Wildlife Bill, 1975 [Seanad]: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

Bhí mé ag iarraidh a chur in iúl do mhuintir na tíre seo glacadh leis an mBille go fáilteach chun cabhrú leis an Aire agus le pé údarás a bhéas ann chun ainmhithe agus bláthanna atá sa tír seo nó a bhí agus atá ag imeacht go han-tapaidh ar fad a shábháil agus roinnt eile a chur ar ais ina n-áit dhúchais chun go mbeidh an tír i bhfad níos fearr ná mar atá sí anois.

Before reporting progress on this Bill on 22nd January, I had recorded my welcome for this measure which I regarded, however belatedly, as man's pact with nature. It is not a condescending or patronising pact of the strong or superior animal for his inferiors but one that arises from the awareness of man now that he must take notice of the fact that day by day, week by week and year by year the fauna and flora in this country have been disappearing at a rate that in some cases indicates ultimate extinction. Unless man takes notice of that fact and takes appropriate measures we will reach the stage where we will be much the poorer. I said that if the flora and fauna disappear it will not be possible in some cases to recover them.

I know that one case does not prove the rule but I indicated what I regarded as some of the problems existing in this respect. I pointed out my own personal experience, how some years ago in common with other landowners who were concerned with getting the best value out of the land we removed trees, hedgerows, ditches, dykes, shrubberies and copses from our land. This was done in order to get better value out of the land but in doing this we contributed to the elimination of wildlife. I indicated in the light of my own experience that were it not for the fact that operating in our area, operating under section 15 of the 1930 Act, gun clubs and game councils made representations to me in respect of the game that might be on my small bit of land and indicated to me their preparedness to protect whatever game might be there. Were it not for the efforts of those good people who are doing this in their spare time, voluntary organisations recognised by the Department, the occasional pheasant which is there at the moment would have disappeared. In those few areas there is what will constitute quite a problem for the Minister in the administration of the legislation we are here discussing.

The Minister indicates that there is provision for consultation with other agencies in respect of agriculture, drainage and other operations. I served for a while as a civil servant. Civil servants are no different from other people. Civil servants are mindful of a statutory obligation that may lie upon them but my experience is that they were not always very responsive to anything that was vague regarding their duties.

While the Minister may anticipate the preparedness of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Office of Public Works, the Department of Local Government or other State agencies to consult with him, I do not think that in the absence of a statutory requirement they will be prepared to yield to him in certain cases where he can demonstrate that their proposals are antagonistic to or in conflict with what he desires and what might be regarded as the spirit of the Wildlife Bill. In that I see a weakness in the measures here before us and on Committee Stage I hope to submit recommendations to the Minister which may help to provide a better modus operandi.

This might be regarded as a very big Bill. It is an amalgam of the 1930 Protection of Wild Birds Act and the Game Preservation Act of the same year. In assessing the benefit of the new proposal I have tried to extract the provisions already in existence from those now presented to us. I must admit to a certain disappointment. I refer especially to section 13, which refers to the establishment of a wildlife advisory council. The reference here is somewhat vague. My first reaction was that the Minister intended to proceed immediately to involve all the local agencies, the voluntary agencies to which I have referred, the gun clubs and the game councils, who would co-operate with him in this very important work and that the advisory council represented the acme of that.

I have studied the legislation and having regard to what is written down and it would seem that there is no guarantee in the Bill that the Minister will establish the wildlife advisory council. The explanatory note indicates that it provides for the establishment of the council. I should like to see in the Bill a date before which it must be established. I see in the council the very nub of the matter. The area of jurisdiction of the Bill extends over 17 million acres of land and water. Successful administration can be achieved only if as many as possible of the people of Ireland are involved.

In passing, may I suggest that in calmer and quieter times in Ireland, when the mention of a gun will not be as emotive or as fearful as it is now, this would be a matter in respect of which our area of jurisdiction might extend beyond that part of Ireland which at the moment is ours and we could show our co-operation by acknowledging the sportsmen of the Six Countries in the same way as we acknowledge the sportsmen of the Twenty-six Counties and provide in this legislation for an all-Ireland area as against a Twenty-six Counties area. I say that en passant.

We have noticed especially in the last ten years that there is a hunger among the people to be involved. There has been great emphasis and many references to community effort. This is one area where community effort is vital. It is one area where we must consult with people and organisations. If you want the co-operation in the attainment of any goal it is very sensible to seek co-operation. Indeed, such co-operation is beneficial to oneself. We hear a great deal about worker participation and we all want worker participation. This evolves from the realisation that the worker wants to be involved. He wants some recognition beyond merely standing beside a machine. That is understandable.

If we want the co-operation of the people at large we must involve them in preparation, in discussion and consultation in regard to the ultimate goals. Apart from that we must give them some power. This is where I am critical of the Bill. Section 13 refers to the Minister consulting with the council. The Minister talks about the freedom of the council to consult with him. It does not say at any point that there is any obligation on the Minister to do anything the council might request him to do. I do not think people are responsive to that kind of situation. I do not think you will get people's co-operation in that kind of situation. I enjoy membership of certain committees, councils and institutes. I would not serve on any committee unless I was happy in the knowledge that I as part of that committee had some power. People nowadays want recognition beyond merely consultative status.

In this connection I want to refer to section 31 of the 1930 Act which gives power to the Minister to appoint a consultative council. It does not say that he shall do so. It merely says he may do so. That is fairly significant because he never did appoint a consultative council. Will the same situation obtain under this? The Bill says the Minister shall appoint a council, but it does not say when. We will probably agree to the appointing of this council but it is not good government and it is not good administration to expect people to agree to the establishment of what can be regarded as something extremely vital to the whole operation of these provisions without there being some indication of the specific function and powers of that council.

I am concerned with what I would regard as involvement outside the bureaucratic system. I am relating my remarks now to what I know was achieved by voluntary organisations in this area and to the traditional antipathy that exists, however unfortunate, between the citizen and institutions of the State. Here I will admit unashamedly that 15 or 20 years ago when a gentleman approached me asking for my co-operation in respect of protecting game on my small piece of land the same co-operation would not have been forthcoming from me had I been approached by a representative of a Government Department. However sad that is it is nevertheless true and I think it reflects the attitude of many a landowner much bigger than I am.

I see in this measure less provision for the involvement of voluntary organisations than existed heretofore. What is required is of course an intensification of co-operation. Section 15 of the 1930 Act gave power to the Minister to recognise voluntary organisations. It gave to these organisations the right to go to a landowner and ask him to cede his shooting rights. I doubt if an owner would have ceded these rights to a Government Department or to the representative of a Government Department.

I am striving here to identify in this legislation the recognition which heretofore obtained in respect of voluntary organisations. Section 14 provides for the establishment of boards to administer any service and provide for future needs. I cannot see in that section any accommodation for the contribution existing at the moment from voluntary organisations. I cannot see it in respect of the advisory council since I do not know when it will be established and I do not know who will be on it. There is a general reference to the effect that there will be representatives of agriculture, horticulture, science, the environment, and game and sporting clubs. I am convinced from what I see here that this council will have no power in the wide world. I am convinced they will have no power beyond the right to discuss matters with the Minister if they or he so desire. In these enlightened times I do not believe that people who have respect for their views and their time will be happy serving on such a council. I do not propose at this stage to develop that point to any great extent but, in the clarification of that point, I see the success or failure of this legislation. All the other measures which refer to preservation of certain areas, the protection of certain species of flora and fauna are, as far as I am concerned, conditional on how we can involve the people. It is the people themselves who must act as conservators and protectors.

