Wednesday, 8 April 1964
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. Tully: Last night this section was being explained by the Minister for Lands and I repeated what I understood to be his explanation. As he did not contradict it, I assumed my interpretation was correct. The main reason the section has been put into the Bill is to discourage people outside the congested districts from looking for land. The Minister did say, and I feel sure he recalls it, that it would mean there would be more land available for people in the congested districts if other people did not take it up. He repeated the story we hear so often, that he has had deputations from people outside the congested districts.
I assume he is talking about the midlands and the east coast where there are people who would be prepared  to pay the full annuity if the Minister were prepared to buy land and give it to them. I assume they would be people who in normal circumstances would not be entitled to such portions of land. I wish to make it very clear that as far as the Labour Party are concerned, and as far as my constituents in Meath are concerned, we are perfectly satisfied the Minister is here attempting to do a very unjust act in suggesting that in the future division of land, those living beside an estate outside the congested districts will have to pay the full annuity while those brought from the congested districts will have to pay only half the annuity.
Would the Minister consider a situation where two farmers are set up side by side on the 45-acre farms the Minister speaks about? One of them comes from the congested districts and pays half the annuity, but the man who has been living there all his life, working hard at farming, attempting to make a living for himself and his family, will have to pay the full annuity. Will the Minister explain where is the justice in that?
I am well aware that in this House there are Deputies from all Parties and I should be very glad if they had the courage to stand up and express their views on the section. I can assure the Minister that if he allows a free vote of the House on the section—it is certainly going to a vote—he will find he will not carry it even with the support of his Party. The carrot he dangled last night—the authority to declare any area a congested district if it suits the Minister for Lands for the time being —will not wash, because we are all well aware that the Minister has, even when speaking on this Bill here, stated that he will deal with the existing congested districts as laid down in Schedule II of the Bill. That being so, it is not good enough that the Minister should attempt to put through a section like this.
He also said on at least three occasions last night that a subsidy of £1 million per year was being paid for the purpose of continuing this halving of the annuities and he spoke of the big saving that would be necessary in order  to bring the thing out level. If the Minister is convinced this is necessary, would he not apply it generally? Why did he pick out one section of the community and leave another section in what must be considered a privileged position? Is it not true that if there is a question of taxpayers' money being paid, the people who are lucky enough to be born in Meath or Westmeath or in one of the midland counties are as much entitled to a portion of that money as people coming from congested districts? I think this is an attempted confidence trick and I do not think it will work. I am satisfied that if the Minister leaves this to a free vote he will be beaten on the section. I am not sure even if he puts the Whip on, he will be able to carry it because we all know the effect it will have on people seeking divided land.
The Constitution lays down that there shall be equal rights and opportunities for all. I have been declaring for quite some time here that even as it stands, so far as land division is concerned, there are not equal rights. Because of the regulations of the Land Commission, preference is given to people from a certain part of the country when land is divided. We are now going further. Not alone are we going to give them preference, if the section is carried, but we are going to add a little extra and people who live in areas outside the congested areas where a farm is being divided must pay the full annuity.
Before the discussion goes any further, I ask the Minister to have another look at this section because I am sure that the people who support the Government have already made the point that this section is most unfair and unjust.
Mr. P.J. Burke: I am referring to section 4 on this particular point that the Minister has power to declare an area a congested area. I just refer to that generally. Section 4 is a protection and if it was not there I should be up in arms because we have so many congested areas in County Dublin. That is true. We have Rush and other areas that are definitely congested with people living on one or two acres of land and eking out an existence on conacre. Coming to section 7, the Minister provides that people will get land if they pay the full annuity. There are a number of conacre farmers in County Dublin who welcome this provision because they are in the position that they are declared as landless men notwithstanding that they and their fathers and grandfathers have made a living on conacre land. The people whom I and other County Dublin Deputies represent will be glad to avail of the provisions of section 7. I think the Minister has covered the situation very well in section 4.
This is a huge national problem and if the Minister were as good as Saint Peter he still has a problem in regard to the land because we have so many uneconomic holdings, so many conacre farmers who have no claim at all. We are in the awkward position that these people would be delighted with any opportunity of purchasing land instead of being in their present position of paying£20 or £25 an acre for conacre and then trying to make a living while having to buy machinery and manure, etc. This is one of the problems of my constituency. Deputy Tully made a very good case from his point of view but I believe no matter what Minister is here there is no more contentious Bill that could be brought into the House. No Bill will please everybody. There is an attempt here to be rational and meet the views of different areas. We have so many congested areas that we would need another Ireland and another 12 million acres of arable land to give them all viable holdings. That is the big problem the Minister must face in trying to introduce a measure that will go some of the way to ease the present difficulty.
 I do not know if it will happen in our day that the people will be able to live on their holdings. Even with the best will in the world, even if we had a national Government and could steamroll measures through the House it would take a long time to do things like this. The old rundale system and other things that have existed for generations aggravate the problem the Minister has to face and in my opinion he is making an honest effort to meet it. He knows the position and, as a Deputy, he comes to the House from an area where the problem exists. I come from an area where it is also a problem. I hate to see a farm divided unless the smallholders in the area, and especially the conacre farmers, get a reasonable chance of acquiring some of this land or it is allotted to them.
Mr. Tully: I thank Deputy Burke for his compliment. I think he did not get the point of this section. Section 4 does gives the Minister the authority, if he so desires, to declare an area a congested area but he has made it clear that he will deal with the congested areas that are already there. If he begins by declaring County Dublin a congested area, I think there will be a row. Deputy Burke has said that in some peculiar way section 7 gives some kind of right other than they have at present to people who are now considered as landless men to be considered for land.
Mr. Tully: Deputy Burke said he welcomed the fact that conacre farmers in Dublin would be glad of this section because they were now considered as landless men. The Deputy is as well aware as I am that landless men even in congested districts have no more right than if they are in non-congested districts. So that argument does not work. Secondly, section 7 provides that in future, certain classes of persons who will receive allotments of land on an annuity basis in non-congested areas will not benefit from  the halving of annuities conceded under the Land Act, 1933. That is clear enough. The explanatory memorandum also says:
The classes affected are: (i) farmers with existing holdings who may receive enlargements in non-congested areas and (ii) cottiers and other persons who may get allotments in non-congested areas, where surplus land is available.
