Wednesday, 13 July 1949
Seanad Éireann Debate
Liam Ó Buachalla: Is dóigh liom go raibh áthas orainn go léir go raibh am té ann nuair do chríochnaigh an tAire an oráid—nó níl fhios agam an ceart dom a rá gur óráid a thug sé uaidh mar, chun na fírinne a rá, cheap mé go raibh sé níos cosúla le seanamóir ná le óráid. Do réir dheallraimh, ceapann an tAire go raibh sé riachtanach an oiread sin ama a chaitheamh ag míniú na ceiste. O mo thaobh sa dhe, agus is maith liom giota cainté chomh maith le aon duine eile, d'fhéadfadh sé an méid a bhí le rá aige a rá laistigh d'am i bhfad níos lú ná mar a thóg sé. Ní hé díreach fad na hóráide an lucht a bheadh agam le fáil air ach a laghad eolais den chineál atá riachtanach ar ócáid mar seo a thug sé dúinn. Shílfeá ar an Aire gur rud nua ar fad é an rud seo faoi dhréineáil agus faoi mhíntírú na talún. Ní rud nua é. Is fada muid ag smaoineadh agus is fada muid ag fiosrú agus is fada muid  ag pleanáil le go dtabharfaí scéimeanna chun cinn a chuirfeadh rath ar thalamh na tíre seo. Deirtear nach bhfuil mórán ar an saol atá nua agus is féidir liom a rá nár dhúirt an tAire inniu morán a bhí nua chomh fada is bhaineas le cuspóirí agus prionsabail dréineála agus míntírú na talún. Caithfidh go bhfuil a fhios aige féin chomh minic is a pléadh na ceisteanna sin na blianta roimh an gcogadh. Caithfidh go bhfuil eolas aige faoin gcoimisiún talmhaíochta a bhí ar bun díreach roimh an gcogadh agus caithfidh go bhfuil a fhios aige gurb ceist í seo a pléadh go mion agus a cíoradh go mion. Phléigh siad gach gné de dhréineáil agus míntírú na talún ach amháin nár chaith siad mórán ama ar scéimeanna cosúil le scéimeanna dréineála airtéirí. Caithfidh go bhfuil a fhios ag an Aire an méid ama a chaith an Coimisiún Dréineála ag plé na ceiste céanna. Dá ndéarfadh an tAire linn inniu, dá moladh an tAire dhúinn inniu, breathnú ar an gCoimisiún Dréineála agus ar an tuarascáil a foilsíodh sa bhliain 1940 agus breathnú ar chuid de na caibidil agus ar chuid de na haltanna—go háirithe alt 154 agus cúpla alt eile a leanas an t-alt sin—agus iad a léamh, agus an scéal d'fhágaint mar sin is é mo thuairim gur obair níos fearr a bheadh déanta aige ná mar rinne sé.
Phléadar an scéal, ní amháin ó thaobh geilleagair ach ó thaobh na sóisialachta. Mhíniódar an buntáiste a bheadh ann dá ndéantaí an dréineáil ar fud na tíre. Ní rud nua an cheist seo faoi dhréineáil. Ní dúirt an tAire inniu oiread is focal amháin a chur len ár gcuid eolais i dtaobh deacrachtaí na hoibre nó i dtaobh tairbhe na hoibre atá beartaithe.
Is maith liom go bhfuil an lá tagtha gur féidir dúinn rud éigin a dhéanamh leis na scéimeanna a bhí dá gceapadh againn le fada, a chur i ngníomh. Tá mé cinnte, marach an cogadh atá thart tosaí, agus marach na deacrachtaí a tháinig chun cinn de bharr an chogaidh sin, nach mbeimis ag fanacht  go dtí inniu le haghaidh scéimeanna mar atá beartaithe. Ba cheart cothrom na Féinne a thabhairt in áit a bhfuil cothrom na Féinne tuillte. Is fíor a rá go ndearnadh cuid mhaith—d'ainneoin nár shásaigh sé muid—le blianta ar mhaithe le cúrsaí dréineála.
Tá súil agam go n-éireoidh leis an scéim agus guím go n-éireoidh léi. Ach ní thógfaidh an tAire, ná aon duine eile, orm má abraim go bhfuil mé in aimhreas nach bhfuilimid ag tabhairt faoin obair ar an mbealach is fearr. Mhinígh an Coimisiún Dréineála chomh riachtanach agus tá sé go dtosóimis ar na scéimeanna móra náisiúnta agus go n-oibreodh muid ó bhéala na n-abhann isteach. Tugaimid faoi deara an chabhair a fuair an tAire, i gcúrsaí féara na tíre, ó Mr. Holmes—a chuir ar ár leas sinn agus a mhol dúinn tosaí sna hinbhir agus oibriú uathu isteach.
Níl aon rud ráite ag an Aire inniu faoi céard is dóigh leis a tharlós nuair a tosnófar ar na mionscéimeanna míntireachain. Níor thug sé aon mheastachán dúinn, ná níor innis sé faoin méid atá déanta ag na hinnealltóirí. Níor mhínigh sé dhúinn go bhfuil sé sásta ina intinn nach bhfuil dochar ag teacht de bharr na hoibre. Cinnte, is féidir cuid mhaith a dhéanamh ar an gcuid istigh den tír; ach, ón eolas atá agamsa, bheadh muinín agam as an gCoimisiún Dréineála agus as an bhfiosrú a rinne Mr. Holmes, go bhfuil contabhairt ann cuid mhaith de thairbhe na scéime a chur ar neamhní de bharr faillí a dhéanamh sna scéimeanna móra dréineála.
Meabhraíonn sin dom an chaint a rinne an tAire i dtaobh an fheabha is atá súil aige a theacht ar chúrsaí feilméarachta agus ar chúrsaí táirgeachta nó cúrsaí soláthair. Tá mé a cheapadh go bhfuil an tAire ag dul amú go mór má cheapann sé go mbraitheann feabhas talmhaíochta agus ardú táirgthe sa tír seo ar scéimeanna dréineála, bídis beag nó bídis mór. Dá mba agamsa a bheadh, níl a fhios agam nach é adéarfainn gur ar an oideachas teicniciúl agus an oideachas  ceardúil a bhraithinn. Más mian leis an Aire rath a bheith ar thionscail na talmhaíochta ar an mbealach ba mhaith linn go léir, téadh sé i gcomhairle maidin amáireach leis an Aire Oideachais agus an Aire Airgeadais agus cuireadh sé ina luí orthu chomh riachtanach agus atá sé go ngéillfear do na hiarratais atá curtha isteach go mion agus go minic ar scoileanna teicniciúla agus ceardscoileanna, ar mhúinteoirí tuaitheolaíochta, ar mhúinteoirí siúinéireachta, ar mhúinteoirí miotalóireachta agus ar mhúinteoirí tís, gan trácht ar mhúinteoirí eile.
Tá an obair seo go maith inti féin, agus creidim fein, agus creidim go diongmhálta é, agus ní inniu ná inné a tháinig an tuairim dom, go mbeidh faillí san obair seo go léir nó go n-ardaímíd caighdeán oideachais cheardúil, theicniciúil ar bhfeilméaraí.
Níl aon éadóchas orm i dtaobh na ndaoine sin. Ní hionann an scéal inniu agus an scéal mar bhí. Is cuimhin liom nuair nár thairbhe nó nar chiallmhar labhairt le feilméara i dtaobh oideachais. Tá a fhios agam anois go bhfuil fir—agus ní hiad na daoine óga amháin, ach daoine nach féidir daoine óga a thabhairt orthu—agus fonn mór orthu teacht ag lorg eolais i dtaobh feilméarachta teicniciúla. Is féidir liom é seo a rá mar dhearbhadh: is mó áit tríd an tír a dtéim féin ag tabhairt léachtaí ar ábhair a bhaineas le tionscail talmhaíochta agus tionscail tuaithe agus an moladh is mó is féidir a thabhairt ná go mba deacair dom dul isteach sna scoileanna le a mbíonn de dhaoine bailithe istigh romham. Tá dúil mhór ag na fir anois san oideachas. Bíodh an scéim seo ann, agus bíódh an oiread toradh air agus is mhaith linn, ach ná bíodh dul amú orainn—ní eíreoidh linn go ró-mhaith mura dtugaimid aghaidh ar an bpointe boise ar oideachas na ndaoine a bheas ag obair faoin tuaith.
Is trua liom nár cheap an tAire—go haírithe anseo sa tSeanad, an áit a mbeimis ag súil le eolas níos doimhne na mar is gnáthach linn a fháil go minic, go haírithe le gairid—roinnt figiúirí a thabhairt dúinn maidir  leis an mbeartas atá aige i leith an Bhille.
