Land Bill, 1938—Report Stage.

Wednesday, 26 July 1939

Seanad Éireann Debate
Vol. 23 No. 9

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Cathaoirleach: Information on Seán Francis Gibbons  Zoom on Seán Francis Gibbons  Before taking up consideration of this Bill on the Report Stage, it may be convenient if I indicate at this point that amendments Nos. 1, 9, 10 and 18 are out of order, and cannot be moved. The amendments raise matters of too great principle to be brought up by way of amendment on the Fourth Stage.

It might be well also if I indicated the views of the Chair regarding debate on the remaining stages of the Bill. There have been certain comments as to the wide scope of the debate on the earlier stages of the Bill, and particularly on the Committee Stage. Considerable latitude was allowed and, in the view of the Chair, rightly allowed. The subject matters raised by the amendments were very wide, and had repercussions on sections of the Bill, other than the particular sections to which they were offered. However, now on the Report Stage, speeches must be directed specifically to the particular amendment under discussion.

Sir John Keane: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  I move amendment No. 2:—

In page 7, Section 12, sub-section (1), at the end of paragraph (b), line 41, to add the following words:—“and the cash so paid shall be applied towards payment of costs.”

The House will remember that on the Committee Stage there was considerable discussion on the question of costs. I hope now, when one is saturated with the whole subject, it will be [874] easier for me, and also for the House, to appreciate the extreme simplicity of the matter. This is actually what happens. When the stage is reached for the costs to be apportioned, a whole schedule is placed before the Judicial Commissioner, on which is set out the allocation of claims on the purchase money. There are claims for superior interests, and claims for costs, and the residue, after the satisfaction of these, is paid to the vendor. An item like this would appear on the Schedule, a claim for costs amounting to, say £150, proved as having been incurred, taxed and admitted and, in approving of the Schedule, the Judicial Commissioner will admit that these are the costs to be paid. They have to be paid by the vendor, but against the £150 he says: “I can only allow say, £100 out of the costs fund. That is all I consider a fair charge on the costs fund. “The balance, £50, will have to be paid by the vendor out of the residue of the purchase money. Hitherto the £100 that was allowed against the total of £150 would be paid in bonds out of the costs fund, and paid by the vendor to the solicitor in bonds, plus the additional £50 which was not allowed on the costs fund.

There was no difficulty about the award out of the costs fund being made in bonds and the payment to the solicitor was made in bonds. Now, this Bill is changing that, for reasons with which I am not concerned. They are, I imagine, good reasons. There are three classes of bonds in the costs fund. There are good reasons for no longer paying in bonds, but what I am concerned with is that when an award is made in cash, similarly by the same medium should the solicitors be paid in cash. That is common justice. Unless this amendment is accepted this is what will be the result. The award will be made in cash but the vendor will have to pay in bonds which may be at a premium and to the amount of that premium he is at a loss. I do not think that is common justice. I cannot see any reason for rejection of this amendment and I do hope it will meet with the acceptance of the Minister. I do not say of the House because the House will do as [875] they are told but I hope the Minister will accept it.

Minister for Lands (Mr. Boland): Information on Gerald Boland  Zoom on Gerald Boland  I cannot tell the House what to do. I simply make my case. I do not think the House yet understands the position. There are three funds—three separate and distinct funds—relating to three different issues of bonds. In one of those funds—the new 4½ per cent. bonds —there is a shortage, and when the Judicial Commissioner comes to the stage of awarding costs there may not be in that particular costs fund sufficient bonds to pay the award in bonds. What we are doing in this section is simply giving him power to treat the three costs funds as one, but in that case, as he cannot pay in the appropriate bonds, there not being sufficient cash, he orders the money to be paid to the vendor in cash. That is simply all that is in it, and I cannot see why we ought to tie the Judicial Commissioner's hands in this matter. If there are bonds there he will pay all in bonds. He is quite free to pay partly in bonds and partly in cash. It is purely a matter for the discretion of the Judicial Commissioner. I really cannot understand what Senator Sir John Keane is fearing at all. There is going to be no injustice. It is simply a matter for the discretion of the Judicial Commissioner. If there were any doubt of the justice of the commissioner I could understand it, but I am quite sure that is not in the Senator's mind. I fail to see the necessity for this amendment at all. It is simply asking to bind the commissioner in a certain way, a way in which I think he ought not be bound. He will judge the case on its merits. He will know all the circumstances; he will have the Schedule before him and he will give his award accordingly. He will order them to be paid in bonds if he thinks fit. This matter was discussed at length and I have nothing more to say. It is not that I want to be cussed in the matter. I do not think the House ought to bind the hands of the Judicial Commissioner in a matter like this and I will not accept the amendment for that reason.

[876]Sir John Keane: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  On a point of procedure. May I ask how many times I am allowed to speak on this amendment?

Cathaoirleach: Information on Seán Francis Gibbons  Zoom on Seán Francis Gibbons  The Senator may conclude. He may speak twice.

Sir John Keane: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  Am I allowed to speak twice?

Cathaoirleach: Information on Seán Francis Gibbons  Zoom on Seán Francis Gibbons  The second speech will be the concluding speech, of course.

Sir John Keane: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  As this is the last opportunity I will have to speak on this amendment I will have to make a final effort. The Minister, I think, does not yet see my point. I am not concerned at all with the medium in which the costs are awarded. The Minister thinks that I am trying to make the Judicial Commissioner pay out of the costs fund in bonds. Not at all. I am satisfied that he can pay either in bonds or in cash, whichever he thinks best. That is not the concern. But, having paid in cash, I would say it is only common justice that the ultimate creditor, that is the solicitor, should be paid in cash. The Minister says the Judicial Commissioner has power to pay in what medium he likes. He has, but in this matter the vendor is only like a post office. The money is passing through and he has got to hand it on. If you pay a man in cash I cannot see why you should make him satisfy his creditors in bonds. I cannot see the elementary justice of that. That is what the effect of it is. I wish the Minister would not try to tie me down as objecting to the internal procedure in the costs fund. I am not concerned at all about that. My concern only begins when the award is made. I think it is most unjust that the vendor, having been paid in cash, should have to pass on the money in bonds, which may stand at a premium. I have said all I have got to say.

Cathaoirleach: Information on Seán Francis Gibbons  Zoom on Seán Francis Gibbons  Is the amendment being pressed?

[877]Sir John Keane: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  Yes; I would just like to test the feeling of the House on the matter.

[878] Question put: “That the words set forth in the amendment be there added.”

Baxter, Patrick F.
Butler, John.
Counihan, John J.
Johnston, Joseph.
Keane, Sir John.
MacDermot, Frank.
McGee, James T.
Parkinson, James J.

Blaney, Neal.
Campbell, Seán P.
Concannon, Helena.
Farnan, Robert P.
Foran, Thomas.
Goulding, Seán.
Hawkins, Frederick.
Healy, Denis D.
Honan, Thomas V.
Johnston, James.
Kennedy, Margaret L.
Keohane, Patrick T.
Lynch, Peter T.
MacCabe, Dominick.
Mac Fhionnlaoich, Peadar
(Cú Uladh).
Moore, Maurice G.
O'Callaghan, William.
O'Donovan, Seán.
O'Dwyer, Martin.
Nic Phiarais, Maighreád M.
Quirke, William.
Stafford, Matthew.

Amendment declared lost.

Amendments in the name of Senator Sir John Keane:—

3. In page 21, Section 37, sub-section (1), at the beginning of paragraph (a), line 7, to insert the words:—“Where particulars are so furnished pursuant to Section 22 of the Land Act, 1923.”

4. In page 21, Section 37, sub-section (1) (a), line 7, to delete the words “or owner”.

5. In page 21, Section 37, sub-section (1) (a), in line 8, after the word “holding” where that word first occurs to insert the word “or;” and to delete the words “or parcel”.

6. In page 21, Section 37, sub-section (1) (a), to delete line 11.

7. In page 21, Section 37, sub-section (1) (a), in line 19, to insert after the word “holding” the word “or” and to delete the words “or parcel” in line 20.

8. In page 21, Section 37, sub-section (1), in line 20, to add the following words at the end of paragraph (a):—

“Where a parcel of land becomes so vested in the Land Commission pursuant to Section 44 of the Land Act, 1931, the arrears of rent payable by the owner in respect of such parcel which accrued due prior and up to the gale day next preceding the date on which the said application is lodged, but not exceeding three years of such arrears and in addition all arrears of such rent which accrued due after such gale day up to, and which are unpaid on, the appointed day, together with an apportioned gale of such rent from the gale day next before the appointed day, shall be compounded by the addition of compounded arrears of rent to the purchase money of such parcel.”

Cathaoirleach: Information on Seán Francis Gibbons  Zoom on Seán Francis Gibbons  Amendments Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8, being associated amendments, I understand the Senator desires to take them together on amendment No. 8.

Sir John Keane: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  I will therefore move amendment No. 8. The House will remember that all this matter was discussed at considerable length on the Committee Stage and, to answer an objection, a very minor objection, not [879] an objection on principle at all, but an objection more related to drafting, I agreed to withdraw my amendment and bring it forward again on the Report Stage. I am not discouraged by my failure in regard to the last amendment, and I am still pursuing my efforts to try to persuade the House that, if the Bill is passed in its present form, very substantial injustice will be done to a certain class of people, admittedly a minority, but I do not suppose, because they are in a minority, that justice will weigh any differently with the House.

This amendment concerns the question of arrears on head rents and long leases—fee farm grants and long leases. The amendment I put down on Committee covered too wide a field. It would have applied to Section 22 of the Land Act of 1923 cases, as well as to the cases coming under Section 44 of the Land Act of 1931. The House will know that these cases concern judicial tenants. They were under Section 22 of the 1923 Act, and under Section 44 are fee farm and long lease tenants, who were originally not provided for in the 1923 Act and were only dealt with for the first time in the 1931 Act. The amendment now being moved deals with the latter cases only, Section 44 cases, but necessarily includes verbal amendments in sub-section (a) in order to make the first part applicable to the 1923 Act cases only, and includes an addition which applies to Section 44 cases only. That is only a question of drafting.

In considering this amendment, Senators will have to keep clear in their heads two dates, one, the date of lodgment of the application, which is made by the grantee or lessee, and, two, the date of the appointed day. The procedure is different to that of the 1923 Act. In the case of the ordinary judicial tenant, automatically the particulars have to be supplied after the passing of the Act, but in the case of the fee farm grants and long leases, under the 1931 Act, nothing happens. The old rent continues until the tenant makes application to have the rent relieved. The date of that application [880] is the date of the lodgment of the particulars, or the lodgment of the application. The second date is the date of the appointed day. That is the day when, after inspection and other necessary steps have been taken by the Land Commission, bonds are transferred to credit of the estate and interest begins to run. There may be a considerable period between the lodgment of the particulars and the appointed day.

What has already been done by legislation in respect of these arrears is as follows: Under the Act of 1931, which was the first to have regard to these superior interests, all arrears up to the first gale day of 1928 were made irrecoverable. This gave, roughly, three years, if due. The Act being passed in 1931, anything prior to 1928 was ruled out; but three years were due and could be recovered. Under the 1933 Act, all arrears due prior to the date of the lodgment of the application were made irrecoverable except three years prior to that date, if these were due. Suppose an application were made in 1933, there might have been five years' arrears of rent due, but the Act made only three years definitely recoverable. From the date of the lodgment of particulars, payment in lieu of rent ran and that was collected by the Land Commission. Payment in lieu of rent is practically a payment made by the Land Commission on the basis of 75 per cent. of the rent due, irrespective of whether the tenant pays or not. That was the method that went on from 1923 to 1931. The Land Commission collected the rent, less 75 per cent., paid it to the vendor, and recovered, if they could, from the tenant.

Now, the injustice begins, the injustice that I am trying to remedy. It begins under the 1936 Act. Under that Act three years only to the appointed day were made recoverable. Supposing in 1933 the tenant lodged an application, there might have been three years' rent due then. Another four years might quite easily elapse before the appointed day, and that would be seven years due altogether. The 1933 Act said that you could only recover [881] three, and that in the form of compounded arrears. Perhaps the Minister would correct me if I am wrong, because I have been very carefully instructed in this matter and I should not like to go on if anything is wrong. I shall repeat it. The particulars in the case might be lodged—the particulars meaning an application to have the fee farm rent redeemed—in 1933, on which date there might be three years of a rent due and recoverable in law at that date. Then four more years run from the appointed day, and that means seven years' rent in all in arrears. The 1936 Act said:

There are seven years' rent in arrears, but you can only have three.

I will admit that the present Bill goes some distance, but, I am hoping to show, an inadequate distance towards meeting that injustice, and I am told that, according to the official reading of the section, as drafted, compounded arrears for the full period between the date of lodgment and the appointed day are to be added to the purchase money no matter how long that period may be, and that provided such period does not amount to three years a further sum may be added in respect of rent due to the date of lodgment to bring the total up to three years.

Let me explain what that means. The particulars being lodged in 1933, in the case I have given and the appointed day being four years later, in 1937—that being seven years' arrears—under the present law only three years of the seven would be recoverable. This Bill proposes to make four years between the lodgment of particulars and the appointed day recoverable, but to wash out the three years previous to the date of lodgment; that is, giving four years in that case under this Bill instead of only three years in the past. I should like to restore the position as it was under the Act of 1936, but as there seems to be an objection—however, perhaps I should not read that. The amendment is intended to provide that no loss of income beyond the 25 per cent. difference between the actual rent payable under the grant or lease shall fall on the person entitled to the rent and [882] that no benefit beyond that 25 per cent. should be given to the person who pays such rent. Remember, these compounded arrears are 75 per cent. and are added on. The need for the amendment is that, in practice, long periods—as much as four years—have elapsed between the date of the lodgment of particulars and the appointed day.

It is provided in the amendment that no arrears in excess of three years actually due to date of lodgment should be recoverable as, presumably, up to that date grantors or lessors had their ordinary remedies, but it is contended that with this limitation the entire amount due, less 25 per cent., should be recoverable by way of compounded arrears or in some other manner. In practice, fee farm rents and rents under long leases, particularly in smaller cases, are only collected once a year—thus, a full year's rent may be due before the grantor or lessor takes any steps to recover by way of legal process. In fact, it takes a whole year before the grantor knows that there is likely to be a refusal to pay, and it may take another six months before there is a hearing of the case and, on the hearing, a statement will probably be made to the court that the grantee is about to lodge particulars in the Land Commission when an adjournment would normally be given. Thus we can see that in any quite ordinary case two years at least of rent might be due at the date of lodgment and these two years will be entirely lost should a period of three years elapse before the appointed day, and should a period of two years only elapse, then one year's rent will be lost. This seems to me to put a premium on the withholding of rents by grantees or lessees, and the Legislature should be no party to this.

On the Committee Stage, I understood the Minister to say that all sums due for rent up to the appointed day could be recovered by ordinary process of law, but I think he made a slip there, as, clearly, once the particulars are lodged-which depends on the action of the grantee or lessee—no legal remedy is left to the grantor or [883] lessor to recover by ordinary process of law. I have already explained how the amount then due—that is to say at the date of lodgment of particulars— without any remissness on the part of the grantor, might well be two or even three years' rent. I have got further and even stronger grounds with regard to this matter, because the procedure I am now asking to have adopted is identically the same procedure as has been adopted in the case of judicial tenants under the 1923 Act. Under that Act no arrears of rent were recoverable nor could proceedings be taken, after the passing of the Act, for the recovery of arrears of rent, but instead, the arrears for three years preceding the Act were compounded and added to the purchase money. Under the 1923 Act you gave a maximum of three years of arrears and full payment was made in lieu of rent. Here you are penalising people by saying that they can have the arrears prior to the date of lodgment, unless there is less than three years' arrears, allowing the deficiency to flow back prior to the date of lodgment. I feel that there is a great injustice there and I should like to know why these superior interests should be penalised and put in a different position as compared with the puisne interests. The object of my amendment is to secure elementary justice, and I would ask the Minister to give that elementary justice to these interests in this case.

