§ 15. Mr. LYNCH
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether a farm of about 700 acres in the parish of Kilmabeg, county Clare, now used for grazing purposes, have been recently acquired by the Estates Commissioners from Mrs. Pilkington, of Glenard, Clare Castle, county Clare; and, if so, whether, in view of the importance of the food production scheme, it will be divided amongst the tenants so as to be made available for cultivation?
§ The CHIEF SECRETARY for IRELAND (Mr. Duke)
If the hon. Member refers to the lands of Boolynaknockaun held by Thomas H. Pilkington on the Westby Estate, they have not been acquired by the Estates Commissioners. The lands comprise a mountain which is held by Mr. Pilkington as yearly tenant subject to a rent of £14 19s., and in connection with the sale by the owner of the holdings on this estate to the occupying tenants he has signed an agreement to purchase it under the Land Purchase Acts.
§ 16. Mr. SCANLAN
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether he is aware that the Sligo Rural District Council have asked the Department of Agriculture for permission to send in a supplemental requisition for seed potatoes and manures for occupiers of small holdings in the district who through inadvertence had failed to send in their applications at the time appointed by the Department; whether he is aware of the fact that the Department, on being appealed to, have refused this 1247 request, and that the failure of the Department to meet the difficulty in which the district council finds itself will result in the diminution of food production in this district; and, whether, as a means of escaping from this difficulty, he will consider whether the Government Departments concerned can give to the rural district council power to make purchases locally of the seeds required and advance the purchase money on the security of the occupiers' interest in their holdings?
§ Mr. DUKE
The Department of Agriculture have found it necessary to refuse to accept supplementary requisitions from a number of councils, including the Sligo Rural District Council. The supplies have already been ordered for immediate delivery, and the Department regret that they cannot at this late date see their way to sanction the purchase of supplies locally under the terms of the loan scheme. It is not believed that any shortage of seed exists in the Sligo rural district, or that failure to accept a supplementary requisition from this Council will result in any diminution of food production.
§ Mr. CULLINAN
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many of the applications made were due to the difficulties placed in the way of these landless people not being able to acquire land; and would it not be a great injustice that because those difficulties were placed in the way they are now to be deprived of any assistance with regard to increased food production?
§ Mr. CULLINAN
In cases where it can be shown that these people have not been able to make application for seeds and manures owing to the difficulties placed in the way of getting land, will land be procured for them if they got the seeds themselves?
§ Mr. FLAVIN
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in many populous districts 1248 in Ireland the amount of food could be increased 25 per cent. compared with last year if he gave the local authorities powers to acquire land?
§ Mr. DUKE
I agree that there is a possibility, and I think a probability, of a very large increase in the output of food. Every step which has been recommended to me has been very carefully considered by those whose advice I am bound to take, and no effort has been spared to make the increase as great as possible.
§ Mr. FLAVIN
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in my Parliamentary division eight men have been arrested because they are tilling the land to grow food?
§ Mr. FLAVIN
What is the meaning of the appeal of the Prime Minister and the First Lord of the Admiralty to produce more food?
21. Mr. HAZLETON
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland what action it is proposed to take under the food-production scheme in Ireland with reference to Colonel Jennings Ironpool estate, parish of Kilconly, county Galway, in view of the fact that the agent, Mr. Meldon, referred the tenants to Mr. Heverin, a grazier, who has secured a lease of his eleven-months' holdings and who has only offered them a worthless field for tillage at a price which they could not accept?
28. Mr. HAZLETON
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether the Criminal Law and Procedure (Ireland) Act has been invoked against thirty persons in the parish of Milltown, county Galway, for having undertaken tillage operations on the Kilgeverin grass lands on the refusal of Mr. J. D. Blake to himself comply with the Tillage Order; whether the Government will intervene to stop these proceedings; whether they propose to take any steps under the Defence of the Realm Act against Mr. Blake for his violation of the law; whether he will be prosecuted; and 1249 whether the land that he has refused to till will be taken over by the Department of Agriculture forthwith?
