Dáil Éireann - Volume 38 - 21 May, 1931

In Committee on Finance. - Vote 55—Land Commission (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following amendment:

“That the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration.”—(Deputy Derrig).

Mr. Kelly: Like my friend, Deputy Sheehy of Cork, I am one of the Deputies who is feeling happy as far as the work of the Land Commission is concerned, and I wish to congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary and the Government because of the excellent work carried out by the Land Commission in my county. They are carrying out excellent work there now, and I hope they will continue to carry out good work in the future. Some Deputies from my county have raised objections because a lot of the money spent there under the Relief Grant was devoted to West Clare to the detriment, I suppose, of East Clare. I expect the reason the moneys were spent in West Clare was because there were a lot of unfinished works in the western portion of the county, and the Land Commission wanted to finish them before they commenced any new works in other parts of the county. In East Clare there are very few, if any, unfinished works.

I would like to refer to the flooding of land in a few areas in my county, especially around Ennis and Newmarket. There was one holding mentioned by Deputy Hogan. It is situated at Doora, and the land has been flooded practically all the year [1633] round. The tenants are paying rates and annuities, and I think it is up to the Land Commission to see that this flooding is remedied. There is another matter to which I would like to direct attention. Where land is being distributed adjacent to villages, the people in the villages should be given preference. In my county some tracts of land have been divided adjacent to villages, and the villagers have not got any portion of that land. I believe estates similarly situated will be divided in the near future, and I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will see that the tenants in the villages concerned will get a share when the land is being allotted.

Dr. Ryan: The Parliamentary Secretary, when he was introducing the Vote, outlined the working of the Land Commission over the last year, and he gave figures relating to their achievements during the last six or seven years—since the passing of the 1923 Land Act. He mentioned that there were 15,000 tenants vested on tenanted land and 15,000 settled on untenanted land. That would make a total of 30,000 settled during the last seven years. I think that is a fair measure of the work of the Land Commission. Whatever their other work may be— preparing plans, inspecting land for division, preparing land for vesting, collecting annuities, and so on—the real measure of their work is the number of people settled each year, whether on tenanted or untenanted land. The Vote for the Land Commission totals over £700,000. Included in that we have a certain sum of money which goes to pay the salaries of officials—inspectors and indoor and outdoor staff. The total expenses of officials for this year is somewhere about £285,000. That really means, when we come to examine it, that for every person who is settled on the land the cost to the country is £70. That is rather a large sum. That means that no matter how long the Land Commission continues its work it costs £70 to settle each person on the land.

Mr. Roddy: The Deputy has not taken into account at all the resale of land in the Congested Districts Board [1634] estates. If the Deputy would look lower down he will find that figures are given there dealing with the Congested Districts Board estates which should alter his calculations.

Dr. Ryan: By how much?

Mr. Roddy: The total would be 48,000 or 50,000 altogether. The figures are given in the report.

Dr. Ryan: The figures are not given of the total number settled.

Mr. Roddy: I gave the figures in my opening statement. They were 30,000 under the Land Act of 1923. In direct sales there were over 14,000, approximately 15,000. Re-sales of Estates Commissioners' and Congested Districts Board estates were 29,000.

Dr. Ryan: The figures are in column 1325 of the Official Report. That would, taking the Parliamentary Secretary's figures, make me one-third out in my calculation.

Mr. Roddy: It would work out differently.

Dr. Ryan: Even so, it is rather a staggering figure. I am only dealing with the salaries of officials and not with the money spent for improvements on estates, nor the money involved in making up the difference in prices in Committee cases, and so on. If we take it at the reduced figure of £45, it will be admitted that it is rather a high price to pay for settling these people on the land. I think that is really the way in which we should look at the work of the Land Commission, because their ultimate function is to settle the people on the land. All the other things are only leading up to it. If they are taking over land, inspecting it, sending out engineers and planning roads and other things, all these are only leading up to the one point of settling the people on the land. And if it is to cost £45 in salaries and expenses to settle each person on the land, then I think it is not anything that we can congratulate the Land Commission upon. The Land Commission has been congratulated here upon various things by Deputies, especially from the Cumann na nGaedheal side, on an improvement in their conduct during the [1635] last year or two. If they have become a little more quick in their work they are still a very expensive Department in the State.

Looking through the lists of officials in the Land Commission one finds it rather hard to understand how they can all possibly be employed or how work can be found for them all. I do not want to examine into the question now. Deputy Derrig drew attention under this Vote to certain cases where the number of officials was increased and where men in the inspectorial branch were pushed up from one grade to another, and he asked for an explanation. It is to be hoped that the Parliamentary Secretary has taken a note of that and will give an explanation. In looking through the list myself I did come across two particular officials who I did not know existed at all in the Government service. These officials are two tipstaves. I examined every dictionary in the library for this word, and it was only when I came to the Imperial dictionary that I found it. If the Parliamentary Secretary will go through all the dictionaries in the library he will not find the word “tipstaves” except in the Imperial dictionary. This word is the plural of “tipstaff.” When he comes to this word in the Imperial dictionary he will find the meaning as people who are paid by the tipping of metal. That is how they are paid. At any rate, that is the dictionary meaning.

I wish to refer to another matter that has been raised on this Vote. It is a matter that particularly concerns the constituency of Wexford very acutely. That is the question of coast erosion. I know the Parliamentary Secretary will say that this question does not come within his province because it is at present under investigation by a Commission. But while that Commission is sitting, and they have been sitting for a long time, we have people in Wexford and in other parts of Ireland paying rates and taxes for land that no longer exists. I saw a letter from a particular man who says that for the last four or five years he is paying rates and taxes for twelve acres of land that has been eaten away and, in [1636] fact, has been cruised over by French trawlers who are taking the lobsters and the fish from the men of the Wexford coast. Even if the Minister would give this man the satisfaction that the land taken away would be fished over by Wexford fishermen, that Wexford fishermen would get lobsters and fish there, he would not feel the loss so much. What he does resent is that he has to pay rates and taxes for territory in which the French trawlers are getting fish and lobsters.

Another matter referred to by various Deputies in the course of the debate on this Estimate is the question of derelict farms. It was referred to by Deputy Corish. We all got the accounts of the Land Commission a few days ago, and they show a very satisfactory state of affairs. In practically every case the arrears have been brought down. The arrears outstanding at the end of the year under review are not as high as in the previous year. One would imagine on reading through the accounts that the farmers were paying their rent better than they were twelve months ago. That is really not the case at all. What happens is that the Land Commission are taking the money that should properly go to the county councils, and they are doing that more efficiently now than they were doing it twelve months ago. When the Land Commission do not get the annuities from the various farmers in a county they tell the Minister for Finance their trouble, and the Minister for Finance hands over to them a certain amount of money which would otherwise go to the county councils under the exchequer grants. The result is that the County Council of Wexford for the present year had to strike a rate of 1s. 2d. in the pound for the whole county, that being the amount of money needed to balance the money withheld from the county council in grant. That 1s. 2d. in the pound goes to the Land Commission to make up for the annuities that they were not able to collect on derelict farms in Wexford. I know, of course, that in many cases the Land Commission are far too severe in the collection of annuities. They have actually put people out of business.

[1637] At any rate, while that is possible I do not see why this report of the Land Commission accounts should be circulated to Deputies, and I presume to the Press and other people, showing what a rosy condition this country is in; that the farmers are better off now than they were twelve months ago, able to pay their annuities up to date, and that the arrears are reduced. There is another question akin to this question of coast erosion. It resulted from coast erosion. There is a district in South Wexford in a place called Slade. Four or five landholders have land there, and the only approach to that land is by a road which runs beside the sea. The coast was eaten away by the sea about four years ago. The result was these people could not get into their land, but all the time they were compelled to pay their annuities. The Land Commission sent down inspectors on three or four occasions to inspect the area and to see what damage was done, and they sent down engineers to see what it would cost to repair. I am quite certain, in connection with these various visits from officials of the Land Commission, that about 50 per cent. of the work could be done for the cost of sending them down. The whole thing would only cost about £200. It was to begin last year, but there was a little delay on the part of the Land Commission. The weather got a bit stormy, and they said they would put it back until the next summer—that is, this summer. Maybe they will and maybe they will not. I would like the Parliamentary Secretary to state why the people in Slade, whose only approach to that land is along this road, are getting no value whatever out of it. Being law-abiding people, they continue to pay their annuities and rates in the hope that the Land Commission will do something for them some time. There is this question also concerning ratepayers who have to pay both annuities and rates for farms that have become derelict. The ratepayers complain that the Land Commission are very unreasonable sometimes in their insistence on the total amount of arrears being paid up before anything can be done with the farms.

[1638] I do not know whether the Land Commission are bound by law or not, or if it is the practice to have a farm six or seven years in arrears idle and that they will not allow another man to take it over unless the full amount of arrears is paid up. Sometimes it may happen that a relative or friend of the occupier would be willing to come in and pay, say, half or 75 per cent. of the arrears and the remainder over a couple of years. He would be coming in there with the good-will of the occupier, but the Land Commission refuse to sanction the transfer of the land unless the total arrears are paid up. The arrears go on accumulating, until eventually they become so heavy that that land is not worth what is owed to the Land Commission. There appears to be no way out of it. I do not know whether the Land Commission are bound in this matter by statute or not. If they are, they ought to have the thing changed; and if they are not, I think they certainly should change their practice in the matter. If they get a tenant who is willing to pay a certain amount of the arrears and undertakes to pay off the remainder of the arrears with the annuities as they become due, they ought to accept that man, especially when he comes in with the good-will of the occupier.

