FISHERIES BILL, 1923—(FROM THE DAIL).

Message from the Dáil:—"The Dáil disagrees with the altered amendment made by the Seanad to the Fisheries Bill, 1923."
Amendment made by Seanad:—
Section 8.—To insert after this Section a new Section 9 as follows—
"9.—Save and except in any case in which the Executive is satisfied that there has been a miscarriage of justice, no penalty inflicted under this Act shall be reduced or remitted save on the recommendation of the Justice who imposes such penalty or of the Appeal Court in the event of an Appeal, and any recommendation for such reduction or remission shall be made at the same time as the penalty is imposed or the conviction confirmed."

On this subject I have a resolution to put before the Seanad. Perhaps I had better read it, and then develop the reasons why I recommend it to the Seanad for adoption. It is as follows:—

"That in view of the statement made by the Minister for Fisheries on the 20th September, 1923, that a larger Bill will be introduced before the next close season which will recodify the whole Fishery Law, and that the Seanad can, on the introduction of this Bill, if it still deems it necessary, re-affirm the provision embodied in their amendment proposed to the Fishery Bill of 1923, and, being of opinion that it is expedient that in the meantime that the provisions of the last-mentioned Bill should be put in force, the Seanad does not insist on the said amendment."

Senators who recollect our debates on this matter will, I have no doubt, be rather astonished at my bringing forward such a proposal now. In doing so I thought it wise to read very carefully the whole of our debates and the debates that took place in the Dáil on this Bill. If the Seanad will bear with me a little I will go through the various notes which I have made, and which, when one looks through them, seem all to point to a conclusion such as is embodied in my resolution. I shall have to refer to my notes because I wish to be very accurate and particular in what I say. I hold that when any difference of opinion arises between the Seanad and the Dáil each House should be very careful of the feelings of the other House, and should give every weight to what has happened there in forming a decision on a subject. That is why I wish to draw the attention of Senators particularly to the short history of what happened.

The Bill came before the Seanad on the Second Stage on the 12th December, 1923, and the Minister stated that its purport was to increase the penalties under the existing enactments. A discussion took place as to the remission of penalties by the Minister for Home Affairs. In reading what happened when the Bill was introduced in the Dáil I noticed that Deputy Johnson at once referred to the subject of the minimum penalties which were the real cause of the necessity for the remission. In the Seanad Senator O'Farrell said much the same thing. One thing, however, strikes one. Senator O'Farrell drew attention to the fact that the penalties that we were making such a fuss about were really nothing when compared to those inflicted or that ought to be inflicted in milk prosecutions, in which the life and death of human beings were concerned; that these penalties ought to be big and, that compared with these, the penalties that were proposed to be inflicted on poachers were not very large. Through the whole of our debates, undoubtedly that question of the size of the penalties and the remission of them was the main point we were all concerned with.

When the Third Stage of the Bill came on, on the 19th December, Senator Sir J. Keane introduced his amendment, the point of which the Minister for Fisheries said he could not see. The Minister said the amendment was absolutely unnecessary, and that it cut across the authority of the Governor-General who was the remitting authority, on the advice of the Executive Council. The Seanad supported and carried the amendment because they considered that unless some precautions were taken in regard to this power of remission the Bill would fail to prevent poaching. There is no doubt as to what was in the mind of Senators on that occasion. We strongly supported the amendment because we knew the history of the past prosecutions in regard to poaching, and that the same thing applied to game prosecutions. In the old days the remission power centred in the Lord-Lieutenant. Apparently, the practice was followed of consulting those who inflicted the penalty, but the final decision, so far as I can make out, was come to practically by the Lord-Lieutenant himself. There were so many remissions, as those of us who are interested in preserving the fisheries of Ireland and resisting poaching, know that the effect was disastrous. The fishery laws, as a result, were gradually becoming useless. Undoubtedly the belief in the Seanad was that the power which had been exercised in this way by the Lord-Lieutenant was going to be exercised in a similar way under these remission powers which were being given to the Minister for Home Affairs.

