§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £8,858, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1900, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of Her Majesty's Secretary for Scotland and Subordinate Offices."
§ * SIR WILLIAM WeDDERBURN (Banffshire)
I wish to ask what action has been taken by the Secretary for Scotland under Section 5 of the Sea Fisheries Act, 1895.
§ * THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. A. GRAHAM MURRAY,) Buteshire
I think that should be raised under the Fisheries Board Vote.
§ * SIR WILLIAM WEDDERBURN
My contention is that the Secretary for Scotland has an independent power for creating fishery districts, and that the point I wish to raise has nothing what ever to do with the Fisheries Board Vote.
* THE CHAIRMAN
I am quite aware that the Secretary for Scotland has powers in this matter outside the Fisheries and some other public Departments. Perhaps the hon. Member will further state his argument.
§ * SIR WILLIAM WEDDERBURN
The Secretary for Scotland has special powers under Section 5 of the Act to which I have referred, on the application 889 of certain authorities, to create and to extend the limits of fishery districts. I want to inquire what he has done in this matter since the passing of this Act. There is no doubt about the very great importance of the district committees which he is empowered to appoint. One of the principal functions of those committees is the provision of bait, and the management of mussel banks is a matter which also comes within this Act.
* THE CHAIRMAN
I understand the hon. Baronet is now dealing with something which does not come within the province of fishery boards, and which he desires should.
§ * SIR WILLIAM WEDDERBURN
No. I do not want this matter to be dealt with by fishery boards at all. I have no complaint against the fishery boards.
* THE CHAIRMAN
In order to clear up this point of order, I ask whether the hon. Baronet is going to discuss something which the Secretary for Scotland should or should not do in his capacity as Secretary for Scotland.
§ * SIR WILLIAM WEDDERBURN
Yes. I wish to discuss something which he should do in his capacity as Secretary for Scotland. This is a matter of very great importance to our fisheries. One of the most serious drawbacks from which they suffer is the want of cheap, fresh, and abundant bait. These District Committees are entrusted with the power of establishing and managing mussel banks, so as to provide the necessary bait for fishermen. But in addition to that there is a good deal of important work to do in the administration of fishery interests, and it is desirable for that purpose to obtain all possible local knowledge. Now both fishermen and fish-curers possess special knowledge of that kind, and the Fishery Board cannot be in a position to deal properly with these questions unless they get their assistance. At present the Secretary for Scotland appoints certain gentlemen as members of the Fishery Board on the ground of their being experts, but it often happens that a man who is an expert in one part of the country is not recognised as an expert in another part. In effect, undue prominence is given to certain local interests.
890 Section 7 of the Act provides that there shall be an annual conference and consultation of the representatives of the District Committees, so as to secure the benefit of their advice and knowledge. If the Lord Advocate does not put into force the powers he possesses under this Act will he tell us the reason why, and will he say what difficulties he encounters? Under the present law it depends entirely upon the initiative of local authorities to get District Committees appointed. Under the original Bill eight such District Committees would have been compulsorily established, and had that been carried into effect we should by this time have had the whole thing properly organised. But unfortunately that was not done. What I wish to point out to the Lord Advocate is that, so far as I am aware, but one attempt has been made in order to give effect to the Act, and that has proved to be altogether futile. I know, as a matter of fact, that in one particular district in which I am interested, and which is perhaps the largest fishing centre in Scotland, an attempt has been made to enforce Section 5. An application was by the Police Commissioner of sent Buckie to the Secretary for Scotland in March, 1897, to establish a district committee, which would embrace the fisheries on the southern side of Moray Firth. The local authorities who moved in this matter found it very difficult to induce the other local authorities to co-operate with them. It is a proviso in Section 5, that nothing can be done unless each of the local authorities concerned acquiesces in the application, and consequently the question of forming a fishery district has to be presented in such a way as is likely to lead to a refusal for fear of costs that may be incurred. Now, in this particular case to which I am referring, application was made in due course to the county councils of Nairn, Elgin, and Banff These were the counties which were to be taken in under the Order. Nairn gave a direct refusal on the ground that it represented an agricultural population which already suffered from a heavy burden of rates. Elgin ordered the application to lie on the table, and Banff sent no reply at all. As regards the town councils: Banff appointed a committee to consult with other local authorities, while Forces absolutely refused to entertain the application. The same amount of success attended the 891 appeal to several bodies of Police Commissioners. I mention this to show that at any rate an attempt has been made to carry out the law, and the failure has been due to the requirement that all authorities concerned shall voluntarily join in the application. As the compulsory proposal was rejected by the present Government, and as they introduced instead the purely permissive principle I do suggest that their administrative officers are more than ever bound to display activity in making use of the powers placed in their hands. I have no doubt that a good deal could be done in this matter by the exercise of a little judicious influence. It should be explained, for instance, that the expense necessarily incurred is very small indeed. In England, where these district committees have been established, the cost has been very light, except in Lancashire, where they purchased a fishery cruiser. Of course, one of the most important things is that local practical men should be brought into contact with the administrative machinery of Scotland—with, in fact, the Fishery Board, and I do believe that if more district committees were constituted, and placed in communication with the Fishery Board, that body might, with very great advantage to the fishery interests in Scotland, establish close times, and thus enable fishing to be carried on at a period more favourable to the general interest. It is important that we should get the fishermen and fish-curers organised. They are intelligent and skilful people, and I am quite certain that if they were properly organised in their local districts, public opinion would make itself felt, and great help would be given to the administration in dealing with difficult questions. Will the Lord Advocate tell us what has been done during the last four or five years, and will he give us an assurance that the Secretary for Scotland will use his influence with the local authorities to prevent the object for which this Section 5 was passed being rendered entirely nugatory.
§ MR. BUCHANAN (Aberdeenshire, E)
I wish, also, to bring before the House a question connected with fishery matters, and it is one which I have felt it my duty to raise in past sessions. It will be in the recollection of Scottish Members that, shortly after the present Government came into office, the Secretary for Scot- 892 land made a speech in Glasgow, in which he declared his intention of rendering the Sea Fisheries Act, 1895, effective in regard to the extension of the territorial limit. Under that Act, as hon. Members know, the territorial limit can only be extended with the consent of the other Powers bordering on the North Sea. The speech to which I am referring was made in December, 1895, and from that date until now we have been continually urging the Government to do something in this matter. May I point out that, in this respect, a special obligation rests upon the present Government, for it was Lord Salisbury himself at whose instance the proviso was inserted, preventing any extension of limit coming into force until an international agreement had been effected with the other North Sea Powers. Seeing that Lord Salisbury became Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary within two months of the Act being passed,, we did expect that he would have done something to make it effective. But, so far, nothing has been accomplished. Can the Lord Advocate give us any assurance that something will be attempted? I know the hon. Member who last spoke is under a somewhat pleasing delusion as to the possible effects of the Conference which has been going on at Stockholm. But it was never pretended by those who were responsible for the assembling of that Conference that it had other than scientific objects, and, therefore, I do not think we are justified in anticipating any practical results from it. We do want something practical done. It is quite time now that the many troublesome questions which are agitating the fishery world should be permanently set at rest by some kind of international agreement. There is the question of the extension of the territorial limit up to thirteen miles. Upon this some of the North Sea Powers are willing to come to an arrangement, and surely it would be possible for the Government to get the responsible Ministers of the various Powers to meet and come to some agreement. I do not suggest that the limit should be extended to thirteen miles in each case, but I would give power to extend it to various distances up to a maximum of thirteen miles. I am certain that if this matter were put in training, practical results would quickly ensue. There is another question I should like to touch upon, and 893 that is the habit of foreign trawlers fishing in the waters of the Moray Firth, which are closed to British trawlers. These foreign trawlers are not allowed to land their fish in Scotland, and so they take it to England. Surely this is a matter which calls for intervention on the part of the Government. Yet nothing has been done for two or three years. Cannot the Lord Advocate tell us that something is in training to do away with this grievance? Another grievance which has been felt in several counties in Scotland is in regard to the mode of distributing the equivalent grant. We in Aberdeenshire are placed at a disadvantage in this matter by reason of the fact that, for the purposes of the distribution, the rectified boundaries are not observed. I believe that in all some half dozen counties have a grievance in this respect, and I sincerely hope that the Lord Advocate will, when he speaks tonight, give us an assurance that this and other long standing grievances are soon to be brought to a practical solution.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
I am sorry to say I differ very much from the hon. Member who has just spoken, as to what is the proper remedy for any defect that there may he in our fishery system. At the present moment we land far more fish than we did ten years ago, and, consequently, those who complain of the conduct of foreign Powers, or of the Secretary for Scotland, ought to make out a far stronger case than they have as yet done. What suggestions have been put forward to-night? The hon. Baronet who first spoke wanted more fishery districts and more district committees, whose business it should be to establish mussel banks. I thought their business was rather to preserve existing mussel banks. Then the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire asked for the closing of the Moray Firth to foreign trawlers. In my opinion, that would be a most foolish and suicidal act. It must be perfectly manifest to anybody who knows anything about international law that the moment you begin closing any waters other Powers will follow your example. The further suggestion is made that the Secretary for Scotland should seek to induce foreign Powers to agree to an extension of the territorial limit from three up to something like thirteen miles. I think that that would be a profound mistake, if by that it is meant that every 894 Power should have the right of exercising jurisdiction for thirteen miles for fishery purposes. Such an extension of the territorial limit would operate mostly against English and Scottish fishermen. They are already excluded from many productive fishing banks off Denmark and elsewhere, and hon. Gentlemen, no doubt, are aware that some of the best fisheries are not on our coasts. If, therefore, this proposal were carried out we should be excluded from far more fisheries than we should be, able to exclude foreign fishermen from on our coast. We have, in fact, nothing to gain and everything to lose. I do not believe that any Secretary for Scotland, or any Foreign Minister, would do anything but harm to our fishery interests by increasing the prohibitive regulations. Already many delusions under which our people have laboured have been destroyed. There was, for instance, the delusion that trawling was destructive of the spawn of fish, and so on. That has disappeared, and I believe we shall soon witness the disappearance of another delusion—i.e., that as to the destruction of immature fish. As we know, there is before tins House a Bill dealing with under-sized fish. I believe it will prove inoperative if carried. I very much doubt if even the President of the Board of Trade can be taken as representing practical knowledge on the question when he pins his faith to a 10 inch sole. The hon. Baronet complained that the Secretary for Scotland did not foster in some way the formation of district committees. But he himself has shown that almost everybody is against the formation of these committees, and how, then, can he expect, in such a state of public feeling, that the Secretary for Scotland could do more than he has done? The suggestion is that the Secretary for Scotland should use his social influence to induce the local authorities to agree where they now disagree, and should stuff them with statistics about, say, 10 inch soles. But it should be borne in mind that these committees cost a good deal of money, and, at the same time, they are likely to impose all kinds of absurd and useless regulations import fishermen. We have some knowledge of these committees in England, and I have heard of some of the foolish things they have done. They are composed, for the most part, of farmers, who know a great deal about a haystack, but nothing about a 895 plaice, a sole, or a turbot. I do think unbecoming is unbecoming in a great country like this, where the fishing industry is so very important, that we should have practically no means whatever of gaining a knowledge of the habits of fish. No one can say, for instance, why last year and the year before no sprats were to be found on the East Coast, or why there are fewer soles on the Dogger Bank than years ago. In the United States they have a permanent Commission of Inquiry whose duty it is to collect in formation, and if we were similarly equipped we should be able in a few years to legislate on fishery questions. One result would no doubt be to abolish the Scottish Fishery Board, and to make a clean sweep of the district committees. Professor MacIntosh has done something for this question in his very able book, and I earnestly recommend hon. Members to study it. If they will only look at the matter from a practical point of view they will come to the conclusion that neither an extension of the territorial limit, nor the multiplication of local committees is desirable.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR (Forfarshire)
I think hon. Members will agree with me that the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken takes quite a false view of the whole situation when he insinuates that the trouble is mainly one arising from the difficulties between trawlers and line fishermen. He suggests that we should do away with the Fishery Board for Scotland——
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
I did not quite say that. I said we had better complete our knowledge, and that, when we had done so, the result would probably be the abolition of that Board and of the district committees.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR
The hon. Member looks forward to the Millennium. The knowledge which he admits we require can surely only be obtained by the efforts of specialists and by the aid of funds voted for that special object, and nobody has helped more in the very direction that the hon. Member wishes us to travel than the Fishery Board for Scotland. Let me remind him that one thing in which our very large fishing industry falls short is the supply of bait; we actually have had to import it in 896 Scotland year after year at a very large cost. This is the only country in the world in which so much coast line has not developed the cultivation of shellfish. We fall lamentably short in that respect, although such fish constitute a cheap, useful, and valuable accessory to the food supply of the population. If we could only develop mussel and clam beds it would be a great advantage. With regard to the proposal to extend the territorial limits, may I point out that it is clear, from the Debates which occurred on a previous occasion when legislation of this kind was proposed, that the real purpose of the extension is to give power to, the Fishery Board for Scotland to set apart certain areas and close them.
§ SIR. HERBERT MAXWELL (Wigtownshire)
Representing as I do a maritime constituency, I must offer a word of remonstrance at the expression which has fallen from my hon. friend the Member for King's Lynn with regard to, the Scotch Fishery Board. It should not go out that the Members for the maritime constituencies endorse the views of my hon. friend.
