Thursday, 6 June 1935
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. Morrissey: When the House adjourned last night I was dealing with certain statements which had been made on this Estimate by members of the Government Party, and in particular with certain statements regarding what has been described as the campaign against the payment of land annuities. In the course of Deputy Donnelly's speech yesterday —and, as I remarked last week, the Deputy's manner in this House has completely changed since the by-elections started—he said that the Opposition were leading the farmers to destruction; the Opposition, not the Government!
Mr. Morrissey: If I may say so, I was going to make the very original point which Deputy Belton has interjected. I was going to ask whether it is the Opposition or the Government that is responsible for reducing the value of live stock sold by the farmers? In 1931 the value was £12,669,504; in 1934 it was £4,257,922. Is it the Opposition or the Government that is responsible for that huge reduction which is driving the farmers to destruction? The Government is doing its best even yet to drive them to destruction. Deputy Donnelly, or any other member of the Fianna Fáil Party who gets up and makes a statement such as that is only, in my opinion, adding insult to the injuries which the Government has already inflicted on the farmers, and is making a statement which he must know is not accurate if he has any knowledge whatever of the facts or of the position so far as agriculture is concerned. Far from there being a conspiracy, as has been alleged, to encourage the farmers not to pay their annuities, it seems to me— having regard to the facts, and having regard to the huge amount of money which the farmers have lost—that there has been a remarkable effort to meet the demands of the Government. When we are told that the farmers are not paying their annuities, are not trying to pay their annuities, and are being encouraged not to pay their annuities, let us remember that last year the farmers of this country paid to Great Britain £4,692,000; that the President and the Minister, through the machinery which they have created, have dragged from the farmers up to the 31st of March, £2,771,000; and, according to the Minister's own figures another £150,000 since the 31st of March. That is at least twice the sum that the farmers would be liable for in the shape of annuities if they were paid over in the ordinary course. It is so much nonsense to be trotting out the  sort of tosh which we heard from the Government Benches yesterday. As I say, Deputy Donnelly has his eye more on the position in Galway than on the position here in Dáil Eireann.
I mentioned last night a statement which had been made by the President some time ago on this matter. Deputy O'Brien of Limerick questioned my statement and I now have the quotation for the Deputy. I suppose it is always necesary, if it is at all possible, to quote the President's exact words. The President, on that famous occasion, said: “Our farmers certainly ought to pay something for the privilege of using the land, but what perhaps they should pay should not be annuities but rather a land tax.” I have no doubt that Deputy O'Brien and other Deputies on the opposite side would like to forget that the President ever made that statement. But that is what they are aiming at. I have no hesitation in saying that what they are to-day trying to drag from the farmers is nothing short of a land tax.
We are told Fianna Fáil never advocated the non-payment of annuities. There was a statement made here by a member of the Fianna Fáil Party— he is still a member—to the effect that “the motion we will put down is a motion to pay no land annuities.” That will be got in the Dáil Debates, vol. 29 col. 1347. Deputy Corry is the Deputy who keeps denying that he ever said anything about derating or land annuities. At a meeting of the Cork County Council on 3rd April, 1932, Deputy Corry said that: “They were entitled to the £1,000,000 proposed by President de Valera for the derating of land. The question of the annuities was supposed to be out of it. The annuities will certainly go to complete derating. Every pledge we gave is going to be kept.” That comes from Deputy Corry, who now does not remember that he ever said anything about derating or annuities.
The Minister admitted that, notwithstanding the position to which the farmers have been driven, notwithstanding the fact that they are  getting less than half what they were getting three years ago for their produce, over three-fourths of the land annuities have been paid to the 31st March, and he said the arrears were being rapidly wiped out. Does that look as if there is a conspiracy against the payment of rates and annuities, as if there is a campaign against it? Does any member of the House believe that if there was an organised campaign amongst farmers for the non-payment of annuities, having regard to the position to which they have been driven, that this, or any other Government, would be able to collect more than three-fourths of the annuities? I know quite well they would not, having all the time in mind the fact that last year, apart from the liability put on them by this Government, they paid nearly £4,750,000 to Great Britain.
We heard a great deal yesterday, and we have had from time to time statements from the members of the Labour Party on the question of the retention of the land annuities. The members of the Labour Party are now apparently prepared to go into the last ditch to retain the land annuities here. Let me remind them that the members of the Labour Party were not always of that opinion. When Deputy de Valera, as he then was, introduced a motion here on the 2nd May, 1929——
Mr. Morrissey: With all possible respect, I want to make the point that the motion at that time suggested that the annuities should be paid into the Central Fund or into the Exchequer here instead of being paid across to England. The Labour Party decided at a Party meeting to vote against the motion at that time and Senator Johnson wrote many articles in the then official Labour paper on the whole question of the annuities. I would advise some of the members of the Labour Party to look over the speeches made then by the leader of the Labour Party at the time, and some of the articles written by Senator Johnson. Perhaps the members of the present  Labour Party might then be able to explain to us what was responsible for the complete change over.
We have had the question of wages dragged in at the tall end of some of the speeches. There were references to the 22/- a week wage paid by the Government and we had a certain amount of indignation against the Department. Following that, we had blessing and benediction given to the Department. Deputy Donnelly admitted that 22/- a week was not a great wage. I am sorry the Deputy is not here. I would like to know from him if he considers it a living wage, if he considers that a man and his dependants can do more than exist on 22/- a week. I suggest to members of the Labour Party that, low as that wage is, by the action of the Government they have made it not worth 22/- a week but, I suggest, about 18/- a week by reason of the increase in the cost of living, the increases they put on the very necessaries of life. I am sure there is hardly a member of the Labour Party here who is not in touch with the working men, the poor, the unemployed, and the people forced to exist upon 22/- a week, and I am sure those Deputies know as well as I do that the increase in the price of flour, butter, tea and so on has meant, in effect, a very drastic reduction in the purchasing power of such a very small wage as 22/- a week. While you are accusing the Government of paying 22/- a week, as they were paying prior to the Budget, indirectly, but nevertheless very effectively, they have reduced that 22/- still further.
We have been frequently told that the Government is supposed to be a model employer. What was Deputy Donnelly's excuse—and I presume he was speaking for the Government? He said that 22/- a week is not a great wage, but it is better than nothing. It was better, he said, than walking around idle, and he mentioned that there are great numbers of men unemployed. Are we to take it from that that the law of supply and demand is being put into operation by the Government—that there are so many men unemployed and anxious to get  work that the dictum of Deputy Hugo Flinn is running through the minds of the Land Commission, that if anyone dared to stand between an unemployed man and 22/- a week he would be torn limb from limb? And we have all this from members of a Party who, when they were in opposition, howled at the idea of a wage such as that! They told us that if they were in office that is not the type of wage they would offer.
It seems to me that the members of the Labour Party have a very particular duty in this country, a much more direct duty, with all respect to them, than the members of any other Party in the House towards the people who are affected by this wage. They know as well as I do that it is not only those who are directly employed by the Land Commission who are going to be affected by low wages, but that the rate will be taken as a standard all round by other employers, if they can do it. Again, with all respect, it is not carrying out their duty simply to say a few words of condemnation against the Government that is doing that, and at the same time on every occasion refrain from any effective opposition against that Government. I am quite satisfied that if a private employer or a corporation or a company in this country attempted to establish a wage standard and so depressed the purchasing power of even the small wages, if anybody attempted what the present Government has done, the action that would be taken by the Labour Party on behalf of the workers would be more effective and more direct than anything we have experienced from them in this House so far.
Mr. Keyes: There has been a very long-drawn out debate on this Vote, and if it has been notable for anything it is for the complete irrelevance of the speeches and the absence of anything in the way of a useful suggestion for the better working of the Department in the interest of the State as a whole. I am sure the Minister has not been enlightened to any great extent by the type of  speeches to which he has listened. This Vote has been made the vehicle as it has become the custom on all such Votes in this House for hurling a tirade of abuse and fury of a high degree of intensity on the Minister, the Labour Party—I think I should have put them first—the Executive Council, the Fianna Fáil Party, with an abounding mixture of compliments and criticisms of the officials of the Land Commission. If there is anything coherent to be deduced or extracted from all these furious utterances it is from the speech of Deputy O'Sullivan. The Deputy would give one to understand that the only thing to be done by the Land Commission was to abandon at once the question of land distribution and so save hardship to the unfortunate people who are stupid enough to be applying for land at the present time. The Deputy stated that owing to the depression it was impossible for anyone to make a living on the land, and it was cruelly misleading the people to be holding out the hope to them about this land division. He alleged that having a large number of claimants for land did not indicate that there was anything like a resuscitation in the agricultural industry. There could be no resuscitation of course until the Cumann na nGaedheal Party was back again in office. It is admitted that there has been land hunger amongst the Irish people, that that hunger has become intensified and that the appetite is growing keener. Judging from the number of people who are clamouring to get parcels of land to add to their existing holdings there is no doubt that the appetite for land is very keen. The holdings in this country average, generally, around about a £10 valuation. There are people with holdings of £100 valuation, or £60 or £50, but the vast majority of our people are smallholders between a valuation of £6 and £10. These latter people are all, apparently, clamouring for additions to their holdings. One would think that that is a complete answer to Deputy O'Sullivan's assertions. It is strange that the  small holders want to incur additional responsibility by getting more land. Now, I suggest to Deputy O'Sullivan that his Party should be sincere about this question of the hardships that are endured by the people who hold land. If they were sincere in that matter they would welcome those demanding additional holdings, for these would thus share the hardships and the burdens borne by those owning land at present. The burdens would be shouldered by a wider number. The Deputy would have us believe that these people are acting in blind ignorance of the danger of being given land. They are rushing forward, we know, in order to become the owners of land. I tell the Opposition Deputies that they cannot have it both ways. If it is such a curse to own land it is extraordinary to find how tightly these people with the big holdings are holding on to their land. They should welcome the opportunity of spreading that load on to other shoulders than their own. They should spread that burden to people who are ready and willing to accept it. Deputy Bennett last evening here, offered his cheque book for a mock auction. Well, there was no mock auction here and there were no bids. I wonder would Deputy Bennett be prepared to place at the disposal of the Land Commission some of his broad acres in Limerick? If so, he would find plenty of people ready to take them and to share his responsibilities. One would think that that would lessen the responsibilities of those who are bearing too much of the burden and weight in the holding of this land.
Mr. Keyes: The case put forward is that the distress brought about by the action of the Government is an unfair burden put on to the people who are engaged in agriculture. We, on these benches, are charged with absolute heartlessness and with having only one sympathy. Now, I suggest that if the hardships are as real as we are told  they are, this is the time for spreading the burden and bringing more people into the agricultural industry. These are people who are confident that if they get the land they will be able to make a living on it.
Mr. Keyes: On the question of the wages paid by the Land Commission, I want to say that I am glad that that matter has been dealt with by practically every Deputy who spoke on this Estimate. I do not think the Minister can attempt to justify the wages paid in the Forestry Department of the Land Commission. This differentiation in paying 28/- in one place and 20/- in another is strange unless it is aiming at the tendency to slither down from the higher to the lower wage rates. We on these benches have had to endure the charge that we are responsible for the reduction of wages. We are getting used to that thing now. We had Deputy Dillon here last evening as a new champion of labour. He accused the Labour Party of being the people responsible for the conditions that impossible wages are now offered to the workers in the Forestry Department. On the Post Office Vote Deputy Norton was accused as being responsible for the rates of wages paid there. It was not the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs or the Executive Council who were responsible. No; it was Deputy Norton. It is not the Land Commission or the Minister for Lands who is cutting down the forestry workers now. Deputy Dillon has come here. He has come up as the new champion of labour, and he has been trying to persuade the people in this House as to his sincerity about the rates of wages paid to workers. Our attitude all the time has been this— we have fought for a decent standard of wages for the workers irrespective of whatever Party was in power in this  House. That is the test of the sincerity of our protestations. Deputy Dillon has been ready to vote for a reduction of wages, and his outburst here will not convince anybody to the contrary. The Deputy lost himself last night in his ebullition of temper. Through the dodge and the subterfuge that has been deprecated by the Chair this afternoon he hurled an expression at Deputy Murphy—an expression that would very accurately suit himself; he used an offensive expression to Deputy Murphy, an expression to which he has much more affinity than Deputy Murphy.
Mr. Keyes: I want to suggest to the Minister, when he is replying, to indicate to us if he has a justifiable reason for the maintenance of two standards of wages. I would ask him to explain to the House why he is paying a standard of 28/- in one place and a rate of 22/- to the forestry workers who are engaged in the magnificent work of trying to replant and recover our country. In doing that I trust the Minister will give an opportunity to the Limerick workers to earn some of the higher standard rate of 28/- a week. We have been singularly immune from the activities of the Forestry Department in the County Limerick. Except in one remote corner of the county we have been excluded from the benefits of the Forestry Department.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Forestry Vote is not being discussed now. Only the wage question can be discussed on this Vote, as the motion to refer back this Estimate was based on the question of wages paid by the Forestry Department.
Mr. Keyes: On the question of land  division, I want, on behalf of my constituency, to congratulate the Minister and his Department on the wonderful zeal they have shown in speeding up the division of land in County Limerick. We have been so unused to land division there that we are able to appreciate it. A county which had only 32 acres divided from 1929 until 1934 can readily appreciate the difference when we have had from 1934 up to date something over 2,000 acres divided. Having regard to the fact that there are 40,000 acres of untenanted land in the County Limerick, I think it will be agreed that there was an urgent need for the speeding up of land division there. I trust the Land Commission will pursue the good work with the speed that has marked their progress since they came into the County Limerick, and that the division of the thousands of acres which have been lying fallow behind walls for centuries, the workers not even being allowed to go over them, and being denied the right of living on an economic holding, will be speeded up until that vexed question of land division in Limerick will be brought to a termination.
There is another question I should like to refer to, and that is with regard to the building of houses on these allotments. In response to a question which I tabled last week or the week before, the Minister indicated that they were inclined to recognise a fair wages clause and fair conditions of labour in connection with the building of houses given by contract on these allotments. I suggest that it would be well worth the while of the Land Commission to look into the advisability of building as many of these houses as possible by direct labour. When I say direct labour, I am suggesting that it should be directly under the control of the Department, and not the method which is at present applied to the building of houses by the Land Commission, under which the allottee has to take over the responsibility of building his house. Having regard to the somewhat meagre grants given to these people for building houses,  there is a tendency on their part not to pay fair wages and have fair conditions of labour. There is a real risk that houses may be built sufficiently attractive to catch the eye and pass the engineer, but which will not last as long as they would if proper tradesmen were employed to build them at reasonable rates of wages and under fair labour conditions. It will be a much more costly process in the end to put up a jerry-built house rather than to spend a few additional pounds in erecting a proper house in which the allottee can live and develop the land given to him by the Land Commission.