There is the general question of migration, in which we are very much interested from the national point of view. On looking through some of the speeches on the Land Commission Vote last week I was very troubled to see that Deputy Connolly accused Fianna Fáil Deputies of being against the whole idea of migration. He said there were 400 and 600 acre farms in Meath, where the land is the best in Europe. He asked is it the policy that those lands should be devoted entirely to the fattening of stock and that people whose ancestors were banished from them be kept in Connaught? “It was strange in our time to find that mentality in the Fianna Fáil Benches.” I read on to find on what basis he made such an accusation against the Fianna Fáil Deputies. I found that in referring to Deputy O'Reilly, of Meath, he entirely misrepresented what Deputy O'Reilly said. As a matter of fact Deputy [1639] O'Reilly made it very clear that he was not against the question of migration at all. He went on to give instances of abuses which had occurred in County Meath in the case of people who were brought in to the County Meath under this migration scheme. He said that out of three or four estates or farms occupied by these people they were represented by one Meath man, who was a herd. He said “a large farm of land was divided up in the County Meath between three migrants about a year ago. One was brought in from Louth; a house was built for him. He got the land and he promptly set the house and the land.” I think Deputy O'Reilly had a perfect right to object to migrants of that sort.

He said that another portion was given to a gentleman who got a gratuity of £3,000 for Army service or something else and a pension of £90 or £100 a year; another was a lady, to whom there might not be much objection. The sum total of these is that the people of the Co. Meath are represented there by one man who is a herd. Here is what Deputy O'Reilly said about migration in general. If Deputy Connolly was listening to Deputy O'Reilly, he tried to misrepresent him completely, and through him the Fianna Fáil Party and their attitude to migration. Deputy O'Reilly said: “I have no objection to migration so long as it is not abused, but I object very strongly where those abuses occur.” He said: “I admit, if the Parliamentary Secretary is able to give a satisfactory explanation, and prove that the information I have got is wrong, there is something to be said for him.” I think nothing could be more reasonable than that.

Deputy O'Reilly said that there was congestion in the Co. Meath, and that he thought it was due to the people of Meath that that congestion should be made right before migrants were brought in. I do not see who could object to that. If there are uneconomic holders and landless men in Meath who deserve land they should be considered first. He made it clear that if that is done he had no objection to migrants from Connaught or Irish-speaking [1640] districts. Deputy Connolly tried to give this House the impression that it was the people living in small patches of waste land in the West of Ireland whom the Parliamentary Secretary was going to bring into Meath to settle on the land, and that Deputy O'Reilly was trying to prevent this. That is not the case. We are making room for these people on better patches of land in the West of Ireland by the migration scheme.

Deputy Wolfe said last night that it was a strange thing to see members of the Fianna Fáil Party, some of whom he mentioned by name, appealing for the division of land and the speeding up of that division when they had two or three years ago voted for a Bill that would take the power of compulsory acquisition of land out of the hands of the Land Commission. That was a very strange point. I suppose if we were to analyse the Bill that was brought in by Deputy Derrig for the vesting of land, we would find that it would have taken the power out of the hands of the Land Commission once the land is vested, but Deputy Wolfe's argument is an argument against vesting altogether. If we want to have the land vested, and if the Land Commission have not the power to do it, there is at least power left to this House to make it possible to have the land divided as it should be divided.

Deputy Wolfe also advocated a thing that I certainly would not like to agree with, that all those temporary inspectors and other temporary staff in the Land Commission should be put on a permanent basis. If there is going to be a big rush of work during the present year, and it does appear probable from the statement of the Parliamentary Secretary that all land will be vested, either on the 1st of May or the 1st of November this year, it would be more advisable, I think, to have a large temporary staff that could be got rid of in a year or two years without involving the State in large pensions, gratuities and so on. You are creating vested interests. If you put these men on the permanent staff it would be difficult to get rid of them again. Deputy Wolfe made a point about those men, that they would be inclined [1641] to kill the goose that laid the golden egg. He corrected himself afterwards, and said they would not be inclined to kill the goose. He would up by leaving us under the impression that he was not sure whether they would or would not kill the goose that laid the golden egg. The whole point is, who is the goose in this case? Certainly not the officials of the Land Commission. The taxpayers probably would be the goose that might suffer at the hands of the officials of the Land Commission.

Deputy Derrig has moved that this Vote be referred back for reconsideration. We heard very complimentary speeches regarding the work of the Land Commission. Still, even from some members of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party who will naturally vote against this amendment, we heard some condemnation of the work of the Land Commission. As a matter of fact, Deputy Connolly threatened the Parliamentary Secretary that there would be trouble if the question of flooding of the land in his district was not attended to. He had previously raised that question on the Vote for the Department of Industry and Commerce. He tried it on the Vote for the Land Commission, but he missed his chance on the Vote for the Board of Works, on which it should have been raised. Seeing that there is a good volume of dissatisfaction with the work of the Land Commission, I think that Deputy Connolly and those like him who are not getting as much satisfaction as they would like from the Land Commission should join with us in carrying the amendment proposed by Deputy Derrig. I believe that is the only way that we can get satisfaction from the Land Commission, because if that amendment is rejected, and if the Land Commission gets the money it asks for in this Estimate. I have no great hope that they will mend their ways during the coming year. I believe they will carry on the old system of taking their time.

Mr. Coburn: This Estimate of the Land Commission, amounting to £778,901, is a very huge sum, but considering that it is dealing with the [1642] farming industry, which is the chief industry of the country, I think it will be agreed that the sum when wisely spent is not too big. It is set out here under the various sub-heads how the money is going to be expended. I find under sub-head A—Salaries, Wages and Allowances—the amount for the current year is £236,370, as against £230,407 for 1930-31, an increase of £5,963. The Parliamentary Secretary, in his opening speech, attributed that increase in part to the increase in the inspectorate staff. That staff has been increased with a view to the more expeditious taking over of tenanted and untenanted land. If as a result of the appointment of these new inspectors the desired result is accomplished, then I think the extra few thousand pounds will be well spent. The next chief sub-head which this Vote is asked for is improvement of estates, amounting to over £211,000. That money, of course, is intended for work of a reproductive nature. I suppose it is work that gives much-needed employment. At the same time, it would be well, taking into account the present position of the country, that the Minister should be very slow in increasing his expenses, as I think the time has arrived when it will be necessary to conserve every penny we can afford to conserve, in order to give relief to the general body of taxpayers.

As regards the work of the Land Commission in general, as far as my experience goes their work has been very satisfactory. I know that in the County Louth certain estates which were practically lying derelict have been taken over and, in a very short space of time, divided by the Land Commission amongst the uneconomic holders in the particular districts. The work of the Land Commission in dealing with the vesting of land is, I am glad to say, about to be speeded up through the last Land Act that was passed. In this connection I find that under the Land Acts since 1923, there were almost 15,000 holdings vested, comprising an area of 578,210 acres and representing a total price of £5,143,148. Those 15,000 holdings were vested over a period of seven years, which is an [1643] average of about 2,000 holdings per annum.

I find that the Parliamentary Secretary also said in the course of his statement that under the working of the new Land Act he expects that arrangements will be made for the vesting of no less than 70,000 holdings, the list of which was to be published, fixing the 1st May as the Appointed Day, and that the remaining holdings under the 1923 Land Act would be vested as from the 1st November. The difference between the work done from 1923 to 1929, and the work proposed to be done under the new Land Act, is very marked. It has proved one thing, the absolute necessity there was for the new Land Act that was recently passed through this House, an Act that has for its object the speeding up of the vesting of land.

In connection with the acquisition of land by the Land Commission there are a few estates in the county that I represent to which I would like to direct the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary. I hope he will be able to give some attention to them with a view to their acquisition for division amongst the uneconomic holders in the district. They are the lands known as Annaghvacky, belonging to Mrs. Quigley, the lands of Misses Dickie, of R. E. Franklin and of Patrick Cunningham, and of others, of Patrick O'Rourke and William Bailey. All these lands are in or about that district. At the moment there are numerous small farmers there whose holdings are anything but economic and who are prepared to take this land if the Land Commission acquires it. They are the type of farmers who are most useful to the country. They are thrifty and industrious, and many of them have large families. In view of the large amount of unemployment that prevails in the country the Parliamentary Secretary will, I am sure, see how essential it is that these lands should be acquired for distribution amongst these uneconomic holders. There are other farms in or about the vicinity of Ardee that I would like to refer to. As far as my information goes a memorial was sent [1644] to the Parliamentary Secretary asking that the Land Commission should take over these lands for division amongst the small farmers there. I trust that the Parliamentary Secretary will give these matters his earnest and sincere consideration.

