§ [FOURTEENTH ALLOTTED DAY.]
§ Considered in Committee.
§ [Mr. JOHN ELLIS (Nottingham, Rushcliffe) in the Chair.]
§ (In the Committee.)
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a sum not exceeding £9,100 be granted to Her Majesty to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1899, for the salaries and expenses of the office of Her Majesty's Secretary for Scotland and subordinate offices.
Motion made, and Question put—
That Item A (salaries) be reduced by £200 in respect of the salary of the Secretary for Scotland."—(Mr. Pirie.)
§ MR. D. V. PIRIE (Aberdeen, N.)
I wish, to refer to a matter which has been brought before this House on several occasions. The Government have been repeatedly asked by myself and by other honourable Members, during the present Session, as to the steps to be taken to put a stop to the 810 unjust state of affairs which has existed in the waters of the Moray Firth for upwards of a year—a state of affairs which was represented to Lord Salisbury by a deputation, representative of the great fishing industry, and which was also a subject of discussion at the National Sea Fisheries Conference. We were told that it was impossible to admit the accuracy of the statement that I made, that British interests were in serious jeopardy by the present state of affairs, and it was also not admitted to be correct that the experiment for which these waters were originally closed was not rendered nugatory and abortive by the admission of trawlers into these waters. I proved conclusively, I venture to say, that both these statements are absolutely correct in every detail. In an answer which the First Lord of the Treasury gave on Monday be was kind enough to say that the question, although a very difficult one, Was seriously engaging the attention of the Government, and although he could make no pledge that the matter would be dealt with before the end of the Session, he would hold out some hopes that such would be the case. I do not wish, if possible, to press this Motion for the reduction of the salary of the Secretary of State to a Division, providing I can be sure that before the end of the Session some change will be made to ameliorate the condition of affairs in these waters. I should be the last not to fully recognise both the domestic and international difficulties with which the Government are brought face to face in the decision of a question of this sort, and therefore I shall not take up an aggressive attitude if I can get any assurance from the honourable Gentleman that he will press this matter home. But I feel bound, in the interests of the Scotch fishing industries, to bring before the Committee the remarkable state of affairs which exists at the present time. I need not recapitulate in detail the whole matter—it ought to be well known now from representations which have been made in this House for several years—but I would wish to say that 811 British fishing interests, as a whole, irrespective of whether they are trawling or line fishing interests, ought to receive at least adequate protection in comparison with the protection afforded to foreign interests; and the matter, so far as these waters are concerned, has been steadily going from bad to worse. It began at the commencement of this year, when five foreign trawlers fished constantly in these waters. The number subsequently increased to 11; and at the present moment there is something like a regular fleet of 30 foreigners exploiting these waters at the expense of British interests. It is not too much to say that these waters at the present moment are directly preserved for the use and advantage of foreigners: for, although our line fishermen, whether by steam vessels or the smaller boats, can fish in these waters, I bring to the notice of the Committee that all the more valuable class of fish in these waters cannot be caught except by trawlers. Plaice, brill, turbot, and lemon and black sole, the most valuable of British fish, cannot be caught except by foreign trawlers at present in the large area, extending over 2,000 square miles. The Prime Minister has on more than one occasion expressed the strongest disbelief in the possibility that such a state of affairs can exist, and disapprobation if such a state of affairs was found actually to exist. He said, in 1895, that—he could not conceive that the state of things could be endured which allowed the foreigner to trawl where the Englishman might not.And again, Sir, he said—they were strong words—If such a scandal as that occurred, it would give rise to extreme indignation.Sir, it has given rise to extreme indignation; and it is only due to the loyalty of the fishermen and the advice and reserve of some honourable Members for Scotland that there have not been serious breaches of the law taking place in these waters. Now, Sir, we have actually reached a state of affairs wehre it is said—I will not give this with the amount of certainty with which I make the other statements, but it is currently reported—that British com- 812 panies are at the present moment being formed which will register their vessels under the Danish flag, in order to prosecute fishing under the Danish flag in these waters. These companies, I am happy to say, at present do not come from Scotland; but if this present state of affairs continues there is a direct incentive to such action on the part of the Scottish fishers, and it would not be surprising at all if such action had taken place. We are not only handicapping ourselves for the present, but for the future as well. These foreigners have gone in; they have absolute possession of the fishery; they get to know the ground; and when—as the day must come—the by-laws of the Scottish Fisheries Board are abolished, as they must be sooner or later, these foreigners will retain permanent advantage from the experience they have gained in the last two years in these waters. There is, besides this, a very hard case, which hits the masters of these trawling vessels. When you consider that the area which is protected extends from Duncansby Head to Rattray Head, in Aberdeenshire, comprising an area of something like 2,000 miles, and a line drawn from those two heads is a line nearly 100 miles in length, it is easily conceived how the master of a trawling vessel cannot know with any accuracy where he may be fishing— whether within or outside the protected area. A case in point took place last month, when H.M.S. Niger reported the trawler Dewdrop for alleged trawling off Moss Head, in Caithness, beyond the three miles territorial limit. At that time there were three foreign trawlers fishing on the land side between the Dewdrop and the land. Well, Sir, the master of the Dewdrop was prosecuted for carrying on operations beyond the spot upon which these foreign trawlers were fishing, and he will be tried before the Summary Court by the Sheriff of the district, and, if found guilty, will be liable to be subjected to a penalty of £100. That is not a Just state of affairs. The only attempted remedy which has been organised or instituted by the Government has resulted in lamentable failure, and, instead of remedying the matter, it has really made matters, as far as Scottish interests 813 are concerned, worse than before. Last year it was supposed that as the bylaw prohibited the landing of the fish so caught by foreigners in protected waters in Scotland, some stop would be given to those foreigners, but the only result was a further injustice to Scottish interests; for Scottish ports were robbed thereby of the trade which these trawlers brought, robbed of harbour dues, and, instead of the practice ceasing, the practice has steadily gone on increasing. But I should like to point out a case which happened only last February and March in the constituency which I represent. Three foreign trawlers had been fishing during these months of February and March in Moray Firth. One of them was obliged to take shelter at Aberdeen, owing to stress of weather. She came into Aberdeen Harbour with 500 boxes of the most valuable flat fish on board. Had the weather not moderated, that fish would have been literally lost; the only course open to that vessel would have been to have gone out to sea and thrown her whole cargo of 25 tons of valuable fish, food for the nation, overboard into the sea, and these 25 tons of valuable flat fish would have been lost to the nation, not even being good for manure for the land. Such a state of things as this cannot continue. I should, before I conclude, like to draw the attention of the Committee to a quotation from the speech by the right honourable gentleman the Lord Advocate, when this subject was brought before this House in March last. He said that—Considering the state of things in Europe, in the Far East, and in every part of the globe, and having regard to other and wider interests, we [that is the Government] thought it was better to leave this question of the fisheries over for the present.Now, Sir, as I have said, I think that we have been very, very patient. We have submitted to this injustice long enough. That state of things, as I have said, cannot continue. The only solution I can see for it possible for the Government is to be found in what Lord Salisbury said himself on one occasion—It was sound principle that the sea should be open to the English trawler wherever it was open to the foreign one.814 And in these words of the Prime Minister I beg to conclude, and I hope that the Government will see their way to act upon them. I beg to move the reduction which stands in my name under the conditions that I have mentioned.
§ SIR W. WEDDERBURN (Banffshire)
I agree with my honourable friend that the condition of things as regards the Moray Firth is highly unsatisfactory, and also that it is anomalous. It is very unsatisfactory because the fishermen see foreigners destroying their fishing grounds, and it is anomalous because, while British trawlers are excluded, foreign trawlers are admitted. While I agree with my honourable Friend that the condition of things is unsatisfactory, I do not agree with him as to the remedy that is to be applied. He found fault with the Secretary for Scotland for doing too much. I would invite the Secretary for Scotland to do a little more. It has been pleaded that an unfair preference has been given to foreign trawlers. Now the way to get fid of that unfair preference is to exclude these foreign trawlers. I entirely approve of equality in these matters. My honourable Friend proposed to create that equality by admitting British trawlers. There are two courses that may be pursued: either to accede to the desire of the Scottish trawlers to enter the Moray Firth, which will upset the settled policy of the Government—the policy which has been adopted after long and careful inquiry, or, on the other hand, to exclude the foreign trawlers, which will only be carrying the existing policy out. This last course of action will make the wise restriction that the Government and the Fisheries Board have established with a view to prevent overfishing, and to prevent a destruction of our home fishing waters, applicable to foreign and home trawlers alike. It appears to me that the Government policy on this matter has been decided on a broad and national view of the question. The two great points that have been taken into consideration are, the necessity of preserving the permanent stock of food fishes, and the payment of due consideration to the claims of the large fishing population that is now dependent upon. 815 our home waters. I will give a few figures presently which, will show that about half a million of our industrial population are dependent upon the line fishing industry. This policy, which I will call a policy of prudent and wise restriction, has not been adopted hurriedly or without good evidence for it. Inquiries have now been made from time to time over a quarter of a century. The Committee are aware that there have been these inquiries. The first was in 1864. There was another inquiry in 1878. Then there was the Royal Commission, of which Lord Dalhousie was chairman, in 1883; and, finally, there was a Select Committee of this House, presided over by the present Lord Tweedmouth. What was the result of all these inquiries? Originally there was an inclination to favour trawlers. The further inquiry was pushed the more necessary it was found to place certain restrictions upon over-fishing. I have nothing to say against trawling. I wish every class to have fair play, but I wish one form of fishing not to be destructive of another form. What was the result of these inquiries? First of all, a prohibition was established against trawling within the three-mile limit. Then a further restriction was made, for which, I think, we have to thank the right honourable Gentleman the Solicitor General for Scotland; that was the preservation of the large estuaries of the Firth of Clyde, the Forth, and the Moray Firth. Then, again, in 1895, an Act was passed which contemplated a still further extension of this restriction to a 13-mile limit, which, of course, was dependent on negotiations with foreign Powers. We have also had the North Sea Convention of 1883. The consequence is that not only has this policy been instituted and put in force by the Fisheries Board and by the Secretary for Scotland, but it has had the full and cordial and well-considered approval of Parliament, and this has been done in the national interests. Therefore when the trawler comes forward and asks to have this policy upset the burden of proof lies upon him. Now, what is the ground that they have given for it? I cannot see that they have brought forward any other ground except that the foreigners are making large 816 catches, and that they also would like to make a large temporary profit from these fish. I think, when we see what is obviously going on, that in a very few months we shall see the banks there as completely depleted and abandoned as the older banks of Northumberland, Yorkshire and Durham. As a matter of fact, the trawlers have themselves admitted several of the facts upon which the restriction is most distinctly based. I think the two facts upon which the restriction is properly based are, first, the depletion of the English banks and of all those banks of which the trawler has unrestricted use; and the second objection is the great destruction of immature and unmarketable fish owing to the operations of the trawlers. Not only do the trawlers not deny this, but they have actually proposed some legislation to put ail end to this destruction of immature fish, and in the very memorial which my honourable Friend has quoted, of the National Sea Fisheries Protection Association, they have asked that some legislation should take placein the best interests of the fishing trade of the United Kingdom.And now as regards the depletion of the banks where the trawlers now work, I think it is hardly necessary for me on this question to go much into particulars. It is quite admitted that the reason why the trawlers want to come into the new waters is because they have destroyed the old ones. I should just like to quote a few words, with the permission of the Committee, from the Report of Lord Dalhousie's Royal Commission. It says:—The fact is that along the coast of Northumberland, Durham, and Yorkshire most of the fishing grounds near the shore have in recent years been deserted by the trawlers, some of them going further to sea, but the majority to the grounds off the Scottish coasts.The fact is, they destroy their own banks in England, and now they are coming to destroy our banks in Scotland. The same thing is stated in the Report of Lord Tweedmouth's Select Committee of 1893, which says that theevidence which has been given by all persons interested in the fisheries.With regard to the actual value of these grounds as a nursery, I would refer the 817 Committee to the Report of the Fisheries Board of 1896. Now that Report says—The spawning grounds in the northern part of the Moray Firth at Smith's Bank and neighbourhood, and which are known to be frequented by great shoals of food fishes, must be looked upon as the main source of supply of larval and post-larval fishes to the area of the north coast of Aberdeen, the coast of Banff, and by the normally deflected current passing westward to the inner reaches of the Moray Firth, perhaps also to the east coast of Aberdeen.I maintain, therefore, that the burden of proof which the trawlers have to discharge before they can ask for any change in the existing policy has not been discharged. Therefore I would ask the Government to remain firm in the position they have taken up and carry out this policy to its legitimate conclusion. I now wish to refer to the large population which is dependent upon the line fishing. These are the figures taken from the last Report of the Fishery Board. It appears that the number of men and boys employed in the line and drift-net fishing is no less than 40,000, whereas the trawlers only employ 693 men, many of whom are not professional fishermen at all. As regards the value of the boats and the fishing gear of the line and drift-net fishermen, it is put down at about £1,500,000, and the value of the boats of the trawlers is estimated at about £300,000. As regards the amount of the catch, the line and the drift-net fishermen in 1897 brought in 4,500,000 cwt., whereas the trawlers only brought in 600,000 cwt. of fish. Then, again, besides this large number of actual professional fishermen there are the coopers, the boat-builders, the gutters, and all the various small industries that depend upon the line fishing industry. So that I believe we are not in any way exaggerating when we say that 500,000 of the population gain their bread from line and drift-net fishing. With regard to this question of the line fishing, I wish to draw attention to a very important point, and that is that the success of the herring fishing depends upon the success of the line fishing. Unless those who fish for herring are able to supplement their profits at other seasons by line fishing, it will not be a success, and will not be a profitable business to them. At the present time about two-thirds of the whole catch of fish in 818 Scotland consists of herring, so that the preserving of the herring fisheries, and the great export trade, is a most important and valuable industry, and we must bear in mind that in order to make that industry to continue to thrive, and prevent it from going away to the Germans, the Norwegians, or other foreigners, we must provide in some way for the men to have profitable occupation during the other months of the year. If their own banks are depleted at hard times, and if the older men are not able to fish for haddocks and cod during the rest of the year, they will not be able probably to follow the great herring fishing industry; so it appears to me that it is perfectly clear that in the general interests of the community reasonable restrictions should be placed upon trawling. I do not wish to make an attack upon trawlers, or upon any industry, but we must be careful that, merely for a temporary profit, they shall not be allowed to take the bread out of the mouths of a very large population. The remedy I would ask the Government to undertake is to negotiate with the other Powers interested, in order to come to some satisfactory arrangement which will be for the common benefit of all. I am sure that those who represent the trawling industry do not wish to do anything unpatriotic, or to hurt their fellow citizens, and I would invite them to join with us to get such reasonable regulations to prevent over-fishing and the destruction of immature fish which will be beneficial to all; but it is evident that this can only be carried out by international agreement; therefore, I would urge as the remedy that early steps should be taken to negotiate a fresh arrangement. The existing police regulations were passed in 1883, and there have been many changes since that time. The number of trawlers has enormously increased, and now the trawl is much more in general use. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that these regulations should be brought up to date. The Act which deals with this question provides, by section 23, that any new Convention can be brought into force by an Order in Council. Therefore, there is no Parliamentary or practical difficulty in the way of doing this. If a Convention 819 is not considered advisable, though I cannot myself see why it should not be, at any rate early communication might be opened with the different countries which are interested; and from the inquiries I have made I have no reason to anticipate that any very great difficulty will be found with foreign countries. In fact, I think I am right in saying that one or two of the Powers have already approached the British Government in some general way with a view to getting some regulations made on this question. Therefore my point is this: that I would ask the Government to remain firm in their present wise policy of restriction, and take early steps to open negotiations, with a view of putting an end to what is undoubtedly a very unjust and a very anomalous state of things.
§ MR. BUCHANAN (Aberdeenshire, E.)
