HC Deb 01 July 1908 vol 191 cc741-3
MR. DUNDAS WHITE (Dumbartonshire)

To ask the Secretary for Scotland, in view of the decision of the Court of Session in the case of Smith v. Lerwick Harbour Trustees, 1903, F., 680, that the law of udal and not of feudal tenure applies to the foreshore as well as to the rest of the solum of the Shetland Islands, and of the subsequent decision in the case of the Lord Advocate v. Balfour, 1907, Session Cases, 1360, in which the Lord Ordinary held that the reasoning in that Shetland case applies equally in Orkney, that in Orkney the feudal law of salmon-fishing does not apply, and that the right of fishing for salmon in Orkney is not inter regalia, if the question as to whether the right of oyster-fishery in Orkney is or is not inter regalia has been considered with reference to the Oyster and Mussel Fishery (Bay of Firth) Provisional Order Bill; and, if so, what conclusion has been arrived at.

(Answered by Mr. Sinclair.) The procedure being under the specific powers conferred by the Sea Fisheries Act of 1868, I am advised that no question of the nature indicated by my hon. friend arises.


To ask the Secretary for Scotland whether he has powers under Section 5 of The Fisheries (Oyster, Crab, and Lobster) Act, 1877, to prohibit, restrict, and regulate the fishing of oysters at the Bay of Firth, in Orkney; whether, if the Oyster and Mussel Fishery (Bay of Firth) Provisional Order Confirmation Bill, which is designed to create a several oyster fishery over an area of about 4,500 acres for a period of 60 years, becomes law, he will be precluded from exercising his powers under that section over that area while that Order is in force, and the only remedy in the event of that fishery not being conducted satisfactorily will be to repeal the Order by a certificate under Section 45 of The Sea Fisheries Act, 1868, under which Act the Provisional Order Bill is being promoted; and why the creation of a private monopoly in this public oyster fishery under the Act of 1868 is preferred to the regulation of it, in the interests of the public, under the Act of 1877.

(Answered by Mr. Sinclair.) The Secretary for Scotland has power, under Section 5 of The Sea Fisheries (Oyster, crab, and Lobster) Act, 1877, to prohibit, restrict, and regulate the fishing of oysters, but that power does not extend to places where a several oyster fishery is constituted by Order under The Sea Fisheries Act, 1868, the remedy for unsatisfactory administration in such cases being as stated by my hon. friend. Mere prohibition, restriction, or regulation would now have little effect in resuscitating the beds at the Bay of Firth. What is wanted is the cultivation of the beds on approved modern methods, and neither the Secretary for Scotland nor Fishery Board have powers or funds for this purpose. Every effort to get local public bodies to take up the matter failed, and the Fishery Board were compelled to fall back on the proposal for a public syndicate. I am informed that no public interest is being violated, while, on the other hand, the operations of the syndicate will afford employment to a number of the local people.