With regard to the £300,000 provided by the Relief Vote, I would be glad if the Parliamentary Secretary, when replying, would state how much of that was expended by the Land Commission in the County Louth. I know that one or two works were started in the county when the necessity for them was brought to the notice of the Parliamentary Secretary. One was started on the Chichester estate near Castlebellingham. The Land Commission are engaged in making a new road there. That work was very badly needed. There were some other works done in the district of Omeath. As far as my information goes, the works started there by the Land Commission are not sufficient to meet the needs of the people who suffer very great losses as a result of storms, which did a considerable amount of damage. My information is that the Louth Co. Council sent a statement to the Land Commission pointing out the amount of damage, estimated at £300 or £400 that had been done in that district. The people whose lands were damaged are in very humble circumstances. The little parcels of land they hold, in some cases only a rood or half an acre, are as important to these people on the mountainside as 20 or 30 acres to a farmer in the Co. Tipperary. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will give favourable consideration to their claims either by way of compensation or by having works, additional to those already in hands by the Land Commission, carried out there.

Reference has been made to the question of coast erosion. As that question is being investigated by a Commission I do not intend to waste the time of the House in going into it in any detail. All that I will say is that very extensive portions of the coastline along the north of Dundalk have been damaged to a very great extent. Unless something is done to [1645] remedy the present situation large tracts of land there will become inundated and rendered useless as far as farming is concerned. That is a matter which I am sure will come up before the House in the near future and receive the attention it deserves.

These are the only observations I have to make on this Vote. I do not see any necessity for referring the Estimate back for further consideration. I think that, on the whole, the Land Commission have done, and are doing, very useful work. We all know how difficult it is at times to acquire land for division. We know that inquiries have to be made in regard to title, and how essential it is that the Land Commission should be able to give a full and a clear title to the people whose lands are about to be vested. Taking everything into consideration, I think it will be generally agreed that the Land Commission, with the resources at their disposal, have done much to improve the conditions of the farming community. It is my intention to vote against the amendment.

Mr. Allen: Despite all that has been said from all sides of the House on this Vote, I am afraid it looks as if the Land Commission and the land question will, like the famous brook, go on for ever. We do not agree with Deputies in other parts of the House who say that compliments are due to the Land Commission for having vested the amount of land they claim to have vested. They made a great blow out all over the country about the 70,000 holdings vested on the 1st May. We know that they have been working in connection with these 70,000 holdings over the last six or eight years. It is at least five years since I visited the Land Commission in connection with an estate that was not vested until the 1st May last. They told me at that time that the estate was almost ready for vesting, and yet that did not take place until a couple of weeks ago. Therefore I think there are no compliments at all due to the Land Commission in connection with the vesting of land. Since 1923 this House has given the Land Commission all the powers asked for or required for the speedy [1646] vesting of land. The delay that has taken place in connection with that work is the fault of the Land Commission. It was not until Deputy Derrig brought in his Bill a couple of years ago, and until Deputy Fahy made certain suggestions that the Land Commission and the Parliamentary Secretary found out what exactly they required in order to vest land. They are now claiming all the credit in connection with that work. We are not going to let them get away with it.

There was another matter referred to by a number of Deputies, and particularly by Deputy Ryan, and that was the question of derelict or partly derelict farms and the outstanding annuities on them. I know four or five of them and I can say that the Land Commission are mainly responsible for having them derelict or partly derelict at the moment. I have gone to the Land Commission myself about them and put up certain propositions and yet nothing has been done. I believe that the Land Commission would now admit that if the suggestions I made at the time had been acted on the annuities outstanding in connection with these farms would have been paid. The present position is that the county council is losing money each year in respect of each of them. I would be glad if the Parliamentary Secretary when replying would answer the question that was put to him by Deputy Ryan, and that is why the full amount of the outstanding arrears must be met by a tenant before the Land Commission can accept him as a tenant, or before his stock will not be liable to seizure. Must the Land Commission get its last pound of flesh and every halfpenny owing in rent before they will take an annuity on one of these farms? I would like to know from the Parliamentary Secretary if the Land Commission are compelled by law to so act. The present position is that the arrears on these farms are accumulating. I know one case where a farm has been derelict for 40 years. The amount of rent or annuities due in connection with it represents a sum that is ten times the value of the holding. What is going to happen in such cases? Cannot the Land Commission [1647] come to the relief of the taxpayer at some time and cut their loss for some particular period? Another reason why there are so many holdings on which rent or annuities are outstanding is because there is no co-ordination between the county councils and the Land Commission. I make the suggestion that there should be some official who would act as a liaison officer between the county councils and the Land Commission. If there was such an official he could help to get over a lot of these difficulties.

Another reason why there are so many derelict farms in the country is because there is no co-ordination between the different departments of the Land Commission itself. Take the branch of the Land Commission that deals with the division of holdings. In the case of one holding that I know of the reason why it is derlict and why no rent or annuities are being paid in respect of it is because the Land Commission have refused to divide it. About 30 years ago it was in two parts. The Land Commission consolidated it and made it one holding. Under a will it was left to two sons. Quite naturally they wanted the holding divided. They proposed building an extra house. The Land Commission have refused to divide it. The holding contains 35 or 40 acres, and there is no reason why it should not be divided. For the past five years no rent or annuities have been paid. There was another case where a proposition was put up to the Land Commission to divide a holding. In that case also they refused to take any action. That is all due to the fact that there is no co-ordination between the collection branch of the Land Commission and the branch dealing with the division of land. That is the reason, too, why there is so much money outstanding in the different counties in the form of annuities. The collection branch seems to have no function in the Land Commission except to get in the annuities. Their function seems to end there. One branch of the Land Commission does not seem to know what is going on in another. I have [1648] visited the Land Commission on many occasions and found out for myself that each branch seems to work independently of the other. I believe if there were some co-ordination between the different branches of the Land Commission, or if there was some officer to coordinate their work as regards derelict farms and other matters, the amount of the annuities outstanding would not be near as high as it is.

There is another work the Land Commission has neglected and that is drainage. Up to the time of the passing of the 1923 Act the landlords in several places throughout the country spent a certain amount of money each year in their own interest in keeping the drains cleaned up. He may not have been bound to do so, as these areas were not necessarily scheduled areas. But since the passing of the Land Act, and since the Land Commission took over responsibility, that work has been neglected, with the result that lands are flooded and have become absolutely useless. On many occasions Deputies representing different parts of the County Wexford have made representations to the Land Commission to do some work in this connection, but without avail. We have got tired going to them. Deputation after deputation went to the Land Commission and yet nothing has been done. Yesterday Deputy Carty, from this side of the House, complimented the Land Commission, and said that they were now giving more attention to representations made from this side of the House than they did formerly. I do not believe that is the case as far as certain parts of the country that I am aware of are concerned. The Land Commission, in my opinion, pay very little attention to representations made by Deputies. They should pay more attention than they do to these representations, because Deputies are more in touch with conditions down the country than the officials of the Land Commission. The Land Commission cannot spare one official to visit some counties I know. If the Land Commission paid more attention than they do to the representations they receive from Deputies it would be better for [1649] themselves. I do not know whether or not it is a question that they cannot extend their patronage to representations made by Deputies on this side of the House. Perhaps they have not enough for their own side.

The question of coast erosion was dealt with by Deputy Ryan. I think that we should have a statement from the Parliamentary Secretary on that. The Land Commission are responsible to a certain extent where land has been taken in by the sea. Farmers are compelled to pay rent and rates for land that they cannot see. The land is covered by the sea and may remain covered forever. Nothing can be done to reclaim it. But there is no reason why there should not be a re-valuation of the holdings concerned and an adjustment of the annuities payable on them. I would like to know from the Parliamentary Secretary whether, in the case of a holding on which a judicial rent was fixed at the passing of the 1923 Land Act, it can be changed in any way. Must the holding continue always to pay that judicial rent or the annuity based on it, particularly a holding where some of the land has been taken away by the sea? If there is no provision in the Land Act to deal with that matter, then the sooner the Parliamentary Secretary looks for the necessary powers the better.

Mr. Corry: It has been the custom up to the present for the Land Commission, when they vest a holding, to issue to the tenant a provisional list, and the tenant is given two months to object to the landlord's return. The Land Commission is now vesting the land en bloc, so to speak, and no provisional list is issued to the tenants. They are not given an opportunity of objecting to the landlord's return of the rent. I know several estates where the tenants are waiting for these provisional lists in order to make objection. I know that the lists are published in the Official Gazette, but farmers do not see that. I would like to know if the tenants will be furnished with provisional lists and given an opportunity of objecting to the rents returned by the landlords?

[1650] Mr. T. Crowley: On 25th February, 1931, I asked the Minister for Lands and Fisheries whether he would state the reason why, contrary to agreement, the people to whom the lands on the Croker Dyer estate at Grange, Co. Limerick, were let were not obliged to remove their stock on the 1st February, 1931. The Parliamentary Secretary replied that “the Land Commission have had a scheme prepared for the division of the lands on the Croker Dyer estate which is at present under consideration. It was hoped to have the scheme ready to put into operation on the expiration of the grazing lettings, but this was not found practicable, and in the circumstances the users of the lands were allowed to continue in occupation pending the settlement of the scheme, which, it is anticipated, can be put into operation at an early date.” When I got that reply I anticipated that, in the course of a couple of months, these lands would be divided. They have been in the hands of the Land Commission for the past three years. Last year there was a rumour that the scheme was ready, and that the lands would be divided very soon. I am now informed that publication of the scheme has been postponed until next year, and that people who had stock on the lands have taken grazing lettings for this year. I should like the Parliamentary Secretary when replying to give the reason why there was this further postponement of the division of that particular estate. If it had been divided up more expeditiously a large number of uneconomic holders in the Fedamore area could have been placed on the land and working it for the last couple of years. This is one of the very few congested areas in County Limerick, and I see no reason for the postponement of the division of this estate. I was also informed that a migrant was to be settled here. Knowing the district as I do, and that a large number of small holders are living on very small patches of land, mostly bog land, I cannot understand why it is proposed to bring a migrant on to that particular estate. The estate is only about 500 acres, and I do not think it is fair [1651] to the people in that area to bring in a migrant.

