Private Deputies' Business. - Relief of Rates on Agricultural Land.

Debate resumed on the following motion:—
That the Dáil condemns the action of the Government in reducing the total of the grants payable on agricultural land.—(Deputies Belton, O'Higgins and Minch.)

I regret that I have not the benefit of the agricultural address by the Minister for Industry and Commerce but I will reciprocate to him what he said to me when he referred to me as a Deputy who was anxious to get at the truth of his industrial policy. Even though I will not deal to-night with his attempt at opposition to the motion proposed by me, I hope that I will instruct him a little in the elements of agriculture. The motion on the Order Paper since 24th March last says:—

That the Dáil condemns the action of the Government in reducing the total of the grants payable on agricultural land.

When the division on this motion would be taken, I certainly expected a full muster of the Opposition Parties. I also expected that the Labour Party would forget its spurious advocacy of trade unionism and be found to come into the Lobbies with the Opposition Party, but I did not anticipate the volte face of the Government Party. Since I started to reply to the criticisms of this motion on Friday last, I found—I do not know whether I can claim the credit for it after my quarter of an hour's speech on Friday last——

The Deputy will claim it, anyway.

I would be claiming a lot if I dared to claim to have made any impression on the wooden benches opposite, but apparently, I have made an impression, or, to be more correct, we on this side have made an impression, so much so that on Saturday morning last, we had all over the front page of "Truth in the News" the announcement of the return of the £220,000 of the £448,000 grant withheld last year and in respect of which the Minister for Local Government said it would have to be withheld this year. The Minister for Industry and Commerce thumped the desk before him and asked where was the money to come from, but I would like to know now from the Minister where they found the £220,000 they dished up on Saturday morning and spread all over the front page for the readers of "Truth in the News"?

If the Deputy had read the paper, he would have found out where it came from. It was stated in it.

Perhaps it is a case of a guilty conscience coughing up of its ill-gotten goods. The Minister for Finance, in the course of his four hours' debate on agriculture, reminded us of stories he had heard in his native city of Belfast. I told him that I would answer all the queries he put to me and that I hoped he would be here. I find, however, that he is conspicuous by his absence and the Minister for Industry and Commerce is left to hold the fort with not a solitary man with him and only one lady.

And I am here by accident.

I am sorry also that our friend, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance, who took over four hours to give us a lecture on agriculture, is also conspicuous by his absence, because I have records here which he would probably accept because they are from an old and cherished friend of his—Martin's Bank, Limited, Birkenhead. He told us, in the course of his address against this motion, that cheques from Martin's Bank, which his dear father drew, brought comfort to many a fisherman's home. I am sorry that I cannot say that the returns from Martin's Bank, Limited, have brought comfort to any farmer's home. I will give one case as an example of the whole lot. A farmer exported 16 cattle at £21 5s. apiece, making a total of £340 which he could have pocketed if it were not for this economic war under which, as we are told by the Minister, England is shivering. On that consignment of 16 cattle, there were customs dues of £96 15s. 8d. That is Martin's Bank. I am not the authority for that. It is a return from Martin's Bank and surely it will be accepted by those opposite, even though it is a British bank in which their colleagues hold their banking accounts.

In opening my winding-up address on Friday last, I wanted at the outset to confine this motion within defined limits and not to follow the Ministers who took about a dozen hours rambling around the motion without coming to the kernel of it. In my speech proposing the motion on 4th October, I said that the land annuities, the R.I.C. pensions and the local loans amounted to over £5,005,000. I took, for convenience, the figure of £5,000,000 and when that payment was refused by this Government to the British Government, the British Government said they would collect it. The Minister for Industry and Commerce has told us here that, in effect, what we were proposing was to go around with battering rams and sheriffs to collect £3,000,000 of annuities from the farmers of this country and to export the money to England. The Minister would not do that. He would not stand by a policy that would do that. He would not pay this to England. I am not disputing his policy because I am not dealing with that policy at the moment but I put it to the Minister that when his Government refused to pay England these £5,000,000, England said she would collect it and I challenge the Minister to deny that England has collected it.

From whom?

From the farmers of this country.

Does the Deputy contend that the British pay all the taxes that are collected on British goods coming in here?

I am not dealing with goods coming in here.

No, but I am.

I am dealing now with our produce going in to the British market. I am not dealing with British goods coming in here. I will deal with that later on. I am dealing now with England's collection of the land annuities. We will call them the £5,000,000 payments. It is not the exact figure but it is good enough for this debate. Does the Minister deny that England has collected the whole of that by her duties?

She has not collected it from us.

Has she collected it from the citizens of this country?

