National Monuments Bill, 1929—Committee Stage.
Section 1 put and agreed to.
In this Act—
the expression "the Minister" means the Minister for Finance, the expression "the Commissioners" means the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland,
the expression "local authority" means and includes the council of a county, the council of a county or other borough, and the council of an urban district,
the word "owner" when used in relation to a national monument means the person for the time being having such estate or interest in such monument as entitles him to the actual possession and occupation thereof,
the word "monument" includes any artificial or partly artificial building, structure, or erection whether above or below the surface of the ground and whether affixed or not affixed to the ground and any cave, stone, or other natural product whether forming part of or attached to or not attached to the ground which has been artificially carved, sculptured or worked upon or which (where it does not form part of the ground) appears to have been purposely put or arranged in position and any prehistoric or ancient tomb, grave or burial deposit, but does not include any building which is for the time being habitually used for ecclesiastical purposes,
the expression "national monument" means a monument or the remains of a monument the preservation of which is a matter of national importance by reason of the historical, architectural, traditional, artistic, or archæological interest attaching thereto and also includes (but not so as to limit, extend or otherwise influence the construction of the foregoing general definition) every monument in Saorstát Eireann to which the Ancient Monuments Protection Acts, 1882, applied immediately before the passing of this Act, and the said expression shall be construed as including, in addition to the monument itself, the site of the monument and the means of access thereto and also such portion of land adjoining such site as may be required to fence, cover in, or otherwise preserve from injury the monument or to preserve the amenities thereof,
the word "maintain" when used in relation to a national monument includes the cleaning, repairing, railing off, fencing, and covering in of such monument and the doing of all such other acts and things as may be necessary or expedient for the preservation or protection thereof, and cognate words shall be construed accordingly,
the expression "archæological object" means any chattel whether in a manufactured or partly manufactured or an unmanufactured state which by reason of its antiquity or the archæological or historical interest attaching thereto has a value substantially greater than its intrinsic value, and the said expression includes ancient human and animal remains but does not include treasure trove in which the rights of the State have not been waived.
To delete in line 32 the word "cave" and to substitute therefor the words "natural cave and any."
In the section natural caves are included under the heading of monuments, which includes "any cave, stone, or other natural product, whether forming part of or attached to or not attached to the ground which has been artificially carved, sculptured or worked upon." The object of my amendment is to ensure that a natural cave which has not been carved or sculptured or worked upon shall come under the heading of a national monument. As a matter of fact some of the natural caves would have been greatly injured if any attempt had been made to interfere with the work of nature in their formation. The amendment is to increase the number of objects that may be brought under the heading of national monuments. I fear that as the Bill stands a natural cave would be excluded unless it was sculptured or worked upon.
I am afraid it will be necessary for me to oppose this amendment because it would strain the scope of the Bill very much to try to include in it natural caves or anything of that kind. I quite agree with Senator Linehan that it is a desirable thing to endeavour to preserve those objects of curiosity and interest and of great scenic beauty, but if we were to include caves like Mitchelstown caves, which I think he has in view, there is no reason why we should not include the Lakes of Killarney, the Giant's Causeway, if it happened to be in Saorstát Eireann, or any such natural features. If we were to deal with matters of that kind I think it would be necessary to introduce a different kind of Bill, a Bill perhaps dealing with tourist development, or national parks, or something of that kind. This amendment is quite outside the Bill.
Does not the Bill include natural caves? It says "any cave, stone, or other natural product."
What does "cave" refer to?
Caves that have been carved in any way.
I am surprised that the Parliamentary Secretary is opposing this very reasonable amendment. In the definition of "monument" there is the word "cave"—"‘monument' includes any artificial or partly artificial building, structure, or erection, whether above or below the surface of the ground and whether affixed or not affixed to the ground and any cave, stone, or other natural product whether forming part of or attached to or not attached to the ground which has been artificially carved." Does the Parliamentary Secretary intend that this is to be confined to artificial excavation? If it is to apply to artificial excavations, why should it not apply to natural excavations, which are of more importance from an archaeological point of view than artificial excavations? Then there is the other obvious comment. Taking the Mitchelstown caves as they are—unspoilt—in order to come within this definition it would be necessary to make some artificial carvings in them. I support the amendment, and I suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that there is no great harm, and certainly a great deal of good in it.
