§ On the Reports of Amendments,
THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN moved, Clause 4, page 2, line 6, after Sub-section 1, to insert as a new sub-section:—
It shall be lawful for the Secretary for Scotland to appoint a Scientific Superintendent, who shall hold office during pleasure, and be paid such salary as may be determined by the Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury. The Superintendent shall, under the directions of the Fishery Board, conduct and supervise such scientific inquiries as the Board may deem necessary in carrying out the provisions of the Herring Fishery and Sea Fishery Acts.
There was at present a Scientific Superintendent, and he was entirely under the orders of the Fishery Board in Scotland; he was appointed by the Fishery Board, he acted under their orders in all his work, and he was liable to be dismissed by them on three months' notice. Their Lordships would easily understand that, in the course of his duties, it was quite possible he might now and again be obliged to give evidence, with regard to the fishing questions, which might give offence to the trawling interest on the one side, or to the line or net fishermen on the other side. Under those circumstances, his position as Superintendent, carrying on most interesting work, was somewhat precarious. All he proposed was that, instead of the Superintendent being either appointed or dismissed by the Fishery Board, he should be appointed or dismissed by the Secretary for Scotland. His intention was, that there should be no extra charge whatever on the public fund in the shape of a payment of the superintendent's salary. There was a Scientific Vote now paid to the Fishery Board of Scotland amounting to £1,800
a year, but of that £300 was paid to the Scientific Superintendent. He suggested that a small alteration should be made whereby £1,500 should be paid to the Fishery Board, and the salary of the Scientific Superintendent should be paid directly by the Treasury to the extent of £300 a year. It had been pointed out that the words "who shall hold office during pleasure" would practically mean that the appointment would be a permanent one. That was not his intention. He was sure that in the public interest it was very desirable the position of Superintendent should be made more permanent and less subject to any catch vote of a small body on the Fishery Board.
§ *THE LORD PRIVY SEAL (Lord TWEEDMOUTH)
said, it was not from any feeling of failureon the part of Dr. Fulton, who at present fulfilled the office of Scientific Superintendent, that he asked their Lordships not to accept the Amendment. Dr. Fulton had done excellent work; he had carried on the scientific work of the Board with the greatest success and advantage. But the proposal made in the Amendment was to take the appointment of one of the officers of the Board out of the hands of the Board altogether, and put it in the hands of the Secretary for Scotland. The Secretary for Scotland already appointed all the members of the Board, and the Board had full charge and responsibility with regard to all fishery matters in Scotland. The question, of the relation of the scientific department to the Board, and the other parts and duties of the Board, must necessarily sometimes be of a somewhat delicate character, and it seemed to him it would be a very undesirable thing for Parliament to interfere between the Board and one of itsown officers. Surely it was a right thing that the Board should decide exactly in what way its own Scientific Superintendent should carry out the scientific work of the Board. To direct that the Scientific Superintendent should be altogether irresponsible to the Board would show a want of confidence in the Board, and really imply that the Board was not fit to carry on one of its! most important functions, namely, the exact manner in which the scientific department of the Board was to he carried on. He hoped the House would not accept the Amendment, which would 1002 do much to undermine the powers of discipline of the Board itself over its subordinates.
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
was sorry to hear the objections taken by the noble Lord to the proposition of the noble Marquess. The noble Lord said the adoption of the Amendment would imply a doubt as to the fidelity of the Board. The noble Lord himself casts a doubt on the fidelity of the present Board, for he wants to reconstitute it completely. [Lord TWEEDMOUTH: "No." Yes; he proposed to reduce the number from nine to seven, and, of the seven, four were to be professional fishermen. He believed there was some not unnatural jealousy between the fishery members and the scientific members of the Board. Fishermen often took very much amiss the discoveries of science. He had heard a story, which he believed to be authentic, that when Professor MacIntosh, one of the most distinguished authorities in Scotland on marine biology, promulgated more certainly and absolutely the fact that the food fishes deposited their spawn in the open sea, and not on the bottom, the local fishermen were so angry that they burnt the Professor's effigy. That was the way in which uneducated men, full of prejudices with regard to the migrations of fish which they could not follow, looked upon scientific investigations and facts. It took a long time to drive the facts into their heads, and he had no great confidence in a Board of fishermen with a Chairman who was to a large extent a politician. If his noble Friend divided, he should support him in urging upon the Government that the scientific officer should be independent with respect to the Board, and under the Secretary for Scotland.
§ The House divided on the Question that the proposed words be added:—Contents 76; Not-Contents 37.
§ THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN moved, in page 2, lines 30 and 32, after the word "county" to insert the word "or."
§ Amendment agreed to.
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
said, that he had not given notice of any Amendment for the best of all reasons—that he 1003 did not see how the clause could be amended properly without omitting the whole subsection to which he was going to call attention. In Subsection "B" of Clause 6 there was a most extraordinary method proposed of defining a constituency. It differed entirely from the English Act, in which the Local District Committees were named by the District and County Councils. Under this subsection the constituency was selected by the county and burgh assessors, who were to go round and fix a number of distinctive marks against the name of any county or burgh elector whom they might consider entitled to come within the expression "fishing interests." That meant that the officers who were simply charged with recording the list of voters were to be given power to select from among the voters such persons as they thought proper to be electors for the District Committees. He had never heard of such a proposal in any Act of Parliament. Why were the County Councils not fit to nominate those who were to represent these fishing interests in their own area? He did not know where the noble Lord got such a provision from.
