HC Deb 05 December 1979 vol 975 cc435-42 3.53 pm
Mr. Dennis Canavan (West Stirlingshire)

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to set up a Scottish Anglers Trust to administer all freshwater fishing rights in Scotland. I tabled this motion three weeks ago today, and since then events have proved that my Bill is more necessary than ever. Only last week the Secretary of State for Scotland approved the River Tweed protection order which, in effect, will deprive many ordinary working people of taking part in their favourite sport. To some of us it is perhaps not surprising that a Tory Secretary of State should give more power to the Tory lairds and the landowning classes, especially the present Secretary of State for Scotland, who himself comes from a landowning family. His family has about 1,000 acres of land at Leckie, near Gargunnock, in my constituency.

Indeed, if we look through the list of applicants for the Tweed protection order, it looks almost like a Tory Division list from the House of Lords. We have the Duke of Buccleuch, the former Tory Member of Parliament for Edinburgh, North, who owns a quarter of a million acres of land, making him the biggest landowner in Scotland. He is not the only one involved in this protection racket. The family of the Marquess of Lothian is also mentioned on the list. Of course, the son and heir of the Marquess of Lothian sits in the House as the Tory Member of Parliament for Edinburgh, South. There are other well-known names on the list. There is the Duke of Roxburghe, Viscount Devonport, and the Duke of Sutherland, whose ancestors cleared the Highlands and who himself now seems set to clear the working-class fishermen from the Borders. Earl Haig of Bemersyde, of poppy fame, is on the list, and, of course, Lord Home of the Hirsel himself, a former Tory Prime Minister. So perhaps it is not surprising that the present Tory Secretary of State, the Laird of Leckie and the son of a viscount, should be handing over power to these landlords. It is not so long ago that the Earl of Leckie presented the safe seat of Kinross and West Perth shire to the fourteenth Earl of Home to try to intro- duce a semblance of democracy to his premiership.

From the beginning of next season, next spring, it will be a criminal offence for anyone to fish in the protected waters of the River Tweed unless, of course, permission has been obtained from the landlord or whoever owns the fishing rights. Fishing is probably the only sport in Scotland where it will be a criminal offence to breach the regulations. That is a bad precedent. Let no one forget that this is not something that will be confined to the River Tweed, the Eye and their tributaries. It will eventually be extended to the rest of Scotland. Already applications have been submitted for the upper Spey.

If this trend continues, every river, burn and loch in Scotland will soon be prohibited territory unless anglers go on their knees to the local landlord to get permission to fish, or unless they are lucky enough to have enough money to join one of the syndicates of rich business men who are taking over more and more fishing rights in Scotland for their exclusive use.

What is the alternative? In my opinion, the best alternative is the Bill that I hope to present today. It would give power to the anglers instead of to the landlords.

Last week the Secretary of State introduced a landlord's charter. This week my Bill will try to introduce an angler's charter. Under my Bill it will be open to any individual angler to join a club, and it will be open to any bona fide club to affiliate to the Scottish Anglers Trust. The club will be able to send along delegates, in proportion to its membership, to the annual general meeting of the trust. Members of the trust will be elected and subject to re-election—there fore, I hope that all my hon. Friends who are on the national executive committee of the Labour Party will support me on this. The trust, in consultation with local committees and boards, will have the power to administer all freshwater fishing rights in Scotland and to determine the regulations and the policy of the sport as a whole.

Nobody wants a free-for-all, and I have never heard any responsible angler arguing that there should be an absolute free-for-all in fishing in Scotland. That is in no one's interests. It is not in the interests of the sport, or the anglers. We want a democratic body, representative of all anglers, to make the rules on matters like reasonable prices. For example, some anglers favour a national permit for brown trout fishing, and the trust could determine the price of those. It could also make rules on matters such as access—the hours and days of access—the fishing tackle which may be used and the tackle which is prohibited in certain circumstances. It could also determine policy on the important matter of stocking and restocking waters.

All this means that there must be some finances in the hands of the trust. Basically it will have two sources of income. Its main source will be from the sale of permits, but there is also a provision under section 5 of the Freshwater and Salmon Fisheries (Scotland) Act 1976 for the Secretary of State for Scotland to give a grant to a body, such as the proposed Scottish Anglers Trust, which is concerned with the conservation, development and improvement of fisheries.

Initially some money may be required for compensation. This is a touchy subject but I shall mention it briefly. It is well known that there are certain individuals and groups of individuals who have put in a great deal of work and investment in order to conserve and improve fish stocks. Therefore, I think that they are entitled to fair compensation for their money, time and effort. It is my suspicion that most of those angling clubs would be far more concerned not so much about getting money into the pockets of their members but about getting a fair deal for their members on fishing rights. Therefore, something in this line could be negotiated between the newly-formed trust and the individual angling clubs. I imagine that any financial transactions would be minimal.

