I move:—"That the Dáil is of opinion that the establishment of Agricultural Credit Societies has failed to afford the necessary relief to farmers who lost their live stock through disease in 1924-25, and that other steps should be taken immediately to introduce a system of short-term loans at low interest so that the farms may be re-stocked."

This matter has been very fully debated already, and I have no desire to go over again all the facts and figures which have been given in this House. As far back as April last I tried to convince the Dáil and Ministers that a serious problem existed in the country and it still exists. On the 29th April I moved:—"That the Dáil is of opinion that immediate action should be taken by the Government, either by the granting of loans, or otherwise, to enable farmers to re-stock their lands, in cases where the owners have lost their stock through disease."

It might be said that the result of that motion was to bring about the decision by the Minister for Agriculture in conjunction with the Minister for Finance to set aside a sum of £100,000 for the establishment of credit societies throughout the areas where disease existed so as to enable farmers to do something towards re-stocking their land. That effort has not met with any success, and there is little possibility that that method then decided on will solve the problem; in fact, I am convinced it will not do so. I wonder if the Minister is able to tell us what the problem really amounts to. In May I put a question to the Minister. Part of it was as to whether any steps would be taken, either by employing the Gárda Síochána, or otherwise, to ascertain the magnitude of the problem and the loss sustained. The reply I received was in the affirmative. I hope the Minister will be able to tell the Dáil approximately what the losses are. Since I put that question the Gárda Síochána have collected the tillage returns. If they have done their duty they have gone to every farmstead in the Saorstát, and should have been able to get those returns. There would be little trouble involved in this. It merely amounted to an instruction from the Minister for Justice, in conjunction with the Minister for Lands and Agriculture, that these returns should be collected and made available. I hope the Minister will be able to produce them, and we will then be able to know what losses the farmers have really sustained in 1924-25. We will have some idea then as to the amount of money required to make it possible for the farmers to do something towards re-stocking their lands. I am one of those who hoped that the means adopted by the Minister for the solution of this problem would be successful to some extent at least. I was prepared to do what I could, and did do it, to get the scheme taken up by the farmers, but I have to admit that I saw no possibility whatever of their doing so.


Would the Deputy state what steps he took to get the farmers to take it up?

Yes. In my county we came to the conclusion that if the project was to get a fair chance of success it should be outside politics altogether. Towards that end I had discussions with Deputy O'Reilly, who is on the Government benches, and Deputy Cole. As a result of these discussions we attended the first meeting of the new County Council in Cavan. That Council is representative of every political party in the State. I think 31 out of the 32 members are either farmers or business men. We put before them the proposal to establish credit societies. Many of them were Government supporters, and one would have expected them to be very enthusiastic about it. I have to admit that our reception at that meeting could hardly be considered a favourable one.

We were permitted to put our case, but it was very evident from the point of view expressed by the men present that they had no hopes that our suggestions would be taken up, or if they were taken up, that they would meet with any measure of success. I was not satisfied with that, and I attended meeting after meeting in different parts of the county. I attended three times in succession in one district. The organiser responsible for the work in the district was present on the last occasion, but the result of all our efforts was failure to establish a credit society. If the Minister wants to put a question to me he can do so now.

Is the Deputy on a committee of a new society that is actually functioning?

Is he on the committee of any society?

No. Now, apart from what I did, the Minister informed me yesterday that on the 26th June last a decision was come to in this Dáil that these credit societies would be set up. We are practically now at the 26th November, and in that time, as regards all the areas affected, the Minister informs me that there are eight new credit societies established. Out of the sum of £100,000 which was voted in the Dáil, and which if not taken up will in the ordinary course go back into the Exchequer, a sum of £3,500 has been paid out to existing credit societies. I do not know whether the Minister sees in that the kernel of success. To me at least, it points out one thing clearly, and that is that the method the Minister adopted for the solution of this problem was not sound. It has not met with any measure of success, and is not going to, and it is because that has forced itself upon me that I put down this motion.

I do not know whether it is necessary to go over the ground again and argue that there is a problem there. I think that was accepted, because otherwise the House would not have come to the decision to pass this Vote at all. Apart from what the Minister has done himself or has not done, I went into one district and asked the farmers there to get me a correct return showing the losses that had been sustained in it. The district is in my constituency. It is a half parish, comprised of 22 townlands. I have the list here that I got, and I am prepared to pass it over to the Minister with the letter which accompanied it. In this district, which comprises 22 townlands, the return shows, taking one farmer with another, that there was in it a loss of 380 head of cattle. I see that the Minister smiles

Perhaps you can afford to. That total loss of 380 head of cattle is made up of 56 cows, 42 two-year-olds, and the remainder of yearlings. That is a district in which the farmers would be expected to meet their liabilities to the Minister's Department just as farmers in any other district are expected to meet their liabilities. In that district, at the present time, the Ministry is pressing the farmers to meet their obligations to the State. I am not going to go into Deputy Crowley's figures as regards Kerry, nor am I going to go into the figures given in this Dáil from Leitrim and sent up, I understand, through Cumann na nGaedheal, showing the conditions there. I do reaffirm that the problem still exists, and that it is not going to be solved by the method the Minister employs. The Minister has to face that fact, as has every other Deputy. I do not think that we can be satisfied to pursue a policy of drift. We have given this method five months—since June last—to see what the result would be. How far have they gone? The Ministry has paid over £3,500 in five months. The losses are now 12 months old. Very few of them have been replaced, and they cannot be replaced, if the Government do not consider that it is their responsibility to come to the assistance of the farmers in some way or other.

