"That the Dáil is of opinion that the establishment of Agricultural Credit Societies have 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."—(Pádraig Baxter.)

Last night I was endeavouring to direct the attention of the House towards, what I would consider, the inconsistency of the Government in connection with the affliction of fluke disease which came upon our cattle. In June last the Minister for Agriculture stated that on account of the abnormal visitation of this disease in various districts he considered that it was his duty to make some advance towards helping farmers who had lost their stock. To make good his efforts a Vote of £100,000 was passed and the Minister for Agriculture advised that that could best be employed by the institution of credit societies in those areas which the disease had ravaged. Four or five months afterwards we are here, in this motion, pointing out that these credit societies have failed to do what the Minister intended they should do. Therefore, we are asking that an alternative method should be used for helping those farmers who have been afflicted.

What is the Government's method? To bring in an amendment which is merely a reiteration of a truism, a reiteration of what we all agree to, in the hope that it will by that means side-track the motion here. That motion of Deputy Baxter's positively asserts what is a fact, and the amendment by Deputy Tierney, on behalf of the Government, is merely a parliamentary trick to side-track the issue. Of course we all agree that credit societies are good. That is not an answer to our motion. We want you to give, at least, good terms to the farmers whose losses are well known. You have yourselves agreed they exist; unless they did exist it would not be the duty of the Government to interfere. We say that you ought effectively to use the money voted by the Dáil and not hold it up indefinitely in the furthering of those schemes of credit societies which undoubtedly will be good, but which will not be effective in the emergency which now exists.

Those are the reasons why I cannot accept the amendment. It is said that the farmers should not be always looking for State aid. I agree. We should not always be looking for State aid; but this is a case where it is admitted by the Government that State aid is necessary. From my own experience I have known other Governments, in cases of drought in other countries, to come to the aid of the farmers. Here is a case where you agree that help is needed. Your method is wrong and we ask you to change your method. Give us these short-term loans which have been so effectively used in the north, and by which means the money voted by the Dáil here may be put into proper use.

A sum of £3,500 has been loaned in four months. The need is there, but the farmers are placed out of employment and there is no hope of their being able to make a living. The period has lapsed when whatever money that could be made on the farm would be available for credit societies. Yet, with all the activities of the Minister and the organisation society at his back, with the help of the Deputies on these Benches, and with the help of the Deputies of the Cumann na nGaedheal, he has been able to start only eight societies and loan them £3,500. Is that able to meet the case that exists and for which the money has been voted?

This is an effort to stop the allocation of money and to give the help needed. If the Government thinks that by this method they are going to escape the blame—for they are blameable for inaction—and if they think that by persevering in this slow-going motion they are going to escape censure, you may take it that they are mistaken. There is a feeling in the country amongst the farmers—I wonder how the farmers on the Government side will counter that feeling— that the Dáil's efforts to help them in their distress have been nullified by the inert action of the Government.

Northern Ireland, with its small resources, can give short-term loans through the banks at 2½ per cent. Why cannot this Government, having voted £100,000, do the same, or better? What is wrong with this Government? We agree that credit societies will help; but they will not help in the emergency which at present faces us, and for that reason I have no hesitation whatever in objecting to and voting against the amendment.

Before going into the general question, which is the need of credit in the country, I would like first to endeavour to clear up a few points. I want to say that I appreciate the spirit in which Deputy Baxter proposed the motion. He proposed it quite moderately, and he put the case from his own point of view quite fairly, I admit. Having said that much, I want to say also, in conjunction with it, that I am a convinced believer that the credit society is the correct method; I am a convinced believer that the loan system is wrong. I will give my reasons for this afterwards. I say that in connection with the way in which the matter was presented.

Deputy Baxter reminded me that if a census had been taken, if the Gárda Síochána had visited every farm in the country for the purpose of ascertaining all about the crops and getting other figures for publication in the statistical reports, these visits might be availed of for the purpose of getting some information as to the magnitude of the problem. He asked me whether I had instructed the Gárda Síochána, in addition to their normal duties, to make definite inquiries at each farm or place they visited as to the losses from fluke. My answer is that I did not give such instructions, and I deliberately refrained from doing that. I deliberately refrained because I am convinced that by that method I would get no accurate information from such a census. Deputy Baxter has more faith in census of that sort than I have. I venture to say he has very much more faith in a census of that sort than the normal farmer has who knows the conditions in the country.

I took considerable pains to ascertain, by methods which I consider sound, the extent of the losses through the fluke last winter and spring. I have nothing to add or subtract from the estimate which I gave the Dáil then, nothing whatever. I do not propose to go into those figures again. I quoted them at length. I do propose to tell the Dáil the methods I adopted. The Department of Agriculture has competent officials, agricultural instructors, live-stock officers, etc. Some of them permanently reside in every county in the Saorstát. They are working in every parish, and the Department of Agriculture has other officials who are constantly going from one county to another. I get reports periodically from every one of these officials. As I pointed out, many of them reside in every county, and the others are visiting, in one way or another, at very short intervals, every part of the Sáorstát. They have no interest except to get the truth. I regard them as quite competent to draw up a programme of accurate information as to the extent of the problem. I have absolute confidence in the results they have given me, and which I have given to the Dáil.

In addition, I took some pains myself to investigate the problem in the county from which I come where there has been, probably, as great a loss from fluke as in any other county. I refer to Galway. I consulted reliable farmers and they are easily found in various districts. I got their opinions for certain typical districts. I consulted farmers who came from districts where you have high, healthy, lively land, and farmers who come from districts where you have low-lying, sodden land. I consulted a great many of these farmers. I have been all over the country in connection with the Live Stock Breeding Act. I took every opportunity to consult practical farmers whom I regard as reliable men, and I got their opinions as to the losses. It was on the information I obtained in that way that I formed my conclusions.

I put it to Deputy Baxter or to any farmer anywhere, whether in the Dáil or outside it, whether that is not a more reliable way to get an approximate estimate, the only approximate estimate you could get of the losses, than by the method of sending around Gárda to each house asking them the naive question: "How many cattle and sheep have died on you through fluke?" with the implication that the Government was going to come along with a free grant, perhaps. The Deputies may be shocked and say I have a very low estimate of Irish human nature and of human nature in general. I have not, but we must take human nature as it is, and, speaking as one man who knows the conditions in the country, I have no doubt that the estimate that I arrived at on that basis is more likely to be accurate than the figures I could get by the crude method of sending out the Gárda Síochána to inquire from every Tom, John and Pat how many cattle died on them from the fluke, with the implication that there was to be a Government grant. That was my method, and I think it is a sound method. That was the way I arrived at my figures. I have always realised that considerable numbers of stock died of fluke. I have equally realised that many more stock died of starvation. I pointed out often in the Dáil that one very serious aspect of Irish agriculture is that stock in the winter-time are under-fed. I will be told that the people have not the feeding; that is not an answer. Some stock died of starvation last winter and last spring. They did not die a year before; but they were under-fed, and, as a rule, they are under-fed, not so much in the poorer counties, but often in the rich counties where there is more feeding, where there are better crops, better land and more money. That aspect of affairs is not explained, and cannot be explained, by poverty, for the simple reason that under-feeding is as much prevalent in the good rich counties, where practically every farmer has an economic holding, as it is in the poorer counties. I have nothing to add to or subtract from the estimate which I gave of this problem last spring.

Now, we were told that this was a pretence of dealing with the problem. I never claimed that this is going to deal with the problem in toto. No man who has given a moment's consideration to the matter can deny that no possible scheme which the Government could put into operation would deal with more than 25 per cent. of the deserving cases. If you consider the figures concerned with this problem, I cannot see how there can be any doubt about it. Last spring I gave the figure of 5 per cent. as being approximately— as being at least a shot—at the losses.

Do you mean 5 per cent. for the whole country?


Yes. Assume that it was only 2½ per cent. That percentage, when applied to 350,000 farmers, would mean about 17,000. If you give each of the 17,000 farmers £50, the total would be £850,000. Deputies have talked about the decimation of flocks and herds. I am talking of a 2½ per cent. loss. Remember that the normal mortality amongst live-stock is close up to that; that is, the normal mortality from old age and one thing or another. I am not talking of flocks or herds being decimated; I am not talking of Egyptian plague, or anything of that sort. I say that if you were to attempt to deal with only 2½ per cent. of the farmers, you would require to put up £850,000 in order to give them a loan of £50 apiece. Addition and subtraction are non-political and nonsectarian. I doubt very much if the figures I have given will be questioned. Let us assume we had £850,000 put up for the purposes of fluke. Deputies will, of course, remember that money comes out of the pockets of the other farmers.

Yes; we know that.


Assume you did that. I am sure, with the exception of Deputy Johnson, who has announced that he proposes to oppose every proposal that comes from the Government benches, not because of its merits, but because of a Labour dispute, you would all agree that it was rather a big sum.

Deputy Johnson said nothing of the kind.


We will, perhaps, deal with that again. It would be a rather considerable sum. I dare say if £850,000 were put up Deputies would look cheerfully for £1,000,000, and if £500,000 were put up I am sure a little more would be sought. I am trying to face this matter on its merits. I am trying to face the problem in a business way and to give the real reasons that convinced me that the scheme proposed by Deputy Baxter, the loan scheme, is the wrong way to deal with it. As I have said, £850,000 constitutes a big sum which will come out, to a very great extent, of the other farmers' pockets.

They are prepared to pay.


They are prepared to pay? The money comes out of the pockets of the other farmers, who are working hard trying to make ends meet. Let us say that the money is made available by the Minister for Finance. I wonder how many applications would we have? Would we not have 15 per cent. instead of 2½ per cent.? Deputies will agree, I am sure, that that is the very least we would have. Will any Deputy who faces the problem seriously tell me how any Government Department could institute a scrutiny close enough to get down to the deserving 2½ per cent. out of the 15 per cent. applications? I am trying to use accurate minimum figures.

How did they do it in the North?


I will come to that. That is a rather helpless point of view. I suppose the Northern people are able to think out their own problems. I assume Deputy Wilson would hardly go to the North to find out how they work out their mental processes; he may think himself sufficiently competent to know how they arrived at their figures. I use the figure 15 per cent. as the minimum. You would have fully that percentage applying for the money allocated by the Minister for Finance. Giving 2½ per cent. of the farmers £50 apiece would mean an outlay of £850,000. Will any Deputy tell me how a Government Department would be able to institute a scrutiny close enough to sift that 15 per cent. down to the 2½ per cent. that would represent cases really deserving? Of course, we are blamed for not being infallible. I have never claimed that I am infallible.

God forbid.


