Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Seanad Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 13 Jul 1939

Vol. 23 No. 5

Land Bill, 1938—Second Stage (resumed).

In the course of this debate previous speakers have referred to a number of matters with which I would like to deal. On the question of land purchase as a whole, there are a few points with which I would like to deal very briefly. In the first place, it has been suggested that the Land Commission is responsible for the stoppage of credit to farmers. That cannot be, because the small farmers about whom there is no question of their land being resumed by the Land Commission have no more credit than the larger farmers. The fact is that agriculture does not pay. Another objection raised was in connection with fixity of tenure. Now, we must all recognise that in these times there is no question of fixity of tenure in land. Everything is subject to the law of necessity, but I should say that for the great mass of farmers there is no danger as to their fixity of tenure. Senator Baxter used very strong arguments regarding the division of land in Meath and in other counties. He used arguments which on the face of them were fairly strong. One argument was that in Cavan and in the poorer counties in the West the people had to depend largely on the rearing of cattle. He then went on to say that these cattle have to be sold to the farmers in the rich counties, and from that he argued that if we took the land from the farmers in the Eastern Counties there would be no market for the cattle raised by the farmers in the poorer counties.

If we follow that argument to its logical conclusion we would see that it would mean that the population would be retained on the poor and barren parts of the country and that the rich lands must be left to the support of cattle. That is the logical conclusion of these arguments. But I do not believe that Senator Baxter's fears would be borne out as regards the position of the people in the poorer counties. We must remember that the people in Cavan had always to depend largely, not on crops, but on cattle rearing. During the economic war their market was closed to them for three or four years. Yet these people survived the economic war better than the people in the rich lands. I am quite satisfied that if the lands in the Eastern and richer parts were divided and there was no market for cattle in these rich areas the people in the poorer areas would adjust their economy as they did in the time of the economic war. Senator Johnston's argument was that it was unwise to break up the larger farms. He gave reasons which on the face of them appear to be strong. I suppose we would all agree that crops can be produced more cheaply by mass production. But against that we must remember that we are primarily concerned with people not with the production of food and cattle.

We know that modern machinery and mass production will give a bigger return than can be obtained by working smallholders. Still, if you take a 200-acre farm and divide it into five 40-acre farms it will be at once seen what a difference there will be. There would be five families planted there in ideal conditions, tilling and working their own land. That is a very much more desirable thing, from everybody's point of view, than to have those men working as farm labourers for somebody else or having the land grazed by cattle. If we could achieve the ideal of peasant proprietorship, as it is understood in other countries, that is, the creation of farms on which the whole work of the farm would be carried out by the families occupying them, as against what we might call factory farms, it would go a long way to solve this problem. What we should aim at is the farm of about 40 acres which will provide for a large family.

I must say, as an advocate of land division, an enthusiastic advocate of land division, that I do not at all agree with the general conduct of land division nor have I ever agreed to it. I do not agree with the procedure both as regards the acquisition and distribution of land. I am afraid that the three Governments which attempted land division in this country—the British Government, the previous Government and the present Government—were not getting full value for the expenditure which has been made on land division, nor do I believe that the procedure employed has ever attained the real object, that is, planting the greatest possible number of people on the land. The first objection I have to urge against the present procedure—it may not apply so forcibly in other areas as in the Southern counties, where the land is rich and the annuities high—is that when land is acquired the owners do not get a just price. That is due to the procedure followed by the Land Commission in valuing land. I understand that the land has to be valued on the basis of what the letting value would be to the Land Commission. That is in itself clearly unjust. The value of land is the price that it would fetch if it were put upon the market. There is no doubt about that.

Another reason why the owner does not get a fair price for the land is the practice of the Land Commission in redeeming the land annuities out of the value fixed upon the land, leaving the owner with much less than the actual market value. There was always a value on land. Even before the farms were ever purchased in the old landlord days, land, in our part of the country, realised as much as £20 or £25 per Irish acre. To-day that land should be worth much more than £25 or £30 per acre, but according to the Land Commission system of valuation, with the redemption of the annuities, it would not realise half of that. One result of the under-valuation of land is that most of the land which is changing hands in the course of time is never acquired by the Land Commission. It simply passes from one large owner to another, often at a very low price and the Land Commission gets only a very small portion of the land that is available, with the result that there is not sufficient land for division.

I think land division is one of the questions on which there should be unanimity amongst all parties. It is one of the things on which we really could agree. We believe that the Ireland of the future will be a far greater and more prosperous country than it is at present, and we should do everything in our power to lay the foundations of that more prosperous Ireland. The shortest way to lay these foundations is to plant the people on the land. There is no question about it, that those who say that the work of land division has been completed do not understand the situation. We must understand the factors which brought about the necessity for creating the Land Commission and for land acquisition and replantation. We are all familiar with the confiscations which took place in the 16th century, when our people were banished from the rich lands to the poorer lands of the West. That left a permanent problem of congestion in the West. In the East, apparently, it had been repaired, because at the time of the famine the country was covered with small holdings. After the famine most of these small holdings were deserted, and were absorbed into larger holdings. Later on these farms were converted into ranches by the landlord. Another thing which contributed to the desertion of the countryside was the over-development of the cattle trade. With the repeal of the Corn Laws in England, landowners found that it paid them better to put cattle on the land than to till it, and the result was that a large number of small farms were merged in larger farms. That process of amalgamation is going on even at the present day. Even some of the lands already divided by the Land Commission are in process of going back into larger farms because of the over-development of the cattle trade.

This is a question that should be faced in a non-Party spirit. We should all unite to see that the greatest possible number of people are placed on the land. If we examine the question in that light, there are some points on which we must agree. We must agree that it is right that the people should be re-planted on the land. We must agree that it is necessary for that purpose that the greatest possible area of land should be placed at the disposal of the Government for distribution. We should agree also that the owner of the land is entitled to a fair price. After all, the owners of the land are not responsible for the development of those large farms, which have been created by the slow growth of economic conditions over many years. They are all our own people, and we should give them fair play. The owner is entitled to a fair price. The person to whom that land is given is also entitled to get it at a price which he can pay. There remains a gap between the price to be paid to the man from whom the land is being bought and the price which is to be charged to the man to whom it is to be given. Undoubtedly, there will be a gap between what the owner will get and what the allottee will pay if he gets it at a fair rent. That is the crux of the whole situation. We must recognise that it is the business of the community to bridge that gap. It is not the business of the individual farmer to provide land for the relief of congestion. It is the community that will benefit in the long run by the division of land, and, therefore, the community must be prepared to make some contribution towards it.

In 1903 a statesmanlike effort was made by the English Government to reconcile two elements in this country that were previously regarded as irreconcilable—the landlord interest and the farmer interest—and the British Government at that time succeeded in reconciling these interests. They bought out the landlord class in the country and settled the farmer in possession of the land. That was done by general consent and general agreement, and with the goodwill of everybody at the time. Can we not do the same to-day? Can we not complete land division in Ireland with the same goodwill? I hope we can. I would suggest that we would approach the question in a big way, not by these piecemeal methods that have been tried from the very start. I would suggest that the Government should obtain the greatest possible area for division, as far as possible in one operation. They should then divide the land in one operation, as far as possible, and so have the work of land division closed finally.

What I would suggest is that during, say, a three years' period the Government should agree to pay a cash bonus of 5 per cent. or 10 per cent. on all voluntary sales to the Land Commission. There should also be some independent tribunal to fix the value of land because it varies in every county. It requires a knowledge of local conditions to enable one accurately to determine the value of land in any given locality. I think the value should first of all be determined by some local body or arbitration court, subject of course to a right of appeal. I think that during that three years' period there should be a suspension of the right of private sale, because otherwise there would be an artificial inflation of the value of land, and it could not be obtained for division. With the Government and the community in general agreeing on the question of a fair price for the land, there is no doubt that the surplus land could be obtained for the purpose of division. You would get nearly all those outside farms which are held by people who are not really farmers, and who have really no desire to hold them. In addition, the great majority of farmers are short of capital at the present time, and the farmer with 60 to 100 acres would be very glad to dispose of 30 or 40 of those acres at a reasonable price.