Mr. Boland: Information on Gerald Boland  Zoom on Gerald Boland  With regard to this matter, I understand that there has been a case—I cannot quote the case at the moment, but I can get it for the Senator—in which there was a decision of the Supreme Court to the effect that, until the appointed day, the landlord is entitled to sue for his rent by the ordinary process of law. Now, if he neglected to do that, and if he has allowed large accumulations of arrears of rent to accrue, why should the Land Commission be asked to do what he neglected to do himself? If he did not go through the ordinary process of law to recover, why should the Land Commission be expected to do so? What we are proposing [884] to do here is an improvement —and I think the Senator admits it— on the position as it actually exists at the moment. That is, that the arrears for the period, however long it may be, between the date of application or lodgment of particulars and the appointed day will be compounded. Senators might not know what is meant by that, and I want them to be clear on the matter. It means that 75 per cent. is added to the purchase money. I wish to be taken as saying that when I say that the person concerned will get more than he is getting at present, where it is confined to three years. In this case, he can get the compounded arrears for that period of three years and, if there is less, he can go back on the other arrears for a period of three years in all. As I say, we think that that is fair enough. We are improving on the present position, and surely we are not to be expected to become collectors of rents that, apparently, were considered irrecoverable by the landlords. If they were prepared to wait for three or four years, or goodness knows how long, I do not see why the Land Commission should be expected to become collectors of rent. In the cases that are being dealt with now—these long-lease cases—the person will be entitled to get that money up to the date of the application, anyway. The point is that the landlord did not collect, and how did he know whether or not the other person would make application? He let the matter go on for three or four years, and yet the Land Commission is expected, having regard to the security of the holding, to act as collectors of arrears.

These arrears may have gone on for goodness knows how many years, and if they were to be piled on to the purchase price, it would leave things in an impossible position. As I said before, when a landlord did allow arrears to accumulate to such an extent, he must have felt that the land was not of a kind that could bear such a rent. At any rate, he must have had some reason for thinking that the rent could not be got out of the land, and hence the arrears were allowed to accumulate.

[885] On the last day the Senator said that the courts had given a decision in a particular way. I have nothing to say to decisions given by the courts. I forgot to get particulars of the case which was referred to, and to bring them here with me. I am certain there is a case on record in which the Supreme Court did decide that up to the appointed day the landlord had the right to claim for arrears. I cannot see any justification for asking the Land Commission to go back and deal with the period prior to the lands coming into their hands. For the period that the lands have been in their hands we are making a full allowance. If there has been any long delay, the arrears will be compounded. That is an improvement on the present position.

Mr. Counihan: Information on John Joseph Counihan  Zoom on John Joseph Counihan  The attitude that the Minister takes up is this: why should the Land Commission become debt-collectors for any one to whom rent is due? The Minister, of course, is quite right in that, but the fact remains that in this case, as I understand it, the Land Commission came in and took away whatever rights the landlord had by saying to him: “You cannot go back farther if the times get better.” But during the past five or six years the man to whom money was due knew perfectly well that he had no chance, even if he went into court, of recovering it. The Land Commission are now taking the place of the landlord, and are wiping out all his interest in the way of arrears of rent. I think there is a good deal to be said for the point of view put before the House by Senator Sir John Keane, namely, that there should be more consideration for the landlord when you are taking away all his rights. I think that this thing of wiping out arrears of rent has, in many cases, led to a lot of dishonesty, because people who paid up their rents promptly have not got as much as a farthing by way of concession under these Land Acts. You have the position throughout the country that people who could well afford to pay are not doing so. They are hoping for something like this to turn up at the last moment so that they may be able [886] to evade meeting their just obligations. I would urge on the Minister to consider the amendment in a more sympathetic way. Perhaps he could come to some compromise with the Senator on it.

Sir John Keane: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  I have been fighting these Land Acts since 1923, during the whole period that I have been a member of this House. I have been 16 years in the firing line so that I may say I have got quite hardened to the sort of refusal I have received from the Minister. There is no doubt but that a great injustice will be done if this Bill is left as it is. What is the justice of putting judicial tenants which, after all, are a lesser interest in a certain position, and of putting the superior interests in a much less favourable position? All that I am asking is that in this measure they should both be put in the same position. I ask Senators to consider what is going to happen in the case of these superior interests. I know a superior interest, a fee farm grant of £98 a year, which is amply secured—on a town almost. Under the Act, the right of redemption is given. This vendor got £1,500 in 4½ per cent. land bonds, which gave him £60 a year for his £98. The grantee, instead of paying the original £98, has got his annuity halved and pays only £30. Where is the justice in that? We used to hear a good deal about the poor tenants who made improvements in their holdings and reclaimed land out of the sweat of their brow. But here you have rich people who are being given this under more favourable terms than the poor tenants that we used to hear so much about. You are giving these comparatively well-to-do people a further concession under this arrangement of compounded arrears.

I think I have reason to complain that the Minister, knowing that this case was coming on to-day—having been challenged on the Committee Stage about the Supreme Court decision—did not come here with more particulars about that decision. My information is, and I am instructed by people who have daily acquaintance [887] with the law, that there was no such decision: that the most the law gave was power to collect up to the day of lodgment, and not up to the appointed day. I submit that, even with the greatest diligence on the part of a landlord, two years' arrears of rent before the day of application are almost bound to accrue. The owner could not know, for a year at least, that there was going to be default. The tenant had paid him the year before, so that the owner could not know for a year there was going to be default. If he has to go to court, another six months will elapse, so that really two years will be due before anything more can be done.

The Minister has suggested that where delays have taken place they have been due to the vendor. How, in all conscience, could they be due to him? Is it not to his interest to speed up things as much as possible, knowing that he is going to suffer if the proceedings are not expedited? I suggest that the delay is with the Land Commission or with the payer of the grant. It is due to some cause over which the vendor has no control, and, therefore, four years may easily run —three years for certain—from the date of lodgment to the appointed day. The three years run, but nothing is allowed for the two years previous which could not have been avoided. That is all I have to say on this. As I have said, I have been fighting these Land Acts during the 16 years I have been a member of the House, and have got quite hardened to the kind of refusals I have received from the Minister.

Mr. Boland: Information on Gerald Boland  Zoom on Gerald Boland  Apart from the decision which has been referred to, I can say definitely that there is nothing in the Land Acts to prevent a landlord claiming up to the appointed day. I understand also that in most of these cases that come before the Land Commission—what are known as Section 44 applications—the applicants have been totally unable to pay rent, and that where they were in arrears, the arrears were uncollectable in most [888] cases. I can assure the Seanad that the fact that the Land Commission get as much as they do is really a Godsend for the landlords. That is my information.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Mr. Counihan: Information on John Joseph Counihan  Zoom on John Joseph Counihan  I move amendment No. 11:—

In page 23, Section 39, before sub-section (3), to insert a new sub-section as follows:—

(3) Where the Land Commission propose under the foregoing sub-section, to resume in whole, or in part, any holding vested in them, or in the late Congested Districts Board for Ireland under the Land Purchase Acts, and the owner offers alternative land, and where the Land Commission refuse such offer, the owner shall have a right of appeal to the Appeal Tribunal.

In one particular case it may happen that the Land Commissioners' inspectors would be acting in a way that the Land Commission themselves or the Appeal Tribunal would not consent to, and I think if it was proposed to do a great injustice to a man, to take over the land, that he should have an appeal at least to the Appeal Tribunal on these lines. I cannot understand why the Minister has such an objection to having an appeal to the Appeal Tribunal on any question. It is giving us something which we think would be more just than what we are getting if we feel aggrieved, and I think every citizen has a right to have his appeal from a particular court—the Land Commission—which, to a great extent, is discredited by the landowners of the country. Rightly or wrongly, they believe they are getting very little justice from the Land Commission. Somebody has said that the Appeal Tribunal is simply “a chip of the one block,” but we have a High Court judge on the Appeal Tribunal and it would be some satisfaction, and would allay the fears of landowners whose land may be acquired or resumed, if they had this right of appeal. I think [889] it is just and fair and ask the Minister to accept the amendment.

Mr. Boland: Information on Gerald Boland  Zoom on Gerald Boland  Before the debate begins, may I say it appears to me that both of these points have been settled —both the question of appeal and that of alternative land. One was decided under amendment No 3 and the other under amendment No. 10, in last week's debate. It struck me that this one is scarcely in order. The only thing I can say is what I have said already on both these points, which were decided after a pretty lengthy debate. As I pointed out, the land may be either unsuitable or be in some area where it is of no use to the Land Commission. We actually divided on that issue, and as far as I can see what Senator Counihan is doing now is trying to go back on two decisions that we already reached.

Leas-Chathaoirleach:  This amendment is simply a modification on one point, whereas the former amendment covered appeal on all questions. It is, therefore, in order

Mr. Counihan: Information on John Joseph Counihan  Zoom on John Joseph Counihan  The previous amendment made it compulsory for the Land Commission to acquire land where it was alternative land that was offered. They would have no option. In this particular case they have the option of refusing it if it is not suitable The amendment states that where the owner believes it suitable and the Land Commission does not, the only alternative is to go to the higher branch of the Land Commission—the Appeal Tribunal —to finally decide the question. I cannot see anything unreasonable in that. It means asking two other Land Commissioners, with the High Court judge, to decide whether that alternative land, and the choice offered, is suitable for the purpose or not. It seems to me that the Land Commission's case would need to be very bad if they were afraid to go before such a court for final decision.

Leas-Chathaoirleach:  Is the Senator pressing the amendment?

Mr. Counihan: Information on John Joseph Counihan  Zoom on John Joseph Counihan  Would the Minister suggest putting something in?

[890]Mr. Boland: Information on Gerald Boland  Zoom on Gerald Boland  I really cannot. I think we debated it fully and it seems to me that the greater included the lesser. We decided on the question of whether there should be an appeal or not and also as to alternative land. The arguments I used then are applicable still and my only answer would be a repetition.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Leas-Chathaoirleach:  Amendments Nos. 12, 13 and 17 might be taken together

Mr. Counihan: Information on John Joseph Counihan  Zoom on John Joseph Counihan  I am not moving amendment No. 12, in consideration of the Government amendment which would be substituted. Might I say a few words on the point now, or wait to hear the Minister?

Leas-Chathaoirleach:  You may speak after the Minister has spoken.

Amendment No. 12 not moved.

Mr. O'Donovan: Information on Sean ODonovan  Zoom on Sean ODonovan  I move amendments Nos. 13 and 17:—

13. In page 23, Section 39, before sub-section (5), to insert a new sub-section as follows:—

(5) It is hereby declared and enacted that whenever the Land Commission resumes a holding or part of a holding, the following provisions apply and shall apply and have effect, that is to say:—

(a) the resumption price of such holding or part of a holding, that is to say, the compensation to be paid therefor by the Land Commission, shall be the market value of the holding or part of a holding so resumed;

(b) Section 43 of the Land Act, 1931, shall apply and have effect in relation to a resumption price fixed under the next preceding paragraph of this sub-section and, for the purpose of such application the words “basis on which resumption prices have heretofore been fixed” in the said Section 43 shall be deemed to mean the market price [891] of the holding or part of a holding so resumed;

(c) where the Land Commission, in pursuance of the next following sub-section of this section, acquires other land from the tenant of the resumed holding, the foregoing provisions of this sub-section shall apply to the price to be paid by the Land Commission for such other land as if such price were a resumption price.

17. In page 24, Section 39, in sub-section (5), in paragraph (b), line 33, and in paragraph (c), line 40, to delete the word “such” and substitute the words “the resumed”.

Mr. Boland: Information on Gerald Boland  Zoom on Gerald Boland  This amendment implements my promise on the Committee Stage. If we accepted the amendment proposed by Senator Counihan, there would be no provision for compensation for disturbance, as is provided for under Section 43 of the 1931 Act. My amendment brings in that, and it is therefore something better than what he proposes himself. In addition to giving a market price, it provides also —as was the practice—to give compensation for disturbance.

Mr. Counihan: Information on John Joseph Counihan  Zoom on John Joseph Counihan  I would like to thank the Minister for the amendment. I am sure we all feel very grateful to him for the way he has met the amendment put forward on this side of the House. His is certainly more comprehensive than the amendment which I was about to propose and it will go some way to reassure the owners of land and will create more confidence regarding their security. As the Minister has gone so far, I would ask him to go a little further, not by way of legislation, but to promise that he would make an order, when land would be acquired or resumed and would go before the Appeal Tribunal for fixing——

Leas-Chathaoirleach:  That is not in the amendment.

Mr. Counihan: Information on John Joseph Counihan  Zoom on John Joseph Counihan  I am talking about the question of procedure regarding [892] valuation. Would he promise that he would have the land inspector who made the valuation go before the court to be examined as to his competency and the reasons why he arrived at such a valuation? That is the procedure in all courts when valuations are being made. The inspector or valuer who valued the property is sworn on oath as to his valuation. The procedure in this particular case would be that the inspector would go down the country, value a farm, and send up his valuation to the Land Commission. That valuation is made on some rule of thumb and the Land Commissioners have no knowledge of the farm at all except what the inspector reports. The valuation is possibly raised 5 or 6 per cent. more than the valuation sent up by the inspector, it goes on to the Appeal Tribunal and perhaps the Appeal Tribunal, without any expert evidence before them, have to judge on the side of the Land Commission and come to the conclusion which decides the valuation.

I say that it would be very much more equitable, and a better way of deciding the valuation of the acquired property if the Land Commission's inspector who valued the land should come to the courts to give evidence there on oath regarding the value—and the manner at which he arrived at it— in the case of the particular farm regarding which the Appeal Tribunal was deciding. There is no necessity for legislation on the point. If the Minister will give some assurance that such a procedure will be followed, it will be very reassuring to people whose land is going to be taken to know that they will get more justice before an Appeal Tribunal when the price of their land is being assessed.

Mr. Baxter: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  It is only fair to the Minister to say that we appreciate his action in introducing this amendment. My own feeling and, I think, the feeling of the House, and the country generally, will be that, as a result of this action, he has considerably changed the mental attitude of our people towards this problem of the resumption of land for the purpose of the relief of congestion. There is no [893] doubt whatever that there was, and still is, a feeling of unrest about this whole problem of land tenure, and it was gravely accentuated by the consideration that a man could have his land taken over by the Land Commission, and goodness only knew what he would have in his pocket after it was taken over. So far as tenanted land is concerned, the Minister is changing that position by this amendment, and when the Minister is prepared to approach the problem in that way, it is only fitting that proper appreciation of his attitude should be shown. So far as the Senators on this side are concerned, they are immensely relieved by the Minister's action. They also appreciate the attitude of a number of Senators on the other side, like Senator O'Callaghan, Senator O'Dwyer and others, who expressed their point of view and helped to bring about this situation.

I think there will be very favourable reactions as a result of the introduction of the amendment. No doubt, it would have been better if the Minister had gone the whole way and had applied the amendment to other lands as well as those which come specifically within the sub-section. He has spoken of 600,000 acres as apparently the approximate total which is to be available for the relief of congestion. I do not know how much of that he would divide between holdings which would come within this sub-section and the other land which may not be treated in this fashion, and had the Minister been able to go all the way and apply the sub-section generally, it would have been better; but there is no doubt that this is a considerable improvement on the measure as we found it. The Minister is deserving of every commendation he gets for what he has done, and it will be appreciated, both by members of the House and by the public outside.

Sir John Keane: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  I want to ask the Minister a question on a matter of which I have given him private notice, so to speak. I should like to know whether he proposes to differentiate between resumed holdings, that is, holdings paying an annuity, and holdings [894] which are freeholds, having been through the machinery of the Land Acts. At any time a judicial tenant has been able to redeem his land annuity, and, under the earlier Acts, the Ashbourne Acts, I think the annuities are run off, or very shortly to be run off. In many cases, as a result of either of those two operations, you find an ordinary small farmer in possession of freehold land which has passed through the machinery of the Land Acts. Surely that land is in a totally different category from that of the untenanted land of big men. Is the same price in acquisition going to be given to those people, who are ordinary working farmers and not essentially different from annuitants, as is given to annuitants? Although we cannot get an amendment in at this stage, I ask the Minister to consider it and to give an indication as to what the policy of the Land Commission is in a matter of the kind.

