HC Deb 25 August 1887 vol 319 cc1816-7
SIR HENRY TYLER (Great Yarmouth)

asked the Secretary to the Board of Trade, Whether he has received any information in regard to the disturbances reported to have occurred at Ostend; and, whether any steps have been taken for the protection of British fishermen and other subjects at that port?


asked, whether Her Majesty's Government had taken, or were about to take, any adequate steps to obtain compensation for the injuries to British fishing belonging to the East Coast?


(who replied) said: Her Majesty's Minister at Brussels has sent the substance of a Report by Mr. Vice Consul Thellusson, of Ostend, on the disturbances referred to, which corresponds substantially with the reports in the newspapers. Lord Vivian, on being made acquainted with the circumstances, at once brought the facts to the knowledge of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, who assured him that measures would be promptly taken to prevent a recurrence of the disturbances, and for the protection of British fishermen in the exercise of what His Excellency admitted to be their undoubted right, to soil their fish in the Belgian market. In answer to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck), I have formerly explained to the House that it is not within the function of the Public Prosecutor or the Government of a foreign country—of Belgium, for example—to procure compensation for damage done. That compensation may be obtained by a civil action; and the law of Belgium provides unusual facilities for recovery of such damages, seeing that it allows the civil suit to be brought by the aggrieved parties before the same Court which has tried the matter criminally.


said, his Question was, whether the Government would insist on compensation being paid?


I think the House will see that it is not for Her Majesty's Government to seek for compensation diplomatically when that remedy can be readily obtained by the ordinary course of law.

MR. CHILDERS (Edinburgh, S.)

As arising out of the Question and answers, I should like to ask whether there is any foundation for the allegation that fish brought here, whether in British or in foreign ships, is liable to duty?


I have a Memorandum from my hon. Friend the Secretary to the Board of Trade in case this Question was asked, and as regards the United Kingdom no Customs duties are levied on the import of fish, whether in British or foreign vessels; but dues are levied in many ports and harbours for the support of such harbours. But no favour or exemption is shown to fish brought in British boats as regards these dues.