Amendments Nos. 1 and 7 are related and may be taken together.
Wildlife Bill, 1975: Report Stage.
Cavan): I move amendment No. 1:
In page 5, line 8, Long Title, to delete "AS" and substitute "IN THE IRISH LANGUAGE AS AN CHOMHAIRLE UM FHIADHULRA AND IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE AS".
During the Committee Stage debate on section 13 Deputy Haughey raised the question of an Irish name for the Wildlife Advisory Council. I am now proposing these amendments to meet the Deputy's point.
I wish to thank the Minister for doing so. I might say in passing that we should be mindful of the position of the Irish language when introducing new legislation. Where it is proposed to appoint a board we should, as we have in the past, avail of the opportunity of giving to that board an Irish title which, hopefully, might find its way into the life of the Irish people. In that regard I have some slight reservation about "An Chomhairle Um Fhiadhúlra" in so far as it is a bit cumbersome. On the other hand, in so far as it represents that which may be regarded as the perfect translation of the word "wildlife", I suppose one cannot object too strenuously to it. I had hoped that a word like "nádúir" which is familar to the people might have found its place here. I appreciate that "nádúir" spreads beyond wildlife and applies not alone to wildlife but to people and personalities and, therefore, it might not be appropriate. I welcome the amendment and I thank the Minister for it.
Under Standing Order 95 (3) I have to report specially to the Dáil that the committee has amended the Title to read as follows:
An Act for the conservation of wildlife (including game) and for that purpose to protect certain wild creatures and flora, to enable a body to be known in the Irish language as An Chomhairle Um Fhiadhúlra and in the English language the Wildlife Advisory Council to be established and to define its functions, to enable certain other bodies to be established to provide or administer certain services, to enable reserves and refuges for wildlife to be established and maintained, to enable dealing in and the movement of wildlife to be regulated and controlled, to make certain provisions relating to land, inland waters and the territorial seas of the State, to amend certain enactments and to make other provisions connected with the foregoing.
I move amendment No. 1a:
In page 5, line 43, after "Act" to insert "and may include persons who are members of recognised game councils, gun clubs and other kindred bodies.
On Committee Stage and, indeed earlier, concern was expressed that this legislation should do everything possible and appear to do everything possible to marshal all the voluntary forces already operating in this field. This legislation can only succeed with the co-operation of these voluntary bodies. When the matter was being discussed the Minister acknowledged the efforts made in that area. He went to the verge of saying recognition of that might appear in the legislation. When he was pressed by Deputy Daly, we were unhappy because we felt his assurance did not cover in full the basis for our concern. Accordingly, we have introduced this amendment which does not precisely require the Minister to do it, but at least it would appear in the legislation. I am sure its appearance would be welcome to all the people to whom I refer, apart from the most important fact that it would be showing due recognition of the contribution they have made and will continue to make.
Everybody in this House knows that, were it not for game councils and gun clubs and the membership of those and other kindred bodies, our wildlife which, unfortunately, has become so depleted would be in much worse straits. When the Bill was introduced Deputy Callanan referred to this. I am sure the amendment will be welcomed by all and not only by Members on this side of the House.
The Chair should inform the House that on Report Stage the Member proposing an amendment has the right to reply. Any other Member of the House may speak only once.
(Cavan): During the debate on the Wildlife Bill which was introduced in the Seanad as far back as 12th March, 1975, I have paid well-deserved tributes to the voluntary organisations which have given such valuable help in connection with game preservation and wildlife conservation over the years. Since the introduction of the Game Preservation Act, 1930, and the Wild Birds Protection Act of the same year, various Governments and Ministers charged with the preservation of wildlife have received great assistance from the voluntary organisations. I want to take this opportunity once more to recognise that co-operation and assistance and to express my thanks to the Irish Wildbird Conservancy, the National Association of Regional Game Councils and the Irish Deer Society, to name but three, and various other organisations who, in one way or another down through the years in a voluntary way, have assisted the Minister and his Department.
In more recent times since it was decided to replace the Game Preservation Act, 1930, and the Wild Birds Protection Act of the same year by this very comprehensive measure, the Wildlife Bill, 1975, my Department have had much consultation with the voluntary organisations I have been speaking about. Again, I want to express my thanks and appreciation to those organisations for their suggestions in connection with this Bill and their input into the Bill. As I see it, those organisations will still have a big part to play in wildlife conservation in the years to come. I see myself availing of the experience and knowhow in the field of wildlife preservation and conservation which undoubtedly these societies have, and which they make available so generously and so readily to the Minister and the Department of Lands.
The amendment proposed by Deputy Tunney is to the definition of an authorised person in section 2 of the Bill. As it stands, that definition reads: "authorised person" means a person who is appointed under section 69 of this Act by the Minister to be an authorised person for the purposes of this Act. Deputy Tunney seeks to add to the definition the following words:
and may include persons who are members of recognised game councils, gun clubs and other kindred bodies.
I say, with the greatest respect and while recognising the good intentions behind the amendment, that it is not necessary. If we go to section 69 of the Bill we will find that subsection (1) provides that: "The Minister may appoint in writing a person to be an authorised person for the purposes of this Act." We go back to the definition section and we find that an authorised person means "a person who is appointed under section 69 of this Act by the Minister to be an authorised person for the purposes of this Act."
I said on Committee Stage and I repeat here that I would look, in the first instance to the experienced and trained officers of my own Department when seeking persons to appoint as authorised officers, and outside that sphere of persons I would ordinarily and naturally look to the type of people covered by the amendment. Section 69 (1) and the definition are already broad enough. They are unlimited and enable me to appoint people who are intended to be covered by the amendment. I would say to Deputy Tunney and those who support this amendment that it is a patronising sort of amendment. It is an amendment which might not confer the honour or pride of place that it is intended to confer on the people covered by the amendment, because the very first words of it say "and may include". With the greatest respect, I would say it suggests that it would need to be written specially into the Bill that members of these organisations would be called upon before the Minister would call upon them.
My contributions towards this debate from beginning to end make it perfectly clear the regard in which I hold members of these voluntary bodies. As I say, the definition of section 2 and the enabling provisions of section 69 (1) are broad enough for me to appoint anybody that I regard as suitable, and outside my own Department I cannot think of anybody more suitable than people who have experience in the field of game protection and wildlife conservation when I am looking for people to deal with this facet of the Bill.
I would like to put it on record that the Bill deals with wildlife in the broadest sense. That includes the game sector. It would be quite invidious to mention any particular interests in the definition of "authorised person". However, the House may be assured that when it comes to the question of appointing authorised persons, all relevant organisations will be considered. Those who have read my contributions in the Seanad, on the Second Stage debate here and to the protracted Special Committee debate will come to the conclusion, I am sure, that the Minister can be relied upon to give due consideration and due regard to the people mentioned. Instead of putting people that the Deputy has in mind in a special privileged position or in a grade one category, the phraseology of the amendment would seem to suggest that they are also qualified. I hope that, on reflection, the Deputy will agree that the definition and subsection (1) of section 69 as they stand are not alone adequate to meet the point he has in mind but more advantageous to the people he is concerned about.
