Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Land Bill.

20.

asked the Minister for Agriculture when he will introduce a new Land Bill.

I am anxious to proceed as soon as possible with the introduction of new land legislation. However, since some of the main policy changes envisaged for inclusion in the legislation are based on use of the rateable valuation system, it is necessary to await the determination of the courts regarding that system before proceeding further. I would also wish to take account of any recommendation relating to land matters, that may be put forward by the working group which is preparing the four-year plan for agriculture.

The Minister is aware that this is a very urgent matter. Does he expect to be able to proceed early in the new year?

We are preparing the heads of a Bill on land policy but we cannot proceed further until the outcome of the court proceedings on the rateable valuation system is known.

Perhaps the Minister is using the PLV system as an excuse. Would he not agree that most of the recommendations in the major reports on which the heads of the Bill currently in preparation are based have nothing whatsoever to do with the PLV system but have to do with matters of policy which are totally unaffected by whatever basis is used for farm taxation.

In the few months in which I have been in charge of the Land Commission we have made more progress than the Deputy made while he was there. I understand he had one meeting concerning land policy while he was in that Department. I proceeded a lot further than he did while he was there.

I asked the Minister a very specific question. I will not follow the various trails he has laid. He should read the files a little more diligently and he should also read the two reports on which the heads of the Bill currently in preparation are being fashioned. Is it not the case that most of the matters to be dealt with in the Bill he talks about preparing and covered in the two reports on which it is based, are not totally unaffected by the use, or abuse, or non-use of the PLV system? Would he give a straight answer to the question instead of waffling?

As the Deputy is well aware, on resales of land the Land Commission have been losing 60 and 70 per cent and the taxpayers have been subsidising these losses. The funding of new legislation is all important. While I have been in charge of the Land Commission we have had numerous meetings between the senior Minister, Deputy Lenihan, my colleague Deputy Cowan, officials of my Department and interested parties concerning land policy and the future of the Land Commission. I am putting on the record of this House that while the Deputy was in the Department he and his colleagues had one meeting. I am a little amazed to hear the former Minister questioning me about the progress we are making on land policy, while they held one meeting only in seven months.

While I appreciate the folksy rendition just given to us by the Minister, and while it was very amusing, if there were half a grain of truth in it, it might be a bit interesting.

The Deputy cannot deny it.

Arising out of the reply the Minister has given, I should like to ask him how the existence of the PLV system ever contributed to funding the losses the Land Commission make on resales. Where in any file did he find a reference of that kind? If that is the kind of reading he is doing, he is living in fairyland.

The Deputy must not have read the White Paper.

The remaining questions will appear on next Tuesday's Order Paper.

I wish to raise the subject matter of Question No. 18 on the Adjournment.

The Chair will communicate with the Deputy.