Land Bill, 1963—Committee Stage (Resumed).

Thursday, 4 February 1965

Seanad Eireann Debate
Vol. 58 No. 7

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SECTION 6.

Mr. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  I move amendment No. 8:

In subsection (1), page 5, line 11, before “in” to insert “and or a right of residence in a dwellinghouse on the land to the vendor for the life of the vendor and thereafter to the surviving spouse or dependant (if any), for the life of that spouse or dependant”.

I do not think this amendment will take up very much of the time of the Seanad. I put it down for purposes of clarification. This section purports to confer on the Land Commission the right to purchase a farm from an elderly, incapacitated, or blind person, and to give that person a right of residence in the dwelling on the farm for his or her life and the life of his or her [484] spouse or other dependant. Under subsection (1) it also confers on the Land Commission the right to purchase in cash, or partly in cash and partly by way of annuity, and I am not satisfied that the subsection does clearly confer on the Land Commission the right to purchase subject to a right of residence.

I know the section gives the Minister power to make regulations and one regulation deals with the grant by the Land Commission of a right of residence in the dwellinghouse to the vendor for life and thereafter to the surviving spouse or dependant, if any. The Minister can make that regulation, but is he satisfied that subsection (1) confers on the Land Commission the right to purchase subject to a right of residence? The subsection clearly confers on the Land Commission the right to purchase by way of annuity, and there can be no doubt about that, but a right of residence is not mentioned. It may be that the section indirectly confers such a right on the Land Commission because it speaks of “Whenever a person ... is elderly, incapacitated or blind, sells an interest in land.” I suppose a sale of a fee simple subject to a right of residence could be construed as an interest. I put down the amendment to give the Minister an opportunity of clarifying the position.

Minister for Lands (Mr. Moran): Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  Since this amendment was tabled, I have had another look at the section and I am satisfied that a right of residence can be given. We can provide that under our regulations. Again, this is something which should be left flexible. I can visualise the odd case in which it would be undesirable to allow this right of residence. Generally speaking, however, I think a pension will prove to be the greatest inducement in enticing people to take the annuity because their acceptance will mean that they will be entitled to go on living amongst their neighbours, with the possibility of their having a garden of their own to occupy them. That right of residence need not unduly interfere with the general run of the scheme.

[485] With regard to the Senator's worry as to whether we will have that right, I and my advisers are satisfied that we will have such a right.

Mr. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Is it by virtue of the word “interest” that the Minister is satisfied he has the right?

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  Yes, coupled with the generality of the power taken in making the regulations.

Mr. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  The specific right to grant an annuity is mentioned in the operative part of the section. I refer to subsection (1). As the Minister has said, there is nothing compulsory about this section from the point of view of either the Land Commission or the individual. It is purely optional. The Land Commission may do it at the option of the individual who wants to sell. My only worry is whether the section is specific enough to enable the Land Commission to purchase land subject to a right of residence. I think it may be because the Land Commission “may”, whenever a person who is elderly sells an interest—and I suppose a fee simple subject to a right of residence is an interest.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  It is, and indeed it occurred to me while the Senator was speaking that, without any such regulation being made under this section, the Land Commission “may” under existing law where they make a voluntary purchase, and last year about 70 per cent of their acquisitions were on a voluntary basis. They would have that particular power outside what the regulations are providing for under this section.

Mr. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Am I correct in thinking that apart from this section the Land Commission could confer a right of residence and it could be purchased by way of annuity?

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  No, not by way of annuity. This annuity provision is completely new. However, I am satisfied and my advisers are satisfied that under the regulations the Land Commission [486] will have power to deal with this provision of rights of residence.

Mr. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  If the Minister and his advisers are satisfied, I do not want to press the amendment and accordingly I withdraw it.

Mr. Sheldon: Information on William Alexander Sheldon  Zoom on William Alexander Sheldon  I appreciate that the Minister and his advisers are satisfied but it would not be the Minister or his advisers who would have to settle the matter when doubts arose. A very simple way of making perfectly sure that the position is clear would be, instead of the amendment suggested by Senator Fitzpatrick, to insert after “annuity”“and/or other right” so that it would read “a life annuity and/or other right in accordance with regulations under this section.” That would not widen it unduly and would make it perfectly clear that it was not only the annuity which is mentioned later in the regulations that is referred to here.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  The annuity, as Senators will appreciate, is optional to the vendor in any case under subsection (1) and that is why the annuity is covered. The right of residence might not be allowed by the Land Commission in every case. Without going into details, there might be cases where the residence, or its location, would have to be taken by the Land Commission for the purpose of their scheme and therefore we cannot leave the question of providing the residence an open question at the option of the individual vendor. There is a difference. However, where the Land Commission decide in their wisdom that a right of residence should be offered with the annuity, and in the vast majority of cases I would imagine that that inducement would be a very strong one in the hands of the Land Commission, the Land Commission would have the power to grant residence.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Professor Quinlan: Information on Patrick Michael Quinlan  Zoom on Patrick Michael Quinlan  I move amendment No. 9:

In subsection (5) (b) (i), line 50, to delete “elderly, incapacitated or [487] blind” and substitute “incapacitated”.

I drew the attention of the Minister yesterday evening to the question of the definition of “elderly” and perhaps the Minister may consider this between now and Report Stage. Here, however, we are called upon to define “blind”. It does not seem to be reasonable that two hardworking Ministers, such as the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Lands, should have to define “blind”, or how a blind person is to be distinguished. Having done that, they would have to keep a continual watch and perhaps modify their definition in six months' or a year's time. I imagine there should be a very satisfactory definition of “blind” in connection with some of the pensions granted to such people and consequently I cannot see why this should be the subject of a regulation drawn up by both Ministers. It would be better if the Minister left this decision to the Land Commission. He asks for flexibility and that seems to be the only alternative to putting in a regular definition in the Bill itself. I would ask the Minister to consider this point before Report Stage.

Professor O'Brien: Information on George Augustine Thomas OBrien  Zoom on George Augustine Thomas OBrien  I would also ask the Minister to consider this point. It seems to me that a person is either blind or he is not and it is not a matter to be decided either by the Land Commission or Ministers. I suggest some clause might be incorporated in the Bill referring to a certificate by a qualified medical practitioner, or better still, a medical practitioner who is a specialist in eye diseases or something of that nature.

Mr. Sheldon: Information on William Alexander Sheldon  Zoom on William Alexander Sheldon  Senator Quinlan has answered his own query. His worry seems to be in regard to two important Ministers of State having to frame the regulations but he went on to say that surely there was already a definition for the purpose of the Pensions Acts. I should think it would not be very difficult for those two Ministers to keep to what is in these Acts. I do not see how they would be put to an awful lot of extra work. In my view, Senator [488] O'Brien disagrees with Senator Quinlan because Senator O'Brien suggests it should be left to a medical practitioner. I suggest that would be something to be avoided, if possible. I would be quite happy that it be left to the discretion of the two Ministers concerned.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  I cannot accept this amendment. An elderly farmer may not be incapacitated at all but may be a very bad farmer with little interest in using his land efficiently. It would be clearly desirable that such a man should sell his land to the Land Commission for allocation among needy people. The word “incapacitated” by itself would be too restrictive for the Commission to apply in any kind of liberal way to the classes mentioned. The question also arises that these Land Commission pensions would not be subject to a means test where they are less than £3 per week.

This matter will be dealt with in a separate Bill which the Minister for Social Welfare will have to introduce after the passage of this Bill to embrace the classes mentioned in the section. Blind people are entitled to special social welfare pensions and we shall have to make regulations having in mind different definitions in order to enable the Land Commission to operate this section, and I can assure the House that as far as I am concerned the aim will be to endeavour to make the operation of this section, through the regulations, as flexible as possible from the Land Commission's point of view.

Senators will appreciate that we could not possibly offer a pension to a young man on land who would be fit to go elsewhere and continue in the same business. We have in the section the words “elderly”, “incapacitated” and “blind”. We might differ as to the persons who should be classified as elderly. I have pointed out that in some cases a person not near the age of 65, as suggested by Senator Quinlan, might be regarded as elderly. He might have a history of bad land user and, through a combination of middle age and bad health, might be a person who should be induced to surrender his holding and take the pension provided [489] under this section, provided he was left in his own home.

For all those reasons, I suggest the only proper way for dealing with these matters is through the method we have provided here—to leave it to the Minister for Lands and the Minister for Finance to work out these regulations when the necessary legislation has been put through by the Minister for Social Welfare. I would also point out that this provision is completely new and, like all new ideas of its kind, things may occur in its actual application which would make a change in the regulations desirable.

It is only when the Land Commission are operating these regulations for a period that they will possibly come to realise some of the shortcomings and difficulties they are faced with in the field of operation of the regulations. It would, therefore, be undesirable to hamstring the Commission, as this amendment would do, by writing in specific definitions. It may well be that in actual practice what we contemplate now in these regulations may have to be changed in a short period of experience of working the section.

Professor Quinlan: Information on Patrick Michael Quinlan  Zoom on Patrick Michael Quinlan  First of all, it seems there can be but one definition of “blind” and that definition applies already in deciding applications for blind pensions. I do not see how different Departments can have different definitions of “blind”. I agree with Senator O'Brien that the medical opinion will have to be the deciding factor there. Again, when one says a person is elderly one means that he is pensioned off. There are standards in respect of such pensions. The general Civil Service accepted standard is 65 years. It seems, therefore, that these two categories are catered for.

The middle category, “incapacitated”, is a catch-all. If a person is partially blind and not qualified for a medical certificate on that basis, or, as the Minister has said, if he is prematurely elderly due to some deformity and if he is, therefore, not effective as an agricultural worker, he is not capable of running his farm. It does seem that “incapacitated” is the only [490] term that really is vague and could give rise to elasticity.

It would be impossible to frame regulations in that respect. The only person who can really make a recommendation on whether a person is incapacitated is the Land Commission inspector carrying out the negotiations for the transfer of the holding. This section should be availed of to the fullest to see that a person whom the Land Commission inspector thinks should give up his holding should be induced to do so. Therefore, the Commission inspector should be the person to say when a person is incapacitated. No two Ministers, no twenty Ministers could sit down and frame regulations that would define when a person is incapacitated within the meaning of the section. The wise approach would be to leave it to the discretion of a Land Commission inspector, or to the Minister on the recommendation of the inspector concerned.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  I move amendment No. 10:

In subsection (5), page 6, to add a new paragraph as follows:

“( ) Every regulation made under this section shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made.”

The object of this amendment is to oblige the Minister to lay before both Houses of the Oireachtas every regulation made under section 6. There appears to be a tendency creeping into Government policy to make Acts of Parliament as flexible as possible and to provide that the real working of the Acts is done by Departmental regulation. That is in effect taking away from Parliament its primary function—the function of legislating. The right of legislating should not be lightly taken away from Parliament. If it is necessary from time to time to legislate by regulation, then the right of Parliament should be amply guarded by the long-standing provision that each regulation made under the Act be laid [491] before the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made for the purpose of being discussed and, if necessary, altered or annulled.

Under this Bill there are two types of regulations. Section 2 (1) provides:

The power of making rules conferred by subsections (1) and (2) of section 3 of the Land Act, 1933, shall extend to and be exercisable for making rules for carrying into effect the provisions (other than provisions relating to land purchase finance) of this Act.

As I understand it, the power referred to there is the power of a committee to make rules, the committee consisting of a Judicial Commissioner and, I think, one of the Lay Commissioners and a representative of the Incorporated Law Society or somebody appointed after consultation with the President of that Society. There you have a Judicial Commissioner, a Lay Commissioner and an outside person. That appears to be all right.

The other sort of regulation that can be made here is the regulation I want tabled. I should say before leaving it that the regulations made under section 2 (1) are largely technical regulations for defining procedure within the Land Commission, and I do not think any great principles are at stake. But under section 6, subsection 5:

(a) The Minister may, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, make regulations for the purpose of giving effect to this section and any such regulations may include such supplemental or incidental provisions as appear to the Minister to be expedient.

(b) Regulations under this section may, in particular but without prejudice to the generality of paragraph (a) of this subsection, make provision in relation to all or any of the following matters—

(i) prescribing the class or classes of person who for the purposes of this section shall be deemed to be elderly, incapacitated or blind;

That is very far-reaching. We have just had an amendment on it discussed. [492] But here the Minister, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, is taking unto himself the power to prescribe the classes that may benefit under this section. He can prescribe who are elderly, incapacitated or blind. That is a very far-reaching power. I quite concede it may be necessary and that it may be difficult to write into an Act here a definition of all those things: elderly, incapacitated and blind.

The same regulations may prescribe:

(ii) the payment by the Land Commission of the vendor's costs and expenses incurred in relation to the sale of the interest to the Land Commission;

(iii) the minimum purchase price or part of a purchase price in respect of which the vendor may exercise the option mentioned in subsection (1) of this section;

(iv) the period within which the vendor shall exercise the said option (if any);

(v) the grant by the Land Commission of a right of residence in a dwellinghouse on the land to the vendor for the life of the vendor and thereafter to the surviving spouse or dependant (if any) of the vendor for the life of that spouse or dependant;

(vi) the conditions (if any) affecting such right of residence.

In reply to my Second Reading remarks, the Minister told me it was not necessary that these regulations should be laid before either House of the Oireachtas and that it was not intended they should. If Parliament confers on the Minister the right to make regulations deciding who was elderly, incapacitated and blind and the right to make regulations dealing with the minimum purchase price to be paid, the period within which the vendor shall exercise the option and the type of right of residence that may be reserved, it is not unreasonable that Parliament should say to the Minister: “We are conferring that right on you, but, in accordance with long standing practice, you must lay these regulations before Parliament [493] so that we can see them and, if necessary, debate them and annul them.” I find it difficult to see why that procedure is being departed from here and I should like to hear the Minister on it.

Professor O'Brien: Information on George Augustine Thomas OBrien  Zoom on George Augustine Thomas OBrien  I should like to support Senator Fitzpatrick very strongy on this. We have in the Seanad a Committee on Statutory Instruments sitting for some years past. I have had the honour to be chairman of that Committee for a number of years. Over and over again, I think it is not too much to say, we have prevented injustice being done and regulations made wrongly, although quite innocently. I certainly think that in the interests of parliamentary government in modern times, more and more discretion has to be handed over to the Executive as the machinery of government becomes more complicated. But from the point of view of parliamentary practice, it is extremely important that the Oireachtas should be in a position to review each decision made of this kind. As I have said, my experience as a member of the Statutory Instruments Committee in the Seanad is that a watchdog of this kind can perform an extremely useful function. As Senator Fitzpatrick said, some of the matters dealt with under these Orders are so far-reaching and could so much affect individual liberty that the Executive should be subjected to the scrutiny of the Legislature by placing the Orders on the Table of both Houses.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange  Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange  I wish to support both Senator Fitzpatrick and Senator O'Brien. The important thing to remember here is that we are legislating for the future, for the next 30 or 40 years. There is no denying that there is a tendency at present for Acts of Parliament to by-pass Parliament. We should be jealous of our rights as members of Parliament and see that at least we retain the power to review and discuss what this Minister or any Minister does in the future. This Bill is furthering the tendency in the direction of Minister-made laws and Minister-made judges. Wide powers are [494] being given to the Land Commission and to the Minister. Any such regulations made should be laid before both Houses so that Parliament can be the watchdog to review them and, if necessary, annul them. I think there must be some check. We would be retaining at least some of our powers if the Minister agreed to the amendment.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  The allegation that all elderly and mature applicants under this particular section will get pensions as supporters of the Government and that the odd blind applicant as a supporter of the Fine Gael Party will be dealt with under this section would be political discrimination.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange  Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange  We did not say that.

Mr. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Who said the blind fellows would be supporters of the Minister?

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange  Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange  There are none so blind as those who will not see.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  There were no fears expressed in the Dáil such as were expressed here as to the dreadful far-reaching powers that would be taken by the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Lands under this particular section. Let me demonstrate straight away the utter irresponsibility of leaving a definition of this kind to a local Land Commission inspector. Enough is expected from these men. They are expected to be good psychologists, to be good at land values; but to expect them to be medical experts as well as to who is blind, elderly or incapacitated is just too much. Somebody must make these regulations.