§ MR BRYCE (Aberdeen, South)
I desire to associate myself with the tribute which has been paid to the zeal with which the Fishery Board conduct scientific investigations, and to the value of their reports. In reference to the question raised by my hon. friend the Member for East Aber deenshire, viz., the proposal to extend the three-mile limit, we have had this subject frequently before the House, and I do not think it is possible to add anything to it. We have frequently been obliged to tell my hon. friend and those who think with him that it is quite impossible for this country to extend the limit. The experiment has been tried in the case of the Moray Firth, and everybody knows the extreme dissatisfaction and friction to which it gave rise. We cannot extend the thirteen miles without excluding our own subjects from waters which are open to the vessels of other Powers. The matter could not be better put than it was by Lord Salisbury, when, speaking on this subject in 1895, he said he "could not conceive that a state of things could be endured in which the foreigner might trawl and the Englishman might not trawl." In using the word Englishman he naturally intended to 897 include Scotland, for this is a method of expression with which we are all familiar. Lord Salisbury emphasised that point, and said it would give rise to extreme irritation on the part of the whole population if a British vessel were to be captured for trawling within a prohibited area, whilst a foreign vessel is to be at liberty to do so. We cannot extend the limit without excluding our own subjects from waters which are open to the vessels of other Powers. But I suppose my hon. friend desires to bring about an international agreement to extend the limit. The answer to that is two-fold. In the first place, those who have had any experience of endeavouring to negotiate a fishing agreement know that there is nothing in the world so troublesome, protracted, and unsatisfactory. Secondly, it would be more to the disadvantage than the advantage of this country to effect an international extension of the limit, because it would shut our fishermen out from fishing within the thirteen mile limit on foreign coasts. Farther, it would be almost impossible to enforce the policing of the seas at so great a distance from the shore as thirteen miles. It is not an easy matter at three miles. How would it be possible in thick or foggy weather to see whether a vessel is actually within the thirteen-mile limit? The difficulties are great already, and they would be incomparably greater if we extend the limit. I think my hon. friends are a little hard on the Stockholm conference. Surely it is of the greatest, possible advantage that every avenue of scientific knowledge and research should be opened in reference to this question, and I hope the deliberations will be pressed forward as much as possible.
§ SIR W. B. GURDON (Norfolk, N.)
I should like to say a few words in support of what has fallen from my hon. friends from Scotland, and especially do I desire to address myself to the real hardship from which the line fishermen suffer by their means of livelihood being destroyed by the action of foreign trawlers. In this matter we must all work together, because the same question affects the whole of the east coast of England. I believe that although our gunboats do their duty as well as they can, trawlers know these boats as well as a crow knows a gun. The only remedy seems to be an extension of the three- 898 mile limit. Of course that seems a rather formidable question, but I cannot see any reason why the North Sea Powers could not agree among themselves to, extend the limit, for fishing purposes alone, not to thirteen but eight miles. I am of opinion that this would be of great benefit to our hard-working fishing population. Of course we all know that deep sea fisheries are international, but the fish which hang about the coast and along the shores belong to the country whose coast they haunt. A mussel or a whelk can hardly be looked upon as an international fish. I hope that the Government may see their way to help us in this matter It may seem a small thing, but it is a real grievance, and it is in these small things that the happiness of life exists, and, in my opinion this House might often be better employed in dealing with these small matters than with those heroic measures with which it sometimes occupies itself.
§ * MR. WEIR (Ross and Cromarty)
what is wanted of the Secretary for Scotland is that he should give some attention to the matter of line fishing and arrange for the extension of the three-mile limit on the west coast of the highlands and islands of Scotland. He has the power to do so, without consulting the signatories to the North Sea Convention. Although we were, told that the Fisheries Conference at, Stockholm would look into the matter, it has done nothing of the kind. It is purely a scientific conference, and no attempt has been made to make it a practical one. I ask the Secretary for Scotland to increase the three-mile limit. It is a very serious matter indeed to the line fishermen, and the Secretary for Scotland knows it. Out of the total number of trawlers caught trawling within the three-mile limit, fifty-two had been caught more than once, and forty mere than four times in one year. The Secretary for Scotland knows that the law is continually broken, and yet takes no steps to enforce it, which is all I ask him to do. The hon. Member for Aberdeen appears to hold a brief for the trawlers. He talks of the experiment which is being made in the Moray Firth. It would be a good experiment for the line fishermen if the foreign trawlers were kept out of the Moray Firth, but no effort is being made to exclude them, and that is what I complain of. We expect 899 the Secretary for Scotland to look after the welfare of Scotland in this matter. The hon. Member for Aberdeen talked about international negotiations. The Secretary for Scotland should bring about an international agreement with regard to the line fishermen, who are simply being ruined by his neglecting to give effect to the powers he already possesses. Another matter which I constantly have to complain of is the sea police and the neglect of the Secretary for Scotland to look after the cruisers provided for the Scotch Office for the purpose of protecting the interests of the line fishermen. I am not speaking of the cruisers of the Fishery Board, but the cruisers loaned to the Scotch Office by the Admiralty. I asked the other day about the "Jackal," and I found that during four months she was only 77 days at sea. Another matter I wish to refer to, which is especially under the control of the Secretary for Scotland, is the harbour accommodation for fishermen. First of all there is Portness harbour. I saw this harbour many years ago before the Scotch Office interfered with it. It was always a dangerous place, but since it has been taken over by the Scotch Office it has become much more dangerous; the indifference which is shown to the state of this harbour is simply scandalous, and as a result there are more widows and orphans of fishermen in that district than in any other part of the British islands. For the right hon. Gentleman who represents the Scotch Office in this House to sit on the Government Bench and remain silent when he ought to speak is not the proper way for him to act. I got a promise from the Lifeboat Association that when this harbour was finished the question of placing a lifeboat there would be considered. Notwithstanding the fact that the harbour is so dangerous the Scotch Secretary does nothing. We were told on the 7th of this month that the Secretary for Scotland could not intervene further than he had done, and that he could not interfere directly. Why not? I want some action taken. We are told there is litigation, but litigation has been going on for years. Unfortunately, the Secretary for Scotland does not know the district. It is not fair that he should neglect such important matters. Now I come to the harbour of Portmahomack. The President of the Board of Trade inti- 900 mated that money would be set aside for the purpose of helping the construction of harbours, especially at places where the people were not able to carry out the work themselves. This is just one of the places that should be helped, but nothing has been done. I asked the other day what amount of local contributions would be required to justify an approach to the Treasury for a special grant in aid of the work, and I was told "two-thirds." But in such a district it is impossible. Another harbour I wish to refer to is Portnaguran, Island of Lewis. That was recommended by the predecessors of the present Government. A Commission appointed in 1890 went down to the place and recommended it as a suitable spot for a harbour of refuge. Such a harbour, which is very sadly needed, would cost something like £30,000. We know that this is a sum largely in excess of any amount which the Congested Districts Board can give. It is because the Congested Districts Board is unable to construct such a harbour that I asked the Secretary for Scotland to approach the Treasury. We are told that a pier was put up on the other side of Broad Bay, Island of Lewis, but that is not the slightest use. It is intolerable that we should be shunted about from pillar to post in this way, and because of the indifference of the Secretary for Scotland I beg to move to reduce his salary by the sum of £50.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item A (Salaries) be reduced by £50, in respect of the salary of the Secretary for Scotland."—(Mr. Weir.)
§ * Sin JOHN LUBBOCK (London University)
My hon. friend the Member for King's Lynn spoke in terms of just praise of the Marine Biological Laboratory, but scarcely did justice to the Scottish Fishery Board. As one who has paid some attention to natural history all my life, I should like to recognise the debt of gratitude which we owe to the Scottish Fishery Board for its valuable work. As to the question of the extension of the territorial limit, it might no doubt be an advantage on certain parts of the Scottish coast to extend the limits, but the question must be treated as a whole, and cannot be considered from the point of view of one particular district only.
* Mr. R.C. MUNRO FERGUSON (Leith Burghs)
The first subject raised this evening was the constitution of the local fishery committees. There is one point in support of the constituting of these committees that I wish to bring before the notice of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and that is the provision of bait. There is no doubt that line fishing in Scotland is considerably handicapped by the deficiency in the supply of bait, and that the ownership of bait is not a popular form of property. If these committees were established I believe a larger supply of bait would be forthcoming. It has not been popular in many parts of the country to own the scalps where the bait is obtained, and it is still more difficult to start mussel-beds on new ground. If these rights were exercised very grave difficulties between the fishermen and the officials would be the result. I think also that we should have suitable ground put under mussels, for very great benefit would result from it to the fishing industry. The other subject which I will very briefly refer to is the protection of the line fishermen against the trawlers. For my part I do not quite follow the argument of my right hon. friend the Member for South Aberdeen, and I find myself a good deal more in accord with the work accomplished by the Solicitor-General in the Moray Firth. The only thing I regret about this is that the Solicitor-General has not been able to complete his work there. But if these foreign trawlers can come down into the Moray Firth and land their fish at English ports, that upsets all the work done by the Solicitor-General in closing the Moray Firth. Experience has shown that in the narrow waters the whole supply of fish can be taken out by the trawlers, and the English Channel has been almost entirely cleared of fish by these trawlers. Then again the line fishermen have a very serious cause of complaint, because their lines are carried away by the trawlers. This is a very severe grievance under which the line fishermen suffer, and I do hope that something may be done either by an international arrangement, or by local regulalation to protect the line fishermen against unnecessary damage. I think the question of an international arrangement might have been more vigorously pushed forward, although we recognised that the recent conference in Sweden will do some good, and we look forward with con- 902 fidence to regulations being made in order to meet the justice of the case. We all agree with what my right hon. friend the Member for Aberdeen said with respect to a scientific inquiry, although there has been a good deal of controversy upon the book which Professor Mackintosh wrote on this subject. We have only got now to the fringe of the subject in regard to scientific investigation, and in the fishing industry, as in agriculture and many other of our main industries, I believe that a little money spent by the State will result in the return of many thousands of pounds to that particular industry. I am sure there is no one in this House who would object to money being granted for scientific investigation.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
I am afraid that an important experiment may be spoiled because the Scottish Office has not carried out a suggestion which we understood was going to be carried out many years ago. Ten years ago the Solicitor-General put into the Herring Fishery Act a clause empowering the Fishery Board to prevent the landing at certain ports in Scotland of fish illegally taken in the Moray Firth; but the hon. and learned Gentleman was not prepared to go to the whole extent of Great Britain, because if he had done so he would have been met with the opposition of the English trawlers. Now although we have prevented these foreign trawlers from selling their fish in Scotland, they can still come down to Hull and Grimsby to sell their fish, and surely they should also be prohibited in English ports as well as Scotch. Ten years have elapsed, and in that great inland water white fish entirely disappeared, but in three years under proper protection white fish have come back again. The experiments made in this matter are vitiated by the fact that although foreign trawlers can come into the Moray Firth, English trawlers cannot come there. The way to remedy this is to amend the Herring Fishery Act by leaving out the word "Scotland" and substituting. "Great Britain," and then they could not go into either Irish or English ports to sell the fish which they are prohibited from selling in Scotland. I understand that the English trawling industry would have no objection to that. The English trawlers are very smart, and they are turning themselves into foreign trawlers, because 903 in the capacity of English trawlers they cannot do what they are permitted to do as foreigners. We have had a Select Committee of this House which sat a couple of years ago, before which evidence was given by every class of fishermen, the English trawlers being well represented. The practical evidence of the men who had been twenty or thirty years working as trawlers was that under the present steam system the growth and development of young fish could not go on, because the trawler was there night and day, with the result that you have practically destroyed all the nurseries of your fish in both the German Ocean and the British Channel. The result is that the price of fish has increased four or five fold what it was under the old system. Now the trawlers have got to go further and further afield to fish, in the Bay of Biscay and other places. The Bill was passed, and an Amendment was inserted by Lord Salisbury under curious conditions, because it was put in after the Bill had, been read a third time, which cannot be done under the regulations of this House.
* THE CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is not in order in discussing matters of legislation in Committee of Supply.
§ DR. CLARK
I was only incidentally mentioning that this Amendment was inserted after the Third Reading, a thing which we cannot do in this House. Upon this subject we have urged upon different occasions reforms, and we have brought pressure to bear upon the Secretary for Scotland because we thought it was incumbent upon the noble Lord to see that the Bill was made effective. It is said that we ought not to permit any extension of the three-mile limit, and that if we did we would be striking at the naval power of Great Britain. But surely we could have an extension for scientific and fishery purposes. Such an agreement could be arrived at with foreign Powers, and several of them desire it. The greatest obstacle to it has been the British Government working in the interests of a certain class of English fishermen. The grievance of the Scottish fishermen is twofold. First of all, certain areas ought to be marked off for trawlers, and others for line fishermen into which trawlers could not come. Then, again, the Scottish Office ought to be able, with the concurrence of the President of the Board of Trade, to have the provision forbidding foreign fishing 904 smacks selling their fish in Scotland extended to England also. I hope the Board of Trade will not object to a measure of that kind.
§ MR. ASHER (Elgin Burghs)
I should wish, before the right hon. and learned Gentlemen replies to the various questions which have been raised, to direct attention to the extremely unsatisfactory condition of the law at present with regard to the Moray Firth. I represent a very large number of fishermen on the Moray Firth, and it is impossible for anyone to visit that district without becoming aware of the very great amount of inconvenience and dissatisfaction which prevails in that locality, due to some extent to a cause which it is entirely in the power of the Scottish Office to remove. I desire to associate myself with all that my hon. friends have said with reference to the great desirability of some effort being made by the Government to effect a new convention with the sea Powers in the North Sea, with a view to the extension of the fishing limit. I believe in adopting that view we would be acting on the confirmed opinion founded on experience of the whole fishing population on the East Coast of Scotland. It is quite true they are not scientific men, but they have a great deal of experience in this matter, and the result of that experience is that trawling in the immediate vicinity of the coast not only interferes with line fishing, but is so destructive to young fish as to he highly prejudicial to fishing interests generally. What is the position of the law at present with regard to the Moray Firth? By the legislation of this country, trawlers are prohibited from landing fish trawled in the Firth in any port in Scotland. We know quite well that it is entirely beyond the power of the Government or the Scotch Office or this House to pass any law which would have the effect of excluding foreign trawlers from the waters outside the three-mile limit. We are quite aware also, when we press that an effort should be made to extend the limit, that it is a matter requiring great consideration, and that there are difficulties in the way which the Government might find it almost impossible to get over. We all know how difficult it is to get the North Sea Powers to agree in matters of this kind, and we also know that larger questions may be brought forward at the same 905 time, involving considerations not exclusively connected with fishery matters. We are not so unreasonable as not to realise the difficulties which exist, but there is a matter with regard to which no similar difficulty arises. One of the great grievances of the Scottish fishermen at the present time is that foreign trawlers in the Moray Firth, although they are not entitled to land their fish in Scotch ports, are entitled to land it in English ports. It is entirely within the power of the Government to effect a remedy in that matter, and what I desire to direct the attention of my right hon. and learned friend opposite to is whether the Government will not seriously consider the propriety of making a change in the law which will have the effect of rendering it illegal for foreign trawlers to land fish trawled in the Moray Firth at any port in the United Kingdom. I do not say that that would be a complete remedy for the grievance of which we complain. Undoubtedly what we desire is a convention having the effect of excluding trawlers altogether; but we believe, upon very strong grounds indeed, that if it were illegal for foreign trawlers to land fish caught in the Moray Firth in any port in the United Kingdom it would have the effect of reducing, and probably removing the grievance altogether. It is a very simple matter, and I am quite sure if the Government introduced a Bill for this purpose——
* THE CHAIRMAN
I must rule out of order any remarks upon or discussion of proposed legislation. The question before the Committee is the salary of the Secretary for Scotland in his administrative capacity.
