Dáil Éireann

15/Mar/1939

Prelude

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Housing Grants.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Upkeep of Public Roads.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Debt of Dublin City.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - A Greystones Memorial

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Payments to Hospitals.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Limerick Hospitals.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Proposed Tuberculosis Institution.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Mallow Hospital Laundry.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Summer Time Act.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Price of Bakers' Flour.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Duty on Ryegrass Seed.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Parcels Tax.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Civil Service Superannuation Acts.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Seed Potatoes.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - School Closing Order.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Acquisition of Tipperary Lands.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Fogarty Estate, Wicklow.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - County Dublin Land Need.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Unemployment Stamps.

Order of Business.

Local Government (Amendment) Bill, 1939—Committee and Final Stages.

Fisheries Bill, 1938—Second Stage.

[1925] Do chuaidh an Ceann Comhairle i gceannas ar 3 p.m.

Mr. Cogan:  asked the Minister for Local Government and Public Health if he is aware of the urgent need for grants for the erection and reconstruction of houses on holdings of over £25 in rural areas; and if he is prepared to introduce proposals for legislation to make such grants available, and, if not, if he will state the reason.

Minister for Local Government and Public Health (Mr. O Ceallaigh):  I am not prepared to introduce proposals for legislation as suggested. If the Deputy refers to the Official Reports of the debates on the Housing Bills of 1936 and 1937—for instance, 1st July, 1936, and 15th December, 1937—he will find a full statement of my views on this matter.

Mr. Cogan:  asked the Minister for Local Government and Public Health if it is his intention to introduce proposals for legislation making all public roads in Eire a State charge.

Mr. O Ceallaigh:  The answer is in the negative.

Mr. Hurley (for Mr. Hickey):  asked the Minister for Local Government and Public Health if he will state what was the indebtedness of the City of Dublin at the end of the accounting period immediately preceding the assumption by commissioners of the functions of the corporation.

[1926]Mr. O Ceallaigh:  The indebtedness of the City of Dublin as at present constituted was £3,683,620 at 31st March, 1924, made up as follows:—

Corporation of Dublin £2,832,773
Rathmines and Rathgar U.D.C. 600,062
Pembroke U.D.C. 250,785
Total £3,683,620

Mr. Keating:  asked the Minister for Local Government and Public Health whether he has received a copy of a memorial submitted by residents of Greystones to the Wicklow County Council in connection with the repair and maintenance of certain roads and footpaths in Greystones; whether representations have been made to him by or on behalf of the said residents, and whether in view of the suitable employment afforded by this kind of work he is in a position to take any steps to see that these desirable works are carried out.

Mr. O Ceallaigh:  The answer to the first and second parts of the question is in the affirmative. In regard to the third part of the question the memorial relates mainly to certain roads which are not public roads maintained by the Wicklow County Council. Moneys allocated to the county council for the provision of employment through the medium of road works cannot be expended on roads other than public roads maintainable by the council.

Mr. Keating:  Arising out of the Minister's reply I want to ask if he is aware that the roads and footpaths leading to the churches in that district are in a very bad state of repair? Surely the Minister will agree that something should be done to relieve that situation?

Mr. O Ceallaigh:  That does not arise out of the question.

Mr. Dillon:  Is the Minister aware that the situation in this area is analogous to the situation of the roads in [1927] other parts of rural Ireland which have been held not to be roads maintainable by the county councils; that in other parts of rural Ireland minor relief grants have met that peculiar situation and so the money has been spent on them but that inasmuch as the money that has been so spent is allocated on the basis of the unemployment in the particular area there is this difficulty, that as there is virtually no unemployment in the Greystones area, no money has been spent there under the heading of minor relief schemes; in those circumstances will the Minister consider with the Department of Finance whether money can be found from any other funds to deal with this matter because as the matter stands at present the local authority is precluded from spending money on these roads?

Mr. O Ceallaigh:  If the county council has any representations to make on the matter these representations will be considered.

Mr. Dillon:  Would the Minister not look into this question? Is he aware that representations have been raised by the local authority about this grievance but no resolution has been passed? Will he look into the matter himself?

Mr. O Ceallaigh:  I will.

Mr. Dillon:  Thank you.

Mr. P.S. Doyle (for Mr. O'Neill):  asked the Minister for Local Government and Public Health if he will state the amounts paid by the Hospitals Commission to the hospitals of each of the 26 counties (including the county boroughs) for each of the years from the inauguration of the Hospitals Sweeps down to the 31st December, 1938.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Local Government and Public Health (Dr. Ward):  The information is being prepared and will be sent to the Deputy.

[1928]Mr. Bennett:  asked the Minister for Local Government and Public Health whether he is aware that as a consequence of the passing of the Public Charitable Hospitals Act, 1930, the purpose of which was to assist voluntary hospitals, and the subsequent success of the Hospitals Sweepstakes, public subscriptions to the various voluntary hospitals have practically ceased; that amongst the hospitals receiving assistance under the sweepstakes were the voluntary hospitals of St. John's and Barrington's in the City of Limerick; that the Hospitals Commission did not recommend the making of any further large grants to these hospitals which as a result may be compelled to close down; that the citizens of Limerick are united in opposition to any such happening, in which event the City of Limerick would be without a general hospital within its boundary; and, if so, if he will take steps to ensure that the wishes of the citizens in regard to the hospitalisation of the City of Limerick are not overridden.

Dr. Ward:  Several representations have been made to me in regard to the subject matter of this question. In the first place, I would like to say that the Deputy would have set out the position in a fairer manner if, besides stating what the Hospitals Commission did not recommend, he stated what the commission did recommend, viz.: the establishment of a fully equipped hospital in or near the City of Limerick which would meet not only the needs of the City and County of Limerick but serve as a regional hospital for a wider area. The Deputy has also not been quite just in referring to the Hospitals Commission as not recommending the making of any further large grants to the two hospitals referred to. As a matter of fact, since the commission made their recommendation in favour of a regional hospital, payments have been made out of the Hospitals Trust Fund on the recommendation of the commission to one of these hospitals in respect of deficits in their annual accounts. I am [1929] satisfied that when the recommendation of the Hospitals Commission has been given effect to the new regional hospital will provide ample medical and surgical facilities within the area it is intended to serve.

Mr. Bennett:  Arising out of the reply by the Parliamentary Secretary, I want to ask if he is aware that an unprecedented situation will be created in the City of Limerick if these two hospitals are forced to close down? Would the Minister permit such a happening in Dublin, Cork or any other city?

Dr. Ward:  There is no question of forcing these two hospitals to close down. As a matter of fact, as I told the Deputy in my reply, the deficit in respect of one of these Limerick hospitals has been paid for the years 1933 to 1937. This deficit for the period amounts to £2,858. The question at issue is whether the hospitals should be so extended as to meet the entire needs of the area they serve. It is not intended to force them to extend the hospitals nor is it intended to close them down. The Department's policy is not to close them but to provide a regional hospital to meet the needs of the area. I am sure the Deputy is aware that one of these institutions— the St. John's Hospital—so far as my information goes, deals entirely with private patients, and no application for the payment of deficit has been received from that institution by the Hospitals Commission.

Mr. Bennett:  Is not the Minister aware that at the moment those hospitals find extreme difficulty in carrying on owing to the refusal of sufficient maintenance grants from the Hospitals Trust?

Dr. Ward:  That is not so. The Deputy is misinformed.

Mr. Bennett:  Is not the Minister aware that a public meeting was held in Limerick in regard to this, that it was attended by members of every sect, every religion, and every division of politics, and that they were all united in opposition to the proposal?

[1930]Dr. Ward:  I am aware that the people of Limerick City and of Limerick County want a regional hospital provided in that area, but the Deputy is entirely misinformed when he states that we have refused to pay deficits. The question at issue is the question of permitting those hospitals further to extend, but we have never refused to pay deficits.

Mr. Bennett:  Is the Minister not aware that the proposed hospital will be three miles outside Limerick, and that the citizens of Limerick are united in opposition to any proposal which will result in having patients from the centre or any other part of the city going out three miles to a hospital, and their relatives forced to go three miles to visit them? In fact, would not the Minister himself be opposed to any such happening say in Dublin, if the citizens of Dublin were forced to go to Clondalkin or Raheny to attend a hospital?

Dr. Ward:  I am not aware that the regional hospital will be situated three miles outside Limerick. I think on that issue the Deputy is misinformed, too. Again, I would remind the Deputy that he is entirely misinformed when he states that the people of Limerick do not want this regional hospital.

Mr. Bennett:  To cut it short, will the Minister agree to receive representations of the citizens of Limerick, and of the hospitals, to discuss the whole question of hospitalisation in Limerick?

Dr. Ward:  I will be quite happy at any time to receive any representations which the people of Limerick may desire to make, but it does not necessarily follow that we will receive a deputation. At any rate, representations can be made in writing in the first instance, and, if it is necessary or any useful purpose will be served by receiving a deputation, well, then, a deputation will be received.

Mr. Bennett:  Does the Minister say he will refuse to receive a deputation of the citizens of Limerick?

[1931]Dr. Ward:  No.

Mr. Bennett:  I understood the Minister to say he would receive representations in writing?

Dr. Ward:  Yes.

Mr. Bennett:  But that he will not receive a deputation?

Dr. Ward:  I cannot accept the Deputy's interpretation of my remarks.

Mr. Bennett:  Will the Minister receive a deputation representative of the citizens of Limerick and of the hospitals?

Dr. Ward:  Provided I am satisfied that some useful purpose will thereby be served.

Mr. P.J. Fogarty:  asked the Minister for Local Government and Public Health whether in connection with the proposed erection of a tuberculosis institution at Ballyfermot Upper he is aware (1) that the householders in the district are greatly perturbed regarding the erection of such an institution in their midst; (2) that its erection in a district which is largely used by dairy farmers for grazing purposes is very likely going to deprive these men of a living; (3) that the parish priest of Chapelizod has acquired a site for the building of new schools within half a mile of the proposed institution; if so, if he is now prepared to alter his decision.

Dr. Ward:  Representations to this effect were received in my Department and fully considered. The site was selected by the Corporation of Dublin on the advice of their medical and technical advisers and approval to its acquisition was given. I see no reason for altering that decision.

Mr. Brasier (for Mr. Daly):  asked the Minister for Local Government and Public Health if he will state what is the present intention in the matter of providing a laundry in conjunction with [1932] the hospital at Mallow, which has been completed for over 12 months; if he is aware that the opening of the hospital has been delayed by the failure to sanction the plans for a laundry, and that the proposal to have laundry work for the hospital carried out in Cork would not tend to economy, efficiency or simplicity.

Dr. Ward:  As regards the first part of the question the present intention is to provide a laundry at Mallow Hospital. The answer to the remainder of the question is in the negative.

Mr. Cogan:  asked the Minister for Justice if it is intended to introduce proposals for legislation for the repeal of the Summer Time Act, 1925.

Minister for Justice (Mr. Ruttledge):  The answer is in the negative.

Mr. Cogan:  Is the Minister aware of the serious inconvenience caused to the rural population as a result of this summer time enactment, and also of the serious hardship and injustice inflicted on children in rural areas through being compelled to attend school at such an early hour?

Mr. Ruttledge:  I am not aware of it.

Mr. Dillon:  asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce whether he is aware that the current price of bakers' flour in Great Britain is 21/6 per sack ex mill and that the same flour in Éire is 40/6 per sack; and whether he will require the Prices Commission to investigate the reasons for this discrepancy in prices.

Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. Lemass):  The current quotation for straight-run flour at London is 22/6 for 280 lbs. The current quotation for bakers' flour at Dublin is 40/6 per sack. These figures are not comparable for a number of reasons. In the first place it is not clear that British straight-run flour is similar in quality to Irish bakers' flour. Secondly, the price quoted for [1933] Irish flour includes an amount attributable to the additional cost arising from the statutory obligation of Irish flour millers to purchase quotas of native wheat at fixed minimum prices. To the list prices quoted for British flour should be added the wheat quota levy of 6/6 per sack which is payable on all flour consumed in Great Britain. Furthermore, the Dublin price includes the cost of sacks and delivery free on rail of flour consigned to places outside Dublin. The quoted prices for British flours do not include the cost of sacks or of delivery. For these and other reasons any comparison of quoted prices for British and Irish flours may lead to erroneous conclusions. With regard to the last part of the Deputy's question, the Prices Commission are keeping the price of flour under constant review.

Mr. Dillon:  Is the Minister aware that, whatever the reasons may be for this wide disparity in price between two flours which are identical, in London and in Dublin, the result is an annual tax on the consumers of flour in this country of approximately £2,500,000?

Mr. Lemass:  I am aware that that is nonsense.

Mr. Dillon:  Is the Minister aware that the consumption of flour in this country is 2,750,000 sacks per annum; that the disparity in price admitted by himself between the commodity in England and here is 19/- per sack, and that that represents an annual charge of £2,500,000 on the consumers of flour in this country?

Mr. Lemass:  The Deputy apparently has not understood my reply. There is no such disparity in price.

Mr. Dillon:  On the contrary, I understood the Minister's reply very clearly. Is he aware that the disparity in price does exist as surely as the disparity in bacon prices existed, to which I directed his attention two years ago?

Mr. Lemass:  The answer is in the negative.

[1934]Mr. Dillon:  It was in the negative about bacon two years ago, too.

Mr. Hughes:  asked the Minister for Finance if he will state what is the present rate of import duty on Italian ryegrass seed from United Kingdom and from countries outside United Kingdom.

Minister for Education (Mr. Derrig) (for Minister for Finance):  Where importation is permitted under licence issued by the Minister for Agriculture, Italian ryegrass seed may be imported free of customs duty if of United Kingdom or Canadian origin, or on payment of duty at the rate of 20/- per cwt. if grown or produced in any other country.

Mr. Bennett (for Mr. Reidy):  asked the Minister for Finance if he will state whether parcels imported by post or otherwise from the United Kingdom are now liable to parcels tax.

Mr. Derrig:  It is presumed that the Deputy refers to package duty which was first imposed by Section 2 of the Finance Act, 1932.

Under the provisions of Section 10 of the Finance (Agreement with United Kingdom) Act, 1938, package duty is not chargeable on any package containing only goods produced or manufactured in the United Kingdom if

(1) the package contains only goods for the personal use of the importer and is brought in by such importer or his servant or a member of his family; or

(2) the package is imported through the post and contains only goods which are gifts for the use or enjoyment of the consignee; or

(3) the package is imported through the post and either contains no internal packages or contains not more than six internal packages.

In all other cases package duty, where chargeable, must be paid.

[1935]Mr. Hurley (for Mr. Norton):  asked the Minister for Finance if he will state whether the actuarial examination into the Civil Service Superannuation Acts has been completed.

Mr. Derrig:  As the investigation is of a very complicated nature, it is not possible to indicate even an approximate date for its completion. It will take at least a year from the present time.

Tadhg O Murchadha:  asked the Minister for Agriculture if he is aware that there is a likelihood of a considerable shortage of seed potatoes, with consequent hardship on workers and small farmers, and if he is prepared to make available free seed potatoes in sufficient quantities to enable such persons plant a sufficient quantity of potatoes.

Minister for Agriculture (Dr. Ryan):  Generally speaking, I am satisfied from inquiries which I had made throughout the country that although crops have suffered to some extent, there are ample supplies of seed potatoes in most areas. A seed distribution scheme, intended mainly as a means of introducing and demonstrating the use of improved varieties of seed, is operated by my Department in certain of the poorer areas of the country and considerable quantities of seed potatoes have already been distributed to small holders at reduced prices under that scheme. My Department is not in a position to supply seed potatoes free of cost, nor is it their function to provide relief for necessitous persons.

Mr. Murphy:  I cannot dispute the Minister's sources of information—he has much better ones at his disposal than I have—but I would ask him to look into the position in West Cork. Perhaps he would be prepared to make further inquiries into the matter. It seems to me, from what I have heard at local boards and in the course of conversation with various people, that there is a very definite shortage [1936] extending beyond the areas served in the scheme that the Minister refers to.

Dr. Ryan:  I may inform the Deputy that we are constantly inquiring into the matter.

Mr. Dillon:  Will the Minister be kind enough to extend his inquiries into the County Monaghan, where my information exactly tallies with that of Deputy Murphy?

Dr. Ryan:  I have been making inquiries there.

Mr. Doyle (for Mr. O'Neill):  asked the Minister for Agriculture if he is aware that the Committee of Agriculture for the County of Cork has ascertained that there is a serious shortage of seed potatoes in the western portion of that county; and seeing that many of the small farmers in that area are not able to pay for seed, if his Department will come to their aid by supplying seed potatoes free of cost or at a nominal price.

Dr. Ryan:  There seems to be some difference of view locally as to the position regarding supplies of seed potatoes in County Cork.

A sub-committee of the County Committee of Agriculture recently reported that they had investigated the position and were satisfied that there was no general shortage of seed potatoes in the county. Subsequently the county committee adopted a resolution calling the attention of my Department to a shortage of seed potatoes in the western part of the county and requesting that the Department would supply seed potatoes free of cost.

My Department's Congested Areas Seed Distribution Scheme is in operation in West Cork and a supply of seed potatoes at reduced prices for small holders has been made available. While the distribution of seed under this scheme is, as I have already stated here, intended mainly as a means of introducing and demonstrating the use of improved varieties of seed, it is not meant as a relief scheme in the proper sense, although it will obviously help in necessitous cases in that area.

[1937] It is not the function of my Department to provide relief for necessitous persons. I am satisfied, however, from recent reports received from the Department's local officers that, although crops have suffered to some extent, there are, generally speaking, sufficient supplies of seed potatoes in the county.

Mr. Doyle (for Mr. Rogers):  asked the Minister for Education whether he has refused to continue to pay the salary of the teacher at Coney Island National School, Rosses Point, and ordered the school to be closed and, if so, if he will state why he has taken this action in view of the fact that children are being taught in the school and that there is no other school in the neighbourhood to which they can go without considerable danger and hardship; and if he will in the circumstances agree to continue the school.

Minister for Education (Mr. Derrig):  Of the seven pupils attending Coney Island National School there appears to be only one who is a native of the island. In the circumstances, I do not consider that my Department would be warranted in continuing recognition to the school. Notice was sent to the manager and to the teacher on the 13th September, 1938, that grants would be withdrawn from the school from 31st December, 1938, but in order to allow the parents and guardians an opportunity of making alternative arrangements for the education of their children, the date of withdrawal of recognition from the school has been postponed to 31st March, 1939.

General Mulcahy:  Is the Minister aware—I may say, in passing, that there are nine children on the island— that the other children he speaks about are not belonging to the island, but are actually living with relatives? Is he also aware that the children will have to travel by sea to some other school, and will he say where that other school is? Will he say whether it is the intention of the Department or the Government to depopulate this [1938] island? It is clear that if the school is shut down, the island will be depopulated. Is that the Minister's intention?

Mr. Derrig:  The Deputy does not seem to be aware that some of the children attending this school are brought from the mainland.

General Mulcahy:  They are living with relatives; they do not come from the mainland to school.

Mr. Derrig:  Apart from the fact that we are satisfied that an attendance sufficient to maintain the school cannot be maintained from people who are natives of the island, there are other circumstances also in question and, having examined the thing closely, I am satisfied it would not be justifiable to maintain the school.

General Mulcahy:  Does the Minister suggest that some of the children attending the school at present come daily from the mainland to attend the school?

Mr. Derrig:  Their natural place of residence is not the island, at any rate, it seems to me.

General Mulcahy:  Does the Minister suggest their natural place of residence is on the island, close to the position of the school? That is not so. Is the Minister not aware that any of the children living on the island have come from a distance and they are living with relatives on the island?

Mr. Derrig:  The Deputy knows that under the national school regulations a certain attendance has to be maintained. I am not satisfied that the attendance of the minimum number of seven will be obtained in this case.

General Mulcahy:  Is the Minister not aware that a separate school is given for very small numbers in the case of certain religious denominations in the country, and is he not prepared to apply considerations of that particular kind to island schools, where it is inevitable that the closing of the school will depopulate the island?

[1939]Mr. Derrig:  I am not aware that special arrangements are made for the maintenance of small schools in the case of any particular religious denominations. The same rules cover children of all denominations and schools of all denominations. Naturally, in the case of an island school, if the case seems to be a bona-fide one, the rules of the Department would be stretched to the utmost extent in order to enable the school to be maintained. I am not satisfied that this is a case which makes it necessary that the school should be maintained.

General Mulcahy:  I should like the Minister to understand that I do not wish to imply that there are separate regulations or considerations for any particular religious denominations, but in the case of certain religious denominations the facts are such that certain regulations have to be applied and these same considerations should apply certainly to island schools.

Mr. A. Fogarty:  asked the Minister for Lands if the Land Commission has acquired the Purcell estate, Hill's Lot, Cashel. County Tipperary, and, if so, when its division will take place.

Minister for Lands (Mr. Boland):  The Land Commission have not yet acquired the lands of Hill's Lot and Lalor's Lot on the Purcell estate and, at the present stage, it is not possible to state when the lands will be divided.

Mr. A. Fogarty:  asked the Minister for Lands if he has taken any steps to acquire the Green estate, Cappamurragh, Dundrum, County Tipperary, for division and, if so, when it will be acquired.

Mr. Boland:  The Deputy has been already informed of the position regarding these lands in reply to his previous questions. The tenant has objected to the proposals of the Land Commission for resumption and it is not feasible to proceed further in the matter at present.

[1940]Mr. A. Fogarty:  asked the Minister for Lands if he will state what steps have been taken by the Land Commission to acquire the Heffernan estate, Dogstown, New Inn, Cashel, County Tipperary, for division amongst the uneconomic holders and landless men of the district; if he is aware that repeated applications have been made for the past two years for an inspector to visit the estate; and if he will state if these requests will be now acceded to.

Mr. Boland:  The Land Commission have had an inspection made of the lands of Dogstown on the estate of the late William Heffernan and have decided to institute proceedings for their acquisition.

Mr. Cogan:  asked the Minister for Lands if he will state whether inquiries into the acquisition of the Fogarty estate, Ballykilmurry, County Wicklow (Record No. U.8710) have been completed; if it has been decided to acquire the lands, and, if so, when the acquisition is likely to take place.

Mr. Boland:  The Land Commission have had inquiries made in regard to this estate and the question of acquisition is under consideration, but a decision has not yet been reached.

Mr. P.J. Fogarty:  asked the Minister for Lands if he is aware that considerable demands exist in Shankill, Loughlinstown, Cabinteely and Rathmichael for land division, and that there are a big number of uneconomic holders and landless men in the area, who take land on conacre; and in view of the demands, if he will take steps to have the following grass lands acquired and divided (1) Mary L. Glover estate, consisting of 184 statute acres at Shanganagh; (2) Sir Stanley Cochrane's estate, Woodbrook, consisting of 294 acres; (3) Miss Riall's estate, Old Connaught demesne, Bray, consisting of 265 acres; (4) Mrs. Ada Anderson's estate, Loughlinstown, consisting [1941] of 150 acres; (5) Michael J. O'Brien's estate, Lehaunstown, Cabinteely, consisting of 272 acres; and (6) Captain Wilson estate, Rathmichael, consisting of 80 acres.

Mr. Boland:  There are no proceedings pending in the Land Commission for the acquisition of the Glover, Cochrane and Riall estates in question. Estates of “Mrs. Ada Anderson,”“Michael J. O'Brien,” and “Captain Wilson” cannot be identified by the Land Commission from the particulars given.

Mícheál O Braonain:  asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs if he will state the receipts for unemployment stamps in the calendar year 1938.

Minister for Posts and Telegraphs (Mr. Traynor):  The receipts in respect of unemployment insurance stamps in the calendar year 1938 amounted to £934,831.

The Tánaiste:  It is proposed to take the business as on the Order Paper, Nos. 4, 5 and 2. It is proposed to take the Education Estimates if the Fisheries Bill is finished before 9 o'clock. Private Deputies' time will be taken at 9 o'clock. The Dáil will adjourn to-night at 10.30 p.m. until to-morrow at 10.30 a.m.

Mr. Benson:  When is it proposed to take No. 1—Road Traffic Bill?

The Tánaiste:  Some day next week.

General Mulcahy:  The Tánaiste announced that the Education Estimates will be taken to-day. Will the discussion be continued to-day and to-morrow?

The Tánaiste:  A lot will depend on how much time will be taken with the other items down for discussion. If there is time before 9 o'clock, we will take the Education Estimate.

Mr. Hurley:  I understood the Minister would make a statement on the [1942] Education Estimate this afternoon or to-night and that the discussion would take place to-morrow on that statement.

The Tánaiste:  No, I gather not. It is not proposed to continue the Education Estimate to-morrow.

Mr. Dillon:  The Tánaiste is not in a position to forecast what business will be ordered for to-morrow?

The Tánaiste:  Not yet.

Sections 1 and 2 and the Title agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment.

Question—“That the Bill be received for final consideration”—put and agreed to.

Question—“That the Bill do now pass”—put and agreed to.

Dr. Ryan:  I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time.

The salmon and trout fisheries of this country have been the subject of a long series of enactments dating back to the earliest periods of legislative history, and now that we are about to examine and discuss another Bill on the subject we may, perhaps, with advantage advert as briefly as possible to the principal fishery statutes enacted during the past century, as well as the circumstances in which these additions to the fishery code came to be made.

Up to the opening of the 19th century our salmon and trout fisheries were divided as to ownership or exploitation among, broadly speaking, three classes. There were those persons who operated several or exclusive fisheries under charters or grants of ancient standing, there were the ordinary local netsmen who worked in the tidal waters of most of the salmon rivers and there were the upper water proprietors. It was apparently left to the last mentioned and the chartered fishery owners to protect their interests as best they might at their own expense. The State passed many relevant laws, but does not seem [1943] to have troubled much about the enforcement of them. There was some sort of responsibility cast upon the Admiralty, but this was rather indefinite in its nature.

Between the years 1714 and 1837 some 18 Acts dealing mainly with salmon fisheries were passed, showing that the matter was deemed by the Legislature to be of some consequence. We also find that in the period 1810-1838 all parties concerned in these fisheries had been in a state of turmoil over the introduction, about 1808, of the contrivances known as Scotch weirs or stake weirs, and that during the following 20 years such engines were being constantly prostrated by the ordinary netsmen and were also being abated by rulings of the law courts.

Matters became so serious that Parliament found it necessary to intervene; and following a parliamentary inquiry set up about 1837-'38, it was decided to draft a comprehensive measure dealing with the Irish salmon fisheries and there was duly passed the Fisheries Act of 1842. This measure repealed all the enactments then in force relating to our fisheries, enactments dating back to the reign of Edward IV (circa 1470). It was a very well drawn piece of legislation running to 115 sections and contained salutary provisions for the preservation of the salmon fisheries. Unfortunately, however, the framers of this Act overlooked providing adequate machinery for the enforcement of its provisions. While the Act authorised the supervision by the Commissioners of Public Works of the salmon rivers of this country as a whole, it was far from clear how the supervision was to be made effective. It is true that water bailifs might be appointed by the proprietors of fisheries or by other persons interested. Some assistance was also to be given by officers of the navy and by the local coastguard, but there such provisions ended. In one important respect this Act of 1842 broke new ground. That was, that by its 18th and 19th Sections it legalised the use under certain conditions, of those fixed engines (i.e., stake weirs) already referred to. While severe restrictions on their use were [1944] imposed, subsequent events seem to have proved that even limited legislation on stake nets was far from being an unmixed blessing.

In the year 1844 an amending Act was passed, the main purpose of which was to empower the constabulary to participate in the enforcement of the fishery laws. Unfortunately the police, like the Commissioners of Public Works, had many other matters to attend to which, in practice, were given priority over the calls of fishery protection.

In the following year another measure amending the foregoing Acts was passed. It provided for the appointment of additional commissioners with special responsibility for the fisheries work as distinguished from the general work of the Office of Public Works.

In 1846 yet another Act was passed to amplify certain provisions of the earlier statutes. It had now become obvious that all these provisions contained in the statutes from 1842 onwards, while good in themselves, were really inoperative in character; and the absolute need for some method of ensuring the application of these provisions became apparent to all concerned.

In such circumstances there was passed the Fisheries Act of 1848 which provided for the division of the country into fishery districts, each of them to be controlled by a board of conservators by whom a tax in the form of a licence duty would be levied upon every fishing engine operated within their district. The proceeds were to be devoted to the payment of officers and water-bailiffs employed by the board under this Act for the protection of the fisheries in their district. The overriding authority for fishery administration was still left in the hands of those special commissioners already appointed under the earlier Act to work with the Commissioners of Public Works.

