HC Deb 10 January 1894 vol 20 cc1246-87

Lords Amendments considered.

Lords Amendment in page 1, lines 21 and 22, to leave out the words "in this Act referred to as appointed members," agreed to.

Lords Amendment in page 1, line 29, to leave out the word "eight," and insert the words "certain other," the next Amendment, disagreed to.

Lords Amendments, as far as and including the Amendment in page 2, line 10, to leave out from the word "to," to the word "comprising," in line 12, agreed to.

Lords Amendment in page 2, line 12, to insert the words— create in Scotland such number of fishery districts as may be therein provided, the next Amendment, disagreed to.

Amendment proposed to the Bill, instead of the words so disagreed to, to insert in the Bill the words— apportion and divide the seaboard counties of Scotland (as specified in the Schedule appended to this Act, with the burghs included therein) into eight fishery districts."—(Sir G. Trerelyan.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."

CAPTAIN SINCLAIR (Dumbartonshire)

moved, as an Amendment, that the words to be inserted should be— apportion and divide the counties of Scotland, with the burghs included therein, into fishery districts. He remarked that the establishment of District Committees was the real basis of the Bill. There was a notable difference between the system proposed in this Bill and the English system, inasmuch as the English Fisheries Committees were formed on the initiative of their own counties. The system adopted by the Secretary for Scotland did not go upon that principle at all. Scotland was to be divided by the Central Authority into eight Fishery District Committees. He confessed that he liked the English system better in reference to the responsibility placed on the localities to take the initiative themselves. That was an important consideration in reference to the People who should be rated for the purposes of the Bill. The rating was at first to be for limited purposes, but it was said that the purposes for which the District Committees were to be constituted would be extended. One great necessity of the fishing industry in Scotland was the development of the sea police. The expense which the Fishery District Committees would have to incur in organising and developing the sea police would very much increase the cost that would be laid upon them. The Government proposed to group the seaboard counties into districts. All the counties of Scotland except seven would be included in these districts, the seven being Perth, Stirling, Clackmannan and Kinross, Lanark, Peebles, Selkirk, and Roxburgh. How would this scheme work out? In the County of Aberdeen Braemar would be rated for the purpose of maintaining the fishing industry, and in Inverness-shire Kingussie would be rated. Glasgow was not to be rated. Dunfermline was to be rated, but Stirling was not. Dundee was to be rated, but Perth was not. Stirling, Perth, and Glasgow were each at the head of an estuary, and yet they would have to contribute nothing towards the maintenance of the fisheries. The people who were to be rated objected most strenuously to this arrangement. There was full machinery in the Bill to enable them to make their objections heard by the Minister in charge of the Department. Would it not, however, be better to try and meet those objections beforehand? He thought there was reasonable ground for asking the Government to consider this matter now. The only real justification for making a rate for the special industry was that it was for the general good. If that were the case he contended that there ought to be a general assessment. It seemed to him that in making a special rate to prosecute and foster a particular industry the Government were setting a very dangerous precedent. Parts of some of the counties that were to be exempted from the rating provisions were no further from the sea than many parts of other counties which were included in those provisions. There would be a very considerable advantage in extending the area of rating. Scotland was not a rich country, and it surely would be of very great benefit to make this burden as light as possible by spreading it over a large area. Except the Border Burghs there were in Scotland almost no large towns which were not on the coast, because he thought that Glasgow and Stirling and Inverness were practically on the coast. He thought it would be a great mistake in carrying out a scheme of this kind to fail to secure the co-operation of everyone whose co-operation could be obtained. The great bulk of the fish caught went to Glasgow, Edinburgh, and other large centres of population for consumption or distribution. Surely it was worth while trying to secure the services on the Fishery Committees of the men who guided and controlled the fish trade—the large fish-merchants and distributors. In his own county there were exactly nine voters who were fishermen, and only one fisherman who had a sea-going fishing smack. Everybody in Scotland, however, was interested in the fishing industry, and he believed that everybody would be willing to pay for the fostering of that industry. Let the Scottish people, at any rate, have a scheme which their reason could assent to.

* MR. ANSTRUTHER&c.) (St. Andrews,

desired to second the Amendment. He would like to say that the Amendment was only placed on the Paper last night, and it raised at very short notice perhaps the most important question which would arise upon the consideration of this Bill. He noticed that last night his right hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Marjoribanks) made an appeal to the House to conclude the consideration of the Lords Amendments on this Bill by 4 o'clock in the afternoon, in order that certain other business might be taken.


The hon. Gentleman will be good enough to confine himself to the Amendment.


said, he merely wished to point out that the magnitude of the question raised by the Amendment was so great that longer discussion might be necessary than had been anticipated. His hon. and gallant Friend had given statistics in support of his case, which appeared to be a very strong one, but had not mentioned the amount which the seven excepted counties would probably contribute towards the maintenance of the fishing industry if they were rendered liable to assessment. A very fair esti- mate of the valuation might be obtained by taking the population. The whole population of Scotland, according to the recent Census, amounted to 4,025,000, whilst the population of Lanarkshire, including Glasgow, amounted to 1,046,000. The combined population of the eight counties, which his hon. and gallant Friend had spoken of as seven, amounted to 1,430,000, so that it was no exaggeration to say that under the scheme proposed by the Government very nearly a third of Scotland was to be exempted from this assessment. He thought the House would see that such an arrangement was, to say the least of it, unfair, and he strongly reinforced the appeal of his hon. and gallant Friend that the Government should enlist in support of the scheme all those who might be thought to be favourable to the reform proposed.

Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment, To leave out from the word "divide," to the end of the Amendment, in order to add the words "the counties of Scotland, with the burghs included therein, into fishery districts."—(Captain Sinclair.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed Amendment."

MR. HOZIER (Lanarkshire, S.)

said, that as one of the Representatives of a county that contained over 1,000,000 inhabitants, not one of whom was interested directly in the fishing industry, he wished to record his most emphatic protest against this proposal. The Amendment, which was of the most vital character, had only been placed on the Taper on the previous evening, and he should like to ask his hon. and gallant Friend (Captain Sinclair) why he had allowed the Bill to go through the House and up to the other House without making any amendment whatever in it? The measure had been introduced by the Government as a non-contentious Bill, and had only been allowed to pass through the House as a non-contentious Bill. He had himself especially asked his right hon. Friend (Sir G. Trevelyan) whether Lanarkshire was to be included for rating purposes, and had received a distinct assurance that it was not to be. On that distinct assurance he had allowed the Bill to go through as a non- contentious measure. In no other way could it have been passed, and, that being so, he thought it would be a great breach of faith if this Amendment were adopted. The vast majority of the Members representing non-seaboard counties were not now present, and it would be a great breach of faith towards them if the Amendment were adopted.


The hon. Member who has just spoken has remarked, it seems to me, with perfect truth upon the position in which the House stands tit this moment. Here is a Bill with which we are only enabled to deal very partially, for we can only deal with that portion of it which has been amended by the Lords. It passed the House of Commons in a very complete shape, and containing an elaborate, complicated, and complete system. It is absolutely impossible at this late moment to remodel the Bill in accordance with the Amendment moved by my hon. and gallant Friend. It would have been impossible, I believe, to remodel the Bill under any circumstances; but to remodel it, trammelled as we should be by the necessity of following the Lords Amendments and amending only what they have amended, is absolutely impossible. We could not undertake to do that: and I am sorry to say that, as far its this Session is concerned, to attempt to do so would mean nothing less than the death of the Bill. The situation is aggravated by the fact that my hon. and gallant Friend, who always acts in the most straightforward and considerate manner, has on this occasion not quite seen the effect of starting an Amendment of this sort at the last moment. My hon. and gallant Friend's Amendment has two objects. One cuts altogether at the root of the Bill by carrying out an Amendment of the Lords which in the eyes of the Government was a fatal Amendment. By a unanimous vote of this House it was resolved that a large representative element should be introduced into the Scotch Fishery Board, and that a sufficient number of Fishery District Committees should be instituted to take charge of local fishery interests on the coasts of Scotland. In the opinion of the Government, and, as we believe, in the opinion of the House of Commons, eight is a suitable number of districts to return a member each to the Fishery Board, and to give such members a sufficient position on the Board. Another view was taken in another place. I may refer to the object of this Amendment of the Lords just so far as to say that the speeches delivered in support of it proved that, in the opinion of the Upper House, the representative element on the Board would be too large under the Bill. I certainly must insist upon disagreeing with the Lords Amendment.