A good deal has been said in connection with the question of the non-payment of land annuities and the allegations which have been made of a conspiracy against the payment of them. It is, perhaps, a matter of opinion as to whether or not there has been sufficient evidence adduced to justify the charge that there has been a campaign against the payment of the annuities. I suggest that the fact that the Minister is able to report that more than three-quarters of the entire sum has been collected is not in itself any direct evidence or any indication that such a campaign has not been carried on. I suggest that it rather marks the failure of the people who attempted to carry on the campaign and shows the commonsense of the annuitants who recognise that their title to the land is dependent upon paying the annuities. If the position is as bad as we have been told by some speakers, that 99 out of every 100 farmers find themselves unable to pay without inflicting undue hardship on themselves and their families, it is a marvellous contrast to find that more than three-quarters of the entire sum has been collected. I, for one, am satisfied, and I think anybody living in the country will be satisfied, that that has been done owing to the commonsense of the people concerned and in spite of the advice of people who ought to have much more responsibility to the State than to tender advice, even indirectly, to the people,  that they ought not to pay their annuities.
Not alone does the non-payment of annuities react on the people themselves and on the effective running of the Land Commission, but it has reactions on the workers in the towns throughout the country. It affects the social services by the withholding of grants, and in that way has a direct effect on everyone in the State. The workers played a noble part in fighting the farmers' battles in the past, and I think there should be some reciprocity and a recognition by the farmers that the workers are engaged not in an economic war for two or three years, but in a life-long economic war. That would help to a more favourable atmosphere being created. That reciprocity has been lacking in recent times on the part of the farmers towards the labourers.
Mr. Keyes: We recognise your difficulty, but you do not recognise their difficulty. I have evidence of that from my visit to the labour exchange to try and mitigate the evil of a farmer sending for a man who was in receipt of 12/6 per week unemployment assistance and, for the purpose of robbing him of that right given to him by the State, offering him work at 6/- per week and his keep, which he knew the man must refuse, and then reporting him to the labour exchange so that he might be denied benefit.
Mr. Keyes: I am sorry for transgressing. I trust the Minister will take note of the points I have raised and will be able to tell us at the conclusion of the debate that he recognises the fairness and justice of the demand for the increasing of that impossible wage of 22/- per week. If he will bring that wage up to a decent standard, then I say we have no complaint to make about the Land Commission.
Mr. O'Donovan: It is refreshing to hear from a member of the Labour Party a speech like that of Deputy Keyes. The Labour Party tabled this amendment. I have heard at least two of them speak before Deputy Keyes, and they scarcely said a word, except in the tail-end of their speeches, with reference to the Vote or why it should be referred back. They concentrated all their energy on an attack on this Party and, particularly, on certain members of it. Those of us who have been here for a number of years were not at all surprised when we heard the vicious attack made by Deputy Murphy on my colleague, Deputy Dillon, last night. That is his usual style of performance, and nobody in West Cork, and nobody in the Dáil, will be surprised at it. Deputy Murphy is the new champion of the poor. He attacked Deputy Dillon last night as one who was opposed to the Labour policy and to paying a decent wage. I want to tell Deputy Murphy that, before he was ever heard of, the Dillons and others in this country supported labour and paid a decent wage; and when Deputy Murphy and his Party will have disappeared from this House, Deputy Dillon and other members in this House will still be prepared to pay labour a decent wage. When the Fianna Fáil Party and the Labour Party are on the Opposition Benches, and when a sane Government, carrying out a sane policy, are able to bring back stabilised conditions, the people will be able to pay labour a decent wage.
We have had Deputy Norton, speaking in Sligo in 1932, stating that during the next five years Labour will be the ginger group in the Dáil. They are the ginger group! Not alone have they brought labour in this country down to the level of the dole and the dope, but the people who were able to employ labour and give decent wages have been brought down by them to the same level. They have created a new poor.  That is the policy they are carrying out at the moment.
Mr. O'Donovan: I am speaking, Sir, about the Labour Party policy. The policy of the Land Commission, at the moment, is a policy that has also reduced the people to misery. President de Valera, in his Budget speech the other night, dealing with the collection of annuities, said that England is collecting the annuities by force. He admitted that, but he never said a word about the force he is using down the country to collect the annuities, even though he admitted that the farmer has already paid them. We can all remember the promises of derating, of the retention of the land annuities, but when it was pointed out to the President that there may be retaliation, the answer was: “Oh, we have the alternative markets.” Where are the alternative markets? The alternative markets are an absolute failure. And, while the President admits that the annuities are being collected and that a good deal more than the annuities is being collected, he has a flying squad down the country collecting from the poor unfortunates who have not the money to pay.
Some of us are old enough—I, at any rate, am old enough—to remember, and I have had bitter experience of it — the crow-bar brigade and the battering ram of earlier days. I never thought that such a thing would be repeated in this country by a Government posing as a patriotic and national Government. That is what they have brought us to. If the Minister would only have the courage to do the right thing and withdraw his flying squad and his battering ram and his machine guns, and open the markets for the farmers as they had them in the past so that they could sell their produce at an advantage and be able to meet their rates, their annuities, and their shop debts as well as their labour bills, there would be no necessity for us to come in here and have this discussion on this Estimate. I hold that that should be the policy of the Minister  with regard to the collection of the annuities. Deputy Murphy said last night that the people are able to pay. I hold that they are not able to pay, and I hold that I know as much about the people of this country as Deputy Murphy or anybody else here. I would take Deputy Murphy down to his own town of Dunmanway and show him how things are. I would take him to the two fairs held there last week where, under normal conditions, between £10,000 and £15,000 at least exchanged hands and where, last week, not 10,000 or 15,000 shillings exchanged hands. In view of such things, how can the people pay the rates and annuities and, along with that, pay for this abnormal cost of collection through keeping the flying squads with machine guns travelling all over the country night and day? How can they pay when their markets are gone? Let the Government come back to sanity and give us the conditions that should be in the country. Let them take their courage in their hands and stop their high-falutin' talk about patriotism, and do the honest thing and give us back our markets, and there will be no necessity for such a speech as I am making on this Vote.
We have heard from Deputies about the Land Commission itself. I know that the officials of that Department have always been efficient and that they always do their best to help the distressed, but it is no good for anybody to apply for time in the present circumstances. The Land Commission will give them time. They will give a week, or a month, or two months, or three months, but the same conditions will apply at the end of the period. There is no hope three months hence or even six months hence, and it is absolute foolishness to be looking for time in cases of that sort. The only way to settle the matter is to stop the fooling and give us back our markets, and there will then be no necessity for time or anything of that sort.
I should like to refer again to this question of labour and the rate of 22/- a week to which Deputies have referred. It is because the policy of  the Labour Party and the policy of the present Government has brought us down so low that they will go down in history unwept, unhonoured and unsung, cursed by rich and poor, because they have brought destruction and desolation on this country.
Mr. Cleary: I sympathise with the Minister because of the attitude of Deputies opposite with regard to this Vote. The general attack in connection with the economic war is being carried still further by the Opposition on this Vote and they have gone further than they ever attempted to go before. Accusations and charges have been made against the Minister or the Government within the past two days that were in no way justified and that will not, in the long run, bring much credit to the Deputies who made such statements as were made here during the course of this debate. Take the Deputy who has just sat down. He is a practical farmer but he has not made one pertinent statement except the usual parrot cry of “Give up the economic war; give us back our markets,” and so on. We would be interested to hear how these markets are to be got back, but no alternative is suggested by the Opposition as to how the markets could be got back. If the Opposition were in office to-morrow, they could give no guarantee, or no inkling, whatever, as to what markets could be controlled in the future. In connection with that question, Deputy O'Donovan, I am sure, if he brings his mind back a few years, will remember that some of the people, who are now so clamorous about the farmers who cannot pay their annuities, did not pay their annuities when they had the markets.
Mr. Cleary: I am wondering why, when they had these markets, these particular individuals did not pay their annuities even then. Was it because the markets were no good, or was it because they were just as great frauds then as they are now? Was it that they had the wherewithal to pay  and refused to pay? As a matter of fact, I think that if the Minister for Lands were to go back over the files and get the names of people who did not pay their annuities when they had the markets, and if he were to publish these names, we might not hear so much from the farmers in the South of Ireland who say that they cannot pay their annuities because their markets are gone. Certain statements were made here yesterday, and I should like to know if Deputy Cosgrave and others of his Party stand over these statements. Statements were made to the effect that the Minister for Lands now stands in the same position as the agent of the old rack-renting landlords did in the old Land War days. Is that accepted by the Deputies opposite, and, if it is, are they not encouraging that the representative of the Government in charge of the Land Commission to-day is entitled to the same fate as that of the men who in the old days worked as agents for the old rack-renting landlords? Are they not encouraging the old “Rory of the Hill” to come out again and shoot the Minister? I think it was Deputy Dillon who said that the Minister stood in the same capacity as the agents of the landlords who were shot down in the old days.
I am surprised at law-abiding Deputies on the opposite side—at least, they talk about being law-abiding—making those suggestions. We had a still further advance on their policy put forward by Deputy Dillon. He will not grow beet; he will not grow wheat; he will not till; and he will not farm because that is Fianna Fáil policy. Deputy Dillon is prepared to go that far on his farm. Is he prepared to go further in his shop? Will he refuse to sell Irish flour? Will he refuse to sell Irish sugar? Will he refuse to sell any commodity whose production in this country is encouraged by the Government, because if wheat is Fianna Fáil wheat and beet is Fianna Fáil beet, and cannot, therefore, be touched by  Deputy Dillon, so is sugar Fianna Fáil sugar and flour Fianna Fáil flour. Would he refuse to reap the profits on those? I do not think he will. He will get as much profit as he can across his counter on Fianna Fáil flour and as much profit as he can on Fianna Fáil sugar. He says to the poor dupes of farmers that he will not grow wheat and he will not grow beet because that is Fianna Fáil policy and he says, “You farmers throughout the country do likewise,” but he will not tell them that he has a second string to his bow. He is not living on the farm as they are and he is making profits on Fianna Fáil sugar and Fianna Fáil flour across his counter.
Mr. Cleary: Deputy Dillon is always very anxious to drag in other people's personal affairs. I am not mentioning these matters as the Deputy's private affairs, but as being his policy as a public man. He will not accept Fianna Fáil wheat and he wants the farmers of the Free State not to accept it either, but to allow their land to lie fallow. He advises and encourages the men and women who are being beggared by that particular policy not to adapt themselves to the profitable methods of the moment. He will not tell them that he is not living on those things himself.
Mr. Cleary: They have a lot to say about the farmers being beggared and being driven to desperation and poverty by Fianna Fáil policy. Many of them have been driven to desperation and to poverty by the policy of the Opposition.
Mr. Cleary: By the policy of the Opposition, who, when this Government got into power, told the farmers, advised them and encouraged them, not to adapt themselves to Fianna Fáil methods and not to go in for increased tillage because it will not pay.
Mr. Cleary: Deputies stated yesterday that wheat and beet should not be grown because they are Fianna Fáil policy. I want to argue that if the Deputies opposite advised their followers to grow wheat and beet and adopt the tillage policy of Fianna Fáil, they would be able to pay their annuities and make it less difficult for the Land Commission and the Government to function. I think I am in order in pointing out that that can be done. When that policy of tillage, enabling the farmers to pay their annuities, and making the Land Commission a very great success, was put forward, we had an attempt made in County Monaghan by Opposition leaders to prevent the farmers growing beet and wheat. Very few of them accepted their advice, but a few did, with the result that they found it very difficult, at the end of the year, to meet their dues, but the people who did adopt that policy found that they could and that they had some guaranteed income which they never had before in farming. I know that many of the farmers in Cork are in a difficult position——
Mr. Cleary: The difficulty in paying annuities and in having them collected arises on this Vote, I presume, and I should like to point out that there would be no difficulty on the part of  the farmers in paying these annuities now, if they adopted the commonsense policy that was pointed out to them by the Government a few years ago, and if they did not accept the advice of the Opposition leaders then not to accept that tillage policy.
An Ceann Comhairle: If the Deputy cannot tear himself away from the agricultural and economic policy of the Government, he will have to resume his seat. When the Deputy is told that a certain line of argument is out of order, he should not revert to it.
Mr. Dillon: On a point of order. I said that to take 79 cattle and sell them for £90 to a bailiff, who subsequently sold them for £725, was legalised robbery. I did not say that the collection of land annuities was legalised robbery.
Mr. Cleary: Deputy Dillon is entitled to make any explanation he wishes, but it was implied by more than one Deputy—Deputy Dillon is not everybody over there, no matter what he thinks at times—and the statement was made by another Deputy that the collection of annuities was legalised robbery.
Mr. Cleary: The Land Commission and the Government see farmers who say that they are not able to pay and who, as far as can be seen by every indication of wealth, are very wealthy farmers, and, in addition, when they see that many farmers in the South of Ireland are prepared to pay, and did pay, very large sums of money into a political organisation, and that when they got men to go out and break the law, they paid them £2 a head to do it, and the people who can afford to do that should be able to pay at least an instalment of their annuity instead of having their money spent in that very disgraceful manner. I take it that that attitude was adopted against the Land Commission, not because it was a policy designed to help the farmers but because the political fight, as Deputies opposite mentioned, must be carried a step further.
Deputies from Cork have been very vocal on this Vote particularly. Cork has become very vocal of late and it has need to be very vocal. It always used to be vocal but Cork Deputies have become remarkably vocal of late. I can well understand the reason. Cork Deputies encouraged in every possible way the growth of an organisation which they knew opposed the payment of land annuities. That organisation grew strong and it is only in very recent times that the Land Commission have been able to effect the payment of land annuities in Cork. Men who unfortunately were duped into joining that organisation are now being made to put up their annuities. They are now paying the price of their foolishness, and the Deputies who encouraged that organisation and, by silence, allowed it to grow strong, are now being asked: “What are you doing? Are you just sitting down in Leinster House allowing these fellows to send down their gun bullies to collect annuities in Cork?” and Cork  Deputies now see the organisation which they allowed to grow up turning into a kind of Frankenstein. They are frightened to go back to Cork and they are kicking up a row in the Dáil so that when they do go back they will be told: “You are doing your stuff and you are quite all right.” That is the reason Cork Deputies have created scenes and there are going to be more scenes because they dare not go back to Cork unless there are scenes. They want to be as vocal and as vicious as the organisation which they allowed to grow up is.
The Land Commission have for the past year done very excellent work. The officials of the Land Commission have worked for the past year longer hours than they did for several years previously. They have turned out work this year which the officials themselves thought was an impossibility. The Minister certainly is to be congratulated on the amount of work that has been put through despite the opposition which he met with in different parts of the country. That opposition was foreseen. We were told by Deputy Dillon when the Land Bill was being passed through here that he was going to raise a land war from end to end of the Free State greater than the land war of the old days, because the Land Commission had decided to acquire land in certain circumstances. Against Deputy Dillon's land war, and against Deputy Dillon, the Land Commission has succeeded in doing very great work during the past year.