Mr. MacDermot: Information on Frank McDermot  Zoom on Frank McDermot  I suggest to the Minister that the point which Senator Sir John Keane has raised is one of very great importance. The number of people to whom it is of interest may not be enormous, but it is a point which definitely affects the question of justice to a deserving class of people. I think he ought all the more to consider what Senator Sir John Keane has said, if he remembers that people who have bought out their land entirely and acquired freehold under the Land Acts are the one class of farmers who acquired land under the Land Acts who received no benefit whatever from the reduction of annuities, so that they have to suffer all the disadvantages of the so-called economic war, without receiving any of the compensations.

Mr. Boland: Information on Gerald Boland  Zoom on Gerald Boland  As that matter deals with acquired holdings, I did not think it would be relevant to the section, which deals entirely with resumption. I understood that the debate would be confined to resumed holdings. As I said on Second Reading, one of the reasons for bringing in the Bill was the decision given in the Potterton case where the Land Commission proposed the resumption of a holding. [895] A certain decision was given, and, arising out of it, and out of another decision of the Judicial Commissioners in respect of a quorum of commissioners, the Bill was rendered necessary. If I may say something on it, now that it has been raised, I do not think there will be much difference in actual practice. The formula laid down for dealing with holdings of the type which Senator Sir John Keane mentioned was laid down in the 1923 Act. I understand the words were actually the words of the late Minister for Agriculture, that the price ought to be fair to the owner and to the Land Commission. That is the formula on which they worked, but when it comes down to actual brass tacks, it has to be settled and the place to settle it is a court. There is an Appeal Tribunal to decide these questions.

Senator Counihan has suggested that I should give some instructions, but I cannot instruct the Appeal Tribunal, which is a court presided over by a High Court judge. I have no authority whatever to interfere in the matter. That court, however, has its own assessor and, presumably, so have the people whose land is in question. They can produce all the evidence they wish to show that their land is worth more than the Land Commission proposes to pay. If the court, which will act independently, are not satisfied with the Land Commission's valuer's estimate, they can send down their own valuer. I believe they have done so, and do so constantly. You have there then a proper court of appeal on the very important point of price. How you can improve on that by any form of words, I do not know. Whether you call it “market value” or “fair to the owner and to the Land Commission,” when you have machinery for appeal, with both sides sending down a valuer, I cannot see what difference the form of words is going to make. It works down to a question of each side proving its case, of the Land Commission convincing the Appeal Tribunal that they are right, or the owner convincing them that he [896] is not being paid a fair price. I do not know how you can possibly improve on that by any form of words.

Amendments agreed to.

Professor Johnston: Information on Joseph Johnston  Zoom on Joseph Johnston  I move amendment No. 14:—

In page 23, Section 39, sub-section (5), to delete all words from and including the words “the amount”, in line 52, to and including the word “holding”, in line 59, and substitute therefor the words “it is being worked in accordance with proper methods of husbandry”.

I brought forward this amendment in good faith in an effort to meet the point of view expressed by the Minister, while, at the same time, effecting an improvement in the wording of the Bill from my point of view. In the course of the Second Reading debate, the Minister gave assurances that even a grass farm if properly worked according to the Department's meaning of the term “properly worked”, will not be interfered with. The Minister also asserted, very strongly, that he and his Department were not out to abolish large farms as such, but that their primary object was to relieve congestion. This amendment is an effort on my part to enable the Minister to implement those promises which I am sure he gave in good faith. I know Ministerial assurances and I have reason to believe that one ounce of legislation is worth a ton of Ministerial assurances, however much they may have been given in good faith. As the Minister himself has pointed out more than once, when this Bill has become law, the working of it will be to a large extent in the hands of the Land Commission, who are a semi-judicial body, with the details of whose work the Minister cannot and dare not interfere. Consequently there is all the more reason as to why the Act itself should contain such provision as would ensure that the Land Commission will not do any injury to the agricultural economy of the country in its efforts to further legitimate objects. Briefly, the object of this amendment is to substitute for the long-winded and rather unintelligible [897] form of words in the original draft a simple statement that in any case where the holding is worked in accordance with the proper methods of husbandry, such holding shall not be resumed except for the purpose of the relief of local congestion.

I think there is every sympathy in every part of the House with all parts of the Land Commission's work which are specially related to the problem of the relief of congestion especially congestion in what were formerly known as the congested districts. We admit that the nation has special obligations to the people living in the congested districts in the West and that the work of the Land Commission in attempting to make their farms more economic has been work which was well worth doing and is well worth completing. At the same time we have to ensure in the general work of dividing lands that no permanent injury is done to the national economy or to its agricultural foundations. A right attitude to this consideration of “proper methods. of husbandry” would go a long way to ensure that in no case would any farm, large or small, be put out of commission and divided up, if that farm were worked in accordance with proper methods of husbandry.

It has been asserted in this House that land is in a different category from other forms of property; that assertion has been denied with equal vigour and equal good faith by other Senators, perhaps more on this side of the House than on the other. My own opinion is that land resembles other forms of fixed assets in some important respects and that it differs from them in some other important respects. I would say first of all that the nation has a very special interest in the proper working of every portion of land which is fit for cultivation at all. When I say “cultivation” I include grazing as a form of the use of the land which I refer to generally by the use of the term “cultivation”. Because if land is not worked in accordance with “proper methods of husbandry”, that particular portion of the nation's assets is not yielding its full quota to the national wealth and [898] to that extent the nation is impoverished. I readily admit that; whereas in the case of a factory or any such fixed asset if any person owning such fixed asset will not work it and make use of it to its full productive capacity, the gap will be filled by the owners of other factories or fixed assets, so that there is a national interest in ensuring that every portion of the nation's land should yield an adequate contribution to the national agricultural wealth.

The term or phrase “in accordance with proper methods of husbandry” is taken by me from Section 31 of the Land Act of 1923. That section in that Act of 1923 refers specially to the case of allottees who have provisionally obtained allotments from the Land Commission and who must show cause in the course of the next few years why they should have their title to the farm confirmed. In that case the Act goes on to say that unless the land is being worked “in accordance with proper methods of husbandry” such land may be resumed by the Land Commission. That simple form of words already applies to the case of allottees, and I suggest that what is sauce for the allottees' goose should be sauce for the large holder's gander. The same form of words should be used in both cases and it is infinitely preferable to the form of words, which occurs in the original draft.

I come now to the unsatisfactory character of that form of words. The words I propose to leave out are:—

“... the amount of congestion and of unemployment existing in the district in which such holding is situate and in the country generally, and the desirability of increasing the production of food supplies, an adequate amount of agricultural products is being produced on such holding and an adequate amount of employment (including in such amount the employment of any relatives of the tenant of such holding who are permanently employed thereon) is being provided on such holding.”

These phrases occur in the part of the [899] clause which I propose to leave out. I submit that the phrases therein do not contain the satisfactory tests or what one might call the criteria of good farming and are not to be preferred to the simple test “proper methods of husbandry” which I propose to substitute for the words to be deleted.

To begin with, the existing form of words in the section seems to make the owner of a large holding responsible in some curious way for unemployment, not only in his own district, but in the country generally. It is surely no part of the obligation of any holder of land that he should solve the problem of unemployment generally. Further it seems to imply that the only object of agricultural production is “food supplies”, and it seems to leave out the fact that there are such things as wool which is not a food supply and such things as flax which is not a food supply, and yet the production of these is a proper object of husbandry. It seems to imply that there are no such things as horses—riding horses or racing horses. I may remind the House that the production of horses of that kind amounted to £2,000,000 in a total agricultural output of £60,000,000 eight or ten years ago. It seems to leave out that the production of horse flesh, not for eating, is an object of agriculture which I hope will be maintained and extended in the future. The definition of agricultural employment in that clause leaves out of account certain parts of agriculture which we would do well not to forget. Further, the clause as it now stands suggests that the owner of a large holding should employ the maximum amount of labour and should give an adequate amount of employment. I do not in the least know what is meant by the phrase “an adequate amount of labour”. If you ask for a scientific definition of “an adequate amount of labour” in any enterprise it would be I suppose this: that the marginal cost resulting from the employment of the last labourer taken on should be exceeded somewhat by the marginal return attributable to the employment of that last labourer.

[900] Now, every enterpriser, whether he be a farmer or a factory owner, has an obvious interest in extending the employment of labour up to the point at which the marginal return begins to fall short of the additional expense he may incur by taking on additional labour. His ordinary self-interest dictates that he should extend employment up to that point. Is it suggested in this clause that he should extend the employment of labour beyond the point at which that holds good? Is it suggested that he should extend the employment of labour to a point at which the cost he incurs by employing additional labour exceeds any possible return which he can obtain by the employment of that additional labour? If that is the suggestion, then it simply amounts to an invitation, or if you like a compulsion, on the part of the State, addressed to large farmers that they should, out of their own pockets and their own profits, subsidise the employment of labour—a job which belongs to the community as a whole and which can in no wise be imposed on any single individual or set of individuals in the community.

Obviously, the criterion of good husbandry is similar to the criterion of any other form of economic enterprise and that is, that the persons concerned should be able to make a living, including in that term both the profit of the landowner as well as the wage of the wage earners. Any form of legislation which seeks to cut that margin of profit or which threatens to wipe out that margin of profit, is bound to defeat its own ends and, instead of increasing the volume of employment, will in the long run diminish it. In fact, it is quite incompatible with the existing economy in which the profit motive is all-important in every branch of economic activity. By the principle, which seems to be implicit in this clause, that employment should be extended beyond the limit of profitableness to the private enterpriser, you are in fact introducing a principle incompatible with the existing economic system, the logical outcome of which can be only a system of State Socialism or Bolshevism.

[901] There is also implied in this clause the rather naive belief that the mere dividing up of land will have the effect of reducing the volume of unemployment in the country as a whole. But there is no piece of evidence, with which I am familiar, or indeed existing anywhere, that the problem of unemployment has in any way been reduced or made less difficult by the division of land that has hitherto taken place. In fact—it would take too long to develop the argument—in my view the problem of unemployment is more likely to be aggravated than solved by the continued and too-far carried process of agricultural sub-division. Our agricultural economy as a whole is interdependent and the nation needs farms of every size, large and small. In various seen and unseen ways, the welfare of each section of the agricultural economy is dependent on the welfare of the whole of that economy. I shall not develop that point now, out of regard for the time of the House, but if any Senator is sufficiently interested, he will find the subject dealt with in evidence which I have prepared for the Agricultural Commission. Might I suggest that the Minister is rather inclined to overlook or ignore this point of view?

The Minister appears to have developed a kind of passion for cutting things into small pieces, for shattering something which already exists and rebuilding it nearer to his heart's desire. I am reminded of the kind of thing that happens sometimes when a small boy acquires a toy, a watch or that kind of thing. He, first of all, works it in accordance with its nature. He then proceeds to disembowel it, to tear it to pieces to see how it works, and in the end the only thing he sees is that it does not work at all. He has not the ability to put it together again, so as to make it a working organism. That kind of danger seems to threaten our agricultural economy as a whole. When we have a small boy of that kind his affectionate relations say of him that it is a matter of insatiable scientific curiosity, that one day he will add to the body of objective truth and be a credit to his family, but other friends looking on put perhaps a different and [902] a rather less polite interpretation on his proceedings and they say that he has a thoroughly destructive instinct and that when he grows up, he is likely to be a danger to himself and to society. Now, I do not want to press the analogy too hard or to suggest that what the Minister has been doing is what the small boy with the watch has been doing, but I would implore the Minister to find some other outlet for his destructive scientific curiosity besides this excessive cutting up of land and this possible destruction of our agricultural economy.

Before I conclude, I should like to bring before the Minister's knowledge one or two actual cases in point in which farms that were being worked in accordance with proper methods of husbandry were acquired and destroyed in the processes of acquisition, so far as the real and the permanent interests of the nation were concerned. The Minister is constantly challenging people to bring forth cases in point, and I am glad to be able to answer this challenge. If he will refer to the Irish Times of the 21st July, 1939, he will find a signed letter giving details of what has been happening on a certain estate in the County Meath or County Kildare, where formerly a herd of pure-bred cattle was maintained and on which employment was given, where the land has been divided up and the pure-bred herd of cattle dispersed, with results injurious to the neighbourhood and, I think, much more injurious to the nation as a whole:

“I personally”—

I am quoting from the letter—

“know of one case where a large landowner, a breeder of one of the finest pure-bred herds in the country, was notified that a large portion of his land, certainly not the worst of it, was to be acquired. He pointed out that the loss of this land would make it impossible to carry on the herd, but to no avail. Here was a case of a tillage farm, run on first-class lines, raising a first-class asset for the country, employing a large amount of labour, and the owner driven to disperse the herd and give [903] up the whole farm. Incidentally, in this first-class tillage and breeding stock farm, not a sod has been turned since it was taken over two years ago.”

Now, the Minister can verify the particulars contained in that letter. I have no reason whatever to doubt that they are substantially accurate, and, if so, they constitute the case of a farm run in accordance with proper methods of husbandry, which in its former condition was a national asset, and which is now a national liability.

Mr. Boland: Information on Gerald Boland  Zoom on Gerald Boland  Might I ask the Senator whether the correspondent gave his name?

Professor Johnston: Information on Joseph Johnston  Zoom on Joseph Johnston  The name of the person is signed to the foot of the letter, and the address is given too. I have not got his authority to mention it in this House, but the Minister can refer to it in the Irish Times. Another estate has recently come before my personal notice—it may or may not be the estate referred to in that letter—and that is, the Craig-Waller estate near Navan, which I believe comprised some 800 acres, and on which I am told some 30 or 40 people were formerly employed. The owner of that estate maintained a pure-bred herd of Hereford cattle, and was well known throughout the country for the quality of his stock, which took prizes at many shows. That land has been acquired for division, and the whole enterprise associated with that most valuable activity has been destroyed, and the herd dispersed. I think no worse disservice could have been done to the permanent agricultural welfare of the country than the destruction of such a valuable enterprise. The Minister can verify the particulars with reference to that estate too. It is to prevent that kind of thing from happening—to prevent the taking over of land which is being run in accordance with proper methods of husbandry—that I would ask the Minister, if he has any affection for the country, and I believe he has, to accept this amendment.

[904] Finally, who will guard the guardians? I am told of another case in which land in the County Dublin, effectively in the ownership of the State—not of the Minister's Department—the Lusk Remount Farm, was let for a number of years and used for growing wheat. The person taking it at a rent grew wheat on the same land year after year, and now the land is productive only of weeds. The local people there who grow vegetables and early potatoes would not say “thank you” for that land, which is now back in the hands of the State. I think the State should set an example of good husbandry, as well as enforcing good husbandry in the case of the people who are owners of land. In the absence of good husbandry you are going to have a situation in which the farmers will be tempted to draw or overdraw on the fertility of the soil, and to make a temporary cash profit by letting down the permanent fertility of their land. That situation is a much more serious one from the long term point of view than even a situation in which our farmers should increase their financial liabilities in order to maintain the fertility of their land, for whatever may be the case about benevolent creditors it is quite certain that, if we practise husbandry of such a kind that we exhaust the fertility of the soil, that debt will be claimed by the soil, and will be paid for not only by the farmers concerned but by the nation as a whole.

In conclusion, I would ask the Minister to accept this amendment, which I bring forward in all good faith as an effort on my part to meet the point of view which he has expressed so eloquently in the course of those debates. I commend this amendment to the House, and I think that if it be adopted it will go far, in conjunction with existing concessions, to restore some element of confidence and enterprise to our farmers. I think public policy requires that we should do everything possible to improve the morale of our agriculturists, both large and small, because on them and on their activity and enterprise depends in the next five or ten years the extent to which the wealth of the nation can be increased.

