HC Deb 29 August 1895 vol 36 cc1121-2

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland—(1) if the Irish Fisheries Commissioners held an inquiry in the Ballycastle district early in June, with regard to (amongst other points) changing the open season for salmon nets; (2) whether the evidence was unanimous that the season should be from 1st March till 1st September; and (3) whether any decision has been arrived at by the Commissioners?


The reply to the first paragraph is, yes. The Inspectors of Fisheries inform me that the evidence taken at the inquiry was not unanimously in favour of a close season between the dates mentioned. They arrived at a decision assimilating the seasons throughout the adjoining district, as they considered that having different close seasons would give facilities for poaching.


I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, what authority the Inspectors of Irish Fisheries possess to enable them to forego enforcing the provisions of the Act of Parliament which declares that all expenses of applications for changes of seasons shall be paid by the applicants; whether the majority of such applications come from owners of fisheries or Boards of Conservators; and, can he say upon what grounds the Auditor General passed the accounts of the Inspectors for such expenses?


I am advised that the action of the Inspectors in reference to the payment of the expenses in question has been ultra vires, but the practice, they explain, has been followed for the past 53 years, without, so far as I know, any objection having been raised, and the result has undoubtedly been beneficial to the poorer classes of fishermen, who otherwise would have been precluded from making application for an alteration of the close seasons. Up to the present these fishermen have had to incur the expense of retaining a legal adviser and the expenses of their own witnesses, but had the provisions of the Act been properly enforced, these men would further have been called upon to defray the travelling and other expenses of the inspectors, the costs of advertising, and the legal expenses incidental to the making of the close season orders. A majority of applications may have been made by Boards of Conservators, though in many cases these bodies apply on behalf of the poorer classes of fishermen, but it is equally a fact that a very considerable number of applications are made by the fishermen direct. I am not aware that the attention of the Controller and Auditor General has been drawn to the provisions of the Act, though if he were aware of it he would, I presume, certainly disallow any payments for such expenses out of public funds.