That is also clear enough. What it says is that if either of these two classes are fortunate enough to get a portion of land, after the passing of this Bill, if this section is written in, they will have to pay the full annuity for it. The Minister said last night that this might have an effect on people not requiring to take up land, but that there would be more for congests as a result——
Mr. P. Hogan: (South Tipperary): I find it hard to understand Deputy Burke's logic, if there is any logic in his method of thinking. His constituency is getting nothing whatsoever, no more than my constituency. This is a western Bill, in which the halving of the annuities is being retained for western congests, and congests in other parts of the country will pay the full annuity, if they are lucky enough to get land. I take the simple view that no matter where the congest is, whether in Roscommon, Mayo, or Wicklow, he is a congest, and if one congest is asked to pay only half, the other congest should be asked to pay only half. If one pays the full amount, the other should pay the full amount. Surely it must be fairly equal from the point of view of capacity to pay? They are all, if you like, relatively poor farmers. They are uneconomic holders. They are all Irishmen. I see no reason why the Minister should try to draw another border across the country.
Mr. Moran: The position under this section is being completely misrepresented. For instance, it was said last night, by Deputy Tully, I think, that if some foreigner, or some large farmer, bought land in a non-congested area, he would benefit by the halving of the annuities, whereas a local congest who got a portion of that land would not. Nothing is further from the truth.
I pointed out already that under the 1933 Act the annuities on all land, practically speaking, were halved. That has cost the Irish taxpayers some £75 million to date. The vast majority of land that will be coming into the Land Commission machinery will be land in respect of which the annuity has already been halved. If the Land Commission buy that land in non-congested areas for division, the cost of that land, plus the annuity, is all the tenants among whom it is divided up will be asked to pay. As in any  other purchase, the purchaser pays the capital sum, the purchase price of the land, subject to the annuity. The tenants in the non-congested areas who get a division of land will be paying exactly what they would be paying for it, had they been in the happy position of buying the land themselves, and solving their own congestion.
To use an expression I used last night dealing with this section, in such cases the Land Commission would act as land bankers for the purpose of advancing money to purchase land that came on the market, where they consider it fit, in the non-congested counties. I repeat what I said last night. I had several deputations from the non-congested counties who informed me that they would be quite happy to pay the full economic price for any such lands that would be acquired for division amongst them. Indeed, one case that comes to my mind now is that just a few years ago we had a number of people on deputations dealing with the Oak Park estate in Carlow. The people concerned told me they were paying £25 and £30 an acre for conacre, and that whatever the full costs of those lands would be, they would be quite happy if the Land Commission took over the lands and had them divided, and financed the operation so that the State would be at no loss.
Let me come back to the rather peculiar argument which has been advanced, by Deputy Tully and others, that there is something utterly wrong in picking out some portions of the country for special consideration or special treatment. It was not I who started this. Away back in 1909 these congested areas were written into an Act, and these counties were written in for special treatment. I think it was in an 1891 Act that the Congested Districts Board was established. The Congested Districts Board was established for the sole purpose of dealing with these congested areas and counties, and all the thousands and millions of pounds that have been spent since were spent in those areas because of the special social and other problems we had in those areas because of our history. In the same way, for different  reasons, there are other areas, including the Gaeltacht areas, where special consideration is given because of their location and economic circumstances. So, long before this State was established, these congested areas got different treatment, and special treatment, because of their existing conditions, from the rest of the country.
It seems to be suggested that there is something extraordinary about taking migrants up from one of the congested areas and giving them special treatment by way of halving the annuity. In many cases, as I have said on other sections, it is not at all easy to get migrants to leave their home environment and accept migration. In very many cases, it is necessary to provide as many inducements as we can to get these people to move out of the congested areas and accept holdings in the non-congested areas. Because they have to establish themselves on new ground, we must also try to ensure they are in a position to survive. The people in the non-congested counties who would be getting land are already established.
I pointed out last night in dealing with this section that there is absolutely no comparison whatsoever, generally speaking, as between people in the non-congested counties and people in the congested counties. I pointed out that, in the main, in the non-congested counties the people have been established for years on far better land than exists in the congested areas. For years, they have been operating under far more favourable conditions. I suggest they have been nearer to more profitable markets. The congested counties are on the western seaboard and most congested portions of them are in the main in the most isolated portions of these counties.
I have also pointed out, in respect of the migrants who came up very many years ago, although they got small migrant holdings in those days, that at least it can be said, even though the holdings were small and are now regarded as uneconomic, they were far and away better than the lands they left behind. In many cases, the congested  patches of fragmented holdings they left behind them went towards alleviating the very poor economic conditions that existed in their native counties. Most of these men, even though they have small land units, have done extremely well over the years. As a result of the start they got in those years, many of them have now expanded and added to their original holdings. Some of them have done extremely well. Still, the position today is that in order to make a real impact in our time on the hard core of congestion that is left in these congested counties, it is necessary to concentrate the whole financial power that may be available under this heading by the State.
It has been said that here and there in non-congested counties you will find an odd pocket of congestion. I accept that; but even what they would call congestion in these counties is no comparison in fact with the intense type of congestion and rundale of which I speak that still exists in the congested counties. Where, in non-congested counties, there do exist pockets of congestion such as those to which I refer, I repeat that section 4 is the answer. The Land Commission can get geared to it. They will be entitled to make an Order scheduling any pocket of land, parish, village or townland of a non-congested county a congested area. That being so, that particular portion of that non-congested county will be entitled to all the benefits, including the halving of the annuities, being retained here for the congested areas.
This is not the first time a differential was made. After, for instance, the halving of the annuities under the 1933 Act came into being, it was amended by this Dáil under the 1936 Land Act. Take a migrant's holding in excess of £3,000 in value. On anything more than that, he had to pay the full annuity and to reimburse the Exchequer fully. So, the principle of sticking to the one halving of the annuity has been adhered to in legislation down through the years.
