Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Seanad Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 6 Jul 1938

Vol. 21 No. 5

Present Position of Agriculture—Proposed Commission of Inquiry.

I move:—

That Seanad Eireann is of opinion that the Government should forth with set up a commission to inquire into the present position of agriculture and to make such recommendations as may be deemed necessary to secure for the industry an assured basis for future expansion, prosperity and stability.

By way of introduction, I should like to tell the House that if the suggestion contained in this motion be new to the House, it is not new to the Minister for Agriculture nor to the Ministry of Agriculture. At the end of 1936, or early in 1937, a deputation, of which Senator O'Dwyer and I were members, went from the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society to discuss with the Minister for Agriculture the position with regard to the dairying industry and the conditions of the agricultural industry generally. It was urged then that the position regarding agriculture was such as to necessitate the setting-up of a commission of inquiry. There were, however, reasons, good reasons, I can see in the mind of the Minister at that time to prevent his taking such a decision. Towards the end of 1937, this deputation waited again on the Minister and, in addition to the other matters discussed, the proposition for the setting-up of this commission was again brought forward. The Minister at that time seemed to have a very open mind on the matter. In fact, I think it is true to say that he indicated to the deputation that there were, in his judgement, quite a number of matters which required examination and, while he was not prepared to say there and then that he considered our suggestion one which he would be prepared to put into operation, he at least gave us to understand that the suggestion was not going to be summarily dismissed.

Senator O'Dwyer and I, on coming into this House on the nomination of the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society, and knowing full well what is in the minds of the people who are in the co-operative movement with regard to the future of agriculture, felt there was a responsibility on us to bring this idea before this House in the hope that an examination of the agricultural position by the members of this House would bear fruit. I should like to say that already we have the satisfaction of being able to bring together the farmer members of the Seanad, and the putting down of this motion has at least been responsible for action being taken which in its way emphasises the vocational character of this House, as we have been able already, following the putting down of this motion on the Order Paper, to get together those Senators who came in on the Fianna Fáil panel of agriculture, as well as those who came in on the Fine Gael panel. I say with considerable pleasure that when we sat around a table we found so many points of agreement that the points of disagreement did not appear at all. Here, I should like to express the hope that, whether or not those of us who were on the last occasion elected on the agricultural panel will again find a seat in the new House, there may be some left who will carry on the work of which we have attempted to lay the foundations.

In the first place, what I feel I have got to do is to convince the House that there is a case for setting up a commission to inquire into the condition of the agricultural industry and determine what can be done for its future. If the facts are of such a nature as to convince Senators here that the cause of the progress and development of agriculture can be served by the setting up of such a commission as this, then I feel that the House will agree with me that this should be done. If I were asked what I would like to do, to help the agricultural industry, I feel the first thing I would like to say would be that, definitely and as early as possible, we must relieve agriculture from the domination of the urban mind. There has been so much talk in this country in the last few years about an industrial policy that I fear that, not only those who live in the towns and cities have become completely obsessed with that mentality, but even the farmers themselves and the farmers' sons, have had their thoughts and minds turned away from the farm, and the homestead of the farm, to our towns and cities, aye, away even to cities and towns in another country. I think that until we are able to change that outlook and, if one might say so, have a new philosophy of life altogether accepted here, it is difficult to hope very much for improvement in the position of agriculture as a whole. I for one feel—and I think I am not alone in feeling this—that the position of agriculture to-day is extremely grave and that unless we face up to that situation, and face up to it very seriously, with a realisation of the fact that there are very difficult problems to be tackled, the future for the agricultural industry of this country is not bright. I suggest that it is time now, after 16 years of self-government, to take stock of the position, to examine to what extent the potentialities of land utilisation have been developed, and what methods must be adopted if these possibilities are to be exploited. A superficial examination of the situation does not afford any grounds for complacency. Production in our agriculture is, and has been for many years, more or less static. It is within the knowledge of all of us that for the last few years now, since the great depression began, the economic position of the farming population has seriously deteriorated.

I take the last point first, and I want to say at this stage that I am going to dwell on that aspect of the situation for as short a time as possible, but it is a very vital factor in the situation and we cannot consider the whole position without examining the consequences of the past few years to some extent. Since 1930 or 1931, the prices of farming commodities have, on the average, been about the pre-war level, while the cost of the materials of production have seriously increased. Agricultural wages have increased; machinery has doubled in price; rates are continually increasing, and the increase threatens to balance the relief that the farmer has got by the remission of 50 per cent. of his annuities, so that there is no doubt that the net returns from agriculture, on the whole, are considerably less than they were in 1931. On the other hand, the farmer as a consumer, just as other consumers, is affected by the increased cost of the things he has to buy for his household and his family. We have, therefore, an income less than pre-war with an increase in the cost of living of about 70 per cent.

The conclusions which we ought to draw from that are obvious. We see evidences every day around us that agriculture is not a profitable occupation. The farmer has had to draw upon his reserves for a number of years, where he had reserves; and where there were no reserves he had to go into debt to try to get other people's reserves, if he had the credit to get them, and if he had not the credit he had just to pile up debts, or so reduce his standard of living that one would not like to make comparisons to-day between the standards of living of people in rural Ireland and the standards of living of people in other parts of the country. The net result is that everywhere, from every district in the country, from the hills of Mayo, Kerry, Clare, Donegal and Cavan, just as from the better lands of Meath, Westmeath, Kildare or Kilkenny, the young people are leaving the land, either going into our own towns or going out of the country. Perhaps in ways one cannot blame them. There will, of course, be always the necessity for the surplus children of the farms to seek occupations elsewhere, but the gravity of the present situation is the unwillingness of our young people to take up the responsibilities of family life based upon farming. In sheltered occupations, in industry, in the Civil Service and in the professions, the increased cost of living has been met by higher wages, higher salaries and higher incomes generally. The farmer is not in the position of being able to pass on the increased costs of his household, the cost of the necessary commodities for his house, the increased cost of the plant on his farm, to anyone else. I think, from that point of view, it is unnecessary to emphasise the disadvantages with which the farmer has to contend to-day as against those other sections of the community.

That is within the recent past, but if we look farther back we cannot help being perturbed and impressed by the failure of agriculture to reach its full possibilities. One has only to compare the extraordinary developments in agricultural production in other countries, such as New Zealand and Denmark, to realise this. As far as one can ascertain, there has been no substantial increase in production in this country in the same period. I suggest that it is time that we should set out to examine why production has not increased in the more favourable period prior to 1929, and to endeavour to provide a long-distance programme of agricultural development which in the first place will restore confidence to agriculture as an industry to which our young people may entrust their future; and, in the second place, to see what methods of reconstruction and new technique in farming may be brought to bear upon the problem so as to render more favourable the conditions on our farms. Now, for this reason I suggest that we ought to endeavour to set up this commission. If you look at the position in this country and make a comparison with the conditions in the year 1901, you will be amazed to see how slow and how trifling has been the progress and the development in agriculture since 1901. By taking that year, one cannot be charged, I think, with dealing with the period of the economic war—it gives some indication of how little we have accomplished.

Since 1901 the number of cows, heifers and calves has increased by 12 per cent., but the total number of cattle is practically the same as in 1901. In fact, we have slightly fewer cattle to-day than in 1901. The number of sheep has diminished from 3,981,000 in 1901, to approximately 3,000,000 to-day. The number of pigs was practically the same in 1936 as in 1901. Poultry have subsequently increased from 1901, but the figure in 1936 was only about 5 per cent. greater than in 1911.

Might I interrupt the Senator? How does he manage to segregate the figures with regard to Northern Ireland and Eire?

There is no difficulty about that; they are always given for counties. Here is a very arresting fact. The area under cultivated crops in 1901 was 1,750,000 acres and in 1937 1,620,000 acres. Those figures show that production has remained stationary over a period of 37 years and no one would hold that the agricultural output represents anything like our full possibilities. To emphasise that fact, I should like to quote figures from two other countries where conditions are extremely different, one relying on cultivated crops almost entirely and the other relying almost entirely on its output of grass. The first country I shall take is Denmark. I have the figures here of the butter output of Denmark in 1901 and 1937. Exports in the first year of that period from Denmark were about 76,044 metric tons and in 1937 the exports of Denmark were 152,900 metric tons, that is an increase from 76,000 to 152,000 metric tons. Bacon and hams increased from 76,000 tons in 1901 to 180,000 tons in 1937; eggs from 3,500 great hundreds in 1901 to 13,400 great hundreds in 1937. I should point out that Denmark relies mainly on tillage and on small farms. We have there an indication of what they have done by their tillage policy. New Zealand, on the contrary, has quite a different type of agricultural production. Commencing with the year 1920 or 1921, the butter exports which in that year amounted to 33,000 tons, increased to 164,000 tons in 1934. Their cheese exports increased from 68,000 tons to 106,000 tons in 1934. The agricultural industry is carried on in this country under conditions which might be said to be a blend of the conditions in both these countries.

What have we accomplished in these 37 years? We are just where we were 37 years ago. In fact our total crops in 1937 were even less than in 1936. We had 1,590,000 acres in that year. When you are faced with a situation like that, you have to ask: "What is wrong with our agriculture that, over that period of time, it has failed to take advantage of its opportunities?" It must be conceded, when one examines the whole picture, that even the land reforms, on which so much hope was based, have not succeeded in increasing production. There must be some underlying cause of this. There may be many causes, and I think the range of the inquiry which I propose should accordingly cover a very wide field. I merely mention a few, such as the effect on agricultural output of the incidence of taxation, both local and national, the whole question of agricultural education and research, the possibility of developing new methods of agricultural technique especially adapted to our climatic conditions; the question of the extent to which food for man and animals previously imported should be produced from our own soil, and the distribution of the extra cost amongst the various sections of the community—in all that, I think there is a wide field for investigation and for education.

In examining agricultural problems there is a great need, and there is a great lack, of exact knowledge. Unfortunately, costings in agriculture were discontinued many years ago. We have some very curious anomalies to-day such, for instance, as the fixing of agricultural wages without any adequate data at all as to whether agriculture can support these wages, or whether the farmer himself receives them. The second is, in my judgment, an equally grave problem and that is the sub-division and redistribution of land. Have we any information which is adequate to show whether the sub-division of some of our best land into extremely small holdings of 20 acres is desirable from the point of view of maintaining in reasonable comfort the recipients of these holdings, or whether such sub-division is in the interests of increased production at all?

I would like for a moment or two to consider, say, the question of agricultural education. When I say a word on that I do not want to be thought of talking about the programme in the national schools: whether there is a bent being given to agriculture in the primary schools. I am thinking about the type of agricultural education which, in the first place, would serve to give the grown-ups in agriculture a prejudice in favour of the land—a pride in the possession of the land with a knowledge of the value that can be got out of the land which is essential if you are going to raise a decent, self-respecting, intelligent race on the land, and which will enable our people to understand that, in the land, they have the possession of something which, if properly used, can also be very profitably used. I am thinking, too, whether or not we could not get from a scheme of education for rural Ireland something in the nature of a cultural bent that would make our country and our rural life more attractive than it is to-day—that would enable our young people to develop in their own localities amusements and pleasures and a form of cultural enjoyment that, to-day, they are all too fond of seeking in the towns and frequently do not find.

Now, if you take the position with regard to what is another very vital question in relation to our agriculture, namely, agricultural credit, you have to make up your minds that the position in the country to-day is there again alarmingly serious. There is not any use in going down to the people in the country, either on the part of those who want to educate them as to increased productivity, better methods of using their land or anything else like that—there is not any use in talking to men and advising them to buy new and better machinery, to use their grass lands better or do their tillage better, to put on more stock or anything like that, if the credit position of those farmers is such that they are prevented from doing any one of any of the things requisite for better production. I suggest that in this respect to-day the position is dreadfully serious. I have not any doubt about it. There are probably 20,000 farmers in this country to-day who are desperately in need of credit: in fact, so badly in need of credit that their lands to-day are practically idle. And if you take 20,000 applicants for credit, all of whom have been refused and cannot find credit anywhere, either in the banks or in other institutions, and if you multiply that number by 30 or 40—I suggest that on the average they have 40 acres each—you get 800,000 acres of land in this country that are either not being worked at all, or are being so inefficiently worked that the productivity is not able to give the people who live on a farm anything like a meagre subsistence, much less pay the many charges which the land itself has to carry.

Would the Senator tell us where he got that figure of 20,000?

I have made the statement and I have some information which enables me to suggest that the figure to-day would, approximately, be 20,000. It might be much greater than 20,000.

It would be very helpful to Senators if Senator Baxter would tell the House on what that figure is based because so much depends on it.

If the Senator would ask Senator Quirke what the latter's experience has been in one institution with regard to the numbers of people who have been seeking credit from the Agricultural Credit Corporation, I think he would find that the figure I have given is approximately correct. I am quite satisfied that the figure I have given does not exaggerate the seriousness of the position. My desire in this is to be rather conservative. I do not think there is anything to be gained by exaggeration, and I hope the House will agree with me that I am not trying to exaggerate the seriousness of the position. I am trying to confine myself to what are the facts, and if there are facts which may not be disclosed to the House, and the Senator wants to get them, perhaps some other way may be found of getting for him the information which he is so anxious to have.

I suggest that what I have put before the House is true with regard to the position of the credit requisite for our farmers. I have hardly any doubt but that there are 1,000,000 acres of land in this country to-day producing not, probably, more than one-tenth of what all that land is capable of producing, and all because it is starved of credits which only Government policy could provide. While that is so the Exchequer is suffering the loss of the receipts, which are not coming in, in the form of unpaid annuities, while local taxation and local rates are higher, because men not able to pay their annuities are responsible for having grants stopped from our local bodies. People, such as the Senator, who have contact with local administration, know how true that is. That is going on, and it is a further drain on those people who to-day are trying to carry their own burdens and have also been forced to carry a share of other people's burdens. All that is exhausting the resources of those who have hardly enough left to-day of their available capital to do all the work that requires to be done on their own land.

My view is that this question of credits is the first one the Government must deal with if the land of this country is to be put working again. We have approximately 12,000,000 arable acres in the country, and this is something that we ought to remember: that of these 12,000,000 acres of land, 4,000,000 acres will provide for this country all the food which is necessary for the people who live in it, and for all the animals which they require for themselves. It will provide us with all the beet and wheat, and all the other grain to feed all the animals which we require for the purposes of meat or production for ourselves, and after all that we have 8,000,000 acres of land left. That is the biggest part of our total area. It is how we use that land and what we are going to take from it that will determine just how much our farmers are going to get from their land in the future, and how much they are going to have which will be exchanged for the commodities which this country cannot produce itself, and must be imported. It is the use that we are going to make of these 8,000,000 acres that is going to be of vital importance in the progress and development of this country's future.

