HC Deb 13 February 1951 vol 484 cc341-3

This Bill shall apply to the whole territory of the Royal Burgh of Annan.—[Mr. N. Macpherson.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

10.45 p.m.

Mr. N. Macpherson

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

The point of this Clause is simply to define the position of the Royal Burgh of Annan under this Bill. The territory of the Royal Burgh was fixed by charter without reference to the channel of the River Esk, and the result of this has been that as that channel changes and as it is reputed to be the boundary between England and Scotland, it sometimes happens that the Royal Burgh of Annan is in England, and sometimes in Scotland. The point of this Clause, therefore, is to make certain that, wherever the channel of the Esk may lie, the whole of the territory of Annan is covered by one law.

Mr. T. Fraser

This Clause raises exactly the same point as that raised by an earlier Amendment moved by the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Macpherson

Not quite.

Mr. Fraser

The hon. Gentleman says "not quite." There is not the same point inasmuch as he is not here seeking to define the river as he was before, but he seeks to provide that in certain circumstances a part of the River Esk shall be in Scotland and that offences committed under this Bill in that part of the Esk would be liable to prosecution. I must not repeat the argument I made on the earlier Amendment, but it is our desire to provide that a prosecution in any part of the Esk, whether within the Royal Burgh of Annan or elsewhere, should be under the 1923 Act as applied to England and Wales and not under this Measure. I ask the hon. Member not to press this new Clause.

Mr. Macpherson

I am sorry that I have not made the position easily understandable, but this is not quite the same point. In this case it is the channel, as I said very carefully; and it is very doubtful whether the channel of the Esk is the Esk. It may well be the Solway. That is the point I asked the Joint Under-Secretary of State to clear up on the earlier Amendment. Whether or not the earlier Amendment cleared it up, it still remains the case that the channel of the Esk moves and in some cases part of Annan may be, and from time to time is, in England. I ask that the whole of the territory of Annan should be regulated by one law. If, as the hon. Gentleman says, it is being regulated under the provision under which the Esk is undoubtedly covered by the law of England, that will make it certain that the territory of Annan comes under two laws, because it is only at low tide that the channel of the Esk becomes the Esk; otherwise, it is definitely the Solway. I do not think the hon. Gentleman can give a snap answer now, but I ask him to look at the matter later.

Mr. C. Williams

It seems to me that my hon. Friend has made it quite clear, and has an absolute case, that the whole of this should come under England. That is excellent and most of us take that point of view, so why not accept a compromise and let the whole thing come under the law of England? I have no doubt that if that were the position, my hon. Friend would be only too pleased. Every Scotsman, I think, would agree to that.

Mr. Fraser

The whole of the River Esk is covered by the English Act of 1923, which I read out earlier. Section 83 of that Act states: This Act shall apply to so much of the River Esk, with its banks and tributary streams up to their source, as is situated in Scotland… The 1923 Act applies to the whole of the River Esk including the channel. If we seek to bring any part of the River Esk into the Scottish Bill. we shall have to amend the Act of 1923, and we think it would be quite wrong to divide the River Esk in that way.

Mr. Macpherson

If that is so, at low tide there is one law and at high tide there is another, and I really think the hon. Gentleman must look into this matter again.

Question put, and negatived.