§ 2.56 p.m.
§ The MINISTER of STATE, SCOTTISH OFFICE (Lord Kirkhill)
My Lords, 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.—(Lord Kirkhill).
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ [The LORD SEGAL in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1 [Increased access to, and protection for, freshwater fishing]:
Lord KIRKHILL moved Amendment No. 1:
Page 1, line 7, leave out ("access to") and insert ("the availability of").
§ The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 1 which stands in my name on the Marshalled List. The purpose behind—
Lord CAMPBELL of CROY
I wonder whether the noble Lord might agree that it would be for the convenience of the Committee if my Amendments 2039 Nos. 2, 3 and 4 were discussed with Amendment. No. 1?
§ Lord KIRKHILL
I am perfectly agreeable to that course, if that is the wish of the Committee. However, I should like to open my remarks by first making specific reference to my own Amendment; then I will remark upon the noble Lord's three Amendments. The purpose behind Amendment No. 1 is very much the same as that which inspired the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, and, indeed, the noble Earl, Lord Mansfield, to table their Amendments Nos. 2, 3 and 4, which we can also encompass in these remarks. During the course of the Second Reading debate noble Lords, particularly the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, expressed concern that someone who already allows full, unrestricted access to his trout fishing may, because of his generosity, find himself at a disadvantage when it comes to obtaining protection. I am not convinced that any such danger would arise in practice, but after further consultation with the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, and the noble Earl, Lord Mansfield, I can appreciate how the wording of the subsection as it stands may appear to offend some noble Lords' sense of natural justice. Therefore, I commend Amendment No. 1 to noble Lords.
I think it meets the point fairly fully without violating in any way the principle enshrined in the subsection. This principle is that proposals will be judged on the basis of whether or not they result in an increase in the opportunities for brown trout fishing. The Government are firmly determined that the instrument of protection will be brought into force only where there is a significant improvement in the opportunities for those less fortunate anglers—the locals, weekend visitors and tourists—who rely for their sport on obtaining permission from some of those who are endowed (if that is the right word to use) with territorial properties. My Amendment encompasses a major point which the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, seeks to make, in particular in Amendment No. 2. Perhaps I should resume my seat at this stage and see where we go from this point.
Lord CAMPBELL of CROY
I am grateful to the noble Lord for introducing this Amendment and moving it, 2040 because it appeared only this morning. As the Marshalled List indicates, Amendment No. 1 is new. That is written at the top, although it is not starred. We were glad to see the Amendment. As the noble Lord has said, his Amendment is on the same point as we have raised in Amendments Nos. 2, 3 and 4. It is an important point because there is ambiguity in the Bill as it stands about the meaning of "access to" fishing for freshwater fish. It is a drafting matter. As the noble Lord has said, I do not think that there is a difference of principle between this Bench and the Government Bench on the aims of the Bill, but an increase in access could mean more members of the public—perhaps many more—lining up on the bank of a loch or river but catching less, or catching only tiddlers. There could be physical access to the waters but not access to fish, or reasonably good fishing. An increase in the access to fishing could mean, on the other hand, that the same numbers of members of the public, or perhaps only a few more, would have the opportunities to catch more sizeable fish and get much better fishing.
It is important to get this right at the beginning of the Bill. We should decide whether we are aiming simply for a greater number of the public to be able to flog the water and virtually catch nothing. I think that is not what we are aiming for. Clearly, what we want over Scotland as a whole is a combination of more trout water to be physically and easily accessible, and better trout fishing when people get to that water. The Amendments which I tabled in an effort to improve the Bill went into the Bill only on the last day in another place, very late at night, and when the Bill had gone through five days of Committee without this wording having been put in. So in your Lordships' Committee we are indeed doing a revising task today.
What is still in the Bill is that the Secretary of State shall not make a protection order unless he has received proposals in relation to the improvement of, or the giving of availability of, access to fishings. I can understand that improvement in itself might not be enough unless the public were to benefit to a reasonable extent from that improvement, and I can see the reasons for the 2041 redrafting that took place. Indeed, considerations about what improvement is going to be made are to be taken into account by the Secretary of State under subsection (4)(c). The important point is not only the giving of access, but also the words "or availability of access". Where there is satisfactory access already, it may be impossible to increase that access; the landowner is already fulfilling the aims of the Bill and that is why we welcome the Government Amendment.