I wish to say that I heartily agree with my right hon. Friend. I put in fishery districts without specifying any number so as to raise the question of a general assessment.


Then I will come to the question of a general assessment. It is upon that point that I think it so very unfortunate that this Amendment has been put down at the eleventh hour. The Amendment concerns a considerable number of counties in Scotland, such as Roxburgh, Selkirk, Perth, and Lanarkshire, which are not seaboard counties, and the Members for those counties had not the slightest notion that any attempt was to be made to-day to bring them within the purview of this Bill. Not only on this account do I object to the Amendment, but I object to it on principle. I do not believe there is any alternative between following the English system so far as to put the administration in the hands of the representatives of the locality which pays the rate, so that they themselves may apply the money according to the best of their discretion, and adopting a system of a grant from the Imperial Exchequer. It is no use raising the question of an Imperial grant at this moment, and I shall not argue for or against it. My hon. and gallant Friend raises the alternative of a general, rate over Scotland. I cannot consent, on behalf of the Government, to rating the whole of Scotland for purposes which will be governed and settled by the Fishery Committees in the different localities. Whatever may be the case with regard to the rate, there is not the slightest use in bringing the strictly inland counties into the regulation of the fisheries. On principle we could not accept the Amendment, and, as I said earlier, it is absolutely impossible to mould this Bill, under present circumstances, into a shape which would carry out practically what my hon. and gallant Friend asks for. I feel very much for those counties which consider that they have too slight an interest in the fisheries to be rated; but I trust my hon. and gallant Friend will postpone the question of rating until we come to a later clause, when, as I believe, I shall be able to give the representatives of those counties the fullest satisfaction by showing that the Secretary for Scotland will do in Scotland what the Board of Trade does in England—that is to say, apportion the amount of the rates to the fishing interest. In the English county of Cheshire, with its enormous wealth, only £30 is paid towards the expenses of the conjoint fishery district of Lancashire, Cumberland, and Cheshire, whilst £5,000 or £6,000 are raised from those districts which are more immediately concerned. I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that the counties which are not deeply interested in fishing will not be treated with any financial injustice under this Bill. I believe we have inserted in our Amendment provisions which will guarantee all such districts from injustice of that kind, and I am sorry to say it is absolutely impossible for us to accept the Amendment.


said, that in principle he entirely agreed with his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Dumbartonshire. But, recognising the conditions under which they were discussing the Bill, as a practical politician he did not think it was desirable to continue this discussion. He was advised that they could not carry this Amendment at this period of the Session; he was doubtful whether they could carry it at any time. If they were to go on discussing these abstract principles of justice he was afraid they would get no Bill at all. He would rather have this Bill, even as it was, than no Bill, because it could be tried as an experiment; and he hoped that by-and-bye they would have an, opportunity of extending it in the direction proposed by his hon. and gallant Friend, or in some other direction. This Bill, for instance, did not touch the important question of salmon fishings. He hoped the day would come when they would be able to pass a great deal of useful legislation connected with the fisheries which was impossible or impracticable at the present time.


We have been told in the course of the Debate with perfect accuracy that this Bill passed the House of Commons as a non-contentious measure. That is precisely the condition which has brought about the present state of affairs. The whole of the earlier part of the Session having been taken up with other matters, this Bill only came on at the fag-end before the Autumn Adjournment; and the people of Scotland, the County Councils, and other bodies interested in the questions connected with it were absolutely unaware of its existence. They have not been consulted as to the provisions of the measure, and that is quite sufficient to account for no opposition having been offered to the Bill before if passed the Second Reading in the House. I should be very remiss in the discharge of my duty if I did not give expression to the strong remonstrances which have been made to me against some of the proposals in this measure, and, among others, the allocation of assessment as fixed by the clause we are now considering. I am sure that everyone who has listened to the temperate speech of the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire must have been convinced that justice is on his side. It is proposed by the Bill to take certain counties in Scotland which happen to impinge on the sea or an estuary of the sea, and rate every class in those counties for the maintenance of a particular industry, in which the population of Dumbartonshire, for instance, is directly interested to the extent, of nine voters designated as fishermen. I think the absurdity of such a proposal must be apparent to everyone who is acquainted with the geography of Scotland. Take the uplands of Ayrshire. They an' coterminous with the uplands of Lanarkshire. The two counties are probably divided by a rivulet or a stone dike, and for miles on either side tic character of the country is precisely the same, and the occupation of the inhabitants is identical. Yet the people on the Ayrshire side of (he marsh are to be rated to support the establishment of mussel-beds on the Clyde, while those on the Lanark-shin; side of the marsh are to get off scot-free. The injustice of such a proposal must be manifest to everyone. Although the Secretary for Scotland himself is one of the Representatives of Glasgow, I think the right hon. Gentleman will find that a large body of his own constituents would be ashamed to take advantage of such a subterfuge to escape rating, because, forsooth! they are not directly connected with the fishery industry. Has the right hon. Gentleman consulted his constituents? I have consulted mine, and I am only discharging my plain duty in offering all the support I can to the Member for Dumbartonshire in the Amendment he has moved.

MR. R. T. REID (Dumfries)

said, he wished to say a few words with regard to the reasons advanced by the Secretary for Scotland for not assenting to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire. The first reason was the Parliamentary position. His right hon. Friend treated this Bill as non-contentious. He understood that the Bill was so treated till it passed through the House of Commons. The other House had not treated the Bill as non-contentions, and he therefore did not think that they should be objected to because they raised these questions. He did not suggest that if was the fault of the Government, but the stale of affairs with regard to the Bill was an illustration of the difficulty and embarrassment in which Scottish Members found themselves in dealing with Scottish measures, by reason of their having only scraps and shreds of time, and very often inconvenient scraps and shreds of time, in which to do so. That was not the proper way in which a question of such grave importance to Scotland ought lo lie treated. The second reason of the Secretary for Scotland was that he thought in equity it was not right that (he inland counties of Scotland, numbering eight, should contribute to the relief of the 24 counties which were to be assessed by virtue of the Bill. He could not think that was fair. The upland districts of Dumfries had no more special interest in the Bill, apart from the general interest of the community, than had the uplands of Ayrshire or the County of Perth. Glasgow and the great centres of the population were quite as much interested in the fishing industry as the small, sparsely-populated, and poor districts running along the sea coasts of Scotland. But by the Bill they were excluding some of the wealthiest parts of Scotland. Ho was informed that, excluding Edinburgh, upwards of £6,000,000 per annum evaded rating altogether under the Bill. He thought that was hardly equitable. If 24 counties out of 32 were to be included in the Bill, he thought they ought in reason and fairness to include the other eight.

Mr. MARJORIBANKS (Berwickshire)

said, the hon. Baronet the Member for Wigton stated that the Town and County Councils of Scotland had no opportunity of judging of the provisions of the Bill, as it was sprung upon them in a sudden manner at the end of a Session which had been devoted to other subjects.


I did not say that. I said that owing to the peculiar circumstances in which the Bill came on at the fag-end of the Session, before the adjournment, it had received practically no consideration in Scotland.


