COMMITTEE ON FINANCE. - ESTIMATES FOR PUBLIC SERVICES. VOTE 61.—ADVANCES TO AGRICULTURAL CREDIT SOCIETIES.
Friday, 26 June 1925
Dáil Éireann Debate
|Go ndeonfar suim, ná raghaidh thar £100,000 chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1926, chun Roimhiocanna d'ioc le Cumainn Chreidiúna Talmhaiochta.||That a sum not exceeding £100,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on 31st day of March, 1926, for advances to Agricultural Credit Societies.|
Deputies are aware of the extreme difficulty of dealing with the problem which this Vote is intended to meet. Anything in the way of direct loans or advances by the State would involve an enormous expenditure, and to a great extent expenditure that would be futile; there is no doubt at all that claims could not be checked. If Government advances were available, they might be made in cases where they ought not to be made. They would have to be made to an extent that would be unjustifiable, and there is no doubt but that great pressure would be required to prevent them being changed from loans to grants. It would be impossible for the Government to take up the position of making grants in these cases. The Minister for Lands and Agriculture has said in most cases at any rate, where severe losses were sustained, the blame was partly and perhaps largely due to neglect on the part of the people concerned, and anything that would make it easy for these people to continue as they had carried on before could not be entertained. As a matter of fact it is only because the losses were fairly considerable in certain districts—in some districts you might say that they were almost universal—that the State is called upon to do anything at all. If all the cattle lost were scattered over the entire country I do not think that the State would feel itself called upon to do anything, because the State cannot be asked to meet losses of people in business, whatever their business may be. If a shopkeeper loses money through any kind of ordinary misfortune the State is not called upon to help him. In the same way, if a farmer loses through misfortune the State is also not called upon to pay his losses. But if you have a considerable number of people, a very big proportion of people in a particular area, who have suffered severe losses there is a certain duty on the State to meet the peculiar distress caused in that way. As the Minister for Lands and Agriculture has indicated, this method is the best that the State has been able to find. It may be possible to supplement what is done through agricultural credit societies by carrying on a certain amount of improvement work in some of the poorest and most severely affected areas. Beyond that I do not think the State can go.
Mr. BAXTER: I had not the advantage of hearing the Minister's remarks when dealing with this Vote. I am afraid I must repeat what I have already said on a previous occasion. This Vote was moved, as far as we understand, to meet the situation that exists through the unfortunate and very serious losses that farmers sustained by the death of their cattle. On the last occasion the Minister explained the steps he intended to take to assist in making good these losses, so as to bring into existence agricultural credit societies, the Government putting up £1 for every £1 put up by farmers in a given district. I do not know if the Minister's offer has been improved.
MINISTER for LANDS and AGRICULTURE (Mr. Hogan): There is an improvement. The Minister for Finance has agreed to alter that offer, to the extent of putting up £2 for every £1. The original proposal was to put up £1 for each £1, and to set aside £100,000. It is now agreed that where necessary the contribution of the State will be £2 for each £1 within the limit of the £100,000. In my opinion that proposal will meet the situation as far as the State can meet it. It would be impossible to deal with the situation in any other way. It would be impossible to deal with it by way of loan. The Minister for Finance has taken into account  that special considerations apply to this particular problem. He has indicated the position to the Dáil of this particular problem, as compared with the problem that faces every class of society day by day, year in, year out. We are making an attempt to meet this problem in the poorer areas, and in the counties that I indicated, by this new proposal, that the State will put up £2 against every £1 deposited in a society, where it is found necessary. Where we could get societies constituted on the old basis of £1 for £1, the original offer, to give a loan for three years, stands so that you have the position now that within the limit of £100,000 societies will be constituted on the basis of £2 to every £1 deposited locally. These deposits will be met by the State free of interest for three years. That ought to enable the hardships that are in existence in the really poorer areas to be met. I have no doubt myself that even in the poorest areas this will meet the situation if we get the co-operation of the people themselves.
The best test of that is that it is really in the poorer areas societies have been constituted already. We have a society in Donegal doing well. It is not fully constituted yet but deposits are coming in. We made arrangements to set up that society on the basis of £1 for £1 in a very poor area of Donegal. Arrangements have practically been made also for a few societies in Leitrim. I have no doubt from the reports that I have received in regard to these societies that we could arrange for setting up a few more there on the basis of £1 for £1. These are two very poor counties. I speak more particularly of the poor areas, and it is conclusive evidence that where you have the co-operation of the people you can do business on these lines. It is evidence that cannot be ignored, that cannot be explained away, and it is a complete answer to the case put up by Clare, North Kerry and other areas where you have much better land, bigger holdings, and where the people are better off, that you cannot do business, or constitute the societies even on a basis of £2 for £1. It can and has been done in the poorest areas.
 With regard to the fluke epidemic, as I said on a previous occasion, the Department of Agriculture are preparing certain pamphlets setting out their advice as to the best way of meeting the epidemic, so far as it actually requires to be met. That pamphlet has been put out of date by the last three weeks' weather and will have to be changed. The weather during the last three weeks has made all the difference, and if it continues for any length of time, there is very little likelihood of a recurrence of fluke this year or next year. As a result, factors that were in operation in, say, the month of May, when we had extremely wet weather, have changed. The good and the dry weather of the last month has done not only as much, but far and away more than anything that might be done by any advice or action on our part to prevent a recurrence of fluke. If this weather continues for another month there is very little likelihood of any recurrence of fluke. At the same time this particular pamphlet, with certain modifications, will be issued immediately in the event of a change in the weather.
Farmers are being advised now in the event of any unlikely contingency to treat their low-lying land with a solution of copper-sulphate, which will cost six or seven shillings per statute acre. They are getting certain advice how to administer medicine to animals in low condition and likely to be infected still with fluke. The medicine in question is available in very large quantities, and we are in a position to supply what would meet any contingency. In the unlikely contingency of such a change in the weather that the epidemic of fluke might occur again, it can be met by treatment of the animals and treatment of the land. With regard to treatment of the animals, the medicine will be available in every chemists' shop in the Saorstát, and not only in particular shops here in Dublin, from which supplies were given out already, but in every chemists' shop. It will be extremely cheap. I forget the exact cost but I think about twopence or threepence per sheep. It can be administered by the farmer himself or by a  veterinary surgeon, and it is not likely to result in any complications, especially as the ewes have yeaned. On the other side, there is the treatment of low-lying lands which a farmer may have. The small farmer, not having a tremendous amount of land, is not likely to have such an area of low-lying land that the cost of six or seven shillings per statute acre will deter him from adopting this treatment, if it is necessary. The necessity, in my opinion, would only arise if we get rainy warm weather for a long time. There is not very much likelihood of any outbreak this year. If there is it can be met in the way suggested.
I might mention that arrangements are being made for some time by the Department of Agriculture, not exactly in connection with the point we are dealing, but the Department has been in touch with the Professor of tropical medicines in University College, London. I think he will do some research work in the matter here which has not been done up to the present in any country. As I said, I am satisfied that the provision made ought to meet the case. I will not go so far as to say it will altogether meet the case, but it will do so so far as the poorer areas are concerned. These are the only areas we can deal with. We cannot deal with cases where fairly well-off people have lost stock. We can only deal with the poorer areas where you cannot afford to apply to the particular cases what you would apply to a shopkeeper or to a case of bankruptcy where it is a person's own business. As far as these areas are concerned, this proposal ought to meet the case and will, in a great many cases, meet it.
If it does not, I am not prepared to ask the Minister for Finance to do anything further. It is a generous offer, but it is generosity in the right direction. It is not only dealing with the particular problem which we have to deal with at the moment, the problem of fluke epidemic, but it is really development and reproductive work, for we are encouraging societies which would be useful not only in meeting this problem, but useful as regards the  day by day business of the poorer areas, and probably it would be more useful than the hundreds of thousands of pounds spent every year for relief work in those areas.
