Land Purchase (Guarantee Fund) Bill, 1935—Final Stages.

Wednesday, 1 January 1936

Seanad Éireann Debate
Vol. 20 No. 22

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Question proposed: “That the Bill be received for final consideration.”

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I think the Senators who supported the Second Reading of this Bill, and the Deputies who supported it through all stages in the Dáil, can be congratulated upon their powerful advocacy. When this measure first came before the House for consideration on Second Reading a number of Senators indicated that they were then, as they always have been, opposed to the principle of the Guarantee Fund. I need only refer to my good friend Senator Wilson, who has never disguised his abhorrence of that procedure, which he told us yesterday had, in fact, been re-established in opposition to the votes of himself and other members of his Party, which I presume included, at that time, Senator Baxter. Possibly the principle of the Guarantee Fund had not in 1923 such powerful advocates as it had recently, because we now find that what Senator Baxter's present leader failed to do in 1923 we, for some cause which is not patent to the House, have succeeded in doing in 1935. It only goes to show how men acquire wisdom with the passage of years.

Mr. Baxter: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  Who, may I ask?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  What was not good enough for Senator Baxter and Senator Wilson in 1923 has been taken to [1639] their hearts this afternoon. However, it is a good thing that the country should realise that the principle of the Guarantee Fund has now the almost unanimous acceptance of this House. I am not sure whether in that connection I speak for Senator Miss Browne. There is, however, no person better qualified than she is to speak for herself, and if I should misinterpret her present attitude in regard to the Fund, I have no doubt that she will take an early opportunity to correct me. I do think we may congratulate ourselves upon a very striking victory as a result of the debates which have taken place here. It is now made clear to every element in the country that all parties in the Seanad, at any rate—I was going to be more comprehensive and say the Oireachtas, but apparently there is a difference of opinion between the Opposition in the Seanad and the Opposition in the Dáil as to the merits of the Guarantee Fund——

Miss Browne: Information on Kathleen Anne Browne  Zoom on Kathleen Anne Browne  And the Labour Party.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  ——stand for the enforcement of the principles which are represented by the Guarantee Fund, that is to say, that any person who defaults in the payment of his annuities will have that default made good at the expense of his friends and neighbours, honest and hard working, who have paid their annuities but who have the misfortune to live in the same county council jurisdiction as he does.

We were told by Senator Counihan on the Second Reading of this Bill that that was something which was contrary to natural justice and that this was one of the reasons why he was prepared to oppose the Bill. Apparently the Senator's objection on that ground has been overcome. I think there was a Senator who challenged a division on the principle of the Bill on Second Reading. If my recollection does not mislead me, Senator Fanning had the hardihood, when all his friends were silent, to call for a division on the Second Stage. Now Senator Fanning is doing his best to expedite the passage of this Bill through the Seanad this evening.

[1640]Mr. Fanning: Information on Michael Fanning  Zoom on Michael Fanning  It was a little joke with the Opposition, and it came off.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  He is one of those who is anxious to expedite the passage of the Bill through the Seanad this evening. We have Senator Counihan who said this Bill was going to inflict an injustice upon hard-working people, and we have Senator Fanning who was absolutely and utterly opposed to the Bill. Of course, he says now that it was a little joke. Are we to understand that the Senator always discharges his legislative functions and fulfils his legislative responsibilities in this House in that same light-hearted fashion; that merely in order to secure some little point of fun at the expense——

Mr. Fanning: Information on Michael Fanning  Zoom on Michael Fanning  Of the Opposition.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  ——of his colleagues, he should go to the extent of challenging a division which, I understand, represents the most positive action which any Senator can take, either for or against a proposal which the House has been considering. However, I do not wish to detain the House unduly. I think we may all congratulate ourselves and the country will witness, I have no doubt, possibly with a little wonderment, but I am sure with wholehearted appreciation and thanksgiving, the unanimity with which the Seanad has decided to impose on the hard-working sections of the community for whom Senator Counihan spoke on the earlier stages of the Bill, all the disabilities which we were told attended the operation of the Guarantee Fund as part of our land purchase code.

Senator Douglas rose.

Cathaoirleach: Information on Thomas Westropp Bennett  Zoom on Thomas Westropp Bennett  Might I point out to the House that the Minister made a speech which would be more fitting to the Final Stage?