In 1850 an Act of 46 sections was passed which contained many much needed amplifications of the earlier Acts, but introduced no new principle into our fishery code.

[1945] By 1862 we find that fixed nets had rapidly increased in number while, on the other hand, the legal free gaps in weirs were not being maintained. It seems to have been due mainly to the ability and perseverance of a Mr. McMahon, then M.P. for Wexford, that after several years of struggle on his part the Act of 1863 reached the Statute Book. The chief provisions of this Act are those relating to fixed engines, free gaps in weirs, close seasons and the regulation of fishery licences. It provided for the appointment of three special commissioners to whom were transferred all the powers and duties with regard to salmon fisheries that had previously attached to the Commissioners of Public Works.

These special commissioners, whose appointment was dated October, 1863, were authorised to investigate the working of any fixed net and every weir, were given the status of judges, and appeals from their decisions were generally heard by a full court, consisting of four judges of the Queen's Bench, beyond whom no further appeal lay. The commissioners got to work immediately and would seem to have discharged their duties with great competence. At the close of the year 1865 they had inquired into the legality of over 280 fixed engines and had issued certificates in favour of not more than 24 of them. At that date there were some important appeals from their rulings still pending, and in many cases their decisions were reversed by the Appellate Tribunal. Their successors (the inspectors of Irish fisheries) found themselves constrained in the early seventies to issue a number of certificates in cases where the appellate decision applied. At the present time the total number of certificated fixed engines in the whole of Ireland is just 200, as against the many times that number which had been in use prior to 1863.

It seems, therefore, fair to suggest that but for the Act of 1848, which set up local boards of conservators, and the Act of 1863, which created the special commissioners with the duty to take action on their own initiative, our salmon and trout fisheries could [1946] scarcely have managed to survive as an asset.

Incidentally to the discharge of their duties the special commissioners found it necessary to lay down formula for the definition of estuaries, as well as of river mouths, and of tidal and fresh water boundaries, all points of great importance subsequently in fisheries administration.

In May, 1869, an Act was passed, the purpose of which was the replacement of the special commissioners by three officers styled the “inspectors of Irish fisheries.” In August of the same year a further Act was passed making more clear the duties and responsibilities of these inspectors. It combined for the first time in the one authority the supervision of the sea and the inland fisheries. Previously the sea fisheries had been dealt with by another authority which relied very largely upon the assistance of the coastguards.

That Act also provided for the holding of inquiries by the inspectors of fisheries and the making of general by-laws, as well as the definition of river mouths and estuaries, or the revision of existing by-laws and definitions. Here for the first time mention is made of the right to appeal to the Lord Lieutenant in Council (i.e., the Privy Council) in respect of the definition just mentioned. That right already existed under Section 92 of 5 and 6 Vic., Cap. 106, so far as the ordinary by-laws were concerned. This appeal arrangement continued until 1922; and at present the High Court is the Appellate Tribunal in these matters. In their report for the year 1870 the inspectors of fisheries suggested that as soon as a few short Bills remedying obvious defects had been enacted arrangements should be made for consolidating the fishery code. That consolidation was never attempted. It is, therefore, contemplated that, once this Bill has been disposed of, the consolidation of our fishery statutes shall be definitely undertaken.

During the following 25 years, while no attempt at consolidation seems to have been made, there were passed [1947] (in addition to four statutes dealing with sea fisheries) six Acts dealing with the following matters:—

An Act passed in the year 1870 relating to the export of unseasonable salmon. That Act will be repealed and the essential provisions thereof re-enacted in this measure.

An Act passed in the year 1876 on the subject of the prevention of the pollution of rivers.

An Act passed in the year 1877 prohibited the use of dynamite or explosives for the purpose of catching or destroying fish in public fisheries.

An Act in the year 1881 further regulating the close season for fishing for pollan in Ireland.

An Act passed in 1891 for the provision of better preservation of the pollan fisheries in Ireland.

An Act passed in 1895 to make good a rather curious omission in the earlier statutes, namely, provision for an appeal against close season orders. It is well to record that this Act of 1895 was itself subsequently repealed by the Act of 1909 (9 Edw. 7, Cap. 25) which inter alia provided that the right of appeal with regard to close season orders should be the same as that given with regard to by-laws, under Sections 91-93 of the Act of 1842.

In 1899 was passed an Act establishing the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction in Ireland to which inter alia were transferred all the powers and duties of the inspectors of Irish fisheries.

The organisation of the new Department consisted of a fourfold grouping of its responsibilities, namely, an Agricultural Branch, a Technical Instruction Branch, a Veterinary Branch and a Fisheries Branch. The last-mentioned branch was placed in the immediate charge of the inspectors of fisheries, and there was added to it a much-needed laboratory and technical staff under the supervision of a scientific adviser. As a result it became possible to fill subsequent vacancies for the post of inspector by the appointment of [1948] persons who were fully trained ichthyologists.

In 1909 there was passed a short Act (already referred to) which dealt with the holding of inquiries in response to applications for changes in existing by-laws or close season orders, etc.

There were no further additions to the Statute Book in the shape of fishery legislation until after the change of Government in 1922.

During the régime of the Provisional Government in the 12 months ended 6th December, 1922, the inland fisheries administration was carried on by the Fisheries Branch of the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction. The Minister for Fisheries, who was appointed in December, 1922, really acted upon an agency basis for the Minister for Agriculture for, inter alia, the powers and duties appurtenant to the Fisheries Branch aforesaid.

It was in March, 1924, that the Fisheries Act, 1924, was passed as a check upon the serious increase in fishery offences which had then arisen. Certain of the penalties imposed by that Act may possibly have erred somewhat on the side of severity. The moral effect of that Act was, however, very considerable, as it demonstrated to all actual and potential offenders that the fishery authority was determined to suppress the threatened development of illegal fishing.

In the following month, April, 1924, there was enacted the Ministers and Secretaries Act, 1924, which, among other things, regularised the whole position of the fishery administration by giving legal existence to the Department of Fisheries.

In July, 1925, there was added to the fishery code the Fisheries Act, 1925. It dealt with the constitution of the boards of conservators and introduced many much needed improvements in the then existing system. It also provided that during the ten years next following there were to be paid to the boards of conservators the rates upon all fishery assessments, instead of the small income previously derived by [1949] these boards from what was known as the 10 per cent. rate on fisheries. There was also a provision giving the local authorities (county councils and other bodies) a claim upon the Exchequer for a refund or recoupment of the amount, above a certain figure, by which a loss in local rates was sustained by reason of this diversion of payment in favour of conservators. The net result to the boards was an increase in their total income of about £15,000 per annum without which they could not possibly have maintained an adequate number of water bailiffs or river watchers. That Act further compelled persons engaging in the purchase and sale of salmon and trout to keep records. It also prohibited absolutely any further addition to the number of those fixed engines to which reference has been made.

In view of the administration difficulties that were caused by the political border it became necessary to re-define certain of the fishery districts. That portion of the former district of Derry, or Londonderry, which was physically within the jurisdiction of our Government was constituted as the new district of Moville; and the periphery of the former Ballyshannon district was modified so as to accommodate the working of it to the new conditions. There are now 23 boards of conservators functioning within the jurisdiction. In addition to the conservators elected in the ordinary course by the persons who have paid licence duty, the owner, occupier, or lessee of a fishery valued for rating purposes at £50 or upwards is entitled to sit and act as conservator ex-officio for the district in which such fishery is situated. The composition of the existing boards may be taken as:—

Representatives of tidal electoral divisions 120
Representatives of freshwater electoral divisions 120
Ex-officio conservators 96

Rated occupiers of fisheries have not yet been given voting powers in respect of the rates which they pay, but that anomaly is dealt with in this Bill.

The Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act, 1928, expanded the [1950] responsibilities of the Minister for Fisheries who, under its provisions, became the Minister for Lands and Fisheries and took charge of the work of the Land Commission.

In November, 1933, the Minister for Lands and Fisheries relinquished his responsibility for the fisheries service, and, as the Minister for Lands, took over charge of the Forestry service, which until then had been under the Minister for Agriculture. The Minister for Agriculture took over fisheries.

Following the decision given by the Supreme Court towards the end of 1933 in the important case of “Moore v. the Attorney-General” (usually referred to as “the Erne Fisheries decision”), the estuary of the River Erne at Ballyshannon became open to the public at large, and, with a view to regulating the fishing operations at that place—with the ultimate object of conserving the stock of the river— there was passed the Fisheries (Tidal Waters) Act, 1934. That Act provided, inter alia, for the issue in respect of the Erne estuary of special local licences, the duty on which was assessed at a figure calculated to produce for the board of conservators the equivalent of the fishery rate which up till then had been paid by Messrs. Moore while operating the estuary as a several fishery. This Act which had to be put through hurriedly, in view of the near approach of the fishing season, was made to run for one year only.

The Fisheries (Tidal Waters) (Amendment) Act, 1935, extended for a further two seasons the provisions of the Act of 1934.

There was passed the same year the statute known as the Fisheries Act, 1935, by which was extended for a further two years the then expiring provision in the Fisheries Act of 1925 (No. 32 of 1925) regarding the payment of fishery rates direct to the conservators.

The Fisheries (Tidal Waters) (Amendment) Act, 1937, again extended for another two years the general provisions of aforesaid Act No. 24 of 1934, but with the addition of a special provision for the payment by approved instalments [1951] of the special local licence duty in respect of drift nets.

The Fisheries Act, 1937, extended for a further period up to the end of the year 1949 the rating provisions of the Fisheries Act of 1925. At the time when this Act was under discussion (November, 1937) it had become evident that there would still be considerable delay before the comprehensive measure in contemplation could be introduced. It was, therefore, decided to extend the Act dealing with tidal waters for two years and then to incorporate the general regulations on that subject in the new Bill. On the other hand; the rating provisions as originally settled by the Fisheries Act, 1925, had better, it was thought, be treated separately.

In addition to the statutes directly concerned with inland fisheries administration which I have dealt with, it is well to record that the following four Acts also have an indirect bearing on that subject:—

The Shannon Electricity Act, 1925, (No. 26 of 1925);

The Electricity Supply Act, 1927 (No. 27 of 1927);

The Shannon Fisheries Act, 1935 (No. 4 of 1935);

The Shannon Fisheries Act, 1938 (No. 7 of 1938).

These four statutes deal with the hydro-electric scheme and its consequential results upon the fisheries of the Shannon system. From the fisheries viewpoint, the aim of these statutes is to enable the Electricity Supply Board to develop and exploit to the best advantage the fisheries of the Shannon so far as may be consistent with the maintenance at the requisite standard of efficiency of the hydro-electric scheme. The fishery authority for the Shannon remains as heretofore in the Limerick Board of Conservators, and through them in the Minister for Agriculture.

Coming to this Bill, it will be noted that it has been drawn in six separate divisions or parts. Part I, styled “Preliminary and General,” is self-explanatory, calling for no special [1952] comment by me. Part II and Part III contain certain much-needed amendments of the existing fishery code, and these will require a fair amount of commentary. Parts IV and V have reference to the proposed acquisition by the Minister of privately held estuarine and weir fisheries; and, here again, it will be necessary to have a reasonably complete and considered statement of the policy underlying the scheme. Part VI of the Bill deals with miscellaneous matters none of which, except perhaps the item covered by Section 96, would appear to require anything by way of special explanation. I will now proceed to discuss the contents of Part II.

Section 6.—This provides in effect that the name on the fishing licence shall be that of the person actually paying the licence duty. It is designed to obviate misunderstandings and confusion which have in the past arisen by reason of the holder of a licence being merely a deputy or “dummy” for the actual payer of the duty.

Section 7.—Here again the intention is to regularise the method of issuing rod licences so that the franchise may be fairly exercised at the election of boards of conservators.

Section 8.—By a curious oversight, no penalty was mentioned in the Fisheries Act, 1848, for failure to comply with the terms of Section 21, which oblige a person setting up, for fishing purposes, any instrument or device other than those enumerated in the Schedule to that Act to notify the fact to the conservators, so that a suitable licence duty may be assessed on the said instrument or device. This present section now makes good the omission in question.

Section 9.—The proposed imposition of a licence duty of 5/- on every trout rod is admittedly a matter open to controversy. On the whole, however, the arguments in favour of introducing this duty are very much stronger and more convincing than anything which can be urged against it. We are being constantly reminded of the potential value of our brown trout fisheries. Its importance is stressed in the report of the Inland Fisheries Commission of [1953] 1935; and we are having persistent requests for assistance in the preservation and development of this branch of our inland fisheries. If the State is to be expected to assist in this matter by the development of hatcheries and so forth, those directly interested in this sport of brown trout angling must be prepared to demonstrate that they are willing to do something on their part. The duty proposed is very small. In view of the concurrent legislation dealing with tourist development it is of much consequence that our brown trout fisheries should receive particular attention. While, therefore, commending the section to the support of Deputies, I am quite willing to consider such views as they may care to express about its provisions.

Section 10.—Up to 1925 the licence duty charged for a rod for salmon and sea trout was £1; and such a licence taken out in any one fishery district was valid for all districts. The Fisheries Act, 1925, raised the duty to £2 for a licence to be available only in the district in which it was taken out, but transferable to any other district on payment of an additional 10/-. A board of conservators might, if they so wished, by special resolution put in force a £1 rod licence valid for a fortnight only and not transferable. This arrangement has proved suitable for the requirements of short-trip tourists and holiday anglers.

It has been suggested that there should be for sea trout rods a duty separate from and lower than that for salmon rods. The most valuable salmon angling is for spring-run fish: whereas sea trout (except in one or two districts) run altogether in the summer and autumn. The salmon which run in summer and autumn are in general much smaller than the spring fish. It is, therefore, proposed to provide for the issue of a £1 licence, to cover salmon and sea trout angling from the first of July to the end of the open season, which would be available for use in another district upon payment of an endorsement fee of 10/-. The conservators may pass a resolution putting such a form of licence in force, and at the same time may decide whether they will issue [1954] 14-day licences prior to the 1st July. It is believed that any reduction in receipts as computed on the former basis would be well offset by the larger number of licences taken out during the second half of the year under the new system.

Section 11.—The case of the greater including the less is obvious.

Section 12.—The proposal here is to increase the licence duty on draft nets or seines from £4 to £5 and the duty upon drift nets of any length from £3 to £5. A little consideration of this Bill as a whole will, I think, show that this proposal is in nowise inequitable. The members of the Inland Fisheries Commission, 1935, were almost unanimous in recommending that all netting for salmon should be abolished, and that a system of trap-weirs worked by a central fishery board be substituted. Having weighed carefully the pros and cons of this recommendation, the Government decided that its adoption was undesirable. The Bill, moreover, does more than merely to secure the position of netsmen operating in tidal waters or the open sea, because, as will be seen from Section 37, the number of persons who may engage in such netting shall not be greater than those so operating during the “appointed period.” That is to say, that in a specially favourable season, it will not be open to “casuals” to come along and thereby reduce the average earnings of the regular fishermen. Furthermore, it will be observed from Section 35 of the Bill that the use of nets in the fresh water portion of any river will be prohibited. Obviously this abolition of netting in the upper reaches of our rivers will result in a considerable increase in the number of fish left for spawning, and this in turn will mean an expansion in the stock carried by each river. (The money derived from this licence duty is, of course, expended upon protection of the breeding fish upon which the river stock and the ultimate earnings of the netsmen are dependent.) It follows, therefore, that those working drift nets, draft nets and seines in the sea or the tidal waters of a river will have [1955] their earning power considerably increased. They will have the “first shot” at the enhanced stock of salmon that will be running in future years. I submit that the proposals in this section are reasonable and worthy of support by every Deputy.

Section 14.—The produce of rates derived from fishery assessments has, under the Fisheries Act, 1925, provided the various boards of conservators with the greater part of their funds for protection work; and it is reasonable that those paying such rates should have some voice in the election of the local board, apart from their voting power as licence holders. At present we have the anomaly of persons who individually contribute a considerable amount by way of rates, but whose power as individual electors is restricted to a single vote in respect of a rod licence. The voting power set down in this section as drawn is on the same basis as that for licence duty; but on reconsideration of the position I feel that some modification is needed in this plan. It is to be borne in mind that the larger ratepayers obtained a valuable concession under the 1925 Act inasmuch as the right to a seat as an ex-officio conservator was thereby conferred upon every person whose fishery assessment or valuation was £50 or over, as against the standard of £100 which had previously prevailed. While, therefore, a good case exists for the grant of voting power to those paying fishery rate amounting to £1 or more, but whose assessment is under £50, it does not seem equitable that those already entitled to a seat ex-officio should have further voting power in addition to that for their licence duty. I, therefore, propose to introduce an amendment into this section excluding from its provisions persons in the last-mentioned category.

Section 15.—The purport of this section is to stop an undesirable development which has been growing. Certain parties, with the object of securing control of the new board, purchase licences immediately prior to an election in the names of persons who vote as “dummies” and as directed by those who paid for such licences.

[1956] Section 16.—This section secures for brown trout rod licensees a reasonable measure of representation on the boards of conservators.

Section 17.—While on the whole the various boards of conservators discharge the duties entrusted to them with zeal and efficiency, instances have occurred which indicate the need for the Minister being empowered to hold an inquiry into the conduct of its business.

Section 18.—The provisions herein are the logical outcome of those in the preceding section. While it is necessary and desirable that such a power should be conferred upon the Minister, it is to be hoped that he will rarely, if ever, find reason to exercise it.

Section 19.—It is quite illogical to have as a member of a board charged with the preservation of fisheries a person who has actually been convicted of contravening the fisheries protection code. This section will disqualify such a delinquent from membership of a board.

Section 20.—The existing statutory provision whereby the person described as the “owner, lessee or occupier” of certain property valued as a rateable hereditament for fishery purposes becomes entitled to act as an ex-officio member of a board of conservators has not always worked satisfactorily. From time to time cases have occurred in which considerable doubt arose as to who in fact was the party entitled to exercise this privilege. It is to resolve all such doubts in future that the change of description to that of “rated occupier” is here proposed. Such a person will always have documentary evidence of his identity. The disability imposed by sub-section (2) is purely temporary and can be discharged at any time by the person concerned clearing up his liability for fishery rate.

Section 21.—This section provides for the continuance in office of the clerk and other employees as between the departure from office of a board of conservators and the election of a new board. That new board will, of course, have the right either to confirm the [1957] appointment of such employees or of engaging other persons for the posts.

Section 22.—Some boards of conservators have been experiencing considerable difficulty in the collection of fishery rates in cases where the persons assessed have pleaded inability to pay, and where sometimes the sheriff has reported nulla bona. In some cases it is believed the persons assessed had, in fact, made lettings of the fisheries. It is to deal with cases of that kind that this section has been drafted. Legal opinion indicates that without such legislative authority the occupier could not be made liable.

Section 23.—This section does not contain anything new in principle. It is nothing more than an attempt at consolidation of various provisions contained in three or four of the earlier statues prohibiting the use of the devices specified. The only expansion has been to make the prohibition applicable to “on or near the banks” of a river or lake, as well as to the river or lake itself. This addition is logical and necessary.

Section 24.—I think there can be no objection to the proposal in this section which prohibits the having of an illegal net in any lake, river or estuary or on or near the banks thereof. Sub-section (3) provides ample protection for a person summoned in what may appropriately be described as a borderline case.

Section 25.—We have here a provision which is of the greatest consequence in the interest of our salmon and trout fisheries. Numerous complaints have been reaching the Department on this subject of river pollution by factory effluents and so forth: and investigations by the Departmental inspectors have generally disclosed that such complaints were well-founded. Given the necessary spirit of goodwill, there is no reason why any difficulty should be experienced by those in charge of factories, etc., in making compliance with the very reasonable requirements of the fishery authority in this connection.

Section 26.—The object aimed at is the completion or consolidation of provisions [1958] contained in some of the earlier Acts regarding poisons and explosives. There is nothing new in principle.

Section 27.—Salmon and sea trout may, in mild seasons, begin to spawn in October. Their value for eating or for sport is at its lowest. Many have reached the small tributaries and upper waters where they are relatively easily poached and, of course, the existence of lawful angling at this time keeps open a potential market for poached fish. On the assumption that at least one-half the total run of salmon into our rivers is captured by fishermen during the open season, these October fish are at least twice as valuable for the maintenance of the stock as they were at the beginning of the season. Any increase in the stock of fish due to increased spawning must clearly benefit all fisheries both commercial and sporting. These remarks apply equally to the case of brown trout.

The most valuable brown trout fisheries are in the large lakes and the rivers flowing into them. In the lakes the trout, as the spawning season approaches, gather in the bays at the mouths of rivers, and by September many of them are in the rivers on their way to the actual spawning grounds. At this time the trout will take almost any fly or bait and they are not fished for by genuine sportsmen.

A large number of Angling Associations maintain small hatcheries, with aid from State funds. The closure of October would, in the case of any river affected thereby, result in an increase of natural spawning equal to the produce of a good-sized hatchery, and some of the money now spent on purchasing ova might be diverted to the protection of the total stock of spawning fish.

The Inland Fishery Commission (1901) strongly urged the closure of the month of October and it could not be said that the personnel of that commission was prejudiced against anglers!

Section 28—The provision made in reasonable expansion of that in the this section is nothing more than a [1959] earlier statute of 1850. That statute, in turn, refers to the Act of 1842 which enacts that during the weekly close time (now Saturday morning to Monday morning) there shall be left in every fishing weir and such-like contrivance a free passage or gap of specified dimensions to enable the fish to run during the said weekly close time. It is to clear all doubt as to responsibility for non-compliance with the law, as between the actual occupier and third parties (whether employees or otherwise), that this Section 28 is needed.

Section 29.—The Fisheries Act of 1863, which ordained that there should be a free gap in every fishing weir, provided a penalty for failure to put such a gap in any weir existing at the passing of that Act; but by a curious oversight provided no penalty for failure to make the gap in a weir erected subsequent to that date. This section does the needful in that respect, and indemnifies the Minister from liability for action taken by him in enforcing its provisions. The rules 2, 3 and 4 set out in sub-section (6) contain a penalty for not maintaining the gap once it has been made, also a penalty for interfering with the river bed so as to reduce the flow of water through the gap, and also a penalty for affixing any contrivance or obstruction of any kind in a free gap once made, or doing anything to scare fish from passing it.

Section 30.—Sub-section (1) is a statement of the existing law on this subject of fish-passes in dams or walls for the retention of water for power or navigation purposes, which law is spread somewhat indefinitely over some of the earlier statutes. Sub-section (2) breaks new ground. The leaking away owing to faulty construction of a dam or embankment of water which would otherwise be, and which should be, available for the passage of fish up the river has constituted for the fishery authority a problem increasing in seriousness every year. It is essential, therefore, in the interest of the fisheries that there be conferred upon the Minister the very reasonable powers here proposed. The remaining sub-sections are purely consequential.

[1960] Section 31.—In this section we are concerned with abandoned or disused dams and such-like constructions of which the owners or occupiers may often not be traceable. The power proposed to be conferred on the Minister is that of requiring the owner or occupier (when found) to demolish any or all of such work or make such alterations or additions in it as may be necessary to allow fish to pass freely and to protect them from illegal destruction. Alternatively the Minister would be empowered to carry out the work by his own agents and to recover as far as possible the cost thereof from the owner or occupier.

Section 32.—This section provides for a logical and necessary extension of the earlier statutes, which were not sufficient to meet all the requirements of modern industrial conditions.

Section 33.—This section falls in with the general policy of the Bill, namely, that the run of fish to the spawning grounds in the upper reaches of a river, shall be facilitated and not retarded. The exception in sub-section (1) in favour of the Electricity Supply Board in respect of an eel weir does not affect the general principle, because that board has acquired an exclusive proprietary interest in the fresh waters of the River Shannon and will naturally not do anything that might cause a reduction in the stock of fish.

Section 34.—This section prevents the erection of a weir in fresh water on the plea that it is merely a revival of some such structure which existed in former years. No such revival or reconstruction of a weir or other fixed engine will be permitted except where such was in existence and lawful use during the open fishing season of one or more of the three years immediately prior to the coming into force of this section.

Section 35.—Each of the three commissions that reported on the inland fishery question in 1901, in 1911 and in 1935 recommended that this netting of fish in the fresh water portion of rivers should be abolished. Such abolition must naturally increase the number of fish available for spawning [1961] and, consequently, the stock of our rivers. There is also the biological fact that salmon are not really in a suitable condition for capture by nets in the fresh water as compared with their prime condition while still in the tidal waters.

Section 36.—This section is the logical consequence of the provision set forth in the preceding section.

Section 37.—With regard to those netsmen who operate in public fisheries situated in tidal waters, there shall be adopted a “standard year” defined in sub-section (3); and then during an “appointed period,” which shall not be less than three years or more than ten years, the Minister shall fix the number of licences for nets of the kind used in the standard year which may be issued in each year throughout the appointed period. That number shall not be greater in any year than the number of such nets so used in the standard year, nor shall it be less than 50 per cent. thereof. For the last year of the appointed period and for each year commencing after that period the number of licences to be issued for such nets shall not be more than 80 per cent. nor less than 50 per cent. of the number issued during the said standard year. The method for regulating the priority with regard to the issue of licences is indicated very clearly in the context of this section. As I mentioned earlier, this plan is, from the netsmen's viewpoint, much more acceptable than the adoption of the suggestion for the abolition of all such netting upon a compensatory basis.

Section 38—As the result of the previous efforts, the traffic in poached salmon and trout has gradually been diminished, but, unfortunately, some of the earlier provisions on the subject left a few loopholes. It is believed that this section will considerably help those concerned with fishery protection work.

Section 39—The provision contained herein is the outcome of the biological fact that trout is not fit for consumption as food during the months of January and February, and that all dealings in this fish during that period [1962] represent an entirely useless waste of potential breeding stock.

Section 40—What is proposed here is simply a slight verbal amendment to Section 16 of the Fisheries Act, 1925. It was held that the expression “preserved and sold in tins” did not cover bottles, jars, or similar containers.

Section 41—This section re-enacts in simple language the provisions of two short Acts passed in 1863 and 1870, but which visualised the area of operation as that of the “United Kingdom.”

Section 42—The provisions of the Fisheries Act, 1925, with regard to the registration of, and the keeping of records by, persons engaging in the purchase and sale of salmon and trout have worked satisfactorily. The said provisions were held to be not applicable to the export of salmon or trout, as distinguished from the sale of such fish within the country. It is to provide the necessary powers in that connection that this Section 42 has been introduced.

Section 43—The powers proposed to be conferred by this section are entirely consequential to the provisions of the two immediately preceding sections.

Section 44.—The machinery herein provided for the issue of licences to exporters of salmon and trout, and the conditions attaching thereto, are nothing more than a repetition, suitably modified, of the machinery and conditions already contained in the Fisheries Act, 1925, with regard to the sale of salmon and trout within the country.

Section 45.—The contents of this section are clearly consequential to those of the sections immediately preceding it.

Section 46.—Some years ago there appeared in this country a disease of salmon and trout which had been known on the Continent for a long time previously. That disease is believed to be contagious, but the manner of its transmission is unknown. It died out for a while, but reappeared later, and severe epidemics occurred in some of our rivers. There is not on [1963] the fishery establishment any staff available for research in such directions, but the identity of the disease was ultimately established following the examination of dead fish at the Veterinary College.

There is reason to believe that the disease in question is fairly prevalent in fish from across-Channel and on the Continent. Under the provisions of the Fisheries Act, 1842 (Section 73) and the Fisheries Act, 1925 (Section 32), it is unlawful to purchase or have in possession the eggs or fry of salmon or trout save with a permit from the Minister. When such permits are issued they contain an express condition that the eggs or fry must not be imported. Eggs and fry, however, are probably less dangerous, on the whole, than yearling fish imported during the open season, the import of which there has been so far no power to stop. Accordingly, there has been inserted in the Bill this section to prohibit, under a penalty, the importation of any species of live fish or other aquatic animals or the eggs or fry thereof, save upon such conditions as may be specified by the Minister in an order.

Section 47.—This is simply the correction of a drafting error in Section 87 of the Fisheries Act, 1842, wherein reference is made to the detention of an offender for a “period of 24 hours” and, a few lines further on, is mentioned the “said period of 12 hours”.

