HC Deb 17 July 1893 vol 14 cc1683-5
MR. WEIR (Ross and Cromarty)

I beg to ask the Secretary for Scotland whether Her Majesty's Government propose to take steps to inquire into the statements reported in The Scottish Highlander of the 6th instant, that the Highland crofter settlers at Saltcoats, Assa, Canada, are in a very critical position owing to the failure of their corps and the fact that they are not allowed to sell any of the natural increase of the cattle supplied to them by the Imperial Colonisation Board; that the Board's agents threaten them with imprisonment for larceny if they sell a beast to provide food for their starving families; and whether, if these statements be confirmed, prompt action will be taken to prevent any recurrence of these and similar acts of injustice, and to recompense the settlers for the losses which they have sustained thereby?


The history of the Salt-coats Crofters Settlement has not been a satisfactory one, but most of the complaints contained in the article alluded to by the hon. Member refer to 1889, and not to the present time. Unfortunately, during the earlier period of the Settlement the circumstances were such that, of the 49 original families, only 18 remain. Agricultural implements and cattle were supplied to them on which a lien was taken by the Agent for the Colonisation Board. A succession of bad seasons and an attack of farcy among their cattle followed. On the representation of the local Sub-Committee, the crofters were permitted last December to sell some of their young stock of cattle, and they have from time to time been assisted with grants of grain and potato seed. Recent complaints are now being looked into by the Sub-Committee at Winnipeg, and Sir Charles Tupper, Agent General for Canada, has promised personally to inquire into them during his visit to Canada next month. Under these circumstances, I do not consider it necessary to appoint any Special Commission to go into the matter.

MR. DARLING (Deptford)

May I ask if the hon. Member was in Order in the manner in which he put this question? [The hon. Member in putting it had merely called out "Four," the number of the question on the Paper, instead of using the customary formula, "I beg to ask the Secretary for Scotland Question No. 4."]


There is nothing disorderly in putting the question thus.

DR. MACGREGOR (Invernessshire)

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, instead of using public money to migrate these people to Canada, it would not be better to spend it in helping them to stock holdings in their native land, and thus contribute to the creation of a contented peasantry whose loyalty in time of need would be unquestioned?


I think the money alluded to could not have been worse spent than on a migration conducted as the Saltcoats migration was conducted.