When we think of tillage land, I would ask the Senators to remember that, because these 8,000,000 acres, as far as I can judge, will have to be kept in grass. I do not see that we can use these areas for producing either beet or wheat to sell to another country. We can produce from 4,000,000 acres all the beet and wheat that we want for ourselves, and all the grain that we want for ourselves and for our animals. Let us get that into our heads. We cannot consider this whole position if we do not realise this fact, which has been arrived at after scientific investigation—that that is the amount of land that we require to give us the proteins and albuminoids necessary to give us a ration for man and beast. The position, therefore, is that there are 8,000,000 acres left, and these 8,000,000 acres can only be used by us to grow grass.

Now grass, as I have said before, is not a bad thing. All the fault that I have to find with it is that we are not anything like as expert in the growth of grass, its use and development, as we might be. I am going to suggest that there are other members of the House who have more experience in that direction than I have, men who have carried out various experiments in the use and development of grass. What I am going to suggest is that with the proper use of our land, and particularly the proper use of those grass lands, we could increase our cattle stocks by 50 per cent. I have no doubt whatever that we would increase them by at least 25 per cent. A 25 per cent. increase in our cattle population would mean that we would have another million cattle, and, as I am sure any farmer would not like to take less than £10 for his beast, that would mean that our farmers would be in the possession of an additional £10,000,000, of £10,000,000 worth of stock. If our farmers had that additional £10,000,000 in their possession it would make a very great difference in the credit position of agriculture as a whole. But certain things are necessary if that situation is to be brought about. In the first place, I do not believe it can be brought about until we get all and sundry and particularly the Ministry and those behind the Ministry, to appreciate this fact, first, that no matter what you may say about industry we have no great assets in the shape of raw materials in this country: that many of the raw materials which we require for industry here will have to be imported, and that we have only a very limited number of people in this country to whom the products of industry can be sold. Our ability to compete with industry outside the country is very doubtful. Accordingly, the possibilities of industrial development here are limited to that extent. But, with regard to agriculture, not only have we the population here to feed, the equivalent of what will buy the products of industry, but we have great populations outside to whom we have been supplying a considerable quantity of food in the past and whom we hope to feed well in the future. We should realise that these people are able and willing to buy our food and will continue to buy from us even to a greater extent than in the past if we can supply the goods at the right price. From that point of view, I believe that an improved technique in agriculture is essential. Quite a number of our farmers have, by improved methods, done much better than their fathers; yet, taking the land of Ireland as a whole, there is very little improvement in what we are doing now and what was done 37 years ago. That is not sufficient to compete with countries like Denmark and New Zealand where much improved methods of agriculture, both in regard to tillage and the treatment of grasses, have been introduced. Accordingly, not merely must we have an improvement in our agricultural technique, not only must we have the crops which will enable us to utilise our land to the full but we must have such a productivity as many of us have not yet even dreamed of. I believe that the possibilities of this country's productivity have never been adequately surveyed.

We come, then, to the situation which confronts us in regard to population. Our population is falling. One might say that there are such evidences of decay around us that one wonders that we strove so hard to win liberty for the country when we seem to be prepared to let the nation die, having won that liberty. There is no doubt about that, and we may as well face up to the situation. Anybody who takes the trouble to examine the position in the rural districts, as I have done, will find that, in respect of about 20 per cent. of the families there, this is the last generation. Is not that an extraordinary statement to make? Yet, if you go into one townland after another, as I have done, you will find that, in regard to at least 20 per cent. of the homes, this is the last generation. That is true of Meath and Westmeath, as it is true of coastal areas of Kerry and Clare. That may amuse some people but you will notice that one of the most outstanding members of the Irish Hierarchy stated the other day that there are parishes in which there are only two or three marriages in the year. I was told yesterday of a parish in which there has not been a marriage in three years. These are the facts. No country in which the conditions are like those can live. Let us ask ourselves what the cause of this is. There is no doubt that conditions in agriculture have been such that no young girl is to-day prepared to go in and live the life which has to be lived on a farm in Ireland. That is why so many of the girls are going. Of course, when the girls go, we all know enough of rural life to realise that quite a number of the boys will go—because the girls have gone before them.

Perhaps, in a way, I am putting my case in a rather scattered fashion. The problems facing our country and facing the agricultural industry particularly, are so serious and demand such a deep examination that I am putting the things that strike me most forcibly in the order in which they strike me. We have had many pleas made that, with things as they are, we ought to make an attempt to pull together and get the best out of the present situation. I should like to see action taken along those lines, but I submit that if we are to get the best out of the present situation, there is no use in blinding ourselves to the facts. If the facts are not as I say, then my statements can be disproved, but I will not be satisfied until I hear from somebody who is able to contradict the statements I can put before him, based on experience. There are divergent views as to what our agricultural policy should be on the part of different people. I believe that if these people could be got to sit down and talk about their problems it would not be difficult to draw up what could be regarded as a common policy for agriculturists. We cannot, however, embark on such a policy without a careful examination of the whole position. We must inquire why there has been so little advance in agricultural productivity during the past 37 years. We cannot remedy that without knowing the cause, and we have to try to find the cause. If the Minister, on the advice of this House, set up such a commission of inquiry, I am convinced that he would have people of every political view coming before the commission and putting their case in a desire to assist. I believe he could look for the co-operation and assistance of every body of opinion in the country. I think he would have done something which would strike the imagination of the farmers and, if they are to be stirred up to do anything that is an improvement on what they have been doing in the last few years, it is necessary to strike their imagination. I believe the Minister would put himself and his Department in a position in which they would be above Party. He would be standing for a policy that would be really representative of all the people who have views on this industry.

If a group of men, examining carefully the points of view put forward, examining all the facts of the situation, determined what in their judgment was a sound line to follow, and the Minister put that policy into operation, he would have the backing of all the farmers in a way in which no Minister has yet got the backing of all the farmers. Such a step would bear fruit, and he would be doing that which he and others plead somebody else should be responsible for doing— he would be setting a headline for that united effort the country badly needs.

Apart altogether from the internal situation, apart from this deplorable drift from the fields to the towns, apart from the need for pumping more credit, more blood and more life into the agricultural industry, apart from the necessity of examining the position with regard to education and so forth, the position in Europe is so appallingly threatening that we cannot close our eyes to what may come to the world in the next year or two years. Other nations are storing up great instruments of war and destruction. We are not at the moment engaging in that activity, and I hope we shall not have to do so. There is, however, something just as essential in war as the gun to kill: that is, the food the people need to keep them alive. While it is true that quite a number of us are prepared to adjust our point of view, to some extent, with regard to a policy the Minister has been following as regards the growing of grain and so forth, the whole position is such that we ought to be girding our loins and considering what action we can take to put ourselves into a position of preparedness in fear of what may happen in Europe in the future. We ought to be ready to have every farm working to 100 per cent. productivity. I believe that we cannot hope to have healthy, virile race unless we can keep the people on the land. We will not be able to get the people to stay in an industry in which they are not paid for staying. They are leaving that industry because more money is obtainable elsewhere. A man said to me recently that people are prepared to give any kind of service, no matter how unpleasant, disagreeable or even loathsome, if they are paid sufficiently for giving the service. I believe you can get people to stay in the agricultural industry if they are as well paid for staying in it as for working in other industries. You can only increase the population of this country by increasing the population of the rural areas. You can do that by developing a policy for the agricultural industry which has not yet been given expression to in this country. At any rate, we ought to be prepared for the worst that may come upon us and upon nations outside if Europe travels on for another year or two on the course which she seems prepared to go at present. It is only right that we should be ready lest these days should come upon us. The best way for making ready would be to utilise our land to the full, know ing its value and getting out of it every pound's worth of production it is possible to get—having capital as you would have nitrogen, stored up, and the farmer, with his cash, machines and stock, all ready to go forward the moment the order is given. I hope that, however inadequately I have addressed myself to this question, and however unconvincing my arguments may be, the House will, at least, agree that there are considerations which justify them in saying that the Minister would be wise in setting up this commission of inquiry. If I could see any better way by which we could bring home to the farmers and to the people generally the present plight of agriculture, the slowness of the industry's development, and the necessity for changing our course, I should be prepared to accept it.

I believe we can get our farmers, who, even in the different counties, speak with different voices, to have a common voice. I believe there must be give and take, and there must be appreciation of the fact that the soil of the hill farmer in North Tipperary and the grain-grower in Wexford has to be handled in a particular way, just as the man in Meath and Westmeath can get a better income out of his grass than he will by any other use he may attempt to make of his land.

I think the great tragedy up to the present has been that even those of us who ought to know most knew so very little about the complex problems of agriculture as a whole, and perhaps it is true that a great many of the farmers themselves did not fully understand their own soil. I am greatly afraid that not so many of them, even yet, understand the full potentialities of their own soils. It is because I want to see our farmers understand that their own soil is better, understand the possibilities of a fuller development and understand as well the soils of their neighbours, so that we may all get a fuller life from our own land, that I believe the House ought to agree that the only way in which that can be achieved is to set up this commission of inquiry.

I second the motion. As the mover has dealt so ably with the situation, I do not think there remains much for me to say, except to mention that I can corroborate his arguments fully. Senator Baxter comes from the northern portion of the country and he has described the situation, as he sees it, in the northern counties. I come from the southern portion of the country, a portion which is supposed to be the richest in the country, and I feel it my duty to say that the situation of the agricultural community in these counties is exactly the same as that described by Senator Baxter. I am afraid that the exact plight of agriculture, especially in the southern counties, is not generally realised, but it should be remembered that the whole brunt of the economic war was borne by the agricultural community. The farmers, of late years, at any rate, depended on animal products for their existence and with the slump in prices in 1931, and the imposition of the penal tariffs, the sale of these products was prohibited. Anything that was disposed of at all had to be sold at sacrifice prices. During those years, when the farmers were in the position that they could not sell what they had to sell, they were obliged to pay the same overhead charges, with the exception of the reduced annuities. The natural result was that those with any capital lost it, those who could contract debts are heavily in debt, and those who have neither capital nor credit had to go down during the economic war. Now that the economic war has been won, it is well to take stock of the position to-day.

The position is that, for the last six years, the industrial possibilities of the country have been revealed as it was never hoped they would be revealed, and manufacturers who, in previous years were struggling, are now in a better position than they ever hoped to be in. Business has expanded and everyone engaged in non-agricultural pursuits is almost as well off as he was in pre-war days. On the other hand, the position of the farmer is that he has lost his capital during the years of the slump for want of a market, and he is no longer able to carry on farming operations or to work his land as he worked it hitherto. The result is that farmers are not able to give the employment which would otherwise be given, and that is a loss, not only to the farmer but to the community as a whole. The lack of the necessary credit facilities to maintain stock on the land is one of the greatest grievances amongst the agricultural community to-day. We all know how necessary credit is to any class of business, and more especially to farming. This want of proper credit facilities has always been evident, and it is more so to-day following the slump of recent years. There has been, as we all know, an improvement in agricultural prices during the past few years, and there is a good prospect before agriculture, but there is this drawback: the great majority of the farmers are unable to avail of any improvement in agricultural prices because, for want of credit, they are unable to hold stock to gain the advantages of a good market. The question of granting proper credit facilities to agriculture should be one of the principal things investigated by this commission.

As a corollary to this condition of affairs, the condition of the agricultural worker would also require investigation. As has been pointed out, there has been a movement from the land, not only amongst farmers but amongst workers, and it is no wonder, when we consider that for many generations the work of the agricultural worker was regarded as the lowest of all classes of work. The land for a number of years back was not able to pay a living wage to the worker, either farmer or labourer, and for many reasons employment on the land has been irregular, with the result that the married agricultural labourer finds it almost impossible to live. His children have not got the necessaries of life and the result is that at the first opportunity they try to leave the land and go into the towns. It is only natural that they should do so when we consider the situation with which they are faced. We must realise what a loss this is to the country and we must realise the danger lying before the country if the only hope of the agricultural labourer is to get away into the towns. We have put down this motion in the hope of drawing the attention of those in authority to the conditions we see existing. Coming from the country and living amongst the people, we realise the conditions more clearly than we can describe them. I want to impress on the House that the condition of the agricultural community to-day is a menace to the future development of the country. That condition can be improved at once if it is tackled in the proper manner. The problem of agriculture differs from all other problems in that it is different in almost every county, and no one man can decide on a general remedy for the Twenty-six Counties. It differs, as I say, in almost every county and district, and the step we suggest should be taken to deal with it is the setting up of a commission to take a complete survey of agriculture.

We ask that the motion be passed unanimously because we believe that it is absolutely necessary in the interest of the country that something should be done to put agriculture on its feet. We believe that the future of the country, as the mover pointed out, lies in the solution of the rural problem. The nation lives in the rural districts and we cannot have a great Ireland of the future if the country's agriculture is neglected and if the rural population have no hope but to fly to the towns. Senator Baxter has pointed out the different matters on which the commission would be usefully employed, and I have nothing more to add to what he has said except to ask that this matter be carefully considered. I repeat that we feel it absolutely necessary that something should be done. The main question is the question of credits for agriculture, but that is only one of the problems. There are many things that can be done but no one man can hope to deal with them all. It can be dealt with by the making of a general survey by such a commission as that suggested, and I ask the House to give very careful consideration to the proposal.

As a member of the agricultural panel, I want to dissociate myself from 99 per cent. of the statement made by the proposer. I do so, first of all, in the belief that if we were to agree to the suggestion contained in his proposal, we could justly be accused of—to use an Americanism— passing the buck. When we were elected as members of the Agricultural Panel, I thought we were sent here for the purpose of dealing with matters concerning agriculture. As Senator Baxter has said, we succeeded in having one meeting of the Agricultural Panel. There are 11 members in that panel and of these 11, so far as I know, six turned up. I do not think that was anything to shout about, but I do say that if we have any useful purpose to serve in this House, it is to meet and to discuss the agricultural situation in the country and to pass on our recommendations or suggestions to the Minister for Agriculture. I suggest that, instead of this motion in the name of Senators Baxter and O'Dwyer, we should have agreement on what I consider would be a more acceptable motion from the ordinary farmer's viewpoint. I suggest that all words after the word "opinion" be deleted and that the words "that Senators selected to the Agricultural Panel in the present Seanad should inquire into and report to the Minister for Agriculture as to the present position of agriculture and should make such recommendations as to them may seem proper as a result of such inquiry," be substituted therefor.

The Senator, of course, understands that he cannot move an amendment at this stage. With the consent of the House, however, it would be quite all right. I will hear the Senator further.

Does Senator Quirke refer to the members of the existing or to the shortly to be created Seanad?

