THE EARL OF MAYO
My Lords, I beg to ask His Majesty's Government if, owing to the defective state of Liscannor Harbour, county Clare, which was constructed by the Board of Works, Ireland, and which is the port of shipment for that district, and from which harbour vessels are only able to enter and leave at high spring tides, they will order the said harbour to be made effective. The history of this harbour is rather a sad one. The Board of Works tried to improve it,
§ I hope that the noble Duke will press his motion to a division, and that your Lordships will support the motion.
§ House divided:—Contents, 61; Non-Contents, 48.
§ and the result is that all the seaweed washes into the harbour and the sand silts up. I believe it was originally made as a fishing harbour, but since that time the shipping of immense quantities of large paving flags has become a very important industry there, not less than £8,000 a year being spent in wages. I do not wish to say unpleasant things about our Board of Works, but the coasts of Ireland are dotted with harbours made by the Board which defy the efforts of skilled navigators to enter them. If large steamers cannot get into Liscannor 797 they cannot ship these paving flags, and the whole industry is hampered. Lord Zetland, when he was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, visited the place, and these complaints were made to him then. I trust that His Majesty's Government will see their way to make the harbour effective.
§ THE EARL OF DENBIGH
My Lords, the noble Earl has correctly stated that the harbour at Liscannor was originally formed for fishing purposes. It was constructed before the establishment of the Board of Works, between the years 1825 and 1831, at a cost of £2,919, of which £2,000 was a Government grant. Additional works were undertaken at the harbour under the Sea Fisheries Act of 1883, which cost £5,184, of which £3,885 was a free grant. The total cost of the works was, therefore, £8,103, of which £5,885 was a free Government grant. Neither the Board of Works nor the Irish Government has any responsibility for the keep-up of the harbour, nor for extending it to meet the local trade which has grown up there. The harbour, as I have said, was originally constructed for fishery purposes alone, and the county council in whom it is vested is under a statutory obligation to maintain it in a condition suitable for the fishing boats which use the harbour. The question of the present condition and accommodation of the harbour has arisen from a movement in the locality (a very laudable one, no doubt) to facilitate the exportation of stone from the neighbouring quarries. But to render the harbour suitable for commercial purposes and to provide the necessary increased accommodation would entail an expenditure estimated by the Board of Works to amount to £13,000. There are no funds at the disposal of Government for the carrying out of works of such magnitude, and, even if there were, the question could only be considered in connection with similar claims from other localities.
My Lords, I was myself in Liscannor last week. I can assure the House that on both sides of the streets, from the pier to the end of the town, are large numbers of these paving flags—the finest, I think, that are procurable. This industry, if developed by the improvement of the harbour, could be made of great benefit to the whole country. The opinion locally is that all 798 that would be needed would be to deepen the harbour, and I cannot help expressing surprise at the large amount of the estimate mentioned by the noble Earl who represents the Irish Office. I trust the Government will be able to render some help in the matter, as the district in question has no resources of its own.
§ THE EARL OF DENBIGH
An inspection was made by the Board of Works engineer at the end of 1897, and he stated that to effect the improvements required by the quarry owners would involve an expenditure of £13,000. Unfortunately there is no money available unless a special grant is made for the purpose.
I am under the impression that a very small sum would be sufficient to pay for the deepening of the harbour, which is all that is required.