The Bill refers to certain offences. In one of the explanatory notes reference is made to members of the Garda. In some areas where the flora and fauna abound there are no Garda stations. They have been closed. How can we rely on the absent members of the Garda to carry out the measures in this Bill? In the area from Westport to Leenane, a distance of 20 miles, there is no Garda station although there is a certain amount of wild flora and fauna. Who will protect this, if offences are committed? Will the gardaí come from Westport or Leenane? I do not think so. In some rural stations there are only one or two gardaí. Surely it is not expected that the responsibilities which devolve from this legislation will fall on these overworked gardaí? Therefore, it is necessary that we should indicate whether we intend setting up special boards and will have certain personnel who will have special powers under this legislation. If we are willing the end—and this is to be commended—we must indicate the means. Otherwise, the legislation will not get the respect it deserves.

Perhaps I am quoting an extreme case but who will prosecute the unenlightened citizen who lights a fire within a mile of a forest? Surely it is not expected that a member of the Garda will be available for this work however desirable it might be? What will happen to a farmer who shoots an eagle because he assumes it is going to take his chickens? Under this legislation will he have the right to do that? Admittedly, I have given two extreme examples but I have mentioned them to show that we must have a clearer indication of how the legislation will be executed.

I cannot differentiate, as the Minister has done, between formal and informal education. For my part as an educationist, there is no such thing. Having said that, I am mindful that it has been the fashion over the years to say that there is a difference between formal and informal education. The Minister referred to the presentday concept of formal school education. We are accepting that in our schools today there is a greater need for instructing people in gerunds, trigonometry, higher and lower maths, than there is about giving them lessons on their environment and life. That is an approach which we must remove immediately. Formal education refers to the life of the child as much as it refers to these academic and technical matters which masquerade as education.

What should be the immediate concern of the Department of Lands in administering this scheme? In my view, they should consult with the Department of Education with a view to developing further the classes already being held and instruction already being given in environmental studies. It is described in the national school curriculum at the moment as nature studies. The child will be much more attracted to that than to difficult lessons about the tuiseal ginideach or the módh coinníollach. There will be no difficulty in getting his full sympathy. He will act as the agent. Perhaps the child will help the adult in the realisation of the need which exists for the honouring of this legislation.

The Minister will have some difficulty in convincing the farmer of the need and the advisability of postponing the achievement of what might be regarded as an immediate benefit, a short-term benefit. I am talking about the farmer living in the midst of wild life, the farmer who is fortunate enough to be living in an area where the lark sings in the still clear air. It will be difficult to convince him that he should forgo some immediate gain in the interests of retaining that way of life. Apart from other considerations, he is now in the position in which I and many other people on the eastern coast were some years ago. Without thinking about it we foolishily accepted that nature was infinite and that wild life, fauna and flora, were not finite. They are.

If that person were to talk to some of his counterparts on this side of the country where the pursuit of good husbandry has led to the exclusion of the thrush and the blackbird, the cuckoo and the corncrake, the wren, the finch and the linnet, the cowslip, the primrose, the dog daisy and the bluebell, he would realise that the price paid for that was not worth it. The financial gain has now disappeared. In normal times you can recover money. You cannot make a recovery with the same facility in the matter of fauna and flora. I appreciate that it will be difficult to sell that to any farmer.

I do not know whether ample provision is made here. We talk about asking people and consulting them. Where a farmer is prepared to co-operate, it would be worth the State's while to render to him appropriate compensation, financial compensation if that is what he requires or desires. In regard to the operations of the Office of Public Works in arterial drainage, it will be very difficult to convince them that at times there will be an obligation on them to forego what might be regarded as an exceptionally important operation even if, on balance, it can be shown that the short-term advantage would be outweighed by the long-term disadvantage.

The success of this Bill depends on the placing of restraints and the acceptance of compromise where it can be shown that what is proposed would be seriously prejudicial to what is embodied here and to what I am quite sure represents the aims and the objects of all the people in the country. I have highlighted the points I wanted to highlight. I should like to refer briefly to one or two other points which I hope the Minister will clarify when replying.

Yesterday we read indications of the anticipated establishment of oil refineries. Oil refineries are necessary and can be accommodated on certain parts of our coastline, but certainly not in Dublin. I should like the Minister to indicate what provision is being made—I know he cannot legislate for what happens on the high seas—for damage which could be done by oil spillages coming close to our coastline and into our river estuaries. We anticipate anti-pollution legislation but should we not have something in these proposals which might be regarded as complementary to that legislation?

Might I remind the House in passing of how certain species of flora and fauna have disappeared and of the references by Irish poets and writers down the years to birds and animals which at the time of writing were in Ireland but which have now disappeared? I would refer to things philosophical in Ireland as manifested in proverbs in the Irish language. We visualise a teacher in front of a class quoting the Irish proverb about the gobadán: "Ní féidir leis an ngobadán an dá thrá a fhreastail". Where is the gobadán today? "Céard a dhéanfadh mac an chait ach luch a mharú?" We have the cat and the luch, but there are hundreds of references in Irish proverbs to birds and animals which, though not extinct are now very rare and certainly unseen in the countryside.

(Cavan): Would the Deputy tell us something about the gobadán so that we can assist him?

I did not anticipate that I might be called upon to give a lecture to the Minister on the gobadán.

(Cavan): It could be interesting.

If the Minister is asking me the question as a good student would, I shall be happy to answer; if he is asking the question as a student, as I did myself, hoping the teacher will not be able to answer, he is going to be disappointed, and I shall now proceed to lecture the Minister on what the gobadán is.

(Cavan): I am humble enough to say I do not know what the gobadán is. Perhaps the Deputy would tell me.

The gobadán—and we shall make it simple—is a bird. Éan isea an gobadán. Shearwater, mackerel cock nó oyster catcher.

(Cavan): Tuigim é sin.

Comhnaíonn sé cois fairrge. He lives by the sea. Go hiondúil itheann sé rud a faightear istigh i sliogáin—oyster—nó éisc eile—mackerel. Uaireanta tagann siad sin isteach nuair a thagann an taoide isteach. These oysters or mackerel are carried to the shore by the tide, and it is considered wise for the gobadán to be present at this time, and he can treat himself to either. The proverb refers to the fact that if he wanted to be where the tide was ebbing he could not simultaneously be where the tide was flowing.

(Cavan): Is the Deputy saying the gobadán is extinct?

No. I did not say it was extinct. I qualified it by saying it was rarely we saw him on the Irish scene.

(Cavan): I have the point now clearly.

A little levity now and then is relished by us all.

(Cavan): I take it the Deputy is saying there are not many gobadáin.

I do not want to pursue that, although I could continue, if the Minister so desires, giving countless examples of Irish proverbs based on wildlife.

(Cavan): I am very sorry to interrupt the Deputy, but I understood him to be making a point that some birds had become practically extinct and that the gobadán was one of them. Perhaps I was wrong.

I was not being absolute about it at all. I was offering an opinion that from the fact that the gobadán was based on the seanfhocal, it could be assumed the gobadán was more prevalent than he is now, I appreciate that might not be a correct assumption, but in so far as the second one I gave was based on the cat and the luch, which happily are still with us, I thought——

(Cavan): I am told there is no scarcity of gobadáin either.

But the Minister did not know until he asked, and I am only talking from my own experience; we can do certain research. If it was as general as it should be—and we are not going to pursue this—I think the Minister would be aware of the fact and would have known what the bird was.

(Cavan): I concede straight away I am not capable of conducting a debate with the Deputy in Irish on the matter. I make no secret of that. Therefore I had to find out what the gobadán was.

I have never wanted, because I knew three words of Irish, to impose those three words on somebody who thought he had only two but who in all probability had more than I had.

(Cavan): Uair amháin bhí Gaeilge agam ach ta sí cailte agam anois, is trua liom a rá.

Tá sí agat fós, bail ó Dhia ort. I have a note here to confirm the case I was endeavouring to make for the involvement of agents outside the Minister's Department. I mention the great work that has been done by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí in the matter of Irish music. They have done work I think could not have been done by any State agency.

