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Clause 1—(Secretary For Scotland May Co Aril Or Suspend Licences Under Principal Act)

Volume 154: debated on Tuesday 30 May 1922

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It shall be lawful for the Secretary for Scotland, on the application of any persons interested and after such inquiry as he may direct, without compensation to cancel or to suspend for a specified period any licence issued by the Fishery Board for Scotland under the Whale Fisheries (Scotland) Act. 1907 (in this Act referred to as the principal Act), if he is satisfied that the prosecution of the whaling industry under the licence is prejudicial to the herring fishery or to any other sea fishery.

I beg to move, to leave out the words "cancel or to suspend for a specified period" and to insert instead thereof the words "order the cancellation or the suspension for a specified period of."

The Amendments standing in my name have been put down in compliance with a pledge which I gave in Committee and in consequence of which an Amendment proposed in Committee was withdrawn. The Amendment proposed that the tribunal to be set up to consider whether or not licences were to be cancelled or suspended should not be the Secretary for Scotland, but a Committee of which the Secretary for Scotland should he a member, including two persons not Members of this House. I resisted that. Amendment on the ground that I thought it appropriate that the person who exercised this discretion should he subject to the control of Parliament. That view found a certain amount of acceptance. It was, however, thought the control should be made even more effective, and accordingly an Amendment was moved, suggesting that an Order in Council should be made before the decision became operative. I thought that a somewhat inappropriate method of attaining the result desired. There was, however, a proposal, entirely in line with the argument I presented to the Committee, namely, that the person referred to should be subject to the control of Parliament, and I undertook on the Report stage to put down an Amendment to give effect to that view, and, in fact, I practically gave the Committee the terms of the Amendment as it now stands on the Paper. The Amendment is in common form, and provides that the Order which the Secretary of Scotland proposes to make should not become effective if within 30 days, during which time it lies upon the Table, the House should be moved to withhold its consent from the Order becoming effective. This proposal carried out my undertaking, and without further parley I invite the House to accept it.

On the whole, this is an improvement on the Bill as it originally stood. While I am quite in favour of giving the people of Shetland power to prevent whaling in their waters where they believe it is doing damage to the herring fishery, there is another part of the Scottish coast where whaling is carried on and where the people would desire to see some restriction on the powers given under the Bill. This Amendment provides for that to some extent, because it surrounds the action of the Secretary for Scotland with something in the nature of a barbed wire entanglement, and makes it more difficult for him to issue these orders. Possibly the people of Shetland desire that whaling should be stopped. There is a whaling station in the centre of my constituency, and although there is a big fishing population, the people there, so far, have expressed no desire to interfere with the whaling industry. In fact, they would be very much hurt if the whaling industry were interfered with in those waters. This Amendment gives a greater degree of security to those people who do not desire to interfere with whaling and do not regard it as affecting the interests of the herring fishing. It will secure to them that any interference with the industry in these parts, or in any part for that matter, will be proceeded with with a greater degree of deliberation than was provided for in the original Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made:

At the end of the Clause insert the words

"Provided that any such Order shall not take effect until it has lain on the Table of each House of Parliament for thirty days on which such House is sitting, and if either House within that period resolve that the whole, or any part, of the Order ought to be annulled the same shall not take effect without prejudice to the making of a new Order."—[Mr. Munro.]

Bill read the Third time, and passed.