HL Deb 22 July 1908 vol 193 cc51-3


Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, this is a very small measure, but I think it is a useful Bill and a Bill that will give a great deal of satisfaction to a very deserving and gallant class of men—the sailors on the east coast. The object of the Bill is to legalise and regulate the use of the cran measure in the fresh herring trade in England and In Wales. An application for its adoption must be made by a local authority to the Board of Agriculture and the regulations under the Bill will be issued by the Board. It is an adoptive Bill and the local authority is the county council or the borough council. The word "cran" is a measure which really is a basket which contains 37½ imperial gallons, although the measure that would really be used in the herring trade would be what is called a quarter cran, equalling a little over 9 gallons. These measures have long been in use in Scotland, and they were legalised by the Herring Fisheries Bill of 1889. Persons interested in the herring trade on the east coast—and I need hardly remind the House what an important trade that is—hoped that this measure might also be legalised in England as well as in Scotland. Up to five years ago herrings on the east coast were sold by what is called "long hundred," which meant 132. That led to waste of time and labour and a certain amount of confusion, and there were frequent disputes as to the countings of fish, and so in 1903 quarter-cran baskets were introduced from Scotland and proved a great benefit. They began to be used at Lowestoft, Yarmouth, Hartlepool, Grimsby, and Scarborough, but it was found after the introduction of these baskets that the buyers refused, and I think naturally refused, to accept the baskets that were not officially stamped. They had no guarantee that they contained the measure they were supposed to contain, and therefore the East Suffolk County Council and the Lowestoft Town Council both passed resolutions urging the legalisation of the cran measure for use in England. That happened in 1904, and they suggested that it might be carried out on the lines of the Scottish Act of 1889. The first clause of the Bill follows the provision of that Act. The Bill has the support of the East Coast herring traders en bloc, and has I believe, the unanimous support of the National Sea Fisheries Protection Association. There is one other point to which I need draw attention. Subsection 3 of Clause 1 states— Subject to the provisions of this Act cran and quarter cran measures so made and marked as aforesaid shall be the only legal measures for use in buying, selling, delivering, or receiving fresh herrings. Attention was called to that, but I have to point out that it is provided that nothing in this section shall prevent the sale of herrings by weight, number, or bulk. I believe that this Bill would give a great deal of satisfaction to a most deserving and gallant body of men, and hope your Lordships will be pleased to accord it a Second Reading.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(EarlCarrington.)


My Lords, on behalf of the herring trade, I beg to thank the noble Earl for having introduced this Bill, and also the officials of the Department who have taken the greatest trouble about the measure, and shown the greatest courtesy to the trade; when the matter was discussed by the executive of the National Sea Fisheries Association, the noble Earl was kind enough to allow one of the most important Members of his Department to be present at the discussion, and to promise that this Bill should be introduced. The draft Bill was afterwards sent to the Association, and was thoroughly approved. It is an adoptive measure, but at the same time, it will be, I think, adopted generally throughout the parts of the country affected. Our only regret is that it should have been brought in so late, although that is no fault of the noble Earl or of his Department. If the Bill cannot pass before the adjournment, it will be impossible for it to come into operation this year, as the Resolutions must be passed, and the permission of the Department obtained. If the noble Earl could see his way to pass the Bill—and members of our Parliamentary Committee will give him every assistance—before the end of this week and allow it to become law, it would be a great benefit, and be very much appreciated by the members of the great herring trade throughout the country. It would then give us about six weeks to pass the necessary Resolutions and bring it into action before the herring trade really begins.

On Question, Bill read 2a (according to order), and committed to a Committee of the Whole House To-morrow, and Standing Order No. XXXIX. to be considered in order to its being dispensed with.