§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £10,633, be granted to His 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, 1906, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of His Majesty's Secretary for Scotland and Subordinate Office, Expenses under the Inebriates Acts, 1879 to 1900, and Expenses under The Private Legislation Procedure (Scotland) Act, 1899, including a Grant in Aid of the Congested Districts (Scotland) Fund."
§ MR. WEIR (Ross and Cromarty)
moved a reduction of the amount by £100. First he desired to enter his protest against the absence from that House of the Secretary for Scotland. In the Lord-Advocate they had a very courteous representative of the Scottish Office, but in this matter Ireland was far better off than Scotland, for it had three representatives on the Front Bench as against one for Scotland. He held that the Government should arrange matters so that the Secretary for Scotland should be a Member of the House of Commons, and he therefore desired on that occasion to protest against the appointment as Secretary for Scotland of a Member of 1364 the other House whose knowledge and experience were not sufficient for the vigorous discharge of the duties of the office.
He desired to draw attention to the failure to deal with the Report of a local Committee appointed on the 15th December, 1902, to inquire into the recommendations contained in the Report of the Crofters Commission on the social condition of the Island of Lewis. Although that Committee reported eighteen months ago on the subjects of Fisheries, Education, Land, and Public Health, nothing had been done, notwithstanding the fact that the means at the disposal of the Department were ample to make an effective beginning. The line fishermen of Lewis asked the late Secretary for Scotland to receive a deputation to lay their grievances before him, but he declined to receive them. They had no Dukes behind them. When the Duke of Sutherland and the Duke of Portland, or their factors, appealed to the late Secretary for Scotland on behalf of the fishermen of Sutherland and Caithness the Mansfield Commission was appointed, and the Report of that Commission had recently been issued. He hoped that the present Secretary for Scotland would do something for the poor fishermen in the Island of Lewis, and would not resort to the delays that the late Secretary for Scotland had practised. It was not right that the most congested part of the Highlands of Scotland should be so treated. The poverty, starvation, and misery which existed in the island could be averted if the Secretary for Scotland would arouse himself and do something for these fishermen and the crofters and cottars. He hoped the Secretary for Scotland would not adopt the late Secretary for Scotland's policy of the "eternal shunt."
He complained of the conversion of 40,000 acres of sheep-farming land into deer forests in the Lochbroom district of Ross-shire without any effort being made by the Government to secure any portion o the land for the benefit of the people. Look at the state of the fishing industry in the Island of Lewis. Official returns showed that whereas during the four years between 1889–1893 1365 526,545 cwts. of fish were landed in the island, the quantity landed between 1900 and 1904 had fallen to 283, 141 cwts., a fall of just half in the short space of sixteen years. The year 1889 was the first year in which a record was kept, but it was seated by the fishermen that the catches were still larger in the years prior to 1889. That meant starvation and misery, which could be avoided if the Scottish Office would arouse itself. The figures were simply appalling, and the Lewis fishermen were naturally disappointed at the failure of the authorities to come to their assistance. They were a most honest and deserving set of men: and he sincerely hoped the Secretary for Scotland would look into their case. In regard to education he had to complain, that very little had been done.
Now with regard to land. There was plenty of land in Ross-shire which could have been secured for the people if the late Secretary for Scotland had infused some energy into the Congested District Board. In support of this statement the hon. Member read a letter which he had received from one of his constituents some time ago saying that in the district of Lochbroom alone 40,000 acres of land had, in the short space of four years, been converted from sheep farms into deer forests, with the result that fewer hands were now employed. If the late Secretary for Scotland had been watchful he would probably have been able to secure some of that land for the benefit of the people. His correspondent further stated that there was now very little trade in the place, and that unless something was done to bring about an improvement the state of matters must assume a serious aspect. The only provision for new crofts in Ross-shire was the breaking up of the small farm of Aignish Lewis into thirty-two crofts.
The Secretary for Scotland was head of the Local Government Board in Scotland, and in that connection he must complain of the noble Lord's neglect to secure better sanitary conditions in the Highlands, and especially in the Island of Lewis. There were 4,000 crofters' and cottars' houses in the Island, and in the greater number of them the apartments where the people lived were only divided by 1366 a handrail from the places where the cattle were kept, the one door being the only means of access for both human beings and cattle. Hon. Members representing constituencies in the Lowlands laughed at this state of things, but they had really no idea of the insanitary conditions under which the people lived in the Hebrides. The islanders required education in regard to matters of sanitation, and a medical officer or sanitary inspector should be sent to explain to them the importance of giving better attention to questions of health in relation to their mode of living. The present state of things should not be allowed to go on. There was one small hospital at Stornoway, but for forty-five miles in one direction, and thirty miles in another, there was no further accommodation for the sick poor.
§ MR. WEIR
said the Vote for the salary of the Secretary for Scotland was now before the Committee, and he was complaining of that Minister not doing his duty, in so far as he neglected to see that others for whom he was responsible did their duty. He hoped this matter of insanitary dwellings would be attended to.
Referring to the question of foreign trawlers in the Moray Firth, the hon. Member said the Secretary for Scotland, who was chief of the Fishery Board for Scotland, had not taken the steps which might have been expected in order to protect the interests of the line fishermen. He should urge the Foreign Office to approach the signatories to the North Sea Fisheries Convention with the view to secure an understanding in regard to the closing of areas such as the Moray Firth. The Firth was closed against British trawlers but Grimsby trawlers registered under the Norwegian flag, and thus carried on their operations in the Moray Firth to the detriment of the line fishermen. If these trawlers could not be cleared out of the Moray Firth, a by-law should be made which would have the effect 1367 of preventing the fish so caught being sold in British ports. He had frequently called attention to this grievance, and yet years went by and nothing was done. He wished also to direct attention to the need for better transit facilities in the remote parts of the Highlands. He had for several years suggested that motor-cars might be provided in the remote districts for the purpose of bringing produce to the market. He hoped the Secretary for Scotland would now give the question his serious consideration, especially as the adoption of motorcars for such purposes was strongly recommended by the Mansfield Commission. So long as the Secretary for Scotland was not in that House the state of matters could not be satisfactory; he should be there so that they might speak to him face to face. Before sitting down he desired to state that the Lewis Committee had reported that Port Ness Harbour was extremely unsatisfactory and that no more money should be spent on it. He was informed that Messrs. Stevenson, Edinburgh, were the engineers of that harbour, and they were still the engineers to the Scottish Office. The £15,000 spent on Port Ness Harbour was so much money thrown away. It was expended in 1891–2, on the eve of an election, with the view of catching votes for the Unionist candidate. Years ago he brought to the notice of the Scottish Office that the harbour would be of no use unless the silted sand was removed. He moved to reduce the salary of the Secretary for Scotland by £100.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £10,533, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Weir.)
§ MR. JOHN DEWAR (Inverness)
said he thought that the condition of the House indicated that Scotland was a well-governed country. But still he had one or two grievances to bring before the Committee in reference to the action of the Congested Districts Board of Scotland. He agreed with his hon. friend that they ought to have the Secretary for Scotland in that House; but, failing that, he did not think they could have a better official representative of Scottish 1368 administration than the Lord-Advocate. The condition of the West Highlands was extremely interesting in every respect, the people were intellectually and physically a fine people; and were worth preserving. Through no fault of their own, the population there had been reduced to a state of abject poverty. In fact, there was much greater poverty in the western parts of Inverness-shire than in any part of Ireland, and a great deal less was being done to meet that chronic poverty than was being done in Ireland. He did not agree with his hon. friend in his wholesale condemnation of the Scottish Congested Districts Board.