said, the Bill was introduced in the month of April. It was printed, and it was open to the whole of Scotland to consider the measure. But that was not the whole case. The Bill was not quite identical with the Bill he himself had introduced, but it was very similar; and that Bill had been before the House for three years, and was discussed by the various Local Authorities in Scotland. Furthermore, a very similar Bill was introduced by the late Government, and had received a considerable amount of consideration. He maintained, therefore, that the people of Scotland, and the people more especially interested in the Bill, were completely aware of the whole subject-matter of the Bill, and had a perfect opportunity of making up their minds in regard to it. With regard to the Amendment of his hon. Friend, he desired to say that they were placed in this somewhat anomalous position; that they were trying to meet objections which had been forced upon them in another place; and in order to meet these objections, a method of apportioning the rate had been suggested in an Amendment which at a later stage would come before the House. He thought that apportionment afforded no small answer to the criticisms which had proceeded from the other side of the House. The proposal in that Amendment was that the Secretary for Scotland was to have the power of apportioning the amount of rate to be paid by each portion of district according to the interest which that portion of a district had in the subject of fisheries. Therefore, when hon. Members talked about certain districts having only a small interest in fisheries, and that it was very hard that they should be rated, that was not what would take place under the Bill, for those districts would have only to bear a small portion of the rate. The provision was further limited by the proviso that in the most interested place the amount of the rate should not exceed 1d. in the £1. When it was said that it was a hard thing to rate populous places not on the seaboard, he would point to what had been done by the great County of Lancashire. It was said that the principal object of the Bill was the development of mussel-beds. He differed from that view. The development of mussel-beds, so far from being the most important thing in the Bill, was only a subsidiary matter, and one, moreover, which, be believed, instead of costing anything, would bring in money to the authorities. A much more important thing in the Bill was that it provided for the proper policing of the waters within the various districts. It was in this respect that the action of Lancashire had been so successful. That county had purchased a boat for £5,000, and had a perfect system of police off its coast; and the whole cost to Lancashire was something under 1–16th of 1d. in the £1. He did not think it was wise for Scottish Members to imperil the Bill for the sake of discussing subsidiary and abstract questions. Ho was sure his hon. and gallant Friend who moved the Amendment would find that Dumbartonshire would have a very small portion of the rate to pay. He thought they had a right to call upon their countrymen in Scotland to do something to further one of the great industries carried on in that country, which had had very little done for it, as well as they called upon fishermen to contribute to roads and allotments which they never used. In the interest of the whole country, and in the interest of what they heard so often from the other side, of law and order, they were fairly entitled to ask Scotland as a whole to contribute to the proper policing of the sea fisheries.

MR. A. J. BALFOUR (Manchester, E.)

The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the action of Lancashire, though Lancashire is not directly interested in fishing. But I would point out that Lancashire has settled for itself the area which should be taxed for the purpose. There is no pretence of imposing from the outside the acceptance of the system whether they like it or not. It is a voluntary arrangement, which has worked extremely well, and one which you may extend to Scotland, not only without objection from me, but with my hearty concurrence. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that the chief cost under the Bill would not be in connection with mussel fisheries, but in policing the waters adjacent to the coast. Looking through the Bill I fail to see any specific reference to the subject of policing, and I greatly doubt whether it would be possible under the Bill as it stands to police the waters. I should like to have the opinion of the Lord Advocate on that point. Witt) regard to the Amendment before the House, I find it impossible to support the Government in opposing that Amendment. If I were to vote in favour of the Government and against the Amendment, it might be inferred that I thought the principle laid down by the Government that seaboard counties ought to lie taxed over their own areas for this purpose was one which ought to he accepted. I not only do not accept if, but the more I study if the more absurd I think it is. The argument of my hon. Friend near me that we have in all these seaboard counties not only occasional districts, but enormous tracts, which have no more to do with fishing than the central part of Perthshire, seems to me to be absolutely irresistible, and I cannot imagine what pretence of an answer can be made to it. At the same time, while I cannot support the Government in their plan of confining the expenses under the Bill to the seaboard counties, I am unwilling to have it supposed that I think that inland counties, as such, ought to bear a part of the cost. I do not think they ought. My view is that, so far as rating is concerned, we ought really to rate only those districts which are concerned in fishing. If we desire to do more than that—and I think it will be desirable—it ought to be done out of Imperial resources. I quite agree with those gentlemen who say that the general public are interested in fishing. Very well; let the general public pay. It is not merely the public of Scotland who are interested in fishing; it is the general public of the whole country. These being my general views, I shall not take part in a. Division in support of the Amendment, and I am at the same time not in a position to support the proposal of the Government.

* THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. B. BALFOUR,&c.) Clackmannan,

In reply to the question put to me by the right hon. Gentleman, I have to say that I do not understand that it is contemplated by this clause that there should be rating for the purpose of maintaining vessels equivalent to gunboats for the purpose of performing the duties of marine police. The duty of policing in that larger sense is usually undertaken by the Government. There may be a charge for the supervision of mussel-beds, and policing in that minor sense may be within the contemplation of the clause.

DR. R. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)

said, his constituents in West Aberdeenshire objected very strongly to the method of rating proposed by the Government. They objected to the piecemeal method, and they objected to exemptions. At least, they held that if there were to be exemptions they ought to be allowed to share in those exemptions. One-half of his county abutted on the sea, and was keenly interested in fishing matters; but the other half, which he represented, did not contain a single human being who was directly interested in fishery matters, and contained a purely agricultural population, who would lie compelled in the depressed condition of agriculture to pay money for another industry which was not so depressed. What they would like to see was either the adoption of a plan by which all the counties of Scotland would share the rate, or the adoption of the principle originally propounded in this House by his hon. Friend the Member for North Aberdeen, that the ex- penses under this Bill should be defrayed from the Imperial Exchequer which might be given either by a direct grant or an increased Vote to the Fishery Board. He was bound to say that if it was impossible for his constituents to be exempted from this tax, then he would throw his weight on his vote in favour of the Amendment. Ho thought his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Dumbartonshire had shown with unanswerable force that the fishing industry was for the benefit of the general community as much as for the poor people who caught the fish. Benefit was derived from the industry by centres like Glasgow, which, under this Bill, were entirely exempted. The Secretary for Scotland had spoken of the injustice of bringing forward this Amendment at a time when various Members were absent; but he did not think that, even if it were accepted, the counties affected would be placed in a very disadvantageous position. The excuse for this tax was the old excuse, that it was a, very little one. All ho could say on that was that if it were spread over the whole of Scotland it would be so small as to be quite infinitesimal, and would hardly touch the breeches pocket at all.

MR. HALDANE (Haddington)

said, he wished to make an appeal to Scotch Members to take such a course as would facilitate the passing of the Bill. It was a Bill which was urgently necessary in the fishing interests. Ho agreed that it would have been much better if the whole matter had been the subject of Imperial taxation; but they had to choose between a Bill of this kind and no Bill at all, and he was afraid that, if this opportunity were lost, they would not recover it quickly. Was the proposition in this Bill an unjustifiable one? The Bill proceeded on the footing of levying a rate, not in each county separately, but for a group of counties. The fishermen themselves were rated for various county purposes which did not concern them—for example, inland roads. The proposition of the Government was not an indefensible one, but, on the contrary, was one which proceeded on the ordinary footing which had been adopted in rating. His interest was entirely the same as that of his hon. Friend the Member for Dumbarton. His constituents in the town of Haddington did not concur about these provisions; but he was satisfied that, rather than let the Bill be lost, and rather than deprive the fishermen of the assessment which they required, his constituents would consent, to bear a very small burden. He hoped, therefore, for the reasons he had given, that his hon. Friends would support the Government.

DR. MACGREGOR (Inverness-shire)

said, ho wished, as representing the largest seaboard constituency in Scotland, to make a few remarks. Scotland and Scotchmen had so little attention paid to them in this House that he supposed they were expected now to be thankful for small mercies. So far as he was concerned, the Bill, even if passed in its entirety, would fall far short of the requirements of the case, and would not be satisfactory to his constituents. The Amendments of the Lords, if agreed to, would ruin the Bill, which might then be thrown overboard with the rest of the innocents. Even if the Amendments were disagreed to, the Bill would not satisfy him. The only good feature about it was the direct representation. The Bill did not touch on the great salmon fishery question: but he was reconciled to this by the promise of the Government that next Session a Bill dealing with salmon fisheries would be introduced. As to rating, why should Kingussie, an inland place, be rated and Glasgow exempt? He would suggest that instead of rating all the counties in Scotland, the expenses should come out of the Treasury. Perhaps that was impossible at present; but he concurred entirely in the views expressed by the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire, and if he went to a Division he would support him. The Secretary for Scotland had thrown out a hint that by-and-bye Dumbartonshire and such counties would not be much rated—in fact, that they would be rated according to their fishing interest. He (Dr. Macgregor) protested against that entirely. The result would be that poor counties like Inverness would have their rates increased, while counties like Renfrew and Dumbarton would be exempt. That would be fatal to the arguments the Government produced in favour of their proposal. As the matter stood, lie must protest against the view that seemed to lie taken by the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. PARKER SMITH (Lanark, Partick)

said, he would like to ask the Solicitor General for Scotland a, question. The hon. Member for Dumfries Burghs (Mr. R. T. Reid) argued that the City of Edinburgh was not included in the Schedule of the Bill, and the Lord Advocate, interrupting, said it was included. That point should be definitely settled one way or the other. It seemed to him that, as the Bill stood, the County of the City of Edinburgh was distinctly left out. He would lie glad to accept a statement from the Solicitor General on the subject, lie had to assure his hon. and gallant Friend (Captain Sinclair) of his complete sympathy, but to assure the Government of his support. The Division of Lanarkshire which he represented had hitherto been left out unrated, lie did not commit himself against the principle of a general rate or an Imperial payment: but he did say it was absolutely impossible for the County of Lanark, at the very last moment, to be included in the rateable area, as proposed by his hon. and gallant Friend.


