Game Preservation Bill, 1929—Committee Stage (Resumed).

Debate resumed on amendment 24:—
In sub-section (4), line 42, after the word "selling" to insert the words "to the holder of game dealer's licence."—(Deputy O'Mahony.)

I was in possession when consideration of this amendment was adjourned last night. The fact of the matter is that I have very little further to say on this amendment.

I do not know whether this amendment has been accepted by the Minister.

I said it has not been. I said I was not in favour of it, but would leave it to the House to decide.

I desire to call attention to the very grave injustice that would be done to a small farmer or occupier who takes out a £2 licence and shoots a share of game on a Sunday and sends that game to be sold in the ordinary way with his farm produce. Of course we are going to allow nobody to buy game except those with a game dealer's licence. We are going to hand this business altogether to the middleman, and I think that is grossly unfair. I have in mind several small farmers in my constituency who have taken out a £2 licence and who shoot a share of game on their own and their neighbour's land.

And who have private customers.

Yes, they supply customers. It would be grossly unfair to hamper these people. If the Deputy is in earnest with his amendment, and if the Minister is anxious to preserve game, I will give them every assistance if they insert a clause absolutely preventing the shooting of partridge or pheasants for the next three years.

That is dealt with in another section of the Bill.

If we are going to carry on in this manner we will never succeed in preserving game properly.

I do not know if I am correctly following Deputy Corry because he seemed to be raising the whole question at issue not alone on this amendment but on other parts of the Bill, and that is: Is game to be preserved or not? Deputy Corry talks about the small farmers and occupiers of small holdings. There are in every county in Ireland two or three, and in the larger counties probably more, men who devote most of their time to shooting game. They get permission to shoot over a certain amount of land from the farmers owning the land. Sometimes they take permission where they have not got it. It would be almost impossible in a case where a man of that kind is selling game to prove on what land he shot it. These people go but to shoot partly because they enjoy shooting but mainly in order to fill their bag and incidentally fill their pockets. They will exterminate game in this country unless they are checked. We have to make up our minds to that.

That will be the position if the people whose advocate Deputy Corry seems to be are not checked. I have known some of these people to be in good positions. Very often they have a motor bicycle or a motor car, and they go around shooting. If these people are to be encouraged, then the game bird will become as extinct as the wolf or the eagle. Those people spend no money on game preservation, and you cannot have game unless money is spent upon preserving and encouraging it. Deputy Corry seems to think that particular type of person should be encouraged. The Deputy talked last night about this being a landlord's Bill. The only people who have preserved game and who spent money upon preserving it and who gave employment in trying to preserve it were the landlords in the past. It is because in many districts that the landlords have ceased to do so or have left the country that a Bill of this kind is necessary. If you are going to encourage the men who are not mostly small farmers and whom Deputy Corry is most anxious to help, you may as well not proceed with this Bill but rather repeal all the game laws and so allow game to become extinct.

Addressing myself to the amendment. I would like to point out to the Minister that if he resists it he really does a very substantial injustice to the people who have taken out game dealers' licences. If the individual who goes out shooting and who has permission to shoot over land is to go around hawking and peddling the game he has got from door to door, he has a great advantage over the man who takes out a game dealer's licence, who has to occupy specified premises, who has to pay rates and who has all the normal expenditure necessary for the upkeep of a commercial establishment. By resisting this amendment the Minister very much reduces the value of a game dealer's licence and I suppose it will not be issued for nothing and that some fee will be payable. The Minister by resisting the amendment also makes the path of the poacher more easy. It will be hard for the Civic Guard finding a man selling a hare or any game bird in a country town to prove that that game was not shot on land over which the man had a right to shoot game. If that man has to sell to the game dealer the dealer holding the licence will, for his own protection, make careful enquiry, far more careful and greater enquiry than if the man were to sell to somebody who would be putting the hare or the pheasant in the pot next day. I think the amendment strengthens the Bill and I would like the Minister to accept it.

If this amendment were accepted it might be hard on people who might want to sell duck or snipe or such birds except to a person who had a game dealer's licence. But if the amendment were to be limited to pheasants, woodcock, partridge, grouse and hares, I think it would meet the case. Everyone recognises that game in this country at present is practically extinct; unless something is done in some way to re-stock the country there will soon be no game left. Persons will go out at daylight in the morning and shoot what they like, and sell what they shoot to the first person who will buy it off them. There is no person who will be so foolish as to spend money on hatching eggs and stocking the country with game if the present conditions continue. I say without hesitation that pheasants are practically extinct, and so are partridges, in this country.

I have myself done a great deal of shooting, but I have not fired at a partridge for the past three seasons because there were none to fire at. A Game Protection Bill is of no use when there is no game to protect. We must begin now to stop the destruction of young birds that is going on, and if we offer a reward to persons who will bring in scald crows, magpies, and hawks, and those other things that are killing the young birds it will be a step in the right direction. The professional poachers have succeeded in leaving this country without any game. I say that the game shooting in the country is one of the biggest assets we have got, and it is for that reason I hope the Minister will do something to meet this particular amendment. I suggest that he accepts the amendment and limit it to pheasants, partridges, woodcock, grouse and also hares. It might be a hardship to extend it to duck or snipe. Snipe are very well able to look after themselves, because there are not so many people able to shoot them, and duck are migratory birds. I make that suggestion, and I hope the Minister will accept it.