But I want to be sure that it really covers the points that I am raising; otherwise, there may be an inconsistency between the part of the Bill in subsection (3)(a) which remains and lines 7 and 8 which we are now discussing. Subsection (3)(a) is subject to an increase in access. If full physical access to the bank of a loch for trout fishing is already open to the public—and I know of such cases in the North of Scotland—the landowner cannot increase it. At present there are very few trout in such places and only small trout that are ready to be caught, but none the less this is fun for teenagers and good practice for beginners. The point is that if such a loch were given protection it would then be turned into a proper trout loch to the benefit of all concerned, including members of the public and visitors from the South who carry trout rods in their cars. They would then really be able to catch something. But under the present terms of the Bill the owner is deprived of that opportunity because he cannot make that loch more open to the public than it is at present. To illustrate this in extreme terms, the only way he could do it would be to advertise in the local press that it was also now available to visitors from Mars and to unidentifiable flying objects.
As at present drafted, the Bill appears to penalise the person already doing what the Bill is seeking, even though technically he could prevent unauthorised people from reaching the bank to fish, by protecting his civil law right through the cumbersome procedure of interdict. But in the cases that I have in mind, the landowner has no intention of stopping people; he does not want to stop people from fishing the loch.
In different situations "access" means different things. In the example I have given it means more opportunity for people to come to the bank with rods; but 2042 if that is open to the whole population of the British Isles already, it is difficult to increase it. There is then the meaning of access to fishing. If that means anything it must mean access to the opportunity to catch some worthwhile trout, and therefore an increase to the public in the availability of good fish to be caught.
For that reason I am grateful to the Government for tabling this Amendment. I should like an assurance from the Minister that his Amendment covers the situations I have described. My Amendments put into words, without any ambiguity, the aim of the Bill to provide to the public in future more and better trout fishing than is available to them at present. I think the Government have the same intention and it is simply the wording which needs to be put right. My Amendment No. 4 is of course part of the new wording, but it may not be necessary. It is simply there to make it absolutely clear that this is for a whole prescribed area.
§ Viscount THURSO
It seems to me that the noble Lord, Lord Kirkhill, has produced a neat little trump for the aces of the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, and the noble Earl, Lord Mansfield. He is coming up against the problem which those who work with fishing in a practical sense are up against all the time, the compatibility of quantity and quality; and I think the wording of his Amendment on the Marshalled List is very good wording to solve this problem. More than an increase in quantity what we are really looking for is an increase in quality, because we know that in Scotland we have a large quantity of water which could carry trout and could be available to the general public resident in Scotland, to the general public visiting Scotland and to the Scottish tourist industry as well. From these Benches we would certainly welcome this Amendment, because it seems to encourage the improvement of quality and the substitution of quality for mere quantity in the desiderata of the Bill.
§ 3.7 p.m.
§ Lord KIRKHILL
First, may I thank the Committee on behalf of the Government for the fairly wide and generous welcome which this Amendment has received today. Whether or not I am 2043 able to display an interesting hand at five-star poker later this afternoon only the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, will be able to judge. But as for the present, I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy—and I am advised on this point by the draftsman—that the Amendment does indeed make the Government position clear. The Secretary of State will require to be satisfied that proposals will result in a significant increase in the availability of fishing opportunity. The encouragement of such increase is the primary purpose of the Bill.
There is agreement on both sides of the Committee that the brown trout stocks in many Scottish waters are already over-fished, some to the extent that they no longer offer any worth while sport. There is agreement that the demand for the sport is increasing every year. What is clearly needed is an increase in the availability of angling. The Government accept that this can only be brought about by improved management. We accept that there are places where improvement is not a practicable possibility. We accept that in many cases both kinds of waters should be brought within the ambit of one protection order, but at this stage the Government cannot justify giving protection unless the proposers can offer an increase in availability. I think that the Amendment in my name makes as explicit as is possible the Government's intention, and in our view it should be written into the Bill.
