of a railway station improved or disimproved the property and if he were able to support a contention that it disimproved the property, he could buy it back at less.

That is not suggested in the amendment.

What is suggested in the amendment is that the owner, his successor in title or personal representative, will have the option of purchasing the land at the original purchase price without limit of time.

Senator Stanford asked also if there were any reference to the word "unreasonable" in the Bill. There is not but in practice it is there. The power of compulsory acquisition is so slow and cumbersome that in practice no public authority resorts to compulsion if there is any reasonable alternative to it. There is, therefore, an adequate assurance that this board or any board given these powers by Statute will not use them in an unreasonable manner. If they are compelled to have resort to compulsory acquisition then they are condemned to delay and possibly to legal proceedings.

I think that it is most unlikely that any circumstances will arise of the kind I have described: that a project, because of the reluctance of the owner of some site to part with it on reasonable terms, cannot be transferred somewhere else. If that does happen, it is more likely that arrangements can be made with the owner of the site, but if the land is acquired compulsorily it is not at all likely that Foras Tionscal will acquire more of the site than they need. All these circumstances must combine to create a situation in which the amendment makes any sense.

I do not mean to refer in any way to the arguments which have been made for and against the amendment but I am in agreement with one remark which the Minister made when he said that there was no comparison between land to be acquired under the Bill—at least I took him to say this—and land acquired by a local body for labourers' cottages or other such purpose. There is a snag however. Foras Tionscal might centre their attention on a certain plot, a piece of property in a village or town. They want it but the owner refuses to part with it or is reluctant to do so. They say: "Very well, if you do not sell that plot, we will acquire a plot in some other town." That is a situation which no citizen would like to face, because if he were not public-spirited enough to assist his neighbours to get some industry, some better way of life, just because of his own selfishness, then no one would have any sympathy for him. If he took up a stand like that, his position would become intolerable. I do not visualise that position arising. I am quite satisfied with the manner in which the amendment has been met and I am certainly edified by the arguments from both sides of the House. I believe the discussion has served a useful purpose.

I am quite satisfied that the Minister is anxious that this Bill be passed in a manner that will bring the greatest improvement to the areas for which it is intended. I am equally anxious. This amendment was not put down for the purpose of wasting time or for taking from the Bill any of the good qualities that the Minister would like to give it. I am just as anxious as the Minister is—I am sure he believes me when I say that—that this Bill should bring to the people the benefits intended. Having said that, Sir, with your permission, I withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 3:—

In page 3, line 58, after "provided" to add "unless the board are satisfied that such industrial undertaking is situate in a Fíor-Ghaeltacht area in which event they may at their discretion grant an amount exceeding one-half of the cost of the machinery or equipment provided".

Section 6 of the Bill empowers the board, when it is established, to make advances to industrial undertakings in respect of machinery, equipment and services of that description. It was suggested here on the consideration of Section 6 on the Committee Stage that the section could be improved by enabling the board to give a greater advance than that at present permitted in Section 6 in cases where the industry was established in the Fíor-Ghaeltacht areas.

In case the Minister has any nervousness about it, let me tell him that the suggestion was not made by Senators on this side of the House. It was made, I think, by Senator Hartnett. It was a suggestion that appealed to me because, on the Second Reading discussion of this Bill, both myself and a number of other Senators considered the Bill from the point of view of how it could best assist Breac-Ghaeltacht and Fíor-Ghaeltacht areas. During the Second Reading discussion, no concrete suggestions were made in that regard but at the conclusion of the consideration of Section 6, in Committee, Senator Hartnett did throw out the suggestion which is embodied in the present amendment. It is a suggestion which, I think, is well worth serious consideration by this House.

The Minister has never tired telling us that this Bill is not a Gaeltacht Bill. He has been quite frank about that and I appreciate his frankness. I do not look on this Bill as a Gaeltacht Bill but, taking the Bill as it stands, I believe that, with a minor alteration in Section 6—with the alteration suggested in this amendment—while the Bill will not be made a Gaeltacht Bill, it can be turned into a Bill which can be of some assistance, at any rate, to the Gaeltacht by holding out a somewhat greater inducement in the case of individuals who are prepared to establish their industry in a Fíor-Ghaeltacht area. I think I am not being unfair to Senator Hartnett when I say that the amendment, as now proposed, meets very fully the point of view which was strongly urged on the Minister on the Committee discussion.

All that is proposed in this amendment—might I anticipate the Minister by saying that it cannot possibly disimprove the Bill—is that the board, when it is established, be given a discretion to allow a grant in excess of one half of the total cost of machinery and equipment in cases where the industrial undertaking is established in a Fíor-Ghaeltacht area. The effect of the amendment, if accepted—as I hope it will be—will be merely this. The Bill would remain unaltered as regards the ordinary advances by the board in areas other than Fíor-Ghaeltacht areas. In Fíor-Ghaeltacht areas the board would have the discretionary power to offer a further inducement if they thought fit to the person establishing the industry.

It may be that the acceptance of the amendment would not be of any great value to Fíor-Ghaeltacht areas but it would be of some value in that it would direct the attention of the board and the individuals who, we hope, may seek to establish industries under this Act, to the fact that there is a part of our country greatly in need—a part of our country that we, as legislators, hope to preserve, that is the Fíor-Ghaeltacht areas.

I am deliberately moving this amendment in a very restrained manner because it is an amendment that I want the Minister to accept. It is an amendment that I hope Senators on both sides of the House will persuade the Minister to accept. It is an amendment, as I said earlier, which is suggested by thoughts directed to the section not by Senators on this side of the House but by a Senator on the same side as the Minister.

It is not merely that I think this amendment is impracticable but it is in conflict with the principle of the Bill. I have, during all the discussions on this Bill, endeavoured to emphasise its limited character. It represents a device for stimulating private enterprise in industrial development west of the Shannon. If Senators think that the State should take a larger share in the organisation of industry in that area or should engage in financing it in greater measure than is proposed here, they, I think, must be prepared to accept also some measure of State control over the resulting undertakings or at least some continuing form of supervision. There is no use talking about starting industries except you think of them as continuing to operate and to grow. Anybody can start an industry provided the Government puts up all the money as is now suggested, but only persons who are technically competent and energetic can make a success of it.

We are putting on Foras Tionscal the obligation of deciding whether those who submit proposals to it are of that character. It seems to me that they will not have very much to go on in making that decision and that one of the things they would normally insist upon as a reasonable precaution, a fairly reliable indication of the seriousness of the intentions of those who submit proposals, is that they should invest money in the fixed capital of the enterprise.

We have not imposed in this Bill any limit on the amount that Foras Tionscal can provide in an individual case for the construction of factory premises, for the provision of hostels or rail facilities or for the training of workers, except the amount that may be paid to individual workers. We think it is desirable to insist, however, that those who are preparing to start and to operate industries should invest in the fixed capital, represented by the machinery installed, to the extent of 50 per cent. It is conceivable to imagine an arrangement under which all the fixed capital would be put up out of public funds and entrepreneurs only put up the working capital. That would not be a satisfactory arrangement. Working capital can be drawn off again by various devices. The bona fides of the intentions of the promoters could not be as readily assessed by Foras Tionscal as would be possible under this Bill, when the making of a grant for the cost of machinery will be related to the investment of the actual promoters in machinery.

It has been my experience that there has always been difficulty when those who have the responsibility for the management of an industrial concern have not themselves any great financial investment in it and incur no risk through its failure other than the loss of the job. That is why I would regard it as important that An Foras Tionscal would insist that a proportion of the capital to be invested in plant for a new industrial enterprise should be found by those who are going to be responsible for running the enterprise and who will benefit from its success if it is successful. Therefore, I strongly urge the Seanad to resist this amendment and the next amendment. I do not, however, want to be misunderstood. I think that the competitive disadvantages of an industry established in these more or less outlying districts will be greater than those in respect of an industry established in a place such as Galway City or Sligo town and, arguing on the principles I have laid down, An Foras Tionscal would give a greater measure of help to any private group who think they can establish an industry in these areas than they would to similar groups proposing to start an industry in other centres, even west of the Shannon. But no matter how they strain their powers under the Bill to give help to a group proposing to start an enterprise in a Fíor-Ghaeltacht area I think they would be wise to insist that that group should itself undertake to provide a proportion of the fixed capital. If there is to be industrial development in the Fíor-Ghaeltacht area entirely financed by the State, with the whole of the fixed capital found out of public funds, then we shall have to contemplate a different procedure from that laid down in this Bill—a different type of organisation directing that industrial development.

I am not saying that that is excluded, but this Bill is designed to stimulate industrial development by private enterprise operating for profit and I think we should make it an essential condition that the help proposed will be given only where a particular project is backed by a group prepared and able to find a proportion of the money required for the purchase of fixed assets like plant and machinery.

If the matter is looked at by a hard-headed business man— and I think most business men are hard-headed—who contemplates establishing an industry in, say, Ballinasloe as against Ballinahowen in the Fíor-Ghaeltacht area, would he not, first and foremost, be attracted to Ballinasloe because of the advantages and the benefits which he will get under this Bill? Unless an extra incentive is given to him to establish the industry in Ballinahowen in the Fíor-Ghaeltacht area, he will certainly not consider it at all as against Ballinasloe. Would his reasoning not be that, without an extra incentive to establish the industry in Ballinahowen, it would be more advantageous to him to establish the industry in Ballinasloe? After all, if he establishes his industry in Ballinahowen he will argue that it will be further from a transport centre than Ballinasloe and that, perhaps, it will be more difficult to recruit a labour force there. But, he will ask, will these disadvantages be outweighed by the further benefits which he may get from An Foras Tionscal, in view of the fact that he has decided to establish an industry in a Fíor-Ghaeltacht area?