Now the Minister will ask what else is to be done. When the debate on this question took place in the Dáil in June last, I stated that I was prepared to do everything I could to help. I also pointed out to the Minister that I felt that his method was not going to get the country out of the difficulty. I felt it my duty to issue that warning, and I regret to have to say now that what I prophesied then has turned out to be true. That is no satisfaction to us. It would be much better if we had been able to get these societies brought into existence—to get them functioning and to get enough money through them to enable farmers to re-stock their lands and carry on. We have not succeeded. What is the alternative and what can be done? In these days, when some members of the Government Party and a great many outside this Dáil altogether seem very keen in trying to offer a solution for the difficulties the agriculturist has to meet: in tendering advice and suggesting new agricultural policies, all the time pointing to the one thing, or claiming the one thing—that the Government must come to the help of the farmer in some way or other— I want to give it as my opinion that it is no use for any party in this State to make the pretence of trying to solve the difficulties of the farmers either now or in the future by new methods in agriculture or by any change in the agricultural policy while such a problem as the present one exists, and while no real effort is being made on the part of responsible Ministers of the State to come to the assistance of farmers in a way that is going to be a real help to them. It is very difficult to make farmers believe, when advice is tendered and suggestions are made about what is to be done for them and what they ought to do for themselves, that many of their advisers and counsellors are sincere in their advice at all.

The Minister smiles when I make reference to the district to which I referred as the half parish in my constituency. It is the half running along the River Erne. In Northern Ireland across the Border the losses to the farmer were just as great as in the Saorstát. Now at the very time when the members of the Saorstát Government seemed to be very keen to help the farmer one would expect that the Government of the Saorstát would be prepared to do, at least, as much for the farmers of the Saorstát as the Government of Northern Ireland was not only prepared to do, but did, across the Border. The Minister is aware how the Northern Government met this problem and the efforts that they made to try and solve it. I have here circulars issued by the Government of Northern Ireland showing the methods that they were to employ to try to help the farmers in their districts over their difficulties. With permission of the Dáil I will read them. This is from the Ministry of Agriculture in the Government of Northern Ireland:—

"The Government has decided to consider applications for loans at 2½ per cent. interest, from bona fide farmers who, owing to the unfavourable season, have incurred losses of live stock since the 1st of October, 1924."

"Loans will be granted only for the purpose of replacing such live stock losses."

"Loans will be issued through the various Northern Ireland Branches of the following Banks:—Bank of Ireland, Belfast Banking Co., Ltd., Hibernian Bank, Munster and Leinster Bank, National Bank, Northern Banking Company Ltd., Provincial Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank."

"Full particulars regarding these loans together with forms of application can be obtained from any Branch of the Banks mentioned above."

"Forms of application will not be issued direct to intending borrowers by the Ministry."

"Applications on the prescribed form should be made immediately and no application received in the Ministry after the 31st August, 1925, will be considered."

That is the same month that we were debating the problem here, and decided to vote £100,000 for the solution of this problem in the Saorstát. There is a further circular which was issued in August, and which is as follows:—

"The Government of Northern Ireland has varied in certain particulars its scheme of short term loans to assist bona fide farmers who have suffered losses of live stock. The latest date for lodging applications for these loans with the Ministry for Agriculture has now been extended from the 31st August to the 30th September, 1925. A further concession has been made in the matter of repayment. Instead of all loans being repayable on the 31st December, 1925, the repayment date will be the 31st December, 1926, and any loans already made which terminate on the earlier date will be renewed automatically to the later date. Forms of application, with particulars of the scheme and so on, will be available at all banks in Northern Ireland."

And it goes on to say:—"Loans will be granted only for the purpose of replacing live stock losses."

I have a communication accompanying that from a citizen of Northern Ireland stating that the farmers in his district get loans of from £15 to £200, Now the poverty-stricken Government of Northern Ireland, with its very limited resources, and what we are supposed to believe as its very little consideration for agriculture, can see its way to make arrangements with the banks, most of which are functioning in the Saorstát, to loan out money to the farmers at 2½ per cent. to enable them to re-stock their lands. If a farmer in the Saorstát sought a loan from a credit society he would have to pay 5 per cent., and no loan could be available from a credit society if the farmers of the district, whether they had it or not, did not come along to establish a credit society by paying down their money. That is the real reason why these societies are not set up. The Minister is conscious of the fact; he shakes his head, but my experience of the district I went into—and I took a particular interest in it, because it was one of the worst—was this: I had there all the men who wanted to borrow, but not one man who wanted to lend. They do not want to let out their money on loan simply because they were going to lend the money to their neighbours to re-stock their lands, and if they had money—and a few of them might have—they were not going to do any such thing, and the result was that in no district was it possible to get men together prepared to put down deposits to establish one of these societies.