About three weeks ago, Mr. Thomas, replying to a question in the British House of Commons as to what the British taxpayer had lost by the default of the Free State Government in not paying these £5,000,000, said that by 31st March next, the total default of the Free State Government would be £7,063,000. "By the 13th January of this year," continued Mr. Thomas, "we shall have collected in our import duties from Free State produce coming into Britain and Northern Ireland, for revenue purposes"—which I take as meaning the net figure after deducting the cost of collection, because the cost of collection could not go into revenue—"a sum of £6,243,000." The Minister will surely admit that the difference between £6,243,000 and £7,063,000 was the entire outstanding balance which, according to Britain's bookkeeping, we still owed to Britain. The Minister would admit that, I am sure, and if not, it is his duty to put up in this House Irish figures to prove what England had taken from us. If our Government is not keeping our national book-keeping in a manner which will show what England is extracting from us, they are failing in their duty. I challenge the Minister now to deny Mr. Thomas's answer or to produce his own figures. Will the Minister do it?

Does the Deputy say that the British pay all the tax that is collected on British goods coming in here?

There is no analogy.

I am not answering that at the moment.

The Deputy is taking good care not to answer it.

I am dealing with our exports to Britain.

If it is true in one case, it is true in the other.

I am really surprised at the Minister——

You are not!

I am. I am really surprised at the Minister being so childish. I would not say that the Minister, even to get out of a hole, would give a dishonest answer——

Will the Deputy say why if it is true that we pay all the tax collected on our goods going into England, it is not true that the British pay all the tax on British goods coming in here? Will the Deputy explain why it is not so?

Because they do not have to change their cost price. We have to, but they do not. That is the answer.

Of course, they have changed their cost price.

Will the Minister answer this: How will a tariff on goods going into England, if it does not restrict the volume of those goods going in to that market, affect the price? A tariff can only raise the price of goods when it restricts the amount of goods going in to the market, and according to the law of supply and demand, the price of goods must go up when the supply is restricted. If we send 40,000 cattle to Great Britain and there is no tariff on them and if England says "We will put a tariff on these of £5 a head" and we still send 40,000 to England, who pays the tariff?

I am asking the Deputy to tell me.

Will the Minister say if goods going into a market are the same in volume, whether there is a tariff or not, what element in commerce is there to increase the price?

Does that apply to cattle only or does it apply to coal as well?

It applies to our exports to Great Britain.

And why does it not apply to British coal coming in here?

I am dealing with the £5,000,000 of annuities going into England. I will deal with the other point later, but let the Minister, if he wants to get at the truth of this, deal with the tariffs that England has put on to collect our annuities. The contention by him and by the Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy Hugo Flinn, is that the country that puts on the tariff has to pay for that tariff or pay a portion of that tariff. The Minister is keen enough to say that it cannot make the consumer of these goods pay any portion of that tariff unless the supply is restricted.

The party with which the Deputy is now associated has been saying the opposite for the last ten years at every public meeting in this country.

I am speaking as a man who knows a little about economics. I am speaking as a man who supports protection all the way and the Minister knows that. I am not admitting that the Minister is right in his reference to what the Cumann na nGaedheal Party preached. I am not now advocating the traditional policy of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party or of the Minister's Party and, after all, the traditional economic policy of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party, to which the Minister knows I was opposed, is better than the traditional policy of the Minister's Party. We do not, however, want to go into that. I should like this discussion to be carried on in order to get at the truth and at a proper understanding of the issues at stake. The Minister is keen enough to see the trend of my argument and he wants to divert me from the logical sequence of my argument but he does not want to admit that we, who produce those goods that are sent to Britain, really pay the tariff. If the Minister for Agriculture were here—and it is very strange how the Ministers who have the most to say in opposition to this are now conspicuous by their absence —he would be able to verify this statement of mine, that, when Britain instituted the quota system, by order of Mr. Walter Runciman, on 20th December last, restricting our exports of cattle to Britain by half for the months of January, February and March, the Minister was besieged with applications from all parts of the country to get the cattle out. It is not the price that is worrying the owners of cattle at the present time but the getting rid of the cattle at any price. The quota system for fat cattle leaves 58 per cent. of the cattle that are fat in this country at present on the feeders' hands without any market for them. England wants only 42 per cent. If it is an ordinary trade question with England, on the basis that the more supplies you have, the less price you have to pay, according to the law of supply and demand, why does England not throw her ports open for 100 per cent. of our cattle? She knew she would get them.