I think that, to some extent, I have been responsible for putting into the Minister's head the idea that when I made the reference on the section in the Committee Stage I referred to the people in the Gaeltacht area, who, for the most part, have not twopence to knock against a tombstone, except the odd gombeen man. Take, however, the position of a practical business man from Dublin or anywhere else who might feel that it would be worth his while if he got, say, three-quarters instead of half of the cost of establishing a particular enterprise. To establish one worth-while, thriving industry in any of these Gaeltacht areas would do an immeasurable service towards the preservation of the Irish language. If I had a definite assurance now that the Government would step in and establish a State-sponsored or State-controlled or State-owned enterprise immediately in the Gaeltacht then I do not think that this matter would be very important. The urgency of the situation is very great—particularly in the light of the figures given by Senator Yeats in his Second Reading speech. The Gaeltacht is dying. My view is—and I might as well be frank about it—that there is reason to fear the attitude of mind of certain people whose point of view, as understood by me, is that the Gaeltacht must be preserved as a kind of bear pit—that if you establish an industry of any kind in the Gaeltacht it will inevitably lead to anglicisation, that the people will look for a cinema and that they will read newspapers in English, which they do now, of course. That is a fantastic attitude and it is the attitude taken up by people who, for the most part, are themselves living in suburban comfort in Dublin City and Cork City. I am more than anxious that that attitude of mind should be set at naught.

I suggested to the Minister on the Second Reading that if he went to the Gaeltacht and spoke to the people there he would discover their line of policy. They do not want to be preserved as museum pieces. If the present system were succeeding, there would be something to be said for it. If the population there were remaining level, there would be something to be said for it. It must be admitted, however, by everybody, and especially by the people who propound that policy, that the present system has proved to be a failure because the Gaeltacht is perishing year by year. The people of the Gaeltacht are emigrating more and more because they have no alternative. Therefore, I suggest, as I suggested on the Committee Stage, that the Minister might consider the possibility of giving an extra advantage to the Fíor-Ghaeltacht areas because, if it led to the establishment of even one industry employing 50 people who are genuine native speakers, it would be well worth while. I should like to hear the Minister's view on this matter.

It is not intended that An Foras Tionscal should operate on the basis of deciding to give 5/- in the £ of the capital required for an industry in, say, Ballinasloe; 10/- in the £ if the industry is to be established further to the west, and 15/- in the £ if the industry is to be established still further west again.

It is somewhat difficult to answer Senator Hartnett's questions on that account. I think he is making the mistake of assuming that every project put forward for the establishment of industry west of the Shannon will get the maximum help the board can give under the Bill. That is not correct. There may be, and I am certain will be, industrial projects for which the board will give no help at all. They will come to the conclusion: "This is a perfectly sound industrial project by itself and it requires no special help," because there is some advantage in the western location which enables it to operate there without fearing competition from any other area. I should think that in the Fíor-Ghaeltacht areas or areas like West Mayo, certain parts of Donegal and so forth, whether Fíor-Ghaeltacht areas or not, any industry of a competitive kind would qualify for the maximum help the board could give, but even then, before deciding to give that maximum help, the board would have to be satisfied that it was likely to continue, that, as a result of giving that help, something permanent was going to be set up and not merely that somebody was willing to try his hand at the establishment of an industry, provided he is not risking too much in it.

If there is to be a prospect of permanent development, there must be behind that industrial project people who have the technical knowledge and capital resources to make a go of it and who have demonstrated their own faith in it to the extent of being willing to invest in the fixed assets of the undertaking to a reasonable extent. That is why I should like to see some limitation upon the extent to which the board could give grants against the purchase of equipment. I would not regard it as a reasonable safeguard to require merely those promoting the enterprise to put up the liquid capital. As every Senator knows, if the undertaking is going badly, they will get that out and leave the enterprise drained dry of its liquid resources. That is why I feel that, if we are to get the right type of approach by private industry in this area, it must be by people who are prepared to-demonstrate their faith in their own idea for a particular project to the extent of risking permanently a proportion of the capital.

I suppose I might rightly be described as one of the hard-headed business men and I should like to compliment Senator O'Higgins on putting down this amendment, because it enables us to make clear our thoughts on the sentiments he has expressed and with which we must all agree. We all want to preserve the Fíor-Ghaeltacht, but, speaking as an industrialist now, with a Gaelic background, I feel that the surest way to kill the Fíor-Ghaeltacht would be to have established in the Fíor-Ghaeltacht industries of a size which would cause the headaches envisaged in this amendment. I am entirely with the Minister in the view that the type of industry which is going to preserve the Fíor-Ghaeltacht is the industry which is sufficiently small—as I hope it will be —to ensure that the amount of money required from the people in the locality will be readily forthcoming. Again as an industrialist, may I say that if, in order to get more than 50 per cent. for an industry anywhere, the price to be paid is State control of the industry, then the price is too much? I am firmly convinced that we will not get any kind of healthy industrial development if we have a hybrid development, a development in which the State has a controlling interest and yet may have to rely on experienced technicians to develop the industry itself.

I have no desire to do other than deal with the point established by the mover of the amendment and dealt with by Senator Hartnett in relation to this question of what type of industries are to be set up in the Fíor-Ghaeltacht. It would be a calamity if we are to envisage a Birmingham, a Manchester or a Coventry planted in the middle of the Gaeltacht. Whatever the rate of extinction at present, it would be accelerated if that were brought about. Again, I speak with conviction from long experience in business, and, perhaps, in some measure in the Gaelic revival movement, when I say that what we want to save the Gaeltacht, and the Fíor-Ghaeltacht especially, is the development of the small type of industry in suitable localities, the provision of the capital for which will be within the compass of the people in the locality itself.

It appears to me that there are two lines of thought in connection with the starting of industries in the Fíor-Ghaeltacht. One is the line which has been advocated that nothing should prevent industrialists from going into the Fíor-Ghaeltacht and starting their industries there, on the grounds that the people of the Gaeltacht are just as much entitled to whatever benefits would accrue from the industrial policy of the State as the people of any other part of the country. The other is that which has been advocated by Senator Summerfield, that we should make sure that the larger type of industrialist, with all the industrial paraphernalia which would be required, should not be encouraged to go into the Gaeltacht because the anglicising influence that such a policy might have on the Fíor-Ghaeltacht would more than outweigh whatever industrial advantages would accrue to the people there.

I believe that the problem of the Fíor-Ghaeltacht and of the Gaeltacht as a whole—both the Fíor-Ghaeltacht and the Breac-Ghaeltacht—is one entirely apart and one for the Government of the day to handle in its own way, after having fully considered the possibilities that lie therein. It is not the first time that that policy has been adopted. That policy has been in operation for some years back, but only to a limited extent, and what is required, in my opinion, is an extension of that existing policy, the establishment of suitable industries in the Gaeltacht under State supervision. The machinery is already there for the purpose and what is required, as I say, is an expansion of that policy. We have industries functioning already in the Fíor-Ghaeltacht—some in Donegal and a few in the West of Ireland—and I submit that the time has now come when these industries must be extended to the Fíor-Ghaeltacht as a whole including that portion of the Gaeltacht which I know very well. We have, as I mentioned on another occasion, Seirbhísí na Gaeltachta and I submit that, under their auspices, a lot more could be done for the Gaeltacht than is being done at present. It is true that the tide of emigration from the Gaeltacht has been assuming alarming proportions for a few years back and it is time something was done to arrest it, but I do not think that what is proposed in the amendment would be a practical way of doing it.

The Minister made the best case he could against this amendment, but I think he either deliberately or innocently——


——misread the amendment. There is nothing in the amendment to make it obligatory on the board to give a 100 per cent. grant in the case of Fíor-Ghaeltacht industry. What is suggested in the amendment is that the board may, at its discretion, grant an amount exceeding one-half of the cost of machinery or equipment provided. If the Minister reads the amendment, including the words "may at their discretion grant" he will be forced to agree that the entire case set up by him and so ably knocked down by himself, has no application at all.

The Minister spoke of this amendment, which seeks to give discretionary power to the board, as striking at the whole root of the Bill. Quite honestly, I cannot see what the Minister has in mind. He says he thinks it of the utmost importance that the board should insist on some part of the fixed capital being contributed by the individuals concerned. Nothing in the amendment prevents that. If the board decides to carry out ministerial policy, it may say, even in regard to Fíor-Ghaeltacht areas: "We are going to give only one-tenth of the price of the machinery," or they may say anything up to 50 per cent. If the amendment is accepted, they may give something more than 50 per cent. if it is a Fíor-Ghaeltacht area.

The amendment is designed to expand Section 6 in such a way that it can be of some use in the Fíor-Ghaeltacht. At least, it will be a weapon in the hands of the board that they can use as an inducement and not as an attacking weapon. If industries are being established in the Fíor-Ghaeltacht, the board will have the power to give something more than 50 per cent., at their discretion, after examining a proposition and being satisfied that it will comply with (a), (b) and (c) of Section 6 (1)

I cannot accept the Minister's description of an amendment phrased in that way as "striking at the whole root of the Bill". I think it is a very reasonable amendment and that it certainly cannot detract in any way from the Bill. It may assist in establishing industries in the Fíor-Ghaeltacht somewhat more quickly than would be done if the amendment is not accepted. Anyone who has a sincere interest in endeavouring even in this small way to assist the Fíor-Ghaeltacht should support this amendment. For that reason, I feel that I am entitled to press it.

Amendment put.
The Seanad divided: Tá, 11; Níl, 26.


  • Baxter, Patrick F.
  • Burke, Denis.
  • Butler, John.
  • Commons, Bernard.
  • Douglas, James G.
  • Hayes, Michael.
  • McCrea, James J.
  • McHugh, Vincent.
  • O'Donnell, Frank H.
  • O'Higgins, Michael J.
  • Ruane, Seán T.