It is the implication to be drawn from Deputy Corish's criticism on a good many occasions. But, looking at this in a business-like way, is there any chance that that would happen? Deputy Wilson and every member on the Farmers' Benches knows what would happen, and it is mere pretence to say that what I have stated would not happen. It is because I do not stand for pretence in dealing with this problem by this loan system that I am against it. Neither do I claim—I would be long sorry to do so—that the system of credit societies is going to meet it in toto, but in time it will.

How many years will it take?


Let me develop the point. I interrupted the Deputy, I agree. That is No. 1. As to No. 2, Deputy Johnson announced to the public the other day that he proposed to do anything and everything he could to bring the present Ministry to an end.

Hear, hear.


And, of course, he opposed this. As I hope I am able to draw ordinary deductions from ordinary plain English, I am very well aware that the Deputy opposed this in pursuance of the undertaking which he gave to the country. He did not oppose it on its merits, but merely because of some other dispute which has absolutely nothing whatever to do with this question. He adopted, if I may say so, a superior attitude. He lectured certain members of this party on economics. He told them that really they knew very little about these things.

I was only judging by their speeches.


He gave the idea that he could teach them a lot on economics. He stated, in a sort of ex cathedra way, and as a sort of infallible economist, that he could give you the latest theories from all the Fabian tracts. He stated everybody knew that, while credit societies could deal with the ordinary credit needs of the farming community, they were never intended by anyone, and could never have been intended by anyone, to deal with a special emergency. That is a very interesting point of view. I want to point out to Deputy Johnson that, even though he may be infallible, I will have to take the liberty of having my own opinions in the matter, and to point out to him further that when we debated this question, as Deputy Wilson reminded us, six months ago, he did not state on that occasion that credit societies, of necessity and of their very nature, were incapable of dealing with an emergency. He only discovered that since the Shannon wages dispute.

I am willing to learn by experience, even from the Minister.


I am glad it is from experience the Deputy learned that. From the way the Deputy announced it he led me to assume it was the fundamental economic doctrine of a great economist who knew all about this. Of course, the ignoramuses— someone referred with a certain amount of amusement to professors— on the Government benches did not know these things. Now the Deputy admits that he is like the rest of us, and that his deductions are not philosophical and abstract, but rather that he deduces from experience. I think, therefore, I may take it that he is not an a priori economist.

What is all this about?

When is the Minister going to talk to the motion?


The point I am making is that you must look at this problem in perspective. There is no use in talking about flocks and herds being decimated. We will not reach any real conclusions until the problem is stated as it really is. In considering the steps to be taken to deal with this problem, any responsible Minister for Finance would have to consider whether he would be entitled to make public funds obtained from taxation on the farmers of the country available to meet this problem, or whether these funds could not be more reasonably spent in another direction. You have, I say, to look at this problem in its proper perspective. I pointed out in the debate on this question before that the annual losses, the unavoidable losses, through contagious abortion were far greater than the losses that have occurred through fluke this year. I wonder are there any dairy farmers here who would venture to disagree with me on that.

I venture to disagree with you to this extent, that the effect would not be the same at all in the two cases. In the one case you lose the offspring, but in this case you lose the cow and all.


Would the Deputy go any further than to say that it will have a different effect? Would he venture to deny that in the bulk—I am not talking now of any particular district but am taking the country as a whole—the losses from contagious abortion are far greater than the losses this year through fluke disease?

Were the losses from fluke additional to the losses from contagious abortion?


Yes. As I have stated already, to consider this problem you must put it in its proper perspective. Deputy Johnson, in answer to the Minister for Justice the other day, boasted that he was proud to say that he stood for a policy whereby a farmer in the country, qua taxpayer, had to pay a far higher wage to labour working outside his own farm than he could pay to labour working on his own farm. The Deputy boasted of that.

What has this got to do with the motion?


I am putting the problem in its perspective. I repeat that Deputy Johnson boasted of that fact, and said he was proud of it. He said it was due to the inefficiency of the farmers, and I want to tell the farmers of the country that if they are really enthusiastic in giving relief to agriculture they have there a problem which it would pay them to tackle, and to tackle seriously.

We will get advice from the P.M.G.


I want to state, speaking for the largest party in this House——

The farmers are keeping very silent on it.

They are not here at all. They are out on the Lobby.


I assure the Deputy that if I was not under the necessity of speaking on this motion I would not do it. With regard to credit generally, I am of opinion that there is too much credit of the wrong kind in the country and not enough credit of the right kind. If you go into any parish in the country, any district you like, you will find there from 60 or 70 per cent. of the farmers who are sound and who, as a rule, are very hardworking, intelligent farmers. They are sound financially and otherwise. Then you will find a balance who are not nearly as well off, with a tail of 15 per cent. that are really badly off. Now credit would be really useful to the 60 per cent., and that is the real credit problem of this country, and every farmer knows it, in so far as there is a need for short-term loans. The real use of agricultural credit is for the 60 per cent. of farmers who know how to use it. I will go further and say in regard to the 30 per cent. or the 15 per cent., that is to say the people who are worst off, that credit is of more harm than good to them unless it is given extremely judiciously and unless it is supervised in the closest possible manner. Now it is 15 per cent. we are dealing with, because everybody knows that if money were made available this 15 per cent. would apply for it. If they are to get credit the credit must be strictly calculated so as to bear some reasonable proportion to their security, and to the possibilities of their handling the money economically when provided with it, and, so far as the great percentage of them is concerned, too much credit too readily obtainable would do them more harm than good. When I state that, I am stating nothing that any farmer, in his heart of hearts, will not agree with. Remember it is that 15 per cent. that is certain to apply. The moment it becomes known that the State is making money available for loan purposes they apply immediately, and become energetic, and make a real good try to obtain it, and use all the influence they know how to obtain it. That type of man is the man always looking to obtain money at a cheap rate and always hoping that, if you like, he will be able to pay it back. These are the sort of people who would apply.

I have shown that £750,000 would not deal with more than 2½ per cent. of those people, and I ask how many of the actual 2½ per cent. who would get it would find it useful unless they got it in very small doses and were very strictly supervised and had a full realisation that they had to pay it back. I put these considerations to the Farmers' Party for what they are worth. I have shown what it would take to deal with only 2½ per cent. of the farmers of the country, giving them only a small loan of £50 each. I tried to show that so far as the farmers of the country are concerned 15 per cent. would apply; that loans would only be useful to them provided they were very small loans that they could reasonably handle, and provided there was the closest possible scrutiny and supervision, and I have shown that no machinery the State could adopt would enable the State so to discriminate as to sift out that 2½ per cent. that would get loans and supervise the spending of the money afterwards. These are the reasons, whether they be good or bad, for which I oppose this loan system, and I oppose it with the full knowledge that one of the big questions agriculturally is this question of credit. I am as anxious as any Deputy to see this very big question of agricultural credit tackled as it should be, but I do not want it to be side-tracked. I do not want the temporary misfortunes of this sort used for the purpose of rushing us into credits that are no good to anybody, and which can only have the effect of increasing taxation and taking money out of the pockets of the hard-worked farmers of the country, and to give it out in such a way that it would be of no use to the men who receive it.

No use to a man to be able to buy a cow if he lost one; that is the problem.


That is merely, as Deputy Baxter knows, shutting his eyes. If I had £50 to spare, which I have not, and if I wanted to lend it to a neighbour or somebody else that I knew, I could easily pick out a man who lost cows and whom I know would make good use of it. But Deputy Baxter knows that is not the position. The position is where you have something like 40,000 or 50,000 people applying for a loan and the State, through the Department of Agriculture here in Dublin, has to sift them down to 2½ per cent. of that number. It could not be done, and in its results it would do no more than I have said, namely, that the effect of such a scheme would be to take the money out of the pockets of the hard-worked farmers and put it into the pockets of others.

They are all hardworking, even the men who lost their cattle.


Not all, but a good many of them. It would be taking the money out of the pockets of the hard-worked farmer and giving it to people, and so far as 50 per cent. of the people who receive it are concerned, it would do more harm than good. That is the problem, and whether credit societies are the right way of solving the problem or not, the problem is there, and I think I have stated it correctly.

The Minister speaks of 2½ per cent., and that appears to be 2½ per cent. of the stock, but most of his arguments seem to be about 2½ per cent. of the farmers. Would he disentangle this matter?


I am assuming that the number of farmers who would apply would represent, roughly, the amount of stock lost. It will not make much difference.

There is an assumption in all this argument from figures that the loss is spread evenly over the whole country and all the farmers. The case made is that in districts some groups of farmers side by side, neighbours in groups, have lost cattle. In other districts in the country no cattle were lost beyond the normal. Now, to talk of the percentages of farmers, and mix that up with the percentage of stock is quite misleading.


I disagree. It is not misleading to say, first of all, for the purpose of argument, that we propose to deal with only 2½ per cent. of the farmers of the country and that to give them £50 a piece would mean £750,000. There is nothing misleading in that, whether they be in this district or in that district, whether they be spread over the country evenly or whether they be confined to special districts; it is not misleading to say that to give a loan of £50 to 2½ per cent. of the farmers of the country would mean £850,000. That is point number one.

Now, with regard to number two, Deputy Johnson stated that the ravages of fluke were confined to certain districts. To say that it was confined to certain districts would be wrong. They are most serious in some districts than in others. The fact is that there are certain districts in the country that you could schedule as fluke areas, but, on the other hand, there have been losses to a smaller extent in other areas, and all our experience in connection with the applications that have come in regard to the setting up of credit societies showed that cases had been made from practically every district, whether rightly or wrongly, for loans on account of fluke.

Deputies will remember that the Ministry of Finance made it a condition of the scheme that these credit societies should not be organised except in districts where losses from fluke had occurred. Now, in practice, that never stopped us on a single occasion, because you will always, in fact, find people to say, "Well, fluke occurred here." I am not now saying that fluke occurred in every district. I know it did not. I know there are special areas which were more hardly hit, but I am saying that in practice the consideration that fluke did not occur in a certain district is not going to stop a single man from applying and from putting up the case that there was a certain loss one way or another.

You would be no good if you were not able to examine his case and see whether it was sound or not.


In any event, even if we had scheduled certain districts, the congested districts, Kildare, Cork, counties like Leix, and so on, does any Deputy say that the number of applications which we would receive would not mean applications from 15 per cent. of all the farmers? I have no doubt most of them would, and, what is more——

No, they would not.


I am saying that you would receive applications from 15 per cent. of the farmers. I did not understand that it was the proposal of the Farmers' Party that any county should be precluded from applying. I do not think it is. I am open to contradiction if I am wrong, but I certainly did not understand that the proposal was that certain counties should be excluded. It was not. There was no such proposal, and, in any event, it makes very little difference. You would want to cut down the area to a very small area, or at least 15 per cent. of the farmers would apply.

