HL Deb 08 July 1902 vol 110 cc1044-51

Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.

On Question, Bill read 3a.


proposed to amend Clause 2, which repealed the exceptions in the Act of 23rd and 24th years of Victoria, Chapter 45, of proprietors and others from the penal and other provisions directed against fishing for trout by net (except in ponds or lochs exclusively belonging to such persons) and other practices, provided that it shall still be legal and permissible for such proprietors and others to fish for trout by net in such rivers, waters, or lochs where such fishing is prosecuted for scientific, breeding, or restocking purposes. He moved to omit the words "exclusively belonging to such persons" and to substitute the words, "all the proprietors of which have agreed to permit such fishing."

Amendment moved— In Clause 2, page 2, line 13, to leave out from 'exclusively' to 'persons' in line 14, and to insert 'all the proprietors of which have agreed to permit such fishing.'"—(The Earl of Galloway.)


, said he would have preferred the form of words which he suggested to the noble Earl after the discussion in the Standing Committee, but as the noble Earl preferred his own form, he would not oppose the Amendment. In accepting the Amendment he did so because it was evidently the sense of the Standing Committee that such an Amendment should be made, and it was especially advocated by the noble Earl the Leader of the Opposition.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


then moved to add the words, "Provided also that nothing in this Clause contained shall affect ponds or lochs which are the exclusive property of a single proprietor." He asked to in forgiven if, to a certain extent, he repeated the arguments he made use of when the Bill was in Committee, but there were, very few Members in the House at that time, and the drift of the Bill was evidently not understood. Had the details been observed, he felt quite certain that noble Lords would not have accepted the very drastic terms of Clause 2. The Bill was brought in for the purpose of extending the close time for trout in Scotland, and, so far as it achieved that object, the Bill had his support. But he took exception to a provision which had been dove-tailed into it in the other House, and which bristled with penalties to owners. Where different proprietors owned parts of a loch, he thought that perhaps it might be as well to have legislation on a subject of this sort, but where a loch or pond belonged exclusively to one proprietor, he could not see why the legislature should dictate to him how he should catch his own trout. If they did that, they might extend it to other things. For instance, there might be people calling themselves sportsmen who would object to a man shooting with two guns, or they might object to the setting of nets to prevent hares escaping. Others might object to the use even of a breech-loader. There was no end to the length legislation of this kind might run. It was part of the modern tendency to dictate to owners what they should do with their own property, and it was for that reason that he asked the House to adopt his Amendment.

Amendment moved— In line 24, after 'purposes,' to insert 'Provided also that nothing in this Clause contained shall affect ponds or lochs which are the exclusive property of a single proprietor.'"—(The Earl of Galloway.)


hoped the noble Lord the Secretary for Scotland would not accept the Amendment, which would simply sanction, on the part of proprietors, the most destructive form of poaching it was possible to conceive. If the Amendment were adopted a proprietor, provided the water was his exclusive property, could fish for trout by burning the water, or by striking the fish with any instrument, or by pointing, or by putting into the water lime or any other substance destructive to trout, and in other ways which were prohibited in the case of the general public. While he was entirely in favour of protecting the right of a proprietor to do anything of a legitimate character with regard to his own fishing, yet he thought he should be prevented from fishing in an unsportsmanlike manner. What was sauce for the goose was sauce for the gander, and in this case the same law should apply as applied to the general public. Trout fishing in Scotland stood on an entirely different footing from trout fishing in England. In Scotland they had no coarse fishing at all; practically the whole of the fishing in Scotland consisted of trout fishing, and, thanks to the liberality of proprietors, it was indulged in by all classes. He thought it was desirable, in the interests of all concerned, that these poaching methods of fishing should be stamped as illegitimate. The first Amendment of the noble Earl's which the House had agreed to gave the proprietor power to catch fish in any legitimate manner. It was necessary to scan very closely all these proposals with regard to fishing, and he trusted that their Lordships would adhere to the wording of the Clause as it at present stood.


supported the Amendment, which he did not think the noble Lord who had just spoken had carefully read. The question simply was whether a man who owned a loch or pond should be allowed to do as he liked with the fishing of it. It was not necessary, in the public interest, to do away with the proprietors' rights. This was not a question of trout only. The destruction of pike was often very desirable, but without using the peculiar methods referred to it could not be done. It was impossible to do away with pike simply by netting them.


took the same view, and dissented from the use of the word "poaching" in connection with the exercise by a proprietor of his own rights of fishing in the way which seemed best to him. If his noble friend the Earl of Galloway went to a division, he would support him. The Amendment simply asked that where a fishing was in a loch or pond that belonged to one proprietor exclusively, the proprietor should be able to fish it in any way he liked. That seemed to him perfectly right and reasonable.


expressed the hope that the noble Earl who had proposed the Amendment would not go to a division. If he did, he was afraid he would have to vote against him. They had asked the general public, who valued the right of fishing for trout by fly and other lures, to give that up for a certain period each year, and he thought that, considering what they asked the public to give up, the proprietors should also grant a reasonable concession. The noble Earl on the Cross Benches had been severe upon him for describing these practices as "poaching," but certainly the methods of fishing which the House was asked by the Amendment to preserve were the methods of a poacher. He hoped the House would adhere to the Bill as it stood. In reply to the observation of his noble friend the Earl of Camperdown, he pointed out that the Clause was confined to trout in all its species. There was nothing in the Clause which extended it to other fish.


could not understand, if this was so, why the noble Lord the Secretary for Scotland refused to accept an Amendment which he moved in the Standing Committee, substituting the word "trout" for "fish."


