Wednesday, 25 February 1948
Dáil Éireann Debate
That a supplementary sum not exceeding £10 be granted to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending 31st March, 1948, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for Agriculture, and of certain Services administered by that Office, including sundry Grants-in-Aid.
 In regard to the sub-heads themselves, the first sub-head G (4) deals with the improvement of poultry and egg production and arises out of an agreement made between ourselves and the British Ministry of Agriculture and Food, I believe, under which we undertook to promote the egg industry of this country vigorously in consideration of the British purchasing authority undertaking on their part to pay a reasonable price for the eggs. On foot of that agreement it is proposed to initiate a scheme which will provide for the establishment of 50 large-scale commercial hatcheries during the coming year. A variety of other measures will be taken with which I shall be able to deal more appropriately when the main Estimate comes before the House. I want the House to know, however, that what is being asked for to-day is only a preliminary to a much larger scheme and the money asked for to-day is merely for the purpose of training staff so that they may be prepared for the initial steps in a larger scheme which will ultimately cost about £1,250,000 and which we expect will yield very satisfactory results not only to the producers of eggs but to the State as a whole.
Sub-head H relates to the grants to county committees of agriculture. This is a provision made in connection with a scheme for the erection of poultry houses in Gaeltacht areas. It is being administered through the medium of the county committees of agriculture in Cavan, Clare, Cork, Donegal, Kerry, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo and Waterford and the purpose of the scheme is confined to bona fide occupiers of land in the Gaeltacht areas of these counties. I hope that this restricted scheme for the erection of poultry houses in certain Gaeltacht areas may yet be developed into a much more comprehensive plan in connection with a larger scheme for the increase of poultry and egg production throughout the country as a whole.
Sub-head I (4) deals with a rather exotic proposal. With some reluctance I ask the House to grant this money for the astonishing purpose of erecting glasshouses in Connemara. However with faith — I might almost say with  blind faith—I propose to allow the glasshouses that have been erected to be glazed but I am not concerned to press this scheme any further than it has already gone. I should add this, steps have been taken in connection with this scheme in Donegal and in parts of Connemara. I do not propose to recommend to the Dáil that the scheme should be further expanded but I can assure the Dáil that every measure that my Department can take to make the scheme successful, if it is conceivably possible to do so, will be taken. I am obliged to confess that I do not see any great prospect of success before it but I want to assure the House that that belief on my part will not prevent me or the officers of my Department from doing the very best they can to make it succeed — if it can be made to succeed.
I want to say a word now on sub-head M (11). It relates to the farm buildings scheme and provides money for the payment of grants towards the cost of construction, extension, improvement or repair of byres, stables, poultry-houses, piggeries, other houses for live stock, granaries, hay barns, houses for other agricultural produce and houses for agricultural machinery, etc. We do not anticipate that actual operations will begin under this scheme until 1948-1949, but it is necessary to undertake certain preliminary expenditure so that the scheme may be put into effective operation when the necessary preliminary steps have been taken. I have no hesitation in recommending this scheme very cordially to the House and to inform the House that, in so far as I can, it will be my intention to develop along those lines with a view to replacing a great many of the outbuildings on the agricultural holdings of this country. I think most Deputies will agree with me that one of the severest hindrances under which our people have had to work in the past is the inadequate housing for live stock which is a characteristic of so many otherwise comfortable holdings in this country.
Sub-head MM (5) relates to the temporary scheme of loans for the purchase of cattle and sheep. This scheme arises out of the unanticipated and  unprecedented losses which live-stock owners experienced during the bad weather last year. The closing date for the receipt of applications for loans was originally fixed for the 30th June last, but it was extended to the 31st October, 1947. It is estimated that the total amount required for the issue will be approximately 4,500 loans, averaging £70 each, which will be £315,000, or £13,300 in excess of the original provision. While these loans under this scheme bear no interest charge, they are repayable in instalments over a term of years. That scheme was initiated in order to ensure that individual farmers who had met unexpected losses would not suffer unduly and would be offered credit facilities which would enable those who had the capacity and the will to rehabilitate themselves on reasonable terms. It was also done as part of the settled policy of the Government of this country to foster and develop the live-stock industry at large. It was with that idea in mind that I said that a word in connection with this general Estimate might provide for Deputy Hilliard some of the information for which he was looking earlier to-day.
It is our purpose to develop and foster the live-stock industry and to encourage all industrious and enterprising farmers who engage in the industry in the belief that they will be protected from the unavoidable hazards of the industry in so far as it is possible for the Government to do so. We do that with the desire of developing a trade for our country which will be a source of profit to the nation and of benefit to the individuals who engage in it. But it is right to say at this stage in connection with this particular gesture on the part of the Government that the live-stock industry of this country can continue to enjoy the special consideration of the Government of the country only so long as it contributes to the welfare of the nation as a whole. I want to promote a policy which will result in sending meat to England now.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Minister is getting away from his Supplementary  Estimate. I should like to know under what heading of the Supplementary Estimate he is speaking of the export trade to Great Britain.
Mr. Dillon: I shall be very glad if the Deputy will put down the question again. Sub-head O (5) deals with the Agricultural Produce (Cereals) Act. In view of the bad harvest in 1946, it was decided to supplement home-grown stocks of seed wheat by the importation from Sweden of 600 tons (4,800 barrels) of “Progress” seed wheat. This is a new variety propagated in Sweden and regarded as superior to the “Atle” variety. The consignment consisted of 1,600 barrels of foundation stock and 3,200 barrels of a later generation of the same variety. The landed cost of  the foundation stock was 113/- per barrel and of the later generation seed 101/- per barrel, giving an average of approximately 106/- per barrel. To enable this seed wheat to be sold at the price fixed for home-grown pedigree seed an Order entitled the Seed Wheat (Importation from Sweden) (Maximum Prices) Order, 1947, was made on the 21st March, 1947, fixing the prices at which this seed wheat might be sold, carriage paid, on the following basis:— Price per barrel when sold in lots of not less than 48 barrels, 92/6; price per barrel when sold in lots of less than 48 barrels, 93/6; price per barrel when sold in lots of less than eight barrels, 96/-. A sum of £3,200 in respect of the estimated amount of this subsidy was provided in a Supplementary Estimate for the financial year 1946-47 which was presented to Dáil Eireann and agreed to on 28th February, 1947. Owing to shipping difficulties, however, the total quantity of the wheat did not arrive in this country until the end of April, 1947, and it was not possible to effect payment of the subsidy within the last financial year.
There is a sub-head here for £30 under the heading of Sundry Statutes and that relates to certain expenditure in connection with the transfer from the Department of Local Government to the Department of Agriculture of certain veterinary services connected with the examination and supervision of milk and dairies. No duties have been or will be, so far as I know, undertaken by my Department under this Order this year; but as from the 6th April I understand the functions of this division will be discharged by officers of my Department in lieu of officers of the Local Government Department and certain officers from the Local Government Department may be transferred to the Department of Agriculture in order effectively to carry out these functions.
I do not think there is anything else I need to say in regard to the Supplementary Estimate except that certain expenses arise under sub-head O (10) and certain Appropriations-in-Aid derive from the same source, that is the compulsory tillage business. It became  necessary last year to enter upon rather more areas of land than the Department found it necessary to enter in previous years so as to enforce the compulsory growing of wheat and that meant rather more expense on the one side and, of course, a larger appropriation on the other side, inasmuch as larger receipts for conacre or crops will have matured. I am happy in that connection to be able to say that, inasmuch as the compulsory growing of wheat will not be a feature of our agricultural policy after this year, I confidently depend on all farmers in the country this year to show an example of respect for the law by complaying accurately and carefully with the provisions of the law in regard to compulsory growing of wheat as they now stand. It is a matter to which I attach some importance because, though one can have sympathy with people who resented the obligations imposed upon them because of that regulation, there is no more vital principle in an ordered society than that the law is the law and that all men shall be equal before it. For that reason I thought it proper to give full and fair notice that, so far as I am concerned, the law is the law and all men in this country, whoever they are and whencever they come, are equal before that law and there will be no favour shown to one above the other who fails to comply with the law as enacted by this Oireachtas or who fails to continue to do so until such time as this Oireachtas, and nobody else, changes the law.
Mr. Aiken: The Minister for Agriculture has made a pronouncement. He has proposed in his gracious manner to complete the glass put up on the houses in the Gaeltacht under the scheme which the former Minister for Agriculture began some months ago. He has also declared to-day that this is going to be the end of this particular scheme. There are not going to be any more glasshouses erected in the Gaeltacht. There are a number of Deputies who supported the Government, and I should like to ask them is this dropping of the Gaeltacht glass-house scheme part of the bargain. The new Minister for Lands, Deputy  Blowick, when rejecting the coalition offered by the new Minister for Defence on April 7th last, wrote to the Press saying that they would have nothing to do with such a merger and that the only constitutional way to change the Government was for Parties to put up a sufficient number of candidates and get authority from the people to govern.
