Committee on Finance. - Vote No. 54—Lands.

I move:

Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £797,974 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1936, chun Tuarastail agus Costaisí Oifigí an Aire Tailte agus Choimisiún Talmhan na hEireann (44 agus 45 Vict., c. 49, a. 46, agus c. 71, a. 4; 48 agus 49 Vict., c. 73, a. 17, 18 agus 20; 53 agus 54 Vict., c. 49, a. 2; 54 agus 55 Vict., c. 48; 3 Edw. 7, c. 37; 7 Edw. 7, c. 38 agus c. 56; 9 Edw. 7. c. 42; Uimh. 27 agus Uimh. 42 de 1923; Uimh. 25 de 1925; Uimh. 11 de 1926; Uimh 19 de 1927; Uimh. 31 de 1929; Uimh. 11 de 1931; Uimh. 33 agus Uimh. 38 de 1933 agus Uimh. 11 de 1934).

That a sum not exceeding £797,974 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1936, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Offices of the Minister for Lands and of the Irish Land Commission (44 and 45 Vict., c. 49, s. 46, and c. 71, s. 4; 48 and 49 Vict., c. 73, s. s. 17, 18 and 20; 53 and 54 Vict., c. 49, s. 2; 54 and 55 Vict., c. 48; 3 Edw. 7, c. 37; 7 Edw. 7, c. 38, and c. 56; 9 Edw. 7, c. 42; Nos. 27 and 42 of 1923; 25 of 1925; 11 of 1926; 19 of 1927; 31 of 1929; 11 of 1931; 33 and 38 of 1933 and No. 11 of 1934).

Minister for Lands (Mr. Connolly)

The title of the Vote for the "Land Commission" is altered this year to the Vote for "Lands," owing to the inclusion for the first time of salaries and allowances of the Minister and Parliamentary Secretary and their personal staff. This follows on the redistribution of Fisheries and Gaeltacht Services, and is merely a matter of administrative convenience.

The amount of the Vote, as a whole, shows an increase of £132,444 on the previous year's total (as adjusted to include the Supplementary Estimate of February last). This is attributable mainly to increased and progressive activity in regard to the division of untenanted land, as will be seen by the provision under sub-head I (Improvement of Estates, etc.) which is increased by £80,000.

Salaries, Wages and Allowances under sub-head A are increased by £21,026 on account of an increase of staff both indoor and outdoor, necessitated mainly by the expanding policy of land division. The total staff is augmented in number from 862 in the previous year to 984 in the present year. The largest increase is naturally in the Acquisition and Resales Division, where 36 extra officials are required to deal with the indoor work in connection with land settlement. The Inspectorate and Survey Staffs are increased by 19 to deal mainly with the outdoor work. The Purchase Branch, which is principally concerned with the vesting of tenanted land, is increased by 34 officers.

Under sub-head B, the amount for travelling expenses is up by £3,000 on last year, consonant with the increase in the numbers of the inspectorate staff and their extended activities. The slight increases under sub-heads D and E (Office of the Public Trustee and the Solicitor's Branch) represent mainly ordinary increments in salary of the staff. An increase of £1,500 is put down for sub-head F (Incidental Expenses of the Solicitor's Branch) which includes among its various items costs awarded in cases of appeal against prices fixed by the Land Commission in proceedings for the acquisition of land under the Land Acts, 1923-'33.

The increase of £2,222 under sub-head H (Payments under Section 11 (7) of the Land Act, 1923) represents the normal additional liability of the State for interest and sinking fund on new land bonds issued under the Land Act, 1923, for contribution to the price of tenanted land and for the Costs Fund.

The big increase under sub-head I (£80,000) (Improvement of Estates, etc.) has been already referred to, but it may be well to emphasise that this expenditure serves the dual purpose of land improvement and the provision of useful employment in agricultural districts. This is an inevitable corollary of the big increase in the division of untenanted land.

The provision under sub-head J (Advance to meet deficiency of Income from Untenanted lands purchased under the Land Acts 1923-'33) remains the same as last year, and does not call for comment. The amount provided under sub-head K (payments under Sections 42 and 46 of the Land Act, 1927) is increased by £1,224, mainly to make provision for any State liability arising in connection with new committee cases for which advances will be made under Section 42.

As regards the Section 46 cases, three more co-operative farming societies have been wound up during the past year and only two of these societies still await dissolution. Sub-heads L (Deficiencies on realisation of Land Bonds) and M (Loss on Unoccupied Holdings) represent only nominal provision, and the same applies to sub-head Q (Payments under Section 34 of the 1931 Act).

Sub-heads N ("Additional Sums" Advances) and O (Provision for cases where Purchase Proceedings are Dismissed or Purchase Price reduced) remain practically unchanged and do not call for comment. Estimates under all these heads are largely problematical. In regard to sub-head O, for example, it is quite impracticable to forecast to what extent the recovery of over-issued bonds may prove to be impossible.

Provision under sub-head P is increased by £500 in order to provide for contingencies, but precise forecasting of such an item is impracticable. The amount provided under sub-head R is increased by £5,000 in order to meet deficiencies in the Land Bond Fund arising from the revision under Part III of the Land Act, 1933, of further annuities, as they are set up.

The amount under sub-head S is reduced by £5,000 as some of the proceedings pending under the Land Acts of 1903 and 1909 have been disposed of during the past year, and the amount of £15,000 is estimated as sufficient to finance in the current year transactions pending under these Acts. Sub-heads T (Payments under Section 14 (4) of the 1933 Act) and U (Advance for payments under Section 17 (J) of the 1933 Act) remain the same as last year and do not require comment.

Under sub-head V, this year a sum of £11,200 will be required to meet the deficiency in the Church Temporalities Fund, due to the funding of arrears of annual payments and the reduction of annual payments under the 1933 Land Act, which deficiency is to be made good out of voted moneys, under Section 18 of that Act. Last year only a nominal sum of £100 was put down under this head, as no reliable estimate of the deficiency could be framed. This deficiency is now estimated at £5,600 for the year 1934-35 and a similar amount for the year 1935-36 so that the sum of £11,200 provided covers the deficiency for the two years. Of this sum £1,000 is in respect of arrears in excess of three years remitted and the balance represents loss of revenue in consequence of reductions in rentals.

Under sub-head W (Fees payable under Section 28 of the Land Act, 1933) an increase of £2,000 is shown. The amount required under this head cannot be accurately forecast, but the round sum of £30,000 will probably be sufficient. The amount required under sub-head X (Writing off of Annuities on submerged lands) is also difficult to estimate, but a round figure of £1,000 is put down. Last year's estimate under this head was only a nominal figure.

The amount of £300 provided under sub-head Y for assistance to migrants from the Gaeltacht is the same as last year. As explained in the course of introducing the Supplementary Estimate for the Land Commission in February last, this sub-head is provided to meet exceptional expenditure to be incurred in connection with the migration of congests from the Gaeltacht to the new colonies to be established in County Meath.

In the course of the debate on the Supplementary Estimate taken early this year I dealt at some length with the Gaelic-speaking settlement near Athboy, which has aroused a good deal of public interest. I may say now that 16 families from the Gaeltacht have been successfully installed in their new homes and are rapidly adapting themselves to the new conditions. This particular settlement is to be completed in the course of this year by the migration of 11 further families, making 27 families in all, as soon as houses and accommodation are prepared for them. We are leaving nothing undone to make this experiment a success and hope that it may set a headline for further schemes of a similar nature and serve the dual purpose of relieving congestion in the Gaeltacht and preserving and extending the use of the Irish language in other areas. Other schemes of a similar nature are at present under consideration.

As regards the Appropriations-in-Aid of the Vote, the total amount for the current year is expected to be less by nearly £9,000 than last year's figure. This reduction is mainly attributable to the reduced amount to be received in repayment of advances from sub-head N of the Vote in respect of "Additional Sums" under Section 28 (3) of the Land Act, 1923, and Section 51 of the Land Act, 1931. The bulk of these advances was made in November, 1931, and as the final instalments of these Additional Sums fell due last year this item will be considerably diminished in future.

As regards the general work of the Land Commission, the past year has witnessed a great advance in the work of land settlement. As stated in the course of the debate on the Supplementary Estimate taken in February last, the Land Commission staff, both outdoor and indoor, have put in a year of exceptionally hard work and have broken all records in the matter of land division.

There has not been time yet to have a final audit on the returns for land division up to the 31st March last, but these returns may be taken as representing accurately the work of the Department for the financial year ending on that date. Taking the nine years, 1926 to 1934, the average amount of untenanted land divided (under the Land Acts, 1923-'33) was 44,534 acres per annum and about 8,000 acres on the C.D.B. and Estates Commissioners' Estates.

Last year—i.e., from April 1st, 1934, to March 31st, 1935—the amount of untenanted land divided was over 102,000 acres. In addition, there were divided on Congested Districts Board and Estates Commissioners' Estates 21,500 acres, making a total division of almost 124,000 acres for the year.

Over and above this there was during the year a re-arrangement of 545 Congested Districts Board holdings amounting to over 20,000 acres. During the year 100.468 acres were acquired under the 1923-'33 Land Acts, which contrasts favourably with 48,000 acres, which was the average per year for the previous nine years.

The expenditure on "Improvements"—i.e., on all building repairs, fencing and development work consequent on division—was £318,723, against an average of £200,000 per annum over the same period.

When it is noted that this enormous increase has been secured at an increased staff cost of approximately 11½ per cent., Deputies will, I think, agree that the work of the Department for the year has been more than creditable. No effort will be spared to maintain and increase land settlement during the present year.

Activities in the other branches of the Land Commission have been well maintained during the past year. The organisation of the purchase branch, which deals with estates of tenanted land, has been strengthened with a view to providing adequate staff for the work of finally re-vesting in the tenants the large number of estates vested in the Land Commission under the Land Act, 1931. In this matter, it is a wise policy to "hasten slowly" and to give the tenants the full benefits of improvement, proper definition of appurtenances, and re-arrangement of their holdings where necessary, prior to vesting. The placing of the tenants on a purchase annuity basis under the provisions of the Land Act, 1931, has obviated the necessity for hasty vesting, as delay does not involve the tenants in any financial loss.

As regards allotting new holdings of untenanted land, vesting does not and will not take place for some considerable time after allottees have been installed. There is a definite and, I think, a sound reason for this delay. It gives the Land Commission an opportunity to see that the new holders will make every effort to make good and not simply turn their lands into cash either by sale or by letting. So long as lands are unvested possession can be retaken and they can be reallotted to other applicants who will use them in a proper manner. In practice, it is expected that at least six to seven years will elapse before vesting takes place. In the meantime the tenant suffers no hardship, as delay in vesting does not prevent all annuity payments being credited to the tenant purchaser in just the same way as if the lands were vested.

Considerable progress has also been made during the past year with the resale of the remaining unvested holdings on the estates acquired by the late Congested Districts Board, and the intricate work of improving and re-arranging these holdings preparatory to vesting has been well advanced.

Good progress is also being made with the distribution of the land bonds representing the purchase prices of estates vested in the Land Commission under the Land Acts, 1923-33. As regards tenanted land a total of £6,500,000 in land bonds—nearly half of the amount representing the price of the estates vested in the Land Commission under the provisions of Section 9 of the Land Act, 1931—has already been distributed. During the past year, taking tenanted and untenanted land together, a total of about £2,500,000 in land bonds was distributed.

One of the most difficult tasks of the Land Commission during the past year has been the punctual collection of land purchase annuities. The returns up to the 31st March last show that since the coming into operation of the Land Act, 1933, as from the November-December gale of 1933, a total amount of £2,771,890 has been collected on account of revised land purchase annuities, leaving arrears of £880,690 at that date over the three gales. That is to say, over three-fourths of the total amount collectible had been already collected on March 31st and the arrear is being steadily reduced. I may mention that since March 31st approximately £150,000 has been collected.

That, in brief, is a summary of the year's work up to March 31st, 1935, and I hope and think you will agree with me that it has been a splendid year's work on the part of the entire staff of the Land Commission. From the Commissioners down to the junior members of the staff there has been constant and consistent loyal service and tireless energy. To the staffs, outdoor and indoor, I attribute the results that I have outlined and I, at least, wish to record here publicly my keen appreciation of and thanks for the efforts they have made.

Mr. Brennan rose.

There is a motion in the name of Deputy Davin that the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration.

I put down this motion: "That the Estimate be referred back for consideration," for the purpose of drawing the attention of the House and seeking the support, if I can, of Deputies with the object of persuading the Minister to review the decision given by him, a decision which is contained in the answer to the question addressed to the Minister in the House here on the 7th May. On that day I addressed the following question to the Minister for Lands: "To ask the Minister for Lands whether men employed at forestry work at Kinnity, Offaly, have been paid at the rate of 22/- per week, and, if so, if he will state how this figure was arrived at or fixed; whether men employed at the same kind of work in adjoining areas in the same constituency are paid at the rate of 28/- a week; whether he will issue immediate instructions for the men concerned to be paid at the rate of 28/- a week and also for payment of any arrears due to any of the men who were paid at any lower rate since the commencement of work in this area."

The Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy O'Grady, replying for the Minister, said:—"The Deputy is correct in stating that the rate of wages paid at Kinnity Forest, Offaly, is 22/-, and that the rate of wages paid at Mountrath Forest, Leix, a few miles distant, is 28/-. This is, however, explained by the fact that the rate for Mountrath was fixed some years ago when the rate of wages for agricultural labourers, to which the matter is related, was higher than at present, but the rate for Mountrath forestry workers has not been reduced. The lands at Kinnity have only recently been acquired, and, accordingly, the rate fixed has relation to the existing rate of wages paid in the district to agricultural labourers. The question of a revision of the rates of wages paid to labourers generally is under consideration at present, but until the review of the whole position is completed it is not possible to state what alterations will be made."

Then I asked the Parliamentary Secretary a supplementary question as to whether he could cite any other case in any of the midland counties where the rate at present paid is as low as in this case, and the Parliamentary Secretary said he could not. I think it is very unfortunate that this new low rate to be paid to forestry workers should have been fixed and put into operation at a time when, as stated in the answer to the question, the question of the revision of the rate of wages paid to labourers generally is under consideration. I hold the view, and the members of this Party share that view, that the revision of the rates of wages to be paid to labourers is being prejudiced by the putting into operation of this low payment of 22/- a week. I suggest to the Minister that he should agree to pay the rate in the adjoining counties until such time as the report of whatever body is investigating this matter has been received and considered by the Minister. It is ludicrous at a time when the House is actually engaged in the discussion of a Conditions of Employment Bill to come along with proposals of this kind. The Conditions of Employment Bill has been brought in by the Government for the purpose of dealing with bad employers and for the purpose of improving, where it can be done, wages and working conditions of men and women engaged in industrial occupations. I think it is a very bad example for the Government—which is supposed to be the best employer in any country—to come along as they are doing and fix this low rate now. I think it is especially a bad thing at a time when we are promised by the Minister for Agriculture that he intends to set up an agricultural wages board for the purpose, I presume, of improving the wages of agricultural labourers and stabilising them at a higher figure than that at which they stand at present.

It is also a very bad example to whatever reactionary local authorities there are in the country. We have had other examples of the same kind of thing in the County of Offaly. There are local authorities only too willing to take advantage of any indications of this kind for the purpose of bringing down the wages of their own workers. In this County of Offaly there was a dispute some time ago regarding the wages paid by building contractors to unskilled labourers engaged in the erection of houses for the county board of health. It was discovered that wages as low as 24/- per week were being paid to these unskilled workers. After a good deal of contention and argument the board of health raised the minimum wages to 30/- per week. I say it is a bad example for the Government to set at a period when we are discussing the improvement of the conditions of workers generally. I understand that this action has been taken by the Minister as a result of a recommendation or decision of what is known as the Wages Advisory Committee. I should like to know whether that committee is more powerful than the Minister in a matter of this kind. If not, then the Minister has power, if he thinks it is right to do it, to revise in an upward direction the decision or recommendation of this secret Wages Advisory Committee.

I can give the Minister particulars of another case where this committee recommended a reduction of wages and where the Parliamentary head of the Department concerned did not accept their decision. It was in connection with the carrying out of an arterial drainage scheme in Laoighis. When the scheme started, 28/- per week was paid. When the work was being completed last year the Wages Advisory Committee, for reasons similar to those given by the Minister in answer to the question, recommended the payment of 24/- per week. The men concerned left their work as soon as they heard they were only to get 24/- instead of 28/-. The matter was brought to the attention of the Department concerned, and the Parliamentary head of the Department, after going into the information at his disposal, made an offer of 26/- per week. That offer was turned down by the men and, finally, the Parliamentary head of the Department concerned — the Board of Works — agreed that the wages to be paid on this particular scheme should be 28/-, as was paid when the work commenced. I suggest, and I hope the Minister will not deny, that he has as much power, if not greater power in matters of this kind, as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance. If he has, I hope he will exercise it in the same way as it was exercised in the case I referred to.

Another reason, and perhaps a more important reason than any of these given, as to why this policy should not be adopted in present circumstances is that, if this policy is pursued by this Department or any other Department of the Government, it means that the Government are deliberately using their machinery to force down the wages of the lowest paid workers in the Government service, at the same time, as the Ministry well know, that the cost of living of these people is going up. The operations of the Budget, as well as other resolutions recently passed by this House, have put up the price of tea, sugar, flour, bread, and butter, articles which are consumed by people such as those employed on work of this kind.

I hope the Deputy is not forgetting tobacco.

I voted for the tax on tobacco because I look upon it as a semi-luxury. In any case, Deputy Dillon heard from these benches the reason why we voted for a tax of that kind. We are not as foolish as the Deputy. We believe that money must be found from some source for the maintenance of the existing social services. The Deputy can have a present, for the second time, of the admission that I voted with my eyes open for the tax on tobacco in existing circumstances, and he can make as much political capital as he likes in the country and in my constituency out of that matter. However, I would ask the Minister to realise that it is a wrong thing, at a time when the cost of living has gone up, to bring forward proposals of this kind for reducing the wages of workers employed on forestry schemes.

I am led to believe that this secret Wages Advisory Committee arrives at its conclusions or recommendations in regard to wages on information supplied as to the agricultural rates prevailing in those areas. I understand they get somebody to furnish them with particulars as to the wages paid by representative farmers in the areas where the work is being carried out. I have seen evidence in the case I refer to where they were supplied with wrong information. It was admitted that wrong information was supplied and, therefore, the decision of the Committee was based on wrong information I suggest that the same thing may possible apply in this case.

By way of information, I should like to know if we are discussing all the Minister's Estimates together.

I am deliberately dealing with the one issue.

I understand that the wages referred to by the Deputy were paid in connection with afforestation. The Vote before us is a Vote for Lands. There is a separate Vote for Forestry.

I suggest that this is a matter of policy to be raised on the Vote for the Minister's salary.

I do not know whether the House desires to debate the two votes together.

There is a motion to refer the third Estimate back. Nos. 1 and 2 could be discussed together.

We would prefer to take them separately.

General policy is usually discussed on the Vote which includes the Minister's salary. The purpose of the motion to refer back is to enable the policy of the Land Commission to be discussed.

I put the motion down because his salary comes under that sub-head. This is a matter of policy and Deputy Dillon ought to know that that is the only way it can be raised in this House. When the Deputy interrupted me, I was referring to what I believed to be the procedure adopted by the Wages Advisory Committee. I want to say that I am personally aware that many farmers, if not all the farmers in my constituency, pay higher wages than those paid in this particular case. It would be most unusual in my constituency for any farmer employing agricultural labourers causually, for instance for the pulling of beet, at a lower wage than 4/- per day. In addition to that, I can give the names of representative farmers who give these men their dinner as well as paying them the 4/- per day. Consequently, I think there is no ground whatever for the recommendation or decision of the Wages Advisory Committee in this case.

I hope the Minister will take further steps to find out the facts regarding the existing rates of wages paid to agricultural labourers by representative farmers in the county concerned. I should like to point out to the Minister that three miles away from the very place where this work is being carried on other men, doing the same class of work, have been and are still being paid at the rate of 28/- per week. There is no case which could be cited where a rate so low as in this case has been put into operation. The county council for the county concerned pay their road workers 30/- per week, and that has always been taken as the general standard for work of this kind. The building contractors who are employed in erecting houses for the Offaly Board of Health are obliged by the terms of their contract to pay a minimum rate of 30/- per week and the Irish and General Transport Workers' Union have a dispute on demanding a payment of 36/- instead of 30/- per week. I may say, for the Minister's information, that the rate paid in North Tipperary is 35/- per week and in the adjoining County of Leix it is 38/- per week.

It is £2 per week in Tipperary.

I am obliged to the Deputy for his information. I was informed that it was 35/-. I cannot believe that the Minister himself is in favour of forcing down wages under present circumstances, and I must confess that I know of no case where the Minister himself has been a party to that policy at any time. I appeal to the Minister now to reconsider this whole question and, without prejudice, say that he is prepared to pay these workers, in this isolated case, at the rate normally and previously prevailing, and leave the matter open until the report on the general revision of these cases comes before the Department for their decision. I believe that their final report is being prejudiced by the rate of wages paid in this particular case, and I appeal to the Minister to exercise his personal influence, and to exercise his authority, which I believe he has, to rule favourably on this particular case.

I saw where the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs delivered a speech on a recent occasion at Boyle in the County Roscommon, and where, apparently under pressure from his own people, he made the statement that the present rates of wages and salaries paid by the Government in this country could not be carried by an agricultural country such as this. I was wondering what class of worker the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs had in mind when he made that statement, and I was wondering, in that connection, what was his responsibility for the recent decision of the Government to pay a salary of £2,000 a year, free of income tax, and with other perquisites, to the chairman of the Sugar Manufacturing Company and a salary of £3,850, also with perquisites, to the managing director of the same company. Surely, the ratepayers and the farmers of the country will have to bear that. I have nothing to say against the individuals concerned. I dare say that they are experts and the best that could be found in any country for their particular job, but the civil servant who was taken out of the Department of Agriculture had his salary doubled at the same time when these ordinary workers, to whom I am referring, have had their wages reduced. If it is good policy to pay these increased salaries to the chairman and managing director of the Sugar Manufacturing Company, I suggest that the Minister will not disagree with me when I say that the same policy should be applied in the case of the lowest paid workers in the Government service.

I do not want to delay the general discussion on the other questions that will naturally come up for consideration on a Vote of this kind. I do not think it should be necessary for me to use any further arguments or to give any further figures in order to try to convince the Minister that this case should be reconsidered for the purpose and object of giving the men who have been working or who still work on this small forestry scheme the same consideration in regard to wages as has been given in all the other cases to all the other men employed in other parts of the country on the same class of work. I want to make it clear also that, so far as the general administration of this Department is concerned, I have no reason to complain. Deputies from these benches will raise other matters under the various sub-heads, I am sure, but I think that the issue raised by the Minister, in answer to my question on the 7th May last, was sufficiently serious to justify me, on behalf of the members of this Party, in asking the Minister. if necessary, to take back this Vote for the purpose of favourably reviewing the decision announced in the reply then given.

There are two matters of administration, Sir, which appear to be a settled policy of the Land Commission Department at the present time, to which I want to draw attention and with which I am in entire disagreement. One is with regard to the size of holding which is considered to be an economic holding at the present time. Some years ago, when agriculture was prosperous and when, even before depression set in either here or in any other place all over the world, and before we had an economic war on, it was considered that any holding under £15 valuation was an uneconomic holding. If a holding of a valuation of £15 was considered to be an uneconomic holding when agriculture was in a good and sound position and was paying its way, what are we to think of a holding of £10 valuation to-day? That is what we have at the present time. We have the Land Commission dividing the land in County Roscommon, where I live, and the valuation of each holding there is about £10. That is considered to be an economic holding and sufficient to enable a man to live in comfort and bring up his family on. I do not agree with that at all. I do not think there is any reason for assuming that what was an economic holding three, four, or ten years ago is to-day an economic holding. Surely, the Minister for Lands is convinced now that agriculture is not able to pay its way. Agriculture at the present moment is living upon a dole, and it is a case of feeding the dog with his own tail, and that is bound to come to an end. Surely the Minister and the Government know that. How the Land Commission can consider that under the altered circumstances or under any circumstances, a holding of £10 valuation is now an economic holding, is more than I can understand. We have farms of land being broken up wholesale and divided up into holdings of £10 valuation. The State is building houses and stables on such holdings, and a man is expected to be able to occupy that holding and bring up a family and support them in comfort on such a holding.

What would be the average acreage?

It depends on the valuation. It varies according to the quality of the land. For instance, in my own locality, at a place called Oran, it is about 9 acres for a £10 valuation. In other places it would be, perhaps, 15 acres, according to the quality of the land.

There is another matter to which I wish to draw attention. I want to take the Land Commission to task for the manner in which they are treating local authorities with regard to tenants of labourers' cottages. Some of these tenants in labourers' cottages will, I have no doubt, make excellent farmers if you give them the opportunity, but the Land Commission is giving them land at present and making farmers of them, when it knows, or ought to know, that once those people come into possession of land to any extent, they are immediately ineligible for occupation of labourers' cottages. If the law were to be carried out, boards of health would be obliged to evict all those people.

There would not be many to evict.

There would be quite a number in my county. In the 1927 Act, that difficulty was foreseen and a clause was inserted whereby the Land Commission can buy those cottages from the local authority, pay them whatever valuation is fixed, and make these people tenant farmers, if you like. In Roscommon, in my immediate vicinity, no fewer than eight of these cottiers have been given land lately. We have a number of applications for these houses, and we want to build the cottages very badly. The Land Commission are holding back and will not do anything with regard to these houses. If they came to the assistance of the local authorities by making an allowance for these houses, it would enable us to build further houses for the labourers who require them.

I drew attention to this matter when the Local Government Vote was going through some time ago. I think some pressure ought to be brought to bear on the Land Commission to see that they do their duty in this respect. The tenants themselves are in a very insecure position. They are the tenants of the local authority, in the first instance, and they are irregular tenants once they become owners of land. If the Land Commission would carry out the provisions of this section in the 1927 Land Act, it would enable local authorities to go ahead with the work of building cottages which are very much needed. There is no use in one Government Department shouting about housing while some other Department holds it up.

The figures given by the Minister with regard to the collection of annuities were very interesting, but I am afraid that the Minister scarcely realises the very heavy responsibilities he has at present in being the Government agent for the carrying out of certain very distasteful duties in the country. In view of the hopes expressed by the Minister with regard to the collection of the annuities, it is rather interesting to note that, while he expresses the hope that the collection of the land annuities will improve, and says that, as a matter of fact, it is steadily improving, we have figures in Iris Oifigiúil of June 4th, with regard to certain annuities that have been paid. From 1st April, 1934, to 1st June, 1934, there was paid in under a certain heading a sum of £88,720; for the same period this year the amount paid in was £38,774, or a drop of £59,946. Those figures are taken from Iris Oifigiúil of two days ago. They are very interesting figures and I am afraid they do not bear out the hopes expressed by the Minister with regard to an improvement in collection of land annuities.