This subject has been so often before the House of Commons that I feel somewhat reluctant in again repeating my own view, but the views which are held very strongly in the constituency which I represent, and generally throughout those interested in the fishing industry. But we do most seriously complain of the action of the Secretary for Scotland and the Ministry of which he forms a part, and for whom he is the responsible Minister, for the way in which he has failed to properly administer the fishery laws of Scotland. Now there are two points which have been dealt with by the Member for Banffshire, upon which both the Secretary for Scotland and the Government have failed in their duty; in the first place, with regard to the Act of 1895; and, secondly, with regard to the question of the Moray Firth. In the Act of 1895 it was provided by the Secretary for Scotland that the Fishery Board should have power by by-laws to extend the territorial limit for fishing purposes from three to 13 miles. That proposal to extend the limit to 13 miles was introduced in the House of Lords upon the Motion of the Marquess of Lothian, a late Conservative Secretary for Scotland, which was supported by Lord Balfour of Burleigh, the present Secretary for Scotland. A provision was introduced into it by Lord Salisbury, with the object in view, no doubt, that has 820 been quoted by the honourable Member for South Aberdeen, restricting the power of the Fisheries Board and the Secretary for Scotland to extend the limit, and obtain the consent of the Powers bordering on the North Sea by international agreement. It was passed in that form immediately after Lord Salisbury came into office with Lord Balfour of Burleigh as the Secretary for Scotland, and surely there is some obligation upon him that he should take steps to fulfil his obligations to the fishing population of Scotland and make this clause of some effect. Of all the people in the world it was obligatory upon him, as the author of that clause, to take some steps, some early and effectual steps, to render this clause of some effect by entering into negotiations with foreign Powers. Now, what has he done, and what has this Government done, and what has the Secretary for Scotland done? I think we may safely say that they have done absolutely nothing. I would not so much complain of them if they had merely done nothing, if they had not pretended to do something. Now what took place in the month of December, 1895, less than six months after this Government came into office? The Secretary for Scotland, in a speech delivered in Glasgow upon the 5th or 6th December, 1895, said to all who met there that he was determined to make this clause of some effect, and that he had approached the Foreign Office, inviting them to enter into negotiations with foreign Powers to arrive at a Convention and to go into the subject. We thought really that he was going to do something, but from December, 1895, we have been put off from month to month, and year to year, by promises, the last of which has been quoted by the honourable Member for South Aberdeen, which was given by the First Lord of the Treasury, who said that the matter was receiving consideration. I have got a sheet of paper here in which the representatives of the present Ministry have told deputations, not merely from this side of the House but from the other side of the House also, because, be it remembered, that all the Unionist Members for Scotland are pledged up to the hilt in the same direction as we are, and in every 821 Conservative constituency in Scotland there has been one resolution unanimously approved of and carried, that the Government are to be called upon to make this clause of some effect. Apparently, the invitations of honourable Members on that side of the House have less effect than on this side of the House. But, as I said a minute or two ago, they not only do nothing, but less than nothing, and at the end of last Session it will be remembered we got the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to tell us something about it. We have been bandied from pillar to post by the present Lord Advocate, and he said in reply that the Scotch Office has done all it can do, and that it has now passed out of his jurisdiction. The Secretary for Scotland is responsible for the administration of this Act; he is responsible to us; he is the only person we can get at, and he is the person who should render an account to us. We did get the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to speak out, and he told us that the Foreign Office has not only done nothing, but did not intend to do anything; that the Netherlands Government had made a proposal to this Government to enter into an international Convention about fishery matters in the North Sea, and the present Government had refused to join in it. He was not only doing nothing, but acting contrary to the policy of the House and the opinions and wishes of the people of this country, and those interested in fishing matters. I say in that respect, and in the entire neglect of endeavouring to render effectual the Act of 1895, the present Government and the Secretary for Scotland have failed in the administration of this Act, and have failed in their duty towards the people of Scotland. Now with regard to the question of the Moray Firth. That, of course, depends upon the Act of 1889 and the regulations issued by the Fishery Board in 1892, by which the Moray Firth was closed to trawling. Well, as we know, a couple of years ago there was in the Scotch court a case decided, and the Lord Advocate, acting on behalf of the Government, decided to have the matter re-tried in the court of appeal, and the decision of the Scotch court was given in support of the action taken by the Fishery Board under 822 the Act of 1895, and I am sure we are all grateful to him for the action he took with regard to that matter. But instead of English trawlers going into the Firth we have now foreign trawlers going there from day to day. It is a perfectly open secret that they did not originally come there of their own knowledge and consent, but that there were certain invitations given to them, and those who now suffer most by the foreign trawlers coming there are possibly those who had not the least interest in bringing them there. Anyhow, there they are. The foreign trawlers, as the Secretary for Scotland has acknowledged, are there day after day and week after week. They are fishing in those waters, which have been by regulation legally passed by the Parliament of this country closed. They are fishing in those prohibited waters. What are we to think of the Office that is responsible for the administration of this law when they do nothing to prevent this infraction of the law of the country? The Lord Advocate took pretty quick steps to prevent the British trawlers from fishing in those waters. He first of all established the law in the Court of Appeal, and when the foreign trawlers came and endeavoured to land their fish in the ports in Scotland he interfered and prevented them landing their fish. But from that time to this he has taken no further steps, and the Government of the day themselves have taken no steps to prevent these foreign trawlers, who are illegally fishing in the Moray Firth, from landing in ports in Scotland and elsewhere. The Scotch Office has done what it can, says the Secretary for Scotland; but there again I say the Secretary for Scotland is responsible for the administration of Scotch law. He is the Minister responsible for the administration of these Acts of Parliament, and the only person we can get at; and we are not going to be put off and sent to the Board of Trade and bandied about from pillar to post, and sent to any other part of Her Majesty's Government who is not responsible, and it is the Secretary for Scotland who is to blame when we see that this law is not properly administered and carried out. I believe, if there had been a willing mind in the Government, they could have prevented 823 the landing of this fish. I am not going to express a legal opinion, but I am certain, if there had been a willingness to do so, it could have been done. I do complain of this, because the Lord Advocate, at the early part of this Session, did lead us to believe that something would be done in this direction. I remember in the first week of this present Session, when the question was brought before the Lord Advocate, he stated, in reply to a question put by some of us from these benches, that he expected within a very short period to be able to make a statement to tell us what was going to be done. Well, my honourable Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire introduced a Bill on the subject, but being introduced only by a private Member, it had no chance of going forward. But, from that time to this, the Government of which the Scotch Secretary is the representative have done nothing to put a stop to these grievances, which are a gross infraction of the law of Scotland. Now, Sir, is there any other alternative through the action of the English law officers preventing the landing of this fish at English ports? Is there any other action that might be taken by the Government to prevent this evil? Well, now, I think here also it might be possible to attempt the same line of action as we have recommended, and as is rendered imperative under the section of the Act I have alluded to of 1895. Surely this difficulty of the foreign trawlers in the Moray Firth does not need another argument as to the advisability and the imperative necessity of Her Majesty's Government entering at the very earliest moment into negotiations with other Powers, to arrive at some kind of an equitable settlement upon this great question which is producing such disastrous effects in this country. I am perfectly certain that if they did so in a reasonable spirit, they would find Denmark, Germany, Holland, and Norway quite ready to adopt reasonable views, and come to some reasonable arrangement on the subject. Speaking for the trawlers, I believe the English want the 13-mile limit, but what their contention may be is not for me to say, but I have heard the views of the foreign trawler at Grimsby upon the subject, and he stated that, so far as he was concerned, he thought that in all probability they would agree to the closing of certain 824 areas even outside the three-mile limit, and I have not the slightest doubt that if you got all these people together round a conference table, it would not be difficult to come to some agreement, because the question is now ripe for action on the part of Her Majesty's Government. Now, considering the action they took in 1893, and considering the promises which the Government have held out from time to time, I think there is an imperative obligation upon the Government headed by Lord Salisbury to take some action upon this question.
§ MR. DOUGHTY (Great Grimsby)
I have listened with a good deal of interest to the speeches of honourable Members who have preceded me. I do not think, however, that the honourable Member for Aberdeen has proved his case against the trawlers. With regard to the remarks which the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs made at the close of last Session, I may tell my honourable Friend that no remarks made in this House upon the fishing question ever gave so much satisfaction to the whole of the fishing industry as the assurance which was conveyed in that speech at that time. It is all very well to argue from the standpoint of the persons who represent Scotland, but my contention is, that the extension of the 13-mile limit all round our coast, if it is done at all, has to be done by international agreement, and if that extension is made round this country, other nationalities will also desire to have the extension extended to their coast as well. That is all right from the standpoint of those honourable Members of this House who represent line fishermen in Scotland, but to the great trawling industry, which supplies this country with so many hundreds of thousands of tons of fish a year, the extension of that limit to 13 miles would be a very great disaster indeed, and I hope the Scotch Secretary will remain firm on this question, and not allow himself to be driven into giving an assurance to-day that the Government intend again to open up this question with a view of coming to some international agreement with other nationalities with respect to the extension of the three-mile limit. I am perfectly certain that, if such a thing is attempted, there will be a very great deal to say upon it by fishermen through. 825 out the country, and by the representatives of fishermen in this House. I have listened with a very great deal of interest to the remarks of the honourable Member for Banffshire, and I would like to say that, so far as the great fishing industry is concerned, we have every sympathy with the condition in which the line fishermen are found on the coast of Scotland at the present time. But I would venture to say, Sir, that this is not the result of the catching of the fish along the coast of Scotland to-day, but the reverse of that. It is to be accounted very largely from another source altogether—namely, that the steam trawlers have supplied the English markets with a much larger quantity of fish, and from much more distant sources than ever were caught before. The consequence is that the markets which the Scotch fishermen supplied are supplied from other sources. They are unable to supply the limited area in the neighbourhood of which their fishing takes place, and as a natural consequence that industry has suffered. As to the state of things in the Moray Firth, that is a matter for which I am afraid the honourable Gentlemen who represent Scotland in this House are responsible. They never rested until they got the Moray Firth closed to British trawlers, which is protection of the very worst kind, because it does not allow the foreigner to sell his fish in the Scotch markets but in the British markets. I say the dosing of the Moray Firth, whilst it may be to the advantage of a limited number, is not to the general advantage of either Scotland or England. There are, it is true, now, some 30 trawlers fishing in the Moray Firth, and I have no doubt that next year you will find that there will be 60, and that foreign trawlers will continue to increase until the fishing there is no more profitable than in other parts of the North Sea. It is a very unpleasant thing, and is felt to be a very great grievance both by the English and the Scotch fishermen alike, that the foreigners should be allowed to take their boats into the Moray Firth, and get their 120 boxes of flat fish for their one or two nights' fishing, and bring it to a British market alongside the boats of the British fishermen, who have been fishing for six nights, and who have only 826 got 50 boxes of flat fish. I say it is a most scandalous thing; and I say, from the fishermen's point of view, it is a most unjust thing, and I am not at all surprised that my honourable Friend the Member for Aberdeen should feel a little hurt at the fact that fish caught in Moray Firth are not allowed to be sold in Aberdeen. That was the result of being extra cautious when the Act was passed; but these foreign trawlers, which are catching fish in Moray Firth, are bringing their fish round to Hull and Grimsby, and supplying British markets in spite of all your gunboats. My honourable Friend the Member for Aberdeen says that you should prevent their selling their fish in British markets; he did not say how it was to be done. I presume they have as much right to sell their goods in our markets as we have to go and sell our goods elsewhere; and I think it would be more to the credit of this country and the good of all if it remembered its traditions of free trade and destroyed this protection and gave free rights to all to fish in the Moray Firth. It has been suggested that foreign trawlers should not be allowed to sell their fish in British markets, but if it were possible to make it illegal for foreign caught fish to be sold here, you would not prevent that fish coming into British markets, because it would be simply taken to Hamburg and reshipped to this country, and unless you could adopt some peculiar way of branding the fish of the Moray Firth, you could not prevent them coming in. What we earnestly desire and what we hope is that the Secretary for Scotland will be able to see his way to giving an equal right of fishing in the Moray Firth to British and foreign fishermen alike. I would urge the Secretary for Scotland to consider this matter in the direction of giving free trade to all. Retain by all means the three-mile limit for the benefit of the line fishermen; but, having done that, give to other people the right to fish in this 2,000 miles of water, that the foreigners, the Germans, and the Danes now enjoy. I did not follow the figures of the honourable Member for Aberdeen, but when he states that something like 6,000 persons only are concerned, I am somewhat surprised, because in my constituency alone there are 2,000,000 or 3,000,000.
§ MR. DOUGHTY
What I am very anxious to press upon the Secretary for Scotland is this: that so far as the British fishermen on the east coast of England are concerned, all they desire is, and all they ask for is, that the same privileges shall be given to them as are being given to the Danes and the Germans. That is all they desire, and they are quite willing that the foreigners should have every privilege which we now enjoy.
*CAPTAIN PHILLPOTTS (Devon, Torquay)
I desire to endorse all that has fallen from the honourable Member opposite, who has just sat down, and, as representing a large number of fishermen engaged in trawling, I desire to enter my protest against the continual attacks which are made against that industry. No doubt the voting power of the line fishermen in Scotland is very much greater than that of the trawlers. For some years past measures have been proposed in this House which would press very hardly on the trawlers. I receive continual complaints from my constituents upon this matter, and I shall support to the utmost of my power all that is done to protect this most important industry.
§ MR. CROMBIE (Kincardineshire)
said he agreed with the honourable Members for Grimsby and for Aberdeenshire, but he thought that the firmness required by the Secretary for Scotland was of quite a different character to that which had been suggested. The question of the opening of the Moray Firth had been urged by the honourable Members for Grimsby and Aberdeen, who had said that foreign trawlers were permitted to trawl in the Moray Firth, while the British were not. Let the foreign trawlers be prevented from trawling the Moray Firth by all means if it be possible, but he did urge the Lord Advocate would not undo any of the legislation which had been carried out in respect to these matters. He quite agreed that trawlers should not be allowed to trawl within the three-mile limit. The trawling industry was a growing industry, but he would not go the length of saying, because there were a great many fishermen pursuing another class of industry, that therefore, in order to protect them, the Government 828 should hamper another growing industry. What the Government had to look to was the public interest, and the public interest only, and it was to the public interest that the sea should be fished in such a manner as to produce the best result. He thought that the waters inshore should be reserved for the line fishermen, and that the trawlers should be compelled to seek the more distant fishing grounds.
MR. WEIK (Ross and Cromarty)
said it had been argued that the decline and the poverty of the line fisheries was not in any way the result of the trawling, but that honourable Gentlemen who held that opinion knew nothing whatever about the matter. He was not hostile to the trawling industry, but, in his opinion, trawlers ought to go further out to sea. They were told that the limits put upon the industry were excessive, and that there should be no restrictions whatever placed upon trawling, but if that were so the line fishermen would entirely disappear. It was a very serious question, and ha would urge the Government to consider whether, at such a period of the country's history, the line-fishing industry should be annihilated. The country was in want of soldiers and sailors, and, if this hardy race of men were allowed to disappear, where were they to obtain the men for the Navy and the Army? It had been stated that there were 40,000 men engaged in the industry, and he could not allow the Vote to pass without protesting against the indifference which had been shown with respect to the matter. He had no objection to trawlers making what they could, but they should be made to go out to sea in order to give the line fishermen a chance. He should ask the Government to insist upon the exclusion of all trawlers from the Moray Firth. He thought, with a little effort on the part of the Scotch Office and the Foreign Office in the negotiation of the North Sea Convention, the closing of the Moray Firth to foreign trawlers could be effected without much difficulty. He asked that the trawlers should be cleared out of the Moray Firth, and that the line fishermen should be protected, and that 829 they should not be swept out of existence.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. GBAHAM MURRAY,) Buteshire
The Committee will see that I have had a great deal of advice offered to me, but I do not think that advice has been exactly of the same quality. I notice that almost every speaker has adjured the Government to remain firm, but each quality of firmness when it is inquired into means a perfectly different thing, according to the speaker who uses the word. The honourable Member for Aberdeen, who moved the reduction of the Vote, moved it in a speech of studied moderation, and told us that he would not press the matter to a Division if I could show him it was the intention of the Government to make some change in the existing arrangements, and pointed out that the situation in the Moray Firth was not an ideal situation. With that description of the situation I entirely agree, but when we come to trace what he means by change the truth is found in the end of his speech. He did not disguise what the change was. The change he asks for, and the only change that could be made by administrative action, would be to alter the policy which the Government has hitherto pursued, and repeal the by-laws of the Fisheries Board by which the Moray Firth was closed. Now, I ask, what does that mean? In the first place, when that by-law was established, it was enacted, after very serious consideration and upon the recommendation of the Fisheries Board, and after that reasonable determination had been arrived at, that it was to the general benefit of the fishing interest and the British public that the Moray Firth should be closed. That policy was inaugurated, and for some time, as honourable Members know, the Moray Firth remained closed, and I think honourable Members who are acquainted with that part of the world— and there are many here present—will bear me out when I say this, that closing the Moray Firth by the Fisheries Board did give satisfaction, not merely as an act of policy, but in respect to the results which they believed would accrue from that closing. They were of opinion that the closing of the Moray Firth had 830 undoubtedly done good to the fishery interests, and that the theoretical idea —if you like to call it so—upon which the closing was ordered was borne out in the practical success of the experiment. Then came that unfortunate matter which, of course, brought to an end for the moment the experiment as an experiment—that unfortunate matter of the by-law being quashed, and the Firth being thrown open—not for a long period, certainly, but for a time, during which it was invaded by an immensity of trawlers, who made their large harvest in what was at that moment almost, you may say, a preserve. Then honourable Members are aware that, by the action of the Court of Appeal, the by-law was again restored. Now, I am asked by the honourable Member—and he has been backed up by other honourable Members who have spoken, although I do not think they represent Scotch constituencies—to reverse the whole of that policy. Why? Simply because, as a matter of fact, we have not been able by simple administrative action to exclude the foreign trawlers from the Moray Firth. I put it to my Friends who represent constituencies where the interests, of line fishermen are especially valuable, would they be any better for that action? I take it that they have no doubt that they would not. They regret, probably, as I do not mind saying I regret, the presence of foreign trawlers, but I think they will agree with me that it would be a great deal worse for them if the Moray Firth were open to all; and I have never thought that the policy which it is generally admitted is one which is founded on practical common sense, and is to present advantage, should be given up simply because you can conceive of a very different, a more ideal, state of things if you were entirely master of the situation. Accordingly, although an anomaly may be, and some times is, a bad thing, I do not think we need be too much influenced by the word "anomaly"; at any rate, in speaking of the word anomaly one need not find in it a necessity for reversing a policy which has had practical and good results to a certain extent, and a reversal of which I think would result 831 in a great loss to British interests in general. Then I am told by my honourable Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire that, on the contrary, we have done a great deal too little the other way. In fact, while the honourable Member for Grimsby comes and complains that we have chastised him with whips, other honourable Members complain that we have chastised them with scorpions. So far as my duty goes to-day, I am only concerned to defend administrative action, and I cannot help thinking that so far as administrative action is concerned—which is all I have really to defend—it is perfectly impossible to simply close the Moray Firth to the foreign trawler by a stroke of the pen. The truth is, the honourable Member begs the question when he speaks of the foreign trawler as fishing illegally against the law of Scotland. If it were illegal against the law of Scotland it would be stopped. It is, unfortunately, because fishing there is not illegal and contrary to the law that we cannot stop it. There are only two courses which can be taken, either to stop the fishing altogether, or the other course of preventing the landing of fish in England, just as it is prevented in Scottish ports. Both these matters are matters of international concern, as I think honourable Members will see. The honourable Member for Banffshire, I think, fairly recognised the fact that to further protect the Moray Firth was a matter which could not be done without the co-operation of foreign Powers. I am glad to be able to say that negotiations with foreign Powers are in a different condition than when I last spoke. The honourable Member for Banffshire blamed the present Prime Minister because, having been a party to the insertion of that clause, he did not immediately proceed to extort from the other signatory Powers the extension of the three-mile limit. The honourable Member quoted a speech of my honourable Friend the Secretary for Scotland made in December, 1895. Well, I think if he will cast his mind back and remember what happened at the end of December, 1895, and the beginning of 1886, he can scarcely wonder that the 832 hands of the Prime Minister were full enough with foreign affairs without being able to take up this matter to the extent desired. It is only recently that the Foreign Minister has been in a position in which he could attend to what, after all, is a minor matter in contradistinction to the great interests to which I have alluded, though I quite agree that it is not a minor matter to those whose interests are voiced by honourable Members here. But, Mr. Ellis, within the last few weeks there have been overtures from certain of the other Powers who use the North Sea, and there are at present renewed negotiations with a view to inquiry into the whole question of how far these modern methods of fishing, and which, as everybody knows, have greatly increased in recent years, are depleting the fish stocks of the sea, and how far the changed conditions of fishing ought to be met by a new arrangement of territorial bylaws, and so on. Of course, negotiations of that sort, from their very nature, cannot be very rapid, but what I do want to impress upon the Committee is this, that I am not merely saying that negotiations are going on in the sense in which they have been going on any time during the last three years, but that there has been a new departure, and that at this present moment communications are passing. It is not, of course, possible for me to say what will be the result, but I do hope that the result of these negotiations will be the appointment of an International Commission or tribunal which will inquire into these subjects, and the labours of which, I hope, may settle this question as far as possible. Now, I think I have told the Committee how the matter stands. So far as the present attitude of the Government is concerned, I must say I think it is very clear. I think it would be out of the question that we should reverse our policy at this moment, and, accordingly, we have every intention of sticking to our by-law and continuing the closure of Moray Firth, even although that closure is not as effective as we should like it to be. The matter which the honourable Member for Ross has mentioned is one which deals with legislation and not administration, and 833 I think, Sir, on the ruling of Chairmen of Committees, such questions really cannot be raised upon a Motion on the Estimates. I think I have said enough to show that the Government cannot properly be charged with supineness. We do mean to be firm, although, no doubt, honourable Members will interpret firmness in different senses; and we shall do our very best to get such international inquiry into this matter as will once for all settle the questions existing between all these interests.