I support the amendment submitted by Deputy Tunney and I think that its acceptance will show in a positive way that he recognises the excellent work the voluntary organisations have been doing. I agree fully with the Minister when he praises voluntary organisations for their achievements. I cannot understand why the Minister takes issue with Deputy Tunney in regard to the word "may", because he uses the very same words in section 69 (1): "The Minister may appointel". I would ask the Minister to reconsider his position and accept this amendment proposed by Deputy Tunney.
I would ask the Minister to accept Deputy Tunney's amendment. As the Bill stands at the moment it is obvious that it will not be necessary for the Minister to appoint any member of any of those councils or clubs as an authorised person. It can be argued under section 69 that the Minister does not have to appoint in writing any person to be an authorised person for the purposes of this Act. The Minister states that it is his intention to appoint experienced persons of his own Department and that he intends to appoint persons from outside bodies and organisations such as have been mentioned in Deputy Tunney's amendment. This should be built into the Bill, otherwise there will be no guarantee that these organisations, which have done and are doing tremendous work in the interests of conservation, would be recognised and that a member of these organisations could ever become an authorised person under this Act.
In relation to the Minister's argument as regards the word "may" as against the word "shall", if you look at section 69 it will be seen that the word "may" is used, and in this context I feel that the word "may" is the appropriate word in the amendment. I agree that the definition of "authorised person" is broad enough, but it is not positive enough to make it clear to all that a member of any of the recognised councils and clubs and other bodies could be appointed as an authorised person. This amendment is not fundamental to the Bill, but it is important that it should be accepted so far as the calibre of persons to be appointed is concerned in regard to what Department or from what organisations or associations these authorised persons are to come from. That should be spelled out in full. This amendment should be accepted and the words "authorised person" should be clarified more fully.
I also support Deputy Tunney's amendment. The main reason that the Minister might include the game councils and gun clubs in this section is because of the tremendous local knowledge their members would have in particular areas. It is the local knowledge and co-operation of the community in different areas that will be a great factor in promoting the aims of this Bill. The only way we can promote the aims of the Bill is through the co-operation of organisations like the regional game councils and the gun clubs, which do such great work. In County Galway the gun clubs have done great work in controlling vermin. The gun clubs and other kindred bodies mentioned in this amendment would help to realise the aim of the Bill—the conservation of our flora and fauna.
It has already been pointed out that the Minister used the word "may" in section 69. I do not see any great argument against we on this side of the House having the word "may" in our amendment. It goes back to the problem raised by Deputy Daly on the Special Committee as regards the definition of the words "authorised person". From what I have heard on the Special Committee and here this morning I am not satisfied that this word is adequately defined. In connection with the definitions "authorised person" and "authorised officer", would the Minister let us know the difference between the two? In supporting this amendment we would not just give recognition to the voluntary organisations but we would have people included who have local knowledge and who would give co-operation to the Minister and his officials in carrying out the intentions of this Bill.
I support the amendment. I appreciate that the Minister probably intends to include these people. Recognition should be given particularly to game councils as they consist of gun clubs and farmers, who are very important. If you have not the support of the landlord, game preservation cannot be implemented. Another important point is that raised by Deputy Kitt, that is, the local knowledge of these people. That should be taken into consideration also.
In relation to the word "may", I do not think any other word can be put in. The reason for Deputy Tunney's amendment, as far as I know, is to have it in the Bill that recognition may be given. The Minister says that can be done without. These people have done so much in this sphere that to include them here would be a recognition of their efforts. Therefore I suggest that Deputy Tunney's amendment be accepted.
I am not convinced that the Minister has given a valid reason for not accepting the amendment. Rather, I should think that he has made a case for it. He repeated the concern that we all share for the type of voluntary effort which up to now has been evident in regard to the subject we are discussing. When we consider the area of the preservation of wildlife to date we realise that the saviours of the various species have not been entirely the appointed officers of the Department but also the people I am talking of. The Minister suggested that the amendment was superfluous, that it contained an element of tautology but this legislation, more than any other, is legislation of the people. What is before us is a people's Bill. That is why I want our acceptance of that position given recognition in the Bill. It is legislation which gives us an ideal opportunity to make reference to those people on whom we are so dependent in regard to the success of the measure.
My main concern is that the aims of the legislation be achieved. The Minister referred to the amendment as being patronising. I would not agree with him on that. Is he talking of our being patronising in so far as we are endeavouring to give recognition to people who deserve such? The people to whom I refer are more important in this whole area than are those whom he indicated will be the approved officers. Perhaps an officer from the Department will have a better knowledge of the subject than those other people. At least he will have a little more statutory backing by way of having something in writing from the Minister but that will not guarantee his acceptance by local people especially in the context of the subject we are talking of. I accept the Minister's sincerity in regard to the organisations I have in mind but how do we know that any successor of the Minister would give them the same recognition? Any successor to the Minister will be governed by what is contained in the legislation.
The amendment may seem simple in content but we regard it as being very important to this legislation. The Bill as a whole is regarded as being of great importance, a fact that is proven by the number of people who have come here for this stage of the debate. The real importance of the subject may not be as obvious now as it will be in five or ten years' time.
I have given consideration to the words "shall" and "may" in this context and I reckoned that if I proposed to have the word "shall" inserted the reaction of the Minister would be that he could not accept a situation in which it is spelled out in legislation that he must do what we have in mind, although in all probability that would be how he would act. The word "may" appears in subsection (1) of section 69, but I cannot see the major relevance of that subsection which says that the Minister may appoint a person in writing. That does not refer to what we are talking about. I ask the Minister to accept the amendment in the interest of the conservation of wildlife.
(Cavan): In reply to the Deputy who raised the question of an authorised officer or person, I would point out that an authorised officer is a member of the Department's staff and the type of person referred to in section 65, while an authorised person, could be either a member of the staff or the type of person we have been discussing here.
- Barrett, Sylvester.
- Brady, Philip A.
- Brennan, Joseph.
- Breslin, Cormac.
- Briscoe, Ben.
- Browne, Seán.
- Brugha, Ruairí.
- Callanan, John.
- Calleary, Seán.
- Carter, Frank.
- Colley, George.
- Collins, Gerard.
- Connolly, Gerard.
- Crowley, Flor.
- Daly, Brendan.
- de Valera, Vivion.
- Dowling, Joe.
- Fahey, Jackie.
- Farrell, Joseph.
- Faulkner, Pádraig.
- Fitzgerald, Gene.
- Fitzpatrick, Tom (Dublin Central).
- French, Seán.
- Gallagher, Denis.
- Geoghegan-Quinn, Máire.
- Gibbons, Hugh.
- Gogan, Richard P.
- Haughey, Charles.
- Hussey, Thomas.
- Kenneally, William.
- Kitt, Michael P.
- Lalor, Patrick J.
- Leonard, James.