§ Mr. DUKE
The persons referred to entered on the lands of Mr. J. D. Blake, of Kilgeverin, and, although warned by him and the police, began ploughing it up. Twenty-five of them were arrested and brought before the resident magistrate, who ordered them to find sureties to keep the peace. Sixteen refused to find sureties, and they were committed to gaol. No proceedings were taken under the Criminal Law and Procedure Act. In the event of the owner failing to comply with the Tillage Regulations the necessary steps will be taken by the Department of Agriculture.
Is it not a fact that this owner has already refused to comply with the Tillage Regulations, and why has he not been proceeded against?
§ Mr. LUNDON
Is it not a fact that on several occasions the right hon. Gentleman from that bench gave us a guarantee that after February 28th the Department would be entitled to enter on the lands of anybody who refused to comply with the Tillage Order?
§ 30. Mr. CULLINAN
asked whether farmers in Ireland who, under penal clauses in their leases are liable to severe penalties if they till their holdings, will now be indemnified if, in response to the demand for increased food production, they respond to the demand made by the Government and the country to till such portions of their lands as laid down by the Department of Agriculture?
§ Mr. DUKE
Bated occupiers of holdings in Ireland occupying 10 or more statute acres of arable land are bound to comply with the tillage Regulations, which have effect notwithstanding any covenant, agreement, condition, or provision as to the user of a holding, whether contained in any lease or other instrument affecting the holding, or in any verbal contract of tenancy, or implied by law, and no such covenant, agreement, condition, or provision shall operate so as to penalise, impede, or interfere with such cultivation.
§ 33. Mr. HUGH LAW
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether any steps have been taken by the Irish Government, other than those relating to the enforcement of the 10 per cent. minimum of tillage, to render grass lands in Ireland available for increased food production; and whether he has considered the advisability, pending the definitive purchase of such lands, of enabling the Congested Districts Board or Estates Commissioners to enter into possession of them for the period of the War, subject to reasonable compensation to owners and others interested therein?
§ Mr. DUKE
The Department of Agriculture are not aware of any other steps of the nature referred to having been taken. The Department have decided to exercise their powers of entry on certain lands the owners of which do not in their opinion intend to fulfil the requirements of the Tillage Regulations. Tillage for the coming season would probably not be advanced by the process suggested in the last part of the question.
Can the right hon. Gentleman tell me whether the Department of Agriculture in any single case have entered upon the land when the owner has refused to carry out the tillage order; and whether, in fact, they are allowing these powers to become a delusion and a humbug?
§ Mr. BUTCHER
Is it not the fact that in many parts of Ireland the ploughing of the land has not been possible owing to the severe weather?
§ Mr. DUKE
There are certain cases fairly well known where the owners declare that they will not do anything in regard to tillage, and in those cases the Department of Agriculture has made the necessary provision for dealing with the defaulters. I cannot name a case at this moment, but there are hundreds, and I know they will be dealt with on that footing.
§ Mr. FLAVIN
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Department have not more than one or two representatives in each county, and, as a solution of the whole question, why not give the local authorities compulsory power to deal with this matter?
§ 40. Mr. CLANCY
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether, if he is unwilling to issue a Regulation under the Defence of the Realm Acts for the compulsory acquisition of land in rural districts in Ireland for the purpose of providing land for cow pasturage and for tillage, he will consider the advisability of addressing an official appeal to those large landowners in Ireland who, on various pretexts, have so far failed voluntarily to respond to the general demand for land for the purposes mentioned, urging on them the necessity of complying with that demand without further delay?
§ Mr. CLANCY
The right hon. Gentleman has not answered the point of the question—whether he is unwilling to address a letter to certain persons in various parts of Ireland, urging that they ought not to require to be compelled to act in this matter?
