HL Deb 01 December 1936 vol 103 cc505-9

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.


My Lords, on the Second Reading of this Bill the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, raised three points which I the alliance between the right reverend Prelates opposite and the medical profession is going to defeat the Bill. I think it is not the first time that the priesthood and the medicine man have worked together; but to defeat in Parliament I have been accustomed ever since I have sat in either House. I think what has been important is that this discussion should be initiated and be taken up, and I should have valued it very much if we could have gone to the Committee stage and had a Select Committee to thrash the thing out quite fully. I think that would have been better, but if the vote is against me, no doubt the discussion will continue in the country and at some future date the question will be taken up again.

On Question, Whether the word "now" shall stand part of the Motion?

Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 14; Not-Contents, 35.

Esher, V. Hare, L. (E. Listowel.) Redesdale, L.
Hay, L. (E. Kinnoull.) Rhayader, L.
Allen of Hurtwood, L. Lawrence, L. Sanderson, L.
Arnold, L. Northington, L. (L. Henley.) Stuart of Castle Stuart, L (E. Moray.)
Denman, L. [Teller.] Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. [Teller.]
Doverdale, L.
Canterbury, L. Abp. FitzAlan of Derwent, V. [Teller.] Daryngton, L.
Dawson of Penn, L.
Argyll, D. Leverhulme, V. Fermanagh, L. (E. Erne.)
Mersey, V. Howard of Glossop, L.
Aberdeen and Temair, M. Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare.)
Crewe, M. London, L. Bp. Luke, L.
Zetland, M. Norwich, L. Bp. Mamhead, L.
Winchester, L. Bp. Morris, L.
Denbigh, E. Rankeillour, L.
Grey, E. Aberdare, L. Russell of Killowen, L.
Iddesleigh, E. Amulree, L. Templemore, L.
Lucan, E. Annaly, L. Trent, L.
Nelson, E. Cautley, L. Wigan, L. (E. Crawford.) [Teller.]
Onslow, E. Clanwiiliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.)

should refer to before this Bill goes into Committee. I am specially glad to do so since the noble Lord expressed the opinion that this was the best Bill presented by this Government since it has been in power. The noble Lord expressed a fear that industrial pollution was one cause of disease in fish. I have ascertained that, as far as my Department is concerned, industrial pollution is not a cause of furunculosis in fish. It might perhaps be an indirect cause of furunculosis, inasmuch as that lowers the vitality of the fish and consequently the resistance to the disease, but there is no strong evidence that this in fact occurs.

The noble Lord asked me to take the necessary steps to see that those persons whose duty it is to report infection under Clause 4 (3) should be made aware of their duties through the medium of the wireless or of the Post Office. I can assure the noble Lord that consideration will be given to the question of calling the attention of persons affected to their obligations by means of broadcasting and through the medium of the Press, while fishery boards would, I am sure, be prepared to circularise those persons in their districts who were known to be affected by the provisions of this Bill. Lastly the noble Lord drew attention to the necessity of giving careful instructions as to the disposal of diseased fish taken out of the water with a view to preventing reinfection. I am assured that under Clause 2 (4) and (7) and under paragraph (d) of Clause 9 Ministers will have sufficient authority to enforce the proper destruction of diseased fish, either by complete burning or by burial in quicklime, or by burial in the ground as far away as possible from the river concerned. I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(The Earl of Feversham.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly:

[The EARL OF ONSLOW in the Chair.]

Clause 1:

Restriction on importation of live fish and eggs of fish.

(4) If any person in contravention of the provisions of this section imports or brings or procures to be imported or brought into Great Britain any live fish or eggs of fish or, being the holder of a licence under this Act, contravenes any condition subject to which the licence was granted, he shall be guilty of an offence; and any officer of police, officer of Customs and Excise, or inspector may seize any fish or eggs with respect to which he has reason to believe that such an offence has been committed and may detain them pending the determination of any proceedings instituted under this Act in respect of that offence or until the Minister is satisfied that no such proceedings are likely to be instituted.

THE MARQUESS OF ABERDEEN AND TEMAIR moved, at the end of subsection (4), to insert: Provided that if such proceedings are not taken or fail, compensation shall be payable for any damage done to any live fish or eggs of fish during detention by any officer of police, officer of Customs and Excise or inspector.

The noble Marquess said: I think my Amendment as printed shows the object I have in view—namely, that if those who are authorised to detain fish or eggs have not got proper means by which to preserve in proper condition that which they detain a great deal of injustice is liable to be done to the owner thereof: It is not an easy matter to keep live fish or eggs unless you have got the proper provision or the containers, and my object is only to bring out the fact that those whom it is not proposed eventually to prosecute but whose belongings are detained shall not, if anything goes wrong in the meantime, suffer from the mere fact that they are detained, when they have done nothing for which they ought to be prosecuted. Perhaps the noble Earl will say whether he thinks my fears are grounded or not. I just want to be quite fair to the man who is perfectly innocent and yet suffers damage by detention under unsuitable conditions.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 29, at end insert the said proviso.—(The Marquess of Aberdeen and Temair.)


I am afraid that I cannot accept the noble 11Iarquess's Amendment, but I quite appreciate the reason that has compelled him to move it, for there may be occasions when it will be necessary to make inquiries regarding the importation of a consignment of freshwater fish, or eggs of fish, and for the fish in question to be detained pending the results of inquiries; and it may subsequently be found either that no offence has been committed, or that the offence is of such a trivial nature that it does not justify the institution of proceedings. In either case it must be remembered that Clause 1 sets out quite clearly the kinds of fish that can be imported and the kinds of fish that are prohibited altogether, and, moreover, the conditions of a licence will, I think, add to the clarity of the position. There is really no evident reason why an importer should contravene the conditions laid down in the clause, and I feel that an importer of goods under licence should properly bear the responsibility of taking every precaution to avoid any irregularity. If such precautions are taken, there is no reason to suppose that his goods will be detained, but if he fails to observe such precautions, I do not think that he can properly look for compensation.

After this explanation I hope the noble Marquess will appreciate the fact that, should there be an instance where fish have been detained while inquiries are proceeding, and subsequently it is proved that damage has been caused, then it will be due to some irregularity under the conditions of licence, and in that eventuality it should be the responsibility of the fish farmer or the person importing fish to pay any penalty rather than for such sums to come out of the public purse. I hope that answer will satisfy the noble Marquess.


Subject to the licence making this explicit, that would meet me of course. If the noble Earl more or less suggests that is the case, I am content, by leave of the Committee, to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment.