Committee on Finance. - Fisheries (Amendment) Bill, 1957—Committee Stage.

Section 1 agreed to.
SECTION 2.

I move amendment No. 1:—

In page 3, to delete sub-sections (1) and (2) and substitute the following two new sub-sections:—

(1) This Act (except Sections 4, 6, 9 to 18, 23, 24, 28 to 30 and the First and Second Schedules) shall come into operation immediately upon the passing thereof.

(2) The following provisions of this Act, namely, Sections 4, 6, 9 to 18 and the First and Second Schedules shall come into operation on the 1st day of December, 1958.

This is an amendment which deals with a slight amendment to the Title in order to include private oyster fisheries as well as public oyster fisheries.

Would the Minister please explain the purpose of the amendment?

I have already explained it. We wanted to make quite sure in arranging for the licensing of oyster fisheries that we would include licensing provisions for private oyster fisheries as well as public oyster fisheries.

Amendment No. 1 and amendment No. 2 may be discussed together.

I am sorry; I made a mistake. The amendment dealing with the Title was put in the front of this brief and I was referring to the wrong amendment.

I thought there was something fishy about it.

The amendment now being examined is simply spacing out the arrangements for putting into operation the provisions of this Bill in a slightly different way than was previously envisaged. It was proposed to bring in the re-enactment of the provisions for the licensing of fishing engines and fishing duties on fishing rods on the 1st December, 1958. In order not to have confusion with the annual meetings of boards of conservators it is proposed to have a later date for salmon and trout licences for rainbow trout, also for oyster fishing engines and also to cover failure to produce oyster fishing licences on demand. Six months' notice has to be given in order to provide for penalties and, therefore, it was decided to make the Bill operate from a later date in respect of those.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 2:—

In sub-section (3), page 3, lines 31 and 32, to delete "24, 28, 29 and 30" and substitute "23, 24 and 28 to 30".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 2, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 3.

I move amendment No. 3:—

In sub-section (1), page 4, between lines 26 and 27, to insert the following new definition: "the expression ‘salmon rod (late season) ordinary licence' means a salmon rod ordinary licence which is valid for a period of six months commencing on a first day of July;".

This is one of a series of amendments to carry into effect the decision I made that there should be a reduced fee for salmon rod licences which comes into operation on the 1st July for the remainder of the season. It is proposed that the fee be £3 instead of £4.

I should like to ask the Minister whether this is his final and irrevocable decision in relation to the fee for rod licences, namely, reducing it to £3 and making it a late season licence? I should also like to know if this licence is equally applicable to the whole of the country?

Has the Minister in mind at all the issue of a licence that would be applicable to a particular area at a more reduced rate still?

Since the Second Reading of the Bill, there have been meetings of a number of boards of conservators and anglers' associations. I must say that, taking it as a whole, they have shown the most co-operative spirit in that they have seen the necessity to raise further revenue independently of whatever the Minister for Finance can provide. A number of the boards suggested to us that there should be a district rod licence at a figure less than £4 for a full year. I feel this is a matter upon which we will need the co-operation of the boards and angling associations. I shall consider before the Report Stage the possibility of providing a district season licence applicable to only one district at a figure less than £4. A number of boards actually suggested that figure. They all realise that more revenue must be got.

In connection with the restricted area licence, I was thinking of the person who tied his rod on his bicycle and went fishing on the Moy or the Blackwater.

That is what I had in mind when I said I would consider the matter between now and the Report Stage.

The Minister is aware that the figure of £4 in itself is not unreasonable but the trouble is that you have other licences on top of that. There is the E.S.B. licence which, added on to the £4, will make a very substantial sum. The Minister will understand the position from the discussions he had with the Limerick and District Angling Association. The sum of £25 plus the £4 is very substantial sum for an ordinary sporting angler.

I am aware of that position. There is a slight element of give and take in this. I have said that I will consider the question of district licences before the Report Stage. I shall bring the matter in on the Report Stage. It will represent more or less the views of the more reasonable boards of conservators who have been addressing me on this subject since the Second Reading.

And the anglers?

Amendment agreed to.
Section 3, as amended, agreed to.
Section 4 agreed to.
SECTION 5.

I move amendment No. 4:—

To delete sub-section (2).

I take it that amendments Nos. 4 and 6 will be discussed together.

These amendments are more or less of a drafting character designed to give those seeking fish culture licences a feeling of stability. The amendments also provide for the more orderly and sympathetic way by which they may appeal to the Minister in the event of the Minister determining to revoke a fish culture licence or amend one. They are just ordinary amendments of the kind frequently inserted in Bills of this sort to give time to the licensee to consider his position.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 5:—

In sub-section (3), page 5, line 11, before "or" to insert "or this Act".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 6:—

In page 5, between lines 15 and 16, to insert the following new sub-section:—

( ) The Minister, if he so thinks fit, may amend a fish culture licence within ten years from the date on which the licence was granted.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 7:—

To delete sub-section (4) and substitute the following two new sub-sections:—

( ) The Minister may revoke a fish culture licence—

(a) if the licensee is convicted of an offence under the Acts or this Act or any instrument made thereunder, or

(b) if he is satisfied that there has been a breach of any condition specified in the licence.

( ) The following provisions shall apply in relation to the amendment or revocation of a fish culture licence under this section—

(a) the Minister shall not amend or revoke the licence unless and until he has given by post to the licensee at least one fortnight's notice in writing stating that the Minister has under consideration, as the case may be, the amendment or revocation of the licence,

(b) the notice shall also state—

(i) in case it states that the Minister has under consideration the amendment of the licence— the specific amendment under consideration and the grounds on which it is so under consideration, or

(ii) in case it states that the Minister has under consideration the revocation of the licence— the grounds on which such revocation is so under consideration,

(c) the Minister shall consider any representations in relation to such amendment or revocation, as the case may be, made to him by the licensee before the expiration of the notice.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 5, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 6 and 7 agreed to.
SECTION 8.

I move amendment No. 8:—

To delete sub-sections (3), (4) and (5).

I press this amendment very strongly. This section is in my opinion the one section which warrants our opposition to this Bill. Some time ago the Salmon Conservancy Fund was set up for the purpose of imposing a levy of 2d. per lb. on all salmon exported. The reason given at that time by the then Parliamentary Secretary was that the amount collected from the salmon levy was to be allocated amongst boards of conservators so that, from the salmon levy, boards of conservators were to be given additional funds for the purpose of providing better protection for our salmon fishing.

The principle involved was one considered of the greatest possible importance because to impose a levy of that nature on the export of salmon was undesirable and many boards of conservators throughout the country very strongly opposed the Salmon Conservancy Fund. The fishermen made very strong representations at the time and objected strenuously to the payment of 2d. per lb. on the export of salmon.

The real idea behind the imposition of the salmon levy was not, as was intended by the Fisheries Department and the Minister, to supplement grants and financial aid to boards of conservators: it was merely to relieve the Exchequer of its responsibilities. A serious principle is involved in this case. This House should not agree to allow any section of any Bill, particularly a Bill of this type, to impose a levy on the export of an essential food commodity. When we see that, when salmon is exported, an export levy must be paid on it, are we not entitled to consider that this is only the thin end of the wedge? Have we not cause to fear that we shall have legislation later for the purpose of imposing a levy on the export, say, of our cattle or our meat or our eggs or our butter? Salmon may be looked upon in the same light as beef, eggs, butter, poultry. It all comes under, let us say, agricultural food. I feel that not alone is the proposal undesirable but it is wrong in principle. I feel the Minister is very unwise in the step he is now taking because the fishermen themselves have objected strenuously to the payment of this levy.

Perhaps the Minister will tell us what has prompted him to reimpose the salmon levy? During the time the Minister for Agriculture was in charge of fisheries, at the request of the salmon fishermen and of a number of boards of conservators and on clear evidence that was available—the statistics are there to prove it—the levy was withdrawn. One would imagine that if all the money that was taken in from the export of salmon were going in the direction of boards of conservators to supplement their incomes so that they might pay additional water-keepers, so that they might improve the wages and allowances of water-keepers, so that they might provide water-keepers with protective clothing or to help in areas where our salmon fisheries have probably been neglected through lack of staff, neither the boards of conservators nor the fishermen would have raised such a serious objection to this levy.

The people and this House were given to understand that the reason for this levy was to provide additional moneys to boards of conservators. The position was that boards of conservators got the same amount of money but did not get a substantial increase to cover the amount taken in from the Salmon Conservancy Fund. Perhaps the Minister will be good enough to tell us what has prompted him or on whose representations he has decided to make this Salmon Conservancy Fund—which was designed, in my opinion, for the purpose of relieving the Exchequer—a part of permanent legislation? I want to assure the House that I am speaking not in a very serious tone of criticism, but as a result of views expressed to me by fishermen in Kerry, Galway and Donegal. I do not know if their views have since changed but I feel they have not.

I had some evidence of the opposition that existed when I visited County Donegal some time ago. I met a deputation of fishermen who asked unanimously that this salmon levy should not be imposed as it was ill-designed, achieved no proper purpose and was, in their opinion, unfair and unreasonable. You had that coming direct from the fishermen concerned and, on the other hand, boards of conservators were themselves raising objections to it. If the Minister looks up the records of his Department, he will find from the minutes of a number of boards of conservators that strong opposition was voiced by the boards in respect of the introduction of this levy. Therefore, I feel that this section ought to be opposed. That is what prompted Deputy McMenamin and myself to ask that the House delete sub-sections (3), (4) and (5) from this Bill. I feel they are undesirable and that it is the thin end of the wedge.

If we agree to this proposal and pass it, I feel that we shall have legislative proposals later to impose a levy on some of our agricultural produce which we have for export. Therefore, I ask the Minister to reconsider this matter. He must have received the same representations as I received. There is only one difference. Certainly, I am not making a charge against any officers of the Fisheries Department who were always kind, courteous and helpful, but I feel the Minister is being persuaded by the official outlook in this regard. Neither I nor the Minister's predecessor was so persuaded. We stood on our own feet. We felt it was wrong and unjust. We wanted to relieve the salmon fishermen of this additional burden, but the Minister has reimposed it on them.