Of the existing Seanad, because I believe we should do something for the last few weeks we have here. Many of us may not come back and that is the 1 per cent. of Senator Baxter's remarks with which I was in agreement. I believe it is really the sensible thing to do and I believe it is what is expected of us. If we do anything else, we will be open to very serious criticism by the people who sent us here. If we set up this commission, are we to take it that when this other postponed motion, in the names of Senators MacDermot and Tierney, comes along next week, we will set up another commission and that we will keep on setting up commissions for every single purpose when any particular section of the work of the country demands discussion? I say that it is our duty to keep together in panels here to work out our own problems and to submit our recommendations to the Ministers in charge of the various Departments. Surely we on the Agricultural Panel ought to be in as good a position to know the conditions and to deal with the agricultural problems of the country as anybody else. We have had a meeting, and I am not prepared to say with Senator Baxter that we were in thorough agreement. It was quite obvious from the minute we sat down that we could not be, but there are various things which have been discussed in detail since that time and, apparently, we are nearer agreement now than we were then. I do not propose to go into the various other statements made by Senator Baxter or to delay the House, but if I were to do that, I have, I think, statements here which would go to show that many of the figures and facts that we got from Senator Baxter were scarcely correct.

In connection with the question of credit, Senator Baxter said we had 20,000 farmers in need of credit. I do not disagree with him at all on that. We have probably more than that in need of credit; but I say that the 20,000 farmers referred to by Senator Baxter are men who have not been refused credit, but who have already got credit. Now, there are other people who have been refused credit. Why have they been refused? They have been refused, in my opinion, because they were not creditworthy —and that has not happened within the last year or two or five years, it has always gone on and, perhaps, always will go on. If Senator Baxter has some scheme whereby credit can be made available, we can discuss it at a meeting of the Agricultural Panel. Not alone will it be welcomed by the Minister in this country, but I believe that the end of it will be that the members of the Agricultural Panel will be taken on a world tour to solve a similar situation in every other country.

Senator Baxter said that he was on a deputation, I think, approaching the Minister on various occasions within the past four or five years and that the Minister had an open mind on the matter. The Minister may have an open mind on the matter still—maybe he has and maybe he has not—but I am looking at this thing from a different angle and I say that it would be a gross neglect of duty on our part to hand over this business to anybody else to see if they could reach a solution. It is our duty as members of the Agricultural Panel to get together and put our porpositions by way of report before the Minister, and I believe, in fact, I know—we have already discussed this subject three or four times with the Minister—that he would be delighted to get a report from us at any time.

As far as the other statements made by Senator Baxter are concerned —for instance, what he said about relieving agriculture from the domination of the urban mind—well, I do not think it is necessary to refute any such statement as that. In or about 75 per cent. of the people are regarded as belonging to the rural population and it is an extraordinary statement that 25 per cent. could dominate the other 75.

Fifty per cent.

Oh, no; I say 75 per cent. It is an extraordinary statement to say that the other 25 would be able to dominate the 75. Senator Baxter goes on to hold up Denmark as an example as to what we should do here. Senator O'Dwyer said, in seconding the motion, that a different situation existed in every county. Surely, then, a different situation exists in every country, and if Senator Baxter had to go into it he could have produced a picture of the Danes piling up their old cows in a heap and setting fire to them, but surely he would not advocate that to the Minister for Agriculture in his proposed commission. It is scarcely necessary to go into the question of population raised by Senator Baxter, but I feel like asking him how he arrived at his decision that this is the last generation for so many families? I think I know as much about the rural areas as most other people, and I would not like to be given the job of going through the country and coming to a decision whether such and such a family was in its last generation or not. You cannot depend on how people will get married, and I would not like Senator Baxter to go around telling people that their day was done, because one could never know what they would do.

Now we should get back to this proposition and have agreement on this amendment of mine, if you like to call it such. There is no use in setting up commissions. Very many of the people who have been on commissions, like myself, and I am sure Senator Baxter is one, know what the result so often is. I believe we can hope to get far better results by the system suggested in my amendment, and I believe we should do that. If there was any useful purpose to be served by them, we have also consultative councils on poultry, live stock, horse breeding, cereal production, and various other things, but I suggest that Senator Baxter will agree that people have been elected to certain panels here who can make very useful contributions on the various problems we have to deal with. I believe that in the future instead of having consultative councils the panels elected here in each case should act as consultative councils. I hope that the sensible people in this House will agree with me on this thing and that we will have unanimity on it. I did my best to meet Senator Baxter on this matter before the House sat, but I was not able to get in touch with him in time. I believe if I could put it to him that he would be in agreement with my proposition. I have discussed it with a few people, and I think there is a reasonable hope of having unanimity on it.

Before we go any further, I would like to hear what Senator Baxter has to say on that matter.

The question is before the House, and I think it ought to be debated.

Then you are persisting in having your motion discussed.

I suggest that the debate should go on.

Then I cannot take the amendment.

I do not want, Sir, to curtail debate, but if we could get agreement we could save time. There may be some people who have something else to do.

I suggest, Sir, that if this House has not time to discuss the position of agriculture, it has no time for anything.

I am not suggesting that this House has not time to discuss it. I am prepared to sit here for the next 24 hours, if necessary, but I want to suggest that it would be a good idea if we could get agreement on this matter.

Senator Baxter is anxious that the debate should go on.

I thought that Senator Quirke was moving this as an amendment. If the House was agreed, I would rather let the discussion go on on the matter.

I wish to say, Sir, that personally I do not know the members of the House on this Agricultural Panel, but I doubt if it would be sufficiently representative to carry out an inquiry of the nature that the motion requests, and I also doubt, unless the Government are going to take a special interest in it, that such a panel would have the necessary powers to carry out the inquiry. In order to get a proper inquiry the panel would want to call on representatives of the Government to give evidence, and there is a large mass of statistical information which could only be obtained through the Government. I know also at least one member of the House who sits for a university constituency and who is a special expert on agricultural questions. I do not think, therefore, that the amendment suggested by Senator Quirke would meet the requirements.

For the information of Senator Keane, I want to explain that Senator O'Dwyer and I went to the Minister for Agriculture and he told us that he would be more than willing to give every possible help he could give by way of statistics or by way of information available in the Department. Representatives of the Department of Agriculture would, I am sure, come to the meetings, and be glad to give us all the information they could.

I rise, Sir, to support Senator Baxter. While we got a lot of technical advice, I thought that he would put his motion on more tangible premises to be submitted to the Government. No country, Sir, no Government or no public body, can continue to spend money faster than the sources of wealth can supply that money. Agriculture is our chief source of wealth, and if the source of supply, as we in public bodies find, is curtailed or limited because of the admitted depression among the rural community, then rates and taxes ought to be reduced or public services curtailed or limited, or there ought to be some method of refunding to the sources of wealth to keep the sources of supply operating. Everybody must admit the appalling and catastrophic condition of agriculture to-day, and over a number of years. In a remarkable speech by the Prime Minister, given to an all-Ireland conference, at Jury's Hotel, in 1927, when agriculture was normally good, not in the condition it is in to-day, the Prime Minister said:

"That agriculture is our chief industry is admitted. That it represents two or three times the wealth of all other industries everyone knows. If agriculture is depressed, the whole standard of living of the nation is dragged down with it. If you find a remedy to rescue the farmer, you rescue, not the farmer alone, but the whole community. The evils we are suffering from are the results of human action; there is nothing of the hand of God in them. There is no reason why we should adopt a fatalist attitude— these things are not like the weather or the seasons over which we have no control. The farmers' interest is the nation's interest, the nation's interest is the farmers' interest."

These are verbatim, the words of the Prime Minister given to an all-Ireland conference of farmers in Jury's Hotel on 3rd February, 1927. I was in perfect agreement with every word he uttered then, and if they were appropriate to the situation as it existed then, I say that they are vital to the position as it exists to-day. In 1929, subject to correction, Sir, when the condition of agriculture was not inviting or was not economic, the then Government set up a commission, and I think Senator Baxter was one of those who sat on it, to inquire into the question of agriculture with a view to extracting therefrom suggestions which might be introduced for the purpose of remedial and helpful and constructive legislation for the agricultural people. I was selected by my council, the Limerick County Council, to give evidence on behalf of the rural community, demanding total derating as a means to relieve the depression for the purpose of stabilising the condition of agriculture. The commission, like a lot more, eventuated in nothing very much, but the Government at that time, knowing and realising the condition of the rural community, even in the face of an adverse report against derating by the commission that was set up, gave a grant of £750,000 to relieve the agricultural community and the then Opposition at the other side of the House pressed upon the Government of the day the inadequacy of the sum and they asked the then Government to supplement the amount by another £250,000 to relieve conditions as they then were. When the then Opposition became, as they are now, the Government of the country, they fulfilled their bond and gave £1,000,000 of a grant the year they came into office to relieve what was then admitted to be the appalling misery and hardship among the agricultural community, and to enable the farmers to carry on in even a normally happy way. The following year they took off £250,000 plus £155,000, and reduced the grants by something in the region of £558,000.

It has been argued by the Government and its Party that as the farmers have been relieved of half the annuities that is a great measure of relief, greater even than total derating. I was hoping that Deputy Baxter would have made either a demand for derating, even though it was argued during the recent election, or ask for a grant for the purpose of rehabilitating the agricultural community, because something must be done to relieve them. We on public bodies know the pressure we have to exercise to try to extract the rates for the maintenance of public services from a large percentage of the agricultural people. These are decent, honest people who, if they had the money, would pay, but they are unable to do so because of the condition of agriculture.

I submit that if we do not get derating some such measure must be the alternative for the relief of the agricultural people if the industry is to be saved. I say so for two reasons. Firstly, halving the annuities for those who hold in fee simple means nothing. To certain of the Ashbourne annuitants it means a mere trifle. To those who purchased under the 1903 Act it means that for 30 years they pay the whole annuities and they get relief for half the redemption period, which would be about 38 years, whereas the rates are even going beyond the power or capacity of local bodies to control. I was looking at the loans fund for my council the other day, because we must raise loans to meet the demands for the public services which are statutory upon us. In my county at present, the loans stand at the appalling figure of very nearly. £1,000,000. The rates are continually increasing and have gone beyond the capacity of the rural ratepayer to pay. I say that there is definitely here a case to be met, and unless a man is dominated by fanatical Party spirit he must admit that there is a wail going up from the whole of the agricultural community.

It is 11 years ago since the Prime Minister realised that the position of agriculture was such that something must be done to rehabilitate the people. If it was bad in 1927, when conditions for agriculturists were normally good, what way is it to-day, when it is admitted that there is a wail going up all over the land like the lamentations of Jeremiah about the appalling and catastrophic condition of the agricultural community? We on public bodies know it. We try to administer local affairs and keep the social and other services as they should be.

I rather agreed with Senator Baxter's motion, but I was expecting that he would put his motion on some more tangible premises and submit to the Minister some scheme, such as a grant of, say, some millions, to be given on long-term and easy loans at 3 per cent., so as to give the farmers—a very considerable percentage of whom are down and out—an opportunity to re-stock their land and to rehabilitate their position. It is statistically admitted that some 75,000 of the youth of the country have gone to another country to seek a living which seems to be denied them largely because of the condition of agriculture, which is and will, I hope, ever remain the basic industry, the pivot on which revolves the whole economic stability of the State. We all know that the condition of the farmer is desperate, and I heartily support Senator Baxter's demand that something ought to be done by this House to submit to the Minister for Agriculture some scheme whereby he will grapple with this serious problem and try to restore agriculture to the position in which every member of the Seanad would like to see it.

I am really not quite sure whether Senator Baxter's suggestion about this inquiry is the best way of arriving at a quick and adequate improvement in agriculture. Senator Quirke's counter-proposal, I think, would lead to nothing whatever. So far as Senator Baxter's proposal goes, I should like him to elaborate at the end how he proposes to get this inquiry through in a reasonable time. When I say that, you must all remember the horse-breeding commission which lasted some two years and about which, so far, nothing whatever has been done. There is no doubt that very definitely, after what you might call this period of trench warfare we have had, something must be done to increase our productivity and agricultural wealth. No country and no business can stand still; it must either go forward or it must go back. We will go sliding further back unless some very serious measures are taken.

These things are particularly impressed upon you when you live down in the West like I do. I have always tried to impress on this House since I have been here that, as a whole, the average legislator in this country takes a view of everything from an area somewhere about 100 miles around Dublin. Where you have, say, in County Louth, rateable values of 22/- and in Meath of 18/- and 16/-, he forgets that in the West we have rateable values of 5/- in Kerry and 3/- in Clare. I quote these figures because the average rateable value of land is a very fair indication of its productivity and, consequently, of the standard of living of the people living on that land. In our particular county, our land requires continuous tilling, we have a terrific rainfall, we are miles away from markets, and we have no fresh milk market at all. The result is that the products of the land amount in the year to a very small sum indeed compared with elsewhere.

It is my feeling that this commission should not deal, as Senator Baxter suggests, with agriculture, as a general question, but really more by districts, and in a more exhaustive manner with the standard of living of the various parts of the country to get them more or less on a par, instead of being as divergent as they are at present. Over and above this question of the markets, we find our prices of feeding stuffs, manures and various kinds of machinery are either the same or much higher than they are for those on the richer lands and the higher rateable valuations near the towns. The cost of living is the same, or possibly more. We must remember that, out of a smaller productivity, the farmer in these places has to pay for boots and clothes exactly the same price as those on the richer lands. All this is an argument for a very careful wording of the terms of reference of the commission of inquiry so as to develop the country, not generally, but by districts.

There is another point which is of the greatest importance and which I want to mention because it again brings home the fact that general legislation is an undesirable thing and that you must go into detail very carefully, and that is the recent award of the Agricultural Wages Board which makes the district around Dublin into one area and takes the whole of the remainder of Eire, regardless of its rateable value, and imposes a definite minimum wage. I suppose the Labour Party will say that the minimum wage is laid down so as to enable the labourer and his family to live. There is a great deal to be said for that; to some extent I am sufficient of a socialist to agree. But, in actual practice, it will mean that there will be a gradual increase of unemployment, a further use of what you might call child labour—small children on the farm taking donkeys with churns to the creamery and so on, and further emigration from this country. That is why I say the terms of reference of this commission of inquiry should take this by districts and not as a whole.

One last point. The fact that an inquiry is needed has already been stressed by Senator Baxter by his mentioning the decrease in the number of marriages. In my own county, what is more important is that in several farms in my neighbourhood the young men who normally would take over the farms from their fathers refuse to do so and have gone to England, together with their brothers, rather than undertake the responsibility of the farms under the present conditions of agriculture in the West. That is the most striking thing that has come my way in recent times. The farm is being filled, I admit, by the remaining girl bringing in some younger son with, possibly, not the fortune he ought to bring in to the farm. The result is that the farms must go down. They have to hire labour and they start under every disadvantage. I think, therefore, that it is important that there should be some form of inquiry and a very quick one into this question of agriculture; that Senator Baxter should now, or at some other time, review the original form of words which he put down; and that an inquiry which will allow quickly every kind of detail and data to be put before a really competent chairman should be instituted as soon as possible.