Mr. Dillon: If I am not allowed to refer to the cattle trade, surely it is questionable whether it is strictly in Order for Deputy Aiken to deal with recent political developments, as a result of which he is now in the wilderness?
Mr. Aiken: We will leave the wilderness alone. I would rather be in the wilderness than in the seat of Government at the price that the Minister and the rest of the people with him paid—a thousand times so.
Mr. Aiken: I will not pursue that line; I was merely following the argument of the Minister for Agriculture. The Minister for Lands said at one time that they would have nothing to do with the “frenzied juggling of the Opposition Parties behind the scenes in Dáil Éireann.”
Mr. Aiken: It is not relevant if it were merely alone, but I suggest it is just the introduction to this matter, in view of what the Minister for Agriculture said, that they will do away with the glass-house scheme. I should like to know if the cessation of the building of glasshouses in the Gaeltacht is part of the “frenzied juggling” between the members of the Government Parties. That is a fair question. The Minister for Industry and Commerce may laugh, but in his case the “frenzied juggling” succeeded. I do not envy him his victory.
Mr. Aiken: The smile will be on the other side of the Minister's face before very long. I should like to know, in view of the statement by the Minister for Agriculture, that he proposes to put an end to the development of the glass-house scheme in the Gaeltacht, do the parties who were going around the country prating about emigration, particularly from the Gaeltacht, agree with that policy? Did they agree before it was announced by the Minister? Was there agreement obtained on it during the “frenzied juggling” before the establishment of the new Government? That is a fair question.
We all know that one of the major problems that faces any Government responsible for the welfare of our people is how to promote a way of living for the people in the Gaeltacht that will enable the greatest number of them to remain and bring up their families in reasonable comfort in that part of the country that is the cradle of our language. Will the first act of this Government be to destroy opportunities for the development of a reasonable livelihood for a certain number of people in the Gaeltacht?
We all know that in the Gaeltacht the land is poor, that there are few industrial skills, that there are few industries. If we want to improve the lot of the people on small patches of land in the Gaeltacht, one way is to develop glass-house products. It has been proved that from an acre under glass 40 tons of produce can be obtained, whereas in the open, under the weather conditions that obtain in the greatest part of the Gaeltacht, only a few tons of produce can be secured. The former Minister for Agriculture started out to do his share to help the people in the Gaeltacht to get the greatest possible amount of produce from their soil by covering it with glass. The new Minister for Agriculture throws that policy aside.
What will he substitute for it? What bargain has been struck by the people who complain that the last Government  drove the people to England during the war? What have they to say about this particular proposition? Fianna Fáil, when it was responsible for making proposals to this House, never sought to deny or conceal that emigration was one of our greatest problems. We made proposals here for the development of agriculture, for the development of industry, in order to promote employment here, so that our people might remain at home. The new Government appear to be of a mind to reverse that policy. The Minister for Finance announced to-day the abolition of certain taxes that were imposed.
Mr. Dillon: On a point of order. The Chair ruled that any reference to the cattle trade, outside the limited matter mentioned in the sub-head, would be out of order. Under the direction of the Chair I immediately refrained from pursuing that matter. Deputy Aiken is now covering emigration, the Supplementary Estimate of the Minister for Finance, political conspiracy and a wide variety of matters, all under the Connemara glasshouse. Is that in order?
Mr. Aiken: I think you will find this question is perfectly in order. The Minister for Agriculture announced the cessation of the Gaeltacht glass-house scheme. The Minister for Finance said he was abolishing certain taxes and was going to make savings. Is this one of the savings? Is this the first saving that will be made? That is a reasonable question. If this is to be the first saving, then the people of the Gaeltacht will be the first victims. Was there agreement, during the “frenzied juggling” that took place before this  Government was established, that they were to be the first victims?
Mr. Aiken: I will pass on to the pronouncement of the Minister for Agriculture about wheat. He asked the farmers to fulfil the law accurately, the law regarding compulsory wheat growing. What exactly did he mean by that statement? Are they to till the ten acres and no more, if that is what is required under the compulsory wheat Order? Will he give no encouragement to farmers who are growing more wheat than they are compelled to grow by law? Will he give them even a word of encouragement to continue to grow this year the maximum amount of wheat that they can grow? Are they merely to grow the minimum amount of wheat when the whole world is short of wheat, when the world is in such a situation that a disastrous drought or a shower of hail at the wrong time in America would mean starvation for millions? In such circumstances, is the Minister for Agriculture saying to the farmers of this country who have been growing very much more than the minimum they were compelled to grow by law: “Grow the minimum, accurately comply with the law?” Is the Minister for Agriculture telling the farmers to grow no more than they are compelled to grow, or will he join with me in appealing to our farmers to grow all the wheat they can this year for human consumption?
We all know, or at least we should know, that the greatest problem facing the world to-day is the shortage of food, and we know that the food that will save the greatest number of people from starvation is wheat. We know that at the present time the export of wheat is controlled by the food organisation set up under the United Nations Organisation, and that our people here may get no wheat next year unless we put our best possible foot forward to grow our own requirements. In such a situation is the Minister for Agriculture telling our  farmers to grow the minimum which the law made by Fianna Fáil compels them to grow, or will he join with me in asking our farmers to grow the maximum amount of wheat that they can grow this year?
Mr. Bartley: I desire to support what Deputy Aiken has said on the question of glasshouses. It may be significant that these have been referred to as the Connemara glasshouses. Tomato-growing, by private enterprise, has been so widespread over a number of years in this country that I think it can almost be looked upon as indigenous now. Why the growing of tomatoes under the aegis of the Government of the day should be looked upon as an exotic industry passes my comprehension. I have no doubt that when Sir Walter Raleigh introduced potatoes into this country the growing of them also was described as an exotic industry. But, in any event, it took root and succeeded. I have no doubt in the world that this tomato scheme would also have thriven. Now it has been damned before it had been well begun by the Minister for Agriculture. I think it is also doomed. That, in my opinion, is unfortunate.
I hope it is not symptomatic that one of the first governmental pronouncements by the Minister for Agriculture should be an attack on something that was designed to help the Gaeltacht. There are other industries there as well. I hope that they are not to go the same way as this one. The people of the Connemara Gaeltacht will take note of this attempt to deprive them of something that promised to be of real benefit and of advantage to them—to the people in one of the poorest and most Irish-speaking districts in the whole of Ireland. These glasshouses have not yet been finished. They are well on the way to completion, but if the Minister is going to persist in the attitude that he has announced to-day, then I have no doubt how that will be interpreted by the officials of his Department. I wonder is it too late to appeal to him to change his attitude on this matter, to allow this industry to go on and to give it a fair chance, and to retract or withdraw what he has already said about it?
Mr. Cogan: I am deeply interested in what the Minister for Agriculture had to say on the subject of compulsory tillage with particular reference to the wheat quota. We all know that, in the matter of the wheat quota, there is not a flat rate for the whole of Ireland. There are some counties more favoured than others. They are what one may call the poorer counties. There is a wide divergence of opinion as to what counties should be favoured in this matter and what counties should not. Over the whole period that this compulsory tillage scheme has been in operation, grave inequalities and injustices have resulted under it. I have no doubt that the growing of any crop by compulsion does entail hardships on certain individuals.
If, for example, we had compulsory barley growing some farmers would feel aggrieved, and would urge that their land was not suitable for barley growing. In the same way there are farmers who are suffering grave injustices in this matter of compulsory wheat growing, farmers whose land is utterly and completely unsuitable for the growing of the crop, farmers with poor hilly land, farmers with light land and farmers with land in areas which are partially water-logged. In almost all such areas, farmers suffer grave hardships when they are compelled to grow the full 10 per cent. of their so-called arable land.
I raised this matter on a number of occasions with the Minister's predecessor. I succeeded in getting from him a promise, such as it was, that he would not press unduly any farmer whose land was unsuitable for the growing of wheat. I was not at all satisfied with that promise, because I do not think that the judicial function of deciding what farmer should grow the full quota and what farmer should not grow it, should be vested in the Minister. If it is vested in the Minister it means that, in actual fact, it is vested in a temporary junior official— the tillage supervisor, who visits the various farms. I have urged on many occasions that some sort of an appeal tribunal should be set up in each area to which farmers could have recourse,  a tribunal which would act in an independent and judicial capacity in this matter. In view of the Minister's statement that compulsory wheat growing is to be abandoned next year he may now tell me that it would hardly be desirable to set up such a tribunal for one year. I think that we ought to have an undertaking from him that he is not going back on the promise which his predecessor made, a promise which, no doubt, would be implemented in a great many cases. I know, of course, that you cannot have a revolution in the middle of the wheat-growing season. I submit, however, that the duty of the Minister is to honour the undertaking that was given by his predecessor, unsatisfactory as that undertaking may have been.