Section 48.—Many representations have from time to time been made to the fishery authority as to the desirability of dropping the title “water bailiff”, and the Inland Fisheries Commission Report of 1935 has also a recommendation to that effect. This section proposes to substitute the expression “water keeper” and contains provisions accordingly.

Section 49.—The effect of this section is to make quite clear something that has been virtually settled already by Section 28 of the Fisheries Act, 1925, namely, the right of appeal to the Lord Lieutenant against an order made under the Oyster Cultivation [1964] Act, 1884, and incidentally the confirmation of such an order by the same authority. This present section taken in conjunction with the repeal set out in the fifth item of the Schedule to this Bill makes the position clear beyond all doubt.

Section 50.—What is here proposed is merely a matter of ordinary administrative routine, namely, the delegation to selected officers by the Minister of certain powers and duties formerly exercised in person by the inspectors of fisheries, but which, in the terms of the legislation of recent years, have come to repose in the Minister himself as the fishery authority.

I now come to Part III of the Bill. I wish to repeat that it is the intention, as soon as this Bill has been enacted and put into general operation, to have a consolidating measure prepared in respect of the various statutes, more than 30 in number within which our fishery code is now contained. This course was very properly recommended by the Inland Fisheries Commission in their report of 1935, as it was clear to the members that the existing arrangement is hopelessly complicated and confusing; so much so, that none save persons with years of experience can claim to comprehend the system (or rather lack of system) prevailing. This Part III of the Bill is another example of consolidation.

Sections 51 to 56.—I have already referred to the Fisheries (Tidal Waters) Acts, 1934 to 1937. These Acts were temporary. The idea all along had been to make the arrangement permanent as soon as the general measure dealing with inland fisheries came to be drafted. That, therefore, is all that is being now done in these Sections 51 to 56, inclusive, and by the consequential inclusion in the Schedule of “enactments repealed” of part of the Fisheries (Tidal Waters) Act of 1934 and the whole of the Amending Acts of 1935 and 1937, respectively.

This brings us to Part IV of the Bill which, it will be observed, comprises just a single section—Section 57—but this section is one of major importance. In order to provide a satisfactory basis [1965] for the proposed acquisition by the Minister of those estuarine and weir fisheries now held by private persons, it is necessary to ensure that once such fisheries have been taken over, upon a compensatory basis, there shall be left no room for doubt as to the indefeasibility of the Minister's title to the property so acquired by him and paid for from public funds. It is, accordingly, being provided that where an order has been made by the Minister (under the provisions of Section 59) fixing the “appointed day” for any fishery district any such privately held fishery in tidal waters within such district that has been valued as a rateable hereditament for 60 years ending on 31st December, 1932, shall be deemed thenceforth to be an exclusive or several fishery in such tidal waters, save, of course, in those cases where, prior to January, 1938, it had been determined by a court of competent jurisdiction that a several or exclusive fishery did not in fact exist. Having regard to the provisions of the Prescription Act and other statutes in which a term of 20 years or so is laid down with regard to the settlement of ownership in other property, the span of 60 years specified in this section would seem to be reasonable for all concerned.

The reference made in Section 57 of this Bill to “any case in which a court of competent jurisdiction had judicially determined that a several or exclusive fishery did not exist” in the tidal waters of a particular river or estuary brings to mind immediately the decision of the Supreme Court (in 1933) in what has come to be known as the Erne Fishery case. I propose now to say something about Messrs. Moore who were the plaintiffs in that case. Many Deputies will doubtless recall that, when the Fisheries (Tidal Waters) Bill was under discussion here in May, 1934, the debate centred not so much upon the merits of the Bill itself as on the position of Messrs. Moore, who by the legal decision in question had been ousted from ownership of a valuable fishery that had been in their hands for many years and on the purchase of which they were said to have expended something [1966] like £45,000. The debate disclosed a certain amount of confused thinking about the case, and this perhaps was not surprising in view of the many highly technical matters discussed in the said decision. Deputies, however, had the whole question clarified for them by the Attorney-General in a speech marked by lucidity and candour. He explained in the clearest terms that while undoubtedly Messrs. Moore had acted in perfect good faith regarding the acquisition and subsequent working of this fishery, they certainly got nothing more under the Landed Estates Court conveyance (upon which they relied as their root of title) than any fishing rights to which their predecessor, Thomas Connolly, could have made title. The Attorney-General went on to say that, although the Supreme Court had decided that neither Thomas Connolly nor anyone else was in a position to make legal title to a several or exclusive fishery in the waters in question, it was quite reasonable to assume that the title in a property for which such valuable consideration passed had been examined at each transfer by competent counsel, and had never been challenged until there arose the incidents that led to these law proceedings. He further stated “I should go so far as to say that nobody would blame any lawyer for having passed the title.”

There is now no question as to the true legal position, that matter having been settled finally by the Supreme Court decision; but it has been recognised all through by those who devoted thought to the case that, admitting the truth and weight of the decision in law, there remains the aspect of equity; and I wish to say that that aspect has been much exercising the Government. After mature consideration, it has been decided to introduce at an early date a Special Estimate to enable an interim grant to be paid to Messrs. Moore, who make no secret of the fact that the loss of their property has placed them in a serious plight financially. At the moment I am not in a position to indicate the amount of the proposed interim payment, and [1967] there are reasons why a grant ex gratia in full settlement could not at this stage be proposed. There would be, for instance, the obvious objection to setting a standard for compensation in respect of the fisheries to be acquired under this Bill. I felt, however, that the present was an opportune time at which to make the House and the public aware of the Government's intentions in the case.

Mr. McMenamin:  In that connection, would the Minister say—to cut out a lot of other stuff—with regard to the costs incurred up to the moment in the Moy case, has he any opinion on that?

Dr. Ryan:  I may have an opinion on it.

We have now reached Part V of the Bill which, it will be seen, has been sub-divided into six chapters. It is reasonable to anticipate that we shall have a considerable amount of discussion on these proposals when we come to the Committee Stage; and it may, therefore, be best if I refrain now from attempting to deal with sections and confine my self to outlining the broad principles upon which the scheme is based. All that is in mind is a purely business transaction undertaken by the State in the interest of the State. So far as concerns the parties now in possession of those privately held fisheries, there will be no question of confiscation or even of expropriation (in the true sense of the word). Most of these properties have probably changed hands at one time or another in the past; and now, instead of a transfer from individual A to individual B on a cash basis, it will be a transfer from the holder to the State on a fair compensatory basis to be duly assessed by an arbitrator. On the other hand, to anyone who may feel solicitous as to the results of such a scheme from the viewpoint of the general taxpayer, it can be said with confidence that there is no need for worry. The scheme provides for a transition period during which these fisheries will continue to be worked by the present holders, subject [1968] to the right of the Minister to gather, by means of statutory returns or the personal observation of specially appointed agents, all necessary information as to the commercial operation of these fisheries. Then, at the close of the transition period, when the physical transfer takes place, there will be available for the arbitrator very full data upon which to assess compensation, and for the Minister adequate knowledge as to the working of the property. In other words, the State will pay a fair price for the business as a going concern, and there is no reason to suppose that the State will not be competent to continue the conduct of that business on a satisfactory basis.

It is not, however, unreasonable to ask why the State should go to all this bother instead of leaving these fisheries as they are. I suggest that to anyone who has been following the trend of affairs with regard to these fisheries in recent years the answer must be obvious. There is no disguising the fact that people in the vicinity of these several or exclusive fisheries look on the possession in private hands of such property as a survival of feudalism which ought not to be tolerated in a democratic State. Let me make it clear, however, that to understand (partly at least) the outlook of these people does not necessarily imply a defence of their attitude. From the evidence tendered by some of their spokesmen to the Inland Fisheries Commission in 1934, and specially referred to in the commission's report under the heading “nationalisation,” it would seem that in many cases the idea in mind was that the private owner should be bought out at State expense, and the fishery then thrown open to exploitation by some undefined section of the local fishermen.

These people never visualised that the alternative to private ownership is public ownership, and that in the latter condition, no matter how close to a river a man might reside, he would have no preferential right to fish there as compared with any other citizen of the State at whatever distance resident. [1969] It is, however, the fact that all this unrest and dissatisfaction among the local residents has been yielding very bad results. We are constantly hearing of trespass upon private fisheries, and in many cases the holders of the fisheries are at a loss as to how they may combat such trespass. If the case comes to the District Court, the trespassers generally raise the question of title. That puts the case out of the District Court's jurisdiction, and it means the holders must undertake what will probably be a tedious and costly legal action to establish their title to the property.

One of the principal recommendations made by the Inland Fisheries Commission was the taking over from the present holders of estuarine and weir fisheries. But that recommendation was interwoven with several others. These fisheries were to be vested in a central fishery board, a body to be endowed with very extensive powers, including the settlement of compensation awards in respect of the fisheries taken over and also the responsibility for the future working of such fisheries. The Government, having carefully considered the recommendations as made by this commission, decided that their adoption in the form proposed was not desirable. While, however, deciding to reject those portions of the recommendations which envisaged the setting up of a central board by whom trap-weirs would be erected and worked on all salmon rivers (in lieu of the present system of netting, which would be abolished) the Government reached the conclusion that, dealt with in a modified way, this proposal with regard to the taking over of estuarine and weir fisheries might, with advantage, be adopted.

Reduced to its simplest form, the argument in favour of this scheme, which is the subject of Sections 58 to 95 of this Bill, may be put as follows. There are at present persons holding these fisheries in a private capacity whose right to do so is under constant challenge. On the other hand, there are local residents whose outlook seems to be that by challenging the right of the present holders they (the locals) automatically become entitled [1970] to take and enjoy the fishery for themselves. Clearly, the solution of the problem lies in the taking over of such fisheries by the State to be worked in future for the benefit of the State, otherwise the general taxpayer. Surely there can be no sound objection adduced against the adoption of such a scheme.

Chapter II (Sections 59 to 70) is the chapter which purports to effect the transfer of the fisheries of which I have just been speaking. It will be seen that the scheme has been planned to operate gradually in a well-ordered manner, over a period of years. Although the Minister is given the option of completing the transfer of a specific fishery (if he sees fit) after a spell of from three years upwards, following receipt of the report of the engineer-surveyor, it is not improbable that in most cases the full transition period will be needed so as to ensure that the change over to the Minister may be effected under conditions fully suited to the State's requirements. In exceptional cases the Minister may find it necessary to avail of his power to extend somewhat the normal transition period.

Again, it will be noted that this measure is designed to be worked by areas of fishery districts. As is generally known, a fishery district is the area of jurisdiction of a board of conservators and consists territorially of the watersheds of the rivers flowing into the sea between two given points on our coastline. There are, in all, 23 such districts. The first step will be to make an order in respect of a particular district nominating a date to be the “appointed day” from which will begin the transition period for every estuarine and weir fishery privately held within that district. I have already explained that the Minister, notwithstanding the normal duration of the transition period as one of ten years, has the option of completing the transfer earlier. In like manner, the holder of the fishery is given, in Section 59 (3), the right to claim a similar option on his side.

This chapter then proceeds by Section 60 to confer upon a person duly authorised in that behalf by the [1971] Minister, the right of access to fisheries for survey work during the transition period. Then follow the provisions with regard to the preparation of what are called survey records; and I feel I cannot do better than invite Deputies to peruse for themselves the details in that respect so clearly set forth in Section 61. We next have an obligation laid upon the holders of transferable fisheries to furnish to the Minister, throughout the transition period, certain particulars regarding the working of these fisheries. This is an obvious necessity in the case.

Inasmuch as it may occasionally happen that there immediately adjoins a weir fishery certain angling waters in the same ownership and the user of which is, as it were, interdigitated with that of the weir—that is to say, the one could hardly be operated without danger of trespass upon the other —then, in such a case, the angling rights will be worked by the Minister. On the other hand, if the owner of angling rights which are included in a transferable fishery considers that he can still work these rights to advantage, he is given, by Section 64, the right to ask that such angling be reserved to him, and the Minister will in such circumstances, make an Order accordingly.

The provisions with regard to formal vesting and registration of title in fisheries, at the end of the transition period, are laid down clearly in Sections 65 and 66. Likewise, the conditions regarding the compensation payable, respectively, to those from whom fisheries are taken over and to those who may possibly find their employment adversely affected, are set out very fully in Sections 67 and 68. There follow, in Sections 69 and 70, certain consequential arrangements.

In Chapter III (Sections 71 and 72), the provisions are simply of an enabling character to facilitate transfers, where such are found desirable, of fisheries to the Minister from the Commissioners of Public Works and the Irish Land Commission, respectively.

Chapter IV (Sections 73 and 74).—[1972] Hereby is proposed to be conferred upon the Minister the obviously necessary power of acquiring lands, premises and so forth where needed for the commercial operation of the fisheries transferred to him; and for the payment of compensation in respect of lands or amenities so acquired.

Chapter V (Sections 75 to 86).—We have here contained all the provisions proposed with regard to the operation or disposal of fisheries once they have been transferred to the Minister. He is empowered either to work them commercially or to lease them, or, where economic considerations may indicate such a course, cease to use or work any of them for the time being. This power to lease will probably not be much exercised, but it is clearly necessary to have it conferred. The non-user of fisheries will likewise be quite exceptional; but circumstances are conceivable (such as the introduction of a hydro-electric scheme), in which an erstwhile profitable fishery might temporarily become unremunerative, and, therefore, this authority to cease operations is necessary and desirable. I do not think there is much, if anything, contained in Chapter VI (Sections 87 to 95) which is not self-explanatory.

This brings me to the final portion of the Bill, namely, Part VI, and, as I indicated in my opening remarks, there is not much need for a detailed commentary by me, with the exception of the opening section, on which I would like to say a few words. As regards Section 96, by all three of the commissions set up to inquire into the inland fisheries of this country, and which reported in the years 1901, 1911 and in 1935, respectively, comment was made upon the obvious need for intensified scientific research into the life history of salmon and trout, the knowledge of which is so very limited in proportion to the importance of these fisheries as a national asset. A sine qua non for a properly-planned scheme of scientific investigation in this matter would be the absolute control by the Minister and his Department of a suitable river from its source to the point at which it [1973] enters the sea. Such a project was discussed by official witnesses at one of the earlier commissions, the members of which expressed themselves as being favourably impressed by it. Subsequently, Departmental action was taken and the project was brought a certain distance; but, for lack of statutory authority with regard to the provision of funds, the scheme was dropped and has lain in abeyance for many years. All that is proposed is, as set out in sub-section (1) of this section, namely, to “take on lease any fishery,” that is to say, all the fisheries comprised in a river deemed to be fully suitable for the purpose in mind. There are not many such rivers in the country. This is, to my mind, a scheme that is definitely necessary if we are to make the most of our salmon and trout fisheries, and I strongly recommend the acceptance of it by the House.

Section 97.—The service of documents which is a matter dealt with herein is, as will be seen, one of a purely routine nature and self-explanatory.

Sections 98 to 102.—An official witness having called the attention of the Inland Fisheries Commission in 1934 to the need for certain amendments in procedure, as settled in the earlier statutes, with regard to fishery offences, the members of the commission gave the matter consideration, and in their report recommended the adoption of such amendments. The amendments in question had reference to the following:—“Form of conviction,”“form of dismissal,”“appeals from district court,”“how offences may be tried (and prosecutions instituted),” and “proof of by-laws, etc.” All these are dealt with fully in the sections mentioned.

It only remains to make a few explanatory remarks on the contents of the Schedule to this Bill. The repeal of Section 78 of the Fisheries Act, 1842, has direct reference to the remarks which I made upon Section 23 of the present Bill. That is to say, we are now seeking to consolidate the various provisions in earlier statutes dealing with the use of the instruments named.

[1974] Section 101 of the 1842 Act concerns appeals in the old style to quarter sessions, for which is being substituted the procedure mentioned in Section 100 of this Bill. Section 102 of the 1842 Act has reference to the exercise of the prerogative of mercy by the former Lords Lieutenant.

Section 40 of the Fisheries Act, 1850, deals with the use of the otters and spears, etc., already mentioned. Section 50 of the same Act contains a “form of conviction” and is now replaced by Section 98 of the Bill Section 51 of the 1850 Act provides for certain appeals to judges of assize—a procedure replaced by Section 100 of this Bill. Sections 52 and 53 of the same Act also cover matters now fully provided for by Sections 99 and 100 of this Bill. The Acts of 1863 and 1870, respectively, are those to which I already adverted in my comments upon Section 41 of the Bill. That section completely replaces both the Acts.

The fifth item simply clarifies a point already settled virtually by Section 28 of the Fisheries Act, 1925, to which I adverted when speaking on Section 49 of this Bill. Section 5 of the Fisheries Act, 1924, hereby being repealed, also deals with the matter of otters and spears, etc., to which I have already referred and which is now fully covered by Section 23 of the present Bill.

Section 26 of the Fisheries Act, 1925, deals, to an extent, with the power to dissolve boards of conservators. That power is more suitably conferred and defined by Section 18 of the present Bill. Section 35 of the 1925 Act contains yet another of the many scattered provisions with regard to spears and otters, etc., which are now being consolidated in the present Bill. Sub-section (1) of Section 37 of the 1925 Act deals with the method of prosecution in respect of fishery offences, the position with regard to which is now being clarified by the terms of Section 101 of the present Bill.

I have already explained fully how sub-section 14 (3) of the Fisheries (Tidal Waters) Act, 1934, the whole of the [1975] Fisheries (Tidal Waters) (Amendment) Act, 1935, and the whole of the Fisheries (Tidal Waters) (Amendment) Act, 1937, are being superseded by the provisions contained in Part III (Sections 51 to 56) of the present Bill.

In conclusion, let me say that, while the provisions of Parts III, IV and V of this Bill are to be taken as representing in their present form the considered policy of the Government, I am quite ready to examine any suggestions from Deputies with regard to the provisions of Part II, particularly provisions like those in Section 9 (trout rod licences), Section 12 (net licences), Section 16 (representation of trout anglers on boards of conservators) and Section 27 (inclusion of October in the close season).

Mr. Fionán Lynch:  This Bill happened to be circulated to Deputies and to the Press on the same date and, as far as Deputies were concerned, in the the same envelope, as another Bill, the Offences Against the State Bill. I am afraid that took from the Fisheries Bill a good deal of its pep as far as news was concerned. Speaking from what I know of Deputies, I should say there were very few of them chose it as their raison dire in preference to the Offences Against the State Bill. Such criticism as we have had of the Bill in the papers came some days after its circulation and then mostly by letters from various associations and soforth throughout the country. The actual criticism, that I have seen at any rate, in the Press of the Bill has been largely directed towards portions of the Bill which are of very little comparative importance when you take into account the very revolutionary character of this Bill taken as a whole, because this Bill does create a revolution in our fishery proprietorship and in our whole outlook on our salmon and fresh water fisheries. There was not one reference in the papers to socialism. Not one paper challenged the Minister about embracing socialism or called him a socialist, and I do not think that even those papers who favour that particular aspect of economics welcomed him to their ranks. But, in fact, Part V of [1976] this Bill is, of course, socialism. Let me say at once that I am with the Minister in the principles embodied in Part V, so, to that extent, I too am a socialist, but let me say, for fear the Deputies might think otherwise, no further or otherwise. Part V, of which Part IV, I should say, is a corollary, because Part IV provides for the title, is only one part of the Bill.

I might as well deal with Part IV before I go on. Part IV provides for establishing the title of the proprietor of fisheries in tidal waters, and I think it is a most ingenious provision. It is a provision that it would be a long time before I would think of myself and it will avoid very considerable difficulties. The Minister's title, when he has taken over these fisheries, by virtue of Part IV, will be an indefeasible title; it will be unchallengeable by anybody. That is an extremely important matter when the State is embarking on a matter of this kind. But even prior to his taking over, it relieves the proprietors of these fisheries of an amount of examination of title and of the proving of title which would be extremely costly and, in very many cases, very difficult. This Part provides that if a fishery is included as a rateable hereditament in the valuation list for a period of 60 years prior to 1932, that in itself makes the title. As I say, I think that that is an extremely sound provision and will relieve the proprietors of a great deal of difficulty in establishing their title and will, at the same time, give the Minister an indefeasible right once he has taken them over. That is an important matter for the State.

There is just this point: we have a Valuation Bill going through the House and we got a White Paper on the history of valuation in the country. The valuation system which at present exists is the Griffith valuation under the Act of 1850, which did not finish its labours until 1865, that is, about 74 years ago. The Minister, in his statement, has pointed out that the inspectors of fisheries, or the commissioners of fisheries, whatever they were at the particular time, had a great number of cases pending as late [1977] as the 1870's, and if those cases were then pending, there is just a chance that they would not have been included in valuation lists up to the time that it had actually been decided that they lawfully existed.

There is another matter: it may not be possible in all cases for the director of valuation to give a certificate going back as far as 60 years. Now, if his records for the particular area go back 60 years and it is not included, that is all right—we know where we are, but if he fails to have records at all for, say, the area in which a fishery of this type is situate, I think there ought to be some elasticity in the provision to allow the next best thing, as it were, to a 60 years' certificate. That is a matter that I would like the Minister to consider before the Committee Stage.

As to the principle enshrined in Part V, there is no question, I think, but that that will commend itself to everybody in the country, because while the old proprietors held those fisheries in many cases on title that had been established several times in the courts, that did not prevent them from being a source of attack and of envy by persons abutting on the fisheries. A provision of the kind embodied in Part V has become an urgent matter since the Erne Fishery decision which the Minister referred to in his statement. Very many persons thought, because of the decision given in the case of Moore v. Attorney-General, that that should automatically, without any further consideration, govern all those proprietary fisheries, and many of them proceeded to act accordingly. The proprietors of fisheries have had a very bad time since that decision was given by reason of the fact that local men thought that they also should exercise a public right of fishing wherever those private fisheries were found. Now, there was no justification, of course, for any such thing. I regret to say that, I am afraid, the proprietors were not given such support in establishing their rights as they were entitled to as rate-paying citizens in the country. After this Bill becomes law it will take a considerable time before those [1978] fisheries are taken over. I suggest, therefore, to the Minister that he should put it to the Minister for Justice that, pending the taking over of those fisheries, those raids should be very definitely stopped.

These fisheries are going to be an asset to the State, and it is up to the Minister to see that the property of the State will be secured in the years that intervene between the present proprietary ownership and ownership by the State. I think he should get the Minister for Justice to see that the Guards will do everything in their power to prevent these fishing waters being raided in the interval before they are acquired by the State. Otherwise, the Minister may be acquiring something that will not be worth taking.

What is proposed here is going to cost a good deal of money. The Minister did not refer to that and I do not blame him for it. It would be extremely difficult to estimate what Part V of the Bill is going to cost. If it costs less than £2,000,000 the State will be getting out of it reasonably cheap. If the State is going to spend anything like that sum of money in acquiring these fisheries, then it is up to the State to see that what it is acquiring will be value for the money, and there is no question or doubt but that they can be very good value for the money.

Let me say, since I did refer to the Moore v. Attorney-General case—the Erne fishery case—that I think every right-minded man in the country will applaud the action of the Government in their manner of tackling the particular situation there. In law, it was found that they had no case. The Minister referred to the discussion on the Tidal Waters Fishery Act of 1934, and to the statement by the Attorney-General: that as regards the title, nobody would blame counsel for having passed that title. I could push it a bit further than that. As one who does a certain amount of practice as a conveyancing counsel, I would say this: that 99 conveyancing counsel out of 100 would have accepted a Landed Estates Court conveyance as a perfect root of title because that is what we [1979] were taught in the textbooks. Every young law student, prior to the date of the Erne fishery decision, was taught as an axiom on title: that a Landed Estates Court conveyance is a perfect root of title. Since then, I need not tell Deputies, counsel have begun to look behind a landed estates conveyance. At any rate, a decision was given and that decision stands. But I for my part, and I think every man who knows anything about the history of that case, will join in approving very strongly of the action of the Government in making some ex gratia payment to Messrs Moore. I entirely agree with the Minister that it is much better that at this stage he should give no indication as to what the amount will be—that is, in the interim between now and the introduction of a special Estimate to deal with it— because, as the Minister himself pointed out, the arbitrator might subsequently think that here was a basis on which he might fix compensation for other fisheries.

There is no confiscation in this Bill. Once a man has title, as arranged for in Part IV, he will be paid compensation in the ordinary way by the arbitrator if he fails to agree with the Minister as to the amount he should get. That, I think, is perfectly fair. I do not think that anybody has had any quarrel with the arbitrator's decisions in other cases of the kind: for instance, in cases dealing with lands and fisheries taken over in connection with the Shannon scheme. The arbitrator has a fixed basis under the Land Assessment Compensation Act of 1919.

I have said that this is going to take a considerable time, and of necessity it must. The earliest date on which any fishery can be taken over is three years—36 months after the appointed day. At the very least it will be more than three years. The Minister is allowing himself a transition period of ten years. I put it to him that it will take him 30 years if he does not make provision for his record survey. Anybody can see from what is wanted, in regard to that record survey, as set [1980] out in Section 61, that for the men engaged on it it is going to be a highly technical job. You have very few men, in fact I do not know that you have any except one man who is attached to the Department of Fisheries, who would be capable of doing it at the moment. It happens, unfortunately, that he is a very old man and must be near his retiring age. I put it to the Minister that, if he wants to keep within the four walls of the Bill and to finish the job in anything like ten years, he ought to go immediately to the Minister for Finance for sanction for the training of young engineers on the very technical job involved in the case of those proprietary fisheries— looking after weirs, mill dams, and so on. The Minister is fortunate in having at his disposal the man that he has for the purpose of training those men. I ought to say, perhaps, that, when the Minister is using him for this purpose, he should not use him to the extent of killing him off quickly.

I think it is due from me, as a former Minister for Fisheries, to say that anybody knowing anything about the working of that Department and the value of the man, when he was there—that the Minister has suffered a very great loss in the death of his chief inspector of fisheries, Mr. Charles Green. He would have been of inestimable value in helping the Minister to put this Bill into effect. I think it is due from me, after my very long association with him in that Department, to pay that tribute.

I agree with the principle embodied in Part V of the Bill, but that does not mean that I will not ask the Minister to alter it on one or two points during the Committee Stage. While I welcome in part the last sentence in his statement, I am just wondering what exactly the ramifications of it may be. The Minister stated that while the provisions of Parts III, IV and V of the Bill are to be taken as representing in their present form the considered policy of the Government, he was quite ready to examine any suggestions from Deputies with regard to the provisions of Part II, mentioning the Parts. I should like to [1981] know from the Minister if he has in his mind that he will take amendments to these Parts of the Bill, but that he is going to stand firm on what the Department put up to him in regard to Part V. There have been complaints that Ministers have been developing the habit of coming to the House and standing by their Departmental briefs, refusing to listen to any suggestions from any part of the House in the way of amendments. I hope the Minister is not going to take up that attitude in regard to this Bill.

I can assure him from this side of the House that my aim, and the aim of any Deputies with whom I have discussed the matter, is that we shall turn out in this the very best possible piece of legislation for our fisheries for the future. No amendment is going to be put up from this side of the House with any political motive or for any other purpose than with a view to improving the Bill. The Minister can take it that there will be no politics played so far as this part of the House is concerned in dealing with any portion of the Bill. I should say with regard to Part V that it does not leave itself open to any political divisions. It is a part on which Deputies will have to put their heads together and go into the matter very thoroughly so as to thrash out the best arrangement possible in the circumstances. Very naturally, we will have to be guided by the Department, which has all the experience. I might say, from my own reading of the Bill, that for a subject which is so very technical the Department deserves a pat on the back, as well as the draftsman who drafted it, because it is an extremely well-drafted Bill.

Having done with the patting on the back, let me come to some points which I want to raise. I am keeping to Part V first, because I consider it far the most important portion of the Bill. Section 68 provides, very rightly, for compensation to the manual employees in the tidal water fisheries which are being taken over, and I think that nobody can seriously quarrel with the scale of compensation provided; at any rate, I am making no point on that. But there is a point [1982] which I should like to put to the Minister and that is, that there are clerical officers, managers and secretaries and so on, in many of these fisheries who may also lose their employment, and I think the Minister should give some indication of what he intends to do with them. I would be the last to overburden the State with big compensation in any of these cases, but, at the same time, there are men who may lose their employment. If the Minister could assure these men that they will be employed by him on no less remunerative terms than they are at present, that would be quite sufficient and would be much better than paying compensation. I suggest that the Minister will very probably want them for a number of years, even after he has taken over the fisheries. So far as they are concerned, the matter does not arise at all inside three years, as nothing is going to happen inside three years. When the fisheries are being taken over that question will arise, and I am afraid that we will have to deal with it, and it should be dealt with in this Bill. I put it to the Minister that he ought to consider that matter between this and the Committee Stage, because it is only he can deal with it. I cannot put down an amendment dealing with the matter as it would be out of order. No private Deputy can put down an amendment to deal with that, because it would be creating a charge on public funds. I put it to the Minister that he should either bring in an amendment to provide compensation for these officials of the proprietors, or else give them some guarantee that they will be continued in their employment on terms no less remunerative than they have at present.