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON (Leith Burghs)
I think the statement by the Lord Advocate with regard to the present state of the negotiations with the other North Sea Powers will be received with great satisfaction. It is most important to know that there has been at last some action taken, although I do not think that the fishing interest in Scotland will be regarded as a matter of such small insignificance that it might not, perhaps, have received attention sooner. I quite recognise, however, that there are times when such questions can be dealt with, and this appears to be an opportune moment. I sincerely hope these negotiations will lead to some tangible result. There is no general disposition, I think, to accuse the Government of indifference with regard to the trawling question in Scotland, which is recognised as a very troublesome and difficult question, but there is a general desire to know exactly what the fishing interests of Scotland are to expect. If the policy which is followed in the arrangement for the Moray Firth is to be persevered with successfully, then there is no doubt an opportunity for livelihood afforded to great numbers of line fishermen; and it has been said to-tight that the interests of the line fishermen are unduly pressed because they command many votes. I do not think this ought to be a question of considering votes or raising any Party question, and in that matter I believe that honourable Members on both sides of the House are equally desirous that fair play be given to both trawlers and line fishermen, and are anxious that the food supply of the country should be obtained in the easiest and best possible manner. But the line fishermen do suffer actual injus- 834 tice, in so far as their actual means of employment are taken from them. It is not merely a question of fish being captured, but their lines and nets are carried away, and they lose their means of carrying on their industry. That is what has created a sense of injustice in the minds of many fishermen, and there will be great satisfaction in knowing that there is some prospect of an understanding with the North Sea Powers. The North Sea will have to be, some day or other, divided up into grounds that are fished and grounds that are used for spawning and increase of the fish. That has become urgently necessary. It has been taken up not a moment too soon, and it would be a great benefit, I believe, to all kinds of fishermen. There is rather a tendency, I think, to oppose the view which has been presented by some British representatives in the House to-night, because the fact of the matter is that where English waters have been entirely fished out, English trawlers are now coming to do exactly the same thing in Scottish waters. I do hope that the one other point—that of prohibiting the landing of fish from prohibited waters in English as well as Scotch ports—will receive attention from the Government. It may be an international question, but it is not so great or complicated an international question as exists in respect to the North Sea Convention with regard to fishing, and I think that, considering the state of matters which has been brought about by the English trawlers, we have some right in Scotland to press our claim that the fish caught in prohibited waters in Scotland should not be landed in English ports any more than in Scotch ports.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
The Lord Advocate is quite entitled to comment on the difference of view which has existed between those who spoke representing different constituencies, but he will not have failed to notice that there was one point upon which every speaker agreed, that the present state of things in the Moray Firth was quite indefensible. The Lord Advocate has not, I think, quite appreciated the causes which led to the present state of things in the Moray Firth. He calls them merely an anomaly. It is much more than an anomaly. It is a state of things which entirely destroys the original reasons for which 835 the Moray Firth was closed. My honourable Friend the Member for Banffshire spoke in the same sense. It has been assumed that when the Scottish Fisheries Board made this by-law, which has been so much discussed, they did so as part of the settled policy resulting from scientific inquiry, and from a conviction that it was necessary in the interests both of line fishermen and of the supply of fish generally that there should be a large area entirely exempt from the operations of the trawlers. Now that is not the case. The Scotch Fisheries Board, who made this by-law, did not possess the knowledge necessary to enable it to come to any such conclusion, nor, I believe, did it come to any such conclusion. There had been a belief on the part of the line fishermen that they were suffering from the trawlers. Of course their first grudge was that their nets were thus destroyed. They went on from that grievance to say that the diminution in the supply of fish was due to the fact that trawlers were on these grounds, and they brought their complaints before the Fisheries Board. The Fisheries Board decided, I think, in 1892 or 1893, that it would be only right that this matter should be examined in the proper method, by means of experiment, and they closed the Moray Firth, as having a large area, not, indeed, easy to define in the case of a man at sea, but still easy to define on a map by a line drawn from Duncansbay Head to Rattray Head, including about 2,000 square miles, and they determined there should be no trawl fishing within that area, in order that, after some years, it might be seen by careful experiment whether or no the line fishermen were any better off. They expected to find that fish would be more abundant than it had been before. It was in a purely scientific spirit, and for the sake of making an experiment, that Moray Firth was closed. What has happened? That experiment was originally made in the belief that to keep out British trawlers was to keep out all trawlers, and that, if the British trawler was excluded, the experiment would be properly carried on. A little more than a year ago—some fifteen months ago—foreign trawlers began to find their way into Moray Firth, and they have come in increasing numbers, so that I believe for the last few months there have been 836 about 30 cr 35 there. Although the Firth is a large area, 30 trawlers is a very considerable number, and when continually working their trawls up and down this area are a number quite sufficient to vitiate the experiment. It will not be possible now for the Scotch Fisheries Board, at the end of another year, when the time would have arrived to have determined the result of the experiment decided on in 1893, to draw any conclusions from the result of those six years closure. That cannot be done, because the operations of foreign trawlers have completely nullified and vitiated the experiment. I put it to the Lord Advocate that it is not a mere anomaly, a slight evil, that we complain of: it is the fact that the whole reason and ground why the Moray Firth was originally closed has, by the coming of the foreign trawlers, been completely removed, and therefore there is absolutely no occasion, for the purposes of the Fishery Board, to keep the Firth closed for another day. There are two courses open. One is to negotiate with foreign Powers for the purpose of keeping their trawlers out of the Firth. Although the Lord Advocate said that the Government were engaged in negotiations, I understood his remarks to refer to negotiations upon the general question of the North Sea fisheries, and to have no reference to this question of the Moray Firth. It is obvious that a grievance of this kind is not a grievance which can be expected to wait indefinitely for redress, and that these negotiations, which will last for a very long time, will give very little satisfaction to the British trawlers, who see the grounds taken up by foreign trawlers which might otherwise be occupied by themselves, and also little satisfaction to the honourable Member for Banffshire, who will see his fishing grounds trawled over by foreign trawlers. It is clear that the Lord Advocate has not given any reason why, so far as the Moray Firth is concerned, the present state of things should go on, and I put it to him that the prospect of any result in the way of keeping the foreign trawlers out by agreement with the Governments of Holland, Germany, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden is far too remote to justify a continuance of the present state of things. The only other course is to open the 837 Moray Firth. I do not believe that the line fishermen would suffer any more from the presence of British trawlers there than they suffer now. A. Report was drawn up by a competent scientific authority not long ago, which went to show that there was no ground for the idea that good was done to the fishing interest by closing the Moray Firth. In the present state of scientific knowledge that is probably a complete mistake. So much for that point of view, but I must say one or two words as to the prospect which the Lord Advocate has given as to opening up negotiations with the other Powers interested in the North Sea fishery question. He did not make that statement, as I understood him, particularly as to the question of extending the limit of 13 miles. Now, Sir, I have always deprecated the creation of a 13 mile limit, because I believed it would be against the interests of this country. If you have a 13 mile limit for fishing, you may be drawn into having a 13 mile limit for other things too, and it is to the interest of a great naval Power that the limitation of territorial waters should be as narrow as possible. I therefore do not look with great favour from a political point of view on any extension of territorial jurisdiction beyond the 13 mile limit. However, what the Lord Advocate foreshadows is a general negotiation on the whole question of trawling and the North Sea fishery in the interest of our coasts. That is a very interesting statement, but I may say, in passing, that I heard with great surprise the right honourable Gentleman's statement that these negotiations had been delayed for three years, owing to the preoccupation of the Foreign Office with other affairs. Sir, that is really hardly a reason that should be given here, or if it is given it should be given by the representative of the Foreign Office. It is very surprising to us all to learn that an extremely important British interest should be practically indefinitely postponed because the Foreign Office is dealing with some other question. I think if that is the case that we ought to appoint an additional Foreign Secretary, or at least to strengthen the staff, in order to deal with the business of the nation. However, passing from that, let me say that I think that, whether we are interested in one kind of 838 fishing or another, we were all glad to hear that this whole question is going to be taken up by the Powers in a thoroughly scientific spirit. No one here will have any right to complain of an international inquiry, conducted on the best scientific lines, which may give us better means of preserving the fishing grounds of the North Sea in the common interests of the nations, and any such result which may arise out of that inquiry will have the contented acquiescence of all classes of fishermen and their representatives. It is remarkable that we know so extremely little at present about the habits of fish. It is wonderful that a subject of such great importance, and affecting whole classes of industries, should remain so greatly behind the general progress of science; but it is satisfactory to know that the great fishing Powers interested in the North Sea are awakening to the importance of these questions, and are going to have some such an inquiry as has been indicated. I can only say that an end to these dissensions which have distracted the Scotch and English coasts for two years past is very much to be desired, and if this scientific inquiry, or a diplomatic understanding, can facilitate that result, I am sure we shall be all happy to welcome it.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR (Forfar)
I am sure, Sir, it is a matter of great satisfaction that this question should have received so much attention in this Committee. It is a matter of great importance to Scotland, but the manner in which it has been put forward at election times and other times has, I think, tended to create a false issue. The right honourable Member for Aberdeen has pointed out that this question of the Moray Firth was in a position of very unstable equilibrium, and I heard with great regret some of his remarks, which seemed to indicate that much the wisest course of the Scottish Office would be to repeal the by-laws, and trust to the idea of foreign negotiations. Now, Sir, that was to me of very sinister importance. If ever there was a Naboth's vineyard, it is this wretched Moray Firth, which has done more to create dissension between line fishermen and trawling fishermen than any other question. Those who were present in the 839 Committee, and heard my honourable Friend the Member for Grimsby argue this question, must have noticed that he repeatedly used the word "British. Now, I think it would have been far more correct to substitute the word "English," because the view which some of us have tried to urge upon the House is this, that it is impossible to reconcile Scottish interests with English interests on this Question. Another point is, as has been said, that Scottish interests are entirely dissimilar from English interests. There is a very large herring interest in Scotland, in which England has very little or no share; and it has been pointed out in. these discussions that the line fishermen and the herring fishermen of Scotland are practically identical. Under very arduous and difficult circumstances they have carried on the herring fishery in Scotland, and you will be doing great damage to a very important export trade of this country— an export trade of some half a million pounds a year, which supports some half a million of people in Scotland. That is why I venture to deprecate the raising of an issue between line fishermen and trawling fishermen in this matter. My right honourable Friend the Member for Aberdeen, in his remarks just now, seemed to me to contradict himself. He regretted that the scientific character of the experiment in closing Moray Firth would destroy foreign trawling, and then he went on to say that, practically, we knew nothing about fishing; that it would be far better to open everything, and allow both line fishermen and trawlers to come in under the circumstances. Now, Sir, it may be that the view I take has not been supported sufficiently hitherto by scientific evidence, that there is a distinct gain in closing the area, and that we are increasing the chances of improving our food supply; but, it is a very significant thing that the Moray Firth seems to be a most productive ground for trawling at the present time, after being closed for a short period. At any rate, I am content to think that it is more scientific to devote ourselves to experiments for increasing our research, or scientific knowledge, in this matter than to leave the question where it is now. I am delighted to 840 gather from the answer given by the right honourable Gentleman opposite that the proposed inquiry is not to be in the interest of any one class of fishermen in this country at all, but of all classes and all the cities of the Empire concerned. Already there is increased activity on the part of foreign countries. Germany and other countries are doing everything they can to subsidise and encourage fishermen. Fleets of boats are being put out to the North Sea, equipped as they never were before, and it is high time that we on our part should do something to protect for ourselves whatever share we ought to obtain in this fishing industry. I would appeal to all those who are interested in the fishing industry to remember that we have a common interest in doing what we can to protect our shores. I would, therefore, join in the expression of approval which has been given this afternoon to the utterances of the Lord Advocate, in which he said that we cannot go back. My own wish is that they may be able to go forward, but I am perfectly certain that this is the course which is in entire accordance with modern knowledge and modern scientific research, and the only course which we can follow with advantage to the fishing industry of this country.
§ SIR C. CAMERON (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
I am afraid, Sir, that the speech of the Lord Advocate does not indicate any vigorous determination on the part of the Government to grapple with the present situation in Scotland. The right honourable Gentleman told us that a preliminary step was to be taken for some conference, which was to consider the whole question of fishing, international and general. But it is not to be with special reference to the Moray Firth, because I noticed that when the right honourable Member for Aberdeen spoke, and asked whether there was to be any special reference to the Moray Firth in connection with this inquiry, the right honourable Gentleman the Lord Advocate did not give any indication to the effect that it was so. We heard of an assurance from different Governments to the effect that the whole question of these international trawling difficulties 841 was engaging their consideration and their urgent attention. I hope the Government will be able on a future occasion to add to what has been said by the Lord Advocate another of those vague prospects of something being done, bat which, ten to one, will not result in anything for a very long time indeed. The right honourable Gentleman admitted so much. But there is one point on which I should have liked to hear a declaration of his policy. One of my honourable Friends was specially emphatic in asking him to tell us whether, when English ports are open to these foreign trawlers, the Scottish ports are to be closed. That is a matter which does not require any protracted negotiations between sovereign Powers. The right honourable Gentleman said it was an international question. It is an international question, but it simply requires that representatives of the Scotch Office should meet representatives of the Board of Trade to arrange what is to be done, and to bring in a Bill, and do it. My honourable Friend the Member for Grimsby has asked how it could be made illegal to sell fish trawled by foreign trawlers in the Scottish waters in English ports. It could be done simply by the same method and machinery that at present exists for preventing such fish being sold in Scotch ports. If the right honourable Gentleman were in earnest in doing away with the anomaly, that is a step which would at once put an end to all difficulty in the matter. It has been pointed out in the course of the Debate again and again, and it is very much more important to have a declaration on that particular point, which is entirely within the scope of his office and the powers of the Government, than any general and vague promise as to possible negotiations which may eventuate at some distant time in something, but which may, on the other hand, eventuate in nothing. The right honourable Gentleman has very properly said that the closing of the Moray Firth has been recommended by the Scotch Fishery Board on scientific grounds; but, as the right honourable Gentleman pointed out, it was an experiment, and the conditions of that experiment are now rendered nugatory by the fact that 842 British legislation cannot enable the Government to prohibit foreign fishermen from fishing in waters which are not our territorial waters. But, Sir, there is no difficulty about the matter; there is no difficulty in extending to English ports the same prohibition against the landing of fish caught by foreign trawlers in Scotch waters which at present exists in the case of the Scotch ports. I should have liked to hear the right honourable Gentleman's view on that point. If he had got up and said the fish caught on our coast might be transhipped at Hamburg, and sent back, that would be a reason for dealing with the prohibition against landing at Scotch ports; but if the prohibition against landing at Scotch, ports is of value as a protection, and the right honourable Gentleman believes that it tends to diminish these incursions of foreign trawlers, let the Government adopt that policy. If the right honourable Gentleman cannot obtain from his own office legislation on the subject, let him at least inform the Committee that he will do his best with his English colleagues in the Government. But, as I have said, he most carefully avoided paying any attention to that point, and glided over the whole affair as if he were going over thin ice. He really passed it by without any indication of his policy upon that portion of the question, which is entirely within his influence, and dealt rather on the international question of a convention with the Powers interested in these fisheries. For that reason I am not at all as sanguine as some of my honourable Friends have professed themselves to be as to the results of the negotiations foreshadowed by the Lord Advocate, and if my honourable Friend below me thinks proper to go to a Division, I shall go with him, with a great amount of interest in the effect of the Amendment if it should be carried, and a hope that the curtailment of the right honourable Gentleman's salary by £100 might excite in him a sufficient amount of energy to make him stir up his colleagues and assert our rights abroad in such a manner as to bring this important question to a conclusion.