The Minister told us that he has collected a sum of £2,771,890, leaving a balance outstanding from 31st March of £880,690. In reply to a question which I put down on 21st March, 1935, asking for particulars with regard to the Annuities Fund and the sums credited to that Fund, both from the collection of land annuities and withdrawals from the Guarantee Fund, I got the following figure: from 31/7/33 to 31/1/34 and on to 31/1/35, there was collected a sum of £1,869,904. There was, however, in the Suspense Account, as I think it was called at the time, on 30th March, 1933, after the passing of the 1933 Act, a sum of practically £3,000,000, which, of course, the Government duly collared for the Exchequer. Further, there were transfers from the Guarantee Fund, on foot of unpaid annuities. On 31/1/34, £337,000 were transferred from the Guarantee Fund to the Annuities Fund; on 31/7/34, £496,000; and on 31/1/35, £517,000. There was an increase all the time. These sums were sums that were deducted from the grants due to local authorities and, all together, we find that although the amount collected to date, according to the Minister to-day, was only some £2,771,000 odd, the Exchequer has benefited from the annuities by the extent of £7,100,750. They have benefited, firstly, from the £2,900,000 which they got from the Suspense Account and, secondly, from the grants withheld from local authorities.

They claim credit also, of course, for doing a very generous act towards local authorities by making a payment of £1,403,371 into the Guarantee Fund on 31st July, 1933. There is no credit due to the Land Commission or the Government for doing that. It was money which ordinarily would have gone into the coffers of the local authorities. It was money which it was computed at the time would arise on the funded arrears. Notwithstanding the fact that the Government has benefited to the extent of over £7,000,000 from this Fund, we find that the collection of annuities is being carried out all over the country by the Land Commission and the Government authorities with great harshness, and, so far as we can see at least, without any enquiry into the condition of the people who are supposed to owe this money. I remember hearing it stated from this side of the House when the present Government were in opposition and variously stated by the President in election speeches, that one of the things the Government were going to do when they came into power was to enquire into certain estates which were bought up at an enhanced price, and annuities fixed much above the value of the land, and see to what extent they could remedy that state of affairs. I want to know from the Minister what inquiries have been made in that respect, and if it is not possible, and very probable, that some of these people whose stock are being seized to-day and who are being driven to the verge of ruin are the people whom the President endeavoured to convince the country he had in mind when he made those statements.

The present position with regard to the collection of the annuities in the country is not satisfactory. It is very unsatisfactory. Nobody on this side or any other side of the House wants to condone violence or resistance to what is, for the time being, the law of the land. I think that the Land Commission has a very heavy responsibility in this matter, and that they certainly ought to make some inquiry and very seriously consider what is going to be the net result of all this. There is one thing that this country need not go anywhere to learn, and that is that violence and physical force have been the result of injustice. It does not matter what the law of the land is, it does not matter what the people's obligations are towards their own Government, you will find people who will always meet injustice with violence. Even though we do not condone that, we can very well understand it, when a man finds his very livelihood being taken from him for a debt which is undoubtedly being paid to two people. We have, for instance, the statement made by Mr. Thomas the other day with regard to his collection. The President, here in the House, admitted that Britain was collecting those annuities. It is certainly an injustice to ask any man to pay the one debt twice. Until this injustice is removed or met in some way—and I say the responsibility in this matter rests largely on the Land Commission as the agent of the Government—I am afraid you will possibly have opposition of a type that people do not wish to see in this country. It is a sorry sight at this hour of the day to see the stock belonging to people who have worked hard on farms, people who have been born on them, being brought in, and not sold but given away. I am afraid that when the history of the present period is being written, when we are all dead and gone, it certainly will not cast any credit on the present Government.

I think that there is one thing due to this country from the Land Commission, and I would say also from Local Government, and it is that in this matter of the collection of land annuities the reactions of the uncollected annuities are so great on local authorities that there ought to be some consultation between, say, the Land Commission and Local Government to see that local authorities are put in possession of the proper figures, so that they will know where they are when they are drafting their estimates and striking their rates. The Minister for Lands told us to-day that since 31st March a sum of £150,000 has been collected from land annuities. That may be a source of some solace to the Minister for Finance, but it is none whatever to the local authorities. They did not get it. It is held up until next February or March, or till some other time. I think, in fairness to local administration, that the Government ought to be able to devise some means whereby credit will be given to local authorities for the sums of money which come in and which originally have been denied them. This is a matter which concerns everybody, no matter what politics he has or what Party he belongs to. If the local authorities fail because the Land Commission will not do its job, or is not able to do its job, or is not doing its job properly, the whole country is going to suffer. I think that some attempt ought to be made, even at this hour of the day, to meet the situation which exists with regard to local authorities and the withholding of grants.

There is no use in thinking that while the present condition of affairs exists you are going to have an improvement in the collection of land annuities. In previous days I remember when certain officials of the Land Commission held the view that if they seized people's stock for the year's annuities they took away those people's stock-in-trade and way of living, and it simply gave them no chance whatever of collecting next year's annuities. I am afraid there has been a departure from that. I am afraid that to some extent—to a very large extent in some parts of the country— there is victimisation. I should like to know if live stock and furniture are being seized for one half-year's instalment in some cases, while in other cases people who owe two, three or four instalments are not bothered about it at all. Surely if a Government Department like the Land Commission sets out to discriminate between people in this way, and I am told they have done so, it has come to a very poor time of day.

With regard to the Government's migration policy, I hope it will be a success, but in expressing that hope I have a certain amount of fear. However, as far as I am concerned, I wish them good luck in it, but it will take a lot of courage, a lot of time, and I am afraid a lot of money to make it a success of such a kind as is apparently contemplated by the Government. Another matter which the Minister mentioned was that he does not think it wise for the Government to proceed with vesting the land in the new tenants for at least six or seven years. I think I remember very fierce onslaughts being made on the late Government from this side of the House about the non-vesting of land for anything like six or seven years. After all, if you are going to give a tenant the interest which he ought to have in his holding, you ought to fund it for him. The Minister made a statement in that respect which I do not understand. He said that, although the holding would not be vested, the payments could be credited towards the tenant. I wonder what exactly does that mean? Does it mean that if a man gets a holding of land from the Land Commission, and if it is not vested for six or seven years, eventually when it is vested the payments made during those years will be put to his credit with regard to repayment of the loan? I should like to have that matter cleared up. If that is not so, I should like to know what the Minister means. If it is so, I should like to know what machinery he has for dealing with such a matter as that.

In introducing this Estimate I could see that the Minister was very anxious as regards the giving of land to the migrants from the Irish-speaking areas of the Gaeltacht. Deputy Brennan has stated that he wishes that policy every success. So do I, but I also wish to point out to the Minister that in those areas where land is to be divided up he should give primary consideration and first preference to the tenants or their descendants who have been evicted out of their lands during the land war in this country. We have a great number of those people in the country. Thousands of them were thrown on the roadside during the land agitation and many of them had to take the emigrant ship and seek a living in foreign countries. Now when we have our own Government those people should get first consideration. The Government should put back the wounded soldiers of the land war, or their descendants, on the lands their people formerly occupied. I hope the Minister will give that suggestion serious consideration. We have a lot of derelict farms that are white elephants to the Land Commission. I should like to know what the Minister intends to do with these farms, which are now in an uncultivated state. There are thousands of unemployed drawing unemployment assistance benefit, and great numbers of these people could be employed to great advantage if they got plots on the derelict farms to till and so enable them to raise the necessaries of life, growing potatoes and other vegetables.

And wheat.

They would be well employed doing a little work of that sort on the derelict farms instead of sitting down from morning till night contemplating mischief and devilment. It is a well known fact that the devil tempts the idle. As regards the seizing of cattle from defaulting land annuitants, it is painful to see the sheriff's officers going round seizing cattle, depriving farmers of their means of livelihood. I should like to have some commission set up to investigate those cases and, where farmers are not in a position to pay, they should be assisted by the Government to restock their farms. Instead of seizing their cattle, that is the policy that should be adopted, and in that way a lot of employment would be given. I hope the Minister will give my remarks serious consideration, particularly with regard to the redistribution of lands and the breaking up of estates. I would be very much interested to see the evicted tenants, the remnants of them, and their descendants, put back on the homesteads of their ancestors. We must remember that they fought one of the greatest wars ever fought in this country against landlordism and tyranny. Now when we have a national Government, the least compensation the descendants of those people should get is to reinstate them in the homes of their forefathers.

Would it not make a cat sick to watch Deputy Kent getting up here and talking about the evicted tenants, the soldiers of the land war, when in his own constituency, at the present time, the stock and other property of his own neighbours are being taken out at the orders of the Minister whom the Deputy has been addressing and sold for a tithe of their value? His neighbours are being reduced to destitution and misery of a kind that was never inflicted upon the Irish people by Clanricarde or Barrymore or any other landlord, and Deputy Kent has not the courage or the manliness to say one word in their defence. He gets up here rambling about the setting up of a commission to enquire into the capacity of the people to pay. Why has he not got the courage to speak for the man whose cattle were taken from his own neighbourhood, brought into Fermoy and sold there, 87 of them for £90, to a Government agent? The same cattle were brought to Belfast and sold there by the agent for £725 and the money was put into the Government agent's pocket. Has Deputy Kent anything to say about that? Would it not be better for him to talk about the oppression carried on throughout the country by Fianna Fáil than to be rambling about what happened in 1885? What happened in 1885 was met by a united people and overcome. What is being done to-day to the sons of those farmers by the Fianna Fáil Party could be overcome too if gentlemen like Deputy Kent would only put their shoulders to the wheel and make it clear to the Government that they were not prepared to stand for activities of that kind.

Here we have the Deputy rambling about a commission of enquiry. Does it need a commission of enquiry to prove the fact that it is legalised robbery on the part of the Minister for Lands to take the cattle belonging to any farmer in Cork and sell them for less than £1 apiece and line the pockets of his own bailiffs at the fairs and markets of Belfast? These men are being robbed under the shadow and the cloak of legality by the Minister for Lands. I say that every Deputy of the Fianna Fáil Party who stands for highway robbery of that kind is a disgrace to his country and is deserving of the censure of every decent man. I have heard Fianna Fáil Deputies laughing at the description of the seizures going on in Cork. I have heard them laughing when scenes were being described where farmers tried to buy their cattle back. Cattle were bid for and they were knocked down, but the farmers were obliged to say "We could not raise the money" and the cattle were then sold to an agent for £1 or 30/- a head, brought to Belfast and there sold for £7 10s. 0d. to £10 apiece. Deputy Kent will go rambling here once a month telling us that the failure to pay the land annuities is due to a conspiracy by the Imperialists. Would it not make a cat sick to hear hypocrisy of that kind and to hear tub-thumping orations about the glorious days that are gone? God help this country that it has not in it now men of the same type as were in it 50 years ago. If we had, that kind of conduct would not be going on, and any Government that would attempt it would not survive six months, not to mind three years.

Is it by the Minister's authority or with his approval that the bailiffs or agents are taking cattle from the farmers around Fermoy, selling 79 of them for £90, then taking them to Belfast and selling them there for £725? I want to ask the Minister does he stand for legalised robbery of that kind? That is only one case, but there are many others of exactly the same kind. I do not care whether a farmer or an agricultural representative in this House is sitting on the Labour, the Fianna Fáil or any other Benches— does he stand for robbery of that kind? —because it is robbery. Does he imagine Clanricarde or Barrymore in their worst days, when they were turning people out on the side of the road, were treating their tenants with any greater savagery or any greater inhumanity than Senator Connolly is treating the farmers of this country at the present time?

The Deputy means the Minister for Lands.

I beg your pardon, the Minister for Lands. Deputies have before them conclusive evidence that it is not a question of any of these men rightly or wrongly withholding payment out of any sense of loyalty to their neighbours; but it is a case of men who literally are unable to raise the money to pay the annuities.

I say here with the fullest sense of responsibility that never during the whole period of the land war, and taking the most vindictive landlord that ever appeared in this country, has such tyranny and barbarity been practised on the small farmers of this country as has been practised by the Minister for Lands to-day. In itself, the thing is evil. In itself, the thing is wrong, but it has inherent in it a danger which ought to be present to the minds of anybody who was born in rural Ireland. I do not expect the Minister for Lands to understand this, for he knows nothing of rural conditions in this country. He is completely out of sympathy with the people who live on the land. He cannot realise that there was a land war in this country, that there was a great agrarian movement stirred up which was directed against the British Government. So far as it was directed against the British Government it was so much to the good, for that Government was acting against the interests of the Irish people. But to-day there is imminent danger of reviving the spirit of a similar movement and directing it against the national Government elected by the majority of the people of this country. So far as that spirit may be evoked and roused with a view of bringing pressure to bear against the Government elected by the majority of the Irish people, it would be an unqualified evil.

There is no use closing our eyes to the fact that anyone who has been brought up in the spirit of the Land League atmosphere or in the movement to smash the landlords, knows perfectly well that if the Minister for Lands takes up the methods and adopts the role of the evicting landlord in any area in this country, that Land League spirit is going to be revived, and you are going to have a desperate fight to the finish between the victimised farmers and the Government elected by the majority of the Irish people. To my mind, no greater evil could be brought upon the people of the country than that the splendid movement which reaped so much for the Irish people should be revived in a fresh form to-day, because it would be associated in the minds of the people with a movement ending up in the establishment of anarchy. Nobody but a fool is going to set out to reduce thousands of farmers in rural Ireland to destitution without knowing that he is going to bring down upon his back the same spirit which faced the British authorities and the landlords when it was necessary to do so.

I appeal to the Government now to stop this wholesale victimisation of the agricultural community. Where the people fail to pay their annuities let the Government proceed by ordinary process of law, let them get writs against the farmers in the courts, and proceed to collect the annuities by legalised process. Let them put an end finally to the system of sending out the sheriffs and the bailiffs to people who are unable to feed their families. I read in this House some time ago a case where a farmer in the President's own constituency was brought before the local courts in Clare; a civil bill had been issued against him for rates. That man was a small tenant purchaser in rural Ireland and I have no doubt that under the Land Commission system a warrant would issue against that man for his land annuities, and whatever cattle he may have would have been seized. We would have been told that that man was acting as part of a conspiracy to withhold the collection of land annuities and rates. That would be said by men without knowing the local conditions. I am asking the Government to issue civil bills in the old form and give the farmers an opportunity of putting their cases in court. Here is the case as it came before the Ennis District Court: "John Clune, Ballymarkham, Quin, was sued for non-payment of £10 14s. 10d. rates. He said that he and his eight in family were actually starving. He had a loan of a cow from a neighbour for some time but even that had now gone back. He had not eaten a bit of meat for the past two years, and his children had to walk to school every morning after eating dry bread at their breakfast. The rate collector said there was no doubt about it the man was actually starving, the price of cattle being reduced to a couple of pounds has hit them very much. They had only young cattle and had to sell them to feed their children. They had no money then to replace the stock."

Now, that is one case that has come into court. You are asking the officials of the Land Commission and this House to go to the house of people of that kind and seize anything which they have got and sell it. When these facts are brought to the attention of members of this House they jeer and sneer at the despised farmers and charge them with conspiracy to withhold the collection of the land annuities. Are the Fianna Fáil Party gone mad or have the members of the Fianna Fáil Party lost all sense of decency and responsibility? I do not want them, if they had been publicly equal to it, to get up here and make the case in the Dáil for these farmers, but I want them to go to their own Ministers and tell them that these are the things that are happening in the country and tell them that something has got to be done by way of relieving the strain on the people. Unless they take action like that I warn these Deputies and I warn Ministers that that situation will wind up in anarchy and that it will develop into war. I say such a development would be nothing less than a disaster of great magnitude.

It devolves upon every public man in this country to exercise all the influence he has got with every individual supporter whom he can reach and warn him of the dangers of violent action against the Government elected by the majority of the people and warn him against attempting Land League action against that Government. But whatever each of us may like to do with our individual supporters we are powerless unless the members of the Fianna Fáil Government can persuade Ministers of the facts of the situation. We cannot make the Minister believe what the real situation is but he will believe his own colleagues, and if the Fianna Fáil Deputies bring pressure to bear on him and bring him to realise the truth of the situation that exists then there is not the slightest danger of disorder accruing in the country. I say that because I know those people as the Deputies on the other side of the House know them. They are anxious to pay their annuities as they always paid them. Not alone are they anxious to meet their obligations and pay their annuities but they have a sentimental obligation to honour the bond that their fathers and their grandfathers entered into. They will pay every penny of what is due. But if you drive them into poverty, starvation and destitution you have to face the fact that no matter what I say, and no matter what you say, the neighbours of these men will rally round them. If one individual is to be victimised every decent man will get up and say, "Injustice of that kind will not pass without protest and if the Government want to destroy that man, then we will all be destroyed together." I ask Deputies on the opposite side to face the facts. Let them ask themselves do they stand for the taking of 78 cattle from two or three farmers, selling them at the sheriff's sale in Fermoy, for £90 and leaving them to be sold at a subsequent sale in Belfast for £725? Do Deputies stand for robbery of that kind? Then if you do not, go to your own Minister and make him mend his hand.

There is another aspect which I do not intend to raise on this Vote. It is a matter that could be more appropriately raised on the Attorney-General's Department or on the Vote for Law Charges. Leaving out the question of legality and facing it only as an issue of morality and common Christianity, ask yourselves if any human being can be expected to endure treatment of that kind in silence? Ask yourselves if you would wish that to be done to any of your own neighbours? Ask yourselves is it not a strange thing with that happening almost at Deputy Kent's door that he would not have the courage to come here and warn the Government that that sort of thing has got to stop and that he was going to do everything in his power to put an end to it?

I want to ask the Minister another categorical question: Does the Minister for Lands stand for the statement made by the Minister for Defence during the week-end in which he said that he would warn the tenant purchasers of this country that if they did not use their land in the way he thought they ought to, the Government would take the land from them and give it to somebody else?

The Minister is responsible for the administration of his own Department and not for the pronouncements of any other Minister.

I am just asking him the question: does he make himself responsible for that? If he says: "The Minister for Defence is only an irreresponsible ass and I do not take any responsibility for what he says," that finishes that, and I say no more about it. He has not said that. I take it that the Minister for Defence, speaking on an occasion of that kind and with full knowledge of what he was saying, had consulted the responsible Minister for Lands. The Chair will remember that for a long time the Minister for Defence was Acting-Minister for Lands and is, no doubt, conversant with the policy which dominates that Department. Does the Minister stand for that policy? If he does, do Deputies behind him stand for the doctrine that if a neighbour differs from them as to the most advantageous method of conducting the agricultural industry on their holding, the Minister for Lands is entitled to come in and take the holding off them and give it to somebody else? Or does he stand for the traditional view that obtained in this country heretofore, that fixity of tenure was an essential part of the new Irish land tenure system?

I remember when the Land Bill of 1933 was passing through the House I went so far as to say on the Second Reading of that Bill that it meant the end of fixity of tenure in this country. I remember the Minister for Defence getting hysterical at such a suggestion being made. I remember Fianna Fáil Deputies saying that I was concerned for nothing but to make cheap political propaganda out of a trivial section which was there only for administrative purposes. But now we discover that, having deluded this House into vesting powers of compulsory acquisition of land purchased under previous Land Acts, without any obligation to provide the tenant with an equally suitable holding, on the pretext that it was merely an administrative necessity to simplify the routine work of the Department, the Acting-Minister for Lands, who piloted the 1933 Act through this House, announces that he is going to use that power to strip any man in this country, who does not agree with that cracked agricultural policy of Fianna Fáil, of his land and to evict him and give the land to a covetous neighbour.

I will give the Minister a challenge. I hold land bought under the Land Commission. I would not be seen dead carrying out in detail the present Government's agricultural policy on my land. I would blush for shame to admit that I converted one acre, or one rood, or one perch of it to wheat growing, or to beet growing, or any other of the tomfoolery that masquerades as the Fianna Fáil agricultural policy, and I dare you to come down and take an acre off me. I speak for hundreds and thousands of farmers in this country.

What are you doing?

Let me say this: if under that section the Government attempt to take the land off anybody I will be prepared to go and stand at his gate and contest their ability to do it. We fought for fixity of tenure in this country, and I do not believe there is a single voter in the whole of Saorstát Eireann who ever voted in Fianna Fáil to take that fixity of tenure from us. If you do it, you do it by fraud and false pretences. That principle has been defended before and it will be defended again. So far as I am concerned, let the Minister for Defence come down and take the land off any man who has raised his family upon it and is trying to get a decent livelihood out of it, and see what will happen. Let the Minister have the courage to say: Does he stand for what the Minister for Defence said or does he not? I prefer to think he does not.

The Minister for Lands is not answerable for the speeches of other Ministers. The speeches made in the current by-election campaigns might, I submit, be answered on the hustings.

I quite agree that speeches made by the rank and file of the Party are not appropriate for discussion here, but a Minister of State is a very different person. I desire to bring my observation strictly within the rules of order, and so I put it to the Minister for Lands: Is it the policy of the Minister for Lands on this Estimate, which contains the money sequestered for his salary, to take land off anybody who is not prepared to cultivate it in accordance with the Fianna Fáil agricultural policy and to give it to somebody else who is prepared to do it?

In asking that question the Deputy is quite in order; but in issuing a challenge to the Minister for Defence on the Vote of the Minister for Lands I submit he was not in order.

I am prepared to conform to that. If, in the heat of the moment, I was carried outside the scope of order, I desire to express my regret. The question which I have now put to the Minister is the categorical inquiry which I adumbrated at the beginning of my observations. In introducing the Estimate, the Minister dwelt at some length on the distribution of land by the Department of Lands in the financial year 1934-35. These figures were not quite easy to understand. I think he said that in that period he distributed over 100,000 acres of land. That, I take it, includes the land given to persons who already had holdings, to enlarge their holdings, and land given to new tenants, given to persons who did not hold any land heretofore under the Land Commission. I think the Minister would help us greatly if, instead of referring to the average distribution of land over the ten-years period, he would give us the actual distribution of land on the same basis as the 100,000-acre figure for the years since 1924-25; just as he did in his Parliamentary answer of 13th February, 1935, as reported in column 1833, Volume 54 (No. 6) of the Official Reports, where he set out the amount of land which was distributed in each county to persons who were provided by the Land Commission with new agricultural holdings as distinct from the enlargement of existing holdings for the relief of congestion and from the ordinary rearrangement of tenanted land.

I should like to ask the Minister did his statement to-day apply to the distribution of land as to new agricultural holdings, plus enlargement of existing holdings, plus land distributed for the relief of congestion and the rearrangement of existing tenanted land; or did his figures apply only or purport to apply to new holdings? If his figures applied to the first category which I have suggested, would he be good enough to give us the total distribution of land for each category in each year from 1925 to 1935, either by way of memorandum or in his concluding observations on this Estimate? I think it is right to draw the attention of the House to the fact that, when the Minister is rejoicing in his achievment in that distribution of land, we all remember that the great object of Fianna Fáil was to restore the people to the land. Now, what are the facts? The facts, as revealed by the Minister's own Parliamentary reply, to which I have just referred, are that, in the first three years of Fianna Fáil's administration, they distributed less land than Cumann na nGaedheal distributed in any year since Cumann na nGaedheal came into office.

That is extraordinary.

Well, here are the figures. The following are the figures for new holdings created by the Department of Lands in each of the years from 1925 to 1931, inclusive, and it must be remembered that these are new holdings; that they do not contain a lot of other distribution of lands that was in hands by the Department. These are the figures for the new holdings:—


42,726 acres


22,835 ,,


31,643 ,,


31,480 ,,


23,276 ,,


27,553 ,,


23,122 ,,

Now, these figures relate to the calendar year. I will ask Deputies to note that, because the Christian Government came into office in January, 1932. When they landed, the first year of Christianity produced 18,434 acres; the second year of Christianity produced 15,085 acres; and the third year of Christianity produced 14,396 acres. So that, compared with the three first years of the Christian Government, the Pagan Government was able to outshine them all along the line. Now, so far as individuals accommodated with these new holdings are concerned, let us compare the records of the Christian Government with the Pagan Government. The Pagans, in 1926, put 684 new families on the land. In 1927, the Pagans put 864 new families on the land; in 1928, they put 982 new families on the land; in 1929, they settled 711; and in 1930 the number of new families put on the land by the Pagan Government was 1,013.

All Pagans?

No, Sir, the practice of putting one's political followers on the land, to the exclusion of everybody else, started with the advent of the Christian Government in 1932. To continue, however; in 1931, 614 new families were put on the land. Now we come to 1932. In 1932, the Christians arrived and the number of new families put on the land dropped to 456. In 1933, the Christian Government put 517 persons on to 15,000 acres of land, and in 1934 they put 485 persons on new holdings.

Would the Deputy give us the figures for 1926 again?

Can he give us any indication as to the size of the holdings?

Now, let us not follow it too closely.

It would be very advisable for that.

I gave the House the total acreage for each year and the total number of persons put on the land for each year. My object in quoting these figures is to show that, when figures are being quoted for a particular purpose, credit should not be withheld from anybody, and the facts should not be obscured. If we want to find averages and so forth, let us not, when striking an average, only bring into the calculation the three years of Fianna Fáil administration which, as I have shown, according to these figures, were very much worse than the years while their predecessors were in office. The Minister's comparison was made for the very obvious purpose of reflecting on the Minister's predecessors, although it was suggested that it was made for no other purpose than to pay a tribute to the zeal and efficiency of the Land Commission officials. The comparison, however, was made without comment. If there is to be a comparison made, let it be an honest comparison, and let the figures for each year be given on the same basis. When we get them we will be able to discuss the figures laid before us somewhat more intelligently.

There is one last matter to which I should like to refer. It has been ruled that this is the appropriate moment to raise the question of the rates of wages paid on the forestry schemes. I understand that the rate of wages is 22/- a week.

That is only in one place.

It is agreed that this aspect of the debate will not be resumed on the Forestry Vote?

I am sure, Sir, that you will deal with that when it arises, but I submit, Sir, with all respect, that you decided that this would be an appropriate place for the discussion of this matter of the rates of wages paid on forestry schemes, and I have no doubt that, if anybody attempts to raise it later on, you, Sir, with your usual impartiality and prudence, will direct them from the error of their ways. Deputy Davin worked himself up into a passion about the 22/- per week paid in Offaly. I do not blame Deputy Davin for working himself up into a pother about it. But does Deputy Davin know that in County Wexford, the Minister for Agriculture's own county, they are paying 18/- a week? Does he know that all over this country agricultural wages have been steadily beaten down until, I venture to say, 24/- a week would be a high figure to take as the wages paid generally? I venture to say that in some counties, such as, for instance, Wexford, Laoighis or Offaly, he would find that a wage of more than 24/- would be the exception rather than the rule.

For casual labourers.

For any kind of labour, and Deputy Davin knows it well.

For agricultural work.

For casual work.

