Land Bill, 1938—Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

The necessity for this Bill has arisen out of two judicial decisions which have had a retarding effect on the Land Commission operations. They have, in fact, brought land acquisition practically to a standstill. In one case it was judicially decided that the certificate of the Lay Commissioners declaring lands to be required for their purposes should bear the signatures of all the Lay Commissioners and not of two commissioners only as has been the practice in accordance with the allocation of duties made by the Minister under Section 6 of the Land Act of 1933. Two of the Lay Commissioners act with the Judicial Commissioner on the Appeal Tribunal and if all six commissioners were to be required to sign the certificates two of the signatories might be later called upon to deal with the same matters if and when they came before the Appeal Tribunal. There is, besides, the difficulty that the court ruling calls for a unanimous decision by all six commissioners and not merely by the majority. In Section 14 of the Bill it is proposed that not less than two commissioners shall act in all the excepted matters set out in sub-section (1) of Section 6 of the Land Act, 1933. Other less important and routine matters may be performed by one commissioner.

The second judicial decision which has held up the acquisition of land is one relating to the resumption of holdings and is the subject of Section 39 of the Bill. As stated in the explanatory memorandum of the Bill, which has been circulated to Senators, Section 39 is rendered necessary by the decision of the Supreme Court in the "Potterton case." This was a case of an application under Section 31 of the Land Act, 1933, by the Land Commission to resume a holding. The application was heard by the Appeal Tribunal and was refused on the ground that the section in so far as it declared it to be mandatory on the Appeal Tribunal to give the Land Commission leave to resume a holding was in conflict with Section 11 of the same Act and wasultra vires. The Judicial Commissioner held that Section 11 should prevail. The matter came before the Supreme Court, where it was held that (without considering and deciding on the reasons given by the Judicial Commissioner) the particular power of resumption and the particular purpose for which lands are required should be stated in the notice of resumption given to the tenant by the Land Commission and also that the Certificate of the Land Commission, which under the section takes the place of evidence, must be as specific as such evidence should be. The order of the Appeal Tribunal refusing resumption was affirmed.

These were the two decisions that have practically held up for some years past nearly all land acquisition. I do not know whether the Seanad will appreciate or agree with me in the procedure I propose to follow now: in the Dáil I dealt with every section in the Second Reading speech, but did not think it necessary to do that here. I am dealing with the section that called for most debate in the other House and I will refer also to new sections that have been introduced. I hope the Seanad will appreciate my reason for not taking long here.

I will deal now with Section 39, on which most of the debate occurred in the other House. That arose out of the Potterton decision. This Section 39 declares and enacts in sub-section (1) that the Land Commission have and shall have powers of resumption, and also sets out the purposes for which land may be resumed. These were the two things that the court required to be done, but in the decision of the court it was decided that the particular purpose and the particular power should be set out; and we are doing that in this Bill. We are providing in the section that that will be the power under which we are proceeding and the purposes are now set out that were not included in the memorandum that was first circulated. The Bill, as amended, now sets out the power under which we are acting.

Sub-section (2) of the section provides (a) for the form of notice of resumption to be given to the tenant and for the lodging of a petition against resumption ; (b) for an appeal from a decision of the Lay Commissioners to the Appeal Tribunal on a question of law; (c) for the form of the certificate of the Lay Commissioners, and (d) that the Appeal Tribunal shall authorise resumption on receipt of the certificate of the Lay Commissioners. Subsections (3) and (4) of the section enable the Land Commission to obtain immediate possession of a holding the subject of resumption proceedings where such possession is a matter of urgency.

Sub-section (5) of the section provides that a holding which is giving an adequate amount of employment and producing an adequate amount of agricultural produce shall not be resumed except for the relief of local congestion and for the provision of playgrounds, etc. The sub-section also provides that the Land Commission shall in certain circumstances provide the tenant with an alternative holding. That sub-section was inserted as a result of the debate in the Dáil. There was some discussion as to holdings, which were properly worked and into which people had put their life savings, being resumed, and I stated that the undertaking given by the Minister, who introduced the 1933 Act, in that respect had been carried out to the letter. Some doubts were cast upon that statement and I invited anyone who knew any case to the contrary to let me know of it. I undertook to have any such case examined, but I was informed that no such case had arisen. I was, however, invited to provide against it, and this sub-section (5) of Section 39 gives the same protection to unvested holdings which are well worked as vested holdings at present enjoy.

The opportunity is, however, availed of in this Bill to clarify expressions and to settle minor defects in previous land legislation which have been the cause of delay in Land Commission operations. I wish to draw the attention of the House to the sections which have been inserted in the Bill as a result of the Committee Stage debate in the Dáil and which sections are not included in the explanatory memorandum.

It has been necessary to amend the Title of the Bill. Section 5 refers to the Rent Restrictions Act and deals with cases where a person might be occupying a house on land acquired by the Land Commission. He might apply to be protected under the Rent Restrictions Acts and might, if he succeeded, possibly hold up the division of an estate. Exception was taken to that in the Dáil. It was claimed that the Title did not cover a case of that kind, so we amended the Title in order to make it right. It was also held that we were now taking rights which a person might have under the Rent Restrictions Acts, and we actually put in a new section to provide that, as soon as the Land Commission became the landlord of a house, that Act should not apply.

An additional sub-section has been included in Section 15 to provide for an appeal to the Supreme Court from a decision of the Appeal Tribunal on questions of law. That provision was not necessary, I think, but some Deputies thought it was. There was always an appeal on questions of law, but as there was some doubt about it. I had that sub-section inserted.

Section 45 of the Bill is a new section which provides that Section 39 of the Land Act of 1923 shall apply to mortgages created as part of the purchase price of holdings purchased under the early Land Acts. Under this section, it is provided that these mortgages may be redeemed and replaced by an ordinary land annuity. There are some cases outstanding in which, under the earlier Acts, only part of the purchase price was advanced by the Estate Commissioners, and the landlord took a mortgage for the balance. It was not quite clear that these cases came within Section 39 of the 1923 Act, which provides for redemption of superior interest, and to make the position clear, we have brought in this new section.

Section 48 is also a new section intended to preserve the right of indemnity of certain lands which may become liable for rent as the result of an apportionment of rent arising out of an application under Section 44 of the Land Act, 1931. That also arose on Committee Stage. It was the case of a person who might hold under a fee farm grant and who might sell portion of the farm to another person and indemnify that person by his own lands. Subsequently, he might apply, under Section 44, to come within the Land Acts, and, in that case, the rent would be apportioned and the person whose lands had been indemnified would have a rent apportioned on his land. In order to preserve the indemnity, we are inserting this section, so that the indemnity will still be a charge on the indemnified land. Section 49 is another new section which provides for the redemption of a perpetual yearly rent charge. I do not think it is necessary for me to go into this matter in detail.

Except for the points which I have mentioned this is chiefly a Committee Stage Bill. There are several matters with which the Land Commission found it necessary to deal in the Bill, but the two main points are those which I have mentioned, that is, the right of the Minister to allocate to two commissioners the duty of deciding cases, and also the making definite of the power of resumption.

I appeal to Senators to consider this Bill, not from any political angle, but from the angle of what is best for the country. I particularly appeal to Senators on the other side, and especially those who represent the agricultural industry, to give their help and support to securing a square deal for farmers whose lands may be acquired under this Bill, or under previous Land Acts. I agree that the Government are justified in passing laws for the acquisition, distribution and regulation of the use of land. I say that it is the duty of the Government to do so, for land is the necessary and vital basis of the existence of the human population, but, while I agree that the Government are justified in acquiring land, compulsorily even, when such action would create loss and hardship to a certain section of the community, I definitely oppose the acquiring of land by the Government without the fullest consideration. It should not be done until there was proper investigation and reports from experts that the acquisition of the land was in the best interests of the country as a whole.

That decision should not be left entirely in the discretion of the Land Commission. The Government were proceeding on right lines when they set up the Banking Commission of experts to inquire, amongst other things, into the compulsory acquisition and distribution of land. That commission reported that any further distribution of land was detrimental to the prosperity of the country. In the face of that report one would have expected a slowing down in the actions and workings of the Land Commission in this matter of the acquisition of lands. Instead of that we have here to-day a Bill to further extend and facilitate the compulsory acquisition of more land.

It is there that the Government are wrong. They are wrong politically, morally and economically in not taking more notice of the Report of the Banking Commission. That commission was set up by the Government themselves, and they have told us now that it is out-of-date and that there is another commission sitting; that is the Agricultural Commission. By the time that commission reports I am prepared to hear representatives of the Government telling us that that commission was also out-of-date. There have been 2,300,000 acres of arable land distributed under the Land Acts for the relief of congestion. That is about one-fifth of the total arable land in this country. Most people will agree with the statement of the Banking Commission that that is a reasonable contribution for the relief of congestion. The fact, however, is that, no matter what the Land Commission do, they cannot satisfy all the applicants for land. There are 500,000 applicants for land, between landless men and congests. It would be necessary to start an eviction campaign of the present holders of land in Eire to give an economic farm even to a proportion of those applicants who are looking for land at the present moment.

Since this country took over the management of our own affairs we have had Land Act after Land Act passed to facilitate the acquisition of land and to legalise the confiscation of property. These Acts began with the Hogan Land Act in 1923. That Act drove the first wedge into the land holders' security of tenure. Under the 1923 Land Act the Land Commission can acquire land everywhere for the relief of congestion. But there was a provision in that Act which protected the farmers who had already purchased under any of the Land Acts. If the lands of these farmers were to be compulsorily acquired they were entitled to receive from the Land Commission a farm of not less value than the land acquired from them. That provision was some compensation and some protection for the farmer who had purchased these lands under any of the previous Land Acts. That provision, however, was swept away by the Land Act of 1933. Now the fact is that any farmer owning land of more than £2,000 value may have it acquired from him by the Land Commission. The price that the Land Commission has been giving under those Acts is a confiscation price. I say deliberately that this is confiscation or robbery under law.

After all those Land Acts facilitating the compulsory acquisition of land and after all this land has been divided, how does the country stand to-day? Are we more prosperous? Are we more contented and happy? Have we produced more wealth? Have we increased the rural population? Have we reduced the number of unemployed? I would say, Sir, to use a ministerial expression, the answer to all these questions is in the negative. I would recommend the Minister before he consents to facilitating the acquisition of any more land for distribution, to have a stock-taking made of the working of the Land Commission. If he does I am sure he will find out facts that will force him to deal with the report of the Banking Commission on the working of his Department. All this acquisition of land which was to create an El Dorado in this country has made the rich man poor and the poor man poorer.

It was very popular in the old days to blame the landlord system. There certainly were very many bad landlords and worse land agents. Very many more of our ills were attributed to British rule. I agree that British rule could never be a substitute for home government, but there are hundreds of farmers in this country to-day who would wish to be back under the old system for they know that under it they would be very much better off. They know they were much better off under British rule and the landlord system, than under a home government and the Land Commission. Goldsmith's "Deserted Village" has been repeatedly quoted in the course of debates on this question. Goldsmith blamed the landlords for the depopulation and the desertion of the villages. He blamed the decay on the selfishness of the landlords, in fact the landlord of those days was described as a man of wealth and pride who

"Takes up space that many poor supplied—

Space for his lake, his park's extended bounds,

Space for his horses, equipage and hounds."

Now, Sir, the landlord has gone. The lakes are dried, the demesne walls are broken and the parks are demolished. But how has the whole country fared? The landlord has gone, the mansion is dilapidated and in ruins and we have the deserted mansions and still more deserted villages.

Most of the land trouble, most of the unrest and most of the agitation over the land is created by politicians, by politicians of all Parties. One need only take up the agenda of the Dáil any day and one will find numbers of questions addressed to the Minister to know when will the estate of So and so be acquired for distribution. Those Deputies know perfectly well the answers they are to get to those questions but they are putting down the question for propaganda purposes. Those questions are the only contributions which many of those Deputies make in the Dáil during their whole time in office. I suggest there should be some agreement between the leaders of all Parties to stop those queries. If Deputies feel that there is a grievance to be brought before the House or an injustice to be put down, they could have a motion for the adjournment or a motion in some other form, addressed to the Minister for Lands. But these questions in the Dáil are causing very much insecurity to land holders and unrest and disappointment to landless men.