It is up to the Minister to show what the real magnitude of the problem is, what the real losses were, what the value of the cattle lost is. He has got to show how that loss can be replaced, so that we can hope to stimulate production, or he has got to show what he is going to do to stimulate production, or what the Government party proposes in this way to stimulate production, or if anything is to be done. The Minister has got to show, too, whether it is sound policy or not, to put the hard-working farmer, who has been unfortunate, on his feet again and enable him to carry on this work and pay his way, and the Minister has to look at the other side and see what the consequences are to be if that is not done. Who has a greater obligation to the farmer than the Government? I admitted, in other debates, that the difficulties confronting the Ministry in the matter of short term loans and the difficulty in administering these would undoubtedly be great. The Minister, I know, will ask how we are to get the correct returns; how are we to know the man who really lost, and he may raise other points, but I say if the Ministry had gone about their work when the tillage returns were being collected by the Gárda there would be very little trouble in getting the correct returns to show what the losses were. If we have to get men to make affidavits to show whether they sustained loss or not that could be done.

I say what the Government of Northern Ireland have done for the farmers of their area should be done by the Government of the Saorstát for the farmers here. The farmers of the country expect it of the Government. I hope the Government are not going to say no. I hope they will accept the situation as it is and try to find some solution of it. If the Minister is not going to offer any addition to the offer already made he might as well withdraw his offer, but at the same time he will have to recognise, as I recognise, that the problem still exists, and if that is so, it is the Minister's obligation to try and solve the problem, and if he does not face his responsibilities in the matter I do not see how any other party in the State can do anything in the matter.

One does not want to go further now than to try and represent things as they really are. When the Minister moved towards the establishment of credit societies, I undertook to do my best in that direction, as I felt they should get every chance. They have got every chance. As far as I am concerned I did, at least, as much as any Deputy, and a good deal more than many Deputies on the Government Benches. My efforts have not met with success, and I come here to say that the problem still exists, and to ask the Dáil to say that some other means must be employed by the Minister to solve the problem.

I second the motion. I thoroughly agree with Deputy Baxter's description of the situation throughout the Saorstát, as far as credit societies are concerned. Like Deputy Baxter, I have done all that was in my power to establish credit societies in my own county. On three or four occasions I travelled over 30 miles to meetings to try and establish these societies. I attended the county council meetings and brought the matter up there, and also at the County Committee of Agriculture. I tried to spread the light by having credit societies established in County Wexford. In a good many districts the people are hard hit by the losses they have sustained. Many districts are practically without cattle, and others suffered great losses of sheep. I hoped that the Minister's grant would have led to the establishment of credit societies and that they would have succeeded in doing something for the people.

After my experience I have come to the conclusion that the scheme is an utter failure. Credit societies cannot be established because people who have any money to put on deposit will not touch them, and those who want to avail of them have no money to put into them. At one meeting it was suggested that a number of persons should raise money in one of the banks. When it came to finding people to back the bill there were only two ready to sign. We could not possibly do anything towards establishing credit societies in the county. I think some other plan must be adopted if anything is to be done for the people who have suffered great losses. We had one supporter at the County Committee of Agriculture. He offered the aid of a society in his own district. That district did not happen to be one that had been badly affected by losses of cattle or sheep, and the society was only carrying on in the normal way it did for the past fifteen years. I agree with Deputy Baxter that something ought to be done. If not, the farmers who have to pay annuities and taxes will have no means of doing so. Their stocks and their flocks are depleted, and if something is not done immediately to re-stock their lands, I fear these people will not be able to exist on their homesteads.

When this matter was debated previously some Deputies had very little faith in the measures that were decided upon, because, measuring the general feeling from one's own experience, it was felt that those with money were not inclined to lend it out. It is only the Government can lend out money in such a situation, and it is only an independent body that is fearless and does not care what people think would have the courage to recover such money with the aid of the law. That is past history, and there is no use going back on it now. What has been done has been a failure. It has not met the situation. Deputy Baxter referred to the Minister's answer last evening about the number of societies that have been formed in the Saorstát. The amount of money lent out was £3,500. That proves that the scheme is a failure. Originally, we were talking about £100,000, and at the time all of us knew that £100,000 would not meet the situation. If it would not, how far could £3,500 go? I do not think anyone will question the earnestness or the good faith of Deputies on the Farmers' Benches in trying to make the scheme a success. I heard the Minister asking Deputy Baxter if he had acted on a Committee, and if not, why not. We are not discussing that. We are dealing with the question of what is best to be done. The position is worse now than it was when we were dealing with it before. Men have tried to carry on with reduced stock and on reduced capital. Naturally they are not in a position to meet their liabilities. The position is worse not alone for the individual but for the State than it was six months ago. I may be asked, what remedy do I suggest. I think the obvious remedy is the remedy tried in the Six Counties. A loan was given there on very generous terms. What we want here is a loan on generous terms. I do not favour and I do not ask for grants. Grants create an atmosphere that is altogether undesirable. That atmosphere kills self-reliance, and, to my mind, creates a state of mind amongst the mass of the people that is not desirable here or in any other country. Loans have been tried in this country before. Loans were advanced by the Department of Public Works and advanced for land purchase. They have been repaid cent. for cent. Loans given on Government security will be repaid cent. for cent. and the Government has the machinery to see that they are repaid. We know what the Six County Government has done in six months. It has advanced loans at 2½ per cent. It would be interesting if we had the figures as to what amount was actually lent.

