HC Deb 07 August 1890 vol 348 cc114-31

1. £16,122 (including a Supplementary sum of £1,874), to complete the sum for the Fishery Board, Scotland.

(4.20.) MR. DUFF (Banffshire)

The Committee now approach this Vote under somewhat unfavourable circumstances. It is not only brought forward at a late period of the Session, but the Export of the Fishery Board has not yet been presented to the House. I think we have just cause to complain of the great delay which has taken place in presenting it. I regret that I feel it my duty to complain of the action of the Fishery Board. For some years after the appointment of the Board they performed their duty in a fairly satisfactory manner, but of late years they have ceased to give satisfaction either to the fishing community or to the public of Scotland. Personally, I think it would have been better for the Government not to have introduced their Bill for the re-constitution of the Board unless they felt that they were able to carry it. It will be in the recollection of hon. Members that at the commencement of this year, a deputation waited on Lord Lothian, which I had the honour to introduce, representing the sentiments of the fishing community of Scotland in reference to the disposal of what is known as the surplus herring brand; and the answer which they received was very satisfactory, his Lordship admitting the justice of their claim, and holding out every encouragement that they would get the money they asked for. But what occurred subsequently? I was in Scotland at Easter time, and I found that Mr. Johnston, a member of the Fishery Board, had been going about the country saying that he did not care whether they got the £31,500 or not, because it would not be of much good to them; that what they wanted was £2,000,000 or £3,000,000. I certainly maintain, however, that the Scotch fishermen have just claims to a larger sum than this £31,500. I trust that, as the Government have approached the subject, they will go on with it, and that they will give to the Fishery Board a representative form and character such as will enable it to win the confidence of the Scotch people. I come now to the sum of £1,500, which is applied to the extension of telegraphs; we were always given to understand that the surplus herring brand fees were to go towards harbour extension. It is very hard on the fishing communities in Scotland that this money should be taken out of the surplus and used for Imperial purposes. I do not deny that the telegraphs are of great importance to the fishing community, but I contend that they are used, as in the recent Naval manœuvres, for Imperial purposes. I moved for a Return on the subject, but I must say that the Return has not been fairly filled up. I have made a calculation which shows that from 1883 to 1888 £4,000 were expended out of the fishery brand upon the extension of telegraphs, while the sum of £1,017 only was expended in harbour extension. Another matter upon which I desire to have information is, the instructions given to officers in command of the fishery cruisers. I am not going to make any complaint against the officers. I believe that, generally speaking, they perform their duty in a very creditable manner, but complaints have reached me on the subject, and I think it would be satisfactory, both to the officers and the fishermen, to know from the Government what their duty really is. According to my idea it is the duty of these officers to protect the trawlers, and I put that as a case in regard to which I should like to have some answer from the Lord Advocate. I do not ask him to produce the instructions given to these sea police officers; but I hope he will be able to say that the boats are there for protection, and not merely for ornament. I know it is a difficult matter to look after trawlers, and I have no reason to suppose that these officers are not fulfilling there duty satisfactorily; but I should like some Member of the Government to inform us, a little more in detail than anyone has informed us yet, what are the duties to be performed. When the Local Government Bill was before the House efforts were made to introduce clauses to create Local Authorities for small fishing communities which are not police burghs. These communities have, in several cases, spent considerable sums of money in building piers and harbours; but they have no legal means of imposing dues, whatever dues are paid being voluntarily paid. This is a very hard position. We endeavoured to get an end put to it when the Local Government Bill was before the House, but our efforts were not successful. However, we have received an assurance from the right hon. Gentleman that the matter is looked upon as one of pressing importance, and will receive the early attention of the Government. I know cases in my own county where a total expenditure of £10,000 or £12,000 has been incurred, and where the fishermen themselves have raised £4,000 or £5,000, but where there is no means of imposing dues. No doubt the power of levying dues on boats entering the harbour might be obtained by means of Provisional Orders; but Provisional Orders are very expensive things, and there is no reason why these small communities should be put to such expense when the mischief might be remedied by legislation. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will admit the truth of that proposition, and that the Government will turn their attention to this matter early next Session. These small communities have no Local Authorities, and, therefore, if they want to get a loan from the Public Works Loan Commissioners there is no one they can get to deal with that body, who are only empowered to deal with Local Authorities. There is another matter that has been frequently brought before the Goverment, and that is that nothing has yet been done to facilitate fishermen obtaining titles for their houses.