I intend on the Committee Stage to move an amendment, which I hope will be accepted by the Minister, to give security of tenure—the most important question affecting land legislation. The Minister for Finance said in this House that he would be glad to see such security restored to the farmer. I intend also to move an amendment to give an appeal to a High Court judge on all matters relating to compulsory acquisition and the price of land. This amendment will mean, if adopted, that we shall revert to the system of a Judicial Commissioner which we had prior to the 1933 Act. It will provide for a High Court judge, sitting without the assistance of the Lay Commissioners, and quite independent of everybody else. Until we get that, there will be no security felt, at least by the farmers or the people whose land has been acquired. Owners of land at present have no confidence in the Appeal Tribunal and, judging from the decisions, there are grounds for that distrust. I intend to move another amendment to fix the amount for which land can be legally mortgaged. Prior to the 1933 Act, and under all the previous British Acts, land could be mortgaged only for ten times the annuity. I think it would be a great security for everybody if we reverted to that position again. I intend to move an amendment to give power to the Circuit Court judge to make an order, on the application of creditors, to compel the Land Commission to take over the land of a debtor at its market value and pay the proceeds to the creditors. This would make the dishonest farmer, the waster, and the man who does not intend to pay anybody, honest, and would restore the confidence of the public in the farmer.

A miracle.

Senator Hayes may laugh at that, but everybody knows well that the land of any farmer in the country who does not wish to meet his creditors, is very little security. That is particularly so in the case of the small farmer. All he has got to do is to create an agitation and nobody will touch it. I shall reserve further discussion on these amendments until we reach the Committee Stage. In conclusion, I would ask the Minister to consider these amendments in a reasonable, commonsense, sympathetic manner. If he does, I hope we shall arrive at an agreed measure, a Bill which will give the owners of land more security and which will at the same time create more confidence and hope for the future amongst the owners of land and their families. It is on these grounds that I am not opposing the Second Reading of the Bill.

I feel on somewhat familiar grounds in speaking on this measure. Sixteen years ago, in a building attached to the Museum, on rather hard seats, I remember Senator Counihan and I—I think we are the only two members left who were active on land legislation at that time —fought a long and weary battle in trying to prevent inroads into the security of land which were brought about by the 1923 Act and which have gone on at an accelerating speed ever since. If the House were to have regard only to this present Bill, there would be comparatively little to say because this is mainly a machinery Bill, but we cannot shut our eyes to the broad principles involved in land legislation. Although our protests may be only futile, we hope they will do something to educate the country and still further to alarm those who are about to invest in land as to the very precarious security which land provides and, further, to educate public opinion that, until there is some finality in this matter, our basic industry will continue to suffer from lack of capital and from all the political influences that surround this whole question of land tenure.

I was interested to hear Senator Counihan ask for the return of the landlords or, rather, to say the farmers, on the whole, were no worse off under the old landlords than under the new. If I wished to be vindictive on the matter, I should be rather inclined to rejoice in that statement because as one who has suffered a very considerable measure of confiscation, who saw his income reduced from the basic figure of 100 to about 25 over the whole 50 years of land legislation, and who is now finished with it or almost finished with it, I might rejoice to see the biter bit and to see those who were active in the campaign for confiscation, now suffering themselves, but unfortunately that is not the whole story. If it were only individuals who were concerned, it would not matter very much, but the whole nation is suffering and the primary industry is suffering. That is the reason that one avails of every opportunity to return to the fight and to do what one can to protest against the whole principle and the whole philosophy of this land legislation. It is no harm when the opportunity does occur to examine it in detail and to see how it is getting worse and worse as the years go on.

There has been a lot said about the question of security and, in the sort of loose language that has been used, there has been a certain amount of misconception. I think it might be said that land affords no security now for a loan. That needs to be explained, perhaps. Legally, of course, a farmer can go into a bank and offer his title deeds as security and, in pure law, that is a legal transaction. But put yourself in the position of a lender and what do you see? You see, in the first place, resistance to the claims of creditors reinforced by public opinion. Anybody who knows the country at all knows that a unit farm, a farm occupied by a man and his family, is no security whatever for a loan because the minute the creditor presses, the victim, the debtor, raises sympathy locally and, if the land is put up for sale, there is no bid. It may be bought in by an accomplice, by a relation, at a nominal price. As long as this goes on, the Minister may be perfectly certain that what should be the major wealth of the country affords little or no security for loans. That has been very largely accelerated by the land legislation since the Free State was established.

There is this further difficulty, that, the minute the holder of a larger farm shows any desire to sell, a local agitation is at once started. A Land Commission inspector is sent down. The minute that inspector appears, the value of that land is hammered completely. At a free sale that land may be worth £5,000, but the mere appearance of the inspector brings it down to £3,000 or £2,000 or even less. It is astonishing that the effect of this has not sunk into the authorities. What is the effect of it? Who is going to invest capital in agricultural enterprise with that danger hanging over his head? I know what the Minister is going to say, and I am prepared to deal with it in advance. The Minister says there is no danger to the security of tenure of any man who resides on his land and works it. He said that several times in the Dáil. I want to examine that a little more closely. The owner may have, for one or two generations, resided on the land and worked it very well, improving his land and buildings. Suddenly he falls on bad times. It happens to everybody. I need hardly tell the Minister that the man who has worked a large area of land, and worked it well, has not worked it out of the profits of the land. He has built up its value out of outside moneys. Then he falls on bad times. He may have no family, nobody to whom he wants to leave that land. He says: "Now I should like to cash in. I want to reap the reward of generations of labour and expenditure". Can he do so? Of course he cannot. The minute he wants to cash in on his land, the same old game begins. An agitation is started. The Fianna Fáil clubs get busy; questions are asked in the Dáil; hot foot, the Land Commission inspector comes down, and the value of the land is hammered. That is obviously going on all the time. In that state of affairs, how can one expect capital and enterprise and confidence to be put into the development of land?

There is another test that, in their wisdom, the Government and the Land Commission apply, and that is the labour test. The owner is probably regarded as a good citizen as long as he employs plenty of labour and tills plenty of his land. But what happens when he says: "Now I find this tillage is not paying?" We all have experience of that. It may interest the Minister to know that my beet account for this year shows a loss of £179 on about 15 acres. Suppose the owner says. "I am going to try other methods of farming; I am going to see whether the development of grass by modern ensilage methods and scientific manuring is not going to give me a greater output on my land," is he allowed to carry on? The whole policy of the Government says: "No." He is suspect straight away. He is not employing as much labour as he did. Why is this matter of labour on the land to be treated differently from the manner in which it is treated in every other industry? I happen to be a director of a business for the making of cement in this country. We pride ourselves, and those who have seen the works pride the business, on the large amount of work done by mechanical means. Machinery is used to the utmost in order to ensure proficiency, and in order to get the product at the cheapest possible price. Why, in all conscience, should not that same doctrine apply to the land? Why should the land be penalised for not employing labour if the owner finds he can produce the same profit or a larger profit with less labour? The whole doctrine is fundamentally unsound, and as long as it continues to influence and be a part of Government policy there is bound to be this fear, this lack of confidence, and all the other handicaps to efficient production.

That is one of the reasons why I cannot see my way to be enthusiastic over those schemes for increased credit to farmers. As long as the insecurity is there, I think it would be very unsound for the State or for any business institution to be otherwise than most careful and on their guard about lending money on the land. Even on the purely financial aspect of it, while all this unrest is increasing, greater burdens are being thrown upon the State. Does the House know that during the tenure of office of the present Government the Land Commission Vote has been increased by the sum of £1,000,000? What value are we getting for that other than an increasing measure of insecurity? Senator Counihan has dealt with the arithmetic of this question of closer settlement. The Banking Commission has told us that there are 500,000 potential applicants, roughly, half congests and half landless men, thirsting for the plunder. How much land is there to satisfy them? On the most liberal estimate, there are 600,000 acres. Mr. Deegan, in his evidence before the Banking Commission, said that every additional acre to be acquired over this 600,000 acres could only be acquired with the greatest difficulty, and yet the Government goes on telling the people that there is a possibility of getting finality in this question of closer settlement. There is clearly every indication of continuing unrest, but definitely no hope of any solution. Why cannot the Government really take stock of the whole position, and take serious steps to restore this security of tenure, and to give confidence to big or small who wish to invest their money in land? Why should there be this extraordinary objection to a large landowner? Is not the large landowner, with capital, the only person who can afford to carry out scientific experiments? Is he not really the only person who can afford to take the risk of pedigree stock? Is he not the only market for the produce and young cattle of the smaller holders? If you look at the countries foremost in agricultural methods, say Denmark, you do not find any penalty attached to or any obstacle placed in the way of large and efficient ownership.

In this connection, if I make a constructive suggestion, I should like to repeat what I suggested previously on a motion in this House, that there should be an enquiry now— the Banking Commission are not satisfactory for the purpose—anad hoc enquiry into the effect of this policy of land division. The Minister will find that the new occupiers in many cases are no better than the old, and they perpetuate the evils of the old. Many of those new occupiers are already letting their land to graziers and larger people. It will be found that many of them are in no way enhancing the value of the land or increasing agricultural production. Whether that will be proved in the large number of cases or not, nobody can say. But, in view of the great anxiety, I feel that the Government should boldly face an inquiry. When this matter was put before the then Minister for Lands, ex-Senator Connolly, he said that to allow an inquiry of that kind would be an aspersion on the efficiency of his officials. When you get that sort of argument, where are you? It is rather like the question of Irish—right or wrong the thing is going to be steam-rolled. At no time is the Government going to stand back from the picture and see where they are going. They are going to go on right or wrong, even if calamity is staring them in the face.

Will the Minister in his reply, when dealing with these general questions, deal with the economics of closer settlement. The figures we have seen show that the cost of settlement in some of these new colonies is somewhere in the nature of £800 or £900 per holding. How much of that is in the nature of a free grant? What percentage of that expenditure is of a productive nature? I suggest that a very large amount of that expenditure is in the nature of a free gift, largely demoralising, making a bit of a show for visitors perhaps, but making no substantial contribution to production or the settlement of this question.

With regard to the Bill itself, I have certain more or less minor remarks to make. As I said, I do not consider that the Bill is of any great consequence as compared with the whole methods, the whole philosophy, and the whole basis on which the Land Commission is working. One objectionable feature of the measure is the large amount of legislation by reference. You would have to be a perfect expert to understand it. Even the memorandum that the Minister has kindly given the House does not altogether clarify the difficulties for any layman or inexpert person reading the Bill.

There is another important matter dealt with in this Bill in relation to the guaranteed land deposit. The House may know that, although the State, under the 1923 Act, made a definite contract to take the existing rents as a basis for purchase, and although purchase agreements were signed and bonds placed to credit on the basis of the standard purchase annuity, the Government subsequently took power to revise the contracts already made. It may not be a very big thing in itself, but it shows the callous regard that the Government policy has —I do not blame the Land Commission —for the rights of owners in this matter, a sort of regard that the rich man does not matter; you can attack property freely and take things away from the rich and affect nobody else. That principle is seen clearly in this Bill. The Government took power to revise the basis on which the standard purchase annuity was fixed. There was an understanding, which was never specifically embodied in any measure, that this machinery to revise the standard purchase annuities would only be exercised in very exceptional cases, such as accommodation land, family arrangement, or even fraud; because there might in some cases be fraud. Where one brother owned the land and the other brother was the tenant, they might fix an artificial price which would not be security for the advance.

There is a further matter. In consequence of this, in some cases the 10 per cent. retained for the guaranteed land deposit has been found insufficient and it is sought now to stop the payment of interest. Hitherto the claim of the Government in the case of revision, where the money was wanted badly, was confined to the deduction for the guaranteed land deposit. Now it is to extend to the interest which has been accumulating on the guaranteed land deposit. Moreover, if the guaranteed land deposit is not sufficient, the Government have power to claim a refund of any excess from the owner who has received the bonds and, perhaps, distributed them. Look at the extraordinary effect of this. The owner who is living in the country is a mark; he can be brought within the jurisdiction. The owner who is gone, gets away scot free. The effect is to penalise the citizen and let the person who has left go scot free. I hope the Minister will make a statement as to how he intends in future to exercise this power of revising the standard purchase annuity and whether it is really intended mainly to confine it to cases of accommodation land, family arrangement, or fraud.

Section 12 (b) enables the Judicial Commissioner either to transfer bonds from the Cost Fund or sell bonds and transfer cash. The effect of this will be that the Judicial Commissioner will sell when bonds are above par and transfer cash. The ordinary procedure is to add whatever is transferred to the purchase money and to pay costs in bonds. Under these circumstances, the loss will therefore fall on the persons entitled to the residue. In fact, to put it briefly, it is going to be heads I win, tails you lose. When it pays better to hand in bonds, because bonds are below par, bonds will be handed in; but when bonds are above par, cash will be handed in. It is a new departure from a hitherto recognised principle that bonds, whether above or below par, are the instrument of payment in land transactions. It is an unjust departure that the Land Commission should have the power of paying in whichever is the most favourable way to itself, to the prejudice of the residue of the estate. I propose to put down an amendment on that point.