The principal object of the amendment is not to inflict any hardship on the holder of the game licence at all. Its effect will be to prevent people who have no licence selling game to persons around the country where there can be no supervision or check. That is where the poacher always finds his market. He has not to come into the towns. The poachers try to sell game about the country. This amendment will inflict no hardship on anybody who has a licence. The object of the amendment is to deal with the fellow who has no licence at all.

Not at all. He must have a £2 licence.

What happened in the past was that people who had no licence or only a ten shilling licence sold game without coming into the towns where there was a licensed game dealer. That is one aspect of the case. We are up against the position where we want to build up a great national asset, and in the building up of that national asset we must inconvenience people. That cannot be helped. If you have the foundations laid you can then afford to relax, but before there is a proper stock of game in the country you must be rigid. Everybody who is anxious to see game made the valuable asset to the country that it ought to be must make a sacrifice. Somebody must put in the foundations, and somebody must lay down the stock, otherwise we will have no game. Anything that will discourage people who might lay down foundation stock is bad business. I would ask the Deputies and the Minister to view this thing in its broader aspect altogether, because we all owe a duty to the country in this matter. Game can be made a great national asset, and that is worth a considerable amount of trouble to the country. It is worth making a sacrifice for. We ought to view it from that angle.

I entirely agree with the general position which Deputy Gorey has put forward and on which Deputy Shaw has spoken. At the same time, as I said last night, I recognise that there is a good deal to be said on both sides of this particular question. But I would like the House and the country to understand what the section is as it stands and what the section will do when amended, because seemingly there is some misapprehension on the matter. The section means at present that nobody can sell game unless he has a £2 licence or unless he is a registered game dealer. The effect of this amendment would be that a person who has a £2 licence could shoot game on his own land or on the land over which he has a right to shoot, and, according to the amendment, he could sell that game to a game dealer and to nobody else. As the section stands he can sell that game to anybody he likes. That is the condition that obtains under the fishery laws at the present moment. As I pointed out already, people who have an opportunity of shooting a considerable quantity of game very often have got clubs to which they can dispose of the game. I can quite understand that there will be a game protection association, and that a game protection association and individual members of it might have a contract to supply a particular club or a particular hotel with game, and they would get a better price from that club or hotel than they could get if they were simply to sell it to a game dealer.

This person who takes out a £2 licence, and who wanders around the country trespassing and poaching in pursuit of game would, even under this amendment, still find a market for game, though his market would be a more restricted one no doubt, because he would be able to sell it only to a licensed game dealer. But I do not know that those persons who wander around the country shooting game get a better price by selling it to private individuals. Supposing you take any ordinary county in which somebody is poaching I think the number of persons in it who would give a better price than a game dealer would give would be extremely few indeed, and it would always be open to the man to sell to a game dealer. This is not a question, I think, as to whether the man who lives by shooting—the professional poacher, who is a most undesirable person—is to exist or is not to exist. That does not arise here at all. As I say, I recognise that there is a good deal to be said on both sides, but, on the whole, my own personal view is that it would be rather an undue restriction of the rights of the person who takes out a £2 licence if he could not dispose of the game he shoots.

It is because I am most anxious to see game preserved that I oppose this amendment. If those people who spoke in favour of it had the interests of the game at heart they would not press it. Take a small farmer, the person on whom, after all, in the finish we must rely to preserve the game. If you are going to prevent such a man who takes out a £2 licence, and who tries to sell enough game to pay for it, from selling his game to anyone but a game dealer, you will prevent him from taking out the £2 licence, but he will shoot the game in spite of you.

There is no game to shoot.

His 5/- licence will take him over his own land, and you cannot have a Civic Guard after his heels every day. You must make it to his interest to preserve the game. Deputy Cooper insinuated that the type of individual I was anxious to protect was not the smallholder but the poacher who has no land at all and who goes around shooting without permission from anybody. That was an unfair statement, and I think it should be withdrawn.

If I misunderstood Deputy Corry of course I withdraw. But if the Deputy does not know I and most other Deputies do know that there are a good many men in the country—not a large number, but perhaps 200 or 300—who spend most of their time going around shooting and who do not worry whether they get permission or not. They are not always small farmers; sometimes they are sons of shopkeepers. I have never known the small farmer to be a bad poacher or to kill any very large number of game, but I have known men of the description I have referred to who were. I am very glad that I misunderstood Deputy Corry, and I apologise.

I think Deputy Cooper can leave those gentlemen to the farmer. The farmer will not allow everybody in to shoot freely around his holding. Most farmers have not 400 or 500 acres on which a man can come in and shoot without their knowledge at all. If this House is anxious to preserve game the only way it can do so is to prohibit the shooting of partridge and pheasants for three or four years and give them a chance. I am prepared to support that any day of the week; but I do not want to see this Bill preserving game for the rich and for nobody else. That is what this amendment means.

I wish to support this amendment, because the more difficult it is to dispose of game the better the Bill will be, especially what might be called stolen game. Game that is shot where a man has no authority to shoot, even if he has a £2 licence, is practically stolen game, and by limiting the sale of game to a game dealer the dealer will have a list of the people from whom he has purchased, so that it will be very much easier for the Civic Guards to trace where the game has been shot. I think everything that restricts and makes it more difficult to dispose of poached game will improve the Bill.