I do believe that, if we gave a chance to the system of voluntary purchase, it would be quite possible to acquire say 1,000,000 Irish acres of really good land for division, and with that 1,000,000 acres, giving good-sized economic holdings of say 20 Irish acres, we could provide 50,000 holdings right away.

The thing is quite possible. There is no reason at all why it should not be done. I would ask the House to realise what 50,000 additional holdings would mean to us. It would mean 250,000 people provided for. I know the question of cost will be raised. Advances would be necessary, and most of them would eventually have to be repaid. The advances could not amount to much less than £30,000,000, but we must remember that long before the war the British Government agreed to an advance of over £100,000,000. The figure may seem staggering. It was suggested at one time that the cost of housing in Dublin might eventually amount to something like £20,000,000 and we must bear in mind the difference between providing a man with a house and providing him with an economic holding of land. When you provide a man with a house costing say £700, you are simply providing him with shelter, and he must have an income from an outside source, but when you provide a man with a farm of 20 acres of good land you are giving him a means of livelihood for both himself and his family for all time, and you are creating an asset which will be producing for perhaps hundreds of years to come.

I would ask that we approach this question in a proper spirit, and I would ask the Minister to look into the points I have raised, because I feel it is time to get away from the squabbling spirit in which we approach those matters. We should all co-operate with one another, because there is no doubt that, once we study this question, it is one on which we all can agree. In anything else that may be undertaken, mistakes may be made, and things may be done which will subsequently have to be undone, but when you create an economic holding of land you are doing something that you are sure need never be undone.

A Chathaoirligh, although this Bill was described as a machinery Bill, and seemed to have nothing to do with me, I could not listen to the debate without feeling that a most important aspect of it had been overlooked, and, being a woman, I had to say something about it. To make the division of land a success, and to get our people profitably settled on the land, one thing is necessary— that we should have a proper supply of good farmers' wives. Somebody asked what was an economic holding. I would say that an economic holding, whatever the size of it, is one on which the farmer has a good wife. That woman, whether the farm is small or large, will make it a success. I know what I am talking about, because the part of the country I come from is one of small farms. The people lived well and comfortably on those farms because there were some splendid women on them. I am not talking about myself. No farmer would marry me; I had to go and look for a Westerner. Those people were comfortable, reared their families well, and gave them a good education. I think, therefore, it is most important that this aspect of the matter should be considered.

It is not a question of money alone; it is a question of preparation. We must prepare our people for farm life, and the women, who will train the children, will have a large part in it. It seems to me that what is wanted in this country—it was very common in my young days—is the habit of industry—subsidiary industry. I have been reading an extraordinarily interesting book about France, published recently. It is called, Reasons for France. It shows how France, in spite of the revolutions, in spite of repeated attacks from outside enemies, was able to survive. The writer of it, looking for the answer to the question as to how France managed to survive, went to the countryside and found that in all the farms—they are much smaller farms than ours—they had some sort of subsidiary traditional craft. I think that should be developed to a large extent in this country. Our people have great skill in handicraft. We know that when the boys were in jail they produced a great many articles of extraordinary artistic value—rings, carvings and things like that.

I do not see why that skill should not be developed in our schools. We hear a lot about reforms: we must begin with reformation of education, both for men and women. The craftmanship which we really possess and which is traditional with us should be developed in our homes. Markets could be found for those articles without any great difficulty. Apart from that, in every home the woman's work is important. In her hands lies the development of the egg trade, and for people who live near the towns there is a good market for vegetables, honey, flowers, and so on. In Galway the country people make a good lot of money on those things. It is quite easily done, but, as I say, it all begins and ends with the woman.

I rise to protest against the statement made by Senator Baxter as to the migration of people from the West of Ireland to land in Meath. I should like to urge on the Minister that he should continue that good work. If Senator Baxter read the report in regard to that migration scheme he would see that there were 90 holdings provided under that Gaeltacht scheme, and that on these 90 holdings there are 600 persons. The Senator tells us: "If you divide the land, all is gone. There will be no more employment. But if you leave the big tracts of land, the big farmers will give more employment." Sir John Keane tell us: "Run your farms like we run our cement factory; get in up-to-date machinery." If you are going to get in up-to-date machinery I do not see where you are going to have the employment. Both things clash, to my mind.

One of the difficulties in the West, particularly in the thickly populated areas in Connemara, is that we have not sufficient land to divide amongst the people. Senator Baxter stated that the people who are migrating to Meath are not using the Irish language and are dancing English dances.

I do not believe that. Years ago some of our people had to cross the Atlantic and work for years in America. I saw some of these people when they came home and they had the Irish traditions and the Irish language just the same as the day they left. So that the fact of people going to Meath and being near Dublin would not have the effect that Senator Baxter would like us to believe. Even if we admit that what he says is correct, there is one redeeming feature, that the lands vacated in the Gaeltacht are of great value for the enlargement of neighbouring uneconomic holdings and preserving the Gaelic culture under improved conditions in its native surroundings. That is one redeeming feature anyway. Even if people brought to Meath become Anglicised, we are putting the people who are living at home into a more economic position so that they can bring up their families and have not, as in the past, to send them to America.

There are a number of holdings, as the Minister knows, in County Galway yet to be divided. Before this Bill passes through the Seanad I hope that the Minister will have another look through it with his advisers so as to make sure that he can do the things he expects the Bill will enable him to do. If not, he should come to us and we will amend it to give him the necessary powers, so that the work of the Land Commission will not be held up for another few years. Senator Sir John Keane tells us that he is going to alarm people who are about to invest in land. There has been nothing but alarms both here and in the Dáil for the past few months. Some day we should have a motion put down to decide whether future legislation in this country is going to be based on the Constitution or on the Banking Commission's Report.

Another point I want to make is in reference to housing in rural areas. I have an idea which I should like to see the Government put into practice. I believe that the Land Commission should be responsible for all rural housing—that is Gaeltacht housing and that the Local Government Department should be only responsible for housing in urban areas. I think that there is a great overlapping of services. In the Gaeltacht at present we have the Land Commission doing their work, we have the Gaeltacht services doing their housing work, and we have the grants from the Local Government Department. All these Departments have their own inspectors and there is a differentiation in grants as between different people. I want to make a few suggestions with regard to that. There are a number of houses in the rural areas which are as bad as any to be found in the slum areas in our towns.

That is only to be expected when you have small farmers trying to eke out an existence. Despite what Senator Baxter wants us to believe, these small farmers have usually very large families. A small farmer in that position cannot afford to erect a new house. Even if the Land Commission were prepared to advance the money the man could not afford to make the repayments. In a case like that, I think the Land Commission should erect a house for the man and add the repayments on to his annuity.

Then there is another suggestion. The Land Commission at present have power to give a loan to a man who is receiving a grant from the Local Government Housing Department. The loan in these cases cannot be given, according to the regulations, until the chimney of the old house is knocked down. The man really wants the money to enable him to erect the house, and it is not of much service to him when the house is already erected and he is living in it. It may be said, of course, that the money will pay off the debts he has incurred. I suggest that half the loan should be made available to the man when the house is roofed, just as the Local Government Department do with the housing grant. As a matter of fact, I think a better system still could be adopted, and that is, that the applicant should authorise the Land Commission to pay the money to the contractor and to the merchants who supplied the material. I think that would speed up housing in rural areas. Senator Counihan stated that there was a great hullabaloo all over the country about land division, and that any day you took up the Order Paper for the Dáil you saw questions put down asking why this farm and that farm was not taken over. If we go back over the Order Papers for the last few years I think it will be found that these questions were not all in the names of Fianna Fáil Deputies.

I do not say that.

I know a Deputy from the West, who came up here last week or the week before, and voted against this Land Bill which enables the Minister to divide land. On the very night that he returned he gathered a number of his supporters together, and told them: "Now that the Land Bill has passed through the Dáil, we will have the land divided, and I will do my best for you."