I also propose to put down an amendment to Section 13 to secure that persons who have not been parties to the acquisition or resumption and could not have contributed to the delay shall not be penalised.

Section 37 deals with the number of years' interest that may be added to the purchase money by way of compounded arrears in the case of long leases or grants. The section is a very difficult one to understand as drafted, and I am told that experts differ as to the interpretation that might be put on the wording. Two dates have to be borne in mind for the purpose of determining the amount to be received, the date of lodgment of the application, and the appointed day. In practice, as many as four years have elapsed between the two dates, owing, it is supposed, to administrative difficulties in the Land Commission. It is not thought that more than three years' arrears of interest to the date of lodgment should be recoverable, but justice appears to demand that the full number of years between the two dates I have mentioned should also be recoverable.

An amendment will be put down to make it quite clear that this will be carried out in practice. Personally I do not see much object in putting down an amendment, because if the Land Commission acts contrary to the intention we will have another Land Bill. We have reached a stage when, to take an example out of the totalitarian book, the Land Commission does what it likes. That is practically the stage we have reached. I will give one illustration, if I am not out of order, of the extraordinary effect when you start on this whole principle of revising values. I know a case where there was a very well secured fee farm grant of £98 on a very wealthy community, with school buildings, and under the Act that community had power to buy out the owner of the fee farm grant. I am not blaming the community. What happened? The owner of the fee farm grant got bonds which gave him £60 a year instead of £98. What did the community get? Where they paid £98 they now pay £30. That is the effect. It was never intended that that would be the effect. Once you begin to get these things bound up with mechanical legislation, you have these inequalities and injustices. We can only hope that, in the course of time, this thing will get so bad that something must be done and that the country will revolt against it. In the meantime, capital will not be put into land. If the Government puts capital into land they are not acting in the national interest; they are jeopardising that interest. To expect private people to put capital into land is to expect them to be reckless.

I did not realise until Senator Sir John Keane made his speech that he and Senator Counihan had been friends over such a long period, and while I have no objection to the two gentlemen complimenting each other as much as they like, I certainly will draw the line when they come to throw bouquets over the tomb of Oliver Goldsmith. I think I learned the "Deserted Village" when at school, and I remember a fair share of it, but no matter how I try to stretch my imagination, I could never find myself coming to the stage of Senator Counihan, when he tried to associate Oliver Goldsmith with the policy of landlordism in this country. I think it is an atrocity, and an insult to the intelligence of the people to suggest that any such thing could ever be possible on the part of Oliver Goldsmith. If I were to believe in ghosts, which of course, I do not, except one certain kind of ghost, I would not stay here late to-night, as I should be afraid that the ghost of Oliver Goldsmith would appear to. know if Senator Counihan was in the House. It is a consolation that we can get into such an atmosphere, where men differing so much in background and in other respects, such as Senator Sir John Keane and Senator Counihan, can meet on the same platform.

We find Senator Counihan telling us that many of the farmers, in fact most of them, would be glad to be back under the old landlordism and under the British Government. As a member of the agricultural panel and a product of the farming community, I resent that statement very much. I say that in every struggle for Irish independence the farmers took their stand in the front line. It is an insult to them and an insult to our predecessors who went down in the struggle, for those who represent the farmers in this House to say that in the year 1939 farmers would be glad to undo everything that was done in the past, to forget the struggles, the hardships and the loss of life of their forefathers. It ought to make Senator Counihan examine his conscience when he finds his pal standing up in the same benches and referring to the policy of confiscation which went on for a considerable number of years. I always heard it said that people in glass houses should not throw stones, and if there is any man in this House under glass, as far as confiscation is concerned, that man is Senator Sir John Keane. I do not want to be personal, but if Senator Sir John Keane does not know the history of the Keane estate in County Waterford, I would be pleased to supply him with the document. I believe if he read it, and if his skin is anyway as thin as the average skin in this country, we would hear very little more talk from him about confiscation. I will pass from that.

The next thing by way of argument was that the confiscation, or the alleged confiscation, was attributable to Fianna Fáil clubs. I think that question was debated in the Dáil and, in the course of the debate, there was practically general agreement in that House as to where the various agitations came from. We are all well aware that Fianna Fáil clubs in various parts pressed for the division of certain estates which, in their opinion, should be divided. We are well aware of the fact that they pressed for the division of estates, because they believed these estates were allowed to remain undeveloped, not giving any employment, not being of any practical benefit to the State, and that there should not be, at that time, numberless people existing in unnatural conditions in the same areas. I am sufficient of an optimist to believe that even Fine Gael clubs, if there are such things, would take sufficient interest in the welfare of the country and in its future development to agitate in the same way. I know that they have agitated. The same thing applies to Labour clubs. I know that most, if not all the agitation for land division came from a non-political organisation known as the Land Settlement Organisation. It was not confined to any political party, class or creed. All kinds of people were mixed up in it, the sole object being to urge this Government, and the last Government, to divide nonproductive land and make the natural resources of the country available to the people I am sure Senator Sir John Keane objects to that. It is only natural that he would object, but he need not try to convince this House or, at least, try to convince me that all the trouble is attributable to the activities of this Government or the previous one. I am sure that he has respect for both. The Senator told us of all that he had lost on beet. I suggest to him that he took a particularly bad year, or, from his point of view, a good year, for his argument against beet.

We know that the very warm weather in the beginning of this year will have the effect, perhaps, of the beet crop not being as good as it should be. Certainly, it has had that effect on other crops. I should like to ask Senator Sir John Keane if he has not lost more on his foreign investments than he lost on his investment in one very small item, the production of beet.

I certainly lost, where everyone else lost, considerably on foreign investments. I have made nothing at all out of my investments in land.

I am sorry the Senator has not done so well in his foreign investments, but, if he made any money out of his land at the beginning of the war, he has no grievance. He must be a bad farmer anyway, because a number of people have made a considerable amount out of farming since the war. It is a relief to know that, but it convinces me still further that Senator Sir John Keane is not consistent in his arguments. He wants to know what we have got for all the money spent on the Land Commission. The Senator ought to be glad to have got rid of some of the land which was such a burden to him. What will interest a lot of other people is that thousands of new holdings have been created, and thousands of families have been housed who would otherwise have been practically homeless. Thousands of people have been cleared out of the rural slums. With all the talk we hear about the city slums—very justified, no doubt —we are likely to overlook the fact that there are other slums—rural slums.

Anybody travelling through the country, or conversant with the situation over the countryside, will realise that there have been in the past, and there still are, I am sorry to say, thousands of people living in houses which, if they were examined in comparison with any reasonable standard, would be classified as unfit for human habitation. As a result of the annual Vote for the Land Commission, many such people have been put into good homes and into a position in which they can support themselves, no matter what conditions may arise in Europe as a result of this present turmoil which, I believe, is coming to a head.

We hear a lot of talk about the necessity for keeping up the rural population. Even the other half of the Axis, Senator Counihan, has asked us the question to-day: What have we done in the direction of keeping the rural population on the land? This is one of the things, one of the numerous things, we have done. Every person planted on a farm under the Land Commission scheme is so much done in the direction of trying to keep up the rural population and to keep the people living on the land. That is generally believed to be a sound policy in this or in any other country.

I support this Bill because I believe that it is absolutely necessary. I am sorry it was not introduced long ago. As the Minister has already explained, this Bill is necessary to loosen up, or make more effective, the operations of the Land Commission. The position for almost three years has been that the Land Commission machine was running —I would not like to say it has been idle—very slowly. Senator Sir John Keane does not believe that, but if he took a trip to Tipperary—and I would refer particularly to the Cashel area and the area all over South Tipperary —he will find there that the division of several estates has been held up awaiting this Land Bill. I believe that as a result of this the machinery of the Land Commission will get the necessary lubrication and it will be found possible to do some real work in the way of land division, not necessarily to confiscate land from anybody, but to oblige some people who are anxious to get rid of their land and make it possible to have that land taken over.

The principal argument against the Bill, if we are to judge by the beginnings we have had here, and the speeches in the other House, was based on the question of the fixity of tenure. Anybody who knows the history of this country will realise that this question of fixity of tenure was at one time a worthy slogan of a worthy cause. The term fixity of tenure is being used to-day, not as a worthy slogan of a worthy cause, but as the catch-cry of a political party. The lack of fixity of tenure is being blamed for the various evils under which we suffer. Senator Counihan and others would have us believe that it is because of the lack of fixity of tenure that the price of land has gone down; that it is because of the lack of fixity of tenure that the people refuse to invest money in land, refuse to give employment and do the various other things which they should do if they had the interest of the community at heart.

Anybody who knows the history of this country knows that this question of fixity of tenure had its roots in the Land League. Since that period we have had fixity of tenure here and I do not believe it would be possible for any Government, even if they tried to do it, or deemed it desirable to do it, to disturb the situation in this country where a man and his family, living on a farm, would find themselves justified in believing there was no danger in the world, if they were working that farm, that they would be disturbed by this or any other Government that would be popularly elected.

Senator Counihan was good enough to tell us that the compulsory acquisition of land did not begin with Fianna Fáil. He explained that, in his opinion, it began with the 1923 Land Act. So, therefore, that is one thing we cannot blame Fianna Fáil for. We are also told that the value of land has decreased because of this everlasting threat of Land Commission operations. Those who are opposed to the Bill would have us believe that it is because of that that the position has reached its present stage. I believe that the principal trouble, so far as that is concerned is that the banks closed their doors as soon as they saw that the value of land had gone down. We have various responsible speakers telling us that the value of land could be increased if credit facilities were made available by the Government. I believe credit should not regulate the value of land, but that the value of land should regulate credit.

On the question of an economic holding, there was considerable discussion. I differ from most people on this particular matter, because I believe that it is impossible to define what an economic holding is, in terms of acres. In one part of the country an economic holding may be 20 acres; in another place it might be 30 acres, and in Northern Queensland an economic holding is 2,500 acres. I believe if the Land Commission could see their way to differentiate in the different counties in proportion to the description of the land, a great advance could be made.

I pressed the Minister here on a previous occasion to examine the possibility of having smaller holdings within striking distance of big cities and provincial towns. There is room for improvement along those lines. I believe we should make a serious attempt to induce people who are in every way suitable for working on the land, and who were, in fact, reared on the land, to drift back again to the rural areas. That could be done by creating smaller holdings near the cities, largely for the production of vegetables, flowers and fruit of various kinds which even now, with all the protection we have, we are still importing.

I hope the Minister will examine that situation and, if he gives it sympathetic consideration, he will be doing a very good day's work for the country. I have the misfortune to be in touch with a lot of those people who were reared on the land and are now living in the city. They came here and were married. They would be anxious to get out of it if they possibly could. They would like to live again on the land. I believe a definite drive should be made to get them to go back and I believe a lot of them would respond. There is nothing, to my mind, which is more deplorable than to see the people reared in the country to manhood and womanhood then starting out to settle down for the rest of their lives in the city. If we are to be serious about stopping the drift from the land and the flight to the towns, this is one way in which we could stop it.

Another matter of importance is this question of giving the landlord, or the tenant, or whoever may be the person from whom land is being acquired, a fair price. We hear a lot of talk about the various ways in which land should be valued so as to ensure that the man, from whom the land is being taken— who had not been using that land and who, apparently, had no business with it—would get what, in his opinion, would be a fair price for that land. I would suggest that there are two classes of people—in fact, there are definitely more than two classes—who have to be considered in this matter, and I think that Senators should realise that, when land is being purchased by the Land Commission from the existing owner, that land has to be resold, and that it is practically impossible in many cases to resell that land if what the existing owner would consider a fair price were to be given to him. If the owner were to be given what he considered a fair price, in those circumstances, it would be practically impossible to resell that land to the new owner. If you ask a man who, on his own admission, has been working the land at a loss for years, what the land is worth, he will tell you that it is worth nothing, but as soon as he hears that the Land Commission proposes to acquire that land he will say, in all probability, that the land is worth about £100 an acre. My point is that, if you are going to set up any sort of legislation for in this matter, you have the machinery provided in this Bill to deal with such matters. If a man is not satisfied, then he has the Appeal Tribunal to go to, and, as far as I know, any man who has gone to the Appeal Tribunal has been treated fairly.

Why does the Senator want to discard free sale, or the selling of a farm, by free bidding, at the market value?