The Minister referred to the present fishery laws. As far as I can understand the one flaw in the present fishery laws is that a man who takes out a salmon licence can net fish and can sell them, because the salmon licence permits him to sell them. It was because of that flaw in the fishery laws that I introduced this amendment. I fear that as long as an individual can take out a £2 licence he is at liberty to poach on anybody's land. After all, the whole idea of this Bill is to try to preserve game. It may mean a hardship on some people, I admit, but for the general good and for the efficient working of the Bill somebody must always suffer. I think that if this amendment were accepted it would really strengthen the Bill, but if the Minister cannot accept it I am willing to ask the permission of the House to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move:—

In sub-section (4), line 43, to delete the word "or" where it first occurs and at the end of the sub-section to add the words "or by any other holder of such certificate with his permission."

To my mind, this is perhaps a more important amendment. It offers none of the objections that Deputy Corry pointed out. As the sub-section stands there are three classes of holders of licences who might still be exempt from the provisions of the section—the man who kills game himself, the man who kills on his own land, and the man who kills on land over which he has a right to shoot. As it stands, all that it is necessary for a man to say when he goes to sell game is: "I shot this game myself." That offers the objection that it is not even necessary for the man to have the permission of the small or large farmer when he shoots game. I would like it to read : "This section shall hot apply to the holder of a licence selling game killed by himself on his own land or on land over which he has the right to shoot." But if we eliminate the word "or" and bring about the state of affairs that I should like to see, we create a new difficulty, because the sub-section would then prevent the owner of the land, who is not perhaps a sportsman himself and who did not shoot, from selling game himself. That is why I put down the words: "or by any other holder of such certificate with his permission." If that is incorrectly drafted, perhaps the Minister grasps the meaning of what I intend and would accept it. Anyhow, what I do intend is to prevent a man, even if he is the holder of a £2 licence, selling game without specifying, or perhaps being bound to specify, that he had permission to shoot the game. It does not create the difficulty that Deputy Corry saw in the last amendment, because, as he said on the last amendment, perhaps the poor man or the small farmer who shot game, and who might have a few customers here and there, even by post, could not sell his game. But this does not create that difficulty at all; it creates the difficulty that the man must only have permission from somebody to shoot somewhere. If he has not land himself he must get permission to shoot on somebody else's land. It only prevents a man from shooting on lands over which he has no permission to shoot.

I have no objection to accepting the amendment put forward by the Deputy. What this section is meant to convey is that no one can sell game except the holder of a £2 licence, and he can only sell game which has been shot by himself or by somebody who is a guest or who has been authorised by him to shoot. Deputy Bennett pointed out that to a certain extent there might be a flaw in that which would enable a poacher legally to sell game, but as far as it goes I am willing to accept the amendment. I would like to have it re-drafted and to bring in an amendment to this effect.

Does the Minister wish to have this amendment withdrawn?

Yes, and I will put in an amendment to the same effect. I think there will have to be an alteration in the wording.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On behalf of Deputy Buckley, I move:

To add at the end of sub-section (4) the words "nor shall it prohibit the disposal by sale or otherwise of hares killed at coursing matches."

I do not know if the amendment as worded fits into the section, but the Deputy's idea was that it might be possible that hares killed in coursing matches could not be disposed of or sold under the Bill.

I understand from authorities on Irish coursing that in fact when hares are killed by greyhounds at coursing matches they are not sold. It looks to me to be making the thing rather unsporting and making it a financial business to go out and kill a hare and then want the value in cash. I understand that the Irish coursing people do not like that.

As a matter of fact when hares are killed at coursing matches they are disposed of on the ground. Some are presented to the winners, and people in low funds are very glad to get a few pounds for half a dozen or a dozen fresh hares. It is usual to do that.

I have seen them auctioned.

Would they be permitted to do so under this Bill, unless there is an amendment of this kind inserted?

The amendment is all right.

If coursing people wish it I have no objection. I am afraid I took too high-minded a view of the spirit which animates coursing people. If they wish to dispose of hares killed in that fashion I have no objection to the amendment.

Amendment put and agreed to.
Question—"That Section 16, as amended, stand part of the Bill"— put and agreed to.
Section 17 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
SECTION 18.

I move:—

To add at the end of the section a new sub-section as follows:—

"No person shall sell, expose for sale, or keep for sale, any species of game during the annual close season fixed for such species of game, except for a period of five days from the date on which the close season commences. Any person who shall sell, expose for sale, or keep for sale, any game in contravention of this sub-section shall be guilty of an offence under this sub-section, and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof, in the case of a first offence, to a fine not exceeding twenty pounds, and, in the case of a second or any subsequent offence, to a fine not exceeding fifty pounds, or, at the discretion of the court, to imprisonment for any term not exceeding three months or to both such fine and imprisonment. Any person who shall buy any game from any person selling the same in contravention of this section shall be guilty of an offence, and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding ten pounds."

I consider the object of this amendment very important, and I think it is obviously connected with the spirit of the Bill. As far as I can see only one objection could possibly be urged against it, and that is that it would prevent the sale of birds either killed out of season in any country or killed in season during the close season in this country; but I think such an objection is a small matter, and could not be weighed against the obvious advantage of prohibiting the sale of game birds during the close season. In the amendment I have suggested a period of five days from the date on which the close season commences, in order that stocks on hand might be disposed of. I do not think there is any need to say any more, as the wording of the amendment shows what is really required.