With regard to the importation of seed, I would like to be assured by the Minister that people who undertake the propagation of good strains of seed wheat and who are deeply interested in this matter will get an undertaking that over a long term—it must be remembered that all agricultural operations are long-term operations— there will be a fair and a just price paid for it, a price based on the farmer's actual cost of production. That is an undertaking which I think the Minister should give to the farmers who are growing their full quota and to the large number of farmers who—some for patriotic reasons and some because it is profitable—are growing more than their full quota.
There is provision for an additional sum to cover the losses in live stock which farmers sustained as a result of the abnormal weather conditions last year. My county suffered excessively and extensively in that respect. Some farmers lost as much as 80 or 90 per cent. of their total stock, and the point I want to make to the Minister is that there was a certain flaw in the original scheme, inasmuch as the period for the repayment of these loans was fixed too short. Loans for live stock ought, by their very nature, to be long-term loans. If the greater portion of a farmer's herd is wiped out and he purchases cows,  he cannot repay the loan with which he purchases these cows within four years unless he is to clear his land again of stock. The period for repayment, therefore, should be extended and should be at least doubled. We all appreciate that there is a certain element of generosity in this scheme, inasmuch as it exempts the borrower from liability for interest charges, but nevertheless the scheme will defeat its own purpose if farmers who avail of it are compelled to clear their lands again in order to repay the loan within a short period of four years.
I want to refer briefly to the farm buildings scheme. It was a rather strange coincidence that this scheme came to light in the middle of the election campaign, but it is nevertheless a welcome scheme. I am one of those who advocated the improvement and development of farm buildings, and the one thing I see wrong in this scheme is that the farmer who extends and improves his farm buildings will find himself, in the course of a few years, subject to a very much enlarged rateable valuation. The grants given under the scheme are moderate. I was speaking to a farmer who is extensively engaged in the dairying industry and he told me that the grant would amount to about one-tenth of the cost of building a proper cowhouse. If a farmer gets a grant of one-tenth of the cost of the building of a cowshed, and, in the course of a few years, finds his valuation increased by £2, £3, £4 or £5 per year, he will find that he is paying back the grant on the double almost every year in rates.
Since we all realise how desirable it is to enlarge, to extend and to improve farm buildings, we ought to give an undertaking that we will not have the old landlord system of increasing the direct charge upon a farm for every improvement carried out. If we cannot have derating of agricultural land, there ought to be a limit beyond which these farm buildings and houses will not be increased. The valuation of farm buildings ought to be stabilised, because otherwise every improvement the farmer carries out will mean an increase in his direct taxation, and I do  not think the farmer ought to be discouraged from enlarging his outbuildings. The outbuildings are altogether too small—a few miserable little sheds and hovels for live stock. Everybody knows that and knows that they require to be enormously extended.
I am also afraid that this grant scheme will, to a great extent, be defeated, so far as the farmers who need it most are concerned, by reason of their lack of capital, and some scheme must be provided, in addition to this scheme of grants, by which capital will be made available at a reasonable rate of interest. Otherwise, the scheme cannot be availed of by those who need it most urgently.
With regard to the Anglo-Irish expansion scheme for poultry, does the Minister know that in many parts of rural Ireland the whole poultry industry is being wiped out by the ravages of foxes? So far as we know, nothing effective has yet been done to meet that problem. I have known station holders under the committee of agriculture who are provided with systems by the Department of Agriculture for the propagation of the best possible breeds of poultry and the best egg-laying strains whose entire stocks are being wiped out—I know one case where the entire stock was wiped out— by the ravages of foxes. That is one problem to which the experts of the Minister's Department might direct some attention. There ought to be a nation-wide drive to exterminate this type of vermin.
Mr. Smith: I want to comment briefly on some few points made by the Minister, one of which is in connection with sub-head I (4). I can understand quite well a new Minister finding himself in conflict with the views of his predecessor on many matters, and I can understand the present Minister, or, indeed, any other Deputy, looking at some problem which confronted me and finding himself perhaps in violent disagreement with my judgment as to the manner in which a solution of that problem should be arrived at. I do not suppose the present occupant of the Ministry will take advice from me, but I will tender advice to him. This  scheme of glass in Connemara and Donegal was purely an experiment and I would remind the Minister that the word “experiment” is a very popular word these days. It is a very popular word around this House these days, and a very popular word with the Taoiseach. It is not a bad word at all, but if it is not a bad word in relation to matters in regard to which it has been used for the last week, it would not be a bad thing to apply it in this case as I have done. Even though the Minister finds himself in conflict with this scheme—which is and which was an experiment, but in the opinion of many a very desirable experiment—I do not think it is a right approach for him, while admitting to the House that everything will be done to make the scheme a success, at the same time to pour cold water upon it. That is not the way in which success will be attained.
I know quite well that it is going to be difficult. It is nothing new to hear from the Minister of the difficulties associated with it. However, not only in relation to this but in relation to other matters, the best approach would be—while not expecting the present Minister to be committed to these schemes or held responsible for their initiation—at least not to deal with them in such a manner, in this House or outside it, as may make it impossible for us to have any hope whatever of such desirable experiments being successful.
I know, too, of the Minister's anxiety and enthusiasm to relieve the country of compulsory wheat growing. In that respect also it is dangerous for us and dangerous for our people that we should show too much enthusiasm. There is no use in my trying here to convince the Minister as to the wisdom or the unwisdom of the line that he will pursue, but in times like this, when it is a vital matter for us and when there are farmers who are, as we must admit, anxious to find a way out, anxious to find a means of escape, any words that may fall from the lips of the Minister in his present position or any pronouncement made by him, even though very well qualified, will be availed of undoubtedly by those who in  the past have not been anxious to meet their obligations.
Deputy Cogan has referred to the circumstances under which the farm buildings scheme was introduced. He has been a member of this House for a number of years and was one of those who applied himself from time to time to imposing pressure upon the Department, and upon myself at the time as Minister, to have that scheme introduced. If he has a complaint to make now because of the speed shown, it is a strange sort of approach. I do not expect the Minister to be influenced by any words I may utter in this regard, but I genuinely believe that this approach to a commitment entered into by a predecessor—something like killing it with kindness—is not the right approach.
Micheál Ó Cinnéide: Tá aon cheist amháin agam a chur ós comhair an Aire. Ar chur sé stad le h-obair na gcigirí talmhaíochta nuair a tháinig sé isteach? The question I want to put to the Minister is as to whether he or his Department, since he took office, has issued a standstill Order to the tillage inspectorial staff all over the country; and if he or his Department have not issued that Order, is he aware that they have ceased work for the past week and are sitting in their offices all over the country?
Donnchadh Ó Briain: Chuireas suim fé leith sa scéim seo chun go mbainfeadh an Ghaeltacht feidhm as scéim na dtithe gloine agus is truagh liom a chlos nach bhfuil an tAire Talmhaíochta chun leanúint den scéim sin a thuille. Cheapas go mbéadh an scéim sin tairbheach dá lán teaglach sa nGaeltacht agus go gcabhródh sé leo anseo is annsiud ar fud na Gaeltachta chun slí bheatha mhaith a bhaint amach ná beadh acu murach an scéim sin. Is truagh go mbeidh deireadh léi, agus go bhfuil an tAire chun an scéim do chur ar neamhní.
Sílim go dtuigeann gach éinne nach féidir le daoine sa nGaeltacht tithe don tsórt san a thógáil gan cabhair éigin ón Stát nó ó dhuine éigin. Is olc an tosnú atá déanta aige má tá beartaithe  aige deireadh a chur leis an scéim sin. Ní fheadar a bhfuil na Teachtaí ón nGaeltacht ar na bínsí thall sásta leis an socrú sin? Ní fheadar a bhfuil Teachtaí áirithe, seana-Ghaelgóiri, ar nós Phádraig Uí Chionnáin, sásta leis an socrú atá déanta? Ba mhór an dochar é dá mbeadh. Is trúagh liomsa go bhfuil socrú mar sin déanta ag an Aire Talmhaíochta ach is eol dúinn, ón méid eolais agus aithne atá againn air, nach raibh súil lena mhalairt.
