HC Deb 13 April 1891 vol 352 cc365-6

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether the prosecution of Mr. Charles Webb, mill-owner, of Randalstown, was directed by the Inspectors of Fisheries or by the local Board of Conservators; and, if by the latter, under what authority; whether he is aware that Edward Moles, the principal witness for the prosecution, swore that— He was not particularly acquainted with the habits and customs of salmon, or the working of turbine wheels; whether he is aware that Mr. Webb applied to the Inspectors of Fisheries for an exemption under the provisions of the Fisheries Acts, and was informed that the matter would be considered; whether any reply has yet been made to Mr. Webb; whether his attention has been directed to the evidence as to the prejudicial effect the lattices required to be put up would have upon the working of these mills; and whether the recent prosecutions of millowners in County Antrim were undertaken with the cognisance and approval of the Inspectors of Fisheries?


The Inspectors of Irish Fisheries report that the prosecution mentioned by my hon. Friend was undertaken by the Coleraine Board of Conservators under the authority of the statute. The Inspectors are not aware of the general evidence given in the case. Mr. Moles is not under the control of their department. Mr. Webb did apply last month to the Inspectors for exemption, saying that he would furnish grounds for demanding it, but up to the present he has not done so. The Inspectors have no control over the initiation of prosecutions of this kind; but they deem it right to observe that they consider no exemptions from the necessity to erect gratings should be given where no injury to the water power of mills would occur if the gratings were kept clear of weeds and debris.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there has been a meeting of the millowners of the County Antrim; that every mill is worked by water power, and that they defend the action of Mr. Webb?


No, Sir; I am not aware.

MR. WEBB (Waterford, W.)

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that Messrs. Hill, Woollen Manufacturers, and Messrs. Shackleton, Flour Millers, of Lucan, County of Dublin, have been served with notices by the Fishery Commissioners to erect fine wire screens in the fall of their water power; whether he is aware that the wages of several hundred hands depend upon such firms working full power; and whether he will call the attention of the Fishery Commissioners to the general injury which the carrying out of this order would inflict on the above and other industries in Ireland?


The Inspectors of Irish Fisheries report that the mills referred to are worked by turbines; that the 30th section of the Act 26 & 27 Vic, c. 114, requires that during the descent of the salmon, or young of salmon, to the sea, a grating or other efficient means to prevent such salmon or young of salmon passing to the machine shall be provided; and they point out that the requirement being limited to such descent, it is only for a short time in the spring of each year. The Inspectors further report that wire lattices have been erected in many places, which do not injure the water power when properly looked after.

SIR T. ESMONDE (Dublin Co., S.)

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Act under which these wire screens are required to be erected was passed many years ago, and that it has not been complied with or enforced?


No, Sir; I was not aware that the Act has never been enforced.