§ MR. SEALE-HAYNE (Devon, Ashburton)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether he is aware that Edward Newton, a fisherman, has been imprisoned in Exeter Gaol for an indefinite period for gathering cockles on the foreshore of Teignmouth Harbour or Tidal Estuary of the Teign, in the county of Devon, in disobedience of an injunction of a county court judge; whether the said Edward Newton is still in prison; whether the inhabitants of Teignmouth have, from time immemorial, gathered cockles on the foreshore of Teignmouth Harbour; and, whether he is aware that the industry of gathering cockles has afforded the means of support to a large number of poor families at Teignmouth?
THE SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. CHILDERS) (Edinburgh, S.)
This is a County Court case, and the Secretary of State has no direct power of interference; but on my attention being drawn to the matter by the hon. Member I at once communicated with the County Court Judge asking for his observations. The Judge says that the part of the bed of the river in which this occurred is private property, and is laid out with much trouble and expense as an oyster preserve. Its title to be considered private property has been so clearly proved to the Judge that he has frequently granted injunctions to restrain the bed being interfered with by trespassers. With regard to Edward Newton, the Judge has ordered his immediate release, on the condition that he will obey the injunction. Of course, the injunction only applies to that part of the bed which is private property; and so I presume the industry of gathering cockles is not generally affected by it.