£37,000 operating in a few little counties while £3,500 has been advanced in the Twenty-six Counties. I think it would be good business for the Government to guarantee such loans and good business for the banks, who are lending our money in England, to give this money at 2½ per cent. It would be good business for the banks and better business for the nation. It may be asked why the farmers do not come to one another's assistance and why men with money do not help men who have none. Anyone who asks that question should ask himself what he would have done if the circumstances were his own. We have not yet reached that ideal stage of human perfection and I think it will be some time before we do reach it. I think the Six Counties method is good enough for us as a trial. Something must be done as the problem cannot be allowed to remain as it is. The distress and the need is greater to-day than six months ago.

Look at our actual exports to-day. How much have they dwindled in numbers? Value may be misleading. When I talk about numbers I am talking about something that requires a lot of explanation. It is a loss to the nation apart from the loss to the individual. There is no use in asking "What help did you give?" The only question we can ask honestly is: "What is the best to be done and what is the best way to go about it?" This is a national and not an individual question. We are looking at it from that point. I know the same point was taken by the Government and certainly, by the Minister. I know the proposition has been put up by the Minister in the hope that he would get a response. The response has not been given for obvious reasons. It is up to us to meet this question in an effective manner and the only effective manner is that of a State guaranteed loan. I have had occasion to meet people in North Kerry and Clare for the last few weeks and I am assured that the poverty brought about by this visitation is more apparent amongst these people than it was nine months ago. Just now this effect is made more obvious.

I do not know that I ought to say this, but I will risk it. In one sense we ought to be thankful that the loss to the country was not greater. England will be in nearly a similar plight to us. If you ask the butchers in our slaughter-yards about Scotch, English and Irish cattle, they will tell you that the livers of a considerable percentage of those animals, with our rainfall, were not in anything like perfect order, and are not yet. The experience of men who have fed cattle consistently is that cattle never gave a worse response to food given them than they gave for the last six months. Englishmen and Scotchmen have the same experience. I am sure we are going to be met in a genuine and business-like way. We do not want generosity but a business-like method of dealing with the matter, and the only method is by a State loan at a generous and reasonable percentage.

I wish to propose an amendment to Deputy Baxter's motion:

To delete all words after the words "credit societies" and to substitute the following words: "affords a reasonable method of relieving farmers who have lost stock through fluke and also considers that the development of those societies will provide a credit system particularly suitable to the permanent needs of small farmers."

Is the Deputy in order to move, at this stage, an amendment? Should we not have notice of it some days ago? Is it regular at this late stage of the proceedings? Should it not have been put on the Order Paper for the consideration of Deputies instead of coming forward now? Another thing: after several Deputies on our side have spoken, even if we were willing to accept it, which we are not, should not the regular procedure have been followed, and should not the amendment have been moved after Deputy Doyle seconded the motion?

I am taking the second point first. There is no obligation on any person desiring to propose an amendment to propose the amendment immediately after the motion has been duly seconded. On the question of notice, it is the practice to receive amendments to motions of this kind, without notice, and amendments may be proposed if in order. That is purely from the point of view of order. Whether it would be better to give notice is another question. From the point of view of order, merely, it is the practice to propose amendments without notice, as well as with notice. I have only received the amendment just now.

On a point of order, will the amendment be circulated?

Has your attention been drawn to Standing Order 19, which says:

"All motions, to be put on the Order Paper for any day, shall reach the Clerk in writing, signed by a Teachta, not later than 11 a.m. on the fourth preceding day. Such motions, if accepted, shall forthwith be published to the Dáil.

"All amendments to such motions, to be put on the Order Paper for the same day, shall reach the Clerk in writing, signed by a Teachta, not later than 11 a.m. on the second preceding day:

"Provided, that by permission of the Ceann Comhairle, and by leave of the Dáil, urgent motions may be made on shorter notice."

I am aware of that Standing Order, but the practice has been to receive amendments to motions without notice and, as a matter of fact, this particular amendment merely provides another way of discussing the thing which Deputy Baxter wants to discuss.

It asks the Dáil to record a certain opinion.

Yes. I suggest to Deputy Connor Hogan that the best point of order on this amendment is that it is a direct negative, but I have decided it is not.

