Land Division. - Claims of Cottage Holders—Motion.

I move:—

That Seanad Éireann is of opinion that in any future division of land the Land Commission should take into consideration the claims of cottage holders.

I put down this motion knowing it is really a matter that concerns my part of North Tipperary very much. We feel that in North Tipperary for the past five or six years there has been some little difficulty regarding the allocation of additional plots to cottage holders, to people living on or near an estate. I know the Minister can make a case that in years gone by they gave a certain amount of land, five or six acres, to cottiers and perhaps he can bring forward figures to show that some of these cottiers have not made a success of their plots, but I am sure he can put forward figures also to show that some of them have made a very great success of them and that they are now working out into nice, big farms.

The case I want to make is this. Under the present rules of the Land Commission, I think, when the Land Commission moves in to take over a farm they give, or are bound to give, an allotment or compensation to a person already working on that farm. But under that system the Land Commission do not go in and take over a farm unless it is badly worked. Take the example of a farmer who is working fairly well and has four or five men employed. As times go against him, or maybe his health deteriorates, or for other financial reasons he is eventually compelled to let the men go, and he finally comes to a decision that he is not able to employ more than one.

Perhaps he offers the farm to the Land Commission or perhaps they acquire it compulsorily. The Land Commission is then bound only to give an allotment or portion of that land to the man who was there when they took over that farm, and the men who were let go a year or maybe two years previously after having worked there— perhaps their fathers worked there before them—up to a year or a year and a half previously, get no consideration from the Land Commission under the present rules.

I know there is nothing in the present rules and regulations of the Land Commission, nor in the Act, forbidding the Land Commission inspector to give an allotment to a cottier, but for some reason or other which I could never quite discover, for the past five, six or seven years, no cottier in my part of North Tipperary has got an allotment. I know of a farm at Bally-quirke where there were 11 cottiers living on the estate. Some of them had two cows and a couple of young cattle and when the Irish Land Commission took over that farm those people had to take their cattle off the land. They had to take some of the cows into the fair of Portumna on the following week and sell them. I thought it was a very grave injustice that because they were not actually working on the land when the land was taken over—some of them had left only a year, and others of them two years previously—they were left completely dependent for milk and everything else on the people around. I should like the Minister to say whether an order has been made by him or by a previous Minister directing the Land Commission not to entertain any application from a cottier living on the land to be divided or on adjoining land.

Another point I would like to make is that under the schemes concerning milk and the Milk Act, no farmer is allowed to sell milk who has not had his cows reared in certain ideal conditions, with the result that in rural Ireland to-day, whether we like it or not, many people cannot buy milk. They have to depend on buying a cow and getting some farmer to give them conacre on which to graze that cow. They have to go into the market to buy hay to feed the cow during the winter.

People living in cottages in rural Ireland to-day are actually sons and daughters of small farmers. Perhaps the farmer is unable to bring them up to the standard of education required to go into the cities and get jobs there; he may not be able to put them into a trade, so that they actually work as agricultural labourers and qualify as cottiers. They are capable of working an allotment of seven or eight acres and they can work for neighbouring farmers and keep cows or calves. This would make them independent, and the more independent people living in cottages are, the better the country will be.

I also believe the present system operated by the Land Commission has a good deal of bearing on the flight from the land and on emigration. Rightly or wrongly some years ago, if land were being divided the deserving people in the neighbourhood, cottiers and others, were all under the impression—sometimes wrongly—that they would get land. But when they got it, the father went out earning and the sons worked the land and they were all more content. Now the cry is: "Such-and-such a farm is divided but we cannot get any of it because we are living in cottages."

In my area, a lot of land has been divided. We have made representations to the Land Commission to the effect that where the people in cottages do not get an allotment they should at least be given cowparks. It will be appreciated that a cowpark is absolutely essential as a result of the milk regulations and also where there are young children. In some places, land was divided. I will not say that every cottier would actually be entitled to land because, to be honest, some of them would not be capable of working it. However, there were some people who took conacre or who had stock and who would be prepared to work a small bit of land. Those people were passed over. I am not saying now that these cases arose in the past 12 months because the truth is that this question has arisen in the past seven years or so. I should be very interested if the Minister, when he is replying, could give us even one case of a cottage holder in North Tipperary who has got an allotment of five, six or seven acres of land in the period I have in mind.

If the Minister wishes, I can give him the names of the farms that have been divided and particulars of the applications which were made for cowparks and for allotments. In some cases, up to 11 or 12 cottage holders who had been living on an estate made such applications. I put down this motion to try and get the Minister for Lands to make a statement so as to clarify the whole question. I want to hear the Minister say whether or not there is anything in the Act which debars a cottage holder from getting a portion of land. Can the Minister state whether or not any Minister has given a direction to the Irish Land Commission not to entertain any application from those people and, further, can the Minister say whether or not the applications have generally been successful?

I know a parish where men have got seven acres. They have expanded and now they are in a very good position. Some people here seem to think that this motion was put down in the hope that the tenant of every labourer's cottage would get a farm. Perhaps I worded the motion wrongly but I believe the Land Commission should give consideration to the claims of cottage-holders. There are cottages vested all over the country and, as was the practice up to a while ago, the tenants should get a holding or allotment of five or six acres.

I formally second the motion. I should like to know if the mover of the motion is prepared to accept Senator Cogan's amendment before I attempt to speak on it. If I were sponsoring this motion I would not allow anybody to put any tag on to it. Senator Cogan has his democratic rights and is at liberty to put down a motion dealing with whatever particular class of people he may have in mind.

Senator Tierney's motion deals with a particular class of people and I think it should be discussed from that angle only and on its merits. Personally, I thought the motion was a bit sweeping in its wording and I was very reserved in my support for it until I heard the case made by Senator Tierney. I now feel there is something good in it.

I come from one of the worst planted districts in the State where, in every townland, you had one of those big farms of from 500 to 1,000 acres. Such farms usually gave employment to 15, 20 or 30 farmhands. As time went on, those farms became unworkable and fell into decay, with the result that all the persons who worked on them have to seek work on the roads or on public works of some kind. There is a case to be made for those people. They are living in the particular townland and I feel they should be eligible for a small portion of such estates—on their merits, of course. These men have lost their employment. There is not much point in giving a large tract of land to people who have not the ways and means of working it but a few acres of land would enable an unemployed worker to keep a cow which would supply milk for the family and provide sufficient farmyard manure to enable him to till the plot and grow sufficient potatoes and vegetables. I support the motion but not with the amendment.

I move the following amendment:—

After "cottage holders" to add the following:—

"and other deserving applicants who possess a practical knowledge and experience of farming."

I deliberately put down this amendment to Senator Tierney's motion with a view to extending the scope of the motion and of getting as near as possible to the root of this problem. Senator Tierney's motion is limited in its scope but, at the same time, it has far-reaching implications, because, in the past, the Land Commission provided small parcels of land to cottage tenants by reason of the fact that they were cottage tenants adjoining the divided estate.

No doubt the Minister will explain the position, but I have a feeling that the Land Commission discontinued that policy because they felt that by giving parcels of land of six or seven acres to cottage tenants, they were creating new uneconomic holdings and, because the fundamental policy of the Land Commission has primarily always been the relief of congestion, possibly they felt that by giving parcels of land to cottage tenants they would be creating new congests.