Lord CAMPBELL of CROY
I am grateful to the noble Lord. From what he has said it seems that his Amendment carries out the purposes of my Amendments, which set out the position at greater length in order to make sure that no further ambiguity existed about what was intended. Therefore, I would advise noble Lords to accept the Government Amendment and I shall not move my three Amendments.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ 3.10 p.m.
Lord BALFOUR of INCHRYE had given Notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 5:
Page 2, line 2, leave out ("for freshwater fish").
§ The noble Lord said: My Amendment No. 5, with which goes Amendment No. 7, aims at putting right what we felt on Second Reading was a weakness in the Bill. I think it was generally agreed from all sides of the House that river management must cover all fish in the river. Undoubtedly Clause 1 of the Bill as drafted on page 2 means that the Secretary of State must consult the advisory body in respect of freshwater fish only, which, of course, excludes the consideration of salmon. Therefore, I drafted these Amendments to endeavour to widen the consultations that the Secretary of State has said he would undertake.
§ Since I drafted these Amendments I have had my attention drawn to the fact that, after considerable pressure paragraph (b) was inserted in another place, and that they feel very deeply that not a word should be altered in respect of what they have put into the Bill. I am told it would be rather like desecrating the Tablets of Moses if we altered one word of what they put in. Therefore, I propose not to move my Amendment, but to revel in the proposal put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, in his Amendment No. 8, which achieves the same purpose as would my Amendments, without that terrible act of vandalism that I must avoid. Therefore, I do not move my Amendment.
§ The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES (Lord Segal)
Amendment No. 6 is to be taken in conjunction with Amendment No. 8.
Lord CAMPBELL of CROY had given Notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 6.
Page 2, line 3, leave out ("and").
§ The noble Lord said: I understood that my Amendment No. 6 was originally thought to be necessary, but is now not necessary, so I do not intend to move it. It was a purely drafting Amendment. I shall await the calling of Amendment No. 8.
§ Lord KIRKHILL
I confirm that this Amendment was originally thought necessary, but we have had some discussion about this and, on reflection, it is considered that it is not now necessary.
§ 3.34 p.m.
§ Lord CAMPBELL of CROY moved Amendment No. 8:
Page 2, line 15, at end insert ("and
(d) he has taken into consideration the need for conservation of any species of fish and has carried out such consultations in this regard as he considers necessary.")
§ The noble Lord said: I should like to remind your Lordships' Committee that angling is the main participant sport in Scotland. I understand there are more anglers in Scotland than there are people who play football, tennis, or, indeed, darts and other games. Unfortunately, there has been less worthwhile trout fishing available than there ought to be in Scotland because, in contrast to the situation in England, there is no proper legal protection there for trout. The aim of this Bill should be to provide more and better trout fishing in Scotland for more anglers. In particular, it should ensure that whenever a scheme is approved and protection granted, a proportion of trout fishing is available to the public. Schemes would include reasonable charges for permits related to the work and expense involved in stocking the waters concerned, and in maintaining the fishery.
§ My Amendment requires the Secretary of State, before approving such a scheme, to take into consideration the need for conservation of any species of fish which contributes to Scotland's employment and economy. For example, there will be schemes for rivers where shellfish, such as freshwater mussels, which also exist in sea water, are important, and migratory fish will be important as well. By far the greatest contribution to the Scottish economy comes from salmon fishing. There are over 1,500 jobs in the netting operations at river mouths and estuaries alone. Moreover, much of what anglers pay to fish the salmon is passed on to the finances of local government. These fishings are assessed for rates in Scotland on the basis of numbers caught in the previous five years. To illustrate this direct contribution, each salmon being caught in the River Spey this year means that over £3 will be paid into local authority rates. Salmon have to come up the river to spawn, to reproduce, and they are clearly a species of fish which would have to be taken into account along with many others, and one of great value to the economy of Scotland.2046
§ I hope that this new paragraph (d) would make sure that, before approving the scheme, the Secretary of State took into account the importance of all species of fish whose conservation is necessary. I beg to move.