§ MR. JOHN DEWAR
said he could not agree that the Congested Districts Board deserved the same condemnation as in previous years; because he recognised that there had been of late a distinct improvement in their methods and operations, and that the Board was apparently waking up to the importance of the duty which they had to discharge. He noticed that they had purchased at a fair price a large tract of land for crofter settlements. That was an experiment which ought to have a fair chance. But he wanted to direct the attention of the Committee to the fact that this was a change of policy and would have fair results. Hitherto allotments for crofters had been obtained under the Crofters Act, and these holdings were held under a landlord. But now, with this large purchase of land, they were proceeding to set up a class of peasant proprietors. He, approved of that; but he foresaw that it would lead to very important results. It was not in human nature for a tenant, who was paying a very much larger annual rent for his holding than the tenant on an adjoining property who would get his freehold in a certain number of years under the land purchase system, to be contented. That was shown in Ireland in the case of the tenants on the Dillon Estate, and those on the De Freyne Estate. The Government must keep in view that, having begun this system of land purchase, they 1369 could not stop there. Personally, he did not wish to see the landlords of Scotland expropriated. Whatever might be the case in Ireland, he believed that it would be a great misfortune if the Scotch landlords were expropriated. They were, as a rule, very excellent landlords, and were on excellent terms with their tenants. He did not know if it would be good that the tenants under the Crofters Act should be made what were called peasant proprietors. There was much to be said on both sides. One very noticeable feature of the Report of the Congested Districts Board was the apparent willingness of the landlords to get tenants on their properties. Many proprietors had applied to the Congested Districts Board to aid them in getting crofters to settle on their estates. That was, he was glad to say, an encouraging feature. The income from deer forests was not altogether a reliable income, the best results were got from a fair mixture of all kinds of tenants, and he believed that the landlords themselves would largely improve the value of their estates by a judicious settlement of crofters.
Another feature of interest in the Report was the encouragement of technical education in the Highlands. He thought the scheme was an excellent one, and that the Board had done extremely well in regard to it. The life of a crofter's son was something like this: he remained at school till he was fourteen or fifteen years of age, when he went to assist another croft till he was eighteen or so, and then proceeded to the mainland as a labourer with a labourer's pay, and came back ultimately it may be to his home. What the Congested Districts Board had done was to put themselves in communication with the employers of labour on the mainland and had arranged to send a certain number of boys to learn a trade, and to pay the difference between the pay of an apprentice and the cost of living on the mainland during the term of apprenticeship. The result would be that these boys would be in the position of trained tradesmen instead of labourers and would be able to earn a good wage, wherever their lot was cast. Then, although the population of the Western Hebrides was almost entirely a fishing population, there had scarcely been a single application for 1370 entry into the Royal Navy. He could only explain that by the fact that there was, rightly or wrongly, a very strong prejudice amongst them against the Navy. The Congested Districts Board might help in removing that prejudice, and so secure a large supply of first-rate material for the Royal Navy.
There was one part of the Report of the Congested Districts Board of which he did not approve. He had drawn attention to the deplorable poverty, destitution, and congestion which existed in Long Island and in South Uist over and over again, to relieve which the Board had done absolutely nothing. The people were anxious to get land and were able and willing to work it; and he believed that there was land which might be available for them. He had been very much interested in the recent Report of the Mansfield Commission, and particularly in that part of it which pointed out the advantages of a fishermen having a croft. He believed that the proprietors were not unwilling that the fishermen should have crofts. He had specially to complain that the Congested Districts Board had not done more to develop the fishing industry. Nothing had been done in regard to South Uist and the Long Island generally. No doubt money was needed; but what was more needed was, the organisation of the industry, and an effort made to get the produce of the fishery to market. To show the inefficient management of the Congested Districts Board, last year there was considerable mackerel fishing in the Western Hebrides; and the Congested Districts Board were asked to provide nets; some were sent, but it turned out that they were not suitable nets for the district at all, and he knew of one island where thirty-six nets only caught thirty mackerel. The Board had not tackled the matter in a business-like way. They should have a report from a competent man as in the case of the Irish Board. Again, in connection with the herring fishery, the fishermen had great difficulty in disposing of their produce. The Irish Congested Districts Board provided curing stations, which resulted in an enormous saving. As an instance of the necessity for this in the Western Hebrides, 1371 one man informed him that he carried £40 worth of herrings to one market, and then had to take them to another and sell them for £6. If the Congested Districts Board had a curing station where the herrings were first offered the herring income would have kept the fisherman's family for six months. There was also great difficulty in getting lobsters to market. He had heard of one man who sent £10 worth of lobsters to London; they were delayed by the bad steamer connection; and when they arrived they were not worth anything at all. If the Congested Districts Board exercised a little interest in the steamer service a very great deal might be done to improve the condition of the people. But apparently no effort was being made to deal with the fisheries at all. He did not think that there would be complete efficiency until the composition of the Board was changed. It was composed of excellent members; but, unlike the Irish Board which met about once a month, it rarely met at all. The secretary only devoted half his time to the business of the Board and was employed at the Exchequer office. The Board itself did not appear to look for any opportunity to help the people until Members of Parliament and others drew attention to their grievances. He was very strongly of opinion that the Congested Districts Board should be amalgamated with the Crofter Commission—an arrangement which would involve less expense and promote efficiency.
§ * MR. CATHCART WASON (Orkney and Shetland)
said that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Inverness had given a very valuable contribution to the discussion, especially with regard to the Congested Districts Board. He sympathised cordially with his hon. friend's views. There ought not to be a system of dual ownership, which must eventuate in trouble. If the Congested Districts Board purchased land they ought to retain the control of it in their own hands. He could not agree that the ownership of land improved the character of the individual. He could not imagine any difference of character being produced because a man was a freeholder, rather than a tenant of land. He would give every 1372 credit to the Congested Districts Board in regard to the management of their affairs. There was one case, however, in his own constituency to which he wished to directattention. In Whalsay, Shetland, there was only one farm on the island, and there was a large number of crofters who were very congested, and who naturally desired to live where their fathers lived. The result was that they agreed to take over the farm at a valuation; and they put together all the money they could possibly get. The cost was a great deal more than they anticipated owing to increased valuation of stock; and he regretted that the Congested Districts Board was not able to take a more sympathetic view of the matter than they did. If they had acted otherwise, they would have shown to the poor people of Scotland that they had a lively sympathy with them, as he himself believed they had. It was not too late yet to take the action he indicated, and when a landlord desired to meet his crofters in a just and reasonable way. every possible assistance should be afforded.
As regarded fisheries, most of the trouble was caused by the depredation of the trawlers. That was a question on which the Secretary for Scotland might well reconsider the attitude he had taken up. It was, of course, difficult for the Congested Districts Board to increase the number of their fishing cruisers, which were admirably conducted; but the Secretary for Scotland ought to realise the importance of the question, and discourage trawlers which oftentimes were a perfect nuisance. The greatest trouble was not caused by the best class of trawler, but by the smaller boats in small bays and inshore. The evidence of the Commission was perfectly clear on that point, and showed that injury was inflicted on the line fishermen. In the winter time Shetland suffered very much from the difficulty of getting fish away; practically they could only do so once a week, and consequently prices were about one half in Shetland what they were in Aberdeen; and it would be a great advantage if the Secretary for Scotland were to urge this matter on the Post Office.
1373 He also wished to refer to the hard and fast line which was adopted in connection with the congested districts. There were certain disticts in Orkney which were just too well off to come under the Congested Districts Board. In such cases the Board might well relax their rules, and allow the poorer parts of a parish to come under the Act. He would wish to attract the attention of hon. Gentlemen representing English constituencies to a paragraph in the Report of the Board which stated with reference to the Barra Settlement—We made arrangements in each township whereby the settlers by their own labour, and the provisions of materials by us, could erect a comfortable and sanitary dwelling and only be indebted to us in the sum of £30 each.In Scotland, therefore, poor people could have a fairly satisfactory house for £30, and a certain amount of labour. That showed what might be done in making these people comfortable. He should vote with his hon. friend the Member for Ross-shire if he proceeded to a division; but, at the same time, he wished to express his approval of the Report as far as it went. He wished to thank the Lord-Advocate and his predecessor for the encouragement they had given to fishing in Scotland. He referred to the experiments of applying motor power to fishing boats which, if successful, would be a great advantage to the fishing industry. A catch of herrings might be worth £100 in the morning, and worth practically nothing at night. He hoped the Congested Districts Board would bear that in mind. As regarded the Rackwick Road, the Answer of the right hon. Gentleman was perfectly satisfactory, and he was glad to know that the Congested Districts Board was no party to money being given into the hands of one individual. According to the Answer of the right hon. Gentleman, the road was not to be carried for a certain distance in order, solely, to suit the purposes of an individual. He desired to congratulate the Administration and the right hon. Gentleman on the manner in which the work of the Board had been carried on.
