§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. HIBBERT
, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, its object was to give power to Fishery Boards, wherever they existed, to pass bye-laws as to the size of the mesh for the capture of fresh-water fish. The chief purpose of the Bill was to meet the wishes of the Fishery Board in the Lake District. It was found that neither the Salmon Act nor the Freshwater Fisheries Act was sufficient to protect the capture of trout and char, and other fish of that kind, during the early stages; and that the mesh of nets in use in the English Lakes was so small as to cause almost the destruction of the young fish. An inquiry was made a short time ago by the Fisheries Inspectors; evidence was taken from different persons connected with the fisheries in the Lakes; and there was a general desire expressed that there should be some legislation to decide the size of the mesh. A Memorial was sent to the Home Office, a very short time ago, by the Fisheries Board of the Lake District, in which they stated 980 that in those fisheries nets were used for trout and other fish, having a mesh not exceeding one-fourth of an inch, and that the mesh was so small that it took a dozen of the fish caught to make a pound in weight. The result was that hundreds of small trout and char were taken from these waters; and although it might be intended to return them, the very operation of getting them from deep to shallow water practically destroyed them. Further, they said that owing to this mode of netting small fish young salmon were also taken. The desire was that the minimum size of the mesh should be one inch, and the maximum two inches; but he must say that he should be prepared to increase the measure to two and a-half inches. But beyond that he did not think it would be possible to go. The Fisheries Act for Norfolk and Suffolk gave power to the Conservators to fix the size of the mesh of nets for trout; but he believed it was not thought desirable to fix a size different from that named in the Act. He did not know whether any hon. Gentleman would object to taking the second reading; but what he was proposing was in the interest of fresh-water fishing, with a view to increasing the supply of fish as food, and it would also be beneficial to a sport indulged in by hundreds and thousands of people in this country. On these grounds he asked that the Bill might be read a second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Hibbert.)
§ MR. BIRKBECK
said, he hoped the Government would not press the Bill now, for it had only been in the hands of Members for a few clays. The matter was one of great importance, and Members had had no opportunity of considering it. In his view, there were several strong objections as to the present size of the mesh of nets, and he had that day had a representation made to him strongly urging that the mesh should be increased to three inches. Under the Norfolk and Suffolk Act, the mesh was three inches, and that had been found to work admirably since 1877, when the Act was introduced. He hoped the Government would agree to give further powers under the bye-laws, but that they would not press this Bill until the anglers in the country had had an op- 981 portunity of considering it. When the Bill was in Committee he would move certain Amendments, one of which would be to exempt Norfolk and Suffolk from coming under the Act.
§ MR. HIBBERT
said, it was true that the Bill had only been in the hands of Members five days; but there had been no serious opposition raised to its provisions. He had seen a representative of the London Anglers' Association, and that gentleman said that, if the extra mesh were increased, he would be perfectly satisfied. He (Mr. Hibbert) was prepared to propose that two and a-half inches should be the maximum. One inch minimum had been agreed upon. Norfolk and Suffolk were not brought under the provisions of the Bill. Those counties which came under the Freshwater Fisheries Act would be still excepted. In conclusion, he had only to say he would be quite ready to postpone the Committee stage for a fortnight, or a month, if that would meet the wishes of hon. Members.
§ MR. STUART-WORTLEY
said, it was obvious to anyone that the provisions of this Bill would operate upon other waters besides the Lakes of Cumberland and Westmoreland; that, although Norfolk and Suffolk did not come within the scope of the Bill, many waters which were frequented by fishermen would. He was peculiarly interested in this measure, because he represented constituents who were passionately attached to angling. The hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill had said that no representations against it had been made to him; but perhaps that was owing to the fact that the measure had been for so short a time before the public. The hon. Gentleman had, however, met the House very fairly by offering to defer the Committee stage to suit the convenience of hon. Members interested.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for Thursday 28th February.