As I am asking the Minister to bring in an amendment on that point, I will mention at this stage also Section 35, though it is not actually in this Part of the Bill. That section provides for the abolition of netting in fresh waters, and provides, very rightly, for compensation to the proprietors of these fisheries; but it makes no provision for the employees of these proprietors, and there are some employees, although there are not many. There are some at [1983] Muckross in Killarney and some in the Drogheda area. I think there are some others in Kerry besides the Killarney men. I think they are mostly confined to Kerry, except perhaps some in the Drogheda area. I am speaking without the book in that matter, and there may be men scattered over the country. We may take it, however, that there are so few of these fisheries worked otherwise than by a man and his family that the number of persons concerned will be small. There is absolutely no case whatever for paying compensation to men employed in tidal waters and not paying it to men employed in the fresh water fisheries whose livelihood is abolished in the same way. As a matter of fact, these men in some ways have a stronger claim; because whatever hope the men in the tidal waters have of getting employment under the Minister when he takes over these fisheries, the men working in the fresh water fisheries have no chance whatever because netting is abolished for good. I approve of that abolition and I think everybody does. It has long been the cry that netting in fresh water should be abolished, and I commend the Minister for that provision.

Before I leave that portion of the Bill, I should like again to stress that we are entering on a new era at the date of the passing of this Bill. He should use all his influence with the other necessary Departments to see that the raiding of these fisheries will now stop. The Minister will, when he takes over these fisheries, take over an asset that is worth taking and he will see that the fisheries will not, between now and the actual taking over, be destroyed. I will just look at the earlier portions of the Bill and in dealing with them I will do so as briefly as I can. There is little in Part I, apart from the definition sections, except one matter with reference to Section 9. I am unhappy about Section 6. I will be perfectly candid with the Minister. I am not quite clear about the basis of my unhappiness. This section is making a change, and I think the Minister at this stage ought not to do anything that would disturb what I might call, [1984] for want of a better word, the present equilibrium of his boards of conservators, except the disturbance that will be caused by the inclusion of the trout men. In that I am in agreement with the Minister, but there is a chance that one may throw down the balance on one side or the other as a result of Section 6. If that would be its effect I would ask the Minister to reconsider it. I am not quite clear that that would be the effect of it. Section 7 is one on which some doubts may arise. I take it that this is purely and simply for the purpose of voting.

Dr. Ryan:  Yes.

Mr. Lynch:  There is nothing in Section 8 to which I need refer. Section 9 provides for a licence duty on trout rod fishing for the first time. This is the thing in the Bill which has caused all the furore, the 5/- a year for the licence. That is 1¼d. a week. I have seen some of the most ridiculous statements in letters to the papers in regard to this particular section. The Minister has said that this is a question on which he has an open mind. I hope myself he will stick to his guns. On this matter there are very many different views in the House. I quite agree that persons can have different views on this matter. There are different views on it on this side of the House. Deputy Dillon made it plain when the Minister was speaking that he was strongly opposed to this section. I am as strongly in favour of the provision, subject to certain modifications. Like every other Deputy, I have been deluged with circulars from anglers' associations about this question of licences. I have read the letters that have appeared in the papers, but they have all left me cold. Perhaps that is due to the fact that I was for a long time in charge of the Department of Fisheries and the man who was as long in the Department of Fisheries as I was is an extraordinary man if he does not develop the hide of a rhinoceros. I have seen statements from these anglers' associations that this would ruin the anglers. However, I gather from most of them that they [1985] were more concerned about the ruin of their own associations than of the anglers. One will find in the letters that their real concern is in regard to their own tin-pot association and not angling.

Mr. Everett:  No.

Mr. Lynch:  I am entitled to express my views and other Deputies will have as strong views in their own way. Somebody told me the Minister brought in this section for a 5/- licence, because he heard I was taking up trout rod fishing. Some of the other statements made in these letters were just as ridiculous as that.

Mr. Everett:  Not as ridiculous as the Fisheries Association.

Mr. Lynch:  For many years the grievance of trout anglers has been that they have never had any representation on the boards of conservators. Here now is a chance of getting that representation. Here is provision made for that. They had a real grievance in the past, in the fact that they were not represented on these boards. That grievance is now being removed. They are being charged 5/- a year for a trout rod licence and in return for that they get representation on the boards of conservators where their views can be heard; where they can have a legitimate claim. They will then have no need to go “scrounging” to the Minister for a beggarly £10 grant for their association. They can make a definite claim and demand that their own particular branch of sport should get support for their hatcheries for brown trout, so that they will be in a stronger position to make a claim than they have been heretofore or until this Bill was brought in.

One ridiculous statement I saw was that this licence may not be merely 5/- but 50/- a year. The Minister has told us that there were 23 districts and these people say that a person might have to pay not 5/- but 115/- a year. What angler is going to run around to ten districts not to mention 23 districts? In my own county there [1986] happens to be three or four districts —Waterville, Killarney, Kenmare, and portions of the Limerick district in the north end of the county. I would like to know what man who fishes in Waterville would go as far as the Shannon? Except a tripper, where is the angler who visits anything more than four fisheries in any season? A lot of rubbish has been talked of the danger of this licensing running from 5/- to 50/-. Even as it stands it would not run to more than £1 a year. I would agree when starting off with this provision of 5/- trout rod licences that there should be no charge as one goes into another district. The Minister should make that provision. But if he does not make the 5/- licence applicable to the whole country I suggest that he should take a leaf out of the provision with regard to the salmon rod licences and that there should be an endorsement so that when the fisherman goes into another district only one-fourth of the fishery licence should be paid. That would be only 1/3 a year for the second district, but it would be far better for the Minister to decide at the start that the 5/- licence should apply to the whole country. There are of course objections to that, but I think when starting for the first time to impose a licence on trout rods the Minister might make that concession. All the tears that have been shed about trout rod licences have been shed about the small boys. But a great many fellows who were talking about the small boys were only thinking of their own 5/-.

I would like if the Minister would make some provision whereby boys under 16 or 17 years of age would be allowed to fish free. The Minister might as well do it, because no sensible board of conservators is going out after a boy with his sally rod, a bit of cord and a pin. They would only make themselves ridiculous if they did and it is too bad to have a statute which is being laughed at in that way. I think the Minister ought to accept an amendment whereby boys under 16 or 17 years of age would be free to fish for trout.

There is one point more that I want to make on this section. In sub-section [1987] (3) of Section 9 he applies certain old sections of the Fisheries Act, 1848, and the Fisheries Act, 1869. With regard to Section 30 of the Fisheries Act, 1848, there is a proviso in that which is to some extent repealed by sub-section (4) of Section 12 of the 1925 Act. As the thing now stands, if we do not read the 1925 Act, the Minister is applying to this trout rod licence something which makes the thing ridiculous, because there is this proviso:—“Provided always that if any person shall have paid a licence duty for a rod within any district as aforesaid such person shall not be liable to pay an additional sum for a licence in any other district by reason only of angling with a rod in any other district.” That was modified in the 1925 Act, when we arranged about the endorsement. I am not satisfied that that is sufficient modification of that proviso if the Minister intends to insist on applying the trout rod licence to every district. This is where I want to refer back to the definition. The definition of a trout rod licence in Section 3 is: “the expression `trout rod licence' means a licence to fish with single rod and line for trout.” There have been persons charged in the past with using a couple of salmon rods and line at the same time. I believe that it was not uncommon to use various types of bait, even flies, with a couple of rods fishing at the same time. There was a case in 1915—that of the Limerick clerk; Alton v. Irvine, reported in 1915 reports—where it was decided that a person would have to have a licence for each rod. That is not very prevalent with salmon anglers, but it is quite prevalent with trout anglers. To tell you the truth, I have not seen it, but I am told it is quite prevalent with trout anglers, and I do not think it is a thing which the Minister ought to put out of existence. If a fellow goes out with a couple of rods fishing at the same time, slings a worm out over the stream on one, then slings another, I do not think that the Minister should insist on a licence for each one of those trout rods. The matter can be easily adjusted by a small amendment.

With regard to Section 11, I agree that the holding of the salmon rod [1988] licence should also include a trout rod licence—that the greater should include the lesser, as the Minister himself put it in his statement. I am afraid that I have to oppose the Minister rather strongly with regard to portion of the provision made in Section 12. In that section the Minister proposes to provide for a licence duty of £5 for draft nets or seines, and a licence duty of £5 for drift nets of any length. At present the drift net licence is £4, and the draft net licence £4, as fixed in the 1925 Act. The Minister is probably aware how that lopsided arrangement occurred. Deputies who were in the House at the time may remember it. The proposal of the Department at the time— I am speaking, of course, from memory, and the Minister will be easily able to correct me if I am wrong —was £2 for a single salmon rod, with 10/- endorsement; snap nets, £2 10/-; and draft nets, £4. The proposal that I had for drift nets was this—everybody knows that a drift net is an equally destructive weapon—we proposed a basic rate of £4 for the ordinary drift net, and where the drift nets exceeded 1,000 yards a 10/- extra licence for every 500 yards over 1,000. That is my recollection. That was particularly applicable to the Donegal coast area, because there you have drift nets extending to over a mile in length. I was foolish enough, or innocent enough, to leave that provision to a free vote of the House, and my friend, the late Deputy Eugene Doherty, took advantage of it, canvassed Deputies against me, and defeated me. He was perfectly entitled to do that. It was left to a free vote. Deputy Doherty at the time felt very keenly about this matter for his Donegal fishermen, and succeeded in beating me. The result has been that the licensing provisions in the 1925 Act are undoubtedly lopsided, if I may use the expression. The drift net licence has got off during the past 14 years with far too little—at least £1 too little. I think the Minister should retain the £4 draft net, and go back to that provision which we then intended in 1925, that is, the £4 basic rate for drift nets, with 10/- increase, as I outlined, for [1989] every 500 yards over 1,000. I think if he agrees to a provision of that kind I will support him on the increase in the drift nets. That again, of course, is a matter on which very largely I am speaking for myself. Deputies will have different views on this matter and some will not agree with my views at all.

The Minister, of course, says, and very rightly says, that a great deal of benefit will accrue to those persons as a result of the closing down of netting of fresh waters—that they will get the benefit later on. Well, he does not say later on; he is imposing the duty now. I put it to him that he is making a case for increasing those duties in the year 1944—for the spring run of salmon in the year 1944. That will be the time, or later. I am assuming that this Act will be passed in a reasonable time and that the fresh-water fishing will be abolished before the next spawning season. In 1944 fishermen generally will begin to benefit from the abolishing of that fresh-water netting. He has made a case for increasing the licence at that date, but no earlier, I submit. With regard to Section 13, I will just say one word. Provision is made there for the forfeiture of the licence on conviction of fishery offences, but it does not say for what time. I put it to the Minister that there are fellows whom it will pay very well to go out and commit a fishery offence, to come before the court and be fined and have their licences forfeited, and then go straight away as they leave the court and buy another licence. Far be it from me to reduce the funds of the boards of conservators, but you may take it from me that there will be cases of that kind, and I think the Minister ought to make a provision that the licence may be forfeited during the course of that particular fishing season. I just mention it to the Minister for his consideration.

I will just jump now to Section 16, which provides for representation for the trout anglers. For generations this is what they have been crying out for. They are getting it. They are getting representation on boards of [1990] conservators, at least one on every board, and on some boards, where you have a big number of anglers, two representatives. It may be said to me: “That will not give them very much weight,” but that is absurd. The natural alignment inside a board of conservators will be the sporting interests versus the commercial interests. There will be an immediate alliance between the salmon-rod men and the trout-rod men. They will have the support of the salmon-rod men on every matter on which they want their support for the benefit of trout angling. A very large number of those angling associations are maintained largely by subscriptions from salmon anglers, persons licensed for salmon as well as trout. These angling associations are not confined solely to trout anglers; they are largely composed of persons who fish also for salmon. The man who goes into a board of conservators as a representative of the trout anglers will have the full support of every salmon angler represented on the board. That is a most valuable provision, and it is well worth 5/-. Any weight I have in the matter, I recommend Deputies to urge the Minister to continue that provision, because if the provision for the 5/- trout licence goes, so also of necessity must go that provision for representation on the boards of conservators. I think Deputies ought to consider carefully before they oppose that provision for a trout rod licence. The more you look into the matter, the more value one can see that the trout angler gets from the provisions of this Bill. There are some small points that can be referred to in Committee in connection with that matter.

There is a question arising in Section 17 with regard to inquiries into the affairs of boards of conservators. This refers to the type of inquiry held prior to a possible dissolution of a board, the members of which might not be doing their job properly. I have no fault to find with anything like that. I think that is a provision that is quite necessary, but the Minister, I think, should bear the cost of the inquiry. These boards want all they have for fishery preservation purposes. The [1991] Minister should not use all the funds of the boards of conservators to pay the cost of sending down some inspector to hold the inquiry. I do not know what the procedure is in the Local Government Department with regard to local inquiries where local authorities are concerned. I am wondering whether the cost of a local government inquiry is borne by the local rates. It may be. If it is, that is in favour of the Minister; if it is not, it is very much against the Minister. Even if it were the case that local government inquiries were held at the expense of the local ratepayer, I put it to the Minister that he should not carry out that practice in the case of inquiries into the working of boards of conservators. The fact is that they cannot afford to bear the cost of inquiries.

As regards Section 18, the dissolution section, I think the Minister ought to have a provision setting out that the board should not be dissolved for any period longer than the particular term of office then in existence. Take it, that a board has been elected. The Minister will see in six months' time whether they are doing their job properly. If they are not, an inquiry will be held. He will have the report in a couple of weeks. Within nine months the Minister will know the position. There will be then a little over two years to run in the life of the board. I suggest the period of dissolution ought not to extend beyond the next ordinary election.

I think Section 19 is far too drastic, though the Minister will know that I am anything but a sympathiser with any person who infringes the fishery laws. But it is the limit to say that a person guilty of an offence would be permanently disqualified. That makes no allowance for the penitent sinner, the person who may become quite repentant and a model citizen subsequently. I agree there should be a period of disqualification, and I would not find fault if the Minister proposed that the disqualification from sitting on a board should cover seven years.

I would like to bring the provisions of Section 19 into juxtaposition with [1992] Section 28, which deals with a breach of the weekly close season. Does the Minister realise what the two sections would mean side by side? Section 28 means that if a man owns a fishery engine in tidal waters, if somebody under his control uses that, even against the will of the proprietor, during the weekly close season, the employer, the owner, the proprietor, is guilty of an offence. Suppose there was a trade dispute and the men were on strike and one of them, as a matter of spite, in order to get the proprietor into very serious trouble, went along during the weekly close season and committed a breach of the fishery laws, the proprietor of the fisheries would be removed for life from being an ex-officio conservator or from election as a conservator. That is entirely too severe and I hope the Minister will accept an amendment with regard to both sections to limit the period to seven years in the case of Section 19, and to modify Section 28. It is rather premature for me to be dealing with Section 28, but it just fitted in when I was dealing with Section 19.

I have nothing to say on Section 20. Section 21 makes provision for carrying over the clerk of the new board. I wish the Minister could find some way of appointing these men permanently, both the clerk and the inspector of bailiffs, the head bailiff—the inspector of fisheries, I think he is called now. These men are in an extraordinary position. Part of their job is to raid their own employers. A man may be an employer in connection with fisheries. It is the job of the inspector to see that in using that particular fishery his employer does not commit any fishery offence. We know of cases where inspectors of fisheries have got into serious trouble with their boards because of their assiduity in carrying out their work. There was an amazing report in the paper with regard to a case at Lismore, something that occurred there. Lord Cavendish came before the board of conservators to protest because the fishery inspector came in and inspected his weir, and to see that no fishery offence was being committed. The backboneless board— I do not hesitate to call them that—[1993] promised him that in future the inspector would not be allowed to go unless he had a guard along with him. Those men have an extremely difficult job and I wish the Minister would find some way of making them permanent and independent of their own boards. Let the Local Appointments Commissioners or some such body make the appointment. Let these men be subject to the Minister—give him the power of withdrawing their appointments in the event of misconduct or not doing the job in a proper manner.

Section 23 is an extension of the 1840 Act and deals with the prohibition of the use of certain devices for taking salmon or trout. I agree with that, but I disagree with the provision in sub-section (4). I think the Minister should take out from that sub-section the words “between sunrise and one hour after sunset.” I am informed that that would militate greatly against angling in some areas. Very often, where a salmon or a trout will not rise during the day, immediately after sunset for an hour or two in the summer is the time you will get them. I do not see any real objection to that and I do not see that that type of thing can be in any way destructive to fish. It cannot cause any destruction of a serious kind. For that reason I hope the Minister will accept an amendment in Committee deleting those words.

As regards Section 26, I agree that all the provisions with regard to pollution are very good, but I think the Minister should put into Section 26 tidal as well as fresh water; that is to say, all lime, spurge or any narcotic for the purpose of injury to or destruction of fish in the fresh water or tidal portion of any river. I would suggest putting in “or tidal,” because it can be done there as well. Damage may be done in tidal water, and is done in tidal water, as a matter of fact. I hope the Minister will also accept an amendment to that effect.

With regard to making the month of October a portion of the close season, I will admit that, there again, there are very many view-points. Some say it is a good provision; others say it is a very bad provision. There are, I [1994] know, some parts of the country where it would be a very bad provision. I wonder whether the Minister would not leave that matter to the board of conservators as to whether or not they should enforce October as portion of the close season. I do not know whether that would be practicable. The Minister has created a precedent, with which I entirely agree, and I must say I think I must have skipped that section when I was going along, although I am long enough at it. The Minister has left to fishery conservators the provision of having a salmon rod licence—that is what it amounts to—after the 1st July for £1. He left that to the discretion of the board of conservators. I agree with the Minister in doing that. Most boards of conservators, I am sure, will pass the necessary resolution which will enable them to issue licences for £1. There are some boards of conservators who would be very seriously affected, notably in Connemara, by passing a resolution having this enforced. It is a matter, therefore, for themselves whether or not they will have it. The persons who come along there to do their salmon trout fishing and sea trout fishing after July are very well able to pay the £2 for the licence, and they have never made any objection. What they have been accustomed to paying in the way of £1 or £2 they will not miss. I commend the Minister for leaving it to the option of the board of conservators, and I would ask him to do the same with regard to the month of October. If he does not do that, I would ask him to do this: let him split the difference: let him make the close season from the 15th October. It is again in the interest of Connemara I am speaking in this case. It is of importance in Connemara that they should have at least that portion of October for their visitors.

I referred already to Section 28. I hope the Minister will accept from me an amendment to ensure that a proprietor who, through no fault of his own, with no cognisance of it, and entirely against his will, has had the fishery laws broken by, say, some of his employees during the week-end, [1995] should not be mulcted as is set out here, with the consequences subsequently that not only will he be committing an offence against this section but will be deprived of his membership of the board of conservators if he is a member of the board.

Sections 29 and 30 I will oppose for the reason that I think they are a breach of the Constitution. They are an infringement of the jurisdiction of the courts. The Minister should not take it on himself to settle whether or not these things are in accordance with the 1863 Act. This is a matter that has come before the courts time and time again. The law books are full of these cases—Lismore Weir and all the rest of these cases—and the law has been extensively gone into. They are all cases, you might say, of mixed law, in fact, but in very many of the cases that are reported in the law books the law aspect of these cases has been very much predominating, and I think the Minister should not take it on himself to decide these matters. He should either leave it to district justices or somebody appointed for that purpose. The same applies to Section 30.

I referred already to Section 35 and I do not want to mention that again. There is no case for not compensating the employees in fresh water fisheries I am not quite clear and not quite happy about the particular section prohibiting the sale, etc., of trout in January and February. To tell the truth, I am not clear about that. Does the Minister want to prohibit fishing entirely during those months? If so, he should say so, and instead of putting in “buys, sells, exposes for sale,” it should be “take, kill or catch.” A case can be made for prohibiting trout fishing in both these months. I have an entirely open mind and, to be perfectly candid, I do not know sufficient about it at the moment to express an opinion, but before the Committee Stage I may.

I am not clear in Section 44 why the Minister, in sub-section (1) has that the conservators may grant this licence [1996] and, under sub-section (2), the district justice shall grant him a certificate of fitness. I would like the Minister to look into that. If a man goes to a district justice to get a certificate it may cost him a considerable amount. He will be going to considerable trouble, and if he has gone to that trouble and expense I think he ought automatically to get his licence from the board of conservators.

I have nothing to say about Part III.

That concludes really what I have to say on the Bill and I have been very much longer than I thought I would be, but I wanted to go into the matters as far as possible. Let me assure the Minister, as I said at the start, that we want to make this Bill the best possible Bill from the point of view of our inland fisheries. It is a very comprehensive Bill. It is a very technical Bill and I hope the Minister is not going to adopt the attitude that I gathered from the last paragraph of his statement. I hope the Minister will be prepared to meet us when we put up amendments, because such amendments as will be put up from this side and will be in any way forced will be meant entirely for the purpose of improving the Bill. I want him not to adopt the attitude at this stage of saying, “with regard to 3, 4 and 5, I am going to stand solid and will not allow any change. I am prepared to accept changes in other things.” I hope he will not adopt that attitude now because the amendments that will be put in will be with a view to improving the Bill and not for the purpose of playing politics in any way.

Mr. Bartley:  It would be much easier for Deputies to formulate a few opinions about this Bill if we had an explanatory statement such as the Minister read in introducing the Bill. There are many references to sections of old Acts that nobody knows anything about and if the meaning is reasonably clear when the Bill is introduced it would be much easier to make a few intelligent remarks about the Bill. I think that the main thing in the Bill is the taking over of certain fisheries by the Government and, specifically, estuarine and weir fisheries [1997] are mentioned. I would like to know does the Minister propose to stop there? What about the other privately owned fisheries, salmon fisheries, that are scattered up and down the country? Is it his intention to take these over also? We do know that fishermen in the estuaries have established rights within recent times that were denied to them formerly, and perhaps it is a significant fact that in this Bill it is only these weir fisheries, which are practically in tidal waters, and the estuarine fisheries, it is proposed to take over. I would like to see all those fisheries that are now privately-owned eventually become publicly-owned and publicly administered, because I think they could thus become a great source of income for our people, particularly from tourists. As the last speaker has said, I think the main feature of this Bill is the taking over of certain fisheries into public ownership.

There are quite a number of minor matters that perhaps I ought to deal with, but then I imagine they can be more adequately discussed on the Committee Stage. A good deal has been heard up and down the country about the trout or rod licences. The opinion with some seems to be that the reason for introducing the Bill is to get in a certain amount of revenue from trout fishing, and thus encourage boards of conservators to spend more money on the development of trout fisheries. If that be the object, I think there is another way of achieving it other than the method proposed in the Bill of a direct tax of 5/- per rod. There is a reference to representation on boards of conservators. It suggests that where there is a certain proportion of trout rod licences to salmon licences, that the trout rod men should be given certain representation. That seems to suggest to me that there will be some sort of co-operation between these trout rod licencees. Therefore, I think they ought to be encouraged to organise into units and that these units be recognised in each fishery district: therefore, that instead of a tax on each individual trout angler in a district of 5/- a year, that the Department which introduced this Bill ought to devise a method of getting in revenue through that organised unit. [1998] That would also have a direct bearing on the representation which trout anglers in a fishery district would be entitled to on the board.

I think that the representation suggested in the Bill is an insult to the trout anglers. I do not think there is any justification in charging 5/- for a licence to trout anglers, the quid pro quo being the representation that they are to get on the local boards of conservators. As I read the section, it seems to work out like this: that if you have 100 salmon licences at £2 a year each, and 124 trout licences at 5/- each, the revenue from the salmon licences would amount to £200 a year, and that from the trout licences to £31. Roughly speaking, the revenue from the latter is between one-sixth and one-seventh of the revenue derived from the salmon licences, while the representation of trout anglers on the board is only one-hundredth part of the representation that the salmon fishermen have. Surely that is inequitable. It is certainly not a fair return, in my opinion, for this new tax of 5/- a year which the brown trout anglers are to be called upon to pay. The collection of it, I believe, will be very difficult—more difficult, I should say, than if you were to try to collect a tax on bicycles. A certain number of people, because of public spirit or otherwise, will pay, but I believe that you will find that at least 50 per cent. will not, unless, as I have indicated, some inducement is given to them to organise so that they will be enabled to get adequate representation on the board. If that is done, then I believe that what is proposed here will be considered in a favourable light by the trout anglers.

I again suggest to the Minister that this tax should be collected in the way I suggest—through some body of organised trout anglers. If that is done, then they should be given the chance of getting adequate representation on those boards of conservators, and the question of trout angling may, in that way, get a little more attention from these boards than it has been getting up to the present. I am a member of the Corrib Trout Anglers' Association. I do not do very much [1999] fishing, but that association, on its own initiative and at a good deal of expense, established a very fine hatchery recently on the Corrib. I think that the board of conservators would be a very long time in existence before they would have gone to the bother of catering for the trout anglers in that way.

There is an anomaly in the Bill to which reference was made by the Minister in the course of his statement, and that is the dummy voter at meetings of boards of conservators. That, of course, is well known to the Department and to everybody who has the merest acquaintance with these boards. They all know what happens in the case of the dummy voter. I should like to have an assurance from the Minister that that matter will be dealt with in this Bill. What I fear is that the abuse can be continued—that is, if my reading of sub-section (2) of Section 14 is correct. That sub-section provides:—

Nothing in sub-section (1) of this section shall affect the right of any person to vote at an election of conservators in accordance with the amount of licence duty paid by him.

Perhaps I have not taken the correct meaning from that sub-section, but I shall be glad to have an assurance from the Minister on the point when he is replying.

There is one matter to which I take very serious objection and that is the increase in the licence duty on draft nets. In part of my district, from Killary to Ballinakill, a considerable amount of draft net fishing is done for salmon in the bays and inlets. The licence duty that the fishermen there used to pay was increased under the 1925 Act from £3 to £4. In this Bill it is proposed to increase the duty from £4 to £5. I have been asked to protest against that increase. I think there are many good reasons why the Minister should not increase the duty. In these cases you have, so to speak, four men in a boat. The present duty represents £1 per man. At the time of the last increase the fishermen protested, but the thing has since become [2000] more or less established. I and those for whom I speak are strongly of the opinion that the proposed increase to £5 is unfair. Fishing for salmon in these estuaries and in the inlets and bays is already adequately controlled by the issue of licences. In any event, the fishermen say that the fishing there does not interfere with the stock in the rivers in the upper reaches to any degree comparable with the weir fishing carried on by the proprietors of several fisheries from Corrib to Galway.

With regard to the close season, I have been asked to protest on behalf of the Corrib professional anglers against the closing of the month of February. They have always been allowed to fish in that month. Trout angling on the Corrib is a very considerable part of the income of these anglers, particularly in the Oughterard district, and they are very bitterly opposed to this, very much more so, I would say, than to the 5/- rod licence. I have met the fishermen there, and I also met one of the local priests who was asked by the fishermen to see the local Deputies and to make representations to the Minister. This is a very real grievance in that part of the country. It is a matter that ought not to be provided for by a hard-and-fast rule. There ought to be some latitude allowed through the operation of bylaws. I, therefore, ask the Minister to give the complaints of these fishermen his very serious consideration.

I am very anxious that all the privately-owned fisheries should be taken over eventually. I am speaking for one district alone and that is Connemara. If the tourist industry, for instance, is to be of any advantage there, angling must be made more of an attraction that it is. You have free fishing there on Lough Corrib. The last speaker said he did not think that the licence should be reduced from £2 to £1 in regard to that type of angler. These people do not complain about the cost of the licence at all. They would pay £2 or £3 if there were any fishing available for them. While they have Norway or Sweden to fish in, when the May fly is over they say that they would go back to Connemara and [2001] fish for salmon. But we find that two or three people, some of whom come from the other side of the world, own these fisheries. It is an extraordinary state of affairs that the board of conservators, whose position is being consolidated under this Bill, in the main represent the vested interests, that is either private owners or people who have a direct interest in the tourist business, such as the larger hotels. The larger hotels are not suffering, in the main, any great disability in regard to fishing facilities.