Mr. Deputy Speaker, I do not think there can be any doubt that the City of Edinburgh will be rated under this Bill, because, although it is a county of a city, yet it is, for purposes other than those defined by Act, part of the County of Midlothian, and as a burgh of the County of Midlothian it will certainly have to bear its share of the rate applicable to the whole of Midlothian. I did not intend taking part in this discussion; but I represent an important constituency, and, speaking as a Representative of a fishing constituency rather than as a Member of the Government, I would like to say a word. I confess I view with alarm the Amendment of my hon. and gallant Friend, for it goes directly to the root of the Bill, and I am afraid his Amendment, if carried, would be fatal to the Bill. I would ask all Representatives of Scotch constituencies to be careful before they take any steps which might endanger the passing of the Bill. The Amendment is directed exclusively to the matter of rating. Have my hon. Friends the slightest expectation that it is possible to change the Bill so as to provide the necessary funds by means of an Imperial grant instead of by ii local rate? It is perfectly certain that cannot be done. If my hon. Friends vote for an Imperial grant, that, I apprehend, is fatal to the Bill. What is to be said of the other alternative of rating the whole of the counties in Scotland? Such a proposal as that one county should be rated for the purpose of handing the money over to another county for administrative purposes in that other county has never been heard of. The Fishery Committees are appointed for particular districts, and it is the amount certified by them which is to be assessed. How can it be suggested that sums certified by the Fishery Committee of Aberdeenshire are to be intimated, say, to Lanarkshire, in order that an assessment may be levied there for part of the money necessary for the administration of fishery matters in the County of Aberdeenshire? It is absolutely necessary that the ordinary principles should be adhered to. The county is divided into territorial areas, and those areas are treated as units, and it falls upon them to provide the money required within that territorial unit. It is perfectly out of the question to suggest that they could, by a process of rating, provide a, fund for one rating area, by assessment on another and different rating area. The alternatives are between rating each county for the sums required or an Imperial grant. As an Imperial grant is entirely out of the question, I hope my hon. Friends representing fishing constituencies will think seriously before proposing an Amendment which might endanger the whole Bill. With regard to the case of Kingussie being rated and Glasgow exempted, the explanation is simple. Kingussie is within the area of a seaboard county, whereas Glasgow is in Lanarkshire, which is not a seaboard county. It is not the case that any plan is intended for transferring, say, from Dumbartonshire to Inverness-shire any part of the burden of rating. What might lie done is to give power as to the adjustment of rates within certain territorial areas so as to make the rate fall upon particular areas having a particular interest. I have spoken, Sir, as a representative of fishing interests in this matter, and I do hope that hon. Members will seriously consider the position before they endanger the Bill.

MR. GOSCHEN (St. George's, Hanover Square)

I think the House will feel that the argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman strikes in a great measure at the Government plan with regard to seaboard counties. He assumes the impossibility of an Imperial grant.


In this Bill.


In this Bill. I do not know what alterations may be necessary for that purpose, but I would remind the House that in the Bill of the late Government there was an Imperial grant proposed.


How much?




A year?


Yes. But, at all events, the late Government recognised the principle that Scotland at large could not be called upon, more than England, to pay for this particular object. That principle was involved in the Bill of the late Government. So far as we had to go beyond a particular area, so far we think there ought to be intervention on the part of the Imperial Government. As a late Chancellor of the Exchequer, I certainly should always wish to defend the Public Purse; but looking to the position of Scotland in this matter, I do recognise that there is a strong claim on the part of the fishing interest for an Imperial grant, as well as local rating. I do not know whether any solution of the present difficulty can be found by this means; but we on this side of the House would gladly co-operate with the Government in that direction, as we desire the Bill to pass.

MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)

said, the right hon. Gentleman had announced a somewhat important, not to say dangerous, principle. [Mr. W. E. Gladstone: Hear, hear!] The right hon. Gentleman proposed that Imperial funds should be given to a body not under the control of the Central Government. This was not a question of a grant to the Fishery Board, but to the local District Com- mittee. With respect to the expenditure of a Local Authority, there could be nothing more mischievous than to relieve it of the burden of finding the necessary expenditure, and teach it to rely upon the Imperial Government; but, therefore, he concurred in opposing any subsidy from the Government to the District Committees. At one time he had the idea that what was proposed could be done through the Fishery Board. In that case, money could have come from the Imperial Exchequer; but as the money was to be administered by District Committees, it ought to come out of the local rates. He hoped his hon. Friend would not go to a Division, although the town which he represented would benefit by the adoption of the Amendment. To carry the Amendment now was simply to vote against the Bill altogether.


I must say, Sir, that I am a little surprised that, of all persons in the world, the right hon. Gentleman opposite should be the one to come forward at the last moment and propose a grant from the Imperial Exchequer. I agree with my hon. Friend that where the Government has control, as in the case of the Fishery Board, it is a proper matter to consider whether Imperial assistance ought to be given. But here the right hon. Gentleman suggests, as I understand, that an unknown sum should be given without any control whatever to the District Committees. What strikes me as very remarkable is that when this Bill was before the House—

An hon. MEMBER

It never was before it.


Yes, it was. When it was before the House, when the proposal to give an unlimited grant from Imperial sources could have been discussed—


No, no!


The point was not raised. How is it possible to engraft at this moment a proposal of this kind, and give an Imperial grant which has never been under consideration? It seems to me that this is a most reckless way of dealing with public money. I have never had an opportunity of con- sidering the question, and how can I deal with it subject to all the inconvenience to which the hon. Member for Aberdeen has so well pointed out? Surely it is not reasonable to be called upon now to state what we are prepared to do in the matter of an Imperial grant?


It was made to assist the Government.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 86; Noes 53.—(Division List, No. 122.)


moved as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment— At the end, to insert the words "as specified in the said Schedule. This, he said, would go along with the Schedule ho had put down at the end of the Bill to be substituted for the Schedule proposed by his light hon. Friend. The Schedule, as he had put it down, was exactly the Schedule that was put down by the Government in the Standing Committee of the House of Lords, with the exception of the fact that lie had cut out the Counties of Renfrew and Dumbarton. The effect of the Amendment would be to make the Act define the fishery districts in which the sea-board counties were divided. There were two possible policies in regard to this matter: one which was embodied in the Amendment of the House of Lords, to leave the division into fishery districts open for subsequent determination; and the other, which the Government supported, to define at once the number of districts. It seemed to him more expedient to leave the matter to subsequent determination: but if the Government insisted on the scheme which was in the Bill, he thought the House ought to be in possession not merely of the number of districts, but also of the limits of the district, before the Bill left their power altogether. The only argument he had heard in favour of the Government plan was that stated by the right hon. Gentleman—namely, the importance of seeing that on the General Fishery Board there were a sufficient number of elected representatives. But they had already specified that in the Bill. They had already disagreed with the Lords in striking out the word "eight" on a previous occasion, and had already determined there should be eight representatives on the Fishery Board. That having been already decided, no argument could be brought on the question whether the number could be defined or not. If they did define the number, it seemed to him the Government must know in their own mind what these districts were to be, and the House was entitled to know them. He did not understand exactly what the effect of defining the number was, when taken in view of the last suit-section; because under that sub-section the Secretary for Scotland might from time to time, by subsequent Order, vary any Order made under this section, and unite one or more districts, or divide a united district into separate districts, or dissolve any district. Therefore, they could not be met with the argument that it was a mistake to define the districts now, because under that final subsection of the clause the Secretary for Scotland would have exactly the same power as he would have if they had left the House of Lords Amendment as it stood, to alter in future the arrangement of the districts. Thai being so, if the Government adhered to the number eight, they ought also to specify the fishery districts into which Scotland was divided. He begged to move the Amendment.

Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment, At the end, to insert the words, "as specified in the said Schedule."—(Mr. Parker Smith.)

Question proposed, "That those words be added to the proposed Amendment."


