§ 9. Mr. P. MEEHAN
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland if public and representative bodies all over Ireland have passed resolutions calling on the Government to grant compulsory powers for the acquirement of land for tillage purposes, to fix a minimum price for grain for at least three years, and to reduce the standard bushel weight of Irish oats to 36 lbs. per bushel; and whether he intends taking any action in the matter?
§ Mr. DUKE
The Department of Agriculture have received a number of resolutions of the nature mentioned, and large compulsory powers are contained in the Order relating to compulsory tillage. No larger measures of compulsion have been decided on. As to prices, I must refer my hon. Friend to the Food Controller, and to an answer I gave on the 12th instant to the hon. Member for East Limerick.
§ 16. Mr. HAYDEN
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether he has received a, memorial from the occupiers of small holdings adjoining the untenanted lands, now in possession of the Congested Districts Board, on the Caulfield - French estate, situate in the parish of Ballinaheg-lish, county Roscommon, asking that these lands should be made available for grazing and meadow for their use pending its distribution amongst them, so that they could increase the tillage on their own small holdings; and, if so, whether the Congested Districts Board will favourably consider this proposal?
§ Mr. DUKE
The Congested Districts Board have received a memorial such as is mentioned in the question. The untenanted lands referred to have been temporarily let for grazing and meadow to the small landholders in the neighbourhood. In view of the present need of increased tillage, a portion has now been set apart to meet applications which may be made from the neighbourhood. The Board cannot permanently dispose of the lands on the Caulfield-French estate as enlargements of holdings of neighbouring tenants unless and until they acquire the holdings of these tenants, which they are not at present able to do.
§ 17. Mr. O'SHAUGHNESSY
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether, having regard to the fact that the untenanted lands on the Westropp estate at Mellon, Ballydoole, Kildino, county Limerick, are in the Court of Chancery, and that there are hundreds of smallholders and labourers in the locality seeking to get allotments, of these lands for cultivation under the food scheme of the Government, he will take steps to provide for an allotment scheme being formulated in accordance with the Government regulation?
§ 18. Mr. O'SHAUGHNESSY
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland what facilities have been offered to the numerous small holders and labourers in Ballylin and Glenville, Ardagh, county Limerick, for part of the untenanted lands on the Massey estate there for tillage under the food scheme of the Government; and whether, as the landlord of these lands has been in Australia for years and knows nothing about the working of the estate, he will take steps to see that a scheme is formulated under which the small-holders and labourers in the locality get allotments of this land?
§ 19 Mr. LUNDON
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland (1), whether Arthur White, land agent, Limerick, has applied for exemption from the tillage scheme on behalf of the owners of the Smith grazing ranch at Ballynanty, Bruff, county Limerick; if so, will care be taken that such a claim is not acceded to, as all the lands are admirably suited to tillage purposes and will be so used if the owner is willing to let the land by conacre; (2) whether application for exemption from the tillage Order has been received from those who lease the lands of Mr. Courtney Croker, at Ballinagarde, Ballynecky, Limerick, on the grounds that it is something in the nature of a stud farm; what number of acres is in the Courtney Croker ranch; whether it is suitable in every respect for tillage purposes; will he see that by no side issues can these lands be exempt from the Government scheme; (3) how many hundred acres of land is in the possession of Colonel O'Grady, at Kilballyowen, Bruff, county Limerick; is all the lands in his possession adapted in every way for tillage purposes; has he applied for exemption in any shape; if so, will care be taken that it is not granted to him, as the labourers and landless people in the town of Bruff have offered to take portions of the lands by conacre, but, so far, have been refused; (4) whether Abel Buckley, of Gallie Castle, Mitchelstown, county Cork, has refused to let any of his land by conacre to the landless people in and around Kilbeheny; will steps to taken to compel this gentleman to till the full percentage imposed by the Government or otherwise let the lands to those who are 775 willing to till it; has he applied for exemption; if so, upon what grounds; (5) whether Nigel Baring, of, Rockbarton, Bruff, county Limerick, who is now in occupation of some hundreds of acres of grazing lands, formerly the property of Lord Fermoy, has stated in a letter that his lands are only fit for fattening purposes, and that he will till but one field; is he aware that this gentleman would not let a single perch of his estate by conacre; and, in view of the fact that he holds, without any doubt, some of the best tillage land in Ireland, will ample steps be taken to compel him to till the full percentage of his ranch or otherwise have it let by conacre to the landless people in his locality; and (6) whether the representatives of the late Miss Weldon, rear Kilmallock, have applied for exemption from the tillage scheme; if so, on what grounds; if these lands are let by conacre to the landless people in and around Kilmallock town the necessary 10 per cent, can be easily dealt with; will the Department ask the owners of such large estates to let their lands by conacre to poor people; and, in case they refuse, will adequate steps be taken to enforce the full maximum fixed by the Government?
§ Mr. DUKE
I think it is not in the public interest that I should discuss, in answer to questions, the attitude of individuals towards the tillage Order while such persons are not in default. I am told that none of the occupiers named have applied for exemption. I am bound to assume at present that they will not be in default.
§ Mr. LUNDON
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Gentleman referred to in Question No. 19, Arthur White, read his application for exemption to a deputation which waited upon the Limerick County Council and boasted that he would get exemption.
§ 20. Mr. LUNDON
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether he will, if supplied with a list of those holding grazing tracts in county Limerick, and many of whom have openly boasted that they will pay the fine rather than comply with the Government Order as to tillage, cause an inspector to visit these lands at once, so that by 21st February it will be possible for those in authority to enter into these lands and cultivate them, or otherwise let 776 them by conacre to the small farmers, labourers, and landless people in the localities where the lands are situated?