§ * MR. MUNRO FERGUSON (Leith Burghs)
said he hoped the Lord-Advocate 1374 would consider the question of closing the ports in England against fish caught by trawling in the Moray Frith. The discussion had no reality as long as the English ports were open to trawled fish from the prohibited areas. As regarded the Congested Districts Board, he did not altogether accept the eulogy of his hon. friend. He never thought that the Board worked well, or that it was well constituted. The policy of land redistribution did not appear to be thought out with reference as to whether small occupiers should be tenants under the State, the county council, or be the owners. He admitted it was a difficult point to decide; and he suggested that there should be a competent inquiry before the matter was definitely settled. The objection in parts of the Highlands to small ownerships was that a large class had not as yet much experience in the matter of fending for themselves; and as to whether this peasant proprietary would be a great success or whether some State control should not rather be retained he should not like to give an off-hand opinion. That was a matter which ought to be inquired into before it was proceeded wish on a comprehensive scale. He laid stress on the matter because the land policy of the Congested Districts Board had not been sufficiently developed. That was the main function of the Board; and in respect to it they could not have too clear a policy, too strong an estate office, and a too competent directing committee. There were good members on the Board, but he did not think it commanded confience; and, in his opinion, it was not working well. On the contrary, the Crofters Commission was working extremely well: and he would suggest an amalgamation between the two. The Crofters Commission had not enough work, and with slight changes could do the work of both authorities. As with the land policy to be pursued in the Highlands, so with the amalgamation of these two authorities; he thought there should be an inquiry; he believed the work would then be much better done, and they would have a land policy on a clear and comprehensive basis. He helped the time was not far distant when the Scotch Office would see that matters should no longer be allowed to 1375 drift, and would institute such an inquiry as he had suggested.
§ MR. CALDWELL (Lanarkshire, Mid.)
pointed out that there was a practical difficulty in the way of the suggested amalgamation of the Crofters Commission and the Congested Districts Board. It was convenient to have the two bodies separate, as questions sometimes arose between the Congested Districts Board as owners and the Crofters Commission as purchasers with regard to the price of holdings and so forth. The Crofters Commission dealt with other than congested districts, and in many respects there would be great difficulty in amalgamating the two bodies. The Congested Districts Board were the successors of the Highlands and Islands Works Board, which dealt with matters such as lighthouses, piers, and roads. For five years previous to the constitution of the Congested Districts Board the amount spent on those purposes averaged £26,000 per annum, but, as usually happened in such cases, when the Congested Districts Board was established and took over the work of the body that it superseded, the Treasury got the better of the Scotch Office, and the Highlands Works Vote was compounded for £20,000 a year. Additional powers were conferred on the Congested Districts Board for dealing with agriculture, land, and emigration, fishing, and one or two minor purposes, and £15,000 a year was added to the Vote. That money, however, was purely Scotch money, England having equivalent grants for English purposes.
There was considerably difficulty in following the work of the Board. He fully agreed that there was a total absence of policy. He had been carefully through the accounts endeavouring to find some sort of policy, and though, after devoting considerable time to the work, he had obtained some idea of what had been done by the Board, he had been unable to gain any notion whatever as to what the Board had intended to do. As regarded the land scheme and money from the Congested Districts Board, there had been expended altogether about £250,000, of which Inverness had had £148,000, Sutherland £23,745, and Ross-shire £17,000. But for 1376 the settlement of crofters and so forth, Inverness had had only £128, and Rossshire £1,239. The main object of the Congested Districts Board was to deal with the poverty of the people, and not so much with piers and harbours, except so far as they might alleviate the poverty of the people. When they looked round the other congested districts, so far as the crofters were concerned nothing was being done. Argyllshire had had the sum of £35 9s. 6d. He wished to know what was the policy that the Congested Districts Board were seeking to carry out. Were they paying large sums for roads and bridges? For lighthouses and piers (including roads) the amount was £6,900 not long ago, it was £10,000, and in 1905 £14,000; and the average was about £8,000 or £9,000 throughout the whole of that period.
There were several ways in they might settle crofters on the land. They might, as in Ireland, sell the land to the crofters under a purchase scheme, the amount advanced being repayable in fifty years. In the case of Barra, the land was purchased and divided amongst certain crofters, and they had to build houses. It was pointed out in the Report that these at Barra were not fulfilling their contracts or making their payments, but there could be no question whatever as to the advantage of buying land and migrating crofters upon it, and this plan had produced the best possible results. So great was the change made under this system that a clergyman who visited one of these islands after a long absence could scarcely believe that it was the same place owing to the improvements which had been made by creating large holdings and dividing the land vacated amongst the people, making their holdings larger. In this way they were able to create new holdings, and at the same time give larger holdings to those who needed them. This was the policy which ought to be favoured in the congested districts, because what the people suffered from in those districts was that their crofts were too small. The great point was to give them more land in order that they might utilise their labour and industry to the 1377 full, and in that way make it pay. There were varying circumstances in different districts, and they ought to deal with each district by itself. So far as this system of creating new holdings and adding more land to existing crofts had been carried out, the best possible results had followed.
Hitherto very little had been done in the way of land purchase because the balances had been allowed to accumulate. In the past they had complained that £35,000 a year was far too small a sum for this purpose. He wished to point out that they were not spending even that small amount, because they were allowing it to accumulate, with the result that last year it amounted to no less than £120,000. Was it intended by this accumulation to start a land scheme? A purchase was made in Glendale for £15,000, and to this was added £5,000 for roads, fencing, and buildings, making up the total to £20,000. They had been endeavouring to sell that land to the crofters, and attempts had been made to arrange terms and a fair price to be paid by the crofters. When those terms were settled they would like to know what was the policy of the Board in regard to this matter. Were they going to sell the land to the crofters out and out? Were they to purchase from the Loan Commissioners, and would the money be refunded to the Congested Districts Board in order that they might extend crofts in other districts? Were they going to keep the land in their own hands for fifty years, charging a certain amount of principal and interest annually with a view to the advance being paid automatically? The money which had been accumulated was intended for the benefit of the people of to-day, and not for the future. To accumulate the money in this way was contrary to all precedents. Surely they ought to know what was to become of this money in the future. The balance now was £13,000, but that would not go very far in the way of making roads and developing estates. Having become owner of a large property with a great number of tenants, the Board had appointed Lady Cathcart's factor to manage the estate.
It was a very remarkable thing that the purchase of the two tracts of land took 1378 place about the same time and that Parliament should know nothing about the transactions until they were completed. One tract was purchased in November and the other in January following with the money belonging to the Congested Districts Board. What was the policy in connection with these purchases? What were the Government aiming at? Having purchased that land how were they to have money available for the purpose of relieving distress in other districts besides the Island of Skye? The Board seemed to think that they had too much money on their hands, and they wished additional powers so as to introduce new purposes on which to utilise the money. The Government themselves had laid great stress on the importance of making the crofters the owners of their holdings, and surely that must be because they believed it was the proper policy with the view of relieving congestion in the Highlands. If that was good policy for relieving congestion in the Island of Skye it was good policy for the Island of Lewis. Would any man who knew the facts say that the Island of Lewis was not more congested than the Island of Skye? Why had Skye been deal with in this way? When the Government wanted powers to deal with a matter of this kind the case of the poorest class was brought forward to prove the necessity for their being granted, but when the powers were obtained that class was neglected altogether. Nothing could illustrate that better than the fact that £20,000 had been expended in the Island of Skye, though the people of the Island of Lewis were crying out for assistance.
Lord Balfour of Burleigh, when Secretary for Scotland, got a Committee appointed with the view of seeing what could be done with regard to any special relief to the congested districts. One of the matters which the Committee were to inquire into was the fisheries; and another point was the insufficiency of educational facilities, and especially the difficulties under which the people of the Island of Lewis suffered from having too limited a knowledge of the outer world. These were matters within the scope of the work 1379 of the Congested Districts Board. Technical education was also included in the powers which the Board had just now. He could not understand why more powers were wanted to deal with these questions. As a matter of fact the Board had powers to act at present without waiting to get a Bill passed. He had shown, at any rate, that where the creation of new crofter holdings was concerned they had only touched the fringe of the question, and that the extent to which money had been lavished in the Island of Skye only served to illustrate the poverty in regard to the other districts. There were other moneys which were at the control of the Secretary for Scotland, practically without any legislation at all. There was, as the Lord-Advocate knew, the general aid grant. That money was not set aside for education in any way. It amounted to £223,000, and the Secretary for Scotland by a Minute of his own appropriated half of it for certain purposes. If he could appropriate it for one purpose he could appropriate it for other purposes in the same way. The hon. Member did not say that it was legal for the Secretary for Scotland to appropriate the money, but it had been done. The £223,000 came to Scotland not because Scotland wanted or needed the money, but simply because England had got a certain amount owing to the passing of the Education Act which threw a heavy burden on the ratepayers. As England dipped into the Imperial purse in that way Scotland had to take the equivalent. The policy in every case in regard to the equivalent grant had been to apply the money to purposes most useful for the people of Scotland as a whole. Surely no one would say that the crofters and the Congested Districts Board should not practically get any of it.