Had you not already scheduled nine districts?


Yes, and I am saying that afterwards that condition was waived, and it was stated——

Waived! How?

Not to our knowledge.


The Dáil was not sitting.

And you lent £3,500?


That is not the point. I hope Deputies do not object to the Minister waiving the condition. He waived it, and that was announced to every organiser.

I know that we agreed to this. It was an agreement that these credit societies should be established in nine counties. Until the Minister made his statement now we were unaware that any change was made.


That may be, but when the Dáil was sitting this matter was discussed, and at that time the application of this scheme was confined to nine counties. Afterwards I approached the Ministry of Finance myself—I hope I was not wrong—and I said I would like them to consider applications from any other county in which losses occurred and the Minister agreed. Surely the Deputy does not quarrel with me for that, but in any event to go back to the point, our experience was that we had applications from practically every county. I do not say that losses occurred there, but you had these applications, and I say, that even if you do in fact confine the areas, limit them in any way you like, you will have to limit it to a very small area indeed or you will have applications from 15 per cent. of the farmers. Then I go and I ask you is it possible to discriminate? How is it possible for any State machinery to get down to the 2½ per cent. who really did lose and further to invesigate so as to discover how much money would be really useful to them and, finally, to superintend the spending of that money? And yet, so far as a very great percentage of these people are concerned, credits are no good to them except small credits and credits given for a specific purpose, and the spending of the money supervised afterwards. If that is the position, I suggest that it is wrong to say that we are making any pretence in this credit scheme. I say the other scheme is a pretence.

A pretence?


I do not say the Deputy means it, but I say it is a pretence in the sense that it is utterly inadequate to meet the problem. I say you would have nothing after it except a very limited number of small farmers more in debt than they were before.

What do you take the small farmers to be? Do you think that if they get money they will throw it into the river?


The Deputy had every opportunity to say what he wanted to say on this thing, and he said it. I am entitled to the same opportunity. I know the small farmers as well as the Deputy. I have pointed out that so far as 60 or 70 per cent. of the farmers are concerned credits would be useful to them, but so far as about 15 per cent. of the remainder are concerned they are people whose present position is this, that credits would not be useful to them except in small amounts for a specific purpose and accompanied by the closest superintendence. No State department can do that.

Except they live over the Border.


I will come to that. I have been told that these credits were made available by the Northern Government. The fact that the Northern Government made these credits available is really not evidence in itself that the considerations which I have put forward are unsound. I told Deputy Gorey that they had lent £37,000 and he said: "Look at that. Compare £37,000 with £5,000."



I would like to know how much of that £37,000 would have been lent if the Northern Government had never come into the scheme. The conditions are that two fully solvent sureties must go to the bank and must guarantee the loan.

Must they not do the same in the case of the credit society?



The point is relevant.

The Minister is the only person allowed to interrupt here.


I have had a fair number of interruptions. That is one of the conditions, and I wonder how much of this £37,500 would have been lent by the Northern banks, even if this preliminary form which is sent to the Department of Agriculture in Belfast, were not filled in at all. I have been endeavouring to get some real information on this Northern scheme, and I put it to Deputies that it may mean, as any business man examining the scheme for himself would see, very much less than it means on its face. The farmer does get his money at 2½ per cent., and £37,000, which would give loans of £50 to about 500 farmers, has been given out. But the farmer must go there absolutely solvent himself and with two absolutely solvent sureties. Is that the sort of farmer that the Deputy wants to deal with? It may very well be that this £37,000 would have been lent if the Northern Government had never intervened. No one knows the arrangement between the Northern Government and the banks.

At 2½ per cent.?


There is the advantage of the 2½ per cent., but it is no advantage to give money at 2½ per cent. to a certain class of people if you are really aiming at giving money to another class. I do not know what the arrangement between the Northern Government and the banks was, and I have been unable to find it out, but I know that on the face of that scheme it is quite possible that most of that £37,000 would have been given out if the Northern Government had never intervened, and that the only thing that has been done is that certain people, who would get the money from the banks in any event as ordinary borowers, are now getting it for two years at 2 per cent. less. If that is so, and I make that suggestion, how does it touch our present position? Deputies do not want to reach people who can get money from the banks. Deputies are not concerned with the sort of farmers whose security is itself sufficient to enable him to get money from the bank and who is able to get two solvent sureties.

I do not want to get the money at 5 or 6 per cent.


Deputies, I pointed out, are not concerned to any great extent with the kind of farmer who is able to get money on his own security, and who is able to get what a bank manager would call two solvent sureties. I understood that Deputies were concerned rather with the other class, the class that could not get credit from the bank at the moment. So far as the Northern scheme is concerned, I do suggest it is possible that every penny of that £37,000 would have come out of the banks if the Government had never intervened. I stated that I did not consider at any time that this loan scheme would deal in toto with the fluke. I never had any such illusions. But I do state that it is the only way at present, the only temporary arrangement, under which you can effectively make credits available to the small farmer who belongs to the class that I have mentioned, not to the 60 or 70 per cent. of people who are sound, but who belongs to the other class, the class that are not security for large loans, the class to whom loans are no good unless they are small loans which they can economically handle, and the class that must be supervised in the spending of these loans. That is really the point of view that I had in the matter, and I see no way of doing that except by the credit societies, and for this reason: assume that a credit society is formed.

Assume it is!


I will take it now step by step. A credit society is formed in a district. No one wants the big farmers —I want to remind Deputy Johnson of that—to come along and put their money in. The big farmers did not put in their money in Tralee, where there is four or five thousand pounds going out, and it is extending every day. Again, the big farmers did not put their money into the three societies that are formed in the poorest county in Ireland, Leitrim.

Three new societies.



And working?



Would the Minister name them?


I gave them to the Deputy on question and answer.

They are not new societies.


Certainly. It was not the big farmers who put their money into these new societies in Leitrim and Tralee; it was the small farmers. What happens in a case like that? The small farmer in such a case wants £22 or £23 to buy a cow, or to meet any emergency you like. Such a man is generally able to find £5 or £10. Anyone who knows the economy of the small farmer knows that when an emergency occurs it usually happens that a man is able to find £5, £6, or £10, but not the whole of what he requires. All these people met and pooled their resources, and for every £1 they put in the Government put in £2. That came to something like a couple of thousand pounds. I will give the Deputy the figures. Kiltogher and Eslin Bridge are the new societies in Leitrim. Carrigallen is an old one that is extended.

What amount was paid out to Kiltogher and Eslin Bridge?


Six hundred pounds is the total in Kiltogher. Eslin Bridge is £867; Tralee is £2,685. They have applied to-day for £300 odd and are getting it. There is not a single shopkeeper, I am informed, in the Tralee Society; they are all small farmers, none of them farmers like those you see in Tipperary, Waterford and Kildare, but small farmers, most of whom have to live on uneconomic and miserable holdings, in the case of Leitrim, of £10, £11 and £12 valuation. And they have met, in a county where there was very strong opposition to these credit societies. They started without delay and are going ahead, and we expect further demands immediately from these societies. While I do not anticipate any quick developments in these counties, or in any counties, I anticipate that the fact of these societies being successfully started in a county like Leitrim will bring about other societies also, as there is another society about to be registered in Kerry one of these days. These small farmers met and pooled their little resources. They made up their minds that this agitation for getting free gifts would not come to anything.

Who asked for free gifts?


If the Deputy asks me the question I will answer him. But Deputy Baxter did not. But a great many branches of the Farmers' Union all over the country sent resolutions to me asking for grants.

We do not want grants, and no Deputy on these benches ever asked for grants.


I can do no more than say that no Deputy on the Farmers' benches asked for grants, but individual branches of the Farmers' Union throughout the country did ask for grants, and undoubtedly the persistent demand for grants and loans in the beginning did a good deal to stop the immediate formation of these societies. These societies were not popular, I agree. People would prefer to get the money directly. It is an unfortunate point of view at the moment, but people do prefer to get the money directly. They do not want to go to all the trouble and organisation that would be entailed in setting up these societies, and for a long time branches of the Farmers' Union, and I will go further and say, branches of the Cumann na nGaedheal—not so many, though—sent in resolution after resolution on this question.

Not so many.


I am perfectly satisfied from reports I have received that probably the principal causes for the delay in making a beginning with these societies was the belief, fostered by organisations, and mainly by branches of the Farmers' Union throughout the country, that they were going to get grants in some cases, and in other cases loans. The people in counties like Leitrim and Kerry made up their minds that they were not going to get them and they formed their societies. They pooled their savings and they are now in a position to make small loans. The societies are extending very slowly, but they are extending. If a man comes up and wants a loan of £18, £20, or £25 that would be useful to him he is known to his neighbours. He knows that he is spending his neighbour's money and that it is not the money of a far-away entity like the State. He knows that he will meet his neighbours going to Mass or at fair or market. Undoubtedly, he will be far more careful how he spends that money and more careful to repay it than if he was getting a grant of £50 which might probably swamp him.

A grant would never swamp anyone.


A loan. That is the only effective way that I can see for dealing with the problem of the very small farmer in counties like Leitrim, Roscommon and so on, who want, not big loans that are no good to them, but small loans. They realise that they have to spend it carefully as they have to pay it back. That is my method of meeting the problem. I know that these societies will develop very slowly. In the past they developed slowly, mainly because the local authorities, the county councils, and branches of the Farmers' Unions did not give them the chance they were entitled to. I remember that in the first fortnight after the Government's decision five or six resolutions were received from branches of the Farmers' Union in Clare saying: "It is no good; this will not do; we want loans." We got them also from other councils. The people themselves were not anxious. Farmers are not particularly anxious to organise themselves for business purposes. They hoped to get the money by holding up the scheme. But we have got societies started in counties like Leitrim.

I will talk about Leitrim when the Minister is finished and I will ask Deputy Dolan to represent the views there.


I am speaking from information and I say that the people started these societies in Leitrim. These societies are functioning and I expect other societies will function. We have started a society in Tralee in which there is not a single shopkeeper and practically no big farmers. The money was deposited by small farmers in mountainy holdings in Kerry and at present they have practically £3,000. These are facts and in the light of these facts there is no use in saying, in counties like Kilkenny, Tipperary, Waterford and the midlands, that there is not enough money to start these societies. They can be started.

We have not asked for them there. There is no necessity for them.


I am glad to hear that. if they can be started in Leitrim they can be started anywhere in Ireland. I am giving figures and Deputies can challenge them. There is one parish— Kiltogher—where the State subscribed £200 and the people £400. In another parish £867 is subscribed.