The hon. Member is now going wide of the Vote before the Committee. The point he is alluding to has no relation to the Fishery Board.


The Fishery Board Report dealt with the subject, Sir; but I will only say with regard to it, that I hope it will receive the attention of the Government. I will not continue my remarks any further. I think the Government have shown, by what they have done on the West coast, that they have some sympathy with the fishermen. I give them credit for philanthropic motives, but I must say they have been more philanthropic than successful. I do not think they have done much good. So far as the district I represent is concerned they have done nothing whatever to benefit the condition of the fishing, but I sincerely hope that early next Session they will give attention to some of the points I have mentioned.

(4.36.) MR. BARCLAY (Forfarshire)

This Vote has been looked forward to with a great deal of interest by the fishermen on the East coast of Scotland. I very much regret that the Government have not been able to bring forward a Bill for the re-constitution of the Fishery Board. During the last few years there has been a great scarcity of bait on the East coast, and the fishermen have been looking forward with hope to the adoption of the valuable and practical recommendations of the Departmental Commission which sat on this subject under the Presidency of the Member for Berwick. The case of the fishermen was that the mussel beds are not sufficiently protected, that insufficient attention is given to the cultivation of mussels, and that the price of bait is consequently extremely high. I have heard of cases in which the value of the fish caught by the fisherman has very little exceeded the price paid for the bait. I do not think it would require any large grant of money to remedy this state of things. What is wanted is a responsible body, aided by a grant of public money, to initiate the fishermen into the methods of cultivating bait, and who will be responsible for the protection of the beds. If that were done I believe it would be attended with such satisfactory results that the money advanced would ultimately be repaid. I regret the tone in which the hon. Member for Banffshire referred to the Fishery Board and to Mr. Johnston. In connection with the Fishery Board Mr. Johnston and his colleague have rendered valuable service to the fishermen. They have gone to the Continent and witnessed the methods of fish curing practised in foreign countries, and they have given the benefits of their views and conclusions to the fishermen of Scotland. As regards the particular matter to which my hon. Friend referred, I contend that if Mr. Johnston erred at all it was on the side of zeal for the fishing interests, because he believed that Scotland was entitled to a far larger sum than £31,500 out of the surplus herring brand. I hardly think that Mr. Johnston was correctly reported in the speeches that he made. The present Fishery Board is a great improvement on the previous one, and, although it is not equal to the expectations I had formed of it, I do not think the blame lies with the present Government. It lies, I think, further back. But let us hope that the Government will bring forward a measure early next Session which will provide us with a satisfactory Board, and also give us a sum of money for the purpose of benefiting the Scotch fisheries. The money we at present receive is altogether inadequate, and if the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been in the House I should have ventured to appeal to him to extend the grant. The small sum we have received has been, so far, well and judiciously applied. Steps have been taken in the direction of making scientific investigations, but it is impossible to expect a large amount of scientific work to be done, seeing that the Scientific Department of the Board receives no remuneration. It is not to be expected that that amount of time can be devoted to the work which the necessities of the case demand. From the example of other countries, I think a great deal ought to be done in the way of cultivating fish in Scotland, especially the mussel. It is not money so much as intelligence that is required; and I hope the Government will bear this in mind, and will endeavour to secure the services of some scientific men who will devote a considerable amount of time to the work. Another thing in connection with which there is a good deal of excitement and irritation amongst the fishermen, is the police of the sea. Acts have been passed in this House for the purpose of excluding trawlers from within three miles from the coast, and a Bill has been passed this Session largely increasing the penalties, but what is wanted is that the police of the seas shall be more vigorously administered. Trawlers, in the absence of the police boats, frequently come within the three mile limit, and do great damage, and I think steps should be taken to render this impossible. This Vote is altogether inadequate, and I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer should see his way to spend at least £5,000 on improving the Scotch fisheries. I think my hon. Friend has largely over-estimated the expense of Provisional Orders. If there is no opposition—and I think there will be none in this case—a Provisional Order could be obtained for £130 or £150. I obtained a Provisional Order for a small harbour on the coast of Forfarshire two years ago, and I think the figure I have named would be ample. I hope the Government will not fail to bring forward the new Fishery Bill at an early period next Ssssion, and that they will give ample power to the Fishery Board, particularly with a view to the cultivation and preservation of mussels.