Ba mhaith liom dá bhfeadfadh sé a insint dúinn go réasúnta, cruinn nó coibhneasach, cé mhéid acra atá súil aige a dréineálfar faoin scéim. Ba mhaith liom dá n-insíodh sé dhúinn céard é an meán-chostas an t-acra. Bhí caint anseo cheana faoi naoi n-acra agus £140 agus £27 a bhaint de mar gheall ar seo nó ar siúd, ach is é an rud ba mhaith liomsa, an rud ba mhaith linn ar fad, go simplódh an tAire an scéal agus go n-inseodh sé dhúinn cé mhéad acra ar dóigh leis go mbeidh éileamh ar chabhair uaidh lena dhréineáil. Céard é an meán-chostas an t-acra a bheas ann? Beidh £36 curtha in áirithe le haghaidh na hoibre; beidh £12 le chur suas ag an bhfeilméara féin; seasfaidh an Stát £24 eile nó dhá dtrian eile. An dóigh leis an Aire, ón eolas atá aige ar scéimeanna den tsórt seo a tríáladh cheana, go mbeidh sé i ndon an obair a dhéanamh ar an airgead sin? Nuair a bheas áireamh déanta aige ar a gcostas, ba mhaith liom go dtabharfadh sé léargas dúinn ar an bhfeabhas a cuirfear ar an talamh. Mar shompla, an t-eolas ar mhaith liom leide dhe a fháil uaidh cé mhéad beithíoch sa mbreis a iomprós gach acra de thoradh an fheabhais? Cé mhéad céad meáchain cruithneachtan, arbhair, fataí nó rútaí a gheofas muid de thoradh na scéime. Níl mé ag iarraidh ceangal a chur ar an Aire go n-inseodh sé go dtí an céad meáchain é, ach ba mhaith linn go n-inseodh sé dhúinn céard is dóigh leis a bheas againn de thoradh na hoibre ar fad. Bfhéidir nach miste má mheabhraím don Aire gur mhaith liom go mbeadh leide eolais nó léargas le fáil ar na ceisteanna sin. Tiúrfadh sé faoi deara sa tuarascáil a fuair sé ar chúrsaí féir is dréineála sa tír tar éis ar cuireadh d'fheabhas ar an talamh in aice na Bearbha gur ar éigin a bhain na feilméaraí aon leas as an talamh a feabhsaíodh dá bharr. Admhaítear gur feabhsaíodh an talamh, ach is cosúil nár mheas na feilméaraí gur bhfiú dóibh airgead a chaitheamh leis an talamh sin le súil go bhfaighidís breis torthaí dá bharr. D'fhéadfainn féin míniú a thabhairt air b'fhéidir, ach nuair a léigh mé é chuir sé íonadh  orm. Tá muinín agam as na feilméaraí, nuair a níonn siad rud tá údar acu leis. Is minic a d'fiafraigh mé d'fheilméara tuige nár chuir sé leasú ar a chuid talún agus d'fhreagair sé “ní íocfadh sé mé.” Is minic d'fiafraigh mé d'fheilméara tuige nár chuir sé síol ina chuid talún “ní íocfadh sé mé.” Is minic a d'fiafraigh mé d'fheilméara tuige nach ndéanfadh sé dréineáil ar a chuid talún “ní íocfadh sé mé.” Níl ann ach bealach an fheilméara le rá go bhfuil an “law of diminishing returns” i bhfeidhm chomh fada is bhaineas lena chuid talún. An bhfuil scéimeanna ceaptha amach—ní scéimeanna gairide ach scéimeanna fada— scéimeanna go bhfuil a dtéarmaí sáthach fada go mbeidh a fhios ag an bhfeilméara go mbeidh ioncam de thoradh an airgid agus an tsaothair má thugann sé faoin talamh a shaothrú tar éis a feabhsuithe faoin scéim seo? Ní leor a rá go bhfuil scéim againn gur cinnte don tráchtáil idir sinn féin agus Sasana go ceann trí nó cheithre bliana. Dúirt mé anseo sa tSeanad seachtain nó coicís ó shoin nach duine mé a mba gheal leis go dtarlódh aon rud do chúrsaí tráchtála nó geilleagair Shasana, ach ba cheart dúinn cuimhneamh orainn féin agus níl mé sasta go mbeidh cúrsaí tráchtála Shasana chomh híontach sna blianta atá romhainn agus a cheapas daoine áirithe. Bfhéidir go bhfuil mé éadóchasach faoin scéal, bhféidir go bhfuil níos mó ná éadóchas ann. Ar chaoi ar bith, níl an deis agam meastachán a dhéanamh ar cheist mar sin a bhíos ag an Aire, agus ba mhaith liom go dtiúrfadh an tAire léargas dúinn ar an gcuma is dóigh leis a bheas ar an margadh sin na blianta atá rómhainn, ionas go mbeimid i ndon a shocrú an bhfuilmid ar an mbealach ceart ag tabhairt faoin scéal seo ar chor ar bith.
Ba mhaith liom fios a bheith agam ar an meán-chostas an t-acra faoin scéim agus dá réir sin cé mhéad breise a cuirfear ar thorthúlacht agus táirgiúlacht na talún de bharr na scéime go léir. Thaitnigh sé liom nuair a mheabhraigh sé dhúinn, cuma cén feabhas a chuirfear ar an talamh, nach mbeidh aon ardú dá ghearradh ar na feilméaraí maidir le rátaí. Dúirt sé nach ndeanfaí ardú rátaí  ach os cionn a choirp. Deir an tAire rudaí agus dearmadann sé arís iad. Níl a fhios agam nár dhúirt sé cheana nach ndeanfaí rud áirithe ach os cionn a choirp agus rinneadh an rud ina dhiaidh sin. Athraíonn an tAire a intinn. Tá cead ag daoine a n-intinn d'athrú anois agus arís, ach ní thaitníonn liom chomh minic agus a athráios. an tAire a intinn os comhair na tíre. Ar chaoi ar bith, beidh sé cláraithe ar imeachtaí an tSeanaid nach ngearrfar ardú rátaí ar na feilméaraí agus nach méadófar luacháil na bhfeilm de bharr na scéime, má thuigim i gceart é agus taitníonn sé sin liom.
Tiocfaidh, do réir mar thuigimse, an t-airgead le haghaidh na scéimeanna seo as iasachtaí na Stát Aontaithe. Is iasachtaí atá muid le fáil ó na Stáit Aontaithe agus sílim nach bhféadfadh an Seanad cuimhneamh ar sin sáthach minic nó cuimhneamh air sáthach dian. Ní deontais atá muid a fháil ó na Stait Aontaithe ach iasacht dolaeirí agus tá muid ag dul na dolaeirí sin a úsáid, cuid mhaith acu, le haghaidh scéimeanna dréineála mar atá i gceist sa mBille agus scéimeanna míntíriú. Céard atá muid ag dul a dhéanamh ar ball leis an mbreis tairgiúlachta a gheobhas muid de bharr an Bhille seo? Cá bhfuil an margadh ina gcóir siúd do réir an léargais atá againn faoi lathair?
Tá an tAire féin ceanúil ar mhargadh Shasana. Go deimhin, níl móran de rogha aige ina lán cásanna. An bhreis tairgiúlachta mar sin a bheas ann de bharr na hoibre seo, rachaidh sé isteach ar mhargadh Shasana. An bhreis a bheas ann cuirfear ar fáil é de bharr dolaeirí atá muid le fáil ar iasacht ó na Stáit Aontaithe. Nach ionann sin agus a rá go mbeimid ag úsáid na ndolaeirí a gheobhas muid ó Mheiriceá le cuidiú le Sasana? Bhfuil aon mhargadh déanta againn le Sasana go bhfaighimid na dolaeirí a bheas riachtanach ar ball le Meiriceá a íoc ar ais? Labhair an tAire ar an  scéal. Níl mé a rá go raibh sé ag iarraidh dallamullóg a chur orainn ach níor mhínigh sé an scéal go hiomlán dúinn. Tá muid ag fáil na hiasachta sin ó Mheiriceá agus ba mhaith liom a fhiafraí anois cén áit a ngeobha muid na dolaeirí nuair a thiosfas lá na reicneála le dolaeirí Mheiriceá a íoc ar ais. Ní haon chabhair don tSeanad a rá go bhfuil airgead á chur isteach i gciste faoi leith sa mBanc Ceannais.
Ní haon chabhair a rá gurb é an bealach is fearr a d'fhéadfadh muintir na hÉireann airgead a chaitheamh é a chaitheamh ar thalamh na hÉirinn, go háirithe ós rud é go mbeidh orainn ar ball na fiacha sin a íoc ar ais arís leis na Stáit Aontaithe. Cén áit a bhfaighimid na dolaeirí? Má breathnaíonn an tAire ar chúrsaí tráchtála le blianta fada, tiúrfaidh sé faoi deara go bhfuil fuílleach na tráchtála idir sinne agus na Stáit Aontaithe go láidir inár gcoinnibh. An dóigh leis an difríocht a bheas ann go bhfaighimid é as an tionscail cuartaíochta, an tourist trade? Gheobhaimid roinnt as, ach an bhfaighimid an oiread agus a chuirfeas ar ár gcumas na Stáit Aontaithe a íoc ar ais san aon airgead amháin a theastaíos uathu, dolaeirí, nó an bhfeictear dó go mbeidh ar ár gcumas toradh déantóireachta a chur amach go dtí tiortha eile agus go bhfaighimid dá bharr sin dolaeirí a chuirfeas ar ár gcumas na fiacha seo a íoc ar ais?
