I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland) whether two different schemes were in operation under the Department for the supply of fruit trees and plants to different parties in Ireland; whether he can give the official title of the different schemes, and state if under one of them free plants have been distributed to titled and wealthy persons by the Department.
In addition to the horticultural work carried on by the county Commissioners there are two fruit schemes in operation. Under the first eight centres have been selected consisting of about twenty acres each, which have been planted to test the corn menial possibilities of growing fruit for marketing on strictly commercial lines and as a farm crop. The trees were provided by the Department free of cost. At each centre about twenty farmers were selected to conduct the experiments on the understanding that they would each furnish an acre of suitable land for the purpose and would do everything necessary for the proper cultivation of the fruit and the success of the experiment. At each centre they are assisted by a resident horticultural expert who is provided and paid by the Department. Under this scheme 175 acres have been planted. Under the second scheme—fruit growing for profit by resident gentry in Ireland—the Department defrayed half the initial cost of the fruit trees planted, and undertook to supply free expert advice as to the purchase, planting, and cultivation of the trees and in the grading, packing, and marketing of the produce. Slightly over forty acres have been planted in connection with this scheme, and the experiments which are being carried out are with the same object as the first scheme. A few of the landowners who have co-operated with the Department in this scheme are titled.
asked if directions would be given in future that money intended for the poor of Ireland should not be used to provide trees for wealthy individuals.
I hope I shall be able to find better use for it than proposed under the second scheme.
Were the local authorities consulted in regard to these schemes?
No, Sir, they have been carried out as independent schemes.
Is it not the fact that several Members of the House of Lords are among the resident gentry who had trees supplied at the public expense?
I have a list of the names here, but I do not think any useful purpose would be served by reading it.