Mr. BAXTER: In a way, two matters are really raised under this Vote. One is the establishment of agricultural credit societies, and that I welcome whole-heartedly. I think the principle underlying the idea is absolutely sound. In fact, it is the best step that could be taken by the State from the point of view of trying to regulate the finances of the country in such a way as to get agriculturists to utilise some of their own money for the furtherance of their own industry. So far as trying to bring these societies into existence is concerned, I and every one of our Party will be prepared to help on with that work. When considering that this is an effort to meet the situation that has been created through the great losses of cattle throughout the length and breadth of the country, we have to ask whether this will or will not meet that situation. However advisable and wise it may be on the part of the State to vote £100,000 to agricultural credit societies, if at the same time these societies are not going to solve the problem, then we really will not have accomplished what we set out to achieve when we brought the matter before the House. I do not want to be in the least pessimistic as to the outcome of this undertaking, but I want to express my candid opinion and to say that I greatly fear that it will not be able to give us enough money in any district to restore even a very small percentage of the losses in cattle that the farmers have suffered. The Minister admits that it is not going to do everything. I should like to have heard from the Minister what his Department has done in the way of getting statistics to show us what is the real magnitude of the problem. Over a month ago I put a question to the Minister asking what was being done as regards getting the Gárda Síochána to collect information on this matter, or in regard to any other branch of the Department's administration. The reply I received  then was that the matter was being attended to. I should like to hear from the Minister what has been done by his or any other Department of the State to ascertain the losses that have been incurred. As far as I can learn in my constituency nothing has been done, and I doubt very much if the Minister has any reliable information whatever as far as his own or any other Department is concerned. As I say, I have no knowledge of what has been done in this direction, but if the Minister has not collected reliable information on the matter, how can he gauge what should be done by the State? Without that information he would not know the amount of money required to deal with the existing conditions, and it would be impossible for him to come to the House and suggest a solution of the problem. I recognise that the offer he is now making is a big advance on the first one. The Minister pointed out that already societies have been started in Donegal.
Mr. BAXTER: I do not know exactly the conditions in Tirconaill. I do not know whether in the particular district in which this society has been established the farmers have lost a considerable number of their stock. If it is such a district it is very hopeful and encouraging. I have discussed the question with men from districts that have suffered severely, and they have grave doubts and fears that this is going to do anything to help them out. If this is a district where farmers have lost their cattle, and demands are made on the society for money to replace the stock, the outlook would be much more hopeful. But where, as I pointed out on the last occasion, you have to go into a district where 60 per cent. of the farmers have lost stock in greater or lesser numbers, and where you are going to ask the farmers in that district to put up £1 for every £2 put up by the Government, and that the money is to be lent back to the farmers to buy stock, or replace in part the stock, for it would be only in part at  best, I fear you will not be able to get money enough in that district to establish a society that will be of any benefit. If you take it that 60 per cent. of the farmers have suffered losses and that they want this money, the point is that if they have money of their own to replace their stock they will do so.
Mr. BAXTER: But take the case of the man who wanted £30 and had only £10, and that all his neighbours were in a similar position. Such a man as that may decide to utilise the £10 that he has in his own case rather than put it into a society for the establishment of a fund, the proceeds of which would be distributed in re-stocking not only his own land, but also that of his neighbours.
Mr. HOGAN: The dilemma that the Deputy is now putting up is, not a shortage of money in the neighbourhood but that men, say, who have sums of £10 will not invest it in these societies. The men have the money, we are now told, but they will not invest it. What the Deputy had been arguing up to this was that these men had no money.
Mr. BAXTER: I just pointed out that one man may have it, but I ask does not the Minister recognise that the money has to be lent out. Does he mean that the money is only to be lent to the men who have money, or whether it is to be lent to the farmers of a district regardless of whether or not they put money into these societies? The Minister must know that the great trouble is this: Where you have, say, half a dozen farmers in a district who are in a position to put some money into one of these societies, are they going to do that while they may require the money for their own needs. I think that they will decide to supply their own needs first before they will put their money into a society in order to have a fund established so that the proceeds of it may be distributed  over a great number of people in that district. That is the trouble that has to be faced. There may be men in some districts who will be in a position to put a certain sum of money into these societies, but the great body of the people in whom I am interested and who have lost stock are not in a position to do that. A few of them may, but the amount that they will be able to put into one of these societies will fall very short of the total sum required to enable small farmers to replace even the cows they have lost, leaving aside altogether the losses incurred as regards young stock.
That is my candid opinion about the matter, and I fear that that is the situation that will confront those going into districts and making an effort to establish these societies. These societies, I admit, ought to be in existence, and if they were I am certain they would prove very beneficial to the farmers. The point is that people will be going around endeavouring to establish them at a very unfortunate period, at a time when the people are not in a financial position to enable them to rise to the occasion of having such societies established. When men are weighed down by their own difficulties and are obsessed with their own troubles they are certainly not in the frame of mind that would dispose them to come to the help of their neighbours. I am afraid that the object the Minister has in view as regards the establishment of these societies will not be achieved. It would be unwise if we were to give our sanction to this proposal and accept it in the belief that it was going to solve this problem when we know that such is not going to be the case. There is no Deputy in the House more anxious to give hearty support to the proposal of establishing these societies than I am.
I am prepared to give the proposal all the support I can by active work, and I am sure the same holds good in the case of every other Deputy who represents areas in which serious losses have been incurred in this way, but while I say that I desire to make it quite clear that in my opinion the proposal put forward by the Government  will not solve this problem. The farmers in these areas, as the Minister himself knows, are in a serious financial position, and will be able to do very little, if anything. Therefore, I say if the problem is there and is not solved, where is the use in stating that steps have been taken to meet the situation. I think that the Minister should have taken more pains and trouble to discover what the real losses sustained by farmers in this connection have been. The Minister must recognise that it is not by trying to get money from the farmers who have lost their stock that the difficulty is going to be got over. Any steps in that direction are not, I am afraid, going to meet with success. The Minister is aware that on the strength of the original offer which the Government made, the effort to bring these societies into existence did not succeed. Is he anything more hopeful now that his amended offer will arouse sufficient enthusiasm to make the effort a success?
My opinion is that even the amended offer will not succeed in this direction. I do not hold the opinion that the effort will not succeed simply because people are not disposed to help, but what I do hold is that you will not succeed in establishing these societies simply for the reason that the people principally concerned are not in a position to help themselves. Only a week ago I met men from my constituency, men living only a few miles from Deputy Cole, who told me that considerable numbers of cattle had died in their district. The position of these small farmers was this, that they were not able to put any money into a society so as to enable one to be established in their district. They told me they were being asked to pay their rates now, and would soon be pressed for their rents. The result is, of course, that they have no money to assist in the establishment of these societies. These men were not what some would like to call the farmers at times “N'er-do-wells.” On the other hand, they are a hard-working, industrious body of men whose land during seven or eight months of the year has been subjected to heavy flooding. They have only the use of it for a very short period of the year, and now they have  lost their cattle after having a very bad spring. Their prospects at the moment are certainly not very bright. These are the people that we have to try to get into the societies and endeavour to get them to invest their money. We cannot expect to get money from them when they have not got any.
Mr. BAXTER: Can the Minister specify the district in Donegal where they are putting their money into one of these societies, and can he say if this is one of the districts where the people have lost their cattle?
Mr. BAXTER: I want to mark the distinction that there is in this matter. There is a great difference between a really poor district where the people did not lose any of their cattle and a poor district where the people lost 50 or 60 per cent. of their stock.
Mr. BAXTER: I would like the Minister to tell us what has been the result so far of the labours of those who are going into these poor districts in the effort to bring societies of this description into existence. I am not going to oppose this Vote, but I am giving my opinion as to what I believe the result of the Minister's effort will be. If the House accept it, as far as I am concerned, I am prepared to do all I can to make the Minister's effort a success, but I think it is only right and fair that I should point out now that in my opinion the Minister's effort will not solve the problem.
Mr. GOREY: I will not deal with the points that have been so ably dealt with by Deputy Baxter, but I will try to deal with a few points not dealt with already. The principal point that, practically speaking, confronts one in this  matter is the amount of money fixed. The Minister for Lands and Agriculture talks about a limit, and talks about money within the limit. I think, in talking about a limit in this connection, we should first ascertain the limits of loss. I take it the Minister is not in a position to say, within £10,000 or £20,000 what is the limit of the loss.
Mr. GOREY: No, or £50,000 or £100,000. I say that this question of limit ought to be based upon the limit of loss. There is no use approaching it from any other aspect. If the Minister says that the advance will have to be limited to two pounds to one, and no further, we can understand that, but I say this £100,000 ought not to be the limit if more than that sum is required. As much more should not be the limit if more is required. Deputy Baxter asked has the Minister's Department been able to ascertain from its officials, or from the Gárda Síochána what the extent of the loss has been. I take it that the Minister's answer is no.