This is a rather difficult amendment because it is one on which there is a good deal to be said on both sides. I think everybody would be in agreement if you could prohibit the sale to a game dealer, or the sale by an ordinary person if yon like, of game within five days. But it is a matter of common knowledge that a great number of birds are kept for a considerable period upon ice. For instance, a bird might be shot on 12th August and it might not be eaten until January having, in the meantime spent the time on ice. I do not really know what attitude hotel proprietors would have towards this amendment. Looking at it from the point of view of game preservation, and from the point of view of the epicure—if I should call a person who eats game off ice an epicure—it is undesirable. I would have no objection to the amendment being inserted though I can see that various persons might feel strongly against it.

I was rather surprised from time to time at the manner in which the Minister dealt with various matters that were brought on on the adjournment and otherwise. I know the reason now. If he eats birds that were killed on 12th August in the following January, that is the reason.

The only difference the amendment might make is that it might operate detrimentally towards live game that would be in people's possession as stock birds. When the season closes might be the time when birds are imported and that might inflict a hardship. If it meant dealing with game dead at the beginning of the close season it would be all right, but if it interfered in any way with the transit or with the keeping of live birds it would be a different matter altogether. In that way the amendment ought to be examined very carefully before being accepted. I do not know what the effect will be. I am not able to size up the full implications, but I think it is quite possible that it could be made very annoying. As it reads it would mean dead or live game, and there should be a distinction.

The amendment refers only to dead game. It has nothing to do with live game.

Let that be made clear.

If the Deputy withdraws the amendment I will put down one. There is probably a good deal in what Deputy Gorey says.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 18 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Amendment 28 not moved.
Question proposed: That Section 19 stand part of the Bill.

I would like to ask the Minister whether there would be any provision for appeal in the case of a game dealer's licence being revoked?

Of course; it will be an ordinary conviction in the District Court, and there will be the ordinary appeal from the District to the Circuit Court.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 20, 21 and 22 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
SECTION 23.
(5) Every person who exports or attempts to export any partridge, pheasant or grouse in contravention of this section shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof, in the case of a first offence, to a fine not exceeding ten pounds, and, in the case of a second or any subsequent offence, to a fine not exceeding twenty-five pounds.
(6) Any officer of Customs and Excise may detain and seize any partridge, grouse or pheasant being or attempted to be exported in contravention of this section, and for that purpose may open any packet containing or suspected by him of containing any such partridge, grouse or pheasant, and the provisions of the Customs Regulations Act, 1876, in relation to the disposal of goods seized under that Act shall apply to all partridges, grouse and pheasants seized under this Act in like manner as if they had been seized under that Act.

I move amendment 29:—

To add at the end of sub-section (1) the words "During the continuation of the prohibition against the exportation of pheasants, the permission to export referred to in this sub-section may be granted by the Superintendent of the Gárda Síochána for the district in which the person resides on or after the first day of January in each year."

The object of this amendment is that persons or syndicates who have large shoots go to considerable expense in laying down birds, and they should know in what position they are right from the start. It might be argued that there is nothing in the original section to prevent the Gárda Síochána granting permission on or after the 1st January, which is all that is really required. But I wish to draw the attention of the Minister to this matter, and I will be quite satisfied if he will undertake to give proper instructions to the Superintendent of the Gárda Síochána with regard to this matter.

I understand that what the Deputy means by this is: For instance, a person is thinking as to whether he will lay down a very large stock of pheasants for a particular year, and he wants to know whether he will be allowed to shoot. If he is not allowed he will not hatch out pheasants, or only hatch out a very few. He wants to know whether he will put down his eggs or whether he will be allowed a day or two days' shooting. I think as the Bill stands he can get permission.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
The following amendments were on the Order Paper:—
30. To delete sub-section (5) (Aire Dlí agus Cirt).
31. In sub-section (6), page 9, line 46, to delete the word "Regulations" and substitute the word "Consolidation" (Aire Dlí agus Cirt).
32. In sub-section (6), page 9, line 46, before the word "disposal" to insert the words "condemnation and" (Aire Dlí agus Cirt).

These amendments are for the purpose of bringing in the Customs Consolidation Act. I am not exactly satisfied that even with these amendments the purpose desired would be achieved, so I would ask the House for leave to withdraw these three amendments. I will delete two of these sub-sections, and on the Report Stage bring in some other section which shall make the matter perfectly clear that the Customs Consolidation Act will apply. It is purely a drafting matter.

Amendments not moved.
Question—"That Section 23 stand part of the Bill"—put and agreed to.
SECTION 24.
(1) It shall not be lawful for any person to burn or otherwise destroy between the 1st day of April and the 14th day of July (both days inclusive) in any year any gorse, furze, whin, heath, fern or greg-ling growing on any lands not then cultivated or in course of cultivation.

I move amendment 33:—

In sub-section (1), line 63, to delete the word "April" and substitute the word "March."

I put in this amendment because I consider that the first of April is too late. Large numbers of game birds and several other birds have been hatching during the month of April and in this particular season which is exceptionally dry vast damage was done owing to the wholesale burning of gorse and furze. I do not know if the 1st March would be too early but certainly the 1st April is too late. I would be interested to know the views of other Deputies on the subject.

On this particular period I myself have got no very definite views because I do not personally know yery much about what is the correct period for the burning of heather. These dates were inserted in the Bill after consultation with the Game Protection Association and after getting the views of various gentlemen interested in shooting and agriculture who were rather authorities. They were by no means unanimous, but this appears to have had the greatest volume of support. It is a matter on which any Deputy who has views should express them.