I feel that perhaps I owe a certain amount of apology to Deputies on the other side, and especially to Deputy Baxter, for not giving further notice of this amendment. I can only plead a certain amount of inexperience in the practice of the House as my excuse.

The Minister was not inexperienced, surely.

What strikes me about Deputy Baxter's motion is this—that in it he asks the Dáil to condemn a movement that was initiated only five months ago—a movement which has in it possibilities of great value, not only for this particular distress that prevails at the moment, but for a great many other problems that affect small farmers all over the country. He is asking the Dáil, after a very short space and after only very little trial has been given to this movement, to condemn it and substitute another movement for it.

If I may interrupt the Deputy, I am not asking the Dáil to condemn it at all. I am asking the Dáil to agree that it has failed to afford the necessary relief to farmers who have lost their stock through disease, and that other steps should be taken immediately to introduce a system of short-term loans at low interest, so that the farms may be restocked.

I have read it.

Will the Deputy not misinterpret, or try not to misinterpret, the terms of the motion?

I am quite aware of the terms. My point is that, if the motion goes through in the terms proposed, that motion will be accepted all over the country as a confession that credit societies and the movement for the inauguration of credit societies have failed altogether. They have not.

The point we are raising is that the system has failed to meet this particular situation. It could not, and will not meet it.

That is specifically stated in the motion.

If the credit societies which were practically inaugurated to meet the situation are now declared to be a failure——

Does the Minister stand over that?

This particular movement and the grant given by the Government a few months ago were meant to meet this particular situation.

What grants? There were no grants.

Let the Deputy proceed; it is the simplest way of dealing with the matter.

In proposing to give £2 for every £1 for the purpose of setting up these credit societies, the Government was making a new departure in the establishment of credit societies all over the country. If this motion is allowed to pass, stating that that departure has been a complete failure for the purpose for which it was intended, then I say this motion will be accepted by the country generally as a condemnation of the whole credit society movement.

We certainly have not said that it is a complete failure. We have said that £3,500 has been lent out. Do you call that successful?

I do not call it a success, but I say it is too early altogether to decide whether the whole movement has been a complete failure, for the purpose for which it has been instituted. Every sensible man will agree that if this motion is passed, farmers throughout the country will take it that the movement to establish credit societies for this purpose has been a complete failure, and they will be very slow to start the credit society movement for any other purpose. That is the great point I want to make. I agree thoroughly that this problem is a terrible problem and that it needs to be dealt with, but I would point out that there are a great many other problems of the same kind as this which can be met by this means, and that these credit societies can be made into a permanent means for dealing with every problem practically that affects the economic life of the small farmer. If you proceed now to declare it a failure for one purpose, you thereby condemn it for every other purpose.

Does the Deputy suggest that we ought to pretend that something is a success which the Minister knows is a failure and which the Deputy knows is a failure?

I think this amendment is a reasonable one.

Would the Deputy increase the price of barley?

I have not concluded. I allowed Deputy Baxter to interrupt me. There are a great many other problems, as I say, which require to be dealt with besides this. I would point to one problem, for instance, which affects a great many people in my part of the country, and that is the problem of the shortage of the pig supply. During the last year or so the supply of pigs in Mayo county has been depleted to a degree that has never been known before.

Is it in order in discussing credit societies to introduce the problem of the shortage of pigs?

The Deputy has been very considerably interrupted, and I suggest that we come here to listen to people with whom we do not agree. Now let us try to listen to Deputy Tierney.

I do not propose to detain Deputies very long. I say that in this movement for the establishment of credit societies you have a means which enables the farmers by themselves and of their own strength, if they would only use it, to deal with a great many other problems that affect them, and affect them perhaps nearly as badly as this particular problem—the losses through fluke—and I point out one problem that exists in my own constituency, the supply of pigs. I suggest that that could be met to a large extent by the development of credit societies on this basis, and I hold that you will make it very difficult to deal with that or any other problem in this way if you pass the motion in Deputy Baxter's terms. What Deputies on the other side want to do is to go on the old system that we have always had, a system by which the farmers are prepared to do practically nothing themselves but simply to sit down and wait for the Government to do everything for them.

Wait for a few schoolmasters to tell them how to do it.

And brewers.

And we have often had complaints from Farmer Deputies themselves that there was a great deal too much of a tendency in the country for people, instead of dealing with their own problems in their own way and in their own localities, to look up here to Dublin for somebody to do the needful for them and to do practically everything for them. There is still available for the purpose of these credit societies, as has been pointed out, a sum of over £90,000 given by the Government, which would enable the farmers to invest their money very advantageously and at a very good rate of interest. If it is not possible for the farmers to make use of that money to help themselves it is very hard to see how it is possible for them to be helped in any way. It is a fact that societies of this kind have been set up in some counties since this arrangement was entered into, and these societies have been a success in themselves in some of the poorest counties. In giving an impetus to the setting up of these societies the Government took a means—that of inducing people in every locality to rely on their own resources, and of inducing them to make up their minds that their best help is themselves—of inducing the big farmers and the small farmers to come together and recognise that this problem, like every other problem of their lives, is common to them.