§ *LORD TWEEDMOUTH
said, that the District Committees were made up of two different sorts of members. Half of the members were appointed by the County and Town Councils from among themselves, and half were to be elected by the members of the fishing interests within the districts which the District Committee was to regulate. He would admit that there was a certain difficulty in finding a way in which this could be done. There was a recent precedent for starring individual members of the register who should vote for a particular purpose. That proposal was adopted here; and it was provided that, on the register, a star should be prefixed to the names of those persons who came under the definition of members of the fishing interest. For the purpose of the election of members of the fishing interest to the District Committees, those men alone would have an extra vote. The poll was taken at the same time as the County Council elections. Those who had a star against their name voted at the same time for a fishery member. That proposal did not come into force until 1898. Up to the year 1898, the 1004 Secretary for Scotland nominated the fishery members of the District Committees, in the same way as the Board of Trade nominated the fishery members of the English District Committees. He admitted that this provision in the Bill differed from the English Act.
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
thought that the English Act was sound in principle; but if the Government were going to have an elected element, the constituency that was to elect should be known to some publicly constituted authority. Under the Bill, the Government gave the power to elect to the local assessors. Was this fair to a great public interest? The fishing interest of Scotland was a large one, worth £1,600,000 annually. It was, therefore, by no means unimportant that they should be fairly and truly represented. He suggested that the Government should allow the County Councils to elect the members. He had before objected to the vague and unsatisfactory definition of the fishery interest as "owners of fisheries." There was no such expression applicable to the industry. There were owners of salmon fisheries and owners of mussel beds and oyster beds, but there was no such thing as the owner of a white fishery.
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
"But you do not say so." He repeated that the fishery interest of Scotland was quite capable of being classified. There was the herring fishery, the seine-net fisheries, the drift-net fisheries; but the white, fisheries were different. If the Government wished a genuine representation of the fishery interest they ought to secure a representation of the great divisions which embraced the great capitalists of the fishing industry. There was, however, no security in the Bill that they would be duly represented.
§ *LORD TWEEDMOUTH
said, that so far as the representation of the County and Town Councils on the District Committees was concerned, the Bill was exactly on the same lines as the English Bill. The Town and County Councils were represented in the same manner as in England at this moment. The difference was in regard to the members of the District Committees who represented the fishery interests.
§ *LORD TWEEDMOUTH
The noble Duke found fault with the representation given to the Town and County Councils. ["No, no!"]
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
I object that you do not give to the County and Town Councils the power of choosing the constituency who might fairly represent the fishing interest.
§ *LORD TWEEDMOUTH
said, the Bill laid down the same conditions as the English Bill. The Town and County Councils in England did not nominate the representatives of the fishing interest. The representatives of the fishing interest on the English District Committees were nominated by the Board of Trade. The difference arose when they came to the question of members representing the fishing interest. It was thought better by the Government that the fishing interests themselves should be directly represented by their own votes on their own District Committees, rather than that it should be left to a Minister to nominate representatives of a particular interest, backed up by outside advice. The Government, therefore, tried to devise a scheme by which those fishing interests should directly vote for their own representatives on the District Committee. They provided that the number of Fishery representatives on a District Committee should not exceed half of the total number of members of the Committee; it might be as many less as the Secretary for Scotland chose to set out in his Order for the district. But the Government found it needful to find a method by which the fishery interests should be represented on those Committees. They thought that the best plan was to take the County Council roll of voters, and to make arrangements by which a particular mark should be made against the names appearing on that register who belonged in any sense to the fishing interest. The criticism of the noble Duke with regard to the definition clause was rather that it was too wide, and not too narrow. This clause had been carefully considered by a Select Committee, and no objection was there raised to it. He hoped that the House would support the decision of the Select Committee rather than adopt the hypercritical attitude of the noble Duke.
THE MAHQUESS OF SALISBURY
said, he could not believe that the noble Lord was really so successful in misunderstanding the noble Duke as he had tried to represent. The noble Duke's objection was that the man who selected the constituency selected the member. The men who starred those special fishery interests practically selected the persons who were to represent them. Why were those particular officials to have this power of election, which was given to no other officials? If he might believe the lectures which he had received from the Bench opposite, the peculiar mark of noble Lords opposite was that they trusted the people. Why, then, did they trust the assessors in this case instead of the people? This proposal was like conferring on the Vestry clerks of London the duty of electing County Councils. There was no ground why the assessors should be given this enormous power. If they exercised it with integrity and wisdom no harm would be done; but in this country they watched official jurisdiction carefully, because they could never say whether it would be exercised with integrity and wisdom. There was no difficulty whatever in setting this matter right. The Government had nothing to do but to direct the County Council to select a certain number of members to represent the fishery interests. The County Councils would then, themselves, see what were the proper constituencies to elect those fishing representatives; and thus the election would not be carried out by special officials whom they had invested with this very unusual power. The election would be conducted on the only lines on which elections were conducted now; and no difficulty would arise.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (LOKD HERSCHELL)
said, that the persons charged with the duty were—(b.) 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 (including the registers of police burghs) shall, in the year one thousand eight hundred and ninety-eight, 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 interests.' It shall be lawful 1007 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 subjeet 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.Therefore, the same persons who prepared the register for the fishery elections were the same as those who prepared the register for the County Council elections; and any objection might be taken in the same way as in the other.