§ Lord KIRKHILL
The noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, has quite correctly pointed out that there is no specific requirement in the Bill for the Secretary of State to take into account the conservation of any species of fish. I can assure your Lordships that the Government are fully aware of the need to conserve our stocks of all useful species of fish in our rivers. It certainly was never the intention of the Government to encourage improvements in trout fishing at significant risk to the other stocks of a river. I give the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, that assurance. However, I see no harm in spelling out that my right honourable friend in the other place, in deciding whether to give protection on any river to trout, must have regard to the proper conservation of those other valuable stocks of fish in the river. Therefore, I am willing to accept this Amendment.
§ Viscount THURSO
I am delighted to hear that the noble Lord the Minister on behalf of Her Majesty's Government is willing to accept this Amendment, because it is an imoprtant one. One has to recognise that the protection of one species may very well mean the damage of another species, or that in order to encourage one species to a higher level within a river system, or within a part of a river system, it may be necessary to damage, or even eliminate, another species. One has to balance out the various desirable features of one sort of fishing and another upon any stretch of water in order to obtain the optimum fishing for those who wish to pursue it, and the optimum situation for the country where the river system exists. Therefore, it is good to see that this is spelt out. It needed to be spelt out. If Her Majesty's Government will accept this Amendment, we on these Benches would be happy to support it.
§ Lord HOY
Perhaps I may say one or two words on this Amentment. I think the noble Lord the Minister is right to accept it. It is not a question of 2047 whether he is going to accept the Amendment; he has already said he will accept it. Whether it be conservation at sea or in the rivers, conservation is very important to the whole of the fishing industry. I am grateful that even if this writes in a little more than I would have thought to be a natural way in which to deal with the problem, and if it specifies it more clearly, I have no objection at all and would welcome and support it.
One further word about sport in Scotland. I have just taken over a job held by the late Lord Milligan, that of chairman of the Scottish Basketball Association. I am told that in this sport there are twice as many participants as we have fishermen.
§ Lord BALFOUR of INCHRYE
Before we leave this Amendment, may I express my thanks to the noble Lord the Minister. Having raised the matter considerably and, I hope, firmly on Second Reading, let me only say that the acceptance of this Amendment will bring a degree of confidence and comfort to many bodies outside this House who are interested in the conservation of all types of fish.
§ Lord KIRKHILL
I intervene merely to reiterate that the Government stand firm by their basic ethos in this Bill. Its underlying principle remains inviolate, but the Government are willing to be explicit and if this gives a measure of reassurance, then the Government commend the Amendment to the House.
Lord CAMPBELL of CROY
I am exceedingly grateful to the noble Lord for accepting this Amendment. I think it will not only reassure many outside Parliament, but will make it abundantly clear to all concerned with this Bill after it is enacted that the Secretary of State will have this very important duty before he approves schemes. I am also grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Hoy, for his support. I know how much he has done, both as a Minister and otherwise, concerning the fishing industry, both inland and particularly at sea. I of course accept his correction concerning basketball and congratulate him if there should be so many participants as opposed to spectators where basketball is concerned. Of course, in "angling", when I was saying 2048 that I thought that angling was the main participant sport in Scotland, I was including coarse fishing and not just game fishing, but I congratulate the noble Lord on the rapid increase in basketball as a recreation and sport.
I am grateful to the Government for having accepted this Amendment, which I think will relieve the minds of many who were worried about the Bill when it was passing through this House.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ On Question, Whether Clause 1, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?
§ 3.22 p.m.
Lord CAMPBELL of CROY
I should like to ask, a question on this, and that is how the proposals for schemes for protection will operate. In Clause 1 the process is activated by a single applicant; he is referred to in subsection (3)(a) as "an owner of land" in the singular, and later in subsection (4) he is referred to as "the person submitting" the proposals. Therefore, a scheme is to be started by one single applicant. But the Government have said that they do not want protection to be granted and extended in a piecemeal fashion, and I do understand that from the administrative point of view it is, of course, much simpler if the whole of a river or the whole of a catchment area, or a very large part of either, is the prescribed area for each individual scheme. That is what the Government said they want to achieve, and from what has been said by the Government so far on this Bill it seems that a protection order will not be issued until a large area like that is covered.