Mr. GOREY: Then I say that the Minister had better keep an open mind as to this £100,000. There is no use saying that this is to be the limit. I pass from that point and come to another. Of course it is a question of detail. Let us understand the case. Where a man has lost six cows he needs six others to replace them; he is in a position to buy two from his own resources; he has already done so; therefore he has nothing more to put into the fund. What will his position be? Will he get credit for the money he has already put into cattle, or what will the position be? I say, in such a case, or in the case of anybody else in a similar position, credit should be given for what he has actually put into cattle. It is the same as putting money into the society. What will be the position with regard to the stock he holds? Will that be taken as security by this society? The Minister indicates no. I notice that he shakes his head. I admit this is a matter of detail.
Mr. GOREY: I say, in this connection of course, it is a question for the society. Credit should be given to the individual applying for a loan in proportion to the security he can offer in the way of cattle or anything else. Money ought not to be the only test. I do not know how far this scheme is already advanced. So far, I take it, it is only in its initial stages. The year is pretty far advanced, and it will be further advanced before the scheme is perfected. Most of the year is gone, and the sooner this thing is gone on with the better. A considerable amount of loss has already taken place. People have run short of stock and have no means of supplying it. We may take it that the most of the year is gone, that the summer is gone.
Mr. GOREY: It was the fault of the Minister's original offer with his pound for pound. He was asked to give two to one and he did not do it. I think that was the real fault. Occasion has been taken of this unfortunate visitation and the discussion raised here in this House to make capital through the country. Deputies have been attacked for things they said, and things they did not say. Their speeches have been twisted out of all shape. The fact that they stood up in this House to make statements is the only correct thing about the representations made in the country and on the platform and on the posters.
Mr. GOREY: The elections are over now and I am given to understand that those who did these things will not repeat them. It was stated that the only contribution a certain Deputy made in a debate was that those people who lost cattle will mind their cattle when they get them again. That was circulated in the County Clare, a place on the map of Ireland whether it deserves to be there or not. What I did say was that occasion should be taken to impress the necessity and desirability of more care for young cattle and the desirability of better shelter. That is the farthest I have gone in that direction and I hope that lesson will be impressed upon people and that that advice will be availed of. It is one of the great essentials for the success of cattle rearing in this country that they should have better winter care and provision for more shelter. We do not expect a miraculous response to this suggestion but we expect a steady move in that direction and a recognition of the fact that shelter is essential for the proper production of young cattle either as stores or as beef, and that any care bestowed on them is care that is not lost but is care that is essential.
I do believe that the gesture of £2 to £1 will go a good way in a good many cases, perhaps in the majority of cases, to meet the situation, but I know many cases in which it will not be sufficient. The Minister has admitted that, and what I want to know, and what the country wants to know, is what will be done in that particular case. Are we to be up against a blank wall? Is it to be said “so far and no further,” no matter how desirable or how good the case is that is put up?
I hope this is not the last word. I admit, as a general principle, that the effort being made is not a bad one, but certain cases will arise where a two-to-one limit will not be sufficient, and in my view it is not statesmanship to say “we have gone so far and we will go no further whether it is right or wrong.” The Government may say that as a general principle they are prepared to do no more but where exceptional cases can be proved I say  they ought to be prepared to do more if it is possible to do it within reason.
Mr. JOHNSON: I would like to ask the Minister for some information. The case made by Deputy Baxter seems to me to require some comment from the Minister so as to reassure us that there is a fair prospect that the proposed method of assisting credit societies will be effective in the districts which have been particularly badly hit by this visitation of fluke. I gather from him that in some areas the great majority of the small farmers have been hit, and few of them—some of them have— escaped with very little reserves. The theory of the credit society, as I understand it, is that the people are interested and know each other intimately; they have some kind of mutual reliance on each other's probity and integrity, and they will come to each other's assistance in the matter of credit. But, if all the people concerned have been so badly hit that all that can be secured is merely the addition of poverty upon poverty, that does not betoken prosperity and it does not betoken increased confidence and ability to borrow money or to expend money. I am wondering whether the rules regulating credit societies are applicable in the abnormal circumstances which have been produced by widespread visitations of disease, and, shall I say, the intensive losses due to disease. The conclusion one would draw is that you should be able to extend the area on which the credit would be given. It seems to me, unless the instance that Deputy Baxter gives is quite exceptional, that there ought to be some modification.
Mr. JOHNSON: Well, he has given us a general impression from his experience that the disease has fallen with exceptional severity upon certain poor districts and that all the people in those districts on whom, normally, reliance would be placed, have been badly hit by this disease. If that is not a true picture, then, of course, my argument falls. I would assume that there will be some people left in the  district who will be able to add their wealth to their neighbours poverty, and the people will be able mutually to rely on each other's ability to carry on agricultural operations and so will endeavour to withstand the storm. If it is a case where poverty is general, the chance of withstanding the storm will be very much lessened and, possibly, there will be no chance of withstanding it. The Minister should, I think, give us some information. I would like to have some assurance on this point, whether it is proposed, in making this grant to credit societies, to confine it to cases where there has been loss of cattle owing to disease, or would it be possible to get benefit, through the grant to credit societies, where the losses have been due to other causes, such as a succession of bad seasons, and yet where there is faith and confidence in the powers of nature and labour applied to the land to recover and recuperate.
I would like to know whether the Minister can give us any information as to the extent of the losses to milch cows through disease, and if the losses predominate amongst milch cows. If the money to be expended under this Estimate is mainly for the purpose of milch cows, one can see that you are adding to the effective demand for milch cows in the country. While the normal demand from Britain remains, this new demand, backed up by purchasing power, means an increase in the price. I do not think it is fair, if it could be avoided without too much interference with other matters, that the remaining section of the community who will have milch cows to sell, should be able to exploit the poverty caused by disease, of their less fortunate neighbours. It is not entirely a matter of choice. The price would automatically rise unless there is some method of check imposed. I think I raised the question, when the first discussion took place, as to whether it would be necessary to put some check upon the export of milch cows, if this visitation had taken off a large proportion of the agricultural capital of the country. I am sure that is a matter the Minister has given attention to. It would be well if we had some reassurance.
Mr. HEFFERNAN: I feel that this question should be divided under two headings. I believe the attempt that has been made by the Ministry to come to the aid of the farmers who have suffered those losses should have been made before in regard to the establishment of a mutual credit system. That should be kept as a separate matter, apart from the aid that should be given to meet an emergency. I am fully in agreement with Deputy Baxter, and I say that we are willing to give our support and co-operation in establishing and furthering the interests of those credit societies. We have been working for that matter a long time. It was reported on by the Agricultural Commission. We are thankful to the Government for stepping in and making a reasonable offer to the farmers, who are willing to co-operate in establishing these societies. I say that injury will be done to the project by the fact that it has been brought in at this stage to meet an emergency. I think it is wrong that this question of establishing credit societies should have been brought in to meet a very unusual emergency, and what was close to being, in many cases, a catastrophe. The basis of credit is the belief that the money which is advanced is safe and that it will be returned. The difficulty in this case is that the people who require the money, as a result of the catastrophe which has overtaken them are not very good marks, so to speak, for the return of the money. In my county, which is not a county that was badly affected, I find there are certain isolated districts, isolated pockets, where the farmers have lost almost all their cattle owing to the disease. I have here numerous letters from one district in my county.
Mr. HEFFERNAN: I am making the statement that that has been written to me from the district. I have a lot of letters here, and I will have no hesitation in giving the Minister the name of the district from which the letters come, and all particulars, if he requires them.
Mr. HEFFERNAN: North Tipperary. I have had my attention drawn to a number of cases, and I am prepared to place them at the disposal of the Minister. Some of the cases are really heartrending. I will ask the Dáil to bear with me while I read one letter to show what the actual condition of affairs is. This is a letter from a man near Newport, Tipperary:—
“As you are our member, I wish to state to you the losses I have met with in the loss of my cattle. I lost six cows out of ten, besides eight young cattle. It is very hard to live now, and if I do not get some way of working out the heavy rent and rates that I have to pay, and I am trying to rear a young family, when all my means are gone and I have nothing to turn back on, I do not know what way I will try to live. Even the few cows that live with me, their milk is little or nothing. I expect, as you are our farmer member, you will do everything in your power to assist us in hard times.