I do not mind whether they are casual or permanent workers. Take a man who is working 12 or 14 hours a day, as we all know they have to work at this time of the year in the country, such a man, at the present time, would consider himself lucky to get 24/- a week. I know of cases where they are getting 20/- net and no perquisites. I know of other cases where they are getting 18/- and milk, and I know of other cases where they are getting 16/-, with milk and potatoes. These cases have come under my personal notice. I say that any man who is working eight hours a day, not to speak of 14 hours a day, for 16/- a week, with milk and potatoes, is very little better than a slave, and any country which allows such a state of affairs to exist——

Is the Deputy referring to the Land Commission?

Well, Sir, these are the agricultural wages which are taken as the foot-rule by which the Land Commission measure the wages they are going to pay. Deputy Davin protested that 22/- a week was a monstrous wage, inasmuch as it was lower than the agricultural wage. Whether it is lower or higher, I say that it is a public scandal that anybody, who can afford to pay more, would pay that wage. If I knew of anybody in this country who would pay 16/- a week and who had in his pocket money over and above what was needed for his wife and family and withheld it from the labourer, I believe that such a man is guilty not only of lack of charity but of a gross violation of the elementary principles of justice.

The Deputy does not believe what he is saying.

The insolent imbecilities of certain Deputies will not deter me from exposing this.

Mr. Murphy

The Deputy does not believe a word of what he is saying.

Sir, is it Parliamentary to describe a Deputy of this House as a cheap fraud?

No, it is not permissible.

Very well, Sir, I shall then refrain from describing Deputy Murphy as a cheap demagogic fraud.

Mr. Murphy

And insult from the Deputy would be a compliment coming from the source it comes from.

I want to point out to Deputy Davin that the agricultural situation in this country is justifying farmers in paying as low as 16/- a week. I want to justify it by the argument that they have not literally got the money to pay any more and that there is no other argument that could justify it. I have argued repeatedly in this House, in the presence of Deputy Davin and his colleagues, that it is a gross injustice that, when the beet scheme was inaugurated, the men working inside the factory would get a trades union wage while the same was being denied to the men working outside the factory. I pointed out that if we fix the wage of a man working in a factory at £2 a week for a 48-hour week, we are not breaking our hearts. Making all due allowance for the legitimate difference that might be made between a factory operative who is working inside in somewhat more unhealthy surroundings that his fellow-labourer on the land, the difference between £2 a week and 18/- or 16/- a week is intolerable. Let me not over-state a good case. I do not believe it would be legitimate to say that less than £1 net, without perquisites of any kind, is being paid generally, but that figure is being paid. I say that is slavery, and I say that any body of men in this House who deliberately subscribe to the continuation of a political and economic policy which puts into the mouth of the Minister for Lands justification for a wage of that kind are betraying the interests of the people whom they ought to be representing in the House.

I remember well, when the labourers on the Shannon scheme had their wages fixed at 32/- a week, the upright, consistent Deputy Murphy made the welkin ring. He was bawling up and down the country that this was slavery, that the poor were being trodden down by a bankers' Government, and the same gentleman is supporting a Government to-day which espouses a wage of 22/- a week on the ground that that is all that is being paid in the neighbourhood. There is no question but that the Minister for Lands to-morrow could fix the wage on these schemes at 30/-, 28/- a week, or whatever would be deemed to be a fair wage, and the effect of that would be to raise agricultural wages on the land of anybody who could afford to pay them. Does Deputy Davin not agree with that? If there were afforestation operations or relief works going on in Leix-Offaly and the Minister said "Our rate of pay is 28/- or 30/- a week"—and, personally, I never paid less than 30/- a week in my life—"I do not care what is being paid in the neighbourhood; other circumstances may operate to make it impossible for the ordinary farmer to pay that figure, but that is my wage," would not any farmer who had good workmen and wanted to keep them and who was meanly and unjustly withholding from them a fair wage for a fair day's work have to pay the wage of 30/- if he wanted to keep those workmen and prevent them going to the Land Commission or the Forestry Department?

I do not believe any of the plaster that goes on from some of the Labour Deputies about raising the wages of the worker. It is all nonsense and it only reacts, in the long run, on the wage-earners themselves. There is no use hoping to get out of industry more than industry will produce, and wages and profits should bear a fair relation, one to the other. In my opinion, so far as agriculture in this country is concerned and so long as I remember, they always have borne a reasonable proportion one to the other, because very often the labouring men are the farmers' own neighbours. I believe in giving a fair wage for a fair day's work, and I believe that any political or economic policy which results in 80 per cent. of the labouring community of this country being reduced to a 22/- or 20/- a week basis stands self-condemned. Perhaps Deputy Murphy will get up and tell us why it is he continues to support a policy which is producing a state of affairs which makes it physically impossible for the employers of agricultural labour in this country to pay any more than the scandalous rates that are at present being paid.

It is no defence for the Minister for Lands to say that these are the prevailing rates of agricultural wages. He made them prevailing rates of agricultural wages; he is making them the prevailing rates of agricultural wages; and he is driving them down day after day and week after week. If there is any doubt in the mind of any Deputy in this House, let me remind him of what the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance once said—"If anyone tried to take this wage from them, they would fear him to pieces." Why should they tear you to pieces? Because the fact is that agricultural wages have been driven down below that level; because the fact is there is less and less employment on the land, and men are to be found in the country now who were independent, self-supporting and dignified individuals who are driven back now to the borders of destitution, and have to take anything in order to keep body and soul together. Unless that situation obtained, the Land Commission or the Forestry Department would not be able to get the people to work for these slave wages. Let the members of the Labour Party ask themselves this question: Who is responsible for bringing the people of this country down to a level at which they are prepared to work for 16 hours a day for 22/- a week?

Who told you it was 16 hours a day?

What would the Deputy say—14 or 12 hours?

Go back to school again.

What will the Deputy say is his experience in Leix-Offaly? How many hours a day does the agricultural labourer work in the harvest and seeding time.

Give us a case in proof of what you say.

I said, originally, 12 or 14 hours a day. Deputy Coburn said 16. Leave it at the 12 hours.

The small farmer and his sons will work day and night.

Yes; we know they work from dawn to dark. When the weather is fine and there is hay to be cut and saved, they go on working until the light will not allow them to work any longer, but leave it at 12 hours a day and drop the longer hours altogether. I ask the Deputy to tell this House what is it that has produced in rural Ireland a population of men who are prepared to work for 12 hours a day for a pound a week? Is it not the policy at present being pursued by the Government and if it is, why does he go on, with his eyes open, helping them to reduce our people to that condition of affairs? There is no use in sneering at the farmers; there is no use in pretending that it is their fault the rates of wages are not high; and there is no use in the Minister coming in here and trying to justify himself by comparing himself with the small farmer. He has almost unlimited funds at this disposal and if he takes the standard set up by the rural farmer as the standard for his own wages, it means that, on Monday, he beats down the farmer's rate of wages and, on Tuesday, follows them himself. The Labour Party have got to realise what is the fundamental thing that is wrong; the Minister for Lands has got to realise that the people of this country will not be content to employ their labourers under slave conditions of labour; and the whole House has got to realise that if agriculture is reduced to a condition in which it cannot afford to pay more than 20/- a week for a 12-hour day, the whole country is going to come down in ruins about us and there will not be money to pay 22/-, 20/-, 18/- or 16/-, not only to the labouring men who are working on the forestry schemes, but to any public servant or any other person living within the jurisdiction of Saorstát Eireann.

Deputy Dillon, in opening his remarks, was not even ordinarily characteristic; he put a little extra into the introduction of his speech. I remember during the last general election—and I hold no brief for Deputy Kent at all; he does not belong to this Party—looking at some of the newspapers and finding big headings across the front pages to the effect that Deputy Kent was standing for the Party led by Deputy MacDermot and Deputy Dillon. He has fallen from grace, apparently, according to Deputy Dillon, but even though he did disagree with him and left that Party, I fail to see why such a tirade of abuse should have been launched against him simply because he mentioned a matter which ought to appeal to Deputy Dillon, possibly more than to any other Deputy in this House—the subject of the evicted tenants. We all know that Deputy Kent is interested in that subject, and I had a good deal of sympathy with him while Deputy Dillon was abusing him. Deputy Dillon was strangely silent, however, when Deputy Kent last addressed this House and pointed out the state of affairs in his constituency in East Cork, in which people were being followed for their annuities who had been invited not to pay these annuities. Those dupes who refused to pay fell under the lash of the sheriff. The people who advised them not to pay had paid their own.

They had cheque books.

They had cheque books, and they took them out and paid, but they told the others not to pay. If Deputy Dillon thinks there is one Deputy on the Government side of the House who gets any satisfaction from the seizure in Cork of 87 head of cattle, which were sold for £90, and afterwards sold in Belfast for £726, he is labouring under a great mistake. It does not give one man on this side of the House any satisfaction.

Why do you not stop it?

That is a fine question from a front bencher in the Opposition. Quotations from speeches of members of the Opposition have been given here. Deputy Minch's speech at Monasterevan is on the records of this House. He said: "While the economic war is on, pay no rates and pay no annuities." Now, after you have led men into destruction, after you have been responsible for driving people into such a state of panic that they invade even this House, you appeal to the rank and file of Fianna Fáil to take you out of the position which you brought yourself into, and to try to rescue the dupes whom you first drove to ruin by the advice you gave them, and then deserted.

You never had to pay rates or annuities.

They are talking about cattle—people who would not know a cow from a bullock.

The Deputy will resume his seat.

Not while that fellow is talking.

The Deputy, having flouted the authority of the Chair, will withdraw from the House for the remainder of this day's sitting.

There is a man who would not know a hen from a cow if he had one.

If the Deputy does not withdraw at once the Chair will be constrained to name him.

Mr. Finlay withdrew from the House.

That is part of the intelligentsia we have to meet in the country.

The Centre Party.

I was saying that no one got any satisfaction whatever from the state of affairs which exists. I do not think we will live to see the day when we will derive any satisfaction from a state of affairs like that. Apart from all those things, there is a matter under this Vote that I do want to refer to. I do not want to delay in discussing things which are unpleasant, such as seizures in any part of the country. I do not want to do it. Deputies in the Opposition should realise that they have a very serious responsibility to try to end that state of affairs; to advise their followers to do what is sensible and legal, and to mend their own hand so far as they possibly can. I do not want to give quotations from speeches delivered by Deputies——

That matter has been debated very frequently. The Deputy might now get down to the items of the Vote.

Towards the end of his speech, Deputy Dillon seemed to become rather enthusiastic on behalf of the workers, and in regard to the wages that are being paid to people working under the Land Commission. I candidly admit that 22/- per week is not a very great wage for anybody. I do not say that it is, but we have got to consider many things. In some of those areas there was no work at all. The Minister for Finance has got to find cash. He has got to find money to subsidise all those schemes. A Budget was introduced in this House to try to cover all this expenditure. We were practically told that we had ruined the country, and will continue to ruin it if we go on financing those schemes at the scale on which we are financing them at the moment. Another point of criticism is that the wages paid are not considered enough. I admit that 22/- per week is not a very high rate of wages for anyone.

The Budget makes it lower.

At the same time where is the money going to come out of? Must not some kind of balance be struck? We have not been living in the moon for the last 40 years. We know that receiving a rate of 22/- per week is better than walking about doing nothing. I do agree with the appeal to the Minister to try and give an increased rate, if it is possible to do so. If I may come back again just for a moment I should like to reply to a point arising out of Deputy Dillon's speech. The affair in Cork was a terrible affair. I admit that it is going to create a certain amount of disturbance all over the country. I admit that it is going to create unpleasantness, not alone in Cork but in counties along the Border. I admit all that. I think that Deputy Coburn was one of the people who were visiting those cattle on the night before they were sent to Belfast. I am not sure whether or not that is right. If it is, I hope he went there for a good purpose, and not for the purpose of helping in any way to create any further unpleasantness than there is at the present moment. If those people will not pay their land annuities——

They cannot.

If they will not pay their land annuities and if the law is such that there must be seizures in order to realise the amount of annuities due, that is a situation which must be faced up to. In my opinion it is the work of responsible Deputies on the other side of the House, coming from those constituencies, to try and bring about such a state of affairs that a recurrence of those events will be impossible.

That is for the Government to do.

Can the Deputy suggest anything that could be done on this side of the House?

A Deputy

Stop the conspiracy.

Deputies in the Opposition could go to the County Cork, and point out to the people there that they should consistently pay their annuities. They could help in seeing that victimisation, such as has been described by Deputy Dillon, does not occur. Surely you are not bereft of funds? Did ever any responsible political party embark in any direction on a campaign such as was embarked upon in this country a short time ago, where the question of non-payment of annuities did arise and the question of the non-payment of rates did arise? Surely to goodness Fine Gael is not so bereft of funds, and, now that Deputy Cosgrave has returned, is not so bereft of leadership that they cannot try to help their own supporters, and bring them out of the position in which they find themselves?

Would the Deputy allow me to ask him a perfectly sincere question? In the case of persons who literally cannot pay their land annuities, such as this man Clune to whom I referred, what does the Deputy suggest that we should do if seizures are made?

That is a straight question. I hope that the Deputy will give me credit, at any rate, for answering it in such a way as will convey my own personal feelings honestly and sincerely. If a man cannot pay, if he has not got the resources with which to pay at the present moment, that is no reason why that man should be encouraged by his own Deputies going to the constituency and telling him: "You are not able to pay because the present policy of the present Government has reduced you to the state of poverty in which you are." That is no remedy. Deputy Morrissey may laugh——

Tell us your remedy.

I have told you my remedy.

What is it?

You are responsible in this way——

They are given time.

Might I ask the Minister for Lands to say now whether, if I come to him personally—I am prepared to do that, although it is a very distasteful thing to me to approach any Fianna Fáil Minister—and lay a case before him in which people cannot pay, he will give them time?

Minister for Lands (Mr. Connolly)

I have deliberately abstained from interfering with regard to the collection of annuities. We have a department which collects annuities. If a Deputy writes to me about annuities in a case where the allottee is in difficulties, the correspondence is sent to the gentleman in charge of the collection department, irrespective of what Party that Deputy belongs to. It then lies with him, in his discretion, whether he ought to exercise leniency or not, and, so far as I am aware, where a good case has been made to the gentleman in charge of collections, that leniency has always been extended.

And Deputy Dillon knows it too well.

Does Deputy Donnelly realise that the position is that the advice now given by the Minister is to refer us to the collection department? It is neither expedient for me nor for anybody else to start discussing individual members of the Civil Service. I am dealing now with the Minister. Will he personally take responsibility for dealing with what Deputy Donnelly describes as a desperately serious situation? Heretofore he left it to the permanent officials. We cannot attack them here. If a man cannot pay, will the Minister say that he will order the collection department to wait?

I expect I have had as many communications with the Minister as any other Deputy. Possibly I have made myself a great nuisance in trying to get things done. I will say this of the Land Commission generally, that in a particular case, where it is found practically impossible for a man to meet a demand made upon him, then surely to goodness, under conditions of that kind, people ought not to be victimised. I may say I have been fairly met by the Land Commission, and I believe if Deputy Dillon takes the trouble to correspond with them he will be fairly met, too, and I think we will go a longer way towards getting over the present situation as regards the non-payment of annuities and rates if, in our dealings with the Land Commission, we met them in a constructive way rather than devote our attention to the making of bombastic speeches for the benefit of the voters in Galway and Dublin.

If the Minister will only repeat your words and accept his responsibility, the difficulty will be solved, but he will not do it.

I have many times criticised the Land Commission, and possibly I will do so again. I have told the Minister many things verbally, and I have written to him in regard to various matters. If there is any member of the Executive Council who deserves the sympathy of this House, it is the Minister for Lands. I understand perfectly well the amount of correspondence he receives daily and the numbers of people who make applications for land. They come at him from every angle, and one would want to be a superman to stand up to the strain of conducting the affairs of the Land Commission. It was only since I came into close contact with the conditions in that Department that I fully realised the difficulties that have to be confronted, particularly with regard to the applications for land.

That is not a matter in which the Minister is directly responsible, according to the 1933 Act.

Somebody must administer the Act, and in Deputy Cosgrave's own Government there was a Minister for Lands. That ends that. The present Minister is pulled at from every angle. He is the person to whom we must address our arguments in this House. Deputy Cosgrave is too good a Parliamentarian not to know that the Minister is the bush in the gap, the man to attack when we want to say anything about his Department.

What other person should you attack?

We must attack the Minister.

But the Minister has shifted responsibility to a civil servant, and that is a cowardly attitude.

In one case he has no statutory responsibility, and in another case he puts the responsibility over on a civil servant.

I have found fault with the Land Commission mainly in regard to the speed of land division. According to the Minister, 120,000 acres were divided last year. That compares very favourably with the average of 44,000 acres when our predecessors were in office. If the Minister can go ahead dividing 120,000 acres per annum he will be doing good work and the people will begin to have faith in the Land Commission. Whenever I go to Leix I am surrounded by applicants for land. I am continually in correspondence with the Minister's Department on that subject. From every angle you are bombarded with applications for land. Deputy Brennan—and I have a great respect and a deep regard for his attitude in these matters—talked about economic and uneconomic holdings. Why is there this urge for land if land is such an uneconomic proposition as we are told? If you go to Stradbally and South Leix, you will find a great urge there for the acquisition of more land. I am sorry Deputy Finlay is not here because he would agree with that, and I believe Deputy Davin and Deputy O'Higgins could bear me out in that connection also. There is a great demand for land there, and the desire is to use it for tillage farming.

The real urge for land in South Leix and portion of North Leix is because they want to utilise it in connection with the beet industry. They sent their quotas to Carlow and Thurles—the railway returns are there —and, in addition, they sent 12,000 tons of beet to Tuam. These people want more land. I have been a source of annoyance to the Minister trying to get the Lord Castletown and other estates divided. The people are going in for intensive tillage. I suggest to Deputy Cosgrave that he should get for his own information a copy of the report of the chief home assistance officer for Leix last year, and read his remarks as to the state of affairs in the county. He pointed out that home help had gone down by £6,000 a year. He pointed out the advantages that were being derived by the farming community. My complaint is this, that in the Midlands, the best tillage areas in Ireland, there are still estates that can be taken over and divided, and they should be given to men who will work them to the advantage of the country.

Will they pay any money for them?

These people are the best judges of what pays best.

My point is, does the Deputy want to give it to them for nothing?

I take it that if a man in a certain industry is losing, he will not be prepared to continue very long in that industry.

A lot of fellows want to get land for nothing.

The people want the land divided, and I hope there will be a speed-up in the division of land. I wonder if I would be in order discussing afforestation?

Afforestation is being taken separately. The only question raised in relation to it was the question of wages referred to by Deputy Davin.

There is another reason for speeding up the division of land in South Leix. There is a section of the community living in the area stretching from Stradbally practically to Carlow. I am sure the Minister knows the area well. It is what we refer to as the Wolfhill area. I am particularly anxious about that area. I do not know what can be done in connection with the holders there. We have seen where people can be taken from Connemara and placed on holdings in Meath. That scheme is going to be an economic success. Of course, it is backed by a desire to spread the language. I would like to point out that there are holdings in the Wolfhill area, and it is impossible for people there to make ends meet. I suggest that some time or other the Minister might deal with that question and seriously consider the plight of the people there, with the object of remedying their position.

Deputy Dillon made a nasty and misleading analogy when he was dealing with the question of the non-payment of annuities. The Deputy talked about that, and said it was quite possible that an anti-Government agitation could be got up, and have public opinion behind it. He pointed to the days of the Land League, when there was a big agitation started against a foreign Government operating here. Now we know that there is no analogy whatever between the present state of affairs and the condition of things that existed in the days of the Land League. It is clear that there is none whatever, for this reason—that the people of that time were fighting for the possession of their homesteads, fighting against rack-rents, against emergency men, against the crowbar brigade and the rest of it——

Just the same to-day.

Wait a moment. At that time they were fighting against the system which was set up and mapped out by the Government of the day to destroy the smallholder and make the small holdings into ranches. They said that farming was being carried out on too small a scale. That was why the agitation started, and if Deputy Belton goes to Stradbally he will find the place surrounded with ranches——

I will meet Deputy Donnelly on that argument at Stradbally.

There is no analogy between the fight which took place in the days of the Land League when the people were fighting for their homes and preventing the country from being turned into ranches and the fight to-day. The policy of the Government to-day is to put the people back into the land, to put the land under tillage and to have human beings where formerly there were bullocks. That is our programme and our policy, and that is why I say the analogy drawn by Deputy Dillon between what is happening to-day and what took place in the days of the Land League is a misleading analogy. There is no comparison between the two things—between the fight then waged and the fight that is waged to-day by the Opposition against the National Government. I do sincerely hope that the Opposition will accept one or two suggestions I have made to them for what they are worth. That is, that they get in touch with their followers and try to put a stop to the agitation that is already dying down, and if there is any more of it left, kill it at once and get back to common sense. If Deputy Belton takes the ordinary trade journal dealing with agricultural conditions he will find that there are 17,000,000 acres of land in the Saorstát. Of that, 12,000,000 acres are arable and 3,200,000 acres are being tilled to-day. What is to become of the other 9,000,000 acres? That is the problem that is before the Minister for Lands. What is to become of that 9,000,000 acres?

That is what we would like the Deputy to tell us.

The Minister is making a big effort to deal with that question. The Minister has succeeded in dividing 120,000 acres of land in the last year. He has not let the grass grow under his feet. His job is a big job, and instead of Opposition criticism that is not helpful the Minister should get all the constructive and genuine help of every Deputy in the House. He is entitled to get that at the present moment. Is not every country in the world sending its population back to the land? Lloyd George made a speech yesterday in which he said the land of England is yearning to be tilled. He spoke of that as one way in which unemployment could be solved. It is one way in which unemployment can be solved in this country. While estates are not being divided as quickly as we would wish, still we are making an advance towards self-sufficiency and towards putting into practice our programme. The Minister for Lands has made a great effort during the past 12 months in achieving the division of 120,000 acres. I know that the Land Commission is an unpopular institution in many places. It was in 1881 that it was first established. I happened the other day in the Library to look up the history of that institution and I read the speeches made in the House of Commons attacking the Land Commission. The Land Commission is being still attacked. The reason is because the Land Commission holds the key to the future prosperity of the country and to the solution of many difficulties under which we are labouring to-day. The careful and wholehearted administration of that Department of the Government might be helped by constructive and intelligent criticism by Deputies, and that would go a long way to help the Minister and help the policy of the country. I congratulate the Minister in what he has accomplished during his last year's work, and I hope he will pursue the policy he has been pursuing. I say that because I am convinced of its truth from what I have seen of the operations of the Minister and his Department in Leix-Offaly. That is one of the most intensively tilled constituencies in the country except Wexford. I am urging more speed in the division of land and I am urging, if possible, the appointment of more inspectors to push forward the work of land division in that area.

I gather from the close of Deputy Donnelly's speech that the Land Commission to-day is the worthy successor to the Land Commission of fifty years ago. And really the Deputy need not be quite so wroth with Deputy Dillon, as I understand he was, because Deputy Dillon drew an analogy between the present campaign of the Government and the campaign of the British Government and the landlords 50 years ago. I can understand the Deputy's objection to that analogy but I cannot accept the grounds he gave for objecting to it. For the analogy is very applicable. There is one essential difference between the position to-day and the position in the days of the land agitation in the 'eighties. To-day, as the result of Government policy, you have one big landlord. But the habits and arguments and measures and ruthlessness of that one big landlord in dealing with his tenants at the present moment are precisely the habits and arguments of his predecessors in the 'eighties. When Deputy Donnelly suggests that the agitation against the landlords in the 'eighties was due to the desire to prevent the establishment of ranches, he only shows that he must not have been living in the country at the time or that he knows nothing about it. That agitation was due, as the Deputy in a portion of his enumeration let slip, to the rack rents and uncertainty of tenure and to the impossibility of the farmers paying these rack rents that were demanded. That agitation became serious, it became nation-wide and a menace to the whole peace of the country. Why, and following what? Following the drop in the agricultural prices in 1879, as a case precisely parallel to what has occurred in the last few years. What was the answer then? "The law is there, you must pay." Some people could pay, in those days of the 'eighties. To-day we have the Minister for Finance jeering about motor cars and some Deputies jeering about cheque books. But, as Deputy Davin and every Deputy in this House knows, in the 'eighties an effort was made to split the farmers, and had that effort been successful it would have been to the ruin not only of individuals but of the whole farming community. At that time it would have been an easy thing for many men in comfortable positions to save themselves by standing with the landlords and paying up. They would have saved themselves immense costs but they would have deserted the cause of all the other farmers in the country. Now when sneers are indulged in here by the Minister for Finance, who never loses an opportunity of interjecting some remark about somebody having a motor car, and some people having cheque books, let us remember that exactly the same arguments, the same taunts, were hurled by the landlords of those days against those from whom they were extracting the last penny, the penny that the bulk of the farmers could not pay, even if some were still in a position to do so.

I wonder is it the contention of Deputy Donnelly that farming is a paying proposition at present, that it is an economic proposition for the bulk of the people. If that is not his contention then he has failed to see the root of the whole trouble. His attacks on the Opposition are quite on a par with what we have heard from that side. He must know well that neither in the 'eighties of the last century nor in the 'thirties of this century was there any necessity for anybody to stir up the farmers. Instead of that every effort had to be made to keep them quiet when, from the nature of the case, they were goaded often beyond ordinary human limits by the conduct of the Government. The fact that the Government is now the one landlord only means that they have a great deal more power and are a great deal more ruthless than at least some of the landlords were in those far-off days. To attack the question of agricultural wages and the question of the collection of the land annuities and leave out of account altogether what has happened in connection with the price of farming produce for the last three years is simply shutting your eyes to the main cause of the trouble, and everybody must know that who knows the country.

What is the good of pretending that anybody is capable of blooding the people up if the cause of serious trouble was not there in the actual situation? If a case is brought forward of one or two people who can pay but who refused to desert their fellows, as upholders of the law we may object to that, but when a whole class is threatened with extermination, as the Deputy knows, very often they stand or fall together. Whether we regret the conduct of these men or not in refusing to abandon their fellows, we must remember that they have in that respect, at all events, a tradition behind them. The Opposition did not stir up this agitation, and the Deputy ought to know it. This agitation was there and was not stirred up by the members of the Opposition. It was pointed out to the Government where they were going. At a time when they were throwing money out on all sorts of things they were begged to stop and not collect these annuities while the present crisis was on. The landlords were begged in the 'eighties not to collect their rents. But they had on their side the law and they insisted on collecting them. The result was a crisis. That was not due to the agitators of that particular time; the crisis was due to the actual economic circumstances of the time. Precisely the same arguments that are used now by Deputy Donnelly and others, against some members of the Opposition, were used at that time by those who stood by the landlords' cause.

You do not get rid of the habits or the procedure of landlordism by putting the State in the place of the individual. Everybody will admit that the State has certain rights, but, as was pointed out long ago, it also has certain duties. When there is a crisis facing the whole agricultural community it is nothing short of criminal that the State should utilise its powers to the extent that it has done. The Minister may get rid of some of his responsibility by saying that he has handed this over to the machine. That is precisely what is wrong. The machine is set going, and the machine grinds everything. What we want to know is, was there an instruction sent out by the Minister in the present economic situation, with ruin staring the farmers in the face, to be extra lenient and not to proceed except in the very worst cases; not merely that they should refuse to proceed where a good case could be made— that is not enough—but that they should not proceed except in the very worst cases. The machine will act; it is bound to act; it is bound to be impersonal and to be crushing in that respect.