So we return to the question, what happens when a single applicant starts the procedure in motion? That applicant could be someone who owns the fishing for, shall we say, a mile on one bank of a river, and the river may be 60 miles long; there may be many other riparian proprietors. Who, then, takes the next action? Is it the Secretary of State? Does he get in touch with the other owners of land who ought to be in a scheme if it is to be approved, or is it incumbent upon the original applicant to try to get the others who are involved in the same catchment area or on the same river to come in as well and indicate to the Secretary of State that they would 2049 be glad to take part in a scheme? This is something which has not yet been made clear. I am afraid I have not been able to give the noble Lord notice of this point, though I hoped I might be able to see him earlier today on the subject. It is an important point. If he cannot give us the full answer now, we would be glad to have it at a later stage.
§ Lord BURTON
May I raise one other point on Clause 1? I think it has been very much improved by the Amendment agreed today, but this is prior to a protection order being issued, that there should be consultation. The noble Lord, Lord Kirkhill, and other noble Lords will remember that we had a discussion as to what the position would be where perhaps someone was stocking a trout water and the fishery board disapproved and would then come along and let him fish them out. There is no overall control or anyone to say what should or should not be done after a protection order has been issued. I wonder if the noble Lord would look at this again. Before a protection order is issued we have improved the clause, but after that there is still no proper consultation.
§ Lord KIRKHILL
Perhaps I can assist your Lordships in your continuing deliberations. I would advise your Lordships that the Secretary of State may—and, in accordance with the usual form, this is a power, not a duty—make such an order only if he has received proposals from some, though not necessarily all, the holders of rights to freshwater fishing in the area. The proposals must indicate willingness to make their fishings available on lettings or permits and may additionally indicate intention to improve their fishings. He may make an order only if he is satisfied that the proposals would, if implemented, result in freshwater fishing being available on terms and conditions acceptable to him in the area covered by the order to a degree which he considers reasonable, having regard in particular to what, in his view, is the demand for fishing in that area by people who depend for their sport on the availability of fishing permits. The area prescribed in the order will normally extend beyond the areas covered by the proposals.
Before he can make an order the Secretary of State is obliged to consult a body which in his opinion is representative of 2050 all Scottish freshwater anglers. An order may be made for a limited period, but may be renewed without further procedure if the proposals for giving access et cetera have been satisfactorily implemented. Of course, I am uncertain as to whether the holders of fishing rights can organise themselves in groups. We have not had very much evidence of this so far. This touches on the point the noble Lord, Lord Burton, has just made. Certainly I cannot give him an assurance that beyond the point of the protection order then things will flow smoothly, but the Government hope that by the creation of the protection order at least the first step will have been made. Really, as I emphasised at Second Reading, this Bill is essentially a first step Bill.
Lord CAMPBELL of CROY
I presume from the Minister's explanation that the use of the singular in the course of Clause 1 does not rule out a number of people putting in applications at the same time, and it is clear that that is what the Government would encourage, that any person who is interested in gaining protection in return for producing good trout fishing would be well advised to get in touch with their neighbours and others interested in the area and all put in applications at about the same time. From what the noble Lord has said, the Secretary of State will not proceed with the scheme unless he is satisfied that a majority of the persons concerned in the area are applying for protection?
§ Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.
§ 3.29 p.m.
§ Viscount THURSO moved Amendment No. 9:
§ After Clause 1, insert the following new clause:
§ Area Fishing Boards
§ ".—(1) The Secretary of State shall within two years of the passing of this Act give public notice of his intention to frame a scheme for the establishment of Area Fishery Boards, and any such notice shall invite the public within a period of not less than eight weeks from the date of the notice to make suggestions as to the composition of the Area Fishery Boards.
