HC Deb 18 February 1907 vol 169 cc556-8

I beg to ask the Secretary for Scotland if he will state the reasons why orders have been given for the release of the masters of the Grimsby steam trawlers sailing under the Norwegian flag, who were convicted before the sheriff at Elgin on 31st January, and sentenced to sixty days imprisonment each, failing payment of fines for trawling within the limits forbidden under the Scottish Fishery Board bye-laws and the Fisheries Acts.


As has already been stated publicly, the men referred to by the hon. Member were foreign subjects, and their release was ordered in consequence of a representation from the Foreign Secretary at the instance of the Norwegian Minister.

MR. MITCHELL-THOMSON (Lanarkshire, N.W.)

I beg to ask the Secretary for Scotland whether he is aware that on 31st January 1907, before the sheriff at Elgin, Hans Christian Andersen, master of the Norwegian trawler "King Eric," Andreas Martinius Andersen, master of the Norwegian trawler "Plover,' and Abraham Osmundso Gjerde, master of the Norwegian trawler" "Stromo," were found guilty of trawling within the limits forbidden by the Scottish Fishery Board by-laws and the Fisheries Acts, and that they were sentenced to sixty days imprisonment, failing payment of fines of £100 each; whether he is aware that, having failed to pay these fines they were imprisoned in Inverness prison, and that, without having paid those fines, they were released from prison on 9th February, when fifty-one days of their sentence were still unexpired; whether they were released by order of the Secretary for Scotland; and what steps the Government purpose to take to enforce the law for the protection of the baiting and fishing grounds on the east coast of Scotland, and to penalise offences by foreigners against it, which jeopardise the calling and means of livelihood of Scottish line fishermen.

Notice of the following Questions had also been given—


To ask the Secretary for Scotland, if he will state whether the masters of trawlers sailing under the Norwegian flag, who were recently imprisoned in Inverness gaol for failing to pay the fines imposed on their conviction for illegal trawling in the Moray Firth, have been released on representations made by the Norwegian Consul or other representative of the Norwegian Government; and will he state whether the Government now propose to give foreign trawlers free access to fish in the Moray Firth outside the three-mile limit, nothwithstanding the decision of the High Court of Justiciary, the losses which such trawling occasions the line fisherman, and injury to the fishing grounds in the Firth.

MR. WILLIAMSON (Elgin and Nairn)

To ask the Secretary for Scotland whether his attention has been called to the number of trawlers illegally trawling in the Moray Firth; and what steps he intends to take by legislation or otherwise to prevent this.


I would propose to answer along with this Question the Question addressed by my hon. friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland to the Lord-Advocate, the Questions addressed by my hon. friend the Member for Ross-shire so far as they relate to this matter, and the Question of my hon. friend the Member for Elgin and Nairn. The facts stated are correct. The matter referred to has been under my consideration. It is my intention to introduce a Bill to apply to the rest of the United Kingdom the prohibition now existing in Scotland against landing or selling trawled fish.


Is it intended to prosecute British subjects on those vessels for breaking the law?


That will be done.