It would be unfortunate if an important step of this kind were really taken as a result of what is known as political spite. I can assure the Minister that we did not remove the export levy on salmon simply because we wanted to be different from our political opponents who had put it on. We were asked to do so. We felt it was wrong ever to impose it. We felt it would not supplement the income of boards of conservators but would, instead, relieve the Exchequer of obligations and responsibilities. I have often wondered since if political spite was the reason why the Minister came back to reimpose that levy which we had removed. As I have said, I think it is wrong.

I am well aware that it is the Civil Service viewpoint that that levy should be imposed. We all know that a Minister is under a certain obligation to be guided by advice and assistance from the officers of his Department who have a more technical and intimate knowledge of the running of the Department. However, in this, there is a principle of policy. There is the principle of policy of the export of our produce. If we are asking for more exports, if we are trying to increase and encourage exports, why should we tax our exports and make it more difficult for those engaged in the export business? I shiver at the idea of legislation of this kind passing lightly through this House without serious thought or criticism by Deputies who have responsibilities to their constituents, whether they represent fishing constituencies or non-fishing constituencies. What is happening to-day in the case of salmon can happen to-morrow in the case of cattle, butter, eggs or poultry. I feel that in this proposal we have a grave principle, and that is why we take such a serious view of the matter. I ask the House to delete these sub-sections.

Just one point strikes me. This section refers to the Salmon Conservancy Fund. If I read the White Paper correctly, the idea is that money is made available to that fund from two sources. The first is the levy, to which Deputy O.J. Flanagan referred, and the other is income from licences. If the Minister does not get income from some form of levy on the export of salmon, he has to get it either from fishing licences or from the general taxpayer.

I do not think it is quite correct to say that there have not been levies on agricultural products previously. In fact, there have been. There has been a levy on pigs for quite a long time and it is working quite satisfactorily. I give the Minister credit for trying to do the best he can in a difficult situation. We all want to see our inland fisheries conserved and salmon fishing an expanding and profitable industry, both to the salmon fishermen and to tourists who come here.

We must face the fact that the Minister has got to get his funds from somewhere. Assuming that the Salmon Conservancy Fund is to operate at all, it must receive contributions from somewhere. Personally, I am against loading the already overloaded taxpayer with more charges. I do not think the Minister has any alternative. In regard to the levy of twopence, the only possible suggestion I would make is to relate the figure of a penny or twopence to the value of the salmon on date of export. If the salmon is valued at 7/- or 8/- per lb., twopence would be quite a small impost; but if the value went down and there was a danger of its becoming an unprofitable venture, it might be quite a heavy percentage of the total value of the salmon. Personally, I doubt if the danger is as great as Deputy O.J. Flanagan suggests.

I was opposed to the original levy some years ago. I am curious about the motive behind this levy. What will be done with an accumulating fund of this size? Build up funds for conservators? What will they do with it? They have funds already. Their main function is to pay water bailiffs. Anybody acquainted with the problem knows that the whole technique of taking fish illegally is now completely changed from the days when a lot of fellows got together at night and went out with weapons of one kind or another to raid rivers. That is dead and gone for practical purposes. Now the destruction of fish is mainly by poison. I do not see that any extra bailiffs will prevent that. Some new technique will have to be developed for that purpose. Money will not do it.

There is no use building up a fund that is not required. I can see it fulfilling only one purpose: the conservators can appoint a whole brigade of water bailiffs because they have the money. The pressure will be put on them locally to appoint Tom Jones or Tim Murphy because they are in a very bad way and the conservators have plenty of money. The money will be used to appoint these fellows, who will be really useless from the point of view of effective protection of the rivers. If you had all the bailiffs in the country lined up, you could not prevent what is happening now. When they put the substance in the river, they could, in the last analysis, walk away and leave the fish lying dead to pollute the river.

The salmon fishermen on our inland rivers are very poor men. Are they not ground down with taxation already? Have we not made things almost intolerable for them? Why should we add another burden? For the most part, they are married men with large families. The imposition of this House weigh down on them already. I do not want to emphasise that because the Minister knows it as well as I do. There are years when these fishermen earn practically no money at all—in a very dry spring, when the fish lie out in deep water and do not come into the estuaries because of the lack of fresh water in the rivers. How are these men to live? There is no other type of work in the districts where they live. That should be kept in mind when this matter is being considered.

If I thought the Minister required this, or that this was a problem that money could solve, I would agree with him. In the first place, the Minister is not in need of money. The conservators have all the water-keepers they want. So far as defeating operations with the new technique is concerned, I find that the water bailiffs are next to useless. It can be done practically under their eyes and it has been done successfully. Money is not the remedy for that. The Department will have to find some other remedy to meet this new weapon.

We are imposing taxation on a class of people already over-taxed. Everything that comes into their little homes is heavily taxed and life is becoming unbearable for them. What we propose to do with money will not be effective. I do not think it is just. People talk about the amount of money fishermen make out of salmon.

Fishermen do occasionally get a good year, but how many bad years do they get? A great number of these men must be having a very lean time, and they must have the utmost difficulty in keeping their homes and rearing their children. It would not be just to impose a levy and we should not do an unjust thing. Some years ago, when a levy was first placed on the export of salmon, it was not such a serious matter. When the 2d. per lb. levy was imposed in the year of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth of England, salmon went up to 8/- a lb. A levy of 2d. per lb. on salmon at that time was only chicken feed. Now, however, when the price of salmon has fallen, such a levy would impose greater hardship on these people.

From every point of view, the imposition of a levy—whatever the amount—is wrong in principle. It is all right, of course, to say that fishermen can well afford it. Most Deputies probably do not know anything about the lives these men lead. They depend on a couple of months' fishing to raise the money to keep themselves, their wives and families—and most of them have large families—for the entire 12 months. It is a big problem. Every penny they get is required, and more if they could get it. I would ask the Minister to view this in a detached way and to drop this idea of a levy. I do not think it is a wise thing and I do not think he will succeed in attaining the objective he has in view.

As I said already, the people who adopt this new technique know their way about. They are out for one purpose and one purpose only. It is not a question of taking local fellows. They come in motor cars and that is one of the difficulties in dealing with them. They have their scouts to inform them how the land lies on any particular stretch of water, at any given hour of the day, night or evening.

I saw a number of cases last summer where one would have thought that the people involved would have been fully convicted. They were not except in one case. If I thought the money was solely for the purpose of building up defences against the illegal taking of fish, I would be the very first to support the Minister, but, even then, I would take the money from somebody else instead of imposing a levy on the fishermen in present circumstances. I believe that with the increased rod licences sufficient money will come into the boards of conservators. I am particularly familiar with this problem of illegal fishing in my native district. I do not believe extra bailiffs will be of any extra assistance. The bailiffs are capable, active men, but they are outflanked in spite of their best efforts. Again, I ask the Minister not to impose this levy on the fishermen.

I had better deal with the speeches made by Deputy McMenamin and Deputy Flanagan separately. Deputy McMenamin, I think because of some local experience in Donegal, is very pessimistic but I can assure the Deputy that boards of conservators around the country would be horrified if they heard the suggestion made that they do not need more money. They need more money to provide water-keepers with motor bicycles and motor cars, and also to pay them sufficient so that they can get good men to do the work. There has been poisoning of a horrible kind on certain rivers in Donegal on a few occasions but I would not say that represented the situation as a whole around the country.

I have to rely not only on the views of the officers of my Department but also on the views of the boards of conservators. I have met members of the boards around the country and I am quite satisfied they are keeping abreast of the most modern developments. They desperately need more funds to pay their water-keepers, to reorganise their water-keeping systems, to provide full-time employment instead of part-time employment, and to end the situation where along one stretch of water a man is paid a single fee of £10 for part of a season to act as a water-keeper, which under present circumstances is a ridiculously small sum, unless the happens to be a ghillie and it is in his own interests to act as a water-keeper.

I think Deputy McMenamin is a little pessimistic about the effects of the levy. Some of the boards of conservators are better managed than others but I can assure the Deputy there are excellent people on the boards and in most cases net fishermen and rod fishermen have collaborated continuously with the boards with the objective of improving the fisheries. I think Deputy McMenamin exaggerated the effects of the levy on the lives of the net fishermen. If a netsman does not net so many fish he pays a lesser levy. Average statistics are very dangerous, as the Deputy knows, and so I give this with a sense of reserve. The average value of salmon caught by a net in a recent year was £250, and therefore, 2d. a lb. in the early part of the season, and 1d. a lb. in the later part, cannot be said to be crippling from a statistical point of view. The average price of salmon per lb. in 1957 was 73d. and I do not think anybody could say I am in the position of a Minister for Finance, on either side of the House, crushing the taxpayers with taxation. I do not think 1d. on salmon which fetched 73d. a lb. in 1957 would be a crushing imposition.

I would like to disabuse Deputy Flanagan of one idea. There is absolutely no connection between any suggestion of a tax on the export of cattle and the tax on the export of salmon. Boards of conservators have to do the work of developing our salmon fisheries but they are controlled by Acts of the Dáil. Their operations are, to a considerable degree, managed by the Department of Fisheries and their regulations are controlled. At the same time the boards are of varying importance and vary in their revenues. Some of them have very small revenues but they do quite important work in salmon development. Therefore, it is very important to equalise the revenues coming from the salmon industry as far as possible.

As Deputy Flanagan knows, levies of various kinds have been established to aid exports, including the levy mentioned by Deputy Russell in connection with the pig industry which was approved by the former Minister for Agriculture. However, the Deputy must disabuse his mind of any suggestion that, because we have re-established the salmon levy, within a week or two the country will be informed of an enormous export tax on cattle. Cattle are not harvested from the water. They are produced by the farmer. I honestly believe Deputy Flanagan is not serious when he suggests a connection between the two.

We may take that then as a guarantee that the idea of a cattle tax has gone.

I have not heard any suggestion of a cattle tax and I am guaranteeing that there is no connection between the Minister for Agriculture and myself, or any other member of the Government, over this tax. The Minister for Agriculture is not lying awake at night wondering how soon he can start a cattle tax on exports and watching eagerly the progress of this Bill through the Dáil, having in mind that the moment we have our export levy fully provided for in legislation he will proceed to go on with the cattle tax! The idea is humorous. It should be in Dublin Opinion. I am sure Deputy Flanagan would be quite capable of suggesting a cartoon in Dublin Opinion representing this fantastically conflicting idea.