If Senators feel that the regulations made under this particular section should be laid on the Table of both Houses of the Oireachtas I see no objection in principle to doing so. Again, let me say no such fears were expressed in the Dáil about these regulations. They will largely be a matter of administration and they may, as I indicated to the House, be changed from time to time to make them workable. If Senators press this amendment, I am prepared to accept it.

[495]Mr. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  I am obliged to the Minister, and, on principle, I press the amendment as the Minister has seen fit to accept it.

Amendment agreed to.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Liam O Buachalla  Zoom on Liam O Buachalla  Amendment No. 11 is not being moved and a separate amendment, No. 13a, has been circulated. We are taking amendments No. 12, No. 13 and No. 13a together.

Mr. Lindsay: Information on Patrick James Lindsay  Zoom on Patrick James Lindsay  I accept the Minister's amendments No. 13 and No. 13a, and, accordingly, am not moving amendment No. 12. Both of the Minister's amendments meet the case I have made, and I must express my gratitude to the Minister and his draftsmen for amendment No. 13 because I see the validity of confining it to a female vendor, having regard to the words of the section relating to heirs.

Mr. G. Boland: Information on Gerald Boland  Zoom on Gerald Boland  There is an implication that there is something wrong with the section in the Adoption Act. Under the 1952 Act, adopted children have all the rights of any other member of the family. I cannot agree with the amendment at all. It is reiterating what already is the law. If I am not right, I should like the Minister to say if I am wrong. This Act is the best of all the measures with which I had anything to do in my public life. There was great opposition from certain quarters but the fact is that any adopted child has the same rights as any member of the family. We are going to repeal what already is the law.

Amendment No. 12 not moved.

Government amendment No. 13:

In subsection (6), page 6, line 16, after “daughter-in-law” to add “and, in the case of a female vendor, her illegitimate child”.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  This amendment is designed to meet what I think was in Senator Lindsay's mind when he tabled his amendment and it is the form of amendment which I am advised would fully cover the situation. I have had the Adoption Bill before me and [496] I understand that for any special definition of this kind it is necessary to spell out the adopted children to ensure that they are covered. I understand that has been done in the Civil Liability Act. Also, I had a look at the section on which this amendment was based.

Perhaps I could crave the indulgence of the House for a moment in order to explain that the amendment in relation to these definitions raises a question about the corresponding definition in section 45 of the Bill, page 22, lines 45 to 50. The House may feel that, for consistency, the amendment should also be adopted in principle for that section. That is the section dealing with aliens. I do not want to ask Senators to make a snap decision on this matter. If they feel that from a consistency point of view the definition of a family under the alien section should be the same as under this particular one, I would then, when we come to section 45, introduce an amendment on that particular section.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange  Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange  Certainly.

Mr. Lindsay: Information on Patrick James Lindsay  Zoom on Patrick James Lindsay  Yes, it would be ridiculous to have the two sections.

Mr. G. Boland: Information on Gerald Boland  Zoom on Gerald Boland  Is there something wrong under the Adoption Act? Should it be amended?

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  No, the Adoption Act for its own purposes is perfectly good and I understand it follows the recognised adoption procedure. It is more advanced in this country than in many others. I understand, however, that in dealing with questions of descent, and other questions of this kind, under different Acts it is necessary, because of former definitions in law, to make sure to spell out the fact for adopted children.

Mr. G. Boland: Information on Gerald Boland  Zoom on Gerald Boland  Surely doubt is cast on the Act?

Mr. Lindsay: Information on Patrick James Lindsay  Zoom on Patrick James Lindsay  I think the effectiveness of the Act is recognised.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  I had a look at the Civil Liability Act of 1961 before [497] having this amendment drafted. It sets cut in Part IV——

(a) a person adopted under the Adoption Act, 1952, shall be considered the legitimate offspring of the adopter or adopters;

Mr. Lindsay: Information on Patrick James Lindsay  Zoom on Patrick James Lindsay  That is the Civil Liability Act?

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  Yes.

Mr. Lindsay: Information on Patrick James Lindsay  Zoom on Patrick James Lindsay  That is bringing the legislation into line?

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  Bringing it into line on this issue.

Mr. G. Boland: Information on Gerald Boland  Zoom on Gerald Boland  I am not a lawyer.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  The Senator does not know how lucky he has been.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange  Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange  Or how unlucky he has been to meet one down there.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 13a:

In page 6, to add the following subsection:

“(7) In deducing any relationship for the purposes of this section, a person adopted under the Adoption Acts, 1952 and 1964, shall be considered the legitimate offspring of the adopter or adopters.”

Amendment agreed to.

Question proposed: “That section 6, as amended, stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange  Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange  This is one of the sections we welcome and with which we are in entire agreement. It is a very good section. We welcome it particularly because its application will be conditional on the voluntary agreement of all farmers concerned. All Members of the House would like to see this experiment being a success. If Irish landowners take kindly to it, as I hope they will, it will mean an extra pool of land being available for distribution annually. I hope we will never see the day when any Minister or any Government will be given the power to compel people either to retire or to surrender their homes. That [498] is why we welcome the fact that all the arrangements are on a voluntary basis.

I appreciate the difficulties involved in encouraging people, especially old people, to retire. They are generally suspicious. I hope the encouragements provided in this Bill will meet with a favourable response from these people. I expressed the view on the last day that it may take a certain amount of time. I asserted that we all have a duty in this matter. The clergy, bank managers, teachers, solicitors and others, are often called upon by old people for advice. We hope that all such persons will advise land-owners who are getting old and incapacitated to avail of this section. That would be sound advice.

Mr. Cole: Information on John Copeland Cole  Zoom on John Copeland Cole  I, also, fully approve of this section. It will be very difficult, as other Senators have mentioned, to persuade these people to surrender, as it were, a life's interest and work and to retire on an annuity. It will be a considerable time before it is appreciated by these people that it is possible for them to do so and to live quite comfortably, perhaps more comfortably.

In that respect, I did enquire on Second Reading as to whether these people would be entitled to a labourer's cottage. I do not think they would. I know of one county that is setting out now to build a scheme of two-roomed cottages for old people, such as an old man and his wife or possibly only an old man or an old woman who might now be occupying a full size cottage. Such persons would be entitled to live on in that cottage, whereas if at some stage when the household was reduced to just an old couple, they were offered a small two-roomed cottage comprising a bedroom and living room, it would free many cottages. A two-roomed cottage is the type of cottage that might be suitable for quite a number of these people. Would they have to be declared entitled under the Labourers Acts to claim to have a cottage built? If the cottage were built on their home farm or adjacent to it, it might induce them at an earlier [499] date to take advantage of the section.

Mr. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  I approve entirely of the provisions of this section. We all do. I just rise to put one query with regard to the granting of an old age pension to people who surrender their farm for an annuity and the provision that the first £150 of the annuity will be disregarded. I also approve of that. It is an encouragement, an inducement, which will be effective. But I wonder has the Minister considered whether or not he might run into trouble in respect of that provision. Has he considered whether or not it might be regarded by the superior courts as drawing a distinction between one type of person over 70 years and another person; in other words, whether it might not run him into trouble with the Constitution?

I do not profess to be a constitutional lawyer. I want to make that clear. Nor have I given this matter any deep consideration. It does strike me, however, that it is the sort of thing that might be held as legislating for one class as against another.

Mr. G. Boland: Information on Gerald Boland  Zoom on Gerald Boland  Surely that is what it is doing? The upshot will be that everybody will be entitled to claim the same exemption. I am not a lawyer but anyone can see it. We are all entitled to the same treatment.

Mr. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  I only put a query.

Mr. G. Boland: Information on Gerald Boland  Zoom on Gerald Boland  If the Government are going to do that, they will have to do it for everybody.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  To answer the last query first, I do not anticipate any constitutional difficulties. Surely there is nothing that would come more properly within the framework of the common good than a special provision to induce elderly or incapacitated land-owners to make their land available for the relief of congestion in a land-hungry nation? The Senator need have no fears on that issue.

On the point made by Senator Cole, from recollection, I think the definition of the classes who can be allocated labourers' cottages has been so stretched and is so wide that virtually [500] anybody, including the Senator, could qualify. That is my understanding of the law in the matter. In the main, I anticipate that the big inducement here to these people will be the fact that, where they are living in their own homes, whether big or small, they will be allowed to continue to reside there for the rest of their days. I should imagine that, in addition to the pension proposed here, the fact that they would be left there amongst their neighbours, particularly if they are elderly or incapacitated, would be the great drawing factor under this scheme.

As Senators will appreciate, the older people get, the less happy they are in pulling up their roots amongst those with whom they worked. Indeed, we have come up against that psychological factor very regularly where there is an elderly person in the house of a young and active migrant who is anxious to move to a new place. The old man wants to be buried with his own people, as we say, and he has local friends there and he shirks facing the fact that he has to come into a new community and make new friends and break his connections with his old neighbours. So I feel that the inducement of leaving them in their own houses as well as providing the pension for them should prove the real drawing card under this section and under these regulations.

Let me say straight away that I agree with the Senators who expressed the view that this matter will take time to operate. Any of us who are familiar with the congested areas know that in very many instances any new idea, let it be a new agricultural scheme or anything else, must be tried out and one or two must be induced to adopt it while the neighbours look over the fence carefully watching developments. I imagine that one individual in one parish accepting a pension under these regulations would have more effect than all the propaganda that I or my officials could ever put over in inducing others to avail of the provisions.

On the other hand, Senators will appreciate that this is a voluntary business. It is an inducement to those [501] people. It is a new approach to them. I think it is probably the first time, certainly in this country, when farmers of one type or another can retire. Indeed, I am satisfied, having a quick look at some of the tentative action— the figures I have studied in connection with this section—that if the vendor is reasonably elderly it will be possible for the Land Commission to offer him far more per annum than he could get, for instance, by taking the income from the 6 per cent bonds that the value of his holding would bring him. Therefore, in the cases which I visualise, I sincerely feel that this will be a real inducement and I hope a real break-through in bringing more land into the national pool where it is most urgently needed and in solving, in another way, a social problem with some of these people in the congested areas.

Professor Quinlan: Information on Patrick Michael Quinlan  Zoom on Patrick Michael Quinlan  While we are all in favour of this scheme, it seems that it can really operate effectively only where the farm is scheduled for sub-division or additions to a number of adjoining farms. The farmhouse itself will be out of commission. Consequently, it is impossible for a new tenant to come in and to take over the farm based on the old farmhouse. In the future, if this is a success, the Minister might contemplate extending it so that there will be the inducement of the provision of additional space in the house such as a type of flat or an addition which old persons can occupy and have as long as they live.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  I think the position is clear but I should like to be sure. Take the question of £3 of the life annuity not being counted for means for old age pension purposes. As things stand, the first £1 a week of means is allowed and a person can have the full old age pension. Is that in addition to the £3 life annuity?

Mr. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  No, that is included.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  I should not like to give an ad hoc answer to that particular question. The terms of the Bill to be introduced by the Minister for Social Welfare have yet to be settled [502] between myself and the Minister for Social Welfare. I was contemplating that, if we had this inducement of the first £3 of a pension under this section being out for old age pension purposes, it would be a very substantial inducement to such people, particularly if one or other of a married couple had passed the age of 60 and was going on for 62 or 63. I still feel that if the £3 a week is not counted for this type of pension it will prove a real inducement.

Putting it conversely, I think that without this exception to the means test under the old age pensions code, this pension will not fulfil the purpose as an inducement which we have in mind and that it would not have the impact which we really require. However, I do not know what agreement I may achieve with the Minister for Social Welfare. Naturally, it would be my wish to make the inducement as much as possible. But I have his agreement that up to £3, at all events, will be excluded.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  I hope it will be possible to arrange to exclude it completely from the computation of means. Most people have some means and it would be a disappointment if they had £3 and their old age pension was lower because means were counted. Would it be possible to arrange it as I have suggested?

Question put and agreed to.

Question proposed: “That section 7 stand part of the Bill.”

Professor Quinlan: Information on Patrick Michael Quinlan  Zoom on Patrick Michael Quinlan  This section makes a discrimination of a type that I believe is doubly wrong and unnecessary and I, therefore, oppose it. It means that, in the division of an estate that is not located in the congested districts, if any local uneconomic holders succeed in getting part of the estate they have to pay the full rent while migrants brought from the congested areas or labourers working on the estates—classes (a)—(f) in the 1923 Land Act—are allowed to have the annuities halved. That is a type of discrimination between neighbours to which we should not be a part. It is [503] bringing apartheid into the local region and setting neighbour against neighbour with the feeling that one man is paying twice as much for his land than the other.

If this section is allowed to remain in the Bill, it will mean that outside the congested districts there will be a prohibition on all uneconomic holders around an estate to be divided from acquiring any part of it because the economic price will be much too high. We must face the facts of the situation. In the past two to three years, land prices have at least doubled. I doubt if land got by the Land Commission in 1957 at £40 an acre can be got today under £120 to £140 an acre. Certainly, over the past three years, land has doubled in price.

The economic returns from land have not kept steady in any way with the increase in the value of land. In fact, the returns will show that the price of agricultural produce has remained almost static over the past five or six years. It has not compensated for the changing money values since then. Whatever slight increase might be shown in the returns to farmers is due to increased production. This past year, the returns in certain lines give a misleading picture. They show that the agricultural income has gone up by about £20 million. That is due largely to the greatly increased prices for beef. These have very little effect on the types of small farms we are dealing with in land subdivision. There is a certain increment for calves but its overall impact is very small. By and large, annuities calculated today on a half reduction under the 1933 Act would, due to the inflated price of land, be the equivalent of full rates charged about four years ago. Therefore the burden of paying even half in accordance with the 1933 Act is liable to be a very heavy one on the new migrants.

Let us take some figures for the 40-acre farm. When subdivision and other expenses are included, that would probably amount to £8,000. The figure I quoted yesterday was over £4,000 for the farm back in 1957, so £8,000 is a modest figure today; when stock, [504] machinery and other equipment are included, these again at a very modest estimate would be around £2,500. Consequently, you are dealing with £10,000 for 40 acres and the repayment of that to the Land Commission at about nine per cent—in other words including sinking fund and interest rates—would be somewhere around £400 a year at the half rate. That in itself, £10 an acre, is a very hefty amount for an incoming tenant to pay. What is the possibility then of the local man who may be included in the subdivision paying double or almost double that amount. There would be a reduction due to certain grants that are available universally but still he must pay £700 to £750, almost £20 an acre. No small uneconomic holder can face that task.

The section as it stands is discriminatory and imposes a burden on local smallholders that cannot be tolerated or approved by the Oireachtas. Furthermore, the amount involved to the Land Commission is probably infinitesimal because, by and large, in a subdivision most of those concerned would qualify under the congested districts clause, section 4, or else they would have put on sufficient pressure to get the local Land Commission officer to request the Minister to have that area declared a congested district and would therefore qualify. Consequently there are only very few that are likely not to qualify under this section. Why should we be discriminatory when there is no great financial saving made by it and when it is wrong in principle? I appeal to the Minister to remove this section from the Bill.

Mr. G. Boland: Information on Gerald Boland  Zoom on Gerald Boland  As I said on the Second Stage, I consider this by far the best section in the Bill. It is quite clear to me that Senator Quinlan is not familiar with conditions in congested areas or he would not oppose this section. I could mention at least 12 cases I know of where the Land Commission, when they found how high the price had gone and considered that they would have to take into account, having paid the high price, the cost of improvements and the halving of the annuity, came away saying: “It is [505] too much for the amount of relief we could give. The cost is prohibitive and we will not take the land.” There are at least 12 cases on the borders of Roscommon where that happened. The result was that a businessman or a big farmer with a lot of land got the land.

I have been urging since I left the Government that in respect of the additional parcel of land the annuity would be halved. What happens is that these people who take conacre pay up the £25 and have to pay it in a year whereas in this case they would pay the full value of the parcel of land but on an annuity basis. I have met several people from the west of Ireland who are interested and they have told me that they would be delighted with a provision of this kind. This is one of the best things the Minister has done. In these 12 cases, perhaps four or five small farmers in each case might have been made economic or almost economic if the land had been bought by the Land Commission.

