HC Deb 28 July 1897 vol 51 cc1361-4

Order for Third Reading read.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now Read the Third time."

CAPTAIN PIRIE (Aberdeen, N.)

proposed, to leave out the words "now Read the Third time," and add the words "re-committed in respect of Clause 4." Among the many applications which the Bill dealt with, and for which funds were placed at the disposal of the Commissioners, the Lord Advocate thought it was necessary to insert an extra provision that the money should be employed to build more lighthouses in Scotland. Though there was a most urgent demand for these he maintained that they should be provided out of the funds apart from those devoted to the congested districts. When a demand was made for lighthouses in Scotland it had first of all to be submitted to the Trinity House. But they held that the Commissioners of Northern Lights should have more liberty, and be the best judges of what was needed by the necessities of the country. The Trinity House was a. rival light authority, and it was scarcely fair that it should be the judge of Scottish lighthouse needs.


ruled that the hon. Member could not go into the whole question of lighthouses in Scotland on this Bill; he could only refer to the proposed grant for lighthouses in the congested districts.


Quite so. I bow to your ruling Mr. Speaker; but I would respectfully point out, as representing a large fishing population, and those who are very much interested in shipping as well, that it is a question affecting not only the congested districts but it is a matter of national importance from the fact that lighthouses extend all over the coast. It was entirely because of this that I mentioned my constituency. Continuing, the hon. Member said that to show the national interest this question assumed, he would point out the evidence given before the Committee on the Mercantile Marine Fund which proved conclusively that something like 50 lighthouses were wanted throughout the country, and its demands amounted to something like £400,000. It was preposterous to attempt to make such demands.


Order, order! I must remind the hon. Gentleman that it is not proposed to meet the demand for lighthouses generally out of this fund. The House is only dealing with the question whether any public money shall be spent in the congested districts in connection with lighthouses.


The words are "aiding the providing or improving of lighthouses," Sir.


In the congested districts.


Quite so. These lighthouses were mainly called for in the congested districts, and it was that point winch he wished to bring out. Later on harbours were also included, but subject to the consent of the Treasury; and if the Lord Advocate could see his way to put lighthouses in the same category as harbours, he thought time Scotch Members, on that side of the House at any rate, would be perfectly satisfied, and he would accept that. But as it stood at present, he contended that they ought not to allow the money which should go to the relief of the congested districts to apply to more purposes than were already put into the Bill. ["Hear, hear!"] Of course the Lord Advocate might possibly say that having made out a case so strongly in favour of the increase of lighthouses, that fact proved that it was more than necessary that the congested districts fund should be applied for that purpose. But in answer to that he would say that they did not care to give the Government the excuse when a legitimate demand was made for lighthouse provision, to say,—"Oh, apply to the Congested Districts Board"; when the Board would probably say, "We have so many other calls that we are not able to comply with the demand"; and Scotland would again suffer in the way it had suffered in the past. When they considered that there were something like twenty purposes to which this money could be applied, and that the fund was in itself totally inadequate to meet the demands made upon it, he thought the House would say that he had made out a sufficient case to prove that lighthouses ought not to be included in the category. He begged to move.

*MR. MUNRO FERGUSON (Leith Burghs)

said that in Committee he moved the omission of the word "lighthouses"; and although he was satisfied with the explanation of the Lord Advocate, he could not help agreeing with his hon. Friend that the number of purposes to which this money was to be applied, was larger than the fund could well meet. He did not think, however, that there was very much fear in regard to lighthouses being erected by the Congested Districts Board, and probably if the word "lights" were inserted instead of "lighthouses" it might meet the scruples of some hon. Members. In the case of Stroma, for instance, they would not speak of a lighthouse, and the word "light" would apply.

SIR W. WEDDERBURN (Banffshire)

supported the Amendment. He represented a large population of fishermen, who in the pursuit of their industry had to visit distant shores and strange waters and it was necessary that more lights should be provided for them. To put down a sum such as the congested district Fund could afford for such a purpose as that was absolutely insufficient, and he was bound to protest.

Amendment negatived.


hoped the Bill would prove a successful one. The Government had acted in a fairly generous way in reference to the matter with which the Bill dealt, and although a portion of the money really came from their own funds, Scotland was getting for the first time something like £20,000 from the British Treasury for this experiment. The only thing he was sorry about in the Bill was that after the experience of the Irish Act, they had not given compulsory powers. With regard to the composition of the Board of Commissioners, he thought that there should be special representatives of both the landlords and the crofters; fortunately the Chairman of the Fishery Board was the son of a crofter and he had represented the crofters for many years in that House, so that he would represent them well on the Board. But that was a mere accident for the time being. He hoped that when the Bill was tried in operation it would solve one of the most pressing and difficult problems of the Highlands. It certainly bid fair to do so. Of course it did not solve all the Highland problems. There were others outside the congested districts which the Government must not attempt to solve; but the Scotch Members would not forget to press them upon their attention. He hoped, however, that within its scope the Bill would be a success. ["Hear, hear"!]

Bill read the Third time, and passed.