- Loughnane, William.
- Lynch, Celia.
- Lynch, Jack.
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- Meaney, Tom.
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- Moore, Seán.
- Murphy, Ciarán.
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- Noonan, Michael.
- O'Kennedy, Michael.
- O'Leary, John.
- O'Malley, Desmond.
- Power, Patrick.
- Timmons, Eugene.
- Tunney, Jim.
- Walsh, Seán.
- Wilson, John P.
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- Barry, Richard.
- Begley, Michael.
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- Bruton, John.
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- Burke, Liam.
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- Cruise-O'Brien, Conor.
- Desmond, Barry.
- Desmond, Eileen.
- Dockrell, Henry P.
- Donnellan, John.
- Dunne, Thomas.
- Esmonde, John G.
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- FitzGerald, Garret.
- Fitzpatrick, Tom (Cavan).
- Flanagan, Oliver J.
- Gilhawley, Eugene.
- Governey, Desmond.
- Griffin, Brendan.
- Halligan, Brendan.
- Hegarty, Patrick.
- Hogan O'Higgins, Brigid.
- Jones, Denis F.
- Keating, Justin.
- Kelly, John.
- Cluskey, Frank.
- Collins, Edward.
- Conlan, John F.
- Coogan, Fintan.
- Cooney, Patrick M.
- Corish, Brendan.
- Cosgrave, Liam.
- Costello, Declan.
- Creed, Donal.
- Kenny, Enda.
- Kyne, Thomas A.
- L'Estrange, Gerald.
- Lynch, Gerard.
- McLaughlin, Joseph.
- McMahon, Larry.
- Malone, Patrick.
- Murphy, Michael P.
- O'Brien, Fergus.
- O'Donnell, Tom.
- O'Leary, Michael.
- O'Sullivan, John L.
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Amendment No. 2 is related to amendment No. 8 and amendments Nos. 8, 10, 11 and 12 are cognate. I suggest that amendments Nos. 2, 8, 10, 11 and 12 be taken together.
(Cavan): I move amendment No. 2:
In page 5, after line 43, to insert the following definition:
" `the Board', except in section 14 and the Second Schedule hereto, means An Bord Pleanála;".
Amendment No. 2 is being proposed in order to provide a definition for the purposes of amendments Nos. 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 22, in all of which reference is made to An Bord Pleanála established under the recently enacted Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 1976. The purpose of amendments Nos. 8, 10, 11 and 12 is to provide that in addition to planning authorities An Bord Pleanála will also be notified by the Minister of the establishment of nature reserves under section 15, refuges for fauna under section 16, special management agreements made under section 17 and flora protection orders made under section 20. The amendment is to meet a point raised on Committee Stage.
I move amendment No. 2 (a):
In page 6, line 5, after "includes" to insert "surveying,".
It is essential when we talk about conservation in respect of wildlife that we make provision for the identification and the scientific pinpointing of all the problems attaching to what we hope will be successful conservation. In other sections there are certain exclusions and inclusions in respect of education and science, but unless there is a scientific approach and unless certain surveys and surveying take place it will not be possible to treat all the problems attaching to wildlife conservation that really exist. On an earlier amendment I spoke of how vital it was to provide for local knowledge, local interests, local personnel but simultaneous with that we must have a development which searches out the problems attaching to wildlife and makes these searches in an educated and scientific way.
It would appear from the legislation before us that conservation is dependent upon restricting the shooting and the pursuit of game and wildlife generally by persons. We know that that is not the position. We know, for instance, that the frightening reduction in fauna and flora in this country over the last decade has occurred because of other factors, especially the use of insecticides and also the ravages of vermin. I would venture to say that insecticides and vermin have done more to lead to a situation where one can no longer see a partridge in a stubble field in Ireland than has any man with a gun. I give that as an example and as justification for my including here the word "surveying" which I hope would apply to the actual surveying of the land as well as surveys which would be carried out. Unless we have this information and unless the land mass can be surveyed to indicate to us the extent of vermin and the extent of damage which has been done by insecticides and pesticides, it will be a rather futile exercise to hope that we could reach the point we hope this legislation will bring us.
(Cavan): I am sorry I cannot accept Deputy Tunney's amendment. The reason I do not propose to accept it is that I do not consider that it is necessary and I believe that it is adequately covered by the existing provisions in the Bill. I hope to be able to convince Deputy Tunney that that is so. Conservation, as defined in the definition section, is stated to include management, regulation and use of land in relation to the interests of wildlife and, when appropriate, development and improvement of land having regard to those interests. I would put it to the House that “management” is a very wide term. It is wide enough to cover anything necessary to manage lands properly. Surely one of the paramount necessities of managing land would be to know what is on the land, to know the extent of the land. Therefore, I am satisfied that the word “management” is wide enough to cover surveying the land. I have no doubt about that but, if there is any doubt about it, it is already covered by another section of the Bill. I refer the Deputy to section 65 which reads:
Any person appointed in writing by the Minister under section 11 of the Act of 1946 to be an authorised officer for the purposes of that section (which person is subsequently in this section referred to as an authorised officer) may at any reasonable time enter on, inspect and survey any landel.
That section confers on the Minister the right to send one of his officers to survey the land for the purpose of ascertaining whether there is any fauna. I respectfully suggest that that section should meet and dispel any doubt the Deputy has in regard to the definition of "conservation".
Again in regard to the definition section, I am satisfied, and I am so advised, that "management" is wide enough to cover and include conservation. How could one manage something if one does not know all about it? How could a man manage a farm if he has not access to each field to see if it needed manuring, if it should be tilled, if it needed fencing or if there was an adequate water supply there. In my view that is elementary. I am also satisfied that the Minister has research powers conferred on him under section 11 (3). In my view it would be bad drafting to add unnecessary words to the definitions and I am satisfied, having considered the matter and being so advised, that the inclusion of the word "surveying" suggested by Deputy Tunney is unnecessary and I do not propose to accept the amendment.
In my view the Minister should accept this amendment because the inclusion of the word "surveying" is of great importance to the definition of the word "conservation". Surveying is the key to proper planning, development and management. One must survey before one can carry out any development. The carrying out of a survey should be a preliminary step to any scheme of conservation. It may be necessary one day to carry out a survey to see if a wild animal or bird should be protected. We may then be told that there is no authority to carry out such a survey because surveying is not included in the definition of "conservation" under this Bill. Therefore, it would be impossible to carry out such a survey. That could be used at least as an excuse. Therefore the word "surveying" should be included.
The Minister mentioned section 65. In my view there is a big difference between the provisions of that section and a proper survey being carried out for the purpose of conservation. There is a big difference between an officer being sent out on an inspection and carrying out a survey to discover if it is necessary to protect flora or fauna. I am convinced the Minister must accept this amendment.