Mr. Cleary: The sheriff was there before the Minister came in. I think that if the Minister continues for another year or two to be as effective as he is now there will be no need for the sheriff at the end of that time, because Deputies and farmers will then realise that they have got to meet their dues here in this State, despite the views of any political chancer who might be advising them at the moment. The Land Commission has achieved very great work, but I should like if they would now turn  their attention with greater dispatch towards the slum lands that you have in parts of Ireland. I know that it was necessary to do a great amount of work in counties where there were large tracts of land, like Meath, Tipperary and elsewhere. In order that the land problem might be settled there, it was necessary to know what amount of land was available for migrants. I know it was necessary that that should be done, but I think that there is unnecessary delay in counties of that kind, while at the moment counties in the West of Ireland are being left a little bit out in the cold. There are farmers in the West of Ireland living in a very unsettled condition. They cannot avail of any housing scheme, for instance, because of living in those rundale districts. They will not be given a grant by the Local Government Department because it is considered unwise to build houses in the particular position in which they are. They will not be given grants by the Land Commission for the same reason. The sanitary authorities have in many instances condemned houses in those localities. I should like the Land Commission to take cognisance of this fact, and get down to dealing with those rundale districts in the West of Ireland. The first aim of the Land Commission should be to deal with the people who are living under unsatisfactory conditions because of their houses being so close together. They ought to tackle that problem, and remedy it with the least possible delay. Those people are anxious to migrate to other counties, and I think the Land Commission should deal with their claims as fast as they possibly can in order to relieve the congestion in those districts.
I want to deal with what is in some cases evidently the policy of the Land Commission—the giving of land to landless men in certain districts. I hold that farmers who are on uneconomic holdings have the first claim. It is mainly in order to deal with uneconomic holdings that the Land Commission is in existence. That is, I think, its primary function. In a  district where land is available it should first be proffered to the uneconomic landowners in other districts, before landless men are given land to any great extent. There may be outstanding deserving cases, but I do not think they could be in any instance as deserving as the very small landowner in the west, who has a large family, and is trying to rear and educate them on a very uneconomic holding. I should like if the Land Commission could, on a greater scale, go into this question of housing. They have, in parts of Mayo, done very excellent work in giving grants and having decent houses built for the people there. I know that that is a strain on the finances of the Land Commission, and that their rates of interest are very reasonable, but I think if the Minister took the matter up with the Department of Finance he would probably get greater facilities, and would be allowed to undertake this building of houses for the poor people on a much greater scale. That would be very laudable work. I do not think that the Minister will be affected in the slightest by the rampage that has been carried on here during the past couple of days. Ninety per cent. of the farmers and workers of this country want the Minister to continue doing what he has been doing for the past year. People who are anxious to break the law or run counter to the law should be broken by the Minister and by the Government. There is a large mass of the people of this country who want this Government to function, and carry out its land policy. Let the Ministry continue as fast as possible on the lines which they have been pursuing, and the people of the country will be behind them in doing so.
Mr. Cosgrave: In discussing this Land Commission Vote some people seem to forget that we are now in the year 1935, whereas most of the administration which comes under review took place last year. Conditions last year are not comparable with conditions this year. During the period of the three gales which have  formed the subject of information from the Minister to us—for one whole 12 months of that period—the farmers of this country were not in a position to sell their cattle by reason of the cattle quota. During that period cattle were seized from certain farmers in respect of annuities, and were sold by what was called public auction. Although the farmers, previous to the seizure of the cattle or at the sale, were refused licences, those licences were afforded by Government agency to the persons who bought the cattle. That was the story for 12 months of the period which embraces the three gales that have been the subject of the Minister's information to us here this evening. To-day I met a person who was present at a sale in Fermoy quite recently, where 32 sheep, 24 lambs and two horses were put up for sale. The farmer requested that the horses should not be put up with the sheep because he required them for his farm, and his request was refused. The sale realised £15 and the debt was £33. It is positively a shame—it is worse than a shame; it is a crime— that the Ministry should allow things of that sort to occur in this country. If the Parliamentary Secretary or the Minister reads this morning's newspaper he will find, from a source which is altogether apart from politics, a condemnation of that sort of thing.
The figures which are presented to us in connection with the collection of annuities during those three half-years are not true figures. I accept them at their face value at this stage, but this is not the comparable date for the issue of those figures. The comparable date is 31st January, and the figures given to us have no relation whatever to the matters under discussion. On the 31st January last, which is the accountancy date on which the Land Commission made up its accounts and forwarded them to whatever other Department has to deal with them, the rates of this country had to provide whatever sums were short in the collection of the  annuities. Up to that time, of the three gales, all that the Ministry was able to collect was approximately two gales. The fraction over is negligible. The matter to which I want to draw the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary and the Minister is that while we have all those high-sounding phrases as regards people's responsibilities for paying their debts and paying their annuities, the people are being asked to do more than that. Under the policy of the Government, not alone is the Land Commission annuitant expected to pay his annuity when it falls due but he is also expected to pay the annuities of those who are unable to meet them. That half-yearly gale which had not been paid on the 31st January last has fallen over a period of two years. In regard to the financial year 1934-5, and the financial year 1935-6, the ratepayers of the country are called upon to make good the annuities which have not been paid by the people who are unable to meet them.
I think the Parliamentary Secretary represents a county in which there is a political representation on the county council of his own way of thinking and of the way of thinking of the Minister. I saw in the newspapers where they refused to include the sum deducted in respect of the agricultural grant in relief of rates in this year's estimates. That is lightly irrelevant, I admit, but when we hear people speaking about conspiracies against the payment of annuities, when we hear high-sounding phrases from people who a very short time ago were very differently employed, it is a shock to read of a decision of that sort, even if it be subsequently rescinded on the part of those who are in complete political agreement with the Government as regards their financial, political and economic policies —in so far as those policies can be described as policies at all.
During the year I had a letter from a man who had cattle on his land. He was unable to pay his annuities or rates. One would really be very hard-hearted indeed if one  were not affected by what he said. He was a man who was entirely in favour of the payment of rates. His rate bill was due and he could not get licences. Have the Ministry taken any notice of the fact that in a very large number of cases where licences could not possibly be had last year, where the Ministry had not got them to give to people, nevertheless these seizures and sales took place and extraordinary hardship and suffering were inflicted on people which might have been avoided?
Reference was made here this evening to the non-payment of annuities in the period of time when there was no economic war. Surely enough information has been given to the House on that subject not to need any further illumination on the point? When the Land Commission was taken over on the 1st April, 1923, the total sum of money outstanding in arrears was £642,939, under the pre-1923 Acts. It is within the recollection of everybody that a very big agitation went on here from the years 1927 to 1932; it was carried on by the Fianna Fáil Party in relation to the land annuities. Under those same Acts in 1932, notwithstanding that great agitation and notwithstanding references that I heard here myself that they should not be paid, the total sum outstanding in respect of the pre-1923 Acts, on the 31st January, 1932, was £526,095; in other words, not alone had the £3,000,000 been paid every year, but £116,000 or £120,000 had been paid off the arrears. I hope that will finish that once and for all. During that period, which we were told by a great many people was not a particularly prosperous period and when many people endeavoured to evade their obligations, not alone did they pay their land annuities but they actually paid a sum off the arrears.
What has been the experience during the last three half-yearly gales? The fourth is already due. When the Minister was giving figures yesterday evening regarding annuities he may have included some of the  June gales, although I doubt very much if people would send in their annuities so soon. Is it conceivable that people who were honest during ten years have suddenly become dishonest or that one-third of them at least are dishonest? Everybody knows that is not so. Here is some information for the Parliamentary Secretary which he will find in a publication which is sent gratuitously to this country from the National City Bank of New York. They discuss economic and financial problems and other matters of that sort. On page 78 of this issue which comes out in May there are these observations: “In many localities an important proportion of the taxes have become uncollectable because property owners are impoverished and collection by sale and dispossessions on a large scale is simply not to be thought of. Even persons of much wealth seldom possess it in money but usually in property employed in production, giving the work to wage earners. Their incomes are dependent upon the flow of business, and to increase taxation unduly upon either the possessors or the owners at a time when the business is yielding no net earnings, must increase the state of disorder.”
Very often in this House we hear that there is no soul in banking. We hear of the curse of capitalism and of the ruthlessness of financiers. But there you have their philosophy as contrasted with forced sales of men's property and the only possible means of livelihood that they have got, and the only opportunity they have got of earning a living in this country. During the last three years the average earnings of agricultural workers have been reduced to the extent of 3s. 6d. a week, varying all over the country north, south, east and west. We hear from a member of the Labour Party that people are anxious to get land and that those who are unable to make money out of land ought to be relieved of it. One wonders how far that Deputy is considering the problem in accordance with justice. If one of those farmers  was to say to him: “My men take 22/- a week because they need it,” I suppose he would regard it as something like political blasphemy; yet it is open to them to say that to him.
Nobody agrees that a man can live on 22/- a week and the Ministry ought to correct that matter. The Ministry cannot ignore the fact that their policy, for whatever it is worth, has reduced the earnings of agricultural labourers to the extent of 3/6 a week. We are told by Deputies in the opposite benches that there is, first of all a conspiracy and, secondly, an absence of foresight on the part of farmers when they have not adopted the new system, and they have not changed over. When you examine what opportunities there were for a change-over, we see at once that it is all only political talk. We are told about 150,000 acres of wheat and 50,000 acres of beet. Suppose you double that and suppose twice the number changed over you would have, perhaps, 400,000 acres as against something like 12,000,000. What are they to cultivate on the remainder of the land? Surely it is obvious that there is no escaping the possession of cattle and other live stock in this country. If the Land Commission persist in a policy which puts up for sale at knockdown prices the property of the people in order to get the money out of them, you are going to have a state of disorder such as was referred to by these materialist financiers, one of whose expressions I have read out. In the first place it is the Minister's duty and he has the machinery to do it to examine whether or not, in accordance with the regulations which governed an advance in respect of the purchase of land over the last 30 or 40 years the present charges that are on the land are charges that the land can produce out of its profits and it is his duty if he finds the land cannot meet these charges to report that to the Executive Council and tell the Executive Council that there must be some change in connection with public policy unless this state of disorder which seems above all other things to get unanimity in its condemnation from all sections  of the House is to continue. If we are to prevent that and to give the people any opportunity of hope for their prospects of prosperity in the future, it is the Minister's responsibility to do that. Advances were made over those periods from 1881 to 1923 and unless the Land Commission was satisfied that the land was value for the money that money was not advanced. It is not too much to ask now in order to do justice between man and man that that examination should take place. The Parliamentary Secretary (Mr. O'Grady) might also take this up from the point of view of his own constituency, because a case was mentioned here yesterday by Deputy Dillon, a case of a man's inability to pay his rates. That was in the County Clare and it was a most heart-rending case. As it was a case of non-payment of rates that man got an opportunity of coming into court. But no opportunity was afforded a single Land Commission annuitant in this country to appear before the court. In such a case there is no use in giving a decree because there are no assets to meet the demands made. The Minister must be aware that you are not going to get 33? per cent. of 450,000 tenants suddenly becoming members of a conspiracy to deprive the State of what the State has indicated should be paid to it, unless there be other reasons, and if there be other reasons it is the responsibility of the Minister to find out what these other reasons are, to correct them, to mitigate hardships and not to send to damnation those unfortunate people who are struggling to make a livelihood from the agricultural industry in their own country.
Mr. Minch: I wish to bring before the Parliamentary Secretary who is deputising for the Minister for Lands, a particular phase of the Vote to which this House should give a lot of attention. The particular phase of this Vote that concerns Deputies mostly is the question of the land annuities. The work of taking over the land and dividing it is a most important one, and we all agree that the permanent officials have given every possible attention to the efficiently  carrying out of their duties in that respect. The Labour Party have spoken about the wages paid by a section of the Department, but the real pressing matter from our point of view is the capacity of a large number of fine, decent, law-abiding Irishmen to pay their land annuities. They are not in a position to pay. I want to know what attention is being given to their case by the Land Commission collectors. Some time ago a large farmer—and I am not afraid to give his name to the House—Mr. William Hickey, Rockside, Ballitore, County Kildare, had the court messenger, the bailiffs and the detectives calling on him. Some time after the campaign of the Irish Sugar Company had commenced, or perhaps, I should say, in the middle of that campaign, a lorry-load of Guards and the sheriff's agent arrived at Rockside and came into his house. I must say that they were not aggressive. They told him that they had to collect a sum of £80 land annuities and that their instructions were, under no circumstances to leave the farm until they got the money.
Mr. Hickey asked the court messenger would he come along with him to the manager of the bank, so that he could prove to him that his was a genuine case of hardship—that his overdraft in the bank was such that he could not get the money. I believe the court messenger did accompany Mr. Hickey to the bank manager, who disclosed his state of affairs, and that warranted the statement made by the farmer. What was the position? At that particular time the Irish Sugar Company owed Mr. Hickey £60 or £70, and he had been waiting for a very considerable time for his cheque. In addition, there was at least £20 due to him for his tobacco. He said that when he got that money he would undertake to lodge it to the credit of the Land Commission. But the court messenger could not accept that. Mr. Hickey arrived at my place thinking, perhaps, that I could do something for him.
I had a long discussion with the court messenger, not in front of the detectives, and I told him my opinion of Mr.  Hickey. I got on to the 'phone, and I discovered that it was perfectly genuine —that he was owed this money by the Sugar Company. Here is a case where the Government is owing money to a man on the one hand, and on the other hand they are collecting money from that same man, with the aid of the court messenger and lorries of detectives. The court messenger said he would have to remain on the farm overnight, take away his cattle in that very bad weather, bring them in to Athy and impound them in an open pound. I asked what was the solution. The Chief Superintendent of the Gárda could do nothing. Neither could the Registrar. Nobody could hold back that machinery once it was let loose, and there you had a perfectly genuine case. Anyway, as a result of our activities we managed to get the commercial manager of the Irish Sugar Company to advance £50 on account. The remainder of the money was collected by one or two of his friends. At all events, we satisfied the court messenger, and the costs amounted, I believe, to £10. Mr. Hickey is one of those farmers who till to the utmost limit of which their farms are capable. He carries a heavy stock of cattle, a thing which is necessary in a large tillage farm. He is a useful citizen and a man worth keeping in this country. My view of the way in which he was dealt with is that it was unjust and unfair, by reason of the fact that nobody could do anything to stop the machinery when it got going. I should like to ask the Minister if, in cases like that, where money is due to farmers, either by the Irish Sugar Company, or under the Tobacco Act, a Deputy representing a large number of constituents will be accepted as being honest and sincere in making representations to the head collector, so that we can 'phone up and ask for a 24 hours' stay pending our putting a case like that forward.
I believe that a wagon-load of writs for land annuities arrived in Kildare during the last week. I am quite satisfied that, if these thousands of writs are going to be collected by force, or by intimidation, or by frightening the people, there will be a lot of cases in  which undue hardship will be caused. Instead of giving an individual a chance of being able to live on his farm, what he has will be swept away from him, and next year the position will be much worse. I know honest, decent farmers who do not belong to any organisation, who are at present not able to pay, but might be able to pay later on. The months of June and July, especially in the south of the County Kildare, are the leanest months in the year so far as money is concerned. Later on, when the barley, wheat and oats and beet are marketed, is the time when a chance ought to be given to these farmers to meet their liabilities.