The Bill passed the Seanad, with Senator Sir J. Keane's amendment inserted, on the 20th December. On the 11th January, 1924, the Attorney-General stated in the Dáil that the amendment was an attempt on the part of the Seanad to effect a constitutional position outside the Bill as regards the remission of sentences and penalties. He stated that as the Bill imposed minimum penalties it was important that there should be some means of relief against a miscarriage of justice. I would like to draw the attention of the Seanad to those two different statements of the Attorney-General. First, if I might use the expression, he fired a huge gun which certainly had not been expected by anybody in the Seanad who had taken part in the debate, as far as I know. I doubt very much if the Attorney-General believed that the Seanad, in bringing forward this amendment, were actually making any attempt of the sort.

It reminds me of what happened when I was a young fellow, when my master set me a little problem in mathematics from Sammon's Conic Sections, which was supposed to be solved in a simple but a rather clever way. I knew some of the great formulae that were laid down for dealing with mighty things in Conic Sections, and I put the poor little problem into one of these formulae and got the correct answer. My master said, when I produced the result, "Jameson, you used an 80-ton gun to kill a sky-lark." I am half inclined to think that the Attorney-General, when he said that we were endeavouring to effect a change in the Constitutional position when the amendment really tried to assist and tell the Minister for Fisheries what the Seanad thought the best thing for him to do, was going a little too far. When you come to the second sentence, that the Bill imposed minimum penalties, and it was necessary to have relief against a miscarriage of justice, he touched on two things. Miscarriage of justice was evidently the one thing he relied on. When it came to be debated in the Seanad again, Senators did everything they could to meet that position. He also said that "agreeing to the Seanad amendment would be an invasion of the Constitution." I suppose by producing these two great guns, he persuaded the Dáil that we were acting unconstitutionally and wrongly, and the Dáil rejected our amendment. At the same meeting of the Dáil the Minister for Fisheries said the Dáil should draft and assign a reason for rejecting the amendment from the Seanad. The Ceann Comhairle advised that it was better for the Minister to go to the Seanad and explain the reasons for the rejection. The Minister said he would give reasons in a statement that he would make at the Seanad.

The next step taken was that the Bill came before the Seanad on the 23rd January. Some Senators expressed the opinion that when the Seanad heard from the Government their statement of the case an easy way out of the difficulty might be found. My friend, Senator Sir Thomas Esmonde, I think, voiced that opinion. It was quite evident then that the Seanad were taking the matter in quite a different way to that in which it had been laid before the Dáil by the Attorney-General. The amendment, in the belief that the miscarriage of justice referred to by the Attorney-General was the point at issue, was altered to meet this view. A discussion arose as to the number of convictions that had taken place during the past year. During the debate it was impossible to obtain information as to the number. The only information available was that out of 87 cases 73 were recommended for reduction by the District Justices and dealt with. Further information was pressed for, but was not forthcoming. Later we were informed that the convictions numbered about 180, and presumably about 100 were allowed to stand. These facts were never before the Seanad. I believe there were difficulties about getting that information for the Seanad, and I do not wish to stress the case against the Minister for not having it, as probably he did not know it himself at the time. The point I wish to make is that the Seanad were trying to come to a conclusion on a matter on which they had not sufficient information before them. I think the Minister, the Government, or whoever is responsible for placing the case before the Seanad, should have had that information ready, and should have given it in order to enable Senators to arrive at a correct judgment. Another case arose when we put a question to the President, who was here that day, as to miscarriage of justice. The President was not able then to say if there were other circumstances than miscarriage of justice which ought to be taken into account, and the matter was adjourned and taken up the following day. On the 24th January the Minister for Fisheries, who had previously stated in the Dáil that it was his intention to inform the Seanad of the reasons for the rejection of the amendment by the Dáil, gave them. What he said was that the modified amendment had been considered by the Government and found unacceptable, for reasons with which he was not competent to deal.