§ *MR. HEDDERWICK (Wick Burghs)
I desire, Sir, to say a few words on this subject on behalf of the constituents 843 whom I represent. It will be a great satisfaction to the line fishermen of Scotland to learn from the speech of the Lord Advocate that the Government are determined to maintain that policy which has been maintained for some years past, and that they will decline, in spite of the numerous appeals made to them, direct or insidious, to open the Moray Firth, and make it once more the free fishing ground that in times past it was, to the great disadvantage of the line fishermen of Scotland. My honourable Friend the Member for Grimsby expressed great sympathy with the line fishermen of Scotland. My honourable Friend represents one of the largest trawling interests in this country, and I confess that when I heard him express sympathy with the lane fishermen I was reminded of the sympathy of the walrus and the carpenter for the oysters they devoured. The honourable Member for Grimsby desires the Government to open the Moray Firth to trawling vessels for the sole reason that a certain number of foreign trawlers cannot be kept out of that Firth. But he gave, in the course of his speech, a most excellent reason for refusing to listen to his request, because he went on to say that in the course of the year there would probably be 60 foreign trawlers in the Firth, with the result that in the course of time the Moray Firth would become as barren of fish as any part of the North Sea. Well, Mr. Ellis, that is practically our contention. In the Moray Firth we have a most prolific nursery of fish, but if foreign trawlers and British trawlers are to be allowed to come into it and fish wherever they please, that nursery will be destroyed, and the Firth will become as worthless as some parts of the English coast have been already rendered by the same process. I would point out in answer to my right honourable Friend the Member for Aberdeen, who seems to think there is no truth in the idea that trawling carried on to any extent can destroy a nursery of fish, that there is at present introduced into this House a Bill to prevent the sale of immature fish—by whom? by the trawlers of this country; and if I do not mistake, my honourable Friend the Member for Grimsby supports that Bill. Well, what does that 844 mean, but that even any honourable Friend the Member for Grimsby is himself convinced that if some Measure is not passed to prevent the sale of immature fish, even under present circumstances, the sea fisheries, unlimited as we may almost say they are, will in course of time be imperilled, if not ruined? But more than that. It is well known that after the three-mile limit was introduced the trawler benefited by the limitation. And how? Because, after that limit was introduced, the nursery banks within the limit being undisturbed were enabled to produce fish of a larger and better quality, which, as they grew mature, escaped into deep water, and so became the profitable capture of my honourable Friend the Member for Grimsby and others, who, like himself, are deeply interested in the business of trawling. When all these matters are considered, and when wd know that within the restrictions under which the trawlers are at present working, they are reaping, although they complain, an enormous harvest from the sea, and that every year some fresh trawling company is started with a vast amount of capital, prepared to sweep into their nets all the fish they can, whether honestly or dishonestiy—dishonestly, in some cases, I am sorry to say—then I think it will be felt that it is high time not only that the Government should adhere to the policy which has been in operation up to this date, but that they should show greater activity than they have in the past in preventing, if possible, foreign trawlers, who at present scour the Moray Firth, from entering the Firth at all. I am delighted to hear that overtures have come from some of the North Sea Powers to the British Government. I only regret that those overtures did not proceed from Her Majesty's Government. For the last three years we who have been interested in this fishing question have again and again endeavoured to stimulate Her Majesty's Government to move in this direction. But, if late, "better late than never" and I venture to express the hope that the Lord Advocate, who spoke with some hesitation of these negotiations, will, now that they have been instituted, take care that they proceed without unnecessary delay, and while endeavouring in 845 accordance with the tenor of his remarks, to maintain on behalf of the Scotch fishermen, in whom, I believe, he is sincerely interested, those rights which they at present possess, that he will see to it at the same time that foreign trawlers are not permitted to exercise as rights any privileges which are not shared by British trawlers.
§ MR. PIRIE
I should like to ask the Lord Advocate, in view of the fresh light which he has now thrown on this question, and of the improbability of any rapid decision being come to, although negotiations are entered upon, if he is prepared to give us any information as to the intentions of the Government in the meantime. Are the present conditions to continue, by which Scotch ports are closed to the landing of fish caught by the trawlers? Is it still to be possible that the ridiculous incident which I have already related to the Committee—25 tons of valuable fish having to be thrown overboard owing to this law being enforced —may be repeated? And are we to have an opportunity of adopting the suggestion of the honourable Member for one of the divisions of Glasgow, and have English ports closed also? It is not a case of Scotch interests being opposed to English interests; it is case of justice to all. I appeal, therefore, to the right honourable Gentleman to give me an answer that will reassure my constituents, and the constituents of ether Members representing Scotch ports, who really suffer great and increasing loss by the depreciation of the trade owing to the present state of affairs.
§ MR. GRAHAM MURRAY
I think I told the honourable Gentleman what was being done. I can only answer for the administrative action of my own Department, and I say it is certainly our intention to keep to the policy which has hitherto been maintained, and that policy, in all its branches, includes stopping the landing in Scottish ports of fish caught against the provisions of the by-law, as well as stopping the actual trawling within the area. The honourable Member exhorts me to go further and try to secure that the landing of fish shall not be allowed in the English ports. All 846 I can say is that I have never disguised my personal opinion on the subject, and I shall not cease to urge it upon the Government; but it cannot be done by any administrative act of the Scotch Office.
§ MR. PIRIE
I do not intend to press this to a Division, but I must point out that the Government will not be able to escape with any excuse that they have not been warned of what the consequences of their action will be. There is no doubt whatever, in the words of the honourable Member for Grimsby, that foreign trawlers will continue to invade the waters of the Moray Firth. I do not anticipate that any conclusions will be come to by the foreign Powers for another year, and during that time the number of these foreign trawlers will double and perhaps treble. If honourable Members whose constituents surround the Moray Firth are satisfied to look forward with complacency to such a state of affairs as that, all I can say is that I, representing Scottish interests, apart from either line or trawling, look upon this matter with grave anxiety and with an utter want of confidence as to any satisfactory solution in the future.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
Motion made, and Question put—
That Item A (Salaries) be reduced by £50 in respect of the salary of the Secretary for Scotland."—(Mr. Weir.)
§ MR. WEIR
I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £50 in respect of the salary of the Secretary for Scotland. In doing so I wish to know what progress has been made in the representations to the Governments of Russia and Austria on the subject of a reduction of the duty on Scotch herrings. I also wish to know whether Her Majesty's Government have endeavoured to secure better facilities at St. Petersburg for the landing of Scotch vessels discharging cargoes of herrings 847 there. Ships have to be in the open for two or three weeks. A petition was sent to the Scottish Office a little time ago.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
Will the honourable Member kindly raise his voice? I really cannot hear what he is saying.
§ MR. WEIR
I will endeavour to do so. For some time past Scotch vessels containing cargoes of herrings have been unable to obtain the necessary landing accommodation, and this is a very serious matter to the Scotch fishing industry. I wish to know whether the Secretary for Scotland has shown any energy in response to the petition that was sent to the Scottish Office a little time ago, asking him to use his influence in that direction, or whether the matter has been pigeonholed and nothing done. Then I want to ask the right honourable Gentleman whether, as regards the Atlantic seaboard at the Outer Hebrides, the Secretary for Scotland will arrange for an alteration of the existing by-laws with reference to a fishing limit of 13 miles?
§ MR. GRAHAM MURRAY
Sir, I am afraid that the only complete satisfaction which could be given to the honourable Member would be to inform him that there was a cheaper Scottish herring in Russia. I am not able to do that, and I am not able materially to add to what he already knows. The whole of the information on the point I have already given to the honourable Member in answer to Questions.
§ MR. GRAHAM MURRAY
I think not so long ago. The last of these Questions was not two years ago, but during the present year.
§ MR. GRAHAM MURRAY
Well, of course, if I had known this point was going to be raised, I should have had the dates, but it is impossible in such a small matter to keep in mind all the dates. In fact, the present position is simply this: my noble Friend has been endeavouring to move the Foreign Office to take some steps, because it is no part of the administrative duty of the Secretary for Scotland to deal directly with the Russian Government on the question of the duty on herrings or the berthing accommodation for steamers which go with herrings to St. Petersburg. The result of the communications made by the Foreign Office—well advised as no doubt they were by persons on the spot —was that it was really no use attempting to get out of the Russian Government a further reduction of the duty on herrings. Of course, I know sometimes people go on with the process which is known as worrying until they get a thing, but that procedure is limited. All I can say is that the Foreign Office have told the Secretary for Scotland that they did not think it necessary to reapproach the Russian Government on the question. With regard to the berthing question, a telegram was brought to show that on a particular occasion a ship had been kept waiting for a long time, and accordingly a representation was made in the ordinary way. I do not know that any particular satisfaction can be given. Sometimes people have to wait, and I really do not think that the matter is one which is capable of being brought to what I may call any narrow point of duty unfulfilled. The Secretary for Scotland has done his best, when the honourable Member or any other honourable Member has pointed out particular disadvantages under which the Scottish trades are suffering, to bring the matter before the notice of the Foreign Minister, but the precise amount of pressure which the Foreign Minister can bring to bear on a foreign Government must be left more or less to the judgment of that high official. I am telling the honourable Member all I know. I am sorry I cannot give him any further information, and I am not sure that any other knowledge is possible, or that it would possibly advance the subject any more than the honourable Member's knowledge enables him to do.
§ MR. PIRIE
The right honourable Gentleman, has said that the Secretary for Scotland would be glad to hear of any particular case, and that he would look into it and do his best to remedy it. It happens that a case entirely to the point was placed in my hands this very morning, regarding the detention of a ship at St. Petersburg, by which very serious loss is being incurred at the present moment. Last year, as has been admitted, a distinct promise was given that this unsatisfactory state of affairs should cease. Well, the steamship Corene arrived at St. Petersburg on the 26th of last month, and she will not get a discharge until the 10th of July.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
Order, order! I am quite clear that the question of the detention of vessels at St. Petersburg does not fall within the administrative functions of the Secretary for Scotland.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
Order, order! I have already indicated that. Does the honourable Member persist in moving the reduction?
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 62; Noes 166.—(Division List No. 181.)851
|Abraham, W. (Cork, N.E.)||Hayne, Rt. Hon. C. Seale-||Robertson, E. (Dundee)|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Hedderwick, Thomas C. H.||Roche, Hon. J. (East Kerry)|
|Allen, W.(Newc.-under-Lyme)||Horniman, Frederick John||Shaw, C. E. (Stafford)|
|Allison, Robert Andrew||Jameson, Major J. Eustace||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarsh.)|
|Billson, Alfred||Jones, W. (Carnarvonshire)||Spicer, Albert|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Kilbride, Denis||Steadman, William Charles|
|Brigg, John||Kinloch, Sir J. G. Smyth||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Lough, Thomas||Thomas, A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Lyell, Sir Leonard||Tully, Jasper|
|Caldwell, James||Macaleese, Daniel||Wallace, Robert (Perth)|
|Cameron, Sir C. (Glasgow)||M'Ghee, Richard||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Carvill, P. G. Hamilton||McLeod, John||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Crombie, John William||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Daly, James||Montagu, Sir S. (Whitechapel)||Wilson, C. H. (Hull)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Norton, Capt. C. William||Wilson, H. J. (Yorks, W.R.)|
|Davitt, Michael||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||O'Connor, J. (Wicklow, W.)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, E.)|
|Doogan, P. C.||Oldroyd, Mark||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Duckworth, James||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Foster, Sir W. (Derby Co.)||Price, Robert John||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Roberts, John B. (Eifion)||Mr. Weir and Mr. Pirie.|
|Gourley, Sir Edward T.||Roberts, J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Bethell, Commander||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse|
|Arrol, Sir William||Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Cook, F. Lucas (Lambeth)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Bowles, T. G. (King's Lynn)||Cotton-Jodrell, Col. E. T. D.|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Brassey, Albert||Cruddas, W. Donaldson|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)|
|Baker, Sir John||Brookfield, A. Montagu||Curzon, Viscount (Bucks)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Carmichael, Sir T. D. Gibson-||Dalbiac, Col. Philip Hugh|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Carson, Rt. Hon. Edward||Dalrymple, Sir Charles|
|Balfour,Rt.Hon. A. J. (Manch'r)||Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lanes)||Denny, Colonel|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Digby, J. K. D. Wingfield-|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Cecil, Lord H. (Greenwich)||Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. D.|
|Barry, Rt Hn A H Smith-(Hunts)||Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Doxford, William Theodore|
|Bathurst, Hon. A. Benjamin||Clare, Octavius Leigh||Dunn, Sir William|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Brist'l)||Cochrane, Hon T. H. A. E.||Fardell, Sir T. George|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Farquharson, Dr. Robert|
|Beresford, Lord Charles||Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Fellowes, Hon. A. Edward|
|Fergusson, Rt Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r)||Lecky, Rt. Hon. W. E. H.||Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard|
|Finch, George H.||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Finlay, Sir R. Bannatyne||Loder, G. W. Erskine||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Long, Col. C. W. (Evesham)||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)|
|Fletcher, Sir Henry||Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverp'l)||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Flower, Ernest||Lowe, Francis William||Smith, J. Parker (Lanarks)|
|Fry, Lewis||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Stanley, Lord (Lanes)|
|Giles, Charles Tyrrell||McEwan, William||Stanley, H. M. (Lambeth)|
|Gilliat, John Saunders||McIver, Sir Lewis||Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart|
|Godson, Sir Augustus F.||McKillop, James||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir J. M.|
|Goldsworthy, Maj.-General||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Strauss, Arthur|
|Gordon, Hon. J. Edward||Maxwell, Rt. Hon. Sir H. E.||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Gorst, Et. Hon. Sir J. E.||Milton, Viscount||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Goschen, G. J. (Sussex)||Monk, Charles James||Tennant, Harold John|
|Graham, Henry Robert||Morgan, Hn. F. (Monm'thsh.)||Thorburn, Walter|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Morrell, George Herbert||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick)||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Haldane, Richard Burdon||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Hamond, Sir C. (Newcastle)||Murray, C. J. (Coventry)||Ward, Hon. R. A. (Crewe)|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robt. W.||Nicholson, William Graham||Warde, Lt.-Col. C. E. (Kent)|
|Hanson, Sir Reginald||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Waring, Col. Thomas|
|Hare, Thomas Leigh||Northcote, Hon. Sir H. S.||Wayman, Thomas|
|Heath, James||Pease, A. E. (Cleveland)||Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of W.)|
|Heaton, John Henniker||Pease, A. (Darlington)||Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.|
|Helder, Augustus||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur||Whiteley, George (Stockport)|
|Hermon-Hodge, Robert T.||Pollock, Harry Frederick||Williams, J. Powell (Birm.)|
|Hickman, Sir Alfred||Priestley, Sir W. O. (Edin.)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Hill, Rt. Hn. Lord A. (Down)||Pryce-Jones, Edward||Wills, Sir William Henry|
|Hoare, Samuel (Norwich)||Purvis, Robert||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Howell, William Tudor||Renshaw, Charles Bine||Wilson, J. W. (Worc'sh., N.)|
|Hozier, Hon. James Henry C.||Richardson, J. (Durham)||Wodehouse, E. R. (Bath)|
|Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn||Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlep'l)||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-|
|Jebb, Richard Claverhouse||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W.||Wylie, Alexander|
|Johnstone, J. H. (Sussex)||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. C. T.||Wyndham, George|
|Jolliffe, Hon. H. George||Robertson, H. (Hackney)||Young, Comm. (Berks, E.)|
|Kay-Shuttleworth, Rt Hn Sir U.||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir J. H.||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Knowles, Lees||Rutherford, John||Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Lawrence, Sir E Durning-(Corn.)||Sandys, Lt.-Col. T. Myles|
|Lawson, J. Grant (Yorks)||Saunderson, Col. E. James|
§ Original Question again proposed.
Motion made, and Question put—
That Item A (Salaries) be reduced by £200 in respect of the salary of the Secretary for Scotland."—(Mr. Caldwell.)
§ MR. CALDWELL (Lanark, Mid)
I wish, Sir, to raise a question on the Workmen's Compensation Act on the view taken by the legal representatives for Scotland as to an appointment which I understand falls within the purview of the Secretary for Scotland. Many hold that by a certain Act the Secretary for Scotland has vested in him certain powers and responsibilities under the Secretary of State. I quite understand that there is the legal view taken to the effect that the words "Secretary of State" under the Workmen's Compensation Act merely apply to the Home Secretary. Whichever view may be the correct one, I think I am fairly entitled to put this 852 question in the matter of administration —that where the Secretary for Scotland is charged with looking after the interests of Scotland, in conformity with the powers conferred upon him, he is necessarily the proper person who should answer for the rights of Scotland being duly protected in Scotch legislation. That is why I bring this matter up on this Vote, because, in my mind, it was the duty of the Secretary for Scotland to see that the rights of his office were duly protected when this Workmen's Compensation Bill was carried; and he should see that the Secretary for Scotland should, if necessary, have been in such a position, wherever the proceedings were in Scotland, to see that the interests which should be under his care were not neglected. That is the grievance which I technically bring under this Vote— that the Secretary for Scotland, in the administration of Scotch affairs, neglected to see that proper provisions were put 853 into the Bill which by law and by legislation were intended to come under his supervision. But, even if that protection should not commend itself to the Lord Advocate, there is another point I would bring before him as regards future cases of this kind. Assuming that past legislation prevents him, and that he was right in excluding such matters in this particular instance, then I venture to assert that I am entitled to say that in future cases of that kind where, obviously, in the interests of the country, there ought to be no overlapping of jurisdiction, and where, obviously, the Secretary for Scotland ought to have the initiative voice as regards any future policy of that kind—he should take care that the necessary measures are supported so far as to preserve the rights of the Secretary for Scotland. I think I have stated my point as shortly as may be, and I trust the Lord Advocate will appreciate it. Another matter that I would like to ask the Lord Advocate about is in regard to the new Order in the matter of appointing new Queen's counsel, which has been established in Scotland. I apprehend that it is a pure matter of administration. It is an Order which, I venture to say, comes within the dominion of the Secretary for Scotland in his administrative capacity. As to the recommendation of those who are to be appointed Queen's counsel, I imagine that it is left in the hands of the Lord President of the Council. But may I venture to remark, Sir, that considerable dissatisfaction has been expressed in regard to the way in which these appointments have been made, and it is desirable that there should be some change in the future? The Lord Advocate knows that in Scotland we have a number of sheriffs for every county. Now, the practice in Scotland has been that when any advocate has been appointed sheriff of a county he becomes what is understood in the profession as senior counsel, and he gives up all his practice at the Bar as a junior; and this has been a rule well recognised by the profession. It has been naturally expected that these men who occupy the position of sheriffs would necessarily be appointed Queen's counsel, because of the immemorial custom that they were recognised as seniors at the Bar, and it 854 would be against professional etiquette that they should continue to act as juniors. Now, when these appointments were made, the feeling in the profession was that these sheriffs would, as a matter of courtesy, be appointed Queen's counsel, and in many instances that was so. But in many instances also a departure was made. Now, there is no particular reason, I think—well, I won't ask the Lord Advocate for any reason, but I should think there is no special reason whatever why the sheriffs, who are appointed by the Crown to these very responsible positions, should not have the dignity of Q.C. given to them. I repeat, Sir, that there is a feeling among certain members of the profession that they have not been fairly treated in the exercise of the discretion of power of recommendation vested in the Lord President of the Court of Session.
