§ (9.5.) MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S)
Although the Resolution I propose to move to-night embodies a principle which has been often submitted to the House, sometimes in the form of a Motion, sometimes in the form of a Bill, and once in the form of a Bill it was on a Second Reading agreed to nemine contradicente, there has never been a Debate, because on that occasion those hon. Gentlemen who did not agree with the principle of the measure were endeavouring to prevent you, Mr. Speaker, from finding 40 Members present. It seems, therefore, right that I should take the opportunity of explaining what it is the Resolution contains, and what it does not contain. There has been a good deal of misunderstanding with regard to the proposal, and it is well to explain at once that the Resolution is not in any way directed against sport or sporting. With sport or sportsmen we have for the purposes of to-night nothing to do. I might go so far as to admit that the red deer gasping out its life on the sod is a more beautiful object than the same red deer bounding along with all the grace and vigour of life, and yet the argument in favour of my Resolution 92 would be equally strong. It is not against sporting I direct the Resolution, and neither has it anything to do with the general policy of deer forests. That is a question which has been more than once debated; it is a question of great importance, but it is not the question involved here now. All I ask to-night is to bring forward the grievance and suffering caused to the people of Scotland, and in a lesser degree to the people of other parts of the United Kingdom, by their exclusion from their right to enjoy the scenery of their own country, and to seek healthy recreation and exercise on their own mountains and moors. The grievance, no doubt, is greatest in Scotland. It is not too much to say that all over the Highlands the hills are completely closed. The Counties of Ross and Inverness are half occupied by deer forests, and I think there are ten counties altogether in which deer forests exist. They cover large portions of the Counties of Sutherland, Argyll, and Perth, and extend into several other counties. There are many mountains in Scotland as to which we have heard complaints of interference with harmless pedestrians—Ben Nevis, Ben Wyvis, Ben Alder, and many other parts of the Highlands. But complaints are most numerous respecting the country round Braemar—a district known to yourself, Mr. Speaker, as it is to many hon. Members. It is a district of unequalled beauty of its own peculiar character, and from its height above the sea, and its open valleys, it is a sort of natural sanatorium, to which persons who desire the best air and the most bracing climatic conditions are advised to resort. Braemar, however, is one of the places where the process of sealing up the country is carried furthest. It is hardly possible to stir off the roads in the neighbourhood of Braemar without being confronted by a ghillie, and threatened with proceedings by interdict. Even those superb mountains between the source of the Dee and the Valley of the Spey are so closed that one is obliged to stalk ghillies as the ghillies stalk the deer. I dare say the attention of hon. Members has been called more particularly to Braemar by what befell there last 93 autumn, when a well-known and frequently-used footpath over a beautifully-wooded hill was closed, although it had been used without interruption by the people of Braemar and visitors for a great number of years. The wantonness of that act shows the kind of spirit which has unfortunately taken possession of some Highland proprietors and still more so of the agents of the proprietors, because it is more often the action of the agents or factors than that of proprietors which is blameworthy. I hope that the impression made by the closing of this pathway, the only walk in the neighbourhood except the dusty high road, has roused the feeling of the people of Scotland, and to some extent, I hope, of the people of England, to a sense of the hardships visitors to Scotland have to undergo, and to the kind of spirit in which landlordism exercises its rights. But there is a still worse case in Scotland than this at Braemar—that of the American millionaire who has joined deer forest to deer forest, and formed a sort of enclave of wilderness in the Counties of Ross and Inverness, stretching almost from sea to sea for nearly 40 miles. Along the borders of this wilderness an army or cordon of ghillies is stationed to carry out the orders of the proprietor, and so strictly are these orders carried out that when the pet lamb of a tenant strayed within the boundary the animal was seized, and proceedings were taken against the tenant. The attempt to exclude people from the hills is used indiscriminately, whatever the object or purpose of the pedestrian may be. If the object was merely to keep off people in pursuit of game something might be said, but it is not so. The geologist, the botanist, the painter, or the simple pedestrian, who desires to climb the hills and enjoy mountain air and scenery, though he is not rich enough to go to Switzerland, all are treated with equal severity, and even when a man humbles himself to ask permission to do that which he ought to be able to claim as a right, he usually meets with a refusal. I find that in 1884, when the Crofter Commission reported, there were about 2,000,000 acres held as deer forests, and I find now, in the eight years which have elapsed since 1884, 94 about 386,000 acres have been added by the creation of new deer forests, although the Crofter Commission reported that no further deer forests ought to be created. So it is hardly necessary to say the grievance is not only severe, but every day growing in extent. Although the grievance is greater in the Highlands, it is by no means confined to the Highlands. I have heard stories from a great many other parts of Scotland where the same policy of exclusion is pursued. Footpaths on the Kilpatrick Hills, on the Clyde, near Bowling, have been closed by proprietors; and in other parts of the Lowlands, such as the Pentland Hills, similar complaints have been made. Indeed, there is scarcely any district where such complaints have not been heard. In England and Wales the case is not so bad, but I have heard of the initiation of a similar policy in the Lake District and in certain parts of Wales. Therefore, I think, although the case is perhaps hardest on the Scottish people, it is desirable to ask the House to affirm the principle generally for the whole of the United Kingdom. There are two parts of the grievance which we very much feel as regards the hardship complained of. One of them is this: that these Highlands, so far as I know, are the only country in the world where an attempt is made to interfere with the right of the people to walk freely over uncultivated ground. I have climbed mountains in almost every country—("Holland?")—no, not in Holland—I have travelled in almost every country where mountains are found, and I have made inquiries but I have never heard of a single instance in which the pedestrian, the artist, or the man of science has been prevented from freely walking where he wished, not even in those countries where the pursuit of game is most actively followed. In the Tyrol, in Corinthia, in the Styrian Alps, or wherever the sport of chamois hunting is carried on, there has never been an attempt to exclude pedestrians. I dare say hon. Members may remember the story of King Victor Emanuel, who was very fond of the sport of pursuing the wild Alpine goat. Occasionally it happened that members of the Alpine Club or other visitors 95 managed to climb a mountain on the day when the King proposed shooting there. All that the King did when he knew of such a party being in the neighbourhood was to send a messenger with his compliments asking them if they could make it convenient to go up another peak because he had arranged to shoot in that particular district. I believe our countrymen were always found willing to fall in with the wishes of the King, and I have no doubt any good mountaineer would be willing to do the like. I cite this to show that even in the case of a King, and in reference to a sport confined to a few spots, the King did not think of claiming a right, but simply asked as a favour that people would defer their visit to a peak from a particular day. Another division of our grievance is this: that in Scotland, at any rate—though I think it applies to all mountainous parts of the United Kingdom—it is practically a new grievance. Eighty years ago everybody could go freely wherever he desired over the mountains and moors of Scotland. Eighty years ago