Yesterday in this House I was subjected to an attack for having, in a speech of mine in Monasterevan in 1933, advised the non-payment of land annuities. I believe that some time ago the Minister for Industry and Commerce also referred to that matter. I want to clear this matter up once and for all, so that in future debates this speech of mine on a Cumann na nGaedheal platform will not be hawked about to attack the Fine Gael Party. It will be recollected that in Rathdrum on one occasion I went with senior counsel before the district justice to test the legality of the collection of land annuities when the economic war was inaugurated. Members on this side of the House will recollect that I was treasurer of a land annuity association and that we had a High Court case pending to challenge the right to collect the land annuities. In 1933, as I had already advised them not to pay pending that High Court case, I deliberately and knowingly advised the farmers at that meeting in Monasterevan not to pay. But, as I said before, and this is the last time I shall repeat it, I did not know then that the 1933 Land Bill, as passed through this House, had become an Act of Parliament. When I heard it had become an Act of Parliament I immediately threw all my strength into overcoming any obstacles that may have been put in the way of the functioning of that Act of Parliament. I hope that will be understood once  and for all. It took a little bit of courage to do that, but I am not afraid to exhibit it when I find it is necessary to do so.
We have had here on the part of the Labour Party an exhibition of shadowboxing with the Government. One could almost see them with their arms around the Government singing “Dear Old Pals” at the same time as they were abusing the Land Commission in connection with the payment of a wage of 22/- a week under a certain scheme in Kinnitty. If there was any time at which the Labour Party should have taken off their coats and shown real fight and brought about a direct cleavage it was when this question of wages arose, but the Labour Party did not do it. They made a mockery of their attempt to show up the iniquity of that wage and to fight for those workers whom they pretend that they alone represent.
Mr. Minch: It is about time that Deputy Davin ceased making interruptions, because I am not going to allow him to interfere with what I am going to say. It is about time that the whole question of the land annuities should be investigated anew by the Land Commission. A better atmosphere has been created and this is the time, I suggest, for a more impartial investigation of the capacity to pay of many farmers. If the Minister, as he has declared, is incapable of dealing with this matter, and if appeals have to be handed over to one individual, it would be better for the Minister to increase the Vote for the staff by another £10,000 so as to have sufficient staff to investigate cases thoroughly. It seems to me that one collector is not able to do it, even with the staff he has. It is absolutely more than flesh and blood can stand to ask the head collector to deal with the thousands of cases which must be flowing unceasingly into his office. The Minister should increase the staff and issue an order that the cases should be investigated as sympathetically as possible. I believe that if it got to be known down the country that the Land Commission were doing  that, it would give encouragement and hope where at present there is nothing but demoralisation and a crushing of the spirit of the people in their efforts to maintain themselves on the land and to make a living out of it. There is an enormous number of farmers who bought land at inflated periods, who went into land when it was at a premium. In quite a number of instances, land is now a liability, but in those periods land was forced up to such an enormous price that there is not a bank manager in any town in Ireland who has not got a list in the bank of people trying to carry on on huge overdrafts far beyond what the farms concerned are worth, or will ever be worth again. I was often wondering would it be possible to float a loan of, say, £2,000,000 in this country and bring it to the joint committee of the banks and say: “We wish by this loan to offer a large sum towards the complete blotting out of these inflated overdrafts,” and that, if that were accepted, the loan would then be placed on the landholders and they would pay, say, 3 per cent. on that money over a period. I was wondering if something like that could be done so that they would be able to look forward to some time when they could see the end of their troubles and difficulties and be able to hand that land down to their children, or at least be able to hand it down unencumbered so that their children would not be faced with an absolutely hopeless outlook. I know that my suggestion may sound far-fetched, and perhaps ridiculous, but I feel sure that something could be done, and I am quite satisfied that the banks themselves would be glad to take 50 per cent. of the money they advanced, because at the present moment they are hardly receiving the interest, much less the principal, on the money they advanced during that inflated period. I know that I shall probably be accused of suggesting some sort of innovation, the object of which is to mulct the banks, but I think that my suggestion will be taken generally as a constructive suggestion towards remedying the appalling position that exists at the present moment and that it will be  only taken as an effort to try to save the situation.
Mr. Minch: Of course, when I make what I look upon as a good suggestion and what, I think Deputy Davin will admit, is a plucky suggestion for me to make, Deputy Davin will immediately say that that would be a good bargain for the banks. The Deputy never makes an interruption when I am speaking which I could accept in a spirit of co-operation or friendliness. I have not much more to add to this Debate except that I hope that the baiting that went on here will not be reintroduced, although it certainly did not help this Vote. All I could suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary is that, perhaps, somewhere through the few words I have said he might find a hint or a suggestion which might help in the running of his Department for the coming year and make things a little easier and, I hope, a little better for those who must come under its authority.
Mr. Everett: Deputy Minch's one constructive suggestion as to the running of the Land Commission was to have more collectors. One collector is not sufficient—no, nor would thousands be sufficient if Deputy Minch and his Party had their way. We have had denials from the other side that they ever advocated the non-payment of annuities. Deputy Minch states that he was not aware that, under the 1933 Act, the Government were entitled to collect, as the Act was passed by the Irish people. Deputy Minch is a member of a Party that issued a document in which were contained the words “No Land Annuities to be paid until December, 1934.” Deputy Dillon denies that. Deputy General MacEoin stated yesterday that he had been a member of the Fine Gael Party and had been at all its meetings and that he never heard the non-payment of annuities being advocated. Yet, here we have it—“No Land Annuities to be  paid until December, 1934.” That was the Fine Gael propaganda at the last election. Does Deputy Dillon agree with that now?
“My attitude is that the Fianna Fáil economic was has temporarily destroyed the farmers' capacity to pay, and that as long as the economic war continues, no Government has a right to collect land annuities at all.”
Mr. Everett: This document says that no Government has the right to collect land annuities at all: that no Government has the right to collect land annuities from the farmers while the economic war is on; but now members of the Party opposite get up and deny that they ever advocated the non-payment of land annuities. That document is signed by William T Cosgrave.
Mr. Everett: I think that Deputy Dillon has made about 20 speeches already. I very seldom occupy the time of the House and I shall not delay very long, but on this question of the non-payment of land annuities, as advocated by the Party opposite——
The document went on to say that no further annuities would be collected till December, 1934, and that no Government has a right to collect land annuities at all while the economic war continues. We have sympathy for the farmers of East Cork and we have Deputy Professor O'Sullivan——
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Deputy Dillon will have to allow Deputy Everett to make his speech without interruption. It ought to be clear by now that a Deputy is entitled to make a speech without interruption.
Mr. Dillon: How far is the Deputy allowed to suggest by implication that he is quoting, while, in fact, he does not quote at all? How far is he allowed to hold a document in his hand and purport to read verbatim from it when, in fact, he is twisting its contents?
Mr. Everett: Does the Deputy suggest that I am not reading what is in the document? If Deputy Dillon is not able to understand plain English, it is not my fault. I was saying that Deputy Professor O'Sullivan displayed wonderful sympathy for the farmers of East Cork. Deputy O'Sullivan was a member of the Executive Council and he remained silent when an order was sent down by Deputy Mulcahy to public boards to increase the rents of labourers' cottages—men in receipt of home help, unemployed, who had nothing but their labour to sell and could  not sell it, who paid 2/6 or 3/- a week for a labourer's cottage. There were very few tears shed by Deputy O'Sullivan and other members of the Fine Gael Party. They remained silent when the Labour Party protested against such an order being issued to public bodies.
The fact that the land annuities are not being paid in East Cork and other places is due to the adoption of the policy as put forward by the Fine Gael Party. I can give Deputy Dillon the names of two members of the Fine Gael organisation in the country who adopted the policy of not tilling. They are not members of our Party or the Fianna Fáil Party, but members of Deputy Dillon's Party. This year, owing to the bounty on wheat and oats, they will recover any losses they have incurred in the last two years because this year they have adopted the other policy put forward by the Government.
Mr. Everett: The tenant of the slum house and the tenant of the labourer's cottage has to make up, in a high rate, the deficiency in these land annuities. It is the labourers in the towns and in the country who are paying the land annuities in which the farmers are defaulting at present. I live in a rural constituency. The people there are hard-pressed but they work hard, not like the men who went to jail, one of whom immediately he came out was able to take out a £100 insurance policy on himself to help one of the farmers who had become the agent of a certain English insurance company and who was in receipt of £10 a week with commission by reason of these prisoners taking out policies when they were released. These were the men who were unable to pay their land annuities. The labourer in his cottage is paying more in rent and rates out of his home help than the farmer of East Cork is paying for 20 or 30 acres of land, but there is no sympathy for him.
 We had Deputy Anthony, like Lannah Machree's dog, going a bit of the way with everyone. He has always found the Land Commission courteous, he says, and the officials always met him courteously and extended the time in any case he put up, but he says there is a large number of people unable to pay and “when I went with some cases to the Land Commission they showed me from the file that they knew more than I did.” Has he inquired from the Land Commission or from other people what was the position of those men who went to gaol for non-payment of annuities? Who is to define—is it Deputy Anthony or the Fine Gael Party—when an individual is unable to pay? Deputy Anthony is a man who threw bouquets at the Department and then condemned the Minister and the Government for forcing certain men to pay, who, in his opinion, were unable to pay. He says people are taking up the attitude that no one will pay anything if they are advised not to pay. I do not believe that attitude will ever be taken up in this country.
Deputy Minch states that the Labour Party should have taken a certain course in connection with the 22/- a week wage. I protest against the Land Commission following that Party's advice in the low rates of wages they are paying throughout the country. We know that immediately there was a change of Government, members of that Party reduced the farm labourers' wages by 2/-, 4/- and 5/- a week and told them that that was what they got by voting for de Valera. If there is one Party in Ireland responsible for reducing wages, it is the Fine Gael Party and its supporters throughout the country. I am sorry to see the Land Commission following the example set by the Fine Gael Party. It is the Fine Gael farmers who have reduced the wages and the Land Commission is paying wages similar to what the Fine Gael farmers are paying in Leix-Offaly. There is very little difference between the two in this respect. I do protest against such wages and the policy adopted by the Government in this  matter. There seems to be some close co-operation in the area between the Government spokesmen or the men who advised the Minister to pay only 22/- a week and the Fine Gael Blueshirt farmers who said: “We will cut the wages of the labourers so low and when an election comes on, we will put the blame for it on the Government.”
With regard to the land division, one is inclined to forget that there is a Land Commission in existence at all. They appear to be in ignorance of the existence of Wicklow. Cork, I believe, is the same. They will realise that a certain constituency is in existence only when certain things take place there, and it is a guide for us Deputies who demand the division of certain big ranches that, certain action has got to be taken.
Mr. Everett: Deputy Dillon on platforms may suggest things to people, but not do them himself, but anything I ever say, I am prepared to follow up and do. When the occasion arises, I will not shelter behind certain words.
Mr. Everett: Attend one of the meetings, and I hope you will obey the instructions I will give. I suggest that a certain line of action must be taken to remind the Land Commission that there are certain constituencies in the Free State, because they are paying very little attention to them in the matter of the division of land.
We had Deputy Curran stating that land in his area is worth nothing, and that the farmers are unable to pay anything, and protesting against the  giving of only £4 an acre for this worthless land. We know the farmers of that area. There is very little tillage carried out there; they all depend on the creameries for six months of the year. We want the small farmer and the landless man to get some of the ranches so that he may till the land, grow wheat and oats and provide food for his family, and dispose of the rest of his produce to earn an honest living. We have a denial from the Party opposite that they ever advocated low wages, and putting the entire blame on the Labour Party. One member of the Labour Party is proud of the part which the Labour Party has taken in not surrendering any of the Irish people's rights to Jimmy Thomas or any Englishman who wanted the Irish to surrender. I would be willing to go out of public life to-morrow before I would advocate a settlement with England which would be unfavourable to Ireland.
Mr. Dillon: On a point of order, I hope the Ministry here will accept it as a matter of common courtesy that members of the British House of Commons should be properly referred to. If members of the British House of Commons started referring to President de Valera as “Eddie de Valera” or “Ned de Valera,” it would not appear very suitable to us.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Perhaps the Deputy will resume his seat. The Chair has expressed the opinion before that members of another Government should be referred to in the usual form in which members of a Government are referred to.
Mr. Everett: I mean no reflection on Mr. Thomas when I referred to him by his Christian name. We have bitter experience of Mr. Thomas, but as I pointed out, no jeers or jibes from Deputy Dillon or his Party are going to interfere with the Labour Party in supporting the Government in the continuation of this fight. No attempt in the country to interfere in the fight that we are waging will prevent us from bringing it to a successful issue. The Government have been very moderate, when they are engaged in a war with a foreign country, in allowing certain men to create another war inside our own shores. Deputy Dillon laughs. We will pay no land annuities while the economic war lasts. If you were in England or in any other country, and they were engaged in a war——
Mr. Everett: If you were under General O'Duffy, and issued a document such as that, and got a lot of your dupes to carry out your orders while you were engaged in a war, there would not be many of the members left to sympathise with the people whom they have fooled and wrongly advised. Deputy Dillon may laugh, but as far as we are concerned, and as far as the workers are concerned——
Mr. Everett: The workers have, time after time, taken part in the national struggle. They, along with the farmers, have made sacrifices and will make them again if occasion arises. The workers to-day—through unemployment  and through the quotas and tariffs from which some of the members on the other side are reaping benefit—are suffering, but they are prepared to suffer until a satisfactory settlement of this question is arrived at. We are asked, “Why not throw out the Government?” We have criticised the Government, and will vote against them on the occasions when we consider that the interests of the people we represent demand it. We were attacked here last night for criticising certain people over the small wages that have been paid. As Deputy Murphy pointed out, it is one of our functions to try and keep up the wages of the workers and the people whom we represent. We advise the Fine Gael leaders that they might throw their bouquets in another direction instead of at the Labour Party, because twice they went before the country and we know what the workers thought of them. Sympathy was displayed and crocodile tears were shed here yesterday, but the experience of the workers has been that when Fine Gael were in office their attitude was: “It is not the function of the Government to provide work for the unemployed.” The Fine Gael Government had no money for the relief of unemployment.
Mr. Everett: The only way they could get money was by taking a shilling a week off the old age pensions. Of course with the workers in the country who have had that experience, the soft words of Deputy Dillon or Deputy MacDermot will not go very far. They will take no more chances. They have had ten years' bitter experience, and the only hope I  have for the workers is that they will elect not a purely Fianna Fáil Government, but a Government in which Labour will take control. Deputy Dillon will not like that. Much as he attacks the Fianna Fáil Party and much as he criticises the Ministry, he would prefer to see them there than to see Labour members on those benches to carry out the Labour Party policy, and provide Ireland with a Government of the workers of this country.