I am rather reluctant to intervene at this late hour, as we have discussed this Bill from every angle; but there were some amazing statements made at the beginning of the debate, and I feel that I must say something. We were told by one Senator this evening that many farmers desired to have the landlords back. I am very doubtful about that. If there are such people, I am very doubtful if they have lived very long in this country. I am quite sure that no Irish farmer whose people have been long on the land or who heard anything about landlordism has any desire to have it back. Surely you cannot imagine that anyone who knows anything about the pre-Land League days of 70 years ago, when farmers did not know the day or the hour they could call their land their own, wants the landlords back. If they had a decent suit of clothes, or if they made any improvements in their homes, they were put out unless they agreed to pay exorbitant rents, and even by agreeing to pay them they were still dependent on the whim of landlords. Looking back, I do not think that any section of the community regrets the passing of landlordism. It was truly said that their disappearance was unwept and unhonoured. I am amazed that any one should suggest that farmers want the landlords back.

Reference was made to what was called confiscation. The land of Ireland was confiscated on two or three different occasions. I am glad that since 1923 we have been able to re-confiscate it for the people. That is what we have been doing. There has been a good deal of talk about the Banking Commission's Report. We were told that the report considered we should stop the acquisition of land for uneconomic holders. I read a book recently by a man who had done a good deal for agriculture, especially on the co-operative side, and he dealt with the suggestion in the Banking Commission Report that housing should be held up. If he had his way with those who made that suggestion, the author said, he would make them go and live in the slums for three years. I would like to do the same thing with people on the Banking Commission who suggested holding up the acquisition of land by sending them to live on uneconomic holdings in some of the worst land on the hills. I am sorry Senator Baxter is not in the House now.

Thank God, he is not.

I would prefer he were here. We all know that one-third of the population is living on poor land. As far as I could follow the reasoning of Senator Baxter, he suggested that they should remain on the poor land for the purpose of raising bullocks or cattle to be sent to the grazing lands of Meath or other counties. I do not think anyone visualises an Ireland of that type. We want to take the people off the bad land. Why did we fight for freedom and self-government if it was not for the purpose of undoing confiscation and putting the people back on the land? We were told that there is not enough land to go around.

I agree. But there is still a good deal of land available for this purpose, and we can go as far as we are able with it. It was truly said that one-third of the people are living on three-fourths of the land, and that the other three-fourths live on one-fourth. That should not be allowed in any country. On the other hand, we are told there is a flight from the land. Probably it is often a flight owing to the want of land. I agree with Senator O'Dwyer that we could increase the amount of land necessary for sub-division without unduly interfering with anybody. I say that we could put from 20,000 to 50,000 people on the land. We should try to plant as many as we can on it. We were also told that the population is decreasing. Only that there has been so much done in the last few years, probably, the population would be less. It is no argument to say that if people are to be kept in the country, and if the best is to be got out of them, they will have to be kept on the land.

We had a great deal of talk about large and small farms. I take issue with anyone who says that the bigger farms give most employment. I know something about that side of the question because I have practical knowledge of it. Senator Baxter said that in Tipperary they had large farms. In County Wicklow there are big farms, but the majority of the people are living on small farms, because they were driven to the hills at one period, and they are there still. I say that a man with 70, 80 or 120 acres, who really works his land, gives employment, while the vast majority of those with 200 acres and more do not give employment. I have personal knowledge of that, as I am looking at land every day. While the position in the counties differ, it is hard to know what is an economic holding. It depends largely on the quality of the land. What is the maximum or the minimum amount of land that a man should hold?

Are we going to visualise an Ireland where we will have one person with 1,000 acres employing probably only one man with a dog, while in other counties there will be men with 200 or 300 acres, but they till them by mechanical means and give practically no employment. How do we expect to keep people on the land if that is to be the future policy. We might as well face the issue. I contend that we can put many more people on the land.

It is reassuring to hear from Senator O'Callaghan that he has no fears regarding his security of tenure. I do not like throwing bouquets, but we all recognise Senator O'Callaghan as one of the most practical and most successful farmers in the country. If a man like him says he has not the slightest fear in that respect I do not think that any farmer need worry. The Senator was right when he said that those who talked about the value of land, but who never lived on a farm or who had other means of livelihood, got mixed up between farms that are worked and grazing ranches. There is a great difference. We heard a great deal about the want of security in land, and I was glad when Senator O'Callaghan pointed out that security was first undermined by the banks during the Great War, when they simply drove their customers into competition with one another for farms. The banks created the situation that has existed ever since. Then the depression came, and when farms that were bought during the inflation period came to be sold, in a great many cases no one would bid for them. That is the result of the situation the banks created. I urge the Minister to continue with his work. I speak as one who owns a fair share of land, and I am quite satisfied that the security is as safe in the Minister's hands as it ever can be. I am satisfied that we can continue this work without injuring anyone.

I agree with Senator O'Dwyer that, as far as possible, when acquiring land a fair price should be given for it. I also agree with the Senator when he said that, probably, very often when men get land they are not able to pay for it, and that the community should try to make up the difference. We were told, and probably there is some truth in it, that some people who get land do not work it.

The Minister stated in the Dáil that if people who got land did not work it, he was going to take it from them. We have plenty of people who want land. I might mention that about two years ago the agricultural instructor in Wicklow held the usual classes up in the hills, where the decendants of those who kept the national flag flying survive, and there was an average attendance of 60 each night. A few weeks afterwards when he held similar classes in districts in which there were good lands there was an attendance of only 11. If land is not made available for the 60 boys on the hills, they may have to emigrate to England or America. Surely it is not the policy of any National Government to allow that to happen. It is not going to be the policy, while we have men like that willing to attend and learn the scientific ends of agriculture and how to work their farms and they cannot get the land to work on, and, on the other hand, we have people with big ranches who do not want to know anything about them at all. That is why I am strongly in support of the Bill. I urge the Minister to continue his good work and I can assure him that he has the vast majority of his own people behind him—indeed, all sections of the Irish people.

Mr. Johnston

I rise to support this Bill. I think it is introduced by the Government at a most opportune time. Its main object is to give sufficient authority to the Land Commission to take over land that is not being used to the best advantage, land that is not being used productively. Where land is not being properly worked, it is only reasonable that it should be made available for people who are in a position and anxious to make it productive in the interests of the nation.

There are some points to which I would like to draw the Minister's attention. They arise from somewhat peculiar conditions that obtain in the county from which I come. There are some lands there that have not been taken over by the Land Commission. Whether there is provision made for their acquisition in this Bill, I do not know, and I am not quite certain whether the provision under existing legislation is sufficient to enable the lands to be acquired. I made inquiries from Land Commission officials, but I have not yet been put in possession of information which would tend to clarify the position.

It is to be hoped that this Bill will be the last piece of legislation that we will require in order to cope with the land problem in this country. It would be regrettable if certain desirable estates were allowed to escape. There are certain classes of holdings that still do not come within the scope of the Land Commission, and it is hoped that this measure will be able to embrace them. There is a particular type of case and I do not know if anything can be done in connection with it. There are certain farms that are more or less great mill-stones at the moment. I refer now to large holdings, and a generation or two ago the people who lived on them had other means of existence: they had a business, or some other means of income, and they lived very well. They left a sort of perpetual annuity of about ten shillings an acre to be paid on that land for all time. That land has been disposed of, and it has ceased to belong to any of the people who originally owned it. Other people bought it with this annuity, in addition to the Land Commission annuity. Is there any possibility of that annuity being purchased? I should like to have some information from the Minister on that point. I think that some provision should be made for it in this legislation.

We have heard and read a lot during recent weeks in connection with this Land Bill, both in the Dáil and in this House. We have heard a good deal of what was once a very popular and prominent phrase. In my early days we used to hear a lot about the three F's. It was stated here to-day that two of them have gone. I do not admit that two of them are gone; I do not admit that any of them are gone. There is just as free sale in the part of the country I come from, in the case of land, as ever there was, and just as good prices are obtained. A tenant who wants to sell a decent farm, with decent accommodation, can sell it to-day as well as at any time.

Reference was also made to fixity of tenure. To my mind, there is not the slightest interference with fixity of tenure. So far as the people in County Monaghan with whom I come in touch are concerned—the majority of the farmers in the county—they have not at any time complained that there is danger of their lands being taken from them so long as they work them productively. They do complain about the man who has a farm and who is letting it go wild with furze and all sorts of useless weeds—letting his place grow into a wilderness. They say that such a person is not entitled to have that land. They submit that the Land Commission should step in and give it to someone who will make it productive in the interests of the community.

