§ *LORD PLAYFAIR,
in moving that their Lordships do not insist on their first Amendment, with which the Commons had disagreed, said, their Lordships would no doubt be gratified to hear that the Commons had accepted 40 of the Amendments sent down from that House while disagreeing with six. The first was with regard to the eight members of the Central Fishery Board. Their Lordships, for reasons which seemed to them satisfactory, had left out the number "8" and put in the words "certain other," in order that it might be made larger or smaller as thought desirable. The Government attached great importance to having a number fixed by statute. The old Central Fishery Board, of which he was a member for many years, was so large that it became irresponsible, and in reality the Secretary of the Board did all the administrative work. That was found so inconvenient that in 1882 an Act was passed limiting the Central Board to nine members, all of whom were nominated by the Queen. There were no elected members. In 1892 the Marquess of Lothian, on the part of the late Government, brought in a Bill, which passed that House, limiting the Board to 10 members. This Bill provided for 11 members, of whom three were to be nominated by the Queen and eight sent by the electoral fishing districts. It was unnecessary to say more at this late stage of the Bill.
§ Moved, "That: this House do not insist upon their Amendment which had been disagreed to by the Commons."—(The Lord Playfair.)
§ Page 1, line 20, to leave out the word ("eight") and insert the words "certain other.")
§ The Commons disagree to this Amendment for the following reasons—namely, because it is undesirable to fix by the Bill the number of representative members of the Board.
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
said, as far as the merits of the case were concerned, the course taken by their Lordships was far preferable to that proposed. They had left it open for such a number of divisions to be created as should upon inquiry be found desirable. On the other hand, the Government proposed to fix eight as the number in the Bill without any inquiry, and with- 571 out giving any reasons for it. Their real reason, of course, was connected with the elections. It was desired that the elected members should be largely in excess of the three appointed members. The Government proposal was made much more for that purpose than with any reference to the real requirements of Scotland; but the matter, after all, was not of first-rate importance, and, as far as he personally was concerned, he would not be inclined to insist on the Amendment.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ LORD PLAYFAIR
said, the next Amendment would, no doubt, cause discussion. The first part of it was consequential on what had just been done by that House. Their Lordships had agreed to eight representative members and to the eight fishery districts; but the Commons had substituted the present form of words, giving the Secretary for Scotland the power to apportion and divide the seaboard counties of Scotland, as specified in the Schedule to the Act with the boroughs included therein, into eight fishery districts.
§ *LORD PLAYFAIR
said, be would deal with that. He could not explain why the Commons had disagreed until this Amendment was discussed. The Schedule referred to at, the end mentioned the seaboard counties of Scotland which wore to be included in the districts, and the principle followed here was the same as that of the English Act, 1888, by which certain seaboard counties were formed into a rateable district. Points would be raised in discussing the Schedule which could not be considered here. The principle was that only seaboard counties were put into the Schedule, except in one contested case—the County of the City of Edinburgh. The answer given by the Commons was that it was exactly the same as in the case of Manchester, which was included in the Lancashire District. That was also a county of a city, and such places as Bury, Salford and Wigan were also included in the county which formed part of the fishery district. The counties were grouped together into eight districts, and some counties which were not seaboard were not included in the Bill at all. They 572 would not all be treated in the same way in regard to rating, but differently according to their proportionate share in the fishing interest, exactly as was done under the English Act. Under that Act, for instance, Lancashire, Cumberland and Cheshire were all put into one district with 62 members, one each being given to Cheshire and Cumberland, while Lancashire had 60, and of the expenditure Lancashire was to bear 60 out of 62 parts. So it would be in this case; the rates would be differential in accordance with the interests of the counties which were brought within the Rill. The same condition was found in Wales, where Pembroke and Carmarthen were grouped together, Pembroke paying two-thirds and Carmarthen one-third of the expenditure. Great opposition had been offered to the inclusion of Edinburgh, but ho would give the reasons of the Government for adopting that course. It was a separate county of a city, like Glasgow, but Edinburgh happened not to be actually seaboard, though it was within a mile or two of the sea and possessed a mussel-bed of its own It was close beside the Firth of Forth. That it was a county of a city was no argument. There was something to be said as regarded the proportion of fishery interest in the case of Glasgow. The proportions of interest varied greatly. According to the Census, there were 561 fishermen in Edinburgh; by the Board of Fisheries figures there were 937; Glasgow, according to the Census, had 40 fishermen, and by the Fishery Board Register only 16. Therefore, Glasgow was far less interested in the fisheries.
*LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
asked whether the noble Lord was not giving the figures for Mid Lothian, and not for Edinburgh City?
§ *LORD PLAYFAIR
believed that might be so, and that he should have said Midlothian and Lanarkshire; he was speaking from what the Secretary for Scotland said the other day in answer to a deputation. Glasgow had to some extent brought the sea up to itself by deepening the Clyde, just as Manchester had done by the ship canal; but it was geographically distant from the sea, and by no definition of "seaboard" could Glasgow be properly included.