I ndeireadh cúise, an bhfuil an oiread sin dóchais ag an Aire go mbeidh an oiréad sin feabhais tagtha ar chúrsaí tráchtála Shasana taobh istigh de trí nó cheithre bliana go mbeidh, ní amháin dolaeirí aici lena bealach féin a íoc ach go mbeidh siad sásta an punt a dhéanamh inaistrithe ar dolaeirí ionas go mbeimid ábalta an riar a bheas uainn d'fháil agus na fiacha a bheas orainn a íoc ar ais? Tá daoine sa tír ag caint air sin. Labhair le duine ar bith faoi agus dearfaidh sé leat: “Tá a fhios agam céard a tharlós. Nuair a thiocfas an lá, ní bheidh tada le híoc. Nuair thiocfas an lá, maithfear na fiacha dhúinn nó caithfear na fiacha a mhaitheamh dhúinn.” B'fhéidir sin. Má tá aon tuiscint mar sin ann, agus ní chreidim go bhfuil, ba cheart go mbeadh a  fhios againn é, ach muna bhfuil, má tá muid ar an aigne go bhfuil dualgas morálta orainn na fiacha seo a íoc ar ais, idir prionsiopal agus ús, ansin caithfimid anois, an t-am atá ann, ár n-aigne a dhéanamh suas ar cén chaoi ar féidir dúinn an táirgaíocht a fheabhsú sa tslí go mbeidh dolaeirí le fáil againn. Caithfimid ár n-aigne a dhéanamh suas faoi cén chaoi a bhfaighimid na dolaeirí sin, bíodh siad sin le fáil de bharr socruithe trádála le tíortha seachas Sasana nó de bharr socruithe a dhéanfeas muid le Sasana de bharr na cabhrach atá muid a thabhairt di faoi láthair.
Ba mhaith liom go n-inseodh an tAire dhúinn céard díreach is dóigh leis i dtaobh an scéil sin go léir. Ní hé go dteastaíonn uaim go n-abródh sé linn go mba mhaith leis go mbeadh an scéal mar seo nó go mbeadh an scéal mar siúd. Tá comhairleoirí aige, agus tá i mease ár seirbhíseach ardfhir atá chomh heolasach agus chomh cliste le haon tseirbhísigh sa domhan. Tá taidhleoirí againn thar sáile agus támaid ag fáil eolais ar chúrsaí tráchtála agus ar chúrsaí airgeadais an domhan. Tá figiúirí agus tuairiscí sa Roinn Airgeadais, sa Roinn Tráchtála, sa Roinn Talmhaíochta agus uile an oiread agus ba cheart go mbeadh ar chumas an Aire meastachán réasúnta cruinn do thabhairt dúinn i dtaobh na ceiste seo atá mé tar éis a lua. Tá má ar aon-intinn le duine adúirt gurb é ár ndualgas an t-ualach a éadroimiú ar dhaoine an oiread agus is féidir, ach ba mhaith liom tuairim níos fearr a bheith agam ná már atá ar cé mhéad saothair, ar cén deis saothruithe sa mbreis a bheas ag duine de thoradh na scéimeanna seo a cuirfear ar bun faoin mBille.
Mar shampla, an Vóta a thug an tAire isteach an lá cheana sa Dáil —dá mbeadh cead agam tagairt a dhéanamh dhó—ní thaitníonn an chosúlacht atá air liom. Do réir mar fheicim féin an meastachán sin, caithfeúr trí ceathrúna den mhilliún punt ar oifigigh, ar chostas taistil agus ar mheaisíní. Feicim go bhfuil £50,000 curtha síos le haghaidh fógraíochta. Níl aon locht agam air, ach feicim ansin nach mbeidh ach impeall le ceathrú cuid an Vóta  ag dul do na feilméaraí i riocht deontas. Tá súil agam nach sampla an meastachán sin ar chaitheamh an airgid ar an scéim fré chéile. Tá súil agam go mbeidh i bhfad níos mó den airgead seo ag dul do na feilméaraí iad féin ná mar is dóigh liom do réir an Vóta seo atá os comhair na Dála faoi láthair—trí ceathrúna ag dul ar ghléasra, costas taistil agus mar sin de agus timpeall le ceathrú cuid ag dul do na feilméaraí.
Liam Ó Buachalla: Tá mé lántsásta leis, ach tá me ag breathnú ar an Vóta ina iomlán. Tá £50,000 ceaptha i gcóir fógraíochta, agus mar sin de; oifigí, stóras, cíos agus eíle, £15,000; agus mionchostais éagsúla £10,000. Tá mise a rá go bhfeicthear dom nach bhfuil sa mhéid atá ag dul do na feilméaraí ar a gcuid oibre ach cuid an-bheag den £1,000,000.
Liam Ó Buachalla: Cinnte, agus taitníonn siad liom, ach, ina dhiaidh sin, más dóigh leis an Aire gur figiúirí ar fiú trácht orthu i gcúrsaí oideachais an £50,000 atá luaite anseo, is ar éigin is fiú a bheith ag caint air. Deirimse nach bhfuil mé cinnte go bhfuil an scéal go hiomlán agam. D'fhéadfadh dul amú a bheith orm. Tá a fhios agam nach bhfuil an cheist go hiomlán anseo, ach bheadh súil agam go mbeadh i bhfad níos mó, go mbeadh “proportion” níos airde ag dul do na feilméaraí ná mar is dóigh a bheas dá réir sin.
Nuair a bhí sé ag cur síos ar lucht géilleagair agus prionsabail geilleagair agus uile, d'fhuagair sé rud a d'fhuagair mé féin níos mó ná aon uair amháin sa tSeanad, go bhfuil rudaí níos airde ar an saol ná geilleagair. D'fhéadfadh, áfach, an tAire a bheith ag dul amú ina thuairim mar gheall ar na meaisíní. Níor mhiste liom dá bhfágfaí na meaisíní i leataoibh, nó roinnt acu, agus go gcaithfí níos mó airgid ar  obair láimhe. B'fhéidir go dtiocfadh daoine ar ais go dtí an tír seo.
Liam Ó Buachalla: Ní gá dhuit. Ní fada uainn an lá nuair a bhí tuairim eile ag an Aire, go mba leas na hÉireann daoine dul amach, ach tá an beart sin slacaithe anois agus cuireann sé an-ríméad ar an Aire go bhfuil na daoine seo ag filleadh ar an tír. Ba mhaith liom a lámh a craitheadh go mór ar an athrú aigne sin.
Liam Ó Buachalla: Is minic sna blianta atá caite an Rialtas a bhí ann roimhe seo go ndúradar go mba mhaith leo rudaí a dhéanamh nach bhféadfaí iad a chosaint do réir bun-phrionsabal an gheilleagair agus cé mhéad uair a rinneadh gáire agus magadh fúthú? Ní hé, mar adúirt, an teicniúlacht, an éifeacht ó thaobh geilleagair ach an leas náisiúnta, an leas sóisialach an rud is airde. Is maith liom go bhfuil an tuairim sin ag an Aire agus beimid ag súil le rudaí níos fearr as seo amach ná mar bhí súil againn leo go dtí seo.
Chuir mé spéis an-mhór sa bpíosa cainte a rinne an tAire faoi Alt 5 agus an míniú a thug sé dúinn ar an dóigh a bhreathnós sé ar obair na gcigirí agus ar an mbealach a dhéanfas na cigirí a gcuid oibre. Bhí na cigirí faoi dhrochmheas ag an Aire uair amháin, ach tá sé anois ag iarraidh ar na coistí contae talmhaíochta níos mó cigirí a cheapadh. Athraíonn an tAire a intinn faoin a lán rudaí agus is maith liom go bhfuil a intinn athraithe i dtaobh ceist seo na cigireachta. Ní bhaineann na cigirí feidhm as an dlí ach an uair a mbeadh gá leis. Nach mar sin a bhí an scéal i gcónaí? Nach mar sin a bhí an scéal faoin Rialtas a bhí ann roimhe seo? Cuirfear an dlí i bhfeidhm go  láidir ar na daoine ar cheart an dlí a chur orthu. Bhfuil a fhios ag aon duine aon ócáid ar baineadh feidhm mí-cheart ag an Rialtas a bhí ann roimhe as coras na cigireachta? Nach bhfuil a fhios ag aon duine go mba é polosaí na gcigirí gan chur isteach ar daoine ach a laghad agus a bfhéidir? Taitníonn liom go mór an dearcadh nua seo a bheith ag an Aire i dtaobh cigirí agus riachtanas cigirí.
Ar aon chuma, ní shílim gur gá dom tada eile a rá faoin scéal. Chomh fada agus a théas an prionsabal, is é sin, feabhas a chur ar an talamh agus cuidiú le feilméaraí níos fearr ná mar rinneadh go dtí seo, chomh fada agus a théann sé, cuspóir don tsórt seo a bhaint amach, is maith agus is rí-mhaith liom an Bille seo. Tá súil againn go mbeidh an toradh air a bhfuil súil againn ar fad leis. Is duine mise a chreideas, mar chreideas an mhuintir atá anseo liom, má theastaíonn uainn caighdeán maireachtála na ndaoine sa tír seo a ardú, ní ardóimid é ach de bharr breis táirgiúlachta. Caithfimid a bheith cinnte, má cuirtear é sin ar bun, nach de bharr fiacha a chur orainn é nach mbeimid i ndon a íoc. Rinne mé tagairt don treo a bhfuil na dolaeirí ag gluaiseacht agus ba mhaith liom go bpléifí an scéal sin, agus má tá míniú air, seachas an míniú atá agam, ba mhaith liom é a chloisint. Is maith liom an beartas agus tá súil agam, má bhíonn gá dhúinn cur síos ar an gceist arís, go mbeidh an chosúlacht uirthi í bheith ag dul chun cinn chomh sásúil agus ba mhaith linn ar fad.