It has been attempted to be argued from the Government Benches that the reason Great Britain restricted the importation of cattle into that country during the first quarter of this year was that she wanted to help British farming. The real fact of the matter, however, was that if she allowed the cattle to go in as they went in last year, and as they were going in in December, Great Britain would have collected close on £1,000,000 more by way of import duties than she wants to liquidate her entire claim against us. I have said enough on that point to convince the Minister. In his absence I say, without any disrespect, that the villain of the whole piece, so far as the local councils are concerned — the Minister for Local Government—sent a ukase to the councils two or three months ago pointing out that, in view of the good things that his Government had done for the farmers, the Agricultural Grant this year would be the same as last year, less any deductions that might be necessitated through default in the land annuity payments. I wonder what brain-wave came over the Minister that he changed his mind on Friday night. £220,000 more is now coming. I had dealt with that before the Minister for Local Government came in, and I will not go back on the ground to explain it now. He can read it in the Official Report.

When the Minister for Local Government came in I was dealing with the payment of the land annuities. The Minister will agree I am sure that Great Britain has collected all that the Minister's Government defaulted in paying. The position therefore now is that whether our Government withheld the direct payment to Great Britain or not, Great Britain has got the money—every penny of it. What will be due on 31st of March will only exceed what was collected on 13th January by £882,000. Great Britain has provided for a quota of cattle which could be filled twice over and would be filled more than twice over if the quota were doubled and trebled. The Minister for Agriculture, if he were here, could verify that he is bombarded for licences by Irish cattle owners and traders to fill that quota. That quota from 13th January to 31st March next will be about 110,000 cattle, on which Great Britain will collect approximately £600,000 without any loss to her, because it is simply deducted off the owners of cattle here. Then we have the other commodities on which import duties are imposed going into Great Britain which will make up the other £200,000. England, therefore, will balance her accounts by the 31st March next. We will have paid the cost of collection and indemnified England to the last penny piece.

This was the kernel of the case made by me on the 4th October in introducing this motion. Not a solitary Deputy or Minister who spoke from benches opposite attempted to controvert that case, but they will attempt to controvert it at the cross-roads throughout the country by saying: "We will not pay these land annuities to Great Britain; we have not paid them and we will not pay them." But we have paid them and the Minister and his Government know it. A year ago local authorities saw this position and Minister after Minister got up here—I will not say intentionally but in effect blackguarded certain Deputies on this side and various county councils for refusing to strike a rate last year. They tried then to create the impression amongst the poor of the country that these councils were trying to deprive the people of the social services.

Let us examine the position. I have been charged with leading the movement that county councils should strike no rates last year. I plead guilty to that charge and I am proud of it. The pity of it is that county councils in a body did not stand up to the situation last year. If they did all this tomfoolery would have been brought to a head long ago. I never advocated the non-payment of rates. I do not even advocate the payment of rates if you are able, because if rates or annuities are accepted as due I would make the man pay them. There is nothing in the plea of "Pay if you are able," because if a man owes rates he must have property out of which those rates are issuing. Therefore, he must be in a position to pay them. I say, "make him pay them if they are legally and morally due."

The position that I have taken up in this matter, and that I still take up, is that £5,000,000 has been extracted out of the agricultural industry and handed over to Great Britain. What was the liability of agriculture on foot of that payment? It was a few pounds less than £3,000,000 for annuities. That was the direct liability of agriculture and I will give way to any Deputy or Minister of the Government Party who wants to controvert that statement now. £3,000,000 were due by agriculture. What has agriculture paid? £5,000,000. In addition to the £3,000,000, the other £2,000,000, extracted out of agriculture normally was collected by national taxation which was brought into the Central Fund, and paid out of it to Britain. Did the Government last year, or since it came into office, while agriculture was paying the entire amount, remit one penny piece of the taxation that was going to produce the £5,000,000 which their predecessors had paid to England? Not by one penny was there a reduction. The Government collected the £5,000,000 which was provided year after year for payment to England. What did they do with it? That is the question. They collected the money, but a debt for which it was collected was paid direct by agriculture to Great Britain. The Government here pocketed the money.

What moral right had the Government, after the farmers of this country had paid the annuities to England, to send out civil bills all over the country demanding payment of the annuities by farmers? We were told in the course of the debate that the Government had reduced the annuities by half. What half? If the annuities were reduced by half what we were paying England, was there an arrangement with England, if the economic war was to go on, that she would collect an amount equivalent to half the annuities —£2,000,000 on our products? No. She is still collecting the £5,000,000, but our Government decided to try to bluff the people of this country, by saying that they had reduced the annuities by half, by extracting that half from people who have already paid the whole amount. What, in effect, have they done? They have imposed new taxation on agriculture, to an amount equivalent to half the annuities. That is what they have done. I will make way for any member of the Government Party that cares to get up to controvert my statement.