(4.47.) MR. MUNRO FERGUSON (Leith)

I think all will acknowledge that the Scotch Fishery Board, so far as it is able, endeavours to do its best for the interests committed to its charge. There are one or two points to which I wish to draw the attention of the Committee in connection with the Vote. Constant complaints have been made by fishermen in Mid Lothian that trawling is not sufficiently watched, especially during the night time, and that trawlers poach on waters which are supposed to be protected. I think it will be realised that one ship cannot protect the whole of the coast nominally placed under the pro- tection of the cruisers, and that it would be well to add another cruiser to the Service. I recently suggested to the Mid Lothian fishermen that they should petition in favonr of an additional cruiser; but they declined to do so, because they said that unless there was on board the cruiser some local man who knew the coast and the habits of the trawlers, the Service would not be efficiently conducted, and no benefit would be obtained from the expenditure. I have no doubt the captains of the cruisers do the best they can, but the complaints are constant, and I believe that until some local man who knows the coast is put on board the cruisers, the fishermen will not be content with the protection afforded them. I sincerely hope the Government will realise that some further sum should be allowed in the form of a harbour grant. With respect to the herring brand surplus, it has been the cause of great discontent among fishermen that no money has been received by them for the improvement of Fishery Harbours out of that surplus. The example of other countriesis, certainly, worth paying some attention to. I see that in France £30,000 has been spent by the Government on harbours within the last 50 years, and I think some further attention might be given to the wants of the poorer localities in regard to the fishery accommodation in Scotland. I hope we shall have some assurance from the Lord Advocate that next year a Bill will be introduced and carried through on the subject.

(4.52.) DR. CLARK (Caithness)

I quite agree with what my hon. Friend says about the herring brand fishery surplus. This year we have a surplus of £l,500, and last year there was no surplus at all. If the Treasury acted fairly towards us, and did not charge £300 for a pension, and large sums for stationery and other things, there would be a larger sum to devote to this purpose. I wish the Treasury would treat us with one-tenth of the generosity with which they treat Ireland. I do hope that when the Fishery Board is re-constructed the Chairman will be a practical man, who will devote his entire time to the work. I think it is time that the gentleman at present holding the position should retire on a full pension. He has served his country long and honourably, and if pensions ought to be given to anybody he has a good right to one. I am sorry to see that between the scientific element and the practical element on the Board there has been some little trouble, and a very able scientific man who acted as assistant to the scientific member has been discharged. I very much regret that so unwise a step should have been taken with regard to the Jackal. I may say if the First Lord of the Admiralty had been here I would have moved a reduction of the Vote. The noble Lord was asked in this House whether it was the duty of those on board the Jackal to give assistance to the fishing boats when they got grounded, and when they could not get round during gales, and he replied that it was not their duty. We are giving £100 to the Commander of the Jackal, and we are providing £200 a year for the Vigilant. We have a right, under these circumstances, to demand that these vessels should give assistance to the fishing boats when they are in distress. Certainly, if assistance be refused again we shall move the reduction of the Vote, as a protest against such unbecoming conduct.

(4.57.) MR. H. T. ANSTRUTHER (St. Andrews, &c.)