Mr. Baxter: Senator Ó Buachalla may feel that the part which he had to play was to speak as slightingly as he could of the measure before the House. It is not a very big part for any man and particularly a responsible member of this House. I suppose, as through the course of history, men have stood in the shadow of great events without having been in the least conscious of the fact. Perhaps Senator Ó Buachalla stood in that place to-night.
Mr. Baxter: This measure, in my judgment, and, I believe, in the judgment of many farmers from Connaught, is going to be written down as one of the biggest events in the history of this State since its establishment and the fact that the Minister who initiated this measure takes a pride in his work is, I think, justifiable. A great deal of Ireland's history, sad, tragic, and noble, has been woven around the activities of our people on the soil. I can recall a day when, 50 years ago, I was a very small boy, my father came to the school and, taking me by the hand, fetched me to a political meeting in the village about a mile from my home. There, at the meeting, he lifted me up so that I might see the speaker, who on that day in the remote village of Bawnboy in the County of Cavan was John Dillon. He was there raising his voice, addressing a crowd of people from the parish and from the adjoining parish who had collected to hear him in protest against the eviction of a small Protestant farmer. The eviction had taken place and the man's Catholic neighbours had rallied around and built him a small home on the roadside adjoining his farm.
Many events, great and small, have taken place in this country since then. I would hardly have dreamed on that day that Irishmen in their own Parliament would have the son of John Dillon enunciating for them a new planned policy for progressive agriculture based on the land which John Dillon and his colleagues of those days defended so heroically so that the men who lived on that land might hand it down to their sons so that by right and title they might call it their own. I think that everybody in this House and those who know anything of the remote or the more recent history of their country should be glad and proud to be able to make a contribution to this policy and have every right to take justifiable pride with the  Minister that these days when we can do these things are with us. I have said a great deal of our history has been bound up with the land. The Minister when he came to office was, in my judgment, confronted with very considerable difficulties. Not only was he faced with depleted flocks and herds but the land of the country was impoverished and in a very run-down condition. Poverty of the soil means poverty for the people on and working on it. It means poverty for the workers employed thereon which in turn means poverty for the villages, towns and traders. Low farm income means low purchasing capacity for the farming community and the vicious circle goes on impoverishing the country as a whole. You cannot have a high spending capacity on the part of the farmers where you have land poor and impoverished.
That was how the Minister found it when he took over office. He expressed the opinion that there was no great encouragement in the past for the people to put their energy and savings into the land, but I think he was perhaps rather kind in not pointing to the fact how over a period of years the policy of impoverishment of the soil has gone on. For a number of years the earnings from the land in this country were so low that farmers were unable to meet current charges much less be in the position of putting back into the soil anything to restore its fertility. The Minister found, with other things, a decrepit machine, and, looking across the country to see what they could do, he and his colleagues came to the conclusion that unless the land is strong and vigorous the people of the country must suffer. He has planned this scheme, and I think the attitude which this House on all sides should adopt towards it should be to make it wider and better if that is possible, and to extend the maximum of support to the Minister to encourage him in the good work. If we have any contributions to make to the scheme or any suggestions whatever, I am sure they will be received by the Minister and valued by him and they will help him in his task.
 As far as this Bill is concerned it cannot be said to be anything more than an enabling measure. We have no great experience of the work which the Minister has set himself, and we have got to learn. There are, no doubt technicians and young men of considerable ability in the Department, but there is very little experience of this work, while the attitude heretofore has been to reject much of the advice offered in regard to the necessity for a scientific approach to our land problems. Now, we have something new. I agree with the Minister when he says that the courage and the imagination of the Minister for Finance is something which must be commended. However optimistic or aggressive a Minister may be, without the active and sympathetic consideration of the Minister for Finance he could not hope to succeed.
The scheme, as I see it in the initial stages, is going to apply to eight counties, to which another county is soon to be added and the possibilities will only unfold themselves as the work proceeds. I feel, however, that it would be very unfortunate to have any definite views formed now as to what exactly can be done. We have got a great deal to discover about the nature of the soil. Scientists all over the world are only beginning to learn about things which are there, but which were known to the ancients. A great deal of information is only tapped in that way by those working on the land. There is, for instance, a decline in production, there is bad farming, waste, and eroded soils in many continents, all the fruit of lack of knowledge as well as recklessness in farming.
To a certain extent we have neglected the soil. It is this soil the Minister is attempting to reconstruct, and as the first step in his plan he has a scheme of drainage. I do not know if people in Connaught have the idea that, in the main, the problem is one which applies to poorer land. I think we would be astonished at the extent to which this part of the scheme will be operated on some of our best land. It is true that in poor counties in the  West and also in Cavan drainage is essential, as acid soil makes the proper cultivation of grass crops practically impossible. A great deal of such land will benefit, but many Senators may not be aware that large areas of Meath and Westmeath, where we have the best land in Europe, will come in under this scheme and benefit by it.
The problem of wet soil requires drainage. I have certain views with regard to the method of approach to the problem that I have not had an opportunity of expressing but that I want to discuss now, because I think that such approach may be of considerable importance. It is true that if soil is very wet and heavy or of a retentive nature full development is only possible after proper drainage. The question is: what is proper drainage? That requires close study at the beginning, and it would be advisable that that aspect should be attended to before we go too far.
Under the Minister's plans there is to be made available powerful machinery for drainage. That is essential. The capital expenditure involved there is beyond the capacity of many farmers unless enterprising contractors or people who own much land are prepared to invest in the enterprise. I have recently seen some planned drainage carried out in another area, and I suggest to the Minister and to his technical advisers that it would be well worth while investigating the possibility of that plan. I saw a farm containing over 700 acres consisting of stiff heavy clay, similar to a good deal of the soil that has to be dealt with, and the work of sub-soiling machines there has been astonishing. The gentleman who owns the farm who carried out the work is probably the most advanced agriculturist in the 32 Counties. The machine was a 50 horse-power caterpillar tractor and it operated on 60 or 80 acres at first. The scientific effects were remarkable. The work was carried out in the autumn and, according to the owner, the results were equivalent to the application of at least two cwts. of sulphate of ammonia per acre. Apparently after subsoiling a nitrofication process took place which was astonishing.
Drainage of the soil is something  about which farmers have to be rather careful. The British have had some strange experiences, as they discovered in some areas that they had taken the water out of the soil all too quickly. Later this had serious results in a water shortage. Before such work is done, I suggest that it is well worthy of investigation, as I am convinced that we have a great deal to learn about it. It is better that we should learn early. There must be trial and error. It is important, accordingly, that we should make our discoveries as early as possible.
The plan for the application of phosphate of lime on these soils is something that is absolutely essential. Drainage alone will not re-establish a healthy condition in the soil. We have to see that this soil condition is corrected. I suggest to the Minister that when dealing with the land, whether in Connaught or Leinster, not only are drainage, liming and phosphates essential, but there is something which is of equal importance, the sowing of proper seeds. When the Minister's technicians go on a farm to study the conditions there with regard to what is to be done I believe that in a great many instances it will be fruitful for these technicians to advise the farmers to plough their pastures and re-seed them. I believe we will get the quickest and best results in that way. I do not know the position at the moment. I know there are certain prejudices against the policy of reseeding—or, at least, there were certain prejudices in that respect among certain people in this part of the country. I have had opportunities of discussing this problem with many people up and down the country. I am convinced that there is a very considerable lack of information—even amongst our technicians—on this score. I want to suggest that there are ways and means and places where information, which is absolutely reliable and incontrovertible, can be had on this subject. When we attempt to measure the results of proper cultivation of our grass lands against the kind of thing that has been going on we can visualise what the consequences would be for the nation as a whole if,  in conjunction with the Minister's policy of draining and of fertilising the soil, we attempted a proper scheme of cultivation and sowing of proper seeds. Any measurements we have so far down here indicate that while we get about 10 cwts. of dry matter per acre it is possible to get 30 cwts.
Mr. Baxter: I am looking at it at the moment. I realise that, and I shall discuss it as the Minister has raised the matter. What I want to stress in regard to this matter is that I do not think that we are to wait until a sufficient supply of the kind of seeds which the Minister is going to propagate will be available.
Mr. Baxter: I accept that, but I think it would be a mistake if the emphasis is going to be on the question of developing indigenous strains and if the other aspect of the plan is to be left in abeyance until we are producing what we regard as the most suitable grasses. I hope the Minister will see that his officers will very vigorously propagate that doctrine throughout the whole country.
There is, however, an aspect of this problem to which I do not think sufficient attention has been given. The Minister has to get all the land of the country into proper condition and proper heart. The increase in our exports is going to be determined by the extent to which we are able to increase production and it is going to be determined also by the speed with which we can reach our maximum production. If it is going to take us a considerable number of years before maximum production can be reached, then our whole economy is going to suffer. I think that the position in regard to agriculture is going to become increasingly difficult. There is no question that it is not going to be difficult to prevent a break in prices. If agricultural prices break here our whole economy is going to suffer and, it could be, badly shattered. But if there is to be a struggle and a battle  amongst farming communities in different countries to keep a hold on the market, those who have raised their production to the maximum, those who are able to produce most economically and those who are able to put the best goods on the market at the lowest price will be able to hold on. It is the farmer who is able to increase the starch production on his acre from 1,000 units to 3,000 units who is going to be best able to carry his rates, rent, labour costs and to give to the consumer the kind of product the consumer wants and at the price the consumer wants it at. That is not going to be such a simple problem on many farms.