The case made by the Dublin County Council last year was that we are paying the full annuities to England, and in addition paying another £2,000,000, over and above our direct liability. The Central Fund here got £2,000,000, that had been already collected in taxation. We have a lien on that £2,000,000, which should be offered to the county councils for local budgets, thereby obviating the necessity for any rates on agricultural land. That is the case we put up; that is the case we fought on, and that is the case in which the Minister for Local Government, on the advice of the Attorney-General, got a mandamus against Dublin County Council. I challenge the Minister to prove a moral right to demand the striking of rates on agriculture in County Dublin or in any other county, seeing that agriculture had already paid £2,000,000 over its contractual liability. I will make way for the Minister or for any other member of the Government to make their case. Let them not go down to Macroom to talk about housing, or to the Gloucester Diamond or anywhere else, to describe local authorities as failing in their duty, or endeavouring to starve the poor or to deny maintenance to the infirm, in body or in mind. We did not do that. We would not be guilty of doing it. The Minister and his colleagues were guilty when the Government pocketed £2,000,000 out of the direct taxation which had been collected. Agriculture did not get back that money. That is really what we were asking for. Ministers are scarce on the Front Benches now.

Carry that down to Tipperary and to Waterford where rates are being collected from people who had paid them. What was done? Some farmers in South Tipperary were left without a chair to sit on on Christmas Day. These articles were seized at the behest of Ministers for debts they had paid. I challenge Ministers to contradict that. Cattle were taken up and sold under police protection, the police force being prostituted for that purpose. A friend of the Attorney-General was got but he was afraid and was not man enough to go and bid for the cattle. A police sergeant was got to bid for them. We went there, I am proud to say, to try to help the Ministers to sell the cattle. We were brought before the Military Tribunal. This is the terrible Coercion Act to repeal which the Minister and his colleagues were elected two years ago. I remember campaigning in the Minister's constituency in North City, and everywhere I went I was met with one demand: "Are you for or against the Coercion Act; are you prepared to release the prisoners in Arbour Hill"?

We are not talking about the Coercion Act or about prisoners now. That is travelling a bit further than any one ventured so far.

I wish I had not to travel to it, but unfortunately I was made do so. I was made travel to it because of the subject, and the manner in which the Minister handled the question now under discussion.

We will leave it there then.

I had to pay £20 for my visit there.

We will get back to the motion now.

I accept your ruling, but I had to pay for travelling there.

Part of it was well spent money.

Anything would be well spent to pull the masks off their faces. I have done one man's part to pull the masks off their faces.

Do not pull the shirts off them.

The Deputy would be very glad to have the blue shirt on. It is a better garment in cold weather than the hair shirt. We are coming very near the hair shirt, black bread, light beer and skim milk. Not satisfied with selling the other cattle, more cattle were seized. They were worth £300, and they were knocked down last Friday at Linehan's pound in Prussia Street, for £31. The buyer found he had a conscience, because I saw him later in the day trying to get his money out of the cattle. He could not get a buyer. He was left to wallow in his own muck, and that is the place to leave him and the likes of him. I daresay more cattle will be seized for rates and for annuities by the direct method, although the whole debt has been liquidated already. We had the Minister for Finance entertaining us for four hours in this debate last week and the week before.

There is just one important matter that I want to refer to. It occurs in the speech of the Minister for Finance—he became very eloquent about this motion—delivered on Friday last. He said:—

"Outside observers coming here, after reading the speeches of the Opposition Deputies and the statements made by them, have been greatly surprised at what they have found. They came expecting to find a land desolate and in decay, a people hopeless and famine-stricken. Instead, everywhere they have gone they have found signs of prosperity prevailing. Others who have examined the situation from the statistical point of view have found that the statements made by those who were opposed to the Government were without foundation. No one will accuse a great English financial periodical like the Economist of being unduly biassed in favour of the present Government. On the contrary, that journal has the reputation of examining and discussing in a judicial spirit, without partisanship or bias, all questions to which its attention is directed. In its issue of the 17th October last it published a survey of British and foreign banking. This has relevancy to the interruption of Deputy MacDermot. In the course of that survey it examined the position of the Irish banks. This, again, is important in connection with the cry that has gone up that the country is being drained of its wealth under the present Government.”

The Minister went on to tell us what an unbiassed, specialist authority the Economist was. I then rose in my place and said:

"Mr. Belton: On a point of order, is not the statement referred to by the Minister the statement of an individual who is paid for his job—the Irish correspondent of the Economist—and who is a civil servant, I think, in the Minister's Department?

Mr. MacEntee: I may say, sir, that so far as Deputy Belton's statement goes, I am convinced that the person who wrote that analysis for the Economist is not a civil servant.”