Senator Tierney's motion goes a good bit further in touching the fundamentals of land settlement policy than he had, perhaps, intended or envisaged. My amendment seeks to widen the scope of the motion still further. If anyone reads the motion with my addendum he will find that it reads as follows: "That Seanad Eireann is of opinion that in the future division of land the Land Commission should take into consideration the claims of cottage holders and other deserving applicants who possess a practical knowledge and experience of farming." It will be seen that the intention is to bring in other deserving applicants and, at the same time, to qualify those applications by suggesting that they should be——

On a point of order. Have I any say in regard to the acceptance or otherwise of Senator Cogan's amendment?

The amendment is before the House and it is a matter for the House. Senator Cogan is proposing it.

Is the amendment before the House?

The amendment is now being moved.

I thought I would have some say in the matter of the acceptance or rejection of the amendment. After all, it is my motion. I may be wrong——

Senator Cogan.

I have sufficient confidence in the Standing Orders to accept that when the amendment is accepted by the Chair it is in order. I was saying that my addendum not only enlarges the number of persons who may qualify to obtain land but it also places a kind of restriction on the type of person who may be selected inasmuch as it suggests some kind of standard of efficiency for the applicants. In other words, while I suggest that such persons as the second or third sons of farmers, or such persons as agricultural labourers not actually cottage tenants, might qualify for an allocation of land, they could only do so if they proved their efficiency and good knowledge of agriculture.

What I am trying to convey is that the first consideration in regard to the selection of applicants shall be the ability of the applicant to manage land efficiently. That opens up the whole question of land policy in this State. Heretofore, in the allocation of land, primary consideration was given to employees on estates. Under recent legislation they can be dealt with either by compensation or by giving them holdings. But they have a definite claim.

Next comes the huge body of applicants under the heading of congests. The word "congest" has been interpreted as meaning a person occupying what is described as an uneconomic holding or a holding below a certain poor law valuation. So far as I know, at the present time there is no test in regard to the qualifications of the applicant. An old woman or an old man with no dependents, with nobody else residing on the holding with him or her, may qualify to secure a parcel of land from the Land Commission if he or she can prove that the existing holding is uneconomic. It is now questionable whether that policy has produced good results. It is time that the whole question should be reconsidered and that the whole distribution of population in rural Ireland should be considered. Over the past 30 years the number of persons engaged in agriculture has fallen by 147,000. In the main, that reduction of population has occurred amongst the smaller farmers.

This question of the depopulation of rural Ireland has caused very great concern to everybody who has tried to think seriously about the economic future of the State. Mass emigration and mass unemployment are the problems which face this community at the present time. They are problems very difficult of solution. At the same time we had a low average output in agriculture. Is it not time that the State, through this institution known as the Land Commission, if it is capable of being so reformed, should undertake to ensure that young men of real ability and energy are planted upon the land? That cannot be done unless we ensure that the landless man, the farmer's son who is qualified by reason of his efficiency and ability, should rank in a very high place for allocation of land.

It is perhaps necessary to point out in passing that there is scope for immense development and improvement in the utilisation of land. We ask ourselves how can that improvement be brought about unless we are prepared to give an opportunity to young men who have acquired the necessary technical knowledge and who have shown ability to become owners and managers of their own small holdings. His Lordship the Bishop of Cork stressed this matter when writing his report on the Commission on Emigration. He pointed out the manner in which the land of this country is held. He pointed out that, while this State is often described as a nation of smallholders, out of 11,500,000 acres of agricultural land, 3,700,000 are held by large land owners. That does not seem to indicate an equitable distribution of land. His Lordship the Bishop of Cork suggests very definitely the creation of a large number of small holdings. He also suggested that the main qualification for securing an allotment of land should be the ability of the applicant.

It may be necessary to show how much improvement can be brought about in the output of agriculture. Let us give a short glance at the figures produced by the national farm survey last year. They showed that, out of the 1,834 farms that were costed, 34 produced a gross output of £50 or over per acre.

Now, 47 produced a gross output of between £40 and £50. On the other side of the picture, 57 farms produced less than £6 per acre while 145 produced between £6 and £9 per acre gross output.

What is the Senator trying to convey in his statement? He is not giving the size of the farms and, therefore, his statement has no relation to the amendment at all.

These figures prove that the output of the majority of the farms costed is abnormally low. It also proves that some of the costed farms had a very high output because £50 per acre is a high output. That, then, proves that if men of high ability are given the opportunity they can produce from the land an output of £50 per acre. How important that is will be appreciated when we realise that at the moment the average gross output of the 12,000,000 acres is £15 per acre.

There is a wide margin of difference between £50 and £15. Those who produced an output of £50 per acre were only a small proportion of the total 1,800 costed but they showed clearly that it is possible under certain circumstances to achieve that high output. If we could achieve anything approaching that, or even double the £15 per acre, which is our present average output, that would add enormously to the wealth of the country. It would be worth while reconsidering the policy of land allocation with a view to achieving that object. Such a step would ultimately have the effect of changing the whole economic position of the country.

At the moment the position has become bedevilled by the long-established Land Commission policy. Much of what is wrong is not the fault of the officials. It is the fault of the system. Seemingly only a very limited amount of land can be acquired under the present system and only a special class can be considered for the allocation of land. No reward can be offered for merit. That is the important point suggested in this amendment and I think I am not alone in making this suggestion. The Taoiseach dwelt on this matter in a recent statement. He recognises that something will have to be done to help the small farmer and put him in a position wherein he will have an opportunity of proving his ability to manage land.

As reported, and reported pretty fully in theIrish Press of January 13th, he said he thought that increased attention should be paid to the problem of providing farms for young credit-worthy farmers on a rented, or other, basis. He said that the Report of the Commission on Emigration had recommended that this matter should be investigated. He urged that perhaps the best hope of solution might be found along the lines of the creation of a company whose function would be to purchase land for letting on a business basis, somewhat in the way that some of the big property-holding companies in the City of Dublin had purchased land for development and for building projects. He made it clear that his mind is working towards some solution of this problem.

He apparently recognises now that the policy pursued by the Land Commission down through the years is not getting us any further and that a more progressive policy must be implemented. If my amendment is accepted it will be a recommendation to the Government to review the whole system of land settlement in order to see how far progress has been made towards settling more people on the land. Since the establishment of this State the population on the land has decreased by 147,000. The Minister may say that there is a congestion problem, particularly in certain areas, that there is only a limited pool of land available and, since the problem of congestion is a very serious one, we must retain all the land available for the relief of congestion and no other applicants, not even the cottage tenants or the sons of farmers, shall have any claim to land. That is the policy at the moment.

I want to show that it is a policy that is defeating its own ends. Land is given to an applicant not because he is highly efficient but because he has a certain poor law valuation. I have seen land given to old, single women. An aged, single woman, no matter how well-meaning she may be, cannot work a substantial farm efficiently. I have known many holdings created by the Land Commission at very considerable expense not being any more efficiently worked than adjoining holdings and in some cases they have not been very successful.

