HC Deb 30 April 1907 vol 173 cc681-2

To ask the Prime Minister whether there is any arrangement between His Majesty's Government or the Scottish Fishery Board and the Government of Norway to permit Norwegian trawlers to be boarded and English fishermen arrested or given up outside the three-mile limit when the vessel has committed no offence for which the owner or master can be made responsible; under what law of Scotland English fishermen are prosecuted who are serving under contract under a foreign flag, when the vessel is fishing legally under the North Sea Convention and International law; and whether he is aware that the sheriff held that the English fisherman was subordinate to the master in offences committed within the three-mile limit when the vessel was fishing illegally, but in the cases of prosecution under the local Scottish by-law the sheriff held that the first fishermen were responsible and sentenced them to imprisonment, although the master was not prosecuted, and the vessel had committed no offence against national or International law.

(Answered by Sir Henri/ Campbell-Bannerman.) There is no arrangement between His Majesty's Government and that of Norway to the effect suggested by the hon. Member, but the Norwegian Government have intimated that orders have been issued to the Fishery Director of Norway to warn all owners of Norwegian fishing boats who trawl in the Moray Firth to cease from so doing, and not to expect the support of their Government in the case of proceedings against them in Scotland. The law under which English and other British subjects are prosecuted is the Herring Fishery Act of 1889, which is not a law of Scotland, but one passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. I am not aware of the particular declaration by the sheriff to which the hon. Member refers. When prosecutions are taken against British subjects for illegal fishing under the Act of 1889, it is in respect of their individual breach of the law of their own country and not of the action of the vessel in which they were serving.