If the cost was prohibitive, the Land Commission could not buy these farms. This was very largely due to the operation of the 1950 Act. I believe the 1950 Act was brought in for the purpose of stopping land division. I regard this provision and section 6 as the two best sections in the Bill and by far the best sections in any Land Bill since the State was founded, and I congratulate the Minister on them.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange  Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange  I shall take the last statement by Senator Boland first, that the 1950 Land Act was brought in to stop the division of land. In 1950 the Minister for Lands, then Deputy Moran, who was afraid the farmers of Ireland were not getting enough for the land that was being taken from them proposed an amendment which appears at column 781, volume 119, of the Dáil Debates of 23rd February, 1950:

The market value of land to be purchased or acquired by the Land Commission shall be determined by the average current price paid for land of similar quality to that being acquired in the immediate vicinity of the district where it is being acquired.

He was so much concerned for the [506] people who were selling land that he wanted to make certain that where the Land Commission took land, they would give the same price as the market value for land in the area so that puts an end to the Senator's argument.

To get back to this provision, I am completely opposed to section 7. Section 7 provides that in future certain classes of persons who receive allotments of land on an annuity basis in non-congested areas will not benefit from the halving of annuities conceded under the Land Act of 1933. The classes of farmers concerned are farmers with existing holdings who may receive enlargements in non-congested areas. It must be remembered these are the people to whom Fianna Fáil always paid lip service. They always said they represented the poor of the country. This also refers to cottiers and other persons who may get allotments in non-congested areas where surplus land is available.

That means, for example, that the local person who occupies a bit of land in counties Westmeath, Longford or Cavan, must pay twice the annuity that a man coming in from the congested area of Leitrim will have to pay. That is unfair and unjust, and, I claim, violates the rules of natural justice. The rules of natural justice are infringed (a) when rules or regulations are found to be partial or unequal in their operation as between different citizens of the State, (b) when they are manifestly unjust, and (c) if they involve such oppressive interference with the rights of those subject to them as could find no justification in the minds of reasonable men. I submit such is the case with section 7 of this Bill, that it violates the rules of natural justice.

It is unequal in its application. There is no denying that. It is unequal in its application between different sections of the community in that it has introduced a section which proposes that those who come from the congested districts will continue to pay half of the annuity while those who come from districts outside have to pay double that amount, that is, the [507] full annuity. I should like to know from the Minister if the main reason for this section is to discourage people from the midlands or from any area outside the west of Ireland buying land? Is the main reason to leave the land so dear to them that they will be unable to stay on the land or to hold land? I want to say to the Minister, whether he comes from the west of Ireland or not, that he should deal fairly with the people of the whole country, not from the west alone.

Senator Ó Ciosáin was of the very same opinion and frame of mind in 1949 as I am of now. Remember, the boot was on a different foot at that time and the Minister in power then was from the west. Senator Ó Ciosáin, who was a Deputy then, had this to say on 23rd November, 1949, volume 118, column 1257:

When we are dealing with the question of land division, we should not entirely confine ourselves to the west. There are problems in other parts of the country also which have to be tackled by the Land Commission under the general directions of the Minister.

He went on to say that it was the Minister's duty to tackle them and not confine himself to the congested areas. I say the same thing as regards this Bill. It seems to be a Bill for the west by a western Minister. Why should a small farmer or cottier born in Westmeath or Longford not be entitled to the same provisions as a cottier from the western areas? As I stated, only the people coming from the western areas will get the benefit of the halved annuity.

Since 1933, any farmer, no matter what part of Ireland he came from, got the benefit of that. That was fair and just. I should like to know is this the thin end of the wedge? We know farmers were almost beggared during the years of the Economic War for the retention of the land annuities. We know, today, even if a foreigner buys land he gets the full benefit of that Act. Now we are bringing in this provision that an uneconomic holder or a cottier in County Longford, which [508] borders County Leitrim, pays the full rate of annuity whereas a man from Leitrim gets it at half rate. I want to know where is the justice in that. It could easily happen that a small farmer with eight or ten children from North Longford would get a farm of land of 45 acres in Westmeath. We will say the rate roughly works out at £100 for half the annuity. If a bachelor from Leitrim got a farm of land of 45 acres in Westmeath, he would pay roughly £100 annuity, whereas the farmer from County Longford with, perhaps, a wife and ten children would have to pay twice that rate. He would have to pay at least £200. I do not see where there is any justice in that.

Remember this, and let there be no denying it. This section, taken in conjunction with section 4, can lead to political abuse in this country. It can lead to political abuse whether Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael or any other Party are in power. It is quite easy for any Party to say before a by-election, or at any time: “We will apply section 4 of this Bill to your county and we will make it a congested area”. If that section is applied to a county, there is power to throw out the small farmer of any particular county. There would be power to throw out the small farmers of County Longford, no matter what Government were in power.

Mr. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  They would have to apply it before a by-election. Promises are not enough.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange  Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange  I do not know about that. In any case it can be abused and it is completely wrong. Senator Quinlan said that this section is bound to cause bitterness. It certainly can be a weapon in the hands of unscrupulous politicians and we could have them at the present time and in the future. As I stated earlier on, we are legislating for the future. I consider this a deliberate attempt to victimise certain sections of our people. It will keep them from applying for land. Certain sections of the people will be able to have holdings at half rate because the Minister has designated their area a congested area. This section is unjust and morally wrong.

[509]Mr. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  It is quite easy for Senator Boland to afford this section his wholehearted support. It is equally easy for me to complain strenuously about its limited application. It provides that if a person from Senator Boland's area of Roscommon is given an allotment of land in Meath or Kildare at an annuity of £50 a year, the same person, if he came from County Cavan, would have to pay £100 a year for the same land. That is the net sum of the application of this section as I see it.

It brings one back to section 4, which defines congested districts. It highlights the injustice of section 4 which defines, by reference to the Schedule to the Act, the congested districts. I am not against the west. I suppose we would have bad reason to be against the west but this Act should be fair in its application and it should be fair from the commencement. It should immediately apply to districts, which are in fact congested, and it should not be limited to districts which were deemed to be congested in 1909 and have not been revised or given any serious consideration since.

I made a case yesterday on section 4 that I can make on this section 7. All the people of this country suffered very much in the 1930, as has been said, on account of the Economic War which was waged for the retention of the land annuities. Now some people are to have the benefit of the Act which halved the annuities and other people are not. Section 4 which affects this section and which can be properly discussed with it, I think, is discrimination at its worst.

I should like any Senator to give me any rational explanation for a state of affairs which decrees that while a farmer from Longford, Monaghan or Cavan will pay an annuity of £100 a year for a farm he gets in Meath, a farmer from Roscommon or some of the good parts of Galway or the good parts of Mayo will pay only half that amount. It does not make sense. It is not justice or fair play and it all leads back to the fact that adequate consideration was not given to the [510] Schedule before it was written into the Bill. It means we are going to operate on a worn-out, antiquated Schedule drawn up in 1909, for years to come. In the meantime, congested areas in Monaghan, Cavan and Longford and parts of many other counties, perhaps, with which I am not familiar, will continue to suffer the penalty of paying £2 for every £1 that other people in congested areas will pay. The foreigners who have come in and bought land and who were not in the country during the dreadful 1930s will continue to enjoy the halved annuities under the Act passed in those years.

Mr. Nash: Information on John Joseph Nash  Zoom on John Joseph Nash  In order to arrive at a just and fair conclusion regarding this section, it would be well for us to get the facts straight. When the Land Commission acquire a farm for division or allocation today, they have to pay the full market value. When they come to allocate the land the price at which it is allotted is not the price they pay for it—not necessarily—and in most cases it is considerably less. In fact, I should say in very few cases is it more than two-thirds of what the Land Commission paid and frequently it is, perhaps, as little as 50 per cent. The difference must be paid by the taxpayers. The State has no bottomless fund. The taxpayers must have some limit to the amount they are required to pay. Only a certain amount of public money can be allocated to the Land Commission; it is required for other purposes. The amount allocated to the Land Commission must be put by them to the best possible use for the purpose of carrying out their functions.

In the first instance, the land is sold to the allottees at considerably less than its original price to the State. The allottees therefore have that benefit and if, of course, the principle is correct— and I think we all agree it is correct that land should be acquired and given to people in congested areas and given to people who have already got uneconomic holdings—then the Land Commission are acting on a proper principle in imposing certain obligations on the taxpayers in order to acquire that land and allocate it.

[511] We come now to the next problem. What is the justifiable principle for halving the annuities to anyone at present? Is there any principle on which anyone can base it? There was a justifiable principle for halving annuities in the 1933 Act. As so many Senators have pointed out, the farmers had a pretty rough time; they had lost considerably. It was only right that portion of their losses should be made good to them. That was done by saying to them: “For the future your annuities will be half what they were in the past.” If a man's annuities prior to 1933 were, say, £40 per year and let us assume for the purpose of ready calculation that the amount required to redeem them would be £800 if paid in a lump sum, from now on he pays only £20 a year. Therefore, amends are made to him of, say, £400, calculated on the same basis. That is the only man who benefits from that because if he sold his land afterwards under the half annuity, those lands were worth £400 more to the man who bought them and the vendor was entitled to £400 higher price. That is perfectly obvious. If I am selling a farm with an annuity of £20 a year which would cost £400 to redeem, that farm is worth £600 more——

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange  Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange  They do not even ask what it is.

Mr. Nash: Information on John Joseph Nash  Zoom on John Joseph Nash  ——than if it were subject to an annuity of £50 per year. Therefore, the vendor gets £600 more for it. Therefore, if I am the original holder of the land in 1933, I am the only person who benefits. The purchaser pays an increased price as does also the person who purchases from him.

At present, if the taxpayer is already contributing substantially towards allocating those lands at considerably less than they have cost, there seems to be no justifiable principle under which the annuity should again be halved. Why halved? Why not say quartered? Why not give them the land free? I see no justifiable principle whatever in it. There are exceptions to every principle but you must again bring them under a principle. If [512] houses are built by this State for those who have no houses, the people in slum houses may be entitled to receive a house or cottage costing £1,500 to build, at a rent of 5/- a week because they are in slum houses. The person who is well-to-do must pay more. There is a means test in most urban areas under which the man out of work pays only a nominal rent because he must have a house since he has come out of a slum house. The man in full employment pays a higher rent.

The purpose of this Act is to authorise the Land Commission to get rid of what I may call the agricultural slum problem just as the purpose of our local authorities is to get rid of the slum house problem. Therefore, there is a further principle, and a justifiable principle, under which people who heretofore have been living in agricultural slums are entitled to get agricultural holdings, and are entitled to the reasonable amenities of life for their work.

This section applies, in the first instance, to all land acquired by the Land Commission in the congested areas for distribution among people in those areas. They are living in slums, and the intention is that they should have reasonably economic holdings on which they can provide the amenities of life for themselves and their families. Therefore, in addition to the loss to the taxpayer of 40 per cent, they are entitled to a further remission in the very same way as a person who has been living in a slum house. The State gives a grant to the local authority to help erect the house and the rent is cheaper than the rent of a normal house. The same principle applies here.

To say this is creating apartheid, as one Senator said, is rather unworthy. You cannot say apartheid is created when houses are given at low rents to people who are out of work and living in slum houses.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange  Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange  That is according to income.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  So is this.

Mr. Nash: Information on John Joseph Nash  Zoom on John Joseph Nash  It is based on the very [513] same principle. This Bill assumes that in the congested areas there are people living in agricultural slums. That is the very basis and spirit of the Bill, as I understand it. To say there cannot be discrimination between one section of society and another, either medical relief for farmers under £50 valuation, or special concessions for hospital expenses, or housing, or land allocation, is to put an end once and for all to any possibility of social legislation in this country. To argue that it is unjust seems to me to have no more foundation than the argument in the Bible when one man worked for 12 hours, having agreed to a certain wage, and another man worked for one hour and was paid the same as the man who worked for 12 hours. No injustice was done to the man who worked for 12 hours.

Likewise here, no injustice is done to the man who has, say, an uneconomic holding in Tipperary of 15 or 20 acres of good land if an estate is acquired in the locality and someone is brought from an agricultural slum holding in Mayo or elsewhere and gets a holding in Tipperary. He is rooted out of his old home and has not got the money or the capacity to pay a full economic rent. The man on the Tipperary holding with 20 acres of good land gets an additional ten acres and it is no great burden on him to pay the full annuity, particularly when he is paying it on what is an already reduced sum. Therefore, it appears to me that we are allowing sentiment to enter too much into this instead of cold logic. The arguments made in favour of the abolition of the section appear to me to be specious rather than solid, and plausible rather than true.

Professor Jessop: Information on William JE Jessop  Zoom on William JE Jessop  I have listened to this debate with interest, and I did not intend to speak on this amendment, but it occurs to me that the real difficulty lies in the fact that we are giving this remission, so far as I can see, in perpetuity. I can see a strong case for giving a remission, and perhaps a substantial remission, for the first period during which the new holder occupies the farm of land in a [514] new district, but after a period of ten or 15 years, I think he should be in a position to pay as much as his next-door neighbour who has been living there all the time. I wonder has that point been considered, and if there is any substance in the point, is there any way to meet it?

This section authorises payments to people qualified in connection with the purchase by them of land if they cannot afford to pay for it themselves. We are authorising the Minister in conjunction with the Minister for Finance to make arrangements in that regard. Can we not extend that principle and allow the Minister, in conjunction with the Minister for Finance, to assist people from the congested districts in taking up new holdings for the first 15 or 20 years of their occupation? This is similar to the remission of rates which people get in the cities—and all over the country, I think—when they build or occupy new houses.

Mr. McDonald: Information on Charles B. McDonald  Zoom on Charles B. McDonald  I oppose this section because I think it is dishonest. Many Senators have outlined the history of the halving of the annuities and the trials suffered by the Irish farmer to achieve that. I believe the 1933 Land Act settled the annuities to be paid by farmers. They were halved, and the only reason they have been referred to since is that the Government were striving to keep reminding the farmers of Ireland of the concession they got in the thirties. Since then when a farmer went to pay his rent he took a receivable order and paid two half yearly annuities, not two half yearly half annuities. This section now proposes to double the annuities, not halve them. It is a matter of doubling the annuities that farmers have been paying since 1933, when the annuities were set, and not of halving them.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange  Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange  He is right.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  He is not, as I shall explain in due course.

Mr. McDonald: Information on Charles B. McDonald  Zoom on Charles B. McDonald  As I see it, when a farm is divided in a non-congested area and two successful applicants get two identical farms, if one applicant is from the west, and the second from an [515] uncongested area or an area not scheduled as a congested area, the first applicant gets a concession which in this case would be considerable. If his place is identical in size and if he has the same future stretching out before him, then his past history should not be taken into account. Where two men have an equal chance of making a livelihood from similar holdings, why should one be penalised to the extent of having to pay 50 per cent more by way of annuity?

In many of the estates divided by the Land Commission, applicants have been given large houses but the Land Commission made no effort to have the ESB charges reduced and in many instances these farmers are unable to avail of ESB services because the overheads are so high. The excuse given is that there cannot be exceptions to the rule. There is interference in the case of annuities. Exceptions can be made. Surely the same argument should apply. Electricity is very important in modern methods of husbandry.

It is dishonest to discriminate and set up what can be described as a new privileged class. The Constitution lays it down that there shall be equal opportunity for all. Successful applicants will have their farming skill and knowledge to help them in making their livelihoods. They will have the same capital outlay and the fact that they come from different parts of the country should not result in discrimination as between them. Opportunities being equal, the incentive should be there for them to work harder and more efficiently if they want to be better off than their neighbours. It is for these reasons I oppose the section. I support what Senator Quinlan said.

Mr. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Senator Nash made what appeared to be, on the face of it, a very logical defence of this section. I should like to remind the Senator, however, that I base my opposition to this section on the ground that the schedule of congested districts needs to be revised, and very badly needs to be revised. This section confers benefits on those living in the statutory congested districts without reference to their [516] ability to pay, or anything else. I would remind Senator Nash and the House that this schedule was drawn up in the year 1909. It has not been revised, improved, amended, extended or restricted since then.