was the time when Scott made Highland scenery familiar to the world, the time when Wordsworth displayed the effect of his sympathetic studies of nature, and it was just at that time when Scott and Wordsworth's poems exercised such powerful spiritual and moral influences on the people that the policy of debarring people from the search after the truths of nature and intercourse with nature began to be pursued. Until 80 years ago no attempt was made to exclude people from wandering freely over the mountains of Scotland. I am informed by friends familiar with Scottish law that there is no case in our law books of an attempt to interdict any person from walking over open moors or mountain, except of recent date, but in the presence of two distinguished Scottish legal officers I do not give it as an opinion of my own—I only say that high Scottish authorities have so informed me. It was not until 1843 that deer forests began to any considerable extent to be formed, and only within the last 30 or 40 years has the practice of strict exclusion been adopted. It will not surprise the House to learn that this attempt to 96 shut people out from their own property, as I hold it to be, has created a very strong feeling in Scotland, and this has been evinced in petitions presented to this House. Of course I know there is a disposition to underrate petitions as a method of expressing public opinion, and it is said that powerful amalgamations can readily produce petitions, but when the people have no organisation at all, where the petitions have been nothing but the natural and spontaneous voice of the people, it is fair to attach some weight to them. There have been presented during the last few years a very large number of Petitions which deserve the utmost respect. Among many such Petitions I may mention, in addition to those from the inhabitants of districts affected, Petitions from the inhabitants of Edinburgh, Dundee, Paisley, Dunfermline, Inverness, and other towns in favour of the Bill. The Convention of the Scottish Royal Burghs have repeatedly petitioned in its favour, and similar requests have been made by the Royal Scottish Academy of Arts, the Society of Painters in Water Colours, the Glasgow Philosophical Society, and the Glasgow Geological Society. The only Petition ever presented against the Bill came from the now extinct body called the Scottish Commissioners of Supply, a body representing nobody but themselves. Since the Commissioners of Supply ceased to exist from the operation of the Local Government Act, no petition has been presented against the measure. When the County Councils came into being, one of the first actions of the Sutherlandshire Council was to send up a Petition in favour of the Bill. Although this is a serious inconvenience to those who visit Scotland for exercise and recreation, it is a far more serious grievance to the poor people who live there, and most of all to the poor crofter, who finds himself debarred from what his fathers enjoyed, and finds himself hemmed in very often by barbed wire fences from going on land which, by right and equity, is the property of the clan, although the title is vested in the landlord. It is a grievance severely felt that they should be excluded from what has been recognised as the property of the clan, and 97 cannot venture to lodge a visitor who desires to climb the mountains. Perhaps English Members may ask, or Irish Members may ask, how it is that this exclusion is effected? It is not effected by any directly criminal process, but in a no less effectual way by the process of bringing what is called an interdict. [Mr. ADDISON: A what?] An interdict, or what we should here call an injunction—the hon. and learned Member will understand that term. The effect of an interdict is to prevent persons against whom it is obtained from going on the land in question, and a breach of the interdict amounts to the offence of contempt of Court, and may subject the person who commits it to imprisonment. It is, therefore, in its second stage a very effective measure, and by that process, the right, if it exists, is largely enforced. But there is another way in practice, cheaper and even more effectual, and that is to station stalwart ghillies in the path with orders to prevent pedestrians from making the ascent of a mountain. Some people may say—"If you are confident of the justice of your right, you should oppose force to force, and knock down the ghillie who obstructs your way. (Hear, hear.) Some hon. Members cheer that view of the position, but I think the House will admit that that amounts to what is called "counsel of perfection." We are not all prepared for a bout of fisticuffs with a strong ghillie as the prelude to a mountain walk, and though it is true a geologist may be armed with his hammer, the appliances of the botanist and the brushes of the painter are suitable only for peaceful pursuits. I am bound to say, we must find some better remedy to prevent or avenge the wrongs of the pedestrian than to recommend the use of force. What is this remedy to be? It used to be said—"All that is wanted is to make this subject known, and good feeling will do the rest." But, Sir, we have waited a good many years for this good feeling on the part of landlords, and we discern no sign of its appearance. I do not mean to imply that the landowner is worse than the sporting tenant. This tenant, who comes from England, is probably as 98 intolerant as the proprietor. The only available remedy is to be found in legislation. The only remedy is to declare that the people have the right and ought to have the power to go freely over the mountains and glens of their own country. I have endeavoured in several years, and with the chances of the ballot steadily against me, to carry out this scheme of introducing a Bill providing the means by which the rights of the public should be vindicated, with provisions to prevent any abuse of those rights. I do not for a moment deny that the right of access might be abused by malicious or mischievous persons, and I think it is quite right to take precautions against such abuse of the right. I may mention what some of the precautions I proposed to take were. My Bill proposed to enact that, for purposes of recreation, for scientific or artistic study, it should be possible to go freely on uncultivated mountain land, but that this should not apply to the case of any land occupied or in immediate proximity to a dwelling house, or to plantations of young trees which might be damaged. Nor should it apply where persons went in pursuit of game, nor should it authorise any person to take a dog or to carry firearms. It would not entitle a person to look for eggs—hon. Members will recognise the scrupulous care presiding over every part of the measure—it should not be lawful to destroy the roots of any plants or shrubs, or to disturb any sheep or cattle so as to cause damage to the owner, and generally it should not apply to anything of a malicious or vexatious intent. Now these I think were ample provisions, but of course if any other provision could be shown to be necessary it would only be proper to give it full consideration. I confess having made full inquiry among landowners, sportsmen, and sheep farmers. I did not hear of any other precaution necessary beyond these, but naturally one desires to meet all reasonable objections, so far as is consistent with the substantial value of such a measure. I ought to mention some of the objections which are urged against the proposal. One of these is that it will injure sport, and 99 this I see is the objection taken by the noble Lord (Lord Elcho) in the Amendment he has given notice of. Well, I have consulted a good many friends who happen to be deer-stalkers, and one or two who own valuable deer forests and have pursued the sport for many years, and they do not believe that any substantial harm will be done by passing such a Bill. It is admitted there will be no harm done to grouse shooting, the only question that can arise is in reference to deer-stalking, and I have the opinion of deer-stalkers that no substantial harm will be done, if indeed an additional zest is not added, making it a little more difficult to pursue the sport. They scout the idea of the noble Lord that this will, in some cases, render deer forests totally valueless. However, I am bound to say that advocating this on principle, as I do, I do not rest my case on the fact that my proposal will not injure sport. If it can be shown that it will injure sport, still I say the people are entitled to this right all the same. The next objection to my proposal is that it affects the rights of property, and some compensation ought to be awarded to those whose property is so affected. I