The Deputy is probably quite right when he foretells a serious expansion of this unrest. He knows the country to some extent at all events. Though he may make speeches in this House, backing up the policy of the Government, he knows where that policy must lead. Where else can it lead but to a very serious crisis? I have again and again put to Ministers and Deputies opposite this question: what hope is there and what future is there for the farming community in this country? Can they pay their annuities this year? If they can and pay them out of their savings, or even their cheque books, if some of them have them, which excites the sneers of Deputy Davin and his colleagues, will the same thing have to be done next year?

You have mentioned me three times, but I never said that at all.

I am sorry for libelling Deputy Davin, and I withdraw that, but there was such a continual fire of interruption going on from himself and Deputy Murphy——

There was not.

I should like to know what is a fire of interruption if that was not one during Deputy Dillon's speech coming from these two Deputies. Anyhow, it was used by his neighbour and colleague. I have heard a similar argument from the Minister for Finance. It is not merely that you are making impossible demands at present from the farming community, but you are depriving them of the one thing which will enable them to struggle on, namely, any hope for the future. That is quite as serious as the situation you are dealing with and creating at the present time. It is useless for the Minister or Deputy Donnelly or Deputy Davin or Deputy Murphy to discuss this situation and refuse to get at the real basis of the trouble.

We are told by the President that everything in his policy is working out according to plan. Is this his plan? If it were the intention of the Government to break any spirit of independence in the farming community, to see that no person on the land will be able to have a sense of independence, I know no better way to go about it than the way they are proceeding at present. There may be one or two Deputies and there may be many people among their supporters in the country who may think that that is a goal devoutly to be sought for—to break that spirit of independence. I have seen that happen in other countries. I have seen it happen in one particular country to which the Minister for Finance referred in his Budget speech. He compared this country in some respects with Russia. In that country the Government pursued exactly the same campaign against the independent farmer and smashed them out of existence. There was nobody left on the land except the agricultural labourer and he did not own the land. It was State landlordism carried to the extreme limit, just as you are trying to carry it here. I have often been struck with the extraordinary analogy between the policy of the two Governments. If Deputy Davin could spare a little time he would probably find that the analogy is sometimes rather appalling.

You are keeping bad company.

You do not get rid of troubles by shutting your eyes to them. We have to keep our eyes open about certain developments. Deputy Donnelly has suggested that, after all, land and farming must not be so bad if the people are so anxious to get land. He has cited that desire for land as a proof that the condition of farming cannot be so bad. The people were anxious to get land in 1879. They were anxious to get land in the 'eighties. Can Deputy Donnelly tell me of any time in the history of this country in which the people of this country were not anxious to get land? Can Deputy Donnelly tell me of any time in the history of Europe when the people were not anxious to get land? I say nothing about America, because the position is different there, but so far as Europe is concerned, can Deputy Donnelly tell me of any time, no matter what the conditions of the farmers or of the people living on the land were—whether they were serfs bound hand and foot to the landlord or not—where the people, and even the serf, were not anxious to get land or to increase the stock of land they already had? The desire for land is altogether independent of such circumstances, and Deputy Donnelly ought to know it. That desire is there, and it is altogether independent of the question of whether or not the land is a paying proposition. That desire for land is in the blood of the people of this country and in the blood of the farming communities of most countries, and the Deputy ought to know it. That desire for land is there, and it will be there whether the land pays or not. The Deputy knows that perfectly well.

I was glad, anyhow, to learn one thing: that, in so far as the expenses of this country are concerned, Deputy Donnelly has not been living in the moon for the last 20 or 30 years. I suggest, however, that it is only within the last two or three years that he came down from the moon, so far as that is concerned. I venture to say that we heard every eloquent pleas from this side of the House, several years ago, which seemed to leave out of account altogether the necessity of providing money for the running of the State. What, however, is the situation facing the people? Moreover, what is the situation that they were led to hope for? You have, as I say, not merely the appalling situation in which they find themselves, the complete lack of hope for the future, but the complete dashing of whatever hopes they placed on the present Government as regards the remunerative quality of their land. I forget now what it was, but I think that every farmer was to get £15 or £16 more per year. Has that been justified? The facts are there, and, so far as this country is concerned, the facts are there in connection with the value of land. You may be able to secure a certain amount by the employment of the Crowbar Brigade, to which Deputy Donnelly referred, by the seizures of cattle at one price and selling them at six times the value; you may be able by these and other such methods to screw a certain amount out of the people, but do you think that such methods can continue? Do you think that they can continue indefinitely? That is the question that every farmer in the country, no matter to what Party he belongs, is asking himself at the present time. Every farmer in the country at the present time, no matter to what Party he belongs, is asking himself: How long is it going to continue and how long can the farming community afford it?

I was very interested and surprised to hear the Minister, whom I always looked upon as possessing courage, saying, when he was put up against a situation arising out of a suggestion made by Deputy Donnelly, that if farmers sought for time they would get it. The Minister intervened and explained that there is an officer in the Land Commission—the head of the collection department—to whom all queries of that kind are referred, and that that officer acts within his discretion and deals with those questions as they are placed before him. I think that is a fair summary of what the Minister said. I should like to know from the Minister whether or not he has given instructions, over his signature to this particular officer, laying down certain conditions in which he should show leniency; and, if he has not given such instructions, what is to safeguard this officer if he shows leniency and if his ideas of leniency do not happen to coincide with the Minister's ideas or with the ideas of leniency of the Minister for Finance? I think that the Minister for Lands would have improved his case in that particular if he had remained silent. It is for Ministers, who are directly responsible to the people, to shoulder the burden and the responsibility and not to try to throw that burden and responsibility on to the shoulders of officials. As I said, I was surprised at the Minister's attempt to throw his responsibility on to an official. I say that it is not fair to the official, or to any official. I have heard politicians on platforms say that it was not the Minister's fault. I have heard members of the Dublin Corporation say that it was not the Minister's fault.

Mr. Connolly

On a point of explanation, Sir, if I may be permitted to intervene. I explained here that there was a collection department in the Land Commission. Numerous applications come to me from all sources and from all Parties in which it is impossible for me to judge the merits of the case. These are sent to the Department for the consideration of those responsible. I am not in a position to judge the merits of the particular application which asks for time. What would be the position if I intervened and asked the Department to give time to "A" and to refuse time to "B"? Would not the suggestion be that I was only favouring those applicants who were supporters of my own Party and ordering the Department to go against those who were opposed to me? Does not any sane man know that? Party politics being as they are in this country at the moment, the only clean and decent thing to do is to refer all such applications to a Department which can judge impartially.

While I give the Minister credit for the best intentions, and while I accept his statement of good intentions, I suggest this to him. My view of what I should expect a Minister to do in such circumstances would be to issue, to the officers concerned, instructions that, if applications for time came within certain categories, the official should then give time and that he should not be called upon to exercise any more discretion than to determine whether or not the particular application for time came within the category laid down by the Minister. I would think that the Minister should do something of that kind and not throw the entire onus on any official. It is an invidious position for an official to be in and it is quite easy—I do not suggest that the present Minister would do it—for any Minister who wanted to avoid odium to throw the onus on an official and remove the official, perhaps, in disgrace, to some other Department. I would suggest to the Minister that he should seriously consider proceeding by instruction to the Department concerned, specifying certain conditions and if these were fulfilled in the application made for time, the officer in charge could give time and his discretion would end entirely with interpreting whether the circumstances of the particular applicant fulfilled those conditions.

Mr. Connolly

I have sufficient confidence in the Department responsible to come here and take full responsibility for anything that they do, even though they do it without my intimate knowledge.

That is your duty.

Mr. Connolly

It is also my privilege.

We are only where we started and if I were that official, I would take good care to mind my job and carry out the law. The Minister says he cannot deal with the numerous applications he will get. Granted. But how many annuitants are there— 200,000 or 300,000? Suppose they all looked for time, will the head of the collection be able to deal with them all? Would all the officials of the Land Commission be able to deal with them? I will not pursue that any further.

Deputy Donnelly is a great man to make a speech, saying very little, but putting a good face on a bad case and he pretty well excelled himself in that respect this afternoon. To suggest that it is a sign of agricultural prosperity that people are howling to get land for nothing is too ridiculous to come from a Deputy of the intelligence of Deputy Donnelly. Did he ever meet any man who would not take something for nothing? I did not and the people about whom Deputy Donnelly is talking are people who are asking for something for nothing.

I am talking about small farmers' sons.

Are they not people who are asking for something for nothing?

They want farms of their own.

If they have farms of their own and agriculture is prosperous, they should have a little bit left by. Are they prepared to put down even 10 per cent. of the valuation of a holding which the Land Commission is dividing and take responsibility for paying the annuity on 90 per cent. of it?

Quite a number of them.

We know they are not. The only case that was made was that if they get land for nothing, they will take it.

It is one of the conditions of getting land that they would have capital going into it.

I do not follow the logic of this argument on either side. Personally, I have taken up the stand from the beginning that the farmers, as a united body, should have stood against paying the land annuities. I make no apology for saying that, either inside or outside this House. I heard the Minister being severely criticised to-day for the manner in which these annuities are being collected, and I have heard these critics state in this House that any man who is able to pay his annuities should pay them. If you follow that to its logical conclusion, nobody can say that, according to law, a man is not able to pay his annuities until the sheriff comes to his yard to seize, gets nothing there and returns "no goods." That is the operation of the law, as I understand it, and I do not see the logic of the position of anybody who says that the farmer should pay his annuities if he is able, and, at the same time, criticise the Minister for trying to collect them. I do not say that he should pay if he is able. I say that he should not, because the British Government is collecting them. I make no apology for that statement.

If you say it outside, you will be shoved into jail.

I have said it outside, and I was not shoved into jail, and if the farmers stood together on that rock, they could not all be shoved into jail, and this matter would be all over and done with long ago. It was not done, unfortunately. The Minister is collecting these annuities, and while I have not heard him say it, I presume he says it in the chorus of the Ministers and Deputies behind him, that the farmers will not pay their annuities. What are the British collecting £5,000,000 for, and from whom are the British collecting them? The President here a few nights ago admitted that the British are collecting substantially that sum, and all of that sum, except £100,000, comes from the agricultural population. The entire annuities due to Britain were not quite £3,000,000. I challenge any Deputy or Minister to get up and show where the annuities are due. Heretofore, they were collected by the Government in this country and paid over to Britain in a round sum of about £3,000,000. The present Government will not collect them, but the British Government says: "We will collect them from the farmers' produce" and she has stated that she is collecting them and the Minister is sending out his press gang and battering ram to collect them again.

The position I take up in this matter is that the farmers should not pay them, and I go into no conspiracy to make that statement. I would go on a platform and say it. I should like the Minister to get up and openly refute my case. I should like to see more Deputies in this House taking up that attitude with me. There is no halfway house between that attitude and paying them. At least, I see none, and I should like anybody to show it to me. It is the operation of the law that the sheriff goes there to collect them. If we admit that they are due, we cannot object to the sheriff functioning as part of the law, and selling as part of the law—with the Minister providing the buyer, at 15/- or 16/- a head—in the Belfast market by a political supporter of one of his Ministerial colleagues. I ask the Minister to tell us what is his authority for collecting these annuities outside the legal authority that was given him by his machined majority two years ago, when a clause was inserted in the Land Act whereby he could collect them even though the British are collecting them. I do not know of any. The Minister admitted that the farmer is paying practically all that. He admitted further that the loss to the farmer was the difference between what the British collected and the export bounty, and he admitted that that was about £2,000,000. He went further and admitted that the farmers lost roughly the same amount, namely another £2,000,000 by the lowering of the wholesale agricultural prices on the home market. Why is not the farmer recouped by allowing those annuities. and by recognising that they are being paid to the British while this economic conflict continues? Why do the Government not realise the facts which are staring them in the face? Why do they run off at a tangent as the President did a few days ago, saying: "What are we paying in bounty and subsidy for butter? What are we paying for wheat? What are we paying for beet?"

"Yes," said Deputy Donnelly. I am glad that he nodded assent to that. I should like to put this to the Deputy; was not the promotion of that agricultural economy a part of the celebrated plan before the present Government came into office? I think the Deputy will agree that it was. The Deputy will agree that under the ordinary operation of economic laws here for half a century or more the trade in cattle developed as the most profitable end of farming, a circumstance which the Deputy knows I regret as much as anybody in this House or in the country. I am as much opposed to the developing of the cattle trade as any man in Ireland, but those are the facts. The Government comes in and wants to alter that natural evolution or direction of agricultural economy. It says to the people: "We want you to grow wheat, beet, tobacco, and so on." Will not the Deputy appreciate that that can be done only at a loss, as compared with the previous economy which the farmer was pursuing under the operation of the natural economic laws?

He often pursued that at a loss too.

I suggest that we pursue the Estimate for a change.

I submit that the relationship of this is——

I want to support the case which I have made that the Government should not be collecting those annuities while the British are collecting them. The contra case to that has been made before, and I am endeavouring to answer it now. The contra case has been an admission that the British are collecting the land annuities, but that the farmer is recouped in other directions by Government aid to the extent at least of what he pays to the British. I am trying to controvert that, and to show that the Government is taking undue credit for the giving of a subsidy for wheat, beet, turf and one or two other things, because those subsidies are not in any way arising out of the economic war but are given because of the fixed and deliberate change of agricultural economy introduced by the Government. They cannot have that change of agricultural policy in any other way than by subsidising it.

The Deputy is referring to Government policy and not to the Estimate.

My purpose is to refute the claim made by the President here a few evenings ago that the farmer is being recouped. The President admitted £4,000,000 of a loss. He then went on to show that by giving those subsidies, which are really because of the change in agricultural economy, he was recouping the loss to the farmers.

The Deputy cannot keep answering the President all the year. We must come down to the Estimate which is before us. The Deputy is referring to general Government policy.

The Estimate before us is to provide, in the picturesque language of Deputy Donnelly, the bailiffs and battering rams to collect the annuities which I hold are not due because the British are collecting them. Any assistance which the Government is giving is being given in order to help the change in agricultural policy here, and it is not an off-set against the double collection of the land annuities. A very material consideration in acquiring land and redistributing it is, first of all, whether agriculture is a paying proposition. I should like if some Deputy opposite would make the case that it is.

It is of course. The Deputy is himself the best example.

I should like if some farmer would come into those benches and tell us that agriculture is a paying proposition. I should like Deputy Hales from West Cork to tell us whether agriculture is a paying proposition. I will listen very attentively to him from the time I have finished until 10.30 and it will take him all that time to convince me that agriculture is a paying proposition, either in West Cork or anywhere else. What branch of agriculture is a paying proposition? Do not tell us about wheat. That is subsidised to the tune of 7/-. Do not tell us about beet, while the price of sugar is 2¾d. or 3d. per lb.

That is not the Estimate for the Department of Agriculture.

The Land Commission is going to acquire land for distribution. The distribution of land has been taken by Deputy Donnelly as the test of the work done by the Minister, whom he described—because he had redistributed 100,000 acres in, I think, the last year—as showing that he was not allowing the grass to grow under his feet. I am afraid the grass is growing very high on that land, because there is not much to eat it.

It is not.

Then it must have been bobbed. Before the Minister starts acquiring that land for redistribution he should tell us where similar land and similar holdings are paying, and on what sort of economy? I have tried every farming trick in the bag in order to extract all the money I could out of farming, and I know it is not paying at the present time. The Minister looks doubtful about that, but he can take my word for it. If it is paying, where is it paying? If it is not, is the Minister justified in acquiring land and redistributing it? I wonder is he satisfied that dairying is paying? I will not go into the details of that. I am satisfied that it is not paying, and I could give very good reasons, but on this Vote it is sufficient to say that it is not paying. We will meet the people opposite at another time and under other auspices of discussion to show whether it is paying or not. I hope I will not be accused of law breaking when I say that we should not collect the land annuities. I should much rather say—because that is the logical position to take up—that the British are collecting them off the farmers, and that the farmers are not being indemnified by the Government. Therefore our Government should not set about collecting them again. I take that stand because that is my belief, and I would have taken that stand in a more pronounced manner if the farmers, instead of grousing and grumbling, stood together. They did not stand together, because they got wrong advice. They were told to pay if they were able, and that it was their legal duty to pay. Anybody who has told the farmers it was their legal obligation to pay those annuities has no ground for complaint if the sheriff, operating according to the law, goes to his yard and seizes his cattle. That is the machinery of the law. If I believed that they were due I would not object to the sheriff going there—why should I? but I do not believe they are due.

Did you pay?

Of course, he did.

What has he to talk about, so?

I am sorry that the Deputy has spoken.

I am not a bit sorry I spoke.

The Deputy will be sorry when I have finished. I said I do not believe these annuities are due and that the Minister should not collect them for no other reason than that they have been extracted from the farmers already by the British Government. In support of that attitude, on one occasion I moved this resolution: "That this convention is satisfied that the farmers should not be asked to pay land annuities, rates or rent, as these are being paid through the medium of tariffs; further, that the Government be requested to pay all fee-farm rents, leasehold rents and all local rates on agricultural land." The Deputy opposed that. That was at an open meeting at which the Press was present and, in order to keep the farmers from making a stand, Deputy MacDermot sent this secret circular to carry a vote against that resolution——

The Minister has no responsibility for what Deputy MacDermot did.

I accept your ruling. A Deputy who, when I volunteered to make a stand on behalf of the farmers, would not co-operate with me and voted against my resolution, now asks me did I pay my land annuities. I did, and I would pay them a million times before I would start the hypocrisy of getting my cattle seized in order to make myself a cheap martyr and then go and pay the annuities after the cattle are seized. If you are going to fight, fight, and if you are not prepared to fight, you mights as well surrender. I put forward that proposal about three years ago and I am prepared to put it up again to-day. The Deputy knows that his leader of that day went around the country telling the farmers to pay if they were able. How can he say a man is not able to pay a debt if he has cattle? When he has cattle, is not that a visible sign of means? My point is that the farmer should not be asked to pay a second time. I say to them "Do not pay our Government when the British Government has collected them and our Government is not stopping the British Government from collecting them." That is the attitude I take up. I am not going to cut off my head for somebody else to laugh at my headless body. Will you stand together and then I will stand with you?

Why did you not stand in Naas?

I did, and no other man went to Naas but myself, and no other man stood at Linehan's Pound but myself, and the Deputy knows that. I am sorry Deputy Curran thought fit to throw in that interjection. I would have let the incident pass, but I know what is behind such things.

I do. The Deputy need not sneer and feel that he has scored any point, because he has not.

I never scored off anybody.

I am sure you did not; you play for safety always. I accept the position that the Minister has the law on his side to collect. I do not accept the position that he has equity on his side. The President went a long way last week in admitting that contention, but he went away from it at a point to which I have referred already, and I am not going to go back on it again. Does the Minister not realise that the whole business of collecting and the manner in which he has to collect are something that require attention and examination? People are not allowing their stock to be seized and members of their families arrested for nothing. Is it not a matter that should be inquired into? Some time ago it was suggested that there should be an inquiry as to whether the farmers are right in their contention that they have paid their annuities to the British and are not recouped for the amount they have paid and that that thereby they are bearing the whole cost of the economic war. I would be surprised if the Minister did not feel sympathetic towards that suggestion. If he is sure of his ground that he has a moral as well as a legal right to collect the annuities not withstanding what is happening in connection with British tariffs, he might not be afraid to put that to the test of an inquiry and I am sure that every fair-minded man in the country would abide by the decision of that inquiry. I put it to Deputy Donnelly, who has talked so much here about conspiracies against paying lawful debts, is not that a fair suggestion and a fair way out of this position to have the Minister take steps to have a tribunal set up to inquire into the case made by the farmers that they have already paid and discharged their full obligations on foot of the land annuities through the tariffs they have paid the British? The Deputy will not accept that as a reasonable suggestion. Well, the Deputy having spoken, I suppose he cannot speak again but I would like to hear the Minister on that particular point. Will he consider or entertain that suggestion? If he has a good case there is nothing for him to fear through carrying out the suggestion. If he has a bad case, and I am sure he has a bad case, I know he will funk it. It will be a test of the Minister's sincerity if he will adopt that suggestion. If the Minister is afraid that the findings would be against him he will not adopt them. If he is satisfied that the findings will be for him, he may.

As the whole country by a majority supports the economic war, I am quite satisfied farmers will have no grievance if they are forced to pay annuities to the Minister's Department, if the Minister sets up a tribunal to consider the farmers' case and that tribunal finds against the farmers. But if the Minister will not set up a tribunal, then he is afraid of the issue and he feels that he is not on solid ground in collecting those annuities.

I cannot concede that Deputy Belton's appeal for a tribunal to consider what has been enacted already by the Dáil in the matter of the land annuities is a proper subject for debate on this Estimate. But I suggest to the Deputy that there is no demand whatever for the setting up of any such tribunal. There is only a very small number of farmers objecting to pay annuities. The overwhelming majority of the farmers are satisfied to pay their annuities.

Might I be allowed to correct Deputy Moore on that matter? None of the farmers are objecting to pay their annuities, but they are unable to pay them.

We have here very unexpected support for my contention that the farmers are willing to pay their annuities.

What I have said is, that the farmers are quite unable to pay them.

At any rate I think the great bulk of the farmers are quite anxious to pay their annuities directly to the State, knowing that the titles to their farms would be very poor titles if they did not pay their annuities. Even if there were no other reason but that, the farmers would want to pay their annuities. The Deputy knows that during the period when the Government decided not to collect annuities, quite a number of farmers insisted upon paying them.

When did the Government decide that the farmers were not to pay their annuities?

In the autumn of 1932.

When they knew they could not enforce the civil bill.

That is an argument. The Deputy asked me a question and I have answered him. During that period I think it will be found in the Land Commission's accounts that very many thousands of pounds were collected from farmers who knew they were under no obligation to pay and that the Government were not asking them to pay.

Then why did the Government receive these moneys?

But I think all that is somewhat out of order on this debate. I only intervened to call attention to the very extraordinary speech we had from Deputy Dillon this evening. That speech was sheer anarchy. Deputy Dillon lashed himself into a fury about the infamy of farmers being expected to fall in with the national policy on the question of agriculture and threatened a tragedy in Ballaghaderreen if anybody attempted to carry out that idea in his part of the country. I submit that therein he was speaking in a most reckless way. He was asserting definitely that while property had its rights, it had no duties whatever, and that each individual farmer in the country was quite entitled to let his land go fallow, to grow any crop he liked; that he had no duty to the public with regard to that land; in fact, that there was no social obligation imposed on him in his title to that land. I think the Deputy was preaching a principle that his colleague, Deputy O'Sullivan, will not support. I would be surprised if any of his colleagues would support it. It is surely not to be asserted at this hour of the day that the farmers as a body are entitled to do what they like with their land regardless of the needs of those who have no land.

I hold we have a right to do with our land what we think is best in the interest of ourselves, our families and the country.

That is very interesting. We have, I am sure, heard very different doctrines from the Opposition. I think I heard Deputy Fitzgerald quote from Papal utterances on that subject, and though I cannot attempt to quote from these utterances myself, I can assert with absolute confidence that in some Encyclicals there is laid down the duty of people of property with regard to their neighbours—the social duty that is imposed with that property, and consequently the duty of those owning land to respect the needs of their neighbours and to comply with what is required from them by the community with regard to the use of that land. Again I say that I believe Deputy Dillon's statement to be absolute anarchy, and that it has no authority whatever behind it. In fact, it is in conflict with the teaching of the Catholic Church.

I think Deputy Dillon, who has come in now, should be told the charges that have been made against him by Deputy Moore.

Unless Deputy Moore gives way to him, Deputy MacEoin has no right to intervene.

Deputy Dillon lashed himself into a fury also on the question of agricultural wages. But he gave us no particulars of what rates of wages prevail in neighbouring countries with which we are in competition as regards agricultural produce. I assert that the rate of agricultural wages in this country at present, taking into account the difference in house rent is practically as good all round as the rates of wages in Northern Ireland and in Great Britain.

I see Deputy Norton taking notes.

Would Deputy Moore quote the figures?

I could not, and neither did Deputy Dillon. Deputy Dillon got very angry over the statement of the Parliamentary Secretary for Finance, Deputy Flinn, that any man who would interfere with people in congested districts earning 24/- a week would be torn to pieces. Surely Deputy Dillon was calling attention to a statement that was not altogether flattering to his own Party, because what Deputy Flinn obviously conveyed was that these people never before in their lives had a chance of earning 24/-, and that 24/- a week was such unheard of prosperity to them that anybody interfering with it would certainly have a bad time.

Does Deputy Moore believe that?

Of course, I believe it absolutely. Surely Deputy Dillon, with his knowledge of the people who have been going to England year after year, and who have been working at a wage of 30/- a week, having often to pay for their own accommodation out of that wage, should not have any doubt about the truth of the statements. He, at all events, should not be the one to find fault with a wage of 24/- a week.

I challenge the Deputy's accuracy with regard to the wages obtaining in British agricultural occupations.

Does the Deputy challenge the wage of 30/- in England?

And that the labourers have at the same time to get their accommodation and victuals.

I adhere to my statement. But I say also that from the general human point of view everybody finds fault, not merely with wages of 24/- but of 30/- and even £2, because it is difficult for any family to live on a wage of £2 per week. But, are we not finding fault with human nature and the general incompetence of communities, rather than with the Government or the policy which prevails at the particular moment? Notwithstanding the tremendous capacity for producing wealth that we enjoy, we are in the position and we cannot find a way— no country has yet found a way—of being able to share that wealth so that people will not have to put up with miserable wages and miserable condition of life. I suggest that the Government during the three short years of its existence has made as big an effort to try and overcome that peculiar fault in human nature, as you might call it, as any Government in the world. They have faced that condition and, with regard to the principal features of these bad conditions, they have been successful at all events in showing that improvements can be effected. We had a Government in power, for instance, that thought it could do nothing whatever in regard to a shocking and a big problem in this country—the problem of housing. Then you had a Government that came into power and all of a sudden it was discovered——

Is this in order?

I think it is rather related to the question of wages. I make the point that those who are finding fault with the lower rates of wages for agricultural labour are not merely finding fault with the Government of this country but with the Governments of all countries—finding fault, in fact, with the capacity of human beings to make proper use of the bounty of nature. I do not think I was altogether out of order.

We cannot discuss housing unless it is housing carried out by the Land Commission.

I merely quoted that as an instance; I did not attempt to discuss it generally. The Minister is to be congratulated upon the very great progress that has been made with the division of land. I would suggest to him, however, that there are certain parts in the country which have not yet shared in that development, and that these parts of the country should not be left in the cold. There is a keen demand in many places for the division of land that is at present giving no produce, employing no labour, and that is practically worthless to the community. While the Minister has gone a long way in the past 12 months towards remedying that state of affairs I hope there will be no slacking off, that he will continue that work, and that he will not merely devote himself to areas most in need of such activity, but that he will also attend to other districts which are waiting eagerly for the opportunity of that development.