How many members have they?


I have not the number. £867 is a small amount, but, spent on really deserving cases, it will do more good than eight thousand times £867 would do if spent without proper supervision and went to the wrong people. I am not making any promise about credit societies. I say that it would be mere pretence for me to ask the Minister for Finance to put up loans amounting to, say, £1,000,000 for farmers for this purpose. I have given my reasons for doing that. I have shown that it would be impossible to get down to the 2½ per cent. of farmers who really need the money. The results you would have would be that a certain number of farmers would be in a worse condition than they were at the beginning. I shall make no comments with regard to small societies. They will develop only very slowly in this country for reasons that everyone is aware of—the slowness of the average farmer to organise for business purposes. The feeling of the Government is that they will develop.

When fluke is forgotten, in two or three years, you will have something there that will meet the needs of the small farmers. They are the ones I am concerned with. I am not concerned with the big farmers, even where there are big losses, as they might be better off to set some of their land rather than restock it. If a big farmer has plenty of land he has fair security. I am not concerned with that problem, though there are hard cases. I am talking about Leitrim, Donegal and Kerry, where the small farmers are concerned, and I see no other effective way of dealing with the fluke problem as it should be dealt with.

The loan system would be a mere pretence, nothing else, and would be waste of money, in my opinion. On the other hand, in County Leitrim, or counties in a similar condition, if the people could be organised, they will be able to make small loans to small farmers. That will go somewhere to meet the losses, and meet them gradually and slowly. When fluke is forgotten you would have these societies functioning. They will be there for the provision of seeds, fertilisers, and for other purposes, and will be doing real education work for farmers, and amongst the farmers who want it badly.

The Minister has made a very interesting and a very clever speech, but he said little about the problem we are discussing for the last six months. He has talked about percentages and averages, but I say that that is misleading, perhaps not deliberately. What is the use of talking about 2½ per cent. of the farmers of the Saorstát? We are not dealing with the farmers of the Saorstát. We are dealing with the farmers in five or six counties who have been, badly hit, who have been thrown down and cannot get up. We are not dealing with the case of a man who wants £22 or £23 to replace one cow. We are dealing with the cases of men who had five or six cows and who have none now, or with men who had ten cows, nine of which died. We are asked to believe that credit societies are going to deal with this problem, that the Minister says will run pretty well into one million pounds if the figures were known. He is asking these societies to deal with this big problem. Nobody with any common sense will deny the usefulness of credit societies in normal times to meet normal losses but, when you are dealing with a plague of this description, it is obviously impossible for credit societies to do so before £1 is subscribed. I do not think any sane man would say that credit societies could deal with this problem at the moment. Even if those societies were societies of long standing they could not deal with it, but to expect you to deal with a problem of this description, without any organisation, without the question ever having been discussed or put to the test, is asking for the utterly impossible. It is not asking for the success of credit societies. It is asking for the death of credit societies at their birth.

Deputy Tierney has said that these societies would help to supply pigs to people. So they could. They could help to supply sows to breed pigs. The cost would be two or three pounds. It might be even £10 or £15, but when you come to deal with £200 to an applicant, what can you do then? Those losses have occurred in townlands. No one was immune. Everyone had a common loss. Where was the money supposed to come from, and where were your credit societies going to get a foundation? What I said yesterday was that the ordinary resident of the district who might not have had much loss and who happened to have a few pounds would be slow to put money into a society of that description, and Deputy Beamish told us that because an individual would not come to the help of his neighbour the State owed the individual nothing. That was the gospel of Deputy Beamish that I and a few others here may have suffered loss. Then if Deputy Beamish refused to go to our assistance the State would be absolved from coming to our assistance.

What I really said was that the farmers, or those who could come to the assistance of the poorer farmers, should do so. That is borne out when the farmers acknowledge that they will pay the £750,000 if they are taxed for it. They are only asked to produce £250,000 under this scheme. Let them produce it and the scheme is a success.

Why should the State come in if the farmers will not help themselves? If the Deputy is not responsible for what he said, then I will not raise the point.

Deputy Gorey ought not to make a statement of that kind in relation to a Deputy.

The words are there. If he proposes to explain them they are all right.

I ask Deputy Gorey to withdraw that remark.

I do not know what to withdraw, but I withdraw anything you ask me. Where great losses have occurred in Kerry, in Clare, in Galway, perhaps, and in some of the other counties, it is asking too much from the residents in those districts who have met those losses to put money into societies. If they had another year like last year the whole lot would be swamped. They would have no security. Anyone knowing the country will recognise the slowness of members of the societies to proceed against their neighbours in case they fail to pay. It needs somebody behind them besides local societies to go to the extreme limit in enforcing the law in this connection. People are anxious to avoid a position of this description.

Is not the Government behind those loans? The Government is contributing part of the funds.

The Government are giving £2 where there is £1 and they leave it to the credit societies to recover.

They ask a guarantee of the credit society for the money they give.

The credit society is security for the Government, and the individual is security for the credit society. From whatever cause this problem has occurred, whether it is fluke, starvation or anything else, the problem is there and that problem has to be dealt with or the nation has to pay the loss. There is no getting away from it. I made it my business to visit people in North Kerry and I found people who lost 10 or 11 cows. That occurred to one individual and he has not been able to replace them. He has got in two. There are seven still to be made good which he cannot make good. That is a loss to the individual and to the nation. He cannot pay his annuities or anything else and that is only an example of what is occurring in the counties. I say this scheme of credit societies cannot reasonably be expected to meet the situation. This is an urgent problem. There is only one way to meet it and that is by a generous loan.

I say it will.

There is no use in talking about 2½ per cent. of the farmers of the Sáorstát. Some machinery for finding out deserving cases in credit societies is available in the same way as that of finding out deserving cases in the way of a loan. There is nothing to prevent you. You may put credit societies aside as a means of meeting this proposition. You have to deal with the problem by some other means. What is the best means, then? I say this is the only thing that offers. The Minister has talked about undesirables. There is a percentage of undesirables in every community. They have been in this as they have been in any other country.

I do not think I referred to them as undesirables.

You said they were people to whom it would be undesirable to give money.

Except under certain conditions.

Very well. I realise that if loans were available in the morning, and if credit societies were to be formed, the first people coming in would be those who would be considered as undesirable. Machinery must be set up to get rid of the undesirables. We do not want to give money to undesirables; we want to give money to people stricken down, and who cannot get up, and the credit societies will not do it.

There is no use in making the attempt unless it is a real, genuine attempt. I know, with the best wishes in the world, the Minister believes, and some of us were inclined to agree, that this was a genuine attempt, and that it would deal with the question. We now find, however, that it does not, and we have abandoned the idea, knowing its impossibility. If we are determined to deal with the question now, let us do so in the right way, and we maintain that the only way to do it is by loan. It is very easy to ascertain the position. Send round inspectors, if necessary, and let them find out the ordinary number of cows which a farmer had. Let them find out the usual carrying capacity of a farm, and what it is carrying at the moment. If the farmer has a good character in the district, and can get security, give him a loan.

I would be prepared to die at the stake, if Deputy Gorey insists on it, in the belief that the Minister for Agriculture has the rights of this matter as against the Farmers' Party. I never read a speech made by any of the half dozen ex-colonels who controlled the Farmers' Union in which the Government was not denounced for extravagant, wildcat schemes of one kind or another or ill-conceived legislation. Yet the Farmers' Party come forward to the Dáil with the suggestion that they should be enabled to go down the country and tell their friends that there is money in Merrion Street for any of them who lost stock last winter. Then the problem begins to commence, so to speak, and applications pour in. How are they to be dealt with? Deputy Gorey says, "Send round inspectors if necessary." Does he think it would be necessary? Does he think it is a matter that can be dealt with on paper by taking the word of a man who writes up and says: "I lost 9 heifers and 35 young sheep last winter"? How many inspectors would it be necessary to send round, and what would the ex-colonel say at the next meeting?

The ex-colonel is a fine red herring.

What would the ex-colonel say about bloated staffs, about highly-paid officials, about the people who are going round the country poking their noses into the farmer's business by wanting to know whether a man lost 9 cattle and 35 sheep? When proposals of that kind are made you must have some advertence to the overhead and administrative expenses which would be entailed. We are supposed to say: "There is money on tap in the Department of Agriculture, or in the Department of Finance, for people who lost cattle last December," and leave it at that. Then the applications come in. What kind of tribunal would be necessary to sift these applications? Inspectors without local knowledge are to go round.

Use your county instructors.


How many of them?

The ones who gave you the information already.


One or two?

Deputy Gorey got an opportunity of speaking in the debate and if any Deputy has not already spoken he can speak later.

These officials are to be sent round the country to sift applications and make inquiries whether they are genuine or not, but what form are these inquiries to take? Are they to call on the man, have a talk with him, look at his farm, and call on his neighbour, who, perhaps, wants to do a bit of a turn, and who will not be a bad fellow by letting down poor Tom, and who may say, "If he did not lose the stock itself, God knows he could do with £50," I would like to be the ex-colonel at one or two meetings, and have the criticism of that particular scheme.

Is it a grant or a loan? He has to pay back the loan.

He has, and when it comes to paying it back no one would be so dolefully sympathetic as Deputy Baxter about the harsh measures the Government were using to recover this money, and nobody would talk so much about the inequity of sending out the under-sheriffs to collect the money from these poverty-stricken people.

I have not done it.

Deputy Baxter can be very sympathetic about things like that. The position is that the Farmers' Party are to have it every way. They are to tell their friends that there is money above in Dublin for those who lost their stock last winter. They are to be at liberty to criticise the expense of the administration of that scheme. They are to be at liberty to talk about the horde of interfering officials who are poking their noses into the business of farmers; they are to be at liberty to talk about extravagance, and to criticise taxation, and to say, "Why on earth is not taxation reduced?" Finally, if there is an attempt to recover any loans, they are to be at liberty to criticise the hardhearted, inhuman Government who sent out the under-sheriffs to collect the money.

I, like my colleagues, thought that if we managed and tried our best to get one or two societies started, others would possibly follow. As Deputy Baxter said last night, I accompanied him to the first meeting of the new County Council in Cavan, expecting to get a fair welcome there, but after a considerable amount of criticism we were told that we might go back to the Government and say that their proposal was of no value. We thought that even if we failed with the county council the publication of the discussion in the local papers would create a certain amount of discussion throughout the country and that inquiries would be made as to the possibility of starting societies. I consequently attended other meetings with Deputy Dr. O'Reilly, but the result was the same. The county organiser attended, and we explained the proposal at length, but it was of no value. We could not get a man to put in a single pound. I am chairman of a creamery society and, knowing the distress that there is in our parish, I introduced the matter at a meeting of the society. Another man and I proposed to head the list in case we got support for the project. In the creamery we had a certain amount of money on hands, and we proposed to add this to the fund so as to raise £100. It was no use, and I was not surprised, for I have known cases where farmers who had lost cows had not a penny to replace them.