MR. POWDR, (Waterford, E.)
As an Irishman I think I may congratulate Scotland on the Manner in which its fisheries are being looked after. I remember when, after evidence, a law was brought in which prohibited steam trawlers trawling within three miles of the Scottish coast. I believe that law has worked most advantageously for Scotland, and that a 906 great deal of harm has been stopped; but I very much regret to say that what has done Scotland good has done Ireland a great eat deal of harm. The Irish authorities care very little for the fishing industry, and the steam trawlers which were sent away from Scotland now invade our coasts, and we have no power to stop them. The Inspectors of Irish Fisheries have laid down certain regulations, but the steam trawlers ignore them, and the Treasury will not even assist us to the extent of giving us a gun-boat to enforce the regulations which the Fishery Inspectors have established. I hope the matter will have the attention of the Government.
§ * MR. A. GRAHAM MURRAY
The hon. Member for Banffshire asked me to tell him what has been done by the Secretary for Scotland in respect of the power conferred on him by Section 5 of the Sea Fisheries Regulation Act. The hon. Member for Leith also dealt with this subject, and both hon. Members brought forward this matter especially with reference to the difficulty that had been felt with regard to the supply of bait, and they indicated their view that local committees should be formed for the cultivation of bait. I cannot dissent from what they have said on the question, because it is a matter of very great importance to the fishermen of Scotland. It is not altogether an easy matter to deal with. I would remind the Committee that the experiment was recently made by taking over with a view to cultivation the mussel beds of the Clyde, but I am sorry to say that the result has been to involve us in litigation. Unfortunately local feeling was against the experiment in one of the places selected, and of course as long as human nature is human nature people will not like being excluded from taking bait from a place from which they have been used to take it. When I come to what is my actual business in this matter, the pressure, namely, on the Secretary for Scotland to take action, I am bound to say that the Secretary for Scotland could not have done anything under Section 5 of the Act, because the only condition under which he could act had not arisen. So far as I know, only two applications have been made at all—by Buckie and Cockenzie. In the case of Cockenzie it was found that 907 the application was for too small a district; and in the case of Buckie they ran straight against Section 5, because they had not the consent of the other local authorities, and therefore they could not go on. The Secretary for Scotland had, therefore, done nothing, because the condition under which he could act had not come into force. Passing from that, we come to the well-worn fishery question. It was raised by the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire on the matter of the thirteen mile limit. The hon. Member used rather strong language, which would suggest that the North Sea Conference which had taken place lately was a mere device on the part of the Government to shelve the subject.
§ * MR. A. GRAHAM MURRAY
The hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty says "Hear, hear." He ranges himself on the side of the hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire, whose words were that the Conference was meant to hoodwink the country, and that no practical result could be expected because the Conference only made a scientific inquiry. I should rather have thought that scientific inquiry was necessary, in order that from what was found out you aught deduce practical results. I do not know any branch of learning art, or study in which we do not have to begin with a scientific inquiry, and then to go on to apply in a practical way the data so obtained. I do not blame one atom the general tone of the discussion, for 1 do not think that the hon. Member's view was endorsed by any other hon. Gentleman who spoke. We have had a good deal of expression on the other side of the subject. Vie have had a speech from the hon. Member for King's Lynn. Anyone who heard that speech, and who came to the subject with a fresh mind, might have got the idea that trawling was most beneficial to fish culture. Surely scientific investigation would be at least of some use if it stops the mouth of the hon. Member for King's Lynn. I have sufficient confidence in the views expressed by the great majority of hon. Members who have spoken, to think that scientific investigation would show that to allow trawling every where is not the wisest way to cultivate fish. So far as my personal sympathies are concerned I go along with 908 the expression that was dropped by the hon. Baronet the Member for North, Norfolk, that the fishery on the coast ought to be recognised as the natural provision for the line fishermen. But this is not a question of personal proclivities, but a question of intricate difficulty. I think the hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire will see on reflection that the Scientific. Conference was all to the good, and that we may expect sonic practical results from it. My right hon. friend the President of the Board of Trade reminds me that our delegates to the Conference got instructions of a character that enabled them to raise any practical question as flowing from the scientific questions, so that practical questions must necessarily come in. I cannot conceive that we did not get a feasible basis for approaching the case. At the same time this is, of course, a very delicate question so far as actual action goes. No one regrets more than I do the practical difficulties that are connected with the Moray Firth. I regret it for the reason put forward by the hon. Member for Caithness and others. I think a very crucial and useful experiment has been spoiled by the action of the foreign trawlers in that neighbourhood. But at the same time I do not see what more could have been done. It is quite clear that we could not have excluded the foreign trawlers; and it is quite clear that without legislation we could not prevent the fish being landed in England. As hon. Members know, the Secretary for. Scotland has power to prevent the fish being landed in Scotland. I would be very glad to see the law altered in the sense in which several hon. Members have spoken; but that is beyond me and the Department for which I am speaking, and, moreover, it may not commend itself to all parties in the House. The hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty seems to think that the Secretary for Scotland without going to the foreign Powers could do something specially for the West Coast. I have tried to explain this matter to the hon. Member, and I must have done it badly, for he always returns to the charge and makes of it as much a grievance as ever. He seems to think he puts me in a dilemma by first saying that this is a case in which the North Sea signatories are the first persons to be consulted in regard to the thirteen mile limit; and when I say "Yes," he asks me to say that the 909 Western Islands are not the North Sea.
§ * . A. GRAHAM MURRAY
He asked categorically whether the Western Islands were in the North Sea, and I told him they were not.
§ * MR. A. GRAHAM MURRAY
We have got to this point—a statement that the Secretary for Scotland, without consulting the signatories to the North Sea Convention, may extend the thirteen-mile limit to the West Coast. Well, to that I give a categorical denial. Section 10 of the Statute says that the Fishery Board may by bye-law, prohibit trawling within thirteen miles of the Scotch coast, provided that no area of the sea within that limit shall be deemed to be under the jurisdiction of Her Majesty for the purpose of the section, unless that shall be accepted as binding upon their own subjects with respect to such area by all the States signatories of the North Sea Convention, The matter is really too plain for argument. What the hon. Member seemingly cannot bring himself to believe is that the North Sea Powers may have an interest as to where their subjects can go, although the places where their subjects go may not be in the North Sea. And therefore, rightly or wrongly, when the power was given to the Fishery Board in Scotland to forbid trawling within thirteen miles, that was conditioned by saying that nothing shall be held to be within the jurisdiction of Her Majesty unless you get the assent of the North Sea signatory Powers. I think the Committee will see that in this matter the Secretary for Scotland could not have done what the hon. Member urges he should have done. As I have said before, we do not propose to make any alteration in the existing Act, and we propose to put in force every 910 power we have got. One or two other small matters have been mentioned in the course of the discussion. The hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty referred to Portmahomack Harbour. I have already told the hon. Member how that matter stands. He has asked why the Scottish Office does not interfere. We do not interfere because, if we did, we should make the Scottish Office liable for the contractors' account, which at present it is not liable for. The hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire has asked a question as to the mode of distribution of the grant in connection with the alteration of boundaries. I can assure him that it is done in accordance with a legal ruling which was given, not by me, but by my predecessor, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Clackmannan (Mr. J. B. Balfour). The Secretary for Scotland was advised by my right hon. friend that it would not be according to law to distribute the grant in any other way than is done at present.
§ DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)
I will not be so rash as to enter into the discussion which has raged so furiously around the Moray Firth, or into, the vexed question of line fishing. But I desire to endorse the remarks of the Lord Advocate with regard to the great importance of the scientific investigations now being carried on under the superintendence of Professor Mackintosh. Of course the old antagonism goes on between science and practice. It is very inconvenient for so-called practical men to have some of their more cherished superstitions demolished by the advance of science, and in this respect I allude especially to those who take a certain side in fishery matters. I hope these admirable investigations will be carried on, and that the Government will not stint the contributions from the Treasury, convinced as I am that nothing but good can come from the Conference. I should, however, like to know (1) what instructions the British delegates are going to get before they leave this country; and (2) who they are.
§ MR. HEDDERWICK (Wick Burghs)
I very readily and gladly welcome the expression of personal sympathy from the Lord Advocate upon the question which has been under discussion. I for one am perfectly sure that that sentiment will not 911 hinder any action in the direction which most of us upon this side of the House desire to see the Scotch Department take. But while I may be allowed to welcome that expression of personal sympathy of the Lord Advocate, we must remember, that we have not to deal simply with the Lord Advocate in his personal capacity. We have to deal with the Scottish Office, and those of us who are interested in fishing constituencies in Scotland have some cause to find fault with the action, or rather inaction, of that Department. The Scottish Office has not done all that it might have done to develop and multiply the bait beds on the north-east coast of Scotland. I altogether share the views which have been expressed by the hon. Member for the Elgin Burghs with reference to the vexed and difficult question in connection with the Moray Firth. There is no doubt that it is a very great grievance in that part of Scotland that foreign trawlers should have the right to fish in the Moray Firth, and should find convenient ports in England for the disposal of their fish, which they are not permitted to sell in Scottish ports. I do not think that the Scottish Office, having regard to the views which have been so strongly expressed by the Lord Advocate, have done all they might to remedy the grievance. The next point upon which I think we have some reason to complain is with reference to the Stockholm Conference. Again and again during this session we have pressed the Lord Advocate to afford us some information as to the British delegates who are to represent this country at the Conference, and not only that, but we have asked again and again for information with regard to the scope of that Conference, and to this day we have not had the slightest information upon these points, either from the Lord Advocate or the First Lord of the Treasury. I cannot for myself see why this should be made a mystery of. In connection with this matter an important deputation, representing the fishermen and the fishing constituencies in the North of Scotland, recently had the privilege of waiting upon the Prime Minister, and one of the main objects of that deputation was to impress upon the Prime Minister the necessity, in the interests of an industry which, I believe, finds employment for something like 50,000 men in Scotland, of extending the 912 fishing limit. I must say that the Prime Minister received that deputation very sympathetically, and led us to believe that so far as in him lay the matter would not be neglected. He also expressed the hope that something might be done at the Conference which would enable the Government to take steps to extend the limit. Under these circumstances we are fairly entitled to complain of the attitude of the Scottish Office, and if my hon. friend takes a Division on the subject I shall certainly feel obliged, while I have no wish to diminish the Vote, to go into the Lobby with him, in order to add weight to the opinion which has been expressed on this side of the House with regard to the action of the Scottish Office. At the same time I wish to make one or two observations upon the speech of the hon. Member for King's Lynn. We all know the very great interest which the hon. Member takes in everything connected in the slightest degree either with the Navy or with anything which is marine, and he has shown to-day that he takes a very great interest also in Scottish fisheries. He has given us a great deal of good advice, and he has told us, in effect, that we are poor ignorant creatures, and know nothing about fishery matters at all, and that we are under many delusions, one of them being our belief in the Fishery Board of Scotland. We have all been under the hallucination until now that the Scotch Fishery Board has done a great deal of excellent work, and is an admirable institution, and it has remained for the hon. Member for King's Lynn to tell us that it is an entire delusion, and that the Scottish Fishery Board is of no value whatever, and the sooner we abolish it the better. Another "delusion" is that the closing of the Moray Firth had been of some advantage to the community in that part of Scotland, for the hon. Member for King's Lynn has made the discovery that the closing of the Moray Firth is a foolish and suicidal Act. The hon. Member for King's Lynn is, no doubt, a great authority on naval matters, but I venture to say that the knowledge which is acquired from experience, and from direct contact with fishermen who have spent their lives upon the sea, is of much more value than the advice hurled at our heads across the floor of this House by the hon. Member for King's Lynn. I cannot altogether agree with my right hon. friend the Member 913 for South Aberdeen that it would he an extremely difficult thing to come to an arrangement in dealing with sea Powers. No doubt there might be some difficulty in coming to an agreement with all the other Powers interested, but it should be the endeavour of statesmanship to overcome difficulties. This is not a mere fish question; it is a question of men as well, for on one side you have some 50,000 hard-working fishermen, and on the other some 6,000 men employed on trawlers. Surely that of itself, especially when we bear in mind the character of these men, and their value to this country as a great sea-going Power, ought to stimulate us to do everything we possibly can to protect such a large, industrious, and highly-deserving class of the community.
§ perform a certain work, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see that they perform it.