I am in the peculiar position that I am neither opposed to the motion nor in favour of it. When it was first tabled I pointed that out to Senator Baxter. What I feel about this is that if I were the Minister for Agriculture, I would jump at this and say: "Very well, I will put up a commission of inquiry."

You have sense.

The result would be that, as Minister for Agriculture, I would have no trouble for the next year or so. The committee would be sitting and hearing evidence from people all over the country and, at the end of the period, probably a year or so, it would take another two or three months to make up its report. Eventually it would reach the Minister, and then another two or three months would probably elapse before we hear anything more about it. During that period, if anybody mentions the condition of agriculture they will be told that there is a commission of inquiry sitting and that nothing can be done until its deliberations have concluded. That is my objection to the setting up of a commission.

I agree with Senator Madden that whatever is to be done has got to be done immediately, but I suggest that some method other than a commission should be devised to find out what exactly should be done. I agree with Senator Quirke that the Agricultural Panel provides us with a means of doing something and we ought to be prepared to make more use of it. I have not been elected as a member of the Agricultural Panel but I attended their meetings and I certainly saw that there was a large measure of agreement on all the matters discussed there. I believe that is capable of doing extremely good work for agriculture.

With regard to the point raised by Senator Keane, there is no reason why the agricultural panel which consists of 11 people, all getting their living out of agriculture, should not invite other people who are also connected with agriculture to work and act with that panel. They have already brought me into it and there is no reason why they should not also invite the assistance of experts such as Senator Johnston with whom I had the privilege of working on an agricultural commission in former years. There is no reason either why they should not have the advice of Senators like Senator Keane. We should then be able to get the Minister to do things much more quickly than if a commission were set up, which would occupy months in hearing evidence and which might not, perhaps, achieve such a wonderful lot after all.

There are many things wrong with agriculture to-day. It has been truly said by Senator Baxter that there is a flight from the land. I think that that is generally admitted. Why is it that there is a flight from the land? The people are probably flying from long hours, poor wages and unsatisfactory conditions of employment. The real crux in agriculture, and the solution we want to get, is to provide the man on the land with at least as decent a standard of living as he can get in other occupations. We want to get for the farmer, not only the cost of production but also a decent margin of profit for himself. Instead of commissions or inquiries, we require more organisations, like the Beet Growers' Association, the Milk Producers' Association and the Dairy Shorthorn Breeders' Association. These organisations should be built up on strictly non-Party lines. The members should not allow their organisations to be made the cockpit of any political Party. Our whole aim should be to get an economic wage for the people engaged in the industry. We are up against a problem there. When a farmer goes into the market and demands a price for his commodities, commensurate with the cost of production and a sufficient margin to enable him to maintain his family on the same standards as the families of people engaged in other occupations or professions, he is met by howls in the Press saying that the cost of living must be kept down. You have people who are enjoying a bonus to meet the cost of living going out and stating that the cost of living must not be allowed to increase.

That is one of the big things you have got to recognise, that agriculture must be put on the same footing as any other industry. If that is done, you will find that people will live and work on the land, that they will be quite content to remain on the land if they get the same conditions as the workers in the towns enjoy. How can that be done? Only, I suggest, by keeping agriculture free from all political entanglements. The members of every other profession keep clear of political turmoil and I suggest that it is about time that those who live on agriculture should do the same. That is why I have very strong hopes of the Agricultural Panel, comprised as it is of people living on the land and who are dependent on the land for their livelihood. With the help of other people who are experts in agricultural problems, I think we can devise some means of improving conditions in agriculture and when we go before the Minister, he would probably adopt our recommendations. He would be in a very strong position because he would have the support of two leading parties in the State in doing so. That is why I should be very anxious to support Senator Quirke's suggestion that the Agricultural Panel should be utilised provided other people who are also interested in agriculture could be added to that panel.

There is another very big problem connected with agriculture. Mention has been made of a flight from the land, but there is also a flight from the want of land. According to the figures which Senator Baxter gave, there are roughly about 17,000,000 acres of arable land in this country. About 5,500,000 acres is mountainy land, and when we remember that about one-third of our population are living on these 5,500,000 acres, I think it will be realised that there is something wrong in this country. A very large percentage of these 5,500,000 acres of very bad land is situated in the area to which Senator The McGillycuddy refers, Kerry and Donegal. In my own county the total number of valuations of agricultural land is about 13,000, and of these 10,000 represent the valuations of people who are living on holdings the valuations of which are under £20 each. These people were driven to the hills long ago, and they have been there since. A couple of years ago an agricultural instructor went up to these hills to hold an agricultural class. That is in the part of the county known as Dwyer's country. While there, he had an average of at least 60 at his classes. When he came back to the good land by the seaside, the fat of the land, he had an average attendance of about 11. Up there in the hills there were plenty of young men who were willing to work land if they had it, but they had nowhere to go except into the cities and towns. They were trying to live amongst the rocks and make a living there, but down on the lowlands, which is supposed to be the area of prosperous agriculture, the young men did not think it worth their while to attend the classes. That is one of the big problems we have got to tackle. Our people must be placed on the land if they are willing and able to work.

I agree with Senator Baxter that 20 acres of land is not an economic holding. I think that a man should have at least 30 acres in order to make a living on it, but there is no doubt that we shall have to break up the large farms. That has been the policy of every Party in this country for generations. It was the policy of the Land League and the United Irish League before our own days. There are many big holdings that are quite uneconomic. Anybody who knows anything about farming knows that a man with 500 acres or upwards is not able to farm it economically nowadays, as costings are too high. That man cannot afford to employ men to utilise the land as it should be utilised. My experience is that when people have too much land of that kind a large amount of the land is going to waste. I quite agree with Senator Baxter that we want cattle in this country, but we have plenty of room to rear cattle without having these ranches.

What is a ranch?

A moment ago I said that 400 or 500 acres was too much for one man.

It might be 5 acres or it might be 500.

When you meet a man with a couple of thousand acres, with nobody to manage it except a herd and a dog, that man certainly is nothing but a rancher. Senator Madden has touched on the question of local rates. We all agree that rates are a heavy burden on farmers at the moment, but I think that matter could be more effectively inquired into by the agricultural panel or some such body than by a commission. I do not think that derating, having regard to the many low valuations in the country, would give the general farming community the amount of relief they are entitled to. There are many services at the moment that ought not to be maintained as local services, because they are really national services. It is quite unfair that the agricultural community should be called upon to pay for services that are of very little if of any benefit to them. In other words, they are paying for services which are enjoyed by the community in general. If we could get a better price for our produce, and if we could get the land divided amongst our people, you would not have hundreds of our young men going into the towns and cities. These are the two big problems we have facing us at the moment.

We have then got to consider the problem of the rate burden. The cost of such services as the maintenance of mental patients is preying very heavily on the rural population, and we should seek a more equitable distribution of these burdens. It is not because I am opposed to any inquiry that I am opposing Senator Baxter's motion. From the very first day I saw this motion I considered that a commission of inquiry would get us nowhere. Even if it were set up it would be at least a couple of years before its findings could be implemented. If the Agricultural Panel, either in this Seanad or in the succeeding Seanad, could be got together, there is no reason why it should not be able to hammer out some solution of our agricultural problems, and that is all we want.

I am in the position that I cannot agree with the motion; neither do I agree with the suggested amendment. I do not agree with the motion for the reason that if Senator Baxter knows anything about the country, he should know the sarcasm that is likely to be evoked by a demand to set up a commission to inquire into anything. Setting up a commission, in the opinion of many people, merely means that you want to shelve the matter, and surely Senator Baxter does not seriously suggest that a commission should be set up to deal with this matter? I do not agree with the amendment for the reason that it suggests for our consideration a matter in which it is the duty of Senators, whether they be elected on the Agricultural Panel or any other panel, to be interested. I think every member of the Seanad, in fact every citizen, is interested in the success of agriculture.

Therefore I would ask Senator Baxter and his seconder to withdraw this motion. We have had a discussion on it, and some Senators who have been anxious to express their views on this question have spoken. I think that as the life of this Seanad is now so short, that even Senator Quirke's suggestion that the agricultural group in the Seanad could discuss this matter would serve no useful purpose. Certainly I am opposed to the idea of setting up a commission, because neither the proposer nor the seconder of the motion has told us what the exact terms of reference of such a commission should be. I am sure, from the nature of Senator Baxter's speech, that if he himself constituted the commission he would have no difficulty in solving all the ills of the agricultural community. He was modest enough to say that he did not present his case very clearly, but at the same time one could gather from his remarks that he felt that he had a solution for all our agricultural problems. I do not want to go into the Senator's remarks in detail, but what I do suggest is that the proposer and seconder of the motion, having spoken and having had a discussion on it, should withdraw it.

With regard to Senator Baxter's speech, there is one thing that I object to, and that was his attempt to divide the citizens of this State into two classes—the domination of the rural population and the domination, as he described it, of the urban man or the urban mind. He made that differentiation, and that is a thing I object to. We are all citizens of this State; we have all got to make our living in it, and I think that such a differentiation should not be drawn at all. I am living in this city, and making my living here, but I was born in the country. It was brought home to all of us during the early part of this year, when we had a severe drought, how near we all are to the soil. The people in the city here, every one of them, realised what a difficult time the farmer was having during that period. Those who are not farmers at all—people with only a few window-boxes, living in the city and in our urban areas throughout the country—had, during that period, the fact brought home to them of how near we all are to the soil. I think it is very inopportune, therefore, to differentiate between the rural population and the urban population. We should be out for the good of both, and there should be no such thing as segregating the citizens of our common country.

I am certain that most of us here are quite interested in the success of agriculture, because we realise that if the urban population is to be prosperous agriculture must, in the first place, be successful. In the course of his remarks, Senator Baxter said that he was prepared to adjust his point of view. Well, I think that admission coming from the Senator is a step forward, because I am willing to believe that several members who have been— I do not like to use the word "prating"—speaking repeatedly about the farmers, have, at this time, changed their views.

There has been no change in that respect.

I put it to the Senator that the best thing for us as a community is to try to educate the farmers, to give them a pride in the possession that they hold rather than be trying all the time to convince them that they were recently in the front line trenches. Apparently, some people want to maintain that the mere fact of being a farmer means perpetual poverty. That affords some people the opportunity of trying to make capital out of their poverty. I would suggest a complete change of front—to try to get our people to realise what an important asset they have in the land. If you compare them with people in the cities, they have in the land an asset of permanent value. Even when the head of the home dies, the land is there and the position is quite different from that when the bread-winner in a city home dies.

I think we should try to educate people against leaving the land. The Senator spoke of the boys and girls flying from the land. We should do all in our power to try to induce them to stop at home, even if they get very little in the way of wages for the time being. It is far better that they should remain at home on the land than go away to the cities where they may be in receipt of wages for a short time, and then be faced with destitution afterwards. Our agricultural population should be encouraged to take a pride in the possession of the land.

Senator Byrne referred to the Minister for Agriculture. He said that if he were Minister he would be delighted at the passing of this motion. My comment on that is that I believe we have an honest Minister for Agriculture, and that he would feel bound not to act on the motion even if it were passed, for the reason that, to use an old phrase, it would be only passing the buck. It would mean shelving the whole matter by referring it to a commission, because, as we know, these commissions carry on for years, and ultimately, in most cases, are barren in producing any effective solution of the problems set before them. The life of this Seanad, as we know, will be a short one. I repeat the suggestion that I have made, that the motion be withdrawn, and let the new body deal with the matter in the manner suggested by Senator Quirke.

On behalf of the body that I represent I desire to say a few words on this motion. I speak on behalf of the cottier tenants. We certainly agree that the land is the main asset from which the vast majority of our people can hope to make a living. We all know that the land is not supporting as large a population to-day as it did in the old days. If properly utilised it is quite capable of doing so, but there is no need for me to go into the historical reasons which have led to the present position. In the old days the people were driven off the land which was turned into grass. All the members of the House are familiar with the history of the clearances in the County Meath and in other counties. It was these clearances that led to the huge exodus to the towns and that has been largely responsible for the creation of the slums and unemployment in Dublin and other Irish cities. We think that the cottier tenants and rural workers and their families are not getting the chance that they are entitled to to settle down and live on the land, the main reason for that being that the employment and wage offered them are not sufficient to maintain themselves and their families. Those for whom I speak believe that in the recent economic war they were as much in the front line as the farmers. Looking at the matter from any point of view you like, the cottier tenants, are of the opinion that they are not getting a fair crack of the whip. We certainly admit the Fianna Fáil Government led up very fairly by introducing a Purchase Bill. The principle underlying it is good, but in our opinion that measure did not go far enough. In connection with labourers' cottages the loan charges amount to almost £250,000 per annum. That sum has gone into the retained moneys. When the Purchase Bill was introduced we asked that we should get as good an opportunity to purchase our cottages as other classes in the community have got. In 1931 the farmers' annuities represented something like £4,250,000, in consequence of the reduction which has just taken place by the halving of the annuities that figure has now been brought down to £2,000,000 for annuities, and as the rates are £750,000 a year, the result is that the benefit of something like £500,000 a year was conferred on the tenant farmers. In connection with the loan charges on cottages we have only got a 25 per cent. reduction. The offer made to us was 3½d. per week relief or a 25 per cent. reduction. There is a heavy liability on the boards of health throughout the county for the repair of those cottages. It amounts to 6d. per cottage per week. We are prepared to accept that liability if we are given a 50 per cent. reduction. We do not think that a 25 per cent. reduction is sufficient. That would represent about £32,000, while the liability on the boards of health is £56,000, which would represent 6d. a week on each cottage. Twenty-five per cent. reduction would mean that the cottage tenants of the country, the poorest classes of the community, would be asked to shoulder a fresh burden of £24,000. I do not think that would be fair.

We think too that something should be done in the direction of helping to solve the unemployment problem. We have 80,000 unemployed in the country and the annual loss in respect of them is in or around £6,500,000. We think that the Government would be well advised to give their special attention to the solution of the question of the unemployed. The situation to-day is very serious, though less serious than in other countries. I agree with what Senator Quirke has said, that the members of the Agricultural Panel should be able to deal with this matter. They are men of practical experience. It is our intention if the motion is put to a division to vote against it.