I think I may safely say I was the first member of the House to raise this question. I suggested to the Minister for Agriculture that he should make inquiries through the country with the aid of the Civic Guard. He did not do so, and if he had done so, he would give a more sympathetic hearing to the pleading we now put forward. I am aware he made certain inquiries through creamery managers, but men who are not paid for a job are careless about it in many ways, and consequently particulars that might be obtained would not be got. In addition, it must be considered that many of these small farmers would, perhaps, minimise their losses through pride, and there would be cases where dishonest men might try to exaggerate their losses if they thought there was anything to be gained by it. I do not think the inquiries were made in the proper way. I listened with great interest to Deputy Tierney's speech in the hope of hearing what he had done or proposed to do. I waited to hear if it was a fact that there was such a society started, or such a proposal considered by the committee of his County Council, and whether it was turned down as a complete failure. I would like an answer, yes or no, as to that. If he failed in his attempt, what is the use of trying to prolong the agony? Why not admit, as others of us have to admit, that the scheme is not a success, and is not likely to be so. I think the Deputy argued that the farmers must try and help themselves in the future. I agree it is time that the farmers should make a move to do that, but it must be remembered that we had not such a bad season as the last one within the memory of any member of the House, and I would say it is now the real pinch of that bad season. If the Minister will not agree the losses are as severe as have been stated, and as I hold they are, I ask him how does he account for the great number of decrees going out from the Land Commission? If these people had cattle, or even a cow, to sell, it is not likely they would be inviting the sheriffs to their doors. I think in that, even if there were no other evidence, we have sufficient proof in that that the people are in poverty. Deputy Beamish made the very strong point that, because the farmers do not help one another by the way of going security for one another, the Government had no right to do so either. I consider these are two different propositions altogether. The farmers, looking at it from a selfish point of view, have nothing to gain by helping their neighbours, while the Government have everything to gain, because, if the Government assist the farmers in the way the farmers assist them by paying rents, they will get the money back again in a short time. I would suggest that the Government, through the Land Commission, should allow the farmers to raise a small loan in the bank. The Land Commission are in the position of knowing the character of the men who apply for the loan. They will know whether in bygone years they have kept their engagements by the payment of their annuities, and in that way they would have a good idea as to the character of the applicants. It would be a very easy matter for the Government to advance to a small holder a few pounds on his land security. The Land Commission could earmark that land in such a way that it could not be sold or in any way disposed of, and if the loan afterwards was not paid it would be impossible for the farmer to sell the land until the loan had been paid. If the arrears of payment had accrued for a certain number of years, the Land Commission would have the same means of recovering the loan as they would have of recovering the annuity.


Does the Deputy mean that no loan is to be made to any man who is in arrears with his annuities or other charges?

If the arrears are only for a year or two I would not take that into account, but if the arrears are for a number of years past that should be considered. Another matter is that, if the farmers advance this money to a credit society, they would want collateral security, or mortgage on the farm, and that would increase the cost of the loan very considerably. I happen to know a good deal about that. The Minister does not seem to realise that a small loan to farmers would be of great assistance. If the Minister went down the country he would find farmers frequently hanging about around the banks.


I stated expressly that a small loan would be of assistance under certain conditions.

At the same time the Minister does not think that it is of great advantage to farmers to get loans. I wonder does he know that farmers have to struggle at present to pay, as I know, in many cases the exorbitant interest of 20 per cent. It is cases like this the Government should assist. When a man has to pay exorbitant interest on a loan it is difficult for him to repay the loan. If the Government would lend money at 2½ per cent. interest it should be of advantage to the farmers. The Minister has laid great stress on the £750,000—I think this is the figure he calculates will be necessary. Supposing the farmers did borrow £750,000 through the banks, and that the farmer paid 2½ per cent. and the Government paid the balance, it would amount to something less than £200,000, which would be a mere bagatelle in comparison with the value of the land that would be given as security to the Government. In the meantime the Government would have the rents coming in, so that a good deal of the money would be coming back in a short time. I would like to compare the figures of the present loan society with what they would be supposing the Government authorised the bank to advance money at 2½ per cent. on the security of the land. The Government propose to give £200 for every £100 raised, and on the £100 they are willing to pay 4 per cent.—I presume they will be paying 5 per cent. on the other £200 which they would advance. That would be £300, and the cost would be £14. If they would advance the £300 through the banks at 2½ per cent. it would only cost £7 10s.


£200 free of interest for the first three years.

To the credit society, not to the borrower.


And the earnings go to the credit society for any purposes they wish to devote them to.

Has not the borrower to pay 5 per cent. to the credit society?


The borrowers, to a great extent, are the members of the society.

That is a ridiculous thing for the Minister to say.

Although the Government are giving the £200 free of interest, it must cost them something. I presume they have not got the £200 without first having to apply to the bank. In any case, it is worth 5 per cent.

The percentage is 5½.

I will take it in round numbers at 5 per cent. I would measure the £300 given to the society at £14, and in the other case it would be £7 10s. That is the rate at which the Northern Government lent it, and at that rate I think it would be of considerable advantage to the farmers and to the country in general. The Northern Government has lent £37,000, according to the figures of the Minister. That amount does not go over the whole Six Counties; the greater part of it, some £30,000, went to County Fermanagh.

Along the Cavan border.

That is the only county that would be likely to suffer from the disease.

I often heard the Minister for Lands and Agriculture defend a bad case, and I often heard him indulge in special pleadings in defence of a poor case; but I cannot say that I ever heard him make such a forcible attempt at special pleading in defence of an indefensible case as he did this evening. What are the facts in connection with these credit societies and the fluke disease? The scheme of relief put forward by the Government has, to all intents and purposes, completely failed to meet the emergency. What is the use of the Minister telling us a society has been established in Tralee and two societies have been established in Leitrim? How does that deal with the whole problem? Things must be looked at in their proper perspective, and, surely, to say there are established three or four little societies to meet a problem that amounts practically to a national catastrophe is no answer to the case we have made.

resumed the Chair.

We know that some of the societies were concentrated upon, and every effort was made by the Government to render them successful. When the Minister introduced his scheme for dealing with this problem I told him I had no faith in the prospects of its success. I am now sorry to realise that my prophecy was correct. I would have been glad to see the scheme successful, in spite of the fact that even from the outset I had little hopes that it would be. It has completely failed to meet the emergency. There was something wrong about the attitude taken up by the Government to meet this catastrophe, of the fluke disease. It cannot be called anything short of a catastrophe, because it is a thing that did not occur in the country within living memory. We hope it will not occur again for a very long time. It was met by an expedient which should have been reserved for normal times.

I believe that the credit society system is required by the farming community of this country. It is a thing which the farmers and their representatives have been seeking for a long time. The very fact of attempting to foster the further establishment of those credit societies in connection with this emergency has done irretrievable harm to the credit society idea. It will be associated in the minds of the farmers in future with the failure which has occurred in connection with the attempt to establish them. In my opinion that is almost the worst feature of this attempt by the Government to meet this emergency. It has given a black mark, so to speak, to the system of credit societies, and will make it extremely difficult to have them established in the future. It would have been much better if the Government met this emergency by a system of loans, and waited until times were normal and people were in a receptive mood, and farmers were prepared to take up the scheme seriously. That would be the time for the Minister to come forward with his scheme for the fostering of those societies.

The Minister gave us a lot of figures that were not very relevant to the matter under consideration. The question of what percentage of the farmers was composed of good or bad farmers, and what class of farmers would or would not come forward for the loan, was touched upon. We are aware there are bad and middling farmers, but it would not at all follow that those who would look for the loans would be bad farmers, the hopeless ones of the farming community. It has happened that a great many of the people who lost cattle through this disease included some of our best small farmers. Those men are now in the practically hopeless position of not being able to obtain any money to restock their land.


Accept £2 for £1.

The scheme has failed to work. The position is aggravated by the fact that the banks, as is well known, are slow now to advance money to farmers. I agree with the Minister that this question of advances in this country has been overdone in some cases; but there are other cases in which it has been underdone. Money has been advanced for bad purposes and wrong purposes; but now when money is required for good purposes, it is almost impossible to obtain it. Take the case of a farmer, who has lost practically all or a very large percentage of his cattle, going into a bank. I believe the bank manager would be reluctant, even on good security, to advance money for that man. The bank manager would require that the man himself would be in a sound financial position before he would advance money. The banks are slow to advance money to a poor man, even though there is good security. The banks do not care to have to go back on securities in order to get the money if the principal fails. It is an unpopular thing; it gets them into bad favour with people, perhaps good customers, who may be the securities. In most cases the banks require that the man obtaining the loan is in a fairly sound position. A statement was made by the Minister to the effect that 50 per cent. of the cattle that died, died of starvation. I am sorry that statement was made. It is a reflection on the farmers, and it is not a correct statement of facts.

And the Minister had no figures to prove it.


No figures produced as the result of a door-to-door visit by the Gárda Síochána.

You gave no figures.

The Gárda Síochána would be the people to ascertain the number of cattle that actually died from fluke. I have it on the authority of no less a person than the chief veterinary officer in the Birkenhead Lairages that 90 per cent. of the Irish cattle in Birkenhead this year have diseased livers, and the veterinary inspector in Aberdeen confirmed this.


The percentage he gave me was much lower. He stated—and so did the Aberdeen man—that the livers of a high percentage of the Irish cattle have been affected for years. I think that is what the Deputy himself stated the other evening.

I stated nothing of the kind. I stated that 90 per cent. of the cattle slaughtered in Birkenhead have diseased livers.


You say 90 per cent.?

Yes, 90 per cent. of their livers are not hopelessly discased, but they have indications of fluke disease in the livers. Probably as regards a small percentage the livers are completely destroyed by fluke and these have to be cast aside as altogether unfit for human food. That, in my opinion, proves that the greater portion of the cattle in the country did actually contract the fluke disease.

Does the Deputy say that it is an infectious disease?

I did not use the word infectious. I know how the disease is contracted as well as the Deputy.

You insinuated it was an infectious disease.

He did not insinuate it.

Evidently the line of argument used by the Minister leads up to the fact that farmers starve their cattle and that a great number of the cattle died, not because of this disease, but because of bad treatment.


I said nothing of the kind. We are taking it that 5 per cent. have died and I said that only half of these died through under-feeding.