do not want to go into a discussion of this very difficult question, but I may point out in a plain and simple way that property in land is of a very different character from every other kind of property. Land is not property for our unlimited and unqualified use. Land is necessary so that we may live upon it and from it, and that people may enjoy it in a variety of ways; and I deny, therefore, that there exists, or is recognised by our law or in natural justice, such a thing as an unlimited power of exclusion. The power of exclusion has always been taken to be limited by reasonable conditions and the nature of the case. The power of exclusion was originally granted for two purposes only. One was for the cultivation of the soil, and the other was to enable persons in the immediate proximity of their residences to have a certain amount of privacy. But when we come to uncultivated land, and especially uncultivated land which is not used to any great extent for purposes of pasture, 100 but is mere mountain land, the reasons for exclusion utterly vanish. There is no such thing in the old customs of this country as the right of exclusion for purposes of the mere pleasure of the individual; and there is no ground in law or reason for excluding persons from a mountain, the right having there no value except to prevent other people enjoying themselves. That, I think, is a sufficiently clear distinction between the purposes for which the right has always been recognised and the purposes for which it ought not to be recognised. Unfortunately the Courts ignore that distinction, and I do not deny that the Courts of England, Scotland, and Ireland have in recent years granted actions for trespass and interdict to prevent persons going on uncultivated mountain land. This was done without having received the substantial assent of the people, whose rights were being practically filched away from them by the Courts. The time has come when we must assert what we believe to be the paramount rights of the nation. If anyone says that is dangerous to the rights of property, I will answer by saying that the real danger comes from the selfish and reckless, and even perverse and spiteful, use of the rights which the law has allowed. If there is any danger to property, it is because persons have declined to recognise the reasonable and equitable limitations within which those rights ought to be exercised. It, therefore, appears to me that there is in this case no claim for compensation for two reasons. In the first place, if ever there was a case of unearned increment, it is in the case of deer forests. They had no value for sporting purposes 70 or 80 years ago. Why have they now? Partly because a passion for renting a deer forest has sprung up, and there are wealthy people who like to enjoy themselves in that way, and because railways and steamboats have made it easy to get to these happy hunting grounds—made it easy for the wealth of England to get to the moorlands of Scotland. The landlord, who has received much more than his grandfather ever expected to receive, must not complain if that enormous unearned increment were, after all these years, somewhat 101 diminished by the resumption of their rights by the people. The other ground we take is, that whatever right the landlord has ever had is subject to what, I believe, lawyers call the rights of "eminent domain" in the people, and that paramount right must be taken to rank over all dealing in land, and we must not be asked to pay compensation for what we have never given away. I notice on the Paper that there are two Amendments to be moved to this Resolution, in the event of its becoming a substantive Motion. One is by my hon. Friend the Member for Partick (Mr. Parker Smith), and the other by the noble Lord the Member for Ipswich (Lord Elcho), a constituency in the neighbourhood of which there does not exist any mountain. Both Amendments mark an advance, for they both admit that there is a grievance; hitherto we have always been met with a direct negative. I cannot understand the meaning of the Amendment of my hon. Friend, unless it is to be an excuse for voting against my Motion. He does not deny that there are grounds for altering the present law, and then goes on to say that we should take measures for defining and protecting the existing rights of the people. I wish he had told us what he thinks those existing rights to be. Does he refer to rights of way? If he does, I can tell him we are not affected by them, for we are by no means content to be kept to a specified limited path in the centre of a mountain. If, for instance, I were going to the top of a mountain, and saw in the distance the cliffs overhanging a loch, I am not to be prevented from going to that loch because it happens to be in a deer forest and off the footpath. That destroys all the sense of joyous freedom which constitutes a great part of the enjoyment of fine scenery. Then there is another reason—these rights of way in Scotland have, to a large extent, disappeared. At one time there were rights of way over all the uncultivated parts of Scotland, and there were certain tracks, called drove roads, which were particularly known as being the common routes of traffic. With few exceptions these drove roads have perished, the landlords have taken 102 them away, and we find the expenses too great to come forward and rescue the remaining rights in the Courts of Law. Many that were in use 80 years ago have so gone out of use that we cannot furnish sufficient evidence of them in a Court of Session. Therefore, rights of way are by no means sufficient to satisfy our claims. My hon. Friend desires us to take measures. Will he tell us what the measures are? Until he does so, I must refuse to be led away by vague and shadowy hints from the definite proposal before the House. The noble Lord has a larger proposal. He is a little bolder than my hon. Friend, and I believe the reason is that he is not a Scotch Member. It is a little significant that no Scotch Member can be found to come forward with a negative proposal. The noble Lord proposes an Amendment which is not addressed to this Resolution at all; it is addressed to a Bill. It says that any measure which indiscriminately grants public rights requires certain safeguards. The time for that would be when the Bill embodying my Resolution is brought in, and I hope before long we shall have a chance of bringing in such a Bill. I do not admit, however, the allegation which he has put on the Paper, that the value of sporting rights would be injured, or that people or the sheep farmers would suffer. I have taken some pains to ascertain the views of the sheep farmers with regard to such a proposal as this. They think it would do no harm; what they suffer from most is the dogs kept by the keepers. I think, therefore, the Amendment of the noble Lord is intended to defeat by a side-wind an issue which he is afraid to meet openly. I cannot help remarking that the exclusion of the people from the enjoyment of the mountains of Scotland began just at the time when the love of nature and of the sciences of nature had been most widely and fully developed. The scenery of our country has been filched away from us just when we have begun to prize it more than ever before. It coincided with the greatest change that has ever passed over our people—the growth of huge cities and 103 dense populations in many places outside those cities—and this change has made far greater than before the need for the opportunity of enjoying nature and places where health may be regained by bracing air and exercise, and where the jaded mind can rest in silence and in solitude. It is at this very time when these needs are so deeply felt, that the thoughtlessness or selfishness of the few has debarred the lover of scenery and science from those enjoyments and pleasures they desire. It is, I believe, impossible to overestimate the worth of these pleasures to people like ourselves—people in whom education, expanding every year, stimulates the taste for poetry and beauty. Man does not live by bread alone. The Creator speaks to his creatures through his works, and appointed the grandeur and loveliness of the mountains and glens and the silence of the moorlands lying open under the eye of Heaven to have their fitting influence on the thoughts of men, stirring their nature and touching their imaginations, chasing away cares and the dull monotony of every-day life, and opening up new and inexhaustible sources of enjoyment and delight. It is on behalf of these enjoyments, and those who need them most, and in the hope of preserving for the people one of the most precious parts of their national inheritance, that I ask the House to agree to this Resolution.