I agree with Deputy Shaw that the 1st April is too late. Any burning that is necessary to be done is done before the 31st March. I have had experience like him this year.

It is not correct to say that any burning that wants to be done can be done before the 31st March. Very often February is a wet month. It requires a March wind to dry up furze before it can be burned. I should say that a date fixed before the middle of March would be too early.

I am not a sufficient authority about hatching. I think it ought to be easily ascertained from authorities, from naturalists and from other people interested in game societies if there is any game laying their eggs in the month of March. I am not so sure of that. I am ready to hear any authority on the matter. I do not know of my own knowledge but I know that what Deputy Brennan said is right, that a lot of burning which has to be done cannot be done before the 31st of March. The March wind is a dry one which enables that kind of rubbish, furze and gorse to be burned. It will not burn if it is wet. I think you might inflict a hardship on the occupiers without doing any good. If someone with authority says it ought to be I am quite ready to accept, it but in the absence of that I would not. I think you ought to be cnreful. I think wet grass which you want to burn cannot be burned in the month of March as a rule.

I agree with Deputy Brennan that it is necessary for people who want sheep grazing on the mountains to do this burning and they cannot do it as a rule before the month of March. I think these people must be given consideration, and consideration must also be given to what Deputy Gorey says that there is no proof, from the point of view of saving game, that it is necessary to prevent burning in the month of March.

Amendment by leave withdrawn.

I move amendment 34:—

Before sub-section (2), on page 10, to insert a new sub-section as follows:—

"(2) Nothing in this section shall be construed as applying to or rendering unlawful the cutting or grubbing of isolated bushes or clumps of gorse, furze, or whin in the ordinary course of good husbandry or the mowing of any fern in the like course of good husbandry."

As this section stands it would be impossible to destroy any gorse or heather except during these periods. If a person is tilling a field or reclaiming land it is obvious that he should be able to destroy bushes growing here and there.

Amendment put and agreed to.
Question—"That Section 24 as amended stand part of the Bill"— put and agreed to.
SECTION 25.

I move amendment 35:—

To insert before sub-section (6) a new sub-section as follows:—

"Every package, containing game of any kind offered for conveyance through the post or by any railway or by any other means of transport shall have the word `game' written thereon and also the name and address of the sender."

and in sub-section (6), line 24, before the word "shall" to insert the words "or shall fail to comply with the provisions of the foregoing sub-section."

Reading through the section it occurred to me that the detection of game, if it is a closed packet, will be very difficult. If the onus is put upon the sender of the game to put his name and address upon the packet and to mark it game it will make it easier for the Civic Guards and for everybody else, and a good deal of trouble will be avoided. It will also preserve the game, because when these packages are opened in the Post Office, or in transit, they may not be as carefully packed up as they were by the sender, and are likely to become damaged. They may come under the provisions of the Dead Meat Bill in not reaching the market in a good condition. I think this amendment is very necessary.

I am willing to accept the spirit of the Deputy's amendment. I think, however, the wording of it will have to be slightly altered, because "every package containing game of any kind offered for conveyance through the post or by any railway or by any other means of transport" is terribly wide. If you ask somebody to bring your game home in his cart, It would come under these words. I think "through the post or sent by rail" is what the Deputy means. I see that there is some slight difficulty about it. It will be very difficult to get the provisions known to persons sending game, and a great number of them will break the law through inadvertence for some time. I will accept the Deputy's amendment, but I would like to have it re-drafted.

I expect the Minister means packages leaving the country and not coming into it.

Packages sent by post, out of the country or inside the country.

You might have anything you like in them then.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Ordered: That Section 25 stand part of the Bill.
SECTION 26.
Any holder of a firearm certificate the excise duty on which is two pounds may require any person whom he finds carrying a shotgun to produce for the inspection of such holder and to permit such holder to inspect and read the firearm certificate authorising such person to carry such shotgun and if such person fails or refuses to produce such last-mentioned firearm certificate or fails or refuses to permit such holder to inspect and read such firearm certificate such person shall (unless he satisfies the Court that the carrying by him of such shotgun without having a firearm certificate authorising him so to do was in the circumstances not unlawful) be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding five pounds.

I move amendment 26:—

In line 29, after the word "shotgun" to insert the words "on lands other than those owned by such person."

I put in this, amendment to clear the air with regard to whether a person holding a game licence could enter on the lands of another person and give as an excuse that he had a game licence. I think it would be a good thing if the Minister would explain the position, as some people seem to be under the impression that they can do so.

I am clear as the Bill stands there is no authority given to trespass on anybody else's land. The insertion of these words, if there is any doubt about it, can do no harm, and I will accept the amendment.

Amendment put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 26, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

I would like to move the omission of this section altogether. I think it will create very bad feeling throughout the country, and will not lead to the preservation of game. This section provides that any individual who has a £2 licence can go in, as Deputy Shaw said, on another man's land.

He could in one way; he could pretend to the owner of the land that he did not know it was preserved and he could hold up anybody he met and demand from him his £2 licence, anybody he saw carrying a gun, no matter where he met him. I think the section will not lead to the preservation of game. There are many farmers holding lands on two sides of a road, and if a man is crossing from one part of his land to another a gentleman with a £2 licence could hold him up and ask him if he had a £2 licence and perhaps summon him. Instead of leading to the preservation of game, it would lead to people turning on those who hold game licences. It is creating a new body in the country, an addition, I might say, to the C.I.D., if individuals are allowed to go around and hold up other people for the production of their licences. It will get those who hold 5/- licences up against those who hold £2 licences.

