HC Deb 13 April 1891 vol 352 cc375-6
MR. KEAY (Elgin and Nairn)

I beg to ask the Lord Advocate whether he is aware that Messrs. Alexander Wood, James Flett & Sons, Murdo Morrison, and others, fish curers, who hold portions of waste and uncultivated land within 100 yards of high-water mark on the foreshore at Castlebay, Island of Barra, for which they pay a yearly station rent, and on which they have built sea walls, curing stations, and landing stages at great cost, have received from the agent of the landowner notice to quit on 1st May next, no compensation being offered for the disturbance or for the large outlay which they have incurred; whether he is aware that the notices of removal were not served till after these fish curers had all engaged boats and crews for the forthcoming fishing season at bounties of £50 per boat, the result being a large additional loss to them if they have to quit their stations; whether he is aware that the reason for serving the notices is that these persons, while willing to pay the rent of their stations, have refused to collect from the fishermen certain fees charged by the landowner for net drying done by the fishermen upon the foreshore, which fees they have discovered constitute an illegal demand on the fishermen, which, if made, would subject them to heavy penalties; and whether it is in accordance with the law of Scotland that a landowner can expel these persons from their stations at two months' notice under the circumstances stated without any compensation for disturbance and for the loss of all their outlay?


I have received a mass of information about this question, both as it originally stood on the Notice Paper and as it stands at present, with the result that almost every single statement or suggestion is said to be more or less inaccurate. I am the more inclined to believe that these denials are well founded, because several of the persons named by the hon. Member disclaim all sanction of or sympathy with those statements. But the whole subject matter of the question is purely one of private right and contrast, and it does not fall within my duty to express any opinion on the subject.