This was practically all the information given the Seanad, who, not considering it sufficient, re-enacted the amendment. I think that is an impartial statement of what occurred. The impression it made on my mind was that if the Government had given us a little more consideration and a little more information, instead of bringing in the great guns about the Constitution and various other matters with which the Cathaoirleach dealt most fully, and into which high regions I will not follow him, we would have kept the debate down to what the Seanad really meant, and that was the plain business of what was the best thing to do to put a stop to the poaching of fish. I think it is only fair to say that all through this matter the Seanad did its best to keep down to ordinary business and not to interfere with the Constitution, attack the Government, or try to do away with the authority of the Government in any way.

I believe that the extracts which I have given show it, and I think that anybody who reads impartially the official reports of the debates of the Seanad will see that they really state the facts of the case. Now, we come to the proceedings in the Dáil of the 27th February. Here the Attorney-General again took up the matter. He had, of course, to fire another big gun and it makes one wonder whether, in firing these great guns he ever puts in a cannon shot at all. I am half inclined to think that he was really dealing in blank cartridge. He said that the amendment was originally drafted to cut down the authority of the Executive, but having fired that shot he gets down to what I think the Seanad wishes to deal with. He said that in regard to the minimum penalties it was important that the power of remission should be retained, more unimpaired than it might be in an Act of another kind. I think we all get down to common ground there. There is a good reason with which we can deal, and which brings the matter rather nearer to the resolution which I have proposed. The Attorney-General further stated that it was proposed to introduce a Bill later in the year, a statement which was endorsing what the Minister already told us, and he further stated that having had the benefit of this Act, the Minister would consider the question of minimum penalties regarding the general law. That is to say, that the Minister, in drafting his codification of the law and his permanent Bill dealing with these fishing matters, is going to take the very question into consideration for which the Seanad has been fighting all through.

Knowing that, as the Attorney-General said, the necessity for the remission is to be insisted upon, and these minimum penalties are introduced in this temporary Bill, I think it is fair to say that the contention of the Government seems to be that with their high minimum penalties, which might inflict injustice in certain cases, they must have the power of remission which, they have asserted, it is their intention to use as sparingly as possible. I read carefully again through the Bill to see what class of cases it was likely that the remission would be used in. In the ordinary case of infliction from £2 penalties to £25, I should think we may rely on the Minister, from what he told us, of his intention to put down this poaching, that they will set their faces against the remission of penalties where the judge has inflicted the minimum of only £2 for real poaching cases, and if he goes above £2 he does it at his own free will. The penalties as regards imprisonment are also entirely at the discretion of the judge, and I should hope that where a judge uses his full discretion in the matter in inflicting either a fine or imprisonment for perfectly clear cases, the Government would not be likely to interfere with them. If the judges thought it was a sufficiently serious and bad case to justify imprisonment, they should not interfere with that either.

There are a good many other classes of cases in the later clauses of the Bill, such as buying unseasonable salmon or , and so forth. There are also penalties for being in possession of fish and various other things, which, one looking at it quite impartially, can see where the Minister for Fisheries and the Minister for Home Affairs behind him, may think an injustice is going to be done—not a miscarriage of justice— and that there ought to be a remission. I came to the conclusion that on the whole, if the case had been put to us like that, and we had known the full particulars of how many cases had been dealt with, and that practically it was only on the cases which had been specially reported to them by the Justice who had inflicted the penalty, they would exercise the power of remission. That, so far as I can see, is clear from the reports I have read. Looking at the other side of it, supposing we decide to carry our amendment to the bitter end, it means of course holding up the Bill until about next September. The Government and the Minister for Fisheries will not have had any chance, of testing by actual practice for six or seven months what the effect of the minimum penalties and remission has been, and how much the power of remission will be called into force. That experience, when drafting the new permanent Bill, will be very valuable to the Minister. He has not got it yet, and I think that the Seanad will be doing wrong if it does not give him that opportunity of acquiring that knowledge.