I would ask the Lord Advocate to be so good as to inquire, with respect to what has been called the police of the sea, if it be not the case that the average speed of the steam trawlers who fish in prohibited waters is higher than that of the cruisers placed there to prevent them from committing offences against the law? I am informed on good authority that this is the case. If so, it is easy to see that no amount of good will, or zeal, or efficiency on the part of those on board the cruisers can prevent them being at a disadvantage in bringing the offenders to justice.

(4.58.) DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)

I have taken great interest in the scientific part of the work of the Fishery Board. That work is extremely valuable, not only in the interest of abstract science, but in the interest of the fishing eommunity generally and of the country at large. It is to be regretted that Professor Cossar Ewart is the only member of the Board who is entirely unremunerated for his services, but it is remarkable to observe how much good work he has done. The scientific labours of the Board are not only carried on in Edinburgh, but all along the Scottish coast in connection with researches into the habitats of fish and into the damage done by steam trawling. I wish again to complain of the non-appearance of the Report, and I venture to hope that in future years we will have this Report in our hands while the discussion of these estimates is proceeding, so that those who have an interest in scientific work of the Board should be able to say a word appreciative of that work.

(4.59.) MR. ANGUS SUTHERLAND (Sutherland)

My constituents take a very great interest in this matter of the Fishery Board. I am sorry to say that they have come to the conclusion that this is an entirely inadequate scheme; and I think that the want of confidence in the Board on the part of the fishermen is an obstacle to this House framing a scheme. This Fishery Board was first instituted to administer the bounty system. The bounty system has been abolished, but the Board remains; and it is perfectly evident that the machinery created for the purpose of administering the bounty system, now dead, cannot be the one best fitted for carrying out all that pertains to the industry at the present time. I have had occasion more than once to call the attention of the Lord Advocate to the vexatious restraints placed on this industry by antiquated regulations. I have pointed out that the prosecutions of the fish-curers have been a source of very great expense and annoyance, the prosecutions being instituted when the packages were only an infinitesimal fraction short of the standard. The fish curers represent to me the great disadvantage they are put under in the foreign markets by compelling them to put the fish into packages of a certain size. I hope the Government will bring in the promised Bill for the re-constitution of the Fishery Board, and that other matters to which I have referred will not be overlooked.

(5.5.) MR. MARJORIBANKS (Berwickshire)

I will not go into the question of the Fishery Board. I think my views on the matter are pretty well known to the right hon. Gentlemen opposite. I would rather refer to the work of the Board, and I think that what has been said about the scientific work of the Board is exceedingly true. I believe they have done very valuable service, both to the fishery industry and to science generally, by the investigations they have made, and I hope no check will be placed on that useful work. In that connection, however, I think it is rather a pity that the Board are inclined to throw cold water on the work done in the St. Andrews Labatory. I hope they will be induced to make greater use of that very invaluable institution. Another point I wish to raise is the question of police. I do think the Scotch fisheries want to be better policed altogether. They want the regulations better enforced, and it is impossible to do that unless you have a sufficient number of fast cruisers to act as police. It is undoubtedly the fact that the trawlers do constantly evade the restrictions placed upon them and come into territorial waters. I do not think it is possible to enforce these regulations too severely, and I hope that greater attention will be given to this point than in the past. With regard to the question of the Harbour Fund in the hands of the Scotch Fishery Board, it is not very large in amount. Harbour works are, unfortunately, expensive matters, and, therefore, at present the Fishery Board has not the power of doing very much good in this respect. The Board, I believe, maintains that it has not the power to use the funds for the purpose of collateral security for the loans by the Public Works Loans Commissioners. If that is the case, I think it is a very great pity. I believe it would be a very useful way of using the fund at the disposal of the Board to help on works arranged for by the Local Authorities. I hope the right hon. Gentleman may be able to give us encouragement to hope that if the Board has not the power now, it will have the power in the future to use the fund for the purposes of collateral security. Another point is that of the officers of the Fishery Board. Whatever we may say of the Board, we can all join in praising the work of the officers. I think they are an admirable body of public servants who have a great deal of work to do, and who have carried out that work well. These men have had an enormous number of extra duties imposed upon them in recent years, and they have had no increase of pay. The Fishery Board officers, as a rule, had originally nothing to do but superintend the mere act of branding the herring. They only required a special knowledge of the method of the white herring cure, and of the make and size of the barrels. But now they have duties of a very much larger and wider description. To some extent they are policemen, and to some extent Magistrates. They really deal with many of the smaller cases of dispute, and settle them to the great satisfaction of the fishermen, and with a great saving of expense to all parties. The Fishery Board officer is besides a collector of statistics, and he has many points of many Acts to administer. I think it very hard that these men should have had no increase of pay given to them for so many years. When I brought this subject before the Government on a previous occasion, I was told that the matter was worthy of consideration, and that the case ought to be attended to and looked upon favourably. But again it is one of those cases where delay has been the order of the day. Whatever may be done with regard to the Fishery Board, the officers will have to be maintained. I hope before another year comes round there will be some amelioration of their condition, and that an addition will be made to their pay.