Mr. MacEntee: The Minister for Agriculture, in introducing this Supplementary Estimate, took advantage of the occasion to reveal to us his fundamental outlook in relation to a number of problems with which the country as a whole has been deeply concerned and in regard to which he is in a position to exercise an influence, beneficial or otherwise, according to his own judgment and his own principles. Two statements which he has made to-day will create a great deal of disquiet and concern among those of our people who have felt that perhaps not enough was being done to conserve the population of the Gaeltacht, to give the people who were born in that district, with all the associations which surround it, an opportunity of improving their lot in their own homes and of settling themselves upon a somewhat inhospitable soil. When the Fianna Fáil administration was in office it was very frequently impressed upon us by those who were critical of what we were doing that we were neglecting the Gaeltacht. There was, of course, no foundation for that. This Party has stood for the revival of the language and for its preservation and has never been neglectful of the economic interests of the Gaeltacht. We looked upon it as the fount from which the living stream of Irish would be fed and the source from which that living stream would one day become the universal medium for the expression of the nation's thoughts. We have tried many things which we thought would be helpful. We have tried many things which we thought would make it easier for the people of the Gaeltacht to make a living for themselves in the districts in which they were born.  It has never been an easy problem to tackle; we have had many failures but we have never been daunted by failures. When one scheme failed we tried another and the scheme which has been spoken of in such scathing and almost contemptuous terms by the Minister for Agriculture to-day is only one of these. It is one of the later things, a scheme to which a great deal of thought had been given; a scheme which was going to be a costly scheme; a scheme which we knew would meet with criticism from those who would say that we were increasing the burden on the more fortunate sections of our people; a scheme which would give a great deal of ammunition to those who were then in Opposition, but a scheme which, because it afforded some gleam of hope, we were determined to try despite all the disadvantages which the short-sighted criticism of it would bring to us as a Party. To-day I think that that scheme is facing a premature death. We are going to vote money but only apparently to enable the Minister for Agriculture to honour commitments already entered into. The question which really arises is whether we are going to be asked next year to vote more money in the knowledge that it is going to be usefully and honestly spent in trying to forward this scheme.
The present Government has come in and taken office upon the promise that they were going to carry through a programme of retrenchment. They must carry out that programme because they have already put themselves in the position that they will be unable to meet the commitments of the State as honest men should meet them by paying out of current income. They propose to do that from, I think, the 5th March. Whatever they are going to say, something must go and it must go next year, and this apparently is one of the schemes which are going to be retrenched. Before we allow the Vote to go through—for I do not think, having initiated this scheme, that the Party in these benches could vote against the Estimate—we are bound to make the criticism, while voting the money, that we do not think that the statement of the Minister for Agriculture is anything else but most disquieting to anyone who is anxious for the solution of the  problem of the Gaeltacht, or that it could cause such a person anything but the deepest concern. Surely it must cause the deepest concern to those of us who were in the Government which initiated this scheme. There are men in this House who profess to be concerned with the lot of the people and who were elected, who came into this House, on the votes of the people on the plea that we were not doing enough for the Gaeltacht. I fail to understand how Deputies, such as the members of the Clann na Poblachta Party, can afford to take lightly the pronouncement which the Minister for Agriculture made to-day.
Mr. MacEntee: If the Deputy will consult the latest census figures he will realise that it is not a question of the few men who would be immediately employed, but of whether this scheme which has been tried as an experiment is going to be continued with enthusiasm and zeal.
Mr. MacEntee: I do not think it is rubbish. There are other denselypopulated areas in Europe, areas which are almost as congested as the Gaeltacht, where a great number of people make a very substantial and a very comfortable living growing fruit and other produce under glass. It is done successfully in other countries and it is even done successfully round the City of Dublin, so what is to prevent —other circumstances being felicitous —its being a success in the Gaeltacht? Is it because the people talk Irish that the Minister thinks it is going to fail or is it because he has no real concern for the people of the Gaeltacht and does not mind what happens to them?
It is, as I have said, an experiment. We have been told that the only hope for the Gaeltacht is to try to found industries in the Gaeltacht. If we are going to preserve the Gaeltacht we have got to try to bring industries there; we have got to try many industries perhaps before we succeed. We have tried before with homespuns, textile industries, handicrafts and so on, though none have given the results which we anticipated when we started them, but it is our duty and it is the duty of the Government to try and try again until some solution is found. That is why I think that this must be a matter, as I said, of very deep and serious concern to those people who wish to see the Gaeltacht preserved. It is a matter of the first importance to those who are trying to revive our Irish language, who do not want to see the people of the Gaeltacht flooding the East of Ireland and the large cities and to those who want to see a healthy peasantry populating our soil.
For these reasons I would have thought that there would have been expressions of regret and indeed of dissatisfaction from other benches than ours at the manner in which the Minister for Agriculture treated this scheme, which was, I believe, well worth trying and which was a very hopeful experiment which might have yielded a great deal of success. It is not given to any of us to say whether it would have been a success or not, but in comparison with other experiments which the Government made, the cost of this scheme is comparatively little, and it would not have been too much to expect, I think, that at the outset of his office the Minister for Agriculture would have said to us: “If nothing better than this offers as far as the Gaedhealtacht is concerned let us press forward with it with all the zeal, energy and consideration we possibly can.”
There is another aspect of the Minister's  speech which, I think, will likewise cause a great deal of concern. We, who have listened to the present Minister for Agriculture when he was here on these benches from 1933 until the dissolution, know what the Minister's mind is in regard to wheat growing and tillage in this country.
We know it well. He has unfolded it to us frequently and always in the same terms. He has never concealed the fact that he regards wheat growing, and indeed beet growing, as “cod”— his own classic and succinct description of the policy which his predecessor was trying to carry through from 1932 to 1948. He has told us to-day that, even in this year, when the future food supply of the country is uncertain, he proposes, shall we say, to approach the question of compulsory wheat growing with a less fervent desire to ensure that those who are fortunate enough to own land in this country will do their share to provide food for the people. He has indicated, I think, that whatever may be the position in relation to the year 1948, so far as 1949 is concerned, the element of compulsion in relation to wheat growing is completely ruled out. I do not think I am unfair to him in putting it in these terms. It is very easy for the Minister for Agriculture to adopt that point of view. However, let us be quite clear that, in doing so, he is, in fact, gambling with the food of the people. He is anticipating that there will be no difficulty in securing wheat from abroad. I fervently hope that his expectations in that regard will not prove to be disappointing. I can assure him, as a member of the Government which preceded his Government, that very many things on which we banked for the year 1947 proved to be very grave disappointments. It may well be the case that, in relation to the supply of foreign food, the Minister for Agriculture may experience the same grave disappointments as his predecessors.
What will the Minister's policy mean, say, to the workers in the towns and cities? The rural population will be fairly well off. It is only natural that if a man grows food, in his view, the persons who have the best right to  consume that food will be himself and his family. Suppose that the hopes of the Minister for Agriculture prove to be as fleeting as those of his predecessors in office. What about the workers in the large towns and cities? If the Minister is going to go slow on the policy of wheat-growing one thing is certain—if we do not supply wheat to the utmost of our capacity in 1948 and 1949 we are going to have to pay enhanced prices in the world market for it, because we will have to bid against others.
We are told that the cost of living is going to come down. It may, or it may not come down—one does not know—but the price of world wheat will certainly tend to rise and harden if we bid for it against others. It would be much better, from the point of view of the urban population, if we had a Minister for Agriculture who would determine that, so far as he could possibly encompass it, our farmers during the critical years of 1948 and 1949 would produce the utmost amount of food they possibly could from their soil. I do not, in any way, want to decry the live-stock industry, but in these critical times we should devote all our energies towards making certain that the production of the food which is vital for our people will be safeguarded.
I hope that those who are supporting the Minister for Agriculture, who will I suppose vote for him to-day, particularly those who can influence the Party councils to which the Minister for Agriculture must be responsible just as he is responsible to this House, and those who took on themselves the obligation of turning out the Fianna Fáil Government and of putting in the present Fine Gael Government to carry through a Fine Gael policy in relation to agriculture and in relation to the Gaeltacht—as has been disclosed by the Minister for Agriculture—will also take upon themselves the obligation of ensuring that no Minister for Agriculture and no Minister for Industry and Commerce will be permitted to undo the work which the Fianna Fáil Government did for the people during its tenure of office from 1932 to 1948. That responsibility rests upon a very few men. There are men sitting on the  benches opposite without whose support Deputy Dillon, who described wheat and beet as “cod”, would not to-day be Minister for Agriculture. It is upon the shoulders of these Deputies that the responsibility will rest in the year 1948-49 for anything he may do to undo what Fianna Fáil has already done for the Irish people.
Mr. Traynor: The Minister for Agriculture spoke for something over 20 minutes when introducing an Estimate with which practically every member of the House is well acquainted. The Minister for Finance introduced no less than eight Estimates in something under 20 minutes. The verbosity of the Minister for Agriculture got the better of his discretion and, of course, he had to give us a discourse on this subject with which most of us are already well acquainted. He did, however, make two very important pronouncements in the course of his discussion both of which, I regret to have to say, are rather detrimental to sections of our people. One does not have to be an expert on agricultural matters to discuss the question of whether glass is a desirable addition to the livelihood of the people of the Gaeltacht or not. One does not even have to have a practical knowledge——
Mr. Traynor: ——of agriculture in order to know that a considerable amount of money is made by the citizens of Dublin who put certain portions of their back gardens under glass and who are, as a result, capable of producing a certain amount of wealth which is helpful to them in their ordinary way of life. The Minister for Agriculture—in a heated moment, perhaps —described the project as “rubbish.” I wonder if he had given the subject any examination before he made that exclamation. I rather imagine that this is one of the ways in which the people of the Gaeltacht can be provided with another way of life which will not only give them an industry but also give them a very welcome return—a return which will be helpful to themselves and to their families. I rather imagined that before the Minister for Agriculture  would describe this as “rubbish” he would give the scheme a fair chance and allow the experiment to continue for a period longer than one year. One year, remember, is only one season. If this scheme is to be given a fair trial it must be operated for a number of seasons. If it is allowed to continue and if, after a certain period of time, the Minister is found to have been correct, he will be justified and we will stand condemned. We feel that the people of the Gaeltacht, perhaps the most forgotten of our people, the people who have the least chance of deriving a livelihood from the land, should be given every possible means to enable them to live in decent comfort.