I maintain this is not a reasonable approach from the point of view of this preferential treatment to be conferred on those living within the present statutory congested districts. I say there are many districts, large portions of counties, outside the statutory congested districts in which there are people every bit as badly off and every bit as badly in need of resettlement. I make the plea for the people in the actual congested districts and I say the case made by Senator Nash in reference to the housing of the working classes has no application here because the working classes are housed, and rehoused, on two grounds: their need for houses and their ability to pay rent. In this instance A can be living in Cavan, Monaghan or Longford and can be every bit as badly off and every bit as badly in need of land as his fellow citizen in Roscommon. Indeed, he can be worse off. Yet the man in Roscommon will get preferential treatment as against the man in Cavan, Monaghan or Longford. I say this is not logical. It is fundamentally unfair and cannot be justified on any grounds.

Professor Stanford: Information on William Bedell Stanford  Zoom on William Bedell Stanford  I should like, very briefly, to support what Senator Jessop said. There seems to be a good case for restricting this remission to a period of years. Senator Jessop said it is quite possible that a man taking over a farm may become comparatively rich in ten or 20 years. Is he to be put at an advantage under this Bill in perpetuity as against his neighbours? Would it not be fairer, after a certain period of time, to stipulate that his affairs will be examined and, if he is rich enough to pay the full charges, he will then be asked to pay them?

I do not see why we should legislate to set up a privileged class in perpetuity. I can understand that this remission is desirable for the first few years and, on that ground, I support the section. I should, however, like [517] some modification. There should be a testing time of ten or 15 years after which the affairs and fortune of the proprietor could be examined and, if his finances justify it, he should then be asked to pay charges identical with those of his neighbours.

Mr. Sheldon: Information on William Alexander Sheldon  Zoom on William Alexander Sheldon  I would have some sympathy with that point of view, if I were not afraid that it would be impossible administratively. Anyone conversant with the Irish countryside knows only too well that nothing is more difficult than deciding whether or not a farmer is in a position to pay anything. There are repeated protests from apparently wealthy counties about farmers' inability to pay rates. I shudder to think of the type of tribunal that would have to be set up to deal with the individual cases. I should not like to be a member of the tribunal. Indeed, I cannot imagine what type of tribunal would be competent to do this. One thing, which may be a sop to those who argue in favour of including areas which are in fact, if not in law, congested, is that surely this type of section will ensure that the pressure to bring areas, which are in fact congested, in statutorily will be so much the greater because of this benefit; it will be yet another weapon in the hands of those in a position to insist on the bringing in of areas which they believe to be in fact congested.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Cornelius Desmond  Zoom on Cornelius Desmond  Looking calmly at this section, the question arises as to whether it is necessary at all. The only remedy available would be for a farmer to see if he could get back to section 4, under which the Minister might make an order. The Minister and the Land Commission inspectors would have to exercise themselves every day examining matters of that kind. It is, perhaps, unlikely that they would arise. There would be certain areas in respect of which the Minister would be very slow to make an Order declaring them to be congested areas merely because there was one farm to be divided. It could perhaps be divided into three or four parcels and the adjoining smallholders would be the natural people to get them, but if [518] they were to get them, they would have to pay the full annuity.

I was impressed by what Senator Nash said about the justice of doing it that way. He put forward the analogy of people who may be destitute or living in slums and who go into houses and have to pay only a small rent. This is not just so simple. Those people may be in an area where the differential rent system operates but it does not operate in all cases. Senator Nash is a member of a local authority and he knows that the local authority are usually the people who decide on the differential rent system. The system operates at the moment in certain industrial areas but there is also the system of standard rents which existed prior to the differential rent system. Regardless of income, the standard rent is paid and it may even be paid by people on home assistance. Therefore we can hardly make that comparison in relation to this clause. Senator Nash went very far when he went back to the Bible and referred to what one man got for an hour as against the person who worked for 12 hours and got the same amount. I would not like to go into that too deeply. Even a Senator might find himself getting more than the person about whom he was talking.

I am not personally involved in land but I was born on the land and lived on the land, and I have fixed ideas about a matter like this. Quite a large number of Senators will remember 32 years ago when the annuities were our concern. It was our right as a nation to retain the annuities. I do not want to refer in too great detail to that period because a certain stand had to be taken. We were glad to meet with success but it was at a sacrifice and worth it. No headway made by this country in our fight for independence was made without a sacrifice. Later the annuities were halved. I heard it said that the annuities were halved because of the hardship they involved but if I remember rightly, they were halved because they were the property of this country and it was decided that the people should pay only half.

Now we come to this point and find [519] that if somebody gets a parcel of land and is not in a congested area, or in an area which will be declared congested, he has to pay the old full annuity. If he is a smallholder or a cottier, that is what this means, according to the explanatory memorandum. I do not think that is fair. Perhaps a case could be made by the Department if a man gets a valuable holding. It could be examined in some way but it is for the Minister and his Department to examine that. There might be buildings involved or there might be a question in regard to rates. There are various ways in which the person who acquires extra land not in a congested area may find himself taxed to a certain extent. We all know that the tendency is for rates to increase. They are, of course, for local administration but it is not fair to say that if a man gets another field or two fields, he must pay the full rent, while his next-door neighbour, who has not looked for a parcel of land because he may have a little more than the person who is looking for it, continues on the half annuity.

As I said, I wonder why this section is included at all in this Bill which has general approval, although there is criticism in regard to certain sections. A section such as this is not required.

Local representatives and the Minister will be asked why should a man who gets a parcel of land have to pay the full rent. Of course section 4 might be applied but I cannot see it being applied easily.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  It seems to me that there are two main lines of argument directed against this section. The first is not very seriously pressed, that is, that land distribution in congested districts will require the half annuity to be paid while outside the congested districts the full annuities will have to be paid. Most people would agree that in the congested districts there is need for something of this kind. Senator Fitzpatrick made the point which he also made at some length on section 4 that the division of congested districts as it stands is satisfactory. Everyone, including the Minister, agrees and the Minister said that the Land Commission [520] are bearing in mind the size of farm, the type of land and so on in various areas and that further areas will be scheduled as congested districts. I do not think there is anything at all in that point. My belief is there ought to be concessions of this type to offer inducements to the people living in congested areas.

The other argument was produced by Senator McDonald, who took the case of the migrant coming in, a man who had ten acres. Either he gets the land in the new area or somebody living in Longford or Westmeath gets it. In the latter case, the person getting the land must pay the full annuity, whereas the migrant from the congested area will pay only half.

I submit there is every reason why the migrant should pay less. He has been born, reared, brought up in a particular area, among particular people, his friends and relatives. He had a farm which he has given up. He has given up his home, his friends and relatives. The local man did not. The migrant benefited the people in his congested area. He has travelled to a totally strange part of the country.

There is no comparison between his position and that of the local man, everything else being equal. The local man is getting a very important financial benefit at the expense of the taxpayers. You might just as well make a comparison between a local man who gets a farm and his neighbour, perhaps, who had some money in the bank through savings and who was thus able to buy a farm for his son. It could just as easily and reasonably be asked why should that neighbour have to spend all his own money on the farm— is he not that much worse off than his neighbour who got a farm from the Land Commission, even when the latter had to pay the full annuity? Even in such an event, half the total cost is paid by the Land Commission.

There will always be inequalities. The one basic principle in this provision seems to me to be a very good one. A man in a congested area, a migrant who has uprooted himself, should be given some benefit, some compensation, [521] for having left his home, relatives and friends and is willing to benefit his neighbours in the process. In every way, this is a very good section.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange  Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange  What about the cottier?

Professor Quinlan: Information on Patrick Michael Quinlan  Zoom on Patrick Michael Quinlan  I should like to reply to a few of the points argued against my submission that this is apartheid at its worst. It was taken up by Senator Nash, who tried to suggest that something akin to it prevailed in the matter of workers' houses. If Senator Nash wants an analogy in the matter of workers' houses, it is that in the city they have scheduled certain areas as slum clearance areas. The city authorities set up housing project areas and the people from the slum clearance areas are allocated houses at certain rents.

The city authorities are conscious of the fact that close to the housing areas there may be other very deserving cases. Now, let us suppose that the authorities, in their wisdom, allocate some of the houses to those deserving cases and proceed to charge those deserving cases twice the rent being paid by the workers who came from slum areas. I do not think any city would stand over such gross discrimination. Certainly, it would be called apartheid and I make no apology to Senator Nash or anybody else for calling this apartheid at its very worst.

Take an area outside the scheduled congested districts. A farm may become available for division in a certain parish. It is acquired and action is taken to improve conditions in that parish. The workers on that farm are entitled, in law, to get holdings there at half the annuities, whereas a landless man outside, one of the forgotten ones, has to pay the full annuity if he gets a holding. Is it justice that one should have to pay twice that charged to the other? Is it just that a man coming from a scheduled congested district should get a holding at half the annuity while a local man, with an equally pressing land problem, should have to pay the full amount?

In short, what this section does is to [522] give notice that land division and resettlement is at an end for all the areas outside those scheduled by the British in their wisdom in 1909, unless those areas outside, at parish level, form something closely reminiscent of the land clubs of the thirties and start “hollering” that they want to be scheduled as congested districts. Otherwise, land division will become impossible for them. Are we not setting the stage for a new type of land agitation which will be very destructive?

Of course, the ultimate plan of the Government is to create economic farm holdings everywhere. However, they have been very careful to point out that some of them may not be created until the year 2100. For the people who have even a rare hope of benefiting under the land resettlement programme, the first step on the road is to form an organisation or become a member of a political body and get a resolution through the political club to say that their area must be scheduled as a congested district.

That would create a situation which would become intolerable. It is a situation we do not have at this stage of our development. As Senator Fitzpatrick has said, it is a situation which could be seized upon by unscrupulous politicians to win votes in the areas concerned. Any party or group who have opposed this provision have been logical in that opposition. They, too, can go to those areas and say they opposed it and tried to prevent its enactment with all the strength at their disposal. They can say: “We still believe that section is wrong and immediately it is in our power we shall ensure that it is deleted from the Act”. They will not be unreasonable, but logical, in that and I wish we could say there was a possibility that a great deal more of that type of logic was forthcoming from political Parties. On the other hand, if the Minister or any Minister, who opposed it passing through the House, makes an Order before an election changing that, he leaves himself wide open, rightly so, to the charge of acting politically on it. It is all for the sake of denying justice to the odd person—the one in, per- [523] haps, 20. It does not make sense on any level.

It is no harm to reiterate for the information of Senators who are not in close contact with the land that the halving of the annuities was not a present to the farmers; in other words, it was a good bargain all round. The £4 million that had been going out in the annuities were compounded by the British for a down payment of £10 million. Then, our Government, having provided the £10 million, proceeded to collect £2 million or £2½ million from the farmers for that. I think the Government got the best of that bargain at that time.

Another point was raised by Senator Boland. Undoubtedly, in the period between 1948 and 1960 when Senator Boland was in power, you had prosperous agricultural conditions immediately after the war. You had good prices for agricultural produce and land was at a very low price. Therefore, the annuities that had to be found by migrants or by people allotted holdings were quite small. At that period they would have been able to bear the full annuity without any real hardship if they were any way reasonably good farmers. I can see Senator Boland's point. It was frustrating at that period to have to think that what was already small was being halved still further. In 1957 the amount paid out of a 33 acre farm was, first, only £1,260 out of a total cost of £4,000. That was halved, which meant the State was paying £3,400 and the tenant only £600 or £700. That was the situation at that period. But times have changed drastically since then. The price of agricultural produce has not maintained its market value since that period.

Again, the price of land has gone up almost at least four-fold since the 1950s. It is the price of land that affects what the tenant pays, because the other improvements, housing and so on, are provided under some other heading and very little is charged to the tenant. But the price of land affects it. Consequently, the amount paid by the tenant will go up very substantially. It [524] will reflect the full charge, the market value of the land. My contention is that today a halved annuity is itself a substantial charge and that no tenant could at today's inflated land prices face the task of a full repayment for it.

I just mention that for the benefit of the Senators from the cities who may not know the exact situation. They may think the farming community are getting something to which they are not entitled. What we are concerned with in this section is justice for all, that what is available for one should be available for the other. They should not have to go abroad and beat up a political club and get that club to bring its resources to bear on the Minister before they get justice. That is why I object to this section very strongly indeed.

Tomás Ó Maoláin: Information on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  Zoom on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  Did I understand Senator Quinlan to say that the £10 million provided in the 1938 settlement was in payment of the land annuities?

Professor Quinlan: Information on Patrick Michael Quinlan  Zoom on Patrick Michael Quinlan  Yes, the British accepted that.

Tomás Ó Maoláin: Information on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  Zoom on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  The Senator ought to read his history before he comes in here and pontificates. Secondly, do I not remember reading in the Cork Examiner a speech by Senator Quinlan in the presence of the Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Dillon, in Cork in which the Senator advised everybody to join a political Party? Does the Senator recall that?

Professor Quinlan: Information on Patrick Michael Quinlan  Zoom on Patrick Michael Quinlan  I still give that advice to everybody.

Tomás Ó Maoláin: Information on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  Zoom on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  If you do, you should give good example by joining one yourself.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  There is nothing about this in the Land Bill.

Tomás Ó Maoláin: Information on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  Zoom on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  I just want to recall what I said last night——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  The Senator may not recall anything except what is in the Bill.

[525]Tomás Ó Maoláin: Information on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  Zoom on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  ——that every time I hear anybody casting aspersions on political Parties, I shall object, and Senator Quinlan is one of those.

Professor Quinlan: Information on Patrick Michael Quinlan  Zoom on Patrick Michael Quinlan  I would be the last to object to political Parties or cast any aspersions on them. My only regret is that the people who should play a very active part in formulating policy stand aloof from the Parties and do not play their part. It is wrong that the Parties should be left open to the type of wrong pressure that is inherent in the section.

Tomás Ó Maoláin: Information on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  Zoom on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  Why do you not get in——

Professor Stanford: Information on William Bedell Stanford  Zoom on William Bedell Stanford  On a point of order, surely this discussion about Parties is quite irrelevant?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  It is.

Professor Stanford: Information on William Bedell Stanford  Zoom on William Bedell Stanford  I am sure the majority of the House would support you in this.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange  Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange  Last week the Senator got away with his speech about the courage of Lemass, but Lemass's courage seems to have died with Churchill.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Cornelius Desmond  Zoom on Cornelius Desmond  The Senator who is speaking did not say anything about political Parties.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  The Chair has to rely on the good sense of all Members for the preservation of order. While I am in the Chair, I rely on the good sense of all sides of the House and I expect co-operation.

Tomás Ó Maoláin: Information on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  Zoom on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  I do not think I could be considered to be out of order in asking the Senator to read his history before he pontificates.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  Only in relation to the Land Bill.

Professor Quinlan: Information on Patrick Michael Quinlan  Zoom on Patrick Michael Quinlan  In regard to the facts of the 1938 Agreement——

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  On a point of order, we have spent half the day getting to section 7 of the Bill. Could we now discuss the Land Bill? It will take [526] long enough without going into the history of the 1938 Agreement, as Senator Quinlan was about to do.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  The suggestion that we have not been discussing the Land Bill is a reflection on the Chair. We have been discussing the Land Bill, but to avoid the introduction of any further extraneous matter, I suggest we have the adjournment for luncheon.

Business suspended at 1 p.m. and resumed at 2.15 p.m.

Mr. Lindsay: Information on Patrick James Lindsay  Zoom on Patrick James Lindsay  In the course of yesterday's debate, Senator McGlinchey is reported as saying:

I will give Senator L'Estrange the information Senator Ó Maoláin asked for. His colleague on the front bench, Senator Lindsay, when the Coalition Government were in power got 30 acres of land from the Land Commission. Therefore, that power was abused.