I agree with the Parliamentary Secretary in this case. He is quite right. If the Mitchelstown caves, which are entirely natural, without any markings or anything else which would bring them within the definition of an ancient monument, were to be included, we would not know where we might end. It would be much better to leave the Bill as it is.
I am sorry to say that the last speaker and the Parliamentary Secretary are not thoroughly informed on the subject of caves. The most important palæolithic and neolithic discoveries that have been made have been made in caves. In ancient days the people lived in caves, and the remains of the successions of people who lived in these countries ten thousand, twelve thousand and twenty thousand years ago, up to five or six thousand years ago, have been heaped in caves one over another. So that when you want to know what sort of people lived in a country at a particular time you have only to dig into caves and you will find a succession of layers which may date even from the very earliest times to comparatively late times. It was in these natural caves that people hid in old times. For example, in the south of France and in parts of Spain the most wonderful discoveries have been made. I think that to exclude natural caves from the operations of this Bill is really absurd. There are some caves in this country which, from the geological point of view, are the most interesting in the world.
There were people who sat by the firesides in them twenty thousand years ago. They lived in them and sometimes were buried in them. The layers of charcoal to be found in some of those caves indicate that people lived in them. These are the things that above all we want to preserve.
They are to be preserved.
I think that if anything ought to be preserved under this Bill it is those geological caves.
I desire to support Senator Linehan's amendment. I think it is a very reasonable one, and I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will see his way to accept it. I have seen in many parts of the country caves of the character described by Senator Linehan. I think it is the duty of this House to arouse the interest of the people in the care and preservation of them. A great deal is being done as regards the restoration and spread of the national language. I think that people should be encouraged to aid in the preservation of all archæological objects. I congratulate the Government on the introduction of this Bill which will have the effect of preserving our national monuments. The amendment which Senator Linehan has moved, if accepted, will have the effect of aiding such a praiseworthy object as the preservation of objects of archæological and national interest.
The object which Senator Linehan is seeking to secure, and the argument of Senator Moore, are answered in the next paragraph of the section. "The expression ‘national monument' means a monument or the remains of a monument the preservation of which is a matter of national importance by reason of the historical, architectural, traditional, artistic, or archæological interest attaching thereto." If it is merely a cave which may have no particular national interest, traditional, artistic, archæological or historical, then it does not come within the definition of national monument, but if it is, as Senator Moore suggests, a cave which has a particular traditional, archæological or historical interest then it comes under that definition of national monument.
Might I point out that these caves have no tradition? No one knows anything about them. There is no tradition about them. They were occupied twenty thousand years ago, and they ought to be preserved. At present people go into those caves and see nothing. They simply appear to them to be a natural object like a mountain. What we ought to secure under this Bill is that they are preserved so that trained archæologists will be able to examine them scientifically and with care. At present the bottom of the ground in them shows nothing in particular, but when digging is carried out scientifically to a depth of twenty, thirty or fifty feet you find these different layers to which I have already referred. We want to see that they are preserved until such time as trained archæologists will have an opportunity of thoroughly investigating them and reporting on them. These caves have never been excavated. That is one reason why we should be particularly anxious about them because we have no archæological or human remains belonging to the palæolithic period in this country. It is not at all certain that such remains may not be discovered in some of these caves. Everyone interested in the archæology and history of the country should be anxious to see that these caves are excavated. It is for that reason that Senator Linehan wants to have them preserved against the profane hands of people who might go into them and start digging.
What Senator Colonel Moore has said, that there are no remains of palæolithic man in Ireland at all, is true. But I would point out to him that if any such remains are found in any cave in the country then they will come within the definition of national monument in this Bill.
I think the Parliamentary Secretary was rather unfortunate in his remarks when he cited the Lakes of Killarney and the Giant's Causeway, if these were under his control. The latter, of course, is not. I submit that it should be the duty of the Government to protect places like these either under this Bill or under some other Bill. I suggest that these natural caves are or may be equally important from the geological point of view or any other point of view that you like as a structure such as the Giant's Causeway or the Lakes of Killarney. I think that this amendment is a perfectly reasonable one, and that it ought to be included in this Bill. The argument of the Minister rather strengthens my belief for the necessity for having an amendment such as this inserted in the Bill.
It seems to me that the introduction of the word "natural" would rather weaken the position under the Bill. If the Bill is left without the word "natural" being defined, then any cave coming within the scope of the Bill will be included.