[905]Mr. MacDermot: Information on Frank McDermot  Zoom on Frank McDermot  I have listened with a great deal of sympathy to much of what Senator Johnston has said, but I feel some doubt as to whether his amendment has the importance he thinks it has, because the choice is not between leaving the individual landholder a completely free hand and leaving the Land Commission with the powers that it is proposed it shall have under this Bill. Under Senator Johnston's amendment the Land Commission will still have practically the same power, and I am not satisfied that there is all the difference that Senator Johnston seems to think there is between “proper methods of husbandry” and the formula that is already enshrined in this section. It is not even clear to me that the landholder may not be a bit safer under the Bill as it stands than under the Bill as it would be if amended in the sense which Senator Johnston suggests. The considerations which he has pressed upon the Minister are not being pressed by any means for the first time. When the Land Bill of 1933 was under discussion in the Dáil, practically all that Senator Johnston said to-day was said very strongly by many of those taking part in the debate. It was in consequence of those considerations that the form of words which we find in this Bill was put into the Land Bill of 1933 as a concession by the Government, and a concession for which I may say we were very grateful at the time. I remember pointing out during the debate that in my own constituency the man who gave probably the largest amount of employment in agriculture was a man who had 1,000 acres of land, of which scarcely any was tilled. He did, in fact, employ about 50 men. I asked if it was the Government's intention that such a man should be disturbed because the farm was as large as 1,000 acres, and because there was little or no tillage on it, and I was assured most emphatically by the present Minister for Defence, who was in charge of the Bill at that time, that there was no such intention—that the Government would encourage instead of discourage such a man.

Senator Johnston has referred to [906] certain cases in which the Government do not seem to have fulfilled that pledge if the facts as he gives them are correct, but I submit that the same possibility would continue even if Senator Johnston's amendment were accepted, and that the interpretation of what proper methods of husbandry are must still be left in the same hands in which the interpretation of the present formula is left. Consequently, if anything is wrong, what is needed is that the Land Commission should be reinspired with the principles which the Minister said six years ago were going to direct them in their conduct.

Mr. O'Callaghan: Information on William OCallaghan  Zoom on William OCallaghan  I did not intend to speak on this amendment, but Senator Johnston made some statements, about the truth of which I am very doubtful. He referred to a large estate in Kildare, where there was a pure bred herd, which had been acquired by the Land Commission, and he led the House to infer that the land was first acquired and the herd then dispersed. I think I can place that estate, and I think I can place the herd. Senator Johnston quoted a letter from the Irish Times, and put that before the House as verification of his statements.

Professor Johnston: Information on Joseph Johnston  Zoom on Joseph Johnston  Might I interrupt to point out that I invited the Minister to verify the statement. I merely gave him the means of doing it.

Mr. O'Callaghan: Information on William OCallaghan  Zoom on William OCallaghan  Every small boy in this country knows that what he reads in the paper is not the truth, and Senator Johnston should be a little more careful than to lead the House away on a letter of that kind in the Irish Times. The Irish Times is not any more truthful than the Press generally——

Mr. Douglas: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  The Irish Press?

Mr. O'Callaghan: Information on William OCallaghan  Zoom on William OCallaghan  ——and the truth in the Press generally is not of a very high standard. I know that the herd to which Senator Johnston refers was dispersed about 12 years ago; it might be more, but it is at least that. I am speaking from memory, but I was at the dispersal sale of that herd and I [907] know it took place long before this Government came into office. Therefore, Senator Johnston cannot lay any blame on this Government, at any rate, for what happened in that case.

Senator Johnston referred to large, small, and middle-sized farms. I agree absolutely that that is the proper thing; it was always the case, and it should be so in future. But the large farmer who gives no employment will get no sympathy, I think, even from Senator Johnston; he certainly will get no sympathy from the people of the country generally. It is a sad sight to see a large farmer giving no employment. The Minister is aiming in this Bill at planting the people thickly on the land. In doing that he will have the sympathy of every right-minded person. The Minister has now included in this Bill a section in connection with the market value of land. As one of those who appealed to him on that question, I have to thank him for that. Putting that in the Bill will allay a great many fears and doubts and will give the Bill a better flavour and a better odour. On behalf of those on this side of the House who appealed to him in connection with that, I wish to express my gratitude to him.

Mr. Counihan: Information on John Joseph Counihan  Zoom on John Joseph Counihan  I support the amendment proposed by Senator Johnston. The amendment is only putting into words what has been said on all the stages of the Bill in this and in the other House by the Minister. The Minister went further and said that even moderately worked land would not be taken. Senator Johnston wants to put in a definition of the sort of farm that should not be taken. Senator MacDermot says that it would leave the farmer more insecure than he is with all the restrictions which are in the Bill. I wonder has Senator MacDermot read sub-section (5) which states:—

Where the Lay Commissioners (other than the members of the Appeal Tribunal) are satisfied in respect of a holding that, having regard to the area, situation, and character of such holding, the amount of congestion and of unemployment [908] existing in the district in which such holding is situate and in the country generally, and the desirability of increasing the production of food supplies, an adequate amount of agricultural products is being produced on such holding ...

If any farmer went before the Appeal Tribunal, the Land Commission, under that section, could say that there were several things he was not doing. This amendment would make it very definite. The farmer could say that he was working his land according to proper methods of husbandry and that if it was not wanted for the relief of congestion he was entitled to hold it. They could get the experts to say whether that farm was worked according to proper methods of husbandry or not. I cannot understand Senator MacDermot when he says that these provisions are a greater safeguard.

Mr. MacDermot: Information on Frank McDermot  Zoom on Frank McDermot  There is the possibility that an unscrupulous Land Commissioner or member of the tribunal might say that anything was not according to the proper methods of husbandry. He might have a very narrow idea as to what proper methods of husbandry are. Under the Bill as it stands there is a limit to what he can rule out.

Mr. Counihan: Information on John Joseph Counihan  Zoom on John Joseph Counihan  Proper methods of husbandry, I think, can be very easily defined. At all events, Senator Johnston thinks that this is a sounder formula, and I agree with him that it is a better definition of the way land should be worked. I think everything that can be said about the amendment was said already by Senator Johnston. It would not be very much of a concession to accept the amendment, because it is what the Minister has been saying all the time that he wants done, and that land will not be acquired if it is worked in that particular way.

Mr. Boland: Information on Gerald Boland  Zoom on Gerald Boland  Senator MacDermot's recollection is quite correct on the matter. This formula was only arrived at after long and keen debate and actually was put into this Bill after very strong exception was taken [909] to Section 39 as it stood. It was put in as a further concession to protect resumed holdings, which I said were protected. I was asked to see that some definite provision was put in to assure people that resumed holdings were protected, and I actually took the words from the 1933 Act and put them into this section as a protection for unvested holdings which was already enjoyed by vested holdings. I think there is no doubt whatever that the amendment would be much wider and would give room for all sorts of interpretations. I do not think it is as satisfactory at all.

On the other points raised, I do not know about the herd that Senator O'Callaghan referred to, but he seems to have all the information about it. I do know, however, about the Craig-Waller estate. I think I did mention on, some stage of the Bill that several of these big estates which were taken over and to which we had brought migrants had been offered voluntarily to the Land Commission. That was the case in connection with the Craig-Waller estate also. The fact is that the owner, for reasons best known to himself—whether financial or otherwise, I am not going to say—offered the estate to the Land Commission and it was the subject of voluntary proceedings. When that was the case, surely we are not to blame for scattering a herd, any more than in the case of the Major Gerrard estate in County Meath, where I believe there were hundreds of people employed when things were going well with the owner. When the place became almost derelict were we to leave it that way? As a matter of fact, we did the owner a good turn. I understand that we did a good turn to the owner of the Craig-Waller estate also by taking it over.

The only objection I have to cases like that being raised is that I notice that when it comes to reporting them in the Press my reply on these matters scarcely ever gets any publicity, whereas the charges made—I suppose I shall have to put up with that—take up a whole column, and I believe it is spread throughout the country that the Land Commission have destroyed estates of that kind, done away with [910] employment, and put the State to all sorts of expense in bringing migrants up from other parts of the country when, as a matter of fact, the owners were unable to carry on the estates and we came in, as Senator Johnston said we ought to do. I am glad that the Senator admits that there is a difference between landed and other property and that the State has a right to see that it is not let go derelict. That is probably what would have happened to some estates that we took over and that are now being worked very well. This particular estate has not yet been divided; others like it have been and they are being well worked. I hope the same thing will be true of this Craig-Waller estate. I am not sure about the herd, but I shall try to find out. I imagine that, when Senator O'Callaghan was able to tell as that he was at a sale where a valuable dairy herd was dispersed, it is probably the same case. I should like to say again in connection with that challenge of mine, that the Land Commission has not taken any holding which was moderately worked, except where there is local congestion, and in that case an alternative holding is given. I have no more to say except that I am satisfied that the form of words taken from the 1933 Act are better than the form suggested by the Senator.

Professor Johnston: Information on Joseph Johnston  Zoom on Joseph Johnston  I think it was worth while ventilating these ideas, even though the Minister has convinced me, perhaps, that on the whole, with the present machinery of interpretation, it is safer to leave the Bill as it stands, rather than to include a simple formula of the kind I would prefer on logical grounds. After all, the important practical question is: who will interpret the meaning of the phrase. “proper methods of husbandry”? Since the Minister has been successful in sweeping away all our efforts to secure responsible, expert and impartial interpretation of matters of fact, as well as matters of law, we had better leave this rather long-winded clause, which does, perhaps, provide greater safety in existing circumstances than my simple formula would. The Minister mentioned that the Craig-Waller [911] estate was voluntarily offered to the Land Commission. In fact, I am amazed at the number of people who are tumbling over each other to give away their land to the Land Commission. I do not doubt the truth of the statement in this case, but in interpreting the meaning of the word “voluntary” I would like to know a lot more about the psychology of the volunteers before arriving at the conclusion that the Minister and his policy are quite free from all responsibility in the matter. After all, if you produce a situation, as certain economic policies pursued have produced, in which large-scale farming as such is penalised, you undoubtedly create in the owners of large farms a disposition to get out of large farming at all costs, or at any cost, and that, I suspect, is the real financial background of the holdings surrendered, of which we heard so much. The Minister conveyed, at one time, the impression that the Land Commission could get, almost without asking, estate after estate, voluntarily surrendered by the former owners, and, at the same time, he comes to the Oireachtas demanding further powers of compulsory acquisition. If he can get so many vast estates almost without asking, where is the need for all the compulsory acquisition of land, and for fresh powers to compel owners to surrender land for the purposes of the State? In the circumstances, I do not propose to press the amendment, but I am glad to have had the opportunity of rubbing some home truths into the Minister.

Mr. Boland: Information on Gerald Boland  Zoom on Gerald Boland  I hope I rubbed in one home truth, that a lot of these estates were handed over. It would not be right for me to say what the circumstances of these people were, but I have been nearly drawn to do so by the Senator's remarks. I refrained from doing so. I asked him if he tried to find out what the position of a lot of these people was before this occurred.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Counihan: Information on John Joseph Counihan  Zoom on John Joseph Counihan  I move amendment No. 15:—

[912] In page 24, Section 39, sub-section (5) (a), after the word “schools”, in line 6, to insert the words “or resume such holding or part thereof, for any purpose for which there is already compulsory power in any local authority to acquire such land”.

The object of this amendment is to keep the Land Commission to its own job, and from coming in and acquiring land at a cheap price where there is already compulsory power in local authorities. I think everybody sees the justice of that, if land is wanted for parks, for playgrounds or for building houses. The owners of land should be allowed to use this machinery for the purpose of getting the proper value for any land that is acquired. The Minister may tell us that the Land Commission will not acquire land where the local authorities have this power, but if that is the case let it be so stated in the Bill, and thus stop all discussion.

Mr. Boland: Information on Gerald Boland  Zoom on Gerald Boland  The only purposes for which the Land Commission can acquire land are set out in the Bill. I cannot understand the amendment or what precisely is meant by it. What does the Senator wish to have taken out?

Mr. Counihan: Information on John Joseph Counihan  Zoom on John Joseph Counihan  Parks.

Mr. Boland: Information on Gerald Boland  Zoom on Gerald Boland  That matter is covered already. We had an amendment on the Committee Stage by Senator the McGillycuddy of the Reeks, seeking to delete the power to take over parks, and it was withdrawn. Local authorities may acquire land for any purpose. I do not think this amendment is definite enough.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Counihan: Information on John Joseph Counihan  Zoom on John Joseph Counihan  I move amendment No. 16:—

In page 24, Section 39, sub-section (5) (b) (iii), after the word “pounds” in line 16, to insert the words “in a congested district, and four thousand pounds in other districts.”

When discussing this matter on the Committee Stage the Minister said [913] that the proposal would be hampering the Land Commission too much, and that £4,000 worth of land in a congested district would be unreasonable, and perhaps not easy to find for a person whose land would be taken. I pointed out on that occasion that £4,000 worth of land in other districts, such as Leinster, might only mean 40 acres. The Minister agreed with me that 40 or 50 acres would be an unreasonable amount, if land was being taken over. It is to meet the suggestion of the Minister that I put down the amendment. I think the proposal will go far to meet the wishes of most people, by having £4,000 all round, as in the Land Act of 1923.

Mr. Boland: Information on Gerald Boland  Zoom on Gerald Boland  On the Commitee Stage of this Bill Senator MacDermot asked me to examine the possibility of guaranteeing, say, a certain amount of land. He pointed out that cash might be depreciated or something of that kind. I have examined the matter and I do not think it is possible to do it. Senators must remember that most of these holdings we are taking up are small holdings in congested areas. Where there is local congestion land is taken up for the purpose of relieving that congestion and a £2,000 farm in one of those other counties, in all the circumstances that we are aware of, would be quite adequate. It is not a question of taking up thousands of acres or anything of that kind. It is only a well-worked holding that will qualify for exchange. That has got to be borne in mind. Where it is considered necessary to resume one of these holdings the value up to £2,000 and the remainder in bonds, if the farm is worth it, is considered to be reasonable. I tried to find some better way out of it in the interval since the Committee Stage but I have not succeeded. I think £4,000 would be altogether unreasonable. [914] We might not be able to get such a farm. There are very few of them as far as we are aware and we have a good idea of where such farms are. We have not taken any yet under the powers we have, as I think I mentioned on the Committee Stage. It would be difficult in some circumstances to get a holding big enough. We think £2,000 will give a reasonably good holding in any part of the country and, if it is worth more, bonds would be given in addition. I am sorry I cannot meet the Senator on that point but I really cannot do it.

Mr. Counihan: Information on John Joseph Counihan  Zoom on John Joseph Counihan  When this clause was inserted in the 1923 Land Act the reason which the then Minister put forward for having such a clause was that in the congested districts he might want to take up a farm and induce the owner of that farm to migrate to Leinster or another part of the country.

Mr. Boland: Information on Gerald Boland  Zoom on Gerald Boland  That is right.

Mr. Counihan: Information on John Joseph Counihan  Zoom on John Joseph Counihan  I think that is one of the reasons for its insertion. I know a number of people who did migrate who got more than £4,000 worth of land. £4,000 worth of land was taken from them in the West, and they got £4,000 worth of land in Leinster. If the Minister takes power now so that he can take £4,000 worth of land from a man in the West of Ireland and give him land bonds and only £2,000 worth of land in Leinster I think it is grossly unfair. I think that the Minister, in justice to the man that he would be migrating from a congested district, should guarantee to him the same amount of land, up to £4,000, as he is taking from him in another district. If the Minister cannot see his way to meet it I will press the amendment to a division.

Amendment put.