It is a great mistake to imagine that because a farm may be dry the farm land is good. That is an aspect of this whole problem of the rehabilitation of our soil to which I think further attention must be given. The Minister is making provision here for the development of hill farming, and that, I think, will cover very great areas in the country where rehabilitation is necessary. I do not know exactly what the Minister has in mind with regard to hill farming. A good deal of information is available from what has been done in Wales and elsewhere in regard to this matter. I think that we can very greatly improve the carrying capacity and the productive capacity of the hills of this country by the acceptance of a technique which is known elsewhere. However, there is land on the plains which is not any richer than many of these hill farms we are going to deal with. It is a very peculiar problem. It is a problem about which a great many of our people know very little. It is not a problem of which any of our Cavan farmers have any experience whatever. I think it is confined to certain areas in the country, but it is a difficult problem for the farmers in those areas, and I think that the Minister and his officials will have to sit down and put their thinking caps on them to consider what is to be done for these people, because an increase in their productive capacity is as urgent and important for the nation as a  whole as the improvement of the hill farm or the wet fields in my county.
I can recall going a number of years ago to two farms in County Wexford. It was an absolutely new experience for me. I visited one of these farms some time in the month of February. A farmer was ploughing in one of the fields. As I was going down to the farmer on business a terrific shower came on. I had provided against the rain. The farmer just stopped his horses in the field and, with a sack on his shoulders, he stood until the storm blew over. That was for some 20 minutes or more. When I got to the field he was ploughing he waited for about five or seven minutes before he started his horses again. On my way over to him I noticed water rushing down just where the last score had been ploughed. That went on for six or seven minutes. Then it was dry. The farmer started his horses again and there was not a sign of rain. Had I had the same experience in one of my own fields I might take my horses away because I would not be able to put them back on it for a month. However, in the case of this County Wexford farmer the open, porous character of the soil was such that anything could rush through it. That means that its fertility was being washed away. It was a very poor farm—the farmer's conditions indicated that and, as a matter of fact, that was why I was there. That is a real problem. No man could grow rich or have a decent standard of living on a farm with soil such as that. Enough is not known about that problem. Somehow people get the idea that people who live on such soils are silent. They make a terrific effort to live. They work from dawn till dark. They must live by the fruits of their labours. They are always toiling and yet a great many of them are in debt.
I can recall another farm which I visited in the same county. The cattle were lying in the fields —it was a warm day in July— and I never saw poorer cattle in my life. They were just obviously subsisting until the harvest crops were gathered and they were put in and fed for the winter. There was not a sign of grass on the field. I inquired when  it was cultivated and was told that three of four years ago it was under cultivation, that it had been set out with a grass crop but there was not a vestige of cultivation on it. We have soils like that which present a special problem, they are of a type of which nothing is known in a number of counties. If these people are to have a decent standard of life and make a reasonable contribution to the country's total production, they must get help of a kind that they never have been given in the past and that requires study of a problem which has not been revealed up to the present.
The Minister is making a major contribution to the further development of our resources. What he is attempting is both courageous and imaginative. It would be a mistake for any of us to think we know everything about the land and about nature. The more intimate you try to become with the ways of nature and the reactions of the soil to the different activities of man, the more you realise how little you know about it and how careful you have to be in speaking dogmatically or planning what we ought to do. I suggest that this measure is, in the main, an enabling one. We should all wish it well, accepting it for what it is and realising that we are going to do something new. Many things may not turn out as we would wish, but they are being attempted in the right spirit and with the right motive. If each in his own way will try to make a decent contribution, both in advice and in effort, the country will get much out of this measure, and progress will be as marked, as in the case of the struggle of men of another generation, of whom I spoke at the beginning of my remarks.
Professor O'Brien: I must congratulate the Minister on his excellent Bill, which is calculated to rehabilitate the soil of the country. He has said several times since he became Minister that the whole wealth of Ireland is derived from the soil. In a general way that is probably true but, at the same time, the urban dweller must not allow too much importance to be attached to the primary producer. The Minister has had the benefit—a questionable  benefit, perhaps—of studying the science of Political Economy in University College, Dublin, and is no doubt familiar with the earlier school of economy, the Physiocrats, who maintained that the only true source of production of the national wealth is in the landowners and farmers. I do not suggest, however, that the Minister is liable to fall into the physiocratic heresy. Having struck that blow on behalf of the non-agricultural section of the population, I will admit that the farmers are, from the production point of view, the most important section, especially in regard to exports. As the Minister has emphasised frequently, so truly, every percentage increase in production will mean a greater percentage increase in exports. From the point of view of the balance of payments and the financial repercussions, increased exports are greatly to be desired.
It always gives me great pleasure to find that, in 1949—when so much water has flowed under bridges, and, I am sorry to say, in Europe so much blood —the principles of agriculture which were held by the first distinguished Minister for Agriculture in this country have been completely vindicated by the course of events. It gives me great pleasure to congratulate the Minister on carrying on the policy of that first Minister, who was assailed on all sides by people less wise and less prescient than he and who called him in derision the “Minister for Grass.” That is one of the terms which, born in derision, live to be lauded. I am not sure that the Minister would like to be titled by any other name than that of the “Minister for Grass.” It is true, in a vivid sense, that all flesh is grass, all human and animal life, all exports, all means of subsistence, ultimately come from grass. It has been stated by Senator Baxter that all production is bound up with drainage. That is why this Bill is particularly welcome. It is directed towards the drainage of the land and will bring about, we all hope, a serious contribution to general productivity, to the standard of living, to the volume of agricultural production and to exports.
I cannot sufficiently express my agreement with what the Minister said  regarding the distinction to be drawn between State help and self help. Part of my education has been derived from Sir Horace Plunkett and Father Finlay, who emphasised the great necessity for self help and the necessity to draw a line between these two things. Most of my lessons I learned from these two preceptors.
The investment which is being made in drainage in this Bill is a truly productive investment from the national point of view. Perhaps I am too broadminded in seeing round a problem and have not the single-minded enthusiasm for a cause which makes a really great Minister. Seeing too much round the problem leads to inefficiency, but I cannot help feeling, from the point of view of investments, that liquidity when one has to repay the debt is not entirely undesirable. Whatever the Minister may say, from the point of view of liquidity, this is not perhaps quite as good an investment as the despised and derided consolidated stocks referred to earlier in the debate.
Professor O'Brien: I said that I saw sufficiently around the subject to say that perhaps there was something to be said for the liquidity of consolidated stock and something to be said for drainage for dryness.
Professor O'Brien: The real point is that I do agree with the Minister of course that it is an excellent investment. I am very glad to see that Marshall Aid, these funds which are being piled up, should be put to such an admirably productive purpose, and it is only fair for us to say that the State as a whole is under great debt to the United States of America, not only for the provision of Marshall Aid, but for the readiness of the administrators to consent to the investment of the accumulated funds for this wholly admirable purpose.
I would ask the Minister to recall  that in the course of his speech he referred to the necessity for improving the land and the people on the land. I suggest that in addition to drainage, the provision of seed and the other measures we have discussed this evening, there are other directions in which there might be an admirable investment, increased agricultural education and increased agricultural expertise. I hope that the same funds which are being utilised to build up the land will be utilised to build up the men on the land and I hope to see a great extension of agricultural education and agricultural research during the next few years. I hope if that programme is carried through that my own college, which is associated with the Albert College at Glasnevin which has borne the burden and heat of the day when there was not so much support or so much money for it, will not be entirely neglected in the course of this educational development.
This brings me to the point that the Minister invited questions and I might as well ask them. With regard to repayment through annuities, the Minister suggested that conservative and hide-bound financiers might object to a 60-year annuity. I do not plead guilty to any of these titles, and even if I did, I do not see anything wrong with a 60-year annuity. The only reason I referred to annuities was to give the Minister an opportunity of clearing up the considerable amount of confusion which exists in the public mind regarding the position of the annuities since the Land Act of 1933. If the Minister looked at paragraph 517 of the Banking Report he would see a question asked by the Banking Commission which has never been answered by any Minister of this or the last Government, a question which affects the welfare of every farmer in this country.
Mr. Dillon: May I inquire, if the Senator will excuse me, in Heaven's name how am I regarded as the responsible Minister to answer a question regarding Land Commission procedure which has remained unanswered for 11 years?
Professor O'Brien: Without pursuing it in the form of a question perhaps, Sir, I may address you and the Seanad in the indicative mood again to state my own reaction to the Minister's speech which does not call for a reply.
Professor O'Brien: I have been, together with a great many people, puzzled by the whole question of land purchase annuities and I did feel that in the Minister's speech the mystery had been solved because the Minister stated this evening that these new annuities in repayment of land reclamation advances were to run for 60 years, on the same terms, I think he said, and concommitant in every way with, the land purchase annuities. It occurred to me that here is the answer to the question which has been unanswered for years; if the two annuities are alike in every way then we have an answer to the question the Banking Commission asked and nobody answered, that is that the annuities are to run for 60 years. I think he has said so and therefore I am not asking the Minister for any reply other than his own. I would draw the attention of the Seanad to this interesting revelation: for the first time a Minister has stated that the land purchase annuities halved by the Act of 1933 will terminate in 60 years and not, as the Banking Commission feared, now that the sinking fund provisions seem to have been dropped, remain as a permanent charge on the land.