I think the United Ireland Party and, in particular, the Front Bench of the United Ireland Party, are really being very hardly dealt with in this debate. They are attacked, on the one hand, by Deputy Donnelly and, on the other hand, by Deputy Belton because of their attitude towards the collection of the land annuities. Deputy Donnelly attacks us because he says we have been encouraging the people not to pay; Deputy Belton attacks us because he says we have been encouraging the people to pay.

I do not want to be misrepresented by the Deputy. I knew well what his misrepresentation was going to be; I could see it coming. What I did say was that the Deputy, with other colleagues, went around the country telling the people to pay if they were able. What I say to them is that in the operation of the law nobody can be his own judge; and it cannot be stated that a person is not able to pay until the sheriff goes to his yard and comes back and returns "no goods." That is the operation of the law, and in the eyes of the law such a person is not able to pay. Deputy MacDermot advocated, "Pay if you are able," and "Pay if you are able" means, in Deputy MacDermot's policy, that the sheriff goes and finds no goods; or if he does, you must pay because you are able. If he does not find any goods you need not pay. But the sheriff must not be interrupted, according to Deputy MacDermot.

Deputy MacDermot to continue.

I do not want to be misrepresented—certainly not by Deputy MacDermot.

A Deputy

He was your leader.

He was never my leader. He would lead nothing.

I think the House will recollect having heard every word Deputy Belton has just uttered in his long-winded interruption, not once, but a dozen times in speeches made by him. It remains true that he complained of our having advised people to pay if they could. Our attitude on this subject of the land annuities has been perfectly logical.

I hope I shall live long enough to see the history of the economic war written by Deputy Belton. If such a thing comes to pass it will be a most entertaining work, and will bear a strong resemblance to the well-known literary masterpiece "How Bill Adams Won the Battle of Waterloo." He has the most extraordinary faculty for thinking that any idea which he has succeeded in grasping is an idea that has never occurred to anyone else before. The injustice of calling upon the agricultural people of this country, in effect, to pay their annuities twice or more times instead of once, has been insisted upon by everyone on this side of the House, not only from the very start of the economic war, but by many of us before the economic war started at all. In the General Election of January and February, 1932, I personally pointed out over and over again that that was what the Government policy would lead to; and after the policy had started I pointed out over and over again that that is what it had led to.

Before we know our own minds on the subject of liability for the annuities we have to distinguish between what is morally due and what is legally due. I hold, and have always held, that these annuities are not morally due from the farmer to the present Government, in view of the fact of the economic war and in view of the fact of the British tariffs; but, on the other hand, they are and always have been legally due, and I am not prepared to advise the people of this country to resist the laws of this country, passed by their own Parliament, merely because they are unjust laws. Is that position clear or not?

You supported it.

We will come to that. Deputy Donnelly again has attempted to make the case that we have advised the people to break and to disregard the law. All that Deputy Donnelly had to support that statement was the hoary old allusion to a speech by Deputy Minch, which Deputy Minch has since withdrawn in this House as regards that part of it, and which speech, so far as that part of it is concerned, has been repudiated by this Party as a whole. While I do not want to carry this discussion too far afield—and I know that it has been carried too far afield already—I am compelled, by the remarks Deputy Donnelly has made, to repeat that this Party, as it is now constituted, and the individuals who now compose it before they were members of it, missed an opportunity that could not be surpassed for throwing this country into chaos, and we would have done it had we not realised that it would be morally wrong to do so, because it would have meant the destruction of the country and because it would have meant throwing the country back into the abyss out of which we had so recently come, and would have meant the justification of everything that was done by people calling themselves the I.R.A. or any other people who claim the right to resist the laws of our Parliament by force. That is a perfectly clear and logical position.

If Deputy Belton is under the impression now, or if he ever was under the impression, that the land annuities were not legally due to the present Government, it passes the wit of man to conceive a good reason for his having paid them. If Deputy Belton merely means that they were not morally due we are agreed about that. If that is the case, we are all agreed about it, and we are agreed about it on the ground that was discovered long before Deputy Belton discovered it; that is, that the effect of the economic war was to call upon the farmers to pay their annuities many times over. The fact, however, that it is morally wrong to collect the annuities, would not mean that it would be morally right to resist the payment of the annuities.

Then, logically, the Deputy supports what is going on in Fermoy?

Nonsense! That is absolute nonsense. I completely disapprove of the action of the Government in exacting these moneys.

Are they not acting legally?

Certainly they are acting legally. If the law with regard to sheriff's seizures proves to be as they say it is, they are acting legally but I understand that there is an action before the High Court at present which may upset the powers which they believe they possess in connection with the sheriff. I am not capable of deciding upon that. Assuming, however, that they are in the right about the law in that matter, it none the less remains true, in my opinion, that they are acting outrageously in collecting these moneys from the unfortunate people whose sustenance they have destroyed. It is not fair to say that it is quite all right for them to do it as long as the people have cattle on which the sheriff can distrain. These cattle represent the only capital that is left of the Irish agricultural industry. In seizing these cattle, you are destroying the future of these people. They cannot make an income now. You are destroying the possibility of their ever making an income by taking away everything they have got, and you are doing it in face of the fact that it is your own policy which has brought about a situation in which, in effect, they are called upon to pay the rent of their land many times over. We shall continue always to urge as strongly as possible that the Government should drop that policy and do justice to the farmers. In the meantime, I think that any fair-minded Deputy on that side of the House ought to admit that, to use an American expression, we on this side have leant over backwards to encourage respect for the law and to discourage anarchy. Despite Deputy Belton's reproaches, I do not repent in the least anything that I have done to inspire respect for law, because, God knows, respect for the law is a thing that is sadly needed in this country.

If that is so, the Deputy must be in favour of the seizures.

Is there any Deputy in the House who fails to see the absurdity of Deputy Belton's remark? It is time that we had enough logic——

——to realise that although a law may be bad and unjust, it may yet be the duty of a God-fearing, law-abiding citizen to obey it. Is not that a plain point? It is the point I put to the House.

I am more tempted to intervene in this debate by some of the statements made by Deputies in the course of the discussion than by anything else. Deputy Belton, of course, has been most refreshing here this evening.

One could not help having a certain amount of admiration for Deputy Belton now that he has got back into that delightful isolation which enables him to find fault with all the Parties of which he has been a member. However, hearing the pleasantries between himself and Deputy MacDermot, one wonders what kind of a Party Fine Gael was when Deputies Belton and MacDermot were both members of the same Party. At any rate, we got a glimpse through the curtains this evening of what it must have been like, and I am inclined to think that there is much more than a mere chip-breaking, as Deputy Cosgrave would call it, in the Party. Deputy Belton delivered himself of the philosophy that the farmer is not legally liable to pay the land annuities, but although he spent 40 minutes in a contribution to this House, never once did he tell us on what his argument was founded. Probably his case resides in a contention that, because the British Government is collecting bounties and tariffs on our agricultural produce, the farmer is not legally liable to pay the annuities to this Government.

I did not say that they were not legally due. I said that they were not morally due.

Very well, let us take it that the Deputy's case is that they are not morally due. The Deputy has a short memory, however. I remember, in the merry days of 1926, when the Deputy was down in Rathcoole, and I remember him telling the Cumann na nGaedheal Government of the day that the eyes of the whole community were on that Government to see whether they were willing to continue to export the land annuities to Great Britain. I remember the Deputy eloquently advocating in a hall in Rathcoole—in fact, it was in the District Court Hall—that the land annuities should not be exported to Great Britain.

Well, what is wrong with that?

There is nothing wrong with it. As a matter of fact it is a perfectly sensible policy. That is my point.

Did I say anything else?

Yes, plenty, but nothing contrary to that.

Would the Deputies kindly speak to the Chair and not to one another?

I am sorry, Sir. Deputy Belton, apparently, was so innocent then that he never even contemplated the possibility of some economic or military reprisal by England if she found that she was not to be able to collect these payments with the same ease as in the past. That was Deputy Belton's attitude at that time, but because England now puts levies and brigands' tributes on our produce going into Britain, Deputy Belton says that the farmers are not morally bound to pay them to this Government. There was no such suggestion, however, in the speech he made at Rathcoole. The subject of his speech at Rathcoole was: "Hold on to the land annuities. They belong legally, morally and historically to the people of Ireland." I remember the Deputy using very threatening language that night to a member of the Cumann na nGaedheal Government if that member dared to suggest supporting the payment of these annuities.

Deputy Norton is depending on hearsay now. He was not there.

The facts can easily be found out. On that occasion, however, Deputy Belton delivered himself of another speech.

I would remind the Deputy that it is not Deputy Belton's administration——

God forbid!

——or Deputy Belton's opinions that we are discussing now. We are discussing the administration of the Department of the Minister for Lands.

But, Sir, Deputy Belton urged to-night that agriculture did not pay, and surely, Sir, I am entitled, in all reason, to spend a few moments dealing with that contention.

I would remind the Deputy that I have already given him quite a few moments.

The Deputy cannot know anything about it.

Well, you do not represent the farmers in any case.

I represent more than the Deputy does.

In 1926, Deputy Belton was holding forth and urging that the country should grow more and still more corn.

Hear, hear!

And now, when the country is adopting the policy which Deputy Belton advocated in 1926, Deputy Belton says it does not pay to grow corn.

The question of growing corn or the Government's general agricultural policy does not arise on this Estimate and I did not deal with it.

That is quite right.

I am afraid the Deputy mistakes the growing of corn for the payment of land annuities.

The Deputy had a fairly good innings in respect of the Government's agricultural policy——

Deputy Belton endeavoured to traverse Government policy in respect of agriculture and I did not allow him.

And his past and my past!

I cannot allow Deputy Norton to discuss what I did not allow Deputy Belton to discuss.

There are some pasts which cannot be penetrated.

Under your ruling, Sir. I will pass from Deputy Belton's viewpoint in 1926, asking the House, in doing so, to mark the fact that he then advocated the retention of the land annuities and the growing of more corn.

I did. "Speed the plough"—do you remember that?

I remember your being defeated as a speed the plough candidate. The Deputy told us this evening that he believed the farmers should stand together and that if the farmers did stand together, they would make sure that this Government did not collect the land annuities. It is not so long ago since Deputy Belton, with Deputy MacDermot, was telling us that all the farmers were standing together within the Fine Gael Party. Have they all left now with Deputy Belton? Or are they still in that Pary and have they disowned Deputy Belton? If Deputy Belton's statement some months ago that they were all in the Fine Gael Party is true, it seems rather strange that Deputy Belton should now complain that they are not in the Fine Gael Party.

They joined the Labour Party.

We will consider application from some but not from others.

They are very scaree, I am afraid.

This evening, Deputy Dillon delivered himself of his usual hysterical tirade against the Labour Party. It was the kind of tirade which in this House is becoming associated with Deputy Dillon. He accused the Labour Party of being responsible for the low rates of wages paid to agricultural workers. I should like to ask Deputy Dillon to face up to a few facts in connection with the position. In what way does Deputy Dillon suggest the Labour Party is responsible for the low rates of wages paid to agricultural workers? He can plead, of course, that because we supported the retention of the land annuities in this country, all the consequences of that have flowed from the retention of the land annuities. He may say that as a result of the retention of the land annuities, punitive tariffs have been imposed on our agricultural produce by Britain, and, as a consequence, the farmer here has been severely hit by the resulting fall in the price of live stock.

Pursue that now.

Have we not got the endorsement of the Fine Gael Party for the retention of the land annuities here?

Deputy MacDermot says "No," but long before Deputy MacDermot became the prominent leader of the Fine Gael Party that he appears to be to-day, we had General O'Duffy, the titular leader of that Party, proclaiming, at a meeting in the County Monaghan, that no future Government in this country would pay the land annuities to Britain. Is it denied that that speech was made?

Is it denied that it was contradicted?

What speech did General O'Duffy make that he did not contradict?

What does it matter at the moment, anyway?

Does the Deputy want to forget all the other ghosts that veered around the Party? We have the endorsement by a former leader of the Fine Gael Party that the retention of the land annuities in this country is fully justified. He held the confidence of the Party when he said this——

He did not say that, either.

——and held it for quite a while after making that speech. It may, of course, be, that, as a result of making that speech, the resignation he did not submit was accepted, but the fact remains, at all events, that, speaking in the name of the Fine Gael Party, he said that no future Government in this country would export the land annuities to Britain. That is the viewpoint clearly expressed by the then leader of the Party.

Quite true.

Even Deputy Belton supports me in that contention. Is it suggested, therefore, that we should continue to export the land annuities to Britain in order to rehabilitate our farmers in the British market in respect of live stock, even though a majority of the people of this country have declared that the land annuities are neither legally, morally nor historically due? The Party opposite had an opportunity in 1933 of asking the people to elect them so that they might, as Deputy Cosgrave suggested, get a settlement within three days, but notwithstanding the promised settlement within three days, notwithstanding the fact that these very attractive markets in Great Britain were to be reopened to our farmers in respect of their live stock, the people of the country, farmers included, did not believe that the Party opposite could get a settlement within three days or, if they did, they were very suspicious of the kinds of settlement the Party opposite bring back from Britain. Apart from live stock, which is admittedly being severely hit by the British tariffs——

Keep to it.

——because of the fact that Britain is levying a highway man's tribute on our agricultural produce——

And our Government a highwayman's tribute on the farmer.

——will Deputy Dillon deny that the price of other agricultural produce which is produced here is better than the world price which can be got for that produce in Britain or elsewhere? Is it denied that the price of wheat to-day is better than the world price?

Is this not carrying us rather far from the subject?

It is, of course. Deputy Norton is fond of the bad habit of following the examples other speakers endeavoured to set. He is traversing the Government's general policy. He will have to come down to the Estimate before us.

I could not follow these bad examples unless they were set.

Order, order!

I am only replying to statements made in the course of the debate.

I think the Chair said that bad examples were endeavoured to be set.

The fact remains that Deputy Dillon, in the course of his speech this evening, suggested that the Labour Party was responsible for the low rates of wages paid to agricultural workers.

Hear, hear!

He apparently bases that contention on the fact that we supported the retention of the land annuities here. I submit, Sir, that this is in order on the Land Commission Estimate. We did support the retention of the land annuities here, and we will continue to support the retention of the land annuities here, and I believe that the majority of the people of this country will continue to support the retention of these moneys in this country.

Would Deputy Norton allow me to put one matter to him? He is using a very peculiar phrase. He is talking about the retention of these moneys here. I have before me a speech made a few nights ago in this House by President de Valera, and he does not seem to give quite the same point of view as Deputy Norton. He says:—

"Undoubtedly, these moneys or their equivalent are being extracted from us. They are being extracted up to the present in, perhaps, a way that hurts even more than direct payment would hurt. I am willing to go that far, and to say that the dislocation and interference is probably heavier for the moment...."

Of course, I am not responsible for the speeches made by the President.

Nor am I responsible for the speeches made by Deputy MacDermot. I suggest that what is taking place is that the land annuities, as land annuities, are being retained here, and that, as a punishment for their retention here, Britain is imposing punitive tariffs upon our agricultural produce. Because we have advocated the retention of those moneys here, to be used for the benefit of our own people, we are accused by Deputy Dillon of standing for a low rate of wages for agricultural workers. I suggest that those statements are quite contrary to the facts of the situation.

Well, nobody will believe you.

Nobody who wants to believe the contrary will believe me. The retention of the land annuities here has been fully endorsed by the people at two elections.

And the Chair submits that it has been fully discussed in this House.

Let him go on.

I am answering a number of points which have been raised in the course of this discussion.

And I want to point out to Deputy Dillon that it is too late now for him and his Party, having been defeated at two elections and at the local elections, to wail about the annuities not being sent to Britain.

They are being sent to Britain.

They are not being sent to Britain.

President de Valera says they are.

On a point of order,——

I can dispose of all this——

On a point of order.

I submit that the Deputy is carrying us a good deal further afield than we have been up to the present. You, Sir, were here in the Chair and heard Deputy Dillon's speech for yourself. The Deputy is now purporting to answer Deputy Dillon and not anybody else, and I suggest that he is going much further afield than he is justified in doing.

On a further point of order, if Deputy Norton travels so far afield, I shall have great pleasure in exercising my rights to make a second speech of enormous length in answer to him. I shall travel over the whole story of the economic war.

Take your medicine.

I will, and give plenty in return.

Rather than inflict that horrible outrage on the House in the form of another speech from Deputy Dillon, I am inclined to leave the matter where it is.

I thought I would stop you.

The consequences are too dreadful to contemplate.

Once was enough for you.

I think, Sir, I am entitled to deal with the point which has been raised by Deputy MacDermot. He said that his Party have not advocated the non-payment of land annuities. Deputy MacDermot tries to——

I was answering Deputy Donnelly.

I prevented Deputy Donnelly from pursuing that line of argument.

I do not question that, but Deputy MacDermot is obviously unfair when, after raising the matter himself, he now tries to prevent any reply being made, because he knows that the reply will tear the whole foundations from under his case.

On a point of order, I am not in the least afraid of any possible reply which the Deputy can make. As a matter of fact I spoke for five minutes, in answer to a violent joint attack by Deputy Donnelly and Deputy Belton on this front bench here, for our alleged attitude with regard to payment of the annuities. If the matter is going to be opened up again, there is no reason why we should not all have a lot more to say about it.

Deputy MacDermot came in here in a white sheet this evening to proclaim——

I am prepared to hear the Deputy replying to the statement made as briefly as the statement.

Deputy MacDermot wanted to suggest this evening that his Party had not advocated non-payment of the land annuities. I say that in the face of the facts a statement of that kind is downright hypocrisy. Deputy MacDermot tried to run away from the fact that Deputy Minch in Monasterevan advocated non-payment of the land annuities. Deputy Minch went to Monasterevan in 1933 and said he had advised the farmers last year not to pay the annuities, and his advice to them was the same now— showing his consistency. Over two years he had advised the farmers not to pay their annuities. Deputy MacDermot tries to dismiss that speech of Deputy Minch by saying that it was a hoary old speech which Deputy Minch had made.

That is not all I said. I said that Deputy Minch had withdrawn that point of view in this House, which he had.

I had not heard of the withdrawal before, but I am glad in any case that Deputy Minch has seen fit to withdraw a speech of that kind. But there are other people who made speeches of that nature. Ex-Deputy Heffernan, the ex-Parliamentary Secretary, speaking at Clonmel, used those words.

Ex-Deputy Heffernan is not——

You do not want to hear this.

——by any stretch of imagination an occupant of these benches at the present time. If we are to be called to account for the observations of everybody throughout the country, who may not even have been a member of our Party at the time, where will we end?

Speaking at a Party meeting, as reported and as not contradicted, he used those words:

"He, therefore, said to the farmers, ‘Do not pay'. He knew most of them would not pay, because they could not, but to those few who could, he said, ‘Do not pay'."

There is the element of responsibility that is associated with the Party opposite, advising the people not to pay their land annuities to the Irish Government.

Where was that speech made?

It was delivered in Clonmel in 1932.

Is the Deputy not aware that I have made speeches in Clonmel in 1932 and since, and in every speech I did make in Clonmel I took exactly the opposite line to that which he alleges Deputy Heffernan took.

I would like to say to Deputy Norton that I was associated with the Farmers' Party since 1932 and I never heard ex-Deputy Heffernan make that speech in Clonmel.

I will hand the cutting to the Deputy, and see if he can make anything more out of it. But there is clear advice.

Bad advice. It is like what Deputy Kelly said about personation. It was not the Fianna Fáil view he expressed on that occasion.

There is clear evidence —evidence through its supporters—and Mr. Heffernan was no chicken in the Party opposite. He was at one time the leader of a Farmers' Party in this House and, like Deputy MacDermot's Farmers' Party, it was duly swallowed up by the Cumann na nGaedheal Party. Mr. Heffernan knows perfectly well what he is talking about. We have, therefore, the clearest possible evidence, even if the jails in the country do not supply it, that the Party opposite have been engaged in a conspiracy to advise the people not to pay land annuities to an Irish Government. That cannot be denied.

It can be denied. You are a liar. It can be denied.

The Deputy must withdraw that statement.

I will not withdraw it.

The Deputy must withdraw the statement.

I will not withdraw that statement, because he is a low cur.

The Deputy then must withdraw from the House.

I will withdraw from the House. The unfortunate people in the country are being robbed and plundered.

Deputy O'Leary then withdrew.

The Deputy should be a good judge of curs.

Perhaps the Deputy will leave that aspect of it out?

There is ample evidence to convince anybody that so far as the Party opposite are concerned they have been engaged in that conspiracy.

Is there going to be any end to this?

The Deputy will end it now.

I propose to pass from that to a speech made by Deputy Moore. Deputy Moore stated that while he had no information on the subject, he believed the rates of wages of agricultural workers here were as high as in Great Britain. It is a pity the Deputy had not some information on the matter because he could have ascertained that under the Agricultural Wages Board which operates in Great Britain there is a minimum wage of 31/- a week paid to agricultural workers. I would like to ask the Deputy or the Minister for Lands if there is any county in the Free State where 31/- a week is paid to agricultural workers. Far from a wage of 31/- being paid to them, we find that under the Department of Lands a wage of 22/- a week is being paid in Offaly to forestry workers, while the rates of wages paid on forestry schemes in neighbouring counties is 28/-. There is not even an attempt at justification of the reduction of wages of forestry workers to 22/-. The rate of 24/- paid on minor relief schemes, indefensible as it is, is sought to be justified on the ground that it is relief work, helping the local people, providing accommodation roads and helping to clean up drains. But forestry work such as is undertaken in Offaly cannot be described as a relief scheme, cannot be put into the same category as a minor relief scheme. Thus we find the Department of Lands standing over a wage of 22/- in Offaly, a rate impossible to defend on any standard which could commend itself to a civilised community.

I think a rate of wages of the kind paid by the Department of Lands is a disgraceful headline for a Government Department to set to private employers, and local authorities could hardly be blamed, much as one might disagree with them, if, after that notoriously bad example set by a Government Department, they followed by paying the same objectionable rate of wages. Does the Minister seriously contend that a wage of 22/- a week can possibly sustain a man charged before the law with maintenance of a wife and four or five children? Why, it is humanly impossible for a man to maintain a wife and four or five children on a starvation wage of 22/-. No single man could possibly maintain himself in reasonable decency and comfort on a wage of 22/- a week. The State contends that that rate compares with the local rate paid to agricultural workers. That is a very inadequate yard-stick to use to measure the remuneration which State employees are entitled to expect. Everybody knows the circumstances which result in wages in the agricultural industry being low. But the State ought not to enter into competition with persons who pay low rates of wages in agriculture and try to secure workers at these low rates. The State ought to base its wage policy on some finer and more civilised plane.

Is it seriously believed in the Department that it is possible for a man to maintain a wife and four children on 22/- a week? I suggest the Minister ought to get some of the people responsible for standing over a wage of this kind to try to live on it for one week, not to mind trying to live on it for a whole year. The Government ought to be ashamed to have its name associated with that low rate. It is an indefensible rate, a sweating rate, and if it was paid by a private employer it would command the condemnation of every right-thinking person. The State cannot advance the plea often advanced by the private employer, namely, that he has no more resources to pay a higher rate. I do not know on what ground such a low rate of wages can be defended. I suggest to the Minister that in concluding this debate he ought to give an assurance that this wage will be abolished and that rates such as are paid elsewhere will be substituted for this miserable rate of 22/- a week.

The Department of Industry and Commerce, under the Conditions of Employment Bill, hope to be able to level up rates of wages, making the bad employer come into line with the good employer. Is not this a nice example for the private employer when he comes to negotiate with the Department of Industry and Commerce? He will be able to declare that the Department of Lands regards 22/- a week as a living wage in Offaly. Is there any case for a private employer in Offaly paying more than 22/- when the Land Commission sets its hall-mark on that rate and considers it sufficient for the worker? I hope the Minister will remove that blot from the Land Commission. I hope that the existing rate in Offaly will be increased and that never again will we have reason to complain, while this Government is in office, of an attempt to stand over such a miserable rate of wages as 22/- a week.

This debate has ranged over a very wide field, and I do not propose to follow the line adopted by speakers who have gone before me beyond making the comment that it was very good tactics on Deputy Norton's part to attack members of this Party in connection with the policy of the Minister, and that it was also good tactics on the part of Deputy Donnelly to attempt to put some of the responsibility for the situation that exists in the country to-day on our shoulders. It may be true that some person at some time said something that could be construed into a certain action. The only person mentioned was Deputy Minch, and it has been asserted that he withdrew that statement. I want to say here and now that I have been associated with Fine Gael since its inception, and at no time and at no place did I ever hear anybody suggest that land annuities should not be paid. I declare that definitely. I will go further and say that at several public meetings I asserted that the law of the land was such, and that in my opinion it should be obeyed. I recommended my hearers, whether they were Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael or I.R.A., to obey the law. We heard Deputy Donnelly say that it lies in our hands to ease the situation, and one begins to wonder exactly what sort of mentality he has or that he thinks the people of the country have if they would fall for stuff like that.

It is true to say that 60 per cent. of the farmers of the country to-day are unable to meet their obligations, and that is due to no small extent-indeed, it is due to a great extent-solely to the economic war. In 1929-30 the President, when he was occupying these benches, told us that the farming community were on the verge of ruin. There is no question about it they were not well off, but no matter how poorly off they were then, they were at least £20,000,000 or £30,000,000 better off than they are to-day. Without anybody telling them whether they should pay or not, there is no doubt about it they are unable to pay. What is happening at the moment is this, that a number of farmers all over the country are paying land annuities, but not paying their shop debts. Agricultural Credit Loan, and other things like that. The Fianna Fáil supporters throughout the country will leave any creditor without payment in order to pay the land annuities. I do not blame them. But they come then to people like myself and say: "I am unable to meet this payment to the Agricultural Credit Corporation, unable to pay this, that or the other account, and I want you to lend me £5 or £2 to pay these, because I had to pay the land annuities." That is the sort of thing that is happening all over the country. How long it can continue I do not know. I believe you are arriving at the time when neither Fianna Fáil nor Fine Gael will be able to pay or have anything left to pay.

It has been said here this evening that Deputy Dillon was extreme in his statement about the seizures at Fermoy. I hope I am not extreme, but I assert that there is a responsibility on the Government if they seize cattle belonging to a person to see that that person gets a just return for the seizure. The law of honesty governs them as well as anybody else. If they take 80 or 90 head of cattle and sell them for a mere trifle and pretend that is just or honest, I tell them that it is not so. It is an outrage and nobody can be too strong in condemnation of that sort of conduct. When the Government agent steps in and buys property that belongs to somebody for a few pounds, not a tenth of its value, does the Government think that it is right to punish these farmers to that extent merely because the farmer at the moment was unable to raise the money? No matter what the circumstances were that made the farmer take that line, I think it is an outrage and I think it is very dishonest on the part of the Government or any other person who may be guilty of such conduct. The law of charity demands that restitution should be made to that person. I put it to the Government that they are bound to make restitution just the very same as I would be bound if I bought something from a farmer at a price considerably under its value knowing well at the time that it was value for more. That is the position.