Some arguments have been used here, I think they were used by Senator Fitzgerald, indicating that the revolution of the Land Acts was accomplished. I do not know what the Senator means by the revolution of the Land Acts. I do not think it was a revolution. We are all acquainted with the history of the Land Acts. We know of the people who fought the landlords and the British Governments, Liberal and Conservative. We know of the men who carried through the Plan of Campaign and we have read of the great agitation from the 'Eighties down to 1903, when the first Land Act that was in any way reasonable towards the tenant farmers of Ireland was passed. Then there was another very strong organisation in the Midlands which was headed by members of the Irish Parliamentary Party and they had as their motto "The road for the bullock and the land for the people."

All the agitation that was carried out during that long period of years had as its object the putting of the people on the lands from which they were driven off. They were driven off by force from the good lands in the Midlands. They were driven across the Shannon to the bogs of Connaught—the cry was "To Hell or Connaught." Is it not fair and is it not just that these people, or their descendants, should be reinstated? Is it not our moral duty, we who have been selected to legislate for the people of this country, to consider the rights of the descendants of evicted tenants? Is it not our bounden and moral duty to make provision so that the descendants of these people should be restored to the lands of their forefathers, if that is at all possible?

I remember when there was a very strong agitation by the members of the old Irish Parliamentary Party on behalf of evicted tenants, men who were put out in the Plan of Campaign when a great fight was made against the landlords. There was legislation actually passed by the British Government to make provision for the descendants of the evicted tenants. I suppose all the evicted tenants have now passed away, but their descendants are there, and I suggest to the Minister that where there are suitable applicants amongst those descendants, they should be considered. Some of them have been restored to their holdings within a few miles of where I live. One is the son of an evicted tenant and he was hired out by farmers and was working with them for a good number of years until the Land Commission acquired an estate in the townland. He was provided with a farm and it has proved to be a very successful farm. Further, he has provided himself with another farm in addition to the farm the Land Commission provided him with. By his own industry, and that of his family, he has been able to purchase another farm. Now, I hold that, in the case of an evicted tenant, first preference should be given to that tenant, or to the representatives of evicted tenants.

Another class of people was mentioned here to-day. I forget who brought up the case, but I think it was Senator Quirke. The case I have in mind is that of Old I.R.A. men who have a knowledge of farming or have been working on farms. I hold that these men have a very strong claim to recognition for the work they did in securing the independence of the country, and I appeal to the Minister to bear their cases in mind. There might be the case of a farmer with three or four sons, who are old I.R.A. men, who came through the brunt of the fight from 1916 to 1922, and some of whom may be still unprovided for. Of course, I know that a certain provision may have been made for some of them in respect of military service pensions, and so on, but I think it would be much better to provide such men, who already have a knowledge of the working of land, with holdings. I suggest that the Minister should give special consideration to such cases.

Another thing to which I should like to draw attention is what Senator Sir John Keane said with regard to the ownership of land. I understood Senator Sir John Keane to say that the owner of land, whether it might be a ranch or not, should be allowed to do what he wished with his land. I do not agree with that, and I certainly could not support anything of that kind. If we were to follow Senator Sir John Keane's logic, and if we were to leave the best land in Ireland—or at least in these Twenty-Six Counties— in the hands of a few people with unlimited wealth, and allow these people to let the land run wild or do what they liked with it, what would be the position of the land in this country with regard to the production of food for the people of this country? When the Creator created land in any country, I think it will be admitted that He designed that every portion of land in any country, all over the world, would be sufficient to produce enough food for the people of that country. I have noticed that, on some occasions, certain people claim that food for the people of this country could be provided more cheaply from Canada, Argentina, or Russia, than it could be provided from Ireland. People have said that wheat could not be grown successfully in this country. In answer to that, on one occasion, I used the same argument that every country was sufficiently capable of growing all the food that was required for the people of that country, and I instanced the case of China, in which, I understand, the staple food is rice. I suppose we could import any amount of rice into this country, but I feel pretty sure that if our people were put on a diet of rice for six months in this country, they would be clamouring to get away from it to something else.

I submit, therefore, that the soil of this country is amply capable of producing all the food that is required for the people of this country, and that is why I do not agree with the statement made by Senator Sir John Keane, that the owner of land should be allowed to use his land in any way he likes. These may not be the exact words that were used by the Senator, but that is the logical conclusion to be drawn from the remarks he made. I certainly do not agree that any owner of land should be allowed to do whatever he likes with that land. I agree that the owner of other kinds of property, such as clothing, a bicycle, a motor car, and so on, should be allowed to do what he likes with that property, but the land is a very different matter. It is the land that provides food for the people at large—for the general body of the people—and I do not think it is right for anybody to say that the land should be allowed to go to waste just because a man can say that he is the owner of that land.

I strongly support some of the statements made here, such as the statement made by Senator O'Callaghan and others as to the combined system of tillage and grazing. Certainly we do not want all these grass lands taken over, and I think that the system of mixed farming—that is, of ordinary tillage and grazing—so as to produce sufficient food for the live stock on the farm, and so on, is the better system. As to the necessity for having a large number of ranches to make provision for the feeding of store cattle, I do not think there is any necessity for that. I believe that the system of mixed farming is much the better system. Another thing to which I want to draw attention is that, in 1848, or for about a year before the famine, there were 8,000,000 people living in Ireland on the food produced in Ireland, and there was very little food imported into this country at that time. Now, if 8,000,000 people could live on the food produced in this country at that time, it is a very strange thing that 3,000,000 or 4,000,000 people cannot live in this country now on the food produced here without having to import food from other countries. That, of course, is the system that some people advocate—the importation of cheap food from other countries—but that is the system which in my opinion is responsible for the present condition of this country. I strongly advocate that the Minister should take all necessary steps to distribute the land amongst the people who are best qualified to work the land and who will give the best that can be given to the working of the land.

It is very hard to understand the reasons why there should be such opposition to this Bill. The Bill does not confer any new powers of any sweeping character. It is simply a matter of making clear the provisions of the Acts of 1933 and 1936—and indeed we might go back as far as the Act of 1923. Now, the very people who are opposing this Bill to-day were ardent supporters of the Act of 1923—the Hogan Act, as it was called, if you like—upon which this Bill, to some extent, is based. Confiscation has been spoken of, and by the very people who should never mention confiscation. It is not the intention of this Government, nor indeed was it the intention of the previous Government, to take lands without giving the fair market value for the land. I believe, however, that there is something to be said in condemnation of a certain kind of agitation that goes on for the breaking up of lands. I am referring to the form that that agitation sometimes takes. I am not referring to the genuine attitude on the part of local bodies, and so on, for the breaking up of grass lands, but I am certainly afraid that, in some cases, the agitation for the breaking up of lands takes a rather threatening form, and I think that that should be dealt with in some way, and that it should be made clear to those who are guilty of aggressive agitation of that kind that, at least, their cause will not be helped by such agitation and that, possibly, they might not be selected for holdings, when it comes to a question of the division of land, if it were known and proved that they were guilty of unlawful agitation.

As to the method, I approve of the Bill and I think it is very necessary, because I do understand that land division has been held up and possibly there would be an end to land division unless we had the goodwill of those who held the lands that were required. It is said here that one-fifth of the arable land of Ireland has been divided by the present Land Commission. I do not know how true that is, but it is known to all that for the last three or four years vast areas have been lying derelict, or in the hands of graziers, or people who have not made economic use of them, who have not the lands sufficiently stocked. You may travel through the plains of Meath, and some parts of Kildare, and the south of Munster, along the Golden Vale, and you will see acres grown wild that are not made use of. I know some cases myself where people for years and years have held 300 or 400 acres of land, and employed one herd on the land. They gave no employment except in the transport of the cattle, and there were people in other parts of the country who, if they had one ten-acre field, would make a decent livelihood out of it.

