HC Deb 18 May 1896 vol 40 cc1654-6

On the motion, "That this House do now adjourn,"

MR. H. S. FOSTER (Suffolk, Lowestoft)

said, that nothing but a matter of the most serious importance would have induced him to trouble the House at that time of night, but he wished to call attention to a state of affairs which he thought required the consideration of the Government. He held in his hand a series of telegrams from Penzance and Newlyn in Cornwall, stating that a very serious riot had taken place in that part of the country owing to the action of the Cornish fishermen. The first telegram stated that the Newlyn fishermen had thrown away the whole of a catch of mackerel in Newlyn harbour, and that there was a big riot in the place owing to Saturday and Sunday labour. A second telegram seated that a catch of four boats of 28,000 mackerel had been thrown overboard by the Newlyn fishermen, that the boats were not allowed to go to sea, that Cornishmen were in full possession of the boats, that the authorities were helpless, and that 16 Yarmouth and Lowestoft boats were in the harbour. That was followed by another telegram later declaring that the authorities were helpless and trade paralysed, the Cornishmen saying that no boats should put to sea this week, and that unless Government help arrived speedily the consequences could not be told. That was followed by a telegram as late as four o'clock in the afternoon in which it was stated that 1,000 fishermen had gone to prevent landing from three boats which were entering Penzance harbour. He wished to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty whether any steps had been taken for the purpose of preventing this serious state of things, and for the purpose of insuring that these boats should be liberated and allowed to pursue their lawful calling?


Who sends the telegrams?


The agents of the boats in Lowestoft. Representatives from Lowestoft had also been up to see him that night.

MR. W. ALLAN (Gateshead)

wished to know why the Lowestoft fishermen were at that part of the coast, and also what gave rise to this irruption. He failed to see that a man-of-war would be of any use there at all. He thought the whole statement was nothing but a mountain in labour.


said, that he thought the doctrine advanced by the hon. Member for Gateshead was extraordinary. The hon. Member seemed to think that fishermen had no right to fish in waters not adjacent to their own, and that the Cornishmen were entitled to take the law into their own hands. He hoped the First Lord of the Admiralty would be able to assure the House that justice would be done.

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

said, this was not the first time this scrt of thing had occurred. Fishermen from the east coast came down and trawled on Sunday, and the local fishermen objected to Sunday fishing. He would suggest that something should be done to enable the local Fishery Committee to lay down regulations as to Sunday trawling.


The first telegram says that some of the boats were boarded on Saturday night.


said, the practice was to go out late on Saturday night and bring in a catch on Sunday morning. This was a matter which affected the north as well as the south. In his own county it was with the greatest difficulty that fishermen were prevented from boarding trawlers that came in on Sunday morning.

MR. VESEY KNOX (Londonderry City)

said, it did not appear that any of the Lowestoft men were hurt, and if so, surely they stood condemned. They made no attempt to defend themselves, though a barbarous onslaught was made upon them, and they called for the British Fleet to defend them.

THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. G. J. GOSCHEN, St. George's, Hanover Square)

said, he would not enter into the theological part of the question, but one thing was clear, namely, that whatever the law was it ought to be enforced, and no attack on life and property ought to be allowed. He should advise his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to take such measures as would insure peace. He had no official information on the subject, but clearly it was the duty of the authorities to prevent any such riots as these. ["Hear, hear!"]

MR. W. A. MCARTHUR (Cornwall, St. Austell)

said, he did not concern himself in any way with this quarrel; none of these Cornish fishermen whom the hon. Gentleman alleged had broken the peace were his constituents, but he would say that the Cornish fishermen had always borne good characters in every branch of life.

MR. HERBERT LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)

suggested that the right hon. Gentleman should consult the President of the Board of Trade as well as the Home Secretary. The Fishery Boards were to some extent under the jurisdiction of the Board of Trade, and the President of the Board of Trade could no doubt bring his influence to bear upon them so as to frame regulations to prevent anything of this kind occurring in future.

House adjourned at Ten minutes before One o'clock.