Mr. Harris: My contribution to this debate will not be very much, but as a colleague of Deputy Minch I must express regret at his advice to the farmers of Kildare at the beginning of the economic war. I am glad that he has expressed his regret for having ever advised them not to pay their annuities. I am in a position to know that many of the farmers in the county who took Deputy Minch's advice at that period, and pursued a reckless policy against the payment of land annuities, also regret their actions now. Many of those people who took part in that reckless campaign now realise that after all the real title of the farmers to their land depends on the payment of the annuities. They realise that if they succeeded in preventing the payment of annuities they would bring about a very bad condition of things for themselves. They would be better satisfied now if, from the start, they had encouraged the people to pay, and made an effort to pay. I realise, and I never denied, that the farming community are going through a very difficult period. I know that they have had to make big sacrifices owing to the economic war, but I also recognise that this difficult period which the farmers are going through did not come upon them when the previous Government were knocked out of office. The change of Government was a big relief to many farmers in Kildare. It was a big relief to farmers who were being threatened with having their holdings sold out for arrears of annuities. The funding of the annuities gave a big relief to a section of the  farmers. In Deputy Minch's own neighbourhood, previous to Fianna Fáil coming into office, farmers who had been unable to pay their full annuity through the bad prices that prevailed for barley were dispossessed of their holdings. I think the Opposition would serve the interests of the farmers better if they would point out to them that they should make every effort to pay their annuities, if they would point out to them that the situation is very different now from what it was in the Land League days. We have heard talk of rack-renting landlords. Every farmer admits, if he speaks his mind, that the annuity that he has to pay for his land is very small in comparison with the rents paid 40 or 50 years ago. The Opposition would do a good service to the country if they advised the farmers of the importance of maintaining their title to their holdings, the importance of retaining their credit, by making every effort to pay their annuities.
As to the agricultural policy of the Government, I think it is in the adoption of that policy that the salvation of the farmers lies. On the Opposition Benches yesterday we heard Deputy Dillon discouraging the growing of wheat and beet and he did everything he could possibly do to encourage the farmers not to adopt the sound agricultural policy, the only policy that will pull them through. That is where the difficulty lies. If the farmers could be encouraged by all Parties to adopt a sensible agricultural policy and to help the industrial development of the country, they will be saved. It is not the non-payment of annuities that will save them, but the adoption of the Government's agricultural policy and the placing of confidence in it. I am a farmer and I know it is not a popular thing to advocate the payment of annuities, but I recognise as a farmer that it is in the farmers' own interests to try to pull through and to continue to pay the annuities. I would not like to see the collection of annuities fail. I know the outcry there would be from the great majority of the people. The  townspeople who have to pay rent and taxes would say that the farmers are paying nothing and they would pay nothing and that would only bring the country into a state of chaos.
There are farmers who recognise that they have too much land and that they have not sufficient capital to permit them to adopt the Government's agricultural policy. I have been approached by some farmers who said that they were heavily in debt, had no credit and no way to raise money to work their land. They admit they have too much land and would be anxious for the Land Commission to acquire some of their holding and so place them in the position to carry on. They are in an impossible position at the present time. I will ask the Minister to recognise the impossible position those people are in. In cases like that, instead of sending the sheriff to collect the annuities, I think some effort should be made to take these people out of their impossible position and put them in the way of carrying on. There are plenty of applicants for land in different areas and I ask the Minister to make a special note of this and try to put these people in a position to carry on.
There are parts of South Kildare, which has the name of being a tillage county, and the people are working, but there are big numbers of uneconomic holdings there. They are good working farmers, but they have not sufficient land to till. For the last two or three years they were paying exorbitant rents for con-acre land, which they tilled. They have been paying £3 and £4 an acre for that land. These people are not satisfied, and I am sure the Minister knows that they are not satisfied, with the progress made by the Land Commission in the acquisition and division of land. That is all I have to say on the matter. I will again appeal to Deputy Dillon and members of the Opposition to recognise the serious injury they are doing to  the agricultural community. I will also ask them to realise that many of the people who supported them in their campaign a few years ago now recognise that they were wrong. It would be good Party policy to change their attitude here and if they gave a little more support to the Government in the fight it is putting up on behalf of the people it would be appreciated by their own supporters.
Mr. O'Neill: It was stated some time ago in this House that the Minister responsible for the administration of the Department of Lands made the extraordinary statement that it took 100 years to build up the cattle industry here but, please God, it would not take so long to destroy it. It would be very interesting to hear from the Minister what exactly is the meaning to be read into these words, or if he is guilty of them at all. Is he is guilty of them, then he is guilty of the whole of the misfortunes and the trouble that have followed the administration of his Department.
Mr. O'Neill: Before I proceed to deal with the difficulties of the position arising out of the general policy of this Department, I would like to join with Deputies in different parts of the House who have paid a tribute to the excellent way in which they have been received by the officials of the Department and to the very great efforts they make at all times to meet the wishes of  Deputies. I think we might also congratulate the Minister on some of the successful items he has pointed out to us, the things that have been achieved, according to his statement yesterday, particularly with regard to the speeding up of the division of land. I think, however, a little more information might be vouchsafed to the House as to where the divisions took place and as to the class of people put back on the land. He might tell us to whom the divided lands were given. Were they in all cases given to evicted tenants and landless men or have there been some cases where land was given to men who had some previous experience of agriculture, but whose chief claim for getting some of the land was the fact that they were very strong supporters of the Fianna Fáil policy?
So far as County Cork, and particularly the western portion of it is concerned, I do not think that much has been done with regard to the division of land. In that portion of the country I think there is room for a little speeding up. If I am correctly informed, and I have reason to know of some cases from direct knowledge, I believe that certain Fianna Fáil Clubs have taken on themselves the administration of the affairs of the Land Commission and whole parcels of good land have been taken up by them in their own minds and divided according to their wishes amongst the leading members of these Fianna Fáil Clubs. That is a rather dangerous tendency.
Mr. O'Neill: I do not say they allowed it to go on, but I may warn you that such a thing is in existence and such a feeling is abroad. A good deal of it is done with the connivance of the politically-minded members of Fianna Fáil and supporters of the Fianna Fáil policy. Now, I think that a report should be made to the members of the House in regard to the division of land, particularly the division in a member's own constituency. I do not think it would be too difficult to do that. It would be an advantage that members should be let know who is getting the land and the amount of land that is being divided.
With regard now to the restoration of evicted tenants, it is difficult to believe at this hour of the day that there are still evicted tenants who have not been reinstated or compensated for the sufferings inflicted upon them when they were thrown out of their holdings. There are still some cases outstanding. In certain parts of the country a movement is on foot to try and get all these cases, shall I say, collaborated, and brought before the notice of the Minister. I am confident that they will receive the attention they deserve. There may be cases which will come before the Minister, which will have very little merit. I know there are many genuine cases, and I am sure these will all receive the attention they deserve. With regard to the evicted tenants who have been reinstated in their own holdings or on divided lands there is a grievance inflicted on them in this way. When these tenants were reinstated they got back lands which were acquired from grabbers who took them from the old landlords. To get rid of these grabbers they had to be very heavily compensated, and they were compensated for the value of the land at the time when land was standing at a high value. The people who were given these lands found that their annuities were funded or fixed on the compensation paid to the grabbers. There are many cases of that kind. As a result, those restored tenants are paying in that way a severe rack rent, when the present depressed state of  agriculture is taken into consideration. Another matter, which has not been referred to very much in the course of this debate, is the question of land erosion. In many cases injury has been done to land from flooding by the sea or by the breaking down of certain embankments and breakwaters. Land has been injured in inland places by the land being washed away by mountain torrents. I have had experience of several cases of that kind in west Cork. Some time ago I brought before the notice of the Land Commission a case where men were still paying high annuities for agricultural lands which were submerged and no longer of any use. I would refer the Minister to one particular place in the estuary of Cork harbour known as Ringabella, where thousands of acres of land have been rendered useless by the inroads of the sea. Some time ago the Cork County Council made representations to the Land Commission and Board of Works and asked them to have this matter taken up. The county council got very little satisfaction, and no steps whatever have been taken by any Government Department, and the conditions there have become worse and worse every day.
The motion to refer back this Vote for reconsideration has emanated from the Labour Party in order to draw attention to the low rate of wages paid in certain activities of this Department. I do not think the Labour Party can altogether be acquitted of the charge that they are to a considerable extent responsible for these lower wages. They are responsible for the condition of and amount of employment upon the land. Apart from the reduction and depreciation in wages and the lowering of the standard of living amongst agricultural labourers there is facing us the fact that for the last two years more than 12,000 workers have been put out of operation on the land. That is a very serious thing and it is due to the policy which has had the direct continuous and consistent support of the Labour Party. Furthermore, latterly there has been a very  severe inroad upon the cost of living of the agricultural labourers. Owing to the impoverishment of the farmers it is no longer possible for them to pay the rate of wage they were able to pay. As a result, 12,000 of them have gone off work on the land. The farmers have been trying to make ends meet and the force of economic pressure has compelled the farmer to send away men who had been in constant employment with him year after year. Then again there is an increase in the cost of living owing to the Budget. The one tendency of the Budget is to depress wages. Wages to-day will not buy so much as a few years ago. You have a tax on tea, on sugar, on butter, coal, flour and other commodities. I would say that the average labour household will find that the cost of living has gone up at least 4/- a week owing to the Budget.
Naturally, this debate in regard to the administration of the land annuities has centred very strongly around the question of the economic war. That is the most dismal aspect of the whole agricultural situation. But the collection of annuities is going on apace, and if we can believe what the Minister stated yesterday and if we can give credence to the figures he placed before us, the collection of annuities is nothing about which to wail. The Minister tells us that 75 per cent. of the annuities have been collected. If that is so, I do not think there is any reason to believe in the existence of any widespread organisation and conspiracy to defeat the ends of justice; or that we of the Opposition have been telling people not to pay their annuities. In this House we have been told that we have forced dupes not to pay their annuities. The question of annuities goes back very far, long before the time when the Cosgrave administration ceased to function here. Up to that time there was very little trouble about the annuities.
Ex-President Cosgrave to-day showed us how the people stood up to their obligations and how they discharged them very efficiently and very honestly. Previous to that time, very  little comment was made about the payment of land annuities at all. I often heard it said in my part of the country that one good sow paid the annuities of the biggest farm in the district. The whole question of annuities was raised as a political issue. It was never heard of until 1926, when it had the benediction of a man called Peadar O'Donnell and subsequently received the semi-benediction of President de Valera. Then it became a very vital question. We were told that we were to retain the annuities when the Fianna Fáil Party came into power. It was never expected then that England would retaliate or that she would embark upon the economic war; even though we did fire the first shot, it was not believed that an island empire like England could do without Irish produce. The Minister for Finance, then Deputy MacEntee, told us that England could do without our meat. She is not doing without our meat but she is taking it from us at her own price, and we have discovered to our cost that there is no other market to which we could send our produce. We have made a coal-cattle pact which was really not a pact at all.
Mr. O'Neill: All this is part and parcel of the annuity campaign and I refer to it to show that we are involved in an economic struggle. We have the farmers having the annuities forcibly collected from them, not once, but two or three times. As President de Valera said, they are being “dragged out of us” by England, and if she is going to drag them successfully out of us, it would be as well perhaps that we should let them go with a good grace under protest and see if we could not at the same time get something back in another way. We were told by Deputy Norton last night that the dragging of these annuities was a “highwayman's tribute.” I would ask the Deputy to tell us what sort of legalised robbery is the extraction the second time of the annuities by machine-guns, revolvers, rifles and armoured  cars from the unfortunate farmers of this country? They say that two wrongs never made a right, and I find it hard to believe that two robbers dragging the annuities out of him will make the position of the farmer any better. Apart from that, I would ask the Minister to consult his colleagues and I would appeal to him just as other members on these benches are appealing to him for a better consideration and a more temperate view of the situation under which these annuities are collected. I should like them to ask themselves if the game is worth the candle; in other words, what does it cost to collect these annuities they are forced to collect? There are only about one-fourth of them left uncollected. You have now skimmed the cream of the annuities and those which remain to be collected have come from the poorest and the most needy of our population.
We have had same terrible scenes and sights in connection with the collection of the annuities. I need not remind the Minister of the scenes that took place in Marsh's Yard on 13th August last. I would ask him to say what it cost on that occasion to collect the sum of £17 by auction in a blood-spattered yard. There were 350 Guards there; 42 armed plainclothes men, a lorry load of military armed with tear bombs, and two cars with special men armed with rifles and revolvers—all sent to protect the emergency men who came to buy at the auction. One man lost his life on that occasion; 12 men were wounded, some of them seriously. There was an inquest which lasted for a fortnight and a trial before the Circuit Court judge of several men. All that cost was incurred for £17 got for a few miserable cattle.
I ask the Government what is it costing them to-day with their special forces of big lorries and V-Eight cars running up and down the country with picked men. Has it not cost more than £100 to collect every pound of the annuities, besides the loss of prestige and of morale amongst our people which it entailed, as well as  deplorable suffering? We saw the scene which occurred in this House a fortnight ago, when some very respectable people who came here and could not restrain their feelings——
Mr. O'Neill: I am asking the Minister if it is worth while to have all this bitterness stirred up for the sake of the few miserable pounds involved. I will be told that the law must be vindicated at any cost; but is there not too high a cost at which the law may be vindicated? Edmund Burke said on one occasion that to enforce legal rights often leads to grievous wrongs. So it is in this case of the annuities. I should like to read what the Bishop of Cork said with regard to the collection of annuities:—
“Two years ago, he had expressed his sympathy there with the whole rural community, farmers and farm labourers. The condition, if anything, had disimproved since. It was heartbreaking to one who remembered the Land War, with the landlords supported with all the might of England, to see reintroduced into the Free State the English methods of 50 to 60 years ago. At that time ‘suspects’ galore were arrested and lodged in jail without trial; there were innumerable seizures; the tribe of emergency men appeared who bought at a nominal price and made a small fortune on animals that the regular buyers would not touch. They had it all back again. Don't think I am talking politics or for or against any political Party. I am speaking in the interest of morals. I see the country becoming torn by political hatreds. I see class war and faction war.”
On that note I should like to end any remarks I have to make in connection with this debate. I should like to back them up by saying that there should be a better atmosphere with regard to this whole question; that  there should be an examination into it; and that the thing should not be allowed to go on one day longer than can possibly be helped.
We will be told that these things are done under the mandate of the people who elected Fianna Fáil twice; that they are being done by constitutional methods. In this connection, I should like to quote some words of President de Valera. Writing to Mr. John Dillon in 1918, he referred to the condition of affairs here under the British Government and said:—
Mr. McGovern: There has been a good deal of ground covered in this discussion so that there is hardly anything remaining to be said at this stage. But I think the Minister will have something to deal with in his reply, if he deals fairly with the matters brought before him, especially with regard to his right to collect those annuities and to use the forces of the State in such a manner as they have been used against unfortunate individuals who have been brought to the verge of bankruptcy by a policy for which the Minister, in conjunction with the other members of the Executive Council, is responsible. I hope that the Minister will try to justify the collection of these annuities, which even the President has admitted have been collected by Great Britain. Great Britain claims to have collected them and the President has admitted that. Not only have the farmers paid them, but they have paid other debts as well. I hope the Minister will attempt to justify the collection of these annuities or, if not, that we will tell the House what he proposes to do to remedy the grievances under which the farmers undoubtedly are suffering.