For the purposes of the record and in fairness to the House, apart altogether from fairness to myself, I propose, with the permission of the Chair, to make this personal statement of the facts. I come from a very poor but a very beautiful portion of County Mayo beside Blacksod Bay. There was there remaining after a division of such land as was arable a fairly large tract of mountain going right down to the sea on the old Carter estate. My parents, both then living, were close by and as we grew up and our families increased, I considered it would be a good idea if I could get a portion for building there, so that at some time, perhaps even in old age, the same sound of the waves might full me to sleep then as it did when I was a boy. With that in view and nothing more, in November, 1953, I applied by letter to the Land Commission to know if they would sell me a portion of this mountain estate.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange  Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange  Senator Ó Maoláin knows who is involved.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Liam O Buachalla  Zoom on Liam O Buachalla  Senator L'Estrange must keep order.

Mr. Lindsay: Information on Patrick James Lindsay  Zoom on Patrick James Lindsay  My letter was duly [527] acknowledged, saying it would be given due consideration. In May of 1954, a transaction was concluded by the sale to me by the Land Commission of five acres 25 perches of this extremely valuable land for £10. When the apportionment of the rateable valuation of the whole was being made by the rating authority, they thought so highly of the five acres odd I had purchased from the Land Commission that they rated it at 1/-.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Liam O Buachalla  Zoom on Liam O Buachalla  That disposes of the matter.

Mr. Lindsay: Information on Patrick James Lindsay  Zoom on Patrick James Lindsay  No. Senator McGlinchey said that this happened when the Coalition Government were in power. That statement is not true. The Coalition Government, or whatever one likes to call it, did not come into power until 2nd June, 1954. He said: “Therefore, that power was abused”, that is, the power of the Minister. I at no time during all of that sought to use any political influence. Indeed, I did not think I could because the political head of the Land Commission at that time was the late Mr. Thomas Derrig.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange  Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange  If you had 2,000 hens now, you might qualify as Minister for Agriculture.

Tómas Ó Maoláin: Information on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  Zoom on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  I am glad Senator Lindsay has given the answer to Senator L'Estrange, and showed that it is not only members of Fianna Fáil cumainn who get land.

Mr. Lindsay: Information on Patrick James Lindsay  Zoom on Patrick James Lindsay  I got this land under the Fianna Fáil régime.

Mr. Fitzgerald: Information on John Jack Fitzgerald  Zoom on John Jack Fitzgerald  On Second Reading I described this Bill as a very good and very courageous Bill but I mentioned that there was one section to which I took serious exception, namely, section 7. I appeal to the Minister that he might have a second look at this section and might even withdraw it.

There has been a great deal of discussion here today on the section and its implications. A number of the Senators who spoke have a very different view of the implications of the section from the view that I have. As [528] one who comes from an area where there has been large-scale Land Commission activity over the past 30 years I should like to give my view of the section and the implications of it in the matter of the payment of the full annuity.

It is not unknown for the Land Commission to acquire in Meath estates of 300 to 400 acres. These estates are acquired with the object of relieving congestion. In 1959, the Land Commission acquired in the area from which I come an estate of 320 statute acres. In the allocation of that estate eight families were brought from the congested districts. Each family was given from 36 to 42 statute acres. In the case where 42 acres were given it was because the particular portion of land was not as good as the remainder. The average allocation was in the region of 36 statute acres. There were four cottiers adjacent to the estate each of whom got approximately four acres. Therefore, of that estate of 320 acres, the halved annuity would be payable in respect of 304 acres. I realise that the question of the halved or full annuity does not apply in the case of that estate. I am merely giving an example of what can happen and what may happen under this Bill. A mere 16 acres of that estate were given to cottiers. I can give the Minister the facts in relation to that estate and many similar estates.

Where are the economics? Where is the saving to the State in a case of that kind where, out of 320 acres, 304 acres were apportioned at the halved annuity and because four local cottiers were fortunate enough to get an average of four acres each, or a total of 16 acres, they would have to pay the full annuity? The saving represented by charging the full annuity on 16 acres out of a total of 320 acres is negligible.

The economics of such matters should not be in question here. I am concerned with a principle. I want to know why four smallholders adjacent to an estate that is being divided and who, between them, get five per cent of the land that is divided, should have to pay the full annuity as against the [529] other allottees who pay the halved annuity.

The Minister mentioned that deputations which he received had indicated that people would be perfectly prepared to pay the full annuity and get an increase in their holding. That is a reasonable proposition. Economically, at the moment, it is a good proposition.

Senator Nash was speaking for a county in which, when estates are acquired, they are, in the main, divided amongst local uneconomic holdings. I, on the other hand, come from an area in which the acquisition of land is for the purpose of relieving congestion in the congested areas designated in this Bill. There may be in the locality one or two uneconomic holders who may be fortunate to get an apportionment of an estate added to their own uneconomic holding. I am particularly concerned with the cottier in this case.

I appeal to the Minister at least to make the halved annuity applicable where the Land Commission give an accommodation plot to a cottier. I come from an area where many cottiers have, over the past 30 years, got accommodation plots from the Land Commission. Those accommodation plots were a decided asset to the cottiers. They enabled them to take their cow and her calf off the road. The cottiers knew where to look for them at night when they wanted to milk the cow — not as, in the old days, when they might have to make a search to find them. Those plots were a great blessing to that type of person.

At one time, the Land Commission overlooked those people and were not allocating accommodation plots but in the recent division of land they have resumed giving accommodation plots to cottiers. I would ask the Minister to encourage the Land Commission to continue with that practice because it is a great asset to any cottier to be able to have his own milk and butter for his family.

In those cottages in the rural areas, the tenants work on the road for about £8 5s. 0d. per week or work with a [530] farmer for from £7 to £8 per week and they are in the minimum income bracket. It would be unfair that an individual who would get four or five acres from the Land Commission under this Bill should be expected to pay the full annuity. I should like if the Minister, in his reply, would be able to give some idea as to what the annuity is likely to be. Is the full annuity likely to be from £4 to £5 an acre? I know that it depends on the purchase price and on the development and the buildings on the estate in question but I feel, in view of the amount of money that is to be gained on the very small percentage of land that will be allocated in the county I come from, that the Land Commission should not look at it as being an economic proposition because I think the added income will be very small indeed.

I may be completely wrong in this but I have the feeling that when this Bill is passed and goes on the Statute Book it will be the Act that will be operated by the Land Commission and by future Ministers and by future Governments. Is there not a danger in this Bill that we might, in the future, have a Minister for Lands or a Government who would have a look at this section and say: “Well, we have an estate of 500 acres there in the midlands. It is time we divided or allocated this estate?” Might they not look at it the other way and say: “It is an economic proposition to allocate this estate to uneconomic holders in the area because we shall get the full annuity from them?”, and, in that way, it might defeat the very purpose for which this Bill was introduced.

I do not know if I am making myself understood but can the House see in the future, maybe five or ten years hence, an estate being allocated to people who are able to pay, to the detriment of the people for whom this very Bill was introduced?

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  It has been conveyed to me that some Senators suggest we shall be here for the next two months to deal with the Committee Stage of this Bill. Let me make it clear that it is a matter of indifference to me, in [531] view of my experience of the complete misrepresentation that went on over certain sections of this Bill throughout the country and the whispering campaign about some of the sections. I welcome the fullest discussion of every section as well as the very full discussion we have had on this amendment. In view of the campaign of misrepresentation, the more discussion we have here, the more I will relish it.

First, let me clear the decks about certain misunderstandings that have been mentioned in the discussion of this section and the amendments thereto. I think it was Senator McDonald who got his lines crossed in the first instance on this section by alleging that the original annuity would be payable in full — at least that is what I understand the Senator to suggest — and that migrants from congested areas only would be entitled to the halved annuity and that that would not apply to other migrants.

What will happen under this section is that the annuity, spread over a period of 60 years, will be based on the purchase price of the holding which is bought and the old annuity on such a holding will be redeemed at the expense of the State before the new annuity is made out. I want Senators to get it quite clear in their minds that when an estate is purchased after this Bill is passed, let it be for migrants or, forgetting about the migrants, let it be in the main for division amongst local uneconomic holders in a non-congested area, in such a case, having bought the estate, to give an example, for, say, £20,000, and supposing there was an annuity of, say, £300 a year on that estate, that annuity will be redeemed by the Land Commission. Suppose a big house is on that place and that portion of the land is sold for £5,000 then that leaves a net cost to the Land Commission of £15,000. Very well, if that land is divided up amongst adjoining uneconomic holders, the £15,000 will proportionately be spread out between them by way of annuity on the additions they get over a period of 60 years.

I hope Senators understand that proposition [532] and that, even in the case of the people in the non-congested areas who are to benefit, there will be a loss to the State. There will be subsidisation to the extent I have mentioned and, of course, the time and the trouble of the Land Commission and possibly some improvements carried out for them as well. Senators will, therefore, appreciate that there is no question here, in this case, of doubling the existing annuity payable under the 1933 Land Act. That will be completely wiped out at the taxpayers' expense.

Secondly, if a migrant is brought from a non-congested area he will be in exactly the same position as the migrant from the congested area. In other words, he will be liable only to half the annuity. The very fact that a migrant will be brought from a non-congested area means that there is intense congestion in his locality, whether or not he is in a non-congested area.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange  Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange  Does that mean if you declare it a congested area?

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  No. It means that without any non-congested area being declared a congested area, a migrant, no matter where he comes from, will be on the very same terms as a migrant from a congested area. I shall give the very good reasons for that proposition in a moment but I should like the House to understand in the first instance these two propositions so as to correct any misunderstanding that may have arisen in the minds of Senators because of some of the arguments advanced against this section.

I cannot agree that there is anything gravely wrong in charging the full annuity on an enlargement to a local smallholder in a non-congested area while collecting only half the annuity from a migrant next door to him. The typical allottee will have an existing holding of some fair size for which he is paying a small annuity which has already been halved under the 1933 Act. As has been said by Senator Yeats he is not being uprooted or disturbed and he is well accustomed to the type of farming carried on in his [533] own area. He may be in the habit, and generally is in the habit, of taking land round about at a very high rent. In my experience and from deputations which I have received on this issue, their rent generally runs about £20 to £25 an acre. This is the type of people with whom we shall be dealing in the non-congested areas and they will be well able to pay an economic price for an addition, especially as the payment is spread over a period of 60 years.

On the other hand, the migrant who is coming in as a stranger to a strange land is taking on a whole new holding and often has to adapt himself to a new system of farming, the different agricultural techniques he has to employ in working his new holding. His position is much more difficult than that of the local man, including the absence of friends and relatives who invariably used to help him by way of what we call a meitheal or otherwise in times of stress in the area from which he has come. In any event if the migrants who have been accustomed to paying halved annuities on their existing holdings were asked to pay the full annuity on the new ones, they would simply refuse to move; our migration policy would fail and we would then be postponing for many years the effective solution of the congestion problem.

Lest I forget it, I should like, within the rules of the debate, to refer briefly to the question of the big houses on these estates. I regret that in replying on the Second Stage of this Bill, I omitted to deal with a very important point made by some Senators about big houses on estates taken over by the Land Commission. I think Senator Stanford and other Senators referred to this matter. We shall say that perhaps on that occasion my powers of concentration were not working as they usually do.

In regard to some of these big estates we take over we make provision for the sale of the big house with a certain amount of land. I shall deal briefly with the matter here. We may get an opportunity on some other occasion of having a wider discussion [534] on this issue. However, I want to say to the Senators who made this point on the Second Reading that it is Land Commission practice to try to find buyers for these houses and to allocate a sufficient amount of land to make them a proposition for a purchaser. We regard these as white elephants as far as the Land Commission are concerned and we have to allocate a certain portion of land that will sell the big house. I am glad to say that in many cases the Land Commission do succeed in getting purchasers, religious orders or institutions, to take over these buildings and preserve them. We do not want to have them pulled down. Some of them are well worth preserving for the nation.

Professor Stanford: Information on William Bedell Stanford  Zoom on William Bedell Stanford  May I ask the Minister if he has any idea what amount of land would be considered adequate? Is it the practice to take into account the nature of the surroundings of the house? In other words, have the Land Commission any standard figure they are prepared to go up to?

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  No. Every case hangs by its own tail, depending on the type of residence and the amenities that would be expected with it. I have a typical example. Recently we sold Castlemagarrett on the Oranmore and Browne estate and we allotted in gardens and grounds—I speak from recollection—about 125 or 130 acres with that building. Again, depending upon the type and extent of the property concerned, we, having an eye on the type of purchaser we would expect to get for it, allocate amenity lands with it to sell the big house and have it preserved.

Professor Stanford: Information on William Bedell Stanford  Zoom on William Bedell Stanford  There is another point I should like to put to the Minister. In view of this practice of the Land Commission, would he perhaps look with favour on an amendment later on enabling private sellers of houses who want to sell to non-nationals to sell a little more than the five acres he includes in the Bill? It seems a reasonable proposition in view of the Land Commission practice.

[535]Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  I do not want to trespass on the patience of the Chair by going into a wide discussion on this matter. We shall no doubt, when we come to other sections of the Bill, be able, within the rules of order, to have a fuller discussion on this matter. What I just wanted to do was to take this opportunity of informing the Senators who raised this matter, which I unfortunately neglected to deal with when I was replying to the Second Stage of this Bill, that in the allocation of estates we are conscious of the desirability of facilitating the purchase of these big houses by people who are able to maintain them by allowing sufficient land with them.

I am sure many Senators will have the view of the taxpayer which I want to put on this section. Let me reiterate that there is no comparison between the people in non-congested areas such as Counties Meath and Kildare and the people in the congested areas of the west. As I pointed out in the discussion on other sections of the Bill, down through the years there were different standards applied by the Land Commission to people in the non-congested areas from those applied to people in the congested areas. When I pointed out that the standard to be aimed at in the congested areas was £10 valuation for the type of land that was there, just like under this Bill my standard for a family holding was 40 to 45 acres. That may be something to be wished for because we all know in the congested areas throughout the country, it will certainly take a long time to achieve that. That target may never be achieved in many cases. At any rate it is a very desirable aim. We must keep in mind the target or aim, or caighdeán, as we say in Irish, in the congested areas was £10 valuation. There are thousands of cases in the same congested areas that were vested and written off by the Land Commission where rearrangement was achieved on £3, £4 or £5 valuation, which is utterly unrealistic in this day and age. That was the best they could do in accordance with what they had available at the time but there was one rule for these unfortunates in the congested [536] areas. It was an entirely different rule in these areas from that applied where land was divided in the eastern parts of the country. Without gilding the lily at all, there was a vast difference between the land of Meath and Kildare and that in the congested areas of the west.

In addition to all this, you have in the non-congested areas that vital thing, the availability of markets. If you look at the Schedule to this Bill, you can take it by and large that many of these counties on the western seaboard, including the Gaeltacht areas, are very remote from markets, centres of population and many of the economic advantages that people in the midlands and the east of this country have.

Senators will realise there is a vast difference in having a few acres of highly productive land within striking distance of a market for a vast variety of products and having the same amount of land of a very indifferent nature situated in such remote parts of the country that the cost of transport alone would virtually write off any reasonable outlay for intensified agricultural production.

What Senator Boland stated is quite true, that down through the years, where competition was keen for the land, in very many instances the Land Commission were frightened off purchasing or taking over an estate or a farm on the mere ground of economics. Having paid all that money for it, having considered what the resale value would be to the tenants, what the loss on resale to the Land Commission would be, taking into account not alone the price which was highly inflated in the Land Commission's opinion but also the loss on resale and the vast improvements that would have to be done, they just pulled out. Indeed, the Land Commission have to this day that power built into the Land Act.

As Senators well know, under compulsory acquisition, for the relief of congestion, a person whose land is being acquired has the right to appeal to the Appeal Tribunal and produce evidence before a judge of the High Court, if he is not satisfied with the price offered. It is the judge who determines [537] the market value of the land. If the Land Commission in that instance are of the opinion that the amount fixed by the judge is excessive, that it would make that land too expensive for Land Commission purposes, then they have the right to withdraw. They have in fact done so on many occasions and still do so from time to time.