There must be carving on it.
There must be carving on it, or in it or about it, and there must be remains. I take it that as the Bill stands it would include that without the introduction of the word "natural."
If that is so, why is not the amendment accepted? Following what Senator Johnson has said, that the word "monument" covers it, I would like to know what is the interpretation of the word "monument"? I have never heard the words "natural cave" included in the interpretation of the word "monument," nor do I think that a natural cave is a monument. A monument seems to me to indicate something that has been constructed rather than a natural thing. The Minister said, in resisting the amendment, that if it were to be accepted it would mean extending the scope of the Bill too much, and that the next step would be to include places like the Lakes of Killarney. There is a tremendous difference between extending the scope of the Bill to include natural caves, and the extension that would be required to bring under this measure the Lakes of Killarney. The only extension that Senator Linehan is anxious to secure is one that will bring under the Bill natural caves in addition to caves that have been sculptured or worked upon, and I think the Parliamentary Secretary should agree to that. If one wanted to evade the purpose of the Bill, there is an open and easy method of doing so, but, as I have said, I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will see his way to grant the little extension that Senator Linehan requires, and include under the Bill natural caves as well as caves that have been sculptured or worked upon.
What is troubling me about this amendment is this, that it is intended to bring in merely natural caves inside the provisions of this Bill. That means that these are to come under the guardianship of the Department concerned. The question then arises: What is to become of the beneficial interest that the owner has in these caves? These natural caves, that are only natural, are used by the owners of them for the purpose of making money out of them. I have no doubt that if you went to Senator Linehan's cave at Mitchelstown you would be charged 2/6 to get into it. If there is nothing only a natural cave at Mitchelstown, and that is all that there is there, I do not see that we have any duty at all to take it in under the Bill.
How does the Senator know that there is nothing more than a natural object in the cave at Mitchelstown?
I was so informed. I was informed that there are stalactites in it. Senators who may have visited the caves at Cheddar, in England, may have seen some stalactites there which are very beautiful. You are charged 1/- for admission and 2d. for a candle, the grease of which spreads itself all over your clothes.
What becomes of the beneficial interest in a cave with carving in it? Does not the same apply to that as to a natural cave?
They do not charge for seeing them. If you are to accept this amendment, you would have to provide a right-of-way, if one does not already exist, to enable the public to go in to look at them.
I think that for once in his life Senator Brown has made a mistake, because he has suggested that, by putting in the words "natural cave," these words would take the property in the cave out of the present owners. That is not the case. All that the amendment does is to have the words "natural cave" included in the definition of national monuments, and to authorise the owner, if he likes, to make a grant. If the owner wishes, he can make a grant to the people in Dublin or to the local authorities. If he does make a grant of the guardianship of the cave, then the local authorities will look after it. I think on this occasion Senator Brown has made a mistake, and that he will find there is no substance in the contention he has put forward.
With regard to the point made by Senator Brown as to the owner's rights, I have a later amendment, under which I propose to provide for compensation for the owner in the event of the Commissioners taking over the cave. I was rather surprised that the Parliamentary Secretary should have adopted such a non-possumus attitude on this matter, for this cave is actually within his own constituency and he ought to know more about it. The carving on these caves, if it may be called carving, was done by nature. Immense columns of stalactites and stalagmites meet each other in these caves, and they are most interesting from the geological and other points of view. I think it is a pity that they should not be brought in under this Bill and put in charge of the Commissioner of Public Works. Very little expense would make them easily accessible to the public. I hope that the Minister will reconsider his attitude and accept the amendment.
The Committee divided: Tá, 17
17; Níl, 17.
- William Barrington.
- R.A. Butler.
- Michael Comyn, K.C.
- Joseph Connolly.
- Thomas Foran.
- P.J. Hooper.
- Thomas Johnson.
- Cornelius Kennedy.
- Thomas Linehan.
- Seán E. MacEllin.
- Colonel Moore.
- Joseph O'Connor.
- Joseph O'Doherty.
- M.F. O'Hanlon.
- Séumas Robinson.
- Thomas Toal.
- Richard Wilson.
- Samuel L. Brown, K.C.
- Miss Kathleen Browne.
- Mrs. Costello.
- John C. Counihan.
- The Countess of Desart.
- Michael Fanning.
- Thomas Farren.
- Henry S. Guinness.