I should like to follow that point a little further. If you make congests the No. 1 priority, you may find that in some areas where there is a large amount of land capable of being acquired and divided there is very little congestion and that means bringing into the particular area, whether it is Kildare, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Meath, or elsewhere, people from a distant part of the country who have to be uprooted from their own surroundings and brought into a new and strange and, in some cases, perhaps, a somewhat hostile area. To a certain extent, that policy curbs and defeats land acquisition. It creates hostility to acquisition generally in the county in which the land is available and it makes the position of the Land Commission more difficult.

If the scope and the power of the Land Commission were widened so as to enable them to accept applicants who are not congests in the district where land is divided, there would be a greater measure of goodwill and support for land division in that particular area. In that way, perhaps, a greater area of land could be acquired and, perhaps, you would have sufficient land to provide for the local landless men and, in addition, for congests from the western counties. That is a consideration which should influence the land resettlement policy.

There is another aspect of this question. At present there is no reward or regard for merit. If a young man has acquired a very good knowledge of progressive farming and puts that into practice on his father's farm, if he happens to be a second or third son who cannot hope to succeed to that holding, all his knowledge goes for nothing and you will find him packing his suitcase and heading for Holyhead, Canada or the United States, as many are doing to-day. He will very quickly despair of being able to contribute his share to the development of agriculture in his own country. He will get out and the nation will lose one of its best and most useful young citizens. That problem is universally recognised. Yet the Land Commission are bogged down in a rut by a long continued policy in regard to this matter from which they appear to be incapable of escaping.

In my opinion, Senator Tierney's motion with the addendum which I have tabled to it, offers the only possible solution of the problem. I should like to see every cottage tenant who requires land and who is in a position to work land, who, as Senator Tierney suggests, owns a cow or two, getting a small portion of land. I should be glad to see the son of the small farmer—not of the large farmer, because the large farmer might be able to provide for a second or third son— being allocated land. I would suggest that those people would get land only if they proved to a competent authority that they were capable of making good use of that land. The position at the present time, of course, is that the Land Commission has produced a kind of philosophy of despair. The enterprising men, whether they are agricultural workers or farmers young sons, can see no prospect of getting land. The uneconomic holder knows that he may get land if it is available. He will not get it by reason of the efficiency with which he is working his small holding. He will get it simply because he falls into a certain classification, because his valuation is below a certain figure and because he lives within a statute mile of the estate that is being divided.

There is no incentive to enterprise, no incentive to progress. There is, if you like, a deterrent. A man who has a small holding is encouraged by the Land Commission to be discontented, to ask, as is so frequently asked, "what is the use of five or six acres of land? A man cannot do anything with five, six, 15 or 20 acres. The holding is too small. It is no use." He just stands around and waits. Perhaps he goes to work outside his holding, leaves his holding undeveloped and hopes that at some time the Land Commission will come along and relieve "congestion" in his case.

Would it not be far better to have a system whereby the enterprising, able and energetic agricultural labourer, to whom Senator Tierney has referred, would be given a small parcel of land and whereby farmers' landless sons were given a small parcel of land? If the landless people proved, by the manner in which they worked that land, that they were efficient and progressive they would, perhaps, be given a larger holding at a later stage. In other words there would be a system in which promotion would be available to the agricultural worker and the small farmer's landless sons right up to a time when they might hold a substantial holding.

That system operates to a considerable extent in some parts of Britain because there you have resident landlords who have an interest in their own country and who, if they notice an enterprising young boy, may rent to him a small holding. If he makes good, they may give him a still larger holding. That system makes for efficiency in agriculture. There is nothing of that kind here and it is time that the matter was reconsidered. It may be that the Land Commission, as at present constitued, have not the machinery to undertake such an examination. They may not have the personnel to study the question in that way. They may not have the personnel to evaluate the merits of applicants on the basis that I have suggested but that difficulty can be and ought to be surmounted.

I have pointed out that His Lordship the Bishop of Cork shares the views that I have expressed on this motion. I have pointed out that the Taoiseach shares them to a considerable extent. I would say that they are also shared by the organisation known as the United Trade Union Organisations. That body issued a recent report entitled "Planning for Full Employment". On page 16 of the report they say that social factors which have contributed towards retarding production on the land include the lack of facilities for progressive young farmers to acquire land. I think members of the Labour Party in particular will be impressed by that fact because it is the considered opinion of that trade union organisation that progressive young farmers should be given an opportunity to acquire land. They say that opportunity does not exist at the present time.

I think some consideration should be given to these factors. The Minister may say that the pool of land is very limited; he may say we have not got the land in sufficient quantities to relieve congestion among deserving applicants. There again the whole question requires further remodelling. In the case of very large holdings such as those to which Senator McCrea referred there is a need for tightening up in some way the powers of the Land Commission. I am a farmer; all belonging to me for five generations back have been farmers, so it can be said that I have a fairly strong farming tradition. I consider there are limits to which a person can go in regard to the ownership of land. It is not in the interest of a small agricultural nation such as this that one man should own 1,000 or 2,000 acres of land. The country is too small, even if such a man is giving a fair amount of employment.

I do not think that is an issue in this amendment.

It arises only in this way, that the Minister would probably make the case that it is impossible——

Is the Senator entitled to foretell what the Minister may say and then to speak on what he supposes the Minister will say?

I think I can intelligently anticipate what the Minister may say on this point. It is desirable, if you are to add to the number of persons who may be qualified to secure land, to have some provision such as this motion, with the proposed amendment, would give. It is also desirable to seek to add to the area of land that will be at the disposal of the Land Commission. The Minister and myself were, I think, instrumental some years ago in bringing in a provision under which any person whose land is acquired——

The Senator is not at liberty to go into the whole story of Land Commission policy on this amendment.

At least it can be said that people from whom land is to be acquired have to be compensated. I think there are opportunities for the acquisition of land which are at the moment being passed over.

The question of the acquisition of land does not arise on the motion or on the amendment.

Except in this way——

I rule it does not arise at all.

I accept your ruling without hesitation. This motion provides that where land is acquired in any area a new body of applicants can be brought in and qualified to secure holdings——

And that is all it does provide.

Those are deserving cottage tenants. If my amendment is accepted it will bring in deserving landless men. I am satisfied the goodwill that will be created through the bringing in of those deserving local applicants will ensure that a larger pool of land will be available to the Minister. I want to point out how essential that is, by reason of the facts which are, at the moment, evident in regard to land division.

I want again to point out that the Senator's amendment says: "other deserving applicants who possess a practical knowledge and experience of farming." I hope the Senator is aware of that. It is on that amendment the Senator is speaking. That is a narrow point and I will not permit a widening of the discussion.

That is exactly the point I am trying to make.

He is coming to the point.

A number of persons who would be qualified under this amendment have been ruled out under existing policy. I will cite the case of a farmer's son who takes anything between 30 and 50 acres of land a year under the 11 months system for tillage. He tills that land efficiently, pays a big price for it and is disqualified from getting a holding simply because he did not own land. I think it is a very narrow interpretation to say that that man does not own land. The only difference between him and the small holders in the district is that he is paying a much higher rent for his land than they were. The amendment I have put down would qualify that man for an allocation of land. There are many similar cases. If we are to accept the views expressed by the Taoiseach, if we are to accept the views expressed by the Bishop of Cork——

That is the third time that statement has been made. Is the Senator aware of that?

