Wildlife Bill, 1975: Report Stage (Resumed).

Debate resumed on amendment No. 3b:
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."
—(Deputy Tunney.)

Ba maith liom fáilte mar Aire Tailte a chur riamh an Teachta Ó Donnagáin. Initially I should like to welcome Deputy Donegan in his new capacity as Minister for Lands. I hope he will find that role, which gives him jurisdiction over pastures and forests, woodland and waterland, fauna and flora, refreshing and satisfying and that he will be successful.

I do not intend covering the ground which has already been covered in respect of this amendment. On the other hand, I should like to say briefly and succinctly to the new Minister that this section refers to the production and presentation of the report envisaged in this Wildlife Bill. Section 7 refers to the report but envisages the report being presented to the House in harness with the report which, under the 1946 Act, requires the Minister for Lands to report on matters connected with land, land acquisition, land settlement and resettlement, migration, land bonds and a whole mass of detail on which he must report in his capacity as Minister for Lands. In that report to date we also have reference to forestry and wildlife. In respect of wildlife I suppose we could see an affinity and perhaps some justification for the reports appearing in the same harness but if we are to accept the importance of the legislation, if we are to accept as we should the need that the report, if it is to be any use at all, must be different from anything which has been produced to date, it must be a new look, an attractive, inspiring, live report.

It should also appear at a time when its content would be relevant. I do not propose covering the same ground again but it is not asking too much that the report should be made available within 12 months of the year to which it refers and this is what my amendment seeks. There are similar requirements in other legislation. I am thinking of a requirement in the Gaeltacht Industries Act which requires of Gaeltarra Éireann, an agency which covers a very wide area of industrial activity and is the umbrella for hundreds of companies, to produce a report within a year. I do not see the use, the relevance or the need for this report unless it will appear separately from the report on lands and unless it is made available within 12 months of the year to which it refers. I am hoping that the new Minister will view this—as he can and as he should—in a different light from that of his predecessor. I know that he is a man of independent thought and in this case I should welcome the application of his independence to the acceptance of my amendment.

I should like to thank the Deputy for his welcome to me here as Minister for Lands. I shall do everything within my power during my time as Minister to make matters as clear and as satisfactory as possible to the Members of this House.

Regarding the report referred to, my predecessor has indicated that the way he would follow is the way described in the Bill without amendment. I should like to have been able to come together at this point but I am not in a position to do so and we are not accepting the amendment.

Question put: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 62; Níl, 51.

  • Barry, Peter.
  • Barry, Richard.
  • Begley, Michael.
  • Belton, Luke.
  • Belton, Paddy.
  • Bermingham, Joseph.
  • Bruton, John.
  • Burke, Dick.
  • Burke, Joan T.
  • Burke, Liam.
  • Byrne, Hugh.
  • Clinton, Mark A.
  • Cluskey, Frank.
  • Conlan, John F.
  • Coogan, Fintan.
  • Cooney, Patrick M.
  • Corish, Brendan.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Costello, Declan.
  • Creed, Donal.
  • Crotty, Kieran.
  • Cruise-O'Brien, Conor.
  • Desmond, Eileen.
  • Dockrell, Henry P.
  • Dockrell, Maurice.
  • Donegan, Patrick S.
  • Dunne, Thomas.
  • Enright, Thomas.
  • Esmonde, John G.
  • Finn, Martin.
  • 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.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Kyne, Thomas A.
  • L'Estrange, Gerald.
  • Lynch, Gerard.
  • McDonald, Charles B.
  • McLaughlin, Joseph.
  • McMahon, Larry.
  • Malone, Patrick.
  • Murphy, Michael P.
  • O'Brien, Fergus.
  • O'Donnell, Tom.
  • O'Leary, Michael.
  • O'Sullivan, John L.
  • Pattison, Seamus.
  • Ryan, John J.
  • Ryan, Richie.
  • Staunton, Myles.
  • Taylor, Frank.
  • Timmins, Godfrey.
  • Tully, James.

Níl

  • Andrews, David.
  • Barrett, Sylvester.
  • Brady, Philip A.
  • Brennan, Joseph.
  • Breslin, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Brosnan, Seán.
  • Browne, Seán.
  • Brugha, Ruairí.
  • Callanan, John.
  • Calleary, Seán.
  • Colley, George.
  • Connolly, Gerard.
  • Crinion, Brendan.
  • Cronin, Jerry.
  • Daly, Brendan.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • de Valera, Vivion.
  • Dowling, Joe.
  • Fahey, Jackie.
  • Farrell, Joseph.
  • Faulkner, Pádraig.
  • O'Connor, Timothy.
  • O'Kennedy, Michael.
  • O'Malley, Desmond.
  • Power, Patrick.
  • Fitzgerald, Gene.
  • Fitzgerald, Tom (Dublin Central).
  • Flanagan, Seán.
  • Gallagher, Denis.
  • Gibbons, James.
  • Gogan, Richard P.
  • Haughey, Charles.
  • Healy, Augustine A.
  • Herbert, Michael.
  • Hussey, Thomas.
  • Kenneally, William.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Lalor, Patrick J.
  • Leonard, James.
  • Lynch, Celia.
  • Lynch, Jack.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • MacSharry, Ray.
  • Meaney, Tom.
  • Moore, Seán.
  • Murphy, Ciarán.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • Timmons, Eugene.
  • Tunney, Jim.
  • Walsh, Seán.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Kelly and Pattison; Níl, Deputies Lalor and Browne.
Question declared carried.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 8, to insert "by him" before "under this Act" in line 54.

This is a minor drafting amendment to remove any possible doubt that the orders referred to in section 8 (2) are orders made by the Minister for Lands under the Act and none other. There are references in sections 72, 73, 74 and 75 to court orders. Those orders cannot be amended or revoked by the Minister for Lands.

I take it that the point of the amendment is to differentiate between orders made by the court as against orders made by the Minister?

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 4a:

In page 9, after line 25, to insert the following:—

"(z) where it is proposed to vary conditions or revoke any licence under this section, the licensee, shall be so advised at least seven days before the commencement date of same".

When we were discussing section 9 on Committee Stage the Minister made it quite clear that he envisaged a situation where he would be applying the terms of that section in relation to varying the conditions or revoking any licence other than one issued under the new section 28. He was asked whether or not the licensee would be notified of such revocation or amendment. He indicated that he thought he or she would be.

I believe any licence is based on a certain confidence. Before granting a licence any Minister or any authority must be assured that confidence in the person to whom the licence will be granted will not be misplaced. I accept that in respect of all licences provision must be made for human frailty, that what would be bona fide justification for the issue of a licence today might change tomorrow and that the Minister or any other authority should be empowered to revoke or alter such a licence. I also think that it is incumbent on the Minister, before he varies or revokes the licence, formally to advise the licensee of his intention and that such a person gets an opportunity at least of appealing to the Minister and expressing his reaction to what the Minister proposes.

Section 9 gives the Minister power, first of all, to call in a licence and secondly, to revoke it. The only intimation that a person gets of such change is a notification that the deed has now been done. Perhaps this is not a very major consideration but the least any person to whom a licence has been granted is entitled to is that before it is recalled or altered in any appreciable way he or she is so advised. Accordingly, I have tabled this amendment and I hope the Minister will see fit to accept it.

I regret I cannot see my way to accepting this amendment. The question of varying the conditions of a licence is usually to meet changed circumstances brought to notice by the licensee. In those circumstances, prior notice by the Minister would not arise. The revocation of a licence would arise where there is a clear breach of the conditions by the licensee. To give seven day's notice of revocation would give the defaulting licensee a golden opportunity to compound his breach of the conditions. Therefore, I cannot see my way to accept the amendment.

I appreciate the Minister's newness to his position. I do not think he entirely believes what he has said and I do not think he has given his personal attention to it. I do not accept that by giving seven days' notice to the licencee of the Minister's intention to revoke or to vary the licence it would ipso facto give the licensee the opportunity or the motivation to compound the alleged defect. I rather think that by doing the licensee the courtesy of so notifying him he would accept this as his opportunity of proving to the Minister that first, perhaps the original basis for the revocation was not well based and secondly, if he were living in hope of it being restored it would be a basis for him to live and behave himself in such a fashion as to encourage the Minister to restore the rights he initially enjoyed.

It is an easy answer to say that by giving him seven days he is automatically being given an opportunity of worsening his position but it is not acceptable to me. I do not think that is what would happen. It may be taken as justification for rejecting the amendment but I do not think it is in accordance with what is best in respect of this legislation. What the Minister has told me is in conflict with what his predecessor told us in Committee. We were told that when a licence was called in it did not necessarily mean it would be varied or altered. If one takes the logic of the Minister's comment on the amendment it means that from the very moment the licensee receives intimation that his licence is being called in he will proceed to compound the alleged offence. That is quite illogical to me and it is not in accordance with what I hope would be the recognition we would give to any person holding any licence other than a licence granted under section 28 of this legislation.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 4b:

In page 9, line 33, to delete "a function" and substitute "the duty".

Section 11 is to me the very raison d'tre of what the previous and subsequent sections are all about. That is the kernel of the reference by the Minister's predecessor. It is the core of the work which has gone into the preparation of the updating of legislation last introduced in 1930 in respect of game preservation and wild bird protection. If the legislation is to succeed, it must appear to all concerned that the Minister has a serious intent. I would hope that, in respect of an area for which to date there was no statutory responsibility, it will now be known to all and sundry that henceforth the Minister for Lands is the man upon whom rests the duty and the responsibility for nature conservation.

Section 11 (1) provides that it shall be a function of the Minister to secure the conservation of wildlife. In reply the Minister will probably indicate that "function" is defined and provides for duty and responsibility. There is circumvention there, an ambiguity and an uncertainty which weakens the Minister's position. As I said, this is the kernel of the legislation. It should be stated here, not ambiguously, not in any fashion which would show the Minister was apologetic or over-sensitive about the duties and responsibilities which devolve upon him in this area but in a crystal clear fashion, that this legislation imposes on the Minister the duty of conserving wildlife, flora and fauna. By stating it with such clarity, we would remove the attitude which, unfortunately, is present to some extent in this House and elsewhere that nature and wildlife conservation is secondary and relatively unimportant.