§ MR. A. GRAHAM MURRAY
The Admiralty have lent these ships for a specific purpose, and they carry out the duties assigned to them efficiently. It is out of the question for the Secretary for Scotland to interfere with the amount of leave given to the seamen on Her Majesty's ships. I think the answer which I gave to this question on a former occasion was a sufficient one, and I must respectfully decline to interfere.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 71; Noes, 134. (Division List, No. 269.)915
|Allan, William (Gate-Ahead)||Duckworth James||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Allison, Robert Andrew||Dunn, Sir William||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Palmer, Sir Chas. M. (Durham)|
|Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire)||Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Fenwick, Charles||Pickard, Benjamin|
|Billson, Alfred||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Reckitt, Harold James|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Foster, Sir Walter (DerbyCo.)||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Goddard, Daniel Ford.||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Hayne, Rt. Hn. Charles Seale-||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Burt, Thomas||Hemphill. Rt. Hon. C. H.||Souttar, Robinson|
|Caldwell, James||Horniman, Frederick John||Steadman, William Charles|
|Cameron, Sir Charles(Glasgow||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Cameron, Robert (Durham)||Kilbride, Denis||Thomas, A. (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Carvill, Patrick G. Hamilton||Kinloch, Sir J no. Geo. Smith||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cumb.)||Wallace, Robert|
|Clark, Dr. G. B. (Caithness-sh.||Leng, Sir John||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Lyell, Sir Leonard||Whittaker. Thomas Palmer|
|Colville, John||Macaleese, Daniel||williams, J. Carvell (Notts.)|
|Crombie, John William||M'Ghee, Richard||Wilson, H. J. (York, W. H.)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||M'Leod, John||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Davitt, Michael||Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Dewar, Arthur||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Molloy. Bernard Charles||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Doogan, P. C.||Morton, Edw. J.C.(Devonport)||Mr. Weir and Mr. Hedderwick.|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Moulton, John Fletcher|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Banbury, Frederick George||Butcher. John George|
|Arnold, Alfred||Barnes. Frederic Gorell||Campbell, Rt. Hn. J A (Glasgow|
|Arrol, Sir William||Bartley, George C. T.||Carlile, William Walter|
|Asher, Alexander||Barton. Dunbar Plunket||Cayzer, Sir Charles William|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H.(Bristol||Chamberlain, J. Austen (Wore'r|
|Baillie, James E. B. (Inverness)||Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Blundell, Colonel Henry||Charrington, Spencer|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Bowles. T. Gibson (Kings Lynn)||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. G.W. (Leeds||Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Coddington, Sir William|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Heaton, John Henniker||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Helder, Augustus||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter|
|Colomb, Sir John C. Ready||Henderson, Alexender||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Courtney, Rt. Hon, L.H.||Hermon-Hodge, Robt. Trotter||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Hill, Arthur (Down, West)||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Hozier, Hon. James Henry C.||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Kemp, George||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Laurie, Lieut.-General||Smith, James Parker(Lanarks.|
|Cruddas, William Donaldson||Lawrence, Sir E Durning, (Corn||Smith, Hn. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Curzon, Vicount||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Stanley, Hon. A. (Ormskirk)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Leighton, Stanley||Stanley, Edward Jas.(Somerset|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn(Swansea||Stanley, Sir Henry M. (Lambeth|
|Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter(Liverpool||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lowles, John||Strauss, Arthur|
|Doxford, William Theodore||Lubbock, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Sutherland, Sir Thomas|
|Drucker, A.||Lucas-Shadwell, William||Thornburn, Walter|
|Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph D.||Macdona, John Cumming||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Fellowes, Hon. A. Edward||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J.(Manc.||M'Ewan, William||Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.|
|Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)||M'Iver Sir Lewis(Edinburgh W||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John L.|
|Finlay, Sir R. Bannatyne||M'Killop, James||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Firbank, Joseph Thomas,||Maple, Sir John Blnndell||Williams, J. Powell- (Birm)|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Maxwell, Rt. Hon. Sir H. E.||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose-||Middlemore, John T.||Wilson, J. W. (Worcester, N.)|
|FitzWygram, General Sir F.||Monk, Charles James||Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.)|
|Flannery, Sir Fortescue||More, Robert J. (Shropshire)||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Garfit, William||Morgan, Hn. Fred.(Monm'thsh.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Gedge, Sydney||Murray, Rt. Hon. A.G. (Bute)||Wrightson, Thomas|
|Gibbons, J. Lloyd||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Wylie, Alexander|
|Goldsworthy, Major-General||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Wyndham, George|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Northcote, Hon. Sir H. Stafford||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Pilkington, R. (Lancs, Newton||Young, Commander(Berks, E.)|
|Greville, Hon. Ronald||Priestley, Sir W Overend (Edin.|
|Gull. Sir Cameron||Purvis, Robert||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Halsey, Thomas Frederick||Pym, C. Guy||Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robt. Wm.||Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir Matthew W.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ SIR CHARLES CAMERON (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
I wish to move the reduction of this Vote by £500, in order to call attention to what I consider to be a case of gross maladministration in Scotland. My reason for moving to reduce the salary of the Secretary for Scotland is because he is responsible for the police of the country, and although this case also comes in another Vote, I think it would be better to discuss the whole question under this rather than to discuss a part now and a part in another. The case I refer to is that of Dr. Lamont, recently medical officer of South Uist. When Dr. Lamont was appointed to his post in South Uist a virulent epidemic was raging through the island, the length of which is thirty-eight miles, and its greatest breadth eight miles; and in dealing with that epidemic Dr. Lamont showed such indefatigable zeal and such disregard for personal danger—travelling day and night over his wide parish which was originally divided into two, and for half of which another man had been appointed, who, seeing that what he had to do was an impossibility, resigned, 916 that he received a special letter from the Local Government Board conveying to him the Board's high appreciation of his conduct. The sheriff, who made an investigation at the instance of the Local Government Board into some gross case of neglect and incompetency that had taken place during the epidemic, also spoke in the highest terms of Dr. Lamont, and censured the officials of the parish council. But friction having arisen owing to Dr. Lamont's action in connection with an outbreak of scarlatina in some schools which he caused to be closed, his action being upheld by the Local Government Board, the parish council interfered and he was discharged, and vacated his office in July. He came to. London and secured the position of medical officer in the Poplar Workhouse. Dr. Lamont's new duties were not to begin until September, and he had left his personal effects in the island. He returned to the island later in order to get his effects and spend the time until he came up to assume his new duties, but when some of his enemies saw him return they feared that he was going to settle among them again. They accord- 917 ingly determined to get rid of him, and some charges, pronounced by a jury to he unfounded, were trumped up against him, and a warrant was issued for his apprehension on September 10 last year. The alleged offences had been committed in the previous year during the heat of his engagements owing to the epidemic. Dr. Lamont was told by a policeman that some charge was being brought against him, and he had better not leave the island until that matter was dealt with. But he, having to go south on September 15th, informed the policeman that he would be found at his mother's house in Glasgow. On September 17th, at midnight, a policeman came to the house in Glasgow, dragged the doctor out of bed, lodged him in the prison cells over Saturday and Sunday, and finally he was brought up in court on Monday morning and sent back in custody of the police to South Uist, where he was put in the cells for another night, being brought before the acting sheriff next day. So far as I have been able to find out, Dr. Lamont was arrested without a warrant being in the hands of the police at all. No one has been able to see the warrant, and when we applied to see it the right hon. Gentleman was under the impression that during the four days that this unfortunate man was in the cells no warrant existed. The Procurator Fiscal in the island, who has shown the greatest malice in the matter, on a telegram from the chief constable of Inverness, took steps to arrest Dr. Lamont in Glasgow; but the law on the subject is that a warrant only runs in the district under the jurisdiction of the magistrate issuing it. The warrant should have been endorsed in Glasgow, but it was neither endorsed nor sent there at all. If the police had been in possession of the warrant unendorsed Dr. Lamont's arrest would have been illegal. The only person who can be treated as Dr. Lamont was treated is a convict under licence, who can be arrested without a warrant if it is thought that he is getting his living by dishonest means. The charge brought against the doctor was that of fabricating and issuing false certificates—in other words, something very like forgery. The offence, if any was committed, was against the regulations issued by the Local Government Board as to the Vaccination Act, not an offence at common law. But nobody knows what those regulations are; neither Dr. Lamont nor 918 anyone else has ever seen those regulations, and search has been made for them in vain in the Reports of the Board of supervision. The warrant, moreover, was not entered in the books of the Sheriff. I doubt the statements which have been made, because the information given to us by the right hon. Gentleman during the whole course of the case has been notoriously inaccurate. I acquit the right hon. Gentleman of any intention to deceive, but he will admit what I state, and therefore I am not inclined to trust without some documentary corroboration any other statements coming from the same source. Then, allowing the existence of a possible criminal attempt, the amount in question was of the very smallest and most paltry character, but the bail demanded was £100. Dr. Lamont went off on this and a fresh warrant was issued. On that warrant another attempt was made to arrest him. Again a policeman went to his mother's house and bullied the old lady to such an extent that at last she gave the doctor's address in London. How in the world did the Crown Office ever permit these extraordinary proceedings in the case of a purely technical offence at the very outside, and where a moment's reflection and inspection would have shown them that it was a trumped-up offence? Had the police a warrant when they went to Dr. Lamont's mother's house to arrest him on this second offence? On whose authority was it that that transaction took place? But the worst matter in the whole ease is the way in which these warrants were obtained. Not only was the sheriff the committing sheriff who gave warrant after warrant, but during the whole time he was issuing these warrants he was being paid substantial sums as a witness. That is a thing which every man here will deprecate. I cannot conceive such a course being pursued in England, and by way of bringing the matter to an issue I beg to move the reduction of this Vote by £500.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That Item A (Salaries) be reduced by £500, in respect of the Salary of the Secretary for Scotland."—(Sir Charles Cameron.)
§ * MR. A. GRAHAM MURRAY
I am placed in a somewhat difficult position in 919 this matter. I am very anxious to avoid saying anything which would seem either unsympathetic towards Dr. Lamont, or in any way to appear that I am not fully conscious of the really excellent services of Dr. Lamont on the island. But the hon. Baronet has treated this case scarcely wisely, and has circulated a pamphlet which shows a thorough ignorance of the criminal procedure of his own country. He draws such erroneous deductions that it is absolutely impossible for me to allow the matter to stand as he has left it, and not to explain to the Committee, as I should, how, although I exceedingly regret that Dr. Lamont was subjected to the indignity of imprisonment, that imprisonment was perfectly legal. There are two separate matters—that of the prosecution and that of the arrest. The hon. Baronet has talked about it as a trumped-up charge, a small inaccuracy, and being under the Vaccination Acts. It was not under the Vaccination Acts at all. It was a prosecution at common law for falsely uttering a certificate, and I should be very much astonished if anyone in this House would get up and say that for a man in a good position, who was discharging a public duty, knowingly to put his hand to a certificate that he knew would be used for a legal purpose, and who knew that the statement to which he was putting his hand was not true——
§ SIR CHARLES CAMERON
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman would wish me to correct an omission of mine. The jury unanimously found Dr. Lamont innocent.
§ * Mr. A. GRAHAM MURRAY
I am perfectly aware of that, and I would very much sooner not have gone into the question of the prosecution at all. But the hon. Baronet must remember that juries are entitled to take some liberties and very often to find persons innocent when they think the merits of the accused on ordinary occasions have been such as to justify them in finding the charge not proved.
§ MR. HEMPHILL (Tyrone, N.)
No one ever heard of such a doctrine as that. Surely the verdict is conclusive.
§ * MR. A. GRAHAM MURRAY
The verdict was "Not guilty," and it is conclusive as to the question of whether or not Dr. Lamont was guilty of the crime. I am not for one moment attempting to say that it is otherwise, but it is not conclusive as to the question of what evidence was before the prosecutor when he ordered the trial. The point I was arguing was whether a charge against a doctor of falsely issuing certificates can be Considered as a trivial and trumped-up charge. The evidence upon which the case went to trial consisted of sixteen charges, and that in all those sixteen charges there had been a certificate given without the doctor having seen the patient after vaccination. In nine of those cases it is alleged he gave a certificate for a successful vaccination the moment he had vaccinated, but he qualified that by saying that he understood the certificate would not be used unless the operation did turn out successfully. The evidence given in Dr. Lamont's behalf at the trial consisted to a large extent of the statements of other doctors, who said that they were in the habit of granting certificates of successful vaccination when they had not seen the children, but had had information conveyed to them that the vaccination was successful. I should be very much surprised if medical Members in the House would uphold that as a right practice. I do not want to say anything against Dr. Lamont to lose him the benefit of his verdict, but on the other hand I think I am justified in asking Members to believe that the evidence on those sixteen charges was such as would certainly warrant a conviction.
§ SIR CHARLES CAMERON
How many cases were on the petition when the original arrest was made, and when the four nights' imprisonment in the police cells were suffered?
§ * MR.A GRAHAM MURRAY
There were as far as I know, six or seven, or something like that in the original—it may be only four or five; but, as matter of fact, before the thing was done, there. 921 were from thirty-five to forty cases put forward. Of those all but sixteen were rejected, and the trial actually proceeded upon those sixteen eases. The others were rejected because the evidence was not considered to be sufficient. On the matter of the prosecution, it is utterly unheard of to allege that there is a miscarriage of justice when you are in a position to say that on sixteen charges you had evidence quite clear as far as it went, sufficient to justify a conviction. Then I come to the question of the arrest. The initial grievance of the hon. Baronet is as to what he calls the "warrant." Everybody would suppose from his speech that when you got a warrant you want specially to make an arrest. In Scotland you do nothing of the sort. Under the Scotch law, when the Procurator Fiscal proposes to institute proceedings against anyone he goes to the sheriff with a petition, which says that he has reason to believe that So-and-so is guilty of so-and-so, and therefore he asks to be empowered to examine witnesses upon oath, if necessary, and also to arrest the accused person in order to have him brought up on the first step of Scotch procedure—viz., declaration. Upon that he is committed by the sheriff for trial. As a matter of fact, every petition for trial of any sort in Scotland contains a warrant of arrest. But the law is always very temperately carried out. If a person is not expected to become a fugitive from justice the warrant is not executed, and the Crown Office are always very anxious that arrest should never be made unless absolutely necessary. All the powers of the Procurator Fiscal as to examining witnesses and so on are based on that warrant.
An hon. MEMBER
A very serious question has been raised as to whether there was such a warrant. Can the Lord Advocate assure the House that there was?
§ * MR. A. GRAHAM MURRAY
Of course there was; I have seen it. That is one of the most extraordinary insinuations in the pamphlet.