In the matter of the licence to the non-resident, in respect of which I indicated that I hoped we might accommodate an amendment which would not look upon a person from the Six Counties as a non-resident, but in respect of people who could be correctly regarded as aliens, I should like to know what the position is vis-á-vis ourselves and EEC regulations on that. I presume that has been explored. I am basing my remarks on what were basically superficial chats with officials in Brussels. I gather that in respect of any legislation that may be introduced the entire country could never appear to be discriminating against any member of the bloc, in respect of the two types of licence.

Would it be wise, where the Minister proposes to include sections of other forestry Acts—it is done here in the interest of wildlife—to put in stipulations in respect of that? I am sure the Minister knows that forestry does not guarantee the preservation of wildlife. On the contrary, in respect of coniferous forests it can be shown that it is detrimental to wildlife. In the event of the Minister taking lands I wonder would it be mandatory on him to plant a type of tree complementary to what is required in this legislation rather than detrimental. If the Minister proposes taking land, or developing forests of a certain nature, those forests, while they may afford protection for the fox or rabbit are not forests that help the fauna or flora. Would it be desirable to put in a provision in respect of the lands the Minister would take under this Bill guaranteeing that there should be deciduous trees to help rather than destroy wildlife?

I am mindful of the fact that Deputy Lemass, before assuming responsibility as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance, expressed an interest in the environment and wildlife and I am sure the House will benefit from his contribution. I look upon the Bill as one which will involve the Opposition more on Committee Stage than on Second Stage. I look forward to the other contributions and the reply of the Minister to my points.

Without wishing to be pernickety I should like to state that we were told that other business was being ordered for today and it was not until lunchtime that I was made aware of the change. I would have been pleased to have had the opportunity to sort out my notes, some of which date back to the original Bill. I have had an interest in this type of legislation since 1961. In 1962 Prince Bernhardt of the Netherlands, who has since been awarded a Nobel Prize for his work for wildlife and in the environmental field, said at a wildlife fund dinner in London that we were dreaming of conquering space, we were already preparing a conquest of the moon but if we were going to treat other planets as we were treating our own we had better leave the moon, Mars and Venus strictly alone. He said we were poisoning the air over our cities, the rivers, the seas and the soil itself.

Having considered the seriousness of those remarks I am sure the House will agree that we have waited long enough for this Bill. As far as I am concerned there is no question of it being opposed on Second Stage. During a by-election campaign which was won by the present Minister for Justice, the Government gave the go-ahead to the Minister for Lands to commence work on legislation of this nature. Unfortunately, there was a change in administration politically and in the civil service, and although good progress was made we found ourselves going through the same argument over and over again. I am aware of the problems this Minister must have had to cope with to get the Bill approved, and the fact that I am so aware will prevent me being critical of some loose ends I see in it.

While this Bill was going through the Seanad a large number of amendments were adopted. Instead of saying that there are many inadequacies in the Bill I should like to state that we are all happy to see the Bill before the House and I hope it will be processed without much delay or difficulty. I recall a person saying: "Happy is he who keeps the ancient bargain with the earth", a good saying and if we break that bargain for economic or political reasons unborn generations will not forgive us for our foolishness.

When I was a Parliamentary Secretary I was concerned mostly about the national parks. We had difficulty with the Department of Lands because we were aware that the pines from the softwood trees could destroy the undergrowth thereby eliminating various animals. However, life adapts itself to its surroundings. Man has survived many changes in our climate and atmosphere and we have survived changes in our diet and way of life.

Now we are asking men and animals to adapt themselves to some 500 new chemical pesticides, about 20 new pesticides appearing on the market each year. Prior to the Second World War, all insecticides were derived from naturally occurring minerals and plant products. Now they are synthetically produced; not only can they poison but they can enter the human body and conceivably can prevent the normal functions of body organs in man and animal. In the fifties and probably in the sixties this attack was intensified. Of the pre-war insecticides, as far as I remember, arsenic was the most prevalent. So far as man is concerned there is a definite relationship between arsenic and malignant diseases.

The previous Administration recognised the diversity of responsibility with regard to the various departmental involvements. During the years I have tried to press for a separate Ministry for the Environment. What the present Government received when they took up office was a little more than a declaration of intent. More work was required at the time in order to get agreement on the final terms of the measure before us. In the interests of all of us we must hope that the Government will get on with the job, no matter what amalgamation or rationalisation measures are required in the governmental structures.

At present several Departments and State agencies are concerned with the problems of planning and the environment. The Department of Lands are concerned with forestry, general woodlands, wildlife and forest parks. The Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries is concerned with fresh water habitats. The Minister for Local Government has general responsibility for planning control of amenities and so on under the Planning Acts. However, it goes further than this because the Minister for Transport and Power has responsibility for Bord na Móna and, I presume, for the habitats in the boglands, as well as for the future of the bogs. He is also responsible for CIE who will be involved with the wildlife on railway banks which are the property of the board. In addition, through the Office of Public Works, the Minister for Finance is responsible not just for national parks but for scenic history, recreational habitats, the River Shannon navigation, historic, artistic, architectural and archaeological monuments. An Foras Forbartha have responsibility for maintenance of habitats not covered by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries or by Bord na Móna, while An Foras Talúntais have responsibility for heath and moorland, items of geological interest and soil types. It is clear that this division of responsibility cannot be allowed to continue. I regard the measure before us as only one step in the right direction to overcome the problems that must arise when inter-departmental and semi-State interests come into conflict.

In the first part of his address to the House, the Minister said the Bill was designed to provide an up-to-date effective statutory framework. My worry is how more effective we can make it. I have a feeling that a good deal of work will have to be done on Committee Stage to make it effective, certainly more effective than it is at the moment. Commercial forestry can destroy the flora and fauna and this could lead to a conflict between the Minister for Lands and other Ministers or the State agencies to which I have referred. However, I should like to pay tribute to the Minister and to his predecessor for the magnificent work that has been done on the forest parks.

With regard to the matter of chemicals, I would regard this as responsible for the elimination of many of our birds and much of our fish stocks. I would point out to the Minister that unless he or one of his colleagues introduces effective control there will be a tremendous danger, including the fact that many of the chemicals cannot be detected by ordinary scientific means.

Recently mysterious diseases killed our game fish. I read that the source of the disease had been detected but subsequently when there was another outbreak I read that there must be another source. In that regard I should like to tell the Minister that there was a similar problem in Pennsylvania where it was found that nearby orchards had been sprayed with pesticides some of which drained into the streams and rivers. The authorities there came to the conclusion that the spraying of orchards led to disease. I am not claiming to be technically proficient on these matters but I have read about them and I wondered if there was a similar source with regard to salmon disease. If we could regulate the type of insecticide that could be applied at various places, depending on our river stock and on our bird stocks and having regard to our flora and fauna, we could control the amount of pesticides that would go into our rivers.

Apart from fish stocks being threatened by the pollution of our rivers by insecticides, there are other dangers. Cancer-producing agents could be introduced into the rivers from which we take our water supplies. In Holland in the fifties it was found that cities getting their drinking water from rivers had a higher death rate from cancer than those getting it from wells. Doctor W.C. Hueper of the National Cancer Institute of the USA said that the danger of cancer from the consumption of contaminated drinking water will grow considerably in the near future.

There are thousands of living things in the soil and each of them has some contribution to make to the soil. The common worm, I understand, digs down to the black soil and then comes up and relieves himself. Darwin said that he adds, I think, a half inch to the the top soil every ten years. There are thousands of smaller creatures in the soil which are all the time aerating and fertilising and keeping the soil productive. We can say that they support the earth's green mantle.

I am pleased to note that in many shops there is now a substitute for DDT and they do not prescribe DDT as freely as heretofore. Once DDT goes into the system of an animal or a human it will remain there for some considerable time. I suggest that there should be certain tolerances and I ask the Minister to ascertain whether these tolerances can be provided under this Bill or whether a separate Bill would be required from the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries.