  • Aghas, Pádraig.
  • Colgan, Michael.
  • Dowdall, Jennie.
  • Farnan, Robert P.
  • Fitzsimons, Patrick.
  • Gorry, Patrick J.
  • Hartnett, Noel.
  • Hartney, Seán.
  • Hawkins, Fredrick.
  • Hayes, Seán.
  • Hearne, Michael.
  • Honan, Thomas V.
  • Kilroy, James.
  • Loughman, Frank.
  • Lynch, Peter T.
  • Nic Phiarais, Maighréad M.
  • O'Callaghan, William.
  • Ó Ciosáin, Eamon.
  • Ó Grádaigh, Seán.
  • Ua Guilidhe, Seán.
  • O'Reilly, Patrick.
  • Ó Siocfhradha, Pádraig.
  • Quirke, William.
  • Stanford, William B.
  • Teehan, Patrick J.
  • Yeats, Michael B.
Tellers:—Tá:Senators S.T. Ruane and O'Higgins; Níl: Senators Loughman and Ó Ciosáin.
Amendment declared negatived.

I move amendment No. 4:—

In page 3, line 58, after "provided" to add "unless the board are satisfied that such industrial undertaking is situate in a rural area in which event they may at their discretion grant an amount exceeding one-half of the cost of the machinery or equipment provided.

Amendment No. 4 is allied to, but not in any way dependent on, the amendment which the House has just defeated. Like the last amendment, however, the suggestion contained in amendment No. 4 is not a suggestion which originates on this side of the House. On the Second Stage of this Bill a very strong plea in favour of the terms of amendment No. 4 was made by Senator Yeats. The Senator, however, overlooked putting down an amendment to deal with the suggestion which he made and I am supplying the deficiency. I may say that this is done in all good faith. Having listened to Senator Yeats, having read his speech subsequently, it did appear to me that the suggestion made by him on the Second Stage of this Bill was a worthwhile one for further consideration by the House. I assumed that Senator Yeats, having examined the Bill, having made this suggestion, would then follow it up by putting down an amendment for consideration on the Committee Stage. For that reason I did not put down an amendment such as this on the Committee Stage. Then I found, to my surprise, that Senator Yeats had overlooked doing so also. For that reason I decided that this matter should receive the further consideration of the Seanad on the Report Stage.

The case made by Senator Yeats on the Second Stage is contained in column 386 of the Seanad Debates. He pointed out that, as the Bill stood, it was probable that individuals or groups would be encouraged to set up their industries in the bigger towns and that that was no use at all in so far as the Bill was intended to deal with the problem of emigration. He suggested the remedy, as reported in column 386, when he stated:—

"At the same time, it should surely be possible for An Foras Tionscal to provide incentives to industrialists to set up outside the bigger towns; to say: ‘If you set up in this town, you will, of course, get the grant to which you are entitled so as to prevent your being at a disadvantage with industrialists elsewhere, but if you set up in some rural area, we will give you a rather bigger grant, we will make it worth your while.'"

The suggestion contained in this amendment is designed to meet that point of view so well and so ably expressed by Senator Yeats. It is not an amendment which can make any great difference to the Bill. It is not an amendment which will cost the State a penny piece more, because the amount of money which can be expended by the State under the Bill is already limited. All I am endeavouring to do is to induce the board, when it is established, to pay rather particular attention to rural areas as distinct from urban areas. I take it that that was the idea which Senator Yeats had in mind when he spoke so forcibly in advancing this suggestion on the Second Stage of the Bill. I recommend most heartily to the Minister that he should accept Senator Yeats's suggestion.

I am glad that Senator O'Higgins attributed to me the responsibility for the introduction of this amendment, but I must confess that at the time I made the remarks, which he quoted in part, on the Second Stage of the Bill certainly nothing was further from my mind than that the Bill should be amended in this or in any other way.

"Or in any other way."

In regard to my remarks that I hoped An Foras Tionscal would give greater incentives to industrialists who are going to set up in rural areas rather than in towns, I had in mind that they would use the very extensive grants which they can give already under the Bill to encourage industrialists to set up in one area rather than another. I think Senator O'Higgins is perhaps not aware of the extensive grants which can be given under this Bill.

If the Senator cares to study the Bill he will discover that An Foras Tionscal can give the entire cost of the buying of land, the entire cost of the training of workers to work in the industry, and the entire cost of building houses or canteens for the workers. It can attempt to obtain a remission of rates for the industry and can instruct the Electricity Supply Board to give cheap electricity. That is only a small portion of the total help it can give. In addition, it can give up to 50 per cent. of the cost of providing machinery or equipment. It can also pay the whole cost of providing railway lines as well as the construction and repair of roads, bridges and harbour works. I still think it is true to say that in no single case would An Foras Tionscal give all these forms of help to the limit provided in the Bill. I am perfectly certain, in the case of any industry, whether it is set up in a rural area or just west of the Shannon or a long way west of the Shannon, that An Foras Tionscal would not give the full amount of the grant. It might give the greater, or a lesser, proportion of the total grant. That would all depend, I imagine, on the place where the industry was set up. That was all I asked on the Second Reading of the Bill.

The argument which the Minister used on the previous amendment against increasing the level beyond 50 per cent. in relation to the provision of machinery was, I think, a sound one. It never occurred to me, when speaking on the Second Reading, that more than 50 per cent. would be provided, because I think it is reasonable to ask that a minimum of 50 per cent. should be provided by the industry itself. That, I suggest, would be a very small proportion of the total expenditure which the person concerned in starting the industry would have to face. If he got all the rest, by way of grant from An Foras Tionscal, he would be doing very well.

Senator Yeats's previous speech apparently convinced Senator O'Higgins that something ought to be done in this direction. It failed entirely to convince me, because I am not at all satisfied that, in any circumstances, should more than 50 per cent. be given for machinery. I am by no means satisfied that it is desirable or proper, or that it would help the objects of this Bill, if the board were to use its powers of differentiating by picking a particular place and trying to persuade an industry to go there if it did not want to.

I am fundamentally in agreement with the Minister on one thing which he has repeated again and again, and that is that the object of the Bill is to encourage persons who desire to start industry west of the Shannon, and to make it possible for them to do so. The Bill is not for the purpose of trying to get them to start an industry if they do not want to, or of getting them to go to a place that they do not want to go to, by offering them special inducements. There would be no use whatever in starting an industry because a person was to get special inducements in the first year or two. Anybody with experience knows that perfectly well.

Help given during the first year or two will never enable anybody to establish a permanent industry. It does not matter what help or assistance is given by the Government or the board. If the Government were to give a very substantial amount in an effort of that kind, then it would be much better for it to make the industry a State industry. The object of the Bill, as I understand it, is to encourage private industry.

I have stated on many previous occasions that I am in favour of special steps being taken to provide for the people in the Gaeltacht and the Fíor-Ghaeltacht. I believe that to be absolutely essential for the livelihood of the persons in these areas. At the same time, I am not prepared to say that, because it is a rural area, there should be special conditions provided, nor am I prepared to subscribe to the view put forward by Senator Yeats that the board which, of course, must have a discretion, should use that discretion in favour of one place as against another. If you get people to go to a place to start an industry simply because you want them to go there, then I suggest they are likely to fail there. The idea should be to put the maximum amount of responsibility on the people who are starting the industry. Give them what they need, but no more, and they are far more likely to succeed, particularly if they have a fair amount of their own money in the industry.

I do not think there is anything further for me to say on this amendment. Deputy O'Higgins's good faith must be taken at its face value, I presume. He was at pains to make it clear, when speaking on this amendment, that he was not merely trying to score a point over Senator Yeats. What I said about the last amendment applies to this, and perhaps with even greater force. All industry is essentially an urban activity. Many factories could not be operated at all without the facilities which are normally found only in towns. In some cases, supply of town gas may be required; in other cases, the existence of a railway or other transport facilities, and, in all cases, the provision of the facilities necessary for the operation of industrial processes is more likely to be available or will be available more cheaply in towns or villages than in rural areas. In fact, throughout the West of Ireland, to which the Bill applies, there are very few areas more than five or six miles away from some town or fair-sized village, and many of the factories in that part of the country, and in other rural areas and other non-metropolitan areas, do, in fact, draw rural labour. Sometimes they have to organise transport services for them but, normally, it is not impracticable for an industry to contemplate drawing workers from rural homes five, six or seven miles from the factory centre.

I do not think it is necessary to take special measures to establish in rural areas, in the ordinary accepted meaning of that term, factories which could be more properly or more efficiently established in the adjacent town or village. I do not know how the word "rural" would be defined under this amendment because many of the towns and most of the villages in the areas west of the Shannon would have no local government or defined boundaries, and would probably be qualified to regard themselves as being in rural areas. In any event, the objection which I expressed to the last amendment applies to this one, and I think that is the main reason for asking the Seanad to reject it.

Senator O'Higgins, who has left the House, is not pressing the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 5:—

In page 4, lines 40-43, to delete all words after "if" and insert "a local authority is satisfied that the premises are no longer being used for the purposes of the industrial undertaking in respect of which they were certified by the board before a remission of rates was granted under sub-section (2) of this section it may terminate such remission of rates before the expiration of nine local financial years".

I put down amendments Nos. 5 and 6 because they, more or less, relate to each other. I suppose it will be possible to take amendment No. 6 by itself. I put it down because it seems to me to be a necessary corollary to amendment No. 5. The more I read sub-section (4) of Section 9, the more I feel that it is unsatisfactory as it stands. If it means anything, it means that when premises are provided there must, of necessity, be "terms". If it is only a question of rent and the ordinary terms governing the provision of premises, I think there would be no grounds for removing the remission of rates because one was late in the payment of rent. In order to make the section operable the board will have to provide terms of some kind and that is contrary to the idea of the Bill and to the statements made by the Minister.

I believe the proper way of dealing with this matter is to leave it to the local authorities. It is the local authority who should take action in providing a remission of rates up to two-thirds for a period of nine years. If they believe premises are not being used for the purpose for which they were certified by the board they should have the right to withdraw that remission. There is, too, the technical difficulty that an industrial undertaking may change its character and may, as the Minister himself said, perhaps jokingly, start a picture house in connection with its business. But it still could do all that and get a remission of rates unless there was something specific in the terms stipulating that the undertaking must not have a picture house. I understand that unless they break the terms nothing can be done. The board must specifically state that they have failed to observe the terms.