Deputy Donnelly tells us that we should apply to the Land Commission or to the Minister for an extension of time for these farmers. I have on several occasions applied for time on behalf of farmers. I have advised farmers to write direct themselves to the Land Commission. In a number of cases the Land Commission granted a month, or two months' or three months' extension of time, but that is all. In nearly every case the farmer having said he would pay at a certain time had to sell his stock at a loss. He tried to keep his word because he had promised he would pay at a certain date. If that man had been able to keep his cattle a little longer he would have been able to secure a better price for them. In a great number of cases where time was applied for there was a refusal by the Land Commission. I would like to ask the Minister how many people have made application for time for the November-December annuity 1934 and the number who made application in the case of the May-June instalment of 1934? How many of these applications were granted? I would like to know the number of orders that are in the hands of the sheriffs all over the country in the case of people who owe only one or not more than two instalments. How many people have had costs put on them and have always paid up their annuities up to this particular time? I would like to know from the Minister the number of people in that position, the number to whom time has been granted and so on.

Then we have the question of wages paid to workers. Of course Deputy Norton and the Labour leaders spoke with their tongues in their cheeks. There is no question of doubt about it that a difficulty has been created by the reduction of the wages of agricultural labourers in various districts. No matter how they may try to get out of the responsibility for that, the Labour Party have much more responsibility for that than anybody in this country bar the Government. Deputy Norton said further that Britain was levying a brigands' tribute on our agricultural produce into England. I would like to say one word on that. Britain is levying a tribute through the gentlemen's agreement and not because of any such thing as a brigand's tribute at all. It is being paid because of the gentlemen's agreement. It will take a lot of whitewash to wash away that fact. It may have been good business to do certain things but we are paying the land annuities and a good many things along with them through that action of the Government. A Deputy said that Deputy Dillon in the course of his speech has stated that he would allow his land to go fallow. I think it was Deputy Moore said that. What Deputy Dillon said was that he would carry out his agricultural programme and till his land in his own particular way and in the manner he thinks best; that he would not carry out what the Government thought best in view of their want of ability to direct the people of the country how to till their land.

The division of the land is a very important matter. I submit, Sir, that the Minister should see to it that there is no unfairness in the acquisition of the land. There have been some changes made in that respect. I do not know whether there is any truth in them. I would be glad if the Minister would assure the House that the Act is impartially administered in the matter of the inspection and acquisition of land. The sending of notices to people that their land is to be inspected causes a good deal of uneasiness in cases where there is no reason to have it inspected. Country people think that when the inspector is coming it means that the land is going to be acquired. I am perfectly satisfied with the manner in which the land is being divided. As far as I can see, the division has been carried out in a reasonable manner. There may have been some complaints, but in the division of lands you will always have complaints. You cannot satisfy everybody and the Land Commission can only do its best in that respect. I agree with the request that the evicted tenants and their descendants should get a preference when land is being distributed. Land was distributed in Longford recently and there was an applicant whose father had been evicted from that estate 35 or 40 years ago. For some reason or other he did not get a portion of the land. He had a farm with a very small valuation on the very edge of the estate. I do not know what steps have been taken to right that or whether any steps will be taken at some future date. But, as a principle, I would strongly recommend to the Minister that the descendants of evicted tenants, or the evicted tenants themselves, if they are available, should get preference when land is being divided.

The other question is that I think that even under the best of circumstances an economic holding should not be less than £25 or £30 valuation. There has been some change from that. I admit that in certain cases a small additional plot to an uneconomic holder is often of greater value than a larger one; but where the applicant is a good type of farmer who would be able to work a farm it should be brought up to the £25 or £30 valuation level. It is very definite that even in the best of circumstances a farmer finds it very hard to secure a living out of a farm of less valuation than that.

I want again to assure the Minister that the condition of the farmers generally is very serious; that it is true that whether by a brigand's levy, or a gentleman's agreement levy, or whatever it may be, the farmers are paying, and have been paying, twice and three times over every year. The Government should take into consideration the whole circumstances surrounding the agricultural community and take steps to relieve them as far as possible. I admit there are certain people well able to pay the land annuities and they should pay them, because it is the law. But, like everything else, it is a law that the Government can change, and I believe that they should change it at the earliest possible moment. I ask them, in the interests of the people generally and the country at large, to change it for the period of the economic war, which a number of people at the present time maintain is about to be settled.

There are a couple of matters to which I want to draw attention, and the first is the division of land. I want to tell the Minister that a good deal of dissatisfaction exists at the prices the Land Commission have been paying for land. I know where they have offered only £4 an acre, and, in some cases, I understand, £3 an acre. To bring the matter home more clearly to the Minister, I may say that I know of a holding which was valued for probate purposes at £1,000, and in less than 12 months afterwards the Land Commission acquired that at £350. I do not think that is fair. When the Land Commission set out to acquire land they should do justice to everybody concerned. I, for one, can say that in my county I have heard continual complaints that justice has not been done to the farmers whose land has been acquired. It must be remembered that it is not landlords you are dealing with now, but the ordinary tenant farmer who, probably, if he has an outside holding of 40 or 50 acres, has that land acquired by the Land Commission. It might be land for which somebody before him had paid a good price. In justice to everybody, I think the Land Commission should have regard to these circumstances.

I should like to put before the Minister a particular case which I asked the Parliamentary Secretary some time ago to take note of: It is the case of a labouring man who happened to get a legacy of £500, who bought some land from a neighbour and has been living on that land for the last two or three years, tilling it and so on. The Land Commission, however, have absolutely refused to make him a tenant. I put it to the Minister, even if he did wrong in taking the land, that he has got to be made a tenant and that the sooner the misunderstanding is cleared up the better it will be for everybody. The man is entitled to be made a tenant. He has paid money for the land and you cannot put him out of it. I hope that something will be done in the near future to remedy such cases as that. I handed the case over to the Parliamentary Secretary, but the Land Commission said they would not do it, or they could not do it. I think that is unreasonable.

Now, we come to the question of the land annuities. I listened to Deputy Donnelly for a good while, and he said that we, on this side of the House, have responsibility for the whole thing. He appealed to us to stop the conspiracy that exists amongst the farming community in connection with the land annuities. Deputy Moore stated that only a very small percentage of the farmers objected to paying the land annuities, and that, in fact, so far as he knew the situation, farmers were paying even in spite of the Government. Which of them is right?

I should like to point out to the Minister that a very serious situation is arising in the country at present. It was brought home very vividly to me about a fortnight ago when the agents of the Government arrived at a small farmer's place about a quarter of a mile from my home equipped with lorries and everything else. They saw that farmer's stock, which consisted of five little calves and five cows together with a pony. They gave him two hours to find the money. He appealed to me, but I said I did not want any stock as I had no room for them. Then he appealed to another farmer. The upshot of it was that he has to sell three of his yearlings for £6, because if he was not able to meet the demand of the sheriff in two hours they would have seized his stock and taken them to Castlemorris, and he would not be able to find the money to buy them back. He told me that three years ago he got from £7 to £8 apiece for similar yearlings. It took three of them now to pay his little annuity where one would have done it three years ago. We know, of course, that small farmers and even big farmers do not care their stock in the way they used to a few years ago when they were realising a fair price. I have heard it stated here that the Land Commission is very lenient. I have not heard that statement before in connection with that Department. Have they been lenient in the case of a poor man like that? I have heard Deputy Norton here to-night lashing the Government in connection with the wages paid for work on forestry and everything else, but it would be well for people to realise what the position of that individual farmer is. He has no butter in the morning, or meat for his dinner from one end of the week to another. He cannot have it. Mind you, that is a situation that is occurring in many a farm and many a homestead all over the country at the present time. I may tell the Minister that the man concerned would be the last man to come to me to seek my influence with the Government or with the Land Commission in order to stop that seizure, and I want to tell the Minister, candidly, that I thought that that man was the one small farmer in the district who would be in a position to meet his obligations in connection with the land annuities. There was nothing about that case in the Press. Yet, we have Deputies standing up here and trying to persuade us that we have been trying to put the whole country into turmoil and chaos by advocating the non-payment of land annuities. I want to say that any man, whether from this side of the House or the other side of the House—even a Minister—who will go down through the country and advocate a policy of non-payment of annuities at the present time, will get no support. Such a man never did get any support and he will not get it now.

It is idle to be talking of conspiracy in connection with the non-payment of annuities. Of course, we know that it is only natural, when farmers are in a difficult position, that some farmers will support their neighbours. They have done it in the past. It is only history repeating itself. I know that in the very place in which this incident to which I refer occurred—at least not a mile from it—in the old days one of the greatest battles in connection with the history of landlordism took place, when bailiffs and police were stoned there; and these stories are told to this day in that particular district, of which, I may say, I am not a native. I am only mentioning these things with the object of trying to bring home to the Minister and to the Fianna Fáil Party the seriousness of the whole situation. We have, of course, the usual cross-fire to-night between Deputy Belton and other Deputies. I know that Deputy Belton's whole object was to try to pour ridicule on Deputy MacDermot. That was the whole idea. It is not alone now, but in letters to the Press, that Deputy Belton says that if the farmers had only stood by Deputy Belton, and followed his advice, they would have the fight won by now. That statement is merely ridiculous. I suggest that we should look seriously at the situation. I suggest that we should ask ourselves whether or not the case I am making here to-night is correct. Why not analyse it? I heard Deputy Donnelly talking about what the beet industry would do for the country. I understand that there are about 12,000,000 acres of arable land in this country at the present time, and that 50,000 acres would supply our needs in beet. If that is the only portion of the land in this country which can be made a paying proposition, what about the rest of it? I myself grow wheat and beet, and I know something about the growing of beet, and I know that what a farmer will get out of it will not put him in a position to pay his land annuities unless he is a farmer that can put his whole farm into that. If we were all to do that, however, there would certainly be a curtailment of the acreage under beet, just as there was a curtailment recently under Government policy. This country has got to remember that the wealth of the bulk of the individual farmers is derived from the production of live stock, with very few exceptions. That is borne out by the fact that, when the Government's agents go around the country to collect money from the farming community— to collect the liquid assets—they seize cattle. Yet, some Deputies on the Fianna Fáil Benches think that it is unpatriotic to have stock at all. They say: "Why don't you till and have wheat and beet?"

Perhaps the Deputy would put that query to the Minister for Agriculture when the Vote in connection with it comes on.

Well, Sir, there has been so much talk about it, in connection with this Vote, that I am only referring to it briefly. I certainly do not want to prolong the discussion, and I am only putting these few points to this Minister in the hope that even now he will realise the situation. There is one point that I agree with in connection with Deputy Belton's statement. I should like to see some commission or court of inquiry set up to inquire into this whole position. I understood from the Minister that some sort of inquiry had been set up in connection with one side of the matter, but I have not heard of it. All I know is that I can stand over any statement I made here in connection with the position of the farming community in this country. It is idle for Deputies to refer to statements made by ex-Deputy Heffernan. I am not responsible for the statements of every individual supporter or follower of mine through the country, any more than Deputy Davin or any other Deputy is responsible for such statements. It is ridiculous to suggest such a thing. However, I think it is only reasonable and just that the first thing that should be done is to set up some sort of court of inquiry to look into the whole position. The farmers have a grievance, and a very real grievance, because the money undoubtedly has been collected from them. Is it not unjust to collect the money from them again? Unless you want to bring the whole situation in this country into such a condition as none of us would wish to see, it is only reasonable to expect that something should be done in connection with the matter. I have only given a couple of instances. It is possible that, in these cases, the money has been got this time, but, I put it to the Government, will they be able to get it again in these cases, because that is the situation there, and that is the situation that will apply to practically 80 per cent. of the farmers of this country if something is not done to remedy matters.

On a former occasion, when the Land Commission Estimate came before this House, I expressed dissatisfaction at the progress that had been made in connection with the acquisition of land for division. The Minister at that time informed me that it was necessary to await the introduction of the 1933 Land Act: that he was not prepared to pay the price that was hitherto paid for land, and that he would not feel justified in saddling the incoming tenant with a burden he would be unable to bear. I must say that, during the past year, there has been a great quickening of activities in connection with the division of land, and I must say that inspection and acquisition have been carried out at an accelerated speed. Deputy Dillon read out this evening a statement showing the number of acres divided each year from 1926 to 1931. He boasted of the amount of land that the previous Administration divided in these few years. During the past year, in County Meath alone, approximately as many acres have been divided or acquired by the Land Commission as had been divided in any one year from 1926 to 1931 by the former Administration. In his opening statement, the Minister referred to the introduction of the Gaeltacht colony into Meath. We, in Meath, welcome the people from the Gaeltacht. We wish them success in their endeavour to make their homesteads provide the necessaries of life for themselves and their families. They will have the co-operation and the sympathy of the people of Meath in that effort. Already, the social services have been extended to them. Still further facilities will be afforded them. I should, however, like to request the Minister, when introducing further schemes of migration—I understand that he has schemes at present under consideration—to give attention to the internal migration of a number of people from congested areas in Meath. I am quite aware that the policy of the Land Commission is to withhold the settlement of these people until the land in their immediate vicinity is available for division. That may take some time because of the difficulties, legal and otherwise, that confront the Land Commission. I suggest that if the Minister is, in the future, introducing another Gaeltacht colony into Meath, he should, at the same time, institute a colony of migrants from the congested areas in Meath. The land is available. We have nine acres for every man, woman and child in County Meath, including those living in the towns. That will give an idea to Deputies of the amount of land available in Meath. I ask the Minister, when introducing the next Gaeltacht colony, to give sympathetic consideration to the setting up of a colony of Meath residents. These people could be drawn from any of the congested areas that, as the Minister by now is quite aware, exist in County Meath. These people would have been working in the same district previously and I am sure that, if a number of them got holdings in the same area, they would make good. The Minister has promised that he will provide land for all eligible local people where land is being divided and that he will not bring in a colony until such people are provided for. He has carried out that promise and I have no reason to believe that he will not carry it out in the future.

The expenditure upon improvement works during the past year in County Meath provided very useful employment for a number of people. In some instances, it gave employment to people who had received holdings and it provided them with the necessary cash to start out on a new life on these holdings. I hope that the Minister will not be deterred from proceeding with his programme of land division by the remarks made by Deputy Dillon this evening. Deputy Dillon said that he would work his farm as he wished, that he would not adopt the wheat or beet scheme or any of the other schemes put forward by the Government. If Deputy Dillon is utilising his farm to the full and if he is providing the necessary employment, he is quite entitled to work it as he pleases. Under all laws, he is quite entitled to use his farm, in these circumstances, as he wishes and in such manner as is likely to prove most beneficial to him financially. But his statement appeared to be a glorification of the rancher. He said that if there were any farmers losing their land, he would stand in the door for them until he would be blown to pieces. His speech sounded like a defiance of the Minister. In fact, he did defy the Minister to come down and take his land if he was not working it as it should be worked. I hope the Minister will not be deterred from proceeding with his scheme for speeding up the acquisition of land by Deputy Dillon's remarks.

In every area in which I have been, the people are crying out for division of the land. The broad ranches that Deputy Dillon glorifies have not given the necessary amount of employment. It is felt in the country districts that, if the land is not brought under cultivation, the countryside will not be able to carry the population as it will be increased in the near future. The Minister has done a great deal of work during the past year. He has speeded up the acquisition of land and I look forward to the day when all the available land in Meath will be divided amongst the uneconomic holders, the cottage holders, the pre-Truce I.R.A. men who have given good service in the national cause and the landless men who are in a position to work it. The Minister is doing his utmost to have this work brought to a speedy conclusion. I can assure him that the majority of holdings which were divided during the past year are in a very creditable state, indeed. Instead of having land in grass and a number of farms derelict, we have the land brought into tillage. We have new houses being erected and, in fact, the countryside is taking on a different aspect. I appreciate what has been done by the Minister and I trust he will not lose sight of the point to which I alluded regarding the establishment of colonies to consist of the residents of the congested areas in Meath.

I wish to refer first to the collection of the land annuities, which is causing a good deal of turmoil and dissatisfaction and a very bad feeling amongst the people. As I live in the country I know exactly the position the farmers are in. I do not live far away from Castlemorris where a new industry has been established. To a pound, there, day after day, cattle are brought and sold at one-fourth or one-fifth of their value. I know farmers whose cattle were taken and sold in this pound whose position at present is beyond anything I could describe here. These people were left practically without any means of living and their families are practically hungry. It has been stated by some Deputies that we have advocated the non-payment of land annuities. I deny that. We have disputed, and we will continue to dispute, the payment in this way of land annuities to the British Government. We are forced to pay the British Government and then we are forced to pay here. That is what we protest against; that is what we are up against. Until this Government took office the land annuities were paid in full by the farmers, because they had an opportunity of disposing of their cattle and the produce of the land. They had then sufficient money to meet their obligations. The majority of the farmers are now unable to meet their liabilities, or to pay the land annuities. While they were able to do so they paid, but they are now in the position of not being able to pay. We have protested against the collection of the land annuities by the two Governments. We have never protested against the payment of land annuities to the Free State, and we never will. While we are forced to pay them to the British Government, with an additional £1,500,000 to what we were originally paying, as well as a further £2,000,000 to the Free State, we will oppose that.

We have no desire to continue paying land annuities to the British Government. We would much prefer to pay them at home in the Free State. But we are forced to pay the British Government. That situation was not brought about by any action of the farmers. The action of this Government is largely responsible for it. This Government is responsible for the taxation that has been imposed and for money being deducted from the farmer's produce sent to the English market, amounting to between £4,000,000 and £5,000,000. Consequently, I think it is the duty of this Government to relieve us of our obligations for the payment of land annuities here. I look upon the position in this way, that the Government have little or no respect for the farming community. Farmers worked hard in the past and they are prepared to work hard in the future. It is not one or two members of the farmer's family work. Every member of it, from 12 or 13 years of age, helps on the land. As farmers are now in the position of not being able to meet their liabilities, that has been brought about through no fault of theirs. They are being forced to pay land annuities in the Free State after having paid them to the British Government. An appeal that was made on a few occasions to this Government for relief was refused. Farmers asked for relief while the economic dispute is going on and were refused. I look upon the action of the Land Commission in sending out warrants to the sheriffs, and sending sheriffs, bailiffs, harriers and lorries into the homes of the unfortunate farmers to take away the few animals on their farms as open daylight robbery on the part of this Government. I look upon it in that light. It is nothing short of taking away from the people the few cattle or cows with which they wanted to provide themselves with milk or butter and leaving them practically without any means of livelihood.

I do not want to exaggerate the case. I do not want to create any bad feeling amongst the people. God knows it is bad enough. Remember that the ordinary man can stand a certain amount of provocation, and a certain amount of persecution, but I think it has gone to the limit in connection with the seizures from farmers. I would be the last man to advocate anything that would bring about unrest, create bitterness, or be responsible for bloodshed or for murder of any sort. I appeal to this Government to realise that they have gone far enough and that they should bring home their harriers and their lorries and leave the unfortunate farmers alone until the Government puts its own house in order and settles its own affairs. It is not the fault of the farmers that they are unable to meet their liabilities and the land annuities. It is the fault of this Government which has ruined men who were trying to live on the land. Before there is trouble or before feeling gets worse in the country, I ask the Government to withdraw the pressure that is being put upon the farmers. I know how easy it is to create disturbance. It is the last thing I would advocate. I look upon this question in the same way as other farmers who are forced to pay the land annuities twice, or I might say three times, because of the action of a Government that has no respect whatever for the farming community. If they had, they would not send sheriffs and bailiffs out to confiscate the last few animals to be found on the farms, leaving the unfortunate people without any means of living.

What hope is there that for the future the people will be able to meet their liabilities? What hope is there that the land annuities will be collected? There is no hope whatever. Farmers can hardly get sufficient means now to maintain themselves and their families. I appeal to the Land Commission to pull easily, and to take home the lorries and the bailiffs, and to leave the farmers alone so that they may have an opportunity of making a living for themselves and their families. After being forced to pay the annuities to the British Government, whether this Government likes it or not farmers are called upon to pay a second time to their own Government. That is not fair. It is the most unjust action that could be taken by a Government if it wants peace and security. When they were needed in the past the farmers did everything they could to help this country out of its troubles. It seems to me now, that anything they did in the past is forgotten by this Government, which is piling on the taxes day after day. I want to say, before I conclude, that the Government have gone quite far enough with regard to their seizures for land annuities. In the beginning there were only a few people who protested and were not in a position to pay. Now, they are going around to people who cannot possibly pay because the position is far worse, and yet there is no change in the policy of the Government. I see no bright future before the farmers while this Government is in power; in fact, I do not see any prospect for them whatever. We do not want trouble, if we can avoid it, but we have at any rate a right to protest against injustice. Look at the number of unfortunate farmers who are in jail at the present moment because they made an effort to protest against injustice. I will not say anything on that just now. The Government have examples of the injustice that is going on every day and yet they take no notice of it.

I want to call attention to the delay of the Land Commission in the acquisition of certain estates in Mayo. Petitions have been forwarded time and time again to the Land Commission requesting the acquisition of these estates, yet nothing has been done. The first is the estate of the Marquis of Sligo at Westport. It is in the vicinity of the town and there are 700 acres of land there required for the relief of congestion and also, for the purpose of giving allotment to the town tenants in Westport. The owner has time and time again refused the Urban Council of Westport to give permission to use a road going through that estate even when the Minister for Local Government had allotted £10,000 for the repair and improvement of the road. Still the Marquis of Sligo refuses permission. I think it is the duty of the Land Commission, now that they have the power, to take over the whole of that estate with the exception, of course, of the house and its amentities, and give the people an opportunity of getting a road to the sea. At present they have to go by a road a mile and a half longer, up a steep hill, the grade of which is something like one in ten. Deputies will understand how difficult it is to bring merchandise along a road of that nature from the quays of Westport to different parts of the county. This is one of the things necessary for the development of the district and the Land Commission should take it over.

The next estate is that of Lord Oranmore and Browne in the neighbourhood of Claremorris. There is acute congestion especially near Claremorris and Castlemagarrett. Petitions have been sent up time and again but nothing has been done. The moment, of course, a petition is received, an inspector is sent down and he applies the usual poultice, telling the people that something will be done.

The next is the Lambert estate, Rookhill, Claremorris. Three years ago, I forwarded a petition to the Land Commission in connection with this estate. The Land Commission sent down an inspector and did nothing. Two years ago the same thing happened. About a year and a half ago, I sent a letter to the Land Commission telling them the position in respect to that estate. The estate was put up for sale by the owner and a number of people walked in and six or seven bought allotments for about £500 each. That particular matter was brought to the notice of the Land Commission, but the Land Commission waited until the owner got the money into his pocket and then served the usual notice, upon people who purchased, to the effect that they would take over the land from them. The Land Commission has now taken that land at one-third of what these people paid for it. The Land Commission knew all about the negotiations going on and the sale of the estate to the purchasers. I have proof of that and I asked questions at the time. I think it is very unfair to wait all that time until the owner had sold; now the unfortunate purchasers will get about one-third of what they paid. The next matter I want to refer to is the question of vacant holdings in Crossboyne. Quite an agitation is going on there now. These farms have been "driven"; walls have been knocked down; fences damaged, and the whole matter has been brought to the notice of the Land Commission. The owner is dead for some years. I do not know who the owners are now, but the Land Commission knows all about it. They have been asked to take over the land, and one would have thought they would have shown more judgment in respect to this.

Another matter to which I object very seriously is that the Land Commission are leaving people who have estates of 1,000 or 1,500 acres, and not interfering with them, while they have notified tenants whose valuation is probably between £10 and £15 a year and whose land amounts to 25 or 30 acres, that they are going to acquire this land for the relief of congestion. I really think these people must have gone mad. Let me give one case. There is a man named J. Higgins in Claremorris. All the land he has is 24 acres. He was brought up three or four years ago before the judicial commissioner. The Commissioner said he would not interfere, and he really thought the man should have got more land. Now the Land Commission have served another notice upon this man to the effect that they will acquire his land for the relief of congestion, although in the vicinity of his holding there is no congestion. The people in the neighbourhood got land before and there is nothing like an uneconomic holding there.

I would like to know also what is the extent of the grazing lands held by the Land Commission in Mayo. I understand that thousands of acres of such land are held by the Land Commission and let at exorbitant rents. At Ranahard there are two holdings that belonged to persons named Gibbons and Morley. These people have migrated for years. The holdings are let by the Land Commission; they never took any steps to divide that land. I brought the matter before the Land Commission but they will not do anything, and, as I say, there are thousands of acres of grazing land in Mayo in the hands of the Land Commission. They should speed up the division of these lands. The next matter that I want to bring to the notice of the Parliamentary Secretary is this: two years ago the Land Commission sold premises in County Mayo for about £1,400. The house was burned down about three months ago. After the burning, the Land Commission put in a malicious injury claim to the Mayo County Council for £3,000 for the burning of the house, while the person to whom they sold the land put in a claim for £10,000. When the Minister is replying, he might let us know what the Land Commission mean by putting in a claim for £3,000 for premises which they had sold two years ago and for which I suppose they got the money. The people of Mayo are very anxious to get that information. Were they under the impression that the county council would not defend the claim? There is a claim against the Mayo County Council for £13,000 for property which the Land Commission sold for £1,400.

There is little more that I desire to say, but I would urge the Minister to do something in connection with the division of the Sligo and Oranmore Estates and also the Brookhill Estate. Acute congestion exists in the vicinity of the Sligo Estate, near Westport. Similar congestion also exists in the Claremorris district in the vicinity of the Oranmore Estate. I understand that the matter of the Brookhill Estate is before the Land Commission at the moment. I also wish to bring under his notice the necessity for the division of the land in the Hollymount and Kilmaine areas, in the parish of Kilcommon. There are hundreds of acres of land there in the hands of the Land Commission even since the days when the old Congested Districts Board were operating and they have not been divided yet. I think the Land Commission should speed up their division.

I should like to say a word or two on the administration of the Land Commission. I was interested in the Minister's statement to-day on the division of land but, to my mind, land is not being divided as quickly as it might. There is no reason why there should be so much land undivided while there are so many people waiting to make use of that land and put it into commission. I am sure it is known to the Department that in my own county there is a great deal of land that is rotten ripe for distribution. There would not be very much difficulty in finding out the proper titles and in getting it immediately under the control of the Land Commission for distribution among allottees and put into cultivation. I think it was Deputy Kent indicated that there were many farms lying about the country which are not alone a source of loss to the country as a whole, in that they are not in commission, but are also a loss to local authorities because rates cannot be collected on them. There is a fairly large number of such holdings in certain parts of the country, but I am speaking particularly about my own county. There is an opportunity for speeding up the division of what are known as ranches and also an opportunity of putting into commission some of these derelict farms.