I also wish to refer to the Cloncurry Estate, Farnane, Murroe, Co. Limerick. I think the Land Commission have a report from their inspector recommending that these lands should be acquired. That is another place where there is a large number of uneconomic holders in a bog district. About five or six years ago these lands were up for sale and the Land Commission did not acquire them. They were bought by five or six different people who already had large holdings of land, and they have been left with these people ever since instead of being acquired and divided up amongst the uneconomic holders and labourers. Another estate is the Emly Estate, Carrig, of 500 acres on which there is scarcely any stock and no employment given. I do not think there is any justification for the attitude of the Land Commission in declining to acquire this property.

Another matter I wish to refer to is the question of receivable orders. From time to time I hear complaints of persons sending receivable orders to the Land Commission which they do not receive back. I wish to refer to one case in Galbally, Co. Limerick. Receivable Order No. 90/5114A. This is a man whom I know very well and who is always anxious to pay his rent the moment it is due. He was looking for his receivable order and it was never sent on to him. The bank refused to take the rent and said they would take it if he presented the six-day notice. He never got the six-day notice, although the Land Commission stated that they sent him a new re ceivable order. He applied on several occasions for his old receivable order and it has never been sent to him. There was new one sent on 1st March, 1929, but he has not got it yet. How can it be possible that so many letters can be addressed to the Land Commission about receivable orders and never a word heard from them? This man never heard, except through the State Solicitor in Kilmallock, who informed him that there were certain costs put upon him and [1652] a decree got because he did not pay the rent. If the Land Commission do not send back receivable orders promptly to the tenants they cannot expect to get the money in promptly.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Lands and Fisheries (Mr. Roddy): I am not concerned at present with the extremely weak case made by Deputy Ryan for referring the Estimate back for reconsideration, but I am concerned very much about the miscalculation he made at the outset of his statement regarding the cost to the State of the settling on the land of tenants. If he had studied my opening statement closely he would not have made such a very serious miscalculation of expenditure. 61,000 holdings have actually been vested since the passing of the Land Act of 1923, and in addition to that, 15,000 allottees have been placed in possession of holdings of untenanted land; so that the total number of tenants settled on the land since the passing of the Act of 1923 is 76,000. Taking the Land Commission estimate for this year as representing the amount of £578,000, and dividing it by the number of new holdings created since the passing of the Act of 1923, you will arrive at a figure of £7 10s. per holding. That represents the total cost of placing each of these tenants in possession of these holdings, and not a sum of £45 as stated by Deputy Ryan. I am sorry he is not present. The total average on this basis for eight years would work out at about £60.

Mr. Allen: He was not far wrong then!

Mr. Roddy: £7 10s. and £45!

Mr. Allen: £60 per holding!

Mr. Roddy: £7 10s. per each holding.

Mr. Allen: Per year?

Mr. Roddy: Not per year, per each holding.

Mr. Allen: How does it work out for the eight years?

Mr. Roddy: The eight years do not concern me. The actual figure is [1653] £7 10s. per each holding. That is the total cost to the State.

Mr. Allen: You are taking the cost for this year only.

Mr. Roddy: If you take the average figure for each of the past seven or eight years, you will find that the average works out about the same.

Mr. de Valera: I should like to be clear about this. Seventy-six thousand tenants have been settled on holdings. You are taking the present amount as the average. Is it not quite clear that £60 is the comparative figure with Deputy Ryan's?

Mr. Roddy: If the Deputy will divide 76,000 into £578,000, he will find that it works out at an average of £7 10s. per holding.

Mr. de Valera: What is the total sum expended on settling these 76,000 tenants?

Mr. Roddy: That is a different point altogether. That was not Deputy Ryan's point. He was basing his figures on this year's Estimate, and I am going on these figures.

Mr. de Valera: I was listening to him, and I take it the point he made was this: He mentioned £70 at the start as the cost to the State before the Parliamentary Secretary made his correction. He reduced the figure afterwards. The total cost of settling these 76,000 tenants is roughly seven times the amount provided this year. Is not that so?

Mr. Roddy: The Deputy is trying to draw a red herring across the trail. I am dealing with the point made by Deputy Ryan. Deputy Ryan took the figures in this year's Estimate. I am pointing out that his calculation, based on the figures of this year's Estimate, is wrong and mine is correct.

Mr. de Valera: I would like to be clear about this. I was listening to Deputy Ryan and I take it his point was, taking his original statement, that it cost something like £70 to place each individual upon the land——

[1654] Mr. Roddy: He did not mention £70. He mentioned £45.

Mr. de Valera: He mentioned £70, and on account of the introduction of the Congested Districts Board item, he said that, even reducing it by one-third, it would be £45. Taking the Parliamentary Secretary's own figures, are not these the figures given, that 76,000 tenants have been placed on the land? The cost of placing these on the land is roughly seven times the amount that is provided for this year. If you multiply the total amount this year by seven, and divide it by 76,000 you will get seven times £7 10s.

Mr. Roddy: I see the Deputy's point. I was dealing with the first point made by Deputy Ryan. He used the figure of £45 for one year instead of £7 10s. I went on from that and I stated that the total for the seven or eight years on that basis would be £60.

Mr. de Valera: That is Deputy Ryan's figure.

Mr. Roddy: He took the figures that I supplied in my opening statement when introducing the Estimate and he made a calculation on these figures. I wanted to point out that the basis of his calculation was wrong.

Mr. de Valera: On the Parliamentary Secretary's calculation, it takes £60 paid to officials to place each individual upon the land. The Parliamentary Secretary in his calculation shows that £60 is the proportion of salaries paid to officials for placing tenants on the land.

Mr. Roddy: No.

Mr. de Valera: What is your calculation?

Mr. Roddy: Salaries and expenses are only a small proportion of the Land Commission Estimates. It was Deputy Ryan who took the figure as given in the Estimates this year. I myself was not concerned with the actual, real cost, but I was concerned about showing that Deputy Ryan's calculation was wrong. In view of the fact that Deputies have spent eight or nine hours discussing the Estimates. I can hardly be expected to reply to all the points raised. I propose to deal as [1655] briefly as possible with the main criticisms. I must confess frankly that I was somewhat disappointed with the whole tone of the discussion. Personally I always like constructive criticism when debating Estimates of this kind, and I am sorry to have to say that there was very little constructive criticism in this debate.

Deputy Derrig raised a point about the increased cost in the Estimate for inspectors. There is undoubtedly provision made in the Estimate this year for the reorganisation of the inspectorate staff, which is made necessary owing to the outdoor work of the Land Commission. This reorganisation has been based upon the rearrangement of the districts into well-defined areas by relation to the amount of work to be dealt with in each of these areas. It is proposed normally to require the inspectors to reside in their respective areas, so that they may be able to devote more time, care and attention to their work, and also so that the cost of travelling and subsistence allowances may be reduced. It is true, as Deputy Derrig pointed out, that a change has also been made in grading the members of the inspectorate staff. The lowest grade in the reorganised inspectorate will be grade three, but that does not mean that any additional cost is to be imposed upon the State or upon the Land Commission Vote. As a matter of fact, that rearrangement will work out at a lesser cost than the previous grading of the inspectorate staff.

Reference to the Estimate for 1927-28 will show that the total sum provided for the inspectorate staff in that year exclusive of cost of living bonus was £42,999. That represented an annual sum of £474 for each inspector employed. In the figures for 1928-29 the total sum provided for the inspectorate staff was £42,540 representing an average annual cost of £484 for each inspector employed. The total sum provided for the year 1929-30 was £33,414 representing an annual sum of £471 for each inspector employed. The total sum provided for the year 1930-31 was £32,110 representing approximately the same figure [1656] for each inspector. For the present financial year 1931-32 I propose to provide £40,039, representing an annual average cost of £421 for each inspector.

The addition of twenty-seven inspectors for the year 1931-32 is being provided in relation to the amount shown in the 1930-31 estimate at an average of £292 for each inspector. The additional inspectors are necessary because of the fact that there have been a certain number of resignations from the staff. Certain inspectors had to retire because they had reached the age limit. The services of certain inspectors were dispensed with; and further because under the new Land Act a considerable amount of additional work will be thrown on the inspectorate staff for the next four or five years.

I stated in the Dáil when the Land Bill was passing through Committee, that I hoped to complete the work of investigation subsequent to the publication of the vesting lists approximately in a period of five years. There will naturally be a tremendous amount of work to be done even after the vesting lists have been published, and consequently if that work is to be done in a reasonable period of years such as I indicated then, it is necessary to increase the inspectorate staff.

Mr. Derrig: Will the Parliamentary Secretary state what the work is actually?