Moved, that the House do not insist upon their Amendments—
Page 2, line 10, after the word ("order") to insert the words ("or orders") and leave out from ("to") to ("comprising") in line 12, and insert ("create in Scotland such number of fishery districts as may be therein provided").
Line 13, to leave out from the word ("and") to the word ("he") in line 14.
The Commons disagree to these Amendments for the following reasons:—namely, because it is desirable to fix by the Bill the number of the fishery districts, but propose in lieu of the words inserted in line 10 and disagreed to, the following words ("apportion and divide the seaboard counties of Scotland (as specified in the Schedule appended to this Act, with the burghs included therein) into eight fishery districts").
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
wished to get rid of a fallacy which the noble Lord had now brought forward for the third or fourth time, in comparing this measure with the English Act. Between the two there was no comparison or analogy whatever. The adoption of the English Act was optional to any county or group of counties, and under it the County Councils were the rating power, to impose or refuse to impose a rate, the constituents being, therefore, taxed by their own elected Representative Body. This Bill, on the contrary, embodied the principle of universal compulsion, of which this Government was so fond. Every county that was unfortunate enough to be comprised within the Schedule was to be rated, whether their Councils choose or not, and for purposes with which the majority of them had nothing to do.
§ *LORD PLAYFAIR
pointed out that on the petition of a small number of ratepayers the Board could group them.
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
said, the House was now dealing with the Scotch Bill. He asked whether the noble Lord meant that upon the petition of any six ratepayers the fitting could be made compulsory upon an English district?
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
said, that at any rate such a thing was never done; and under the present Bill there 574 was no appeal to the Board of Trade or elsewhere. He had hoped that the noble Lord would have given some little explanation of his Amendment. The whole importance of it, turned on the use of the word "seaboard." There was no indication of what the word meant in the eyes of the Government, unless it meant, as appeared from the Bill, the counties specified in the Schedule. He would ask the noble Lord to say what his definition of "seaboard" was?
§ LORD PLAYFAIR
I have no knowledge that would enable me to make a legal definition, but I should say that" seaboard" means "washed by the sea."
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
said, that was just exactly what it did not mean, according to the Bill. He did not care what the noble Lord might say, because whatever he might say, he was wrong. Whatever definition the noble Lord might give it would be as easy as possible to prove that it was utterly wrong. Was the County of Linlithgow washed by the sea?
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
pointed out that it was washed by the sea, and ought to be there. The County of Stirling was washed by the sea, but it was not in the Bill. Stirling was the constituency of the Secretary for War, and Clackmannan was the constituency of the Lord Advocate; and their constituents would have been taxed if those counties had been included in the Bill. The City of Glasgow, which was the largest port in Scotland, was more inter ested in fisheries than any other place in Scotland, and consumed three-fourths of all the fish brought into Scotch ports, but it returned the Secretary for Scotland, and was excluded from the Bill. It was an extraordinary coincidence that those counties which were "washed by the sea" should not be included in the Bill. As the noble Lord had failed so utterly in explaining his own Bill, perhaps he would allow it to be done for him. The real meaning of the Amendment was that there were certain counties which the Government proposed to tax. 575 No principle could be laid down which could not be proved to be violated by the Bill. The noble Lord might advance any principle he liked; he could be shown to be wrong upon the Bill itself. Unless a firth was regarded as the sea, how could the County of Dumbarton be scheduled? And having by that principle taxed several small places on the Clyde like Dumbarton, the noble Lord went a few miles higher and found that Glasgow had nothing to do with fishery interests. If Glasgow were not to be taxed, he defied the noble Lord to find any reason for taxing Dumbarton. He argued this matter, not in the interest of any particular county, but on the general principle of fair and equitable taxation. The next question was— How had this extraordinary proposition been arrived at? The Bill was almost verbatim the Bill which was introduced by Mr. Marjoribanks in 1892. That Bill proposed a tax of 6d. in the £1 upon seaboard parishes, and created so much agitation that it had to be withdrawn. Then the present measure was brought forward, proposing the reduced tax of 3d. in the £1 on the extended area of the seaboard counties, leaving the same net result. That proposition was too much for the Gladstonian Members in the House of Commons, and so the proposed tax was reduced to 1d. in the £1. The noble Lord was not prepared to drop the word "seaboard," and standing as it did, how could their Lordships with any fairness pass a clause which involved such inequitable provisions? That House had left it open for Scotland to be divided into as many districts as might be found advisable upon inquiry, but having no power to alter the taxing clause, had struck it out. The Bill would do great injustice to Edinburgh and many other places. The noble Lord bad asked him what Petitions he could show against the Bill? He would defy the noble Lord to defend this Bill in any large county or town of Scotland included in the Schedule. The Town and County Councils were all opposing the Bill, and were appealing for protection to their Lordships, who could console themselves with the thought that they were not so black as they were sometimes painted. Cities and counties, where their Lordships were spoken of not always in the most complimentary terms, now called upon them 576 to undo the injustice and injury inflicted upon those places elsewhere. Ho should ask their Lordships not to agree with the noble Lord's Motion.