There was no objection whatever to the Congested Districts Board getting enlarged powers, but additional money must be got if the powers were to be enlarged. It was obvious to everyone who studied the work of the Congested Districts Board that the money available in their hands was too little for their present purposes if they were to carry out the Act in a proper spirit. The truth of the 1380 matter was that in Scotland they got more money than they could utilise. The ratepayers were jumping for it, the schoolmasters were jumping for it. Really money was thrown at them which they were unable to utilise. Grants-in-aid were wrong in principle; but if they were to be given they should be applied to some useful purpose. The money granted to the Congested Districts Board was insufficient to carry on the schemes for the development of the Highlands and Islands. The members of the Board were, no doubt, excellent gentlemen, but they did not give that time and attention necessary for the understanding of all matters relating to the administration of Scotland. He himself had endeavoured to go through all the accounts, but it was almost impossible to understand them. He was quite certain that the Lord-Advocate would have no objection to give full in formation in regard to all these matters in a way that the ordinary man could understand them. He agreed with the hon. Member for Inverness that the crofters should be tenants under the Crofters Act, paying rent, rather than peasant proprietors.
§ * MR. LEVESON-GOWER (Sutherland)
thought that the responsibilities which the Congested Districts Board were taking upon themselves were greater than they could bear. They would, in fact, in coarse of time, if they went on purchasing estates as they were doing, become proprietors of large tracts of land, and their resources would be absorbed in these properties to such an extent that they would have no money to spend in other directions. He would suggest to the Lord-Advocate that the Scottish Office should endeavour to get a certain proportion of the purchase price paid for the land from the Treasury. The Board would be able to pay a very fair interest on the sums thus borrowed from the revenue they derived from the rents, and they would thus not be out of pocket as they were at the present time. Unless this was done, if the purchase of land continued, the Congested Districts Board in a very few years would have nothing at all left. He could not see why there should be a differentiation between 1381 the Crofter Commission's rents and the Congested Districts Board's tenant proprietor rents.
§ CAPTAIN ELLICE (St. Andrews Burghs)
said that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid-Lanark said that money had been thrown to Scotland in relation to the Congested Districts Board which had been practically wasted. But he would like to point out that there were in Scotland industries other than that of crofting which had not had money thrown at them of recent years. He referred to the Scottish Fisheries Board, which had only the same grant, as they had had for the past forty years—a grant of £3,000 a year. He had not the slightest doubt that the Scottish Fisheries Board would benefit largely in their operations by an increased grant. The Vote he particularly desired to call attention to was the Vote of £3,000 towards piers and harbours.
§ * MR. AINSWORTH (Argyllshire)
said the discussion which had taken place had shown the great importance of this question, not only to the Highlands of Scotland, but to the whole of the United Kingdom, because it dealt with one of the most valuable races of the population of the Empire. He hoped the discussion would enable the Government to make clear first what their policy was going to be in relation to the land question; second, by what machinery they would carry out that policy; and third, the amount of the fund they were prepared to provide in order to carry it out. He assumed they would carry out the policy of land purchase in the manner which was most acceptable to the people of Scotland; that was to say, by a system of having an occupier with a fixed tenancy under a superior. The machinery that at present existed for carrying out that policy consisted of two boards, the Crofters Commission and the Congested Districts Board, both of 1382 which had done a great deal of good work. In his opinion, however, the work would be much simplified if those two bodies were united, with the members as paid officials amenable to this House and the country. When they came to the funds for carrying out this policy it was almost laughable to find that for various purposes which were always being added to the e was only £36,000 altogether. He hoped the Lord-Advocate would be able to tell the Committee that more money would be provided. One way in which the right hon. Gentleman could provide money almost immediately for land purchase, without at once troubling the Treasury, would be by taking powers to raise money on the land which the Congested Districts Board had already purchased, and using that for further purchases.
He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able also to tell the Committee something in respect to a small increase in the powers of the Congested Districts Board, which would be of great importance to the people of the Highlands. He alluded to the power of advancing small sums to crofters for the purpose of improving their holdings. In the past the crofter in case of emergency was in the habit of going to his landlord. But the conditions were now different, and if he went to his landlord for £30, £40, or £50 for the purpose of rebuilding his house or otherwise improving his holding, his landlord would say, "The conditions are quite different now to what they were, and if you want me to lend you money you must give up your crofting holding, and become a leaseholder". The result of that was that men desirous of improving their holdings became leaseholders and found the conditions of their holding entirely changed. They had here also an opportunity of dealing with the question of rural depopulation at once, because it was not a question of bringing about a new state of things, but preserving the state of things which at present existed. Could anyone say he was willing to contemplate the probability of a large proportion of the Highlands of Scotland becoming a deer forest? Yet that was the question to-day in many parts of Scotland: "How many deer will the land 1383 carry? "Here was an opportunity of giving the proprietor a chance of getting rid of the crofting area; an opportunity of giving the crofter a superior landlord, in the shape of a public board, who was able to spend money on the improvement of the croft; and an opportunity of preserving one of the finest races of the population of the Empire. He asked the Lord-Advocate to bear in mind the difference between a family brought up in the glens of Highlands and on the shores of the lochs, and a family brought up even on high wages in the big towns. If the right hon. Gentleman could see his way to proceed with these reforms he would not only benefit the country but the Empire.
THE LORD-ADVOCATE (Mr. SCOTT DICKSON, Glasgow, Bridgton)
said he did not complain of what had been said on this important Vote nor of the manner in which it had been discussed. All those who had spoken had recognised that the Congested Districts Board had had a record year of progress and development. As to the Secretary for Scotland not being in attendance, that was due to important public duties. He did not think any one could complain that this Government had been unmindful of the claims of the House of Commons so far as the Secretary of Scotland was concerned, although he did not agree that it should be set policy that the Secretary for Scotland should always have a seat in this House. In fact, it was admitted that one of the best Secretaries Scotland ever had, sat in another place. He was rather surprised that the policy of the Congested Districts Board in increasing balances in hand should be regarded as a new development. It had been pursued for a number of years, and it had been long understood and stated in this House that these accumulations had been for the purpose of acquiring land to carry out a scheme of migration on an adequate scale. It was well to recollect that the Congested Districts Board had no means of purchasing property other than from the £35,000 from the local taxation accounts, and the £20,000 voted by Parliament. It was generally accepted that there would be some large demands upon the balances accumulating for the settlement on a 1384 large scale of crofters and cottars who would be migrated from one district to another. That policy so enumerated had never been taken exception to. Complaints had been made that the land was not bought, but it was never suggested that the accumulation of balances was not a perfectly proper thing for the purpose of acquiring land. All that the Board required was to get suitable land. The first opportunity occurred in Skye, where the estates of Kilmuir and Glendale were acquired. Every branch of the policy as to how the land was to be disposed of was set out in last year's Report, again without any complaint or objection being taken. The Report stated—The proposal we have made" (that was in dealing with the Glendale Estate)" is that the Board should sell to each existing tenant the holding be at present possesses and also a share in the grazing, the land to be held by the settlers on the club farm system.It was stated that the price payable by the purchasers would fall to be met by an annuity calculated to repay the principal and interest of the capital value of each purchaser's interest in thirty years, the rate of interest being 2¾ per cent., and the Report continued—We may add very many, if not all, the tenants are willing to be purchasers.That had been the declared policy of the Congested Districts Board for some years. It must have been obvious to those who took an interest in the matter that the balances were accumulating for the very purpose of acquiring land and reselling it when acquired on the annuity principle. The only reason why that plan was not carried out sooner was that suitable land did not come into the market. The propriety of the policy seemed to him to be justified by the very statement of it; because if it were desirable to make provision for the migration and settlement of a crofting population, surely in no better way could it be carried out than by securing considerable tracts of land where there could be a large settlement and the thing would have a chance of being tried on a proper scale. If it were found, as he believed it would be, that this experiment was successful, he had no doubt money would be found for further experiments of the same kind. The fact that they had really made a start in actual practical demonstration 1385 intended to make the year a memorable one in the history of the Congested Districts Board.