- (a) a map showing the boundaries of the proposed areas;
- (b) provisions relating to qualifications of electors, elections or other voting arrangements, composition, meetings, financing and accounts of Area Fishery Boards;
- (c) provisions relating to the supervision and training of wardens appointed under section 2 of this Act;
- (d) provisions relating to the circumstances in which fishing is made available under section 1(5) of this Act;
- (e) proposals concerning the procedures to be adopted by which the Area Fishery Boards on the one hand and the District Salmon Fishery Boards on the other will keep each other informed on matters of mutual interest;
- (f) proposals concerning procedures to be adopted by which Area Fishery Boards shall report regularly to the Secretary of State and shall be consulted by him on matters affecting the operation of the terms of this Act within their areas;
- (g) provisions for raising money by the rating of trout fisheries for the purpose of financing the activties of the Area Fishery Boards;
- (h) such other information as, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, would help the public to make a reasonable appraisal of the scheme.
§ (3) The Secretary of State may if he thinks fit hold a local public inquiry in relation to the whole scheme or any part thereof.
§ (4) After considering suggestions made under subsection (1) above and the results of any local inquiry, the Secretary of State may either confirm the scheme or confirm it with modifications which are in his opinion desirable as a result of suggestions made under subsection (1) above or the holding of a local inquiry under subsection (3) above, and may organise in accordance with the scheme elections or other voting arrangements for the purpose of establishing Area Fishery Boards for the area or areas concerned."
§ The noble Viscount said: I beg leave to insert a new clause in the Bill under discussion. I think the answer by the noble Lord. Lord Kirkhill, to the questions put to him when we were considering the question of, Whether Clause 1 shall stand part of the Bill?, have given me the opening, and indeed have shown us the reason for the necessity of a new clause at this point. The noble Lord, Lord Kirkhill, was uncertain what would happen after the Secretary of State had made an order. He hoped that things would flow smoothly after the Secretary of State made an order. But it is our duty to make sure, so far as possible, that things will flow smoothly. My 2052 experience of handling these matters shows me that they will probably not flow smoothly, but that there will be cause for discussion, and there will be disagreement between different interests. We have already had to make sure that certain interests of conservation were to be looked after in the Bill; but there will remain ongoing shared interests in every piece of water which this Bill will affect, and these differences of interest will cause differences of opinion and friction and will have to be resolved.
§ This Bill is the first in 1,000 years that has affected the law of trout fishing in Scotland. If we are to pass a Bill that is as radical as this, we must include in it provisions for dealing with the unforeseen. Much will happen in the future; lots of areas of disagreement between individuals whose interests either as owners or anglers are affected, and disagreement between people who fish for different species of fish, between trout fishers and salmon fishers. Therefore, it seemes to me that we have to establish, in the first instance, a body responsible for seeing that this Bill is a success.
§ At the Second Reading in your Lordships' House I emphasised that we on these Benches wanted to see this Bill be a success when it was enacted. We do not want it to bring the law of trout fishing once more into disrepute. We do not want to see it become a failure. I do not think that it will be an unqualified success, or that it stands any chance of being an unqualified success, unless there is a body of people appointed in each case where a protection order is granted to guide what is to happen, because we are to set up a situation where there will be instant conflict between interests. To start with, there will be an instant conflict between salmon and trout fishing interests which, unless we set up the machinery to dissolve it, will be a source of friction throughout.
§ To go on with, we are to set up a new species of person, a warden, who is to look after the enforcement provisions of this Bill and who will have certain powers, in some cases, of seizure of tackle, and certainly the powers to stop, interrogate, and question people in the pursuit of their hobby. For the same stretch of water it is very probable that we may set up several such persons. It is possible, and indeed probable, on a 2053 river or a stream that the opposite banks will be owned by different people. If, in order to obtain the services of a trout warden, one applies to the Secretary of State and puts forward the name of some suitable person of character whom one wishes to establish as the warden for one's fishing, it seems likely that the Secretary of State will find it difficult to refuse.
§ If the Secretary of State agrees to appoint a warden for my bank of the river—on this side of the river—he can hardly refuse somebody on the other side of the river permission to establish a responsible person as a warden on his bank. So on this stretch of river we have already set up two separate wardens; one on my bank dealing with my fishery, and one on the other bank dealing with the other fishery. At the same time, on this stretch of water, there may well be salmon and there will, in effect, be a water bailiff appointed by the district salmon fishery board for that river who will have other powers on the same stretch of water. Therefore, there will in fact be three persons on one stretch of water, each with powers of stopping, interrogating and, in some cases, seizing the tackle of people who may be fishing on this stretch of water. I think that this situation requires to be dealt with.