-said that, though not a Scotch peer, his connection with Scotland perhaps excused his taking part in so essentially Scottish a discussion. With the application of restrictions to waters in which there was a public interest he quite concurred, but the case of a piece of ornamental water in a man's own grounds, or a pond before his hall door, was quite a different one. He pointed out that even with this Bill and its restrictions on methods of taking fish, the exclusive proprietor of a pond could drain it and leave all the fish high and dry to shift for themselves. But he would be unable to take the fish out of his pond in any other way than that prescribed by the Bill. This was, he contended, a very large interference with the rights of proprietors. And how were they to enforce it? Was there to be a Government spy in everybody's garden, or were the servants and gamekeepers of a proprietor to be encouraged to inform against him? According to the explanation which had been given by the noble Lord in charge of the Bill, lines might be set for pike, but if trout caught on, that would render the proprietor subject to a penalty. He failed to see how, without some miraculous intervention, such as that of a new St. Francis of Assisi preaching to the fish, a proprietor was to prevent trout taking the line which had been set for pike.


said that if the noble Earl pressed his Amendment to a division, he would feel obliged to support him. For him self, he could not see any reason for so large and apparently needless an interference with property, and one which was liable to so great an abuse. It would give the right of espionage, so to speak, inside sheltered parks and domains, which might, be exercised most vexatiously, and all for what? —for an object which was almost intangible.


said he did not think the object of the Bill was so intangible as the noble Earl imagined. It seemed to him altogether impolitic that, when they were attempting to deprive the general public of the right of using particular modes of taking fish, they should reserve that right for the owners of ponds or lochs. That which was made illegal on streams

Northumberland, D. Melville, V. Lamington, L.
Bute, M. Sidmouth, V. Pirbright, L.
Camperdown, E. [Teller] Ashcombe, L. Poltimore, L.
Carrington, E. Barnard, L. Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough).
Dartrey, E. Brougham and Vaux, L.
Lauderdale, E. Calthorpe, L. Rosebery, L. (E. Rosebery.)
Lindsey, E. Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.) Stanmore, L.
Morley, E. Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.) [Teller.]
Rosse, E. Dunboyne, L.
Scarbrough, E Fermanagh, L. (E. Erne.) Ventry, L.
Westmeath, E. Glenesk, L. Wandsworth, L.
Cross, V. Hatherton, L. Wemyss, L. (E. Wemyss.)
Falkland, V. Howard of Glossop, L. Wolverton, L.
Hardinge, V. Hylton, L. Zouche of Haryngworth, L.
Hood, V. Kilmarnock L. (E. Erroll.)
Halsbury, E. (L. Chancellor.) Waldegrave, E. [Teller.] Killanin, L.
Devonshire, D. (L. President.) Goschen, V. Kinnaird, L.
Portiand, D. Knutsford, V. Lawrence, L. [Teller.]
Lansdowne, M. Gloucester, L. Bp. Ludlow, L.
Pembroke and Montgomery, E (L. Steward.) Winchester. L. Bp. Manners, L.
Avebury, L. Monkswell, L.
Ancaster, E. Balfour, L. Montagu of Beaulieu, L.
Carlisle, E. Belhaven and Stenton, L. Mostyn, L.
Carnwath, E. Belper, L. Napier, L.
Denbigh, E. Brassev, L. Raglan. L.
Hardwicke, E. Clifford of Chudleigh, L. Reay, L,
Mayo, E. Clonbrock, L. Robertson, L.
Onslow, E. Colville of Culross, L. St. Levan, L.
Selborne, E. Farrer, L. Tweedmouth, L.
Spencer, E. James, L.
Stamford, E. Kenyon, L.

or lochs generally should not be made legal owing to a particular stream or loch being in the hands of one proprietor. He also drew attention to the fact that, although a loch might be entirely the property of one or more proprietors, the fish belonging to streams flowing in and out of it probably had access to and ran up to it at certain times. He thought it was impossible to contend that the fish of these lochs could be regarded in all cases as the peculiar property of the riparian owners of the lochs. He would vote against the Amendment.


did not think that cross-line fishing in a river did any material amount of harm. Moreover, in Ireland, where there was excellent fishing, a man could fish with cross lines if he paid a licence. It seemed extraordinary to prohibit cross - line fishing in Scotland and yet allow it in Ireland, providing a licence was taken out.

On Question, the House divided:— Contents, 41; Not-Contents, 45.

Bill passed and returned to the Commons.