On Committee Stage I was surprised to hear the Minister's predecessor refer to his sensitivity for other people, his regard for what he called bread and butter factors, his regard for not trespassing in any way into the area of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Department of Local Government, or the Commissioner of Public Works. It seemed he intended to conserve wildlife on a delicate tightrope and that his concern would be not to annoy or antagonise other people, rather than carrying out the duties which this legislation imposes on him.

What we are discussing here will have an increasing relevance and importance in the future. When the young generation of today are as old as we are, they will be very critical of us who, in our desire to satisfy what might be regarded as more material matters, had such little regard for wildlife conservation. I know there are hard economic factors which cannot be overlooked. I know that, in the application of moneys today, a case can be made for providing jobs rather than being concerned about the preservation of any particular wild bird, any habitat, or any nature reserve or on the expenditure of money on something which might seem unnecessary and superfluous to some people. A statement was made recently by the American ambassador to Ireland about how people in other so-called advanced countries have realised at this late stage the damage —in some cases the damage which cannot be remedied—which has been done to nature, wildlife, flora and fauna. We should be thankful we have not reached a stage where the position cannot be rectified.

We make no apology for this legislation. I do not think its importance will be challenged by anybody. I hope we will not look on matters of conservation as being appropriate only to elderly tweedy ladies and gentlemen, but as being vital to all our people. I hope it will be clear to the personnel of other Departments that in respect of the duties which devolve upon the Minister under this legislation he does not feel obliged to cloak them in any way. In that regard the substitution of the word "duty" for the word "function" in subsection (1) will serve that purpose. It is with some hope I submit this amendment to the Minister.

The position is that the Deputy's amendment is unnecessary. The word "functions" is defined in section 2 as including powers and duties. Section 11 (a) of the Interpretation Act, 1937, provides that every word importing the singular shall import the plural and vice versa unless the contrary intention appears. The Minister for Lands has already several functions in relation to the Land Commission in respect of forestry. What section 11 (1) of the Bill does is to make wildlife conservation just another function of the Minister.

Mr. Kitt

In regard to the function of the Minister, would there be consultation with the Minister for Education regarding promotion of the need for conservation of wildlife, for example, in schools?

If there appears to be any valid reason or opportunity for consultation with any other Minister of State, I am sure that would be available to anybody, myself or my successors. But that would hardly be a matter for inclusion in the Bill.

Is the amendment withdrawn?

No. As I feared, the Minister took refuge in the definition to which I referred. I was hoping he would not do that because I could see it as being the only thing he could do, at least technically. I am accepting then that what we are about here is not that which we believe we are doing at all; that this legislation is a form of veneer, outward demonstration of a concern, obviously held at a very shallow level.

I regret to say that I do not have any great familiarity with other legislation. Nevertheless I would be surprised if, in respect of other Departments or State-sponsored bodies set up, their duties had been specified in the manner indicated here. The Minister made some reference to what is accepted by legal men as the equation of the singular with the plural. That has not any great relevance except perhaps in circumstances in which we were discussing whether or not the word should be "functions" rather than "function". The amendment requests that the word "function" should not be there at all and that in its stead the word "duty" would appear. If the Minister thinks there is no difference between "function" and "duty" then I could believe him, but I know he does not think that. He knows as well as I do that to anybody reading or interpreting this Bill "function" carries much less weight than the word "duty". I was hoping that the amendment would serve to strengthen the Minister's hand.

Here I repeat something I said to his predecessor: that especially in respect of this Bill I do not consider the term "opposition" appropriate at all. I have heard in the past, and was always slow to accept, that the purpose of an Opposition was to oppose, full stop. I do not interpret that as being my function here. On the contrary, I would hope that we would complement what is there already and strengthen the Minister's hand in areas, especially in those relative to the preparation of this legislation where we know that certain bureaucratic and departmental sensitivities have been expressed and, apparently, linger on.

We could understand, and perhaps accept, that the Department of Lands would show concern and sensitivity and that in the application of what we know as civil service strategy in the course of preparation of this legislation, they agreed and promised that certain words would appear. But I have very little concern, nor should any Member of this House be unduly concerned about the quiet, friendly rivalries of different Departments. There is no obligation on us to continue to substantiate in any way promises made or understandings reached unless we are assured that it is in the interest of the preservation of wildlife. That is the only matter with which I am concerned.

In that regard my amendment would strengthen the Minister's hand, remove any ambiguity and any danger of misinterpretation that might exist. Certainly it would help to remove, because I have other amendments in this regard, any doubt about the preservation of wildlife. While we would welcome contributions from any Department, we will not, and should not, accept any undue interference or any impediments being placed in the way of what we are about. If the Minister thinks on that rather than on the presentation of the case, which understandably and traditionally devolves on him through his able civil servants, he will appreciate the basis of my amendment and might have second thoughts about it.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 4c:

In page 9, line 37, after "person" to insert "body, agency, organisation or institution".

We will probably get a repetition of the similarity of the equation in law as between the singular and the plural. Even if we do, it will not satisfy or justify the irrelevance or the absence of any need for the amendment which I have proposed. We are still dealing with section 11 and subsection (2) (a) gives the right, duty and function to the Minister of giving assistance or advice to any person on the matter affecting wildlife. That is much too confined. When we think of wildlife our thoughts must stray beyond that of any one person. It encompasses the country, and all persons. It refers to land, sea and sky and affects many organisations, institutions and agencies.

I had hoped that we could in this legislation involve all those organisations. I hope that the Minister will propose to give advice or assistance not just to any person or persons but to clubs, organisations and Departments if necessary. I do not see that subsection (2) (a) makes provision for the assistance and advice which I think is necessary and which is indispensable if this legislation is to succeed and, accordingly, I have extended the limit placed upon the Minister in the subsection and I suggest that the Minister's purpose will be better served and the success of the legislation will be better guaranteed if provision is made for his advising beyond that which is stated in subsection (2) (a).

This amendment is not necessary as under section 11 (c) of the Interpretation Act, 1937 the word "person" extends to corporate and unincorporated bodies and persons as well as to individuals, and already in practice, the Minister for Lands through his agents is giving assistance and advice to organisations such as the game councils, conservation bodies and so on as well as to individuals.

Does this include financial assistance?

Yes. Grants have been made for birds' eggs, game development and things like that.

Will this continue?

It is a matter of policy but, naturally, I would say it will continue and will possibly be extended.

Mr. Kitt

I wish to support this amendment in the name of Deputy Tunney. We will shortly be dealing with the various provisions and bodies set up under this legislation. If we are going to have a workable wildlife advisory council, we must give due recognition to the various voluntary bodies who are making such a contribution to the conservation of wildlife. The various game councils throughout the country and the gun clubs have already been referred to. If we are going to confine this section just to a person we will have legislation which is very vague and which will be in danger of being abused not, perhaps, by the present Minister but, perhaps, at a future date. There will be more teeth in this section if the words "body, agency, organisation or institution" are included. A certain amount of conservation is being done at the moment by the game councils, the gun clubs and by farmers particularly in the west of Ireland. I know places where farmers have got together to prevent certain areas particularly where lakes are involved from being overshot by foreign tourists. This legislation should be a help to that conservation. The big stick should not be used to prevent or discourage conservation that is taking place. When we were discussing the definition of "authorised person" we had a very worth-while amendment in the name of Deputy Tunney, which the Minister's predecessor did not accept and that amendment included some of the bodies I have mentioned. I would ask the Minister to have those bodies included at this stage in this section and to give due recognition to the good work being done in the conservation of wildlife.

I congratulate the Minister on his new appointment. In support of this amendment, the Minister should include all the organisations mentioned and particularly the owners of the lands. Wildlife cannot be preserved without the goodwill and co-operation of the people and if these organisations are not included the legislation cannot work. I ask the Minister to accept the wording of Deputy Tunney. The Minister should know that the owners of the land are doing very good work. There is a certain amount of conflict between land reclamation and preserving wildlife and a balance must be struck between them. I would ask the Minister to accept the amendment.

If that which is in subsection (2) (a) is already provided for in subsection (c) why do we have to have it at all? Surely subsection (2) (a) is different from subsection (2) (c)? It is obvious that subsection (2) (a) provides that the Minister can give assistance and advice. As I said earlier, the assistance and advice which he can give under subsection (2) (a) is limited to such assistance or advice being given to a person. The purpose of the amendment was to provide for an extension of this provision. The Minister's defence of maintaining the present position was based on his premise that under subsection (2) (c) there could be such extension. I do not think that is so because this paragraph of subsection (2) empowers the Minister to enter into an agreement with another person, to participate in a scheme, undertaking or project for the conservation of wildlife. For the purpose of such scheme, undertaking or project he is empowered to perform any one or more of the functions assigned to him under the Act. How can that be said to be identical with what is envisaged in subsection (2) (a)? I do not think the Minister was correct in his reply to the case I made. While there may be a connection between the two there is no similarity. However, if subsection (2) (a) were identical with subsection (2) (c), why have two different provisions in respect of the same power, the same duty or the same responsibility?

If the Minister thinks that subsection (2) (c) gives him the powers that I would like him to have under subsection (2) (a), I am happy but I do not think that is the case. Perhaps on reflection the Minister will realise that in this respect at least the case I am making is the correct one. I am taking it that it was subsection (2) (c) to which the Minister referred.

The Deputy is confused. The power lies in section 11 (c) of the Interpretation Act, 1937. This amendment is not necessary by reason of the terms of that section of the 1937 Act because the word "person" extends to corporate and unincorporate bodies of persons as well as to individuals. In reply to Deputy Kitt I said also that my predecessors have given assistance and advice to organisations as well as to individuals. Such organisations could be gun clubs, game clubs or organisations such as An Taisce that might be interested in conservation. The Deputy may be assured that the power he is seeking to have included resides with the Minister for Lands.