§ (9.48.) DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)
It is a difficult matter for an Englishman and Scotchman to explain to the foreigner that we cannot walk where we please to enjoy our native land. In Switzerland we can ascend the mountains and enjoy the valleys, but the foreigner coming to Scotland will find the part which he expected to enjoy closed to him. We have got into a kind of numb condition, and look upon these acts and restrictions as a kind of inevitable law of nature, for which there is no reversal possible. But that evil has been growing so rapidly that public opinion has at last been aroused, and we are in 104 Scotland getting up an agitation for what I may call the restitution of our conjugal rights to the soil of our country. My hon. Friend has long waited for the opportunity to bring this matter forward, and having got it he has made such good use of it that the position of Seconder becomes both easy and difficult. Easy because he might be well content without saying anything, yet difficult if he attempts to enter into the questions which my hon. Friend has so well and ably discussed. Light and air are two of the greatest necessaries of life. Light was taxed at one period of our history; there has been no attempt to tax air, because the process would be so difficult. If it were possible to reduce the air we breathe to a commercial commodity, we should soon have joint stock companies to deal with it, as in gas and water, and paying dividends more or less large—generally large. What is now going on in Scotland is the nearest approach to that which can happen. By the action of a number of interested persons we find that the lungs of our country are sealed and the reservoirs of fresh air which we ought to enjoy freely are closed by certain conditions of private enterprise. I believe some of our opponents are sufficiently audacious to say there is no public feeling on this question in Scotland. There may not be in Ipswich or the Partick Division of Glasgow, but if they would come to the North of Scotland, to Braemar, they would soon be persuaded that there is a very strong feeling on the question. If any Southerner going to the North to look for a seat is not sound on what is called "Bryce's Bill," he may as well pack up his carpet bag and make immediate use of his return ticket, a sadder and probably a wiser man. The feelings of the country are very deeply stirred indeed, and the difficulties placed in the way of those going to that part of the country for the purposes of art and natural history are very great indeed. I can tell the House of an artist of my acquaintance who was taken into his lodge by a gamekeeper. The latter, however, soon became uneasy as to the danger he ran, so the artist went to the noble owner himself, thanked him 105 for the permission he supposed the noble Lord had given for him to live with the keeper, and asked if he might sketch in the neighbourhood. The noble Lord, in a somewhat gruff manner, said, "You may sketch so long as you don't go off the road. The right of way is public property." As he was leaving he heard a henchman say to the keeper, "I don't think these kind of people ought to be allowed to come into the country at all." That is the feeling of the keepers—morbid suspicion of strangers and outsiders. We have heard of the American invasion, and of the growth of the deer forests in the last few years, and we know that at this very moment there are about 2,500,000 acres under deer forests in Scotland, and it is from this part of the country, which comprises the most enjoyable and health-giving districts of Scotland, that the people are most rigidly excluded. What should we say if Regent's Park, Windsor Park, or Hyde Park were devoted to some sport—real or imaginary—and tourists and those who wanted health were rigidly excluded? My hon. Friend has well pointed out that the danger to sport under these proposals would be infinitesimal, if it existed at all. I have the honour to be the proprietor of a mountain from which nobody has been excluded, but it is only grouse moor and not deer forest, so I can only speak from the point of view of grouse. The stalking part of a deer forest is usually, however, so far away from the parts selected by tourists that the danger of injury to the sport would be infinitesimal; but if there should be, sport must give way to the necessities of public convenience. The danger to sheep farming is, I should think, purely imaginary, except during lambing time, and that is not the time when tourists are at all likely to be in the neighbourhood. I believe that grouse driving has done a certain amount of harm to sheep farms; but speaking for many of my constituents, who are large sheep farmers, I should say that the idea of danger from tourists may be entirely put aside. We are told that the proposal is to be opposed in the interests of the rights of property. Of course, 106 those rights must be sustained, and nobody can be more zealous than I am for sustaining those rights, but it is just possible that the point may come when private rights may become public wrongs. We know cases where the State has interfered under the good old blessed word "compensation," but we know that this kind of property is really no property at all. Game is not property. I am one of those who have always defended the Game Laws, because I believe they are accompanied by many advantages under proper conditions; but I have always felt that rights in game can only be defended when they do not entrench on the enjoyment of other people, or in any way interfere with industrial rights. I think, therefore, in the interests of sport and the rights of property, it is time some concession were made in the direction indicated by the Motion. This proposal, which will eventually be embodied in a Bill, is hedged around with so many protections in regard to the rights of property that I do not see how anyone can object to the proposals it shadows forth. I think that by adopting it a good deal of the irritation will be allayed, and a great deal of the agitation now beginning, and which will be stronger in future, will be prevented. I hope we shall have a good Division, and that the people of Scotland will be able tomorrow, by the names in that Division, to see who are their friends and who are their foes.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, legislation is needed for the purpose of securing the right of the public to enjoy free access to uncultivated Mountains and Moorlands, especially in Scotland, subject to proper provisions for preventing any abuse of such right,"—(Mr. Bryce,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ (10.4.) COLONEL MALCOLM (Argyllshire)
I can inform the hon. Member who has just sat down that if 107 he went over certain parts of the Alps he would find himself the object of very great interest and considerable pursuit from certain individuals who answer to game-keepers in this country, and who would not permit that freedom of access that he suggests in the glaciers of that part of the country. But, moreover, I think he must have forgotten, in the few words he said with regard to the proposal, the suggestion or statement made by a predecessor of his in the representation of Aberdeenshire. I was in the House a good many years ago when there was a Committee on the subject of the Game Laws, and one of the Members was Mr. M'Combie, who was a well-known agriculturist in Aberdeenshire. After listening to the evidence, he thought that the Game Laws should be abolished, but that a stringent trespass-law should be substituted. Such was the opinion of an experienced and well-known agriculturist. I would point out to the Mover of the Resolution that I could agree with him that man does not live by bread alone—I think he lives by mutton as well, and I think he will find very great difficulty in carrying out the safeguards which he proposes. My only difficulty with regard to this Motion is the latter part, "subject to proper provisions for preventing any abuse of such right." He said just now that he intended that the people having such access to these mountains should not be allowed to disturb any sheep or cattle—I think that is the way he put it.
§ COLONEL MALCOLM
If he causes damage to the sheep or cattle I suppose he causes damage to the owner. I want to know how he thinks it possible on our Highland hills to protect the farmer in any such way. I have had more or less to do with sheep farming all my life, and I, with many other gentlemen, are pretty well cognisant 108 of the manners and customs of those animals on the whole; and I think that any one who has walked up on those hills, even for sketching purposes, or anything else, and has come suddenly up with a band of sheep that are not in the habit of seeing strangers—and I should like to see how you are to make the sheep on the Highland hills cognisant of strangers—any such person will readily recognise the danger. It is the very essence of the difficulty, and anyone who knows the habits of these animals will see the difficulty. The Mover of the Resolution did object to the greatest possible safeguard, and that is that when people wish to go to any well-known point of view, or to see anything of that sort, that they should be confined to a particular line or pathway. But anyone who knows anything of the habits of animals will know that to see people constantly coming upon them will make them habituated to the presence of strangers; that they would very soon lose their fears, and that the sheep would not run in the way they do at the present moment. Hon. Gentlemen may laugh, but I am speaking particularly of a district where I do not suppose any man was ever turned back in his life as long as he was not doing positive mischief. It is all very well for gentlemen to say they do not go to the hills when the ewes are in lamb. We do not have lambs in the Highlands the same time as they do down here. It is far later in the year, and consequently if people go to the hills, and a good many people go to the Highlands, they will, if this Resolution is passed, without proper safeguards, do the mischief the right hon. Gentleman very properly wishes to avoid. But why apply this to Scotland and not extend it to Great Britain? Anyone who knows how sheep are apt to feed across the march or boundary will see their danger. If shepherds intrude upon them they do it quietly, and take care not to disturb the sheep suddenly. There may be ewes amongst those unfortunate animals heavy in lamb. At all events, they may be heavy with their fleeces; they rush off when frightened by strangers coming 109 suddenly upon them, tumble into the march burn or ditch, and perish. This is one of the great dangers when three or four strangers come suddenly, when climbing a hill, upon a number of sheep. If a shepherd turns the sheep back he is bound to see that nothing of that sort happens, and if it does he is bound to lift them out. Your casual stranger knows nothing about it, and does nothing of the kind, and that is one of the dangers that I see. But there is yet another point which I wish to lay before the House about this proposal which I do not know how far the hon. Member wishes to apply it. He says this is mere mountain land. But mere mountain land may be very good pasture; and the best of it in many places is being fenced in order to enable the stock on the farm to be kept more separate, and the farm be worked with better success. Wire fences have now been introduced to the saving of labour and cost, and how are you to prevent people climbing up mountain sides, throwing down those fences which are now coming into general use in the Highlands. I suppose it is not one of the objects of this proposal to prevent the enclosure of Highland farms, and give vested rights to the public to walk over them in any direction they please. I suppose he does not propose to deal with future enclosures, so that if it was necessary to enclose a hill the Bill should not interfere—
§ COLONEL MALCOLM
This matter, however, I suppose will be dealt with if the Resolution is carried, and a Bill brought in to give practical effect to it. I suppose the hon. Member does not wish to make the unfortunate farmers liable for the acts of their own cattle. That is a danger which might arise, for some of the Highland cows resent incursions of the kind proposed, and a considerable risk of injury might be incurred by people 110 strolling about in rather bright dresses. As regards scientific research, no one, I suppose, is anxious to interfere with that in any way; but I must confess, from my own experience, that it would be a very long time before I told a stranger prowling about where there was a rare flower, a rare fern, or a rare bird nesting. I have seen the result of giving such information to quasi-scientific people, who think it necessary not to cherish but to destroy everything that is rare and beautiful. I have suffered myself from that in my own immediate neighbourhood, where, one of the rarest ferns having been found out, it was carted away and exterminated by persons of the description I have alluded to. I admit that that is a thing which the hon. Member for Aberdeen said he would net encourage and that he was anxious to discourage. My main object in rising was to point out some difficulties in the way of carrying a Bill founded upon this Resolution into practical effect; and I do think that we should be very careful, while endeavouring to give pleasure to some, not to inflict damage upon people who are endeavouring to earn a livelihood in a fair and proper manner upon those mountain farms.