I do not object to selling at the market value, but I do object to the roundabout way of deciding what is the market value. What I mean is that, in one breath, we have Senators saying that the land is worth nothing and then, in the next breath, once the Land Commission comes along and proposes to acquire the land, the value of that land soars up. That is the situation. I have one case in mind. I shall not mention the person concerned, lest I might point the finger at anybody, but as a result of the present policy, the land I have in mind is now in occupation of people with about 20 acres at the rent of 50/- per acre—per statute acre, I believe, as a matter of fact—and by the time rates and everything else are put on top of that, I am afraid that even the most extravagant critic of the Government or of land settlement would not say that that was economic. I am quite sure, at least, that the landlord in that particular case was satisfied, and, if he was not satisfied, then the devil himself would not please him.

I think it is recklessness on the part of any Government to put a man and his family on a holding of land unless that man is able to work it. Sometimes, of course, people are over-anxious to get possession of land, but I think it is a bad policy and a policy of recklessness to allow a man to go into a farm unless the Government believe that that farm is going to be an economic proposition. I think it is about time that there was an end to that policy, and I think that anything that would be done in that regard would have the whole-hearted support of anyone who has been student of this question of land settlement over a period of years. I agree that it is a bad policy to give parcels of land to people who are unable to work them, but so far as I can see, the people who are opposed to this Bill and who, naturally, are opposed to all measures of a similar kind, are the people who have sympathy only for the big fellow —the farmer with 300, 400, 500 or 600 acres. They have sympathy for the big man, but they do not seem to care what becomes of the other fellow. Accordingly, when Senator Counihan and other Senators talk about credit, or the lack of facilities for credit, they are talking about the fellow with the 300 or 500 acres. I suggest that if Senator Counihan and Senator Sir John Keane were to get together on this question they could hammer out some solution, and I suggest that the proper way to get that man out of trouble would be to go to the Land Commission and give them the facts. They could say to the Land Commission: "Here is a man with 600 acres," and the Land Commission, probably, would be able to offer a solution. I am not saying that the Land Commission should take over all his land, or that they should take practically all of it and leave him with, say, 20 acres and a big mansion. My suggestion is that they should go to the Land Commission and say: "Here is a man with 600 acres, who owes a lot of money to the bank and there is no chance of the bank collecting that money as things are at the moment, but if the Land Commission should take over 400 acres of that land and leave him, let us say, 200 acres, the bank might be a little more generous." I think that a solution might be found in that way, and I believe that, between such people as Senator Counihan and Senator Sir John Keane, if something like that were done, the man concerned would be very much better off, and I believe that the country would be much better off as a result of their exertions.

Now, a lot has been said about the Banking Commission Report. We have had almost as many critics, or as many people speaking on both sides of the question, with regard to the Banking Commission Report, as we have had on this question of land division. I, for one, am particularly pleased to see that the Minister for Lands was not sufficiently scared, by all the talk of the last few months, to withdraw his Land Bill. Rather, I congratulate him on having said—perhaps not in so many words, but in effect—that he, for one, in the teeth of this little gale we have had in connection with the Banking Commission Report, had no intention whatever of regarding that report as the Bible, not alone for this generation, but for future generations of the people of Ireland. Now, there may be sections of the Banking Commission Report which would be all right in their own way, but while we have one section of people telling us that it would mean immediate disaster and shipwreck for the State if we were to deviate one inch from the terms of that report, on the other hand we have another section of the people telling us that, by one wave of the hand we can get, as a result of following up the recommendations of the report, into the lovely valley of Avillion—into a Utopia. Now, I believe that any proposal intended for the good of the country should get every consideration, but I also believe that, while these proposals are being examined, we should concentrate on what is the best solution for this or any other country, and that is to try to work our own way out of our difficulties. I believe that it is absolutely necessary that the people should be encouraged to go into further production of all the things which can be produced in this country and that everything that the Government can do—and I believe that this Bill will go a long way towards helping it along —should be done to enable families to be set up in this country, not only in such a position as to be able to support themselves and their families, but to contribute also to the real wealth of this country.

There has been a lot of talk about this matter of the flight from the land. It seems to me that it is an extraordinary contradiction in terms to find that the man who talks about the flight from the land and deplores it, in the next breath deplores this policy of land division. Now, I am one of those who believe that there is a good argument to be put up, not alone against this question of the flight from the land, but against the very serious danger of a big flight to the land. I have some figures here with regard to the number of applications for land, and I think that these figures might be some indication as to the number of people who are anxious to live on the land. I am not quite sure of these figures, but I understand that there are 500,000 applications for land at the present time. Now, if those 500,000 people started marching in one direction—in other words, to get back to the land—then I suggest that it would appear to a lot of people that, instead of having a flight from the land, we would have a very serious flight towards the land. I believe that that is a very good indication in the country. I believe it is a great thing to find that we differ from most other countries in that respect. In most other countries they have to use coercion of various kinds; in fact they are taking up whole villages and moving them compulsorily from one place to another. Here the people are ready to march back to the land and yet we have the people who pose here as farmers' representatives and as the representatives of the people of Goldsmith's Deserted Village coming along and telling us that that is bad policy. I do not say that a certain number of people have not left the land. They have left the land. A certain number have always left the land and probably always will, but you cannot say that there is any such thing as disastrous flight from the land until you find, as has been found in other countries, farmers turning the key in the door and going away and leaving the farms there. If that situation existed in this country there might be some justification for the terrible pictures we have painted here for us from time to time. That has happened in other countries, in countries which are never mentioned here at all. I have seen it myself. I have seen the key turned in the door; I have seen the farmer clear out and leave the farm there derelict. That situation has not arisen here and I do not believe there is the slightest danger of that situation arising here.

There is, I believe, a tendency in the Land Commission to depart from the policy of giving land to landless men, at least to a very great extent, in future land division. Reading the Minister's speech in the Dáil I saw that he explained that it would not be possible to accommodate the available number of uneconomic holders, I think it was, if we were to deal with the landless men. I suggest to the Minister that we have in the country at the present time a very great number of landless men who are in every way suitable for land. While the Minister will tell us, I suppose, that he has not ruled out definitely the landless men from future land division, I gathered from his statement in the Dáil that the landless man who would get land would really be very lucky or, at least, an exception to the general rule. I believe that, in fact, instead of departing from the policy of giving land to the landless men, we should have a greater concentration on a particular type.

There is also in the Land Commission policy, as far as I understand it, the idea that if a holding contains so many acres and is of about £60 or £70 poor law valuation and that the farmer has three sons, one of those sons should not be eligible for an allotment of land under Land Commission schemes. I do not think that is sound policy. I believe that some of these people who were brought up on reasonably small farms—and when I say reasonably small I mean from 40 to 50 acres or even 60 acres—would be a very desirable type for new holdings. They would have the experience and they would probably have the capital and would probably be able to get some cattle or horses or at least some help from their own families and in that way would make very desirable men for land division.

In connection with the old I.R.A. men in the country, I believe there is still a number left uncatered for. I am not one of those who would say that because a man happens to be an old I.R.A. man he should therefore be put into a farm of land. I would say nothing of the kind. I know quite well that there are several old I.R.A. men in the country who for some reason or another are not suitable for land, but I still hold that there are several old I.R.A. men still available in various districts who are suitable in every way, who have the necessary capital, and who because of their service to this country in the past, if they are in every other way suitable, should be accommodated. There are not so many of them left, and I think an effort should be made to clear away that particular grievance. Those men feel—and I believe they are justified in feeling— that they have a special right to live in this country. We know ourselves that the soldiers of various other armies and various other countries were placed on the land here. We do not have to go very far to find that that is so. The least an Irish Government ought to do is to try as far as possible to place the best stock on the land. If you want the best stock, in my opinion, you will have to go back to the men who stood in the bearna bhaoghail when this country was in danger.

I do not think there is very much more I would like to say. I congratulate the Minister on this Bill and I hope that this Bill will not meet with the same fate as other Bills, and that it will not be found when this Bill is in operation for a year or two that there is another flaw and that land division will again have to be held up for a while. I do not believe that that will occur. I believe that this Bill has been examined thoroughly and that, as I said in the beginning, it will oil the machinery of the Land Commission and make it possible for that machinery to work to full capacity. If that can be done I believe we will eventually get to the state of affairs of which I was reminded by Senator Counihan in his opening remarks—that we will have the Ireland visualised by Oliver Goldsmith, with the busy mill and the distant church that top the neighbouring hill; we will have a country where health and plenty will cheer the labouring swain, and so on. I would advise Senator Counihan before he takes his promptings from anybody that he should go to the Library and study not alone Goldsmith's "Deserted Village," but also "The Traveller." If he will do that he will change his policy and will be over here in a week.

I have the feeling that Senator Quirke's speech is largely propaganda and that he has not made a real, genuine effort to examine either the human aspect or the economics of land division in this country at all. It might be thought that as between Senator Quirke and myself there ought to be very little difference of opinion as to what we would deem wise and patriotic with regard to the whole policy of land division, but I confess quite frankly that I feel in listening to Senator Quirke that he cannot see the wood for the trees or that he only knows the bit of his country that he was brought up in. He lived as I know on a large farm in a particular county; he has left that county and has gone to another county where the farms are of similar size, and I feel that he knows very little about those other parts of the country whose economy is probably going to be completely changed and altered as a consequence of this Bill of the Minister's.

I would like the House to address itself to this whole question in as nonpartisan a spirit as possible because those of us who are daring enough, even in these days, to try to look through the mists into the future Ireland ought to try to lay our plans in such a way that the land of this country will be utilised by the people of this country to produce the greatest quantity of goods and to maintain the largest possible population. I think if that were the aim of Government policy in the matter of land division the Minister, with all his earnestness, honesty and sincerity, would, I think, be addressing himself to this problem in a very different fashion. The policy which the Minister is carrying out, in so far as it relates to the distribution of land, the making of new holdings and the planting of people on land that appeared to him to be depopulated, may from his point of view be very magnificent work; but you cannot take a bit of land and cut it off from the rest without thinking of the relationship between that parcel of land and other parcels in other parts, and of the general economy of the country as it existed at a particular time. I would like to see the Minister address himself to this: that, while the policy he has responsibility for is, from his angle, being carried out in an eminently satisfactory fashion, the policy of the Department of Agriculture may become so warped and twisted, and so impossible, that the lives and fortunes of thousands and thousands of our people are going to be completely changed and altered.

At the moment I do not propose to deal with the sections in this Bill. I intend to discuss the economics of agriculture in relation to the Minister's policy. Let me say at the outset, that I feel that sufficient consideration is not being given to the agricultural policy in relation to the Minister's policy of land distribution. Senator Quirke has left the House after making a very long speech. One of his statements was that thousands of new homes have been created, and that, in his view, there are still thousands and thousands of homes possessed by people on the land that are unfit for habitation. He thinks that in these cases new homes ought to be built, and that this policy of land division must go onad infinitum. There is this point that the Minister ought to bear in mind, that while, during his term of office as Minister for Lands and during the entire period of office of the present Ministry, thousands and thousands of new holdings and homes have been created we have fewer people on the land than we ever had in the history of the country. The House will realise that you can create new homes without adding to the population of the country. The Minister should bear that point in mind: that you can carry out this policy of land distribution to the farthest point, and yet find, after you have divided all the land that there is to be divided, broken up the large farms and made as many new homes as it is possible to make, that, in spite of all that, you have a lower population than the country ever had before. That is the grave danger that I see facing the country as a consequence of this policy of land distribution.

I come from a county where there are no large holdings. According to the statistical abstract, in 1933 there were only 58 holdings in my county of over 200 acres, so that the type of farming I am most familiar with is that which is carried on on the 10, 15, 20, 30, 40 and 50 acre holdings, but mainly on the 25 acres holding. What I fear most with regard to the Minister's policy is that you are going to so change the internal economy of the country that you are going to make it practically impossible for the people in my own and in the poorer counties to keep a grip on their small holdings. I do not know how many Senators are prepared to accept that point of view, but if what I say is true then, obviously, it should be a cause for grave alarm to the Minister and should urge him to have this problem re-examined. What point is there in breaking up large tracts of land in the belief that we are going to have greater production, that we are going to increase the population by hundreds and thousands if there is no evidence to prove that that state of affairs is being brought about, but that instead the opposite is the probability.

