CEISTEANNA—QUESTIONS. - CONDITION OF IRISH FISHING INDUSTRY.

The following stood in the name of Mr. Darrell Figgis: To ask the Minister for Fisheries if he is aware that the Irish fishing industry is at the present moment in a perilous state; if one of the contributory causes to this is that the railway freights for fish are very high; if, in most countries that have a fishing industry to nurture and cultivate, special freights and facilities are arranged for the cheap and rapid transit of fish; and if he will undertake to call a Conference representative of the industry and of Railway Boards to inquire into the possibility of such similar action being taken in Ireland.

I beg to ask the question standing in the name of Deputy Darrell Figgis.

Has the Deputy permission in writing from the Deputy in whose name the question stands to ask it in accordance with the Standing Orders?

I take it that the Deputy has the authority of Deputy Darrell Figgis.

I have the authority by telegram. I think, however, it is a matter for the Minister.

It is a matter for Standing Orders.

It is a question of Standing Orders.

I am aware that the fishing industry is in a bad state, and that one of the contributory causes is that the railway charges for transit of fish are very high. The average increase on freights over Irish lines above the pre-war rates is about 50 per cent. for fresh fish, and 150 per cent. for cured fish, while the present through rates to Cross-Channel stations represent an average increase of about 62 per cent. on the pre-war figures. It is the case that in some other countries special facilities for the rapid transit of fish are provided, and I believe I can arrange for a Conference on the subject as suggested by the Deputy. I may say that within the past twelve months two meetings have taken place between railway representatives and officials concerned with fishery administration, and as a result certain reductions in rates have been secured. It is obvious, however, that the present is hardly a favourable time to demand an increase in transit facilities from the companies. The maintenance of the normal service is as much as we can hope for at present.