(5.20.) COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)

Whenever I have asked for the prohibition of trawlers in Irish waters, I have been requested to await the result of the experiment in Scotch waters. Now, that experiment has been going on for several years, and I want to know from the Lord Advocate whether he can state that any success has attended it.


In reply to the hon. and gallant Member, I have to say, with regard to the experiment of prohibition, that the Act was only passed last Session, and there has not been time to gain information. There is no doubt that the experiment has been successful. The right hon. Gentleman opposite has alluded to various topics. Of course, it is quite proper that Parliamentary attention should be called to them, but it is rather for the Fishery Board to take notice of the suggestions of hon. Members than that they should be discussed here. As regards the Report of the Fishery Board, I am sorry that it is not in the hands of hon. Members. I imagine that the cause of the delay is the exceedingly elaborate nature of the Report. There are a variety of duties connected with the duties of the Board, and there are statistics of a very elaborate and instructive character. So far as we are concerned, every effort is made to press on the Report. Various remarks have been made on the Scotch Fishery Board, but I do not think it desirable to say anything discouraging to them during the remaining years of their office. I have no doubt they will take in a good spirit all that has been said with reference to their administration. Reference has been made by several hon. Gentlemen to the position of the Herring Brand Fund. I hope hon. Gentlemen have not failed to observe that the present position of the Herring Brand Fund is greatly improved, in so far as the amount available is concerned. A Departmental Committee was appointed, and their Report led to a re-arrangement of the charges which are put upon the Herring Brand Fund. That is evidenced by the large amount of expenditure in the original estimate, and the considerable amount which appears in the supplementary estimate. The hon. Member for Banffshire did not approve of the amount paid for telegraphs, and says it is really in aid of Imperial expenses, and ought not, therefore, to be part of the system. That is barely accurate. The grant is not in aid of Imperial Funds, for this reason: that the money is paid out of the Herring Brand Fund simply for the benefit of those who are unable to raise the guarantee required by the Post Office. Then it is urged that there is not sufficient assistance given for the increase of fishery harbours, where the local funds are not sufficient for the purpose. I was asked by the Member for Berwickshire for some assurance as to using this money for the purpose of collateral security. I am aware that the debt on harbours has been paid out of the Herring Brand Fund, but this a point of considerable difficulty. I will take note of it, and see that the attention of the proper authorities is called to the subject. The hon. Member for Banffshire called attention to the question of instructions to the cruisers. So far as the Jackal is concerned, I will speak with a certain amount of reserve, because it is a Queen's ship, while the Vigilant is under the control of the Fishery Board. Generally speaking, the duties they have to perform are to maintain the Fishery Conventions in the interest of the foreign fishermen and our own fishermen, when the latter were brought into contact with foreigners; to enforce the regulations in regard to fishing; to keep, order where the fishing boats congregate; to prevent offences against the Act of Parliament relating to fisheries; and to aid in the recovery of nets and gear which have been lost or abandoned. I think that is a fair general statement of the duties which fall upon them. The hon. Member put a hypothetical case which he presumed had occurred. But these things are so much questions of special circumstances that I do not think he can base a conclusion on the question of responsibility, either for going or for refusing to go, on special occasions. It would depend largely on the distance which it was necessary to go upon the exigencies of the case, and upon the other duties which fall to be discharged by the boat. Of course, it would be rash on my part if I were to pronounce on the case which the hon. Member has put. Several hon. Gentlemen have described the existing police arrangements on the sea as inefficient. I suppose they will all agree that, given the existing staff, the fullest possible use is made of these two boats, and probably it is true that in a chase with a trawler the cruisers, not having the speed, may be at a disadvantage. But hon. Members must not attach too much importance to that. Under the valuable Anstruther Act the penalties for offences are increased to such an extent as to warrant the hope that the trawlers will take warning not to offend. We have not had time yet to see the full effect of that Act. Then the hon. Member for Sutherlandshire spoke of some prosecutions which he regarded as unnecessary, or which, at all events, might have been dispensed with, for offences in connection with the Herring Brand. The hon. Member has called attention to the subject in Parliament, but I do not think he can complain of such cases recently.