Baxter, Patrick F.
Butler, John.
Counihan, John J.
Douglas, James G.
Doyle, Patrick.
Fitzgerald, Desmond.
Hayes, Michael.
Johnston, Joseph.
Keane, Sir John.
MacDermot, Frank.
McGee, James T.
Parkinson, James J.

Blaney, Neal.
Byrne, Christopher M.
Campbell, Seán P.
Concannon, Helena.
Corkery, Daniel.
Foran, Thomas.
Goulding, Seán.
Hawkins, Frederick.
Hayes, Seán.
Healy, Denis D.
Hogan, Patrick.
Honan, Thomas V.
Johnston, James.
Kehoe, Patrick.
Kennedy, Margaret L.
Keohane, Patrick T.
Lynch, Eamonn.
Lynch, Peter T.
MacCabe, Dominick.
McEllin, Seán.
Mac Fhionnlaoich, Peadar
(Cú Uladh).
Magennis, William.
Moore, Maurice G.
O'Callaghan, William.
O'Donovan, Seán.
Nic Phiarais, Maighréad M.
Quirke, William.
Robinson, David L.
Ruane, Thomas.
Stafford, Matthew.
Tunney, James.

Amendment declared lost.

Cathaoirleach: Information on Seán Francis Gibbons  Zoom on Seán Francis Gibbons  Amendment No. 17 has already been agreed to, and amendment No. 18 is out of order.

Bill reported with amendments.

Question: “That the Bill, as amended, be received for final consideration”, agreed to.

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

Mr. McGee: Information on James Thomas McGee  Zoom on James Thomas McGee  I desire to make a few remarks with reference to the general trend of the debate. I am delighted that the Minister has gone some little way to meet the views of the people with whom he crossed swords the other evening, and I am quite sure that Senator Counihan and Senator O'Callaghan would not be so luscious in their thanks to the Minister if there was not some little thing in it. With the very conservative mind that I happen to hold, before I would be loud in my approval of what he has done I consider it might be well for me to wait and see how this will work out. If it achieves the things that I have at heart, no one will be better pleased.

There was a question in relation to the Minister the other evening and it was suggested that I might be inclined to misrepresent the situation. Every interest that I have in the world is wrapped up in the success of this measure and in its good administration. I am not here to belittle either the Minister or his Party. If the Minister and his Party sail into the harbour of an independent Ireland in the morning, no one will be happier than I.

In column 784 of the Official Report the Minister is reported as follows:

“Now, on that question as to the rights of property, I want to say that there is undoubtedly a difference between property in land and any other property. There is a difference which has been recognised by this Government, by the Government of which Senator Fitzgerald, who spoke on this matter, was a member, and by the British Government.” I view that statement seriously. My attitude to the whole question is that this is promoting throughout the country a lack of stability. While it was stated in the Dáil and elsewhere that it is in no way responsible for the credit of the country, I can assure Senators that, doing a business that runs into very many pounds, all secured from land, this question of the security of land eats into our economic stability very seriously indeed.

My objections are based on two grounds. First of all, there is the question of price. I hold that the nation is perfectly right to take any land it requires and that no man shall stand in the way of the nation. I also hold that if the nation is to take it, it should be prepared to pay for it. If Dublin Corporation require to take the Metropole or the Shelbourne Hotel, it should pay for them. If it thinks it is for the welfare of the State that it should remove the inhabitants from the slums, the Corporation should do so. hut it should always be prepared [917] to pay, and, if it does not pay, it eats at the root of the stability of the individuals left on the land.

I believe this disturbance in connection with the land will concern over one million acres. There are inhabitants on the remaining eleven million acres and I think there should be something done to see that the whole land question is placed on a solid basis. How are we to go out and buy the cement which Senator Sir John Keane and the other directors are making for us, and why should we clean our drains if, in three or five years' time, some one else will come in and we will not be paid the market value of our land? If there have been any swords crossed by the Minister and myself, it is largely because of matters of that sort.

I object to the system at present in operation. I object to the system whereby inquiries are instituted wholesale throughout the country. To practically every parish inspectors go down and they take statements from the owners' neighbours—professional men, clergymen and everybody. No statement is taken on oath, and no statement is taken from the owner. Eventually he gets his notice and he appeals— and it is here I would beg the attention of the Minister.

The owner of that land appears at No. 23 Merrion Street, and as I told you the other day the effort at justice made by the judges there is admirable, but their hands are tied. Not only are their hands tied, but all that accumulated evidence, taken at the backs of ditches and in every other way that you can imagine, and without the deep thought that the credit of the owner is bound to be affected, is handed in without a solitary bit of evidence in person being given by any valuer on the part of the Land Commission. The only individual in all that court, the only individual who is sworn, the only individual who is suspect, and the only individual who is definitely up against the wall, is the owner of the land.

I submit that if some of the Senators opposite were to see the true meaning of all that that stands for there would be a change in the Administration. I [918] am not blaming the present Administration. I do not for a moment want them to think that, but I do hold that when a man is put up against it in this way and when his whole right to property is being challenged, the individuals representing the State should be there to say what, in their opinion. is the value of the property and how that value is arrived at, and that they, just as well as the owner of the land, should have to face up to it. I hope that I am not unreasonable in this, because I believe that a system can be devised—and we need not wait another 20 years, as we had to wait for the establishment of the Oireachtas— whereby this whole question can be settled satisfactorily to every interest in the State, having regard to two things: first, that the State has a perfect right to take everything for its requirements, and, secondly—and not less in importance than the first point —that there is an absolute duty on the State to pay for it.

Now, on the general outlook of the country in relation to land—and I speak with all respect to the Minister, since I have no interest of my own to serve in the matter, and I know that the Minister has the majority, and Ireland in this regard is his, either to be made or marred, and I am not going to constitute myself as a dam against the onrush of whatever current he wants to bring in—up and down the country to-day you see farmers everywhere crying out their grievances. It cannot be but there are some of their grievances that actually exist and demand redress. I hold that every phase of this land question could be dealt with satisfactorily on the lines of the courts that functioned in the 'eighties or 'nineties, where you had an open court, with the farmer having his right to appeal thereto, sitting in his county and allowing him to exhibit his grievances and to show his difficulties and the difficulties of rearing his family, and show his rates and outgoings. In the past all these things were fixed down to the last threepence in the £ on his valuation, and I hold that these facilities should be placed at the disposal of the farmer to-day, to enable him to prove his necessities, [919] so that he may be driven, not into opposition, but into loyalty and affection to the State.

It looks to-day as if confiscation, naked and unabashed, sits in No. 23 Merrion Street. I have had experience of it. I have quoted instances already, and I know that I have some support on the other side. Not only should the individual have the opportunity of exhibiting his grievances in the local court, but the State should be in a position to examine where exactly he stands in relation to his district, and not only should that farmer be in a position to go there voluntarily, but, if necessary, the State should ask him there. The State, in my opinion, should bring there and examine on oath every applicant for land and, in my opinion, it should satisfy itself on the result of the reports it receives that it is acting justly to every individual in the State.

I have thought out this question at very great length. I know that it is heart-breaking to be on public boards, and more heart-breaking when you come up to No. 23 Merrion Street and see £164 offered for 63 acres. A gentleman who once ruled in Ireland said that there was a good deal of the mule in the Irish farmer, and that the more heavily you loaded him the better he pulled.

Now, we have had Irish Governments here for the last 22 years, and I do not know to which of them, on this question of the land, I am the most opposed. I see Senator Quirke looking at me, and sometimes I am accused of being a first-class politician. Now, politics are all very well, but the question of the land should be above politics. This matter of economic ininstability is ruining the nation that belongs to us all and I submit—and I would ask the Minister to agree with me—that when crossing swords with him, as I was the other day, I was not speaking from the personal viewpoint or looking at this matter from the political point of view at all. I was merely ventilating a grievance and I assure him that, in anything I said, I had no other axe to grind and was [920] merely speaking from the point of view of the interests of the farmers.

Sir John Keane: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  I suppose I must apologise for standing for a few moments between the House and the discussion of terrorist activities that, I understand, is to take place this evening. Personally, however, I do not feel that I have had any need to apologise. This is a far more important matter, and when these terrorist activities are over this land question will still be with us. It is only about every three years or so that we get an opportunity of a very imperfect examination, such as we have in the House, of this problem and of placing, to the best of our ability, our views before the powers-that-be and challenging them to make their case. Then the curtain falls, but we can be sure that in about another three years' time we shall have another Land Bill to redress, in the interests of the majority, any little weaknesses in the law. Never do I see any legislation to correct anything in the interests of the minority. No—never in the interests of the minority, who have been suffering under this legislation right away back to the 'eighties. However, there is a certain satisfaction, in one who has been fighting this losing battle ever since the State was formed, in being able to welcome some new recruits to our ranks—men of the people, and no longer the representatives of the discredited landlords. We have just had a speech from Senator McGee, popularly elected chairman of a county council, and he sees the danger, according to his speech. He, at least, is not tainted in his record.

Then, we had Senator Baxter who, I understand, is a small farmer and living among small farmers, and he sees the danger. I suppose you would discount a self-made man like Senator Counihan who, if he will permit me to say so, has acquired his land as a result of hard and laborious work, spending long nights buying cattle by the light of a candle, or even a match, at fairs. As a result of his hard work he has acquired, and justly acquired, a certain amount of land which he wants to preserve, naturally, but apart [921] from these Senators I notice certain rumblings across the way. Even such a tried politician as Senator O'Callaghan seems to be getting uneasy, and others over there seem to be getting uneasy. They see the writing on the wall and realise that this is only the beginning.

Now, what is it all? This is not a question of politics except in so far as the whole of the land policy is conditioned by politics. There is very definite uneasiness among all people, large and small, as to the future of this land question. Nobody knows when they may become the victim of these arbitrary powers. Senator McGee said that the Government had a perfect right to take land from anybody. I do not quite agree with him on that. Of course, they have a perfect right, as a sovereign Parliament, to do that in law. I suppose they have a perfect right in law to cut off your head, if they like to do so.

In equity, I suppose, they have the right to take land for the relief of congestion, or in other cases where it is being definitely abused, but I submit that the Land Commission should be prepared to submit themselves to the test whether the economics of agriculture, and the productivity of that great industry, are being strengthened, increased or retarded by the use of their powers. First of all, let us take this test of land use. Who are the judges— they are a law entirely to themselves— as to whether land is being properly used or not? Three gentlemen—three civil servants. No doubt, they are absolutely honourable in their intentions, some with, as I have said, a very limited knowledge of practical agriculture. These are men who have—some of them—spent a large portion of their lives in their offices. They probably have never farmed any land themselves, or have never worked on land except as boys, and are not versed in judicial processes. Senator McGee said that when they go to a district they have to listen to the tales of all and sundry. Evidence is not taken before them on oath. They have none of that protection which would be given by the assistance of assessors. We all know that when inquiries of a technical character are being held, it is customary to have [922] an assessor sitting with a judge, if a judge is conducting the inquiry. Surely this is a technical matter, and the commissioners should have the help of assessors. As it is, they have to rely on the light of their own knowledge. Evidence is not given in open court on behalf of an owner as to the methods employed, or as to the justification for saying that the land was not being properly worked.

You have all these matters, of the utmost importance, which affect the security and the interest of individuals, dealt with by one lot of men who are invested with powers such as one might expect to find conferred on a body in some of the totalitarian States in Central Europe. Appeals are not allowed except on two matters, one, on the question of law, which is worthless, because if a decision is given against the Land Commission they get a Bill introduced into the Oireachtas with the object of reversing that decision. The other matter on which there can be an appeal is the question of price. That gives one an indication of the broad gulf that must exist between this primary court, with no pretence to be a court of law, and an appeal tribunal presided over by a High Court judge. As I have just said, the right of appeal on a question of law is worthless, because if a decision is given against the Land Commission they can have it reversed by legislation. On the other matter, the right of appeal on a question of price, let me give some figures. This was a case in which the standard purchase annuity was fixed at £70. What price did the Lay Commissioners fix it at? £40 12s. In that case you had a reduction from £70 to £40 12s. The case went to the Appeal Tribunal, where it was approached in a proper judicial attitude, and where there is the power to sift evidence. Following the appeal there, the figure was restored from £40 12s. to £60. Should not a case of that kind make people concerned about the right of appeal to an appeal tribunal on which there is a High Court judge.

If that is the mentality of the Lay Commissioners on a question of price, is there not good reason for people fearing that you may have the same [923] mentality brought to bear on other questions—the question of acquisition, proper methods of husbandry and the rest. It is because of all that, that you have a feeling of insecurity up and down through the country. I ask Senators to apply a test to themselves. I have said that there is this feeling of insecurity about land. I want Senators to put that to the test. Which of you, I ask, with money to lend out at interest would lend it out on land? I agree that you may lend money on the character of the individual concerned, but which of you would lend money out at interest on land? If the debtor did not pay up, would you go and sell him out? What Senator would lend money on land knowing that an inspector can come down, and that even by looking over the fence or by talking to people around the corner, the value of land can be reduced by 50 per cent.? There is undoubtedly this insecurity that I speak of.

Do not let us humbug ourselves by thinking that, as long as this goes on, there can be anything else in the country but insecurity. I was amazed to hear the Minister making a point about the voluntary offer of big estates to the Land Commission. I happen to know the reason for that. It is the writing on the wall. What has been the inducement to big owners to offer estates to the Land Commission? Has it not been the steady attrition of property in the last 50 years? If landlords had done that years ago they would be in a much happier position than they are in to-day. Many landlords must be sorry—such landlords as remain—that they did not go in the 80's to Mr. Gladstone with a scheme of compulsory purchase and get their land bought out on the basis of the pre-judicial rents. If the landlords had done that then the laugh would be on their side. But for lack of unity they did not do it, and hence they find themselves in the unfortunate position that they are in to-day.

The Minister did not answer a point that I made on the Second Reading of the Bill. It was this: Why does not the Executive Council—because this is not entirely a Land Commission matter [924]—examine the effect of this accumulation of legislation? Why not have an inquiry into the result of this closer settlement, apart from the injustices that have been committed? It is the injustice that is associated with this land question that is creating general insecurity in the country. Tribute was paid to the Minister this evening for accepting two amendments. I am prepared to join in that tribute, though I think the object sought to be achieved in both is absolutely just, and that the amendments could not be objected to on any ground. A statement such as that made by the Minister, that people voluntarily offer their estates, is calculated to create a certain attitude of mind amongst people through the country. The Minister and the Government must know that it is because of the feeling of further insecurity that these offers are made.

I do ask the Minister to take stock of what has been the effect of this closer settlement over a number of years. The Minister quoted certain cases of increased productivity due to the migrants. I do not deny that, because I think the migrants, taken alone, are probably very commendable people for resettlement. They have been accustomed to work hard. They have been hardened with the tang of the sea air and have always had a struggle to exist. I think that something can be said for giving land to men who have had land before, and of giving it for the relief of congestion, But what do we find? We find that a steadily lessening percentage of the land that is being distributed is given to men of that kind, and an increasing percentage to landless men and to the “boyos,” so many of whom you have through the country. They are always ready to get their share of whatever is going through their political affiliations. Only last week-end I was told that great interest was being aroused in a certain district through the circulation of the news that the Land Commission was going to send down a permanent man there. The “boyos” will get active, so that we may expect an agitation, with appeals through the local T.D.s and the local Fianna Fáil clubs to the Minister. Is [925] not that going further to aggravate this insecurity that we have?

That is why I would urge that we should have an independent inquiry into these cases, and see what percentage of the land already allotted is let for grazing a herd of cows, bullocks or a couple of goats. It is a question of scientific inquiry and before we go on aggravating the position we should know where we stand. It is rather galling to be told by the Minister's predecessors that even to have an inquiry established would be a vote of censure on his officials. Surely that is not the spirit. This is a serious problem and until some examination is made of the position it will get steadily worse and worse and will not be confined merely to the privileged few, but the canker will spread.