My only interest is in having something that will work. I suggest there is a flaw, and that in order to remedy that flaw something along the lines of my amendment is desirable. At the same time if the premises are not used for the purpose for which they were originally intended, and if there is some provision under which the local authority is empowered to stop the remission of rates before the expiration of the nine-year period, it is perfectly plain to me that they ought to have the power to so remit the rates for a new undertaking provided the board certifies that the purpose for which the undertaking was originally established is not being carried out.

It is not inconceivable that in the future it might be advisable to discontinue one of these particular undertakings and it might be equally desirable to establish some new undertaking in the same premises. In no circumstances can the local authority under the Bill as it stands at the moment give a second remission of rates to the same premises. Now, I think that is a mistake. I think that if the local authority is satisfied that the new undertaking certified by the board is a desirable one, then they should have power to give a remission of rates for the remainder of the nine-year period at any rate.

In principle I believe that the local rating authority should be the authority with the right to decide whether or not a certain building within its jurisdiction should have rates paid upon it. I think it is an invidious position for a local authority that an outside board—no matter how independent or how impartial it is— should advise a local authority whether or not the owners of certain premises within its jurisdiction should be given a remission of rates. As a member of a local authority, I think we should have the last word. Where the promoters of a certain undertaking fail to carry out the original plan I think it should be left to the judgment of the local authority in the area in which that undertaking is established to decide whether or not the original agreement has been broken.

It is conceivable that there might be a change-over from the original proposition to something quite different. The board might regard that as a breach of the original agreement. The change might be a very valuable change. From the point of view of the ultimate value of the premises on which a rate would be levied, it might be an advantage to the local authority. In such a case I do not think the local authority should have an outside body or board dictating to it. I think it should be left to the good sense of the local representatives to deal with such a situation if and when it arises.

Many members of this House are also members of local authorities. In a week or two we will be considering our Estimates. When Estimates are presented to us for hundreds of thousands of pounds we may in the future find ourselves in the position that, concurrently and simultaneously, we are faced with a direction from an outside body that such-and-such a premises is to be relieved of rates, or the remission already given is to operate no longer. The question then arises: Are they the rating authority or are we? I think it is wrong and I think it is infra dig. to place the local representatives in that position. I think that provision is inadvisable from every point of view. It appears to me to detract from the value of the Bill and it puts us, as local authority representatives, in the position of accepting a principle that I personally reject.

In the course of the discussion on the Committee Stage of this Bill I said that there was a question in my mind in relation to the phraseology of sub-section (4) of Section 9. I have looked at that particular provision since and I have come to the conclusion that it would be impracticable to frame the section in any other words and that it would be risky to amend it.

Senator Baxter completely misunderstands the section. So far as the granting of a remission of rates is concerned, it is solely at the discretion of the local authority. The Bill provides that once that remission is granted it is irrevocable for ten years. That is quite in accordance with the whole scheme under which it is intended to ensure that the help which will be given to any private group proposing to engage in industry in these areas will be irrevocable. That group will know precisely the help it will get before it expends any of its own resources in developing an industry. Having made successful contact with Foras Tionscal, on the one hand, and the local authority, on the other, that group will then be in a position to make up its mind whether or not to go on with the project, knowing precisely what help it will receive from both.

The question that arises here, however, relates to the circumstances under which the remission of rates in respect of certain premises can be revoked because of a change in the user of the premises. Senator Douglas suggests that such a decision should be taken by the local authority. The Bill suggests that the local authority should have no right to withdraw the remission unless Foras Tionscal certifies that the purpose for which the premises were provided has been departed from in circumstances which, in its opinion, would justify or require the giving of the certificate mentioned in the sub-section.

The objection which I see to Senator Douglas's amendment is, I think, of importance. Groups of private individuals will be hesitant about engaging in industrial activity if they feel that circumstances may arise which will lead to a discussion of their business affairs in public at a meeting of the local authority. If we amend the Bill so as to give the local authority power on its own initiative of withdrawing the rates remission on the ground that the premises are no longer being used for the purposes of the industrial undertaking originally established, then we are giving the right to any individual member of the local authority to bring up the affairs of that undertaking for discussion by the local authority.

Changes may occur in the conduct of an industry, for instance, in the manufacturing process carried on there, or in the organisation of labour in the factory—changes which may create complaints or give rise to grievances amongst individuals who may pursue the complaint or grievance to the extent of urging some member of a local authority to penalise a concern by withdrawing the rates remission on the grounds that the industrial process carried on is not precisely the same as it was originally. Apart altogether from the prospect of a local authority accepting any such case, even the mere discussion of it would be detrimental to the concern. I feel that it is far more likely that business people will have confidence in the approach of Foras Tionscal to questions of that kind than in the political approach of a local authority and that they will feel certain that their advantage under this section of the Bill will not be withdrawn from them in circumstances in which it would not be justifiable but only where Foras Tionscal are satisfied that all the circumstances require it.

In the course of his remarks, Senator Douglas referred to amendment No. 6. Perhaps I should say in that regard that my position in relation to the point to which that amendment refers is somewhat different. The Minister for Local Government was more than reluctant to agree to a rates remission in any circumstance. Naturally, he regards it as desirable that the integrity of the rates should be protected and may believe that if the principle of rates remission to secure a desirable development is adopted in one case it will become more difficult to resist its adoption in other cases.

While he agreed to the principle of rates remission in this case, he urged that it should be limited in various ways, limited in time and in relation to the powers of the local authority in regard to it. He felt particularly that it was a necessary and desirable safeguard to put in that the remission of rates would only be given once by the local authority in respect of the same premises. It is intended that the remission given should, of course, be limited in time to ten years. Over and above that, it is felt that it is desirable to legislate to prevent the local authority granting a second remission on the same terms, even if circumstances do arise in which the original undertaking failed and a new group started an industry in the building. It is true that the second group taking over the building which had been vacated by the enterprise which had failed could not get a remission of rates. If that happened, I can say that Foras Tionscal would take that fact into account in determining the amount of help, if any, to be given in the case of the second enterprise. It is obviously desirable, from the point of view of the Minister for Local Government, that the position should be made clear so as to avoid holding out a prospect of this principle of rates remission continuing over a longer period than is contemplated here. The main point with regard to the present amendment is that the section was designed to exclude a local authority from the consideration of whether the remission of rates originally given by it should be withdrawn later or not. It cannot do so unless the body which is independent of political consideration and is concerned only with the industrial aspect of the project decide that circumstances have arisen which justify such action.

Surely the Minister's defence of the text of this particular section and his resistance to the amendment is very unconvincing. The usual ogre in parliamentary debates is the Minister for Finance. A new ogre is produced this evening to prevent us from doing reasonable things, and he is the Minister for Local Government.

Not for this amendment but for the next amendment.

Yes, for the next amendment. I would be prepared to back the Minister for Industry and Commerce as against the Minister for Local Government any day.

You would be backing a loser; he is a Cavan man.

I would be prepared to back a Dublin man as against a Cavan man in these circumstances. Surely sub-section (2) is quite reasonable; it leaves to the local authority, if they think fit, the right to remit rates, and does not everybody know that the local authority are very sympathetic to people who want to set up industries in their area?

The position is that the local authority decide to grant the rates remission.

Is it not well established and well known that they are sympathetic to people who desire to establish industries in a particular area? The factory premises themselves will eventually be rateable and the factory workers will require houses and will pay rates themselves, either directly or indirectly. For that reason he will give a remission of rates.

That is in the Bill.

I am aware that that is in the Bill but, therefore, why should the local authority not be entrusted with the power of saying that they will end the remission of rates on certificate? Why put over a sympathetic local body another body? The Minister tells us that the local body is political-minded and that there might be talk of the business not being carried on on the lines originally intended. Is it not well known that, if local bodies want to talk, nothing will stop them?

A Senator

Not if they have a good chairman.

I do not want to discuss a good or a bad chairman. Do we not all know that if there is a local dispute in a factory, as the Minister suggests, and that if the local body, to use a vulgar phrase, wants to get a wallop at the employers, they will succeed in getting it? From what I have seen of local bodies, I have much more faith in them than the Minister has. I feel that Senator Douglas's amendments—amendments Nos. 5 and 6—are quite reasonable, if I may discuss both amendments together. If a premises gets a remission of rates for nine years, and if the undertaking fails after two years, I do not see why this local body if they think fit could not give a remission of rates for a second venture.

A Senator

For another nine years?

The Minister is listened to in silence no matter what fallacious arguments he may use, but if one speaks with the tongues of angels nobody on the other side of the House wants to listen, no matter how reasonable one may be, or how mild. The amendments are quite reasonable. A local body should have the power and should be able to give a remission of rates on a second occasion. We have far too much of this establishing of a body which the Minister appoints which can exercise powers over all sorts of people, including local bodies. The Minister has doubts about local bodies which he must know himself are not correct. A local body is not a political one when it is discussing a local factory; it is a body of people who desire as much employment as possible and as many rateable premises as possible in the area. For that very reason, the amendments are quite reasonable. I do not understand why sub-section (2) of this section gives a local authority power to decide that rates should be remitted and why the other sections take away power from the authority. It must be all of a piece.

I think Senator Hayes misunderstands my position. I am not questioning the competence of the local authority. I have expressed no personal view as to their competence to deal with these matters. It is not my attitude that is involved. It is the attitude of those whom we are trying to induce to start industries in these areas. What I want to ask the Senator is this: Whether you are more likely to induce people to start industries in an area if you say: "Yes, you can get rates remission for the factory premises for nine years but the local authority can withdraw it again." I think it is far better to give the assurance that, if the local authority grants rates remission, they cannot withdraw it, and that is the way the Bill is framed.

Why should anyone have power to withdraw it?

I mentioned the circumstances in which the body which was originally responsible for the proposition might have a right to review the position.

