HC Deb 10 June 1891 vol 354 cc93-4
MR. LENG (Dundee)

I beg to ask the Lord Advocate whether it has been brought to his knowledge that Lieutenant General Burroughs, proprietor of the Island of Ronsay, has, by process in the Orkney Sheriff Court, interdicted his crofter tenants from quarrying stones, as they have always hitherto done, for the purpose of repairing their houses in cases of dilapidation, or renewing buildings which have become ruinous and dangerous; whether the proprietor has taken this course because the Commissioners under the Crofters' Holdings (Scotland) Act have deemed it right to make large reductions of the crofters' rents; whether Sheriff Armour, in granting interdict, remarked— It may be that a landlord who so chooses to act inflicts great hardship on his tenants, and perhaps in certain cases he may defeat the Crofters' Act and get rid of a crofter by this indirect means. It appears to me, however, that as the law at present stands, he is within his rights"; and whether, in any further legislation with respect to crofters' holdings, he will provide that landlords shall not be able to punish the crofters for asserting their right under the Crofters' Holdings Act by withholding from them the liberty to quarry stones for repairing or renewing their dwellings, which have been exercised by them, according to use and wont, from time immemorial?


I have no knowledge of this matter except through a newspaper report sent me by the hon. Member; but from that report it appears to have been clear that the landlord had, and that the crofters had not, right to the stones in question, and the right of the landlord is expressly recognised in the Crofters' Act of 1886. Whether, in any particular case, the landlord would do well to supply crofters with stones must necessarily be a question of circumstances, and the case referred to does not suggest any general difficulty which need require legislative remedy.