The Salmon Conservancy Fund is in operation. The money has been collected. This Bill is designed to make it part of our permanent legislation and to repeal the statute originally passed by the Dáil and Seanad which dealt only with the salmon export levy.

The next question I should like to deal with is the attitude of those interested in salmon towards this levy. I think both Deputy Flanagan and Deputy McMenamin must be not altogether in touch with those who are concerned. I am very glad to say that since the reimposition of the levy, and particularly since the Second Reading of this Bill, I have heard absolutely no protests whatever against the decision to make the levy part of our permanent legislation. There have been no week-end meetings of netsmen protesting, and no boards have protested. About ten boards have met and made proposals to me about other sections in the Bill, but there has been no formal protest from these nine or ten board meetings against the salmon levy and, since I have had the privilege of being Minister in charge of Fisheries, a number of boards have proposed the reintroduction of the levy and, on these boards, the netsmen were represented and offered no objection.

The Cork board met in March, 1957, and wanted the levy reintroduced at 6d. per lb. The Limerick board favoured the reimposition of the levy in May, 1957. The Bangor board in June, 1957, welcomed the reimposition of the levy. There were three other boards—I need not go through the whole lot—which either indicated their approval or actually passed a resolution favouring the reimposition of the levy, a levy which will bring in a sum of money varying from £14,000 to £20,000 per year and which will be used not only to improve water-keeping but will provide a fund for the development of salmon fisheries and the removal of obstructions preventing the passage of fish.

Could the Minister say if he received any representations from any salmon fishermen themselves asking for the levy to be reimposed?

Yes. The Limerick board in May, 1957, favoured the reimposition of the levy. The Bangor board in June, 1957, welcomed the reimposition of the levy; and the Dundalk board in May, 1957, requested the reintroduction of the salmon export levy. Possibly the climate of opinion may partly have changed due to the financial pressure which has been exercised on the public in general. Both sides of the House can consider this for the moment at least without any political rancour. Taxation has been increased. Ministers for Finance, representing different Parties, have pointed out that we have reached the limits of taxation and the one ambition I have is to find a permanent revenue that does not depend upon the kind of pressure that can be brought to bear on the Minister for Finance of the day in order to assist the salmon industry.

I want to have that industry as self-sufficient as possible and I know that the well run boards of conservators feel very strongly in the matter. They do not want to have to look forward to the introduction of the Budget to find out whether the Minister for Finance, with all the other claims upon him by other Ministers, has been able to find £14,000 or £20,000 from the general taxpayer. I do not think the general taxpayer should finance in large measure boards of conservators. The general taxpayer is already providing money for developing lakes and rivers through the Inland Fisheries Trust and through An Bord Fáilte. In so far as the week to week running of the boards of conservators is concerned, the sooner they are made independent of whatever may be the considered annual opinion of the Minister for Finance about how much he can give them the better.

I am very glad to inform the House that since the Second Reading of the Bill, boards of conservators in general have been most reasonable and, when we come to discuss, as we shall, the question of salmon rod licences I can mention some further views of the boards but, in regard to this levy, there has not been a single word said, so quite possibly the climate of opinion has changed since Deputy Flanagan had the privilege of considering this matter.

Might I ask the Minister to clear up one point? The Minister will agree with me when I say that when the inter-Party Government removed this levy of 2d. per lb. on the export of salmon that did not mean that boards of conservators did not get as good a grant as they had got previously. They got as much money for protection purposes with the levy off as they got when it was on. Is that not so?

That is correct.

Can the Minister not see my point then that the real purpose in principle behind the levy is more or less to relieve the Exchequer in general? If boards of conservators got as much without the levy, why impose the levy at all? Is it not really a further additional tax rendering the livelihood of the salmon fishermen more difficult? Deputy McMenamin was quite right when he said that the salmon fishermen, particularly those engaged in fishing for export, are not rich men. The majority of them are hard working, poor men.

As well as that, the price of salmon is not now as high as it was. There is no doubt that the price will drop considerably and, if it does, those people will still have to carry this additional burden of 2d. per lb. on the export of salmon. The Minister agrees with me when I say that when we removed the levy that did not mean that any board suffered a loss. On the contrary, they got as much money as they had ever got and, in many cases, the grants were increased.

That is a fact, but the position in the coming year is that the Minister is providing a sum of money in addition to the salmon export levies. It is not that the Minister for Finance is not giving extra. He is giving extra over and above the salmon export levy and he is also providing an extra £20,000 for inland fisheries development as a whole as between Board Fáilte and the Inland Fisheries Trust. The boards are getting much more money than they did under the last Government.

That is another day's work. The Minister says that all round grants will be increased and, on top of that, there will be additional funds to each board of conservators allocated from this fund. Is that correct?

The revenue from the export levy will be divided amongst the boards and there will be an additional sum provided by the Minister for Finance. Salmon rod licence revenue will equally go to the boards.

Question put: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand."
The Committee divided: Tá, 50; Níl, 25.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Blaney, Neal T.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Boland, Kevin.
  • Booth, Lionel.
  • Brady, Philip A.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Brennan, Joseph.
  • Brennan, Paudge.
  • Breslin, Cormac.
  • Browne, Seán.
  • Burke, Patrick.
  • Calleary, Phelim A.
  • Childers, Erskine.
  • Crowley, Honor M.
  • Davern, Mick.
  • de Valera, Eamon.
  • de Valera, Vivion.
  • Doherty, Seán.
  • Egan, Kieran P.
  • Egan, Nicholas.
  • Faulkner, Padraig.
  • Gibbons, James.
  • Gilbride, Eugene.
  • Gogan, Richard P.
  • Griffin, James.
  • Haughey, Charles.
  • Hilliard, Michael.
  • Humphreys, Francis.
  • Kenneally, William.
  • Kennedy, Michael J.
  • Kitt, Michael F.
  • Lemass, Seán.
  • Loughman, Frank.
  • Lynch, Celia.
  • Lynch, Jack.
  • MacCarthy, Seán.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Medlar, Martin.
  • Moloney, Daniel J.
  • Moran, Michael.
  • Ó Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Malley, Donogh.
  • O'Toole, James.
  • Russell, George E.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.

Níl

  • Casey, Seán.
  • Coburn, George.
  • Coogan, Fintan.
  • Corish, Brendan.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Costello, Declan D.
  • Crotty, Patrick J.
  • Desmond, Daniel.
  • Esmonde, Anthony C.
  • Everett, James.
  • Flanagan, Oliver J.
  • Kenny, Henry.
  • Kyne, Thomas A.
  • Larkin, Denis.
  • Lindsay, Patrick.
  • Lynch, Thaddeus.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Manley, Timothy.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, William.
  • Norton, William.
  • Palmer, Patrick W.
  • Reynolds, Mary.
  • Sweetman, Gerard.
  • Tully, John.
Tellers:—Tá Deputies Ó Briain and Loughman; Níl: Deputies Crotty and Palmer.
Question declared carried.

I move amendment No. 9:—

In sub-section (6), page 7, between lines 29 and 30, to insert the following new paragraph:—

(d) Whenever, by virtue of an Order made under paragraph (b) of sub-section (1) of Section 15 of this Act, the ordinary licence duty for the time being payable in respect of a salmon rod (late season) ordinary licence which is to be valid for a particular period of six months commencing on a first day of July exceeds £1 10s., each board of conservators shall, in respect of each such licence issued by it which is valid for that period, pay to the Minister, before the expiration of the year in which that period falls, a sum equal to the excess.

This is another amendment dealing with the provision of a salmon rod late season licence.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 9a:—

To add to the section a new sub-section as follows:—

( ) The Act of 1954 is hereby repealed.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 8, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 9.
Question proposed: "That Section 9 stand part of the Bill."

Section 9 provides that:—

"The board of conservators for a fishery district shall provide itself with a seal."

Is it not a fact at the moment that all boards of conservators have seals? Is it intended that there shall be a common seal for all boards conforming to a certain standard? Is there a purpose in making this an enactment?

Moving through the jungle of fisheries legislation the Deputy will find that there is no change. This merely means re-enacting something repealed in another Act.

Would it not be more or less the same for the Minister to insist that boards of conservators should have a public office for the transaction of public business?

That is not in the Bill at all.

I know. I am only suggesting to the Minister that if it is important to make boards of conservators have a seal, it is even more important for them to have an office for the transaction of public business.

That does not arise on the section.

Some of them have offices and some of them perform the work in their own houses. It varies from board to board.

That is the trouble. Before long the Minister will see reasons why the clerk should not work in his own house.

The Deputy will not press me to go through the horror of providing in this Bill for an office for the boards.

I am not pressing that point but it is no harm for the Minister to bear that in mind.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 10 and 11 agreed to.
SECTION 12.

I move amendment No. 10:—

To add to the section the following new sub-section:—

( ) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in Section 23 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1951 (No. 20 of 1951), the powers conferred on the Government by the said Section 23 shall, in relation to offences under this section, be exercised by the Minister.

I put down this amendment because I feel this Bill should make a concrete effort to right any of the existing wrongs in regard to fishery offences. As I pointed out when speaking on the Second Stage of this Bill, we all hoped the Minister at a very early date would come into this House with more comprehensive and up-to-date legislation. We all realise that the framing of legislation takes a considerable time, and the general public are a little uneasy at present with regard to the manner in which fishery offences are being dealt with.

I am raising this matter because I gave an undertaking even on the Fisheries Estimate that on every possible occasion I would avail of the opportunity in this House of contributing in a constructive way on the question of fishery offences. That is why, after consideration, I decided to table this amendment in the hope that, having regard to recent criticisms by boards of conservators, the Minister would not wait for the long-planned fisheries legislation but would avail of the earliest oportunity to end for all time the criticism which, I am sorry to say, is well founded, in relation to fishery offences.

I know the Minister's views in this regard. He stated them in the House time and again, and even when addressing boards of conservators and fishermen in the country, he expressed the views which I re-echo in relation to the manner in which those found guilty of illegal fishing should be dealt with. The very lowest and meanest offence of which any citizen could be found guilty is maliciously and wilfully attempting to destroy our fisheries. We have organised gangs of poachers in many parts of the country who are earning their living out of nothing else. They are equipped with transport and they have even made attempts to bribe water-keepers. Now we are getting back again to the question of paying the water-keeper, and the water bailiff, well so that he will be independent and will have sufficient wages or salary not to succumb to the temptations and bribes of organised poachers.