§ Mr. KEATING
Will the right hon. Gentleman ask that the same powers shall be given to the President of the Board of Agriculture in Ireland as in England in such matters?
43. Mr. HAZLETON
asked the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland) if he is aware of the discontent in the parish of Williamstown, county Galway, by reason of the fact that Mr. R. H. Johnston, Bawnboy House, Bawnboy, county Cavan, who holds land in that parish as well as in Cavan, and near Ballinasloe, has not tilled any of his land in Williamstown, and has refused to set any of it for tillage; can he say if Mr. Johnston has tilled the required percentage of land elsewhere; has he applied for exemption and has this been refused; and what action he proposes to take?
44. Mr. HAZLETON
asked the Vice- President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland) if any of the following land holders in North Galway have applied for exemption from the Tillage Order and what exemptions, if any, have been granted; whether be will take steps to see that the Order is enforced in any of the following cases where it is not being complied with: C. D. O' Rourke, Birmingham, Tuam, 255 acres; ditto, Killelaun, Tuam, 150 acres; ditto, Carrownocowan, Tuam, 75 acres; Mrs. M. Lydon, Barnacurrogh, Tuam, 281 acres; John F. Begley, Dcerpark, Tuam, 181 acres; Dick estate lands, held by graziers. representatives of W. Huim, Ballymote, Tuam, 42 acres; M. Griffith, Demesne, Tuam, 46 acres; T. Fahy, Carrownagarraun, Tuam, 51 acres; P. Kilgarriff, Tuam, 350 acres; Mrs. Strachan, Townparks, Tuam, 317 acres; ditto, Gurrowes, Tuam, 123 acres; John Daly, Bracklagh, 301 acres; Cecil R. Henry, Toher, Tuam, 500 acres; E. P. O'Flanagan, Ballygaddy Road, 54 acres; 1253 Peter O'Flanagan, Lisnadyra, Kilcloghan, 500 acres; S. M'Donogh, Carrowpeter, 42 acres; John Rishworth, Drum, 129 acres; and Mrs. Flattery, Ardocong, 207 acres?
Can the right hon. Gentleman say which of the persons has applied and been refused, and will steps be taken against the others?
§ 50. Mr. GINNELL
asked the Prime Minister, in view of the importance to this country of increased food production in Ireland, and of the promise to repatriate certain Belgians said to have been driven from their lands, if he will say on what Irish advice, except that of officials, the Government refuse to repatriate Irish people on the grazing tracts from which their predecessors were evicted, though willing to pay the full value of the land ascertained by official inspection and to produce food on it; and whether, in the interest of food production and of consistency, the conacre system will be abandoned and that of repatriation on terms of ownership put in operation forthwith?
§ Mr. DUKE
The Estates Commissioners and the Congested Districts Board have acquired, and are acquiring, large areas of land for the purposes of the various remedial Statutes relating to the tenure of land in Ireland, and there has been no refusal to apply to the fullest possible extent the powers of these Departments. The temporary resort to conacre by the Departments has been due to the necessities of the situation with regard to food supply.
§ Mr. GINNELL
Has the right hon. Gentleman nothing to say of the desired repatriation of the Irish and the similar project with reference to Belgians who, in fact, have not been expelled at all?
61. Mr. HAZLETON
asked the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland) if he will arrange to have an inspector sent to Tuam as soon as pos- 1254 sible to investigate the complaints in the district as to the number of graziers and other landholders who are not complying with the Tillage Order?
62. Mr. HAZLETON
asked the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland) whether any of the owners on the following estates in the parish of Kilconly, county Galway, have applied for exemption from the tillage scheme; if so, how have they been dealt with, namely, the J. D. Blake, Brooklawn and Kilgeverin, estate; the T. F. Lewin, Castlegrove, estate; and the representatives of F. H. Lewin, Kilshanvy, estate; and whether he will see that no exemptions are allowed in any of these cases?