We will not spend all day discussing the merits of one word as against another. The Minister did not convince me that one can equate management with surveying. As I see it, surveying is a necessary antecedent to management. It might be said that one cannot manage properly without having surveyed, but I do not know if this legislation recognises the importance of surveying. Section 65, to which the Minister referred, is an indication of that. He said that the authorised officer may "inspect and survey any land for the purpose of ascertaining whether there are fauna on the land which are in need of protection". That refers to what the officer will see. The Minister could argue that subsequent to that the officer will set in train certain surveys——
(Cavan): I do not want to interrupt the Deputy, but I did not read all that section. If the Deputy reads on he will see that it includes:
or for any other purposeelin connection with the performance by the Minister of his functions under this Act.
Precisely, and I have that underlined. The performance of the Minister is governed by what is in this Bill. In the definition section, page 6, line 5, "conservation" includes management and regulation. In my view it would be additional protection for the Minister and would satisfy more correctly the spirit of section 65, if we extended the definition of "conservation" to include "surveying".
I do not think I should waste the time of the House covering ground already covered, but surely the Minister will accept that unless there is a scientific approach the legislation will not be desirably effective. I refer specifically to the importance of education, of scientific application in the matter of conservation. I repeat what I said earlier, that the ravages we see today are not highlighted in the legislation. If the Minister is satisfied that "management" refers to surveying and that it provides for the type of surveying I have mentioned, I would be happy.
(Cavan): I am perfectly happy that sections 11 and 65 give me all the powers I need to discharge my functions under the Act.
Or any other Minister?
(Cavan): Even one less equipped than me.
Is there such available?
I move amendment No. 2b:
In page 6, line 41, after "take" to insert "bolt, dig out,".
At the Committee Stage the Minister spoke about the dangers the draftsman enters into when he sets out to define any word. The definition here is very important in regard to the word "hunt". The draftsman has given us about 20 words and they naturally set us wondering whether his attempt at defining the word was as comprehensive as we had wished. Reference was made to an exercise that has been occurring in that regard. There is reference to the circumstances in which a person hunting an animal would drive the animal to the refuge of a hole or burrow, not necessarily his normal habitat. The animal is removed by the use of a special type spade, as in north County Dublin, or a fork. The hunter proceeds to dig until such time as he has little between himself and the animal.
I do not see how any of the words in the section refers to that unsporting and unwelcome operation. We gave it some thought and our description of that operation appears in the two words "dig out". We think these two words should be included. Words and traditions vary from county to county, but we understood from other members of the committee that such an operation is sometimes referred to as bolting, and we are attempting to have the word "bolt" inserted as well. We hope the Minister will accept this, about which there is nothing controversial. I am hoping he will not tell me that he considers it to be unnecessary. The committee were not satisfied that any of the words in lines 41 and 42 would cover the distasteful operations to which I have referred.
(Cavan): One of the ways of attempting to prevent somebody from giving the obvious answer is to say: “I hope the Minister will not give the obvious answer,” and I admire Deputy Tunney's technique in that respect. In all sincerity, I regard the amendment as quite unnecessary. The Bill defines hunting very elaborately in the following terms: “stalk, pursue, chase, drive, flush, capture, course, attract, follow, search for, lie in wait for, take, trap or shoot.” Deputy Tunney proposes to add the words “bolt, dig out”. I am satisfied that the activities mentioned by Deputy Tunney are included. They could be included in “chase, pursue”. I think “bolt” is another way of saying “flush”. Therefore, I respectfully suggest that the activities covered by the words proposed to be added are already covered by several parts of the definition.
Would putting a ferret in be covered?
(Cavan): I would say it could be included in pursuing or chasing.
And smoking out?
(Cavan): That would be chasing them out.
On a point of information, will ferrets be illegal now?
(Cavan): That does not arise.
I know it does not, but I just raised it on a point of information.
(Cavan): It would depend on what the ferrets would be used for. From my boyhood days——
We know what they are used for.
(Cavan):—— they were used mainly to chase rabbits. Rabbits are not protected under the Bill, so it all depends on what the ferrets are used for.
I move amendment No. 2c:
In page 6, line 49, after "State" to insert "and includes tidal estuaries and reservoirs".
I raised this at a meeting of the Special Committee and I was not entirely satisfied with the reply I got from the Minister. In my constituency we have the Shannon estuary which is tidal right up to Limerick city. I am not satisfied that the Shannon Estuary is included in the definition. The mouth of the Shannon as officially defined is from Kilconneely Point in Kerry to Kilfinane in County Clare. From there out to Loop Head is quite a considerable distance. I suspect there might be territorial seas but from Kilfinane and Kilconneely up to Limerick city would not be regarded as territorial seas. Therefore it would seem to me that this area is excluded from the Bill. If that is the case, we need to amend the definition of "inland waters" to have it included. This can be done if the Minister accepts this amendment.
On Committee Stage the Minister gave an assurance that he would look at this matter and see if anything could be done about it before we got to this stage. He has not made any changes in it. Therefore, I assume he must be satisfied that this stretch of waterway from Limerick city to Kilfinane is included in the definition of "inland waters". I assume there must be other areas in a similar situation. There is an omission from the Bill and tidal areas could be excluded.
Reservoirs were also mentioned. At the Special Committee the Poulaphouca reservoir was mentioned. It appears to me that Poulaphouca is not included either. It is felt it is desirable that reservoirs should be included and therefore we suggest the inclusion of tidal estuaries and reservoirs. Is the Minister satisfied the areas I have mentioned are covered in the section? I believe they are not.
(Cavan): I can appreciate Deputy Daly's anxiety in regard to the Shannon. It was quite proper for him to raise this matter at the Special Committee. I undertook then to look into it further. It was quite proper for him to raise it again here today. I can tell him straight away that the Shannon estuary is an inland water. This is a technical matter and I will just have to explain it section by section. It will not take too long.
The term "inland waters" is defined as meaning any waters comprised in the internal or inland waters of the State. Section 5 of the Maritime Jurisdiction Act, 1959, declares and establishes that the internal or inland waters of the State shall extend to all sea areas which lie on the landward side of the baseline of the territorial seas. Section 2 of that Act defines the territorial seas of the State as that portion of the sea which lies between the baseline and the outer limit of the territorial seas. The outer limit is defined in section 3 of the said Act as being three nautical miles from the nearest point of the baseline. The baselines along the north, west and south coasts are straight baselines fixed under the Maritime Jurisdiction Act, 1959, Straight Baselines Order, 1959. The baseline along the east coast is the low water mark on the coast of the mainland or of any island.
To summarise, therefore, anything lying inside a baseline as defined in the Maritime Jurisdiction Act, 1959, is an inland water. It may be a bit complicated and we may have to take it stage by stage, but there is no doubt that the Shannon estuary, with which Deputy Daly is particularly concerned, is an inland water within that definition. At the Special Committee I produced a map showing the baseline established under the Baselines Order, 1959.
I have no recollection of seeing the map to which the Minister refers. Possibly he had it with him.
(Cavan): I am satisfied I produced it.
It was not produced on our side. Deputy Daly will deal in his efficient way with the problem of the Shannon. We are also concerned with an area like Poulaphouca.
