HC Deb 25 March 1907 vol 171 cc1515-6

I beg to ask the Secretary for Scotland whether he is aware that after the House of Lords' decision in 1859 that no person had a right to fish for salmon in the Scottish seas without grant from the Crown, 345 persons exercising salmon fishing on the sea coast were asked to produce their charters, that a large number confessed want of title, and that an annual rental of £1,200 was restored to the public; and whether he will call for a similar production of the charters of the persons claiming salmon rights in the rivers of Scotland.


It is a fact that, about the time of the decision referred to in the Question, many owners of estates on the sea coasts of Scotland were asked to produce their titles to the salmon fishings in the sea. Of those who responded some showed a good title and others confessed want of title. In many cases there was no response, and the titles were examined by reference to the records in Edinburgh. In the result the Crown established the right to a large number of salmon fishings in the sea, and a rental of them now amounts to between £7,000 and £8,000 a year. Up to the present time there has been no general or systematic invitation to landowners whose estates abut on Scottish salmon rivers to produce their titles, followed in case of refusal by an investigation of the records, as from the experience of such investigations that have been made it appeared probable that the results would not be of sufficient importance to justify the expense involved; but a certain number of special cases have been from time to time investigated as circumstances have provided occasion for so doing, with varying results. It should be explained that according to the law of Scotland persons may acquire a right to salmon fishings, not only by an express grant of such fishings from the Crown, but also by (1) a Barony title to their estates coupled with possession of salmon fishings for the prescriptive period, or (2) a grant of fishings in general terms coupled with possession of salmon fishings. A reference to the charters of the estate is therefore very often insufficient in itself to show whether there is a title to salmon fishings, and it has to be supplemented by evidence as to possession. The Commissioners of Woods, who have been good enough to supply the above information, always take action should they obtain information as to any cases in which there is reason to believe that Crown rights are being invaded.