I took it that the Minister was referring to subsection (2) (c).

I am referring to section 11 (c) of the Interpretation Act, 1937.

If the Minister is happy with the situation, I shall leave it at that.

I am happy.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 4 (d):

In page 10, line 7, to delete "necessary" and substitute "desirable".

Again we must be concerned with the interpretation of words. In subsection (3) (a) we read that the Minister may either directly or in association with or through the agency of another person carry out or cause to be carried out research which he considers necessary for the performance of his functions. I have visions of the Minister being in conflict with some of those agencies, institutions or Departments to which I referred earlier. I could foresee the Minister before a court justifying his actions, his functions and his duties under this legislation. I should hope that in every case the Minister would act in accordance with the spirit of the legislation but I could see him having difficulty in proving that what he had done or what he contemplated was necessary rather than desirable. I am anxious that in framing this legislation as much freedom as possible is given to the Minister and that as many inhibitions or restrictions as possible be removed from him. Inevitably, though, the Minister must find himself more restricted with the word "necessary" than would be the case if the word "desirable" were used. In subsection (2) (b) the word "desirable" appears as being the appropriate word but I wonder why it is found necessary to use the word "necessary" in subsection (3) (a).

I do not think this is a major amendment but I would like the Minister to accept it as an indication of our concern that he have as much freedom as possible so that he can administer and justify this legislation. I do not know what importance the parliamentary draftsman or the Minister's advisers attach to the word "necessary". Perhaps the respective merits of both words were discussed but I do not think it was a question of balance on their part that they decided that having inserted "desirable" earlier on they would insert "necessary" here. I am convinced their attitude was more serious than that but I am at a loss to understand why they would place on the Minister the burden of proving that what he proposed to carry out was necessary rather than desirable.

My personal preference is for the word "necessary" but, in the light of Deputy Tunney's argument, I am prepared to accept his amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 10, to delete lines 12 to 15.

The necessity for subsection (4) was raised in the Special Committee and an undertaking was given to look into the matter before Report Stage. Following consultation with the Department of Finance it has been agreed the subsection is unnecessary.

We graciously accept this move by the Minister to meet a point of view we put forward in Special Committee. Subsection (4) in the section as originally drafted gave grounds for believing that it was not considered carefully enough. The Minister for Lands in the exercise of his functions under this Bill would have had to procure the consent of the Minister for Finance. Where finance is concerned there necessarily would have to be the consent of the Minister for Finance. That is more or less a standard provision in all legislation but we could not agree that in the carrying out of his normal functions, functions which would have no financial implications as often as not, the Minister for Lands should seek the consent of the Minister for Finance and we suggested the deletion of this subsection. We gratefully acknowledge the fact that the Minister has seen our point of view and is now proposing its deletion and we gladly agree to the amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 5a:

In page 10, to delete lines 16 to 19.

This amendment is again based on the concern in all the amendments I have submitted so far. I do not want to repeat but the opportunity must not pass without reminding the House of the vital importance of conservation and preservation. Opposition in this country is traditional and Joseph Tomelty in some play or other talks about the Irish people being the most conservative in the world. He was not too far from the truth. Constituents make requests to me about, perhaps, the reconstruction of a roadway. I attend to those requests and when I ultimately tell them that the corporation propose to reconstruct the roadway they seem to be quite happy. However, from the moment the reconstruction starts I get various expressions of sentimentality and concern because of the removal of something that was familiar. There is a certain attachment to the familiar and there is a kind of reluctance to be parted from it even though it can be clearly shown that the new situation will be infinitely preferable.

Section 11 is the section giving muscle to the Minister in the implementation of this Bill. Subsection (5) of section 11 provides:

Nothing in this section shall restrict, prejudice or affect the performance by the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries of any function which could have been performed by him immediately before the commencement of this section.

Though the Minister for Lands could demonstrate that what he proposed to do was in accordance with the spirit and the letter of this Bill, indispensable to conservation and preservation, if that impinged in any way on any function hitherto performed by the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, then the latter could veto what the Minister for Lands proposed, even though the proposition could be deemed absolutely necessary for conservation or preservation. For the life of me I cannot understand why such a restriction should be imposed in this Bill. Again I am afraid it refers to the in-fighting, the friendly rivalry that exists between Departments. What we are seeing here is a product of, I do not want to say horse trading but of the bartering and bargaining which took place before this legislation was introduced. Where hitherto the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, has been giving grants to a farmer for the provision of piggeries and where it can be shown that the slurry which emanates from that piggery is doing untold harm to wildlife in the area, how could any Minister with responsibilities for the preservation of wildlife agree that the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries must be allowed to continue to do that? Surely what the Minister for Lands should be saying here is that, where it can be shown that a person, institution or Department are doing anything which is in conflict with the terms of this legislation, they must be stopped. The damage which is being done must be indicated to them. Where it is possible to negotiate, to get agreement from consultation, that should be done, but if the Minister for Lands has a case and can show that the continuance of any exercise by anybody is prejudical to this legislation, then that operation, whatever it is, must stop.

Somebody else can argue the merits of the piggery and the dependence of the farmer on it. If that were put to me at another time, I could so argue. However, as far as the Minister for Lands is concerned, with this responsibility on his shoulders, he should not hand over this power of veto to any other Minister. In the years that lie ahead of us and in the changes which are envisaged in respect of the intensification of agricultural activity, one can see many areas where not just native farmers but farmers from outside, whose sole concern will be the mighty dollar or the sick pound, will have very little regard for conservation.

Are we, too, in those circumstances to accept that because, as the Minister's predecessor would have said, these are matters of bread and butter, we cannot touch them. I do not think so. I appreciate that what I am saying now might be misinterpreted by people who would say Deputy Tunney is more concerned about the preservation of the partridge and the woodcock or more concerned that we should have bullfinch and pheasant and nature reserves, than that we should have a thriving bacon industry. Anybody who is mean enough to misinterpret what I am saying in that way is welcome to it. I can argue equally well as to the value and importance of conservation which, as I said earlier on, will be growing in a way which will demonstrate to all that what we have been engaging in here in Committee is not something which is superfluous or superficial but which is as relevant and important to the lives of the people as the bacon industry or any other industry.

If one is to stay with the matter of industry, I can develop my side of the argument to show that perhaps ultimately, and maybe not so ultimately either, that in respect of economic matters conservation and preservation could—in relation to tourism, for example be as good a moneyspinner as the bacon or any other industry. I am only saying that by the way. What I am really concerned about is that the Minister for Lands should have agreed to this state of affairs. Maybe it was done under duress; I do not know. However, I know that in other areas there is a recognition of the importance of our having due regard for the position of the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, the OPW and the other agencies which are vitally connected with the lives of the people. Nevertheless there is no need whatsoever for the assurance we are giving in this section to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries.

I am not too sure that the farmers would wish the Minister to have this assurance. Maybe we are treating too lightly the proven interest which farmers have in wildlife. I am quite sure that if approached in the correct fashion, as will be necessary, the farmers will be as appreciative and as responsive to requests which will be made to them in the interest of wildlife as anybody else and that this subsection here does not represent the true wishes of the farming community. Apart from that, I think it puts upon the Minister for Lands restrictions which he could not tolerate and it reduces the whole of this legislation to little more than a pious aspiration.

Deputy Tunney has put the case for the acceptance of this amendment very well. This matter was discussed at length at the Special Committee and the Minister seemed satisfied with our arguments. I should like to know if the former Minister for Lands had any discussions with the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries on this matter. It seems that such discussions took place and that the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries won out. As a result we are back to where we started. In my view the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries can now run counter to the Minister for Lands because of this subsection and can do things which are completely at variance with the policies of the Minister for Lands. During the discussion on this section at the Special Committee I mentioned that boards of fishery conservators pay a bounty for the destruction of otters and that these boards are controlled by the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries. However, while such boards offer bounties for the destruction of otters the Minister for Lands, in this Bill, seeks to preserve otters. That is an example of how the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries would be running counter to the policies of the Minister for Lands. I appeal to the new Minister for Lands to accept Deputy Tunney's amendment.

I should like to support my colleagues in urging the acceptance of this amendment by the Minister. Our seeking the deletion of subsection (5) of section 11 can be related to the other amendment which we have to subsections (5) (b), (c) and (d). In general, as Deputy Tunney has stated, our approach to this Bill is to try to make it an effective piece of legislation. Throughout the debate we are seeking to strengthen the hand of the Minister for Lands as our conservation Minister. We do not want this legislation to become a piece of useless paper. We do not want the Minister for Lands to have to pay lip service to the ideals of conservation. We want this to become practical, workable legislation with the Minister for Lands capable of exercising real power and capable of acting positively, definitely and constructively under the provisions of the legislation. The Minister has already agreed to delete subsection (4), a provision which would have been a ridiculous constraint to place on the Minister for Lands in his attempt to implement these provisions but the existence of subsections (4) and (5) in the original Bill does give great credence to the proposal of Deputy Tunney and Deputy Daly that there was departmental in-fighting in the production of this legislation. In effect, these two very powerful Departments, the Departments of Agriculture and Fisheries and Finance, said "You can have your wildlife legislation but, as far as we are concerned, we are going to carry on exactly as we always did."

The fact that these two subsections are there indicates that there is a great deal of truth in our allegation. Subsection (4) has gone but we want to get rid of subsection (5) also because it is too naked in its provisions. It takes the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries totally out of the ambit of the legislation and puts him aside. It creates a situation where the Minister for Lands with all the goodwill and good intentions in the world could be striving to conserve wildlife and could pursue the policies envisaged in this legislation while the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries would have no regard for his efforts and would, in fact, be of no assistance to him. The Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries in many instances would act prejudicially to what the Minister for Lands would be seeking to achieve.