I can assure the House, as far as the non-congested areas are concerned, that if the Land Commission, outside  any intense pockets there may be in them, get more activity by way of purchase of land, then all my experience as Minister is that the people in those areas will be quite happy to pay the full cost of that land rather than to pay the very high conacre rents that obtain in those areas ad infinitum. The real answer to any pockets of congestion in these counties is the power being taken here under section 4.
I have told the House that as soon as may be, when the Land Commission have become geared to the administrative problems arising out of the passage of this Bill, it is my intention, immediately they are in a position to advise me, to exercise the powers conferred under section 4 and where local inspectors in the non-congested counties are in a position to advise from time to time to bring in any pockets of congestion in these non-congested counties in which the circumstances would justify the exercise of these powers.
I do not see what objection there can be to this section. As far as I am aware, there certainly has been no objection outside and no objection has been conveyed to me except what I suggest to be the artificial arguments put up here in the House to try to create some kind of feeling against migrants.
We have it on the record of the House that migrants are not welcome in certain areas. I thought that was gone, but evidently we still have it with us. These objections do not count much now in this day and age. We have moved a long way since the first migrants were brought up——
Mr. Moran: Generally speaking, the parish pump outlook will not be tolerated any longer. This is a national problem. We are endeavouring to deal with this problem in a realistic way under this Bill. In order to be realistic and to deal with it in a realistic way, I suggest that the method I have outlined is the way to achieve the solution which is to be desired.
Mr. Blowick: On the subject of the Minister's powers under section 4 to alleviate any hardship that might arise in the administration of section 7, the Minister said that the Land Commission will make an Order under section 4 scheduling an area as congested. In this section 4, the Minister makes an Order. I shall not deal with the antagonism which is sometimes apparent to migrants from the west when they go to other areas. That is not new in Meath, Kildare, Westmeath and so on. We have it down at home. If there is a big enough farm in County Mayo, the people around do not like to see migrants from a few miles away.
Mr. Blowick: It is one of the little headaches in the course of Land Commission work that have to be met and understood. It is a very natural feeling. I came up against it myself when I was in the Land Commission. I fully understand these people. Naturally, when a piece of land was being divided in an area, most of them knew it was their last chance of getting a bit and in my opinion, they were justified in putting up as good a fight as they could, in law, to get the land—but I do not agree with violence.
We shall leave all that aside for the moment and deal with section 7 as it stands. There are two things I do not understand. I think one of them was dealt with by Deputy P. Hogan (South Tipperary). I do not see why a man who has a small enough holding in any county and who is entitled to additional land should be treated differently from a man in similar circumstances elsewhere. Remember, the worst feature of this section has not been touched on at all. There may be land to be divided in a congested area in Deputy Tully's constituency in County Meath or in Deputy Burke's area, in Rush, County Dublin. Under this section the Minister has undermined a very important section of the 1933 Act and section 12 of the 1950 Act, whereby the Land Commission, and the Land Commission alone, judicially fix the annuity that is to be paid on the land. The Minister is undermining that in section 7.
 Under the provisions of this section, if a group come in to him and he finds they have to pay full annuity, the Minister can very easily say, if he wants to make a political issue of it: “If you join the local Fianna Fáil club I shall make an Order declaring your area a congested district and you can then get the land at half price”. That is the whole point of this section, no matter how you dress it up. That is the real truth of the matter. The Minister has told us here, under section 4, that he can declare an area to be a congested area. All right; there is a farm of land to be divided in Deputy Tully's area which is not a congested area. If the Minister wants to, he can extract votes from the people of that area. All he has to do is to say: “Produce your Fianna Fáil membership card and I shall declare your area a congested district”. They will then get the land at half price. That is about all that can be said on this section.
There is only one type of case, a very rare one, which would justify this power, and which could be very easily set out if it were the Minister's intention to do so. We all know that on practically every big farm of land which the Land Commission take up, there is an undesirable heath, maybe two or three acres or ten to 20 acres of marshy, rocky ground which nobody wants to take. The Land Commission very often have to go on their knees and beg somebody to take it at any price. I could understand that in cases where the Land Commission have to put up such a piece of land for public auction and there were no bidders. I do not care what the Minister or anybody else says; I think any person who is entitled to an allotment of land, where the State goes to all the trouble and expense of purchasing land, whether he is a congest or uneconomic holder, whether he is living west or east of the Shannon, should be given that land when it becomes available.
The Minister quoted a case where a farm of land is taken up in the midlands to be split up among migrants from the west. The unfortunate  man, who has been living on the outskirts of that land, who has been herding or earning his living some other way, might have had it in his head that the Land Commission would get that land some day and he would become a small farmer himself. He now finds there is a great difference between himself and the migrants from the west who can get the land at half price. That will cause bitterness and bad feeling among the unfortunate people already living there. The big danger of section 7 is that it could be a weapon in the hands of any unscrupulous Minister.
Mr. M.P. Murphy: I should like to comment on a statement made by the Minister. He mentioned the difficulty of getting people to move from a congested district. He said in order to get them to do so, certain inducements had to be held out to them. I thought the position was the other way round, that farmers in congested districts who apply to the Land Commission for exchange holdings had great difficulty in getting their applications dealt with. Some of them, I know, feel that their applications will never be dealt with. A number who are anxious to secure help from the Land Commission in getting exchange holdings do not think it worth their while to apply at the present time, in view of the difficulties their neighbours have experienced in getting the Land Commission to attend to their claims. Am I to assume from the Minister's statement that this is all changed? If it is, full publicity should be given to it because many people who have been frustrated in their dealings with the Land Commission in making applications for exchange holdings, could then renew their applications at once and have them dealt with.
I do not think it is constitutional for the Land Commission to say to the island holders in West Cork that they  are not to be considered at all. Up to eight or nine years ago, their applications were dealt with and a number of them were moved from the islands. Now their applications are not even considered so far as the scope of the present Land Bill is concerned. It does not extend to the island dwellers. I was indeed pleased to hear the Minister say here today that these difficulties seem to be wiped out, and that now, instead of the applicants getting frustrated, they will get special inducements to move out.
