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Scottish Anglers Trust

Volume 975: debated on Wednesday 5 December 1979

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3.53 pm

I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to set up a Scottish Anglers Trust to administer all freshwater fishing rights in Scotland.
I tabled this motion three weeks ago today, and since then events have proved that my Bill is more necessary than ever. Only last week the Secretary of State for Scotland approved the River Tweed protection order which, in effect, will deprive many ordinary working people of taking part in their favourite sport. To some of us it is perhaps not surprising that a Tory Secretary of State should give more power to the Tory lairds and the landowning classes, especially the present Secretary of State for Scotland, who himself comes from a landowning family. His family has about 1,000 acres of land at Leckie, near Gargunnock, in my constituency.

Indeed, if we look through the list of applicants for the Tweed protection order, it looks almost like a Tory Division list from the House of Lords. We have the Duke of Buccleuch, the former Tory Member of Parliament for Edinburgh, North, who owns a quarter of a million acres of land, making him the biggest landowner in Scotland. He is not the only one involved in this protection racket. The family of the Marquess of Lothian is also mentioned on the list. Of course, the son and heir of the Marquess of Lothian sits in the House as the Tory Member of Parliament for Edinburgh, South. There are other well-known names on the list. There is the Duke of Roxburghe, Viscount Devonport, and the Duke of Sutherland, whose ancestors cleared the Highlands and who himself now seems set to clear the working-class fishermen from the Borders. Earl Haig of Bemersyde, of poppy fame, is on the list, and, of course, Lord Home of the Hirsel himself, a former Tory Prime Minister. So perhaps it is not surprising that the present Tory Secretary of State, the Laird of Leckie and the son of a viscount, should be handing over power to these landlords. It is not so long ago that the Earl of Leckie presented the safe seat of Kinross and West Perth shire to the fourteenth Earl of Home to try to intro- duce a semblance of democracy to his premiership.

From the beginning of next season, next spring, it will be a criminal offence for anyone to fish in the protected waters of the River Tweed unless, of course, permission has been obtained from the landlord or whoever owns the fishing rights. Fishing is probably the only sport in Scotland where it will be a criminal offence to breach the regulations. That is a bad precedent. Let no one forget that this is not something that will be confined to the River Tweed, the Eye and their tributaries. It will eventually be extended to the rest of Scotland. Already applications have been submitted for the upper Spey.

If this trend continues, every river, burn and loch in Scotland will soon be prohibited territory unless anglers go on their knees to the local landlord to get permission to fish, or unless they are lucky enough to have enough money to join one of the syndicates of rich business men who are taking over more and more fishing rights in Scotland for their exclusive use.

What is the alternative? In my opinion, the best alternative is the Bill that I hope to present today. It would give power to the anglers instead of to the landlords.

Last week the Secretary of State introduced a landlord's charter. This week my Bill will try to introduce an angler's charter. Under my Bill it will be open to any individual angler to join a club, and it will be open to any bona fide club to affiliate to the Scottish Anglers Trust. The club will be able to send along delegates, in proportion to its membership, to the annual general meeting of the trust. Members of the trust will be elected and subject to re-election—there fore, I hope that all my hon. Friends who are on the national executive committee of the Labour Party will support me on this. The trust, in consultation with local committees and boards, will have the power to administer all freshwater fishing rights in Scotland and to determine the regulations and the policy of the sport as a whole.

Nobody wants a free-for-all, and I have never heard any responsible angler arguing that there should be an absolute free-for-all in fishing in Scotland. That is in no one's interests. It is not in the interests of the sport, or the anglers. We want a democratic body, representative of all anglers, to make the rules on matters like reasonable prices. For example, some anglers favour a national permit for brown trout fishing, and the trust could determine the price of those. It could also make rules on matters such as access—the hours and days of access—the fishing tackle which may be used and the tackle which is prohibited in certain circumstances. It could also determine policy on the important matter of stocking and restocking waters.

All this means that there must be some finances in the hands of the trust. Basically it will have two sources of income. Its main source will be from the sale of permits, but there is also a provision under section 5 of the Freshwater and Salmon Fisheries (Scotland) Act 1976 for the Secretary of State for Scotland to give a grant to a body, such as the proposed Scottish Anglers Trust, which is concerned with the conservation, development and improvement of fisheries.

Initially some money may be required for compensation. This is a touchy subject but I shall mention it briefly. It is well known that there are certain individuals and groups of individuals who have put in a great deal of work and investment in order to conserve and improve fish stocks. Therefore, I think that they are entitled to fair compensation for their money, time and effort. It is my suspicion that most of those angling clubs would be far more concerned not so much about getting money into the pockets of their members but about getting a fair deal for their members on fishing rights. Therefore, something in this line could be negotiated between the newly-formed trust and the individual angling clubs. I imagine that any financial transactions would be minimal.