The Minister said 50 per cent. of them.


I never said 50 per cent. of the cattle of the country died. I said 50 per cent., half of the 5 per cent., died through under-feeding.

I understood the Minister to say that 50 per cent. of the cattle of Ireland which died, died of starvation.


I stated that of the 5 per cent. that died, 50 per cent. died of bad treatment.

There is one thing I was glad to hear the Minister acknowledge. That is that if these loans are made the money would have to be put up by the farmers. It simply means taxing one class of farmer to aid the other class. I was glad to hear the Minister acknowledge that.


I said to a great extent.

You did not qualify your statement at all.

He is qualifying it now.


I do not usually read my own speeches in the Report, but I will read them to-morrow.

There is a rule that Deputies must address the Chair. There is a rule that Deputies must be standing in their places when addressing the Chair. If the Minister for Lands and Agriculture took a note of these statements we would give him an opportunity, at the end of Deputy Heffernan's speech, of correcting all the mistakes made on the other side. That would, perhaps, simplify the procedure. I understand that the Minister himself was very much interrupted when he was speaking.

Two wrongs do not make a right.

I was glad to hear that statement made by the Minister. In future we can accept it as a Government pronouncement that, in the final issue, the farmers are responsible for practically all taxation in this country. Anything in the way of bounties or subsidies or grants will eventually fall back upon the farmer taxpayer. Now, the Minister made very light of the attempts of the Northern Government to deal with this matter. The fact remains that the Northern Government has made this attempt and that the attempt has succeeded to the extent of advancing £37,000 over a very small portion of the area. Compare that with the Minister's credit societies, where, so far, only £3,500 has been advanced. It is all very fine to cavil and sneer at the work of the Northern Government, but the simple facts proclaim that they have attempted to deal with the question and that they have found a method for dealing with the question, and that they have not found it impossible, as the Minister in his speech stated.

The Minister stated it would take another Department as big as the Department of Agriculture to administer the scheme successfully. I wonder has the Northern Government instituted a second Department of Agriculture to administer their scheme? I do not think they have. Furthermore, I do not agree with the Minister for Justice, that it would be impossible to get officials to secure this information. I believe it would be easy to get the officials to get that information. I believe that any of the competent instructors could supply the information required. It is all very well to heap objection upon objection, but difficulties are always in the way of every scheme that has to be carried out. The difficulties are not insuperable; they are surmountable. I maintain that there is no difficulty in advancing money to the farmers that could not be surmounted by a proper system of administration. Now, the Minister for Justice took part in this debate.

He took a comic turn.

I certainly think that he did not improve the case of the Minister for Lands and Agriculture by his more or less venomous attack upon the Farmers' Union.

I did not make any venomous attack upon the Farmers' Union.

Probably the idea of the Minister for Justice is that the Farmers' Party are not supposed to criticise and that the moment they begin to criticise and say unpleasant things that press hard, whether they are true or otherwise, then they are to be sneered at, and the ex-colonels are to be gibed at. We hear a lot in this House and outside it as to the necessity for an adequate Opposition and for adequate criticism, but the moment the criticism touches a weak spot and becomes a bit unpleasant, then we are not to be tolerated for a moment, but are to be gibed and sneered at by the Minister.

On a point of explanation, I was only pointing out to Farmer Deputies that we ought not to go out of our way to provide further material for the ex-colonels.

We will take the responsibility.

It would be as well, I think, to acknowledge at once that the scheme failed and that there is no prospect of it meeting the emergency. Meantime, we have throughout the country numerous farmers who are in a very bad way because of the losses they have sustained from disease in their cattle. Their present condition is very serious indeed. If something is not done to improve their condition they will not be able to pay their Land Commission annuities, their local taxation, or their shop debts. These men are anxious to get a start in life again. If they did get a chance of making a real start they would, in the majority of cases I believe, make a success of it. They have been prevented from making a restart in life because the Government is not meeting the situation as it ought to have met it. I would say to the Minister that it would be better and perhaps more honest for him to acknowledge that the attempt made to meet the present emergency, as it exists in the country, has failed. I cannot see how anyone can say anything else.

I would appeal to the Minister to start anew, and offer a loan that would enable these men to restart in life. Doubtless, the Minister would have the worthless ones coming along if he were to offer loans. That always happens in such cases. We all know that when a new bank manager goes to a district all the worthless ones in that locality are in to him for a loan. But surely in a case like this the Government must have at its disposal adequate machinery to weed out these worthless ones, to see that only worthy persons are selected for the loans given, and that they will get a chance of making good. As one who took a certain amount of interest in the establishment of credit societies, I regret that the attempt to start them was made under such unfavourable auspices as those that obtained in connection with the present emergency. I believe it would be in the interests of the country and the farmers that the present scheme put forward by the Minister should be withdrawn, and that he should come forward with a generous offer of loans to farmers who can prove that they have met with losses.

I deny that it is outside the power of the administration to find out the men who really suffered losses. I would like to point out, too, that we are not asking for a grant. We are asking for a loan, and these men, when they apply for it, will know that they will be bound to pay back the loan, and that all the legal forces at the disposal of the Government can be used for the purpose of forcing them to pay back the money loaned to them. We do not hear of men clamouring for Board of Works loans in the hope that, by some extraordinary happening, they will never be asked to pay them back. The fact is that men only apply for these loans when they require them. Similarly, I believe that only a certain number of people would apply for the loans that we suggest should be given to meet this emergency. People would only apply for them who really require them because of the emergency which has arisen. It is up to the Government to take a risk which banks, for instance, or other people could be expected to take. The emergency is such that the Government ought to be prepared to face a certain small percentage of loss; but my opinion is that, if the Government come forward with loans, the losses they would sustain would be comparatively small.

In order not to expose myself to the rejoinder levelled from the Farmers' benches at Deputy Professor Tierney and Deputy Beamish I might start off by saying that I am a bit of a farmer myself, and therefore might be allowed to express an opinion if only on that account. The Minister for Agriculture seems to be puzzled as to what percentage he will attribute to mortality amongst cattle from fluke and what percentage to starvation. I think that is really immaterial, because the deaths from fluke and the deaths from starvation are primarily due to our wet climate. The wet climate is undoubtedly the cause of fluke—excessive and persistent wet, and another contributory cause was rotten hay. The rotten hay killed the cattle by starving them. That is the position we have to face and it does not matter whether they died from fluke or starvation— they are dead at any rate. The result is that farmers who were unfortunate enough to suffer from mortality amongst their cattle are now in a very precarious position. For that reason I would suggest to the Minister that he should reconsider the whole question. I fear that this motion of Deputy Baxter's has possibly been treated from the Government benches as a political stunt. I do not think it is a political stunt, and if it is a political stunt I would not let the farmers walk away with a clean victory.

I did not say that it was.

The Irish farmers have suffered at all times from want of capital. The English farmer is a capitalist, with the result that he gets the best out of his farm. The Irish farmer is always dragging the devil by the tail. He has to sell his cattle when they are unfit for sale. He has to sell them simply to stop a gap. That is a very common expression in the South of Ireland. It is very expressive and conveys the meaning. Agriculture is our main industry. It is a national asset, and I think it would be well to have the present crisis tided over by following the example given by the Government of Northern Ireland—that is to say, by lending money on somewhat similar terms.

We recognise the administrative difficulty of the Minister. But I say when making a loan it does not matter whether the loss was due to fluke or rotten hay. Look for character in the borrower. If he is an honest man he will give sureties, and he will retrieve himself. I appeal to the Minister to do justice to himself. He has done a lot for Irish farmers and I believe he has the capacity to put this country on a level with Denmark. Possibly the farmers are trying to queer his pitch.

No, they are not.

They are always behind him when he is right.

There is really no doubt that the condition of several of these farmers, through no fault of their own, is very bad. Of course, there are farmers in Ireland who are hopeless. Nothing that could be done will get them out of the rut they have got into, and they give a bad reputation to the general body of farmers in the country, and although I have said things very disagreeably of farmers, I know that 30 or 40 per cent. of the Irish farmers are as good farmers as can be found in any country. It is well, in my opinion, to reconsider this question, and I would ask the Minister in his final reply not to shut the door. These credit societies are dead and gone, and that may be due to want of organisation. You can organise nothing in Ireland except you organise it behind the revolver. (Deputies: "Oh!") It is a very powerful weapon, and it does influence organisation. With these remarks I leave things to the Minister.

I am very reluctant to break my long silence in the Dáil, but I feel bound to do so, as my name has been mentioned in connection with some matters raised by Deputy Baxter and Deputy Cole. They stated that I helped in some cases to try and form credit societies. Deputy Cole and I went to one particular place, and during the discussion that took place there the principal thing I heard from people present was this: that if by putting down £5 they could get the Ministry to put down an extra £10 so as to make £15, they would do so. If that was the case credit societies could be formed at once, because they could get any amount of borrowers, while there were very few of their more fortunate neighbours who were ready to come to their assistance. They could get any number of men to come into the credit societies as long as the Government would be prepared to put up the extra £10. The person who was there to explain the workings of the credit societies told them that it would be possible to form credit societies if that could be done, but that that was not the ideal aimed at by the Department. Now, I think when the Government were prepared to put up the £10 extra, even although it was not the ideal they aimed at, they showed a little better spirit than the farmers in the neighbourhood showed who were not prepared to put up anything at all.

It has been said by many Deputies that the credit societies have failed because of this lack of support from the better-off farmers, and from a lack of co-operation with their more unfortunate neighbours. Certainly I believe that lack of financial support is one of the causes that contributed to the failure, but there were possibly other reasons for the failure and one of these would be political reasons. I found at that meeting to which I have alluded, that when it came to the formation of the organisation in various parts of the district in which the credit society was to be formed, the party who named the organisers named them all from one political party. I did not know that because I was not well acquainted with the neighbourhood until I came outside when my attention was called to it by members of the party to which I belong. The members of our party would not be very keen in getting into that society considering that the members of the other party were aiming at making political capital out of any benefit that might accrue from the formation of that society. My reason for thus putting forward this—and it is rather unfortunate that my first entry into the debates in this House should take this form—is, that it shows a great lack of the co-operative spirit on the part of the farmers of the country. I believe that co-operation is going to save the farmers if anything at all is going to save them. I believe that the credit societies were to a great extent damned by this entering of politics into the question, and I believe also that co-operation will be similarly damned. The Farmers' Union Party have always said that they are very desirous of helping the farming community. To my mind, the best way they could attain that end would be by dropping out of politics, or else joining some of the other political associations or organisations in this House. That does not mean that they should join the Cumann na nGaedheal Party.

They should join the Labour Party.