When the Minister described the project as mere “rubbish,” had he in mind any alternative? Had he in mind something that would replace these glasshouses, some easier means of livelihood? These people are endeavouring to wrench a living from the land, striving from the early hours of the morning until the late hours of the night, actually carrying soil from where they can get it to where they are trained to extract a living from the land. If the Minister has given serious consideration to the matter, all may be well, but still I would suggest that this experiment should be given a fair and reasonable chance.
In respect to the second pronouncement made by the Minister, which is perhaps the more serious of the two, namely, in respect of the growing of wheat, we know what the Minister's views are on the growing of wheat. We know them full well. Those of us who have taken sufficient interest in the affairs of this House to listen from time to time to the discussions know very well the Minister's views on the growing of wheat. We know that were it not for the policy which this Government carried out——
Mr. Dillon: On a point of order. I ventured to refer to the live-stock situation as at present and the Chair pointed out that in its opinion that was to go rather outside the precise terms of the Supplementary Estimate. Are  we to have a discussion on the tillage policy? Is that in order, Sir?
Mr. Traynor: The Minister was setting out to develop that and indeed he had got a long way towards developing it when the Ceann Comhairle had to call him to order. He called him to order, I think, on at least two occasions.
Mr. Traynor: From the point of view of the primary importance of wheat growing to this nation, it is desirable that Deputies would be given the fullest right to express themselves on that very important subject.
Mr. Traynor: I consider it is a very appropriate time when a Minister makes a statement that he is going to cancel that policy, that he is going to allow the farmers of this country to carry out that policy for this year but only perhaps because they have made a certain advance in the particular direction. I do not know whether or not he believes, like his predecessor of other days, that we can get all the necessary wheat in American ships. If that is what he has in mind, that is a very dangerous suggestion. I can see no alternative to the growing of wheat other than bringing in foreign wheat in foreign ships. That is about the size of the situation, as it appears to me. I think it will be found that during the period of the emergency a former Minister of the Fine Gael Government made a statement to the effect that all  the necessary wheat and certain other foodstuffs could be brought in here in American ships and almost on the day he was making the statement the President of the United States declared this nation and the waters of this nation to be within the war zone.
Mr. Traynor: I shall certainly obey your ruling but, in conclusion, I should like to warn the Deputies who perhaps will be supporting the Minister for Agriculture in the particular policy which he appears to be expounding at the present time of the seriousness of that policy and that any reversal of the policy of the former Government in respect to the growing of wheat will have effects which may be disastrous for the people. That is the only apology I have to make to you, Sir, for introducing the matters which I have introduced on this occasion.
Conchubhar Ó Liathain: Thug an Teachta Mac an tSaoi oráid uaidh agus ba mhaith liom freagra a thabhairt air. Ba mhaith liom a chur in iúl dó agus do na Teachtaí ar an taobh eile den Tigh ná beadh sinne ar na binnsí seo sásta cabhair a thabhairt d'aon Rialtas ná thiubhradh cothrom na Féinne don Ghaeltacht. B'é an chuis a spreag sinn chun deireadh a chur le réim Fianna Fáil ná go raibh éagóir á dhéanamh ar an nGaeltacht, fé mar a bhí éagóir á dhéanamh ar an gcuid eile den tír, toisc ná raibh i ndán do dhaoine óga sa Ghaeltacht ach an imirce agus an t-ocras.
Conchubhar Ó Liathain: A Leas-Chinn Comhairle, we on these benches yield to no one in our desire to see the Gaeltacht saved and to see the language saved. One of the reasons that impelled us to take the course that we did was that the policy pursued by the previous Government was one which held out no hope to the people of the Gaeltacht except that of the emigrant ship.
Conchubhar Ó Liathain: The crocodile tears of the Deputy for South-East Dublin, when he talks of the Gaeltacht and his desire to save the language, can only nauseate us, particularly when we consider that the organ of the then Government——
Conchubhar Ó Liathain: Very well, a Leas-Chinn Comhairle. The organ of the Party opposite referred some six or eight months ago to the fact that it was possible to hear more Irish outside a church gate in London than one would hear in the Gaeltacht. That, to my mind, was the most complete indictment of the policy of the previous Government that one could have.
Conchubhar Ó Liathain: We on these benches believe that the only permanent solution of the economic problems of the Gaeltacht can be found when we ourselves have an opportunity of putting a policy of afforestation into operation.
Mr. McQuillan: On the question of growing tomatoes in Connemara, I should like to say that the policy pursued by the previous Government in that respect can be compared only with  their policy of uprooting some years ago the railway line from Galway City to Clifden, which leaves Connemara absolutely isolated to-day.
Mr. McQuillan: May I not compare, in my own small way, the general policy pursued by the previous Government with their whole transport policy in Connemara? That is all I have to say on that point. I should like to bring to the notice of the Minister for Agriculture a suggestion which, perhaps, it may not be possible to put into operation immediately. I am referring to the over-all agricultural policy of compulsory tillage instituted by Fianna Fáil which, in fact, means that the small farmer on the hillsides of Donegal is expected to produce the same crops as the mixed farmer in Louth——
Mr. McQuillan: If the Minister would bear with me for a moment, I should like to offer some suggestions that, in my opinion, would help cattle, pig and  poultry production. I should like in the first place to suggest that, say, 4 cwt. of potato manure be given free to any farmer growing one acre of potatoes or alternatively one acre of mangolds or turnips. The present agricultural inspectors would be well employed in certifying that each applicant for this manure had carried out the required tillage according to plan. I should also like to suggest that free sulphate of copper be provided for spraying.
Mr. Little: As a representative of a constituency where there is a Gaeltacht, and in which tomato-growing has been eminently successful, I feel that I should just state that fact and point out that I do not consider that this is a new experiment. It is an experiment which has been already tried with very great success. Anybody who goes in for that particular type of intensive farming, and who happens to reside near a centre of population where there is likely to be a demand for tomatoes, is doing a very wise thing. I cannot for the life of me see how the Minister for Agriculture can be blind to the obvious common sense of such a proposal. I remember very well at the time when the project was put forward, and when we brought in tariffs to protect home-grown tomatoes and fruit, I heard people speak with enthusiasm of the value of tomatoes as a food and of their valuable vitamin content. I merely wish to state that I do not regard this as an experiment. It is something which should be regarded as an asset of very great benefit to the Irish-speaking districts.
Mr. P.J. Burke: I come from a constituency in which the tomato-growing  industry has been carried on very successfully. It is an industry which is paying the people really well, so much so that many others of my constituents contemplate entering on it. I cannot understand why the Minister for Agriculture should condemn this industry for the Gaeltacht areas. We have heard some references from members on the Government Benches as to the value to be derived from afforestation and various other matters of that kind but one thing to be remembered is that while you can grow tomatoes in a few months, it will take 20 years to grow trees. So far as the wheat industry is concerned, I also come from an agricultural district and I can say that numerous farmers have found that wheat production has paid them very well. Many farmers have been sufficiently patriotic to grow a good deal more wheat than they were required to grow. Are these people to be told now that their services are not needed any further? One would imagine, hearing the Minister for Agriculture speak of wheat production, that wheat-growing was inflicted as a punishment by the Fianna Fáil Government on the Irish people. That is really the only interpretation I can put on some of the remarks of the Minister for Agriculture. I wonder what would be the position of the Irish people to-day were it not for the wise and judicious policy pursued by Fianna Fáil in asking the farmers to grow enough wheat to ensure that our people would be able to live in comfort and not be reduced to the same conditions as many other people in Europe to-day. Of course, these pronouncements of the Minister are only in keeping with a number of other pronouncements that he has made from time to time when referring to our wheat policy, our beet policy, our industrial policy and other things. He has made light of all of them. The Minister comes along to-day and gives expression to certain opinions which I can only interpret in one way, that is, that he will try to put the bullock back on the land and put the people on the roads.