But there is a type of angler who would be very useful to a poor area like Connemara, and that is the man who wants a quiet fishing holiday but has not sufficient money to spend on what you might call a hotel holiday. He would go to Connemara like a person who goes there to learn Irish—possibly he would combine both—and pay 35/- or £2 per week for accommodation to a local farmer who keeps a reasonably good house. If trout angling were improved and developed, that man would be the greatest asset to a place like Connemara. The moneyed tourist spends a good deal in his own way, but it is like putting the small ratepayer against the large one; when you combine the small ratepayers you find that they pay far more rates than the large ones. The same thing applies to the ordinary type of person who has three weeks' or a month's holiday to spend and has saved £10 or £20 for it. He would be a far greater asset, because his money would go directly into the houses of the poor. I should like to see that type of tourist angler catered for more than the other type, and I do not think that is being done in this Bill. If the local anglers' associations were given adequate representation on these boards, they would see that the stocking of the brown trout lakes and rivers is carried out.

These are but a few scattered ideas on the Bill. As I say, if it were stripped of the legal jargon which must necessarily clothe the ideas of the Department in a Bill of this sort; if we had an explanatory statement and had these old statutes and sections, which, are referred to, explained to us in [2002] ordinary language, we possibly might have been able to assimilate the ideas much better. I may have misread certain sections of the Bill but, at all events, I cannot say that my instinct is in favour of it. These boards of conservators, whose position and tenure are being consolidated in the Bill, in the main I find are unpopular with the people. Private ownership in fisheries, in my opinion, is injurious generally to the community interest. I think I am safe in saying that private ownership in fisheries is particularly obnoxious to the average Irishman. While the Bill has gone a certain length, I think it has not gone far enough. I think all private ownership ought to cease within a certain time.

The type of fisheries I am most interested in do not seem to be provided for in the Bill at all. I cannot see that, under this Bill, private ownership is going to end, and that these fisheries are going to be adapted and developed for the general benefit of the community in these poor areas. I am not very enamoured of the Bill. At the same time, I think the Minister, without interfering with the main principle of the Bill, could expand and extend it on the Committee Stage. If he does that in order to meet the complaints which I am sure he has received from various parts of the country, I am sure that the Bill will be given a reasonable chance by the people. At present there is a considerable feeling of disquiet about the Bill amongst angling associations, at all events. I think that the difficulties of the boards of conservators will be immeasurably greater when the Bill has been enacted than they are at present.

Mr. Hickey:  I intend only to deal with the question of licences. For the last two or three years the fishermen in the Cork and Blackrock area have been very badly hit, so that their earnings are mortgaged long before the fishing season opens, because they are unable to get the money for the licences. Last year they were unable to start fishing until a public subscription was made up for them by the [2003] people of the area. I appeal to the Minister to let the net fishermen's licence remain at £4.

I think in fairness to the trout anglers' associations it should be said that they have done a certain amount of good for that particular type of sport in their areas. One Deputy suggested, I think, that the licence should be sought through the association rather than for the individual rod angler. I think there is a good deal to be said for that. I have in mind quite a number of rod fishers going from one district to another. In the last fortnight Deputies have been inundated with literature from anglers from Donegal to Fermoy. These anglers complain that the 5/- imposition is bad enough, but if the 5/- is to be paid it should cover all the areas wherever they fish. I think that is a concession the Minister should make in the Bill; anglers should be allowed to fish anywhere in the country on that licence. I would appeal to the Minister not to raise the licence on net fishermen. I might mention that it was only through the aid of a public subscription that the fishermen in Cork and Blackrock were able last season to carry on their fishery at all. I hope the Minister will be able to see his way to meet the wishes of the people in this regard.

Dr. O'Higgins:  I have very little to say about this Bill. In the first place, it is a subject about which I know little. In the second place, this is a Bill that, in the main, I welcome and I intend to support its general principles. However, it strikes me, from reading the newspapers and reading my own correspondence, that there is a very considerable amount of opposition of a kind to some sections of the Bill. I expect my correspondence in this respect is the same as the correspondence every Deputy in the Dáil has got. There is, I am aware, very strong opposition to the Bill from the anglers' association—people who undoubtedly know what they are talking about, at least in connection with this Bill as it affects their particular sport.

[2004] It strikes me that in the framing of this measure there was a clash between the voices of the salmon fishers and the trout fishers, and that the salmon fishers spoke with a louder voice and the trout fishers possibly spoke in a whisper. So far as I have evidence of it, all the discontent comes from the trout fishers. They seem to be dissatisfied with a number of sections in the Bill. They are dissatisfied with the sections dealing with the close season, but in particular they insist on the injustice of having to pay a 5/- licence in each district in which they fish.

I hesitate to disagree with the remarks already made from these benches, because these remarks were made by a fisherman and an ex-Minister for Fisheries, a man with practical Ministerial experience of the administration of these laws. But, in any event, the Deputies here are supposed to be the spokesmen of their constituents. I have got a considerable number of letters from anglers' associations in my constituency protesting against certain points in this Bill. I got no letter expressing a different point of view with regard to those sections. The general opinion seems to be that this demand for a 5/- licence is unwise. I do believe it is.

I agree with the previous speaker, Deputy Bartley, that, in the first place, it is unwise to make any law which is going to be very extensively abused. It is also unwise to pass any law with the knowledge that, in certain cases at least, you will allow that law to be ignored or broken. That is a most unwise thing for any Parliament to do. You have already been told of the case of the juvenile with a bit of sally rod, a bit of a worm and a pin, fishing in a stream. We know that no department or board, or inspector is going to pull him into court and insist on a fine in such a case. In other words, we are passing a law which we are perfectly prepared to see broken in many cases and to take no action on it. If we insist on this 5/- licence that is one of the classes of people who obviously should be exempt. Juveniles should be exempted, except we wish to bring the law and the Bill into disrepute. [2005] Another, unfortunately, big class who should be exempted from the 5/- licence is the unemployed. There are very many unemployed men in the country who put in a comparatively speaking pleasant day's fishing for trout on the banks of a river. The pleasure does not depend on the amount or the value of their catch. It helps to pass a day that may otherwise be deadly monotonous. Take the case of an unemployed man who happens to go fishing for a day. Now, whether this Bill passes in its present form or not, I do not believe that anybody is going to take action against him, and I do not believe that anybody is going to see a penalty imposed on him. No body of human beings would agree with that. All their sympathy would be with the individual who, instead of leaning against the corner house, went out a few hundred yards from the village to the banks of a stream and fixed up a rod and line. I do not believe there should be any penalty imposed on such an individual. Again I say it would be unwise to put phrases into a Bill if we do not intend to carry them out in a 100 per cent. way. There is a certain amount of alarm amongst enthusiastic trout fishermen with regard to this particular 5/- licence. I might say that that alarm is not because they are going to be asked to pay 5/- for a licence. I have met no individuals of that kind, and I do not believe it is so. The general case put up against that is that it will interfere with their freedom to fish in a great many areas. It is fairly well known that, in regard to the man going out for a day with a fishing rod looking for trout, there is scarcely a stream in Ireland that he would be put off, with the exception of very close preserve. He can pass across any farmer's land, big or small, and whip the stream. He can stop his car at any point on the road where there is a good looking stream, dismount and fish, and it is practically unknown for him to be interfered with by the owner of the land. Those associations are rather perturbed as to what the result of this section will be. If the farmer and his sons are being hunted off their own river because they have not got a 5/- licence, the natural [2006] human reaction of those people—seeing that they cannot fish the stream running through their own bit of land —is to prevent anybody else fishing it. The natural reaction is to prevent anybody else who happens to be wealtheir than they are, and who has a 5/- licence, from crossing their land to fish the stream. The real objection of those organisations or societies to that particular section is that there will be much more opposition to fishermen crossing land or going along the banks of a stream to fish. I think there is a lot in that argument—that if the farmer or his family cannot fish their own bit of river, because each of them has not paid 5/- for a licence, they are not going to let anybody else come along and fish it. The main objection is on those grounds.

Another fear of theirs is that it will extend and lead to a considerable amount of poaching, and that it will result, in certain cases, in interference with the fish. I know one man, who certainly has no objection whatever to paying the 5/——he is both a trout and salmon fisherman at the moment, and a most enthusiastic one—and he deplores that 5/- provision on the grounds that lime and explosives will be used in many streams, because the people in the neighbourhood, be they poor men or small farmers, who have constantly fished certain streams in their own neighbourhood, will now be prohibited, and there is enough devil or malice in people to make them prevent anybody else from enjoying what they themselves cannot enjoy. Certainly, he is very strongly of the opinion that streams will be interfered with chemically, and that, instead of doing what the Bill intends to do, in very many areas it will have the opposite effect. Nobody will say that those points should not be considered, and very carefully considered. There are certain little spots here and there through the country where the popular sport with the people, poor and rich, on a Sunday or on a week evening, is fishing. Eighty per cent. of those people certainly will not get a 5/- licence; small as the cost is they will not get it. They will try to have their sport without a licence. They will be caught. They will be [2007] hunted. Every time they go near a stream there will be somebody watching them because after a while they will become well known. If they happen to be farmers' sons, I cannot picture them throwing their stream open to anybody else that comes along, and if there are many people so affected I think there is very real danger of damage being done to the fish.

Now, it is a case of weighing up whether the game is worth the candle. The Minister probably has figures which would indicate how much revenue would be obtained from those 5/- licences. I would imagine that every member of an association will pay his licence, but I suppose there are ten fishermen outside those associations to every one that is a member of an association. I am speaking of the trout fishermen. It is probably nearer the mark to say that there are 30 or 40 trout fishermen outside associations for every one that is in them. The vast majority of those not in associations would be the sons of small farmers, labourers, sons of labourers and unemployed men. You may assume straightaway that of the number of trout fishermen at present in the country only a very small percentage—at all events, only a reasonably small percentage—will take out a licence. That being so, and understanding that there will be a kick by those prohibited from fishing against other fishermen who are wealthier than they are, there will be very real danger of damage being done to the fish in certain areas. I would strongly urge the Minister to consider that danger, and to accept the fact that his Bill is being generally welcomed and generally supported, and that warnings of this kind are uttered in the interests of the Bill and not by way of opposition or obstruction. In regard to this clause, I think that at least unemployed men, juveniles and the owners of land adjoining streams should be exempted. If the Minister cannot see his way to grant any exemptions, then I think it would be wise to make the licence a national one. I do not know sufficient about the matter to say how it should be [2008] done or could be done, but there is a number of tourists who go from day to day just where fancy directs them, and who halt here and halt there whenever they see an attractive river, fish for half-an-hour, have their lunch, and then go further. If that class of tourist is to be met every now and then with a demand for his licence, and told, “The licence you got an hour ago up the road does not hold here,” or even, “The licence you got five minutes ago at the other end of the village does not hold at this end,” I certainly think more harm than good will be done. Goodness knows this island is small enough, and the portion to which this Bill applies is still smaller. To make inside three-quarters of a tiny island a number of, as it were, independent baronies, with people there to put their hands out to pick the pocket of the person who enjoys fishing and, perhaps, does not catch a trout in a month, and to do that repeatedly because people happen to go over a certain boundary known to few, I do not think is wise. Any other form of licence holds throughout the whole State, any other that I know of, with the exception of the Department of Fisheries. I think that instead of establishing little sub-divisions, irritating sub-divisions, within a very tiny whole, it would be better if the Minister decided to follow the general rule of a licence to keep or carry, to do a thing or to enjoy a particular sport, a licence that would be applicable to the whole State.

Mr. McDevitt:  I am in agreement with the general principles of this Bill. I welcome its introduction at this stage, and it is my opinion that it is long overdue. The fishery laws of this State have been chaotic for a number of years and this Bill makes an attempt to clarify some of them, at least. There are only two points with which I would like to deal. Deputies before me have already dealt with one, and that is about a licence for a trout rod fisherman. Five shillings in the year is not a vast amount but, at the same time, the people who fish trout mostly are of the poorer classes. Many of them are unemployed; many of them are [2009] small farmers' sons, and so on. It is a poor man's sport, in the main, in this country. As regards tourists, of course trout fishermen amongst them could quite easily pay far more than 5/-. I find that is the only thing about which there is general disagreement and dissatisfaction with in my constituency.

There is one other matter to which I will refer later. I would suggest that if the 5/- is going to be retained, the owner of that licence should be in the same position as the owner of a 10/- licence for a motor car, no matter in what county he takes it out; that is, he can put the licence in his pocket and fish wherever he likes throughout the Twenty-Six Counties. If the Minister is averse to taking off the 5/- without penalising the rod fishermen in some other way, he can take away the right of having representatives on the boards of conservators. I do not think that right is going to be of very much use to the trout fishermen, because it is obvious that the owners of fisheries and the salmon rod men will far outnumber any representatives of the trout fishermen. It would be a fair balance to make the 5/- general and give them no representatives on the boards.

The other matter to which I want to refer is of much greater importance from the point of view of the State. I refer to Section 57 and the possible effect of that section on the title of the Foyle and Bann Fishery Company to the right of fishing in the river Foyle. Deputies are aware that for a number of years there has been a dispute in relation to the troubled waters of the Foyle. The Foyle and Bann Company, as lessees of the Irish society, claim that they own the bed and the soil of the river Foyle. They claim under a Charter of King Charles and for years upon years—and from my reading of Section 57, they are bound to come under it—they have been paying rates. They have at least 60 years' title. Deputies can see the section for themselves. I will give the part that counts:—

(1) Where—

(a) a fishery in the tidal waters or part of the tidal waters of any [2010] river or estuary was, for not less than 60 years ending on the 31st day of December, 1932, included as a rateable hereditament in the Valuation List prepared pursuant to the Valuation Acts, and

(b) an order is made, under sub-section (1) of Section 59 (which relates to the transition period in respect of several fisheries) of this Act, appointing a day to be the appointed day in respect of the fishery district in which the tidal waters of such river or estuary or such part of the tidal waters of such river or estuary are situate,

then, unless it has been judicially determined before the 1st day of January, 1939, by a court of competent jurisdiction that a several or exclusive fishery did not exist in the tidal waters of such river or estuary or such part of the tidal waters of such river or estuary, it shall, as and from the day so appointed, by virtue of this sub-section be deemed for all purposes that a several or exclusive fishery exists in the tidal waters of such river or estuary or in such part of the tidal waters of such river or estuary.

Now, the Foyle and Bann Company claim, and have claimed, a several fishery in the River Foyle which touches County Donegal, County Derry and County Tyrone and is more or less international in character. Fishermen from County Donegal came to the Moville Fishery Board, of which I am a member, and asked for a licence to fish on that river. Things went happily for a short time, but then the Foyle and Bann Company began to take the law into their hands. There were high feelings running in the country and when things became settled they came before the District Court to prevent these men from fishing. The learned district justice, in a long judgement, having gone through the whole history of the Foyle and Bann Company's claim, came to the conclusion that he had no jurisdiction, because a question of title was involved. He advised the Foyle and Bann Company to go to a higher court.

[2011] From that day to this the Foyle and Bann Company never thought it worth their while to go near a Twenty-Six County Court. What did they do? They let things lie again for a short time and then they went to the High Court of Northern Ireland, claiming an injunction to prevent these people from fishing, and they got it. Ever since that day, no matter what petty offence may be committed, they have gone to the lower courts in Northern Ireland and got a fine, or the confiscation of a boat, and so on. Under this section I would not like to think that people who were the lessees of the Irish society, London undertakers, should be given a title that they would not think it worth their while to fight for in our own courts.

It has been said that the learned decision did not cover all cases, and I think that is quite right. If there was any case not covered, to my mind it is the case of the Foyle and Bann Company. And now are the Foyle and Bann Company, after treating our courts with the utmost contempt, ignoring them, going to be handed a clean, clear title when, if they had come to our courts, they might be left to-day in the position that they would become a public fishery? From the point of view of the board alone, if this Bill becomes law we are going to be relieved of a valuable amount of revenue. We would be absolutely prohibited from taking money from our licensees in the future. If the Foyle is a several fishery, nobody will have the right to fish there except the lessees, the Foyle and Bann Company themselves. If the Foyle and Bann get a title, as I think they are bound to if this section is amended, I wonder will they accept our jurisdiction. They pay very high rates to the Moville Fishery Board and they get very valuable fisheries. I have seen over 2,000 salmon landed in one day. I saw them carting them as fast as they could to Strabane. That is a very valuable fishery. It is rated highly and those rates are paid to the Moville Fishery Board. We are not concerned whether they have a several fishery or not. All we are concerned with, as the law as it [2012] is there, is that until the question of whether it was a several fishery was decided we had no interest at all except to go and take all the money that we could get for the maintenance of the fishery, but under this Bill, at least I am satisfied in my own mind, a several fishery is going to be established for the Foyle and Bann. It is a very ignominious exit to a great fight. Violence has been used on that river time and time again. The last Government shirked the responsibility. This Government also has shirked the responsibility to protect our citizens from these people from Derry City. They came down in fast motor boats, cut the nets, flashed rifles and intimidated our licensees who got no protection from either of the two Governments. We claim, and I say rightly claim, that all the waters of this country were given to what was the Free State. The Six Counties only got the land. We got all the waters and yet we have proved ourselves incompetent to carry out our rightful duty of protecting these waters and the people who fish on them. This Government also by the Constitution takes sovereignty over all the land and all the waters of Ireland. I know the two questions are absolutely distinct—the question of a fishery right and the question of jurisdiction—but if the Foyle and Bann take the right that apparently they are going to take here, I want to know will they take the jurisdiction. What is going to be the result? If by giving the Foyle and Bann a title on this water we are thereby getting full jurisdiction, I would be the first man to vote for that section, but I doubt very much that the Foyle and Bann will accept the jurisdiction of our civic guards on the River Foyle. Before these people get a title, for which they did not think it worth a fight, I would appeal to the Minister not to give them a title free, gratis and for nothing. I would exempt them specifically by a sub-section until the committee came into the courts and proved their title or I would declare the Foyle fishery a public fishery and let it be administered by the Minister for the lessess of the Irish society and the fishermen of County Donegal.

[2013]Mr. Brasier:  I suppose there is hardly a Bill brought in that does not contain some provisions that are satisfactory to members of this House, but it is certainly a triumph of irony that, at a time when salmon fishing is at its very worst, when last year the fishermen, a hardy and brave race, had to endure a particularly lean period and this year have had to give up work at fishing altogether in many places, a Bill should be brought loading them with burdens which, even under an alien Government they had not to bear. I certainly would appeal to the Minister—and to echo the words of my friend, Deputy Hickey—to withdraw his provision with regard to an increased licence on these fishermen. I know fishermen of the River Lee in Blackrock. I have very early recollection of them and I know what an industrious race they are. They have only the opportunity of fishing a couple of hours twice within the 24 hours and at varying periods in the night or day. That in itself is one of the greatest hardships because no fixed hours are ever available for such men and, whether it is in the middle of the night or early morning they have to start, their life must be a very hard one. That particular area is part of the fishing grounds that are adjoining my constituency, but I would especially draw the Minister's attention to circumstances under which net fishermen work at Rathcoursey, Cork. It is part of Cork Harbour. These men are not allowed to cast a net into the harbour. They have by law to take their nets overland till they can get right outside an imaginary line from Carlisle Fort and Templebrady Church on the opposite side of the harbour, and it is often under very storm-tossed conditions that they have to carry out that very dangerous work. There are many restrictions imposed upon the fishermen in the southern areas. As you are aware, the conditions under which fishermen labour in various parts of the country inflict hardship on some, but the southern fishermen are simply restricted to a net 200 yards long and that net can only be fished by taking a pretty elaborate turn at one end. You can judge what a very small area [2014] of water can be fished by the fisherman who is only able to use his skill and judgement in carrying out his trade.

The same thing prevails at Knockadoon, which is at the entrance to Youghai Harbour. Those fishermen are restricted to the 200 yards of net with the same large turn in it, which only gives them a very limited amount of space to cover, and it is only by their knowledge of the conditions that prevail, the habits of salmon and the most likely spots for fish that they can make anything like a living. Those men are restricted and are living under very penurious conditions at the present time simply because the run of salmon has been low for the past few seasons. The habits of salmon are very varied and the fisherman's life is largely one of chance. Salmon run in cycles over a number of years. For years you will have a plentiful run of salmon and for years you will have a very restricted amount. The fact is that these men have got to try to carry on some other form of livelihood and they are often in the ranks of the unemployed but cannot get unemployment assistance. If the season has been particularly bad they have to go and seek some other livelihood after they have fitted their boats out with very expensive gear. It takes about £40 to fit out a boat with four men in it and those men have to provide for their families. If they have not got that particular amount of capital they have to go to a merchant or fish buyer who will make the necessary advance and who will take out the licence. Every penny of that has to be paid back and is deducted from the fishermen's catches before a penny will go into the fisherman's pocket. The change in the licence from £4 to £5 for the draught net fisherman is a very serious blow to him, but he fishes under conditions which may give him a reasonable chance of a livelihood.

Around Cork Harbour those who fish inside the harbour are perhaps fishing under more favourable conditions than those who have to fish in the open sea. In regard to the drift net fisherman who is only allowed in the South a short length of net, that man is absolutely driven out of production, driven out of his enterprise, [2015] by the increase from £3 to £5. I was a trustee for a fishing scheme at Knockadoon and I had to provide these licences for the men and to fit out the boats. I know very well what a difficult thing it is for even the amount of the outfit to be made, even if the season is by no means a bad one. Therefore, I would join in the appeal made by my friends for a reduction in the proposed increase in the licence duty. I hope to put in an amendment to meet that.

A very serious matter arises on this Bill in connection with the feudal rights that exist on the River Blackwater and the almost tyrannical exercise of the present powers in so far as they are directed against the fishermen in Youghal Harbour. They have actually to pay to the Lismore Estates Company a licence of £10 in addition to the licence duty of £3 that they have to pay to the State. These net licences, while they are desirable owing to the better conditions which govern the fishery in Youghal Harbour, are at the same time a serious matter in a democratic country, and especially in the case of people who are following a dangerous calling with a very limited output. A licence has to be paid to this estates company by the fishermen for a sprat net or any kind of net fishing in this harbour. I have sympathy with the reform that is proposed in this Bill if it does away with that kind of thing, and even if the owners of the present right have to be compensated. At any rate, when that is done this State will then have a valuable asset, and the fishermen in that area will be enabled to continue in the calling in which they have been brought up. I understand that the charter that exists in the case of that fishery was granted in the time of Sir Walter Raleigh. Undoubtedly the powers that are being exercised under it should long since have been dealt with.

On that part of the coast you have a very fine race of fishermen. It is certainly desirable that they should be encouraged to follow their present calling rather than that the situation should arise whereby they would be obliged to leave it and take unemployment [2016] assistance or some work for which they would be less fitted than fishing. That is a matter which should receive the Minister's serious attention. I take it that he will deal in this Bill with the various weirs and fishing rights that prevail to a certain extent on the Blackwater, on the Lee and on the other rivers in the country.

The point that the Minister should keep before himself is the development of the fisheries in such a way that they will be able to maintain the hardy race of fishermen that we have. The men that we have carrying on in the occupation of salmon fishing are bringing great wealth into the county, because almost every pound of salmon that is caught here is exported to England, particularly at this time of the year when it commands a high price. The Minister's decision to vary the number of licences issued may be advisable. I do not know that it is a good thing to keep old men in this calling. When they become old their health will not permit them to follow such a severe occupation and go out in all kinds of weather. What the Minister ought to see to is that their sons are encouraged to remain in the calling which their fathers have adorned. We are all proud of our fishermen along the coast. Therefore, I hope to see the industry maintained in a flourishing condition, and with all the assistance it can get from the Government. I hope, too, that the Minister will be able to meet us in the matter of allowing additional length in the size of the nets as well as by a reduction in the licence duty.

There is a side of the fishing industry carried on in the district close to where I live that I would like to deal with. The headquarters of this deep-sea fishing association is at Ballycotton. It is carried on by wealthy Englishmen who hire boats from the local fishermen. It is a great source of wealth to the fishermen around there. The hiring of the boats brings a great deal of money to the district. The enormous amount of fish caught is a high testimony to the value of fishing in that district. I was glad to hear that the Minister is making certain concessions to those who fish for salmon trout by [2017] a reduction in the licence fees over a certain period. That is certainly a step in the right direction because more men will be encouraged to take up that class of fishing. I should like the House to understand that not all salmon rod fishermen are wealthy men. You have many working men in the City of Cork and elsewhere who take out those licences and fish for salmon. It is quite probable that they make not only the amount of the licence but a little over and above to add to the earnings they derive from their ordinary occupation.

The matter that seems to have called down the wrath of the people on the Minister's head is the 5/- licence duty for trout anglers. It is a good many years since I was a boy, but even so I can still remember the pleasure I got from fishing for trout. If, at that time, it had been proposed to charge me 5/- for fishing for trout I think I would have resented it very much. Perhaps the young people of the present day have more money to spend than I had when I was a boy, but even so I think I would have resented this duty of 5/-. I think I would have been justified in resenting it as an unfair imposition on the liberty of the subject.

When we think of all the free rivers that have been open to us, the Lee, the Bride and the various streams prolific with brown trout, I think that what is proposed here is a hardship, and that it will be so felt by the young people. As Deputy O'Higgins mentioned, it will be felt severely by the sons of labourers who have become extremely skilful in catching trout often with a rod costing only 4d. or 5d., a line and whatever other fishing tackle they have been able to get. We all know that their fishing outfit is not an expensive one. I know that in my young days if I were caught with a salmon trout in my basket I would have been heavily fined. I take it that if young people now are caught with a brown trout, and have not a licence, they will be prosecuted and fined. Are you going to do any good by this? I am afraid not. I think that this will lead to a huge amount of poaching just as you have a huge amount of poaching for salmon in the [2018] upper reaches of the rivers. It is there that the real poaching for salmon goes on. Therefore, I am afraid that the result of this imposition will be to creat a huge number of poachers for trout—poaching by people who will take a special delight in attempting to defeat what they will regard as an unjust imposition. I have here a letter from the Munster Federation of Trout Anglers and the names at the end of it are household words in the angling world. These men are protesting vigorously against what they regard as an unjust imposition. Cork is famous for its fisheries, and these men resent very much the imposition put upon them. They say:—

“In many parts of the country small fishery districts are to be found in close proximity to each other, and an example in the fact that a trout angler, to fish throughout County Cork alone, would have to pay a total sum of 25/- in licence duties is sufficient to demonstrate the unfair nature of the tax.”

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  I hope the Deputy is not going to read all that correspondence.

Mr. Brasier:  I am not. I have just quoted a line from the end of the letter.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  I would remind the Deputy that every Deputy has got a copy of this letter.

Mr. Brasier:  I think I am entitled to quote a special point from the correspondence in support of my argument.

“That provision may be made for the travelling angler and the tourist by having a supplementary licence to cost not more than 1/- for each other district in which the holder of a 5/- licence desires to visit.”

I think we might definitely ask the Minister to review the position so far as the varying districts are concerned. He should, at any rate, try to give the concession asked for. The Minister probably has got a copy of this letter, and I have no intention of reading it. I must candidly say, however, that my indignation is aroused by a Bill which imposes a tax on certain people, namely, the juvenile portion of the population and the unemployed man [2019] who would probably go out to fish when he has nothing else to do. These are the people who are least able to bear that tax. I appeal to the Minister to exercise as much judgement as possible in relaxing the proposals in the Bill.

Mr. J. Flynn:  I welcome the principle embodied in the Bill, but I regret that it has not gone much further. The whole kernel of our case in certain areas in Kerry is the question of the several fisheries. Section 59 gives the Minister power to acquire fisheries, but I am disappointed so far as the three-year period is concerned. Both the fishermen in the tidal waters and those in the other areas are very disappointed with Section 59, because the period is so extended—three years must elapse and probably ten years. I make an earnest appeal to the Minister to shorten that period.