(Cavan): It is an inland water.
It is a lake. The Minister quoted the Maritime Jurisdiction Act.
(Cavan): Poulaphouca is clearly an inland water.
Under what Act? Poulaphouca is not a lake in the normal sense. It is an artificial lake created to supply water to the people of Dublin. The Minister tells me that comes within the meaning of——
(Cavan): An inland water.
I must tell the corporation that.
If the Shannon Estuary is included, are all inlets included in the definition of "inland waters"?
(Cavan): Inside the baseline.
If I knew where the baseline was, or if I had seen the map, I might be able to comment on that. Having regard to the number of peninsulas and inlets and bays we have, it is important to have them included. Can I take it that anything inside the baseline is included and is regarded as an inland water?
(Cavan): Exactly. The outer limit is defined in section 3 of the Maritime Jurisdiction Act, 1959, as being three nautical miles from the nearest point of the baseline.
Could I ask the Minister if reservoirs other than Poulaphouca, which is a special case, are included?
(Cavan): They are inland waters.
I, like other Deputies, cannot recall seeing the particular map the Minister mentioned. Perhaps he would make it available to us?
(Cavan): As a matter of courtesy, I will send a copy of the map to Deputy Tunney.
And also a copy of the regulations?
(Cavan): They are statutory documents and can be got in the Stationery Office. I understand they are also in the Library.
While accepting that what the Minister says is correct, it seems to me to be very much on the border line.
(Cavan): It can be difficult to explain.
Even lines of low water are difficult enough to define. However, if the Minister is satisfied that what we have in mind is completely covered here, I am prepared to withdraw the amendment.
(Cavan): I am.
(Cavan): I move amendment No. 3:
In page 7, line 12, to delete "Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 1963" and substitute "Local Government (Planning and Development) Acts 1963 and 1976".
Amendments Nos. 3, 6 and 13 are related and may be taken together.
(Cavan): These are technical amendments necessitated by the recent enactment of the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 1976. It was not possible to move them on Committee Stage as the 1976 Act had not been enacted at the time.
Amendment No. 3 is to cover the collective citation of the 1963 Planning Act with the 1976 Planning Act. Amendment No. 6 is necessary, first of all, to cover the recent amendment of Parts III, IV and V of the 1963 Local Government (Planning and Development) Act by the 1976 Planning Act and, secondly, in order to cover the planning appeal functions of the recently established Bord Pleanála which had hitherto been the responsibility of the Minister for Local Government under the 1963 Planning Act. Amendment No. 13 is necessary in order to take account of the amendment of section 46 (1) of the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 1963, by section 40 (b) of the 1976 Planning Act. These are purely drafting amendments.
Has Bord Pleanála been established yet?
(Cavan): It has been established.
No, it is not. Provision for its establishment has been made.
(Cavan): Yes, in the Act we are just speaking about, the Planning Act of 1976. It has not, in fact, been brought into existence.
Is it anticipated that it will be established on the 1st January?
(Cavan): The Deputy will appreciate that it does not fall to be dealt with by my Department, but I understand it is in the course of being established.
But the fact that it is not in existence as of now does not in any way affect the Minister's amendment?
(Cavan): No, I am so advised.
I move amendment No. 3a:
In page 8, line 36, after "Act" to insert "other than moneys received under the terms of section 6".
I want to suggest that this amendment, in the name of Deputy Tunney, is one the Minister should accept. In the Special Committee we pointed out an internal contradiction which exists in the Bill in the fact that section 5 seems to be at cross-purposes with section 6. Section 5 stipulates that all moneys received by the Minister under this Act shall be paid into or disposed of for the benefit of the Exchequer in such manner as the Minister for Finance may direct. That is very specific and very clear. I suppose it is a fairly normal provision in legislation of this sort protecting the public purse and making sure that any moneys accruing as a result of the passing of this legislation or its operation or administration will go into the Exchequer and come under the general control of the Minister for Finance.
Section 6, however, deals with the question of gifts which may be made to the Minister or to the Government in respect of the purposes for which this legislation is being enacted. Section 6 is a very desirable and important section, and I think we would all like to envisage that public-spirited persons would be disposed to make such gifts to the Minister. Again, I think we can all anticipate that there would be circumstances, with the burden of taxation as it is, in which many persons will not be able to maintain or keep up properties, and consider that the best thing for them to do is to hand these properties over to the State and ensure that whatever amenities they provide will be preserved for the good of the general public. I believe that is something Deputies on all sides of the House will agree should be encouraged.
Apart from the possibility of persons making gifts or handing over properties of one sort or another to the Minister and his Department, there is also the question of individuals making donations for specific wildlife purposes. There are many people in our community who have a very lively interest in wildlife conservation. They would be prepared to make outright gifts of money if they could be certain that these gifts would be put to good use and would be used for the benefit of our wildlife and for maintaining our countryside in its present form. There is, of course, on the world scene a very important fund, the Wildlife Fund which, I understand, receives enormous sums of money which it dispenses for worthwhile purposes in the conservation field and for different wildlife purposes. We are also familiar with the situation which prevails in this country and, indeed, in Great Britain whereby there are traditional funds for various purposes in this area. There is a number of organisations to which benevolent persons make donations to which they bequeath money in their wills for the purposes of the avoidance of cruelty to animals and or the protection of different species of animals. Many of us would not be happy that in the case of many of these funds the wishes of the donors and the benefactors are always fully carried out. In the case of many funds in this area a great deal goes on administrative purposes rather than being spent for the specific purposes for which the funds are ostensibly established.
Therefore, it is very desirable the Minister would be in a position to accept gifts from persons, organisations and companies for the general purposes which this legislation is intended to cover. There is no better way in which people who are so minded could put their money to good use than by simply giving it to the Minister and his Department. The Minister and his Department have now, and in the future will have to an even greater extent, more knowledge of what is needed in these areas than anybody else. They are better equipped to achieve the purposes which the people I am referring to have in mind. Section 6 is a very important and desirable section. One would hope that the existence of section 6 would be publicised as much as possible so that as many people as possible who are interested in this area would know about it and would be prepared to use it to give effect to their wishes in regard to wildlife and conservation purposes generally.
The Special Committee saw a danger here which we wish to avoid. We see the possibility that the purposes of section 6 might be subverted unless it is made absolutely clear that any person, organisation or company which wishes to make a donation of either money or property for this purpose could be certain that their wishes in this regard would be fully implemented. We do not want to see a situation where money gifts donated by well-meaning people could be diverted into the general Exchequer or for general Department of Lands purposes. We would like to ensure that the Minister would be absolutely free to receive gifts, whether money or property, and devote them exclusively for the preservation and protection of wildlife.
