§ MR. WEIR
I beg to ask the Secretary for Scotland whether his attention has been drawn to the prosecution at Dingwall, on the 12th instant, of John M'Lean, crofter fisherman, of Letter; Roderick Maclennan, of the same place, and Alexander Mackenzie, for alleged salmon poaching, on the 10th July last, in an arm of the sea a mile distant from the mouth of the River Broom; and that, in their absence, the defendants were sentenced to pay a fine of £2 10s. each, inclusive of costs, or in default seven days' imprisonment; whether he will state the reason why proceedings were delayed until 12th December; whether he is aware that John M'Lean is years of age, bent almost double, that Roderick Maclennan is 60 years of age, and that Alexander Mackenzie is a cripple, 25 years of age; is he aware that the men were fishing for herrings for bait, and that no trout were found in the boat; that, although M'Lean gave orders to throw back into the sea any trout found in the net, the estate officials seized the net and threw the trout on shore, and cut a square of 16 loops out of the net; and that the net was meshed for herring and not for salmon; is he aware that Sheriff Hill refused the application of the solicitor of Dingwall for the defendants for a postponement of the trial, regardless of the fact that, owing to the shortness of the notice given, he (Mr. McRitchie) had neither received his instructions nor a copy of the citation; can he explain why, seeing that the defendants live nearly 50 miles from the 324 Dingwall Court House and over 30 miles from the nearest railway station, the summonses were issued only two days before the date of trial; why, and by what authority, did the estate officials injure the men's net by cutting a square of 16 loops from it; and will he say whether he will cause immediate inquiry to be made into the case; and whether, pending inquiry, further proceedings will be stayed? I should like, in putting the question, to point out that the name of the prosecutor has been omitted from the question as originally drafted.
MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER
Order, order! I explained to the Iron. Member the other day it was not usual to give the names of prosecutors.
§ MR. WEIR
Then I desire to know why, after in my question "John M'Lean, 80 years of age," the words "without a blot on his character" were struck out? while, as I pointed out to the Clerk at the Table, similar words in a question put by the hon. Member for Camborne appeared on the Paper three days in succession. I wish to know why an Englishman, 70 years of age, may be designated as a man without a blot on his character, whilst a Highlander, 80 years of age, may not be so designated?
§ SIR G. TREVELYAN
I am informed by the Procurator Fiscal that the locus of the offence was half a mile, not a mile, from the mouth of the River Broom, and that the respondents were sentenced to pay a fine of £1 10s. and £1 for expenses, or, in default, seven days' imprisonment. The proceedings were delayed as a matter of convenience to the witnesses who had to attend. I have been unable to ascertain the exact age of the respondents; one was an old man, but, I am told, a vigorous man. I have no means of ascertaining whether M'Lean gave orders to throw back into the sea any trout found in the net; but if he did his orders were not acted upon, because 39 sea trout were counted in the nets when hauled on shore and examined by the gamekeepers. The gamekeepers admit having taken a bit of the net for the purpose of evidence, but in virtue of 7 & 8 Vict., c. 95, they claim right to seize the whole net. The trial was concluded before the respondent's agent ap- 325 plied for an adjournment, and it was, therefore, impossible for the Sheriff to grant it. Under the Summary Jurisdiction Acts an induciœ of 48 hours is sufficient; but the respondents received notice on Saturday morning, and the trial did not take place until the following Tuesday. I may mention that the accused rendered themselves liable to the more serious charge of night poaching under the Salmon Fisheries Act, 1862, but that the more lenient procedure was adopted by the prosecutor on the present case under the Act 7 & 8 Vict., c. 95. In these circumstances, I see no reason to interfere with the sentence.
§ Dr. MACGREGOR (Inverness-shire)
Representing as I do a large fishing population interested in this matter, I beg to ask whether the time has not come when such things as are said to have occurred in this case should be made impossible? Seeing that the Fisheries Bill before Parliament would not deal with such questions, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will not withdraw that Bill and substitute for it next Session a more comprehensive measure which will deal with salmon as well as other fisheries? May I also ask—