Let me compliment Senator L'Estrange, in this connection, for his long memory and research into what I said on the 1950 Act in the Dáil. Let me also assure him my system of finding the market value of land is the one applied by the High Court at the present time and that I was wise in my time in advocating that particular type of way of arriving at the market value of land. I have had several deputations from time to time on this question. I distinctly remember receiving a deputation, before we took over Oak Park Estate in Carlow, which, I think, could well be classified as a typical case for the purposes of my argument of land being taken over in non-congested areas, portion of which would be used to deal with what we call local congestion in the vicinity of it.

There was a substantial take-over in this case but before the land was taken over, these people assured me — I accepted what they told me — they were paying from £20 to £25 per acre per year, year in year out, for conacre, to enable them to make a reasonable livelihood. Most of them had smallish farms. Of course, their land was quite good but the vast majority of them— at all events, all those who were on that deputation — represented that the general pattern in the area was that they were paying these outlandish rents for conacre. They assured me, irrespective of the price that might be paid by the Land Commission for that land, they would be very happy if the Land Commission took it over and enabled them to get an addition from these lands. They, like country people generally, had things worked out and were quite satisfied they would be paying nothing like £25 per acre on what they would get from the Land Commission. It would certainly be much less.

[538] I have had that same proposition put to me week in and week out by people all over the country in non-congested areas, and indeed even in congested areas, where one can understand that view because of the intense land hunger. I have letters each week asking me to urge the Land Commission to take over or purchase certain land, irrespective of the price, and that they would be very happy to pay the economic price for it. Of course, when you strip this business of any sentimentality, why should they not be because they know, and it has been happening, that unless the Land Commission step in, in cases of this kind, such land is acquired by the big farmers, the big shopkeepers and the big local gombeen man expanding all the time?

These people realise, if they are to solve their problems, they must rely on the intervention of the Land Commission. Some of them rely on themselves and by their own efforts and by the help of emigrants' remittances and one thing and another to build up their own user of land. But I think, in this day and age, from the taxpayers' point of view it is quite a fair proposition that outside the congested areas, where there is no question of rundale or rearrangement but just a question of people on land who desire to get more land, the Land Commission should provide the wherewithal, in other words, finance them — because that is what the taxpayer is doing — in getting that addition with payments repayable by very easy instalments over a period of 60 years.

I think it was Senator Stanford — and, possibly, others — who made the point that, perhaps, after a number of years the position of migrants should be re-examined. However, I shall come to them in a moment. I want to finish with the people in the non-congested areas who are desirous of enlarging their holdings or improving their standard of living, in other words. Let me remind the House that under our new standard of a family farm of 40 to 45 acres a greatly increased number will [539] now be regarded as uneconomic and in these non-congested areas you will have numbers of people who, perhaps, now have what we might call very good holdings in the west — holdings of 33 or 35 acres of good land — and many of these people will now ask the Land Commission, where local lands come on the market, to step in and acquire these lands to bring their holdings up to the national standard that we are trying to achieve. It would not be a bad thing if the State put up the necessary money and acted as banker for these people—because that is what we would be doing—to enable them, through the Land Commission, to improve their lot.

So far as I have met them and so far as the representations go that have been made to me, these people are quite willing and would be quite happy if the Land Commission would aid them in this way. Those who are concerned here with helping people in non-congested areas—apart from the intensely congested pockets to which I have already referred and which can be dealt with by a declaration under section 4, I think — would do well to reflect on the other side of the penny, if this section was not there because I have pointed out that the Land Commission is there, and, indeed, its predecessors in title, the Congested Districts Board was there, for the purpose of relieving congestion.

There is a very substantial demand on the taxpayer year in year out to deal with this problem. Use of any of that money outside the congested areas will inevitably slow down the work to a lesser or greater degree of solving the problem in the congested areas which is the primary problem of the Land Commission. Therefore, if Senators are wise in providing a means of helping these people who, however we regard them in the west as being economic must be regarded at this present time as not being up to family farm size, then this section, as Senator Boland has said, will be a great aid to them because the Land Commission in this situation will undoubtedly purchase [540] places notwithstanding the competition of the local wealthy shopkeeper or the local large farmer, that they would not touch if this section was not there because the Land Commission budget is not unlimited; indeed, a very substantial amount goes every year. I think that out of approximately £3 million that my colleagues in Government gave me last year to deal with this problem at least £1 million went on this subsidisation at the taxpayers' expense.

I want to make quite clear that not alone do I think this proposition is a fair one for the people in the non-congested areas considering their position, the chance they had through the years, considering the vast difference financially that proper land utilisation can make to them in comparison with their poorer cousins in the congested areas, but I can assure the House that what I have said about the representations received from people of this kind shows that they are quite willing to pay the full economic price if the Land Commission comes in and stands between them and the man with the long purse. They would be quite happy if the Land Commission steps in to enable them to achieve their heart's desire by getting a portion of the lands for sale.

Coming back to congestion and the migrants, I think I said yesterday that Senators might be surprised at the fact that it is not, in many cases, easy to get migrants to agree to cross the Shannon and start a new life in holdings over here. Senators may have thought I was rather facetious in saying that many of these people regard Meath and Kildare as backward places but I can assure the House that I was quoting the words of these people to me. They say that they have their own way of living in the west, that they have friendly neighbours and so on and many of them would regard being transported to Kildare in much the same light as if they were asked to live out their lives in the Congo.

Mr. Fitzgerald: Information on John Jack Fitzgerald  Zoom on John Jack Fitzgerald  Is there not a big waiting list?

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  Yes, in certain cases, but when it comes down to the day of [541] going it is extraordinary the change that takes place. I could write a book on what happens with these people when they come up and see the place to which they are to go and then come back to the west. It is particularly difficult where the people involved are key people that I want to get out of an area so that a rearrangement scheme can go through. They say there is no turf, that the grass is not blue enough; that it is an awfully backward place. And they are right. I myself would not like to have to do it——

Mr. Fitzgerald: Information on John Jack Fitzgerald  Zoom on John Jack Fitzgerald  That is when they have the Land Commission over a barrel, when the Land Commission want to move out one particular family.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  Yes, in some cases, but I should like Senators to appreciate the position. At present — the cost of land has been commented on by some Senators — the question of migration is very expensive and the people who come up now — at all events those who have come up since I became associaated with this problem—are people who have been very carefully screened. The Land Commission try to get the best and most progressive people they can to come up and accept a holding. There is provision for them to take short courses at the Agricultural College in Athenry. We have arranged for those courses to be followed up in their local advisory services when they arrive on their holdings. Those people are not taken up in a haphazard fashion as of yore. It is true that in some of the dreadful land slums in the rundale areas, there may be one or two cases where the holdings are so intermixed that it is a virtual necessity to try to get them out.

I remember one case in Connemara years ago when it was vital to get a man out. Unlike most Connemara people, he had never been outside the country. He had never been to England, or out of the country. The Land Commission showed him several holdings and he said at the beginning that he was quite willing to go. As usual when it came to the point of parting, he made excuses of one kind or another. He found fault with the [542] holdings. Senators would be amazed if they saw what this man was so fond of. I am speaking from recollection but I think it was something like a holding of £3.15. valuation on the rocks of Connemara.

The next time I called to that part of the country I was intrigued to see that man still there. I could not understand why he had turned down the last holding he was offered by the Land Commission. I had a long chat with him. He was a native speaker. Speaking in Irish, he made various excuses for turning down the last holding he was offered. I said that looking around I could not understand him and I thought he was being foolish for the sake of his children and for the sake of his future. He said: “I was making inquiries about this and I hear there is very good land around a place called Grafton Street in Dublin. If I got 40 acres there, I might consider it.” His mind was firmly made up and he had no intention of leaving County Galway for his own good reasons.

That pattern is changing. The younger people are anxious to get out. Naturally they would much prefer to take a holding, if one were available, nearer to their own people, and nearer to the kind of people to whom they are used. It is true that we have an extraordinary number of failures when it comes to the actual time of going, each and every year, under this migration scheme. I am trying to emphasise that to make the picture clear for Senators who are not used to the problems, psychological and otherwise, that arise in this field. It is essential in this case that we should have a definite inducement to try to get the people we want out, and to get them to accept migrant holdings.

If in addition to their other objections, the annuity could be regarded by them—as it would be in all cases— as being very many times what they were used to in their own circumstances, and on their own holdings at home, that would be another good reason for them — apart from the absence of turf and the social life of the west of Ireland — to jib at being migrated and accepting these holdings.

[543] So, for the migrants from Cavan, Donegal, Galway or Mayo, the same rule will apply. They will get a new holding at half the annuity; in other words, at half the actual cost to the Land Commission, on which the annuity is based.

Some Senators have suggested that that might be all right for the first years and that the position should then be re-examined. I am inclined to think there is quite an amount of logic in that view, but I think Senator Sheldon put his finger on the weakness from the practical point of view. It would be very difficult to know when we would be in a position to re-impose the full annuity.

Mr. Fitzgerald: Information on John Jack Fitzgerald  Zoom on John Jack Fitzgerald  It would be a very dangerous thing.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  Some people will get on much better than others in this field as in every other field. The vast differences between individuals and the human element enter into it. One man will progress like a house on fire in a short time, take conacre and buy extra land. I have seen that happen in Kilcock and other places. Another man may not progress so well or so quickly in his new environment. That is one reason for this differentiation.

Some Senators have asked what difference would this make to cottiers. Fundamentally we are not concerned with cottiers in this Bill. We are concerned with trying to make a plan and a law for the relief of congestion. Cottiers can be very good men and they have their own living and their own way of life. I think five acres is a large amount to give a cottier. I have no doubt that some of them make very good use of it, but driving around the country seeing people in industrial and other occupations, and having an odd look at some of the land that was given with labourers' cottages, would not put one in a mood to be generous, because in very many cases their plots are producing copogues and destroying their neighbours' land. That is apparent to any observant individual driving around the country. I do not deny that in some cases, depending on [544] the individuals, they make very good use of their plots.

Senators have also asked what difference does it make to the taxpayers. Senator Fitzgerald comes from Meath and if some cottiers down there got five acres of Meath land, as I know it, they would be getting a present from the taxpayers of approximately £600 to £1,000 and, as the American's say, that is no hay. It is socially desirable to give people land where land is available. Some of them make very good use of it, as I have said. I do not confine these remarks to County Meath when I make the case that some land is abused but I want to indicate that that is the trend. I have had experience during the past year of having to take back a number of cow-parks that were allocated throughout the length and breadth of the country over the past 30 years, because those in small villages, comprising types like cottiers, would no longer be bothered going to the trouble of keeping a cow in the cowpark. Like the Mullingar farmer, they prefer to come into the town to buy a pint of milk and a head of cabbage. Times have changed but the House should appreciate that these people in the main, with some few exceptions, misuse the land made available to them.

Nobody speaking on this section and this amendment has suggested that these financial inducements are not necessary in dealing with the acquisition, rearrangement and division of land in the congested areas. It is essential we should maintain the priority because these districts represent the very heart of our land slums. As far as the justice in all this is concerned, it would appear now that many of us here have different standards of justice. Senator Nash came up with a very good analogy; dealing with the land slums is very like dealing with housing slums in towns and cities. It is a great pity we did not devote as much of our national wealth over the years to solving this problem as we spent in dealing with the inherited housing slums in our cities and towns. In this day and age, our land slums constitute an urgent problem and that [545] is the reason why we must have this differentiation.

Senators who object to this section should consider, as I said earlier, that there is no differentiation in the case of the migrant coming in from a non-congested area. That is the first thing. He is treated in the very same way as the migrant from the congested area. Secondly, the State will still be substantially subsidising these individuals by wiping out the annuity and they are getting the opportunity of an addition that they would possibly never get otherwise but for this section. When Senators appreciate that that is possible, they may have second thoughts about their opposition to this section.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange  Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange  I am glad the Minister welcomes full discussion. We, on our part, appreciate the full and frank explanations he has given on every amendment and each section. Before we finish with the Bill, we shall probably know much more than we do now about land. It is our duty to make constructive criticisms as it was the duty of Deputy Moran and Deputy Ó Ciosáin in 1949 when the Land Bill was going through Dáil Éireann and they were in Opposition. I do not know exactly what the Minister means by his reference to a campaign of misrepresentation but I am at all times prepared to rely on the good judgment of the people of Roscommon and East Galway.

I quoted the explanatory memorandum to the effect that the classes affected are farmers with existing holdings who may receive enlargements in non-congested areas and cottiers and other persons who may get allotments in non-congested areas in which surplus land is available. These are the people about whom I am concerned. There are 4,000 farmers in Longford with under 30 acres. North Longford is not a congested area but it is a very poor area. If any of these farmers get an addition, they will have to pay the double annuity. I claim that is most unfair and unjust. The same applies to cottiers.

I welcome the Minister's concern for the taxpayers. We have the view of the taxpayers but I should infinitely prefer [546] the taxpayer to pay one farthing extra than have one farmer, holding ten acres of land, who gets an extra 35 acres scraping and pinching and possibly starving his wife and children to pay the extra £50, £100, £150, or whatever it may be. That may seem a small sum to some of us but to these farmers it would mean £1, £2, or £3 per week. Our population is roughly 2,800,000. Let us take a figure of 3,000,000. One farthing would bring in £3,125 per year and that sum would give 60 farmers a subsidy of £50 each per year. It is no use having concern for the taxpayer. I would prefer to put a little extra on the taxpayer than have the unfortunate small farmer in Longford scrimping and scraping.

The Minister says he had deputations and local people said they were quite prepared to pay the full economic rate. Remember, many of these people who take land are young men, bachelors, who are in a position to work very hard and pay the £20. When they get married, it may be a different proposition. We have all had experience of the people who ask the local surgeon to do whatever is necessary and they will pay the bill. When they get the bill, it is a different proposition. It is the same with these young unmarried men. It is very easy to go on a deputation and say one has no objection to paying double rent, provided one gets another ten, 15 or 20 acres of land. It is a different kettle of fish when these young men are married and are trying to rear young families. It is not so easy then to pay £40, £50, £100 or £200 more than a neighbour with a similar farm of land.

Farmers would need to guard against this section because the principle won so dearly and held, even after being dragged through the Economic War, is endangered. That Economic War incidentally cost the farmers almost £200 million and nobody came to their aid. But the farmers have come to the aid of industrialists since the 15 per cent levy was clamped on. They had to fight alone in the Economic War. Many had to leave their farms. Many were in a bad way for a long number of years.

I am completely opposed to Senator [547] Sheldon's and Senator Stanford's suggestion that after a few years, if the migrants are found to be reasonably well off, the rent should be doubled.

Mr. Sheldon: Information on William Alexander Sheldon  Zoom on William Alexander Sheldon  I was objecting to that proposal.

Professor Stanford: Information on William Bedell Stanford  Zoom on William Bedell Stanford  It was, in fact, Senator Jessop and I who made the suggestion.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange  Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange  I think it is a most dangerous proposal because, even as it is, there is a possibility of the benefit conferred by the halving of the annuities being discontinued. If the Government get away with this, it will be only a matter of time before legislation is introduced to bring the annuities up to the full. All they will have to do is point to a small farmer transferred from County Longford; he was given 35 acres of land and he pays the full rent. If he is able to do it, surely larger farmers should equally well be able to pay the double rent. This is the thin edge of the wedge, something we must guard against, which may ultimately lead to a new land tax on our farmers. It must be borne in mind that this section will seriously affect a cottage tenant in a non-congested district who obtains a portion of land as an accommodation plot. This is a section which the Seanad should reject and a section of which the people should take serious note. As I said, it is only the thin edge of the wedge for the introduction of what may be a new form of land tax.

Senator Nash asked is there any principle on which we can go. I think there is. We can go on the 1916 Proclamation which guaranteed “equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally”.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  Therefore everybody should get the dole.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange  Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange  No, not at all; we are not claiming that everybody should get the dole but that all parts should [548] be cherished equally. They are entitled to get equal rights and equal opportunities. It would be no harm to finish with a statement quoted in today's Irish Times from something said by Mr. McConnell in Trinity College last night. The report says:

He referred to the nation's Constitution, but regretted that his guarantee of equality of opportunity was not being fulfilled.

And it went on:

Until such time as there was equality of opportunity for all, he felt the Easter Rising was betrayed.