Holding up the Bill for six months is a power which I should be very sorry to see the Seanad exercise, and which I think should only be exercised in great constitutional questions, and not in a Fishery Bill. I might be chaffing the Attorney-General, but I think the Seanad would be shooting off a gun, whether it be loaded or not, at a time which I think is not the right time to fire it, and we should not use a big weapon for such a small affair. The Bill is a temporary one, and is only to last until the permanent Bill is introduced before the next close season. I, at any rate, am perfectly prepared to take the word of the Government that they will act as they promised to do. There is no question that the opinion of the Seanad is that the Bill with these high minimum penalties and the power of remission—it is absolutely certain that the penalties when inflicted will be carried out—would be the most effective way of drawing the permanent Bill, but it is perfectly within the right of the Seanad when the Bill comes before them to re-affirm that view. The Minister, I am sure, has now had evidence that we want to impress on him that view. Therefore, personally, I can see no gain to be got either constitutionally or in any other way for further persevering with this amendment, and I would ask the Seanad to pass this resolution.

I beg to second the resolution. I do not think that it would be possible for me to improve on the admirable statement which Senator Jameson has made explaining the position in this matter. All we have endeavoured to do was to improve this Bill. We thought it was a good one, and we desired, so far as we could, to improve it. The situation on the whole is rather a concatenation of mistakes or misapprehensions. I do not know that it was particularly well handled in executive quarters, and I think that with a little more explanation we would have been saved a good deal of trouble. Like Senator Jameson, I think that the point is much too small to raise a serious dispute about, and I would urge the Seanad to follow the Senator's proposal.

It is a source of consolation to me to hear Senator Jameson suggesting that we should give away on this point. In the light of what has happened now I do not think we are justified in adhering to it. As a promise had been given that the Government would act in the spirit of the amendment inserted by the Seanad, we appeal to give the Government a chance to see what way the Bill will secure the object that we had in view. After all, we might have been doing something wrong by seeing our rights out to the bitter end. It is not a matter on which the Seanad should insist on using its full powers.

I am afraid we will not all agree. I think we have had a great deal of this, and some of us are rather tired. Fish is only attractive when it is fresh, so I shall try to be very brief. When we embarked on this amendment with enthusiasm on the part of some, we did not realise we were going to tread such thorny and tortuous paths. As the matter presented itself to me, I can see no fundamental change in the situation which would induce me to alter my decision. The fresh figures reduce the percentage of interference with convictions, but they stand between 20 and 30 per cent. or so still. It is very disquieting to get these fresh figures, in view of the original statement which was definitely made by the Minister that there were in all 87 convictions. I realise that mistakes cannot be avoided in the best regulated Departments, but these figures are distinctly disquieting.

With regard to the Constitutional bubble, it has been pricked. In the amendment which we set out, we were perfectly within our rights to do it. I cannot see the force of this argument that we are in no way to trench upon the powers of the Executive. Half our functions are in circumscribing the powers of the Executive, such as the judiciary. Seventy-five per cent. of our work is occupied in keeping those various spheres confined and regulated. One thing I heard nothing about was the protection of the public. The whole object of punishing a wrong-doer is to protect the public, and the punishment of the wrong-doer is only incidental to that end. In the past the effect of the administration of the Fisheries Laws has been to deprive the public of their due protection. It is for that reason that we took the line which I myself continue to take. I do not see the force of this minimum penalty argument. We must take the line that the poacher must be punished. You might, of course, inflict a penalty on a man who cannot afford to pay, but there is in this Act the alternative of imprisonment. That is the usual way. That is what we want in the interests of the public and the preservation of this most important industry. Finally, I would like to mention in reference to different powers we gave the Ministers that I hope they will not use this power of interference except in the case of a miscarriage of justice. They have only to say it is a miscarriage of justice and they can do what is necessary. I should be surprised if the Minister wanted to interfere for any other reason, say, because of the personal circumstances of the offender or his influence or prestige. Another thing is the protection of the Executive. There is an extraordinary belief in the power of private influence. Although I have not much influence, I get letters frequently saying, "If you will only say a word to so and so I will get all I want." As a matter of fact if I did, the people would not, but there is a belief in the country that if you solicit your friends in court, you will do wonders. The Government must have a great many supplicants at their private bar, but surely it would be the greatest relief if they could say "we have no power," if they could say "we quite realise all you have done for us, but we are barred by statute from giving you any assistance." I should have thought that the more the Government entrenched themselves behind a barrier of that kind the less disturbed would be their office hours. There have been no new facts, and yet we are asked to change our amendment. I do not think Senator Jameson's arguments are sufficient to justify the course we are asked to take.