As a member of a local authority for a number of years I had a certain amount of hesitation when I saw this amendment as to whether it would not be better to continue the power given to the local authority to grant the remission and to continue to give them full power to cease that remission at any time. I want to say it is perfectly clear that the local authority, considering what it would cost to remit two-thirds of the rates, may well say: "No, we will not do it," because if it is an urban authority, for instance, they will have lost the amount of remission for ten years. By the way, it is ten years, not nine years.

It is ten years. One year, plus nine.

Yes, that is right.

The remission is for the ten years, and an urban authority will have to face up to this problem that, not only will they lose the two-thirds remission on the valuation of the building for ten years, but they will pay to the county council the assessment on the full valuation of the building.

I am a member of a local authority and also of a county council for a great many years and, therefore, I speak from experience. Take the town of Longford. A penny in the £ brings £37 or £38. The remission of rates on a factory valued at £150 is going to be a very serious matter for the ratepayers of that town. Once the decision is made—I think I am right in this— whether it is a refusal or a grant, that is the end of it. If the local authority decide on a vote—because that is the way it will be done, being a reserved function under sub-section (7) for the purposes of county management—not to grant the remission, that is the end of it. There is no appeal to anyone else.

They could reconsider it next year.

There is no provision here.

There is nothing to prevent it.

Probably the lawyers will be well paid for deciding that in court.

We ought to prevent them now.

I have come to the conclusion, from seeing Bills passing through this House, that the more you try to copper-fasten things, the more grist you bring to the lawyers' mill. I prefer simple language. The people who are getting that remission are banking on it to a certain extent; they get the remission because they propose carrying on an industrial undertaking on terms that will be set out. Assuming this, I think it is reasonable to assume that the terms laid down by the board will provide for continuance of their certificate, or at least provide that the certificate will not be revoked if the industrial undertaking is continued.

Any industrial undertaking?

That is my reading. I think that would be the main consideration. If I were a member of the board I would give that certificate on the main grounds that the factory premises would continue to be used for an industrial undertaking. All other terms would be very minor and would be subject to that.

As I said at the outset, I am in some doubt as to whether the power to cancel that remission of rates should not also be left entirely to the local authority. But I must say that my approach to that aspect of it is much the same as the Minister's and is not the same as Senator Hayes'. I think that everyone here will agree with what Senator Hayes has said; there is great enthusiasm shown by people in an area and by a local authority if there is a proposal to establish an industry there. At the beginning, all kinds of support are offered but with the passage of the years ordinary difficulties will arise, difficulties that any of us meet in our day to day business.

I can well visualise this set of circumstances: if the power of revoking that remission is left entirely to the local authority, as the result, possibly, of a labour dispute or of some other circumstances, a member of a local authority striking the rate may object to a remission for his own particular purpose if he thinks it is going to add to his stature locally, because, after all, he must appeal to the popular vote in order to be returned to that local authority, and we will have the affairs of that business concern discussed by two or three very irresponsible people, out of a membership of, perhaps, 20 to 25, saying things that would deter other people from engaging later on in similar industrial undertakings if they know that the remission of rates is due to come up every year on a motion, say, of any member of the local authority, proposing that the rates remission be rescinded.

I think, speaking from experience, as a member of a local authority for many years and with considerable experience of the minds of people engaged in industrial activities, that, on balance, I must come down on the side of favouring the point of view expressed by the Minister rather than the point of view expressed by Senator Hayes to leave the rescinding of the remission of rates entirely to the local authority.

I will take only a minute to finish. I do not intend to press the matter. I think responsibility in a matter of this kind is largely one for the Government. The responsibility of members of this House is to point out what they believe to be serious flaws. The debate on this particular amendment has been mainly and, perhaps, naturally, on the issue as to whether the decision should be made by the local bodies or by the board. Frankly, I do not feel very strongly on that point, but a point on which I do feel strongly has not been adverted to, that the way in which the Government has put this section forces the board or somebody else—it may not be the board—when providing premises to make some kind of terms.

May I interrupt the Senator? I looked into that and I found that it is necessary to have some provision which will permit of development in the manufacturing process carried on. The Senator will, I think, from his own experience, understand that somebody may come and say: "We are proposing to start the manufacture of aspirin tablets. If that develops, we will go into other lines and may stop manufacturing aspirin tablets."

Every group that starts a new enterprise has got in mind the ultimate developments or changes that may take place. The phraseology used there was intended to make it clear that they did not have to continue the precise process of producing the same goods by the same method in order to qualify for the remission, so long as the developments that took place were in accordance with the original idea.

I do not think there is any difference between the Minister and myself, but I am quite unable to get the point over to him which I am trying to make. He is providing here the only grounds on which the remission of rates can be withdrawn—that is, that the board certifies that the terms on which the premises were provided have not been observed. Now, the board may not have provided the premises at all. The company may have provided the premises.

The section applies only to premises which are provided by the board or by means of a grant made by the board.

I was not clear that it meant provision in that sense of the word. It seems this is a new point which makes it even more absurd. If a company starting an industry get their own premises and do not make the board provide the premises they cannot get the remission. I doubt if that is proper.

If they get it, every existing premises could get it.

My point is that it is undesirable to force these terms on a company. Anyone with any business experience knows that what the Minister says is perfectly correct. You start an industry to make certain articles. Fashions change or medical opinion changes, and you must have power to develop. You are frequently told by a landlord or by the person from whom you are taking a lease, no doubt with the assistance of lawyers, that the premises must not be used for this purpose or the other. You fight to get the lease as wide as possible, not as narrow as possible. Therefore, I think it is wrong to make this dependent on the observance of terms. I think it should depend on whether an industry, which is providing good employment, is within the Bill or not. I have done my best to amend this section, but the Minister thinks I am wrong. I still think there is a flaw in it, but I do not propose to press the amendment. I put it down simply for the purpose of having the matter discussed.

In regard to the second amendment, I do not propose to press it either, though I think there will be few cases where an industry will not be carried on for a few years and where somebody else may come along and start a kindred business. I think the local authority should have power to remit the rates for the balance of nine years.

May I ask the Minister a question? Section 9, sub-section (1), says:—

"This section applies to premises certified by the board to have been provided for an industrial undertaking in an undeveloped area either by the board or by means of a grant made by them."

Does that mean that only premises which are provided by Foras Tionscal will be able to apply for a remission of rates?

Yes, provided by the board or by means of a grant made by them.

In order words, an industrial undertaking that builds its own factory will not be able to get a remission of rates?

If the board decides that the enterprise was not subject to any competitive disadvantage, it can get no other advantage.

But if it gets a grant from the board of even sixpence, it qualifies for the remission of rates.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 6 not moved.
Business suspended at 6.5 p.m., and resumed at 7.15 p.m.

May I suggest that we take amendments Nos. 7 and 8 in the name of Senator O'Higgins together?


I move amendments Nos. 7 and 8:—

In page 8, line 54, after "1919" to add "provided however that in fixing such price or compensation, allowance may be made on account of the acquisition of such land being compulsory, and any provision to the contrary in the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919, shall not apply".

In page 9, line 4, after "acquired" to add "provided however that in fixing such compensation allowance may be made on account of such termination, restriction or interference being imposed compulsorily and any provision to the contrary in the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919, shall not apply".

Amendment No. 7 was in fact moved as amendment No. 13 on the Committee Stage; I said all I wanted to say regarding it during the Committee Stage discussion and amendment No. 8 embodies the same principle. I have the advantage on this occasion of knowing the arguments which the Minister proposes to use against these amendments—that is, if, like myself, he intends being consistent.

I suggested, when moving this amendment previously, that the Minister should take his courage in his hands and take this opportunity of departing from the Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919, an Act which is 33 years old now. The Minister has, quite sincerely I believe, in contesting other amendments indicated his preference for following the line already laid down in legislation. I think that, in reply to Senator P.F. O'Reilly, he went so far as to indicate that he personally looks upon matters such as provisions regarding compulsory acquisition as matters which should come out of a pigeonhole because such provisions were used in some previous Act of Parliament. I am appealing to the Minister to depart from that attitude in relation to the compulsory acquisition sections in this particular Bill.

In amendment No. 7 I am suggesting to the Minister that the arbitrator appointed under the 1919 Act—if it is necessary to acquire land compulsorily and if there is arbitration regarding price or compensation—should be given discretion to take into account, in assessing the price or compensation, the fact that the acquisition is compulsory. I do not ask the Minister to go any further than that. I do not ask him to make it obligatory on the arbitrator to take the compulsory nature of the acquisition into account, but I am suggesting that he should at least go so far as to allow the arbitrator discretion in such cases.

The reason I prefer to have the matter left to the discretion of the arbitrator rather than to compel the arbitrator to take the compulsory nature of the acquisition into account is that I appreciate that there are two types of cases which will be dealt with with regard to acquisition arising out of this Bill. You may have the type of case where it is known locally that the powers contained in the Bill may be invoked for a particular locality and it may be that some speculator will purchase land there knowing that it is the only land suitable for the proposed development. I agree that in a case such as that it would not be right to pay any regard at all to the fact that the acquisition is compulsory. I do not believe that a person who speculates in that way deserves to make anything on his speculation, and I fully agree with the Minister that in such circumstances the arbitrator should be free to leave out of account entirely the fact that the acquisition is compulsory.

You have another type of case, however, and I think that the other type will probably be very much more frequent than the type I have mentioned. You may have the case of a smallholder in Connaught who does not want to part with his land, whose family have existed on the land for hundreds of years and who wants to finish his own life there without disturbance. That is the type of case which I feel should merit special attention. As the law stands at present the first sub-section of, I think, Section 2 of the 1919 Act provides that the arbitrator cannot take into account the fact that the acquisition is compulsory in assessing price or compensation. I am suggesting to the Minister that in the second type of case where a person is genuinely not trying to hold the State up to ransom but merely wants to be left undisturbed in order to finish his life on his land because his father and his grandfather before him lived there and worked that soil it is reasonable to say to the arbitrator: "If you think that there is any merit in this case and a man who wants to stay is being disturbed because of the provisions of the Undeveloped Areas Act we will leave your hands free. If you think that such a man has been disturbed against his will and is not trying to make a profit you are perfectly free to take that into account in assessing compensation." I think that that is reasonable and I do not think that there is any chance at all of this discretionary power given to an arbitrator being abused.