With regard to the policy of bringing migrants from the Western sea-boards, I think that would be a difficult and expensive experiment. Their whole environment in the West is very different from what it is in the Midlands. They live in a world of their own and have a peculiar civilisation, a form of civilisation which my friend, Senator Cú Uladh, so much admires, but if they have the wherewithal to live a frugal life there they are very happy in those areas and in the environment around them. I think it is a mistake to transplant people above the age of 50, even in colonies with their families. They will find it difficult to adapt themselves to the nature of a new county which is much colder and less demonstrative, but possibly, just as sincere as the nature and characteristics of our people on the Western sea-board. I think something should be done to provide these people with land in the West. I recognise the difficulties but there are still parts of Galway, Roscommon and Mayo where, I believe, land can be divided. A Cork man, I think, is like a fish out of water when he comes in to farm the lands of Leinster.

A great deal of play has been made about the statement that there were 600,000 applicants for 500,000 acres of land. Applications are easily made. Nobody can prevent anybody from applying for land. That does not mean that the 500,000 acres are to be divided among 600,000 applicants. But, in regard to this division of land I think more care should be exercised in the selection of the people who get the land. I would even go so far as I have done before, and suggest that land division should be made after a sworn inquiry in open court in the district where the land is to be divided and that evidence be produced there of the suitability of the applicants. What is creating a great deal of odium in some parts of the country is the fact that Fianna Fáil clubs are alleged to have sufficient power to divide up the land and nominate the people who are getting the land. I do not know how far that is true but it is alleged that such is the case. I know they are very active and I do not blame them for being active, and Labour clubs and "Back to the Land" clubs have been active, and justly so, but I think it is a bad business if it can be said that men are getting land, not because of their qualifications to work that land, but because they were members of a particular Party. I do not make the statement that it is true. I do not know how prejudiced it is, but the idea is in the atmosphere.

Does the Senator believe that that is true?

I do not say I believe it at all.

Why say it at all, then?

It is a common rumour, and it is very commonly believed.

And the Senator does not believe it himself.

I think it is greatly exaggerated. However, I know that men have been passed over in some parts of the country, and if the Minister wishes I could get the names of a number of those who were deprived of their employment on an estate, who lived on the estate and, because the land to be divided was some half-mile distant, they were passed over although they had sufficient stock to stock that land and to work it. I believe I could supply some details of that. Others got the land over their heads. Under the Land Act of 1933, when a man lost his employment on a farm by reason of the division of land, he was secured, as we thought, in an economic holding. I wonder is that adhered to? My information is that it is not adhered to. I would like the Minister to deal with that point, and I would be glad if he were in a position to say to us that every man so deprived of employment, who was eligible otherwise, has been given an allotment. If the spirit of the Acts of 1933 and 1936, as well as the letter, is to be followed, I think that such men should not be passed over.

A Senator here on this side said that farm labourers, I think, have not been successful in the working of allotments. I do not know what evidence he has of that. I could quite understand that failures could take place among farm labourers, just as they do among other people who are allotted lands. I could quite understand that some of them who had very little capital and who were not provided with capital were forced by circumstances to sub-let that land, and that it has fallen back into the hands of the grazier again. I think that is exceedingly unfortunate, but I think the blame is not with the individual who has got a holding. He should be in a position himself to have sufficient capital to work that land, or he should be placed in a position by a loan or grant of some kind to enable him to start the farm going. I do not think that is done in all cases, although in the cases of migrants from the West we are told that as much as £700, £800 or £900 has been spent on setting up one family.

Much less than that sum would do in the cases to which I refer, where they may have a cow or two and fowl, and, perhaps, pigs and other little perquisites. They are industrious people and I do not think they have been failures. I would be glad if the Minister were in a position to state that the percentage of failures among cottiers and farm workers who have got land is very small. As far as I know it is very small, but where they have failed is where they did not have sufficient capital to stock the land, to buy a horse, or something of that kind.

In regard to economic holdings, it is very hard to say what is an economic holding. We might give a definition of what is an economic holding on the Western sea-board so far as acreage is concerned but the same acreage would possibly make two economic holdings in other parts of the country. I would say of any land, except the best land near a city, that 20 acres of even very good land is a difficult proposition to work, unless you have a number of farmers of the 20 acres class in close co-operation with each other and working on some system of voluntary co-operation in regard to the purchase of machinery. No 20-acre farm is able to keep a pair of horses unless there is other work for the horses; few of them are able to buy modern machinery or the necessary equipment to work that land profitably. I should say some system of voluntary co-operation should be encouraged and I understand that instead of encouraging that the Government rather places them at a disadvantage. There is, I think, an example quoted sometimes of Mount Temple, near Athlone, where a number of farmers, 24 or 25,—I speak open to correction—combined and worked an estate on a co-operative system. I think they got on very well. Possibly there were a few malcontents who thought that they were not getting a fair share of the loaf perhaps, and, possibly, justly, too. I believe that under this Bill power is being taken for the breaking up of those lands. I understand, however, that that would not be in accordance with the wishes of the great majority of those people.

You have, however, in their case an example of what co-operation can accomplish. I believe that an extension of that principle would help to remove many of the ills which afflict the small farmers. Forty or fifty years ago there was a tremendous amount of voluntary co-operation among our small farmers. It was the custom then for three or four or more farmers in a locality to buy a mowing or a threshing machine. It was held in common between them and was circulated for use amongst them. During the busy seasons, particularly when there was a spell of fine weather, neighbouring farmers joined together and cooperated in cutting a field of corn or in taking out potatoes. The advent of modern machinery put an end, it is to be regretted, to that kind of voluntary co-operation. When farmers did co-operate in that way they were relieved to a great extent of heavy overhead costs. They were also quite content and happy, and, I may say, very successful in their methods. Coming to later times, one has a fine example of the success of co-operative methods in the case of the Mount Street Club. I understand that recently the club acquired an estate at Clondalkin. A fine spirit of co-operation has been shown in the various activities carried cut by the club. That is a spirit that, I think, should be developed, especially among small farmers. In view of the high cost of modern machinery and modern farm equipment, I do not think it is possible for people living on 30 or 35 acres of land to make a good living out of it unless they adopt some form of co-operation.

I approve of the Bill. I again ask the Minister to be careful about the people who are selected for allotments of land. The cottier tenants of the country are the descendants of those who were evicted from the land of Ireland. If they were to disappear off the land, then we might say goodbye to our main industry. It should be the object of our farmers to encourage those cottier tenants to remain on the land. One is puzzled sometimes to hear farmers say that land is of no use in view of the strong opposition they offer when agricultural labourers make application for an acre or a half-acre of land for a cottage. That kind of thing has led to a great deal of unfriendliness between neighbours. Farmers, as I have said, should encourage those men to remain on the land. It is a crying shame that people should be allowed to hold large quantities of land and make no use of it—hundreds and hundreds of acres. It is to be hoped that the operation of this measure will put an end to that. When cottier tenants are selected for allotments of land, they should be helped by way of loans or credit notes so that they will be enabled to make a decent start in life for themselves and their families.

I support the Second Reading of this Bill in the strongest manner. I want to assure my colleagues that the statement made by Senator Cummins about the Fianna Fáil clubs is entirely wrong, and that, so far as the County Dublin is concerned, it is without a shred of foundation. At the same time, I thoroughly agree with him on the question of having a sworn inquiry about the giving of land. Many of us in the County Dublin were surprised when we heard of some of the people who got land that had been divided. We were astonished to know how they got it. As a matter of fact, membership of a Fianna Fáil club seemed to be a barrier to getting any of the land that was divided. On that point, I agree with Senator Cummins.

I am glad to hear it.

As I have said, I would welcome the sworn inquiry asked for by the Senator. I congratulate the Minister on having brought forward this measure. Above all, I congratulate him on the consideration that, during his term of office as Minister, he has given to the position of the cottier tenants and agricultural labourers in the country, compared to the consideration they received previously. In my opinion the farm labourer, the man who goes into the soil and produces the wealth of the nation, has first claim on the land of the nation. The accommodation plots of five acres represent the greatest benefit that has been conferred on him.