At this stage I should like to join with my colleagues in welcoming Deputy Donegan to this new ministry. We all know that his predecessor, Deputy Fitzpatrick, was very keen on this legislation and I am certain that the present Minister as an individual with his association with rural life will be equally keen. I should like to direct the Minister's attention to the wording of subsection (5) which is:

Nothing in this section shall restrict, prejudice or affect the performance by the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries of any function which could have been performed by him immediately before the commencement of this section.

One might go along with the first word, "restrict". In other words, in pursuance of his onerous and heavy responsibilities to our farmers the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries could not be restricted in his powers but it is going too far to include the words "prejudice or affect". One must recognise that it would completely nullify some of the desirable provisions of this legislation if certain things the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries has been doing up to now would not be affected in any way. We do not want to take the powers away from the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries; we do not want to deprive him of powers and functions he already has but it is going ridiculously far to say that the performance of those functions shall not be affected in any way by this legislation. That is equivalent to saying that as far as the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and his Department are concerned this legislation will not exist. None of us intend that to be the case. We want the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries to pursue his duty and carry out his functions in the best interests of the farming community but at the same time we all want him, in doing his job, to have regard to the requirements of conservation and to have regard to the provisions of this legislation.

The Minister for Lands will not be able to argue that it is necessary to keep subsection (5). All the powers, duties and obligations which the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries has at present will remain; they will not be interfered with by the deletion of subsection (5). Deleting subsection (5) will mean that he must take cognisance of the purposes and objectives of this legislation in the way in which he carries out his duties and functions.

One particular aspect of this matter which I want to draw to the attention of the Minister and the House is that the subsection refers to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries. One would be inclined to accept that on its face value and think it is simply a matter of the Ministers for Lands and Agriculture and Fisheries having a discussion about some particular aspects of policy and deciding which of them should take precedence or whose views should prevail—whether the basic needs of farmers and agriculture should prevail over the needs of conservation and wildlife.

I would be prepared to accept the situation of two Government colleagues coming to a reasonable compromise. When this subsection refers to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries it means every officer of his Department—every inspector, every official in the field and in the confines of the Department. It would mean, in effect, that every member of the staff of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and the county committees of agriculture and so on could completely ignore the provisions of this legislation in going about their daily business. There is no doubt that the effect of the subsection would be that any inspector or field officer of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries would be entitled to pursue his activities without reference to this legislation. He would be entitled to say: "That does not apply to me. I can discharge my duties as I have always discharged them, as the terms of section 11 (5) remove me from the effects of this legislation".

It is important that we should not think exclusively in terms of one Minister in relation to another. We should realise that this extends to the extremities of the activities of both Departments. It is not difficult to conjure up a whole area where the activities of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, if they were to be carried out without regard to the provisions of this legislation, could be inimical to conservation and wildlife. Deputy Tunney referred to piggeries and the effluent from them. There are countless other instances where it would be likely that a zealous field officer of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries would feel obliged to pursue his particular objectives in a one-track way without regard to any legislation. There is everything to be said for deleting subsection (5) and bringing about a situation where the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries would not be deprived of any power or would not be restricted in the carrying out of his policy and objectives but would have to have regard to the existence of this legislation and not be placed totally outside it, as he will be if subsection (5) remains unaltered.

This was debated at length in Special Committee and an undertaking was given to have all the points raised examined. This has been done and I am satisfied that this provision is necessary and will not inhibit in any material way the functions of the Minister for Lands under this section. In as much as the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries also has research and other functions in relation to wild animals in respect of disease, it would be untenable to interfere with these functions.

The restrictions in this subsection apply only to the provisions of section 11 and not to the measure as a whole. I am surprised that Deputy Haughey, who held the office of Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, should not realise that a Minister is not what he would wish to be. When he accepts the portfolio, he accepts the good and the bad. Whether the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries likes it or not, he has the responsibility of signing international veterinary certificates. As well as that he must try to stop the spread of disease. These matters mean that there is a criss-crossing of the duties of two Ministers. If we lived in Heaven, it would be possible not to have such criss-crossing, but as we live in a valley of tears it is, unfortunately, a fact of life that such criss-crossing in practical terms will occur. Therefore, the way out of the situation is that the content of subsection (5) applies only in respect of section 11. If Opposition Members look at section 12, they will see that there is a way to ensure that there is no dereliction of the rights of wildlife or the desire to propagate wildlife.

Mr. Kitt

I congratulate the Minister on his appointment.

Thank you.

Mr. Kitt

I cannot accept the Minister's explanation in regard to deleting subsection (5). The Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries has authority over the Minister for Lands and can say: "You must do this", or "You cannot do that". The question of consultation does not enter the case. Deputy Daly referred to the bounty paid on otters. This is a situation in which conflict could occur. The Minister has given us an example in respect of disease. If that is the case, why not confine the subsection to disease eradication? This subsection relates to any function undertaken by the Minister for Lands. All these functions would be affected. Nothing that would affect the performance of the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries would be affected by this subsection.

The Minister should accept that both the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and the Minister for Lands should be equal partners in their policy-making as regards their different Departments, two very important Departments might I add. There is no point in talking about goodwill because we are talking here about statutory provisions. We can have consultation between Ministers, although with the Minister for Lands in Castlebar and his partner, the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, elsewhere, it might be difficult to have consultation. Remember that a great delay in taking steps to remedy any dangers to the environment or to wildlife could be detrimental to the conservation of wildlife.

I would like to ask one other question. One wonders why the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries is the only Minister mentioned in the section. Surely one could mention half a dozen other Ministers whose Departments and functions may be affected, other Ministers who would have authority over the Minister for Lands in his duties. The Minister for Lands should be an equal partner in this policy-making and decision-making, and I am asking the Minister to have this subsection deleted.

I am disappointed that it has not been possible for the Minister to accept this amendment. I take from the Minister that, since Committee Stage and resulting from what was indicated there, representations were made to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and his Department in the hope, presumably, that their acceptance of the inhibiting nature of this subsection would have been obtained. For reasons best known to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries they continue apparently to insist that, as far as the land of Ireland is concerned, they have an interest which is superior to all else. Perhaps it is that or, indeed, some other reason, that explains their obstinacy. If that is the case, the Department of Lands should indicate the position as being such and indicate to the House that they are not entirely happy with the position they find themselves in vis-á-vis this legislation and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

I venture to suggest to the Minister, as I did earlier, that this is the important section of the whole legislation. Section 11 (1) says:

It shall be a function of the Minister to secure the conservation of wildlife.

That is his function which we have learned since the debate began. It is also his duty and his responsibility to secure the conservation of wildlife. There are subsequent subsections which refine that and indicate the manner in which he is obliged and committed to carry out that duty.

As has been said by Deputy Haughey and other Deputies, subsection (5) nullifies the whole lot because we are told in section 11 (5) that nothing in the section restricts the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and so on. We do not have to consult any legislation dealing with interpretation or definitions to know what the word "nothing" means. I think there is acceptance from all as to the meaning of the word "nothing". So, in short what the Minister for Lands is telling us is that even though he can do nothing which will affect, restrict or prejudice the performance of duties by the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, he is happy nonetheless that he can perform the duties and functions which rest on him under this legislation. Personally, I do not and cannot believe it and nobody else believes it. I am sure the Minister himself does not believe it because the contradiction there is quite obvious. If the Minister is obliged to pursue his responsibility as required of him under section 11 with one eye over either shoulder looking for and worrying about the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, then he is not going to be in a position to discharge his duties under this legislation.

The Minister talked about correspondence crossing between Departments and the interest but I venture to suggest that the interest of the two Departments must represent the interest of the people of Ireland. The land of Ireland belongs to and is held in trust by the farmers of Ireland for the people of Ireland. I know that the Department of Lands and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries have responsibilities and that they are engaged and act in a fashion beneficial to the farming community and to the people generally. However, as I said earlier, I do not think that the Minister has demonstrated that the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries will be acting in the best interests, in the long term certainly, of the people of Ireland by preventing the Minister for Lands from carrying out his duties in respect of securing the conservation of wildlife. In so far as the Minister has indicated the position, I feel that the case I am making is fairly hopeless as the Minister has not now the opportunity of replying any further. However, I want it on record that what we are agreeing to here is, by its very nature, putting a serious brake on what it is hoped to do under this legislation. Anybody looking at it must see it in the same light.

I appreciate, too, that there can be no departure from what is here. I am mindful that it is 46 years since we last had legislation dealing with the conservation of wildlife and it may be that 46 years will pass before we deal with it again. Meanwhile, we are at the mercy of civil servants. In saying that I do not want to castigate our civil servants in any way.

The Minister is responsible, not civil servants.

While the responsibility rests with the Minister, we know that his civil servants, his able, industrious, efficient, conscientious civil servants are renowned for what is written in statute. That is the nature of their calling. I am not blaming them for the damage that will flow from this but rather ourselves, we who are making this legislation. When this legislation leaves here it will be interpreted by the civil servants in the way that is indicated here.

What we are saying to the Minister and his officials is that in any area, on any occasion, when what they propose in the interests of securing the conservation of wildlife can be shown to affect, or to be prejudicial in any way to functions hitherto performed by the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, they may not proceed. Could there be anything as prohibitive or as restrictive on any Minister hoping to carry out his functions under any legislation? I do not think that on the Statute Book of this or any other country any Minister has accepted an impediment or inhibition of that nature. For my part it reduces any contribution I may make to this legislation to a very insignificant level.

As I said before, perhaps the interest which the Government are showing in this legislation is reflected in the fact that since this Minister took up his new position he has not had the companionship or the voice of even one member of the two Government parties. Perhaps there is an eagerness to shove through this House legislation which will be known as the Wildlife Act and they can claim at the next election: "It was I who introduced and carried through the Wildlife Act". For any ephemeral honour that might go to any Minister for such a boast, I say he is welcome to it. Time will show that this legislation is not what was hoped for or promised in consultations between the Minister's Department and representatives of different organisations, clubs and associations, especially voluntary organisations, who have a sincere and genuine interest in the conservation of wildlife. This is perfect evidence of that.