In many places now, especially in the United States where they have aeroplane dusting, spring arrives unheralded by birdsong. In this country it seems that rabbits are on the way back but they were almost wiped out by myxomatosis. Padraic Pearse in The Wayfarer said:

Sometimes my heart hath shaken with great joy

To see a leaping squirrel in a tree, Or a red lady-bird upon a stalk, Or little rabbits in a field at evening,

Lit by the slanting sun,

Many of the 1916 leaders as well as being interested in humans—Connolly said: "What is Ireland to me without its people?"—were interested in poetry, in culture and in the wildlife of our land. That is one of the reasons why they got general acceptance even though they lost their struggle from a military point of view.

In England the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds investigated the deaths of 67 birds and found that 59 of them were killed by seed dressings and eight by toxic sprays. They reported that 600 birds died in one estate in Norfolk and 100 pheasants died on a farm in north Essex. In Lincolnshire some years ago 100,000 birds died. The House of Commons set up a committee and it was in the House of Lords on a Private Member's Motion that action was taken with legislation such as the Endangered Species Act. Fish poisoning as a result of DDT spraying was reported from the Inland Fisheries in the State of Maine in 1958, in Vancouver in 1957, in Yellowstone National Park around that time too, in Montana, in British Columbia, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Alabama, Oklahoma, the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and India. If that is so, why not in Ireland? This is something about which we will have to take great care in future. I believe a skull and crossbones should be displayed on practically every chemical insecticide canister.

Every meal we eat contains fluorinated hydrocarbons, some of which are stored in our fat waiting to poison us at times of illness or loss of weight. At present our exposure to pesticides is largely unknown, immeasurable and uncontrollable. The origin of cancer dates back to 1775 so it is not something new on the scene.

Between 70 and 80 per cent of the earth's creatures are insects, 700,000 of which have already been identified. Their populations are not kept down by ingenuity of man but by natural forces. It has happened that spraying was carried out to eliminate one insect and other insects then thrived and caused a greater problem than the one eliminated.

A Canadian entymologist, G. C. Ullyett, said over a decade ago that we must change our philosophy, abandon our attitude of human superiority and admit that in many cases in natural environments we find ways and means of limiting populations and organisms in a more economical way than we can do it ourselves.

I do not want to dwell further on the mechanical pesticides except in relation to the provisions of the Bill. The Minister may consider my remarks on this Stage with a view to making further amendments, as he has done in the Seanad. In the Title the words "enable a body...to be established". are used. I would prefer to see "council which will be established". The existing conditions imply no time limit. The Minister may feel that he wants time to consider the best possible personnel for the council. The council should be established as quickly as possible. I do not see any necessity for the delay provided for in section 1. This is essentially a Committee Stage and Report Stage Bill. Once the Bill is passed the Minister should implement it as speedily as possible. There has been enough delay, which has not been entirely the Minister's fault. There was delay on the part of the former Administration also.

I received some help on this Bill from An Foras Forbartha but I have not the relevant notes with me as I was not aware that the Bill would be taken this afternoon.

The Minister says that any moneys paid into his Department should go to the benefit of the Exchequer. I would ask him seriously to consider setting up a special fund which would enable him or, preferably, which would enable the council to take special action which otherwise would not be possible in the normal course of administration, such as the development which was carried out in Donegal, and to examine places of special interest which in the event of the carrying out of an arterial drainage scheme would be taken out of that scheme and in respect of which the Minister for Lands could pay compensation out of the fund or directly out of departmental funds. The Minister might examine that suggestion.

There is a lack of compulsory power which the Minister should have taken unto himself. I am aware that there is a difficulty about compulsory powers because they might affect the work of another Department. We want to see the Bill on the statute book. We want the Bill to have more teeth. We certainly will try to help the Minister in this matter.

Out of the fund that I have suggested should be set up the Minister could consider providing scholarships for the study of wildlife and could issue a recognised certificate in this field. This is a matter for specialists who should be trained by the Department out of a special account for that specific purpose.

The Bill provides that nothing in section 11 shall restrict, prejudice or affect the performance of the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries of any function. This is a weakness in the legislation. If the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries objects to some proposal by the Minister for Lands or by the council prohibiting the use of certain pesticides in certain areas the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries could veto that proposal. The Minister for Lands should be given greater power under the Bill. We can consider that matter on Committee Stage when the Minister might explain to us why this right of veto by other Ministers should be allowed or, as is provided later in the Bill, why there should be consultation with other Ministers. He should explain why the Bill is weakened in that respect.

The Minister for Lands should have the final decision, perhaps after consultation but, in the long run, until such time as it is considered appropriate to appoint a separate Minister for the Environment, he should be given the responsibility of co-ordinating the various interests in these matters.

I was surprised by some memoranda passing between the Department of Lands and the Office of Public Works at one stage in relation to some trees planted around the Blue Pool in the Bourn Vincent Memorial Park. At the time we had a recession and the Government of the day were doing anything at all to generate economic activity. I wish this Government would do a little more in that direction. As a result of planting coniferous trees the trout hatchery was destroyed because of the pine needles falling into the pool. When I saw it the undergrowth was gone and the deer and other wild animals had to go elsewhere for food. I was surprised later when I went to Boston and found the same man responsible there for the national parks and for commercial forestry in the state.

In practically every democratic country there is now a Minister for the Environment. Until such time as we have such a Minister here the Minister for Lands should have the final responsibility, he should coordinate the various interests involved and he should not give the right of veto to any other Minister. It is he who should put the facts before the Cabinet and get his way.

The Minister referred to the wildlife advisory council and he listed some of the major objectives. I suggest some additions to this list. What control, if any, should be introduced in the public interest over the manufacture, distribution and use of chemical pesticides? Secondly, would it not be in the public interest to establish tolerances in respect of food supplies from the point of view of their possible contamination by poisonous chemicals? I am not just referring now to crops. I am referring to game birds and so on because they too can be contaminated. Thirdly, what steps should be taken to protect wildlife from poisoning by chemicals? Fourthly, we should find out whether or not the increased use of insecticides has any relationship to the increase in malignant disease. Lastly, can methods be devised whereby accurate tests can be carried out to determine in the event of unaccountable deaths in game, fish and birds whether or not such deaths could have been caused by water pollution by pesticides and what effective steps could be taken to eliminate such pollutants? If we could extend the function of the council to include matters like that it would go a long way towards improving the Bill. Perhaps the Minister will have a look at these to see if the terms of reference of the council could be extended.

I believe there should be a specific period, say five years, for service on this council. That should be laid down in legislation. I see no reason why members should be paid an allowance. I believe there are dozens, if not hundreds, and maybe thousands, who would willingly give their services voluntarily and freely for the protection of our heritage and our wildlife. An allowance might be paid to the chairman and the secretary but the ordinary members should not receive any allowance. I believe voluntary workers work from the heart. Most people in these voluntary organisations may not, because of their general attitude, have the popular support that the Minister or I would have, but they are sincere people and they are engaged in a job of protecting our environment. The Minister should list some of these bodies—An Taisce, the Anti-Blood Sports, the commercial travellers trade union, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and any others he likes—and say that these will have as of right a seat on this council and not just at the discretion of the Minister. I may have picked the wrong bodies but if those who advise the Minister examine the type of material that comes in to his Department he will easily be able to satisfy himself who will best serve the nation in this field, and for nothing.

There is one thing I do not quite understand in relation to section 14. Only the Minister for the Public Service is mentioned in the Bill. Since the establishment of that Department, the Minister for Finance and the Minister for the Public Service have been one and the same person, but there is no guarantee that that will always be the case. I realise that nothing much can happen without the consent of the Minister for Finance, but in case this might cause difficulty, the Minister should examine whether only the Minister for the Public Service should be mentioned.