THE MARQUESS OF HUNTLY,
in the first place, drew attention to the clause in the English Act to which Lord Play fair had alluded as providing for application being made by six ratepayers.
THE MARQUESS OF HUNTLY
pointed out that the English Act provided that when 20 inhabitant ratepayers had petitioned a County Council to form a fishery district, and the Council had refused, the petitioners should have the right within 12 months of their application to apply to the Board of Trade for an Order establishing a fishery district; and that then the Board of Trade should, unless the County Council could show to their satisfaction that such Order should not be made, proceed as if the application had been made by the County Council. After that the Order to create the district must be laid before Parliament. Both the Secretary for Scotland and the noble Lord had, in dealing with this matter, disingenuously kept in the background the voluntary principle contained in the English Act. The Secretary for Scotland spoke of the Bill as resembling the English Act, though it differed, he said, in two important particulars: the creation of a representative Fishery Board, and giving facilities for the preservation of mussel-beds. That was all. Whether the English Act gave compulsory powers or not, Scotland was unanimously against this Bill as it stood. The places not petitioning against it were those which had no interest in the matter. The Counties of Lanark and Perth, and the Towns of Perth and Glasgow, wisely held their tongues, because they were exempted from taxation under the Bill. Speaking for the north-eastern towns and counties of Scotland, he could say that there was not a single voice in the Press or on the platform being raised in favour of the Bill. The 32 Petitions in support of it, mentioned by Lord Playfair, came from small fishing villages. No doubt they would like to see their mussel-beds protected. The whole machinery proposed in the Bill was clumsy and vexatious, and 577 would not work. The question had been well put in The Scottish Leader—All that Edinburgh asks is that other parts of the country which benefit from that industry exactly as she does shall not pay along with her. Put in this way, the argument for the assessment of the whole country, and not of the seaboard counties alone, is irresistible, and the Government will be ill-advised if they persist in an attempt to withstand it.When The Scottish Leader gave that advice to Her Majesty's Government it required some courage on the noble Lord's part to propose this Amendment. He hoped the House would not allow the Amendment; for the whole of Scotland was against the proposals made in the Bill.
*LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
did not object, speaking entirely for himself, to the idea of apportionment as between districts, some more and some less interested in fishery matters. That principle was imbedded in the Bill regulating these matters for England, and it was sound, if a proper apportionment could be arrived at. But the noble Earl (Lord Camperdown) had shown conclusively that the principle of this Bill was not applicable to Scotland; in other words, that the counties could not be divided into seaboard and not seaboard. That could be done in England, but the geographical position of Scotland was entirely different. Many of the counties, though touching the sea at some point of their border, ran so far inland that a large part of their population was not directly interested in the fishing industry—not more so, in fact, than in counties untouched by the sea. The principle adopted in the Schedule therefore (so far as it could be called a principle) was faulty. It was, however, impossible, as he understood the matter, for their Lordships to alter the Schedule, because they would be altering the incidence of rating, and consequently they had no course, if they disapproved of the Schedule, but to strike it out in the hope that a better might be substituted. It certainly appeared to him that the injustice to the County of the City of Edinburgh was very great. He had been informed that the authorities of the City of Edinburgh did not know that they were to be included in the Bill until Monday last, and in consequence they had come up this week to make their protest in their own way. The noble Lord opposite quoted certain statistics as to the 578 number of fishermen in Edinburgh as compared with Glasgow, but had since candidly told him across the Table that the figures given were for the County of Midlothian and not for the City of Edinburgh. He believed in the City of Edinburgh there was not a single person registered as a fisherman, and, therefore, no apportionment would be satisfactory by which Edinburgh was included and Glasgow excluded. Under the circumstances, he should be obliged to support the proposal of the noble Lord not to agree with the Commons Amendment.
*THE EARL OF GALLOWAY,
in opposing the Motion of the Government, endorsed what had been said by the three noble Lords who had spoken previously, and said that of the counties with which he was acquainted, two—Kirkcudbright and Wigtown—had petitioned against the Bill, and thought it was dead and buried.
§ *LORD PLAYFAIR
explained that the reason why Edinburgh had not originally been specifically included in the Bill was, (hat the Legal Advisors of the Crown thought that Midlothian would cover it, but as some doubt arose as to the County of the City of Edinburgh, it was thought necessary' to introduce the word "Edinburgh." But the inclusion of Edinburgh was not considered by the Government to be a vital part of the Bill. There were other portions which were, in their opinion, vital. If the whole of the Schedule were struck out the machinery for working the Bill would be taken away.
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
said, as their Lordships could not then amend the Schedule they had no course but to strike out this Amendment of the Commons.
§ On Question? their Lordships divided:—Contents 23; Not-Contents 72.
