I move that this Bill be now read a Second Time. I do not think it can be regarded as a contentious measure. It was prepared almost entirely by my predecessor and was in a very advanced stage in the Department when I took up office. Certain difficulties arose which necessitated consultation with other Departments, and a re-examination of the measure and that caused the delay. It is only now that the Bill finds its way into the Dáil.
The foreshore of the Saorstát is, generally speaking, the property of the State, and the control and management of the foreshore are in the hands of the Department of Industry and Commerce. Certain portions of the foreshore belong to the lords of the manor but they are very limited. The boundary line between the property of the State and that of adjoining landholders is generally high water mark at ordinary or medium tides. Prior to the establishment of the Saorstát, the foreshore was administered under the State Lands Act of 1924. Early in 1923, the Government were advised that in consequence of Article 11 of the Constitution it would be necessary to have new legislation to regulate and control the administration of the foreshore. The opinion was held that the State Lands Act of 1924 did not supply the need for legislation for foreshore purposes. Consequently, after a considerable period of examination, this measure finds itself on the Order Paper of the Dáil.
The Bill is designed to enable the Minister for Industry and Commerce to give permission, by licence, for the removal of any beach material from the State-owned foreshore. Hitherto, except in cases where certain rights existed, by reason of Article 11 of the Constitution, removal of material from the foreshore could not be sanctioned. This Bill is intended to remove that disability and, consequently, it enables the Minister to give a licence of foreshore where, in the public interest, it should be given, either for useful public works or private works. It also gives power to control the erection of such works and provides for the maintenance of new works as well as those existing there already. The Bill also enables the Minister to give licences for the laying of cables, sewers or drains or the erection of such similar works as could only be provided before under the State Lands Act of 1924, which was a very cumbersome procedure, and caused very serious delay. The Bill gives power to prohibit the removal of beach material from any part of the foreshore where it might injure property by reason of the denuding of the shore of natural protection against the sea. It also authorises control of defence works on the foreshore belonging or not belonging to the State. It has been found by experience that such works were often placed in such a position as to divert the natural deposit of sand or gravel and thereby cause the neighbouring section of the shore to be subject to erosion. It also empowers the Minister to preserve the amenities of the foreshore for bathing and wading and sun bathing, by prohibiting the deposit of any substance which might be injurious to the public or the placing of any objectionable material in such a position as would be injurious or offensive to any person. There is provision for the preservation of the State title to any article on the foreshore that might come in there. There is power to regulate the public use of the foreshore and to purchase and take on lease foreshore not belonging to the State.
These are the main sections of the Bill and, as I have said, it is a non-contentious measure. It is necessary because of the dearth of regulations provided for some of these things and the cumbersome nature of the existing regulation in relation to others. Deputies interested in these matters will, no doubt, have acquainted themselves with the report of the Committee that considered the question of coast erosion in which references to these amenities and the legislation necessary were made. I do not think it is necessary to say anything further at this stage. The Bill is hardly one for Second Reading discussion. Any points that will arise will be better discussed on the Committee Stage.