HC Deb 22 February 1917 vol 90 cc1439-40
22. Mr. LYNCH

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether his attention has been called to a resolution sent to the Department of Agriculture by the food production committee of Kilfenora, West Clare, pointing out that the outlook of the agricultural class in the neighbourhood is such as to cause the gravest apprehensions, that except for the grazing lands held by a few graziers the land available for tillage is inadequate and unsatisfactory, and requesting that the grazing lands should be thrown open to tillage; and, seeing that this resolution substantially represents the state of affairs in all parts of West Clare, whether it is the intention of the Government to utilise for food production to the utmost degree of efficiency the estates now held by graziers?


The Department of Agriculture have received the resolution referred to, but they have no power to intervene unless occupiers of land fail to comply with the requirements of the Regulations under the Defence of the Realm Acts.


Although they have no power of intervention, is it not a fact that if they gave advice that the proper amount of land should be thrown open, that advice would certainly be followed?


I am not so sure about that. I find there are a great many people in Ireland who do not take reasonable advice.

23. Mr. O'MALLEY

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether the twenty-eight tenants on the estate of Mr. R. O. Lynch, an inspector of the Local Government Board for Ireland, at Cappanagopple, Clonbur, Connemara, will be given an opportunity of cultivating, under the conacre system, the grass farm in possession of the landlord, and which is the only land on his estate that is capable of economic cultivation; whether he is aware that this landlord has consented to give only 10 acres of this farm to the tenants, and at the price of £5 per acre; and whether compulsory powers will at once be exercised to compel this gentleman to give a larger portion of the farm to his tenants, who are compelled to eke out an existence on this, from 3 to 5 acres of miserable patches of bog land, and at a price that will take into consideration the character of their present poor holdings?


The Department of Agriculture have no power to deal with any holding unless the occupier fails to comply with the Regulations under the Defence of the Realm Acts. There are no reasons to suppose that the occupier of the lands referred to does not intend to fulfil his obligations under the Regulations.


Will the right hon. Gentleman ask how many gentlemen on the Local Government Board are of the same class of landlords, and why it is that so many public boards in Ireland have no confidence in a board administered by this class?


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Mr. Crosbie is setting up a large portion of his grazing lands tomorrow for grazing lettings, in order to avoid the obligation of offering the land for tillage?


I do not know whether proceedings of that kind would be successful. If the case arises it will be considered.


As President of the Local Government Board, will the right hon. Gentleman answer my question?