Sir, there are two ways of giving Parliament something to say in the formation of these districts. One is that which appears in the Bill, placing in a Schedule eight districts with the counties contained in them. That is not approved of in the other House, which prefers that we should follow the practice of the English Bill and place an Order on the Table of both Houses, and thereby allow them to exercise control. Whichever way, ideally, be best, the Government have determined to meet the views of the House of Lords in this matter. I would have preferred to keep a more elastic power in my own hands, and not bind down future Secretaries to the cut-and-dried districts in the Act of Parliament; but the House of Commons will henceforward have a much more free power of criticising the arrangements with regard to these districts, as to limits and amount of rating, and I think that is a very reasonable way of meeting the situation, to agree in this case with the other House.

Amendment to Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Words inserted in the Bill.

Lords Amendment in Hue 13, to leave out from the word "and," to the word "be," in line 14, the next Amendment, disagreed to.

Lords Amendment in line 16, to leave out "to," and insert "of," agreed to.

Lords Amendment in lines 16 and 17, to leave out "and requirements of the population," agreed to.

Lords Amendment in line 21, to leave out "The," and insert "A," agreed to.

Lords Amendment in line 30, after "formed," to insert— Every Order made by the Secretary for Scotland under this section shall be laid for 30 days before both Houses of Parliament while in Session, and if either House within that period resolves that the whole or any part of the Order so made ought not to be in force, the same shall not have any force, without prejudice nevertheless to the making of any other Order in its place. Subject to any such Resolution, every Order so made shall come into force at the expiration of the 30 days aforesaid, agreed to.

Lords Amendment to leave out Clause 6, agreed to.

On Lords Amendment to insert Clause A:—

(Establishment of Fishery District Committees.) A.—(1) In each fishery district there shall be a Fishery District Committee, who shall be a committee composed of such number of persons (in this Act referred to as 'the members') representing the fishing interests oil their district as may lie fixed by the Order creating the district, and the Order shall define the qualification of the persons entitled to vole for the election of the members and of the persons entitled to be elected members of the Fishery District Committee, but no person shall be entitled to be elected a member who is not a voter on the county electoral or municipal rolls of voters for the area comprised within the district in which it is proposed to elect him. At every election each voter shall be entitled to so many votes as shall be equal to the number of members to be elected, but he shall not be entitled to give more than one vote to each candidate. The members shall hold office for three years unless they shall sooner die or resign office, and any vacancy which may occur amongst them during that period shall be filled by the District Committee from among those persons entitled by the provisions of this section to be elected. (2) A Fishery District Committee shall from time to time elect a chairman, who shall hold office for such period as shall be fixed at the time of his election. The chairman shall have a easting vote as well as a deliberative vote. (3) The Order creating a fishery district shall make provision in regard to the time and place of meeting of the Fishery District Committee and the appointment of its clerk,

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."—(Sir G Trevelyan.)


was understood to raise a point of Order regarding Amendments to be moved.


was understood to say that he did not think it was seriously necessary for him to put forward arguments in that matter.


said, the clause was substantially the same as that put forward in the Committee in another place as an alternative to the original plan of the Government, and this was the first time they had had of considering the words. They ought to have an opportunity of raising certain points, with regard to which there were no Amendments to be moved.


I will not deal in detail with the question of rating, but will content myself with remarking that I am glad that, owing to the action of the House of Lords in this matter, we have an opportunity of surveying and re-discussing the question. Had it not been that the Lords received a remonstrance from a very large number of interested parishes in Scotland, and had they not taken the action they did, a very grave injustice would certainly have been perpetrated by this Bill. In my judgment the clause as amended by the Government does not fully do away with the injustice, hut, undoubtedly, they have shown some recognition of the follies and evils of their Bill as originally introduced: and I think they ought certainly to be grateful to another place for having given them a chance, which they did not choose to take at an early stage, of dealing with what is a subject of vital interest to the people of Scotland.

Question put, and agreed to

Amendment proposed to the Bill, instead of Clause A, disagreed to, to insert Clause C:—

(Establishment of Fishery District Committees.)

"C.—(1) In each fishery district there shall be a Fishery District Committee, who shall be a committee composed of such number of members (in this Act referred to as ordinary members) of the County Councils of the counties, and of the Town Councils of the Royal or Parliamentary burghs, and the Police Commissioners of the seaboard police burghs, comprised within the district as may be fixed by the Order creating the district, or by any other Order of the Secretary for Scotland, with the addition of an equal number of persons (in this Act referred to as fishery members) representing the fishing interests' of the district, and distributed or apportioned among the said counties and burghs and police burghs, or any of them, as the Order shall direct.

(2) So soon as an Order creating a district has been made—

  1. (a) The ordinary members shall be appointed in accordance therewith by the said County Councils, Town Councils, and Police Commissioners respectively, from among their own number, and shall hold office until their successors are appointed.
  2. (b) The Secretary for Scotland shall nominate fishery members in accordance therewith, and those persons only shall be eligible to be so nominated who shall be included within the term 'fishing interests' as defined in this Act.

(3)—(a) In the year 1895, and annually thereafter, there shall be an appointment of ordinary members in the mouth of December.

(b) In the year 1895, and in every third year thereafter, being the year in which a county electoral roll falls to be prepared under the provisions of the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1889, the fishery members shall be elected (subject to Regulations to be framed, as to nomination, the manner of conducting the elections and the mode of defraying the costs thereof, in so far as not herein provided, by the Secretary for Scotland), by all persons on the County Council and Burgh Registers of voters for the counties, burghs, and police burghs concerned.

(c) The county and burgh assessors respectively, or other persons charged within a fishery district with the duty of the preparation of the County Council and Burgh Registers of voters, shall, in the year 1895, and in every third year thereafter, prefix a distinctive mark (of which they shall have given due notice on the lists published by them) to the number or name of any county or burgh elector whom they shall respectively consider to be entitled, w who shall satisfy them that he is entitled, to be included in the expression 'fishing interests,' and such county or burgh electors only shall be qualified to be elected as fishery members.

It shall be lawful to object to the insertion fir omission of the distinctive mark in this section mentioned as nearly as may be in the same manner and subject to the same provisions as to appeal and otherwise as in the case of any other entry in or omission from the Register and lists of voters.

(d) At an election each voter shall be entitled to a number of votes equal to the number of members to be elected for the county or burgh or police burgh, or for any two or more of them for which fishery members fall to be elected, and for which he has a vote, but he shall not be entitled to give more than one vote to any candidate. The returning officers shall be appointed by the respective County Councils, Town Councils, and Police Commissioners concerned.

(e) The elections shall take place together with the elections of County Councillors in counties and of Town Councillors and Police Commissioners in burghs and police burghs respectively in the year 1895, and in every third year thereafter.

(f) The fishery members nominated by the Secretary for Scotland shall hold office until the election of their successors in the yean 1895, as provided for in this section, and those subsequently elected shall hold office for three years, and any casual vacancies shall be filled by the Fishery District Committee from among those persons entitled by the provisions of this section to be elected; provided that any person appointed to fill any vacancy shall remain in office so long only as the person in whose room lie was appointed would have remained in office.

(g) Where ordinary members are appointed in terms of this section by a Town Council of a burgh or Police Commissioners of a police burgh, no County Councillor appointed under the provisions of 'The Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1889,' to represent any such burgh or police burgh shall in a County Council vote in such appointment; and where fishery members are elected in terms of this section for a police burgh the county electors within such police burgh shall not be entitled to vote in such election.

(4) A Fishery District Committee shall from time to time elect a chairman, who shall hold office for such period as shall be fixed at the time of his election. The chairman shall have a casting vote as well as a deliberative vote.

(5) The Order creating a fishery district shall make provision in regard to the time and place of meeting of the Fishery District Committee and the appointment of its clerk.

(6)—(a) The expenses of a Fishery District Committee may, on the requisition of the said committee, be defrayed by a special assessment which shall be distributed or apportioned among the counties, burghs, and police burghs comprised within the district, or any of them, in such way, having regard to their respective interests, as the Order creating the district or any other Order by the Secretary for Scotland shall direct, but so as in no case to exceed 1d. in the £1 of the annual value of all rateable lauds and heritages in any such county, burgh, or police burgh, as ascertained by the Secretary for Scotland in the course of the annual distribution of the Local Taxation (Scotland) Account, and shall be levied and collected accordingly by the said County Councils within counties (excluding police burghs) as an addition to the general purposes rate, and by the said Town Councils acting as such or as Police Commissioners, and by the said Police Commissioners of police burghs as an addition to the burgh general assessment, or where there is no burgh general assessment, to any other available assessment, and the amounts so collected shall, on or before the 15th day of January next, ensuing, be paid to the Fishery District Committee without any deductions whatever.

