§ Mr. SHEEHAN
asked the Chief Secretary whether he is aware of the conditions of housing which generally prevail amongst the coast and deep-sea fishermen of Ireland; whether the present definition of a labourer in the Labourers (Ireland) Acts has been almost invariably held by inspectors of the Local Government Board not to include fishermen, on the ground that they earn more than the statutory qualifying rate; whether he is aware that in Cork county, in almost every improvement scheme recently promoted by rural districts, the bulk of the fishermen who applied for cottages and allotments had their claims rejected; and in these circumstances, will he consider the desirability of making special provision for this class in the Labourers Bill now before Parliament?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I am aware of the general condition of the fishermen's cottages in Ireland, but a considerable number have benefited by the Labourers Acts. The Local Government Board are not aware that their inspectors have almost invariably rejected representations made on behalf of fishermen on the ground stated, nor have the Board returns to show the number of fishermen who have applied for cottages, and the number whose claims have been rejected in Cork or any other county. Fishermen were definitely brought within the scope of the Acts by Section 4, of the Labourers (Ireland) Act, 1886, but the definition of the expression agricultural labourer contained in that Section, and in Section 93 of the Land Act of 1903 explicitly requires that the labourer shall work for hire, so that fishermen who own either boats or shares in boats would be excluded unless they qualified by working for hire for some period at any season 1479W of the year. All cases of fishermen living in insanitary houses can be brought under the Acts as they stand, and there appears to be no reason to make special provision for fishermen in the Bill now before Parliament.