I will refer to one case in point, and I regret that Deputy Lynch did not refer to it, because we are both concerned with the same area. I refer to the Waterville fishery district. In that area there is a certain weir or dam in existence. By means of this ingenious device or construction, anything from 100 to 500 salmon can be captured over-night and not one salmon can go up to the upper reaches of the lakes in that district. The hotel keepers, the rod fishermen, and others are debarred from deriving any benefit from the development of the fisheries in that district. To show the unreasonableness of the man who owns that dam or gap, I may say that the local hotel proprietors and the fishermen made an offer to him some years ago, which was repeated last year, that they would pay him the amount derived from the fishery provided he allowed a free run of fish to the upper reaches for a portion of the season. That offer was refused. I therefore hold that in these circumstances Section 59 should be amended. If we want to have development of fisheries in an area like that, why is this three-year period provided for? I submit to the Minister that in a case like that the Minister should take power, before the end of the three-year period, to [2020] acquire that fishery and pay appropriate compensation to the owner. That is my case in regard to Section 59, which is the kernel of the whole Bill and the most important section in it because this is a new departure, and provides for the acquisition of fisheries to be developed as the Minister sees fit.

In this Section 59 power is taken to deal with two types of people—the owner and the leaseholder. On the question of leaseholders and title-holders, I come to the point raised by Deputy McDevitt in regard to the definition of a several fishery. I make the point that this section at one blow wipes out a claim which has been made for the past century in certain of these areas in regard to title, resulting in legal difficulties and court proceedings. In fact there is a case still pending before the High Court. Why should we, after an agitation lasting for 50 or 80 years, give these people a title simply because they can show that it has been a rateable hereditament for 60 years previous to the 31st December, 1932? If we come along now and give these fishery people in Waterville for what they claim are several fisheries, a title which, as has been pointed out by many eminent counsel, would be very difficult for them to prove in the High Court, we are doing a great injustice. It would simply mean that we were saying that these were several fisheries, a thing that they could not prove in the High Court. What we are really doing is that we are providing a way out for these people. The effect of the section would be that these would be made the titled owners of the fishery, which at the utmost could not be regarded as a several fishery. In the first place, these were only leaseholders, and they extended to rateable hereditaments over a number of years. But this section, as drafted at the moment, will certainly come to their assistance. I appeal to the Minister that this question is a very debateable matter and before doing anything further on it the whole position should be examined.

In Section 57 the Minister refers to this matter of rateable hereditaments. [2021] Both tidal and fresh water fisheries are referred to. In the Waterville district, portion is tidal water and portion is fresh water. The water immediately leading on to the centre is tidal water. In one section of the Bill the Minister is providing for the abolition of netting in fresh waters. In Section 57 you propose to give these men a title because of the fact that for 60 years prior to December, 1932, the fishery has been included as a rateable hereditament. There is certainly an anomaly in this section, and I would like to hear a reply from the Minister on the matter. This thing has been tested in the courts and one part was proved to be fresh water fishery, while the other portion is tidal water.

In Section 35 of the Bill the Minister is taking power to abolish the use of nets in fresh water lakes. This section of the Bill confirms his right, provided it is a rateable hereditament for the period stated. These matters are very important, and they are very vital to the people in those areas. I hope the Minister will consider the facts I have pointed out and the case I have made. I admit the matter is very complicated, but I suggest there is a way out.

Points have been raised with regard to the question of increasing the charge for the licences. In so far as the draft net fishermen are concerned, I appeal to the Minister not to increase the charge from £4 to £5. I have given an instance—Cromane—where, in an open fishery, it is hard for these fishermen to operate what might be called fulltime fisheries at all. There are areas where you may have ideal conditions and where the results are satisfactory, but the Minister or the Department should be given power to consider cases of those draft net fishermen who in portions of our county and in the open coast have found it very difficult for the past three years to eke out a livelihood. These men had nothing at all last season; the present season is just as bad. I make the suggestion that the Minister takes power to give concessions while at the same time having an open policy with regard to the power of increasing the charge where the occasion warrants it and where the results show that the charge [2022] could be borne. When the seasons are bad and the conditions abnormal these charges should not be imposed and certainly there should be no increase from £4 to £5.

There is one point that has not been as yet referred to. That is the question of protection of the fisheries. The present system in our part of the country is hopeless and protection given is ineffective. The boards of conservators for the most part are not competent to deal with their districts. What I mean is that they have not sufficient knowledge with regard to the development of the spawning beds to cater for the idea of protection. They pay their water bailiffs £5 to £6 for the season. Each of the bailiffs is appointed in his own area. The system defeats itself. The men so appointed will not take steps to prosecute their own neighbours or their relatives. The idea behind the thing is ridiculous. Why the Department has not taken steps to appoint whole-time men is a thing I cannot understand. Time and again, I have made suggestions that fishery guards should be appointed and given a good salary. These should be whole-time men, each man operating in an area outside his own district. Until a system like that is adopted you will not have real protection. As I have already said, men are appointed for a season for £5 or £6 and there are no results. Poaching is going on to a wholesale extent. Whoever the Minister or the Department should appoint should be given a decent salary. When the regular fishing season has expired they should be engaged by the board of conservators in other developments such as hatcheries or whatever else would be introduced for the development of the fisheries. The present system has not been effective for years.

There is a question here to which I take very strong exception. In Section 21 there is reference to the officers and servants of the board of conservators. The suggestion is that the clerks of the fishery boards be made whole-time officers; in other words, that their appointment shall not be terminated when a new election takes place to the boards of conservators. It is provided that there is to be no new election for [2023] the position of Clerk or other officers. Why that is introduced there I cannot understand. It has been the practice to have these men voted by the boards of conservators. I would ask the Minister to allow that system to continue and to give the board the option of selecting the best possible man for the position of clerk or other officer. If a man after being in office for a three years' period has shown that he has not justified himself during that period the board should continue to have power to appoint somebody else. That provision should be left as it stands at present.

On this question of allowing anglers to obtain increased representation on boards, I agree with the principle but I would remind the Minister and his Department that what has occurred, in our district in any case, would lead one to believe that the whole thing is a racket. In certain areas down there the conservators, in order to have themselves appointed, on the date of the election brought back from Cork or other places people who had come into the county and registered at one time or another. That should not be allowed. It has been mentioned here before that there should be some provision inserted in order to ensure that that type of thing could not happen. The conservators, down our way in any case, are, first of all, representative of the vested interests. They have been tied up with the vested interests throughout the past century, and they have built up this circle—it is a circle within a circle if you like—but there is no real development. The only development we can see in some cases is development to cater for certain people and no one else. There is no question of protection up or down the river. I am speaking now about the Killorglin district, the Laune fishery and other western fisheries. I am sure that has been brought to the notice of the Department over a period of years. I should like to see some just system in so far as those boards are concerned. In order to make my case and prove my statement in regard to their system, I would refer the Minister to this question of ex-officio members. This company operating as the Laune Fishery [2024] Company has so arranged their system that they have several ex-officio members. Even from the legal point of view it is very doubtful that some of them could act as conservators at all. It has never been questioned, because the local fishermen who were up against it would have had to take it into the High Court to be decided. This question of ex-officio members has been referred to here, and there are some restrictions in regard to their right to act as conservators. I am drawing the Minister's attention to that point so that what has happened in our area in the past would not recur, and that there would be some restriction to prevent those people from coming in and destroying the proper working of the system in that area.

The whole purpose of this Bill is to bring matters up to date, and to make it possible for our Government to develop the fisheries in a proper way. As I have said, I agree with the principle, but I fail to see why this three-year period is provided for. You take them over, and still you leave a very extended period before you take action. The whole system will eventually result in the Minister discovering, before a year has gone by, or certainly two years, that there will have to be another Bill giving power to go in immediately and take over those fisheries. That would be in the interests of the industry and in the interests of the people.

Certainly in this Bill, as far as I can see in any case, the vested interests are not interfered with. You will have to come in and save them from themselves; in other words, you will have to save those districts from the boards of conservators who have no business ability and who will not move in that direction. There is no question at all of providing funds for hatcheries or any other development, as far as I can see, in some of those areas. It is all a question of trying to hold on to a certain system, even though they are aware that it is more or less obsolete. Unless this Section 59 is amended to shorten the period, those important fisheries will dwindle. Their importance and earning capacity and the money accruing from them will be things of the past in a year or two. The Laune Fishery, which was one of [2025] the most valuable in Ireland, has gone back nearly 100 per cent. during the past four or five years. So far as our plea is concerned, we should like the Minister, where he can see fit and where occasion demands it, to come in within a year or at least two years and take power to save those fisheries and to develop them in a proper way.

Mr. Daly:  While I would welcome any Bill that the Minister would bring into this House for the protection of fisheries or the development of fisheries in this country, I find myself this evening in the position that although I agree in principle with this Bill there are a few sections in it with which I cannot agree. Section 3 says: “The expression `trout rod licence' means a licence to fish with single rod and line for trout”. It also says: “The expression `rod licence' means a licence which is either a salmon rod licence or a trout rod licence”. I should like to know from the Minister whether this section applies to a youngster who goes out with a bamboo cane down to a stream or a river to fish there and enjoy himself for an hour or two? Would he find himself in the position of having a Civic Guard or a bailiff coming up to him and asking for his licence? There is no provision in this section which excludes him or any youngster from the scope of the Bill. Section 9 is the section to which I take most exception, and it is one which is causing considerable disquiet throughout the country. It is most unjust that “the licence duty payable on a trout rod licence shall be five shillings and such licence shall be valid only in the fishery district in which it is issued”. Now, we were all youngsters, and when we saw the older people go off fishing for trout it was our delight to go and get a stick and put a line on to it; we would even steal a pin from our mothers and make a hook of it, and go fishing in a little stream. A few years after, when we grew a bit older, we would very much like to be the owners of a trout rod and to go fishing with the bigger boys.

Within the past four or five years in the area from which I come there has sprung up an anglers' association. Always down in my part of the country [2026] trout fishing was regarded as the poor man's pastime; you never heard of the aristocrats going fishing for trout in the smaller rivers. They could always afford to pay the licence for their salmon rods. But the poor man's pastime was to get his rod and go fishing in the nearest river to him after his day's work, and to pass the time away there until 9, 10, or 11 o'clock on a summer's evening. He can do that no more. As soon as this Bill is passed, he will have to pay a licence fee of 5/-. I think that is most unfair.

I think that, as regards the riparian owners, it is most unjust and a terrible insult to them that they are now to be taxed for the privilege of having a river flowing through their lands. They or their sons, if they go fishing on that river, must each pay a tax of 5/-. If the riparian owner has three or four sons, and each has a fishing rod, and they go down on a summer evening to pass the time away, they must pay 5/- for each rod. That would come to a nice amount. All the promises made to them under the Land Acts by the politicians are being swept away by this Bill. The farmer finds himself in a worse position now than he did 50 years ago in the penal times. He could then fish for trout, although he could not own a fishery. Now he must pay a tax in order to fish in the river that runs through his land for the trout he has helped to rear there. I think it is most unjust.

Reference was made to the agricultural labourer and his sons. In my part of the country nearly every one of the agricultural labourers I know fish, and their sons fish, whether they are employed or unemployed. The unemployed man was mentioned here this evening. Of course, the Minister may say it would be more in his line to be fishing for work than for trout, but I would remind the Minister that a lot of the unemployed men in my part of the country have been fishing for work for the last three or four years. After all, it is not because he is an unemployed man that he should not fish and pass away a few hours of an evening; instead of having his back to the corner of the street in Fermoy, I think he would be better employed down on the river with his rod and line.

[2027] With regard to those associations that have sprung up, I know that down in Fermoy the association there has a membership of 400. All of the 400 are not in a position to pay the annual subscription that is required from the members of the association. There are a good many of them unemployed, and a good many of them agricultural workers earning a small wage; but the other members, who are in a better position, make up for them, and they are not asked for the full subscription; they pay only half of it. I know that that association has collected a certain amount of money, and they have put it to very good use. I know that on the River Araglen, and the Douglas and the Function, they have spent in the last four or five years £300 or £400 cleaning the banks. They have also put trout fry into these rivers, and they have done that without any outside assistance.

I suggest to the Minister to delete Section 9, which is most objectionable and which is most undemocratic, to my mind. Since 1916 we have heard from public platforms, and in this House—I have listened to them from the seat the Minister now occupies—speeches about the great fight that the people of this country made for the past 700 years. We were told by the Prime Minister in this House of the great fight for freedom. After all that we find in this section of a Bill brought in by a native Government the poor man, who enjoys a few hours fishing in the summer evenings, is to be restricted. That is what we get when we have complete freedom and when we have our native Government. When we had the British here, and when we had the rack-renting landlords, the poor man could walk the banks of the rivers and fish for trout. Now we have a native Government who say they are out for the protection of the brown trout, that they are anxious to develop the fisheries, and they must impose a tax of 5/- on the poor man who goes down to the river to enjoy himself there for a few hours. Is that liberty? Is that justice? I would not mind if it was mentioned in the Bill what was the Minister's intention with regard to the amount of [2028] money he will receive in revenue from this tax of 5/-. What does he intend to do with it?

Dr. Ryan:  I do not get it.

Mr. Daly:  The conservators will get it?

Dr. Ryan:  Yes.

Mr. Daly:  I see, and why not set up boards of conservators independent of the conservators we have set up and let them deal independently with the brown trout on the small rivers that the conservators have very little interest in? Why not accept the associations formed in this country, the trout anglers' associations, which have done such excellent voluntary work? I hold that voluntary work is always better done than if you pay people. Why not accept them and delete this section, or replace it with a section that will recognise those associations? Let those associations do as they have been doing for the past four or five years— collect subscriptions from their members and devote that money towards the development and protection of the brown trout. It is my intention on the Committee Stage to put in an amendment to Section 9. I suggest it should be deleted. I believe that the Minister's intentions with regard to the protection of our fisheries are the best.

I would advise him to delete Section 9. I believe that the Minister has been wrongly advised in this matter and I would ask him, between this and the Committee Stage, to give careful consideration to it and to accept the amendment that will be put in to this section. If he does that, I feel certain that he will be doing a great justice to the people in this country who enjoy a few hours on the banks of the river in the evenings after their work and the people who are not able to pay this tax that he is imposing upon them, who are already overtaxed.

Dr. Tubridy:  I am in support of this Bill and, from what I have heard here to-day, I think the majority in this House are very favourably disposed towards it as it now stands, with the exceptions of a few amendments which the Minister appears to be agreeable to accept. As a Bill, it goes far. Of [2029] course, it could go a little further in the parts which deal with the acquisition of fisheries. Deputy Bartley here expressed a doubt that some of the fisheries in the constituency which we represent would come under the provisions of this Bill, and I also have a doubt, which I hope the Minister will clear, whether these fisheries, say the fisheries of Sneem and Casla and other areas, further than Galway town, will come under the provisions of this Bill. Those fisheries are very important in so far as they would be a great asset to the Tourist Association in our area and, I think, a greater asset from the point of view of the development of the tourist traffic than the larger fishery in Galway which is now run on a commercial basis.

I think that the discussion of this Bill could be worked in on the Committee Stage. No great principles are involved from either side of this House, as far as I can see, and the amendments that are suggested have more or less been assented to by the Minister, as far as he stated in his opening remarks. Practically three or four of the amendments would cover all that has been stated here from different parts of the House.

Deputy Fionán Lynch was very pleased with the Bill in general and he applauded it from the point of view that feudalism as regards fisheries was now finished. He even went so far as to say that it was socialistic as far as fisheries were concerned but I did not like some of the remarks he made as regards Socialism in so far as, having taken the Bill as it now stands, he wanted the Minister to do nothing that would disturb the equilibrium of the conservators board. Deputy Lynch and I are in agreement in so far as the brown trout fishermen should be given a right to be represented on the board of conservators. That right undoubtedly they should have had for some time but now they are getting that right because of the fact that they are paying. Two members are allowed in any particular conservators' board to represent the brown trout fishermen and Deputy Lynch appears to think that two members would be sufficient, and, if the conservators' board voting system is changed from what it was, [2030] before this Bill would come into effect, in a way that the balance between the brown trout fishermen and the salmon fishery people would be brought up so that they would be nearly equivalent in voting power, I think it would be a very good idea that they should be represented on these boards of conservators, but I think that they would require a little more voting power.

The point brought out by Deputy Lynch, that the salmon fishermen would be helped out by the brown trout fishermen in preserving the fish and in preventing poaching is, I think, correct. The people that were referred to by some other speakers here as members of the conservators' board are, I take it, people who represent the commercial spirit, people who run fisheries in this country for profit and profit only and who spent all the money that was given to them as a board of conservators for their own benefit. I mean for their own benefit in that in any particular fishery which gave them a profit they spent all their money and they did not spend any money in any part of the area which did not come under their particular control privately.

In the Galway City area, there is a board of conservators and there is very good fishing around the south, towards Clare, which comes under the control of the Galway Board of Conservators. There is very good fishing there but it is very badly neglected, due, I believe, to the fact that there is no interest taken in the fishery there because it is public fishery. You pay your licence for £2 and fish for salmon there but it is not preserved as I would like it to be preserved because the board of conservators are more interested in looking after the commercial aspect of fishing.

As regards the licence for brown trout, we have heard much about that and I have also been inundated with correspondence and have heard a lot said by people who fish only for brown trout in favour of this 5/- licence. I have not heard so much against this tax. It was only when I came here and heard Deputy Brasier and other Deputies shedding tears over the 5/- tax that I realised that it was such a [2031] terrible hardship on the brown trout fishermen.

There was one point brought out by Deputy O'Higgins which I think it worth reminding the Minister of. It is in connection with the 5/- licence. We had a meeting in Galway of the Fly Fishermen's Association and a certain amount of opposition appeared to come from that body to the 5/- licence. But, when it was pointed out to them that this 5/- would be utilised for the protection of the brown trout fishing, they appeared to change their minds on that matter. Some people seem to think that this 5/- would be better handed to the Fly Fishing Association. I have come across a number of people who believe that the Fly Fishing Association should be in some way given recognition and that to hand them over the 5/- licence would be a means of giving them recognition. I have not quite made up my mind on that matter yet until I hear what the Minister has to say and until the Committee Stage but, if we could be guaranteed that the board of conservators would spend the 5/- on the brown trout fishing, and probably be granted something equivalent by the Minister, I think the 5/- licence would be very well expended and should be enforced.

Deputy O'Higgins said that certain people should be exempted from this licence, and I thoroughly agree. All boys under 16 should be allowed to fish free and I would include also unemployed men. These men do not go up the rivers and lakes, because they have no means of transport and cannot get there. There are a lot of little rivers, fished by very few people, and of little or no commercial use, which are utilised solely by these unemployed men and I think these people should not have an imposition put on them for fishing in places like canals and small rivers.

I think it would meet the case if those two classes were exempted. Some Deputy suggested that a river running through a farmer's land should be free to fish to the farmer and his sons—that is that particular portion of the river. I think that is a fair suggestion. I hope the Minister will give consideration to the three suggestions [2032] that we have put forward. I think they are deserving of consideration.

I would be glad if the Minister would tell us what he intends to do with the unused fisheries throughout the West of Ireland. We have hundreds of lakes held by the Land Commission in the west which have not been rented for years. People are employed to look after them and to prevent people fishing on them. The fish in those lakes, due to the fact that they are not permitted to be fished, are now quite tiny in size. They are there in great numbers but they are very small. Money, I suggest, is being wasted employing people to prevent those lakes from being fished. I think they should be thrown open to anybody who has a licence to fish.

There is another question, and that is the right to fish during the month of February. We may find it difficult to get the Minister to agree to this, but I think he should accede to our request, certainly as regard the Corrib, because that is the only lake in Ireland that is fished with success in February.

Mr. Gorey:  Question.

Dr. Tubridy:  What I mean is that the fish caught in the Corrib in February will not be found to be out of form, whereas in other lakes the fish caught in them in that month are spent fish. Certainly, that is so in most cases. As the Corrib differs from other lakes in the respect that I speak of, I hope the Minister will see his way to exclude it from the provisions of the Bill on this particular point. The section does not prevent fishing during the month of February, but it prevents the sale of the fish. The people that I speak for are professional fishermen on the Corrib who make a nice penny out of the fish they catch during the month of February, because of course they are able to get a good price for it at that time. Other lakes do not provide the same kind of fish during that month, and even if fish is caught in them it is not suitable for table use.

Another suggestion made was that special guards should be appointed in connection with the fisheries, and that [2033] the present people who are acting as keepers should be transferred and, if possible, given whole-time duties in districts other than those in which they are serving at present so that there would be no fear that their relatives or friends would get off lightly when the fishery laws are broken. At present I understand that Guards are empowered to go after poachers and to summon them, but I also understand that, owing to the numerous duties which the Guards are now called upon to perform—and the number appears to be increasing every other day—that the last duty a Guard is asked to do is the one relating to the preservation of the fishery laws. From the point of view of the preservation of the fish in our rivers, that is a bad thing. Even if it were necessary to appoint extra Guards in districts where poaching is prevalent, I certainly would favour that. The duty of the extra Guard appointed should be to devote special attention to the observance of the fishery laws. The amount of money involved would be well spent.

When speaking of the fly fishing association I forgot to mention about the Corrib hatchery which that body was responsible for erecting at a cost of between £500 and £600. I understand that something on the same lines has been done in Cork. The Trout Anglers' Association on the Corrib take such keen interest in this industry that they undertook that work. It certainly shows that they are very keen sportsmen—to collect such a large amount of money and to devote it to the provision of a hatchery to be used for the development of the fisheries on the Corrib. I think that some measure of thanks should be accorded to the members of that association in the way of representation on the board of conservators under a provision of this Bill.

Major Myles:  I would like to say that I think this is a very good Bill. Deputy Lynch gave such a very fine résumé of its provisions that anyone speaking after him must find it hard to discover new points worthy of mention. I want to say a few words, first of all, with regard to trout fishing. We have heard any amount of stuff to-day [2034] about trout and of the terrible hardship it will be on those who will have to pay 5/- for a licence. I do not think it is a great hardship. Do people consider it a great hardship to have to pay 5/- for a dog licence? If people do not pay their dog licences the Guards do not hesitate to follow up the owners of the dogs. Neither does the Post Office hesitate to follow you up if you do not pay your wireless licence. I think we will probably find that there will be as many wireless sets in this country as trout and rod licences.

There was a lot said about children fishing with a sally rod, a piece of twine and a bent pin. I do not think that any ordinary man will be misled by what was said on that. I should imagine that if a water-keeper came on a young lad fishing with that kind of outfit he would simply say that the rod he was using was not a rod within the meaning of the Act. Therefore, there will be no prosecution. It was said what a terrible thing it would be to prosecute children and make criminals of them because they happened to be caught fishing with a bent pin. I have given the House my answer to that kind of argument. I firmly believe that this 5/- duty will be a good thing for the anglers generally throughout the country. It is not money that we are going to pay into the Post Office or give to the Minister for Finance. It is money that we are going to put into our own Fishery Department or to the local boards of conservators, and we hope that we will get good value for it.

I would strongly urge that this 5/- should be made a national figure and not a parochial one, because I think that we are too parochially-minded in this country. I would be glad if the Minister would answer this question when replying: Are those fisheries going to get protection? In the past they got protection. Recently fines have been remitted on appeal and in many cases they have not been collected. I know of one fishery district where you have a sum of between £500 and £600 uncollected in fines that were imposed during the last three or four years. That is not the Minister's fault but it is the fault of his colleague, the Minister for Justice. What is the good of appointing conservators and of [2035] fixing penalties in Bills such as this if no attempt whatever is made to collect fines that have been imposed?

I would like to know from the Minister what is going to be the position with regard to Section 21. There was some reference to this to-day, but I do not know whether it was made by the Minister in the course of his opening statement, or by some Deputy. At any rate, I hope there is no intention of changing the present state of affairs— that is, of putting out of his job a clerk who has probably had a good many years' training, immediately after the new board is elected. I think that would be entirely wrong. In my opinion the clerk and the chief water-keeper should be permanent officials. It is another matter, of course, whether, at the present time, the Minister will go the length of making them permanent officials, or of waiting for some years to do that.

If I might go back to Section 13, there was some discussion as to the holders of licences being convicted. I would make this suggestion to the Minister with regard to the forfeiting of a licence—that instead of putting a definite period in the Bill he should leave it as it is in the Motor Car Act— that a Justice can forfeit or suspend or cancel a licence for such a period as he may determine. I think everybody will be satisfied with that. As to Section 23 (4), which refers to sunrise and an hour after sunset, most of us who fish on certain rivers know that the night rise is the time to get trout. If you are going to be penalised for having your gear with you two hours after sunset it is going to spoil a lot of sport. I suggest to the Minister that that should be amended so as to put it beyond yea or nay that a man is not committing an illegal act by coming home late from fishing. Some of us have fished up to 12 and 1 o'clock, and that is the time you get the best fishing. Every fisherman knows that.

With regard to Section 27, and the question of whether you will have October in the close season or out of it, or whether you will have half of October in it, as has been suggested, taken in conjunction with the question [2036] of fishing in January or February, I think that the October part of it, especially, should be left at the option of the local board of conservators, who would have full knowledge of the habits of the fish in their area. Under Section 42 (3) the holder of a salmon rod licence can export fish of his own capture. I raised this point on the 1925 Bill, but my ideas were not accepted. I suggest that this provides a loophole for extensive poaching. I think the Minister will agree with that if he looks into the matter. Why should an angler, who pays £2 for a licence, have power to become a licensed dealer or agent, because that is what it comes to? One angler in a district can buy in fish, and he is at liberty to send them off to Dublin or Belfast. I suggest that that privilege is no longer necessary. I do not see why a man with a £2 licence should be entitled to export fish.

Under Section 44 (4), I should like to point out that it does not seem to me clear enough that the register should tell from whom the fish are bought. It deals with invoices and the person to whom the fish are sent, but it does not deal clearly enough with the question of from whom the fish were bought, and that is one of the most important things. Under Section 63, which deals with mills, I hope the Minister will see that there is as little possible interference with mill dams used for power purposes. Further, in an almost similar case where he takes powers, he says that he is not to be responsible for flooding owing to weirs being altered. I think it is hardly fair to say that. I think he should be responsible for flooding. These are points which have created a certain amount of apprehension in the minds of people living along the banks of rivers. I should like to emphasise again the question of protection. I hope the Minister will deal with that when replying, and say whether we are going to get protection and whether it is going to be enforced.

Mr. S. Brodrick:  I did not intend to intervene in this debate, as I do not claim to be a great authority on the subject, but I should like to put forward some viewpoints arising out of the correspondence which I have [2037] received during the last fortnight, and out of what I have heard here to-day. Take the number of rivers throughout the country which at present are not under any control whatever, where, as mentioned by some Deputies, people fish now and again for pleasure or to pass a few hours away. It seems rather strange that a farmer has not the right, when this Bill becomes law, to fish in a stream or a river going through his land unless he has a 5/- licence. You have sporting people of every kind going over that man's land, and he has no objection to it. You have shooting parties and fox hunters going over his land and causing a certain amount of damage. You also have people hunting with greyhounds. He is put to great expense in repairing walls and fences in order to accommodate these people who are able to pay for their sport. But if that man wants to have a little sport with a fishing rod, he has to pay 5/- for licence. That man has also to pay a drainage rate in connection with that river or stream, and he has to pay for the maintenance of that drainage, so that his land will be properly drained and can be used for fishing purposes. That is certainly a great injustice. Whatever case has been made for paying for a licence in the fishing districts, no case so far has been made in connection with the streams and rivers I have mentioned. I think that they should be exempted from the operations of the Bill.

Deputy Tubridy said that we wanted more supervision, more water bailiffs, and more Civic Guards in order to stop poaching. What does he want them for? In order to deprive the particular man I have mentioned of his little bit of sport. As to the 5/- licence, I think Deputy McDevitt mentioned that the country should be made one unit, and I believe that would be the best thing. But I suppose the Minister will hardly accept that. I put forward another suggestion to the Minister, and that is, that he should make each province a unit and give the right to any man who takes out a 5/- licence to fish in that particular province. I have had a number of suggestions from anglers' associations and that is really what they come to—that the licence should [2038] be for a province. In the County Galway I think there are three fishing districts. That means that you have to pay 5/- for a licence for each district. We have not been told in the Bill what is to become of the 5/- paid for the licence. Several Deputies referred to the matter here. Deputy Tubridy mentioned that we now have got representation on the board of conservators. I say we might as well be without that representation. It is no help whatever to the brown trout fishermen. That is my opinion.