The Deputy talks about new principles. There is no principle here. There is an old principle which goes back a very long way, when the holder of a £3 licence could demand from anybody else if he had a £3 licence, if he saw him shooting game. It is not the creation of a new principle; it is the carrying on of a principle which has been in existence for many years.

I agree with the Minister. At the same time, this is a survival of one of the worst features of the old Game Laws in Great Britain. I welcomed this Bill on its introduction. As the Minister drafted the Bill, I think it was fairly acceptable to every member of this House, but as we have proceeded into the Committee Stage, we find that the very worst features of the old Game Preservation Acts in Britain have been introduced. No later than last evening, the Minister accepted the designation of rabbits as game. It has been the boast of every Irish sportsman that Ireland was a sportsman's paradise, and that the ordinary workingman could go out on a Sunday with his brace of dogs and course a rabbit. Henceforward that will not be so if this Bill passes into law. I welcomed the Bill at the very outset, but I intend to oppose it and vote against it in its next stages. I consider that, as it has proceeded through this House, it has become most reactionary, and has harped back to the very worst features of the old British Game Laws.

In this very section, you suggest what is embodied in the British Game Laws, that the holder of an Excise licence could hold up another sportsman and demand to see his licence. I agree that it is no new thing, but it is comparatively new for Irishmen to be making their own laws, and when the Minister suggests that he is going to embody in this Bill a feature that was condemned by many English sportsmen, it is, as Deputy Corry has said, making a new C.I.D. force. There is a good deal in that. I do not always agree with Deputy Corry, but in this matter, at any rate, I am agreed that it is creating a new C.I.D. force. I would ask the Minister if he has any regard for the spirit of fair play or the spirit of democracy to leave this section out altogether.

The Deputy was very indignant in denouncing this section. He has denounced it without any reason. He has not stated why it is bad or pointed out anything objectionable in it. He has simply flung so much vitriolic cloquence at the section. What is there wrong in it?

It is quite obvious.

We want to preserve game and to see that unlicensed persons shall not shoot game. I cannot see why a person who has a firearms certificate should object to producing it. Anything that checks people going out and shooting without a £2 licence is highly desirable. If you have a game protection association, which has a gamekeeper who holds a licence, and some person comes in and he asks him for his licence——

This does not say a gamekeeper.

Anybody who holds a licence. I am just taking one example of what would happen—I suppose about the only one which would happen, because it is somebody in a position like a gamekeeper who would demand the licence from such a person. I think it is a helpful provision and one that would stop a great deal of this, and I cannot see that it is any infringement of the liberty of the subject.

The Minister has not dealt with the point made at all. For instance, if Deputy Gorey goes out on his farm with a gun on a Sunday and one of these "jackeens" comes up to him and demands his licence, I can imagine the reply that Deputy Gorey would give him. I can imagine the breach of the peace that would occur, or, perhaps, the continued absence of the Deputy from this Chamber. I know what I would do myself—I would be more inclined to give him the contents of the gun than to show my licence. I am quite frank in that.

What about putting the halter on him?

I do not think this section is going to help to preserve game. It one of these "jackeens" comes up and demands his licence from the occupier of a holding, I know what the result will be. The man will probably on his way home shoot whatever he may meet, whether game or not. He will not leave much for that gentleman the next time he comes out. I think this is creating a new C.I.D. force which would not lead to peace in this country or to the preservation of game. It is definitely against it.

I hope Deputies will approach this question apart from class interest—that they will approach it in the interest of the propagation of game in the country. I can see that this section could be made very annoying. On the other hand, we have to look at it from the other point of view, that the Gárda Síochána will not be sufficient to afford anything like adequate protection for game. A number of Gárdai who have to cover a district five miles square will not be able to do it effectively. If we are going to have game clubs, this is only the foundation for the development of such clubs. If you do anything to curtail the powers of such clubs and individuals interested in game preservation and make it entirely dependent on the Gárda Síochána you will be doing a very wrong thing. The section could be only made annoying in very isolated cases, because we are not breeding in this country so plentifully that type of "puppy" that we need be alarmed about it. We may have a few isolated cases of persons who would be annoying but these can be dealt with.

We ought to approach, it in the larger aspect and do nothing to hamper the operations of the new Bill, or scheme, or both, which must be introduced to give effect to this Bill. You must have a new scheme for the preservation and propagation of game and the formation of game societies. You must divide the country up into small districts and anything that would bring about proper supervision, and I think this section will do that, is not the evil that Deputies anticipate. It has not been nor is it likely to be and I think the balance of argument is altogether in favour of retaining this section, at least for a few years.

Was this ever carried out?

Yes, I have carried it out myself.

On your own land?

Yes, and on other people's land. I have had prosecutions and I did prosecute. Some Deputy says "shame" but there is no shame about it. That is the only spirit that is really good for the country, a spirit that is not afraid of doing the right thing regardless of popularity. I would much prefer that this section should be retained.