Mr. Douglas: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  I was going to ask if his speech was in order and how it was in order. I presumed that if it was in order I could reply to it.

Cathaoirleach: Information on Thomas Westropp Bennett  Zoom on Thomas Westropp Bennett  You can reply on the Final Stage.

Question put: “That the Bill be received for final consideration.”

Question declared carried.

[1641]Mr. Comyn: Information on Michael Comyn  Zoom on Michael Comyn  Division.

Mr. Douglas: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  Is this the final division on the Bill?

Cathaoirleach: Information on Thomas Westropp Bennett  Zoom on Thomas Westropp Bennett  No, on the Report Stage.

Mr. Douglas: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  This might possibly not be continued and I think it is scarcely fair to allow the Minister to make a speech affecting the House and not to allow a reply. I think, with great respect, I ought to be allowed to reply to it.

Cathaoirleach: Information on Thomas Westropp Bennett  Zoom on Thomas Westropp Bennett  That is a very nice point. Of course, the Minister set a bad example by making a speech on a stage which is really meant for correction.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  May I say by way of explanation that, if I erred, I erred because I had not the same intimate knowledge of the rules of procedure as Senator Douglas has.

Cathaoirleach: Information on Thomas Westropp Bennett  Zoom on Thomas Westropp Bennett  If Senator Douglas desires to speak, perhaps he could be allowed. We could treat this stage more or less as the Final Stage.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  No.

Mr. Douglas: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  I think the best thing is to have no division and to agree to the Fourth Stage. We could take a division on the Final Stage.

Question proposed: “That the Bill do now pass.”

Mr. Douglas: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  I took the Minister's speech in respect of that part of it in which he accused Senator Baxter, as an attempt at what he would regard as a little joke.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  It was Senator Fanning.

Mr. Douglas: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  I am now rather inclined to think that I was wrong and that he meant portion of his speech to be serious and I take it, therefore, that we would be justified in taking his speech as a serious one and that he is of the opinion that a Second Chamber which receives a Bill from the Lower House of which it disapproves should always immediately reject it. I understood the objections to this House which have been urged by the Minister and by members of his Government were that we had rejected certain measures. Admittedly, we did [1642] pass the majority of those that came from the Government although we did not altogether approve of them. We did pass them with amendments. Now we understand that if we had been honest and consistent and had done our duty properly as Senators we would have rejected every one of them, according to the standard set by the Minister's speech here to-day. It may be that that is correct in regard to general legislation, but I have always felt that the Minister, together with certain other members of his Government, had never troubled to study the functions of the Seanad at all and that is borne out by the Minister's speech to-day, because he will find, if he looks at the Constitution, that Seanad Eireann has no legislative function with regard to a Money Bill. Therefore, the Second and Final Stages in this House are of no importance at all and do not imply approval.

The only function we have is on Committee and Report Stages of sending recommendations, and that is provided clearly in Article 35. Therefore, it is simply because of the convenience of the Standing Orders we have that we have a Second Stage, but, whatever happens, it does not matter the tiniest bit so far as actual effect on a Bill is concerned. The Committee Stage is the only Stage that matters and, therefore, all the Minister's joyous argument as to conversion and approval with regard to this Bill— none of which he believed, but which he thought was a good point on which to make a humorous speech—is not, I am afraid, even effective. We certainly are entitled to assume that the criticism made of this House in that we rejected two or three measures since this Government came in was not meant by the Minister, who, if we disapproved of Bills, would have expected us to have rejected every one of which we disapproved.

Miss Browne: Information on Kathleen Anne Browne  Zoom on Kathleen Anne Browne  The Minister referred to my attitude with regard to the Guarantee Fund. I made my attitude quite plain—that originally it was a slur on the honest Irish farmer—and I do not wish to say any more about it. I wish, however, to refer to another matter in the Minister's [1643] speech which, I think, is important, to be fair to everybody. Almost the principal plank in his argument in endeavouring to get this Bill through has been the action of certain members of the Cork County Council. Since I spoke last some Senators have referred to these persons by name. They have referred particularly to Mr. O'Gorman. These persons have been referred to as having done something which was never done before by anybody of importance. The present chairman of the Wexford County Council was a member of the Dáil for a number of years. During those years he headed the list of defaulters both in rates and land annuities in Wexford County Council and he is not the only important member of a county council attached to the Fianna Fáil Party whom I could mention.