In saying that, I must also mention that a number of congested farmers who moved from West Cork to other parts of Cork county and to other parts of the country came out very well from the Land Commission. They got very satisfactory exchange holdings and I am sure they appreciate very much the manner in which the Land Commission dealt with them. I think it is only fair to mention that, because I have had reason on a number of occasions to condemn the activities of the Land Commission. But, in so far as dealing with the very limited number of applications from West Cork is concerned, they have come out very well indeed and I am sure they appreciate that. There is no doubt that the Land Commission could help considerably in relieving congestion if they moved a little faster.
I should like the Minister, before he closes on this section, to clarify his statement about the inducements to applicants because I am very anxious that some deserving applicants who, due to the uneconomic nature of their holdings in West Cork, cannot live there, are very anxious to get out to other parts of the county or other parts of the country. We do not like to lose them in West Cork but unfortunately some holdings are too uneconomic and people cannot continue to live on them. I believe when these people make application, whether they are from the islands or from the midlands, they should be dealt with uniformly.
Mr. M.P. Murphy: In your absence, and under the Chairmanship of the Ceann Comhairle, the Minister made a statement and he covered the points I have now been dealing with. I wanted to get clarification of the statement the Minister made when discussing this section.
Mr. Leneghan: There have been many examples of linguistic tripe in this House but I believe it would be very difficult to surpass that produced by Deputy Blowick some minutes ago. Surely he does not expect anybody to accept the statement he made that all the neighbours in any village must come together to join a Fianna Fáil club immediately to have their area regarded as a congested district and get their land at half price. It is a wonder he did not think of that when he was a Minister himself. Had he done so, his Party would not be down now to two members.
Mr. Leneghan: There are many Deputies under the impression apparently that the people in the congested areas of the west are only too delighted to get an opportunity of rushing up to Meath. They are not. It is very difficult to get the people in the west to come up to Meath and some considerable inducement must be offered to them if they have to come. In the parish in which I live and in the two adjoining parishes, there have been no applications for migration to the midlands at all. I do not accept Deputy Tully's attitude on this, though I admit he is right to fight for his constituents. I think the Minister's approach is the fairest one; a very substantial inducement must be offered to these people to migrate.
It is rather remarkable that the people in Meath, Westmeath, Kildare and other counties in which there is good land are offering colossal prices for conacre. They do not crib at £15 an acre. This is land which may be taken from them in a year, or two  years. Yet, it is seriously suggested that these people, when they are given land on a permanent basis by the Land Commission at a reasonable price, consider that price too high, even though it may not be one-tenth what they are paying now for land. I cannot swallow that argument and I do not think the Minister should be expected to swallow it. The Minister is doing the right thing.
Mr. Moran: The only relevancy on the migration issue was the argument advanced by Deputy Tully that it was utterly unfair to have a migrant in the midlands on a halved annuity while a local beside him, who got an addition, must pay the full annuity. To take last things first, let me deal with what Deputy Murphy said. In every congested area and in every constituency, there are numbers of people who may not be suitable but who would be prepared to migrate. The Land Commission must have their order of priorities: No. 1, which are the most congested holdings; No. 2, what people must come out. When dealing with run-dale—Deputies who do not understand the problem should appreciate that there are certain difficulties—there may be some people in the area who must come out before any proper rearrangement can be put through.
In the areas which comprise the hard core of congestion, a congestion to which no solution has been found so far, it is now more essential than ever that inducements should be given so that the small farmers on the intermixed holdings in a key position may be induced to come out. Experience has shown that year after year people are chosen to come out. The son of the house is asked to attend an agricultural school, and so on. When it comes to the time of parting, in many cases the very people most anxious to get out refuse, and for a variety of reasons. I shall not go into them here. These people are used to the social life in the west of Ireland. They regard Meath as a backward part of the country. They do not want to go there. Far be it from me to blame them. Now, when people refuse to  get out, they are put at the end of the queue. That is a form of penalisation about which I have had second thoughts because one is not really penalising the man who has refused to accept a holding provided for him elsewhere; one is penalising the four or five neighbours who might be relieved if he got out. That is the reason why these inducements are now being provided for migrants.
The number of migrants in any area is limited by two factors, the amount of land available and the number of buildings ready. In every estate taken over in non-congested areas, those employed on the estate have to be considered first. Then local congestion must be relieved. It is after that the migrants' holdings are provided. In many cases people prepared to migrate are not considered suitable by the Land Commission. In every single case what really determines the migration is local conditions.
Mr. Moran: Section 7 makes certain provisions. Deputy Blowick came in here and made a typical Clann na Talún interpretation of what might happen under section 4. Let me point out to the Deputy that the powers of declaring a congested area under subsection (1) are circumscribed by sub section (2) of the same section, which provides that the Minister, whoever he may be, when making an order under subsection (1) shall have regard to the size of the holdings, the quality of the land and the type of farming to be carried on.
Mr. Moran: I have been pointing  out to the Deputy, who took off some time from the debate to ridicule Deputy Burke, that section 4 provides power to deal with any pockets of congestion there may be in non-congested counties. Let me point out for Deputy Blowick's edification that the Minister can only make an order under section 4 declaring any pocket a congested area after having had regard to the provisions of subsection (2) of this section.
Mr. Moran: Deputy Blowick should get used to the idea that there is normal government in this country now. The day has gone when Deputy Blowick or Deputy Donnellan could go into a country house and, in the ashes in the grate, draw out a number of divisions of land and say to one person that he will get one part and tell another person that he will get another part. Then, when another henchman came in, the whole plan in the ashes had to be rubbed out with the foot and a new plan drawn to show that man what he would get. That is one of the reasons Deputy Blowick has the mentality he has. He cannot see normal government in this country and that an end has been put to the queer things we all knew were happening when there was Coalition Government here.
Comment has been made about the high conacre rents that are being paid in the non-congested counties. To my knowledge, these rents do exist. However, if the Land Commission are prepared to stand between the local man in these areas who has not the money to buy and the man with the long purse by purchasing lands that come on the market I have no doubt, from the representations I have received, that rather than pay the conacre rack-rents they are being asked to pay, they would be very glad to pay the full cost of the lands concerned when they come to be added to their holdings.