Mr. Summerfield: I would like to compliment the Minister on his striking departure, if I may say his characteristic departure, in producing this picturesque presentation of the  question. It would be a good thing if other Ministers, notably the Minister for Finance, would take a leaf out of his book in presenting their cases particularly at Budget time. I do not intervene as a rule in matters which are peculiarly agricultural, but I suggest that this is not so peculiarly agricultural as the average matter relating to farmers which comes before us. I would rather regard it as a business proposition. If, as Senator O'Brien indicated, we are forced to admit, and do admit, that the economy of the country is based on the land and if our present position is based on a position which I will call X and if under this Bill before us X is going to become X plus, then obviously we are going to increase the capital assets of the country on which all of us live. I just have had the advantage of travelling through the Continent and you do not need to be very observant to note the complete utilisation of the soil there. France has been through a devastating war and I challenge anyone who has had the experience I have had in the past few weeks of travelling hundreds of miles through France to see an inch, literally an inch, of waste ground. We are going to utilise the sterling moneys which are going to be deposited against the dollars we are spending now for this project. On the face of it, I, personally, am inclined to welcome this proposal.
The expert farmers in this House will, perhaps, in the course of the debate reveal criticisms which I am not capable of revealing. I do not profess to have a knowledge of farming matters, but if criticisms are put forward the Minister will no doubt do his best to dispose of them. We are really being asked to finance an enterprise, a project which envisages faith, not in the present but in the future, and that faith is going to presuppose the continuance of our ability to dispose of our exportable agricultural produce. I suggest, because of the present hazy condition of world currency, the hazy condition particularly of sterling itself, that in the development of this ambitious scheme which is now before the House more consideration should really be given than has been given up to now to the provision of an alternative  market for the produce we are going to export. The Minister undoubtedly has this in mind, but we must remember that we are going to be repaid in 60 years' time in sterling, presumably, unless we change our currency in the meantime, against the dollars we are spending now, and for that reason we must look into the position which will be created if we continue to pile up sterling assets of doubtful exchange value later on. I agree with Senator O'Brien when he says how much we are indebted to the United States for Marshall Aid. Marshall Aid is one thing that is going to help Europe and we, even though we are on the outskirts, are in Europe. In itself Marshall Aid is an investment, and it is also an insurance policy, and we have to take the view that whatever we get to-day must in God's good time be repaid.
I do not intend going into the details of the scheme as has been done by farmer Senators but I welcome the provision in the Bill for up-to-date machinery, which is going to do more than develop our farms. As I see it, it will benefit not only the farmers themselves but it will give an incentive to mechanically-minded young men to stay on the land and that is going to go a long way to stopping emigration and will enable these young men to stay where they can be of best service to the nation. If the machinery of the Bill is going to result in the creation of squads of expert technicians, that is going to lead to benefits which even the Minister himself could not estimate. In addition to the benefit which it is going to be to the agricultural community it is a good business proposition. It is a measure that is a credit to the Minister and I trust that his highest hopes in the matter will be fully realised by results.
Colonel Ryan: I welcome the Bill, which I think is a revolutionary step in regard to Irish agriculture. It is my experience that the small farmer with ten, 15 or 25 acres was always in a difficult position, dragging the devil by the tail, and his small family were forced to emigrate except the one son who was to get the farm. He, in turn, started off on the farm with very little  to carry on and was soon in as difficult a position as his father who had passed it on to him. It was the sons of these farmers who provided the bulk of the emigrants and the names on the list of registered unemployed. I believe that, apart from the scientific aspects, the measure is going to benefit those farmers. It will further provide employment for the sons of these farmers on the bigger farms throughout the country and on drainage works. For that reason I am convinced that it will go a long way to stop emigration and to help to solve the unemployment problem in the rural communities. It would also encourage us to become machine-minded in farm operations.
There are many views on restoration of fertility to the soil but I think that what is now badly needed is manuring and seeding and this can now be properly done under the provisions of this measure. I think we can safely leave the matter in the hands of our Minister and I am sure that if the scientists and the officials of his Department are not doing their work and giving the scheme every chance of success he will soon get others to do it. I hope that the measure will be passed through with the greatest possible speed and that we will be given the chance of using it to the maximum advantage. It certainly is a better investment than anything to be found elsewhere, to put the money into our land. I am not one who favours compulsion but if there are recalcitrant and bad farmers who will not take advantage of the scheme then compulsion must be used especially since we are investing the money of the people. I believe this to be the safest investment and in restoring the land it will teach our farmers to be self reliant. While the small farmers of whom I have spoken would reap an advantage the bigger farmers will also find a great advantage in the Bill. They will be able to avail of the provisions because they will have the money to carry on. I think we can safely leave the matter to the Minister and his technicians and if they do not make a job of it then we will have the opportunity of criticising them next year.
Captain Orpen: I welcome this Bill  and I think the Minister for Agriculture in introducing it has shown that great vision in regard to the land which many of us have been waiting on for a long time. As I see it this Bill might be called and styled “good husbandry on a national scale”. In a way we are using some of the nation's assets and ploughing them back into the land. We all admit that quite a large part of the nation's assets has, either directly or indirectly, been derived from agriculture and the opportunity is now being taken to put them back into the land.
When we come to look at this Bill in detail, we see that there are three classes of land that, in the main, can avail of its provisions. They include wet land, which needs field drainage, land that requires reclamation in some form, presumably, land covered with scrub, or stones, while a third category on which, unfortunately, very little was said, concerns hill land and hill grazing. I want to say a few words, in relation to the first category, on field drainage. People are inclined to think that much of the land of this country is quite satisfactory, and that field drainage will not improve it very much. That is a mistake. In a country where there is a high rainfall the object is to make the best use of that rainfall and, as it were to pass it through the land, so that the excess is not held in the soil, but is removed as soon as possible. Naturally we do not want to consider the microscopic quantity of water that is held in the soil and that stays there under normal circumstances. We have another type of soil which suffers from lack of drainage, because of its nature percolation is difficult. There is some such land in Northern counties like Monaghan and Cavan where the soil is capable of improvement, probably by more drainage. Another category is found to a large extent in the Midlands, where you have not only to have it broken but to have underground field drainage.
What I am hoping from this Bill is a study of soil problems as they appear on the farm. It is very easy for engineers to lay down a scheme of drainage, but the tendency in many cases to-day is that for safety the engineer lays down an over-elaborate scheme.  You can observe land that obviously requires drainage, and you are apt to think that all that has to be done is to remove water off it. What should really be done in many cases is to see if a cure could be found at the source of the trouble. If that could be cured the work could be done cheaper than by trying to drain a large area. I do not say that there is a specific source of trouble in every case, but very often there is. I have seen numerous examples of elaborate drainage schemes that were laid down, where ultimately the source when discovered could have been dealt with by one drain. However, it is easy to be wise after the event. I hope the experts will study carefully the knowledge that people gained in the past in regard to such matters.
As to the problem of hill drainage, I am sorry the Minister is not here, because I want to quote him on that subject. When speaking in the Dáil last month, col. 173 of the Dáil Debates, he rather hinted that we knew very little about hill land or its problems. He said: “The improvement of hill drainage is quite unbroken territory in this country and has never been done before.” Very little has been done, but it was only in recent years that a complete solution became possible for the renovation of hill pastures. That was not possible until the advent of heavy implements and powerful tractors. Anybody interested in the subject should, I suggest, go to Wales to see what has been done there under the scheme of farm hill experiments where, after 15 years of pioneering work, the ordinary hill farmer there is carrying out high level reclamation on his own account and at his own expense, with the help of the hill subsidy and also the hill-sheep subsidy. As the Minister stated, we know very little about the way to tackle that job. I suggest that the Minister or his officials should visit one or two farms which, in a small way, have been for 25 years renovating hill land, and have partially succeeded and in parts failed. As everybody knows, more can be learned from failure than from success. Success often hides various steps that lead to it. while failure often gives a clue on what not to do. It has been suggested  by some people that in this Bill the Minister should have utilised these funds for improving better land than that referred to in Section 1, and that by so doing he would have more rapidly increased production. That is quite true. He would have, but that is not the object of this Bill. I think the primary object of the Bill is to restore to the nation land which has gone out of cultivation and which could not by any possible stretch of the imagination have been rehabilitated out of the profits of the farmers themselves working on these farms. The Minister has confined himself to difficult land, and, by difficult land, I mean land which is technically difficult and costly to rehabilitate, and it is just for the reason that it is difficult and costly that the farmer owning such land would have little chance of making sufficient profits out of the good part of his holding to restore and renovate the bad. In the old days before 1850, this land was in full use. A plentiful supply of unpaid family labour allowed the farmer to do things 100 years ago that it is difficult to do to-day. However, it is to be hoped that, with the help given in this Bill, assisted by modern equipment, farmers and contractors will be able to rehabilitate and bring back into production this land which 100 years ago gave crops and fed men and beasts.
Mr. S. O'Farrell: A city man should be as interested in this Bill as any farmer. There are times when we criticise the farmers and times when we poke fun at them, but there is never an occasion when we can ignore the farmer, or when we can even pretend that we can get on without the farmer's help. We can live—there is no use in saying these things at any great length—if we are driven to it without any section of the industrial community, but we can never live without the food producer. As a city man, therefore, I think that anything that can be done to improve the land is a benefit to the community generally. I know from travelling around the country, and I have travelled a considerable amount in the last few years, there is a tremendous amount of land  in need of rehabilitation and I know also that it has got into a state of neglect because it was not in one generation or in two that the neglect occurred but has been spread over a considerable period.