Mr. HEFFERNAN: I cannot give it publicly as I have not his permission to read it, but I will place all the letters I have before me in the Minister's possession. What is the condition of affairs in that district? The condition of affairs, apparently, is that there are farmers in that one district who have lost practically all their cattle. When it comes to establishing a credit society the position is that the men who want help have not got money to put into a credit society. It might be said that the other farmers surrounding them, the farmers who have not suffered losses and who have money, can go and  put in that money to a society and thereby help in the advances made to these people. That is a fine idealistic view of the conditions that should exist. But will they come into existence and will this view meet the emergency? I am sorry to say that I fear not. I fear the people who have money and who have suffered no losses will not put money into credit societies, because they will have the fear at the back of their minds that the money will not be perfectly safe. That, after all, is human nature. People are very chary about putting money into any project which they feel is not perfectly safe, and in which they stand in danger of losing their capital.
These people who have lost practically all their means have no money to put into these societies, with the result that the societies will not, I am afraid, be established at all. They cannot go to the bank from the very fact of their cattle losses. They are not in a position to give security to the bank and they cannot obtain money from the ordinary credit sources. Another disadvantage is that the scheme is too slow. The emergency cannot be met soon enough. These people lost their cattle in the winter and they want money immediately to buy cattle and put them on the grass to keep their business going, whereas in all probability by the time the organisers, who are to go round to explain to these people the means by which these societies may be established, will have performed their duty, we will have reached the autumn or winter of this year, and the whole summer will have been wasted. I would like to say it is not right to suggest, or to have it go out, that the losses have been due in a great many cases to the bad management of the farmers. My belief is that they are not.
I know one case in particular on a farm in a district near my home. A friend of mine calling to see this farmer in the early winter found this farm with, I think, about nine or ten excellent cows. He stopped to speak to him and he asked him how was it that he got his cows into such an excellent condition. The farmer answered that he  had been feeding them with cake owing to the shortage of grass and the necessity of trying to keep up the milking quality of the cows. He had been feeding them with cake and probably some other foodstuffs with the result that the cows were in a sleek and excellent condition. My friend met the man in the spring again and found that he had only four cows left out of the ten. That is an indication that the losses must not be put down to bad management on the part of these people. It is really a visitation; practically the hand of God.
Mr. HEFFERNAN: I presume they died of fluke, or some incidental illness due to the extremely wet condition of the land in that part of the country to which they belonged. I have heard from a man who buys the hides of these cattle that never before had he such a quantity of hides—and they are mostly from milch cows—as have come in this year. It may seem that some people have suffered only minor losses, that they have lost only a few of their cattle. I know that this scheme is not meant to meet such cases. It is meant to meet cases where people have suffered great losses. I cannot say, nor do I believe that this Vote is going to meet the emergency. It is a useful thing and will be of great help to the farming community in general, eventually. I think it should be strongly supported, and I am willing to support it, but I am sorry it has been brought in at all in connection with this emergency. I believe that in most cases it will not meet the requirements of the case, and I ask the Minister to reconsider the matter and really see if there is not some other solution of the difficulty. I believe there are other solutions.
Mr. HEFFERNAN: I will give the Minister suggestions some time. It is not a case of making points in this matter at all. I believe there are solutions which would meet this emergency and these solutions should be looked into. It is not a case of making political points at all. That is not my intention  in this case. My intention is to get something which will really meet the distress that has arisen. I am sorry to say that I believe the solution which is offered in this grant will not meet the requirements.
Mr. T.J. O'CONNELL: When this question was under discussion on a previous occasion I urged the Minister that pound for pound would not meet the difficulty. I am glad that he has increased it to a two-to-one proportion. I cannot speak with any authority as regards many areas. In my constituency there are some areas that were very much affected by this thing. The areas affected are not the poorest portions of the county. I believe, as regards my constituency, that if the Government's offer is taken advantage of to the fullest extent, it ought, if the factor of time is taken into account, go a considerable distance to meet the difficulty that has arisen through losses that have been sustained by the farmers. I think there ought to be some elasticity in the scheme in view of the representations made by Deputy Baxter. I am certain there are some areas in Cavan and Leitrim—they may be small—where this provision will not meet the case and I think there ought to be some elasticity allowed to the Minister to deal with what are very special cases. He ought not to confine himself entirely to the two-to-one proportion. I do not think there is anything in this estimate binding him. There is nothing in the estimate passed by the Dáil which will absolutely tie him to the two-to-one basis. I think, therefore, he ought not definitely to pledge himself to that except as a general rule. There ought to be elasticity in cases in which the Minister himself is satisfied and is able to satisfy the Minister for Finance, which is no small task, that there are special circumstances. In such cases he should have that power to give a greater proportion to set the scheme working. I am anxious that the Minister should say whether the scheme is confined entirely to those areas in which there has been  fluke disease because I would be glad if it were possible that areas that are in need of those agricultural societies should have an opportunity of benefiting from the scheme if it is possible for them to do so. It is a scheme which should be encouraged by everyone anxious to take steps to provide against misfortunes of this kind, which from time to time, fall on our farming community.
I was interested in what Deputy Gorey said. Of course he knows that I support him in that view. I may give an instance of what has come within my own personal knowledge with regard to this fluke disease and the importance of treating cattle properly. A migrant from Mayo was moved to Roscommon. In Mayo in the small farms they have they never allow their young stock to remain out at night in winter. They house them always in the winter time. This migrant, who came up to the good lands of Roscommon, did not lose the custom altogether. He continued the habit of housing his young stock and feeding them in the winter. This migrant is in the middle of a fluke district. Yet he never lost from his stock but one sheep, while all his neighbours had their cattle wiped out by the disease.
Mr. O'CONNELL: I am only stating facts that I know. Whether it was due to the fact that he housed the animals or not, I leave for the farmers to say. He was the only migrant in that district. All his neighbours lost their young cattle while he never lost one. There may be other reasons, but I attribute it to the fact that he continued the habit of housing his young stock in the winter time.
Mr. CONLAN: I think it is a pity that provision for some machinery has not been made for what might be described as isolated cases of serious loss that have taken place pretty generally  all over the country. In my area I should not say that losses from fluke disease have been widespread. At the same time, there are fairly numerous cases. A man came to me not very long ago and told me that out of six milch cows he had lost five; he lost nine cattle out of fourteen, and some sheep as well. I know in that case it was not the result of neglect, because I know him to be an industrious and intelligent farmer. His farm suffered, inasmuch as it was liable to flooding, and in that way the disease was contracted. Those cases are fairly numerous, and there seems no way in which a man, who suffers as those men suffer, can be relieved. I told him there was no means of which I knew by which he could get the loan except from a local bank. He said his credit was so low that there was no prospect of his getting a loan from the local bank. Something should be done to meet a case of that sort. A man who suffered in that way should be able to put up a case to the Department. An inspector could be sent to a district, and if he found the cases were genuine ones some relief might be given. With regard to the points Deputy O'Connell touched on with regard to housing, different conditions obtain in different parts of the country. In my county it is found that when cattle come to a certain age they are better out in winter, and they are much freer, if they are kept out, from tuberculosis, a disease which affects cattle who are not housed in a well-ventilated place.
MINISTER for FISHERIES (Mr. Lynch): I regret very much that Deputy Crowley is absent from this important debate on a subject to which he contributed usefully when the matter came up here on Deputy Baxter's motion. In his absence I should like to say a few words on the Kerry situation. I think Deputy Crowley convinced the Dáil that a serious state of affairs existed in North Kerry as a result of fluke. I have been over a great deal of the county in the last couple of  months. I have been over the west, the south, the south-west, and a little in the east, and I think it can be said that the position in the south and south-west is far graver than in the north. The position in Valentia Island and in what may be called the hinterland of Cahirciveen is worse than in North Kerry, because the marginal line above starvation was always much lower down there in those very poor holdings than it was in North Kerry. In fact, the people in South Kerry looked on the people in North Kerry as very strong farmers. This disease has affected South Kerry just as much as it has affected North Kerry, and the people down there have been able to bear it less. While one might expect there would be some possibility of the farmers in North Kerry coming to their own assistance, one could hardly hope for the same thing from the farmers in Cahirciveen and the Valentia area. If I understand the principle of the credit assistance at all, it is not so much to the persons who are down and out themselves you are appealing to put up a contribution. If I understand the thing rightly, it is putting it up to the person who has made a good thing out of the farmers in the past, and there are such persons in the poorest districts. It is up to the merchants in the town of Cahirciveen and Listowel who have made money in the good years out of the farmers——
Mr. LYNCH: If you do not put it up to them you cannot blame them for not coming forward themselves. There are merchants in the impoverished areas whose duty it is to come forward and help the farmers. I say it is good business for them. I hope that the Minister for Finance will take this to heart. It is an absolute analogy as between my Department and the borrowers who are in arrears. I say that it is good business for us to continue to give loans in order to get back the money which is in arrears in my Department. I say that it is also good business for a shopkeeper to put money into credit societies to recover money outstanding in his books in districts where he gets his custom. A great many shopkeepers are prepared  to do their bit if they get the co-operation of other men of similar standing. I know a shopkeeper in Cahirciveen—it may interest Deputy Gorey to know that he is also a schoolmaster —who canvassed the town and planked down £100 himself to start a credit society. His brother-in-law put down £50. This was on a fifty-fifty basis, but he had not much success and failed to get going. I believe, however, that on the new basis of two-to-one he will succeed. If you get men in different districts who are prepared to take their courage in their hands and who are prepared from a selfish point of view, if you like, to back the farmers to recover their position, I believe that these societies will be a success. There is no doubt that the shopkeepers, even in poor areas, can do it if they will, and can be made to try, if it is put up to them in the right way, to support these societies. I believe if that is done and credit societies are formed, we may succeed in turning what appeared to be an extraordinary curse into a very great blessing.
