HC Deb 16 February 1893 vol 8 cc1570-1

I beg to ask the Secretary for Scotland whether his attention has been called to the case of Bertram George Tyson, who were recently tried at Selkirk and sentenced each to pay a fine, including expenses, of £5 19s., or suffer 21 days' imprisonment, for being. in possession of salmon caught illegally; whether he is aware that there was absolutely no evidence in support of the charge of illegal fishing, and that this was admitted by the sheriff in giving judgment, and that the express ground of judgment was that it was no part of the prosecutor's duty to prove the guilt of the accused, but that it rested upon the accused to prove their innocence; and whether it is the intention of the Government to bring in a Bill to repeal the sections of "The Tweed Fisheries Amendment Act, 1859," which deprive accused persons of their ordinary rights at Common Law, or whether the Government will afford facilities to private Members for the introduction and passing of such a measure?


My attention has been called to the case of Bertram and George Tyson. (The offence was that of being in possession of salmon caught during close time and for, fishing otter than by rod and line.) By the terms of the Act the proof that the fish were not taken contrary to its provisions lay upon the accused, and, judging from the report of the proceedings which I have seen, I think the statement made in the second paragraph of the question is well founded. The many anomalies of the Tweed Acts, of which the present case furnishes one illustration, will receive the earliest attention which the Government can give them, and there is no reason whatever in the view of the Government why the Tweed Laws should be at all different from the general law on the subject. I may mention further that Mr. Gladstone's Government of 1886 had a Bill in preparation for the repeal of those provisions of the Tweed Acts to some of which the question refers.