HC Deb 03 July 1896 vol 42 cc658-9

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that on Saturday the 20th June, the steam trawler St. Lawrence, of Hull, entered the port of Reykjavia, in Iceland, in order to get some ice, stores, oil, and provisions, as had been done on former occasions; and that, when the vessel had been six hours in port, the captain was informed that the magistrates had given orders that he was not to supply ice; on calling at the magistrates' office a bill for expenses, and imposing a fine of £12, was presented, which had either to be paid or await a trial; the fine was paid under protest; the captain asked the magistrate what he was to do without food, and the reply was, "Go out into the bay and catch fish, and eat fish and drink cold water till you get home;" and, as the complaints as to the action of the Icelandic authorities are very numerous, will the Government take steps immediately to inquire into and remedy the complaints of the fishing industry of this country?


A report has been received from the captain of the St. Lawrence to the effect stated in the Question. Her Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires at Copenhagen has already been instructed to make immediate inquiries into the circumstances of the case, and when his Report is received the matter will receive the careful consideration of Her Majesty's Government, in connection with other recent cases of a similar nature. I may add that the Danish Government have already, in reply to our representations, sent special instructions to the commander of the Danish gunboat, now off the coast of Iceland, reiterating the orders which had last year been given, to interpret the Icelandic Fishery Law as mildly as possible in all circumstances.


May I ask whether the Foreign Office will receive a deputation from the fishing interest on the subject?


I should be very glad, if the hon. Gentleman and those with whom he is acting desire it, to receive a deputation from the fishing interest. All the facts have been put before us, however, and it appears to me that it would be in the interests of the fishing-boat owners themselves that I should receive the deputation after we have had a reply from the Danish Government.