Mr. CONNOR HOGAN: As it is impossible for a Deputy to move to increase the amount of an estimate, I am rather forced to avail myself of another privilege, namely, to move a resolution that the Vote be referred back for reconsideration. In my opinion this Estimate of £100,000 falls far short of what will be required, even as a Government contribution, to meet the exigencies of the situation. While I fully appreciate the sympathetic attitude of the Government in giving £2 for every £1 subscribed locally, I should say that the net result of that offer has been to curtail the total amount of money available for the relief of distress. I will prove it. Originally the proposition of the Government was on a fifty-fifty basis, and on every £100 put up by the Government it meant a sum of £200 in the hands of a functioning credit society. On the new basis, while the Government will put up £100,000, there will only be £50,000 derived from local sources. So that you have only £150,000 on the basis of the new proposition of the Government, as against  £200,000 according to the original proposition. I submit that that sum is altogether inadequate to deal with the situation. It is quite true that you cannot hope to raise much money locally. I submit that there is a positive duty on the Government to increase this Estimate considerably. The Minister, I am sure, will realise the fact that in one instance the total amount would have been something like £200,000, whereas under the changed circumstances it is now only £150,000. What is £150,000 when taken in conjunction with the distress? I submit it is negligible, or next to nothing. I think that a proper census should have been taken as to mortality. It has been put up in quarters which should know better that this has been a stunt, and I have personally been implicated in that charge. It is not a stunt. It is hard fact. I would ask these people, seeing that they are so illogical as not to perceive where they are leading, if this is pure rot and bunkum why if there have been no losses except, say, in an isolated area in West Clare, it is necessary to start a credit society? If the loss is only local, why does the situation call for such remedial measures? If it is only local why elevate it to the dignity of a national question? Our veracity is, to some extent, involved in this. I think there is justification for instituting a census of losses. It is the only way. You have the Gárda Síochána available for the purpose, and let them collect statistics. When you know the size of a holding you have a rough idea of its carrying power. If people made inaccurate statements there is a law to deal with them just as there is a law to deal with people who furnish inaccurate returns for income tax purposes. An effort should be made to find out, as far as possible, the extent of the losses. The Minister, when dealing with this question some time ago, made a conservative estimate of the losses as roughly 5 per cent. of the cattle of the country. We know that there are upwards of 4,000,000 cattle of all ages and sizes in the country. Five per cent. of that number would mean, roughly, 200,000. It is immaterial whether all these 200,000 cattle died of fluke, because,  whatever they died of, there has been a loss to the country.
Mr. CONNOR HOGAN: Very well. Take it this way. How are you going to deal with areas where the loss has been up to 30 per cent.? We must estimate this as a national loss. If we put the value of each animal at £10, which is a conservative estimate, and take the number of cattle that died to be 200,000, it means a national loss of £2,000,000. Yet under the proposal of the Government all that is put up is between £150,000 and £200,000. I submit therefore that that fact alone justifies my suggestion to have the Vote referred back for reconsideration. It is altogether inadequate. The position, as it presents itself to me, is that the sufferers, out of their poverty, have got to relieve themselves. True, self-help is admirable. But think of all the difficulties of dealing with the situation. The people do not take readily, I am sorry to say, to co-operation in the County Clare, because many of the co-operative enterprises have been failures.
Mr. C. HOGAN: It is not necessarily the fault of the Government. I am not accusing the Government of it. It is a distortion of the facts to suggest that I am. Looking at the human problem, you find that when once beaten in an enterprise men will be shy for a long time. A co-operative butter-blending factory was established in Kilrush in the Co. Clare a few years ago. Already it is in process of liquidation. That is discouraging to the people. Several farmers have been involved and involved very seriously in that and the whole co-operative movement has received a distinct check in Co. Clare. I  think that this method, through the co-operative medium, while it might be very useful in normal circumstances, is altogether inadequate to deal with the crisis that we find ourselves confronted with. In various parts of Co. Clare a crisis has arisen and it is driving men rather to extreme lengths. Aggravated by their losses and by the black and dismal prospect before them, they are receptive to insidious propaganda and the State, in its own interest, must move on higher lines if it is to deal with the situation. You may get a credit society started, but even that is doubtful. You may get a man who has £10, instead of buying a beast, to put the money in a credit society and in that way, with others, have something like £30 available. The theory is perfect, but having regard to human nature it falls short in actual application. Then there are certain charges due on the lands and the owners, in many cases, have not the wherewithal to meet their land purchase annuities and rates. The Dáil has passed extraordinary legislation for the collecting of debts. When the credit societies come into being, will the sheriff when a man has a few beasts on his land, come along and seize those beasts on foot of a decree for annuities or compounded arrears of rent or payment of interest in lieu of rent or rates? I submit that that is a situation of unusual difficulty, but it is a thing we have got to see in perspective. I regret to have to say that in very severe cases we will have to ask in very bad areas, for certain types of small farmers, for a moratorium in respect of those charges. Let them be collected a year or so hence. Or, better still, on a farm on which there is an annuity payable, say, for the next 60 years, compute this annuity as from a date to be named henceforward. I know it is a serious proposition to put forward, but I feel that in justice to the people we have no alternative——
Mr. C. HOGAN: If you send out your sheriff and your bailiffs to the  holdings of those people and take the stock they have purchased with the money of the credit society, what happens? Have you not a prospective bankrupt? Do you think the credit society can give him a second loan? I ask the Minister to envisage the problem. I know the situation is one of extreme difficulty, but there is one suggestion I would put forward. I am no believer, perhaps, in the capacity of local authorities.
Mr. C. HOGAN: It is an uphill fight, but there will be ultimate triumph. I have only local knowledge as to the working of the Manures and Seeds Act. The District Councils might have been utilised in that connection. But then, unfortunately, the District Councils have gone and we have no other machinery. The County Council is an unwieldy body and, with the mass of business it has to deal with, cannot efficiently deal with this matter. If we had committees functioning under the Co. Councils in certain areas, with power to recommend advances to needy applicants, would it not be possible to get the rate collector to collect the amount due, by special authority? Whatever loan is made, I am afraid it must extend over a long period. It should not be a loan for a year. It will have to be a loan for three years, at least. There are cases in which people will not be in as flourishing a position ten years hence as they were two years ago. While I feel that the credit society system can scarcely meet the situation, I submit that the amount of money put forward on behalf of the Government is inadequate and I move  that this Vote be referred back for reconsideration.
Mr. JOHNSON: I would point out that we have not entered upon discussion of items. There is only the main question in this Vote—the general proposition—and we are not entering upon the consideration of details.
Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: With respect, surely it is in order at any time before entering upon discussion upon particular items, to make a motion of this kind. Apart altogether from the actual wording of the Order, it has been done constantly and consistently before. After some time has been expended on the main question, before entering upon the details, this motion has been moved. I know it has been done. I have done it two or three times myself—sometimes while you were in the Chair, and sometimes when the Ceann Comhairle was in the Chair. Your ruling now, I suggest, with every respect, is contrary to the wording of the Order and contrary to the precedent we have established in this House.