- Right Hon. Andrew Jameson.
- Patrick W. Kenny.
- The McGillycuddy of the Reeks.
- John MacLoughlin.
- Seán Milroy.
- Sir Walter Nugent.
- Bernard O'Rourke.
- Dr. William O'Sullivan.
- Siobhán Bean an Phaoraigh.
Amendment put and declared carried.
The voting is 17 for and 17 against. I give my casting vote in favour of the amendment, and I accordingly declare it carried.
I move amendment 2:—
After the word "artistic" in line 43 to insert the word "geological."
This amendment is not so contentious as the last one, and I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will see his way to accept it.
I do not think there is any need for me to say anything on this amendment, as I think all that could be said on it was said on the last one.
Question proposed: "That Section 2, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
Before the section is passed I desire to know whether the words "national monument" include windmills? There are very few windmills left in the country. In fact, I know of only one myself. I think it is desirable that any windmills that there are should be preserved.
I believe that windmills will come within the definition.
Any windmills that there are in the country are of great historical interest and certainly ought to be preserved.
I agree with the suggestion that has been made by Senator Butler. At one time there were more windmills in my part of the country than in any other part, but they are all gone now except one.
Section 2, as amended, put and agreed to.
Sections 3 to 9 inclusive agreed to.
Any person seised or possessed of a national monument for any estate or interest may (subject to any restriction imposed or consent required by law) by deed or will convey, devise or bequeath such national monument for all his said estate or interest therein to the Commissioners or to the local authority in whose functional area such monument is situate, and the Commissioners or the said local authority may, as they think fit, either accept or disclaim such conveyance, devise, or bequest.
"After the word ‘monument' wherever it occurs to insert the words ‘or archæological object.'"
My object in bringing forward the amendment is to include in the Bill a number of articles which it is very important should be retained in the country. Other amendments which I have down are consequential to this one. I want to secure that movable objects such as bronze swords, spearheads, etc., shall be treated in the same way as gold ornaments, and other things that are treasure trove, and failure to hand over which to the Government renders one liable to a penalty. These might be objects such as earthenware urns, and things of that sort, which may be of no intrinsic value in themselves but on account of their archæological interest more valuable than some of the gold objects. These may represent the sub-structure of a whole period of history, and may show what tribes settled in the country, what part of Europe they came from, and so on. I want to preserve these objects. They are often thrown away or lost. I had at Ballinasloe a very good spearhead with all the fastenings in position. I had intended to hand it over to the National Museum, but it was stolen some years ago. At all events, when I went to look for it it was gone, and perhaps it was sold out of the country. There are many things in this country that are of value from an archæological point of view. Of course if these are acquired they should be paid for. In a later amendment I suggest that in case of dispute the price should be fixed by the District Justice. I did not know the law when I put that down, and perhaps some Senator would suggest a better person than the District Justice to act in that capacity, say the keeper of the gold ornaments.
I think the amendment is quite unnecessary. The section is permissible and it is open to persons to offer to the country anything they like. If I have a silver cup or a spearhead and the Government is prepared to take it from me, there is nothing to prevent me from giving it. It can be done under a deed or will.
Is it not a question as to whether a spearhead would be considered a national monument or not?
It is open to any person who has a spearhead to hand it over to the Government, if the Government will accept it.
With regard to compensation to be paid, the section does not refer to archæological objects such as spearheads at all. I do not think that there is anybody, except the Keeper of Irish Antiquities in the National Museum who is competent to put a value on a bronze spearhead.
The Minister would be guided in these matters by the Keeper of Irish Antiquities.
This amendment is based on the misconception that the Commissioners of Public Works and the local authorities deal with archæological objects. They do not. It is the Keeper of Irish Antiquities in the National Museum who deals with those. As Senator Guinness pointed out, we have ample powers to accept gifts of that kind by deed or grant. We are subject to no restriction in regard to that.
May I ask the Parliamentary Secretary whether the powers of the Keeper of Irish Antiquities include the right contained in Section 11 to acquire compulsorily?
Therefore, the amendment does provide for the compulsory acquisition of archæological objects.
Amendment put and, on a show of hands, declared lost.
Agreed that Section 10 stand part of the Bill.
(1) The Commissioners may, with the consent of the Minister, acquire compulsorily or by agreement any national monument which they consider it expedient to acquire, and the Commissioners may so acquire a national monument whether they or a local authority are or are not the guardians thereof and whether a preservation order is or is not in force in regard thereto.