§ (10.20.) SIR JOHN KINLOCH (Perth, E.)
I must say that, the sentimental side of this question having been fully treated, I am desirous of approaching it from the point of £ s. d., and in the most practical form. This cry of free access is not very much a pressing question with residents who live near these mountains. It is more a question with tourists who pay summer visits to Scotland and who are interested in this question. Scotland is becoming year by year more a health resort, and increase in the number of these visitors is to Scotland matter of great importance. It brings to us a great amount of wealth, and it is from that point I wish to consider it. Why they come to 111 Scotland is because, of course, of its many attractions in the way of scenery and as a health resort, and those tourists naturally seek the advantages proposed in this Resolution; they require the liberty of going about upon our mountains. But, according to the present state of the law, the mountain attractions and other places of resort might be arbitrarily closed to visitors any moment by exclusive proprietors. Take the Highland villages, why they are practically at the mercy of the proprietors, as in the case of Braemar. This present liability to be closed of the health resorts and mountains and waterfalls of Scotland has the effect of keeping back the summer visitors, who are a great source of wealth, and it stands to reason that these tourists should be encouraged. We have another class of men who bring in an enormous amount of wealth; these are the sportsmen, and I think we should come to some settlement, so that there should be no conflict between the two classes. We Scotchmen look closely to the £ s. d., and it is by practically taking up the question that no conflict would arise. A general idea seems to prevail that these visitors go about seeking what damage they can do. I have never found tourists in Scotland of that kind; they are the most reasonable of people, and only too ready to adopt any suggestions made to them. As to the matter about grouse moors, I appeal to all practical men who know what grouse shooting in Scotland is, and I am sure they can tell the House that such proposals as are contained in the Resolution will not do harm to grouse. No amount of access can do any harm, as they are not there in the nesting season. With regard to the disturbance of sheep grazing, I think it is a most extraordinary argument to be brought forward, especially by sportsmen. Ask any farmer whether he would not have a tourist in preference to a sportsman. People who live in glass houses should not throw stones, and that argument should not have been used. As to deer forests we know they are not popular, but in a well-conducted deer forest a proprietor who has common sense never prevents men going on it. 112 They do no harm, and the bulk—all but the few who wished to assert themselves to the utmost—the bulk of the proprietors in Scotland have allowed the people to go through their deer forests. I am sure if visitors and tourists are only treated civilly they will do no harm. I therefore support this Motion, and strongly recommend the Conservatives on the other side of the House to pass it into law. English and Scotch tourists when they are refused access to, and are turned away from, the deer forests, they go back home and say, "These deer forests are a perfect curse." But if the law was altered they would go back home in a very different frame of mind, protesting against deer forests being done away with.
§ (10.31.) MR. BUCHANAN (Edinburgh, W.)
I think that nothing must have astonished the hon. Member who brought forward this Motion so much as the character of the opposition to it. There are on the Paper two notices of opposition to the hon. Member's Motion—one by the hon. Member for Partick. I do not see the hon. Member for Partick in his place. I do not know what the cause of his absence may be; but I regret that he is not here, for I am anxious to hear him support his Amendment. He is a member of the Eights of Way Society in Edinburgh, and by his Amendment he seems to indicate that if a settlement were arrived at on the Eights of Way question, that might be a prelude to a settlement of the question raised by the Member for Aberdeen. I am perfectly willing to allow, with the hon. Member for Partick, that if we had a better and more satisfactory system of asserting rights with regard to rights of way in Scotland, a good deal of the Motion proposed by the hon. Member for Aberdeen would not be necessary; but there is no doubt in the world that however perfect a system we may have of asserting rights of way, rights to 113 footpaths, &c, we should not in that way have settled the question raised by the hon. Member for Aberdeen. There is another Motion of opposition down on the Paper, and that is in the name of the noble Lord the Member for Ipswich. I am rather surprised that the noble Lord has not yet risen, as I observe he has collected a number of Blue Books in order to back up, no doubt, the speech he intends to deliver, and I am almost tempted to go across the House and consult the documents reposing on that Bench. But after the speech delivered by the hon. Member for Aberdeen the noble Lord the Member for Ipswich executed what has been described this afternoon as a détour. He went out of that door and re-appeared in that door, and has been in a position almost behind your Chair, Mr. Speaker, ever since, and I observe that he had not been at any trouble to move the Motion which stands in his name. I am sure all of us, especially all the Scotch Members, are very curious to learn what the noble Lord has really to say in support of his Motion, because the noble Lord deals in a very large way with every possible form of opposition that may be offered to this Motion. I do not think the opposition of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Argyllshire is such as to do very much harm to the hon. Member for Aberdeen, because practically it comes to this: that the sheep in Argyllshire are not conversant with strangers. Substantially the whole gist of his argument against the Motion was that possibly 300 or 400 sheep on the hills of Argyllshire, not being conversant with strangers, might run into a ditch and receive considerable damage. But he was reasonable enough to allow that any such possible danger which might ensue from the incursions of these strangers might easily be provided for, and was provided for, by the Bill which the hon. Member has introduced into this House on several occasions. I am bound to state, from what we have already seen in this Debate, the House will gather a very clear interpretation of what the feeling of Scotland is on this subject. There is in Scotland no opposition whatever 114 to the proposal of my hon. Friend. The opinion in Scotland is absolutely unanimous on the subject. Two or three years ago, in the year 1887 I think it was, all through the summer season at the railway station at Helensburgh, which is situated on the borders of the Highlands, there was always lying at the book-stalls there a Petition in favour of my hon. Friend's Bill; and the reason for that was this—the Leader of the House laughs and sneers at the illustration I am giving—but what was the reason of it? The reason of it was this: that the shooting tenants within the last twelve years had prevented the growing population in that neighbourhood from the access they had to the hill country around. I will give another instance. On the Western side of Ross-shire, as is well-known, and has been already alluded to by the hon. Member for Aberdeen, a certain gentleman has annexed an enormous extent of territory, which he has put into deer forest. A great deal of blame has been laid on the shoulders of this gentleman, not unjustly I am bound to state; but still I may observe that a certain amount of blame ought to be put on the shoulders of the Highland landlords who have given him the rights which he enjoys, by which he excludes the public from this large extent of land. ("Hear, hear!") I am glad the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord agrees with me in that. In 1881 this gentleman had come almost within touch of the Western Coast on the verge of Loch Duich. Up to that year the public had practically free access to the Falls of the Glomak, the highest water-fall in Great Britain, and one of the most interesting sights in Scotland. This gentleman the following year extended his territory westward, and included in his forest this very interesting waterfall; and from that time to this every obstacle has been thrown in the way of visitors to the country visiting that which undoubtedly is a point of very great interest. Already the hon. Member for Aberdeen has alluded to the "pet lamb" case, which also occurred on the shore of Loch Duich. Before I sit down, in support of what has been stated 115 by the hon. Member for East Perthshire, I wish to assure the House that opinion is overwhelmingly in favour of this subject not only in the country districts, but also amongst all the towns and cities of Scotland. There is no subject on which they feel more keenly. I hope, therefore, that it will not be long before their views, put in the form of a Resolution, shall be carried out in legislation.