We are not now dealing with the old concept of a congested holding. We are now aiming at the new concept of a holding of from 40 to 45 acres of good land. Where there are people in  non-congested areas who do not measure up to that standard, these people will be entitled to consideration by the Land Commission when land becomes available in the area. In a number of cases in the non-congested areas where they had what we would regard, when compared with the holdings in the congested areas, as fairly comfortable units of from 30 to 35 acres of good lands, they will now come in for consideration under the new concept. Many of these people are obviously well able to pay the full cost of the land concerned.
The case has been made before this by Deputy Flanagan of many landless men who are paying up to £200 a year for land and yet making a living after paying these heavy rents. The case has been put to me by people in these areas that these people want more Land Commission activity in the non-congested areas in order that the Land Commission would finance the purchase of these lands and give the people the usual 50 years, or whatever it is, to repay the purchase money by way of annuity. Even after all that, the cost of the operation under this section will be considerable. It is all right to say that the people will be repaying under the section the full cost of the land. They will be paying the purchase price the Land Commission will have to pay for the land in the open market.
I may say that since 1932 the Exchequer has expended £75 million in coming to the aid of the Irish tenant farmer. In addition to the cost of the land, there will be the time and expense of the officials who will have to plan these farms, who will have to divide them and who will have to have them attached to the folios of those already on the lands. What the cost will be under the new provision in the Bill, I cannot say, except to state that out of the present allocation of £3 million, approximately £1 million is a subsidy from the taxpayer to deal with this problem.
It is for all these reasons I have mentioned that I say there is a case to concentrate seriously on an effort to solve the problem of the congested  areas, to take powers to deal with pockets of congestion in the non-congested areas. It would be utterly wrong to apply to the non-congested areas such as Meath and Kildare, the same conditions as in the congested areas. It would be wrong to give every individual in such areas the same facilities as those in the congested areas. Is it not a fair way and a far better way to deal with any particular pocket of congestion in non-congested areas, that we should schedule such pockets under section 4 of the Bill and so entitle the people in that scheduled pocket to all the benefits to which congests are entitled? I think this is a realistic way to approach the matter nationally, the proper way to approach it from the Exchequer point of view and the fairest way for this House to approach it.
Mr. Blowick: In what way will the proposal to go back to the pre-1933 conditions help the migrant? You will have a migrant brought to the midlands from any congested county and he gets a new holding there with the annuity halved. The man outside the wall pays the full annuity. In what way does the dearer annuity or the man outside the wall help the migrant from the west? Or am I misunderstanding the whole section? Again, may I point out very briefly as regards subsection (2) of section 4 which he has spent ten minutes telling us about, there is absolutely nothing in this subsection. This is what it says:
When making an order under subsection (1) of this section the Minister shall have regard to the size of the holdings, the quality of the land and the type or types of farming carried on in the area to be declared a congested area.
That might mean the Minister would have regard to a 500-acre farm, if there were any in such an area. It does not say to what particular types of holdings the Minister must have regard. It is just a whole lot of verbiage, with nothing to it. Therefore if subsection (2) of section 4 were wiped out, it would not alter the Bill  one iota. There is no use in the Minister trying to tell us there is some wonderful safeguard there to prevent a Minister doing wrong things under section 4. The Minister has gone around in circles with regard to migrants from the west. There is not one word in section 7 about migrants from the west. Migration can be dealt with under the appropriate sections of this Bill when they come up and the Minister will hear plenty about it, certainly from me. I am sticking to the one point here. I hold a man is entitled to an addition of land if he is a smallholder, whether he is in a congested area or not.
The very fact that people are leaving the land wholesale is proof that agriculture does not provide a livelihood for them there. It is ridiculous to say that, because a certain class of migrants in the non-congested counties are prepared to pay a large sum for conacre, they are rolling in money. The poor devils must pay it or get out. Most of them must pay £20 an acre because they are too old to face England, the United States or Australia. If these people had to pay these exorbitant prices for conacre when they were 18 or 20 years of age, they would not have remained in Ireland.
Mr. Tully: I should like to point out that since the debate on this Bill started, I have been in the House all the time. I think those who are present are entitled to speak when they wish to rather than have the number of times they spoke previously counted against them as against people who have not been here.
Mr. Tully: The position about the Bill is that the Minister has brought in a large number of amendments and apparently is prepared to speak for a quarter of an hour at every opportunity. If anybody makes a comment, he is prepared to reply for a quarter of an hour and if the Chair allows him, he is quite in order in doing so. However, he cannot blame us at a later date for holding up the Bill. I have often heard Opposition speakers being blamed for that but on this occasion the Minister is determined the Bill will not go through in a hurry.
I wish to refer to a comment the Minister made last night and repeated today that the Land Acts, when they were brought in first, dealt with congestion. The Minister is as well aware as I am that the first migration did not take place until the early 'thirties. The original Land Acts dealt mostly with evicted tenants, with people who lived in the neighbourhood of the estates, who were in fact given the estates, and people brought from outside. The Minister now apparently considers it a capital crime that £75 million of the taxpayers' money was spent in halving the annuities. He would have been expelled from his Fianna Fáil cumann if he were there in 1932 or 1933 and made such a statement.
Mr. Tully: I had not noticed it. The position is, as Deputy Blowick said here and Deputy McQuillan interjected,  there are no extra inducements offered to the migrants now. If it is sought to create the impression that the House is now offering them something which they did not get before, then that is entirely wrong. I agree with the attitude that uneconomic holders, no matter where they come from, should be treated equally. There is nothing wrong with that and the Minister can justify that. It is entirely wrong that an uneconomic holder from the congested areas should be treated in a different way from an uneconomic holder, to use the Minister's words, in Kildare or Meath, and we could include Longford, Westmeath and Cork. He can treat the local men in a different way from the congest if he wants to and if he gets away with it under this Bill. The Minister said last night that the NFA had no objection to it. The NFA have been shouting from the house tops in regard to derating land up to £20 valuation.