I can finish on the same note. It is betrayed for farmers from an area such as Longford which is a congested area. There is much more congestion in Longford than in Roscommon, Galway or any of the other counties included here. It is very unfair to those people that if a man who already has ten acres and who gets another 25, 30 or 35 acres, has to pay the double annuity.

Mr. O'Reilly: Information on Patrick Firmullagh OReilly  Zoom on Patrick Firmullagh OReilly  This debate is becoming somewhat silly. A useful contribution has been made by Senator Fitzgerald who objectively argued the merits of the Bill and I was impressed. Now, however, whatever merit the amendment would appear to have is completely destroyed——

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange  Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange  There is no amendment.

Mr. O'Reilly: Information on Patrick Firmullagh OReilly  Zoom on Patrick Firmullagh OReilly  ——by the contribution by Senator L'Estrange. He referred on several occasions to Longford. I happen to live in North Longford, the part that could be regarded, from the point of view of farm size, as congested. Senator L'Estrange quoted figures; where he gets his figures, I do not know, but if I heard him correctly he said that over 4,000 farmers were under 20 acres in Longford. I am not going to question his figures except to say that unless you analyse and understand figures, and are trained to draw conclusions from them, they mean very little. I suggest that those figures mean very little to Senator L'Estrange. I am prepared to argue that for many [549] of the small holdings in that area, there would be separate ratings, that it would be quite common practice for one farmer to have two folios, two receivable orders or two or even three ratings. Therefore, the picture is not quite as Senator L'Estrange tries to make it appear.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange  Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange  I did not say holdings.

Mr. O'Reilly: Information on Patrick Firmullagh OReilly  Zoom on Patrick Firmullagh OReilly  I am wondering why he referred so much to Longford. I suppose he realises that North Longford does not owe him as much as he would like it to owe him.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange  Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange  It does not owe me anything and I do not owe it anything.

Mr. O'Reilly: Information on Patrick Firmullagh OReilly  Zoom on Patrick Firmullagh OReilly  I am prepared to argue that that is the position, just as it is the position in congested areas in Galway or Leitrim. In the case of North Longford, as I understand the position, it has been regarded for some time past, not by a decision of the present Minister for Lands, as an area from which people should be migrated. A certain amount of migration has taken place for many years in the hope of having more compact farms and a different farm structure, even though it has not been declared a congested area. Some people want declarations of policy and nothing behind them. People have been migrating from North Longford and I am sure the Minister will agree that that will continue. I am not prepared to agree that you have 4,000 under 20 acres in Longford. If we want to get a true figure, we would want to look at the figures of our ratings and the claims made for a rebate by those making a total of over £20.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange  Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange  You will get figures at the bovine tuberculosis office.

Mr. O'Reilly: Information on Patrick Firmullagh OReilly  Zoom on Patrick Firmullagh OReilly  I do not want the Senator's help. I am well able to say what I want to say.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange  Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange  But I said farmers, not holders of land.

[550]Mr. O'Reilly: Information on Patrick Firmullagh OReilly  Zoom on Patrick Firmullagh OReilly  I was amused to hear Senator L'Estrange acting as the champion of the people and warning them to beware lest the Government should double the annuities, knowing well the contribution his colleagues made in the 1932 to 1934 period when the annuities were halved. Senator L'Estrange tries to make it appear that he and his colleagues will be the only champions of the people.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange  Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange  The people of Roscommon and Galway did not think that you were.

Mr. Fitzgerald: Information on John Jack Fitzgerald  Zoom on John Jack Fitzgerald  I should like to thank the Minister for the very detailed explanation he gave in justification of section 7. I can assure the Minister that I agree with all he said in regard to the halved annuity where it is applied for the relief of congestion. The Minister and many Senators may be under the misapprehension that we are arguing on the lines that section 7 should be applied to everybody, that all should have to pay the full annuity. I disagree with the section because, whether they are the privileged class who live in Meath and Kildare or otherwise, all sections of the community are entitled to the same rights.

I am not impressed by the undertakings given by certain deputations who called on the Minister on the question of the acquisition of estates and their division. Many Senators are members of local authorities and will know that when a house becomes vacant in town or country, people will come to them asking them to put in a word for them. One may point out that the rent might be 30/- a week but those people will say it is mere bagatelle, that “I am paying 35/-a week for a house not fit to live in”. However, when they come to sign on the dotted line, it is a different story.

The people who have been interviewing the Minister did so on their own behalf and I suggest that the Minister would be unwise to decide that those people have any right to speak for the people of other districts. It appears to me the Minister has made up his mind that this is a good [551] section and that where people at the moment living in non-congested areas get an addition to their holdings, they are doing well even if they pay the full annuity. I disagree. It is discrimination and, I suggest, it borders on the unconstitutional. Of course, that is only my opinion.

The memorandum accompanying the Bill mentions, in respect of section 7, farmers with existing holdings who may receive enlargements in non-congested areas, and cottiers and other persons who may get allotments in non-congested areas where surplus land is available. Apparently the provision does not apply to employees on a divided estate. I should like to ask the Minister what the position would be if any of them were cottiers. Would it mean they would have to pay the full annuity? If the herd on an estate lived in a cottage, would he be entitled to the halved annuity by virtue of the fact that he was an employee of the estate? I should very much like to hear the Minister's views on these matters.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  I shall answer Senator Fitzgerald's point first. People displaced from employment on estates have certain rights written in for them in the statutes: they are to be considered for compensation or for holdings. Under the 1950 Act, it was provided that employees who got compensation would not be given any land. That has been done, but where the Land Commission, in their wisdom, decide that any of those employees, let it be a herd, should get a holding on that estate by virtue of loss of employment, he gets the holding at half the annuity.

Professor Quinlan: Information on Patrick Michael Quinlan  Zoom on Patrick Michael Quinlan  I must compliment the Minister on his very clear and reasoned explanations on the sections, particularly this section. We are undoubtedly at a great disadvantage because of the way in which legislation is presented to us. For instance, this Bill refers back to the Land Acts of 1923 and 1933. We find references to sections in those Acts in single words — 2,000 is substituted for 600 and so forth. I would make a plea to [552] the drafters of Bills that though we should take the time to consolidate legislation, as far as possible we should ensure that sections, as presented, carry a full statement.

We have got a clear picture in section 7. First of all it deals with division of land in non-congested districts. All those affected in such a district are subject to the full charge. Again, divisions of land for landless men or cottiers are subject to the full annuity. A point I wish to make is that at the present price of land, it is not an economic proposition to pay the full rate. The standard has been presented as to what a man will pay for conacre at £20 or £25 an acre. When you speak of conacre, you speak in terms of Irish acres. Three Irish acres amount to the same as five statute acres and therefore £20 an acre is only £12 an acre statute.

If we take a figure of £150 as the price per acre for land — I think the Minister will agree that is probably too low — and add the present interest rates and allow something for a sinking fund—I doubt if you can get it under £80 to £100, which means £12 extra an acre — it is a crippling burden for any farmer to undertake. Added to that, the man must provide the capital to stock that land in an intensive way. Again, the burden of stocking the land adds to his capital requirements.

Therefore, you run the risk of recreating a different type of rural slum from those you have set out to replace — the type of farm which has acreage but which has not height. We know the land hunger our people have always had and therefore if a piece of land comes up, if the money can be raised, the people will set out to raise it without thought of consequences for the future or of how it will be paid back. As Senator Fitzgerald said, people are very ready with promises on the spur of the moment. All they need is the pride of ownership. But can they raise the necessary capital to follow that by stocking and everything else? Did they ever plan for that? That is something the Government should keep very much in mind.

Again, I am disturbed by the Minister [553] harping on the people with 30 to 35 acres who are already consolidated, who already have a holding. In former times, he says, that holding would be regarded as economic, but now, due to a change in policy, these people are entitled to extra land if the Land Commission have the additional acreage available. Such people with 35 acres would gladly grasp at the opportunity of buying another ten, even if they had to give £150 per acre for it. But they would find at the end that the additional acreage would scarcely enable them to pay their additional commitments to the Land Commission. It would be equivalent to taking land almost in perpetuity at £12 per statute acre or £20 per Irish acre. It certainly is not possible to make it pay from that not to mention the additional capital required to run it, whereas if such people put half that capital into their existing farms, they would get a real increase in income and would do a real national job by producing more off their own acreage, which is the primary task we face in trying to build the country. Be they big or small farms, all our resources have to be deployed to get them to produce more. With the Minister coming back to this matter of acreage, that is why I have to harp on the sheer national and economic lunacy of encouraging this to the detriment of encouraging build-up.

I was rather amused by a report in today's paper which seems to suggest I was the author of this policy of building up rather than outwards. Is that not what every agricultural expert who knows anything has been preaching ever since they began to study agriculture and particularly for the past 20 years — an intensive build-up? There is one other point. I would not like to see this present being given to anyone over 30 acres. However, I am concerned about those under 30 acres — maybe there are some with less than 20 — around divided estates in the uncongested districts who would be asked to pay the full price for the extra acres they get. I am concerned with the State putting a burden on them which they will gladly accept for the time being [554] but which they will bitterly regret afterwards because they will find they just cannot make a family farm that way. You cannot make a family farm by putting a crushing economic burden on the holder of that farm. That is what this section does with those people in the 15 to 30 acre group who might be brought in on land division schemes in the uncongested areas by this.

If these people are foolish enough to let this burden be placed on them, where they have to take this extra acreage at an almost perpetual rent of £20 per acre for 60 years, they have to be very intensive on those extra acres and on their own few acres. Because of this sheer intensification they have to produce, they create wealth out of those acres not created before. That wealth, in turn, makes a very substantial contribution to increasing the national income. That, in turn, makes a contribution to increasing the taxation yield in Merrion Street. Therefore, you are not being fair with those people. You are not giving them an incentive unless you give them back some portion of that additional tax yield. In justice, they are entitled to more than merely a business transaction. They are entitled to part of this increase by way of grant.

This is given quite freely in industry. It is accepted in the Shannon Estate and elsewhere that any industry that comes in and increases the national wealth, produces something we could not produce without it, is entitled to taxation relief as an incentive in its early years. Likewise, a farmer who intensifies his holding, whether that intensification is due to ploughing capital into what he has got or whether it is brought about by giving him some few extra acres into which he puts capital as well, wherever he produces extra wealth, he is also producing additional taxation and in justice is entitled to a share of that taxation as an incentive. It is recognised as national policy that we give a share of the taxation yield as an incentive to such people. It is given in Shannon and elsewhere in our industrial sector. I do not see why it should not be given freely in agriculture. It is certainly due [555] to those very few who under this section will be charged the full rent.

Let nobody be under an illusion at the moment that you are doing a service to any man in the country by giving him land at a rent of £12 per statute acre or £20 per Irish acre for 60 years, which is as near perpetuity as any of us will get. I know that down around Munster on the best land the level of rents is from £12 to £14 per acre. That is regarded as a very heavy rent and it is very difficult to make a living off it. What you are giving to a man by giving him an imposition of £20 per acre for 60 years, I cannot see. Unfortunately, it is the type of bait our people will rise to but which they will bitterly regret afterwards. That is why I appeal to the Minister to reconsider it, and the only way is to drop this section altogether. You cannot modify the definition of a congested area to cover it unless you declare the whole country congested. We are going to get into a right muddle and have a right onset of political pressure if this section is not dropped.

Tomás Ó Maoláin: Information on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  Zoom on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  Will the Senator now join a Party?

Mr. McDonald: Information on Charles B. McDonald  Zoom on Charles B. McDonald  Much has been said about the contribution of the general taxpayer to improving farm annuities. I should like to ask the Minister in connection with the Land Commission practice of holding estates, sometimes for a few years but in some cases up to 15 years, after acquisition before they are divided, if this is because the Land Commission take that time to decide who are the best applicants or is it an effort to try to reduce the annuity so as to have the land at a figure the people will be able to pay?

One of our first concerns must be to keep overheads on small farms as low as possible. It is for that reason we should keep the annuities down. The rates seem to be getting out of hand and cannot be controlled. I do not think we should, by this section, create a precedent whereby the annuities will vie with the rates in the top bracket. The general mentality of the rural community is well known to the Minister [556] and this question of making people from congested districts a privileged class will definitely cause reaction to migrants who are transferred to the midlands. I think the Minister should have another look at this section.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Cornelius Desmond  Zoom on Cornelius Desmond  I shall be brief in what I have to say now. I have listened to the debate throughout the day. The Minister's statement was most interesting. He covered all the points that were raised, or as nearly as possible. If he did not deal fully with some of them, that was not his fault because the debate was lengthy before his reply.

I may be wrong but I cannot understand why we should leave the section as it is. The Minister will probably reply to my point on the question of the division of holdings. A man with a certain acreage who might need the land, and who is adjacent, would not qualify to receive any division of these holdings, which would be divided into three or four parts, depending on the acreage. If he were a farmer in the same category anywhere else, he would not qualify either. He already has a good holding and there is a holding adjacent to him in which he is interested but he would not qualify although he was quite able to purchase it. The Land Commission will not interfere there. He is already paying the rent of that land; he purchases it and carries responsibility for the annuity simply because he purchases it.

On the other hand, we have the holding which is divided and because the Land Commission divided it, a man will find he will have to have an uneconomic holding in order to get a division, unless he has some secret weapon of influence. I do not think the Land Commission would be influenced, although some people might say they would. A man must have an uneconomic holding before he gets a division. If it is not a congested area, or declared as such, he will pay the full rent, an argument which has been debated here for so long. After a number of years, he will easily have paid the full purchase price, or perhaps more. He will continue to have to do so unless another Bill is brought in.

[557] Finally, he will find himself having paid more than the man who is a few miles distant who had a far larger holding, who purchased and was only paying the rent which was on the holding he purchased. There appears to be something wrong with the section, firstly, because it does not apply to a congested place and, secondly, because the tenant-purchaser gets it from the Land Commission. We have to get money back from that holder. There is something inconsistent about it. It may be asked why we should give something for nothing. The Land Commission must know a lot about this and be able to advise and help in those matters.

I hope the Minister will look at this again. I know he will tell me that a particular place could be declared a congested area but I do not think that is likely to happen unless there are five or six smallholders. Will the Minister declare that, by Order, as he can under section 4, a congested area? I think it is unlikely. I raised this point earlier and I did not get a reply to it. For that and other reasons, the section should be changed or deleted altogether. Nobody is making political capital out of this debate. I am concerned with the holder who finds himself having to pay the full annuity and his next-door neighbour will be on half annuity. It is bound to create dissatisfaction from year to year.

Mr. McAuliffe: Information on Timothy McAuliffe  Zoom on Timothy McAuliffe  When speaking on the Second Stage of the Bill, I suggested to the Minister that if it were possible to amend sections 5 and 7, he could expect support for the Bill. Section 5 has been dealt with here and the Minister has not given an inch. Apparently that is his attitude to section 7 also for he does not appear to give an inch on it either.

If we want to get the history of halving the annuities, we will have to go back to the Economic War. When the annuity war was being fought, we were told the people would have to pay no annuities but we found out that the concession amounted only to their being halved. Today we find the Minister going back to the old British system, which apparently must have [558] been the right one for anyone not born in a congested area. It is asking people in the non-congested areas to pay the full economic rent. When picking out what he called congested areas, he certainly did not open his eyes too widely. He did not look into North Longford to see that the average valuation of holdings there is £10. He did not call that a congested area. He did not go into County Westmeath which is supposed to be a ranchers' county and find that there are 1,900 small holdings there and that a £1 valuation in that county is the equivalent of a statute acre of land.

The Minister holds that 40 to 45 acres of land form an economic unit; yet, he overlooks people in Westmeath who have 20 statute acres and tells them they should not even apply for land. That is what is at the back of section 7. The Minister does not want the people in the midlands to apply for land. Land division is the greatest game of all time in the midlands. It was the greatest game of his own Party because they kept people meeting in houses everywhere that there was a farm to be divided by telling them that they would get land. I saw some of it myself. I was guilty of some of it myself but for quite a long time I have found out——

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  The Senator proclaims his own reputation.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange  Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange  He was a member of the Fianna Fáil Party at the time.

