§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Solicitor General for Scotland.)
(11.28.) MR. CALEDWELL (Lanarkshire, Mid.)
I am surprised that the Government should have introduced this Bill for Second Reading without any explanation. So far as the Bill is concerned it deals with a matter to which I hate no objection. It provides that—Between the fifteenth clay of October in any year and the twenty-eighth day of February in the year following, both inclusive, there shall be an annual close time for trout in Scotland, during which it shall not be lawful, except as herein-after specified, for any person to—So far the Bill may be said to be a measure for the purpose of establishing a close time for trout in Scotland, which I believe is a very good provision. But here is a proviso which states that—
And any person who shall so fish for or take or possess or expose for sale such trout at any time within the said dates shall forfeit and pay a sum not exceeding five pounds for every such offence.
- (a) fish for or take common trout (salmo fario) in any river, water, or loch in Scotland, by net, rod, line or otherwise; or
- (b) have possession of common trout; or
- (c) expose common trout for sale:In the case of any stew or artificial pond, or other water where trout are kept in captivity or artificially reared and fed, no owner, occupier, or lessee of any such stew, artificial pond, or other water, nor any person employed by such owner, occupier, or lessee, nor any person to whom such trout may be consigned for sale or otherwise by such owner, occupier, or lessee, or by any person employed by him, shall be liable to any penalty under this Act in respect of any trout obtained for the purposes of, or kept in, or sent from, such stew, artificial pond or other water.It does seem to me that that is establishing a new principle. In the case for instance of wild birds we established a close time which applies to all the birds of a particular species. In this Bill, however, while you impose a penalty on any person, who during the 303 close time takes trout from any river, water, or loch in Scotland, persons who have artificial ponds may go into the open market and sell trout. How is anyone to know when a trout comes into the open market, whether it was or was not bred in an artificial pond? That is an artificial reservation, which I think is contrary to the intention of the Bill. The object of providing a close time is that animals may be protected during that time wherever they may be. Therefore the Solicitor General should say that he is prepared to make it illegal for anyone to expose trout for sale during the close time. I am perfectly with him as regards the principle of the Bill, but I object altogether to the reservation which is in the interests of one class of the community, namely, those who have artificial ponds, and who may utilise these ponds to sell fish during the close season, and thereby defeat the very object in view. The clause imposing penalties for destroying fish by dynamite is a very proper clause, and I think there will be no objection to it. If the Solicitor General can say that the Government will make a close time without any reservation then I for one, will not object to the Second Reading.
§ * MR. SHAW STEWART (Renfrew-shire, E.)
As one of the backers of this Bill when it was promoted by the right hon. Member for Wigtonshire, I snould like to say a few words in support of this measure. It is a Bill demanded not only by gentlemen who can afford to take fishings of their own, but by large classses of working men who are quite as much interested in sport as anyone. Angling, especially in Scotland, is a sport greatly affected by the working man, and it is because of the increasing difficulty for anybody, be he a working man or a millionare, to find trout in any size or in any number that the Bill has been brought in. Hitherto there has been no close time for trout, and it is obvious to anyone, whether he be conversant or not with angling, that if trout are allowed to be taken out of the water during the spawning season their number must diminish. I should like to say a word or two in reply to the hon. Member opposite 304 as to the clause which refers to trout in artificial ponds. Of course, the trout are kept for breeding purposes, and it is for the protection of those engaged in breeding trout that this proviso has been inserted. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that there is no ulterior purpose. The clause is simply for the protection of those engaged in the laudable object of increasing the number of trout, and I do hope, speaking, as I can confidently assert I am, for a large number of working men throughout Scotland that the House will pass this Bill.
*(11.38.) THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR SCOTLAND (Mr. SCOTT DICK-SON, Glasgow, Bridgton)
I am quite sure that this Bill represents the views of all those in Scotland who are interested in the sport of angling. The proviso which, I understand, is the only ground on which the hon. Member opposite objects to the Bill is one which ought, I submit, not to have any effect with the House, so far as the Second Reading is concerned. The question of a close time is one which excites a great deal of interest in Scotland, and the Government are most anxious to meet the wishes of those who desire to protect and promote trout fishing. I am quite convinced if the House sees its way to pass the Second Reading, that they will pass a measure which will meet with universal acceptance amongst all true anglers in Scotland. With reference to the second clause, to which the hon. Member has referred, the necessity for that clause has been brought about by a recent decision in the courts in Scotland. The law as to the use of dynamite in Scotland, so far as fishing is concerned, is found to be different from the law in England, and the clause is really to bring the law in Scotland on this matter into the same position as the law in England, in order that there should be no improper interference with, or destruction of fish by the use of dynamite or other explosives, contrary to the interests of true sport. The hon. Member did not raise any objection to that clause, and I 305 trust the House, in the interests of sport, and in the interests of the proper protection of fishing in Scotland, will allow the measure to get a Second Reading.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
Hon. Members are right in their belief that there is no country where fly fishing is more enjoyed by all classes of the people than in Scotland; and I believe, therefore, that this Bill will be generally acceptable, and that it will be felt to go a good way towards restoring to the lochs and streams of Scotland, what they have suffered in past times from improper fishing. I think the Bill deserves to pass, and I hope it will pass. The dynamite clause is eminently needed, and will be eminently useful. Everyone who enjoys angling must feel detestation at a barbarous practice, and one which produces such little result. As regards the objection of my hon. friend, I have no doubt that if he can show that the clause goes too far, the Solicitor General will be prepared to meet him.