Mr. Tully: That would be a hard job because the Minister contradicts himself so often that somebody must  misquote him. The NFA have circulated a document of which I am sure the Minister received a copy, even if he has not read it. In it, they say they have no objection to the system proposed. The extraordinary thing is that they have been objecting to the rating of agricultural land up to £20 valuation. They are perfectly satisfied to have added on a considerable amount to the outgoings of a farmer because he happens to be born in the midlands and gets a farm of land.
I heard one Deputy say that that was only one-tenth of what would be paid for conacre. Perhaps the Minister would let the House have the benefit of his knowledge about the farms most recently divided. What in fact has been the extent of the annuity being paid, the half annuity? Then we will know the terrific price being paid for conacre, if we accept the figure of one-tenth which was quoted by somebody. I do not care in what way the Minister refers back to section 4, or any other section, because the position as it stands is that the person in a non-congested area who gets a farm will in future be required to pay the full annuity and his neighbour, who has come from a specially selected and privileged area, and even though he may be much wealthier, will have the benefit of continuing at half the annuity. This is nothing new. It is what is being done at present. It is being done for the very few people to whom the Minister referred last night. Now it is to be extended to those who were unfortunate enough to be born in the west of Ireland and the congested areas.
The Minister picked on one of my statements and said that it was not correct. He said—and I hope I am quoting him satisfactorily—that if somebody buys a farm, he does not get away with paying half the annuity. The position as I know it is that if an annuity is being paid on a farm and it is bought by somebody else, the situation is not altered as a result of the sale.
Mr. Tully: The Deputy is not so innocent as to imagine that the question of the unpaid period of years is not taken into consideration when a farm is being sold. The Deputy is aware that when a farm is being sold, the annuities still to be paid must be taken into account and must have an effect on the purchase price.
Mr. Tully: It does not matter if they come from Belgium, France or Germany, they are welcomed and they buy the best. They do not have their annuity brought up to the full amount. They still have to pay the half, but if they happen to have been born in the midlands, and you can add County Dublin now, they will have to pay the full annuity just because they committed the cardinal crime of living within one mile of an estate when it was divided. No one in this House can claim that there is any justice in that. It is a deliberate attempt to victimise certain citizens and as far as we are concerned, we will oppose it as far as possible.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: What strikes me about this section is its dishonesty.  There is a very high degree of dishonesty about it, bearing in mind that little over a quarter of a century ago, the Government's policy shouted from the hilltops and in the valleys, was to abolish the land annuities completely. After a great struggle, during which the smallholders and farmers were driven to the threshold of every county home because they were broken completely, it was agreed that the annuities should be halved. This is the first effort in legislation to deprive the people who benefited by the halving of the land annuities. Not alone is this section dishonest but it is morally wrong. The Minister should act on the basis of common justice and should realise that this section will create disagreement and enmity between neighbours and lead to a most unsatisfactory state of affairs.
The Minister says that on the passing of this Bill he will have the power to declare certain pockets of congestion as congested districts but we must judge this Bill as we see it and in the Second Schedule, the congested districts are defined. The congests who are already in areas which are not declared congested districts will be very seriously affected. Take, for example, the congestion that prevails in Wicklow, Cavan, parts of Longford and in areas of Offaly, Laois, Kilkenny, Carlow, North Tipperary and parts of Meath. Would the Minister not be prepared to face this matter courageously and ensure that the terms of this Bill will refer to the whole country and not attempt to make fish of one and flesh of another? In this case certain privileged people are going to enjoy holdings at half the rent—because the Minister by order will declare their areas congested districts—while their neighbours will be living under conditions of a congest because their area may not be declared a congested district. That is the great injustice in this. It is a very serious matter and I have a feeling that is only the thin end of the wedge towards depriving the people of the benefits given to them in 1933 when the annuities were halved.
I hope the farmers will take a careful  note of this section because I feel it is the first step towards making them pay what the Government can describe as a full economic rent for their holdings. Surely every Deputy is aware that there have been many instances of smallholders who have already obtained holdings from the Land Commission, or additions to their existing holdings, and that their grievance is the annuity they are already paying is too high and too severe. Surely they will have a greater grievance when it is doubled. The Minister tells us that he has been taken up incorrectly by Deputy Tully and others who take the same meaning from what the Minister says. When a holding is put on the market, no matter who buys the holding or what price it fetches, the annuity does not change.
This is a section that the farmers would need to guard against because the privileges they won so dearly, after being dragged through an economic war, are now in great danger. There is a possibility of the advantages represented by the halving of the annuities being discontinued. If the Government get away with this section, it will be only a matter of time until legislation is introduced which will bring the Land Commission annuities up to the full rate and will discontinue the benefit of the halving of the annuities created by the 1933 Act.
In the name of common justice, in the name of fair legislation, all farmers are entitled to the same treatment, irrespective of the part of the country in which they live. It is not right that one section of the community should be set against another. The Minister knows the temperament of rural Ireland. He knows the state of affairs that can be created if one man having the same type of land as his neighbour pays only half the rent for it while his neighbour pays the full rent.
This matter should be reconsidered, in view of the opposition to the section from so many Deputies. The points raised by Deputies opposing the section are worthy of consideration. In the interests of those people who will be seriously affected by the  section and who will be unable to pay the full economic rent of the holding, the Minister should reconsider the section.
It must be borne in mind that the section will seriously affect a cottage tenant in a non-congested district who obtains a portion of land as an accommodation plot. He must pay the full rent for it, whereas on the adjoining land where a congest may obtain a holding, the congest will enjoy the privilege of the halved annuity. This is dishonest. It is something which the House should reject and of which the people should take serious notice. In my opinion, it is the first step towards the introduction at a later stage of something which we may describe as a land tax. That has been hinted at. It is the first step to doubling the rent on every landowner. The Minister should tell us straight and be honest with us on this Land Bill. This is a first instalment in an effort to deprive the farming community of the benefits of the Land Act under which the land annuities were halved.
This is unjust. I would ask the Minister not to lose his patience. I appeal to him to be calm. I sincerely ask him to view this matter in a calm and rational way. There is no reason why the Minister should lose his temper with Deputy Tully or any other Deputy. We all desire to discuss legislation in a rational way. I am sure the Minister realises that there must be an Opposition. We are here as an Opposition to secure the best possible legislation for the majority of the people. That is our duty. We have no desire to be obstructive or destructive. Our desire is to be constructive. The constructive criticism which has come from this side of the House in relation to this section is worthy of the fullest possible consideration by a Minister who is anxious to present this country with a Land Bill based on common justice. That is all we are asking for in so far as this section is concerned.