§ * MR. A. GRAHAM MURRAY
What could be the necessity for fabricating the idea that there was a warrant? The Procurator had it in his power to get a warrant on any day of the week. The hon. Baronet has made an incursion into the Sheriff's Court Books, and seemed to think it wrong that the warrant had not been recorded in those books. As a matter of fact, warrants at common law trials never are recorded in the Sheriff's Court Books, and, furthermore, if they had been it would not have shown him anything, because there is no rule as to recording the date. Now comes the first real conflict of testimony. It is said that Dr. Lamont had been warned by the police that something was being brought against him, and that he ought not to go away. Dr. Lamont says he told the police officer he was going away to his mother's in Glasgow, and that the police officer raised no objection. There he is contradicted directly. The police officer says that, so far from telling him he was going away, he rather concealed his departure and went at night. Which of those statements is true I have no means of judging. Even assuming Dr. Lamont's version is true. the point is not what Dr. Lamont really said, but what was the representation the police officer made to the Procurator Fiscal. The Procurator Fiscal lived about five hours by steamer away. The police constable wired that Dr. Lamont had left. The Procurator Fiscal, not knowing where lie had gone or anything about it, considered that Lamont had broken the understanding that he would stay in the island, and so he wired to the Chief Constable at Inverness saying, "Lamont has absconded. Have him arrested." This is the point in which I consider a mistake was made. I think it would have been more in accordance with the milder administration of justice which we are happily accustomed to in Scotland if the Procurator Fiscal, instead of giving immediate instructions for the arrest of Lamont, had applied to the Crown counsel in Edinburgh, because had they been applied to they would have seen that the arrest was unnecessary. From the very first time the hon. Member interrogated me I have always expressed, and I again express, my great regret that Dr. Lamont was subjected to the indignity of arrest, and that the Procurator Fiscal took the step he did. But the Committee must remember that while I 923 regret that, it is quite a different matter to say that the arrest was illegal. I must remind the hon. Baronet opposite that if the arrest was illegal there are ways of trying it by a civil action.
§ * MR. A. GRAHAM MURRAY
Against the police. With regard to the definition given in "Bell's Dictionary," that work may be a very convenient repertoire, but it is not exactly an authority upon the law of Scotland. I think the hon. Baronet will observe that if "Bell's Dictionary" was quite right, arrest by telegraph would be impossible. It is quite obvious that if people are arrested by telegraph, the warrant cannot possibly be in the hands of the people who carry out the arrest. I do not think it will be found that the arrest was illegal at all. On receiving the communication from the Inverness police that the Procurator Fiscal wished to have Lamont arrested, the Glasgow police acted in the only possible way they could have acted by arresting him. He was arrested on a Saturday night, and the result was that he could not be brought before the magistrate until Monday morning. But when he was brought before the magistrate—and the hon. Baronet left this out altogether—he had seen his agent on the Saturday, and he also saw him on Monday, when he went before the magistrate, and there was not the slightest reason why he or his agent should not have demanded bail there and then. Unfortunately, no such demand was made, and though he went in custody to Lochmaddy to make his declaration he did not suffer any indignity during the journey. As a matter of fact he travelled with an Inverness officer in plain clothes, and there was nothing like being in custody about the affair, for he was allowed to go about the ship like anybody else, and he was not imprisoned.
§ * MR. A. GRAHAM MURRAY
The hon. Member knows the boats better than I do, but that does not matter. Dr. Lamont was taken straight by whatever conveyance was most convenient, and he was not, so far as I am aware, imprisoned.
§ * MR. A. GRAHAM MURRAY
My information is that he went straight to Glasgow without being subject to any indignities whatever. My point at this moment is this—that if he had applied for bail in Glasgow he would have got it. The hon. Baronet said that the police took out another warrant, but I think I have explained that this was a necessity under the Scotch law, for after they had found his address, then the report of the case came up in the ordinary way. There was nothing for the Crown counsel to interfere in at that time, because the man was out on bail; if they had found him in custody they might have interfered. That is the whole case; and although I knew nothing of the case at the time, having since looked at the papers, in my humble judgment, so far as the prosecution is concerned, I think it was a perfectly right and justifiable one. I cannot look upon the fact of knowingly giving a certificate which was false as a small matter. I say this in the abstract, and not in reference to Dr. Lamont, because I regard him as an absolved man. What I do say is, that in this case there was proper evidence to go to trial upon. As regards the arrest, I think the Procurator Fiscal erred not on the side of illegality, but on the side of severity by not applying to the Crown counsel before having him arrested. But the arrest, such as it was, was a perfectly legal arrest; and although I have expressed from the first my regret that a man who had done such yeoman service as Dr.Lamont had done should have been subjected to this arrest at Glasgow, yet I cannot look upon him as the victim of maladministration of justice.
§ SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derbyshire, Ilkeston)
There are certain points in this case which have not been cleared up by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. I must say that the whole case is quite a 925 revelation to me as to the administration of justice in Scotland. I have always had great respect for Scotch law, and for the administration of it; but this case has considerably weakened that respect, and has made me suspicious of the methods by which the law is carried out in Scotland. It is perfectly evident that we have here a case of the most arbitrary action on the part of the authorities and of the police—a method of action which would destroy the authority of the law in any civilised community. It is all very well on such technical grounds to try to justify this procedure, but the procedure in this case was contrary to common sense in the administration of justice, and has inflicted a very great injustice on a man who has deserved well of his country. First of all here is a man who goes down, probably a little too earnest and a little too zealous in his work, to this locality. He devotes himself to the public health of that district with a devotion which calls forth the highest commendation from the Local Government Board of Scotland. In carrying out that work, naturally he excited a certain amount of irritation and jealousy on the part of the local authority; he gets into difficulties with them, and they dismiss him from his post. Here we have an illustration of the injustice of the law with regard to the dismissal of medical officers, for in this case Dr. Lamont had no right of appeal to the Local Government Board.
§ * MR. A. GRAHAM MURRAY
That law was passed in 1894, and I personally, and many others, voted for the medical officers having the right of appeal, in cases of dismissal, to the Local Government Board.
§ SIR WALTER FOSTER
I think that, knowing this was an injustice, it is the duty of the right hon. Gentleman to try and remedy it. There has been a Bill introduced by the hon. Member for Camlachie to alter this, and hope the right hon. Gentleman will give it an opportunity, at all events next session, of being passed into law. Now, Dr. Lamont, having excited this local indignation, has to suffer from it by these charges. As to the charge of issuing false certificates, I do not defend that for a moment, but let us consider 926 how far these charges are false. Under the Act of 1863 the medical officer has to make the following declaration in giving a certificate of successful vaccination:—I, the undersigned, hereby certify that the child of so-and-so has been successfully vaccinated by me.That is the certificate of a successful vaccination. Now, I contend that the circumstances of this case show that this was a malicious charge. Let us consider the conditions under which this irregularity in the giving of Vaccination certificates occurred. It occurred at a time when a terrible typhus epidemic was raging in that locality. Dr. Lamont was busily engaged vaccinating children many miles away from his home, and during this epidemic he performed many other duties which did not belong to his profession, such as putting the corpses in the coffins and other matters which were out side his ordinary duties, simply because the people were so panic-stricken with this epidemic that they would not go near the bodies. And when Dr. Lamont was doing all these things, the local authority seized that moment to persecute the doctor for not going miles and miles away every day from his fever patients in order to see if a child's vaccination had properly taken. I say that a more malicious charge against a member of an honourable profession I never heard of. That is the condition of things which went on in this locality, and which the Public Prosecutor in that district ought to have considered further before taking the steps he did. The law was actually set in motion by an old antagonist of this medical man, and that is the way in which the whole thing sprang up. That is the kind of conspiracy which went on in this locality against a man doing his duty zealously in the locality, and I think it is only due that all professional men ought to be protected from such charges as these whilst carrying out such responsible and very often difficult work. Having found out that these charges were being made against him, Dr. Lamont immediately communicated with the police, gave them his address, and went to Glasgow to take up duties elsewhere. Now the fact that he gave the police his address ought to have been sufficient, and therefore all necessity for putting this man in prison had ceased, for he gave the police ample opportunity 927 of finding him. But under this haphazard and scandalous administration of the law in Scotland this gentleman is taken into custody at twelve o'clock on Saturday night; the is put into a police cell, and is not brought out till Monday morning, when he is taken some hundreds of miles in charge of a policeman to undergo the process of making a declaration; and he has to spend another night in prison before he is brought up for this declaration. I say that that is not a proper, judicious, and common-sense administration of the law. It is an injury and indignity to a man which he ought not to have suffered, and although the right hon. Gentleman has expressed in appropriate terms his regret for what was a miscarriage in the administration of justice, I, think we ought to have something more. Dr. Lamont was put to a considerable amount of expense, for the sixteen charges, were placed before a jury, although the prosecution only relied upon two of them. I desire to point out that the verdict given was not one of "not proven," but the verdict was "not guilty," which gives him a clean sheet, and no one has any right to put an imputation on his character. This case has arisen from administering justice without that common-sense which I believe would have been displayed if the administration of the law had been entrusted to agricultural labourers. A considerable amount of local malice has been displayed, and I think we ought to make some recompense to this gentleman for the indignity put upon a member of an honourable profession, and some, compensation should be given to him for the expense and the time and the trouble he has been put to over this stupid and altogether indefensible maladministration of the law in Scotland.
§ * SIR W. PRIESTLEY (Edinburgh and St. Andrews Universities)
I think every Member of the Committee who has listened to this story must be of the opinion that Dr. Lamont has been very harshly treated. Here is a man working through a deadly epidemic in the locality he is placed in, and all at once, without any summons whatever being issued, he is arrested and placed in the position of a felon in prison, where he is allowed to remain from the Saturday till the Monday, and he is given no opportunity to clear himself before the resident magis- 928 trate. I cannot help expressing my very great regret for this arrest, and I thank the Lord Advocate for taking the view that it is regrettable that this harshness should have been shown towards this unfortunate man. In reference to the signing of a false certificate, which has been explained very adequately by my hon. friend on the Opposition Bench, it is said that Dr. Lamont did not actually know a regulation was in force to the effect that he was to visit the patient for the purpose of seeing that the vaccination was effective before the certificate is signed. I know that a great many doctors do not know such a regulation exists, for many medical men have written to me on the subject recently. No vaccination can be regarded as effective unless it has been seen to take its proper course, but in this locality where Dr. Lamont was living, he often had to traverse thirty-five miles to see his patients. He had, at the same time, this epidemic upon his hands. He was doing his best, trying to save the lives of those who were dying from typhus fever, which is quite different to typhoid fever, and more like "Black Death," for whoever touches the body is liable to infection. And yet Dr. Lamont never shrank from his duty, but did all he could when no one else would go near. Let me here say that I share the regret expressed by the Lord Advocate and the hon. Member for Ilkeston that at the time the Public Health Act was passed we did not give the right of an appeal to the Local Government Board when a medical officer was dismissed. It seems to me that this omission will lead to much misunderstanding, and I think next session there should be a Bill introduced which will remedy this evil. I am not at all disposed to incriminate Dr. Mackenzie, the magistrate who signed the warrant, without knowing more of the whole of the circumstances. He possesses an eminent medical degree, and he has made himself very useful in the parish in which he lives. I feel convinced that he would not have signed the warrant unless he thought he was perfectly right in doing so. I am very anxious indeed to dissociate him from any malice, for I believe he is a man who is not likely to allow prejudice to sway his judgment in matters of this kind. In conclusion, I feel certain that something ought to be done in the way of compensation. I do not know what 929 form it will take, but the Lord Advocate should consider how it can best be done. I also think that some severe reprimand should be administered to the authorities who caused all this un necessary distress, and who were responsible for this inhuman attack made upon an honourable man.
§ MR. ASQUITH
I knew nothing of this ease until I came down to the House this evening, but having listened carefully, and I hope impartially, to what has been said on both sides, I must express my deliberate opinion that the procedure adopted in this case was a great mistake in the administration of justice in Scotland. I do not agree with the Lord Advocate's statement that there are here primâ facie grounds for a prosecution. So far as that matter is concerned, I dare say the Procurator Fiscal had no option but to allow the proceedings to be taken, but there could be no justification for his having ordered the arrest of Dr. Lamont for an offence of this kind. It was a very trivial charge against a respectable gentleman who was in a high public position, and who had discharged his duties with the admiration of his neighbours. What did the Procurator Fiscal do? He sent a telegram to Inverness, without taking any steps to discover where Dr. Lamont had gone, to secure his arrest, and he did that in a case which, as I have said, involved a charge of a comparatively trivial character—a charge the initiation of which was surrounded with the very gravest suspicion, because it was preferred against this medical gentleman who had rendered noble and I do not hesitate to say heroic services, at the instance of the very people who had procured his dismissal. If ever there were an occasion when a magistrate was not only justified, but bound to pursue the course which common sense and usage prescribed, it was this. Nevertheless, the Procurator Fiscal telegraphed to Inverness to procure this gentleman's arrest, without taking the precaution of asking the police whether they knew where he was or not. It was an odious process by which this gentleman was arrested in the very place which he himself had given before he left the island. He was arrested at his mother's house in Glasgow, hauled out of his bed on a Saturday night, spent the whole of Sunday in the police cells of Glasgow, and was brought up next day before the magistrates. The 930 right hon. Gentleman says, "Why did he not ask for bail?" The probability is that he could not have procured bail, because it is not everybody who can procure bail in a town where he himself is not resident. After having been brought up on Monday he was compelled to take a journey in the custody of a police officer, which lasted one day and two nights, and during the whole of that time he was not only technically-but actually under arrest. I am bound to say such an incident could not possibly occur on this side of the Tweed. I do not think that my hon friend, who raised this question most properly in the interests of justice, was going a step too far when he said that if the, criminal law of Scotland were administered in such a way the confidence of the Scottish people in the administration of justice would be very greatly shaken. I do trust we shall have a further and more adequate statement from the right hon. Gentleman—who has most handsomely expressed his own personal regret—as to the steps he proposes to take to compensate Dr. Lamont, having regard to the gross absence of all sense of propriety, proportion, and decency on the part of the officials who administer the law.
ADMIRAL FIELD (Sussex, Eastbourne)
I must say I have never heard of any case of harsher treatment than has been meted out to this unhappy Dr. Lamont. The man's conduct was heroic in the discharge of his duties, and if there were such an order as the civil order of the Victoria Cross I think he would deserve it. I am not, however, going to vote for the diminution of the Lord Advocate's salary. He has done his duty under great difficulties, and has won our approval and admiration, but I think he should speak out in this House more strongly by way of denunciation of these incompetent Scottish officials. God help us if we had such men in our country. I think Dr. Lamont could not have been treated worse if he had been a felon guilty of the most atrocious crime. Why was not a summons issued? The Lord, Advocate tells us that a warrant having been received from the Procurator Fiscal it was bound to be carried out. I think these officials should have used their own discretion. I should like to see any member of the Government coming before me and asking for a warrant for the arrest of 931 any man. Why did not the magistrate offer to bind him over in his own recognisances, which he might have done? The excuse made by the Lord Advocate for this gross miscarriage of justice is inadequate to meet the case, which has not been in any way overstated. If there had been a technical offence committed it could have been met in the ordinary way by a reprimand, and I think the medical gentlemen of this House have made out a strong case for an appeal in such cases to the Local Government Board, instead of poor law officers being, as they are at present, at the mercy of irresponsible, unreflecting, and vindictive officials. I think the whole ease from beginning to cad was one of vindictive spite. I believe no compensation is possible in this ease, and compensation is a difficult thing to give, but if anybody were fool enough to entertain a bad opinion of Dr. Lamont this discussion would re-establish him as a man worthy of our greatest respect and esteem. These men who have failed in their duty should certainly he censured by the Secretary for Scotland, and if Dr. Lamont cannot be compensated, he should at least be awarded the very serious costs he has incurred. I have only risen because I am indignant, and I wish to show as an Englishman and a magistrate that I have sympathy with a case of this kind, and that as an English Member I warmly support the Scotch Members in this matter, and I say we are not satisfied with the answer which has been given. We all admire the Lord Advocate, but we are not satisfied that he has given that amount of official censure which the case demands.