With reference to agricultural grants, I heard a somewhat singular remark made by one of the Deputies in relation  to grants for the improvement of agricultural outoffices and buildings, particularly buildings for the housing of live stock. That is a matter about which there has been much agitation in the past. At least ten months ago, the then Minister for Agriculture promised some measures in this respect. That was ten months before the election was thought of at all. When the time was opportune for the Minister to draw up a scheme, that was done. It was not an election stunt. It was a matter which had been under consideration for a considerable time. The then Minister had been well advised by his experts before he implemented the scheme. It is a scheme which I welcome and it is a scheme which I hope will be successful as far as the farmers are concerned.
One part of my constituency suffered considerably during the snowstorm last winter. Following on that snowstorm, the then Minister for Agriculture made loans available. These loans were not repayable until the end of four years. That was all we asked for at that time. I would ask the Minister for Agriculture now, having further considered the matter, to extend the time for the repayment of the loans until such time as the borrowers are in a position to meet them. Possibly the Minister will consider extending the time for repayment.
Mr. S. Collins: Members in this House in opposition have endeavoured to impress upon the House during the course of this debate the responsibility this inter-Party Government must take if the Minister for Agriculture is to pursue the policy outlined by him during the introduction of this Supplementary Estimate. I intervene in this debate because I have a deeprooted objection to hearing people grumble about the nipping in the bud of an experiment. This Estimate provides a sum of something over £30,000 to give that experiment a chance, and it seems to me to be at complete variance with fact to hear Deputies speak in a soulful way of a long deserted and practically neglected people in the Gaeltacht areas. Such expressions sound rather peculiar when one considers  that the Deputy so speaking was in office for a period of nearly 16 years. On the first occasion that the Minister for Agriculture takes a strong stand and makes a bold statement that he will not pursue an experiment beyond a certain stage, that statement brings forth an apprehension that might well be put in the same category as was an earlier statement of the Taoiseach's, namely, in the category of hypocrisy.
I have heard comment made as to the attitude of the Minister towards compulsory tillage. Sudden apprehensions seem to have arisen in the mind of Deputy MacEntee as to whether there will be sufficient food in the near future. I am content to play my part in supporting unequivocally and unhesitatingly the judgment of the Minister for Agriculture as opposed to the judgment of the ex-Minister for Local Government. There is apprehension now because compulsion may no longer be necessary next year. I do not think the House need be in any way apprehensive since compulsion will not go until such time as its usefulness has ceased. If one analyses the results obtained in the last season from compulsory tillage, one must feel sympathetic with the Minister for Agriculture because he must carry it on for another year. It rather amazes me that this particular Supplementary Estimate should become a subject for such extensive debate. Possibly it is an effort to play petty Party politics on a somewhat narrow basis.
Mr. Killilea: The last remark made by the last speaker has brought me to my feet. The suggestion of petty politics is a rather peculiar one and I think we ought to examine it. The Minister for Agriculture has been less than a week in office. He has not had sufficient time to examine the whole situation in relation to wheat importations. Before he has had time to find out whether he may be able to get even as much as one barrel of wheat in any country in the world, he makes a statement that it will not be necessary to sow wheat next year. The wheat for 1948 is still in the ground. It has not been reaped and we  have no idea as to what the return will be. Some years ago the Minister made a certain statement and now he makes an effort to justify that statement, not knowing what the results will be or what the returns will be.
Mr. Killilea: You may laugh. Have you any guarantee to-day that in 1949 you will get wheat from Australia? That is what I want to know and that is what the people want to know. The Labour Party may jeer and sneer at me. I know there is no Labour Party. They are all Fine Gael.
Mr. Killilea: That is what the people whom you are supposed to be representing now want to know. I also happen to be one of those Deputies who come from the Gaeltacht. It is not merely tomato growing or turf production or any one of a number of small things that they do in Connemara that keeps them going; it is the whole lot combined. Every effort must be made by the Minister for Agriculture and by every other Minister to see that any little industry that will be of benefit to the Gaeltacht is helped, even if the people of the country have to subscribe a little towards it. That was always, I think, the policy of Fine Gael before we came into office. It would be very interesting if Deputy Mongan had thought it worth his while to come into the House to listen to the statement of the Minister so that we may hear what he has to say about killing any type of small industry, no matter how small it may be. I do not hold that the tomato industry is a small one. I think if you look up the official returns of the imports of tomatoes you will find that the sum spent on imported tomatoes was enormous. An effort should be made to produce them at home and put everybody we can into employment in that and many  other industries. It is rather soon for the Minister to start jumping years ahead of himself. I think he ought to go easy. This world is somewhat unsettled at the present time. We definitely do not know whether we can get wheat next year and, if we have a bad harvest this year, we do not know where we may get it at the end of 1948.
Mr. Killilea: I appeal to the Minister not to make such barefaced pronouncements at the moment. Let him examine the position carefully first; otherwise he may fall on the way and, if he stumbles over, there may be an accident.
Mr. Lemass: I should like to add my observations to those made by Deputy Aiken concerning wheat. This matter of food for our people is important enough to be considered in an uncontroversial atmosphere, if possible. I do not know if the Minister for Agriculture has reason to think that we can get next year from abroad wheat in addition to that provided for under the International Wheat Agreement, which, I see from the papers, has now been concluded. In the course of the negotiations on that agreement, we intimated our willingness to take 400,000 tons of wheat, and I gather from Press reports that that quantity has been reduced to some extent, so that the total to be delivered will be less than 400,000 tons. I cannot say now what the likelihood is that wheat may be procured outside that agreement. I am assuming, however, that that will not be possible.
The Minister will by this know how lucky we were to get sufficient wheat to maintain the ration during this period. If all the plans which were made to procure wheat are fulfilled, the ration can be maintained, but only  on the basis of having the minimum of stocks at the end of the cereal year. If, therefore, we enter the next cereal year with the minimum of stocks and with only the prospect of 360,000 tons from abroad, we will need to grow here the maximum acreage of wheat, an acreage as large as any we achieved during the war years.
If we are to abolish rationing after the next harvest, we will need at least 600,000 acres of wheat this year, and that is assuming there is a good harvest not merely in this country but everywhere and that the exporting countries will be able to fulfil the obligations to supply whatever quantity of wheat is arranged under the International Wheat Agreement and that we will be able to supplement that quantity by a quantity not very much less. 600,000 acres of wheat will mean not more than 300,000 tons of dried wheat delivered to the mills, and it will take that quantity to enable the bread ration to be abolished and working stocks to be built up, because it will be impossible to abolish the bread ration unless there are adequate working stocks.
It is clear, therefore, that, if we are to get anything like an adequate acreage of wheat grown this year, we will have to go out as we went during the war to get the farmers to grow wheat as a patriotic duty. If the whole approach of the Government to this problem is merely to urge farmers to grow the minimum acreage prescribed by the regulations and to grow that because it is prescribed by the regulations, then the total acreage will be very much down and the total yield of wheat will be very much down. If the position is to be created so that after the next harvest we can look forward to the abolition of bread rationing, we have to get a much larger acreage grown on the only basis on which farmers will grow it, namely, that it is not only a profitable crop to undertake, but a patriotic duty to do it.
During the war years we got as a maximum, I think, 650,000 acres grown, with all Parties combining to appeal to farmers at public meetings throughout the country to grow wheat and to grow wheat in excess of the minimum acreage prescribed by the regulations. If, this year, the whole drive to get wheat  grown is to be brought down merely to the fulfilment of legal obligations as such and for no other reason than that there are legal obligations, it looks as if we are going to suffer bread rationing for a much longer period than would otherwise be necessary. Talking about the Australian wheat harvest is beside the point. The Australian wheat that we can get in this year is coming in now; it is in the bread now. There can be no further delivery until this time next year and the wheat which will come this time next year will come, presumably, under the limits of the International Agreement.
Mr. Lemass: The total quantity of wheat we will get from Australia is known. The only limiting factor operating at present is transport. The Minister knows well that even all the wheat that we have been able to procure in Australia cannot be delivered in time to go into the bread ration in the present international cereal year because of transport difficulties. Arrangements have been made which will ensure that wheat from other sources will be delivered. After that, we will have to depend on the stocks we have until 1st July, plus what we can get under the International Wheat Agreement. There will be some Australian wheat coming, and whatever quantity is allocated under the International Agreement.
If the Minister looks it up, I think he will find that there has been some suggestion that wheat received in this period in excess of the International Emergency Food Council's allocation will be counted against the allocation next year, if the International Emergency Food Council remains in existence next year. I am assuming that it will go out of existence and that we will only have to deal with the International Wheat Council to be set up under this new agreement and that these difficulties carried over from the past may not operate to diminish the quantity we can get next year. If that quantity is going to be less than 400,000 tons—and I think that is clear— we will have to get this year grown in this country a sufficient acreage of wheat to ensure the delivery to our mills of not less than 300,000 tons of dried wheat; that means more than 600,000 acres. You will not get that merely by asking the farmers to fulfil their minimum legal obligations. That is why I think the Minister should correct any impression that may have been created by his introductory speech and emphasise that the growing of wheat is as important to the food of the country this year as it was in any of the previous emergency years. If the Minister is not prepared to do that, I should like to ask the farmers again to co-operate in the task of feeding our country by growing this year as much wheat as they grew in previous years. If they do, then this Government can have the credit of abolishing the bread ration next August. If they do not, we will have to face continued bread rationing, unless the Minister can say now that there is some prospect of opening up sources of supply from abroad other than those available to us under the International Agreement.