I am not referring now to farm labourers who get allotments of land up to 25 or 30 acres. I am thinking of the hard-working agricultural labourer who is now in the enjoyment of an accommodation plot of five acres, particularly of good land in the County Dublin. That has proved to be a wonderful asset to him. He can occupy himself working the land during periods of unemployment, while the produce of the land brings a little wealth to his home. If he has a grown-up family, and if they cannot get other employment, they also can work on this land.

The Minister is certainly deserving of all praise for the good work he has done in the County Dublin for the agricultural labourer and the cottage holder. In connection with the big farms in the County Dublin, I have a different mind. On this question of land division, I would appeal to the Minister to take into his consideration the position in the County Dublin. Senator Counihan may not agree with me, because I believe he has a couple of farms in the county. Probably he has more land than I would like to see him having, but I think it is a pity that such good land as we have in the County Dublin would not be given to the good people we have in it to produce wealth for the nation and comfort for themselves in their own homes.

I do not mind who is pleased or displeased, but I feel that the Minister should leave none of these ranches in any portion of County Dublin or County Meath. These are the good lands of Ireland, and I hold that the good Irish people are entitled to those good Irish lands. It is sad to see in the country the miserable little holdings on which people are trying to raise families, while all these fine acres are going to waste. I hope that the Minister will use his power and his influence to see that whoever is responsible for the giving of land will see that land is given to the agricultural labourer. There is a difference between the cottage tenant and the agricultural labourer, but particularly the man who gives his whole time to agriculture should get the first preference in the case of any local land that is being divided.

In conjunction with what Senator Cummins has said, I feel that the farmer worker when he gets five acres of land, if he happens to be in straitened circumstances and cannot even purchase a cow, should be given the means to do so. One particular case comes to my mind, that of a young man—and there are many others like him—a genuine farm labourer, one who has never worked at anything else, who has eight young children, and who is 33 years of age. He got portion of some land, but had not the means to buy a cow and put it on that land, with the result that there could not be milk for the children. He has only 27/- a week in Garristown. I do feel that that man has equally as good a claim, on the strength of his five acres, for consideration from the Government, as any person who is taken from any portion of the country and planted in Meath. He has an even better claim, since one would be doing a lot of good by enabling a man like this to purchase a cow. I do not mean that it should be given altogether, but at least for a period. It would be beneficial to have a scheme in operation so that a farm labourer could buy a cow and thus have milk for his children.

I would appeal to him not to give land to the man who is letting it as conacre. How these kind of people get the land I do not know, but the fact is that they do get it, and one finds in twelve months time that they have it let and probably, having received it for £1 an acre, they have it let for £5 an acre as conacre, whilst they make it a particular point to keep themselves as far away from the land as they can. I would say to the Minister that they cannot be too hard on this type of person; it is the last remnant of landlordism. They must be giving wrong information to the inspectors who recommend them, and one finds in a couple of years' time that the land they received for £1— or in some cases 15/—an acre, is being let to labourers at a charge of £4 or £5 an acre. I would ask the Minister to deal severely with this type of person unless he is prepared to put up a reasonable case and show reasonable grounds for not working the land himself.

I am delighted that this Bill is before the House, and I congratulate the Minister on producing it. Senator Johnston has stated already that the slogan in the old days was: "The land for the people." I am going to give him the full slogan now, it was: "Ireland for the Irish and the land for the people." That was the slogan in days gone by and that is the slogan, I am glad to say, is being put into effect by the Minister for Lands as far as the giving of land is concerned. Let nothing—Banking Commission or any other power in this country—deter the Minister from continuing the good work until we reach the time when the Irish people have the land of Ireland so that they can work it, produce wealth from it and make a living in comfort on it.

Finally, I would just like to say a few words about herds. Somebody has spoken of "500 acres and a herd." Even on the 500 acres, the herd—that one person—did not receive a living wage. Some of those who were employing such herds in this country should be ashamed. I do not want to claim that all treated their herds alike, or imply that; but the miserable pittance that was offered by some of those so-called landlords to their herds was such that those landlords should have been put in prison. It was impossible for a human being to live on such an amount.

Tá sé déanach anois, agus nílim chun morán a rá—gan ach cúpla focal. I happened to be at another meeting earlier to-day and, consequently, I have not heard the speeches that were made, so if I am repeating previous remarks I regret it. My old friend, Senator Cummins, referred to Fianna Fáil clubs having a certain amount of influence, and we heard Senator Micheál Ó hAodha say yesterday that the jobs going in connection with the Tourist Bill would be all given to followers of the Fianna Fáil clubs. Now, I happen to be at conventions from time to time where Fianna Fáil members discuss the giving of anything that is going by Fianna Fáil Ministers, and I can tell the House very straightforwardly that the remarks made there are not very complimentary to those Fianna Fáil Ministers and that the trend of the discussions at those meetings is that Fianna Fáil Ministers give positions in their gift to their opponents rather than to their own followers.

Those for whom I am going to appeal now are those like myself who were reared on a farm. In the old days in this country there were certain outlets for small farmers' sons: the brightest and the best of them were those who went to good schools and got into the Civil Service and made good use of their time. Others became school teachers; but there was another section to which I am going to refer now—those, like myself, who possibly had not great brains and had to be bound to penal servitude as apprentices to a trade. Some of those hard-working lads learned their trades: some became a success, others possibly did nothing. Though some did make a living, I want to point out to the Minister that that avenue is now definitely sealed up because of the fact that machines are taking the place of the handcraft tradesmen. Mass production has completely wiped them out. It is in the interest of those boys that I am now seeking the Minister's help. Senator Cummins in his remarks stated that the Minister should be careful regarding persons to whom he would give land, as there were a number of failures. In my opinion, there is no more desirable section than those to whom I am referring, who have been reared on a farm, have had to milk the cows morning and evening, spend nights minding young bonhams and are conversant with every phase of the farming industry. It is in their interest that I appeal to the Minister, if he has land to distribute, not to forget those who have been reared on the land.

As I said at the beginning, this Bill became necessary because other Bills passed were rendered nugatory by court decisions. There is nothing new in it, and, as some Senators have said, it is simply a machinery Bill. No extra power is being taken, but, listening to the Opposition, and especially to Senator Johnston, one would imagine that the object of the Government was to destroy every big farm in the country and to make the country a sort of checkboard of small farmers. I should have imagined that a Senator in his position, who is dealing with economic matters all his time, would have gone to the trouble of finding out if there was any foundation whatever for that statement.

When I was dealing with this Bill in the Dáil, I invited any member of the Opposition, or any member of the House, to produce any case in which a farm, which was even moderately worked, had been interfered with. There was actually protection in the 1933 Act for farmers whose vested holdings were well worked. By "well worked" I mean worked properly—it may mean tillage or it may not and not like some of these holdings which we are trying to get which are running to weeds, with drains choked, and with nobody residing on them. Whatever Senator Fitzgerald may think, we have still in the country a big acreage of such land.

I was not questioning that. What was in my mind was the existence of a Noxious Weeds Act.

The Noxious Weeds Act is there, but, in spite of it, I could bring the Senator down to estates in different parts of the country—estates of 700 and 800 acres, which might not be called big estates—where there are more weeds growing than grass, and which we cannot touch. I should have imagined that before Senator Johnston would have launched out on his attack, in a most unfair way, he would have assured himself as to what the real position was. I can tell him that there is no intention, and never was any intention, to interfere with any land which is even moderately well worked, whatever its size.

Would the Minister agree that that would apply to grass land?

I certainly would—a proper use of grass land. If it is doing what it ought to do in the interests of the agricultural economy, certainly. There is nothing new in that, and that is what I should like to remind Senators of. I think there is a better chance of establishing that here than in the other House, because, somehow or other, there is a better atmosphere here, I think. All I want to do is to reiterate that because, when that 1933 Act was passed, I think the Minister was more definite on that point than on any other. No Government here could possibly last if they attempted to interfere with land of that kind; but, on the other hand, are we to look on at that type of land, which some Senators have referred to, and which we all know is there, land, as was pointed out in the other House, which is not being worked, on which, in some cases, people are not residing, which is not paying rates and which is a burden to the community generally? We cannot touch that land. These people will not allow the Land Commission to take it over, and they avail themselves of every technicality. That is the type of land we are going for.