The only answer that so far has been put up in this House to the case made is: “We are the Government,  and we were elected by the majority of the people.” That brings up another point. Does a majority entitle the Government to do wrong? Does a majority vote, even a much greater majority vote than the Fianna Fáil Government got, entitle that Government, or the Ministers collectively or individually, to break the Seventh Commandment and do an injustice?
Mr. McGovern: If the Executive Council go to the country and ask for authority to do wrong, to inflict injustice, and to break the Seventh Commandment, are they justified? I should like the Minister to try to explain that. The present Government seem to be doing everything in the name of Christian socialism, or on Christian principles. It is a strange use to make of Christian principles, to use them to break the fundamental Christian law. I should like to hear the Minister's explanation and justification for the collection of the annuities in the present circumstances.
The Minister also boasted, and Deputy O'Neill referred to it to-day, of killing the cattle trade that it took 700 years to build. If it is a good thing to kill the cattle trade, the Minister is justified in his boast. I should like to know, whether or not he still boasts of his achievement, because he has certainly made a success of it whether or not it is a good thing to have done. The best proof that the Minister has made a good job of it, and that he is entitled to boast of it, is the prices that cattle are fetching when they are put up for sale at public auctions. Some Deputies boast about what they are making in the fairs, but they are not being bought in the fairs. In the fairs, a few of them are picked here and there but the majority, especially the inferior cattle, are left standing there. When, however, the cattle are put up for sale at a public auction, without any selection, then the price realised is a fair indication of the value and, judging by the prices reported at many of these auctions in the last few weeks, the Minister is certainly  entitled to boast that he has killed in 100 days what it took 100 years to build up in this country.
That brings us back the question of the annuities. How are the annuities paid? The principal item that enables the farmer to meet these liabilities is the money realised from the cattle trade. Notwithstanding the Minister's boast, no matter what new policy farmers may adopt with regard to beet and wheat, the cattle trade will still remain the principal production of the land of this country. For the next 50 years at least, until our population is at least doubled, it will remain so, and the more tillage the farmers go in for, the more cattle will be produced. We cannot get away from these facts. Of course, all this is justified on the ground that there is an economic war going on. If there were not an economic war, there would be no justification at all. After the Coal-Cattle Pact, I think it can hardly be contended any longer that there is really an economic war, because the only serious attack that has been made on the supposed enemy was the injuring of her coal trade, and now, instead of injuring that coal trade, the supposed enemy has been given a monopoly.
Mr. McGovern: It cuts across everything. It affects the payment of annuities and it is at the bottom of all the trouble that is occurring in connection with the collection of the annuities. It is at the bottom of all the trouble that occurs at the sheriffs' sales, and so on. The question of whether there is really an economic war or not arises here, I  maintain, because, as a result of the Coal-Cattle Pact, there is no such thing as an economic war. In view of that fact, no Minister or Deputy can now claim that there is really an economic war between this country and Great Britain at the present time, because, so far as this country is concerned, they have abandoned the economic war.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: We had a full-dress debate here on the general policy of the Government on the Vote for the office of the President, and most of that matter was raised from every side. Surely, we ought to confine ourselves now to this particular Vote and to what this particular Minister is responsible for here.
Mr. McGovern: Well, Sir, I do not know if I am entitled to ask whether it is an equitable thing for the Land Commission to collect the annuities. I find it very difficult to deal with that matter without referring to the economic war. There is a motion on the Order Paper and I think that, if the Government were in earnest in collecting these annuities on the justification that there is an economic war and that that economic war is in the national interests, they should make it a national charge and distribute it equally amongst all sections of the community. The motion on the Order Paper reads as follows:—
That a Select Committee be set up to inquire into the incidence of the special duties collected by the British Government on Saorstát agricultural produce and to report on ways and means whereby the burden of the economic war will be equitably borne by all sections of the community.
If the Government is in earnest in claiming that there is an economic war and that that war is in the interests of the nation as a whole, I think they should adopt the suggestion put forward in that motion instead of waiting and keeping the motion on the list for at least two years.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I would remind the Deputy that there is a  certain Standing Order that says that a Deputy cannot anticipate discussion in connection with a motion on something else. The Deputy is getting in still deeper in introducing that matter.
Mr. McGovern: The question of the legality of these collections has been raised. We have been told that certain Deputies said there was no moral right on the part of the Government to collect the annuities. I repeat that they have no moral right to collect money that is not due. They have a legal right, but, because a Deputy on this side of the House says that they have no moral right, that does not mean that they are saying that the people should not pay and should not discharge their liabilities. That is a different thing altogether. The only charge that can be brought definitely home against any individual on this side of the House, that they encouraged the non-payment of annuities, was the charge against Deputy Minch. Deputy Minch has answered that charge and has answered it, I think, in a manner that should satisfy any reasonable man. He advised the non-payment of annuities until a case pending in the High Courts should be decided and, by doing that, I think he was keeping within the law. He was obeying the law, which is what a great many people in this country do not do. There was nothing wrong in asking them to withhold payment until that High Court case should be decided. That is the only case they have to work upon and it is all a fictitious charge that is being  brought against the Opposition. The reason that fictitious charge is being brought is in order to justify the flying squads that are confiscating people's property.
We have been told by a member of the Labour Party here that they were sympathetic towards the farmers in their difficulties. I doubt the sincerity of that statement, because, in the very same breath, Deputy Keyes, who told us that, said: “If they are not able to keep their land, why do they not leave it there and get the people to share their misfortunes?” That means confiscation—if the farmers have been brought to the pass that their land is no use to them, that they must leave it there and get people to take it from them. That is the sympathy the Labour Party is showing now for the farmers and that is the sort of sympathy that is bringing the country to the position it is in. I agree with the same Deputy when he says that Labour always supported the farmers in their fight for justice in the past. A great many of the agricultural labourers who are living amongst them and who know that their whole livelihood depends on the success of the industry in which they are engaged are still supporting them, but the Labour Party, as a Party, is not. The Labour Party has not only deserted the farmers but they have deserted the agricultural labourers. By supporting the policy of the Government, the Labour Party has reduced the agricultural community as a whole to a condition of bankruptcy, and when the industry is in such a position, how can the labourer be paid? That is an economic fact and it is economics that will rule. There is no use in anyone trying to upset the law of economics. If the industry was prosperous and if there were good prices, the farmers would be only too anxious to employ labour and to give the highest wages they could afford, but the money is not coming out of the land and when 20 cattle and so many sheep are sold for £16, £20 or £30, does anyone think that the men who are employed tending these cattle and sheep can get a decent wage? They could not get a farthing a  day for producing cattle and yet cattle must be the principal product of the greater part of the land. If that is the policy of the Government, the Labour Party is responsible for bringing down the wages of labour in the agricultural districts and turning so many of them out of employment.
We hear about beet and wheat and we have been told that if the farmers co-operate in, and put into operation, the policy which Fianna Fáil reconmends, everything will be well and all the farmers will be happy. I have not heard that farmers are not producing all the beet that is necessary to supply the factories and if that is so, where is the market for more beet? I know that in County Cavan there is no market for beet and there is no factory. With regard to wheat——
Mr. Dillon: Might I draw your attention to the fact that Deputy Micheal Cleary made a long speech and said that one of the reasons we were not paying land annuities was because I had encouraged people not to grow wheat or beet and he explained that if we were to grow wheat, we could all pay annuities and set up the Minister for Lands in a limousine?
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Chair does not know, and does not pretend to remember, everything a Deputy says. He can be guided only by the relevance of the particular Deputy's remarks to the Vote under discussion.
Mr. McGovern: Was Deputy Cleary in order in charging Deputy Dillon with advising people not to grow beet and wheat? I think that, if he was, I  should be entitled to reply. I never heard Deputy Dillon—I read his speech this morning, as I was not in the House at the time—advise anybody not to grow beet or wheat.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I do not know what Deputy Dillon said this morning or what Deputy Cleary said last night, but surely a discussion as to the desirability or otherwise, of growing beet or wheat would arise on the Vote of the Minister for Agriculture and not on the Vote of the Minister for Lands.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy will please sit down. I do not know what the Minister for Lands knows about agriculture. I only want to discuss what he knows about his own Department and what he administers in his own Department.
Mr. McGovern: On this question of the collection of the land annuities, I hope the Minister will advise his colleagues on the Executive Council to consider the whole matter in the light of present circumstances and to deal with the matter from the point of view of equity rather than from the point of view of the legal power they have through being elected. If they were elected with authority to enforce this economic war, they put a policy before the electors which they have not put into operation. They held out a  promise of the great prosperity that was to accrue to the people from the operation of that policy which has not been realised. Only the other day, I met a man who at one time believed sincerely in the policy of the present Government. He believed that it was going to bring about better conditions generally, but he asked me: “Is there no chance of getting a change of Government up there?” I said: “I do not think so” and told him that there was no power to change the Government and that the people who put them there would have to change them. I said: “I think you are one of those who helped to put them there and it is up to you to put them out.”“I quite understand that,” he said, “but when are we going to get the chance? If they run for two years more where are we going to be? We were deceived and disappointed.”
They say they have a mandate to do these things but the fact is that they have not. They simply deceived the people by telling them that they were going to succeed, and one Minister went so far as to say that we had won the economic war and that all we had to do was to win this election. That happened at the last election. Is it that they claim to have a mandate which justifies them now in doing anything—even breaking the Seventh Commandment? They remind me of a play in which a Queen who was regarded as a great tyrant was the principal character. When any of her ministers came to appeal to her to consider some injustice which was being done, her only reply was—“Oh, I am the Queen. I can do no wrong. I am the Queen.” Every Minister who gets up here says: “We are the Government. We have a mandate to do this and that. We have been elected.” That is the only answer they have. I hope the Minister will now have some better answer, and will justify the collection of those annuities on the merits of the case and on the justice of the case. Justice, after all, cannot be set aside even by a majority of the people, and no Government is entitled to break down  the Christian law, adding to the hypocrisy by pretending that they are doing it on Christian principles or as a sort of Christian socialism.
Mr. J.M. Burke: A Chinn Comhairle—Apparently there is some humour in my opening remark, and I am glad it is appreciated by some members of the House. During this prolonged discussion there have been many sneers and jeers and cheap jokes about the inability of the farmers to pay their annuities, and there has been a great deal of wild talk about some alleged conspiracy to defeat the ends of justice by scheming against the payment of annuities. On this particular point I can speak with a perfectly clear conscience. At all times, in public, in private, and through the Press, I have held that any farmer who is able to pay his annuity should do so, but at the same time I held and hold that the paramount and primary duty of a farmer is to maintain his family in at least frugal comfort, and that that right has priority over any demand that may be made on him either by an individual or by the community. It is a well-known fact, and it cannot be denied, that a great number of farmers at the present day are in sore distress. I am not going to go into the causes of it. I am not going to discuss the economic war, which has been discussed so fully and so frequently in this House, but the one fact that does remain is that a very large number of farmers are in a sad plight by the time they support their families and pay their sons who help them in the working of the land; and a Circuit Court judge—Mr. Thomas O'Donnell—said the other day that a farmer's son working on his father's land was as much entitled to a wage as any agricultural labourer or anybody else from outside.
I appeal to the Minister to give serious and, I hope, sympathetic consideration to those agriculturists who, through no fault of their own, but through a series of extraneous circumstances, are unable to meet their liabilities to the State. I think that is  a right which should be recognised by any Government. In considering the action of some farmers it should be borne in mind that the machinery by which the law operates is extra-judicial, and that the alleged debtor has no opportunity of bringing his case and explaining his circumstances before a legal tribunal. If he had those opportunities, which in my opinion ought to be granted to every citizen in the State, he would be able to convince whatever judge presided over the tribunal that he was entitled to get ample time in which to make up, if at all possible, the debt which he owed to the public authorities. This, as I say, is a matter which vitally concerns the country. It concerns the morale of the country, as has been pointed out by more than one speaker, because if the people—I do not care who they are—are forced into a spirit of revolt, if they are driven to it by circumstances which are overwhelming and irresistible, the spirit of lawlessness grows, and it may be productive of inestimable evils from which not only this generation but future generations may suffer.
Deputy Murphy, in the course of his remarks last night, spoke of some agricultural shows being abandoned as a protest against the Government's treatment of certain farmers. That may have been an element, but the overriding element was the fact that, as things are at the present day, the farming community would be unable to keep up those shows. It would be useless for the promoters of those shows, relying, as they do in most cases, on public subscriptions, to go around the country trying to get money which is not available. The shopkeepers will not subscribe because they cannot call in their debts. The farmers will not subscribe because they have entirely too much to do in trying to make ends meet. Hence the shows had to be abandoned. Everybody knows that there are in the Free State at the present time thousands of farmers who are living either on capital or on credit. They are living on the savings which have been made from the hard industry of the previous  30 or 40 years, or they are living on money borrowed from the banks or on the credit given to them by the shopkeepers in the country. Under those circumstances, I repeat, and earnestly repeat, my request to the Minister that the cases of those men should receive the most careful and the most sympathetic consideration.
In concluding my very few remarks —after all that had already been said there was very little left to say—I wish to quote from the Bishop of Cork's address of yesterday. Part of it has already been quoted by Deputy O'Neill; I wish to quote the concluding part. I commend it to every member of this House, whether he belongs to Fianna Fáil, Labour, Independent or Fine Gael. Here is what he says:—
“It is a duty, for both Government and farmers to put an end to the present war. The Government should consider the position of the farmers and the farmers should pay annuities and rates if they can. It would be disastrous to charitable and good neighbourly life if we became factious, and so I appeal to all in the spirit of the devotion of the month to observe Christian charity in every department of life, public as well as private.”
Mr. Dillon: Before the Minister rises to conclude, there are some remarks I would like to make arising out of certain observations made yesterday by Deputy Murphy with a view to questioning my bona fides in a certain respect. In those circumstances I desire to add a few words to what I have already said in this debate.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy has already participated in this debate. Though technically a Deputy has a right to speak more than once in Committee on Finance, the established practice is that a Deputy is confined to one speech, particularly when, as in this case, a motion to refer an Estimate back throws open to discussion the policy of the Department concerned. Deputy Dillon must, therefore, limit himself to a brief explanation  of the circumstances as affecting him personally. If Deputy Dillon feels that there are points to which he desires to reply, the Deputy is, I believe, sufficiently adroit to avail of other opportunities.
Mr. Dillon: I would not intervene at this stage but for the fact that a quite unprecedented course was adopted here. In my absence my private affairs were made an issue in this House. I desire to place on record that I consider it is quite unjustifiable to bring the private affairs of any Deputy into a discussion. If I am afforded this opportunity of answering the statements that were made in reference to me during my absence yesterday, I may assure the House that I will not answer matters relating to my personal affairs on the floor of the House in the future. Let me put it to Deputies that if I were to pry into their domestic arrangements and to raise here the domestic affairs of their own homes, I am sure they would resent it, and quite rightly.