(2) For the purpose of the acquisition of a national monument by the Commissioners under this section the Lands Clauses Acts shall be incorporated with this Act subject to the following modifications, that is to say:—
(a) the provisions relating to the sale of superfluous land and access to the special Act and Section 133 (which relates to land tax and poor's rate) of the Lands Clauses Consolidated Act, 1845, shall not be incorporated with this Act,
(b) in the construction of this Act and the incorporated Acts, this Act shall be deemed to be the special Act and the Commissioners shall be deemed to be the promoters of the undertaking, and
(c) the bond required by Section 85 of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, 1845, shall be under the common seal of the Commissioners and shall be sufficient without the addition of the sureties mentioned in that section, and
(d) the rules contained in Section 2 of the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919, shall apply with the modifications that in the application of rule (2) of those rules the value on a sale for export shall not be taken into consideration and accordingly the expression "sold in the open market" in that rule shall be construed as referring only to a sale for retention in Saorstát Eireann, and that no allowance shall be made for personal sentimental association.
Section 11, sub-section (1). After the word "monument" wherever it occurs to insert the words "or archæological object."
I think it is desirable that there should be power to acquire these objects compulsorily where necessary.
I oppose the amendment. It would mean the introduction of compulsion and taking away from a person any object of archæological interest, whatever that may be defined to be. It has not yet been defined. It may include a picture, a spearhead, or things of that sort of sufficient age. I think that is an interference with the property of the subject, and such a thing was never contemplated by the Bill.
I never heard anybody say that a picture was an archæological object.
We have not had an archæological object defined.
Senator Guinness will find archæological objects defined in the Bill:
"the expression ‘archæological object' means any chattel whether in a manufactured or partly manufactured or an unmanufactured state which by reason of its antiquity or the archæological or historical interest attaching thereto has a value substantially greater than its intrinsic value, and the said expression includes ancient human and animal remains but does not include treasure trove in which the rights of the State have not been waived."
That would include a picture.
It would. In supporting the amendment I wish to say that this Section 11, of sub-section (1) as it stands gives power to the Commissioners with the consent of the Minister to acquire a national monument. All we ask by the amendment is to give power to the Commissioners with the consent of the Minister to acquire an archæological object compulsorily. The difficulty about the matter is that a great many of these archæological objects have been found throughout the country in bogs and other places by people who have no way of storing them and who place very little value upon them, and so they get mislaid, lost, or sent out of the country. Only two months ago I saw two bronze swords of beautiful workmanship that were found in a bog in County Clare. There was considerable difficulty in getting these two bronze swords into the Museum, because there was really no compulsory power. One of them was of exceptional value, because it suggested that we could find the handle of that bronze sword, and if that handle is found it will be the only bronze sword handle in any museum in the world. If Senator Guinness has a valuable archæological object in his possession I am sure the Minister would never consent to have it taken out of his collection. There must be some reason in everything. The only object of the amendment is to place an archæological object like a bronze sword in the same position as a monument, such as an ogham stone or something like that, and give the Commissioners power to take it over if the Minister consents. I think this is a reasonable amendment.
My difficulty with regard to the amendment is owing to the definition given in the Bill of an archæological object. We all know that there are in houses throughout the country archæological objects belonging to the people who own the houses, and who have been collecting them over a long period. In some cases these collections have been collected by generations of the families. I think nobody would be in favour of people being compelled to give these objects up.
Amendment put and declared lost.
Section 11, sub-section (2). After the word "Eireann" in line 26 to insert the words "or to the income derived by the owner from such monument."
The object of the amendment is to add to the matters to be taken into consideration by the arbitrator the income derived by the owner from any such objects.
I do not think that Senator Linehan need trouble very much about the chances of the Commissioners of Works taking over the cave for which the owner charges an entrance fee of 2/6 at present. I do not think they are going to do it.
In my case this is already provided for. The income derived from a monument would be taken into consideration by the assessor. The amendment is unnecessary.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I wish to withdraw the following amendment which stands in my name:—
To add at the end of the sub-section a new paragraph as follows:—
"(e) the price to be paid for an archæological object shall in case of dispute be fixed by the District Justice."
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Agreed that Sections 11 and 12 stand part of the Bill.
Amendment No. 13 (by Colonel Moore) to Section 13, by leave, withdrawn.