§ *LORD PLAYFAIR
said, he had next to move the adoption of a very elaborate clause in regard to election and assessment. Clause 6 had been struck out, and this long Clause A inserted in its place, to meet some of the objections which their Lordships had taken to the Bill. The first was that it was unfair to put districts in remote parts of counties, 579 and with little actual interest in the fishing industry, to the expense of electing representatives, by a popular vote, to the Fishery Board. This clause rendered it not imperative on them to have a direct election, hut enabled the County Councils, Town Councils, or Police Commissioners to nominate a representative to the Fishery District Board without going to the expense of a popular election. That would he a secondary election, but the fishery localities themselves would have a general election for this purpose. There were a number of small provisions which he need not enter into now. Then came the important assessment question, on which their Lordships differed considerably from the Government. As before, the maximum rate of 1d. was fixed over the whole district. But the maximum was not to be levied until there was an absolute necessity by increased fishery expenditure, and it might be, as in the case of Lancashire, under the English Bill, that a very trifling portion of the 1d. rate would be sufficient for the purpose of the Bill. Certainly, in remote parts of the country the amount required would be an insignificant part of the Id.; and should the hopes of the promoters of the Bill be realised ultimately the proceeds from the working of the mussel-beds would be considerable, and the assessment might amount to almost nothing at all. But, as he had explained, there was a district apportionment of the rate to be paid—those places with a large number of fishing electors would have to pay more, those with fewer having to pay less.
§ *LORD PLAYFAIR
said, it was stated in the Distribution Clause that the Secretary for Scotland should have power to do so. Noble Lords might dispute the wisdom or the ability of the Secretary for Scotland to make such arrangements as Lord Balfour had done, but it was assumed by the Government that he would make such arrangements as would meet the different wants in the counties. The additional safeguard was provided that the County Councils, Town Councils, and Police Commissioners could remonstrate against any rate laid upon them in regard to the expenditure under this clause, and could apply to the Secretary for Scotland, who might thereupon modify the assessment; the Fishery Board being 580 bound to satisfy him that there was a reasonable chance of the expenses being recouped from other sources. In Lord Lothian's Bill of 1890 part of the expenditure was met by Imperial grants in reference to buying mussel-beds and their management, though the general expenditure of the districts was to be paid out of the rates. But really Scotland had less claims to Imperial grants than England for local purposes; for whereas England had no fund provided Scotland had already £20,000 a year voted for its fisheries. It was therefore considered that Scotland had no claim to ask for more. Scotland had the local police of the seas managed out of Imperial grants. Again, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not hear of an increase in the Imperial grants at present, and but little chance existed therefore of getting them for this purpose. Then another general objection taken in the other House was that there might be an assessment over the whole of Scotland. If the objection was valid that remote parts of seaboard counties were unfairly treated by being rated at all, it was surely a greater objection that inland counties with no seaboard should be assessed for those which had. Eight of the counties of Scotland were not included in the Bill, and it would be difficult to defend the principle that a rate of this kind should be raised in one county to be expended in another, the county rated having no direct interest or control in the matter. The two methods of Imperial and local rating were considered in the other House. Imperial taxation could not, of course, be dealt with by their Lordships by substituting it for local taxation, and he therefore moved that they should accept the Commons Amendment.
§ Moved, that the House do not insist upon their Amendment of Clause 6 by inserting Clause A, and that Clause C be substituted for it.
Leave out Clause 6 and insert Clause A.
A—(1.) In each fishery district there shall be a fishery district committee, who shall be a Committee composed of such number of persons (in this Act referred to as 'the members') representing the 'fishing interests' of their district as may be fixed by the Order creating the district, and the Order shall contain Regulations as to the manner of conducting the elections and shall define the qualification of the persons entitled to vote for the election of the members and of the persons entitled to be elected mem-
bers of the fishery district committee, but no person shall be entitled to be elected a member who is not a voter on the county electoral or municipal rolls of voters for the area comprised within the district in which it is proposed to elect him. At every election each voter shall be entitled to so many votes as shall be equal to the number of members to be elected, but he shall not be entitled to give more than one vote to each candidate.
The members shall hold office for three years, unless they shall sooner die or resign office, and any vacancy which may occur amongst them during that period shall be filled by the district committee from amongst those persons entitled by the provisions of this section to be elected.
(2.) A fishery district committee shall, from time to time, elect a chairman, who shall hold office for such period as shall be fixed at the time of his election. The chairman shall have a casting vote as well as a deliberative vote.
(3.) The Order creating a fishery district shall make provision in regard to the time and place of meeting of the fishery district committee and the appointment of its clerk.
The Commons disagree to this clause for the following reason—namely, because the method of rating and the application of the rates proposed by the Bill are just and equitable, but they propose to insert the following Clause C in lieu thereof—namely,
§ (Establishment of Fishery District Committee.)
