HC Deb 07 July 1893 vol 14 cc1048-9

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether the Thames is stated in the old Law Books to be a Royal, navigable, public, and common river; and whether the fishing from mouth to source, or at least from mouth to beyond Lechlade, did and does belong to the Crown, the people of London, or the public generally; whether the Thames is expressly stated in Statutes 6 & 7 William III., c. 16, and 24 George II., c. 8, to have been time out of mind a navigable river from London to Bercott in Oxfordshire, and from Oxford to beyond Lechlade; and whether the Law Books of the date of these Statutes declare that the fishing in all navigable rivers belongs to the Crown, or public; and whether this is still the law; whether the report in The Oxford Chronicle of 17th December, 1892, page 7, column 2, in which it is stated that Mr. J. E. Bankes, instructed by the Thames Conservancy, said— He desired to emphasise as strongly as he could this point, that the whole of the River Thames, as far as he knew, from Staines to Cricklade, was private property—that was to say that the bed and soil of the River Thames all the way from Staines to Cricklade, belonged, either to adjoining riparian owners, or else to persons who happened to have got a grant of fisheries from the Crown. That had been decided again and again, is a correct report; and whether Mr. Bankes was instructed to make such statement by the Thames Conservancy; if so, whether the Thames Conservancy was authorised by any officer of the Crown to make such statement; and, if so, by whom; and whether the Government will give short particulars of all grants made by the Crown of fishing in the Thames?


With reference to the first two paragraphs of the question, I am afraid I can only say that the Commissioners of Woods are not aware that the fishing from the mouth to the source of the River Thames ever belonged to the Crown in right of the Land Revenues. The third paragraph is one for the Thames Conservancy Commissioners, and I have no information except that Mr. Bankes had no authority from the Office of Woods to make any statement on the subject. The Commissioners of Woods could not give the information asked for in the last paragraph, because, if any such grants have in fact been made, it would probably involve long and expensive searches in ancient records to discover them.