As for those people who have never put any work or investment into the conservation and improvement of fisheries, I would not give them any compensation at all. In fact the title that some of them have to fishing rights is simply inherited from their ancestors. For example, the fourteenth Earl of Home probably got fishing rights from the thirteenth Earl, who got them from the twelfth, who got them from the eleventh, and so on. In fact, if we go back far enough we shall probably find that one of the earlier Earls of Home stole them from the people. It is about time these rights were restored to the people. It is time that we took them from the lairds and returned them to the anglers.

Angling is the most popular sport in Scotland, and it is about time that the sport was run by those who actually take part in it. I hope that the House will give my Bill a First Reading.

4.4 pm

The hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan) is always entertaining but not always accurate.

It is very important that we do not allow a Ten-Minute Bill to come forward on this matter when the House legislated as recently as 1976 on the question of freshwater fishing in Scotland. The protection order to which the hon. Member has referred is the first under that Act to be approved. There was a public inquiry in my constituency at which the hon. Member appeared and to which he put the arguments that the House has just heard. The public inquiry went against him and the protection order has been, quite properly and belatedly, approved by the Secretary of State for Scotland.

It is quite false to portray this as being of benefit to landlords, and none of the people whose names the hon. Member mentioned is known as a political supporter of mine in the Borders of Scotland. The real protection is for the anglers of the Borders. I declare an interest, as I am one. I am a member of the Selkirk angling club and the Hawick angling club. It is the anglers in the Borders who have been waiting for the protection order to prevent bus loads of people from coming in from the hon. Member's constituency and raiding the rivers of fish that we have stocked.

The hon. Member says that he is not in favour of a free-for-all, but frankly this Bill is a thin disguise to try to set aside an orderly system to protect the ordinary anglers in the Borders who are trying to maintain the fisheries. These fisheries will be open to people from outside who are prepared to pay for the permits. This is a matter of principle and it would be misunderstood if the House allowed a Bill of this sort to be introduced after a speech like the one made by the hon. Member. The Bill attempts to set aside the procedures approved by the House in 1976 and approved again recently by the Secretary of State. That is why I must oppose its introduction.

Division No. 119


[4.06 pm

Anderson, DonaldFraser, John (Lambeth, Norwood)Morton, George
Archer, Rt Hon PeterFreeson, Rt Hon ReginaldNewens, Stanley
Atkinson, Norman (H'gey, Tott'ham)Garrett, John (Norwich S)Palmer, Arthur
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)Garrett, W. E (Wallsend)Parry, Robert
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)George, BrucePowell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Bidwell, SydneyGraham, TedPrescott, John
Booth, Rt Hon AlbertGrant, George (Morpeth)Price, Christopher (Lewisham West)
Boothroyd, Miss BettyHamilton, James (Bothwell)Race, Reg
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)Radice, Giles
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh, Leith)Harrison, Rt Hon WalterRees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds South)
Buchan, NormanHattersley, Rt Hon RoyRichardson, Miss Jo
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton &P)Haynes, FrankRoberts, Allan (Bootle)
Campbell, IanHealey, Rt Hon DenisRoberts, Ernest (Hackney North)
Campbell-Savours, DaleHogg, Norman (E Dunbartonshire)Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Cant, R. B.Holland, Stuart (L'beth, Vauxhall)Robertson, George
Clark, David (South Shields)Homewood, WilliamRooker, J. W.
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S)Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen North)Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)
Cohen, StanleyJones, Rt Hon Alec (Rhondda)Rowlands, Ted
Coleman, DonaldJones, Barry (East Flint)Sandelson, Neville
Cowans, HarryJones, Dan (Burnley)Sheerman, Barry
Crowther, J. S.Kaufman, Rt Hon GeraldSheldon, Rt Hon Robert (A'ton-u-L)
Cryer, BobKerr, RussellSkinner, Dennis
Cunliffe, LawrenceKinnock, NellSmith, Rt Hon J. (North Lanarkshire)
Dalyell, TamLambie, DavidSpriggs, Leslie
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)Lamborn, HarryStallard, A. W.
Davies, Ifor (Gower)Lamond, JamesStewart, Rt Hon Donald (W Isles)
Davis, Terry (B'rm'ham, Stechford)Leadbitter, TedStoddart, David
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)Leighton, RonaldStraw, Jack
Dempsey, JamesLewis, Ron (Carlisle)Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Dewar, DonaldLitherland, RobertTaylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton West)
Dixon, DonaldLofthouse, GeoffreyThorne, Stan (Preston South)
Dormand, JackLyons, Edward (Bradford West)Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Douglas, DickMcCartney, HughWainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Dubs, AlfredMcDonald, Dr OonaghWalker, Rt Hon Harold (Doncaster)
Dunwoody, Mrs. GwynethMcKay, Allen (Penistone)Watkins, David
Eastham, KenMcKelvey, WilliamWeetch, Ken
Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE)McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, Central)White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Ellis, Raymond (NE Derbyshire)McWilliam, JohnWigley, Dafydd
English, MichaelMagee, BryanWilley, Rt Hon Frederick
Evans, loan (Aberdare)Marshall, David (Gl'sgow, Shettles'n)Wilson, Gordon (Dundee East)
Ewing, HarryMarshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)Winnick, David
Faulds, AndrewMartin, Michael (Gl'gow, Springb'rn)Woolmer, Kenneth
Field, FrankMaxton, JohnYoung, David (Bolton East)
Fitch, AlanMaynard, Miss Joan
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)Mikardo, IanTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Foot, Rt Hon MichaelMitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen)Mr. Gavin Strang and
Forrester, JohnMorris, Rt Hon Alfred (Wythenshawe)Mr. Martin O'Neill.
Foulkes, GeorgeMorris, Rt Hon Charles (Openshaw)