The question of free sale and of the three F's was raised here and in the other House. The greatest advocate of the three F's in the Dáil was Deputy Dillon. On the question of free sale, I asked him if he were taking his stand on this, that anybody who wished to buy land anywhere should be allowed to buy it in any amount, and I put it to him that, if he were not taking his stand on that, there could not really be a free sale; in other words, was the rich merchant in the town to be allowed to buy any land available and do what he liked with it? Deputy Dillon said that he did not want that, and I say that, if that is so, there cannot be genuine free sale. There will be people, with plenty of money, who will want to buy land for purposes other than agricultural purposes, and who will be prepared to pay an enhanced price for such land. This Government, or the last Government, would not stand for it, and I cannot visualise any Government in this country which would stand for it. We undoubtedly do have regard to the agricultural economy of the country. We are bound to do so because we want to see the land worked to best advantage and to see the greatest number of families possible established in moderate comfort in the land. That is our objective.

We have been told about the flight from the land, and we know very well that there is a big exodus at present, but we also know the reason for it. When you have a country like this, an agricultural country, with a neighbour next door engaged in intensive work for the last two or three years, and which is likely to continue for many years more, as a result of which good wages are available, you will naturally have a flight from the land of one country to the cities of the other. It is a natural thing and I do not think the Land Commission can be blamed for it. On the contrary, I think the Land Commission has been instrumental in stopping that to a considerable extent. As a result of the Land Commission's operations, there has been a stoppage, and if, in the last few years, we could have got many of these derelict estates and farms, even small farms—small 30-acre farms, which are growing weeds and the drains of which are choked——

Would the Minister accept an amendment to give the Land Commission power to resume a small farm if it was derelict, or being improperly worked?

The Land Commission has that power. It requires no amendment. What I want to point out is that it is not a question of acreage, and on that point every Party in the Dáil seemed to be agreed. Deputy Norton, giving, I presume, the considered policy of the Labour Party, said the same—that if there was a very large farm properly worked, this party would not stand for taking it over either. I am sure that by "properly worked" he meant what I mean. We took the formula which we found in the 1923 Act. One of the ex-Ministers in the Dáil said it was eyewash until I reminded him that we took it, word for word, from the 1923 Act. The question of who is to decide is one which we shall have to leave to people who are experienced, and the people who decide this question as to how land is worked are the same now as formerly. There is no change whatever. On that question I hope that Senators, who have not to look for votes from a certain section of the community, will not go out and say that we are going to destroy or to take up land from people who are working it properly, or who are making even a moderate attempt to work it properly, especially where it is residential land. No Government, however, could stand by and allow what is happening in this country to continue.

Many points were raised about the different types of people who should get land, and the question of deadweight debt and the Banking Commission Report were dealt with. While we are on the report of the Banking Commission, I think Senators should try to remember what that report said on the question of land division. My recollection is that they did not condemn the continuance of division up to the amount of land which was given in evidence as being available. They expressed the wish, which I certainly endorse, that whatever land is still available ought to be used to relieve congestion. I should be glad if we had enough land to give to the landless men who have been mentioned, but I say that the big problem that still remains to be tackled is this problem of the relief of congestion.

Senator Cummins does not seem to think it is a good idea to bring people up from the West to these estates, but I think it is. We have made experiments, which were very costly to carry out, but it must be remembered that the people we brought from the West to Meath surrendered their old holdings in the places whence they came and have in this way made life more tolerable for the people left behind. That is one thing that has to be taken into account. In the case of the estates on which these people were planted I must say that, at least, in respect of three of them there was no compulsion whatever. These were estates of which the owners were anxious to dispose. They were offered to the Land Commission and they were taken at a price which was agreed.

If the owners had sold them the Land Commission would have acquiesced?

Yes. I will say, from my experience of the Land Commission, that if a purchaser arrived on the scene he was likely to be allowed to continue if the place were properly worked as some of them were. These were racing establishments. If there was any chance of an owner of that kind coming in, a man who would give the same amount of remunerative employment, I am certain the Land Commission would not have taken up these holdings. But it was impossible for people to work some of them unless they had enormous incomes. The owners of these estates offered them to the Land Commission and the Land Commission made, I think, very good use of the land.

It is rather a little late now for the Senate, and I do not like to detain the House much longer. I think I can give some examples as to the working of these estates by the new tenants. In the Dáil, on the Estimate for the Land Commission, whether it was worth while or not, I did give some examples as to what the new tenants were doing and as to their position. I have here three or four cases, and these are typical of what has been done by the other people who were brought up from the Gaeltacht of Donegal, Mayo, Galway and Kerry. The figures I am giving will show how the position of these people has been improved in their new holdings and working in new surroundings. If Senators will bear with me I will give the House the particulars.

We want to know all about it.

These were not handpicked. The person who carried out this work is an old official. He has been in charge of the migration scheme. He was not sent there by me to make a special case. He was asked to go down and investigate the position and give a fairly accurate return of the conditions in the several districts. An attempt has been made to keep the people who were brought up from the Gaeltacht in little colonies. This official was asked to go to the Donegal group, the Mayo group, the Kerry group and the Galway group. I think there are two sets of figures from Donegal.

There were no Cork men amongst them?

There were no Cork men there. Cork men are not prepared to leave Cork in spite of all the talk about bringing Cork men to Dublin. On this occasion it was difficult to get Cork men to come up. I suppose they did not think there was much in it, but, perhaps, now with the publicity given we will have Cork men coming up. I will first take the Donegal migrant on the Major Gerrard Estate. That estate was not compulsorily acquired. Major Gerrard was a racehorse owner and he offered these lands to the Land Commission. Now I may be asked how does this compare with the employment given previously by Major Gerrard. I want to point out that we did not acquire that estate compulsorily. I will take first the case of a Donegal migrant. He pays in annuities and in rates on his present holding £19 2s. 4d. a year. On his old holding he paid in annuities and rates £3 15s. 10d. only. He made out of the sales of stock and produce on the Gibbstown estate in 1938, £187 6s. 0d. His production from his old holding would be £49 18s. 0d. That would be for the sale of produce for one year as far as he could recollect. The value of the stock supplied to this man for his new holding was £155 10s. 0d. The value of the stock produced and his sales and the stock on hands in March, 1939, was £269. On his old holding at the end of the year the corresponding figure would be £79

Now, the next migrant, also from Donegal, pays in annuities and rates £15 7s. 0d. In his old holding he was a very small man because in Donegal he only paid in rates and annuities 12/- The value of his stock at the end of the year and what he sold was £155 8s. 0d. The corresponding figure on his old holding would be £23 18s. 0d. The value of the stock supplied to him was £152 10s. 0d. The value of the stock and produce on hands in March, 1939, was £194 0s. 0d. He would usually have on hands at the end of the year in his old holding, stock, etc., to the value of £25 2s. 6d.

Now I come to the Kerry man. In his case his annuities and rates on his new holding are £17 6s. 6d. On his old holding these totalled £8. Sales of stock and produce on his new holding for the year were £179 13s. 2d. The corresponding figure for his old holding was £67 14s. 0d. The value of the stock supplied to him was £62 10s. 0d. The value of the stock and produce at the end of March, 1939, was £334 10s. 0d. Normally in his old holding the corresponding figure would be £151 0s. 0d.

I will next take the Mayo man. His annuity and rates in his new holding are £16 17s. 6d. On his old holding he paid £4 0s. 6d. The value of the stock and produce for the year, including his sales, was £144 4s. 2d. In the old holding the corresponding figure would be £30. The value of the stock supplied to him was £145 10s. 0d. The value of the stock and produce on hands in his new holding at the end of the year was £267. The corresponding figure in his old holding would be £58.

A Senator

What is the acreage of these farms?

Only 22 acres, statute measure. My own opinion is that they are a bit on the small side. But what I say is that, compared with these men's previous holdings they are good farms. We cannot hope to do much better for the people than 22 acres, but we are giving 25 acres now. I am satisfied that if the migrants make the best use of their lands they will make a much better living than they made in their old homes.