When the Minister looks up the files in his Department he will find that there are those organised gangs of poachers in a number of areas. They seem to be so well organised that they attract people of different political views and, no matter what Government is in power or what Minister is in charge, they always have some members with sufficient pull to have the fine either wiped out completely or considerably reduced. There is no use in the Minister coming here and saying that he stands for the protection of our fisheries and that he is sincere in his efforts to end the poaching of our precious and prosperous rivers, because when offences under the fishery laws are committed the courts, I feel, are the proper places to decide. The view I always held was that the district justices were too lenient, in view of the seriousness of the offences that came before them from time to time.

I have known cases, and I am sure the Minister is also aware of them, where water-keepers were beaten up. We had one case I think in North or South Kerry, where a water-keeper was beaten up, had to receive medical attention and go to hospital for some time, merely because the man was doing his duty. If the courts deal severely with people who commit that kind of offence it is a disgrace that any Minister should show the hand of mercy and set himself up as a court of appeal. Poachers, or those found guilty of offences under the fishery laws, can always appeal to the Circuit Court if they are dissatisfied. Permitting them to organise themselves for the purpose of interviewing a local T.D. and coming to the Minister for Justice to have the fine either wiped out completely, or considerably reduced, is encouraging this business.

It is all very fine for the Minister for Justice to say that he will do what he likes, that the power is vested in him to reduce fines, or otherwise. You have boards of conservators up in arms against this system. On the other hand you have the Minister for Lands stating throughout the country that he has recommended no mitigation of fines for fishery offences. I accept the Minister's word and I feel that if the Minister recommended mitigation in any case he would be wrong and would not be discharging his duties, as Minister responsible for the Fisheries Section, to help boards of conservators to stop poaching.

I do not claim that I set myself up as one who deliberately and on every occasion attacked the poachers but I feel that there are members of boards of conservators and water-keepers who love their job and feel that they have the same obligation to protect our fisheries as the Garda Síochána have to maintain law and order. It would be wrong to discourage them in any way in that view. I have always found the officers of the Department of Fisheries very cautious and careful in the advice they gave to any Minister or Parliamentary Secretary in charge of Fisheries, in that respect. During the three years I was Parliamentary Secretary I do not think I recommended the mitigation of a fine to the Minister for Justice in one single case. I can remember being criticised very much by the Cork Board of Conservators at the time and I also know of a case where a board of conservators passed a resolution asking for the mitigation of a fine. I can remember, too, distinctly turning down the request that came to me from a board of conservators asking that representations be made to the Department of Justice for a reduction in a fine. I refused to do it because on principle I think it is wrong to encourage that kind of thing. The Minister for Justice and the Minister for Lands may work in close co-operation in this matter, but it would be more satisfactory I think if the Minister for Lands had power vested in him either to uphold or reduce fines imposed for fishery offences.

I wonder is the Minister fully aware of the seriousness of this matter and of the amount of public uneasiness that exists in regard to the manner in which fines are reduced? A leading article appeared in one of the leading daily newspapers recently from which I shall quote. It appeared in the Irish Independent for May 5th last and stated:—

"A question of grave public importance was raised at a meeting of the Ballyshannon Fishery Board. It concerns the practice of the Minister for Justice in reducing fines imposed by the courts of justice on persons convicted of poaching. It was stated that there had been no fewer than five recent instances of the mitigation of fines in the Ballyshannon board's area. To what extent the same leniency is extended to poachers elsewhere in the country we do not know."

We must bear in mind that that is from the leading article of what I suppose is the most popular and widely read newspaper in Ireland to-day. I should like to know if it is a fact that in the Ballyshannon area there have been five instances of reduction of fines for fishery offences in recent months and, if so, have those fines been reduced by the Minister for Justice without consultation with the Minister for Lands. I should like to know if the Minister for Lands was asked to express an opinion whether or not those fines should be reduced, did he agree that they should and if he was not asked, why should the Minister for Justice take it upon himself to set himself up as a judge or an appeal board on fishery offences? That is the reason I propose this new sub-section, so that mistakes made in the past will be avoided in the future.

The leading article goes on to say:—

"This makes nonsense of the pleas made by another Minister to preserve and extend the inland fisheries as a source of potential wealth and as an attraction to tourists. The fishery boards spend large sums in paying men to patrol and watch fisheries, night and day; and their reward is this strange attitude of the Minister for Justice. The poacher is, of course, the meanest type of petty thief. The mischief he does is by no means confined to the fish he takes; very often he does immensely more damage. Everybody knows that having regard to the possibilities of the industry which is jeopardised by poachers the maximum fines for offences of the kind are nowadays quite inadequate. Yet the Minister chooses to abate the only penalties that the courts are permitted to impose. As was said at the Ballyshannon meeting, the price of one fish would pay the fine."

In the Sunday Independent of the 4th May, 1958, we find the heading: “Minister making Government ‘laughing stock’.”

The paragraph continues:—

"Ballyshannon Fishery Board consider the Minister for Justice is making a laughing stock of his own Government.'

After a stormy meeting—at which criticism of the practice of mitigating fines imposed in the District Court for breach of fishery laws was voiced —the board decided to write to the Minister for Lands setting out their views."

One member of the board said it was "against all law and justice" and made the functioning of the board impossible. I should like to hear what the Minister for Lands proposes to do to co-operate with boards of conservators. There is no use in the Minister proposing, as he has told us on the earlier sections of this Bill, to give boards more money from the Salmon Conservancy Fund for protection when the price of one fish will pay the fine for such an offence.

In the Irish Independent of 7th May, we find:—

"Mitigation of Fishery Fines is Criticised:

Protests against the mitigation of fishery fines by the Minister for Justice were made at Ballyshannon Fishery Board.

A resolution said the Minister was making a laughing stock of district justices and of the board."

I am sure the Minister reads, or at least, gets a copy of The Kerryman and there have been——

If he does not, it is not The Kerryman's fault.

Mark you, there are worse newspapers——

I did not say a word against it.

The Kerryman writes clotted nonsense most of the time.

It cannot write nonsense all the time. That would be impossible. It must have some common sense, and I saw some common sense in it when I read that, at a meet-of the Kerry Board of Fishery Conservators some time ago, the same matter was raised and I think a similar resolution was passed.

I do not know what co-operation at present exists between the Minister for Lands and the Minister for Justice in this regard, and I feel the Minister should tell the House and the country where he stands in this matter. I know he has certain difficulties: I can understand that, and I do not want to criticise unduly or severely. I found myself in the same position. I do not know whether the Minister for Lands recommended mitigation in the five Ballyshannon cases where the fines were reduced, but I can say that during the three years I was in charge of Fisheries, I never once recommended mitigation, even where the Department itself might be favourably disposed to such a course, nor did I do so in one instance where I was asked by a board of fishery conservators to do so.

The sole responsibility for the wiping out of or reducing of fines for fishery offences should rest with the Minister for Lands. If the Minister for Lands is actively engaged in providing money for conservators for protection purposes and parading the country from top to bottom condemning poaching and asking the general public to co-operate in preventing it, asking school teachers and Gardaí and civilians to co-operate in protecting the fisheries, then he should let the district justices deal with them as they think fit.

That is the operative part—"as they think fit".

Some of them do it well, and then the Minister for Justice comes along and he thinks fit to reduce the penalty. Whether the district justice is right or wrong, he is in the position to decide, and, where he decides to impose a certain fine, it is wrong to interfere with his decision, except in the Circuit Court on appeal. If the law is to be administered through the courts, the courts should have the final say. I say to district justices, and I hope what I say is published for their information, that they have been entirely too lenient and instead of fines of £3, £4 or £5 or 30/-, they should give six months in prison every time a person is found guilty of a fishery offence.

The Deputy would have half the country in jail then.

He would have some Deputies there, also.

If the law is broken in such an important matter as the deliberate destruction of our fisheries, a serious view should be taken of it. If anybody takes up a brick and throws it through a shop window, it is a serious offence for which he is punished——

What happens to people who steal your river?

Deputy Corish should not interrupt.

I feel that where any group organised for the purpose of doing wrong—and I am sure it is an organised group in the case of these poachers——

They are organised into flying columns now.

——they are destroying the greatest possible attraction we have for tourists. We have some of the finest fisheries in the world. The only trouble is we do not seem to get sufficient publicity abroad for the advantages we have in that respect. We cannot allow organised poaching and the bribing of water-keepers or bailiffs and we cannot have these people equipping themselves with lamps and lights and other electrical equipment. Such gear should be confiscated. I do not know if it would be right to do this, but I think that until such time as they realise the seriousness of fishery offences, the Minister for Lands should circularise district justices pointing out that they are too lenient in dealing with such offences and that imprisonment sentences should be imposed instead of fines. If imprisonment were substituted for some time, it would be easy to deal with such offenders. As stated in the Irish Independent, the price of one fish will pay the fine now and therefore it pays poachers well to be organised.

I am inclined to agree with the views of the Ballyshannon Board because, apart from the Minister for Lands and the Minister for Justice making a laughing stock of themselves, protection of fisheries is a responsibility which we all share. I am behind the Minister in all his efforts to stamp out poaching. I remember a recent speech in which he spoke very strongly and which, as is customary, was reported in the first news on the radio. He expressed the same sentiments as I felt. The only point on which I disagree with him now is that he has the chance to put himself in the position in which he need not depend on any other Minister. Every board of conservators, every angling club, everybody who is in any way associated with fisheries and every public-spirited citizen, no matter how small may be his interest in fishing, will be with the Minister in trying to ensure that the raiding and damaging of rivers will be ended.

I am afraid the present system is unsatisfactory: I know that from experience. The boards know it, and everybody connected with fishing knows it. If an effort could be made by the department to see that these organised gangs of poachers are denied a market for their fish, it would be an important advance. Representations should be made to An Bord Fáilte to see that hotel owners who accept poached salmon or other fish illegally taken are refused a licence and that the purchasing of such fish is looking upon as a far more serious offence than it is now.