Adley, RobertBruce-Gardyne, JohnFaith, Mrs Sheila
Alexander, RichardBuchanan-Smith, Hon AlickFarr, John
Ancram, MichaelBudgen, NickFenner, Mrs Peggy
Aspinwall, JackBurden, F. A.Fletcher-Cooke, Charles
Atkinson, David (B'mouth East)Butcher, JohnForman, Nigel
Beith, A. J.Cadbury, JocelynFraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford &St)
Bendall, VivianChapman, SydneyFraser, Peter (South Angus)
Benyon, W. (Buckingham)Clark, Hon Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)Galbraith, Hon T. G. D.
Berry, Hon AnthonyClark, Dr William (Croydon South)Garel-Jones, Tristan
Bevan, David GilroyCockeram, EricGlyn, Dr Alan
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnCope, JohnGoodhew, Victor
Biggs-Davison, JohnCorrie, JohnGow, Ian
Blackburn, JohnDorrell, StephenGower, Sir Raymond
Boscawen, Hon RobertDouglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesGreenway, Harry
Bottomley, Peter (Woolwich West)Dover, DenshoreGrimond, Rt Hon J.
Bowden, AndrewDunn, Robert (Dartford)Gummer, John Selwyn
Braine, Sir BernardEggar, TimothyHamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Brooke, Hon PeterElliott, Sir WilliamHaselhurst, Alan
Brotherton, MichaelFairbairn, NicholasHawksley, Warren
Brown, Michael (Brigg &Sc'thorpe)Fairgrieve, RussellHeddle, John

Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 13 (Motions for leave to bring in Bills and Nominations of select Committees at Commencement of Public Business):—

The House divided:Ayes 139, Noes 138.

Henderson, BarryMudd, DavidSproat, lain
Holland, Philip (Carlton)Murphy, ChristopherStanbrook, Ivor
Hordern, PeterMyles, DavidSteel, Rt Hon David
Howe, Rt Hon Sir GeoffreyNeale, GerrardStewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)Neubert, MichaelStewart, John (East Renfrewshire)
Hurd, Hon DouglasNewton, TonyStradling Thomas, J.
Johnson Smith, GeoffreyOnslow, CranleyTapsell, Peter
Jopling, Rt Hon MichaelOsborn, JohnThompson, Donald
Kaberry, Sir DonaldPage, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)
Kilfedder, James A.Parris, MatthewThornton, Malcolm
Kimball, MarcusPatten, Christopher (Bath)Townend, John (Bridlington)
Lang, IanPattie, GeoffreyTrippler, David
Langford-Holt, Sir JohnPawsey, Jamesvan Straubenzee, W. R.
Lawson, NigelPenhaligon, DavidWaddington, David
Lee, JohnPollock, AlexanderWainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
Le Marchant, SpencerPorter, GeorgeWakeham, John
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)Price, David (Eastleigh)Walker, Bill (Perth &E Perthshire)
MacGregor, JohnProctor, K. HarveyWaller, Gary
MacKay, John (Argyll)Rees-Davies, W. R.Ward, John
McQuarrie, AlbertRenton, TimWells, John (Maidstone)
Marland, PaulRoss, Stephen (Isle of Wight)Wheeler, John
Mayhew, PatrickSt. John-Stevas, Rt Hon NormanWhitney, Raymond
Meyer, Sir AnthonyShelton, William (Streatham)Williams, Delwyn (Montgomery)
Mills, lain (Meriden)Silvester, Fred
Moate, RogerSims, RogerTELLERS FOR THE NOES
Molyneux, JamesSkeet, T. H. H.Mr. Cyril Smith and
Morrison, Hon Charles (Devizes)Speller, TonyMr. Patrick Cormack
Morrison, Hon Peter (City of Chester)

Question accordingly agreed to.

Mr. David Lambie, Mr. Gavin Strang, Mr. Hugh D. Brown, Mr. Norman Buchan, Mr. Robert Hughes, Mr. Martin J. O'Neill, Mr. Norman Hogg, Mr. Jim Callaghan, Mr. George Foulkes, Mr. George Robertson Mr. Michael Martin, Mr. Harry Ewing, Mr. Dennis Skinner, Mr. Martin Flannery, Miss Joan Maynard, Mr. Don Dixon, Mr. Robert Parry, Mr. Frank Haynes, Mr. Neil Carmichael, Mr. Ian Campbell, and myself.

I counted carefully. I believe that the hon. Member read out the names of more than 12 Members. He is entitled to 12 sponsors. I think that mine was the only name that he left out.