For that reason we have put down this amendment. We want to take any such money totally out of the ambit of section 5. As section 5 is framed at the moment, it seems that a gift given to the Minister for a specific wildlife purpose could be diverted into the general Exchequer and lost, or it could be diverted within the Minister's Department for some other purpose of a general departmental nature. Our amendment is to make sure that section 5 does not apply in any way to gifts made to the Minister for the purposes of this Act. As the two sections stand there is a danger of confusion. As we know, a person making a gift may not always necessarily be specific in the terms in which they are making it. One could visualise a person making a gift of this sort with a general intention that it would go towards the conservation and protection of wildlife, but not spelling that out as explicitly as would be necessary. We know that the Comptroller and Auditor General is very alert to the interests of the general Exchequer in all matters of this sort and will make sure that, pursuant to the statute and to constitutional responsibility, any money which properly belongs to the Exchequer will go into the Exchequer. Therefore, in certain circumstances we can visualise gifts intended for the purposes of this Bill being diverted, without malice on anybody's part, into the general Exchequer.
We suggest that in section 5 after "Act" the words "other than moneys received under the terms of section 6" be inserted. That would mean that section 5 would be restricted to that extent and could not in any circumstances be invoked by the Minister for Finance, the Comptroller and Auditor General or anybody else to take for general Exchequer purposes gifts which were clearly intended by the donor for the purposes of this Bill. Apart from achieving that overall objective, the amendment helps to make the Bill a better Bill, because there is some confusion between section 5 and section 6. If our amendment is accepted the position would be much more defined, so that section 5 would only apply to normal administrative receipts as a result of the implementation and operation of the legislation and that section 6 would apply specifically and exclusively to money given to the Minister as gifts by well-meaning public spirited persons for the general purpose of this legislation.
(Cavan): Broadly speaking the object of this Bill is to conserve wildlife and for that purpose to protect certain wild creatures and flora. Deputy Haughey anticipates that some well-intentioned benevolent and generous citizens might wish, and are very likely to desire to make gifts to the Minister for Lands or to the Government for that purpose. I know that Deputy Haughey is concerned to see that the Minister for Lands would have unfettered jurisdiction and discretion to apply those gifts for the purposes they were intended for by the donors.
The Deputy appears to be fearful that in some way section 5 of the Bill as drafted might capture these gifts for the general Exchequer or might, so far as the donor would be concerned, misappropriate gifts. There is no fear of that happening. The section as drafted confers absolute power and discretion on the Minister to use and apply gifts whether of money or kind for the purpose for which the donor donated them. As Deputy Haughey knows well, when gifts are being made negotiations and discussions take place between the donor and the Department receiving the gifts for the purpose of ensuring that the gifts will be applied in the manner in which the donor intends. Sometimes gifts are made on certain conditions. I go further and say that the legislation as drafted enables the Minister to apply the gifts for the purpose for which they are donated. Even if they are not subject to conditions, I am providing that they would be so applied. This would be the case even if there was merely an expression of a wish on the part of the donor regarding the manner in which the gifts were to be applied.
Let us look at the two sections. Section 5 which Deputy Haughey fears might capture the gifts for the Exchequer reads:
All moneys received by the Minister under this Act shall be paid into or disposed of for the benefit of the Exchequer in such manner as the Minister for Finance may direct.
I am satisfied that the moneys mentioned in that section are moneys received by way of revenue under the Act, such as licence fees, car parking fees and, perhaps fees or moneys received from the sale of various items under the Act, items which the Minister is entitled to sell and also moneys received from lettings under the Act. Consequently, moneys received under the Act shall be paid into or disposed of for the benefit of the Exchequer.
We come now to section 6, the existence of which makes clear that gifts are being dealt with in a manner different from that in which revenue is being dealt with. Specific and special provisions are being made for gifts under the Bill. Section 6 reads:
The Minister may accept any gift made to him for all or any of the purposes of this Act, and, subject to the terms thereof, may apply it for those purposes.
That is subject to the terms of the gift, whether these terms be written or oral. The section does not provide that the Minister concerned may apply the gift, not with the consent of the Minister for Finance nor of any other Minister, but of his own volition. Is that not as clear as anything could be? The only attempt to fetter the Minister or, indeed, to guide him, is contained in the terms of the gift, the terms laid down by the donor. Like the provisions of most Acts, this is not new. It has followed precedent as we will see if we refer to section 8 of the Forestry Act, 1946 which reads:
All moneys received by the Minister under this Act shall be paid into, or disposed of for the benefit of the Exchequer in such manner as the Minister for Finance may direct.
That is the section dealing with revenue. Section 9, (4) of the same Act, which deals with gifts, reads:
The Minister may accept any gift made to him for all or any of the purposes of this Act, and, subject to the terms thereof, may apply it for those purposes in accordance with regulations which he is hereby authorised to make.
Has there ever been such a gift?
(Cavan): In so far as there is any difference between subsection (4) of section 9 of the Forestry Act, 1946 and section 6 of this Bill, the provision before us is the more flexible. I am advised that the fear held by Deputy Haughey regarding gifts being misappropriated is groundless but I cannot rely merely on advice. I must, as Minister, accept the responsibility in putting the legislation through. Consequently, having considered this question carefully, I am satisfied that section 6 which deals with gifts is in no way subject to or controlled by section 5 and that the Minister has the sort of power, freedom and discretion in regard to gifts that Deputy Haughey would wish him to have.
Has there ever been a gift made under section 8 of the Forestry Act?
(Cavan): I am not in a position offhand to give a reply to that question.
The amendment before us is essential if we are to avoid ambiguity in respect of sections 5 and 6 of the Bill. We must ensure that gifts or moneys which are donated to the Department of Lands cannot find their way by any means into the Exchequer as would seem to be the possibility in the context of the terms of section 5. We must ensure that any such gifts or moneys are taken completely out of the ambit of section 5.
It is of vital importance for the future that everything possible is done in the interests of the conservation of wildlife and of the environment. This is of particular importance to our tourist industry but apart from that consideration we must do everything possible to improve the quality of life not only for this but for future generations. It may well be necessary that we promote campaigns in an effort to procure donations of gifts and money for this purpose. Such promotion could be got under way by way of educational programmes on the subject of conservation; and these, in turn, would tend to encourage individuals to contribute and donate.
I believe that if such campaigns are to succeed any ambiguity as between sections 5 and 6 of this Bill should be removed completely. The only way to remove it would be to accept our amendment in the name of Deputy Tunney. This amendment clarifies beyond doubt that such moneys, gifts or donations should be applied for the purposes of this Act solely. The Minister said that it is quite likely that donations of the kind which he envisages would be the subject of negotiations and discussions. This could well be so in many instances but what about the position relating to wills? Many a person may intend to provide some money in his will for conservation and protection of wildlife but because of some doubt as to whether the money would be properly used afterwards, whether it would go into the Exchequer, he might not will this money for the purposes of this Act. We must remember that, strictly speaking, the word "gift" in section 6 includes gifts in the usual sense of the word—more than lands, more than property; it includes cash. If we are to get the gifts, donations and cash which we should get and which we should seek to get to make sure that conservation is a success and that wildlife is protected to the extent we would like, there should be no doubt as to how the money is to be accounted for. I am firmly convinced that this amendment should be accepted.