§ LOUD HALSBURY
said, that those who prepared the register had definite legal principles to guide them on which they must act. Persons who had the Franchise were recognised by the law and surrounded by certain safeguards. What was the fact which the assessors had to ascertain here?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
Whether the persons came within the description of Clause 27 (Definition Clause).
§ *LORD TWEEDMOUTH
said, that to adopt the suggestion of the noble Marquess would be to throw the whole representation of the District Committees into the hands of the Town Councils and the County Councils. The County Councils nominated one-half of the District Committees, and the object was to get the other half composed of persons who would really represent the fishing interests. This was not the course adopted by the noble Marquis with regard to the English Bill, which provided that the fishing interest should be represented in a way entirely separate from the Town or County Councils. Town Councils chose one-half and the Board of Trade nominated the other half to be chosen from people concerned in the fishing interests, and that had been adopted for the next three years in this Bill. He ventured to hope that their Lordships would allow the clause to pass as it stood.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
said that, inasmuch as what the noble Lord had just stated appeared to be conclusive to the noble Duke, he would pass on to Clause 10 of the Bill, and he moved to insert in Clause 10, page 7, line 33, after the word "areas," the words, "under the jurisdiction of Her Majesty." The Amendment which he proposed in Clause 10 was to limit the difficulty which was encountered in Committee, when the stringent remedy was 1008 proposed to strike the clause out altogether. But he did not like to strike the clause out altogether. His impression, however, was that the law was a little confused in regard to this matter. If the trawlers were admitted within the three-mile limit, there was no doubt that the industry of line fishermen would be crushed out in a great many places. Though that was a kind of protectionist doctrine strange to hear from the Benches opposite, yet there was no doubt that some kind of protection might be legitimately given to these smaller industries. He could not entirely agree with the proposal of the noble Lord, and thought it would be the subject of great misconception on the part of those affected by it; and the proposal in the Bill would expose the line fishermen to very grave dangers. As the Bill stood, there was nothing to prevent a stretch of sea being declared in which the foreigner may trawl and the Englishman may not. He could not conceive that that state of things would be endured. Would it be reasonable, if a trawler were sighted some five miles from land, and a Queen's ship were sent out to stop her, that while the vessel was being brought in, a French trawler should be able to come in and take fish on exactly the same ground with impunity? He felt quite sure that there would be an outburst of extreme indignation, not only from the population immediately concerned, but from all along the coast, if such a scandal were committed. What was proposed was, that the House should not affect to forbid trawling except in those areas of water over which Her Majesty had jurisdiction, and it seemed to him rather doubtful whether it would not be straining a point in international law if they were to forbid, even our own subjects, waters over which we have no jurisdiction. But, even supposing it were possible, it would be a scandal to do so, when the very same waters would be open to foreign trawlers whenever they pleased. There would be serious difficulties in the practical working of the noble Lord's arrangements, and one was that English ships would provide them selves with the requisite documents in order that they might fly the French flag when they liked. The moment a 1009 Queen's ship went out to stop a vessel, the French flag would be flown, and by statute there was no power to inquire into the nationality of the vessel, which professed to be a French one. The French had always jealously refused the right of search, and he thought, therefore, that the noble Lord's arrangements would break down in practice, though the breaking down in practice would be a lesser scandal than if it succeeded. If it did succeed, it was evident that the whole of the trawling industry would have to put itself under foreign flags. That would be the only remedy open to them. He had been told that on the east coast his Amendment would not make a very great difference in the practice which prevailed in existing bylaws. This Bill did not deal with the east coast of Scotland only, but with the north coast, and the whole of that area of waters, in fact, which was governed by the Highland coast. And the proposals of the Bill practically came to a limitation of 15 miles, in which Englishmen could not trawl, but where the foreigner might without question. Such a proposition was intolerable, and it would create great discontent by reason of English fishermen being placed at great disadvantage as compared with the foreigner.
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
said he should be sorry to strike out the clause if it would open the three-mile limit to all comers, but he did not think it would have that effect. Still the only object of the clause was to get in the 18 miles, so as to exclude trawlers altogether from a large circle of water on which they could now operate.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
said, that if the Bill were passed as proposed, the law would be a little doubtful, and his object was not to incur that doubt. He did not wish the line fishermen to think that their interests had been neglected.