The Minister's argument against the amendment in similar terms moved during the Committee Stage was that we would be entering into an uncharted sea. We would not know what would happen and it might mean boosting land values in acquisition cases. I do not think that there is any likelihood at all of that happening. Remember that in this Bill we are entering into an uncharted sea. As I pointed out on an earlier amendment, the acquisition envisaged under the Bill is materially different from compulsory acquisition by the State of land to be worked by the State for State purposes.

Under this Bill we are envisaging the compulsory acquisition of property from an individual to be used not by the State as the State but by another individual or group of individuals. We will in effect be taking property from one person and giving it to another person or group of persons. Consequently, the compulsory powers contained in this Bill will in any event be used for purposes which I think are unprecedented in our legislation from the time this State was established. I think that the Minister should at least meet us in some reasonable way on this and on the next amendment.

Senator O'Higgins, I think, has made a very reasonable case. This is a sort of problem that can be easily visualised by any member of the House. It has to be taken into consideration that we are not legislating for that part of the country where the farms are very large and where three, four or five acres on a holding would make no difference whatever. What you have to take into consideration is the fact that, when you are going into the congested areas, you are going into a part of the country where practically all the holdings are very small and where, probably, over great areas the valuation is much less than £10. In any event, whatever they have got they highly value. If we are going to take five acres from a man who has got ten or 15 acres the remainder of the farm left him is practically uneconomic. If, on the other hand, you are dealing with a 100 or 200 acre farm the situation would be entirely different although the right of the owner to what was fair would not be altered by that fact.

I think the law ought to be changed where there is disturbance on a man by compulsion. A man may have very little of the world's goods in the shape of land, and some of the land may have been improved by the continuous efforts of his family. Again, where you are compelled, in order to acquire a site, to take what was the most highly developed and most valuable portion of a small farm, I think, in justice, account ought to be taken of the circumstances. Consideration should be given for the fact that compulsion had been applied. The arbitrator ought to be at liberty to put some value on the land in addition to the other considerations that would weigh with him when he was fixing the price. It may very well mean that, where a portion of a small farm has been taken up, the owner has to clear out altogether. If he were a man who was accustomed to living on the land, there might be nothing for him to do but go somewhere else and provide himself with a home or a holding. When you break up a small farm like that, the remainder may be much less valuable when put on the market. All that ought to be taken account of in the fixing of the price. It seems to me that Senator O'Higgins has made a very reasonable case. There are occasions when ownership is entitled to have a much higher value put upon it, and in the situation I have outlined the arbitrator ought to be at liberty to take the circumstances into account.

I do not think that Senator Baxter is aware of the fact that this amendment deals with that section of the Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919, which lays down the rules to be followed by the arbitrator in connection with the acquisition of land——

—— and not for the assessment of compensation for disturbance. These rules prescribed in Section 2 of the Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919, have been in operation now for over 30 years and have been applied in all cases in which powers of compulsory acquisition of land have been used since then. The first of these rules is that "No allowance shall be made on account of acquisition being compulsory." Senator O'Higgins proposed that rule being reversed. Others, I think, would be far more competent than I am——

Might I interrupt the Minister? I do not propose that the rule be reversed. I merely proposed that discretion be allowed.

The Senator's amendment seeks to provide that, in fixing the compensation, allowance may be made on account of the acquisition of the land being compulsory. No. 1 of these rules provides: "No allowance shall be made on account of acquisition being compulsory." I was going to say that others would be far more competent than I am to argue the case for these rules, and I feel sure that there is a case to be made for them.

I referred earlier to the fact that, generally speaking, over all that period there has been little evidence that they have worked unfairly, having regard to the number of compulsory acquisitions which have taken place, either by statutory bodies, Government departments or local authorities. I think it is a remarkable fact that there has been no evidence of any public agitation based upon the belief that the compensation paid was unduly low. I would urge on the Seanad, however, that they should not make this change on the ground that the Report Stage of this Bill is not an appropriate time to consider whether these rules require amendment or not. The powers of compulsory acquisition given to Foras Tionscal under this Bill are unlikely to ever be used. If ever they are used it will be in relation to comparatively small parcels of land.

I think it is almost certain that whatever change we may make here will become a precedent for the future. Senator O'Higgins made a point that if acquisition under this Bill is ever resorted to it may be for the benefit of private individuals. Nevertheless, the rules we may make here now will almost certainly be urged upon public authorities using compulsory powers in the future. When one has regard to the limited work that Foras Tionscal will be doing, the limited use they will make of these compulsory powers, it is obviously wrong to change on this occasion these rules if there is a probability which, I think, there is, that the change will, in future, apply to the much greater acquisitions which statutory bodies and local authorities may be compelled to undertake.

I have been reading these rules, and I think they are quite good. The reason why they have operated over 30 years without amendment and operated apparently fairly over that period is that they were well framed originally. When you take into consideration all the factors that have bearing in the assessment of compensation, it seems to me that any departure from these rules would involve the introduction of new principles that might have substantial consequences.

My main case to the Seanad, however, is that, if amendment of these rules is considered necessary, it should be considered apart from this Bill and, perhaps, even apart from any particular Bill and that the rules which arbitrators must follow should be fixed and applied generally to all cases where compulsory acquisition powers are given. That was the idea when the Act was passed in 1919. It was a statute which laid down clear and fair rules, a statute which could be incorporated in every Bill which proposed to give powers for compulsory acquisition.

I do not know if a strong case can be made for an amendment of the rules but, if so, I should like to see it made separately and with the knowledge that any change would apply to all cases and not merely to Foras Tionscal or in limited circumstances such as arise here. I would urge strongly that this amendment should not be pressed. If the Senator believes that there is a case for the variation of these rules in all cases, he should make that case in whatever way is open to him and have it examined and debated on its merits and not with reference to the particular circumstances of this Bill.

There is one point I should like to make. Senator O'Higgins used the word "unprecedented" as regards the powers given under this Bill to Foras Tionscal. I am not quite sure exactly what he meant. I think that he did not mean that the powers of compulsory acquisition of land were unprecedented. We know of our own knowledge that local authorities have power to acquire land compulsorily.

I intended to refer to the purposes for which the land was being acquired.

I think I am not interpreting the Senator unfairly when I say that he used the word "unprecedented" in that it gave powers to acquire land compulsorily for the benefit of private individuals or private enterprise. I think that is what he meant. Might I point out that that is not quite correct. In fact, local authorities, under the last Local Government Act, are empowered to acquire land compulsorily not only to erect houses by themselves under contract or by direct labour, but to give sites to private individuals. In other words, they have the power to acquire land in exactly the same circumstances as set out here and to give that land, either by outright sale or lease, to private individuals—exactly the same as is proposed here.

I am in entire agreement with the Minister when he says that there is a long-established practice; we all know where we stand as regards compulsory acquisition. My personal experience has been that, while local authorities have the power to acquire land compulsorily, in my own county, which includes two urban districts, not a single acre of land has had to be acquired compulsorily for all the housing activities that have gone on in that county since 1932. While the powers are there I can say, from my own experience, that it would not be absolutely necessary for An Foras Tionscal to use them. The fact that the powers are there will be a help in connection with the acquisition of land by agreement. I think, too, that in practice what will happen will be that land on which factories will be erected will not be acquired either by agreement or by compulsion by An Foras Tionscal but by the promoters of the industry themselves.

The Minister says that there is little evidence that these rules work unfairly and that if there were any genuine grievances in connection with the working of the rules there would be something in the nature of a public agitation and that more would be heard about it in the Dáil and elsewhere. The case which I made in reply to the Minister's statements could, I think, more properly be made on a later amendment.

The reason why more is not heard about these particular rules is that there is no right of appeal from the decision of the arbitrator: that once the arbitrator gives his decision it is final and binding. Nobody can put down a parliamentary question regarding it. If a parliamentary question in that connection is not actually ruled out of order the reply given by the Minister is that he has no jurisdiction in the matter.

The Senator's experience should tell him that matters are raised in the Dáil otherwise than by parliamentary question.

There is nothing to prevent the Senator from putting down a motion about it in this House.

It would be impossible to get any information from this Minister or from any other Minister regarding it. I am quite sure that if the Minister for Industry and Commerce consults his colleague, the Minister for Local Government, he will find that the Minister for Local Government of this or of any other Government has had plenty of headaches-arising out of the 1919 Act.

My county must be excluded. There is the old saying: "Twenty-five counties and one—Longford."

I will instance one case very briefly for the Minister, without mentioning names. I would not be surprised to learn that while he was in Opposition the Minister was approached in connection with this case. It arose during the time he was a Minister in the previous Fianna Fáil Government. A certain lady had a life interest in four small houses, under the will of her husband. Each of the houses was let at a rent of £1 per week. She was getting about £200 a year out of the four small houses and she was living on that £200 a year. Those four houses were acquired compulsorily. The matter went to arbitration and the arbitration allowed was something in the region of £2,000. She had only a life interest in the houses and, consequently, only a life interest in the £2,000 which she was awarded. I am sure Senator Hartnett will confirm that the lady had to invest the £2,000 in gilt-edged securities, producing three or three-and-a-half per cent. per annum. The net result of that arbitration, from which there was no appeal, was that the income upon which she was dependent for her living was reduced from £200 a year to £60 a year. Plenty was heard about that case in the Department of Local Government. I think I was merely one of many who took up the case to see if anything could be done about it because it seemed to be a glaring injustice. The reply very properly given by the Minister—it was given by the last Minister for Local Government and by his predecessor in office—was that the Minister had no jurisdiction: that under the 1919 Act the decision of the arbitrator was final. That is the reason why the Minister does not hear very much about it but there can be injustices and I think that there are very frequently.