Now we will see how far we can rely on the Minister for Finance. I have here the Economist. I endorse all that the Minister has said about the Economist: that it is an authority that is accepted everywhere. The Minister said that he had in his hand the Economist for the 17th October last. I have not in my hand the Economist for the 17th October last, because there was no number of it published on that date, but I have probably what the Minister had intended to refer to, the Economist for the 14th October. The analysis that appears in it of the position of Irish banking is illuminating. The Minister will probably accept it that the amount of notes issued or in circulation is an index of the industrial activity of a country. He will accept, in other words, the quantity theory of money. He will also accept this, I am sure: that when money flows in on deposits it is a sign that industry is stagnant. He will admit this because it is a truism of finance: that when the investments of banks increase and discounts diminish it is a sign that people want to lock up money in State securities, and that banks will not venture money in discounts owing to the uncertainty of industrial and agricultural activity.

In 1931 the deposits in the Joint Stock Banks of Ireland were £127,000,000; in 1933 they were £142,000,000, which shows that money flowed from industrial activity into deposits. The note issue in 1931 was £5,850,000; in 1933 it was £5,628,000. The investments of all banks in 1931 were £67,000,000, and in 1933 £76,000,000. The discounts and advances of the banks in 1931 amounted to £63,000,000, and in 1933 £60,000,000, or the lowest recorded discounts and advances since 1910. The Minister did not disclose these fiugres to us. I will read the last paragraph in the Economist dealing with this:

"These returns are further valuable as shedding light on the balance of payments of the Irish Free State. Since virtually all monetary transfers to or from the Free State are handled through the banks, who provide out of their own reserves any excess of foreign currency demanded, and conversely use any excess of foreign currency offered to increase their holdings of sterling, the movement of the excess of the banks' external assets over their external liabilities provides an almost exact measure of the net flow of funds into or out of the Free State. It will be seen that from the first quarter of 1932 to the first quarter of 1933 there was a steady net inflow of funds, amounting to more than £8½ millions. The Irish balance of payments in 1932 was, therefore, strongly favourable. The last return shows that this movement has now been reversed, and the general belief is that the outflow has continued in the third quarter. This outflow is partly due to the direct effects of the economic ‘war' upon the balance of payments and partly, no doubt, the political factors. There is nothing, however, to show that the outflow of 1933 is at a more rapid rate than the inflow of 1932, and, in any case, the accumulated sterling reserves of the Irish banks are so large as to make the financial position of the country immensely strong."

The Minister for Local Government and Public Health is alone on the Government Benches. I presume he is representing the Minister for Finance. I want to ask him this: What has he to say as regards the strictures of the Minister for Finance in his attempt to refute a statement made by Deputy Brennan when he was speaking in favour of this motion, and when he affirmed that we were living on our capital? Here is the Economist—the very number of it—that the Minister for Finance introduced into this debate on Friday last to show that we were not living on our capital. Here it says that we are, that the balance of payments is against us in 1933, out that the strength of the Irish banks leaves them still in a sound position. In other words, the reserves that we have built up here in this country will enable us to weather the storm for some considerable time to come, and it is by drawing on those reserves that the Government is prolonging this economic war which they are not going to win and which, in fact, they are not alone losing but have lost already, for not since it started have they won one battle or one skirmish of that war. The whole thing they went out to fight for is lost and England is getting it, but still we go on.

I am very sorry that the Minister for Finance is not here, for, to my mind, the Minister for Finance, who is in control of the finances of the country, and who gets up in this House and attempts to make the case that he has made on this motion, from a financial point of view is a greater danger to the country than the economic war is, because in the last analysis there is no Ministry that carries so much weight in the State as the Ministry of Finance. If that is sound, the State will stay; if it is unsound the State will fall. If the Minister for Finance was right in the statements he made here last Friday and on last Wednesday week, and in the implication of those statements, then there is great cause for very serious apprehension as to how the finances of this nation are being handled at the present time. Here are more banking statistics—this is from the current number of the Economist, February 17th: Deposits within the Free State were £129,000,000 in 1932. In 1933 they were £125,000,000. That is, £4,000,000 less—gone! Deposits elsewhere: £43,000,000 in 1932, and £46,000,000 in 1933, or nearly £47,000,000. In other words, £4,000,000 have emigrated in 1933.

Following the cattle.