I do not want to pursue this any further except to say to anybody interested in the preservation of wildlife, and I know there are thousands of people who have a genuine interest, that I do not want to supplant Old Moore, but I will be prophetic and say that this House will rue the day we did not remove subsection (5) from section 11.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment No. 56 in the name of Deputy Tunney.

I suggest that we take amendments Nos. 5b, 5c, 5d and 5e together because they relate to the transformation of section 12, and seek to strengthen that section.

I move amendment No. 5b:

In page 10, line 42, to delete "is" and substitute "may".

Section 12 is a very important section and is related to the area we have been discussing in our attempt to delete subsection (5) from section 11. This section seeks to set out the lines of demarcation between the Minister for Lands, exercising his functions and authority under this legislation, and the various other Ministers and institutions of State. To that extent this is a very crucial section and one which has a very important bearing on the very basis of the operation of this legislation.

It is not difficult to envisage the provision of section 12 becoming of critical importance to the Minister for Lands in the exercise of his functions. Various suggestions are made from time to time by people interested in the area of the conservation of wildlife and associated areas, that there should be a Minister for Conservation. One Minister should be charged solely with the responsibility for the preservation and protection of our environment.

This legislation impinges on that area. It does not set out to make the Minister for Lands our Minister for the Environment, but it sets out to give him very important functions in the area of the preservation and protection of our natural environment. Therefore, it is very important that this legislation sets out as clearly as possible where the demarcation of authority will be and what say the Minister for Lands will have in the exercise of his powers under this Bill over the actions and policies of his colleagues and other State and semi-State bodies and agencies.

We are dissatisfied with section 12 as it stands. We do not think it gives the Minister for Lands sufficient standing to enable him to discharge his functions satisfactorily. Unfortunately, the section does not go far enough and in amendments Nos. 5b to 5e we seek to strengthen the section and to ensure that the Minister for Lands will have some degree of authority over his colleagues and the general machinery of the State in the interests of wildlife conservation.

The first of these amendments proposes to delete "is" and substitute "may". It should be quite clear why we have put down this amendment. Section 12 at the moment, in subsection (2) (a), stipulates that "before determining any matter or doing anything which is, in his or their opinion, or is represented by the Minister to the other Minister of State, or the authority or body to be likely or liable to affect, or to interfere with, the suitability for a nature reserve or refuge", and so on, a Minister for State other than the Minister, and every authority or body to which the section applies, shall consult the Minister as regards the avoidance or minimising of such effect or interference. The amendment would broaden the scope of the provision because as it is the subsection would be very restricted. It should be beyond doubt a matter in which wildlife conservation would be involved. We want to ensure that where any of these people or bodies are of the opinion that what is about to be done might impinge on the conservation of wildlife, the provision of the subsection will come into effect.

If paragraph (a) is studied it will be seen why this amendment is necessary. At the moment the subsection confines its operation to cases in which the Minister or State agency or body might interfere with the suitability for a nature reserve or refuge of land to which an establishment order, a recognition order or a designation order should apply, and so on. That is restrictive. It means that before the provisions of the section can come into operation, what the other body or person or Minister is about to do must impinge on all of these things. We want to broaden that and to make it the position that where what the Minister or authority or body are about to do would affect or impinge on wildlife conservation generally, this provision shall apply and not just in regard to particular restricted areas. That is a reasonable expansion. Section 12 at the moment is limited to the point where it would be ineffective if its provisions are to apply to the particular things.

In Chapter II, section 15, the Bill sets out to have a number of new situations. It deals with the establishment of nature reserves and the management of lands owned by the Minister or by the State. Section 16 deals with the establishment of nature reserves on private lands. It deals with the direction of the Minister for Lands that certain private lands should be refuges for fauna; and section 17 deals with agreements about the manner in which certain lands are to be used. That is a fairly confined segment of the activities of the Minister and of his performance in regard to this legislation, confining itself to State lands, private lands to be regarded as reserves and private lands which will become the refuges of fauna, as well as lands in relation to which agreement is reached between the Minister and the owners. In effect, we want to say that where any Minister or other body is about to do something which in their opinion may impinge on wildlife in general, and not on these particular lands, the provisions of section 12 will have effect.

In amendment No. 5d we seek to amend paragraph (b) of subsection (2). As it stands at the moment the paragraph stipulates:

take all practicable steps to avoid or minimise such effect or interference.

That leaves the situation very wide. Who is to decide what the practicable steps are to be—the Minister, the commissioners or the statutory body? Is the decision to be left to them or any one of them? As the section stands it is. Any of these bodies or any Minister could, first of all, unilaterally decide whether the actions would impinge and also decide what practicable steps should be taken. Our amendment seeks to delete "all practicable steps" and substitute "such steps as may be indicated by the Minister to be necessary". Our aim is to strengthen the section by inserting in it the provision that the steps that are to be taken to avoid the ill-effects of any action by these bodies would be decided by the Minister for Lands and that it would not be left at large to be decided by the person himself or somebody else.

Amendment No. 5e sets out to change the whole impact of subsection (3), which removes from the operation of subsection (2) various things, first of all anything done in an emergency. That is all right, but the subsection also removes the functions of the Minister for Local Government or a planning authority under sections 3 and 4 of the 1963 Planning and Development Act, or Part V of that Act other than sections 47 to 49. It removes the Minister for Local Government as planning Minister and it removes planning authorities from the provisions of subsection (2). They can proceed to do what they like without any reference to what effect their action will have on the conservation of wildlife or on the nature reserves and refuges established by the Minister, if this section is to remain in its present form.

As it stands, subsection (3) would exempt from the operation of subsection (2) the functions of the Commissioners of Public Works under the Arterial Drainage Acts, 1945 and 1955. That is a ridiculous situation. Section 12 would be largely inoperative if the Commissioners of Public Works could proceed with their arterial drainage schemes without any regard to the impact of those schemes on the nature reserves which this Bill goes to great trouble to enable the Minister to establish.

The effect of amendment 5e would be to restrict the operation of subsection (3) to cases of emergency. Subsection (3) would then read:

Subsection (2) of this section shall not apply in relation to any determination made or anything done in an emergency.

In other words, the provisions of subsection (2) would be operative except where there is an emergency. All these other people would have to have regard to the provisions of subsection (2) if they were doing anything that, in their opinion or in the opinion of the Minister for Lands, might affect nature reserves and refuges as the Bill states at present, and also the conservation of wildlife in general as we would like it.

I hope I have not taken too long over that. I considered it necessary to explain that the four amendments must be taken together. Their overall purpose is to make section 12 worth while and meaningful and to ensure that in future where a local authority, the Commissioners of Public Works, a State body or any other Minister is about to do something which in their opinion might impinge detrimentally on the conservation of wildlife or on the nature reserves or refuges established by the Minister they shall have to have regard to this legislation in what they are doing and shall have to take whatever steps the Minister for Lands considers necessary to minimise the effect of their actions. The only exception would be where any of the bodies do something in an emergency situation. In that case we are exempting them from the necessity to consult with the Minister for Lands and to take whatever measures he lays down.

Taken together, these four amendments considerably improve section 12 and make it worth while. As it is the crucial section to the whole administration of this legislation, I urge the Minister to accept them. I do not think that he can on reasonable grounds object to our strengthening section 12 in this way so far as he is concerned.

I cannot see any benefit in accepting amendment 5b and I regret I am not prepared to accept it. I do not think it has been as seriously put forward by the Opposition as they might now suggest. If the word "may" were inserted the subsection would not read properly. In fact, it would have required at least another three changes of pronouns to have some meaning in the section. However, that is a small matter because if it were thought desirable we could have made those changes by amendment——

I challenge what the Minister has said.

There is also the point that the Opposition are not constrained to do everything extremely properly——

Perhaps the Minister would elaborate on the other changes that would be necessary.

Let us take subsection (2) (a):

Before determining any matter or doing anything which is,—

the Opposition want to substitute the word "may"—

—in his or their opinion,

surely it would be necessary to say "be represented" instead of "or is represented"?

No. We studied that very carefully. The phrasing is not all that elegant in the subsection as set out.

With respect and in friendship, I think it is a lot more elegant than the Opposition proposal. With regard to amendment No. 5c, this section is related specifically to special areas of particular wildlife value which have been established as nature reserves and refuges. It would be unreasonable and impracticable to extend the restrictions of the section any further. In the circumstances, I am not prepared to accept amendment No. 5c.

I regret I am not prepared to accept amendment No. 5d. In the interest of maintaining a proper balance in this legislation, I am satisfied the existing wording should be retained. I am satisfied that the consultative arrangements provided will afford adequate safeguard for the interests of wildlife.

The effect of amendment No. 5e would be to delete subsection (3) (b) and (c). I am not prepared to agree to this because in deleting paragraph (b) theoretically every planning application in a planning authority area that contains nature reserves or refuges would have to be vetted by the Minister for Lands and this would be totally unreasonable. I am satisfied that the Minister for Local Government and the planning authorities are fully conscious of their responsibilities with regard to the natural environment in determining planning applications.

The subject matter of (3) (c) is adequately covered in section 41 which obliges the Office of Public Works to consult the Minister in relation to land drainage which might affect special wildlife areas.

I am not sure I have the same faith in planning authorities as has the Minister. A planning authority are obliged at quinquennial periods to prepare draft plans and that is the basis for their assessment of any application that comes before them. I do not think they are at liberty or that they feel compelled to have regard to the conservation of wildlife or nature reserves unless that is indicated in their plan. So far as local authorities are concerned, they take pride in the fact that they will not depart from what was accepted in the draft development plan. I do not know how the Minister can assume in respect of provisions not made in the plan that he can count on their co-operation with regard to this legislation.