——I think we will have no hesitation whatever in accepting this amendment and in so widening the powers of the Land Commission in regard to the distribution of land that they can deal with the question efficiently. The Minister knows, and everybody else in the country knows, that the Land Commission has failed absolutely and completely. He knows the present system is expensive, cumbersome and wasteful.

That is not in order. The policy of the Land Commission is not under discussion on the amendment.

If the Minister would accept this amendment he would, I think, find that the whole problem would, to a great extent, be brought nearer to solution. If, on the other hand, he thinks the Land Commission should follow along in the old rut in which they have been going, he will find eventually that some Taoiseach, whether it be the present Taoiseach, the next Taoiseach or somebody else, will sweep the Land Commission aside and introduce some more progressive method. I am asking the Minister and the Land Commission to stop fiddling with this problem. It is not a matter for jest or joke. It is a matter which concerns the very life and death of this nation. Anybody who knows anything or makes any study of this matter realises that this nation is dying, dying because there are too many old people owning too much land and there is no opportunity for the progressive and able young man to get a foothold on the land of this country. I would ask the Seanad to accept this amendment and give an opportunity to our enterprising young people to qualify as owners of land.

In the last few years there have been, thank goodness, very earnest efforts made by our young farmers to equip themselves in the management of land. Through their organisation, Macra na Feirme, many of them have improved themselves collectively and individually, made themselves more efficient, taken a more lively interest in their work and a greater pride in it. Are these people to be driven out of the country because the Minister and the Land Commission are tied to an antiquated system which they must know is inefficient and which they must know is doomed to complete failure? I ask the Seanad to adopt this amendment.

I second the amendment. I assure you that it is not my intention to detain the House in discussing the whole policy of the Land Commission. It seems to me that there is no conflict between the motion submitted by Senator Tierney and the amendment submitted by Senator Cogan. I am not quite sure what Senator McCrea has in mind when he tries to convey that in some way Senator Cogan has abused his privileges as a democrat in putting down the amendment to Senator Tierney's motion.

May I say, by way of explanation, that I stated explicitly that this motion by Senator Tierney dealt with a specific class of people, that I had no idea what Senator Cogan had in mind but I had some idea at the same time that he was going to review the whole position of land affairs in this country? This motion was dealing with a certain class of people, cottage rural workers only, and for that reason I seconded the motion.

As I say, Senator Cogan has exercised his right in putting down this amendment. You, Sir, have looked at the motion and at the amendment and you have considered that they are in order. I think every reasonable member of the Seanad will agree that your action in allowing the amendment to go down was a proper one.

I support the amendment and in supporting the amendment it is obvious that I must support the motion. The amendment does not seek to delete anything from the motion. It seeks merely to strengthen it. It asks that in any future division of land the Land Commission should take into consideration the claims of cottiers. I hope the Land Commission will have given some attention to the claims of cottiers in the past. I believe it will have done its best according to its lights in the past and if Senator Tierney thinks it might do more in the future I would be very glad to support his plea to the Minister and to the Land Commission that they should see how much more they can do for deserving, worthy and efficient cottiers. However, I would not be in favour of giving land to men simply because they are cottiers.

The amendment adds these few words to the motion, that applicants with a practical knowledge and experience of farming should be considered also. There are numbers of men who are not cottiers and who are not land holders but who have a flair for farming. They are not in the rural parts; they are not on land, but they would like to get back to the land. Where there are such I would like to see machinery available under which they might make application.

That brings me to the only point I want to make in regard to the whole matter that, particularly in the case of younger applicants for land, I would very much like to see a decided preference given to those who have attended satisfactorily full courses in the vocational and technical schools. I would further stipulate that such courses should have included two years' attendance at the rural science courses. I cannot see any reasonable Senator finding fault with the motion and I cannot see any reasonable Senator finding fault with the amendment. I do not think there was any need for long speeches on the matter. The issue was a simple one. We all would like to see deserving, competent cottiers getting their chance of land if land is available, and we would like to see that, generally speaking, where young men are available who can substantiate their claim to efficiency, they too will get land.

There is just one question I would like to ask and I do not think it is irrelevant though it may be one for which the Minister would not be prepared. Could the Minister give any estimate of the amount of land that is available for the provision of new holdings and for the enlargement of the relatively smaller ones? The only reason I have for asking that question is that many of us are thinking about this problem of the land and wondering to what extent new holding may be created and at the same time existing uneconomic holdings may be brought up to a reasonable level. If the Minister feels that is too big a question, if he is not ready for it, I am willing to wait for the answer on another occasion.

I rise to support the motion. I should like to refer, at the outset, to what was said by the previous speaker, that there was no conflict between the motion and the amendment. To my mind, there is a very definite conflict in principle because the motion says: "That Seanad Éireann is of opinion that in any future division of land the Land Commission should take into consideration the claims of cottage holders." The amendment proposes to add "and other deserving applicants who possess a practical knowledge and experience of farming".

Any of us who has a knowledge of rural Ireland will recognise that a cottage holder is a person who has no land at all. Every cottage holder is a landless man but it is not at all necessary that the people referred to in the amendment should be landless men. If Senator Cogan had worded his amendment to read "and other deserving applicants who possess a practical knowledge and experience of farming and are landless men", then we might have some reason for supporting his amendment and allowing it to fall in with the original proposition. The previous speaker also said that Senator Cogan was exercising his democratic right in moving this amendment. Of course he was, but I am sure that Senator Cogan is too long in public life to expect that Senator Tierney, Senator McCrea, I and others of us, whose main concern is with people without property, might be led into the trap of supporting him in an indirect way, to assist people who have already got property to acquire more. It is obvious that this amendment was added to widen the motion to enable farmers' sons to acquire land.

I agree that in this matter of land we are dealing with Ireland's principal raw material and it is a question which we must all approach with the utmost seriousness. It is not a matter of class or of voting or of anything less than national survival that is entailed when we deal with Land Commission policy because the Land Commission is the largest concern dealing with the re-allocation, and sometimes the allocation, of what is the raw material on which the nation depends for its present standard of living and its survival. I agree that Senator Cogan could have a certain amount of merit in his amendment but the motion which I support is one that recognises that in this large and respectable section of the community in rural Ireland, the men of no property, as Wolfe Tone described them, we have experts in farming. They are young boys who grew up in cottages owned by farmers, boys of more than average intelligence who learned farming in a practical way and who have progressive ideas. These boys, who are the sons of farm labourers whose fathers may have lived in houses that have fallen into disrepair and who are at present living in cottages, have no chance whatever in this world of ever acquiring a farm.

In to-day'sIrish Times, in the very excellent farming supplement which that newspaper runs once a week, there is a letter from such a man in which he points out that he earns so much a week and that the total goes to his wife to keep house and feed his family. The amount which he needs for tobacco and some little relaxation is got by overtime and handyman jobs. On the amount which he can leave by each week, after living frugally, if he is ever to acquire a farm in this country, he would need to save continually and to live for 400 years. That is the type of person to which the motion refers. This farm labourer, a young man with plenty of ability to farm, can never get any land under the present system of land division. It does not matter how good he is, if he does not already own land he cannot get any. I have some experience of rural Ireland and of land division and I have seen this question of land division going haywire as others have also seen it.