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
said, he wished to say a few words on the principle involved in the clause. It might be recollected that when the Debate took place, he ventured to defend trawling against the old objection which used to be taken—that it destroyed immature fish and spawn; and pointed out to the House that those objections had been proved to be completely fallacious by the 1010 discovery that the food fish spawned in the open sea, and by the fact that the line fishermen caught immature fish as well as the trawlers. What objections remained to trawling after those old-fashioned objections had been disposed of? The fact was there was no solid objection to trawling, except that it caught too many fish, and employed too few men. That was an objection which had been used against machinery by the Socialist party, and by unconscious Socialists for centuries, whenever new machinery was invented. But was that the principle upon which the House was going to act in these times? The object of this Bill had altogether been to extend the area beyond the territorial waters, and prevent trawlers catching a good many fish with the greatest economy of labour. He was not one of those political economists who belonged to what was called the Laissez-faire school, and had always supported the whole series of legislation which had gone under the name of the Factory Acts, and the Shaftesbury Legislation, the end of which they had not yet seen. He admitted that Parliament had a right to interfere with the exercise of individual liberty where that liberty interfered with the life or the health of the subject; and, after all, surely there were some truths which political economy had firmly established—truths as certain as any of the physical sciences could be, and one of them was, that it was the absolute tendency in all mankind to get the largest possible result out of a given amount of labour. That result was the cause and the origin of machinery which always did displace labour for a time, and was bound to operate hardly upon a few. But such principles did not find favour in that House, and he should be surprised to find that there were any Members of that House disposed to adopt principles which had now become perfectly irrelevant. Peace be to its ashes! He believed that, if this principle had been applied to labour, it would not have received a majority in the County Council. This was his principle objection to the clause. Turning now to the magnitude of the interests involved, the noble Lord opposite had spoken the other day of beam-trawling as, after all, an inferior branch of the Scotch industry, as to quantity. 1011 The noble Lord could not have read one of the last Reports of the Scotch Fishery Board, that for 1893, published in 1894, for that Report showed that beam-trawling and the produce of it was rapidly increasing, and was, year by year, becoming one of the main items of the Scotch fishing industry. Moreover, the Report showed that, in those waters which had been closed by way of experiment, there was no proof that any good had been done to line-fishing. There was another table in that Report, which showed how serious it was for Parliament to interfere with the new and rising industry of beam-trawling. He had to present to the House that night a Petition from the Leith Dock Company, a powerful Corporation, imploring their Lordships not to pass this Bill, and pointing out that they were executing extensive improvements at the harbour of New-haven to accommodate the trawlers. The truth was, that year after year there was a larger amount of capital being employed in this industry. The vessels were getting larger, the engines more powerful, the whole of the machinery more scientific; and they were catching a larger amount of fish every year. The line fishermen were helpless against this competition. Was the House to stop an industry like this for the sake of a few fishing villages? He begged the House also to remember the effect upon the food supply of the people. The trawl did not merely catch the prime fish which were consumed at West End tables; along with the prime fish there was a large amount of inferior fish, which were largely used by the poorer classes, and were very good for food. Small flounders, for instance, were caught in large quantities by the trawlers, and formed an invaluable source of food for the poorer classes. In his own district he could speak of the injurious effect on the food supply of the people, which the closing of the waters to trawlers had had. In one part where he had fished he remembered that there were trawlers every night. All that was stopped, but the line fishermen would not catch those fish. They could not be caught with a line, and were simply left at the bottom of the sea to rot or to feed other fish. He trusted that the House would pause before passing a Bill which would have the effoct of injuring a great and growing 1012 industry in Scotland, and of limiting the food supply of the people. If these evils could be prevented by adopting the Amendment of the noble Marquess, he would be entirely satisfied. He confessed himself somewhat doubtful as to the effect of the Amendment, but he intended to vote for it.