Mr. Corry: I had not any intention of interfering in this debate, because my viewpoint in these things is that the country gets the Government it deserves and the bunch of farmers who have Deputy James Dillon as Minister for Agriculture can answer to the farming community some day. We who have been listening to the Minister for Agriculture for many a year and who understand his policy about wheat growing know very well what to expect and have no doubt whatever as to what stop can be put on the rake's progress. The people of the country will suffer for all this. Since 1932 we have been endeavouring to put up an insurance policy that would serve our country, so that the people would have bread in their hour of need. It was due to our efforts in that respect that this country was able to survive during the years of the emergency. We had sufficient bread for our needs.
All that will now be changed. Apparently the international situation is such a happy one that we can now afford to throw away all our insurance  and go back again to the happy-go-lucky days of Fine Gael, when there was only a three weeks' supply of wheat grown in the country. If I am to judge by the press which has been supporting Fine Gael, every preparation is being made for that. The Cork Examiner last Friday had a leading article——
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy must speak to the Estimate. What is in the Cork Examiner or any other daily paper is not relevant. The Deputy must keep to the items in the Estimate and nothing else.
Mr. Corry: We were told, at any rate, that the country should now consider existing on oats and potatoes, and that these things were good food. Doubtless they were preparing us for the policy that we shall have to expect from the new Minister. I have no intention of interfering in any way with the rake's progress. Let him carry on. If anything happens later, if those supplies of wheat, of which we were told in 1940 we would get plenty, brought over in British bottoms from America to feed the Irish people during the emergency, are again to be the policy, then I am sure there will be many people blessing the organisation of the combination that gives us Deputy Dillon as Minister for Agriculture.
I should like to express my appreciation of the manner in which he is starting. He seeks to kill the small industries, particularly tomato growing. In my constituency that industry is giving employment to over 100 persons. I would like the Minister to come down some day and have a look. It will be an education for him. We have heard a lot of talk about people who leave this country to get a living in other lands. Apparently we now have to start on the back track and we will drive this country into the position in which it was in 1932. We then had our flour coming in from Britain, while our flour mills were derelict or idle. If we are to get back to that situation, then the country has got the Government it looked for and I will not put any stop on the rake's progress.
Cormac Ua Breisleáin: Níl mórán agamsa le rá ar an Meastachán Breise  seo. Bhí mé ag éisteacht leis an Aire Talmhaíochta ag trácht annseo indiu ar na tighthe gloine atáthar ag tógáil i nGaeltacht Thír Chonaill agus Gaeltacht na Gaillimhe ins an am i láthair. Bhí íontas mór orm agus buairt mhór orm a chloisint nach bhfuil seisean i leith an scéim thábhachtach seo a chur Rialtas Fhianna Fáil ar bun le na mallaibh, agus nach bhfuil sé chun an scéim a mhéadú ar fud na Gaeltachta go léir.
Tá a fhios ag achan duine i nGaeltacht Thír Chonaill indiu gur seo scéim a cuideóchas go mór le beatha na ndaoine a dhéanamh níos feárr annsin, scéim a thabharfas gléas beo dóbhtha agus scéim a cionnóchas na céadta ag obair sa bhaile in áit iad a bheith ag dul anonn go Sasana agus go h-Alban, mar atá siad ag dul le na céadtaibh blian. Má táimíd ionnraic faoi cheist na Gaeltachta, má táimíd faoi shon gléas beo a thabhairt do na daoine a chionnuigh teanga agus cultúr ár dtíre beo, tá mise den bharúil gur ceart do Rialtas Gaelach ar bith achan cuidiú a thabhairt do scéim den tsórt seo. Tá íontas orm go bhfuil an tAire in éadan na scéime seo. Más é seo polasaí an Rialtais mar gheall ar an Gaeltacht do shabháil agus do mhéadú, sílim nach bhfuil an Gaeltacht ag gabháil móráin seans faoin Rialtas úr seo.
Mr. Keane: I listened with very much interest to Deputy Corry criticising. ex tempore if you like, the agricultural policy of the present Government. I listened to Deputy Corry some months ago at the Cork County Committee of Agriculture. He stated there that if freedom of trade was allowed this country would be far better off. He made the statement to a colleague of his and of myself that he had negotiated a certain transaction with regard to wheat.
Mr. Keane: The one grievance that Deputy Corry had was the embargo put on free trade in this country — the restriction on free imports of seeds and everything appertaining to our agricultural industry. I heard him to-night speaking in another voice. I dare say he is as much entitled to his opinions as I am to mine. If I am to voice my opinion it is that the sooner imports and exports and every other “port” are done away with the sooner will this country benefit. I hope that the Minister for Agriculture, one of these days, will try to do away with the practice of getting into this country seed and everything else pertaining to the agricultural community. If he does, then I am sure the agricultural community, in which I and my friend Deputy Corry are so much interested, will benefit.
Major de Valera: My purpose in rising is to ask the Minister for Agriculture a couple of questions. Before doing so, I should like to refer to the rather novel thing which the last speaker did when he quoted from what I understood to be a private conversation.
Major de Valera: If quotations in the House are going to be made in that way, there can be no end where they can stop. As this is the first occasion that I have seen such a practice resorted to, I simply draw the Chair's attention to it and hope that it will not happen again. I merely want to ask the Minister a few questions in futuro. It is obvious from the statement which  he has made that he contemplates a radical change in agricultural policy in the near future: that, while he is content to allow the present arrangements stand for this year, he contemplates a radical change. I should like, therefore, to give him informal notice at this stage that it would be very helpful for Deputies taking part in the debate on the main Estimates for his Department if he could give us in detail such figures as the estimated total requirements——
Major de Valera: Very well; I am asking if the Minister will give now our total estimated requirements of wheat for the year next ensuing after the present year during which he intends to let the present arrangements run — our total estimated requirements of wheat for the first year during which he means to introduce his change in policy.
Major de Valera: It is, but the Minister himself introduced that point with regard to future policy in his opening remarks. It would be well to know where we stand with regard to our total future wheat requirements, with an estimate of what we can get in and whether there is likely to be a deficit or not. Otherwise, we cannot talk very intelligently on the main Estimate when it comes up.
Mr. Dillon: As I listened to the debate this afternoon I thought of a lesson that I learned very early after taking charge of our place at home, namely, that one of the great perils of raising live stock was that, if you let out a calf too young without putting a rope on his neck, he would run himself to death when he smelled the fresh air. After 15 years of gloomy silence from the Fianna Fáil Benches, I could not  but think of that calf when I listened to them to-day. However, I suppose they are entitled to their day out.
I refer first to the observations of Deputy Lemass, because his long tenure of the Office of Minister for Industry and Commerce and of Minister for Supplies attaches weight to the words that he may speak with regard to the supply situation. He spoke lightly of abandoning bread and flour rationing. Does Deputy Lemass seriously suggest that the rationing of flour can be abandoned so long as flour carries in it a large element of subsidy, or does he think it right that flour should be used generally as an animal feeding stuff? The Deputy will probably remember that, during the 1914-18 war, the British Government allowed the price of feeding stuffs to rise above the price of flour and were then forced, for the protection of their own vital food supplies, artificially to raise the price of flour above the price of feeding stuffs.
I do not want to anticipate the debate on the main Estimate for the Department of Agriculture in dealing with a Supplementary Estimate, drawn up by my predecessor in office and introduced by me, I thought, in language of studied courtesy and moderation. Perhaps so moderate were the terms I chose that I intoxicated my friends on the other side of the House. Hence their radiant and even rollicking good spirits. Deputy Vivion de Valera has inquired what the annual consumption of flour is in this country. My recollection from the last time I looked into the matter is that it was estimated to be, on a 70 per cent. extraction, which was the old rule before the war, approximately a sack per head of the population per annum, which we used to reckon at 3,200,000 sacks per annum. That is the figure which, I believe, Deputy Lemass and Deputy Smith had in mind when, in consultation, they instructed our representatives at the Washington Conference to apply for 400,000 tons of wheat, which represents approximately 3,200,000 sacks of flour at 100 per cent. extraction, but about 20 per cent. less on an 80 per cent. extraction.
Do Deputies notice a very significant  fact? When the hunt was started about glasshouses in Connemara, it was not started by Deputy Smith. Deputy Aiken started it. Most Deputies, when Deputy Aiken got up to talk, had their eyes on Deputy Aiken, but I had my eyes on Deputy Smith, and the longer Deputy Aiken talked, the redder Deputy Smith's face became. Did Deputies notice the studied moderation of Deputy Smith when he was commenting on what I said about the glasshouses in Connemara? We all know Deputy Smith. He is no cooing dove, if he is really in good fettle. I would have dared to describe his attitude to-day as beating a strategic retreat. Deputy Ryan fled the House altogether—that is what I call a precipitate retreat.