I agree. There seems to be a great deal of affinity lately between these two parties. At any rate, I believe if politics could be kept out of the question of forming these credit societies and that the matter could be considered on purely non-political lines, credit societies could yet be formed.

May I ask the Deputy is it not a fact and laid down in the constitution of these societies, that no such thing as politics should enter?

But I have shown that they do enter. Deputy Cole and I attended these meetings, and in selecting men who were to organise certain parts of the parish a gentleman got up and named men from one political organisation alone, to the exclusion of men belonging to the organisations that Deputy Cole and I represent. However, I do not think it can be said yet that the credit societies have failed completely. They would not be a failure, I do believe, if politics could be completely dissociated from their formation.


I rise to support the motion moved by Deputy Baxter. Whatever may be said for credit societies in normal times and circumstances, they have proved insufficient, if not altogether useless, in the emergeney with which we are dealing and which, I regret to say, requires immediate serious attention. I am not aware that there are any of these societies in Galway, which I have the honour to represent, but even if they were established and operating there they could not be availed of by the people who require financial assistance because they have lost their live stock through disease. I know personally people who have lost ten, twenty and thirty sheep and who could not comply with the credit society terms in trying to replace them. Take, for instance, a man who lost twenty-five sheep. The credit society may offer him a loan of £2 at 5 per cent. for every pound he himself has on hands, but in most cases it would be all in vain, as the pound per £2 would not be available in present circumstances. The man who requires £100 to replace twenty-five sheep cannot, in most cases, produce a third of that sum, and so qualify him for a loan of two-thirds from the credit societies.

It would be simply cruel to make him such an offer, while if the Government, as has been done elsewhere, provided a loan of the whole £100 at 2½ per cent. all would go well and there need be little doubt as to the repayment of the amount to the Government. I, like Deputy Cole, was quite surprised to hear Deputy Tierney's amendment and his speech in favour of it, and I have no hesitation in saying that he has not expressed the view of the small farmer community. It was only a short time ago since I read a report of a meeting held in the Deputy's native parish—Ballymacward, Co. Galway— calling attention to the fact that the people of the district had lost five per cent. of their sheep and calling upon the Government to assist them in the manner now proposed in the motion before the House. At that meeting, strange to say, it was a respected brother of Deputy Tierney who presided. He had a close personal knowledge of the situation and knew what he was talking about. If the credit societies were the all-powerful benefactors which Deputy Tierney represents, that meeting presided over by his brother need not and would not have been held. I know poor people who, if they were offered loans, of £10 to every £1 they could scrape together themselves, would not be able to comply with the conditions of the credit societies. I should like to hear the views of the other Galway Deputies.

Undoubtedly in many districts very serious losses have been sustained through fluke, but even the farmers themselves who have supported Deputy Baxter's motion must admit that there are considerable administrative difficulties in the way. I know of very poor districts, in the West of Ireland, where serious losses have been sustained. I think there might be a third way of coming to the assistance of these people who have sustained those losses and I wish to make a suggestion to the Minister to consider this third way. Where there are small farmers who could not possibly raise any money, I would suggest that, as was done last year, in certain limited areas, relief works on productive schemes ought to be carried out. These would not be done by loans; they would be done by grants. Farmers' sons would be employed on them. They would do work that would be reproductive to the county in opening bogs, widening roads and work of that kind. The Government has already spent a considerable sum in that way. This Dáil voted £100,000 and most of that was spent on relief works and brought great comfort to the districts where the works were carried out. I would suggest that the Minister should entertain the idea of a scheme in some of these poorer districts that have been hard hit—and there are not so many of them—which would go to the relief of all affected. Once the money was earned they would not have to pay it back, and it would be better than a loan. I would suggest that for the consideration of the Minister and of the Minister for Finance.

I might say that Deputy Sears said nothing at all to the amendment. The Government amendment reads:—

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

May I draw the attention of the House to the fact that although this amendment is moved, I presume, in the name of the Government, the Minister, and the Cumann na nGaedheal Party, the Minister himself stated that he did not intend the credit societies to meet, and they had not met the fluke problem.

Might I be allowed to explain myself? I protest against misquoting me in that fashion. I was careful to say on each occasion on which I repeated that sentence, "to meet it in toto,” and the Deputy knows there is all the difference in the world.

We will have to wait for the Official Report.


Ask any of the Deputies on your benches.

I did not hear one word from the Minister; I did not hear any word from any Farmer Deputy on the Government benches yet; I did not hear any statement at all from the Government Party, and I heard no evidence that would lead this Dáil to believe or to conclude that this amendment should be accepted or could be accepted, or that credit societies would solve the problem. The Minister himself gave us no evidence. Why? Because no evidence was forthcoming; because the facts are all to the contrary. Up to the present, and for the past five months, eight credit societies have been established and £3,500 given out. At the end of the financial year the balance, I presume, will be surrendered to the Exchequer. The Minister tried to prove that in Kerry and Leitrim societies were started. I want the Deputy from Leitrim to say what is the opinion of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party in Leitrim? Not more than six weeks ago, at a meeting in Leitrim, over which Canon Masterson presided, a gentleman who was the Cumann na nGaedheal candidate at the last election, declared that if the Government were not prepared to come forward to assist the farmers in some way other than they were proposing to do by the credit societies, he would never raise his hand for them again. That is the opinion of Leitrim—at least, of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party assembled in Leitrim.


I thought it was Canon Masterson's opinion.

I said the meeting was presided over by Canon Masterson. That is the opinion of Mr. Mooney, the Government candidate at the last election, and it was reported in the "Independent."

I will speak for Leitrim when Deputy Baxter has finished.

I want to draw the Minister's attention to the fact that the figures he has given show that there was £1,457 available there. The figures given by Deputy Dolan, when this matter was discussed here previously, showed us that 4,000 head of cattle were lost in South Leitrim. These were the statistics collected by the Cumann na nGaedheal Party. How far is £1,400 going to replace 4,000 cattle? Deputy O'Reilly, I notice, has left.

There were three Deputies in Cavan, all doing what they could to try to put into operation the credit system advocated by the Minister and accepted by the Dáil. I say we have failed, and I believe we have worked as hard and as honestly in Cavan to bring these societies into existence as any other Deputies elsewhere. I have probably gone to more meetings for this purpose than any other Deputy here, or any Deputy who is not here, and by every means we did what we could in Cavan. I would have liked Deputy O'Reilly to declare what his opinion was about the possibilities of the success of his efforts, of Deputy Cole's, and of mine combined in trying to have these societies established to see whether it was possible, in the conditions that prevailed there, that we could get enough of them established to get sufficient money to enable the farmers to replace their stock. I give it as my opinion that it has not been possible. We tried honestly, and we failed, and we have come to the Dáil to tell it so. I say that Deputy Tierney did not tell us what he had done. I think not one society has been established in Mayo, and I say that not one will be established. If we had evidence that there was a possibility of success we would wait, and I want to say, no matter what the Minister and some others may suggest, that it is not to make political capital out of this that we have moved.


I did not suggest it.

We do not want anyone to suggest it. It has been suggested. We are quite prepared to give all the kudos to the Government. They will take it anyhow, and we may as well give it to them. But let the Minister think of the situation in Cavan, along the Border, the district that I mentioned last night, where in a small parish 400 cattle have died. Across the Border neighbours of the owners of these cattle have been able to get loans from the Northern Government, and the Government of the Saorstát, that makes so much hay about what it will do and has done for the farmers, leaves these men to try to struggle along on unstocked farms, without any possibility of having them stocked, while they demand the payment of rents and taxes.


In parts of a small parish in Cavan 400 head of stock died. The total loans made by the Northern Government are a little over 500 for the whole six counties.

Five hundred what?


Loans. In part of a small parish in Cavan 400 head have died.

The Minister is misrepresenting the position. Thirty-seven thousand divided by six is 6,000, not 500 —6,000 in one county. The Minister says 500.


Thirty-seven thousand pounds is an approximate figure. The figure I have given for the number of loans made is 500; it is between 500 and 600.

Deputy Cole pointed out that all the loans were in a small portion of the County Fermanagh.


That is not my information. This is in a part of one parish where 400 head of stock have died.

Yes. Does the Minister suggest that I am not stating the truth?


Certainly not.

Well, does not that make it all the more serious, and he has done and will do nothing. If these farmers lived across the Border——


When the Deputy asks me do I say that he is not stating the truth, of course, I take it for granted that he believes implicitly in what he says and that his belief is based on a statement made to him, and I doubt its accuracy.

Is the Minister trying to convey to us the fact that part of Cavan is in Northern Ireland?

The Minister comes here without doing anything except talking about certain individual farmers that he met who gave him information. He wants us to accept it that he is the only reliable man, that his statement is the only statement that can be accepted, and when I go to the trouble of going to a district and having figures compiled that I am prepared to swear to, the Minister suggests that the House is to accept it that I am not telling the truth.


Oh, no.

Well, that is what I do say.


All right; once and for all I withdraw any such statement, if I ever made it.

The Minister's attitude is to do nothing, to leave things as they are, that if these farmers cannot find any help he cannot and will not do anything for them. That is exactly what the policy of the Minister and of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party means, and that is what the policy of every farmer Deputy who supports them amounts to. We should be clear on this matter. When it was raised first the Minister accepted the view that this problem existed and that it is not now solved. He further recognised the fact that credit societies would not solve the problem, and yet he has no alternative to offer; he will not do anything; things are to be left as they are. I say that if that is all the encouragement that honest farmers are to get from the Government when they find themselves in difficulties, the Government cannot expect that the farmers will give them allegiance and support. Many Deputies come from constituencies which have not had losses, and these Deputies will have to be asking farmers in such cases, if these loans are made available, to bear their share of them when they are going to poorer counties, and they are prepared to do that. What is done on the Government side? What are their responsibilities or their obligations, and what is the difference between the Minister's position in that matter and Deputy Gorey's? Deputy Gorey's constituents, who have not had losses, will not benefit by these loans, and the same thing applies to Deputies from other constituencies. But take the eight or nine parts of counties where the farmers have suffered so severely that they are practically down and out, so much so that their farms are to-day without stock, that many of them are in the hands of auctioneers and cannot be sold. If you are trying to carry on with men like that as the basis of your State, I ask, is the basis sound, and if it is not sound, what kind of State will you build, how do you expect to carry on, how do you expect to get taxation from men who are not able to carry taxes? You have to give these men a chance. If you do not put them into a position to live and carry on it is not they alone who will suffer, but the State. The State eventually will be the greatest loser. The State has its obligations towards people like these.