THE MARQUESS OF HUNTLY
thought, that the noble Duke's speech should have been made the other night on his (the speaker's) Motion to omit the clause. His objection to the Amendment of the noble Marquess was, that it did not in any way alter the existing law, by which all trawling in territorial waters was declared to be illegal. The words proposed by the noble Marquess really carried the matter no further, the waters referrred to being already excluded from the operations of the trawl. He had himself put an Amendment on the Paper providing that the by-laws referred to in Clause 10 of the Bill should not come into force until the convention or arrangement with regard to sea fisheries, concluded in 1882, between Her Majesty and certain Foreign States—and which had since come into force and been embodied in the Sea Fisheries Act, 1883—should be so extended as to prohibit the subjects of Foreign States from engaging in beam and other trawling in the waters which by such by-law or by-laws should be closed to British subjects. He thought that this proposal would better meet the case.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
expressed regret that he had not been present at the Debate the other night. He hoped that the noble Marquess would insist upon a Division. He thought that the interests of the fishing classes of the East coast of England had to a great extent been overlooked in the discussion. He had it on the authority of the Member for Tynemouth that in the Tyne ports of North and South Shields Clause 10 was viewed with dismay. He had also been informed by Mr. Heneage that similar apprehension existed in the minds of the trawling fishermen of Grimsby. He had no doubt that a similar apprehension existed in other centres on the East and North-east coasts. The fishermen at these ports travelled great distances in the pursuit of their vocation, and made use of the seas adjoining the Scotch 1013 coast. The noble Marquess had not exaggerated when he drew attention to the fact that under the clause as it stood an English fisherman might be chased by an English gunboat, and the ground consequently left clear for trawlers of any other nation—French, Belgian, German, or Dutch. The only alternatives left to the fishermen of this country were, either to sail under a foreign flag, or to get rid of their trawling boats and remove their business to some other country. This would have a very serious effect upon the industry. What use were the local inquiries to the trawlers on the East coast of England? In all probability the local inquiry would only be advertised in the local Scotch paper, and these men would never see it; or even if they did, was it likely that they would travel up to Scotland in order to put their grievances before the Local Board? Then again, how was the English trawler to know whether he was outside the 18-mile limit, particularly in hazy weather? Could anything be more unfair than to permit the foreigner to fish within this radius, and to have, so to speak, the first run of the markets, while our own fishermen could not do so? What guarantee was there that the foreigner would not take advantage of this? He believed so lately as last year two German fishing-boats were seen in the Moray Firth evidently endeavouring to spy out the nakedness of the land. At the present moment our fishing industries were very heavily handicapped, and this Bill proposed to handicap them even more severely. So far as Germany was concerned, they had but the Lady Godiva case to look back to, while the new law enacted by the Danish Government proved what was our position with regard to Iceland; and lately in France import duties had been levied on fish caught by foreign vessels there. He believed there was no question on the 18-mile limit raised before the Select Committee of last year, that the witnesses examined suggested no more than a nine-mile limit, and that this limit was not mentioned in the report. If the Amendment were not carried he should feel it his duty to move the rejection of the entire clause.
§ *LORD TWEEDMOUTH
said, he felt he was very bold to venture to dispute 1014 the sic volo sic jubeo of the noble Marquess, because if he determined that this clause should be rejected his determination would be carried into effect.
§ *LORD TWEEDMOUTH
said, that trawling was already prohibited within the three-mile limit absolutely as far as Scotland was concerned by the Act of 1889, and he admitted that under this Bill there would be certain waters in which foreigners could trawl and Scotch and English vessels could not. If the noble Marquess carried this Amendment the clause would be so much waste paper. In answer to the Duke of Argyll he pointed out that very great damage was done by trawlers, particularly in waters near the coast, to the nets and lines of fishermen, and especially to those of the herring fishermen. The noble Duke, in trying to show the importance of the trawling industry in Scotland, had forgotten, he thought, that the main Scotch fishing industry was the herring fishing. Of the total amount of fish caught in Scotland, 72 per cent. were net-caught fish, and of those no less than 71 per cent. were herring. A great deal of the opposition to the Bill proceeded from Aberdeen, the happy home of Scotch steam trawling, but there was no part of Scotland which was so interested in the herring fishing as the Aberdeen district. Last year the value of the herring caught in the three districts of Fraserburgh, Peterhead, and Aberdeen amounted to no less than £819,711, or practically half the value of the total amount of fish caught all over Scotland. The area of the herring nets in use in Scotland was no less than 164 millions of square yards, and the total amount of the lines in daily use during the winter months was 82 million yards, or enough to go 1¾ times round the globe. That was the amount of the gear which they wished to protect, not unfairly or by giving any undue preference. It might really be supposed from the speeches they had heard that it was proposed to close the whole of the North Sea to trawlers instead of a mere strip along the coast of Scotland. Lord Londonderry was not correct in saying that this question, of the territorial waters had not been raised before the Committee of the House of Commons which 1015 sat to consider Sea Fishery Questions in 1893, and of which he (Lord Tweedmouth) was chairman. It was a point that was constantly raised before the Committee, and it formed one of the recommendations of the Committee. The Committee recommended that it would be desirable to extend the territorial waters for fishing purposes only, and that if it were done it would be well to get the other nations to agree to it. But there was one curious point to which he desired to direct the attention of their Lordships. At that very moment the trawlers, who were opposing the Bill, were pressing another Bill for prohibiting the sale and capture of immature fish on the House of Commons, which differentiated between British and foreign fishermen exactly in the same way as this Bill proposed; and yet, while those trawlers were grumbling and growling as the other Bill was not being pushed forward with greater rapidity in the House of Commons, they opposed exactly similar provisions in this Bill, because they thought it would shut them out of a very small area of the water off the Scotch coast. He, however, did not want to take up a non possumus line on the question. He felt that concession after concession had been made in regard to the Bill which, perhaps, those who were interested in Scotland would hardly thank him for. But still he was prepared to go a step further, and make another concession. He was prepared to accept the Amendment of the Marquess of Lothian, which would make the limit 13 miles instead of 18, as now proposed in the Bill, and also to move on the Third Reading an Amendment enabling the Secretary for Scotland to suspend the clause in regard to any particular closed area in which foreign trawlers made a practice of fishing. That would get rid of the feeling of objection which might naturally arise on seeing foreign trawlers fishing in waters where British trawlers were prohibited. But he could not help saying that this great campaign against the clause came rather late from the noble Marquess opposite, because these very prohibitions dealing with trawling, which the promoters of the Bill were endeavouring to get the House to adopt in a modified manner in regard 1016 to the coast of Scotland generally, were already in force in a much stronger form in regard to the Moray Firth, from Dun-cansby Head to Rattray Head.