§ MR. GRAHAM MURRAY
was understood to say, while being sorry to interpose, that the Secretary for Scotland had no voice in the matter, nor had he any power of selection. The honourable Member had indulged in what was tantamount to a criticism of the action of the Lord President of the Court of Session. It was not merely criticising the action of the Secretary for Scotland, but also the selection of those gentlemen whom he recommended.
§ MR. CALDWELL
I did not mean to criticise the appointment or the procedure, Sir. If I understand it was done administratively, it was done by Parliament.
§ MR. GRAHAM MURRAY
What was done as far as I know was this. There was a suggestion submitted to Her Majesty by the Secretary for Scotland in his capacity as a member of the Cabinet. Her Majesty was graciously pleased to approve of that suggestion, but that was scarcely an administrative act.
§ MR. CALDWELL
May I point out, on the point of order, that if the Secretary for Scotland has power to approach Her Majesty to make a recommendation in one direction, am I not perfectly right in saying that he ought to have power to make a recommendation in another direction? I am dealing with the position of 855 one who is occupying the position of Secretary for Scotland, and in that capacity if he makes one recommendation am I not entitled to say he ought to make some other recommendation?—not to criticise what has been done by the Lord President, which, I admit, if I were to go into details, would be quite out of order. But I am quite in order in saying that he having recommended one course of action to Her Majesty, I am entitled to say he should recommend another course of action.
*THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
It seems to me that the honourable Member is right. If the system under which the appointments are now made was varied on the recommendation of the Secretary for Scotland it is obvious that Her Majesty might be pleased to vary them on a similar recommendation. If so, there would seem to be some discretion in the Secretary for Scotland to vary the recommendation, and if there is any discretion it is obvious that that discretion can be criticised on that Vote.
§ MR. GRAHAM MURRAY
I hope the Committee will allow me to say this: I did not gather that the honourable Gentleman was urging that the system of appointing Queen's counsel should be altered, but that he was urging that certain appointments had not been made that ought to have been made. That is due to the action of the Lord President and not to the action of the Secretary for Scotland.
§ MR. CALDWELL
Of course it was a necessary part of my argument first of all that I should point out some of the hardships or disadvantages of the present system in order to justify what I am urging. Well, I feel that the time has come when the system ought to be changed—that it ought not to depend on the caprice of any one man, especially in the legal profession. I think it is very invidious that the Secretary of State should practically be charged with the duty of presenting the matter to the Queen, and then delegate that to one man, however eminent, as we know him to be, the Lord President of the Court of Session. What I would suggest to the Lord Advocate is this. I think that an 856 appointment of the kind, the, giving of such instructions, should devolve upon three—upon the Lord President, who is the head of the First Division; on the Lord Justice Clerk, who is the head of the Second Division; and on the Dean of Faculty, who occupies a position hardly inferior to those others. He certainly represents the practice of the Bar, and he knows the position of the parties. I venture to say that if the discretion of the Crown were vested in these three persons it would give more satisfaction to the profession generally, and I do not wish to labour the matter any further. I merely bring the suggestion before the Lord Advocate in order that it may be brought prominently before the Secretary for Scotland, so that steps may be taken to remove what has been felt in some quarters to be a grievance, namely, that men who occupy the position of sheriff in Scotland are not by the present system entitled to be recognised as Queen's counsel, though they are appointed to these high positions by the Crown. It is rather invidious for one to get it and others to be left out when there is no particular reason why one should be left out. That is all I have to say on these two points. But there is one other point which arises under this Vote, and that is with regard to the police. The right honourable Gentleman will remember I put a question to him some time ago with regard to the police employed by the colliery owners. I find, from the Inspector General's Report, that there are a good many police employed by the colliery owners. Now, of course, these police officers are all members of the constabulary, and they are liable to the rules of the service. In the case of some of the collieries in Lanarkshire the complaint has been made to me that in some instances these officers have been using their authority in some way in the getting of tenants out of houses. I venture to think, in matters of that kind, where the police are paid by the owners of the colliery, they are really under the direction of the inspector of constabulary, and under the direction of the Secretary for Scotland, and they should not allow any of these officers to do any other duties than what would be strictly pertaining to the duty 857 of a police constable if, instead of being paid by the individual colliery, lie were actually engaged on work by the county, or the county burghs, as the case may be. Matters have been brought under my notice of grievance in individual cases. I merely bring this under she Lord Advocate's notice in order to obtain an assurance from him that nothing else would be allowed to be undertaken by policemen except what is strictly appertaining to the duty of policemen. Of course, this matter comes strictly under this Vote, because under this Vote the inspector of constabulary's salary is included. He has given a report of the number of men employed under his control in Scotland, and it is his duty to advise the Secretary of State for Scotland whether the men under him are being properly employed. With regard to this Vote, there is one other point which I wish to emphasise, and perhaps to emphasise by going to a Division. I refer to the salaries paid to some of the clerks in the office of the Secretary for Scotland. The clerk in charge begins at a salary of £200 a year, and automatically goes up to £600 a year—automatically. I venture to say that is one of the most extraordinary things you will find in the accounts. You see, a man is appointed at £200 a year—a clerk—and he goes up, year by year, automatically, by the mere lapse of time, till he reaches £600, and then, I suppose, he gets a retiring allowance upon the £600. I venture to say that that is an anomaly that ought to be done away with. Then we have clerks who begin at £200, and rise automatically to £400. There are a number of cases, and on the Estimates we have from time to time called attention to these matters, and more or less these matters have been remedied of late years. If a vacancy were to take place here, the probability would be that the new appointment would be made, if we did not take any notice, under the Estimate as it is now. It is all very well to say he is entitled to his engagement, but if a new man were to be appointed he would necessarily get the old salary, unless we have some arrangement or understanding that when a vacancy takes place the salary will be revised. 858 For a mere clerk to begin at a minimum of £200, and then, so many years after that, to be worth £600 a year, is going too far. Another point I wish to call attention to is with regard to the consulting engineer. He has got £450 a year as an Army pensioner, and as consulting engineer he gets £550 a year under the Scotch Vote, making altogether £1,000 a year. Something is said about reconsidering this matter. I should like to know something about this consulting engineer—what was his previous training. So far as one can see, he is merely put in as an Army pensioner, and one has difficulty in seeing the relationship between that and the duties which, as consulting engineer, he would be called upon to perform. These are the main points which I wish to bring before the Lord Advocate.
MR. J. WILSON (Falkirk)
I do not pretend to attempt to follow the honourable Member in the varied points on which he has touched, or into the maze of legal points on which he has argued, but the first point the honourable Member raised was one with which I quite agree, that the appointment of medical referees should lie with the Scottish Secretary, and not with the Home Secretary, and if he puts that to a Division I am prepared to vote with him. All these appointments of medical referees are, in the first place, submitted to the Scottish Secretary, and then adopted or disapproved of by the Home Secretary. By the orders and regulations issued from the Home Office the best men in Lanarkshire are disqualified; no doctor employed at any works is qualified to act, and the consequence is that competent medical practitioners must be brought from Edinburgh or Glasgow at very great expense. But that is not the only matter which demands attention. There will be a very serious lapse of time, whereas doctors in colliery districts are always on the spot. I hope this matter will receive the very serious attention of the Government.
§ MR. GRAHAM MURRAY
The first point of my honourable Friend the Member for Lanarkshire is one which I really find it rather hard to see how it comes 859 up on the question of administration. All complain that I have given the Secretary for Scotland wrong legal advice in advising him that the Secretary of State under the Workmen's Compensation Act means the Secretary of State, and not the Secretary for Scotland. I may be wrong, but I can only say that I can find nothing more than that for calling the Vote in question. I do not see what more can be done by the Secretary for Scotland, except to take the advice which has been given him. I may remind the honourable Member, in defence of my own opinion, that wherever it was wanted in the clauses I have put in "the Secretary for Scotland," and the Secretary of State should be the Secretary for Scotland in this Bill. In reference to this other matter the Committee probably are not all aware that the institution of the dignity of Q.C. is simply a dignity conferred by Her Most Gracious Majesty, and it could not have been instituted at all without the recommendation of those who advise Her Majesty. Of course, so far as an individual appointment is concerned, it can only be by Her Majesty, and the only point was, from whom the recommendation should be taken. The Lord Chancellor of England is obviously the person who has the right of access to Her Majesty, and he also is the person who has that knowledge which will enable him to select those persons who are fitted to have the honour conferred upon them. Well, the Secretary for Scotland, although he was in a position to forward recommendations to Her Majesty, had not the power in Scotland that the Lord Chancellor has in England, therefore it was necessary to select someone else. My honourable Friend suggests that the recommendation should be by a triumvirate. I do not like to say one way or the other. I have had experience of a great many offices, and I do not remember any case where the distinction is recommended, except by a single individual. It is plain that duty should be put on the Lord President, and upon him it lies. So far as the Secretary for Scotland is concerned, he has acted in the only way he could act, and he has forwarded the names of those gentlemen who have been recommended by the Lord President. Now, the honourable Member also dealt with the question of the employment of police at collieries. 860 Of course, from a general point of view, I must say to the Committee that the services of policemen should be kept to their proper duties; further than that I do not think I can go, because, although I do not raise this as a point of order, because, as the honourable Member says, the Secretary for Scotland is responsible for the control of the police authorities; still, so far as there has been any particular digression in particular circumstances, it is quite obvious that the proper course is not to bring it up on the Vote of the Secretary for Scotland, but to make a complaint to the chief constable of police. The honourable Gentleman asked me about the salaries of clerks, and he seems to view with, horror the fact of their beginning with £200 a year, and rising to £600, but so far as present salaries are concerned I can give my personal testimony that the work done is well worth the money. However, I shall be very glad to say that if the office would be open to-morrow it will not be filled up at £200 a year if I can help it. The work in the Secretary's office has so much increased that it was found necessary to create the office of consulting engineer. He is an officer who has served with distinction, and has always done his work satisfactorily. The work we have had from him has given entire satisfaction to the Secretary for Scotland, and his salary has been the means of saving money in other directions, because we are enabled to reduce incidental expenses. Now, I think that is an answer to what the honourable Member for Lanarkshire has asked me. In reply to the honourable Member for Forth Boroughs of course the appointments are not at present finally determined, and I cannot go into particulars as to who has applied and who has not, but I am glad to think that it will be in the power of the Government to secure the services of men who hold good positions. Of course, it is not to be supposed that you will get what may be called the "toffs" of the medical profession, but still we shall get very good men and men of very good position The appointments rest with the Home Office, and the Home Secretary has not made any Scotch appointment, except with the full concurrence of the Secretary for Scotland. The Committee may rest assured that the local knowledge pos- 861 sessed by my right honourable Friend the Secretary for Scotland, assisted, no doubt, by myself, will be entirely available in making these appointments.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
thought the right honourable and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate had treated this matter somewhat cavalierly. The importance of the subject, as he gathered, was that hitherto the operation of the Secretary of Scotland Act, 1887, which transferred to the Secretary for Scotland the power to undertake all actions relating to Scotland which were done by the Secretary of State for Home Affairs in England, was post-prospective as well as retrospective. It was recognised that there might be a good deal of inconvenience, and here already there were complaints as to the character of the men likely to be appointed. The Lord Advocate had informed the Committee that the men would be appointed by the Home Office, although the appointments would be submitted to the Scotch Office. It was, however, easy to foresee that if any complaints were going to be made of those appointments the Scotch Members would be constantly put off upon the Home Office. The present procedure went back upon the policy of the Secretary for Scotland Acts. He had looked up the Debates which took place upon the passing of that Act. He found that Lord Lothian, in introducing the Bill to the House of Lords, said the object was to transfer all the powers vested in the Home Secretary to the Scotch Secretary. He ventured to think that, in view of the possible inconvenience, it would be worth while if the Government considered whether they could not propose some alteration.
§ MR. DALZIEL (Kirkcaldy Burghs)
I rise only to emphasise the opinions expressed by the honourable Member for Mid Lanark. Like many other Scotch Members, I have also received communications from constituents on this subject. It seems to me that the 862 omission—because it was an omission— to make it perfectly clear that the administrative authority was to be in the hands of the Scotch Office, was due to an oversight on the part of someone connected with the Scotch Office. Anyone who reads the Act must recognise that it was the intention of the Home Secretary that the power of administration in Scotland was to be in the hands of the Scotch Secretary, and it was, as I say, entirely due to an oversight that a clause was not inserted, as was generally done in cases where an English Act is meant also to apply to Scotland. I rise now only to make a suggestion to the Lord Advocate. My suggestion is that, as it was the evident intention of the Home Office that this power should be exercised in Scotland, he will consider the advisability, in consultation with the Home Secretary, of introducing this Session a short amending Act. I am sure such a course would meet with no opposition from this side of the House, and there is no reason why it should not be taken.
§ MR. CALDWELL
With regard to the use of the police by colliery owners, I may point out that the Secretary for Scotland has jurisdiction, and we have an inspector of constabulary, whose duty it is to see that the men are performing their duty, and that they keep strictly within the lines of their duty. As to the Queen's counsel, there is some reason in the Lord Advocate's reply. The Secretary for Scotland has a certain legal responsibility for the appointments, although the recommendations are made by the Lord President. I do not wish to labour the point, but in order to emphasise my protest at the sheriffs of Scotland not having been recommended for the dignity of Queen's counsel I move that the salary of the Secretary for Scotland be reduced by £200.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 41; Noes 115.—(Division List No. 182).863
|Abraham, W. (Cork, N.E.)||Duckworth, James||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarsh.)|
|Billson, Alfred||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Steadman, William Charles|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Hayne, Rt. Hon. C. Seale-||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Brigg, John||Kilbride, Denis||Tennant, Harold John|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Kinloch, Sir J. G. Smyth||Thomas, A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Langley, Batty,||Tully, Jasper|
|Burns, John||Macaleese, Daniel||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Carmichael, Sir T. D. Gibson-||M'Ghee, Richard||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Channing, Francis Allston||McLeod, John||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Crombie, John William||Norton, Capt. C. William||Wilson, H. J, (York, W.R.)|
|Daly, James||O'Connor, A. (Donegal)||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Pearson, Sir Weetman D.|
|Davitt, Michael||Pirie, Duncan V.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Provand, Andrew, Dryburgh||Mr. Caldwell and Mr. Weir.|
|Doogan, P. C.||Reid, Sir Robert T.|
|Arrol, Sir William||Gedge, Sydney||Renshaw, Charles Bine|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Giles, Charles Tyrrell||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Baker, Sir John||Godson, Sir Augustus Fred.||Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlep'l)|
|Balfour, Rt Hon. A.J. (Manch'r)||Goldsworthy, Maj.-General||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W.|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. C. T.|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Goschen, G. J. (Sussex)||Robertson, H. (Hackney)|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Graham, Henry Robert||Russell, Gen. F. S. (Chelt'm)|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Gretton, John||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Bathurst, Hon. A. Benjamin||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord G.||Rutherford, John|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H.(Brist'l)||Hamond, Sir C. (Newcastle)||Samuel, H. S. (Limehouse)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. R. W.||Sandys, Lt.-Col. T. Myles|
|Beresford, Lord Charles||Hatch, Ernest Frederick G.||Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard|
|Bethell, Commander||Heath, James||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)|
|Bond, Edward||Helder, Augustus||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Bowles, T. G. (King's Lynn)||Hill, Rt. Hn. Lord A. (Down)||Smith, James P. (Lanarks)|
|Brookfield, A. Montagu||Howell, William Tudor||Stanley, Lord (Lanes)|
|Cavendish, V.C.W. (Derbysh.)||Hozier, Hon. J. H. Cecil||Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart|
|Cecil, Lord H. (Greenwich)||Jebb, Richard Claverhouse||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir J. M.|
|Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Strauss, Arthur|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Jolliffe, Hon. H. George||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Lawrence, Sir E Durning-(Corn.)||Thorburn, Walter|
|Cochrane, Hon. T. H. A. E.||Lawson, J. Grant (Yorks)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn-(Sw'ns'a)||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Ure, Alexander|
|Colomb, Sir John C. Ready||Loder, G. W. Erskine||Warde, Lt.-Col. C. E. (Kent)|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Long, Rt. Hn. W. (Liverp'l)||Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of W.)|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Curzon, Viscount (Bucks)||Lyell, Sir Leonard||Whiteley, George (Stockport)|
|Dalbiac, Colonel Philip Hugh||McIver, Sir Lewis||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||McKillop, James||Williams, J. Powell (Birm.)|
|Denny, Colonel||Malcolm, Ian||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. D.||Monk, Charles James||Wills, Sir William Henry|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Morgan, Hn. F. (Monm'thsh.)||Wodehouse, E. R. (Bath)|
|Dunn, Sir William||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Wylie, Alexander|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)||Young, Comm. (Berks, E.)|
|Fellowes, Hon. A. Edward||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Priestley, Sir W. O. (Edin.)||Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Flower, Ernest||Pryce-Jones, Edward|
|Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk)||Purvis, Robert|
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a sum not exceeding £20,479 be granted to Her Majesty to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will
come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1899, for the salaries and expenses of the Fishery Board in Scotland, and for grants in aid of piers or quays.
