HC Deb 29 March 1892 vol 3 cc208-11
(6.30.) MR. LLOYD-GEORGE Carnarvon &c.)

I have a notice of Motion on the Paper relating to the distribution of grants in aid of fishery harbours in the United Kingdom. I do not wish to detain the House at length, but I should like to point out the result of these grants so far as Wales is concerned. I find in Class II. a considerable grant in aid of the development of fisheries in Scotland, and another grant not so large in aid of the fisheries in Ireland, but I see no grant in aid of fishery piers and harbours in England and Wales. Last year the Government spent £15,000 on the building of piers and harbours in the North of Scotland, and £11,000 on a pier at Thurso for the development of fisheries there.

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

I beg to say that was money lent for which the Thurso people pay interest; it was not a grant at all.


It was money lent by the Government, not by private individuals, and that is the point of my case. We should be glad of a grant for Wales on the same principle, not getting it absolutely without return; we are prepared to accept it on the same terms as it was made to Caithness. There are Fishery Boards exercising authority in Cardigan Bay and elsewhere on the Welsh coast; but the great complaint is that although these Boards are able to prevent illegal fishing and dredging within a certain distance of the shore they are unable to do anything for the permanent improvement of the fishing industry. There is not a single harbour in Cardigan Bay for the protection of fishing boats, and the same may be said of other parts of both the North and South coasts of Wales. I am not competent to speak of England, but last year I did hear an English Member call attention to a similar deficiency in regard to some parts of the English coast; but into that part of the question I am not competent to enter. Resolutions have been passed by fishing communities in favour of petitioning the Government to consider this question, and last year I called the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade to the subject. I do not recollect the words of his answer, but so far as my memory helps me, I think he did promise to look into the matter, and I would again earnestly press it upon his attention. We do not desire that the harbours should be made absolutely and entirely out of Imperial funds but that a certain amount should be granted in aid of local subscriptions, or that the Treasury should grant loans on such terms as may enable Local Authorities to undertake the work. Along the coast with which I am most acquainted there are no harbours, so that boats coming from the Isle of Man have, at the least sign of bad weather to return though they may be within a couple of miles of the Welsh coast. The Welsh fishing industry is thus severely handicapped, while, at the same time, large sums are devoted to the development of the fishing in Scotland and Ireland. May I press the right hon. Gentleman to give us some promise in this respect?

(6.35.) MR. T. E. ELLIS (Merionethshire)

I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give this subject his favourable consideration. I have on two previous occasions asked him whether he could see his way to help the Fishing Authorities on the West coast of Wales to secure experts" opinion as to where and how it would be best to construct harbours. As the right hon. Gentleman is well aware there are only small towns on the seaboard of the Western District each anxious to advocate its own claim to a harbour, but so long as we have not expert opinion to decide where a harbour would be best placed, and how it would best be constructed, the work of securing a harbour at all is at a standstill. Without harbour accommodation the fishing industry cannot develop, and I hope we may have some promise of substantial assistance beyond the statement of the fact that the Loans Commissioners can make advances for the purpose. The small towns I mention cannot act together. I know the interest the right hon. Gentleman takes in the development, of the fishing industry, and I hope he will promise that an expert's opinion shall be provided as to how and where it is best to provide the most needed protection for the fishing vessels on the Welsh coast.


I can hardly understand how this question arises on the Civil Service Estimates, in which no sum is included for any work of the kind.


Yes; in Class 2 Vote 28 Grant in Aid for Scotch Fisheries.


Well, I do not wish to dwell upon that. I gather that the request is that certain sums should be granted or loans made by the Commissioners towards the construction of fishing harbours,, but neither of the hon. Members has expressed any opinion as to the place where such grants should be expended. I may observe that on the West coast of Wales there are two good harbours at Milford Haven and at Holyhead, and for fishing vessels excellent shelter is afforded by Bardsey Island. I do not say that some additional harbour accommodation may not be necessary, but it is absolutely impossible for me in the absence of any definite request to make any definite promise. If there is any general opinion in Wales that something should be done towards assisting the construction of a harbour at any particular place, surely it is for those concerned to formulate that opinion and lay it before the proper authority, and if such should come before me it will certainly be carefully considered; but I am bound by the terms of the Treasury Minute of May 4th, 1887, which practically precludes grants, and confines my duty to the consideration of applications for approval to loans upon proper security. If hon. Members desire to obtain grants they should endeavour to induce the Secretary to the Treasury to adopt the view that Wales should be put upon the same footing with Scotland and Ireland, and that it would be beneficial to the fishing industry of Wales that grants should be made. But it is not in my power, all I can do is to consider any definite proposal for a loan coming before me. The hon. Member has referred to the Sea Fisheries Committees, and surely they might take expert opinions and if they think necessary formulate some scheme.