§ (10.43.) LORD ELCHO (Ipswich)
I am flattered to find that a great deal more interest has been taken in the Amendment I have put upon the Paper than in the Question that is now before the House. My Amendment was only to be moved if the hon. Member for Aberdeen's Motion became a Substantive Question; and as it has not yet become a Substantive Question of course I cannot move it. The hon. Member for Aberdeen for his Motion to-night has been the recipient of a great deal of sympathy because he had not the opportunity before of bringing this question before the House. But I should like to remind the hon. Member that in the year 1888, I think it was, his Motion was down on the Paper for discussion. It was not in the form of a Resolution, but a Bill; and many of us were interested in that Bill. We came down to the House at about ten minutes past 9 o'clock, and though I am willing to admit that we were not all actuated by benevolent motives towards the proposal of the hon. Member, we were surprised to find that not only had the Second Reading of the Bill been carried without a word from the hon. Member, but a great many other measures had also been carried. I could not help feeling that if the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby had been present at that moment we might have heard something about a dirty trick; but the right hon. Gentleman was not present on the occasion. Now I am not going to move the Motion which is down on the Paper in my name at 116 all, because it would be out of order for me to do so. But I should like to say a few words and ask the hon. Member about the safeguards which he proposes to introduce into his Bill. I should not be in the least afraid of defending the question of deer forests if I had the opportunity. The deer forests were attacked and were examined into by a Royal Commission, and the Royal Commission reported entirely and absolutely in their favour. It was said that the population had been displaced to make way for the deer, but that was denied before the Royal Commission; it was also disproved that the pasture was deteriorated by the evidence taken by commission; and it was that the deer forests did not do any harm to the country, but did good to the community at large. It was shown that deer forests employed a large number of people, who, if there were no deer forests, would not be employed at all. It was shown that on 50 deer farms in the last 40 years over £2,500,000 had been laid out by the owners and lessees in making fences, planting, and making paths and roads. And, above all, it was shown that owing to the deer forests the rates in Scotland were infinitely less than if the deer forests were abolished. I have had a great deal of conversation with landlords, proprietors, and lessees of shooting, and they agree with me that in the large majority of cases the deer forests will not be materially injured if the proposal of the hon. Member for Aberdeen be carried out. I am perfectly willing to admit that I can conceive cases in which deer forests would be benefited rather than otherwise; but if any hon. Member said that his deer forest would be benefited by this proposal, I would look with grave suspicion on the manner in which his forest was conducted. The hon. Member spoke in a most moderate and fair manner in introducing his Bill, and I can only say that I have no sympathy whatever with any proprietor or lessee who did anything unnecessary to keep tourists or people off their property; and I say that I can conceive no instance in which a resident proprietor would be justified in keeping tourists off his forest when the stalking season was 117 not going on. The stalking season only lasts six weeks, and I believe in that time incalculable harm may be done by allowing people to roam at large over a forest. We have to deal not only with the ordinary tourist, but we must remember that the Scotch people are a social, not to say a convivial, people. There are field clubs, and also in parts of Scotland what are called Alpine clubs, in which the members make ascents of neighbouring hills accompanied and preceded by bag-pipes. I should like to know whether the hon. Member would be prepared to exclude these weapons of offence; because, although I believe the blowing or playing of the bagpipes is an invigorating and healthy amusement, I cannot help thinking that it would have a disastrous effect upon the unaccustomed ears of the red deer in the forests. We have been asked why we should not have the same liberties in Scotland as are enjoyed in Switzerland. I should like to remind the House that in Switzerland the people live upon the tourists and grow fat upon the tourists; and although yon may go up the mountains there is hardly a grotto, there is hardly a water-fall which you have not to pay to see; and if you want to hear the echo or to hear the horn blow you have to pay extra for it. The consequence is that the frequented parts of Switzerland have been converted into a sort of glorified tea-garden. But in Scotland it would not be the same at all. The Scotch people who come to tour in the Highlands would not bring money at all. There would be no chance of the population growing fat upon them. They would bring nothing with them, and they would leave nothing behind them. The family paper and broken ginger beer bottles are the only traces that are left behind them. I have to apologise to the House for having spoken, because I had not the slightest intention of doing so tonight. I admit I was drawn by the hon. Member for Edinburgh. I can only say as regards the general spirit of the hon. Member's loyal wish that greater facilities should be given in Scotland to tourists to see the natural beauties of Scotland, nobody 118 is more anxious to see further facilities extended to them than I am.
§ (10.55.) MR. A. SUTHERLAND (Sutherland)
I have listened to the speech of the noble Lord who has just sat down with very great interest. He made the remarkable statement that the deer forests have been approved entirely by the Royal Commission. I presume he means the Commission presided over by Lord Lothian. Is he aware that the Commission recommended that the deer forests should cease from that date?
§ MR. A. SUTHERLAND
Yes, there was a very strong recommendation to that effect. I am perfectly prepared to ground my statement on that Report.
§ MR. A. SUTHERLAND
I have not got it. I did not come prepared to debate this question over and over again. The noble Lord referred to Switzerland, and said that in Switzerland there was a great lot of money made out of tourists. I hope that the noble Lord was not serious when he said that the Scotch tourists did not bring money with them and were not remunerative, because, if he was, the landlords of Scotland would only seize upon them and make remunerative use of them. He also made reference to the fact that the members of certain societies in Scotland were preceded by bag-pipes. I do not know what view the noble Lord may hold with regard to this; but it is a remarkable fact that the great part of the bag-pipe playing is not native, but kept up by the class the noble Lord has championed in this House. And it has become a bye-word that if a man is seen posing in this theatrical manner he is always said to be an Englishman or a foreigner. It is no argument to say that the deer forests pay such a large proportion of the rates in Scotland. The deer forests pay so great a proportion of the rates simply because such an extent of the land is under 119 them. Any argument of that character simply amounts to this: that if a rational distribution of that land was given to the people for the purpose of cultivation its value would be increased tenfold. I know instances of people paying 30s. or £2 an acre for land whose agricultural value was only worth twopence in many parts of Scotland. If the land which is occupied by deer forests were divided amongst the people for the purpose of grazing, it would pay very much more than it does now. Under all the circumstances of the case, I am astonished at the moderation of the hon. Member for Aberdeen. I fully agree with what the hon. Member for East Perthshire said. The hon. Gentleman speaks with authority upon this subject, being a landlord himself in Scotland, and he says that it is the interest of the landlords that moderate measures like this should be accepted. I, myself, look upon this question simply as an adjunct of a much larger question. Sir, 80 years ago was an interesting time in the history of the Highlands, for it was then that there took place the famous clearances with which this House and the country are familiar.