An examination of the population figures reveals that the most intense depopulation is taking place in the poorest parts of the country. The drop in population in my county has been very considerable. In the adjoining county of Leitrim the position is worse, and Roscommon is almost as bad. Mayo is not quite as bad as Leitrim or Sligo, but the position is that the race from the land is going on at an intensified rate from all the poorer parts of the country. Why is that so? Because the standard of life there, taken in relation to other parts of the country, has dropped to such a low point. The people, remember, must have a certain standard of living even in the country. Undoubtedly, the people of the country have a great love for the land. Their standard of living is low. It was never very high, but one can say that it was never lower than it is at the present time. But the position is, that people are not prepared to accept the present low standard of living: they are not prepared to stay on the land and accept the sacrifices which that entails, and continue to reproduce. As a consequence, the race is definitely dying in the poorest parts of the country. What do you find in the poorer counties? One can go along the road for miles and count one in four or one in five homes and families in that part of the country now, as compared to the numbers that used to be there, and learn that is the last of them. What happens then? The fact, of course, is that the land which these people owned and worked—many of them reclaimed it from bogs and mountains in the past—is going back into bog and mountain. No matter what scheme of reclamation one may try to subsidise or carry on, what is the point in it if the race living there is not virile, reproducing the race and producing from the land?

As a consequence of this policy of land distribution, we find that life is only possible on the poorer lands consistent with the particular type of farming being carried on on the better lands. A certain standard of life can only be maintained, in my opinion, in counties like Clare, Mayo, Kerry and in Leitrim, parts of Roscommon, and the great majority of our counties, consistent with a particular policy being carried on on the grass lands. As soon as you alter the economic system in Meath, Tipperary, Westmeath and elsewhere, you immediately alter the standard of life for the people in my county and in Leitrim and everywhere that we have people living mainly on the production of the store cattle trade. You immediately alter their standard of life for them, and we must recognise that fact. What is going to happen? We have created thousands and thousands of new homes, but go to any cottage in Meath, Tipperary or elsewhere, to those farms where they were accustomed to take in a yearling or a two-year-old from the fairs in Ennis, Ballinasloe and my county, and bring them on to those grass lands and what kind of farming do you find there? You will find that, if they are going to live, they must go into the same type of farming as in my county.

I know, as a matter of fact, in one of the estates that has recently been broken in County Meath, some of the Kerry farmers there say that they have no future there unless they have a creamery. They have cows, but cannot turn out the milk at a profitable price and they have been left practically high and dry to-day. We have to remember in the first place that, if I have a cow on my farm that I find produces 200 gallons of milk, and if I take her to the County Meath where she will produce 600 gallons of milk, the calf will easily be worth £1 more than it would be worth to the Cavan farmer. Instead of, as in the old days, having a feeder on the grass lands going into the fairs and competing with the English and Scotch buyers for the store cattle produced on the more intensively worked cattle holdings in certain counties, because these men no longer go into the fairs themselves with the same type of produce and compete with those English and Scotch buyers in the market formerly, that avenue is closed now. Instead of finding there the competitors of the Englishmen and Scotchmen, they find that that market is getting every day smaller and smaller and less capable of absorbing what has to be sold.

The net result of all that must be a lower standard of life on the poorer lands in those counties, making it less attractive than before. The desire to fly from the land is evidenced every day by the numbers that are leaving; and even those who are staying are failing to reproduce. I asked the House the other day if some Senator would get up and tell us when he heard of a farmer getting married. Let Senators just jog their memories and try to answer that question. I was trying to answer it the other day, and I could only say: "I do not remember." Probably somebody could. Undoubtedly, the whole position of our population and the future of our race on the land is very grave. I believe that, as regards the future of our agricultural economy, this aspect of the case which I am putting before the Minister ought to be very seriously considered by him.

We have here altogether 17,000,000 acres of land—including woods and all the rest; we have 12,000,000 acres of arable land, every acre of which ought to be utilised to the full. It is no good putting up new holdings in Meath and Westmeath and retreating from Mayo, Connemara and Donegal, where there were homes in the past which were just as happy as those now in Meath or Westmeath. After all, while a certain standard of life is essential for the maintenance of health and so on, these things are relative, and standards of life in Donegal and on the west coast—I have been there a good many times—must be in relation to what one would see in County Meath. In my judgment, the people are happier in Donegal than in Meath. That ought to be taken into account in this whole scheme of land division. I cannot see how our small farmers are going to hold on to their land in the poorer counties if we are going to break up all the larger holdings where the feeding of cattle was carried on and where they were finally finished, holdings which made it possible for us in the past to get away from our own holdings the animals which we could not fatten or finish for the market ourselves.

This point of view has probably been put before the Minister previously, and I do not know how much consideration he is going to give to it or what his opinion may be about it. I am as anxious as the Minister may be that we should increase the number of homes: I am terribly concerned that the population is falling as it is, and particularly in the rural areas. But I do not want to see a retreat from one acre of land that was reclaimed, and that is owned by the people in this country, which was obtained and passed on from their forefathers. And yet, that is taking place everywhere to-day. Unless it is arrested, the Minister's policy will not be a success. The fear I have is that, instead of arresting it by this policy we may be going definitely to hasten the decay of the poorer lands and buildings until we come ultimately to their desertion.

Like many other members, I took a good deal of my politics in my early years from the principles that were enunciated from No. 6 Harcourt Street and we all believed then that when we could get possession of the country the first thing to be done would be the distribution of the land which was so essential to the well-being of our people. I think I had then the point of view which some still hold that we had limitless millions of acres to distribute. That is not so. I have been looking through figures and finding the extraordinary position to be that, in the province of Leinster there are actually only 3,487 holdings of over 200 acres. These are the 1933 figures, and the Minister has been hard enough at work in Leinster since then, so I am sure that the number is smaller now. It was made up as follows:—Carlow, 136; Dublin, 178; Kildare, 437; Kilkenny, 319; Laoighise, 283; Longford, 87; Louth, 146; Meath, 623; Offaly, 333; Westmeath, 330; Wexford, 300; and Wicklow, 315. From those figures, we see that the greatest number of large holdings was in Meath. I do not know what the position is to-day, but I do know that when people talk of getting rid of the bullock and putting the people on the land, actually, in my judgment, that implies getting rid of the bullock in Meath but getting the bullock—or both cow and people—off the land in the poorer counties. I think that is the greatest tragedy of all and I do not want to have that retreat from one acre of land that is held at present.

Senator Quirke said a few things that one would like to take him to task on, but, having said his say—and said it in an altogether too personal manner—he possibly wants a rest, and one can leave it for another day. I think that there has been too much clamour and too much propaganda about this question of land division. A certain atmosphere has been created, an absolutely unreal atmosphere, and I think that nothing could make things more difficult for the Minister in charge of this Bill than for a Senator like Senator Quirke to get up and talk as if every man in the country can get a farm. One hears this sort of demand outside. Such demands cannot be carried into effect. I wonder would the Minister consider this? He has a great deal of land in his possession yet which has not been distributed. Apparently there are approximately 600,000 acres which may be yet available for distribution.

I think the Minister has now reached the stage when he could very well dispense with the extraordinary powers which were necessary for his predecessor, and necessary for him up to a point to carry his scheme into operation. Senator Sir John Keane and Senator Counihan referred to this question of fixity of tenure as a disturbing consideration for our people, and though that may not be accepted, I definitely believe it is, and I think it is not right that there should be in the hands of the Land Commission powers under which they can go in on a farm anywhere and take any land, even for the purpose of increasing the food supply of the country. Who is to determine, for instance, that it is necessary to acquire a farm to increase the food supply of the country? Is it the Lay Commissioners? If the Department of Agriculture were put that question, it would be a rather different matter. Food, to the mind of some people, may include wheat, sugar beet and certain things like that, and these same people may not consider a yearling, a two-year-old or a three-year-old animal as food at all. I am half afraid that some of the Lay Commissioners would be very perturbed if you spoke of a two-year-old bullock as food, at least when speaking of the distribution of land—they might have a different point of view when sitting down to dinner.

I am not satisfied that that power ought to be in the hands of the Land Commission and that this question should be determined by the Lay Commissioners whose competence, as farmers, I know nothing about. I wonder what it is, and when you are dealing with this question of the pos- session of land, the right to own it and the conditions under which you hold it, the people who are to determine these matters should have full competence so to determine. I am in ignorance of the capacity of these Lay Commissioners and, indeed, of who they are, but I am not satisfied that the power should lie with them to determine that question, because there is this queer point of view, that if you have your dairy cow out on good grass, it is almost the greatest crime you could commit—that you should do something, like turning the grass down and the brown earth up, and that that was much better farming. The strange thing about it is that, under our agricultural policy, farmers do not consider it better farming because they are apparently getting away from it by degrees, day after day. I do not say that that is a very satisfactory state of affairs, but there it is.

I come back to my original point that the purpose of land legislation in this country should be such as to create conditions in which the greatest yield, the greatest production, could be obtained from the land and the greatest number of people maintained on it. I think that a continuance of the Minister's policy will have the opposite effect. There is no doubt whatever that there is evidence that quite a number of his schemes are not producing the desired results. I have one or two schemes in mind, and I know one particular scheme under which the land is not being anything as well used to-day in the hands of the people who got it as it was before it was sub-divided. With regard to the kind of homes which Senator Quirke was talking about, you are to-day in many parts of the country actually creating agricultural slums, with your little bits of fields and your ditches all over the place which are taking up good land which should be growing food, or producing grass for the production of food.

I heard something very interesting in relation to the scheme of spreading the language of the Gael in County Meath. People have been brought from the Gaeltacht to County Meath. I do not think there is anything wrong in bringing people from the west to the east; and, in fact, if you could bring some of the people from the east to the west, and leave them there, it might be very good for the country. The truth is, however, that from the point of view of the language, you have done something which is not going to succeed. People from the west, with the language of the Gaeltacht, have come there and if you go into their assemblies, into their dances, to-day, you will find that they are talking not the language of the Gael at all. Those people have been brought in. Is it because they are good farmers or that they have got the language and are expected to spread it? I do not know about their farming, but what I say about the position with regard to the language is what I know to be a fact. Then, you have all this cost of these schemes—£700 or £800 for planting new people on new land. What about all the people on all the old land who want hundreds of thousands of pounds and on whom this money would be much better spent? I put it to the Minister that, taking the long view, this is not a wise policy, either from the national point of view from racially, or from any point of view from which you are prepared to consider it. It is too late, when you have completed this scheme, to get back, but if the Minister believes he is going to get a greater population and greater production from our fields than we got before he came into office, there is no doubt the world that he is going to fail.

I dtaobh an Bhille seo, ní dóigh liom go bhfuil an ceart iomlán ag an Seanadóir Baicstear nuair adeir sé go bhfuil na Gaedhil i gContae na Midhe ag iompodh ar an Bhéarla. Bhí mé annsin roinnt uaireanta agus thug mé fá deara go raibh an teanga á labhairt go measardha in a measg. Ach níl mórán baint ag an cheist sin leis an Bhille atá os ar gcóir. Aontuím leis an Seanadóir Baicstear nuair adeir sé gurab é an t-aimsiú ceart an méid saidhbhris is féidir linn do bhaint as an talamh agus an méid daoine is féidir linn do chothú ar an talamh. Na daoine do labhair ar dtúis ar an Bhille seo, tá dearcadh eile acu. Tá dearcadh na sean-tighearnaí talmhan ag fear acu. Dar leis, tá rud éigin sollamanta ag baint le seilbh agus go háirithe le seilbh talmhan. Má thug Rí Shasana ceart do dhuine maidir le paiste talmhan, tagann an ceart sin anuas chugainn mar ordú o Dhia, do réir an tSeanadóra seo, agus ba chóir an talamh sin a bheith ag an fhear sin agus ag a oighrí go síoraidhe. An dearcadh sin, bhí sé go láidir ag na tighearnaí talmhan agus tcím go bhfuil sé ag teacht isteach imeasc na bhfeirmeoirí fhéin—sé sin le rá, go mba cheart seilbh síoraidhe do thabhairt don fheirmeóir agus a shliocht in a dhiaidh. Tagann sin anuas chun an fheirmeóra ó sna tighearnaí talmhan agus tá an dearcadh sin ag cuid d'ár bhfeirmeoirí. Ní dóigh liom gur ceart é. Ní dóigh liom go dtug Dia an talamh do dhream bheag amháin. Nuair a bhí muinntear na hEireann ag troid in aghaidh na dtighearnaí talmhan isé an slogan nó an ghairm a bhí acu ná: "Is le muinntear na tíre talamh na tíre". Nuair a glanadh amach na tighearnaí talmhan cuireadh na daoine i seilbh na talmhan agus glacadh leis an ghairm sin san tír. Agus, do réir mar is cuimhin liom, tá sé soiléir san Bhunreacht atá againn gur le muinntear na tíre seo talamh na tíre agus gach rud a bhaineas leis. Ar an adhbhar sin, luigheann sé le réasún gur cheart don Riaghaltas an socrú is fearr is féidir leo a dhéanamh do dhéanamh i dtaobh talamh na tíre. Agus má shaoileann siad gurab é an socrú is fearr an talamh do roinnt imeasg tionóntaithe nua, nach bhfuil an ceart acu, faoi Dhia, sin do dhéanamh? Tá súil agam nách mbeidh aon scáth ar an Riaghaltas no ar an Aire roimh na daoine seo agus nach dtabharfaidh siad seilbh síoraidhe do na feirmeóirí nó do chuid acu.