(b) The special assessment aforesaid shall in the first place be applied in payment of the costs of the preparation of the roll and the election of the fishery members, and of all other costs connected with the bringing of this Act into operation, and with the future conduct and management of the business of the committee and the payment of the clerk.

It may also be applied in the second place for the other purposes of the Act.

(c) If any County Council or Town Council, or Police Commissioners of any county, burgh, or police burgh comprised within a fishery district, and liable to contribute to the aforesaid special assessment, resolve that the amount of the assessment recommended to be imposed by the Fishery District Committee is excessive, they may severally make a representation to the Secretary for Scotland, who shall take into consideration any such representation, duly signed and transmitted to him on or before the 1st day of August in any year, and may cause a local inquiry to be held, subject to the provisions of Section 93, Sub-sections (1) and (3), of the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1889, and, having regard to the nature and amount of the costs or charges incurred or to be incurred by the committee, the benefits expected to result there from, the prospect of ultimate recoupment, and the other circumstances of the case, shall determine what assessment (not exceeding the assessment recommended to be imposed by the Fishery District Committee) ought to be imposed, and his determination shall be final for the time being, and the assessment so determined shall be levied and collected and paid in terms of this section as the assessment for the year, but shall not be exceeded in that year, or, if so provided in the determination, in any of the three following local financial years; provided that no County Councillor appointed under the provision of the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1889, to represent any burgh or police burgh, shall in a County Council or its committees vote upon a proposal to pass a resolution in terms of this sub-section."—(Sir G. Trevelyan.)

Question proposed, "That the Clause be inserted in the Bill."

MR. RENSHAW (Renfrew, W.)

said, he had to move an Amendment, which he hoped would be accepted. It was the first on the Paper.

Amendment proposed, In line 5, to leave out the word "seaboard."—(Mr. Renshaw.)

Question proposed, "That the word proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed Clause."


said, the Government would be glad to accept the Amendment.

Question put, and agreed to.


said, ho had to move to amend the New Clause by providing that the persons representing the fishing interest should be one-third instead of one-half of the Fishery District Committee. In support of this Amendment, he would point out that the expenditure would divide itself into two branches—first, expenditure to be incurred in connection with the elections which were to be held in various counties and burghs in Scotland. For his part he had no objection to the expenses being thrown upon the Parliamentary and county burghs which were interested in this matter. The second item of expenditure was more serious. In connection with the development of mussel fisheries they were introducing an entirely novel principle, and one that was not capable of general application. It would be difficult to say why upland and inland parts of a county with a seaboard, whether large or small, should be rated for the purposes of this Bill. They might as well rate general ratepayers for providing seed for the agriculturists, or implements for those engaged in industrial pursuits. It seemed to him that if an enterprise of this kind was to be embarked upon, it ought to be in such a way that the ratepayers should have a predominant voice in saying that they agreed to the development of mussel-beds. In another place, the system of dividing the counties of Scotland into groups was brought forward, and in that matter the County of Renfrew was joined to Dumfries, Kirkcudbright, Wigton, and Ayr. That district had a population of 667,349, while the fishermen only numbered 870, including those within the burghs. The total valuation of these counties was £3,670,000, and 1d. in the £1 would be £1,500.

An hon. MEMBER

It is not exceeding 1d. in the £1.


said, the general purposes rate in Renfrew was ¼d. in the £1 as against this proposed 1d. Some people were very sanguine, and said that 1d. was only a maximum; but he had found that when a maximum was fixed it was not very long before it was reached. What he complained of was that these 870 fishermen were to have as much power in nominating members of the District Committee as the whole of the other ratepayers, which was an absolutely disproportionate state of matters. In Renfrew there was a population of 66,000 engaged in industrial pursuits, of which only 62 were fishermen. Hon. Members on the other side talked about "One Man One Vote," but in this case one fisherman was to be worth as much as 1,000 ratepayers. The Secretary for Scotland in September last said that the main expenditure under this Bill would be for mussel-beds, which if properly worked would pay the whole cost of the Act, but were they likely to be properly worked under these constitution committees? Again, it was to be remembered that particular interests were concerned. The particular fishermen engaged in the industry of collecting mussels were nor the best men, and were probably absolutely incapable of expressing an opinion as to how the mussel-beds should or should not be developed. In consideration of the risks involved, they ought to put the fullest control of the working of the Bill in the hands of the ratepayers.

Amendment proposed to the proposed Clause, In line 8, to leave out the words "an equal number of persons," in order to insert the words "of such number of persons, not exceeding one-third of the total number of the committee."—(Mr. Renshaw.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed Clause."


It is quite impossible for us to accept this Amendment. The principle of the Bill is that, in relation to this matter of the fishing industry, Scotland should lie in no worse position than England. I have before me all the English Orders which have yet been issued, and I find, for instance, that, in the Order creating the North Sea Fishery District the fishery members were, in relation to ordinary members, as 20 to 20, in the Cornwall Sea Fisheries District as 12 to 12, and in a third district as 31 to 31. My hon. Friend has curiously left out of account a most important element. He takes the fishermen on one side, and the ratepayers on the other; but in England every one of the fishery members is nominated by the Board of Trade, and is a Government nominee. Under this Bill the fishery I members are to be elected, not by the fishermen, but by the whole body of ratepayers. The object is to secure that one-half of the Board should be composed of people who have full knowledge of fishery subjects. The hon. Member need not be afraid that the 1d. rate will be levied on any county that has a small interest in the fisheries. There is the large fishery district of Lancashire, which expends £5,400 a year, and of that sum only £30 was levied on one occasion from Cheshire. I have no doubt the Scotch Government will be quite considerate to the districts not greatly concerned with fishing, just as the Board of Trade has been in the case of England.


said, with the indulgence of the House, he would ask whether, under the provisions of the English Act, the English authorities were empowered to deal with mussel-beds?


said, they were not empowered to deal with mussel-beds; but they had power to buy or build police ships to protect the shores—a service which was done, to a certain extent, by the Government for Scotland at present, and which, as the needs of Scotland increased, would be done to a larger extent.


said, it was perfectly true, as the right hon. Gentleman said, that the representation of the fishermen and the ratepayers was equal in the English districts; but the difference which the right hon. Gentleman seemed to have overlooked was that the English District Boards were constituted not by Statute, but by Order of the Board of Trade obtained by requisition from the district. It was thus in England a voluntary liability incurred by the people of the district; and the objection which I his hon. Friend took was that the ratepayers of Scotland were being committed to a liability which none of the assurances of the right hon. Gentleman seemed adequately to safeguard them against. Surely all that was wanted in the representation of the fishermen by the presence of adepts on the Boards was due examination and representation of their wants and wishes, and not the administration of rates over which they were not entitled to have equal control.


The ratepayers will elect them.


What was to be the area of the constituencies of these elected fishermen? Were they to be elected by the ratepayers of the whole county, or by the ratepayers of separate districts within the county or burgh?