A suggestion had been made that there should be an amalgamation of the Crofters Commission and the Congested Districts Board, but there were two sides to that question, and he did not know that any advantage would be derived from combining those two bodies. There was no jealousy or want of desire to co-operate between the two bodies. The hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty objected to two estates being purchased in Inverness-shire, but the claims of Lewis had not been lost sight of. He regretted that so far as the training of boys in seamanship was concerned it had not been so successful as was anticipated. No effort had been spared to remove the prejudice which existed with regard to the matter, and it was hoped that with the diffusion of greater knowledge on the subject that prejudice would disappear, and that considerable numbers would adopt a seafaring life, which it was believed was admirably adapted for giving lads from island districts a better opening in life than they had had hitherto. With regard to the building of houses, while he agreed that the progress had not been as rapid as could have been wished, yet considerable progress had been made, and was still going on. The Congested Districts Board had shown their desire to go even further than their present powers allowed, as more than once since the issue of the Report to which reference had been made they had introduced Bills dealing with the subject, but had been unable to secure the cooperation of the hon. Member for Mid-Lanark. But doubtless the influence of the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland would remove the difficulty the hon. Member had hitherto felt on the subject, and enable the Board to have the matter dealt with.
Reference had been made to the Mansfield Commission. So far as the work of that Commission was concerned, there was no desire whatever, if it could have been satisfactorily proceeded with, to prevent the Commissioners from inquiring into the details of the fishing in Lewis and elsewhere, but it was felt that it would tend to delay the 1386 investigation they were making without securing any corresponding advantage. Though the Commissioners were confined by the terms of their reference to the counties of Sutherland and Caithness, to a large extent their observations were general in character, and he could not doubt that any remedial legislation which might follow that Report would not be confined to the two counties named, but, with suitable changes, would be extended to other districts. In that way the refusal to extend the scope of the reference would in the end turn out to the advantage of the district in which the hon. Member was interested.
Another question to which reference had been made—and its importance he fully recognised—was that of the foreign trawlers in the Moray Firth. That question was looked at from very different standpoints, according to the interests concerned. In the North of Scotland, and probably in Scotland generally, they looked at it from the line fisherman's point of view, but South of the Tweed the question was regarded rather from the trawler's point of view, and he doubted whether any proposal to close British ports to trawlers might not raise a branch of that very thorny question, the fiscal problem, and whether they might not be charged with all kinds of fiscal heresies.
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON
asked whether, in order to avoid the importation of the fiscal question, it would not be fair to say that the restrictions with regard to the Moray Firth were laid down rather to secure a supply of fish than to act on behalf of line fishermen as against trawlers.
MR. SCOTT DICKSON
did not desire to be taken as not having that course quite in view, but even there serious difference of opinion existed as to the probable result. The question had engaged the attention of those concerned with the interests of Scotland for a considerable time, and was still engaging their attention, to see whether anything could be done 1387 to put the matter on a more satisfactory basis. He entirely agreed, as the matter stood, that it was not satisfactory that British trawlers should be kept out of the Moray Firth whilst all the others had to do was to hoist the Norwegian flag to be free of the restrictions. The matter, however, was not one which could be dealt with without legislation.
MR. SCOTT DICKSON
said that in any case Norway was not bound by the Convention, and even with regard to foreign Powers that were so bound serious difficulties arose as to the extent of territorial waters and so forth. The question had not been lost sight of, but it was by no means an easy matter to deal with.
MR. SCOTT DICKSON
said that question was discussed some time ago, but the debate had not proceeded far before it was vehemently protested that it was sheer protection and would prevent the importation of a large amount of fish for the food supply of the people of this country.
MR. SCOTT DICKSON
said that was immaterial. He was simply showing the kind of argument they were met with. Then as to the use of motors in fishing boats experiments had been going on, and he understood that Members would have an opportunity of seeing the application of the motor principle in the way suggested, as a fishing boat fitted with a motor was leaving Anstruther for the Thames on Saturday next. Comparisons had been made between Scotland and Ireland in the matter of facilities for curing. It had to be remembered, however, that the position of Scotland was very different from that of Ireland, inasmuch as the fishing in- 1388 dustry had practically to be created in many parts of Ireland, whereas in Scotland it had been long established. In fact, wherever curing could be carried on in Scotland with any degree of success the places were occupied by private traders, so that the only result of the Congested Districts Board engaging in the work would be to open up places where the business could not be carried on either satisfactorily or successfully. The provision of increased steamer accommodation for the carrying of fish was a matter not for the Congested Districts Board but for the postal authorities.
§ MR. JOHN DEWAR
said his suggestion had reference rather to a rearrangement of the present steamer service.
§ MR. JOHN DEWAR
No; the ordinary steamer service. The Board might also use their influence with regard to the new railway to Mallaig.
MR. SCOTT DICKSON
said that in many respects that line had not come up to anticipations. The Board would be only too glad if it could facilitate a rearrangement that would secure any improvement in the carrying trade. With reference to the complaint of the hon. Member for Mid-Lanark that the money spent on roads, improvement of stock, and similar purposes, was simply in the interests of the landlords, he would remind the hon. Member that the crofters were to a largo extent landlords, and there were few better ways of bettering the condition of the people in these districts than by improving the means of access to the land they occupied and upon which they reared their stock and other marketable commodities. In these directions the Board had done and would continue to do much good work, and he believed that such measures were calculated to do more to improve the condition of the population than even migrating the people to other parts. If better road accommodation were provided and improvement of stock took place surely that must be beneficial. The efforts which they had made in that 1389 direction had certainly met with commendation in some quarters. With regard to the two estates of Kilmuir and Glendale he would explain how they proposed to deal with them. They were going to use them not only for the enlargement of existing crofts but also for planting new crofts. Their policy would be to create new holdings and utilise the holdings given up to increase the size of those adjoining. The Congested Districts Board were satisfied that by carrying out a policy of this kind a great deal of good would be done by promoting the formation of new settlements.
AN HON. MEMBER
said he noticed that the period of repayment was fifty years at £3 14s. 1d. per cent., whereas the Irish tenant was allowed sixty-eight years at 3¼. per cent.
MR. SCOTT DICKSON
said he was aware that there had been a good deal of controversy as to the length of the period of repayment, but he was not able to give a full explanation at the present moment. He did not pretend that he had dealt with all the points raised, but he thought he had dealt with the main points and he had indicated generally the policy which the Government had adopted and which they proposed to carry out. This policy had not been initiated this year for the first time, and the House had had ample notice of it. In all its details it was a policy which, so far as criticism was concerned, had not been seriously assailed as being open to objection. He quite understood that ultimately the success or non-success of this policy would be the test as to whether it was a wise one to continue, but as matters stood at present he was of opinion that this policy had been wisely conceived and the efforts made to carry it out were well calculated to secure its success. He thought the efforts of the Congested Districts Board were such as to deserve the commendation which they had received from hon. Members opposite, and the Board deserved every credit for the good work they had done.
§ MR. THOMAS SHAW (Hawick Burghs)
complained that there had been great delay in the Congested Districts Board addressing itself to the work com- 1390 mitted to it by Parliament. He was glad that that delay had to some extent been abated during the past year. It seemed to him that although this Board had been created for one particular purpose it was always trying to devote itself to another purpose. Every one of the Reports of this Board generally gave a short account of what they had done, and a protracted Report of how they had been prevented from doing something else. The Congested Districts Board and the members of the Crofters Commission seldom, if ever, met round one table. If the Secretary for Scotland would call them together, and invite them to consider their relations to other public boards in the country, he would be doing an enormous national service. With regard to the educational difficulty he could hardly doubt that had the matter been fully understood at the time a couple of clauses would have been inserted in the Education Bill. The importance of this point was that whereas they were entitled to certain moneys for educational purposes those moneys were going to be abstracted from them in a different way altogether, and they were to lose an educational grant; in fact, they were to get a sum of money instead from the Congested Districts Board which would be taken out of funds to which Scotland was entitled from other sources. There was a financial loss as well as an administrative loss year after year. This was very well illustrated by the case of the Island of Lewis. Lord Balfour took this matter up and said that he asked for a Report mainly because he could not help feeling that the problems which pressed for solution in regard to Lewis were more difficult and complicated than in any other area with which the Congested Districts Board had to deal. That Report was made on December 15th, 1902, but nothing had been done, and these delays were aggravating the state of things in Lewis, and a good deal of misery and suffering was being continued in that island.