What I wish is that the herring fishermen should be relieved from all anxiety on the subject, and not be liable to interpret rules which they cannot understand.


At any rate, it is a number of months since the question was raised, and I gather that nothing has occurred since then which has given rise to anxiety. The hon. Member for Banffshire has asked as to power to borrow on the rates. An answer to that question has already been given by the hon. Member for Forfarshire. I have looked into the question, and I think at present that the only solution of the difficulty which has been described, and which I quite believe has occurred in various parts of the country, is by a Provisional Order. The difficulty or expense of obtaining it depends on the conditions stated by the hon. Member for Forfarshire. If there were no opposition, the expense would be comparatively trifling, and it affords a complete solution of the difficulty. On the other hand, the efforts made to reduce the cost of the Provisional Order by having an inquiry locally would, of course, tend to reduce the expense. I think, however, looking to the existing Statute Law on the subject, the hon. Member has touched on a point where the facilities are not perhaps so complete as would be desirable considering the great importance of the subject. It will be looked into. The right hon. Gentleman has raised the question of the Fishery Board Officers—a subject to which he called attention two years ago. The reason of the delay has not been procrastination. The reason is this: As the right hon. Gentleman is aware, the whole subject of the expediency of continuing the Herring Brand has been again raised. The question of how the law should be enforced was raised, and the Fishery Board sent an expedition to the Continent, which has resulted, I believe, rather in confirming the opinion that the Fishery Board is efficient. But until the question is decided, more or less one way or the other, it is in vain to consider the salaries of these officers, because they might or might not have duties of a very considerable kind to undertake. But once it is ascertained what their duties will be, the question of their salaries may fairly be taken into consideration.

(5.38.) MR. DUFF

I think the Lord Advocate has replied in a very fair spirit. I quite admit that in this year's Estimates there has been a reduction of the amount to about £6,400, and that it was some years ago £5,000. So far I give the Government credit for that. But when the right hon. Gentleman came to deal with the Telegraph Vote, I do not think the explanation was quite so satisfactory. My complaint was that there was an expenditure of £5,017 on telegraphs for fishery extension, and that out of that sum the Fishery Board had paid about £4,000. Considering that these telegraphs are used for national purposes, I think it is unfair that so large a proportion of the Charge is laid on the Herring Brand Fund. I trust that matter will engage the attention of the Treasury. As to the Jackal being a Queen's ship, I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that the salary of the commander of that vessel is on the Votes, and we have a right to expect that the instructions given to the Vigilant should be extended to the Jackal. I think the right hon. Gentleman's answer satisfactory, but I should be glad to hear of more stringent instructions being given to the cruisers to afford greater protection. With regard to what fell from the Lord Advocate concerning a Provisional Order, the great objection to that is the expense. So far as my recollection goes, in a Return published of the expenses of Provisional Orders, none was under £160. I do not think the question would be entirely met if they did get a Provisional Order, or that it would constitute a Local Authority able to mortgage the fishery.