said, he was surprised that the Government should adhere to the proposal in their Amendment, because it seemed to him to be contrary to the general principles which they supported. The Government had been in favour of a single rating authority governing all rates and completely representative of the people of the comity. There was a body in Scotland known to fame as the Commissioners of Supply. That was a body composed of the largest ratepayers who had certain functions to perform. They were subject to continual attack and jealousy on the part of supporters of the Government, who thought that they should have no power or influence at all. But yet the Government wore proposing to establish a body of representatives of a small particular interest, who should possess an equal voice in the rating with the County Council. The position of this body would be similar to that of the Commissioners of Supply on the Standing Joint Committee. Was that arrangement of the Standing Joint Committee one they were prepared to maintain? They were giving to the persons to be chosen to represent the fishing interest an equal voice with the County Council, and in that they were attempting the impossible. No Representative Body could work well which did not fulfil the condition that its elements should correspond in their strength with the strength of those they represented. If the ratepayers were stronger than the fishing interest then it was only right that the ratepayers at large should have the prevailing voice on the Boards. They said, it was true, that the fishing representatives were to be elected by the ratepayers all through the county, but what were the ratepayers through the county to know of the matter? How much would the electors of Paisley at the east end of the County of Renfrew know about the candidates which were being put forward to represent the fishing industry of the county? These candidates would either be fishermen pushing the interests of those they represented, or else they would be sham fishermen—men who by some subterfuge qualified themselves, and at the cost of a great deal of trouble to the county were selected simply to secure, by an indirect method, that which certainly ought to prevail—namely, that the voice of the ratepayers at large should be stronger than that of the fishing interest. It appeared to him that the Government would create friction and jealousy by giving to the fishing interest an equal power on the District Committee. The Amendment, on the other hand, would secure that there should be a fair and sufficient representation of experts. Certainly the least liberal proposition one had ever heard put forward was that these two bodies should be equally represented. The fishing Representatives would no doubt all of them attend the first meeting, and having with them the chairman, who would have a deliberative and a casting vote, they would be able to command a majority on the committee. It seemed to him monstrous to compel the County Council to obey the orders of this body, subject only to an appeal to the Secretary for Scotland. Surely one of the first principles of modern county government was that it should run to a certain, extent by itself; that they should not be obliged to appeal to authorities in London when difficulties arose, and that the localities should have control over their own expenditure. If the County Council had a majority on the Fishery Committees, ho was sure from what he knew of his own part of the country that the men appointed would be fair and reasonable-minded men, ready to listen to the suggestions of the fishermen and to consent to any proper expenditure. He was certain of this: that the County Council would be infinitely more likely to accept willingly and quietly the representation of the District Committee if they know that their own representatives were in a majority on it and would not be largely over-voted by those special fishermen experts. For the sake of the smooth working of the scheme ho hoped the Amendment would be accepted.


said, he should not have intervened if it had not been for the fact that he was unable to support the Amendment. By way of exordium to the two or three sentences he had to say, he would observe that the points raised by the hon. Member for the Partick Division showed how necessary it was that there should be some means of a general discussion on the clause on matters on which Amendments had no been put down. The hon. Member's interpretation of the clause as it stood, and the more or less articulate interruptions to which he was subjected by hon. Members around him, showed that they were not at one as to the interpretation to be placed on the words on the Paper. As to the Amendment itself, it was a mistake to assume, in discussing the constitution of the Fishery District Committee, that the two elements forming it would necessarily be antagonistic. He assumed that the County Councils and Town Councils would appoint as their representatives persons versed in the fishing industry whose seats were on the coast, and who would naturally be expected not only to understand the fishing question, but also to take an interest in it as representing many fishermen. Therefore, he did not think the two interests would be antagonistic, and the question of the proportion of the two bodies on the committee seemed to him a matter of small moment. There would be sufficient control under the appeal under Sub-section 6 enabling the County Council or the Town Council to make a representation to the Secretary for Scotland. He believed that the common sense of the people of Scotland would support any decision of the Secretary for Scotland, which might appear to be consonant with what was just and right, having regard to every interest concerned. There was a formula which had become classical in recent discussions on another subject. He was satisfied of the "adequacy and capacity" of the Secretary for Scotland "to fulfil those purposes for which he existed," and in that defini- tion he did not only include his right hon. Friend, but all Secretaries for Scotland who might succeed his right hon. Friend. Therefore, he (Mr. Anstrnther) was unable to support the Amendment, feeling sure that any injustice which might be committed—though he did not fear that there would be any—would be sufficiently guarded against by the appeal provided further down in the section.

Question put, and agreed to.


said, that the first paragraph of Sub-section 3 was— In the year 1895, and annually thereafter, there shall be an appointment of ordinary members in the month of December. He begged to move to leave out the word "annually" in order to insert "every third year." He hoped the Government would have no difficulty in accepting the Amendment.

Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment, In line 21, to leave out the word "annually," and insert the words "every third year."—(Mr. Renshaw.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'annually' stand part of the proposed Clause."


said, he could not accept the Amendment. It was true the County Councils were elected for three years, and that individual members of Town Councils were elected for three years; but in the latter case there was an election annually, one-third of the Town Councillors going out each year. No burden would be imposed on the ratepayers by the proposal of the Government. If it were an election which would cost money, and take time, and stir up ill-feeling, he should prefer to allow as long an interval as possible between one election and another. As, however, there was only a question of appointment by an organised body involved, he thought the clause might very well remain as it was.

Question put, and agreed to.


said, he had intended to move an Amendment to limit fishery representatives to those who inhabited the seaboard County Council electoral districts and burghs, but the proposal was consequential upon that just rejected, therefore he would not move it. It would have been reasonable if the fishery representatives had been limited to one-third of the whole number instead of one-half. He would move the next Amendment on the Paper, the object of which was to restrict each voter to one vote. It appeared to him that they were calling on very large districts indeed to elect fishery representatives. They were calling on the whole County of Ayr to elect fishery representatives by scrutin de liste. They were calling on the County of Ross and the County of Sutherland to do the same—counties which had seabeards on beth sides of Scotland, and in which the fishermen on one side were not concerned with what went on on the other side. There ought to be some provision made to ensure that each part of a county should have its proper share of representation. If the Government were willing to divide the counties into smaller districts—into six-member districts—his view would be met; but if they were not prepared to go to that trouble, each voter should only be able to vote for one candidate.

Amendment proposed to the proposed Clause, In line 48, to leave out from the words "entitled to," to the end of paragraph (e), in order to insert the words "one vote."—(Mr. Parker Smith.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed Clause."


said, this question had been discussed in the House of Commons pretty often, and at far greater length than he thought the hon. Gentleman would be willing to discuss it on the present occasion. He could only say that he had had no representation whatsoever from the fishery districts with regard to the matter. This was not a question of divided interest between one part of Scotland and another, and the fishery districts must know by this time whether the mode of election proposed was acceptable. He must say that it would require a very strong representation from the fishery districts to induce him to include in the Bill a provision which had not yet found favour with Parliament.


said, he wished to put a question as to the effect this provision with regard to elections would have in counties where a larger number of fishery members were nominated than could be elected, and whore, therefore, there would have to be an election. They had had two elections under the Local Government Act of 1889 in Scotland. In his county they had 58 electoral divisions at the first election. There were 21 contests, and the cost was £260. Then they had the action of the City of Glasgow, resulting in the annexation of a considerable portion of the county to that city. At the last election they had 41 electoral divisions and 9 contests, and the cost was £153. He was informed that the total cost of an election in his county, if contested in every electoral district, would be £500. How was that expenditure to be avoided when there was a contest only for the Fishery Committee, and not for the County Council?


said, it was for the purpose of simplicity of elections and of synchronizing them with the elections established in Scotland that the Secretary for Scotland proposed to take power to appoint the first set of fishery members. That intention was very well understood by the House, which was desirous of saving the Scotch counties from the great inconvenience of two elections. The elections under this Bill would henceforward be held at the same time as the County Council elections, and he supposed that in burghs they could be so arranged that they would be held at the same time as burgh elections. In those cases where there was no contest for the County Council, but a contest for the fishery district, the bills would have to be paid by the county. They always had to pay for representative government. In such a case there would be the inconvenience and expense of a poll, but, generally speaking, economy would result from the arrangement proposed by the Government.


said, that the point before the House was one of those he referred to when he had spoken of the advantages of a general discussion, He had intended to ask the right hon. Gentleman what provision he had in his mind for dealing with eases where there was a Fishery Committee election but no County Council election. There was also a point with relation to the Returning Officer, and the provision for the election taking place together with the County Council election. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman if he had in his mind any forecast of the regulations that would be made for the conduct of these elections? Were the two sets of elections to be made under the same Returning Officer and in the same booths, though necessarily upon different tickets? Did he contemplate that expense would be saved both to the County Council and the Fishery District Committee?


said, the Government contemplated that there would be one expense, and that was the reason they had brought forward this new proposal which was not originally in the Bill. He was sure his hon. Friend was in favour of the representative system.