Subsection (5) mentions only the Minister for Finance and this was recommended in the Devlin Report. No order made under this Act should be revoked without some sort of public inquiry. The High Court should decide the amount of compensation to be paid and the State should be responsible for legal costs. I wonder if everything in this Bill is necessary. I realise the parliamentary draftsmen must put in what seems to the layman to be unnecessary material, otherwise lawyers may get away with things.

I have already dealt with arterial drainage so there is no need to go over it again. My notes refer to the position the various Ministries would have in taking away the type of responsibility which should be held solely by the Minister as Minister for the Environment pro tem, even if he has not that title. Some sections mention Transport and Power, Agriculture and Fisheries, Industry and Commerce, Local Government and so on. This is the type of difficulty I was hoping to see reduced to an absolute minimum.

In all cases we can safely link flora and fauna. There are other amendments I would like to put down dealing with the two months' provision where, I think one would be adequate.

The Minister might consider land bonds, although the modern bonds are holding their own. Previously it was very hard on the people who had to take them. The Minister would not be making a mistake if he took another look at them. If a claimant is successful, he or she should have the choice of the method of payment. Under this Bill the claimant could suffer a loss due to inflation or for other reasons. I do not know how one could write an inflationary clause into section 18 (3) but the Minister could look into this.

This Bill does away with the old maxim that a person is innocent until proved guilty. This trend was started some years back with the introduction of the breathaliser test under the Intoxicating Liquor Act. I do not like to see this happening.

I am not sure if archaeological purposes should be included in the section which says that the Minister may grant a licence for scientific and educational purposes or if it should stay under the complete and absolute control of the National Monuments Section of the Office of Public Works. In my view, all these matters are interrelated.

I have the Schedule to the British Endangered Species Bill. I would not attempt to pronounce many of the species and I could not tell you what most of them are unless I looked them up. We should compare that list with our Schedules, and perhaps the Department will communicate with me and give me some information about this.

I will now deal with licenced firearms. I understand that from county to county and from superintendent to superintendent different rules can prevail. Provided we are satisfied that a person coming into this country is a genuine game-bird hunter, customs difficulties and regulations could be minimised to make the situation as easy for him as possible. Some years ago I met a Mr. Beale from Australia in the old Moira Hotel. He had travelled all over the world hunting anything from big game to pheasants. He was giving out about Ireland and all its institutions because his gun was taken from him when he landed. Fortunately he met a TD who knew who to ring up and his gun was released the next day. He was as happy as Larry then. It was a misunderstanding about the regulations which got him into that difficulty. I could not clear it up for him then. Naturally the Department can clear up these matters.

The Schedule refers to the protection of certain species not found in this country. We have no elephants, although we have a few blue whales. I hope the Schedule will cover the byproducts of protected species elsewhere. I have a number of amendments in mind. I will discuss them with my colleagues. I have given one quotation from Pearse. I should like to end with another:

On Easter Sunday, the 10th April, 1966, the 50th anniversary of the "Irish Rising" of 1916, an English journalist made the following commentary in the The Observer:

If the poems of Pearse were full of blood and futile heroism, they also spoke of reeds, rushes, the permanence of form which the hare leaves in the grass of the mountain. Their enthusiasm was for the perishable renewable forms of peasant art, tales, songs, weaving, pottery.

As other speakers said, this is more a Committee Stage Bill than a Second Stage Bill. The section dealing with the council is the kernel of the Bill. As a representative of the peasant farmers, I believe if the intentions of the Bill are to be implemented, we must have the co-operation of the owners of the land. In older days, game was not associated with the peasant farmer. Some landlords held on to the game rights when they sold their land. For a long time farmers have been fighting for those game rights. While a number of people who shoot on land are very nice, there is an old person who comes with his gun to a farmer after a hard day's work and makes nothing of him. People with shooting rights could knock down your wall, or do anything they liked.

The farmer should have his game rights. He is prepared to co-operate provided he is asked. I am not in favour of compulsion. The first thing we must look for is co-operaton. We have to strike a balance between the preservation of wildlife and ensuring that the tillage farmer can grow his crops and not have them destroyed by wildlife. I believe the ordinary peasant farmer should be represented on the council suggested in the Bill.

I was born and reared beside a lake which was restocked with rainbow trout. The local anglers' association consulted the farmers. They erected stiles around the lake. They have the full co-operation of the local farmers and everybody is happy. If they did not consult the farmers, they would not have their co-operation and they would not be able to restock the lake. We did not have any trouble. The same thing applies to game. You must have co-operation. Somebody said a farmer might want to improve his land and this might interfere with game. There you must strike a balance again. Game thrive in scrub. In the west agricultural land is very scarce. Much of the land in the west is not suitable for agricultural purposes and could support a lot of wildlife.

I will give an example of what can happen. A gun club was formed in Dublin city and has shooting rights not far from my place. They took the land for five or six years. The local people formed a gun club with the full co-operation of the farmers. They applied for the shooting on the land. Apparently the lease had not expired. I am not faulting the Department but a letter came down which said that while the local club would be taken into account where possible no preference could be given in the matter of leases. It is wrong that preference should not be given to members of local gun clubs who have the co-operation of the farmers. If that is the Department's attitude, I cannot see the Minister achieving what he has set out to achieve in this Bill.

I wish to preserve wildlife but we must strike a balance. Preference should be given to the local people. Many gun clubs are doing excellent work, and so are many of the game councils. I was involved in the question of game when I was closely associated with farming associations. We succeeded in getting regional game councils set up. We succeeded in getting representation for the different rural organisations on those councils. We were able to iron things out. The Bill provides that councils may be set up. I believe they should be set up immediately. An amendment should be brought in on Committee Stage setting up these councils and stating how they will be constituted so that we will know from the word "go" that we will have complete co-operation from the people who own the land. Ordinary small farmers did not own game rights. Many people who came in to shoot were very nice, but many of them were not nice and got the backs up of those who owned the land. This is history. It is there and we cannot take it away. There is an old saying that what is worth getting is worth asking for. If somebody says "May I shoot on your land?", I do not think there is anybody who will refuse but if he comes in without asking he causes annoyance. Furthermore, if a man from the Department goes in and tries to acquire the land compulsorily, it is not on.

In my area there are some people who are hostile to wildlife and I have had occasion to write to the Minister on their behalf. There are forestry lands owned by the Land Commission on which there are deer. I know a man who sold two acres of turnips and in two nights the deer had the turnips eaten. It is a pretty tough job to stop deer. I am delighted to see that in the Bill you can shoot them now. You could not do that before. People want to make a living on their small holdings. I want to make it quite clear that I am not against this Bill and the Minister's efforts to protect wildlife but farmers must be given the assurance that they will be protected.

On the Report Stage of this Bill I would like the Minister to indicate the type of board he is to set up and how it is to be constituted. It is no good the Minister saying he will set up a board at some future date. We all like wildlife. Deputy Lemass mentioned rabbits. I can say that in years gone by my crops suffered from the ravages of rabbits. I would not kill them by means of myxomatosis, but I remember having to go out in the mornings and try to protect a couple of acres of crops with twine and burnt oil. One can understand the farmer having a bias against wildlife. He must be consulted so that a balance can be achieved.

It is difficult for the Minister to get land for forestry because land is required by the Land Commission to make holdings viable. However, as I said before, I did not like the letter which came from the Forestry and Wildlife Section of the Department to a gun club which had the co-operation of the farmers. I did not mind them saying they could not give the gun club the lease of the shoot, because the lease is not up yet, but a paragraph in it indicated that the club was not entitled to preference. I cannot understand why a gun club based at home in County Galway would not have preference over a club which was just formed and given a certain name in order to localise it, employing a couple of gamekeepers at home but having no contact with the local people. This is the type of thing that must be guarded against by setting up the board.

I am surprised at the Minister saying he was leaving open the setting up of the board. Now is the time to put the board in the Bill, and it should be a representative board preserving a balance between the protection of crops and the preservation of wildlife. I would urge the Minister not to postpone the setting up of this board.