I have one final word to say regarding the character of this debate. I think that at one time this debate became very unpleasant; the matter was not argued on its merits but on some class allusion. I personally have to resent a statement made—I was not in the House at the time—by Senator Quirke, which I will read from the Official Report of the 13th July, column 449. After alluding to the question of confiscation, he said: “I have always heard it said that people in glasshouses should not throw stones, and if there is any man in this House under glass, as far as confiscation is concerned”—there is a very definite innuendo there—“that man is Senator Sir John Keane. I do not want to be personal”—I do not know what he wanted to be—“but if Senator Sir John Keane does not know the history of the Keane Estate in County Waterford, I would be pleased to supply him with the document.” Note that—“the document.”“I believe if he read it, and if his skin is any way as thin as the average skin in this country, we would hear very little more talk from him about confiscation.” I do not want to justify my family record in the matter of land acquisition. I could do so, but it would not be seemly. But I would be very anxious to know what Senator Quirke's version of the case is and if he would supply me with this document. [926] I have not heard a word from him—except a casual conversation, when I told him that I would bring this matter up. That was a casual conversation ten days ago and I have not heard a word since. With all decency and all respect to the House, I think Senator Quirke should withdraw the imputation that he made.

Mr. Counihan: Information on John Joseph Counihan  Zoom on John Joseph Counihan  I oppose the motion for the passing of the Fifth Stage of this Bill. I oppose it because it is unjust and unfair to land holders, because it is most detrimental to the best interests of the farming community and to the prosperity of the country. I have opposed practically every Land Act which was passed through this House since 1923, except one. I opposed them because they were unjust and unfair, and I will continue opposing them until the Government or some Government feel it their duty to bring in a Bill which will be fair to every class of land holder in this country—the big land holder and the small land holder, the landlord and the congest. Until this is done you will not have land peace or quietness in this country.

I do not think that anything I could say this evening would influence the battalions on the other side to vote against this Bill, so I am not going to detain the House in arguments against it. However, with reference to what Senator Sir John Keane remarked, Senator Quirke at that particular time associated me with Senator Sir John Keane—and in a rather derogatory manner. I want Senator Quirke to understand in the House, here now, in public, that I am very proud to be associated with Sir John Keane in advocating right and justice for every citizen in this country. I have been in this Parliament during the passing of these Land Acts, opposing injustice, but I parted company with Senator Sir John Keane on one Land Act—the O'Higgins Land Act—when I supported that Land Act, as I did not think it would be going too far, no matter how severe the laws which were being administered and no matter how much we were suffering. I knew we would have—as Senator Quirke or Senator McEllin has said—[927] to grin and bear it, yet I felt we ought to grin and bear it before going to any outside authority for redress.

Senator Keane has been recognised by both sides of this House as a very valuable Senator. He has been recognised also by the Prime Minister as a very valuable Senator when he was one of his own nominees for this Seanad and for the last Seanad.

Mr. Quirke: Information on William Quirke  Zoom on William Quirke  First of all, I would like to assure Senator Counihan that I have not the slightest objection to his being associated with Senator Keane, and if he and Senator Keane could hatch out anything useful from the national point of view I would be the first one to give them credit for it. I merely resented their throwing bouquets at one another over the tomb of Oliver Goldsmith in connection with landlordism. I am glad that no further attempt has been made by Senator Counihan to associate Oliver Goldsmith with the policy of landlordism in this country.

In connection with Senator McGee's remarks, God forbid that we should ever see the day when we may have 500,000 applicants for land marching up Mrrion Square so that there will not be room for the rest of us to get into the offices in Merrion Street.

With regard to Senator Keane's statement about my remarks in a previous debate, there is nothing which I said on that occasion that I would take back. If I had any misgivings or any uneasiness as to the truth of what I said, I would certainly be relieved of that uneasiness by the Senator's speech to-day. I am glad that he had sufficient sense of humour to appreciate my remarks when I said that I did not want to be personal. If I did want to be personal, the Senator would be surprised at what I might say, but the fact of the matter was that I did not. I appreciate any good points that Senator Keane may have, just perhaps as well as Senator Counihan, and others I might mention. I will spare them as they are smiling. In any case, I told the Senator in conversation that I hoped to be able to supply him with the documents. I certainly read the documents and I certainly [928] retain what I read; and if I had not read the documents and the history of the matter I would not stand up in the House to make that statement, even though I could do so knowing that I was going to make that statement truthfully. Anybody knowing the history of these estates knows how the people were driven like starving cattle off the land and driven into the slums of Dublin and into other towns. Still we see the crocodile tears of those who come in here and tell the Government that they are not going fast enough.

Senator Keane and the rest will come along here as the self-styled liberators of the people. They come along worrying about the poorer people and the situation they are in, worrying about the unemployed and the rest. If we did not know what their kidney was and if we were not aware of it before, we have got it to-day from Senator Sir John Keane. He regrets the present position and the past position and every other position —since the time that this much-suffering and long-suffering minority ruled this country. That is the kind of Government Senator Keane and his kind want in this country? They were never happy from the day that the first Irish Government took over office they were only happy when the minority with the power and might of Britain ruled the majority and drove the people into despair, drove them into the dikes of this country to starve and to die with the green grass in their mouths. That is the kind of Government Senator Sir John Keane wants back.

Sir John Keane: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  That is a good cross-roads speech.

Mr. Quirke: Information on William Quirke  Zoom on William Quirke  I make no apology for opposing that idea.

Mr. Baxter: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  Surely this does not appertain to what is in the Bill, nor is it a line we ought to pursue. I think Senator Quirke himself will probably realise that later.

Mr. Quirke: Information on William Quirke  Zoom on William Quirke  With all due respect to Senator Baxter, it has just as much [929] reference to this Bill as the compliments handed to him by Senator Sir John Keane and the rest of them. I do not for one moment believe that Senator Baxter has gone over to the policy of landlordism despite the bouquets.

Mr. Baxter: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  Let the Senator not worry about him. He can stand on his own feet.

Mr. Quirke: Information on William Quirke  Zoom on William Quirke  Several other things were said which, in my opinion, had about the same relation to the Bill. Senator Sir John Keane went on to ridicule the law which we have here He says that one Land Bill will be brought in and, when found to be a little wanting, another Bill is brough in to remedy the situation, “but not with reference to the minority,” that nothing was ever done for the minority and that if they find that the stick is missing with which to whip the minority, the Government will supply the new whip. Senator Keane and everybody else in the House knows that that is not the case, and has not been the case, that the minority in this country have got more rights than any minority in any country in Europe.

Sir John Keane: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  I wish the Senator would confine his remarks to what I said about land legislation. I was not talking about the position of the minority generally.

Mr. Quirke: Information on William Quirke  Zoom on William Quirke  If the Senator tries to confine me to the remarks he made, I hope to be able to strip him of any hereditary swords which he may think have been handed down to him from his ancestors in the fight. I will spare him that, however, but if he insists on it, he will get it.

Sir John Keane: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  I should like it.

Cathaoirleach: Information on Seán Francis Gibbons  Zoom on Seán Francis Gibbons  The Chair expects the Senator to keep within the four corners of the Bill.

Mr. Quirke: Information on William Quirke  Zoom on William Quirke  If you say I have transgressed the rules, Sir, I apologise. What I want to bring out is that Senator Sir John Keane resents any reference to confiscation by the people [930] who got those estates as a result of confiscation. Everybody knows that, and why should he back down from it?

Sir John Keane: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  I do not resent any general reference to confiscation, but I do resent the Senator charging me and my family with having got our land by confiscation.

Mr. Quirke: Information on William Quirke  Zoom on William Quirke  If the Senator only knew what is at the back of my mind——

Mr. McGee: Information on James Thomas McGee  Zoom on James Thomas McGee  To a point of order, are we interested in whether it is by the confiscation of the present Government we are maintaining our status or by the confiscation of the past? I submit that we are not here to discuss confiscation. If we did discuss it, perhaps we would see that we all got a little of the confiscation.

Mr. MacDermot: Information on Frank McDermot  Zoom on Frank McDermot  I submit, as a point of order, that it has been the invariable custom of this House, and of the other House, that if a member brings a charge against another member and of which he alleges he has documentary proof, and if, in fact, he has been unable to produce that documentary proof, it is incumbent on him to withdraw.

Mr. Quirke: Information on William Quirke  Zoom on William Quirke  I have been asked to produce the proof, and I promise to produce it. If that will not meet the wishes of Senator Sir John Keane and Senator MacDermot, I am sorry, but I am not withdrawing what I said. Senator Sir John Keane goes on to refer further to this alleged terrible confiscation by the Government, and he suggests that, over the last week-end, a certain district was visited and that the “boyos”, the landless men, will come along. The “boyos” are, I presume, the fellows who fought for this country when fighting was to be done.

Sir John Keane: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  The Senator knows them all right.

Mr. Quirke: Information on William Quirke  Zoom on William Quirke  I certainly do. I know a good few of them, and I am very proud to be associated with those men, both in the past and in the present. [931] The men whom I would recommend for land as landless men are men who are experts in their own line of business, who are qualified to work land, and who have the necessary capital to stock it. If a man is an expert in any other line of business, he is to be encouraged to get into the business and to produce more wealth for the country, and I say that the man who is expert in the production of agricultural wealth in this country should not be despised, as was done by Senator Sir John Keane, but should be encouraged. The Minister has told us, and I accept his statement, that it is necessary in the future to concentrate more on uneconomic holders than on landless men, but I say as soon as the uneconomic holders have been dealt with, everything possible should be done to deal with those landless men.

When these landless men, these “boyos”, these plunderers to whom Senator Sir John Keane referred, who are representatives of the majority in the country, have been put on the land, they will serve a far more useful purpose than the people for whom Senator Sir John Keane stands here. It is ridiculous to find anybody in the position of representing, unrepentantly, the landlord class in this country, the people who have misused their land for century after century, referring in those terms to the God-fearing people of the country because they look for that from which their people have been driven off, in a just, normal and legal fashion. That they should be referred to as “boyos” and as plunderers by a representative of landlordism is an outrage.

Sir John Keane: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  I never used the word “plunderers”. I admit to “boyos”.

Mr. Quirke: Information on William Quirke  Zoom on William Quirke  I refer the Senator again to the Official Reports. I say that he did use the word “plunder”.

Cathaoirleach: Information on Seán Francis Gibbons  Zoom on Seán Francis Gibbons  The Senator must take his word for it.

Mr. Quirke: Information on William Quirke  Zoom on William Quirke  I will take his word for it at the moment. I make no apology [932] for anything I said. I promised him to produce the document. I will produce it and he will feel less happy. when he reads it.

Mr. Baxter: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  I think every decent Irishman has a sense of fair play. There are things that are decent and things that are not decent, and I frankly confess that I think Senator Quirke's tone, his manner and his method of approach to the problem this evening are things of which he will not be in the least proud when he gives them consideration and when he reads his statements. It was a tone and a note that ought not to have been introduced into this discussion because, from the beginning, to give the House its due, the House on every side tried to approach this problem in the fashion and in the temper in which the problem ought to be approached. It tried to put the problem on a proper plane, to put it so that we could all view it as it ought to be viewed, if the problem is to be solved in the way in which it ought to be solved. I think Senator Quirke's very nasty personal references do him no credit, and I should be sorry to think that he is acting as leader of his Party in speaking in the way he did. It would have been better if he had taken the hint that was thrown out by Senator MacDermot.

Now, Sir, the Minister has got his Bill. Whatever Senator Sir John Keane may think about his manner of getting it and of what the Minister has got in it, I cannot help expressing my appreciation of the Minister's conduct of the measure through the House. I suppose people can be happy when they are going to get what they want. But I have seen other Ministers here going to get what they want, and out to get it, but their attitude towards the House when they were getting it left many of the Senators here very displeased, and in such a frame of mind that they could be nothing but unhappy. The Minister's whole approach to the problem struck me as being fair, frank and candid. I would say if the Minister were in charge of the Land Commission always, if the Minister were to [933] be left in permanent charge of it and that he was never to die, people, perhaps, might be somewhat more happy about these extraordinary powers that he is taking now. But that is not the position at all. Sooner or later there is going to be a change of Government. Perhaps there is going to be a change of Government sooner than people expect, and very much sooner than Senator Quirke imagines. But the position is this: that the Minister for Lands has taken powers now apparently necessary to enable him to acquire and distribute approximately 600,000 acres of land. These powers can be exercised over the 12,500,000 arable acres of land which the tenant farmers now hold. While the Minister's statement has done something to allay the fears which have been stirred up by the kind of speeches to which we have listened from Senator Quirke here to-day——

Mr. Quirke: Information on William Quirke  Zoom on William Quirke  And from Senator Sir John Keane.

Mr. Baxter: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  I differ from Senator Sir John Keane in many things, and I can deal with him——

Mr. O'Donovan: Information on Sean ODonovan  Zoom on Sean ODonovan  But the Senator will not.

Mr. Baxter: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  Whatever can be alleged against me, I do not think it can be charged against me that I am afraid to say what I have to say, or that I have ever refused to face up to problems as I see them. I have always honestly dealt with problems as I see them, and when Senator O'Donovan has given as much study to these problems and gives as much thought and toil to the question of the land as I have given, and gives the skin of his hands to the land like I have, then he will be as well able to talk about the land as I am. That is only by the way.

The trouble about the problem is this, and it is a very serious trouble. We have been hearing lots of speeches about dividing the land and giving it to the landless men and congests. I would plead with the Minister now that he has got these powers, that he would not be influenced by the kind of crossroad [934] speeches that Senator Quirke delivered here to-day. To Senator Quirke I would say: “You are in possession to-day; you may not be in possession to-morrow, but other people may, and to these other people you may be as objectionable then as Senator Keane is now to you.” That is a point of view that should not be forgotten. There are extraordinary powers taken in this Bill. The Minister has told us that certain powers have not been used up to the present, and he said that certain of these powers are not to be used by him. Who are to be his successors? Others will come along who will have the same point of view about the 50-acre farmer or the 60-acre farmer of 10 or 20 years hence as Senator Quirke has of Craig-Waller to-day. The Senator in that day may himself be looked upon as he looks upon Craig-Waller to-day. How did the 25-acre man of 50 or 100 years ago become the 100, 200 or 300 acre man of to-day? By thrift and industry, keeping his ear to the ground, knowing how the wind was blowing, striving to make the best of what turned up, husbanding his wages and savings and investing them well.

Mr. O'Donovan: Information on Sean ODonovan  Zoom on Sean ODonovan  That is a great tribute to Senator Quirke—that he is doing these things.

Mr. Baxter: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  Why not? Of course he is. It is up to any man who has got thrift or industry to apply it to his own affairs. In the future there may be another Minister for Lands who may have very different views from those of the present Minister. Who can visualise what changes there may be in the next five years? All of us who have lived through the last 20 years and who heard Senator Quirke's speech here to-day may find it difficult to phophesy as to what may happen in the next five years. You may have a Minister for Lands as a successor to the present Minister using these powers against another type of individual very different from the type of individual about whom Senator Quirke has spoken here this evening. Such a Minister may use these powers against the 50 or the 60 acre farmer, and he may look at the question from the same point of view and from the same angle as that in [935] which it has been looked at by Senator Quirke to-day in the case of the large landholders. Senator Quirke ought to speak with more sense of responsibility than he has spoken.