§ DR. FARQUHARSON
The hon. and gallant Admiral used two words, "vindictive spite," which to my mind indicate the real meaning of this case. I have no doubt that the verdict of this Committee will be the same verdict that Dr. Lamont got from a court of law when he left the court without a stain on his character. I was very much disappointed indeed with the defence of the Lord Advocate. I have no doubt that from a feeling of loyalty to his officials the right hon. Gentleman thought it his duty to defend them against the charge brought against them. This is a case surrounded with more narrow, wretched, 932 and vindictive spite than I have ever come across in the whole course of my existence. Here was Dr. Lamont working single-handed against death and pestilence. He attacked single-handed typhus fever when others fled; he watched the dying moments of the sufferers, actually put them into their coffins when they died, and I am not sure that he did not bury them with his own hands. Those officials, whose cowardice was very properly denounced by those in authority, afterwards entered into a mean and wretched conspiracy to hound this brave man out of office. The fact is that the Chairman of the School Board and the Chairman of the Parish Council are one and the same individual, and I am ashamed to say that a minister of religion did not think it beneath the dignity of his office to denounce Dr. Lamont at the open grave of one of his patients in such vigorous terms that no person dared to, consult him, and because of the sway of this priestly despotism none went near him, and several died from want of medical attendance. Dr. Lamont beat them on their own ground. He beat the Chairman of the School Board, and he ordered the school to be shut up. We have had the facts of the case put very clearly before us. It is, indeed, a miserable, lamentable story, and the Lord Advocate's answer is to my mind singularly insufficient to meet the facts of the. case. The Lord Advocate seems to cast some aspersion on the finding of the jury, but Dr. Lamont was arrested on sixteen charges, one of which was withdrawn, and he was triumphantly acquitted by the jury of the rest, leaving the court without a stain on his, character. I consider that instead of being abused, persecuted, and cast into prison, it would be far more to the purpose if he were brought to the Bar of the House and, like an illustrious general recently, had handed over to him a sum of public money to compensate him for his trials, his work, and his difficulties. Many of us feel very strongly that something should be done, not to reinstate Dr. Lamont, but to give him some practical and substantial consolation for his lacerated feelings, and also for the loss of money and the temporary loss of prestige which he incurred in consequence of one of the meanest and most despicable bits of persecution which it has ever been my lot to hear exposed in this House.
§ MR. ALEXANDER CROSS (Glasgow, Camlachie)
I cannot understand how there can be any other solution of this question than the condemnation of the officials whom the Lord Advocate shelters under his wing. I heard what the hon. and gallant Admiral said about the administration of the law in Scotland, and I am surprised to find that many other Members of this House are not as indignant as he is. It appears to me that the only course for a just, prudent, and careful Government to adopt in a case so monstrous and unjust as this is to punish the guilty officials.
§ * MR. A. GRAHAM MURRAY
I do not really know whether the hon. Gentleman was in the House when I spoke.
§ * MR. GRAHAM MURRAY
Then I think it is almost a pity that the hon. Gentleman expressed himself so strongly. I did not disguise from the Committee that I thought the conduct of the officials was wrong in ordering the arrest. Instructions ought to have been taken from the Crown Office. However, after all is said and done 1 do not see anything wrong in this case except what I have put my finger upon; and, as to that, to the best of my ability, I will take proceedings by conveying censure.
§ MR. ALEXANDER CROSS
I was detained on business of a public nature during the reply of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, and I regret I was not in the House, but I gather from what I heard of the Debate that those who were interested in this case were not satisfied with what had I went promised. I want, in the first place, compensation so far as it can be given to this gentleman who has been so hardly used, but I want also to prevent such a thing occurring again. Dr. Lamont was dismissed by the local authorities without any appeal to the Local Government Board in Edinburgh. Poor Law officers in Scotland are denied the right of appeal which is possessed by Poor Law officers in England under the Local Government Act of 1894. There is a right of appeal in respect of the duties and emoluments of Poor Law officials, but the effect of the administration of that appeal is that when the authorities in Edinburgh redress the grievances of a Poor Law officer in that respect the local 934 authorities dismiss him. I hope the Government will not take up an attitude on this question in which I cannot follow them. I hope the Government will not mistake my attitude, but I cannot follow them when they are wrong. A great amount of scandalous injustice has been done, and there should be a strong vindication of any man who has been so unjustly used.
§ DR. CLARK
A very important point has been overlooked, namely, that a conspiracy took place for the purpose of attempting to ruin a man who tried to do his duty. We are going to determine tonight whether the Procurator Fiscal aided and abetted the conspiracy, or whether he acted ignorantly. What we want to get at is whether the Procurator Fiscal acted ignorantly or wilfully, and so far as the evidence goes, it seems to show that he acted as vindictively as the parish priest. What happened was this. A gentleman was appointed medical officer of health, and he found himself in antagonism with the body who appointed him. The Local Government Board in Scotland sent down an inspector, new result of the inquiry made by him was that the men who had employed Dr. Lamont acted with meanness and cowardice, and that Dr. Lamont received from the Local Government Board a testimonial couched in more extravagantly eulogistic terms than were ever given to a Civil servant. Here is a case of a local body not doing its duty, and behaving in a contemptible manner, for which they were denounced by the Local Government Board. I agree with the hon. and gallant Admiral that the Scottish criminal law is of a very oppressive character unless it is well administered—it all depends on the administration. The letter of the law gives terrible power to the Procurator Fiscal, but that power is very seldom abused. It has been abused in this case, and abused wilfully, and though the Lord Advocate has not power to dismiss the Procurator Fiscal concerned, we shall be asked to vote that official's salary later, and I hope we will not do it. We have to determine whether this person acted ignorantly, and ought to be let off with a censure, or whether he aided and abetted in a conspiracy to crush Dr. Lamont. What happened? The Roman Catholic clergyman was chairman of the school board, and also chairman of the parochial board. The Procurator Fiscal is unfortunately a 935 Catholic, and is to a certain extent under the influence of the priest. I agree with the Lord Advocate that the magistrate had no choice when he was applied to but to grant a warrant, though, unfortunately, he was afterwards a witness in the case himself. What we want to arrive at is the motive which actuated him in the course he took. The English Local Government Board and the Scottish Local Government Board had a perfect right to lay down conditions under which they pay persons for public vaccination, and if an officer does not carry out those conditions it might be within the power of the Procurator Fiscal under Scotch Law to have considered that he was endeavouring to obtain money by false pretences; but this was not a case of pauper patients paid for by the local authority; the persons concerned were his own private patients. As a medical officer of health I have done. similar things, and on similar principles it might have been said that I had been receiving money on false pretences. I have signed hundreds of death certificates without seeing the persons who were dead. I have signed certificates of successful vaccination, without seeing the children. In one case the child was in Scotland, and in another case the child was in Switzerland. These children could not be brought from Switzerland and from Scotland so that I might see them, but I was perfectly satisfied that the mothers honestly informed me that the children had been vaccinated. That is exactly what Dr. Lamont did when he was fighting this terrible epidemic of typhus fever. So far as Mr. Chisholm is concerned, I do not see that there was a shadow of a shade of evidence to justify his demand for a warrant. I think with the facts before us we ought to have some evidence that, in a matter of this kind, the Procurator Fiscal did not abuse the terrible powers placed in his hands. There was not the shadow of a shade of evidence against Dr. Lamont, and the judge and jury could have clone nothing else than find a verdict of not guilty. It was monstrous, after the man was out on bail, and his address was known, to try and get him re-arrested.
§ * MR. A. GRAHAM MURRAY
There were a great many new charges. At the first there were only five charges, but by this time there were about forty.
§ SIR CHARLES CAMERON
Might I ask whether there was not another war- 936 rant issued on 12th December, bringin all these things into a focus?
§ DR. CLARK
All that the priest did, The priest went to every child that had been vaccinated. I hold that this was a bogus prosecution. What we want to get at is, did the Procurator Fiscal act ignorantly or wilfully? The whole of the evidence seems to show that the Procurator Fiscal in the course he took acted as vindictively as the parish priest. The question is, cannot some compensation be given to Dr. Lamont; for if anyone deserves compensation he does. This is a case of the Crown prosecuting a gentleman for doing his work too well. Surely the cost to which Dr. Lamont was put ought to be voted by Parliament. I remember a sheriff who was tried, and found guilty, and this House voted his costs. Surely if that were done in the case of a guilty man, it should be done in the case of a man found innocent. There ought to be some further investigation as to whether the Procurator Fiscal was one of the parties to this malicious prosecution, and if he was he should be dismissed. I do not know whether there can be a prosecution against the priest and the other conspirators, but if possible it should be done, and full compensation granted to Dr. Lamont.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
I never heard of this case until now, but I have listened to the discussion with great interest and attention. If I make any slip in stating the view I take, the House will forgive me, as I have not been able to go very carefully into the details. But as I understand the speeches which have been delivered, there has been great and most natural indignation at the treatment of this medical officer, who, on the authority of the Local Government Board, has not only done his duty, but has done it in an exceptionally able and satisfactory manner under circumstances of exceptional difficulty and trial. Dr. Lamont was attacked at the instance of the local authorities whom he was serving. The Procurator Fiscal is alleged by the hon. Member for Caithness to have taken part in what he has described as a conspiracy.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The facts presented to the hon. Gentleman at all events suggested to his mind that not only had the medical officer irritated the local authorities whom he was serving, by discharging his duties efficiently, but had also brought down on his head the animosity of the Procurator Fiscal, who may have abused the powers which the law of Scotland puts in his hand in an oppressive way against this distinguished officer. We have got to consider what the result of the vote of the Committee would be, and what it would indicate on the part of the Committee. My right hon. friend the Lord Advocate has been asked what course he would take, and he has told the Committee that he has looked into the case, and as far as his investigation shows the Procurator Fiscal has deserved censure. That censure will be given. The suggestion has been made that the Lord Advocate should not only censure the Procurator Fiscal, but dismiss him. But the Lord Advocate has no legal power whatever to do that. No blame attaches to my right hon. friend for not doing that which the law does not allow him to do. All that the law permits he has promised to do, and that, no doubt, he will do. Then we come to the local authorities, who, if the statements made are to be accepted, are the real authors of this tragedy, the persons on whose shoulders rests the responsibility of the persecution of this medical officer. Now, I understand that under the law of Scotland a medical officer has no redress against the arbitrary action of the local authorities.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I regret that that should be the case, and although perhaps ninety-nine out of a hundred local authorities in Scotland would use the powers they possess with absolute equity, I think we ought to possess the power to protect medical officers whose duties must occasionally bring them into collision with, and subject them to the arbitrary 938 action of, those who are their employers' and against whom it may be their duty at the same time, to proceed. But though that is the state of the law at the present time, I should like to say that no vote of this House in Committee of Supply can affect one way or another, directly or indirectly, the merits of the question. Therefore I venture to suggest that, so far as my right hon friend the Lord Advocate is concerned, it would not be proper for the House to express an opinion on the question by a Vote on his salary. There remains the question whether any action could be taken against the local authorities, who, it appears from this discussion, are the real "villains of the piece." I have no means of ascertaining whether the charges brought against them are true or not, but those hon. Members who have investigated the case appear to think that these charges are true; that the local authorities have been misled by passion, prejudice, and personal aversion, and that there was no foundation for that passion, prejudice, and personal aversion, One thing at least is certain, and that is that the medical officer has done all that man could do to earn the grateful thanks of the community he served. Again, however, my right hon. friend the Secretary for Scotland has no means of punishing the local authorities or even expressing in any official way his reprobation of their conduct. Of course, if it could be shown that, in the legal sense of the word, there has been any conspiracy against the medical officer, then it would be the duty of the public authority to take up the case and prosecute the offenders. But as to the motives which animated the local authorities in the case, there is nothing before us or before my right hon. friend which would for a moment, however well founded our suspicious may be, permit or justify in any legal or technical sense the taking of legal or criminal proceedings against them. I think that both the local authorities and Dr. Lamont must feel after this Debate that the sense, at all events, of the Committee of the House of Commons is strongly in favour of the medical officer, and that the action taken against him is viewed with distrust, if not with something much stronger than distrust. But I think that the position of hon. Gentlemen who are interested in. this Debate would not be strengthened, but weakened, by a vote against my right 939 hon. friend, who has done all that he could do, or against the Secretary for Scotland, who has, after all, done everything that can be done, and certainly has omitted to do nothing which it was in his power to do. Certainly an adverse vote could not do anything either to protect the medical profession generally or Dr. Lamont in particular from any evil consequences arising from the due, courageous, and disinterested exercise of their duty under circumstances of exceptional difficulty and great personal danger.
Attention called to the fact that forty Members were not present; House counted, and forty Members being found present—
MR. McLEOD (Sutherlandshire)
It seems to me that after the sympathetic attitude taken up by the Lord Advocate and the First Lord of the Treasury, we have reached a point when we might expect from the right hon. Gentleman a statement as to how he proposes to compensate Dr. Lamont for the undoubted wrong that has been done to him. All the censure in the world might be showered upon the Procurator Fiscal, but this will do no good to Dr. Lamont. A case like this could hardly have arisen if the Crown Office had done its duty. There is one further point with regard to Dr. Lamont. I know the amount of ground he had to cover hi this district, and apart altogether from the epidemic, if Dr. Lamont had had to see every child after vaccination, he would not have been in his house one day in three. Another extraordinary thing is how Dr. Lamont came to be prosecuted at common law instead of under the Vaccination Act. The reason for that was that the charge could be made more grave. I know all the persons concerned in this scandal except Dr. Lamont, and I must say I do not think they would be guilty of conspiracy, but it is a gross case of mal-administration, and it seems to me that if the Scotch Office did its duty this could not have arisen. I hope the Committee will not allow this Vote to go until we have had a definite promise from the Lord Advocate that Dr. Lamont shall be at least compensated to the extent of the considerable cost to which he has been put.
