HC Deb 22 June 1892 vol 5 cc1761-3


Considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 1.

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

I wish to inform the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Balfour) that my hon. Friends and I have handed in our Amendments, but they do not appear on the Paper, as we read the Bill a second time yesterday only half-an-hour before the House adjourned. Under the circumstances, I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to postpone further proceedings with the Bill until to-morrow, and with that object I move that Progress be now reported. Then, to-morrow, we can carry on the discussion.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Dr. Clark.)

MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)

I hope the Government will consent to report Progress with a view to withdrawing the Bill, unless it should be possible to make arrangements by which some of the Amendments handed in can be accepted. We all agree that the time has come when some change should be made in the Fishery Board of Scotland; but those whom I represent have a strong feeling that there should be no re-constitution of the Fishery Board unless accompanied by provision for the representation of fishermen by election on that Board. There is no provision of the kind in the Bill at present. I would point out to the First Lord that, under these circumstances, this Bill is highly contentious, and that it is not right or fair to the Scotch Members that it should be taken in the present condition of the House, when there are only five Scotch Members left on this side, and when there are no Scotch Members on the other side, except Members of the Government. Under these circumstances, I think it would be altogether unreasonable to now proceed with the Bill. I do not think the delay that would take place until a new Session is a serious matter; at least, it is not to be compared with the disadvantage of carrying the Bill in its present form.


I cannot agree with the hon. Member who has just sat down that it is a matter of small moment that any settlement of this question should be deferred to another Parliament. I know how difficult it is to get Bills of this kind through any Parliament; and I know how long a Bill of this sort, even when promised by a Government, takes to get through. Therefore I fear if, through the action of the hon. Gentleman and his friends, the passage of this Bill is deferred, that it may be a longtime before we see the question taken up again in a serious spirit and brought to a satisfactory conclusion. But, at the same time, if it he true, as I understand it is from hon. Members who have spoken, that large and important Amendments are put down which make it impossible to take the Bill to-day, and therefore involve a postponement of the further stages of the Bill, I have to recognise that it is quite impossible for the Government to pass the Bill during the present Session. I can only repeat that I regard the decision of hon. Gentlemen with great regret, and I must throw the responsibility upon them. Under these circumstances, I consent to report Progress, and I shall not endeavour to do that which is absolutely impossible—to carry the Bill in the course of the present Parliament.


We accept the responsibility of killing the Bill if necessary. My Amendments and those of my hon. Friends aim simply at bringing the Bill back to its original condition. The reason we have this Bill before us is because we had a Select Committee. The Scotch Office asked the Chairman of that Committee to draft a Bill, which he did, expecting that the Government would assist in carrying it out. But what have they done? Instead of attempting to pass the Bill as he drafted it, they have taken almost everything valuable out of it. All we are trying to do is to put the Bill into something like its original shape, so as to give effect to the suggestions of the Royal Commission and Select Committee who sat on this matter; and unless the Government are prepared to adopt their recommendations we will gladly kill the Bill. One point we intend to insist upon is that the members of these fishery committees shall, instead of being nominated, be elected by persons connected with the fishing industry. Another point is whether there shall be live or eight fishery committees. If the Lord Advocate can show that it is possible by dividing Scotland into five districts only to make this a workable measure, we will not oppose it; but at the present time we think there must be eight of these committees. Our Amendments are solely for the purpose of making this Bill a really useful and workable one. This is the second time in the present Parliament that the House has re-constructed the Fishery Board, and we do not want to have to re-construct it in the first Session of the next Parliament. Therefore, unless the Government are prepared to meet us in these and other respects, and to carry out the recommendations of the Royal Commission and Select Committee, we do not want the Bill at all.


I have in my constituency some four hundred voters who are fishermen, and I am certain they would not vote for me at the next election if I were to allow a Bill to go through this House which did not give them a voice in the election of the Fishery Board. Therefore I cheerfully accept the responsibility which may be supposed to attach to the attitude I have taken up, and I am sure that neither my friends the fishermen nor anyone else will regret the withdrawal of the Bill.

Motion agreed to.

Committee report Progress.

Bill withdrawn.