Ní dóigh liom go gcuirfidh seo aon stailc ar na feirmeóirí. Beidh seilbh seasta acu agus ba cheart go bhfuigheadh siad an méid cáirde a bheas tuillte acu. Má théigheann an Riaghaltas ar agaidh leis an polasaí seo, ní dóigh liom go bhfuil rud ar bith san méid adubhairt an Seanadóir Baicstear mar gheall ar an dochar a dhéanfadh briseadh na talmhan i gContae na Midhe no na contaethe eile. Ní fheicim aon bhunús leis an sgéal sin. Dar leis, tá bó bhainne chó maith le gort prátai no gort coirce. Is fior é nach féidir linn maireachtaint gan bainne, ach tá toradh na mbarrai níos luachmhaire na é.

I dtaobh na bhfeirmeacha móra i gContae na Midhe, ní raibh duine ar bith sásta le staid na Contae sin mar bhí sé, maidir le talmhaíocht, agus is dóigh liom gur fearr an talamh do bhriseadh suas agus é do chur i seilbh na ndaoine. Ní cuirfear isteach ar fheirmeoir mhór, cosamhail leis an Seanadóir O Catháin, a shaothruigheann a chuid talmhan. Ní dóigh liom go bhfuil dúil ag an Aire cur isteach ar dhuine a shaothruigheann an talamh atá aige. Ach tá a lán daoine agus cuid mhaith talmhan acu agus ní bhaineann siad aon úsáid as ach bulláin no gamhna no ba do sgaoileadh amach air. Cha dtugtar cothrom don fhéir fhéin; tá an oiread sin driseoige agus fiadhaile agus a leithéid ann nach féidir an talamh a choinneál mar ba cheart.

Tá mé go láidir i bhfábhar an Bhille seo, agus tá súil agam go rachaidh an tAire ar aghaidh leis an obair atá idir lámhaibh aige agus go roinnfe sé an talamh imeasg daoine a bheas sásta é oibrú i gceart. Bhí cur síos annseo ar "fheirm economice". Tá athrú intinne ar chuid de na daoine annseo ar goidé is "feirm economice" ann. Tá tuairisg díreach agam ar an gceist seo on Danmharg. Bhfuil fhios agaibh goidé is "feirm economice" san tír sin? Feirm de 16 acra agus ón méid sin suas. Agus an talamh annsin, níl sé chó maith le cuid den talamh atá againn-ne. Nilím á mholadh go roinnfí an tír ina feirmeacha de 16 acra. Ní dóigh liom go mba cheart é do bhriseadh suas ar aon réim mar sin. Beidh a thuille talmhan ag teastáil uainn má théighmíd ar aghaidh le scéimeanna foraoiseacha mar bá cheart dul ar aghaidh, agus mar atá tíortha eile a dhéanamh. Beidh talamh de dhíth chun sin a dhéanamh, agus tá súil agam go leanfaidh an tAire den obair sin. Sa Danmharg tá suas le 20 per cent. den talamh faoi chrainn agus, dar leis na daoine annsin, ní ar an talamh bocht is ceart na crainn a chur. Gheibheann siad toradh níos fearr ó na crainn ná o rud ar bith eile a bhaineas siad as an talamh agus cuireann siad iad ar an talmah is fearr atá acu. Sin é an sgéal a fuair mé ón Danmharg le déanaí agus b'fhiú áird a thabhairt air.

Tá mé go láidir i bhfábhar an Bhille seo agus tá súil agam go rachaidh an tAire ar aghaidh leis an polasaí atá idir lámhaibh aige agus nach mbeidh aon scáth air roimh na daoine atá i gcomhnuidhe ag clamhsán annseo.

I should like to contribute to the discussion on this Land Bill and to do so mainly from the point of view of the general wealth of the nation. I should like to make it quite clear, to begin with, that I am absolutely opposed to the policy of which this Bill is another example. I want, in the course of my remarks, to reconsider this whole policy, especially in its general, social and economic aspects. I am aware, as every student of Irish history must be aware, that there is a long historical background to the land question in Ireland. I am aware that in times gone by terrible wrongs were inflicted on the Irish people. Their land was confiscated in considerable quantities. I am also aware that the memory of these ancient wrongs still persists. I am aware also that, in spite of the fact that this whole question as between the landlord and tenant represented by the fight in the old days was practically wiped out some 15 years ago, we still continue to have the alleged land question and we still continue to treat the farmers who happen to be owners of larger farms than their neighbours as if they were lineal descendants in title of the ancient oppressors of the Irish nation. All this oppression disappeared completely with the 1923 Land Act and we have no right to follow large-scale owners of land in this country with feelings which were, perhaps, justified in the case of the more oppressive of the old landlords.

Cromwell is not a very popular figure in this country. But surely, part of the curse of Cromwell is that we should continue to approach this land question in a spirit of envy, malice and all uncharitableness and that we should forget the common obligation of our citizenship of this nation. Every citizen has a right to expect from the State a just policy with respect to his property and his interests. So again I emphasise that our large farmers, whatever else they are, are not certainly the descendants in title of the ancient alien oppressors of this nation. In fact, so far as my own personal traditions are concerned, I must say that my people in the old days stood with the tenants in the struggle for fair rents, free sale and fixity of tenure. The feelings that we had for the evils of the old land system were shared by the plain men in the North of Ireland and they were shared with the feelings of the people in the South of Ireland. That was one of the things which united them in the old days. Within recent days this recent perversion of land policy, through the mere spoliation of our neighbours is one of the things that divide you and will continue to divide you from the North because it seems to them to be flying in the face of the Ten Commandments.

What policy has preceded the application of this confiscatory land legislation? We had a situation created by the so-called economic war in which agriculture suffered more or less. But the Government of the day were able, for reasons best known to themselves, to divert the major part of the burden of that economic war on to the shoulders of the larger farmers, especially the larger grazing farmers. The position then was that the major part of that burden was not borne by the agricultural economy as a whole, but by a small section of the farming class. One of the effects of that successful diversion of the burden was to depress the value of land, especially the value of holdings of the larger kind. The State has, in my view, dishonestly taken advantage of that deliberate depression of the value of large holdings in order to acquire that land for a song with a view to its distribution amongst alleged landless men. That involves less than financial justice to the owners of the land in question and it involves less than financial justice to the taxpayers as a whole. I say that because not only was the value of the land which it is proposed to confiscate, deliberately depressed, but even at that reduced value, the people who have been given land—and the word "given" is the right word to use—have been allowed to acquire that land at an equivalent of £600 less than the depressed figure at which the State acquired it. What I mean is that, what they pay for this land represents £600 per holding less than the cost to the State of acquiring that holding, even at that diminished value. Consequently, the whole policy involves an injustice to the taxpayers as a whole. It seems to add a deadweight debt of £600 for every person you put in possession of land under this policy of land confiscation. This is a destruction, of course, of the credit of such landowners, who have this constant fear that they may have the Land Commission coming down upon them and taking possession of their land for distribution. But it is a destruction of something more important, and that is a destruction of the moral credit of the nation.

We are told that there is an insatiable demand for land, that there are umpteen thousands of applicants for land. Of course there are. An overwhelming number of people want land. More land than is available is wanted. That is bound to happen if you make land available to applicants on terms such as these. If any philanthropist proceeds to sell packets of 20 cigarettes for 6d., he will find an insatiable demand for them on the part of people who will either smoke them themselves or sell them to their neighbours. If you make land available at less than the market value, then you are going to have an insatiable demand from people who want to get something for nothing. That is the financial aspect.

I come now to the economic aspect. I do not propose to say much on that because it is one of the things that come within the purview of the Agricultural Commission now sitting. But I do say that the question of the part which large grazing and tillage farms should play in our agricultural policy is a question which the Agricultural Commission now sitting should necessarily consider and that the Government should await the report of that Agricultural Commission before they do anything which would prejudice the solution of that question on lines recommended by the commission. It is on record that the Banking Commission report recommended that we should bring to a full stop as soon as may be this uneconomic distribution of land at the taxpayers' expense. But I know that the recommendations of the Banking Commission are at a discount in this Assembly and that the Government not only flies in the face of one of the most important recommendations of the Banking Commission but also makes things impossible and queers the pitch for another commission now functioning. The Government is prejudging the question which would naturally fall to that commission to consider and report on.

In my view there is a very simple solution for the problem of landless men. It does not necessarily involve making the landless man a small holder. But it does involve making agricultural labourers of them at a wage which will, I hope, increase in the near future. What is it in the nation's mind that seems to regard the small holder's life as something idyllic, something to which we should take off our hats and, at the same time, regards the man who is working as a wage earner on the land as something below what a self-respecting man should be? In my opinion, the economic position of agricultural labourers, especially in the eastern parts of the country, is better than the economic position of the small holders, especially in the western counties. In my view, what we should aim at is to liberate the energies of the large farmers—tillage and grazing —and do everything possible to facilitate the expansion of production. By such expansion of production we are bound to increase the openings for agricultural labourers and for employment generally. In that way we will find an outlet for those landless men who now claim and want land for nothing. In my view, there is a clear solidity of interests between the wage-paid agricultural labourer and the large farmer, and if you are going to wipe out the large farmer you are going to do a serious disservice to the welfare of the agricultural labourer because you are going to destroy the only possible source from which agricultural employment for wages may be increased.

It may be beside the point, though not entirely, if I mention in passing that our policy in regard to agricultural wages seems to be somewhat difficult to understand. There is a minimum agricultural wage now, I believe, in the region of 27/- a week and the assumption is that every agricultural labourer who is worth anything is worth the fixed minimum wage and, presumably, that none of them is worth more than that. The best farmers tell me that they would rather pay more than the minimum wage to the best men they can get hold of but the worst, they think, are not worth the minimum wage. Because they have to pay the minimum wage to everybody, they probably find themselves unable to pay the kind of wage they would like to pay to the best workers. It is desirable that agricultural labourers should rise in the economic and social scale and that there should be legitimate avenues open to their ambition. To my mind, one avenue would be provided if we could encourage large scale farming, farming on holdings of 200 to 500 acres, so that you would have a development of different grades and different types of skill in agricultural labour. Agricultural labour, even in its most general aspect is a skilled occupation, and in the modern technique of agriculture, it is desirable that certain types of agricultural labour should be specialised for work on large scale farms employing 30 or 40 workers. On such farms it should not only be possible but certain, that many agricultural workers, employed in a specialised type of work, would obtain far more than the minimum wage. The possibility of rising to such a figure in the way of money income is something which would have a healthy stimulating effect on the mentality of agricultural labourers throughout the country. But if you destroy the large scale farm, you destroy the possibility of thus increasing the differentiation in agricultural labour and the increases in agricultural wages that are likely to come with it.

I find also a very prevalent notion that grass is one of the greatest inflictions that Providence ever inflicted on this country, that grass is a weed and that the farmer who is worth while is the man who is burying grass with his plough. Now, every farmer whether he occupies either grass land, good tillage land or indifferent land, knows perfectly well that grass is the most important crop of any kind we can grow in this country and that without grass we would be very poor indeed. I should not like to accuse people who deprecate the cultivation of grass of being possessed of a bovine intelligence because cattle, at any rate, have a good idea of the bovine value of grass.

A cow would break very quickly into a field of wheat, too.

People like that have not a bovine intelligence. Their intelligence is either super-bovine or sub-bovine.

Almost human.

Another point I should like to make is that it is possible with the proper exploitation of good grass farms, suitably allied with the various developments in live-stock production, to give greater employment and to produce a greater output of agricultural wealth than the same farm tilled, would produce. The development of intensive grass cultivation along these lines would do much to increase the productive capacity of our country. We want to make the best use of grass where it is available. We want to have hay for the winter keep of our cattle. We want to develop a method of preserving grass for the winter feeding by ensilage——

On a point of order, I think the Senator's speech is more of a lecture on economics than a discussion of this Bill.

Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Senator's statements are relevant to the Bill. The debate has a very wide scope.