Mr. Comyn: Information on Michael Comyn  Zoom on Michael Comyn  If the farmers are unable to pay their annuities, I am sure the Government will give them all the consideration it is possible to give. A number of farmers have failed to pay their annuities. Some people say that they are unable to pay and, as a result, the money in default will be contributed by the farmers who have paid. It is said that, of every three farmers, two pay and one does not. It is also said that if the default of that one has to be made up, it will amount to 4/- in the £ on the rates. That is a very serious matter. I ask Senators on the other side: Have the farmers who have failed to pay their annuities in County Cork failed to pay their rates? They have not. They are not paying their annuities in that county and I think they are doing that as a result of a combination for that purpose and in order to embarrass the Government in the present crisis.

Certain recommendations have been carried to this measure. Let us examine them. The first recommendation is that this Bill shall operate only as from the date of its passing. I ask the Seanad to consider the confusion that would arise if that was part of the law of this country. Before the passing of this Act, a certain [1644] state of law would exist. After the passing of this Act, another position would arise. What about the people who have paid their annuities? What about the annuities that are not in default? If money has been paid under mistake of law, can it be recovered? That is a question for consideration. I hold—I do not think I have been contradicted by any lawyer of experience—that, according to the law at present, the Guarantee Fund is liable to make good the deficiency and that this is simply an explanatory measure for the purpose of making clear what the law is as expressed in the Act of 1933. The courts of justice, when they come to determine the construction of an Act of Parliament, can have no regard whatever to debates which took place in either House. But the Dáil and the Seanad can refer to these debates and, referring, as we have done, to the debates which took place on the Act of 1933, as we were entitled to do, we know the clear meaning of that Act. The court would ultimately decide what that meaning was and I think it was desirable when a question was raised that it should be made clear.

What is the effect of the first recommendation? Its effect is practically to tell the court by Act of Parliament that the true meaning of the Act of 1933 was not its real meaning and that the Guarantee Fund was not liable, but shall be liable after the passing of this Act. That is prejudicing the court. The second recommendation is of the same character. A further recommendation by Senator Blythe is of much wider scope. It is a recommendation that Section 2 be deleted. Have Senators, when marching around Níl and Tá, considered what Section 2 contained? (Section quoted.) That section asks you to say that the financing and administration of the Land Purchase Acts, as they have been carried out since 1932, was done properly and regularly.

Any sensible man ought to have agreed with that section once he had considered it, because it would be intolerable that all transactions since 1932 should be ripped up. It is a very [1645] bad thing that the Seanad should give the idea that matters are unsettled and uncertain. I am sure my friend Senator Fanning will agree with me in regard to that. He has made no speech.

Mr. Fanning: Information on Michael Fanning  Zoom on Michael Fanning  I absolutely do not.

Mr. Comyn: Information on Michael Comyn  Zoom on Michael Comyn  The Senator has made many interruptions, vigorous and fervid, in the course of these debates, but he has never yet ventured to make a speech in this House. Having regard to the recommendations which have been carried—I am sorry to say by the casting vote of the Cathaoirleach, and nobody regrets that more than I do——

Dr. Gogarty: Information on Oliver St John Gogarty  Zoom on Oliver St John Gogarty  Why not?

Mr. Comyn: Information on Michael Comyn  Zoom on Michael Comyn  I am sorry it had to go to a casting vote. I wish we had a majority one way or the other, because the Chair is supposed to be above our little breezes here. Seeing that the recommendations have been carried, I think the Bill ought to be rejected now, with the recommendations. That is my opinion, and that is the way I will vote.

Dr. Gogarty: Information on Oliver St John Gogarty  Zoom on Oliver St John Gogarty  I move: “That the question be now put.”

Cathaoirleach: Information on Thomas Westropp Bennett  Zoom on Thomas Westropp Bennett  No, no.

