HC Deb 23 October 1986 vol 102 cc1346-9

' — (1) The Secretary of State may, subject to the provisions of this section, make regulations specifying baits and lures for the purposes of the definition of "rod and line" in section 24 of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries (Protection) (Scotland) Act 1951. (2) The Secretary of State may make regulations under this section only on —

  1. (a) application to him by a district salmon fishery board; or
  2. (b) a joint application to him by more than one such board,
and regulations made in respect of such application shall be made only in respect of the district of the applicant. (3) Regulations under this section shall specify, subject to such exceptions as may be provided therein, all or any, or a combination of, the following:—
  1. (a) baits and lures or classes of baits and lures;
  2. (b) times when the regulations apply;
  3. (c) areas to which the regulations apply.
(4) An application under subsection (2) above shall be accompanied by the applicant's written proposals which shall state—
  1. (a) the baits and lures which it is proposed should be specified;
  2. (b) the places to which and the times during which the proposed regulations should apply; and
  3. (c) the reasons for the proposals.
(5) Paragraphs 3 to 9 of Schedule 1 to this Act shall apply to the making of regulations under this section as they apply to the making of a designation order, and for this purpose—
  1. (a) references to a designation order shall be construed as references to regulations under this section; and
  2. (b) references to an applicant, and to an application, under paragraph I shall be construed respectively as references to an applicant, and to an application, under subsection (2) above.
(6) In section 24(1) of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries (Protection) (Scotland) Act 1951, at the end of the definition of "rod and line" there shall be inserted the following — "and, in the case of fishing for salmon in an area to which and at a time during which regulations made under section (use of baits and lures) of the Salmon Act 1986 apply, is not specified in such regulations in respect of that area and time".'.—[Mr. John MacKay.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. John MacKay)

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

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Ernest Armstrong)

With this it will be convenient to take Government amendments Nos. 8 to 10.

Mr. MacKay

New clause 7 and the related consequential amendments Nos. 8 and 9 provide the regulation-making provision for baits and lures which I promised at Committee stage when considering an amendment proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro). It is a clause much in the style of clause 6 — the annual close time clause—in that it rests upon local initiative to start the ball rolling where there is a perceived need for some control over baits and lures.

Although under the clause regulations would be made by the Secretary of State at the request of a district board or boards, there are safeguards for those who may be affected or who may consider that regulation is unnecessary in the relevant district or districts. First, there will have to be some local consideration and discussion in the board and, of course, I remind the House, anglers will have a say because of their representation on the new boards. In addition, a baits and lures regulation would have to go through all the statutory procedures for designation and annual close time orders which require the Secretary of State to consult; to cause the proposals to be advertised; and to hold a public inquiry if he considers it necessary. There are therefore many safeguards against the possibility of capricious or ill-thought-out proposals being introduced. I believe that they are sufficient.

The Association of District Salmon Fishery Boards and the Salmon and Trout Association support the idea of powers to control the use of baits and lures. In discussion with officials of the Department, representatives of the Scottish Anglers National Association were somewhat ambivalent, seeing advantage in some control, for example, on the use of shrimp or prawn, but unhappy about the risk of prohibition of the use of the worm in some Highland areas.

I hope that those who fear that they might be adversely affected by unreasonable regulations will be reassured by the arrangements for detailed consideration that are provided in the clause. There will be ample opportunity for opinions to be made known and taken into account before the Secretary of State decides to make any particular regulation or not. It should be noted that district boards have the power only to ask for regulations, not to make them, and also that regulations can be made for part of a district so that, for example, the upper waters of the river can be treated differently from the lower waters.

Amendment No. 10 is a minor, technical amendment to correct an existing omission. It gives my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State the power to amend section 10 of the Tweed Fisheries Amendment Act 1859 as well as sections 6 and 11 if, on the application of the River Tweed council, he makes an order changing the annual close time on that river. That is a necessary consequential amendment, so that there shall be no inconsistency between the Act and the annual close time order.

I hope that my hon. Friends and others who took part in the interesting debate on the matter in Committee will welcome the decision that I have made to table the new clause.

Mr. Home Robertson

I doubt whether anglers with exotic tackle are a significant factor in the overfishing of salmon, but as the Bill provides so much scope for restricting other types of fishing, it is right that we should have the provision to regulate certain types of angling tackle at specified times. That is what the Minister is suggesting. It is fair enough that the district boards should be able to seek such regulations.

My only concern is that the device could be used for another form of discrimination against people whose faces are not thought to fit on Scotland's salmon angling beats. For example, when my hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan) next goes fishing in Scotland I trust that he will not run into any legal arguments with bailiffs about the nature of his fishing tackle just because he comes from Bannockburn while people from Tokyo, Chicago or even Woking are allowed to carry on fishing with the same sort of equipment.

If anyone doubts that such discrimination is possible, he need look no further than the Glasgow Herald of the ninth of this month. The Duke of Argyll was accused of indulging in some sort of illegal fishing operation, although admittedly it was with nets rather than angling gear. It was duly reported to the police, who sent a report to the procurator fiscal. According to the Glasgow Herald, the procurator fiscal said: I sent the report to the Crown Office … My approach is anything involving people in the hierarchy, as you might say, I send off to Edinburgh. I do not know whether my hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk, West would be counted as a member of the hierarchy, but I suspect that if it was him there would be no question of the procurator fiscal seeking guidance from the Lord Advocate. My hon. friend would probably find himself in the dock at Dunoon sheriff court pretty damn quick. But, seriously, providing the regulations in the new clause are enforced fairly, we shall be prepared to support it.

Sir Hector Monro

I thank the Minister for fulfilling the commitment that he gave in Committee that he would look at the matter favourably. I know that the district boards and the Salmon and Trout Association will be pleased that he has implemented it through the new clause. I am grateful to him.

Mr. Beith

I support the new clause. It is consistent with the principle that conservation should be the overriding objective, and that all sections and types of fishery should have conservation measures placed on them if a need can he shown. As the hon. Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) said, several other sectors of fishery are having extensive requirements placed upon them, and anglers must take their share, too. It is in everyone's interest that conservation should be carried out.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

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