I think it is necessary to have a new approach to the problem. I agree with Senator Cogan and with the United Trade Union Organisation that the question of rented farms should be examined and that the State should come back into the position of being landlord in some instances. In the first instance, I believe that when the State acquires a fairly large parcel of land, as it sometimes does, that land could be run as a pilot farm. It is generally recognised that the best agricultural knowledge which this country possesses is in the Department of Agriculture and we should use it. We could have such large farms run on a co-operative basis with the State as landlord. I cannot see anything wrong with that. I read in farming journals, and other journals not connected with farming, how the co-operative system in Denmark has made that country the prosperous place it is and I read the exhortations to farmers here to become co-operative. The only way in which one can get farmers to become co-operative is to point out to them that certain farmers, by co-operating in production and selling, have made money where their neighbours have not. Senator Tierney desires to make non-owners owners and at the same time not fall back into the mistake that we may have been making of creating a lot of farms that are too small to be economic units, but to acquire large tracts of land which the State will run as pilot co-operative concerns. I agree with Senator Cogan that this is something with which we should not play about; it is something we have to consider with the utmost seriousness. I am sure the Minister will agree that the question of land and agricultural production are very much allied. We have the lowest agricultural output practically in any country in Europe.

I do not think the Senator should pursue that line because I cannot see where it will end.

If we adopt Senator Tierney's motion and the cottage holders become co-operative, our agricultural output, which at the moment is one of the lowest in Europe will be increased. I have no fault to find with the job which the Land Commission has done because I recognise that one of the main jobs which confronted it, in the first instance, was to re-vest land in the people. That work has been practically completed. The next problem was to end congestion. Progress has also been made in that direction, but now the Land Commission, I think, might become rather more progressive and try something else. I recommend to the Minister that he would accept the motion as proposed by Senator Tierney and consider implementing it in the way I suggest.

In supporting the motion I am glad that the last speaker paid a deserved tribute to the Land Commission because, as I have stated before, notwithstanding all the criticism levelled at that body, I have always found that when the officials were left alone they did an excellent job in the matter of land division and allocation. While I know, as other speakers do, that there is not sufficient land in this country to raise the level of holdings that have not economic valuations, I believe that in the present circumstances the Minister might do something on the lines set out in Senator Tierney's motion. I know that in a few cases where land was reallocated after the tenants were migrated to the Midlands their lands were divided amongst certain people, some of them aged bachelors and spinsters who had passed the age when they were physically fit to work these farms in the manner that they should be worked.

I hold that in cases where the Land Commission finds it difficult to find suitable applicants for land in areas vacated by tenants migrated to the Midlands or elsewhere, they might look to the cottage holders many of whom were brought up on the land and left their homes in order to make it possible for their elder brothers or sisters to get married and have homes and families of their own. It would be worth a trial. An effort might be made to bring in cottage holders who had practical knowledge and experience of farming.

So far as the amendment is concerned, I would be inclined to agree if the applicants were married. Certainly unmarried applicants should not be considered while you have a number of cottage holders who have practical experience in agriculture and who have not an opportunity of putting that practical experience into effect. At the same time, I know cases where cottage holders got as large an area as an acre of land which they did not farm as they should, but I believe that if the Minister or the Department considered giving effect to the motion put forward by Senator Tierney they would be very careful as to the class of cottage holder they would select to give him an opportunity of working a small allotment of land in an approved manner.

For that reason I think the matter could be safely left to the discretion of the Land Commission. Let me again stress the point that rather than give extra land to people who have passed the age when they could work it effectively we should consider the advisability of bringing in cottage holders or even migrating a cottage holder into a small allotment of land and give him an opportunity of working it in the approved manner.

I would support Senator Tierney's motion, too, but it would be very hard to implement it. As a matter of fact, at the present time I am aware that we have cottage holders who have benefited by land division already. I know several cottiers who have got small additions to their holdings. I cannot see how you can migrate cottiers to an estate that is being divided, causing them to leave as a result the cottage built by the local authorities. Cottages, as we are all aware, are now costing well over £1,000. I do not think it would be to their benefit to take them from the cottages that have been built for them by the local authorities and transfer them to an estate that is being divided.

I should like to know from the Minister, when he is replying, whether it is the policy at the present time for the Land Commission to deny a cottier a portion of land that is being divided. I do not believe it is. The only way in which a cottier could benefit really would be if he lived on, or in the immediate vicinity of, an estate that is being divided. A man who has lived on an estate which is being divided may not perhaps be able to get work in that vicinity. He should get a parcel of land. I am in full support of that.

As regards Senator Cogan's amendment, I think, although he spoke for a very long period, he neglected to speak about the one section about whom he should speak having regard to the fact that he is a farmer himself and belongs to a long generation of people who have lived on the land. I think there is one very deserving type of applicant who cannot be left out and that is the son of a farmer who has grown up on the land, who has learned his trade down through the years. When it comes to the time when his eldest brother is handed over the farm he has to move out.

Here we have a man who has given the best years of his life learning his trade, if you like. He is not paid. He is given a gratuity when he goes out, perhaps £500, £600 or £700. He is the type of person who, if he got a farm, would be well able to work it. He would have the knowledge and the skill required and he would have the capital to put into it. I shall be very brief and ask the Minister if he could consider giving this type of applicant a portion of land in the future.

I rise to say a few words in support of the motion. The amendment seems to me to cut entirely across the motion since it asks for the addition of the following: "and other deserving applicants who possess a knowledge and experience of farming". So far as I am aware, that is the only type of man that the Land Commission will consider to-day—the man with practical experience.

Senator Cogan has given us his usual long review of farming. Although I am practically a new member, I have heard the tale quite a few times, as most of us have; still I always like to hear it again. Nor can I see how Senator Cogan's farming background has any connection with the motion in regard to rural cottages. The motion of Senator Tierney seems to me to be a motion which would entail the taking up of a very small portion of land, and I do not see why the motion should not have been allowed to stand on its merits.

We have had a review from Senator Cogan of the omissions and commissions of the Land Commission over the past couple of years and all this is to be put on the head of the present Minister for Lands. I have no association of any kind with the Party to which the present Minister for Lands belongs, but, for what it is worth, my opinion is that the Minister is doing his job as well as any Minister for Lands we have had in recent years. There is one thing for which I will give him great credit—it is something which will stand to his memory long after he is gone. The acquisition of land over the past 30 years was a nightmare for all farmers. They had no idea of the price they were to get for their land when it was acquired. The present Minister, in the previous Administration, introduced a Bill under which land would be acquired at market value. Since that Bill was introduced, there is a general feeling amongst land holders that if their lands are acquired they will get fair value.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

That matter is not a subject for discussion under the motion or the amendment.

I quite agree and I accept the decision, but it is no further remote than Senator Cogan has rambled in his remarks.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Senator will not be allowed to ramble in the direction in which he desires to ramble.