§ LORD TWEEDMOUTH
said, it was under a clause in the Act of 1889. It was often said that the House dealt differently with the Bills of a Liberal Government, and the Bills of a Conservative Government. He did not desire to say anything in an aggressive manner, but he could not help pointing out that the Bills promoted by the Conservative Government in 1888 and 1889, containing wider and more stringent proposals in regard to the two disputed points of district Committees and trawling, were treated very differently by the House from the present Bill, In the Bill of 1888, which affected England, there was a compulsory power by which twenty ratepayers of any district could initiate District Committees if the Town or County Council did not take such initiatory action. Those District Committees were given rating powers, and it was compulsory on Town or County Councils to provide the rates imposed by those District Committees. However, in the Committee upstairs that compulsory power was struck out of the Bill, and the payment of rates was left entirely at the option of the Town or County Councils. But when the Bill of 1889—the Bill of a Conservative Government—came to the House of Lords, the proposal to prohibit trawling in a much more stringent form than was proposed in the present Bill, over a third of the area of the East Coast of Scotland in the North Sea, was accepted without demur. It was now proposed to apply a similar provision, but carefully safeguarded, to the whole coast of Scotland. The Fishery Board of Scotland had not the power to apply the clause. It could only be done with the sanction of the Secretary of Scotland after a local inquiry, before which all parties were to be heard; and this carefully guarded provision was now, apparently, about to be rejected by their Lordships. He would feel deep regret if the clause were rejected. He believed 1017 the passing of the clause was but a small act of justice to the fishermen of Scotland. But if their Lordships chose to reject the clause, the Government would have to submit to their will.
THK DUKE OF ARGYLL
Has the noble Lord got any statistical information as to the amount of damage done by steam trawling either to nets or to lines? There was a statement submitted to the House which represents the damage as quite trifling.
§ *LORD TWEEDMOUTH
I am afraid I am not prepared here with statistical information; hut I was a member of the Trawling Commission of 1883–4, and we had abundance of evidence before us of the great damage that was done. I would also refer the noble Duke to the annual reports of the Fishery Board, where he will see the number of cases dealt with by the officers of the Board under the Act of 1885. I can assure the noble Duke that I am not drawing on my imagination in regard to the damage to gear done by trawlers.
THE MAUQUESS OF LOTHIAN
said, that, if the House occepted the Amendment of the Marquess of Salisbury, it would be useless for him to move his Amendment, which the noble Lord opposite had signified his willingness to adopt on behalf of the Government. But he should like to explain, as he might not have another opportunity of doing so, why he would propose to limit the restricted area to 13 miles, rather than to 18 miles. He believed that, if the area restricted went beyond the territorial limits, it was a matter of very small importance whether the limit was 13 miles or 18 miles. Another point which might have some effect on their Lordships' decision was that, so far as he was able to ascertain, foreign trawlers, rarely, if ever, came within the 15 miles. They did come within the 18 miles, but they did not come within the 15 miles; and, therefore, the objection that British trawlers would not be allowed to fish where foreign trawlers could fish fell to the ground. He should like to go back some time in our history in order to show the claim which this country had over the fisheries of the North Sea. In 1604, in the reign of James I., there was a Commission consisting of 44 English Members and 29 Scotch Members appointed to settle some arrangements in 1018 regard to fishing matters under the proposed Act of Union between England and Scotland. The proposal submitted was supported by 39 of the English Members and 28 of the Scotch Members. The leading English Commissioners were the first Lord Cranborne (an ancestor of the Marquess of Salisbury) and Sir Francis Bacon. The principal Scotch Commissioners were "Tarn of the Cow-gate" (Lord Haddington) and Lord Fyvie. The Commission proposed the closing to all fishermen (the English included) but Scotch fishermen of the waters between St. Abb's Head and Red Head in Forfar, and between Rat-tray Head and Duncansby Head and 14 miles beyond that line. That proposal was ratified in 1607 by the Scotch Parliament, but the Bill was rejected by the English Parliament, not because of the proposal, but because it contained a naturalisation clause, under which it was feared a crowd of "hungry Scots" would come to England. Between 1630 and 1633 Charles I. was anxious to foster the Scotch fishing as against the Dutch, so he appointed a Commission, which recommended that all the waters on the east of Scotland to the mid-line between Scotland and Norway should be closed to everyone that was not Scotch. That proposal was not agreed to by Charles I., and, on the matter being remitted back to the Royal burghs, they proposed a line from St. Abb's to Red Head; from Rattray Point to Duncansby Head; from Duncansby Head to Cape Wrath; thence to Stour Head in Assynt; thence to the Butt of Lewis; and southwards from Mull of Kintyre to Mull of Galloway; and thence eastward to English Sol way Firth, and 14 miles beyond that line. That proposal was likewise not agreed to, and the final decision was to close the waters within a line drawn from St. Abb's Head to Red Head, and from the Mull of Kintyre to the Mull of Galloway. There seemed to be a general opinion that we had absolutely no power against foreign vessels which came within the limit prohibited to our own trawlers. He should be very sorry to give up the right against any foreigners coming within the waters which we chose to close against our own fishermen. He thought his noble Friend the Marquess of Londonderry took a rather 1019 extravagant line in dealing with the question of trawling, because he seemed to consider nothing but trawlers. The noble Marquess argued that if the Bill were passed in its present form the whole of the trawling industry on the East Coast would be absolutely destroyed.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
said, the whole gist of his argument was that he did not wish to see the trawling industry placed at a disadvantage with the foreigner.
THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN
thought the remarks of his noble Friend went further than that. He talked about our trawlers having to go to other parts of the world rather than fish in our own waters, which meant, if it meant anything, that they were to be done harm to. He had some regard for the interest of the line and net fishermen of Scotland, and did not want to see them obliged to seek employment in other callings. At present there was immense difficulty in getting employment, and he had no desire to see that difficulty aggravated.
*THE DUKE OF RICHMOND AND GORDON
said, that, having been a Member of the Select Committee to which the Bill was referred, he wished to recognise fully the great courtesy and consideration which the noble Lord in charge of the Bill displayed to all the Members of the Committee. He entirely agreed with Lord Lothian, but since the noble Lord opposite had agreed to bring up, on the Third Reading, a clause which would, if it were found that the foreign trawler came into our waters in a manner which was hurtful to our own trawlers, give the Secretary for Scotland power to revoke the bye-law and so meet the case of the foreign trawler, which seemed to be one of the great objections to the clause. He should be sorry to see the clause struck out.
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (the EARL OF KIMBERLEY)
said, that, having had the matter of the foreign trawler brought before him at the Foreign Officce, he should feel some compunction at the existence of a law which might enable foreign trawlers to fish on ground which was forbidden to subjects of Her Majesty, but he could not help thinking that the point which the noble Marquess brought forward could be adequately 1020 met by the suggestion of Lord Tweed-mouth. The point was that it would be unjust and unfair that foreign trawlers should be allowed to fish where British trawlers could not fish. That point could be fairly met if it was made incumbent upon the Secretary for Scotland, if it was shown that foreign trawlers fished in prohibited waters, to withdraw the prohibition. They would thus not interfere with the herring fishery, neither would they put an end to the clause altogether, and take away from the Secretary for Scotland and the Fishery Board the power to protect the line and net fishermen against what was held by a great many people to be an injury done to them by trawlers. He hoped, therefore, the noble Marquess, particularly after what had been said, would consider the suggestion of the noble Lord in charge of the Bill.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
could not admit that in this matter they were abandoning the line and net fishermen, and doing everything for the trawler. What use would it be for the line and net fishermen if they were no longer disturbed by English trawlers, and yet liable to be disturbed by foreign trawlers? It was idle to say foreign trawlers had not frequented the seas in question—he believed they had—but after the agitation there had been amongst the fishing population they would be thoroughly made aware of the advantage which it was proposed that Parliament should confer upon them, and if the House pressed this clause as it stood they would be doing no good to the line or net fishermen, but they would be simply providing a place vacant from all English trawling competition where the trawler of the foreigner would be at perfect liberty and in entire safety. Noble Lords opposite proposed a remedy for the danger which might or might not be successful. The noble Lord complained that there were clauses in the English Bills passed while a Conservative Government was in office which were open to the same objection, and which were passed without any remonstrance in their Lordships' House. It was very discreditable to the Opposition of that time if it was so. [Lord TWEEDMOUTH: "We approve of it."] It was the business of the Opposition to raise the point. [Lord TWEEDMOUTH: "We approve of 1021 it."] He would not be shut out from advocating beneficial legislation, or resisting legislation which was pernicious, by being told something could be found in a statute passed by a Conservative Government which furnished a precedent. He would much rather admit at once that all Governments were bad, but that some Governments were worse than others. They had now to consider what the interests of the country required, and not what they did in the past. He could imagine that if the clauses with respect to the action of the Secretary for Scotland were properly drawn—it all depended upon that—the powers might be so exercised as to reduce the invasion of the foreign trawler to a minimum. He could imagine even some time limit, which in the case of the herring fishery might be useful, but he could see no reason why they should not put into the clause a sound principle, leaving it to the Government to adjourn the Bill, if they pleased, or insert provisions at a future stage by which they imagined they could get rid of the danger of the foreign trawler. The sound principle was the one which this Amendment would place on the Statute Book, the principle that the sea was to be open to the English trawler wherever it was open to the foreign trawler, the principle that they were not to give to the foreign trawler an advantage over the English trawler. He personally proposed to take a Division on the Amendment, to by no means exclude himself from giving favourable consideration to any proposal, by way of exception, which the noble Lord might think it wise to introduce into his Bill.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
said, the noble Marquess had said the fact that a provision of this kind was inserted and approved by this House was no proof that it was a good one. It throw some little light on some controversies that had taken place from time to time that a measure containing a provision so outrageously bad as the noble Marquess represented this to be should have been passed through this House, and that no one who was now going to vote with the noble Marquess was found to raise an objection. But he rose to suggest that it would be better to divide on the omission of the clause than on the Amendment. It was proposed that the 1022 Fishery Board might by by-law prohibit trawling in any area under the jurisdiction of Her Majesty. That would leave the law as it stood at present; but what he asked the noble Marquess to consider was whether that might not give rise to some very awkward and difficult questions as to what waters were within the jurisdiction of Her Majesty. Of course if the Queen's jurisdiction in territorial waters were well settled there would be no difficulty.