Mr. Quirke: Information on William Quirke  Zoom on William Quirke  I was sufficient of an optimist to think that the dove of peace had descended on the Seanad, but I am afraid I have been disillusioned at this stage. There were various inaccuracies presented to the House. The last Senator who stood up to contradict me would be wise to look up his geography. If his historical remarks were as incorrect as his geographical remarks, I think I would be right in suggesting that the majority of the people inside or outside of this House should take as little notice of what he said as I do. With regard to the Bill, I think there was no necessity for the heated discussion that we have had. I entirely disagree with those who launched deliberate attacks on Senator Blythe. On the contrary, I would feel more or less inclined to compliment Senator Blythe on being consistent, at least for once, because I can see in his recommendations a deliberate attempt to stand behind [1646] those people whom he certainly has, within the past year or two, led into the fog.

Senator Blythe stated to-day that at no time did he advise the people not to pay their land annuities. I cannot flatly contradict that statement, because I have not any documents from which I could quote to the contrary, but I do say that if he was not advising the people not to pay their land annuities then he was at least fooling the people, because the farmers in South Tipperary who followed his blue lantern around the country for about 12 months came together not very long ago and made up their minds that just as they would take the necessary precautions to prevent potato blight when it threatened, that they would take necessary precautions to prevent the disaster which would inevitably follow if they followed this “Blythe” any further, and they decided they would not take his advice not to pay the land annuities. I believe his recommendations are a deliberate attempt to back up those people who were in default. In his attempt to do this it must be obvious to Senator Blythe that he is backing up the minority of the farmers against the majority. His recommendation is an attempt to throw the responsibility on the people with no property in the country, as was pointed out by the Minister. It is an attempt to make them pay what was not forthcoming from those entitled to pay.

Most people looking for a rising of Communism in this or any other country would naturally look for it in the slums or somewhere where the people were living under terrible conditions. Here we have an extraordinary development. We have a state of Communism springing up amongst the people who would naturally be interpreted as being the best-off people in the country. The big landholders, headed by Senator Blythe and other leaders of the Opposition, are now saying that they do not want to pay their land annuities and that they will not pay them. I do not want to go back on the question of whether or not they were told not to pay. We all know what the movement was and [1647] what the result would be if it was carried through. They do not want to pay land annuities or the rates. They want to throw the burden for the running of the whole country on the people who have to pay their taxes direct and indirect. I believe if the Bill were to go through with these recommendations that anybody voting for the Bill would be a party to this attitude of Senator Blythe and, like the previous speaker, I do not propose to vote for the Bill with the recommendations tacked on to it.

Mr. Johnson: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  I would like some guidance on the matter of procedure. The motion you put from the Chair is: “That the Bill do now pass.” Which Bill? The Bill that came from the Dáil? I take it that is in reality what we are asked to approve of, to pass from this House. But to the Bill as received from the Dáil there are certain recommendations. Are we to take it the Bill is passed subject to those recommendations being accepted, or are we to take it the Bill is only passed if these recommendations are embodied in it? The motion before the House is, “That the Bill do now pass.” We have not amended the Bill. We are not allowed to amend the Bill. Therefore, we must take it that the Bill we are asked to pass is the Bill that came to the House from the Dáil. I think, even with the recommendations, the Bill ought not to pass because—the Minister used the word stultification— I think it is a contradiction in itself.

We are asked to send a Bill to the Dáil—that in order to remove doubts we do so and so. It is really as to a matter on which there is no doubt whatever, because it deals only with the future; it makes a new law for the future. If there had been amendments rather than recommendations, as amended it would have just the same defect as the Bill that came before the House, but on the contrary side. In the one case, as it came from the Dáil it is an indication to the courts as to how the courts should decide the issue. But now it is an indication to the courts that they should decide the issue in a definite but contrary direction. So it just contains the same evil [1648] if the recommendations were accepted by the Dáil as it contained when it came from that House. Therefore I think in either case the Bill ought not to pass.

I repeat what I said, and Senator Blythe agreed in the course of the Second Reading debate, that this is an issue that ought to be argued out on its merits—the question of the Guarantee Fund. It ought to be argued out on its merits, and it has not been argued out on its merits. On that account, therefore, the Bill ought not to pass because, as containing the recommendations, it is a re-enactment of the Guarantee Fund procedure. But on the matter I am more concerned with, the indication to the courts when hearing the litigation—in either case it tells the courts what the courts ought to do. As it came from the Dáil it tells the courts they ought to decide in a certain direction— amending the law while the case is before the courts. As it is going with the recommendations it is telling the courts to decide in another direction entirely. In either case it is an irresponsible Bill, a Bill which is a disgrace to both Houses.