I daresay the Minister for Finance would say, as he said in his Budget speech a year ago, that the financial position of this country is buoyant. Now, we have deposits—dead money—in our banks increasing, and live money, in the shape of discounts and advances to customers, which shows the demand of industry and agriculture, diminishing. We have the amount of the note circulation diminishing, and, I might add, the turn-over also diminishing—this is from the pen, I presume, of the same correspondent whom the Minister quoted from the number of The Economist in October last. When the Minister advances this paper as an authority on the Irish financial situation I am not going to question it. I take him on his own ground. Here were the bank clearances in 1932: they were £273,557,000 in 1932, and in 1933 they were £267,000,000—and this with factories being opened every day. We were told by the Minister for Finance of the £8,000,000 he had pumped into agriculture above and beyond what the previous Government had done. He told us about all the relief schemes —the milk scheme, the turf scheme— and the Minister for Local Government and Public Health knows, if he has studied the elements of finance and currency, that the quickest way to put money in circulation is by Government grants. That is not productive. That is not ordinary economic activity. It is just spoon-feeding by the Government. If we were to withdraw from circulation all that the Minister for Finance claims has been pumping into agriculture and industry in this country, what would be the note circulation? What would be the bank clearances? What would be the bank deposits, or the bank discounts and advances to customers?

The position is appalling, and Ministers must know that it is. That is why they are trying to camouflage the position and draw on the reserves that have been built up by hard work and thrift in the agricultural industry—to draw on those reserves on the slippery, slimy pretence that farmers must meet their responsibilities. I agree that they must meet their responsibilities, but the issue I take with the Minister is that the farmer has met his responsibilities, and I say that it is nothing short of bare-faced plunder to ask farmers to pay any annuities to our Government while they are paying them to England. That is a perfectly legitimate and reasonable statement. A man who owes a debt is not asked to pay it more than once. That debt was collected by the present Government's predecessors in order to pay it to another party. That other party is now getting it from the same people by the direct method. What right has our Government to butt in and claim it, or any portion of it? That is the whole case. I dare say that to go back to the origin of rating on agricultural land, would be, perhaps, going into realms of research never explored by the Minister or any of his colleagues, but I think it is relevant to this motion, considering the claim made by the Government spokesmen on this motion and on other matters that the Government were giving so much relief to agriculture. It has been stated on this motion that the Government is giving £1,750,000 in the current year, and the same amount last year. It is also claimed that it gave £2,200,000 the previous year. Let us examine those figures.

What is the origin of the grant in aid of agriculture? I am sure that the Minister who is administering this matter on behalf of the Government knows that, prior to the Local Government Act, 1898, the landlords paid, roughly, half the rates on agricultural land. By virtue of that arrangement, the tenant farmers held their land under lease from those landlords. When land purchase was about to be introduced in 1898, what was called an agricultural grant was instituted. It was measured at half the rate on agricultural land for the year 1898 and amounted, for the Free State area, to about £600,000. That was half the rate on agricultural land for that year. That grant, given for relief of rates on agricultural land then, was not a relief to the farmer but a relief to the landlord. The farmer was liable to only half the rate and the landlord was liable to the other half. The Government, under the land purchase scheme, took over the landlord's responsibility for his share of half the rate. Instead of increasing as the rates increased from then onwards, the agricultural grant was standardised at half the rate for 1898. In 1924, the Government of the Free State discovered that they had surplus moneys derived from tariffs imposed on manufactured goods. The surplus amounted to £500,000 or £600,000. It approximated very closely to the amount of the agricultural grant then payable. In view of the fact that Great Britain and Northern Ireland had increased the agricultural grant to three-fourths of the actual rate on agricultural land, the Government here decided to double the agricultural grant. That accounted for £1,200,000 in relief of rates on agricultural land.

In 1931, the leader of the then Opposition—now President de Valera —spoke from these benches and was supported by the Minister for Local Government in demanding immediate additional relief to the extent of £1,000,000 by way of agricultural grant. That was the motion which they put forward and I believe it was subsequently defeated. The former Government introduced in its Budget in May, 1931, an increased grant of £750,000. To find the money for that, the Government imposed a halfpeany per lb. on sugar and 4d. per gallon on petrol. According to the records published by the present Government since they came into office, there were 45,000,000 gallons of petrol imported and 4d. per gallon on that amount would come to close on £700,000. There were roughly 80,000 tons of sugar imported and a halfpenny per lb. on that would yield about £350,000. That is to say, there was £1,000,000 raised for the purpose of the £750,000 grant. In 1932, when the present Government came into office, they decided to increase the grant by £250,000 but they were really only giving back the amount produced by the taxes imposed by their predecessors to provide the £750,000. They were only giving to Cæsar the things that were Cæsar's. That increased the agricultural grant to a few pounds short of £2,200,000. The Minister for Industry and Commerce, in speaking against this motion, asked: "Where are we to get the money?" I ask, "What are you doing with the money which you obtained from the taxation imposed?" I challenge the Minister to say that that taxation is not producing the amount I stated. The Minister's Government have altered the tax of a halfpenny per lb. on sugar to 4d. per lb. on tea. I challenge him to deny that 4d. per lb. on tea and 4d. per gallon on petrol will not produce £1,000,000. That being so, what moral authority had they for reducing the grant in aid of agriculture?