I say that from the beginning the Minister did not go about this problem in such a way as would lead one to feel that he meant to solve it. If he was really serious about it he should have tried to collect authentic and definite information as to the magnitude of the problem, the number of cattle lost, and their value. He would then know what the State was really faced with. I say that the machinery for doing this was at his command. What is the use of the Minister telling us that the information that the Gárda would supply would not be authentic and reliable? How will you collect your tillage or your Census returns if these men are not capable of doing it, and how can you expect, if the Gárda, on visiting a farmstead are not able to get correct information from the owner as to what his position is, that they are capable of doing such work at all? I say that the information could very easily have been obtained through the Gárda when they were collecting tillage returns, without in any way creating the impression that loans were to be made available.

I say further that I have the feeling that a good deal of the returns given to the Gárda are not correct. I have been given to understand that very many farmers in some districts disguised their losses when the Gárda went to their farms.

Now nothing is to be done. The farmer can go and help himself, and, if he does not, the State is not going to give him any help. Very good, if that is the policy of the Government in this matter we want to be clear about it and to know that that policy is being backed by Deputies on the Government benches who are farmers. The Minister for Justice had something to say. I suppose he must have been nearly a colonel himself. He might have been an ex-lieutenant. It comes very badly from the Minister for Justice to make any remarks about any organisation. He is one of those who is prepared at all times to stand up and defend the right of every citizen in the State, so long as he is law abiding. I suppose he agrees that that citizen has a right to express his opinion. Sometimes he would like to deny it. The Minister for Justice gave us about five minutes abuse. That is typical of him. In that five minutes the Minister was able to make the objection that if what the farmers wanted were done the farmers would be able to go down the country and tell what they had done. We did not introduce this motion in that spirit, and it is unfair of the Minister for Justice to meet it in that spirit. We know that a problem like this is not going to be solved by any party or in that spirit. We can show some of that spirit if the necessity arises.

The Minister for Lands and Agriculture wants us to accept it, that because eight credit societies have been established in five months, and that £3,500 has been distributed out of £100,000 that was voted, these credit societies are going to replace, by their operations, the thousands and thousands of cattle that have been lost throughout the country. The Minister for Lands and Agriculture is responsible to the Dáil and is outside the Executive Council. I would ask the Minister to leave this question to an open vote of the Dáil to decide. Let the Dáil decide it. After all, it should not be a party question, and, so far, it has not been made a party question. Men from the different parties have done all they could to try and make these credit societies a success. They failed. I say the decision should be left to the Dáil as to whether Deputy Tierney's amendment meets the situation or not. Leave it to the Dáil, and there is no question what the result will be. The Minister will not do that. He will not take that chance.


The Deputy has made a proposal, and I have only to remark that I always find in open voting that every party votes on party lines except the Cumann na nGaedheal Party.

When this proposal was first introduced I said that credit societies would not meet the situation, and that it would confront him again. It will confront him again, and, though the Minister may carry this amendment, I say he is not finished with the problem. Let there be no mistake about it. To the men we have to meet down the country, and who hold us responsible for trying to represent their point of view, we will have to say: "The Government failed to give any help when we put the position before them." The Minister knows the position that many farmers are in—at least, he ought to know it. Their plight is bad enough. How much worse does this make it? What chance is there for thousands of men to carry on if nothing is done for them? If the State does not do something, no one else can. I think it is the duty of Ministers to use the resources of the State in order to assist farmers in their plight. If Ministers do not do that, I say that they are not doing their duty.

At the outset I am glad there is such an unanimity of opinion on this question. Listening to Deputy Tierney I gathered that he seemed to think the credit societies have failed. I have listened to the Minister for Lands and Agriculture very carefully, and, as far as I could gather, credit societies have failed. I listened to Deputies on the Farmers' benches, and I gathered that credit societies have failed. I thought that the Minister for Lands and Agriculture would have told us, if he accepted the view that credit societies have failed to meet the situation, what he proposes to put in their place. He has practically acknowledged a bankruptcy of policy in this matter. I may say that I am unprejudiced. I come from a county that is very severely affected, and I have some reason to say that I understand the position fairly well. I listened to the arguments with an unprejudiced mind, being neither a farmer nor a professor.

Nor an ex-army colonel.


I am not, thank God. I approached the matter impartially. Deputy Tierney told us that we were likely to prejudice credit societies if we sided with this motion of Deputy Baxter. Deputy Baxter has stated that credit societies have failed to meet the emergency, which is a very serious one. There is an urgent need to do something to relieve the distress that prevails in some districts.

You cannot get people who have perhaps some money to put it into these credit societies. What about districts where there is no money, where the ravages of fluke were so great that a good many people have no stock and where there are no people to help them to replace stock? The Minister for Lands and Agriculture is a sufficient agriculturist to know the old saying that "You cannot knock blood out of a turnip." There are some districts in West Clare where you cannot get any money out of the people, for the simple reason that they have no money to give. How are small farmers who have met with losses to meet the difficulty? They cannot be got to put money into a society when they have no money. These things are plain and it would be better if a little more consideration was given to them by the Minister than many of the empty platitudes he gave us this evening.

What the Dáil must realise is that in some districts the margin between competency and impoverishment is the margin of a few head of cattle. If these cattle are taken away how does the Minister propose that these people will be able to carry on or meet the expenses of local administration? How does he expect them to pay the Land Commission with that miserable margin in most cases in districts that I know thoroughly? How does he expect them to pay the local rates or to carry on unless the State does something? There are no people in their districts to help them. Who is to help them? Are they to be left to stew in their own juice? That is practically what the Minister has told us this evening. I do not believe that the Minister is anxious that that should happen, but in effect he said that credit societies have not been a success. I do not believe they will solve the fluke problem. The Minister stated that, and I give him credit for being honest about it. If they will not solve the fluke problem and the consequent poverty what will solve it? What are the people to do? What is his solution? He has not told us.

There was another aspect of it, and possibly that attitude of mind should be expressed. It is more or less a matter of psychology that the Irish people do not want to tear open their wounds in the presence of their neighbours. Anyone who knows the Irish people will know that a man will not go into his neighbour's house and say: "I have lost three cattle and I cannot pay my rates and annuities." He hides it and holds up his head. That mentality is there and you have to take account of it. As I fancy I am rather wedged in between Cavan and Leitrim I do not want to delay the proceedings to the extent of keeping Leitrim from speaking. I should like to express to the Minister the necessity for reconsidering this matter, not indeed in the light of all that the Farmer Deputies said. I do not accept all that. I ask him to accept his own statement that the credit societies have not been a success and that he does not expect them to be the immediate solution of the poverty created by the fluke. In the light of that statement I ask him to give us some promise of a solution that will help the people to face the serious propositions that face them.

In discussing this question Deputy Baxter seems to forget that other things were done to assist the farmers. There is an old saying that eaten bread is soon forgotten. The Government, as this Dáil is well aware from the debate, spent quite a large amount of money in productive works in Cavan and a similarly large amount in Meath.

We heard enough of those works and we do not want to hear any more.

The case made for the starting of those works was the distress.

Are we debating credit societies or relief works?

We are discussing credit societies.

We are discussing Deputy Tierney's amendment.

We will have to give Deputy Dolan an opportunity of coming to Deputy Tierney's amendment.

Deputy Baxter has been telling the House of the state of affairs on the other side of the Border, and it has come up in the debate that the sum of £37,000 was advanced by way of a loan to the farmers for relief. We have spent in Leitrim and Cavan, in relieving the fluke by other means than credit societies, £60,000.

Would the Deputy explain by what means capital was reestablished in the hands of the farmers who had lost their cattle by fluke?

Those who suffered are mainly small farmers with an average valuation of about £7, and those men worked at productive works started under the Ministry of Agriculture, such as making bog roads. Drainage schemes and various other works were started in those counties because they were so much affected by the disease. People were glad to earn the money and it gave them capital, because otherwise they would have been doing nothing. Credit societies did not get a decent chance. When the scheme was launched in this House the debate was most damaging because the Deputies on the opposite benches prophesied that it would not be a success. If they had taken up the credit societies scheme, had made the most of it, and endeavoured to work credit societies, things might have been better.

Deputy Baxter referred to the conditions in Leitrim and the statements made at the meeting at which I was present. The greatest arguments used at that meeting were quotations from meetings already held in his county.

At what meetings in my county were those statements made? No statements were made with my knowledge in my county at any period.

The statements were made and published in the local papers.

Has not the Cumann na nGaedheal Party any means of counteracting the evil influence of the farmers?

I am beginning to get into a frame of mind that whatever the Cumann na nGaedheal Party is or is not doing in the country some people appear to think it has no right to speak in this House. Deputies will have to listen to other Deputies no matter how unpalatable or unpleasant it is or no matter how they may consider other Deputies inaccurate or misleading unless some personal point arises. We are reaching a stage now when points of explanation are going to destroy debate. We are here for the purpose of debate and I am prepared to give every Deputy the fullest opportunity of making himself clear, and of clearing himself of any accusations made against himself or his party. We will let Deputy Dolan proceed on this question generally.

We are at any rate tackling the question. I admit we have not got very far but we are under way and the spirit is there to work credit societies. If you got that spirit in every area I see no reason why the Minister for Agriculture could not continue the good work he did by another scheme of productive works, in the badly affected areas. To my mind the question would be best met in the county I know best, which is referred to here, which is a county of small farmers, by the institution of productive works for the development of the different societies within the county. It would give the people employment through which they could earn a reasonable wage and it would do useful productive work for the country.

To my mind the question can be best met in that particular county by the encouragement of the credit societies by continuing the work that has been started there. Let us not condemn the credit societies, and stop any start that has been made, but let the credit societies work on. When this evil pest has passed, and when we have forgotten about the fluke of 1924-25, then, as the mover of the amendment has pointed out, these societies would be of great assistance to the small farmers in the congested districts. It is said that farmers will not invest their money, and that they have no security. To my mind the farmer should be encouraged to invest his money in credit societies by Deputy Baxter and his colleagues, for the farmer in most cases has his money lying idle in the bank at small interest, and he has not the courage to take it out and invest it where he will get twice the interest, as he would in the case of credit societies. In these societies he has first-class security, for he has his own local committee, and they know the people. Each man who gets a loan has to have guarantors, so that, in that way, there is first-class security for any man who invests his money in a credit society. There is no county so poor that there is not a certain amount of dead money lying in the banks. We would be much better employed in encouraging farmers to co-operate to help themselves than by saying that the farmers are not able to do anything for themselves. Even in the congested districts they are well able to solve their own problems if their leaders would only help them to do so.

I beg to move the adjournment of the debate until 12 o'clock to-morrow.

The Dáil adjourned at 8.25 p.m. until Friday, November 20th, at 12 o'clock.