We are all here to co-operate with the Government in power, whatever part we may individually have played in the election that preceded the accession to power of the present Government. In that respect every Senator is conscious of a common duty. The question, as I see it, before the House is how best we may perfect the machinery of co-operation between the Seanad and the Government. One idea which is supposed to be embodied in this House is vocational representation, and one idea associated with that representation is that expert minds, free from political or partisan bias, should give of their best in service by way of advice to the Government for the time being in power. Therefore, if we can in any way develop the vocational agricultural element that exists in this House, strengthen and develop it, it may form the nucleus of a permanent consultative council to give advice to the Minister for Agriculture. Along such lines we may be able to arrive at some commonly agreed solution. Meanwhile, I deprecate any attempt to curtail or restrict discussion of this motion. In my opinion, Senator Baxter's motion is as good a peg on which we can hang a discussion of these important matters as any other would be. In any case, it is part of the privilege of a democracy to have a full and free discussion preceding a decision. By all means, let us have that free and full discussion.

Now, I take it that if I can make a prima facie case that agriculture requires special expert advice, and that some special machinery should be created with a view to giving that advice continuously, I will have fulfilled all the purposes of this motion, and that it will be quite unnecessary for me to travel in detail over the whole subject of agriculture however much I might be tempted to do so. Agriculture at the present time is engaged in licking its wounds after the battle, and it is, I think, in order that I should attempt to analyse the extent and the seriousness of those wounds. The evidence from official statistics and other sources of agricultural decay in the last few years are, I think, quite incontrovertible. Whether we take it from the point of view of diminution in gross output or diminution in net output, there is no doubt whatever that our agricultural industry has passed through a most serious and difficult time.

We know from official sources that gross output is down by more than £20,000,000 per year from the very inadequate total it had reached some ten or 12 years ago. In terms of net output, the loss is not quite so serious. To express it in a way that will bring it home more clearly to those of us who are not agriculturists, I shall put it this way: my calculations, based on official statistics, show that the average remuneration of the 650,000 persons occupied in agriculture—farmers and labourers—in 1926-7 amounted in money, or money's worth, to £88 per annum. That is to say, the average remuneration of the 625,000 persons occupied in agriculture amounted to £88 per annum 12 years ago. Between 1932 and 1936, that average remuneration amounted, if my calculations are right, to not more than £60 per annum, the equivalent of an income tax— although most of that money went to waste and did not enrich the national revenue—of more than 25 per cent. on persons occupied in agricultural production. That is a serious economic loss to the interests concerned.

It is, I think, commonly agreed amongst experts that the primary object of our agriculture is the production of live stock and live-stock products. At all events, 86 per cent. of the gross output of our agriculture in 1926 and in 1929 was represented by live stock and live-stock products. The chief raw material for the production of such products is grass and we have to thank a bountiful Providence for providing us so liberally with so admirable a raw material for the production of live stock and live-stock products. In addition to the grass which nature provides and which we have done something, but not enough, to make effective use of we also need to feed our animals and birds in winter time. We feed them partly with the products of our own arable cultivation, whether produced on the farms on which they are used or on neighbouring farms, and partly with cereal products which we import. We may regard these cereal products as, in a real sense, the raw materials of the most important of our agricultural activities; in essentially the same way as raw cotton is the raw material of the cotton industry of Lancashire. Some time ago, I had the curiosity to work out in terms of cereal equivalent the import of maize and its products, plus the home production of roots for animal feeding, plus the home production of barley and oats—what they all amounted to in terms of cereal equivalent, expressing roots as cereal equivalent by dividing the weight of the produce by about 12. Expressed in that form, I found that, in 1927, we were using about 35,000,000 cwt. of cereal-equivalent raw materials in our animal husbandry, whereas, in 1926, that consumption of raw material had fallen to 24,000,000 cwts. That is, I think, important evidence of the decay of the chief aspect of our agricultural activity. All you can tell me with reference to the increase, meanwhile, in production of beet and in the by-products of wheat production will not convince me that the whole of that gap between 35,000,000 cwts. and 24,000,000 cwts. of cereal-equivalent has been bridged.

Another important aspect of live stock agriculture is the feeding of an adequate protein ration to animals, especially in the winter time, when grass is inadequate for their complete nourishment. Protein in the form of one or other of the oil seed cakes is one of the agricultural raw materials we simply must import. Therefore, the annual import of oil seed cake raw material is an admirable index of the extent to which we are using this necessary protein ingredient in our ration. In 1927, we imported 1,000,000 cwts. of oil seed cake and meal, and, in 1931, we imported 1,136,000 cwts. of oil seed cake and meal. In 1936, we imported 429,000 cwts. of that most necessary raw material. The importance of that is not only with reference to the weight and quality added to the animals which are fed that ration but also with reference to the fertility of the soil, which is preserved by properly feeding the live stock which graze on that soil. I should not be the least surprised to find that, owing to the inadequate feeding of our live stock for the last few years, the fertility of the soil, so far from being enriched, has steadily deteriorated. That is evidence of a serious development in our agricultural situation requiring the attention of some body specially qualified to investigate it. Grass is our greatest natural resource, and basic slag is one of the most important of grass manures. In 1927, we imported 28,000 tons of basic slag. In 1934, we imported none at all, and, in 1936, we imported 15,000 tons. I submit that that is evidence of neglect of one of our most important assets.

I hope I shall not be detaining the House too long if I briefly refer to one or two other aspects of this question. I should like, as far as possible, to avoid any partisan approach to it because, if any useful purpose is to be served, it will require the co-operation of persons on both sides of this House. I hope that nothing I shall say, or have said, will be regarded as in any way an attempt to make capital for any political party. After all, the election is now over and any capital I make now will be exhausted before the next election. One of the features of the regrettable economic strife of the last six years, which have been inadequately realised, is the extent to which the Government, by its policy, was able, so to speak, to temper the wind to the shorn lamb and to neutralise the effects of the economic war on such sections of the agricultural interest as, for its own reasons, it wished to protect from the full effect of that strife. One way of estimating that is to compare the yield of the British taxes on specific exports of ours with the amount spent by us, in the way of bounty or subsidy, to neutralise the effect of the British taxes on the prices of these particular commodities.

The most striking thing we see when we look into the matter in this way is that by far the most remunerative source of taxation to the British tax-collector was the tax on our cattle. In 1935 the British collected £2,500,000 on cattle which we sent out, and the amount of bounty paid on this side in respect of these cattle exports was only £297,000, so that we may truthfully say that the cattle industry was allowed to bear its full share, and more than its its share, of the brunt of that economic east wind. On the other hand, when we come to eggs and dairy produce, we find that, in 1934, the United Kingdom tax on eggs amounted to £300,000, while the bounty we paid on the export of eggs in that year was £487,000. In other words, we were paying more in bounty in respect of egg exports than the British collected in tax. The effect of that was that the burden of the economic war, so far as the egg producer was concerned, was completely lifted from his shoulders and transferred to those of the taxpayer and general consumer in this country.

The extreme instance of the lifting of the burden is, of course, the treatment of the dairy industry. In 1934-35 the British collected £444,000 from our dairy exports, and, in the corresponding year, we paid in bounty and subsidy something like £2,000,000, so that the dairy industry during this last six-year period was able to command a higher price for its products than it would have commanded if there had been no economic war and no bounty or subsidy. The important fact that emerges from that is that the economic war and the hand-to-mouth policy adopted from time to time in dealing with that war must have had a certain effect in distorting our agricultural economy from the form it would otherwise have occupied. Whether that distortion was intentional or not I do not know. At all events, it did distort it, and the fact of that distortion and the general tendency resulting from that distortion is one of the things which I should like some such expert body as this council to consider very carefully in the most impartial manner possible. Perhaps the chief argument in favour of the setting up of some such body is that in 1932, when the economic war broke out—it was in the summer month, July—all the large farmers were fully stocked with the kind of cattle they buy with a view to fattening and subsequent sale. Consequently, many of these large farmers must have individually lost thousands of pounds. They were caught full of stock at a time when stock suddenly depreciated in value.

In the year and month when the economic war suddenly came to an end —it was an early month, in Spring— owing to various reasons, it was not possible for large farmers to be fully stocked up. Consequently, they were caught short of stock at a time when stock was due for a sudden increase in value. The shock of the settlement of the economic war has, therefore, in a way, been nearly as disastrous to certain sections of the agricultural industry as the original shock of the outbreak of the war was, because those people who, if they are able to maximise production—it is our interest and the national interest that they should do so—will have to be in a position to increase to full capacity the stock they carry on their land, now find that that stock is going to cost them far more money than it would have cost them if the economic war had continued. That is the principal reason why liberal credit facilities should be made available for such farmers as find it impossible to stock their land, because the value of cattle has increased in consequence of the settlement.

There are other problems which cannot be suitably considered in an Assembly like this but which would be most appropriate for consideration by the kind of body I have in view. For example, as you all know, the British pay a subsidy varying from 2/6 to 7/6 per cwt. on fat cattle, with the proviso that the subsidy is less in the case of cattle imported from here and is nonexistent in the case of cattle which do not remain at least three months in that country—England. The effect of that subsidy on their fat cattle seems to me to make it possible for their fatteners and finishers of cattle to bid up the price of our young stock above a figure at which our fatteners and finishers of cattle can compete. In the result, our farmers, who would normally be fattening and finishing cattle, find themselves unable to buy the raw material for that purpose because the British subsidy raises the cost of the raw material above the level which would be profitable to them. Here, I speak subject to correction, and I would like this aspect of the matter to be examined by a competent body. If the matter is as I suspect it is, it is one which might well engage the attention of both Governments in friendly consultation and co-operation in accordance with the spirit of the recent agreement.

There are other problems which such a body might most usefully consider. Bearing in mind that grass is our principal national asset, the greatest problem before us, and indeed before other countries, is how to get the best value out of our grass, both summer and winter. The traditional method, of course, is to make hay of surplus grass, but we all know that hay is a very inadequate ration for cattle in the winter time. There have been other methods of getting the most out of the surplus summer grass which I should like to see fairly investigated under the supervision of some competent authority like that which I have in mind. For example, there is that well-known A.I.V. process of grass conservation in the form of silage which has had a certain success in Finland. It may or may not be suitable for conditions over here, but, in any event, I should like to see the matter thoroughly explored. Those who are interested would do well to consult Dr. Kennedy, of the I.A.O.S. He, I think, has made a special study of the problems which the A.I.V. method is an effort to solve.

There is another useful function which such a council or commission might fulfil. The Minister, with his expert advisers, might sometimes arrive at certain conclusions to which he would like to give practical effect, but he may feel unable to do so because he might antagonise important agricultural interests who would not fully understand the situation. If he had a body of expert agricultural advisers, drawn mainly from the ranks of first-class farmers, to consult, and if he enjoyed confidential relations with such a body, he could, after consultation with that body, give effect to administrative and other measures which would probably arouse the most intense opposition if he did not strengthen his hand in advance by some such consultation.

In general, my feeling is that we have had over a number of years policies of economic impoverishment, owing to various causes, and if I may speak for a moment—it is rather a lapse, I admit—as a partisan rather than as a purely non-partisan person, I would say that there were certain aspects of the policy which has triumphed at the recent election which did involve economic impoverishment; but I also say that you are not under any democratic obligation to give effect to a policy of economic impoverishment, even if you did win an election by such means. I would emphasise that the people will forgive any Government which, however it won an election, has the sense to abandon a policy of economic impoverishment in favour of a policy which promises to enrich and promote the welfare of the nation as a whole. In general, I hope we shall be able to co-operate with the Government in every possible way in trying to put the agricultural industry back on its feet.

As a town worker I have the audacity to oppose this motion, and I do so because I do not believe it would serve any useful purpose. After listening to the very interesting lectures we have had from the last speaker and from Senator Baxter, on agriculture, I have come to the conclusion that if there is anything concerning agriculture which a commission could discover which they have not already told us, there must be some supermen knocking about. I am a product of the land myself, although a working townsman at present, and I think the problems of the working farmers are as well known to me as to most people. I have taken my part in every phase of agricultural life, and the small farmer would naturally be my main concern, but after listening to the last speaker—and very interesting he was, although his speech sounded very like a lecture to me—I must be excused for regarding it somewhat in the way the ordinary farmer in the West of Ireland always regards such speeches from people who seek to instruct him as to how to live and to carry on—that is, to listen very courteously and to say: "Well, now, do you tell me so?" and then to go about his business and forget about it.

I am of the opinion that the setting up of this commission is not seriously intended at all, because the Senators who have spoken at great length struck me as being more anxious to make political points than for the farmers of the country. There were several things which Senator Baxter introduced which, to my mind, sounded rather peculiar. With my own experience I may be excused for not taking Senator Baxter too seriously when I understood him to advocate a grass policy in this country. He modified his previous statement somewhat here to-day, but he did refer to 8,000,000 acres of our land which should necessarily be kept on grass. I assume he was referring to our arable land, and I take it he referred to two-thirds of our arable land, that is, that 4,000,000 acres would be sufficient to supply all our requirements of food for man and beast, and that 8,000,000 should be reserved for grass. I was always of opinion that if there was a large amount of arable land, such as the 8,000,000 acres he mentioned, available, it would be much better if it were given to our people for the production of food for themselves. We should be much more concerned about increasing our human population and feeding them than about our cattle population. Those views of mine cannot be regarded as being the views of an expert, but they are, I believe, the views of the plain people from whom I sprang and with whom I come in contact, and I think that if Senators would endeavour to avoid making political capital out of the hardships of the farmers the country would make much better progress.

Senator Baxter stated that 20 per cent. of the families in some of the rural parts would be found to be the last generation. There are many reasons why that might be true to some extent. For instance, I am one of ten, and because of the policy of grass and the greed for land for grass, the remaining nine had to seek a living in all the countries of the world. The men of my age throughout the country are perhaps also from families of nine or ten, the remainder of whom are scattered all over the world, mainly because, with the policy of grass, there was no land for them to make a living on. It is quite true that the farmers are suffering severe hardships as a result of the economic war, and there may be other reasons, but now that some of the obstacles that have been in the way of agricultural development for some years past are cleared away, the agricultural community would make much better progress and would be more content if left alone, instead of every quack in the country recommending remedies for their wounds after the economic war.

I am opposing the motion because I do not think it serves any useful purpose, and I support the suggestion made by Senator Quirke. I think the Agricultural Panel in the Seanad could discover as much in connection with agriculture, with all the knowledge Senator Baxter and the last speaker have, and all the knowledge the remainder of the Agricultural Panel has about the condition of agriculture and the hardships of the farmers, as any commission could possibly discover.