It is no excuse for members of the Government to say: "We provided £100,000 for a milk scheme, £250,000 for an unemployment scheme, £2,300,000 for bounties and so much for a wheat scheme." If we were to follow the Government apologists up that blind alley, what would it mean? It would show that the Government, on their own acknowledgment, have done nothing for the country but, in fact, have extracted out of the agricultural industry, which represents 80 per cent. of the entire industry of the country, £5,000,000, directly, to pay Britain and that they have reduced the price level in this country corresponding to the British tariffs imposed on our goods going into Britain. They have depressed the price level here. Then we have enthusiastic Ministers, like the Minister for Industry and Commerce, telling us how he is going to "brown" the whole country by turning up the grass and producing more crops. It is a pity that nobody who knows anything about agriculture now adorns the benches opposite. We have—I say it without any discourtesy—only a ploughboy and a milkmaid left. Their ploughmen have gone. We are told that we will be compensated for this extraction of our money by beet and wheat schemes.

As the Minister is here, I wish to put to him a point which has been laboured by the Minister for Finance. He worked out the figure—this was before the £220,000 of Saturday last was conceded—of the agricultural grant for this year at £1,750,000. He went on then to refer to the figure for 1931-32—the last year the former administration was in office—and he pointed out that the net amount of the grant paid that year was £1,812,000—£60,000 more than the Minister proposes to give the county councils this year. Of course, the Minister for Finance omitted to say that the amounts owed by defaulting tenant-purchasers in respect of annuities were deducted from the grant of £1,950,000 that nominally was paid to agriculture in 1931-32. He also omitted to inform the House of this, that even the deductions that were made in that grant in 1931-32. were still a debt due to the county councils, but that the present Government in its Land Bill appropriated, or I might say, misappropriated, these balances that were then due to the county councils. They misappropriated them for Government revenue when they funded the annuities and they give no definite promise that these moneys when collected will go back to the county councils. This year, the Minister for Local Government in a circular, advising the county councils of the amount of the grant sent out in January last, reminded them that the total grant payable will be £1,750,000, less any deductions that have to be made for defaults in the land annuities, so that the £1,750,000 is not a net figure. It is only a nominal figure. We do not know what the real figure will be. I should be glad to get an assurance from the Minister for Local Government that it is a net figure and that the £220,000 added to that will give us £1,970,000, an assurance that that £1,970,000 will be a net figure. That is not the advice we have got so far.

We were told by the Minister for Finance that out of these grants given by the Government to help agriculture, real agriculture from their point of view, not grass culture, they have provided a bounty or subsidy for wheat growing. That is true and I hope it will be successful. It is a very good departure in agriculture. It is a very desirable direction to give agriculture in this country, but I should like to have it given on better conditions in order to ensure its success. I hope that I shall not be taken as too pessimistic when I say that I fear for its success. We are told that 60,000 acres will be under wheat and will get a subsidy this year. That 60,000 acres is an increase of 40,000 acres on a couple of years ago, and that 40,000 acres increase means, for a six years' rotation, 240,000 acres increase in tillage. We are told that this is the alternative agricultural economy to grass, but the sponsors of that new agricultural economy seem to forget this, that these 240,000 acres of new tillage will produce more animal food than when they were growing grass. What is going to be done with the cattle fed on it? Further, we were told a moment ago by the Minister for Industry and Commerce that the primary object of land cultivation is to provide human food. I agree 100 per cent. with that, but no agricultural economy has yet been devised among tillers of the soil that will produce crops and only such crops as are exclusively human food. I would put it at a very high estimate when I say that the human food produced, even when beet and wheat are added to the crops on the six years' rotation, would not be more than 20 per cent. of the entire production. What will be done with the 80 per cent. animal food produced? Will you feed cattle? You are faced in the British market with a demand for only 42 per cent. of the present small number of cattle being fed. There is no market for 58 per cent. of them. The President was asked the other day to give Government time to discuss that problem and he said it was of no importance or something to that effect. Where are we travelling?

Where are we travelling? That is just what I am thinking.

I am keeping far within the limits observed by the Minister to whom I am replying.

I had not the advantage, or whatever the Deputy might like to call it, of hearing all the speeches. I do not want to limit the Deputy at all but the merits or the demerits of the Government policy on wheat and matters of that description, are a bit outside the terms of the motion.