There is one board in Galway and the headquarters of that board is in Limerick. Portion of their work is dealing with places as far as Roscommon, the River Suck and the Shannon. How is that headquarters in Limerick going to affect the position of the fishermen in Roscommon? How are we going in the case of a long stretch of river such as that to get the board of conservators with its headquarters in Limerick to help the part of the district that is in Galway and Roscommon? The Minister said the money would not come to his hands. He said it will go to the conservators. It would only be natural to expect that the men who will meet in Limerick will be concerned with the fisheries within a reasonable distance of Limerick. It is these fisheries they will develop. They will not do much for the fisheries that are a great distance away from them. The man in Galway or Roscommon who pays his 5/- licence is entitled to as much consideration as the man in Limerick.

Perhaps it is different in other districts such as Connemara which is pretty compact. What I have said about Limerick and the Galway and Roscommon fisheries applies to other districts. That 5/- for the licence is to be given over to the conservators in Limerick, but we are told we will have representations for the brown trout fishermen. It will be necessary for the Minister to put in some form of amendment to make that position right so that the licence money would be used for the purpose of helping the brown trout fishermen and providing hatcheries in the different places.

[2039] I do not think there is anything more that I wish to say on this matter. But I have been informed that as regards supervision throughout the country there are plenty of water-keepers or water-bailiffs employed, but there is no supervision to see that they do their work. This money should not be paid to people who do nothing. It should be paid in order to help the development of the fisheries and for their protection. I appeal to the Minister if he can possibly do it, to see that those fisheries that are under no control by a board up to the present would be let remain as they are. Most of these fisheries pass through the lands of small farmers in poor districts. It is quite possible that except the people adjoining those streams, no others ever go fishing there. If those areas are supervised the money paid will not compensate for the amount of fish that will be got there.

Mr. Fred Crowley:  I reckon this Bill is a good start at solving a difficult problem. There are many ways of looking at the Bill and many angles from which it could be viewed. There is first the viewpoint of the rural worker and the farmer whose lands adjoin the river. Again from the point of view of the town and city dweller who takes a stroll out into the country to do some fishing far from the madding crowd. Thirdly, from the point of view of tourist development. My first consideration would be the rural worker, and the farmer in the country who has very little pastime and amusement and who has not the amenities of the towns and cities.

There are one or two points in the Bill about which I am not clear. One is when the Minister acquires the power to take over the fisheries where no rents have been charged up to the present and no rates have been levied. What is the Minister's intention here considering the fact that these fisheries have been free for hundreds of years and that the farmers have been decent enough to charge no levy? In the future these fisheries should be free and no Department should have power to sub-let them to a company or boards of directors or to hotel proprietors. [2040] The amusements of the countryside are rather limited. They are limited enough at the present moment without in any way our helping to jeopardise the possibility of losing the little free fisheries we have in many areas. I believe that is not the Minister's intention but the matter is not quite clear as it appears in the Bill.

Coming to the curtailment of netting, I am pleased to find that the Minister is tackling this problem and taking over the several fisheries, particularly those at the months of rivers. I spoke in this House five or six years ago and pointed out how immoral it was that anybody should stand up at the mouth of a river, throw a net across it and stop the free flow of salmon on that river to the upper reaches. These people have acquired a legal right, but I doubt if they have a moral right. I am glad now to find that the Minister is acquiring these several fisheries.

Coming on to the fresh water side, that is an aspect of the Bill that affects the town of Killarney and district very much. I am glad that the Minister's intention is to acquire these immediately. I hope he will not delay. Apart from compensating the holders there is not any provision in the Bill for the workers or haulers, who might lose their occupations through the operation of this Bill. I am not, however, clear on that point. But if through an oversight that has been omitted, I hope that provision will be made for it. It is rather strange that Deputy Daly should have brought up a point on which I was very keen. That is that the board of conservators should have no jurisdiction over trout anglers. I cannot see any connection, high nor dry, between salmon and trout angling, and cannot see why the board of conservators should claim jurisdiction over rivers in respect of trout fishery when they do not contribute a brass farthing towards its development nor hardly know that the trout fisherman exists. I put up the suggestion to the Minister that a committee of five, three of whom would be elected by the Trout Anglers' Association and two elected by the farming element whose lands adjoin the upper reaches of the river, should act in the area where the present board of conservators [2041] operate; that they should act as a body to take over the complete trout development in the particular area. I will give you one or two interesting figures in order to bear out my point, and I would ask what sympathy trout anglers can expect from, say, the Dublin Board of Conservators. The rates and rents paid by the estuary fishermen, those controlling the nets, amount to £140, and for that £140 their total catch for one year was 3,000 salmon. For the upper stretches of the Liffey, where the rod anglers operated, they paid a contribution of £250, and in that particular year got only 50 salmon. The Liffey Board of Conservators showed little consideration for the salmon angler in the matter of allowing salmon to go up the river—50 salmon, while down below they drew 3,000. Under the circumstances, what can the trout anglers expect from any board of conservators. I suggest that the outlook of the board of conservators is a commercial outlook, and is teetotally different to the outlook of the trout angler. I strongly urge the Minister to allow a separate body to control trout fishery in the different areas.

I do not intend saying very much more, but somebody has raised the question of the close seasons. We in Killarney open our trout fishery about the 4th or 5th of January. We would be prepared to close for the months of January and February if we were not compelled to close for the first fortnight in October. Our trout fisheries are open up to the middle of October, which is the most vital month for anglers in Killarney and for hotel proprietors, and is of very great importance to Dublin, Cork and cross-Channel people. In fact, there are more visitors to Killarney for that particular fortnight than in any other period. I am quite satisfied that trout are in perfect condition up to 14th October. I am not satisfied that salmon would be in good condition for that same period. We in Killarney are prepared to close the salmon fishery on 1st, October, but we think it would serve no useful purpose, and would be a great injustice if we were compelled to close the trout fishing on that date. [2042] As I said earlier in my speech, I have qualms of conscience about what is going to happen to the fisheries which are going to be acquired. You know what the system is. One farmer is decent enough to allow you to go through his land. Another man says: “I will capitalise it and charge £5 or £6 a year.” In the case of the man who is charging £5 or £6 a year, his fishery may be no more valuable than the man in the upper stretches. Are you now going to take over free fishery may be no more valuable than the man in the upper stretches. Are you now going to take over free fisheries, and allow the highest bidder to take them, incidentally cutting out the angler who has had access to them all his life time? I do not intend to deal with very much more, but some Deputy—Deputy Myles, I think—raised the question of sunset fishing. In my part of the country, from June until August, very little fishing is done except from 8 o'clock onwards. I think the person who put forward the suggestion that fishing should cease an hour or two after sunset did not know what he was talking about. I am surprised that anyone should even dream of it for one moment. I was down in Wexford for some time, and I can say that it was just about 8 o'clock in the evening that fishing commenced, for the simple reason that the trout would not look at anything until the sun went down. Somebody asked me to draw attention to Section 30, dealing with dams and repairs to dams. If the Bill goes through in its present form, it will give arbitrary powers to the Minister, and, in fact, if it is not amended, it might cripple existing industries such as woollen mills and others. There is a suggested amendment to that. That is all I have to say.

Seosamh O Mongáin:  Tagann maith as cáirde agus grásta as foighid. Fuair an tAire an cáirde seo le tamall maith agus, gan aimhreas, tháinig maith, mar do réir mo bharamhail, déanfa an Bille go leor maitheasa don iascach. Tá mé a cheapadh go raibh go leor daoine ag caint faoi'n mBille ar ar éigin go n-aithneoidís breac ruadh thar bhollamán. Dá bhrí sin, bhí sé deacair foighid ar bith a choinneál.

Isé an chaint is mó bhí faoi coróin de cheadúnas a bheith le n-íoc. Tá mé a cheapadh nach ndéanfa sé seo dochar ar bith. Ach, nuair a [2043] scrúdóchas an tAire é go grinn tá súil go bhfeicfe sé go mb'fhearr daoine faoi shé bliana déag nó seacht mbliana déag fhágáil gan a bheith ortha ceadúnas fháil, mar gur beag an dochar a ghníos siad seo agus b'fhéidir go stopfadh muid o iascach iad má bhíonn ortha coróin íoc ar cheadúnas. Dá mbreathnuíodh sé isteach ann b'fhéidir go ndéanfadh sé luach an cheadúnais a laigheadú don dream a mbeadh coróin iomarcach ortha.

Tá mé cinnte go mbreathnóchaidh an tAire an sgéal go grinn mar teasbáineann sé go dtug sé go leor dá am don Bhille seo. An mhuintir a bhfuil locha bric ruadha acu tá siad a cheapadh nach ndearnadh tada san aimsir a caitheadh le iascach loch bric ruadha a chur chun cinn. Luigheann sé le m'intinn gurb shin é an fáth a bhfuil an tAire ag iarradh an tuarastail bhig seo fháil an bealach go gcuirfe sé ialach ar na buird iascaigh congnamh a thabhairt do lucht abhann agus loch breac ruadh le hatcheries agus a leithidí a chur ar bun i ngach áit, mar gur gan aimhreas déanfa seo maith do lochanna den tsórt sin. Do réir an Bhille caithfe beirt den dream sin a bheith ar gach bord iascaigh. Má dhéanann an bheirt seo a ngnotha ceart cuirfe siad ialach ar an mbord a thrí oiread a chaitheamh ar lochanna na mbreac ruadh agus gheobha siad astu agus mara ndéana na buird é seo féadfa an tAire é thógáil ar a láimh féin an bord seo a chur amach agus bord nua a chur isteach ina áit a dheanfas a ngnotha ceart. Dá réir sin, feicthear dhom gur maith dona haibhneacha agus dona lochanna beaga go mór mór an t-airgead ceadúnais seo a híocfar, mar más ar bhric ruadha nó ar bhric gheala no ar bhradáin é gabhfa gach uile phinginn de ar ais i ngach ceanntar a n-íocfar é le congnamh a thabhairt an t-iascach a fheabhsú agus a chur chun cinn.

Gan aimhreas, beidh leasú ag gabhail isteach ar an mBhille seo. Leasú amháin a theastódh, go mór mór o iascairí Loch Coirib agus iascairí Uachtar Ard go mór sé sin cead iascach bheith acu an chéad mhí d'earrach. Daoine bochta dhéanas an iascach seo agus an cupla punt a shaothruíos siad sa séasúr seo [2044] tagann sé an-fhoghannteach dóibh féin is dá muirighin. Do réir mo bharamhail-sa, ní dhéanann siad morán dochair.

Tá daoine ann adeir nach bhfuil an t-iasc go maith an t-am seo de bhliain. Bhoil, cheannuigh mise é go mion agus go minic agus d'ith mé é agus thug mé do dhaoine é as gach ceard le n-ithe agus ní chuala mé ariamh duine a rá nach raibh sé a maith cho maith is bheadh sé am ar bith den bhliain. Gan aimhreas bíonn an t-iasc ruadh seo sgeithte i bhfad roimh an Nodlaig. Mar sin ní féidir a rá go ndéanann seo aon dochar. Tá gach uile shúil agam go ndéanfa an tAire an leasú seo.

Leasú eile: go dtiubhradh sé cead dona buird i ngach ceanntar acu féin an t-iascach fhágáil oscluithe go dtí deireadh an fhómhair. Ní dhéanfa sé sin ach leas sa gceanntar a dtagaimse as go mór mór. B'fhéidir nach bhfuil dhá cheanntar mar a chéile, mar an séasúr d'fheilfeadh i gCorcaigh ní móide gurb é d'fheilfeadh i gCiarraidhe agus an séasúr a d'fheilfeadh i gCiarraidhe b'fhéidir nach bhfeilfeadh sé i nDún na nGall agus àn séasúr a d'fheilfeadh in nDún na nGall ní móide gurb é d'fheilfeadh i gConamara. Bheadh fhios ag gach ceanntar céard a d'fheilfeadh dóibh féin. Tá mise cinnte, i gConamara san áit a bhfuil eolas agam, nach ndéanfadh se dochair ar bith, cibé cén mhaith dhéanfadh sé, an séasúr fhágáil oscluithe go dtí deireadh an fhómhair. Is deacair an nádúr a bhualadh. Tá go leor sciences múinte anois, ach tá mé a cheapadh gach tír go bhfuil siad ar uireasa eolais ar go leor a bhaineas le iascach.

Timpeall chúig bhliana fichead ó shoin nó mar sin, shíl an Riaghaltas bhí againn an t-iascach a dhúnadh i gConamara. Cuireadh fear síos a raibh Mr. Holt air a bhí os cionn na iascach ag an am sin. D'fhan sé coicís ag iascach. D'oscail sé an t-iasc a mharbhaigh sé agus threis an méid sin a dhéanamh fágadh an séasúr mar bhí sé. Níl blas deifríochta i sgeitheadh an éisc o shoin. Duine ar bith a bhfuil fhios aige tada faoi iascach tá fhios aige gur maith an rud go leor dena coiligh a mharbhú mar duine ar bith a chonaic breac ag sgeitheadh ariamh chonaic sé go leor coiligh thart ar an [2045] gcearc ag tabhairt aire dhi, na coiligh ag troid le chéile agus ag réabadh nó ag sgaipeadh an leabaidh a raibh an síol ann. Nuair a corrofaí é seo d'imeochadh go leor den tsíol le fánaidh.

I ndeireadh na bliana marbhuítear go leor coiligh. Dá réir sin déanann se seo maith. Agus, rud eile dhe, má steptar an t-iaseach cho luath seo cuirfe sé go leor gio sa gceanat seo as obair mar is minic go leor daoine ag iaseach i ndeireadh na bliana.

Má thógann an tAire an dá leasú seo tá mé cinnte nach ndéanfa sé aon dochar don iascach. Tá an oiread ráithte ar an mBille seo nach bhfuil mórán eile le rá. Do reir mo bharamhail-sa dubhairt an tAire, é féin agus an Teachta Fionán O Loingsigh, ar an taobh eile, an oiread faoi is a bhí le rá agus nár fhágadar mórán eile le rá.

Mr. Hurley:  I have just a few words to say in regard to this measure. The Bill, I take it, is founded more or less on the Report of the Commission on Inland Fisheries published in 1935; that is to say, some of the recommendations of that commission are embodied in this Bill, while a number of others, rather important ones, are not embodied in the Bill. I should like to draw the Minister's attention to some of those recommendations which I consider were important and which are missing from the Bill. The commission urged a codification which would be, in the words of the commission, a plain restatement of the fishery law, easily understood by the layman. I think, from the different viewpoints that we have heard on this Bill, that there is a good deal of confusion of thought as to the interpretation of various sections; in other words, that the codification of the fishery laws which the commission wanted to have embodied in a Bill has not been brought about.

In a measure such as this the question comes to our mind as to the potentialities and the value of our inland fisheries. There is no gainsaying the fact that the development of our inland fisheries, as well as our sea fisheries would be a very valuable national [2046] asset. The value of salmon and trout exported is on an average about £250,000 a year, and the value of eels exported is about £10,000 a year. That is certainly a very valuable contribution to our export trade. Of course, those figures do not adequately represent the value of the fisheries to the nation, because they do not take into account that between £50,000 and £60,000 worth of fish would be consumed by our own citizens. From the point of view of the value of the inland fisheries as a national asset, there is definitely a necessity for a Bill such as this.

There is some indefiniteness with regard to what is really meant in some of those sections. Under Part V of the Bill, power is conferred on the Minister to acquire fishing rights, and Deputy Seán Flynn has already referred to this point—I would also like to stress it—that where the Minister is authorised to make an order taking over any fishery district, that order cannot, as far as I can read the section, come into full operation until a period of ten years has elapsed. If there is necessity, and I am told there is, for acquiring fishery rights in certain districts, then I think it should be done as speedily as possible. Deputy Seán Flynn gave instances of where that might be a hardship in his constituency, but I think it is pretty generally understood that where the fisheries are in the hands of private individuals very often exploitation takes place. I would like to impress on the Minister the necessity for more expedition in the taking over of fisheries by the State.

Power is also conferred in the Bill to carry out research work on behalf of the Minister, and in that connection I would like to see further provision made for research and for restocking rivers and lakes, especially in view of the tourist traffic. During the tourist season there is a good deal of employment given in connection with the fishery industry, or the side of fishing which is regarded as sport. It gives a good deal of employment and attracts many visitors, who come specially to fish in this country.

There is a provision in the Bill indicating [2047] that when the State takes over privately-owned fisheries the fishing rights under the control of the Board of Works and the Land Commission will vest in the Minister at the end of the transition period. Why is it that the fisheries vested in the Electricity Supply Board are not also taken over? It is not the purpose of the Electricity Supply Board to own and control and run fisheries, and one would think that this would, in the natural order of events, revert to the State and come under the control of the Minister for Agriculture.

Under Section 67, provision is made for the payment of compensation to the existing owners in respect of fisheries transferred to the Minister. Under Section 68 provision is made for the payment of compensation to the employees of the fishery concerns which will be transferred. But the provision for the employees is not on a very generous scale for the loss of employment. The employee, to be entitled to compensation for loss of employment, must show that he has been in continuous service, has been engaged in fishing for the whole of three open fishing seasons; that he was constantly and regularly employed by the occupier, and that his remuneration from this source formed the major portion of his livelihood. It would appear, however, that the amount of compensation payable to an employee under the section cannot exceed a sum equal to 13 weeks' wages. I think the Minister should look into that and see that a more generous compensation will be given to the employee who has lost his employment through the operations of Section 68.

The payment of this 5/- licence fee by trout fishermen has already been pretty generally dealt with. The recommendation of the commission was that 5/- would be the fee for a brown trout angling rod, and would be available in any district, but that recommendation has been ignored in the Bill. Perhaps the Minister will explain the reason why. It will certainly be a hardship on a large number of trout anglers, who have drawn the attention of Deputies to the matter. Probably a good case [2048] could be made for charging the 5/- fee if the angler had the right to fish in any district he wished. I think the point was made by Deputy Lynch that the payment of this fee would give the trout angler certain rights in the matter of appointment to boards of conservators. I do not understand that, because if a trout angler has to pay 5/- fee in various districts, how can he have the right to be nominated or appointed a conservator for more than one district? I think there is no case to be made for increasing the fee beyond the 5/- and giving the angler the right to fish in any district he wishes, in accordance with the recommendation of the commission.

Under the Bill the present system of boards of fishery conservators is preserved. The Minister, I admit, is taking power to inquire into their functions, and to see that they carry out their functions. As a matter of fact, he is taking power to abolish them, and to appoint some other body to discharge their functions. The commission of inquiry recommended that these boards be abolished, and that a fishery superintendent be appointed instead in each fishery district, to be assisted by voluntary advisory committees. The commission recommended that a body such as the Irish Tourist Development Association, the Anglers' Association, and other bodies should be given representation on the advisory committees. A good deal of the criticism levelled against those boards of conservators in the course of this debate has, I think, been justified; yet we find that the important recommendation made by the commission of inquiry in regard to them is being completely ignored in the Bill. Again, one does not know the reason why. Probably the Minister will explain when replying.

This Bill continues to make the fishery laws the preserve of the boards of conservators. They are to be authorised to issue fishery licences and the right to permit or refuse any person to export salmon or trout. That seems very far-fetched. I venture to say that these boards are not in touch at all with public opinion. They are in no way subject to it. There is good reason, I believe, for revising the [2049] powers that they at present exercise. The recommendation of the commission with regard to the erection of three brown trout hatcheries for the development of Lough Corrib as a brown trout fishery preserve is also ignored in the Bill. It is not clear to us how other recommendations of the commission are to be implemented, such, for instance, as the encouragement of anglers' associations, the preservation of ova from destruction, the establishment of a fishing college, the development of propaganda, etc. No indication is given as to how these and other recommendations are to be implemented.

With regard to the preservation of fish, serious complaint is made by the fishermen in the Lee that a great deal of destruction is being done by seals. The suggestion has been put forward in all seriousness that in this matter the Minister for Defence might help by putting at the disposal of the Minister for Fisheries a number of Army men with rifles, in the hope that their efforts would help to deplete the big number of seals in Cork Harbour.

Mr. Gorey:  And improve their markmanship as well.

Mr. Hurley:  Yes, it might serve the double purpose. I make no apology for stressing a point referred to by a number of other Deputies—the increase in the licence duty for draft-net fishermen. With regard to those who fish in tidal waters, such as Cork harbour, Deputy Hickey has already told the House how difficult these men find it to collect the present fee. They have to make an appeal for public subscriptions year after year because the return from their labours as fishermen is so meagre. It will create a hardship for them if the fee is increased by 25 per cent. I think the Minister should reconsider his decision. I hope that on the Committee Stage he will agree to insert an amendment abolishing the proposed increase.

This Bill, of course, goes a good distance to provide increased protection for our fisheries. I have pointed out to the Minister certain weaknesses in it which I hope to see remedied on the Committee Stage. The important [2050] principle in the Bill is that of State control of our fisheries. I do not think that will do any harm to anybody. I think it is desirable that the putting into operation of that principle should be expedited as much as possible so that the good intended will be brought about at the very earliest date.

Mr. Gorey:  The records of this House will show that I have already been interested in the fisheries of the country. I had considerable experience of them at one time. I take it that this Bill represents the best that the Fishery Department can put up at the present time. It is certainly an attempt to meet a situation, but that situation will never be properly met unless the Department of Fisheries gets assistance from other State departments, such, for instance, as the Department of Justice. I outlined a scheme here at one time, a scheme which has not been improved upon to my knowledge, for the protection and development of our fisheries. As a matter of fact I heard that scheme adopted by Deputy Tubridy on the Government side and by some other Deputy on this side. They suggested, as I suggested many years ago, that special Guards should be employed to give assistance in the preservation of fish. I went further and said that in the fishery districts a Guard who had undergone special training in fishery matters should be attached to each barrack: that he should operate from his barrack in that fishery district in the open season, and that he could be transferred to the spawning districts in the close season. A great deal more has been done in the last six or ten years in connection with preservation than has ever been done before. I know one small river which never had a bailiff on it has had one for the last seven or ten years. The result is that the fish are increasing in important rivers such as the Nore and the Barrow. But what about the upper reaches of such rivers as the Nore and the Barrow? There is no preservation whatever in the close season, with the result that when the fish go up to spawn they are slaughtered. They are often fed to pigs because the people are not able to use them.

[2051] We will never reach the position that we should attain unless the Departments concerned go about it earnestly. Now that the Department of Fisheries are going about it in earnest, they ought to collaborate with the other Department concerned so as to make preservation effective. That will never be done unless the Departments work together. I do not anticipate that the revenue from the 5/- rod licence will be able to do the job I am suggesting.

One impression I get from reading the Bill is that nearly every section provides for a fine of £25. There is one section dealing with the use of explosives and poisonous matters under which I would not have a fine of £25, but imprisonment for two years or more. That sort of thing was carried on wholesale during the troubled times here. Gangs went to the upper reaches of the important rivers, worked down along them, doing about one mile of a river per day, and killing everything before them. I would not dream of comparing a person who uses explosives with a person who gaffs a fish. The fellow with the explosives will kill everything there is in the river, and I would not dream of having the same penalty for him. One effect which I see the 5/- licence will have on the individual whose land runs along the side of a river will be that, if he has to pay 10/- for a licence for himself and a member of his family, he will preserve his particular portion of the river and let nobody else fish it except himself and his friends. I do not know whether that would be advisable or otherwise, but it is one of the effects which strike me. I only really got up to stress what Deputy Tubridy has been suggesting—that the Department of Justice and the Department of Fisheries ought to make one big move between them and have proper preservation during the winter and the summer. In that way you will get very excellent results from the rivers of the country.

Mr. Corry:  I am glad that under this Bill power is taken to acquire fishing rights. We have been long enough seeing certain favoured individuals, [2052] with rights which date back to Queen Elizabeth's time, dragging tons of salmon out of our rivers, while the unfortunate fishermen cannot get a fish at the mouth of the rivers although they are paying for a licence. That, to my mind, is the only good thing in the Bill. I have a very definite objection to the 5/- licence, particularly in regard to the rural community. Fishing is one of the few pleasures left to the ordinary farmer or his workmen. In any parish not more than a dozen of them would turn out with a rod on Sunday for a bit of fishing.

The total amount of money that will be got out of this is about £4,000. Is it worth it? You may collect £4,000 if you get the people to take out licences. On the other hand, you will undoubtedly have them poisoning the rivers if they have no other way of getting satisfaction. The pleasures of an ordinary farmer at present are very few, and they should be left to him. You have only about a dozen of these people in any parish who will go out with a rod on a Sunday or a wet day, and now they are going to be hauled up before a magistrate and fined for fishing on their own rivers, for which they are paying rates and annuities. That is the situation that is going to be created, and it is not worth it. It will only mean that if a farmer has to pay 15/- for licences for himself and two sons for fishing on a river for which he pays rates and annuities, he will not pay it, and he will see that he will not let anyone else take fish out of the river.

I should like to make an appeal on behalf of the draft net fishermen. I know their circumstances all around the coast, as well as in Cork Harbour and along the Lee. I know that in 90 out of 100 cases these men have to have the licence money subscribed for them at the beginning of the season. I do not think there is any public man who has not contributed in that way. You are now going to tack on 25 per cent. to the cost of their licences without giving them anything in return, in my opinion. I do not know what particular use is going to be made of Duke of Devonshire's fishery when [2053] it is taken over, but I know the scandal that has existed there. I know that at the start of this season fishermen in Cork and Youghal harbours could not get one salmon, while four or five, or even ten tons of salmon were taken out of that gentleman's weirs in one day. That was the position there, and it is time to end it. I do not know what line the compensation is going to take.

Mr. Gorey:  They have compensated themselves.

Mr. Corry:  If the Minister would take my advice he would send down somebody there who would turn around and put an estimate on what they would get out of it in 100 years' time and cut it down.

Mr. Hickey:  Restitution money.

Mr. Corry:  Yes, restitution money. If I had my way I would confiscate it and make no bones about it. I preached that down there ten years ago and I preach it again to-day. I would have no scruples whatsoever about it. Any old lad who came over here in Queen Elizabeth's time was well paid for any job whatever it was he did at that time; he was well paid for it since and he has been paid for it long enough now. On the whole I think the Minister should withdraw that.

I cannot see any reason why the farmer or farm labourer should have to take up a 5/- licence now. What is the reason for it? It cannot be revenue because as I have pointed out the total revenue will not be more than £5,000. The game is not worth the candle. It only means that there will be fewer free rivers for city and town anglers and the rivers that will be free will have no fish in them. I can quite realise the position of the farmer who has been paying an annuity and rates all his life for that river, when he finds that he is now paying 15/- or 20/- for licences for himself and his sons. That man, we will say, is hauled into court for not having a licence. What is the next thing? A bag of lime will go down the river the following night. Make no bones about that. It is hard to blame the farmer for it. I would [2054] not blame him anyway. That section of the Bill is useless. It will only do harm and in my opinion it should be withdrawn.

Mr. Corish:  I think it has been admitted and will be admitted by everybody, that the Bill brought forward by the Minister for Lands and Fisheries reflects an earnest intention on the part of his Department to foster the fishing industry in this country. But we have to be careful that, in the process, no hardships are inflicted, especially on those who are depending on the fisheries for their livelihood.

I am interested in the fisheries in my own constituency and I am sure the Minister ought to be interested in them also. I am anxious to know from the Minister what, in his opinion, will be the effect of this Bill on the fishermen of the Slaney? How would they be affected by it? The Minister knows there are fishermen from Courtown, Arthurstown and Ballyhackett who earn their livelihood from fishing during the greater part of the year. He knows that for the past two or three years fishing in these places has been very bad, and he knows that in a great many cases the net fishermen have had to have a collection made for them to enable them to pay their licences each year. They got money in advance from those who were taking the fish from them. They had to pay back that money, of course, and the result was that they had to work a considerable time to pay off this money to the merchants.