I regret also that I am unrepentant. I listened to Senator Jameson's able statement, and the only part that seemed to me to justify a change in the attitude previously taken up by the Seanad was the part regarding minimum penalties. There certainly was a case there where penalties might be imposed which were unjust. I think it would be better for the Government to have taken the law into their own hands, and not to have put in those penalties. People say there is a minimum penalty, and now, after adopting it, we tell the people we have no notion of inflicting those penalties. That seemed to me to be what these particular, repeated applications to get our clause withdrawn amounted to. For that reason I shall not delay the Seanad further than to say that, in my opinion, we would be, as Senator Sir John Keane says, taking away from the dignity of the Seanad, without any new facts, without any cogent reasons or without any entirely moving suggestions, because I think it would take an entirely moving suggestion to justify the Seanad in departing from their attitude. I think that no entirely moving suggestion has been made, and for that reason I certainly must re-affirm my thought and feeling that the amendment was a wise one, and ought to be upheld.

I should like to support the motion, and I may say that I do so after a good deal of doubt and hesitation. I do so because I think that on the whole it is the right thing to do in the circumstances. This is a temporary measure. We know that by the next session a Bill will be introduced for the codification of these Fishery laws. We know from a statement which the learned Attorney-General made in the Dáil that the question of the minimum penalties under these Fishery Acts will be considered before that Bill is brought before the Dáil. And if after that consideration these minimum penalties are abolished, then the reason for our amendment will be practically gone.

On the other hand, if the Government adhere to this system of minimum penalties, then we should re-introduce our amendment, and if we did so I am of opinion that we ought to adhere to it. But in a temporary measure like this I do not think this would be the time to do so. At the same time I feel with Senator Jameson that this House has not been treated quite fairly in this matter. When the question of this amendment was originally before the House, quite unintentionally, no doubt, we were supplied with figures which were, in fact, misleading. I am sure the Minister had not at his disposal the figures which he gave in the Dáil, and which we now know. If he had he would have given them, because they would have supported his case. I do not say that that is the reason why he would have given them, but it would be a very strong and sensible reason for giving them, and if we had known that there were 188 cases instead of 87, it would have altered our views altogether, and we might not have insisted on our original amendment. I also think that when we sent back this amendment with the further amendment which we have made, recognising the argument which had been put forward in the Dáil and by the Attorney-General here—that it did not provide for possible cases of miscarriage of justice—and put into our amendment a provision that it should not apply where the Minister came to the conclusion that there was a miscarriage of justice, the Dáil might very well have accepted our amended amendment. It practically did everything which they asked to be done in the arguments which they put before this House, because I do not think that it was intended by this House either to invade the prerogative of the Crown, which it did not do, or that it was an attempt to take from the power of the Executive in any way whatever. There was no idea on the part of any member either to limit the power of the Crown, which was not involved in this, or, still less, to limit the power of the Executive. For these reasons, especially as this is a temporary measure, I think that it would not be in the interests of the country that we should insist on this amendment, and as it is not in the interests of the country I do not think that any question of dignity—and I do not very well myself see where that arises—should interfere with us in this matter.