Now if there was any occasion upon which they could avoid bringing in the fiscal question he should have thought it would have been a discussion on the Congested Districts Board for Scotland, 1391 but it seemed that the fiscal question was always with them, and even the Lord-Advocate had referred to it in connection with the Moray Firth trawling. There was a doctrine known as colonial preference, and he thought that in regard to trawling in the Moray Firth they might fairly claim that Scotsmen Should be preferred. The Sea Fisheries Report, recently issued, stated that the effect of the continual disturbance by trawlers in the Moray Firth was to destroy the mature fish of all kinds, break up the shoals of herring and drive them from their accustomed haunts. That was a matter of national concern. Scotch fishermen were forbidden to go outside the limit, whilst Englishmen and foreigners were not subjected to this restriction. The Lord-Advocate asked—How could they help it? The answer was perfectly simple. Why could not the Congested Districts Board, the Secretary for Scotland, and the various boards act in co-operation with the authorities in England, because the moment they deprived either English or foreign trawlers of an English market for their goods they put an end to this nefarious traffic. All that was required was co-operation with the other public boards in England to prevent the landing not of foreign articles, but of fish procured in a region where it was unlawful for Scotsmen to fish. His right hon. friend said that under the North Sea Convention they could not appeal to Norway because that country was not a party to that Convention. Surely they could prevent, say, a Scandinavian vessel, just as they could an English vessel, landing a cargo illicitly caught and bringing it to a British port. One word to that effect from the British Government to the North Sea Powers would make such an arrangement feasible. After all, the main object of all those boards—the Congested Districts Board, Crofters Commission, and others—was to get bigger scope, and a wider sphere, for the energy of the people themselves.
He found, with regard to the acquisition of land, that the Congested Districts Board in all its askings for additional powers had been careful never to ask for power compulsorily to acquire land. The effect of such a power would be that the board 1392 would be able to procure land at the market price and secure a wider area of selection for its activities, because they knew where the congestion was most acute, and instead of being driven from island to island, and from pillar to post, looking cut for a property where the proprietor was anxious to acquire money for it, they would be able to get land where it was wanted. Until compulsory powers were obtained, the Congested Districts Board, or the authority which succeeded it, would be so shackled that it would be prevented from making much progress. The people were anxious that the little nagging restrictions to which the crofter was subject should be removed. The best type of population, particularly on the northwest coast of the mainland, or in the Hebrides, were the men who had a trade of their own, say, fishing, a little merchant's shop in addition, and also a little bit of land to till. That was the kind of citizen who was useful in the locality; he sat on the school board, took part in parish council work, and was a credit to the community. The House would hardly believe it, but it was a fact that by the decision of a Court of law that type of man had been absolutely disqualified under the Act from taking his position as a crofter. From the time that decision was given nothing had been done to alleviate that grievance. And so in all those respects he found fault with the Congested Districts Board, for its operations were always too slow; secondly, they were always asking for things which they did not require, and which were entrusted to other departments; thirdly, they never asked for the real thing, which was power to compulsorily acquire land; and lastly, they seemed to neglect cases of the kind which were dealt with in the action by Gilmour against Peterson to which he had referred. They neglected those strong and clamant cases, and came forward year after year with complaints about little petty matters which, as compared with the acquisition of land, were mere specks. Therefore, his complaint against them was delay, lack of due firmness and determination, and not knowing their own mind. They proceeded by circuitous methods, and the result was a certain ineffectiveness which, with much that he approved of in the 1393 action of the Board, was highly to be regretted.
§ SIR CHARLES RENSHAW (Renfrew, W.)
said the hon. and learned Member closed his speech by expressing disapproval of a certain action of the Congested Districts Board, though he had found a source of satisfaction in the fact that they had acquired a considerable property for which they paid a large sum of money. The House would accept that as substantial evidence of a very practical character of the efforts which were being made to solve some of the problems which were pressing themselves on the consideration of the Congested District Boards. The hon. and learned Member had told the House that there would be no satisfactory administration of the Act until land could be bought compulsorily. Why was it possible to purchase the great estate they had been discussing? It had been because the Congested Districts Board had the good sense to accumulate the capital which they had now used for the purchase of the property.
§ MR. THOMAS SHAW
said he made no adverse comment on the accumulation of capital by the Board. His point was that under the present system they were forced to accumulate capital because they had not compulsory powers which would enable them to go on smoothly. They had to wait from year to year until they got the opportunity of buying from. somebody who was willing to sell.
§ SIR CHARLES RENSHAW
said the point which the hon. and learned Member laid down was that the Board would not be able to do their work until they had compulsory powers of purchase, and he suggested that if such powers were in force they would be able to purchase land at what he called the market price. He thought the hon. and learned Member would bear him out when he said that if all rumours were true the exercise of compulsory powers in regard to the purchase of land was never of so felicitous a nature as to make one prefer that method if land could be acquired without putting Compulsory powers in force at all.
§ MR. JOHN DEWAR
Land was taken by the Crofters Commission, and the price was fixed by the Commission itself.
§ SIR CHARLES RENSHAW
said that was a very special case. He did not believe the conferring of compulsory powers on the Congested Districts Board would make the slightest difference. He believed there was a great deal of land in the North of Scotland which the proprietors would be very glad to sell if there was any reasonable prospect or chance of selling it. He was perfectly certain that land could be bought more cheaply by the ordinary chance of the market than by putting compulsory powers into the hands of the Board.
I desire to call attention to the fact that land cannot be acquired by compulsion without an Act of Parliament, and therefore the discussion of that is out of order.
§ MR. ASHER (Elgin Burghs)
said he desire to make a few remarks on the subject of trawling for fish, in regard to which a great deal of interest was felt in the part of Scotland with which he was connected. He rose chiefly for the purpose of pressing on the attention of the Lord-Advocate a suggestion which might be successful in remedying the mischief which was at present occurring. His right hon. and learned friend acknowledged that the present state of matters was most unsatisfactory. At this moment so-called foreign vessels, but very largely manned by British subjects, were roaming at large outside territorial waters and catching fish, which they immediately transferred to British ports where they were sold. It had been suggested that any attempt to stop that process would be in the nature of protection, but he himself could not see that. The closing of the Moray Firth was authorised in 1889 for the purpose of enabling the Fishery Board of Scotland to make certain experiments; but the effect of those experiments had been absolutely frustrated by the action of these foreign trawlers. Whilst statistics were being collected the foreign trawlers appeared on the scene, and it was found impracticable to carry out the experiments for the purpose of 1395 which the Act of 1889 was passed. He suggested that steps should be taken for treating foreign, trawlers who landed fish in England in exactly the same way as they were treated in Scotland. His complaint was that it was the duty of the Government to enforce a British statute just as much in England as in Scotland. In 1897 a ship carrying the German flag, and registered in Germany, trawled for fish outside territorial waters in the Moray Firth. The Secretary for Scotland gave instructions to the Commander of the "Jackal" at Aberdeen and a fishery officer to prevent the landing of the fish, and the fish were not allowed to be landed. Immediately after that the foreign owner of the vessel came into the Scottish Court and asked for redress for what would be called in England an injunction against anything being done which would prevent the fish being landed at Aberdeen. The case was defended by the then Secretary for Scotland, who, in his pleadings, stated that no British subject was entitled to take fish by steam trawling in the Moray Firth, or to land the same in Scotland—And it will be seriously prejudicial to the national interests and to the said fisheries and the British subjects interested therein, if foreign trawlers are allowed to land such fish in Scotland.It was also set out in the pleadings that—The Government resolved in the interest of the State, and as an act of Statethat fish caught by beam or other trawling should not be allowed to be landed in Scotland. The Court decided that His Majesty's Government acted absolutely within their rights in doing what they did; and as that judgment was not appealed against, it had been accepted from that time as the law of Scotland that the foreign trawler was not entitled to land his fish in a Scotch port. What he would suggest to his right hon. and learned friend was that His Majesty's Government should instruct their officers in England not to allow any fish trawled in the Moray firth to be landed in any English port, and to institute proceedings against any foreign trawlers doing so.