§ COLONEL DENNY (Kilmarnock Burghs)
I desire to draw attention to the state of the law in reference to the mussel beds in the Clyde, which for many years until quite recently were used by the fishermen of Port Glasgow. There was a feeling on the part of the Fishery Board that these mussel beds were not being worked to the best advantage, and the consequence was that last year they advertised for the purpose of obtaining a lessee who would have some practical knowledge as to the working of these beds. The beds were at one time under the control of the Woods and Forests Department, and they transferred them to the Board of Trade. Under the law as it stands at present I believe that the Woods and Forests Department cannot transfer these beds. But these particular beds have been leased by the Woods and Forests Department over a very considerable number of years, and therefore I contend that the Board of Trade had no power to take them over. The Board of Trade leased these beds to the Fishery Department, and the Fishery Department again sub-let them to the present lessee. Against the present lessee I have not a word to say. He is a man of undoubted attainments, and will probably do his best; but, although the Fishery Board have leased these beds to the present lessee, they have been unable to maintain their control over them. The consequence is that the whole matter has got at the present moment into a disorganised state. They have deprived my constituency of these beds, and they have handed over to this lessee rights which he has not been able to maintain. The consequence is that several fishermen went to the beds, took mussels, and were proceeded against by the sheriff. But when the pleas were entered the sheriff in Greenock court refused to deal with these men, because he said he had no jurisdiction over them, because the lease had been entered into ultra vires, and the tenant had no security in the lease of these beds, and these unfortunate fishermen are prevented from doing what they have been accustomed to do, and have been deprived of a privilege which they had long enjoyed in connection with these beds. What is contended is that insufficient notice was given, to them of the Fishery Board's intention to 866 lease these beds, that the advertisements were not put into the proper papers, and that the matter was done not in what I would call an underhanded fashion, but in a fashion that was too secret. The consequence is that a very large number of men have been deprived of their livelihood, a tenant has been put in charge of the beds who cannot enforce his rights, and the aims of the Fishery Board to improve the beds do not appear to be likely to be realised. What I would have liked is this, that by some means a case should be submitted to the superior court which would once and for all clear up the whole question. If the matter had been entered into ultra vires, and it is determined that the present lessee cannot hold those beds, I believe there are men to be found quite capable of working those beds. It appears to me to be an intolerable situation that the Government has granted a lease to a gentleman which they are unable to maintain, and that they should have deprived a very large number of men of their livelihood, which they can now only gain at the cost of the beds and at the expense of the gentleman to whom the lease is granted. I do not intend to move any formal reduction in the Vote, but I desire that my constituency shall not suffer in this matter.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR
My honourable Friend has brought up a question of very great interest. Much of the detail in what he has spoken is new to me, and I am not able to agree with what has been done. I agree with him entirely in thinking that it would be more satisfactory, not only to the Fishery Board and to the lessee, but also to those who have had the benefit of these beds, if the matter had been put in a more clear and definite legal form. But I should like, as the question has been raised with reference to these mussel beds throughout Scotland, to point out again to the Committee the great importance there is in taking every kind of measure to preserve and develop this source of wealth and this great interest of the fishermen. There is only one way which legislation has indicated up to the present time in which this can be done, and it is for want of the facilities indicated by legislation that administration 867 dealing with these beds has had to be adopted, as my honourable Friend has just stated before the Committee. These beds are not handed over to private individuals and more or less private ventures; the only expedient that you can adopt is the expedient which has been indicated, and which has been successful in many parts of Scotland, that is to hand over these beds to the local fishery committee in order that you may further stimulate local interest to do all they can to preserve and develop this necessity to their industry. Now, as the Committee well know, at any rate the Scotch Members well know, there is a power under the last Sea Fisheries (Scotland) Act, which is in the hands of the Secretary for Scotland, to encourage the development and establishment of these sea fishery district committees; but that power is very limited, and, as the Committee knows, most probably the efforts of a district constituted as a district fishery committee, may be frustrated entirely by the veto of any one councillor, whether he be a member of a county or borough council in that district. That has been pointed out to the Secretary for Scotland, and I only rise at this moment to emphasise that it is for want of such facilities as we have asked for from the Secretary for Scotland that these difficulties have arisen, and I hope that in future occasion may be given for overcoming such difficulties as those indicated by my honourable Friend opposite.
§ MR. GRAHAM MURRAY
Honourable Members will find in the general report of the Fishery Board issued this year a very concise and able account of what has been done in the case of these beds referred to. I do not desire to boast of the action of the Fishery Board in this matter, but they have done their best, and have been actuated by the desire to do all they could for the development of this portion of the fishing industry. I can quite understand that some irritation would be caused among local fishermen by the restrictions placed upon the use of these local mussel beds, and naturally they were annoyed at having their beds taken from them, which they had used for many years. I can assure the honourable Member that I happen to know that the question is being inquired into by the law officers of the Crown with 868 a view to having the legal question fully declared and all the uncertainties of the position, removed. I can assure the honourable Member for Forfarshire that the Fishery Board will do their best to remedy the grievance of which he has complained.
§ MR. WEIR
I understand that these beds were leased by the Board of Trade for 20s. a year, and sub-leased to an officer of the Scotch Fishery Board for the same sum; that is, these beds were leased at 20s. a year, and sub-leased at 20s. a year. That will not even pay the lawyer's fee, and the right honourable Gentleman has not referred to this point. I think we are entitled to hear from the right honourable Gentleman whether he will make arrangements for the mussel beds in Scotland to be placed under the control of the local authorities. I trust that in future the Lord Advocate will take care that the local authorities shall have control not only of these mussel beds, but of the whole of the mussel beds in Scotland, and I should like to hear from the right honourable Gentleman what he has done in this direction.
§ MR. GRAHAM MURRAY
I think the honourable Member has really misapprehended this question. The object of transferring these beds from one Government Department to another is not to allow that Government Department to make a profit by passing it on. They got this lease at 20s. and they passed it on at 20s.
§ MR. GRAHAM MURRAY
That is what I understood. The Fishery Board did give a sub-lease, and the reason was not that it was a question of trying to make money out of it, but it was simply a question of getting somebody to spend the money necessary in order to bring these mussel beds into a proper state. They had got into a very bad state indeed, and it meant absolute ruination to the mussel beds to allow them to continue in that state. So far as money-making is concerned, I am afraid that 869 for a long time to come there will not be any profit at all, and we were very glad to get hold of a practical man to take the beds over. With regard to the question raised by the honourable Member, I know several cases in the north of Scotland where there are valuable mussel scallops, and where, through the neglect of the authorities, they have been very much deteriorated. I do not say this in an offensive sense, but the fact is that they do not look after these scallops and see that the proper areas are cultivated. As the honourable Member knows, the mussel scallops 10 years ago were very valuable, but the Committee which sat on this question in 1897–98 declared that on the whole they found that the Scotch mussel fisheries were most wasteful, and administered in a most uneconomical manner. Now we are trying to put the mussel industry upon a proper footing, and that is the reason why this sub-lease was accepted at 20s. a year; in fact, it was simply nothing more than a mere acknowledgment.
§ MR. WYLIE (Dumbartonshire)
I can assure my honourable Friend that the statement of the Lord Advocate is correct. I do not think that the local authority would have been willing to have undertaken the management of these beds in their present condition, and I believe that all the fishermen wish for is that proper regulations should be imposed. Under the present circumstances we are not very sure how the exact position of the law stands, but if proper arrangements and regulations are made, I believe that will be satisfactory to all parties.
§ SIR W. WEDDERBURN (Banffshire)
I wish to call the attention of the Lord Advocate to the item under sub-head E, for surplus of herring brand fees for 1897. I would ask him what steps are going to be taken to supplement the great need of funds for this particular purpose. I have no doubt that the right honourable Gentleman is aware that there are many applications before the Fishery Board for assistance, and very considerable sums of money have been applied for. I do not know whether the right honourable Gentleman is aware that a very considerable contri- 870 bution has been collected by the local authorities with a view to getting the harbours improved, and the Fishery Board is only prevented from assisting in many valuable and important works by the want of money. I will not go into this question of the fishery harbours, for we had the opportunity of discussing it upon a resolution at considerable length, but I would only remind the right honourable Gentleman that a very strong feeling was expressed in the House of the need of these fishery harbours, and the fact that I think the majority of the Government was reduced to a lower level upon that occasion than it ever has before, shows that this view is being pretty generally taken, so that I would point out that though this £3,000 under sub-head D is called a grant in aid of piers or quays, I think that this statutory grant ought to be made out of the Consolidated Fund, and should not appear in the Votes at all. It is not a voluntary contribution by this House, and, therefore, I would ask, what is proposed to be done to prevent this work of the improvement of the fishery harbours coming to a standstill during the current year?
§ MR. BUCHANAN
Before the Lord Advocate answers this question I should like to ask him about another item in this Vote. With regard to what has been said by the honourable Member for Banffshire, the grant has generally been only between £1,000 and £2,000, and occasionally we have had no surplus at all. With regard to that it might be worth the consideration of the Scotch Office whether some reduction should not be made in the expenses of that fund, so that there might be a better surplus. It does appear to me that the expenses of the administration of that fund are somewhat higher than they need be. Perhaps the time has come when this subject should be reconsidered, because a very long period of time has elapsed since it was under consideration. I should also like to ask the Lord Advocate a question with regard to item K for the purchase of vessels. I notice that this year the amount is £8,500, whereas for 1898–99 it is only £3,725. I understand that the increase of £4,725 in the grant was intended for the building and purchase of 871 a cruiser, and what has been called a picketing vessel. These two vessels are under contract or construction, and ought to be delivered anyhow during the present year. I think we should all like to get an assurance from, the Lord Advocate whether they are now nearly ready, and when they are going to be delivered; and, further, with regard to the charge for these vessels, I should like to get the distinct assurance from the Lord Advocate that these two sums of £8,500 and £3,725 will cover the total cost of these two boats; and if by any chance the cost should not be covered by these sums, whether it will be put into a supplementary estimate or not. A number of estimates will be asked for next year by the Government, so that the whole cost of these vessels should not be paid out of the annual Votes of the Fishery Board. I ask this for one reason amongst others, that we do not want the fund, which is under the Votes of this Session, to be about £15,000, to be encroached upon in any way by payment for these vessels, which are at present under contract and construction. I do not say that that is the intention of the Lord Advocate, but I should like to get a definite assurance from him that the cost is to be wholly covered by these two sums. I should be glad, too, if the Lord Advocate could give me some further information about item G. I had a question on the Paper relating to this matter, but I was requested to postpone it. I notice that the amount for marine superintendence for 1897–98 was £5,339, and for 1898–99, £6,079. The year before the normal charge was only about £2,500, and I desire to know if the increase in this item is due to the increase in the sea-fishing industry.
§ MR. GRAHAM MURRAY
said he could not speak positively on one or two of the financial points which had been raised, but, so far as he knew, the sum included in these Estimates was expected to cover the cost of the two new vessels for sea police duties. He believed those vessels would be ready for service in a very short time. He could not say, and his right honourable Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not present to explain, what had been finally settled 872 as to whether, supposing there was no surplus, any extra expenditure would be borne upon their Fishery Vote or put down to the £2,000 a year which had been referred to; but, as had already been stated, it had been arranged by the Treasury that, after inquiry, unless other money became available, all expenses, of whatever character, should be chargeable to the £2,000 a year.
§ MR. PIRIE
said he should like to have some explanation of the reason why, in the annual Report of the Fishery Board of Scotland, there was practically no reference to the two important questions of the closing of the Moray Firth and the continued landing and sale of immature fish. These were questions of vital interest to Scotland. There was, indeed, in the Report the curtest reference to the first of them under the head of "Marine Superintendence," but the injury caused to the Scotch fishery by the continued landing from immature fish was entirely omitted. No doubt these might be called rather thorny subjects, but he did not think that by showing timidity or vacillation or unwillingness to face them they would come nearer to a solution. He would therefore like to have the reason why the chairman of the Fishery Board had not thought fit to refer to them, when there were so many other subjects mentioned in this voluminous Report. He would only now say a few words with regard to the amount of immature fish actually landed in Scotland and England, for he wanted to know what was the position of the Government in regard to dealing with that question. It would give some idea of its importance when he stated that in 1897 1,284 tons of fish were seized by the officers of the Fishmongers' Company as being either unfit for human food or too small to have any marketable value. Yet this figure given in the Report of the Fishmongers' Company gave no idea at all of what had been lost to the whole of the British Islands by the destruction of undersized fish. On more than one occasion it had been stated that boxes of plaice, a very valuable sort of fish, had been brought to market containing upwards of 1,000 different fish, whereas if those boxes had been filled with fair-sized plaice, the 873 number of fish, they could have contained would have been only 40. That would give honourable Members some idea of the dangerous amount of destruction that was going on around our coasts. It was not for want of this matter being brought up repeatedly that nothing had been done. He was sorry to say that the Government last in office, as well as the present Government, had utterly failed to deal with this question. It would be hopeless for private Members to attempt to pass any Measure on the subject, and unless the Government took it into their own hands it would be impossible to deal with the matter. He would not lay himself open to be called to order by attempting to go fully into the question, and he only wished now to know why this important question had been ignored by the chairman of the Scotch, Fishery Board in making his annual Report. And he hoped the right honourable Gentleman would also explain why the other important question relating to the closing of the Moray Firth had been dismissed with such a curt reference in the Report.
MR. MCLEOD (Sutherland)
wished to direct attention to the Vote under subhead "d," and hoped the right honourable Gentleman was in a position to give a more satisfactory reason than had yet been advanced for putting this Vote upon the Estimates, or, if not, that he would give the Committee an assurance that it would no longer be continued. There was an item under sub-head "a" with reference to allowances to the inspector of salmon fisheries, who was provided for by a salary of £600 a year. He had always had considerable difficulty in understanding by what process the Fishery Board of Scotland charged this amount here, and came year after year asking for this sum for an official whose duties practically concerned the owners of salmon fisheries in Scotland rather than anybody else. He would suggest to the Lord Advocate that there was now a good opportunity of abolishing the office altogether, or of laying on a rate by means of which this charge could be met, for if there, was any property in the world which could stand such an assessment it was the salmon fishery. He found that, with an amount of generosity 874 not usually shown by Government Departments, there had been presented to Parliament a most elaborate, scientific Report upon salmon. Now, if that Report had been about some of the fish which went to make up the diet of the multitude he had no doubt there would be a strong feeling amongst Members that the money had been well spent, but he thought it was hardly necessary that large sums of money such, as must have been expended on the preparation of that Report should have been really thrown away in getting information about the development of the private property of a comparatively small class of the community, for the fish referred to was not by any means in common use, and practically its consumption was confined to a comparatively small class. I should like to be perfectly clear with regard to this matter. As I comprehend it, there has been a considerable increase on this Vote in recent years. Recent legislation has required the Fisheries Board to carry out the law most stringently, and has compelled a considerable increase of expense. The Estimate has gone up several thousand pounds, and from what the right honourable Gentleman said in the first instance I understood that it was the intention of the Treasury that in future out of the £15,000 that we get under certain legislation to be passed this Session this charge for marine superintendence is to be defrayed. But then a little later, the right honourable Gentleman said that the intention was only to take from the £15,000 this £740, which has been the increase of this particular year. I think we should be perfectly clear upon this point. We had certain moneys voted to Scotland last year with regard to the Highlands, and the opportunity was immediately taken by the treasury, when giving this money, to largely reduce its real amount by withdrawing certain grants we had been getting previously. I do not think, on the face of it, that is a policy which ought to be adopted by a Government Department. I think we should have a perfectly clear understanding with the Government that, in getting this £15,000 we get £15,000, and there are to be no drawbacks; or, if there is to be a drawback, we should know exactly what it amounts to. It is no use pretending, we are going to get £15,000 a year, and 875 then discover afterwards that the Treasury coolly charges against that £15,000 probably the whole of the cost of marine superintendence. I do not think the right honourable Gentleman will find it is such a very easy matter to distinguish between marine superintendence and policing. As I understand it, you might say the whole of this marine superintendence—at any rate, the increase in the Vote in recent years—has been entirely due to the police work that the Fisheries Board has been undertaking. There is only one other matter I desire to refer to, and I am surprised that Members who represent fishing interests to a larger degree than I do have not raised it. As I understood it, the intention was that, instead of continuing the Fisheries Board in Edinburgh and practically centralising the work there, it was intended that there should be some system of local committees instituted. I do think that such a system, manifestly from what has been said here to-night, would undoubtedly conduce to the development of the fisheries, and I think that the Fisheries Board should reasonably show a desire to institute these authorities. So far as they have gone, it is perfectly evident that it was through what I consider to have been the bad method of leasing what is, after all, public property to a private individual that the present troubles have come down upon us, and I think it would be a very much better plan if they appointed the fishery officers, who are well distributed over the country, as the secretaries of such local committees. I think that would be a system of things which would conduce to the development of the fisheries generally, and would also satisfy, in a very much larger degree, public opinion in the various fishery districts.
§ MR. GRAHAM MURRAY
I do not know exactly what views were in the minds of the Chairman of the Fisheries Board and of the various Commissioners in presenting the Report, but I should apprehend that the reason they did not make any reference to the closing of the Moray Firth was because that was not a matter within their province. Their Report is, of course, a resumé of the operations of the Board during the past year, and therefore I do not suppose they thought it necessary to say anything, 876 they having, from their point of view, nothing new to say. With respect to immature fish, there again I do not think that comes within the purview of the Report of the Fisheries Board, which simply is an account given to the Department, and through the Department to Parliament, of the work in which they have been engaged during the past year. Another honourable Member has asked me why this grant is on the Estimates. He said it ought to be on the Consolidated Fund. Well, I think we must remember that you cannot have drafts on the Consolidated Fund unless you have a Statute which says the grants are to be out of the Consolidated Fund. It would be a very comfortable doctrine for the Government sometimes that merely by their action they could put a grant on the Consolidated Fund instead of on the Estimates. Unless there is a Statute which actually puts a grant on the Consolidated Fund, it must be in the Estimates, because there is nowhere else for it to go. Here the simple fact is that there is no Act of Parliament which enables the Government to take this money out of the Consolidated Fund, and accordingly it must come from a Vote on the Estimates. Then, as regards the question of marine superintendence, I think the honourable Member was going out of the Estimates altogether, and going into questions as to what is to be done in future years. I am not in a position, because I have not the material to split up this item of marine superintendence, and see how far this item will fall within the definition of sea-policing. Of course, I need scarcely say it will be a most fair subject for the honourable Member to discuss when there is a Bill before the House, and by that time I shall do my best to know the precise items upon which this marine superintendence is proposed, and be able to give an answer. At present, I do not think I can. One simple word as to the expressions which fell from the honourable Member about mussel-beds. Of course, I have no objection to local authorities or similar bodies submitting their cases here, but I do not think that control by local bodies would prove satisfactory. What you really want is a practical expert, and I think their management is best left to a private lessee 877 [After the usual interval Mr. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith) took the Chair.]