I accept that decision. Senator Bergin has touched on the point that there are lands—and Senator Cogan also has mentioned the matter and I agree with him—that the Land Commission have acquired, big areas of land, which is being let annually. I think that is an unfair position. One does not require to take my word or anyone's word; one can open the paper to-morrow and find 200 or 300 acres of land in Kildare or Meath——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Land acquisition policy in general is not involved in either the motion or the amendment.

That being so, if I am to be restricted in what I have to say, I will content myself with stating that I wholeheartedly support the motion and I will resume my seat.

I rise only to support the motion, so far as it concerns deserving cases of cottage holders, for a simple reason. I am sure there are many people who know cottages where there is an acre of land attached which in many cases has been neglected and has not been tilled or worked. I am not placing the blame. There may be very valid reasons for that. The owner of the cottage may be old or ill or there may be other causes. When he dies, there are children left; his wife may be left with a young family. It would be of very great assistance to a young man raising a family to have the grass of a cow. I could not support the idea that it would be given in general, for the reason I have already given, and also because of the danger that it might create a precedent, that it might mean making a number of uneconomic holdings and probably at some future time it would be said that it intensified emigration and that it made migration and the enlargement of holdings most difficult. Therefore, I think that portions, where they are available, should be given to the really deserving type of person and I would wholeheartedly agree with that.

Senator O'Sullivan seemed to think it was the intention of the mover of the motion, Senator Tierney, to ask the Seanad to agree to, or recommend, that cottage holders be removed to estates or get holdings of land. I do not think that is what was in his mind. At least, I could not support that. However, I would definitely support the giving, where it is available, of at least the grass of a cow and sufficient land to enable him to till and cultivate for the upkeep of his family.

With regard to the amendment, we have the cases of sons of farmers and labourers and there is another class, herds who were herding estates. The sons of those herds usually had a very good knowledge of practical farming, the dairying business and things like that. If land were available, certainly they should be considered.

Further than recommend, we cannot do anything, because it involves the big question of land division. That is a matter of Land Commission policy and until they decide on that, we cannot do more than recommend.

I should like to support the motion and I am rather anxiously waiting to hear the reply of the Minister to the debate, because I am not very familiar as to what the procedure was in the allocation of lands heretofore. I am aware there are many cottage holders who perhaps do not cultivate their acre of land as they should and in many cases perhaps half an acre would be quite sufficient. Where you have an application from a cottage holder for additional land, I am satisfied he would be prepared to work that land. On the other hand, there is a good deal to be said for the amendment, in the more deserving cases. The cottage tenant who has been described here to-night as a landless person, if he has not got consideration, should get consideration. If you have this type of person, who has been the agricultural labourer of the country and the son of the agricultural labourer, seeking further lands, it would certainly tend to improve production and lend itself very considerably to a more settled economy in the country. That is something which is needed very much, perhaps now more than ever. I will conclude with these few remarks, as I do not see any reason for a lengthy speech. I should like to give my support to the motion.

This motion by Senator Tierney is one with which I am in complete agreement. I cannot say the same for Senator Cogan's amendment. Senator Tierney's motion has evoked around the House, amongst many Senators, a completely erroneous impression, that the Land Commission form a policy of their own, or that the Minister has changed policy from time to time. That is not so.

Before I could adequately reply to the motion, I think it would be necessary to state exactly the statute law under which the Land Commission works. This will bear repeating although I am sure all the Senators are aware of it. No orders by any Minister can override statute law; the law the Oireachtas makes must run and the Minister cannot by any direction to civil servants or to the commissioners or to anybody else override it. In the matter of the allotment of land the persons to whom the Land Commission can give land are set out in sub-section (1) of Section 31 of the 1923 Act and that has never been altered since, although many Governments and many Ministers have since come and gone. The classes of persons specified therein have never been altered. Perhaps it is no harm to remind the Seanad of the matter.

Sub-section (1) of Section 31 states:

"Advances may be made to the following persons for the purchase by them from the Land Commission of parcels of land:—

(a) a person being the tenant or proprietor of a holding which in the opinion of the Land Commission is not an economic holding."

That places the congest in top priority. The 1923 Act thus gives top priority to the person who has an uneconomic holding and that has never been altered since.

The next class mentioned is—

"(b) a person who has entered into an agreement with the Land Commission for the exchange of his holding."

That is the migrant. The third class of person is—

"(c) a person who within 25 years before the passing of the Irish Land Act, 1903, was the tenant of a holding to which the Land Purchase Acts apply, and who was evicted from that holding in consequence of proceedings taken by or on behalf of his landlord, or in case such person is dead, a person nominated by the Land Commission as his personal representative."

These are evicted tenants who were first catered for under the 1907 Act. The fourth class is—

"(d) a person being a labourer who by reason of the sale of any lands under the provisions of the Land Purchase Acts has been deprived of his employment on the said lands."

That means what has become known generally as a displaced employee, the person who has lost his employment on a farm or estate by virtue of the land being taken over by the commission.

For how long should he have lost his employment before he would qualify under that?

What is meant here is —I further elaborated on that in the 1950 Act—a person who has lost his employment on the estate by virtue of the acquisition or resumption of the estate, in other words a man who has lost his employment because the Land Commission stepped in and took over the estate.

The next class is—

"(f) any other person or body to whom in the opinion of the Land Commission an advance ought to be made."

That leaves all the persons other than those I have mentioned to the very last category. But I would draw particular attention to sub-section (2) of the same Act which says—

"The Land Commission in deciding as to the suitability of applicants under this section shall be satisfied as to their competence to work the land, and their intention to do so and not to sell, let or assign it."

Senator Cogan and many other Senators have spoken about the giving of land indiscriminately but the Land Commission is tied by the 1923 Act and those two sub-sections have never been repealed or amended. The Commission is tied down first as to the class of people to whom they may allot land and in the selection of these persons there is a further fine comb through which the allottees must be put under sub-section (2) of Section 31. That obliges the Land Commission to be satisfied as to the competence of the allottees to work the land and as to their intention to do so and not to sell, let or assign it.

That is very clear and no policy direction by a Minister can ever override that. No Minister has ever tried to do it because I presume if any Minister had felt these sub-sections were either too harsh or inadequate to meet the movement of the times such a Minister would have sought to have these sections amended. No Minister has so sought although many Land Acts have gone through both Houses of the Oireachtas since the 1923 Act.

I am accepting the motion for this reason—I would be misleading the House if I were to say that it was for any other reason—that it is already our policy to consider labourers in cottages for allotments but the consideration of the cottier must be fine combed by sub-section (2) of Section 31 which I have just quoted under which the Land Commission has to satisfy itself as to the competence and suitability of the cottiers and their intention to work the land, to live on it and not to sell, let or assign it.

If I may be pardoned for going into the history of this during the years from about 1933 or 1934 up to 1939, quite a number of allotments were given to cottiers and the history of that period does not make nice reading for the reason that in 1946 a special Act had to be passed by the Oireachtas to recover these allotments from many of the cottiers and others who got allotments. There was a frantic rush by them to become vested and then to become the absolute owners so that they could sell the land. The Minister of the day had to bring in an Act to recover these allotments and that in itself proved the wisdom of the provision in the Act which was more than 20 years old and brought home to the Minister and the Land Commission of that time the necessity of observing the letter and spirit of sub-section (2) of Section 31 to which I have already referred.