§ (11.3.) THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR SCOTLAND (Mr. GRAHAM MURRAY,) Bute
Sir, the Resolution before the House has been discussed from what I may characterise as two different points of view, and I think that perhaps those hon. Gentlemen opposite who were so anxious for the appearance of the noble Lord the Member for Ipswich to take part in this Debate will find the explanation of his somewhat tardy appearance in the reflection that after all his Amendment is not, perhaps, so very different from the Resolution as might at first sight be suggested. In the eyes of the impartial spectator it is not so very different, and it is in an attitude of impartiality that the Government would wish to approach the discussion of this question. This Resolution begins by affirming the fact of the need for securing to the public the right of access to mountains and moorlands, and especially 120 in Scotland. That is a fact that does not admit of absolute proof, but is rather to be determined by the experience of those of us who are most familiar with the country. To a large extent the view is based upon what I must call sentiment. I do not use the word "sentiment" in any sneering sense. I entirely sympathise with the sentiment for the enjoyment of his native scenery that has been so eloquently described by the hon. Gentleman opposite. But, in so far as it rests upon the idea that there has been in the past, or that there is now, any great practice of exclusion from the mountains or moorlands of Scotland, I must honestly say that that opinion is exaggerated. There are three classes interested in this matter. These are (1) the inhabitants; (2) the persons who follow scientific pursuits; and (3) that much larger class who go out for the purposes of fresh air and recreation. As regards the inhabitants, I should say that their familiarity with their native hills is a proof that they have not been excluded from them. As regards the second class, it has not been attempted to be shown that there ever has existed one single case where a person wishing to pursue scientific research and making application in the proper quarter has been refused. And, Sir, with regard to the third class, I cannot help thinking that those most familiar with Scotland will not deny that they have greater facilities than the speech of the hon. Gentleman opposite has given the House to understand. I cannot assent to some of the expressions of the hon. Member that the Highlands of Scotland are completely closed, and that if permission was asked it was generally refused. The best-known and the highest mountains—Ben Nevis and Ben Lomond—have recognised paths to the top, by which the public are free to go. If they prefer health resorts, such as Pitlochry and Braemar, which have been instanced as the worst in this respect, they will find that there is more freedom in those places than the House has been led to suppose. Even in Braemar, to which the hon. Member opposite particularly referred, it is the fact that, except during one short season, persons are allowed to go through 121 the forests if only they ask permission and are accompanied by a forester. There is another class of evidence which shows that there have been given greater facilities than the hon. Member would have the House believe. The hon. Member has referred to the absence of ancient cases of trespass by way of interdict on uncultivated grounds. But the law books of Scotland are just as silent in those cases in recent years. I entirely agree with them, because in Scotland there is not in any true sense a law of trespass at all, and the law, such as it is, has been administered by the Courts with a remarkably lenient hand. Speaking with a somewhat extended experience of the Courts, I may say that I have never been engaged in any case of the kind. The hon. Member referred to the "pet lamb" case. He could not have quoted a worse instance. I had the honour of being counsel for the "pet lamb," and it was not from my advocacy, but from the inherent strength of the case, that the animal came off victorious and crowned with costs. Now, Sir, although I think the grievance has been exaggerated, I do not at the same time doubt that there is a certain and I will admit a genuine grievance that people are not allowed to go on the hills when they would do no harm; and, personally, the only feeling I have against the Resolution is a feeling of regret that it should be necessary to invoke legislation to do what liberality and good sense on the one hand and gratitude and good feeling on the other might very well do for themselves. But, Sir, it is always necessary, not only to affirm that there is a disease, but to see that the remedy is not worse than the disease. I hasten to assure the hon. Gentleman opposite that the House has no doubt of his bona fides on this question. But it is just here that an unqualified and unexplained acceptance by the Government of his Resolution may be misapprehended. He was fortunate in starting this question, and starting it with a very attractive title which has now passed out of his hands. Hon. Members who know anything of Scotland will be aware that there is a certain class of questioner whose desire to put a candidate 122 at a difficulty is greater than his thirst for information. I am afraid the hon. Gentleman's Access to Mountains Resolution has become part of the stock-in-trade of the ordinary and unimaginative heckler. It is put forward by that class of person because they think that an unqualified answer in the negative would savour not at all of that platform generosity which gives away with lavish hand everything in the world save that which belongs to the speaker himself. If it was in the interests even of sport alone, I should not hesitate to appeal to the feelings of the hon. Gentleman who proposed this Resolution. But, Sir, we cannot touch sport without also touching a much larger question, and that is the economic value of the Highlands. That is a subject into which, obviously, I cannot go. But I should like to say, in reference to some remarks of a metaphysical character that fell from the hon. Gentleman in regard to land, that he thought it necessary to point out that he drew a distinction between property in land and other sorts of property, because he said land was limited in quantity. But I cannot help thinking that if the hon. Member comes to work the matter out he will find that not land alone, but every other form of property, is limited in quantity. It is not difficult to show that any form of property is only what has been got from the land plus a certain amount of labour put upon it. Therefore, Sir, I cannot see that the so-called paucity of land is any good reason for its special treatment. The hon. Member went on to say that land only deserved the protection it enjoyed for two reasons—the promotion of cultivation and the maintaining of privacy. As to the promotion of cultivation we are all agreed, and it is not in question; but as regards the maintaining of privacy, if it is the only other reason, it will practically go against the theory of private property in land altogether, except in so far as needed for a man's dwelling and no more.
§ MR. GRAHAM MURRAY
I should ask him to argue out his doctrine, not now, but in the silence of his own chamber, and see that if he cannot carry it to its logical conclusion, then there is no reason to treat these sporting rights differently from other rights of property. You cannot touch the sporting rights without seeing that the economic value of the Highlands is exceedingly large. I will give the House a few figures. In the county to which I personally belong, the County of Perth, I find that, out of 445 grouse moors, 225 shootings are let at a rental of no less than £32,000. The other 220 are either unlet, or I have been unable to ascertain the rents. On the other hand, take the deer forests. The rental of the deer forests is about £110,000 a year. You cannot take these figures alone. Everyone who has any experience of a shooting lodge knows very well the rule that you may pretty well double your rent if you want to find your yearly expense; and that one-half, which does not flow into the pockets of the landlord, flows into the pockets of the people of the district. When I reflect upon this and upon the other views of which the hon. Member for Sutherlandshire was the spokesman, I do not think it is too much to ask the House to say that this is really a grave question. I appeal to hon. Members—I will not, after last night, say responsible Members—but I appeal to Members who are likely to shape the course of future legislation to say that the necessity for safeguards must be entirely apparent. And I am inclined to be emboldened in this matter by noticing that the hon. Member for Aberdeen has this year preferred to approach the House by way of Resolution instead of by a Bill. I draw from that—though, of course, I may be wrong—the conclusion that the so-called safeguards which the hon. Member embodied in his Bill of last year would not be entirely effective for his purpose. The hon. Member for Aberdeen shakes his head, but I cannot pay the hon. Gentleman the ill compliment of supposing that he wishes to capture the House by substituting safeguards which he and 124 we understand in a different sense. Sir, I will conclude by saying that the attitude of the Government is to accept the Resolution of the hon. Member, but, at the same time, to reserve to themselves entire freedom of judgment as to the sufficiency of the privileges which may be put into any future legislation under the declaration that they do recognise the important interests involved and will not permit them to be unduly sacrificed. I have to thank the House for the way it has listened to me. My diffidence has not been so great as my fear that I would not adequately state the views of the Government in expressing their sympathy and also their hope that, in gratifying the legitimate wishes of a wide section of the public, they should not allow the concession thus made to be turned and distorted into an engine of confiscation and oppression.
