Fisheries Bill, 1937—Second Stage.

I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time. Under the 1925 Fisheries Act, there was a provision which enabled boards of conservators to levy a rate on the fisheries within their areas. The local authority was, of course, in turn deprived of the proceeds of that rate. There was a further provision in the Act which said that where local authorities, in order to recover what was lost to them, if they had to levy more than a penny rate over their areas, then the Fisheries Vote should carry the difference between what the loss was and what the penny rate would bring in. That, of course, was put into the 1935 Act so as to assure the local authorities that there would be at least some limit to the losses they might sustain under that Act. Now, that particular provision has cost the State in or about £3,000 a year. That is the return to the local authorities of the amount in excess of what the penny rate would bring in.

That provision was continued two years ago also. First of all, it was a ten-year provision, from 1925 to 1935, and two years ago, when the question of its extension came up for discussion, I asked the Dáil to wait until we would have this major Fisheries Bill drafted. Now, however, I am informed by the legal people that it is not appropriate to the major Act but to a separate Act, and accordingly I am bringing in this provision again and asking the Dáil for authority to continue it for 12 years more. That period of 12 years is chosen so as to give time for the major Act to become operative, and also to give time to enable us to see what would be the experience of the working of that Act, and to see if we would be justified, at the end of that period, in continuing this provision. Undoubtedly, it has had a very good effect up to the moment. I think everybody, on all sides of the House, who take an interest in fisheries, will admit that since 1925 the protection of fisheries has been very much improved. That was possible because the conservators were getting an assured income from this source, to which I have referred, and I think it would be a great pity to deprive them of that source of income at this stage, or, indeed, for a long time to come, and that we should in fact say to them that we will continue this system for another 12 years, thereby giving them security to carry on whatever measures are being taken for the protection of fisheries so that there should be no slackening in that effort. Therefore, I am asking the Dáil to continue the provision referred to for 12 years more, and the Dáil can then reconsider it.

I should like to know from the Minister, Sir, whether this provision does everything in respect of the encouragement of hatcheries or the supervision thereof.

Well, that comes into it indirectly, because, naturally, if they have money to spend, they can spend it on that as well as on everything else.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for this day week.