I welcome this Bill which is one of the most important and comprehensive pieces of legislation to come before this Dáil. As Deputy Callanan said, its provisions are best dealt with on Committee Stage, but I would like to refer to the work that has been done by the regional and local game councils. I hope that in the establishment of this board and the advisory council of which he speaks recognition will be given to the magnificent work the game council has done in this area over the past two years.

I am a little confused as to what the Minister has in mind as between the advisory council and the boards which he proposes to set up. Does he envisage that the advisory council will supervise the working of the boards in the various areas? It seems to me there is need for the boards and I would support Deputy Callanan's view that the sooner they are set up the better. I believe the setting up of these boards is the most important provision in the whole Bill. Therefore I am a little worried at the Minister's suggestion that the immediate establishment of these boards is not envisaged.

I note that the functions of the boards relate very closely to the functions of the fishery boards. In relation to fisheries and wildlife generally, it is time we had a Minister who would be responsible specifically for these two vital areas. I welcome the Bill and I hope the provisions will be put into operation soon. I hope recognition is given to the magnificent work done in this area by the regional games councils and the local gun clubs over the years.

Mr. Kitt

I also welcome the Bill. From reports of the debate on the Bill in the Seanad one got the impression that it dealt more with coursing than with conservation and for this reason I was pleased to hear the Minister point out that the Bill was concerned with conservation. It is worth remembering that the late President Kennedy defined conservation as the use of our resources for the benefit of mankind. In this regard it seems that some people would turn areas like the west of Ireland into a kind of reservation where everything would be conserved except people. In dealing with a Bill of this type I must emphasise that my first duty is to my constituents. Even though the Bill is concerned with wildlife it really deals with mankind.

There is no doubt that development of any kind nowadays will lead to some form of pollution. In my constituency bog development is taking place and there is a misinformed debate taking place in regard to the acceptable form of pollution which we should have. There should be some sort of monitoring agency to investigate such a problem, whose findings would be accepted by both sides in such a dispute. I was disappointed that the Minister did not deal with formal education in his speech. I agree with Deputy Tunney who pointed out the great opportunities for formal education and an appreciation of wildlife. The Bill should contain some provision for educational tours to places where wildlife abounds. The educational tours to the city have proved of enormous benefit to young students but they could also learn a lot if they were brought on educational tours of places of beauty. One such tour could include a trip from Gort to The Burren. Such a tour would make the students aware of the natural beauty of the area.

Farmers in my area are very frustrated because of the damage done to their property by deer. I have written to the Minister about this problem on numerous occasions but little has been done. A lot of damage is caused by foxes, particularly during the lambing season. I would welcome any provision in a Bill that would solve this problem. Remedial action is not being taken at present.

Teachers are doing excellent work in making their students aware of wildlife and promoting nature study but there is a great lack of film strips to help them in their work. I am aware that there are fine film strips on The Burren and I have also seen an excellent film by Patrick Carey, "Oisín". That film is a masterpiece and would make anybody appreciate nature and the need for conservation. Teachers will have to be equipped with more of these aids if they are to promote an awareness of wildlife amongst their students.

Conservationists in Mountbellew have taken many positive steps in recent times. They raised wild fowl and built a sanctuary for them. Such people impress me more than those who write to the newspapers about conservation. In south Roscommon local farmers, in co-operation with officials from the Department of Lands, have established a wild fowl sanctuary. It is wonderful to see farmers giving 100 per cent support to such projects. I suggest that the Minister have another look at the section which deals with damage to crops by straying deer. I am not satisfied that remedial action in this regard is taken quickly enough. Action should be taken immediately a complaint is lodged.

There is a lot in this Bill and I hope the Minister will be able to implement all its provisions but I have some doubts about that. In my constituency the landowners are perturbed because the shooting rights are owned by faceless men; they are owned by men who live in London or America. Those faceless men lease these shooting rights and in many cases those entitled to shoot on the lands cause damage to crops and fences. It is unfair that a landowner cannot have the shooting rights to his own land. I have raised this matter with the Department and I have been informed that under an Act these gaming rights can be held by persons other than the landowners. That is very unfair. I am in favour of gun clubs if they are properly run and supervised, as they are in the areas I represent. However, the situation with regard to absentee landlords is different because they can send in people from abroad. Americans can come here and shoot on such land but the owner is not allowed to do so. If he does, a gamekeeper or some spy will report him and automatically he will be prosecuted. This is an aspect the Minister might examine.

The Bill is very complex. It will be difficult to implement but at least it is an improvement. I would emphasise my point that owners of the land should own the shooting rights. I do not want absentee landlords deciding who will shoot on the land. I am told that they are leasing land for hundreds of pounds. I would ask the Minister to give serious consideration to this matter. He may be able to bring in some amendments on Committee Stage to counteract this practice.

Cavan): I should like to thank the House and the Deputies who have contributed for the way they received the Bill and for the constructive suggestions made as well as the knowledge they displayed. The Bill was introduced in the Seanad and it was debated there at considerable length.

Reference has been made to the unusually large number of amendments made to the Bill in the Seanad. Practically all the amendments were introduced by me but that was done as a result of consultations which I had through my Department and through the officers in the Forestry and Wildlife Section with voluntary organisations who have played a big part in game preservation during the years. I refer to the regional game councils, the Irish Wildbird Conservancy, the Irish Deer Society and the Field and Country Sports Society. Again, I wish to express my appreciation for the help we got from those associations and I should like to put on record the close co-operation that has existed between my Department and these and other voluntary organisations during the years.

Deputy Kitt hit the nail on the head in his contribution when he said this was a conservation measure. It is a measure aimed at conserving fauna and flora. In doing that we must preserve a balance between the very laudable object on the one hand of conserving for posterity the wild birds and animals, the wild plants and flowers and the importance of agriculture as a sector of the economy on the other hand. In preserving this balance, we must consider the importance of drainage, of tourism and industry. It is only by preserving a sensible, reasonable and considered balance of that kind that we will succeed in the aim this Bill has set out to attain. I should like to assure Deputy Callanan that there is no danger of adopting an attitude that preservation must proceed at all costs and at the expense of agriculture or other sectors of the economy.

Perhaps it would be worth while to repeat what I said on Second Stage in order to dispel any fear or danger there may be in relation to pursuing conservation at the expense of other elements of the economy. On that occasion I stated:

I am very conscious of the special contribution which the farming community can make towards wildlife conservation by virtue of their ownership and use of a sizeable part of the habitats which are vital to the survival of much of our wildlife. A Bill of this kind inevitably imposes many constraints on many different interests but I think Deputies will find that every effort has been made to strike a reasonable balance between bona fide agricultural operations and wildlife conservation interests.

I have no doubt that, in return, farming organisations and those directly engaged in farming will do everything they can to ensure that our wildlife continues to survive but I would appeal to them especially on two counts—firstly, to keep the habitat requirements of wildlife in mind when planning their agricultural programmes and, secondly, to do nothing which would interfere with rare or threatened species.

If Deputies go through this Bill section by section they will see that where something is forbidden or is made illegal there is a reservation and a saving clause in respect of bona fide agricultural activities and in respect of drainage. In this country drainage is very important. Rural Deputies know that if we were four times as wealthy as we are at present we would still not have enough money to do all the drainage work that is necessary. Notwithstanding that, we have written into the Bill that where the Office of Public Works embark on drainage operations they shall consult with the Department of Lands and will take steps to interfere as little as possible with wildlife habitats. There is no complete prohibition of drainage.

There is a reasonable approach. A close study of this Bill will demonstrate that there is every effort made to preserve a balance between the conservation idea on the one hand and the necessary rights and obligations of other sections of the economy on the other.