The Minister made the point that this matter of the 1919 Act should be considered as apart from this Bill— that it should be considered separately and that it should apply to all questions of compulsory acquisition. I hope that that was not merely a passing thought on the Minister's part. I hope that at least he will act on that and have the question of the 1919 Act and the regulations included under it examined with a view to seeing whether there are injustices which could be remedied. I do not agree with him, though, that when the Act is embodied in another Act, which we are asked to pass now, we should ignore any injustices which may arise under it. I think it is right that we should consider it.

I do not intend to press the amendment but I ask the Minister to give some undertaking to the House that he and his colleagues in the Government will consider the question of amending the 1919 regulations.

Amendments Nos. 7 and 8, by leave, withdrawn.

On behalf of Senator P.F. O'Reilly, I move amendment No. 9:—

In page 9, between lines 22 and 23, to insert a new sub-paragraph, as follows:—

"(6) (a) Any person from whom land is compulsorily acquired by the Board shall have a right of appeal to the High Court against the decision of the official arbitrator as to the price or compensation fixed for such land.

(b) The decision of the High Court upon any such appeal shall be final and conclusive.”

Under the Land Acquisition (Compensation) Act of 1919 another anomaly is the fact that when the arbitrator sits and adjudicates on a particular case neither party has a right of appeal. I should be surprised if the Minister said that he has never heard of a grievance against the particular provision. I do not believe that the knowledge of grievances against the fact that there is no right of appeal is limited to the legal profession. It is certain that any lawyer will assure the Minister that nearly every client who has had to submit to arbitration has a grievance as a result of the arbitration.

Senator P.F. O'Reilly, in referring to this matter on the Second Reading, drew the Minister's attention to the fact that these grievances were not limited to the people from whom land is acquired, but that very often the local authority or other acquiring body find that they have a grievance as a result of the arbitration. The Minister has from time to time been rather outspoken with regard to his opinion of lawyers, and he has indicated that, so far as the Circuit and District Courts are concerned, he has no very great opinion of them either. This amendment will enable him to tell us if his views on the High Court are the same. The amendment is quite a simple one. It is not an amendment which will have any adverse effect on the Bill, assuming that the compulsory acquisition powers are going to be used in a bona fide manner, as I am quite sure they will be, by the board. All it seeks to do is to ensure that, when the arbitrator gives his decision, if the board or the person from whom the property is being acquired feel that the decision was a bad one, that the arbitrator either gave too high or too low a value for the property, a right of appeal to the High Court will lie.

Under the provisions of the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919, not only is there no right of appeal from the decision of the arbitrator, but the Act permits the arbitrator to come to his decision after hearing only one witness on either side. In other words, the arbitrator, should he so decide—I think the practice is not to decide in this way—may, at the start of the investigation, say: "I will hear only one expert witness on either side, and, having heard him, I will give my decision."

Having regard to the fact that such a section exists in the Act, it is all the more important that we should seek to have a right of appeal from the decision of the arbitrator. It is sometimes advanced against propositions such as this that High Court judges or any other judges are not the best persons to give decisions in matters affecting land values, because they may be sitting without an assessor. That is possibly true, but I cannot see that a High Court judge will be in any way seriously prejudiced, because he will be quite at liberty to seek the assistance of whatever witnesses he likes and he may treat the witnesses in much the same way as an arbitrator sitting with assessors would treat the assessors—he may be guided by them. I strongly urge the Minister to accept this amendment.

I think the Minister was quite right in his remarks in dealing with the last two amendments in stating that it would be wrong for us to enshrine in this Act principles governing the acquisition of land by Foras Tionscal differing from the principles governing acquisitions by other public bodies, that is to say, the principles laid down in the 1919 Act. It would be entirely wrong to do that, but I think the whole subject should be reviewed and Senator O'Higgins, for example, if he could get a breathing space from reading my speeches and those of Senator Yeats, might find time to bring in a Private Bill to amend the 1919 Act. At the same time, I would say to the Minister that there is a grave possibility of hardship resulting from the fact that there is no appeal provided from the arbitrator's decision under the 1919 Act.

In the case of somebody who claims that some other person owes him £2, he takes an action in the District Court and the unsuccessful defendant has a right of appeal to the Circuit Court. Accordingly, two minds are brought to bear on the particular matter and the Circuit Court judge may hold that the district justice was wrong in his finding. The acquisition of land compulsorily is, however, a very much more serious matter for the person whose land is being acquired than is any cause which comes within the jurisdiction of a district justice, but in that matter no appeal is provided by law.

I know of certain cases where grave hardship—perhaps I should not say grave hardship but a certain degree of hardship—did result. I am not at all sure that Senator O'Reilly is right in suggesting that the High Court would provide the best forum for an appeal against the arbitrator's decision, and I say that for two reasons. One of these is that High Court judges, despite any public view to the contrary, have already quite enough to do and the other, that I am not at all sure that a High Court judge who has to listen to a valuer on one side and a valuer on the other is in a very strong position. What does happen in practice very often is that the valuer on one side says £50 and the valuer on the other side says £100 and the award is £75—the reasonable and time-honoured solution of splitting the difference.

I wonder, if this matter is being considered separately, if it would not be possible to set up a tribunal consisting of a competent architect, a competent valuer and a competent civil servant from the Valuation Office. If that were done, I do not think there could be any grievance, and likewise it could be provided that, unless the arbitrator's award was increased, no costs would be paid to the appellant. On the other hand, we might even go further and provide that the appellant would have to pay the costs, or certain costs laid down in accordance with any scale provided in the Act.

This is not really quite relevant, but the Minister is right in saying that it would be wrong to have acquisition of land differing in principle from the acquisition of land by any other public body in the State. There must be uniformity in the matter. If there is to be a change, it must be a change affecting the acquisition of land generally by public bodies. It would be grossly anomalous to try to effect the change by getting the thin edge of the wedge in on this particular Bill. Accordingly, I do not feel that this is an amendment I could support.

I am glad Senator Hartnett did not endorse Senator O'Higgins' description of his amendment as a simple amendment. For 30 years, compensation for the acquisition of land in default of agreement has been assessed by arbitration. Senator O'Higgins says: "Abolish arbitration." That is not a simple change.

He said no such thing.

Once you establish an appeal from the arbitrator's decision upon the price to be paid, you have abolished arbitration.

Not at all. You might just as well say that you have abolished the Circuit Court because there is an appeal to the High Court.

It is not a court of arbitration. Surely arbitration means that you set up one person to decide an issue and accept his decision as final and binding.

That is merely quibbling about the use of a term.

I think the Senator's amendment is designed to abolish arbitration in this case. I do not want to enter into any discussion with the Senator about the merits of the High Court. If cases of hardship have arisen under the existing practice, the establishment of an appeal to the High Court is no guarantee that cases of hardship will not arise in the future. There are bound to be people who will not regard the judges of the High Court as infallible.

Under the existing practice there is a panel of arbitrators which is drawn from to provide the arbitrator in any individual case. These arbitrators bring to this task a specialised knowledge that judges of the High Court could not have and should not be expected to have. In matters of this kind where specialised knowledge is required, you must have either a competent arbitrator or some tribunal, such as Senator Hartnett indicated, of a specialised character. It is a wrong type of work to give to ordinary courts of law and to give it to them is by no means an assurance that things will work out better in the future. It is more likely to be the reverse.

I have no objection to the Minister putting up a reasonable argument against the amendment or even against the principle contained in it, but, with respect, I do not propose to permit the Minister to defeat the amendment by misrepresenting the argument advanced by me. There is no suggestion at all in the amendment that the initial investigation and decision by a body—whether you call him an arbitrator or not—should be abolished. It is not being suggested that the 1919 Act and all the machinery under it should be abolished: all that is being suggested is that some body— in this case, the High Court—should be permitted to review the decision when it is given. I think that is very reasonable. It is a system upon which the courts of justice have been built up—there is an appeal from the District Court to the Circuit Court, from the Circuit Court to the High Court and from the High Court to the Supreme Court. On the basis of the Minister's argument, there should be merely one court—the Supreme Court. That is not what is being suggested by me at all.

It is not important whether you call the individual, whom the Minister and I have been calling "arbitrator," an arbitrator or not. I think the principle in Senator O'Reilly's amendment is a very sound one. I am glad that Senator Hartnett did confirm the fact that there is grave dissatisfaction owing to the fact that no appeal lies at present. That is a matter which could be taken into account and considered by the Minister.

Amendment put and declared lost.

On behalf of Senator P.F. O'Reilly, I move amendment No. 10:—

In page 9, line 26, to delete "one" and substitute "two."

This amendment speaks for itself. Despite Senator Hartnett's warning, I am going to invoke the views of Senator Yeats in support of the amendment. Senator Yeats argued on an earlier amendment that it was often difficult to trace the owners of property. Senator O'Reilly feels the same way and consequently has put down this amendment. The section provides that:—

"All claims for the price of or compensation in respect of any land, easement, right or other property (whether corporeal or incorporeal) acquired or interfered with under this Act shall be made within one year after the land, easement, right or property is first entered on, exercised or interfered with under this Act."

The amendment suggests that that period of one year be extended to two years because of the occasional difficulty in tracing the owners of land. It is a very minor amendment and if the Minister feels that two years would be too long he might adopt what Senator Hartnett suggested is the rule of thumb amongst arbitrators and compromise on 18 months.

I do not know whether two years is too long or not long enough. Here is an established practice and I am not anxious to be responsible for changing it unless I understand what I am doing. I do not think that to make the period one and a half or two years would meet any of the difficulties the Senator referred to, if those difficulties exist. I am certain that if the 1919 Act contained a reference to two years there would have been reference to cases where two years were not sufficient and we would now be arguing for four or five years. My case for leaving the paragraph of the Schedule as it is, is that it is an established practice and I do not know what the consequences of a change would be.

All this means is that the claim must be made within 12 months of the land being entered on. It does not mean that the claim must be decided within that time.

It may be.

