§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
THE MARQUESS OF CLANRICARDE,
in moving the second reading of this Bill, said, that the subject was one which had been much discussed of late in newspapers and periodicals. He was in no way connected with the description of property to which it related, but the investigations which he had some years ago made on the subject had led him to the conclusion that it was one which was well deserving the attention of Parliament. He had, therefore, endeavoured to frame a Bill dealing with the subject on a principle which he thought ought to be adopted; but he was happy to think that the Government were prepared to take the matter into their own hands. With the view of showing their Lordships the importance of the interests concerned, he would refer their Lordships to a book which had been published by the Irish Fishery Commissioners, from which he found that in the Whitstable fishery and adjoining grounds, which consisted of 12 square miles of public grounds and 15 of private, in all 27 square miles, 3,270 persons earned a daily livelihood, and from 800 to 850 dredging boats were employed. The average wages received by the 3,270 men engaged in the fishery were 20s. a week throughout the year. The amount paid in wages, he might add, by the owners of private beds at Whitstable in one year amounted to £125,500, the 481 amount paid by the Essex local beds being £35,000, making a total of £160,500 expended in wages yearly. If to that were added the money spent in keeping the boats in repair—the sums paid to smiths, shipwrights, sail and ropemakers, amounting to £17,000; the expenditure for old boats and those lost in storms amounting to £4,500—the total outlay would be found to be £182,000 on the 27 square miles to which he referred. To show how matters stood in a smaller locality, he might state that at the Arklow oyster fishery the number of barrels of oysters caught and sold from the 14th of January to the 26th of May, 1863, was 34,038, the value being £10,830. Of these 2,860 went to the Welsh coast, 2,600 to France, 20,500 to the Kentish coast, and the remainder to the Irish coast. It was stated on the same authority that between £20,000 and £30,000 was paid annually to Jersey for oysters to breed, while Queensborough on the Thames paid sometimes to Granville, on the French coast, from £1,500 to £2,000 for oyster spat. The prices for oysters for laying down in beds had, he might add, risen in the case of the Channel ridge from 3s. and 3s. 6d. per bushel in 1859 to 7s. and 9s. in the present year; while in the case of Falmouth and the Southampton waters the prices had risen from 1s. to 1s. 6d., which was the rate up to 1858, to from 15s. to 20s. in 1864. The subject was one, he might further observe, in which the French Government had taken a great interest with the view of encouraging the fishermen and increasing the productive powers of the country. He held in his hand a statement which had been made before the Committee on the Herne Bay Fishery Bill, which showed that at the Isle de Rhé in 1858 there was not a single oyster on the shore, whereas there were now 3,063 oyster beds in full work or being completed, containing 100,000,000 oysters valued at more than £50,000, and giving employment to 1,700 men. He had also a statement of the development of an oyster bed of the extent of one acre, situated in the Thames Estuary, capable of producing a good quality of natives, and stocked with 1,000 bushels of oysters of 1,600 each, which showed an increase in value in four years of from £256 to £12,500. He proposed to follow the plan adopted in Ireland of granting a licence to persons to establish oyster beds, and that that licence should be obtained under the authority of the Board of Trade, which 482 would of course previously make the requisite inquiry. As the Government had issued a Royal Commission to inquire into this subject he did not wish to proceed further than the second reading, which would affirm the principle of the Bill.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.— (The Marquess of Clanricarde.)
§ THE DUKE OF RICHMOND
said, he was glad that the noble Marquess did not intend to press the Bill this Session, as some of its details appeared to him objectionable. Indeed he thought that the second reading should not take place. It was better, he thought, to wait until the Report of the Royal Commission was laid before them, which would furnish them with information on which to act.
§ LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
also thought it was premature to attempt to legislate before the Report of the Royal Commission was laid before them.
§ Motion (by Leave of the House) with-drawn; and Bill (by Leave of the House) withdrawn.