This matter is the subject of conversation all over the country to-day. One or two instances would not warrant the public attention that has been directed to the seriousness of the matter. I ask the Minister to reconsider the whole matter and to accept my amendment. I ask him to take on the responsibility of deciding himself in all cases of fines of that nature. Too much leniency has been shown in the past and I am afraid that there is no provision in the Bill to improve the position with regard to poaching.

We have already decided that certain funds will be made available from the salmon levy to assist boards of conservators in their efforts to protect fisheries, but here we have the kernel of the whole situation and we can decide on the manner in which it should be dealt. It is not fair that the Minister for Justice should be asked to decide on fishery fines. It should be the responsibility of the Minister for Lands. He has the responsibility to boards of conservators to put down poaching. I feel that the Minister for Justice is often too generous in dealing with matters of this kind, and I make a very sincere and genuine appeal to the Minister for Lands to accept this responsibility himself. If he refuses to entertain representations from any Deputy, or anyone else, with regard to fishery fines, it would be all the better in the interest of the protection of our fisheries.

Most water-keepers are conscientious and hardworking men. It is most disheartening to them when they see the success of their efforts belittled by the Minister. It is most unfair, when they make captures and detect illegal fishing activities, that they should be discouraged in this way. A special bonus fund should be set aside by boards of conservators to award those water-keepers who detect the most crime. Instead of being discouraged, they should be encouraged in every way. An effort should be made to break up gangs of poachers. Poaching has been described as the meanest and lowest type of offence and for that reason I appeal to the Minister to do something about it. He cannot say the position is satisfactory because it is not, and every Deputy knows it is not. It may be a popular thing to say: "Do not send anybody to jail," but it is a wrong thing to do, it we are genuine in our desire to protect our fisheries.

Sterner measures should be taken to deal with poaching. If the law is to be administered fairly and squarely, it should be left as the courts decide. It is wrong for a Minister for Justice to interfere in such cases. It is particularly wrong for the Minister for Justice to reduce a fishery fine, unless the Minister for Lands has already approved of such reduction.

I should like the Minister to avail of this opportunity to reply to the leading article in the Irish Independent of May 5th. He should let us know if that article was warranted or not. Does he feel there was a great deal of common sense in the article? What has he to say to the criticism of the Ballyshannon Board of Conservators? This is a golden opportunity for him to express himself on this. There is little use in his expressing pious hopes for the future, unless some action is taken. I am beginning to think that poaching is on the upgrade, more than ever before. I suppose that the larger number of unemployed may, possibly, have something to do with that. I hope the Minister will accept the amendment.

I have listened with great care to the case made by Deputy O.J. Flanagan and I am inclined to believe there was a good deal of exaggeration on his part with regard to the seriousness of the position as explained by him. I come from an area that is supposed to engage quite a lot in fishing, particularly in inland fishing, and I am happy to say that poaching is very much on the wane in that area. I should like to say, and every Deputy, I am sure, will admit, that poaching, as we knew it, and still know it, is not carried on as extensively now as it was some years ago. First of all, most people engaging in fishing, particularly in inland fishing, are members of angling associations. Nearly all of those associations have in their rules a proviso that membership is subject to a certain code of conduct. If a member of an association is fined for illegal fishing under the fishery code, he loses his membership.

I am afraid the Deputy is getting away from the amendment.

I am saying this in an effort to show that the need for the amendment is not so great. Greater protection can be provided by the appointment of suitable personnel at a proper rate of remuneration. The Deputy referred to attempts made by fishermen—gangs, as he described them—to bribe water-keepers. I am sure similar attempts have been made from time to time to bribe other servants of the State and there is only one way, in my opinion, in which you can successfully defeat a move in that direction, that is, to give the people engaged in the protection of fisheries a proper rate of remuneration, security of employment and some pension rates. I believe the Minister has made what I might describe as a very formidable attempt to bring about that situation by giving more grants to boards of conservators. I am rather inclined to suggest to the Minister that this method would be likely to give increased protection. I feel that the number of prosecutions will be considerably reduced.

Various opinions were expressed here as to the inadequacy of the fines imposed by the courts. The general feeling in my part of the country is that the district justices deal very effectively with these offences and that, in fact, the fines imposed are, if anything, rather on the high side. There is also the question of costs.

From time to time during my short period in the House, I have made representations to the Minister for Justice and my experience in that regard is not at all on a par with what Deputy O.J. Flanagan reports. I find that the Minister takes a very conservative attitude in this matter. As far as I know, the application is referred back to the local board of conservators. In fact, it is probably referred back to the Guards. Indeed, I have an idea that it is also sent to the Minister for Lands and Fisheries for his views. My experience is that if the type of offence is not serious, the Minister for Justice is inclined to be a little sympathetic but the degree to which the fine is reduced is sometimes almost negligible.

It is a very serious question to take away the power from a Minister to review a fine of this kind particularly. I think the necessity for the revision of fines will lessen as time goes on. The fisheries have now come to stay and they are recognised as a national asset. The history of poaching dates back to the time when most fisheries were vested interests and very few people were allowed to fish them at all. They are now accessible to most people in the country who are in a position to pay the licence fee and avail of the facilities provided by the angling associations and the boards of conservators. I think at this stage that the Minister would be unwise to accept as drastic an amendment as that put forward by Deputy O.J. Flanagan.

I only want to say what I am sure the Minister will say in reply to Deputy O.J. Flanagan's remarks on this Bill and what, in fact, Deputy Moloney said. I think it would be a very bad thing if the Dáil—I have no doubt it will not—accepted the principle enshrined in the amendment. If it were to apply in respect of lands, as Deputy Moloney says, surely we would expect the same principle to apply in respect of the Department of Health, the Department of Industry and Commerce or any other Department of State.

If there is a breach of legislation for which the Minister for Industry and Commerce has responsibility, the appeal is not to the Minister for Industry and Commerce. If there is a breach of a health regulation and there is a court prosecution, a conviction and a fine, surely the appeal is not, and should not be, to the Minister for Health. Similar remarks apply in respect of what has been described as poaching. I do not think that the decision on an appeal should lie exclusively in the hands of the Minister for Lands.

The Minister for Justice has a particular job—his job is justice. He is concerned with seeing that justice is done. He is concerned with the administration of justice and I think we should well leave that in his hands. I am not conversant with his attitude towards alleged poachers—whether or not be remits fines ad lib or whether or not he is too lenient with poachers. I assume that, as a responsible Minister for Justice, he uses his common sense, which many of our district justices do not use.

I do not think it would be a good idea if the poachers of this country were to be put into jail for six months. The House should remember that there are two types of poachers. There is the type of organised gang, so described, and quite rightly, by Deputy O.J. Flanagan, who poach fish for profit. They use gelignite and all the other appliances to which Deputy O. J. Flanagan referred. I am sure the whole House is against that type of poacher.

They are the trouble.

Then there is the other type who poaches not for profit but for sport, and although none of us would condone that type of poaching either, it is a tradition as far as this country is concerned. Quite a number of our writers would be at a loss if we did not have the colourful poacher in this country.

I do not think that Deputy O.J. Flanagan should press his amendment. Like Deputy Corish, I feel that there should be an appeal to the Minister for a remission of fines. I do not think it is wrong that people should appeal to their deputies to help them in that regards. Deputies will not help them, unless they feel there is a case to be met. Perhaps a district justice may have fined a person too heavily. In regards to appeals in cases of fines by district justices for poaching or other fishery offences, my experience is that you do not get anywhere with the Minister for Justice as a general rule. It is wrong that the decision should rest finally with the Minister for Lands. As the case is tried in the courts of justice, it is the Minister for Justice who should have the making of any decision affecting these fines.

I agree with Deputy Moloney that the incidence of poaching has been exaggerated to a great extent. Where a person is convicted of poaching and an application made for the mitigation of a fine has failed, I should like the Minister for Justice to be able to exercise clemency. Not all cases are so serious as to merit some fines that have been imposed. I know of cases where I thought the fines imposed where possibly too heavy. In such instances I should be glad to know that the Minister, of his own accord, after having asked the advice of the Minister for Lands and the board of conservators, could reduce the fines, rather than that the aggrieved person should have to appeal to the Circuit Court and involve himself and others in a lot of expenses. The proper course is the course outlined in the Bill and I think Deputy O.J. Flanagan should not press the amendment.

Might I be allowed to offer a correction? I am not making any reference to the Minister for Justice who is a decent man and a man who uses his common sense. I am simply dealing with the principle. I was not attacking the Minister for Justice—far from it. I had the same difficulty when I was Parliamentary Secretary.

From that point of view, Deputy O. J. Flanagan ought to withdraw his amendment. I listened very attentively to him and the other Deputies who spoke. I agree with what Deputy Corish said about other Departments of State. If a man who prosecuted for not paying his road tax, I am sure everybody would agree that any penalty inflicted should be referred, if it is referred anywhere, to the Minister for Justice rather than to the Minister for Local Government. On the general principle, Deputy Corish mentioned a number of similar situations. What is being done seems to me to be the proper thing.

If the House were to accept Deputy O.J. Flanagan's suggestion, we might have to come later to the question as to who would initiate a prosecution. It might be a natural consequence of the acceptance of this amendment that such initiation should also be placed in the hands of the board of conservators, to the exclusions of the Garda authorities. I should like Deputy O.J. Flanagan to visualise the case of a member of a board of conservators committing a fishery offence. He will find there would be complications there that would be most embarrassing and that would, in my opinion, militate against a due and proper enforcement of the fishery laws. Such cases have happened.

Taking every consideration into account, I think the present arrangement is much better. Quite independently of the Minister for Fisheries, I think the Minister for Justice does refer these convictions to other sources for guidance. I think he takes all the reports he gets from the various persons to whom he refers into account. I am convinced he is in a more favourable position to make a just decision on any appeals that are made to him.

I think other Deputies have expressed my view in regards to these amendments. The Minister for Justice must exercise the functions of clemency or refuse to exercise clemency. It would set a most appalling precedent for Ministers of other Departments if they all had to settle questions of mitigation. The Department of Justice has its special functions. The officers there are able to give the Minister for Justice advice on legal questions. I should say also that the Minister for Justice and I have no disagreement about this matter. As I already informed Deputy O.J. Flanagan on the Second Reading of this Bill, without going into details, the number of mitigations has been very small compared with the number of prosecutions. Whatever articles he has been reading in the newspapers have been giving him a totally distorted impression in regards to this matter.

