HL Deb 01 August 1899 vol 75 cc993-8

House in Committee (according to Order).

Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.

Clause 5:—


The Amendment which I have to move in this clause has for its object the insertion of the words "sea fisheries, fresh-water fisheries." The clause will then empower the Department to make inquiries, experiments, and research, and collect such information as they may think important for the purposes of agriculture, sea fisheries, freshwater fisheries, and other rural industries. I have inserted sea fisheries in the hope that by that means inland fisheries will be accepted. The Lord Lieutenant has granted a Viceregal Commission to inquire into our fresh-water fisheries, and if that Commission reports that certain researches have to be made there is no power under this Bill by which they can be made. I believe this clause is considered to be a Treasury clause, and therefore cannot be touched in this House; but I would point out that our fresh-water fisheries are as important, if not more important, than our sea fisheries. The inland fisheries are classed in this Bill with agriculture, and they will only be considered with a number of other matters which may possibly be regarded as more important, with the result that fresh-water fisheries will receive very little consideration whatever. I hope the noble and learned Lord in charge of the Bill will see his way to help us in this matter. I am not asking for money for our inland fisheries. My only object is to include fresh-water fisheries in the researches of the new Department.

Amendment moved— In page 3, line 32, after 'Agriculture' to insert 'sea fisheries, fresh-water fisheries'"—(The Earl of Mayo.)


Before the noble and learned Lord who has charge of the Bill speaks upon this Amendment, I should like to say that I am at a loss to understand what is the necessity for the clause at all. As I understand the Bill, it transfers certain branches of government from the Lord Lieutenant, in whose hands they now are, to this new Department, and as far as I know every Government Department has the power to inquire into matters placed under it. I know full well that in Ireland you have continually to make inquiries on various subjects besides that of agriculture. This clause, as it stands, would allow the new Department to make inquiries into agriculture, but, by the omission of everything else, they would apparently have no power to make inquiries into other subjects. If it is necessary that power should be given in the Bill for inquiries into agriculture, why should not the new Department be given power to inquire into questions connected with technical education, science and art, fisheries, and so on? Perhaps the noble and learned Lord will answer the question why the clause is necessary at all.


This section corresponds verbatim with the section that is applied to England in the English Act, and if the noble Earl opposite will refer to the Definition Clause, which, for the convenience of drafting, is now used to prevent and render unnecessary constant repetition, he will see that the expression "the purposes of agriculture and other rural industries" includes the aiding, improving, and developing of agriculture, horticulture, forestry, dairying, the breeding of horses, cattle, and other live stock and poultry, home and cottage industries, and other industries, including inland fisheries. Inland fisheries are therefore adequately dealt with. I fully recognise the great importance of inland fisheries, but if the Amendment is adopted we should have to reconsider the drafting of the whole Bill. I can assure my noble friend that inland fisheries are adequately dealt with, as a matter of legal construction, and that there is an earnest hope that the topic will not be lost sight of. With regard to that part of my noble friend's Amendment which refers to sea fisheries, I would point out that it is not in the English Act, and that it is a Treasury clause. I wish to amend Clause 30 by inserting, in line 22, after the word "gear," the words "the investigation into the habits of fish and methods of fishing." This will, I think, meet the wishes of the noble Earl.

Amendment withdrawn.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Clauses 6, 7, 8, and 9 agreed to.

Clause 10:—


My Lords, I have drafted an Amendment to provide that the expression "person" in this clause shall be held to include women.


May I be allowed to point out to the noble Earl that under the Interpretation Act the word "person," unless the contrary is conveyed, will include women, and that, therefore, his Amendment is unnecessary? I am of opinion that there are many branches of technical instruction in which ladies can play a very useful and valuable part, and if it were needed I would welcome the Amendment.


After the assurance of the noble and learned Lord I will not move the Amendment standing in my name.


My Lords, I beg to move to omit Subheads (d) and (e), which provide that the Chambers of Commerce and the Trades Councils of Dublin, Belfast and Cork shall each have a representative on the Board of Technical Instruction. It will be seen at a glance that the Board of Technical Instruction is extremely large, and, I may say, almost unwieldy. I am informed that if all those who are named are appointed the body will consist of nearly forty members. Trades councils are not incorporated bodies, and their legal status is doubtful, and it is possible that many difficulties may arise. I hope Her Majesty's Government will see their way to delete these two sub-heads.


There is no doubt that the Board of Technical Instruction will be adequately and fully manned, and that the elective element will be very largely represented on the Board by, amongst others, the nominees of the county council and the joint committee of councils of urban districts. The trades councils got into the clause on the Standing Committee by a majority of one, and the insertion of the words was opposed by the Chief Secretary and the Attorney-General of Ireland. I believe one of the arguments which had great weight was, that inasmuch as the chambers of commerce represented the employers, the trades councils, who represented the men, should also be allowed to send a representative. Trades councils have never found a place in legislation before, and as the noble Viscount has moved to omit certain sub-heads, I think the difficulty is met. I accept the Amendment.


I feel some doubt upon this point. This is an exceedingly complicated clause altogether, but it seems to me that if we are to have popular representatives on the Board, it is desirable that such important bodies as the chambers of commerce of large cities like Dublin, Belfast, and Cork should be represented.


The difficulty is that these bodies are unknown to the law. We do not know what a chamber of commerce is, and we do not know what a trades council is. There may be two trades councils started in the City of Cork, each of whom may nominate a representative. There would be no one to decide between the two claims, and a legal puzzle would arise. Therefore I think the two sub-heads should be omitted in consequence of the extreme complexity they would introduce into the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 10, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 11:—


I should like to ask the noble and learned Lord who is to define what are the matters of public interest to be discussed by the Council of Agriculture. I presume my right hon. friend the Chief Secretary will be the President of that council, and, if so, will he have the power of deciding as to the matters which may or may not be discussed? If your Lordships will take the trouble to refer to Sub-section (f) of Clause 16 you will see that it is there enacted that such sums as the Department consider reasonable shall be applied for defraying the expenses for travelling and subsistence, when absent from home, of the members of the council of each board established by this Act. It seems to me that Clause 11 gives such a very wide power, that unless there is a discre- tion given to the President, these discussions may go on ad infinitum. The Council of Agriculture will consist of ninety-seven members, and if you allow them each £1 a day for expenses, you will very quickly run through a large sum of money. A power should be given to the President to veto matters which are not proper subjects for discussion.


It is pointed out in the clause that the topics to be discussed are the topics that are dealt with in the Bill—namely, agriculture, technical education, fisheries, and so on. It would be impossible to lay down in the Bill the powers of the chairman, and how he should exercise them in this matter. It must be assumed that the chairman is a man of intelligence, and that the members will be men of common-sense who will act honestly in this matter.

Clause 11 agreed to.

Clauses 12 to 29 agreed to.

Clause 30 amended and agreed to.

Bill, as amended, reported to the House.


I propose to take the Report stage on Thursday, when I hope your Lordships will suspend the Standing Orders, so as to enable me to move the Third Reading.

Standing Committee negatived. The Report of Amendments to be received on Thursday next; and Standing Order No. XXXIX. to be considered in order to its being dispensed with; and Bill to be printed as amended. (No. 191.)