§ MR. ALEXANDER CROSS (Glasgow, Camlachie)
I desire to express the hope that this Bill will be allowed to pass its Second Reading tonight. As representing a constituency of working men in Glasgow, I have had several communications expressing the hope that this Bill will be passed into law. I wish, however, to draw attention to the clause alluded to by the hon. Gentleman opposite. I am of opinion that the hon. Gentleman has laid his finger on a blot in this Bill. It will be quite possible for persons in improper possession of trout in the close season to plead in their defence the clause referred to, and I hope the Solic tor General will make it perfectly plain that these ponds which are to be excluded are ponds exclusively for breeding purposes.
§ (11.45.) MR. DALZIEL (Kirkcaldy Burghs)
I agree there is undoubtedly a pretty fair amount of feeling in Scotland in favour of this Bill. It is 306 really the Bill brought forward years ago by the hon. Member for Wigtonshire. It is, however, a mistake to suppose that opinion amongst anglers is absolutely unanimous in favour of it. It is nothing of the kind. There is a unanimous desire that something should be done to get a close time for trout, but this Bill divides anglers into two classes, one of which the owners of estates can by spending a few pounds, at any point of the river make an artificial pond, and he cannot be prosecuted for fishing or selling trout during the close season. What does "other water" mean? It means that at any portion of the river the landlord is exempt, but that the poor man who cannot afford to pay for his fishing is liable to be punished and prosecuted. Under the Bill as it stands, "artificially reared" does not necessarily mean "kept in captivity." If you artificially rear fish in any portion of the river the proprietor of the river is exempt from the provisions of the Bill.
MR. SCOTT DICKSON
I can only say that that is not the intention of the Bill That, however, is a matter which can be made perfectly clear in Committee.
§ Mr. DALZIEL
That is exactly the point I wished to get. It must not be imagined that because we assent to the Second Reading of the Bill that anybody who has anything to say in Committee is an opponent of the measure. I have received at least half-a-dozen representations in reference to the particular clause to which I have referred, and unless the hon. Gentleman shows some disposition to alter the Bill when we reach Committee I shall certainly vote against the Third Reading. I hope now, however, that the Second Reading of the Bill may be allowed to be taken.
§ (11.50.) MR. O'MARA (Kilkenny, S.)
Hon. Members opposite seem somewhat surprised that I should speak on a 307 Scotch Fisheries Bill. I have only two excuses to offer. One is that my besetting sin is fishing, and the other is that on an important Bill dealing with such an imperial question, it behoves even Irish Members to take part in the debate. An hon. Member of the other side said the Bill was for the benefit both of the working man and of the millionaire. It certainly is for the benefit of the owners of rivers who can afford to take a few months fishing, but the working man who has to take his holiday when he can get it would like to have the fishing available all the year round. It cannot be said, therefore, that the same benefit accrues to both classes. Still, as a fisherman, I am of opinion that a close-time for trout is essential to good sport. I feel that Scotland has for many years been at a disadvantage as compared with England or Ireland in that respect. I do not know when the law introducing a close-time in Ireland was passed, but it has been in existence for a number of years, and that the close-time has immensely improved trout fishing is common knowledge. While they are waiting for this Bill, I would recommend any ardent fisherman to go to the West of Ireland for their fishing; there is excellent sport to be found there. The hon. Member for Mid. Lanark has pointed out a defect in the Bill, in regard to which I should like an assurance from the hon. Gentleman that an Amendment will be made in Committee. Then, too, I think the Bill should apply to all the rivers in Scotland. Why is the Esk excepted from the Bill? I am glad everybody agrees that the use of dynamite to catch fish is an unsportsmanlike proceeding, and with these few remarks I will resume my seat.
§ MR. CALDWELL
suggested that the Bill should be sent to the Grand Committee on Law. All such Bills had previously been sent to that Committee' and he would move that a similar course be taken now.
* MR. SCOTT DICKSON
pointed out that Bills relating to fishing were included in the reference to the Standing Committee on Trade, and the Motion was therefore in accordance with the letter of the Standing Order.
§ MR. O'MARA
thought the Standing Order should be suspended, in order to allow the Bill to go to the Grand Committee on Law. It had nothing whatever to do with trade.
§ Bill committed to the Standing Committee on Trade, &c.
§ Local Government (Scotland) Amendment (No. 2) Bill.—Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ Debate arising.
§ Debate adjourned till Thursday.
§ Adjourned at five minutes after Twelve o'clock.