Instead of adopting the line that we have 5,000,000 or 6,000,000 acres of land to distribute, the Senator ought to have remembered that according to the words of the Minister here, we have only approximately 600,000 acres of arable land. Instead of getting up and saying that every landless man and every congest is to get all the land he wants, the Senator and others ought to be telling the people from every platform in the country “You cannot get land because the land is not there for you unless we take it off people who are making good use of it.” The time to stop this rush is now and not when perhaps they are on top of the barricades and breaking down your defences as they may some day. It will be altogether wrong and entirely against my view that this principle of land distribution should be carried out on the basis of the wrongs that the landlords did in the past. The landlords are dead and buried. We listened here to-day to a number of references to the landlords by Senator Quirke. Senator MacCabe made the same kind of references to the misdeeds of the landlords in the past. I gathered from him that his idea was that we should go on with the same class of misdeeds as those with which he charges the landlords. I do not know anything in our code of laws that could justify a policy like that. When you talk about landlords, well, you might as well talk also about emergency men. Senator MacCabe knows some of our people to-day who were of the old stock and it was only through their existence that the landlords were able to blossom out in the past as they did. Where is the use of casting up against a man's children the misdeeds of the father? They ought to get a fair chance to justify themselves. The policy of land distribution should be pursued in relation to its economic and social aspects rather than on the basis that So and so got land and that because their [936] fathers and grandfathers got it they ought not to be allowed to hold it. We ought to put that sort of talk behind us. We ought not to look at this problem through prejudiced eyes or through a desire to get our neighbours' property for ourselves.

Let us look at the economic and social consequences. If the Minister is to take land for the relief of congests I would feel much happier that its distribution would operate so that instead of giving a man 25 acres of land he would give him 50 or 60 acres or even perhaps a larger holding. In my judgment at any rate a considerable number of large holdings in this or in any other country are a tremendously vital factor in creating stable conditions in our agricultural policy. If you have countless small holdings, if you break up the land into little fragments and little groups, then you will find that in any severe and perhaps inevitable economic blast, our resources are not strong enough to withstand the shock. When men have larger holdings, they can themselves weather the storm much better and also help their neighbours to weather it.

There is another consideration to which we should have some regard in this matter of land distribution. While the present Minister pursues his policy no great change is to come about in this matter of land distribution. But in this Bill he is taking powers for his successors. I am wondering what his immediate successor is to be like and how he will operate these powers. I feel myself that land in this country in the future should make its contribution to the cultural and social life of the nation. Let us consider that in the past the great bulk of the priests of the Catholic Church, the great majority of the doctors and quite a number of lawyers came off the land. They came off farms some of them not very large but the great bulk of them were substantial farms. If we are going to change completely in the future to a different internal land system—as some people would have us where we would have everybody with no more than a 25-acre holding—will anybody tell me what contribution can [937] that class of farmers make to our cultural, social and economic life? How is it going to be possible for them to give that education to their children which the people of our generation and the people who came before us gave to theirs?

Speaking, not as a member of a particular sect but as a Catholic layman in a country predominantly Catholic, I ask Senators to try to contemplate for a moment the change it will mean in rural life in Ireland, if Catholic priests of the future are going to come from a stock other than the stock from which they sprung in the past—the people on the land. Imagine a young man going down from our towns and cities to take up the duties of a priest in rural Ireland. What contact with, or understanding of, rural life will he have? The same argument applies in the case of doctors and to a certain extent in the case of lawyers. If we, who are on the land, want to see agriculture get its proper place, not only in the cultural and social sphere, but in the economic sense as well, we should strive for a system on our holdings that will enable us to produce not only workers on the small farms but that will enable us on larger farms to rear and educate children to contribute to the thought and progress of the people as a whole.

Those who want to break up land are going to break up more than the land, and let them be very careful about it. I heard Senator MacCabe, speaking on the Second Reading of this Bill, advocate the creation of 20-acre holdings. A 20-acre holding would be all right if you had two or three incomes from some other source coming into the house. You might do something then towards educating the family in that house, but anybody who knows anything about life on small holdings in this country, especially small holdings of poor land, knows just what it is possible to do on these holdings.

I am afraid that for a long time to come the people on the land will find it difficult to play the part in our national life that the people on the land played in the past. None of us is [938] apologising for the things we did in the past. We have not apologised. Whatever we did, we did in the interests of the Irish nation. What I am pleading for is a greater measure of justice in the administration of the land code, and a measure of sanity on the part of a number of people who, though they discussed this matter in a calm manner here, sometimes express entirely different views outside.

The Minister, in my judgement, despite what Senator Sir John Keane has said, has made a very considerable contribution towards creating a more suitable attitude towards the people on the land, and in regard to the ownership of land. I believe that the great bulk of the people will be convinced that he means what he says in stating that well-worked holdings are not going to be taken for the purposes of relieving congestion or for the purpose of giving land to landless men. The further fact that the Minister has inserted a section in the Bill to provide that where land is resumed for the purpose of relieving congestion, the full market value of the holding will be paid to the owner, will soothe the minds of many people. I have no hesitation in saying that the psychological effect of that assurance in the country will be of considerable value. I fully realise the attitude Senator Sir John Keane must have towards this Bill. I sympathise with his point of view inasmuch as the Minister was not prepared to make the concession which Senator Sir John Keane thought he was justly entitled to get. That is, however, the way with Ministers, indeed, sometimes with Senators and Deputies. If, however, we could get all we wanted merely for the asking of it, we would find ourselves in a position in which there would be very little reason to bestir ourselves.

I would plead for this line on the part of Senators who are behind the Minister, that instead of propagating the doctrine that there are limitless acres for division and distribution amongst the people, they should point out coldly and boldly that we have, on the Minister's calculation, only about [939] 600,000 acres for the relief of congestion, that that is not going to go very far, and that we are going to have practically the same problem of congestion when that land is distributed as we had before. These are the facts of the situation. I know districts like the Rosses, Carraroe, Corumna, Lettermullen, West Clare, West Kerry, and West Cork. Anybody who has been in these districts and who has seen the conditions there, must, to a certain extent, feel in a revolutionary mood about the position, but the fact remains that we cannot, nor can the Minister, find sufficient land to distribute amongst all the people who want it. That is the position, and we ought to face up to it instead of creating, as Senator Quirke tried to create, the impression that anybody who wants land can get it. Let us begin at once saying that not one-tenth of those who want land can get it because the land is not there. While we say that, let us also try to face the problem of what we are going to do for those other people for whom no land is available. In seeking a solution of that problem, Senators on the other side can always rely on the assistance of Senators on this side of the House, but they cannot expect that help if they are merely concerned with the propaganda effect of speeches such as I have described.

Peadar Mac Fhionnlaoich: Information on Peadar Cu Uladh MacFhionnlach  Zoom on Peadar Cu Uladh MacFhionnlach  Tá mé in aghaidh na cainte seo go léir. Níl aon mheas agam ar an smaoineamh gur rud ocráilte an talamh do na daoine atá i seilbh na talmhan. Mar adubhairt mé cheana, is le muinntear na hEireann talamh na hÉireann uilig agus ba choir an usáid ceart do bhaint as an talamh sin. Bhí mé in aghaidh an teagaisc seo—gur rud socráilte tiodal na talmhan —nuair a bhí na tighearnaí talmhan i seilbh agus tá mé ina aghaidh anois nuair atá an smaoineamh céadna ag roinnt feirmeoirí a fuair cuid talmhan a shoin.

An rud speisialta ba mhaith liom a chur i gcuimhne don Aire—go bhfuil gá le talamh chun foraoise do chur san tír seo. Tá suil agam go bhfeicimíd an t-am a mbeidh 1,000,000 acra de [940] thalamh na hÉireann faoi chrainn agus tá súil agam go mbeidh an tAire cúramach neart talmhan do chur ar leith faoi'n Bhille seo le haghaidh foraoiseachta. Is feidir foraois do chur ar thalamh nach bhfuil oiriúnach do rud ar bith eile agus nach dtiocfadh leis an fheirmeoir do shaothrú ar dhóigh coiteanta. Tá a lán talmhan san tir seo nach fiú 5/- an acra sa bhliain le haghaidh aon usáide talmhaíochta, no le haghaidh caorach, no ainmhidhe eile, agus b'fhiú £1 an acra an talamh seo da mbeadh sé faoi chrainn. Tá súil agam go gcoinneocaidh an tAire an rud seo ina cheann—nach le hagaidh “congestion” amháin no le haghaidh daoine gan talamh amhain atá gá le talamh faoi'n Bhille seo ach le haghaidh foraoiseachta chó maith. Má dhéanann sé sin, racha sé do shaidhbhreas na tíre fa dheire.

Professor Johnston: Information on Joseph Johnston  Zoom on Joseph Johnston  I do not propose to delay the House very long, especially as I was given a considerable time in advocating my amendment, but there are one or two remarks I should like to make, especially in regard to the general tone of the debate. At times, the debate appeared to be hag-ridden by the memory of ancient wrongs, which might well have been allowed to sleep in the grave. At times, it appeared to be hag-ridden, so to speak, by ancient red herrings drawn across the trail, if a debate may be said to be hag-ridden by the smell of a red herring, but, apart from that, I would say, on the whole, that the general tone of the debate and the manner if not the matter of the Minister's speech, left a rather pleasing impression on my mind. That attitude of his of naive simplicity, which I am sure is largely assumed for the occasion, has a disarming effect even on the most truculent Opposition, and this Opposition is by no means truculent, and would be only too ready to be disarmed by rational concessions and reasonable arguments. I say that with all the more sincerity because I, and I alone, appear to have managed to ruffle the smooth temper of the Minister in the course of this debate. He apparently resented remarks that I made about the voluntary surrender of large estates in certain cases. I am quite aware that there are many considerations [941] which might lead to the owners of large farms wishing to dispose of their interests, and I am quite aware of the undesirability of dragging into a public debate the private circumstances of any person concerned, but there are some general considerations which do arise. On that, I should like to say, first of all, that it is quite possible that an unfavourable economic environment, whatever may have been the cause, may have induced owners of large estates to surrender their farms voluntarily, but, instead of welcoming and accepting that surrender and taking the land for division, it may have been wiser public policy to have removed those circumstances in the economic environment which made it seem desirable to the owners of large estates that they should get out of the business altogether.

Further, I am aware that, quite apart from economic environment and quite apart from the public policy pursued by this Government and its predecessor, private family circumstances may sometimes arise which make it necessary that the owner of a large estate should dispose of it. My complaint is not with the manner in which the Land Commission treated those cases. In fact, on the contrary, I consider that the Land Commission has probably treated such cases with every possible consideration, and even with magnanimity. My complaint is that circumstances have been created in which, as a matter of fact, such persons have to come, hat in hand, to the Land Commission and beg them to take over the land, because in fact the Land Commission is the only possible purchaser of such land. In other words, by the destruction of the security of tenure of large holdings, a situation has been created in which a person who is under the financial necessity of selling his large holding cannot possibly find a private purchaser willing and able to buy that large holding. He is driven to the necessity of offering that land to the Land Commission, and obtaining the best price he can from that sole monopolistic purchaser. I submit that that situation, which is the result of a continuous policy and of a whole set [942] of legislation, has a disastrous effect on our agriculture as a whole, and for this reason in particular, that it makes it utterly impossible for new private capital to come into large-scale agriculture. In fact, the creation of any situation in which the acquisition of new blood and fresh capital, preferably from private sources, is made possible. is one of the best contributions we can make to the success of agriculture. The existing situation practically blocks the access of such fresh private capital to agriculture, and in the case of a large holding it makes it impossible to bring about its adequate exploitation as a single unit, and brings upon the State the necessity for dividing it at a terrific cost to the taxpayer. That point about the effect of the existing situation in blocking the access of private capital to agriculture is, I think, of great public importance, and is one which should not be lost sight of.

Now, at the risk of being told I am unearthing another mare's nest, I want to bring before the Minister's notice one further case, of which I am prepared to give him the details so far as I know them, and he can say either from his own knowledge or from further inquiry whether or not the facts are as stated. When I bring facts of this kind before the House, they are of course subject to correction on further investigation, and I welcome any contributions that other Senators make to my knowledge of those cases. If I am wrong in them, I am only too willing to be corrected. At the same time, I bring before the House the means of verifying this case which happens to have been brought to my notice. A certain residential property in County Kildare, according to Messrs. North and Company, the well-known house agents, was sold to a private purchaser for some £4,000, and the money was paid. Before the new purchaser was able to enter into effective possession of the property, I am informed that the Land Commission came down, nullified the whole proceedings, and required the transfer of the estate to the Land Commission at a price £1,000 less than the purchaser had already paid to the vendor. The net result of the whole thing was that [943] a bona fide purchaser of a large property was robbed of £1,000. I hope my information is false, but I have given the Minister the means of verifying it, and if it is not the case I should be glad if he will publicly state that.

Another case has come to my knowledge, illustrating the vicious effect which this whole policy can have, even when administered in the most impartial manner by the Land Commission. A certain farmer—I will give his name if necessary—bought in 1923 a farm of 300 acres in County Meath, for which he paid about £8,000. He was exploiting that land in accordance with the best principles of husbandry, but, nevertheless, that did not prevent him from being marked down as a victim by those who were only too glad to stir up the powers of the Land Commission. His land was inspected with a view to acquisition for division. He fought the case before the Land Commission and, I am glad and proud to say, he won, but the point is that he had to spend hundreds of pounds of his own private money and hours of his own personal time in fighting his right to continue, as a citizen of this country, producing to the best of his ability from a 300-acre farm, which time and which money would have been much better spent on farming. In other words, even when the Land Commission exercises its powers in such a way as to preserve the rights of citizens who are attacked, it does a serious injury to the country in putting on those citizens the obligation and the expense of such self-defence.

I hope I have not left any Senator under the illusion that I sympathise in any way with the general policy of land division, at all events in as far as it aims at the distribution of large farms as such, and in as far as it is excessively directed towards the provision of land for so-called landless men, who, I think, could be much better provided for if they were encouraged to become agricultural wage workers at existing levels. Finally, to close on a personal note, I have always sympathised with the struggle of the tenants for fair rent, free sale, and fixity of tenure. The [944] only difference between us and people on the other side is that we assert that right not only for the small and middle-sized tenant purchasers but also for the large tenant purchasers. The people whose rights are now in question, and to whom serious injustice is in danger of being done, are in nine cases out of every ten in no way representative of or associated with the ancient evil of Irish landlordism. They are simply Irishmen like yourselves, although perhaps owning rather more land, and there is no reason whatever why the evils associated with the former landlord system should in any way be laid to their charge, or why the prejudices which might have been justified with reference to a dead and gone system of landlordism should be aroused and appealed to in order to deprive them of their elementary rights.

Mr. MacDermot: Information on Frank McDermot  Zoom on Frank McDermot  If the whole system of land division is to stop, an intensive campaign throughout the country is necessary in order to convince and to convert the people. Until that campaign is conducted, not by one Party, but by members of all Parties, it seems to me to be useless to oppose legislation like this. Personally, if there is a division on this Bill, I propose to support it, although, if anything could have made me oppose it, it would be the revolting clap-trap of Senator Quirke or the ignorance of Senator MacCabe. I quite agree with Senator Sir John Keane that nothing can be more important in Ireland than the question of the land; but I do think that many of the speakers have exaggerated the importance of this particular Bill. I do not see in it any new or revolutionary principle. It appears to me to be simply a logical development of several other Bills which have been passed in recent years; that the whole trend of the legislation was started, not by the present Government, but by the late Mr. Patrick Hogan in his Land Bill of 1923.

If the whole of that policy is to be regarded as having reached its final development, if the whole system of land distribution is to stop, I repeat that it is not to be done by opposing Bills like this which simply sweep away [945] certain technical obstacles to the carrying out of a policy already agreed upon by the Oireachtas; it is to be done only by the conversion and the instruction of the people of the country as a whole. Most of the speeches that have been made in technical opposition to this Bill have been much less attacks upon the Bill than attacks upon the profoundly injurious and, I would say, calamitous mentality that has been displayed by certain Senators in our discussion and that we know exists in various parts of the country. I would most heartily join in the plea that was put forward by Senator Baxter to the Government and to Senators who support them that they should try to educate the people to the point that they will not believe, as Senator MacCabe believed, that there was land available for every person in the country who might be glad to have it.

