Location: Unknown. Private meeting.
The SUBSTITUTE DIRECTOR OF AGRICULTURE, in the course of an oral Report, stated that as regards land disputes he had nothing in particular to say. He submitted for the third time proposals for the establishment of a National Land Commission. These proposals had gone through Committee, and he hoped that they would be accepted. The proposals had been made as elastic as possible, the idea being to create a good framework, leaving such details as were found necessary to be filled in from time to time. The general policy regarding ranches, etc., had been laid down in previous legislation. It would be a mistake to attempt at the moment anything in the shape of a revolutionary policy regarding land. He had circulated a memo, dealing in detail with Committees of Agriculture and as to how they might function. When it was remembered that the export trade fostered by those Committees reached a gross total of £64,000,000 last year it would be seen that these Committees could play a very important part in the industrial life of the country. While recommending the clean cut with the British Department of Agriculture, he was against allowing the Committees of Agriculture to lapse.
Since the last session he had got into communication with one of the best forestry experts available in the country. If appointed, his salary and expenses would not exceed £800 or £1,000. Such a man could save a large amount of money to the country by preventing the cutting of woods prematurely and by instructing the Committees of Agriculture in the matters of afforestation and the establishment of nurseries. He had succeeded in making his Department self-supporting up to the present, but with the establishment of the Land Commission the expenses would naturally be much greater.
The SECRETARY FOR FINANCE stated that provision had already been made in the estimates for the appointment of an Inspector of Forestry. He was strongly of opinion that such an appointment should be made.
J. MACGUINNESS (Longford) moved, and F. FAHY (Galway South) seconded, that the Report be adopted.
The SUBSTITUTE DIRECTOR OF AGRICULTURE, in reply to a query, stated that he was convinced that the clean cut with the English Department of Agriculture would be made whether they wished it or not. He knew that the English Department was very anxious to carry on, but the position of the Committees would be intolerable, inasmuch as they would have to submit to the Department's audit. He failed to see what difference there was between an audit by the English Department of Agriculture and one by the English Local Government Board.
D. KENT (Cork East) feared that there were land troubles ahead owing to the threatening attitude of Labour. In some instances Labour had threatened to till farms which the occupiers proposed leaving go into grass next year. He suggested that a Bill be drafted making tillage compulsory on all farms over thirty acres in extent. If next year the English Navy blockaded the Irish coasts they should be able to fall back on their own resources.
The DIRECTOR OF AGRICULTURE, in reply, stated that he would refer the points raised to the Economic Council. The farmers objected to compulsory tillage legislation, as they averred that Labour swallowed up all the profits.
The adoption of the Report was then put and carried.