Empty pocket help empty pocket!

It seems to me that this step was taken by the Government at a time which was very favourable for the development of this movement.

Unfavourable, unfortunately.

It was very favourable at that particular time, and means existed which would have induced people, and can still induce people, to make use of this movement for their own benefit. I suggest that instead of making up our minds that this whole movement has been a failure after five months, a better thing for us to do would be to organise credit societies to take some steps to secure that the people in every locality will be educated sufficiently to appreciate the value of these societies——

By a professor of Greek.

—that they will be educated into understanding the value of these credit societies and that they will be given every opportunity possible to set them up where they do not exist already.

Might I ask the Deputy how many credit societies have been established in his constituency? What has he done in the past five months to spread the light? How many of these societies are going to be established, and what prospect does he see for the success of the movement in his constituency?

I second the amendment. It is really a wise amendment in so far that it only suggests that we should hold on to these credit societies for a little longer. I think that both Deputy Baxter and the leader of the Party, Deputy Gorey, were skating on very thin ice when they stated that nobody would come forward to assist their fellow-constituents and their fellow-farmers, although they had the money on deposit in the banks.

Who said that?

They come to us and they say to the Government: "The rich must assist the poor; the Government must help the people." They are quite right from their point of view in suggesting that the Government should produce all the capital, while they keep their own money on deposit. That is a very charming way to do it, but they do not suggest that the rich should help the poor. You would imagine that one section would help members of the same section in difficulty if there were no very great losses attending the production of that assistance.

Does the prosperous brewer help his bankrupt fellow-brewers?

We are talking about a far more serious thing, which is that the rich farmer does not come forward to support a reasonable society. Deputy Gorey practically stated that if they lent the money, the Government would have to collect it, and he practically put the onus on the Government. If that is the case, I say that the Government ought to be extremely careful in lending money to the farmers when a section of the farmers say that they themselves are afraid to do so, and that they would require the Government to get back the money. That is not what I would call a reasonable loan. Farmers know their own character a great deal better than we do, and if they warn us that there would be considerable difficulty in getting this money back, I say that they should not try to borrow money from the Government. Let them go back again, having been refused it, and see if this credit question could not be reasonably supported by themselves. If the danger exists that the money could not be recovered, I quite see why a farmer with money on deposit should not advance it, and, if that is so, it would be equally dangerous for the Government to do so, and equally dangerous for all of us who would have to pay for it. It, therefore, seems perfectly fair that the amendment should be passed, with the object of affording the farmers an opportunity that they have often found in the fairs. When they do not get the price they ask, they have to take a slightly smaller price, and that smaller price here might overcome their natural diffidence in collecting this money and in producing it for the sake of those who have suffered. Everybody recognises that they have suffered, but why should we not first see that they would be generous enough to go to these deposit accounts that Deputy Gorey mentioned and produce the money? The Government will advance two-thirds, and they are asked to risk one-third. If it is so dangerous that they do not like to risk one-third, I should think that the Government would refuse to risk two-thirds. That follows from their argument: they have told us that it is too dangerous to advance this money. I do not believe that it would be dangerous. I believe that if the farmers would reconsider the matter, and see whether it would not be possible, through the deposits and by other means, to raise this one-third as a security, it could be done. If they think that the Government might advance the whole of the money, naturally it will not come out of these deposits.

What does the Deputy think of what the Northern Government did?

I quite agree that the Northern Government did do the thing, but I do not suppose you will go to the Northern Government for every example of what you are going to do, or else we would have been together long before now. The Northern Government are linked up with the British Government, and they may get assistance. We have no knowledge as to that, and until we have that knowledge we cannot argue the question, and certainly we cannot be dictated to on the grounds of what they do; we can take our own way. The farmers come to the Government when there are certain deposits procurable in the banks to assist, but which are not procured because the danger of not being able to collect the money again is so great. The argument put up to the Government naturally is "You must risk the danger," because we have been warned in the most kindly manner that there is this enormous danger. I think that we ought to try to see if it could be done, because the suffering is there and it ought to be met in some way. That is actually agreed on, and nobody can go beyond that. The only question is, what medicine is to be taken in order to cure. The farmers want the medicine to be procured altogether by the Government, and we suggest in the amendment that we should again try to see if a third of the mixture could not be given by the patient and two-thirds by the doctor.

I take it that the amendment is proposed on behalf of the Cumann na nGaedheal, inasmuch as it has been spoken to by two Deputies who are not usually in attendance, or at least who do not usually speak on these matters, and that it is followed by fair consideration and the prompting of the Minister. It is quite clear from the speeches that we have just heard that, boiled down, the policy of the Government Party in this matter is that if the wealthier farmers refuse to come to the aid of the societies by giving their credit to the poorer farmers, then the poorer farmers may stew in their own juice.