§ C—(1.) In each fishery district there shall be a fishery district committee, who shall be a Committee composed of such number of members (in this Act referred to as ordinary members) of the County Councils of the counties, and of the Town Councils of the Royal or Parliamentary burghs, and the Police Commissioners of the police burghs, comprised within the district as may be fixed by the Order creating the district, or by any other Order of the Secretary for Scotland, with the addition of an equal number of persons (in this Act referred to as fishery members) representing the fishing interests of the district, and distributed or apportioned among the said counties and burghs and police burghs, or any of them as the Order shall direct.
§ (2.) So soon as an Order creating a district has been made—
- (a.) The ordinary members shall be appointed in accordance therewith by the said County Councils, Town Councils, and Police Commissioners respectively from among their own number, and shall hold office until their successors are appointed.
- (b.) The Secretary for Scotland shall nominate fishery members in accordance therewith, and those person only shall be eligible to be so nominated who shall be included within the term fishing interest' as defined in this Act.
§ (3.)—(a.) In the year 1895, and annually thereafter, there shall be an appointment of ordinary members in the month of December.
§ (b.) In the year 1895, and in every third year thereafter, being the year in which a county 582 electoral roll falls to be prepared under the provisions of the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1889, the fishery members shall be elected (subject to Regulations to be framed, as to nomination, the manner of conducting the elections, and the mode of defraying the cost thereof in so far as not herein provided, by the Secretary for Scotland) by all persons on the County Council and Burgh Registers of voters for the counties, burghs, and police burghs concerned.
§ (c.) The county and burgh assessors respectively, or other persons charged within a fishery district with the duty of the preparation of the County Council and Burgh Registers of voters, shall, in the year 1895, and in every third year thereafter, prefix a distinctive mark (of which they shall have given due notice on the lists published by them) to the number or name of any county or burgh elector whom they shall respectively consider to be entitled, or who shall satisfy them that he is entitled, to be included in the expression fishing interest,' and such county or burgh electors only shall be qualified to be elected as fishery members. It shall be lawful to object to the insertion or omission of the distinctive mark in this section mentioned as nearly as may be in the same manner and subject to the same provisions as to appeal and otherwise as in the case of any other entry in or omission from the register and lists of voters.
§ (d.) At an election each voter shall be entitled to a number of votes equal to the number of members to be elected for the county or burgh or police burgh, or for any two or more of them for which fishery members fall to be elected, and for which he has a vote, but he shall not bo entitled to give more than one vote to any candidate. The returning officers shall be appointed by the respective County Councils, Town Councils, and Police Commissioners concerned.
§ (e.) The elections shall take place together with the elections of County Councillors in counties and of Town Councillors and Police Commissioners in burghs and police burghs respectively in the year 1895, and in every third year thereafter.
§ (4.)—(a.) In the Order creating a fishery district, the Secretary for Scotland may distribute or apportion the fishery members among such portions of counties, and among such burghs and police burghs, or portions thereof as he shall determine, having regard to the direct fishery interests of such portions of counties, burghs, and police burghs. The Order shall also specify the' portions of counties, and the burghs and police burghs, in which, having regard to the extent and amount of the fishing interests, it shall be imperative that the fishery members shall be directly elected by the electors. In all other portions of counties, and in all other burghs and police burghs, it shall be in the power of the County Councils, Town Councils, or Police Commissioners respectively, of the counties, burghs, or police burghs concerned to apply to the Secretary for Scotland for authority to nominate the fishery members, and upon such authority being granted, it shall not be imperative to hold an election. Such authority shall have effect until recalled by the Secretary for Scotland, on a like application.583
§ (b.) Any person to whose number or name a distinctive mark is prefixed as aforesaid in the Register applicable to any part of a fishery district, shall be eligible to be elected or nominated as aforesaid, for any county, or portion of a county, or for any burgh or police burgh, within such fishery district.
§ (5.)—(a.) The fishery members nominated by the Secretary for Scotland shall hold office until the election of their successors in the year 1895, as provided for in this section, and those subsequently elected shall hold office for three years, and any casual vacancies shall be filled by the fishery district committee from among those persons entitled by the provisions of this section to be elected; provided that any person appointed to fill any vacancy shall remain in office so long only as the person in whose room he was appointed would have remained in office.
§ (b.) Where members are appointed in terms of this section by a Town Council of a burgh or Police Commissioners of a police burgh, no County Councillor appointed under the provisions of the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1889, to represent any such burgh or police burgh shall in a County Council vote in such appointment; and where fishery members are elected in terms of this section for a police burgh, the electors within such police burgh shall not be entitled to vote in the election of fishery members for the county.
§ (6.) A fishery district committee shall from time to time elect a chairman who shall hold office for such period as shall be fixed at the time of his election. The chairman shall have a casting vote as well as a deliberative vote.
§ (7.) The Order creating a fishery district shall make provision in regard to the time and place of meeting of the fishery district committee and the appointment of its clerk.