Deputy Murphy said that I endeavoured to enforce a wage cut of £1 a week on my own employees. Let me say that since I became an employer of labour I have never reduced the wages of any man or woman working for me. Deputy Murphy said that I posed here as an advocate of high wages after endeavouring to take a substantial sum off the wages of my employees. That statement is without foundation, good, bad or indifferent. A trade dispute did take place in premises with which I was concerned. There was no proposal to reduce the wages of any existing employees by a farthing, not to speak of £1 a week. Finally, the Deputy said in reference to me: “As a wage-reducer and the  man who was the direct cause of invoking the law to prevent his employees from asserting their rights, through their Trade Unions, to their wages....” At no time did I invoke the law against any employee of mine.
It is true certain of my employees, engaged in a trade dispute in the town in which I live, were incited to violence by an organiser of the Union, whom, possibly, Deputy Murphy knows and who was afterwards dismissed by the Union and condemned by the Local Government Department, as a member of the Sligo Corporation, for taking a house built for the poor himself, while a member of the Corporation. My employees were incited by him to riot in the streets. They were brought before the court and I asked the court not to impose a penalty upon them if they undertook not to take violent action in the future. Everyone of them consented to that course and the matter was peacefully disposed of in that way.
I wish to give the House notice that I will not defend my personal affairs on the floor of the House again. In conclusion, let me say, there is no scintilla of truth in any allegation Deputy Murphy made against me last night, and if he had asked his own leader, Deputy Norton, with whom I have discussed this matter in private, he would have found that Deputy Norton could have confirmed for him, on my authority, everything I now say. If Deputy Murphy wanted to do even justice he could have got the information from a member of his own Party and he would have avoided a very unpleasant and undesirable interlude in the proceedings.
Mr. Connolly: Before proceeding to try to analyse all the welter of talk, relevant and irrelevant, mostly irrelevant, I might be pardoned if I remarked that I would like to see Deputy Dillon applying that high moral standard to his own actions in this House which he has demanded here a few moments ago. I hope on an occasion which will arise very soon to deal with certain things which the Deputy has gone out of his way to raise in this House in my absence in a most vindictive, ignorant and stupid way, a thing that affected my whole character and my whole career. I am discussing at present with the Ceann Comhairle what action I will take. But it nauseates me to see the disgusting hypocrisy of Deputy Dillon attacking Deputy Murphy in that spirit when he himself was guilty of the very same offence here yesterday afternoon that he charges him with. I hope to proceed with reasonable quietness and with as much attention as the 11 or 12 hours' debate would justify in dealing with the various things that were brought up here. I will try at least to be relevant and to deal with the points raised in so far as those points were relevant to the Land Commission Vote. I must confess that I had a cynical thought in my mind last night at 10.30 and to-night about 7 o'clock and it was this: One of the Houses of the Oireachtas has been abolished and I was wondering which House should have been abolished.
Mr. Connolly: Before I trust myself to get into the middle of the discourse and lest I should, like Deputy Dillon, be tempted to infuriate myself, to lather myself into a foam of high moral indignation, I would like to deal with one point, because it is a point that  requires to be dealt with rather carefully, and it is one which I will try to deal with respectfully in all the circumstances. Reference was made here this afternoon to a statement made by His Lordship the Bishop of Cork. I do not propose to discuss that statement, except in so far as it applies to my own Department. The newspaper reports attribute the following statement to His Lordship the Bishop of Cork:
“It is widely asserted that the agents of the Government, without authority from the Government, I am sure, if it be true at all, discriminate in the matter of seizures on account of unpaid rates and annuities between their political friends and their opponents.”
That, in so far as it affects the Land Commission, is something I think that we have to take cognisance of, particularly when it affords the Irish Times paper, whose record in matters affecting land and the general welfare of this people is well known to most of us, an opportunity to discourse in its editorial. The editorial of the Irish Times is as follows:—
That is the immediate result. I pass it by without any further comment except to make the position of my Department and every Department of the State quite clear. This is given more or less in the nature of a carefully thought out reply so that there will be no misconception:—
The agents of the Government are not permitted to discriminate on political grounds between defaulters in the matter of seizures on account of unpaid rates and annuities, but it is their practice to deal leniently with defaulters in poor circumstances and to give priority of attention to wilful defaulters who are well able to pay and to leaders of the movement for  resistance to the payment of rates and annuities.
That is all I propose to say on the matter. Now coming to the Debate if one might describe it as such I will deal with the various points in so far as I can, as briefly as I can and as nearly as I can in the order in which they were raised. Deputy Davin had an amendment to refer back this Vote. I think that aspect of it belongs more to the Vote on Forestry but I had no objection to his raising it on the Land Commission assuming, Sir, that you do not allow another 12 hours on the Forestry Vote on this issue. With regard to the question of Land Commission payments to labourers of the Land Commission and of the Forestry Section, the question was raised recently by a Parliamentary question. But before that, Deputy Smith of Cavan had called my attention to the anomaly in the rates of wages paid between one area and another in the County Cavan. Subsequently Deputy Davin raised the matter and I investigated it there and then.
Now, Deputies may not all be aware of the fact that wages for Government labourers are considered and reported upon by the Wages Advisory Committee. The Board was set up in 1922 and apparently the operations of that Board were to take evidence in the area, to find out what was the average agricultural wage there and to give at least that wage. I am not at the moment saying that that should be so or that it can be justified. I am telling you what did exist and what does exist. The overriding consideration which seems to operate with the Committee is the rate paid to agricultural labourers and apparently the practice has been in the case of those labourers who may be employed by the Office of Public Works the Forestry Department and the rest to give 2/- or thereabouts per week more than the agricultural rate that prevails there. That has been the position. Following Deputy Smith's communication, I immediately got busy on the matter and found out that at the moment I had no power to do  anything about it; and I have no power to do anything about it at the present moment. I would like to make it clear that 22/- a week is nothing like the average wage that is being paid by the Forestry Department. In a great many districts the labourers are being paid a wage of 26/-, 27/- and 28/-. I do not urge that as a defence. In fact, on the contrary, it is rather an argument in favour of what Deputy Davin, Deputy Smith, Deputy Norton and the others have said. At the moment I cannot give any guarantee, because I never give a guarantee unless I am reasonably sure of delivering the goods. But Deputy Norton need not be told my point of view on the matter. I do promise that I will continue to fight this issue and to have something like a decent settlement of it. I cannot say that I will succeed, but I have reasonable hopes that I will not altogether fail.
Deputy Dillon requested particulars as to the number of new holdings included in the area divided last year. The analysis of land division operations is not yet completed and therefore only approximate figures are available at the moment. In the total area divided during the financial year ended 31st March, 1935, is included approximately 60,000 acres comprising some 2,000 new holdings. Provision was made for 2,174 dwelling-houses by the Land Commission during the financial year. The other portion of the Deputy's speech which dealt with anything at all relevant to the Land Commission will be supplied when the year's analysis is completed. I propose to leave until later the other matters with which he dealt. But specifically the matter with which I have dealt was the only one that was at all relevant to the Land Commission as embodies in the Estimate. Deputy Brennan raised a question about the Land Commission giving land to occupiers of labourers' cottages. The fact is that occupiers of labourers' cottages are not ineligible for land, and they have been given land. The local authorities may not desire to give cottages to such  people or they may desire that they would give up the cottages when the land is given to them. We have no authority to object to that. The local authorities can only sell to the Land Commission any cottages which have ceased to be required for agricultural labourers. No such sales have taken place and in the only case where the Land Commission wanted to purchase they were unable to do so because of the fancy prices demanded.
Deputy Brennan raised the question of the size of the holdings. The size of the holdings has always been a matter of difference of opinion. There will always be different opinions with regard to the size of the holdings. In the west it is reckoned that a £10 valuation, whilst not providing the farmer with anything like luxury, does provide him with enough land, if properly worked, to maintain his wife and family. In Roscommon, the area in which the Deputy is interested, there is what amounts to a practical decision, and there is a slightly increased portion allowed in that county. It has to be remembered also that all sorts of considerations come into the decision as regards the portion of land that a man is to get. The valuation is not the only measure on which land can be allotted. You have a case in certain portions of County Meath where land has an exceedingly high valuation, and you have other areas in the west and elsewhere where the valuation is extremely low. All I can say is that all our inspectors and all our Commissioners have discussed this matter in great detail. We have had, as a matter of fact, four or five conferences in the last month on this very issue, and every care is taken to ensure that where we provide a holding we provide an economic holding which will maintain a man and his wife and children in reasonable comfort. It would be of no advantage to the Land Commission to establish new holders who would not have sufficient land to make good. We have to remember at the same time that the number of applications for land is very numerous. We have to remember, too, that  there is only a limited amount of land in this island, and it is our job to do the best we can with what is available, in carrying out the policy that this Government is pursuing.
Deputy Hogan (Clare) made reference to migration. He does not hold out much hope of the successful migration of western congests in the Gaeltacht. I agree that it is a very risky experiment. He suggests that we should not bring them in smaller colonies than 100 families. That is my own view, if it could be done. But, will anyone tell me where we can get sufficient land in one block to lay out 100 holdings of, say, 20 acres, remembering that we have to satisfy the local demands, the local congests, the local evicted tenants, and to adjust the uneconomic holdings and make them economical, as a preliminary, before we would dare or think it wise to bring in any group of migrants from the Gaeltacht.
I admit it is a big experiment, an experiment that has given us much thought in the Land Commission, both from the Gaeltacht point of view and the Land Commission point of view. We have got the co-operation, willingly given, of practically every Department. We have tried to foresee all the possible difficulties, having in mind that we want to preserve the language, and want to give these migrants that we bring across a reasonable chance of making good. We have gone to considerable trouble, apart from expense, and we have got co-operation from different groups of people in the country who are interested, both from the language and social point of view. I do say that if these migrants do not make good it is entirely their own fault, but I have every confidence that they will make good.
There are two aspects of it. The last day I went down to the Athboy colony I motored from Dunshaughlin, right across by Trim, in through Summerhill, and so on, and saw miles of country without people. We have heard a great deal to-day about the land annuity payments, the division  of land and all the rest. I say that that area is almost as bereft of people as the wild, untamed prairie-land I saw in the United States and Canada. If anyone who heard the kind of argument that has been made about the policy pursued by the Government in connection with the land annuities or the policy of economic development went through that country and saw the result of 50 or 100 years of the bullock would say that that is a good policy, then I say that that person is more interested in cattle and in bank balances than in human beings; and this Government stands for the human being, first, last, and all the time.
A challenge has been issued here as regards what I stated. It should not be necessary to correct that now. I stated, and these are my specific words: “It took 100 years to establish the cattle trade as we know it now and, please God, it would not take 100 years to wipe it out.” These are my exact words. I do not want to see the cattle trade, as we know it, maintained for all time. I will not be a party to it. When the time comes that this Government is rejected by the Irish people, then they can get another Government to pursue that policy. I take back no word of what I said. I speak from a reasonable experience and a reasonable knowledge of conditions in other agricultural countries, which seems to have been completely ignored in all the nonsense talked here. I do not say that all the speeches were nonsense, but I say that about 70 per cent. of them were. Those people who talk about the land annuities and the destruction of the cattle trade do not really know what they are talking about, or, if they do, then they are committing a worse sin.
What are all the negotiations going on about the Argentine, Canada, New Zealand and Australia? What is the United States doing about cattle to-day? Does anyone here know? I have been told that I know nothing about farming and about land, but at least I hope God provided me with  some intelligence to try to understand economic facts. We are also told that there was no conspiracy and we have had the special pleading and the whitewashing of themselves—“Thanks be to God, I did not advise the people not to pay the annuities.” Was there a movement for the withholding of the annuities? Was there a conspiracy? Were there various evolutions of the present Opposition, or were there not? Were we all misled by the Irish Independent, the Irish Press, the Irish Times, and the Cork Examiner articles? Was there no reality behind them? Deputy O'Neill wept some tears this evening about what happened in Cork, and asked: “Was the game worth the candle to collect £17?” How much did it cost to create the opposition to the collection of the £17? These are things that make one tired—the dishonesty of it.
One can forgive ignorance, and we had a great deal of ignorance displayed yesterday and to-day, but one cannot condone what is worse than ignorance—deliberate misrepresentation. There is one thing above all others needed in this country, and it is needed in this House more than anywhere else, and that is truth. What benefit is it to us to come here and make false representations about things? I have watched the evolution of this House during the last three years and I want to tell Deputies something. It is only when you go out of this country and when you read the reports of what goes on in this House that you realise just how much harm in discrediting this country this House can do. It is from this House that all the viciously anti-Irish papers and the Press all over the world take their cue. It is from what is said in this House the whole economic war has been waged on behalf of Great Britain.
Deputy Hogan has also suggested that land is not being divided rapidly enough, that there are still large areas available in Clare, derelict farms which could be divided up and distributed among allottees. I agree. Land is not being distributed as  quickly as I would like; but there is a limit to what the machine can do, and there certainly is a limit to what my staffs can do. I say that they have reached their limit in what they did last year. I think it was Deputy Cosgrave suggested that the Minister was not responsible for the division of land. Deputy Cosgrave was quite right. He said it was due to the 1933 Land Act and to the staffs, and he is entirely correct. It was due to the 1933 Land Act and to the loyal work and earnest energy that my staffs put into their work last year, and I claim not one whit of credit for the work done. We do not know whether we can exceed, and I am not going to promise even that we shall reach last year's figure. All I know is that I have got team work in the Land Commission. I believe I have got the sympathy, understanding and co-operation of every member of my staff, and when I have got that I am more than happy. All I can say is that I shall defend them against attack when such attacks are not justified. Some of us here know—Deputy Lynch knows, and I am sure other Deputies know—the attacks that are launched on Land Commission officials. Deputy Donnelly referred to the tradition behind the Land Commission and to all its past and background. We have one rule in the Land Commission; that is, if there is any charge to be made against the Land Commission, it has got to be substantiated with an affidavit and evidence. If that is done, then the matter will be investigated, but I am there to see that the Land Commission officials who have to meet the public on the field and who have, in my opinion, the most difficult work of any of the officials in this country, are defended and that they get a fair break. I shall see that they give the applicants and the tenants and others who have business with the Land Commission a fair break also, but the Land Commission officials themselves must get a fair break.
Deputy O'Higgins raised the question of the value of land. I think he was adequately answered by Deputy  Martin Corry, who referred to the attitude of the banks with regard to the purchase or the advancing of overdrafts on land. It is not since Fianna Fáil came into office that that attitude has manifested itself. I remember, in 1926 and 1927, lots of people coming to me asking me to go to bank managers to arrange to get some facilities. Huge holdings of land, north and south, were sold after the war and during the temporary boom period. Unquestionably, the value was inflated and, unquestionably, many of our annuitants to-day are suffering from the inflated values of the land they acquired at that period. I do not wish to do Deputy O'Higgins an injustice, but he seemed to suggest that the value of land was something over which we could exercise a pernicious influence. As far as I am personally concerned, I have nothing to do with the valuation of land. The inspectors report on it, the commissioners decide upon it. Let it always be remembered that we make an offer for land and that, if that offer is not accepted, the matter rests for the moment. The next step is to consider whether we will compulsorily acquire that land. If we decide to acquire the land compulsorily, we then proceed to issue and publish a price. That does not end the matter either. The owner of the land has still a right to go to the Appeals Tribunal and have his case decided in open Court. Accordingly, I do not see how we can be accused of either devaluing or deflating the valuation of land, or, as somebody suggested, of confiscating the land.