I would like, and I am sure every Senator and member of the Dáil would like, to be in the position in which we would have sufficient land to go around to satisfy everybody who asks for land when an estate is being divided. But let me say that in my opinion Senator Cogan's amendment completely upsets the letter and spirit of Senator Tierney's motion. Senator Tierney's motion is a very reasonable one. All he seeks is that in the future division of land the Land Commission should take into consideration the claims—he does not seek that they get land but that they get consideration. That is reasonable, but Senator Cogan's amendment is that all other deserving applicants, who possess practical knowledge and experience of farming, should be considered.

During the course of his remarks he told us he wanted to give land to congests, congests' sons, to cottiers and their sons, to small farmers and their sons, to landless men and to their sons. I think in the bigness of Senator Cogan's heart he simply made small potatoes of the boy and the nuts of long ago. I think, therefore, it is no harm to remind him that the jurisdiction of the Land Commission does not run beyond the Twenty-Six Counties. He must be under the impression that they could acquire some of the prairies of Texas and Arizona because I believe it would take the two States of Texas and Arizona to satisfy the claims Senator Cogan has made.

Now that it is all over I wonder did he have his tongue in his cheek when he was talking. The allotment of land is a very serious matter involving the placing of the maximum number of people in economic comfort on the land and we cannot do it by shouting from the house tops that every man that asks for land is entitled to it and will get it. The most we can do is to take the land of Ireland as we find it and as far as the law allows, and as far as common sense and reason allow, to settle as many people in comfortable farms or holdings as possible on that land. That is as far as we can go. Many people are asking for land, a great number of farmers' sons among them. In many instances farmers have not sufficient capital and because they cannot get credit in the banks or anywhere else their sons have to emigrate. That is a dead loss for the country and nobody deprecates it more than I do or more than every member of the Government does. We do not want to see that happen.

We do not want to see any young man going away whether or not he has a knowledge of the land. However, as Senator O'Sullivan said, a young man who, in the course of living and working with his father and brothers on the farm, has acquired a first class knowledge of land and of how to run a farm is a serious loss to the nation when he goes abroad because not alone is he a loss in himself but he carries a very valuable and highly technical knowledge away with him too. Nobody regrets that more than I do.

The Taoiseach, in his speech to Macra na Feirme on the 11th of this month, touched on that very point when he said:—

"I think that increased attention should be paid to the problem of the provision of farms for young credit-worthy farmers on a rented or other basis."

Senator Cogan misquoted the Taoiseach and said the Taoiseach said that the Land Commission had no further use—or words to that effect.

On a point of order. I did not misquote the Taoiseach. The Minister is mistaken. He may have misunderstood that something which I said after the quotation was part of the quotation. For the records, I want to point out that I quoted exactly what the Taoiseach was reported as saying in the Press. I did not add to or take anything from it.

What the Taoiseach did say was:—

"The primary purpose of the Land Commission is to complete land purchase and to relieve congestion. Land purchase and the vesting of the land in the tenant proprietors is well on its way to completion. For the relief of congestion there is still a very long road to travel."

In no part of his speech did he suggest that the Land Commission should solve the problem he had in mind. He said:—

"Perhaps the best hope of a solution might be found along the lines of the creation of a company whose function would be to purchase land for letting on a business basis— somewhat in the way that some of the big property companies in our cities have purchased land for development as building projects."

That was the Taoiseach's speech. In other words, he put it to a very responsible and highly creditable organisation of young farmers that perhaps something could be done towards establishing a credit company that would help to provide credit so that young farmers might purchase their farms and, therefore, would not emigrate. I am 100 per cent. in agreement with that and so is every member of the Government.

Much has been said in the course of this debate to the effect that agricultural production is low. It was even said this evening that that low production is to be connected, in some vague way, with the work of the Land Commission. Agricultural production does not come into this debate but I think I am entitled to reply briefly by saying that anybody with any powers of observation at all must know and acknowledge that agricultural production is increasing year by year.

The only yardstick by which we can measure agricultural output is the amount of exportable surplus. That is really no yardstick at all because it takes no account of the rise or fall in the standard of living of our people. Anybody who is 40 or 50 years of age and who looks back will remember, if he is a farmer, how his father ran the farm and all the difficulties which had to be contended with then. He must know that the average acre is producing at least twice as much to-day as it produced then. But the difference is that the exportable surplus has not increased because the standard of living of our own people has increased so much that the increased production is now being used by our own people— and more power to them.

Everybody knows that with the coming of drainage, of the land reclamation scheme, of the increased use of fertilisers and of the soil testing scheme whereby a farmer now knows the best fertiliser for his land in order to produce the best crops and with the improvement in the strains of seed and in stock brought about through the agency of the Department of Agriculture and, above all, with the almost complete mastery over and elimination of disease in live stock, agricultural production has increased out of all bounds compared with 20, 30 or 40 years ago.

I am proud to say that the work of the Land Commission has had a lot to do with increased production on the land. Were it not for the work of the Land Commission since its formation, I am afraid we would have a very sad story to tell in Ireland to-day. I propose to give the House some figures in relation to the way land was distributed down through the years. Under the 1923 Act, 1,105,513 acres of land have been allotted by the Land Commission to deserving holders. This does not include the C.D.B. estates. That is a vast job of work that has been done. The number of enlargements is very considerable. During that time 43,151 tenants got 517,338 acres as enlargements. Some 28,094 tenants got 588,175 acres in new holdings and allotments. That is a very creditable performance.

Unlike forestry, housing and many other works, the work of the Land Commission cannot be seen very well because it is just a change of title or ownership—taking the land from one person and handing it to two or three other persons. It does not produce as spectacular a picture as, for instance, when a whole mountain is afforested or a block of houses is erected in a city or a town. However, the figures I have just quoted will bring home to everybody the immense amount of work that has been done. Some 71,245 people have got either enlargements, allotments or new holdings. Over 70,000 families have had their lot improved in this State by the work of the Land Commission since 1923.

I come now to the cottage holders. Each year, we are giving land to cottage holders in compliance with the very definite statutory provisions laid down in the 1923 Act, which I have quoted. The Land Commission must obey the law laid down by the Oireachtas first and policy cannot deviate so as to come into conflict with the statute. The Land Commission works to the policy laid down by the Minister. They must work for the relief of congestion. Some Senators may say: "The Minister is trying to get out of the difficulty of allotting land to the cottage holders by throwing it over to the relief of congestion."

At the present time there are 9,000 rundale or intermixed holdings. Senator S.T. Ruane touched lightly on the problem of rundale and intermixed holdings. Some 14,000 unvested holdings need enlargement and improvement and, when I speak of "enlargement" it means adding some land to the holding, while "improvement" means perhaps a new dwelling-house or to improve out-offices or perhaps suitable drains or access roads to the houses that are being improved or rearranged. There are over 100,000 buildings in the State which have already been vested but which are considered below what we would describe as an economic standard. This is a huge problem. It is all due to historical facts—to the fierce upset that occurred when we had not the management of our own affairs.

