§ 1. Mr. William Hamilton
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will now take steps to take into public ownership fishing rights on all Scottish lochs and rivers.
§ Mr. Hamilton
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this would probably be the most popular measure which the Government could introduce? It would have the almost universal acceptance and agreement of anglers in Scotland. Will the right hon. Gentleman seek to stop the Hydro-Electric Board, a public corporation, from selling off to the highest bidder fishing rights on the River Awe? This is a scandal which ought not to be tolerated by the Scottish Office or by anybody in this House.
§ Mr. Campbell
Quite a large part of the salmon fishing in rivers and also in lochs is already publicly-owned by the Crown Estate Commissioners, the High- 442 lands and Islands Development Board, the Forestry Commission and the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board and this has brought no particular advantages to the public or to anglers.
As to the second part of the question, the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board no doubt considers that this is in the best interests of keeping the supply of electricity at as low a price as possible, and that is its main duty. I remind the hon. Gentleman that under the previous Government the Hydro-Electric Board disposed of its fishing rights in the River Shin at the end of 1969.
§ Mr. Russell Johnston
Can the right hon. Gentleman assure us that the sale of these fishing rights by the Board has not followed any pressure from the Government? The right hon. Gentleman indicated that this was a commercial decision by the board. It is not a commercial decision but a social one, and for that reason the Government should intervene and prevent the sale.
§ Mr. Campbell
This is a decision taken entirely by the board itself, and questions about the reasons for it had best be addressed to the board.