Deputy Nally, referring to the County Mayo, said that we were not interfering with people of 1,000 acres and upwards and that there were various estates in County Mayo that we ought to take over but had not done so. It is true that there are some estates in County Mayo that I am anxious to get after. However, there are difficulties in some cases. I might remind the Deputy that we did divide in County Mayo last year 9,000 acres, apart from the redistribution and the readjustment of many of the C.D.B. holdings. However,  if the Deputy will supply me with any information, or if any other Deputy in County Mayo or any other County will supply me with information, of lands that he considers should be taken over in consonance with the Land Commission programme, I shall be glad to look into it. It must be remembered, however, that there may be a case where you have a farm of 500 or 200 acres—and I am not speaking of stud farms now—where a great deal of employment is given, and it then becomes a question of an economic weighing in the balance so as to find out whether these people who are being paid so much a week, along with the weekly perquisites they get, are going to be better off than they would be if we took the land over. My inclination—and I want to make this clear—is, in all cases, to take over a big place in order to get the people established in permanent homes of their own and to have this country in the main a country of small, economic, thrifty, well-run holdings, with farms of from 15 to 20 acres of reasonably good land, and to see the people producing all the things that they can produce for their own support within their own holdings.
Deputy Sean MacEoin, I think, paid us the one tribute that was paid in the 12 hours of debate. He stated that he had seen what was going on with regard to the acquisition and with regard to the division of land and that he was satisfied that no preferences in acquisition were taking place and that the land was being fairly divided. Well, we appreciate that. He went on to say, however, dealing with the question of the economic war, that the land prices were entirely due to the economic war. I have already dealt with that in regard to the whole question of the economic war which has been thrashed out here ad nauseam to-day, yesterday, and every day.
Deputy Belton seemed to suggest that we ought to cease distributing land altogether and that we were giving land to people of no property. I think that one of his remarks was that, naturally, people would take  something for nothing. I think that might be misinterpreted and I would remind the House that in selecting allottees, the Land Commissioners look to get people who will have a reasonable chance of making good. In most cases, these people have a little capital, and, in many cases, we get applications from people who have saved from £200 to £300 and sometimes up to £500, and they are anxious to get the holdings so that they may work out their livings on the land.
I think that the remarks of Deputy Professor O'Sullivan hardly call for any comment from me. For a man of his experience and a man of his intellectual attainments, and his qualifications as a philosopher, to talk about rack-renting by the Land Commission is something that hardly calls for a reply. He also raised a question in connection with instructions for leniency. I explained here last evening that, in dealing with this question of giving time, the Land Commission were always sympathetic. Where representations were made to me, I passed them over for the consideration of the section of the Department which dealt with them. I feel that it was my duty to do that and I am quite satisfied that, had I taken any other line, I would be charged here—in fact it has been charged—with showing political preferences. If there is one thing I think we can claim in the Land Commission, it is that we are doing our job squarely and on the level and we are not afraid of any investigation as regards our activities. I have been told by many members of the Fianna Fáil organisation that only Blueshirts get land and I have been told, on the other hand, by political opponents that only Fianna Fáil members get land. I am not going to try to please everybody, particularly in the matter of land division. That would be something certainly beyond me and which I do not propose to attempt.
Deputy Donnelly dealt with the position in Laoighis-Offaly. He would like more speed and so would I, but in Laoighis-Offaly, last year, we divided 7,500 acres. There is a difficult problem  there for us and for the people in the area, that is, the area of Luggacurren and the Wolfhill section. I cannot promise what we can do; all I can say is that at the moment I have a man specially investigating that problem to see whether we can remove some of the people from that area, giving them holdings elsewhere, and whether the residual land there will make economic holdings for those who are left. Deputy Keyes raised the question of the building of houses. We, in the Land Commission have, as everybody knows, various methods of building houses. We advertise houses and when these advertisements appear and when the contracts are settled, the contracts always contain a fair wages clause. Many of our inspectors, including the divisionals, and the Land Commissioners themselves, feel that a great deal of benefit can be given to the future owner of a house by making him a grant and allowing him, and encouraging him, to do it himself by direct labour. It is stated, and I think it is reasonable to assume that it is correct, that he will be more interested in making a first-class job of it than even a contractor. However, with regard to the fair wage clause in our contracts, in every case in which contracts are given the fair wage clause is always included.
Deputy Keyes referred to the 40,000 acres of untenanted land in County Limerick. I know that there is a great deal of untenanted land in County Limerick, but how much of it can come into consideration by the Land Commission, I am not prepared to say. Deputy Bennett, judging by his remarks yesterday, would seem to suggest that all the land in County Limerick held by people like himself ought to be taken over at once. I do not think he was accurate in that, and I should be long sorry to take him at his literal word in regard to it. Limerick must be benefiting very considerably from the development of creameries. However, as the Ceann Comhairle is here, he might rule me out of order for infringing on the realm of agriculture.
Deputy Minch raised the question— and I think it was referred to by several other Deputies—of the man who owes a certain amount for land annuities and who, at the same time, is owed certain bounties by another Department of the State. They may be in respect of butter, tobacco or something else. In every case in which our attention has been called to the fact that another Department of the State owes an annuitant money and we are at the same time pressing for ours, we immediately hold our hand and we go further, in that I take up the matter with the Minister of that Department personally to see that the money will be paid as quickly as possible. In the meantime, there is no case that has been brought to our notice—and I say that has been brought to our notice— where we have pressed for the payment of an annuity in the way that has been suggested.
Deputy Cleary dealt with the position in the West. He wants rundale cleared up and lands rearranged and says that until this is done housing cannot be attended to. We realise the difficulties of that, and we are doing our utmost. Sometimes it is suggested by Deputies and others, including some of our own Deputies, such as Deputy Donnelly, for instance, that all we have to do is to get a new regiment of inspectors. I should like to point out that we have increased the staff, but there is a limit to what we can increase it to and there is also the period during which you can assimilate staffs. Staffs of people, able to go out and competent to judge, value and divide land, are not got in every class. They have to have certain technical knowledge and certain peculiar abilities, and it takes quite a good while to get them into the work. In so far as it has been wise and in so far as the present organisation can assimilate new material, we have done so, and remember, the assimilation of new staff outside means a similar increase of staff inside, and the staff inside has equally to be trained in regard to the technique of the work of administration.
The report I gave yesterday indicated just what progress has been made, and we are aiming at eclipsing that next  year. I do not know whether it will be possible or not. All I can say is that we are doing our very utmost. Deputy Harris raised various questions in regard to Kildare. Kildare's distribution last year amounted to 8,524 acres, and there are at present out with the inspectors 10,000 acres to be reported on for suitability and price. There is a great deal more in the machine, so to speak, in regard to Kildare, and there, again, there is great possibility of proper and equitable division. We are doing our best to reach on it. Deputy O'Neill raised the question, apart from other questions I have already dealt with, of reports county by county. I have such a list here in front of me. Some of the counties were neglected last year, and those counties that were neglected last year were, in many cases, counties that had very little land affording an opportunity to do good work from the Land Commission point of view, but in spite of that, those counties that were down on the list last year have been earmarked this year for special attention to bring up a fair average for the two years.
The area divided in Cavan last year was only 62 acres; in Donegal, 12,911 acres; and in Monaghan, 841 acres, making a total for the three Ulster counties of 13,814 acres. The area divided in Carlow was 204 acres; in Dublin, 441 acres; in Kildare, 8,524 acres; in Kilkenny, 934 acres; in Laoighis, 3,000 acres; in Longford, 684 acres; in Louth, 303 acres; in Meath, 7,889 acres; in Offaly, 4,519 acres; in Westmeath, 1,856 acres; in Wexford, 421 acres; and none in Wicklow. Wicklow has been marked for considerable allotment this year, and so also has Westmeath, which, relative to the potential resources in Westmeath, got little attention last year. That makes a total for Leinster of 28,825 acres. In Connacht, the acreage divided in Galway was 22,699 acres; in Roscommon, 5,762 acres; in Sligo, 4,144 acres; in Mayo, 8,705 acres; in Leitrim, 815 acres, making a total of 42,125 acres. In Munster, the figures were: Clare, 3,600 acres; Cork, 2,956 acres; Kerry,  1,728; Limerick, 1,812; Tipperary, 7,543; and Waterford only 43, making a total of 102,536 acres for the whole country apart from Congested Districts Board estates. That, I presume, published in our annual report, but it may be given to the Press beforehand.
Deputy O'Neill raised the question of discrimination. If Deputies have any specific case in which they can make a charge of discrimination, I wish they would let me have a report on it. All we hear is that there are rumours, or, as he said himself that “people are saying.” We were told that there was almost a new Land Commission established in Cork, which had already divided the land. Then it was discovered that the land was all in their own mind, or in his mind—I do not know which. Somebody raised the question of erosion. We have power under the 1933 Act to deal with erosion, and if any cases arise they can be brought to the attention of the Commissioners. We did deal with a few of those this year.
Coming to the general remarks, I should like merely to refer to the whole question of the land annuities which has been discussed here. I am only going to say this about it: the Land Commission has the responsibility for collecting those annuities. It would have been relatively easy—I say relatively easy because it is never easy— for the Land Commission to discriminate to some extent as to where they could have allowed leniency in regard to annuitants who were finding difficulty about the payment of the annuities. The annuities were halved. Certain arrears were written off. In my opinion that placed those annuitants in a rather favourable position. Certain things developed. We were told that the cattle trade was killed. An economic war was launched on this country, in which Britain fired the first shot. The plain issue is, in short, “Are we going to surrender on that issue or are we not?”
Mr. Connolly: I sat with considerable patience through one of the most trying ordeals yesterday. I witnessed a display of more bad manners, and listened to more bad language and more bad debate than, I hope, I will ever have to listen to again, so I think that I might be allowed to make my short address without interruptions. I say that Britain fired the first shot in the economic war. That is my opinion. Do not take me as speaking for anybody else. It is a question of whether we are going to surrender or not. I am not going to go into rhetoric, or to enunciate as Deputy Dillon and some of his colleagues do, or, as I might put it, to bellow any dogmas, because that is the only description which actually fits it. If we are willing to surrender on this question of the land annuities, then I cease to be a member of this Party, and I cease to have any belief in the will of the Irish people to stand up for their rights. It is a question of national principle, and it seems to be entirely overlooked here. I do not know whether or not that is due to the views of such Deputies as Deputy MacDermot. It is a national fight and a national principle. I can understand Deputy MacDermot not understanding it. Eugene O'Neill uses one phrase in one of his famous plays called “The Hairy Ape,” and I suggest that the Deputy ought to read it. Through the whole drama runs one phrase: It runs through the whole play as a sort of fugue. The phrase is “You don't belong.” I say that with all sympathy, and I say it in no mean spirit. Deputy MacDermot will have to realise, if he has aspirations towards leadership of the people of this country, that he has got to understand the psychology of the people of this country. He frankly does not. There is not any chance in the world —I speak now as a person who is interested  in the Deputy—of his ever reaching even moderate leadership in this country unless he understands the psychology of the people in this country and knows their national spirit and aspirations.
Mr. Connolly: I want to treat the matter quite cooly and quite calmly. The exhibition which I saw him give here yesterday was something beyond telling. On the simplest matter he lashed himself into a fury. I cannot of course attempt to deal with the profound subjects in the profound way that he deals with them. I envy him his cocksureness, and I envy him his dogmatism, but I know that the longer I live the more I learn, and I think the man is in a very dangerous position indeed who thinks he has nothing to learn. Deputy Dillon seeks to convey an impression of his infallibility. It would be all very well if he even left it at that, but why bellow about it? There is only one person I know in the world who claims any element of infallibility, and his is a very restricted infallibility. He does not claim it on all things. But the Deputy knows it all! Personally, I always feel very diffident about prophesying, about being dogmatic, and about being cocksure. I think there are an awful lot of things which get along without any power that we have to control them. Then we have had Deputy Dillon raising questions—I have had that experience in my own Department—about all sorts of things; things that there is no truth in; indicating that the Deputy reaches for anything that is served up to him. In my opinion, he has discovered more mare's nests than would provide another stud farm for the Aga Khan. I think it is perfectly awful to have to listen to him. Thanks be to God I do not have to listen to him often.
Mr. Connolly: However, I am making those remarks with regard to him to show how impossible it is, with the best will in the world, to take the Deputy seriously. As Minister I try to analyse what any Deputy may put up; whether it is for my good or for my evil, it is at least worthy of consideration.
I dealt with the question of the payment of annuities in so far as expressing my view about them was concerned. The Land Commission policy is set on the same lines as were observed last year. I can only repeat that we are going to go on with our work. I can only repeat, in conclusion, that the work that has been done, that is being done and that will be done, depends, as was suggested, upon the staff, and, thanks to the staff, I hope it will continue in that way, and if it does, and if it is as good as last year, I will be satisfied and I will be, as I am now, grateful to the staff that carried out the work.
Mr. Davin: When I moved the motion, I asked the Minister if he would be willing to indicate that he was prepared to pay the prevailing rate of wages without prejudice, and I hoped that the Minister would be in a position to give that assurance. The Minister stated this figure was arrived at as a result of evidence taken in the area. The Irish Transport and General Workers' Union, to which these men  belong, were not consulted, so far as I know, in connection with this matter, and I do not know, as a matter of fact, from what source evidence was secured in the area.
Mr. Davin: On behalf of the Party, I accept the assurance given by the Minister that he, personally, does not stand for this wage. I am rather surprised at his admission that he has no power to vary the rate which has been applied in this case.
Mr. Connolly: I can only say that, if the Deputy will trust me, I will do my utmost to have this matter cleaned up, for the credit of the Department and for my own credit, as quickly as it is possible to do it. If he is willing to accept that, that is the best I can do. There is an Advisory Committee, of which I am not in control.
Mr. Davin: As a member of the Cabinet, can I ask the Minister this? Can he give an assurance that he will, in his capacity as head of the Department and as the Minister responsible for the policy of the Department, recommend the payment of the prevailing rate, 28/-?
Bennett, George Cecil.
Broderick, William Joseph.
Burke, James Michael.
Cosgrave, William T.
Davitt, Robert Emmet.
Dillon, James M. Lynch, Finian.
McFadden, Michael Og.
McGuire, James Ivan.
Murphy, James Edward.
Murphy, Timothy Joseph.
|Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
Doyle, Peadar S.
Esmonde, Osmond Grattan.
Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
Kent, William Rice.
Keyes, Michael. O'Donovan, Timothy Joseph.
O'Reilly, John Joseph.
O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
Pattison, James P.
Redmond, Bridget Mary.
Rogers, Patrick James.
Thrift, William Edward.
Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
Flinn, Hugo V.
Lemass, Seán F.
Little, Patrick John.
Maguire, Conor Alexander.
O Briain, Donnchadh.
O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.
Ward, Francis C.
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