HC Deb 16 April 1891 vol 352 cc664-6
MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether it was by order of the Inspectors of Fisheries that a document, headed " Notice to Millowners," "Turbines," signed "(By Order), M. P. Dowling, Secretary," and "dated at the Fisheries' Office, Dublin Castle, the 14th day of April, 1890," was served on Mr. C. J. Webb, of Randalstown, on the 18th of February, 1891; and, if not, by whose order; is he aware that at the date of this notice, or thereabouts (namely, April, 1890), proceedings were taken against other millowners under Acts of 5 & 6 Vic. and 26 & 27 Vic, and whether the local Board of Conservators instituted these proceedings of their own accord, and whether the Inspectors of Fisheries-approved of them; will he explain why-no inspection has been made, as promised to Mr. Webb on the 6th March; is he aware that, on or about the 20th March, Mr. Webb was served with two further summonses; whether any inspection had been made subsequent to his letter of the 2nd March and previous to the service of these summonses; whether, since the passing of 32 & 33 Vic. cap. 9, any similar prosecutions have been undertaken; whether any of the defendants in the recent prosecutions have been summoned for similar offences previous to the year 1890; whether the Inspectors of Fisheries have had any expert evidence as to the injury supposed to be caused by the hydraulic machines at these mills; and, if so, who were the expert witnesses; whether he is aware that, for over 20 years, no similar requirements have been demanded by the Inspectors of Fisheries; and whether he will ask the local Board of Conservators and the Inspectors of Fisheries to furnish the evidence upon which they have taken these proceedings, and their reasons for doing so?


The Inspectors of Irish Fisheries report that the notice referred to was sent by them to the clerks of the Letterkenny and Coleraine districts for distribution, as the occasion arose, among millowners, in order to warn them of the provisions of the law regarding turbines, in regard to which the Inspectors have no power under the statute to grant exemptions. Before the date of this notice the Inspectors learned incidentally that prosecutions of this nature had taken place in certain cases then under consideration, and they pointed out to the Conservators that they thought it would have been better to have awaited the Inspectors' final decision. The Inspectors made no inspection of Mr. Webb's premises for the reasons (a) that Mr. Webb did not furnish, as he promised, the grounds of his application for exemption; and (b) that the Inspector had only returned from the district immediately previous to the application, and has since been engaged on other duties. The Inspectors are not aware that Mr. Webb has been since served with summonses. On the 16th of March they wrote to the Local Board that an Inspection in the case would be made as soon as possible. The Inspectors report that prosecutions have been instituted since the passing of the 32 & 33 Vic, c. 92. The Inspectors have no information as to paragraph 7, as such prosecutions are instituted by the Local Boards. The Inspectors have not had evidence as to injury by hydraulic machines, &c. They themselves inspect mill premises, and hear anything the mill-owners or the local officers of the Conservators have to say in those cases where they have power to grant exemptions. The Inspectors state that the circumstances mentioned in the ninth paragraph, assuming it to be a fact, would not alter the law in the matter. Millowners have the opportunity of applying to them for exemption from compliance with Section 76 of 5 & 6 Vic, c. 106, which exemption would be granted if any injury were likely to arise to the working power of mills by the erection of gratings; but from the necessity of erecting sufficient means to prevent the passage of salmon, or any young of salmon, into turbines, the Inspectors have no power to exempt. Prosecutions are undertaken not by Inspectors, or at their instance, but by the Conservators.