§ 22. Mr. LUNDON
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland how many inspectors have recently been appointed in connection with the food production scheme; will their names, addresses, and qualifications be published; for what term have they been appointed; and the amount of their salaries and emoluments?
§ Mr. DUKE
Twenty-two temporary inspectors have been appointed in connection with the food production scheme. It is not proposed to publish their names, etc. The appointments are purely temporary and will terminate as soon as the special duties for which these officers are required are completed. The rate of remuneration is two guineas for each day actually spent upon inspection work.
§ Mr. LUNDON
Could the right hon. Gentleman say what objection there is to the publication of these names?
§ Mr. DUKE
I am satisfied that they have. I inquired about them many weeks ago. Many of them are inspectors very well known in connection with other Departments, the Estates Commissioners, the Department of Agriculture, and so on, and I have every reason to believe that every care has been taken in their selection.
§ 29. Mr. O'SHAUGHNESSY
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether small holders whose holdings are over £10 valuation will get any assistance from the Department of Agriculture to obtain 777 seeds and fertilisers for the purpose of increasing the area of their land under tillage?
§ Mr. DUKE
The occupiers referred to axe not entitled under the food production scheme to loans for the purchase of seeds and manure. Such occupiers, however, are being assisted in procuring seed potatoes and oats by their respective county organisations, and the staffs of the county committees of agriculture have been strengthened in order to ensure that the requirements of all such applicants may be satisfactorily dealt with.
§ Mr. O'SHAUGHNESSY
Do I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that these small holdings under £10 valuation will get seeds from the county committee of agriculture?
§ 30. Mr. O'SHAUGHNESSY
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether, under the food scheme of the Government, district councils when they acquire land for allotments can give portion of it to small holders and labourers who do not hold cottages and plots from them as tenants; or whether they are confined to giving the land in allotments to the labourers who are their tenants of union cottages and plots?
§ 31. Mr. O'SHAUGHNESSY
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland why the Estates Commissioners have not yet finally completed the purchase of William D. Curtain's farm at Caherlevoy, Mountcollins, county Limerick, for the purpose of enlarging the uneconomic holdings on the Mahoney congested estate which adjoins it at Mountcollins, although they promised the tenants to put them in possession of it in time for the spring work; 778 whether proceedings for the sale of this small estate and farm have been going on since the year 1908; and, having regard to this fact and to the necessity that exists for increasing the amount of land under tillage, will he take steps to see that the sale of this grass farm is completed without further delay, so that the tenants may be able to till it this year?
§ Mr. DUKE
The rearrangement and allotment of these lands could not be completed in time for tillage this year, but will be put into operation as soon as possible without interfering with the tillage operations of tenants for the present season. The Commissioners will raise no objection to an arrangement being made by the tenants with Mr. Curtain to cultivate in conacre during the coming season the lands or part of the lands to which the hon. Member refers.
§ Mr. O'SHAUGHNESSY
Having regard to the fact that the negotiations with the owners for the sale of this farm of 50 acres has been going on for the last eight years, how it is that it cannot be taken over this year and the uneconomic holders given their proportionate quantity in order that they may cultivate it?
§ Mr. O'SHAUGHNESSY
Does the right hon. Gentleman forget his promise to me last October that this land would be divided this spring in time for tillage work?
§ Mr. LYNCH
asked the Chief Secretary whether, in view of the gravity of the food problem in Ireland, he can state that all the available grass lands in West Clare will be striped out to tenants according to the provisions of the Land Act of 1909, and that these tenants will have complete guarantees as to the permanency of their occupation of these lands?
§ Mr. DUKE
Nearly all the untenanted land which the Congested Districts Board agreed to purchase in West Clare has been disposed of to tenants either under purchase agreements or by permanent let-tings prior to the execution of purchase agreements. 'The untenanted lands remaining in the Board's hands will be disposed of as rapidly as their available resources permit, and so much of it as is arable land suitable for tillage has been made available for conacre lettings. Estates in county Clare pending for sale to the Estates Commissioners are being dealt with as rapidly as possible.
§ 38. Mr. PATRICK WHITE
asked the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland) whether any applications for exemption from 10 per cent. tillage have been received from county Meath; if so, how many; and whether, in 780 selecting land for oats this season, care will be taken to select a soil suitable for the growing of winter wheat next autumn?
§ Mr. DUKE
The Department of Agriculture have received applications for exemptions from extra tillage in respect of land in county Meath, as from other counties. The selection of the particular portion of a holding to be cultivated, and of the crops to be sown is, under the regulations, left to the discretion of the occupier, unless he is in default. In that event the Department will have the same discretion, and will endeavour to exercise it for the public advantage. I cannot forecast the decision of the Department on a technical question.
§ Mr. JOHN O'CONNOR
(by Private notice) asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether, in view of the Order in Council, dated 5th December, 1916, and the Regulation there under made in regard to Ireland in respect of the tillage of land by the occupiers thereof, he can state what steps the Irish Government propose to take in order to enter upon the lands of such occupiers as have not by 28th February, 1917, complied with the Regulation imposing 10 per cent, of tillage of all arable land and pasture?
§ Mr. DUKE
By a Defence of the Realm Regulation, made on the 6th instant, the Department of Agriculture (Ireland) are empowered, on any case where, after 28th instant they are satisfied the occupier of a holding does not intend to fulfil the requirements of the Tillage Regulation, to enter on the holding and cultivate it, or to arrange for its cultivation by any person in such manner and upon such terms and conditions as the Department may direct. In cases where occupiers, through obstinacy or selfishness, make default in compliance with the Regulation, it will be the duty of the Department to exercise this power in such a way as will in their judgment best serve to increase the food supply in the coming season.