Mr. Roddy: The usual work of inquiry. I dealt with that matter half a dozen times on different occasions in discussing Estimates in the Dáil. First, objections will have to be dealt with. There may be objections to the annuities fixed on non-judicial holdings in which case it will be necessary to send an inspector to value the land, and to fix the annuity according to valuation and security. Investigation will have to be carried out in connection with such matters as turbary, mountain and grazing rights, drainage maintenance rates, rights of way, and many other matters of that kind. Normally if the Land Commission were to proceed [1657] on present lines it would take a much longer period than five years with the present staff to complete this investigation. I am very hopeful of the good results that will accrue from the reorganisation of the inspectorate. I do not think there can be any reasonable complaint in respect to the additional cost of the service.

I find on investigation that the average annual cost to the State of each Land Commission inspector in pre-war days when the Land Acts of 1903 and 1909 were in operation, was £584, a figure which is at least more than £100 higher than the average figure for any year since the passing of the Act of 1923. I think, notwithstanding the criticisms that we have heard in this Dáil, that the results that we get from our inspectors in the country are highly satisfactory. Their work is exceedingly difficult. Their hours are naturally very long because of the peculiar nature of the duties they have to carry out, and I think the country as a whole is thoroughly satisfied with their activities.

Deputy Derrig then proceeded to deal with the question of reclamation. First of all, he mentioned the reclamation scheme in the Cloosh Valley, and wanted certain information as to its cost to the State, and the number of allottees that the Land Commission would be able to place on the reclaimed land. The reclamation scheme in the Cloosh Valley was definitely experimental in character, and, naturally, the initial expense of any experiment is very heavy. The Cloosh scheme is not to be taken as typical of future reclamation schemes. but must be regarded rather as a demonstration of the possibilities of reclaiming waste land, and growing crops upon it. Already six holdings have been created on the land reclaimed there. A small area of land attached to each holding has been tilled and cultivated, and the result so far has been very satisfactory. I am hopeful that the scheme will be a success, but the continuance of the reclamation work in Cloosh depends to a certain extent on the results of this initial experiment.

Deputy Doctor Tubridy referred to [1658] the huge cost of that scheme. The whole scheme, including the erection of houses, drainage, fencing, labour, lime and acquisition of land, cost approximately £8,000, and not £24,000 as he stated on Friday. The State, of course, will have to bear practically the whole of the loss. The lands are being resold to the tenants at a nominal annuity. The former rents which they were paying landlords amounted to about fivepence or sixpence per acre, whereas the new annuity will amount to between fourpence and fourpence halfpenny. There are thirty acres of land attached to each holding which is being fenced in, and it is hoped that the tenant will reclaim it in due course. The Land Commission will exercise a certain amount of supervision until the scheme is finished. In addition, one-eighteenth of 2,600 acres will be given to each tenant, and it is proposed to give an additional 800 acres as a commonage. If Deputy Derrig works out the figures he will find that my statement about the annuity being between fourpence and fourpence-halfpenny is correct.

It is, as I say, an experiment, and cannot be regarded as typical of ordinary reclamation work carried out in this country. If the Deputy read page 8 of the Land Commission Report he would have found a description of a very interesting scheme carried out in the Belmullet area in County Mayo.

Mr. Derrig: The Parliamentary Secretary has not stated what will be the loss to the State on the Cloosh scheme.

Mr. Roddy: About £4,000.

Mr. Derrig: What will the annuities amount to?

Mr. Roddy: Fourpence an acre.

Mr. Derrig: I mean the total annuity on the holdings.

Mr. Roddy: £5 3s. 4d. It works out approximately at fourpence an acre, but £5 3s. 4d. is the actual amount. When the Land Commission embarked on this scheme they made provision for about 80 or 90 tenants to be settled there, and, if the scheme is [1659] reasonably successful, they will proceed to carry out the full programme, which will provide for at least 100 tenants. A very interesting reclamation experiment was carried out in the Belmullet area, where over 500 acres of bog land of very little value has been prepared for tillage and divided amongst 114 allottees. I am quoting from the Land Commission Report. “The allottees signed special reclamation agreements binding them to have the land completely under tillage in five years, and, judging by the satisfactory progress that is being made in this respect, the land will probably be reclaimed much sooner.” The cost amounted to approximately £4,000. It worked out on an average about £4 an acre. The scheme has been a complete success, and in that area we are exploring the possibility of utilising other land for similar reclamation experiments. That has been the most successful experiment that we have undertaken so far.

In Donegal we have reclaimed a certain amount of land, but the experiment there is very small, and it is impossible at this stage to arrive at any conclusion from the results so far achieved. It is quite impossible to lay down any definite policy in regard to reclamation work generally. It is too soon to form definite conclusions from the experiments which we have carried out so far. It is very doubtful if it ever will be possible to lay down any general scheme or any general plans for the purpose of carrying out reclamation schemes, because conditions vary so much in the different counties. The type of reclamation which the Land Commission could undertake in each county will be determined entirely by local conditions. For instance, the Cloosh Valley scheme would be entirely unsuitable to an area like Belmullet. On the other hand, you could not possibly reclaim land at Cloosh on the basis of the scheme at Belmullet. The same applies to counties like Donegal and Kerry.

Mr. Derrig: Is that on account of the superiority of the land there?

Mr. Roddy: The Erris land is, of [1660] course, superior, as the Deputy knows, to the land in Cloosh. In conjunction with the question of reclamation the Deputy referred to migration. There is, of course, a good deal of internal migration going on in each of the western counties. It is quite customary to migrate tenants from one particular portion of an estate to another, or from one estate to another. As a matter of fact the Land Commission found it necessary to carry out a number of migration schemes of that kind for the purpose of enabling them to go ahead with their schemes of rearrangement, particularly in respect of rundale holdings. In order to carry out a completely satisfactory scheme it is necessary that a certain number of tenants should be migrated from one particular portion of an estate to another where probably no rundale exists, or from one estate to another estate. That is going on in every western county, in some portions of the South, and in Donegal. It has been going on for many years. The migration the Deputy probably had in mind is large scale migration of large farmers from the western to the eastern counties, or the midlands where plenty of land is available. Last year we migrated a number of those farmers and, not withstanding what Deputy O'Reilly and other Deputies have stated, they are doing very well there. It is, of course, inevitable that in the beginning and until such time as these men get used to the changed conditions, they may not make much progress but, once they get accustomed to the conditions of soil, tillage, marketing and so forth, they will do very well. That is the policy of the Land Commission. After all, the idea of migrating a big number of small holders from the western counties to the eastern areas is an utter impossibility, first of all, on account of the huge expense involved and secondly, because it is very unlikely that that type of man could possibly make good in the eastern counties.

Take, for instance, the small farmer in the Belmullet area or the Erris area in Mayo. I think Deputy Derrig is very well acquainted with both areas. We will assume that a small tenant or a number of small tenants from these [1661] areas were migrated to the rich lands of Meath about which Deputy O'Reilly knows so much. Surely Deputy Derrig will say at once, without giving the matter very much consideration, that the chances are very remote indeed that these men are likely to succeed in their new environment. That is because they have to deal with an entirely different class of land. They find that conditions relating to the management of that land are quite different from what they were accustomed to in the area which they left. The class of soil is quite different. The class of stock that would suit western lands would not suit eastern lands, and so on. The chances of migration of that sort ever being successful in this country are, to my mind, very remote. Our policy, and it is the only wise and sane policy for the Land Commission to follow, is to migrate the big farmer from the western counties to the eastern counties. After all he is invariably in touch with the conditions in eastern counties. He understands more about the conditions of farming than the small farmer would. He usually travels frequently to Dublin and to many other parts of the country. He understands marketing conditions and understands the class of stock that would suit eastern lands. He has been in the habit of farming himself in a big way and obviously the chances are in favour of his succeeding on eastern lands. Again you have the question of cost. It is obviously much cheaper to migrate one big farmer and to divide the land which he leaves behind him amongst the congests than to migrate a number of small holders to lands on which they are never likely to succeed. That is the present policy of the Land Commission, and it is the only sane and sound policy for the Land Commission to follow on this matter of migration.

Deputy Derrig also referred to the fact that no land at all had been resumed by the Land Commission in certain of the western counties. The Deputy quoted, I think, from Table 8 of the last Land Commission Report, but Table 8 of that report refers only to land acquired under the Land Act [1662] of 1923. If the Deputy had referred to page 74 of the Land Commission Report, Table 17, he would have found that in addition to the acreage of land acquired in these western counties under the Act of 1923, approximately 20,000 acres of land had been resumed as well on Congested Districts Board estates. That land was resumed in the western counties—Galway, Roscommon, Mayo, Sligo, Kerry, etc. The Deputy has to add that 20,000 acres to the total acreage of resumed land under the Act of 1923 mentioned in Table 8 of the Land Commission Report.

I am satisfied that the Land Commission has succeeded in administering the portion of the relief money given to it remarkably well, if I am to judge by the references in the speeches made by Deputies in regard to the relief grant. It is, of course, impossible to please every Deputy. I know myself from experience of the administration of the last relief grant that every Deputy has some particular bog road, some drain or some particular by-way in which he is interested. Naturally, he would consider it of much more importance to get that work done than to get any other work carried out in which another Deputy might be interested. However, a very careful selection of work was made in connection with the last of these grants, and I am perfectly satisfied from reports of the Land Commission inspectors and from reports which I received generally from all over the country, that that work has been done very well. I insisted at the outset that the work should be done up to the highest Land Commission standard. I realised that under previous relief grants some work had been done in a rather haphazard and careless fashion, and the expenditure of the money was not supervised as carefully as it should have been. On this occasion, not alone did I insist on very close supervision by the officers responsible for the expenditure of the money, but I also insisted that our engineers should carry out the work in accordance with the best Land Commission standards. Generally, I am satisfied from what I have heard that that [1663] has been done and is being done in cases where the work has not yet been quite finished.