There is no doubt the Civic Guard cannot possibly cope with poachers in certain districts. I am acquainted with a certain district and apart from vermin the greatest menace to game preservation is what I might call the motor bandit—the gentleman who drives up in a motor car, leaves the car standing by the side of the road; goes for half an hour or an hour into a bog; comes back and drives away. The nearest Civic Guard barrack is about eight miles away. How can the Civic Guards cope with a state of affairs like that? It is impossible and it is hardly fair to expect them to do so; it would in fact be absurd. The method provided by this section is the only method I can see whereby game can be preserved and whereby the legitimate owners of game can have some means at their disposal of coping with this state of affairs. I do not see how it can be abused or how it should be abused, and that is why I strongly support this section.

Deputy Redmond alluded to motor bandits. In my opinion—and I do not think anyone will disagree with me — motor bandits always carry a £2 licence.

No, they do not.

Yes, they do, and these are the very gentlemen that would drive into a man's land and ask to see his £2 licence, and would offer a very strong temptation to a man to be left on the land for good. I think in these cases we can very safely leave it to the occupiers of the land themselves and to the gamekeepers and to the coursing clubs to look after the game. They will look after the game of the district without any of this new C.I.D. force trotting round after them which would only cause trouble.

Question put—"That Section 26 as amended stand part of the Bill"—put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 56; Níl, 53.

  • Aird, William P.
  • Beckett, James Walter.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Blythe, Ernest.
  • Bourke, Séamus A.
  • Brennan, Michael.
  • Brodrick, Seán.
  • Byrne, John Joseph.
  • Carey, Edmund.
  • Cole, John James.
  • Collins-O'Driscoll, Mrs. Margt.
  • Cooper, Bryan Ricco.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Craig, Sir James.
  • Crowley, James.
  • Daly, John.
  • Doherty, Eugene.
  • Dolan, James N.
  • Doyle, Peadar Seán.
  • Duggan, Edmund John.
  • Egan, Barry M.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Thos. Grattan.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Gorey, Denis J.
  • Hassett, John J.
  • Heffernan, Michael R.
  • Hennessy, Thomas.
  • Hennigan, John.
  • Henry, Mark.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Galway).
  • Holohan, Richard.
  • Kelly, Patrick Michael.
  • Law, Hugh Alexander.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • Mathews, Arthur Patrick.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • Mongan, Joseph W.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Myles, James Sproule.
  • Nally, Martin Michael.
  • Nolan, John Thomas.
  • O'Connell, Richard.
  • O'Connor, Bartholomew.
  • O'Donovan, Timothy Joseph.
  • O'Mahony, Dermot Gun.
  • O'Reilly, John J.
  • O'Sullivan, Gearóid.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Redmond, William Archer.
  • Reynolds, Patrick.
  • Roddy, Martin.
  • Shaw, Patrick W.
  • Sheehy, Timothy (West Cork).
  • Thrift, William Edward.
  • Wolfe, George.
  • Wolfe, Jasper Travers.

Níl

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Allen, Denis.
  • Anthony, Richard.
  • Blaney, Neal.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Boland, Patrick.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Broderick, Henry.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Cassidy, Archie J.
  • Clancy, Patrick.
  • Clery, Michael.
  • Colbert, James.
  • Colohan, Hugh.
  • Cooney, Eamon.
  • Corish, Richard.
  • Corry, Martin John.
  • Crowley, Tadhg.
  • Davin, William.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Doyle, Edward.
  • Everett, James.
  • Fahy, Frank.
  • French, Seán.
  • Gorry, Patrick J.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Hayes, Seán.
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Jordan, Stephen.
  • Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
  • Kent, William R.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • MacEntee Seán.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Mullins, Thomas.
  • Murphy, Timothy Joseph.
  • O'Dowd, Patrick Joseph.
  • O'Kelly, Seán T.
  • Powell, Thomas P.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick J.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Sexton, Martin.
  • Sheehy, Timothy (Tipperary).
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Tubridy, John.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Duggan and P.S. Doyle; Níl, Deputies Anthony and Corry.
Question, declared carried.
Sections 27, 28, and 29 agreed to and added to the Bill.

FIRST SCHEDULE.

ANNUAL CLOSE SEASONS.

Classes of Game.

Annual Close Season.

Pheasant and partridge

From the 1st day of February to the 30th day of September, both days inclusive.

Snipe, woodcock and plover and mallard, teal, widgeon, and other species of wild duck

From the 1st day of March to the 11th day of August, both days inclusive.

Hares

From the 1st day of April to the 30th day of September, both days inclusive.

Grouse

From the 10th day of December to the 11th day of August, both days inclusive.

I move amendment 37:—

In the second column to delete the words "Snipe, woodcock and" and to insert at the end of the Schedule in the appropriate columns the words:—

Snipe and Woodcock

From the 1st day of March to the 30th day of September, both days inclusive.

Before the Deputy moves his amendment, I wish to point, out that there is an error in it as it appears on the Order Paper. It should read: "In the first column" instead of "in the second column."

Mr. Boland

The purpose of the amendment is to extend the close season for snipe and woodcock to the 30th September. In the case of snipe and migratory birds coming into this country for the winter season, they may not come, according to the weather conditions prevailing, sooner than the 1st October. It is possible that they may not come until the middle of October, or even until November. Therefore, I think it is desirable that the Schedule should be amended in the direction that I suggest.