Senator Sir John Keane said it would require some evidence which would not be available to the Agricultural Panel. I do not agree. I think that any evidence, statistics or otherwise, required by a group of people in earnest about the thing will be at their disposal. Therefore, I would appeal to the other Senators to agree with me that this motion should not be passed, but that they should get the Agricultural Panel of the Seanad to do the work for which they were elected and get down to the business of putting forward any suggestions that will help the agricultural community to get over their wounds. I do not want to speak in any antagonistic strain, or in any way that might lead any Senator to think that I was trying to make a political speech, because that is not my intention. We have had only two debates since this Seanad came into being, and I think I might say that most of the speeches were political speeches. If there are hardships, and if the members are serious about wanting to redress the hardships they have experienced amongst the agricultural community, they should forget the political aspect and discuss the whole problem as an agricultural panel and make any recommendations necessary. I am certain that every facility that a commission would have will be afforded to them.

I must say that I heard with astonishment the statement of the last speaker that this motion had been discussed in a partisan and political spirit. I think I have listened to all the speeches with great attention, and that remark of Senator Hughes strikes me as definitely unfair. There has been no tendency, so far as I could see, to make this motion a jumping-off ground for an attack on the Government, and even those who have spoken in the gloomiest strain about the condition of agriculture have refrained from making the point that it was the Government that was to blame for it. The only time that a Party word seems to have been uttered was one that Senator Johnston frankly referred to as a Party word at the very end of his extremely interesting speech.

If there is anything that I am yet more astonished at, it is that Senator Hughes, having listened to a man with first-class brains and with first-class knowledge, brushes his speech aside as a lecture and announces that he is going to adopt the same attitude as some poor uneducated peasant would adopt to a Government instructor. I venture to say that our duty in the Seanad is to do more than that, and when we have the opportunity of listening to men worth listening to we should take it, and read and study their speech when it is printed afterwards, to see whether we cannot make use of it for the benefit of the country that is dear to all of us.

I consider that Senator Baxter has done a public service by bringing forward his motion, although I do not agree exactly with the terms of it. I think the time is definitely ripe now for addressing our minds to the problems of agriculture. We have emerged from a period when it was impossible for agriculture to be discussed in an objective spirit. Now we can put Party aside and we can turn our minds to it in the sort of way that is likely to do some good.

If this Seanad had already become what the Constitution intended it to be and what I think the Taoiseach intended it to be and what, I hope, some day it will become, then the suggestions of Senator Quirke that the Agricultural Panel in the Seanad should form itself into a sort of advisory council to the Minister, would have my warm approval. I do not want to anticipate the motion that I am introducing next week with regard to the extension of vocational organisation, but I must say this much—that nobody can pretend that the ground-work has yet been laid for producing the kind of expert vocational Seanad that was intended by the Taoiseach and the Constitution, and it is, therefore, premature to suggest that the Agricultural Panel by itself is sufficient as a council to advise the Minister.

I agree with Senator Johnston that what is needed is less a commission than a permanent agricultural council. I wonder that people are not more impressed than they are by the tremendous burden that is at present put on the Minister for Agriculture, who incidentally, I believe, since he took office, has had added to his duties the care of Fisheries. If there are Parliamentary Secretaries required in any of the Departments, I should have thought that the Department of Agriculture was obviously one that should have the benefit of that assistance, especially after taking over Fisheries; and as a concrete suggestion I would urge—I see references to a redistribution of work in the Government—that the Minister for Agriculture should be supplied with an assistant (and personally I would think it a very good move if that assistant was a member of this Chamber) who would help him in the tremendous work he has to cope with. I think, also, that with the whole of our wealth and our future depending upon agriculture, it is extremely desirable that there should be a permanent council selected by the Minister himself from among the very best men in the country that he can think of, to advise him in matters of agricultural policy. As I say, the day may come when that council will be supplied automatically by this body and when the Agricultural Panel would be exactly what is wanted, but, pending that day, I think the Minister should set about forming that advisory council for himself out of the best men that he can find.

Now, Senator Baxter painted a picture of almost unrelieved gloom— indeed I think quite unrelieved gloom. There is certainly great ground for anxiety and great need for hard thinking and hard work, but I am not going to be quite as gloomy as Senator Baxter is. In the first place—perhaps it is rather a side issue—I do not take such a pessimistic view as he does about the likelihood of a European war. We will not go into that, but my own belief is that there will not be a European war. Apart from that, I think there are, after all, certain features of the situation that are definitely cheerful. One of those features is that the British market has not gone and shows no signs of going, but on the contrary, that the trend in England appears to be, with the greater spread of wealth amongst the population, towards an increased consumption of the very articles that we are in the best position to supply. Now, if that is true, it is something that is definitely cheerful. If we are looking for a second thing that is definitely cheerful, we have the fact that the economic war, the so-called economic war, has ended. Nobody can deny that there is ground for cheerfulness in that, and not only in the fact that the tariffs have gone, but also in the fact that with the end of that dispute, we are able, as I said a few moments ago, and we have the duty thrust upon us, to start taking a definitely objective view of these questions. During the last few years, people did not pay much attention to speeches on agriculture because they were imputed simply to Party motives and to a particular view of the economic war.

It was practically compulsory on the Opposition to take one sort of view of what promoted agricultural welfare and practically compulsory on the Government to take a different view. I think it would be deplorable to go on from sheer habit, muttering the shibboleths that have been forced on us during the past five years, shibboleths that ought not to apply to the new situation; and I have been sorry to see a certain tendency in Opposition circles still to label the Government as attached to those shibboleths and also a tendency on the part of the Government Party to accept those labels as corresponding to facts.

Now they do not correspond to facts. Take this label of self-sufficiency—I say that no Party in this country believes in self-sufficiency. I say that no country in the world any longer believes in self-sufficiency. Only a couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity in London of listening to a prominent German expert talking about the economics of Germany, and a large part of his lecture was devoted to what he described as "the ridiculous notion" that the rulers of Germany believed in economic self-sufficiency, or autorchy, as they call it. They believed in nothing of the kind; they were only doing something to cope with the difficulty of providing enough foreign exchange to buy the things they wanted and to cope with the dangers facing them in the event of war, but they fully accepted the view that economic self-sufficiency means more poverty and that economic self-sufficiency is really going back to the economics of the jungle—to what the Minister for Industry and Commerce used to refer to as "storm-proof economics". Storm-proof economics are a myth and an hallucination, a thing that cannot be got. Storm-proof economics really mean storm-bound economics. They may be forced on you through some cause such as war, but they are certainly not a thing that anybody is going to adopt from choice. The policy of this Government here in Ireland is not a policy of self-sufficiency. I have given a great deal of support, and I am not ashamed of it, to the policy of the Minister for Industry and Commerce in promoting new industries here, although, at moments, I have been perturbed at some of the language he has used, language which has occasionally suggested that industries should be established, no matter what the cost, as long as they could be established here. That outlook I believe to be unsound, but I do believe that a great effort was needed, not only for economic reasons but for other reasons, for the sake of the morale of the community, the happiness of the community, and for the sake of the diversification of our occupations. These efforts have been most gallantly and most successfully supplied by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, but it is not true, whatever may be said, that the Government policy is one of self-sufficiency. If it had been, there would have been no trade agreement with England; had it been self-sufficiency, the Minister for Finance, in making his Budget speech, instead of pointing to the size of our imports as I have often heard him do, as a proof of the prosperity of our people and their ability to consume these goods, would have been referring to these figures in tones of deepest melancholy. No country, and ours among the least, can be absolutely self-sufficient. We have not got a great many essential raw materials that would enable us to be self-sufficient.

When you come right down to facts, it is only a matter of degree how much we are going to produce and how much we are going to import. To label one Party as "pro-self-sufficiency" and the other Party "anti-self-sufficiency" is absolutely misleading and undesirable, and may have the effect of leading people into paths that otherwise they would not be led into, and distorting the economic thought of the country. I plead, then, for what now really ought to be possible for us, for objectivity, for getting rid of misleading labels, for getting rid of habits of speech that were adopted on both sides during the economic war and ought now to be obsolete. Nobody need be afraid of being reproached for inconsistency, because anyone who has never changed his mind has merely got no mind to change. Moreover, circumstances alter cases. Moreover, there will be few men in a position to throw stones on the subject of inconsistency; you can generally find that there is some glass about their own premises at which you can throw stones back. The idea, for example, of self-sufficiency was one that was embedded in Sinn Féin in the old days before ever the Treaty took place, and any illusions that have been cherished in late years by one Party were at one time cherished by all those who then constituted Sinn Féin. So it is only just a little bit earlier or a little bit later that people may have modified their views in this regard. Again, if the Government Party are inclined to feel at all nervous about being reproached with inconsistency they have but to recall that the Opposition, in spite of their declared policy of wishing to improve our overseas trade, actually voted against a trade agreement with England. So that really it would be absurd to allow one's thoughts to be diverted from considering the facts as they really are and taking action accordingly, by any fears of reproach of that kind. There are certain other shibboleths that I think ought to be discarded too.

On a point of order. Are we discussing labels and shibboleths or the setting-up of a commission? I feel, Sir, with all due deference to you, that some of Senator MacDermot's speech is a trifle irrelevant.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I rule that Deputy MacDermot is in order. You cannot confine yourself strictly to the point in every instance.

I take it, with great respect, that the object of this motion is to have a general discussion on the condition of agriculture, that it is in order to have such a discussion on this motion, and that such a discussion has in fact taken place.

That has nothing to do with the history of Sinn Féin to which Senator MacDermot is treating us. I think he should confine himself to matters relevant to agriculture.

I am not conscious of having devoted much time to the history of Sinn Fein and, if I did, I apologise.

I suggest that you know more about agriculture and that you should keep to agriculture.

I merely alluded to the history of the policy of self-sufficiency, which I think, so far as I stated it, I stated correctly——

I suggest that you come to the objectivity.

——having myself studied the works of Arthur Griffith on that subject. But everybody else has been discussing the present position of agriculture to-day.

Senator Hughes has just informed us that the family of Hughes were scattered to the four quarters of the earth by the fatal policy of grass. What is the policy of grass? I have taken the view and expressed it many times in the Dáil, that so far as the Government could adopt a principle with regard to the distribution of land in this country, the principle should be that the land gives the adequate amount of employment. I hold that view still. I think that is the best fundamental principle to adopt—that where land is giving its adequate quota of employment, the occupier should not be disturbed. But some Senators and Deputies seem to go on from that to suggesting that the grazier is a kind of parasite upon the body economic and the body politic. I think it is time that we gave up that idea. I suggest, and I think every farmer Senator must really agree with me, that graziers are a necessity in this country, that there has to be an intermediate place where the cattle of the small farmer can go and be fattened before they are actually exported to other countries. I think the grazier serves a useful and essential public purpose. Again, it is only a matter of degree how much of this country should be given up to grass land and how much should not. It has been stated that the graziers give no employment. I am quite certain that that is not always the case—it may be sometimes. I am also certain that if, as Senator Johnston urged, we paid more attention to getting the best out of our grass lands, graziers would give more employment; that far more attention might be paid than is paid to improving the quality and quantity of our grass. If people wish to ginger up graziers it should not be along the lines of accusing them of being public nuisances, suggesting that they ought not to exist, and should be hounded out of the country as if they were dope pedlars or persons engaged in the white slave traffic, but that it should be rather in the direction of spurring them on to be up-to-date and to adopt modern methods and improve their grass and give employment in the process.

There is only one other suggestion I have to make. Denmark has been mentioned in the course of the discussion. We have legations now in a great many countries. I do not say that any of them are not worth while, but I do say that some of them are mainly decorative; in fact, that outside the High Commissioner in Great Britain and the Minister to the United States you might say that practically all our legations abroad are more decorative than anything else. I wonder whether it would not be worth while to set up a legation in a country like Denmark—and I say a legation rather than a consulate, because I am thinking of the best kind of man who would require to be well paid and of the highest standing—so that we would have somebody permanently there to study Danish methods, because everybody admits that Danish methods are in advance of ours. Everybody admits that the Danes, with smaller natural resources than ours, have really thrown themselves into the question of making the very best of these resources. They have not been distracted by the sort of political questions that in this country we have necessarily been distracted by.

If we are going to get rid of the unemployment problem, or even if we are to keep it within reasonable limits, if we are going to improve the standard of living for our people, if we are going to be able to pay for all the things that we necessarily have to import in considerable quantities, it is essential that we should increase our exports. We have got to get rid of some part of this unfavourable trade balance that is now weighing upon us. We can only do it by increasing our exports. We can only increase our exports by increasing our agricultural productivity and bettering the quality of those exports. We can accomplish that, in the first place, by studying intensely the British market, by following all the changes of taste and the developments in the British market, watching them closely and adapting ourselves to them; and, in the second place, by studying the methods of our principal competitors, who are the Danes.

As I said at the beginning, I cannot altogether assent to the terms of the motion brought in by Senator Baxter, because, like some of the other speakers, I have a feeling that a commission sometimes means a pretty long postponement of the settlement of urgent problems; in any case, even if it did not mean that, that it might be regarded by the country as meaning that. On the other hand I feel that the Seanad has not yet reached the point, though it may some day, where those elected upon the Agricultural Panel can be taken as automatically acting as an adequate permanent council to assist the Minister for Agriculture. I, therefore, repeat my suggestions, that the Minister for Agriculture should supply himself with a Parliamentary Secretary to share the burden of his work, and that he should also supply himself with a permanent agricultural council, nominated by himself, of the very best men he can find in the country for the purpose.

Tar éis a bhfuil ráithe indiu, níl puinn agam le rá ach is docha go gcaithfidh mé rud éigin a rá. I, too, in common with some speakers who went before me, am against this motion. There are in it the germs no doubt of good, but "commissionitis" is a disease that we suffered so much from in the past that I do not want the dose repeated, nationally or otherwise. I am also at one with other speakers in objecting to some statements made from—I hesitate to say the opposite benches, but those who happen to be diametrically opposite to me from the point of view of position. We have heard the repetition of such epithets as "catastrophic" and "appalling" and, as Senator O'Donovan stated, I think we must look upon the matter in a sensible light, and not be always putting up the farmer as some poor distressed individual always scrounging. The position of the farmer to-day is no more catastrophic or appalling than it was at any time in the history of Irish farming. The Irish farmer, like every other farmer, has always suffered more or less from the exigencies of his position. Agriculture in any country in the world is the Cinderella of the sciences. I, for one, have not analysed the contented farmer, because I do not suppose such a thing could exist. I submit that such epithets as "catastrophic" and "appalling" are purely defeatist epithets, and contain within themselves the repudiation of the doctrines which they propose to exemplify.