I should like to say a word on the matter of how the land is to be distributed and who the allottees should be in the case of two or three farms in the southern portion of Clare, Ardnacrusha and other places, where there are people who are most land hungry, people were brought in from Tipperary and Limerick to take over certain allotments. I know two or three instances within the last month in which this has happened. Although there are uneconomic holders and landless men in the area, people who have been engaged in agriculture all their lives and who are quite competent to manage these places and quite entitled to the land from any standpoint, they are left without that land, to carry on as best they may in a state of semi-distress, whilst other persons are brought in from the neighbouring counties of Tipperary and Limerick and put on these farms. That I am sure is also known to the Land Commission. I suggest that is not the way to tackle the problem of land distribution while there are men on the borders of these estates who are entitled to the land. That is not the way to encourage the people to take an interest in the country.

There is just another matter to which I should like to refer. I do not know whether it has been dealt with to any great extent but it interests me. I was very much surprised to hear the Minister say that the Land Commission had brought only 27 families from the Gaeltacht into County Meath. If that is the way the Land Commission intend to tackle that problem, they had better leave it alone. I had the good fortune or the misfortune to be a member of the Gaeltacht Commission in 1924. We examined that problem from every angle, and whilst we favoured migration into the fat lands of Leinster, we certainly did not envisage the migration of only 27, 28 or 30 families. If there is any idea in the minds of those responsible for Government policy that these 27 families are going to Gaelicise Leinster they are making a mistake. What we had in mind was the migration of a complete communal unit, where you would have everything necessary for a community and where you would have at least 100 families living that community life. We envisaged a community with an Irish-speaking priest, an Irish-speaking doctor and an Irish-speaking teacher. We envisaged the presence of all such people as are necessary to community life—not 25 or 26 families. This is not spreading the language; it is killing the language for these people and the experiment is not going to be a success under such conditions. I do not wish to criticise harshly any experiment which aims at trying to spread the language into the Pale, but this experiment operates in one's mind as not being likely to Gaelicise the Pale. I hope the Minister will consider the question of the speedy division of the land in Clare and also consider the position of allottees. He should remember that there is a sufficient number of allottees in Clare without going into the neighbouring counties for them.

In the interests of a common understanding and perhaps of a better understanding in the Dáil, I would suggest that two words should either be cut out of the Parliamentary vocabulary or else that an official definition of their meaning should be issued. One of these words is "duress" and the other is "ranch" I frequently hear people in public utterances make use of the word "duress" and certainly the meaning I attribute to that word appears to be totally different from the meaning attributed to it by some users of the word. Similarly the word "ranch" is very often bandied around in statements in this House and in political speeches outside but no one or two people appear to have any common point of view as to what area of holding constitutes a ranch. It is quite easy to understand that the agricultural labourer who has an acre of land in the country appears to be a rancher to the person living in a back-room tenement in Dublin and that to the agricultural labourer, with his acre holding, the 50 or 100 acre farmer across the road appears to be a rancher. To the 100 acre farmer, the 200 acre man is a rancher, and in between the whole lot the Land Commission now and then takes a very unfair advantage of the absence of any definition of the word "ranch" or of what class of holding constitutes a ranch.

Deputy Nally referred to a case where the Land Commission, on the plea of relieving congestion, interfered with a 20-acre holding, with a valuation of in or about £10. That may or may not be so. The Deputy may be misinformed, but every one of us knows of comparatively small holdings that have been taken over by the Land Commission under the powers given to them. Deputies advocating the cause of a political Party will refer to those people as ranchers without ever feeling that there is any responsibility on them to give what was the area or the valuation of the holding. Now, with this unsettled state of the public mind with regard to the activities of the Land Commission either just now or in the future, I think we are rapidly approaching the time when there is a definite responsibility on the Land Commission to say that so much land, or land up to a certain valuation, will escape acquisition. One result of the unsettlement with regard to the type of holding that is next going to be attacked will be a very serious deflation in the value of land as a whole. A bank manager would laugh at anybody coming in to him asking for a loan, or to bolster up his credit, by leaving the deeds of even a very valuable holding with the bank at the present moment. Deputy Corry may laugh, but it is very bad national policy to deflate or reduce the value of the nation itself, no matter what Government is in power. You are reducing the capital value of the country itself by doing that, and if land ceases to be an asset in a country such as ours, then nothing else is worth while discussing. Unquestionably land has ceased to be a commodity on which any man can raise money, get an overdraft, or bolster up his credit.

Deputies from the country know that in the past a farmer with a fair bit of a holding, who was working hard and living closely, was never in a position to amass money, but by hard work and close living he was in the position to keep out of debt. The time came when his daughters grew up. He had not put by enough money to facilitate them in getting married, but he was always able to raise money in the bank on the land he held, and that enabled him to make provision for their marriage. Deputies are aware that all over the country at the present time it is regarded as a joke if a man brings into a bank the title deeds of land, free from all incumbrances, and asks to raise money on them. That is due partly to economic circumstances, but to a very great extent it is due to the doubt in the public mind as to what type of holding is going to be raided or acquired compulsorily by the Land Commission. The time has come when we ought to have some clear-cut statement of policy with regard to the valuation of holdings below which exemption can be definitely claimed. The banks will say: "Oh, yes, that land may be free from incumbrances; it may be yours, but can you give us any kind of a business assurance that it is going to be yours this time 12 months?" No farmer can do so, and, therefore, the value of that type of property has been blown sky high.

By whom?

By the general uncertainty as to the activities of the Land Commission, and by Ministerial statements such as were made by the Minister for Defence in the constituency represented by Deputy Davin and myself. The moment that you have a responsible Government Minister telling his hearers from a public platform and, through the Press, bankers and the world, that their policy is to take a holding off any man who does not work his land according to the way they tell him, well, that is an end to all vested interest in land. It is an end to tenure in land and an end to everything that better men than any of us fought for. It is the end of title. No land war, and no victory at the end of a land war, is worth while if a political chief can stand up and tell the farmers of Ireland, years after the land war was won: "You people will do what you are bid by us or we will take the land off you."

When you have a statement of that kind, what value is there in title? A week after that statement was made, Deputy Davin asks me who was responsible? The Minister I have referred to is one of those who are responsible, and I say it is a serious matter to have the value of that type of property tumbling and tumbling.

Another agency responsible for that is the absurd price which is being offered by the Land Commission. We have only to see the results of appeals to their own Tribunal to get an idea of the way in which prices given by the Land Commission have been increased by the Court of Appeal, to realise that there is something wrong.

Was not that done during the period that the Administration which the Deputy supported was in power?

Deputy Davin is a great catechist. He gets himself into more trouble by his attempts at catechising others than any other member of the House. He is long enough in the House to know that every Deputy, be he good or bad, has the right to make his own speech without these sometimes highly irrelevant and very frequently, decidedly ignorant interruptions.

They are out of place at the moment, of course.

The Deputy, of course, always comes to the rescue of the people on whom his Party turns its little wooden rifles and fires blank charges at now and then for the benefit of the man outside. A few moments ago we had his leader, Deputy Norton, attacking the Land Commission as if it were the worst and the vilest institution that ever cursed this State. All this is quite in keeping with the play-acting of the Labour Party, and, of course, that must be undone. Some other member of the Party must come in in sackcloth and ashes to make friends again with the Government, to blow a few kisses across the House at them. It would never do if the last impression before a division was taken were to be Deputy Norton's attack on the Government, because then possibly the Party might have to vote against the Government. It is easy to understand Deputy Davin's interruptions. As I was saying, this deliberate devaluation of land is bad national policy. Ministerial pronouncements are responsible; Land Commission activities are responsible, and all around, as a result of both, there is very grave and growing unrest in that particular industry, which, when all is said and done, will always be the mainstay of this country.

There is one point which eclipses all others in public importance at the moment and that is the activity of the Land Commission with regard to unpaid or arrears of land annuities. Let us admit that there is a fairly serious situation growing up in the country with regard to the increased arrears and non-payment of land annuities and let us, there again, try to face up, each one of us, to our own responsibilities for that situation. There is no good in this cheap kind of claptrap that it is a political conspiracy, initiated, spread and fostered by the Political Opposition in Dáil Éireann or by the Fine Gael organisation outside. That is not true; it is silly and groundless. Statements may have been made here and there by an individual here and there. I do not want to go back into even comparatively recent Irish history, but if I did, I could dig out hundreds of thousands of statements, and not only statements, but orders, issued by men who are now Ministers with regard to the non-payment of annuities. Deputy Corry is the one man who swore here in this House that he always meant that the farmers should not pay when the whole Fianna Fáil Party was advocating non-payment.

I have not got the quotation by me at the moment, but does the Deputy deny it?

Yes; you have a good imagination.

If the Deputy denies it, I accept his denial, but there was a time when the whole Fianna Fáil Party, in a noisy, bellicose way, advocated the non-payment of land annuities. That has since, in a retrospective way, got a coat of respectability by rather laboured explanations to the effect that, when they were telling the people that their policy was the non-payment of land annuities, they never for one moment meant that the farmer would retain the annuities, but that they meant all the time that the farmer would pay just the same as ever and that they would retain the annuities. But, be that as it may, that campaign, carried on diligently for ten long years, resulted in an accumulation of arrears of land annuities, and if we were all as rigid in our respect for the law as some of us pretend to be now, we should never have condoned illegalities by bringing legislation into this House to remit arrears of land annuities. Understanding human nature as we should, what result could be expected from such a course? Some people had been paying their way in bad times as well as good, living close, depriving their wives and children of some little luxury, some little comfort, in order to keep level with their annuity obligations.

The Deputy knows of course that legislation may not be criticised in discussing this Estimate.

Might I just point out what I am getting at? I am not presuming for one moment to criticise legislation. I am merely replying to charges that were made here to-day in my presence—I was in only for a very little of the debate—to the effect that the non-payment of annuities is due to the policy or statements of this Party.

When the Deputy was not in the House, I prevented two Deputies from speaking for more than five minutes on that topic and I would ask the Deputy not to pursue it too far.

All I can say is that I am sorry you were not in the House all the time because I listened to that for the best part of half an hour. I will not pursue that particular point any further, beyond saying that if the whole of a Party is to be held responsible for the statement of an individual, it is a two-edged sword and the last person in this House who should play with that particular sword is any member of the Fianna Fáil Party.

Arising out of the non-payment of annuities, we have a policy being pursued by the Land Commission which, to my mind, is not only unjust but thoroughly brutal. It is no answer to say, "The law is there; we have a right to do that." Very often, there is a very big difference between having the right to do a thing and being right in exercising that right. The law can be abused as much by excessive, indiscriminate use as by breach of the law itself and the way in which the powers given to the Land Commission are being overused amounts, to my mind, to a very grave abuse. We have, in certain cases, at all events, untold suffering and hardship as a result of the seizures carried out by the Land Commission for non-payment of annuities. We have examples of people seized on for a sum less than the Government owed these people. The Government, whether it was money due for wheat or money due to the farmer for other purposes, have effected seizures for sums less than they, the Government, owed the individual. The Government take their own time in paying, but the Government lose no time in seizing.

At the beginning, it was the comparatively prosperous people who were seized on. Now we have the poorest of the poor being seized on and we have too many stories to disbelieve them all of the amount of suffering and hardship and actual bodily lack of nourishment that followed in the wake of the sheriff and his possé. We have all this campaign of terrorisation carried out, certainly with the powers of the law behind it, but at the time when there is this at least to be said, that the farmers may be excused (1) if they look on that particular payment as being at the moment thoroughly unjust and (2) if they have a reasonable case of inability to pay owing to what they believe is Government action. They say, "The Government interfered with my markets; I cannot get sufficient profits to pay my way; I have got to pay the butcher and the baker and that is all the money I have in the house" and they leave the Land Commission last. Some others place the Land Commission first. They pay their land annuities and let the butcher and the baker go without, but not one of them is able to pay all the demands on him at the present moment. If anyone likes to examine county records, he will see that here is one county at one time with a very bad return for the payment of annuities but a good return for the payment of rates. That county improves the following year in the payment of annuities and slumps in the payment of rates. Anyone who asserts that that state of affairs all over the Free State is due to a political conspiracy is automatically charging every farmer in this State with being at heart a tool for any politician. If we are carrying out the law and looking out for our pound of flesh irrespective of the wound left behind, we have got to be careful with regard to our own legal position. When the powers of seizure were given by law to the Land Commission in order to secure the payment of the annuities, there was also another clause in that particular piece of legislation inserted to protect the farmers. The Land Commission were entitled to seize in order to get the amount of their debt, but the very same law secured, or thought it had secured, that the farmer got the full competitive price for the goods seized. Hence, in the very same piece of legislation, you had it laid down in black and white that the goods would be sold by public auction.

Is there anyone—Minister or Deputy —over there, or in any Party in this House, who is going to honestly assert here or outside that the police ringed area where the beasts are sold constitutes a public auction place, or that that is the kind of arena in which the unfortunate owner is going to get a world competitive price for the goods seized and sold? If the farmer is not getting the market price for the goods sold, then he is not getting his rights in law. He is not getting his rights under the particular Act by virtue of which his goods are seized. There were two parties safeguarded in that legislation—the Land Commission and the farmer. Owing to the way in which the thing is being exercised at the moment only the Land Commission is being looked after, and the farmers' rights are being ignored. In addition to that, we have what appears to be a thoroughly corrupt monopoly established in this State in respect of public auctions. We have an individual or two or three individuals selected by goodness knows whom, toted around the country with a police escort and given a monopoly for the purchase of the seized goods; the general public being kept away by a display of force, while the favoured individual is allowed in to buy the farmers' cattle and other property at one-twentieth or one-fiftieth the market price of those goods.

We have the whole weight and force of the State machine thrown in, in the first place to create a monopoly; in the second place to select the individuals; in the third to exclude the public, who might insist on the farmer getting a fair price for his goods; and in the fourth place to escort that individual and his illgotten stock across the border, where the stock will be sold in the market that our President thanked his God was gone. Knowing that there is no farmer in this country, no matter how poor or hard pressed, who would touch the goods sold at such a type of farce as that—goods which had been seized from a comrade and sold inside a police ring, the public being excluded —we have the whole machinery of State at the disposal of the individual to bring him across the border and escort his cattle out of the country, where he will sell them at the full world price, making a profit of 90 or 95 per cent. on the goods seized for about five per cent. of their price from a farmer in Cork or elsewhere. That is all done in the name of law and in the name of justice. If that is either law or justice, law should be ashamed to march through the country, and justice should be ashamed to hold up its head.

Deputy O'Higgins made several rather strange charges here to-day. The first was that owing to the manner in which the Land Commission were resuming holdings the bank managers were refusing to advance money on land. I wonder did Deputy O'Higgins live up in the clouds for the last 15 or 16 years, or did he actually live in the Free State. Does he not know the actual position in regard to banks, and loans of money on land during the past six or seven years? Is he aware that the bank managers at one period, from you might say 1915 to 1922, went mad; that at any place where a farm was being sold you had two or three bank managers at the side of the bidders saying: "I will stand by you for another £10." That kind of thing went on. Farms were bid up to five times their actual value, owing to the fact that bank managers deliberately came in there and offered to advance money to the man who was buying. I have met hundreds of cases of that description in Cork County, and I am sure that every other Deputy has had the same experience. I have settled dozens of them in which the bank managers were very glad to take 5/- in the £ and get out. One would think that Deputy O'Higgins never heard of a thing called a frozen loan. Was he ever in Tipperary? Did he ever attend any of those meetings held in connection with bank debts— money advanced on land? We have got them all over the country. That is the reason why bank managers at the present day will not advance money on land., Then we have a complaint about the price being paid for land taken over. What was the position in regard to that? You might say that in particular from 1923 onwards the Land Commission took over large quantities of land all over the country at four or five times its actual value. I admit the Land Commission may not be absolutely responsible for it. There was a gentleman at that time at the head of affairs who saw that when an estate was being purchased the State were bled through the nose, and any appeal to that gentleman meant: "Well, if these mere Irish are going to get the land, we will make it worth very little to them."

That is a very grave charge.

That was the position and probably Deputy Morrissey knows it as well as I do. I could give you the names of estates in my constituency where people would not take a present of the land during the last ten years because of the annuities that were on it. There is land 11 miles from Cork and seven miles from the nearest railway station and it has 15/- an acre annuity.

Is this within the year that is under discussion?

It is within the year Deputy O'Higgins has been discussing.

On a point of order. I do not wish to enter into the merits or the demerits of the Deputy's charge, but purely on a point of order may I say that a charge of corruption against a judge of this country such as was made by the Deputy should not be made in this House and should not be allowed to go unchallenged.

Deputy Morrissey has rather aggravated the charge, because the Chair did not know who was being referred to at all. If the Chair had any idea that the person the Deputy was referring to could be identified by anything the Deputy said, the Chair would have interfered and prevented the Deputy making the charge. Deputy Morrissey has rather aggravated it by indicating who the person is.

Mr. Lynch

It was obvious.

It was not obvious.

There was only one person to whom it could apply, on the statements made by the Deputy, only one person who had the power to do what the Deputy charged him with doing. That is quite clear. I am not concerned with the merits or demerits at all.

Deputy Morrissey, like Deputy O'Higgins, has a good imagination.

The Deputy did not mean it, then?

The point is that estates were taken over at ten times their value, and the Deputy knows it.

That is not what you said.

Deputy Corry might pass from that.

I am answering the charges that are being made that estates are now being taken over at one-fourth or one-fifth their value. There has been very little consideration within the last ten years for the man getting 30 or 40 acres. He was expected to rear a family and pay the annuities on the land. I could keep quoting cases, not alone until half-past ten to-night, but all day to-morrow, in connection with estates that were handed over and divided. The unfortunate men got into possession and in several cases the first half year's annuity was paid and there was nothing more paid for seven years until the tenant was turned out.

Has all this arisen under the Minister's administration? If it has not, it is not relevant to this discussion.

I am only meeting the charges made.

I want the Deputy to realise that he will have to relate his remarks to what is before the House or otherwise discontinue.

I will relate it very quickly. It is very easy to relate it. That was the position of affairs when we came into office. The Department of Lands had to remember the derelict holdings thrown on their hands while the gentlemen who owned the estates were in England or Monte Carlo spending the loot, the cash they had got off the Irish people for these estates. Steps had to be taken to see that the people got fair value for the land taken over. Of course the people have a remedy. If they are not satisfied with the price the Land Commission pays, they have the judicial commissioners, a court of appeal, where they can get the price rectified.

It is only nonsense to think that the Land Commission inspector under Deputy Lynch's régime has a completely changed viewpoint as to the value of land. That is only ridiculous and it is equally ridiculous to think that because the court of appeal has been strengthened by putting two experienced men on it—that those people are not going to give a fair value for estates taken over. The only complaint I have to make of the Land Commission is that it seems to have gone to pieces in Cork County. There are thousands of acres lying there idle. With regard to Deputy O'Higgins' statement as to what does constitute a ranch, it is really very hard to decide. I thought 20 acres of land lying idle in a tillage district, with the owner living somewhere else, driving in a number of bullocks every year and leaving them to a herd, would be described as a ranch.

A rancher is a man far bigger than yourself.

All the inspectors who were in Cork County seem to have been shifted out of it. There seems to be no move made to divide land there. I have sent particulars of thousands of acres in my constituency to the Land Commission, recommending division, and there seems to be no move made.

Nobody wants land there.

Plenty of people want land. If you put up a farm for sale you will see the price at which it will go. I suggest the Minister ought to take Cork County in hand and see if he could not divide up the large estates into small holdings. It would be no harm to clear out the ranchers with 1,200 acres, the poor people Deputy O'Higgins referred to with 300 and 600 acres, who will not pay their annuities, and see if we cannot put into possession some people who will be prepared to work the land and pay the annuities. The Minister will soon find that is the best remedy. Deputy O'Higgins talks about the non-payment of annuities and facing up to responsibilities. I am glad to hear that some Deputy on the opposite benches is going to face up to his responsibilities. They were rather late in facing up to them now.

You heard of gentlemen advising their neighbours not to pay, and when their neighbours' cattle are seized they advise them to let the cattle go. But when their turn comes, and when the sheriff drives along, they pull out their cheque books and ask how much is due. The neighbour's 15 cattle are sold for £15, but the cattle belonging to these gentlemen are not going to go. A gentleman in that position makes up his mind to pay. He writes out a cheque for the full amount, with costs, and smiles at the unfortunate dupe whom he leaves in the lurch. You have that kind of thing going on all over the county. There are very few cattle seized in Cork County from certain farmers who pleaded in the first instance that they were unable to pay. I saw some cases last week in my own parish. Cattle were seized from a gentleman who refused to pay a few pounds. Of course he would not demean himself by buying the cattle at the sale. When we hear about reducing the price of cattle and the reduction in the present value of cattle, I wonder what increase in value do the letters L.A.D.A, in big print across a bullock's back, mean? They are printed out in big black type and I expect that means an extra £10 note in the value and that is their assistance to a competitive price. I save seen the gentleman I have mentioned go out and say he would not demean himself by going into the sale to buy. He did not, but he bought from "John Brown" or "Mr. Cash" or whatever they call him. He called up to him afterwards and he bought from him and he was able to pay in full and no bother at all about it. The very individual has a holding which he rents at £5 a year, but he collects from the unfortunate people in the village rents amounting to £5 15s. a week. That is the type of man we have heard about. These are the unfortunate starving wretches who cannot pay. We have had them alluded to in feeling terms by Deputies across the floor.

That campaign was carried out and it was pushed with all the strength of the Fine Gael Party behind it. With the full strength of the Fine Gael Party it failed. One other matter to which I referred was the charge made against me by Deputy O'Higgins in connection with the land annuities. I never asked any man to do what I was not prepared to do myself. During the Tan War I remember farmers coming to me for advice about their rents or annuities. I told any farmer who was paying rent to the landlord not to pay any more, and I stood by him and fought it out and got him 40 per cent. reduction. The friends of some of the Deputies got weak in the knees and settled with the landlord. But in the case of any man who was paying annuities to the Land Commission I advised him to pay them. I carried on the same policy since. Deputy O'Higgins tried to bring in our campaign about the non-payment and the refusal to hand over to Britain £3,000,000 a year that the British were neither legally nor morally entitled to.

Are they not collecting them now?

Mind your bullocks. We found that position of affairs; we never advised any man not to pay his annuities. I never did anyway. I always paid my own and, whilst I did that, I never advised a man to do what I was not prepared to do myself. I was never one of those who advised their neighbour to allow his cattle to be seized, and then when it came to his own turn afterwards, when his cattle was seized, to take out his cheque and pay for them. That has been our position with regard to the land annuities. I was glad that I was here present to-night when Deputy O'Higgins tried to fasten the old controversy on me. If I said that I would stand by it. Our position with regard to the land annuities is this: we guaranteed to hold the money here and we guaranteed to give the farmer as much as we could out of it. We reduced the land annuities by 50 per cent. Now, in 1931, when there was a big fall in agricultural produce and when the value of our exports had dropped by millions the Leader of the Opposition went across the water and he asked for a reduction of £250,000 in the payment of the land annuities. He was refused that reduction. At the last General Election he was able to offer the farmers a reduction of 50 per cent. on their land annuities. That is a position that I would like someone to explain. How was he able to do it? We are entitled to that information anyway? What guarantee had he that we were to get a reduction of 50 per cent. and that he would be able to give the farmers a reduction of 50 per cent. on their annuities? Who was to pay it? Was he to get it out of the tenants in the labourers' cottages or was he to get it out of the moon? These are things we would like to know. Perhaps An Leas-Cheann Comhairle will say that these things are not in the Estimate so I will not refer to them any more. I would like to know from the Minister what steps he is taking for the acquisition and division of land in Cork County? When is he going to send to Cork the inspectors he removed from the county?

If there is any great unrest in the country at the present moment, and if the reason for that unrest is to be ascertained, attention should be directed to the activities of the Land Commission. Much has been said about the non-payment of land annuities. I want to say here now that we of the Fine Gael Party, never preached the non-payment of land annuities. I do not know any Deputy on our side who did. But the non-payment of land annuities was definitely preached by the Fianna Fáil Party when they were in Opposition. They won one election practically on the policy of the non-payment of land annuities. Deputy Corry denies that it was ever preached by his Party. As a matter of fact, the Cumann na nGaedheal Government allowed them to preach the non-payment and we allowed them to fight an election on it. There was not a single Fianna Fáil member jailed because he preached it. Though President de Valera denied it, there was at least one honest Deputy on the Fianna Fáil side who had the courage to get up in this House and say, "I preached it and I am not ashamed of it." What that Deputy admitted was practised by many other Deputies of the Fianna Fáil Party who are much more guilty than he. They are engaged now in their usual programme of prevarication. Deputy Holohan, Deputy Wall, Deputy Fagan and myself are being accused by the Government Party of being lawbreakers and of having enticed people to rebel against the payment of their lawful debts. There has not been one shred of justification for any of these charges. We all admit that the activities of the Land Commission are unpopular. We admit that certain laws passed by this State were unpopular. If there is to be an expression of any unpopularity it must be in two ways, first, vocal expression of dissatisfaction with the Government or with a particular Government Department. If people are to acquiesce in whatever is happening, if they are to submit to it without any expression of their disapproval then the Government are entitled to say that the people are satisfied with what they are doing. The least harmful expression of dissatisfaction is the vocal expression of dissatisfaction. If the farmers of this country and their friends wish, in a peaceable manner, to make vocal their expression of dissatisfaction with the actions of the Government they are perfectly entitled to do it and Deputies here are entitled to act with them in their expression of dissatisfaction. If some Deputies on this side of the House, when the farmers were being persecuted, and in want, went to them and expressed their sympathy with them they broke no law and they were justified in every action they took. The present Minister for Lands can proceed too far along the lines in which he is proceeding. The tenant farmers of this country in other days fought for three F's—fixity of tenure, fair rents and free sale. I said on another occasion in this House what I will repeat now, that the Government seem determined to upset now what the farmers of the country gained in the previous fight, and to substitute this other power, another set of F's, power to fleece, filch and forfeit. It appears that I was a true prophet for, by Heaven, they have fleeced, filched and forfeited. If any Department is responsible for any unrest that is in the country it is the Department of Lands under the Fianna Fáil Government.

I will admit that the present Minister for Lands is perhaps not responsible for that. Some Deputy pointed out earlier in the day that the group of old landlords was substituted by a single landlord — the State. The Minister for Lands is the agent of the State and just as a group of landlords did their dirty work through their agents in the days gone by, in the days of the seizures and persecutions, so the great landlord of to-day, through its agent, the Ministry of Lands, proceeds to outdo the terrorism of the agents of long ago. The Minister for Lands is perhaps ignorant of farming conditions in this country. I believe he is not very well acquainted with the conditions of many of the people who are being persecuted. But his assistant, the Parliamentary Secretary, is well acquainted with the conditions prevailing in the southern districts where there is most trouble and he could easily advise the Minister. I should like to hear the Parliamentary Secretary make the case that there is no justification for the action the tenant farmers are taking at present against being mulcted for the payment of a debt for which at least they can make a moral and just case, if not a legal one, that they have paid the debt twice or thrice and should not be called upon to pay it again, and that even if they are called upon to pay it again, they have not the wherewithal to pay it without inflicting injustice and perhaps hunger on their families.