Mr. Douglas: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  On the legal point raised by Senator Johnson as to what we are doing, I always held the view, and still hold the view, that we cannot do anything but pass or reject a Money Bill. We treat them in the same way as other Bills in debate, but we have no legislative authority in regard to Money Bills. If there is a recommendation made by the Seanad, of course, it must go back to the Dáil; but I do not really think it matters what we do on the Fifth Stage.

Mr. Johnson: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  Section 38 of the Constitution as amended, in respect of Money Bills actually uses the phrase “shall be deemed to have been passed by both Houses.”

Cathaoirleach: Information on Thomas Westropp Bennett  Zoom on Thomas Westropp Bennett  That is so. The matter is perfectly clear.

Mr. Blythe: Information on Ernest Blythe  Zoom on Ernest Blythe  It seems to me that we can agree with Fianna Fáil Senators that this is a rotten Bill, and cannot really be amended.

[1649]Cathaoirleach: Information on Thomas Westropp Bennett  Zoom on Thomas Westropp Bennett  We have the Bill before us now with certain recommendations.

Mr. Blythe: Information on Ernest Blythe  Zoom on Ernest Blythe  Certain recommendations have been passed by the Seanad. I think they are perfectly good recommendations, in spite of what was said by various Senators since. There is no suggestion in these recommendations that defaulters should be let off. The only suggestion is that if there are wilful defaulters the Government should deal with them direct, and that their neighbours should not be asked to pay for them. If they are not what one would call wilful defaulters, but people who are unable to pay, the Government should ascertain the facts, instead of passing this Bill, and consider what is actually before them. As to what Senators Foran and Quirke said, I want to say that I never advocated the non-payment of rents. I advocated, as I do to-day, that the Government should face up to the situation created by the economic war, and not collect annuities while the farmers are deprived of their markets; but I never made the suggestion that farmers, who could find the means, should not pay their land annuities.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  May I say this?——

Cathaoirleach: Information on Thomas Westropp Bennett  Zoom on Thomas Westropp Bennett  The Minister is not going to make another speech.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Am I not entitled to give an indication to the House as to what the attitude of the Government might be?

Cathaoirleach: Information on Thomas Westropp Bennett  Zoom on Thomas Westropp Bennett  I should be very glad if the Minister would do so.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  It is entirely with that in mind that I have risen. I think Senators Johnson and Comyn have drawn the attention of the House to very important considerations. Both Senators have pointed out that the acceptance of the recommendation, to amend Section 1 of the Bill, would be to make confusion worse confounded, because it would undoubtedly place the courts, we believe, in a position of more uncertainty [1650] as to what the Legislature did intend by the Land Act of 1933 and the Land Purchase Annuities Fund Act of the same year. Not only would there be a state of confusion as to what the law was, but there would be a state of administrative chaos, too, as Senator Comyn pointed out, created by the deletion from the Bill of Section 2. Now I can speak on that section. I did ask the Senator who was responsible for putting the recommendation in regard to it before the House to explain what he intended to do. We did not hear any argument in support of that recommendation. It was assumed, I think, that it was a purely consequential amendment— consequent upon the passage in the Seanad of the recommendations to insert certain amendments in Section 1. But the practical effect of it would be to throw into a state of uncertainty at least, I think, the courts in regard to everything that has been done under the Land Act of 1933. Looking at the words of the section I find it reads:—

This Act shall come into and be deemed for all purposes to have been in force as on and from the 1st day of April, 1932, and accordingly every payment or deduction made or other thing done, on or after the 1st day of April, 1932, and before the passing of this Act, in relation to or for the purposes of the Guarantee Fund shall be and be deemed always to have been as lawful and valid as such payment, deduction, or thing would have been if this Act had been passed before (as the case may be) such payment or deduction was made or such thing was done.

Lawful and valid, including the collection of the land annuities, and the reduction of the land annuities because these are in general relation to the Guarantee Fund. The position, therefore, to be created by the deletion of this section is that the whole of the land purchase procedure is to be thrown into a state of uncertainty and confusion.