I come next to the question of depopulation. It can be said of these people who have been brought from the Gaeltacht that they are a very fertile race. No one can say that the families are not large. They certainly are. There is a big increase in the population of that district, and from that point of view they are a useful asset to the community. As far as the Irish language is concerned, there is that to be taken into account too. When they are brought into communities like these, and where there is a sympathetic Government and a sympathetic organisation behind them, they will be a centre from which the Gaelic language will spread. I hope so. That is only by the way.

With all respect to the Chair, the debate on this Bill was more a debate on agriculture than on land. That was inevitable. I do not know whether I will be expected to go into all these economic questions that have been raised. I have not got the facts and figures I would have if I knew the debate was to be of the nature it has been. I do say that Senators can be perfectly certain that it would be an insane thing for any Government to attempt to interfere with the agricultural economy of the country. We are doing the best we can, and I am perfectly satisfied that more use will be made in future of the lands we are taking over than has been made of them in the past.

On the question of the type of people to whom land should be given, it has been urged that great care should be exercised. Great care is being exercised, but no matter how much care is exercised you will get people put on the land who will be failures, and you will get people with glib tongues who may be able to persuade an inspector that they are in a position to work the land better than they actually are. We know that has happened, but I think, in view of the fact that much of this land was divided during a time of agricultural depression—a depression which I am sure Senators will admit was felt not only in Ireland but throughout the rest of the world— it will be admitted that these new holdings have been reasonably well worked and worked reasonably successfully. Some of them, of course, have not been so worked. There are cases in which people let lands which were given to them. We do not mind that for a year or two. If, for some good reason, an allottee finds that he cannot start operations immediately, well, the Land Commission will be lenient for a couple of years; but if they find that he is trying to let the land year after year, I can assure the House that land will not be left with him. We are taking power in this Bill not alone to see that they will work the land, but to make them reside in the houses which the Land Commission built for them. There are cases in which allottees have been trying to work the land and to reside away from it, but we are not going to allow them to do that. I am perfectly satisfied that in this matter the Land Commission is doing a good social work.

In the other House reference was made to the percentage of landless men who were getting holdings. I think the Banking Commission also referred to the matter, but in that category were included the type of people of whom Senator Cummins and Senator Tunney spoke, that is people who got accommodation plots. There was no segregation of the different types of people at that time, and it looked as if an undue proportion of land was being given to these people. I am not apologising for it on that ground. If landless men are suitable, I do not see why they should not get holdings, but the fact is that we have not enough of land and, in my opinion, too much has been given to landless men. That may be an unpopular thing to say, but I am satisfied, in view of the amount of land we have available and of the necessity of trying to make some impression on the problem of congestion, that that is the fact.

Might I ask the Minister whether he would deal with the question of the Mount Street Club and the experiment of co-operative large scale farming?

I shall refer to that in a moment. I regret that more farmers' sons cannot be given land. We have not got sufficient land for all, and the Government policy is to concentrate more on the relief of congestion.

In regard to the question of co-operative farming, there is a section in the Bill which enables commonages to be partitioned. I do not know the particulars of the case to which Senator Cummins referred, but I do know of one case in my own constituency where a large farm of land is held in common by about ten or 12 persons. There is one receivable order, one rent for this big farm, and there is one man—only one in this case I think—who will not pay his share at all. He simply will not pay, and the others who were anxious and willing to pay all along, are faced with these arrears. They cannot get credit for what they pay, because the whole amount has to be paid together. They have been making representations to the Land Commission for a long time to break up the co-operative arrangement and to let each man be responsible for his own portion. I regret that is the case, but that is the experience of the Land Commission in that particular instance. I am afraid it would require a lot more——

It will never be a success.

I would not say that. Co-operative farming is the one hope for small farmers. In this case there was one "slacker" who refused to meet his obligations.

Could the others not fire him out?

Unfortunately, it is the Trust business and they have no power to fire him out. He is maliciously preventing them.

Give them power to fire him out.

The result of that experience has been that the Land Commission is given power in a section of this Bill to partition these commonages wherever the majority of the tenants wish to have that done or wherever they are satisfied it is desirable to have that done. I think it would be really a crime to allow a system of that kind to continue in cases such as I have mentioned. In regard to the Mount Street Club, that certainly has nothing to do with the Land Commission and I am not able to deal with it. It is apparently a movement to encourage town workers on to the land. I hope such movements will be started in different parts of the country, but we cannot do very much about it, I am afraid.

It is not in the Bill.

You might watch the experiment with sympathy, anyway.

I can assure the Senator that I am very keen on the co-operative movement if it can possibly be worked. I think most of the other points raised can be dealt with in committee. Senator Sir John Keane did raise some points about different sections which will have to be dealt with in committee, and I understand he is putting down amendments to deal with them. I was surprised to hear that any person in this country regretted the passing of the landlord system. Senator Byrne took the words out of my mouth when he referred to them as being a class who passed away unwept, unhonoured and unsung. I think if they took the advice of Thomas Davis a century ago it would have been better for them. They could not do it. I am afraid their origin forbade it. I do not think you will get anywhere any sympathy for them but where there have been good landlords, where they have worked their lands properly, I do not think the Land Commission, even to this day would interfere with them.

In fairness to Senator Sir John Keane, I should say that it was Senator Counihan who wanted the landlords back.

There are still people in the country in possession of very large tracts of land, and the Land Commission has never touched them, for the reason that they are contributing their share by working these lands to the national economy. They have not been touched, and they will not be touched, but a great number of these estates—I think it would be better to say it here: I would rather say it here because I will get it across much better than in the Dáil—were in the same position as the Gerrard estate and other estates in the County Meath, and when they were handed over to the Land Commission the houses, at least, were derelict. Senator Sir John Keane said that he did not make any money out of agriculture, but I know that a great many of these landlords wrung money out of the people and they did not spend it in this country. They spent it outside the country. I think it can be verified that, in the case of the big majority, when the estates were handed over to the Land Commission, the houses were becoming derelict and the lands were becoming derelict. They were of no use to the owners or to anybody else. Even in the case which was mentioned in the Dáil, the case of the lady for whom there was such great sympathy expressed and for whom I personally had some sympathy, that land was derelict year after year. It was left waste. The drains were never cleaned and no attempt was made to apply manures to it. Moreover, the outgoings were much greater than the income.

In rates and annuities alone, there was a loss. Those are the types of land that were taken, and I think those who have any say in the control of credit here, and who can influence credit, ought to bear that in mind. They should not try to frighten people by saying that we are trying to destroy good farmers, and make their security on the land less than at present. I think they would be doing a very good service to the whole community if they would disabuse themselves of any idea that we are out to do any such thing. We would not get away with it even if we tried it. The vast majority of the members of our own Party are farmers, and working farmers. They would turn us out in the morning if we attempted to do any such thing, not to mention the people who elected us. We never attempted to do it, and I did not expect to hear it mentioned here. I do not mind what we hear below at times, because Party feeling is more acute downstairs, but here I did expect a better approach to this question. Before Senator Johnston made that allegation, I would have expected that, like any scientific man, he would have assured himself that we were really doing it.

My information must be different from the Minister's.

The Minister has drawn a marvellous picture of the benevolence of his Department. In the case of a farm which is a nuisance, full of weeds, they come along and, by dividing it, turn it into a garden blooming with roses, and, in the case of a farm which is a burden on the district because the owner is not paying rates, the same thing happens. One would have thought, apart from the special Land Act powers of acquisition, that under the Noxious Weeds Act nobody in the country would have the right to have a farm which was a nuisance of that sort.

I was prevented from making a speech much shorter than that which Senator Fitzgerald is now making. In any case, no law can prevent weeds from growing. The Noxious Weeds Act is for the purpose of ensuring that the weeds are cut before they flower.

A Senator

There was no attempt made to put that Act into operation.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 19th July.

The Seanad, I am informed, would not have a full day's work on Tuesday, and the Committee Stage of the Land Bill cannot come before the Seanad until Wednesday, so it has been suggested that the next meeting be on Wednesday next. Is that agreed?


The Seanad adjourned at 9.35 p.m. until Wednesday, 19th July, at 3 p.m.