I should like to add my comment to the case so cogently made by Deputy Haughey and supplemented by Deputy O'Leary. I think there is ample proof that the Minister has excessive respect for what has appeared in other legislation. One can correctly accuse him of this and charge him with using plagiarism as a justification for what is correct. To me, the copying of two sections from some legislation of 20 years ago is not necessarily a basis for doing something in 1976. We are required to do the correct thing and if what already exists does not do what we think is necessary and what should be done, there is no point in quoting tradition and trying to justify a case on the basis that you copied two sections out of some earlier legislation.
The Minister said that, broadly speaking, this legislation deals with conserving wildlife. We agree, but it also treats of the employment of every agent and agency in that respect. Surely the Minister will accept that there is a greater likelihood of people or associations or organisations making gifts to conservation rather than to afforestation. We must look at the situation before us. As Deputy Haughey said, there are people and agencies so well disposed that one can anticipate that they might make a gift in the form of money. I think the Minister did not deny that. If that is so, the Minister will have to admit that his unpreparedness to accept the amendment in my name is an indication of the doubt which he has as to whether that money is provided for in section 6.
I offer him the reverse of the situation as presented by us. It is proposed to amend section 5 so as to exclude moneys which the Minister would get by way of gift from the power or the direction of the Minister for Finance so that that money would be available to the Minister for Lands. Section 6 at present reads: "The Minister may accept any gift made to himel" Suppose that were to read: "The Minister may accept any gift including gifts of moneyel" would he accept it? On his own argument, I think he would have to accept it but in view of his attitude to the amendment proposed to section 5 I must have doubts. If what the Minister says in respect of section 6 is true, the logical conclusion is that he must accept the provision made in our amendment in respect of section 5. The Minister made no case against it except that he was quite sure that it would happen and that it would be his function and right to accept and dispose of moneys which come to him by way of gifts. If that is so there should not be any reluctance on the part of the Minister to accept the amendment which appears in my name and which has been prompted by Deputy Haughey in respect of section 5.
I also support this amendment and in doing so I would like to support what Deputy Haughey said as regards the desirability of having section 6 in this Bill. If we did not have a section like this the Minister would not be in a position to accept any gift in the first place, but it is obvious that there is a contradiction between section 5 and this very welcome section 6. Section 5 states:
All moneys received by the Minister under this Act shall be paid into or disposed of for the benefit of the Exchequer in such manner as the Minister for Finance may direct.
Our amendment clarifies the position that moneys other than moneys received under the terms of section 6 and section 5 would be included.
We are talking about conservation in this Bill, and if we have a public-spirited person who gives a gift to the Minister, perhaps in money terms or an area of land, we want him to be sure that this will be used for the purposes of this Bill and of conservation. I know that the Minister has doubts on this from what he said at the Special Committee and what he has said here to-day.
(Cavan): I have no doubts.
At the Special Committee the Minister mentioned the possibility of an amendment. The amendment that the Minister suggested was exactly the same as the one we have down here today. I wonder why the Minister changed his mind.
(Cavan): I promised I would look into it. I have looked into it very carefully. I have received the best possible advice on it and I am satisfied that as drafted the two sections achieve what the Deputy wants to achieve.
Could I say to the Minister then that from section 4, 5 and 6 of this Bill it seems that the Minister for Finance naturally holds the purse strings and he has put the Minister for Lands in an invidious situation?
(Cavan): He does not get into section 6.
Under section 4 he controls all the expenses of the Minister. There could be a situation whereby the Minister for Lands in a severe economic situation would get very little from the Exchequer and the fear that has been expressed on this side of the House that the aims of this Bill would not be carried out would be well founded.
Section 4, which relates to the expenses, is also related to the two sections we are discussing. To make this situation clear the Minister must accept our amendment that moneys received by the Minister under this section other than moneys received under the terms of section 6 would be paid into or disposed of for the benefit of the Exchequer. That would clarify the point we have been making on this side of the House. We also made this point at the Special Committee. I do not think it is desirable that the Minister should have all the consultation which we will see comes up later on in the Bill. Consultation between Ministers as regards the section is possibly another day's work. Again here we have the possibility of conflict between two Ministers and I feel that the result would be that the Minister for Lands would come out second best.
I want to support the argument from this side of the House. I say in passing that I can envisage many cases in which people would be willing to give gifts to the Minister for Lands, particularly the present Minister for Lands, but who certainly would not be prepared to give them to the present Minister for Finance.
Perhaps it would be as well at the outset of my concluding remarks that I should say that all on this side of the House accept the Minister's goodwill in this matter. If we are pushing him on this amendment it is in order that this Bill would be a better Bill as a result of having gone through the parliamentary procedures here. I would hope that, having listened to us, he would even at this late stage decide to accept our amendment. I think my colleagues and I have put up an unanswerable case. Let me first of all deal with the wording of section 5. It says very specifically:
All moneys received by the Minister under this Actel
The Minister endeavoured to suggest that that referred only to licence fees and ordinary administrative receipts. I am afraid it does not. It is totally wide in its application. It is all moneys, no matter what, that are received under this Act. If a person makes a gift of money to the Minister under section 6 nobody could possibly argue that that is not money received by the Minister under this Act. It will be a gift of money received by the Minister under section 6 of the Act and therefore will be moneys received under the Act. I think the argument in that regard is unanswerable. Any Minister for Finance or Secretary of the Department of Finance as the Accounting Officer, or the Comptroller and Auditor General would have to look very closely and carefully at any gift of money made to the Minister under section 6 and say "That comes within the ambit of section 5 and must go into the Exchequer."
Deputy J. O'Leary made a very important point about wills. The Minister is inclined to fall back on the position that there will be negotiations when these gifts will be made. Perhaps in many cases that would be so and the matter could be put beyond doubt and the donor would say "Under no circumstances is that socialist over in Merrion Square to get his hands on this gift of mine. I want it specifically given to the Minister for Lands to be spent for that purpose". That could happen under negotiation but, as Deputy J. O'Leary points out, some of those gifts could be made under wills and in fact many of them would be.
(Cavan): I do not want to interrupt the Deputy, but it is more likely that if it is made under a will specific conditions would be laid down.
I will come to that later. I would ask the Minister not to interrupt me. I am making my own arguments in my own inimitable way. It is very conceivable that a solicitor, perhaps not as knowledgeable and experienced as the Minister but an ordinary solicitor, would be advising a client drawing up a will. In the case where the client would say "I wish to leave £10,000 for conservation purposes", the solicitor would say in all good faith "Well, the best possible thing you can do is leave it for the Minister for Lands for the purposes of the wildlife legislation". The gift would almost certainly appear in the will "I hereby bequeath the sum of £10,000 to the Minister for Lands for the purposes of the Wildlife Act, 1976". That is a perfectly normal development which would occur in a will. That, of course, immediately would bring that gift within the terms of section 5 and without any doubt it would have to go into the Exchequer for general Exchequer purposes. The Minister must recognise that. The wording of section 5 is far too comprehensive and certainly includes money paid to him as a gift under section 6.