Mr. JOHNSON: I submit that that explains the meaning which is to be taken out of the Standing Order. Until the purpose of the Estimate has been discussed, it is impossible for us to come to a conclusion as to whether it ought to be referred back or not. It is after a certain preliminary discussion has taken place that a Deputy is in a position to judge as to whether it is essential to have a Vote referred back for reconsideration. We have not entered upon consideration of details such as are referred to in the Standing Order and such as appear in the ordinary Estimates. I submit, purely as a matter of order, that you ought not to debar us from moving a reference back on a matter which we have not discussed in detail, because there are no details.
Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: The position may work out something like this: Some information may come to the House either through a Ministerial statement or from a statement made by a Deputy in the course of a debate, that new information requiring, or seeming to require the reference back of the Vote. I suggest that not only is such a ruling as you are now proposing contrary to precedent and contrary to the text of the Standing Order, but that it may place this House in very grave and considerable difficulty in the future, if new information should suddenly come into the possession of the House that seems to require reconsideration of the Vote under discussion. Such reconsideration would be precluded by this ruling.
The PRESIDENT: It was moved on the Army Estimate at a certain stage in the discussion that the Vote be referred back. It was decided then, as in the present case, that as we had passed from the general question, the motion could not be taken, but that a motion could be taken to reduce the Vote. That was done and several reductions were moved, but the sending back of the Vote was held not to be in order at that time.
Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: My recollection is entirely the same as that of the President, and he has stated the position quite accurately in that case. I suggest that when we enter upon the consideration of a Vote, it is possible to do one of two things—while we are on the main question, to move to refer back or when we are on details, to move to reduce. Until you have entered on details, you can move to refer back, but after that you can move to reduce. At any time during the discussion, a Deputy is free to do one of these two things. In this case, we have not entered upon the discussion of details.
Mr. JOHNSON: The Standing Order reads: “It shall be in order, before entering upon the discussion of the items in a Vote ....” That presupposes the ordinary procedure. There is, in the ordinary votes, the general total of the Estimate which is discussed in general terms. Then we enter on the discussion of the sub-heads (a) (1), (a) (2), and so on. It is quite evident, I would submit, that this Standing Order refers to the discussion of the itemised details of the administration of a Department. In this case, we are discussing the general question of agricultural and credit societies. There are no items. It is merely a repetition in each case of the main question. I submit that this is a matter of some importance, because it might be regarded as a precedent that we should not be allowed, once a discussion has gone beyond the opening statement, to move to refer an Estimate back for reconsideration.
Mr. JOHNSON: That is a possibility. But in this case there are no items for discussion. If we had entered upon the  items—salaries, postal expenses, etc.— then it could be obviously not a case for referring back.
AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE: I will allow the amendment, but, at the same time, I do not agree with the view put forward by Deputy Figgis, that there were any precedents against my ruling, because this is an exceptional vote and does not include sub-heads. It is unusual procedure to make this motion at so late a stage in the debate. In this case there has been more than the opening statement. The subject has been spoken to by eight or nine Deputies, and it is very unusual procedure at such a late stage in the consideration of a vote to make a motion of this nature. However, as there has been no other opportunity of obtaining an expression of opinion, as to whether the Vote should be larger or not, I will take the amendment.
Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: Would you allow me to say, with respect, that I recognise that you suggested the course you did because it is unquestionably inconvenient after a long debate to have a motion of this character made. The reason I interposed was not because I did not perceive the inconvenience and unusual nature of this motion, but because I was afraid lest your ruling might prove injurious in the future.
Mr. WALL: Generally speaking, I think the people throughout the country will appreciate the Government's attitude in this case, in which it puts up £2 to the £1. I believe that by putting up £2 to the £1 the Government will be able to deal with the majority of cases. Nevertheless there may be isolated districts, and I think that in these isolated districts the Minister should have power to use his own discretion and should be in a position to increase the grant, if necessary. Like Deputy Conlan, I  also would support the suggestion to the Minister that he ought to make provision for those isolated cases in those counties which have been visited by the scourge, and I do so for this reason, that it will take a very considerable time before these credit societies are fully established. In the meantime those farmers who have been badly hit by disease of one kind or another during the past winter would, undoubtedly, have to go out of farming. I do not think that that is the desire of anybody in the country who has the interests of the country or the interests of the farmers at heart. For that reason I would be inclined to allow a considerable amount of discretion to the Minister in these cases. I would allow far more discretion than is usually allowed. The scheme of credit societies is, I think, an ideal one, and will, when it is developed, help the farmers to help one another in the future. Of course we are up against an emergency and we will have to deal with it promptly. For that reason I would like to give the Minister a considerable amount of latitude in this matter.
Mr. COLE: I am perfectly satisfied that the scheme will give some assistance to the country at large, but I am afraid it will not assist sufficiently the unfortunate people who have been afflicted by having the disease on their land. I am sure that a number of these societies will be started; the problem will be to get the money advanced. I know several farmers who would be quite willing to join, but it is only those farmers who have money that will be in a position to join. The Minister knows better than anybody how hard it is to get money in the country at present. He is well aware of the numbers of civil bills that have been issued, and knows it is almost impossible to get any money from small farmers, especially in the districts affected. Will these societies be permitted to lend money to pay rent, for instance, or must the money be used for re-stocking the land? Deputy Baxter asked for statistics. I know the Minister will be able to reply to that, that he will be able to say that he has made certain inquiries through the creameries as to the  losses of cattle. In going to them for his information the Minister started at the wrong end, because a great many farmers have no milk to send to the creameries, and consequently statements from the creameries are not satisfactory. I was rather amused at the suggestion of the Minister for Fisheries regarding the shopkeepers. If he knew the shopkeepers, especially in my county, he would not make such a suggestion. The shopkeepers are practically bankrupt, because they are waiting on the farmers, who are not in a position to pay their bills. They have been advancing goods all along to get over this period, in the hope that something would be done, but nothing has yet been done. It is quite possible that where a shopkeeper is backed up by a schoolmaster's salary of £350 a year, he would be in a position to advance money and become a moneylender, but unless in such a case I do not think it would be possible for him to do so.
Mr. NOLAN: In the absence of the Minister for Finance, might I make a suggestion to Deputy Hogan. I wonder if this Vote were increased to £500,000 would he be satisfied? I have not the authority of the Minister for Finance for making that suggestion. In my opinion £500,000 would no more meet the situation than the £100,000, or, to put it in another way, you might as well say £100 as £100,000. I would like to change the name Agricultural Credit Society to Agricultural Benevolent Society, because you cannot get farmers to put up even one shilling to the £ at present. Where they have lost heavily they cannot afford it. Those who have the money will not risk it. Shopkeepers will tell you that they cannot give any more credit to farmers. I have sympathy with every farmer who has suffered losses. Most small farmers have lost a beast of one kind or another. But I would say that a very small percentage of cattle have died from fluke. I think the loud talk in the Dáil has done more harm to the country than fluke has done.
Mr. NOLAN: I agree that it is politics on both sides, to a great extent, and it has done great harm. It would be better if Deputies would tell the truth, rather than be broadcasting such statements as to the state of the country.
Mr. BAXTER: I do not want the Deputy to make a statement that is not true. As far as I am concerned, I put this forward simply and solely because it was an economic problem that forced itself on me, and has forced itself on every other Deputy who comes from a constituency like mine.
Mr. HOGAN: May I say that what I referred to was simply what Deputy Nolan stated, that talk in the Dáil has done more harm to the farmers and to the cattle trade than anything else, even the fluke. I am inclined to agree with him, and there is not a cattle or sheep dealer in Ireland that would not agree with him also. I am not suggesting that this is being brought forward for political reasons. I am saying definitely that statements made in the Dáil have done a good deal of harm to the cattle and sheep trade—statements as to the condition of stock in special districts.
Mr. NOLAN: If a farmer in 1923 bought a score of yearlings, they would sell in April, 1924, at about £8 10s. per head. If in 1924 he replaced these yearlings and lost, say, half of them—very few people lost half of their stock, only a small percentage of them died of fluke—those he lost would be the worst. Yearlings which sold in 1924 for £8 per head would be worth practically £11 in 1925 owing to the advance in prices. If, as is probable, the worst of them died, the remainder would be worth  £12 per head in 1925. So that, instead of getting £160 for the twenty in 1924, he would get £120 in the following April for the ten he had left. If the county councils in England took action on the statements made in the Dáil a few months ago and said: “Irish cattle are all diseased; they all have fluke; we will have no more of their stores; we will put a ban on their stores coming in to this country,” what would that man's losses be? He would have to sell his yearlings at £5 or £6 per head, and that is where the great loss would come in. I have sympathy with every farmer who has lost a beast, and I am sure a good many have suffered losses. I know very few small farmers who have not lost a beast of some kind or other. A good deal of sheep died of fluke, but not the percentage that we are told. I do not think 25 per cent. of them died of fluke. Owing to the talk about fluke in sheep, people will not touch mutton, with the result that the price has gone down. More harm has been done to the sheep breeders and to the country because of that than was done by the fluke.