§ The House divided:—Contents 73; Not-Contents 45.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
said, that he was anxious for the assertion of the sound principle; but now that his object was achieved, he was inclined to think that the best way would be for the discussion to be adjourned, in order that the noble Lord might place upon the Paper any proposals which he thought would effect the limited prohibition he desired without injury to the principles which the House had laid down.
§ *LORD TWEEDMOUTH
thought it would be better to finish the few Amendments remaining on the Paper, and so get rid of the Report Stage. He could then bring up his Amendments on Third Reading.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
said, that the noble Lord would, of course, choose which procedure he preferred. On Third Reading the House would only have one stage before it; and he thought it would be more economical of opportunity to take the Amendments at this stage, so that if any mistakes were made they could be corrected later.
§ *LORD TWEEDMOUTH
said, that the words of the noble Marquess would have to be struck out on Third Reading in any case. If other words were put in which would render them nugatory there would be a jumble. He should prefer to finish the Report Stage at once.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN moved, in Clause 10, page 7, line 33, to leave "18" and insert "13," the object of the Amendment being to reduce the limit of the operation of the Bill from 18 miles to 13 miles from the coast.
§ Amendment agreed to.1023
THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY moved, to insert in Clause 10, page 7, line 36, the following words:—
Provided that the powers conferred in this section shall not be exercised in respect to any areas under Her Majesty's jurisdiction lying opposite to any part of the coast of Ireland, or the west coast of England, within 18 miles thereof.
§ *LORD TWEEDMOUTH
said, that he should naturally desire to protect Ireland, and, therefore, he would accept the Amendment.
§ Amendment agreed to.
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN moved the addition of the following new clause after Clause 19—
Without prejudice to any powers otherwise vested in them, the Fishery Board may from time to time, subject to the approval of the Secretary for Scotland and of the Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury, employ such officers and vessels and take such other means as shall be necessary for the efficient protection of the sea fisheries and for the observance of such by-laws as may from time to time be in force; provided that nothing in this section shall exempt the coastguard and Admiralty officers from their statutory duty in enforcing the law and regulations affecting vessels engaged in sea fishing.
He said he looked upon this question of a sea police as perhaps the most important of all in regard to sea fisheries in Scotland. The unfortunate state of feeling between the line fishermen and the trawlers was in great part owing to the fact that the system of sea police by which the law had been supposed to be enforced was thorougly inefficient. It was of the first importance, in the first place, that the vessels which were to police the seas should be under the direction, and at the orders, and in the employment, of the Fishery Board, and that they should be sufficient in number for and adequate to their work. His contention had been supported by every Commission and Committee which had sat on this subject. The person who had insisted most on the necessity for an efficient sea police in the employment of Local Authorities was Lord Tweedmouth himself. In the Report of the noble Lord's Committee, issued in 1893, it was pointed out that the Dalhousie Commission of 1885 had proposed that adequate arrangements should be made for the
establishment and maintenance of an efficient sea police under the control of the fishery authorities as constituted. Then the Report of the noble Lord's Committee proceeded thus:—
Your Committee would entrust to these authorities the care and regulation of British sea fisheries, and recommend that they should be supplied with adequate funds to collect statistics and to keep up an efficient sea-police to enforce the regulations made by them. Up to the present time, such a police as has been in existence is supplied by special cruisers devoted by the Admiralty to the purpose. This system had not proved satisfactory; and so far unsuccessful, where British waters were concerned, that the Committee believed those cruisers should be supplemented by a special force, organised by, and under, the Fishery Authorities themselves.
In the evidence before the Committee, Mr. Esslemont, Chairman of the Fishery Board, appeared, and gave the strongest possible evidence in this direction. He stated that the sea police, up to that time under the Admiralty, had been thoroughly inefficient, and there were frequent complaints on the Scottish coast that the vessels ought to be under the Fishery Board, and paid for by a Vote from Parliament, and that the Board had no efficient means of enforcing bye-laws on the sea, while sufficient money should be given to the Board for their own vessels and their own police. After a statement of this kind it was unnecessary for him to say more, and he moved the Clause of which he had given notice.
§ *LORD TWEEDMOUTH
admitted the necessity of a good sea police for Scotland as well as for England. He agreed with his noble Friend, and so far as the new clause was concerned he saw no possible objection to it. It did not, however, grant a single power to the Board which the Board did not already possess. He would accept the Clause.
§ Clause agreed to, and Bill reported with Amendments.