CAPTAIN PHILLPOTTS (Devon, Torquay)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether his attention has been called to the case of John Fast, who was, on 8th January, fined £45 by the Kingsbridge Bench of Magistrates for fishing without a light in prohibited waters, this being his first offence; and, whether, considering the fact that another man was fined £9 6s. for a similar offence, he will take the case into his consideration with a view to a mitigation of the penalty?
§ SIR MATTHEW WHITE RIDLEY
The facts of the case are not quite accurately stated in the Question. Fast was summoned on the 6th January for not carrying lights, as required by the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act; he was also summoned on the same day, with two other men, by the Devon Sea Fishery Board for fishing in Stark Bay-contrary to the byelaws. He pleaded guilty to both charges, and was fined £25 on the first charge, and (as were also the other two men) £20 on the second, both fines to include costs. There had been a succession of cases of illegal trawling before the Kingsbridge Bench. At first the charges were dismissed on payment of costs, or small fines only were inflicted. As the offences continued, the Magistrates found themselves compelled gradually to raise the fines until in the present case, after repeated warnings had been given from the Bench, the full monetary penalty was imposed. There is no reason to suppose that the Magistrates failed to exercise their discretion properly, and after carefully inquiring into and considering the case, and consulting the Board of Trade, I found no grounds to justify any interference on my part.