Remember, that these seizures of stock, while they may enforce payment in one or two instances, are going to leave the Ministry in the position that they will not be able to collect the annuities on a subsequent occasion. Farmers' stock are being seized and sold for nominal sums as was proved in this House. Does the Minister believe that farmers, with their lands denuded of stock, are going to be able to provide the subsequent annuities? If he does, he has more faith in what the land can produce in the way of seizable products than I have. The capacity of many farmers to pay has vanished. Some people have a little stock left, but none of them is overstocked. The people whose cattle are now being seized are going to be understocked and will be unable to pay their subsequent annuities. To the list of people already unable to pay, will be added numerous others who will be unable to pay. Remember that the farmer's power of borrowing is gone. If the Minister seizes his cattle he has no means of replacing them.

I said that the Ministry had created a certain state of affairs, that they were filching, fleecing and forfeiting, and they are. As Deputy O'Higgins said, the farmer is in the perilous position that he does not know whether he is secure in his title or in the possession of his land. Deputy Corry knows as well as I do that no matter what extent of land a farmer may have, no matter how unencumbered he is, he could not borrow £20 unless he had solvent security besides the land at his back. The Fianna Fáil Government have brought the farmers to that pass. The farmer who is in need at present has no way of borrowing except from some commercial friend. They sneered at the man who produced a cheque book. Remember that cheque books, like stock, can diminish in value and that the possession of a cheque book does not mean that its possessor has a lot of money. I have a cheque book and I am willing to give it to any member of the Government for a fair bid. Are there any bidders for my cheque book? Will the Minister offer me anything for my cheque book fully signed? I will give it to him with a heart and a half for a fair bid. There is an offer for the Minister or for any Fianna Fáil Deputy who assumes that I have sufficient means to be able easily to pay my land annuities, my rates, and other individual debts. My cheque book is there for a bid. There are no bidders. A farmer's cheque book is worth nothing.

Did you back the winner to-day?

The Deputy, perhaps, backs more winners than I do, and more losers too. He is backing a loser when he is backing the Ministry in persecuting farmers, as they are persecuting them to-day.

Mr. Kelly

I cannot throw my cheque book about, though.

You will not offer your cheque book for sale. There will be unrest in this country as long as the Ministry pursue their present methods. None of us on this side of the House has preached any direct opposition to the law, but if the Government, in administering an unjust law, proceeds to take active measures to administer it, then the probability is, nay the certainty is, that it will be met by people who believe that the law is unjust with active measures of resistance. If people are to be precluded from the ordinary methods of vocal resistance they will adopt methods of active resistance. There is a danger that active resistance to coercive measures will be pursued and neither I nor any other Deputy on this side of the House will be able to stop them, and the people, especially the farmers, are being driven to take those courses.

Are we to stand by when we know farmers are on the verge of destitution —I will give the Minister the names of some of these farmers, if he wishes; I do not want to parade their names in the House, but I can give their names —and see their stock seized when perhaps they are unable to make provision for their families? I know of such cases. I know of a case in which the Land Commission, when one of these unfortunate individuals asked for a little time, referred him to the sheriff. They did not offer clemency, but they let the sheriff extend clemency to him if he liked. We are told here that any needy case will be considered. If all the needy cases were considered, there would be very few land annuities paid, and the Ministry know it, because they know that the great bulk of the farmers at the present time are in need and would find it difficult, if not impossible, to pay their annuities without self-denial and worse than self-denial—denial to their dependents of the necessities that should be provided for them. Practically every member of the Fianna Fáil Party knows that that is true. They will get up and prate about every other subject, but when it comes to the case of the farmer, of his dire necessity, of his circumstances, there is generally a silence on the Government side of the House, with the exception of Deputy Corry, and, perhaps, Deputy Donnelly, who generally keeps very far away from the direct subject and talks all around it.

The Deputy must be preparing for Galway.

Whether in this House or Galway or anywhere else, I am prepared to say the same thing.

I think the Deputy must be preserving his oratory for Galway.

I am prepared to say in Galway anything I say in this House.

I am prepared to say nothing about Galway.

Well, Sir, we, at least, have the honesty to say anything we have to say in this House and in Galway afterwards. Let them meet us there and we will answer them there just the same as in this House. I want to warn the Ministry that if they proceed in a process of what I can only call by the name another Deputy called it in this House, a process of daylight robbery, then they will have trouble; and they are looking for trouble; and anybody who is subject to that inquisition will have the sympathy of Deputies here, and I am not ashamed to offer such a man my sympathy.

I am tempted to intervene in this debate for two or three reasons: principally, because I want to add my plea and also my protest to that made by Deputy Davin and other members of this Party against the miserably inadequate wage paid to the forestry workers that has been referred to by these speakers. There are a few other reasons also that encourage me to say a word in this Vote. One of these reasons is because of the appeal made earlier this evening by Deputy O'Higgins to the effect that we should face up to realities in examining this whole question. I think Deputy O'Higgins might have added the term "facing up to realities" to the two other terms that he sought to have excluded from the language used in this House, because if there is any term that is very much abused and disregarded it is that term "facing up to realities." I wish that some attempt had been made to do that during the course of this debate to-day, because if this debate was noticeable for anything it was noticeable for the very large degree of irresponsibility that characterised it during the whole of the evening. For instance, we had the tears of Deputy Dillon this evening over the plight of the agricultural labourer—one of the most transparently hypocritical performances we have ever listened to in this House. Although it is not unusual for Deputy Dillon to talk in that strain, he certainly excelled himself this evening. He posed as the friend of the agricultural labourer, for whose plight he had nothing but pity. I seem to be reminded that he did not always fit into the rôle of the good employer that he would like us to believe he was and that he actually stated he was this evening. I seem to remember that, in the not very far distant past, as a result of endeavouring to enforce a wage-cut of £1 a week on his own employees, his employees who picketed his premises were taken into court and prosecuted. For a man to come in here and pose as the advocate of high and good wages after endeavouring to take a substantial slice off the wages of his own employees——

On a point of order, Sir, I submit that, unless the Deputy to whom Deputy Murphy is referring is present, he is not in order in making such statements. Deputy Dillon has already informed the House what he pays his agricultural labourers.

I think it is relevant to this extent: that Deputy Dillon referred to the wages paid to agricultural workers and employees of the Land Commission, and I think that Deputy Murphy is entitled to make a reply as to how the Deputy acts in accordance with the statements he makes.

I submit, Sir, with all respect, that Deputy Murphy is referring to Deputy Dillon's agricultural employees, and Deputy Dillon said that he paid to his agricultural labourers no less than 30/- a week. It may be that the Deputy is referring to shop employees.

Mr. Murphy

I know that it is inconvenient to be reminded of this matter, but I do not think a Deputy should be allowed to pose in the manner in which Deputy Dillon endeavoured to pose this evening without something being said about it. The man who would have us believe that he stood for everything that was generous in employment, and who asked us to bear witness to the honesty of his tears for the plight of the agricultural labourer, does not like to be discovered for what he really is—a wage reducer and a man who was the direct cause of invoking the law to prevent his employees asserting their rights, through their Trades Union, to their wages.

I submit, Sir, that if Deputy Murphy wishes to deny that Deputy Dillon pays his agricultural labourers 30/- a week, he should say so like a man, and I submit, with all respect, that if he does not do that, it is out of order.

The Chair does not know to what particular kind of employees Deputy Murphy is referring. The Chair has had no opportunity of finding that out.

The Deputy did refer to picketing a shop in Ballaghaderreen.

Surely, this is developing into a low, mean attack on the standard of the House.

The Chair has no means of judging to which particular type of employees Deputy Murphy is referring. The Deputy himself has not made it clear. However, I think that Deputy Murphy should pass from that subject now.

Mr. Murphy

I only intended, Sir, to make that comment on the newfound friends of the poor. Although we are told that the poor do not make any new friends, they made some new friends judging by the speeches this evening. A significant omission from the speeches delivered this evening, noticeably from Deputy Dillon's speech, was the omission of any reference to the fact that very large numbers of men were dismissed from their employment in agriculture because they would not vote in a certain way. I must say that it is all to their credit that, even facing dismissal and the consequences of what dismissal would mean to them, they insisted on voting at the local elections in the way they wanted to vote, and with the consequences to the Party opposite that Deputy Dillon well knows.

And they were also dismissed for wearing blue shirts.

I will not admit the truth of Deputy Murphy's statement for a moment.

That does not take away from the truth of it.

Mr. Murphy

I pass from that to refer to what is easily the most disgraceful speech delivered here this evening. I refer to the speech delivered by Deputy Professor O'Sullivan. One would expect from a man who had borne for a very considerable time the responsibilities that Deputy O'Sullivan had some sense of responsibility but, if I could read anything into his speech, it was the most direct incitement to disorder and violence that could possibly be made in this House in the guise of a plea for certain afflicted people in certain areas. Surely, Deputy O'Sullivan must realise that it is a grotesque exaggeration to describe the Minister for Lands and the Land Commission as the successor of the landlords. Nobody who wants to realise the truth of a position of this kind need be reminded that, in the past, rents were put up at will. The landlords were empowered to make what increase from year to year in their rents they desired. Not alone that, but even when the highest rent was charged, there was no security for the tenant. In spite of occasional wild statements to the effect that the title of the tenant is being impaired at the present time, there is no foundation for a statement of that kind. I regret that Deputy O'Sullivan lent himself to a campaign of this kind in the language he did this evening.

If some of the speeches made here this evening mean anything, they afford, in my opinion, the most convincing proof that the campaign against the payment of land annuities has definite political sanction and support from members of this House who ought to be responsible and who ought to be more guarded and deliberate in their utterances. I think it was Deputy O'Sullivan who said that we were sneering at the farmers. We do not sneer at the farmers. Neither do we deny that the present time is one of very considerable difficulty. It does not give us, on this side of the House, any pleasure to know that the farmers are hard pressed. But we do believe that the difficulties of the present time are difficulties that will pass, that the whole position we are going through is a changing and a transitory one and that, in the end, the farmer and the agricultural labourer will be better off than they were before this difficulty arose and better off than they could be if any policy other than that pursued at the present time was being pursued. We have no desire to add to any difficulties that the present situation has caused. But we do desire to express our contempt—there is no other term which would be suitable— for people who would advise their misguided followers to take up a certain course and carefully refrain from following that advice themselves. That is the position. I have heard responsible people, including the Vice-Chairman of the Cork County Council, state at a public meeting of the county council that he had not paid his annuities and would not pay them. When his neighbours, who were less fortunately placed than he was, took that advice literally and acted upon it, that man was in the happy position of being able to run away from that position and meet his liabilities immediately on call from the sheriff.

My experience as regards the making of appeals to the Land Commission in cases of difficulty has been different from the experience that some Deputies state they have had. I have found the Land Commission willing to give time. I think that that is right and I hope they will continue that policy. I have also found the sheriff prepared to carry out that policy. I think it is right that that should be stated here. If people have not taken the trouble to ask the Land Commission to give an extension of time in deserving cases, then they ought not to make statements that, so far as my experience goes, are not in accordance with the facts. It is entirely unfair to suggest that we have any desire to worsen the position of either the farmer or the agricultural labourer. We belong to the people who are referred to and we have more definite interest in the future of the country than some of our critics. One of our critics in this House this evening was told by one of the Deputies who sit on the same bench that his interests in this country were not deeply rooted or very fixed, that it was quite possible for him to pull up his roots, pack his case and leave the country. We are definitely interested in the future of the agricultural labourer. We believe that the agricultural labourer will have better opportunities in the future than he has had in the past. Employment for the agricultural labourer was uncertain and casual not for two or three years but for several years past and wages have been poor and unsatisfactory for a number of years. It is our hope, aim and belief that he will be enabled to get a better wage in future and that, when the difficulties of the present situation shall have passed, as they are bound to pass, he will share in the benefits that will arise. It is futile to argue that it is untrue that certain people advocated non-payment of annuities. Very prominent people are in prison at present for having advocated the non-payment of annuities. They got the opportunity in court of denying that policy and they refused to do so. They got the opportunity of apologising for that policy and they refused to do so.

When did they get the opportunity?

Mr. Murphy

In court. They were met at the station as conquering heroes when they returned to Cork. They were visited in the prisons and agricultural fixtures, including shows, all over the County Cork, are being suspended as a protest against their imprisonment for advocating the non-payment of annuities. That is very definite proof that this campaign against the payment of annuities is a fact and is a reality. It has been very bad advice for the people who took it. They have had their difficulties and they have paid for them but, surely one can have nothing but contempt for the authors of that campaign, who sheltered behind speeches made at a safe distance, and refused to take any of the consequences that the unfortunate people who followed their advice had to take.

Before I conclude I should like to support what Deputy Corry said about the need for more activity on the part of the Land Commission in examining into and dividing land that may be available in County Cork. It would be well if a good deal more could be done in that direction. Like Deputy Corry I am not in a position to congratulate the Minister upon the activity of his Department in that county. In certain parts of the county the opportunity is not there, but in other parts there are considerable quantities of land available for breaking up. I hope the Minister will look into that at an early date. I hope too that this will be the last occasion we will have to refer here to the miserably inadequate wage paid for forestry work. The State should be a good employer. The State should be honest about it, and at least the claim could be made that the forestry section should pay the same rate of wages as local authorities. In spite of the fact that the Party with which many of our critics have been associated, has been endeavouring to back down the wages paid their employees by local authorities, I ask the Minister not to take that advice and not to continue a policy which is manifestly unfair to the wage earners concerned. The criticisms we have offered are honest. We are not afraid to express our views on low wages and wage reducing whenever the opportunity occurs. That is one of our main functions in this House, and no amount of criticism, ridicule or personal insult, will deter us from doing our duty.

Has the Deputy the courage to repeat the dirty attack he made on me when I was not here?

Mr. Murphy

I will repeat it as soon as I get the opportunity.

Any rat would do the same. I understand that Deputy Murphy made a dirty personal attack on me in my absence.

Did the Chair hear the remark made by Deputy Dillon about Deputy Murphy?

I heard Deputy Dillon calling attention to what he alleges was a dirty attack by Deputy Murphy. Whatever Deputy Murphy said was said within the rules of order. That is all the Chair is concerned with.

You will not give me an opportunity of answering the personal attack made on me?

The Deputy will get all the latitude that the rules entitle him to.

Is it in order for a Deputy to refer to Deputy Murphy as a dirty rat?

I did not.

You did.

You are a nice Deputy to talk of order.

The Chair did not hear any such remark. If it was made, it should not have been made.

I did not refer to Deputy Murphy as a rat. I said his conduct——

I was rather pleased but astonished to hear Deputy Murphy roundly denouncing persons who he suggests made speeches in favour of the non-payment of land annuities. I am sure Deputy Murphy will agree with me on a matter of history, that the very Party that he is now associated with, namely, the Fianna Fáil Party, now the Government, were the first people to proclaim the policy "Pay no land annuities," which afterwards developed into the tail end of the disputes about land annuities and so on. That immoral and dishonest campaign was carried on down the country for a number of months, until such time as we had a general election, and it was on that slogan the present Government came into office. I listened with great interest to what the Minister had to say to-day, and what amazed me was that, while we heard that a big campaign was proceeding against the payment of land annuities, the Minister made the most satisfactory and pleasing announcement that relatively a large sum of money had been collected, and that there remained only a very small moiety of the land annuities to be paid. If the campaign that was talked of was of such large proportions, and was so generally advocated, one would have thought that less than half the land annuities would have been collected. Yet, we have the Minister in authority saying that most of the land annuities had been collected, and that there remained only a very small proportion to be collected. That does not show any disposition on the part of farmers not to pay their rents.

The one thing I feel about the present position is this—and the Government and the Minister must be aware of it—the position regarding the farmers' title to the land. In my view, in a short time the farmers' title will not be worth the paper it is written on. I am sorry Deputy Murphy has left the House. He must be aware that there exists in his own constituency a club, the members of which have already partitioned, to their own satisfaction at any rate, a good deal of the land of farmers in the area. Of course that never came before the Land Commission in the way of a concrete proposal. I am sure if it came before the Land Commission, from what I know of the very courteous and efficient officials there, any such proposal would get short shrift. Remember that that movement must have had its roots in the days when Fianna Fáil were preaching "Pay no annuities," because many humble agricultural labourers were led to believe that, if and when Fianna Fáil became the Government, land in their respective neighbourhoods would be split up and divided amongst landless men and uneconomic holders.

There are other cases in which farmers' title to the land will be challenged, and have been challenged, though perhaps not through the channel of the courts. At a public meeting it was stated that certain farms would be taken over by the Government and distributed amongst landless men, if the present owners did not conform to the policy of the present Government. I deprecate frequent references in this House to farmers with motor cars and cheque books. Have not farmers as good a right to have cheque books as members of the Labour Party or any other Party? Have not farmers as good a right to have motor cars as members of the Labour Party? The fact that a man has a cheque book is not a sign of wonderful wealth. A good deal has been said about the demand for land. I think Deputy O'Sullivan stated that that was a tradition in nearly every agricultural country, and that because there is a great demand by many landless men land has appreciated in value. That will be admitted by everybody except members of the Fianna Fáil Party and the Government. One thing I do not like, no matter what side of the House it comes from, and that is the attempt to shift the blame from Ministers to the officials in the several Departments. My experience of the Land Commission is that whenever I went to the Land Commission and examined into the complaint I had to make with the man in charge, if they found that my statements were correct, then, in cases of hardship relief was always given. I think it only right to pay that tribute to the officials of the Land Commission and I think what I have said is the experience of most Deputies in this House.

I denounce a wage of 21/- per week for workers in the Forestry Department. I cannot understand how it is that the Minister does not take his courage in both hands and pay what is called a living wage to the men in that Department. It is said that agricultural labourers are in receipt of less than 21/- per week. That is true; it cannot be denied. I see that some Deputies shake their heads as if denying that that were true. But it is true. There are many farmers who cannot afford even to pay £1 per week, and there are agricultural labourers working in Cork for less than £1 a week, and no perquisites. We all know cases of that kind. If the Labour Party were sincere they would get up an agitation that would destroy a system of that kind. So long as you have the agricultural industry—the Cinderella of the industries as it is sometimes called—so depressed it follows that everything else in the country is sure to be depressed also. The depression that exists at the moment in the agricultural industry is the cause of the payment of such small wages in the country. But it does not follow that because agriculture is a depressed industry, the Department of Lands should take it as the standard upon which to apportion wages. I appeal to the Minister to see that this is rectified as soon as possible. It is a very bad headline to set to private employers who have enterprises in the immediate neighbourhood where these low-paid Government employees are at work. I feel that a good deal that is said in matters of this kind in this House is dishonest and is spoken with the tongue in the cheek.

We cannot get away from the fact that the morale of our people is almost gone. It is easy to say on a platform, "Pay no annuities." The morale of our people is so bad because the Fianna Fáil Administration have men amongst them who get up and say, "Pay nobody" and these men have since got into office. The present Administration has brought about that breach in the morale of our people. The first people to yield to that were the farmers. Long before the economic war that was the doctrine preached by the Party which is now the Government in this country, and while it is true, as I believe it is true, that there were a number of farmers who did not fulfil their legal obligation, for one who could have done so 99 cannot do so to-day. I know men myself, hard-working, industrious men and who were at one time relatively well-to-do, that have not 5/- in the bank to-day, and are literally unable to support themselves and their families. Under these circumstances Ministers might press the soft pedal and not enforce the law to the very letter. I know some farmers who were arrested and thrown into prison, and who never encouraged the non-payment of the land annuities. These men, through the action of some agents of the Secret Service, and it is even suggested through the action of agents provocateurs, have been thrown into prison. To-day we see flying squads rushing up and down the country. People availing of the railway service or the bus service must be surprised at the number of men they see wearing civilian clothes but with rifles thrown over their shoulders. These people, we are told, belong to the flying squad. I would be the last to offer any opposition to the law, or to suggest that men who could discharge their obligations and pay should not do so, but the fact is that these people cannot pay.

There is another thing I would like to emphasise. We had a long land war in this country. The farmers after years of turmoil, strife and agitation entered into possession of their own land. The Land Commission is now in the place of the farmers' former landlords. The Land Commission is our own native institution. I have never advocated that people should refuse to pay the Land Commission, and the men who can pay, and who refuse to pay the Land Commission, should be compelled to pay. I do not care how far the law is put in force against men like that. But by far the great majority of the unfortunate farmers cannot pay, and have proved to the satisfaction of the Land Commission that they cannot pay and their stock should not be seized. I would regard in the same way the taking away of the stock of the farmer for debts which he cannot pay as I would the taking away of the plant and machinery of the builder and then expecting him to build houses. There are numerous cases in Cork where poor farmers have had their stock seized, with the result that their means of earning is gone. No one could support that line of policy. Farmers are worse off to-day than ever they were under the Balfour régime. I shall give one illustration of the plight of some farmers. I had occasion to take a case recently to the Land Commission. I was met with the greatest possible courtesy which is characteristic of the Land Commission and of all the officials of that Department with whom I have come in contact. This man endeavoured to pay his annuities for a number of years past. He then got into arrears through no fault of his own. He wrote me a letter in which he stated that he and his wife and five children would have to go into the county home if his cattle were seized. I put the case before the Land Commission. I get an interval of six weeks for the man to pay. I mention that fact to clear up any misapprehension or doubt that may exist in the minds of some Deputies as to whether a legitimate straightforward case when presented to the Land Commission will be seriously examined into. My experience is that it certainly will. I always felt, on such occasions, even though I could not get all I wanted, that the Department, with all the information at its disposal, and knowing more about the facts of the case than I could, have done their best to meet the representations made to them.

I want to say to clear any doubts that may exist in the minds of Deputies that in the Department every care has been taken, both under this and the last Administration. I mention that fact to clear any doubts that may exist in anybody's mind in regard to the way the Department is administered. Again, even if the officials of the Department had to enforce the law, they are just enforcing the policy they were put there to enforce and the policy they are paid to enforce. If hardships have been inflicted on any members of the agricultural community it is not the fault of the Land Commission but the fault of the Executive Council and the policy of the present Government. Having said that, I do not propose to say any more except once more to register my objection to the miserable wage paid to these workers in the employment of the Land Commission in the Forestry Department and to ask the Minister to consider his attitude in relation to these wages.

I listened with a good deal of attention to Deputy Murphy's contribution to this debate and I must confess that at the end of the Deputy's speech I was wondering for what purpose he had got on his feet. The Deputy, in my opinion, devoted the greater part of his speech to matters that should not be of primary concern, anyway to a member of the Labour Party. He devoted just the tail-end of his speech to what should concern him more than anything else—the scandalously low wages that are paid by Departments under the immediate control and direction of the Minister. The Deputy could only utter a qualified condemnation of the Minister with regard to these scandalously low wages. He talked about members of the Opposition on public boards whose policy it was to force wages down still further. Does Deputy Murphy remember the speech of Deputy Hugo Flinn regarding Government policy on wages? Does he recollect that Deputy Flinn defied any member of the Labour Party in this House or outside it to stand between him and any unemployed man and 22/6 per week? Deputy Flinn said that if they did they would be torn from limb to limb. I must confess that I find it very difficult to understand the attitude of a Party that in one sentence denounces the Government and in the next praises them. You cannot have it both ways. The Minister is either administering the Department properly or he is not.

Then we heard all this very vehement and very indignant protest from Deputy Murphy and other members of the Labour Party with regard to what they are pleased to call the conspiracy against the payment of annuities. I am satisfied, because I know it in person and because of the contact I have with the country, that there is not a single member of the Labour Party—with the possible exception of the leader, who because of his position does not come as frequently in contact with rural conditions as other members —but knows quite well that men who two years ago were able to meet these payments are not able to meet them now. There is not a single man in this House, I do not care on which side he sits, who has stood at any fair within the last three years and who has watched the prices that were offered for cattle, who believes for one moment that these men are able to meet the full charge of annuities and rates. I want to ask the Minister does he recollect what happened in the President's own constituency within the last few months? Does he recollect reading in the public Press—I just give this to illustrate the conditions to which the farmers have been reduced—a case where farmers were brought into Court for non-payment of rates and where one rate collector had to admit that these men were on the verge of starvation?

A Deputy referred to it before.

In any case, the truth of it still stands.

Mr. Kelly

I do not say it does not, but we had it before.

The Deputy would like that that should be glossed over but it is a fact.

Mr. Kelly

I do not want it glossed over but I do not want it repeated. It is already on the records.

Apparently the Deputy does not like it. I say that that can be taken as an indication of the position in which many farmers to-day find themselves. I am surprised that all this talk about a campaign for the non-payment of annuities should come from Deputies on the opposite side. Deputy Corry here to-night denied that he ever in any way suggested that annuities should not be paid. There is not a newspaper in the country—go into any newspaper office in any town and look at the files—in which you will not find, not only one reference but hundreds of this kind. We know quite well that the whole claim of the Fianna Fáil Party was that they should not pay annuities. The President himself on one occasion said that they should not pay.

A Deputy


He said so on the very famous occasion of the interview given to the Manchester Guardian, which perhaps the Deputy would not read. What are the facts? The facts are that the land annuities due to be paid to England are less than £3,000,000, but within the last year, as the President himself admitted a few nights ago, England has collected in tariffs on our agricultural produce £4,692,000. When you charge the farmers with not paying annuities you should face the facts. The facts are that the farmers are paying not only the £3,000,000, but they have paid £4,692,000 to England and the President is trying to collect a further £2,000,000 from them. He is trying to force that from them in conditions such as I have described, when they are probably getting less than 50 per cent. of what they were getting three years ago for their live stock. There is not a farmer Deputy sitting on the Fianna Fáil Benches who does not know that that is the case, because when he goes into a fair he is not going to get a higher price for his bunch of two-year-olds or three-year-olds simply because he is a member of the Fianna Fáil Party. There are farmers who are members of the Fianna Fáil Party who know that they are not able to make farming pay at the present time.

A Deputy

Unless they smuggle their cattle across the Border.

They cannot all smuggle them. I am talking of facts. The man who has got to live on a farm, who has got to go into the ordinary fair or market and accept the best price he can get for his cattle, is not able to meet these charges. He is not able to meet the demands made upon him by the Land Commission on top of the £4,700,000 which he has already paid to England. That should be remembered when we have all this loose talk about the non-payment of rates and annuities. We had cheap jibes about certain members of this Party. As far as I am concerned, I made my position in regard to the land annuities question clear three years ago. I say that if the money is not due to the people who lent the money in the first instance, it is certainly not due to President de Valera who never lent the money. That has been my attitude for the last three years, but perhaps the question does not arise now. Not only are the farmers expected to pay one-and-a-half times the amount of the annuities to England but they are expected to contribute a further £2,000,000 to the Government here.

I move to report progress.

Progress reported, Committee to sit again to-morrow.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until Thursday, 6th June, at 3 p.m.