I rise to support the motion, because I believe, with Senator Brown, who, I think, has put the case very well, that in the circumstances it is the right course to adopt. The main reason that I had for rising was, with Senator Brown, to join issue with Senator Sir John Keane in his suggestion that it is undignified not to press the amendment. After consideration, I think that that is a false and misleading attitude to take up. It is not undignified for the Dáil to agree with our amendments, nor is it undignified, after careful consideration, for members of this House to decide that they will not press an amendment, having full regard to the circumstances and the facts. Further, I disagree with Senator Bennett in suggesting that those who support the motion have necessarily changed their minds. It is a different matter between changing your mind and deciding that, in order to show consistency, you are going to hold the matter up for six months when you cannot get your way. From time to time questions will come before this House, and one holds one's opinion, expresses it and votes accordingly, but one has to consider now the circumstances as to whether the nine months' delay, which is in our power, should always be exercised just to show that you are still of the same opinion. My principal object in rising to support the amendment, is because I think in dealing with these matters we should take them on their merits in the circumstances, without imagining that questions of dignity, or even of changes of opinion, arise.

I want to correct a misinterpretation of my words made unintentionally by Senator Jameson. What I did say when this Bill was introduced, was that there were pretty severe minimum penalties for poaching, while there were no such minimum penalties for what is, in my opinion, a far worse offence, the adulteration of foodstuffs and milk. I am not a bit concerned with the dignity of this or any other assembly in connection with a matter of this kind, but the change that has come about since the Bill was introduced, is really very humorous. The Minister came here to speak with a knife in his mouth and murder in his eyes and in his voice, and in fact, one felt that if the extreme penalty were proposed for poachers it would be welcome to him. But I think the Seanad made a mistake in taking his speech too seriously. He came in like a roaring lion, but he went out like a dove. Immediately all the great lawyers available are mobilised and constitutional authorities are quoted in defence of the poacher. I felt when he was introducing the Bill that he wanted a bodyguard to protect him from any determined poachers; I can now fancy that his greatest supporters at the next election will be the poachers. Of course, one does not like taking away from Deputies who have constituencies the various little privileges that are attached to them, the getting remission of fines, and so on.

I think that there is a good deal in this question of inflicting a penalty in order to frighten a man, and then taking it off for the sake of putting him under a compliment to you. No arguments really have been advanced in support of this that were not advanced in an almost equally able manner previously. I voted against the amendment when it was introduced. When it was amended in such a way that there should be no miscarriage of justice, that the Government had not a right to remit, I voted for it, and I am not convinced by the arguments I heard to-day that any other course is open now.

I would appeal to people to realise that there is no grave constitutional crisis, and there is no great conflict of opinion between both Houses, or any silly statement of that kind. It is merely an ordinary difference of opinion on a very simple matter, and because that is the position I will vote against the motion.

Lest there might be any misapprehension as to the support of the motion being unanimous, I should like, as one who has taken a considerable interest in it in the past, to say that I very largely agree with what has been said by the Senator who has just sat down. If Senator Jameson will allow me to say so, I certainly formed a very high opinion of him when I had the pleasure of meeting him here first, and it has been greatly enhanced by what he said to-day, for he has shown, in my opinion, the most marvellous skill in skating over thin ice, very thin ice indeed; and he has evaded the real points at issue. We are told that one of the reasons for reversing our opinion is that incorrect figures were given to us. I had not the advantage of being present when the Bill was before the Seanad, but when you come to analyse these figures, I do not know that they form any criterion at all for altering one's opinion. I am only quoting from memory with regard to the figures, but there were 188 convictions and 87 appeals, and out of these 87 appeals 79 were remitted, or something approaching that. At all events, the vast majority of the people who appealed had their fines remitted.