§ * SIR WALTER FOSTER
I hope this discussion may now finish. We have had 940 a very sympathetic speech from the First. Lord of the Treasury, which we can only understand to mean not only that the Procurator Fiscal will be censured, but that, as far as it is possible, compensation will be made to Dr. Lamont for his out-of-pocket expenses. I think that being so that those who support the Amendment have obtained all that they sought to gain. We have vindicated the character of the gentleman with respect to whom the question has arisen and insured compensation for him, and I think now my hon. friend might well withdraw his Amendment.
§ * MR. WEIR
There is one fact I should like to bring under the notice of the Lord Advocate. The right hon. Gentleman made no observation in regard to the Hon. Sheriff Substitute. That gentleman is the brother of the factor of the landlord of the island. The best way to deal with the Procurator Fiscal would be to reduce his salary, and I hope my hon. friend will not withdraw his motion until we have a positive assurance that Dr. Lamont will be compensated and that the administration of the law in these remote parts of Scotland will be conducted with greater justice than it has been in the past.
§ SIR CHARLES CAMERON
I am going to withdraw my motion, because the matter has been discussed in a previous Vote, and we had a very sympathetic and satisfactory speech from the First Lord of the Treasury, who said the Procurator Fiscal should be reprimanded, and I think if any man can feel a reprimand the Procurator Fiscal will feel ho has received a severe reprimand by what has taken place to-night. The jury who tried the case recommended that the expenses that Dr. Lamont had been put to should be refunded, and, under all the circumstances, I think it would be most ungenerous for me to refuse to withdraw the motion.
§ * MR. GRAHAM MURRAY
I have the authority of the Leader of the House to say that he considered himself bound to look into the question of compensation.
§ Motion by leave withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.941
§ * MR. WEIR (who was inaudible in the Gallery)
was understood to ask for some information with regard to a sum of £550 paid to the Consulting Engineer of the Scotch Office, and also another item. The hon. Gentleman said every piece of information asked for in this House is met with the stereotyped reply that it is under consideration.
§ * MR. A. GRAHAM MURRAY
The hon. Gentleman asks as to the salary of the Consulting Engineer. I can only say that the gentleman is engaged in any engineering work that may be required, and I might further say we do not pay men of this kind so much au hour. We pay for the skilled training. With regard to the item under "office," that represents travelling expenses between the two offices of the Scotch Department—the London office and the Edinburgh office.
§ * MR. WEIR
I am not complaining about the ability of this engineer. It is because I have a high opinion of that gentleman that I wish to get his views in regard to the Harbour which the Commission appointed by the Conservative Government of 1890 recommended should be constructed at Portnaguran, Island of Lewis. I complain of the Scottish Office denying me that information.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That That a sum, not exceeding £16,169, be granted to Her Majesty to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1900, for the salaries and expenses of the Fishery Board in Scotland and for grants in aid of piers or quays.
§ MR. COCHRANE (Ayrshire, North)
I should like to call attention to the matter of beam trawling in the Clyde. The question arose in 1889, when the Fishery Board obtained power to make bye-laws to open any narrow waters in Scotland. Under those powers they issued a byelaw in 1889 throwing open the very part of the Clyde which ought to be closed—the part frequented by fish during the spawning season. Under the bye-laws of 1889 small trawlers of eight tons gross were allowed to fish. I have seen the whole of the water covered by these so-called small trawlers. Many representations have been made to the Fishery Board, and last year the bye-law was amended and a regulation issued under which the size of the boats was 942 reduced to seven tons register. But under the Board of Trade regulations a boat by a certain process, which I will not here explain, can reduce its tonnage, and the skippers of these boats being acquainted with these regulations have so reduced their tonnage and brought them under the bye-law. It is so obviously an attempt to evade the regulation that I feel compelled to call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to it. I hope he will bring pressure to bear on the Fishery Board to still further reduce the size or in some other way to overcome what is a breach of the regulation.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR
One justification for bringing forward this controversy between line and trawling fisheries has been the work very recently published by Professor Mackintosh, but everyone must agree that the conclusions arrived at and the principles indicated therein are tentative and provisional. Knowledge is so incomplete and imperfect, and the subject-matter is so difficult, that it will be conceded on all sides that it is far too early to dogmatise in regard to the subject dealt with in that work. With regard to the closing of the Moray Firth, there are two grounds upon which it can he abundantly justified. In the first place there is the social necessity and advisability of endeavouring by regulation to adapt the interests between line and trawl fishing. There is room for both, and there is no necessity for conflict. We are justified on economic, social, and political grounds in assisting line fishermen to earn a livelihood. There is a large population of 80,000 to 90,000 who depend upon this industry, and it is perfectly ridiculous to say that any Department would be justified in taking any line which would seriously affect the ability of so large a portion of the population to earn their living. They are far too valuable a portion of the population, and it is not at all proved that they will not in the future play a very useful and desirable part, not only in providing food for the population, but also in doing their duty as citizens in the various responsibilities which may fall upon them. It is very unfortunate that the pernicious influence of English trawling interests should upset the equilibrium in regard to the two classes which has obtained in Scotland. We are too often sacrificed to the interests of larger populations. I also base my support of the closing of the Moray Firth on the ground of scientific 943 research. Nothing can be more evident than that if we want to have a greater detailed knowledge of the habits and life of fish it is necessary to take measures for observation and experiments and so forth. The real impulse which the movement to extend the three mile limit has got from what has been done in other countries comes from the fact that if we want further knowledge and opportunity for information we must have enclosed areas for the purpose. I quite realise the difficulties, international and otherwise, in extending the three mile limit; but when we see what has been done abroad it is a great pity the Government have taken the attitude they have. It is very important from many points of view that we should cultivate our own resources. We should also like a little more money to be spent on scientific research. On the question of Fishery Committees and the Fishery Board, our machinery in Scotland for cultivating our own resources is not as perfect as it might be. There has been some kind of confusion with regard to the desirability of imparting a representative character to those bodies. That confusion might very well be cleared up, and one step in that direction would he for the Government to see its way to take steps to enable these district fishery committees to be formed. In various parts of Scotland there are voluntary associations which, with very little alteration, could practically become district fishery committees. It is a great pity the Government has not taken steps to make use of that instrument for stimulating the interest of localities in the fisheries, as well as for cultivating a supply of shellfish, which are useful not only for bait, but also for food. As to the Fishery Board, I greatly doubt whether the effort to further extend its representative character is at all likely to he fraught with success. It seems to me to be a curious anomaly to endeavour to impart a representative character to an administrative Department. In the first place, the Board is a temporary one; its members are appointed for a time; and the number of those members, as compared with the very large and varied fishing interests of Scotland, produces the result that, whereas at one time certain localities and certain interests are represented, during the succeeding term of administration other interests and other localities are 944 represented. My impression is that we should have a far more vigorous administration if the Fishery Board were made an executive department—a department under a permanent head, a department in the main a permanent branch of the Civil Service, aided by its local inspectors, who would have local knowledge and transmit local information with regard to different parts of the country—a department not depending for its decisions upon what must be a fluctuating majority, composed of the representatives of interests which must vary from time to time. I make no comment upon the admirable work which has been done by the Fishery Board, but I think the time has come when we ought to endow it with further power to enable it to be more active and energetic in its work.
§ * MR. WEIR
Upon several occasions I have asked for some information from the Lord Advocate as to the amount of work done by the cruisers engaged in the protection of the Scotch fisheries against unlawful trawling. Last year a proposal to construct another cruiser remained in the hands of the Fishery Board for one and a half years, and I had to ask a great many questions before I was informed that tenders had been sent in. The coast needs better sea policing very badly indeed, for the trawlers are playing havoc with the line fishermen. It is a very serious matter, and I do think that the Fishery Board has not shown that energy which I think it ought to have done. When I asked about the holidays of the men on these cruisers, I was told that it was a matter for the commanders. I say that it is also a matter for the Members of this House and for the taxpayers, and we ought to know whether these cruisers are at work all the year or only half the year. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will furnish us with this information, and thus obviate the necessity for dealing with the vote on the Report stage. Then I find that the salaries of the commanders are not given. We ought to know what salaries are given to the commanders of these vessels. I challenge the right hon. Gentlemen to say that these cruisers are not used by members of the Fishery Board for pleasure cruises.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
I have no wish to revert to the discussion which we had 945 earlier in the evening, but like the hon. Member for Forfarshire, I heard with great satisfaction the answer of the Lord Advocate that there would be in future no alteration of the attitude which the Government have taken up in reference to the subject of the fisheries. I desire to take up another subject which is connected with this Vote. The Estimate shows a decrease of £3,000, but I want to bring before the attention of the Committee the fact that there is not a real decrease at all. I find that the item of £6,000 for marine superintendence has totally disappeared this year from the Vote. I think this is a matter with regard to which we have good reason to complain. Last year when the Local Taxation (Scotland) Act was brought forward the Lord Advocate told us that £12,000 was to be voted for marine superintendence, and he was asked if that was going to be taken at the expense of the Imperial Exchequer or out of the Fishery Board Vote. The Lord Advocate told us that it would not interfere with the Fishery Board Vote generally; in point of fact, he said that the only item winch will come off is the cost of maintenance for one cruiser. That is what he said on the 27th of June last year, and the statement was made twice on behalf of the responsible authorities in tins House, and those were the conditions under which we were induced to accept the proposals of the Government, who had promised to vote £12,000 for the purposes of marine superintendence. We find this year that not only has the cost of maintaining the steamer "Vigilant" disappeared altogether, but the whole item for marine superintendence has also disappeared. The amount for building the new cruiser is nearly £3,000, so that altogether nearly £10,000 has been struck out of the Vote this year, which has hitherto been borne by the Imperial Exchequer. During the Debates last year the Chancellor of the Exchequer was present, and we pointed out to him that the Government ought not to relieve the Imperial Treasury out of Scotch money of a responsibility which they have hitherto borne. Until last year the Votes of the House from year to year bore the cost of marine superintendence, and last year out of the money which came in under the system of equivalent grants, and winch was ear-marked, the Government gave us an increased amount for marine superintendence, and 946 we were willing to accept it providing it did not relieve the Imperial Treasury of the existing liabilities, and we were then assured that the existing liabilities had not been taken off the Estimates and put upon this grant. We understood that only the future liabilities would be put upon this Local Taxation Grant, but we now discover that it is not merely the future liabilities but also the existing and past liabilities that are to be put upon this grant. Therefore, I think Scotland has been treated very shabbily in this. respect.
§ * SIR WILLIAM WEDDERBURN
I think my hon. friend the Member for East Aberdeenshire has misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman's reply. I did not understand the Lord Advocate to express himself in the non possumus way that has been attributed to him. I have always thought that the Lord Advocate took a very sound view of the interests of the Scottish fishing industry, and I understood him to say that he intended to continue the same policy in keeping the Moray Firth closed, and that the Scottish Office was using all its endeavours to forward that policy. I understood that that was the view which he took. At an early stage of the proceedings it was suggested that I had been hoodwinked by the Scottish Office in regard to this. North Sea Conference, but I do not think that is the case. I am perfectly well informed as to the origin and history of the Stockholm Conference, and I have had communications with those scientific gentlemen with whom that conference originated. It is perfectly true that this conference was originally suggested from a scientific point of view, but I am also aware that the British Government have always pressed upon that conference the importance of the practical side of the case. They took advantage of their opportunity, and I think they have certainly used their influence to bring this important question of regulations under the cognisance of the North Sea Powers. I quite admit that, considering the immense fishing interests of this country and the great diplomatic influence which we at present exercise, I think the Government might have taken the initiative rather than leave it to Powers who are far less interested in the matter than we are. I am convinced that a thoroughly good understanding on these questions obtained by negotiation would have given much 947 greater satisfaction in my constituency than diplomatic triumphs in the centre of Africa. Reference has been made to the book of Professor Mackintosh, but I do not think it has been noticed that his conversion to his present views has been a very recent one, for only a short time ago he held contrary opinions. The remarkable proposal he made originally was that the North Sea should be regularly protected and divided into great blocks, and that all the fishing should be restricted to certain portions of those blocks. That was a suggestion which recommended itself to the trawling interests, for they agreed to refrain from fishing over a very large area of the sea, because they recognised that it does not pay them to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. We want some understanding that will afford fairplay to all the different interests concerned, and which will prevent the supply of fish being diminished in the future. I desire to add my testimony to the value of the scientific experiments winch have been made by the Scotch Fishery Board. I see one of the proposals made is that they should have a properly equipped boat for scientific investigation. Everyone will admit that something of that kind is necessary, for at present a great deal of time is wasted, and experiments cannot be carried out with the success which is necessary to enable us to compete with other foreign countries. I notice that even foreign countries recognise the good work done by the Scotch Fishery Board, which is entitled to be provided with proper assistance and appliances so that their work may he properly carried out.
§ DR. CLARK
I agree with what my hon. friend has said regarding the disappearance of certain items in the Estimates this year. There is £6,000 taken out which we used to have for marine superintendence, and now that will have to be found from our own money. I think it is very mean of the Treasury to do what they have done. I do not think the Treasury should do anything to reduce those Scotch charges, some of which have run from the time of the Act of Union, for when the imperial Parliament took these burdens upon its shoulders we took upon ourselves a large share of the National Debt. We are paying all these increased burdens, and yet 948 the last arrangement made by the Treasury was one under which almost the entire cost of the Fishery Board officers is defrayed out of the brand fees. Not only did they place upon these fees the charge of the Fishery Board officials, but they placed upon them rates and taxes, so as to allow as little as possible to the Fishery Board for the valuable work which they have got to do. Here we have got £6,000 taken off under these conditions, and had it not been for the fact that we have had a good summer the Fishery Board would have had practically nothing to spend during the ensuing year. For years the Treasury took the whole of these fees, until a surplus of over £34,000 accumulated, which the Treasury "collared," and now they won't give us a single penny, and they act in the usual mean fashion. As Scotchmen we get the credit of looking after "saxpences," but we get no chance at all as compared with the Treasury. When a change is being made the Treasury deduct £6,000 from us and pretend they are going to do something, but what they give with one hand they take away with the other. I hope the suggestion made by the hon. Member for North Ayrshire that trawlers should be excluded from the Firth of Clyde as well as from the Moray Firth will be carried out, as it is a matter which very seriously affects fishermen.