I am not discussing the relative merits of their wheat policy or their agricultural economy. I just made a few remarks about it, remarks of approval, but I referred to it only because the Minister for Finance referred to all that was being done by the present Government to help agriculture and thereby to provide a new revenue to meet the burdens of agriculture. I am sorry I have not by me the circular sent by the Minister to our county council last year and, I presume, to all county councils, in which he referred to all that had been done by the present Government for the benefit of agriculture and that surely they were able to bear a small cut in the grant of £448,000. I submit that I was not only speaking within the limits of the motion but I was right on top of the subject. Another benefit given to agriculture which was well laboured by the Minister for Finance was sugar beet culture. It is extraordinary that the Minister for Finance who, if I remember rightly, introduced the Sugar Bill into this House last year, stated then, that even by reducing the price paid to the grower by 9/- a ton—the price the grower would get would average £25 per statute acre—even with that cut, and even by observing the strictest economy in manufacture, the lowest price at which they could possibly expect to produce sugar would be £21 per ton. Similar sugar can be bought at the port for less than £10 a ton. A sugar consumption in this country of over 100,000 tons would mean between £1,100,000 and £1,200,000 a year of a loss.

Wheat is in the same category. It is produced at a loss—money pumped into it. The rotation that an increased area under wheat will set going in our agricultural economy can only be kept going through the consumption of the animal food that will be produced in the rotation and, of course, it is essential to provide manure to keep up the fertility of the soil. There is no market for our cattle. Take the grocer. He must stock certain articles, butter, bacon, sugar and other things, and he might make no profit on them. In fact, he will be very lucky if he will get his own out of them, but still he must stock them. Perhaps he may retail them at a loss, but still he must have other commodities that will make up for that loss and give him a profit on his whole trading; otherwise he cannot carry on. If you take all the items in the whole gamut of agriculture there is not a single one that can stand by itself without a subsidy. I will make way for any Deputy on the Government side who can tell me of one agricultural item that can stand on its own legs without a subsidy. Surely, producing springers and selling them for a quid apiece in Lenehan's Pound is not a profitable transaction. We had an amusing three or four hours from Deputy Flinn.

It was scarcely amusing.

He referred in his ponderous manner to certain statistics. He showed to his own satisfaction that the price of certain securities has increased, industrial securities, distributive securities and Government securities. I am sorry that Deputy Flinn is not here. I think I may, without any disrespect, call him the Assistant-Minister for Finance. He and the Minister showed the most complete ignorance of the very elements of finance. What are the industrial securities that Deputy Flinn boosted here? Are the industrial securities of which he spoke in relation to industries that are getting no State aid; that are not hot-house plants behind a tariff wall? I believe they are. I do not know where he got the distributive securities, but he certainly did not get them from the country shopkeepers. He quoted 5 per cent. National Loan at 111. When the British Government was able to rake in some £30,000,000 of Irish money at 3½ per cent. why would not a security at 5 per cent. stand in the market at 111? This authority on finance, who made his bow to Irish politics by advocating a no-income tax campaign, has now run away from that position. Is he not aware that when the liquid capital of a country flows into fixed securities it is the surest possible sign that industrial activity is below normal and, because it is below normal, it takes shelter in a fixed security? If the Deputy wants an authority for that he can refer to Reginald McKenna.

In his stentorian voice he emphasised that real wages have risen in this country. Real wages have risen for men in jobs like the Deputy, for men in sheltered positions, because the industry in this country that employs 80 per cent. of the country's population has lost its market; the bottom has fallen out of the price of agriculture. If a family have only to pay half for its food supply, that is equivalent to half the cost of the food supply of that house being added to the wages of the family. Real wages have improved for a few people in sheltered occupations, but they have not improved—in fact, real employment has diminished— in the industry that hitherto employed 80 per cent, of our population. Deputy Flinn should know that, because he has been reminded from the Labour Benches often enough about the 24/- a week given to the unemployed in the agricultural industry. Real wages have risen because of the impoverishment of our most important industry. This great economist, Deputy Flinn, opposed here a motion to give a grant in relief of agriculture equivalent to the grant that his Party inherited when they took office.

It has been alleged against us who move this motion that we are trying to build a case on false promises, false in the sense that we have endeavoured to show that this is the only country in the world in which there is agricultural depression. Nobody here has attempted to show that, and anybody who would attempt it would be attempting the impossible and would be merely exhibiting his ignorance. Agricultural depression obtains the world over. The depression was greater last year than the year before, and was greater the year before than in the preceding year. But agricultural depression in England is not as great as it was last year. Prices have increased in England. To some extent, we share in that increase, but our prices are controlled by general world prices. Here is what the Ministers opposite have not attempted to disprove, that no matter what the general level of world prices may be, super-imposed on the world depression is the depression caused in this country by the economic war. I move the adjournment of the debate.

Debate adjourned.