I beg to move amendment 1:—
Before Section 6 to insert a new section as follows:—
"(1) In addition to the elected members and ex-officio members of a board of conservators the Minister shall appoint to every such board such number of additional members, not being more than one-fourth of the total number of elected and ex-officio members, as he shall think expedient, who shall have a vote in all matters and shall have all the powers and privileges conferred by law upon members of boards of conservators.
(2) In the appointment of additional members of a board of conservators the Minister shall have regard to the necessity for securing representation of persons dependent wholly or to a considerable degree upon fishing as a means of livelihood and representation of the public interest in the preservation and development of fisheries."
The object of the amendment is to secure that the Minister shall have the right to nominate a certain proportion of the members who constitute these boards of conservators. Under the proposals in the Bill as it stands, the boards of conservators will be constituted, in the first case, of a number of people who own private fisheries up to a certain valuation. In the Bill it is proposed that that valuation shall be £50. Heretofore people who had fisheries valued at £100 or over were entitled to representation. The second class of people who will be on the boards are those to be elected under the provisions of Rule 8. As I see it, the constitution of these boards will be made up almost entirely, indeed I think I should say entirely, of people having an interest of a private nature in the preservation of fisheries. I think it is advisable and essential that the Minister, representing the public interest rather than the purely private interest, should have the right to nominate a certain proportion of the members who constitute these boards. There was a certain right which, I understand, did not work very satisfactorily, a right which it is now proposed to abolish, whereby a public board had, under certain circumstances, the power to nominate certain representatives on these boards of conservators. The boards in future will be constituted of people who own fisheries and of members elected in accordance with Rule 8.
My proposal, in brief, is that the Minister should have the right to nominate up to a certain proportion, and that in exercising that nomination he should have regard to the necessity for securing the representation of people who are wholly or largely dependent for a livelihood on the fishing industry. There is no provision whereby the people who earn their living by fishing, as against those who own fisheries, would be able to get adequate representation on these boards of conservators. I ask the Minister to have regard to those people in the public interest—the people who make their living out of the fishing industry. My amendment, too, would give the Minister an opportunity of giving representation to voluntary associations set up for the preservation of our fisheries. I do not see any other way except by this amendment in which they would be able to get representation on those boards of conservators. I think the acceptance of my amendment would make for the more efficient working of those boards, and that it would tend to secure for them a greater sense of authority in their own districts. In that way, it would lead to what I might call the development of a civic sense and a realisation of the importance of preserving the fish in the different districts. We know the opinions which were held amongst the general public with regard to these boards of conservators in the past. We know, too, of the difficulty they had in exercising authority and in preventing poaching. That was largely due to the fact that the boards themselves did not possess the confidence of the public. Now, in this matter the Minister is the keeper of the public interest, and it will be his duty to see that there are people on these boards who will have an interest in the fisheries from the public point of view. I think if he accepts the amendment he will be helping to create boards which will enjoy the confidence of the public to a far greater degree than did the old boards. I see no reason why the Minister should not accept the amendment.