I have no desire to cross swords with Senator Johnston. Senator Johnston is, no doubt, an expert in his particular line, and I have read several articles by him with very much pleasure. But when one thinks of the old adage—I say this in no depreciatory spirit—when one thinks of "liars, damn liars and experts," I have a whole-hearted suspicion of experts wherever I find them, whether in the Seanad or in other walks of life. Senator Johnston commented on the fact that when the economic war commenced the large farmers were faced with a situation in which they had cattle on their hands and the price of these cattle dropped and left some of the large farmers stranded—a very regrettable episode no doubt. He went on to say that there was a similar episode this year; that the large farmers found themselves with no cattle, that the price of cattle had risen, and that, consequently, they were in a bad position to pay. As a matter of fact, when the economic war, or as some of our friends opposite call it, the so-called economic war, ended this year the fact of the matter was that prices dropped. I have been at fairs in my county not so long ago and I found that prices dropped considerably since the termination of the economic war. I suggested jocularly to some farmers—and their sense of humour was not so dim that they could not agree—that we should have an agitation to restore the old grievance. I think that without grievances farmers cannot live very well. I suggest that we should apply wholeheartedly for the re-establishment of the economic war, because since its termination prices have not been anything so good. That is the solid and sane truth. I can say that from personal experience.

Senator MacDermot animadverted on what Senator Hughes stated, and said he had complained that politics were brought into this. If the speeches were not political in themselves, in their implications they were definitely political. The economic war was excoriated in every possible way. I need not harp on the implications there. All I would say is that the farmer's position should not be set out in defeatist terms, because it tends to reduce the farmer to that state of mind in which he thinks, like the character in "Mick McQuaid," that he is "in a very unfortunate position, very". Senator MacDermot in the course of his speech, on which I for one cannot compliment him, having heard him, as it is commonly phrased, in another place to much better advantage, especially when dealing with matters of diplomacy and foreign policy, floundered considerably to-day. He spoke about the so-called economic war and he remarked jubilantly that the British market was not gone. Was I right or wrong in discovering therein a decided political bias? He alluded to shibboleths and self-sufficiency and he pointed out that certain nations had dropped the policy of self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency may or may not be a policy which is totally admirable or totally evil, but it is not true to say that certain nations of the world dropped it. He referred to the German attitude on economic self-sufficiency as a complete change of policy but I notice that Signor Mussolini, for whom Senator MacDermot has such a wholehearted admiration, does not share his opinion of self-sufficiency at all. He seems to think that self-sufficiency is possible. I do not assert it is possible of attainment under all conditions, but the attitude of Signor Mussolini merely goes to show that there are nations who think, perhaps, that there is something in self-sufficiency. In any case, my first impulse after listening to most of the arguments I have heard expressed on agricultural economy here, is similar to that of Dickens' famous character, who was constantly exclaiming: "Who `deniges' of it, Betsy?"

We are told that the grazier is a necessity. Graziers undoubtedly have their uses, but can we forget the spectacle presented by Laurence Ginnell when he preached the policy of the hazel in Meath, of the rich grazier looking out of his window at his herds of cattle while living within a mile of him were hundreds of people condemned to starvation and want? If that picture of the grazier still persists, it must have some foundation. I believe there is no smoke without a fire.

We have been asked to consult our experts and to set up a commission to consider how best we can increase the output of agricultural produce. I think that that can safely be left to a very well-informed Department of Agriculture. In every county in Ireland there are young men, full of zeal and well versed in the most modern methods of dealing with these problems, appointed to attend to these matters. It is their duty and pleasure to minister to the needs of the agricultural population and to impart to the agricultural population, not merely the rudiments of agricultural science, but the latest developments in agricultural science. I think the Agricultural Department is fully alive to all the needs of our people in that regard.

Finally, I believe the setting up of a commission would result in nothing. It is merely putting the thing on the long finger. It is merely shelving things. I consider also that the tenure of this body, august though it be, is so short that it is hardly worth while to prejudge or prejudice the issue raised in this motion by voting on it at this late stage of our existence. I would propose, if I were in order, that consideration of this motion should be adjourned for six months. Failing that, I would be inclined to agree with Senator Quirke's suggestion that it should be the business of the Agricultural Panel to deal with this matter. Perhaps that panel could be added to afterwards, but certainly, as far as the motion is concerned, I think it is a useless suggestion. I think it is not merely useless but that in the manner in which it is brought forward and the terms in which it is recommended, there lies a certain undercurrent of politics. The speeches to-day reminded me of the old salute "Ave Cæsar! nos morituri te salutamus.” I think some Senators here were speaking with one eye on the manuscript and the other on the future electorate. Consequently I think the proposition, whilst it may have been well meant, is not merely futile, but provocative. It is useless and cannot be put into effect. I agree with Senator Quirke's suggestion that the proposal to set up this commission be not entertained and that the matter be dealt with in some other manner.

As a preface to my very brief remarks—I intend to be very brief—I should like to say that I am opposed to this motion, at least in its present form, because I think that if a commission or a committee is to be set up at all, it should be set up from amongst the members of this House. The members of the Agricultural Panel, and many other members of the House who are not members of the Agricultural Panel, have a competent knowledge of the needs and the necessities of the agricultural industry. I say that if the proposed committee or commission is not composed of members of this House, it is an admission here and now, that the members of the Agricultural Panel, and other members who think they are competent to judge the interests of the agricultural industry, are not competent to do so. It is an admission of their incompetence and that they are not fit and suitable to occupy the position for which they were elected to this House.

I say, therefore, that I am opposed to the motion in its present form, but if a commission were set up from among the members of this House I certainly would not offer any opposition to it. On my way to Dublin to attend this meeting—this is one of the reasons that I am in opposition to the motion—I was joined at Tipperary station by a gentleman whom I knew to be a practical, hard-working and successful farmer. I would like to emphasise the words "practical and hard-working." This motion happened to be published in the morning papers, and I read it out to this very industrious farmer. I asked him how, in his opinion, the Government could best help the agricultural industry and farmers at the present time, and his swift reply was: "By leaving them alone." That is also my opinion at present.

As a result of the conditions which existed for the last four or five years, the farmers now have very cheap land. There is labour available, and there are markets available—the highly developed home market and the foreign market. For the past four or five years we were told that if we could regain that foreign market all the ills of this country would be at an end. We have regained that market, and still we find, according to the mover of this motion, that the economic ills of our farmers are as bad, if not worse than ever before. That, I think, the farmers themselves do not believe, because a certain prosperity has existed for the last twelve months in anticipation of this settlement, a prosperity that we had not for ten years before. I can see no real necessity for this commission, but, as I have already stated, if there is to be one it ought to consist of members of this House.

Some of the speeches which we have heard were very contradictory. I do not intend to enter into them in any great detail. I think it was the mover of the motion who deplored emigration. We all deplore that, but it cannot be remedied. He also deplored the sub-division of the larger farms or the ranches. Well, you cannot have it both ways. We always had about 25,000 or 30,000 of our population emigrating annually. The only way that these people can be kept in the country is by developing the industries of the country, providing for them in those industries, and by sub-dividing the big ranches which maintain only a few people. Thousands of families are now being maintained on ranches that have been already divided. If you are to curb emigration, it can only be by means of the sub-division of those ranches and by the encouragement and development of those industries in which these young people can be absorbed.

I think the greatest menace to the well-being of the farmers is this habit of continually looking for support and help to the Government. People have got so much into the habit of looking to the Government for this, that and the other thing, and of having their requests so frequently acceded to, that they are like something propped up against a wall which will fall if the prop be removed. I think the best policy is to make our farmers self-reliant, now that they have every reasonable facility for making a livelihood on the land. They have the land, the labour and the markets, and if they devote their undivided attention to these acquirements, there is no reason on earth why they should not make a reasonable and comfortable living out of the land. Cheap loans have been referred to as an important consequence of this motion. In some cases, in wise and capable hands, cheap loans may improve production, but from my own experience I can say that some farmers seeking loans from the Agricultural Credit Corporation, the banks, or otherwise, are not men who are capable of handling money.

It usually happens when they get one of these loans, and when the first instalment for interest and sinking fund becomes due, that they are looking for somebody else to give them a loan to pay that off. They are not able to utilise the money, and I think it would be against their own interests to give it to them. If they are not able to repay it they are put out and somebody else is put in, so that in the case of the vast majority seeking loans it would really be against their own interest to give them to them. What should be done is to encourage them to work more consistently, and to make a better use of their farms without putting the millstone of a loan and the interest charges on it around their necks.

It is an extraordinary thing, so far as the members of the Dáil and the Seanad are concerned, that all their interest seems to be concentrated on the farmers. Everyone, of course, appreciates the importance of the farmers, but you must remember that you also have a very big community of urban and town dwellers, and rarely do you hear anybody speak of them. We have been hearing for a long time of the farmers who were in the front line trenches during the economic war. That may or may not be correct. They did suffer undoubtedly. Everybody highly appreciates the fight they made which was directed entirely in their interest. They stood up to it and made a gallant fight. They won it. But during that fight they were helped in many ways by the Government. Their annuities were halved. The Government provided bounties for the dairying industry, for the growing of beet and wheat, and in many other directions facilities were provided to tide the farmers over those evil days. But it has to be remembered that the money that went to pay the bounties was provided mainly by town dwellers and by the working classes. They had to pay a higher price for agricultural produce than they would in normal times. No help whatever was given to the town dwellers to enable them to do that. Their rents were not halved. As a matter of fact, their rates were increased. Taxation generally was increased, and in many other ways town dwellers had to bear more than their share of the brunt of the battle during the economic war. Very few seem to realise that. If the farmer, during that period, was in the front line trenches, nobody seemed to care a hang if the town dweller was in a sewer. Therefore, I do not think there is a case for any further pampering or bolstering up. The recent elections showed that the farmers are quite content with circumstances as they exist at the present time.

Was that an issue at the election?

It is always an issue at the elections in every part of the country. If there was not prosperity I dare say the farmers would tell the story accordingly, and the people in power would hear about it. I do not see any necessity for a commission such as has been suggested. As a rule, these commissions mean the assembly of a number of people around a table. They sit down and hatch like an old clocking hen for a number of years, and then produce nothing but a glugger. That is the usual result, I think, of most commissions. If there is any real good to be done in the immediate future it might be done by a committee composed of members of this House—of members of the Agricultural Panel and of others with any special knowledge on agriculture. I am opposed to the motion in its present form.

I rise to support the motion. In doing so there is no need for me to stress the importance of agriculture in this country. I think everyone will agree that it is, and is going to remain, our principal industry, the one on which all other industries are going to live. If agriculture is not prosperous, then nothing else will be. While supporting the motion, I think that it might be possible to arrive at an agreement on it. There are certain terms of reference which, I think, could be usefully submitted to such a commission. While saying that, I see no reason why the members of the Agricultural Panel in this House could not meet together as a vocational body and make any recommendations that they think fit to the Minister for Agriculture. The members of the Agricultural Panel might not be competent to deal with some of the terms of reference which, perhaps, might be submitted to a commission such as that envisaged in the motion. One such might be the relation between industry and agriculture. There is something wrong to-day between agriculture and industry. There is not that co-ordination and co-operation between them that there should be. On the one hand, you have a wage paid to workers in industries which compares very unfavourably with the wage paid in agriculture, and so long as that state of things prevails you are sure to have unrest and unsettlement in agriculture. The young men and women are leaving the land simply because they are not getting a reward for their labour. They are working under slave conditions. Their calling is a laborious one, and they have no reward whatever for their labour. They spend a number of years upon the land and then reach a time when perhaps they are not fit for anything else. It is at that period of their lives that many of them have to leave the farm on which they have been working all their lives. Such things should not be. If a man or a woman gives his or her time, labour and energy in a particular industry, the least that he or she should get is a reward for it. In the past it was the accumulated wages of those young people which enabled their parents to set up their children in life—to purchase land for them. I think the reason to-day for the cry about the distribution of land is due to this, that the farmers have no capital to enable them to purchase land. I think if they had, this question of the distribution of land would settle itself very quickly.

Another thing that this proposed commission could usefully inquire into is the trend of the markets and the taste of the consuming public. We are in a world of changing conditions, and if we are to live and survive we must produce what is required. The food products that would command a first class price some time ago would not make a third class price to-day. It is necessary, if agriculture is to survive, that the people engaged in the industry should be kept informed as to the needs and requirements of the markets—the home market as well as any foreign market that we may be able to put our produce into. Another evil that will result from the exodus of the young people from the land is that in time the towns will gradually decay. It is a well known fact that, if you have not an influx of fresh blood into the towns, they will decay in a very short time. It is only by keeping the people on the land that you can keep the country, and if the population in the country, disappears, then the nation is sure to go down.

One thing that I am convinced should be closely inquired into is the provision of credit facilities for farmers. I do not believe that money should be thrown at the farmers in an easy fashion. The land of this country is very fertile, and nature is very bountiful. I think that, if a man has spent his life on the land and finds himself short of capital, he had better get out and make room for somebody else. In making those credit facilities available for farmers close inquiry should be made as to whether, before the facilities are afforded, the last position of the borrower is not going to be worse than the first.

There is plenty of money invested in land to-day, but that money is not paying a dividend. Take the case of a farmer who invests £1,000, £2,000 or £3,000, as the case may be, in land. He invests that money in land and in stock. Does that money ever pay a dividend, or does he expect a dividend out of it? No, the most he expects is a job for himself or his family, and very often he does not get that. Where is the businessman or the industrialist who would invest money in any industry in the morning if he did not think he was going to get a dividend out of it? If that businessman gave the same amount of time and energy to the business that the farmer gives to his farm, he would expect a salary in addition to the dividend he looked for on his money. The farmer invests money in land, but he gets no dividend. At the present time he is not even getting a wage for himself or his family.

That is a deplorable state of affairs. It is a thing which should be closely inquired into. Until the land is put into the position in which it can make a repayment for the money, labour and time put into it, you will have no prosperity in agriculture. For those reasons I think a commission should be set up. At the same time, I see no reason why the members of the Agricultural Panel in this House should not meet together and make recommendations to the Minister on all matters on which they had reached agreement.

Listening to all the speech-making has left me speechless. Anything that I wanted to say has been said by others, and if there is anything left I think I have forgotten it. Senator MacDermot anticipated me in one thing he said. He said that there was too much pessimism talked. That was a thought that was running through my mind when listening to the speeches made here—that in them there was a trace of too much pessimism. I believe that too much pessimism has done 100 per cent. more harm in this country than Communism. Pessimism is a bad medicine for anybody, and, when served out day after day in the case of a young State like this, it is rank poison.