Since we got our freedom in 1923, the Land Commission has done a very creditable job in establishing and stabilising in comfort over 70,000 families in this country. I am proud to say that only a negligible minimum of those who have been settled by the Land Commission have locked their doors and turned their backs on their holdings. I am positive that there would be 70,000 families fewer to-day on the land of this country were it not for the work of the Land Commission.

We will allot land to cottage holders but they must comply with Section 31, sub-section (2) of the 1923 Act. In other words, they must, in the opinion of the Land Commission, be people who would be competent to work the land and show signs of doing so. Therefore, when an estate is being divided the result on many occasions is that certain cottiers get land and certain others are cast over. All the inspector can do in a case like that is to go out and make as close a survey in each case as he possibly can. If he comes to the conclusion that cottier A is a good man for an allotment he recommends him to the commissioners. If he thinks cottier B is not suitable, he must, according to the Act I have quoted and according to the terms of his employment, tell the commissioners in his report that cottier B is not a suitable man for land. He dare not recommend him.

That is the position. It is not a case of ruthlessly brushing them aside as has been often suggested. In fairness, I must say that has not been suggested here this evening but it has been suggested in other places. Every single family living within a mile of an estate about to be divided is reported on. Their suitability must be fully reported on to the commissioners by the inspector. The commissioners have on paper before them a complete picture of the countryside before one perch is allotted.

It sometimes happens, however, that even deserving cottiers are not considered because there may be enough congests around the estate or in adjoining localities to take up all the land in that particular estate. The commissioners are only working to an Act made by these two Houses. The provisions are there in the 1923 Act if anyone would care to take time to study it. It is a very strict document, and they must work to that. It is not my doing nor is it the doing of the commissioners. It is what has been laid down by these two Houses.

Senator Ruane mentioned that in the case of rearrangement bachelors and spinsters should not get land. I quite agree that that should not be done if at all possible. Unfortunately, a rearrangement case is different from an ordinary allotment. Let us take a typical congested village of from 12 to 20 tenants' holdings comprised of little fields and gardens scattered all over the place. It is like dropping a bunch of torn papers out of your hand and having them scattered by the wind. When a certain number of tenants emigrate and it is necessary to rearrange the village in a moderate measure of comfort, the inspector has to go to the bachelors and spinsters, perhaps, and get their co-operation. He must "sweeten the pill" in some way. He must "buy" their co-operation by giving them some land. In order to benefit the majority we have, to use a strong word, to "buy" the bachelors and spinsters by giving them a bit of land to entice them to give up the portions that will make the rearrangements of the valley possible and improve the lot of young married people struggling there.

Senator Ó Buachalla asked for an estimate of land for new holdings or enlargements which may be left yet. I regret it is impossible to give figures for that. When the Land Commission goes out to acquire land, not until court proceedings are finished and all the evidence given, do they know whether they can acquire this land or not. The result is that any guess might be misleading. All I can say is this. When times are good farmers tend to work their land. Farmers who live on or near their land, work it properly, produce an adequate amount of food and give adequate employment are protected by the 1933 Act in their security of tenure. For that reason the Land Commission may not acquire such land.

As I said, if times are good for agriculture, farmers tend to work their land well. For that reason land which might have been available to the Land Commission a few years ago will not now be available. The whole crux of land acquisition is whether land is properly worked or not. Where a farmer works his land properly he is protected by the statute. Where he does not work it properly, where he lets it or where he may have sufficient land to carry on without it, the Land Commission may acquire.

If farmers work their land properly, give adequate employment and produce an adequate amount of food, the pool of land available to the Land Commission for acquisition necessarily dwindles. At other times it just happens that people become careless about land and the pool suddenly expands. It is impossible for any Minister to say definitely at any time what land is available. It is a very flexible commodity in that way. Those are the reasons which prevent me from giving the figures which the Senator asked for.

Many other points were touched on. In conclusion, I want to thank Senators generally for the way they have approached this question. While I admit it is very difficult to speak to a motion or amendment such as these without straying into the realm of general Land Commission work, nevertheless I think that the debate has been a useful one.

Senator Tierney was quite right in putting down this motion. However, Senator Cogan's amendment exploded the motion to such an extent that I am just beginning to wonder what was his idea in putting it down. He definitely tried to give the impression that he wanted to give land to everybody in the country. I would like to be that big-hearted also but unfortunately there are restrictions even on Ministers for Lands and I cannot get rid of them. I accept the motion but I regret that I cannot accept the amendment.

I just want to clear up a few points. I think many Senators misunderstood my first remarks. I agree with many of Senator Cogan's views in regard to land division but I resented his putting down an amendment because I felt that the mass of people his amendment would bring in would eliminate the very people my motion was put down to help.

Hear, hear!

Some Senators misunderstood my opening statements. I did not intend that the Land Commission should consider all cottage holders in an area when dividing land. What I had in mind was that any cottage holder able and willing to work land and living on or adjoining an estate should be given land. Those not willing to do so should not be considered. Senator Cogan pointed out that we would be creating a lot of small uneconomic holdings. I think in North Tipperary, before 1946, we did give small portions of land, such as five or six acres, to cottage tenants. They were allowed by the county council to vest cottages. I think those holdings are also vested. Now these will never be considered as economic holdings. They are little holdings on their own. But I feel they should be developed. The county council allows these smallholders to vest the cottage together with the five, six or seven acres which they hold from the Land Commission.

That is customary. The purpose is to consolidate the two.

Even though we may be creating small uneconomic holdings, that system should continue. Remember that system makes for the establishment of independent units— father, mother and three or four in family. Admittedly, they can never farm on a big scale. The Minister did not say anything about cowparks in his reply. Admittedly, they are not mentioned in the motion but they are vitally essential in certain circumstances. The Minister said that cottage tenants are considered, but they are the last to be considered.

Instances have occurred in which farmers have voluntarily handed their land over to the Land Commission. Possibly a farmer may find himself in poor financial circumstances and have to give up his land. The probability is that two or three years prior to that he may have had men working for him, men actually living on the land in cottages belonging to the farmer or in county council cottages. These men are not considered by the Irish Land Commission when such land is being divided. They may have spent all their lives working for the particular farmer, and their fathers before them, but they get no consideration when it comes to allotting the land.

In North Tipperary a good deal of land has been divided over the past seven years. Not one cottage holder has got so much as one perch of land. It may be that there were too many other applicants. Admittedly, no migrants were brought in. The land was given to local people. Smallholders were brought in from four or five miles away while 12 or 13 cottage holders living on those lands did not get so much as one acre. On one particular farm there were cottage holders. There were also small farmers in the area. The small farmers were catered for while the cottage holders got nothing.

There was an Act passed in 1946 for the purpose of taking back land and some land was taken back in North Tipperary in cases where farmers had failed to work the land to the satisfaction of the Land Commission. I am pleased with the way in which the Minister has met my motion. Will he tell us if it is his intention to provide cowparks for cottage holders where land is being divided?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Minister may not reply at this stage. Is Senator Cogan pressing his amendment?

As the purpose of the amendment was to introduce the principle that land should be awarded to landless people on the basis of merit and, as the Minister does not appear to be willing to accept that principle, I shall not press the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Motion put and agreed to.
The Seanad adjourned at 9.20 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 30th January, 1957.