I think that Deputy Cooper is not quite right in saying that the Minister for Agriculture has no responsibility for this Vote. I am sure that the Executive Council considered these various Votes before putting them before the Dáil. I suppose that in the Executive Council the Minister for Agriculture has an equal vote with the Minister for Finance, and if he wished he could at least have exerted his influence in the Executive Council to get the Vote increased. I think that Deputy Cooper said, with a lot of truth, that if the agricultural grant were increased it is the farmers themselves who would have to contribute the increase. There is no doubt about that. But, if we pursue that argument to its logical conclusion, we are not doing the farmer any service by passing this present Vote.
I do not know if Deputy Cooper, in the interests of the farmers, is going to vote against this, but I think he should if he is going to pursue his argument to a logical conclusion. There is no doubt the farmers will reap a certain amount of benefit if this Vote is increased. If it is true they would have to contribute 75 per cent. of that increase themselves they would benefit to the extent of the other 25 per cent. There is no doubt that the farmers are at a very obvious disadvantage in paying rates on their land at present, seeing that land is their only means of income. If you take the secretary of a county council, or the secretary of a government department, or a man with a fairly decent salary of from £700 or £800 upwards, he is paying very little rates locally compared with the farmer, who has to pay rates on the land out of which he makes his living, as well as on his dwelling. The government servant or the county council secretary, or other such person, is not paying local rates out of the instrument by which he lives. He is paying rates only on his dwelling. I think that is where the injustice comes in—making the farmers to pay what are very high rates on their land. Even though the farmers have been relieved to a certain extent by this agricultural grant, the rates have gone up a very considerable amount. Taking the rates on land all over the country, I think they have gone up about 100 per cent., even with this agricultural grant, during the last ten years, while the price of their produce has gone up only 30 per cent. In the case of civil servants and others the cost of living is taken into consideration by way of a bonus. I understand that one of the items taken into account when calculating the cost-of-living bonus is the rents and rates they have to pay on the average. Taking all these things into consideration, I think the farmer is not being treated as well as other members of the community as regards relief of rates.