§ (8.)—(a.) The expenses of a fishery district committee may, on the requisition of the said committee, to be made on or before the 31st day of March in any year, be defrayed by a special assessment which shall be distributed or apportioned among the counties or portions thereof, or among the burghs and police burghs comprised within the district, or any of them, in such way having regard to their respective interests as the Order creating the district or any other Order by the Secretary for Scotland shall direct, but so as in no case to exceed 1d. in the £1 of the annual value of all rateable lands and heritages in any such county or portion thereof, or in any such burgh, or police burgh, as ascertained by the Secretary for Scotland in the course of the annual distribution of the Local Taxation (Scotland) Account, and shall be levied and collected accordingly by the said County Councils within counties (excluding police burghs) as an addition to the general purposes rate, and by the said Town Councils acting as such or as Police Commissioners, and by the said Police Commissioners of police burghs in the manner prescribed by and subject to the provisions of the Act 41st & 42nd Vict., c. 74, sec. 70, sub-sec. 3, and the amounts so collected shall on or before the loth day of January next ensuing be paid to the fishery district committee without any deductions whatever.584
§ (b.) The special assessment aforesaid shall in the first place be applied in payment of the costs of the preparation of the roll and the election of the fishery members, and of all other costs connected with the bringing of this Act into operation, and with the future conduct and management of the business of the committee and the payment of the clerk; and in case the committee approve, it may be applied to the reasonable travelling expenses of members of the committee.
§ It may also be applied in the second place for the other purposes of the Act.
§ (c) If any County Council or Town Council, or Police Commissioners of any county, burgh, or police burgh comprised within a fishery district, and liable to contribute to the aforesaid special assessment, resolve that the amount of the assessment recommended to be imposed by the fishery district committee is excessive, they may severally make a representation to the Secretary for Scotland, who shall take into consideration any such representation, duly signed and transmitted to him on or before the 1st day of August in any year, and may cause a local inquiry to be held, subject to the provisions of Section 93, Sub-sections (1) and (3) of the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1889, and, having regard to the nature and amount of the costs or charges incurred or to be incurred by the committee, the benefits expected to result therefrom, the prospect of ultimate recoupment, and the other circumstances of the case, shall determine what assessment (not exceeding the assessment recommended to be imposed by the fishery district committee) ought to be imposed, and his determination shall be final for the time being, and the assessment so determined shall be levied and collected and paid in terms of this section as the assessment for the year, but shall not be exceeded in that year, or, if so provided in the determination, in any of the three following local financial years; provided that no County Councillor appointed under the provisions of the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1889, to represent any burgh or police burgh, shall in a County Council or its committees vote upon a proposal to pass a resolution in terms of this sub-section."—(The Lord Playfair.)
*THE DUKE OF RICHMOND AND GORDON
said, this was one of the most unjust Bills that had ever come before the House, and as to the statement in Clause 2 of the Commons Reasons—Because the methods of rating proposed by the Bill were just and equitable,they were neither one nor the other. From the noble Lord's statement that the inclusion of Edinburgh was not of so much importance after all, it seemed as if he was inclined to leave it out altogether. What the arguments were which the three gentlemen from Edinburgh had laid before him bad not been stated. In reference to Imperial grants, the noble 585 Lord had quoted the cases in which Scotland had received grants, but he presumed those grants would not have been made if Scotland had not deserved them. It was not right to say that because Scotland had received grants justly in certain matters she was to be unjustly treated in others. That was a kind of logic he could not understand. He wished the noble Lord would sometimes forget the English Act. Their Lordships wanted to know what this measure was going to do for Scotland. By way of illustrating the hardship which would be inflicted, he instanced the southern part of Banff, which was many miles away from the sea coast— some parts of it were 90 miles from the sea, and the people there hardly knew what a fish (except salmon) was. The people of southern Banff were not benefited in any way, and he asked—Why should they be taxed for the benefit of those who lived on the coast? He could not for the life of him see any justification for such a proposal. Then the purposes for which the money was to be raised seemed to him to involve injustice. Why should the people of southern Banff be taxed to pay the travelling expenses of the members of the committee? He should support the Amendment to disagree from the Amendment of the House of Commons.