The wealthier farmers have had an opportunity under this scheme of coming to the assistance of the poorer farmers who have lost cattle and other stock, and are thereby suffering. The fact that so small a number of societies has been established, and the fact that so small a number of pounds has been advanced, notwithstanding the efforts of the promoters of the scheme, whether Deputy Tierney or Deputies of any other part of the House, still remain to be considered. Notwithstanding the failure even in County Mayo or County Cork, these societies have not been established and only £3,000 or £4,000 have been advanced. There was admittedly great need, or the scheme itself would not have been brought forward; admittedly it was an emergency. That is admitted by Deputies in all parts of the House. But, notwithstanding the advocacy of Deputy Tierney, Deputy Beamish and others in their own localities, they have failed to establish more than a very small number of societies. They say that because large farmers will not come to the assistance of the small farmers we are not going to assist the small farmers; nothing can be done for the small farmers; the State will not and must not be allowed to give to the small farmers, if they can help it, even though the large farmers will not assist them by adding to their credit. That is placing the small farmer in the west and south, and in other parts of the country, in a very peculiar light in view of the Government's attitude.

On a point of order, may I say that words seem to be put into our mouths that we have not uttered. I never said one thing that is now attributed to me. Deputy Johnson is a very able debater, a very hard debater, and, I know, a very good debater; but he must adhere somewhat to the truth and to accuracy when he is quoting words stated by other Deputies.

The Deputy may not have understood what he was saying.

I do not think he did.

He pointed out very insistently that the farmers themselves had admitted the difficulty of getting the wealthier farmer to come to the aid of the poorer farmer, and he continued to point out that that being the difficulty, it would be foolish for the State to lend money to the poorer farmers; they must stew in their own juice, because the rich farmers will not come to their aid. So the Deputy and his Party desire——

On a point of order, what Deputy Beamish said was that if it was a fact, as stated from the Farmers' benches——

On a point of order, is what is now raised by the Minister a point of order?

We will hear the Minister first.


The Deputy stated that if it were a fact, as stated from the Farmers' Benches, that the rich farmer——

On a point of or der——

I am going to hear the Minister first and I will hear the points of order afterwards.

I was anxious to raise a point of order.

I will first hear the Minister.

Will you confine him to a point of order?

I will hear the Minister and I will confine him as my judgment suggests.


The Deputy stated that if it were the fact, as stated from the Farmers' Benches, that the big farmers would not come to the assistance of the small farmers——

Is that a point of order?

It is a point of extrication.


I have not quite finished. The Deputy said that if it were a fact, as stated from the Farmers' Benches, that the big farmers would not come to the assistance of the small farmers, then why should the State be asked to interfere? He pointed out himself he did not believe anything of the kind.

I wonder will the Ceann Comhairle give his judgment as to the point of order?

I think the Minister is trying to prove that the Deputy is not capable of explaining his own point.

I am perfectly well able to explain my own points. I have explained my points. Even if my oratory is unfortunate, I will not have my words twisted by anybody.

Not even by the Minister for Lands and Agriculture.

The words "point of order" are the most abused words in this Dáil.

Especially by the Minister for Lands and Agriculture.

Deputies on all sides, not excluding Deputy Corish, rise to what they call a point of order, either when they want to interrupt gracefully or when they want to make an explanation, or, often enough, an addition, or, as Deputy Corish suggested, an extrication. Now, none of these things is a point of order. When these things are constantly being raised on one side we must allow them on both sides. I would prefer if they were not raised at all. Perhaps Deputies will remember what I suggested before: that we are here to listen to other people who do not agree with us and, possibly, if we listen patiently, we will explain ourselves more intelligently than by interrupting.

I take it that the point of order is not accepted. The Minister has tried to explain what Deputy Beamish intended to say, but I think that Deputy Beamish's speech was quite clear and understandable to the other Deputies in the House, if not to the Minister or to Deputy Beamish. The argument, not only of Deputy Beamish but of Deputy Tierney, was to the same effect. It was not put quite so bluntly by Deputy Tierney as by Deputy Beamish. It was that there is no necessity for any State assistance for the small farmers, that they can wait, be patient. If they wait long enough the cattle will come to them somehow, in a Christmas stocking, perhaps. At any rate, there is no necessity for any State assistance. There is no necessity to introduce a system of short term loans at low interest. There is a method at hand in the system introduced in June by which, if they can only induce their richer neighbours— their neighbours who have not lost stock, the shopkeepers in the near towns, who are presumed to have plenty of credit—to come to their assistance, then the scheme that has been proposed is a perfect one, and will undoubtedly afford reasonable means of relieving the farmers who have lost their stock. That is a pleasant message to give to the constituents of the Deputies who have spoken. I am rather surprised at—perhaps I should admire the hardihood of—the Deputies in putting forward that as a message to those farmers who have lost stock through fluke.

It is, of course, a well-known trick to put an amendment forward asking the House to agree to a thing which they will all agree to unanimously in the hope that, by producing this amendment, which will be generally agreed to, they will be forced into refusing the proposition that was originally put forward. The amendment is to the effect that the House also considers that the development of credit societies will provide a system particularly suitable to the permanent needs of small farmers. That might be added; nobody would object to it. I understand, at any rate, that it is the view of the majority of farmers in the country who have thought about these things that these societies do provide a means whereby men who are needing loans for the provision of stock, or such like, may be able to get them through the credit societies. The credit societies are institutions for normal times and circumstances.