The Minister for Justice knows my view about poaching. I do not agree that there are two types of poachers. There may, in fact, be poachers with varying degrees of criminal activity but, from the point of view of the industry, we must be against poaching of all descriptions. We know, beyond all doubt, that, in spite of the work of the board, salmon stocks are not increasing sufficiently. We know that every time even an unemployed man takes a fish he will sooner or later eliminate the employment of one of the 5,000 people employed in our fisheries. If members of the public, whether unemployed or otherwise, were seriously to sabotage a single compact industry employing 5,000 people in this country there would be plenty of public opinion defending stern action against those persons. But, because the salmon industry is diffused because it used to be considered an Irish sport and, in fact, is now a universal form of theft wherever there are salmon, the public is slowly awakening to the need for protecting the fisheries.

We need a good public opinion and we need the co-operation of anglers' associations. We should like all anglers to join an angling associations and the Inland Fisheries Trust in order that they can make quite sure that there is co-operative public feeling about poaching. I would appeal to anglers to join an angling association so that we can have an additional number of water-keepers. The boards of conservators cannot do this work by themselves. They need the co-operation of anglers and the general public.

The House has no need to fear that the Minister for Justice does not fully recognise the importance of the salmon industry. The mitigations in the past 12 months have been just what I would have expected from a man of the intelligence of the Minister for Justice. I shall not comment on them: I should not, because they are his peculiar function. However, I can say that he and I work together in harmony on this question.

I should like the public to consider this whole question of poaching and not to make specious pleas. I frequently see cases in which someone is referred to as being in poor circumstances but who, in fact, is known to the whole community as a long-term poacher who made a good thing out of it and who has at last been caught. When people receive appeals for clemency from someone who is supposed to be a poor man very often such a man has been accustomed to large-scale poaching for a long time. I hope Deputy O.J. Flanagan will withdraw his amendment. Really, it is absurd to ask for this exception to the universal rule in this and other democracies; the Minister in charge of justice should exercise elemency or else in many cases, or in particular cases, refuse it.

The Minister will agree that in the case of a complaint made by the Ballyshannon Fisheries Board in which they allege five cases, one after the other——

I have not particulars of that case but I will look into it.

In the event of fines being collected for fishery offences, does the money go into the pool of the Department of Justice or back to the boards of conservators.

Back to the boards of conservators in all cases.

That is a good idea. In the event of more severe fines being imposed, perhaps some propertion of it might go, as well, to the Inland Fisheries Trust as a means of supplementing their income?

That would involve a whole series of frightful amendments in this jungle of legislation.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 12 agreed to.
SECTION 13.

With regard to amendment No. 11, I think we have already discussed that matter sufficiently.

Amendment No. 11 not moved.
Section 13 agreed to.
SECTION 14.

I move amendment No. 12:—

In sub-section (2), paragraph (a), page 9, to delete "and one year" and substitute ", one year and a period of six months commencing on a first day of July".

This amendment is another which introduces into the appropriate section the proposal that there be a full licence available from July 1st onwards at a final figure of £3. This is a consequential amendment on a decision I already announced in dealing with earlier sections.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 13:—

In sub-section (2), page 9, between lines 41 and 42, to insert the following new paragraph:—

(e) Salmon rod ordinary licences issuable for a period of six months commencing on a first day of July shall be called, and are in this Act referred to as, salmon rod (late season) ordinary licences.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 14:—

In sub-section (3), page 9, between lines 48 and 49, to insert the following new paragraph:—

(c) A salmon rod (late season) ordinary licence shall be valid and in force for the period of six months commencing on the date (being a first day of July) specified in that behalf in the licence.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 15:—

In sub-section (3), paragraph (c), page 9, lines 50 and 51, to delete "or a salmon rod (twenty-one day) ordinary licence" and substitute ",a salmon rod (twenty-one day) ordinary licence or a salmon rod (late season) ordinary licence".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 16:—

In sub-section (5), paragraph (b), page 10, line 8, before "or", to insert "or a salmon rod (late season) ordinary licence".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 14, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 15.

Am I entitled to speak on the section, as such, before the amendments are moved?

The Deputy is entitled to refer to the section when we have completed the discussion of the amendments.

May I speak on the section before the Minister moves his amendment?

The amendments must first be moved. The Deputy will then get an opportunity of speaking.

I move amendment No. 17:—

In sub-section (1), paragraph (a), page 10, line 40, to delete "or (4)" and substitute "(4) or (5)".

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 18 and 19 may be discussed together, if the Deputy so wishes.

I move amendment No. 18:—

To delete sub-section (1) (b).

Amendment No. 19 seeks to delete sub-section (2) (c). My reason for seeking the deletion of these sub-section is that I oppose the right of the Minister to increase the rod licences. We have not got from the Minister a clear statement as to why he is taking this step, or why it is necessary to increase rod licences. When I was Parliamentary Secretary in charge of fisheries, a proposal was made to increase rod licences, but it was rejected. No grounds in support of it were submitted.

The greatest attraction we have for tourists to-day is our fisheries. We can offer them, not alone the best and most attractive but the cheapest fisheries in the world. The increase the rod licences is not only to discourage tourists but to make the pastime of fishing a luxury. I fail to understand why the Minister should avail of this opportunity to increase these licences. They are dear enough at the moment, and no good case can be put forward in support of an increase. Tourists who come here can return to their own countries and, by making it known that we have the most attractive and cheapest fisheries in the world, attract further tourists here. We will be killing the goose that lays the golden egg, if we make it more difficult and expensive for the fishing tourists.

Of all the tourists who come to this country, the one most welcome to hoteliers and others is the fishing tourists. He is looked upon as the most easily pleased tourist. He stays out all day, taking his lunch basket and refreshments with him in the morning. He does not return for his dinner until night. Then he goes off to his local-hotel or public house to discuss how lucky or unfortunate he was, the prospects for the next week, or to compare the fishery with other fisheries he has fished. The hoteliers like to see the fishing tourists coming, and they would like to see them coming in even greater numbers. If we want to encourage them to come, we must prove to them that we have, not alone the most attractive fisheries but the best fisheries in the world. While we can tell them at present that, no matter what part of the world they go, they cannot enjoy the same sport as here, the effect of our increasing the rod licences will be to make it difficult for us to prove that not alone are our fisheries the best but they are also the cheapest.

I believe it is wrong to impose this increase. I wonder was the Minister moved by any political motive or not? We see that his predecessor turned down the proposal; yet he comes along and implements it. I do not know whether he yielded to a request by the Minister for Finance, or to whom he has yielded in this matter. It is wrong and it does not give very much encouragement to tourists and others. At present the rod licences are moderate enough, but they cannot bear any further charge. I am sure the Minister has examined the matter in the same light as the Minister for Agriculture examined it some time ago when he turned down the proposal.

There are enough people at present making it difficult for tourists to come here without the Minister increasing rod licences for tourists as well. I have often said that I believe a good many of our hoteliers are responsible for driving tourists away from us and keeping them away from us. However, we will be able to deal fully with that on another occasion. The Minister should at least facilitate the fishing tourists by not making things more expensive for them. If, as a group, they have to pay more for their licences, they may stay here a shorter time. While we can guarantee them the best fisheries in the world, we should also endeavour to keep to our boast that we have also the cheapest fisheries in the world. If the Minister increases the rod licence, we will not be able to make that boast. I ask the Minister to delete these two sub-sections. If he does so, he will take a lot of harm out of the Bill.

I appeal to the Minister to leave the licence fees as they are. I am particularly interested in the ordinary working man, fishing in the area contiguous to Limerick City, on the Shannon and on the Mulcaire. The Minister will recall that some short time ago he received a deputation from the Limerick Anglers' Association. They brought to his notice certain injustices which are not directly under his control; but I must point out, in the first place, that his obvious answer, or the reason he will give eventually for increasing the rod licences, it that he must get revenue somewhere. I submit that that is a ridiculous contension. There are several ways of getting revenue, other than by putting a further burden on the ordinary working man who, down through the years for generations, with his father and grandfather before him, has enjoyed angling in Ireland at a cheap cost. It is unjust to that type, who get their sport cheaply, to subsidise the industry as a whole.

The Minister has other methods. He has the method under Section 8, whereby he is empowered to increase the levy further, after consultation with the Minister for Finance. As a matter of fact I would prefer that the existing salmon levy should be increased further than that this burden should be imposed on the ordinary working man. I cannot see why the working anglers of Ireland should be sacrificed for the well-being of foreign anglers. That is hard talk, but that is the case.

It is sentimental nonsense.

The Minister may call it sentimental nonsense, but he cannot get away from facts. In this section, he is reserving the right to increase the salmon licence fees and the people who will have to bear that burden are the ordinary working men—not poachers, not people who use gelignite but the ordinary person who has conducted himself down the years. The sooner the Minister gets that into his head, the better, instead of accusing me of sentimental nonsense. I did not get up to waste my time or the time of the House and I certainly throw back in the Minister's face his contemptible suggestion.

If I can finish without further interruptions, some years ago, the previous Fianna Fáil Government brought in a levy of 2d. a lb. on salmon sold for export. Most of the reasonable anglers welcomed that innovation. Now it is proposed to give the Minister power to increase the licence fee by 100 per cent. and, at the same time, to retain the levy of 2d. per lb. Not alone that, but again, after consultation with the Minister for Finance, under Section 8, the Minister may increase the levy further. I respectfully submit it would be far more fitting to increase the levy to 4d., if necessary, and allow the ordinary man in the street to enjoy his pleasure, by leaving the licence duty as it is.

Again, if the licence duty is increased as a result of this section, it is setting up a precedent and other Ministers in time to come who want revenue may utilise it and come along with further legislation. I agree that in the section it is limited to 100 per cent. If the Minister is anxious to get revenue, I do not know whether it is feasible, but I would ask why An Bord Fáilte cannot make some contribution in kind towards alleviating the position. In the past, it was a sine qua non of all fishery legislation that the rivers of Ireland were primarily for the people of Ireland. I subscribe to that view. I agreed with it in the past and I agree with it now, even more so than ever. The Bill—and this is directly related to this point—also tends to abolish the supplementary fee of 10/- payable by salmon anglers who go from one board of conservators to another; but that has really nothing to do with this, as the ordinary angler is not really interested in this supplementary fee, as he can afford to fish only in his own district.