§ Original Question again proposed.
Motion made, and Question put—
That Item A (Salaries) be reduced by £100 in respect of the salary of the Chairman of-the Fishery Board."—(Mr. Pirie.)
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 33; Noes 98.—(Division List No. 183).877
|Allen, Wm. (Newc.-under-L.)||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarsh.)|
|Baker, Sir John||Gourley, Sir Edw. Temperley||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale-||Steadman, William Charles|
|Billson, Alfred||Jameson, Major J. Eustace||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Brigg, John||Macaleese, Daniel||Tully, Jasper|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||M'Ghee, Richard||Ure, Alexander|
|Cameron, Sir Chas. (Glasgow)||Norton, Captain Cecil Wm.||Weir, James Galloway|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Power, Patrick Joseph||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Daly, James||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh||Wills, Sir William Henry|
|Davitt, Michael||Randell, David|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Rickett, J. Compton||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Dunn, Sir William||Roche, Hon. J. (E. Kerry)||Mr. Pirie and Mr. Caldwell.|
|Arrol, Sir William||Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk)||Pryce-Jones, Edward|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Godson, Sir Augustus F.||Purvis, Robert|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Renshaw, Charles Bine|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Green, W. D. (Wednesbury)||Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlep'l)|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Gretton, John||Robertson, Herbt. (Hackney)|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benj.||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord G.||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Brist'l)||Hamond, Sir C. (Newcastle)||Rutherford, John|
|Bethell, Commander||Hatch, Ernest Frederick G.||Samuel, H. S. (Limehouse)|
|Bond, Edward||Heaton, John Henniker||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. T. Myles|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Helder, Augustus||Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Hermon-Hodge, Robert T.||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)|
|Brookfield, A. Montagu||Hornby, William Henry||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Howell, William Tudor||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Hozier, Hon. Jas. H. Cecil||Smith, J. P. (Lanarksh.)|
|Cavendish, V.C.W. (Derbysh.)||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Johnstone, John H. (Sussex)||Stanley, Lord (Lanes)|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Jolliffe, Hon. H, George||Strauss, Arthur|
|Cochrane, Hon. T. H. A. E.||Lawrence Sir E Durning- (Corn.)||Strutt, Hon. Chas. Hedley|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Warde, Lt.-Col. C. E. (Kent)|
|Crombie, John William||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of W.)|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverp'l)||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Dalbiac, Colonel Philip Hugh||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||McIver, Sir Lewis||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Denny, Colonel||McKillop, James||Williams, J. Powell (Birm.)|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||McLeod, John||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Malcolm, Ian||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Wylie, Alexander|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Murray, Rt. Hon. A. G. (Bute)||Young, Comm. (Berks, E.)|
|Ferguson, R. C. M. (Leith)||Myers, William Henry|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Nicol, Donald Ninian||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur||Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Flower, Ernest||Priestley, Sir W. O. (Edin.)|
§ the salmon fisheries in Scotland received £600 a year, which the taxpayers had to provide, they only looked after the interests of a certain class of 879 the people. If honourable Members went into the Highlands they would find that the inspectors were taken round the fisheries in the yachts of the landlords and were cared for as if they were the choicest exotics. He thought that the £600 a year provided by the taxpayers was not expended in a proper way. He also complained of that roundabout way in which the Fisheries Board did its business, and suggested that the Board should be allowed to frame such rules as would prevent such a waste of time. A further complaint was made in connection with illegal trawling, which, in his opinion the Government did not take sufficient measures to prevent. He suggested that not only should the fines for illegal trawling be increased, but that the owners of the trawls should be fined as well as the skippers.
§ MR. GRAHAM MURRAY
said the honourable Gentleman who had just sat down apparently misunderstood the position of the salmon fisheries in this country. The inspection of the salmon fisheries was in the interests of the nation at large, and had been carried out satisfactorily. With regard to the suggestion of the honourable Member as to increased powers being given to the Fisheries Board he was afraid it was impossible. With regard to the last question, the honourable Member must have known perfectly well that besides the sea policing by the Fisheries Board own vessels, there had also from time to time been vessels lent by the Admiralty which had been used to give protection to the fisheries. Upon the question of fines the Fisheries Board was powerless in the matter, the fines being regulated by Statute. The fisheries Board provided by its by-laws that the maximum fine should be recovered, but whether it was exacted in each case or not very much depended upon the judge before whom the matter was brought.
§ MR. CALDWELL
There is one point I wish to emphasise, and that is this with regard to this Vote as a whole. It is per- 880 fectly true we have nothing to do with this £15,000, which it is proposed to give us for policing under the resolution which recently came before this House. I am not discussing the £15,000 by itself, but the very fact that the Government themselves are bringing in a resolution with the view of providing for the further protection of the Scotch Fisheries is to my mind a conclusive proof that the present sum for sea policing is inadequate. I do not go into the question as to whether the money should be provided out of Scotch money or out of Imperial money, but the fact remains that you have admitted that a sum of at least £15,000 more is required for the purpose of sea policing and providing ships for the protection of the fisheries interest in Scotland. If that is so, are we not entitled to say that the sum proposed in the Vote is inadequate? We are entitled to show that the Vote is totally inadequate for the purposes for which it was intended. I am entitled to refer to that fact as giving evidence that you yourselves consider this Vote is too little. I venture to say that, so far as the purchase of vessels is concerned, no ground has been shown why the expenditure of last year should be curtailed. If we were to allow this Imperial Estimate to pass in a modified form, we would be immediately told at some future stage that no adequate amount has been granted by Parliament, and therefore it is necessary to find the money. We are in this position, that the policing and the officials are a matter of Imperial concern—a matter which ought to be provided for in the Imperial Estimates; a matter that has been provided for in the Imperial Estimates. The cost of new vessels this year is to be nearly £5,000 less than last year; and we are entitled to complain of the inadequacy of this reduced sum. We are entitled to complain that you are not allowing for the policing. The best evidence we can have that these sums are inadequate is the very fact that the Government are going to propose to increase this sum by £15,000 in some other way we know nothing about at the present moment. Therefore, as a protest against the inadequacy of this grant 881 from the Imperial funds, I move that the Vote, as the whole, be reduced by £100.
§ Original Question again proposed.
Motion made, and Question put—
That a sum not exceeding £20,429 be granted for the said service."—(Mr. Weir.)
§ Put and negatived.882
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 38; Noes 97.—(Division List No. 184.)881
|Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N.E.)||Dunn, Sir William||Randell, David|
|Allen, Wm. (Newc.-under-L.)||Ferguson, R. C. M. (Leith)||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Baker, Sir John||Foster, Sir W. (Derby Co.)||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarsh.)|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Billson, Alfred||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale-||Steadman, William Charles|
|Brigg, John||Jameson, Major J. Eustace||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Buchanan, Thos. Ryburn||Leese, Sir J. F. (Accrington)||Tully, Jasper|
|Cameron, Sir C. (Glasgow)||Macaleese, Daniel||Ure, Alexander|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||M'Ghee, Richard||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Clough, Walter Owen||McLeod, John||Wills, Sir William Henry|
|Crombie, John William||Norton, Captain Cecil Wm.|
|Daly, James||Pirie, Duncan V.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Doogan, P. C.||Power, Patrick Joseph||Mr. Caldwell and Mr. Weir.|
|Duckworth, James||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Renshaw, Charles Bine|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Gourley, Sir Edw. Temperley||Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlep'l)|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Graham, Henry Robert||Robertson, Herbt. (Hackney)|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Green, W. D. (Wednesbury)||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benj.||Gretton, John||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Beach. Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Brist'l)||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord G.||Rutherford, John|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Hamond, Sir C. (Newcastle)||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. M.|
|Bethell, Commander||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robt. W.||Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard|
|Bond, Edward||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Heaton, John Henniker||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Helder, Augustus||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)|
|Brookfield, A. Montagu||Hermon-Hodge, Robert T.||Smith, J. P. (Lanarksh.)|
|Cavendish, R. F (N. Lanes)||Howell, William Tudor||Smith, Hn. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Cavendish, V.C.W. (Derbysh.)||Hozier, Hon. Jas. H. Cecil||Stanley, Lord (Lanes)|
|Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Johnston, Wm. (Belfast)||Strauss, Arthur|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Johnstone, John H. (Sussex)||Strutt, Hon. Chas. Hedley|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Jolliffe. Hon. H. George||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Lawrence Sir E Durning-(Corn.)||Warde, Lt.-Col. C. E. (Kent)|
|Colomb, Sir J. C. R.||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks)||Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of W.)|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.|
|Dalbiac, Colonel Philip Hugh||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverp'l)||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Denny, Colonel||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Williams, J. Powell (Birm.)|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||McKillop, James||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Malcolm, Ian||Wodehouse, Edm. R. (Bath)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akera-||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C.B. Stuart-|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)||Wylie, Alexander|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Myers, William Henry||Young, Comm. (Berks, E.)|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Flower, Ernest||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk)||Priestley, Sir W. O. (Edin.)||Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.||Pryce-Jones, Edward|
|Goldsworthy, Major-General||Purvis, Robert|
§ the Vote, so far as the salary of the inspector of salmon fisheries is concerned. Altogether, the sum voted for fishery purposes in Scotland is utterly inadequate. I do think it nothing short of a waste of public money to vote the salary of any inspector of salmon fisheries. It is perfectly well known that 883 the inspector of salmon fisheries in Scotland is undoubtedly an official whose chief time is employed in looking after private interests. I do not say but there may be cases when public officials may do service of that kind; but in this particular case everyone knows that there is no more lucrative fishing than the salmon fishing. This money ought to be devoted to some better purpose. I know it is a very general feeling that the Scotch landlords are getting this money out of Parliament for the development and protection of their own property.
§ Original Question put and agreed to.
§ Vote of £3,241, to complete the sum for Registrar General's Office, Scotland.
§ Agreed to.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a sum not exceeding £7,698 be granted to Her Majesty to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1899, for the salaries and expenses of the Local Government Board for Scotland, and for expenses under the Public Health Acts, Infectious Diseases Notification Act, Vaccination Act, Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1889, Burgh Police (Scotland) Act, and Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1894.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
said there was one subject to which he desired to call the attention of the Committee, and of the Local Government Board. Among other duties, the latter was charged with the superintending of the accounts of the parish councils. No subject had been brought more frequently before his attention of late years than the system adopted since the passing of the Parish Councils Act. The Local Government Beard made a Report a year ago, and the particulars given in the Return fully justified the many complaints made by the local authorities throughout Scotland as to the expensiveness of the new system. With regard to the expense he would trouble the Committee with a few 884 figures. Under the old system of parochial boards the expense of auditing practically the same total sum— £1,225,000—was £3,000; and the expense under the new system was £8,800 —very nearly three times as much. If they looked into the details, they found that the auditors' fees under the old system amounted to £2,700; under the new, £5,500. In other items there was also a great disparity. The cost of advertising under the old system was £130; the cost under the new system was £2,432. This charge was borne, not by the public exchequer, but by the parish councils and the local authorities themselves, and it was the only charge of which they had made very considerable complaint. There was another feature of the Return to which it was worth while to direct attention. Besides the actual figures, there was also given the number of days during which the books belonging to the parish councils were away from the offices of the parish councils, and in the hands of the auditor at the auditor's office. The number of days during which they were away from the office varied very much in different localities. He would give one or two instances. In Aberdeenshire the audit was done in Aberdeen itself, and one parish had to do without its books for 40 days. But that was a mere nothing to the state of things in some of the remote counties, in which the average number of days during which the books were away from the headquarters of the parish councils was something like 60, 70, or even 80 days. In the parish of Craignish, in Argyleshire—which, after all, was not a remote parish—the books were away 113 days, or about three and a half months, at Glasgow or Greenock. In the cases of Dunoon and Inverary the books of the parish councils were absent from the offices for about two months each; in the case of Loch Boisdale, they were absent for a period of 101 days—that is to say, a period of over three months. But he thought the record was beaten in Berwickshire, in the parish of Fugle, a small parish in which the total expenditure was 885 only £112, which it cost £12 1s. 8d. to audit; and it took a period of 70 days to do it. There were two other parishes with which he was intimately acquainted, both in the county of Dumbarton. One was the parish of Luss, which was within 30 miles of Glasgow. It had an annual expenditure of £276, and to audit that it took £4 19s. 3d. in cost and 150 days, or five months, in time. His countrymen were blamed for litigiousness, but he thought that had almost beaten the record. The other was the parish of Roseneath, where the expenditure was £461, which it cost £8 2s. 11d. to audit, and it took a period of 140 days. Honourable Gentlemen would naturally expect that, as the result of these very extended periods for the audit under the new system, a large number of surcharges would have to be made; but so far as he had been able to judge from the Report of the Local Government Board that had not been the case. During the year in question there were interim Reports sent in by the auditors to the Local Government Board in only 27 cases out of nearly 900 parishes in Scotland, and in only one of these cases was a surcharge enforced by the Local Government Board. So it was quite clear that there must be something seriously defective in this system of auditing. He understood from the Lord Advocate that in the first year in which the Parish Councils Act came into operation the Local Government Board could not fairly be charged with the whole responsibility for the auditors' fees, and that it was only in the second year that they actually fixed the scale of charges. At any rate, now they must be responsible not only for the scale of charges, but also for the long delays that had taken place in the audit. The books had been open to the inspection of the ratepayers during a certain period, and it appeared from a Return as to the result, that although the books of the whole of the parish councils in Scotland were thrown open, 886 the number of ratepayers who cared to examine them was less than 100. In the whole county of Lanarkshire only one single individual wanted to look at the accounts of the parish council in that important county. He commended that fact to the attention of the honourable Member for Mid-Lanark. In his own county of Aberdeen, which included in its population a city of 300,000 inhabitants, only eight individuals cared to examine the books, and no fewer than six of these were in one single parish. What he wished to call the attention of the Lord Advocate to was the fact that they seriously needed a more thorough-going amendment of the system of audit. In the first place, it took place under undesirable conditions; and, in the next, it cost too much. In former days the accounts of local bodies were audited by bankers in the towns where they had their headquarters, but, now the books were sent away from the locality for long periods of time in order that the accounts might be audited by professional gentlemen in four or five big cities. He did not think that was a satisfactory arrangement. In England, as in Ireland, a number of district auditors were appointed by the Local Government Board to go round to the county towns, and the localities concerned there, to audit the accounts of the county councils and other local authorities. Their books were never withdrawn from them for long periods of time, but the whole business was done expeditiously. There was no reason, he ventured to say, why Scotland should be placed at a disadvantage, as compared with England and Ireland in that respect. There were items in the English and Irish Local Government Board Votes for the payment of salaries and travelling expenses where necessary of district auditors, and why, he asked, should they not have the same system in Scotland? They could not have an efficient audit unless they had a uniform, system directed by some central authority. They 887 had upset the old system, and, no doubt, so far taken a step towards improvement, but, having done that, they ought really to have a proper centralised system according to a uniform method, carried on from Edinburgh, and paid for out of the Imperial Exchequer. He did not think they would have a satisfactory system for the county councils until they made such an arrangement, and he would include in it parish councils and other local authorities in the boroughs and counties as well. They must establish an audit department in Edinburgh, or some other centre in Scotland, which should audit all the various accounts of the local authorities throughout the country upon a uniform system. They had already, as an honourable Friend reminded him, got an audit for the school boards in Scotland, and if they extended the system, as he had suggested, to all the local authorities, he believed the general feeling would be in favour of such a reform. He and other honourable Members had asked questions earlier in the Session as to whether the Government proposed to undertake some legislation on the subject, and the reply of the right honourable Gentleman was to the effect either that they had no time, or that the pressure of other duties was too great to allow them to do anything in this direction during the present Session. He did not think that on the whole the pressure of business had been quite so great as the right honourable Gentleman imagined it would be, and he would urge that there was strong and substantial evidence of an almost universal wish on the part of those who were interested in the improvement of local government in Scotland for a, better system of audit. There was no reason why they in Scotland should not have their accounts audited on a uniform system at the expense of the Imperial Exchequer in the same way as England and Ireland, and he hoped they would obtain an assurance 888 from the Lord Advocate that this year or next year, he would be able, on behalf of the Scotch Office, to undertake the legislation which was necessary for establishing a Local Government Board audit on a uniform and efficient system in Scotland.
§ MR. GRAHAM MURRAY
said he must remind his honourable Friend that the system of audit at present in force in Scotland was introduced by a Government of which the honourable Member was a supporter. As he understood the honourable Member's complaint now, it was really an indictment against the system for which the honourable Gentleman himself voted in 1894. He did not think the honourable Member meant to say that he would like to go back to the old system which existed before 1894, which it had been practically admitted amounted to something like no audit at all, for which the Committee which considered the matter in 1894 desired to substitute a real audit. The honourable Gentleman was rather pointing to the desirability of a general audit, and although, of course, he was not in a position to give any pledge on the matter, he could assure the honourable Member that the question of a general audit had been more and more forced on the attention of the Local Government Board, and was receiving their earnest consideration. He did not altogether agree in what the honourable Member had said against the expense of the present system, for he had looked into that matter closely himself, and he was satisfied that, although in some cases the expanse might be larger than it had been, they could not get full service for less money; but he quite agreed that Scotland had a fair claim to receive, equal treatment with England from the Imperial Treasury. He could not really do more at present than assure his honourable Friend that this question was one which was receiving the greatest attention, and that, so far as his informa- 889 tion went, the opinion of the authorities was rather in favour of some change in the direction of a system of central audit for the councils in Scotland.
thought it should be borne in mind that when the present auditors entered upon their duties they had to deal with the accounts on an entirely new system. With regard to what had been said as to the school board accounts, he was told that they were sent to Edinburgh and gone into in the same way as the parish council accounts. As to uniformity, the Local Government Board had prescribed a certain form of accounts, and, in his humble judgment, the present system was not one which should be readily departed from.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR
was understood to say that he thought the disposition expressed by the Lord Advocate would meet with approval if it came to action.