MR. SCOTT DICKSON
said that the Secretary for Scotland could not issue 1396 any such instructions as far as English ports were concerned. What was done in the case referred to by the hon. and learned Member opposite was done by the Secretary for Scotland acting in Scotland, but he could not do that in England.
§ MR. ASHER
said he would remind his hon. and learned friend that in the pleadings in the Scotch Court the Secretary for Scotland recited that he was a member of His Majesty's Government, and that "the Government resolved in the interest of the State, and as an act of State," that fish trawled in the Moray Firth should not be allowed to be landed. He was not suggesting legislation; what he was suggesting was that the Secretary for Scotland should go to his colleagues in the Government and ask them, "as an act of State," to prevent fish which were trawled against the law in the Moray Firth being landed in the ports of England. It was absolutely in the power of the Executive to prevent an alien entering British ports and landing fish which had been caught in violation of British law. What was taking place was so grievous an evil that it ought to be taken up and grappled with. There was an enormous population all along the coast of the Moray Firth on the verge of rebellion in consequence of what was happening, and why should not the Secretary for Scotland secure that the British Government should, "as an act of State," intervene for the purpose of preventing these illegally trawled fish being landed in English ports. He strongly urged on his hon. and learned friend to take the course which he had suggested. Of course, legislation was out of the question; and he agreed with his hon. and learned friend the Member for the Border Burghs that negotiation was also out of the question. If the Government instructed its officers at English ports not to allow fish illegally trawled to be landed at these ports nothing more would be heard of the matter.
§ MR. BLACK
said that the reply of the Lord-Advocate would occasion great disappointment. The question was a very burning one all along the coast; and affected the livelihood of 1397 many men. It was a matter of wonder to many of them that for ten or twelve years the Government should have done nothing to grapple with this evil. There were from thirty to forty trawlers in these waters; and yet the Government said they could do nothing. Perhaps they should not have expected anything better from such a quarter. But who were the supporters of the Lord-Advocate which he said he could not offend. These trawlers were practically pirates. They went to foreign countries, registered their vessels there, and then, under a foreign flag, came into the waters of the Moray Firth and broke the domestic law which governed trawling in those waters. If the Government were in earnest they would be able to deal with this matter, and, somehow or another, bring about a remedy. He was surprised that the Lord-Advocate should have endeavoured to stop his hon. and learned friend when he made a practical suggestion to deal with this matter. It was done openly; and, surely, if the Government were in earnest they could grapple with it. There was certainly a lack of earnestness on the part of the Government in providing a remedy
§ SIR HERBERT MAXWELL (Wigtonshire)
said he desired to support the views of the two hon. Members who had just spoken on the other side. He could not help thinking that the Lord-Advocate was not aware of the extent and depth of feeling which the existing state of things had created. Had it not been that his countrymen were of a practical and orderly disposition there would have been more serious scenes on the coast of Scotland than had been witnessed. The operations of these trawlers were carried on, not only during the day, but at night, when it was almost impossible for any human being to prevent them from violating the three-mile limit. It was a very common belief of the fishermen, especially in the Moray Firth, that that limit was habitually violated by these foreign trawlers. He could not conceive a more inequitable state of things than that which prohibited trawled fish being sold in Scotland, and yet permitted it to be sold in another part of the United Kingdom. He begged the right hon. 1398 Gentleman to take this matter into serious consideration and use his influence with the Government so that some such action as had been suggested by the hon. and learned Member for the Elgin Burghs might be taken.
§ MR. DOBBIE (Ayr Burghs)
said that his hon. and learned friend the Member for the Elgin Burghs had suggested a remedy which ought to appeal to the Lord-Advocate. The trawling grievance was felt equally, and even in a magnified form, in the Firth of Clyde as in the Moray Firth. They were troubled with trawlers not only from Norway but from Germany and Holland, and he appealed to the Lord-Advocate to make some representation to those countries with a view to getting the evil remedied by a convention or otherwise. Trawling was the great cause of the depression and congestion of the fishing population. The Report of the Departmental Committee was very valuable; but localities other than Sutherland and Caithness should also be considered. It was quite true that the recommendations of the Committee were general; but there were varying conditions in different localities. He, therefore, thought that the Government would confer a great boon on the fishing community in Scotland if they endowed the Committee with further powers. He hoped, from the excellent tone of the speech of the Lord-Advocate, that some attention would be given to this matter.
§ MR. PIRIE (Aberdeen, N.)
complained of the absolute apathy displayed by the Secretary for Scotland. It was, he asserted, nothing more nor less than a scandal for the Scotch representatives to treat with contempt, silence, and indifference the complaints that had been made respecting trawling and harbour dues. So long as the present state of affairs continued they had every right to consider that the Scottish officers were grossly negligent of their duty, which was first of all to protect Scottish interests and then to see that justice was done to British interests. He thought that probably in view of the approaching election and of the strong feeling prevailing in Scotland, this discussion would have a little more effect than usual.
§ * MR. WEIR
saw no ray of hope in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, who had put before them roads, bulls, rams, cockerels, and bee-hives as a solution of the crofter problem. Those were all useful in their way, but what the people wanted was more land. It was because the Secretary for Scotland had shown no desire to secure land suitable to the wants
§ of the people that the reduction had been moved. He also failed to find a ray of hope for the settlement of the foreign trawlers question.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 87; Noes, 142. (Division List No. 203.)1401
|Asher, Alexander||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Parrott, William|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herb. Henry||Griffith, Ellis J.||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)|
|Black, Alexander William||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Bright, Allan Heywood||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Reid, Sir R. Threshie (Dumfries|
|Brown, G. M. (Edinburgh.)||Harmsworth, R. Leicester||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Hayter, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur D.||Russell, T. W.|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Henderson, Arthur (Durham||Seely, Maj. J. E. B. (Isle of Wight|
|Burke, E. Haviland||Higham, John Sharp||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Burt, Thomas||Holland, Sir William Henry||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Buxton, N. E (York, NR, Whit by||Hutchinson, Dr. Chas. Fredk.||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Caldwell, James||Lamont, Norman||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Campbell, J. (Armagh, S.)||Langley, Batty||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall)||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Leese, Sir J. F. (Accrington)||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark)||Leng, Sir John||Spencer, Rt Hn C. R (Northants|
|Delany, William||Levy, Maurice||Sullivan, Donal|
|Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.||Lundon, W.||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J||Tillett, Louis John|
|Dobbie, Joseph||Mac Veagh, Jeremiah||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Donelan, Captain A.||M'Crae, George||Villiers, Ernest Amherst|
|Doogan, P. C.||Markham. Arthur Basil||Wallace, Robert|
|Douglas, Chas. M, (Lanark)||Murphy, John||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan|
|Ellice, Capt E. C (S Andr' ws B' ghs||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Wason, John Catheart (Orkney|
|Evans, Samuel T. (Glarmorgan)||Nolan, Col. John P. (Galway, N.||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Eve, Harry Trelawney||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary Mid.)||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Fenwick, Charles||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||O'Connor, Jas. (Wicklow, W.)||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Findlay, Alex. (Lanark, N. E.)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||O'Malley, William||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr.|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn Herb. John||O' Mara, James||Weir and Mr. Ainsworth.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Bowles, Lt.-Col. H. F. (Middlesex||Egerton, Hn. A. do Tatton|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Butcher, John George||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Campbell, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Glasgow||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Carson, Rt. Hn. Sir Edw. H.||Finch, Rt. Hn. George H.|
|Arnold-Forster, Rt. Hn. H. O.||Cautley, Henry Strother||Finlay, Sir R. B. (Inverness B' ghs.|
|Arrol, Sir William||Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire)||Fisher, William Hayes|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hn. John||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A (Wore.||FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir H.||Chamberlayne, T. (S'thampton||Flower, Sir Ernest|
|Bailey James (Walworth)||Chapman, Edward||Forster, Henry William|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Coates, Edward Fectham||Galloway, William Johnson|
|Balcarres, Lord||Cochrane, Hn. Thos. H. A. E.||Gardner, Ernest|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.|
|Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey)||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. Gerald W (Leeds||Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.||Green, Walford D. (Wednesbury|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Greene, Sir E. W (B'ry S. Edm'nds|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Gubitt, HOP. Henry||Guthrie, Walter Murray|
|Bartley, Sir George C. T.||Dalkeith, Earl of||Hamilton, Marq of (L'nd'nderry|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir Michael Hicks||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry G.||Davenport, Wm. Bromley||Hare, Thomas Leigh|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Dickson, Charles Scott||Haslam, Sir Alfred S.|
|Bill, Charles||Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred D.||Hay, Hon. Claude George|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Dorington, Rt. Hn. Sir John E||Heath, Arthur H. (Hanley)|
|Bond, Edward||Douglas, Rt. Hn. A. Akers||Heath, Sir Jas, (Staffords., N. W.|
|Bousfield, Wm. Robert||Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir Wm. Hart||Heaton, John Henniker|
|Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.||Morrison, James Archibald||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Hickman, Sir Alfred||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||Spear, John Ward|
|Hozier, Hn. James Henry G.||Mount, William Arthur||Stanley, Rt. Hn. Lord (Lanes|
|Hudson, George, Bickersteth||Muntz, Sir Philip A.||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse||Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry)||Stock, James Henry|
|Jeffreys, Rt. Hn. Arthur Fred.||Myers, William Henry||Stroyan, John|
|Kerr, John||O'Neill, Hn. Robert Torrens||Strutt, Hn. Charles Hedley|
|Keswick, William||Percy, Earl||Talbot, Lord E (Chichester)|
|Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)||Pilkington, Colonel Richard||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G (Oxf'd Univ.)|
|Lawrence, Sir J. (Monmouth)||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Tuff, Charles|
|Lee, Arthur H. (Hants., Fareham||Pretyman, Ernest George||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Purvis Robert||Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir Win. H.|
|Leveson-Gower, Fredk, N. S.||Pym, C. Guy||Warde, Colonel C E.|
|Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Randles, John S.||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Long, Rt. Hn Walter (Bristol, S.||Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.|
|Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Renwick, George||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Lucas, Reginald J (Portsmouth)||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. C. Thomson||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart|
|M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire||Rutherford, John (Lancashire||Wyadham-Quin, Col. W. H.|
|Maxwell, Rt. Hn. Sir H. E (Wigt'n||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford|
|Melville, Beresford Valentine||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir|
|Montagu, Hn. J. Scott (Hants)||Shaw-Stewart, Sir H. (Renfrew||Alexander Acland-Hood|
|Morgan, D. J. (Waithamstow)||Sloan, Thomas Henry||and Viscount Valentia.|
|Morrell, George Herbert||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East|
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON
said that as the answer of the Lord-Advocate was rather disappointing, both as regarded the working of the Board, and its constitution, and the holding of an inquiry into those matters, he should move a reduction of £500 in respect of the
§ grant in aid to the Congested Districts Board.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £10,133, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Munro Ferguson.)
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 82; Noes, 140. (Division List No. 204.)1403
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Parrott, William|
|Asher, Alexander||Harmsworth, R. Leicester||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)|
|Black, Alexander William||Hayter, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur D.||Pirle, Duncan V.|
|Bright, Allan Heywood||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Brown, George M. (Edinburgh)||Higham, John Sharp||Russell, T. W.|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Hutchinson, Dr. Chas. Fredk.||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Burke, E. Haviland||Lamont, Norman||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Burt, Thomas||Langley, Batty||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Buxton, N. E. (York, N R, Whitby||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall)||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Caldwell, James||Leese, Sir J. F. (Accrington)||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Leng, Sir John||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Levy, Maurice||Spencer, Rt. Hn. C. R. (Northants|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Lewis, John Herbert||Sullivan, Donal|
|Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark)||Lundon, W.||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Delany, William||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Dobbie, Joseph||M'Crae, George||Villiers, Ernest Amherst|
|Donelan, Captain A.||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)||Wallace, Robert|
|Doogan, P. C.||Markham, Arthur Basil||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan|
|Douglas, Chas. M. (Lanark)||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen||Weir, James Galloway|
|Ellice, Capt EC (S. Andr'wsB'ghs||Murphy, John||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Eve, Harry Trelawney||Nolan, Col John P (Galway, N||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Fenwick, Charles||O'Brien, K (Tipperary Mid)||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Findlay, Alex. (Lanark, N. E.)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||O'Connor, Jas (Wicklow, W)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr.|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Munro Ferguson and Mr.|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||O'Malley, William||John Dewar.|
|Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||O'Mara, James|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Anson, Sir William Reyneil||Atkinson, Rt. Hn. John|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Arnold-Fortser, Rt. Hn Hugh O.||Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir H.|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Arrol, Sir William||Bailey, James (Walworth|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose||Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Flower, Sir Ernest||Myers, William Henry|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manc'r.||Forster, Henry William||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens|
|Balfour, Capt. C. B (Hornsey||Galloway, William Johnson||Percy, Earl|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. Gerald W (Leeds||Gardner, Ernest||Pilkington, Colonel Richard|
|Balfour, Sir Frederick George||Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Gordon, Hn. J. E (Elgin & Nairn||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Bartley, Sir George C. T.||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir Michael Hicks||Green, Walford D.(Wednesbury||Purvis, Robert|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Greene, Sir E W (B'ry S Edm'nds||Pym, G. Guy|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Guthrie, Walter Murray||Randles, John S.|
|Bill, Charles||Hamilton, Marq of (L'nd'nderry||Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford||Renwick, George|
|Bond, Edward||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Haslam, Sir Alfred S.||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)|
|Bowles, Lt.-Col. H F (Middlesex||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford|
|Butcher, John George||Heath, Arthur H. (Hanley)||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Campbell, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Glasgow||Heath, Sir Jas. (Staffords. N. W.||Shaw-Stewart, Sir H.(Renfrew|
|Carson, Rt. Hn. Sir Edw. H.||Heaton, John Henniker||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Hickman, Sir Alfred||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East|
|Cavendish, V. C. W.(Derbysh.||Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil||Smith, Hn. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Chamberlain, Rt Hn J A (Wore.||Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse||Spear, John Ward|
|Chamberlayne, T. (S'thampton||Jeffreys, Rt. Hn. Arthur Fred,||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Lanes|
|Chapman, Edward||Kerr, John||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Coates, Edward Feetham||Keswick, William||Stock, James Henry|
|Cochrane, Hn. Thos. H. A. E.||Law, Andrew Bonar(Glasgow)||Stroyan, John|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Lawrence, Sir J. (Monmouth)||Strutt, Hn. Chas. Hedley|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow||Lee, A. H. (Hants., Fareham||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester|
|Craig, Chas. Curtis (Antrim, S.||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Talbot. Rt. Hn. J. G (Oxf'd Univ.|
|Gross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S.||Thornton. Percy M.|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Lockwood, Lieut.- Col. A. R.||Tuff, Charles|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Turnour, Viscount|
|Davenport, William Bromley||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsm'th||Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir Win. H.|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Maconochie, A. W.||Warde, Colonel C. E.|
|Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred D.||M'Killop, Jas. (Stirlingshire)||Welby, Sir Chas. G. E. (Notts.)|
|Dorington, Rt. Hn. Sir John E.||Maxwell Rt. Hn Sir H E(Wigt'n||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.|
|Douglas, Rt. Hn. A. Akers-||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir Wm. Hart||Montagu, Hon. J. Scott (Hants)||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart|
|Forgusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Mancr||Morrell, George Herbert||Wyndham-Quin, Col. W. H.|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Morrison, James Archibald|
|Finch, Rt. Hn. George H.||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir|
|Finlay, Sir R. B (lnv'rn'ss B'ghs||Mount, William Arthur||Alexander Acland-Hood and|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Muntz, Sir Philip A.||Viscount Valentia.|
Original Question, put and agreed to.
§ And, it being after half-past Seven of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Resolution to be reported upon Monday next; Committee to sit again this evening.