Mr. NOLAN: According to the Minister there are 400,000 farmers in this country with a valuation under £20. If all of these lost a beast or a sheep, is £100,000 going to compensate them? It would give them approximately 5/- each. If you increase the amount to £500,000, it would amount to about 25/- each. By the time all the necessary inquiries had been made and proof obtained of the number of cattle lost by each person, and when you allow for the cost of those inquiries the amount would probably work out at 10/- or 15/- per farmer. I do not believe that the exact losses could be ascertained. I get letters from men who have lost cattle and the number they give is at least double the number they have actually lost.
Mr. NOLAN: I am sure Deputy Baxter will say later that the Farmers' Party got none of the money, that it  was the Cumann na nGaedheal supporters who got it, as was stated some time ago about the relief grants.
Mr. NOLAN: Even if the amount were increased to £5,000,000 it could not be distributed in a way which would satisfy the people. It would have been better if the Minister, instead of taking up this, had said he could not give anything, as this is only raising hopes that something can be done. Let them do something else with the land when they are short of cattle. The land is not able to carry as many cattle this year as last year. The man who has two-thirds of the cattle he had last year is no worse off, as far as feeding is concerned. As to the County Clare, fluke has been in existence in districts in that county for a number of years. About 12 years ago I bought cattle at a fair there and they died of fluke. The representatives of the farmers in Clare did not go to the Government at that time and look for grants or loans.
Mr. NOLAN: I did not interrupt the Deputy when he was speaking. I speak here very seldom, but whenever I do speak I am interrupted by Deputies of the Farmers' Party. I think that it ought not to be allowed.
Mr. NOLAN: Deputies should have brought this on some years ago and should have asked for relief from the Government then in existence. I am speaking about the losses of cattle. One complaint I have to make against the Department of Agriculture is that when they did take samples of hay for analysis last year they should have advised  the farmers as to the quality, because the real losses last year were occasioned by bad hay. There was a big supply of it and it was no good, though the farmers depended on it.
Mr. NOLAN: Bad hay was frequently the cause of the losses. I believe that more cattle died as a result of bad hay than from fluke. I hope that the Minister for Finance will admit that £100,000, or even £200,000, would not be sufficient to give the required relief. At all times, even in normal years, farmers have lost a certain amount of stock, and £100,000 would not pay for such stock. In some parts of the County Limerick calves have been lost for one reason or another, and even these losses would run up to £100,000 or more. I am sorry if I have disappointed Deputy Hogan by suggesting that £500,000 would be of some advantage, but I have not the authority of the Minister for Finance to make such an offer.
Mr. BAXTER: Is Deputy Nolan giving us to understand that there is really no problem, that it is all a fake, a myth, and that he is advising the Minister for Lands and Agriculture to withdraw this Vote?
Mr. HOGAN: I do not know whether it is in order for Deputies to ask questions of each other across the House. I want to protest against the suggestion made by Deputy Baxter. Deputy Nolan very clearly set out his idea of what the problem is. As far as I could understand from him he never suggested that there was no problem; he analysed the problem more accurately than I have heard it analysed for the last two years.
Mr. VAUGHAN: This Vote will be of great advantage to some farmers who will be able to put money into these agricultural credit societies, but most of the farmers who have been affected by the disease are in very poor circumstances. There have been numerous cases in my constituency, more especially in poorer districts, such as on the  borders of Kerry, where farmers have lost five or six head of cattle each and are unable to put money into credit societies. They have to pay their rates and rent and support their families, just as the well-off farmers have to do, and they will become bankrupt and will have to go out of business. This scheme will be of great advantage to farmers who will be able to put money into credit societies, but how will those who have not the money, and who have lost a number of cattle, be able to carry on their business? They will not get any assistance from the State. In the mountainous districts the small farmers are very hard hit and are not able to meet the demands made on them. I would ask the Minister to devise some other means of assistance to meet these cases, because I am sure, in my constituency at any rate, that credit societies will not be able to give them the relief they require.
Mr. HOGAN: I want to make it clear that I am not under the delusion, and neither, I am sure, is Deputy Nolan, if he will allow me to speak for him, that this matter has been raised for political reasons. No one makes that charge against anybody. I am perfectly sure that Deputy Baxter has not raised the question for such reasons, and that his attitude has been absolutely unequivocal the whole time. We are all quite clear about that. But I really expected that someone would have congratulated Deputy Nolan on his speech.
Mr. HOGAN: It is just the speech that any working farmer who is himself up against the problem, who has to make ends meet, would make. It is the sort of statement I have heard at meetings of working farmers all over the country, and it absolutely analyses the position. Deputy Nolan perhaps overstated it when he said that nobody will buy mutton now on account of all that has been said about fluke in sheep. That does not apply nationally. It did apply at one time in various districts; people got very chary with regard to the matter  at certain times, and there is no doubt that as far as the trade at certain fairs was concerned a great deal of harm has been done by inaccurate statements, especially those made here, in regard to the amount of fluke, the losses and the condition of stock in certain districts. I know this myself as a farmer; I know it as dealing with farmers and meeting them. That was the burden of Deputy Nolan's point in that regard. He also said, and said rightly, that £100,000 is not enough to meet this problem. He said rightly that £500,000 would not go here or there in that problem. If you think of £500,000, or say two million pounds, to pay for losses in stock the figures look appalling, but you must think of them in relation to other figures of losses and gains. Stock die every year worth nearly two millions from all sorts of diseases. I will not attempt to say what is the average percentage from fluke. Remember that two million pounds is really a small thing, looked at nationally. What does one extra barrel of oats in the Saorstát represent on the present acreage? How many statute acres of oats are there in the Saorstat? I think nearly 2,000,000. Two barrels of oats at even 10/- a barrel would mean more than £2,000,000. That seems to be challenged. There are about 2,000,000 acres of oats in the country. I agree that the ordinary farmer tills four acres on an average 30 acre farm. Two barrels of oats extra means £2,000,000, if oats are worth 10/- a barrel. What do Deputies think is the value of this fine weather? Is it worth a barrel of oats extra to the acre? Is it worth an extra ton of mangolds or an extra ton of turnips to the acre? How many tons extra is it worth provided we get a good harvest? If you calculate the value of the good weather we are getting, assuming for the purpose of argument, that we get a reasonably good harvest, you would have to put the value to the country of a summer like this at something like £15,000,000. If I were in a position to come here and spend £15,000,000 on agriculture I would get the plaudits of everyone. There would be some difference  of opinion as to how it would be spent.
Mr. HOGAN: I want Deputies when thinking of the losses from fluke to realise what £2,000,000 means. I agree with Deputy Nolan that if the losses from fluke were one and a half per cent., £100,000 would not go anywhere to deal with them. £500,000 would not go anywhere to deal with the problem if divided amongst every man who has lost stock to buy equivalent stock. When Deputy Johnson talks about the effect on the price of cows and sheep of this epidemic it raises a consideration as to what we ought to do in regard to the export of cows. If I may say so, he is talking in the air. If I went into any fair and met a few farmers and said: “There is going to be a good trade to-day, there has been a good deal of losses in the neighbourhood, and you will get good prices for cows,” they would laugh at me. They would give me a small brandy and take me home and say there was something wrong. There is no effect on the trade of the country.
Mr. HOGAN: Certainly not. I took it that the Deputy was assuming that large numbers of stock died, and that something should be done for that reason to limit the ordinary supply and demand for cows so that the price of cows would not go to an abnormal amount. If he was assuming that he was assuming something that every  farmer and dealer in Ireland knows has nothing to do with the relative price of cows.
Mr. JOHNSON: I had nothing to go upon except the information conveyed to myself, to the public and the Dáil by those who ought to know. We have had no authoritative information from the Minister as to the number of cows that died, and the proportion of the total number of cows that are exported. I do not know if the proportion is as high as is suggested. No confirmation has been given, but if it is it will undoubtedly have an appreciable effect on the price.