A certain number of Deputies complained about difficulties in getting replies to correspondence from the Land Commission. I pointed out on the occasion of a previous Estimate for the Land Commission that it occupies the whole of the time of twelve junior executive officers to deal with questions asked by Deputies in the Dáil and correspondence from Deputies and Senators. After all, let us examine this question a little. Most of the correspondence received, particularly in the Purchase Branch of the Land Commission, relates to the placing of certain people on lands acquired by us. Most of the letters are really recommendations that certain people shall be given a holding of land on certain estates where the Land Commission is operating. Surely Deputies are not serious in asking the Land Commission to give a definite reply, that the particular individual they recommend for the land is going to get it. After all, what can Deputies expect in such cases except a mere acknowledgment of the letter? It might be two or three years before the Land Commission would be in a position to prepare a scheme for the division of that particular estate. In the meantime it is not possible for the Land Commission to do anything more than send out an acknowledgment of such letters to Deputies.

I think Deputies will realise that if the Land Commission is to carry out this work satisfactorily a certain amount of secrecy must be observed, particularly in regard to the division of land. After all, if Deputies were to be told beforehand that the particular individual whom they recommended, or who was recommended by some friend of theirs, was to get the land, they can realise the difficulties that would confront the Land Commission and the Land Commission officials afterwards in dealing with that particular estate. It is quite impossible, and Deputies realise it perfectly well, to give away information of that kind in advance. In fact, the Land Commission is not in a position to give any [1664] information on that subject until a scheme is finally approved by the Commissioners. As I said a moment ago, it may be two or three years after a letter has been received by the Land Commission before they would be in a position to distribute the land.

Mr. Derrig: On a point of explanation, as the Parliamentary Secretary thinks that Deputies on this side of the House want assurances that the people for whom they speak are going to get land, whether or not they are entitled to it——

Mr. Roddy: I am not considering it from that aspect at all.

Mr. Derrig: —he is making a mistake. Even where we think they are entitled to it, we do not want a definite promise, but I suggest that if twelve junior executive officers are required to reply to letters addressed to them by members of this Party, they might give a little more information in the letters and then they would not have to endure such tortures in the way of correspondence. Most of the replies are simply acknowledgments. It does not matter whether the acknowledgments occupy twenty lines or two lines. There is nothing in the letter except that the matter is being attended to. It would be just as well if there was no reply at all.

Mr. Roddy: I am not speaking of Fianna Fáil Deputies specially but of Deputies and Senators in general. I think that it is impossible, in cases like these when Deputies write letters to the Land Commission recommending that a certain individual should be given a holding of land on a particular estate, for the Land Commission to do more than send a mere acknowledgment of the letter. I thought I had succeeded in making that clear to the Deputy but evidently I have not. When a letter like that is received, the Land Commission is not able to give information on it, but the letter is put on the file and the file is sent down to the inspector in the country. When the inspector is preparing a scheme he naturally investigates [1665] the claim of every individual who is seeking a holding of land on the estate, including the claim of the particular individual mentioned in the letter. Ultimately it is a matter for the Land Commission to decide who is to get these lands. This class of letter represents the major portion of the correspondence received in the Land Commission office. There are other people in the country who write letters to the Land Commission. The Land Commission are simply deluged with correspondence relating to the division of lands, the making of bog roads, the improvement and maintenance of drainage works as well as all sorts of matters for which the Land Commission have no responsibility whatever.

Mr. Allen: Is a Deputy's correspondence given more consideration than the correspondence from other people?

Mr. Roddy: Oh, yes it is.

Mr. T.J. O'Connell: Then God help the others.

Mr. Roddy: The question of drainage has been raised by the Deputies on these Estimates. The Land Commission has already done a great deal of work for the purpose of removing the causes of the flooding of lands. Wherever necessary the Land Commission do spend money in carrying out drainage schemes on the lands acquired and divided up under the Land Act of 1923. But quite a number of ridiculous and absurd proposals are made to the Land Commission that they should carry out trivial drainage schemes on estates purchased under the earlier Acts of 1903 and 1909. In the case of the majority of sales under the 1903 and 1909 Land Acts, the sales were direct sales between landlord and tenant. Up to the date of the sale the landlord was responsible for the maintenance and cleaning of the drains on the estate. At the time of the sale the tenants undertook the landlord's liability in that respect. What is the result? For the last four or five years the Land Commission have been deluged with correspondence relating to drains on estates of that kind. These are drains [1666] that the owners of the land could easily repair if they would devote one day's work each year to that purpose. It is quite impossible for the Land Commission or for any other Department of the State to undertake responsibility of that kind. In the first place the amount of money required would be enormous, and in the next place the Land Commission would have to increase their staff by at least 100 per cent. if they were to become responsible for this work. The Land Commission can only carry out drainage works or drainage schemes on estates purchased by them under the 1923 Land Act. They cannot undertake any drainage works on estates purchased under the earlier Land Acts without the approval of the Minister for Finance. It is very unlikely in cases of that kind, where the tenants themselves undertook the responsibility for maintaining and cleaning the drains, that the Minister for Finance would sanction the expenditure, and it is unfair to ask the State in cases of that kind to undertake the responsibility for that work. After all, the Deputies know as well as I do that there are many areas in the country that are flooded at certain seasons of the year, and they know also that if the farmers in these particular estates would only co-operate and spend one day in each year cleaning these drains they would have no flooding at all there. It is ridiculous and absurd to ask the Land Commission or any Department of the State to spend money in works of that kind.

The same thing, to a certain extent, applies to bog roads. I heard a good deal about bog roads in the course of this debate. Again, as I say, the Land Commission has been deluged with applications to carry out repairs to bog roads. In many areas, the tenants using these roads could easily keep them in repair themselves. I know of cases where a number of tenants, in one case 100 tenants, use such a road for a certain part of the year— the turf-cutting season. During that part of the year they pass over this road twice daily. If each of them brought a shovelful of gravel or stones to fill up the holes, they would succeed [1667] in keeping the road in good repair. They do not, as a matter of fact, do that. The moment the road gets into a bad condition they immediately apply to the Land Commission to carry out repairs. Applications of that kind are purely frivolous, and they should not be made to the Land Commission at all.

Deputy Derrig wanted some information from the Land Commission about committee and Land Bank cases. In the discussion on the Land Commission Estimates last year, I made a statement that I hoped to deal with all Land Bank cases during the past financial year. Unfortunately, owing to peculiar difficulties it was impossible to deal with all the cases last year. There are still two cases that have to be dealt with, and I hope to get them dealt with this year. These cases are now practically finished.

Deputy Corry complained about the high price which the Land Commission was paying for untenanted land. Other Deputies also inquired about the price which the Land Commission is paying. I have pointed out over and over again, that the price the Land Commission is paying for land on an average since the passing of the Land Act of 1923 is smaller than the price paid for land under the 1903 and 1909 Land Acts. The price for untenanted land was smaller last year than in any year since 1923. The average price for unwas smaller last year than in any year since 1923. The average price for untenanted land bought by the Land Commission last year was £7 10s.; the average price paid for untenanted land since the passing of the 1923 Act was approximately £10. Under the 1903 Act, the cost was, approximately £12 per acre—£11 10s. is the actual figure. I have quoted these figures over and over again in speeches on the Land Commission Estimate, but, notwithstanding that fact, Deputies like Deputy Corry and others, still endeavour to make it appear that the Land Commission is paying a higher price for land to-day than at any other period. That is absolutely untrue.

[1668] [An Leas-Cheann Comhairle took the Chair.]

I am sorry that Deputy Davin is absent, because in the course of this debate he referred to the distribution of a particular estate which he said was in his own constituency. He complained that one man got land on that estate and that man was in receipt of an R.I.C. pension, and it was stated that that man had received money from other sources also. I am rather amazed at Deputy Davin mentioning that estate because that estate is not in his constituency. The estate is in an adjoining constituency, and I am quite sure that if the Deputy consulted a very distinguished colleague of his, he would have made no reference to that estate whatever. Deputy Corry subsequently gloated over Deputy Davin's statement. What are the facts? The individual referred to by Deputy Davin is 69 years of age. He is an uneconomic holder. I admit he has a pension from the R.I.C. He has one son and three daughters, all of them living on the land. His son is a most industrious man, a very good farmer and highly respected in the area. This individual was recommended for land by all the local people, including a distinguished colleague of Deputy Davin's. There is no question at all about it, the man was entitled to land. I am quite sure Deputy Davin or Deputy Corry would not take up the attitude that a man should be debarred from getting land because he is the son of an R.I.C. man. I am quite sure either of these Deputies would not take up that attitude.

Mr. S. Jordan: How many daughters has he? Now is your chance.

Mr. Corry: The point I made was that it was unfair to give land to pensioners of any description. To do so would be unfair and unjust to men who have been working on the land. There are plenty of evicted tenants who are entitled to holdings and they should get the preference.

Mr. Roddy: They all got land on this particular estate.