With regard to amendment No. 5b the Minister is on extraordinarily delicate ground when he bases his rejection of the amendment on what might be regarded as grammatical grounds. He indicated that the alteration envisaged by the substitution of "may" for "is" would require three other alterations. When queried he gave one example of where he thought the changing of the initial "is" would weaken subsequent phrases. I note he did not proceed beyond the one example which I think he realises was not a very forceful one and was not a very soundly based one. If that is the only basis on which he is rejecting it he might have second thoughts about it. I am not conceding the point made by the Minister but whether we should be over concerned about the precision of the paragraph is a matter about which I have no doubt. Everything in legislation should be as perfect and as precise as possible. Before agreeing to submit this amendment I had the normal layman's regard for how the substitution of the word "may" might affect or influence the remainder of paragraph (a) of subsection (2). I convinced myself that nothing would derive from the initial alteration which would affect in any way what already appeared in relation to the English language.

I assume the grounds on which the Minister based his rejection of the amendment are as delicate as the grounds on which he based his concern for the English language. Perhaps if he were pushed a little further on amendment 5b he might yield on it. I see the Minister shakes his head in disagreement.

I am not getting away from the English language but if the Deputy wants to be extremely precise and without any question of there being an opinion on the subsection——

The Minister thinks that that precision would be prejudiced by the introduction of the word "may".

In all friendship I think so.

The Minister disarms me straight away when he says friendship but he does not dissuade me from the respect I have for the English language.

No less than my own.

I do not think the Minister made a case in that regard. One might be inclined to stay with it if he advanced some other argument. The case he made in that respect is a fairly flimsy one, to say the least of it. In relation to amendment 5d you can get a presentation of balance invariably from the person who is benefiting from it. I do not think we can assume the proper balance to which the Minister refers and that it will come as readily as he indicates.

As Deputy Haughey said, and I repeat, all these amendments have been submitted with a view to our strengthening the hand of the Minister and giving to this legislation the teeth which we believe it has not got and without which it will be rather ineffective. If the Minister will not budge beyond his over-regard for the English language, his faith in planning authorities which I do not share and his acceptance of the proper balance, to which he referred, I suppose I would only be wasting whatever sweetness I have by staying any further on these amendments.

I will not get involved in the difference between "may" and "is", as this has already been covered. The original explanation which was issued regarding section 12 states that it is intended to ensure that other Departments of State and certain other public bodies would consult the Minister before taking decisions on projects or undertake activities which might affect adversely the wildlife values in nature reserves. This is very desirable. The Minister comes along and exempts the commissioners under the Arterial Drainage Acts. The Minister's reply seems to say that this is covered under section 41. I do not think so. This section is very limited and confined. What we are trying to do here is most desirable.

Why should the commissioners be exempted? Arterial drainage has done damage, especially in fisheries, up to now. If consultations had taken place beforehand, this could have been avoided. It would have avoided the cost which the commissioners have had to bear of restoring spawning beds which need never have been removed. Spawning beds which were removed during drainage had to be replaced at enormous cost when the drainage had been completed.

The Minister will strengthen this section if he does what we are asking him to do. I appeal to him to reconsider the amendment we have submitted about the functions of the commissioners under the Arterial Drainage Acts. It is most desirable that this amendment be included. I do not think the argument the Minister gave—that section 41 strengthens his hand—is good enough. I ask the Minister to reconsider this amendment before we move on.

Mr. Kitt

I would like to support the argument made by Deputy Tunney and Deputy Daly in regard to the amendments we are discussing together. I cannot understand why the Minister will not accept the word "may" in amendment 5b. We are talking about Ministers other than the Minister for Lands. I believe if the word "may" was included here we would have better legislation because it would be open to these Ministers to be advised and receive more consultations concerning their functions.

Amendment No. 5c proposes to insert "the conservation of wildlife" after the word "with". After all, this is what the Bill is about, the conservation of wildlife. It relates to the conservation of wildlife on land and in the sea. It is hard to understand why the Minister cannot include this provision in this section.

Subsection (2) (a) deals with various reserves and refuges. It is important to realise that shortly we will be discussing under sections 15, 16, 17 and 18 the establishment of nature reserves on State lands as outlined in section 15 and on private lands as outlined in section 17. Sections 17 and 18 deal with the measures to safeguard wildlife habitats and to make agreements with landowners for the management of the land in the interests of conservation. For that reason section 12 is very important. It is important to have teeth in this section because it bears on the other sections with which we will be dealing. Subsection (2) (b) provides that a Minister of State other than the Minister and every authority or body to which this section applies shall take all practical steps to avoid or minimise such effect or interference. The Minister for Lands will be directing the steps to be taken. He will have the authority and the power to exercise his functions with regard to wildlife.

I support what Deputy Daly said about the exclusion of the functions of the Minister for Local Government and also the functions of the Commissioners of Public Works. We had a long discussion about drainage at the Special Committee. We had further discussions on section 43 as it then was. I made the point, which was supported by Deputies from rural areas on the Special Committee, that there was a need to tackle the drainage problem in rural areas, and particularly in the west. We were given to understand that the hold up in these drainage schemes was due to lack of finance. We were informed that the hold up in a number of those schemes, particularly in Dunkellin drainage scheme, the river which flows through a great part of County Galway, was that the wildlife sanctuary was situated at Rahasane near Craughwell.

I believe drainage could be carried out in a way that would be consistent with the aims and the wishes of the great majority of people to have conservation included. As other speakers have said, it is true that damage was done in the past. It is very important that there should be consultation between these bodies and the Minister. How do we know they will consult with the Minister? If they do not, what does the Minister do? He cannot force them to consult with him about the drainage of an area. I am sure I speak for many other Deputies when I say there is a big problem of drainage in rural Ireland. I believe it can be carried out consistent with the aims of this Bill and the aims of conservation generally. If the amendments we propose to this section were accepted, the Minister would have more power and more authority to promote conservation.

One cannot but be a bit depressed by the Minister's reply to the arguments we put forward in favour of these amendments. It seems to me that his attitude to our attempt to improve section 12 was very flatfooted. In effect he said "I do not think this is a good amendment and I am not accepting it". He did not attempt to argue at all the merits of the proposal we put forward. Let me first of all deal with his rather niggling and mean little suggestion that we were guilty of grammatical carelessness in amendment No. 5b. My colleague and I studied subsection (2) (a) carefully. I do not think the Minister who is responsible for the section in its present form can attack anybody for slovenliness in attempting to amend it, because it is a particularly awkward piece of phraseology as it stands. It provides:

...before determining any matter or doing anything which is, in his or their opinion or is represented by the Minister to the other Minister of State, or the authority or body to be likely or liable to affect, or to interfere with, the suitability for a nature reserve or a refuge...

—and so on. It is very complicated inelegant language as it stands. We carefully considered whether it would be necessary to change any of the rest of the wording as a result of our substituting "may" for "is" in line 42. We came to the conclusion that it was not and that it would read perfectly well with the alteration which would read:

...before determining any matter or doing anything which may, in his or their opinion, or is represented by the Minister to the other Minister of State, or the authority or body...

—and so on. I do not think there is any point in the argument put forward by the Minister. He ignored our principal argument which connects these four amendments together, that is, to try to ensure that the other institutions of the State, whether they be Ministers, or State bodies, or whatever, in going about their normal activities would have due regard to the provisions of this Bill. If they were about to do anything which in their opinion could conceivably impinge on conservation of wildlife generally as well as the reserves and refuges, they would have to consult with the Minister for Lands and take whatever steps he indicates were necessary to minimise any damage that might be done. That is a very reasonable proposition. If our four amendments are accepted, that is the way the section would stand. At present it is so effete in its terms as to be practically useless. First of all, the planning authority—no matter what the Minister may say about the responsibilities and outlook of planning authorities—is removed from the provisions of section 12 by paragraph (b) of subsection (3); so are the Commissioners of Public Works. Those are two very important institutions. Their removal from the ambit of the section makes it a very ineffectual section indeed.

What does paragraph (b) of subsection (2) mean as it stands? It means that the other Minister of State, or the other body, if satisfied after consultation with the Minister for Lands that what they are about to do would be detrimental, should take all practical steps to avoid or minimise such effect or interference. I submit that that leaves the decision to them and that that is not good enough. It should be the Minister for Lands who should decide what practical steps are to be taken to minimise the detrimental effects of the action involved. It is quite absurd to leave it to the offending body themselves to take that decision. It is also quite absurd to restrict the operation of section 12 to the reserves and refuges. That is not sufficient. These Ministers and bodies carry out activities all over the country. In fact the occasions when their activities would impinge on the reserves or refuges would be very few; they would be minimal in relation to their overall activities. What we are trying to achieve is that when activities they are about to engage in in any part of the country would interfere with, threaten or impinge on the conservation of wildlife, then they would have to consult the Minister. Surely that is reasonable. Section 12 would be a very artificial and ineffectual one if left in its present form. The overwhelming portion of the activities of Ministers and of these bodies would be in circumstances completely removed from the reserves and refuges about which we are speaking. We want to say that the section would come into effect where anything these people were thinking of doing would affect the conservation of wildlife in general and not just the reserves and refuges. That is eminently reasonable.

The Minister, in his reply, suggested that section 41 takes care of the problem in regard to the Commissioners of Public Works carrying out arterial drainage. Section 41 does not. The only way the Commissioners of Public Works, in carrying out arterial drainage, could be controlled in so far as conservation of wildlife is concerned is to include them in the provisions of section 12. It is a serious omission to leave paragraph (c) in subsection (3) and exempt the Commissioners of Public Works from the provisions of section 12. It could do untold damage to the conservation of wildlife throughout the country because, if the Minister has his way, the Commissioners of Public Works, so far as arterial drainage is concerned, will only have to consider reserves and refuges and will not have to consider the overall effects of their activities in regard to wildlife outside those reserves and refuges. Surely that is not acceptable to any of us. In fact, bringing the Commissioners of Public Works into the picture so far as arterial drainage is concerned in regard to reserves and refuges is the least important aspect because those reserves and refuges will have the attention of the Minister's Department, skilled management, expert advice and so on. To a large extent they will be protected anyway. The Commissioners of Public Works in their arterial drainage would probably have a minimal effect on them because of the way they are run and organised. But it is the activities of the Commissioners of Public Works in so far as the general country is concerned, outside of these reserves and refuges, that are important. That is precisely what the Minister is exempting from control under section 12. That is why we put down amendment 5c—to ensure that the Minister for Local Government, the planning authorities and the Commissioners of Public Works all have a responsibility to consult the Minister for Lands about the conservation of wildlife generally in so far as the general ambit of their activities is concerned.