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
said, the statement that the methods of raising the rates wore just and equitable was remarkably bold in the circumstances. Many Gladstonian Members now saw that the application of the money was inequitable, and this change had been the result of communication with their constituents. He instanced Dr. Earquharson and Mr. H. Paul, who saw that what was proposed was exceedingly unjust. The whole Scotch Press was against this Bill, and even the Glasgow papers were opposed to it. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Bryce) had fallen into very bad times lately, but perhaps the most unhappy time he had passed had been with his own constituents upon this matter on the 25th of January last. All the Public Authorities of Aberdeen, Town Council Harbour Authority, and Chamber of Commerce were violently opposed to the Hill, and their meeting with Mr. Bryce was rather amusing. He was 586 worried, hunted, and "heckled" in a way he would not soon forget. They told him that—Aberdeen went in for equality and justice in the taxation, and that they would not submit to either unjust taxation or unjust laws.That was at the close of arguments of the strongest character. Passing on to the Amendment itself, the kernel of the matter was the rate, leaving the question of the elections for the present. The rate was to be raised by a special assessment apportioned among the counties according to their respective interests, as the Order should direct. It would be collected by precept; the Town and County Councils would have no control over it, and it would be paid over to the fishery district without any deductions whatever. Thereupon it would be applied to certain purposes, one of which introduced a principle never up to this time recognised or sanctioned—payment of the travelling expenses of the members of the committee. That had been inserted in the Bill since it loft their Lordships' House. Any dissatisfied Town or County Council might complain to the Secretary for Scotland, who should make inquiries and determine what the assessment should be, his decision to be absolutely final. The noble Lord asked whether they distrusted the Secretary for Scotland? Considering that the Secretary for Scotland had in the Schedule enacted that the sea was not where it was, and was where it was not, he was not quite prepared to give him a blank cheque in the matter of how these districts were to be rated. It was by no means certain that he knew so well the wants of Scotland that he would be able rightly to apportion this taxation among the hills and dales and so a coast places. There was risk that parts of Scotland might be somewhat unjustly rated. The noble Lord had said the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not hear of Imperial grants at present. That was not very consoling to the people in Scotland. Was that any reason why they should be taxed by a body of which they did not approve —an irresponsible body, by whom the money was to be taken out of their pockets? For those reasons he asked their Lordships not to agree to this new clause.
THE MARQUESS OF HUNTLY
said, the new clause was viewed with greater 587 alarm than the one originally in the Bill. The amount of work the new clause would throw upon the Scotch Office suggested the question, whether it was intended to double the number of clerks in the Secretary's Department? The new clause gave full power to the Secretary for Scotland to levy the rate and to apportion the rateable areas. There would be infinite trouble and difficulty in determining the areas and the proportions of the rate they were to bear where, in some cases, a penny was to be levied, and sometimes only a fraction of a penny. A Return just distributed showed that even a penny rate on the area proposed to be rated would yield £52,000 a year. Just imagine such a sum being laid on the ratepayers of Scotland for such purposes ! As it stood, this clause was looked upon with greater disfavour than the original clause. Of course, a District Committee would vote the payment of its own expenses when the matter was left within its own discretion. He hoped their Lordships would not agree to this new proposal, but would adhere to the Amendment which he had moved. It was absurd to propose that a body representing a part of a county should be empowered to tax a whole county for the benefit of the part.
*LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
said, the Government had adopted an extremely inconvenient course, both on the former occasion, about which enough had been said, and now. The noble Lord in charge of the Bill had taken great credit for the adoption of 40 of their Lordships' Amendments by the other House, while they only disagreed with six. But there were Amendments and Amendments—some were merely drafting or verbal, while others were of great importance. This new clause of 175 lines, with its eight sections and 15 sub-sections, was not a clause, but it was a whole Bill in itself, dealing with several distinct matters, each of which required a clause to itself. There were in this clause provisions its to the order for bringing the Act into force—registration of voters, elections, finance, and for assessment. There was much in the clause he could agree with; but there were two provisions he altogether objected to. The first was the constitution of the authority which was to levy the rate, because one-half of the members of these fishery com- 588 mittees were to be interested themselves in the spending of the money produced by the rate. To say that they represented the ratepayers, was very like saying that a committee nominated from among the supporters of the Government in that House would be representative of the House itself. Half these committees would be representative of but a small minority of people all interested in one direction. The second provision he objected to was that there should be any appeal on matters of rating being made to the Secretary for Scotland. No Government Department ought to have anything to do with the levying of a local rate. That was a matter which ought to be left exclusively to those who were elected by all the ratepayers. Some of the purposes to which it was proposed to apply this assessment wore objectionable. Speaking for the Marquess of Lothian, who was unavoidably absent, as well as for himself, he said there was no objection to the payment of the salaries of necessary officials, or of expenses for elections and for administration, hut there was strong objection to inland residents being rated for speculations in mussel-beds. If there was to be a charge at all in that direction it ought to be imposed upon Imperial funds. He did not think that any County Council but that of Banff would pass a resolution in favour of the Bill as it stood; and a majority of the mercantile communities on the eastern seaboard had petitioned against it. What was most unjust was that persons interested in the expenditure of the rate should be so largely represented on the committees. If there must be committees, and if they must have rating powers, those who were directly interested in the fishing industry, and therefore in the expenditure of the rate, ought not to have so large a representation.
§ *LORD PLAYFAIR
said, in reference to Lord Huntly's statement that it was proposed to rate these Scotch counties at 1d. in the £1, which would amount to £52,000, that a 1d. rate was the proposed maximum, but there was no idea that that maximum would be reached. The Government had tried to follow as closely as they could the English Act, which was passed by a Conservative Government, and surely the best thing they could do was to be guided by actual experience. In nine out of ten English districts the 589 expenditure had been very small in comparison with the valuation—only about £300 per annum; and in Scotland, too, there was reason to believe that the rating for this purpose would be insignificant compared with the valuation. This clause containing the assessment powers was excessively important. It was, in fact, the vital part of the Bill. It would be perfectly useless going on with the Bill without having any money to carry out its purposes. What was the use of setting up elaborate machinery if they were prohibited from having the power of getting the necessary fuel to use that machinery? If the Assessment Clauses were struck out it would be impossible to go on with the Bill.