If the Minister were here, I would question him on the use of the words “free grant.” I see no free grant for the farmers in this. Even though he has showered leaflets on us in explanation of the Bill, I still do not regard it as a free grant. If a farmer is paid a contribution towards the cost of doing necessary improvements on his land in order that the community might be assured in the future of sufficient foodstuffs for their own use and for export, he is merely being paid a wage for work done. If a labourer is employed in building a house in which he himself may subsequently live, his wages are not called a free grant. I have no objection to the farmer getting all the Government proposes to give him now, but I do not think it will be a free grant. The farmer has to pay back his share of it, but, if I were a farmer I would object to that. Somebody who does not take the trouble to examine the Bill or to look into its details, will say that the farmers are getting millions out of this Government. The farmers may be getting millions out of this Government or any other Government, but they will not get anything from any Government, unless they give something in return or, at least, the prospect of something in return.
There is one question which has not been made clear to me by either the Bill or the explanatory leaflet. I am not sure whether we have been discussing the Land Reclamation Bill or the land rehabilitation project leaflet. The two things are not identical. Section 2 sub-section (1) of the Bill says that the Minister may, at the request of the occupier of land, carry out works. Nowhere in the Bill, except by inference, is it made clear that the farmer or occupier may himself carry out the work. I assume it could be done, because the explanatory leaflet specifically states: “If you are not able to do it or to have it done, the Department will do it.”
 It is quite clear from both the leaflet and the Bill that before the work is done by the Department or by a contractor, the Government will give an estimate of the cost and will also state what proportion of the money is to be given to the occupier for his share of the work, but I wonder how the Estimate will be made up. It will not cost exactly the same amount of money to drain every field or every acre. It will be more costly in one place than another and I am wondering what the wage content of the estimate will be. In some places, much more labour will be required to do the work even of removing fences and other works specified in the Bill, and how much of the labour will be paid labour? If the Department supplies the workers, what rate of wages do they contemplate paying and putting into the estimate? That, I think, is a relevant question. If they pay the agricultural rate of wage, they probably will not get sufficient workers to carry out the scheme. If they pay more than the current agricultural rate, they will probably attract men from the farms, and will create another problem. I merely mention these things, because, if we see in advance that things are likely to occur which may be troublesome, it is better face them now than to have to face them later on. I do not suppose there are many farmers who have sufficient sons of their own to carry out any reasonably big reclamation scheme, even on their own farms. Most of the sons of farmers, with the exception of one, or perhaps two in some cases, have left the country and gone to seek employment elsewhere. Therefore, even a farmer who undertakes to do the work himself will have to rely on hired labour, and I do not know whether a farmer will get the necessary labour to do the work for the price the Department may estimate when calculating what grant or allowance they will make for it.
Mr. Hawkins: The purpose of this Bill, as the Minister pointed out, is to provide ways and means for the reclamation of land, which may be carried out under three headings. My point in intervening in the debate is to ask  one or two questions in relation to the carrying out of the scheme. The first arrangement is that the work may be carried out by the owner on the basis of a grant of a certain amount being made; the second, that the work may be carried out by the Department on the basis of an arrangement made with the owner of the land so improved to pay at the rate of £12 per acre on completion of the work; and the third that the Department may carry out the work, the cost being spread over 60 years and repayable by an annuity of £4 8s. 11d. To take the first part, if a farmer undertakes to carry out the work under this scheme he is entitled to get two-thirds of the estimated cost. The estimated cost may come to a considerable amount if the farmer undertakes large-scale drainage. I would put it to the Minister that it is expecting too much of the ordinary farmer to think that he will be in a position to pay for the labour involved up to the completion of this work, without any assistance, and I submit that provision should be made whereby part payments would be made as the work progresses.
Again, where the owner of land enters into a contract with the Department to carry out the drainage and to repay a sum of £12 an acre, if the farmer undertakes large-scale developments it is too much to expect that he will be in a position to pay—take, for instance, 20 acres at £12 per acre—and there should be an arrangement whereby payment would be made in instalments as the work progresses.
This is not the first Government scheme which has been introduced for land reclamation. We have had in the past number of years many such schemes — the farm improvements scheme, the farm buildings scheme, the lime distribution scheme, the fertilisers subsidy scheme and many other schemes on which almost £1,000,000 was paid annually to our farmers. I have great doubts but that, by a more liberal extension of the farm improvements scheme, we might possibly make better progress than we will make under this particular scheme. I should like to have from the Minister information as to whether it is proposed to  carry on, side by side with this special scheme, the various other schemes that are already in operation. This scheme, to begin with, will only apply in eight counties. If we are going to deprive the remainder of the country from availing of the farm improvements scheme, the farm buildings scheme, the lime subsidy scheme and the various other schemes until such time as it is possible to spread this scheme all over the country we shall be placing all those other counties at a severe disadvantage.
Another point that has been recommended by the Drainage Report and again by the persons appointed to carry out our land survey is the carrying out of all drainage in consultation with the main Drainage Board. It has been pointed out by both people that it is essential to have this consultation as otherwise serious damage could be done. Another point is that where a farmer carries out this scheme he has to pay £12 per acre and yet it is quite possible that in the carrying out of this scheme not alone will his land benefit but the land of his neighbour may also benefit. No provision is made so that the payments demanded will correspond with the distribution of benefits.
Some Senators have said that this is a step in the right direction and that it will put back into cultivation lands which have gone to waste over a number of years. When one travels up and down the country one sees sometimes so much scrubland that one would wish not alone for a Bill of this kind but sometimes even for compulsory powers so that some of the land now lying waste could be brought back to cultivation. If we examine the problem we will find that it goes back to the time when our people went out of tillage. As the tillage acreage declined acre by acre so, too, did our population decline. While it may be suggested that the policy we put before the people as a Party was a tillage policy that does not mean that we were against the proper cultivation of grasslands. I hold that you cannot have proper grass lands if you have not tillage. One thing that is important, and more important now from the Minister's point of view having regard to  the many statements which were made in the past, is that he should make it quite clear that it is in the interests of the country as a whole and particularly of the farmers that we should have a proper rotation of crops. Otherwise, the £4,000,000 or the £40,000,000—whether it is to be paid in dollars or in sterling—will be of no use. To do that we must have education. The draining of the land and making it fertile is not sufficient if our farmers do not know how to utilise that land to the best advantage. In the near future we shall be in a position to compete with people who are highly mechanised as far as their agriculture is concerned, who have high technical advice and who have developed much further than we have developed in that direction. Then we shall find that we shall have losses and that we shall not be in a position even to repay the money we have put into this project. With that education also must go an encouragement to our farmers to do what any shrewd businessman will do.
A businessman will always put his money into his business to expand it. He will not be reluctant to borrow money from the bank for the expansion of his business in general. However, the farmer, in many cases I am afraid, is too fond of putting the money in the bank and of not putting anything back into the land which he has taken out of it. In our improved agricultural education we must bear that point in mind. We must make a very serious attempt to impress on our farmers the importance of putting a good share of the profits which they take out of the land back into the land again. I think I said before that their present attitude is due to many causes. It is due to the lack of credit facilities for our farmers. It is due also to a system that has grown up whereby there must be a dowry for each of the daughters if they are to be married out of the home and, further, it is due to the fact that the farmer feels more secure when he has the money in the bank and ready at his hand for occasions of this kind. These are the reasons why he is so reluctant to put some of his money back into the land.
The Minister held out very little hope of doing what I think is the first  essential in this problem, namely, assisting those who have good land, land that does not require drainage but which, over a number of years—and probably during the emergency period —has supplied the food for this nation. That land has now gone out of fertility. It needs lime and fertilisers generally. There is no provision in this Bill to meet cases of that kind.
If the Minister were present now I would urge him to encourage our farmers to go in for a more generous use of fertilisers. We have the position, as I pointed out on the Finance Bill, that the Department of Agriculture is giving very bad example and a very bad lead in this direction. During the emergency years vouchers were issued to those who grew wheat. The position at the present time is that the 1945 vouchers have not yet been recognised or provision made whereby the people would get the amount of fertiliser credit which these vouchers would entitle them to. In reply to a question in the Dáil recently the Minister said that it would probably be the end of July before the 1945 wheat-growing vouchers would be provided for and that it might take two or three years before the 1946 and the 1947 vouchers would be reached. If we are going to spend £4,000,000 or £40,000,000 on this scheme of reclamation of what we consider not first-class land, should we not give our first attention to the land that is there ready to increase production? The Minister's argument was that he had no staff and that it would necessitate the recruiting of it. Surely the Minister, in his enthusiasm to put over this scheme, is not going to baulk at the mere taking on of even a small temporary staff to deal with this important matter? I know the amount is small and that the amount of fertilisers which a farmer may purchase on these documents would be insignificant. However, it would be the example, the encouragement and direction that would be given, by getting quickly and directly from the Department such a document, where the farmer may say that he is going to get a quarter ton on the voucher and will make it a ton, that will have a psychological effect which may be of  more benefit than the mere giving of the voucher itself.