Agreed that Sections 13 to 18 inclusive stand part of the Bill.
Question proposed: That Section 19 stand part of the Bill.
I would like to know whether the Parliamentary Secretary would consider strengthening his authority with regard to advertisements. The section gives power to local authorities to make by-laws to help in the preservation of national monuments, but because of the fact that it is a national monument it thereby goes outside the scope of local by-laws, and one can conceive quite readily of a local authority not being very much concerned with or aware of the means of preserving such a monument, yet by virtue of the fact that it is a national monument there should be some authority to over-ride the local authority in respect of such matters. I think the fact that we have defined a national monument in the way we have makes it right and proper there should be some authority to make it mandatory on the local authority, which is the only authority having power to make the by-laws under this Bill to make such by-laws as are necessary. I cannot draw up an amendment to meet the point, but I hope the Minister will consider the matter and extend the necessary authority in some way.
I looked into this matter rather carefully. After going through the Bill I found it was not necessary to strengthen it in this particular way. On the Committee Stage of the Bill in the Dáil I think we improved the definition of a national monument by adding to the definition a provision that a monument should include the means of access thereto and also such portion of land adjoining such site as may be required for the preservation of the amenities thereof. From the prohibition clause in Section 14, which is very wide, it is quite obvious that we have power to prevent unsightly advertisements being erected in any place which is likely to interfere with the amenities of a national monument. A number of monuments would be under the care of the local authorities, and I think it would be inadvisable that we should interfere with them in whatever measures they may consider necessary for the preservation of the monuments. I think it would be inadvisable to accept the amendment, as it would only lead to confusion.
Agreed that Sections 19, 20 and 21 stand part of the Bill.
Sub-section (3). The persons appointed to be members of a local advisory committee may or may not, as the local authority shall think fit, be members of the local authority by whom they are appointed, but shall in every case be persons having practical experience or special knowledge of architecture, archæology or some kindred subject and shall hold office as such members for such period as shall be fixed by the local authority when appointing them.
Section 22, sub-section (3). Before the word "architecture" in line 17 to insert the words "or interest in."
I merely wish to repeat what I said on the previous occasion. I think it is desirable to make it easier for a local authority, say an urban district council, to appoint an advisory committee than would be the case under the section as drafted. Sub-section (3) provides that members of a local advisory committee shall be "persons having practical experience or special knowledge of architecture, archæology or some kindred subject." I do not think that one can say with any assurance that the average urban council contains within its radius more than two persons with a special knowledge of architecture, archæology, or kindred subjects. There may be some urban councils which would like to set up an advisory committee because there are two enthusiasts, but as there is not a third it would not be possible to set up such committee. I desire to make it possible that a person who has knowledge of cultural subjects may be appointed on such a committee.
I agree with that. I think it would be an improvement to the Bill.
Amendment agreed to.
Agreed that Section 22 stand part of the Bill.
(1) Every person who finds any archæological object shall, within fourteen days after he has found such object, make a report of such finding to a member of the Gárda Síochána on duty in the district in which such object was so found or the Keeper of Irish Antiquities in the National Museum, and shall when making such report state his own name and address, the nature or character of the said object and the time and place at which and the circumstances in which it was found by him, and shall also, and whether he has or has not made such report as aforesaid, and irrespective of the person to whom he has made such report (if any), give to any member of the Gárda Síochána or to the said Keeper on request any information within his knowledge in relation to such object or the finding thereof.
Section 23, sub-section (1). To add at the end of the sub-section the words:—"and shall permit any member of the Gárda Síochána or the said Keeper to inspect, examine or photograph such object."
Amendment agreed to.
Section 23. To add at the end of the section a new sub-section as follows:—
"(3) When a member of the Gárda Síochána has received a report from any person that he has found an archæological object the information so received shall be sent forthwith to the Keeper of Irish Antiquities in the National Museum."
The amendment is intended to fill what I think is a gap. Although the Minister or Parliamentary Secretary said that it is unnecessary, the point is that it is requisite for any person who finds an archæological object to report that fact to a member of the Gárda Síochána or the Keeper of Antiquities. The Minister assumes that the Gárda will in the ordinary course of duty report, and he considers therefore that it is unnecessary to make any provision in the Bill in regard to that. I am not convinced by that argument, for it seems to me that the Gárda ought to have some guidance in the Bill, or at least the Gárda ought to understand what is the intention of the legislature when a person has informed him of the finding of a certain object.