§ * MR. A. GRAHAM MURRAY
I am very glad that the matter of Clyde trawling has been brought before the Committee. Undoubtedly various complaints have been made locally as to the existence of trawling on the part of the coast within the limited area. My hon. friend is perfectly right in stating that the Fishery Board passed another bye-law, but unfortunately it seems to be the case that, by doing something in the way of re-decking and by adopting another class of measurement, the trawlers have been able to evade the Fishery Board's bye-law by reducing the boats from eight to seven tons, with the result that the practical object of the live-law has not been achieved. Under these circumstances the Fishery Board will have to consider whether it will not be necessary to pass another bye-law in order that the obvious purpose of the first byelaw may be carried out, or whether they should not pass a bye-law doing away 949 with trawling altogether in this part. I am quite sure the board will be ready to give their very serious consideration to this matter. I do not think there is really very much for me to answer in the speech of the hon. Member for Forfarshire, and I can only say to him and to the hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire that I think they have both misunderstood a phrase of mine. I did use the phrase that we should alter our attitude with regard to the Moray Firth fishing, but the last thing I meant to convey by that was that we did not mean to make any further efforts with regard to foreign Powers. What I meant was that we had no intention of giving in to those who asked why we did not agree to open the Moray Firth. My next sentence was that we would use every effort the law put into our hands to prevent that, and what I meant to convey was that we had no intention of going back on our policy. Then the hon. Member for Ross-shire asked me one or two questions, especially about a new cruiser. That is a matter which will have the consideration of the Board. He has also asked during the session a number of questions with regard to altering the old cruisers. I can tell him that one result of his questions was that the alterations cost the Government £1,000 more than they would have cost anyone else, and eventually we had to invite tenders without stating that it was the Government who were offering the contract at all. I am merely explaining to the hon. Member that questions are not always very good
§ things. I hope now hon. Members will allow this Vote to be taken.
§ * MR. A. GRAHAM MURRAY
It is not a question of the title not having been investigated, but the question, as I understand it, is the contention of various persons in the neighbourhood that they have a right to take mussels from these beds. They have been stopped, and litigation has ensued. So far as the title is concerned that is sufficient.
§ * MR. WEIR
With regard to the holidays given on board the cruisers, it is not a matter of an hour, or a week, or a month, but of very considerable periods every year. The commanders are servants of the Fishery Board, and we are entitled to know whether the cruisers were at work or simply lying in harbour. We ought to know how the taxpayers' money is expended, and, as a protest, I beg to move the reduction of Item A by £100.
§ Motion made, and Question put—
§ "That Item A (Salaries) be reduced by £100."—(Mr.Weir.)
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 18; Noes, 80. (Division List, No. 270.)951
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Hedderwick, Thomas Chas. H.||Sinclair, Capt. John (Forfarsh.)|
|Caldwell, James||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberland)||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Colville, John||Macaleese, Daniel||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Crilly, Daniel||M'Ghee, Richard||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||M'Leod, John|
|Dewar, Arthur||Moulton, John Fletcher||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Doogan, P. C.||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh||Mr. Weir and Dr. Clark.|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Chamberlain, J. A. (Wore'r)||Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Charrington, Spencer||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne|
|Asher, Alexander||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Fisher, William Hayes|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Coghill, Douglas Harry||FitzGerald, Sir Robt. Penrose-|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A.J.(Manch'r||Crombie, John William||Flannery, Sir Fortescue|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W(Leeds||Curzon, Viscount||Gibbons, J. Lloyd|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Dalkeith, Earl of||Goldsworthy, Major-General|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Gordon, Hon. John Edward|
|Beach, Rt. Hon. Sir M. H.(Bris.)||Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Douglas-Pennant, Hon. E. S.||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. R. W.|
|Carmichael, Sir T. D. Gibson-||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick|
|Kemp, George||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Purvis, Robert||Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E.|
|Lawrence, Sir E. Durning-(Corn||Rentoul, James Alexander||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W.||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Long, Rt. Hn. W. (Liverpool)||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson||Williams, Joseph P. (Birm.)|
|Lorne, Marquess of||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Rothschild. Hon. Lionel W.||Wilson-Todd, W. H. (Yorks.)|
|Macdona, John Cumming||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B Stuart-|
|MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Smith, James P. (Lanarks)||Wrighton, Thomas|
|M'Arthur, Charles(Liverpool||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)||Wylie, Alexander|
|M`Crae, George||Stanley, Hon. A. (Ormskirk)||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Maxwell, Rt. Hon. Sir H. E.||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Middlemore, J. Throgmorton||Sutherland, Sir Thomas|
|Morgan, Hn. Fred (Monm'thsh.||Talbot, Rt Hn J G (Oxf'd Univ.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford||Thorburn, Walter||Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Murray, Rt Hn A. Graham(Bute||Tomlinson, Wm. E. Murray|
§ MR. CALDWELL (Lanarkshire, Mid.)
I cannot allow this Vote to pass without moving a reduction in respect of the sum taken from Scotland under it. I am glad the Chancellor of the Exchequer is here. The position is this, that he has given on the Scottish Vote £10,000 a year less out the Imperial funds than last year. I protest against that. This is not an isolated case, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer knows. For Highland works we used to get £20,000 a year, and now it is reduced to £10,000, at the very time when you are adding to the Vote to Ireland for agriculture and technical education £75,000, and £25,000 under the Congested District Board Bill, which has just been introduced. I protest that while the Government is taking £10,000 from Scotland they are pouring by the two Bills before the House £100,000 into Ireland in addition to what they gave Ireland last year. I move the reduction of the Vote by £200.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a sum, not exceeding £15,969, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Caldwell.)
§ * THE CHANCELLOR OF TUE EXCHEQUER (Sir M. HICKS-BEACH,) Bristol, W.
The patriotic indignation of the hon. Member is admirable; but it is absolutely without cause. On the contrary he ought to be extremely grateful for the benefits which Scotland has derived from the Imperial Exchequer in the past. The fact is that Scotland has been favoured for some years with considerable sums at the cost of the Imperial Exchequer, for doing work which in England falls upon the local rates, in providing police for the fisheries on the coast, and matters of that kind. That is so obviously unfair, that when it was necessary, last year, to make 952 an equivalent grant to Scotland out of the Imperial Exchequer, this particular need of Scotland for the protection of the fisheries, which in England is borne at the expense of the ratepayers, seemed a very proper thing to be borne out of the Scottish grant. The charge has been transferred to that grant; and there it will remain as long as I am Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
A more unfounded statement I think I never heard from a person in the position of the Chancellor of the Exchequer than that which he has just made. The right hon. Gentleman says that the protection of the fisheries in England is paid for out of local rates. Now the only case in which English rates are used for this duty is the case of the Fishery Committee of the Lancashire County Council. There is no doubt that under the Act of Parliament the Local Fisheries Committees in England can spend out of the rates for superintendence; but in only one case have they exercised the authority, and that is in the case of the Fisheries Committee of the Lancashire County Council. As a matter of fact the duties of police marine superintendence along the whole English coast are discharged by the Admiralty. At Penzance just now there is a gunboat permanently stationed to prevent a renewed outbreak of riots which took place there some time ago among the fishermen. We in Scotland have never got the support from the Admiralty that England has got. Last year when this new legislation was introduced, an understanding was arrived at that all future increased expenditure would be borne out of the £15,000 grant, and that the amount hitherto paid out of the Imperial Exchequer would be continued to be given. From that understanding, the Government have departed, and I 953 shall most cordially support my hon. friend in making his protest against the exceedingly shabby treatment of the Government and the unfair statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ DR. CLARK
This is a very extraordinary line taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Until now the policing of the sea has been the work of the Admiralty. There has always been on this Vote £100 to be paid, in addition to their salaries, to the captains of these naval cruisers, in order that here, in the House of Commons, we should have a voice in their conduct in reference to fishery matters. Four or five years ago I pointed out that the work which these cruisers did was the best possible manner of teach-
While I entirely agree with what has been said as to the exceedingly shabby treatment which the Fishery Board has received at the hands of the Treasury, I wish to call the atten-
§ ing the men in time of peace, the duties they would have to discharge in time of war on board torpedo-catchers. They have to detect poaching trawlers at night. I protest against the taunts of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is always willing to give to Ireland as much as she requires. The Irish Members know very well how to "work the oracle." I only wish we Scottish Members knew how to do it as well as they. I hope my hon. friend will go to a Division, and I know all the Scottish Members will support him.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 26; Noes, 72. (Division List, No. 271.)953
|Asher, Alexander||Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||M'Ghee. Richard|
|Carmichael, Sir T. D. Gibson-||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||M'Leod, John|
|Clark. Dr. G. B.(Caithness-sh.||Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herb. J no.||Sinclair. Capt. J.(Forfarshire)|
|Colville, John||Cordon, Hon. John Edward||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Crilly, Daniel||Hedderwick, Thos. Chas. H.||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Crombie, John William||Kilbride, Denis||Weir, James Galloway|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Lambert, George|
|Dewar, Arthur||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberland)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Doogan, P. C.||Macaleese, Daniel||Mr. Caldwell and Mr. Buchanan.|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||M'Crae, George|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Gribbons, J. Lloyd||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel W.|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. Join||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Greene, Henry D.(Shrewsbury)||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Balfour, Rt. hon. A.J. (Manch'r||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.||Stanley, Hon. A. (Ormskirk)|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W(Leeds||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Kemp, George||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G.(Ox'd. Unv.|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Lawrence, Sir E. Durning-(Corn||Thorburn, Walter|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H.-(Bris.)||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Tomlinson, Wm. E. Murray -|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter(Liverpool||Valentia, Viscount|
|Cavendish, V.C.W.(Derbysh.)||Lorne, Marquess of||Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen(Wore'r||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Charrington, Spencer||Macdona, John Cunning||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Williams, Joseph Powell-(Birm|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Middlemore, J. Throgmorton||Wilson-Todd, W. H. (Yorks.)|
|Curzon, Viscount||Morgan, Hn. Fred(Monm'thsh.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Morton, Arthur H.A.(Deptford||Wrightson, Thomas|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Murray, Rt Hn A Graham(Bute||Wylie, Alexander|
|Douglas-Pennant, Hon. E. S.||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn E.||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Young. Commander (Berks, E.|
|Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)||Purvis, Robert|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Rentoul, James Alexander||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W.||Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose-||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson|
§ tion of the Committee to the salary of the Inspector of Salmon Fisheries, who receives £600 a year, while the Scientific Superintendent, who has to provide us with the data on which to found a 955 judgment as between the claims of the line fishermen and the trawlers, receives only £350 a year. It is not so much that there is this disparity between the two salaries that I object, but that the whole time of the Inspector of Salmon Fisheries is devoted, not to the purpose of serving the fishing community at large, or of assisting the Fishery Board in regard to the catch of fish which is open to all comers, but rather to the obtaining of data upon which the private proprietors of fisheries can increase their revenues. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is exceedingly anxious to pare down the Scottish Estimates to the last particle, and the officials of the Scottish Office seem to be incapable of resisting his attempts; but I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that he will not carry popular sympathy with him. No doubt the gentleman who occupies the post of Inspector of Salmon Fisheries is a most admirable person, and discharges his duties in a proper fashion, and earns his salary; but I do think that his salary ought to be charged against the private persons who obtain the benefit of his services, rather than upon the public funds of Scotland. Not satisfied with the ordinary form of the Blue Book to which we are accustomed, this gentleman's Report was, if you please, printed on special plate-paper for the benefit of private salmon fishery proprietors. I should be obliged to the right hon. Gentleman in charge of this Vote if he could suggest a method by which the Salmon Fishery Inspector's salary should be removed from the Estimates, and the salary paid by those who benefit from his services.
§ * MR. A. GRAHAM MURRAY
The gentleman who is Inspector of the Salmon Fisheries in Scotland is, I suppose, the greatest authority in his profession ever found in Scotland. His special knowledge of everything connected with fishing lore is notorious, and the hon. Baronet the Member for Wigtonshire said of a Report of the Inspector on the life history of the salmon, that it was one of the greatest contributions to our knowledge of that fish he had seen for many years. The hon. Member for Sutherlandshire is really being carried away by his ideas of private property. The salmon fishery in Scotland is one of her greatest industries, and those that belong to the Crown——
§ * MR. A. GRAHAM MURRAY
They are all round the coast; and the Crown gets a great deal of money out of them. Does the hon. Member think that there are two kinds of salmon—one which may be taken in sport, and the other which may be taken in nets? Why, the value of the net fishing in Scotland is a great deal more than that of the rod fishing; and the net fishing means the employment of a large industrial population. Scotland would suffer very much by the loss of her salmon fisheries, and it is only by careful scientific investigation that these fisheries can be properly kept up. I maintain that this salary is a most legitimate charge to put upon the Estimates.
I am exceedingly sorry that the Lord Advocate did not accept with some degree of sympathy the view I have expressed on this particular item on the Estimates. Last year I was perfectly willing to accept his statement that the Crown fisheries were sufficiently large to justify this charge. But I find that these are comparatively immaterial compared with the private fisheries. It must be within the cognisance of the right hon. Gentleman that all round the coast, wherever the salmon fishery proprietors can get a sovereign more by letting their waters for rod fishing than for net fishing, they do so. It seems to me there is not a single item in any other Estimate where there is so slight a justification for the voting of a considerable sum of money for the small Imperial service that is given. I feel so strongly on this matter that I beg to move the reduction of this Vote by the amount of the salary of the Inspector of Salmon Fisheries.
§ It being Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Resolution to be reported upon Monday next; Committee report Progress to sit again upon Monday next.
§ House adjourned at ten minutes after Twelve of the clock, till Monday next.