Mr. O'Dwyer: Information on Martin ODwyer  Zoom on Martin ODwyer  There are some points in connection with this Bill with which I should like to deal as briefly as possible. The first point concerns the size of holdings to be created in the future. I feel strongly that the new holdings should be of a size that would enable people to live on them. I think that the minimum should be 35 statute acres for good land. I know that, where there are so many applicants, the temptation is very strong to make the holdings much smaller; but I think that to make the holdings too small will defeat the ultimate object of the Government, and that all the vast expenditure which is necessary for this division of land will be lost if the holdings are not large enough to enable families to live upon them. The income from a small holding is so small that, not alone will the occupant be poor, but he will be unable to make proper use of the small area he has. It would require the income from a larger holding to provide the machinery necessary and to maintain cattle on the holding. Another thing is that, although people may take these very small holdings, it will only be for a while. We know that up to the present people have lived on small holdings and seemed to be comfortable on them until some time ago. But we must remember that times are [946] changing and that these times are gone. The old attachment to the land which made people look upon it as part of their being has gone completely. People now look upon land more or less in the light of the income it gives them. I fear, if the holdings are made too small, that the result will be that eventually they will be wiped out and all the work of the Land Commission will be lost. I would ask the Minister to look into this matter and see that the holdings are made of such a size that they will endure.

Another point in that connection is that I think the holdings should not be vested too soon. There is no doubt that many people get land and that at the first opportunity they wish to sell it. I think that holdings are supposed to be vested within seven or ten years. My opinion is that they should not be vested for many years after that, until the Land Commission is satisfied that they are being properly worked and that the owners are likely to keep possession. Indeed, I doubt if it is at all wise, from the point of view of the community, once they have acquired the land, to give them the absolute ownership of it. It was the vested interest in land originally that caused the whole trouble in this country. Another point I wish to bring to the notice of the Minister is that I think uneconomic holdings in the vicinity of estates that are being divided should, as far as possible, be made into economic holdings. At present I think that anyone with a valuation of over £10 or £12 cannot get any additional land. I think it would be well if that figure were extended in those counties where valuations are very high. Even a man with a valuation of £15 or £16 in these places where valuations are high would be greatly improved by getting a few acres where land is available.

I also hold that the cottiers should not be passed over by the Land Commission when land is being divided and that, as far as possible, they should be provided with additional allotments. It is more important in a way to provide for these cottiers than it is even for landless persons. The latter persons could be provided with [947] land which is a distance away, while the cottiers are tied down to the locality in which they are living and, if land is being divided in the vicinity, I think it is only fair that they should be given a chance of improving their condition. The average agricultural labourer is very poor. Generally he has a large family and he finds it very hard to provide the necessaries of life for himself and his family. I do not think that four or five acres of land could be turned to better use than to give it to those cottiers. Along with the land, there should be also provided a loan to enable these people to stock it. In any case, I think they should not be passed over on any occasion. It would be a benefit from the point of view of the community if agricultural labourers had four or five acres of land each.

Another point to which I should like to draw attention is that, in the case of estates which are taken over, the mansions and demesnes attached to them should, as far as possible, be preserved in the state in which they were for the sake of the general appearance of the country. In many cases I have seen fine looking houses allowed to go into ruin, and woods cut down, with the result that the appearance of the country has suffered. I am very glad that the Minister has seen his way to accept the amendment on the question of the market price for all resumed land. I should like to ask him to extend that concession to cases of acquired land also. The position at present is that if land, which is not vested in the occupier, is taken over by the Land Commission, the occupier gets the full market value; if the land has been vested, the occupier gets the market value perhaps, but out of that the whole of the Land Commission advance has to be redeemed. That actually causes great discrepancy in prices in various parts. In places where land annuities are small, especially in the poorer districts, that does not apply so much, but on the richer lands the redemption of land annuities practically destroys the price of land. I suggest to the Minister that he would settle this whole matter once and for [948] all, if the Land Commission were to abandon the system of redeeming land purchase advances out of the price paid to the owners of land. There is no reason why that should not be done in the case of rich land as well as in the case of poor land. I am convinced that if that question was settled, it would be possible to obtain far more than the 600,000 acres that the Minister expects to obtain, with the goodwill of all concerned. I urge the Minister to look into the matter, and if at all possible to deal with it.

Mr. Byrne: Information on Christopher Michael Byrne  Zoom on Christopher Michael Byrne  Senator MacDermot would leave one under the impression that the policy in this Bill only emanated from the 1923 Act or, as it was known, “the Hogan Act.” Surely it was the policy of the Land League and of the organisations that succeeded it, the National League, the United Irish League and Sinn Féin. The late Mr. Hogan, and the present Minister, are only carrying out the policy of every national organisation for the last 60 years. I hope that policy will be continued, until the Minister is able to divide the 600,000 acres amongst the small and uneconomic holdings, and when that stage is reached, the question can again be reconsidered. I have to join issue with Senator Professor Johnston. I contend that large farms are just as uneconomic as small holdings. I hold that opinion, and I am quite willing to debate it at any time. Senators on the other side, who referred to the rights of big holders, should remember that we are not going to stand by and allow one-fourth of the people to own three-fourths of the land, while the three-fourths have to live on the one-fourth.

Mr. Butler: Information on John Butler  Zoom on John Butler  I should like to say a few words about a class that has been forgotten as far as land division is concerned, forgotten by the Land Commission, and forgotten by the present and the previous Governments. I refer to the evicted tenants and their successors. I believe they are a very deserving class, and when land distribution is being considered, I appeal to the Minister and to the Land Commission, to deal sympathetically [949] with their applications, and to make a serious effort to satisfy their claims.

Mr. Boland: Information on Gerald Boland  Zoom on Gerald Boland  Senator MacDermot was correct in saying that there was nothing new in this Bill, although Senator Baxter seemed to think that we were getting enormous new powers. As I explained, we were forced to bring in this Bill on account of two decisions that were given, one of which would certainly make it impossible for the Land Commission to continue at all. That was on the question of the quorum. Some clever lawyer discovered that there was no provision for a quorum, and we found ourselves in the position that the six commissioners, even those hearing appeals, would have to decide every case. That was a new provision. We thought we had power all the time. It was simply an oversight. The whole debate was around Section 39. There was no new power but a safeguard. I think the position of people who own land now is more secure than it was before. In anything I said here or in the other House about the security that farmers had, and that they had no necessity to have any fear, I was only repeating what was said by the present Minister for Defence when he was putting through the Land Act of 1933. He stated, as Senator MacDermot reminded us, that a person with 1,000 acres of an estate or farm, if it was properly worked, need have no fear. At the opening of the debate one leader of the Opposition said that that promise of the Minister was forgotten the minute it was made. It was not. All I have done since is to repeat what he said, with this difference, that in the years intervening his words have been implemented to the letter.

There is no necessity for anyone who works his land even moderately to have any fear. Despite how far I go people will get up and say that there is fear. Senator Sir John Keane and Senator Professor Johnston used the word “confiscation”. I can tell them that many land owners have been quite pleased with the prices they got. It is not right for people in their position, who are expected to consider their words, especially Senator Professor [950] Johnston, to make statements or to cite cases without investigating them. It is most unscientific for a start. Although I had certain ideas when coming here, I was anxious to hear the Senator speaking as I had read some of his lectures. I was under the impression that he was simply a professor, and not much of a politician. I must say that he has shown himself to be an astute politician. He ruffled me when he cited one case. I took it that he believed we had acquired the land.

Mr. Douglas: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  Is that intended as a compliment?

Mr. Boland: Information on Gerald Boland  Zoom on Gerald Boland  Anyway he likes.

Mr. M. Hayes: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  A compliment to the Professor.

Professor Tierney: Information on Prof. Michael Tierney  Zoom on Prof. Michael Tierney  A tribute to the Professor.

Mr. Boland: Information on Gerald Boland  Zoom on Gerald Boland  If that was in the Dáil I could understand it, but in a place like this, I expected from a Professor that he would have had more regard for fair play.

Mr. MacDermot: Information on Frank McDermot  Zoom on Frank McDermot  Like the leader of the Fianna Fáil Party, Senator Quirke.

Mr. Quirke: Information on William Quirke  Zoom on William Quirke  Exactly.

Mr. Boland: Information on Gerald Boland  Zoom on Gerald Boland  The Senator cited a case, and when I met it fairly, he said that it was the Government's economic policy that had driven the man to offer land to the Land Commission. He never heard of owners, big and small, gambling. He never heard of that at all, or of people wasting their estates in other ways. That never occurred to the Senator, only that, as this man was in a position to work the land, we confiscated it. That is what the Senator said. When I assured him that we were offered the land the feeling was: “Well, in that case, it was your policy that was responsible for it.” That is a most unworthy attitude for a man of the standing of Senator Johnston. I must say that it left me under the impression that he does not want to know the truth, but is relying on the publicity he will get to-morrow—a full column in the Irish [951] Times—further to spread the feeling of insecurity. I think in that sort of talk, coming from the type of people of Senator Johnston and Senator Keane, there is real danger of fear, and when, as we know, one of them has a lot to do with the control of credit, it makes me very much alarmed indeed.

On the general question of insecurity I made an admission in the other House. Our Party was accused of engineering all this organisation for the acquisition and division of holdings. One fair-minded Deputy in the other House, Deputy MacEoin, got up and said that it was not confined to our Party, but was the general feeling all over the country. I am sorry to say that it is. I said then that it would be a good thing for the country if all Parties could unite to try to set their faces against that sort of thing. Any insecurity that has arisen from it is not due to the activities of the Land Commission. I want to make that quite certain. It is not their activity. It has been said here by a few Senators that when these cases were tried the Land Commission upheld the objection. Senator The McGillycuddy gave us one case where the Land Commission upheld the objection and Senator Professor Johnston himself said here to-day that in respect of another holding he was glad to say that, when the farmer went to the Land Commission and fought his case, he won. I do not know how the agitation may have originated but I do say this: that it comes from all Parties and that it is rather deplorable. I quite agree that where we have lands like some I know and every Senator here who is familiar with the country knows, lying derelict, where the houses are as derelict as the lands, where rates are not being paid and where these people are taking advantage of technical objections to prevent the land from being acquired and worked as it ought to be worked in the national interests, I think there is every reason why there should be local agitation to have the land divided. I do not think there is a general demand to have good land taken over, but whether there is or not it has not been taken. Whether it is a 30-acre farm or [952] a 1,000-acre farm, it has not been taken, and I can assure everybody that it will not be taken as far as the future is concerned, that is, as far as we can speak of the future. I was amazed at sensible Senators talking about what may happen when another Government comes in. What control have we over that? If another Government comes in, surely they can do as they please.

Mr. Douglas: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  Within the law.

Mr. Boland: Information on Gerald Boland  Zoom on Gerald Boland  To have a Land Bill ready to their hand might be an advantage. It might save a few weeks or a few months, but that is all. If they are not satisfied with the Act they can simply scrap it and bring in something else. As far as I am concerned, I am only able to speak for what this Act will do and I am able to say that the undertaking we gave when other Acts were passed has been carried out. I have yet to find a case in which a well worked farm, outside a congested area, was taken over. What I mean by a congested area is not a district scheduled as congested but a place in which there is local congestion, in which there are small farmers. I would like to hear of one case in which a properly or even a moderately well worked farm has been acquired, especially if the person was residing on or near it. There may be some cases of people owning hotels or shops who had land five or six miles away from their homes and where there was local congestion that their land was acquired. That land may be acquired and has been acquired and will be acquired, and I think rightly so. That is the sort of land we are going for. I hope after this debate that there will be no more talk such as we had from Senator Professor Johnston. I think he said that I was like a small boy with a pair of scissors cutting up a piece of paper; that I was cutting up the country into little bits. He said something like that. There is no such idea. We are just as well aware of the value of a good farm as Senator Professor Johnston, and we had no intention and have no intention of wrecking the biggest industry in the country. On the contrary, we want to do all we can to help it.

[953] In regard to the size of the holdings, that is a matter about which there will be differences of opinion. The people we are bringing up from the West of Ireland are getting 25 acres of arable land or its equivalent. Some earlier migrants did not get so much, but in the future they will get it. I am prepared to admit that they were a bit on the small side in the beginning but, even so, I gave some figures as to the manner in which some of the small holdings were being worked. If I did not indicate the fact then, I will do so now, that those holdings, small as they are, are very much bigger and better than the holdings from which those people were taken and bigger than the vast majority of the holdings in this country. An enormous number of holdings are under £10 valuation. That is a thing that should be borne in mind in discussing the size of the holdings. As I say, that is a matter about which there may be differences of opinion, but I would say that 25 acres of arable land, if people are prepared to work it, should be able to make a moderate living, at any rate, for a family.

The relief of congestion, on which we are going to concentrate, will have a good social effect too. I believe that the shifting of the population from congested districts into places like Meath, Kildare and Roscommon will have a good effect socially.

A number of points were raised with which, I suppose, I should deal, but there were so many that it is very hard to deal with them all. I would certainly say that I was surprised at the attitude of Senator Sir John Keane. I did not think that he would approach the matter in the way he did. He said that we were confiscating. He ought not to say such a thing at all. It really was bad.

We were told by the first speaker that we should be prepared to pay for the land that was taken. The Land Commission is prepared to pay for it and the machinery for seeing that there is a fair price paid for it is there. The Land Commission fixes the price. If the owner is not satisfied with the price, he has the Appeal Tribunal to go to. The question of price is a very [954] vital matter. The owner can go to the Appeal Tribunal and make his own case. The Appeal Tribunal is independent. They have their own assessor. They are a fair judicial body. They do not deal with the files. They know nothing about what is happening in the Land Commission. They are an independent court and very often —I will not say always—but very often, they do give an increase. Anyway, the machinery for price is as good as can be devised.

As to the difference between the proper methods of husbandry and the formula set out here, there again we have to rely on the people whose duty it is to assess these things. If there is confidence, things will be all right but we are told that the people will be brought to 23 Merrion Street and robbed. They are not robbed. Everyone who goes there gets a fair hearing. Evidence that is taken there is taken on oath although someone said it was not.

Mr. McGee: Information on James Thomas McGee  Zoom on James Thomas McGee  There is no evidence taken on oath from the Land Commission.

Mr. Boland: Information on Gerald Boland  Zoom on Gerald Boland  I did not mention Senator McGee, but I suppose it was he who said it. I am informed that at all the public sittings of the Land Commission the evidence is taken on oath. I am told that by one of the Commissioners and I think that will have to be accepted.

Mr. McGee: Information on James Thomas McGee  Zoom on James Thomas McGee  I join issue with the Minister on that point.

Mr. Boland: Information on Gerald Boland  Zoom on Gerald Boland  I am simply saying that that is my information from the Commissioner.

Mr. McGee: Information on James Thomas McGee  Zoom on James Thomas McGee  The Minister's information is obviously incorrect. I have been there 20 times. There is the valuer——

Mr. Boland: Information on Gerald Boland  Zoom on Gerald Boland  I did not mention the word “valuer”. I said that the evidence given in the Land Commission Court is given on oath.

Mr. McGee: Information on James Thomas McGee  Zoom on James Thomas McGee  Only from the owner of the land.

[955]Cathaoirleach: Information on Seán Francis Gibbons  Zoom on Seán Francis Gibbons  The Minister is in possession.

Mr. Boland: Information on Gerald Boland  Zoom on Gerald Boland  I think those are all the points I have to deal with. The debate was more like a Second Reading debate than anything else, but I will conclude by reassuring the House again, and the country, that all this talk about insecurity, fixity of tenure and free sale is all moonshine; that there is nothing in it; that the farmer who works his land is as safe as he could possibly be. I am tempted to go back over the past after hearing some of the things that were said, but I will refrain from doing so. I have already quoted Senator Byrne and I will repeat what he said—that it is a great pity that the landlords did not take the advice given to them by Thomas Davis a century ago; that they could have been a force in this country for good. A few of them have been, and I daresay Senator Sir John Keane is one of them. I would say he is. But as a class, they were a poor lot and they let their opportunities go, and the less we say about them now the better.

Question—“That the Bill do now pass”—agreed to.

Ordered: That the Bill, with amendments, be sent to the Dáil.

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