It may be said that the authorities of the Guards will give general instructions as to what is to happen, but I do not think that is satisfactory either. I think we should indicate in the Bill to the Gárda Síochána that when a certain object has been found and has been reported to them, what their duty should be. It may be a matter of practice, but it does not seem to me to be enough to trust to the authorities to inform the Civic Guards as to what they ought to do in any special circumstances, and to expect them, without any legal liability, to follow that direction. I think we ought to indicate the legal liability of the Civic Guards in the matter.
In the ordinary course the Civic Guards will be instructed to act precisely as Senator Johnson has indicated, but it is unusual, in fact I do not know if there is any precedent for prescribing by legislation the administrative functions or duties of Government officials, and there is no reason why we should depart from that precedent in this Bill any more than any other Bill. The higher officials of the Guards will know exactly how to instruct their men in the matter.
I am inclined to support Senator Johnson. I think the amendment is a good one, and I see no harm in it.
Amendment put and declared lost.
Question—"That Section 23, as amended, stand part of the Bill"— put and agreed to.
New Section. Before Section 24 to insert a new section as follows:—
"24. The Commissioners may with the consent of the Minister purchase any archæological object from the finder or owner thereof."
The Commissioners have this power already, and I merely give them power voluntarily to purchase any archæological object.
That has been decided before, but if you wish I shall put it to the House again.
The point we decided before was that it should not be competent for the Commissioners to acquire compulsorily, but now it is that the Commissioners should be authorised to acquire voluntarily. The object of the amendment is to enable them to acquire objects voluntarily and thereby enable them to have money for the purpose.
I think a recommendation to purchase would be better.
Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary would tell us whether there is already power to purchase in the hands of the Commissioners.
There is the power in the Keeper of Irish Antiquities. The Commissioners have no power at all under this Bill.
They could recommend, but that is not what is in the amendment.
Amendment put and declared lost.
Question proposed: "That Section 24 stand part of the Bill."
I would like to ask the Minister a question about this section. As I read the section and the definition of an archæological object, it seems to me that any person in possession of an archæological object is prevented from selling or exporting it without a licence? Is that what is really intended? I have a few chattels and many of my friends have articles which would come within the definition of archæological objects. Under the section are we prohibited from disposing of these things if we wish to do so for the purposes of export? Nearly everything of that sort in this country is exported at the present time. If you take up the newspapers you will notice advertisements of auctions at which such articles are to be sold. Would they come within this definition? Are the owners to be prohibited from exporting such articles? If so the section is, in my opinion, an exceedingly drastic one, under which individual liberties are interfered with.
The real trouble about it is this: who is to decide what is an archæological object?
An old Irish silver Georgian cup would come within the definition in this Bill. Is a private owner to be prevented from exporting that cup without a licence? I did not know that the Bill was so drastic.
However we will have an opportunity of dealing with it on the Report Stage. It is a very serious power to give.
I do not think this is an exceptional proposal. We know that in Italy they have prohibited the export of valuable pictures.
I think what has been stated applies to pictures but not to other articles. I bought beautiful pieces of silver there and brought them home. Under this Bill a person could not buy a piece of silver in Ireland and then export it without being liable to six months imprisonment.
The definition of what is archæological is very wide in the Bill and for that very reason it is very likely a court of law would be extremely tolerant in interpreting it. In any case it is the Minister for Education or the Keeper of Irish Antiquities who will decide whether an object is an archæological object or not. In actual practice there is no danger of an object of vertu or a valuable picture being prohibited. As a matter of fact I had an amendment down on the Committee Stage in the Dáil restricting the operation of this section somewhat, but it was knocked out. Even as it stands I do not think there is any danger of people being prohibited from exporting paintings, valuable furniture, Waterford glass, or anything of that kind.
I am assuming that what is intended with regard to archæological objects are those which have a peculiar and a particular interest, by virtue of their Irish association. I think the Bill might be too drastic if it applied to a person who bought something in Corinth, and who brought it to Ireland if he could not export it again.
