I beg to ask the Lord Advocate if he will state with whom the Fishery Board have been in negotiation in regard to Avoch Harbour, and when; will he explain the nature of the negotiations and say at what stage they bad arrived when they were arrested; and will he explain the nature of the technical legal questions which are alleged to have been raised in regard to ownership of the harbour, and bow any such questions warranted the Board in discontinuing negotiations; and is he now in a position to state the name of the owner of the harbour.
I am informed by the Fishery Board that they were in negotiation with the Reverend Alfred Philip, when the hon. Member, on the 15th December last, raised the question as to whether the Board could take any action, the Provisional Order of 1894 having lapsed. It also appears that in subsequent letters to the Board the hon. Member questioned the action of Mr. Philip in the matter and the responsibility of Mr. Fletcher as to the upkeep of the harbour. It is the opinion of the Fishery Board that, if the question as to ownership had not been so persistently raised by the hon. Member, their negotiations would probably have been completed by this date. I could not properly give any determination of the question of ownership which might rest on legal considerations, and therefore I am not able to answer the last paragraph.
Is it not the duty of the Scotch Office to discover who is the owner of this harbour?
No, Sir, neither is it my duty to give opinions on legal questions of this nature.