That is the point.

The permanent needs of small farmers might well be satisfactorily dealt with by credit societies, but now you are dealing with an abnormal situation—one that involves the loss of a large number of cattle spread all over the country, owned by poor, small farmers, who have not the means of substituting new cattle for them. They have lost their capital in fact, and, as has been pointed out, in some districts numbers of small farmers have lost all their cattle. The credit societies are supposed to be institutions which would allow, in normal times, all those small farmers to come together to assist each other in times of need.

It was never expected, and it is quite uneconomic to imagine, that if they are all in need at the same time, if they are all bankrupt at the same time, their combined credit is going to be of value. That is the proposition of Deputy Professor Tierney, that these credit societies afford a reasonable method of relieving the farmers who have lost their stock through fluke. Now, if he wanted us to accept that proposition he should have brought us some evidence that they did, in fact, afford a reasonable method of relieving the farmers. He should have brought us some evidence of the success of his propaganda. He should have brought us some evidence as to the number of societies that have been formed under his influence or the number of societies in any other part of the country that have been formed to meet this emergency.

I had hoped that the Minister's information was quite good enough. In June last he gave us some kind of assurance that the credit societies would be effective, with the assistance that was given, to meet the emergency; but it is quite clear to me that if they have only developed to this extent, they are not going to meet the emergency, unless the possibility remained that the Minister is able to show us that there is a very large number just on the point of springing up. That might meet my doubts and hesitancy. I am very much afraid that he will not have any evidence of that kind to put forward and, in the absence of any evidence that these societies are going to meet the emergency, then I think it is a reasonable proposition made by Deputy Baxter that other steps should be taken to introduce a system of short-term loans immediately at low interest so that the farms may be restocked. The case that has been made on behalf of the amendment, as I said at the beginning, is a case which relies upon the wealthier farmer or shopkeeper coming to the aid of the group of poorer farmers who have no credit, no stock, and no value to warrant credit, and, if they cannot get either the wealthy farmer or the shopkeeper to come to their aid, then nothing will be done for them. That is the proposition of Deputy Tierney and Deputy Beamish and the Cumann na nGaedheal Party.

Before Deputy Wilson begins, could we have it settled whether this amendment would be adjourned until Friday, which would be the ordinary day for private business, or whether it will come on before Friday?

I would prefer, if there would be time, that it would be taken to-morrow, when the ordinary business is concluded.

It will appear on the Order Paper to-morrow. It may come on to-morrow, but it may be deferred until Friday.

I may have to be absent on Friday, and I do not want it to be understood by the Deputies on the other side that because I am absent I am in the slightest degree perturbed by the arguments of Deputy Johnson or the Farmer Deputies. I want that to be understood. They need not think if I am absent that they are driving me away.

The amendment, if Deputies will mark, has been moved by two members of the Government Party who make no living out of the land——

Not directly.

I beg your pardon, I do.

It is supported by a brewer-farmer. I want to point out that if this amendment was meant to be of service——

Meant seriously.

Yes, meant seriously; the Farmer members of the Cumann Na nGaedheal organisation would have been put up to expound the benefit which it will confer on those poor people. I hope before the discussion is ended we will hear these farmers on the Government side, and that they will expound, here, in the Dáil, the sentiments they have expressed in other parts of the country. Now, we had a lecture on credit societies. We had a lecture on the benefits that would accrue to the farmers by the institution of credit societies. We agree that they are a very fine proposition; but this is an emergency. Credit societies are all very well in ordinary times, but when an emergency exists, are we to permit these men to be made bankrupt? You should start off by doing what could have been done ten years ago, and what can be done next year; but at the present time an emergency exists, and we are to do nothing because this co-operation has not been brought to fruition. Is it not evident, if only £3,500 has been made available to the small farmer out of £100,000 that was voted, that in the circumstances that now exist, credit societies have failed?

Deputy Professor Tierney brought forward his amendment because he said the adoption of the motion would destroy the people's faith in the credit societies. That was the ostensible reason; but he let the cat out of the bag, because he said what he really meant was that it was politically inexpedient to permit Deputy Baxter's motion to be carried in the Dáil. He did not care whether it was going to help the farmers. It was a question with him how would the country accept the fact that Deputy Baxter had brought forward a motion here which would help the people, and it was not brought forward from the other side. There was another thing. Deputy Baxter's motion did not hide the truth; it told the truth. It expressly stated that the credit societies have failed to do what they were intended to do, and for that reason this amendment, the amendment brought forward by the two non-farmer Deputies, was brought forward with the idea of obscuring the truth and trying to save the face of the Government for their inactivity in a time of stress.

Will the Deputy move the adjournment of the debate until to-morrow?

Yes. I beg to move the adjournment of the debate until to-morrow.

Debate adjourned until to-morrow.