[1669] Mr. Corry: How many pensioners are there amongst the people who got land? I am sure 50 per cent. of the tenants are ex-army pensioners.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Parliamentary Secretary must be allowed to continue his speech without interruption.

Mr. Roddy: Deputy Goulding wants some information about the procedure adopted by the Land Commission in regard to the retention of portion of the purchase money for the purpose of carrying out repairs to embankments. Ten per cent. of the purchase money can be retained as a guarantee deposit and the Land Commission can put in a claim against that ten per cent. for the purpose of finding money to carry out repairs to embankments. In addition to the powers they have got under the new Act, the Land Commission have power to apply to the judge at any time for the purpose of retaining portion, or the whole, of the purchase money for the purpose of putting embankments in proper repair or providing for their future maintenance. The Land Commission have ample power to deal with the question of embankments, either for carrying out repairs or providing for future maintenance.

Mr. Goulding: The point I made was that before vesting the land in the tenants the landlord should be compelled to put the embankments into reasonably decent repair.

Mr. Roddy: That is a matter for the Land Commission. They have ample power in that respect. Deputy Anthony referred to certain lands in County Cork—Ballincollig. He probably was not aware, when he made reference to these lands, that they are really State lands and consequently the Land Commission has no responsibility for them. I believe the Deputy is aware of that now.

Mr. Esmonde: What Department would be concerned in that case?

Mr. Roddy: As far as State lands are concerned the Board of Works is responsible, at least for the letting of [1670] the lands. Deputy Maguire referred at some length to the pitiable conditions in Leitrim. He evidently tried to convey the impression that nothing had been done in Leitrim by the Land Commission. It is true that there is a very small area of untenanted land in Leitrim available for acquisition. The Land Commission has acquired a fairly substantial area of untenanted land in Leitrim and they have already distributed that land. Because of the fact that there is such a very small area of untenanted land available for acquisition in Leitrim, the Land Commission have made special concessions in other directions to the county. They have spent a considerable sum out of the Improvement Vote on drainage works and they have also spent money on making roads. Generally, they have carried out many improvements of one kind or another. Proportionately, Leitrim has got a very big amount of money from the Land Commission. Already the Land Commission have spent something like £70,000 in County Leitrim on various improvement works of one kind or another and they have divided, approximately, 3,000 acres of land. The Deputy's statement that Leitrim has been ignored is inaccurate. From the purely improvement point of view the county has been exceptionally well treated by the Land Commission.

Deputy Carty mentioned that there was a large area of untenanted land to be dealt with in Sligo. I admit that there is, but that does not apply to Sligo alone. There is a large amount of untenanted land to be dealt with in every other western county as well. The Land Commission cannot deal with all the untenanted land in one year, or even five years. There is a certain rate of progress beyond which it is not possible for the Land Commission to go and there is a certain rate of progress beyond which it might not be judicious for the Land Commission to go. After all, the Land Commission must exercise particular care and as time goes on it must exercise even still greater care in selecting allottees for land. It is vitally important from the standpoint of the State that the men placed in possession [1671] of land will make good and that, so far as it is humanly possible to arrange it, there is every prospect that they will succeed. Undoubtedly a certain amount of land was divided in 1923 and 1924 and, perhaps, in the beginning of 1925, and I quite admit that proper care was not exercised; at least there was not exercised the care that should have been exercised in the selection of allottees for that land. The conditions now are quite different. We have an exceedingly competent staff of inspectors and it is the duty of the Commissioners, and others responsible, to see that the inspectors exercise the greatest possible care in selecting allottees and in placing them on the land. For that reason I say there is a rate of distribution beyond which it is not judicious to go.

Last year, notwithstanding the fact that the Land Commission was charged with the responsibility of spending something like £80,000 out of the Relief Vote, they had to undertake a huge amount of work in connection with the land problem, preparing vesting lists, and so on. A certain number of inspectors were detailed for the purpose of making inquiries before it was possible to complete the preparation of these lists. Notwithstanding all these difficulties we succeeded in dividing an area of 50,000 acres of untenanted land. That is up to the record of the previous three years. In my opinion it is an exceedingly good record and in the circumstances it is something of a very distinct achievement for the Land Commission. I do not know how it is, but the very words “Land Commission” seem to drive Deputy Carty into a state bordering on hysteria. A discussion of Land Commission Estimates is for him almost like holding out the proverbial red rag to the animal we all know.

Mr. Carty: The Parliamentary Secretary is endeavouring to be sarcastic.

Mr. Roddy: He started off by stating that during the last two years there has been a distinct change in the attitude [1672] of the Land Commission towards members of his Party. I can assure the Deputy that there is no change, that the attitude of the Land Commission has been the same since members of his Party entered the Dáil. The attitude of the Land Commission towards members of every Party is an absolutely fair and just attitude, and the work of the Land Commission is carried on on fair and just lines. The Deputy then went on to bewail the lot of the unfortunate congests in County Sligo who were waiting for the distribution of the lands in which they are interested. I would remind the Deputy, as he was reminded by Deputy Jasper Wolfe last night, that under the terms of the Bill he voted for in 1929 the Land Commission would not be in a position to divide one acre of land in Sligo or any other congested county.

Mr. Corry: You could not even understand the Bill.

Mr. Roddy: Were it not for the fact that the Government, at that time, saved the situation, these congests whose lot the Deputy bewails so much would be left in the unfortunate position of looking across the walls of estates that could never be divided.

Mr. Corry: We did not bring in 135 amendments as you did in your Bill.

Mr. Roddy: I at least understood them, and that is more than can be said for the Deputy. The Deputy referred to the division of a particular estate in Sligo, and said that a certain individual who subsequently got into trouble with the Land Commission was responsible for the division of that estate, the Hunt estate. That individual was not responsible for the division of the estate. The scheme for the division was prepared by the inspector in charge of the County Sligo. The individual whom the Deputy referred to may have visited the area and made certain representations, but the scheme itself was prepared by the inspector in charge of the area. I think, to say the least of it, that the Deputy's statement shows a lack of decency, in view of the fact that the individual was guilty of certain irregularities [1673] and was subsequently punished in the way which the State has provided in this country.

Mr. Carty: Will the Parliamentary Secretary deny that it was proved in open court that one of his principal engineers in Sligo had accepted bribes from certain applicants for the division of land, and that he had misappropriated money which was entrusted to his care by the Land Commission?

Mr. Roddy: The individual in question has been punished for the offence, but that was not the Deputy's point. The Deputy said that this individual was responsible for the division of a certain estate.

Mr. Carty: I said he was one of the engineers responsible.

Mr. Roddy: The Deputy said quite definitely he was responsible.

Mr. Carty: I said that one of the engineers responsible for the division of the Hunt farm at Rockley had since been convicted and sentenced to a term of imprisonment for accepting bribes and for misappropriation of money.

Mr. Roddy: The Deputy said specifically that the individual was responsible for the division of the Hunt farm.

Mr. Carty: One of those responsible.

Mr. Roddy: The Deputy said quite specifically that the individual had prepared a scheme. That individual did not prepare the scheme for the division of that estate. It was prepared by the inspector in charge of the county. That individual has been convicted of certain irregularities and has been punished in the ordinary way by the machinery provided by the State.

Mr. Carty: Then why state that the attitude of the Land Commission officials has been the same towards members of this Party since we first entered this House, in view of the fact that one of the principal engineers has been actually convicted and sentenced for accepting bribes?

[1674] Mr. Roddy: As long as that individual has been convicted by the ordinary machinery of the State it seems rather bad taste for any Deputy to refer to it, and the statement, in my opinion, shows a lack of decency.

Mr. Derrig: I think the statement of the Parliamentary Secretary is very objectionable.

Mr. Gorey: Not a bit.

Mr. Derrig: Is it your function to decide whether matters in this House are in good taste or in bad taste?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Fortunately, it is not.

Mr. Derrig: In any case, I wish to protest against the statement that there is a lack of decency in calling attention to misappropriation or otherwise on the part of public officials. As a matter of fact, when we raised that question we were very restrained about it. We certainly did not intend to make political capital out of it, and the Parliamentary Secretary's method of dealing with it only makes one sorry that we did not do it.

Mr. Roddy: The Deputy then proceeded to deal with certain works undertaken out of the Relief Vote. I have no information about one of the works, but I have certain information about Altonevick. It is rather strange that I have received only recently a memorial from people of that area asking me to complete the road. As a matter of fact that road leads into three distinct turbary areas, the development of any one of which would be exceedingly useful to people. I do not know what the Deputy means by tourists.

Mr. Carty: It would be a very good road to construct provided that the Parliamentary Secretary was able to build a bridge over about a quarter of a mile of swamp where the road ends in the mountain. Then he would be able to get into a good section of bog, but until he is able to get over this swamp I do not see what use the road is going to be to the people.

[1675] Mr. Roddy: At any rate people of that district sent a memorial to the Land Commission asking that a road be completed and I am sure that they know at least as much as the Deputy knows about it.

Mr. Carty: We know about the memorial too, and whom it emanated from.