As Deputy Tunney said earlier, one is swimming against the tide here. This is Report Stage. The Minister has spoken and cannot speak again. He has indicated that he is not a bit impressed by these amendments, so that no matter how forcibly we put our argument to him it will not avail us anything. At least we are doing what we can to make this Bill workable and effective. Section 12 is a key section from that point of view. As it stands, it is of no particular significance. Let us face it. It will not really achieve anything. It is a sort of whitewashing provision. It purports to attempt to make these other people consult the Minister for Lands. But, so far as the important people are concerned, they are exempted from that provision and, in so far as the others are concerned, it is only idle consultation in regard to a very limited aspect of their activities, namely, the reserves and refuges.

We have pressed these amendments as strongly as we can and we shall have to leave it at that.

Amendment No. 5b in the name of Deputy Tunney. Does the Deputy wish his amendment to be put?

Yes, Sir.

Question "That the word proposed to be deleted stand" put and declared carried.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 5c:

In page 10, line 45, after "with" to insert "the conservation of wildlife,".

Does the Deputy wish amendment No. 5c to be put? Amendments Nos. 5d and 5e are related.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 5d:

In page 10, line 53, to delete "all practicable steps" and substitute "such steps as may be indicated by the Minister to be necessary".

Does the Deputy wish amendment No. 5d to be put?

Yes, put them all.

Question "That the words proposed to be deleted stand" put and declared carried.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 5e:

In page 11, to delete lines 3 to 9.

Question "That the words proposed to be deleted stand" put and declared carried.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 11, to substitute the following for line 7:

"49) or under the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 1976, or (c) the functions of the Board, or".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 7:

In page 11, to substitute the following for line 15:

"be known in the Irish language as An Chomhairle um Fhiadhúlra and in the English language as The Wildlife Advisory Council (which body is referred".

Amendment agreed to.

I would like to remind Deputy Tunney that amendment No. 7 having been agreed, No. 7a cannot be moved.

I live in slight fear of that. I wonder could we appeal to the good sense of the Minister so that he might consider the introduction of a word like "Nadúir" or a word of that nature which might be attractive to people. The Irish version here is a title which makes sense to very few. I would like a title which would be acceptable and welcome to people even though it might not be as correct as the title which we have. I regret that the situation is such that we cannot discuss it.

Amendment No. 7a not moved.

I move amendment No. 8:

In page 14, to insert ", to the Board" before "and to any" in line 39.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 8a:

In page 14, line 40, after "situate" to add "and the Commissioners and every such planning authority shall have due regard in the performance of their functions to the existence of such order".

Section 15 deals with an important provision in this Bill which provides for the establishment of nature reserves and refuges on Government lands. Everybody appreciates the need for and the merit of that section. One is at a loss to understand why subsection (2) requires that the Minister must consult with the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and with the Minister for Transport and Power and need not necessarily consult with the Minister for Defence who is responsible for and holds an amount of land in this country. I realise that I am not at liberty on Report Stage to make specific reference to the section itself, so I will confine myself to the terms of the amendment. This section requires the Minister to consult with the Commissioners of Public Works before making an order to establish a reserve and to consult with other Departments on whose lands such a reserve might be established. Subsection (7) indicates that:

The Minister shall, as soon as may be after it is made, cause a copy of an order under this section to be sent to the Commissioners and to any planning authority within whose area the land comprised in the nature reserve, or any part thereof, is situate.

We have the situation that this shall be done where in the opinion of the Minister, having consulted with other Ministers and other agencies, the view is held that it is vital to the conservation of wildlife that there should be an establishment order designating a certain area as a nature reserve or refuge. All these consultations will have taken place and there will be an agreement, I understand, as to the need for the order. The order cannot be made without that agreement. Nonetheless, subsection (7), which is the last subsection of section 15, requires only that a copy of this order be sent to the commissioners and also to the local planning authority. One might inquire what it is in aid of, why are we sending it? One knows the destination of an order or any such document which might be sent, unless it is incumbent or required of the recipient to do something about it.

As I see it, here we have yet again an example of the apologetic and useless exercise which we are indulging in in respect of this legislation. We are making apologies for what we are doing, formally notifying people that we have done something, as a result of our consulting with them and as a result of the acceptance of the desirability of designating this area as a nature reserve, and finally we are sending it to them just for the record. In sending it to them we should require them to have due regard for what appears in it. The Minister will probably say it is understood that the commissioners and the planning authority will know that when they get it they are expected to have regard for it and to respect it. My answer is that the commissioners and the planning authorities have respect for anything which they get in accordance with the law that governs it. However, if they are not required to have respect for it, such respect will not be forthcoming and the copy of the order which the Minister has made may find itself in the wastepaper basket. That possibility must be provided for.

It is much more positive, direct and more in the interests of conservation that we throw from ourselves this cloak of subservience which we seem to have towards everything and anything, and that we have respect for what we are doing and that we recognise the importance of what we are doing. As I said earlier in respect of amendment No. 5e, what guarantee have we that any local authority will have regard for what we send to them unless we enshrine it in legislation? I am a member of a local authority and of a planning authority, and many documents and occasionally requests come to us.

The attitude of the planning authority to these is "What is required of us as a planning authority? What action should we take on this?" If, as was said of the jarvey and the traveller years ago, it is a case of "I will leave it to yourself, sir", I do not think we will achieve much or that the order which is made will benefit to any great extent. Accordingly, my amendment would require that the commissioners and every such planning authority shall have due regard in the performance of their functions to the existence of such order. That is a very reasonable position. It must be included if we are to show the earnestness with which we are applying ourselves to the legislation before the House. Otherwise, the subsection is an example again of what I referred to earlier— a pious aspiration. We can operate it today as our credo but that will not of itself bring any worthwhile recognition.

I trust the Minister will indicate his acceptance of the strength which this provision would add to the legislation. There is nothing confusing about the amendment. It is not controversial and is not framed in the type of difficult verbiage of earlier sections or, perhaps, of earlier amendments. It is in the form of a simple statement which contrasts with that other simple statement in subsection (7). I suggest that when the Minister has a second look at subsection (7) he will realise that on its own it is a fairly useless provision.

I refer again to the legislation which exists in respect of draft development plans. The Parliamentary Secretary would be more conversant than I with that area. These plans are agreed every five years. There is a certain period during which objections may be lodged but once the plans have been agreed they stand for five years. I know that there is provision for appeals to the Minister. From this year these appeals will be to An Bord Pleanála but the commitment of the local planning authority is to what has been agreed and to what appears in the plans. There is no point in saying, half-way through the plan "Send it to the planning authority and let them see what we have done". It would not even appear before the committee unless some member of that committee were interested enough. In such case he might make some inquiries and might advocate that regard must be had for whatever order was involved. However, unless there are many sympathisers on the committee I would not be too hopeful as to the reaction which the placement of the order might receive.

I see a much better and more positive line in our indicating to all planning authorities at the appropriate time that these orders have been made, that we require that in the making of the authority's draft development plan due regard must be had to this fact. Otherwise, as Deputy Haughey said in relation to section 12, we are merely window dressing, we are basing legislation on a certain optimism and on certain hopes that that for which we have responsibility will be provided by somebody else on whom there is no such responsibility.

As the person on whom the duty falls the Minister must be prepared to advance the case in respect of orders which he makes. No progress will attend the type of attitude which would involve him going no further than saying "Look, boys, do the best you can with this". I trust that the Minister will realise the wisdom, the prudence and the practicality of the amendment.

I support Deputy Tunney in relation to amendments Nos. 8a and 10a. There is a simple net issue here. Again, we come back to the question of whether we want this Bill to be an effective operative piece of legislation, or whether it will be to a large extent an empty formula or whether it will be real live practical legislation dealing with the situation and with the problems with which it is intended to deal.

Regarding amendment 8a, we are concerned with the question of nature reserves which are to be created on lands owned by the Minister or by the State. We had a fair amount of discussion on section 15 when we asked what was the need for this section, and, since the Minister owned these lands why is he not already in a position to do everything he wants to do with lands he holds or some other Minister holds. In the Special Committee the Minister thought he should have these powers set out in section 15. Then, in section 16, the Minister is taking power to designate certain private lands as refuges. In regard to both of these the Minister is obliged by sections 15 and 16 to send an order to the planning authority and to the Commissioners of Public Works and, so far as the Bill is concerned, that is the end of the matter. He is not obliged to do anything more.

What is the reality here? Surely the reason for sending these orders to the planning authority is to ensure the authority takes cognisance of them, is aware that these reserves or refuges exist and that they should do something about them. Otherwise there is no point in sending these orders to the planning authority. Is it not only commonsense to place a statutory obligation on planning authorities compelling them in the performance of their functions to have regard to these orders? If that is not done then the sending of the orders is a meaningless exercise.

The same argument applies to the Commissioners of Public Works. Why send the orders to the commissioners unless the Minister wants them to take the orders into account in the performance of their functions? If cognisance is to be taken of them then the only sensible thing to do is to give statutory effect to what we propose. The orders should be sent for a specific purpose and that specific purpose should be that the planning authorities and the Commissioners of Public Works should have regard to them in what they do and that should be a statutory obligation.

For the life of me I cannot understand why the Minister will not accept this provision. It is obviously intended that the planning authorities and the Commissioners of Public Works should have regard to these orders but, unless there is a statutory obligation on these bodies to do something, they are not going to do it. The obligation would not be a very onerous one. We are not asking for something unattainable. Both sections refer to very restricted areas, nature reserves on the Minister's own lands and refuges created by the Minister on private lands. The activities of both bodies concerned in relation to these areas would be minimal. All we are asking is that these bodies take cognisance of orders and be aware of them and take the existence of reserves or refuges into account when discharging their functions.