Mr. McAuliffe: Information on Timothy McAuliffe  Zoom on Timothy McAuliffe  I was very wise to leave it.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  I congratulate him on donning the blue shirt.

Mr. McAuliffe: Information on Timothy McAuliffe  Zoom on Timothy McAuliffe  I never wore the blue shirt.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  Are you ashamed of it?

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange  Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange  He did not say he was.

Seán Ó Donnabháin: Information on Sean ODonovan  Zoom on Sean ODonovan  Senator L'Estrange should speak for himself, not for everyone.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange  Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange  I would not be ashamed to wear it.

[559]Acting Chairman (Mr. Sheldon): Information on William Alexander Sheldon  Zoom on William Alexander Sheldon  Perhaps we could get on with the Land Bill?

Mr. McAuliffe: Information on Timothy McAuliffe  Zoom on Timothy McAuliffe  We will leave the shirts there. I never wore them; I never intend to wear them. The people excluded here are people from the non-congested areas. Let them be from the greatest congested area that we know in North Longford. If there is land being divided any person who is an uneconomic holder in the area should get as good a chance as any person from any other part of the country, on two conditions: (1) that you are satisfied that he will be a good farmer and (2) that you are satisfied that he will work the land and will make a living out of the land.

I do not believe in giving 40 to 45 acres to anyone who will continue to take work, thus depriving people who have only their labour to sell. I come from a county where there is good employment available with Bord na Móna. Yet, when the time comes to lay off men at the end of the year, people who have big farms are kept on if they have got in a few days before others and they are allowed to continue working for the full year. I know one family where there are 13 children, two of them got into Bord na Móna this year for the first time. The two of them were laid off. Some people have got an allotment of land but the farm is only a sideline with them now. They may take one day off in the month or one day in two months and a lorry appears at the gate and brings a load of cattle to the sales, whereas the unfortunate children who had started to earn their living are at home and have 42/6 a week social welfare. It is degrading to have such people at home. The mothers and fathers tell them that they must be no good or they would not be let go. The fathers and mothers do not understand why their sons were let go while someone with a big farm is kept on.

I do not think the system is right. When the Land Commission are allotting farms they should give them to people who would work them and who will stay in them. If they do not work them they should be taken from them. If they want to be labourers, let them be so.

[560] I cannot understand why the Minister would double the annuity on an uneconomic holder in the midlands. I cannot understand why that should apply in the case of a cottier who got an accommodation plot. That is all they ever got and there are very few of them who got accommodation plots. Senator Quinlan quoted a figure of two out of 500. That is about the ratio. Those two would have to pay the full economic rent. The amendment opposing this section is a good amendment and I give it full support.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  I do not know if it is really necessary for me to rehash all this business except to correct some misleading statements that have been made by some Senators on this section. I do not know whether or not Senator McDonald was here yesterday when I was dealing with the very point that he has made. Let me reiterate that it is utterly untrue to say that the Land Commission have in any instance let lands for any period of time for economic reasons or for the purpose alleged by the Senator of reducing the cost of it or making money out of it. Let me also say that in the kind of cases with which we are dealing, that is, large estates being acquired for migrants' holdings and so on, these never have been kept 15 or 16 years in the hands of the Land Commission without being divided. I dealt fairly fully in the Seanad yesterday with the history of lands that have been held for a considerable period of time. Invariably, these are cases in which there is special difficulty.

I pointed out that the statistics about these lands being in the hands of the Land Commission for a very long time can be most misleading where the lands concerned are in areas where rearrangement schemes must be put through, because many of these schemes have been held up over many years because the people concerned would not agree. Their agreement is essential to put through a rearrangement scheme, to do certain swapping and so on. In such cases, lands acquired by the Land Commission may be on their hands for a long time.

In other cases you have the position [561] where the Land Commission, having got one or two farms in an area and having expectations of getting three or four more in the same area, have in the past held on for a considerable time in the expectation of getting these other farms because they knew they could not make a proper rearrangement scheme or solve the local problem in an effective way without these extra lands. It is in that type of case that, generally speaking, lands have been a long time on the hands of the Land Commission. Unless, as I have said, there is some special local difficulty, the procedure—indeed, the directive— is that unless the scheme is prepared and the lands disposed of within a period of two or two to three years the matter must be brought to my personal attention.

Depending upon the time of year the Land Commission get possession of the land, normally it takes 18 months to two years to prepare a scheme and to have it approved because the preparation of the local scheme entails visiting all the people within a distance and then all the details have to be checked and have to come from the local office for the approval or otherwise of the Land Commission who may make changes and send the scheme back again. There is also the question of the Budget estimate to be prepared in connection with the division of estates. Some cases involve the provision of new houses or drainage or fencing and refertilisation of the land in cases where the lands badly need it.

So, in the normal case, the Land Commission try to dispose of lands as quickly as possible. Taking into account the amount of official time spent, the longer they hold them, the greater the danger of actual loss to the Land Commission. So, as I have said, it pays the Land Commission to get rid of land where they can as quickly as possible and the new policy and directive is, even at the expense of not doing such a good job, to try to have a partial rearrangement and forget about waiting for the extra land.

Another misunderstanding seemed [562] to be in the mind of Senator Desmond. The Senator misunderstood what I said as to what will happen under this section about annuities. I thought I had explained to the Seanad that where the Land Commission will now acquire an estate or a farm in the midlands for the relief of congestion the annuity under the 1933 Land Act which is now payable in respect of that holding is redeemed by the Land Commission before the new annuity is calculated. So that the State buys off the annuity on that holding and the amount it takes to liquidate the existing annuity on that land does not come into the financial picture in assessing the new annuity for the coming period of 60 years. Therefore, where that land goes to these local people in a non-congested area, what they will have to pay will be based on the actual cost to the Land Commission of that land, without taking into account the old annuity on that land.

Suppose the Land Commission buy a holding for £10,000 on which there is an annuity of, say, £150 a year. The £150 a year is wiped out and— to make it easy—that holding will be divided between four people. Each of these people, other things being equal, will be repaying one-quarter of that £10,000, that is, £2,500, over a period of 60 years by way of annuity. The Senator seems to be confused in this connection. His point was that the ordinary farmer who would buy such a holding was in a somewhat better position. The ordinary farmer who would buy the holding for £10,000 would pay out the £10,000 but he would also be liable for and would have to pay the £150 annuity that was on the holding that he bought. I trust the Senator now understands the position. At least, from what the Senator said, I gather he was confused as between the two positions. Indeed, it is to enable the tenants, the small people around such a farm, to compete against the large farmer who might buy such a place that this section is designed.

I understand what was written by a number of agricultural experts. We seem to be a nation of agricultural experts. Certainly, every Senator here [563] appears to be an agricultural expert when he speaks. I find some difficulty in following Senator Quinlan in his expert agricultural advice about going upward instead of outward and providing a spire out of the small farm for the small farmer's benefit so that he will have milk and honey ever afterwards. I do not understand the Senator's proposition. If I understand his attitude to this section correctly, he wants to save the small farmer from himself. He suggests that it would be a dreadful thing for the individual in the non-congested area to get an addition to his farm which he gets at the actual market value of land in his area under an easier repayment arrangement for a period of 60 years. The Senator seems to think, and I do not quite understand his proposition, that, in such an instance, having provided the money for this man's land to enable him to increase his unit, the State or the taxpayer should give him some kind of special bonus for working it or exempt him in some way from the normal taxation of our people. It is a bit too complicated for me and I do not understand it. Irrespective of the Senator's agricultural expertise, he will be an awfully long time in trying to convince these people that the State are murdering them for the whole future in enlarging their holdings, even in non-congested areas.

Some Senators complained that people on land should stick to the land and should not take jobs. I suppose that is a point of view. Indeed, in some countries very special laws have been devised for land and the utilisation of land. In a number of countries now, a person who is engaged in agriculture must have very special qualifications and is precluded from taking part in other avocations and, in the very same way, the people who can buy land or acquire land are limited to a special agricultural class. For instance, in the reclamation of the Polders in the Netherlands, not alone do the people who get that land have to pay the full economic value of the land to the State but, before being allowed to get it at all, they have to satisfy the powers that be there that they have sufficient capital and sufficient agricultural experience [564] fully to utilise the land that they get, even paying the full economic rent for that land.

Perhaps, with the evolution of time, there will be some Minister for Lands in my place who will come before an Irish Parliament and say, in effect: “Only farmers or people engaged in agriculture will be eligible to purchase land in this country” and eliminate what really is an artificial market being created by industrialists, shopkeepers and others who are not depending either solely or mainly on the land but who purchase it for their own purposes — and it is a good financial investment to siphon money off into the purchase of land. However, that day is not yet here and we have had to deal with the situation as we found it.

The people are free, whether they have land or otherwise. I assume that if they can get work that fits in with the working of the land they are free to take it. We are a free society. If we were living under a different system, there are many things that we could solve in a very easy manner. Imagine the position if I could walk down, as some Senator painted the picture here, as the Moses from the west of Ireland and automatically take over the whole of Kildare and Westmeath and oust the people there and put back my people where they came from. In this instance, however, we have to do the best we can under our own system in dealing with this problem.

I think that, in the non-congested areas, the proposition here is a reasonable one in this day and age. I do not want to go over all the reasons for this differentiation but I would point out, with these figures, that statistics without being digested or quoted can provide a very misleading picture.

Some Senators have quoted County Longford and the uneconomic farms that are in it and the awful congestion that exists there. Under the last census, for all those who claimed to derive their living mainly from agriculture, the position was that for every one man on a £10 valuation, or under, in County Longford there were 11 in my native county. That will give a picture to the House of the vast difference between the congested areas, with [565] which this Bill is fundamentally concerned, and the position outside.

Senators may argue that the definition under the 1909 Act is outdated. There is no doubt whatever that that definition, in the main, covers the counties where the intense congestion has been and where the intense congestion still is. Let me again say it is quite true that in some of these counties there are parts that are not congested but we are concerned with the intensely congested areas in those counties and every reasonable and fair-minded Senator will agree that it is in the counties and the areas set out in the Schedule to this Bill that we have this national problem which I am asking the House to help to solve by the enactment of this Bill.

There is nothing further I can usefully add one way or the other. I have tried to make my intentions clear under this section. I have tried to set out the reasons for this differentiation. I must still keep trying to underline that the fundamental aim of this Bill, as well as that of all the Land Acts ever passed in this country, and the fundamental aim of national policy is to relieve congestion. The diverting of any of our energies or any moneys from our national Exchequer from that fundamental aim will simply mean, if not the perpetuation of the problem, at least a long delay in solving the problem in the congested areas which is crying out for immediate solution.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Cornelius Desmond  Zoom on Cornelius Desmond  I appreciate the Minister's reply to the points I raised but there is still some misunderstanding. The Minister gave the example of four smallholders who got a portion of the division. They did not have to pay the full annuity but each of the four paid a quarter. Four quarters make up the full annuity on the holding. A side heading to section 7 refers to the payment of certain purchase annuities, etc., in full and then subsection (1) reads:

Whenever a payment to which this section applies becomes due to the Land Commission, such payment shall, notwithstanding anything contained in Part III of the Land Act, [566] 1933, or in section 42 of the Land Act, 1939, be payable in full by the person or persons liable from time to time to make such payment.

I am sure we have plenty of legal-minded Senators to interpret that but the impresison I got from the Minister's reply was that if a holding is divided between four persons, each of them would have to pay only a quarter and that would be the full rent as far as the Minister was concerned. I do not know whether the Minister understands the point I am making.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  I should like to get the Senator straight on this. Perhaps he is confusing something that was the law some years ago, that is, that where the Land Commission took over a holding, out of the purchase money the vendor had to redeem the annuity that was payable. Under present practice where the Land Commission buy a holding for whatever purpose, the vendor does not have to redeem the annuity out of his purchase money. If they buy a holding, in the instance I gave, for £10,000 and there is £150 a year annuity out of it, the vendor gets the full £10,000. There is nothing deducted for the redemption of the annuity. Does the Senator follow me so far?

Mr. Desmond: Information on Cornelius Desmond  Zoom on Cornelius Desmond  Yes.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  In this case where the holding is bought for £10,000, this sum is paid subject to the annuity of £150. Now when the Land Commission buys it, the first thing they do is wipe out that annuity, at whatever the redemption value of it is — it may be £500 — at the taxpayers' expense. They take that £10,000 and, dividing that £10,000 amongst four, they work out how much they would have to pay to repay that £10,000 between the four of them over a period of 60 years at the Government rate of borrowing which is at the moment six per cent, adding a quarter for sinking fund so that you get £6.5 or so per £100.

Professor Quinlan: Information on Patrick Michael Quinlan  Zoom on Patrick Michael Quinlan  I feel impelled to make one more effort to see if the Minister can get this straight. The Minister can check my figures with [567] any agricultural expert in the country and he will get substantial agreement on them. I am prepared to meet the Minister or his officials any time and discuss these figures and try to convince him.

A man has a farm of 30 acres of fairly average land that may have been given to him in an earlier Land Commission division. If this man wants to increase his output by £10 per acre, a total increase of £300, he must invest in the farm somewhere around 1.3 to 1.5; in other words, he must invest £400, of course, with the advice of the agricultural instructors. By investing £400, he will increase his output by £300 and of that £300, about 60 per cent should remain with him; in other words, £180 should remain with him. That is scheme A. That calls for intensification, which is what we are looking for.

Scheme B which the Minister suggests means that this man of 30 acres has a claim to get extra land from a divide. He gets ten acres of extra land and the ten acres, if worked a bit better than our national average, will produce £30 an acre gross output. Again, the total output increases by 30 times ten, by the same figure as before, £300, and again the capital that will have to be invested to produce that £300 is something in the region of £400. The amount that will remain with him is again about 60 per cent, or £180, as under the other scheme but under the [568] second scheme he has to undertake the yearly repayments for the ten extra acres. Taking the Minister's figure of 6¼ per cent which, of course, at present is below the market value, at £150 an acre, it means the repayment of £100 gross.

Out of the £180 he has made, £100 has to be substracted, leaving him with £80. He has an increase in his family income of £180 under one scheme and he has an increase of £80 under the other. In addition, he is occupying less of our land under the first scheme than under the second. I ask you: which is the better scheme in the national interest? If anybody doubts the figures I have given, they can be checked with any agricultural instructor in any part of the country and he will tell you that this is correct.

The only case where it would be necessary for a man with 30 acres to move on to something else is where he has gone in for intensification so much and has acquired so much capital that he is ready to do something else. In that case he is a man in his own right; he is a successful man and has built up a good enterprise. He can sell his land and buy something bigger. Of course, you could contemplate large units for increased production, that require no space, like additions for pig-keeping, on the 30 acres. I have mentioned two schemes and given the figures in relation to both. Which do you want for the good of the country?

Question put.

Boland, Gerald.
Brady, Seán.
Brennan, John J.
Browne, Seán.
Cole, John C.
Costelloe, John.
Donegan, Bartholomew.
Eachthéirn, Cáit Uí.
Fitzsimons, Patrick.
Flanagan, Thomas P.
Hayes, Seán.
Hogan, Daniel.
McGlinchey, Bernard.
Mooney, Joseph M.
Nash, John Joseph.
Nolan, Thomas.
Ó Ciosáin, Éamon.
Ó Donnabháin, Seán.
Ó Maoláin, Tomás.
O'Reilly, Patrick.
O'Sullivan, Ted.
Ross, J.N.
Ruane, Thomas.
Ryan, Eoin.
Ryan, Patrick W.
Ryan, William.
Sheldon, William A.W.
Stanford, William B.
Yeats, Michael.

Carton, Victor.
Crowley, Patrick.
Desmond, Cornelius.
Fitzgerald, John.
L'Estrange, Gerald.
McAuliffe, Timothy.
McDonald, Charles.
McGuire, Edward A.
Quigley, Joseph.
Quinlan, Patrick M.

Question declared carried.

Tomás Ó Maoláin: Information on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  Zoom on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  Even more emphatic.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange  Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange  Remember there were very few in the 1916 Rising.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.

The Seanad adjourned at 4.55 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 10th February, 1965.


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