§ SIR C. CAMERON
I desire to point out that the total sum voted for public vaccination in Scotland is only £400 altogether. That, Sir, is an infinitesimal sum compared with the amount allowed for the same service in England. My object in mentioning the matter now is that there is a Bill before the House in connection with which it is proposed that a very considerable additional sum shall be voted for English vaccination. Having regard to the fact that Scotland receives the inadequate sum of £400, I should like to ask the right honourable Gentleman whether it is contemplated, as the Bill does not extend to Scotland, to confer upon Scotland the advantages about to be conferred by that Measure upon England in the shape of a more perfect and carefully selected supply of vaccine lymph; and whether we may take it this is the last year in which the total grant to Scotland for this very impor- 890 tant part of public health will be such a very limited sum as £400?
§ MR. GRAHAM MURRAY
I think the £400 is made up in this way. The medical officer having charge of the central institution for the supply of vaccine lymph has a salary of £200 a year, he is allowed £100 to provide an office, in addition to which he gets his actual expenses for collecting and distributing the vaccine. Hitherto, the estimated cost of vaccine lymph has been £100, but of course that has been a mere estimate. Under the provisions of the Bill to which the honourable Baronet refers, it is intended that Scotland shall be treated in the same way as to the supply of the new calf lymph as England. The new calf lymph would cost more than the old, and no doubt the estimate this year will prove inadequate in future years.
§ MR. GRAHAM MURRAY
I can only assure the honourable Baronet that there certainly is an intention that Scotland shall be treated as to the supply of lymph in the same manner as England. I suppose it was not thought necessary to alter the sum in the present estimates. If the cost for lymph increases there will have to be a supplementary estimate.
§ SIR C. CAMERON
I suppose that when the new law is passed for England the improvement will be simultaneously extended to Scotland?
§ MR. CALDWELL
I desire to point out to the Committee that, so far as the supply of lymph is concerned, the total amount received by Scotland is only £400, while for England the amount is upwards of £5,000. Again, there is only £200 given to Scotland for the medical grant. If, on the other hand, you refer to the English estimates, you will find that 891 for the corresponding period the sum granted to England is £16,000. The proper proportion for Scotland would be a seventh of the amount given to England; in other words, we should have, approximately speaking, £2,500 instead of £200. The desire for the fair and equal treatment of Scotland is quite reasonable, and we should not be doing our duty as representatives of Scotland if we did not draw the attention of the Lord Advocate to the unfairness of the treatment of Scotland in this matter. There are one or two other questions to which I desire to refer. One important matter is the desirability of the Local Government Board using every means in their power to see that the parish accounts for the year ending the 15th day of May, together with the rate due for that year, are collected within the year. If the accounts are good they should be made good; if they are bad they should be wiped off. Another point which I would venture to bring under the notice of the Lord Advocate is one which has not hitherto been very much before the Committee, and that is the matter of the church-door collections. I daresay the Lord Advocate is aware that the Local Government Board has powers in regard to the application of the money. Every church in Scotland is required to make a return as to the amount collected at the church door from year to year, and how much has been expended on the poor, and how much for other purposes. The Lord Advocate is aware that in Scotland the law is clear that, so far as the parish church is concerned, all the money collected at the church-door must go for the relief of the poor—not of the legal poor, but of those who, but for the receipt of a little money, might come upon the poor rates; and the Local Government Board has the power to prosecute the church which does not apply the money so authorised by law. I find that the amount of money collected at the church doors in Scotland amounts to £44,189, and the amount actually spent on the poor, is only £6,978. Now, it is 892 obvious that there has been a misapplication of money which ought to have been devoted to the poor, and I think the time has come when the Local Government Board should make some movement in the direction of seeing to the proper appropriation of this money. If we were to compare the church-door collections of the parish church, which is upheld by the community as a whole, with the collections made at Dissenting churches I think it would be found that the Church of Scotland is greatly inferior to other churches in giving voluntary contributions to the poor. I now come to the question of pauper children. I am very glad to see from the report that the system of boarding out the children is progressing. We find that in 1897 there were 5,862 pauper children on the roll, of whom 4,993 were boarded out, either with relatives or strangers, leaving only 869 who were really in the workhouse. I think the system of boarding out has worked very beneficially, and I am very glad to find that it is extending, and that the Local Government Board are giving their encouragement to the scheme. I notice—I do not know whether the Lord Advocate will give us the reason—that there has been an increase of pauperism during the past year of 1,501, consisting of 952 paupers and 549 dependents, and as regards the lunatic poor the number has increased from 120 per 1,000 of the poor on the roll in 1895 to 121 per 1,000 in 1896 and 123 per 1,000 in 1897. Perhaps the Lord Advocate will tell us whether by the greater provision now made for lunatics in Scotland persons are included in that class who otherwise are quite safe? I find that about a million of money was collected this last year by the different local authorities in Scotland and parish councils for parish purposes. Of this the rates contributed £816,662, while the Government grant, the equivalent grant and local grants in aid of taxation, amounted to £188,153, or about one-fourth of the total cost, an increase of £20,283 this year over last. It seems that since these 893 grants were given to these parish councils, the expenditure has largely and. abnormally increased. I think it is right that we should have these matters before us, because the increase of £20,000 shows that, whilst we are giving these grants in aid of local purposes, the fact is that they are thrown away, as can be shown, upon administration and increased expenses, which would not have been done but for these large grants. There is one point in connection, with administration I should like to know something about. It is stated that the Local Government Board have sanctioned an arrangement whereby the more respectable inmates are to be housed together. I think that is a new principle in connection with the administration of the poor law, for which, of course, the Local Government Board must be held responsible. Hitherto the principle acted upon has been that all the inmates are entitled to equal treatment, and I should like to know to what extent the Local Government Board intend to go with regard to the classification of the poor. Then I should also like to know whether any arrangement could be made whereby married couples can live together in the poor-house. Many married couples refuse to go into the workhouse, and the consequence is that the board have to supply nurses outside the house, necessitating larger expenditure than would be incurred if they went into the workhouse. I find that during the year there has been a considerable number of applications where relief was refused, I think there are 309; and perhaps what is even more important is the fact that the poor-house was offered to no fewer than about 6,000 persons, who refused it. I am afraid there is a tendency on the part of some parishes— not all—to get rid of applications for relief by saying, "We offer you the poor-house." The offer of the workhouse is held to be satisfactory relief, and thereby the Local Government Board gets rid of its obligation. I think the Board should have a little more inquiry regarding the reasons for these refusals, and 894 for the offers. It is hardly fair to get rid of applications in the way I have mentioned, because, after all, there may be genuine cases which are not properly met by the offer of the poor-house. I notice that it has been proposed that parish ministers shall act as inspectors of the poor. I should like to ask the Lord Advocate whether any parish minister has been appointed to the office. I should have thought that, so far as the parish minister is concerned, the work was altogether out of his province, and that the nature of his office would preclude the parish minister from accepting an appointment as inspector of the poor. Then the Lord Advocate will perhaps know—probably he has been consulted on the matter—that there is felt to be a want of power as regards by-laws in the case of recreation grounds. Parish councils are empowered to acquire recreation grounds in connection with their respective parishes, but, unfortunately, they have no power to make by-laws. The matter has been brought under the notice of the Local Government Board, but they do not say definitely that there is no power; they advise the parish council to frame by-laws, and then get them put into force. I think that is very unsatisfactory, and one would hardly think that the Local Government Board would put parish councils in that position. If the Lord Advocate finds that the parish councils have no legal power to make these by-laws, will he see that such power is given by legislation?
§ MR. GRAHAM MURRAY
said he must remind the honourable Member that the powers of the Local Government Board were limited, in the sense that they had not the power to force the local bodies to put into operation the provisions of the Rivers Pollution Act. They could only call upon them to provide a water supply, and the most effective and the easiest way of providing a water supply was to dig wells, which they had refused to do. In view of the report of the 895 county medical officer, he did not see that the Local Government Board could be expected to do more than they had done. His attention had been called to the disparity between the amounts of the Vote for the Medical Department in England and Scotland. It was perfectly true that the total Vote under that head was much greater than the sum in Scotland, but the two Local Government Boards had hardly identical functions. There was a large medical department in the English Board, which was largely employed in experimenting of an Imperial character, and the advantage of those experiments was enjoyed by the whole kingdom, and repaid the cost expended on them. In the Scotch Local Government Board similar work was not engaged in, and could not be thought, therefore, to have such an expensive staff. The point of comparison, therefore, upon the equivalent grant principle was almost reduced to an absurdity. With regard to the question of the poor-house, that was a matter primarily for the local authorities, and the central board did not interfere, unless the local body went wrong. If they spent too much money in rich dietary the remedy was to call the particular local body to account, and elect other members who would starve the recipients of relief to a similar degree.
§ MR. GRAHAM MURRAY
said it was not his place to interfere with the police. The honourable Member had said something as to the offer of the poor-house being refused. That was one of the obligations of the Scotch system. The poor-house, properly offered, was one of the great features of the poor law system of Scotland. He could not answer the question as to the effect of a parochial minister being elected a member of the inspectors of the poor, but he agreed that a parochial minister was not a proper recipient for the post, as, in his opinion, they had plenty of other work to do.
§ MR. CALDWELL
said he must complain that Scotland was getting less than she ought if the Vote as a whole was taken into consideration. She was entitled to one-seventh, and she was getting half one-seventh, and, taking it as a whole, Scotland should get double what she was getting as compared with the amount voted to England. Under the circumstances, and with a view to emphasising the fact, he moved that the Vote be reduced by £100.
Motion made, and Question put—
That the Vote be reduced by £100.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 42; Noes 107.—(Division List No. 185.)897
|Allen, Wm. (Newc.-under-L.)||Channing, Francis Allston||Goddard, Daniel Ford|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Clough, Walter Owen||Haldane, Richard Burdon|
|Baker, Sir John||Crombie, John William||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seala-|
|Billson, Alfred||Daly, James||Hedderwick, Thomas C. H.|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Donelan, Captain A.||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)|
|Brigg, John||Doogan, P. C.||Kilbride, Denis|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Dunn, Sir William||Macaleese, Daniel|
|Cameron, Robert (Durham)||Ferguson, R. C. M. (Leith)||McEwan, William|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Foster, Sir W. (Derby Co.)||M'Ghee, Richard|
|McLeod, John||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarsh.)||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Norton, Captain Cecil Wm.||Smith, Samuel (Flint)||Weir, James Galloway|
|Pearson, Sir Weetman D.||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Pease, J. A. (Northumberland)||Tully, Jasper|
|Power, Patrick Joseph||Ure, Alexander||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Provand, Andrew Dryburgh||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)||Mr. Caldwell and Mr. Pirie.|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis||Gilliat, John Saunders||Priestley, Sir W. O. (Edin.)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.||Pryce-Jones, Edward|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r)||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Purvis, Robert|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Renshaw, Charles Bine|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Graham, Henry Robert||Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlep'l)|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Green, W. D. (Wednesbury)||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W.|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H.(Brist'l)||Greene, W. Raymond- (Cambs)||Ritchie; Rt. Hon. C. T.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Gretton, John||Robertson, Herbt. (Hackney)|
|Bethell, Commander||Greville, Captain||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Bigwood, James||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord G.||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Bill, Charles||Hamond, Sir C. (Newcastle)||Rutherford, John|
|Bond, Edward||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. R. W.||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Brassey, Albert||Hanson, Sir Reginald||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Seton-Karr, Henry|
|Brookfield, A. Montagu||Hermon-Hodge, Robert T||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs)||Howell, William Tudor||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Cavendish, V.C.W. (Derbysh.)||Hozier, Hon. J. H. C.||Smith, J. P. (Lanarkshire)|
|Chaloner, Capt. R. G. W.||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Stanley, Lord (Lanes)|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Strauss, Arthur|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Johnstone, John H. (Sussex)||Strutt, Hon. Chas. Hedley|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Jolliffe, Hori. H. George||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Colomb, Sir John C. Ready||Kemp, George||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Compton, Lord Alwyne||Lawrence Sir EDurning-(Corn.)||Warde, Lt.-Col. C. E. (Kent)|
|Cotton-Jodrell, Col. E. T. D.||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks)||Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of W.)|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.|
|Dalbiac, Colonel Philip Hugh||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Long, Col. C. W. (Evesham)||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset)|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverp'l)||Williams, J. Powell (Birm.)|
|Digby, J. K. D. Wiagfield||Malcolm, Ian||Wodehouse, Edm. R. (Bath)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Maxwell, Rt. Hon. Sir H. E.||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-|
|Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.||Morgan, Hn. F. (Monm'thsh.)||Wylie, Alexander|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Young, Comm. (Berks, E.)|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Myers, William Henry||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Flower, Ernest||Nicholson, William Graham||Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Garfit, William||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
Original Question put and agreed to.
§ Upon the Vote of £62,046 to complete the sum for law charges and courts of law (Scotland),
§ MR. WEIR
said that the salary of the Lord Advocate was £5,000 a year, and that the salary was to cover all the business he did. He had no objection to the Lord Advocate drawing his salary, but he found that other sums were paid to that gentleman in connection with 898 law matters carried to the House of Lords. He seemed to have received some £110 above his salary as a sort of commission. That was not the way in which a Government salary ought to be paid, although it might be a very proper method of dealing with a commercial traveller or a canvasser.
§ MR. GRAHAM MURRAY
stated that the salary of the Lord Advocate had been fixed by a Treasury Minute of the last Government, and the salary 899 was to cover all legal and criminal transactions in which, the Government were either plaintiffs, defendants, or prosecutors. If he attended the House of Lords and advised them upon such matters as they desired his advice, it was not a matter in which the Government were either plaintiffs, defendants, or prosecutions, and, consequently, such business as that did not fall within the Treasury Minute. He did not quite understand what the honourable Gentleman meant by "commission"; all he was paid for was actual work done.
§ MR. CALDWELL
I do not know why there should be a sum of £800 a year given for the preparation of Scottish Bills. It is a fixed sum of £800 a year. We all know that the number of Scottish Bills is very few indeed—I mean the Scottish Measures introduced by the Government—and I do not see why this special fixed sum should be provided for their preparation. I should imagine that matters could very easily be adjusted between the law officers and the Treasury, and I think, when the Lord Advocate is in receipt of a salary of £5,000 a year, it should cover all the duties he discharges as a Minister of the Crown. I wish to call attention to the position of the procurator fiscal of Dumbarton. It appears from a footnote to this Estimate that this gentleman holds several other offices in addition to that of procurator fiscal. It has always been a contention on this side that a procurator fiscal, who represents the Crown, should devote himself entirely to the duties of his office, and should not engage in private practice. We should be glad to hear from the Lord Advocate that he intends as far as possible to adhere to that rule in the future.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR
May I draw the attention of the right honourable Gentleman the Lord Advocate to an important point which has been raised not only during his tenure of office, but also in the time of the late Lord Advocate, namely, the striking discrepancies 900 between the salaries paid to legal officials in Scotland as compared with those in England and Ireland? It must be admitted at once that those discrepancies must have a considerable effect on the administration of justice. If the salaries are not sufficiently large to command the services of the best men, clearly the profession must suffer and the interests of justice be imperilled. I do not wish to delay this Vote by enlarging upon this matter, but I would especially mention the case of the sheriff substitutes. I hope to have from the Lord Advocate an assurance that the Government will very carefully consider the representations that have been made to them in regard to the salaries of sheriff substitutes and other legal officials.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
asked for some explanation of the various amounts paid to procurators fiscal, especially under sub-head (r).
MR. BRYOE (Aberdeen, S.)
I just, in one word, desire to support my honourable Friend the Member for Forfar in calling the attention of the right honourable Gentleman to the very great discrepancies between the salaries paid for similar legal work in Scotland and in England. I trust that this matter will he considered by the right honourable Gentleman, and I would specially urge upon him the claims of the sheriff substitutes.
§ MR. PARKER SMITH (Lanark, Partick)
I also would join in that appeal, and I should like to ask the Lord Advocate whether a memorial on this subject has been before him, and whether he is able to make any recommendation to the Treasury in the matter. I think this is really a very pressing question, and I trust the right honourable Gentleman will be able to give us a satisfactory reply.
§ MR. GRAHAM MURRAY
With regard to the position of the procurator fiscal 901 of Dumbarton, the honourable Member for Mid Lanark has referred to the Vote attached to the Estimate, from which it appears that this gentleman gets certain additional allowances in respect of his position as clerk to the Commissioners of Income Tax and the office of commissary clerk. The subject of the salaries of these procurators fiscal is one that it is by no means easy to deal with. Regard must be had to the circumstances of each particular official; you must consider the terms under which he accepted office, and the extent and character of the district in which he serves. I am glad to be able to assure the honourable Gentleman that communications are passing between myself and the Treasury with a view to seeing whether we cannot to a large extent alter the present system so as to have larger districts—by amalgamating, in certain cases, two districts into one—and increasing the salary attached to the office. With regard to the remarks of the honourable Member for Forfar, I can assure him that I am in entire sympathy with the sheriff substitutes. The memorial referred to by the honourable Member for Partick has been formally submitted to the Treasury, and my honourable Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury and myself are in conference on the subject, and I shall do my best to persuade the Treasury to give effect to at least some of the suggestions which have been made.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On the Vote of £28,951, to complete the sum for Register House, Edinburgh,
§ MR. CALDWELL
I think we have a right to call on the Lord Advocate for some justification of this Vote. The right honourable Gentleman must know that the fees charged to parties registering deeds are not only made to cover every penny of this Vote, but about £10,000 more; and I mean to say that this is a very unfair arrangement by which the parties who have to record deeds are 902 saddled with an expense which really ought to be an Imperial expense. I trust the right honourable Gentleman will be able to give us an assurance that some rearrangement of fees will be arrived at by which the parties may be relieved of an intolerable burden.
§ MR. GRAHAM MURRAY
The honourable Gentleman must be aware that a very important commission has recently inquired into the administration of the General Register House. They have made a very practical recommendation, which, if practicable, would tend to a considerable reduction of the fees, namely, that the process of zinco-photography should be employed for the reproduction of deeds, and arrangements are being made by which that process will be introduced. Of course, it is too early to say whether that will have a practical effect in the diminution of expenditure, but in the event of the experiment being successful I think there will be a fair opportunity of considering the whole question of the expenditure and fees connected with this establishment, because there can be no question that Departments of this character ought not to be more than self-supporting.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress.
§ Eouss resumed.