I hope this scheme will be a success and I welcome it. It will mean a lot to the country as a whole. We are taking a big risk here, as the moneys for this must come from taxation, or be borrowed and paid back. Therefore, we must make every endeavour to see that the scheme will be a success. The Minister paid tribute to two Ministers for having the moneys made available so readily, and he said he was very grateful. Does that suggest that if there were any other Government in power or any other Ministers the same moneys would not be made available from the same source?
Mr. Ruane: When speaking last week on the Second Stage of the Local Authorities Bill, I referred to it as a type of legislation which this country needs very much. I regard the present Bill as a continuance of that good work and I compliment the Minister and all those concerned with the drafting on the excellent manner in which they have prepared this Bill. It appears to me, in studying it, with the explanatory pamphlet, that no aspect of the situation has been neglected or omitted. The Bill is a short one, and, with the pamphlet, easy to follow, and when the people for whom it is intended become familiar with its provisions the schemes outlined should be easy to operate. Designed, as I take it to be, to put into production the vast areas now impoverished, compelling inducements are offered to the owners of those lands to avail of the provisions of the Bill. Those who are able to carry out the work themselves are being remunerated on a very generous basis, those who have not the necessary labour may have it done for them by payment of a very reasonable figure per acre, and those who have not the necessary capital may have the work done and repayment made over an extended period. I do not know what else could be done to make that  particular feature of the Bill more acceptable to the people for whom it is intended.
One feature of the measure that appeals to me very strongly is the provision it makes for equipping the people with machinery. In the rural areas, our young people have a special aptitude for operating and looking after machinery. Through this Bill, they may become owners of valuable plant and thereby, looking after their own property, prolong its use and get a far more lucrative return by doing less slavish labour than if they had to do on ordinary drainage by manual labour. Considering that the Government is prepared to advance one-third of the cost of plant recommended by its advisors, and to facilitate a loan for another third, these two inducements should make it possible for any group of young men interested in this work to put together the necessary third and thereby provide themselves with the plant, from which they could undertake contract work in their areas and, by doing so, go a long way towards easing the shortage of manual labour.
I take it that one of the fundamental objects of the Bill is to increase production. There are both good and bad farmers, as occurs in every other section of the community, and you had farmers who, during the emergency, in carrying out tillage regulations through intense cropping took the last ounce out of their land; with very poor fertilisers or lack of fertilisers these lands are in an impoverished condition at the present time. I take it that, hand in hand with the work of reclamation, land of that type will receive attention, as it should not be left over until the greater work is done.
The scheme outlined here is a very ambitious one and those concerned with its drafting deserve the gratitude of the people. However, the success of the measure depends on the manner in which the people concerned co-operate with the generous provisions of the Bill. I am quite satisfied, from the information the Minister gave us in introducing the Bill, that the people will co-operate and that, as a result, the objects the Bill sets out to achieve will be brought nearer to us.
Mr. O'Dwyer: I, too, would like to welcome the Bill, as it has great promise of benefits to the country in general. Even outside the actual benefit of the reclamation of land, the expenditure of such a large amount of money will change the whole economy of rural districts. The expenditure of £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 would be as welcome in rural districts as a good downpour of rain at present. Undoubtedly, field drainage is urgently needed in the country. Anybody who travels through the country can see an unlimited amount of land wanting drainage. Land is going for nothing and that would show it even if we had not figures. In my own part of the country where land is better than the general we see land which was good before going back rapidly year by year into swamp. If we examine it we find that a perfect drainage system was put in over 100 years ago which was since neglected. The reason was that in those days there was a supply of cheap labour and since then it was not possible for farmers with the prices prevailing to do it again. With pre-war prices anybody will understand that it would not be possible to pay labour to dig up land and do the necessary drainage. The farmer had not the capital and, if he had itself, it would not give him an economic return. No field drainage has been done for the last 70 years except in exceptional places. This grant makes it possible practically for the first time to carry out on a large scale that necessary drainage.
There are some points to which I would like to draw the Minister's attention. We would all like to see this project a success and would be glad to help it in any way by our suggestions. A great reason for the swampy condition of a lot of the land is the condition of the watercourses, the rivers and streams that go by it. I know of several cases where it would be quite useless to drain a farm if the adjoining river were not deepened or widened or the watercourse cleared, and not alone the adjoining river, but you would want to go further. You would want to put the arterial drainage project into operation as soon as possible in order to make a complete  success of this project. Unless the streams, rivers and main arteries are cleared and put in good condition this project will not be completely successful and I would ask the Minister to use his influence with the Government to have the Arterial Drainage Act put into operation as soon as possible if only to help this present project.
This question of field drainage is not altogether as simple as people think. Reading it, it struck me that the Minister, perhaps, did not realise how terribly technical it is. He mentioned that where a farmer applied for a grant a supervisor would come down and they would talk it over. The supervisor would go back and send the farmer a map of the holding showing the things that would be done and that seemed to settle that, but I am afraid that it will be much more difficult than that. I have often seen very good farmers trying to drain their land who, when they had spent the money, found that it was not working. It is a matter on which technical advice is required. The sum of money involved is very large and as well as the farmer and the supervisor it would be necessary to have technical advice before the money was expended. It would be well if engineers were appointed to supervise the whole thing. As I have said, no drainage worth while has been done in the country for nearly 100 years. Field drainage has gone completely out of fashion, but in other countries in Europe field drainage and other kinds of drainage is an everyday necessity and engineers devote their time to that. In Ireland, however, the whole study of engineers is away from the land. When even farmers' sons go to school to be engineers their mind is diverted from the land into industrial projects or anything else. I think that engineering help should be sought in those countries where drainage is an everyday necessity. I think it would be a good idea if the Minister were to bring over engineers as were brought over for the Shannon scheme, experts in those matters who would help the Irish engineers. Thirty, 40 or 50 million pounds is a very large sum of money and it would be worth while to take no chances because we all know that vast sums of money ever and  always were lost on the drainage of rivers. We have all seen cases where vast sums of money were spent with no result whatsoever, so the Minister would be very wise to take no chances on those things because even field drainage is a matter that requires expert knowledge.
The Minister has mentioned mole ploughs. I would be very slow to use a mole plough. It is only an occasional time that it does a lasting job and it would be quite possible that drainage could be done with a mole plough that would last for only two years. I would not be in favour of it where so much money is being spent. It would be better to make the drains as permanent as possible. The drains which were made 100 years ago lasted for 50 years.
I think also that if drainage were carried out in a whole district with a large number of farmers working together it would enable the Minister to provide better engineering facilities than if the works were carried out one by one.
The Minister also mentioned valuation and I was glad to hear him say that there would be no increase in land valuation as a result of the drainage. At present there can be no increase in land valuation because the British valuation is in force still but there is talk of a revised valuation for land, and when the time comes there is a danger that the valuation would be increased. The Minister should look into that matter. The land might be valued at so much now but in 20 years' time when the revaluation comes along it might be different altogether. It might be well if the Minister put in a clause to the effect that in any future revaluation of the land it should be taken on its present basis of undrained land.
Mr. McGuire: Nobody will accuse me of great originality when I say that agriculture is the basis of our prosperity and for this reason I presume to say just a few words. Of course we  have heard all aspects of this Bill tonight from the farmers. The only thing I want to say is to commend the general policy that underlies the Bill. I welcome the Government policy of renewing and extending the machine which produces wealth. In other words, they are nourishing the goose that lays the golden egg. That is not an original saying but it is none the less true. There is too much tendency nowadays in other countries, as well as in our own, to spend time eating the golden eggs all the time without doing anything to nourish the goose. In fact even to-day you will find people not only eating the eggs but even sucking the blood from the goose.
My only comment, therefore, is that I recognise in this Bill a wish on the part of the Government to help the machine, to build up and to nourish it in such a way that it will be able to produce more and more wealth for the country. I hope that this policy will be observed in other spheres of our national life.
Mr. Loughman: Apart from dealing with the Bill as it is, I would like to deal with a few side issues. In the past very many valuable things have been discovered when the soil of Ireland has been turned and, when this measure is available, soil will be turned which has not been broken for centuries. In the course of that work valuable finds may be made in this country. We all know that many of the treasures in the Museum and in other places were discovered accidentally, and what I want the Minister to do is to ensure that when ground is being broken and when these works are being carried out he will consult with the local societies interested in these matters with a view to preventing such treasures being destroyed through ignorance or carelessness.
I have an instance in mind where drainage work was being done and there was a collection of gold coins of James II, and within half an hour it was not possible for any person interested in them to get one of the coins.  They were scattered all over the place and I believe not one of them remains in the possession of anybody with a knowledge of their value to-day. I would impress upon the Minister to insist and to see that nothing is left undone to ensure that nothing of that kind is lost.
There is one other point I wish to make. I value the names of places and many of the fields in the country are known by historic names at the present time. I can see that with this Bill in operation many of these field boundaries will disappear and many of the names that are associated with the fields will be lost and with that loss many historic associations will be severed. I would suggest that when work is being done on farms involving the removal of these boundaries the names should be placed on the fields. I have one instance in mind. I happen to know of a field close to a very ancient abbey in this country. It is divided by the road from the actual abbey and probably the field was a portion of the abbey or the abbey graveyard. It was known as Cuan na Foucha which, I understand, means the harbour of the ghosts and, of course, as I said, that field is probably the graveyard or portion of the old abbey. It has a historic association and I think that in any work that is being done association of that kind should not be lost sight of.
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