§ The other thing that we have to remember is that the essence of this Bill is improvement, and in giving the support of these Benches to Amendment No. 1 to Clause 1 moved by the noble Lord, Lord Kirkhill, I was happy to be able to put our support behind an Amendment which assumed that the improvement of trout fishing, the improvement of fishing of all kinds in Scotland, was one of the principal objects of this Bill. I have always said—and repeated it often in your Lordships' House—that there is a great deal of water in Scotland that is already available to the general public, to anglers of all sorts, and what is needed is stability of management that would allow of its improvement. I look not so much to increased access to existing waters I think existing good waters are probably already heavily fished and may very well not be improved by further fishing, by further access—but 2054 to a great improvement of many acres and many miles of water in Scotland, capable of improvement by the application of the results of research and the results of known techniques in fishery management. I think that we shall greatly improve the quantity and the quality of fishing available in Scotland if we pass the right Bill into law at this stage.
§ With all these things in mind, I feel that there is a grave omission from this Bill; that is, any form of ongoing body which will look to the management of trout fishing after we bring them into protection under this Bill. Therefore, in an effort to fill this obvious gap, I have produced this Amendment. I am not alone in this. Indeed, if I were alone in this, you might well turn round and say that I was probably some sort of a nut case who would not be worth listening to. There were three Amendments asking for Area Boards when this Bill went through another place. One Amendment was put up by my honourable friend in another place, Mr. David Steel. One Amendment was put forward on behalf of the Scottish National Party; there was another Amendment put forward on behalf of a minority group within the Government's own Party, the Labour Party. Lord Kirkhill's honourable friend, Mr. Norman Buchan, said in another place that if these area boards were established—"as I hope they will be," he said; I see that the noble Lord is well aware of what his honourable friend said and has been told that he was in favour of these boards—among other things, the Hunter Report no longer sufficed.
Because of all these sincerely important considerations, I have drafted my proposed new clause and I will briefly take the Committee through its provisions because it is quite a large and meaty clause. The idea of the clause is that where a protection order is to be set up, it shall be obligatory on the Secretary of State to see whether he can set up an area fishery board within the area where the protection order is to be set up, and my new clause begins:
The Secretary of State shall within two years of the passing of this Act give public notice of his intention to frame a scheme for the establishment of Area Fishery Boards…".
That provision is included so that this matter shall not go by default where protection orders are being set up. I go on to suggest that he should consider the
…suggestions made under subsection (1)…prepare and give notice of a draft scheme which shall include:
(a) a map showing the boundaries of the proposed areas"—
which is obvious
(b) provisions relating to qualifications of electors, elections or other voting arrangements, composition, meetings, financing and accounts of Area Fishery Boards"—
which also is obvious, and
(d) provisions relating to the circumstances in which fishing is made available under section 1(5) of this Act".
Obviously the two have to be tied together; we have to tie together the work of the area boards with the provisions of the protection order. Then we come to this important part of the new clause: he should include
(e) proposals concerning the procedures to be adopted by which the Area Fishery Boards on the one hand and the District Salmon Fishery Boards on the other will keep each other informed on matters of mutual interest".
There will be required a forum where salmon and trout fisheries can meet. Undoubtedly this will be required and, if it exists, it will be to the benefit of all anglers in Scotland and all anglers who visit Scotland. There is no doubt that accommodation can be made on the same river for trout and salmon anglers.
Equally, there is no doubt that difficulties arise between them and I will, if I may, take up a little of your Lordships' time by giving a case in point. When I formed the Thurso Angling Association on the first beat of the Thurso River I set up a local association with access to the general public through it to fish this stretch of water which flows through the town of Thurso. I thought in my innocence at that stage—this was many years ago and in those days I was to a certain extent innocent on these matters—that if I gave them the management of their own affairs within this beat they would be able to reconcile the interests of the salmon and trout fisheries within their ranks. When in fact I found that the salmon fishers in the association were much more restrictive than I was on trout fishers, to protect the interests
of trout fishers I had to take the management of the association back into my own hands and leave the association in being simply to identify the resident anglers in the town of Thurso. I had to take it back to make sure that the people who wanted to fish for trout were allowed to fish for trout from the same water as the salmon fishers. There will, therefore, have to be positive steps made to reconcile these interests and I give this as an illustration of the need for an area of discussion between district salmon fishery boards and the new trout fishery boards, if we set them up.. Next I suggested that there should be
(f) proposals concerning procedures to be adopted by which Area Fishery Boards shall report regularly to the Secretary of State…".