Furthermore, is it not about time that a Minister for Lands had the courage to introduce legislation whereby these sub-sections of Section 15 about salmon charges would deal with the entire matter of fishing? In Limerick—and I am sure this happens elsewhere—having paid their £1 licence fee—or possibly £4 in the future—they have to go to the E.S.B. The suggestion has been made from time to time that the E.S.B. would be far better occupied in generating electricity than in mismanaging the fisheries. I have not heard the Minister give any intimation of what action he proposes to take.

It is not part of this Bill and it is certainly not relevant on Committee Stage.

It is not part of this Bill?

On a point of order, can we discuss the ownership of the Shannon fisheries as part of the Committee Stage of this Bill and on this section?

I was about to intervene.

Before you intervene, Sir, with respect, I should like to point out to you that I was relating my remarks to Section 15 and the sub-sections thereof.

I do not think that is possible. There is no use in the Deputy trying to make a political speech as to the ownership of the fisheries of Ireland, on an amendment to this Bill.

There is no point in the Minister receiving deputations from local anglers' associations, if he is going to build up false hopes within them and is not going to take some action.

The Deputy may not discuss the administration of the Minister on this.

We are not discussing it.

The Deputy is trying and I suggest to him that he should confine himself to the amendments. There are two amendments under discussion at the moment.

There are two amendments under discussion and the first amendment is a very wide one, as it deals with a charge which the Minister can impose on anglers.

That does not enlarge it sufficiently for the Deputy to discuss the ownership of fisheries.

I never mentioned the ownership of fisheries—good, bad or indifferent. I said it was a pity the Minister should receive deputations from local anglers' associations who pointed out to him, and to whom he listened, the injustice caused due to the action of the E.S.B. Surely it is not unfair to point that out?

It is no harm for the Deputy to point out things like that, but he must find a suitable time to do it.

What could be a more suitable occasion than the Fisheries (Amendment) Bill?

I am not going to discuss that. The Deputy is not in order in discussing the amendment in the way he is discussing it and that finishes it.

To conclude, the charge of an extra £2 on the ordinary common-or-garden angler will mean a lot. Evidently £2 does not mean much to some people. We hear so much nowadays about emigration, and this is just another little kick on the tail, urging those unfortunate people to depart. I know the case of a member of a family who has three sons and they could not possibly afford this 100 per cent. increase. If angling is to be preserved for the ordinary people, the ordinary angler—and previous Ministers of all Parties evidently professed their interest in doing so—then I think that either this section should be omitted in its entirely or the Minister should give at least some concession and say he will take only the power to increase it by 50 per cent.

I should like to appeal to the Minister to review his decision in relation to the proposed increase in the existing rod licences which will, if this legislation is passed, be 100 per cent. greater in future. The increase proposed is, in my opinion, out of all proportion to the value that this amending legislation will bring to the fishermen involved. The rod fisherman will be asked to pay 100 per cent increase for his licence while the net fisherman will not be required to meet any increase, at the moment at any rate.

We must examine, first of all, what hardship this increased licence is likely to impose on the rod fisherman. To come to any sensible conclusion, we must ask ourselves who are the people who mainly hold licences for rod fishing. I agree with the previous speaker, Deputy O'Malley, that a substantial number of our licensed anglers are ordinary working people who are finding it very hard to meet their day to-day commitments without obliging them to pay more for a particular activity in which they engage. I suggest that 75 per cent. of licensed anglers are ordinary working people most of whom are not fishing entirely for sport. There may be a certain element of sport attached to the activity, but, in the main, they are fishing in order to supplement their ordinary source of livelihood to enable them to balance the family budget. There is no difficulty in proving that because most Deputies here, particularly those from fishing districts, are in a position to assess the type of membership in the anglers associations.

This 100 per cent. increase in licences is certainly exorbitant and will cause hardship on those people who have been fishing down the years and propose to continue fishing. If there was an all-round increase and some possibility of a substantial return from the increased charges, I could well understand why the burden should be shared by the different interests involved, but I find it very difficult to understand why rod fishermen should be singled out while net fishermen are excluded. I can forecast the Minister's answer: it is that there are large numbers of licensed anglers as compared with the small number who hold net licences and the Minister is endeavouring to get the necessary increased revenue he is obliged possibly to secure to enable him to rehabilitate the fishing industry. As Deputy O'Malley said, however, if that is the explanation, that in itself is not a sufficient justification.

This increase will impose a very heavy burden on a substantial number of rod licence holders. If it is at all possible, even at this late hour, I suggest the Minister should reconsider the proposed increase and reduce it to 50 per cent. If that causes a deficiency in revenue, which the Minister cannot very well escape, it is only reasonable then that he should direct his attention to the net fishermen. Most net fishermen are fishing as a business. There is a commercial aspect attached to it. They have big expenses but, if additional licensed duties are required at this stage, I suggest that the burden should be passed on to the net fishermen. I appreciate that the levy from salmon will be collected from net fishermen.

The case was made some time ago to me that almost the entire salmon exports come from net men and that a substantial part of the catch of licensed anglers is disposed of locally to hotels and private individuals. That is not correct, so far as the constituency I come from is concerned. The licensed anglers sell their catches to the local fish vendors in the ordinary way. I know many anglers who consider themselves lucky if they catch 15 or 20 salmon during the season. Of these 15 or 20 salmon, they never keep one for themselves. They could not afford to do so. They are anxious to meet their overheads and compensate themselves for the time they have to spend at this activity. Some anglers actually stay away from work for the purpose of fishing because they feel it pays them better and they are anxious to increase the volume of their catch. This 100 per cent. increase is entirely exorbitant and I appeal to the Minister to reconsider this proposal with a view to reducing the figure to 50 per cent. bringing the licence from £2 to £3.

In recent years all sections of our people have tried and have succeeded in forming anglers' associations and they have devoted a great deal of their time, money and labour to the improvement of the fishing in our rivers and lakes. It is certainly very unpleasant for them to find now that, from their resources, and some of their resources are very small indeed, they will have to contribute a 100 per cent. increase in their rod licences. I have an idea that it is not so very long since the rod licences were increased by 100 per cent. Now there is a further 100 per cent. increase.

Angling is a favourite pastime of large sections of our people and it is a great inducement to tourists to come here. The increase in the rod licence by 100 per cent. is a blow to our own people and to tourists whom we wish to attract. Some boards of conservators passed resolutions asking that the licences should be doubled. Among those were the Kerry Board of Conservators. At that time, they were under the impression that the increased licences would be given to them to increase their revenues for the better protection of rivers and lakes, but, according to this Bill, the increase is to go into the Central Fund.

It is redistributed.

There is redistribution?

100 per cent.

Boards of conservators hold that it does not benefit them.

The Deputy may advise them to the contrary. The whole of it goes back.

I have here The Kerryman dated Saturday, May 10, 1958.

The Deputy should not believe that low-down rag.

I beg your pardon; I object to that.

On a point of order, I think the Minister is not serious when he describes The Kerryman as “a low-down rag”.

I do not think it should be described in those terms in this House.

I withdraw, and I say that some of the articles in it are beneath contempt.

I think it is a very valuable journal. I am serious.

That matter cannot be discussed in this debate.

I do not think the Minister is serious.

I am not going to discuss The Kerryman, but what is in it.

The Minister has withdrawn.

He should never have made the statement.

In case the Deputy is under any illusion, all this money goes back to the boards.

The Kerryman must have a wrong impression.

It misunderstood the Bill. Perhaps I did not make it clear.

The Press reporters who attended a recent meeting of the Kerry Board of Conservators reported the matter correctly. I quote from the report:—

"That the operation of the new Fisheries Bill, which will become law next January, will mean a loss of revenue to the Kerry Fishery Board arising out of income from rod licences, was the opinion expressed at the meeting of the Kerry Fishery Board, held in Killarney on Saturday, at which Mr. G.A. Foley, chairman, presided."

The opinion was expressed by members of the board. All members of the board must have gone into this matter very carefully and they had studied the Bill. One member protested against the increase from £2 to £4 in respect of rod licences when the increase had to be sent to the Central Fund and did not benefit the board. The secretary pointed out that there was a resolution on the board's books already, calling to have the cost of rod licences doubled, but Mr. O'Donovan pointed out that when that resolution was passed, it was with the intention that the increased revenue would benefit the board and not the Central Fund.

The decision reached was that the Bill was a serious matter for the boards of conservators, that they would not benefit under the increased rod licence and it was decided to send a resolution of protest to the Minister and also to acquaint the Kerry T.D.s with the position in regard to the financial aspect under the new Act.

They did not contact us so far. I do not know what is the exact position, whether the increase sent to the Central Fund will be kept there or whether it will be sent back, as the Minister states, to the boards of conservators. The increase is a serious matter for anglers. Anglers' associations are protesting against the increase in the rod licence and are not taking out licences.

I was glad that Deputy O'Malley and Deputy Moloney, of the Minister's Party, protested against this. I do not agree with Deputy O'Malley that the levy on the export of salmon of 2d. per lb. should be doubled or increased to any extent. I do not think it should ever have been imposed. The Minister got away with a division this evening in regard to that matter. Now he wants to impose a further increase. The increase in rod licences is more serious than the other.

I was glad to hear my Kerry colleague, Deputy Moloney, protesting against this increase. I do not agree with him in wanting to go half way with the Minister and to have a 50 per cent. increase. I think the section should be withdrawn and I would advise the Minister to withdraw it in the interests of fishing, not only for the sake of our people at home who must be our first consideration, who are doing their best to improve and protect fishing, but also for the sake of tourists.

Tourism is very important and many tourists who can afford it come here and spend the greater portion of the year fishing. As the Minister has succeeded in imposing the 2d. per lb. levy on salmon exports, I would advise him to be reasonable now and withdraw this section. If he does so, he will have the support and good wishes of all people interested in fishing and in the success and prosperity of the fishing industry.