Mr. Roddy: Deputy Anthony thought that the Land Commission seemed to exercise rather undue pressure on people who are in default with their annuities. As a matter of fact the Land Commission deal with these defaulters in a very sympathetic way. I think it is generally agreed by Deputies in every part of the House that defaulters are dealt with sympathetically, if they give a clear indication that they are prepared to meet their liabilities in a reasonable way. My own view is that there is no use in throwing good money after bad, and so long as the defaulter is prepared to act reasonably the Land Commission is prepared to show him leniency and to help him in every way. I would ask Deputy Anthony, however, to bear in mind that if the annuities are not paid the ratepayers in each county have got to meet the deficit and in some counties it is fairly large. Deputy Ryan, I think, mentioned that in County Wexford they had to strike a rate of 1/2 in the £ last year, for the purpose of paying annuities. Deputies can rest assured that we do not act unsympathetically.

Mr. Allen: Will the Parliamentary Secretary deal with the question of arrears of land annuities?

Mr. Roddy: What information does the Deputy want?

Mr. Allen: Are those to continue to be due until they are paid off? Can they be wiped out by the Land Commission?

Mr. Roddy: They cannot be wiped out.

Mr. Allen: Although they have already been paid by the taxpayers?

[1676] Mr. Roddy: What difference does that make? If the annuities are not paid by the tenants then they must be paid by the ratepayers.

Mr. Allen: I mean where the arrears have been paid by the ratepayers.

Mr. Roddy: It depends entirely on the circumstances, but the Land Commission will not sell unless they can get an offer amounting to the full amount of the arrears due.

Mr. Derrig: Is the policy to continue, then, of having large areas derelict? They are to produce nothing for the country, and yet the rates and the annuities have to be paid. Surely the Parliamentary Secretary does not think that that is reasonable.

Mr. Roddy: The Deputy is exaggerating considerably. There are no large areas derelict. There are farms here and there, but somebody has a title to these lands, and the Land Commission cannot interfere so long as the annuities are paid up. The Land Commission cannot break title.

Mr. Derrig: The Land Commission ought to step in. Is it the position that such a state of affairs is going to be allowed to exist for a number of years without any steps being taken to remedy it?

Mr. Roddy: I think it is a matter for the county councils to take the initial steps. They are paying the rates on these lands and probably, in some cases, the annuities also.

Mr. Allen: What steps does the Parliamentary Secretary suggest the county councils can take? It rests with the Land Commission. The county councils cannot take any steps.

Mr. Roddy: The Land Commission cannot take steps so long as the annuities are paid.

Mr. Allen: I know a case where ten years' annuities are due. That holding, if put on the open market, would not be value for the ten years due. In that case must the county council continue to pay both the rates and the annuities each year? Will the Land Commission [1677] hold up the sale of that farm because they cannot get the full amount that is owed in annuities? There is another case where the annuities are owed for forty years.

Mr. Roddy: I assume that the Land Commission put these holdings up for sale, and that there were no purchasers for them.

Mr. Allen: That is quite right, but because the Land Commission could not get a price equal to the outstanding annuities they refused to sell and the lands continue to be derelict.

Mr. Roddy: There are cases where the Land Commission are managing some of these lands and where they are deriving a very substantial income from them. When the arrears are wiped out they will restore the owner to possession.

Mr. Allen: The Land Commission derive no income. I know one holding that for ten years has not an animal on it.

Minister for Agriculture (Mr. Hogan): Why did not someone buy it five years ago?

Mr. Goulding: There is another case that the Parliamentary Secretary has not dealt with. It is a case where land has become absolutely useless as a result of the breaking of an embankment by which the land is flooded. There is, approximately, about a thousand pounds due, and as far as anyone can see that land will be no use. It is going to remain a perpetual charge on the county council.

Mr. Roddy: What county council is this?

Mr. Goulding: I refer to Tramore racecourse.

Mr. Corry: I would like to get a reply to one point. That is about sending out the provisional lists to the tenants.

Mr. Roddy: The lists will be supplied to every tenant. As the Deputy probably knows, the tenants will have the same right to object as they had when the provisional list was sent out.

[1678] Mr. Corry: I was at the Land Commission Department yesterday in connection with some holding that appeared in the Official Gazette. The tenants have not got the provisional lists yet. The point is that these tenants are waiting for the provisional lists in order to object to the landlords' return of the rent. They are paying a wrong rent for the last ten years, and it is time that it was put right.

Mr. Roddy: They will get the lists.

Mr. Derrig: What time have the tenants got in which to object?

Mr. Roddy: Two months, I think. The same time as they had under the Act of 1923.

Mr. Jordan: I would like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary if I am to take his general statement as a reply to the specific case I mentioned. He stated that he heard so much about bog roads on this Vote that he was inclined to take most of them as frivolous representations. Do I take it that that is his answer to the case I mentioned?

Mr. Roddy: I do not think the Deputy could reasonably expect me to deal with every bog road mentioned in this debate.

Mr. Jordan: I specifically stated a particular case and nothing else. I flatter myself that I was not a source of annoyance to the Parliamentary Secretary. The case that I mentioned went to the Land Commission, through the Local Government Department, with a strong recommendation from that Department. Do I take it that this is a frivolous case and that the 62 families affected in the townland that I referred to are making a frivolous representation?

Mr. Roddy: I cannot answer that question. I had not an opportunity of looking into the facts of the case.

Mr. Jordan: Will you do so if I put down a question?

Mr. Roddy: Put down a question and I will give you the information.

Mr. Jordan: I mentioned the case of a Congested Districts Board tenant [1679] who was not facilitated in the way of a road being made. I gave his receivable order number. If I put down a question will the Parliamentary Secretary deal with it?

Mr. Roddy: Certainly, that is the proper thing to do.

Mr. Jordan: I am very glad to hear that it is the proper thing to do, because I have already put down three questions about a particular farm, and in each case I got the same reply.

[1680] Mr. Allen: In the case of nonjudicial holdings can any reduction be made after the holding is vested?

Mr. Roddy: Is the Deputy referring to the new Land Bill?

Mr. Allen: Yes.

Mr. Roddy: The tenant, of course, has the right to object if he considers that the annuity is not equitable or just.

Amendment put.

The Committee divided: Tá, 49; Níl, 70.

Aiken, Frank.

Allen, Denis.

Anthony, Richard.

Blaney, Neal.

Boland, Gerald.

Boland, Patrick.

Bourke, Daniel.

Brady, Seán.

Briscoe, Robert.

Buckley, Daniel.

Carney, Frank.

Carty, Frank.

Cassidy, Archie J.

Clery, Michael.

Colbert, James.

Corkery, Dan.

Corry, Martin John.

Crowley, Fred. Hugh.

Crowley, Tadhg.

Derrig, Thomas.

De Valera, Eamon.

Everett, James.

Fahy, Frank.

Flinn, Hugo.

Fogarty, Andrew.

Gorry, Patrick J.

Goulding, John.

Hayes, Seán.

Hogan, Patrick (Clare).

Houlihan, Patrick.

Jordan, Stephen.

Killilea, Mark.

Kilroy, Michael.

Lemass, Seán F.

Little, Patrick John.

Maguire, Ben.

McEllistrim, Thomas.

MacEntee, Seán.

Moore, Séamus.

Mullins, Thomas.

Murphy, Timothy Joseph.

O'Connell, Thomas J.

O'Kelly, Seán T.

O'Reilly, Matthew.

Ryan, James.

Sheehy, Timothy (Tipp.).

Tubridy, John.

Walsh, Richard.

Ward, Francis C.


Aird, William P.

Alton, Ernest Henry.

Beckett, James Walter.

Bennett, George Cecil.

Blythe, Ernest.

Bourke, Séamus A.

Brennan, Michael.

Brodrick, Seán.

Byrne, John Joseph.

Carey, Edmund.

Coburn, James.

Collins-O'Driscoll, Mrs. Margt.

Conlon, Martin.

Connolly, Michael P.

Cosgrave, William T.

Craig, Sir James.

Crowley, James.

Daly, John.

Davis, Michael.

Doherty, Eugene.

Dolan, James N.

Doyle, Peadar Seán.

Duggan, Edmund John.

Dwyer, James.

[1681]Mulcahy, Richard.

Murphy, James E.

Myles, James Sproule.

Nally, Martin Michael.

O'Connell, Richard.

O'Connor, Bartholomew.

O'Higgins, Thomas.

O'Leary, Daniel.

O'Mahony, The.

O'Reilly, John J.

O'Sullivan, Gearóid.

Egan, Barry M.

Esmonde, Osmond Thos. Grattan.

Fitzgerald, Desmond.

Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.

Good, John.

Gorey, Denis J.

Haslett, Alexander.

Hassett, John J.

Heffernan, Michael R.

Hennessy, Michael Joseph.

Hennessy, Thomas.

Hennigan, John.

Henry, Mark.

Hogan, Patrick (Galway).

Holohan, Richard.

Kelly, Patrick Michael.

Keogh, Myles.

Law, Hugh Alexander.

Leonard, Patrick.

Lynch, Finian.

Mathews, Arthur Patrick.

McDonogh, Martin.

McFadden, Michael Og.

Mongan, Joseph W.

[1682]O'Sullivan, John Marcus.

Reynolds, Patrick.

Rice, Vincent.

Roddy, Martin.

Shaw, Patrick W.

Sheehy, Timothy (West Cork).

Thrift, William Edward.

Tierney, Michael.

White, Vincent Joseph.

Wolfe, George.

Wolfe, Jasper Travers.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies G. Boland and Allen; Níl, Deputies Duggan and P.S. Doyle.

Question declared lost.

Main Question put and agreed to.