I think there is a great deal in what Senator O'Farrell has said, that any member of the Dáil, be he a Minister or be he not, will have very great difficulty in resisting the pressure that will be brought to bear on him from his own constituents and others, and we all know and are aware of how these things are broached. Senator Sir John Keane has given us some instances of it, and I do not think the Minister will at all lie on a bed of roses if he refuses to remit some of those fines, especially in his own constituency. Furthermore, I think, from what I have read and observed in the course of my life in the world, that the countries that go down the hill fastest are the countries where corruption is most open. I think, in fact I know, that in this country we are very able people indeed at promoting every kind of corruption, and I have not the smallest doubt but that if a man knows that if a big fine is provided in a Bill and by appealing and bringing all sorts of pressure to bear on the Ministry, or the member for his own constituency, he can get that remitted, instead of having a deterrent effect, the penalty will have no effect at all. In fact, it will be like frightening a child with a bogey man: in a short time he finds that the bogey man does not exist, and it loses all effect.

Therefore, for all these reasons, and a great many more, I am inclined to think that this motion ought not to be passed, and I am very strongly of opinion that we will not be doing a good thing for the country if we do not close every avenue by which corruption might be fostered here. I think it was in connection with this very question when I said that the country looked to the Seanad largely to keep things clear, one of the Senators said that from his experience of the country he was inclined to think the reverse. I regret that he is not here to-day, but I met him since and he told me he had made inquiries and that what he said was wrong and what I said was right. Whether that is so or not, I have made inquiries since, and I am perfectly certain that the country at large has more confidence in the Seanad and looks more to the Seanad to keep things straight and to close up every avenue of corruption, than they do to anybody else. I think that by passing this motion we will be opening a door which it would be much better to keep closed. As regards the time the Bill would be held up if we were to pass our motion I think it is only four months—but it seems to me that a Bill with these big penalties and the power to remit them will have a far less deterrent effect than a Bill with smaller penalties and no power to remit.

I want to ask the Minister a question. We have heard from the Minister himself, and also from the Attorney-General, that a comprehensive Bill will shortly be introduced to codify all these Fishery Laws, and the inference from that is that the present Bill is of an exceedingly temporary nature. What I should like to know is, when does the Minister hope that this new and enlarged Bill will be ready and come before the House, and whether he hopes it will be in operation before next season, for if it is possible to introduce and pass it before the spawning season commences next year, I take it that the Bill now before the House will have very little effective use?

Before the Minister for Fisheries answers that question, I think I have the right to be heard in view of Senator Barrington's statement. I am positively certain that the Senator did not intend to leave the impression on the public that it is easy to get an amelioration of sentences, or that the road to corruption is an easy road in this country. I can quite understand Senators taking pride in the Seanad, but I do not think it would lend anything to the dignity of the Seanad to say, "We are all right; look at other men." I am positively certain that the reputation of the Seanad will not be increased by detracting from that of any other important institution in the State. The Senator, in addressing himself to this particular subject, said a mistake had been made in the number of cases reported in which fines were inflicted. I think I stated on the last occasion when the Bill was here, and I think Sir John Keane questioned the figures, that the number of convictions was 188, or something of that sort.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

No, Mr. President, it was not stated here but in the Dáil.

The Senator said out of 87 appeals, 79 had been remitted. My recollection of the figures is that of 188 convictions, there were 74 recommended for remission or reductions by the Justices or Judges who imposed the fines, and that of those 64 were remitted.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

These latter figures were all given here.

I simply rise to point out that the case that was made for the retention of the amendment of the Seanad was that no remission would be made save and except on the recommendation of the judge when marking the penalty. The facts do not support the contention that that is a sound case. There is in this Seanad a Senator who knows that within the last twelve months a Minister was importuned by a number of respectable constituents to seek to have a fine reduced in a particular case. The Senator knows that that Minister, who had not a particularly safe constituency at the time, did not comply with the request. It is only fair that the Government should be afforded an opportunity of making a statement like that. Although we do not dispute, and have never disputed, the opinion, that is held in the country, of the Seanad, it does not make for improving that to leave it to be inferred that it was the reputation of the Seanad which kept other institutions from going wrong.

