HC Deb 22 March 1917 vol 91 cc2026-8
7. Mr. DORIS

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland why the Congested Districts Board have not enlarged the uneconomic holdings of the following tenants of the Towerhill estate, county Mayo, which was acquired by the Board six years ago, Patrick Reilly, Pat Feeny, Pat Malley, Margaret Halligan, John Connell, and Darby Halligan, all of Rinaneel, Ballyglass, county Mayo; and, as the Board is in possession of sufficient untenanted lands in the district, will the Board proceed without further delay with the necessary enlargements so as to enable these poor people to increase their tillage in this year?


I am informed that the Congested Districts Board have no untenanted land in the district referred to out of which the tenants mentioned in the question could be provided with additional land for the enlargement of their present holdings.


asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland what steps the Department of Agriculture intend taking to enforce the increased tillage scheme on the large landholders in the Rathdowney, Donaghmore, and Aghavoe electoral divisions who have failed to comply with the Order; whether he is aware that a number of small farmers and labourers requiring allotments for tillage in these divisions have been unable to obtain such land; when the Department of Agriculture intend to carry out the powers vested in them under the tillage scheme against landholders who fail to comply with the orders issued; and, if so, upon what date the Department propose to enter on such lands?


Warning notices have been served by the Department of Agriculture on a number of landholders in the districts referred to, and the Department have received from the hon. Member a list of persons desirous of obtaining allotments in these districts. There will be no delay in taking any action which may be found to be necessary.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that large numbers of people have been unable to get land in this district?


Most of the population of Ireland, so far as my experience has gone, want land which they cannot get.


You will not allow them to get it!


(by Private Notice) asked the Chief Secretary whether his attention has been called to the serious condition of the tillage question in the Listowel Rural District Council owing to their inability to procure supplies from the Department of Agriculture in Ireland or from the merchants supplying the Department with artificial manure and seed potatoes, and whether he will take immediate action to secure the necessary seeds and manure for the land?


I have not had sufficient notice to obtain information from the Department of Agriculture, but I am communicating with the Department.


asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether he is aware that his predecessor in office stated on the 24th June, 1915, that the question of making lands then used for grazing more productive would necessarily come before the Irish Food Committee then sitting; that the Committee afterwards rejected evidence offered relating to evicted grass. lands and the districts in which they are situated, and issued a Report without a word about the redistribution of those lands; and, in view of the increasing danger of food shortage, how long this greatest of available sources of food is to be spared in the interests of a class and of the Government which enabled that class to exterminate the people and replace them with cattle?


I am aware of the statement made by my predecessor, but I cannot find in the minutes of the Committee on Food Production in Ireland any rejection of evidence such as the hon. Member refers to. Much evidence was heard on the subject of the increase of tillage, and the Report of the Committee deals with this on pages 4 and 5. The hon. Member is no doubt aware that under recent Regulations a large area of land which had long been under grass, including the lands to which he refers, is being brought under tillage.


From whom did the right hon. Gentleman seek information; and is it not also the fact that this Committee refused to hear the Rev. Robert Barry, P.P. of Oldcastle, county Meath, who wanted to give evidence on this subject?


I told the hon. Gentleman I did inquire about the matter. The minutes have been searched, and no record has been found of such a matter. If, however, the hon. Gentleman will put down another question, I will again inquire into it.