I find a certain edge against grass farming in any shape or form. I do not deny that those who own good grass land, do not perhaps make as effective use of that land as they should in their own interests but is it not a policy of wisdom to do everything we can to remove every grievance which prevents them making the best use of that land in their own interest? If we hold over them the threat of confiscation, are we not likely to make them continue to use that land in the way that gives them the greatest immediate profit with the least permanent expenditure of capital?

Now, it has been said that on our large ranches, which it is the object of the Bill to confiscate, the only employment given is that afforded to the herd and his dog. On the face of it, I admit that it would appear that little employment arises from the use of land solely for the purpose of fattening bullocks, but even if the ranchers do not develop other aspects of agricultural economy, which would very greatly increase the employment of agricultural labour, even if they content themselves with feeding bullocks on that grass, is it not in the national interest that the largest possible number of their cattle should leave the country as fat bullocks at £20 each rather than leave the country as store cattle at £15 or less, each? Is it not also a fact that by finishing the greatest possible number of our cattle at home we help the economy of the small holders who live by rearing these cattle? Everyone knows that the country is, roughly, divisible into two areas: one in which the farmers breed more cattle than they can finish, and another in which ranchers, as well as tillage farmers, finish more cattle than they can breed. Consequently, there is an identity of interest between the small farmer in the Southwest who breeds cattle and the large farmer of the Midlands and the East who likes to finish more cattle than he can breed. So that the finishing of cattle, whether finished on grass or in the stalls, does provide an outlet and gives employment on the small farms in other parts of the country, even though it does not appear to give much employment on the ranches where they are finished. Besides, the movement of cattle from one region of the country to the other gives employment in the transport services, and we know how badly in need of employment our transport services have been in recent years. In the final analysis, you will find that the £20 every bullock returns goes, not to the pockets of the bloated rancher, but that some of it passes also into the pockets of the wage-earner in the transport services, to the labourer employed on the large farm and to the small holder from whom the bullock was first purchased.

There is another aspect of the matter emphasised in the report of the Banking Commission and that is that our export agricultural industry is directly related to the large farms in a more intimate fashion that it is to our small farms. If we cut up these grass farms, we are almost certain to diminish one of the most important of our agricultural exports with an effect on our sterling balances which you may contemplate if you wish. In my view —in fact it is a matter of elementary arithmetic—we can only hope to maintain our existing population in agriculture if we are in a position to expand our agricultural exports, because there are rigid limitations to the development of the home market for agricultural produce. We have had in recent years a process of redistribution of population between country and town, and the town population has considerably increased. That is hailed in certain quarters as an increase in the home market, but surely the home market can only increase in proportion as the total population at home increases, or in proportion as the standard of living of the total population at home increases. We have no evidence of any increase in total population, and any increase in the standard of living that may have taken place in the towns is far more than offset by the decrease in the standard of living that has taken place in the country. We are, therefore, up against rigid limitations in any effort to increase agricultural production for consumption by the non-agricultural community at home, but, from our point of view at any rate, there is a virtually unlimited possibility of an increase in production for export purposes. Therefore, we should be very careful as to any agricultural or other policy which may possibly react injuriously on our agricultural export capacity.

This policy is not a policy of to-day or yesterday. It has been going steadily now for six years or more, and it is quite possible, even at the present stage, to evaluate the results of that policy. One of the objects of the policy was to increase the quantity of land under the plough. Recent statistics show very clearly that the effort to increase the quantity of land under the plough has not been very successful, but there is no doubt about the success of the efforts to put agriculture itself under the harrow. We have, I think, created 14,000 additional small holders, and one would expect to see some increase in the physical output of our agriculture if this new economy is to be more productive as a whole than the old economy. I have in my pocket certain figures, emanating from an absolutely reliable source, which show conclusively that the physical output of our agriculture, both tillage and live stock, increased from 1926 to 1931, diminished from 1931 to 1933, increased from 1933 to 1935, remained at that peak in 1936, and since then has steadily and seriously diminished, so that, in 1938, the physical output of our agriculture is actually 2 per cent. less than it was in 1929, and this in spite of those 14,000 new small holders, who are presumably a terrific asset to the agricultural producers. In fact what we have been doing is abolishing 300 acre ranchers in order to make room for 30 acre ranchers. I do not blame those new allotment holders for being ranchers on a small scale, because it is a notorious fact that few of them have the capital necessary for the proper exploitation of their farms, and many of them have not perhaps the skill that they would need, but from a national point of view it is not economic to waste £600 per person of the taxpayers' money in order to turn 300 acre ranchers into 30 acre ranchers.

In the 18th century we had perhaps one of the vilest landlord systems imaginable. In those days a few owners of large estates let "chunks" of land to other people, who let smaller "chunks" of land to a third set of people, and, if ever a person having perhaps 50 or 100 acres and exploiting that 50 or 100 acres found himself in a position where he could live more comfortably and more lazily by sub-letting portion of his 50 or 100 acres to other small scale workers, he then proceeded to live on the surplus products of the people who were working for him, and ceased to work altogether, so that you had a whole series of surpluses along a whole hierarchy of land holders, and everybody but the people at the bottom was living on some form of unearned increment. That was the vice of the old 18th century land system, but are we not at present reproducing the same sort of vice, beginning at the lower end of the scale? A person put in possession of a 30-acre allotment, on which he pays an annuity which is only a fraction of the annuity he should pay if that annuity represented the full market value of the holding, has a differential value which he can realise for himself not by working that land but by the simple process of letting it to some neighbour who has cattle and who pays him a rent of £2 or £3 an acre. His total outgoings on that land are probably not more than £1 an acre, and he gets perhaps £2 or £3 an acre. Meanwhile, he lives a life of cultured ease, snaring rabbits and fishing.

If we want to increase the wealth of the nation we must begin with agriculture, and, if we want to expand agricultural production, instead of harrying the larger farmers off the face of the earth we should do everything in our power to liberate the energies of the large farmers, and adopt a more rational attitude to the part played by grass as well as tillage in our national economy. In particular, I would urge that, before we commit ourselves to a continuation of this foolish policy, we should await the report of the Agricultural Commission on this as well as on other questions.

The introduction of this Bill to my mind is due entirely to one thing. There would be no necessity for this Bill were it not for the fact that the land of this country was taken over by the landlords and their agents, and the unfortunate Irish had to clear out, lock, stock, and barrel, to make large farms for the landlords. Now, they object to the division of the land, which is necessary in order to put back on the land the descendants of those who were evicted in those days. They may make their minds easy on that point, because the land will be divided in this country, and we hope that every prospective farmer will get a holding sufficient to maintain himself, his wife, and his family.

Is that possible?

Quite so. Senator Quirke has asked for a definition of an economic holding. I say that an economic holding would be anything from 20 to 30 acres, that is provided the man is prepared to work that land, and is also prepared, as he should be, to employ labour on that land. It is strange to find that the value of land is so bad in the eyes of a good many. But, when it comes to the point of asking a farmer, especially a large farmer, to give a site for a labourer's cottage of about half an Irish acre, he asks for three times the price of that small plot and is very reluctant even at that to give it. He feels that the land is of no value; but when it comes to asking him to sell a portion of it, he asks for three times the price of it and does not want to part with it.

There is another complaint, that because of discouragement in working land we have very few marriages. I think that is not correct. I think we have more farmers getting married now than we had for a number of years. If they were slow in getting married, that is not the fault of the Government or of the land. I feel that the Government should insist on having the land of this country divided and giving it to men who are prepared to work it, making small farms economic. I do not believe that a man with three or four farms of land, spending most of his time, perhaps, enjoying the air of foreign countries, coming across here and speaking on behalf of farmers, is a man that should feel he was penalised. If a certain amount of that land was given to people who are going to work it he certainly has no grievance and the Government should take action to have that seen to. I welcome the Bill because I think that it is absolutely essential that the land should be distributed, and that immediately. We should put the land into cultivation. We heard a good deal this evening about grass. We used to condemn that a few years ago, but it appears from some statements made here this evening that we are going to get back again to the bullock and to grass. I hope we shall never see that day again.

I had not intended intervening in this debate, because for a good many years I felt satisfied that one of the things we have to do is to abolish the Land Commission. The function of the Land Commission is dividing the land. Now, in the 19th century, there was a social evil here that cried out for radical amendment. People think that, when a thing is done as being on the whole good, it is absolute good. The original division of land had bad elements in it. But what you do in any concrete case is: you weigh up the whole situation, consider various proposals, and accept the one which offers the greatest good and the least evil. Strictly speaking, the land in this country has been divided. When, after Land Acts dating from the late '70's to to-day, we are told that there are 500,000 hopeful applicants for land in the offing, and when a Senator gets up and says that every aspiring farmer must have land provided for him, I think that is talking a lot of nonsense. A Senator tells us that an economic farm is 20 or 30 acres. I do not think that anybody with a farm in this country of 20 acres would be wise to keep on that farm if he was offered a good job in a tariffed industry.

The truth is that this country at one time had vast single owners. There was a rule here which was a sort oflatifundia—men owning vast quantities of land and denying elementary rights to the tenants on them. Land Acts were brought in to solve the social evil that resulted from that. The revolution of the Land Acts must, to my mind, be regarded now as accomplished. We are, year after year, bringing in more Land Bills to give the Land Commission more drastic powers to seize land from those who own it and give it to those who do not. We must anticipate that we are going to reach a time when the demand will not be for making farms smaller; the demand is going to be for making farms bigger. If we have any aspiration to decent conditions in this country, we are going to arrive at a time when the Senator will not say “That man is quite all right living on 20 acres”. I do not know whether he would agree to do it himself. I do not think anyone would. We must look to the time when people will demand a higher standard than is provided by a miserable 20 acres of land. We talk as though you could manufacture land—that there was an unlimited amount left. The land in this country has been already, I would say, over-divided.

What is a rancher? A rancher is anybody who owns more land than you do. The man with a holding of £5 valuation thinks the man with a holding of £10 valuation is a rancher. The man with the holding of £10 valuation says he is not a rancher, but that the man with a holding of £15 valuation is a rancher. "Rancher" is a word that everybody applies to anybody who has more land than he has.

The Minister, in his opening statement, has been very generous in standing for the rights of ownership and said that, in certain conditions, certain farmers would be allowed to retain their land provided they worked it as the Government think they ought to work it. That is a denial of ownership. Ownership involves two things. It involvespotestas procurandi et dispensandi. If I own a field, that ownership implies that I decide what is going to be grown on it, and that I decide what is going to be done with the material when it is grown. We have an attitude—it has historical roots— which assumes that anybody who owns land in any quantity should not own it; but that anybody who does not own land has a right to the land that is owned by somebody else. I think that point of view is going to continue as long as we have this situation where every one of us is sitting down hoping that the Government is going to come along to confiscate the land of our neighbour and distribute it amongst us. The Land Acts undoubtedly wrought the greatest social revolution and the most beneficial revolution in the history of this country. People will say: “Look at the revolutionary change that was wrought for our people by the Land Act of 1903.” But you cannot go on doing that for ever. The men who were tenants were made annuity payers. Now their land is being taken and sub-divided again. It is just getting down to the condition of a slum. There was a time in the 18th century when we had big Georgian houses. We went on subdividing them until we got a slum problem there.

The life and the activities of the Land Commission ought necessarily to be recognised as distinctly limited. They are limited by the fact that the land of the country is limited.

Senator MacCabe spoke of a threat to get back to grass. There is no getting back to grass. We have remained with grass. When I say "grass," I mean mixed farming. The late Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Hogan, was described as Minister for grass. He wanted the people to graze their beasts and to till their land, to provide the feeding stuffs for the beasts. When the Senator talks about getting back to grass, what does he mean? I suppose he means the wheat subsidy scheme. Instead of growing wheat for the subsidy, as well as the other futile schemes that were brought in by the Government, the man who gets back to natural economic farming, which, ordinarily is mixed farming, does not want to abolish tillage, because mixed farming provides food for beasts. The opposite to that is wheat, which can only be grown with a subsidy. Everyone in this country is living on charity. If a man is going to have dignity from labour, he must feel that he is conferring a benefit on the people, his primary motive being to provide for himself and his family. He produces something that is useful to the people, something which he can sell and then get other things. What is the position of a farmer growing wheat? He knows that by using his land for the growing of wheat, he not only impoverishes the land, but is imposing a burden on fellow-citizens, because by using his land for growing wheat, the Government has to tax people, who are the real producers, in order to pay him a price that he would not otherwise get. The cost of what he produces is above its real value to the people who would buy it.