Mr. Douglas: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  Do I understand the land annuities are collected for the purpose of the Guarantee Fund?

[1651]Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  No, but in relation to the Guarantee Fund—there is a relation between them and the Fund. The position is a reciprocal one. That can be argued with great force in any court. If the intention of the Seanad in making this recommendation to delete Section 2 is not to interfere with the Constitution or the existing law, or the rights of the people under the existing law, the Seanad is acting under a grave misapprehension. Whatever else it might have done in regard to the recommendation to amend Section 1 it should not have deleted Section 2; and I say in view of the position which I hold it would create it would be impossible for the Dáil to accept the Bill with this recommendation, and I do not see that any use would be served by the House passing the Bill in that form.

Mr. Baxter: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  I am quite certain nothing would please the people of the country better than that this Bill should be withdrawn by the Government.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  We are not withdrawing it. I was referring to the action of the Seanad.

Mr. Baxter: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  It would be a good thing for the supporters of the Government in the Seanad to declare that this is a bad Bill. That would be going a long way on the road that we wish them to travel. I hardly believe the Minister suggests that the deletion of Section 2 would mean that there would be no power to collect the annuities. The Minister is a man of many parts and of many moods. He can address himself to subjects of a very varied character. There was a sort of threat to us. Now if there was the possibility that the collection of the annuities was going to be stayed I think we should have further information upon that before we could be satisfied that it is so. It is not the intention of the House.

Mr. Comyn: Information on Michael Comyn  Zoom on Michael Comyn  How does the Senator know the intention of the House?

Mr. Baxter: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  Well, of the majority of [1652] the House. We are not prepared to accept the Minister's interpretation as to the legal position. The principal arguments that are advanced as a justification for this measure are made by people who are so close to the wood that they cannot see the trees. I think the case was to try and get at individuals. Goodness knows, there might have been a good deal of that in the past but we should try to get away from it. I believe that this Bill is unjustifiable and that, considered from the aspect of social justice, it should not have been introduced at all. I do not know very much about conditions in Cork or in other counties but I know the conditions in my own county. I know that our county topped the list or was second to Mayo this year in the payment of rates. What is the position there this year? A sum of £16,000, due for land annuities, is going to be deducted, through the operation of the Guarantee Fund, from the grants for our county. Curiously enough, one of the first individuals to be seized upon was a very vigorous and violent supporter of the Government Party. I regret that the names of some men have been mentioned in this House, men who are not here to defend themselves and with the facts of whose case some of us are not familiar. But I can say of the man to whom I have referred that he was a poor man. I believe myself he was unable to pay, mainly because of the policy he pursued and acted upon. That is my conviction. When he found himself in difficulty he went to his Fine Gael neighbours, borrowed the money and paid up. A number of payments have since fallen due and the money is not available. The result will be that, in pursuance of this policy, we shall have to face an extra 1/4 in the £ on the rates in the county when they come to be struck next month. That is because this £16,000 will be deducted from the grants.

Why are these grants being stopped? I believe there is no suggestion that in any part of the county there is any agitation directed towards the withholding of the annuities. No one has countenanced or suggested that policy. [1653] The fact is that conditions are such that people are unable to pay. Now we are to be asked to pay an extra 1/4 in the £ this year. If I have to pay 1/4 extra in the £ on a valuation of £45 what will happen? What will every ratepayer in the county say? That if he is to be asked to pay in one way he will not pay in the other. While the Minister may talk about the administrative chaos that is going to ensue, from the Exchequer point of view, if this Bill is not passed in a particular form, I can urge with equal force that there is going to be administrative chaos in the various counties all over the country when they are called upon to strike a rate which they can never collect.

The Minister and his Party have talked a great deal about the will of the people. I give my opinion for what it is worth, that this Bill of the Executive Council is not the will of the Fianna Fáil Party or the will of the people who voted for them. I can go even further and point to a county that has, perhaps, been staunchest of all others in its support of the Government, the County Clare. I can quote here the point of view of the local paper which has been a very vigorous supporter of the Government. Here is what it says:—

“We have repeatedly urged that the local rates should not be put in pawn because many tenant purchasers do not pay their land annuities. Grants, which would otherwise go to the relief of rates on agricultural land, are reduced to compensate the Central Fund for those defaults and the local rates have then to make up the difference. That is, the honest man who pays his own annuity has also to pay for the unlucky, lazy or improvident defaulter.”