We are dealing with the question of whether or not a commission should be set up. The alternative proposal is that the matter be left to the agricultural group in this House. I believe that I was responsible for calling together that vocational group. I think that if the members of the Agricultural Panel and of the other vocational groups in this House want to earn their money and give any service they ought to have private meetings to discuss the different vocations which they are supposed to represent. The meeting of our vocational group was a happy one. I think it is a pity that we do not have many more meetings. In a way that has been impossible because of the general election, and now the forthcoming election for this House will upset things a bit. It would be a good thing to adjourn consideration of this whole matter until the new Seanad comes into being. The Banking Commission has sat for four years, and we have had no report yet. Several other commissions have sat, and nothing has come from them. I think that the setting up of a commission to deal with agriculture would defeat the object which Senator Baxter and Senator O'Dwyer have in view. It would be far more helpful to have a round-table conference of the vocational group and see how they would get on.

I entirely agree that rural Ireland must be developed. The rural people are the backbone of this country, and the land of Ireland is our greatest inheritance. Industries may vanish. Our export trade may dwindle. Our bank deposits may perish, but our land will remain for ever. Our cities and towns may be razed to the ground, but the land will never burn. Not withstanding the flight from the land, we are a land-minded people and in that spirit lies the one great hope for the future. The Government would be wise to take steps immediately to brighten the lives of the people in rural Ireland, and make their lot happier and more content.

Reference has been made to agricultural education. I believe that the work being done by the agricultural instructors and by the Department of Agriculture is very valuable, but we have many lessons to learn from progressive European countries. Reference was made to the setting up of a legation in Denmark. What I would be inclined to do would be to send some of our young men who are likely to come into possession of farms out to some of the progressive countries, and apprentice them to farmers. I would not send them to colleges, but I would send them to working farmers, let them pick up progressive Continental ideas and put them in practice when they come back here. That is a system of education I should like to see developed. I appeal to Senator Baxter and Senator O'Dwyer not to divide the House on this motion. It is most important that the Agricultural Group, in which I am interested, should see eye to eye and do what we can to develop agriculture properly. For that reason, I think the House should not be divided on this occasion.

Ba mhaith liom cupla focal do rá ar an sgéal so. Maidir leis an tairisgint do chuir an Seanadóir Baxter os ar gcóir, ní dóich liom gurb é sin an rud atá uainn. Níl aon dabht gur gá rud éigin do dhéanamh ar son na bhféirmeóirí. Admhuighim go raibh saol cruaidh ag cuid acu i rith na sé bliana nó na seacht mbliana atá thart. Tá cabhair ag teastáil uathu má bhí ariamh. Ach, níl na féirmeóirí uilig san droch-chás san. Tá cuid acu ann agus tá siad cho láidir, maidir le airgead agus bhíodar ariamh. Tá ag éirigh leo cho maith agus a d'eirigh leo ariamh. An chuid eile d'fhulaingeadar i rith an chogaidh idir Éireann agus Sasana agus tá orainn cuidiú leo anois. Ach ní dóich liom go geuirfidh an tairisgint seo aon leigheas ar an sgéal. Ní dóich liom go ndéanfadh an leas-rún a chuir an Seanadóir O Cuirc os ár gcóir an gnó ach oiread. Tá a lán nithe ina choinne. Gidh go bhfuil furhmór na ndaoine atá ar panel talmhaíochta ina bhfeirmeoirí, ní dóich liom go bhfuil an cruinneolas acu chun an sgéal seo d'iniúchadh i gceart. Mar adubhairt an Seanadóir Mac Eoin, tá buanchomhairle ag teastáil uainn, is cuma liom cé'n áit a ngeobhfar baill den chomhairle sin. Is féidir iad fháil sa Tigh seo nó taobh anuich den Tigh seo. Másé tuairim an Tighe gur ceart an sgéal seo do leigheas, sé mo bhearúil go mba ceart an tairisgint seo do chur siar go ceann tamaill. Ní dóich liom gur ceart do fiche duine, nó mar sin, glacadh leis an rún seo agus an sgéal do shocrú thar ceann na ndaoine atá ag teacht inár ndiaidh. An díospóireacht a bhí againn, rinne sé maith. D'fhoghlamar a lán ón méid adubhairt an Seanadóir Baxter agus na Seanadóirí eile a labhair ar an gceist. Sé mo thuairim go bhfuil furmhór na ndaoine atá annseo i bhfabhar an cheist seo do cur i leath-taoibh go ceann míosa nó dhá mhí.

I do not know whether it is necessary that I should repeat what I have said in Irish, but I shall give the gist of it lest some Senators may not have quite understood me. As regards Senator Baxter's motion, I do not think it would meet the situation we have at the moment as regards the agricultural industry. There is no doubt in my mind that something is required to right that situation. Everybody admits that the farmers suffered more than any other section of the community during the economic war. It is true to say that many of them are as strong financially as they have ever been, but a certain section requires help, and it is the duty of this House and of the other House to give the necessary support to get them over their difficulties. I am convinced, however, that the setting-up of a commission would do very little to effect that purpose. I would not agree either with Senator Quirke's proposition that the Agricultural Panel of this House should constitute itself a sort of commission. Though most of the men on the Agricultural Panel may be agriculturists, they are not experts, in my opinion, who would be capable of inquiring into every phase of the agricultural industry. They may be very good in their own sphere, but they would require the best experts in the land to inquire into the most important industry we have. Consequently, I do not think that Senator Quirke's suggestion would meet the situation. This House will have only another meeting or two before it is dissolved, and it would be very unfair to the agricultural community that we should come to a decision on this question at the present moment. I think the whole matter should be adjourned for at least a month or two—until the new House meets. There will not then be the excitement of a pending election. Senators will have a term of office in which these lovely seats will be available for their accommodation. They will be in a better position to consider the whole question than we are. Consequently I appeal to Senator Baxter to withdraw the motion and have the whole question adjourned for a month or two months.

I do not think that the proposal and the amendment are opposed to each other at all. The proposal of Senator Baxter is much wider and takes in much more than does Senator Quirke's amendment. The whole question which would have to be considered under Senator Baxter's proposal is so wide that it would take a long time to do it. The whole House is agreed that something must be done immediately to help agriculture. One of the immediate needs on which I think we are nearly all agreed is the making of money available for farmers so as to put them on their feet again.

Measures should also be taken to induce young people to remain on the land. The only reason they are leaving the land is that economic conditions are so bad. That is one of the most immediate needs because young people are getting it into their heads that agriculture is no good and they want to get away from it.

In the past few years, there has been an orientation towards industry and now there will have to be an orientation towards agriculture. I think the House will agree that a commission should be set up to deal with the wider question—how the different methods of agriculture can be correlated and worked as one harmonious whole. That would be work for a commission. I do not think that Senator Quirke's amendment, that the agricultural members of the Seanad should carry on meantime and work in their own way, is antagonistic to the motion.

I should like to make a few comments by way of reply. Senator Kehoe is not now in the House but I should like to say that, when this motion was put down in the name of Senator O'Dwyer and myself, there was no election looming. It is quite unfair to suggest that we had any motive in putting down the motion other than to create conditions which would improve the position of agriculturists as a whole. I do not think it should be charged against me that I made any attempt to make a political speech. Senator Quirke said he did not agree with many of the things I said. It just shows that even as agriculturists there is a wide measure of disagreement, but whatever may be thought of the case I attempted to present, however ill I did it, my whole desire was to try to put the facts as I saw them. The facts may not be as I see them. Perhaps I am wrong, but I am prepared to go before any body of men set up as judges by the Minister for Agriculture and to say: "There are the facts as I see them." I am prepared to be cross-examined on them and if I produce a case, I am going to have it, so far as I can, a case that I can stand over and such that, if men are to be set up as a court to judge what the situation is, they will not be able to prove I have misrepresented the situation. I do not think there was any attempt whatever, so far as I was concerned, either to exaggerate the figures or to paint the picture more gloomy than it is, if we just have the courage to face the situation.

The time has come for all of us to be realists. There is no use in our pretending that things are better than they are, if we know in our hearts that they are not. I like to face things as they are and it was in that frame of mind that I attempted to examine the agricultural position as I saw it. I was criticised by people who made no contribution themselves and who made no attempt at an examination of the agricultural position. A number of Senators on the other side merely got up and, like Deputy Kehoe, for instance, indulged in a sort of carping criticism of every speech made. I do not think that is the way to get constructive work done. I can understand Deputy Hughes's point of view. He has left the country and gone to live in the town, and, apparently, he is going to stay in the town. He now looks at the conditions in rural Ireland from the point of view of the man who has taken up residence in the town, and who has a grievance about the conditions that existed in the country which apparently scattered his family. I need not be in disagreement with his point of view at all.

Senator Honan thinks that the farmers are getting everything and that the urban dwellers are not getting half enough consideration. Senator O'Donovan also made some objections to differentiations between conditions in the town and in the country. Why is it that every man who lives in the town protests when anybody from the country attempts to indicate that conditions in the country are not the same as in the town? The man in the town always wants to keep conditions in the town as they are and conditions in the country as they are because he gets cheaper food and slave labour from the people in the country. That is what is wrong with us—the fellows in the town want to keep us like that. There are, however, people in the country now who are not satisfied to let these conditions continue, and, although this House may not now be prepared to accept this motion, the facts nevertheless remain, and neither elections nor speeches can change the ruthless economic facts which face us and which are creating problems which this Government, or some other Government, has to solve if this country is to progress.

Senator Byrne was one of those and I liked his contribution. I know him and you, Sir, know him, too, and we know that he has always been very genuine and sincere. He does what he believes to be right even when there is a very great sacrifice incurred in doing so. He was a member of an agricultural commission set up in 1923. In January of that year, that commission started work and they had signed their third interim report by 22nd May, 1923. A strange thing is that these reports were put into operation forthwith. In fact, they produced, I think, altogether five interim reports and a final report, and every one of them was put into operation. I am not going to comment on the Banking Commission. It has taken a very great deal of time and, no doubt, an enormous amount of labour on the part of those engaged in it. I was one who had a little of the labour myself. I had the privilege and the disadvantage of spending three hours before that commission on the matter of agricultural credit, but I believe that we need not get the idea that, because that commission has taken a very long time, this commission must take the same. I think Senators should not be too prejudiced against a commission to deal with agriculture because the report of some other commission, on which Senator Quirke sat, was not made operative. Senator An Fear Mór was with me on a commission and I think we can say with a certain amount of pride that there was a great deal of labour put into the work of that commission, but that, in addition, the major portion of its report was also put into operation by the first and the succeeding Government.

It is not true to say that simply because in the old days of the British authorities in this country, commissions were merely set up to dally, to delay and to prevent the solution of urgent problems, that Governments in this country must follow suit. I think that is altogether a wrong attitude of mind to have about commissions and it is not one that we should tolerate. If there is a problem to be solved, and if there is no way of finding a solution other than by getting a body of men together who are competent, who have enough spare time and all the material necessary made available to them, then, that is the way to do it. The public and the representatives of the public ought to insist that, if a reasonable report is brought in which is going to solve an urgent problem, that report will be made operative by the Government. That is my view about commissions and I am rather surprised by the attitude taken up here with regard to this matter. I frankly confess that I see no other way of tackling all the big questions that are involved in finding how we can make secure for the industry of agriculture an assured basis for future expansion, prosperity, and stability. I can find no other way than by setting up a commission.

What I visualise about a commission is every committee of agriculture in the country being asked to put up its case—asking the farmers of every county to put their case on paper and to send their representatives to state what they want done and being told: "There is no economic war now and England is gone out of the country. We are free to handle the Twenty-six Counties and the land of those counties as we like. We have the credit and the cash to put into it, and we have the means to work it. What do you want done?" Conditions in South Tipperary may be entirely different from the conditions in Donegal, Cavan or Kerry, but let the Kerrymen and the Donegalmen come before that body. It may well be that Senator Quirke and Senator Byrne might be members of it, but there are other people outside—men of technical knowledge and training—who ought to be on it, as well as men with other kinds of knowledge. You cannot have a report from an agricultural commission without realising that that report, if made operative, will have reactions on the work of other Departments. That must be realised and, accordingly, you cannot get that sort of commission going without seeing to that in advance. Therefore, you want a body of men on such a commission who are diverse in their views and training, aye, even in their outlook.

I should like to put somebody like Senator Hughes on it. It would broaden his point of view a little if he heard details from West Donegal and West Kerry as to the difficulties of the people there, and as to the difficulties of people with their pigs in my constituency and in other parts of the country. He would begin to think that, after all, farming on a 20-acre farm in my county, in Kerry, Clare, or in Mayo was not just as plain sailing as it seemed. You would have every committee of agriculture giving its views and the people representing dairying, through the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society, giving their views. You would have the Dairy Shorthorn breeders and the people who are growing grain, and the people who have experience of this admixture scheme and of the position consequent on the introduction of that legislation, giving their views. You would have all those views put before the members of that body who might stand apart viewing it, as Deputy MacDermot said, if you like, objectively, but from a national standpoint, and predominatingly from the point of view of how all the different branches of agriculture could be so brought in and correlated as to make the whole a progressive, strong and virile industry. That is what I visualise this commission would do.

With regard to Senator Quirke's proposal, I want, first, to make it clear that I think it quite wrong that the point of view should be held that this commission would dally and do nothing. I appreciate that there are Senators on my right who realise, as I do, that there are certain urgent problems that ought to be tackled, and perhaps they fear that this commission would take too long about them. I do not think so. I think urgency would force decisions from the commission. Senator Quirke suggested that we in the Agricultural Panel should get together and make proposals to the Minister. I confess it was news to me that the Minister had said to him that whatever proposals were put up by that panel would be carefully considered, but I put this to the House: personally I do not feel competent to constitute myself, so to speak, a member of a commission to inquire into all the problems of agriculture to-day. I frankly do not consider myself so competent. I think these matters are of mighty importance and mighty in their weight, and the responsibility that would be put upon us is something with which we are not charged at the moment. If the Minister were prepared to constitute the Agricultural Panel a kind of commission and to give us authority to bring in a number of other people, members of the Seanad, and to give us all the powers with regard to staff and the right to send for persons, papers and documents, that would be another proposal, but it is a much bigger thing than what we, as members of the Agricultural Panel, were attempting, or, I think, would find it possible for ourselves to attempt.

The problem still remains, and the problem will stare these people in the face as it stares me in the face. I feel that it would be at this stage unfair to prejudice the position of the future, particularly in view of the fact that the dissolution of this House is only a short way off, and that there will be a good deal of work to be done in the meantime. I understand that the House will have to deal with whatever matters go through the Dáil before its dissolution, which means that we shall be fairly fully occupied. In the circumstances I do not see that we in the Agricultural Panel will have very much time or liberty, and I doubt if we have the authority, to take it upon ourselves to find a solution. We might make suggestions, but the bigger issue will still remain, and if, for one reason or another, we are not prepared to tackle that now, it will just have to wait until some bigger and better men are courageous enough to tackle it. In the circumstances it seems to me that the wiser thing is to withdraw the motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
The Seanad adjourned at 7.15 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Thursday, 7th July, 1938.