I am quite satisfied both the commissioners and the planning authorities will pay full regard to formal notification from my Department of the establishment of nature reserves and refuges under these sections and I see no reason for imposing, as the Deputy suggests, a statutory obligation.

Mr. Kitt

I support the points made by Deputy Haughey and Deputy Tunney. These are two very important sections, one dealing with nature reserves on State lands and the other dealing with the creation of refuges on private lands. It astonished me that the Minister had to bring in this section in regard to his own lands. It seems he is not actually in full possession of his own lands. The section dealing with the creation of refuges on private lands is very important. In both cases it is imperative that orders should be given due regard.

It is interesting to note that this subsection differs from section 12 in that the Commissioners of Public Work and the Minister for Local Government and planning authorities are excluded from their obligations as regards nature reserves and refuges. As this section stands we are asking the planning authority and the Commissioners of Public Works to have due regard to the order. There is no mention here of the Minister for Local Government as there was in the other section. Therefore, under the section the planning authority need have no regard whatsoever to this order which will be sent to them. For that reason it is very important that our amendment would be accepted so that they would have due regard to the order if they were performing a function which affected conservation of wildlife.

Again I regret to have to express disappointment at the Minister's curt dismissal of the two amendments. The Minister said he was quite satisfied that the commissioners and the planning authority would have due regard to this order. The Minister was never, to my knowledge, a gullible or presumptuous man, but in view of what he has stated I must assume a change in his nature and again a change that is not for the best. The Minister must know as well as I do that unless there is a statutory obligation on the commissioners or on the planning authority to have regard to an order they will not adhere to it out of deference to him or wildlife or anything else.

The Minister has dispelled the hopes I had that after a period of some hours we might now be looking at this legislation and this amendment through his own clear eyes and applying his own well-known experience especially in the field of local authorities. The Minister was a member of the Louth County Council and the council were the planning authority. He knows that a communication from Dublin to the Louth County Council or to any other county council which has nothing attached to it accept the fact that it has come from Dublin will not get a very warm reception. How, therefore, can the Minister expect to convince me that the planning authority will have due regard to this legislation? From my experience of them—and it gives me no pleasure to say it—I know they will not, and our legislation and our hopes and desires will be all the poorer for it.

The position is unsatisfactory in that, first of all, the Minister was not with us on Committee Stage. If he had been, I think many of the weaknesses we see in the legislation would not be there now, because I think he would have applied himself determinedly to it and would not have been as sensitive to other areas as his predecessor was. As we are not concluding the Report Stage tonight, I am hopeful that when we come to other amendments the Minister will be more familiar with the legislation and will be much happier in applying his own judgment to it rather than entirely accepting, as most Ministers do and, generally speaking, very wisely, the brief that comes from the advisers.

I am utterly convinced from the experience I have that subsection (7) of section 15 will be proven to be absolutely useless. If it were not there at all the provision would be as effective. The subsection requires no more than that the order be sent. The botheration attaching to make a case when Standing Orders prevent it being accepted is very frustrating. On the other hand, it does give me an opportunity of placing my views on record. I hope that, in the interests of wildlife, my views will be proven to be erroneous, and I am hoping there is no foundation for my distrust— that is a fairly strong word but I know it will not be misinterpreted—of the mere forwarding of a communication to any institution, whether it is a local authority or the Office of Public Works, for the implementation of something which we are not prepared to state in legislation. Certainly if it happens that way, I will be very much surprised and overjoyed.

Amendment No. 8a in the name of Deputy Tunney. Amendment No. 10a is cognate. I am putting the question that the amendment be made.

Question put and declared lost.

Amendment No. 9 in the name of the Minister. Amendment No. 9a is an alternative. Therefore, amendments Nos. 9 and 9a may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 9:

In page 14, between lines 40 and 41, to insert the following:

"16.—(1) Where a person who is the occupier of land satisfies the Minister that—

(a) the land includes a habitat or part of a habitat or an ecosystem described in paragraph (a) of section 15 (2) of this Act,

(b) the interest of the person in or over the land is such as to enable the person to establish and manage a nature reserve on the land, and

(c) the person can, in accordance with any conditions which the Minister sees fit to impose, use or manage the land so as to establish and maintain, or maintain, as may be appropriate a nature reserve on the land,

then, subject to subsection (2) of this section, the Minister may, by order (in this Act referred to as a recognition order) recognise the land as a nature reserve and the recognition shall continue for so long as the order is in force.

(2) Before making a recognition order the Minister shall consult the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, the Minister for Transport and Power, the Commissioners and any planning authority within whose area the land to which the proposed order relates, or any part of such land, is situate.

(3) A recognition order shall state the Minister's reason for recognising the land to which the order relates as a nature reserve and indicate the objectives for which the land is to be used or managed as a nature reserve.

(4) The Minister shall not revoke a recognition order unless he considers that—

(a) the objectives indicated in the order have not been attained or are not being properly maintained, or

(b) for any other reason, it is no longer appropriate for him to continue to recognise as a nature reserve, by virtue of the order, the land to which the order relates.

(5) The Minister shall, as soon as may be after it is made, cause a copy of an order under this section to be sent to the Commissioners, to the Board and to any planning authority within whose area the land to which the order relates, or any part of such land, is situate."

The basic purpose of these provisions is to enable the Minister to grant formal recognition to nature reserves on private lands. I am informed that the owners of these private reserves are very anxious to have such formal status. The provisions were opposed during Committee Stage on two issues: first, that there should be a proviso in subsection (5) that planning authorities should take cognisance of the existence of private nature reserves formally recognised by the Minister under the section and, second, that there should be other incentives provided for in the section to attract owners of private reserves to the provisions of the section.

These two points are now reflected in amendment No. 9a put down by Deputy Tunney. As regards the first point, I can only say that I do not consider it necessary to provide an amendment on the lines suggested. I am satisfied that planning authorities will have full regard to the formal notification from my Department of the existence of any such private reserves without my having to detail it in the Bill. Indeed, it is entirely within the spirit of sections 42 and 46 of the 1963 Planning and Development Act and section 40 of the new Planning and Development Act for planning authorities to have due regard to such areas. These sections provide for the making of amenity orders and conservation orders by planning authorities in their own areas.

I might just add that I am providing in subsection (5) that copies of any orders made under this section will also be sent to An Bord Pleanála as I consider this reasonable. On the second point I must say that I cannot agree that insufficient incentives are being provided for owners of private nature reserves. The section must be considered in conjunction with other sections.

Apart from the powers contained in section 11 (2) enabling the Minister among other things to give assistance and advice to any person or any matter affecting wildlife, to join by agreement in the management of private lands in the interests of wildlife, to participate with others in wildlife projects and to give grants or loans for such purposes, the formal recognition of a private nature reserve will mean that any offence under the Act committed in such a reserve will be regarded much more seriously and will on conviction attract much heavier penalties up to a maximum of £500.

When we come to discuss amendment No. 22 it will be clear that the section referred to in that amendment will bestow the additional benefit of enabling the Minister, by agreement with the owner, to regulate access to and use of a private nature reserve. I accordingly strongly urge the adoption of this amendment.

The Chair wishes to inform Deputies that the acceptance of amendment No. 9 will mean that amendment No. 9a will not arise.

No doubt my ability will persuade the Minister to accept the new section 16 as framed by us. He has given a very fair resumé of the developments in regard to this matter, but he is on very weak ground when he asks the House to accept his new section 16 instead of ours.

Because of the dilatoriness of some of the members of the Coalition in their attendance at the Special Committee, we were able to delete section 16 from the Bill as it was put before us. We did not do that because we did not agree with the general purpose of section 16 as then framed; we fully support the general purpose of section 16. I will call it section 16 because that is what it was in the Bill we had before the Special Committee and that is what it will be again, whether the Minister's proposal or ours is accepted. If I may I will refer to it as section 16 although there is a different section 16 in the Bill now before us.

We are dissatisfied with section 16 as it was put before us. We agreed that the idea was a good one, that what was proposed was desirable, but we did not think it went far enough. Because we could not persuade the Minister in the Special Committee to change the section along the lines we suggested, we had no option but to vote against it and have it deleted so that we could come back on Report Stage and have another go at it. That is what we are doing now.

The Minister outlined quite clearly what is intended in section 16 where a public spirited person who has suitable lands would like to have them changed into a reserve. That can now be done.

We questioned the Minister very closely in the Special Committee as to what would follow once private lands were designated by order into becoming reserves. He had to admit, in effect, that nothing would happen. The only thing he could hold out to us by way of advantage was that if other persons committed offences on these lands the penalties would be heavier.

That reminds me of what an Irish solicitor told a client who was thinking of going to France on a visit and was asking about the traffic regulations. The solicitor summed up the French traffic laws by saying "If you get killed on a pedestrian crossing, it means that whoever knocked you down and killed you has to pay the funeral expenses". That was a gross over-simplification of the position but it is much the same as the defence which the Minister is trying to put up here for the section 16 as he puts it before us.

In effect, it would really be of no significance that one of these orders would be made in respect of private lands. It would confer on the lands some status, but that would be all. It would be of no practical significance. We think it is desirable that as much land as possible be brought within the scope of section 16 and turned into official reserves. This would be a very important and beneficial step from the point of view of the conservation of wildlife.

We want something done to encourage people to do that. We want to encourage as many people as possible to come forward and say to the Minister "I want my lands treated in this way. I want you to make an order under section 16". Will anybody do that under section 16 as framed at present, when the only thing the Minister can say to such a person is "If you have this order made anybody poaching on your lands will be subject to a heavier fine than otherwise"? That will not get us anywhere. We have brought forward our new section 16 which would enable the Minister in cases where he makes an order in regard to private lands, turning them into natural reserves, to provide assistance for the better management and running of these reserves. That would be a very natural thing to do. If the Minister is going to enter into an agreement with a private citizen in regard to turning private lands into nature reserves, he should be prepared to make skilled management and other services available for the running of such reserves.

Debate adjourned.