I suppose the Lord Advocate will understand that there is discontent with the management of the cruisers. There is the greatest possible discontent with the guardianship of the fisheries, and I am afraid there is some ground for that discontent. I was informed lately that the Admiralty had been applied to for an additional cruiser. I should be glad to know that there is a chance of an additional cruiser being supplied.


In case of telegraphs being granted to a locality, s does it rest with the Secretary for Scotland or the Post Office?


It rests with the Fishery Board. If there is any difficulty about the cruisers not being forthcoming, the proper course would be to apply to the Fishery Board with a view to having the cruisers used to the best advantage.

(5.41.) MR. T. SUTHERLAND (Greenock)

I have to call attention to the extent to which a trawl fishing to now allowed. A Petition has been submitted to the Town Council and to the Fishery Board on this subject. It states that line fishing has been almost done away with in consequence of the extent to which trawl fishing prevails. I shall be quite satisfied if the Lord Advocate will say that this matter shall be looked into, because I believe permission has been given far too hurriedly by the Fishery Board for beam trawl fishing. I believe that it is only right and fair that a new line of demarcation should be drawn beyond which this mode of fishing should not be permitted.


On the question to which the right hon. Gentleman refers, I presume that the Order in respect of the fishery was approved by the Secretary for Scotland.


In the neighbourhood which I represent the line fishermen on this question like Home Rule. We should like our "ain fish guts for our ain sea maws."

(5.42.) Vote agreed to.

2. £6,503, to complete the sum for the Board of Supervision for Relief of the Poor, and for Public Health, Scotland.


I do not wish to go at any length into the constitution of that mysterious body, the Board of Supervision. I find that a salary of £200 is given to the medical officer who is employed occasionally. He is a most excellent man—Dr. Littlejohn, Medical Officer of Health for Edinburgh—but I should think he is fully occupied in other directions, and that he has no time to give to the working of this great and comprehensive machine. A contrast should be drawn between this and the Local Government Board in England, where £13,000 is given for scientific purposes, and for collecting scientific information with a view to the prevention of the spread of disease. I would point out that now Local Authorities throughout Scotland have to appoint sanitary officers, and that it is necessary to place the central machinery on a better basis for the purpose of receiving Reports from all over the country.

(5.43.) MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON

The gentleman to whom the salary of £200 is paid is one of the highest medical authorities in Scotland, and the Board has the advantage of his experience and advice. This is not an appropriate occasion to raise the question of the expenditure of this Board under the Local Government Act, because each county will have to appoint its own Sanitary Officer.


I do not cast any imputation upon the abilities of Dr. Littlejohn, who is a personal friend of mine. He is a man for whose work I have the highest respect, and I only wish he could get treble the amount for it. My only fear is that he will not have time for the duties imposed upon him by the right hon. Gentleman.

(5.46.) DR. CLARK

In Ireland you give the chief officer £1,200 a year, and each of his staff £300; and in England you give him £1,200, and the members of his staff £800. You spend £13,000 in England, and about £4,300 in Ireland. In Scotland you only give this £200 a year to the Medical Officers. This is only one of many illustrations of the shabby manner in which you treat Scotland. People talk of the way in which India is exploited, As a matter of fact, the only country exploited is poor Scotland. Matters which in Scotland are paid for out of the local rate, are here met by Parliamentary grants. I hope to-night, now that the Rule is suspended, that the Motion for the appointment of a Committee, which has been put down week after week, will be dealt with, and that we shall get a Committee appointed, and a fair amount of money spent in Scotland. On the whole the present system works in a very unsatisfactory manner, and it would seem that these Boards are created less for the advantage of the public than for the benefit of certain individuals. I hope the Government will see their way to the re-construction of the Scotch Fishery Board in such a way as to promote the interests of the fisheries at large.

Vote agreed to.

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