I desire to support the amendment. It is well known, as Deputy Boland has said, that most foreign birds do not come in until about the 1st October. Snipe, particularly home-bred snipe, are as a rule very immature until late in the season. When grouse shooting, I have seen wee snipe not able to fly. I think it is desirable that this amendment should be accepted.

As far as shooting is concerned, I do not think that this amendment is of any importance. The snipe to be found in this country can, I think, be divided into three classes. You have first what is called the home snipe, that is the snipe that you see in August. These all leave the country about August, and I believe they migrate to Egypt. Then you have what are called the Scotch snipe. These have been reared in Scotland. They come in here on their way further south, and, approximately, spend the month of September in this country. The foreign snipe come in rouyhly about October, and spend the rest of the winter here. As far as snipe and woodcock shooting in this country is concerned, I do not think that the amendment is of any substantial assistance, but as far as snipe-shooting in Egypt is concerned, it is a most valuable amendment indeed. If the Deputy is keen on snipe-shooting in Egypt, and since his amendment does no substantial harm to this country, I am prepared to accept it, though I think it would be better if the date, the 1st September, were agreed on rather than the 1st October, which the Deputy seeks to have inserted. I should like to know from the Deputy if the 1st September would satisfy him.

I think it is a good amendment as far as woodcock is concerned. I know that the opinion is generally held that home-bred woodcock do go away about the middle of August and come back very often in December. There are a good many people who hold that opinion, and who are supported in their opinion to a certain extent by those who have woodcock ringed. I know that happens in the Co. Sligo, though I know anything might happen in the County Mayo. The amendment will do no harm. It will make poaching more difficult, and will prevent the killing of immature home-bred birds.

I am of the opinion myself that the 1st September would be the better date, but as Deputy Boland has a preference for the 1st October, I have no objection.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment 38:—"In the second column opposite the word `hares' in the first column, to delete the word `April' and substitute the word `March.' "

In moving this amendment, I wish to say that I know that in the month of March young hares through the country are frequently gobbled up by packs of harriers and greyhounds. I think that there is common agreement amongst sportsmen that this amendment, should go through. As far as I know there will be no objection to it.

On another amendment we discussed this question at some length yesterday. As Deputies will see, there is an amendment standing in my name to the effect that the words "eighteenth day of March" should be inserted this to be the date of the close season. A similar amendment stands in the name of Deputy Shaw. As I stated yesterday, that date has been agreed upon after discussion of the matter with the Irish Coursing Club. Their view is that the 18th March would be the more satisfactory date. Therefore, I take it that that date is an agreed date.

My name is also to the amendment before the House. I take a slightly opposite view to that of Deputy Ruttledge and Deputy Anthony, and of the Irish Coursing Club. I think that this amendment, as well as amendments 41 and 42, might be taken together. The object aimed at is that the coursing season proper should end on the 1st March, but that where the Irish Coursing Club gives permission, meetings might be held up to the 17th or 18th March. In that case only could the open season be extended to that date. It is also suggested that permission be given to licensed harrier clubs to carry on until the 1st April. The Committee has already disposed of a section giving permission for that. I say that if you extend the open season until the 18th March, then everybody as well as the Coursing Club can avail of the Act. The position will be that you will have dogs of every description, mongrels, young greyhounds, sheep dogs, terriers, and all the rest out poaching when they should not be out, because, as everyone knows, that is the time of the year when we have a lot of young hares and a number of doe hares carrying young, and when they are not able to get away. I have seen that happen in England and in Ireland. In my opinion, the open season should end definitely on the 1st March, with the proviso that the Minister should he placed in the position to be able to give permission to the Irish Coursing Club to sanction the holding of meetings up to the 18th March or 19th March in the case of clubs affiliated with it that apply for permits. That would be, I think, an ideal solution of the difficulty. I think it would be the proper way to do it.

It would mean redrafting an amendment of yesterday. However, that is only a technical point, substituting the 1st for the 18th of March in that amendment. Deputy Anthony has an amendment excepting the case where the Irish Coursing Club has received a permit, but he does not suggest from whom they should receive the permit. That is left in the air.

From the competent authority.

Who is the competent authority?

The Minister for Justice.

He would have to be made the competent authority by this Act. If the Deputy wishes to press for the 18th March I have no objection.

In my amendment, No. 42, I also have not mentioned who the competent authority should be, but with the permission of the House I suggest it should be the Minister for Justice.

On representations being made by the Irish Coursing Club to the Minister.

Does the Deputy mean that it is to be automatic—that the Irish Coursing Club should have privileges nobody else has up to a certain date?

The Minister must remember that all recognised Irish coursing clubs are affiliated with the Irish Coursing Club. If any of them wanted to hold a coursing meeting after the date specified in the Act they should apply to the Irish Coursing Club, who in turn would apply to the Minister, who on reasons shown may grant the permit.

That may mean in most cases it would be refused and in an odd case granted.

I wish to be clear about this——

The Deputy has not time to be clear about it now, as there are only a couple of minutes to go.

I would appeal to the House to allow a few extra minutes so as to finish this Stage.

I think Deputy Anthony and Deputy Gorey might put their heads together and bring in an amendment on the Report Stage, if they come to an agreement.

While from the beginning I have been anxious to see this Bill expedited, at the same time I object to Private Members' time being encroached upon in regard to it.

It will only take five minutes more to dispose of the Committee Stage.

If I raise an objection, according to Standing Orders, the Committee Stage cannot further be proceeded with.

The Dáil went out of Committee.
Progress reported.