Would there be any objection to taking all the other stages now? It is an agreed measure and much more the product of my predecessor than of myself.
In Committee on Finance. - Foreshore Bill, 1933: Fourth and Fifth Stages.
There is one section of the Bill which authorises the Minister to sanction the erection of sea defence works. I see nothing in the Bill to enable the Minister, in cases where it may be necessary, to erect such sea defence works. Has he thought of that matter at all in connection with this? He has had before him in promoting this Bill for the protection of the coast, coast erosion, but there are many cases where tidal rivers have caused a lot of erosion over valuable fertile land by flooding. In such cases this flooding could only be stopped by the erection of very important sea defence works on the shore, or across the causeway, where the natural barrier referred to a while ago has been removed by the natural battering of the forces of nature. I was wondering whether the Minister would not conceive in this Bill some idea of taking to himself the power of spending in this way the money we have authorised him to spend here under Financial Resolution No. 3, because there are around the coast several cases where valuable land running into thousands of acres has been ruined and destroyed through the want of such sea defences. I would ask the Minister to take this into account, and see that this Bill can be operated in such a way that such sea defences can be erected at the public cost. They would be rather extensive and important works. The local authorities would not be in a position to finance them, and the local farmers affected would not be able to contribute anything towards the cost of that work. There is, especially in the South, and in the constituency I represent in the County of Cork, much valuable land being destroyed for want of such sea defence works.
It is quite clear that this Bill is not designed to facilitate the Government in undertaking the erection of sea defence works where they are required. In connection with the protection of the coast it provides for the prohibition of anything that is going to produce coast erosion, or cause damage of that kind. We can prohibit people from removing material or works that might have that result. As far as taking action for the erection of sea defence works is concerned the obligation is upon the owner of the land affected, and we take power under this Bill to enable that person to erect sea defence works on any part of the foreshore, even if the foreshore is the property of somebody else. If he demonstrates to the Minister that the erection of such works upon other persons' stretch of foreshore is necessary for the protection of his property he can get an order entitling him to erect, at his own expense, those sea defence works for the protection of his property, but it would obviously be an undesirable thing that there should be any general provision for the expending of State moneys for the protection and improvement of the property of private individuals. If the property were public property, or the property of a local authority, it might be possible—and I think it has been done —that money provided for, say, the relief of unemployment might be expended on works of that kind. Where, however, the property is private I think the obligation to erect works to protect it or increase its value rests on the owner. We merely, under this Bill, facilitate him in doing it.