Mr. Corry: I do not know where Deputy Flanagan got the idea that there was any proposal by any  Government that the people would be relieved of the whole of the annuities. The only time that I ever saw any such proposal was during an election period when it was suggested by the Leader of Deputy Flanagan's Party that as against the halved annuities, they would ask for no annuities at all and that the land would be free.
If Deputy Flanagan's Party had their way, all of the people of this country would still be paying the full economic annuity, with the difference that it would be paid to Britain instead of to our own Government. Let Deputy Flanagan take that to himself.
Mr. Corry: I see the Minister's position without any difficulty. What is wrong with most Deputies who are making all the noise here is laziness. When I hear statements made about Dublin and Louth and other areas in regard to conacre, I have to consider it in the light of one cheque I saw, which was for £27,000 payable to one so-called farmer for wheat, two years ago, that was grown on land that was taken by an auctioneer in Meath and Dublin for a gentleman who resided abroad. He grew wheat but they knocked the economic price of wheat to the ordinary farmer.
What is wrong with Deputies is downright laziness. When it is stated here that any area where there is a congested pocket will be declared a congested area or will be considered as a congested area, Deputies are too lazy to walk around their constituencies in order to find where these congested areas are.
Mr. Corry: They are too lazy to discover where the congested areas are in their own constituencies. I will show them how it is done. I will have a list of congested areas here for the Minister next Wednesday. The Deputy should go to the trouble of doing something for the people who sent him here instead  of coming in here and making a furore about nothing.
There are congested areas in my constituency. I referred to one of them in the House before the recess. It is an area of 425 acres which belong to these unfortunate people whose ancestors were evicted from them. Next week I shall ask the Minister to declare that area a congested area so that these people can get back into the farms from which their people were evicted.
Mr. Corry: I have no apology to make. In reference to the farm which I mentioned before the Dáil adjourned and which the Land Commission are now acquiring, three Deputies from my constituency went to Deputy Blowick when he was Minister for Lands. We begged him then to take it from the person who had grabbed it, a fellow called Smith—425 acres of it. Deputy Blowick, when Minister for Lands, refused to take it. It was sold for £7,000 to an Englishman. Since then, it has been swapped a couple of times and I feel sure it would cost the Land Commission today between £35,000 and £45,000.
That is the situation in regard to land prices that has arisen, due to the neglect of a previous Minister for Lands. These are the problems we have to face up to. That land could have been let very cheaply if it had been bought for £7,000. Now, because the Land Commission must pay perhaps £45,000 for it, a completely different state of affairs exists.
Any Deputy who takes the trouble to look around his constituency can very easily find out where the congested pockets are. They can then bring those to the notice of the Minister and demand that they be scheduled  as congested districts under section 7. I have quite a big area to look after and I can do it. It is up to other Deputies to do something for the people who sent them here. I am perfectly satisfied that since the Minister has taken the power to himself to declare any pocket pointed out to him as a congested area, after inspection by the Land Commission, no difficulty will arise under this section. The difficulties raised here are a big bluff by a number of Deputies who are too damn lazy to do their jobs.
Mr. McQuillan: This is the first time I have seen an attempt, in recent legislation at any rate, to tamper with the question of the annuities. To my mind, that is a very explosive problem indeed, one of which the Government should be very wary. Let me put it in this way: if the Government had the intention of making an overhaul of the question of the annuities, they should have been frank about it. Section 7 seems to be another case of flying the balloon.
When the Government previously had certain things in mind, this same Minister was sent down the country to fly the balloon. That balloon was shot down and I have the accounts of it here. It involved investigations the Minister for Lands was making into what our position would be when we became members of the Common Market. Here we have the same Minister for Lands taking an unprecedented step to alter a situation that has been working satisfactorily up to the present. The excuse given for the alteration proposed by this section is that it will benefit holders in the congested areas.
The Minister spent at least 45 minutes telling us that the object of the section was to provide an inducement to congests, in the west particularly, to take holdings which would be made available for them in the midlands and elsewhere. He suggested there was wagon load after wagon load of congests ready to move across every bridge over the Shannon if things were made sufficiently attractive for them in the midlands. He repeated that section  7 provided an inducement which was not there before.
What is the position? In section 7 there is no inducement to a migrant or a person living in the congested areas which was not there already. Why is it introduced, then? My conviction is that this Government are not prepared to make a penny piece extra available for the solution of the land problem. What they are doing is pretending they are interested in the small farmer in the west, to whom they say: “You will still have your annuities halved and we shall make the big fellow in the midlands pay.” The position will be that the small farmer in the non-congested areas, who is entitled to an addition of land wherever the Land Commission take over a farm, will now pay the full annuity, whereas the congested farmer in the west who may get a migrant holding will pay only half the annuity. The argument can be put forward that the small farmer in the non-congested areas is subsidising his colleague in the congested locality.
I speak as a Deputy who comes from an area designated as congested, and I do not think the people in my constituency want that type of segregation. To them, and to me as their representative, a cottier is a cottier, whether he is in Meath, Kildare, Tipperary, Cavan, Roscommon, Galway or Mayo. Because he happens to be a cottier in Roscommon with a few acres, his annuities are halved. If he is a cottier in part of Westmeath, or Longford, or Tipperary, he pays the full annuity. Why is that type of segregation being introduced for the first time through section 7? I should like an answer to that because, to my mind, there is no attraction in the section for the people of my constituency.
This section imposes a definite penalty on the small uneconomic holder or cottier in the non-congested areas. Why? It will not help the people in Roscommon or Mayo but it will penalise the people in Tipperary, Cork, Cavan, County Dublin and other parts of the country. I am satisfied the Minister for Lands will not get a  free hand from his Government as far as finance is concerned, particularly from a Taoiseach who looks at Ireland through Dublin spectacles.