This idea that everybody in the country can live by taking in one another's washing is absurd. This country has to import. The real and the only effective producers are the people who are able to produce under an economy which enables them to export. No one can suggest that we are going to grow wheat for export. What a disaster it would be if we did. It would mean that we would be taxed in order to sell things abroad at a price lower than the cost of production. I hope we will live to see the day when there will be no more Land Acts, when men who own land will really own it, and when men who want to own land, but do not own it, will get it in the same way as we get everything else, and that is by buying it in the public market. We cannot calculate the value of land. The Department purports to buy at the market value, but that market value is affected and defined by the fact that the Department is operating. No one can say what the price of a 30 or 100 acre farm would be, if the Land Acts ceased to operate. With all the aspirants to ownership of land, I think I am not misrepresenting the case when I say that the experience of the Land Commission has been that, when they divided land to make uneconomic farms economic, it was generally successful. That is to say, they made available to men who were already farmers certain additional land.

I am subject to correction, but I think the general experience of giving land to farm labourers has not been successful. One can understand that there is psychological reason for that. A farm labourer living in the country knows that on Saturday night he will get his money and he arranges the economy of his life on that. If his money comes to an end on Thursday, he has to live until Saturday when he will draw his pay again. I think very often the experience of the Department has been that when that man is suddenly transferred to the position of owner, he can look around and say: "This is mine." When he takes his beasts to market to sell them, he has more money in his pocket than before and his economy is changed. He had not the long experience of the man who was traditionally a farmer or of the prices he got for beasts. I think the giving of land to farm labourers has been much less successful in operation than giving land to men who were actually farmers. The Senator who spoke last said that farmers with 20 acres were not getting married. Presumably, a farmer with 20 acres is going to have a number of sons. Are they all going to get married? What are they to do? Are they to come into the towns and get jobs in tarriffed industries?

Was not that always the case?

What was always the case is not an answer. St. Columbanus once said to the Pope: "Error may claim antiquity but it is none the less error." I want to see the position when people will not have to live on a 20-acre farm. I think the whole force of circumstances is going to lead to this within our lifetime, that we will see the whole movement in this country one for larger and not smaller farms.

As to the outcry against ranchers, how many acres makes a man a rancher? Why the outcry against grass farmers? There might be something to be said about that. We must examine the economy. A country could be divided into 20 acre farms, and the men on them might try to raise more cattle than the individual farms would provide for. Instead of sending the cattle to be completed on what they call grass farms, they would then go to England. I would not undertake to examine the economy of that, whether it is better naturally that beasts to some extent should be finished on these grass farms, so that we could come to look with envy on the prosperity of the men who owned grass farms, or whether it would be better that the beasts at a certain stage should go to England, where the people would make the profits, and where we would not see the beasts. That might eliminate that large element of envy that comes so much into land schemes. It might be better spiritually not to have that occasion for envy. I am not at all sure that it would be better for us economically. It is time we faced up to it. I know that land could be pointed to that could conceivably be divided, but it may be said that the whole process of substantial land division has already taken place. Anything done now is merely the tag-end.

The sooner we do away with the division of land the better. We must, ultimately, face the situation in which people will demand that their farms should be bigger. We have it already. The flocking from the country into the towns is symptomatic that the people are not satisfied with conditions on the land, and a great many of us would not blame them. Any one who knows the country will agree that if he had to opt between a nice job in a tariffed industry, and eking out a living on a 20-acre farm, he would take a comfortable job with guaranteed holidays, limited hours and minimum wages. I would opt for the tariffed job. Fortunately, we have the tradition of agriculture, and I think it is only that tradition that keeps it going. You will find that a countryman who comes into a town settles down and is satisfied. There are many unemployed in Dublin, many of them drawing the dole, and while we may say that our hearts bleed for these people, in their unfortunate position in not being able to get employment, if we said to them: "We will give you jobs as labourers on the land," or "we will give you small-sized holdings," I do not think they would jump at the offer.

The condition of townsmen in the modern world, and in Ireland is, unfortunately, better, more comfortable, and more prosperous than the position of those working hard on the land. I want to see conditions on the land improved. I do not think they will be improved by the continual process of sub-dividing. There was a time when it was considered quite normal that there should be in a district a man or two with farms of 300 acres. Now, as far as I can see, with the Fianna Fáil policy for farming, the idea of a man having 300 acres immediately raises a demand that land belonging to him should be taken and given to someone else. What we should recognise is that the Land Acts were brought in to solve certain crucial social problems in the 19th century and carried on through the years into the 20th century. That problem at some stage must be recognised as solved and that process of division must come to an end and we ought to make up our minds on that point.

Speeches like that made by Senator McCabe would give the idea that the assumption is that always the land must be divided and divided and, as the farms get smaller, even the smaller farms will have to be divided. Certain aspects of this Bill may be necessary for certain legal reasons, but the moment we have a Land Bill introduced we have speeches demanding more and more division of land. Any body who is a representative of the people knows well that his correspondence largely consists of people wanting other people's land divided. We are not going to have a stabilised, satisfactory condition in this country until we have reached the situation when no more land is being divided and when the acquisition of land is going to result from an ordinary commercial transaction, and not from imposing an additional burden upon the taxpayers and making the recipients of land more or less the recipients of charity.

I totally disagree with the sentiments expressed by Senator McCabe regarding the sub-division of land into economic holdings of 20 acres. When land is being divided, I think it would be far better to give some more land to the man who is trying to eke out a living on 20 acres and bring his holding to 30 acres and, if possible, 40 acres. What strikes me most forcibly, when it comes to a question of the sub-division or confiscation —call it what you like—of land, is that what is sauce for the goose is never sauce for the gander. We hear a lot of talk here about ranches and ranchers. It happens that the Government are the biggest ranchers in this country. I do not say that all the land that is vested in the Government is vested in the Minister for Lands. Some of it may come under different Departments, such as the Department of Defence, and so on; but a great deal of it is agricultural land that could be used for division.

I take it that one of the reasons why this land was not divided up to 1936 or 1938 was that under the original Constitution the Government were debarred, from parting with any land which was vested in them, except on a 99 years' lease. Under the present Constitution there is no such bar. I refer in particular to certain estates that this and the previous Government inherited from the British Government and so far there has been no attempt to sub-divide these estates in order to alleviate the land hunger we are always hearing about.

The object of all land agitation in this country, from the word "Go" was to secure the vesting of the land in the Irish farmer. That was accomplished by the various Land Acts, winding up with the Land Act of 1903. The three F's, fixity of tenure fair rent and a free sale, were established. It appears to me that we had to wait for a native Government to blow two of the three F's sky-high. Fixity of tenure has gone and free sale has gone. Fair rent, so far, remains, but as to how long the one remaining F will be left there, nobody can say. The Minister, of course, will assure this House, and he has already assured it, that he will act, with his Department, in a reasonable way.

Every Minister who comes into this House gives the same assurance. So far, these assurances have been kept, but surely the Minister must realise that when he is legislating, he is legislating not only for the present-day conditions, but he must legislate with a view to what may possibly happen in the future, when he is not here to keep his pledge, and the Party he represents are not in office to keep the pledge he has given.

It seems to me that this kind of legislation, whereby a House of the Oireachtas is informed that such and such a thing is in the Bill but it is never intended to operate, is, on the face of it, sloppy and slack legislation and should not be tolerated. The farmers of this country, so far as I have met them in my part of the country, regard this Bill as a nail in the coffin of fixity of tenure and that will ultimately result in complete economic chaos in the agricultural industry. I appeal to the Minister to scrap this Bill and scrap all his Land Bills and to take the opportunity, now that this land problem is being dealt with, to simplify the land laws by putting them in a codified form.

Sixteen years ago, when Senator Counihan and Senator Sir John Keane were fighting the landlords, I was probably digging turf, and so I feel it presumptuous on my part to enter into a debate with men of such calibre. I also listened to Senator Baxter with a good deal of pleasure and I agree with some of the things he said. While he was speaking, I noticed there were only two members of his own Party in the House and I think that was a reflection on the intelligence of Senator Baxter.

I feel, in discussing this Land Bill, we should have a little bit more information as to the success or failure of the scheme so far. I have not had time to see any of the estates and ascertain what the results are. I have not seen a report of any kind which would indicate to me what way the schemes are working out. I feel that the success or failure of the land division schemes will entirely hinge on the quality of the people placed on the land. If the wrong type of people are given the land it will result in failure, and if the right type of people are given the land it will be successful.

In acquiring the land, there are two or three things to be considered. I think the first thing is that the owner should get a fair price; the second thing is that the allottees should get the land at an economic rent, and the third thing is that, in all this work, consideration should be had for the community in general and they should not be asked to foot too heavy a bill.

Statements have been made here, and possibly in the other House, to the effect that this Bill aims at confiscation, plunder and robbery. I myself think that, in many cases, in this country, it is not a hardship, but a charity, to take land from some of the people who hold it. Now, on this question of the value of land and the price the owners get, I do not know the exact procedure, but I do think that an owner should have the right of appeal to a tribunal of practical people, if he is not satisfied with the price he is being offered. Academic inspectors may err upwards or downwards, and armchair theorists are not the type of people with whose judgment I, myself, would be satisfied. I should like to see two or three practical farmers attached to whatever tribunal would ultimately fix the price the owner of the land should get.

The point has been made here that ranches are not inseparable from the live-stock industry of this country. I have as much respect for the live-stock industry of this country as any man in this House. Perhaps, I am as large a stock-producing farmer as there is in the South of Ireland, but I do not agree that the ranches, as they are being run at the present time, are a necessary adjunct of the live-stock trade. Ranching and big-scale farming seem to be confused a good deal in people's minds, but it must be remembered that big-scale farming is one thing and that ranching is a very different thing altogether. One sees ranch lands in this country at the present time which one could hardly imagine being permitted in any State at this hour of the day. Now, grass land can be made very effective and can be a good and healthy thing for the nation, but ranching, as it is practised in this country in many places, is a disgrace. There has been a good deal of talk about big-scale farming and small-scale farming, but there is this much to be said in favour of small-scale holdings, and that is that a man, probably, will work twice as hard when he is working for himself as when he is working for an employer. On the other hand, it has been proved that mass production in industries has given better results and has resulted in more employment than has been the case in a number of small industries. That theory is being accepted now with regard to agriculture as well as with regard to other industries.

I do not pretend to speak for all the farmers of this country. Nobody, I think, could do that. I am simply giving my own opinion for what it is worth. I think that this Land Bill is a step in the right direction, but a lot will depend on how the Bill is administered. I have not come across any of the Land Commission officials, but I have come across a good many of the officials in other Departments, and I must say that 90 per cent. of them are excellent and efficient people, but, occasionally, there is a black sheep, and I could imagine a black sheep of the Land Commission coming along and doing a lot of harm in connection with the administration of this Bill. There are other countries, it must be remembered, engaged in the distribution of land, just as we are engaged in it, although, perhaps, in a different way. Take Holland, for example. In that country they have taken 500,000 acres from the Zuyder Zee, at a cost of £200 an acre, and they distributed that in 150-acre parcels. In that country, however, they are most particular as to the type of person to whom that land is given. His ancestry is inquired into, his life history will be examined into—even the life history of his womenfolk is inquired into—and if he is not a person of thrift and industry, or a person that is not likely to make good on the land, no land will be given to him.

I do not think there is any need for alarm amongst the practical working farmers of this country in connection with this Bill. Of course, we will read, in to-morrow's newspapers, blaring headlines about this iniquitous Land Bill, but I believe that no man who works his land as it ought to be worked need have any fear of the results of the passing of this Bill. As a matter of fact, if there was any danger, I, probably, would be one of the first whose funeral would take place. We had an assurance from the Minister, when he was speaking in the other House—and I am sure we shall have the same assurance from him here —that no injustice will be done to owners of land. I should like, however, to say that, in my opinion, the vesting of land in the new allottees should not take place until about 20 years. We all know that a good many people like to get something for nothing, and no doubt there are many people in this country who would like to get something for nothing, and who would like to be put in a position to dispose of that land, at the expense of the rest of us, at the end of five or six or seven years. That is a thing that should be forbidden in connection with this Land Bill.

We have heard something about fixity of tenure and about the destruction of the credit of the agricultural community. My view is that it was the banks of this country that destroyed the credit of the farmers. They dished out money in unlimited quantities during the boom years of the Great War, but when the slump came they pulled it in. Now, I say that the banking institutions of this country are well and efficiently run, and I believe that they should now restore the credit which they, and they alone, destroyed. If we had a Cromwell in this country, who would go out and conquer a neighbouring country, there would be no need for this Land Bill, or if we had a Columbus who would go out and discover another America, there would be no need for this Land Bill; but since we have neither the one nor the other I think we are quite safe in embarking on this land division scheme.

Debate adjourned.