But it seems to me, with reference to objects found within this country, that whatever value they have in the market should not appertain to the individual who found them, and if there is anything at all that has a value by virtue of its associations, which are not personal to the owner, it is an archæological object. Surely no one is going to assert in these days that the owner of an object of that kind whose whole value depends on its antiquity and its peculiar associations, has a right to turn that into money and sell it to America, China, South Africa or anywhere else, without regard to the national interest. If one is going to argue that personal saleable property reside in an object which has its value because of its antiquity, because of certain peculiarities, it seems to me we have lost all sense of social values and national life. Every country is interested in maintaining within its own borders those archæological objects which are of peculiar interest to that country. I think one of the greatest movements in England at present is the outery against the sale of everything of historical or antiquarian value to people, simply because they have money. I think the Seanad should stand strongly in favour of the proposition in this section.
I think Senator Guinness is unduly alarmed, because his Italian cups are quite safe under the Bill. It is clear from the terms of the Bill that he is at liberty to export them, which I hope he will not do. The Bill is a National Monuments Bill.
What about the Georgian cup that Senator Brown referred to?
I am only dealing with Senator Guinness at the moment as the Italian cups attracted my attention. The Bill is a National Monuments Bill and the monuments or archæological objects must have national associations. I think that would be the decision arrived at on the construction of that definition section. Moreover he has another safeguard because he can export his object on securing a licence from the Minister for Education. The Minister for Education is not going to refuse a licence for the sale of an object which has no national associations. Supposing that objects were bought in Austria, Spain or Italy and brought to this country and suppose they are in a collection, and that the owners wished to sell them abroad, I think if the Minister was asked for a licence he would give it under this Bill. I am also of opinion that in such a case a licence would not be necessary, because such objects would not be objects of national importance as distinct from international importance.
I am very much astonished to hear that there was a clause in the Bill which includes a penalty of six months' imprisonment and a fine of £50, and that it is being treated so casually by the Seanad. I agree that if Signor Mussolini was passing such a Bill in Italy one would expect such a clause to be there. But to put the Minister for Education in a position where he has to decide a matter which may mean six months' imprisonment for another person, seems to be legislation against any liberty in this country. The Bill deals with national monuments. There is a definition of what are archæological objects, but none of us really knows what the definition means, or who is to decide what is an archæological object. Is the new duty to be put on the Minister for Education? If the owner of an object, who may not have known it was an archæological object, exports it, the Minister may come along and say: "You had no right to export that object." The owner may then be brought before a court, and may be put in jail for six months. I think the Seanad should pause before passing the section. We are taking very casually the infliction of a fine and the imposition of new penalties. I think we should get rid of such things instead of putting them on. Here we are inventing a new crime, imposing a new penalty, and creating a new judge, all in five minutes, in a clause the meaning of which I did not realise. Most of us have things that, up to to-day, we thought we could give away, sell, or do what we like with. There is no definition in the Bill to enable me to say: "These are archæological objects, but I have no right to export them without a licence." I should say that there are many shops in Ireland and in Dublin where there are objects for sale which, if exported, might result in the owners being brought up and heavily fined. We should be very careful before imposing such penalties as are set out in sub-section (3). It is all very well to try to keep these objects at home. We are all in agreement with that but to inflict penalties at the option of the Minister for Education on anyone who gives such objects away or sells them out of the country without any knowledge that he is doing wrong is another question. We should consider it seriously before the Report Stage and see whether we could not modify the Bill so that people would get some notice of the risks they are running.
I suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that it would be a wise thing not to make the Minister for Education the judge of what is an archæological object but to refer it to the Keeper of the Museum, because it is really only that kind of art you want to keep in Ireland.
A few years ago an object of immense interest to this country, St. Senan's Bell, which belonged to a County Clare family, and which is now in the National Museum, was sent over to Christie's in London to be sold. It was a hereditary inheritance, having remained in the possession of one family for hundreds of years. Only for the patriotism of the late Mr. Panter that object of immense national interest to this country would have been lost to it. Mr. Panter bought the bell for £500 and gave it to the National Museum. I call that an act of patriotism. I think Senators are unduly alarmed. Of course, the Minister will have to refer to the Keeper of Irish Antiquities, and he will only decide to prevent the exportation of objects that are of real national importance.
The definition is very stringent. It says: "by reason of its antiquity has a value substantially greater than its intrinsic value." That would be the case with old silver. I think it is a very serious section.
It is intended to be a serious section.
Sections 24, 25, the Schedule and the Title agreed to.
Bill ordered to be reported.
Report Stage ordered for December 4.