What did I say? I agree with Deputy Smith that it would be an unmannerly and ill-conditioned thing for the new Minister for Agriculture to walk into the House, to make little of every scheme he had inherited from his predecessor in office and generally behave like a bull in a china shop when he went into his Department. I have tried to make it clear that I do not believe in revolutions in agriculture in any circumstances. What I said to the House to-day was that I could not recommend this scheme to the House because I did not believe in it, but that I did, with some reluctance, ask the House to provide the money so that the scheme being partly advanced under the aegis of my predecessor, would be allowed to proceed in its entirety, so far as Donegal is concerned and partially, so far as Connemara is concerned, with the absolute guarantee that anything I could do to make a success of it I would do, but that I could not, in conscience, come before the Dáil and say I recommend it to the Dáil as something which I myself believed would be a success.
The House will have heard with some surprise, I hope, the long tirade about how we were trying to starve out the people of the Gaeltacht, with poor Deputy MacEntee becoming so lyrical that I thought he was going to write a poem on his feet, about the stream of Irish becoming the river of life. It was most moving, but of course all the  utmost nonsense. Incidentally, Deputy MacEntee seems to labour under the misapprehension that I referred to this scheme as rubbish. I did not. I referred to his observations as rubbish and there is a considerable distinction. I described the scheme as exotic, which I think it is, and I adhere to my view that a scheme to adorn Connemara with glasshouses could only have matured in the brains of a most exceptional man. I repeat my undertaking to the House that the public money spent on this enterprise we will do all in our power to salvage and to make to serve the purpose for which it is intended. If the scheme can be made successful, depend on it, it will be done, but, if it cannot, my duty is to spare the Exchequer any foolish or worthless additional expenditure on a scheme which is going to fail, and, over and above my duty to the Exchequer, I have a duty to the people in Connemara to see that they are not drawn into an enterprise in which individuals might lose substantial sums of their own money. Bearing all that in mind, I repeat that I will do what I can to make it succeed, but I will not put the Exchequer or individuals in Connemara in greater jeopardy than I ought to do.
The other hare that was hunted all over the House to-day was wheat. Remember that the Fianna Fáil Party have always, and I must say for a long time successfully, depended on the shortness of public memory. Horror was expressed to-day that the abolition of compulsory wheat growing could be contemplated. Providentially, print does not fade as quickly as the promises of Fianna Fáil. I have here the White Paper published by the Government in June, 1946. Deputy Ryan was Minister for Agriculture then. Paragraph 31 of that White Paper says:
That is the declared policy of the Fianna Fáil Party. A most careful repetition in the most honeyed accents by myself of this extract from their  own policy throws them into convulsions of excitement to-day—I am going to starve the whole nation into misery.
Mr. Dillon: I have not got as low an opinion of Deputy Aiken's colleagues as he appears to have of them. I give to Deputy Lemass and Deputy Smith credit for the exertions they have undertaken to secure supplies of wheat for this country. So far as I am aware, supplies of wheat for this country from abroad are now available which will carry us to 15th of next September. I look to the Minister for Industry and Commerce with the utmost confidence to carry on the work which Deputy Lemass initiated and to approach closer and closer to the stipulated requirements of the country as recorded by Deputy Lemass— 400,000 tons of wheat to be imported from abroad.
Mr. Dillon: I will take no gamble, no gamble whatever. The Deputy will remember that no individual Minister in this or any other Government will be permitted by the Government to which he belongs to gamble about anything, that the safety of the people is the joint responsibility of the Government to which I belong and the Deputy can rest quite assured that we will not let him starve any more than we will let the Leader of the Opposition break stones in the course of the next five years.
An Ceann Comhairle: I should like to remind Deputies who get tickets for the admission of their friends to the  Gallery that they might inform these friends that this is not a place of amusement and that any participation, by approval or disapproval, in the business of this House by people so admitted will lead to the closing of the Gallery.
Mr. Dillon: I should like also to remind Deputies that these Connemara glasshouses are all designed to be cold houses. In the original scheme it was proposed to make artificial heat available which would have enabled those growing tomatoes to get on the market early in the year when we might have expected fancy prices. Supply difficulties have resulted in our having to substitute cold houses that is, houses without heat of any kind out of which we could not hope to get the tomatoes before August when the price is at its very lowest and that would be an extremely discouraging experience for people who had spent time, trouble and exertion in trying to make this plan work.
Mr. Dillon: It is very hard to say what employment would be provided as the houses are being annexed to the homes of the people and the occupant of the house would be employed and, possibly, some of his children. That would involve the withdrawal of those persons from the register of unemployed persons.
Mr. Dillon: Indeed, it would not. I have given the House all the particulars which I believe are relevant and I merely added that additional point because it is right that the House and the people themselves should know what the true circumstances are.
 Deputy Cogan asked some questions in one of which he referred to the imposition of increased valuations on farmers who improve their out-buildings. As the Deputy knows, that is a subject on which I have a great deal of sympathy with him. I think it is a powerful deterrent to farmers in rural Ireland to improve their out-buildings because they apprehend the arrival of the rate collector to increase their valuations as soon as they have made the improvement. However, we should remind those who contemplate repairs of this kind that on new buildings there is a protracted period in which they get exemption from rates. I am afraid that some farmers are labouring under the delusion that if they put up a new byre or barn they are liable to have the valuation increased the next time the rate collector calls. That is not true. They will get a period during which the new buildings are rate free.
Mr. Dillon: Deputy Cogan also spoke of the difficulties which beset those trying to help in the development of the poultry and egg industry by the prevalence of foxes. I understand that the county committees of agriculture in most of the counties are operating schemes for the destruction of foxes and I rather imagine that it would be better for the local authority in each area to deal with that problem in its own area rather than throw on the shoulders of the people in Merrion Street the business of killing foxes in West Cork.
Deputy McQuillan raised the question as to whether it would be possible to increase food supplies by getting potato manure free as a subsidy to those who would grow an acre of potatoes, turnips and mangolds. I take it that what he had in mind is an extra acre. One of the difficulties is to find out the man who ordinarily tilled five acres of his land and to whom I take it Deputy McQuillan would give this assistance if he undertook to sow six acres and used the extra for animal feeding stuffs. Is that what the Deputy had in mind?
Mr. McQuillan: No. I had in mind that a farmer should put an acre or more of his land under potatoes, turnips or mangolds and for that acre he could get four hundredweight of potato manure and the inspectors now employed otherwise could be employed to see that the acre was used for that purpose and that the job was carried out properly; and I would do that up to a valuation of £35 or £40.
Mr. Dillon: As the Deputy is aware, under the wheat voucher scheme very large quantities of manure will become available to small farmers all over the country in exchange for the vouchers they now hold. Unfortunately, I do not think we can hope in this year to have unlimited supplies of artificial manure though I hope the artificial manure situation will be very much better than it has been. In a period when it will put us to the pin of our collar to spread out the available supply generally I do not think we could contemplate a plan which superficially appears to have considerable merit as adumbrated by Deputy McQuillan, which would put a very substantial additional strain on the exiguous supplies of artificial manures.
Deputy Burke, of County Dublin, advanced the astonishing thesis that any horticultural practice suitable for North County Dublin ought to thrive and flourish in Connemara. I must say that when Deputy Burke was speaking from the salubrious region of Swords and Deputy Traynor was speaking from Ballybough on the conditions in Connemara, I found an echoing voice, born of the fact that they are much more familiar with the centre of Dublin than with the fountain-head of the Irish language in the Gaeltacht.
I do not think I have overlooked any of the observations anyone had to make in the course of this discussion but I do urge on the Fianna Fáil Party, now that they have enjoyed their preliminary canter and shown their paces, and now that some sort of order has been introduced into the chaos, and now that they have found that they were speaking about things which they knew absolutely nothing about, they might stay quiet on future  occasions with a view to saving time and temper.
Mr. Aiken: A Chinn Comhairle, I would like to ask the Minister one question. In his opening remarks, he asked the farmers to comply with the minimum requirements. Would he join with me and with Deputy Lemass in appealing to the farmers of this country, in view of the uncertain situation, to grow all the wheat they can?
Mr. Aiken: I asked the Minister in view of his opening remarks in which he appealed to the farmers to fulfil the minimum requirements of compulsory wheat growing, would he, in view of the uncertain situation of the world's supply of wheat this harvest year, join with me in appealing to our farmers to grow all the wheat they can for the harvest this year.
Mr. Dillon: I made it perfectly clear in dealing with this suggestion that everybody in this State, including the Minister's supporters, must obey the laws of the country and I have nothing to add to that.
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