We are setting up a whole new Act of Parliament which will give protection to trout fisheries and we are going to set it up on one public inquiry and then expect it to last forever. I do not honestly believe that this will be so. Once we have set up protection areas there will need to be constant adjustment. Things will change—nature will change things for us whether or not we like it—and in fact we, by the improvements which I hope we shall adopt by the ways in which we shall improve our rivers, will, I hope, change the quality and quantity of fishing available in our rivers and lochs. Under these changing circumstances there must be a dialogue between the areas where there are protection orders and the Secretary of State so that he can responsibly carry out his rights and duties under the Bill to vary protection orders, indeed to do things which are not even adumbrated in the Bill, to encourage new ideas and to be kept fully aware and apprised of what is going on under these new protection order schemes.
§ It has been suggested to me that one of the difficulties about setting up these area boards is that it will require Government money. I really do not see how this will be necessary. We are told that by passing the Bill we shall turn the riparian ownership of trout fishings into heritable property. The moment these trout fishings become heritable property they will become rateable subjects, and the moment that happens local authorities, district and regional councils will want to rate them. They will, therefore, be assessed and there will be parameters 2057 by which one fishing can be compared with another. That already exists. Scottish district salmon fishery boards manage salmon fisheries, report to the Secretary of State for Scotland, are elected by triennial elections and represent the interests of owners of salmon fisheries.
§ These boards finance themselves and their operations out of money raised by rating against a valuation. When the sea fishings within salmon fishery district boards were derated, the assessors continued to rate the sea fishings so that district fishery boards could continue to raise rates on sea fishings and therefore raise a contribution from the commercial netsmen towards the running of the rivers, which are the geese that lay the commercial eggs for the commercial netsmen, and the assessments of the rod fishings within the river systems have continued to be rated and assessed for local authority purposes. But a totally separate rate—one could call it a subscription to the club—is raised by district fishery boards.
§ Such a board meets annually and considers its assessment and the monies which it will have to raise to meet its commitments and carry out its purposes, then rates the fisheries in its area, thus raising the necessary money. I do not believe that any of us has ever heard criticism of this method of running district fishery boards. I suggest that this would now be a good way of raising the necessary money to finance these boards. It would require no contribution whatever from public funds and it would only require a contribution from the owners of fisheries to run these boards.
§ Included in this new clause is a provision that the Secretary of State may, if he thinks fit, hold a local public inquiry in relation to the whole scheme or any part of it. Finally, after considering suggestions under subsection (1) and the results of any local inquiry, it is suggested that he may either confirm the scheme or confirm it with modifications which are, in his opinion, desirable. If we include this, I believe that we have a very good chance of providing something which will be a real step forward, not only in the sense of dealing with the improvement of Scotland's trout fishings but in terms of allowing us to move into the future. After all, it will one day be necessary to bring together the trout and 2058 salmon fishing interests in our fresh waters and to bring together such interests as water purification, water extraction and drainage in the same area. I feel that it would be advisable at this stage when we are giving statutory status to trout fishing for us to give also a status which at a later stage can form part of the mixture if we ever consolidate the legislation on all these various activities which take place upon our rivers and drainage areas.
§ It is for all these reasons that I recommend this new clause to your Lordships. I should like to re-emphasise that it is because I want to help the Bill and because I genuinely think that without machinery such as I propose the Bill will cause as many difficulties as it solves that I urge the Government to accept the new clause. I believe that the Bill requires machinery such as this in order to solve the problems which will inevitably arise from this radical piece of legislation in regard to trout fishing. I beg to move.
§ House resumed.