§ On Question? that this House do insist on their Amendments to Clause 6, and do not agree to the Amendment made by the Commons in lieu thereof,—[The Earl of Camperdown]:—their Lordships divided:—Contents 60; Not-Contents 20.
§ *LORD PLAYFAIR
said, he did not know that it was worth while detaining their Lordships with regard to the other clauses upon which the Commons had disagreed—at all events by dividing upon them. The first dealt with the right or title to mussel or clam-beds, and provided that claims to any such right or title should be intimated to the Board of Trade, and should be enforced against the Commissioners of Woods and Forests by action of declarator. Though the mussel-beds were part of the patrimony of the Crown, by charier or by general grant they had in some cases been made over to private individuals, and accordingly the first clause had been inserted in lieu of Clause 10 omitted by the Lords. It was merely technical, calling upon persons to show their titles.
In lieu of Clause 10 omitted by the Lords the Commons propose to insert the following clause:—"Any person having or claiming to have a right or title to mussel or clam fisheries, or mussel or clam-beds or scalps in the sea adjoining Scotland, and within the exclusive fishery limits of the British Islands, shall, within a period of two years from the passing of this Act, lodge with the Hoard of Trade a copy of or an extract from any charter, conveyance, lease, deed, or other document which instructs or is founded upon as instructing his
right or title to the same, along with a chart or charts of the mussel or clam fisheries or beds or scalps so claimed, and shall at the same time notify in writing to the Commissioners of Her Majesty's Woods, Forests, and Land Revenues that such copy or extract has been lodged, and all mussel or clam fisheries or beds or scalps which at the expiry of a period of two years shall not. be so claimed, shall be held to vest in and belong to the Crown, and shall be treated accordingly.
In case the Commissioners of Her Majesty's Woods, Forests, and Land Revenues shall intimate in writing to a claimant that they are neutral in respect to the claim made by him, the said Commissioners need not be called as defenders in any action, nor need notice of any subsequent proceedings relating solely to such claim be served on the said Commissioners.
In the event of the Commissioners of Her Majesty's Woods, Forests, and Land Revenues intimating to a claimant that the same mussel or clam fisheries, or mussel or clam-beds or scalps, or any part thereof comprised in his claim are claimed as the property of Her Majesty, or in the event of the right or title of any person to such mussel or clam fisheries or beds or scalps not, being instructed to the satisfaction of the Board of Trade, the person making such claim shall, in the event of his insisting in it. bring an action of declarator of his right in the Court of Session, in which in the event first mentioned the Commissioners of Her Majesty's Woods, Forests, and Land Revenues shall be called as defenders, and in the event second mentioned the Board of Trade shall be called as defenders, and if the claimant shall fail to bring such action within a period of 12 months from the date of the intimation of the claim by the Commissioners on behalf of Her Majesty or from the date of the intimation by the Board of Trade declining to admit the claim, the mussel or clam fisheries or beds or scalps in question shall be held to vest in and belong to the Crown, and shall be held to be within the management of the Commissioners of Woods or the' Board of 'trade, as the case may be."—(The Lord Playfair.)
*LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
said, that on a former occasion two distinct clauses on the subject had engaged the attention of the House, and he had moved the omission of one of them, thinking that it was more objectionable than the other. He understood the noble Lord to accept that proposal at the time, and he, therefore, said nothing more. Subsequently, however, another noble Lord had moved the omission of both, but he had felt himself bound by the acceptance of the Motion he had made, He was now prepared to ask the House to disagree with the latter part of the clause which had been inserted by the other House in place of Clause 591 10, and, if that proposal were accepted, he would not dissent with the first two paragraphs of the new clause.
§ Moved to omit the last paragraph of the clause.—(The Lord Balfour of Burleigh.)
THE MARQUESS OF HUNTLY
said, that he would have been prepared to move the rejection of the whole of the clause which the Commons had inserted, but he would accept the suggestion just made by the noble Lord to leave out the last paragraph.
§ *LORD PLAYFAIR
said, the latter part of the clause was re-inserted in the other House by a majority of 77, and he was obliged to deal with the clause as it had been sent up by the House of Commons. They had sent it up in this form, and ho had no power of dealing with it except as a whole. He hoped their Lordships, therefore, would not insist upon Clause 10.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ *LORD PLAYFAIR
said, the next Amendments were consequential on what had already been done, so he would not divide on them.
§ A Committee appointed to prepare Reasons to be offered to the Commons for the Lords insisting on certain of their Amendments; The Committee to meet forthwith.