This is an interesting point with regard to the will of the people:—

“A motion on the subject was submitted at the county council meeting (in Clare) but the majority took the view that it should be [1654] adjourned pending the outcome of certain cases in the High Courts. Clare ratepayers have suffered enormously owing to their presumed liability for land purchase arrears, and, whatever be the effect of legislation or of legal judgments, it is hard to see the equity of making Peter pay for Paul.”

You have that coming from an organ that has been a most consistent and vigorous supporter of the President, and opinion in County Clare is fairly representative of opinion in rural Ireland.

I submit with all respect to the points of view expressed by Senators on the right, that so far as the farming community are concerned—those who are struggling and making desperate efforts to pay land annuities and rates wherever they can—there never was a greater injustice done to these people than when the Central Fund withheld grants from the local councils because certain people in these counties are in default in the payment of annuities. What is being handed over to the county councils? If the Minister and the Executive Council have not succeeded in collecting annuities in South Tipperary, Cork, or in other counties from certain individuals in these counties, will the rate collectors be able to do what the Executive Council, with all the forces of the State at their disposal, have not succeeded in doing? The Minister is only passing on the baby again. I think it would be much better for him if he faced his responsibility and did not think so much about those people in Cork whose names he mentioned but looked at the country as a whole and at the people generally who, despite the conditions, are making every effort to meet their liabilities. If he did that, he would ask himself what will be the consequences of this Bill on local authorities.

I have no doubt whatever that the constructive programmes which local authorities have marked out for themselves in the way of housing schemes, water supply schemes and sewage schemes are going to be imperilled if [1655] the rates are going to be made liable for a deficiency that is really a responsibility of the Central Fund's, and if the local councils are to be deprived of money that should be made available for them by way of grants. You cannot have it both ways; make no mistake about it. If these people are paying in South Tipperary and in Cork and elsewhere, through the pressure that is being put upon them, there will not be any default and the Central Fund will not be in arrear. Then these extra powers which the Minister wants to take, or the clarification of past legislation which he wants to make, will not be necessary at all. From the point of view of public policy, from the point of view of social justice, even—if one might with some timidity urge it—from the point of view of good politics, the Minister would be much better served by the complete withdrawal of this measure.

The Minister should, however he is going to do it, find the money in some other way. I know he has urged that unless this Bill is passed there will have to be extra taxation of 9/- in the £ on every individual in the State. If that is the case, when you are going to distribute taxation over each individual to the same amount per capita, would it not mean much more on those very worthy citizens who have paid their own way and who are in no way responsible for the position in which some of their neighbours now find themselves? In my view, if this charge is to be met at all, it would be much more equitable to meet it by way of taxation on every citizen in the State, many of whom are responsible for the policy— to a much greater extent than the farmers themselves—that made it impossible for the farmers to pay their way. There would be much more equity and justice in that, and if the Executive Council are prepared to withdraw this Bill we say: “More power to them.”

Mr. MacEllin: Information on Sean E MacEllin  Zoom on Sean E MacEllin  I agree with a good deal of what Senator Baxter says. I would agree a whole lot better with [1656] him if, when he was a Deputy in the Dáil ten years ago, he had made the same speech, for it would apply ten years ago with equal effect.

Mr. Baxter: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  If I may say a word, it is that if you read the speeches made by me ten years ago you will find very little difference.

Mr. MacEllin: Information on Sean E MacEllin  Zoom on Sean E MacEllin  I did not read them then, but if you made that speech ten years ago it would apply with equal effect.

Cathaoirleach: Information on Thomas Westropp Bennett  Zoom on Thomas Westropp Bennett  Deputy MacEllin will please address the Chair.

Mr. MacEllin: Information on Sean E MacEllin  Zoom on Sean E MacEllin  I am talking to the best of my ability. Senator Blythe was Minister for Finance at that time and he must have ignored Deputy Baxter.

Mr. Baxter: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  Many a time.