Yes, but not necessarily so. If my land is entered on to-morrow I can lodge the claim this day 12 months, but it may take five years before I am paid one shilling by way of compensation. On this and similar amendments I think the existing practice should not be interfered with. The onus is on those who oppose the existing practice to show that the existing practice has given rise to so many grievances that it must be changed.

I have a perfectly open mind on it. My experience—and I can speak only from experience and not from legal knowledge—of the application of the 1919 Act to the acquisition of land may be different from that of every other member of the Seanad; but my experience certainly must coerce me to say that the rules regarding the acquisition of land have been as much a success as any of the amendments that I have heard proposed here would be.

I do not know if there is anything we could do to jolt the Minister out of his attitude that, in enacting legislation, it is merely a question of going to the appropriate pigeon-hole and taking out the appropriate precedent and then putting it in the appropriate section of the Bill. That has been his attitude so far, and I think it is entirely wrong. In my opinion, the point made by Senator Hearne is correct. This section and this amendment deal largely with a matter of opinion as to whether one year or two years is sufficient.

Perhaps I did not make the point clear when proposing the amendment. The section provides that claims must be made within one year and that period relates only to claims. It is not coercive on the arbitrator or anyone else to settle the claims in that year. Senator Hearne does not appreciate, however, that a case may arise under this Bill where the board, in exercise of its functions, enters on certain property and the owner may not be ascertained within a year, as the board may not be able to find out who the owner is. But if the owner does not come to learn of the interference or entry on his property for a year and a day, he loses all rights under this legislation to appeal or to compensation or even to have any price given to him. However, I agree with Senator Hearne that this is largely a matter of opinion and, other than expressing the opinion that one year is too short and that two years would be somewhat better, I do not propose to press the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 11:—

In page 9, lines 38 and 39, to delete "or for any other reason inexpedient."

This amendment is put down deliberately as a matter of principle. Clause 6 on page 9 of the Bill reads:—

"Whenever the board are of opinion that the payment of compensation for interference with any land would be uneconomic or for any other reason inexpedient, they may acquire the land permanently under this Act either by agreement or compulsorily."

I object to an omnibus clause such as is used in this section "for any other reason inexpedient" being incorporated in our legislation. It is clear that what the Minister intends is, that if the board are of the opinion that payment of compensation for interference would be uneconomic, in that event the land may be acquired compulsorily or permanently by agreement or compulsorily. If the Minister means uneconomic, I suggest that he should say so and that he shold not include in the Bill an omnibus phrase such as "for any other reason inexpedient" which is open to abuse. I am not suggesting that it would be abused, but it is designed to give legal protection to the board against every conceivable contingency. It is designed to protect the board, not only if they act in what would normally be a legitimate manner, but even if they act in an irresponsible or negligent manner. I do not think that is good enough. I do not think we should encourage these omnibus phrases.

I do not suggest that it is likely to happen, but it could be that the board might, for political reasons, consider it inexpedient to pay compensation for disturbance and that, consequently, for political reasons it would be expedient to acquire the property compulsorily. I agree with the Minister, if he carried out his intention of setting up a board such as he outlined in his Second Reading speech, that anything such as that is unlikely to occur. But, as long as we leave this kind of omnibus phrase appearing in the Bill it is open to the board, either for political motives or any other motive you like to think of, to deem it inexpedient to pay compensation. I do not think it is good enough. I object, and always will object, to that kind of phrase in a Bill.

If we accept the amendment we create this situation: that the board would be confined to deciding solely on the basis whether it was more economic to pay compensation for interference or to acquire the property compulsorily. Senator Baxter has been referring to the type of case that the words which Senator O'Higgins proposes to delete are designed to meet, where a portion of a man's holding is taken from him leaving a balance of no use to him. In such a case, even though it might be economic for the board to pay compensation for interference rather than acquire the whole property, it is still desirable that the board should have the power to acquire the whole property in fairness to the individual. If somebody had three acres of land adjacent to a town, two of which are required for factory premises, the residual one acre might be of no use to the owner, might be incapable of being applied by him to the purposes for which he used the original three acres. In that case it is obviously fair that the board should acquire the whole three acres even though they only needed two and pay compensation for the three acres even though it was less economic to do so than to pay compensation for interference. It is to meet that type of case that these additional words are added.

Surely they have that power at any time.

No. They will have the power if the section passes as it is now.

Even if you take it out entirely, they have that power.

No. The board have not that power. They have power to acquire land for specific purposes. Here they would not acquire land for any one of these specific purposes, but acquire land which in fact they may not need, but solely because it was the fairest way.

Is "inexpedient" the best word? It is a very loose word. I am wondering whether a better term could not be found. Without going the full way with Senator O'Higgins, I agree with him that "inexpedient" is a rather dangerous word. I think we should find a better word.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On behalf of Senator P.F. O'Reilly I move amendment No. 12:—

In page 9, between lines 40 and 41, to insert a new paragraph as follows:

Where the board acquire land by agreement, and the owner of that land holds same under a lease or an agreement which contains a covenant against assignment of the land without the consent of the landlord, it shall not be necessary for the owner of the land to obtain such consent to the necessary assurance of the land to the board.

This amendment is designed to meet what I think is an oversight in the Bill. I think it is only reasonable, when we have gone so far to protect the board against every possible legal remedy foreseeable or unforeseeable, that we should make an effort to protect the owner of the land, who is not the bogey visualised by the Minister as an unreasonable person who will not sell and whose land has to be acquired compulsorily, but a reasonable man who is anxious to facilitate the board and do business with them. He comes along to the board and agrees on a price and wants to execute the conveyance to the board but finds that under his own lease he cannot do that without obtaining the consent of a superior landlord. In such a case, rather than putting the board to the trouble of having to acquire the land by the compulsory methods laid down in the Bill, it would be simpler and it would be adequate protection for the landowner to say that in such circumstances, if agreement has been reached with the board, the landowner need not seek the consent of the superior landlord.

There would be a certain ambiguity about the wording of the amendment, because the reference to the board acquiring land by agreement would, I think, be interpreted as meaning agreement with all the interests concerned. I am advised, however, that under the Landlord and Tenant Act, 1931, the failure of a landlord to consent to transfer of land in the circumstances set out in the amendment could be contested in the courts.

As being unreasonable.

Yes. If there is any need to strengthen that provision, I think it would have to be done by amending the Landlord and Tenant Act.

I do not think so. The only contest there could be against the superior landlord not giving his consent is on the grounds that it was unreasonable to withhold consent. I suggest to the Minister that, if he likes, he can leave the Bill as it stands. He can force either the board or the landowner to go into court and leave it to the court to decide whether the landlord is being reasonable or unreasonable. If the court decides that the landlord is being reasonable, then the board, after a certain amount of delay and legal argument and all the rest, will have to go back and start the compulsory machinery going.

If the court decides that the landlord is unreasonable and orders the landlord to give his consent, well and good, the agreement then goes through, but it goes through after a certain amount of delay. We are dealing with this particular Bill and with the acquisition of land for the purposes contained in the Bill. The amendment, which would speed up the machinery and give protection to the landowner, must be in this Bill and not in the Landlord and Tenant Act.

That would be hardly fair. The Landlord and Tenant Act was intended to define the rights of landlords. I knew every word and clause of that Act once, because I think it took longer to pass through the Houses of the Oireachtas than any other Bill in the past 30 years. The discussions turned very largely on that issue: what rights should be left with the landlord? I do not think that we should try to invade these rights by a side approach such as is suggested here. If there is to be any further curtailment of them in any way, I think it should be by way of an amendment to the Landlord and Tenant Act.

If there is any dispute what are the landlord's rights under this Bill?

The lessee can then go to the court and contest the issue of "reasonableness" with the landlord.

And if the court upholds the landlord?

Then the landlord must be right.

And you are left then to your compulsory provisions?

No. You would be left to compulsory acquisition if you could not acquire by agreement.

Amendment put and negatived.

I move amendment No. 13:—

In page 10, line 4, after "functions" to add "provided that such land is not required by the Irish Land Commission."

This is a simple amendment to ensure that any land acquired by the board from the Irish Land Commission will be land which the Land Commission does not require.

Presumably, if they do require it they will not sell it. It merely empowers the board to buy from the Land Commission.

I am not sure that the Minister is entirely right. It may be that he is. I merely wanted the matter considered.

The provision is merely intended to enable the board to buy land if the Land Commission are willing to sell it.

If you are satisfied that the section as it stands will ensure that the Land Commission will only dispose of land that is not required well and good. There are two parties to it. If the board are given liberty to purchase, that means that the Land Commission are also given liberty to sell, but there is no limitation on the Land Commission to dispose only of land which is not required. I want that limitation to be there.

In any case we are dealing here with half-acres and acres.

I agree with the Minister that it is most unlikely that the Land Commission are going—I know there are Senators here who may hold quite a different view about the Land Commission—to act with reckless disregard and sell land which is required. But we do know that the purpose for which land is required by the Land Commission is of paramount importance. I am suggesting that this limitation should be put on the Land Commission in case anything goes wrong: that we should state in the section that the board may purchase land from the Land Commission, provided the land is not required by the Land Commission.

It is provided that the Land Commission will have to agree. That comes to the same thing.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On behalf of Senator Douglas I move amendment No. 14:—

In page 11, lines 8, 10, 12, after "Telegraphs" to insert "or of the Electricity Supply Board."

This amendment was put down by Senator Douglas for the Committee Stage merely for the purpose of asking why the Department of Post and Telegraphs was covered by Section 12 and the Electricity Supply Board was not covered in the same manner. Is it that the Electricity Supply Board is regarded as not being capable of being injured?

No. I think it has just become standard practice to protect the Department of Posts and Telegraphs in legislation of this kind. It is assumed that the Electricity Supply Board will be reasonable.

It is extraordinary that it should be assumed that the Electricity Supply Board would be reasonable but that the Department of Posts and Telegraphs would be unreasonable. I think that should go on the record.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question—"That the Bill be received for final consideration"— put and agreed to.
Agreed that the Final Stage be taken now.