It is clear the view has been expressed in Government circles that the people with land shall pay the full annuity. It is clear they have decided: “Let us test it like this and see how it works out through the Minister for Lands in his new Land Bill.” That is why section 7 is here today. The small farmers and the uneconomic holders in the areas not designated as congested should not be treated as guinea pigs in this fashion. It is a dreadful situation to find that an alien, or foreigner, or a large rancher, can come in and buy a large farm in, say, Tipperary and that this Bill has made no change in so far as the repayment of the annuities is concerned. Such a purchaser is fully entitled to the privileges he has so far had.
Side by side with the farm he now buys, if the Land Commission have another farm for division, the small local farmers will have to pay their full annuity on the portion of the land they received from the Land Commission while the large rancher beside them or the non-national has the full privileges which he has enjoyed up to the present so far as halved annuities are concerned. If that is the way to deal with smallholders and uneconomic holdings in non-congested areas, I believe Fianna Fáil Deputies who will vote to support this section are not aware of the implications of it. The argument put forward by Deputy Corry, Deputy Burke and the Minister that there is power in section 4 to allow the Minister to declare pockets of congestion in various parts of the country will be no solution. In my opinion that is only an endeavour to weave a web of confusion and prevent the true situation from being discussed. It would appear that if every Deputy could do as Deputy Corry suggested the Minister would not have enough pockets in his suit, his overcoat, his dress suit and his wardrobe to hold the congested localities that would be produced.
Mr. McQuillan: The Minister knows that his plan is to set up 45-acre holdings all over the country if possible. On that basis, every county in Ireland can justly be described in the same terms as the areas now described as congested under the old Congested Districts Board. So, in fact, it is a waste of time talking of pockets of congestion because there is no part of the country that cannot be described as congested if one takes a 45-acre unit in the future. The Minister should have another look at this section before the next Stage of the Bill.
Mr. P. Hogan: (South Tipperary): The Minister may not have a big wardrobe but he has a good motorcar and all he needs to do is get into it and drive over the roads, west and south and he can see in every county there is a considerable congestion problem. This is particularly acute in North Tipperary. The Minister is obsessed by areas. If the nine-county area was not scheduled for him I think he would have invented it. He affords opportunities to the west against the congests in the south because in the south they are supposed to have better lands and markets and to be better established. But who has the better land and so on? Not the congests, but the bigger farmers.
Mr. P. Hogan: (South Tipperary): There is some deception underlying this entire Bill. I fear that all the young farmers will feel that under this Bill they will get land in the midlands or in the south.
Mr. P. Hogan: (South Tipperary): The only benefit the young farmer can get from this Bill is the doubtful one of being offered land at half annuity price. It will not help them to get an extra acre apart from the conditions  at present obtaining. They have been led to believe there is something in this Bill that will get them land and that is what I deplore because I believe it is calculated, and will be used, to deceive young farmers and farmers in non-scheduled areas. If they do get land on their own rights they will walk into a non-scheduled area and will, perhaps, be very unpopular as they will be paying half-annuities as against their neighbours who may have got land in equally poor circumstances and have to pay full annuities.
This Bill, I think, will lead to a complete misconception on the part of the general public as the so-called concession of the halved annuity given in scheduled areas will not get them any extra land. It will, I believe, encourage them to leave the land and many of them at the moment require little encouragement. There is the added objectionable feature that under the cover of giving them a concession of land at half-annuity, there is the new invention that Deputy McQuillan mentioned, the dress-rehearsal for full-annuity which for the first time is put on the small parcel of land. Any congest, even though he gets a few extra acres, will still in the majority of cases not be a rancher but a small landowner. The Minister mentioned 40 to 45 acres of good land. It means that a man, a non-scheduled congest, can get a few acres of land but will pay for these the full annuities. That is a new departure and it may be a prelude to other things that are to come. Why cannot the Minister, in view of the small amount involved, treat the entire country as a congested area and allow these congests, farmers in non-scheduled areas, to get a few extra acres?
Mr. P. Hogan: (South Tipperary): So did every other Deputy. The Minister seems to think there is something special in this half annuity measure to help the congested areas in the west. I am convinced his efforts in this respect as regards the halved-annuity section will be quite worthless and probably are quite deceptive.
Mr. Moran: Just to keep the record right—I do not propose to follow Deputy McQuillan. It is customary for the Opposition on these occasions to set up political aunt sallys for the purpose of knocking them down again but I shall not follow Deputy McQuillan. Deputy Oliver Flanagan spoke for quite a long time about dishonesty. In case people outside the House would regard him as an expert in that respect it is necessary for me absolutely to refute the implication he  made on this section regarding my intentions to take action under section 4 of the Bill. Again, as regards what Deputy Blowick alleged in respect of subsection (2) of section 4, it is necessary for me to refute that and to say that if any Minister for Lands did not exercise the powers in section 4 in accordance with the provisions of subsection (2) of that section, Deputy Blowick would be the first person to impeach him.
Blaney, Neil T.
Brady, Philip A.
Burke, Patrick J.
Calleary, Phelim A.
Collins, James J.
Corry, Martin J.
Crowley, Honor M.
Cummins, Patrick J.
de Valera, Vivion.
Egan, Kieran P.
Gibbons, James M.
Gogan, Richard P.
Kennedy, Michael J.
Kitt, Michael F.
Lalor, Patrick J.
Lemass, Noel T.
Leneghan, Joseph R.
Moher, John W.
Ó Briain, Donnchadh.
Ó Ceallaigh, Seán.
Clinton, Mark A.
Costello, Declan D.
Costello, John A.
Crotty, Patrick J.
Dillon, James M.
Dockrell, Henry P.
Dockrell, Maurice E.
Dunne, Seán. O'Reilly, Patrick.
O'Sullivan, Denis J.
Esmonde, Sir Anthony C.
Flanagan, Oliver J.
Harte, Patrick D.
Hogan, Patrick (South Tipperary).
Hogan O'Higgins, Brigid.
Kyne, Thomas A.
Murphy, Michael P.
O'Donnell, Thomas G.
O'Higgins, Michael J.
O'Higgins, Thomas F.K.
O'Keeffe, James. Ryan, Richie.
Question declared carried.
Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
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