I am in absolute accord with the resolution. I think that too much attention, as was mentioned by Senator O'Farrell, has been paid to this amendment. The Bill, as originally brought in, was a good one, and was meant specifically to cover a certain period of the year during which poaching of the worst kind occurs. That was the argument I put forward as one of the minority on the last occasion. I am sorry that Senator Sir J. Keane did not yield to the overtures which I then made to him. However, I think he is now quite satisfied that all the ends of justice will be met by allowing the Bill to pass as it came to us from the Dáil, and that the desire which he has at heart can be met when the new Bill is introduced.

The first thing I have to say is to express my absolute resentment at the suggestion of Senator O'Farrell, reiterated, if one might be permitted to say so, in more insulting language by Senator Barrington, that this power for the remission of penalties is retained by the Government in order to keep our constituents under our hands. I think that was the suggestion.

I beg to assure the Minister that I made no such suggestion. I said that one did not like taking from Deputies certain little patronages. I did not say the Deputies themselves desired those things. I can assure the Minister on that point.

I would also like to disassociate myself from any attack whatsoever upon the present Minister. But we will have other Ministers and we do not know what might happen.

I thought the remarks could only have one meaning, that this retaining of the power for the remission of penalties was something that Ministers representing constituencies wanted to hold so that, especially in their own constituencies, they might have the power of making themselves "good fellows."

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I do not think there was any personal application of any such suggestion at all. I think the furthest the Senators went was to say that there might be a possibility of temptation in that way. There was no personal application made by either Senator.

I may be wrong.

It was only a joke.

I will let that pass then, but I certainly gathered the other meaning, and I resented it very much.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I should have intervened if I had taken the same view.

I expect you would. I have been asked when the new Bill will be introduced. I hope it will be introduced by October next, and law before the new fishery year. As to the motion before the Seanad, I think it is a way out. I believe there are things in the Bill, apart from the close season, worth having law before the 270 days prescribed by the Constitution would have expired. Sections 5, 6, 7, and 8 do not refer to the close season as such. They refer to offences committed at times outside the ordinary close season, and I believe are important. I believe it would be a good thing to have these in force at the earliest possible moment, especially Section 8. This Section increases the penalty for taking fish from a stream that has been poisoned or dynamited. For the first time it gets at the real person who is guilty. It is very hard to catch a person who puts poison into a stream or who dynamites it. If you are careful it is comparatively easy to catch the person who is going to take the fish that have been poisoned or killed. The Section gets at these people for the first time. It says that any person taking a dead fish out of a stream is liable to certain high penalties. It is most important that that Section should be law at the earliest possible moment. Of course, the Seanad has a right to insist on its original amendment, but to do so will mean holding up the Bill for the 270 days prescribed by the Constitution. In any event, the Bill will be law before the next close season, as the 270 days will have expired. I think Senator Jameson's motion is one that should be accepted by the Seanad, as there are things in the Bill well worth having.

Motion put.
The Seanad divided: Tá, 24; Níl, 8.

  • James Green Douglas.
  • Samuel L. Brown.
  • Mrs. Eileen Costello.
  • John C. Counihan.
  • Peter de Loughry.
  • Sir Thomas Grattan Esmonde.
  • Sir Nugent Everard.
  • Oliver St. John Gogarty.
  • Mrs. Stopford Green.
  • Sir John P. Griffith.
  • Henry Seymour Guinness.
  • Marquess of Headfort.
  • Right Hon. Andrew Jameson.
  • Joseph Clayton Love.
  • Edward McEvoy.
  • Colonel Maurice Moore.
  • George Nesbitt.
  • Bernard O'Rourke.
  • William O'Sullivan.
  • Mrs. Wyse Power.
  • George Sigerson.
  • Earl of Wicklow.
  • William Butler Yeats.
  • Countess of Desart.

Níl

  • William Barrington.
  • Thomas Westropp Bennett.
  • Michael Duffy.
  • Thomas Farren.
  • Thomas Foran.
  • Sir John Keane.
  • Thomas Linehan.
  • John T. O'Farrell.
Motion declared carried.