First of all, I should like to say that so far as the rod licence is concerned, the increase proposed for a full season, £2, is equivalent in terms of last year's average price of fish to 7 lb. of salmon. Taking the price of salmon even as half the average price last year, it is 14 lb. of salmon and it really is not so much of an imposition as it seems.

I am glad to tell the House, in particular Deputy Palmer and Deputy O. J. Flanagan, who raised this matter, that a number of boards have made comment on these proposals and five boards who discussed the question approved of the principle of an increase in rod licences. Then they asked for a mitigation of the actual amount proposed. So far as I can gather from an analysis that has been made, only two boards of those who passed resolutions on this subject seemed to disapprove of the idea of any increase in rod licences. Of course, it was difficult to gather an exact idea in some cases because of the very wide discussion that took place. So far as the views of the boards are concerned, of those that discussed the matter, more approved in principle of some increase in rod licences than have spoken against it.

I should like to repeat what I said before, that I do want to take the financing of the boards of conservators as far as possible out of the ordinary run of the mill of actual budget making. I do want to have them receive a permanent income which is sufficient for their needs. The increase in these rod licences will bring some £9,000 or £10,000 in a full year and the export levy will bring in from £14,000 to £20,000.

That would be £24,000, roughly?

Yes. That money is really needed in order that boards can operate in an efficient manner. I do not know whether Deputy Palmer heard me speak on the occasion of the Second Reading of the Bill when I pointed out that, with the change in the value of money that has taken place since 1939, the total income available to boards of conservators was actually £3,000 less than what would be required simply to make up for the change in the value of money. In spite of the great increase in rates and in spite of increases in grants given under various heads, they still lack any substantial development expenditure. They have very little more than what makes up for the fall in the value of money. What I want is to get for them permanently increased revenues which are not subject to consideration in each Budget and which will enable them to do their work well so that their waterkeepers will have proper means of transport and be well paid, and to make it possible for development expenditure to be undertaken improving the fisheries as well as maintaining their existing character.

Secondly, perhaps Deputies have not appreciated that there has been introduced into this Bill an amendment which will provide for an all-Republic licence of £3 instead of £4 after the 1st July. That enables fishermen to fish everywhere after the 1st July, and in view of the decline of salmon fishing in the later season in many rivers and in view of the existence of a number of fishermen specialising not only in salmon but in sea trout, I felt that was a concession to the views of the board who so co-operatively agreed to an increase but thought it was excessive.

I thought of a still further concession, that between now and the Report Stage I should consider the introduction of a £3 licence for the whole season confined to a particular district as compared to a £4 licence covering fishing in any district. Most of the boards who approved of the idea of increasing rod licences did advert to the existence of bodies of working men, people who had made a small addition to their salaries, in respect of whom the doubling of the licence fees would be serious for a full season. I propose to increase the licence from £2 to £3 covering only a particular district, that is, an increase of only 20/-. That represents some 3½ lb. of salmon for the whole season and is really not excessive as an increase. I should state that there has been no increase in rod licences since 1925 and that the average price of salmon has gone up since that day from 1/6 to 6/1.

As I have said, the boards really need more than the mere recoupment of the fall in the value of money and I hope these proposals and those which I will consider between now and the Report Stage will go far towards making the boards feel I am not killing the goose that lays the golden egg, that they will get more money, that I will get a good part of the £10,000 for them, that the money from the basic licence fee increase will automatically go to the board where the district licence is taken and that the rest of the money will be spread fairly between them all in accordance with their needs and with what they have received in previous years. Therefore, the Kerry Board of Conservators need have no alarm. There will be no subterfuge to deprive the Kerry board of funds. They obviously misunderstood the Bill and the explanatory memorandum which I sent, but it is quite possible to misunderstand a Bill of this kind. I feel I have gone at least half way to meet Deputies who feel that these licence fees have been excessively increased and I would like to feel I had the whole of the House behind me in the proposed concessions.

I take it the Minister's proposal for the Report Stage is that he will consider introducing a £3 licence to operate in a particular area and not to be applicable to the whole country as a £4 licence is proposed to be.

That is right.

That is an excellent arrangement if the Minister can do that.

I was present last Sunday at an annual gathering of Bráithre na Coirbe, the Corrib Brotherhood, who put a certain point of view to me. I did not have an opportunity of putting it personally to the Minister or by letter and as this is the first opportunity that has arisen the Minister will pardon a Parliamentary Secretary for making representations in this way.

Various points have been dealt with by different speakers and it is hardly necessary for me to stress the main point, namely, that local anglers are constrained by the tightness of their purse to local waters and that the concessions of a comprehensive licence could really be availed of only by tourists coming from abroad who know of the high reputation of our angling waters. I promised Bráithre na Coirbe that I would put that point of view to the Minister and I am doing it now. He has gone a certain way to meet that point. His offer to give a £3 licence confined to local waters meets it in some way. I wonder would the Minister, between now and the Final Stages of the Bill, try to work out some slight modification of the restriction of that £3 licence. Perhaps he might be able to consider including, say, more than one district. It is possible that a man from Galway might take a holiday in the neighbouring county of Mayo where he might have friends and where there is no necessity to pay, say, hotel charges.

Another consideration is that the Corrib anglers have the largest expanse of fishing in the country to look after and develop and they have co-operated very much with the Minister's Department in that respect. At the present time drainage works are taking place in the lower stretches of the Corrib. That has interfered for the past two years and will for the next few years to come with the chances of getting any value at all from a salmon licence, and adds edge to the representations they have asked me to make.

I should like now to advert to the general principle in relation to discrimination in arranging these licences. I suggest that if there is any discrimination the Minister should exercise it in favour of Irish anglers. The discrimination prior to the suggested change which he has now announced was in favour of the stranger, the man who would in any event be travelling all round the country. He got the advantage out of the comprehensive licence whereas the local man could not avail of it. If the tourist industry is the great advantage which we all know it is, it is hardly necessary to water down a charge like the cost of a licence to fish in order to entice the tourist in. I do not think that the tourist from outside the country will make a decision to come to Ireland because the angling licence is 10/- less than it was formerly. If we apply the attitude of others in dealing with ourselves, the boot should be on the other foot. We have to pay more for steel and coal for our industries to British producers, although I understand that we are one of their most important customers.

If that principle can be operated in respect of industries such as steel, and the industries in which coal is used, surely we are entitled to get a little more out of our administration of angling fees from those who come in to enjoy what we have to offer in the way of scenery and fishing? The discrimination should be against those from outside and in favour of our own local anglers. I am quite certain none of these anglers would begrudge paying a little extra over and above what our own anglers have to pay. If it was pointed out to them that the arrangement was made in that way most of them would say: "That is as it should be. They are your own waters and surely you are entitled to get a little more money from strangers."

In view of the change which the Minister is to bring in on the Report Stage, will it be possible for a holder of this proposed new £3 licence to fish in any area?

It is a district licence. That is what the boards have asked for. It is simply for people to fish in their own districts and for the man who cannot afford to go out of his district and who, if he does, will have to get a temporary seven-day licence.

Would the Minister not think that it would be still better to make it a Twenty-Six County licence?

No, I think we need to retain the £4 licence for the full season. That is for people for whom the £4 licence in itself is only a small part of their total expenses. They frequently have to pay the owners and this, I think, is the cheaper thing.

The £4 licence will still be retained and operated for the whole country but the £3 licence will be for a limited area, is that the position?

In the district for which it is intended, except that it will be £3 from the 1st July on.

The district is that under a particular board of conservators?

Yes. They have very wide areas.

Does the Minister think that that is the most satisfactory solution?

I do and from the representations made to me by the boards I do not think there will be much complaint from the boards.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 19 not moved.
Section 15, as amended, agreed to.
Section 16 to 20, inclusive, agreed to.
SECTION 21.

I move amendment No. 20:—

In sub-section (1), to delete paragraph (c) and substitute the following paragraph:—

(c) The Minister, if he so thinks fit, may amend an eel fishery authorisation within ten years from the date on which the authorisation was granted.

This amendment is moved to give the right to somebody who has a licensed eel fishing engine the opportunity to consider proposals for revocation or amendment of the licence with due notice. It simply makes it easier for the person concerned to consider what the Minister has in mind.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 21:—

In sub-section (1), paragraph (d), page 13, to delete line 22, and substitute "under the Acts or this Act or any instrument made thereunder, or".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 22:—

In sub-section (1), to delete paragraph (e), and substitute the following new sub-section:—

( ) The following provisions shall apply in relation to the amendment or revocation of an eel fishery authorisation under this section—

(a) the Minister shall not amend or revoke the authorisation unless and until he has given by post to the holder thereof at least one fortnight's notice in writing stating that the Minister has under consideration, as the case may be, the amendment or revocation of the authorisation,

(b) the notice shall also state—

(i) in case it states that the Minister has under consideration the amendment of the authorisation—the specific amendment under consideration and the grounds on which it is so under consideration, or

(ii) in case it states that the Minister has under consideration the revocation of the authorisation—the grounds on which such revocation is so under consideration,

(c) the Minister shall consider any representations in relation to such amendment or revocation, as the case may be, made to him by the holder of the authorisation before the expiration of the notice.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 21, as amended, agreed to.
Section 22 to 30, inclusive, agreed to.
FIRST SCHEDULE.

I move amendment No. 22a:—

To delete the entry relating to the Salmon Conservancy Fund Act, 1954 (No. 4 of 1954).

Amendment agreed to.
First Schedule, as amended, agreed to.
SECOND SCHEDULE

I move amendment No. 23:—

In Part I, page 17, to insert, as an additional column, the following:—

"

Salmon rod (late season) ordinary licences(5)

£

s.

d.

1

10

0

"

That is the late season ordinary licence provision to which I have already alluded.

Has the Minister not already agreed on that?

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 24:—

In Part II, page 17, at reference number 4, to delete in column (2) "for salmon or trout".

That is a drafting amendment.

Amendment agreed to.
Second Schedule, as amended, agreed to.
TITLE.

I move amendment No. 25:—

In page 3, lines 10 and 11, to delete "certain public".

The amendment to the Long Title is simply to provide for covering of private oyster fisheries as well as public oyster fisheries.

Amendment agreed to.
Title, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Report Stage ordered for Tuesday, May 20th, 1958.