I suggest to the Minister that it will inflict a serious hardship on the drift net fishermen if the licence be increased to £5. I would ask the Minister, on Committee Stage, to amend that section and so allow the licence to be procured at the old rate. These men have had a very bad time of it for the past two or three years. The Minister knows that for some time past fishing on the Slaney has been extremely bad. During last season the men on the Slaney asked for an inquiry to enable them to get their fishing season extended. They had to pay the costs of that inquiry, a very considerable sum. In that connection I suggest [2055] to the Minister that he should take powers, under this Bill, to enable the Department to pay the expenses of such an inquiry as I have just referred to, because certainly these costs inflict great hardship on the net fishermen. The inquiry held last year to enable the Slaney fishermen to have their season extended meant that the men were asked to foot a very large bill. It ran, I think, into £60. I suggest that the State should bear the cost of such an inquiry. The State does bear such expenses in connection with other Departments. It is not too much, therefore, to ask in the case of fishermen who have only a seasonal occupation that they should be treated in a more generous manner by the Minister than they have been heretofore.

A good deal has been said about the conservators. I think it was Deputy Lynch who said that their equilibrium should not be interfered with. I do not agree with that point of view at all. I agree with the point of view put forward by Deputy Flynn—that conservators to-day are largely composed of certain vested interests, men who have had certain hereditary rights and who because of certain factors that obtained in years past, have been able to get a hold of these boards of conservators. The result is that other people who have greater interests and who are depending on fishing for their livelihoods, have very small representation. I suggest that on the Committee Stage the Minister should take power to enable net fishermen to have greater representation on these boards and not be in the hopeless minority they are. For years these men are endeavouring to have their grievances removed, but being always in a minority no attention has been paid to their grievance by the boards of conservators.

One section of the Bill enables the Minister to pay certain compensation to employees. One wonders what “employees” means in that particular case. I take it that where there is a fishery owned by a certain individual or group of individuals where they have men employed for them and where the State takes over that fishery, that certain compensation will be paid to [2056] employees. But what is to become of certain groups of men fishing in the upper reaches of the rivers, men who will lose their occupation because of certain action which the Minister proposes to take under Section 5? I have in mind in New Ross, in my own constituency, men who are known as snap-net fishers on the upper portion outside New Ross. If the Minister's intention, as reflected in the Bill, is carried out, these men will lose their occupation. I wonder under what section they are to be dealt with and how compensation is to be paid in their case? I would like the Minister to let us know what their position is going to be. Before I conclude, I would ask him to give serious consideration to the section which proposes to increase the licences from £3 to £4 and from £4 to £5. These men on the Slaney have suffered great hardship in the past few years. The fishing there has been especially bad in recent years. Representations have been made to the Minister by his own constituents, and I do hope he will not turn a deaf ear to their appeals. I trust that something will be done on the Committee Stage to provide that a reasonable fee will be charged for licences.

Mr. Kennedy:  There are two or three points in connection with the Bill to which I would like to refer. My constituency is very much a lake country. One of the great sources of enjoyment there is the right to free fishing. With the exception of Lough Lene—which a certain landlord family claims not only the right to give permission to fish, but a right to own the water of the lake under some old charter—there is free fishing on the lakes there. If the result of this Bill was, to borrow a phrase, to put the dead hand of the Civil Service over the fishing, then I am afraid I will be opposed to this Bill. One thing that should be enshrined in any legislation of this kind is the right of the poor man and his son to go off on a Sunday, or in the case of towns on a Saturday evening, and fish. If machinery were set in motion so that he would have to go to a civil servant, or to an employee of the Department, to go out to any of the numerous lakes with which I am acquainted, I would be [2057] opposed to this Bill, tooth and nail. I hope that is not going to occur as a result of this legislation.

Under a certain section of the Bill, there are restrictions on the use of nets in fresh water. I should like the Minister, when replying, to let us know whether that applies to drum netting for perch. Perch are not regarded as a sporting fish, and are a very useful fish in May, June and July. It is quite common for farmers along the banks of those lakes to cast a drum net and get a good supply of perch for themselves and their neighbours. Is that prohibited under the Bill? Nothing else comes up in the drum net. They beat the perch into the net, and fill a boat with them. They are a good, useful fish in season. I should be sorry to know that under the Bill those people have been prohibited from casting a drum net and catching those fish.

I want to reiterate what Deputy Hickey said with reference to the Electricity Supply Board. I do not know what relation the Electricity Supply Board has with fish. There are certain rights that the ordinary man has. Even in the worst days of landlordism he preserved a certain right to cast an engine across a little stream and catch an eel for himself if he wanted it. The Electricity Supply Board stepped in within the last few years and took all those rights away. I think those rights should be restored. If the matter is not covered in this Bill, it ought to be covered. I also want to repeat what has been said in this debate that the boards of conservators have vested interests. I may be wrong, but it is the opinion everywhere that they are comprised of men who have private fishing rights, and of hotel owners who are interested in the tourist traffic. The tourist traffic is an asset, I admit, but the right of thousands of people in the country and in the towns to the enjoyment of fishing is also there, and must be preserved. The interests—the selfish interests or otherwise—of the conservators must not be allowed to interfere with the right of the ordinary people to their enjoyment. That cannot be stressed often enough.

I think those are the principal points [2058] I want to make on this Bill. I want to stress that in the midlands more people than you could imagine have boats. The small farmers go out to fish in the lakes, and they enjoy the fishing from February to the close season. I should not like to think that their rights would be interfered with. In conclusion I want to say this much, that whatever democratic change has taken place in the other Departments there is very little democratic thought in the Department of Fisheries. I hope that is going to change, and that we are going to have a democratic outlook in that Department when this Bill is passed.

Mr. Brennan:  If this debate were confined to fishermen I certainly would not have the right to speak, but I have had a number of conversations with a good many people who are interested, and they asked me if I could clear up a few points for them. I will be very brief. They do appear to think, just like Deputy Kennedy and Deputy Corry, that a very gross injustice was about to be inflicted upon riparian owners, small farmers and other people who own the land beside rivers. We must be very careful when we are passing a Bill of this kind, because in our enthusiasm and anxiety to do the right thing, to do the big thing, to do it well and to do it fast, we may very well overstep the mark, and may do something which would be very bad indeed for angling in this country. After all, as Deputy Kennedy said, the plain man has certain rights, or at least he ought to have, and this Bill as it stands at the moment would be a very grave encroachment upon his privileges. If we invite anglers to this country, and make provision through this Bill and other methods to have fish for them when they come, it is possibly a very good thing from the tourist traffic point of view, but we must be very careful that what we are doing is not a hindrance to our own people becoming anglers. After all, if you kill the desire in youth by taking away the opportunities from them, we will in time find ourselves catering only for foreigners. I do not think anybody desires that. I remember on more than one occasion here in Dublin seeing little [2059] boys along the quay in Bachelor's Walk—not to speak about the country —with their fishing rods. Will they be subject to prosecution in future, or is the Minister going to have any exemptions? If all and sundry are going to be prosecuted unless they possess a 5/- licence, then doubtlessly you are going to kill whatever opportunity there is amongst the young fellows to do any angling.

There is also another point to which I want to refer. I heard a discussion the other night amongst a lot of people who are very interested in fishing and know a lot about it. They wanted to know from me what was a trout rod. Now, I asked Deputy Gorey, and he gave me a description which is certainly very wide. Suppose a young boy goes out fishing with a worm on a hook, a pole possibly, and suppose he happens to go out into a muddy river at a certain time of the year and catches trout, is he liable to prosecution? Is he fishing for trout? What is the position about it? I think that matter should be cleared up. Unless you embody in your scheme some kind of protection such as was outlined by Deputy Gorey I do not think you will be able to get anywhere.

The conservators may have certain rights handed down from the feudal times. Perhaps Deputy Kennedy and Deputy Corry think they should not be carried on. Perhaps they ought not to be, but in any case, whatever you do with the conservators I think you ought to make some allowances or exemptions for the riparian owners who live on the banks of streams and rivers. They could certainly make it very difficult for the Minister, for the conservators, and for the people who want to fish there, and they are certainly entitled to some consideration. I would specially recommend to the Minister for his careful thought and consideration the young boys of this country who have a desire to go fishing and whom no person would think of charging any kind of licence fee at all.

Dr. Ryan:  We had a fairly long debate on this measure, and I think a great number of the points raised were [2060] points that could be dealt with more effectively when we come to the Committee Stage. They were dealing with individual sections, and I think it would be almost impossible at this stage to go over all those points and deal with them seriatim. I think all I should do is to take some of the matters that were discussed by a number of Deputies and to say a few words on them.

One point that was raised was with regard to compensating people who are put out of employment in connection with netting and fresh water fishing. That is dealt with completely in Section 45 (5), and it can be discussed more fully when we come to the Committee Stage. I think I can leave it at that for the moment.

Deputy Hurley gave the impression that we had almost ignored the report of the Inland Fisheries Commission which sat in 1935. As a matter of fact, I did make a few notes on that point because I did go to the trouble, during the last few days, of reading through the report again and finding out what were the recommendations that we adopted and the ones we did not adopt. The first point mentioned by Deputy Hurley was about codification. I said in my opening statement that we intended, as soon as this Bill was through, to try to consolidate all the fishery laws passed since 1842. They were consolidated in 1842, and we intend to go back to that year. There were about 15 Acts passed since dealing with inland fisheries, and we mean to have all those Acts consolidated into one Act and perhaps make certain changes. One of the matters which we might deal with more fully in the consolidation would be the powers of conservators and so on.

We have gone a little way towards consolidation, but not very far. We repealed two of those Acts, for instance, and put what was in them into one section. We also repealed three Acts which were passed here some years ago dealing principally with the River Erne and we are re-enacting the provisions of these three Acts in this Bill.

In paragraph 60 of the Inland Fishery Commission's report there are [2061] 15 separate recommendations for amendments of the existing law with regard to prosecutions under the Fisheries Acts. Seven of these recommendations have been adopted in full, two others in the main, and two of the remaining six will be dealt with in the Bill for consolidation, so that we have gone a long way, I hold, towards adopting the recommendations of the Inland Fishery Commission. The big recommendation they made was the taking over of estuarine fisheries and weir fisheries. We have done that. We have not, I admit, done it in the way they have recommended. We have not set up a central fishery board.

Deputy Hurley, who was more or less attacking us for not adopting the recommendations, did not refer to the recommendation to do away completely with netting, not only in fresh water but in estuarine waters. I am quite sure there is not a Deputy here who would advocate that we should have adopted that recommendation because, whatever way we might compensate the net fishermen in the estuarine waters, I think the men themselves and Deputies here would feel we had deprived them of a living, and that living is better than whatever compensation we might provide.

There are other proposals made which we have also adopted. For instance, they advocated the abolition of netting in fresh water. That has been adopted. We did not adopt the recommendation completely to abolish netting in the estuarine waters, but we have put in a recommendation here to limit it. We have put in provisions in the Bill to try as far as we can to limit netting in estuarine waters to what might be regarded as the regular fishermen and keep out casuals and so on who come in during a good year and take a certain amount of the benefits that should really go to those other men in a good year because they deserve to have a good year now and again, as we all know they have had a number of bad years.

There were some small recommendations, such as changing the title of bailiffs to water keepers, and we have done that. They also recommended a 5/- licence for brown trout, and that is in the Bill. They recommended a [2062] separate or a lower licence for sea trout, and that has been met in the Bill. The only thing with regard to brown trout licences was that they recommended that the 5/- licence should enable the holder to fish in any part of the State. We have not put that into the Bill. They said that the right of access to any fishery should be given to the central fishery board. Seeing that we have not a central fishery board, and that the Minister is taking over these fisheries instead of the central fishery board, the recommendation has been adopted in effect, because the Minister has the right to that access.

A question was also raised with regard to the encouragement of trout anglers' associations. We have not specifically done anything in this Bill that would encourage these associations. We have, however, been helping in the provision of ova, in hatcheries and so on. If this system goes through of having licences issued to brown trout anglers, and they in turn having representation on the boards of conservators, in all probability they will organise themselves. There were also recommendations with regard to the pollution of rivers by the effluents of particular industrial plants, through sheep-dipping operations, flax-water, and so forth, and these have been reflected in the terms of the Bill.

The Bill also contains provisions covering the commission's recommendations with regard to the removal of obstructions for the passage of fish up the rivers and the maintenance and repair or alteration of weirs and dams in rivers. They also recommended the engineering survey which has been outlined in this Bill. They recommended the development of research. We are providing for that also. We are providing for the taking over of a river where we hope to do some research work which will be extremely useful to the development of our salmon fisheries. There was one other recommendation which I came across, and that is that they recommended that The Angler's Guide, prepared by the Department, should be brought up to date. That has been done.

I have mentioned quite a number of [2063] matters which were recommended by the commission and which have been embodied in this Bill. Really, there are only two or three outstanding points which were recommended by the commission and not adopted. One was, as I said already, that we did not adopt the central fishery board plan. We adopted the plan of the Minister taking over instead. We did not adopt the plan of completely abolishing netting for salmon in the tidal waters. We have allowed them, as far as this Bill is concerned, to carry on as they have been carrying on.

As I said already, the points that have been raised have been connected with sections in the Bill and will come up for more detailed discussion on the Committee Stage. One point raised by Deputy Fionán Lynch was that in my opening statement I did not give him any idea of what the cost of the scheme would be. I do not say we have made a very close estimate. We could not possibly do so, but as far as we can estimate the cost of taking over all these rivers, it would be in or about £1,000,000.

Mr. Lynch:  How much?

Dr. Ryan:  £1,000,000. The point that was discussed most of all here was the brown trout licence. Some Deputies speaking here were in favour of that and a number of Deputies were against it. A number of Deputies also were not so much against the thing in principle but wanted certain classes exempted. Some Deputies, talking here on the brown trout licence, painted the picture of the rivers and streams of this country being studded along the banks by young men and unemployed men trying for fish. One would imagine that, if you were to go down the country and pass any river or stream, you would see along the banks of that river at least one fisherman every five or ten yards, but such is not the case, I am afraid. Then we were told about the boy with the sally rod and a bent pin, catching fish, I suppose, as much as he could carry home anyway. If that is the case, 5/- is nothing to him. As the picture has been painted to us, that young lad [2064] who can catch fish with a bent pin must be a genius and should buy a good rod and pay 5/- and he would make his fortune.

I suppose things are not exactly like that, and I am quite prepared, when this thing comes up for discussion, to discuss those exceptions. I think, for instance, there could be quite a good case made to make an exception of boys under 16 or 17. I suppose we could come to some agreement about the age, but there is one thing I think that we will have to insist on. The big point about this is that it was hoped that if we could get everybody fishing in this country, to hold a licence, it would be much easier to deal with the poacher. I think everybody will agree with that. I quite admit it is not so easy to get certain boys, farmers and farmers' sons and labouring men, to even go to the trouble of going into the office of the board of conservators, even if we were to give them the 5/- and say, “Go and collect your licence for yourself.” They would not go to the trouble of getting it. Even if he could write for it, he would not go to the trouble of doing it. I think we should insist on the principle of getting these boys and these farmers' sons, if they want to fish, to hold a licence. We could come down very low as to the amount charged. It could be even 1/-, or perhaps even as low as 6d. for the boys. We could say to the boy, “All you have to do is to write to the secretary of the board of conservators, enclose 6d., and you will get a licence back by post, and then you can fish away on that licence.” As far as I have been able to examine this subject, I think we cannot very well exempt them and say that there is no necessity to hold licences at all, but we can perhaps put into this Bill a provision that will enable the board of conservators to issue a licence for a nominal fee to certain classes. One class would be boys. There are other classes mentioned, which it may not be so easy to deal with.

I do believe that we would get very much more goodwill, and very much more co-operation perhaps, too, from the farmers who live along the river side, and riparian owners, if we could [2065] say also to them and their sons, “We cannot have you fishing without a licence; it is illegal; but it is possible for you to get a licence also for a nominal fee; but you will have to write or call in to the office and pay the nominal fee. If you do that, you are free from all penalty.”

Those are the only two classes we could consider very easily. There was another class mentioned. I think, Deputy O'Higgins was the first and others mentioned it afterwards—the unemployed. It appears to me at first sight that, even though it might be desirable to include that class, it would be very difficult to know whether a man is an unemployed man or if he can claim to be an unemployed man, or whether he should have a certificate from the employment exchange or something like that. It is going to be rather difficult to do it. However, we can give consideration to that, as I say, on the Committee Stage.

I would like Deputies to approach this subject from the angle that, if they would agree with me that the principle is accepted of a brown trout licence, then we could proceed; we could exempt certain classes, not exempt them from holding a licence, but exempt them from paying the full amount of the licence, and give them an opportunity of paying a nominal amount and holding a licence, and, in fact, having all the privileges of a licensed holder in regard to voting for their representatives on the board of conservators and so on.

With regard to the licence itself, if we could get general agreement of the House on it—I think it is a case where we ought to try to get general agreement because, as I said, we do want good will and co-operation on this point—we could even, I believe, reduce the 5/- although, if we had those classes I spoke of exempted, there would probably be no necessity to lower the 5/-.

With regard to the point of making the 5/- licence available in all districts, so far as I have been able to examine that, it is not so easy. Those who were here in 1925 will perhaps recollect, if they were interested in the subject at the time, that we were told at that time [2066] by Deputy Fionán Lynch, who was then Minister, that the system at that time was that a person who came and took out a salmon licence, wherever he might take it out, was entitled to fish on that salmon licence in every part of the country. The result was that many tourists came over here and people from Dublin going to fish in the country found it convenient to take out their licence in the Dublin office so that the Dublin Board of Conservators got a big income but there was not so much fishing done in the Dublin district. Those people got their licences in Dublin because they wanted to have everything prepared before they went to the country.

They went down and fished in the West of Ireland or somewhere else. For that reason, other boards were complaining that they were not getting the income. The system was changed in 1925. The licence was increased to £2, but there was an endorsement fee of 10/- charged in every district that the salmon licensee might go into. The same would apply, to a certain extent, to the brown trout licensee, perhaps not so much, but to a certain extent. That is a point I would like to see considered further before we discuss the question of having a lower endorsement fee for other districts or before discussing the point of making the 5/- licence available in all districts. I think we might leave it at that until the Committee Stage and see in the meantime what are the possibilities of meeting Deputies who have spoken here on this point, and perhaps we would be able to get suitable amendments that would meet with fairly general approval.

With regard to the net licence, I quite expected, of course, that Deputies would object to the licence being increased on the nets men. It is not a very big increase, and, as I said in the opening statement, we are going to limit the number of nets men, and, therefore, we are going to try to give a better living to the nets men. Deputy Fionán Lynch, speaking on that, said that that was reasonable enough, but he said that, after all, we could not promise a better income for those men until 1944. Perhaps the Deputy is right in that. It may take [2067] four years. If we have increased stocks in our rivers, if we can get more salmon up to spawn, by the time those salmon go into the ocean and come back as mature fish it will be 1944 before we get the return in increased fish for our fishermen. Therefore, the net fishermen can very well say: “You are putting up the licence before you give us the benefit.” I think we can meet Deputies to a certain extent on that. I would like to tell Deputies that, if they read Section 2 of the Bill, they will find that any section or any part of the Bill can be brought into operation, and we need not bring any section or any part into operation until we think fit. I am quite prepared, if Deputies are prepared to let that section stand, to give an undertaking to the House that we will not bring that section into operation for, say, two years. Anyway, we can meet Deputies half way.

Deputy Lynch's argument would, perhaps, induce Deputies to think that it should not be brought in until 1944. If I were to say that we will not bring it in until 1941 or 1942 we might be meeting everybody in a reasonable way. At any rate, it is a point that we can discuss on the Committee Stage.

Another point raised was with regard to compensation for clerical workers as well as manual workers, and also for employees in the freshwater districts. As the Bill stands, it appears that it is only the owners of netting boats in fresh water that would be compensated. These are points that we must look into before the Committee Stage. I think Deputies are under a misapprehension in their reading of Section 57 if they have come to the conclusion that we are giving a title to people whose title is in some doubt at the moment. Now, it is not meant, of course, in that way. The section only comes into operation when an Order is made. The Minister makes an Order that the fisheries in a certain district are going to be taken over. The section then will come into operation to give those people a title, so that they can hand over the fisheries with good title to the Minister. I would remind Deputies [2068] that it is not done for the benefit of those people, and will not be done unless it is necessary to give them title, so that they can hand over their fisheries with good title to the Minister. If Deputies realised that, they would not, I imagine, object so strongly to the section. I think Deputies would be right in their attitude if we brought in a Bill and said that we were going to ensure that those in occupation of certain fisheries at present were going to be made the rightful owners of them in cases where there is a doubt at present, and if we said no more than that. But the thing is not done in that way. When the Minister is about to take over, then what is set out here is done, so that the present occupiers may become the legal owners without question, and can hand over the fisheries to the Minister. The Minister gets good title in that way. I think there can be no objection to that.

With regard to a point raised by Deputy Flynn of Kerry and some other Deputies, I want them to realise, because there seems to be some confusion in their minds on the matter, that State ownership is not the same as public ownership. I want them to understand that public ownership is not being interfered with. Wherever fishermen have the right to public fishing at the present time, as in the case, say, of the net fishermen on the river Slaney and on other fisheries, their right to fish is not being interfered with. We are providing in the Bill that the number is kept down to the number of regular fishermen there at present. Where we take over under this Bill a privately-owned fishery, it becomes a State fishery, and not a public fishery. It will be owned by the State exactly as it is at present, or purported to be owned, by the person who is working it, and the public will not have a bit more right to it when we take it over than they have at present.

With regard to the taking over, I think it was Deputy Flynn of Kerry who said that the three-year period was too long because, he argued, the fisheries will deteriorate during that time. If the Deputy had a clear conception of the provisions in the Bill he [2069] would not make that statement. When an Order is issued of the intention of the Minister to take over the fisheries in a certain district, what happens is that the people who are in control carry on for the three years, and when the compensation comes to be fixed by the arbitrator he will rely, to a great extent, on the profits that were made out of the fisheries during those three years. Seeing that that is the case, it is not likely that the owner of the fisheries will allow them to deteriorate. On the other hand, of course, it may be said by Deputies that, if that is the case, then the owners of the fisheries will, during this three-year period, fish the river out: take all the fish they can out of it, and make no provision for the future. We will see that they are not allowed to do that, and Deputies may take it that there will be no deterioration. In fact, I think it will be all the other way: that owners will try, as far as possible, to improve the rivers during this three-year period, because every year they will be coming nearer to the compensation period. Therefore, they will naturally want to show that, so far as fish is concerned, there is no better river than theirs. They will want to show to the arbitrator how valuable an asset the river is and will seek to get the highest possible sum fixed as compensation.

I would also like to remind Deputies that the right to fish depends on two things. Deputy Daly talked about a man having the right to fish, and said that we were going to take that right from him because we were going to make him take out a licence. In saying that the Deputy was mixing up two things. At the moment any person is entitled to go to the board of conservators and ask for a licence to fish. That does not mean that when he gets the licence he can go and fish anywhere he likes. Under the licence he can only fish where he is allowed to fish and nowhere else. He cannot go in on a public fishery or a privately-owned fishery without the consent of the person who owns it. If a man is allowed to fish off a river bank he will still be allowed to do so, the only change being that we will ask him in future to have a brown trout licence. [2070] That is the only change so far as he is concerned. The same applies at present in the case of a person who takes out a salmon fishing licence. When he takes it out he must have the right to fish in the waters that he goes to, if it is a public fishery, or leave from the owner in the case of a privately-owned fishery. I would ask Deputies to keep those two points clear in their minds.

It is the same in the case of a gun licence. A man may take out a licence to shoot but after that he must find out where he is going to shoot. The taking out of the licence does not give him the right to shoot all over the country. He must, of course, have a licence to carry the gun, but if he goes in to shoot over a man's land he must first of all get permission from the owner. That applies to salmon licences at the present time, and if this Bill goes through the same thing will apply to trout fishermen in the future.

I was asked whether the Bill dealt with certain waters and with certain types of owners. It deals with all estuarine fisheries and all privately-owned fisheries in tidal waters. All such fisheries will, or can, be taken over under this Bill, and will be eventually if the present policy is continued. Also, all weirs will be taken over, whether in tidal or fresh waters, but we are not dealing in this measure with riparian ownership. Some Deputies said that we should. If we were to do that where would we stop. It would mean that in the case of every small stream the State should come along and say to the farmer who owned a field on the side of a small stream where an odd brown trout might be seen: “The State is going to take over this fishing bank from you and you will be compensated for it.” We must stop somewhere, and I am sure no Deputy would ask us to go that far. We are not going into fresh water at all. There may possibly be a point made for the taking over of certain privately-owned rights in fresh water but that is a question that must be considered later. I do not know if it would be worth while going into it now. I think when we have dealt with the tidal waters and the fixed engines we have dealt with quite [2071] a lot. We are not touching the riparian owners.

All licence fees go to the boards of conservators. They use that money for their own purposes, probably for protection. They also have some administrative expenses and some of them do some little work in the way of development. But, at any rate, all the money goes to them; none of it goes to the Minister for Fisheries or the Minister for Finance, or anybody else. I have been told by Deputy Myles and Deputy Gorey that we are not protecting the fisheries as we should. That may be.

Mr. Gorey:  I did not say you were not; I suggested a better scheme of protection.

Dr. Ryan:  That is right. I think we recognise that, because we are making an attempt in the Bill to get more money for the conservators if we can, as we feel that if they get more money they will do better protection work, because they will be able to afford to pay better men, pay them during longer periods, and perhaps pay more men. But if there is a lack of protection at present, I think you may take it that it is entirely due to the want of funds on the part of the conservators. On the other hand, I think everybody interested in angling and fishing will admit that during the last ten or 15 years a great improvement has been made in the protection of fisheries; that they are much better protected than they were ten or 15 years ago.

I was sorry to hear—I must say I did not hear it before—what Deputy Myles stated, that the penalties are not being enforced. I will inquire into that and see if anything can be done to improve matters. Deputy Crowley raised the point, which he said was also raised by other Deputies, that we should have separate boards of conservators for brown trout. The Deputy appears to regard the present conservators as conservators for salmon and white trout. I do not know whether or not that would be advisable. It is the first time that I heard the suggestion, and I have not thought about it. I certainly do not know as much about it as Deputy Crowley, but I do not know if it would be advisable. Surely, if you [2072] had two boards, one dealing with salmon and white trout, and the other with brown trout, there would be a good deal of overlapping of the functions of these boards. I think it would be better to try to have one board dealing with all these. If it is felt that the present boards have not sufficient regard for the brown trout anglers, or the development of brown trout fishing. we should try to improve things in that direction, and try to get the boards reconstituted or improved in that direction. If there is any truth in that statement—I do not say that there is—we should try to get the boards constituted on a more friendly basis towards brown trout fishing, but not have two boards, I suggest.

There were points raised about October being cut out for salmon fishing and about February being cut out for trout fishing. I think these points had better be left over for the Committee Stage. Deputy Bartley and Deputy Tubridy were rather keen on getting February for trout fishing. They stated that in their district in any event the trout were good during that month and perhaps not so good in other parts of the country. On the other hand, Deputy Crowley stated that in Kerry they were prepared to agree to the provision that January and February should be made a close season for trout, but he wanted to get half of October back for salmon. I am afraid that for geographical reasons it will be difficult to get an agreement on these points, but we may succeed.

Deputy Corry drew a very lurid picture of the Duke of Devonshire slaughtering ten tons of salmon per day. He told us that the net fishermen were not able to get a salmon at the mouth of the river while the Duke of Devonshire slaughtered ten tons of salmon at his weir. The Deputy was making the point that these poor net fishermen should not be asked to pay an increased fee for their licence. I do not believe that Deputy Corry is right. If he is right, I think we should put these net fishermen out of business. If they allow the salmon up the river like that and are not able to take one of them and let the Duke of Devonshire take them, why should [2073] they be left in business at all? It does not matter whether you make the licence fee £4 or £5, they have no business being there if that is the case.

Deputy Lynch raised a number of points on individual sections. I do not think we need deal with these at present, because they will be better dealt with when we come to deal with the sections themselves. He did suggest, however, that they were two sections which were unconstitutional. I must say that I did not like that accusation. I will have it looked into and, if the law officers or the Government think that there is any foundation for that allegation, we will try to get the responsibility shifted to the courts rather than the Minister in that case.

[2074] Question put and agreed to.

An Ceann Comhairle:  When will the Committee Stage be taken?

Dr. Ryan:  I suppose Deputies would not like to take the Committee Stage for about three weeks, and that would mean after Easter. I do not know when the Dáil will meet after Easter, but you might put the Committee Stage down for this day three weeks, on the understanding it will not be taken until after Easter.

Ordered: That the Committee Stage be taken on Wednesday, April 5th.

The Dáil adjourned at 10.0 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 16th March.