* SIR C. PEARSON (Edinburgh and St. Andrews Universities)

said, this was a point which it was worth while having thoroughly cleared up. Did they understand the right hon. Gentleman to mean by this clause that, supposing the case of a County Council election, where there was no contest at all in any part of the county for the scats on the Council and where two members having to be elected at the same moment for representation on the Fishery District Committee three nominations were tabled, there would require to be a contested election in every polling district in the county?


said, that the right hon. Gentleman was in the last Parliament when his Government was in power, and ho ought to have raised this question when the House of Commons unanimously passed a Resolution that a large representative element should be introduced into the Scottish Fishery Beard. How was it possible to have this large representative element unless elections look place? They could not have it without elections.


said, that the Government were trying to evade a discussion on a point that was of vital importance, and were trying to shelter themselves behind the example of the late Government. They were drawing on the Resolution passed by the House, which the late Government endeavoured to carry out in every way; and they endeavoured to carry it out by a Bill which was not open to the objections to which this proposal was open. Do let the Representatives of Scotland who were interested in the Scottish ratepayer think what they were doing. They were absolutely forcing upon every county in Scotland not only the possibility, but almost the certainty, of elections having to take place all over their area. Under the existing state of things the election only took place where there were too many candidates; but here they were actually providing the machinery by which the most peaceably-disposed constituency might have, against its will, forced upon it all the trouble and, what was worse, the cost of a contested election. It would involve the ratepayers in a large expenditure, which would not go to the benefit of the fishermen—an expenditure which would be thrown into the sea, but which would not come back from the sea in the shape of remunerative fishing.


said, it was not easy to understand why the right hon. Gentleman was afraid that there would be an increase in the number of elections under this proposal. There were two alternatives. The election was to be at the same time as the County Council or burgh elections. If there was a contest in these, there was no increase of cost except for extra ballot papers or the like. Contests in county and burgh elections were avoided by people being reasonable, and not nominating more candidates than were required to fill the vacancies; and was it to be supposed that the same public opinion which prevented a plethora of candidates for the more important bodies such as the County or Town Councils would not also have the effect of preventing a, plethora of candidates in the case of the election of persons to represent the fishing interests? The public opinion that prevented a needless contest in the one case would prevent it in the other, and therefore he thought these wore visionary fears.


said, he thought the Lord Advocate had simply confused the position by what he had said. The fact was, that an election for the Fisheries Beard might be forced upon a part of a county lying 30 miles from the seabeard, and the electors of which knew nothing about the candidates.


I rise to Order. I wish to know whether the right hon. Gentleman is in Order in referring to matters that are outside the Amendment, which raises the simple point whether each voter shall be entitled to give more than one vote?


I think the discussion has rather drifted away from the Amendment before the House.


said, he was sure everybody would be glad to rely on the good sense of the inhabitants not to force needless contests.

Question put, and agreed to.


moved to insert the following words at the end of line 58:— Provided always, that in any county, burgh, or police burgh where the distinctive mark has not been affixed to the names of more than 2 per cent, of the electors, the county clerk or town clerk shall certify this to the Secretary for Scotland, who shall then nominate the fishery members in respect of such county, burgh, or police burgh for the ensuing three years. The question raised by this was, he said, somewhat similar to the one debated on the last Amendment—namely, the expenses to which burghs and counties in Scotland would be put in carrying through an election in connection with fishery representatives. The object of the Amendment was to save the expense and trouble of an election for the Fishery Beard in places where there were practically no fishery electors. In many of the seaboard counties the proportion of fishermen electors was very small. In the County of Renfrew, he was informed by the clerk of the county, that in the county roll there was not a single fisherman. Of course, there were fishermen in the burghs of the county; but he thought that where the fishermen were less than 2 per cent, of the electors, it should be left to the Secretary for Scotland to nominate the fishery members, and he thought that probably in such a case a much better choice would be made.

Amendment proposed to the proposed Clause, In line 58, after the word "Thereafter," to insert the words,—"Provided always, that in any county, burgh, or police burgh, where the distinctive mark has not been affixed to the names of more than 2 per cent, of the electors, the county clerk or town clerk shall certify this to the Secretary for Scotland, who shall then nominate the fishery members in respect of such county, burgh, or police burgh, for the ensuing three years."—(Mr. Renshaw.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


I think the difficulty anticipated by the hon. Member would be practically met in this way. The Secretary for Scotland will never, I presume, allot a fishery member to a burgh where there are really scarcely any qualified persons, and, consequently, that burgh will not be put to the cost and the trouble of an election. That burgh will be represented on the Beard by the delegate from the Corporation.


What I pointed out was that there is no fisherman on the roll in the County of Renfrew, although there may be fishermen in the burghs of Renfrewshire.


If there are no fishermen on the roll of the County of Renfrew, obviously there can be no election for a fishery member for the county.


I think the right hon. Gentleman is mistaken on that point. But however that may be, the Amendment of my hon. Friend has distinct reference to a very serious grievance. It does not profess to remedy that grievance, but it does refer to those counties in which the proportion of the fishing population is very small, compared with the total population; and therefore I think that nomination might fairly meet the difficulty. The House finds itself in a difficulty, and it behoves us, with the assistance of the Government, to provide some remedy for the state of things which has been pointed out. It will be in the power, as the clause stands, for a single fishing village in a county, perhaps situated 50 miles from the other extremity of the county, to compel a contested election in every division of that county. That is a condition of things which we cannot contemplate with any degree of equanimity, and the Govern- ment, if they cannot accept the Amendment of my hon. Friend, ought to try to find some remedy for this condition of things.


said, ho hoped that, in view of the great inconvenience that the right hon. Gentleman opposite had pointed out as likely to result from the Bill as it stood, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland would consider whether some Amendment could not lie introduced into the measure which would get rid of the difficulty. As it was now nearing 4 o'clock, would it not be better to suspend the Debate with a view to dealing with the matter on a future occasion?


Nobody can have listened to the discussion without feeling that there is a difficulty which requires to be met. I will not say that that difficulty has been detected to-day, but it certainly has been brought into prominence, and the Government will endeavour to deal with it as it should be dealt with. The only way of meeting it which occurs to me at the present moment is to divide the county into districts and to apportionate the fishery members among those districts, so that a single contest—which I believe would very seldom take place—will not involve the whole county. I think that if the discussion is now adjourned the Government will be able when the House next meets to propose words which would meet the difficulty.


By leave of the House, I should like to ask what is the actual proposal of the Government? Do they mean to go on with this Bill now, or to postpone it and bring it on again after February 13?


The proposal of the Government is that the House should meet on Monday, February 12, to receive from the Lords the Amendments to the Local Government Bill. If we receive those Amendments on that day we shall have to order that they shall be printed and be ready for consideration on the next day. I think, therefore, that it would be convenient that the present Debate should be concluded on Monday, February 12.


I quite appreciate what the right hon. Gentleman says about the Amendments to the Local Government Bill, but after those Amendments are printed we ought to have a day in which to consider them. Monday is a very inconvenient day after a recess for the Scotch Members to come up. I would suggest that if we could receive the Lords Amendments to the Local Government Bill on Monday, February 12, we could discuss the Bill on the Tuesday, and proceed to the consideration of the Lords Amendments to the Local Government Bill on Wednesday, February 14. That would, I think, be a convenient course.


I cannot give a definite answer to that suggestion at the present moment. The matter shall, however, be brought before the Prime Minister and my other Colleagues; but I doubt whether it will be possible to put off the discussion of the Lords Amendments to the Local Government Bill till the Wednesday.


said, he wished to reinforce the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition as to the great inconvenience of compelling the Scotch Members to be in their places on the Monday. He himself belonged to a strongly Sabbatarian part of the country. [An hon. MEMBER: Nonsense!] He could assure the hon. Member it was not nonsense. There were no trains on Sunday, and he would have to leave home on the Saturday if he were compelled to be in his place on the Monday.


said, the Scottish Members had done the best they could to assist the Secretary for Scotland, and he himself, in order that the Bill might be regarded as a, non-contentious measure, had taken off the Paper two and a-half pages of Amendments. He hoped the Government would consider that fact in arranging for the resumption of the Debate.


Does the hon. Member withdraw his Amendment?


I think my hon. Friend has a right to know what the proposal of the Government is before he withdraws his Amendment.


I do not think the Government can accept the Amendment before the House in its present shape, and under those circumstances, unless the hon. Member thin s he could carry it by main force, I think that, from the hon. Member's point of view, he might as well withdraw it.


It is rather hard to compel my hon. Friend to withdraw his Amendment without first seeing the proposal of the Government.


As we are all agreed that there is a difficulty to be met, we shall, I think, under all the circumstances, gain more time by stopping the Debate now. I move that the Debate be now adjourned.

Motion made, and Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned,"(Sir G. Trevelyan,)—put, and agreed to.

Debate adjourned till Monday, 12th February.

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