Mr. HOGAN: The Deputy is really expecting too much from me. I am not able to give the figures. I will be able to give a general picture of the situation, but I could not give figures for the reason that Deputy Nolan pointed out. Deputy Baxter is a great believer in a census, but as every practical farmer knows a census in a case like this would be worse than useless. It would get you nowhere. Deputy Baxter wanted to know how I got my information and blamed me for not getting accurate information. I got reports from every instructor, every inspector in the country, and I got reports also from as many reliable men as possible. I got information that I think most about myself. I got information in Galway, where there are half the entire sheep of Ireland. I come from a district which is affected by fluke; I have been there fifteen times in the last three months. I made it my business to get a shrewd knowledge of what was happening in my own parish, in the next parish and at the other end of the county, and I was able to make up my mind what was the position in Galway, a county in which there is half the sheep of Ireland. I was able to meet people from other parts of the country upon whose opinion I relied, and to come to a fairly accurate judgment without having statistics, without having very many definite facts, so that I could form an average picture of the situation.
I am able to state that, in my opinion, not more than 5 per cent. or 6 per cent. of stock died. I do not want to minimise the losses districts and individuals have suffered. An individual may have lost 30 or 40 sheep out of 50 or so. That is a very severe loss, and it is very little consolation to him to know that it is not a national calamity. It has been serious for individuals but not from the national point of view. We cannot deal with individuals in the way that is suggested casually from various parts of the Dáil. It has been suggested that we ought to make a loan of about £2,000,000 to deal with 5 per cent. of the stock. A loan of £3,000,000 would be necessary to deal with a loss of 5 per cent. of the sheep and the cattle.
Imagine the difficulties of a Minister administering such a loan. Supposing there were £3,000,000 forthcoming, would it be a productive way of spending it? I do not think so. I know the farmers generally, and I know that a great number of the farmers would rather have £3,000,000 taken off taxation. I know if I got in touch with representative farmers as to what I would do with this £3,000,000 what their answer would be. When I referred to this Deputy Baxter suggested it was politics. It is not politics, it is business. We have to come down to details. It is coming down to details to say that it takes £3,000,000 to deal with this problem, and that you can only deal with five per cent. of the stock of the country. I agree with the rather brutal point of view that, as regards the farmer who has a fair bit of capital—and land is capital—that there is no obligation on the State to help him, and we cannot do it.
If he meets with a non-recurrent loss of this sort he is in the same position as a shopkeeper who suffers loss. Probably the farmer who suffered that loss got an advance of £2,000 to buy his farm, repayable at 67½ years' purchase. If he meets a non-recurrent loss of that sort we cannot come to his aid any more than we could come to the aid of  a shopkeeper in Dawson Street. We could not do it. We are trying to deal with the special problem of very poor districts. It makes a big difference to the poor man who has two or three sheep if he loses one. It makes a big difference to the man who has two or three acres of land, and who is living on the border line of destitution, if he loses two cattle out of four. I believe we will be able to form societies in the poorer districts. I welcome the undertaking from the Farmers' Benches that while disagreeing with the method they are willing to do all they can to make the societies a success. That is useful. We will require their co-operation, and I am glad that we will have it from all parties in the Dáil.
I have no doubt these societies will be helpful in the poorer districts. You can get money more readily in the poorer districts, I believe, than in the richer districts. You will find a rich farmer who will not put in a pound into a society to help his weak neighbour. In the poorer districts they are more ready to assist one another. They have a certain bond of poverty and feel for each other. I would rather start a society in Cahirciveen, the poorest part of Kerry, than in Limerick. I would rather start a society in Connemara than in Limerick, and I believe I would get money quicker. I would rather start a society in Connemara than in South Tipperary, and I would get the money quicker. We do not intend this money to help anybody but the poor farmer in the poor districts. As a solution of this problem, £500,000 would go neither here nor there. You cannot think of this problem in terms of £500,000, or £2,000,000, but from the national point of view. This society is not dependent on loans from the farmers who have suffered losses in the poorer districts. You will find farmers who have £50 between them and who want £150.
That is where we come in and will be able to help. Farmers who have not had any losses will be able to put in money on deposit at four per cent. interest, and the society can get money on its security as a society. The farmer who has lost can be helped, and the  society, as a whole, can use its own security for the purpose of getting money elsewhere, and by other means. The case of special districts has been mentioned by Deputy Wall. We will see, as the scheme goes on, whether there are special poor districts that will need special measures. Another question that was raised was as to whether a loan could be made for restocking, or for any legitimate purpose. A man who has lost his stock may have a loan for partial restocking. He may want money for nitrate of soda, mangolds, or to pay his rent—it does not matter as long as the applicant is bona fide and the purpose legitimate, there is nothing to stop the society from making him a loan. Deputy Heffernan suggested that the farmers around Newport have lost practically all their stock. These are his actual words, and that is an absurd suggestion.
Mr. HEFFERNAN: Might I further explain that I did not mean that they lost all their stock, but that I have had a great deal of correspondence from that district in which it was stated that they have lost about 75 per cent. of their stock in each case. That is my information, and that is all I can go on.
Mr. HOGAN: I was asked if I had gone to creameries in connection with this matter to get information there. The Deputy who asked that is an extremely innocent man. You walk into a creamery, and ask the manager, who is a competent man, or the farmers there, “Did you lose many cattle?” They say “No.” I say “Why,” and the answer is “So and so used to send milk to the creamery and he sends none now because his cows have died.”
Mr. HOGAN: Yes, and there are other sources for getting information. We do not live in water tight compartments. The manager hears and knows perfectly well, and every one in the parish knows that so and so's cows died. He knows the reason why the cows died. As a rule, the creamery manager can get reliable information.
Mr. JOHNSON: The Minister has not satisfied me, rather he has created a greater doubt in my mind. On this question of the effect of the losses of milch cows he rather pooh-poohs the idea that the losses of the milch cows would have any effect on the prices. He gave us the figure of a possible 5 per cent. of the cattle of the country as having been lost.
Mr. JOHNSON: Yes, of stock. I sought for precise information, or at least for an estimate as I realise that precise information is impossible. I sought for an estimate based upon a variety of sources of information, and we get the estimate of 5 per cent. of stock. But let us apply the 5 per cent., if it is a legitimate inference, to milch cows. If that is a legitimate inference, then I say the position is more serious than the Minister would admit if possible. Five per cent. of milch cows——
Mr. HOGAN: I must protest against the Deputy's statement. He said the more information I give of this character the better. I gave every bit of this information on two previous occasions to the Dáil, and it was really for the purpose of not wasting the time of the  Dáil to-day that I did not go over it all again.
Mr. JOHNSON: I think that the Minister, even now, has not yet given us any indication as to the number of milch cows that may have been lost in the country. He has insisted, as others have, that as things are the capital of the dairying industry in the country is represented in the milch cow. Five per cent. losses amongst milch cows would amount to £75,000. If the demand from Britain for milch cows remains normal, you are increasing the demand on the surplus that is exportable by the replacement of those milch cows for Irish purposes and assuming—I have not got the exact figures before me— that the export is as high as 300,000, a figure which in my opinion is far too high for milch cows, then you have to add to the number required 25 per cent. to be sold for home use, for the replacement of losses or for export. That is to say, you have to increase the effective demand by 25 per cent., and if that is not going to make a considerable difference in prices, then the ordinary business effects of supply and demand do not apply to the market in cattle.
Mr. JOHNSON: I am not quite so ignorant of the variation in the prices of milch cows, but it will not be beyond the knowledge and the experience of the Minister that if the drought were to continue for a few weeks longer in England it would raise the price appreciably in a very short time. The drought would cause an increase in the demand for milk in the towns, or perhaps I had better say it would be reflected in the shortage in the supply of milk. If that demand of 25 per cent. increased you would have a definite and an appreciable rise in the prices here. All I am asking is that all these facts be taken into account. It is not enough to say that the replacement of losses in Ireland, reducing the exportable surplus, will not affect appreciably the price of milch cows in Ireland. From  the various statements that the Minister has made, I deduce, although it is merely an inference, that there has not been anything like five per cent. of the milch cows of the country taken off by fluke.
Mr. JOHNSON: There are young stock and two-year-olds which are not milch cows and are not calves. We have general statements and I quite appreciate that we must have general statements in this matter. It would have been of some importance to have had information as to the effect upon what I may call the capital of the dairy industry by these losses. If it is much less than five per cent., then so much to the good, and by so much is my contention minimised, but I hope that the Minister will watch the effect of the losses upon the price of milch cows.
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