This is the first Bill of this nature that has been introduced for 45 years and it replaces the Game Preservation Act, 1930, and the Wild Birds (Protection) Act, 1930. I would like to say now, when we are removing those two Acts from the statute book, that a compliment should be paid to the people and the Government in those days who put those Acts on the statute book. The State had just been founded. We were much concerned with economic difficulties, perhaps political difficulties and maybe law and order difficulties but this was enlightened legislation for those days. It is all very well to say now that it does not go far enough but 45 years ago it was very enlightened legislation and it served fairly well the purpose for which it was enacted.

I do not think any irreparable damage has been done to our wildlife over the years. I think the species have been preserved by and large. However, this legislation is necessary to ensure that no damage will be done in the future. This Bill has been in the course of being processed for quite a long time. I concede that it has been worked on for a good many years. That probably was necessary. Other Departments had to be consulted, the voluntary organisations had to be consulted and then it had to be got into the form of a Bill to be brought before the House. I am not all that thin-skinned but somebody recently commenting on wildlife in general referred to the dilatory processing of this Bill through the House. I do not think there is anything dilatory about it. Since this Bill was introduced it has been going through the Oireachtas with very considerable speed. The Second Stage began in the Seanad on 20th May. It continued on 21st May and on 22nd May. There were three full days given to the Second Stage in the Seanad. The Committee Stage commenced on 26th November. It was taken on 27th November, 3rd December and 17th December in the Seanad. The Second Stage was taken in this House on the very first day after the Christmas recess. We are now concluding the Second Stage and hopefully we will get on to Committee Stage very soon. I would like to put that on record.

Deputy Tunney feared that our fauna and flora were disappearing at an alarming rate. I do not think any irreparable damage has been done. In fact I think that considerable respect and concern has been shown over the years for both fauna and flora. I am not speaking in any critical way of Deputy Tunney, perhaps I did not understand him correctly but he seemed to think that it was a pity to remove hedgerows or ditches because by doing so we might damage the habitat of wildlife. That is so up to a certain point but I do not think we can lay down a hard and fast rule and I do not imagine Deputy Tunney was suggesting that hedges or ditches should not be removed and that fields should not be made bigger. One could operate with a one-horse or a two-horse plough in a small field but we are now using tractors and it is necessary to make fields bigger. That is what I mean by a balance between conservation and reasonable progress.

I agree, but, on the other hand, in the past, resulting from what might be described as bad husbandry a farmer left a headland and and old corner in a field and perhaps did not cut the hedgerows and that was more conductive to the existence of wildlife than intensive agriculture.

(Cavan): Even in the comparatively old days a good farmer was distinguished from a bad farmer by the fact that the good farmer had no headland or no turning ground. He succeeded in ploughing right up into the backs of the ditches. The careless fellow would leave a turning ground which went wild. The people of Louth and south Monaghan were noted for having no headlands and no turning ground.

Unfortunately the better the farmer the less conducive it is to wildlife.

(Cavan): From the wildlife point of view an ideal situation would be if the farmer allowed his land to get overrun with whins and rushes and all sorts of things. I am not being critical of Deputy Tunney but we must have a balance between good husbandry on the one hand and a reckless attack on wildlife on the other.

We come to section 13 of the Bill which is its peak. There seems to be a little misunderstanding about the council which will be set up under this section and the boards which may be set up under section 14. The council which will be set up under section 13 is an advisory council which will advice the Minister on various things. It says:

The Minister shall by order establish a body which shall be known as the Wildlife Advisory Council (which body is referred to in this Act as the Council) to perform the functions assigned to it by this Act.

There seems to be some anxiety lest there will be delay in setting up this council. I ask the House, as reasonable people, is it likely that a Minister will be slow to set up a council or appoint a board which he has the right to appoint? I do not think it is. I think the Ministers are usually glad to have the opportunity to set up boards.

The 1930 Act provided for the setting up of a consultative board and it was never set up.

(Cavan): I was not Minister for Lands then.

The Minister may not always be Minister for Lands.

Many boards have been set up including Irish Life.

(Cavan): We have been having a nice reasonable, constructive discussion on this Bill.

Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

(Cavan): I do not know whether the Deputy has read it or not.

(Cavan): I propose to set up a council under section 13 as soon as the Bill is clear of the House and as soon as I have sufficient advice from my officials. There will be no delay. The object of the council will be to advise the Minister on the various things that are set out in the Bill. I think the council will have wide enough powers to advise the Minister on anything that it considers it should advise the Minister on.

It is true that the Minister is not obliged to accept the advice—I concede that—because if he were so obliged one would be setting up an autonomous body like the Land Commission over which the Minister would have no power or control. The Minister will still be responsible for the implementation of the Bill and he will be responsible in the most effective way possible because he will be responsible to this House in his annual Estimate.

It is not proposed—I want to make this clear and I do not want to leave anybody under any misapprehension, and I said this in my Second Reading speech—to set up boards under section 14. That is simply an enabling section and unless the necessity arises in future it is not proposed to implement that section. It is purely an enabling section to set up boards if the necessity arises to deal with one facet of wildlife or another. We can have more detailed discussion of that on Committee Stage if necessary but I am making the position clear on this Stage.

Section 12 imposes an obligation on all other Departments who are engaging in any activity, whether it is drainage, industry or any other activity—the ones that immediately come to mind are the Office of Public Works and the Department of Industry and Commerce—that might interfere with wildlife or the habitat of wildlife, to consult with the Department of Lands. The Department of Lands will not have the right to veto that activity and I do not think it is reasonable that the Department of Lands should have the right to veto it because you would have obstruction; you would have perhaps some necessary development being held up or obstructed; but it is reasonable to assume that there will be reasonable consultation and reasonable reaction from that consultation.

As regards the enforcement of the Bill, Deputy Tunney and Deputy Daly raised this point which is a legitimate point. This Bill is a comprehensive Bill that sets out to achieve many objects in relation to conservation and preservation. It will be enforced, first of all, through the Garda Síochána to some extent. It will be enforced through authorised officers. By and large, the authorised officers will be officers of the Department of Lands, the Forestry and Wildlife Section, and the Minister will have power to appoint wardens. I do not want to give the impression and I am not going to give the impression that I will appoint wardens by the thousand or even by the hundred because that is not envisaged. Furthermore, the gun clubs throughout the country who have done a good job and are doing a good job, will have their own ways of drawing the attention of the powers that be to any breaches of the Bill.

Are they still provided for in the Bill? Are they given recognition?

(Cavan): No, there is no special recognition being given. They will have the right as they have at present to prosecute for trespass.

I did not understand. Where it is said that we are annulling the 1930 Acts, I thought those Acts were being subsumed into this and I thought it would be necessary to specify the continuing powers of the gun clubs.

(Cavan): No. The two Acts of 1930 are gone; they are being repealed under this Bill but many of their provisions are re-enacted in one section or another and one of the things being provided is that gun clubs will have the right to prosecute.

That is good.

(Cavan): Section 15 of the Game Preservation Act, 1930, did not provide for the ceding of sporting rights to the clubs. What it did was to give recognition to the clubs, to give them the enabling power to prosecute offences relating to trespass in pursuit of game. Under that section, the Minister had power to grant recognition for the above purpose. They are still being recognised in this Bill.

Okay. I believe you.

(Cavan): That is broadly how the Bill when it becomes an Act will be enforced. Naturally there will be breaches. Naturally, some of these breaches will not be detected. The guards will implement the Bill, authorised officers of the Minister for Lands will implement it and where necessary wardens will be appointed.

Deputy Tunney also made the point that it was unlikely that the general public would co-operate with the Department, that they were more likely to co-operate with a voluntary organisation. That may be so up to a point but the gun clubs will still be there. We are not abolishing the gun clubs and to that extent the co-operation will still go on.

Of course, one of the big things in this Bill, as distinct from the Act of 1930, is that the 1930 Act did not preserve the habitats of birds and animals. These were not protected at all and that was a big shortcoming. They will be protected under this legislation and, in co-operation with landowners, we can arrange for refuges and reserves. We can acquire these from farmers and landowners and we will pay compensation for them. That is a very big difference between this Bill and the 1930 Act. Deputy Tunney talked about oyster catchers.