As for those people who have never put any work or investment into the conservation and improvement of fisheries, I would not give them any compensation at all. In fact the title that some of them have to fishing rights is simply inherited from their ancestors. For example, the fourteenth Earl of Home probably got fishing rights from the thirteenth Earl, who got them from the twelfth, who got them from the eleventh, and so on. In fact, if we go back far enough we shall probably find that one of the earlier Earls of Home stole them from the people. It is about time these rights were restored to the people. It is time that we took them from the lairds and returned them to the anglers.

Angling is the most popular sport in Scotland, and it is about time that the sport was run by those who actually take part in it. I hope that the House will give my Bill a First Reading.

4.4 pm

Mr. David Steel (Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles)

The hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan) is always entertaining but not always accurate.

It is very important that we do not allow a Ten-Minute Bill to come forward on this matter when the House legislated as recently as 1976 on the question of freshwater fishing in Scotland. The protection order to which the hon. Member has referred is the first under that Act to be approved. There was a public inquiry in my constituency at which the hon. Member appeared and to which he put the arguments that the House has just heard. The public inquiry went against him and the protection order has been, quite properly and belatedly, approved by the Secretary of State for Scotland.

It is quite false to portray this as being of benefit to landlords, and none of the people whose names the hon. Member mentioned is known as a political supporter of mine in the Borders of Scotland. The real protection is for the anglers of the Borders. I declare an interest, as I am one. I am a member of the Selkirk angling club and the Hawick angling club. It is the anglers in the Borders who have been waiting for the protection order to prevent bus loads of people from coming in from the hon. Member's constituency and raiding the rivers of fish that we have stocked.

The hon. Member says that he is not in favour of a free-for-all, but frankly this Bill is a thin disguise to try to set aside an orderly system to protect the ordinary anglers in the Borders who are trying to maintain the fisheries. These fisheries will be open to people from outside who are prepared to pay for the permits. This is a matter of principle and it would be misunderstood if the House allowed a Bill of this sort to be introduced after a speech like the one made by the hon. Member. The Bill attempts to set aside the procedures approved by the House in 1976 and approved again recently by the Secretary of State. That is why I must oppose its introduction.

Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 13 (Motions for leave to bring in Bills and Nominations of select Committees at Commencement of Public Business):—

The House divided:Ayes 139, Noes 138.