Mr. MacEllin: Information on Sean E MacEllin  Zoom on Sean E MacEllin  The surprising thing about it is that it is only now that Senator Blythe and so many other Senators woke up to the fact that this method was an improper one. I think Senator Baxter put his finger on the kernel of the problem when he said he did not know how the money was to be got. The plain fact remains that he had to admit that the money must be got some way. If the people do not pay their way the whole machinery will fall into chaos and the whole social fabric of the State will fall into chaos. This is the system that has been tried out and found satisfactory. Nobody on the other side has made any suggestion as to a better form of machinery or suggested a better means by which more efficient machinery could be-substituted. In view of that and failing the suggestion of an alternative policy by the Opposition, I think the Minister for Finance is perfectly justified in taking up the attitude he has taken up in connection with this matter. Talking quite frankly, I must say that this whole system of giving agricultural grants should be codified and a simpler [1657] method got. I do not know anything about it, but I am talking from the point of view of the ordinary man. One would imagine that some system could be got that might be more satisfactory. However, this is the system that has been tried and found by experience to be satisfactory. The Seanad has made recommendations. They started this Bill in 1935 and they continued discussing it in 1936 and I do not think they have done any good to themselves or to the House. I do not see why we should pass this Bill at all under existing circumstances. I say that because this House has gone beyond anything it has hitherto done, as far as I know, in any Money Bill. That being so, I do not see why we should now give the Bill any show at all at this Stage, for we might show our subserviency somewhere outside this House and by following up that subserviency and making easy for others what we have not done would bring on us responsibility for their actions.

Mr. Johnson: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  On a point of order, I want to point out that Standing Order 94, “recommendations to Money Bills,” reads:

“Where, in the Standing Orders relating to the stages of Bills, the word ‘amendment’ or ‘amendments’ is used, such Orders shall, in the case of Money Bills and where the context so permits, be construed as if the word ‘recommendation’ or ‘recommendations,’ as the case may be has been inserted in lieu thereof.”

In Standing Order 92 we have it set forth:

“When the amendments (if any) have been disposed of, the question ‘that the Bill (or the Bill as amended) be received for final consideration’ shall be put from the Chair, and, if affirmed, an Order appointing a day for the Fifth Stage shall be made.”

Standing Order 93 says:

Cathaoirleach: Information on Thomas Westropp Bennett  Zoom on Thomas Westropp Bennett  What is the point of order, Senator?

[1658]Mr. Johnson: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  I am coming to it. Standing Order No. 93 says:—

On the Order of the Day being read for the Fifth Stage of a Bill, the question “that the Bill do now pass” shall be proposed from the Chair.

I ask your ruling on this matter. I put this question arising out of the point made by Senator Douglas touching the power of the Seanad in regard to Money Bills—the point in regard to recommendations. I take it from that sequence that the motion you are now to put to the House is “that the Bill containing these recommendations be now passed.”

Cathaoirleach: Information on Thomas Westropp Bennett  Zoom on Thomas Westropp Bennett  The House is now seized with the Bill. I will put the question that the Bill do now pass.

Mr. Johnson: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  Do we take it that what we are to decide is that the Bill containing the recommendations do now pass?

Cathaoirleach: Information on Thomas Westropp Bennett  Zoom on Thomas Westropp Bennett  The Bill as it stands.

Mr. Blythe: Information on Ernest Blythe  Zoom on Ernest Blythe  The recommendations do not come in at all.

Mr. Johnson: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  How do you reconcile that with the reference in Standing Order No. 94, which sets out:—

Where, in the Standing Orders relating to stages of Bills the word “amendment” or “amendments” is used, such Orders shall in the case of Money Bills ... be construed as if the words “recommendation” or “recommendations” as the case may be had been inserted in lieu thereof.

The Article says that the Bill, as amended, or the Bill with recommendations will have to be put to the House.

Mr. Blythe: Information on Ernest Blythe  Zoom on Ernest Blythe  In his quotation, Senator Johnson has omitted the words “where [1659] the context so permits.” The context would not permit in this case.

Cathaoirleach: Information on Thomas Westropp Bennett  Zoom on Thomas Westropp Bennett  The motion I am putting to the House is: “That the Bill do now pass.”

[1660] Question put and declared lost.

The Seanad adjourned at 6.50 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 14th January, 1936.


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