Gobadán oisreach.

(Cavan): I am told there is a big population of them on the Bull Island.

That is near enough but it is not a place the citizens of Dublin pass every day. It is good to know they are there.

(Cavan): I am told they are there in considerable abundance. Deputy Tunney, Deputy Daly and Deputy Kitt referred to the question of education. The Bill does not make provision for any formal education and I believe the best type of education, especially in the field of wildlife, is example. One of the most progressive steps taken in regard to rural Ireland was that taken by one of my predecessors when he threw the forests open to the public. For many years they had been out of bounds to the people and no one could get into them. It is probably ten years since the forests were thrown open and I do not think they have been abused. There are fires but I believe these fires were accidental. I also believe the forests are enjoyed and appreciated by the general public.

Deputy Kitt said arrangements should be made in the Bill to encourage school tours. It is not necessary to write that into legislation. The forest walk has now become an annual event and I was delighted some years ago to see busloads of secondary school girls having travelled 20 or 30 miles to take part in this walk. In the Department we have a great deal of literature readily available to schools. As a matter of fact I sent a circular to practically every school in the country pointing out the attractions of the forests and encouraging people to use them. We can have another word about this on Committee Stage but I do not think there is any shortcoming in the Bill in that regard or any necessity for a change. In view of the topicality of the EEC at the moment it is only natural the provision relating to the hunting licence should have been raised. This is an innovation. At one time there was a licence of five shillings and of £2. The five shilling licence enabled a man to carry a gun and shoot vermin. The £2 licence entitled him to shoot game. No questions asked. You went into the local barracks, got your licence and that was that. We are now introducing for the first time a licence to hunt game. An Irish citizen who wants to shoot protected wild birds or hares—this is the first time hares were mentioned since the debate started, with the exception of a reference by Deputy Kitt—can get a licence from the gardaí but he will be asked to make a declaration that he has shooting rights. In other words, he must declare that he owns lands over which he can shoot or has authority from some other landowner to shoot over his lands. The object is to make it more difficult for the poacher. If he wants to shoot larger animals he will have to come to the Department of Lands and get a permit from the Minister. A visitor, irrespective of where he comes from, will also have to get a game licence directly from the Minister for Lands. He too will have to prove that he has arrangements made to shoot over land or that he owns land. I am satisfied there is no discrimination on the grounds of nationality.

The Bill refers to a resident and a non-resident and that would give the impression that there is a form of discrimination.

(Cavan): That is better still because it does not discriminate on the grounds of nationality. For instance, an Irishman resident in the USA will have to come to the Department of Lands for a licence to shoot. We do not offend EEC regulations unless we discriminate on the grounds of nationality. I submit we are not discriminating.

Deputy Lemass raised the question of coniferous forests. There is an argument that these are detrimental to wildlife but I am told this view is not shared by naturalists or foresters. Indeed, an authority in a German university delivered an address to the Council of Europe on ecology a few years ago and he exploded that argument fully. However, it is the policy now when planting new forests or replanting cutaway forests to introduce hardwood and other species beneficial to a variety of wild fauna and flora where the type of land is suitable. I think the point Deputy Lemass was making was that we should plant more hardwood but that is not as easy as it sounds. It is not as desirable as it sounds because it takes 100 to 150 years to mature hardwood, or the very minimum would be 75 to 100 years, whereas soft timber will be marketable after 35 years. The ground where softwoods grow is much inferior to the ground where hardwoods are grown. It is getting more difficult to acquire land for afforestation than it was a few years ago because land is more valuable today. I do not agree with Deputy Lemass's argument that conifers are injurious to wildlife.

I will not go into his contribution on pesticides and insecticides because if I were to do that I would not be observing the balance I spoke about at the beginning. I hope the day will come when we have insecticides, pesticides, artificial manures and all the things that will not interefere with wildlife, but until that happy day comes, and as long as they are necessary, I am afraid we have to live with them.

Deputy Lemass also raised the question a lot of people feel strongly about: that we should have a fully-fledged Department of the Environment. That may be so; there are arguments for and against that but this is not the time to debate it. At the moment, the Department of Local Government are in charge of environment and to some extent the Department of Lands are also in charge of the environment so far as it affects flora and fauna. I am on record as saying that I do not think there should be a separate Department of the Environment and I repeat that now. If there is a change of view in future, the legislation we are putting through could be operated by the new Department as well as it is by my Department.

Deputy Callanan was worried about the setting up of a council. This council will be set up quickly, although I cannot give the exact week or month. I am all for setting it up as soon as possible. Somebody, I think it was Deputy Lemass, talked about the compulsory powers of the Land Commission under the forestry legislation to acquire land. Under the Forestry Act we have compulsory powers to acquire land for afforestation but these powers have been rarely used. When they have been used it was only to get over title difficulties. All we are doing here is extending these compulsory powers to cover wildlife and game.

Deputy Lemass suggested that the council should have full employment powers. I disagree with that. He also suggested that there should be a five-year period. I imagine that a period will be fixed and the members of the council will be appointed for a certain time—I do not know if it will be for three or five years.

Deputy Lemass also felt strongly about the payment of allowances to members. It is not obligatory in the section to pay allowances but it is permissible. They will have to be paid travelling expenses. I do not think anybody would object to that. Whether they will be paid an allowance or not will have to be considered, and if it needs to be thrashed out further on Committee Stage, we will have a discussion on it. Section 13 is an enabling section to pay allowances if it is thought fit.

The Minister for the Public Service is naturally mentioned in section 15 because he is the Minister who regulates the number of civil servants and the conditions under which they are employed. In my view it is perfectly reasonable that he should be mentioned there. As I said, it is not intended to set up boards because at the moment I do not think they are necessary but if, in future, there is a necessity for them we will set them up.

Deputy Lemass brought up the Committee Stage point about people being guilty until they prove themselves innocent. All we are saying is that it will not be necessary to bring somebody from the Department of Lands to prove when open season started and ended when it is published for all to see in Iris Oifigiúil.

He dealt with the endangered species in England. Our Schedule, which deals with endangered species and species requiring special attention, can be changed from year to year or from day to day by ministerial order. There is nothing to worry about there. I have dealt fully with Deputy Callanan's point about co-operation with farmers. Deer are now being protected for the first time. Marauding deer can be dispatched by farmers if they are damaging stocks.

Deputy Callanan raised the point about the Dublin Gun Club and about preference not being given to another. That is a matter for the Estimate but I believe the letter was intended to convey that the shoot which the Land Commission own would be offered for tender and the highest bid would get it.

I could not agree more with Deputy Kitt when he said that if one were to read the report of this Bill in the Seanad one would think it was a Bill dealing exclusively with coursing. The Bill deals with conservation and nothing else. Deputy Connolly raised the question of shooting rights. This is a very big question. Most of the shooting rights are owned by farmers but under some of the earlier Land Acts landowners had the rights to reserve shooting rights to themselves and many of them did that. However, I do not think it is proper to deal with that problem on this Bill.

I think I have dealt with most of the points raised. The Bill is introduced to replace the two Acts of 1930. It is a very comprehensive measure. By and large, it has been accepted by the House and welcomed. I hope we will have an interesting discussion on Committee. We will take Committee Stage as soon as we can. There is no political principle involved. If any amendments come from the other side of the House which do not affect the Bill fundamentally, I assure the House they will be considered.

Question put and agreed to.

When is it proposed to take Committee Stage?

(Cavan): We will put it down for this day week and the Whips can arrange when it will be taken.

Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 11th February, 1976.

I understand that, by agreement, the House will now resume on item No. 14, Financial Motions by the Minister for Finance, and will resume then on Motion No. 11. The Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy O.J. Flanagan was in possession. He has 18 minutes left but he will appreciate that we are going on to other business at 7 o'clock.