§ MR. WEIR (Ross and Cromarty)
I beg to ask the Secretary for Scotland, in view of the decision in the High Court of Justiciary, Edinburgh, some time since, will he state why foreign trawlers detected trawling in the Moray Firth are no longer prosecuted.
§ SIR GEORGE DOUGHTY (Great Grimsby)
At the same time may I ask the Secretary for Scotland whether he is aware that to carry out the decision of the High Court of Justiciary, Scotland, and prosecute all foreign trawlers fishing outside the three mile limits in the Moray Firth would constitute a breach of International Law; whether he has been informed that that is the opinion of the Foreign Office; and whether he will immediately take steps to withdraw the British cruisers which at present protect these fishing grounds for the exclusive use and advantage of foreigners, and remove restrictions which prevent British fishermen from trawling in these waters.
§ MR. MORTON (Sutherland)
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Government propose to take any steps to compel the trawlers which are engaged in illegal trawling around the coasts of Scotland to obey the law; and 1577 whether he is aware that the rich companies and trusts are allowed to carry on this illegal trawling with impunity and thus deprive the fishermen of their means of livelihood.
§ SIR ARTHUR BIGNOLD (Wick Burghs)
I beg to ask the Secretary for Scotland whether trawling vessels of foreign countries fishing within the limits of the Moray Firth, but more than three miles from low-water mark therein, are immune from prosecution, or whether the law as laid down by the Justiciary Appeal Court of Scotland in July 1906 is now enforceable.
§ THE SECRETARY FOR SCOTLAND (Mr. SINCLAIR,) Forfarshire
The Government, for reasons of International comity, are not prepared to instruct proceedings against foreign trawlers engaged in trawling outside the limit of territorial waters recognised by international convention. I am, however, in communication with the other Government Departments concerned, with a view to the formulation of proposals for submission to other Powers at the earliest possible date.
§ SIR GEORGE DOUGHTY
asked whether there were not a thousand miles in the Moray Firth outside the three miles limit, which were not under the control of the Department, but which the Government were policing with British ships at the expense of the taxpayers; and whether the right hon. Gentleman would take steps to remove these restrictions and give British fishermen the same opportunities as foreign fishermen enjoyed.
§ SIR GEORGE DOUGHTY
Does the right hon. Gentleman imply that British fishermen do not obey the law?
MR. STANLEY WILSON
Are we to understand that the right hon. Gentleman is in favour of giving preferential treatment to foreigners?
§ [No Answer was given.]
§ MR. COURTHOPE
asked whether the Government would consider the advisability of a change in the law.
§ MR. SINCLAIR
The Government will, of course, bear such considerations in mind, and in reply to the hon. Member for Ross-shire, I can assure him that the consideration he mentions is present to the mind of the Government.
§ MR. ASHLEY
Are we to understand that the Government recognise the right of trawlers flying a foreign flag to fish outside the three-mile limit without let or hindrance?