I do not want to go over the same ground again, but we would all like to see a situation brought about where people who are disposed to leave money for these purposes would leave it to the Minister and his Department. We all agree that that is the best place to which such gifts should be made.
(Cavan): Then section 6 would apply.
That is what I am coming at. We would like to see full use made of section 6. Instead of well-meaning people leaving money to this or that organisation for the protection of cats, or for the development of some particular species, we would like to see such people encouraged to make their donations and gifts to the Minister for Lands because in that way they would know it was going for the right purposes and it would be scientifically directed. The Minister and his dedicated staff know better than anybody else the way money of this sort can be properly and beneficially spent. People could be certain that none of it would be frittered away in administrative expenses as can happen in the other organisations.
It was only as this Bill was teased out in Committee that one began to think a little better about it, but if I had to do it again I would propose that the Minister establish in his Department, as a separate item, an Irish wildlife fund. That would positively encourage persons to make donations and bequeath sums of money in their wills to that fund. It would be separate, distinct, kept in his Department and administered by the Minister and his advisers and officials for the sole and specific purpose of wildlife and conservation. I am sure the Minister would fully agree that that would be a very desirable development.
Section 6 could become a very important section, but it will not unless we make this safeguard. I asked the Minister across the House if any gifts had been made under section 8 of the Forestry Act, 1946. I would be very surprised if there had, because nobody knew about it or, if they did, they were not very certain what it was all about. Anybody who wanted to leave money for a specific conservation or wildlife purpose would leave it, perhaps, to the world wildlife fund or to one of the organisations co-operating in this field. Why can we not decide to make section 6 an important section and use it as a vehicle for channelling these funds into an Irish wildlife fund administered by the Minister? I suggest we can do that if the Minister accepts this amendment.
We are getting to a very late stage in this Bill. It is not like an ordinary Bill where we could say to the Minister: "When you get to the Seanad perhaps you will consider this and make an amendment there". This Bill came to us from the Seanad and it will not go back there. We are practically on our last parliamentary procedural legs at this stage, and unless the Minister accepts this amendment now, there is no other avenue open to us. I very strongly urge him to accept the amendment.
If he asked any outside lawyer, who knows nothing about our parliamentary procedures, he would tell him that moneys given to the Minister as a gift for any conservation or wildlife purpose come within the wording of section 5 and will have to go into the Exchequer. What objection has the Minister to the amendment? He has not told us. At the most he can say it is not necessary, but we say it is. We also say that it cannot do any harm to his Bill. It cannot be in any way inimical to the interests of the Minister for Finance or the Exchequer. It is merely putting beyond doubt the question of money gifts made to the Minister under the terms of section 6. It is making sure that there will be no doubt or ambiguity about the operation of section 6. Anybody who wants to give money to the Minister for these purposes under section 6 can do so in the secure knowledge that that money will go for the purpose he intended and will not be diverted into the Exchequer.
I hope the Minister will accept that we are accepting his goodwill in regard to section 6. We are concerned and anxious that he should have the best Bill possible when he takes it away from this House. If he cannot see any particular objection to our wording—and I cannot see how he can —he would make us all a lot more secure and happier with the two sections if he would accept it.
I move amendment No. 3b:
In page 8, lines 45 and 46, to delete "at the same time as is so laid the report for that year of his proceedings under the Act of 1946" and to insert "within twelve months from the termination of the year to which the report refers".
Anybody who looks at the report of the Committee Stage will see that at this point in Committee we met but parted on what might be described as an unhappy note. That arose because in our efforts to put what we regarded as a proper input into this Bill the chairman of the Committee, whose belated arrival I welcome to this House, endeavoured to prevent our exercising what we regarded was not alone our right but our duty. I do not intend to develop that point but I want to show that as far as the Government are concerned they have one interest and one interest only, in this legislation and that is to get it through this House as quickly as possible.
In Committee, this legislation did not have the benefit of more than half a dozen contributions by Committee members representing the Government side. This can be shown as a sample of other legislation. Perhaps it reflects the attitude of this Government where they decide on something in a broad way; it is handed to the draftsmen, to civil servants, and a Minister comes here and his only anxiety is to get it through the House in any way possible and say: "I have done that". That is not our concern. We regard this as most important legislation and we feel that it should not leave this House until it has the benefit of every worthwhile comment which could be made by any Member of the House. Our deliberations this morning started at 11.45 and it is significant that apart from the Minister no other member of the Government parties was present until 1.50 p.m. Have they been told to keep quiet? Have they been told that this legislation should not receive any further notice? Have they been told that the comments of this House are irrelevant to this legislation? If they have, then we have not. As one who has some interest in this area and who has regard for the contributions which can be made by Members of this House from all sides, I think it is regrettable that this legislation will go to the people without any contribution from a member of the Government parties, save the Minister.
This is hardly relevant to the amendment.
It is very relevant to the amendment because this amendment derives from the concern of the Minister to follow in the safe footsteps of that which already exists in other areas and which is not appropriate to the business we have here before us. The Minister has said that it is customary that these reports appear in the fashion in which it is anticipated the report referred to here will appear. Our answer to that is that this is not good enough. We believe that reports have their advantages and that they are essential. Together with that, we believe that the value of a report is often diluted to the point of making the subject matter useless unless it appears at a relevant time. Accordingly, we ask in our amendment that the report referred to in page 8, lines 45 and 46 of the Bill should appear within one year from the termination of the year to which it refers. In other words, if the report is in respect of activities in connection with wildlife and conservation for 1976, the report should be available before the end of December, 1977. The compilers, editors and contributors to the report would have a year in which to prepare it. If the Minister tells us that this is neither possible nor desirable, we will not accept it.
What would the contents of this report be? If the report is of the kind which we envisage, it would contain material vital to the legislation. It would indicate possible weaknesses and inhibitions in the matter of the implementation of the spirit of this legislation. It would highlight the absence of appropriate provision for the scientific pinpointing of problems and the absence of surveys which I believe are necessary if the business of conservation and preservation is to be conducted in a proper fashion. On Committee Stage we would have been prepared to accept the recommendation of the Minister. In other matters we have taken his assurance but we must have regard to the fact that he will not always be the holder of the office. Nevertheless, we have accepted his assurances, but in so far as we detected from the Minister a complete lack of sympathy as to the importance of this matter we have tabled the amendment which appears in my name.
The Bill provides for a report and there the Minister is providing for the satisfaction of the demands which occurred in legislation of the same nature in the past, but we keep reminding the Minister of how different this legislation is from all other. This is very special legislation. One even might use the word "unique", except that one does not want to be accused of dramatising the importance at the moment of wildlife conservation, especially in these times when there are other urgent economic and social problems. On the other hand, one has to accept that in its own right this legislation is worthy of the full consideration of this House. Regarding reports, it must be accepted that they should have a merit, a quality and a character which would make them welcome and attractive. Reports should not become museum pieces, as has often happened in the past.