Division No. 119 AYES [4.06 pm
Anderson, Donald Fraser, John (Lambeth, Norwood) Morton, George
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Newens, Stanley
Atkinson, Norman (H'gey, Tott'ham) Garrett, John (Norwich S) Palmer, Arthur
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Garrett, W. E (Wallsend) Parry, Robert
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) George, Bruce Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Bidwell, Sydney Graham, Ted Prescott, John
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Grant, George (Morpeth) Price, Christopher (Lewisham West)
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Race, Reg
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Radice, Giles
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh, Leith) Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds South)
Buchan, Norman Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Richardson, Miss Jo
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton &P) Haynes, Frank Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Campbell, Ian Healey, Rt Hon Denis Roberts, Ernest (Hackney North)
Campbell-Savours, Dale Hogg, Norman (E Dunbartonshire) Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Cant, R. B. Holland, Stuart (L'beth, Vauxhall) Robertson, George
Clark, David (South Shields) Homewood, William Rooker, J. W.
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen North) Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)
Cohen, Stanley Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rhondda) Rowlands, Ted
Coleman, Donald Jones, Barry (East Flint) Sandelson, Neville
Cowans, Harry Jones, Dan (Burnley) Sheerman, Barry
Crowther, J. S. Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert (A'ton-u-L)
Cryer, Bob Kerr, Russell Skinner, Dennis
Cunliffe, Lawrence Kinnock, Nell Smith, Rt Hon J. (North Lanarkshire)
Dalyell, Tam Lambie, David Spriggs, Leslie
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Lamborn, Harry Stallard, A. W.
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Lamond, James Stewart, Rt Hon Donald (W Isles)
Davis, Terry (B'rm'ham, Stechford) Leadbitter, Ted Stoddart, David
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Leighton, Ronald Straw, Jack
Dempsey, James Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Dewar, Donald Litherland, Robert Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton West)
Dixon, Donald Lofthouse, Geoffrey Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Dormand, Jack Lyons, Edward (Bradford West) Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Douglas, Dick McCartney, Hugh Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Dubs, Alfred McDonald, Dr Oonagh Walker, Rt Hon Harold (Doncaster)
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth McKay, Allen (Penistone) Watkins, David
Eastham, Ken McKelvey, William Weetch, Ken
Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE) McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, Central) White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Ellis, Raymond (NE Derbyshire) McWilliam, John Wigley, Dafydd
English, Michael Magee, Bryan Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Evans, loan (Aberdare) Marshall, David (Gl'sgow, Shettles'n) Wilson, Gordon (Dundee East)
Ewing, Harry Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Winnick, David
Faulds, Andrew Martin, Michael (Gl'gow, Springb'rn) Woolmer, Kenneth
Field, Frank Maxton, John Young, David (Bolton East)
Fitch, Alan Maynard, Miss Joan
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Mikardo, Ian TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen) Mr. Gavin Strang and
Forrester, John Morris, Rt Hon Alfred (Wythenshawe) Mr. Martin O'Neill.
Foulkes, George Morris, Rt Hon Charles (Openshaw)
Adley, Robert Bruce-Gardyne, John Faith, Mrs Sheila
Alexander, Richard Buchanan-Smith, Hon Alick Farr, John
Ancram, Michael Budgen, Nick Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Aspinwall, Jack Burden, F. A. Fletcher-Cooke, Charles
Atkinson, David (B'mouth East) Butcher, John Forman, Nigel
Beith, A. J. Cadbury, Jocelyn Fraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford &St)
Bendall, Vivian Chapman, Sydney Fraser, Peter (South Angus)
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Clark, Hon Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Galbraith, Hon T. G. D.
Berry, Hon Anthony Clark, Dr William (Croydon South) Garel-Jones, Tristan
Bevan, David Gilroy Cockeram, Eric Glyn, Dr Alan
Biffen, Rt Hon John Cope, John Goodhew, Victor
Biggs-Davison, John Corrie, John Gow, Ian
Blackburn, John Dorrell, Stephen Gower, Sir Raymond
Boscawen, Hon Robert Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Greenway, Harry
Bottomley, Peter (Woolwich West) Dover, Denshore Grimond, Rt Hon J.
Bowden, Andrew Dunn, Robert (Dartford) Gummer, John Selwyn
Braine, Sir Bernard Eggar, Timothy Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Brooke, Hon Peter Elliott, Sir William Haselhurst, Alan
Brotherton, Michael Fairbairn, Nicholas Hawksley, Warren
Brown, Michael (Brigg &Sc'thorpe) Fairgrieve, Russell Heddle, John
Henderson, Barry Mudd, David Sproat, lain
Holland, Philip (Carlton) Murphy, Christopher Stanbrook, Ivor
Hordern, Peter Myles, David Steel, Rt Hon David
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Neale, Gerrard Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Neubert, Michael Stewart, John (East Renfrewshire)
Hurd, Hon Douglas Newton, Tony Stradling Thomas, J.
Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Onslow, Cranley Tapsell, Peter
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Osborn, John Thompson, Donald
Kaberry, Sir Donald Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby) Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)
Kilfedder, James A. Parris, Matthew Thornton, Malcolm
Kimball, Marcus Patten, Christopher (Bath) Townend, John (Bridlington)
Lang, Ian Pattie, Geoffrey Trippler, David
Langford-Holt, Sir John Pawsey, James van Straubenzee, W. R.
Lawson, Nigel Penhaligon, David Waddington, David
Lee, John Pollock, Alexander Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
Le Marchant, Spencer Porter, George Wakeham, John
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Price, David (Eastleigh) Walker, Bill (Perth &E Perthshire)
MacGregor, John Proctor, K. Harvey Waller, Gary
MacKay, John (Argyll) Rees-Davies, W. R. Ward, John
McQuarrie, Albert Renton, Tim Wells, John (Maidstone)
Marland, Paul Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight) Wheeler, John
Mayhew, Patrick St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon Norman Whitney, Raymond
Meyer, Sir Anthony Shelton, William (Streatham) Williams, Delwyn (Montgomery)
Mills, lain (Meriden) Silvester, Fred
Moate, Roger Sims, Roger TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Molyneux, James Skeet, T. H. H. Mr. Cyril Smith and
Morrison, Hon Charles (Devizes) Speller, Tony Mr. Patrick Cormack
Morrison, Hon Peter (City of Chester)

Question accordingly agreed to.

Mr. Speaker

Who will prepare and bring in the Bill?

Mr. Canavan

Mr. David Lambie, Mr. Gavin Strang, Mr. Hugh D. Brown, Mr. Norman Buchan, Mr. Robert Hughes, Mr. Martin J. O'Neill, Mr. Norman Hogg, Mr. Jim Callaghan, Mr. George Foulkes, Mr. George Robertson Mr. Michael Martin, Mr. Harry Ewing, Mr. Dennis Skinner, Mr. Martin Flannery, Miss Joan Maynard, Mr. Don Dixon, Mr. Robert Parry, Mr. Frank Haynes, Mr. Neil Carmichael, Mr. Ian Campbell, and myself.

Mr. Speaker

I counted carefully. I believe that the hon. Member read out the names of more than 12 Members. He is entitled to 12 sponsors. I think that mine was the only name that he left out.