§ (11.20.) SIR HORACE DAVEY (Stockton)
I congratulate the House upon the accession to its debating strength of my hon. and learned Friend, and I am exceedingly glad it has fallen to his lot to express the concurrence of the Government in the views enunciated by my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen. The hon. and learned Gentleman admits the existence of a grievance, but I understood him to say, and very fairly indeed to say, that the Government reserves to itself entire freedom as to the nature and extent of the safeguards, which any Bill intended to give effect to the Resolution should contain. The hon. and learned Gentleman asked why my hon. Friend did not proceed by Bill, and I can only answer that when the hon. and learned Gentleman is better acquainted with the procedure of this House he will find a reply to his question. Sir, whilst admitting that there was a grievance, the hon. and learned Gentleman said there were not many cases in which in the Scotch Courts interdict had been applied for. I should like to ask him whether it is not the case that of late years the law, not of distress but of interdict, has not been more rigidly enforced than was ever done before? 125 People grumble and submit rather than resist the interdict. The acceptance of the Resolution of my hon. Friend is exceedingly gratifying. There are no doubt difficulties with regard to sheep farms and also respecting deer forests, as the noble Lord the Member for Ipswich has pointed out. But there is nothing about deer forests in this Resolution, and there is no desire to restrict the continuation of sport.
§ (11.25.) MR. ROBY (Lancashire, S.E. Eccles)
I only rise, Sir, to claim that England shall share in this Resolution. In a populous part of Lancashire, not far from Rochdale, I have been stopped from going over a hill in May on the ground that I might interfere with the grouse, and on my remonstrating with the gamekeeper on his keeping the inhabitants from going over a wild part of their immediate neighbourhood, the only answer I got was that if I went at Christmas time I should not be able to disturb much. Now, this affords an example which I only hope will stop the idea that there is no need for legislation in the case of grouse-moors. It has been said by the Solicitor General for Scotland that he thought this should be done without legislation. Legislation is not intended for the many who use their property rightly and reasonably, but for the few who do not do so. I do hope that any legislation upon this subject will have regard not only to deer forests in Scotland, but to all moorlands and uncultivated hills in England and Wales, so that people may not be prevented from enjoying a harmless recreation, and one which can do no injury to the rights of the landowners.
§ (11.33.) MR. MUNRO FERGUSON (, &c.) Leith
In rising to say a few words on this subject, I should like in the first place to congratulate my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General for Scotland on his speech this evening, and I trust that his career in this House, so happily begun, will be one of great success. But I should like to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether he will announce that it is the intention of the Government to bring in a Bill dealing with the subject of this Motion? 126 The Motion states that there is need for legislation of this kind; the Motion has been accepted by the Government; and it would be to Members of the House a matter of great interest to know that the Government, as it has opportunity, will take action upon it. The right hon. Gentleman has himself some practical acquaintance with this question. I am not going into the question of deer forests, because that does not form the subject of our Debate to-night. It deals only with the inconvenience which has resulted from the establishment of deer forests, and which should be put an end to by legislation. I believe there is no desire in any part of the House to create difficulties in regard to deer forests where they are not injurious to the general interests of the community; and in many parts of the country deer forests will not be affected by such legislation as this Motion suggests. The right hon. Gentleman knows deer forests as well as myself, and he knows that in the greater part of the country no great difficulty will be created by the legislation proposed. But I would like to make one practical suggestion with regard to the restrictions in connection with legislation of this kind. There have been two proposals made—one that existing rights of way should be safeguarded, and that additional rights of way should be obtained where required; the other, that of my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen. Now, I think some very simple restrictions will be all that is necessary to obviate objection to legislation on the lines proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen. The ordinary tourist, I am confident, would do no harm in the Highlands. He would come probably in greater numbers, and I think, contrary to the opinion of the noble Lord opposite, he would leave a good deal of money behind him, whether he was a Scotch, an English, or an Irish tourist. The only person who I think would be likely to do any harm is the village poacher. There are always one or two professional poachers in the village, and I think there should always be a power to interdict a man convicted of misdemeanour, such as a 127 known poacher, at the discretion of the Sheriff. With that simple precaution I do not think there could be much objection to the proposal of my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, and I hope the First Lord of the Treasury will be able to give us some promise on the subject.
§ (11.38.) MR. MATHER (Lancashire, S.E., Gorton)
I also think something should be done by way of legislation that would enable tourists like myself and the Chancellor of the Exchequer to take advantage of the scenery of our native land. Both of us can speak from personal experience at Braemar last autumn, when visitors were excluded from ancient paths leading to the mountains, that great intolerance is shown by landowners. The tendency on the part of the old landowners to exclude the people has led to a similar tendency on the part of the nouveaux riches; and it requires to be checked by such legislation as has been foreshadowed this evening. We Englishmen feel this exclusion from the Highlands and the moorlands of our country. Looking forward to the fact that before many years are past we shall have a much more enlightened industrial class who will be able more and more to enjoy and understand the beauties of nature, it seems to me that Parliament should now make some effort to enable them to enjoy those privileges without in the least encroaching upon the rights of the landowners. I was much struck with one result of the exclusive habit which has sprung up in the district of Braemar, where I found the villagers were debarred from obtaining fresh milk for their children, and had to use Swiss milk, because the pasture fields in the valleys were wanted to grow fodder for the winter feed of the deer.
§ (11.40.) MR. R. G. WEBSTER (St. Pancras, E.)
After the speech of the Solicitor General for Scotland I shall only trouble the House with one or two observations. I am sure anybody who has been in Scotland must know that this is a somewhat sentimental grievance, 128 with the exception of some instances, which I am sure hon. Gentlemen on this side deplore as much as hon. Gentlemen opposite do. I know that Mr. Winans has very grossly abused his proprietary rights in the Highlands, and I hope the legislation which may ensue from this Debate will prevent that in the future. But with that exception, and probably a few other exceptions, we have at present great liberty to get on to the mountains in Scotland, and I believe there is nobody who will prevent you going upon the Scottish grouse moors or to the top of any hill if you see fit. No doubt during a part of the year when the deer should be protected you are not allowed to go on the deer forests. I do trust that the observations of the hon. Member for Eccles (Mr. Roby) may not indicate the way in which we shall legislate in this House. He said we must invariably legislate because a few people do a wrong thing, but we ought to be careful, in my humble opinion, in that respect, for if you legislate to prevent a few people doing a wrong thing you may by such means injure a vast number of people who are not doing a wrong thing at all. If legislation does ensue from this Resolution, the probability is that more tourists will go to Scotland, but I trust the legislation will not be of such a character as to spoil and destroy legitimate sport in Scotland, because no doubt it brings vast sums of money there, and to that extent it is a great advantage to that country, as well as enabling Englishmen and people all over the country to enjoy a great deal of healthy recreation.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Words added.
Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
Resolved, That in the opinion of this House, legislation is needed for the purpose of securing the right of the public to enjoy free access to uncultivated mountains and moorlands, especially in Scotland, subject to proper provisions for preventing any abuse of such right.
§ SUPPLY—Committee upon Monday next.